Sunday, December 1, 2013

Guest post & Review: Yours to Keep by Serena Bell

Please welcome author Serena Bell.  She joins us today with a guest post as she promotes her latest book Your to Keep.  Make sure to check out her giveaway at the end of the post!

Publisher: Loveswept
Date of publication: November 2013

Serena Bell makes her Loveswept debut with the captivating story of a woman living on the edge—and the man who’s destined to love her.

Ana Travares has been looking over her shoulder her whole life. Her U.S. visa expired when she was a young girl, and if her secret is discovered, she’ll be forced to return to the Dominican Republic. Ana allowed herself to get close to someone once before—and after he broke her heart, she swore never to make the same mistake again. But when a handsome doctor asks for her assistance, she fantasizes about breaking all her rules.

Even though pediatrician Ethan Hansen is a natural when it comes to little kids, as the single father of a teenage son he just can’t seem to get it right . . . except for the Spanish tutor he’s hired for his son, Theo. Ana has managed to crack Theo’s shell—and he isn’t the only one taken with her. The sexy tutor has fired up Ethan with a potent mix of lust and protectiveness. But as he starts to envision a future with Ana, Ethan is devastated to learn the truth about her citizenship. Somehow he’s got to find a way to help her—and hold on to the woman he’s falling hopelessly in love with.

My thoughts:

On the whole, I really enjoyed Yours to Keep.  It's a sweet love story between two people who finally find peace and home in 
each other.  I thought that Ana and Ethan were wonderful together.  Their chemistry was very hot.  But, more than that, they were a good fit.  I liked both characters, with one exception.  I really didn't like Ethan's attitude toward the mothers of his patients and the moms at the school.  I thought the way he stereotyped them was a bit annoying. 

The larger story deals with the real issue of illegal immigration.  Personally, I have pretty strong opinions on the subject, but I was able to put those aside to enjoy the story.  I did feel badly for Ana and her family.  For Ana, her immigration status wasn't really her fault having come to the country so young.  I can't imagine that living under the radar for so long is a fun way to live. I think one of my biggest problem with the story was the status for Ana's family members in the end.  While her status was all set, what about the others? 

Loveswept has an enjoyable debut on their hands.  I look forward to seeing what Ms. Bell comes out with next.


Kari & Autumn, thank you so much for hosting me on From the TBR today as part of my Yours to Keep Thanksgiving tour!

Everyone in my immediate family is very excited because they are finally getting a chance to listen to Christmas carols. We have very strict rules about listening to Christmas carols, and the rules state that there are no “hard core” Christmas carols until after Thanksgiving (or the Christmas carol police will get you—which involves one or more family members making loud siren sounds until the offender stops listening/singing).

So now that the prohibition is past, my kids are all curled up with their earbuds in, listening to Christmas carols on their iPod Shuffles. In celebration, this post is about my characters’ favorite Christmas carols.

I didn’t set out to make Yours to Keep a holiday book. It’s got a serious core story, about an undocumented immigrant, Ana, who hasn’t been able to let herself love because she’s so terrified of being found out, caught, and deported. In Yours to Keep, Ana meets Ethan, a sexy pediatrician struggling to raise his son solo. From the very beginning, Ethan won’t take no for an answer, relentlessly pursuing Ana until he convinces her to open up to him.

But Ana and Ethan are surrounded by loving families, and as they head into the holiday season, family begins to intrude on their private world—as it so often does! And so ultimately, Yours to Keep is also a story of Thanksgiving and thanks-giving, and a story of how the seemingly smallest acts of love at Christmas-time can bring light back into the world.

Ethan’s favorite carol isn’t so much a carol. It’s Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, a beautiful, sweet, sweeping piece of vocal classical music that evokes the “eternal light” it’s named for perfectly. Even though my kiddos aren’t technically allowed to start listening to this one until October 31st (that’s the “soft core” date), sometimes we do like Ethan and listen year-round, because it’s just that beautiful. 

Ana’s favorite carol is Tracy Thorne’s Joy, which I heard for the first time last year. It’s a secular carol about the meaning of the season and the way in which joy can break through the hardest moments. It made me cry about seventy-eleventy times last Christmas season, the first I spent on the West coast after our move. This year, I expect to be more open to the joy part of Joy, and less stuck in the darkness—and so, for sure, will Ana. 

Theo didn’t want to admit what his favorite carol was. He spent a lot of time insisting he doesn’t listen to Christmas carols, and then he tried to explain that he really likes old big band Christmas tunes best, but finally I extracted the truth from him—it’s John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (the war is over).” I didn’t make fun of him, because he’d already suffered enough in making the admission. And besides, I love that song.

Please join the conversation below by telling us what your favorite Christmas carol is (and why)! And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win books and/or a gift card. 

Enter below to win books and/or a $20 etailer gift card! Rafflecopter giveaway ends December 1, 11:59 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:
Serena Bell writes stories about how sex messes with your head, why smart people do stupid things
sometimes, and how love can make it all better. Serena wrote her first steamy romance before she was old enough to understand what all the words meant and has been perfecting the art of hiding pages and screens from curious eyes ever since—a skill that’s particularly useful now that she’s the mother of two school-aged children. 

Serena took a break from penning love stories to explore the world as a journalist, where she spent time shadowing and writing about a cast of fascinating real-life characters. She recently survived a cross-country move and is still plucking dishtowels out of her lingerie drawer. When she’s not scribbling stories or getting her butt kicked at Scrabble by a seven-year-old, she’s practicing modern dance improv in the kitchen, swimming laps, needlepointing, hiking, or reading on one of her large collection of electronic devices. 

Serena is a member of RWA and blogs regularly about writing and reading romance and She also tweets like a madwoman as @serenabellbooks. 

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