New 4 Star Review on Goodreads and Amazon for UPON YOUR RETURN!

Here are the links on Amazon and Goodreads.

's review
Aug 31, 13

bookshelves: marie-lavender

This book is a historical romance set during the 1800's in France. I'm not really one who reads historical romance novels, but I did enjoy this one. Some of the words I didn't understand, because they were in french, but that didn't take away from the book. I loved the history of this book. I could really see the beautiful dresses, the horse driven carriages, and how big of an event the opera was.

All Fara wants is to find love, but society dictates otherwise. During that time, women didn't get to make their own choices, but Fara was bound and determined to make her own. She has a brain and definitely wants to use it. That was rather difficult while living with her uncle since he was so strict. She was afraid that she would have to marry without love. Her uncle is bound and determined to find her a suitable husband.

I liked Fara's character because she has a mind of her own and she does not care what society dictates. She is never disrespectful to her uncle even though he's not exactly the easiest person to live with.

Then under unforeseen circumstances, she meets Grant Hill, who is the Captain on his ship. She starts feeling something she has never felt before. Society dictate she should not act on those feelings. Based on what has happened, he becomes her protector. After she learns more about him, her feelings for him do not change. Grant is not the person she thought he was.

I liked Grant's character because he is always honorable and treats Fara with respect. He never expects more from her. He never dictates to her about society. All he wants to do is protect her.

Fara is then forced to go live with her aunt Lina. Lina takes her in and shows her nothing but warmth and love. This is something that Fara has not felt since she was with her parents.

I really liked Lina's character because she took Fara in and treated her as if she were her own daughter. Fara had been looking for this connection since she was a child.

This book was a great read and I look forward to reading future book from this author. 

New 5 Star Review for A MISPLACED LIFE!

This review can be found here, but I will post it below as well:

5.0 out of 5 stars Short but gets to the point quickly August 30, 2013
Although this is a fairly short story, the author does an excellent job of bringing the plot together in a very timely manner. I enjoyed how quickly the plot came together and finished.

Although I might have changed Alexa's ability to show herself to everyone sooner, it was great that she was finally able to get to the guy who killed her.

I have had a hard time in the past with short stories because I felt they were incomplete. I did not feel that way about his story.

It's a very strong read and one I would highly recommend. 

NEW REVIEW on Amazon!

Here is the Amazon link, but I will post it below too.

5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!, August 23, 2013


Allyson Michelle -

This review is from: Upon Your Return (Paperback)

I received this book thru the author for an honest review. First off I loved the cover. It's beautiful and fits this story! This is a love story set in the 1860's France. It's a sad, heartwarming & a beautiful story. Fara is orphaned and awarded to her uncle who will choose a husband for her. He choose a man who endangered her and she was rescued by a sea captain. I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't read it but this story has lots of twist and turns. I was hooked from the first chapter. I will be reading more books from Marie Lavender.

New poem...

What I Love

 I love us in our quiet moments, the careful sounds of breath filling the air.
I love twining my fingers with yours as we lay talking, it seems, for hours.
I love the look in your eyes, not quite brown but not quite green, as you look at me, as you kiss me, as you want me.
I love your total focus as you worship my body with yours.
I love hovering over that deep abyss, then crashing into it.
I love our connection – from the start it was like this – similar dreams, but different backgrounds, both needing so much to be loved – and we’ve found that.
I love the way you love with your whole body, with your whole soul.
I love the flutter I get in my chest when I first see you.
I love the way you pull me close just to reacquaint yourself with me; I feel so at peace.
I love the way you can make me laugh, even when I’m feeling sad, discouraged or angry.
I love your brilliance, the plethora of ideas that flow out of you.
I love your insecurities too.
I love you even when you tease.
I love your nonjudgmental eyes, your wonderful smile.
I love your strength and your quick wit.
But, most of all, I love your heart, for that is where I feel safe.  That I can always trust.

© 2013.  Soon to appear in Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings.

New Book Review for UPON YOUR RETURN on Readers' Favorite!

*This was originally posted here, but I will post it below as well.
 Star Star StarStar

 Upon Your Return
by Marie Lavender
Romance - Historical
353 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2013

Book Review 
Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite

Fara Bellamont has a problem; her uncle Michel. She returns to his estate as an adult, after being raised by nuns in Burgundy following the death of her parents. However, she discovers he is intent on finding her a husband -— whether she wants one or not. In Upon Your Return we get to know Fara right away and learn of her parents' death and her desire for a life of adventure. Fara is not at all like other young French women of the 1860s: she’s strong-willed and longs for independence. Marie Lavender does a great job of pulling the reader in from the very first word. Early in the story, Uncle Michel tells Fara of her engagement at her celebratory dinner, to a man she’d met only moments before. Enraged and guileless, Fara admits to Jean LaCroix that she does not love him and he arranges for her to meet a very unfortunate end.

And that is where we meet the handsome and mysterious Captain Grant Hill, who promptly steps in to save Fara from her tormentors and would-be captors. From the moment Fara and Grant meet, their relationship is filled with intrigue, friendship, witty banter, and simmering with sexual attraction. Upon Your Return offers us a different heroine in that Fara isn’t just a lady who doesn’t fit into her ‘station’ but she just wants to be acknowledged for her brain and have a certain level of independence. Marie Lavender does a great job of crafting a tale full of emotions and obstacles without being melodramatic. It was a fine twist of brilliance to have a feminist heroine with a strong hero who isn’t afraid of or intimidated by her strength.

Truly a wonderful historical romance guaranteed to reel readers in from the start. 

4 Star Review for Express Cafe and Other Ramblings!

*It originally posted here, but I will post it below as well.

Book Review
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

Express Cafe and Other Ramblings by Heather Crouse is a collection of stories dealing with human emotions and the path life takes. All the stories are different from one another but the theme is the same. Some of them are inspiring and some are ones with a motivational message. Though the stories and characters differ, they link to the same theme. The stories are simple and short, and easy to read. Readers will relate to this kind of writing.

There are a few poems as well, an addition which I found unique and appealing. It breaks the prose and gives a different voice to the book. It also amplifies the motivational tone of the book. The poem 'Taking A Moment' where the author speaks about being taken to the core of one's being is very inspiring and motivating.

Star Star Star Star Star
Express Cafe and Other Ramblings by Heather Crouse
Short Story - Fiction
140 Pages
Reviewed on 08/04/2013

New 5 star review on Amazon!

5.0 out of 5 stars

New to Historical Romance thanks to this story!!!, August 18, 2013


Johnnie-Marie Howard

This review is from: Upon Your Return (Kindle Edition)

I can honestly say that this was my 1st time reading a historical romance and I loved it...I couldn't put the book down it was good...I really liked how the main character tried hard to be a socialite at the same time being herself and falling in love.. I so felt bad for all the bad things that happened to her, child birth by herself unmarried, love of her life going away, almost being killed, raped... it was a really really great love story.

I'm actually really surprised that I liked it normally I would have stayed away from historical romance novels but this one just opened my mind up to a hole new view on that matter I guess you just need that extra push and a really great novel like this on to do that.

Let me see, Fara was this independent strong lady that tried to fit in no matter what and fell in love with the wrong type but in her eyes he was Mr. right. Grant was this hot Captain, who had a mysterious side to him and who also couldn't stay away from Fara. Fara's uncle was this big time jerk who wanted it his way or no way I really didn't care for him at all. Tante Lina was this great women who cared deeply about her niece and was a huge socialite that didn't care she was Fara's wisdom. Eric was the captain's right hand man who came in handy at the right times regardless what anyone says. It was a really great read I don't' know how much more I could say that it is very true.

It was great I could see myself reading this over and over again!!

Hands Tied: What Sells?

  What is the selling point of a book?  For you as a reader, what makes you purchase a book?  

Is it the smell of a book?  Maybe that sounds weird, but I know people who think new books have a certain smell.  Maybe it’s the texture.  Do you like holding a book in your hands?  Do you like the smooth texture of the cover?  

A lot has changed in the industry.  People don’t necessarily need to hold a physical book in their hands.  E-books are the craze.  You can read on your computer, your Ipod, even your phone these days.   So, what actually sells?  Or rather, what compels you to buy something?

Obviously, we know that branding is a big thing.  Having a big name in the industry always helps.  But, do you take as much of a chance on an unknown author?  If that is the case, why?  

Are you drawn to a cover because it has been designed well?  Is that the selling point?

Or are you drawn to the blurb, the description of a book?  I think as authors, we’d all like to think that our work speaks for itself.  That’s probably not the case.  It is tough out there.  And to survive, we have to promote like crazy.   But, even before you promote, what is the “selling point” of your book?  What will draw a reader in?

If you are an indie author, you may be concerned about how to sell your book.  Or do you feel your hands are “tied”, so to speak?  They are not.  You have a lot of control over the finished product.  

Okay, so let’s say you have written the book.  You have had it professionally edited.  And you want to publish.  Let’s say you’ve decided not to publish traditionally, not to bother submitting to numerous agents or publishers.  The competition is fierce.  We all know that.  It’s not impossible exactly, but for this article, I’m just going to assume you have decided to be an indie author.  Well, look how easy it is to enter the Kindle Direct program.  Just upload your file, fill in the details and presto!  You’re published.  

Well, before you even get to that point, you have to seriously consider your book’s appearance.  Are you going to use a standard Kindle cover (i.e. title and author and little else) or are you going to put some thought into it?  These days, you can buy a cover or have one made for a price.  Mostly you won’t see anything for less than $150 to $250.  But, that is for a very nice cover.  There are, however, cheaper options, but there are no promises.  You may still get a pretty basic cover, though the artist might have bothered to do flowery script.  I did run across a cheap option recently.  A colleague of mine decided to try it, and she seemed to like it.  I think there are $30 covers.  Yeah, that’s pretty cheap.  There are free options as well.  If you go through a service to distribute a paperback novel (LULU or CreateSpace), sometimes you can use their cover wizards to create something really good.  However, you have to find a good image somewhere online, and make sure you have the rights to use it.  Some sites I have used are, Stock Xchng (,,, Fotolia, Photobucket,  If you use or Shutterstock, you’ll probably have to pay for using their images.  You must, of course, still request permission to use the photo and credit the photographer as the cover artist.  And, you have accept the fact that some images will look more grainy while others will be perfect.  There is a bit of hit and miss to the whole thing.  But, there are cheap options.

The biggest question to ask in this process is…will this image correctly portray the vision of the book?  Will it convey an aspect of the character or explain a plot element graphically?  Is this cover visually appealing?  Will a reader like it?  All of these are complicated questions, but they do help in selecting the right cover.  Whether an author decides to buy/download an image or hire out to have the cover done, it has to be marketable.

So, readers, what about a cover makes you want to purchase a book?  If you’re a romance reader, do you want to see a couple or something romantic?  If erotica, does it need to be sexy?  If it’s science fiction, does it need to fit the genre?  Well, of course.    

I think a cover is a good selling point.  I know it is for me.  But, I don’t rely entirely on that as a reader.  I want to be drawn to the blurb as well.  The description of the book is nearly as important as the cover.  If it doesn’t appeal to readers, then why bother?  Do you want to read a blurb/synopsis that is full of typos or makes little sense?  No, probably not.  These days, even in traditional publishing, we tend to have to write our own blurbs (I guess only the big wigs hire out for that now).  LOL.  So, you want to convey what happens in the story without giving spoilers away.  Entice the reader, but be realistic about the description.  Promise, and deliver.

So, before you hit ‘publish’, these things should be considered.  What sells?

I’d like your input too, readers.  What appeals to you?  What makes you pick up a book at a store?  Maybe the title grabs you.  That is a good part of it.  The blurb and cover should as well.  

And if you’re an indie author, you have to make your book competitive.  So, what will you do to make that happen?  If you care about your work, you’re going to put as much care into its appearance.  

I will post my covers below.  I hope I have made them appealing enough.  I, like my stories, am a work in progress.  I learn more about this business every day.  It has been an exciting adventure, and I wouldn’t take any of it back.  Happy reading, readers!  And authors, I hope I have given you something to think about.  :)

Books written as Marie Lavender

 Books written as Erica Sutherhome

Books written as Kathryn Layne

Books written as Heather Crouse

Interview on Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains

This is the original post, but I will put it below as well.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Saturday Storyteller Interview: Marie Lavender

Please welcome Marie to our blog today as she talks heroes and turn ons!
What’s your name and where do you come from?   
My name is Marie Lavender.  I live in the Midwest with my family and three cats.
Tell us a bit about your latest release.  
My latest book is Upon Your Return.  It is a historical romance set in France in the 1860s.  It is the first book of the Heiresses in Love series.
How do you go about creating the perfect "Swoon" worthy man?  
Each hero’s characteristics really come out as I’m writing the story.  I may be inspired by a picture or someone I saw, but mainly what the man looks like just comes from my imagination.
What’s your biggest turn on?  
I have a thing for accents.  Don’t get me started.  When I watch a movie with a hot man who also has an accent, that just makes me sigh a little.
What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?
I love flowers and chocolates as much as the next person.  But, I like the small things too, the things that let you know a man really cares.  Probably the most romantic thing a man has done for me is to listen and to care about what matters to me.
What do you do to unwind and relax?  
Occasionally, I will watch a TV show or movie.  But, most of the time, if I have a free moment, I read a good book.
What trait do you find the sexiest?
You mean, besides a nice body?  I think a man with a sense of humor is very appealing.
How do you decide how hot or not your book is going to be?
I really don’t.  It just comes out that way.  A lot of it has to do with the characters and if their personalities warrant such description.  Some of my books are hotter than others, I will admit.
Is the stuff you write about from experience or mostly imagination?
I would say a lot of it is imagination, but if you spoke to my fiancé or someone who knew me well, they say a lot of me comes out in my characters.  I have definitely had certain experiences which have shaped the way I view romantic love.  So, possibly it is a little of both.
What’s your idea of a perfect romantic evening?
Dinner, a movie and cuddling with my fiancé.
Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life.  But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms.  Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society...
Purchase Upon Your Return from Amazon and Solstice Publishing.

Interview on the Meet the Author blog!

*This originally posted here, but I will put it below as well.

Marie Lavender



Indiana / U.S.A.


Age:  32 years old


Question:  How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since the age of nine.

Question:  What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?

I first published a book in 2010'.  It was titled "Express Café and Other Ramblings". 

Question:  Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?

I self-published it under a pen name.

Question:  Tell our readers about this very first book.  (For example:  What was the inspiration for writing it, and what was it about)?

Basically, I wanted to compile all of my short stories and poems together into one book.  It was an anthology.  There is no specific theme to the book though.  Most of the stories are literary fiction.

Question:  Can a person still buy this book?  If so, where?

Yes, it is available on LULU and Amazon.

Question:  How many total books have you published?

I have published 16 books.

Question:  List all of your titles

Marie Lavender: "Upon Your Return"

Erica Sutherhome: "Hard to Get"; "Memories"; "A Hint of Scandal"; "Without You"; "Strange Heat"; "Terror in the Night"; "Haunted"; "Pursuit"; "Perfect Game"; "A Touch of Dawn"; "Ransom"

Kathryn Layne: "A Misplaced Life"

Heather Crouse: "Express Café and Other Ramblings"; "Ramblings, Musings and Other Things"; "Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things"

Question:  Any future writing projects in the works?  If so, tell us about it, and any pertinent dates to go with it.

I am working on the sequel to "Upon Your Return", my current release.  I am also doing a romantic suspense with a writing partner.  Coincidentally, I have decided to merge my first three books together into one anthology, and it will be titled "Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings".  I hope to have that out sometime this year.

Question:  What is the title of your current book, and tell us a little about it.

"Upon Your Return" is my current book.  It is also my first traditionally published book.  It is a historical romance about a girl who dreams big in a time where the lives of women are already planned.  She finds her match in a man who is not her suitor, but actually a captain.

Last question, if someone comes across this article and reads it, what would you like to tell them about why you think they should try reading your book or books? (Basically, what can you offer them in the way of information or entertainment)?

I think my characters are very human.  People can relate to their experiences.

Anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask you, but you would like to share with our readers?

Fear not.  I plan to re-release all of my books under one name!

You can follow Marie Lavender at her various sites below

Blog Writer's Note to Author:  Boy, it seems like you've been at this awhile.  It's quite obvious to me that you have a great love for writing.  It also seems to me that you've obviously paid your dues, and I'm glad you are now published by a traditional publisher. I want to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog, and I wish you all the best in the future with your current book and anything else that should follow it.

Taking a Break from MLB

Yes, readers, that's right. I'm on hiatus for a while. I know I haven't posted for a bit, and that's really the reason why I...