Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In Search of a Love Story by Rachel Schurig (Author Guest Post / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Rachel Schurig, author of In Search of a Love Story!

Author Guest Post

My favorite part of the writing process is getting to know my characters.

Between the time I start outlining a novel and the time I’ve finished, many of my characters have changed, sometimes becoming completely unrecognizable from the person I originally intended them to be.

Oftentimes it’s the plot that necessitates them changing. Other times it feels like they change and grow of their own accord, leaving me powerless to stop them. Emily Donovan, the main character of my novel In Search of a Love Story, is a character that changed quite a bit from the original outline. I’m sorry to say that the earliest version of Emily was somewhat one-dimensional. Outline-Emily was intended to be a quiet, bookish girl who couldn’t care less about finding love because she would rather disappear in a book. But once I started to expand on the character, she started to move in a very different direction. I asked myself to think about her background; where did she grow up? Who was she close to? What events influenced her beliefs, her likes and dislikes, her behavior? As I looked at these issues in depth, a clearer, more complicated picture of Emily Donovan began to take shape.

I decided early on that Emily would be from northern Michigan, a region I had spent a lot of time in while growing up. Being from a small town in the north woods would definitely help to shape the character. Emily probably spent a lot of time outdoors. Fishing, hiking, and camping would have certainly been part of her life. I had always intended for Emily to have been raised primarily by her father. As I fleshed out the events surrounding that scenario, another layer was added to the character. Now I was seeing Emily as someone who used interest in and participation in sports to try to get closer to her dad. Would Emily be satisfied with that relationship? How would missing her mom affect her? Before too long, I was thinking of Emily as someone who was desperately yearning for the love and comfort of family.

Emily was now a very different girl from the one I had intended to write about, and a much stronger character for it. The Emily I ended up writing about is more tomboy than bookish, more jock than quiet. She loves her father but finds it difficult to talk to him. She left her hometown and avoids visiting, but continues to feel drawn to and connected to the place. She thinks she couldn’t care less about the silly romantic stuff her friends swoon over, yet she very much wants to find true love. Most importantly, Emily is a girl who is struggling to find her own voice.

Going through this process of examination and change was really great for me as a writer. I feel like I know this character so much better than I did before. Emily Donovan is definitely a girl I would want to hang out with. I can only hope that readers will feel the same way!

About The Author

Rachel Schurig is the best selling author of the Three Girls series. She lives in the metro Detroit area with her dog, Lucy. She loves to watch reality TV and she reads as many books as she can get her hands on. In her spare time, Rachel decorates cakes.

Rachel Schurig ~ In Search of a Love Story ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Jan 21 - Feb 11, 2013

Everyone who leaves a comment on Rachel Schurig ~ In Search of a Love Story ~ Virtual Book Tour Page ~ Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of In Search of a Love Story before February 11th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Book Review

In Search of a Love Story by Rachel Schurig
Book 1: Love Story series
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: May 4, 2012
Format: Paperback - 280 pages / Kindle - 388 KB
ISBN: 1475252757
ASIN: B0080R7O4U
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Ficition

BUY THE BOOK: In Search of a Love Story


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Emily Donovan doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body.

At least, that’s what her friends Ryan and Ashley keep telling her. They’re convinced her bad luck with men is directly related to her life-long lack of interest in all things romantic. When Emily’s latest relationship crashes and burns, she decides to go along with her friends’ plans for a romance research project. Sure, the idea that she’ll have better luck if she learns about the great romances of literature and film seems a little silly, but Emily figures it can’t hurt.

In no time at all, Emily finds herself buried under a mountain of romance novels, chick flicks, and sappy love songs, hopeful that her hard work will pay off with true love. When she meets Greg, Ashley and Ryan are convinced she’s found prince charming—after all, he’s rich, handsome, and totally into Emily. What more could she want? And why does it seem that her friend Elliot isn’t exactly happy for her?

Faced with misunderstandings, miscommunications, and a seemingly endless string of missteps, she is nevertheless determined to give true love a try. In doing so, Emily will eventually find that true romance, the kind that lasts, has little to do with stereotypes or clich├ęs, and everything to do with finding out what’s in her own heart.

In Search of a Love Story is book #1 of the Love Story series.

Book Excerpt:

                                             Chapter One

That’s it. I’m done with men.

I mean it. I am absolutely, completely, one hundred percent finished with the male species.

I’ve come close to swearing off men before. Like after my break-up with Jacob. I was nearly ready to throw in the towel then. Or after my disastrous experiment with speed dating (you don’t even want to know). But my optimistic side always won out in the end, and I would give dating another shot.

Not this time, though. This time I really am done. Finished. For good.

I explained my newfound determination to my roommate Ashley as I drove to work that first morning AD (After Dylan).

“You don’t mean it,” Ashley soothed, her voice crackling somewhat through my cell phone. “You’re upset. You just got dumped!”

I made a face at the phone.

“I did not get dumped,” I said. “I did the dumping.”

Ashley was quiet for a moment. “Oh,” she said. “I guess I just assumed…”

“Thanks, Ash,” I said. “You really know how to make me feel better.”

“Sorry, sorry,” she said hurriedly. “So what happened?”

I had a mental flash of the night before, sitting in Dylan’s kitchen, take-out from his favorite restaurant laid out on the table in front of me, an ill-advised surprise to celebrate our three-month anniversary. From the hallway outside the apartment, I had heard the muffled sound of voices and the rattle of keys, which surely signaled Dylan’s arrival. Then I froze. Along with Dylan’s deep, familiar voice, there was another sound. A high-pitched, giggling sound. A girl.

“There was someone else,” I said to Ashley, forgetting to signal before I switched lanes. The driver behind me laid on his horn, and I fought back the urge to flip him off. “Another girl,” I clarified to Ashley. “He showed up at his apartment with her last night.”

On the other end of the phone, Ashley gasped. “The bastard!”

I felt myself flush as the mortification washed over me again. The cheating wasn’t even the worst part. Much more humiliating was the look on his face when he saw me sitting there at his kitchen table in my stupid red dress. He didn’t even have the decency to look scared or guilty. Instead, I caught a clear flash of annoyance in his eyes. That’s all I was to him: an irritation standing in the way of his plans to get lucky with the wide- eyed bimbo behind him.

“I should have known,” I told Ashley. “I mean, it was clear he was a bastard long before last night.”

“Love blinds us,” she said sagely, and I rolled my eyes. Typical Ashley. “Em, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there when you got home,” she continued. “You should have called me! I would have come back immediately.”

The truth was, I felt a measure of relief when I got back to our apartment last night and found the note from Ashley letting me know that she’d be spending the night at her boyfriend Chris’ss place. Under her familiar handwriting, Chris had added a little note wishing me luck with my surprise dinner and seduction plans. The embarrassment had been too much, and I was grateful that I’d have an evening alone to nurse my pride (or at least drown it with wine) before I had to tell either of them about it.

“It’s okay,” I told her. “I wasn’t up for much company anyhow.”

“You poor thing,” she said. From the other end of the phone I heard the muffled sound of a bell ringing, signaling the start of Ashley’s day as a kindergarten teacher.

“You should go,” I told her. “I’m almost to work anyhow.”

“We’ll have dinner tonight, whatever you want,” she told me. “I’ll call Ryan on my lunch break and tell him to come over.”

Ryan was one of our closest friends, so I knew he would find out what had happened eventually, but I still groaned softly at the thought of her telling him all the details. “Em, he loves you,” she said, obviously having heard me. “He’d want to be there.”

“I know,” I said, resigned. “Thanks for calling him.”

She was quiet for a moment. “What about…um…Chris? Do you want…I mean, he would want to come too, I bet. But if you don’t want him to—”

“Of course,” I said, feeling slightly awkward. Chris had been our friend for years—actually he’d been my friend first, since we’d been lab partners back in eighth grade science. We had bonded over a joint refusal to dissect the frog Mrs. Carter had provided. But now that he and Ashley had finally figured out they were meant for each other and started dating, the boundaries of my friendship with him seemed a lot blurrier. “The more the merrier.”

“Okay,” she said, clearly relieved. “So we’ll see you at home around six?”

“Sure,” I said. “Thanks, Ash.”

“Listen,” she said hurriedly, and I could hear the sound of lots of little voices in the background. “Everything is gonna be fine, okay? You can call me any time, and I can have Jana cover my class if you need to talk—”

“I’m fine,” I assured her. “Get to work. I’ll see you tonight.”

I ended the call and threw my phone into my bag on the seat next to me. I was almost to work now, and the thought of trying to make it through a long day with the remnants of my wine-induced hangover did nothing to improve my mood. I said a silent prayer that my patients would be easy as I pulled into the parking lot of the small outpatient facility where I worked as a physical therapist.

Friday was usually my favorite day to work—most people didn’t want to spend the first evening of the weekend at therapy, so we closed at four. Since the schedule was usually light, there was only one therapist on duty. It was a nice change of pace from the usual crowded and noisy weekdays.

After gathering my things, I pulled down the visor and peered at myself in the mirror. My eyes looked a little on the puffy side, more from the wine than from any tears. I hadn’t cried much last night. Hopefully I could get away without anyone noticing anything was amiss.

“Hey!” Sarah called from the front desk the moment I walked into the reception area. “How’d it go last night?”

Damn, I thought. I had totally forgotten that I had told Sarah about my anniversary surprise.

“Good morning,” I said, plastering a smile on my face as I slipped behind the desk to hang up my coat. Maybe I could deflect her. “You’re here early!”

Fat chance. “I wanted to get in a few minutes on the bike,” Sarah said, waving her hand dismissively. “Who cares about that, how’d it go?”

I cursed myself for telling her about my plans. I should have known she’d act like this. Despite her predilection for overexcitement, particularly when it came to boys and dating, I like working with Sarah. She is a bit younger than I am, still in college, but she is good at her job as a physical therapist assistant, and the patients seem to love her. But this morning I could do without her eagerness.

“It didn’t go too great,” I told her, deciding vague was the best policy. “I’m not really feeling it with Dylan, actually.”

Sarah stared at me with wide eyes. “But he’s so handsome and charming!”

I felt a little twinge, wondering just how charming he had been with her on the few occasions he had come to pick me up from work.

“Oh well,” I said, shrugging. “Plenty of fish in the sea.” She looked ready to argue the point, so I continued. “So what’s on the schedule today?”

Sarah looked down at the appointment book. “We’re pretty booked.” I sighed. Of course we were. “You’ve got most of the regular crowd this morning. Mr. Brandon and Mr. Cowdin are coming in on their lunch breaks. And you have three evals this afternoon.”

I stifled a groan. Evaluations were time consuming and tedious, requiring all of my attention and leaving no room for just going through the motions. This was exactly the kind of day I had been hoping to avoid.

“Well,” I said, moving around the desk to head to the tiny office at the back of the room. “I’m gonna review my charts. You may as well start getting everything prepped now. The weights and resistance bands are looking pretty disorganized; will you take care of that, please?”

“Sure thing,” Sarah said. “Let me just put the towels in the dryer…”

I made it to the safety of the small office and collapsed in my desk chair. For once, I wished one of the other therapists was here. Then I could foist off some of my clients and go home. There was a beep from my cell phone, and I pulled it out of my bag, looking down at the new-message screen. Ryan.

Ash just txtd me, it read. Dylan is a prick and ur better off. I’m bringing vodka 2nite, C ya soon!

I sighed. It was only 8:15, and already the news of my humiliation was going viral. I stared at my phone for a minute, debating. There was one person in the world that I was actually eager to talk to that morning, but it was early, and if I knew her, my best friend would be rushing to get to work. I pictured Brooke, her hair probably wet, maybe thrown back in a ponytail, a coffee most definitely in her hand, probably searching for her shoes in her notoriously messy bedroom.

The image, as clear to me as if she were really there before me, brought a sharp little pain to my chest. The thought of talking to her was just too tempting. I picked up my phone and dialed.

“Hello?” she said a moment later, her voice every bit as harried as I had imagined.

“Brooke?” I said, embarrassed to feel my voice catch slightly on her name. “It’s me. Do you have a minute?”

“What’s wrong?” she asked immediately.

“I’m having a crap day,” I said, sighing heavily.

“Em, it’s like, eight a.m. How could your day be bad already?”

“I broke up with Dylan last night,” I said quickly, wanting to get this part over as soon as I could. “He was cheating on me.”

“Shit,” she said. The curse almost brought a smile to my face—it was so typical of my brassy, loud best friend. “Did you kick him in the balls? Do you want me to kick him in the balls?”

“Might be kind of difficult from two hundred miles away.”

“A four-hour drive to castrate the son of a bitch would be well worth it to me,” she muttered. “God, Em. Are you okay?”

I closed my eyes. “I’m freaking out a little,” I admitted. “I feel like I’m in a giant shame spiral right now.”

“Shame spiral?” Her voice was sharp. “What do you have to be ashamed about?”

I didn’t respond. How could I explain to Brooke what I had felt sitting there, watching Dylan and that girl walk through the door? I didn’t think Brooke had ever had a moment of self-doubt in her life.

“Emily,” she said, her tone softer now. “This had nothing to do with you.”

“Of course it did,” I whispered. “He didn’t want me. He didn’t even respect me.”

“Because he’s an asshole. Not because of anything you did or didn’t do.”

“It’s just hard to not feel terrible about myself right now.”

“Alright, let me ask you this,” Brooke said. “Who do you trust more—Dylan or me?”
“You,” I said immediately. “Obviously.”

“Well I chose you to be my best friend. No one made me. It was my decision, and I chose you because you are funny and smart and loyal and all that other crap.”

I snorted, and I could hear her laugh softly on the other end of the line. “I mean it, Em. I’ve known you since we were, what, six years old? His asshatness had nothing to do with you. I promise you that.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I know you have to get to work. I just needed a little pep-talk, I guess.”

“Work can wait. I have time.”

“No, it’s okay,” I told her. “I feel better already.”

“God, I really am a spectacular friend, aren’t I?” she said, and I laughed. “I mean that took like, what, five minutes for me to pull you back from the edge?”

“You are pretty amazing,” I said drily.

“You sure you’re okay?” Her tone was more serious. “I really can talk for a minute if you want.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’m okay. I should get to work too.”

“Alright. Well, call me anytime. Really.”

“Okay,” I said. “Thanks, Brooke.”

“Bye, babe.”


I ended the call, tossing my phone onto my desk. Talking to Brooke had helped, but I was still feeling like a hot shower and a shot of Jack Daniels would really do the trick.


I looked up to see my friend Elliot standing in the open office door. He had two paper coffee cups in his hands, and I smiled. Elliot was the manager of VitaLife, the health store next to the clinic. He had become a pretty good friend over the last year—even though he was always bugging me to start taking supplements. He often came over to have lunch with me in the office, and we had gotten into the habit of trading coffee-fetching duty most mornings.

“You are a lifesaver,” I said, holding out my hand for the coffee. “I couldn’t remember if you were working today.”

“Bright and early,” he said, smiling back. Elliot was usually smiling—he was one of the most genuinely happy, friendly people I had ever met.

“You gonna be around for lunch?” I asked.

“Inventory day,” he said. “I’ll probably be tied up for most of the day.”

“Next week then,” I said.

“You could always join us for a hike tomorrow,” he said hopefully. In addition to trying to convince me to get on a vitamin regimen, Elliot also seemed to think that my life would be more satisfying if I joined his Adventurers Club for their weekly outings. You could tell Elliot was the outdoorsy type just by looking at him—his feet were almost constantly clad in hiking shoes, and he seemed like he’d be much more at home in faded jeans and Henley shirts than in his work uniform of khakis and Polos. His red wavy hair usually looked pretty messy, like he had just come in from a windy day. He even had a bit of a scruffy goatee thing going. Total mountain man.

“We’re heading down to Lake Erie,” he continued. “Supposed to be some pretty amazing bird-watching.”

I laughed. “You really know how to tempt a girl, Elliot. Bird-watching? It’s almost too exciting to imagine.”

He laughed too. “You don’t know what you’re missing,” he said.

“Maybe next time.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” he said. “Alright, I’m off.” He tapped the doorjamb twice, flashed another smile, and left.

I decided I’d spent enough time socializing. My first patient, Frank, would be here in fifteen minutes. I picked up his file and opened it, looking over the notes of his previous session. If I had to be here, I may as well get some work done. With any luck, it might keep my mind off things.

My Book Review:

After her latest relationship ends because of a cheating boyfriend, twenty-five year old physical therapist Emily Donovan is done with men and dating. But her friends Ashley, Ryan and Chris think she has bad luck with men because she is clueless about romance and what type of guy she should be looking for. Emily isn't your typical girly girl who's into romance books and chick flicks, she's always been more into comedies, action and thriller movies and books. So what's a girl to do when she really wants romance in her life with the right type of guy? Take a crash course in Romance 101! Ashley and Ryan set Emily up with a research project that consists of reading romance novels like Pride and Prejudice and watching chick flicks like When Harry Met Sally to learn the ways of romance and dating. Is Emily sabotaging her love life because she is clueless about the ways of romance? Will the crash course in Romance 101 lead Emily to discover what she needs to know to find romance and the right guy in her life?

In Search of a Love Story is an entertaining chick lit story about finding love, self-discovery, friendships and relationships. Author Rachel Schurig weaves a fun tale written in the first person narrative told by sassy Emily Donovan, who takes the reader along for the ride as she embarks on a research project to learn everything she needs to know about romance and finding Mr. Right. This story has humor, quirky characters, and a fun but predictable romance storyline with a happy ending that fans of Chick Lit adore. Set in Michigan, the story is so much more than one woman seeking romance, because the author mixes in subplots like dealing with friendships, father-daughter relationships, finding the right Mr. Right, and a journey of self-discovery and learning what is really important in life. The best part of the story is the message that Emily eventually learns: that sometimes people look too hard for love in all the wrong places, instead of really seeing what has been in front of them all along.

Emily is a sassy girl with a heart of gold, she has her flaws but she is likable and the reader can relate to her dating issues. Emily's friends Ashley, Ryan, Chris and Brooke are an entertaining bunch who are true friends, they look out for their friend and I loved the camaraderie that they shared. I loved Elliot, Emily's friend and overlooked admirer, while I wasn't a fan of Greg, Emily's conquest after she takes the romance crash course. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the quirky set of secondary characters: Mrs. Z., Frank Carter and Philip Jackson, Emily's funny and flirty geriatric patients.

In Search of a Love Story is a lighthearted and entertaining story that has humorous antics, memorable characters, romance and relationship issues that readers can relate to, and a happy ending that in true chick lit fashion will leave a smile on your face.

In Search of a Love Story is the first book in the Love Story series.



  1. Thanks for closing out the tour!

    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you for the opportunity to host the virtual book tour event.