Thursday, August 13, 2015


In this sexy contemporary romance, a Swedish pro hockey player with a rough reputation meets the American girl next door in a steamy twist of travel and adventure. Will they be able to overcome a dark past to turn their sensual nights into something more?

Photographer Caroline Mendoza finally sheds her safe life in Michigan for adventure and a fresh start, and her first stop is Sweden. But Stockholm suddenly becomes more than just a casual stopover when Caroline discovers her reclusive next-door neighbor is ex-Red Wings player Niklas Almquist, whose high-profile alpha bad-boy image, both on and off the ice, has followed him back to Sweden.

While Niklas’s darker side draws her to him, she knows the sensible decision is to move on from Stockholm before she gets too attached. Her time in Stockholm is running out. She must choose between what is safe and what her heart tells her is right. Is she strong enough to take the risk?

Reviewed by: Bela
Rating: 3.5 stars


Review: This is the story of Caroline Mendoza living life in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Her job is an interesting one: she is supposed to write an article (max two) in various countries throughout the whole summer.  It doesn’t pay much and she has “to fund the rest of [her] way around the world.” (9) Still, I wish I could get a job like that. I’m always marveled by Latinas in travel.

Then she meets Niklas, the “friendly” Swedish neighbor. Strange how he always looks like he’s been in a fight. Was he a hockey player? Of course, he was!

I did wonder why Caroline was attracted to this rude brute of a man—and he was a man, a BIG man. Mmm, maybe that’s why.

Hockey seems to be a major thing in Sweden and it played a key role in the book. Too bad I’m not a sports fanatic.

Story was a bit mediocre with mild portions of wit and playfulness. However, I believe readers will be able to relate to Caroline, especially her stubborn independence, her bleak finances, and her relentless ambition to see the world. It’s true how Mexican fathers will insinuate that traveling women are less likely to find a husband, which, according to them, should be #1 on the list, and I like that Caroline and Veronica are two Latinas that don’t follow the tradition. Go, chicas!

The real battle, of course, is the painful, confusing one between love and sports. Can Caroline and Niklas make it work? "Would the electric attraction between them run its course by the end of her time in Stockholm, or would it change into something much harder to break away from?" (61) Will their unexpected love survive?

Like sports, the romance is an intense and powerful one; it is hard to decipher and tough on the heart.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Q&A with Rebecca Hunter

Rebecca is a writer, editor and translator who has always loved to read and travel. Though she has been involved in book projects for many years, she only recently branched out into writing her own fiction. Actually, writing her first novel was a birthday present to herself... her 29th birthday, in case you're wondering, though possibly not her first 29th birthday.
This first novel dissolved into a complicated mess, but out of its ashes rose a new idea, an idea for an entire series, in fact: Stockholm Diaries. The stories are born from the author's love of and longing for Stockholm as well as all the wonderful romance potential that the city holds for both visitors and long-time residents. And, as you may have guessed, it is also part of the setting for her own private Stockholm Diaries story.
Rebecca has, over the years, called many places home, including Michigan, where she grew up, New York City, San Francisco, and, of course, Stockholm, Sweden. After their most recent move from Sweden back to the San Francisco Bay Area, she and her husband assured each other they'll never move again.
Well, probably not.
1.       What inspired you to write STOCKHOLM DIARIES, CAROLINE? My husband is Swedish, and we have lived in Sweden twice. Both times, I met women from around the world with interesting, unique stories about meeting Swedish men and moving to Sweden. These stories involved chance meetings, uncertain risks and sacrifice, all in the name of love. The whole Stockholm Diaries series is a kind of tribute to all these stories.
2.       What was the development process like? I started this book with character ideas. In Caroline, I wanted someone who was completely new to Sweden and in some ways completely out of place, but I also wanted to create a character that was already intimately familiar with the aspects of belonging or not belonging. This is where her father’s history comes in: As an immigrant from Mexico, he struggled with the pull of duel loyalties, and to some extent Caroline does, too. So when Caroline contemplates her friend Veronica’s situation in Stockholm and then, in Book Two, considers the possibility of moving there herself, I wanted her to understand the complexity of that decision, both for her and for her family.
Niklas was a little more straightforward. I'm (morbidly) intrigued by the idea that many professional sports reward aggression, but the players are supposed to be able to shut that part of them down off the ice/court/field. This can’t be easy, and I wanted to explore how that might play out in an essentially good guy.
3.       Did you relate to the main character, Caroline, in any way? If so, what? There are many pieces of Caroline’s life that came from my own experiences. I myself grew up in Michigan and studied at the University of Michigan, and like Caroline, I had early tastes of the world beyond the Great Lakes and wanted to explore it. Also like Caroline, I fell in love with a Swedish man, and we have lived together in Sweden twice.
But I should probably also add that Caroline’s life is certainly not my own!
4.       Why did you choose Stockholm as the setting for Caroline? Stockholm was my own home for three years, so this is a tribute to a city I know and love. One fundamental idea behind my Stockholm Diaries series is to explore romance and love with someone who comes from a different background—both the appeals and the difficulties.
5.       What was the hardest part about writing this book? The hardest part for me was to stick closely enough to the romance plot and not travel too far down the roads of other sub-plots. In the end, I cut some of Caroline’s personal history from the story because it didn’t add to the momentum of the plot. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to stick within the boundaries of a romance plot, but it’s the genre that connects with the most readers.
6.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book? The book is romance fiction, so first and foremost I hope that readers immerse themselves in Caroline’s world and enjoy the journey. But I do believe there is a place in genre fiction for ideas. At the recent Romance Writers of American national conference, author Piper Huguley was quoted as saying, “Fiction helps see the humanity in others, regardless of culture or sexual orientation.” This is where I hope to make my mark, however small. I hope audiences of all different backgrounds will see my Latina character as interesting and relatable, as our anchor of familiar in a foreign world. In this small way, I think genre fiction has a place in influencing the way we think of “us” in the United States.
7.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer? Both the best and the worst thing about begin a writer is taking a jumble of ideas and turning them into a coherent story! Taking kernels of characters and plots and following them through to a finished product is a long project full of unexpected turns, much like juggling a dozen or so balls at the same time. The moments of realizations, the moments where the process moves along smoothly or the dialogue comes together in one, tight bundle—those are the best moments of being a writer. But for me, the worst part is the flip side of that same process, the unsuccessful struggle to figure out what isn’t working and how to fix it.
8.       Who are some of your favorite authors? Hmm… where do I start? George Orwell’s 1984 is a masterpiece I can read again and again, as is Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Donna Tartt, Thomas Pynchon… I guess you could say I'm a typical U.S. English major in my tastes! My favorite romance is probably Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, a book I’ve read at least ten times. The book explores romance and love without falling into cliché—a rarity!
9.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main character? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.) I imagine Caroline as sexy but understated, quiet and introspective. As is typical in romance, the couple is on the cover of my book, so it’s a little hard to think outside that! But if I were to cast someone, I think I’d pick Odette Annable, who seems to have the right demeanor, though she’s played a wide range of characters.
10.   Are you working on anything right now? Always! I'm usually working on at least two projects in various states. Right now, I'm making the last changes in short story #1 of 4 in the Stockholm Diaries, Alice series. It’s out on submission for an anthology, but if it’s not accepted there, I’ll release it myself later this summer on Kindle Unlimited. I'm also in the middle of the first draft of a non-fiction book called The Reading Writer: An English Teacher’s Guide to Better Romance Writing Through Reading.  And, as if that weren’t enough, I'm getting started on a short story that will fit between the two Stockholm Diaries, Caroline stories: working title is “Niklas in Italy.”
11.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature? I'm not sure I can speak about the future of Latino literature, but I do think I can speak on the future of North American literature, especially in the romance genre. I am not Latina and did not not set out to write Latino literature per se, but my starting point is based on experience: I visited my then-boyfriend’s family in Puebla years ago. My book features two Latinas with very different personalities and backgrounds. This is where I think North American literature is headed: writing complex, nuanced characters who represent all different experiences and backgrounds. My characters are the creative outcome of the ideas I wanted to explore—Caroline is a relatable romance heroine first, and her Mexican roots are one important part of her among many. I do believe literature shapes our culture and the way we relate to each other. I think North American literature is broadening the concept of “us,” and I hope to be a part of that.     
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UP NEXT: A review of Stockholm Diaries, Caroline.