27 October, 2015

ARC Review: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

ARC Review: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

26 October, 2015

Naughty and Nice Book Blog: Release Day Launch - Drawn through You by Sarina R...

Naughty and Nice Book Blog: Release Day Launch - Drawn through You by Sarina R...: Drawn Through You Synopsis: What if the brooding billionaire wore pencil skirts and Louboutins? What if the impressionable i...

The Romance Cover: Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway ~ The Fall U...

The Romance Cover: Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway ~ The Fall U...: Book Description: I wanted to jump. He made me fall.  As a celebrity, I lived in the public eye, but somewhere along the way, I’d ...

22 October, 2015

A Writer's Soundtrack

There are a lot of neat, new ways to get your message across today, but I'm not talking social media.

When I was younger, one dream job was to read/record novels (which would have been exclusively for the blind at that time).

Today, anyone can listen to their favorite stories via LibriVox or some other website, but there are other places where you can read your own work or have someone else do it and offer it alongside your print version.

This is too cool and something I'm seriously considering with my two novels.

There are also a few websites that let you insert music in your eBook - but, they are domain sounds and not likely to be anything you really want added to help convey a mood or enhance a crucial scene.

Most of us just create play lists and listen to them while we're writing.

I have four media players on my laptop, but the one that is easiest -- Windows Media Player -- is also the one that is loaded with the most play lists. Some of the play lists have duplicate mp3 files in them because there's just no way I can NOT listen to that particular tune regardless of my mood or the story line.

I also listen to SomaFM's Groove Salad, Pandora (more play lists), and Classic FM 100.9 from London.

Now, some writers insist that they cannot write while listening to anything, with the guarded exception of white noise, like a fan or the hum of their furnace or refrigerator.

I can't write (or sleep or concentrate) with dead air OR white noise.

Music also helps to drown out unwanted noises like screaming kids, barking, traffic, sirens, and the neighbors rattling, grinding air conditioner (they FINALLY shut it off).

There are limitations, though.

Music with lyrics is out of the question when I'm writing because it is impossible to concentrate on two things at the same time -- never could multi-task and ain't ashamed to admit it.

Lyrics, though, are great for inspiration, so when I have a long drive on the agenda, the radio sometimes helps (country music), but most often I'll plug in my mp3 player or get the CDs and cassettes out and play those.

Yep, I still have both along with the machines that take them. My next step is to buy speakers for my still-working turntable.

What is difficult, I think, is coming up with specific tunes that are in direct relation to the story.

That probably sounds weird since I just got through saying I can't write without music, but picking out specific tunes to meet specific occasions in a scene in one of my novels seems daunting, if not impossible to contrive.

Lastly, there are the YouTube videos that folks are making to help sell their novels.

Kick ass concept!

Definitely going to give that one a shot as I used to spend a lot of time creating videos of the music I like but couldn't find on YouTube.

It's another tricky bit of business, though, wanting to add your music but likely being stopped at the gate for Copyright reasons.

Personally, I never understood the big deal since it was (and still is, maybe) a terrific way for these musicians to get their work out there. I always added buy links to my videos, and I probably helped to generate sales for them, but . . . whatever.

If you breeze through their legal stock of background music, you're likely to come up with something pretty darn close to what it is you actually had in mind.

So, below are ten of the songs I have on my Writing Music play list, which actually consists of close to 175 songs in all, but these will give you an idea of my taste, my preferences, and my mood when I'm working on a novel.

There is a Writing Music tab above that will include just about every song on the play list, and you're welcome to browse around and give them a listen at your leisure.


21 October, 2015

Story #3: Cast of Characters

Part 2 in my attempt to PLOT the next novel

A contemporary romance in 4 parts

Rough outline of the cast members, what (or who) they resemble, their personalities, and the reasons why they are ready to fall in love.

cafe owner

Status: Oldest brother (and his romantic interest)
Occupation: Renovator/Architect
Strengths: Reliable, Fair-minded, Rational, Practical, Quiet/Reserved
Weaknesses: worrier, too responsible, critical, conservative, unable to delegate
Stature: 6'2", 185lb, wavy chocolate hair, mesmerizing hazel eyes, fair skin, sexy voice
Age: 33
DOB: September 9, Virgo

This will probably be the last story in the series since Iliya (pronounced ill'-ee-ya) is a key figure in all three stories as the head of the family.

Right now, I've got him pegged as a loner type with a lot of pent-up aggression on account of his perception of the cards life has dealt him. Not sure, yet, what his aspirations or goals were prior to that life getting in the way, but it begins with the death of his well-off parents, which forces him to have to make the unfavorable decision of moving from Europe to America, where they will live with an uncle until he graduates high school.

The uncle dies in a ship wreck on one of the Great Lakes, leaving Iliya with another hard choice to make: forgo college so that the insurance and inheritance money will help send the others to college instead of him.

The money turns out to be substantial, but Iliya still feels responsible for his siblings; especially his youngest sister and the second oldest brother, Inigo, who is causing problems in and out of school, making Iliya think Inigo will end up on drugs, in jail, or worse. He sticks around the house to keep an eye on things and works to help renovate homes while the siblings are in school.

None of his fears pan out, though, and Iliya eventually realizes he's wasted his efforts and life on the wrong issues.

He's proud, headstrong, and reserved, and with eyes that seem capable of peering into your soul. When he smiles, it lights up his face and any room he's standing in at the time. Rakish sex appeal, a nice face, great head of hair, and a fit body add to his natural charm. He also possesses a smooth, deep voice that commands attention and makes the women smile.

Without giving too much away, when his story is told, it will be about his being on the verge of a nervous breakdown after seeing how well his siblings turned out and that everything he'd worried and agonized over through the years was for naught.

Once a week he goes to a small diner in another town, mainly to get away from life and try to unwind, but mostly because the food served makes him feel like a kid again; back in the old country with his parents seated around a large, ornately shining dining table listening to his parents and feeling good about life.

He never orders the meals - the cook just seems to know what will hit the spot - and eventually, Iliya makes it a point of meeting the cook so that he can thank her for helping him to get over his past and make him feel strong again.

She's older than him by a few years, and while she's happy about his recovery, she's not interested in getting involved with him or any man. She's beautiful and intelligent, and Iliya can't understand why she is working in a diner. It will take time and effort on his part to find out the answer to that question and the dozens more that he keeps thinking up as their relationship starts to unfold.


Concert Flutist

Status: 2nd brother (and his romantic interest)
Occupation: former Rugby player
Strengths: Adventurous, Energetic, Courageous, Confident, Enthusiastic, Dynamic, Quick Wit
Weaknesses: Selfish, Quick-tempered, Impulsive, Impatient, Foolhardy, Daredevil
Stature: 6'3", 190lb, wavy light brown hair, soft, honey eyes, fair skin, sexy voice
Age: 31
DOB: April. 7, Aries

Will likely be the first story told.

Inigo is the loose cannon; the guy who acts up and displays aggressive tendencies not only as a way to cope with his inner fears but also to get a deliberate rise out of his oldest brother and sometimes to make his youngest sister cry or complain.

Outwardly, he's fun-loving, easy-going, and adventurous - the life of the party - and that along with his great looks helps win him friends and dates with ease.

He's good in school and a natural at sports, but a lot of the trouble he seems to cause stems from his coming to the rescue of someone with less bravado or guts, though he never explains things to Iliya in a way that would have Inigo come out on top.

Inigo resents the fact that Iliya took on so much responsibility without asking for any help, and the fact that his parents died before he was able to do something that would make them proud weighs heavy on his conscience.

Part of that resentment toward Iliya shows itself when Inigo refuses to attend college and buys a motorcycle instead, taking off the day after his high school graduation to roam America for about a year. Within that time, he tries out for a rugby team and makes the cut. He plays for a Canadian team and travels the globe doing what he really enjoys and never really knows just how proud his oldest brother is with the accomplishment.

After five years, numerous injuries and a final ankle break, Inigo is forced to retire. He's made tons of money, been in the spotlight for years, and had the time of his life with a lot of famous or beautiful women. He returns to the family and decides to push his way back in by confronting Iliya and annoying him by taking his time deciding what he'll do with the rest of his life.

He meets a beautiful woman who is a concert flutist but also a good friend of his little sister when he's asked to pick the woman up at the airport.

She is nothing like Inigo and everything like him. They're both headstrong and determined, they both love a good time, and they both harbor resentment about the past, but they are different in taste, social circles, and attitude.

They'll compliment one another nicely, but it won't be easy for either of them to get cozy right away.

Pole Dancer

Status: 3rd brother (and his romantic interest)
Occupation: Professor/Scientist
Strengths: Practical, Prudent, Ambitious, Disciplined, Careful, Reserved
Weaknesses: Patronizing, bossy, interfering, intolerant, dogmatic
Stature: 6'2", 180lb, wavy chocolate hair, serious, hazel eyes, fair skin, sexy voice
Age: 29
DOB: Jan 8, Capricorn

The second story will be about the youngest brother, Isaac, and his seemingly pulled-together life. He's got it all and he's worked hard to obtain it. He hasn't, exactly, gone out of his way to prove himself to anyone, and he jumped at the chance to use Inigo's college tuition to get into a good school and continue to study, which is what he's always liked and wanted to do.

He would argue that Iliya forced him to participate in sports, but in truth, Isaac was just as athletic as his older brothers and excelled at both sports and studies.

He and his little sister are always at odds, and while it seemed as if Isaac never could tolerate her and her female ways, the truth turns out to be that he simply worried that she would end up going nowhere and doing nothing if she continued to place emphasis on her looks and her wardrobe instead of what he deemed more important things like school.

Isaac gave the impression of being a snob and ended up in a small circle of like-minded, nerdy friends, and when he entered college, he had little time to socialize while striving to obtain his goal of a pH.d in science.

When he meets another of his little sister's friends, he's instantly knocked on his ass but refuses to let on that he's even remotely interested. The more he learns about the brunette bombshell with a stunning body and face, the more he figures she's not for him. She is nothing like him and not at all what he imagined his first, real love would be, either.

She's not crazy or even reckless but is perceived to be that way because of her chosen profession. She's intelligent and made the dean's list every year in high school, but once she graduated, the ember of freedom ignited and she set off on her own adventure, wanting to do all of the things her stuffy, rigid parents wouldn't abide by.

Isaac will need to get over himself and his prejudice if he hopes to find true love and finally discover what true happiness really is.


Status: youngest/sister (and her romantic interest)
Strengths: Loving, Intuitive, Imaginative, Cautious, Protective, Sympathetic
Weaknesses: Changeable, Moody, Overly Emotional, Touchy, Unable to Let Go
Stature: 5'7", 127lb, highlighted chestnut hair, brown eyes, fair skin, shapely
Age: 27
DOB: July 4, Cancer

Still undecided about her story, but I do know it'll be last.

She'll be the one who has a hand in getting her older brothers hooked up with the right women, or at least it is her goal even though things don't always turn out the way she'd like them to.

She adores her brothers even when they make it a habit to tease her, downplay her moods, and treat her like she's still five.

Secretly, she's especially fond of Iliya because she's always felt sorry for him and wants him to find true happiness so that he can finally relax and enjoy life. She looks up to him and makes a pest of herself sometimes wanting to know how he is doing, what he is thinking and feeling, and what is it that will make him learn how to let go.

She's highly charged in confrontational situations and is prone to tears, but she does mature and learns how to reign in some of that empathy. Her brothers learn early on how to tip-toe around her emotions, but there are still times when tempers flair and she falls apart thinking one or more of them will never speak to each other again.

She's sweet, caring, and love-able, easy to befriend, and reliable as well, but what she longs for is a real family and stability with the promise of there always being people who truly care in her life.

She's the one who brings home stray animals, gets lost in books, acts on impulse, and prefers fantasy to reality. She's also messy and a daydreamer but still works hard to make sure her brothers are well cared for and content with things.

While her brothers do put pressure on her to grow up and decide on her future, she is more apt to want them to do the same thing while not worrying so much about her.

Not sure what her eventual occupation will be, and there is no real love story unfolding for her inside my head yet since I'm still concentrating on Inigo's and Isaac's tales while gathering more stuff for Iliya.

(possible surname: Murin / North / Brézlyn)
Working Title: none
Series: yes
Publication Date: undecided
#NaNoWriMo Ready: likely

18 October, 2015

Plotting My Next Romance Novel

As mentioned in another post about outlining, plotting, and analyzing prior to actually writing my next novel, it is time to get down to business and begin work on story #3.

And, as predicted, the endeavor to chart a course this time around isn't panning out as well as I had hoped.

It is too much like work, which is precisely why I'm not digging it.

However, outlining still has it's appeal and so hope to proceed because I am an overly curious person and want to discover just how much of a difference (good or bad) plotting makes in my craft.

To begin with, I'm supposed to search online for 'famous' people who somewhat resemble my cast of characters and then display them somewhere -- like, on my den wall in front of me here, and in a blog post for posterity.

Fun stuff, I must say, and I did spend a majority of last evening doing just that.

Since I'm not a huge fan of Hollywood, their movies, or their stars, I'm not familiar with most of them and even less familiar with the modern music scene.

Case in point: Thursday's episode of Project Runway: Season 15 had a guest judge everyone on the show seemed mighty familiar with, and Heidi pointed out the fact that she (Meg G, I believe was her name?) is a co-host with her on another reality series . . . um . . . Dancing with the Stars? No, I don't think it was that one. America's Got Talent? Maybe it was that show?


I didn't find exactly what I was looking for in either male or female categories, either, after searching both Tumblr and Pinterest.

Oh, and I've shelved the fantasy series as well.

That's SHELVED - not scrapped. I'm just setting aside that series (for now) to concentrate on the story that has occupied my mind for months now instead.

It is another contemporary, but with the possibility of it becoming a series.

This third novel has got to be better than the second, of course, and I do believe I've read enough works by other, famous authors to have gained more knowledge of the craft while also learning even more about my unique style -- at least I hope that is the case.

Still in the development stage are the setting, the characters, their backgrounds, current employment situations, ages, mental/physical scars, phobias, and interests, so there is little for me to report on or outline.

I should have everything in order some time this week, though.

Also toying with the idea of their being novellas instead of full-blown novel-length romances, but that is a wait-and-see situation.

My idea is for there to be a youngest 'sister' with three older 'brothers', and one by one, these brothers find love via their youngest sibling. Her story will be told last, which would make for four total love stories if I decide on a series.

She adores all of her older 'brothers', but the eldest has a special place in her heart since he had to grow up fast after the death of their parents to look after the younger ones. Right now, he's typical eldest sibling: smart, pulled together, helpful, concerned, and diligent while also harboring bits of fluff like resentment, anxiety about being exposed, and duty to family.

His story should turn out to be the most rewarding or even tearful of the series.

The second oldest will also be a bit typical: wild, reckless, indecisive, rebellious, cocky, and a loose cannon or trouble-maker, I haven't decided. He'll be the bad boy and also the best-looking of the three, but all three will be attractive in their own right.

His story should turn out to be the most entertaining.

The third brother is closest in age to the girl but he'll be the thinker, the doer, the methodical, patient, quiet, reserved, and nerdiest of the three.

His story should prove to be the most fun.

In my head so far, I have them living in another country in relative wealth and with exceptional education and upbringing when something occurs to drag them away from that lifestyle and forces them to go into hiding or seek out a new, safer haven in America . . . where there will be a distant relative: an uncle, I think, who takes them in but then he dies a few years later. Right now, I've got him working on a ship that will sink, but this is likely to change.

So, the eldest is forced to become even more responsible and give up his own grand plans in order to help raise his three younger siblings. He won't be outwardly antagonistic toward them for his seemingly bad luck, and I'd like to make his character the most charming yet realistic of the four.

As for the girl, she is the least developed of them all.

So far, I see a whiny, pudgy child with too much empathy, emotion, and trauma to be all that love-able, but her older brothers will adore her and look after her as best as they can. It will seem as if she and the second oldest do not get along at all when in truth they are quite close in both friendship and nature.

The third son is her complete opposite, especially in brain power and wit, which puts them at constant odds with one another. She dislikes his being a snob and he dislikes her being a flaky dork. Which just means their relationship will unfold throughout the series and secrets will be revealed about them both and their true compassion and concern for each another.

And, as always, these characters are extremely loosely based on a family I knew and hung out with in my middle and high school days before being recently reunited with two of them via Facebook. Of course things are embellished and completely my own fantasy, but she was a very popular girl with three extremely gorgeous, older brothers. Aside from that, the story is all mine with zero in the way of comparison.

So, it is back to Tumblr and Pinterest for me, in search of images that will depict these guys as close to what is inside my head as I can find and then posting them here along with better, more detailed information about them and the stories that they'll share.

Wish me luck!

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

17 October, 2015

Review: A Dangerous Love by Brenda Joyce

Series: The DeWarenne Dynasty (Book 6)
Pages: 384 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (March 18, 2008)
Genre: Historical/Regency Romance
Language: English
Kindle Link: http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Love-Warenne-Dynasty/dp/0373772750/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_8
Sexual Content: 4/5


Torn from his Romany mother's arms as a small boy, Viscount Emilian St. Xavier has spent a lifetime ignoring the whispers of gypsy that follow him everywhere. A nobleman with wealth, power and privilege, he does not care what the gadjos think. But when the Romany come to Derbyshire with news of his mother's murder at the hands of a mob, his world implodes. And Ariella de Warenne is the perfect object for his lust and revenge.…
A Dangerous PASSION
Ariella de Warenne's heritage assures her a place in proper society, though as a radical and independent thinker she scorns her peers' frivolous pursuits in the Ton, fashion and marriage. Until a Roma camp arrives at Rose Hill, and she finds herself drawn to their charismatic leader, Emilian. Even when he warns her away, threatening that he intends to seduce and destroy her, she cannot refuse him. For Ariella is just as determined to fight for their dangerous love…


I've only ever read another Brenda Joyce novel, The Perfect Bride, and there are 10 DeWarenne Dynasty novels in total.

Of the two read thus far, The Perfect Bride was a better, more enjoyable read.

However, I far more enjoyed our caged lion with attitude -- Emilian St. Xavier -- than I did the down-n-out, given up on life in Rex de Warenne.

That being said, it was about the only thing that I liked about A Dangerous Love.

Well written, of course, being a 2008 publication by a well-known and very popular author for at least a decade prior, this was an easy read but not an enjoyable or even exciting one.

There was too much compromise on the part of the leading lady, Ariella, and way too much angst, anger, bitterness, and stubborn refusal on his part for me to want to root for either of them. Actually, I wasn't interested in them getting together about two-thirds of the way through their story.

It also started to read like an anti-bigotry campaign speech as well, and while I am not condoning racism of any kind, this novel helps prove my point that too much opinion or commentary tossed into a romance novel makes for poor or unmemorable romance material.

I've also read other romance novels set in an Historical context that deal with the Romany and understood their plight in a better, far less contrived way than I was forced to have to endure through this particular novel.

Emilian was sexy head to toe, and I liked that about him. I liked, too, that he struggled to live two, separate lives in two, separate worlds. It is both logical and understandable. What wasn't logical or understandable was his inability to concede on a single aspect of that dilemma; especially at his age and for the number of years that he had had the opportunities to examine both sides.

His having drawn a single conclusion makes sense as well, but not his stubborn fight against change. It just didn't work (for me), and based on the remarks made at the Amazon link, others who read this would agree.

As for Ariella, I tried really hard to like her, but it became impossible to do about half the way through this novel.

She was too independent (for the times) and too wishy-washy as well. You either worry about the thoughts/feelings/objections of your father, or you don't. It is that simple. She seemed selfish and one-sided in her pursuit of Emilian, which didn't compute with her supposed love of father/family; all of whom worried for her and warned her against her pursuit of Emilian based on his heartless treatment of her.

At some point, a logical 'modern' woman would say enough is enough -- if he wants me, he knows where to find me. This might just be me, but when someone forces their way into another person's life, I don't see or make the romance connection.

It has already become obvious, based on these two novels alone, that the de Warenne clan are of weak or changeable men and strong-willed, modern women -- two things that do not interest me when reading Historicals.

Hence, if I read another Brenda Joyce novel, it will be something other than from this series.

Sexual Content

This was loaded with steamy intimacy and oral/finger penetration while managing to stay just this side of raunchy.

Emilian is sensual, attractive, and angry: a trio of goodness from a female's perspective on exciting bedroom escapades.

However, he talks and thinks about all of the women he's bedded with a good amount of disdain and hatred, which is both understandable AND off-putting. You'll need to read the book to understand that, though.


If you adore series novels and want to find out all about the de Warenne dynasty, then you need to read this story. It was only slightly confusing to come in in the middle of the series, so again, if you intend to complete the 10-series of novels, read them in perfect order so as not to be the least bit confused about who is whom and who the heck are these people they keep referring to?

Also, if you don't mind learning in-depth details about the Romany plight back in the day and then having to suffer through a lot of bitterness on his part while being a bit confounded by her reactions to it all, then this should be another enjoyable Regency Romance for you.

14 October, 2015

BookLover Sue: Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway - Stardust Dr...

BookLover Sue: Author Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway - Stardust Dr...: Stardust Dreams by S. B. Redstone   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~   BLURB:   Lance Forrester is a dreamer. After a celebrated career as an ...

8-Lines from Love Over Time #MFRWHooks

Welcome, and thank you for dropping in to read my 8-line Hook from my latest work, Love Over Time -- an Adult Contemporary Romance about two strangers with a very distant shared past who cross paths a few times before slowly making a connection as that ancient, shared past starts to unfold, offering both agony and ecstasy along with much-needed understanding that is meant to lead them to a lasting love.

About Love Over Time

This second novel was published back in July and is available on all formats through Smashwords, and for the Kindle at Amazon.


A chance encounter at the airport is innocent enough, but it sets in motion a chain of calamitous events that leave photographer, Kaisa Dalen, badly shaken and jet pilot, Perry Lindstrom, reluctantly determined to protect her at all cost.

Buy Links


While he stood staring at her, she focused on his big, dark eyes that were locked onto her; making her feel anxious about being caught in his spell.

Their navy depths appeared unfathomable, like the deepest part of a lake or a stormy sea.

Her skin chilled, causing her to shudder, and that made her suddenly recall the words a friend had spoken about the man of her dreams.

“His eyes,” her giddy friend had cooed. “The second he looked at me, my whole body started to quiver and I just knew.”

Aware that something similar was happening to her, Kaisa rolled onto her side and crossed her arms at her chest, giving that man her back.

Her heart beat a mad rhythm that pulsed inside her ears, helping to drown out the emergency room noises and that no-longer-reassuring breaking news bulletin.

She could feel heat radiate off her face, making her want to fan herself for relief, but she didn’t dare when she could also feel the hot guy’s presence still behind her.

“You have no idea how glad I am to see you again.”

Please click on the link below to view the blogs of other participants in this hook hop.

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13 October, 2015



Gallery owner Arianna Rose's life is picture-perfect-until her father is accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme and skips town. The media quickly casts Washington, DC's sweetheart as America's most hated heiress. After the police ignore a violent attack on her home, Ari has only one place left to turn . . .

Taking a bullet for the president made Secret Service agent Lance Brown a national hero. His sexy smile and action-star body made him a national sex symbol. And his devotion to protecting the innocent makes him the man in charge of guarding Arianna Rose. She denies her role in her father's crimes, but neither she nor Lance can deny the heat building between them. Together they play a dangerous game . . . only it's not criminal-it's carnal.

Buy Links

About Lynne Silver

Romance author, Lynne Silver, writes the popular Coded for Love series and other hot contemporary romance novels, such as Love, Technically.  Before writing romance, she wrote fiction of a different sort, drafting press releases for technology corporations. Washington DC is her home (non) state, where she resides with her husband and two sons.


Ari rolled onto her side for the millionth time that night. She wondered if Lance was having any more luck sleeping on the couch. She didn’t think so if the noises emanating from his side of the room were any indication.
Oh God, his thigh. She should have thought more about his injury. How in the world would a six foot two man sleep on her small sofa, especially with a bum leg, He probably needed to stretch it out.
This was ridiculous; she was not getting any sleep tonight. If Lance weren’t here, she’d give up, flip on the lights and head to the potter’s wheel. A one second brain flash of her as Demi Moore and Lance as Patrick Swayze entered into her mind but she shook it off as the one AM crazies.
“Lance,” she whispered. “Lance.”
“Hmmm?” A male grumble rose from the couch.
“Are you awake?”
“Switch places with me.”
“What? Why?” He sat up.
“I can’t sleep knowing I put an injured man on the couch. An injured tall man.” She struggled to see his face in the dark, but could only make out shadows of his form.
“I’m fine. Go back to sleep.”
“No.” She hopped off the bed taking her pillow with her.
“Arianna, I won’t be able to sleep knowing I kicked a beautiful woman out of bed in her own apartment.”
He’d called her beautiful. She shouldn’t let his words shouldn’t warm her insides, but still, his compliment brought a smile to her lips. “Oh, I know. We can share the bed.” She turned back and crawled under the covers, her stomach jumping at the thought of Lance in her bed. Not that anything was going to happen. Well, nothing much. She wouldn’t be completely opposed to a little snuggle or if their feet brushed against each other.
“Hell no.” His refusal came way too quickly for her liking.
“Why not? Will your girlfriend be jealous? It’ll be purely platonic. Bring some of those blankets over here and roll them down the center of the bed. Problem solved.”
“I don’t have a girlfriend, but I...”
“Tempted? I promise to keep my hands off you,” she said, smiling that he didn’t have a girlfriend and knowing she’d have to sleep on her hands and have at least ten blankets dividing them to keep from rolling into his welcoming masculine heat. She’d already revised her opinion that he was a jerk. Lance was proving to be way more superhero than jerk. His willingness to stay and protect her went a long way toward softening her resistance to him.
“Will it shut you up?” He stood off the couch. Each of his footsteps coming closer mimicked the pounding of her heartbeat.
“Yep.” She scooted close to the edge of the bed and lay back down. When his weight sank one side of the mattress, she rolled then scooted back to the side. His warmth seeped through offering her a comfort she hadn’t felt in ten months since her nightmare began. It would be so easy to inch closer, and let her hands wander over his body, but she reminded herself he’d bolt if she got bold. He’d made it clear he was fighting the attraction between them. Silly man. Why not take what she was offering? Then she froze and wondered what exactly she was offering. She was off relationships and Lance wasn’t a one-night stand kind of guy. Looked like she’d be sharing a bed with a man and not having sex; a first. 
It seemed she’d just shut her eyes when the sun blasted through her windows waking her up. She sat up with a jolt and heard a noise coming from the bathroom. Sounded like someone was in her…shower? What kind of criminal broke in to shower in someone’s home? Then it all came flooding back. Her dad, the gallery vandal, the sexy man who’d spent the night in her bed. She nearly laughed. Never had a man ever slept over and nothing happened, not even a good-night kiss. What a waste. Lance was hot, and he was in her shower. Naked. She should probably go see if he needed shampoo or his back scrubbed. It was the charitable thing to do.
Before she could act on her impulse, the shower stopped and silence fell as Lance stepped out of the bathroom, white towel wrapped low on his hips. His tousled hair fell in all directions, dripping water down his muscular chest only lightly dusted with light brown hair. He had a full six pack of abs that spoke to his dedication to staying in shape for his job, and he had those total sexy hip lines going on.
Ari swallowed hard as he offered her a small uneven smile.
“Morning. I was hoping to be dressed by the time you woke up. I’ll grab my clothes and head back in there to change.”

“Don’t bother on my account.” Her lust amped up at his appearance, and made her voice take on a throaty, breathy quality.

07 October, 2015

It Happened One Autumn: #BookReview

Publisher: Avon
Original Release Date: September 27, 2005
Series: The Wallflowers, Book 2
Pages: 391 pages
Language: English
Genre: Regency Romance
Sexual Content: 3/5


Headstrong American heiress Lillian Bowman has come to England to find an aristocratic husband. Unfortunately, no man is strong enough to tame the stubborn beauty's fierce will. Except, perhaps, the powerful and arrogant Earl of Westcliff—a man Lillian despises more than anyone she's ever met.
Marcus, Lord Westcliff, is famous for his icy English reserve and his supreme self-control. But something about the audacious Lillian drives him mad. Whenever they're in the same room, they can't stop themselves from battling furiously to gain the upper hand.
Then one afternoon, a stunningly sensuous encounter changes everything . . . and Lillian discovers that beneath the earl's reserved façade, he is the passionate and tender lover of her dreams.
What neither Westcliff nor Lillian suspect, however, is that a sinister conspiracy threatens to destroy any chance of happiness. After a shocking betrayal endangers Lillian's safety—and possibly her life—will Marcus be able to save her before it's too late?


Review first and commentary after.

I didn't adore this story as much as I did some of her other works, but what I liked most about It Happened One Autumn is that Diva Kleypas managed, again, to turn my head around about a guy as unlikely and uninvolved as Lord Marcus Marsden, Earl of Westcliff.

The Earl showed himself in two prior stories, Again the Magic, about his oldest sister, Aline, and her rocky romance with an American servant, and also the story of Olivia, the Earl's youngest sister, and her romance with another American, Gideon Shaw.

Marcus's presence is heard and felt in this first novel, setting the groundwork for his personality and lack of emotion. Marcus is their bodyguard; their knight, and their voice, but he is also mechanical, somewhat lifeless, and simply going through the motions while working effortlessly to maintain self-control and come off as nothing less than mechanical and lifeless.

And then again in book 1 of the Wallflower Series, Secrets of a Summer Night: the story of Lady Annabelle and Simon Hunt, who happens to be a good, close friend of the Earl. They do a lot of business together, so Marcus pops up now and again to ruffle feathers and make his opinion known, giving us yet more information and perspective about the man.

He becomes more lifelike and even like-able by the end of this second novel appearance.

Secrets... is also where our stodgy Earl bumps into Lillian for the first time, and the mismatched sparks fly from the get-go.

So, if you haven't read either of these previous novels before reading It Happened One Autumn, then it isn't entirely likely that you will fully understand why it is that Marcus and Lillian aren't particularly fond of one another.

(jab one at the reviewers comments)

If so, then it isn't as if we had no idea of who he was or why he behaved the way he did once his story is finally told in this third novel about his romance.

It stands to reason, then, that by reading It Happened One Autumn afterwards, finding Marcus to be surly and brash toward Lillian should make perfect sense.

(jab two at the reviewers comments)

In all honesty, I never thought of Marcus as being anything other than what he was meant to be: the eldest in a long, illustrious line of Earls who is viscously groomed to become the head of the household.

Until one day the love bug bites and then things start to change.

What the hell else would it take for a romance to blossom in an exciting and unexpected fashion if he wasn't the oddball character with numerous flaws who needs a bit of polish and warmth for him to overcome his past?

He wasn't as cold or mean as some painted him to be, either.

(jab three)

I was actually a bit surprised by his calm and well-behaved mannerisms around Lillian, but it also came as no surprise whatsoever that it was due to his having already been smitten in Secrets of a Summer Night.

It was in Secrets... that the Earl began his side of the love story, which makes It Happened One Autumn more about Lillian and her side.

Marcus went from being a 'not so handsome' man with a stuffy pretense to this enticing god with an amazing body and outstanding bedside manner.

I think this is meant to make us believe that, with time, anything is possible, including our vision being askew one minute and then clearly focused the next.

While I enjoyed this story and loved the fact that the author was capable of making me see a new and exciting side of a man I didn't quite care for earlier, this was not my favorite Kleypas novel, and I'm still not as hooked on the Wallflower Series as I am with other series in her domain.

I would recommend you first read Again the Magic, and then read Secrets of a Summer Night before delving into It Happened One Autumn, and only to save yourself the trouble of trying to figure out why it is that Marcus and Lillian don't get along so well yet remain attracted to one another despite it all.


Now, about that so-called 'rape' instance.

Yes, I was a little startled to read that our do-right Earl, knowing it was the wrong thing and even telling himself that he wasn't the type of man to take advantage of an inebriated female, ended up doing the nasty anyhow.

The angry cried foul and railed against the author for that scene, but why?

It wasn't rape by any means, and despite Lillian's being tipsy, the two of them were madly in lust and unable to keep their hands off one another even before that scene.

He tried and failed, but at no point in the scene had Lillian argued, struggled, or insisted that he leave her alone.

It just wasn't rape, wrong, or even outrageous.

Of course I don't condone rape, and I also don't condone forcing writers to be PC when they aren't or expecting authors to write entirely too realistically about fantasy and fiction and romance.

Being made to be overly careful about every instance in a novel is like asking every author alive and published to mind their P's and Q's so as not to offend a single segment of the population.

I don't care for blood and gore, so Mr. King better get his act together and start writing about things that interest me, or I'll just keep complaining that he's destroying the minds of impressionable young men.

Why lambaste an author for writing something that doesn't jive with the supposed moral values or a brainwashed view of reality?

And, it is FICTION for gosh sake!

Even if it does 'touch upon' certain life-like aspects of reality, it shouldn't be viewed as a blueprint for the reader's real life. That is just as scary as some of Mr. King's novels, if you ask me.

They are just fiction and meant for entertainment purposes only -- not as a life road map for readers to live by in reality.

Most people read to escape reality, not wallow in it and make comparisons between the novel and their own life.

It is just silly and unrealistic to think that way.

Unless you truly believe that video games and movies are somehow solely responsible for the bad actions of a few and, therefore, distasteful occurrences in a novel are just as dangerous to ones soul.

Lillian didn't cry NO.

Lillian, by the way, wasn't exactly screaming bloody murder while being dragged by her hair to his bedroom, thrown to the floor, and violently attacked.

(and, even if it had occurred that way, so what! Just because it is wrong and distasteful DOESN'T mean it can't and never should occur in a writer's mind for the purpose of their novel, and especially not out of fear that it may offend someone.)

Lillian, by the way, had said to herself that she wasn't as drunk as she was letting on.

Lillian, as it turns out, seduced the Earl and THAT is why he lost control.

Lillian giggled afterwards.

Big deal.

She was in love and he was still trying to fight it, and because she knew that, she made it extremely difficult for the stodgy Earl to do the right thing, which made the scene sexy as well as realistic.

LILLIAN, by way of modern conveyance, lifted her corset in front of the vanity mirror and took a selfie that she then sent to Marcus's cell phone with a message about where he could find her; adding a few bursting heart emo's for effect.

THAT is life and also fiction that reflects reality.

If you are going to base your real life expectations on fiction-based fantasy, that is a bigger problem than having a fictional character do something a bit untoward.

Which side of reality vs fantasy realm would you rather read about?

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

05 October, 2015

A Writer's Habit

When it comes to being organized, efficient with time, and disciplined in my endeavors, the word FAIL always springs to mind.

Articles about writers and how they write (wrote) gives clear indication that some were extremely organized while others possessed peculiar habits and still more remained staunch believers in superstition.

Truman Capote is relate-able because he, like me, never wrote a word on a Friday -- his being a superstition thing, and mine being because that's my day off.

In the book Odd Type Writers  by Celia Blue Johnson, I discovered that I can also relate to James Joyce and Dorothy Parker:

A minority, however, measured quantity as inversely proportional to quality. James Joyce proudly considered the completion of two perfect sentences a full day of work and Dorothy Parker, an obsessive reviser, even skewed to the negative, once lamented, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

My kind of people, them. ;-)

From Writer's Relief comes an article that includes 4 Ways to Get Organized when or prior to writing.

Carry Paper with You; Construct, Then Write; Consider Going Digital, and Don’t Plan at All!

Of these four, I like the last one best but am also inclined to do more research on the third one.

THINKING of ways to improve is better than not doing it at all, but putting any of the suggested digital apps into practice is another thing entirely.

Scrivener, yWriter5, and Dark Room are examples of software I've downloaded and attempted to use but failed miserably at before running back to Word and liking it much more.

Scrivener is not free and, for me, is the most intimidating piece of artistic endeavor I've ever come across. And, everything is so tiny! I just don't get it, but don't take my word for it, because it happens to be one of the most widely used apps on the market today.

Same thing with yWriter5. I still have the free version on my laptop, and every once in awhile I'll open it up just to see if maybe today is the day when I'm a little smarter and can actually figure out what to do with it.

Like Scrivener, yWriter5 is great for organized folk who will no-doubt figure it out right away and then run with it and like it.

As for me? These types of help apps are just a little too busy and convoluted for my simplistic sensibilities.

And, it never fails as well, that when I come across another article about getting organized and learning from those who are extremely organized, that I experience this underwhelming sense of guilt about my own, supposedly bad (or lazy) (or BOTH) habit of not being organized.

Who doesn't want to get organized?

Who doesn't want to eventually sit down at their mode of creating, be it pen/paper or electronic device/fingers and whip up the next Great Expectations after getting so organized?

The benefits alone are reason enough to want to at least try, right?

Knowing precisely how your story will end is one.

I start out thinking I know, but the chances of that particular ending occurring by the time I'm ready to type the words THE END are usually slim to none.

Understanding your main characters inside and out is another.

Again, I like to think that I do know them and quite well, thank you. What they look like, how they sound, how others perceive them upon first glance, the way they interact with others, in public, in private, what they like and don't, what they fear and why, who they gravitate toward and repel from and why, etc.

Also, when organizing a story, you are better able to see how all of the puzzle pieces that are inside your head will fit together in a concise manner that will not only help you to write the story without much doubt (or effort?) but also make the story more enjoyable for the reader.

And, yes, I do think that this, too, occurs by some supernatural force within my own mind.

I just know where the story is going, how it will all blend seamlessly, and reach a logical conclusion.

But, that is just it. I simply THINK and therefore it is so.

My charting a course prior to writing a novel has yet to occur, and the guilt thing about being a wing-it writer makes me want to give charting a try -- at least once -- just to see how and IF it might actually work to help improve my writing.

For starters, I bought a white board and some colorful markers, and there is a thick packet of colorful sticky notes somewhere inside my desk, too.

My laptop PICS folder is loaded with images of everything from hot guys to pretty women, cool clothing, stylish interiors, locations, cars, exotic foods, and even private jets (so I sound like I know what I'm talking about when I try to describe them in my work).

Note taking is a stretch, but there have been times when I've jotted down an idea or three in Notepad and saved it to my desktop so I know it's there and can't lose sight of it when the time actually comes to write words that will eventually form a story and culminate into my next publication.

It probably boils down to something as lazy or effort inducing as work that I never bother with charting a course prior to writing a novel.

Instead, I spend hours, days, weeks, and even months (last novel published in August -- word count for next novel is still zero in October) THINKING about the next story.

It's my writer's habit.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

04 October, 2015

The First Book

This is both easy and difficult to answer, as there is more than one answer involved.

I'll start from the very beginning and say The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber, published back in 1962. It is 48 pages of cute!

This delightful story arrived via my mother's book club and is one of the very first books I could read by myself.

I read, re-read, and then read to my children this sweet tale about a family who move into a really cool brownstone in New York and find a talented crocodile in their bathtub.

The drawings were as captivating as the story.

In the second grade, making that first-ever trip to the library was a milestone and memorable moment I will never forget. We had twenty minutes to browse, find, and check out a book, and I'll never forget walking up to the check-out counter with too many books in both hands.

After I set them down on the counter, my heart racing and my face smarting from the permanent smile, I was then saddened by the look of dismay on the nun's face.

"Are you sure you want to check out all of these books?"

I remember nodding while feeling my heart pound in my tiny chest, and the sting of unshed tears at the thought of being made to return every book but one.

She smiled, though, and to my great relief, proceeded to check out all of them for me. I had a hard time carrying them back to the classroom and even more difficulty taking them home, but I managed and felt like a princess that had been bestowed some royal privilege of library honors!

Long story short: of those first-ever selections, the only one that really stood out in my young, impressionable mind (and, still does) was a slightly difficult read with a super-fascinating story. The original publication of The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White.

And, finally, the reason for my love of, fascination with, and interest in becoming a novelist: Romance reading.

I think it was in the summer between the seventh and eighth grades that I discovered my mother's 'secret stash' that she hid in the sliding-doors bookcase headboard of my parent's bed. I'd slowly developed the courage to enter that room as I got older, and oh, the secrets that unfolded for me!

Her birth control pills, a box of Ayds diet candy that I sneaked just one of and couldn't eat anything for 48 hours!

There was a picture, too, of my father on leave during WWII at some club. He's with an enlisted buddy and two women, all seated around a small table loaded with liquor bottles and half-empty glasses.

Both couples are kissing, but his buddy gave the camera the finger, and you can believe how shocked I was to learn that it was a gesture that old!


Anyway, the bookcase headboard fascinated me most, being an unrecoverable read-a-holic even at that tender age.

It was lined with such paperbacks as Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, The Thorn Birds
by Collen McCullough, Captive Passions by Fern Michaels, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell.

I read them all, of course, and became forever hooked on romance.

Later, I discovered popular authors and was instantly gravitating toward Johanna Lindsey novels . . . because of the cover models!

Honestly, I never made the Fabio connection until it was pointed out to me in a magazine article, and afterward I was so ashamed of that knowledge that I stopped looking at the covers and started concentrating on the back cover synopsis instead before making any purchase.

Still, the one book that stood out most was Savage Thunder by Johanna Lindsey.

I've read just about every Lindsey novel to come along, and liked a majority of what I read, but for a few hot & heavy reasons, this story just stands out so well, and for so long, in the memorable category.

Colt had to have been the most attractive, self-assured, once-bitten half & half I'd ever had the pleasant fortune of being introduced to by way of steamy romance.

That scene in the desert, atop one horse, will stay with me forever, I'm sure.


Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.

01 October, 2015

What's in a Name?

I use a pen name and I write romance novels.

And, I use a pen name BECAUSE I write romance novels.


However, this doesn't mean that I'm embarrassed about my chosen craft.

Were I to be embarrassed, it would soon become tedious and even sooner that it would lose its luster (with me). I would find myself gravitating toward another genre simply because I couldn't handle the amount of stress incurred by writing what I deem embarrassing.

I chose a pen name for several reasons, and one is because of the genre I write in, but is meant to save my immediate family -- not me -- from bearing the brunt of the stigma attached to romance novels.

An act of kindness on my part, I think.

I am no longer involved in the church or with its parishioners, but my children are, and the people there are a nosy bunch who can't help but ask how I am, what am I doing now, and exactly how far gone am I that my soul is irrevocably damned to hell.

My daughter tends to be honest and direct -- sometimes too honest and direct -- and it just so happened that the biggest gossip and Church Lady there asked what I was doing with my life, to which my daughter replied, "She is a published author now."

When she told me this, I panicked. "Dear-heart," I said, "The response had to be "'Oh? And, what does she write?'"

She looked at me with that matter-of-fact gaze and said, "I told her you write romance novels! What?"

As I shrank in my writing chair, she became upset and told me that she isn't the least bit ashamed of the fact and rather proud of me for being a published author of anything at all.

"Yes, dear," I replied; managed a smile and gave her a hug. "But, you confided in the wrong woman, and it's MY secret, which is why I chose to write under an assumed name; to avoid this kind of thing."

Well, as expected of that little slip of the tongue, on the following Sunday, my son came over after mass and looked at me funny before telling me that the parish priest had said something kind of strange before his sermon.

"Oh?" I asked, quirking a curious brow while starting to break into a cold sweat.

"Yeah," he said and took on a shy, pained smile expression, "He told us that reading romance novels was a bad idea because they are filthy and give women the wrong ideas about love and family life."

Now, I don't need to be a genius to figure out the scenario that led to the priest's being compelled to make that public service announcement.

And, it is precisely why I attempted to avoid having people "I" know discover that I write romance novels.

If there was any good that came of that awful instance, it would be that my daughter learned a valuable lesson about people and about being too honest or offering too much information.

Now that the gig is up, though, it seems a bit pointless for me to continue to 'hide' behind a nom de plume.

On a personal level, I am not ashamed of what I do and hope to continue writing romance novels for as long as I am able.

On a public level, I wish to continue to shelter my loved ones from that type of shaming.

Another reason why I chose a pen name has to do with the simple fact that I never liked my real name, and my last name isn't my real last name anyhow.

My real last name and it's Lithuanian spelling were lost after my father arrived here with his parents at the age of three.

I can still recall seeing it on his birth certificate, but that was decades ago and I am at a loss now as to how it was originally spelled.

There was a j in there somewhere, and I think it ended in 'weicz', but I can't be certain.

It would never have felt right to go with my 'married' name since I've been divorced for more than fifteen years and didn't want that part of my failed past to be in association with my career choice.

The people I know now don't know my maiden name, and those from decades ago aren't aware of my married name thanks to my public Facebook page.

So, my devised pen name is simply the tail end of my first name, and a combo spelling of my maiden and married last names. Not that far off the mark and yet unfamiliar enough to those who know me for it to be a 'safe', as it were.

Not liking your name is reason enough, I think, to want to go public under a pseudonym.

Not wanting some people to know my personal business is another reason for the pen name.

Wanting the whole aspect of this endeavor to be entirely unique is still another.

But, being ashamed of writing romance novels isn't a reason at all for why I use a pen name.

Your comments, thoughts, suggestions, issues, and insight are always welcome. Please feel free to reply to any of my posts.