Sunday, May 24, 2020

Get Away to Fortune Bay - by Judith Hudson

This year, as summer rolls in, many of us are feeling a little stuck at home. But you can always escape into a good book. Or escape to Fortune Bay.

I wrote Lake of Dreams, a prequel to the Fortune Bay series, to give away as my gift to readers for joining my Readers Group. I imagined it as a fun little book – could see Colleen dancing on the dock in her cowboy boots – and was surprised at the personal, poignant themes that emerged as I wrote.

I was lucky enough to spend many holidays at my husband’s family cottage  in Muskoka, in rugged, rocky, northern Ontario. From the stories I heard, he and his four brothers and sisters ran wild there for two months every summer throughout their childhood and teens. Later, our own children got to experience the fishing and boating too for a few weeks every summer.

This was our cottage for many years, my inspiration for Alex Porter’s cottage on Majestic Lake.

On the long weekend in the middle of the summer, the whole active, extended family would meet there for the annual regatta. (Watch for the regatta to show up in one of the Fortune Bay books.) The cottage would groan, but accepted us all, squeezing us into the small sleeping cabins scattered in the forest around the central cabin. Our favourite place to congregate was in the Muskoka room, a screened-in porch that was a must at dusk to hold back the mosquitoes.

Clipped from an old cottage movie – it could be Alex’s Queen of the Lake.

My father-in-law, the patriarch of the family, was a lawyer and eventually a judge, but up at the lake he was more like Alex’s grandfather than his lawyer father. There was a dock with a boathouse and a couple of boats, including canoes hung in slings against the far wall and a rowboat that we used daily. Early morning paddles on lake to the sound of loons were particularly magical.

My cabin at Fortune Bay is an amalgam of one of the cottages in the compound (the one with the washroom outside at the end of the porch), a cute white cottage down the lake that always seemed empty, and a cabin on the lake here on Vancouver Island. Like everything else I write, there is a touchstone of truth, although it is usually unrecognizable by the time it hits the page.

Eventually my in-laws could no longer manage the hill, and when the grandfather died, we were not as lucky as Alex and were not able to keep the cottage. A few years later I wrote Lake of Dreams, and didn't realize until later how many fond memories of summers on that Ontario lake had made it into the book. And, indeed, into all of the Fortune Bay books.

Learn more about Lake of Dreams, and how you can get it free, by clicking here

Is there a place that is near and dear to your heart, where you can get away from your regular life and kick back? Or a place you remember where you’d love to return? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Judith Hudson

Don't forget to enter the monthly rafflecopter giveaway. Only a few days left to get in on a chance for one of three  Amazon Gift Cards. To enter click on the link above, then scroll down to find my name on an entry.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Hot and Snowy with a Chance of Tadpoles by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

Hard to believe it’s Memorial Day Weekend—the unofficial kickoff to summer in the USA. Yet, recently we had snow. That’s New England for you! When I first moved here many years ago, someone shared the adage… “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute.” And, it’s true. Spring is particularly riotous with bone-chilling mornings and hot summer-like afternoons. In between it is anyone’s guess what you will get. Super-hard to dress in the old days when I worked in a big office and not at home. These days, I just pour the coffee and shake my head at what is going on outside the window.

Being home more than ever in 2020, Mr. H and I were busy prepping gardens early, only to have recurring bouts of frost, snow, and heavy rain. Even tornado warnings and hail last week. Jeez. Yet, I’m always excited when typical springtime weather rolls around. I think trees in New England—and other places with changing seasons—work extra hard at looking beautiful. There were two sunny days when the maples and red oaks on our wooded property were awash with pink and light green budding leaves. Gorgeous against a clear blue sky! Cool breezes, tiny wildflowers, and no bugs yet… Ahh…

All this “blooming” in May is not without setbacks. Achoo! If you are like me, pretty blossoms make your eyes itch, and you sneeze. Then, there are the creatures. With three crazy dogs (all hound breeds – what was I thinking?!!) I am constantly running interference for chipmunks and squirrels. Sleigh bells on our doors, once used for puppy training, now serve as warnings to any rodent in the yard. LOOK OUT, INCOMING! Jeez again.

There was that one year though...when a new sound entered the yard. A chirping sound, almost tropical. “Hmm… Do you know what that is, Mr. H?” “Nope,” the man of few words said and kept chopping wood. That was the same year the pump for our above ground pool died, and we had to delay opening until way into June. By then, that weird chirping sound had hatched THOUSANDS of tadpoles in the water on the cover of our pool. I discovered them, hiding beneath leaves in the murky mess, on the day we were all set to open. I did not say “Jeez” that day. Think more colorful and cover your kid’s ears.

You see, we Hills are nature lovers, and the last thing we were going to do was kill thousands of baby frogs so we could swim for a few short summer weeks. But what the heck do you do with them…growing in hundreds of gallons of slimy pool cover water?

We tried catching them. There were too many. Syphoning came next, and it worked a bit. Now, we had a smaller puddle of wigglers. These attempts played out over a very long week. Of course, we wanted to save them. Our daughter wanted to raise them. I said, “NO!”

Ten large Home Depot construction buckets with lids later, two pole nets, new hoses, and we captured oodles of tadpoles in various stages of development. I asked a neighbor with a pond if she would take them, but she cringed. She had her own issues with the little green guys. My critique partner laughed, and laughed, and wanted pictures. No help there. Friends and family just shook their heads, saying, “Only you.”

What to do with ten big buckets of tadpoles? We did what any good nature-lovers would. We packed the little suckers in the car and drove them north to a beautiful lake. Not just any lake. One with somewhat easy access from a hidden spot off a dirt road. Because you can’t just drive up to someone’s lakefront home and ask if they’ll adopt your thousands of tadpoles. At least, I don’t think so. 😊

So, there ya have it. Another crazy story from Camp Hills. We’re magnets for weird.

Update: I was outside the other day and heard “the chirp”. OMG! Not again! “Honey… Guess what we’re doing this holiday weekend. Opening the pool even if it snows again.”

If you enjoy my quirky family stories, then you'll love how I incorporate family antics into my books. You can find them HERE.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kathryn

Don't miss out on our May Giveaway!

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Friday, May 22, 2020

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND! by Kathleen Lawless @kathleen lawless #romancegems

Long weekends are something most of us look forward to, whether we’re working, in school or retired.  In Canada, we had our holiday Monday earlier this week, while Memorial Day in the US and a bank holiday in the UK are on the horizon. 

This year, my brothers and sister and I celebrated by springing Dad from the retirement residence where he’s been in lockdown for over two months.  For the first time this year, all four of us were together for a visit with him, social distanced of course, outside in our lovely gazebo.  The little things we used to take for granted are slowly coming back.

To help kick off the holiday celebration this weekend, my boxed set of 4 award-winning historical romances, WIDOWS, BABIES, AND BRIDES, is on sale for only .99 cents, a saving of $9.  Grab yours here for a leisurely binge read.

Do you have plans for the long weekend? Or have you already enjoyed your extra day off where you are?  I'd love to hear which countries have their holiday at different times.

Wherever you're reading this, I hope you’re at least entering our Rafflecopter draw to win one of our Amazon gift cards.  

No matter what you get up to, be sure to have a happy, safe and healthy weekend. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


By Caroline Clemmons

Our theme this month at Romance Gems is Love in Bloom. I hope love is blooming at your home along with whatever flowers you’ve planted. Our recent three-inch rain appears to have made our plants happy. I’m not sure if the seeds we planted floated away or were encouraged to sprout. Time will tell.

Why did I plant seeds instead of bedding plants? I wanted to emulate my maternal grandmother, who planted seeds each year. And, since Mother’s Day occurs in May, today I want to honor my maternal grandmother, Frances Josephine Gamble.

Caroline Phlox

Grandmother loved her flowers. For most of my childhood she lived where water was scarce. Summer always brought water rationing so she could only water her vegetable garden regularly. Flowers were allowed scarce amounts of water once weekly.

Grandmother combated this by planting flowers that could thrive on little water. Those I remember were a giant lantana, iris, giant pink Carolina phlox, and purple and white salvia. Most prevalent were her petunias. I read somewhere that we can’t recall a smell but that’s not true. I can call up the sweet smell of petunias from my grandmother’s yard.

Frances Josephine Gamble Phifer Reynolds

She was sixty-nine when this photo was taken. The cousin to whom I’m closest agreed that this is our favorite photo of our grandmother. This is how I remember her, even though she lived to be ninety-one.

Perhaps her love for her flowers caused them to thrive in spite of drought. Although this is not the “love in bloom” associated with romance novels, Grandmother proved love creates blooms. In the same way, she loved her family. Somehow, she made each of us grandchildren feel as if we were her favorite. Going to visit her was always a treat.

Even before her father died when she was ten she had a difficult life. She outlived two husbands and two of her children, the first of whom died a few days old of respiratory failure and the second who died of consumption as a young mother. As long as I can remember, Grandmother looked ancient but didn’t change much in appearance during my lifetime. One reason is probably that when I was six, she moved from the farm into town and her life got a lot easier.

If you're looking for something cheerful to read, why not try MAIL-ORDER BEATRICE, one of the Widows, Brides, and Secret Babies Series of sweet historical western romances. You'll fall in love with Beatrice and Tate while they fall in love. Beatrice will only by pushed so far and then, watch out!

Here's the blurb:

Beatrice “Attie” Kendall has to escape from home with her six-week-old son. With the help of her kind brother, she goes to Atlanta where she consults a matchmaker. After the hard life Attie’s been dealt for her twenty years, she’ll finally have a good home with nice people and a friend nearby.  In fact, her husband and their home seem too good to be true. Does she dare trust that her life has really changed?

Tate Merritt isn’t ready to get married but he gives in to his grandfather’s coercing. Grandpa raised him and Tate tries to please the older man. Tate doesn’t know what to think about this mail-order bride. She isn’t at all the wife he imagined—plus, she showed up with a baby! The child’s a cute little thing but Tate isn’t sure how he feels about her surprising him. How can he trust a woman whose story keeps changing?

Life presents obstacles to further complicate Attie and Tate’s marriage. They’ll have to work together to solve their problems and protect their family.  Can they trust one another enough to make this marriage work?

The Universal Amazon Link is MAIL-ORDER BEATRICE is available in e-book and print and is FREE in KU.

I hope this month has brought you love and flowers in bloom. Don’t forget to sign up for our LOVE IN BLOOM Rafflecopter.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Bloom of Love @LucindaRace #Romancegems

I’ve been mulling over this month’s blog post since the moment our theme was announced. Tree, shrubs and flowers are in bloom around my home and so are my allergies. We have been dealing in our own ways, with the world around us – but the one constant in all our lives is love.

 Starting from when we’re born our lives are filled with love from our family. We continue to discover the wonder of it again and again. With the first blush of romantic love we have a sense that we can conquer the world. The rush of emotion you feel when you meet your partner, the instant bond when you hold your child in your arms and that moment your fur-baby lavishes you with affection. In those first heady moments we know in our hearts there isn’t an obstacle to large we can’t overcome.

 Love gives us strength to face whatever lays ahead of us. We draw strength from it. I am a romantic at heart on all levels. Love gives me strength. I have faith I will never run out of love, it is like the magic well, the more I give the more I have to give. Love is a like my favorite rose, ever blooming in my heart. My hope for you is to take stock and discover that romance and love are in full bloom all around you.

 On May 7,  I released my 11th book, The Matchmaker and The Marine. Here is the opening scene.

Melinda flipped her planner shut after drawing a heart next to the two names on the page on the notepaper. Another success. The strains of the “Wedding March” played by a string quartet filled the small flower-filled chapel. Guests rose from their seats to watch the petite bride glide down the aisle toward her handsome groom. Across the aisle in a pew, a tall, well-built man with blonde hair cropped military style and molten brown eyes locked on hers. He gave Melinda a half nod before his gaze followed the bride.

The pastor’s deep voice filled the room as he asked everyone to take their seats. He then turned to the couple to perform the ceremony.  After the newly married couple kissed, Melinda followed other guests in the receiving line to the bride and groom.

She beamed. “Stacey and Will, it was a beautiful ceremony.” Stacey was radiant. Will’s arm was curled around his new wife, holding her close to his side. “Melinda, this day wouldn’t have been possible without you.” Stacey lovingly gazed at Will. “Thank you for introducing us.”

 Melinda kissed her cheek. “It was my pleasure.” Will lifted Stacey’s hand to his lips, grazing her ring finger. “I will tell all my single friends if they’re looking for love to give you a call.” His eyes twinkled. “You certainly have a knack for matchmaking.”

 “You two made my job easy.” She looked over her shoulder. “You have more guests to greet, but I’ll see you during the reception.”

 She strolled down the brick walkway to her car, content to see the love between Stacey and Will. Just as it was meant to be. After making the short drive to the country club, Melinda parked in the crowded lot.

As she crossed the parking area to the reception hall she daydreamed of how nice it would be to take off her pumps and walk barefoot. She reached for the brass knob on the carved wood door. Before she could turn the knob, it burst open. She took a step back. Her heel caught a crack in the stone step. She began to fall backward when strong hands caught her and held on tight.

 A deep voice next to her ear said, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.” Melinda looked up into warm brown eyes. It was the man from the chapel.

 “Um, thank you.” She smoothed her hand over her simple navy-blue dress and then pushed a curl behind her ear. “I’m not sure what happened.”

 “It looks like your heel got caught.” She gave him a small smile. “It’s a good thing you were there to catch me.”

 With a slight stiff bow, he said, “Adam Bell, at your service, ma’am.”

If you'd like to purchase this or another one of my  books here is a universal link .

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt.

 Until next time, I wish you love. Lucinda

Don't forget... Our May giveaway and theme are in full swing. First Prize: $20, Second Prize: $15, and Third Prize $10, all paid in Amazon Gift Cards.

Best of Luck to everyone in the drawing! Click: Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Not Blooming @karilemor #RomanceGems

Our theme this month is Romance in Bloom.  I know plenty about romance but the bloom part I’m a bit weak in.  My mom is one of those people who has a bona fide green thumb. Growing up, we had so many plants all over the house. We had five picture windows, and every one of them was filled to the brim with plants.

The kitchen window over the sink housed many of the cacti and smaller plants. We even had a Venus Fly Trap at one point. My sister and I used to love feeding it hamburg.  Watching the greedy little mouth close up was fascinating.

The most impressive window was the one in the living room. It was a huge bay window that went from floor to ceiling. The curtain over it closed in front and at times we used it as a stage. But first we’d need to move all the plants. They hung from the ceiling and graced small tables in front of it. I used to joke that we didn’t need a Christmas tree, we could just hang lights on all the plants.

So it was quite disappointing when my thumb turned out to be black. It caused plants to die. Even the ones where people said, “Oh, you can’t kill that plant. They’re so hearty.” It never failed that every year while I was teaching, I’d get a plant or two from a student or a group gift from the class. After telling everyone how much I loved it and thanking them, I’d give it the sign of the cross and last rites. Then I’d take it home to die.

The only hope these poor greens had was if my mother happened by before they were completely dead and took pity on it. My mom took in more foster plants from my house than anything else. And miraculously, she always managed to bring them back to life and make them healthier than they were before. And no matter how much she told me how to take care of them, mine always died. Good thing my kids yelled and cried if I didn’t feed them, otherwise I could have been in deep trouble.

For a few years I actually bought fake flowers and stuck them outside in the wall by the road. They looked amazing and people wondered how I kept them so fresh for so long. Yeah, most people caught on to my trick after a while. My kids teased me something awful, but none of them offered to plant and take care of something real so it didn’t bother me.  I’ve accepted the fact I am not a plant person.

But romance, now that’s something I know a little about. I started pilfering my mom’s Harlequins when I was about twelve. That started my deep love for anything romance.  Most of the books I read for pleasure are most definitely in the romance category. And not that many years ago, I tried my hand at writing romance. 

My newest series, the Storms of New England, now has three books out and book 4 should be making its arrival this summer.  The newest, Stolen Dreams, is a favorite since Alex Storm is very organized and OCD in many ways. So many of his quirks come from me (or a few of my children) and so he is familiar. Luckily Gina, whose grandmother lived next door, absolutely loves Alex’s quirks. It takes him a while to finally figure out that she’s the one he’s been looking for his whole life.
You can take a peek and read the first chapter at these retailers:

                   Amazon               Barnes & Noble          Books2Read

And don’t forget to enter this month’s Rafflecopter

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Laughter, the best medicine @ConstanceBretes #romancegems

Been thinking about humor. I’m sure we’ve all encountered humorous situations, embarrassment, and jokes. Some so funny you have to tell it, some so embarrassing you want to forget about it. Practical jokes – well, my husband loves to pull them on me. I have a great sense of humor, and will find things comical even in the most serious, subdued environment.

I have tried to input humor in some of my books, funny incidents that have happened to me. Let’s see if I can recall a few of them.

Jade’s Redemption: In this book, the incident at the creek really happened to me. 

Blue As Sapphires: The battle between Marissa and the squirrel was actually a battle between me and a squirrel.

I have one book that I haven’t edited yet to get it to my publisher called Moonlight Path. This particular book shares my escapades with golfing.

In my new release, Rekindled Christmas Mystery, there is a scene where the two sisters reminisce about Christmases past. The memories are from my childhood. NOTE:  This book was scheduled to be released in March. However, my publisher is fighting her battle with cancer, and understandably, fallen behind in getting books release. As soon as I know the release date, I will let you know.

During this pandemic, I have also gone through my own personal trial and I couldn’t have survived this if it wasn’t for my practical jokester and dry humor husband, and my ability to find humor in things.

So, if you’re having a particular difficult time because of this pandemic, grab some books and escape for a while. Look for humor and have a good belly laugh. Be thankful you’re alive and later on, you’ll be able to share with others the fact you survived the 2020 Covid19 pandemic.

You know what would be fun too, is if you won one of these prizes from the Romance Gems May in Bloom rafflecopter. So, get your name in the drawing and look for your name to be drawn as a winner!