Spotlight & $25 GC Giveaway: KISSING KIN by Karen Hulene Bartell

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon/BN gift card.  Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Description of Kissing Kin


Maeve Jackson is starting over after a broken engagement—and mustering out of the Army. No job and no prospects, she spins out on black ice and totals her car.


When struggling vintner Luke Kaylor stops to help, they discover they’re distantly related. On a shoestring budget to convert his vineyard into a winery, he makes her a deal: prune grapevines in exchange for room and board.


But forgotten diaries and a haunted cabin kickstart a five-generational mystery with ancestors that have bones to pick. As carnal urges propel them into each other’s arms, they wonder: Is their attraction physical…or metaphysical?


Read an Excerpt of Kissing Kin


Cover of Kissing Kin“Mind if I camp out ’til the roads clear?”


“Under the circumstances?” The clerk shook his head. “Not a problem.”


“Thanks.” He started toward the sitting room and nearly bumped into Maeve, leaning against the wall. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”


“You didn’t.” She tossed her chin. “I was cat-napping.”


“Right.” He compared her guarded veneer to her sleeping-beauty persona. Which is closer to her true self?


“Couldn’t help overhearing.” Gesturing toward the clerk with her chin, she grimaced. “I’m responsible for you being out tonight–”


“No.” He shook his head. “This is just a freak storm.”


“You don’t have to sleep in a chair.” She took a deep breath and gave a quick, tight-lipped smile. “My room has two queen beds, and you’re welcome to one of ’em.”


Unsure of the extent of her invitation, he did a double take.


“Just so we understand each other, this is a bunk, a place to sack out. Period. Amen.” She spoke in a low-pitched, no-nonsense voice. “Nothing more, so don’t get any–”


“Got it.” He covered his disappointment with a laugh. “Thanks, I appreciate the offer, but I’ll be fine dozing by the fire.”


“Hey, I’ve bivouacked with soldiers in Afghanistan. We do what’s necessary under extenuating circumstances.” Shrugging, she glanced at the door. “And this blizzard qualifies.” Her face relaxed into a smile.


Her offer tempting, he compared sitting up all night to stretching out in a bed. Then he glimpsed the clerk.


“If you’re worried about my reputation, don’t be.” She laughed, the sound like sleigh bells tinkling on a crisp, wintry night.


What is it about her that conjures thoughts of other times–other eras?


Interview with Author Karen Hulene Bartell


What would we find under your bed?


Beneath the dust ruffle, you’d find dust bunnies of ginger cat hair and white bristles of our dog’s coat, along with whatever toys our fur babies hid under the bed.


What was the scariest moment of your life?


Too late during a budget tour of Paris, I learned our group would visit only the lowest level of the Eiffel Tower. I had traveled over four thousand miles to see the landmark, and by gosh, by golly, I was going to the top tier. Suffering from ignorant bliss, I left my group and set out alone, not worrying because, although I had no francs (this was prior to the Euro and Chip-n-Pin debit cards), I was armed with travelers checks.

Moments after my group left, the blue skies turned gray. Showers quickly turned into a deluge. High winds drove sheeting rain through the open-lattice ironworks, drenching us. The gendarmes closed access to the upper levels, but when I didn’t understand that we were being evacuated, the guards literally shoved me toward the down staircase. Despite my abysmal French, I finally understood.

At street level, I stopped a cab, but the cabby would not accept travelers checks without a passport. I naïvely had left mine in the hotel safe in suburban Paris, far from the city’s center. And he warned me that, without a passport, I could be arrested. With no francs and “worthless” travelers checks, all I had was one subway ticket–not a pass–but a ticket.

The Paris Metro of the 1980s required inserting a ticket into an automatic barrier each time you entered or transferred. Sometimes, the machine “spit it out” for reuse, but sometimes it would “eat” the ticket, in which case, I would be left with no means of returning to my hotel in the Parisian suburbs other than walking.

Two hours and multiple gray hairs later, I stumbled into my hotel, vowing never to desert another tour.


Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

No, I need quiet to write. If I’m in a public place when inspiration moves me, I have to wear earplugs to drown out the surrounding sounds.


What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

I would love to connect with a sympatico literary agent next year.


How long did it take you to write Kissing Kin?

Kissing Kin has undergone several iterations. I began the first version in 2020–a storyline of two generations of the same family linked by Covid and (via journals) the Spanish Flu of 1918. However, publishers turned me down, saying readers were sick of pandemics. Time passed. Kissing Kin languished.

The second version would have been part of series set in Colorado. I changed the location, the names, the family connections, adapted the story to the series’ outline, and left out the flu. That rendering didn’t fly, either. Time passed. Kissing Kin languished.

My third attempt is the version being released March 13th, which underwent further changes and required rewrites from the previous two iterations. Overall, I’ve been writing Kissing Kin for four years, but had the first version clicked, the process would have taken less than a year.



About Author Karen Hulene Bartell


author of Kissing KinAuthor of the Trans-Pecos and Sacred Emblem series, Karen is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life, who writes multicultural, offbeat love stories. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved often, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Texas Piney Woods with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.


Connect with Karen:








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A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon/BN gift card.


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  • Goddess Fish Promotions
    May 28, 2024 at 6:15 am

    Thank you for hosting KISSING KIN today.

  • Marcy Meyer
    May 28, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    The blurb sounds really interesting.

    • Karen Hulene Bartell
      June 1, 2024 at 5:55 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it, Marcy!

  • Sherry
    May 28, 2024 at 9:26 pm

    This sounds like an amazing read!

    • Karen Hulene Bartell
      June 1, 2024 at 5:55 pm

      Thank you for stopping by, Sherry!

  • Tracie M Cooper
    May 29, 2024 at 8:11 am

    What’s the most fun part of writing for you?

    • Karen Hulene Bartell
      June 1, 2024 at 5:56 pm

      Answering questions – thanks for dropping in, Tracie! I love the interaction.

  • Karen Hulene Bartell
    June 1, 2024 at 5:54 pm

    Thank you so much for hosting KISSING KIN! Apologies for being tardy in responding, but we were in Alaska with no Internet. Appreciate your help! Karen Hulene Bartell

  • Karen Hulene Bartell
    June 1, 2024 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you so much for hosting KISSING KIN! Apologies for the delayed response, but we were in Alaska last week without Internet access. Appreciate your help!