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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Right Design by Isabella Louise Anderson (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Author Isabella Louise Anderson, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host a virtual book event for her debut novel, The Right Design!

Author Guest Post

My "National Novel Writing Month" Adventures

After numerous days of below temperatures, power outages, and countless snow days, it just turned into spring here in Texas. Normally, I’d be okay with this because I enjoy grilling outside with my husband, and having fun with friends. I’m very excited that baseball is finally here (go, Rangers), but I’m already wishing for fall. Why? Well, I’ve always loved cold weather, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I love sipping on hot toddies by the fire. However, what excites me the most is that November is National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is where one writes a book in 30 days. 50,000 words is what the goal that need to have achieved at the end of them month, which averages out to 1,667 words a day. Not bad, I thought to myself. “I can do that!” So, on November 1st, of 2011 I sat down and starting writing The Right Design, which was published March 8th, 2014, and didn’t look back.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I just started writing and voilĂ , it was finished. There were struggles along the way. I had days where I asked myself why I was attempting this challenge. I had days were I really disliked my book, thinking it was too cheesy, and there were days when I simply didn’t feel like writing. And, since it was Thanksgiving and had family in town, I had to manage my time between work and family time. However, that I didn’t stop me. I wanted to give this challenge everything I had, and I’m glad I did. I feel grateful to have endured countless days and nights where dishes were filled to the brim in the sink, laundry was overloaded, and to have my neglected my loving husband who was cheering me on the whole time.

In November of 2013, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo once again. I was crazier this time around. Edits for The Right Design were with my editors, so what else did I have to do? Write, of course! I went about it in a different way the second time around. For my next release, which is titled Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop, I decided to give outlining a shot. I’m normally an organized person, but for everything I’d ever done before, I was a panster, and didn’t plan it out. For Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop, the planning just came natural to me, which made the writing easier. It was a little shocking that I wrote the entire first draft in 17 days, and my average word count was 3,000.

I participated in NaNoWriMo and won two times, and so can you!

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book, but haven’t had the motivation, NaNoWriMo can help. Here are three tips on how to survive it:

NaNoWriMo takes dedication! One of the most important and necessary things an author must have is dedication. If you don’t have an idea for your book, with an average of 1,667 words a day, it’s okay to start slow. Whether you have a day job, kids at home, a spouse who needs your constant attention, as long as you’re focused on your goals to write and “win” NaNoWriMo. It’s not for the rest of your life; it’s only 30 days. You can do it!

Take it a day at a time! Like I mentioned above, I had good days and bad days, but if you take it one day at a time, you will get there. It doesn’t matter how bad the writing or grammar is. You can always edit later, but as long as you get your first draft written, the second, third, or however many come after, you’ll have something to work with. If you don’t make your daily goal, then try giving yourself thirty minutes of extra writing the next day.

Have fun! If you think you have to be chained to your computer for a month, you don’t. I highly recommend you have fun, too! Go out with your family and friends, and look at this as a way to do research for your book. Try to watch and observe. Listen to other people’s conversations, and watch how people act. Maybe try going somewhere you’ve never been, and sit and watch. I’m guaranteed that you’ll be ready to write the second you get back to your WIP.

About The Author

Isabella Louise Anderson grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and has been featured on several blogs. While Isabella doesn’t blog a lot, she focuses her time on featuring other writers, along with writing and editing.

Isabella Louise Anderson created Chick Lit Goddess to share the love of the following genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Romance, and Romantic Comedies! She loves featuring authors and their books.

She lives in Dallas with her husband and cat. She enjoys spicy Mexican food and drinking margaritas, and can be found spending time with family and friends, cheering on the Texas Rangers, and reading.

Isabella’s short story, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright, in November 2013. The Right Design is her first novel.


Book Review

The Right Design by Isabella Louise Anderson
Publisher: Chick Lit Goddess
Publication Date: March 8, 2014
Format: e-Book - 173 pages / Kindle - 1228 KB / Nook - 400 KB
ISBN: 0991416716
BNID: 2940149305407
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: The Right Design

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.

Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job—Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be cad.

But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him—something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one…?

Book Excerpt:

When Carrie arrived at Nick & Johnnie’s, she felt like a fish out of water compared to the model-like, flirtatious women who were practically draped over men who could pass as their fathers. She spotted three empty seats at the bar and took a seat in the middle, giving herself room between couples.

“What can I get you?” asked the bartender, who had his head down, not looking at her.

Whatever you’re willing to give, was the first thing that came to mind. Instead, she said, “I’ll have a dirty vodka martini, straight up, please,” with a flirty smile across her face.

Oliver gave Carrie a double take. He flashed a wide grin, showing off his dimples. “Hey, you came! I take it you’re not too ‘tired’ after all,” he said, using air quotes. He leaned his forearms alongside the bar. “What kind of vodka?”

When she hesitated, he pointed to the large array behind him.

“Ketel One,” she finally responded, pointing to the only bottle she recognized.

“Are you over twenty-one, young lady?”

“Oh, stop.” Carrie rolled her eyes playfully. She felt her cheeks burn with a type of eagerness she hadn’t felt in years. He was flirting with her, and she liked it.

“No need to be shy. You’re a beautiful woman,” he said, and turned around to start making her drink.

Carrie couldn’t take her eyes off of his arms, his body, his…everything. She hadn’t met anyone who resembled a soap opera star the way he did. She watched him sweep his shoulder-length dark hair away from his eyes and shake the vodka, cooling the liquid in a cocktail shaker. He poured her drink slowly and carefully into her martini glass.

“Regular, or blue cheese olives?”

“Regular,” Carrie said quickly, cringing at her distaste for blue cheese, and moments later, he placed the drink in front of her. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure.”

As she slid her fingers around the stem, she slowly brought the chilled glass to her lips, closing her eyes as the cool vodka slid down her throat.

“Orgasmic, isn’t it?” a seductive voice whispered into her ear.

Startled by the warm breath on her skin, she quickly swallowed and turned to face the man who stood beside her only inches away. She placed her drink on the bar and steadied herself in her chair.

The gorgeous man pointed to the seat beside her, where her purse lay. “Is this seat taken?”

Carrie nodded, with a hard swallow. “No,” she replied, moving her purse from the chair onto the bar in front of her. She faced forward and hugged her purse close to her chest, not saying another word to the stranger. Carrie nervously smiled at Oliver, who had been watching her every move, while still waiting on other patrons, and wondered if he noticed her uneasy expression.

From the corner of her eye, Carrie watched the man take a seat beside her. Her eyes raked over his black suit, gray button-down shirt, and black alligator dress shoes. His short, sun-kissed hair was casually brushed to the left and part of it covered one eye, which gave him a hint of mystery.

“You’re new around here, aren’t you?” the exquisite man asked.

She nodded. “Yes,” she replied, and fiddled with her cocktail napkin.

He held out a hand. “I’m Brad, Brad Larson,” giving the old James Bond-style introduction.

In slow motion, Carrie shook his hand. “Hi,” she said, getting a whiff of way too much alcohol on his breath. “I’m Carrie.”

After Brad ordered a scotch and soda from Oliver, he swiveled his chair and faced her. “So, Kay, tell me about yourself,” he said as he placed his hand on her naked thigh.

Kay? “My name is Carrie,” she repeated, quickly pulling her leg from his grasp. If it weren’t for the strong scent of alcohol on his breath or his forwardness, she wouldn’t have minded his touch. It gave her goose bumps all over her body and made her heart pound faster. She took one last long sip, gathered her purse, and stood up, unsuccessfully waving to get Oliver’s attention to pay her tab.

“Leaving already? Weren’t we getting to know each other?” He pointed a finger back and forth between him and Carrie. “Come on, how ’bout you come back to my place, and—” His voice had lowered and his speech began to slur.

“There is no way in hell that will ever happen,” Carrie said, not giving him a chance to finish his sentence. She opened her purse, pulled out a twenty, and dropped it on the bar.

“Don’t be like that, doll. I’m only trying to be friendly.”

“Yeah, well,” she retorted in a harsh tone, pausing for a moment to admire how alluring he appeared to be, which was sadly marred by the way he was acting. She took a deep breath, and added, “Try being a gentleman. It might get you somewhere.”

Carrie turned her back to him and bolted out of the restaurant. When she stepped outside, she wondered why she’d decided to go out at all, upset that she didn’t get to finish her martini, no matter how orgasmic it, Oliver, or Brad Larson were. As she walked to her car, she felt Brad’s eyes on her, from where he still sat the bar, with a drink in his hand. Carrie got in her car and sped away, hoping she’d never run into him again.

When she arrived home, she locked the door behind her and kicked off her heels, then leaned her head against the door. Living in Florida would certainly be an adventure.

“Dammit!” She cursed herself for not stopping at a liquor store on her way home. While she hadn’t planned on drinking a lot, a couple of drinks would calm her down, especially after meeting Brad Larson. She ran her hands through her hair, wondering why he’d have to be such an intoxicated ass. After turning off the lights, Carrie went upstairs and put sheets on the air mattress, thankful that she had something comfortable and warm to fall into. “Please let tomorrow be better than tonight,” she said to the silent room, and then she closed her eyes.


Carrie woke up at six-thirty to allow herself enough time to get ready for her interview with England Bordeaux. She remembered what Renee had told her about him, and as nervousness gnawed at her, she clenched her jaw. Hoping that Renee had put in a good word for her, she wanted to live up to those expectations. Dressed for success in her favorite navy-blue pantsuit and red platform heels, Carrie took one last look in the mirror, hurried down the stairs, and left for her interview.

As Carrie made her way to meet England, she took in the morning scenery in Palm Beach—brilliant colored flowers, smiles plastered on walkers’ and joggers’ faces, and the bluest ocean she’d ever seen. Sliding on her Chanel sunglasses, she took in the bright sun and wished she were at the beach, enjoying a book and drinking a strawberry daiquiri with a rum floater. “In due time,” she mumbled to herself.

Arriving at Ocean Designs twenty minutes early, Carrie opened the door and went inside, crossing her fingers that she’d get the job.

“Hi, I’m Carrie Newman. I have an interview with Mr. Bordeaux,” she said to the receptionist who looked to be in her early forties, thanks to the magic of plastic surgery. Her thin, aged hands said she was more likely in her mid-sixties.

The woman stood to greet her. “Yes, hi,” she said in a thick New York accent, extending her hand to Carrie. “I’m Elaine Fischer.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Would you like a cup of coffee, tea, or perhaps a bottled water?”

Carrie shook her head, and Elaine offered her a seat in the area across from her desk.

Carrie sat on the oversized luxury leather sofa, glancing at the frames that hung on the coral-colored walls. Completed projects were photographed and below each one was a gold plaque with a name and date under each picture. Only a few were by Mr. Bordeaux, most were by other employees. Carrie admired several, and there were only a few that she didn’t know what to make of because of hideous color schemes.

With butterflies in her stomach, she flipped through about twelve pages of Architectural Digest without really paying attention to the pictures or reading the articles. When she heard her name, she looked up and saw a man standing a couple of feet away from her.

“Hello, Carrie. I’m England Bordeaux.”

“Hello,” she said cheerfully, jumping up to greet him. “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.” She shook his hand and looked him over. England stood an inch taller than she and wore khaki slacks, a brown collared shirt, and, surprisingly, cowboy boots, which reminded Carrie of back home. England’s thin black hair lay flat on his round head, and his gold, rectangular glasses gave him an air of sophistication. He eerily resembled Benjamin Linus from the TV show Lost.

He put his left hand up to his mouth as he exaggerated the shock. “I’m assuming from Renee, right? I hope it wasn’t all bad,” he joked, and Carrie shook her head. “Well, good. Please, follow me.”

Once they were in his office, he said, “Tell me about yourself,” and took a seat in a high-back, brown leather chair behind a glass desk. He placed his hands on the desk and entwined his fingers. A giant smile spanned across his face as he waited for her answer.Crap, I forgot to bring an extra resume! Jeez, Carrie, pull it together! “Did Renee send you my resume?” She fought against the quiver that insisted on being in her voice.

He nodded. “She did and I looked it over, but I want to know about you, not who you are on paper.”

Carrie crossed her legs and tugged at the hem of her pants, a nervous habit she’d had most of her life. “Well, I graduated from Syracuse and interned at Sawyer Design & Associates, where I’ve been until now.” She thought about explaining why she had moved to Florida, but decided not to add anything personal and hoped her answer would suffice.

He gently leaned back in his chair, still wearing his grin. “What do you like best about design?” he asked her.

Carrie relaxed her shoulders. I can do this! For about five minutes, she told Mr. Bordeaux about how much she loved all facets of design from architecture and furniture to landscape. He questioned her as to what she would do given several different scenarios. Mr. Bordeaux seemed to be impressed as she spoke. “But, most of all, I love introducing people to various types of design, especially interior design. I want people to express their own taste, but I sometimes think people are afraid of change and don’t experiment enough with color and texture, which can often-times be added to their own style. I want to help them discover that.”

“Carrie, you seem like you’d be a wonderful asset to our company. Welcome to Ocean Designs.”

The interview was that easy? “Oh, thank you, Mr. Bordeaux. I really appreciate this opportunity,” she gushed.

“Please, call me England.” He looked down and then asked in a direct business-like voice, “Would you be willing to start today? My lead interior designer is on maternity leave.”

Carrie jumped at the chance. “Absolutely!”

“Good. I had planned to take on a giant task myself, but I think you’d be much better suited for the job.” England gave Carrie a hopeful smile.

“Of course!” She began to wonder just how “giant” this project would be.

After he explained what her first project would involve, he said, “I’m giving you this project because Renee raved on and on about you. If you need help or have any questions, you can come to me about anything. My door is always open.”

“Thank you, England. I will.”

“Now, let me walk you around and introduce you to your new co-workers.”

The tour ended with the arrival at her personal office, a corner space seven doors down from his. With the exception of a desk and chair, a worktable, and a desktop computer, the office was practically empty.

“This is Erin’s office. She’s the one on maternity leave, but it’s yours temporarily. I hope you’ll be comfortable here.”

She assured him that she would and he left. Carrie walked around the desk and sat down, not quite believing the good fortune she’d had since moving to Florida. With the exception of Brad Larson, of course.

As she looked over the file for her first project at Ocean Designs, she felt confident that she could do the job of making over the twenty-thousand-square-foot home. This had to be the biggest project that had ever come her way, but she looked forward to the challenge. While Carrie read what the owner requested on the profile, she took note of the little facts about the house and how long the current owner had possessed it. The words “The house needs a woman’s touch,” caught her eye, piquing curiosity. With the client profile in hand (which mysteriously didn’t have the owner’s name on it), she grabbed her purse and headed to England’s office.

He looked up and waved his hand. “Come on in.”

“I’ve looked everything over, and I think I can do a lot for the house, per the owner’s requests, especially because the house has only been in current possession for a few months.”

Carrie’s mind began rolling with ideas, and she couldn’t hide the excitement pumping through her as she shared her ideas with England.

Before Carrie left his office, England said, “Word of advice: Go with your judgment, but remember that these Palm Beachers aren’t your average homeowner. These people have money, Carrie, and most are willing to practically throw it out. Their homes must look so sophisticated that even,” he searched for a name, “the Queen of England would be impressed.”

“Advice taken.”

Thirty minutes later, Carrie arrived at the address she’d entered into her iPhone, with a little anxiety and much giddiness. “Oh. My. Gosh,” she exclaimed as she pulled up to a security gate surrounding the largest piece of real estate on the ocean block of South Ocean Boulevard. Carrie rolled down her window to press a button under the boxed speaker.

“Can I help you?” asked a man’s voice.

“I’m Carrie Newman, the interior designer. I’m here to see the owner of the home.”

“Please come through,” he said as the large metal gate yawned open.

Carrie drove through slowly and parked in the circular, white rock driveway behind a red Ferrari, and two Mercedes-Benz—a black two-door SL600 and a white four-door S55. What stood out more than anything were three white vans that read Palm Construction parked in a vertical driveway, opposite the highly priced cars. She quickly scanned the owner’s profile one more time before applying lip gloss and getting out of her car.

As she studied the outside of the captivating and historical home that lay in front of her, she noticed a cement porch wrapped around the house. She stood entranced by the beauty before her. The light yellow stucco home appeared to be only two stories, but the profile noted that there was a basement primarily used as a wine cellar. The roof was made of Mexican ceramic tiles; Carrie could tell from looking at the color that it had recently been re-done. Windows surrounded the enormous front door, which was painted white. Carrie drew her attention down to the landscaping and noticed that only grass had been laid, while a large palm tree sat in the center of the driveway, and an array of flamingo plants sprinkled the beds in the yard.

At last, she made her way up the four front steps and rang the doorbell.

“Knock ’em dead, Carrie,” she whispered to herself. While she waited at the door, she contemplated all that had led up to this moment–—Roger and his “tart,” Sara’s pregnancy, and of course, her move. But nothing could’ve prepared her for when the door opened, and she came face to face with the owner of the home.

My Book Review:

In her debut novel, The Right Design, author Isabella Louise Anderson weaves a delightful tale that follows a woman's journey of self-discovery and finding an unexpected second chance at love.

Thirty-two year old Carrie Newman is a successful interior designer at a prominent Dallas firm. She has a dream job with a chance at making partner, a loving family, and she has been in a six year relationship with her boyfriend Roger. Carrie's world is turned upside down when she comes home from work excited about intimately celebrating their sixth year anniversary, only to find that Roger has been unfaithful. Determined that she needs a change, Carrie decides to move to Palm Beach, Florida to restart her life. Carrie's journey will lead her on a new adventure of self-discovery, a fulfilling new interior designer position, and an unexpected second chance at love.

This was such a fun novel to read! I enjoyed following Carrie's journey as she restarts her life after a traumatic heartbreak. Carrie's journey is filled with real-life issues mixed with drama, humor, and romance.

Carrie is a strong independent woman whose passion for interior design guides her as she restarts her life thousands of miles away from her hometown. I couldn't help but admire Carrie's determination and independence, coupled with her passion for her dream career, she's a woman after my own heart! The author did a wonderful job of describing Carrie's passion for interior design with a richly detailed description of her design projects, it was like watching an episode of HGTV.

A chance meeting at a bar with a very drunk and sexy Brad Larson, unexpectedly turns into Carrie's first design project client, when she is hired as the interior designer for his home. A strictly business approach barely hides the undeniable attraction between Carrie and Brad. Their business/personal relationship is encouraged by Carrie's nosy matchmaker boss, England Bordeaux! It sure was fun watching Carrie and Brad dance around their attraction with witty banter until they couldn't resist mixing business with pleasure. Just when you think it will be all hearts and roses, the author throws a wrench in the mix with enough drama to keep you turning the pages.

The author adds a really nice subplot to the story involving Carrie's older sister Sara and brother-in-law Sean's struggle to have a child. I thought that this was a nice addition to the story as it showed a loving and supportive family relationship that Carrie had with her sister and brother-in-law. I think Carrie's journey interwoven with Sara's pregnancy issues tied in nicely and flowed smoothly throughout the story.

The Right Design is a wonderful debut novel that has enough romance, humor, and drama that every chick lit fan craves!



  1. Thank you so very much for this wonderful review, Kathleen! I'm SO happy you liked The Right Design.

    1. Hi Isabella! Congrats on your wonderful debut novel. I realy enjoyed reading The Right Design, and look forward to reading more of your novels. :)