My Top 10 Unreliable Narrators

The Strand Magazine asked me to write an article about my favorite unreliable narrators. I had fun writing about it, and thinking about all of these great characters. 

After writing my unreliable narrator Paul Strom in my book Best Day Ever, I’m often asked to name my favorite unreliable narrators out there who inspired me, whether I realized it at the time or not. We’re all unreliable narrators of sorts in our own lives, of course. Especially with social media – we can filter our lives and shade them however we’d like. Here are my top ten top unreliable narrators. I’m sure you have your own. Any truth is, of course, a matter of perspective, right?

1.     Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Probably the reason I’m having the opportunity to write this list for you, Gone Girl blew open the domestic suspense and unreliable narrator world with not one but two unreliable folks who happen to be married to each other. Nick and Amy were once in love, we think. This twisty tale is one of my favorites, and I’m sure, not a surprise for this list.

2.     The Dinner by Herman Koch

How do you read an entire book with an unlikeable narrator? What if he’s also unreliable? I feel a kindred spirit with this book because Paul Lohman is unsettling and nasty. You don’t like him, but that isn’t the point. For some reason in the states we’ve decided fictional characters can be flawed, but must be likable. This Paul is very flawed, and extremely unlikable. The story is built around secrets, and even as you read, you realize you may not want to know the truth.  

3.     The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Poor Rachel. Our guide in this brilliant story is an alcoholic, unemployed divorcee who commutes into London each day because she doesn’t want to admit she’s lost her job. That’s sad, of course, but what livens up this story is the writing, the descriptions of Rachel’s state of mind. We like Rachel, we root for her, even as we are sucked into the horror of what is actually happening.

4.     The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

What’s real and what is fantasy is the question in this beautiful tale. Unreliability could be the only way to survive reality in this gripping, beautiful movie.

5.     Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni

I still get choked up, all these years later, thinking of the love in this story. Our unreliable narrator here is an open-minded, Jewish librarian who has become a victim of the Holocaust with his son. The father uses a perfect mixture of humor and imagination to protect his son from the truth of their situation.

6.     Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (And, I should add read A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Conner)

It’s never a good idea to stick around the location of a murder. Especially if you’re the responsible party. In this short story, Poe demonstrates his mastery of suspense. And, because I only have ten, I’ve added another favorite short story to the mix. Have you read The Lottery?  It’s one of the most brilliantly chilling short stories you’ll read. Promise. The brilliance is the calm telling of the tale, despite the terror.

7.     American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Another scary example of an unpleasant, brutal narrator, like in The Dinner. Is he a successful investment banker or a psychopath? Did he kill and mutilate people, or not? An obvious satire about yuppie New York culture in the 1980s, this movie still has people guessing at the truth. In the end, the confession means nothing.

8.     The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

When I read this book, I was on a long airplane flight. I was mesmerized. Yunior tells a fascinating story but does he know more about the story of Oscar Wao than he should?

9.     The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

After a wild summer with Tom, Daisy and Gatsby, Nick Carraway’s story of these people and their excesses is told with an exasperated and blurry eye. How else could the story be told? “I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me . . .” Nick says. Anybody who tells you from page one that they are an objective observer most likely isn’t.

10.  Big Fish

I loved this movie. I know it’s not a traditional, dark unreliable narrator but when the dying Edward Bloom tells a story, I want to believe every word is true. If only his son would believe, too. While Edward’s son tries to learn the truth, we are treated to surreal and fabulous flashbacks. Was his life story filled with exaggeration? Probably. But the kernel of truth found in each tale is enough to make you love this unreliable narrator.

 

 

Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by RomoloTavani/iStock / Getty Images

BEST DAY EVER US and Canada Pub Day! Hooray!!

It seems like I've been waiting for this book, BEST DAY EVER, to be out in the world FOR FOREVER! And now, the day is finally here. It's a dream come true. I hope you'll consider giving BEST DAY EVER a read. 

I mean, BA Paris "loved" the book. This is what she said: "Had the best day ever reading Best Day Ever. Great narrator in Paul, LOVE his voice! Fabulous book." -B.A. Paris, New York Times  bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown

Who else liked it? Heather Gudenkauf said: "Best Day Ever could be the best thriller of the year." -Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of Not a Sound

PopSugar called it a must-read fall book, and Barnes & Noble lists it as a must-read. I'm thrilled by all of this support and cannot believe BEST DAY EVER was in Entertainment Weekly this week. Pinch me. If you find yourself in a bookstore, or perusing online, I hope you'll pick up a copy. It's a bright red cover wrapped around a labor of love. And hopefully, it will grab your attention for a day or two. 

Best Day Ever pre-launch party, Laguna Beach

American Library Association Conference 2017 in Chicago! WOW!

Librarians are the best! I had the chance to attend the ALA 2017 conference this weekend, and wow, what a special time. First, my publisher, Graydon House | Harlequin surprised me with a huge poster in the lobby, and a special dinner for librarians Friday night at a hip Chicago restaurant. Saturday was a book signing and a chance to meet even more librarians, and some authors who I've been friends with online - but got to meet in real life. Like, Jamie Raintree, (Perfectly Undone) one of my fellow Graydon House launch authors, and Margaret Dilloway who was signing her children's book in the Disney booth! On Sunday, J.T. Ellison (Lie to Me), A.F. Brady (The Blind) and I were on a panel hosted by Publisher's Weekly where we spoke about unreliable narrators and discovered the three of us have a blast together! I really enjoyed every moment - and feel so lucky to have a publisher who is excited about my book. It's a dream come true!

book signing at ALA.JPG
The big banner at ALA!!

The big banner at ALA!!

Book Expo 2017: A first-timer's report

Those of you in the know in the book world already know about Book Expo, aka BEA, the world's largest gathering of book people that takes place annually, usually in New York City at the Javit's Center. And of course, I've heard all about it every year since I began this fiction writing journey in 2011. I never dreamed I'd be invited to go by my publisher, Harlequin/Graydon House! When the invite came, I was thrilled. Imagine my complete surprise when I walked into the huge convention center and saw my book cover on a six-story high banner at the entrance lobby of the expo. It was one of the most exciting moments of my career. And then, once inside the Book Expo, the Harlequin booth showcased BEST DAY EVER in the most spectacular way. It was surreal, the entire weekend. It still is.

The best part of BEA? Meeting, in person, the team working so hard to publish and promote my book. Meeting, in person, some of the book bloggers and reviewers who have supported me over the years. And meeting, in person, some of my favorite authors. There really wasn't a moment of the experience that wasn't special. I hope if you're an author, and you dream of going to BEA, you have the chance someday. I will hold the memories of this experience in my heart, forever. 

Book Signing at BEA!

When a box of beautiful Advance Reader Editions arrives!

Exciting times over here, especially when I had the chance to hold the ARE of BEST DAY EVER in my hands! My biggest, and perhaps best, book baby ever. Even though the title doesn't publish until September 19th, my awesome publisher Graydon House, a new imprint coming this fall from Harper Collins/Harlequin, printed these gorgeous reader editions. I'm telling you, they're gorgeous, complete with French flaps, deckled edges, a textured cover and more. I'll be hosting a couple giveaways through my eNewsletter and Facebook page, so perhaps you will have the chance to hold one!

BEST DAY EVER is available for request on NetGalley and will be a Goodreads Giveaway during #mysteryweek, May 1-8! 

It's of course available for Pre-Order from all your favorite online retailers, and you'll be able to hold it, in hardcover, September 19th! Pinch me. This is all a dream come true!

 

 

BEST DAY EVER Advance Reader Editions

When Publishers Weekly reviews your book!!

It's a big day - and lucky for me - I didn't know it was even being read. Ha! After writing a dozen books, this is the first time I've had a PW review. So when I started reading the review, and realized it was positive, well, it was close to the BEST DAY EVER!

My favorite line: "A tensely written, shocking book that will hold readers on the edge of their seats to the very last page."

Woo hoo! 

Publishers Weekly review of BEST DAY EVER

Paris in the springtime - the stuff of dreams

I just returned from an amazing trip to Paris with my daughter. To say we had a magnificent time does not sum it up, but suffice it to say we both felt like we were living inside a dream the entire time we were there. We soaked up the beauty - the food, the art, the culture - and never ceased to glow along with the city of lights. Spectacular. I also had the chance to meet my French literary agent who is based in Paris. Her office overlooks the Garden du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful parks - and former palaces - in the city. Created beginning in 1612 by Marie de 'Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, this was her personal palace and gardens. And now, it just brings wonder to the world. My other favorite place to spend time on Paris' Left Bank is at the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, just across the Seine from Notre Dame. I love to imagine Hemingway and Fitzgerald wandering through the small store, imagining their books on the shelves there, knowing the original owner, an American named Sylvia Beach, had the power to make or break a writer's career. And she did. While in the store I bought a copy of HEMINGWAY IN LOVE a great book about Hemingway and his one true love, his first wife, Hadley. 

I hope your spring is off to a fabulous beginning - and that the best is yet to come. Here's a photo of me, and my French Literary Agent Victoria Villemur of the Anna Jarota Agency in Paris. THIS is all such a dream come true for me . . . 

Victoria Villemur of the Anna Jarota Agency, Paris, France
Paris in the spring

Exciting Cover and Imprint Reveal! Open the door to . . .

Graydon House Books!! I'm beyond thrilled to be a part of Harlequin's newest, coolest imprint and to share my fellow "launch" authors' covers with you, too! I can’t believe I finally get to share my new, amazing cover for BEST DAY EVER bursting into a bookstore near you on September 19th!

Here’s THE story of THE story:

Paul Strom, the book’s first person, male narrator appeared and told his story last winter. (I know, that sounds weird, but it’s true) By spring, my agent had read it – after some gentle prodding due to the male narrator – and by the summer, she’d sold it to Harlequin/HarperCollins’ new imprint, Graydon House Books. In July, I had the chance to meet my editor at Graydon House and some of the team supporting the book. Sometime about two months ago, I discovered BEST DAY EVER would be released as a HARDCOVER FICTION! Sorry for the exuberant caps, but truly, this is a dream come true for me and I just still cannot believe it.  #bestdayever

Here’s THE story:

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he's the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That's why he's planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he's promised today will be the best day ever. 

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for their weekend at the cottage? 

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.

(By the way, if you’re a blogger, on Eidelweiss or NetGalley, you’ll have a chance to read and review the novel. That’s cool, right? There already are several reviews on Goodreads….mostly good, which is a relief! Tough crowd over there ;-)

Here’s MY story:

For the rest of the spring, summer and fall, I’ll be focused on telling you about the journey of BEST DAY EVER. I’ll try to avoid hitting you over the head with reminders to PRE-ORDER TODAY because that would be really great if you would, but I know it’s early. (You won’t be sorry if you PRE-ORDER TODAY as price matches are guaranteed, just saying.)

Here’s a COOL HOLLYWOOD story:

I’ve never had a book to film agent – and now I do!! Michelle Kroes and Dilan Swain of CAA (yes, CAA!!!) are representing BEST DAY EVER!! I just really can't say anything more except - fingers crossed.

Oh, and here’s a COOL INTERNATIONAL story:

For the first time ever, for me, BEST DAY EVER will be published in hardback in Canada/US/UK/Australia – can you believe that??? I couldn’t. I’m so used to being an indie author that I never dreamed of an international print release. Wow! 

More soon! Happy cover reveal to all of my Graydon House family!! #bestdayever

Laguna Dreams, Laguna Beach Book 5, arrives today!!

Today’s a bittersweet book launch day for me! It’s sweet, because my latest contemporary romance novel, LAGUNA DREAMS, arrives in the world today. Bitter-ish, because, due to my new publisher and my pivot to writing domestic suspense, this will be my last romance novel for the year!

 

But that’s the thrill of the publishing world, really. I feel truly blessed to be working in the field of my dreams these past six years since my debut novel, HERE, HOME, HOPE came into the world. I’ve had the chance to meet amazing readers, fantastic writers and build a “second-act” career of my dreams. I was well on my path of releasing a women’s fiction novel once a year when I met Jane Porter, a fabulous author who publishes in both the women’s fiction and romance world. She convinced a somewhat reluctant me to give romance a try, and the result was WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON published in July of 2014. I’ve been writing romance, some say frenetically, ever since and loving every minute of it. Who doesn’t love happily ever after? Following the Indigo Island four-book series, I launched the Laguna Beach series set in my beautiful hometown. Today’s launch, LAGUNA DREAMS, is the culmination of both the series, and of my romance career. For now. Because who knows what the future holds. That’s the fun of the writer’s life.

 

LAGUNA DREAMS is the culmination of my Laguna Beach series, and of my romance-writing journey. It’s a happily ever after for my favorite characters, with a few bumps along the way. Amanda Crown is a reluctant Hollywood star looking for her future. Phillip Kensington’s wine business is booming, but his love life is a mess. These two meet by accident and sparks fly, but will he be able to take the steps necessary to make their dreams come true? I hope readers will enjoy LAGUNA DREAMS, available today in both eBook and audio book.

 

I’m so thankful for this chance to work in the publishing industry, for my friends in the romance world and women’s fiction world, including my Tall Poppy Writer team. And I’m so excited about the future thanks to my agent, Katie Shea Boutillier, and my publisher, Graydon House Books, a new imprint from Harlequin launching this fall. After today I’ll shift focus to my first Graydon House release, BEST DAY EVER, coming September 19th. As with all of my stories, romance and women’s fiction, BEST DAY EVER takes a look at what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. In this case, a domestic suspense tale where the perfect husband may not be what he seems.

 

All of this is my happily ever after. Thanks for sharing in it!

T

T

A new year, a wonderful travel insight

Travel broadens your perspective and opens your heart. It's almost like reading a novel - you step into a new world and by the end, you've learned about yourself, about others and hopefully, you're grown. Our recent trip to Cuba was no different. My family and I arrived on Christmas Day, not sure exactly what to expect. We'd visited the Carribean before, but never a place like this one with a grand past and a very hopeful future. Cuba is so much more than the fabulous 1950s American cars you ride in as you visit Havana. Start with Havana: it is historic, with an immense Spanish and European influence, like a street in any European city, just crumbling a bit. Music follows you everywhere in Havana and beyond and so does a bourgeoning sense of possibility. New restaurants - called paladars - are the most tangible, and gourmet, examples of the bubbling entrepreneurial spirit you feel everywhere. While people had warned us the food would be only rice and beans, we found the food in these family-run places to be fabulous. 

We had a chance to ride alongside the Cuban National Cycling team, exploring beautiful countryside filled with fields of tobacco and dotted with limestone mountains. (The painting below is by a local artist who lives in this majestic scenery.) My kids took a turn at bat at the world's oldest baseball stadium in the city of Matanzas, and surprised the Cuban team with a few impressive hits. We met farmers, tour guides, athletes, artists, musicians, shop owners, hotel clerks and chefs and without exception, they were welcoming to us Americans and hopeful relationships continue to thaw. I hope so, too.

I'll always remember the colors of Cuba and the people who live there. The chance to see a country stuck in time - but hoping for a bright future - is strangely apropos to the time we find ourselves in at the moment, this in-between president time. Like the Cubans, I will hope to be pleasantly surprised by 2017. 

Beautiful art capturing the colors of Cuba

On branding and going a little darker

The interesting thing about having a background in branding is that it's fairly easy for me to see other people's brands, and help them bring them to life. In fact, I wrote a whole book - REAL YOU INCORPORATED - about the process. But, just like the cobbler's children, when it came time for me to take a look at my brand, I froze. I mean, my stories have been "Sparkling with humor and heart" since 2011. I loved that tagline, and my happy Gerbera daisy, too. 

But, change can be good, too! I'm beyond excited for next September when my second domestic suspense novel, BEST DAY EVER, arrives in the world. I say second because it is. ALL THE DIFFERENCE was my first domestic suspense novel, but I've been forcing it under the "sparkling" branding all this time. (Sorry, ALL THE DIFFERENCE characters.)

But now, it's time for a change, a darker change. After consulting with my awesome agent, Katie, and my fabulous editor, Margo, I've figured out my shift and the stories I love to write. I am fascinated by what goes on behind closed doors in seemingly perfect lives. And truly, I've been writing about this all along: entitlement, narcissism, the push to overachievement, the destructive power of affluence and keeping up appearances. In HERE, HOME, HOPE, Kelly faces a midlife crisis and the novel also deals with eating disorders, adultery, suicide and ultimately, self empowerment. The young mother in IN THE MIRROR has her perfect life put on pause by a deadly disease. Themes include mental illness, the power of celebrity, divorce, adultery and attempted rape. As for THE GOODBYE YEAR, the question is about what it means to be a couple once your last child goes to college. Darker issues include divorce, bullying, drugs in school and the empty nest syndrome. The black widow in ALL THE DIFFERENCE is, obviously, a dark character. Even my short story, A MOTHER'S DAY, deals with one tragic event that changes the lives of three mothers forever. When I think about the story lines of my romance novels, of course there is darkness. How else can we appreciate the light, the happily ever after?

So, I guess, I've been sparkling and looking at the dark side of people all along. Suburban people, with strong women protagonists who overcome a lot to find real, true purpose. These places, these lives of luxury, can make you lose your anchor, your moral center. And that's where good stories begin.

BEST DAY EVER's arrival next year will signify an even darker shift, but hopefully, the light will sparkle through the story, too. My new tagline: Behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. My new imagery is a closed door. I like it. I hope you do, too.  

On going a little darker with story

Gratitude

When Andrea Katz asked me if I’d write a gratitude post for Great Thoughts, Great Readers I was honored. Especially in these tumultuous times, it’s important to focus on what is right in the world, what blessings we can count with glee. So in that spirit, here’s a round up of sorts of what I am thankful for this year. Hopefully, some of these are things blessing your life, too.

 

  • My family comes first. I’m blessed to have four amazing, creative, world-changing kids and a supportive, golf-obsessed husband who gave us a scare this summer with a health crisis. All’s good now, but it was a great reminder of the love that flows through our family, that we are a great team, and that good health is a blessing we too often take for granted.
  • I’m thankful for the ability to realize success is a continuum of highs and lows, and to act accordingly. It might just be maturity, although I hope I’ve always possessed the grace to celebrate other’s triumphs, because I know other authors’ successes don’t diminish my own. And I’m thankful for the ability to celebrate with joy when the publishing stars do happen to line up. Because again, overnight success is a misnomer and perseverance is the key to the writing life.
  • A renewed awakening of the women’s movement is an unexpected blessing this fall. Women’s rights are human rights. We’re galvanized as never before. I see it in my daughter’s eyes. The fire has been lit.
  • I’m thankful for the support of friends in my life. Life would be empty without them. In particular this year, my friend (and yours) Andrea who read a manuscript I was excited about, but that my literary agent wouldn’t read. Her positive push forced me to beg my agent to read the book, and a deal with Graydon House for BEST DAY EVER ensued. Of course, a note of thanks to my literary agent. I’m grateful to Katie, who stayed awake all night once she agreed to read the book, and submitted the next day.
  • Friends rock. And they are the foundation, to me, of blessings. Especially in hard times – empty nest, elections, you name it – I’d be lost without my girlfriends.
  • What can I say? Without you, this career wouldn’t exist. Your positive feedback, your support on social media, and your kind critiques make this writing life grand.
  • Writing THE GOODBYE YEAR helped me through my first empty nest year, and I’m so grateful for that. The publication of the novel in May provided me with the ability to focus on a book tour. An added blessing was focusing on the characters’ crazy messed up lives helped me talk less frequently to my dogs. I’m not saying I talk to my dogs during the day now that the four kids are off in the world. Well, maybe I am saying that. So I’m very thankful for my dogs, too. #emptynest
  • As I write this I’m at Miraval, a spectacular spa in Tucson, Arizona. In front of me, the Santa Catalina Mountains rise up to the sky, cacti of all types cover the grounds and a fountain gurgles in the courtyard. The entire focus of the place is life in balance. I believe balance is something you swing through on the way to something else, but stepping into a world devoted to peace, reflection and personal growth is perhaps one of life’s biggest blessings. The gift of time and reflection is something we, as women, don’t give to ourselves. Especially during the busy holiday season, take some time for you. You are your own biggest blessing. Treasure yourself.
  • I’m blessed to be a part of the amazing community of authors. It’s without a doubt the most incredible network of people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know ever. I’m astounded by your intelligence, creative insights, collaboration and support. Whether it’s the Tall Poppies, WFWA, or any number of social media groups I’m a part of, wow. It’s spectacular and I’m honored to consider you friends. Keep shining, even in the face of this new reality. We are stronger together, and we’ll prove it now more than ever.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you count your blessings this holiday season and that you have a chance to celebrate with those you love. Life, my friends, is a miracle.

 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein.

Laguna Beach Kindle World, Second Wave!

I'm so excited to welcome another group of authors who are writing books set in beautiful Laguna Beach! Each of these stories share one thing in common: setting. They also will relate to the original Laguna Beach series so you'll find your favorite characters making new friends! If you're looking for a great beach read, well, look no further than below! Enjoy!

The Lovely Laguna Beach Kindle World!

The Lovely Laguna Beach Kindle World!

If you're feeling stuck, head to nature

I just returned from a week in Yosemite National Park and if you haven't been, please put it on your bucket list. There really are few places on earth where reality exceeds your imagination - and this is one of those spots. Truly, it's hard to even express it in words.

     "At its best, the national park idea connects us to something larger than ourselves. To a gigantic living organism or the sweep of eons written in the sculptured granite of a beautiful valley."  ` Dayton Duncan

 

 

Remembering every minute counts

We've had a long summer at our house. I won't bore you with the details, but we've had a string of medical issues that have made me realize the blessing of good health. Sure, I have my issues - we all do - but when a near-death experience hits close to home, it gives you pause.

So this isn't a post about a new book or really anything book related. This is a post reminding you, if you are like me and forget sometimes, to cherish every day. Breathe deeply. Be thankful for the little things, and the big. Your heart. Your lungs. Your ability to read and to talk, to think and to love. These are the things we can take for granted, until we don't have them any longer. 

One of my son's best friends was in a catastrophic accident this spring, leaving him confined to a wheelchair (for now) but determined to make a full recovery. In a blink of an eye it happened. My sister-in-law's sister, a non-smoker, was recently diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Lung cancer is underfunded because people think all lung cancers are caused by smoking. In fact, non-smokers lung cancer is the fastest growing cancer among women and it is a deadly, diabolical disease. My husband went in for scheduled surgery and contracted the fastest spreading hospital-born superbug, C Diff, and almost died. The wife of a friend, a mother of four, is killed by a distracted driver. 

These things and more weigh on your heart. The near-misses, and the direct hits. There are more sorrows to share, but I won't. We all have them. So feel that breath you take, just now, and treasure it. When life gets busy, try to remember it's a gift.

All of it.

Every minute of it.  

The Laguna Beach Kindle World is out today!

Welcome back to Laguna Beach and to Kaira Rouda's Laguna Beach Kindle World! Introducing TEN brand new stories set in my favorite beach town! Each of these books has been written by a wonderful author friend. You'll want to read each and every one of these stand-alone stories. I LOVE the BEACH, don't you? Here's a rundown of each story! Enjoy!!

Reckless in Laguna by Barbara Ankram

He was the gardener’s brilliant son. She was the rich girl who loved him. But when Nio Reyes mysteriously left Laguna Beach ten years ago without a word of goodbye, he broke Becca Howard’s heart.  

Now, with Becca’s once wealthy family in ruins, their money gone, the ever sexy Nio has returned on the eve of their old friends’ beach wedding to undo the damage he left behind. With secrets and family lies still standing in their way, Becca has quit believing in happily-ever-afters.  

But one reckless, long-overdue weekend just might change everything. 

 

Lucky in Laguna by Rachelle Ayala

Dog walker Tally Tallahan has tried out for every reality show on the planet, but she’s never made the cut. She visits a former client, Laguna Nights star Laura Kincaid, to ask her to pull some strings.

Lucky Lenigan is lucky in everything except love. The shy scriptwriter writes for reality shows, but he is tongue-tied when it comes to romance. He bumps into Tally when she’s buying a lottery ticket with his lucky numbers.

Tally recognizes Lucky as the genius behind a number of high profile reality shows, and gets close to him so she could land a role. When a bigshot actor’s eyes and hands land all over Tally, Lucky is torn between wanting success for her and keeping her for himself.

Will Lucky be more than Tally’s lucky break? Or will she abandon him for a slice of celebrity life?

Laguna Beach Series Tie-In: Laura Kincaid and Tucker from Laguna Lights and Scott Cassidy from Laguna Sights appear in Lucky in Laguna.

 

Last Night in Laguna by C. M. Albert

Bexley Rue’s gypsy soul has always chased after her heart’s next fleeting desire, until her sister Vaughn’s terminal illness brings Bex’s carefree lifestyle to a screeching halt. 

Kai Donovan has only ever craved stability and love over everything else. His trip to Laguna Beach suddenly has him throwing caution to the wind for the one woman who could capture and break his heart—all in one night. 

Knowing she’s leaving the next day for a cross-country move, Bexley’s only looking for fun on her last night in Laguna. Until she meets Kai, who sparks such an intense attraction it has Bexley questioning everything. When Bexley’s world is cracked wide open with surprises from the past and complications for her future, are Kai’s feelings enough to finally get Bexley to face her fears and allow true love in for the first time? Or will her gypsy heart win out and have her chasing shadows once again? 

 

A Treasure in Laguna by Heather Hiestand

Add a dose of treasure hunting danger, mix in the excitement of finding true love when you least expect it, and you have A Treasure in Laguna ...

Failed teen reality TV star Crowe Erickson comes to Laguna Beach looking for gold, redemption, and a new treasure hunting reality TV show. What he finds is another kind of treasure: Jenny Craft, the sexy television star who was his first crush. 

While intrigued by his hunt for gold, Jenny left Hollywood and its shallow people far behind and is now running a successful restaurant of her own. She wants nothing to do with a younger, fame-seeking man. One bad day in front of the cameras cost Crowe his first career. But he’s determined that this time it isn’t going to cost him the girl.

 

One Night in Laguna by Melissa Keir

Schoolteacher, Melanie Whitman’s dating life is in shambles when her boyfriend and former boss dumps her. Her best friend arranges for Master Draikoh San, matchmaker extraordinaire, to provide her with a night to remember.

Breakout star of the third season of the reality TV show Laguna Nights Cole Hayes was burned by the limelight and started a family. After a messy divorce and looking to move back into the dating scene, he agrees to a one-night stand.

Can Cole and Melanie create a relationship that will last a lifetime, or will their one-night stand crash in the waves of Laguna Beach?

 

Lost in Laguna by K. N. Lee

Isla wanted nothing more than to return home after a bitter break-up with her fiancé. With her parents disowning her, she has no one to turn to but her best friend in Laguna Beach. A fresh start is all she needs, and time to mend her broken heart. What she didn’t expect was to return at the same time as Garrett Thorn.

Not only was he her first love, but she and his family had thought he had died while on active duty in Afghanistan. His return sparks a passion she never thought could be rekindled. They both face inner demons and their own fears. While once lost and without hope—they find themselves…together. 

 

Weddings in Laguna by Cheryl Phipps

Zach Dorn may be related to reality star royalty, but his life has never been an open book. Seeking security after a tour in Iraq, he follows his brother to Laguna Beach where he opens a wedding cruise business. When Blaine Carter, the curvaceous wedding planner, enters his life, Zach soon realizes his feelings for her are challenging his decision to stay unattached, and the heart he’d believed frozen is fast thawing out.

Blaine’s been burnt by love. Badly. Losing her business – her pride and joy – has scarred her. Now sexy Captain Dorn, is asking her to take a chance, on business and pleasure, and she’s running scared. How can she forget the past when it resembles the future in almost every way?

 

Sleepless in Laguna by Suzanne Rock

Kaylee Sharpe has one more radio interview to do before she’ll be able to leave the crazy Hollywood lifestyle behind. Normally such interviews are easy, but this one is with her ex-boyfriend-turned-shock-jock Mateo Salinas. Sexy and persuasive, he seems sincere when he tells her he’s changed. More than anything she wants to believe him, but can someone who makes a living being wild adjust to the calm, quiet world she craves?

Mateo has always regretted what happened between him and Kaylee in college. Back then, he was a first-class jerk, but now he’s different. Unfortunately, Kaylee only sees the insane radio show host, a persona he had created for his audience. To win her back he knows he must reveal the side he keeps hidden from the world, but doing so might cost him the one thing he holds most dear: his radio show.

 

Sunset in Laguna by Melanie Shawn

The artist who's lost her inspiration...

Cheyenne Burns is stuck. There's no other word for it. She hasn't created a new piece in over a year, and it's putting her career (and her identity!) in serious jeopardy. No matter what she tries, she just can't seem to shake free of her baggage and create. Needing a change of scenery to jumpstart her inspiration, she takes a sabbatical in the gorgeous artists' enclave of Laguna Beach. When she meets her sexy landlord, though, she realizes she might just get more out of the trip than she bargained for.

The writer who's lost his mojo...

Griff Hudson has been "working on his novel" for almost a decade, but the truth is, he's finished more bottles of Jack Daniels at his writing desk than he has pages. Guilt over his past has stolen hisvoice, and he sometimes wonders if he'll ever get it back. It's not until Cheyenne walks through his front gate that he thinks he might have finally found his muse.

Can Cheyenne and Griff let go of their pasts long enough to embrace their future—together?

 

True Love in Laguna by Lacey Wolfe

William Springs is jobless and single, something that would usually get a guy down, but it seems to be opening doors he didn’t expect. Visiting Laguna Beach for his cousin’s wedding, William meets a woman, capturing his interest at first sight.

Harper Powell has kept to herself since dating a reality star and getting dumped publicly. When meeting William at the hotel she works at, she is instantly attracted to the visiting stranger. He’s only in town temporarily, so this might be her chance to have some fun without getting hurt again.

When it’s time for William to leave, he isn’t sure he can. After all, there is nothing at home waiting for him, but in Laguna Beach, there is and her name is Harper.

 

 

Aren't these gorgeous? And great summer reading, too! Enjoy!

Where did the month of May go?

The last time I checked in via my blog, it was Mother’s Day, the first weekend of May. And now, it’s June. Wow! I’d love to share some of the wonderful things that happened in May. It was a great month, and I hope it was for you, too!

May 3rdThe Goodbye Year launched. And then went into a second printing. That was fun! Thank you if you bought a copy. If you haven’t, of course it isn’t too late! And while you’re at it, enter this great summer giveaway! Kate Spade beach bag and hat, The Goodbye Year, and The Admissions, by my cover blurb friend, Meg Mitchell Moore! Good luck!

 

May 12th: The debut of The Goodbye Year Gimlet at the Laguna Beach Books event celebrating the book! So much fun with family and friends! (We’re doing it again in Columbus, Ohio, on June 8th, sans the gimlets at the Barnes & Noble Tremont Road. Please join us!)

The Goodbye Year book launch!

 

May 17th: Well, that was my birthday. So yay me!!  This a photo of me with my two youngest sons and my husband! They brought me a bunch of my favorite flowers! So wonderful!

My birthday!

 

May 19th: The AudioBook for Laguna Nights launched, narrated by the lovely and talented Maureen Mrozek! Give it a listen if you’d like. I’m really proud of it! This is my first romance novel to be brought to life and right now, she’s working on Laguna Heights! If you’re an Audiobook fan you can also find Here, Home, Hope, All the Difference and In the Mirror as audiobooks. Just thought I’d let you know!

May 24th: My mom and my daughter share this birthday. Isn’t that cool? They’re both exceptional people and I love them  so much! My daughter is working hard on a movie in Hollywood, so we took the party to her, eating at her favorite restaurant: Crossroad Kitchen. Guess who else was there? Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. That was cool, but my daughter is cooler ;-).

My daughter

My daughter

 

May 27th: My husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. Talk about time flying! This is a photo of us at our wedding reception.

26 years ago

 

May 31st: THE BEST DAY EVER!! I can’t tell you everything yet, but I received an email from the publisher of my romance novels and The Trouble with Christmas is being considered for a TV movie! Can you believe that?? Yes, it’s a huge long shot, but it’s so fun to dream. Then another GREAT thing happened – still top secret. Next, book blogger Courtney with Bliss, Beauty and Books sent me a make-up bag of The Goodbye Year!! And then, my elementary school librarian, Mrs. Gardier, who is now 85, reached out to say she loves my books and is proud of me. Well, day made.

I can’t wait for June to unfold!! I hope you are having a great month so far!!

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Happy Mother's Day to All Moms

New moms, grandmoms, soon to be moms, and want to be moms! No matter the season, this day is for you! Enjoy!

I found this photo of my mom, standing next to me, looking into our future. So weird to think about all that is planned, all the dreams you have as a mom for your children. Looking together at what will unfold, with the only known constant being our forever connection of love.

To commemorate my own current stage of momdom, I wrote a piece that appeared in Redbook magazine describing what it’s like for a newly empty nesting mom. I hope you enjoy it.

What an Empty Nesting Mom Knows About Mother’s Day

When your kids are little, Mother’s Day is celebrated with a flourish. The teachers at school orchestrate heart-felt celebrations, making sure gifts and special poems and crafts arrive home from even the tiniest of preschoolers. Maybe, especially from those little ones: I think back to all of those little handprint crafts with such a warm heart.

One of my favorite things about the kids’ preschool was the Mother’s Day tea every year. The moms were invited to join their four-year-olds in class that day. We fashioned tea hats out of newspapers, ate special snacks cuddled next to our little people, and wiped away tears as they performed the Thank You Mom song.

Just remembering those days makes my eyes misty. I hope that if you’re a mom, you have had many similar memories like those to treasure. And if you’re still in the middle of the exhausting, wonderful, and magical time of toddlers and elementary school parenting, make sure you stop and appreciate the moments of Mother’s Day as they unfold: messy, creative, adorable and heart felt.

Because Mother’s Day changes as the kids grow older. As older elementary kids and middle school aged kids, they are still forced to acknowledge the day, whether by a teacher at school, another mom in the carpool, or a thoughtful spouse. At my home as the kids were growing up, I was lucky to have a husband who made sure I felt extra love from the four kids on Mother’s Day, even if it was just having them sign their names on a card. In high school, each Mother’s Day was greeted with varying degrees of effort and thought. One of my favorites was the time all four of my kids wrote a stanza of a poem and delivered it, rap-style, around the kitchen table. Priceless.

I’ve discovered, as with many things that empty nesting brings, Mother’s Day is different now. Sure I can console myself with the fact, thank goodness, that all four kids are happy, healthy and thriving. That’s the new form of a handprint – their happiness – but now I hold it in my heart instead of hanging it on the refrigerator.

Will the kids be home this first Sunday in May? Maybe, I’ll hope to see at least one, maybe two of them if I’m lucky. We’ll go to brunch, or walk on the beach, whatever they have time for. Because that’s what Mother’s Day truly becomes once your kids are grown: any day they have time to spend with you.

I’ll take a Mother’s Day any day of the week, any time of the day. Whether it’s a quick call from my daughter when she has a break during work, or a surprise visit by my college junior bringing his friends home for the weekend, that’s a special day. Do I want more time with the kids. Always. Being a mom, though, is a process of letting go from the time your baby is born. And so this, this empty nest stage is another step in the process. I know we love each other, even if they can’t be with me on Sunday. We’ll make up for it the next time we’re together, we’ll make it a Mother’s Day. Memories and moments are what matters now to make this mom’s day. I suppose that is what has mattered all along.

Kaira Rouda is the award-winning author of  “The Goodbye Year” who lives with her husband and four kids. Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.