Thursday, November 21, 2013

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday. To me, it all goes back to my childhood, when my parents, brother, sister, and I would pile into the car and make the five hour journey up north to the Indiana suburbs of Chicago, where my mother was from. Cleverly enough, we usually traveled on Thanksgiving morning, avoiding most of the holiday traffic and arriving just in time to catch the first whiffs of the roasting turkey.

Thanksgiving was always hosted at my Uncle Mickey and Aunt Bev’s house, a tidy little tri-level in a tidy little neighborhood about half an hour’s drive from my grandparents’ house. Sometimes the yard would be clogged with snow, sometimes with the last of the autumn leaves. The air was invariably crisp and cool outside while the hot ovens and busy guests heated the inside to just this side of toasty.

The first Thanksgiving turkey I ever made
The buzz of conversation filled nearly every room of that house, but it was the basement that held the most laughter. There, we many cousins, the youngest generation of two families brought together but once a year on this day, would gather on the brown shag carpet, teasing and joking and playing board games. The old Clue game would come out, as would the decks of cards and cups of dice, and there we would play like the warriors we were, shrieking with laughter and accusing each other of cheating.

I remember the TV being tuned to football, coolers stocked with the soft drinks my mom never let us have at home, and the smell of pumpkin pie promising deliciousness, even though I never actually liked it. I loved the jello molds and cranberry dessert, the green bean casserole and the mounds upon mounds of mash potatoes topped with melted butter. There was the stuffing that I avoided, and the rolls that I binged on. There was real butter and homemade whipped cream, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and a turkey so big, it always managed to be more than enough for the crowd of relatives who squeezed into the long line of tables filling the living and dining rooms.

After grace, we’d all say something we were thankful for before, at long last, diving into the glorious feast. We fed our mouths, our hearts, our souls, and our spirit there at the Thanksgiving table. We caught up with each other’s lives and reminisced about old times. We looked forward to the future as we gave thanks for the present. By the end of the day, we would all be full to bursting, lounging on every available sofa and chair with sated smiles and droopy eyelids. The food would be put away, the daylight long faded to black, and before long we would pile into our frosty cars, once again heading away to our own lives, already looking forward to the next year when we could do it all over again.
Last year's Thanksgiving with Catherine Gayle :-)

It’s been many years since I’ve been to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but the memories will always burn bright this time of year. This holiday is sacred, reserved for nothing more than family, friends, food, and thanksgiving. In all my years, I’ve never bought a single Thanksgiving decoration, or done anything else to dilute the simple pleasure of the day. For as long as I live, I’ll never disrespect the day by bypassing it for Christmas. Others can wait in line for a well-priced TV or half-priced jeans, but this Thanksgiving I’ll be doing what I always have: enjoying a day at home with those I love, focusing on the things that really matter in life.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone – may your day be filled with all the best things on this, the beautifully uncommercial holiday :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Because I love you - Epilogue for Ruined by a Rake!

Okay, okay—so I heard from some of you that you wanted a little more for Eleanor and Nick's happily ever after in Ruined by a Rake. Initially, I didn't have one because I knew we'd be seeing more in the second book. Indeed, Scandalized by a Scoundrel (out by Nov 15th!) is actually set during Eleanor and Nick's wedding.

HOWEVER, I never want to leave my readers hanging, so here now is the newly added epilogue from Ruined by a Rake:


Just what do you think you are doing?”

Eleanor froze mid-lunge, her foil extended straight out in front of her. Blast, she was caught. The babbling brook that had so enchanted her when they purchased their small estate had apparently masked the sounds of her husband’s approach. Biting her lip, she straightened and turned to face the music. Nick stood behind her, partially shrouded in the heavy sheet of early morning fog, his arms crossed and his brow raised expectantly.

 She offered a bright smile, all innocence. “Morning constitutional?”

He let his hands fall to his hips, giving her a very nice view of his chest through the partially-buttoned, generously-cut white shirt. “Uh huh.” He started forward, closing the distance between them with four easy strides. “You, madam, know full well you are not to be out here like this.”

Even as he pinned her with his sternest expression, his lips still curled with a hint of that delicious smile of his. Her heart gave a little flip. Almost a year of marriage, and he still could take her breath away.

He stopped an arm’s length away and held out his hand. “Your weapon?”

Scrunching her nose, she tucked the foil into the crook of her elbow. “Don’t be silly, Nicolas. There’s nothing wrong with a little exercise. In fact, I think it’s good.”

He flapped his hand open and closed in the universal sign for hand it over. “The doctor said no strenuous activities.”

“Oh really,” she said, lifting an imperious brow. “If I recall correctly, you were quite enthusiastic about our strenuous activities last night.”

Nick gave a bark of laughter and shook his head. “Oh, sure—use that against me.” Chuckling, he slipped a hand over her shoulder and tugged her in for a kiss, foil and all. She sighed happily, readily leaning into his embrace.

When he pulled back, he placed a tender hand to her middle. The warmth of his bare fingers seeping through the fabric of her fencing shirt was nothing compared to the warmth of his gaze. “I know it’s very early yet, but put a poor soldier’s mind at ease, and do please stick to walking for your constitutionals.”

 She loved when he looked at her like that, as though she were the most precious treasure in the world. Because of that look, she had taken the biggest risk of her life—throwing years of caution to the wind in order to be with him—and it had paid off beyond her wildest dreams. A husband who loved, respected, and cherished her, a much longed for baby on the way, and all the family members who really mattered—Aunt Margaret, Libby, and William—by their sides, refusing to be intimidated by Uncle Robert’s wrath.

She was happier than she’d ever been in her life, and she had one person to thank for it.

Covering his hand with her own, she sighed and nodded. “Fine, fine. Have it your way. But I warn you—I shall hold you accountable for keeping me entertained for the next seven or so months.”

His smile was slow and devilish and full of promise. “Deal.”

In one smooth move, he divested her of the foil and lifted her into his arms, making her laugh out loud. “Nicholas!” she gasped, clinging to his neck as he started back for the house.

“What?” he said mildly, not the least bit winded as he navigated the rocky uphill path. “I take my promises very seriously. If it is entertainment you want, it is entertainment you shall have.”

Grinning, Eleanor settled into his arms, relishing the familiar smell of his skin and the feel of his muscled arms around her. There was no other place on earth she’d rather be. “Thank you,” she whispered, the simple words filled with a wealth of emotion.

He slowed and tilted his head so he could meet her gaze. “Whatever for?”

“For making me the happiest person in all of England.”

His arms tightened around her as he brushed a soft kiss against her lips. “My dear Ellie,” he said, his voice slightly gruff. “I’m merely returning the favor.”

SO, that's it for now! I hope you enjoyed this little extra, written with love just for you. And don't miss Scandalized by a Scoundrel, coming November 15th, for Amelia and Gabriel's story. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cover Reveal, Excerpt, plus Fun News!

Hi everyone!

Yes, I know I have been terribly amiss at blogging, but I have a good reason: I'm almost done with my next novella!! So today, I am doing a cover reveal as well as an exclusive excerpt.

Before we get to that, I want to share my exciting news: I'm now an award-winning author! A Taste for Scandal won best historical/regency romance in the Book Buyers Best 2013 contest.  A big thank you to the judges and the Orange County Romance Writers of America!

Now, without further ado, I give you...

The following is an unedited excerpt. I hope you enjoy this, the first sneak peek!

Chapter One
For a man with a pistol pointed at his chest, the trespasser seemed rather disconcertingly unconcerned.
Amelia Watson adjusted her grip on her weapon and repeated her question. “What business have you on my father’s lands, sir?” She didn’t waver at all, instead holding steady and true on her target. Her exceptionally broad target. The man’s chest was nearly as wide as his patronizing smile.
“If these lands are your father’s, then clearly I have taken a wrong turn.” He tilted his head, his dark gaze raking over her from the lacy bottom of her dainty pink morning gown to the top of her beribboned straw bonnet before landing again on her outstretched pistol. “I must say, you make for a very unique welcoming committee for poor, lost souls who have unwittingly wandered across property lines.”
What kind of accent was that, anyway? Yes, he spoke the King’s English, but there was a flavor to it that she didn’t quite recognize. Not Scottish or Irish, but definitely something. His looks gave no hint to what it may be. His eyes were nearly the same color as his hair, both dark and shining in the morning sun. Based on his tanned skin, she’d wager he spent quite a bit of time in the elements.
His rough wool jacket fit well enough, but certainly wasn’t of the best quality. Nor were his well-worn boots, which were liberally scuffed and mud-stained, despite the dry ground. Stubble shadowed his cheeks, as though he’d gone a day or two without the benefit of a razor. Even so, his eyes seemed intelligent, his posture proud. He didn’t look like a man who was looking for trouble, but she couldn’t be sure.
And really, what did a villain look like? According to Papa, half the members of parliament were criminals.
Grateful for the solid weight of the pistol’s brass grip, she lifted her chin. “There are poor, lost souls, and there are those up to no good. Speak now as to your purpose here, before I make up my own mind and act accordingly.”
She was careful to control her breathing, not giving away the fact that her heart was pounding like a runaway horse. It had been since the moment he appeared from the copse of trees lining her favorite path. Perhaps she should have listened to Papa’s warning to her not to go walking unaccompanied. Although, to be fair, he had issued the same warning every time she stepped foot outside the house for as long as she could remember.
The man lifted an eyebrow, everything about him showing a complete lack of worry regarding her and her flintlock. “You are aware that there is a wedding this week on your neighbor’s estate?”
Heat that had nothing to do with the late summer sun stole up her cheeks. Of course—the wedding. Eleanor had invited her weeks ago, but Amelia hadn’t even thought about the fact that guests were sure to be arriving early.   
Although . . . she narrowed her eyes speculatively at the handsome intruder. Most everyone in the area knew about the coming nuptials, so it was possible he was merely using the event as an excuse. “I am indeed aware—as is nearly everyone else in a twenty-five mile radius. Do you have some sort of proof that you are a guest?”
The corner of his lip quirked up. “Of course. Here, let me just fish my engraved invitation from my coat pocket, where I keep it for just such an occasion as this.” He made no move toward his jacket, not that she expected him to. Clearly he was mocking her.
She glared at him, unamused. “Fine, then be off with you. Do not return, sir, or you will find me somewhat less hospitable.”
His brows lifted halfway up his forehead. “Less hospitable? Shall I be drawn and quartered then?”
The gun was beginning to weigh heavy in her hand, but she refused to back down. She didn’t know this man from Adam, and his flippant attitude put her on edge. “If you’re lucky.”
He chuckled softly and tipped his hat. “Very well. I can take a hint. Good day, Miss Watson.”
Her eyes widened at the mention of her name. “Wait,” she exclaimed, stopping him mid-turn. Dropping the gun to her side, she peered at him with renewed interest. “How did you know my name?”
One single brow lifted as he tilted his head. “I don’t imagine there are many pistol-wielding, beautiful young women in these parts.” He tapped his forehead. “Deductive reasoning.”
With that, he turned and walked away, leaving her hot-cheeked and stunned. A moment later, a slow, reluctant smile came to her lips. Apparently her reputation preceded her. She stuffed the pistol back into the deep pocket at her hip where she always carried it, and set off for the house.  
It would seem a visit to her neighbor’s estate had just been added to her agenda.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fun at the Biltmore - Plus a Reading of Flirting with Fortune!

I've never been the type of person who has trouble being alone. Which is a good thing, given my profession! So, when my friend had a family emergency and couldn't join me on our planned trip to the Biltmore, I decided to go anyway. And I'm so glad I did!

The day was beautiful, and it was a unique experience being completely on my own for such a trip. I ate lunch at the first place that took my fancy (had an award winning Reuben sandwich - yum!). I brought my edits and contentedly worked in the glorious 70-something degree weather.

When I was ready to go, I hied off to the Biltmore, deciding to walk to the house from the parking lot instead of take the shuttle. Good choice!

Once in the house, which was delightfully uncrowded, I indulged in a tour. The Architecture tour talked all about how the house was built, and took you up the the nooks and crannies of the roof so you could see all the fun details up close and personal.  You know, like this gargoyle's butt:

Which I decided to take a picture with:

After the tour was over, I indulged in the fresh made ice cream. And you know, after 80 million steps in the architecture tour, I totally earned it!

And yes, this is a KID sized cone O-0

 After I had wondered the house and grounds to my heart's content, I got a wild hair and decided to make good use of the place. Lying on the grass on my belly, propping my iPhone up on my water cup and leaning it against the straw, I recorded an excerpt from my latest release, Flirting with Fortune. Enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reader's Rainbow - Historical Romance Palooza!

The winners have been chosen via Rafflecopter and notified. Check the widget below to see who the lucky winners are. Congrats to them, and thanks everyone for joining in the fun!

Amazon | iTunes | Barnes & Noble
It's that time of year again!! 

To celebrate the September 3rd release of FLIRTING WITH FORTUNE, Book 3 in my Sealed with a Kiss series, I'm giving away an entire RAINBOW of signed books!  So, before we go any further, let's answer these simple questions:

1) Do you like Historical Romance?
2) Do you like autographed books?
3) Do you like free stuff?
4) Have you ever wanted to read a rainbow?

If you answered yes...
Then this is the giveaway for you! 

There will be four grand prize winners drawn on September 3rd. The winners will receive one of the following (chosen at random): 
The Black and White Box, the Green Box, the Purple Box, or the Red Box! 

The Red Box

Cara Elliott - Too Dangerous to Desire
Kieran Kramer - The Earl is Mine
Anne Barton - When She was Wicked
Shana Galen - If You Give a Rake a Ruby
Madeline Hunter - The Conquest of Lady Cassandra
Samantha Grace - Miss Lavigne's Little White Lie
Anna Lee Huber - The Anatomist's Wife
Erin Knightley - A Taste for Scandal! 


The Purple Box

Tracey Devlyn
- A Lady's Revenge

Sophie Jordan - How to Lose a Bride in One Night
Jo Beverly - A Scandalous Countess
Grace Burrows - The Bridegroom Wore Plaid
Valerie Bowman - Secrets of a Runaway Bride
Elizabeth Essex - Breath of Scandal
Vicky Dreiling - What a Wicked Earl Wants
Erin Knightley - A Taste for Scandal!  



The Green Box

Julie Anne Long - What I Did for a Duke
Eloisa James - The Ugly Duchess
Cathy Maxwell - Because of You
Elizabeth Hoyt - Lord of Darkness
Jennifer McQuiston - What Happens in Scotland
Katharine Ashe - When a Scot Loves a Lady
Juliana Gray - How to Tame Your Duke
Erin Knightley - A Taste for Scandal!  


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's Better than Free?

NOTHING!  Which is why I'm so excited to announce the following:

Amazon       Apple      Smashwords     and B&N (coming soon!)

Now go forth and read, enjoy, and share! 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Swag Time!!

Hi Everyone!!

As many of you know, I am headed to the huge national Romance Writers of America Convention this week. (If you are in the Atlanta area, come to the huge book signing on Wed!) Anyone going knows that there is swag and books galore to be had - but only if you can make it!

So I decided to have a big swag giveaway this week - and you don't have to be present to win. Simply be signed up for my newsletter (CLICK HERE) by Sunday, July 21, and I'll randomly draw winners when I get home from the conference! I'll be giving away:
  • T-shirts
  • Signed books (mine and others!)
  • iPhone case
  • A grand prize that includes everything pictured below, including an advance copy of FLIRTING WITH FORTUNE!