Blog Book Tour | “Been Searching for You” by Nicole Evelina

Posted Wednesday, 13 July, 2016 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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A bit of an interesting back-story, in regards to how I came to participate in this blog tour on behalf of Nicole Evelina’s debut Contemporary Rom release: “Been Searching for You”! I met her stories through the Historical releases attached to the Guinevere Trilogy (see also: Daughter of Destiny & Camelot’s Queen reviews) wherein I garnished a deep appreciation for her writing style and the methodology of incorporating her research into a historical timeline where legend, lore and memory can collide quite beautifully together! If you visit those reviews, you’ll understand why I have such an affinity for her style of writing!

She approached me about potentially reading her Contemporary Rom and I was overjoyed at the suggestion, as regular readers of my blog will recognise this one area of Romance Lit I am eager to discover but find it hard tracking through the plethora of releases to find a ‘style of Contemporary Rom’ that whets my thirst for stories set in our modern times. I’ve had a bit of good luck with the authors via ChocLitUK and with the Mary McNear series set at Butternut Lake; both of which I readily think of nowadays for Contemporary mainstream romance whereas if I think about INSPY my mind instantly goes to Brenda S. Anderson (see Chain of Mercy)!

Therefore, I was directly invited to participate in this blog tour, hosted by Goddess Book Tours via the author Nicole Evelina. I received a complimentary copy of “Been Searching for You” direct from the author Nicole Evelina in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘Been Searching for You’:

I love well written relationship-based Romances but also, ones where you can see a thread of hope for love – no matter how old you are and no matter where you are on your path in life.

*I have to read this book!* No seriously — for a romantic optimist whose a singleton — I just have to read this! Thanks for writing such a lovely novel!!

-initial reactions I shared with Ms Evelina on behalf of Been Searching For You

It goes without saying that anyone who is delighted to read uplifting stories of entwining souls finding each other would be thrilled to bits to read the premise of this novel! My anticipation to read it’s chapters and find out how Annabeth found the one person who understood her and loved her as much as she loved him was definitely a story I knew I *had!* to read! I love reading Romance Fiction because at the heart of every story, is the journey towards finding someone who gets you without having to define who you are to them and who accepts you just as you are whilst believing in you unconditionally. Love and Romance are a lift of joy to read – I have the tendency to yield to the historical past moreso than the present, but it’s simply because I’m seeking a particular kind of Contemporary Rom!

As forementioned, nearly all the Contemporary Romances I’ve been able to pull my heart inside were published by ChocLitUK or set in a lovely small towne called Butternut Lake! One exception are the realistically authentic novels of Brenda S. Anderson (in regards to her Coming Home series) where you find compelling characters who are in the middle of a life altering circumstance to change their stars. I have a feeling I’ll have a similar reaction to the Contemporaries by Julie Lessman, as I know her Contemporary style & Historical differ a bit from each other, but when you truly love an author’s collective work you tend to move between genres with them. This isn’t always the case but most times it’s quite accurate of my reading habits. Prior to being a book blogger, I would claim the Cedar Cove series by Debbie Macomber and her Blossom Street series as being of interest alongside Sherryl Wood’s Sweet Magnolia’s series.

Another Indie Author who caught me at ‘hallo’ is T.S. Krupa, especially in regards to her debut and sophomore Contemporary Women’s Fiction releases: Safe and Sound and On the Edge. Krupa has such conviction and such emotional depth to her sequences, they grab you straight in the heart! Kamy Wicoff’s Wishful Thinking was such a genre-bender explosion of loveliness I have the tendency to forget it’s a Contemporary Romance! Laughs. As you can see, I love brilliantly conceived stories with realistically compelling characters in pursuit of love, happiness and the joys of living their lives on their own terms.

Technically, the stories of Coorah Creek also apply except being they are Contemporary Westerns, I held back from including them, opting instead to highlight the stories set within modern settings with contemporary women seeking a partner who truly understands her rather than seeing straight past her! I also omitted the Rom Suspense novels I love from Clare Chase, Henriette Gyland and Amanda James or the PNR wicked reads I love from Sarah Tranter, Berni Stevens and Christina Courtenay for similar reasons.

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Blog Book Tour | “Been Searching for You” by Nicole EvelinaBeen Searching For You

Annabeth is a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates. In fact, she’s been writing to hers each year on her birthday since she was 16.

Now, at 34, she’s still holding out hope of finding Mr. Right even though he’d be fighting an uphill battle to gain her trust, thanks to a traumatic experience years before that’s left her unable to commit.

When Annabeth meets a handsome literature professor named Alex on her 34th birthday, she thinks her quest may finally be at an end. Things don’t quite go as planned, so Annabeth resolves to do everything she can over the next year to find the unknown recipient of her letters. But blind dates, Meetup events and online singles sites have nothing on what fate has in store for her when a co-worker unexpectedly quits and Annabeth finds herself working in close quarters with both Alex and her long ago ex, Nick. Fighting her attraction to one and loathing for the other, Annabeth is forced to face all of her old insecurities while keeping an eye on a scheming frienemy who may derail her hopes and dreams.

Written in the tradition of Bridget Jones' Diary, Kim Gruenfelder’s A Total Waste of Makeup, and Melissa Pimental’s Love By The Book, it shows that love on the sweet side can exist for the modern girl, if only she’s willing to trust herself and search hard enough. Been Searching for You was the winner of the 2015 Romance Writers of America Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780996763165

on 2nd April, 2016

Pages: 312

Collective works of Nicole Evelina:

 Guinevere Tale Trilogy: Book No. 1 Daughter of Destiny (review)

Guinevere Trilogy: Book No. 2 Camelot’s Queen (review)

Guinevere Tale Trilogy: Book No. 3 Mistress of the Legend releases late 2016/early 2017

Madame Presidentess (Book Synopsis) #PubDay 25 July 2016

About Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina

Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her current novel, Been Searching for You, a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

She also writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, took first place in the legend/legacy category of the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. Later this year (2016), she will release Madame Presidentess (July 25), a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, which was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Author biography was updated July 2016.

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My Review of Been Searching For You:

Annabeth arrives at her themed singles party (named on the spur of the moment) she cleverly attached to a particularly infamous book series that sparked a movie no one has yet to stop talking about – although, this reader avoided it like the plague! Laughs. I was happily taking notes on the differences in personalities – between myself and the characters Evelina was presenting in the story-line. I wasn’t too surprised as oft-times I thrive on interests outside my own peer group’s radar! What did anchour me to Annabeth is her willingness to go along with things, even if they are not the right fit for her either. She has a traditional heart towards love and romance; the story opens where she is penning her thirty-fourth year letter to her future husband, a testament of all the years since she turnt sixteen to where her hope was inked out in words expressing her desire to meet the one who would honour her with all the good qualities she was seeking to find.

The tongue-in-cheek bookish exchange between Annabeth and Alex was quite cleverly placed, as it set to aspire a causal connection between them that might lead to further conversations lateron. For whichever reason, Annabeth took Alex unawares, making him want to be more honest and upfront with her whereas in the past, he’s kept himself a bit at a distance from owning his honest opinions. A clever twist of choice on his part, and a telling revelation on hers, how she likes the fusion between the classical past and the modern bent on literature. There was a bit of Evelina in that answer, I think, as she is spilt between worlds herself – the historical and the contemporary. I admit, I was curiously curious about the idea Annabeth pitched about the Chicago mobster series from the 1920s!

Evelina alternates the pacing of the story between sharing snippets of Annabeth’s internal thoughts, journalled notes and pieces of her writing (either the essay for the online dating site or her annual soul-mate letters) – making this partially epistolary in scope. One of my favourite sections of the story is actually where Annabeth gets a bit more real with her readerly audience by disclosing exactly why she is different from most singleton’s seeking companionship and a steady relationship:

To all of you who look at my age and wonder how what I say is possibly true, I’ll only say one thing – not everyone’s life fits society’s timeline. Some people are lucky enough to fall in love in high school or college and stay together for the rest of their lives. And that’s great. I’m happy for them. But that’s not the way things worked out for me. I’ve got a great life with a burgeoning career, a loving family, and loyal friends, but I don’t have anyone to share it with.

-quoted from Chapter Two, page 28-29 (Annabeth’s essay) from Been Searching for You

I felt this spoke directly to how singleton’s feel, especially (as she goes further to make her case) in regards to justifying where they are in their lives and why they are ‘still single’ when everyone else has been paired off; either through marriage or by choice to live together without taking vows. It speaks to the truth about how you can proceed forward on your path without being blessed by finding the one person who accepts you without questioning why you are who you are to the world.

As Annabeth’s team is hired by the University of Chicago (the setting is ideal, I’ve heard stories of this city all my life; as part of my family is from there) to head-up a new pitch to attract students to study Literature by putting into theory something that is alive and well inside the twitterverse chats was quite fittingly accurate with where teaching is being led to go today. During a #HistoricalFix chat (one of my mainstays per quarter; those chatters are my tribe!) we even pitched why Historical Fiction isn’t used as a juxtaposition entry towards understanding the historical past, due to the level of research the authors are commencing with as they release their novels (one reason why Biographical Historical Fiction is one of my favourites to devour!). I have also learnt of the idea percolating in this novel across chats for Young Adult literature and threading through chatter originally stemming out of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, where today’s college readers (18-21) are more attracted to reading YA than ever before. I’d reckon it has a heap to do with the fact when we (those of us in our thirties) were growing up, YA was in its infancy compared to today’s literary market. Although, on a personal note of interest – the most popular YA serials are not my cuppa at all (including The Hunger Games & Divergent). I felt Evelina was smart to broach this topic of interest as it is very much a ‘current topical discussion’ that is transitioning out of the twitterverse into the book world & potentially into Education. You’d be surprised what you can learn by observational conversations on Twitter!

Annabeth is really accepting of her friends’ nudges towards dating – she tries everything they throw at her from the social awkwardness of wearing a certain coloured shirt to dictate your relationship status which was turnt quickly into a free-for-all drinking game of sorts (the alcohol flowed so freely it outmatched the potential dates!) to a quasi-attempt at online dating that yielded to popularity in the blogosphere (her essay was reprinted!). Evelina showcases many of the landmarks of Chicago whilst Annabeth paints the town (so to speak) in search of her long-lost love of whom she hasn’t met but still wishes she could communicate with directly without relying on her letters to speak her mind.

Throughout her journey, she meets the regular sorts you’d expect, the ones who’d rather have a causal hook-up than a lifetime commitment or the ones who really aren’t searching for anything but a good time at the event itself. She’d find herself attracted to a few of them, but failed to make the connection stick when she started to converse with them; either their interests were opposite of her own or they were on a different wavelength altogether!

By the time her ex showed up at her workplace, I knew the tides would turn for the worse, which in retrospect was ill-timed all the way round! She was becoming more confident around Alex (the Professor of Literature) and growing a bit less connected to Victor; she was juggling two steady boyfriends at this point, which was growing complicated but as she hadn’t sorted her feelings, neither one expected to have her full attention. She definitely relaxed in the presence of Alex, where she could be free with her thoughts, share her intellectualism and even jar with him a bit with her smiling wit for creative wordplay! Whenever she went back with Victor, it was reminder of what she couldn’t give to a relationship and thus, the sudden entrance back into her life by Nick was throwing her into a state of flux. She was back-treading fast and not enjoying how her past was merging into her present. Besides which, Nick was quite the rake and his personality would sour a lemon into oblivion!

I was a bit surprised by the choices Annabeth was making – not only to pursue finding her true love but even after she felt she had found him and sorted out which of the men she was potentially dating was the most honourable, she all but torpedoed her chances with him outright. She did trust the wrong friend – that much was certain, but some of the other choices she made along the way, I was at a bit of a loss to understand directly. She put herself into certain positions that felt would go astray even on the offset of having the appearance of being alright. She was conflicted due to her past relationship with Nick, but it was how deeply he wounded her emotionally that truly nearly wrecked any chance she had at happiness.

One of the graces she received was forgiveness but it was interlocked by grief and the tentacles of seeing how two families can bridge together. Not everything was roses nor was it bittersweet, it was simply an honest representation of how one woman refused to give in to the fact she wouldn’t meet someone she could love unconditionally and receive the same in return. She faltered and she picked herself up again, straight til the moment she realised (quite blessedly) the man she fell in love with understood her even better than she knew herself!

Fly in the ointment:

I honestly expected it – most Contemporary Roms today flirt with vulgarity as does most Contemporary Women’s Fiction. I get it. Most of my peers love seeing strong language in Romance novels, I for one, do not share the joy in seeing it. However, blessedly Evelina did not irk my ire as much as most do; for starters, some of the instances were right on cue to actually make sense for that scene or that moment of dialogue (not my personal choice, but still!). Other times it was fallback to how my peerage likes to express themselves or causally speak without using other words to say the same. So, on that level of mention, as I went into this bracing for the vulgarity to enter stage left, I was prepared. I had hoped it was not going to pick up pace, however, it did and for that I wish it had been used far less.

*Update: I heard from Ms Evelina (hours after this posted), and she mentioned to me the word choices she was using were representative of the people around her & the ones she might use herself. Therefore, this book is in-part spoken through how the author would find conversations alighting inside her own life. However, I always add notes about this particular issue in books based on my own readerly preferences whilst eluding to the fact, it’s not commonplace in IRL for me. I don’t honestly know anyone personally who speaks this way?! In truth, I never did.

The Contemporary Rom style of Nicole Evelina:

Note: I wrote these paragraphs ahead of reading the above quote from the novel, as I wanted to share a few words on behalf of the story prior to reading as to clue my readers into why the premise appealed to me to read in the first place! Imagine my happy surprise in finding such a keenly similar thread of context in the novel!?

Even before I started reading the novel, I was in full gratitude to Ms Evelina for writing a character in the middle of her thirties! Too oft, I think writers overlook this particular decade and vie for either the twenties or the forties as starting points, but what about those who are still singleton’s in this decade!? I even liked the premise about how Annabeth hasn’t grown embittered or jaded – she’s still full of light and hope for finding her soul partner whilst knowing there is a bloke out there that will love her without question. That’s a powerful premise – especially since it’s very rarely told. Generally speaking, most women who are written into Contemporary Fiction (either through the vein of Women’s Fiction or Romance) are recently divorced, recently widowed or had to leave their husbands due to abuse, infidelity or (insert) something quite horrid that doesn’t lead to long-term marital bliss!

There is a time and place for those kinds of stories, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes – it’s simply refreshing to curl up inside a Contemporary Rom that you can personally relate too . The situations might differ but the crust of what the story hinges on is directly able to be aligned with your own life – a singleton still hopeful about whom she will one day meet. That’s a story for today’s modern women and today’s singletons who are not living a traditional trajectory of school, career, marriage, children, etc. This is why I love seeking out the stories like this one where women are still living in the moment of hope without allowing themselves to lose sight that a happy ending is still coming around the corner for them!

As an aside, I have no idea what A Total Waste of Makeup or Love by the Book even involved, and despite my intent to read Bridget Jones Diary, I found the film adaptations more palpable to my tastes! None of this truly swayed me one way or another, as I loved the premise of Been Searching for You, as despite the best intentions for “read alikes or similar reads” if I cannot attach a plausible curiosity to read a story based on it’s synopsis, it’s simply not going to be my cuppa! Thus, I took a chance on this one solely because of the circumstances Annabeth was getting herself entangled!

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In regards to #EqualityInLit – Evelina not only used accurate cross-references to popular culture (including RENT, the Broadway Musical; one of my most beloved favourites FYI) she wrote-in a character whose sexuality is fluid (Mia) moving between straight and bisexuality. Mia’s character was so naturally occurring inside her skin, you could not consider her character forced into the context of the story – if anything, there were moments where she stole the spotlight away from Annabeth! Mia is one of those forces of nature who demands attention whilst being highly dramatic and emotionally charged. She’s living inside the moment without worry for the morrow and cannot totally understand the sentimentality Annabeth holds onto in regards to traditions or the different way each of them approach living their lives. It was on the fringes of my mind to make the cross-reference when Evelina made it for me first: Mia is very much akin to Maureen from RENT! Although, I think since they are such equals they’d cancel each other out if they were ever to meet! Aye!

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Goddess Book Tours

Click the banner to follow the route!

Been Searching For You blog tour via Goddess Book ToursFun Stuff for Your Blog via I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “Been Searching For You”, author biography, author photograph of Nicole Evelina and the tour host badge were all provided by Goddess Book Tours and used with permission. Small quotations are permissible per copyright notice inside the novel when composing a book review. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Ruminations & Impressions Banner and Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 13 July, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Chicago, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Humour Therein, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Modern Day, Romantic Comedy, Singletons & Commitment, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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