Tag Archives: Love in El Dorado

LUCKY STRIKE: Release Day Blog Post Featuring Author Janine Amesta!

I don’t think it’s very surprising to hear that, for authors, our characters are as real to us as anyone we’d come across in real life. They may be even more real because we know them, their thoughts, their feelings, so intimately. Even when a character is a “problem child”, you still love them and want everyone else to love them as well. 

In my newest book, Lucky Strike, I have one such problem child named Luna Lanza. (To be clear, she’s not a child. Luna is very much an adult woman, which is a good thing since this book is a romance.) Anyway, when I considered Luna during the story development stage, I always imagined her along the same vein as Emma Woodhouse, who I imagine is one of Jane Austen’s more divisive characters. Both are far too young to be so confident in how they think the world should work, say regrettable things, and are surprised to discover that what they always believed could be wrong.

These qualities can easily make them unlikable due to what society has told us about how women should behave, both in romance books and real life. The line for “likable” female characters is incredibly fine—there’s more wiggle room on a tightrope. But, as a writer, I like a challenge, not only because writing a troublemaker is amusing, but because I see the greatest potential for character growth. Luna can come out on the other side, not necessarily a perfect person, but at least a better version of herself. It gives me hope because I see a lot of myself in Luna, especially from when I was younger. If Luna has hope, then maybe all of us regular, imperfect, real people can have hope too. 

I think Luna knows she’s not romance leading lady material. That would be Mia, her cousin, and who Luna is constantly comparing herself to. As she says to Sam, the hero of Lucky Strike, “I’m not Mia.” For Luna, Mia represents how she should be: sunny, optimistic, sweet, and always saying the right things. In Luna’s mind, they’re as different as the sun and moon. No matter how much Luna tries, she will never be Mia. She can’t help being exactly who she is and, because of this, she thinks she will never be loved as much. It’s as though there’s a limited amount of love in the world and the sun will always be more adored than the moon.

But a person doesn’t need all the love, they only need the right kind. This is how Luna strikes it lucky in meeting Sam. He’s also imperfect, a little rough around the edges. He’s another moon. And while things don’t start off well between them, they eventually see the kindred spirit in each other. These characters who start off as unlikable grow into something likable as they fall in love with themselves and each other. And, hopefully, readers will grow to love them as much as me. 

About the Author.

Headshot of author janine amestaJanine Amesta is a California girl who now lives in the high desert of Oregon with her husband and their cat, Hitchcock. She studied screenwriting in college, but her moody thrillers always had way too much flirty banter. She’s a master at jigsaw puzzles, skilled at embroidery, and critiques bad movies on Twitter.

Start the New Year Off Right! Check out our January 2024 Releases (Plus Giveaway!) Now!

Read more about our new releases for January!

GIVEAWAY: We will pick ONE winner to receive a digital book of their choice from the January releases. Comment down below saying which book you’re looking most forward to reading! Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY. The winner will be randomly selected at the end of the month.

A Little Highland Magic
by Gerri Russell (Muse)

Release Date: January 9, 2024
Guardians of the Isles, Book 5

To have a future, she must face her past…

Half human, half fairy, Aria traveled to the human realm seeking safety with her family, the powerful MacLeods, where she is welcomed and accepted as a warrior. But her happiness will be short-lived if they discover her inadvertent role in their beloved mother’s death and the kidnapping of their infant brother, Kieran, by the cruel fairy king. Still, Aria plans to right the wrong by rescuing Kieren, but traveling to the fairy realm is dangerous and potentially a betrayal, for she must use the legendary Fairy Flag and its one last miracle to barter Kieran’s release.

Graeme Duff and his ancestors have served as flag bearer and protectors of Clan MacLeod for centuries. It’s his duty to guard the Fairy Flag, and when the beautiful, fierce, and intriguing Aria proposes using the flag to negotiate Kieran’s freedom, Graeme suspects treachery. He determines to accompany her, vowing to ignore the passion she evokes.

Can two independent warriors learn to trust? Or are they risking the destruction of everything they know and love?

Killer Close to Home
by Carol Light (Tule Mystery)

Release Date: January 11, 2024
Cluttered Crime Mysteries, Book 3

Not all clutter is visible to the human eye… 

Professional organizer Crystal Ward’s latest client, her neighbor Roscoe Tremaine, is changing his will, an announcement that sets off an explosive reaction within his family. That same night, a gas leak ignites, destroying his house, killing him, and rocking the Ward family at its foundation.

Her husband, Rick, is injured in the blast, so Crys hires Roscoe’s former caregiver, Wink Keller, to help him recover after surgery. But trouble is just beginning. Both Crys and Wink are beneficiaries in Roscoe’s will, and their alliance sends accusations flying from the Tremaines’ side of the fence.

Crys has her hands full dealing with her client’s not-so-grieving relatives, a teenaged girl stalking Wink, and a suspicious fire inspector. But when threatening “gifts” left on the Wards’ doorstep escalate, Crys is forced to sort through a tangled web of relationships, including her own, to keep her family safe.

Was Roscoe’s death just an accident, or is there a killer close to home?

When the Viscount Wanted Me
by Lydia Lloyd (Muse)

Release Date: January 16, 2024
The Rake Chronicles, Book 2

Her reputation is at risk. He vows to help…but soon finds resisting her the greatest challenge of all.

When Lord Hugh Aldershot, the Viscount of Tremberley, overhears the drunken Earl of Hartley claiming to have bedded Lady Henrietta Breminster, his best friend’s little sister, he is livid. He drags the passed-out earl to Breminster House to face punishment for his blathering, only to find himself face-to-face with Lady Henrietta in a sexy night dress and little else.

When Lady Henrietta Breminster sees the Viscount of Tremberley dragging the unconscious Earl of Hartley to her doorstep, she panics. Not only was she indiscreet with the earl, but she has long nursed a flaming tendre for her brother’s best friend. Now she must ask Tremberley to help her keep her biggest mistake from the gossips of the ton.

Drawn closer by their efforts to subdue the jealous earl, Trem and Henrietta soon discover their own forbidden attraction. But even as Henrietta discovers true passion with Trem, she knows she could never marry for anything less than love.

Lucky Strike
by Janine Amesta (American Heart)

Release Date: January 23, 2024
Love in El Dorado, Book 3

Is finding an unexpected gem a lucky strike?

After getting a late jumpstart in life, Luna Lanza isn’t afraid to get what she wants, including the place of her dreams. When she loses out on the perfect duplex and settles for a standard apartment, she’s disappointed. But Luna remains determined to make it work, even if it sparks a contentious relationship with her new landlord– the same guy she accidentally kissed in an impromptu photo shoot.

Still grieving the sudden death of his brother, reformed bad boy Sam Sunderland feels trapped managing his father’s rundown apartment building. When the spunky beauty, who unexpectedly kissed him, moves in full of ideas, he can’t help being intrigued– that is until she starts changing things behind his back, endangering his position and the relationship with his father.

Sam and Luna wrangle over rules and misunderstandings while fighting against the undeniable attraction between them. It’s a hard lesson to learn that ‘perfect’ can take many different forms. But will the renovations they do together lay a foundation to something more?

A Stolen Shadow
by H L Marsay (Tule Mystery)

Release Date: January 25, 2024
Chief Inspector Shadow, Book 7

This winter, the York pantomime opens as a farce but closes as a murder scene

Chief Inspector John Shadow returns from a rare holiday to Italy but before he can unpack, he’s investigating the theft of an antique sabre. Everyone involved assumes it’s a prank, however later that evening, a reluctant Shadow attends the local pantomime—his least favorite form of entertainment—with his star struck sergeant. They watch stunned as Prince Charming dies on stage. Shadow suspects poison and launches an investigation. When he discovers the missing sabre backstage, Shadow realises the theft was no joke and the entire cast and crew are murder suspects. Then another body is found….

John Shadow is a man of contradictions. A solitary figure who shuns company but is a keen observer of all he meets. A lover of good food, but whose fridge is almost always empty. He prefers to work alone but is assisted by the eager Sergeant Jimmy Chang. Together, the two men must work through an ever increasing list of jealous husbands, angry fathers and spurned lovers to discover the identity of the killer.

Someone Rotten Riding the Rails
by Kris Bock (Tule Mystery)

Release Date: January 30, 2024
The Accidental Detective, Book 6

Kate Tessler and her crew of misfits set out to blow the whistle on two feuding crime families . . . 

Former war correspondent Kate Tessler has solved multiple murders since returning to her Arizona hometown, to the grudging appreciation of the local police. Now Detective Padilla and the FBI approach Kate with a proposal. Two Russian crime families have rented a private historic train to the Grand Canyon for their children’s wedding. The route is scenic and remote. No cell phones. The FBI needs to surveil, but anyone infiltrating the train must be above suspicion.

Kate poses as herself, sent by the newspaper to cover the society wedding, while her sister Jen is the photographer. Their multi-generational and eccentric crew pose as train staff. The goal is to observe, but that quickly derails when the groom disappears, and a search for him turns up a dead body. Everyone’s a suspect and trapped on the train.

The mob families won’t contact the police, so it’s up to Kate and friends to uncover the truth before their whole mission goes off the tracks.

A POINSETTIA PARADISE CHRISTMAS – Release Day Blog Post by Author Janine Amesta!

I’ve always had a very complicated relationship with Christmas. Of course, as a kid, I would get excited at the prospect of waking up to gifts. But it was fairly common for my parents to tell my sister and I to adjust our expectations because there was never a lot of money. One year, my mom and I stopped at a small Christmas tree stand in order to “just look.” If we bought a tree, it was always the type my mom referred to as the Charlie Brown variety, meaning we’d find the smallest, saddest tree on the lot that was hopefully within our budget. There was an older woman working there and soon after walking in, she complimented my mother on her coat, a thrift store wool garment she’d cleaned until it looked brand new. This particular coat was a beautiful shade of emerald green, it wasn’t surprising it had caught the woman’s eye. Ten minutes later, we were walking out with a beautiful Christmas tree and without my mom’s emerald green wool coat because she had traded it for the tree. I often think about that wool coat and whether it was worth it for a small bit of Christmas tree magic.

If one were to ask Natalie, the main character in my book A Poinsettia Paradise Christmas, she would say definitely not. After a few weeks, the tree would be dead and then you’d have no tree and no wool coat. She’s a character who’s been shaped by my realist, cynical side, a person who doesn’t understand the point of being sentimental about things. It’s unfortunate then to find herself working in a sentimental town like Placerville, a place that holds tightly onto its historical roots, and surrounded by the most sentimental of all people. Perhaps some people would agree with her. Many things feel so fleeting that you sometimes wonder what’s the whole point. It’s easy to get sucked into a hopeless rut, where you’re struggling to find something that lasts.

But maybe that’s the whole point of being sentimental, especially during the holidays. We grab and hold onto things because familiarity brings comfort. And even if we predictably make sugar cookies every holiday season, it’s something we look forward to because it reminds us of all the times we’ve made sugar cookies before and the memories connected to it. It’s not about the cookies themselves but the comfort the task brings to us in its familiarity, giving us something we can depend on.

These are the lessons Natalie learns. Christmas and trees and ornaments may not be important to her, but the association to certain people, like to her love interest Mason, is what creates happiness and significance for her. This is a type of sentimentality she can live with. It’s not about the exciting parts of the holiday that we build up in our head, but rather the smaller things and memories with the people we love. This is what makes the season special. 

All these years later, I have no idea what gifts I found under that beautiful Christmas tree that year, but I do remember going to that lot with my mother, her sacrifice, and that bright green wool coat—all to bring us a little bit of Christmas magic.

About the Author.

Headshot of author janine amestaJanine Amesta is a California girl who now lives in the high desert of Oregon with her husband and their cat, Hitchcock. She studied screenwriting in college, but her moody thrillers always had way too much flirty banter. She’s a master at jigsaw puzzles, skilled at embroidery, and critiques bad movies on Twitter.


STRIKING GOLD – Release Day Blog Post by Author Janine Amesta!

Man and woman embrace at sunset

When my agent sent me an email, letting me know that Tule was interested in publishing my manuscript of what was to become STRIKING GOLD, I was eating lunch. That’s about all I remember of that day. It just goes to show that you can be minding your own business, doing nothing more than one more mundane task in your day, and then your life suddenly changes and heads in the most unexpected of all places. 

This particular theme, of life surprising you and taking you on a detour, is something I’ve always enjoyed writing about. This is never more true than in my debut romance, STRIKING GOLD. In it, Mia, a former overachiever, most-likely-to-succeed student, has always had a steady plan, knowing exactly where she wanted to go in life to achieve what she sees as success. This makes it more devastating for her, when life hits a bump and she finds herself back in her hometown, trying to find a temp job that’s far removed from what she ever imagined herself doing. The feeling of shame and embarrassment is magnified when she runs into the guy she used to tutor in school and realizes that, while he was a person who clearly struggled in his education, he’s now doing better than her. Their situation has flipped.

Mia’s journey in the book changes her perspective on not only what success looks like but also learning that “going backwards” doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. The best thing to happen to her is reconnecting with Ross, who is a man stuck on his own “failures” from the past. Together they discover the ebb and flow of success and failure, happiness and despair. These are the things that make life interesting and it’s better to be shared by someone you trust, someone who can share both the good things and the hard. This is more valuable than gold.

When I was drafting this story, I had a very strong sense of Mia from the start. Much of our personal background, and tough life lessons, are ones that are very familiar to me. As a biracial Latina, I too have felt that awkwardness of standing between groups, not really belonging completely. This awkwardness is especially true when you’re an overachiever, people-pleaser, a person who wants to be all things for everyone and hates disappointing anyone. We’re more willing to sacrifice self-identity in order to make those around us happier.

The hardest lesson of all to learn is that no matter what choice we end up making, there’s always going to be someone who’s disappointed in us. Unfortunately, in trying to do our best to avoid conflicts, because it seems easier, we can end up becoming stuck and unhappy. While it’s easy to say, “who cares what anyone else thinks?”, personal growth really happens when you switch your thinking to “What can I do to make sure I’m not disappointed? What’s going to make me happy?” Because if someone is always going to be disappointed no matter what, it’s better if that one person isn’t you.

Mia making that choice, deciding to choose what her life looks like and who she wants to be as a person, was a very rewarding journey to write, one that brought a lot of tears. Instead of standing awkwardly between worlds, not quite knowing where she fits in, she makes her own world, one she could be proud of and find love.

About the author.

Headshot of author janine amestaJanine Amesta is a California girl who now lives in the high desert of Oregon with her husband and their cat, Hitchcock. She studied screenwriting in college, but her moody thrillers always had way too much flirty banter. She’s a master at jigsaw puzzles, skilled at embroidery, and critiques bad movies on Twitter.