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!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Little Something for all the Readers Out There

SURPRISE! I've had my #1 Regency Bestselling novella, RUINED BY A RAKE, turned into an audiobook! 

A little behind the scenes info for you. When I first decided to move forward with having the audiobook made, I envisioned a lovely, female, British-accented narrator bringing Eleanor and Nick's story to life. BUT, while the very first audition I received was most definitely lovely and British-accented, it was definitely not from a female. However, being the open-minded gal that I am, I gave it a listen . . . and promptly fell in love :) Alastair had knocked it out of the park, and I hired him on the spot.

And boy, am I glad I did. He brought magic to the story that I find mesmerizing. Won't you give it a listen and see if you agree? To enjoy a little 13 minute sample, click HERE! (It takes a minute to load, fyi)   

So, if you or someone you know would like to be transported to Regency England without having to so much as turn a page, I hope you'll check this audiobook out. It's a 2 hours and 10 minute escape that I sincerely hope you'll love!

  Available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes for only $6.95!

Monday, July 1, 2013

All I Really Need

As seen on the Lady Scribes Blog today :)

A few weeks ago, I was alone at home with my three dogs when the weather abruptly began to change. I stepped outside and looked to the skies, unease skittering down my spine. A dark bank of clouds rapidly skirted across the sky, blocking out the sunlight and turning the late afternoon to a false twilight.

Wind rattled the trees and kicked up little whitecaps on the lake, and the air temperature noticeably dropped as the first raindrops hit the ground. Behind me, the dogs fussed and wined, dancing back and forth in front of the door.

I wasn’t quite worried yet—it is summer in North Carolina after all, and we know a thing or two about thunderstorms.  I took a few minutes to hurriedly secure the furniture on the dock, to tuck away a few gardening tools, and to tip over the wheelbarrow so it didn’t turn into a birdbath. But as I brushed off my hands and started to head inside, a sound arose that stopped me in my tracks.

The tornado sirens.

I have lived in my neighborhood for eight years now, and I have never once heard those sirens outside of the once a year scheduled drill.  Now, as they wailed into the growing darkness, dread pooled in my stomach and I raced to the house.  There, I grabbed my computer, my purse, and a lantern and herded the dogs into the basement.

The reality of the moment hit me as I watched the unsettled skies churn through the basement windows. What if this really did happen? Did I have everything I needed? No—I needed a few more things. I was dressed in a tattered denim dress from high school that only came out when the doors were locked and there was no threat of company. It was sleeveless and short—was this what I wanted to be stuck wearing if everything else was destroyed? And my flip flops would be treacherous if I had to navigate a debris field.

After another look at the skies and a moment of listening for anything unusual, I sprinted back up the stairs. Once in my closet, I snagged my tennis shoes, a pair of jeans, and a sturdy t-shirt.  I started to leave when I thought about the possibility of  being wet and cold if anything went drastically wrong. So I grabbed a hoodie. But right next to it was a pretty, lightweight gold cardigan that may be a comfort if I had nothing else. And the sleeveless navy and white polka-dot top that goes with it was hanging nearby, so I snagged that too. Oh, and yoga pants were a must—I couldn’t sleep in jeans, if worse came to worse! With the sirens still ringing the alarm and with my arms now laden with appropriate clothing, I grabbed my favorite coral flats (they don’t sell them anymore!) and dashed back down the stairs.  

When I hit the main floor, it occurred to me that I didn’t want to be without food in the event of an emergency. Bundling the clothes and shoes in a big ball in one arm, I quickly added bread, peanut butter and jelly, and the new box of This Bar Saves Lives granola bars to the stash. Oh, but there wasn’t any water in the basement! A water bottle got tucked beneath my chin.

As I lumbered toward the basement doors, struggling not to drop anything, I spotted my photo album from childhood, filled with all the irreplaceable Kodak moments of yesteryear. Biting my lip as I peered out the living room windows at the angry heavens, I shifted my armload of stuff until I could grasp the album between my elbow and ribs.

As I struggled down the stairs with the things I would need to start a new life, a certain scene from a certain Steve Martin movie suddenly came to mind. And then it hit me: Oh God—I was The Jerk!
"Well I'm gonna to go then! And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need *you*. I don't need anything. Except this. [picks up an ashtray] That's the only thing I need is *this*. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray... And this paddle game. - The ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need... And this remote control. - The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need... And these matches. - The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control, and the paddle ball... And this lamp. - The ashtray, this paddle game, and the remote control, and the lamp, and that's all *I* need. And that's *all* I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one... I need this. - The paddle game and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches for sure. Well what are you looking at? What do you think I'm some kind of a jerk or something! - And this. That's all I need.
[walking outside]
The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, and this magazine, and the chair. And I don't need one other thing, except my dog.
[dog growls at him]
I don't need my dog."
So yeah – I totally failed the emergency response drill. Thank goodness all ended up being well, though a tornado was spotted 5 miles north of me. In the future, I’ll remember that all I need is my healthy self and the dogs. And my computer. And those coral flats.

SO what would YOU grab if your house were about to be destroyed? And be honest – I can’t be the only one who wanted a PB&J!

Monday, June 3, 2013

You've Got a Friend in Me :)

As seen on Lady Scribes blog today

I stumbled across a picture on the internet this week that almost instantly brought tears to my eyes. It was an artist’s rendering of a grown-up Calvin, discovering old Hobbes in a box in the attic. *pauses* *takes fortifying breath* A little verklempt just talking about…

Ahem.  Anyway, it made me think of Toy Story 3, and the tragedy of leaving toys behind as we grow up. Good Lord – I cried SO HARD during that movie. Like, ugly cried. People were edging away.
But, as with many other snifflers out there, there was a good reason for my tears.


Yes, you all know that I am a closet Snoopy lover, and that his little beagle face makes my heart go pitter patter.  But what you don’t know is that love affair started with a foot tall stuffed animal I received somewhere around the first grade.  He was magnificent! Wearing sassy conductor overalls with a handy cutout for his tail, Snoopy was the perfect companion.

He was solid enough to keep my wild, vivid dreams and the occasional nightmares at bay, soft enough to bury my face in his chest and cry, and sturdy enough to follow me on every trip I took.
He followed me on the adventures I took into the woods near our house, and listened to my stories from school. He joined me at my first sleepover, and rode out many a thunderstorm at my side. His fur gradually turned from white to brownish gray, but he was still gorgeous to me. I remember once when we were one a camping trip with my family, and I was gleefully tossing him in the air, trying to see how high he could soar. It was all fun and games until he plummeted back to Earth just out of my reach and landed flat on his face.

I gasped, horrified that I might have hurt him, and gathered him up into my arms. Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the extent of his wounds. The threads holding the shape of his perfect little round, black nose had busted, leaving just a fuzzed out ball of yarn.

My dearest friend, wounded by my own hands. I cradled him gently to my chest, promising to take care of him, to make him whole again. But when I showed him to my mom, she just shook her head sadly. What was done was done, and now we both had to live with it.

From that day on, our relationship changed. I was too scared to take him on trips anymore, for fear that his fraying nose would be further damaged. I no longer felt safe sleeping with him tangled in my arms—what if I hurt him? So I kept him at arm’s length, making sure he could see me when I was near, but never again dragging him on my adventures.

Snoopy in his place of honor, slightly worse for the wear

It wasn’t long after that I realized I was growing up. By then I was nearly ready to make the transition to middle school, and middle schoolers didn’t play with dolls and stuffed animals.

After one last summer with him looking on and me struggling with growing into a young woman, I finally came to terms with what I had to do. So, one late summer day when the house was quiet, I pulled Snoopy into my lap one last time. I rubbed a hand over his matted fur, memorized the feel of it beneath my fingers.  I carefully adjusted his overall straps, making sure they were nice and tidy, and finally turned him around so I could talk to him face to face.

I don’t remember my exact words. Tears flowed down my cheeks, dampening his little feet as they dripped from my jaw. I told him that I loved him, and I always would remember him. I thanked him for being my buddy, and for sharing my childhood with me. I was happier for having known him, and he should be proud of that.

Kissing the top of his head and the end of his ruined nose, I carefully tucked him away in my closet, knowing that nothing would ever be the same.

Oh, the passage of time, my friends. It does seem to move faster than we are ever prepared for, does it not? I’m just glad for the memories that we are left with, and the small but distinct Snoopy-shaped love in my heart that I still carry, nearly 25 years later.

Tell me, did you have a special friend who defined your childhood? Or do your children now cling to their own little buddies?  Tell me I wasn’t the only one balling my eyes out as Woody and Buzz said their final goodbyes to Andy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bending Your Ear

Before I was a writer, I held a job as an environmental specialist that required that I spend hours upon hours traveling from one site to another, cooped up in a cramped truck cab, staring out on the open road.  

Me, somewhere in Alabama :)
For most, this may sound like a form of torture.  No one to talk to, no radio station strong enough to withstand the miles, not even a coworker to be a warm body beside you. But for me, it was bliss.  The very first stop on any road trip was always the same: Cracker Barrel for a book-on-tape and an old-fashioned candy bar.

Both of these were pure indulgence. As the caramel or chocolate or nugget melted in my mouth, my ears tuned to the opening lines of the book on tape, eager to begin.  If the book was particularly good, I’d sometimes find myself sitting in the parking lot of a motel, riveted to the narrator’s often melodic voice, unwilling to leave the cab despite my hours glued to the driver’s seat.  I listened to hundreds of books over the years, some good, some bad, some absolutely amazing. They were my companions on the lonely road—the friends that shortened the miles and made those long, hard days worth it.

Even now, when I rarely hit the road, I still sometimes prefer to have a talented storyteller narrate my favorites to me. Harry Potter just wouldn’t be the same without Jim Dale. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series came alive thanks to Lorelei King’s skilled interpretation. And Stephanie Meyer’s The Host was absolutely mesmerizing thanks to Kate Reading’s compelling narration.

So I must say, it is with GREAT excitement that I announce my latest news: MORE THAN A STRANGER will soon be available as an audio book! The brilliant and talented Alison Larkin is lending her gorgeous voice to bring Evie and Benedict’s story to life, and I couldn’t be more pleased :)  
So, dear readers, keep an eye out come June 24th . . . as for me, it looks like a road trip is in order!!

Find it on Amazon

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

RT Convention Wrap up

**As seen on Lady Scribes today**

Like Jane, I am absolutely exhausted after the incredible whirlwind that is RT. My, oh my, how I wish my pre-author self could have seen the people I would be hobnobbing with some day—I think I would have died of squee. The best part of it all is that everyone I meet at these conventions are all just so darn nice.

I've always been a bit of an introverted extrovert (make sense?), but it wasn't until I was so beautifully accepted into the fold of the romance community that I really became comfortable in my own skin. These women (and men!) are so lovely and supporting, it makes it easy to walk up to them and introduce yourself. So without further ado, here is my convention, told in pictures in the order in which they were taken.

My very first panel!! With Elizabeth Hoyt, Laura Kinsale, (me), Eileen Dryer, Delilah Marvelle, and Renee Bernard. It. Was. AWESOME.

Me and my buddy, Laura Kinsale (squeak!)

The ever refined and elegant Heather Snow and me in our room before the Rosie Gulch Mixer :)

Out to dinner with the Lady Scribes! Julie Johnstone, Samantha Grace, moi, Jane Charles, Catherine Gayle, and Hanna Martine

Hanging in the lobby with Maire Claremont and Delilah Marvelle

Sneaking a selfie during a nice chat with Heather, Elizabeth, Renee, Maire, and Delilah (what? I want proof I know these talented women!)

On top of the world (make that Kansas City) with Sabrina Jeffries and Heather

Having a great chat with Tracy Brogan, Elizabeth Essex, and Ashlyn Macnamara

I'm sitting amongst a mass of quivering fangirls for Jude Deveraux and Julie Garwood's chat. Okay, so maybe I was quivering too ;)


Ashlyn, Valerie Bowman, me, and Heather are up to some trouble, I'm sure.

Kimberly Kincaid, Tracy, Sara Ramsey, and Jennifer McQuiston enjoying some quality time at the bar. We all met as aspiring authors when we finaled in the Golden Heart contest :)

Me and PJ Schnyder rocking the historical ball. Honestly, it takes exactly NO prodding to get me to dress up ;)

JUDE DEVERAUX!!!! (I may still be shaking following this encounter)

Me and my historical buddies at the Giant Book Fair: Shana Galen, Vicky Dreiling, and Kieran Kramer - what fun! 

MARY BALOGH!!! (I think I scared her a little)

 And at long last, me and Mr. Knightley on the way home after he picked me up from the airport :)

So who is your favorite author you've met? Or who would you most like to meet?  Would you be a quivering mess, or all cool and collected? (Don't lie - we all know it'd be the former!)

Monday, April 1, 2013


Did you know, dear reader, that I love you? Well I do!  

Need proof?  Well, here you go:

What's this, you ask?  No, it's not an April Fool's joke this is my super secret, surprise treat just for you

RUINED BY A RAKE is a novella that I whipped up purely on a whim. It is a fun, flirty read meant to fill the gap until my next novel, FLIRTING WITH FORTUNE, releases in September :)

It's available right now (or within the week for some of the slower e-book retailers), and the best part?

It's only 99 cents!!  

So what do you say - are you excited?! I know I am! And look who gave it his seal of approval: 

Okay, not really - but I like to think Mr. Darcy would be quietly pleased ;) 

Now go forth and enjoy!  

PS - Want to help spread the word? 3 random people will win signed copies of A TASTE FOR SCANDAL on Twitter today (04/01/13) - all you have to do is retweet one of my tweets that have the #AprilFunDay hashtag. Good luck!

It started with a kiss.

When nine-year-old Eleanor Abbington first met her uncle’s new stepson, Nicolas Norton, the boy rudely stole a kiss from her that set the tone for their contentious and competitive relationship. It wasn’t until years later when Nick introduced her to fencing that they finally had a proper outlet for their frequent arguments.

Having just emerged from mourning following her mother’s death, Eleanor is exactly where she wishes to be at the age of four-and-twenty: an on-the-shelf spinster and unofficial companion to her aunt. Unfortunately, her ambitious uncle has other plans for her future. On the eve of his house party, he lays down his ultimatum: either Eleanor marries the man of his choosing, or he'll force her seventeen-year-old sister to do so instead.

When Nick unexpectedly arrives on their doorstep after a two year absence, Eleanor is in no mood for their normal banter. Seeming to know exactly what she needs, Nick challenges her to pick up the foil once more. During their pre-dawn matches, he shows her just how strong she can be . . . and exactly how much he’s changed since leaving. But when her old adversary becomes her only ally, she may very well find herself . . . Ruined by a Rake.

  iTunes version coming soon!

And just because I can, here is an excerpt just for you :)

The swishing of razor thin metal through cool air soothed Eleanor in much the way harp music calmed the music lover, or fine wine pleased the connoisseur. In the early morning gloom, damp fog was her cover, the dim promise of sunrise her only light. She moved forward swiftly, danced backwards, and thrust again. Nothing but mist met her blade, though she couldn’t help but imagine her uncle’s chest at the end of her buttoned tip.

“Your form is terrible, cousin.”

Eleanor gasped at the sudden pronouncement, and swung around, her rapier extended. Nicolas’s smiling face was inches from her blade. He didn’t even have the decency to flinch, drat the man. “Even my worst form would be miles better than yours.”

Leaning back against the crumbing ruins of the old abbey wall, he nodded solemnly. “I agree wholeheartedly. Unless, of course, we are speaking of fencing. If that is the case, allow me to clear up your misconceptions.”

She didn’t relax. The way she was feeling this morning, she could happily take her meddling step-cousin’s head right off. “Sounds like a challenge to me. Have you come prepared?”

Though they used to meet frequently for these clandestine matches, it had been over two years since their last one. As much as he was a thorn in her side, she would be forever grateful to him for teaching her the sport. It had started as a lark, but had quickly evolved to their favorite form of communication, taking their verbal sparring and converting it into proper duals.

Stepping back, he whipped his own sword up to clang against hers, making an X of the two weapons. “But of course. I wouldn’t dare meet anyone at dawn unarmed, least of all you, dear Ellie.”

She rolled her eyes, sending a brief glance heavenward before meeting his gaze. His amused gaze. Of course. Everything was a game to him.

“En guard,” she commanded, planting her feet more firmly and extending her left hand behind her for balance. “And don’t call me Ellie.”

“As you wish, my sweet.” He paused for a moment, pursing his lips, then backed up a step. “By the way, I’m very sorry about your mother. I know I said as much in my letter, but it was a damn shame.”

She blinked, taken aback by his quiet words. Sincere words. Leave it to Nick to throw her off kilter.  She swallowed against the sadness that rose from deep within her, letting her gaze fall to the rocky ground. “Thank you,” she said, nodding twice before looking back up. “I’m very glad to have Aunt Margaret, at least.”

She smiled tightly, willing him to move on from the topic. This gentle side of him she kept catching glimpses of unnerved her. She didn’t quite know what to make of the changes she saw in him.

As if sensing her desire, he repositioned his blade, tapping it lightly against hers. “Shall we?”

“Do you think you can keep up?” she asked, lifting a brow in challenge.

Below his morning scruff, his lips curled in his signature grin. She let out a relieved breath—they were back on familiar ground. He knew it drove her mad when he gave her that self-satisfied smile, which meant he was rarely without it. “Now, do try to be nice. It’s been weeks since I’ve had a proper match.”

Before the last word had even left his mouth, she lunged forward, going straight for his gut. He flitted backwards, parrying her move and striking forward with one of his own. His foil slapped against her right shoulder.

She gritted her teeth, not so much against the sting of the hit as the sting to her pride. He was toying with her, damn him. “Two years in the militia and that’s all you’ve got?” She tsked as they both got back into position. After the awfulness that was last night’s dinner, this was exactly what she needed.

“Taking it easy on an old gal like you.”

“Old gal? I’m all of two years older than you, thank you very much.” She engaged him once more, darting forth with lightning speed and poking his ribs with a sound thump.

“Ow,” he laughed, slapping her foil away with his own. “Careful, that’s tender young flesh. You’ve likely forgotten how delicate youthful skin can be.”

She bit her bottom lip to keep from grinning. He was always such a pest. For that little quip, he earned himself a slap across his gloved hand. “Sorry, did that hurt? You’re right; I can hardly remember what such a hit feels like. Though it’s less from my advanced age and more from a lack of a proper opponent.”

“Ah, you’ve missed me. Should I come home more often then? Clearly you are in want of my company if it is a proper opponent you seek.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Into the Wormhole

As seen on LadyScribes today

So, some of you may have heard earlier this week that the earth tilted on its axis. Although I am a scientist by training, I will do my best to explain the root cause for this rather unexpected phenomenon in a way that any layman can understand.
You see, it all started with a Facebook post. Observe, Exhibit A:
“That moment, when you suddenly realize that Ralph Macchio is now the same age as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid.”

I’ll pause here for those of you who are hearing this bit of news for the first time.    
*Folds hands and waits patiently* 
*discretely hands over a box of Kleenex*
Better now? No? Well, ME NEITHER!! What in the name of all that's sacred in this world is going on? Surely we have just stumbled upon some sort of freak tear in the time/space continuum, which has caused this wholly premature turn of events. Surely, SURELY the kid who stole no less than half the hearts of Gen-Xers (the other half belonging to men) is not older than Steve Carell is now, or worse, older than Rue MeClanahan was when she first appeared on Golden Girls. THE GOLDEN GIRLS!

I gotta be honest—I'm not handling this well. It's not that I think 51 is old—50's are the new 30's!—it's just that I can't possibly reconcile the fact that so much time has elapsed since he was going all flamingo-like on the bow of the boat, or resentfully waxing-on, waxing-off the lot full of old cars in Mr. Miyogi's backyard. 
You know, it's like that moment when you realize your friend's kid is old enough to drive, or your nephew is now tall enough to look down on you when you're standing side by side. Time, it just keeps marching on, does it not?
So, after the earth tilted and we all scrambled to reorient ourselves in a world where Mr. Miyagi is about to be Daniel-san's junior, I sat back and consoled myself with these three things:
1) The movie will always transport me back in time when I need a hit of nostalgia
2) My present is pretty darn awesome. I'm happy with the way I filled the intervening years
3) Ralph Macchio is still pretty darn adorable

Now, should any of these fail to be true sometime in the future, I'm sure you'll hear from me again. Fair warning ;) 

So tell me, who was your teen heartthrob? Did you ever have a moment when you realized he wasn't the young hunk you one fell in love with?
Now, I leave you with these wise, wise words:
Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.  
*nods sagely*