The Start Up Wife
Women's fiction, Contemporary fiction
3 Jun 2021
A quirky, funny, deeply intelligent story of love, big dreams, starting up and feminist geekdom
Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future all mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything.
Dreaming big, together with their friend Jules they come up with a revolutionary idea: to build a social networking app that could bring meaning to millions of lives. While Asha creates an ingenious algorithm, Cyrus’ charismatic appeal throws him into the spotlight.
When the app explodes into the next big thing, Asha should be happy, shouldn’t she? But why does she feel invisible in the boardroom of her own company? Why are decisions being made without her? Gripping, witty and razor-sharp, The Startup Wife is a blistering novel about big ambitions, speaking out and standing up for what you believe in.
So this is a story with several morals – and the two images above tell you what you need to know about the story.
If you are feminist you will understand the first, and if you are a doubter and believer in destiny and that actions have consequences, then the second will resonate with you.
Both are true of this story. With start with idealism and then capitalism rears up and the ideals are distorted or ignores.
Three friends, Asha and Cyrus are a couple and their gay friend Jules, start up a business together whereby she undertakes the coding, Cyrus fronts the business and Jules manages it and undertakes the other stuff. It is a digital death cafe whereby you can curate your own funeral, but it is also a way to create through the app your own celebration of anything from a dog’s birthday, to marriage, to naming ceremonies to….
Cyrus is a philosopher of the ultimate and a guru to the millions who use the app, he knows many different religions and is always curious about rituals and beliefs and all of these are added to the app’s database by Asha. Asha is the genius in the background who codes brilliantly but is unknown to the many users. Gradually she becomes the wife who is never seen or heard but is necessary for the genius of her husband as without her there is no app.
As a non-religious person who vaguely belongs in the humanist camp I have already curated my own funeral. And it would certainly have been simpler using an app with a database of rituals; and having also attended a death cafe I understand why people would bond around particular rituals and beliefs. So the idea behind the app was not unfamiliar territory. But I can well see there becoming a Guru attached as many of the meditation apps try to suck you in this way with their designers wanting you buy more and attend classes and and and.
I thought this book resonated with our time and the way we use apps to reassure us in our way of belief and life. It was well written and gradually you come to realise the trap that Asha has fallen into that so many wives do behind ‘great’ men.
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: June 8th 2021
I can be your dream girl…for a price…
Ever heard of Only Fans? It’s not my ideal job, but it pays the bills. It’s even made me somewhat of a celebrity. My subscribers love my provocative shots, and I’m oh-so-good at teasing them. Then he shows up in my small town and complicates everything. See, Mr. Green-Eyed Gazillionaire is so far out of my league it’s ridiculous. We’re polar opposites. That doesn’t change the fact that even though I’m a fantasy to most men, I only want to be his reality. But nothing real can ever happen between us. Logically, I know that. Too bad logic and I have never had anything but a passing acquaintance. Because now, if I’m not careful, I’m afraid this sexy billionaire will smash my poor, pathetic heart into oblivion…
A delicious hot billionaire romance featuring two polar opposites adrift on a resort island with a small-town atmosphere, right of the coast of North Carolina.
This is a steamy contemporary romance with a happily ever after, no cliffhanger, and no cheating.
Contemporary romance. Next favorite would be Historical romance. Always, always, romance.
Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?
I’d have to say Jewel E. Ann. Mainly because she has absolutely refused to follow a similar pattern for her plots and her storylines are each so unique. She doesn’t even write many series (which is almost shocking in the Indie romance space). I think because her books are so unique, I justified writing different subgenres in one series…because I felt like ‘hey, she did it…and she kicks ass doing it.’
I write in a series world, but because of her, I felt emboldened to write what I wanted to write. For example, in my first series I have both a rom com and a romantic suspense. Same friends. Very different stories. It’s not exactly what she does…and it’s not at all recommended by the “experts”. But, I think she kind of proves you can do things your own way. I’d like to be her when I grow up.
In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing.
Hands down Jana Aston.
If you could be any fictional character, which would you be? And why?
My old standby to this answer used to be Claire from Outlander. Because I’d really love to be able to time travel and I’d really, really love to find Sam Heughan in this alternate reality.
But, I recently read Him and Us from Sarina Bowen….and I don’t know. Jamie Canning would be a damn good character to be…he’s got a great family and one hunk of a hockey husband. AND he’s a kick ass goalie spending his days coaching.
And there’s Becca from Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen…she marries Nate, who might be one of my all-time favorite book boyfriends. I *love* me a sexy nerd.
This question is a tough one. Because, then I think…I’d really love to be a rock star. So, I could be Nikki from Elle Greco’s Heartbreak Beat…leggy, gorgeous with an edge, jamming on the drums for not one but two bands with a hawt front man…. I’d bet she’s even wrinkle-free.
So many options…but I suppose the way I’m feeling this morning, I’m gonna go with Nikki and gain some musical chops.
If you could choose to live in another country/town – which would you choose? And why?
My husband and I often have these conversations. Our kids love North Carolina and I have to say, we live in a great area for a kid to grow up. There’s a lake in our backyard, the neighborhood is safe. It’s a good, easy life. That said, the day after we unload the youngest at college, we’re planning on relocating. So….where to? Top of our list includes Edinburgh Scotland, Dublin Ireland, Vancouver Canada, Seattle Washington and Santa Barbara California. Why? These are all places we’ve been that we absolutely love, with great vibes, proximity to the ocean, and enough of a city to feel alive but not such an enormous city that it feels dirty or claustrophobic.
There’s an island off the coast of North Carolina called Bald Head. My husband and I were married there and we visit almost every summer. You have to take a ferry, there are no cars, and even though it’s really close to the mainland, you feel like you’re in another country. It’s the inspiration for my Haven Island Series. And the next series…currently titled Twisted Vines…will take place in Napa Valley…another one of my favorite places to visit.
Isabel Jolie, or Izzy to her friends, is an Amazon bestselling indie author with an unquenchable thirst for a good, sexy love story. Izzy’s heart pumps faster for stories with strong heroines, down-to-earth realism, and an unexpected twist.
When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be found with a glass of wine in hand relaxing with her husband, daughters, and good friends lakeside.
Izzy fills her Instagram feed with funnies, inspirational “brain candy”, and anything that meshes with her mood of the day. #mood.
Death Watch by
(Soul Reader #2)
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publication date: April 27th 2021
A prison break, a secret admirer, and a boatload of lies. Just about everything Sloane Cabot knows about her past is a big old pile of malarkey. Couple that with the blank spot of how her family died, and she needs answers, like, yesterday. But when a man shows up dead on her family’s grave, she knows it somehow has to be tied to that fateful night a year ago. Too bad you can’t question the dead… or can you?
Death Watch Excerpts
A pair of guards opened the giant doors, bowing at Thomas as he guided me through. It was an actual struggle not to freeze at the entrance and stare. But man, did I want to. This place—while definitely what I would consider on-brand for a vamp nest—was one of the most magnificent buildings I’d ever been in. I wasn’t particularly interested in other churches, but this cathedral was just a beauty. A gallery of pews sat to the left and right of a wide aisle that led to a raised dais. Vampires filled the seats, dressed similarly to Thomas and me, their voices a low buzz of conversation. More people were sitting in the upper gallery, their opulent gowns and sharp tuxedos a happy reminder that Thomas had my back. Had I walked in here with leather pants and a whip on my hip, I had a feeling I would have been just a touch out of place.
Thomas continued his leading, guiding me down the aisle toward a stunningly severe woman sitting on what appeared to be a throne. Skin paler than death, eyes vamped out in a way that seemed permanent, and painted lips the color of blood, she was the most beautiful and yet most frightening woman I’d ever seen. Dark hair was piled on her head in purposefully haphazard curls, a few tendrils snaking out of the complicated up-do to artfully caress her neck. She wore a brilliant green gown that was so simple, and yet so achingly complex, it had to have cost a fortune.
We reached the end of the aisle, and Thomas bowed his head slightly. I copied him, wishing I would have received an etiquette lesson on the hour-long drive here. All I’d gotten was Thomas’ clenched jaw and silence.
“You have some nerve,” a woman growled, drawing my gaze from what had to be the queen of this nest to her right.
I quickly realized that the voice did not belong to a woman at all but a child. Pale-blonde hair and blue eyes were set in an elfin face of a vampire who had likely been no more than ten when she was turned. And that had to have been centuries ago. This little whisp of a “girl”—and I use that word lightly—had the look of a being older than dirt. Dressed in a black lace confection appropriate for a child beauty queen, she stood from her chair.
She then launched herself at Thomas.
I couldn’t exactly say why I did it. I mean, she had me by centuries, and Thomas could take care of himself. But as soon as her feet left the dais, I had the knife Clem had given me yanked from its sheath and was in front of the man in an instant.
Thomas owed me, not the other way around, but he’d been kind to me when I’d needed it, and I wouldn’t let him get attacked. No way, no how.
It was as if everyone froze. Conversations halted, guards stood stock-still, and even this slip of a thing stood arrested at the end of my blade, which was poised at her throat.
To this tiny—but by no means less deadly—vampire at the point of my knife, I said, “Settle down there, Blondie, or we’re going to have a problem.”
I had a feeling we probably already had one.
“Haunting rooftops again, I see,” Bastian called from behind me, startling me out of my intense stare-down of an inanimate object, namely, a door.
The only thing special about this door was that behind it lay a raging arcane club. The music radiated up from the ground, through the building, rattling my bones even from across the street, but that door was nothing more than a metal barrier to the world beyond. I’d always wondered what went on in clubs like those. Would it be sex and alcohol and dancing bodies—which wasn’t much different from a human club in that scenario—or would it be darker? Blood and death and all the dark things about the arcane world that I hated? I was smart enough to know that the human world had its darkness, too, but it seemed the more I lived in this world, the more I realized that what I thought was evil didn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
“It’s a hobby,” I muttered, shaking my head to clear the dark thoughts as I stretched from my crouch, my joints protesting loudly. One thing about this life that was the same were the aches and pains. I’d sat in one spot too long, staring at that stupid metal door to that stupid arcane club that wouldn’t provide any more answers than the last one had.
My search so far had given me one dead end after the other, and after two straight months of nothing, I was starting to get annoyed. It was bad enough that I had the habit of haunting rooftops before the man who’d killed my parents left a note on my pillow.
Now, it was an obsession.
In the last two months—in between bounties and training—I’d been scouring every nook and cranny of Ascension. And my questioning methods hadn’t exactly been in line with what I would call pleasant.
Bloody would be a better descriptor.
Hopping off the ledge, I knocked the dark hood from my white hair, letting the spring air cool me down. Sweltering under my lightweight jacket, I yanked it off, trying not to rip the fabric. Clem would be pissed if I ripped another one, and as the house’s weapons keeper and person in charge of my solid food intake, pissing her off would not be a smart move on my part. Plus, if Bastian found me, there would be no more sleuthing tonight, and the need to hide my beacon of a hair color was no longer necessary.
I’d need to pick harder to find locations if I wanted him off my ass. Well… I kind of wanted him on my ass, just not while I was in the middle of my special project. I stared down at the skull don’t-find-me ring I’d conned Simon into making for me. Leave it to Bastian to find a way to work around Simon’s magic.
Bastian stood in the darkness, the faint light barely kissing the high points of his face and leaving the rest in shadow. To everyone else, he was a bruiser with his heavy dark brow and bulking frame. To me, he seemed akin to a big teddy bear—a giant, angry teddy bear, but one, nonetheless.
Even if he was spoiling my stakeout.
“Some hobby,” he groused, snagging my hand and reeling me in. “You know, instead of skulking around, you could actually go inside one of those clubs. Take a night off from your ‘creature of the dark’ persona and actually have fun.”
Fun. It was a struggle not to audibly scoff and even harder not to show the derision on my face. I hadn’t had fun in ages. Hell, I didn’t even know what that word meant anymore. And I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a night off—definitely pre-orphanhood, for sure.
“‘Creature of the dark?’ What am I, a Batman villain? Do I get a cool costume? Is there a car in this deal?”
Bastian’s smile gave me legit butterflies, the wide, white pull of his full lips making me all giddy.
Annie Anderson is a military wife and United States Air Force veteran. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she is a southern girl at heart, but has lived all over the US and abroad. As soon as the military stops moving her family around, she’ll settle on a state, but for now she enjoys being a nomad with her husband, two daughters, an old man of a dog, and a young pup that makes life… interesting.
It’s a Curse Thing
(Singles Town, #2)
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Paranormal, Romance
Publication date: April 27th 2021
It’s not forever. It’s not freaking forever.
What’s a witch to do when her magic’s been hacked and her tongue wickedly cursed! No matter how hard Eloise Redd concentrates on keeping her thoughts to herself, she blurts them. The only option is to lie low and wait for the hacker’s ransom note —and hope the demands aren’t too steep. In the meantime, she hides out in a haunted town as a palm reader. What could possibly go wrong reading palms?
Jeffrey Bales, Chief Operating Officer of Think Tank Innovations, is excellent at peopling. What he’s not good at is fending off a multitude of women convinced he’s their souls’ missing puzzle piece. This thanks to the town’s magical palm reader. A woman whose mouth should come with a hazard warning. He has no choice but to turn his charms on her to silence those wayward words. Just a tiny, fake relationship should work…
Unless it takes place under the roof of a bewitched house. One determined to bind them together eternally. That ransom demand can’t arrive soon enough.
What if this is forever?
“Welcome to Hand Picked.” Eloise struck a pose at the top of her stairs and spoke to the gentleman who stood in her doorway, looking very much like a shabby prince with his stiff stance and sexy-as-hell five o’clock shadow. Was he her three o’clock?
If so, she now wished she’d reapplied her Rouge Louboutin Velvet Matte lipstick after her cup of tea. Perhaps living in Knotty would be more than bores and snores after all. A little hot weekend sex would make the months go by faster.
“Thank you,” he said.
About to take a step forward, she paused, left foot dangling above the stair. Hmmm.What do we have here? His voice sounded familiar. She tilted her head to the left and tried to get a look at his profile. Nope. His face, what she could see of it in the shadows, didn’t ring any bells. Perhaps she’d overheard him talking while she’d explored the town last weekend. “Have you come to have your palm read?”
Not waiting for his response, she lifted her floral, floor-length, multi-ruffled skirt and glided down the stairs, aiming to appear like a royal subject entering a magical ball being held in her honor. Not to impress the man. Not much anyway. But mostly because presentation mattered when one read palms for a living. With her skirt, she wore a black long sleeve bodysuit and a headscarf that had beads that dangled over her forehead.
She’d been just as meticulous regarding her appearance when she had practiced law. Only then, instead of every aspect of her projecting flamboyant exuberance, she’d projected the appropriate image of strength and intelligence and the ability to cut your throat in a courtroom without leaving any traces of blood on her Louboutin heels.
At the bottom of the stairs, she got her first shadow-free view of her latest customer. A view that caused her world to tumble and land ass up. Balls. Balls. Balls.
Eloise stood outside Jeff’s house and waited for the lovely old Victorian to welcome her and her cat inside. Charm, the moodiest cat ever, had been MIA ever since she’d been forced to move to Knotty with Eloise.
“Who are you?” the house barked in a voice gruff with age. Not even a hint of the English accent Eloise had expected.
“Eloise Redd, of the Salem Redds. And you are?” Eloise stood straight and unafraid. This was not her first conversation with a house.
“Gwinifer. You may call me Ms. Gwinifer. And the feline?”
Eloise held her cage out in front of her so Gwinifer could get a good look. “Charm. Of the Salem Charms.”
“I’m not particularly fond of cats,” Gwinifer said.
Charm’s back arched. “Hiiiiissssss.”
“Neither am I.” Eloise gave Charm a behave-yourself look and sat the cage on the ground. “But I’m a witch. They’re required. Along with a cauldron, but I left that in the trunk of the car.”
A nose appeared on the front of the house and it sniffed the air around Eloise. “I can’t say I’m fond of witches either.”
“Neither am I. But, as they say, one doesn’t get to pick their birth family.” Was Jeff inside watching her talk to his house? If so, why hadn’t he come outside and made proper introductions, instead of forcing Eloise to announce herself like a commoner? Surely, if the house was talking to her, it had also spoken to Jeff on his move-in day. Who was she kidding? If the guy was skeptical about palm readers, there’s no way he had ever admitted to himself he heard a house talking. He had probably blamed whatever he had heard from Gwinifer on the wind whistling through tree branches and playing tricks on his ears.
She glanced away from the nose and admired the house. She didn’t want Gwinifer to feel rushed into making a decision. A house that felt forced into welcoming a guest could be quite abusive to said guest. Cold showers. Creaking floorboards. Drafty rooms. Dead mouse smells.
On the outside, Gwinifer was a sassy lady. Her colorful eclecticism and intricate excess so fit the town itself. Her facade had an elaborately decorated gable and off to one side, a round tower. Her steeply pitched and complex roof perched like a jaunty hat, giving her further style. It was in the window of her dormer that Eloise got a nod of approval. A wink.
“You’ll do,” Gwinifer said in a haughty tone.
Eloise could practically here the house’s eyes rolling. She smiled and gave a curtsy. “Thank you.”
“Don’t make me regret allowing a witch inside my sanctuary,” Gwinifer snapped. “I have a temper. The last time I got mad at a witch, a tornado took out the town.”
Lisa Wells writes romantic comedy with enough steam to fog your eyeglasses, your brain, and sometimes your Kindle screen. On the other hands, her eighty-year-old mother-in-law has read Lisa’s steamiest book and lived to offer her commentary. Which went something like this: You used words I’ve never heard of…
She lives in Missouri with her husband and slightly-chunky rescue dog. Lisa loves dark chocolate, red wine, and those rare mornings when her skinny jeans fit. Which isn’t often, considering the first two entries on her love-it list.
Moments Like This
(From Kona With Love)
Anna Gomez & Kristoffer Polaha
: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
March 9th 2021
After Andrea “Andie” Matthews chooses her career over a marriage proposal and then loses a promotion she worked so hard for, she jumps at the chance to take a break and help run a friend’s coffee shop.
Alone in Hawaii, Andie befriends the staff and quickly grows to care for them, making her determined to revive the company.
As luck would have it, she meets the mysterious Warren Yates on Christmas Eve. They share a cup of coffee, some conversation, and even a moment, which leads to many more in the coming weeks.
But when Andie learns who Warren really is—and what he actually wants—she is torn between her feelings and his deception.
Yeah, writing books! My day job is acting in movies and on television!
How many books did you write during Covid19/Lockdown?
I wrote three books during the Lockdown, two with Anna, Moments like This and Book 2 in our From Kona With Love series and a book for kids entitled How Are You Loved?
My family and I also liked to watch a lot of movies during quarantine. My wife and I called it film school for our boys, we have them an education in cinema.
What about turning your best seller into a film or TV series – would you want to write the script or be on the production team?
Anna and I absolutely plan on turning our series into a series of movies and we will be producing them. Our plan is help keep the creative team telling the story from the page to the screen, so Anna and I will have a hand in writing the screenplays, production, and in my case, even acting.
What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?
I’m most proud of the family my wife and I have built together. We have three sons who are adventurous and excited about life, they are smart and creative, but most importantly, they are kind. Life is a rollercoaster, but we are enjoying the ride together!
Kristoffer Polaha is best-known for his long starring role in the critically acclaimed series Life Unexpected (The CW). Other TV series credits include Get Shorty with Ray Romano and Chris O’Dowd, the limited series Condor opposite William Hurt and Max Irons, The CW’s Ringer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Valentine, as well as North Shore (FOX).
In addition to co-starring with Rainn Wilson in Backstrom (FOX), he had a multi-season role on the acclaimed series Mad Men (AMC) and Castle (ABC). Polaha is also well-known for starring in Hallmark Channel movies such as Dater’s Handbook with Meghan Markle, and the Mystery 101 franchise on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Polaha first received attention for his portrayal of John F. Kennedy, Jr. in the TV movie, America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, opposite Portia de Rossi. He has appeared in numerous independent features, including Where Hope Grows, Devil’s Knot (Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon), and the Tim Tebow film, Run the Race.
Polaha has a featured role opposite Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984 and in Jurassic World: Dominion.
In addition to his work as an actor, producer, and director, Polaha is branching into the book world by co-authoring a new series. He is also involved with several charitable organizations, including being an ambassador for World Vision, a board member for HerArtsInAction, and The Polaha Family Circus Foundation.
Polaha was born in Reno, Nevada, and he is married to actress Julianne Morris. They have three sons.
ANNA GOMEZtells us her story:
Which is your favourite place to visit? Do you incorporate it into your books?
I travel constantly for work and for leisure, so I have many favorite places. I think the two places I consider like my second homes are Paris and New York. Just because I have made many friends and connections there over the past few years. There was a time that I was there for weeks on end, which made me feel like a local, having had the privilege of hanging out at less touristy places. And yes, I love incorporating different places in my books. Always. I write about the universality of love in any country, place or situation, and my characters are also from different parts of the world.
Which of your books / series are you most proud of?
Under my pen name, Christine Brae, I am most proud of my three books, all of which have won literary awards. But I think my heart is falling in love all over again with this new series of books – our From Kona with Love series. We have created so many amazing characters, I am finding myself invested in each and every one of them.
What, in your life, are you most proud of doing?
I think, like Kristoffer, I am most proud of the life we have made here in the U.S. after almost twenty five years of hard work and resilience. To have made my way up the corporate ladder, starting off as a copy girl and to have had the most amazing mentors and supporters in my industry- what an experience! I have also witnessed my children evolve into such admirable adults and have managed through two careers in one lifetime. Balancing them out and bringing my whole self to the table every single day, is a privilege I don’t ever intend to waste.
was born in the city of Makati, Philippines and educated abroad. She met and married her best friend who whisked her away to Chicago over twenty years ago. She is Chief Financial Officer for Leo Burnett Worldwide, a global advertising company founded in 1935. In her capacity, Anna serves on the board of several not-for-profit organizations, namely the Hugh O’Brien Leadership Organization and Girl Scouts of America. She is also the executive sponsor for a number of employee resource groups focused on Diversity and Inclusion.
Under the pen name Christine Brae, Anna has published six novels, has an established fan base, and a dedicated following. Her titles rank in the Top 100 months following their release. Her last three novels, In This Life, Eight Goodbyes, and The Year I Left, have won literary awards and were immediate bestsellers on Amazon, ranking #1 across multiple categories.