Book Review, Giveaway AND Guest Post: In Another Life, by Julie Christine Johnson

In Another LifeJulie Christine Johnson

on Tour March 1-10 with

In Another Life

(Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/
Release date: February 2, 2016
at Sourcebooks
368 pages
ISBN: 978-2954168197
Website | Goodreads

Read the GUEST POST here.


Historian Lia Carrer has finally returned to southern France, determined to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. But instead of finding solace in the region’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, she falls in love with Raoul, a man whose very existence challenges everything she knows about life–and about her husband’s death. As Raoul reveals the story of his past to Lia, she becomes entangled in the echoes of an ancient murder, resulting in a haunting and suspenseful journey that reminds Lia that the dead may not be as far from us as we think. Steeped in the rich history and romantic landscape of the Languedoc region, In Another Life is a story of love that conquers time and the lost loves that haunt us all.


This book kept me absolutely intrigued all the way through, wondering at what was real and what was not, and what was going to happen. I read a lot of books, and this one was fascinating. There’s something about the combination of historical fiction, with the touch of the supernatural, that I really enjoy. Rather like the classic Anya Seton novel “Green Darkness” (which also involves a sort of ‘time travel’ in history, and past lives).

Lia’s grief was very well portrayed, and I felt bad for her, and already from the first paragraphs, wanting for things to go well. Of course, they don’t, and the ensuing tangles kept me reading late into the night, wanting to know what happened next.

I’m trying to think of what I could say about the book without giving too much away. The history goes back to Templar times, so it’s quite a range, and I learned a lot about history as well as being entertained by the book. I think readers of books like Outlander, and the aforementioned Green Darkness, would really like this one. I’m already planning to recommend it to several people.

Don’t forget to read the author’s guest post, here, and to scroll down to enter the giveaway (below).


In Another Life- Julie Christine Johnson

Photo by Al Bergstein


Julie Christine Johnson
is the author of the novels In Another Life
(February 2016, Sourcebooks Landmark)
and The Crows of Beara (September 2017, Ashland Creek Press).
Her short stories and essays have appeared in several journals,
including Emerge Literary Journal, Mud Season Review;
Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim;
Cobalt, the anthologies Stories for Sendai;
Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers;
and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss
and featured on the flash fiction podcast, No Extra Words.
She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology
and a Masterís in International Affairs.
A runner, hiker, and wine geek,
Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington state
with her husband.
In Another Life is her first novel.


Visit Julieís website and blog
Follow Julie Christine Johnson on Twitter | on Facebook
Sign up to receive her Newsletter.


Global giveaway open to US residents only:
5 participants will each win a print copy of this book.

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]



In Another Life Banner

Guest Post: Divine Sparks, by Julie Christine Johnson, author of “In Another Life”

In Another LifeJulie Christine Johnson

on Tour March 1-10 with

In Another Life

(Historical Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction/
Release date: February 2, 2016
at Sourcebooks
368 pages
ISBN: 978-2954168197
Website | Goodreads

Divine Sparks
Julie Christine Johnson

“Certain bodies… become luminous when heated. Their luminosity disappears after some time, but the capacity of becoming luminous afresh through heat is restored to them by the action of a spark, and also by the action of radium.” ~ Marie Curie

I’d been warned by authors who’ve launched many a book before me that the muse would flee in the weeks and months leading up to and following the release of In Another Life; all my energy would be taken up by the demands of supporting my book virtually and in person. It would need to be nudged along, out of the nest, set free to soar on its own, but I’d need to remain close by, watching, guiding, occasionally letting the book draft behind my lead.

And to be sure, these past weeks have been filled with a busyness bordering on frantic. There’s a sense that no matter what I do, it, it isn’t enough. And then there is a novel I’m on deadline to revise. So I carefully apportion my time and energy, reminding myself to focus, to breathe, not to skip yoga or a hike or making dinner or folding the laundry—the meditative, restorative, ya-ya releasing activities that take me out of mental chaos into the sweet comfort of routine.

One of the unintended consequences of writing/talking about my book’s subject matter, its themes, the research, characters, setting and inspiration, is to be enthralled again by the Cathars, Languedoc, the tangle of history and geography, the wonder of an afterlife that weaves reincarnation with redemption with angels with good and evil and all the layers in-between.

And somewhere in those layers, my imagination, my writer’s soul, continues to work, digging in, excavating, uncovering ideas and holding them in her hand, like tiny embers just waiting for the breath of words to burst into the flame of a story.

In this time, when my attention and energy is as far from the blank page as it’s been since I committed to a writer’s life, a torrent of sparks has burst into the air.  A character has risen—a bit wobbly and unformed, a slip of clay that needs other elements to take solid form—but she is there, complex, a little feverish with her own possibility.

And then came a scribble on scrap paper, an opening line of humor for my upcoming author readings. I pulled my pen away and laughed for a different reason. I’d just released an idea that I may love. A story idea crazywonderfulsparklethisisnutsbutiloveityesyesyes 

The Cathars regarded stars as divine sparks—angels if you will—created by one fallen angel from the crown of another who had dominion over the waters of the earth. From half the crown, the Fallen Angel made the light of the moon and from the other half he created starlight.

Somehow, that starlight-moonlight illuminated the parts of me gone dark in this rushed and anxious and excited time. Though I can’t pull away just yet to follow the tendrils of light, I no longer fear the luminosity will fade. I hold the divine spark in my hands.


In Another Life Banner

Guest Post & Giveaway from Frédérique Molay, author of CROSSING THE LINE, the new Sirsky novel

Crossing the Line cover

For the giveaway, skip to the widget below. Enter to win a paperback copy of CROSSING THE LINE (US residents only) or an ebook copy (international). And don’t miss Ms. Molay’s guest post, and my review of the book, the latest translated in the Nico Sirsky novels, known as the Paris Homicide Series, from Le French Book.


It’s Christmas in Paris and Chief of Police Nico Sirsky has an uneasy feeling that something is very wrong with the case he’s investigating. He and his team of crack homicide detectives follow the clues from an apparent suicide, to an apparent accident, to an all-out murder as an intricate machination starts breaking down. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil?

The Funny Thing About Mysteries
Frédérique Molay

Crossing The Line-Frederique MolayAward-winning novelist Frédérique Molay brings us another mystery in her Paris Homicide series—Crossing the Line, which hits bookstores on September 23. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and raring to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil? Here she talks about the mystery genre.

The funny think about mysteries is that although some misguided souls still sometimes consider the genre to be marginal as far as “literature” goes, mystery novels very actively feed all the other art forms from movies, television, graphic novels and plays to painting and so much more. They touch us in many way, have a long history and a bright future.

Traditionally, the genre’s paternity is attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, with his short stories written in 1841, Murders in the Rue Morgue. Some people, particularly the French, like to remind readers that Honoré de Balzac wrote Murky Business the same year. Bets are still open on Balzac vs. Poe, and academics still quarrel over it. What counts though is that the genre has been booming since the nineteenth century and today, authors around the world are inventing their own heroes based on their country’s history, social realities, culture and own literary genius.

Like the genre, heroes in detective fiction have evolved as well, mostly because the world around them has changed. There are more heroines. Macho, die-hard heroes are a thing of the past. Femmes fatales and docile wives are also long gone, and female characters are independent and determined.

Of course, crime novels have changed because crime too has changed. The transformation of heroes is on par with that of the villains. A new kind of criminal has arisen—they are as unpredictable and hard to grasp as the world they reflect. These psycho-killers choose their victims randomly, following their urges. Add to that the wide-spread growth of organized crime to the most unsuspecting places and benefiting from considerable protection and immunity, and there is a lot of inspiration. I could go on. Clearly, the mystery genre has a bright future ahead of it.

My Review

To take a line from Frédérique Molay’s post above, a new kind of criminal has arisen, unpredictable and hard to grasp. The villain in her first book fit this description, as does the one in this novel. But I don’t want to say too much about the villain, in fear of giving something away, so I will leave them be, and talk more about the book itself.

It begins with an anatomy lab and a class of dental students, learning how to do surgery upon cadavers (just the heads). Grotesque, but intriguing, becoming more so when a student finds a head with a very poorly done filling, and brings it to the attention of the prof and the anatomy lab. A closer examination reveals a piece of plastic embedded in the tooth; it reads ‘I was murdered.’ Now, if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what would. ;)

Having been in an anatomy lab, and smelled that smell, the scene was quite vivid for me (though I had been there for an anatomical drawing class, and did not draw heads), and it reminded me partly of the anatomy lesson scenes in Lars von Trier’s ‘Riget’. Crinkling my nose remembering that smell, I read on, and found that I couldn’t put the book down.

The connections between characters and to the finale were artfully done, subtle enough that it kept me guessing. I love mystery novels where it isn’t obvious who the villain is, or how/why they’ve done what they’ve done. Slowly the pieces came together as Sirsky and his team investigated, and though I did guess a couple of chapters ahead of the big reveal, I was still quite satisfied.

I’m looking forward to the next in the series, and hope that Le French Book will continue to put out these fantastic translations.

Crossing The Line
[police procedural / thriller]
(translated by Anne TRAGER)

Release date: September 23, 2014
at Le French Book

224 pages
ISBN: 978-1939474148

Website | Goodreads


Crossing The Line banner

Check out the Queer Romance Month site!

Coming in October, there will be a ton of posts for Queer Romance Month!

And, you’ll get to hear from myself and Cathy Pegau as we chat about how we got to writing lesbian and bi romance.

In the meantime, check out the site, and get ready for some fun!


It’s France Book Tours’ 1st anniversary! There are giveaways!

France Book Tours Banner 1st anniversary

France Book Tours is celebrating
its first anniversary
on April 18!


France Book Tours has been thrilled to present amazing books related to France for a year.
To thank the authors who submitted their books and the bloggers who read and reviewed them, France Book Tours organizes a mega giveaway from April 18-25!
Depending on the number of entries in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page, they may give away up to 10 books, so spread the word!
The winners will be chosen on April 26.

Here are all the books available to win! Click on each cover to know more about it.

Please note what format the book is available in.
Note also that some books are only available for US/Canada residents.
If nothing is specified, it means you can receive the ebook or the print copy where ever you live.

Historical fiction

Spirit of Lost Angels Wolfsangel_CoverFinal Becoming Josephine

Spirit of Angels = print + ecopy
Wolfsangel = print + ecopy
Becoming Josephine = print for US/Canada only

Unravelled Ambitious Madame Bonap

Unravelled = print
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte = print for US/Canada only


The Paris Lawyer The Mona Lisa Speaks

The Paris Lawyer = print for US/Canada only + ecopy
The Mona Lisa Speaks = print for US/Canada only + ecopy


I see London cover Paris Rue des Martyrs - cover final

I See London I See France = print for US/Canada only
Paris, Rue Des Martyrs = ecopy


The Paris Game Moonlight & LoveSongs City of Jasmine

The Paris Game = ebook
Moonlight & Love Songs = ebook
City of Jasmine = signed print copy for US/Canada only

Promise of Provence

The Promise of Provence = ecopy

Nonfiction – memoir

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl - cover

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl = ecopy


April 23 at 5pm Central Time

Spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review & Guest Post: Jenny Lyn, and her new book RIVER RECKONING

RiverR1mHaving found out that the most excellent Jenny Lyn has a new book out (River Reckoning: Trouble in Trespass), I was delighted to be able to read it, and write a review. Plus, Jenny was happy to come by and talk about the setting of the story, which I found rather interesting. Mind you, I have no experience of swamps or alligators!

I finished this book in an evening. It’s not short, but I couldn’t put it down. It didn’t take long for me to get into the book, the author had me from the moment Bond reveals that her name is because of a film (and no, not James Bond). Add in the swampy South, and I was set. (I’d read a couple of Intrigues by Jana de Leon set in the South as well, and this book reminded me a bit of them, though those were set in Louisiana, I think.) Mix this in with corruption, bribery, stalker-ex boyfriends, and a couple of delectable US Marshals, and it’s just about perfect.

It’s apparently first in a series, but for those of you worried about cliffhanger endings — don’t be. Unlike a lot of romance novels these days, this one has a good solid ending, satisfying my needs perfectly.

And here is Jenny:

Alyssa mentioned in her review of River Reckoning that she liked that the story wasn’t set in NYC or some other big city. I’ve always known a good portion of my books would be set in small southern towns. After all, it’s what I know. The town of Trespass is fictional, but it’s a mash-up of several places I’m very familiar with since I live in Florida. Plus, the Suwannee River is not far from my house, so I know how beautiful it is because I’ve experienced it firsthand. My dad and I used to fish on the Suwannee. I’ve spent what felt like entire summers water skiing and swimming in it. I’ve been to its headwaters in the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia. I’ve also seen the alligators and the snakes Bond teases Nathan about. They really do grow to be monsters. Unfortunately, there are families like the Kyles, too, but that’s the case anywhere you go.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting a story in a big city, but small towns just hold more charm and appeal for me as a setting. There’s more to work with when everyone knows their neighbors, both good and bad. Being intimately familiar with the backdrop of my story helps me keep things authentic. Sure, I could bluff my way through a book set in Chicago or New York, but I can guarantee you I won’t get the tiny details right. It’s impossible if you haven’t spent a great deal of time there. I’d rather set it somewhere that I’m comfortable with, that I honestly love and know well, and maybe make you want to come for a visit. If you read the book (and I hope you will), let me know what you thought!


Bond Mason’s roots run deep in the backwoods hamlet of Trespass, Florida. Nestled against the banks of the Suwannee River, the only home she’s ever known holds bittersweet memories of a family long gone. Except one of her ghosts isn’t dead and possessive ex-lover James Kyle wants her back.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Nathan Gates sights are set on capturing fugitive Robert Kyle. Wanted for the cold-blooded murder of a DEA agent, Robert is suspected of being hidden away with his moonshine-brewing, marijuana-growing family of fellow lawbreakers, one of which is his brother, James.

Nathan expected high temperatures when he arrived in Trespass. What he hadn’t counted on is his searing attraction to southern beauty Bond Mason. She winds him around her finger like a tendril of Spanish moss, but his lawman’s intuition tells him she’s hiding secrets too. When he finally convinces her to talk, he’s not prepared for the dark truths she reveals about her hometown.

The Suwannee is deep, but Trespass’s sins run much deeper. For once, Nathan might be in over his head.

About Jenny Lyn:

I started reading when I was four, thanks to a babysitter who found out the only way to get me to sit still was to put a book in my hand. By the time I entered kindergarten, I’d blown through just about every Little Golden Book ever printed. Ten years later, much to my mother’s dismay, I found her stash of paperback romance novels. She tried to divert me back to something more chaste by buying me Harlequins, but I still snuck copies of her Kathleen Woodiwiss’s and Johanna Lindsey’s when she wasn’t looking. Shanna, The Flame and the Flower, and Fires of Winter will always hold special places in my heart because they introduced me to roguish heroes, headstrong heroines, and the trouble they could get into together.

I live in a swampy little corner of north-central Florida with my family, both the two-legged and four-legged variety. I love to read, run hot and cold in regards to cooking, and I never miss an episode of Justified, Longmire, or Dexter. I guess I like justice in all its various forms.

Buy the book!


Guest Post: Patricia Sands, author of ‘The Promise of Provence’


Alyssa, when I saw your tagline I wanted to make plans to meet you for a café au lait and talk about all things French. Tout de suite!

Thanks so much for inviting me over for a virtual chat. I guess that will have to do for now ~ passing a plate of madeleines, hot out of the oven ~.

Since you and I share a love of all things French, I thought perhaps your readers would like to see a small sampling of why feel like we do. With your permission, I’m going to ‘focus’ on the south of France.

Apart from being surrounded by history that lives on amidst breathtaking vistas and vegetation, all of which I photograph with endless pleasure,

for me, it’s also about the windows …

windows1 windows2 windows3

And the doors …

door-lock door1 door2 The hilltop villages …


The sparkling Mediterranean …

coast1 coast2

And the vibrant combination of colour and hues at every turn …

coast3 dining spices

Do you take a lot of photographs when you travel? Is there particular subject matter on which you focus or do you shoot with joyful abandon? Don’t you just love digital photography?

After seeing your photos, Patricia, I really want to visit Provence, and the Mediterranean! But I’ll soon be going to Paris, and will have lots of photographs to post from my travels! :)

The Promise of ProvenceAbout ‘The Promise of Provence':

Surprise, shock, and a shift in life as she knows it tumble into Katherine Price’s world when least expected. The future she envisioned suddenly vanishes, leaving little to focus on beyond her career and the caregiving her elderly widowed mother might require.

Fate has other plans for Katherine.

June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves. Ancient hilltop villages beckon. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

As Katherine explores the romantic cobblestone lanes of medieval towns, the beautiful boulevards of Paris and the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast of the Côte d’Azur, unimagined possibilities present themselves.

An enduring story of hope and change in life’s later years is woven through the author’s love-letter to France. Like a well-travelled friend, Patricia Sands invites readers into a world she loves and entices them to linger.

“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.” Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma

Buy The Promise of Provence on Amazon:

Visit Patricia Sands online:

(My review of Patricia’s book is forthcoming.)

Guest Post: Brenda Sinclair’s ‘Love to the Rescue’

eCoverFinalMD-LoveToTheRescue-1-200x300For almost two years, Amy MacArthur has mourned her husband’s untimely death, vowing to never love another. Now, after surviving a burglary, Amy welcomes a new man into her life, the handsome police officer who attended the B and E at her home.

Frightened by the intruder’s ugly threats, Amy adopts an abused rescue dog for companionship and protection while hoping to heal the animal’s damaged spirit. In turn, could her new pet help a depressed child recover from a devastating loss?

The new additions to her life are stirring a renewed desire to fulfill her fondest wish: a family of her own.  But Amy is torn between preserving her husband’s memory and pursuing a new love. Is her heart willing to risk the devastating pain of losing a loved one again?

Or is she just one catastrophe away from losing it all?

ALP: Welcome, Brenda! Please introduce yourself.

BRENDA: Firstly, thank you for having me today, Alyssa. Well, we both live in Calgary, Canada so you know what a great city this is. My husband and a slightly spoiled Bichon Shih Tzu named Kelly live with me. I have two grown sons and three grandchildren. I write contemporary and western historical romance, and I love animals, especially small fluffy dogs.

ALP: You’ve chosen Calgary for the setting of Love To The Rescue.  Was there any particular reason why?

BRENDA: As you know, this is a vibrant city and most of the population of North America has heard of Calgary, Canada due in large part to the world famous Calgary Stampede held every July in our fair city. Calgary is head office to innumerable large corporations and is a hub for business and commerce.  Also there have been several movies starring big name Hollywood actors filmed around Calgary in the foothills of the Rockies. Mostly, my stories have been set in a U.S. location. Montana is a popular setting, and Calgary was a nice change.

ALP: Any other reasons?

BRENDA: I didn’t have far to travel to complete my research for the story. One of the people I interviewed was Tiffany Nelson, owner of four beautiful Irish setters—two adult dogs and two puppies. Those puppies had more energy than Planters has peanuts. But what beautiful dogs! Just like Rover.

Also, Calgary is a great place to live and to work and to write novels.  Several scenes in the story occur outdoors in the summertime—grilling out in the backyard on a hot Friday night and a Labor Day party in the backyard. Of course, there is a devastating fire scene set in mid-December so our snowy season is mentioned as well. In fact, you would probably agree that for the most part Calgary winters are fairly mild. People enjoy skiing and skating and outdoor walks all winter long. And a lot of the fluffy white stuff melts between snowfalls and blizzards. This trail is in beautiful Fish Creek Park in SW Calgary, a favorite place for walks in both summer and winter.

ALP: In Love To The Rescue your heroine is a romance writer. Is there a bit of you in Amy?

BRENDA: A little bit, profession-wise, and Amy and I are not morning people!  We both love the luxury of writing full-time which enables us to eat when we want, write when we want, and sleep when we want. We both love kids and motherhood and entertaining family during the holidays. But she’s a young widow whereas I’ve been married to the same guy for over forty years. Amy is a survivor and she’s overcome two devastating losses to drunk drivers in her lifetime. I can only imagine how difficult that would be.  And we are both quite organized people.

ALP: Organized in what way?

BRENDA: My life must be relatively organized for me to function. I totally admit to being a list maker. In fact, my husband has teased me about this habit for as long as we’ve been together. I make lists for everything: trips to the grocery store, things to pack for a vacation, jobs to do for spring or fall cleaning.  The list of lists is endless. And I firmly believe in goal setting, so every January I make a list of goals for the New Year.

ALP: Are you one of these New Year’s resolutions people?

BRENDA: Not so much resolutions as goals. Resolutions are too easily broken and then they’re done with. But there’s no absolute time limit on a goal. If you don’t attain the goal when you first hoped, revamp the goal with a new timeline. You can spend years reaching a goal if it is meaningful enough.

I believe in setting SMART goals. Something that is Specific, Manageable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. If you haven’t a clue where to start, there is lots of information on SMART goal setting on the internet.

And don’t start only in January or after a huge upheaval in your life. You can sit down and write down goals anytime. In fact, today is as good a day as any if you’re so inclined.

ALP: What’s next for you? Could you share some of the goals you’ve set for yourself in 2013?

BRENDA: Everything I’ve published so far has been contemporary romance. In 2013, I’ll be releasing the first books in my Spirit Creek Series. I’m so excited to be working on my first love—historical western romance. Mind you, I have two more contemporary novels in the works, including Book Three of my Escape to Alaska Series to complete first.

And being a fellow author, you know we’re never finished learning. On May 4, 2013 our writing group CaRWA, the Calgary chapter of Romance Writers of America, is holding a Spring Workshop with the remarkable New York literary agent Donald Maass as our guest. He’ll be speaking on what it takes to be competitive and gain staying power in today’s market. I’m certainly looking forward to attending this event at the retreat-like venue in Redwood Meadows. (Any writers interested can find more details on this event at the CaRWA website And in August I’ll be attending the When Words Collide festival in Calgary. Details for that can be found at I’m certain you’ll agree that we’re very fortunate to live in Calgary where there’s access to so many wonderful events for authors.

ALP: Yes, we are fortunate. It sounds like you have a busy year ahead of you. Thanks for coming today. Where can readers find you, and where can we purchase the book?

BRENDA: Thank you so much for having me. I’ve enjoyed this immensely. And anyone leaving a comment will be entered to win one of ten digital copies of When Dreams Collide, the sequel to A Bandit Creek Miracle. Winners will be drawn at the end of the blog tour on March 15th. And check out the special ‘Irish’ blog post on my website on March 17th.

Love To The Rescue is available exclusively through Amazon in both an ebook format and as a large print version,  and 50% of my author royalties will be donated to Humane Society shelters.

If anyone has rescued a dog or cat, please email me your pet’s story with permission to post it on my website to

Please check out my website to read the rescue story of our family dog, Beau, and other stories at You can also find me on Facebook brendasinclairauthor and on Twitter @bsinclairauthor

Rescue Blog Tour-new Brenda sinclair

On Monday March 11, 2013 I’ll be featured on the Women’s Book Review site  and then on Tuesday March 12, 2013 the next stop on the LOVE TO THE RESCUE BLOG TOUR will be at my website for a second Pit Stop. My heroine, Amy, lost several loved ones, and I’ll post an item on grieving.  I hope you’ll drop by. And make sure to enter the giveaway for a free book, below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Brenda Sinclair is a writer of historical American West and contemporary romance, a member of her local chapter of Romance Writers of America, a healthy lifestyle advocate and past leader of her TOPS weight-loss group, a gardening enthusiast and dog lover.

Brenda was raised on a farm in southern Manitoba and taught school on a semi-remote reservation in northern Manitoba where, during frequent visits to a nearby town, she met her husband, a Treaty Cree member of the local First Nations band. Brenda and her husband have been married for forty years and raised two sons. She is extremely proud of her three wonderful grandchildren.

Brenda worked in the accounting field for over twenty-five years. A few years ago, she retired and traded in numbers for words when she decided to be a writer when she grew up. The latter part of the previous sentence is still up for debate.

Guest Post: Daisy Harris’s Gay Movie Review Tour – Good But Depressing Gay Films

Hello, fair readers! And thanks, Alyssa, for having me on the blog today.

For those of you who don’t know—I write books. Romance books about gay men. As such, I watch a lot of gay movies, and gay-themed television shows. I figure that if you’re here, you might enjoy some of the same gay movies I have. And being that it’s the holidays, you might be looking for something new to watch….

So—This is the second post in my four-week Gay Movie Review blog tour. The tour calendar is at the end of the post, so you can follow along to other stops. As with most blog tours, there’s a prize involved. A randomly selected commenter will win a DVD of my favorite gay movie I’ve watched this year, Weekend as well as a book from my backlist.

On with the blog…

I’m a woman of little taste. I like my films silly, sexy, funny, cute, and heartfelt without being heart wrenching. But in the world of Gay cinema, sometimes even I get dragged into watching something that’s a bit of a downer.

The films below are good. I know they’re good. I’m even glad to have watched them. But they’ll never be on my Favorites list because they’re too effin’ depressing.

That said—plenty of people like downer movies. Just look at all the people who saw The Piano, Love Story, and The Notebook!

I have a very low tolerance for negativity. I can’t stand Les Mis, and was depressed for a week after watching Moulin Rouge. So, my opinions need to be taken with a grain of salt.

So if you like tear-jerkers, these movies are for you. Just don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

#1 Eyes Wide Open
Eyes Wide Open is one of those movies that’s hard for me to recommend because I can’t tell if I actually “enjoyed” it. I will say this—at least no one died. But that’s cold comfort when at the end of the movie the couple you’ve been watching and living through and rooting for breaks apart, and the rather handsome young man you’re halfway in love with has to leave town because he’s gay.

Yeah, Eyes Wide Open is that kind of movie. Riveting, engaging, heavy, and totally flipping depressing.

It’s from Israel, which may or may not contribute to its depressingness. The only other Israeli gay movie I’ve seen, Yossi and Jagger, was even more miserable than Eyes Wide Open. Mine is a small sample size for sure, but I’ll admit, I won’t be expecting any rollicking sex comedy to come out of Israel any time soon.

Here’s the plotline: In Jerusalem, a married, Orthodox Jewish father falls in love with his 20 year old male assistant. Persecution, sex, persecution, misery, more persecution, and eventual break up ensue.

It won awards. The depressing movies always do. The star, Johar Shtrauss, won Best Actor at the 2009 Jerusalem Film Festival. His performance as Aaron Fleishman was amazing. Mostly, it involved scrunching his eyebrows. He may have also been frowning, but he had a giant beard, so I couldn’t tell.

Speaking of giant beards—he also had a giant beard in the form of a wife and a passel of an indeterminate number of kids. I actually felt more sorry for his wife than I did for him or his lover.

In fact, I was depressed for everyone by the end of this movie, even the secondary characters. I’m glad I saw it, though. I mean—I need some depressing movies under my belt to make it seem like I’m not completely shallow. But I can’t say I was exactly happy to have watched it.

But if heart wrenching, tragic love stories in rich and unusual settings appeal to you, then by all means—watch Eyes Wide Open.

Oh, and Ran Danker was HOT as Ezri. Seriously smokin’. The eye candy made the sadness partly worthwhile.

#2: Shank
Shank is both more and less depressing than Eyes Wide Shut. On the one hand, it has a hopeful ending. On the other hand, so many horrible things happen during the course of the movie that it’s hard to feel good about the story as a whole.

It’s a British film set in Bristol. No subtitles.

Here’s the set up: Closeted gang member Cal (played by Wayne Virgo) spends his days beating the crap out of gay people, doing drugs, lusting after his BFF gang-buddy, and trying to hide the fact that he’s gay. Intermixed with the violence, he has an extremely sexy moment with his buddy hanging out shirtless in the front seat of a car, shotgunning pot smoke. (Y’know, as straight gang members do…)

One day, he saves a kid his gang is beating up on, and then he runs after the guy to give him a ride.

The kid is a university student and about as fem as you can possibly imagine. Also, very sweet. His name is Olivier (of course) and he’s played by the quite awesome Marc Laurent.

Fearing retribution from his gang for interfering with the beating, Cal asks to stay at Olivier’s house. They end up having sex, falling in love, etc.

But the gang, led by Nessa (Alice Payne), is furious at Cal for his betrayal, and they aim for retribution. Kidnapping, and the to-be-expected-given-all-the-violence ass rape* ensue.

In the end, Olivier calls for help and gets Cal home with the help of one of his professors. But even as it looks like Cal is going to leave with Olivier for a new life, we learn that Cal and his gang beat said university professor’s husband so badly he’s still in a coma.

So, yeah. A lot of spoilers, but you may as well know going in what you’re getting yourself into.

This shiznit is depressing.

That said—it’s also completely awesome. From the very first frame, I could not stop watching. Shank is vicious and brutal and painful and even beautiful. I don’t think I could make myself watch it a second time. It’s too much of a downer. But I’m really glad I watched it once.

I highly recommend you watch it, too.

And like so many other depressing movies, it’s won awards: The Audience Award at the Barcelona International Gay Film Festival, and the Emerging Talent in Queer Cinema at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

There’s even a sequel coming out, called Cal. Here’s hoping that it’s less depressing than the original.

*Note: My use of “ass rape” here is NOT metaphorical. It is an actual rape scene. Like, seriously. Sensitive viewers be warned!

This ends today’s installment of my Gay Movie Review Blog Tour. Stop by Coffee and Porn on Tuesday where I’ll be discussing Gay Movies with Soccer Themes!

And if after watching the Good-but-Depressing movies above, you need a pick-me-up, read one of my Holsum College titles. They’re about as light and fluffy as you can get. :-)

Tour schedule:

Birkenstock-wearing glamour girl and mother of two by immaculate conception, Daisy Harris still isn’t sure if she writes erotica. Her romances start out innocently enough. However, her characters behave like complete sluts. Much to Miss Harris’s dismay the sex tends to get completely out of hand.

She writes about fantastical creatures and about young men getting their freak on, and she’s never missed an episode of The Walking Dead.

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