Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Super New Talent!

by Anna Campbell


I love it when I find a fantastic new author (I think we all know that feeling of  discovery!). I had this experience recently when I picked up RESERVATIONS FOR TWO, the debut SuperRomance from Jennifer Lohmann.

Even better, I had met Jennifer back in 2010 at the Orlando Romance Writers of America conference where she received the Librarian of the Year award. Jennifer and I bonded over many glasses of zinfandel and our mutual love of classic romance fiction. At the time I had no idea that this companion in the zinfandel murder conspiracy wanted to write romance as well as recommend it to her library patrons.

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Jennifer was taking part, along with a couple of my dear Romance Bandits sisters, Jeanne Adams and Nancy Northcott, in a Lady Jane's salon in Raleigh in March. So I rushed to order her debut romance, RESERVATIONS FOR TWO.

RESERVATIONS FOR TWO introduces the first of the Polish-American Milek sisters, Tilly, who has overcome personal tragedy to start up her own restaurant in her home town Chicago. So much hinges on the restaurant being a success, not least Tilly's need to justify her late grandmother's faith in her, so it's a devastating blow when an all-powerful food critic who operates under a pseudonym delivers a horrible review soon after the launch. Still reeling, Tilly encounters charming Dan Meier and experiences an immediate attraction unlike anything she's ever felt before.

Yep, you're right - Dan is our EVOL food critic. But don't worry, this book is so much more than an extended rap on the big misunderstanding romance trope. Both of these characters have enormous emotional issues standing in the way of their happiness and it's such a buzz watching them conquer their demons one by one until they're ready to stand together and seize their joint future. Yay!

Having finished RESERVATIONS FOR TWO, I immediately ordered THE FIRST MOVE which features Tilly's older sister, the very self-contained Renia Milek. Renia has risen above tragedy and its aftereffects to become a respected photographer in Chicago, but her emotional life remains a complete wasteland. That's the way she likes it - having been hurt so badly in the past, she is reluctant to trust again.

Miles Brislenn had a huge high school crush on Renia but she didn't know he was alive. When these two meet again while Renia is photographing a wedding, sparks immediately fly. Miles sets out patiently and lovingly to mend the broken heart of the girl he's never forgotten. Renia, as you can imagine, isn't exactly a willing participant in this process,but Miles proves irresistible.

In this book, I really liked Renia but I LOVED Miles. He's just such a lovely guy and he knows pretty much from the get-go what he wants. There's something so breathtakingly appealing about a hero willing to go to any length to cherish the woman he loves. Sigh.

Both of these books are great reading and if you're looking for a new voice in contemporary romance, run to your nearest bookseller and grab them. There were a whole stack of things I loved about these stories - the characters act like adults and they're so real, you feel like they could be sitting next to you; the emotional depth; the complexities of the family relationships portrayed (again, very real); the fresh, modern voice. I also loved the cultural detail of Chicago with its various ethnic neighborhoods and rich urban life. It's a city I've always wanted to visit - why doesn't RWA go there for a conference? I'd be the first person to book!

So my verdict on Jennifer Lohmann? Definitely a discovery!

As I said above, I love to find great new authors. Have you recently read any authors new to you who have become your new autobuy? What attracted you to these stories?

28 comments:

  1. Hi Anna I just bought a book by Jessie Clever. "Son of a Duke", it is her first book and the reason I bought it was because it is about spy's and I love spys's murder and mystery in my historical romances. Looking forward to reading and the next in her series. Ros

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    1. Rose, I hadn't heard of Jessie's books - must check them out. So glad you enjoyed. Have you checked out Shana Galen and Tracey Devlyn? Both write spies set in the Regency too.

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    2. Thanks for that Anna. Always love to find new authors and will check these out. I have got a couple of Shana Galen books but have not read them. Having a Kindle, Kobo and library books I find I have around 200 books to read. My trouble is I keep buying more every time I find a new author and I did get one of Shana's tonight. Glad I love reading. Ros from the sunshine coast.

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    3. Hey, Ros, didn't realize that was you! Waving madly. Hear you on buying, buying, buying!

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    4. Hi Ros! Welcome! I'm off to check out Jessie Clever!

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    5. Anna waving back :) buying another one today 'Seducing the Rake" by Christina Skye. Havent read any of hers but for .99c ($1.11) here in aus, cant pass it up

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  2. Anna, great post. Thanks for sharing. My own recent finds are Charmaine Harris and Julia Spencer Fleming. Can't wait for more of both!

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    1. Ooh, interesting double, Annie. Actually I discovered the JSFs right here when Janga recommended them. I have a large portion of my TBR pile to blame on the girls who hang around the Romance Dish, LOL! I haven't real CH. I've heard such good things about her!

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    2. Good choices, Annie! Lots of fun reading waiting for you. :)

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  3. Anna, I've read and enjoyed both of these. I'm a big fan of small-town romances, but I admit that I like to see some big city settings thrown into the mix. I really liked Lohmann's use of the Chicago setting. And I loved the twist she gave the high school crush convention in The First Move with Rey not remembering Miles. I'm really looking forward to the next Milek book in January, A Promise for the Baby.

    I recently read my first Sarah Morgan book, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, an October 29 release and her first single-title, and loved it. There will be books for the hero's two brothers, and I will definitely be reading them.

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    1. Janga, Sarah M is magnificent! See if you can get hold of her 2012 RITA winner, Doukakis's Apprentice. It's one of the best categories I've ever read. Looking forward to Sleigh Bells in the Snow. Actually another Presents author you might like is India Grey. Both Sarah and India take that classics Presents style and make it their own!

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    2. Okay, I see I'm going to have to download these two. With both Anna's and Janga's recommendations plus the fact that they're set in Chicago, I'm bound to love them. I spent a lot of time in Chicago during my growing up years and love that city!

      I'm looking forward to the Sarah Morgan Christmas book. She's a wonderful writer!

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    3. Thanks for the India Grey recommendation, Anna! I'll be sure to check her out!

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    4. PJ, she's really worth hunting down.

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  4. Crystal ChristophersonSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    Thanks for the recommendation- I just went and ordered both of these for my Kindle! And I agree the RWA Conference SHOULD come to Chicago! ;)

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    1. Crystal, I was hoping to get a stop in Chicago in 2010 when I came back from Florida but it wasn't as straightforward as I was expecting it to be. Chicago always sounds like such a vibrant, interesting place. Glad my review prompted you to order the books - hope you enjoy!

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    2. I agree, Crystal! I could go to RWA and visit my family at the same time. Double the fun! :)

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    1. JCP, I haven't read Emma W. I must check her out. She's been on my radar for a while.

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    2. I've heard good things about Emma Wildes but I haven't read her either. Another case of too many books, not nearly enough time. ;-)

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  6. Last year my hubby bought me a J.R. Ward book for Christmas, it took me awhile but I finally sat down to read it and LOVE it!! When I say love I mean addicted, I have now gone crazy and purchased almost everything she wrote :)
    Normally when I find a new great author its either because someone bought me a book that I normally wouldn't buy or if I win from a blog.

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    1. I've discovered several favorite authors by winning their book at a blog. That's how I discovered Roxanne St. Claire who is now one of my auto-buy authors.

      Glad to hear you're enjoying J.R. Ward, Savannah!

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    2. Savannah, I think winning books on blogs is a great way to find new authors. It's one of the reasons I almost always do a giveaway when I do a guest blog appearance. Glad you're loving J.R. Ward. I went through a stage when I was addicted - need to catch up on the ones I've missed.

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  7. Shana Galen, Jennifer McQuistan and Valerie Bowman. I'm also going to check out this new-to-me authro's book asap. ;-) Thanks for the recommendation, Anna.

    Marcy Shuler

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    1. Marcy, hope you enjoy Jennifer's books. I thought they had something a little bit different and very refreshing about them. Lovely to see your new authors are all historicals!

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  8. Thanks to everyone who swung by to comment today and thanks, as ever, to the Dishes for hosting me! See you next month when I'm talking about a Susan Elizabeth Phillips classic! Love her books!

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  9. I just finished HAUNTED WARRIOR by Allie Mackay. It was an enjoyable "lite" paranormal. I am looking forward to reading more of here books as well as the historicals under her other pen name, Sue Ellen Welfonder. Will be looking for her other books under both names.
    Will have to check out Jennifer Lohmann's books. Chicago is at the top of the list of US cities I haven't been to and want to visit. They have a wonderful Celtic scene and the other ethnic neighborhoods would be interesting. You could spend weeks just visiting all the wonderful ethnic eateries. There are lots of great museums there too.

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    1. Pat, I have to admit the art museums and the architecture are what particularly draw me to Chicago. And I'd love a chance to see some of the Frank Lloyd Wright work in the area as well. I've read Sue Ellen W but not in her Allie Mackay incarnation. Thanks for the recommendation!

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