Sunday, May 31, 2020

EVER AFTER by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems

I love the May theme for the Romance Gems--Romance in Bloom. May is my favorite month for a variety of reasons, the first being that I met my husband in May of 1969 and married him in May of 1971.

A lot happened in those two years. One thing was that he received his draft notice the same week we met. He left for basic training in July, and I came home from work that day to a single yellow rose in a vase. For years afterward, no matter what flowers he sent to me, a yellow rose was always included in the bouquet.

We've been married 49 years and two days now. I mentioned above that a lot happened in the two years before we married--just imagine how much has happened since! A marriage that long has weathered...well, a lot. We've had losses, fights, and emotional withdrawals from each other. More than a few times, one of us has looked at the other and wondered just who in the hell that was across the table, because it certainly wasn't the person we intended to spend our lives with.

Some marriage days, we agree, have been very, very long and hard. But the years have been far too short and they're going by way too fast.

I have a notoriously black thumb, so I only plant annual flowers and hope they'll give a few weeks of pleasure before they wither and die on me; however, when I bought my zinnias and marigolds and petunias this year, I also bought a couple of miniature rosebushes. Yellow. For our past, our present, and our future.

I love when books center around not only "seasoned" protagonists, but around the resurrection of old marriages. It reminds us that Happily Ever After doesn't necessarily mean being in love every day--it means falling in love again and again. Ever After. 
The books below are my contributions to the "marriage resurrected" theme. I hope you give them a try!

Because of Joe

Tell knew the moment he saw her that she was the one. He offered Rags eternal love, children and a seat in his hammock. It was a match made in heaven. How could she say no?

Even though things should have been perfect, each took wrong turns. Rags and Tell found themselves on a one-way street traveling the wrong direction. Their marriage collapsed in a sea of accusations and disappointment.

Years later, they meet again, their memories as fresh as if it were yesterday. Instant physical attraction and emotional connection blindside them, leading them back to that perfect place.

And then there’s Joe.

A Soft Place to Fall

Early McGrath didn’t want freedom from her thirty-year marriage to Nash, but

when it was forced upon her, she did the only thing she knew to do—she went home to the Ridge to reinvent herself. Only what is someone who’s taken care of people her whole life supposed to do when no one needs her anymore? Even as the threads of her life unravel, she finds new ones— reconnecting with the church of her childhood, building the quilt shop that has been a long-time dream, and forging a new friendship with her former husband.

The definition of freedom changes when it’s combined with faith. Can Early and Nash find a Soft Place to Fall?

Friday, May 29, 2020

Rockin' the Kindness of Others by Nora LeDuc

Kindness Rocks

Everything looks better after winter, brighter, prettier. We do our spring cleaning. Move around our furniture or dream of what changes we'll make. A haircut would be perfect or a trip. After a stay-at-home, we long to get out in the world. Time to do a little for ourselves and maybe, a little something  for others.

The last idea got me thinking about how those moments of simple kindness have made my day. I still remember when I visited a friend dying from cancer at a hospital an hour from my house. I stayed most of the afternoon and then said goodbye to make it back in time for an important meeting. Outside, I realized in seconds I'd no clue where I'd parked in the lot that circled the building. I wandered around clicking my key fob hoping to hear a beep or headlights flash. After ten minutes, I was beginning to panic.

A dark-haired, young woman pulled up in a truck and asked if she could help me. I explained my situation, and she drove me around the vast parking area until I spotted my Prius. I never learned her name. When I think of her, I call her my guardian angel.
More memories flood my brain. The stranger who stopped and changed my tire when I was stranded on the side of the road. Even the small acts of kindness have affected me. The lady who let me go ahead of her in the long checkout line. The elderly gent who freed my coat zipper in the eye doctor's waiting room. (Though I worried how well he could see.) Your actions are not forgotten.

So my friends, when you're feeling down, know there is goodness out there. Every little positive action counts. And of course, if you can't go out, remember—pick up a romance novel. In our books, a happy ending is always guarantied to blossom, and love will win the day!

To celebrate romance blooms and acts of kindness, I'm giving away Sweet Dreams, Baby for free today and tomorrow. Enjoy.

Who killed Judge Shaw Buchanan aka “the hanging judge,” on the day of his wife’s funeral?When Harper Buchanan, the judge’s estranged daughter, witnesses her father’s murder in the small town of Barley, New Hampshire, she promises to find his escaped killer. She hires local private investigator, Finn O’Rourke to track down the shooter. Soon, they are working together, and Harper finds herself drawn to Finn’s looks, smarts, and self-reliance. But she’s fallen for the wrong type of man before. Can she trust one more time?

Stay Safe, My Friends!!
~Love, Nora
Come follow me on Bookbub

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May Prizes

1st Prize: $20.00 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Thursday, May 28, 2020

My Sister is Always Right by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

Happy anniversary to me! One year ago I joined Romance Gems, and it has been wonderful. I've learned so much and read so many amazing books that I feel like I hit the jackpot when I found these ladies!

This mark has also brought up memories about how I started this writing journey. Seven years ago this month I received my first publishing contract. And I can't even begin to tell you how happy and awed I was!

Happy, because someone liked my book, and awed because...well...

I had written a book. Me.

And it was all thanks to my sister.

My daughter                 My sister

I have always been an avid reader. I would pick up just about anything. (Except horror! I would have nightmares.)

After years and years of reading, of staying up late and telling myself, "Just one more chapter.", I got pretty picky and critical about the direction of a story. And if it didn't have a happy ending, what was the point?

One day I finished a book, and as I huffed and puffed about how it had worked out, showing my irritation with how an author could do such a thing, my sister said in her most matter-of-fact, quit-your-whining, fictional-characters-aren't-real tone, "Write your own ending.".

Well, that shut me up and opened up a whole new world for me. Thank God for sisters. They call you on your annoying habits and show you what you can really be if you put your mind to it.

And now I'm blogging and working with some of the best writers I've ever had the pleasure to know and read.

Romance has been in "bloom" for me for the last seven years, and it always will be!

Some of you might remember that I was orphaned by my publisher, and now I'm navigating the world of self-publishing. I'm happy to say that I'm about to put book 1, Welcome Home, onto the seller sites! Yay!

It's been an interesting journey, but so worth it! And if I hadn't found the ladies at Romance Gems, I might still be wallowing in despair at being "orphaned". (Anne Shirley would so sympathize with me!)

Thank you so much for joining us each day, and remember to enter our May giveaway! To enter, click here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Romance is a perennial, not an annual by Peggy Jaeger

This month's topic is Romance in Bloom. A cute theme since we are in the merry month of May when most of our country has flowers in bloom, or at least is starting to. Thankfully, Covid hasn't spread to plants.

 The months of April to June - typically what we refer to as Springtime - are when gardeners begin cultivating and planting the crops/flowers they want to grow. It's a time of birth and, in some cases, renewal, where we see perennial flowers come back from dormancy and hibernation. If you know anything about gardening, you recognize that annuals are plants or crops you plant once a year, they grow, and then they die. If you want to see them again next year, you have to plant them again next year. Perennials are flowers that come back year after year - if you take care of them, that is. Nothing grows from neglect.

I tend to think romance and love are perennials.

Let me 'esplain.

People celebrate the "date" something happened in varying ways. Wedding anniversaries come around once a year. The date is fixed and there are some that are 'celebrated' more than others, such as years 1, 5, 10, get the picture. Once per year you make a big fuss over the date you got hitched. I got married on December 26, 1987, the day after Christmas ( also another day we celebrate once a year)

Some celebrate the day they had their first date. For me it was October 27,1993. I'll never forget the date because it was close to Halloween ( another perennial event).

Engagements are another date people tend to remember and celebrate - or at least think of. I got engaged on New Year's Eve 1996. ( Again, another date we celebrate once a year - see a pattern here yet?)

So, why do I see romance as  perennial?


Here's the Webster's definition of perennial: lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring. 

Doesn't that sound like the kind of love and romance you want in your life? Or are lucky enough to have? Lasting for infinity. Enduring. Recurring.

Sounds good to me, no?

I received some very sound advice from an elderly patient who happened to be a florist, long ago right before I got married. He told me that the secret to staying happy in marriage for eternity ( he'd been married 60+ years) was to do  3 things:  weed out the little problems before they overgrew and took over,  always talk to one another ( he believed in talking and singing to his flowers) and cultivate the relationship daily by always remembering that love was a living force and needed to be cared for, otherwise it would wither and die.

Sound advice that I took to heart. And because of it, my marriage has lasted 33 years. If that's not the definition of perennial....

And speaking of love, my newest book released last week. VANILLA WITH A TWIST is a sweet romance about a small town, single parent,  the choices she's made in her life, and an engineer at a crossroads in his who walks into her ice cream parlor one summer day and changes her life - and his - forever.
And don't forget to enter our monthly giveaway here: GEMS IN BLOOM

Now, go care for and cultivate your relationships!

Until next month, lovely readers ~ Peg

Tuesday, May 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 is the best writing advice or compliment about your writing you have received?

You know what I’m talking about… That “aha moment” when someone shares a tip or comments on one of your books. Something that truly struck a chord. Whether in casual conversation, in a book review, during an interview, or at a workshop/class or book signing. Tell me what someone said about your writing that truly resonates with you.

"A couple of years before I sold my first book, Always Annie, author Muriel Jensen sent me a letter including the underlined words: "Never give up. Never, never give up." I taped the note to my desk, where it stayed until the ink faded away. It was the best advice I ever had and I still, now that I'm nearing the other end of my career, remind myself of it from time to time. Thanks, Muriel."
~ Liz Flaherty

"It’s been more than twenty years and more than forty books later, but my favorite compliment on my writing came after my first book, A Duke Deceived, was published in 1998. It became a finalist for the Holt Medallion, Best Historical. I didn’t win, but the contest coordinator contacted me afterward to tell me I missed winning by the smallest possible margin, and she wanted to soften the blow by telling me that one of the judges said my book was the best book she’d ever read. That’s the kind of praise one never forgets!" ~ Cheryl Bolen

“I had four books released. I went to my RWA meeting and met, for the second time, a woman who became my critique partner. She said she binge-read the books in the Loudon Series and couldn’t wait for the next one. I was shocked, stunned might be a better word. She wasn’t being nice; she really liked them. We began talking and emailing. Soon we were looking at each other’s pages. Flash forward four years, we talk constantly. She shoots straight, good or bad, and keeps me on the right track." Chapter 1 - MacLellan Sisters with Newsletter 
~ Lucinda Race

“I've received several comments/reviews on how realistic my characters are and the research I've put in them. In my book, Love, A Second Time Around, I received this compliment: "Constance crafts stories with characters who are interesting, realistic--people you miss after you read The End. True to Montana lifestyle and respective to Native American beliefs, this is a love story you don't want to miss!" This warmed the cackles of my heart.” ~ Constance Bretes

“Best compliment I received was when I’d written my first romance novel. Glowing rejections, resulted in the novel I entered in a RWA contest. One judge was Leslie Wainger, of Harlequin, her comment: best synopsis she’d ever read!

 “Even though I didn’t make that Harlequin sale, three months later Hilary Sares, at Kensington, purchased my novel for the Precious Gems line. My package landed in the snow leaving the final three chapters unreadable. I agreed to resent it. Hilary said I didn’t understand. She wanted to purchase the novel. Now with zero revisions!”
~ Connie Vines

“The most rewarding response I've received from a reader was an email from a sexual assault survivor. She said her therapist told her to find some women’s erotic fiction to help her feel "normal" again. She found my book Perdition House Part 1 An Erotic Saga. She thanked me for helping in her recovery and providing a book that had no triggers.

"I cried when I got the email and so did my daughters. It's a woman thing, but we all want to feel those feelings and I helped a young woman heal. It doesn't get any better than that!” Perdition House Part 1 is always #FREE ~ Bonnie Edwards

“When I sold my first Precious Gems to Kensington, my mother was proud. However, I did mention the editor had added a few words to the love scene (which wasn’t originally hot). She told all her gray-haired friends that the editor wrote all of the love scene! I suppose her daughter shouldn’t know that stuff.” ~ Jan Scarbrough

“The best compliments I've received from readers are when they tell me my books made them cry. In Elusive Dreams, Tessa has a hard past, and as her history reveals itself, many things come to light. I've had a number of reviews letting me know the reader had tears in their eyes, or bawled like baby. I love when people feel the emotion of the characters! I know I've done my job!”
~ Kari Lemor

“At a writing conference a reader came up to me and said “I felt every emotion Regina was going through in CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS and she sounded so real on the page. Like we’d be best friends in life.” That moment made my year. My goal as a writer is to elicit all kinds of emotions with my words and characters and make my heroines be the kind you’d like to have as friends and root for. Goal accomplished with this reader’s words!” ~ Peggy Jaeger

“One of my best compliments came in the form of a rejection. I stopped writing for a few years. When I started submitting my work again, I pitched a romantic suspense to my old editor at Kensington. I wasn't feeling confident and needed familiar territory. The editor didn't offer a contract but left me with a compliment instead. "You write in the style of Iris Johansen. This one just isn't right for us." Just a few words, and the rejection stung, but they were words I needed to hear then, and still keep me going today.” ~ Maddie James

“A couple of career highlights stick out through the years. One was when a reader told me she cried while reading the most difficult scene I ever wrote, one I had sobbed my way through. Another was when the fabulous editor I worked with at Pocket Books told me my work was so clean, she read it and edited it at the same time. No revisions! Music to an author’s ears.” ~ Kathleen Lawless

“Two things stick with me. The first was when a reader reached out to say I was her ‘go to author’ when she needed an escape. She also LOVED my hero and explained that Highland House – the Victorian-era mansion in my Time Traveler’s Journey Series – was her ‘happy place’ and her 'dream'. She would pick up my books whenever she wanted to get away.

"The second happened recently, when a friend commented, ‘You write one hell of a sex scene.’ Quite a complement if you understand how much time and effort goes into writing those challenging pages.”
~ Kathryn Hills

Okay, it's your turn to join the conversation! 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 ~


Visit HERE for contest details OR go directly to our Rafflecopter

May Prizes

1st Prize: $20.00 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Prize: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Best of luck to everyone!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Tossing out the Ritas by Cheryl Bolen

I was outraged this week when I received a communication from an organization I’ve been committed to for three decades, the Romance Writers of America. The new replacement board—after the organization’s entire board resigned at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020—decided to scrap our Rita awards and rename them the Vivian.

Membership was not consulted about this move. 

The Rita has been for more than 30 years the romance writers’ equivalent of the Oscars. It’s even a gold statuette of an elegant lady in a long dress, and the winning books are voted upon by peers. It’s the highest possible honor, imo, that a romance author could ever attain. Like the Oscars, it’s presented at a gala ceremony at the national group’s annual conference with many hundreds of onlookers. Most the honorees coming swishing up to the stage in long formal gowns.
It’s a really big deal.

It’s About White and Black

The original Rita award was named after two of the RWA’s six founders, Rita Clay Estrada and her mother, Rita Gallagher, who both happened to be white.

RWA’s new board thinks the award should have been named after another of the organization’s founders, Vivian Stephens, who is black.

I believe the board’s rationale is that they perceive the Rita contest has discriminated against women of color. No African American had ever received a Rita until 2019, when two different winners were African Americans.

Apparently, this new board wants to completely revamp the award by throwing out everything about it to make it more inclusive to women of color.

The topic of inclusion is not being addressed in this blog.

Erasing History in One Fell Swoop

My gripe is that this board has wiped away the award’s prestige which had been painstakingly built over a period of 30 years. Publishers had come to slap “Rita Winning Author” or “Rita Finalist” on book covers. Publishers and agents alike had come to recognize that authors who had been nominated for Ritas were authors of the highest caliber. And authors, like me, who had never won a Rita have long aspired to one day wear a title like “Rita Winner” or “Rita Nominee” or to walk up on that stage and collect the award in front of our peers.

It had taken a number of years for the industry to recognize the importance of the Ritas, but it had come to be a meaningful award in the romance publishing industry. The award gave credulity to a genre that had gotten a negative reputation for many years.

Think about renaming the Oscars the Hatties after Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar. 

Perhaps because I write historical novels, I’m a huge advocate of history and tradition. I don’t like changing either. I’m angry that this new board has slapped in the face all those talented authors who have earned Ritas during the last three decades.—Cheryl Bolen’s June 1st release is the Christmas novella, One Room at the Inn, which appeared in last year’s USA Today bestselling anthology titled Winter Wishes. This is the first time her novella has been for sale in English as a solo title.

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!

Visit HERE for details OR go directly to our Rafflecopter

May Prizes

1st Prize: $20.00 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

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.

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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

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