Category Archives: Romance

Posting for Posterity

Just putting this here, for posterity’s sake. Dreaming August won the Rone Award for best Women’s Fiction, 2017. For anyone wondering what the Rone Award actually is, look here. Otherwise, just gaze upon my pretty star. Hehee!

Thanks for all the kind words, well wishes, and congratulations! I am still basking in all your love.Rone-Badge-Winner-2017--



Filed under Romance, Writing is Life

Virtual Tour: Waking Savannah

Well, looky dis! –>Click on the ticky because I don’t know how to embed it. Sorry. I’m lame.

I’m on virtual tour to promote the release of Waking Savannah (October 25th) along with sister in Lyrical Shine, Heather Heyford. Enter to win an ecopy of BOTH our books!


Waking Savannah, Book 3 of The Bitterly Suite



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Ind’tale trailer fun

After I got my faboo review for Dreaming August, Ind’tale sent me an offer to get in on a trailer they put out once a month. (<– if you want to see it.) I took them up on it, and this is the result. Fun, huh?

Dreaming August


Filed under Romance

Broad brushstrokes

   It has occurred to me on more than one occasion that Romance fiction is judged the way most things female are judged–with a broad brush covered in rose petals and sparkles. Sugar and spice and everything nice is all well and good, but it’s not all we are, and it’s not all that romance writing is.
   Chick-lit, chick-flicks–yes, such things exist in the exact form you’ve instantly conjured with those terms. There is a place for these lighter-than-air stories crafted to give no more than a moment or two of, “Oh, no–poor character. Her latte wasn’t fat free and now she’ll be all bloaty for her date.” They’re a form of fantasy, maybe a little wish fulfillment in a real life of job, kids, spouses, dog-poop on the carpet and/or dating a thousand frogs in the hopes of kissing a prince. Or worse. I know, when we were going through the worst of the worst, I devoured romance fiction of this nature like a kid on a melting fudg’icle.
   Then there is the rest of romance, the kind that touches on deep, painful, uplifting, complicated and otherwise intense aspects of life. Or death. There is romance set in war-time, in the aftermath of natural disaster, in the quiet and tragic illness of a loved one. There is also comedic romance, suspenseful romance. As a matter of fact, just add “romance” to any genre, and you’ll find excellent examples of what you can easily find. Anywhere. The “romance” part simply means there is a love story at the core, and that those two people will find a way to one another in the end.
   Now, I get it. In this world of self-publishing, there is a whole lot of poorly written stuff out there.And it’s not as if every traditionally published novel is fabulous. I’ve read quite a few stinkers on both sides of that fence. But you know what? Some of that “poorly written” stuff sells really, really well. Why? For the same reason it has since Professor Bhaer admonished Jo March that she wasn’t a real writer until she stopped writing her pirate stories–it speaks to a large number of readers, in language that doesn’t make them feel talked down to, or talked at. It reads the way they speak, the way they relate stories. In short–it’s real.
   Some readers want a more elevated form in their reading, just like some viewers prefer a film that has won awards in Cannes to those that win Golden Globes. And don’t get all wonky about me using the word elevated. I’m not saying one is for dumb people while the other is for smart people. One of the smartest people I know loves the Zoolander movies. Even I, grammar fiend, word-dancer that I am, love me some Tosh.0. Elevated simply means it’s done in an artful, more formal way. It’s almost a fantasy, because few people speak the way such novels are written. There are those who look for word acrobatics, for prescriptive grammar over descriptive. And then there are some who have no patience for such things.
   And you know what else? There’s a whole lot of stuff in-between that satisfies readers on both ends of the spectrum. That’s the beauty of life–diversity. Romance is diverse. There will always be good writing, and bad writing. Romance has its fair share, but defining an entire genre by that share is snobbery, and it’s unfortunate, because there is a whole lot of good stuff being passed over because it’s romance. The ever-growing genre of women’s fiction is growing as it is because people will pick up and be seen reading women’s fiction when they’d never even consider romance. I hate to tell you this, people, but most of what you read is romance. #sorrynotsorry
   This whole thing was sparked by an article shared by a sister-in-romance on Facebook this morning. Here’s the article.
Here, have a cute little crab. Peace out.

Courtesy of Karin Gastreich VAB16







Filed under Romance, Writing is Life

InD’tale Reviews

Seeking Carolina

4 1/2 stars

WOMEN’S FICTION:  Johanna Coco has returned to Bitterly, Connecticut to attend her grandmother’s funeral but misses it. Charlie McCallan finds her in the cemetery and brings her home. For Johanna, Charlie is everything in her past that she has tried to forget. For Charlie, Johanna is everything he wants in his future.

One would have thought that this was a straight love story, but the underlying sub-plot of finding Johanna’s mother, plus the mental illness that affects Johanna and her sister’s life choices, makes the story multifaceted and interesting. It is a love story revolving around the Coco daughters and their missing mother and the secret that their grandmother kept. To juggle more than one subplot to bring the love story, between a man and a woman, and among the women of the Coco family, forward is a feat in itself which Ms. Defino does very well. She has also allowed one to see the internal conflict of each of the characters in varying degrees (including that of the secondary characters) leading to a rich tapestry of the lives and loves of the people in Bitterly, Connecticut.

While the characterization was rich, the setting was limited only to the places where the characters went. Sometimes it came across like sets inside a studio. Nevertheless, the poetry that precedes every chapter more than makes up for this. Ms. Defino is one author to watch out for because of the beautiful stories she writes.

MP Ceja

Dreaming August

5 stars

WOMEN’S FICTION:  Benedetta “Benny” Grady is a widow who continues to pine for her dead husband. She religiously visits the cemetery and plants flowers around his grave, speaking to him and also to Mrs. Fargus and to August, each of whom died centuries ago. Benny has a secret, something that she only tells her dead husband and ghostly friends and would like to hide from one person she has fallen in love with – her husband’s best friend, Dan Greene. Dan has fallen for Benny and plans to woo her but she keeps on avoiding him until she finally gives in. But then Dan unearths her secret and it’s now his turn to move away.

Ms. DeFino is a remarkable storyteller. Her writing style is as beautiful as it is original. One wishes that they lived in Bitterly, Connecticut in order to know Benny and Dan, as well as a host of other secondary characters that give meat to the story. These characters have their own stories to tell and are not just included in the story as props. Readers will come to love August and Mrs. Fargus and get a glimpse of what life after death must be like. Their dialogue about the great beyond is as humorous as it is bittersweet. Ms. DeFino is definitely an author to watch!

MP Ceja

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Filed under Romance, Uncategorized

I just had an idea

I’m not going to mince words–I want more reviews! As it happens, I have a few codes for FREE ebooks left, so here’s the deal, leave me a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads (and is better!) for Seeking Carolina, and I will send you a free ebook copy of Dreaming August. Leave a review for Dreaming August, and I’ll send you a free ebook copy of Seeking Carolina.

If you already have both? Write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, and I’ll send a free ebook to the friend of your choice. Hey, I’ve got the copies just sitting here, why not?

Supplies are limited. Ebook is available for any ereader device you have. Please ping me here, on FB or at terrilynnedefino (*at*) aol (*dot*) com when you do. And thanks!

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Dreaming August is here!

Dreaming August -HighRes  Handy-dandy buy link

The second book in my Bitterly Suite series with Kensington/Lyrical Shine, Dreaming August, releases today! Woohoo! To celebrate, I’m giving stuff away. Here’s how it works.

The first fifteen readers who buy a copy (digital or paperback) of Dreaming August will get a FREE digital copy of Seeking Carolina. All you have to do is send a copy of your receipt, from whatever venue you purchased from, to terrilynnedefino (at) aol (dot) com and I will send you a code to get your free copy of Seeking Carolina for the ereader of your choice.

But there’s more!

For the first fifteen readers who buy a copy of Seeking Carolina, digital or paperback, I’m giving a free digital copy of Dreaming August! Yup! So if you haven’t gotten around to buying Seeking Carolina yet, there’s no better time than the present. Same process as above.

Supplies are limited, so don’t put it off. Buy it, read it, and if you really love me, you’ll review it. 🙂 Two books for the price of one–how can you go wrong?

Please feel free to share on FB, Tweet, tell your neighbor, co-worker, grandma, best friend, your dog if they have access to a computer even if they don’t know how to read. You know how dogs are–they love to buy things on the internet.

❤ ❤ ❤

(And isn’t this nicer than another bit of sad poetry making all of you cry? Yes, it is. Celebrate life every day you possibly can!)

Dreaming August, Book 2 of the Bitterly Suite

She should have been off-limits. After all, Benedetta “Benny” Grady is his best friend’s widow. But in the space of a whirlwind week, Daniel Greene went from strong shoulder to lean on to Benny’s ardent lover. Now Dan is determined to make Benny his bride. He hasn’t waited this long for love to let it get away so easily. But first, Benny has a few ghosts to contend with…

When Benny finds herself pregnant with Dan’s child, telling him should be easy. After all, she’s fallen hard for the wise-cracking bachelor. But how can she love another while remaining true to her late husband’s memory? Could the past hold the key to their future happiness?


Seeking Carolina, Book 1 of the Bitterly Suite

Johanna Coco is finally home in Bitterly, Connecticut, to attend her beloved grandmother’s funeral—only to be confronted by the very reason she’s stayed away to begin with–Charlie McCallan. Her high school sweetheart is now divorced, and no longer the skinny boy Johanna once loved. Hometown handsome and dependable as always, Charlie is the kind of man she needs to lean on as she and her sisters grapple with their grief—as well as the mystery of their long-missing mother, Carolina. But Johanna’s heart isn’t only haunted by her ghosts; it’s haunted by what happened between her and Charlie…

Charlie is determined to do things right this time, and he has to do it before Johanna vanishes from his life again. First he needs to prove to her that the past is past, and they can overcome it–no easy task when he’s up against the ghosts lingering in her life, trying to convince her that happily-ever-after is not in the cards for any of the catastrophe-prone Coco sisters, least of all Johanna. But her fearless first love is ready to do whatever it takes to win her back—ghosts be damned.


Filed under Romance

Get it while it’s hot!

Have you gotten yourself a copy of Seeking Carolina yet? No? GOOD! Because if you go HERE right now, for a very limited time, you can get your ebook copy of Seeking Carolina for $0.99. Yup–ninety-nine cents. (Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and Google.)


Why should you get it now aside from that? Because Dreaming August, second book in the Bitterly Suite, comes out on April 12th. Reading Dreaming August doesn’t require Seeking Carolina, but, oh how nice to spend some time in Bitterly with all the different characters poking their heads in to say hi.

What readers say:

“It is the authentic relationships between the Coco sisters that lie at the heart of ‘Seeking Carolina.’ If this is romance, it comes with hints of magical realism and generous helpings of grown-up love.” 

“There’s a lot going on in this story and all of it’s good. A great mixture of a second chance romance and women’s lit…”

“The Coco sisterhood is an amazing foursome, and the author evolves their relationship with each other and their respective men with fresh candor and honesty.”

One sale until March 1st! Get it while the gettin’s good!

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The Power (and evil) of Reviews

I’m a fortunate author. I get emails and FB messages, cards in the mail saying how much readers loved Seeking Carolina. It thrills me, every time, and is typically followed by the thought, “if only they’d put this up on Amazon, or Goodreads, that’d be really awesome.” Then I feel bad, because how greedy is that? Isn’t it extraordinary that friends, family, long-lost acquaintances, strangers would take the time to send me a personal note about how much they loved my book? Yes it is.

It bothers the crap out of me that I have to worry about such praise going up in a public venue just so the machines powering the industry can rank me, promise me visibility. It feels really wrong, and yet, without it, my future work is in jeopardy, because–as we’ve all found out somewhere along the line or the other–it’s about numbers, first and foremost.

The general population doesn’t know (and shouldn’t) much about the publishing world. I’m a “little” author. I’m not in bookstores, on talk shows, in magazines. My work is fairly invisible to the reading world at large. I blog. My publisher promotes my book on sites trafficked by romance readers. But my reach is limited. Nora Roberts doesn’t need reader reviews. I, and other small authors like me, do.

In a world where any potential publisher, agent, reader can look you up and make a judgement based on the numbers they find, the slope gets really slippery. On the one hand, I want no part of it. On the other, I have no choice but to drink the Kool-Aid. So I’m going to go out on a limb here, and ask–If you’ve read Seeking Carolina, consider putting up a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble. It matters. Thanks.

Hmmm…cherry Kool-Aid isn’t so bad. Leaves my tongue red though.




Filed under Romance

I have a confession to make…

I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. There. I said it. Out loud. That dirty, shivery feeling will pass in a moment. In the meantime, Lucy, let me ‘splain.

Frankie D is a romance junkie. No lie. When we were first married, he called his favorite category of movie “sexy comedy.” Now, he’s adopted a new favorite term. Rom-com. Don’t give him world powers and their intrigue, dystopia, or indie films about unlikeable characters doing unlikeable things. He loves a happily-ever-after wherein the problems encountered are either hilarious or of the romantic kind. Preferably both. If any Saturday Night Live alums appear, all the better. Don’t tell him I told you. Actually, you can. He loves his rom-coms and has no problem admitting it.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone, now, that the Hallmark Channel is his favorite for holiday fare. I’ve formerly refused to watch any of these movies. This year, we both need a bit of over-the-top schmaltz, so I relented. Some of them are cute. Some of them have me rolling my eyes. Some, laughing out loud and not in any way the writers meant for me to. Oy, many are just really, really bad, but having watched a few of these movies now, I’ve learned something. The writers know exactly what they’re doing. They’re giving the public what it wants, what it expects when they turn on a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Such viewers aren’t looking for Alistair Sims’ version of A Christmas Carol, or Bad Santa. They’re looking for a feel-good, over-the-top cute holiday romance complete with adorable kids, puppies, and the darling pair of lovers never angsting over one another for more than thirty seconds before the dilemma of the moment is resolved. They know the villain will get her comeuppance, and the girl’s going to win the guy. Mom’s cancer will go into remission, Dad will get an unexpected leave from the war overseas, and Rover will find his way home. The cheesier the dialog, the better. The acting is akin to the soap-opera kind. And I noticed something else–there is no actual chemistry between the romantic leads. Chemistry equates to sexual tension, and aside from that longed-for kiss, there will be no tension suggesting s-e-x. Deviating from this path is not an option. And it’s all very purposely done.

The writers and producers are marketing not just the movie, but the channel, and they’re doing a bang-up job. Are these movies great? Even memorable? No. They’re not meant to be. Like a fair amount of romance in general, it’s meant to be enjoyed and forgotten. Why? Because if you remembered it, you wouldn’t watch–or read–the next one exactly like it.

Sometimes, I’ll pick up a book and wonder how the hell it sold a gazillion copies. The answer is simple–it fills a need. I get it now. While I believe a steady diet of this sort of thing is frighteningly escapist, we all need a little something sweet once in a while. The part of me that feels dirty and shivery when she sits down with her Frankie D to watch one of these movies will get over her damn self and enjoy it. Thanks Hallmark Channel.

The 12 Dates of Christmas from ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas was really cute. Any favorite Holiday movies you care to share?

Mine? A Christmas Story, Trapped in Paradise, Scrooged, Bad Santa, Christmas Vacation, to name a few. Not a yearly must-watch but memorable movie is The Family Stone.



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