Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Bewitching Evening by Nora LeDuc #RomanceGems


With Covid-19, no one is sure what will happen with Halloween, although most have an opinion. But I remember a lot of hot discussions about this unique day. For years, many parents have held debates over what is an appropriate costume? Would you prefer to look like an ax murderer or dress like a saint? I'll leave that answer up to personal taste.

If you’re a New Englander, you may recall that last year, many towns and cities moved this special event to an alternate date because a Northeaster rainstorm was scheduled to arrive that afternoon. (Now, to be truthful, I’d only heard of Northeaster snowstorms.) To some children, it seemed to be a plot to ruin a celebration. In the end, it was confusing. Some communities chose another night while others stuck with the original. Many youngsters benefitted and went out both evenings. 


   When I was a kid, they debated ending the tradition because some strange people threatened to put razor blades in handouts. The local hospital came to the rescue by offering to ex-ray our loot. Seeing the inside of my candy sounded exciting. My mother disappointed me when she asked me to pour my haul on the table, pawed through my treasures, and deemed my goodies harmless. She told me most of my sweets were too small to hide a sharp blade. I believe my father sacrificed his well-being and took a bite out of my larger size chocolate bars—for the sake of safety––of course. 

Then who can forget the trick or treat scenes in the movie Meet Me In St. Louis? The characters Tootie and her sister Agnes dressed up, knocked on doors, and threw flour in the faces of folks who answered. There was even a bonfire in the streets for the kids who fed the fire by throwing furniture into it. The highlight was creating a dummy and putting it on the trolley tracks to derail it. 

I'm sure you might have more memories that standout. Let me end by saying, no matter how you spend this eve, I wish you a happy and safe Oct. 31. 


Before you go, here’s my newest book release Christmas at the Easy Breezy

Sometimes Christmas brings the unexpected…

All Darcy Malone wants is a loving family. Once she had a husband, home, and job she enjoyed. But her husband betrayed it all, and now, in search of her roots, she finds her grandmother in a small New Hampshire town. Except sometimes family isn’t what you expect at all…



And don’t forget to get your copy of Last Chance Beach the box set. Time is almost up to get this collection of 14 short stories by 14 award-winning authors.

Stay healthy and may you read many great books, Nora.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Those Little Tidbits by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

I was in high school when I read my first historical romance. While I enjoyed the love story VERY much, I was also drawn to the details and facts the author shared about the characters' daily lives. There were duties and objects and fashions that I had never heard of until I started reading historical romance.

For example, it was Mary Balogh who taught me what a "forlorn hope" was. And I learned from Maggie Osborne that if you wanted to get over Chilkoot Pass during the Alaskan Gold Rush, you had to keep walking or you might just go sliding right back down. And no one was going to help you.

I found that I loved those little nuggets of information. They were so interesting and made the story better. They pulled you into the time period and made the setting richer and easier to connect with.

Many years ago, I took a tour of a Victorian home in Galveston, Texas. It was there where I learned what carpenter's lace was. So many of those houses had all that intricate and beautiful woodwork. What I didn't realize, probably because I was born when suburbs became the norm and every fifth home was the same, was that these carved pieces of artwork were all different. And they didn't always have to be on the outside of the house.

The docent called it "carpenter's lace", which was each carpenter's trademark, and became his signature. Isn't that cool? A carpenter would sign the houses he built, just like an artist signs a painting. Once the builder created his signature, he would put it in a spot in the house, making it possible for people to identify his work.

I loved that soooo much, and I knew I had to put this little tidbit in a book.

Love's Promise releases on November 7th. It is the sixth book in the Texas Brides of Pike's Run series. One of the main characters, Jonas Boswell, is a carpenter, and I wrote a wonderful scene where he shows the woman he loves his handiwork. I love that scene so much and a snippet of it is below.

Is there something interesting that you learned from a romance? Please share below and you could win a book from my series!

Love's Promise: An Excerpt

She shook her head then turned toward the house.

When he would have hurried her up the steps, she stopped to take in the view. He was so ready to get her inside and show her his woodworking abilities, he’d forgotten she might want to admire the outside first.

He looked at it through her eyes, wondering what she would think. The house was yellow with white trim. The front had two bay windows, one on either side of the wide porch, set under twin gables that had barge board, carved with a leaf design, running along the edge. The trim under the roof overhang had been shaped into waves and went from one end to the other.

“How beautiful,” she breathed. “It’s like a fairytale.”

There weren’t any other words she could have said that would have pleased him more. He’d almost abandoned the project when his wife died. She’d passed when the structure was only a shell, and the frames had stood almost as another marker for her departed soul. Eventually, he’d needed something to do and had been surprised when completing the house had provided solace for his grief. When he looked at it now, he always saw Mary’s proud expression in his mind’s eye. “Let’s go inside,” he urged.

She said nothing but allowed him to take her by the hand then up the steps. When she entered, she gasped at the high ceiling. He’d left the entry open to the top floor. There was a window intricately placed above the door to allow the setting sun to shine through.

“Oh, Jonas! How beautiful.”

The wonder on her face gripped him as nothing ever had before. She treated his home as if it were some kind of priceless painting. To him it was. To others…well, he’d never expected such a reaction.

“The shine is gorgeous. The beams are so rich.” She turned in a circle, running her enraptured gaze over every inch of the ceiling.

“Thank you,” he murmured. Inadequate words, but they were all he could think of. “They’re mahogany.”

When she finally took her gaze from above and looked at the entry, he waited with bated breath. Would she think the rest as beautiful?

She assessed the curving staircase and reached out a shaky hand to touch the newel post. “You carved this.”

It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of amazed wonder. He said nothing and swallowed past the lump in the base of his throat.

Then she found the floor with its snowflake shadows made by his woodworking skills. “Jonas!” she gasped. “It’s lace!”

While she stared with wide eyes, he cleared his throat and explained. “Carpenter’s lace. It’s my signature.”

Her gaze switched to him. “Your signature?”

He pointed to the edge of the ceiling where the stairs disappeared onto the second floor. “See the design here?”

She tipped her head up. “Oh, I do,” she breathed. “It’s a carved detail you added, and when the setting sun shines through, it makes lace shadows on the ground.” She reached a hand up. “I’m too short.”

She didn’t need to ask twice. He stepped forward then lifted her at the waist, her soft feminine curves making his gut clench with desire. She giggled but didn’t tell him to put her down. Gingerly, as if it were precious, she touched the grooves of his signature, running her finger along the carvings.

When he set her down, she gazed at him. “A carpenter signs his work? Like a painter signs a painting?”

He nodded. “It’s usually called carpenter’s lace. When you begin your business, you develop one and put it in a spot in each house you build.”

“This is fascinating. I knew you were talented, but I underestimated how much.”

Heat climbed into his cheeks. “Thanks,” he said sheepishly.

“Are you embarrassed?” she asked, her mouth curving upward in pleased surprise. “Or modest? That’s it. You’re modest.”

He shrugged then held out his hand. “Wanna see the rest?”

Her gaze lowered to his outstretched palm, and he waited with his breath held for her to accept his touch again. When she slid her fingers through his, tingles shot up his arm and sent warmth to areas that had been dormant for too long. He tugged and she followed.

Love's Promise
Historical Romance
Texas Brides of Pike's Run

When Eliska Spencer opens a bakery in Pike’s Run with her friends, Cora Ann Carter and Sugar Fremont, no one suspects the women aren't what they seem.

Jonas Boswell is enchanted by Sugar Fremont. He fights the attraction, not wanting to risk his heart after experiencing the death of his first wife. Falling in love again has never seemed possible or safe. But then Sugar appears with her bouncing, red curls and shining, blue eyes, and he is lost.

Thomas Miller gives females a wide berth. After living with three sisters, he finds women frustrating and irritating. And Cora Ann Carter is no exception. However, her feisty nature and bold curves draw him in until he doesn't recognize himself. It's all he can do not to drag her down the aisle.

Reverend Aidan Black had his heart broken many years ago. He swore off women and made his flock his priority. Then Eliska Spencer crosses his path. She is kind. And gentle. And giving. His heart melts, and he is powerless against her. He vows to make her his own.

But the ladies’ past looms, invading their future and stealing their happiness. All the women want is to love and be loved. Can they achieve their dreams, or will the men in their lives prove too stubborn to forgive their past?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Why I love to be scared.... by Peggy Jaeger


Halloween is just around the corner. I'm not gonna talk about how it will be such a different celebration this year because of the way the world is right now. I mention Halloween as an introduction to my topic today WHY I LOVE TO BE SCARED.

Now, I often admit, I am not like other people. If you've ever read my bio sheet on my webpage you know there are some unusual things about me. One eye larger than the other, my favorite book and song, and the fact that I love scary movies - the scarier the better.

And I'm not talking about those torture-porn movies like SAW 1- 56, or The Texas chainsaw massacre. Those movies were made for bloody shock value and aren't scary as much as shocking and...gross.

No, I'm talking about melt down in to your seat, cover your eyes, close one of them, and don't breath, scary movies.

For example... when I was a 12 THE EXORCIST premiered. People were fainting and throwing up in the theater. Not me. I hunkered down and planted my butt waaaaaay down in the seat, lifted my legs so my  knees were up around my chin and then spent two hours scared to death.

Loved every second of it.

The OMEN was another childhood scare fest. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS still gets to me when I catch it while channel surfing. And forget about JAWS. I haven't dipped a toe in the ocean since that movie released in 1975.

Those are the movies that do it for me, not the persistent blood, guts and gore of so many filmmakers theses day. To be truly scared you need to have a visceral reaction to what you are seeing, plus an intellectual one - where you ENVISION or just know what is going to happen, and THAT is why you are terrified. In writing we call this foreshadowing during a romantic suspense novel. Great filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg know this and it shows in all their films.

SO, tell me, because my inquiring mind wants to know: What was the scariest movie you ever saw, and why was it so scary?

On that note, I wish everyone a Happy Halloween, albeit it will be a different day than we're used to. I didn't even buy candy this year!!

Looking for me ( on Halloween or any other day, lol?) here I am: FOLLOW ME

Monday, October 26, 2020

Coffee and Conversation with the #RomanceGems

It's time for Coffee and Conversation with the Romance Gems! So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us for some fun. This month's topic is: What’s the STRANGEST thing you’ve done to a character (or characters) in one of your books?

We all send our characters on journeys. We’re writers, after all, so conflict is essential. Some romance subgenres are likely nicer/kinder than others, but either way your imaginary people need to go through some stuff to reach their happily-ever-after. Have you sent them on a grueling voyage or put them in danger? Maybe your “strangest thing” is something funny, like you’ve put them in an embarrassing situation? Let’s talk!

“In TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS, I made widowed lawyer Cathleen O’Dowd attend a speed dating night. Organized by her friend, the local matchmaker, she coerced Cathleen into trying it so she could dip her toes into the dating pool again. She’d married the only boy she’d ever kissed and had been a widow for 3 years, so it was time to “get out there again.” Needless to say it was a disaster – a comic one – but a disaster all the same.” ~ Peggy Jaeger

“Not strange, but the stupidest thing I ever did was to kill off a beloved character. I will never do that again! When my Kensington (Zebra Historical) editor came back and asked me to add a book to my existing Brides of Bath trilogy (a long time ago--the series now has seven books), I felt I didn't have a way to expand it unless I took a secondary romance from Book 1, made the wife die, and made him the grieving hero of Book 4 (released back in 2004). Readers were distraught. Because the dead woman was so beloved, it did make his grieving palpable--and deserving of his new happily ever after!” ~ Cheryl Bolen

“In The Cowboy's Charms, I send my heroine, Angelique, on a cattle drive. It was pretty tough for her. Not only was she a society girl who was having to play cowgirl, but she ended up being accused of sabotage by the man she loved. It was pretty difficult for her. But she toughs it out. It was awesome to write and read!”

“In my vintage, 1960s Halloween-themed book, Bewitched, my hero is a bachelor who doesn't "do" kids. My heroine runs a very busy daycare center directly across the street. “When she's called away on an emergency, the hero reluctantly agrees to help out with the children in her absence. He’s just settling in and getting comfy, when a crayon-eating toddler throws up on him in vivid technicolor and ruins an expensive jacket and Italian leather shoes! Needless to say, he escapes as quickly as possible! But ... we’ll he eventually come back?” ~ Nancy Fraser

In A Soft Place to Fall, the heroine, Early, moved back to where she'd grown up so that she could take care of her former father-in-law as he recuperated from open-heart surgery. While there, her mother broke her ankle and ended up moving in, too. Since Early was in no way a saint, I was surprised I piled this on her. She performed admirably.” ~ Liz Flaherty

“Keith Cho is a very quiet hero and I had a difficult time figuring him out. One of the secrets he finally shared with Samantha, the heroine, is that as a kid he participated in talent shows doing musical theater. At one point in the story, they are tied up and unable to get free, and Sam is injured. Keith serenades Sam with showtunes to keep her spirits up and her awake. Keith and Sam star in Death Race, book 5 in the Love on the Line romantic suspense series (releasing May 2021)” ~ Kari Lemor

“I love to challenge my characters. In HOPE, I have the hero, Percy, hire a hot air balloon ride as a birthday surprise for Hope, something on the list of adventures she longs to experience now that she’s on her own. Despite his fear of heights Percy joins her on the ride, where he learns confronting his fear in an attempt to banish it doesn’t necessarily work the way he hoped. For her part, Hope is charmed to learn Percy is not perfect.” ~ Kathleen Lawless

“One of the ten most dangerous jobs is commercial fishermen. In my story, Midnight Escape, the hero is a commercial crab fisherman who goes out to the Bering Sea. He is protecting the heroine from the mob, and the only way he could think to protect her was to take her out with him on his crab boat. The event was an adventure the heroine never thought she’d ever experience in her life, and of course, it help her to fall in love with the fisherman!” ~ Constance Bretes

“I think the strangest thing I’ve done to a character is have him let a dog play matchmaker. That’s what happens to recent widower and grouch Kirk Fontaine in Not-So-Blue Christmas. He’s been ignoring Bella for weeks, but she always finds a way to get to him. The first time he relents and pets her, he finds himself caught by feisty, vivacious widow Miranda Bailey who needs a bit of Christmas magic herself. These are seasoned characters. Kirk is 51 and Miranda’s 47…far too young to give up on love and, with Bella’s help, they don’t have to.” ~ Bonnie Edwards

“In my book STUART, Georgina Potter’s family treated her as a screw-up so she signed up as a mail-order bride. She arrived to learn her “businessman” groom was a saloon owner who had married a saloon girl rather than wait for Georgina. The two women got into a brawl, started by the saloon girl. When the sheriff intervened, Georgina accidentally socked him in the eye. The irate sheriff marched Georgina down the town’s main street to jail. Stuart McGee arrived two days later to ask the sheriff’s recommendation for a woman to help with the orphan he’d found.” "What’s that saying? There’s none so strange as folk. Years ago I wrote a book titled, Hook, Line and Single. Roxanne Ingram is divorced and about to turn 40. She’s on a quest to find Mr. Right and willing to explore all options. Back then, Internet Dating, Lock & Key, and Speed Dating events weren’t that common. Roxanne meets every creep and weirdo there is, until Mr. Perfect comes along. Except Mr. Perfect isn’t so perfect. He’s been accused of attempting to murder his wife." ~ Marcia King-Gamble

“In my book, Haunting Highland House, I move a self-proclaimed ‘city girl,’ Samantha Merrill, from Manhattan to an isolated estate on Cape Cod. It only takes one night for the mysterious owner of the mansion to appear and protest her living in his house. There’s only one problem. Robert Pennington has been dead for over a century.” ~ Kathryn Hills

Okay, now it's your turn to join the conversation! Do you have a favorite book in which the characters really go through something to reach their happily-ever-after?

Add your comments below or send via email through the "contact us” link on the bottom of the left sidebar. You can also make suggestions on what you'd like to discuss here in the future.

Thanks for joining us!

~ The Romance Gems ~

Sunday, October 25, 2020

What Are The Brides of Bath? by Cheryl Bolen

Tomorrow my seventh offering in the Brides of Bath, Once Upon a Time in Bath, will be published. I never expected the series to go to seven books—and counting. 

I conceived a Brides of Bath trilogy a little over 20 years ago. In 2001 Kensington Books, which publishes Zebra Historicals, bought the trilogy, and it was published only in mass market paperback the following year. (No eBooks back then.)

The series’ performance must have pleased my publisher because my editor came back the next year and asked me to publish a fourth Brides of Bath book.

I was in a bit of a quandary. The trilogy was about the Pembroke siblings which consisted of the Viscount Sedgewick, his widowed sister Felicity, and their flight younger sister Glee. Other than Felicity’s friend Carlotta, I didn’t think my cast offered further candidates for heroes or heroines, so I did the unthinkable. 

I killed off a character from a subplot in Book One, The Bride Wore Blue. (I will never again do that. Readers loved that beloved character.)

Publisher Picked All My Titles

So the fourth book was published in 2004, again only in paperback. My publisher titled it An Improper Proposal. I was mortified. There was no improper proposal in the entire book. When I got back my rights to that book seven years later I renamed this marriage-of-convenience story ToTake This Lord

All of the first four Brides of Bath books’ titles were created by Kensington. They did well with the first, naming it The Bride Wore Blue (though my original story did not have a blue wedding dress!).

I also liked the second book’s title: With His Ring. It fit and had a good sound.

In the third book, Kensington selected A Fallen Woman over my cheesy title Beleaguered Bride. At first I really liked the A Fallen Woman. However, though readers loved that deeply emotional read, sales were abysmal. After I thought about it, I realized that I probably wouldn’t purchase a book about a fallen woman. When I got back my rights to that book, I titled it The Bride’sSecret.

 Extending the Series Twelve Years Later

Twelve years after the original trilogy was published I added Book 5, Love in the Library, and later that year I offered a novella titled Christmas in Bath, where all the characters from the previous books (except the “fallen woman”) play a part, along with a fresh romance. In that novella, I got the opportunity to tie up some loose ends from earlier books—loose ends my Kensington editors never saw, but readers did!

And tomorrow Once Upon a Time in Bath launches. For years readers have been asking for Appleton’s story, and finally I’ve listened.

There’s one more secondary character from the original cast that readers want to get his own story. Right now he’s The Last Bachelor.

And then The Last Bachelor has sisters who just may need to find husbands . . . Cheryl Bolen is the NY Times-USA Today bestselling author of more than three dozen books set in Regency England, many of which have won Best Historical honors. She’s a former journalist, teacher, and PTA mom who’s a frequent traveler to England and an addict of diaries of dead Englishwomen. 

FREE! For a limited time, the second Brides of Bath book, With His Ring,  is free. 

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Germ of the Story by Judith Hudson


Hi everyone.

A story idea has to start somewhere, often with a random thought or image. For me, it is usually a place, or more specifically, an old building. In my current work in progress, it’s a hunting lodge. So far, predictably, I call it The Lodge.

This image is sort of what I had in mind, only bigger and more elaborate because it was built by the protagonist Holly’s great grandfather who was a lumber baron in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the last century. A Victorian monstrosity, to quote Holly.

All of my stories seem to center around these buildings, and I have to wonder – what is it about old, derelict buildings and ruins that intrigues me, and how do they impact the people in the story?  The more I think about it, the more I see it is the history of these places and the stories they tell that gives my imagination flight. 

The cabin in the Fortune Bay series is a good example.


This building was around the corner from a house I lived in for a number of years, and I set the Fortune Bay stories around it. In the first story, the cabin has been empty for years, since Aunt Augusta died, but the spirit of the old lady is still active and eager to interact with the new story residents. 

In Temple of the Jaguar, the first Rocky and Bernadette mystery, it was a visit to an ancient Mayan ruin in the jungle that set my mind racing.

Beginning to see the pattern? The Lodge started out with the idea of the lodge itself, loosely patterned on a few old lodges I've visited here on the Island and in Washington State. In this book, Grandad has died and left it to two granddaughters he’s never known, and who don’t know him. Holly, the protagonist in book one, has only a vague memory of a long ago visit when she was a very young child. Now he’s gone, and she’s left to piece together the family history through  secrets hidden in plain sight in the rundown old mansion. 

Of course, there are more pieces to the story puzzle, but that was the start. There was Covid, and family interruptions, but now I’m glad to be back in the story again!

As a reader, I'm also often drawn  to old house settings, going right back to Nancy Drew and The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion. What kind of books are you drawn to? Do you find yourself returning to the same kind of story again and again? Does setting play a part?

If you haven’t check out Goodreads, it is an amazing community, designed specially for readers and writers. Please find and follow me on Goodreads for more updates on how the new book is going.

Talk to you again next month.
Judy Hudson

PS – The ebook of The Good Neighbor, book two in the Fortune Bay series, is on sale on Amazon for 99 cents until the end of the month! You can read the books in any order.
See you on Goodreads!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Making Magic by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems


It’s no secret. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Halloween. Not just because I enjoy scary things or buckets full of candy. (Um…we’ll talk about that later) The thing that truly gets me, right in my pumpkin-spiced-loving heart, is the excitement and mystery of the weeks leading up to the 31st. It’s that unsettled feeling, those goosebumps and shivers, which hint that something unexpected—even magical—is about to happen.

For me, these feelings began in childhood. I grew up in a time that heartily embraced Halloween. No rules about when or how you could Trick-Or-Treat. If the light was on, you rang the bell! I even went with friends on the way home from school. After the big costume parade and party, of course. Does anyone remember making orange and black paper chains to decorate your classroom? Scary decorations, pumpkins, running in the dark. We laughed until our sides hurt and ate way too much candy. My best friend and I would tremble and lock arms when we passed “the haunted house.” You know the place. Every town has one.

Throughout the years, I added many more special Halloween magic memories. College events, my first apartment gathering with Mr. H. and our friends, and later introducing our own daughter to the things we love. The best of times as we dressed up, decorated, baked, and watched fun, spooky shows, and movies together. The magic—all there, only different.

This year at Camp Hills, we dug out our decorations and even added some new ones. Darling Daughter put up a Halloween Tree for the first time. It’s black with purple lights and fabulous Halloween ornaments. FANTASTIC! (You can find many great options on Etsy) DD’s are Tim Burton-themed…Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. We grew our own pumpkins and supported a favorite local farm by buying the BIGGEST ones we could find there. 30 lbs.+ each - no kidding! We needed wagons to get them to the car. You know they'll be outstanding Jack-o'-Lanterns providing yummy seeds aplenty! 

The spirit of the season is also alive and well on the pages my books. My Time Traveler’s Journey Series books (Haunting Highland House & Hellfire and Handbaskets) are on sale for 99 cents each as a Halloween treat for romance readers. Characters in both the past and present experience the magic along with ghostly surprises.

My advice? Eat the candy, bake the goodies, light candles, read hauntingly romantic novels, and watch your favorite shows. That's what I'll be doing!

I’d love to hear what you’re up to this year, so please share.

Happy Halloween, ALL!

~ Kathryn


Join me and 9 of my favorite author in the small New England town of Dickens!

Pre-Order the CHRISTMAS COMES TO DICKENS romance anthology now
for delivery on 10/26/20 (That's next week - YAY!)
Just 99 cents!

And don't forget your FREE companion cookie recipe book!