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First Editorial Review of Guns & Smoke!

First, I'd like to talk for a few minutes about by new upcoming co-authored novel Guns & Smoke. It's a Dystopian/Western Romance filled with heart-stopping adventure, sizzling romance, and two broken characters trying to overcome the trauma of their pasts. This book was first conceptualized in 2012 with my brilliant Co-Author A. Smith who you can find at her website www.abbielynnsmith.com and on various social media sites as well.


It was supposed to start off as a wine-fueled short story that exploded into an entire world full of rich characters, stunning plotlines, and danger. It's been a real honor to write these characters and to see this world come to life and I'm SO EXCITED to share it with the world! Abbie and I have partnered with Cavalier House Books, a local indie bookstore to help promote the launch of this book later this year. That's something else I'm super proud of. Supporting a local business, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was something that was really important to both of us. So, if you want a copy, I encourage you to purchase from them by using the link provided or going to the book link page on my website!


Next, I'd like to talk about Editorial Reviews in general. Specifically for indie or self-published authors. It can be incredibly hard to find editorial review companies willing to give a professional and thorough assessment of your book. Something I think is incredibly important for readers to have. I mean, if you're going to spend your hard-earned money, you should be able to see clearly the themes, content, and overall opinion of someone whose job it is to be critical of novels in the genre. Reader reviews are also really important, but, as is often the case... if you're marketing is a little off you could be attracting readers who aren't necessarily in your genre and those reviews have the potential to misrepresent a book. (This doesn't always happen, but is possible)


I've been incredibly happy with the professionalism and quality of review I received from The Independent Book Review. They've always been prompt, promise 100% honest reviews, and their reviewers have been able to pick up on things that I always worry might get lost in the action of a book. While they don't promise good reviews, they do promise honest ones (which I think is more important anyway). And if their reviewer really loves the book, they do offer to post it on their socials and website. 10/10 I would definitely recommend them to any indie, small press, or self-published author looking for editorial reviews.


Now onto the exciting part!


Our reviewer Steph Huddleston from The Independent Book Review LOVED Guns & Smoke. While she gave it 4/5 stars, her full review was comprehensive, flattering, and honestly... really timely. As an Indie Author sometimes you worry about the way your book will be received by the public, especially in the weeks leading up to launch. Her words and how clearly she saw the characters and their individual journeys reassured me that all the work we've done has paid off!


I'd like to share her full review with you here and talk about a few quotes from it that I find SO AMAZING!






This review is seriously so well-balanced and wonderful. I love how Steph was able to acknowledge some of the things that I think readers will agree with, like the constant interruptions during the story that DO at times feel tiresome. I can absolutely agree with that as the characters began to get a little fatigued with them as well during the writing of this book. However, just like she stated, in the end it does help the relationship with them grow deeper and feel well deserved by the end of the book.


I've seen too often an unbalance in the dynamic in romance plots, but this is not the case with Bonnie and Jessie. Bonnie maintains her strength and leadership, and Jessie displays his vulnerability without either compromising who they are as they edge toward each other.

This quote from the review I've read... too many times to admit to, if I'm being honest. This really is, in my opinion, one of the best things about this review. How clearly she what was so important to Abbie and I. There are a ton of first person dual perspective romances out there, and a lot of the time there is a 'main' protagonist and a 'love interest' protagonist where all the development really is one-sided. Abbie and I didn't want that. Both of these characters have clear character arcs, goals, flaws, and traumas to overcome. We didn't want either of them to feel one-dimensional or only there to further the romance plot. The fact that she picked up on this and it read well to her, I can't tell you how much that means.


Bonnie and Jessie are both complete individuals with different experiences, backgrounds, and moral codes. While Jessie is newer to the rigors and dangers of the world outside his sheltered Montana small-town life, Bonnie has been in the thick of it for so long she's hardened her heart to the things around her. Yes, they edge closer toward each other, but at times its these exact differences that keep them at arm's length from each other. They're so different that those obstacles have to be overcome before they can truly accept each other and be together in a real way. Seeing that a reviewer was able to understand and appreciate that is really great.


The chemistry between Bonnie and Jessie is sizzling, and readers are sure to fall in love with these broken but mending people.

Broken but mending. I couldn't have described them better if I tried! Bonnie and Jessie both have to overcome trauma from their past, uncertainty about the future, and misconceptions (either about themselves or the other person) before they can truly open their hearts. They are broken. But, through an uneasy alliance turned shaky trust turned begrudging respect turned unbreakable bond they learn that life shouldn't be about just surviving. That love is a risk, but that it's one worth taking.


The plot points and setting are intentionally (and beautifully) reminiscent of an old Western film.

*Happy squealing!* I mean, the fact that the review touches on this is just melting my heart at my computer screen right now. THANK YOU! This is one thing that both Abbie and I really wanted. Growing up in the south, Abbie's grandfather being a HUGE fan of old Westerns and my own experience with riding and shooting, was a really intentional and personal choice for the worldbuilding of this novel. When we imagined the end of the world set in post-apocalyptic America (specifically in the southwest region for this novel) we thought about what that would look like to us.


Dystopian as a genre in general is a satirical look at the world around us and the problems we see in our society today. There are elements of that sprinkled throughout this very Darwinism inspired society. The labels of present day society have been stripped away, now the only thing that matters is the weak vs. the strong. So taking the world back to a very wild west era in some regards felt appropriate and timely. Without fossil fuels to fuel cars, they're pretty much non-existent as anything other than annoying road blocks at times. So horses are the main mode of transportation. Water has to be rationed in the larger cities with ration tickets. Everything that they have is second hand or scavenged.


I think fans of Western Romances or Dystopian or even shows like Firefly or the video game Borderlands will really enjoy the world we've created with this series. I can't wait to launch this book on July 10th, 2021!


Pre-orders are available platform wide in both paperback and e-book format. Cavalier House Books will be providing SIGNED paperback copies through their website and I'll make sure to keep everyone up to date. Anyone pre-ordering will also be in for a surprise as we plan to give out tons of swag. Leading up to launch we'll be doing giveaways, teasers, snippets, and more!


If you'd like to learn more about Guns & Smoke you can check out the book trailer HERE. You can also find it on Goodreads and add it to your TBR.


Keep your guns loaded and your flasks full outlaws,


xo,


Lauren.



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