Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Lucky in Love, Happily Ever After, and the Last Man by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems

I didn't marry the first man I was in love with. Instead, I married one of his friends--who he introduced me to. To make our beginning even more auspicious, the friend didn't like me. Not even a little bit. Which was okay with me because, you know...I was in love with the other guy. It was fast with him, all heat and adrenalin and being thrilled and scared. Is this it? I'd wonder with my heart thumping. Will I always feel like this? Will HE always feel like this? Will we grow old together?

However, sometimes love stories that flash heat and excitement in the blink of an eye go to hell in a handbasket that fast, too. Such was the case of the guy I loved first and me. And it was messy. My heart was broken. Shattered. I wanted to...well, not die, but I wanted it to be all right again. To feel all that heat and sparkle and anticipation. Grow old together? I didn't even get to be 19! 

His buddy had been drafted into the army and was going to be leaving soon. We'd become friends by that time. Did I want to go out? 

Sure. Why not? Life as I knew it was over anyway.

He left in July. Came home in December for leave before shipping out to Vietnam. We saw each other almost every day. By the time he left, we were in pretty serious like. He proposed and I said No. I was still carrying a torch for the first guy, too. 

There's a lot more to it, but it's not just my story to tell, so I'll stop it there. Except that when he came home 14 months later, I asked him to marry me because I was afraid he wouldn't ask again. 

He said Yes. 

We have nothing in common. Through our married life, we have been at different times labor and management, morning and night, liberal and conservative (that part changed), Protestant and Catholic, country and city, talkative and quiet (and vice versa), writing and music, clumsy and athletic, cat person and no-pets-preferred. I like country roads, he prefers interstates, I could travel once a month forever, he could go forever and never travel again. His favorite color is white. Yes, white. My favorite color is all the others.

But this is where you get to the Gems' theme of the month, the whole "lucky in love" thing. In May, we will have been disagreeing about everything for 50 years. I think it would have been more peaceful if we'd had more in common--you accumulate a lot of emotional scar tissue in a long marriage to someone who's wrong about virtually everything 😄--but it wouldn't have been more fun. We didn't get married because we thought alike; we got married because we loved each other. 

We need a better term for Happily Ever After, don't we? So many of the Ever After days are sad, angry, or dreary. There are door-slammers, suitcase-packers, and don't-talk-to-me periods among the waking hours. There are times of intense loneliness and times you'd sell your soul for just a few days alone.

But I hardly ever think about the first guy I loved, whereas I start and end every day with his friend. We've said "I love you" every day for 50 years. And done our best to show it. (Sometimes "our best" sucks. Just sayin'.) Lucky, yeah, but luck in love needs to be intentional, doesn't it? 

First love was fun. Exciting. That flash of heat. Last love, though--it's just the luckiest thing there is. 





Tuesday, March 30, 2021

One Lucky Girl by M.J. Schiller #RomanceGems

Hi, all! I'm the new kid on the block, your newest, little Romance Gem writer, and I am so glad to be here. I have admired these ladies' work, and the way they support each other, for a long time, and I'm happy I have the opportunity to join the group.





As a brief introduction, my name is M.J. Schiller and I write romance, romantic suspense, and chick lit. I live in the Midwest with my husband and our cat, Serena, and we are blessed to be the proud parents of a twenty-six-year-old and three twenty-four-year-olds. (Yes, they are triplets and no, I don't know how I survived those first months with three premature babies and a two-year-old, but I know it was with a lot of help from God!) My four little birdies have since flown the coop, and at the moment I have one in town with me, one in St. Louis, one in Kansas City, and one in Colorado Springs. I have joked that they've stretched the "Mommy Bubble" of comfort as far as it will go. But I feel I am very lucky that they are all healthy, employed, and with a significant other.


The simple beauty of Ireland.


This is such a great month for me to be here and be able to post about the monthly theme, Lucky in Love, because I have a lot of Irish in me. I offer as evidence that my mother's maiden name was McKee, and her mother's maiden name was Callahan. My grandmother McKee came from a family of eight, seven girls and one boy. (Poor guy!) I believe they all were fairly musically inclined and enjoyed family sing-alongs. My grandmother played multiple instruments including the piano and the banjo. Her father was a postmaster in St. Louis, where I spent my childhood. My Grandfather McKee was a mechanic and boxer in the Navy, a cantankerous sort with a soft heart underneath it all. It was he who fostered my love of Irish music by playing The Irish Rover's "The Unicorn" practically every time we came over. (It's a really cute song and worth looking up. :) ) I can see him now sitting in his chair with a smile on his face and a pipe tucked into the corner of his mouth. I feel lucky to have the heritage that I have.


Enjoying cocktails on the patio of the Ballynahinch Castle.


I have also been fortunate enough to be able to go to Ireland twice. The most recent trip I took with my husband the year our triplets left for college. My son Ryan called it our "victory lap" after successfully getting all of the kids out of the house. It was a very special trip and provided an opportunity to spend the night in a castle and hear an expert on William Butler Yeats read his poetry, while his wife, who was a chef, served us lunch. Their lovely home overlooked Galway Bay, an area often featured in Yeats' work. (While these were some of my favorite moments, my husband, however, most appreciated our tour of the Guinness factory!)





How has all this Irishness affected my writing? I'm so glad you asked. I actually used my grandfather's name in my book DAMAGE DONE which is set in Ireland, and bits of his life story made their way into it as well. I also have an Irish bartender in my chic lit DEVILISH DIVAS SERIES. I loved him so much I had to kill off the heroine in the first book that featured him so I could have fun creating a second romance for him. Even that wasn't enough and Killian's second wife also met her demise! (Some would say he wasn't lucky in love!) But, not to worry, an upcoming book gives him the opportunity to make the third time a charm.




So, to wrap things up, I thought I'd share a bit of Killian with you. That way you can see a little of my writing. This is from the scene when Killian meets the heroine, Bridey (Bridget), in SIN WORTH THE PENANCE.




“Killian?” My Aunt Deidre glanced over from her pour. “Be a love and fetch me a bottle of Jameson’s from the pantry, would ya?” She was a sprite of a woman, in her late fifties, and as sweet as could be. But if her kids got her riled up, she could equally be a terror. I kept on her good side.

“Aye.” I turned to follow instructions.

“And, while you’re at it, a bottle of gin, as well.”

I nodded and crossed the room, noting a table that needed to be bussed along me way. Under the stairs leading to the rooms I rented above was a small stock room. I opened the door and felt along the inside wall for a switch, but could find none. I left the door open instead, thinking the light from the pub would be enough to illuminate a bottle of Jameson’s and some gin. I squinted in the murky interior as I searched the shelf in the back for the familiar green whiskey bottle.

Then, in a sweep, what little light there was disappeared. The door swung shut and I was left in utter blackness. I could feel someone behind me and by the alluring fragrance, a woman. She circled me in her arms and caressed the fronts of me thighs. I froze, completely caught unawares. Then she nibbled on me neck, her tongue gliding along me skin as she went. I’d been a widow for coming up on a year, and with no woman, but me body hadn’t forgotten what need was. Heat quivered through me.

A sultry voice broke the silence. “Guess who?”

I cleared me throat. “I haven’t a clue.”

She swatted my head. “Would you deny me, Murphey?”

My confusion deepened. It wasn’t a case of mistaken identity then. She knew me name. An old flame? I listened more intently, trying to recognize the voice.

She leaned in, her mouth at me ear. “Ya weren’t denying me yesterday in your mother’s bedroom.”

Wait? What? Mother’s bedroom?

She continued to purr. “Or did you just want me to remind ya? Cuz I’ll gladly do that.”

Before I knew it, she’d slipped around in front of me, and lush lips covered mine, pulling me into a dizzying kiss. She put her hands on the sides of me face to guide her and, God help me, I knew I shouldn’t, but I responded. Her lips tasted of sin and sweet strawberries. But if she was a sin, she was a sin worth the penance, for sure.

I knew now that this woman was sorely confused, for I had been in no mother’s bedroom with her, except maybe in me dreams. I should pull away. I should straighten her out on just who she was kissin’. Instead, I weaved me fingers through her silky tresses and hung on for dear life. But when she reached down me pants... I jumped, as did she. We both simultaneously exclaimed, “Oh, me Gawd!” mine a murmur of pleasure, hers a reaction of surprise.

She parted from me and the next thing I knew the door creaked open and light poured in. I spun to both find out who this vixen was, and apologize for not announcing meself more clearly. Blinking in the light, I put a hand up to block it, but all I saw was a head atumble with gorgeous, curly, black as midnight hair and a tight ass in jeans the likes of which I’d never seen before. Feeling weak-kneed I felt behind me and sat on a crate.

What just happened? Me brain had a hard time coming back to its normal senses. Was I kissed by an angel? Or perhaps the heavens are playing tricks on me for some reason?

Too late, I sprang to me feet and stuck me head out the door. And, although it was a wide open room with nowhere to hide, me phantom kisser was naught to be seen.



Blurb for SIN WORTH THE PENANCE: 

Even an entire ocean couldn’t separate Killian Murphey from his grief.

But when shortly after his return to Ireland Killian finds himself in an unexpected liplock, it definitely gives him a distraction from his sorrows. Who is the temptress that mistook him for someone else in the dark of the pantry? And why has that kiss set him ablaze?

 

Bridget O’Flannery is definitely the kind of girl that can leave a man burned.

But is Bridget more than reputation leads people to believe? And when shadows from her past come to claim her, will she be the one who ends up suffering a fiery end? Or will she and Killian be able to smother the flames that haunt her?

 Either way, she is definitely a SIN WORTH THE PENANCE!



To purchase SIN WORTH THE PENANCE:


Amazon: mybook.to/SinWorthThePenance

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sin-worth-the-penance-mj-schiller/1132647298?ean=9781644571231

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sin-worth-the-penance-the-devilish-divas-series-book-6

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/sin-worth-the-penance-the-devilish-divas-series-book-6/id1474289833




Thanks for reading! One lucky commenter will win their choice of any of my e-books. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming months!



What is one of your favorite vacations?

Monday, March 29, 2021

 THE BEST LUCK OF ALL

BY Nora LeDuc

A couple of days ago I wrote a response to a rant on Facebook. When I finished,  I reread my comment, and I bet you can guess what happened. Yes, I'd created a rant. Darn. Why is it so easy to complain? Today, I'm happy to turn my thoughts to the positive side with a March entry for our Lucky in Love Blog.


Thanks Unsplash
 I usually think of myself as a fortunate person. Yes, I have my grumbles like everyone else, but it's good to stow those away for a while. As a kid, my parents used to stroll around our yard. They'd look at how the veggies were growing in the garden, check out the blooming flowers, and peek at the robin's nest searching for the the new hatchlings. Sometimes, I'd tag along on their walk. One day my father turned to me and said "You know you're rich, but not in the money way."

  


To be truthful, his statement seemed strange. Now years later, I appreciate his words. The simple things in life stand out as more important with each passing year. Even now, I'm anticipating the first sighting of the hummingbirds at their feeder outside my patio floor. I'm excited my tulips and daffodils are poking out their heads from the semi-frozen ground, and the red fox sighting two weeks ago made me almost giddy.

And if none of these things cheer me, I can run upstairs to my bookcase and see a row of book written by me. I remember the thrill of holding my first print book, Miss McNeal's Pirate in my hands. At that time, a friend asked me to name my favorite part of becoming published. To me, it was obvious. Printed at the top of every other page was the author's name, Nora LeDuc.


First published book

Yes, how can I not believe I'm well off? Traveling into the world of writers has connected me with so many people I'd never have met. They've encouraged, offered me good advice, and on my rant days, let me be me without lectures. And finally, I daily do something I enjoy. I tell stories about characters who are lucky in love.

Please follow me on AmazonFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, BookBub.

Stay healthy and safe,

❤️Nora


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Mischief Makers by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

I love the boys who make mischief. The ones who try to make you laugh, who smile with a twinkle in their eye. I love it when they look at life as something to be enjoyed instead of endured. 

But best of all, I love it when they treat you like a lady, when they protect you with their broad shoulders and don't ask for anything in return.

Texas boys are often like this. Always ready with a quip, a wink, and a wildflower they picked just for you.

Let me tell you, chivalry is not dead. And even better, it comes with jokes and dimples.

My latest release, DESTINY'S SECRETS, has heroes who make mischief and hold the world on their shoulders. They are brothers, twins, who set out to return long-lost sisters to their rightful place.

The inspiration for Andrew and Ben's personalities came from pretty much all the men I've ever known. I dedicated this book to the ones who were closest to me, who were true to themselves and became gentlemen with kind hearts and strong hands.

And so...an excerpt for you...


“I can hear you thinking,” a deep voice called out.

She gasped and opened her eyes. “Ben?”

He laughed. “Who else?”

Oh, dear. How had he known she couldn’t sleep? “I’m sorry. I’m just having a little trouble.”

“Like last night.”

It wasn’t a question. He’d realized she hadn’t slept then, either? “You’re very observant.”

“That’s why I’m an investigator.”

Of course. She cleared her throat. “But you can’t really hear my thoughts.”

“Are you telling me or asking me?”

She considered his query. “I’m not sure.”

Some shuffling happened on his side, and she imagined he’d rolled over. “I promise I don’t know what’s going through your head.”

How absurd it would be if she truly believed he could read minds, but she definitely saw him as someone who could accomplish just about anything.

“Want me to tell you another story?”

If it didn’t help her sleep, it would certainly distract her. “I’d appreciate it, thank you.”

“All right.” The wind blew, then his voice rose above the lonely sound. “Andrew and I spent some time in boarding school.”

The revelation made her frown, but before she could ask about it, he continued.

“Our housemaster was hard of hearing. Not sure why they employed him to watch over twenty-five fourteen-year-olds at night, but it made it easy when we wanted to sneak out. And one night we decided it would be fun to create a scavenger hunt for our classmates.”

She anticipated the outcome and smiled at the darkness.

“We got into the classroom without a problem, I’d learned how to pick locks by then, and we moved our supplies, like our books and slates, and left clues on how to find them.

“The next morning, no one noticed right off, and we were a little disappointed. But when Mr. Pederson tried to give us a lesson in mathematics and he realized the shelf was empty, he turned beet red. The other fellows snickered.”

“The poor man,” Charlotte interjected. “How could y’all torment him so?”

“You forget we left hints on how to get everything back,” he reminded her.

“And did that make him feel better?”

“I’m not sure, but we had fun helping him search.”

She sucked air through her teeth. “You hid them.”

“But we were real good at pretending we didn’t know where they were, and we spent the rest of the day picking apart Andrew’s clues.”

Ben and his twin must have given their mother all kinds of fits. She couldn’t imagine having to discipline mischief-makers like them. “Y’all were little imps. And you know, just like you could hear me thinking, I can feel you grinning.”


DESTINY'S SECRETS

Andrew and Ben Lonnigan, brothers and private investigators, have accepted an important case—to reunite the long-lost DuBois daughters with their rightful inheritance. Abducted from their childhood home in New Orleans when they were three and two-years-old, Jo and Charlotte were adopted by separate families.

Andrew heads north to find Josephine Tatum—a pants-wearing, spitfire veterinarian who challenges his mind and captures his heart. Ben travels south to find Charlotte Ryan—the financial mind behind her father’s ranch, with a sweet disposition and, unfortunately, a fiancĂ©.

As the sisters journey toward destiny, Charlotte must guard her heart against Ben, a man too daring to ever return her love. And Andrew must hide his feelings from Jo, a woman determined to carve her own path. While the foursome battle feelings, they must also war with a villain from the sisters’ past, one with the will and the means to destroy everything the DuBois daughters hold dear.


BUY DESTINY'S SECRETS


Take a bit of Little House on the Prairie, a dash of Anne of Green Gables, add a touch of romance, and you've got the TEXAS BRIDES OF PIKE'S RUN series!

And as a special offer to celebrate Spring, WELCOME HOME, book 1 in the series is on sale for $0.99! I hope y'all enjoy it!



Website ~ Amazon ~ B & N ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Newsletter


Saturday, March 27, 2021

A little bit of Ireland to ensure you're Lucky in Love by Peggy Jaeger

March is one of my favorite months because of March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. So the theme, LUCKY IN LOVE, for this month’s blog is appropriate in so many ways. 

 As a tidbit of backstory, I am 100% Irish American and wicked proud of that fact. My mother and father were both first-generation Irish Americans, so I grew up in a household where most of the people over the age of 40 spoke with brogues, which is where I learned to write the vernacular dialogue so well. 

In my series A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, 93-year-old Nanny Fee (Fiona) still speaks with a thick brogue even though she came to America at the age of 16 ( the same age my grandmother arrived on these shores.)The auditory memories I have of my grandmother telling a story are vivid and I used her cadence, tone, and slang for Nanny Fee.

I think I did a good job, too, evidenced by how many readers have told me when she is “speaking” on the page, they “hear” her in their heads and she sounds like a leprechaun! 



So, since we’re speaking of Luck this month, know that the Irish are a very superstitious lot and good luck, or good fortune, means a great deal to them. For instance, if a knife falls on the floor, it’s said a gentleman caller is coming. Finding a coin is considered good luck, but if you leave it about, bad luck will come to your door. Don’t ever put your shoes on the table or else bad fortune will meet you at every turn. If your left palm is itchy, you’re coming into some cash. The right, though, means you’re giving some away. 

 The Irish have full-proof ways of ensuring you are LUCKY IN LOVE (and marriage), and St. Patrick’s Day is considered by most to be the best day of the year to get married. I love this old Irish wedding poem which details the months a couple should marry to gain good fortune: 

 Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind and true 
When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate. 
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know. 
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man. 
Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day. 
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you’ll go. 
They who in July do wed, must labour always for their bread. 
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see. 
Marry in September’s shine, your living will be rich and fine. I
f in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry. 
If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember. 
When December’s showers fall fast, marry and true love will last.

 A few more wedding superstitions to ensure the happy couple is lucky in love include:
 1. The bride’s veil should be placed on her head by a happily married woman, and not a single maid. This allows good luck to pass from the matron to the bride. 
2. In the church, guests are given small bells to ring once the couple is legally married – this wards off evil spirits that could damage their union. 
3. The bride should wear a small horseshoe sewn into her gown, pointed upward so the luck will never run out 
4. The first person to greet the married couple at the church door once the vows have been said should be a man and not a woman ( this one boggles my mind, but they are superstitions for a reason.)
 5. During the first dance the bride’s feet should always remain on the floor – the groom is not to lift her off the ground, or else the fairies would come and steal her. 

 Like I said, they are superstitions for a reason, but the end result is that you want the couple to be lucky in love and life. 

 Here’s a little tidbit from my current Match Made in Heaven book, BAKED WITH LOVE, featuring Nanny Fee: 



 When the cake was finally served and I’d received a number of compliments on its design and taste, Nanny dinged her champagne glass and called for everyone’s attention. With all eyes on her, she smiled at Mac and Cathy. 

 “There now, seeing as I’m the family matriarch, it’s me duty to propose a toast to these two lovelies. But before I do, I’d like to say a few words.” 

 Lucas leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Any chance it really will be just a few words?” I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from laughing out loud. Nanny slanted the both of us a look, and I felt exactly the way I had when I’d been a student in her Communion class and she’d caught me talking out of turn. 

After giving us both a blistering, periwinkle stink eye, she turned back to the newlyweds. 

 “From the moment I met ya, Mac, I knew you were the man for me darlin’ Cathleen Anne. I knew down to me soul you were the one who could bring the happiness back into her eyes and the joy back into her heart. And ya have. I’ll always love ya for it.” 

 Mac smiled at her and then took Cathy’s hand. 

 “Cathleen Anne, me darlin’ girl. You’re me oldest granddaughter. From the moment your da put ya in me arms, I’ve loved ya. It didn’t hurt that ya were me own spitting image.” 

 Scattered laughter filled the room. Cathleen’s grin dipped down on one side, and she rolled her eyes good-naturedly. 

 “I’ve watched ya grow from an inquisitive, smart, responsible wee lass into an independent, beautiful woman who’s a force to be reckoned with inside a courtroom and out. Blessed, ya are, with beauty, brains, and a soul made for lovin’. And now with a man who loves ya as much as me and your sisters do, you have everything I’ve always dreamed of for ya, darlin’ girl, and I couldn’t be happier.” 

 Tears pooled in Cathy’s eyes. She laid her head down on Mac’s shoulder as he brought her hand to his lips. 

 “Well now, before ya all complain I’m getting too long in the tooth here”—she glared at Lucas and pursed her lips, to which he lifted his glass and saluted her— “stand and raise your glasses.” 

 When everyone in the room stood, champagne flutes held high, Nanny told Mac and Cathy, “This is an old toast I learned when I was a young lass back in Ireland. ‘May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.’ Congratulations, me darlin’s. May love and happiness follow you all your days.” 

 While everyone cheered and echoed Nanny’s words, Cathy and Mac rose and hugged her.

I'm so happy I could include that toast in the book because it was just perfect for Nanny Fee to give.
So, as the month comes to a close, I hope, pray, and wish you all have Luck in Love ( and life!)

Looking for me? Here I am:

and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter here : Newsletter


Until next month, lovely readers! ~ Peg


Friday, March 26, 2021

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: Tell me something new about you or your writing career.

Spring is often all about new beginnings, fresh starts, and sometimes even starting over. It’s hopefully a time of rebirth and renewed hope. So, tell me…Is there something new about you or your writing career this spring? Are you starting a new project, learning another skill, changing your lifestyle, or perhaps checking off something on your bucket list? Maybe you’re delving into a new genre or finally writing that book of your heart? Let’s talk! 

“Something that's new in my writing career in the last year is branching out into indie publishing. I started four years ago with several publishers and learned so much from the experience. But lately, I'm enjoying having the creative freedom for my books and being able to provide readers with better covers, stories, and prices. I don't like the marketing and promotion that goes along with this, but even the big publishers want you to do that these days. It’s nice having the control to do what I feel is best for my books.” ~ Kari Lemor

“My "new thing" happened in December, when I published a compilation of columns and blog in WINDOW OVER THE SINK. The nice thing about the new adventure is that it's given me a push to seek out another one. I've proposed a series to an imprint I've never explored before. I'm not sure either venture will prove to be successful, but they are both forward motion. And fun. That's the good part!” ~ Liz Flaherty

“I'm trying to exercise three times a week. I'm doing cardio, which, in this regiment means some jumping rope. And let me tell you, after 30 seconds of that, I'm pretty sure I'm dying.” ~ Kara O'Neal

“There’s always something new with this career! When I’m writing historicals, I can take a break and focus on contemporary for a change. I’ve written several Mail Order Brides, now I’m deviating slightly with a Proxy Bride - A Bride for Shane releases in May. Just when the writing life feels like too much of a vacuum, I get invited into a box set with other authors who generously share their expertise and talents as we combine resources. Some days I amaze even myself with what I’ve learned lately. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.” ~ Kathleen Lawless 

“While it’s not my first rodeo as a Women’s Fiction Writer, it’s been a while since I wrote for the mainstream. To my delight, a major publisher is interested in the work (of course I haven’t finished the story…never do). The editor’s letter was one of the most positive I’ve received in my almost 25 year career. She provided detailed comments for all 5 books in the series and now I am typing away to get the full manuscript to her. Her words.. “I devoured the paragraphs you submitted.” It will be nice to be back in the traditional market.” ~ Marcia King-Gamble 

“This month, for the first time, I've started putting my indie published books in multiple digital outlets, where before they were only available on Amazon. How to do this was a huge learning curve for me and I tore out many gray hairs before I understood what to do. Thank goodness for You tube! I plan on releasing the rest of my indie books, one at a time, during this year and then anything new thereafter will go wide immediately - hey, practice makes perfect, right??” ~ Peggy Jaeger

"It’s spring, so time for new beginnings right? I started swimming lessons in August. I’ve know how to swim since I was a child, but another of the swim team moms (our kids swim competitively) didn’t know how and was embarrassed to go it alone. I joined her and now I’m looking at my very first swim meet over spring break! Wish me luck!! ~ Laura Hunsaker

“This spring I'm releasing the Crescent Lake Winery series, and I wrote two new novels for Dickens AND Last Chance Beach. In addition, I've decided to visit an old friend, Melinda Phillips, our heroine from The Matchmaker and The Marine. There will be at least three new seasoned romance books. Just thinking of Mel puttering in her garden and wandering in mine helped me develop 3 new storylines. Stay tuned for details in 2022. Finally, I have a paranormal women’s fiction trilogy planned, three cousins inherit magic when they’re over 40. Who says a new, older witch can’t learn new spells?” ~ Lucinda Race

“Aside from writing my first historical romance, I’m joining the ranks of other so called hybrid authors. Those that are traditionally published as well as self-published. I’m also headed back to the sun and fun of Last Chance Beach and the charming small-town ambiance of Dickens. Plus, I’ll share a new project later this summer.” ~ Kathryn Hills

“I’ve written for several publishing houses and had nice success indie publishing, but this spring I’m working on a new series for a new publisher. It’s so flattering when a publisher comes to you and asks you to write for them. My new series, The Beresford Adventures, will be for the number-one selling historical romance publisher, Dragonblade. Their authors have been holding down the top spots on Amazon charts, and I hope to reap some of their success for my new Regency romantic adventures. Lady Mary’s Dangerous Encounter will be an August release.” ~ Cheryl Bolen

***

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 ~

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Success of First Books by Cheryl Bolen

This month marked 23 years since my first book, A Duke Deceived, showed up on store shelves. Even though it was not a major event in the publishing world, having been published by Harlequin Historical without a huge promotion campaign, the book did very well.

It won one major award, was a finalist for another, and got stellar reviews. Moreover, it sold well—about 70,000 copies that first year and was translated into French, Italian, Japanese, and a few other languages I’ve since forgotten. I’m getting close to 50 published books in now, and I’ve had other books that weren’t as well received as that first one.

There’s a reason for that. According to Dr. Jennifer Barnes, a professor of the psychology of popular fiction at the University of Oklahoma, many authors throw into that first published book all the tropes and qualities they like. She calls it writing to the ID. Yep, that’s exactly what I did in that debut novel. 


Marriage of convenience. Yep. Tortured hero. Yep. Satisfying secondary romance. Yep, times two. Barnes said for a lot of authors there’s a fall-off after that first book because authors want to do something different in the next book. I get this. The idea of all my books being the same horrifies me, so I strive for new plots and characters. This makes me happy but may not be the best thing for commercial success. 

There’s a hugely successful author of contemporary romances about Navy SEALS. I don’t read those kinds of books, but my friends who do say every one of this author’s books is the same, except for character names and slight variations in the plots. I couldn’t do that, but this author is still routinely topping the bestseller lists. Barnes says writing the same old, same old really does give readers what they want.

I understand this to a certain extent. I will want to repeat the experience of reading a book that I enjoyed on several levels. This makes me buy more books from the same author or book similar to that author’s.

Then I get tired of the same old, same old. During these past 23 years my writing style has evolved. As appealing as tortured heroes are, I don’t do those anymore. My writing has lightened up. And I do make a conscious decision to give my readers those lighter books they’ve come to expect for me. Time after time.

—Cheryl Bolen’s last releases were the back-to-back Once Upon a Time in Bath and A Proposal of Marriage. Her next release, Lady Mary’s Dangerous Encounter, will be released in August.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

From Guns to Garters – It’s All in A Day’s Work by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems


This past winter brought writing challenges for me, as I delved into a sub-genre of romance. Sure, I’d dipped a toe into the historical romance pool by penning a time travel series. My characters there are split between two periods – present day and the late 1800’s. However, my latest book is 100% set in 1837 America. A fascinating time, fraught with great expansion and unrest. A year that marked the beginning of the Victorian Era, since the young queen was crowned in Britain that June. Writing for the time was exciting for me, and it led to oodles of new research. 

Beginning with Chapter One, I needed to learn about things like sailing ships, trans-Atlantic crossings, educating women, inheritance laws, and the great Panic of 1837. (It sparked a major depression, lasting until the mid-1840’s) Customs, clothing, hair styles, common foods, music, dancing, and popular books came next. Everything from Christmas celebrations (or the lack thereof in much of the northeast) to what one might consider a law enforcement person of the times. Fun fact…America was pretty sketchy back then, with local authority figures deciding much of what constituted crime and punishment. And opinions varied from city to city and region to region. Large cities became known as beds of vice and wickedness. Never fear, I was merely exploring a haunted mansion set in a remote seacoast area of New England. 😊 

But the most challenging thing I discovered about writing a historical romance was the language. Adapting it to modern readers while still sticking somewhat to the spirit of the time. Words and phrases… Idioms! I stumbled to find alternatives to my go-to language. Things like… “Music to my ears” or “Put your back into it.” One yes, one no can use. How about “The end of the line?" Nope, still too early for that one. Could I call someone a “spoil sport?” Turns out I could! The first use of the term appears to come in 1801, according to Wordsmith.org. I also dug deep into my "English Through the Ages" book by William Brohaugh and the "Oxford Dictionary of Slang" compiled by John Ayto. 

It’s impossible to write as they spoke back then. I wouldn’t want to anyway, and we’re not even talking way back! But I did want to capture the essence of my historical characters. It made me wonder…since we have so many historical romance authors here on Romance Gems…How do they strike a good balance between current romance readers and sticking to the history? And what do you, their readers, prefer? Do you enjoy all the sprinkling in of past things, such as old words, phrases, clothing details, and possibly even pockmarks, or bad teeth? Maybe you have an author who truly got that balance right? Please share, I’d LOVE to hear from you! 

Be sure to keep an eye out for an announcement coming soon about this latest book. Psst…I’ll share right here on Romance Gems when I can. 

Thanks for reading! 

~ Kathryn




Sunday, March 21, 2021

Fun Research Finds & a New Book! by Nancy Fraser


One of the most interesting aspects of writing a book in a timeframe other than current, is the opportunity to do research. Some authors--admittedly--hate research. Not me. I love it.

Last Tuesday, I released the third book in my Love's a Gamble series. Set in the post-Civil War era, it was a joy to delve into all sorts of research. One of the things that always pleases me is finding the speech patterns, and favorite sayings, of the era.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites--some of which made it in to at least one of the three books. A few made it in to all of them.

Acknowledge the Corn - To confess the truth

Airin’ the Lungs - To use profanity; cursing

Bag of Nails - Chaos; confusion

Bee In Your Bonnet - A idea (good or bad)

Calamity Jane - Reference to the Queen of Spades card

Cockamamie - Nonsensical, crazy

Crawl His Hump - To pick a fight

Coffee Boiler - A lazy person

Eatin’ Irons - Flatware; eating utensils

Galoot - A strong, soft-hearted man

Give The Mitten - When a woman rejects a man

Hair In The Butter - To be stuck in a tricky situation

Mollycoddle - To coddle, spoil 

Nailed To The Counter - When you catch someone in a lie

Plug - A worn-out horse 

Pull - A draw on a pipe, cigarette, etc

Roostered - To be or to get drunk

Salty - Risqué, bawdy

Scadoodle - Heap, large amount

Shebang - A set of facts or things

Skeedaddle - Leave, go way quickly

Taradiddles - Lies, myths, or tall tales

Will Die Standin’ Up - To be or act brave

~ ~ ~

The Engagement Gamble ~ Love's a Gamble, Book 3


Marshal Zack McAlister has made it his mission to protect the good citizens of Greenville, MS. In particular, one very opinionated and independent lady doctor. The only hinderance to his professional obligations are the dozen or so single women vying for his attention.

Suzanne Martindale, M.D., has quickly become a fixture in Greenville since taking over for her semi-retired predecessor. And, like Marshal McAlister, she’s been inundated with unwanted suitors.

When Zack proposes a fake engagement, Suzanne is reluctant at first and claims in order for anyone to believe they’re actually courting and in love, there has to be chemistry between them.

Zack sets out to prove they can easily fool the people of Greenville into believing their ruse. Will his smooth Cajun charm and steamy-hot kisses do the trick? Or, are they destined to be victims of their own charade?

When outside forces threaten the entire McAlister clan, can Zack keep his family, and his faux fiancé, safe? And, will a life-threatening accident show them anything, even love, is possible if you have trust?

~ ~ ~

And, of course, there's a Trailer:


And, a Jigsaw Puzzle:

preview35piece3 TEG Final

Until my regular day next month, stay safe, stay health, stay happy, and stay well read!

Nancy

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Saturday, March 20, 2021

HERE'S A LUCKY SALE FOR YOU!

by Caroline Clemmons

Our theme this month is Lucky in Love. Anyone who is in love with a person who loves him or her in return is indeed lucky. That means I’m included. My Hero and I have been married since dinosaurs roamed the earth—almost. Today, I want to share the love with a special on one of my books.



 

Through midnight March 22,

THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE

is on sale for 99 cents!

https://www.amzn.com/B008V1UG54

 


Cenora Rose O’Neill knows her father somehow arranged the trap for Dallas, but she agrees to wed the handsome stranger. She’d do anything to protect her family, and she wants to save herself from the Irish Traveler bully, Tom Williams. A fine settled man like Dallas will rid himself of her soon enough, but at least she and her family will be safely away from Tom.   

Texas rancher Dallas McClintock has no plans to wed for several years. Right now, he’s trying to establish himself as a successful horse breeder. Severely wounded rescuing Cenora from kidnappers, Dallas is taken to her family’s wagon to be tended.  He is trapped into marrying Cenora, but he is not a man who goes back on his word. His wife has a silly superstition for everything, but passion-filled nights with her make up for everything—even when her wild, eccentric family drives him crazy.

 


Warning: Lately all my books have been sweet. This one has sex, but it’s between a husband and wife.

Her rose scent filled him, and he thought he would never tire of it. She fumbled with his shirt buttons then pushed it from his shoulders.

“Yours is a very broad chest.”

Her fingers skimmed across him, and his need for her magnified. When she traced the whorls of his nipple, he thought his knees might give way. He stilled her hand.

“There’s something I want from you, have wanted since we met.”

Fear sprang into her widened emerald eyes and she paled. Dang, he cursed himself for frightening her and her for not trusting him.

Her voice trembled. “Wh—What would you be asking?”

“Dance for me.” He knew it sounded crazy, but he’d imagined this for days.

She looked askance. “Here? But ‘tis your bedroom, and not a note ‘o music playing.”

“This is our bedroom, and you can sing or hear the music in your head to keep time.”

“But—”

“Please? Not for coins or where others can see, but only for me.”

A slow smile spread across her face, and she cocked her head to one side. “Aye, I see now. If ‘tis for your pleasure, then ‘twill be mine.”

After she took off her shoes and stockings, she spun away. But not in the regimented dance he’d seen when other women accompanied her. This time she took the red scarf from her waist and used it as an instrument meant to entice a man.

Her man.

Him.

She twirled as if to a measured rhythm only she heard. Her green skirt and white petticoats billowed out to reveal long, perfect legs. Legs he wanted around him. She slid the scarf in imitation of a caress along her slender arms. Then she moved the red silk along her body.

Dang, he was hot as a gunslinger’s pistol and just as hard. His manhood strained against his britches until he thought he’d pop through the fabric. He loosened the buttons and stepped from his clothes, never taking his gaze from her. Reaching behind him, he turned back the bedding and sat on the sheet.

Before his heat warmed the cool fabric, she pulled him to the middle of the room and circled around him. He pivoted, naked as a newborn, and watched her every move. Dipping, fluttering, and arching her lithe frame, she lured him with each sinuous flow of her body.

Flush with the throbbing pulsating through him, he pictured himself plunging into her again and again as she wound around him. Her erotic gyrations set his already heated blood at a boil, but he stood mesmerized by her and the dance.

Her flaming hair streamed around her in a fiery cloud. She looped the scarf over his head, and the red silk left a tingling trail across his shoulders and down his right arm. Then she threaded it around her own shoulders and sawed it while she shrugged first one shoulder up and then the other one. Fabric of her blouse pulled taut against her full breasts and pushed the peaked nipples into view.

Dang, he couldn’t take much more of this, or he’d explode like fireworks on the Fourth of July. On and on she whirled and kicked, first coming near to brush against him, then moving back with a captivating smile. Teasing him with the piece of silk as she pulled it across his body, she seared him with her touch and made him part of her beguiling ritual.

When he could stand it no longer, he said, “Come here, let’s dance together in bed.” To his ears, his voice rasped hoarse with the need that burned inside him.

She approached slowly, seductively, with fluid grace. As she moved, she drew off her remaining clothes. Twining the scarf around his wrists, she pulled his arms high until she slid under them, imprisoning him and herself in their circle.

“Now we are truly bound together,” she said, her voice breathy from her exotic dance.

“Am I your prisoner, then?” he asked, amused at her tempting play even as her touch fueled his need.

“Yes, and I am yours.” She met his gaze, but her jewel eyes held uncertainty. “Did I please you then, or was I too forward with meself?”

“You are beautiful and graceful, and your dance was even more special than I’d hoped.”

She breathed a big sigh. “Then you approve and will be taking me to bed now?”

“I suppose I must do as you say, since I’m your prisoner.” He nibbled at her neck, and she released the scarf binding him. The silk fell from his skin as her arms slid around his shoulders.

 


If you haven’t read this book, I hope you’ll take advantage of the sale. I admit I love THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Of course I love Cenora and Dallas, but I also love the O’Neill family—even grumbly Mac.

Have a great month! 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Savoring Serendipity by @karilemor #RomanceGems

 For many years, I loved going to writer conferences and reader events, looking to make connections with others book lovers like me. Obviously, that has been stalled for the past year. But this weekend, I have the chance to get back in the saddle, so to speak.

In the colder months, I live in the beautiful town of St. Augustine in Florida. My husband and I fell in love with the place a few years ago during a six-month RV trip down the east coast. And right here in my glorious town is the Book Obsessed Babes Author Signing Event on March 19 and 20. I don’t even have to get a hotel room as a few of the events are right in downtown. Walkable from where I live.

There’re a few fun social events, and I’ve already got my mask so people will know who I am.

 


 The book signing is much of the day on Saturday, and I’m so excited to meet new readers who love romance as much as I do. I’ll also get to meet other authors of this fabulous genre. These new authors make me think back to all the fabulous people I have met over the years who have helped me on my journey.

Many years ago, before I was anywhere near publishing my books, I was on a forum for romance writers set up by Harlequin. Here I met some of my closest writer friends. My critique partner, MA Grant, was found on this site. It’s interesting because she writes paranormal and fantasy and often m/m while I write contemporary and suspense and write m/f. Yet, even though I don’t normally read her subgenre, I LOVE everything she’s written (because she’s the most excellent writer ever). We complement each other when we critique each other’s early drafts. We each have strengths and weaknesses and help the other with them.

Two other friends I found online are Kris (Kickstand) and Emily (Firedew). These ladies started as fan fiction writers like me. I had written over a million and a half words of fanfiction before moving onto original work. (I wrote under the names kariesue and darker works under karasel) Kris is a voracious reader of many genres and is essential in letting me know when I need to add something to a book or when characters need tweaking. Emily has been promoted to my editor and is so amazing in suggesting new words or changing the order of sentences and paragraphs to make them flow better. And she adds in all the commas that I forget (probably millions!)



I have another small group of ladies we call The Fab Four. We roomed together at one of the RWA conferences and have remained friends, supporting each other. Each week, MA Grant, Carrie Nichols, Brynn Kelly, and I provide motivation and assistance in whatever we need. It’s so great having these women be available for support and suggestions.



For the past two years, I’ve had another group who all support each other. This is the fabulous Romance Gems and this blog. A few of the Gems are good friends and writers from local events (Peggy Jaeger, Kathy Hills, and Nora LeDuc!!) I get to see these women in person when there are reader and writer events set in New England. I love touching base with them and hope to do so again soon (Fall in Love New England, here we come!!).   And so many other non-Gems that I've connected with!! 





The rest of the Gems have become good friends and part of my stalwart support system. I’m very excited to be a part of a new ‘world’ being created by them. The Last Chance Beach World. The first book releases in May and I will be book 5 coming out early November. Stay tuned to this blog because I’m sure there’ll be lots of information in the next few months about this new endeavor.

I believe all these people have been brought into my life for a reason. Serendipity. They have been essential in getting me to where I am today with the books I currently have published. Take a peek at my website and other social media to find out about my small-town contemporary series, The Storms of New England.  As well as my romantic suspense lite series, Love on the Line.

Until I ‘see’ you again,

Happy Reading!

 

Kari

 


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