Welcome to Book Chat with Julie! I’m excited to be with you today and chat about a New Orleans romantic comedy and a new-to-me author!

The first book is “So Not My Thing,” by Melanie Jacobson. It’s set in New Orleans and the reader can tell right away that the author has a special place in her heart for the city. The setting is so well done that it feels like the reader is right there experiencing it all with the characters! That adds an additional depth and perspective to this sweet romance that has chemistry and sparkle to spare.

Years ago, our hero, Miles, hit the big-time in his singing career and Elle was his fan. But one interview and a viral fan video later, Miles has unwittingly turned Elle’s life upside down and she won’t ever forgive him for it. Fast forward to present-day and Elle is all grown up and has carved a peaceful, predictable life for herself—until Miles suddenly appears and unexpectedly becomes her client. He doesn’t recognize her, though, and Elle is going to do everything she can to keep it that way and drop him as quickly as possible. The more time they spend together, however, the more she realizes that Miles might not be the man she thought he was—but could she ever let herself feel anything for him again?

This book is full of so much emotion and heart, with just the right amount of comedy to balance it all out. Elle is the kind of girl you’d want to be friends with in real life and because of that, readers will be rooting for her to get her happily-ever-after. Miles has come a long way and the author cleverly reveals the layers to him and his feelings in a way that will have readers eagerly turning the page to see what happens. The slow-burn romance hits all the right notes and combined with the gorgeous New Orleans setting that includes jazz music, great food, and an atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else, it’s a story that will wrap readers in the warmth of family, friendship, and love.

Behind the Scenes—An Interview with Author Melanie Jacobson

I had such a wonderful time learning more about Melanie and her book. You can hear her entire interview on my Book Chat with Julie podcast and she was my featured guest at my Book Chat Book Club on April 12th. If you would like to join the Book Chat Book Club, you can click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055727957843897

Here is a little bit of our chat:

Julie: I loved the New Orleans setting of this book. Does New Orleans hold a special place for you?

Melanie Jacobson: I grew up in Baton Rouge, so New Orleans is part of my childhood. I’ve been there many times over the years, and even though I live in California, I still go back often. Each time, I uncover new layers.  I noticed that several other sweet romcoms were set in cities like Nashville and Charleston, often by authors who aren’t from there. New Orleans is one of the most fascinating cities in the country to me, and I felt sure readers would enjoy learning all about the non-touristy side of it, and I was sure I could do it justice. It’s a great place for romance and novels!

Julie: Where did you get the idea for this book?

Melanie Jacobson: The central conflict is about a girl who goes viral in the early days of internet virality–that actually happened to one of my students during the second season of American Idol. The camera captured her having a meltdown in the live audience over her favorite contestant, and it just kept panning back to her. What unfolded over the next month at our school and in her life was chaos. I wanted to explore how that could shape someone over the years. 

Julie: Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?

Melanie Jacobson: The grand gesture at the end of this one was so much fun. I had to develop new talents and skills to pull it off! Let’s just say that. But probably the cooking scenes with Miss Mary. I just channeled how my Cajun pawpaw taught me to cook and wrote those scenes with a lot of love. 

Julie: Do you like jazz music?

Melanie Jacobson: Some of it. I like Dixieland jazz, which is the New Orleans sound.  

Julie: Did you ever consider including some of the recipes that are mentioned in the book? What is your favorite New Orleans food?

Melanie Jacobson: I think about including them all the time, but it doesn’t matter how many times I transcribe the gumbo recipe for people, it doesn’t make sense until you watch me do it. So, I’ve had lots of friends come over through the years to learn. It’s the roux that’s tricky because it’s the most important part. But I think I’ll eventually include a recipe section on my website just for fun. My favorite New Orleans food is beignets though, and I put the easiest cheater beignet recipe on my Instagram!

Julie: What are you working on now? 

Melanie Jacobson: I’m finishing the third–and I think final–book in this series called Maybe I Will. It picks up the story of Ellie’s roommate and brother, and I’m LOVING how it’s turning it out. I keep making myself laugh, and that’s always a good sign.

That’s a very good sign! I can’t wait to read that one.

The second book I’d like to chat about with you today is a new-to-me author, Jessica Scarlett. Her regency romance, “A Lady on the Chase,” was recommended to me and I’m so glad it was! I nearly read it all in one day. It has a reclusive and reluctant hero, a heroine who always seems to be in the middle of a scandal, and an unpredictable journey to love that will draw readers in and keep them glued to the page!

Lady Alicia Kendall has loved her childhood friend Henry for her entire life and she dreams of being his wife. Unfortunately, her father does not approve of the match, but he strikes a bargain with her: Lady Alicia has two weeks to secure a proposal from Henry or her father will choose her husband. But when a misunderstanding occurs, Lady Alicia receives a proposal from Matthew Wycliffe, a man she despises. In order to avoid another scandal, she must seem to accept him, and this sets off a chain of events so surprising that readers will be anxiously turning pages to see what happens!

I loved the witty banter between the hero and heroine and there were definitely some laugh-out-loud moments as these two “enemies” find themselves in unexpected situations and real feelings begin to surface. The author has a descriptive style that made the characters and settings relatable and realistic and added to the beauty of the romance. A Lady on the Chase is the third book in the series, but I did not feel lost at all. I did go back and read the first two books in the series, however, and enjoyed them both, though A Lady on the Chase holds a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. I will definitely be watching for more from this author!

Thank you so much for joining me today! I hope you’ll get a chance to check out these books.

So Not My Thing by Melanie Jacobson published by Four Petal Press, 236 pages, available in softcover and ebook.

Lady on the Chase by Jessica Scarlett published by Redwing Publishing, 336 pages, available in softcover and ebook.

About the Reviewer: Julie Coulter Bellon

After winning $10 in a second-grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now the author of over two dozen romantic suspense novels. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie.

In the Non-Fiction Corner with Lauren

Before picking up her book “Far Above Rubies,” Tamara Uzelac Hall was an unfamiliar name to me. Now, I cannot wait to get my hands on everything this incredible woman has written and somehow become her best friend! I cannot say enough good about this book. As I was nearing the end of my reading, I was trying to calculate how much it would cost to buy a box of these books and give them to all the women in my life, it is that good! Hall is hilarious, brilliant, and has had so many experiences in her life that will make it hard to put the book down.

Yes, this is a book about one proverb in the Old Testament. I, too, was skeptical that a wildly thought-provoking and insightful book could be written on just a few Old Testament verses, but now I’m wishing I could have Tamara Hall expound on every chapter of scripture for me.

One thing that I particularly loved about this book is that it is chock-full of Hebrew translations that helped me gain new meaning from these verses. The author puts them into context, translates them, and then uses an example from her own life to teach in such a beautiful way. There are also note pages after every chapter so you can record your insights as you read.

One part of the book that struck me is that God is referred to as “I AM” in the scriptures. That is also the answer we give when someone asks us if we are willing to do something, or make a covenant.  Hall writes, “Dr. Black pointed out that when we answer in His name, I Am, we acknowledge that we may not be perfect at keeping our covenants but that through His enabling power, we can.” There are so many gems like that in this book that you will be thinking about it long after you’ve turned the last page.

A five-star Old Testament read!

Far Above Rubies by Tamara Uzelac Hall, published by Covenant Communications, Inc., 188 pages, available in softcover and ebook.