Category Archives: Romantic Reads

Cover Reveal…Taa-daa!


It’s not too late to join the party! Get all the details about the One More Sunset Cover Reveal Contest to be eligible to win a $10 Amazon gift card at my ONE MORE SUNSET RELEASE BASH. Hope to see you there!!

Write the five correct answers for the blog hop cover reveal on the contact form. Don’t worry, I won’t keep, sell, or distribute your email address that you place on the contact form. Just want to keep the answers private. 🙂  oxo, Jolyse

Read-a-Romance Month

The Joy of Romance

To me, the joy of romance is all about the little things. Sure, those grand gestures are nice, and we often expect them in our romance novels, but in real life, I’m the kind of girl who prefers the hundred small gestures my hero makes on my behalf. That’s love. If I had a choice between a piece of jewelry for our wedding anniversary or traveling, I’d choose the getaway every time. Spending time together, away from the every-day stresses and interruptions, and enjoying each other’s company are essential to a romantic. The simple act of holding hands, chatting about nothing, strolling along the beach, or cuddling on the couch while you watch a favorite TV show are the moments that make up a lifetime of love.

Those small gestures work both ways, of course, and I’m happy to reciprocate. I’m not thinking just about sex here. Sure, sex is wonderful and is a beautiful extension of the romantic relationship, but we all know that sexual intimacy alone doesn’t define or create a couple.

As a romance reader and writer, I especially appreciate those moments in the story where the hero and heroine each take those emotional next steps to bond more with the other. They discover common interests or join together to achieve a shared goal. You know, they do the little things together and that makes all the difference. Like in real life, the main characters also need to grow or change, overcoming their inner conflicts, such as learning to trust again after past hurts or believing in their worthiness of love if the relationship’s going to last. Achieving those levels of emotional intimacy within the story’s romantic journey are what I believe make reading a romance novel so satisfying and inspiring.

I’ll believe the hero and heroine have earned their forever love when they show, either with that grand gesture or in all those little ways, that they are willing to make that leap of faith and commit to being their best, all while bringing out the best in their loved one. To me, that’s the joy of romance!



When was a moment in your life where you experienced sheer joy?

Path to ParadiseOn our first couple’s getaway to Key West, my husband and I rented Conch Cruisers. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle since high school. I’ll never forget how exhilarating the salty breeze rustling my hair and tickling my face and arms felt as I peddled along quiet side streets of historic Old Town. All the daily worries of adulthood melted away, replaced by a sense of freedom I’d missed since childhood.

What is a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy?

Anyone who has known me for more than ten minutes can answer this one! Key West’s my home-away-from-home. My Honey and I have traveled there on more than a dozen occasions, often staying for only four or five days at a clip, but we always make incredible memories there and I can’t wait to return. I adore the island’s tropical vibe and the town’s accepting attitude, their motto being we’re all part of “One Human Family.”

What sound brings you joy?

My son at five years

The greatest sound to me by far is when my son talks to me and especially when he says, “I love you.” Born with autism, he struggled to learn to speak. After many, many years of hard work on his part and early intervention to build his communication skills, it’s such a joy to just sit and talk with him. I’ll never take that gift for granted.

What book have you read in your life that has brought you so much joy you haven’t forgotten it? Why?

Hogwarts Castle at Wizarding World
Hogwarts Castle

My daughter was in the third grade the year the first book in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series was released. She had always been more of a Daddy’s Girl, but when I bought two copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone–one for her and one for me–our relationship changed from caregiver and child to fellow adventurers. Together, we  enjoyed and connected with the characters and their journey of good vs. evil. We eagerly anticipated, read, and discussed all seven books as they were published. When the movies later released, we watched them together. Then, in celebration of her nineteenth birthday, we explored Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, creating even more wonderful memories.

Which Chris (Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans, or Christopher Plummer) brings you joy?

I truly appreciate nature’s art, and that includes the male form. Each of the “Chris” choices are beautiful examples of nature in their own right, as well as men who are talented in their craft. That said, I’d have to choose Christopher Plummer because I’m a die-hard fan of The Sound of Music, and Captain Von Trapp was one of my first celebrity crushes.


To celebrate the joy of romance, I will randomly choose one lucky commenter (Must be 18 or older) to receive a selection of romance books and swag from this year’s Romance Writers of America National Conference in New York City.


I’m an avid reader of romance. I couldn’t possibly list all the incredible authors I enjoy reading so I won’t try here. However, if you’re like me and you enjoy discovering up-and-upcoming authors in the genre, these two woman are two of my recent favorites:

Maggie Van Well – Ms. Van Well writes contemporary and paranormal romance. I couldn’t put down her most recent title, Crazy Little Thing Called Matchmaking. She writes smart, tightly woven romances that I really enjoy, and I think you may too! Visit Maggie’s Read-A-Romance-Month Post and Giveaway.

Meara Platt – If you’re a fan of Regency historicals, you’ll fall for Ms. Platt’s Farthingdale series. She aptly describes them as having “a dash of humor and a pinch of suspense.”

I’m so excited to share in our celebration of romance throughout the month of August at READ A ROMANCE MONTH. A special thank you goes out to Lorelei’s Lit Lair for inviting me to participate. I’d highly recommend you read Lorelei’s Joyous Journey to Romance if you haven’t gotten the chance to do so yet. Talk about inspirational! 🙂

Author Biography~

jo-profile_225x2A country girl at heart, I live my own happily-ever-after in Long Island suburbia with my real-life hero, two wonderful children, and a very-furry cat. I’m the author of the contemporary romances, Christmas Light and His Kiss, as well as the upcoming romantic suspense/magic novel, One More Sunset. I enjoy crafting delicious tales of love for my readers, because I believe that as imperfect as we each are, we all deserve someone perfect for us. Connect with me here on my website and on social media (see links above). I look forward to seeing you there. To receive news of future releases, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. Happy reading!


Celebrating A Book Birthday!

Hi all!

Forgive my blushing after you view my very first attempt at vlogging (Obviously not a forte for this introverted writer! I promise you it’s okay if you laughed. I know I did every time I listened to it–and the one you see above was about Take 23 or so.)


I’m so excited about this book news that I just had to tell you in addition to writing about it. His Kiss is one of the three reasons  I’ve been in my writer’s cave so much the past six months. (More about the other two projects in a bit.) It’s  my second novel in the NEW YORK series, set in the fictional small-town of Starling in the beautiful Adirondacks region. Jeremy was introduced in A Light in the Window (now renamed Christmas Light), and is Jade Engel’s brother and Ben Stephens best friend. His Kiss begins about eighteen months after the Christmas story.

As with the Christmas in NY series, all the books in the Summer in New York series are stand-alone, but the many of the characters appear in each other’s stories. We worked hard to not “give away” any details from the current romances, which is why, if you’ve already read that first series you’ll notice much more of Jade and Ben along with the other core three girls than Reid and Kara (from Patty Blount’s His Touch) or Gavin and Toni (from Jennifer Gracen’s His Love).

The reviews for His Kiss are already starting to come in, and I’m thrilled that Jeremy and Elizabeth’s journey to love is resonating with readers. One of those that struck home with me was a reviewer’s comment that my stories each have “strong women with men who stand beside them.” I do love strong heroines and believe that woman choose their destiny,  so even though this book’s seed idea may have begun with my hero, Jeremy, Elizabeth plays a vital role in the romance rather than merely being swept along by him.

In celebration of this happy occasion, I’ll be giving away one digital copy of Christmas Light or His Kiss to two random commenters.** All you have to do is tell what makes you blush (if you still do!). If you don’t, please tell us why. (I want to know your secret!)

If you read His Kiss (or Christmas Light) and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. And let me know, too, so I can personally thank you! I truly appreciate each and every one of my readers. Like you, I enjoy the escape of a great story and want a happily-ever-after.

Oh, and before I forget, the other two projects that have been keeping me busy are my romantic suspense/magic novel, One More Sunset, which will be coming out this fall, and a fun contemporary called Text Me, Baby, with an expected release of Spring 2016. I know that seems far off, but will be here before we know it. So…I’d better get back to my writing so you can have more to read.

Until next time,


PS – Don’t forget to comment to be entered into the giveaway! 🙂

**Must be 18 or older. US and Canada only, my apologies to all other readers. Winners will be announced after July 17th and must contact me within seven days of announcement to choose their desired title. Good luck!

Behind the Book: An Adirondack Village

Ben Stephens, my geek-turned-hottie hero from my Christmas romance, A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, knows what he’s talking about when it comes to his upstate New York hometown:

Winter comes early in the Adirondacks.

Three hours from our Long Island home, my family and I were in awe of the pristine beauty greeting us as we traveled north to visit relatives for the Thanksgiving holiday. Later that weekend, we strolled through one of the villages near my childhood home that inspired my fictional town of Starling. Of course, I took some pictures…just for you. Enjoy!

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The celebration of my debut novella release continues with another giveaway!! This one will be extra-special, at the Tule Publishing Christmas Party on Facebook tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd. I’ll be taking over with Patty Blount 9:00 – 9:30 PM EST, but there are going to be many incredible giveaways and so much holiday cheer I plan to attend as much of the party as humanly possible. You’re all invited…the more the merrier!

Giveaway FB Party Blue1Here’s a sneak peek at one of my giveaways, a large festive candle light with changing colors. It’s so adorable I had to buy one for myself too!

And the winner of last week’s giveaway, a $5 Amazon gift card, is…

CINDY JONES. Congratulations, Cindy! You’ve won the $5 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! Please contact me at with your email address within two weeks to receive your prize. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all readers who entered.)


Can you believe it? All four Christmas in New York romances in one beautiful paperback!





Behind the Book: Home For the Holidays

L. I. November Sky
L. I. November Sky

Welcome to this week’s Moment! There’s a definite nip in the air and festive anticipation here on Long Island as the late fall and winter holidays quickly approach. I haven’t begun my Christmas shopping, but the weather and calendar are reminding me I better make that list!

During these hectic days, I hope you get a chance to pause and enjoy the little yet important things–those family traditions, friendships, and indulgences you treasure.


One of my favorite holiday indulgences is reading Christmas romances. So when I was given the opportunity to write one for fellow romance readers like you, I jumped at the chance.

Since my most vivid memories of the holiday center around the small village in upstate New York from my childhood, it only felt right to set A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW there. Christmas, like other holidays, includes home and family. I haven’t always had the luxury of returning to the Adirondack region in snowy December, but I do whenever possible and I always miss it when I can’t be there in person.


My heroine Jade’s hometown of Starling, New York is very much a fictional setting, but contains this writer’s wonderful, happy holiday nostalgia all rolled into one. That’s not to say that life in Starling is perfect for Jade’s family or the rest of its residents. The characters in A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW were created to be like people we’d meet on the street, know at work,  and have in our families–all with their own adorable idiosyncrasies. But, in spite of their human imperfections, they care and look out for each other year-round.

And especially at Christmas.

If you’ve read A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, I truly hope you enjoyed it and that it left you “with a smile on (your) face and a warmth in (your) heart,” as an Amazon reviewer said it did for her.

If you haven’t read this Christmas novella yet, or if you have and you’d like to share the gift of reading with a friend, here’s your chance to win it!  All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter (I’ll never spam you or give your email to anyone, ever.) and share that you did that in the comment section below. All commenters’ names will be entered into a random drawing. One lucky entrant will win an e-book of A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW, a Christmas in New York Series collectible bookmark, a festive Tule Publishing pen (green or red), and a few holiday treats. Winner will be announced Tuesday, November 25th. International readers welcome. 🙂


Giveaway LW 2

And the winner of last week’s giveaway is…

MARY LAWSON. Congratulations, you’re the winner of last week’s Release Celebration Giveaway–a $10 Amazon gift card and holiday ornament!! Mary, please contact me privately at with your email and home addresses within two weeks of this announcement. (List Randomizer at was used to select the winner. Thanks to all the readers who entered.)

Now, remember… for a chance at winning this week’s giveaway, sign up for my newsletter (scroll to the bottom and there it is!) and let me know in the comments section. For extra fun (optional), share your favorite place to celebrate the holiday and give a reason why.

Behind the Book: Jade and Ben’s Playlist

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. We all have songs we associate with certain memories–good and bad and in-between. As a writer, the right music can immerse me further into the mood or setting of a particular scene. When I wrote a novel set in Key West, Trop Rock ruled.  Reggae helped me switch creative gears when I dove into a Jamaican-set romance, and, of course, this past summer was all about the Christmas carol when I crafted A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW.

Although a number of holiday  tunes show up in Jade and Ben’s love story, two pop songs defined my heroine’s and hero’s emotions they  wrangled with throughout their journey to happily-ever-after.

Jade’s internal struggle…

After a traumatic experience in middle school, Jade became a people-pleaser. Denying her true self had a devastating ripple effect until, years later, she is confused and frustrated with her path, barely recognizing the young woman she sees in the mirror. She makes a bold move, quitting a lucrative yet unfulfilling career, stops dating men who don’t know the woman beneath the clothes and make-up, and returns home to her Adirondack hometown to recharge and refocus.

While in Starling, Jade’s former best friend, Ben, and the miracle of Christmas help her see what really matters…being true to herself. Only then is she able to move forward with her life and find her happily-ever-after.


Ben’s unspoken wish…

I’m a huge Justin Timberlake fan. One of JT’s recent hits reflects the frustration my hero, Ben, feels toward Jade at the beginning of their love story. She still views him as Benji, the little-boy-next-door she played with in the dirt and the geek who mooned after her during their high school years. She sees him as part of her past–one that included more its share of growing pains she’d prefer to forget. Worse, she’s afraid he’s become a man like so many she’s known before, one she cannot afford to trust.

Ben is a confident, successful producer of educational videos. He knows himself and he knows what he wants. He’s not going to beg Jade to love him, but he’s determined to show her all they could be…if she just gives their relationship a chance to grow.

In celebration of A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW’S release, along with its sister books in the Christmas in New York series, one lucky commenter on this post will receive a $10 Amazon gift card. If the winner resides in the US or Canada, s/he will also receive this beautiful Christmas ornament:

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

What’s one of your favorite songs?

Remember to leave a comment below if you wish to be entered into the gift card and ornament giveaway! The winner will be announced Tuesday, November 18th.



Love Under the Covers

Will you rub my tummy?
Will you rub my tummy?

Welcome to your Margarita Moment! I’m excited to be back here with you, savoring the little moments in life that make it worthwhile.

Life is so busy, yet we can all take a lesson from our pets, who seem to understand the importance of lots of rest, lots of play, no holding grudges, and yeah, lots of belly rubs. Hope you have a wonderful week doing what you love.

The winner from last week’s Musical Beginnings and Celebrations is …

Shari Drehs Bartholomew! Congratulations, Shari. Thanks for visiting, playing my little game, and for your kind wishes. Enjoy your Amazon gift card. Thanks to everyone else who commented. There will be plenty more opportunities to win giveaways in future weeks and months.

By the way, all comments last week happened to be posted on FB and Twitter. (I even emailed my web designer and asked them if my Comments link was working!) That’s fine. I realize now my instructions were vague. (I’ll learn. LOL) But seriously, please don’t hesitate to leave your comments! It’s still just little ol’ me here and your email address is absolutely safe. I would never, ever spam you or share your private information with third parties.

And now, the story I’ve been dying to share with you…the love story behind the cover of my upcoming Christmas romance…

A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW is set to release in two weeks!  Many of you’ve commented on social media how much you like the cover and I promised to share the cool story behind it as soon as I had a free moment. So, here it is. I have a hunch you may get a kick out of it like I did.

One of the many wonderful aspects about working for a small publisher such as Tule Publishing is that we authors are encouraged to participate in the selection of the book cover photo(s). I enjoyed pouring through stock photo sites and found many pretty pictures, but I kept going back to one I’d located through Pinterest.

I was especially drawn in by the love and peace radiating from the young woman’s face as she leaned in close to the man.  It seemed real.

My intuition was right. The adorable couple in the photo with Christmas lights draped over them wasn’t a pair of models, but an honest-to-goodness couple. Their photographer was Melissa McCrotty of Melissa McCrotty Photography, and she specializes in weddings and High School Senior photos. When I tracked down the article that contained my favorite photo of hers from Pinterest, I was happily surprised to learn the story behind it, and it became even more perfect  a choice for my debut love story’s cover.

You see, the young man in the photo–the one my readers will view as Ben–proposed to that young lady–the one my readers will view as Jade–at the end of that photo shoot. Wow.

Could it get any more romantic than that?

I think not–especially since she said ‘yes.’ (Pssst, I also have it on good authority they are still living happily-ever-after three years later.)

Visit Melissa McCrotty’s blog to read all the details about the proposal and view the rest of her photos from that eventful day back in December 2011. But first, I’d love to know:

What do you think is the most romantic kind of proposal? Or, share your own proposal story…


Christmas in July

Life has been good yet busy, between pursuing the writing career and day job demands. I always enjoy chatting with so many of you on Facebook and Twitter, but am excited to be back here on the blogosphere. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far–happy and healthy.

Christmas in July?

Yes, it is in my little world. Three of my closest writer girl friends and I proposed a holiday series to TULE Publishing. I’m so excited to share that we’ve signed our contracts for the four-book series called Christmas in New York.

An Adirondack Christmas
An Adirondack Christmas

Here’s the line-up:

Four life-long best friends find love through unexpected reunions at Christmas time in New York…

Single mom Sabrina, who never left her coastal Long Island hometown, reunites with her son’s father–the hockey player who broke her heart. THIS CHRISTMAS by Jeannie Moon, author of The Temporary Wife and the upcoming Second-Chance Hero (Intermix).

Adirondack girl-in-transition Jade returns home to her lakeside village to discover the boy next door is all grown up. A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW by Jolyse Barnett, author of the upcoming One More Sunset (Entangled).

New York City academic Cassandra finds magic once again with an Irish musician–the first love she never forgot. ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Gracen, author of Autumn Getaway and the just-released Winter Hopes (Booktrope).

Restless Elena reconnects with the kind-hearted stranger who gave her a glimmer of light during her darkest days. GOODNESS AND LIGHT by Patty Blount, author of young adult novels Send and the upcoming Some Boys (Sourcebooks Fire).

Christmas is July is pretty cool. I’m having so much fun writing this book, and having three plotting pals to share the journey is all the better.

I can’t wait for our readers to unwrap our stories 11.11.14!

Hemingway and Gellhorn

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErnest Hemingway. You’ve likely heard of him. Martha Gellhorn? Likely not, unless you tuned into HBO’s 2012 movie about the late macho writer and his third wife. I haven’t paid for premium channels since I began writing seriously three years ago, so I was unaware of this little gem. Rylie and I happened to be browsing the DVDs in our public library when she came across it and said, “Hey Mom, this one looks like one you’d want to watch.” She was right.


The movie starts out in Key West. Martha Gellhorn meets Hemingway at the famous Sloppy Joe’s bar and sparks fly between the two, despite the fact he’s married with children. Papa follows the intriguing war correspondent overseas to the Spanish Civil War and their romance explodes full-force.

The Original Sloppy Joe's
The Original Sloppy Joe’s

They eventually return to the states, his wife learns of his infidelity and refuses him a divorce. Hemingway dedicates For Whom the Bell Tolls to his Marty and leaves for Cuba with her. He ultimately wins his divorce and promptly asks Gellhorn (living with him) to become his third wife. She agrees. Always the roving reporter, she begs him to accompany her to China.

Hem reluctantly agrees. The film alludes to her interest in other men during their travels. Upon their return to Cuba, she is bored with the domestic life and he drinks more heavily, lazing the days away on a boat with his friends. They fight. He hits her, tells her he has taken her Colliers job as war correspondent, and basically destroys the love she felt for him in one fell swoop.

Marty refuses to sit by while Hemingway gets the first-hand account of the war, managing to gain access to a Navy ship floating hospital disguised as a nurse. Hemingway meets another woman (who later becomes his fourth and final wife) and Gellhorn divorces him. Fast-forward to the final events of his life and a glimpse at Gellhorn’s subsequent attitude toward her days as Mrs. Hemingway.

Favorite Quotes:

Hemingway to Gellhorn on writing well…

“The whole trick is learning how people talk. Most people don’t listen.”

Hemingway to Gellhorn on war…

“There are a lot of bargains to be had in time of war if you don’t mind wearing the clothes of the dead.”

Gellhorn’s reflecting about her marriage to Hemingway…

“When there wasn’t a war going on, we managed to create our own.”

“I don’t want to be a footnote in someone else’s life.”


Fiery on-screen chemistry between Nicole Kidman as Martha “Marty” Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. Their first love scene is one I won’t soon forget and a reason I’d watch the movie again.

Objective presentation of both figures, allowing the viewer to make her own conclusions about them.

Quick pacing throughout the first three-quarters of the film.

If I were the movie producer:

I would have delved a bit deeper into some of the secondary characters’ connections to Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship.

I would have included more details about Hemingway’s writing habits.

I would have ended the film in Cuba while Hem and Marty were still madly in love. Yes, we can guess (if we didn’t already know) that this couple didn’t get their happily-ever-after. The final quarter of the movie was sad and slow for me as it showed the inevitable unraveling of Hemingway and Gellhorn’s relationship and even worse, Papa’s difficult, final years.

For the curious:

Article and photo from the Hemingway-Gellhorn Wedding

Jerome Tuccille wrote the book, Hemingway and Gellhorn (2011).

Martha Gellhorn wrote a memoir, Travels with Myself and Another, that details many of the events touched upon in the movie. The “another” of course, refers to Hemingway.

Boston Globe Review of HBO’s Hemingway and Gellhorn  (I read this article after writing mine. I think it’s interesting how the two leads are so similar.)

Has any movie caught your attention recently?

Casa Antigua - Hemingway's First Home in Key West
Casa Antigua – Hemingway’s First Home in Key West