Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The One I Want - A Book Review and Interview with Marilyn Brant

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THE ONE THAT I WANT is Book 2 in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series, but this story and all of the contemporary romances in this series can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels.
The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.
After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person...until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be?
Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want. THE ONE THAT I WANT, a Mirabelle Harbor story.
Over the years, the books I have come to enjoy the most have been the ones that I could personally connect with at some level.  No matter the genre, if there was a character, storyline, location, whatever, that connected with a personal experience (be it positive or not so positive) this seemed to give me ownership to the story I was reading.  It always allowed me to sink my literary teeth and let me create an emotional bond with the story and characters just a little deeper.  Suddenly I would no longer be holding a book, turning pages and reading a story, much like Alice and the rabbit hole, I was suddenly sucked down into the page and into the words of the author and living in the world between the covers of that hardbound book.  It seemed like I could see, smell and feel every nuance as the storyline would move forward around my character.
Oh yes, I would have arguments with the other characters in the book, and with many an author for writing or not writing a scene or character a little different.  Whatever it was that the author had originally written to trigger the memory that allowed me to connect with the book they wrote gave me license to become one of the cast and to make the book my own.
Marilyn Brant opened a rabbit hole for this reader with The One I Want.  She made her characters breathe, she gave them life and placed her protagonist in a situation that this reader was able to identify with.  She did it so well, that this reader fell down the proverbial rabbit hole into the story and wasn’t able to find her way out again till the conclusion had been reached.
Marilyn managed to drag this reader through the emotions of struggling with loss and trying to go forward.  Even though I have never suffered that horrendous loss, I felt it between the pages of this book.  Struggling to let go, striving to go forward, but Marilyn never left you dangling in tears and a deep morass of damp tissue.  Instead, she dumped you into impossible circumstances that many of us girls can only dream about. Sigggghhh.
Why does it always seem like the good one gets away?  Or does he?
I discovered that following Marilyn’s characters through the pages and listening in on the internal confused dialogue of the lovelorn and misunderstood friends who would much rather be much more but are afraid that it’s too soon and the other isn’t serious about them…  Sounds just as confused as I did when I was dating a million years ago.  Lol.
Reading one of Marilyn’s books has always been good for the soul and this one was no exception.  The story appealed to the romantic in me, while at the same time it reached out and touched the “nurture” side with the storyline of the young widow and her daughter struggling to let go of their grief and move forward.  Most of all I loved the romantic comedy which softened the story of loss.
The characters in The One That I Want are well developed.  Marilyn took the time to also develop back stories for several of the supporting characters, as well as the main characters, weaving their stories through the fabric of the main storyline.
This is one delightful story that is well worth the read.  It leaves you hungry for more – chocolate brownies and other goodies, lusting after a few good looking hunks along the way, and longing for a special relationship that has hope to last into forever (mine did J).
I would give this special book a very special 4.5 STARS.


Why did you reach out to write a story about recovering from loss?  Okay, in the romantic comedy venue?
Thanks, Karen! You’ve asked a wonderful question... The answer has a lot to do with what “recovering from loss” means to me personally. I think when we experience something devastating, it can take a while to reach a point where we find *anything* funny. Some of us might see all the world through a sad and serious lens for much longer than we’d like. And I believe it’s important to take the time to really grieve. But I’ll never forget the day I received the tragic news from a good friend that her brother-in-law (a guy I knew) and his new fiancée had died on impact in a winter car crash. After I expressed my shock and sadness, though, it was what my friend said next that had the greatest impact on me. She told me that in the week since the accident, she and her husband (who was the brother of the man who died) had found some bright memories to make them smile. That they’d even been joking about things the young couple might have said, had they lived. And I remember appreciating this gift that they’d given to each other and me, too...both honoring the people they’d lost but, also, demonstrating that they knew we’d all have to accept what happened, move on, and find a way to be happy again. So, for me, I see a restoration of one’s sense of humor as a sign that we’re on the road to recovery. Not that we don’t still acutely feel a loss or that we don’t have sad moments, too, just that we recognize that we can tap into a sense of hopefulness again. In my opinion, that’s a real turning point, and it’s one worthy of exploring in fiction.

What is your favorite Chocolate Brownie?  Recipe?
Ohhhh, I love ALL brownies! Truly... But my favorite? That would have to be an exceptionally moist one with ribbons of caramel in it and semi-sweet chocolate chips. In The One That I Want, two of the characters get to eat what I call “the best brownie in North America,” which isn’t something I’ve had recently (unfortunately! I’m trying to eat a little less sugar!), but I have tasted a few that could be in the running for that title. Here’s a picture of one of them and a link to its recipe at “Taste of Home.” YUM!

Any new books in the works?
Yes! The first two books in the Mirabelle Harbor series -- Take a Chance on Me (book 1) and The One That I Want (book 2) -- are coming out at the end of July within days of each other. As soon as the release week whirlwind slows down a bit for them, I’ll get back to working on the next two novels in the series -- You Give Love a Bad Name (book 3) and Stranger on the Shore (book 4). All of the stories in the series are stand-alone romances, but certain characters find themselves to be regular players in multiple books (especially the members of the Michaelsen family!) and, of course, the community of Mirabelle Harbor connects them all, too.

How did you and your husband meet?
It was my 23rd birthday, and he was my present! Well, that’s the truth as I see it. :) I’d moved to Illinois only a month before to accept a teaching position in the northern Chicago suburbs, and a new friend I’d made from the school district, Mary, took me out to dinner for my birthday. We went to a local place that was known for their sandwiches and burgers -- a spot neither of us had been to, but it was recommended to us by a guy we knew from our apartment building, just as we were walking into town. So it was a very random choice. While inside, we were seated near another table with three people who turned out to be teachers as well. They were from another school district, though, so Mary and I didn’t know any of them. Again, very random! For some reason, my friend and the lady at the other table started chatting. Then one of the guys got up to make a phone call. So that left me and the remaining man to either talk to each other or stare at our sandwiches. We decided to talk, and within a few minutes, he’d asked me out, LOL. (Hey, he was smart, charming, and he made me laugh!) We’ve been married for over 22 years now...
Marilyn, thank you so much for joining us here, just days before the release of your fantastic new novel, THE ONE I WANT.  We look forward to watching the fantastic reviews pore in, as readers have opportunity to read this poignant, but uplifting newest work.

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To make sure you get your copy as soon as it come available, you can go to any of these Pre-Order Links:
B&N and Apple links coming soon!

Social Media:
The Lounge (New! The Mirabelle Harbor page on Facebook):

TAKE A Chance on Me

Welcome to Mirabelle Harbor! In this scenic suburb on Chicago’s North Shore, overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan, the Michaelsen family has made their home for generations. Although their parents and grandparents are now gone, siblings Derek, Blake, Sharlene, and the twins—Chandler and Chance—all have fond memories of growing up in town, and most still live there.

Chance Michaelsen, the youngest member of the family (by two minutes) and the quietest (by far), is a dedicated twenty-eight-year-old personal trainer at the local gym. While he might not say much, Chance has made it clear that he’s not a fan of toxic people, unhealthy habits, or sharing too many of his emotions. With anybody.

Enter Antonia “Nia” Pappayiannis—the prettiest member of the loudest and most overly demonstrative family in town. They’re also the owners of The Gala, a Greek restaurant and bakery known for its decadent pastries and located just a few steps from Chance’s gym. He considers their entire family business to be the enemy of good health, but he can’t quite shake his attraction to Nia, who doesn’t seem nearly as impressed with him or his sculpted physique as most of the women around Mirabelle Harbor.

Unfortunately, between her doctor’s orders and the interfering ways of Chance’s crazy-making ex-girlfriend, who just happens to be one of Nia’s long-time friends, Chance gets assigned to be Nia’s fitness coach for the month. Pure torture. And if his ex weren’t already causing enough problems, he also has to deal with Nia’s current boyfriend—some hotshot Chicago CEO who talks big but, in Chance’s opinion, is as fake as a Styrofoam barbell.

The road to romance is going to be a rocky one, and though Nia has her doubts about moving forward, Chance has a well-developed competitive streak and might just be willing to give it a shot...if he can convince her to do the same.

In matters of the heart, would you risk it all? TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

**TAKE A CHANCE ON ME is Book 1 (a novella) in Marilyn Brant’s Mirabelle Harbor series, but this book and all of the contemporary romances in this series can be enjoyed as stand-alone stories.**

To be released shortly at

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Look for all of the contemporary romances in her new Mirabelle Harbor series, beginning late July 2015! Visit her website: