Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Release!

I'm excited to announce my new release, Scandalous L.A. Desires. It's a contemporary fusion of a traditional romance (think Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss) spiced with very steamy love scenes.

The book is my second release from Red Rose Publishing, and it's a long one! I was surprised to open the PDF version and find 560 pages. If you like a long book, with a solid secondary character plot, you'll like this one.

Here's the blurb:

Lindsey Beauden earned her reputation as a conservative philanthropist and upstanding member of Los Angeles society. Artist Dante Daniato earned his reputation as one of LA’s most charming and eligible bachelors. Opposites attract, and when they meet at a gala fundraiser at the Getty Museum, the red-hot chemistry is immediate and intense. But an anonymous letter alerts Lindsey to the scandalous life Dante leads. When the board of her family foundation condemns his notoriety and withholds funding from the inner city art program he’s involved in, she cannot risk linking her name to his. She dissuades him despite the desire that shimmers through her at his every touch.

Intrigued, Dante finds her rejection a challenge and pursues her, intent on seduction. When he unexpectedly falls for the selfless beauty, she surrenders to him, and their hunger for sensual pleasures awakens the beast in him, and the vixen in her. But a sexy publicity stunt humiliates Lindsey and implicates Dante, and their perfect world is torn apart. Lindsey will not believe Dante when he swears his innocence, and he leaves the country, angry and distraught. When she uncovers the truth, she must follow him to Italy to beg his forgiveness, but has her distrust destroyed his love for her?

An excerpt from one of my favorite scenes:

An hour later, the sun dropped close to the horizon. Lindsey stood and said goodbye to her friends even though things were just starting to get wild. She was evidently not much of a partier. He liked that.

Dante had to move fast to intercept her. He got up and walked down the beach, glancing at the huge estates he passed. An overturned wooden boat lay near the water, and he sat on it, waiting for her. He'd never gone so far out of his way for a woman and he felt capricious, like a lovesick teenager.

The sun dipped half under the ocean horizon when he spotted her coming toward him. The feminine way she walked—this evening in sandals, the evening of the gala in heels—very sexy.

He could tell the moment she saw him, and then the moment of relief when she recognized him.

She stopped in front of him. “Hello again.”

“Taking a stroll?”
“No, I live a few houses down. But,” she tilted her head, “you already knew that, didn't you.” She crossed her arms in front of her.
“Guilty. But you can't blame me for wanting to talk to you alone. Especially after I was rude. Again.” Dante brushed sand off the boat. “Will you sit a moment and enjoy the sunset?”
Lindsey looked at him, looked at the sunset, and sighed. The ocean breeze fluttered loose hairs around her face and he forgot to inhale for a few seconds. Exquisite.
She backed up a step. “I really should be going. I have a busy day tomorrow and I have a few things to review tonight.”
“Please, allow me to walk you home.”
She hesitated. Was she coming up with a valid reason to say no? “It's just a short way.” She started walking and he had to jog to catch up. She kept her arms crossed.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“A little.”
“I don't have a jacket, but I could put my arm around you, if you'd like.”
She looked at him as they walked. The setting sun colored her face, a flawless painting come to life.
“I'm not really that cold, but thank you for the offer.” The misty look in her eyes drew him in even though she chose words to keep him away. “And not because you make me nervous,” she said with a half-smile.
“Lindsey, I apologize for that.” Another apology. When was he going to find his footing with this woman? “It was impolite.”
“No, please don't apologize. It's just that I'm not used to someone so…” she rolled her hands in the air looking for the right word.
“Forward?” he offered.
“Mmmm, aggressive. And you seem to be so…”
She laughed, but corrected, “Flirty.”
“I'm not sure I like being called flirty,” he teased, wanting to keep the conversation going.
She stopped walking, and smiled as she asked, “What would you call your suggestive language?”
He took a step toward her, his eyes locking with hers in the receding light. God, he wanted her in his arms. “I would call it effective, since you seem to be so aware of it.”
The smile left her face and her gaze dropped to his lips, but before he could reach out, she took a quick step backward.
“This is me.” She pointed to the estate behind her and turned and walked toward it.
Over the stone wall stood a long, single-level house with a lot of glass. A uniformed guard stepped out of a small structure and used a key to unlock the gate.
Dante followed her. “You have security?”
She stopped at the gate. “Yes, my father's idea. He doesn't like my living alone.”
This wasn't her family's home? She owned this? Every minute he spent with her, she amazed him.
She extended her hand. “Goodnight and thank you again for the statue.”
He took her hand, feeling her cold fingers. How could he get inside her fortress and warm them? “I would love to see where you placed her.”
“Absolutely,” she answered, grinning. “Next time I have a party I'll be sure to send you an invitation.”
“Ah. I can take a hint. Goodnight, Lindsey.”
The guard closed the gate behind her and waited for him to leave.
Dante turned to go, and shrugged. “I love a challenge.”
The guard replied, “Good luck, Romeo.”
You can read the first chapter at my website.

Thank you for stopping by today. I loved sharing a bit of my new book with you, and I hope you enjoyed the excerpt.

Scandalous L.A. Desires is available at Red Rose Publishing

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Simplicity of Romance

One of the things that I like about romance is the fact it is timeless and can happen to any one of us, not just the larger-than-life heroes and heroines we create as romance authors. We don't need to be wealthy, we don't need to be ready to tackle demons, we don't need to be damsels in distress. We can be ourselves and still experience ourselves.

Which is a concept that got me thinking, and put me at a place where I wanted to write a normal romance. Not too much baggage, no dark secrets bogging the hero and heroine down, just an everyday experience.

So I did some more thinking, and used a bit of my former life experiences to put together an idea. I used to work for a gaming company, designing games. Let me tell you... people who love (truly love) computers are some of the most normal people you can find. Sometimes they can be flat-out boring. And, I don't know a computer gamer who isn't addicted to his or her work, to the point that the world can go by and they won't be aware until they're left looking after it.

Which took me to Mason, and my contemporary novella that releases TOMORROW! -- Misunderstanding Mason.

While Mason wouldn't be on the cover of Cosmopolitan or even Forbes, he's successful and respected in his own circle. Kirstin's always been behind her man, always seen the hero that her computer graphic designer man is.... Until... a little bit of real life gets in their way.

Sometimes the most vivid pictures go unseen...

When Kirstin Jones agreed to work with her live-in boyfriend, Mason, on a free-lance job for a wealthy client, she never thought it might destroy their relationship. But the client’s keen observations show her that she’s been little more than Mason’s shadow. Fed up with his insensitivities, she moves out. Weeks later, desperate to stand on her own, she accepts work with the same client once again. Only this time, the project requires Mason’s help. To obtain his aid, she must meet his terms. And what he wants is more than she can afford

Mason Montgomery is baffled by Kirstin’s claims that he never had time for her. While verbalizing his emotions has never been his strong point, he’s spent five years showing his love. He needs Kirstin more than he wants to admit. When she leaves him, he’ll stop at nothing to get her back, even if it means working with the client who twisted truths and tore his life apart.

I hope those of you who can appreciate the simplicity of love, will stop and check out Misunderstanding Mason. And for those of you who've ever had a misunderstanding with your loved one, and know how troublesome those can be, this is definitely a story you can relate to!

See you all next month!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Glenys O'Connell says: It's scary being a writer!

Of all the things that cause a writer's heart to thump a little harder in a 'help me!' kind of way, being recognised is certainly one of them. Maybe we dream of being in the New York Times top 100, but that's an arms' length kind of recognition - the true test comes when you're actually facing your readers in person or online, chatting about writing or signing your books. That's when you have to emerge from the safety of your shell and actually interact with the people you're writing for.
For most of us, when you first begin writing, it's your own local community that picks up the scent first.
The first time I was introduced as a 'local celebrity' I had to grin foolishly later through many teasing greetings of : 'Oh, look - it's Miss Local Celebrity!' when I met friends and neighbours. This was sometimes yelled across crowded restaurants or from the other side of the street, causing strangers to turn around and stare.
Maybe they were hoping to see a Beyonce or LaCruz but no, it was just a matronly type in paint stained jeans and a faintly distracted expression. Me. Sometimes they looked puzzled, some would actually ask who I was and what I did.....oh, blush!
Of course, there's a point where you've got to get over yourself and learn to accept the 'local celebrity status' as a compliment. It's one of the hardest lessons I've learned, being naturally shy and all. I find it hard to talk about my writing - although I'll yammer on all day about writing in general. Teaching creative writing classes was such fun because it let me talk for a couple of hours several times a week to people who were as interested in writing as I am.
But talking about my writing on a personal level, well, I still find that hard. I think one watershed for recovery from the terminally tongue-tied state that put me in was when the local ladies book club decided to read my second novel, Winters & Somers, as their book-of-the-month. Lord, I was so flattered by that - it was perhaps the first time I felt I was really taken seriously as a writer, by myself as well as people whose educated opinions I respected. And I managed to chat away about the book and answer questions without becoming a shrinking violet - good practice for book signings!
The rural area I live in is noted for its excellent artists and craftspeople, many of whom I admire for their work. It came as something of a shock to realise, once my first novel (Judgement By Fire, from Red Rose Press, available in print on Amazon!) was published, that my friends and neighbours locally were really supportive of what I was doing, and as proud of the 'local writer' as they were of the many artists here. It was a real boost to my self confidence, especially as the encouragement (along with the teasing) grew as my later novels were published. And bought locally, too.
So this weekend I donated four of my novels to a local fundraising auction. And when the auctioneer started: "We are proud to have so many creative people in this area, and in particular, for the past two years, a writer...." I blushed just a little.
But I was proud and grateful for the compliment.

Glenys O'Connell is currently working on a romantic suspense series about a counselor who attracts more than her share of nutzoids, and a book on creative writing coming in September. Her work has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Red Rose Press (what is this with roses?) She also writes non-fiction, with her latest book, PTSD: The Essential Guide,  also due out in September. If you still want more, you can find her at her web site: Romance Can Be murder,; on Twitter at; Facebook at She also hangs around other blogs while trying to escape the voices in her head.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Romance of Roses

I'm Stephanie Burkhart and here is what I've learned about roses.

Throughout the years the rose has always been a symbol of love for many different cultures, but it also has multiple meanings. It was such a delight to research this topic and discover how important the rose has been throughout history.

The rose is universally known and important in many different cultures. It is a symbol of beauty, romance, secrecy, elegance, and even life itself.

The rose can be dated as far back to the Egyptians in 3000 BC. They built elaborate gardens dedicated to roses and used them to make funeral wreaths, as well. For the Egyptians, the rose meant life itself.

Roses grew in Babylon, too. In 576 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II cultivated roses next to the Euphrates River to entice the mountain princess nearby to become his wife.

Greek myths accentuate the rose. Aphrodite sprung from the foam of the sea and where she landed, white roses grew, representing purity and innocence. Red roses came symbolic of how purity changes to motherhood through blood. The Greeks also found medicinal uses for roses using them in perfumes in which they believed illnesses were kept at bay.

The Roman latched onto Greek myths and Egyptian uses, incorporating them into their society. Rose wreathes were awarded as a mark of military success. Rose petals were scattered for the victors at games. Roses also decorated Roman funerals and tombs.

After the fall of Rome, Christianity incorporated the rose into their works and symbolism. Monks grew them in their gardens for medicinal purposes. Interestingly, they believed that a person possessed by a demon could not stand the smell of roses.

In the 12th Century, the rose became associated with ideals of chivalric love. Rose gardens were a place for lovers to meet, as the fragrance was as attractive as the romance they embodied.

Historical Note: Napoleon's wife, Josephine, often carried roses that she used to cover her black teeth when she spoke.

Today, the giving of a red rose is a gesture of deep, romantic love, immortalized in movies, literature, and song. I'd love to hear what movie, story, or song involving roses deeply touched your heart. Share your rose stories today.

Victorian Scoundrel
Bio: Stephanie Burkhart's latest release is a steampunk romance, "Victorian Scoundrel." Set in 1851 during the Great Exhibition, Alice Windsor is in for a ton of mischief when she falls for Grayson, Earl Swinton, a man from the past.



REVIEWS: 5 Stars, Readers Favorites, Molly E:
I have never read a Steam Punk novel before, but because of her fantastic writing, her engaging plot line, and fun loving characters, it will NOT be the last. I highly recommend this with highest of 5 stars, and I can't wait until the second Windsor Diaries installment releases!

5 Stars, Tami Dee, Author of the Mists of Time Series:
Stephanie Burkhart has a fresh, quick, quirky, inventive imagination and she gives the readers of Victorian Scoundrel a delightful mixture of all of the above!

Pen and Muse, Barbara, Reviewer:
A wonderful historical, paranormal steampunk. This new series is going to be a big hit. She has me hooked. A must read.

There was a knock on the door. Alice frowned. She placed her Jane Austen book open- faced over her sketches along with her glasses and ran to the door, opening it.


He stood before her wearing a white shirt and a brown vest, his powerfully set shoulders his most dominating feature. She bit her lower lip, trying to quell the uncomfortable warmth that surged within her.

"Alice." He paused, his intense hazel-brown eyes feathering over her. "I hope I didn't interrupt you."

"Not at all. Come in." Was she crazy inviting him into her room? She must be, as she opened the door wider and Grayson walked in. Restless energy sparked off him. His expression smoldered with desire.

No, this wasn't crazy. It was dangerous.

"Getting ready for bed?" he asked.

She pursed her lips, her willpower growing weaker by the moment. "Yes."

"What did you think of the gas heater?"

"Ingenious, but I have no idea how to operate it."

"Let me show you."

He walked into the water closet, Alice behind him. The tub was full of water. Grayson took the matches on the nearby shelf and lit a wick on the heater. A small fire came to life under the metal tub.

He turned to face her. "I usually watch it for five minutes. Then I shut it off using this valve." He pointed to the heater.

"Thank you for showing me." She could barely think a coherent thought as she drank in his features, chiseled cheeks, handsome face, smoldering...

"Thank you again for the pen. I promise to treasure it."


He cupped her cheek, leaning close to her. "I missed you terribly this week."

"Terribly?" she choked out.

"I thought the distance would help me sort out my feelings."

A small smile tipped the corners of her mouth. "I thought the same thing."

"And, did it?" he asked.

She swallowed, unable to deny the flames between them. Her heart was overruling her head on this one. "No, not at all. I missed you."

His mouth claimed hers, hungry, hard, ravishing her with a soul-shattering kiss.

The future be damned. Spirals of ecstasy assaulted her body, warming her, thrilling her. She wanted the here and now.

Grayson placed his hands on her waist and walked with her until her back was against the wall. His mouth claimed hers with full, firm lips. She threaded her fingers into his wavy hair, pulling him toward her. He groaned. His lips left hers. She felt the heady sensation of his mouth now against her neck and moaned.

"I want you," he whispered, his voice low and husky.

"Oh, Grayson..."

He tore himself away from her neck and looked into her eyes. A spark of deep, indefinable emotion was in his expression. "It doesn't matter where you come from, Alice. All I know is that I can't fight my attraction to you anymore. I don't want to. It's sudden and quick and I feel so damn alive when I'm with you. Let me court you."

The shock of his request froze her limbs. She wasn't expecting this. He was everything she wanted in a man, secure in himself, who cared for others and his surroundings. He wanted to be with her because of who she was, not her riches or titles, at least not ones in this time, but all she could give him was heartbreak. She couldn't stand herself. Why did she have to let her heart rule her mind when it came to Grayson?

Find me at my website: Stephanie Burkhart

Twitter: StephBurkhart

Join me at my Facebook Fan Page:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A ROMANTIC STORY by Vonnie Davis

We’ve been talking about romance all month. What fun we’ve had approaching this topic from different angles. Each post has been fresh, interesting and passionate. But then, what else would romance writers be so passionate about? Romance is our thing, after all.

We deal with happy endings. A marriage proposal. A wedding. A heartfelt declaration of love. The birth of a baby.

Let’s talk about proposals, shall we? These are moments for our men to shine. Some guys are nervous in the spotlight. Most are busy planning, eager to witness the look of shock on the face of the woman they love when they pop the question.

We’ve all heard tales of marriage proposals on electronic scoreboards at sporting events or in hot air balloons or on banners flying behind airplanes. You have to give points to a guy who wants the moment to be something his lady will always remember.

Take my youngest son, for instance. Mike was a single dad, raising his son on his own. Ryan was 14 months old when his mother moved on for reasons of her own. And, just like Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Mike, once a football captain, learned to tackle housework, career, daycare and pottie training. This body builder was the Kindergarten Room Father who baked cupcakes for special events and took time off work as a Safety Engineer to attend special events at Ryan’s daycare and, later, his school.
Mike holding a pose at Natural Body Building Show in Maryland.
Then one day at work, Mike went to an employees’ health fair and stopped dead in his tracks. A dark-haired beauty was taking blood samples for cholesterol checks. He peeled his tongue from the roof of his mouth and headed for her table. I should probably interject here that Mike, bruiser that he is, has fainted since childhood when jabbed with a needle. Need I say more? I mean what a way to meet your future husband. Poke needle in finger. Watch big guy keel over. Don’t ‘cha love it?

Mike asked her out to lunch one day. He told her he’d like to ask her out on a date, but felt she needed to know that his son was his first priority. Could she handle that? Tina, without batting an eye, told him her family was her first priority. And if he wanted to date her, he and his son would have to attend church every Sunday with her and her family. Could he handle that?

After a year of dating, Mike wanted to propose. He went to her father, who’s very protective of his daughters, and asked for his permission. He also asked Ron, her dad, if he’d like to go along to help pick out the diamond. Ron was thrilled. The two guys went shopping.

Mike also talked to Tina’s mom, a delightful, warm-hearted woman. He told her his idea, and with a twinkle in her eye, she reached for the telephone. You see, Mike felt if Tina’s family was important to her, he wanted her whole family present when he proposed. Naturally her parents were eager to share in the big moment.

A couple weeks later, Tina’s two aunts from Florida came for a visit and brought Grandma along. Grandma was suffering from bone cancer, but she wanted to be a part of this proposal party, as everyone was secretly calling it. Tina’s mom and her sisters began cooking a big family feast. Tina never suspected a thing as the whole family gathered. After all, her grandma and aunts had come for a visit. Her mom encouraged Tina to invite Calvin and me to meet her ailing Grandma. So we were there to witness the big moment, too.

Over wine and appetizers, laughter and conversation, Tina’s mom handed her her mail—a car insurance bill and a card. “Open the card,” Tina’s mom encouraged. “I love getting cards. Who’s it from?”

Tina sat on a barstool between the kitchen and dining room where everyone was gathered (waiting). She tugged a Happy 50th anniversary card from the envelope. “Oh, this isn’t for me.” She examined the envelope again. “It’s addressed to me, but…”

“Read it,” her mother prompted. “Maybe we can tell from the sender’s message who it’s really for.”

Tina began reading the note out loud. “Tina, thank you for fifty great years of marriage. We’ve made so many special memories. Like the way I fainted at your feet the first time I saw you. And the fun we had taking Ryan to the park every day after work. Or the cruise we went on for our honeymoon. But mostly, I remember how beautiful you were the night I proposed to you in front of your entire family.”

By now Mike was on his knee in front of her holding out a ring. The house erupted into cheers and laughter.

Tina’s dad will swear till this day that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, except for five-year old Ryan who crawled up on Tina’s lap and said, “You’re supposed to say yes.” After she answered and Mike slipped on the ring, Ryan said, “Boy, am I glad that’s over. It was hard to keep this big secret Miz Tina. Daddy said if I told you, he’d hang me up by my peeper.”

The three became a family a year later. Tina, who cannot have children, not only got a loving husband, but an adoring son.

Look at Ryan staring up at his new Mom.
 And that, folks, is my romantic story of the day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just pretend I'm here ...

This is one of those phantom blog posts. I'm out of town today, away from my computer, so I created this post last week. I apologize in advance if you comment and I don't reply -- I'm not here, not really.

It's been one thing after another in the month of August. I'm looking forward to flipping the calendar just in hopes that my string of odd luck changes. Note I don't say "Bad luck." I'm relatively healthy, in a nice home, and have a job I like and a spare job, writing, that I like. All of that makes me lucky. But lately I've had ups-and-downs: we sold our house but the buyer is now griping about 'hidden defects' (don't get me started). We bought a new house and had a few unexpected repairs. A co-worker is ill so I've had to pick up her workload at a very crucial, deadline-stressed moment.

I haven't been able to get much (if any) writing done. I've fallen back on the old "refill the creative well" thought -- maybe time away from my writing will help me come back with a fresh perspective. Part of the problem is that I'm a creature of habit, and all my habits have changed: I no longer go to the office, I telecommute. I'm actually working longer hours (big deadlines, you know), so I don't get "free time" until later at night. And by then, I'm tired and don't want to write.

So I'm looking ahead of September and the change of seasons, change of the calendar. I have set a goal for myself: on the day after Labor Day, I will settle into a new routine of working and writing. By then, we'll be mostly settled in our new house and I should be able to get my head back into fiction. Until then, I'll edit, consider new ideas, and try to stay caught up on blogs.

I feel the same way about writing romance -- in previous books it was easy to integrate the romance into the story. But in my current WIP, there are 2 romances: one in the past (and that really drives the motivation for the hero) and one tentative-almost romance in the present. This book isn't really about the romance. It's about the aftermath of romance, I guess. So it's been tough to write for me. But I'm determined that in September I'll sit down and writ. I know the story -- I just have to get those words on the page!

So just pretend I'm here ... someday, I really will be!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where in the World are your Characters?

Amazon Connection
Please welcome our guest, Carol Henry.

I’m excited to be here today to talk about my favorite part of writing, “Where in the World are your Characters.” As an international traveler to exotic locations, I turned to sharing my romantic adventures by writing travel features for many of the major cruise lines, as well as travelogues for smaller presses. As an avid romance reader, I realized I could share my travels with romance readers like myself. When I started writing Amazon Connection (my first romantic suspense adventure), it started out as a contemporary romance. It was like eating milquetoast. Something was missing.

Have you ever read a book where you’re ‘told’ your characters are in another country? They mention the country, a town, or city maybe once or twice in the book, but that’s all. There is never any other mention of the country, or any description of the location throughout the entire book to give you an idea of where in the world your characters really are. Maybe it’s the travel writer in me, but I suddenly realized I was trying to write like other writers. I needed to enhance my stories by having my characters not only pit themselves against each other and the villain, but their environment as well. Damn. I’ve done that walk in the rainforest. Path? What Path? I did the alligator hunting at midnight with a full moon and glistening water hibiscus scene where the small outboard motor conked out leaving me stranded. I’ve seen those bird-eating spiders crawl out of their nests in the ground, anacondas stretched to full length, and the small villages and indigenous people in the back of beyond close up and personal. I decided that Amazon Connection would be much more interesting to have my heroine have to deal with all this, especially if she’s afraid of things that go bump in the night!

So, I asked myself, why in the world would I not share all these wonderful, exciting, romantic experiences with my readers, while revealing my character’s inner strengths and weaknesses through their interaction and reaction to their surroundings. Give them a chance to overcome some of their insecurities, weaknesses, become more humble, and even fall in love against all the odds. And, let the reader know just where in the world their characters are.

Featured title: Amazon Connection
Shanghai Connection coming soon!
Available: The Wild Rose Press
Author Web site:

Follow Carol on Facebook


Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Romance – what a huge word with more meanings than I can fit in one short blog. What romance is to you may depend on your age, sex, life experiences, imagination and probably even your I.Q., to name a few variables. No two people would totally agree. And the widest chasm will be between men and women.

Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes. There's too much fraternizing with the enemy.-- Henry Kissinger

In our romance stories, heroes know all the right words to say. They’re strong, yet fragile and certainly in tune to foreplay. And I don’t mean the physical kind, although they’re over achievers there, too. True foreplay starts hours or weeks ahead of time and melts a woman at his feet. Women understand sex and romance are not necessarily synonymous.

I'm always looking for meaningful one night stands.

-- Dudley Moore

As we mature, our view of romance may not change but the gestures that send our hearts soaring may. Flowers gave me flutters as a girl; a single compliment warms me now.

An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.

-- Agatha Christie

So here’s to romance in all its many forms. Whatever the word means to you, whatever gesture sets the butterflies fluttering, whatever glance sends your heart soaring and whatever caress prickles your flesh with goose bumps – it’s all good.

Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best.

-- Woody Allen

Be sure to check out Brenda’s novel, Sleeping with the Lights On. At fifty, with two marriages behind her, Sandra’s still searching and discovering. And a handsome country crooner may help her with a stalker, a millionaire and a secret admirer.

Contact Brenda:

Brenda's Web Page
Brenda on Facebook

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Margaret Tanner adding her take on Romance Awareness month.
All stories of love lost and found are touching.  For sheer poignancy, nothing can compare with a love story set against a background of war. Picture it, a young woman farewelling her man as he marches off to battle. Fear and pride in her heart. Only God knows his destiny. Is there a bullet with his name written on it, waiting for him in some foreign field? Are memories all she will have to comfort her in the long lonely years ahead? Maybe a faded photograph of a young soldier who never reached his full potential, because he bought freedom with his blood?
The following scene comes from my novel, Wild Oats, which was an EPICON 2010 Finalist.

The year is 1914, just prior to Tommy Calvert’s embarkation for the 1st World War. On their honeymoon, he and Allison attended a dance.

The lights dimmed when the Tango was introduced. Every man in the ballroom held his partner close. This dance had made the Palais ballroom notorious. Evil, depraved and immoral, were a few of the descriptive words printed by the newspapers, but Allison liked it. Even though neither she nor Tommy could dance, they copied the antics of others, and laughed and clapped as much as anyone.

The tempo of the place quietened when the saxophones in the band started up to accompany the man who sang, “If you were the only girl in the world, and I was the only boy...” They stood close together, listening, until it finished.

“Let’s leave now,” Tommy said, and Allison waited near the door as he went to collect her coat. He helped her into it, took her hand and they left.

Instead of making for the train station, Tommy led her towards the beach. It was a cool night, with dark clouds scudding across the sky. Like thousands of glow-worms, the stars twinkled. The breeze blowing straight in off the sea smelt moist and salty, the sand soft beneath her feet.

They didn’t speak as they strolled away from the lighted Palais. Except for the muted sound of the waves, silence reigned on the beach, and Allison felt as if they were the last two people left in the world.

Tommy stopped and drew her close. “I love you, Allison.” He started whistling the tune. “If you were the only girl in the world, and I was the only boy,” softly in her ear and she leaned her head against his chest.

A magic spell cocooned them. She didn’t want to speak, lest the spell be broken. Some instinct from deep within warned her this moment, once it disappeared, would never come again. She closed her eyes to shut out everything except Tommy’s nearness.
Meanwhile, twelve thousand miles across the sea, German artillery pounded French villages into oblivion.

 Wild Oats is published by The Wild Rose Press

Monday, August 22, 2011

Squeaking In To Say Hello

Hi everyone! I'm Claire, and I'm one of the newer Roses on the vine. I'm very excited to be here. There's a lot of great talent on this blog, a lot of even greater people, and I look forward to the future with these fine ladies.

So, I guess this is where I talk about me huh? I hate talking about me. But we'll give it a whirl.

I was published in 2008, with my first book, Seduction's Stakes, at The Wild Rose Press. I wrote it on a dare, more or less, with surprising results, and that began my publishing career in Contemporary Romance -- which was nowhere in my line of sight when I began writing. I was firmly rooted in historical with a bunch of zany paranormal authors critiqing me. (Zany authors who went on to become my closest friends, I must add.)

I write paranormal, contemporary and historical as Claire Ashgrove. I also write under the pen name Tori St. Claire. I have several releases coming from August to January, and I hope you'll check them out. Misunderstanding Mason is a novella coming this month. Immortal Hope is my passion, the culmination of a year of research, and it comes out in January.

I'm a chocoholic, a tad horse-crazy, and when I'm not writing I'm chasing my two young boys around our farm. Inevitably, the Newfy is loping around behind us, drool flinging, tail knocking out whatever's in her path, and close on her heels is any one of our other four dogs.

I look forward to meeting all of you, and sharing in the tales here on the blog. I'll be semi-absent for awhile, on my first vacation ever -- to Hawaii! And I'm really excited about that right now. So if I come back singing Island songs, just bear with me for a while. It will pass. I promise.

With all that said, I'll leave you with the "official" intro, and I'll be back at the end of the month!


Claire Ashgrove has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction's Stakes, sold to The Wild Rose Press in 2008, where she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne and Black Rose lines. Adding to these critically acclaimed contemporaries, Claire’s paranormal romance series, The Curse of the Templars, will debut with Tor in January 2012. For those who prefer the more erotic side of romance, she also writes for Berkley Heat under the pen name Tori St. Claire.

Claire lives on a small farm in Missouri with her two toddler sons, fifteen horses, four cats, and five dogs. In her “free” time, she enjoys cooking, winning at rummy, studying ancient civilizations, and spending quiet moments with her family, including the critters. She credits her success to her family's constant support and endless patience.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tell my Mother that romance is a fantasy

I’m Barbara Edwards and I spent a long time thinking of a fresh idea for today.
Several years ago the president of Romance Writers of America asked Oprah why she never chose romances for her book club. Oprah’s response was a shock. In her opinion, romance is a fantasy and has no relation to real life.
It made me pause. What? Romance has no place in real life? How can that be? I believe in romance: the romantic love between a man and a woman, although there are all kinds of love.
Today I’m at the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. Our Unit, The Liberty-Grays has the honor this weekend of doing a living history about the most romantic period in our history. What makes it romantic? The period is fraught with emotion: Love of country, Love of State, Love of Family, Love of comrades-in-arms. I could go on and on.
Strong emotion drives romance and everyone wants to be the one who feels those emotions. If the only way is to read a good story, then that is fine. I read Gone With the Wind when I was twelve and cried and laughed and mourned with Scarlett as she struggled. I pictured myself as the strong heroine. That’s the purpose of the story. Romance gives us a peek into another woman’s life and how she deals with problems. Maybe we’ll never face a murderer, get caught up in a drug deal, lose our farm to a great flood, get shot by an outlaw or climb the highest peak, but we can experience the thrill, the fear, the pain and the triumph along with the heroine and the hero.
The real reason I read a romance is the love story. Love scenes can tickle my fancy and make me smile or they can heat my blood to boiling. I might be a Grandmother of a dozen or a college freshman, but that hero makes me sigh. And I want to know the two of them will solve their problems and live happily-ever-after.
Maybe it is fantasy, but I want to believe there is the perfect man for each woman. I already know love conquers all.

You can find me at:
Author Web:
Blog Site:
Ancient Blood
Twitter: http;//
Authors Den:
Amazon Author Page:
To buy Ancient Blood:
Buy link

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Romance Can Be A Pain in the Chest!

When I read - or write – an especially romantic scene, I get a little pain in my chest. Nothing to go to the doctor about, but it's my heart's indicator telling me the romance level has reached a 10.

Here's an excerpt from my first book, Secret Vegas Lives. It's the secondary characters, the day after they met. Monica is heading back home to Vegas after assisting with a burn victim.

That afternoon, with Katie stable and her parents assured of a good outcome, Monica said goodbye and headed to the heliport. Halfway through the hospital, she spotted Joe talking to a resident. He ended his conversation and caught up to her.
“Leaving us, doctor?”
Pinching the skirt of her yellow silk dress between her fingers, she smiled. “Got a date tonight.”
He walked beside her, his head hanging forward, his hands in his pants pockets. “Someone special?”
“I’ll find out in a few hours. It’s our first.”
He laughed. “I can’t remember what a first date feels like. Or any date, for that matter.”
She looked at him through her lashes. “I can’t believe that. You’re a big shot here. The women must hound you.”
“No. I don’t have time.” He opened the door for her and walked with her to the helicopter.
“Dr. Pappa…” She held out her hand. “It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for the professional courtesy.”
“You’re welcome, Dr. Kane. I hope we meet again.”
She turned and climbed into the helicopter and strapped herself in, sliding on the headset. She looked through the window to wave at Joe, but he was on his phone with his other hand over his ear to block out the noise of the rotors starting.
The pilot gave her the thumbs up, she returned it, and they lifted off but immediately landed again when instructions from the hospital sounded through the headsets. The pilot told her, “We’ll be carrying another passenger.”
He jumped out and opened the door, and Joe stepped in and sat beside her. Putting his headset on, he spoke to her through the microphone. “Mind if I ride along?”
She was smitten.
The trip seemed much shorter this time; when they landed in Las Vegas, he got out with her and walked her to her car.
He shook his head. “Why am I surprised that you drive a pickup truck?”
She shrugged. “I like to haul stuff.”
He let out a startled laugh. “Stuff? Lady, you’re extraordinary.”
She looked into his eyes. “I’ve never been called that before.”
He touched her arms then drew her close. “I’m the first man to appreciate it in you.” He slanted his lips over hers, firm, assured. The hot sun warmed her skin, while his kiss turned her insides to lava.
She set her hands on the lapels of his white lab coat and kissed him back, wanting to deepen it, to invite him home with her, but it was too soon, the timing wasn’t right.
Too quickly, he pulled away and released her. His voice was low, filled with the promise of passion. “I’ll call you, Monica.”
“Bye.” She swallowed her eagerness, not wanting to jinx the moment by saying too much.
He brushed his fingertips over her cheek then turned and jogged back to the helicopter.
She slid into her truck as she watched them take off and turn west toward LA. Blowing air out her compressed mouth, she ticked off the reasons a long distance relationship would never work. She turned the key in the ignition and heard a beep from her phone. A text message.
It was from Joe. “Don’t go on that date tonight.”
She smiled, her heart filled with hope despite her pessimistic tendencies.
What excuse could she use on online dating service guy?

Just the thought of a man as impetuously romantic as Dr. Joe makes me sigh.

From the same book, here's another scene that tugs at my heart. Antonio is an Italian writer, and Valerie is a psychologist. They're the main characters in Secret Vegas Lives (the ones who lead those secret lives!)

“Thank you. The pleasure was all mine.” Antonio watched Monica leave then turned back to Valerie, a look of amusement in his eyes. “I have two sisters, so your conversation is nothing new.”
Lindsey busied herself putting the beer in the refrigerator. How could Monica embarrass her that way?
“Come over here.” An irresistible smile lit his face. He turned the barstool.
She shut the refrigerator door, walked around the island, and stood in front of him. He pulled her between his legs and squeezed her with his knees. His eyes locked with hers.
There would be no explaining away her sister’s comments. “I’m so sorry, Antonio. I expected that kind of crap from my parents, but my sister is really not that way.”
“Your cheeks are still red.” He brushed a finger softly over her blush. “Did she embarrass you?”
“She always embarrasses me.”
“Maybe she’s right.”
Her jaw tightened. “She’s not right. Neither are my parents. They’re comparing you to Troy and Bryce, and because you’re different, they think you’re not our social equal.”
He kissed her, and she tasted beer and lime on his tongue. Her blood heated in her veins.
“I’m not your social equal, Valerie. And if that’s important to you, tell me now, and you’ll never hear from me again.”
His statement chilled her. Valerie backed up and looked at his handsome face. His eyes were intense. “Do you really think I’m a snob?” Hurt and anger threatened to make her overreact, but she held her emotions in check.
“Of course not. But if you’re getting shit from your family —”
“I don’t care what they think, Antonio.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “They’ve been too involved in my life for too long. I need to cut my own path.”
“Your mother asked you if you were dating me to rebel against them.”
Valerie looked down. “She’s passive aggressive. She said that because she knew you’d hear it.”
He stood and put his hands on her arms.
She looked up at him.
“Yeah, I heard it. What better way to declare your independence than to date a bad boy.”
She stepped closer and put her hands on his chest. “That’s not what this is about, Antonio. If I gave you the impression that it was, I’m sorry.” She swallowed. “This is more to me. More than I’ve felt for anyone.”
“Damn.” He put his hands on the sides of her face. “I guess I feel the same.”
“God, listen to us.” She laughed. “Scary, isn’t it?”

I love that moment when the hero and heroine realize they've found someone special. Someone they can see being with for a long, long time.

This next excerpt is from my upcoming release, Scandalous L.A. Desires. Dante is an artist, and also Antonio's brother.

Dante worked through the night to finish the mural. The formal opening was the next evening and the paint needed time to dry.
Morning sun streaked through the windows as he yawned and made a few final brush strokes. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone at the playroom door. Strangely, he sensed it was Lindsey, but what would she be doing here?
He turned to her. "Hi."
She smiled. "Hi."
He chuckled. "This is a different side of you." She wore a black Minnie Mouse warm-up suit and bright red running shoes, her hair in a braid with a red polka-dot ribbon tied at the end.
"The hospital board asked me to remind you that you're welcome to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony tomorrow night."
"I wouldn't miss it." He set the paintbrush down and wiped his hands on his white painter's coveralls. "Are you on the board?" he asked as he walked toward her.
"I'm a new member, but I've volunteered since high school. One morning a week I play with the children. That's where I'm headed now." She backed up half a step.
"That explains the outfit. You like children?" He stepped over paint cans and tarps.
"Yes, very much. They add so much to my life, and if I help these little ones and their families…" When he reached her and held out his hand, her sentence trailed off.
"Let me show you the mural. It's almost finished." He stood with his hand out waiting for her to decide. He could see the hesitancy in her eyes as she looked around the room.
He smiled. "Will you come in and see it?" The bigger question was, did she trust him?
She tentatively put her hand in his, their eyes met, and he noticed that hazy look again. He fought the urge to pull her into his arms and kiss her breathless, and instead led her into the room, steadying her as she stepped over obstacles.
Still holding her hand, he stopped in the middle of the room and they turned to get the full effect of the painting. He heard her sharp intake of breath.
"Dante, it is beautiful. I'm absolutely awestruck. It's like being under the sea--whales, fish." She eased her hand from his and moved closer to the mural. "The coral is so lifelike, and how you captured the filtered sunshine. It's perfect. The children will love it."
He heard a catch in her voice and when she turned to him, a ray of sunlight hit her face. The tears in her eyes sparkled. He took a step toward her, overwhelmed by the need to touch her.
"Forgive me for being emotional. Just knowing how the children will appreciate it makes me happy."
"Art is worthless if it doesn't evoke emotion." He put his hand on her shoulder, then slowly moved his fingers down her arm. "I am humbled by your response." He lifted her hand and kissed her fingers. He wanted to kiss her sexy, pink lips, hear her sigh, and see her eyes misty and unsure. He'd kiss away all her doubts…
Her cell phone rang and they both took a step back. This was not the place. She volunteered here and served on the board of directors. Construction workers and custodians were walking by. He didn't want their first kiss to be public.
"I'm sorry, but I have to take this." She held her phone. "I hope to see you tomorrow evening."

Dante has been pursuing Lindsey, but she's not falling for his smooth moves. In this last scene, she's starting to see him differently. There may be hope for them after all!

These are the secondary characters from Scandalous L.A. Desires. Jill and Nick dated in college, but she cheated on him. Jill's an architect, and Nick is hiding from the world making custom motorcycles.

"Nick, would you like to come to my place for supper tonight? There's a pool on the roof and we could swim, I could grill some--"
"No." He forced himself to remember her in another man's bed, and used the anger to slam away his softer emotions. "You don't get it, do you? This was just sex. Nothing more." He grinned and winked. "And you were good, baby. Really good."
She let out a heavy sigh. "Okay, I deserve that. You can be as rude to me as you want." She walked around him, into the shop and picked up her purse from the workbench, came back outside and stood three feet from him.
He could see her hands shake, heard a tremor in her voice. "But I'm not going to give up, Nick." Her brows drew together. "Maybe I haven't made my intentions clear. I want you back. I love you, and I--"
He chuckled, covering the bitterness. "You never loved me, or you wouldn't have been doing some jock the minute I left the country."
"If you want to talk this out, here's the truth. After you caught us together, I told him to leave and I never saw him again. I've been out on a few blind dates since then, but nothing, no one, could replace you in my heart."
He shrugged. "I don't really care." But it was a lie.
She stepped closer, her voice became more determined. "Here's what's going to happen now. I'm going to think of you every hour of every day, and I want you to think of me." Her eyes locked with his, her intensity stunned him. "Every night, I'm going to pretend you're there with me. Whatever woman you're with, you're going to look at her and wish it was me."
He shook his head, knowing it was true because it was exactly what the last year of his life had been like.
She walked toward the gate in the fence that surrounded his shop. Surrounding his life. The dogs followed. She sat on her heels and scruffed Bert and Ernie's big heads. Talking over her shoulder to him, she said, "I want our children to come to work with their daddy and play with these sweet puppies."
The thought had his every nerve ending going numb. He wanted babies with this woman, so badly it made his eyes water.
She wasn't done. "I'm going to get help, Nick. Powerful help. I'm going to pray. That you'll forgive me, that you'll take me back, that I'll be able to spend every day of the rest of my life making you happy. Loving you."
Finally her tears came, she lowered her head into her hands and sobbed. The dogs wined, lay down next to her, and looked to him for guidance.
He blinked rapidly, wanting to have her in his arms, they could comfort each other, make everything perfect again. But he waited too long.
She stood and wiped the tears from her cheeks, and without another glance his way, walked to the gate. "Let me out."
He had to decide. He could go to her now, or let her slide from his life.
Damned pride. He reached an arm into the shop and opened the gate. She stepped out. He closed the gate, walked into the shop, and pressed the button to close the overhead door. Close her out of his life.
He stared at her as the noise of the metal rollers sounded his decision. Her crying shook her whole body.
And he wished he were dead.

I love that scene because it's emotionally potent and wonderfully romantic. Jill opened her heart, swallowed her pride, and did everything she could to bring Nick back into her life.

As you can guess, my heart is giving me that little pain right now. And I love it! When I can have a physical as well as emotional reaction to writing, I'm the happiest person on earth.

Do you have a reaction to reading especially poignant scenes? I'd love to hear what affects you, and how it moves you.

Thanks for stopping by today,