Jera’s Jamboree review : Dancing in the Rain by Amanda James

dancing in the rainFormat: Kindle Edition

File Size: 1032 KB

Print Length: 301 pages

Publisher: Choc Lit Lite (5 Mar 2014)

ASIN: B00IU0TGDO

 

What if the responsibility for preventing a major disaster lay with you?
Jacob Weston has felt like he doesn’t belong for as long as he can remember and the strangely vivid dreams he experiences only serve to make him feel more alone …
But when his job in research science takes him thousands of miles away from what he thought of as home, Jacob finds the mystery of his past begin to unravel. A trip to the breathtaking Monument Valley and an extraordinary encounter with a Navajo guide seem to hold the key to who Jacob really is.
After meeting the beautiful Rosenya Neboyia, Jacob feels he may have found what he’d been searching for. But with this meeting is the discovery that his dreams come with a responsibility, and that responsibility is bigger and scarier than he could have ever imagined …

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In April 1977 we find out how Jacob came to be in the care of Aggie and Ernest Weston.  After 4 stillbirths and at the age of 44, Aggie sees her act as a rescue.

We pick up with Jacob’s life in his mid-thirties.  He’s feeling dissatisfied with life and has a sense of foreboding.

Josiah’s visions of being guided to fight to contribute to the future of the Navajo nation take us back to 1940.

Narrated in alternating chapters in present day with Jacob and in the past with Josiah, we find out the task Jacob needs to undertake to prevent the major disaster.

The company that Jacob and best friend/colleague Greg works for, moves them to the US to work on a project.  Jacob’s gut feelings about the company building and Zak (who is leading the project) prove to be very accurate.  The team they’re working with provide plenty of conflict and hidden agendas. Jacob and Greg have a true friendship that shows when they’re living together in the US (who cooks and who cleans! and being able to express their grumpiness) and putting the other first when it really matters.  Greg is a fabulous character and deserves to find his own HEA.

I loved the mysticism (and the history) linked with the Navajo people and how the visions motivate Jacob, moving him in directions he would never have chosen for himself.  Got to love a hero who listens to his intuition and instincts 🙂

Meeting new people in Monument Valley and the link they have with Jacob added even more depth to the plot and with Rosenya being one of those people, alongside the attraction is more conflict.  It was fabulous to see Jacob becoming engaged with his emotions instead of shutting himself off.

The suspense leading up to the climax is really well-paced.  I felt myself tensing as the time ticked past and couldn’t see a way out hoping that no-one was going to die …

The ending was perfect.  So fitting with the spirituality of the plot.

Dancing in the Rain is such an apt title!  With the history/culture, romance, spirit and suspense, I recommend Dancing in the Rain to romance readers who are looking to be entertained and wanting a story that is  just that little bit different.

3 owl rating

I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MandyJamesAuthorPage

Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Author Amanda James ~ the importance of those first few lines

I’m delighted to be welcoming Amanda James as part of Choc Lit’s blog tour today.

Mandy RGB Web

Amanda James, has written since she was a child, but has taken it up seriously in the last five years.

Amanda has written many short stories and has four novels currently published. A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 by http://www.choclitpublishing.co.uk and has met with great success.

The newest, also with Choc Lit are Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain (March 2014)

Righteous Exposure is published by Crooked Cat Publishing. http://crookedcatpublishing.com/

Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33

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Opening Pages

Thanks very much for having me as a guest on your blog today, Sharon.

I would like to talk about the importance of the first few lines and opening pages of a novel. When you consider the number of books on the shelves and virtual shelves nowadays, writers, and less well known writers in particular, have to make sure that when a reader opens the cover of their book they are compelled to read on. This of course is easier said than done and for me one of the hardest things to get right. The writer of course knows the story, or at least some of it, (I never really know what is going to happen!) but the reader has no clue apart from the blurb. Therefore, to make an impact and create enough interest for the reader to want to know the rest of the story is a little tricky. They have no knowledge of the various characters’ personality, feelings, motives or twists and turns of the plot, because literally nothing has happened yet.

I mainly write within the romantic suspense/mystery genre though my first novel with Choc Lit was A Stitch in Time which is actually time travel.

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It could be argued that with writing suspense, it is somewhat easier to create a dramatic opening than some genres, but that keeping up the mystery without giving too much away as the story progresses is far from simple. I love a challenge, and that’s one of the reasons I love writing suspense. So, let’s go back to how to make an impact in the opening pages. I have included below those of my new novel Somewhere Beyond the Sea to illustrate what I mean. The opening is just over a page long and is also the first chapter :

I folded my clothes neatly and placed them with the precision of a drill-sergeant on a flat rock by the shore. I positioned the letter in its blue envelope carefully on top and weighed it down with a round white pebble. Standing before the moonlit water, I felt the caress of the breeze like salt kisses over my naked skin.

I began in first person to engender a feeling of ‘being there’ in the reader. The folding of clothes by the shore and the mention of a letter should also ring a few alarm bells in the readers’ head.

I walked a few steps nearer to the sea. Firm sand cushioned my steps and despite my weight, each footfall barely left an imprint. Surf foamed in, tickled my toes and encouraged me further. Out on the island, the glass eye of the lighthouse winked as if it knew my secret, and a gull wheeled above in day-bright moonshine. I spread my arms wide, tilted my head to the dazzling stars and inhaled. I belonged to the universe. I relished the sense of freedom, the oneness with nature.

The reader should now have some kind of picture of the person on the beach. They are overweight, have a secret, and feeling exhilarated. They are genderless however which adds to the mystery. Is the person male or female? The reader might want to check back to see if they have missed any clues.

Ironically I had never felt so alive.

I left a space between the end of the last paragraph to create more impact with the above seven word sentence. The reader should be by now putting two and two together as to what exactly is happening.

Lowering my arms again, I turned to have a last look at the cliff tops. In my mind’s eye, beyond them I could see the Cornish village where I had lived for the past sixteen years. I could see every little street and lane, every little country garden. Most of the buildings were now in darkness of course, apart from the light of a lamp or two.

So now the reader knows the beach is in Cornwall and the person is at least sixteen years old.

There was no light in my mother’s house.

The reader is hopefully wondering why there is no light and what the mother has to do with the situation. Again I left a gap and continue to do so for the rest of the page.

Turning back towards the waves I stepped forward, one, two, three long strides. No hint of hesitation fettered, nor apprehension restrained.

This was it. This was what came next.

The weight of the incoming tide was my only barrier, but even as a breath caught in my throat, I gritted my teeth against the cold and plunged headlong.

I would tire of course … soon. But for now, with adrenaline pumping in my veins, legs and arms powering my body through the waves, for now I was strong, free, and in control of my destiny.

I decided to close the chapter here to maximise the impact and hopefully leave the reader eager to find out what happens next. Does the person drown or not? If yes, why did they take their own life? Who were they? If not, what happens to them next?

Questioning sets up a ‘dialogue’ between writer and reader which I believe is essential. It enables the reader to really engage with the text and helps to engender a satisfying read.  Sometimes these questions aren’t asked in any conscious way but are part of the ‘feeling’ the reader has for a book. I always ask questions when reading suspense in particular, but it happens in all genres, even if it us just to the extent of ‘will they get together or won’t they?’ It is all part of the dialogue. This dialogue is either strong enough to keep you eagerly turning those pages and reading to the end, or to end the conversation early and close the book.

I hope I have managed to do the former 🙂

Thanks very much, Sharon. It has been great fun.

I’m hooked Amanda!  

The best books for me are when my notes are littered with question marks …

SBTS_hirespackshot-smallPaperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Choc Lit (7 April 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1781891206
ISBN-13: 978-1781891209

When love begins with a lie, where will it end?

Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?

Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?

As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?

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