Sunday, February 23, 2020

Light Magic by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems


Candlelight, in all its glorious forms, is something we rarely think about. Unless it's February with Valentine's Day. Or, if you’re a romance author like me. I imagine romantic candlelight is present in many of our Gem’s books. I know it’s in all of mine. Because candles, and what I call "light magic," play vital roles in our everyday lives.

Think about it for a moment. How many important life events are marked by candlelight? You count the candles on birthday cakes and make special wishes. Set a mood for romance. Light symbolic unity candles at weddings. Mark passing, offer prayers, invoke ritual, meditate, and celebrate both religious and secular holidays. The list goes on. From living places to sacred spaces around the globe, candles light our way through darkness.

Winter months are when most use candles. According to the National Candle Association, approximately 35% of all candle sales occur during the holiday season. It’s no coincidence. Those are the shortest days of the year when many long for comfort and hope. This goes back to ancient times and seasonal celebrations, when the need to light the darkest of nights was great.

The dawn of electric lighting relegated candles to the realm of “special occasions,” but not always. Experience one prolonged power outage and tell me candles have no place in modern times, aside from being pretty. We burned through every candle we owned as a result of one New England ice storm! However, I use candles year-round, because I love the ambiance they create. My family continues the holiday tradition of lighting battery operated/electric candles in our home's windows, right on through the year. It makes me happy to see those flickering lights each night, even in summer. And, don't get me started on the importance of candles at Halloween!

If you worry about fires (I do sometimes with three rambunctious dogs, or maybe you have young children) there are wonderful flameless alternatives. High-end flameless candles employ moving “flames” and can be made of genuine wax. They also come with remotes and scent options. Fantastic! I use them often and find it fun to watch the reaction if someone discovers, “Hey, they’re not real!”
Here are some links if you also enjoy candlelight:

Visit my author Pinterest board titled “Light Magic” for more visuals.

Did you know the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles was sometimes lit by as many as 20,000 candles? Can you imagine what that was like? The light movement and shadows? The heat they generated? The scents from all that burning wax and the smoke? Amazing! According to Just for Fun Facts, on special occasions that legendary space was transformed into a “corridor of light.” There’s stunning YouTube video of Versailles lit by LED lights to simulate such candlelight events. Check it out for a gimps of what that may have looked like!

So, flame on, people! I know I will. Thanks for reading!

~ Kathryn


Something special this February!

We're having a party—a ginormous party—to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Romance Gems! We're also celebrating Valentine's Day all month long. After all, we are romance authors.

Our celebration features a Rafflecopter with Amazon Gift Cards. Plus, don't miss our Valentine's Day Book Fair filled with the kinds of books you love best. Open every day in February!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

10 Things I'm Kicking by @JoanReeves #RomanceGems

Image by Harmony Lawrence from Pixabay
An author friend posted a few weeks ago on another blog that she'd already given up on her New Year Resolutions.

Giveaway Alert: Check the end of the post for my Giveaway.

I've thought a lot about her bold confession because there are a few things I'd like to kick.

Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who usually refuses to admit defeat.

However, this week I reached the point where I'm ready to kick a few things out of my life.

In fact, I'm making an entire list of things I'm kicking. Ready? Here we go.

1. Kale

Yep. I absolutely refuse to eat any more kale. I don't care how good it's supposed to be for the human body. I don't like it. I eat plenty of other green veggies so I'm okay with giving up on kale which is showing up in far too many convenience foods and restaurant items.

2. Cauliflower posing as rice or pizza crust.

Who thought this one up? I like raw cauliflower in salads, but I do not like cauliflower that pretends to be rice. It's not. In fact, it's an insult to rice. And as a pizza crust? Gag! If I can't have a real pizza crust, I won't eat pizza. (I wish people would warn me in advance when I'm invited to a casual dinner with pizza as the main item only to discover it's cauliflower crust.)

3. Books labeled romance that have an unhappy ending.

Don't get me started! Not naming any names, but, come on! A romance has to have at least a happy for now ending—which I really don't like but will grudgingly accept if the rest of the book was a really good read. I'm going to become one of those readers who flips to the end of the book.

4. Getting upset over media talking heads who demean the romance genre.

Why? Because it's written mostly by women, for women? Get lost you who describe stories of love, relationships, and commitment as bodice rippers, housewife porn, smutty books, sleazy novels, or "those" books *wink, wink*.

Image by Nancy Mure from Pixabay
5. Weighing myself every day.

Yep. I've always done it. Why? Because I wanted to keep a watchful eye on that magic number so I'd always be that weight.

What a silly habit. After all this time, that number isn't important. What's important is feeling good and eating well which I do. So I gain a few pounds? So what?

6. Writing until late at night.

When I do this, my brain is so full of the plot and character that I can't sleep, yet I'm too tired to continue. I hereby quit that.

7. Doritos Nacho Cheese chips

*Sob* I'll miss those orange-tinted fingertips. Doritos is the first of many food guilty pleasures I'm quitting this year.

8. Making unrealistic daily to-do lists.

I'll still make a list, but I'll make sure the number of items on it is in touch with reality.

9. Postponing my writing until I "feel better."

There are so many demands on my time—volunteer work, Romance Gems, 2 other group blogs to which I belong, my chronic-pain daughter, my sick brothers, my hubby, 2 houses,  etc.—that I'm tired all the time.

Too many days a week, I look at my office and say, "I'll write first thing in the morning." Unfortunately, morning usually brings the crisis of the day before 8am.

I'm now setting my bedtime alarm/wake up alarm so I have 8 hours of sleep and get to my office  shortly after I awake in the morning.

10. The clothes in my closet that I'll never wear again.

Yep. Cleaned out my closet this week and donated several suits, blazers, dressy clothes, etc. for which I have no use.

What's In Your List?

I could list a bunch of other things I'm quitting, but I want to hear what you're quitting.

What's on your list of things to quit or give up?

Giveaway

Leave a comment with your email addy, and you'll be entered in a random drawing giveaway for the writing journal shown at left.

Drawing open until midnight, Feb. 28, 2020. If the winner lives outside the continental U.S., an ebook will be given instead of this gold-edged journal.

February Rafflecopter Still Open

Romance Gems is celebrating our first year with some awesome Amazon Gift Cards up for grabs.

Click here to enter the February Rafflecopter, and you might win.

For two dozen wonderful romance novels at bargain prices, shop our Valentine Book Fair. It's open until the last day of the month.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Oops UPS by Karen Kelley

Our daughter-in-law, son, and grandson sent us the prettiest flowers and box of goodies for Valentines Day. Apparently, UPS was swamped because we got a new driver that was not familiar with our area. One of the neighbors at the top of the hill got the first package (maybe). All I know is we never saw it. Bummer.

But what fun to get it today! A brand new package with exotic tulips that will bloom in a few days (I hope. I don't have a green thumb), a box of specialty candy, candle, pen and pretty notebook and other fun stuff. I love boxes with goodies.

Speaking of goodies, my brand new, first Romantic Suspense in a while, is available. I always get nervous when I have a new book out, but so far the feedback has been really good. The story features a hot sheriff and a sassy FBI agent, and she definitely invades his territory. Check out the excerpt:

Broken Justice:
 
Makala sat a little straighter in her chair as Gage nodded to Landry, then came inside. She wasn't up to seeing the sheriff again. She'd wanted to unwind a little, then maybe she would be able to get a few hours of shut-eye. She said a silent prayer he wouldn’t notice her. Yeah, right. The restaurant wasn't that big. Even if it was dimly lit, he would notice her sooner or later.
He didn’t look in her direction as he made his way to the bar, so she was able to study him. His stride was purposeful, as if he didn’t take unnecessary steps without a reason. As he walked, he pushed his Stetson a little higher on his forehead.

He needed a shave—or not. The slight bristle of hairs on his face gave him a ruggedness that suited him. His dark hair was a little too long as well. Just brushing his collar. He had broad shoulders. She’d bet there were plenty of muscles under his beige uniform shirt. He didn’t strike her as the type who sat behind a desk all day. She guessed him at six feet one, maybe an inch or so more.

Her gaze lowered. She liked the way his jeans fit. Snug, low on the waist. She sighed. And there was just something about a man who wore a holstered gun on his hip — damned sexy.
He spoke with the bartender, then took the glass of Coke the man handed him, dropping bills on the counter. He turned and scanned the room, his gaze stopping on her. One thing she could be sure of, Gage didn't look any more pleased to see her than she was to see him.

Great, he was walking right toward her. Maybe she could down her beer and then rush out. No, she wasn’t about to let him think she was running away. She watched as he walked toward her. He definitely had a nice easy stroll. As if he owned the bar.

“Mind if I sit?” he asked, his voice just a little gravelly.
She liked the way he sounded, rough, with just that little bit of an edge. Wow, she must be more tired than she’d thought. She was not going to get caught up in the way Gage walked or talked. She had a feeling this man was going to be trouble. Who the hell was she kidding? She knew damn well he was going to be trouble.

“Be my guest.” She picked up her bottle of beer and took a long, slow drink. It didn’t stop the heat from beginning to build inside her.
The legs of the chair scraped across the floor as he pulled it out. He sat, leaning slightly back, and stared at her for a moment before speaking. "Have you ever been to the mountains, Miss Madigan?"

Was he looking for a fight? “No, is that a pre-requisite for going after the fugitive?”
“It’s not necessary, but it would sure help,” he drawled. “There’s all kinds of bad things in the woods.”

“Are you going to be one of them?” She raised an eyebrow and watched him silently for a moment. If he even thought for one minute that she would walk away from going after his cousin, then he was going to be sadly mistaken. She never had, and never would, back down from anything or anyone.
Gage grinned. Her heart fluttered again. Why the hell did he have to grin? It changed his whole face. He seemed more relaxed, easier to talk to. The next thing she knew, she’d be telling him all of her dark secrets. That damn sure wasn’t going to happen.

“I won’t be your problem, Miss Madigan. Nope, it’ll be the grizzly bears and wolves that you’ll have to watch out for.”
Yeah, she was afraid there was a wolf sitting right in front of her. A wolf in sheriffs clothing.
                                                                
                                                              Click to order or read
                                                                for free in KU
And don't forget to enter our monthly contest!
Romance Gems is celebrating a year of romance. We have a love-ly giveaway for the month of love. (Pardon the pun.) Our February Giveaway includes:
First Prize - $20
Second Prize - $15
Third Prize - $10
Fourth Prize - $5

Enter at the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the blog page here.
 
Best Wishes,
Karen Kelley

Thursday, February 20, 2020

ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR!


By Caroline Clemmons

February is the anniversary of Romance Gems blog. Time flies when you’re immersed in romance as we who write and read romance are. Traditionally, February is the month of love. 

This year, it’s also Leap Year. The movie “Leap Year” starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode is one of my favorites. Partly, I’m sure, because it’s set mostly in Ireland. I love that country and would enjoy living there part of the year. Sigh, that’s not to be. 

You are aware that Leap Year is when, on February 29, the women can propose to the man of her choice. Perhaps this isn’t as novel today as it was back when I was young mumble-mumble years ago.







I’m excited to let you know about a new romance release, A BRIDE FOR LUKE, the Proxy Brides Series Book #36. This series is a big hit with readers. The comments from beta readers on this book have been very positive. Each of these sweet western historical romances is stand-alone. The premise is a couple marries by proxy rather than the heroine being a mail-order bride. Still, they must cope with adjusting to one another while overcoming obstacles in their path.



Here’s some information about the book:

The universal Amazon link is http://mybook.to/Maeve
A BRIDE FOR LUKE is available in e-book and print and is free in KU.

The blurb:

Each is struggling to build a better life . . .
Two strong-willed people are bound to clash . . .
Danger forces them to focus on what is at stake . . .

Maeve Kelly came to America for a better life but found only signs that said No Irish Need Apply. When the cousin with whom she is staying leaves Boston, Maeve is left desperate. Her job at the laundry doesn’t pay enough for her to survive alone. Her friend suggests a way out, Maeve resists a proxy marriage but finally accepts. What else can she do?

Sheriff Luke Sullivan is proud of his accomplishments. Known for his strong principles, he is admired and well-respected in the community. When he learns his mother and aunt have schemed to get him a proxy bride he’s furious. If he’d wanted a wife he would have found one. He respects and loves his mother and finally agrees to the marriage. Before he and his bride can adjust to one another, Luke is caught in the middle of an explosive situation between striking miners and the railroad. 

Threats against Luke by each side have him fearing for the safety of his wife, mother, and aunt. He must resolve the strike to protect his family and many others. Will he succeed in time to save lives?


Excerpt:

He pushed back from the table. “How can I keep you safe if you don’t follow orders? Do you understand?”
She put her hands on her hips. “Oh, so it’s orders you’re giving me, is it? Weel, Lucas Brady Sullivan, I take orders from no man. Do you understand?”
“Mae, you’re making something from nothing.” He tapped his chest. “I’m your husband. You promised to obey me when we wed.”
That brought her temper down a notch. She had promised and Father Patrick had lectured her on the husband being the head of the household. “Mayhap I did, but not high handed orders.”
“And what would you consider obeying? You want a written invitation to remain home? Shall I show you the other wanted poster and suggest you avoid that man? You’ve no idea what these other men look like so how would you know if they were walking down the street or shopping in the Mercantile? How can you know who’s an upstanding citizen and who’s a stranger in town? You were in front of the Mercantile when Higgins accosted you.”  
She turned toward the sink, hands on her face to hide her shame. “Aye, ‘tis sorry I am. The worry of what’s going to happen has me in bits. I can’t get out of my mind the fact someone may shoot at you from an ambush.”
He wrapped his arms around her. “Don’t fret, honey. I’m doing my best to keep this situation from becoming violent. I can’t focus on my job if I’m worried about where you are and what you’re doing and who’s around you.”
She leaned her head against his broad chest. His strong heartbeat reassured her. “I see the way I was wrong. ‘Twas my mistake and ‘tis sorry I am.”
She looked up at him. “But, for us to have a peaceful marriage you’d best consider making requests instead of giving orders.”





Romance Gems is celebrating a year of romance. We have a love-ly giveaway for the month of love. (Pardon the pun.) Our February Giveaway includes:
First Prize - $20
Second Prize - $15
Third Prize - $10
Fourth Prize - $5

Enter at the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the blog page here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Month of Romance and Love...



February is the month of love.  As much as I love Valentine’s Day, February 11 is a very special day for hubby and me. Eight years ago, on a bitterly cold wind-swept afternoon he dropped to one knee and popped the question. We had gone away for the weekend to Newport Rhode Island and during the drive he was very quiet. I wasn’t sure if he was concerned with the weather or what was wrong. But after he pulled the small box from his pocket and spoke four little words I answered with one. It was then he grinned and life was great. Four months later we got married in that same park overlooking the ocean. 
I’m a softie when it comes to all things romance. But often times, people only use February 14th to tell the person they love, how they truly feel. Flowers, candy and a special evening out is wonderful but there are 364 other days in the year to express how you feel. Gestures don’t need to be grand, but come from the heart. A simple wildflower picked from a field can mean more than a dozen long stemmed roses. One year, hubby bought me yellow roses instead of red. I loved them. It told me not only that he thought of me for Valentine’s but I was more than his love, we started as friends and our love grew from that foundation. I was his best friend. How could that not be romantic? 

In most of my novels I steer clear of holidays for those magic moments but in Borrowed, book 2 of The MacLellan Sisters, Valentine’s Day actually was the catalyst for Kenzie and Robbie to acknowledge their feelings for each other. It fit perfectly with the storyline.

Kenzie carefully hung the dress on the closet door and smoothed down the skirt. She picked up Gran’s picture from her dresser. “Gran, what should I do? I’m fighting for love and my future.” 

She slipped into her coat, wanting to keep her dress a surprise until they got to the inn. The bell rang and she hurried to the door. Kenzie pulled it open and Robbie was standing on the step holding a deep red vase with the biggest bouquet of mixed roses she had ever seen. 
“Happy Valentine’s Day.” He took a step forward and lightly kissed her lips. “I think it’s time I bought you roses, and there is every color to cover every aspect of our relationship. Dark pink is for enchantment, yellow is for friendship, light pink is for grace, orange for fascination and of course red is for love.” 
She accepted the bouquet and buried her nose in the petals. “They are lovely and very unexpected.” Even in heels she had to stand on her tiptoes as her kiss lingered on his mouth, savoring the moment. 
Color flushed his cheeks. “Are you ready?” 
Setting the vase on the table, she took his outstretched hand. “Yes, I am.” They strolled under the stars to the car. “It’s a beautiful night. The night sky is incredible.” 
“They’re dim when compared to your eyes.” 
Kenzie’s eyes locked with his. “My goodness, you’re the romantic tonight.” She clasped his hand tighter. 

I hope you have a wonderful month. Don’t forget to enter the raffle copter for this month’s giveaway.


Until next time, 
I wish you happiness and love. 
Lucinda

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Hopeless Romantic by @karilemor #RomanceGems

This was a post I wrote six years ago on my original blog The Hopeless Romantic. Back before I had anything published and had absolutely no people who knew who I was. I thought it might be nice to revisit.  It was one of the most romantic things to ever happen to me!

Feb. 14, 2014
So it’s Valentine’s Day.  That means we must discuss love and romance, right?  Of course.  I originally had this plan for my blog to make a list of the things that I found very romantic.  But when I woke up this morning, my plans changed.  Why did they change?  My husband.  He’s not some debonair Romeo who swept me off my feet or some Valentino with smooth moves.  He’s just a regular guy.  But sometimes he does something so amazing it just blows my mind.  And it happened again today.
Let’s go back in time and I’ll fill you in on our history.  Nothing glamorous.  We met in college in a History class.  He sat in front of me and would always turn around to hand me the attendance sheet.  He’d smile and I’d smile.  I really never saw much except the back of him.  But he had great hair and *ahem* a really cute butt.
I had a weekend job and so during the week I always went to the library every night, to the third floor (the quiet floor) and settled into the cubicles.  Some nights he would show up and sit near me.  It wasn’t until years later, he confessed he wasn’t there to do work.  Unless you call trying to get my attention work.  And often, on Monday nights, I would invite him back to my room to watch Remington Steele.  No, not in reruns, these were the original episodes.  Yes, that makes me very old.   Remember this little tidbit as it will come up again.

Image
So flash forward a few years (okay maybe more than a few) to Christmas and he and I and our three children are sitting around the Christmas tree.  They are unwrapping gifts and he has gotten each of them some dvd from the $5 bin at WalMart.  I open mine, wondering what he has picked out for me.  I stop and stare and the kids just nod and go on opening.  But my heart stops, too.  He’s gotten me a whole season of Remington Steele.  He remembered.  Seriously remembered.

Flash forward a few more years to our 25th Anniversary.  We had a huge party (orchestrated by my oldest with the help of her younger siblings, and apparently my husband) but the thing I loved most was the card he got me.  Here it is:
Image
Yup, cute little picture, but the sentiment is what has made me keep it still.  The inside reads:  
Turns out the millionth kiss is even better than the first.  Happy Anniversary.
But then my husband continues to write:  
Especially knowing there are a million more to come.                 *swoon*
Okay, so I’ve established he has his romantic moments.  No, our marriage wasn’t filled with little things like this every day, but they pop up every now and then.  So let’s fast forward to today.  No, actually I need to give you a tiny bit of backstory first.    I started reading romance novels when I was twelve and loved anything to do with romance.  I had a friend in High School who always teased me about it but one day gave me a cute little poster with a cartoon character riding in a hot air balloon throwing hearts out to scatter and float in the bright blue sky.  The poster was titled:  The Hopeless Romantic.
Yup, that’s where I got the name for this blog.  It describes me perfectly.  I had mentioned this poster one time to my husband when I first started the blog and said I wished I could find something similar again. I honestly didn't think he was listening.
Okay, now we can flash forward to this morning.  It’s yucky with snow and ice, and I’m groggy so when Hubby says good bye in the morning, I haven’t realized it’s Valentine’s Day.  Once I get up and get going, I head to our spare room (now that the kids are all gone we actually have one) and sit down at my computer.  It takes me a while, but I realize there is something leaning against the wall.  It’s a painting.  And as I get closer, I realize it is a hot air balloon with someone throwing hearts to flutter in the wind.  And one of the hearts has some words on it:  JM to KL, Forever and Always.  That’s also what it says on the inside of our wedding rings.
The painting is by my niece who is an artist and it’s obvious my husband has conspired to have her do this.  I had no idea.  And the thought and consideration, and LOVE that went into doing this astounds me.  And I feel guilty because with all the snow we’ve gotten here lately, I haven’t even had a chance to get him a card.  But he has been so amazingly supportive of my writing that I figure a great gift will be my writing something for him.
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So here it is.  Thank you, hon, for almost twenty-seven years of marriage, three beautiful children, a life of love, fun, and romance and making me always feel like the sexiest woman on earth (which I know I’m not).  You are the rock that grounds me and gives me strength in times when I feel I can’t go on.  Thank you for loving me as you do and putting up with all my quirks and bad habits.  I love you very much and will continue to love you Forever and Always.
And thanks to all who stuck around for this much too long blog.  Have you any romantic stories to tell?  Let me know.  I’d love to hear them.



Shameless plug: If you happen to be near Jacksonville, Florida, I will be signing books at JAX Bookfest at the Main branch Library on Sat. Feb 29 from 10 - 3.   I will have copies of my new book, True Dreams, even though it's not technically out yet!! Hope to see you there!

Last But Not Least!

Our February Giveaway is in full swing! Check out these great prizes:



First Prize  - ~$20 Amazon gift card

     Second Prize - ~ $15 Amazon gift card
         
  Third Prize - ~$10 Amazon gift card

 Fourth Prize - ~5 Amazon gift card


Enter to win HERE





Sunday, February 16, 2020

Happy Anniversary, Romance Gems by @ConstanceBretes #RomanceGems

Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary, Romance Gems! I’m a little late in the wishes, and that’s because I was out of commission December and January. I had a new release scheduled for December, but was unable to get it to release day because of illnesses.

I’m doing much better now and am happy to be back in the saddle again.  On February 7, Romance author “Jan Scarbrough” did a blog talking about second  chances at love. I enjoyed reading that blog because it kind of resonated with me. I too, like to write second chance romances. Not all my books are written in that troupe, but this upcoming new release is one about second chances. My publisher and I have not agreed upon the blurb yet, so I’ll give you the tentative blurb that I’ve drafted up. I’m not sure when we will release this book, this month, or next, but it will be soon.

Rekindled Christmas Mystery

She left him 12 years ago, now she’s back. Can he forgive her?

12 years ago, Liz Grey left town, disappointed and discouraged, and went to Los Angeles to start over, leaving behind Aaron Mansfield, with a broken heart.

Now she’s back working at the Maverick County Sheriff department after a disgraceful end of her career at the L.A. Police Department.

Sent to a town to investigate a possible murder, she runs into Aaron, the man she left behind and whom she still loves.

Aaron spent years living quietly, caring for his community and his dog. He was surprised to see Liz Grey back in town. But can he ever forgive her for sneaking off during the night and leaving him?

Romance Gems is celebrating a one year anniversary. Be sure to check out all the fun stuff we have going on, and don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter for some great prizes.
Until next month….