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Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Addison Fox: The Fall

I finished up copy edits on my October manuscript this morning, delighted at several spots where my editor had made smiley faces in the manuscript. This book was a toughie and it was especially satisfying to get this one over the finish line.

Some books write hard and some write easy and this one was definitely in the former category. There was something about this hero and heroine. I’ve had them sparring with each other for the past two books and now that it was their turn to find happy ever after, they clammed up on me.

Fortunately, I knew them well. Even more fortunately, my editor had a keen eye to what I was missing. Namely….they needed time to fall. Not down, although since this is a romantic suspense that does happen.

But fall in love.

The problem was, in my mind, they were already there. They’ve known each other for some time, bickering with a smoldering intensity that any right-thinking soul would label as verbal foreplay. Their best friends have gotten together and are already on the way to their own forevers. And, well, it’s the third book in a series - (sorry, spoiler alert) - OF COURSE THEY’RE GETTING TOGETHER!!

So what was taking the two of them so long?

Part of what I love about being a writer is working with an editor. They see the manuscript with both the fresh eyes of the reader and the sharp of eyes of someone who understands what’s needed to make the work better. Sure, I know Max and Violet are destined for each other and my readers likely know it, too.  But now that they’re getting their own story, it’s essential I make that fall fun, exciting and well-paced.

After all, the fall is the reason we keep turning the pages. That slide into love is what keeps us coming back for more and whether the hero and heroine are life-long friends or people who’ve known each other only a short while, we readers want to see each and every moment of their love story.

The reader in me knows that. But the writer in me needs a good reminder every now and again!

Thanks for joining me today.
XOXO,
Addison



Despite early ambitions of being a diver, a drummer or a doctor, Addison Fox happily discovered she was more suited to life as a writer. She lives in Dallas and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. You can find her at her home on the web at www.addisonfox.com. Her latest book, SECRET AGENT BOYFRIEND, is out now from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. You can visit her at her website at www.addisonfox.com

Monday, May 04, 2015

CJ Carmichael: Cleaning & Purging

Salutations!

It’s May. I can’t believe it. April was a blur of writing for me. Today I’m putting the final touches on Forgotten before sending it off to my editor. My publishing team should have the book out by May 21 and I’m very excited about that.


The few times I’ve poked my head out of my writing cave the past while have been to deal with the renovations Mike is supervising around here. We’ve re-done the ceilings, painted, and updated our kitchen sink and island. It’s all part of my natural inclination to clean & purge before summer comes. (And then I just want to be outside!)



Part of the purging process this year, is reducing the number of backlist books I have stored in boxes in the basement. They’re not doing any good there! So I’m working hard to give away as many as I can.

If you’d like to help me with this, please sign up for my newsletter—I draw names from that list all the time and send surprise packages of autographed backlist books.

Or, if you happen to work or volunteer or frequently visit a senior’s care home, please send me an email through my website and give me the address of the care home and I’ll send them some books.
Do you get swept up by Spring Cleaning plans? If so, what are you focusing on this year?

Happy Cleaning & Purging!

CJ Carmichael

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Roxanne Snopek: On Hopes and Dreams, Overcoming Fears… and The Best Chicken Ever

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for fast, delicious but mostly easy recipes. I never roast chicken in the oven, but throughout the year, we roast chicken on the barbeque and I guarantee, it’s the most flavorful, moist bird you’ll ever taste.

It’s so good, I put it on the menu of the dinner-dance in my latest release, CINDERELLA’S COWBOY. In this fun novella, Cynthia, my stuttering, irrepressible wallflower heroine has to arrange the details of a fundraiser for cowboy-playboy Chad, who makes her believe in magic even though they are complete opposites.


Compared to overcoming fears, dreams coming true and little lost kittens, the chicken is pretty unimportant. But nevertheless, here’s the recipe. Try it. You’ll love it! (Need the roaster? Read on!)


Beer-Can Chicken

You will need:

A barbeque
A beer-can-chicken roaster
A roasting chicken
A can of beer – can also be soda, lemonade or any flavorful beverage.
Olive oil
Montreal Chicken Spice (lemon pepper or any barbeque rub would work fine, too)

How to do it:

Fire up the Barbie, nice and hot. Drink half a beer, saving the other half in the can. Slather a nice gloss of olive oil on your chicken, then sprinkle it with generously with your seasoning. Set the can in the roaster device. Prop that baby (watch out, it’ll be slippery) onto the can, ie: insert can into chicken. Yes, it looks mildly disturbing.
Turn the front burner off, but keep the back burner on, so that you’ve got a fairly hot (how’s that for specific?) barbeque. Set the chicken-and-device onto the front part of the barbeque, so that it cooks on indirect heat. Close lid. Pop another beverage and do something else for an hour or so while your chicken cooks.
Check on it occasionally to make sure it’s not burning. You may need to adjust the temperature or the position of the chicken. It’s important it doesn’t sit directly over the heat.
When the skin is a deep, dark, golden brown, the thigh bone moves easily in the socket and only clear juice comes out when you poke it, your meat is done.
Remove it carefully from the barbeque, then even more carefully, grab it with tongs and pull it off its beer-can perch. Put it on a warm plate and cover with foil for ten minutes or so, so the juices retreat back into the meat. Then, carve and serve.
Note: do not drink the hot beer. Actually, try not to look at it when you pour it down the sink. It’s pretty disgusting.



Now: I’ve got a beer-can roaster to give away to one lucky commenter. So tell me what you think: have you ever tasted beer chicken before? Have you ever cooked it? Do you want to try it?




Friday, May 01, 2015

Kathleen O'Brien: DOCTOR, LAWYER…RANCHER, PRINCE?

If you could place a custom order for that one special man, would you choose a rancher or a prince?  At first blush, the decision probably seems fairly easy.  Those two men are very different in almost every way, right?

And yet, if you’re like me, your choice couldn’t ever be made that way. If you’re like me, Mr. Right’s occupation isn’t important.  Falling in love is all about character and chemistry.  If you’re lucky enough to find a man who can make you feel rock-solid secure and champagne-bubble giddy, both at the same time, you’re probably not going to quibble about labels.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had two new releases—both with heroes I adored.  Grant Campbell, the horse-breeder hero of THE RANCHER’S DREAM, which is a May release from Harlequin SuperRomance, is steady, nurturing and deeply connected to his Colorado land.  He’s a bit of a loner, a wounded heart who isn’t sure he’s ready to risk it all again.  Ronan Vicenza, the hero of HIS DEFIANT PRINCESS, which just came out from Tule Publishing, is witty, cosmopolitan and privileged.  He’s the free-spirited second son of the royal family, a heartthrob who charms the common sense out of every woman he dates.

So how could I fall so completely in love with both heroes?  Well, as dissimilar as they seem on the surface, these men also have much in common.  They’re both profoundly loyal, especially to family.  They’re smart, honest (even when it hurts), and unfailingly kind.  They’re strong, physically and emotionally, and will always protect their own.  They’re both willing to completely remake their worlds for the women they love.

Here’s a sneak peak at them.  I hope you agree that, royalty or commoner, they’re men who know how to treat a woman right.

GRANT CAMPBELL, FROM THE RANCHER’S DREAM:


“When you told Stefan you weren’t sure you wanted to sell, I thought maybe you were…you were just…”
She twisted her mouth sideways, clearly trying to think how to say it.
He smiled down at her. “Just being a jealous ass?”
She gave him a quizzical glance. “No. I was going to say I assumed you were just playing hardball.” She looked down at her fingers and toyed absently with the metal brace. “Besides, why would you be jealous? You know there’s nothing between…”
“Between you and me. Yeah, I know.” The words sounded harsher than he’d meant them to.
Crimson glanced up at him, her smile crooked again. “You know, Grant, you really should stop finishing my sentences, especially since you don’t have a clue what I’m planning to say. I was going to point out that there’s nothing between Stefan and me.”
He took a deep breath, and then let it out in a chuckle. He loved the sassy way she called baloney on people. It was one of the qualities that had always made her such a good friend. When she was ticked, she didn’t smolder and pout and give off smoke signals that were impossible to decipher.
She just informed you of your jerk status and expected you to shape up.


RONAN VICENZA, FROM HIS DEFIANT PRINCESS:


“Look, Brenna…I don’t blame you for wanting nothing to do with me. I was a bastard. I know that, and I don’t have any excuses to offer. I lied to you. I took advantage of you. And then, when I had to leave, I didn’t even have the courage to explain.  I didn’t have the guts to say goodbye.”
She kept her eyes focused just beyond his right ear, staring at one of the Vicenzas on the wall.  What did he want her to say? Yes. You were a bastard, and you broke my heart, and I don’t know how to forget. Or forgive.
“I’m not asking you to forgive me,” he said, as if he had read her mind.
“Good.” She’d been reaching for cool sarcasm, but the word came out broken and wounded.  She caught her breath and tightened her jaw.  She wanted to pull away, but she felt paralyzed by the heat of his hands, even though they rested so lightly on her shoulders.
He bent his head, so that their gazes were level, and for a minute it was as if he could see right through into her…into her brain, her heart, her soul, wherever her secrets were hidden.
“I’m not asking for forgiveness.  But I am asking you to put your anger aside for now. This is bigger than that summer. Bigger than us. Emory needs your help, Brenna. Cornetta needs help. You can go right back to hating me afterward, if you want, but please…don’t punish them for my mistakes.”


I’d love to hear what makes a man “hero material” for you.  I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate, as well as a digital copy of both books, to a randomly chosen commenter, so please do take a minute and share! J



Thursday, April 30, 2015

Maggie Marr: A Billionaire to Love

I love writing billionaires. Ryan Murphy in Last Call For Love was my fourth billionaire, but he won't be my last. Each time I sit down to write one of my billionaires in The Eligible Billionaires Series, I am blessed with a fabulous character. 

First there was Cole Jackson in Can't Buy Me Love.  What a guy! A true Alpha with a bad-boy love 'em and leave 'em attitude. Whip smart with a wicked sense of humor and a wonderfully slow hand. He'd truly met his match in Meg Parson, his former executive assistant. She was just as smart and just as determined. By the end Cole was begging for Meg to stay.


Next was Tristan Rhodes in One Night for Love. A tortured soul who purchased companies and dismantled them piece by painful piece with no regard for the people that worked at the company. Prim Baxter, (Meg Parson's best friend and former b-school classmate) was having none of Tristan's bull! She'd built Metro Media from the ground up, alongside the now distraught and former Metro Media owner Ryan Murphy. Prim spent every ounce of her time and energy trying to prove to Tristan that he should keep Metro Media as a whole company. All the while fighting her outrageous attraction for Tristan. Did I mention they'd hooked up at Mesquale a Tahitian resort while wearing party masks and didn't know who the other was until after Tristan had purchased Metro Media. H-O-T!


Nick North in A Christmas Billionaire is one of my favorites!  Oooo, I love him. So strong. So cold. So...so...unattainable. His heart was destroyed when the woman he loved ditched him on Christmas Eve many years before. Guess whose baaaack!! Yes, it's Noel Klaus, the love of Nick's life. She is making his Christmas Season a living hell with her community activism that prohibits him from knocking down a retirement home in which Noel's grandmother lives, so that he can build a mall. Nick and Noel heat up those long cold Chicago nights!

  
Ryan Murphy....oh poor poor GORGEOUS Ryan Murphy in Last Call for Love. He lost his fiance in a horrible car crash. His heart broken he sold Metro Media and purchased Mesquale (the Tahitian resort where Tristan and Prim hooked up!) and fled California so he wouldn't be reminded of his lost love. For 9 months he's worked in secret scoping out every flaw of Mesquale. Now he's working as a bartender when he meets Charla Duval. What a match! She can't stand rich people! And she thinks Ryan is a bartender when they fall in love...guess what...he's not...he's a billionaire!  So fun. So much sex. So much love. 


Next up is Trevor Brice, the heir apparent to the Upside Burger company. He fled to Mesquale to see if he could hack it without his family's money. A tortured writer, he doesn't want to run his parents company. While working at Mesquale he's fallen madly in love with Poppy Martin, a server at Mesquale and Charla Duval's former roommate. But Poppy will never, ever, no matter what give her heart to any man! She's suffered too much pain, too much loss, she will forever be Running From Love. 


 Finally there is Justin Travati. A powerful, hard, strong, wicked billionaire. He was born into money and then acquired his own. He will never settle down.  There was one woman...a long time ago...that for a split second he might have considered having a relationship with, but Aubrey Hayes made the decision to return to Kansas to run her family farm. So why is Aubrey emailing him now? And why is he flying (private of course) to Hudson, Kansas to determine if what Aubrey is telling him, is for real. 

So those are my fabulous billionaires. There will be more...of course. How could I ever turn my back on these amazing, powerful men and the smart, sexy, women who choose to love them? 



Maggie Marr is an author and an attorney. The Eligible Billionaires Series is one of her favorite series to write but she also enjoys writing the best-selling Hollywood Girls Club Series, The Glamour Series (Hard Glamour, and The Powder Springs Series. When she's not writing or reading she can be found exercising her rescue pup or hanging out with her family.  Maggie lives and works in Los Angeles. You can follow Maggie and her billionaires on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jeannie Moon: Being a Princess

Crown Princess Sofia, the heroine in my upcoming release His Forbidden Princess, isn’t so sure she wants the job of princess.  In fact, she says quite plainly that she wants to be “normal.” When writing this story, I knew immediately our Sofie was a reluctant princess.  She didn’t follow rules and she didn’t think of herself as royal. More than once, Sofia’s birthright got in the way of the life she wanted, including the love of our charming hero, Ian.

That led me to think about one of my other favorite reluctant princess stories, Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries, (TPD) and more specifically, the movie that was made from the book.  Mia didn’t know who she was, and once she found out she was a royalty, being a princess caused Mia a lot of trouble. Sofia tried to hide her lineage; Mia stumbled upon hers. Either way, the young women were forced to face their destiny.

Over the course of their respective stories, Mia and Sofie face challenges about who they are and who they want to be.  There’s some growing up to do. There’s danger, confusion and risk, but ultimately, our princesses take on the job not because of some arbitrary DNA in their blood, but because of what was held in their hearts.

As was stated in TPD, being a princess is, “A real job.”  Initially, Sofie doesn’t see it that way, but she comes to understand the responsibility attached to her title, and it’s when she’s honest with herself, that she can be honest with our hero and her feelings.

I don’t know that this is unique to princesses. I think all women are reluctant at times, feeling torn about the roles and responsibilities we are asked to assume. In the ned we must all follow out hearts.  Sometimes it means doing what’s responsible. Other times it means we have to take a risk to be happy. Usually, it’s not easy.

Finding the sweet spot between responsibility to ourselves and responsibility to others is something everyone deals with. Being a princess may throw in a few more complications, but as with all fairy tales, once the path is chosen, and the challenge is met, a happily ever after is not only earned, but deserved.

His Forbidden Princess is being released by Tule Publishing on April 30, 2015.

ABOUT THE BOOK~

Eight years ago, university student Ian Stuart fell in love with his sweet, beautiful classmate and he’s never forgotten her. Sofie loved Ian with all her heart in return, but she didn’t trust him with one little detail about her life she’d neglected to share.
She was a princess, and they could never be together in the outside world.
Now Crown Princess Sofia is in danger. An insurgent faction in her country has targeted the royal family, and while Sofia is visiting the United States, she is forced to go into hiding. Assigned to protect her is none other than FBI Special Agent Ian Stuart.
Once again Ian and Sofie are in an impossible situation, fighting their feelings for one another, while trying to stay safe. Will their love for each other prove to be the most dangerous game of all?


Jean­nie Moon has always been a roman­tic. When she’s not spin­ning tales of her own, Jean­nie works as a school librar­ian, thank­ful she has a job that allows her to immerse her­self in books and call it work. Mar­ried to her high school sweet­heart, Jean­nie has three kids, three lov­able dogs and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.  Visit Jeannie’s web­site at www.jeanniemoon.com



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lori Wilde: Wedding Crashing 101


After being dumped at the altar a year earlier, the heroine of the next book in my Stardust, Texas series, Jodi Carlyle breaks out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of the word “marriage.”

It’s a phobia she must overcome in order to serve as maid-of-honor at her younger sister’s upcoming wedding. On the advice of her therapist, Jodi crashes a high profile wedding. Only to get busted by a handsome baseball player who promises to keep her secret if she agrees to be his plus 1 for the evening.

In order to survive the night, Jodi makes up a set of wedding crasher rules, all designed to keep her from falling for heartbreaker Jake Coronado. Especially when she learns Jake is to be best man at her sister’s wedding.

Armed with Jodi Carlyle’s Wedding Crasher Rules, you too could crash a wedding and get away with it!

1)     Look the part.
2)     Never use your real name.
3)     Fight the urge to tell the truth.
4)     Don’t linger too long.
5)     If you do linger too long, be gone by sunrise
6)     Smile! You’re having the time of your life.
7)     What happens at the wedding stays at the wedding.
8)     If you get caught, play dumb.
9)     When challenged, keep your cool.
10) Do not have sex in the cloak closet.
11) Watch where you leave your panties.
12) Having a good time is not an excuse for losing control.
13): Don’t get too attached to anyone you pick up at a wedding.
14) You just met him. Of course you don’t love him.
15) Remember the past is gone, and the future doesn’t exist yet, live for today.
16) You can’t save the wedding cake and eat it too.
17) Do bring a gift. It makes you look legit.
18) Go for the gusto.
19) Enjoy the party while it lasts.
20) You’re from out of town, always.
21) Don’t get attached.
22) At some point there’s bound to be drama, have an escape plan.
23) For God’s sake do not fall in love.
24) Always have an exit plan.
25) When it’s your wedding, reserve a spot for the crashers.


Have you ever crashed a wedding? If so, did you get caught? If not, would you ever dare to crash? 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Cover Reveal - There Goes the Bride




The best, most  fun days in a writer's professional life are the days where we meet readers who love our work. The second most fun days might be when we receive our cover art for a new book. I've been having twice as much fun enjoying the new cover art on my Runaway Brides books since I get to share the thrill with co-author Catherine Mann, who must happens to be my BFF. We both adored this cover for our May 5th release, THERE GOES THE BRIDE, the third story in the Runaway Bride series:


How beautiful is that? The image is so perfect for our heroine, who runs from a society wedding in Atlanta to return to her Tennessee roots. We think you'll enjoy Lindsey Ballard's escape from the altar--and the unlikely companion who joins her for the ride.

If you haven't started the series, the first story is a free download. HOW TO LOSE A GROOM IN 10 DAYS is available now at Amazon, iBooks and more retailers you can check out here. Between Cathy and I, we've had well over a hundred covers for North American releases and this series may have my favorite covers of all time. But it helps that we're writing brides.... brides are always beautiful! And, of course, it's fun to see my name on the same cover as my friend. I can't help but think that's really cool.

We'll be celebrating in person this week when Cathy comes to visit me and polish up BRIDE ON THE RUN, the fourth book in our series. We're going to make time to savor the fun of a joint project and talk about what to do next. At least one decadent lunch is planned, preferably overlooking the Gulf-- fruity drinks in hand.  Cheers!

***Have a cover that you love on your keeper shelf?  Do you swoon for romantic clinch covers or do you like pretty landscapes? Are you lured by male abs or beautiful gowns? Chat with me today on the boards and I'll give one random poster a copy of my latest Harlequin Superromance, NIGHTS UNDER THE TENNESSEE STARS.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: Procrastination Redux

Yes, I've talked about procrastination before. But since I'm procrastinating again it seemed like a good time to write another blog about it.:)

I'm sure there's a very good, subconscious reason for procrastination. For instance, last night, instead of writing (which I hadn't been doing all day because I was, you guessed it, procrastinating) I flipped on the TV to the show Nashville. No, I don't watch Nashville but something caught my eye so I started watching the last ten or fifteen minutes of the episode. And I heard a song that I not only love but that is a great song for the playlist of my current book. Fate. Or magic. Or maybe kismet. It's called Longer by Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio. Here's the link. http://bit.ly/1IDRdvA . I also post a song for the day on my social media sites and this is a brand new song I can post. Good thing all around, right?


See, there was something in the air that told me to watch it because I needed a song that will drop me right into my story. When you are highly distractible a trigger song is very helpful. And yes, I'm highly distractible. Where was I? Oh, yes, procrastination.

Today I found I couldn't write a scene until I knew a particular word one of the characters would use. (A twenty-eight year old cowboy and the word, I now know, is awesome.) Anyway, I had to email my friends, ask my kids and solicit suggestions on my Facebook author page for "the perfect word." Sometimes I'm able to write a word that's close and just make a note and come back to it. That might read something like this: good-looking (not exactly but sorta, more like hot but not that either, FIND WORD)

Yesterday it was the pool table. My characters are playing pool and I needed the perfect pool table. Very cool, over the top antique pool table. I found it fairly quickly but I wanted to be able to put that picture on the website for the new series that the story is a part of, and the only pictures of that table I've found are copyrighted. This involved an exhaustive look through the Internet and on a list of websites with royalty free images and that sort of thing. So far I haven't been able to find it.

Sometimes I simply don't want to do something so I procrastinate--I'm talking about writing mostly, but of course, it carries over to all facets of life. But very often I find there is a reason I can't do X, Y or Z and when I procrastinate I find out what that reason is.

Then there's the ultimate tool of procrastination. The Internet. Email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... and one that's particularly addicting, Pinterest. Everyone knows that pinning pictures on Pinterest is a necessary part of a writer's creative process. Honest, it's not just procrastination. I really need to look at all those pictures of hot guys . . . After all, I write romance.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Madeline Ash: Reuniting again and again…and again…


I’m currently writing a four-book series, all following the theme of reunions. I’ve chosen this recurring hook because it’s one of my favorites – there’s something special about giving characters a second and usually unexpected chance at love.

I suppose you could call it cheating. That in these romances, the characters’ existing backstory means the hard part of getting to know each other is out of the way. It also avoids the issue of developing the romance so quickly as to be unbelievable – it can sometimes be difficult to swallow a happily ever after that takes place over the course of a few days, but with a reunion romance, this is absolutely possible.

But I don’t think it’s cheating! There’s always a good reason characters have fallen out of contact. Often their parting was rife with conflict and it can be almost impossible to convince them to give each other a chance, as determined as they are to avoid falling in love!

There are so many ways a reunion romance can go; so many reasons the characters could have been separated in the past. The possibilities for this structure sucked me in – so many juicy set ups to accompany a reunion!

The first two books in this series have already been released by Tule Publishing. THE PLAYBOY came out as a part of the Hot Aussie Heroes series in January, and the second, HER SECRET PRINCE, was just published as a part of the Royal Holiday series.

Each book begins with a prologue set in their adolescence. In The Playboy, Parker tries to take advantage of Alexia, resulting in a mortifying experience for both. When Alexia returns to her home town years later, their reunion is thick with distrust, residual awkwardness, and scalding sexual attraction.


Her Secret Prince focuses on best friends and lost love. In the prologue, Dee and Jed are school friends who have secretly been in love with each other for a long time. They’re on the cusp of taking their friendship to the next level when Jed disappears. This makes for a heartbreaking reunion, weighted down with hurt, angst, and a burning decade-long love.

As for the remaining two books in the series, well, let’s just say I have a thing for boys next door and the forbidden call of a best friend’s younger sister. :)

To celebrate my first guest post on Tote Bags n Blogs, I’ll be giving away a free kindle copy of The Playboy. Just share whether you’re a fan of reunion romances – and if so, I’d love to know your favorites! I’ll keep the contest open for 48 hours before randomly selecting a winner.

Thank you very much Lee for inviting me here today.

***Madeline's winner is Nova!  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing details!!***

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cooking as Love

This summer Harlequin will be releasing one of my favorite books I've ever written. The title A BRIDE FOR THE ITALIAN BOSS doesn't do justice to this story about a chef who falls in love with a woman who comes to work for him as a hostess in his Tuscany restaurant.

I say the title doesn't do the book justice because it doesn't mention that he's a chef. From the beginning of the book, it's easy to see that cooking is a very personal thing for Chef Rafe. He loves flavors and scents...but he also loves pleasing people. He's big and gruff and bossy -- very Alpha male -- the way a lot of celebrity chefs are. But at his core is a man who knows the power of food.

We don't think about this often. But pause for a second. Food gives us pleasure. Too much of it and we're unhealthy. Too little of it and we're unhealthy. :) Food starts conversations. Food brings people together. Cooking as a couple can change a marriage. Eating in front of the TV can change all your relationships. Food makes us shop. And, unless you order from the Internet, that shopping makes you interact with other people.

Rafe knows this power. He feels it in his hands every time he kneads a dough. He throws this power around like a man who could some day rule the world. He needed a love interest like Daniella who is very down to earth and sees his cooking more as an act of love than power. It's a way he's never looked at his profession, so her presence in his life changes his life -- makes him a better man.

And that's really what a great romance does. In fiction or in real life, a true love will change your life...will make you better.

A BRIDE FOR THE ITALIAN BOSS is the first book in an 8-book continuity that begins in July. But...there's also  FREE online story, a prequel to the first book in the continuity that will be on Harlequin.com in installments. I also wrote that. :)

If you love Italy, Tuscany in particular, if you love food and wine and romance, you'll love these reads.

But since that's almost two months away...Think a bit about food. I'm currently working to lose twenty pounds so I'm learning things about myself and food. My relationship with food. And my inability to cook food! It all works together though. Because cooking well and cooking right, using good ingredients, learning about spices and fats, that's truly an art...and an act of love.

BTW...today is my birthday! It's the one day I will go to a restaurant and have a low-cal meal. I'll probably skip the margarita though! LOL

Happy Reading... 


susan meier

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Time for some Royal Romance! by Jenny Gardiner

I'm so excited to let you know I just released book two in the It's Reigning Men series, HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW. And book three, BAD TO THE THRONE, is available for pre-order, with the release set for June 29.

If you love a modern royal romance, I think you'll enjoy this story, set in the beautiful fictional European principality of Monaforte.

Here's a sneak peek of HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW. Now it's Caroline and Darcy's turn...I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter One
“It was a dark and story night,” Caroline McKenzie typed. Only her m key kept sticking, so instead of stormy, it apparently was story. Whatever that meant. That stuck key was pretty much a metaphor for how this embarrassing attempt to figure out if maybe she could just drop everything in life and be a writer was going.
Ever since Caro’s best friend, Emma Davison, had jumped ship for the small European principality of Monaforte and the gorgeous Prince Adrian who’d lured her there, life had become a distinctly dull shade of gray—and no, not in a way that involved hot men and questionable bondage practices, thank you. Until then, Caro had worked as a photography assistant for Emma while she was figuring out what she wanted to do with her life and had enjoyed a perfectly fine time in her off-hours social life, flitting about like a hummingbird, zipping from flower to flower and drinking tasty nectar.
For her that nectar came in the form of mostly charming, usually handsome, and almost always entirely forgettable men. But now without that job, she really had to decide what she wanted to do with her life and maybe put a lid on that boy-crazy nonsense and start figuring herself out. Considering she was fast approaching thirty with little grand achievement to show for it, it seemed time. At least according to her mother—and latest stepfather and grandmother, and any other blood-ish relative she knew of, come to think of it.
She closed out of her document, putting an end to her fledgling writing career. She figured her time was better spent FaceTiming with Emma, whom she’d been missing something fierce since her friend had closed up her business, packed up her belongings, and departed for a life most people could only dream of. She opened up the app and dialed through.
“Caro! What a pleasant surprise!” Emma said.
“What up, bitch?” Caro replied, sticking out her tongue and then putting her face so close to the screen Emma could see likely every pore on her nose.
“Awww, so glad to see you haven’t changed on me,” Emma said. “I’d bitch you back, but I’m trying to pay attention to decorum—”
“—now that you’re going to be a real-life princess.”
Emma laughed. “Honestly, I still can’t get used to that whole concept. Me! Of all people! Although I suppose if the media can dub Kim Kardashian American royalty—I mean, come on, now, seriously?—I guess anybody can be.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still waiting on my chance,” Caroline said, forcing her lower lip out in a pout.
“Still haven’t heard anything from Darcy?”
Caroline and Darcy Squires-Thornton—the Marquess of Weltenham and Adrian’s best friend and equerry—had seemed to hit it off, well, royally, when Emma and Adrian were getting to know each other, when Emma had helped Adrian flee a forced marriage his mother was trying to impose upon him. Right up until the time Caro hastened Emma off by surprise to Monaforte to be reunited with Adrian. After which Darcy weirded out and turned into a complete and total jerk.
“The guy’s a complete and total jerk. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Only she did. Big-time.
“Okay, let’s change the subject then.”
“Have you seen him?”
“I thought you said you didn’t want to talk about him!”
“I don’t,” Caroline said, pulling strands of her hair outward and making long, thin braids with her gorgeous, bright red hair. “Maybe I should be a hairdresser?”
“Oh yeah, that would be perfect for you,” Emma said. “You did such a good job frying my hair with a curling iron in college. I had hair sprouts growing out of my scalp for months. I’m still not sure if I’ve forgiven you for that.”
Caroline sighed. “Too late. Now that you’re a princess to be, the slate’s wiped clean. Guess it’s back to the drawing board for moi. My writing career didn’t pan out either.”
“Caroline, you regularly got Cs in English class. And didn’t you drop that creative-writing class your sophomore year?”
“Well, we had a really long paper due,” she said, raising her voice in a whine. “Besides, that was the weekend of that superfun fraternity festival out at that big lodge on the lake. Priorities!”
Emma shook her head. “Oh yeah, I remember. We had to hitch back to town, and it was like ten degrees out, and you kept sticking out your leg to try to attract cars, and then that idiot Bruce Bishop stopped for us—”
“—but he’d been drinking all day long, so we refused to ride with him. And he was so insulted, but he agreed to pull over on the side of the road and we all slept in his tiny two-seater car with the heat blasting, you and me squished together in that one seat, till about five in the morning when the car ran out of gas and the heat died.”
“And then we had to find a tow truck on a Sunday morning, and I think we had about half a bar on our crappy old flip phones, so it took a thousand times trying to get enough of a signal to call someone.”
“Ah, but we lived to tell about it. And then I lived to watch my best friend grow up and have the kick-assiest life imaginable while I lingered here and became a has-been.”
Emma tsk-tsked loudly, wagging her finger at her friend. “Hey, Care. That’s not you talking. You’re no has-been. You’re an up-and-coming. You just haven’t gotten there yet. But in the meantime you’re the most fun friend a girl—or guy—could have.”
Caroline felt tears welling up. “If I’m so fun, then why did that jerkball bail on me just when we were starting to have a great time? Was I that bad in bed?”
“Don’t you mean in beach?” Emma said with a wink.
Caroline and Darcy had sort of PDA’d it after skinny-dipping in twenty-degree weather at the beach in North Carolina where Adrian had holed up, and they had seemed to actually have some potential as a couple. Back then, Emma had been too busy blubbering about her own broken heart once Adrian returned to his real life to worry about Caroline. Besides, Caroline had a reputation as a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, which suited most guys just fine. After all, from a guy’s perspective, what’s better than a girl who’s full of life, loves to fool around a little, and then doesn’t demand the guy put a ring on it?
“You never answered my question.”
Emma arched her brow. “Which one was that?”
“Have you seen him?”
Emma shook her head. “Honestly, Caro, I’ve been crazy busy since I moved here, and Adrian has too, and now he’s been out of the country for weeks, so I haven’t had a chance to think about much of anything except what is right in front of my face. I know a few weeks ago Adrian said something about Darcy’s father being ill, so maybe he’s been sticking close to his family lately. Plus you told me not to ask around. You said you’d feel stupid if he knew you were prowling.”
“Yeah, but that was before I didn’t hear from him at all.”
“How was I supposed to know you had a sudden change of heart?”
“You’re my best friend. Of course you need to know that intuitively.”
“Okay, then. I’ll just double-check in my crystal ball next time I have a chance to come up for air so I can second-guess you from across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Caroline rolled her eyes. “Rubbing salt in the wound that you’re so far away. And that you’re so busy you don’t have time to deal with the likes of me.”
“Oh, honey. I know you’re upset with him, and I totally understand that. But I hope you can understand that I’m just doing what I have to do to become part of this family.”
“This royal family.”
“Oh yeah, no forgetting that. I think I’ve seen more sabers in the past month than I saw in the entire Three Musketeers novel. And velvet. Wow, do we have a lot of velvet here. And ermine. The queen has a deep red velvet cape trimmed in ermine. If I weren’t so sad about how many little ermines had to die to make that cape, I’d want to use it as a blanket at night. Even though I’m not sure what an ermine even is.”
“A weasel.”
“I don’t think Darcy’s a weasel, Care. I think he’s just dealing with other things right now.”
“I wasn’t talking about Darcy, you dingbat! An ermine is a weasel.”
“Huh. Wonder who decided it was particularly regal to wear a weasel. I could see something like a sable sounding more royal, but a weasel?”
“A sable’s kind of weaselly too, to tell you the truth.”
“And you’re an expert on royal fur trimmings because?”
“Remember that protest-march phase I went through? Only I wasn’t so wild when the group decided to throw red paint on fur-wearing women, even if I did think their fur coats were better off on the original owner?”
Emma nodded her head knowingly. “I was sort of glad you stopped that only because I wasn’t up for having to bail you out of jail. Even though I totally respected your conviction.”
“Yes, conviction minus the conviction. To be honest, my mother threatened to take me out of the will if I got cuffed and put in jail. Even though we all know there is no will. But considering I’m still paying off college loans, I didn’t want to cut off my nose to spite my wallet, just in case my mother ever happened into a cash windfall. Or something like that. But enough about me. Let’s hear more about palace life.”
Emma walked over to sit in what looked like the world’s most comfortable chair, something long and overstuffed but posh with what appeared to be hunt scenes involving leopards on the upholstery. It was right by a fire blazing in one of those mammoth fireplaces in which you could cook an entire ox on a spit. She put up her feet and leaned back, settling into the chair, which seemed to swallow her whole, it was so cushiony. A beautiful yellow Labrador was asleep beside her. It could’ve been a scene from a Norman Rockwell: the Royal Years painting.
“They call this a fainting couch. Do you love it?”
“I’d love it more if I were sitting in it rather in my apartment in northern Virginia.”
“I hear ya. You know you have an open invitation to come over here anytime.”
“Thanks, Em. I do know that. And believe me, I’ll take you up on it. As soon as I can drum up the funds.”
“Once I’m feeling more settled, maybe I can figure out how I can enlist the royal jet to come for you. Surely I’ll have some access to it.”
“Don’t force it yet. I don’t want you getting kicked out before you’re even in.”
“I really do want to see you. And I’d love for you to be here to help me plan this wedding.”
“Oh, my God. I still can’t believe you’re going to be married. You, of all people. The last of the holdouts. Well, besides me, that is.”
“Tell me about it. If you’d have asked me just a few months ago if I’d even date someone, let alone marry them, I’d have cackled in your face.”
“I think maybe you did that.”
“Okay fine. You know what I mean. But really, Caroline, you’re my only royal attendant. There are going to be times where it would be really nice to have you here.”
“Like, say, a bachelorette party, being that you don’t know a bleeding soul in the whole country? It will be the world’s smallest hen party.”
“Oh, you are so funny. Actually I really love Adrian’s sister Isabella. She’s as sweet as can be and a little feisty. Reminds me of you, sort of. And I even kind of enjoy Serena’s company, believe it or not. She’s not half bad, especially now that I know all that I thought was true about her wasn’t. She’s got a little pissy streak in her, in a good way. And she can be pretty bawdy too, for a blue blood.”
“So what’s it like having people wait on you hand and foot?”
“Sometimes it’s amazing. I mean like never having to wash a dirty dish is so not a bad thing. I could truly get used to that. Actually, I have gotten used to it. Wait—no I haven’t. At meal times I go to clear my dishes, only someone else clears them before I can even think to. Sometimes I feel a little pampered. Okay, I feel really pampered. It’s just incredible.”
“And your royal wardrobe?”
“So get this: they come to me. I mean if I want to shop at stores I can, but I can also have people bring me clothes. Stylists and designers. Considering the fanciest I ever got was J. Crew or Anthropologie, and that was only for really special occasions, this is way out of my league.”
“And you and Adrian?”
Emma’s eyes got all swoony and her face Dalai Lama–serene. “It’s amazing, Caro. He’s amazing. Never could I have imagined being so happy with someone. I am absolutely over the moon.”
Caroline smiled, finally. “Enough with the amazings already! But seriously, it couldn’t have happened to a better person. I’m so happy for you, Emma. So, so very happy for you.”
And she was. Although she wished right about now she could make crank calls to Darcy like the kind she and Emma used to make back in sixth grade. Maybe one of those I hear you have Prince Albert in a can. If so, you’d better let him out! type of calls. Maybe she could say Prince Adrian, make it more authentic. Anything to get his attention. To hear his voice with that dreamy accent. To enable her to take the pulse of the situation. To understand why it was that they had gotten along so well and their chemistry was pretty darned electrifying, and then all of a sudden he’d dropped off the face of the earth. It didn’t make any sense, and things that were senseless made Caroline crazy.
But the fact was she couldn’t be making long-distance phone calls to Europe. Nor did she want to come across as desperate. If he wanted her, he’d have reached out to her. And clearly he had moved on. So what that when she showed up at Emma’s wedding he was going to be the royal equivalent of best man to her maid of honor? They’d likely be paired up and have to fake it that they even wanted to look at one another, pretend that they hadn’t almost cared about each other. Because by then she wasn’t going to care. Not one whit. And if Darcy wanted her, he was going to have to crawl to her on all fours. Better yet, slink. Like one of those royal ermine. Skitter and slink right back into her heart, damn him.

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"SOMETHING IN THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner is a wonderful tale of love and self discovery, as two people who should have nothing in common, somehow are perfect for each other. The story flows at an enjoyable and natural pace, with plenty of funny moments, alongside the romantic scenes. I love the secondary storyline of Caro and Darcy, and I look forward to the next instalment, to see their relationship develop. SOMETHING IN THE THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner is a fabulous short, modern day fairy tale, with interesting characters, and I highly recommend it."  
--Linda Green for FRESH FICTION

"Jenny Gardiner tells a wonderful, feel good story about an American commoner and a European prince. If you're looking for a quick read that's sure to make you smile, Something in the Heir will do the trick!"  

--Bethany Petty for CHICK LIT CENTRAL

Book one in the It's Reigning Men series: SOMETHING IN THE HEIR.
Book two in the It's Reigning Men series: HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW.
Book three in the It's Reigning Men series: BAD TO THE THRONE.

And all will be available in book form soon!
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Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

and some time soon I'm going to reissue Anywhere but Here---I'll keep you posted.
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