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Everybody needs a little romance–and a transition

In August, my husband of 30 years surprised me.  He’s this Type A, Rock of Gibraltar personality who’d been at the same job for 25 years.  He’d been talking retirement and I’d been slightly panicking.  Having a husband home all the time would take some getting used to.

He talked about April 2013, and that gave me some time to prepare.  In my heart of hearts, I didn’t think he’d actually do it.   Although he’s been at the same job for 25 years, we’re still relatively young and this economy had us both worried.

But the main reason I didn’t want him home all the time was a selfish one. I’m a writer.  During daylight hours, the house is mine.

Most writers don’t sit in a chair, where inspiration flows into their fingertips.  When I want to brainstorm, or I get stuck, I jump up from the chair, pick up the phone, and call someone like blog partner Cynthia D’Alba.  I literally take up the first floor of my house to do this.  I walk out of my office, into the den, walk through the kitchen, into the living room then traverse that same area again and again until I get a plot point figured out.

That’s such a freeing process for me.  And that process didn’t include walking out of my office, to find a man on the couch with the television blaring, wondering, what in the heck is she doing?

Even so, I had plenty of time to prepare, right?  He’d said April 2013.  My budget-minded husband studied his Excel spreadsheets with a specific dollar amount in mind and he was like the proverbial racehorse winding down for the homestretch.

Wrong.  I forgot to calculate into all his preparedness the amount of stress he was under.  In August, when I was at RWA National, he out-and-out quit his job.  The stress he’d just released fell onto my shoulders in a big, thick thud!

There’s a happily ever after to this story—he’s well-respected at work and his bosses wouldn’t accept his resignation.  They offered him a sabbatical and a new position when he returns in January.  It’s also given us a chance to layout some guidelines for when both of us are home full time.  I explained my crazy little writing process and he laughed. The last place he planned to be after 25 years was sitting on a couch and watching TV.

He obviously meant it.  So far, he’s gone to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon, climbed Pikes Peak, he went elk hunting with buddies; every morning he gets up and either runs or bicycles for a good part of the day.

In a week, after hiring a house sitter, we’re heading to Fort Worth to see our son and his new wife, and then to Las Cruces for a couple of weeks.

I think I might actually be sad when he has to go back to work in January.  I’m blessed I guess to have a man who appreciates that I take up a lot of room as a writer 😉 And I admit it’s been rather fun having him home as he’s not underfoot all the time.  Guess along with everybody needing a little romance—everybody now and then needs a transition.

What do you think?  Ever reached a point where you’ve said enough is enough?

Happy Friday, all.

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The Real Werewives of Vampire County – Anthology

The Real Werewives of Vampire County – Anthology
* I received a copy of this book from Kensington in exchange for an honest review*

“Where Darkness Lives” by Alexandra Ivy – No one’s more surprised than Sophia when she’s struck by an unfamiliar maternal urge to move near her daughters. But instead of being greeted by a welcome committee, she’s targeted by kidnappers…and saddled with a gorgeous bodyguard on a mission to protect – and seduce…

Sophia is an alpha female that is used to taking care of herself. She is the owner of a local bar and has recently bought a house to be close to her daughters. When her life is threatened, alpha werewolf Luc steps in as a bodyguard to find out who is trying to hurt her.

Sophia is a strong character that knows what she wants but is willing to accept help when she needs it. She hasn’t had an easy life and has a hard time trusting people, Luc is no different. She is devastated when she finds out his secret. Luc has avoided relationships and finding his mate but there is something about Sophia that calls to him.

Overall this was a strong story in this anthology. The ending was a surprise that I enjoyed. I would definitely pick up other books by this author.

“Murder on Mysteria Lane” by Angie Fox – When a werewolf trophy wife is found dead in Vampire County, Heather McPhee goes undercover to investigate. Heather’s never been a mascara-and-manicures sort of girl, but she’s willing to learn. Especially with sexy vampire detective Lucien Mead posing as her husband…

Heather McPhee is the pack investigator and her expertise is needed in suburbia to help solve the murder of a werewolf. She has a unique ability that with a touch, people have to tell the truth. Lucien hopes to use her talent to help solve the murder while convincing Heather to give him a chance. Sunny’s murder turns out to be more complicated than they ever imagined.

I loved seeing Heather when she first showed up in suburbia, she was too funny. She obviously didn’t fit in with their fancy ways and needed help to blend in. Throughout the story we see her transformation not only physically but mentally as well.

Although this was a short story, it definitely didn’t lack on the drama, intrigue and adventure. It kept me guessing until the very end. I love Angie’s books and this was no exception.

“What’s Yours is Mine” by Jess Haines – Still Waters is like many other exclusive gated communities – except that it’s home to one of the largest werewolf packs in the state. But Tiffany Winters isn’t frightened of her big, bad new neighbours. In fact, she intends to take her place among the pack…

The pack is looking to expand their pack and their new neighbor Tiffany looks like she will be the perfect addition.  They just have to convince their leader to sign off on it.  Tiffany isn’t what she seems and Vera is the only one that sees through her.  Can Tiffany persuade the other’s that she is perfect for the pack?

The women of the Diamond Fangs are smart women that have it all, beautiful houses, sexy husbands and all the money they could possibly want.  Their pack numbers have decreased and they are always looking for the perfect candidate that is willing to sign the Notice of Mutual Consent.

Tiffany is their new neighbor and she seems to fit right in with the women but there is something about her that isn’t right.  Tiffany was a fun character; she has a history with weres that she is trying to hide from the women.  She isn’t proud of the things she did in the name of love and wants to change her life.  She is smart and conniving and knows how to get what she wants, I loved that about her.   The ending was fabulous.

“Werewolves in Chic Clothing” by Tami Dane – Ever since Christine Price moved in with her fiance, Jonathan, and his twelve-year-old son, she’s worked hard to fit in with a cadre of local women whose lives seem picture-perfect. Except no one in Jon’s upscale neighbourhood is quite who they appear to be. Least of all Jon…

Christine has left her life to move in with her finance Jonathan.  He has given her everything she could possible want, including her own studio in the basement.  Strange things begin happening around the house and the neighbors try and convince Christine that there was more to the death of Jonathan’s first wife than meets the eye.

Christine doesn’t know what to make out of the neighbors.  They start showing up before she gets moved in good and they all want to be her friends.  They suspect that Jonathan’s first wife was murdered and try to convince her to investigate it.  Things are not what they seem and there is more to the story than even they realize.

After things start happening to Christine she begins to question her decision to move in with Jonathan.   In the end though she trusts her instincts and everything comes out.

Overall this was a great set of short stories that blend well with each other.  I would definitely read other books by these authors and give The Real Werewives of Vampire County 4 Flaming Hearts.  

Warning: This post contains Naughty Tomato pictures.

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I did warn you.

I have a black thumb. Dr. Stevens, however, is a masterful gardener (hold on a second…I think I’m seeing a new hero’s career in my imagination…) His tomato patch this year has been unusually fertile. UNUSUALLY fertile.

This is not the first tomato-with-a-penis I’ve harvested this summer. Oh, no! See?

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Lest you think we’ve found some mutant breed breeding in our garden–this little fellow was on a totally different plant!

Not only are we growing phallic fruits, but we are overrun with the regular kind. I pick three or four huge bowls full of tomatoes each day. I’ve been blending them up in my super-duper-take-your-arm-off-if-you’re-not-paying-attention blender and freezing the puree in zip-lock baggies. I’ve been serving my family spaghetti (with homemade tomato sauce) chili (full of tomatoes), and BLTs every meal for weeks. And we haven’t even reached peak harvest yet.

I’ve taken to hauling bags of tomatoes with me wherever I go. I’ve become That Woman–the one who shoves her bag of excess produce at you with a manic smile, so that you’re afraid to tell her you’ve got a garden of your own. I take extra trips to the library, the bank and the post office just to hand my favorite tellers tomatoes. Every teacher at my sons’ school has gotten their fair share.

And still the suckers keep growing.

Frankly, the teenie-weenies worry me. I’ve seen LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. I peer through my bedroom window in the middle of the night, staring down at that tomato patch. Did that vine twitch, or was it just a trick of the moonlight?

Maybe I should stop eating them, after all.

Other Obsessions

By Laura Drake

If you’ve followed our blogs here at ENALR very long, you’ve seen that there’s a lot more to us than the stories we write. We all have other interests; Shawna is a new Mom, Cyndi’s decorating, a bunch of us have been traveling this summer. Well, not me, but I’m not bitter.

I’ve got other interests as well. The past months, I’ve written about bicycling (you can read it here,) motorcycling (here,) and fly fishing (here.) I realized I haven’t shared my biggest obsession. No, not food.

Pro Bull Riding!

Why? I’m not a country girl; I grew up in Detroit. I don’t much like country music — to me, a steel guitar sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard. So how could I have gotten so wrapped up in a sport that I wrote a three book series set in that world?

  • I’m fascinated by young men who, through courage, craziness, or under the influence of large quantities of testosterone, get on the back of two thousand pounds of attitude that wants to  throw them in the dirt and dance on their dangly parts.
  • The athleticism. Bull riders have more in common with gymnasts than wrestlers. The mechanics require more balance than brute strength.
  • These aren’t media savvy, spoiled athletes. They’re mostly kids off farms, and ranches. Watching their wide-eyed interviews on camera, and talking to them in person, gives me hope for the future of America. They remind me with their gentlemanly “Ma’am’s” and “Sir’s” that mothers somewhere are still raising kids right.
  • I’ve watched this sport grow over the past ten years, and have enjoyed watching events that are real — not slickly orchestrated and Hollywood perfect.

These men represent the American Cowboy; a rare breed in today’s society of political correctness and metrosexuals. They still live by the belief that their handshake is a scared promise, and integrity isn’t what you talk about, it’s what you live. They live a code that they’re willing to die by. How many people do you know like that?

Do yourself a favor. Check out their website. Tune in to a PBR event some weekend (TV schedule is here.) I dare you not to get sucked into the drama. Maybe I’ll see you at the finals in Las Vegas some November!

Let ‘er buck!

Laura has written three books set in the world of Pro Bull Riding. The first, The Sweet Spot, is due out next May, from Grand Central.

Why this post is late.

Okay, it’s late because I forgot about it last night.

But the reason it’s really late is because of this guy:

You know what this is? This is parenting. Sort of. This is what parents become. People who refuse to do anything that might have this:

Become this:

This guy who looks so calm and sweet (It’s really just because he’s buckled in) but don’t let the calmness fool you. He’s only playing you. When you release him from his cage he turns into a yelling, fighting THING. There is kicking. And jumping. and smashing of toys. I hear some people refer to as a “boy”.

So if that means avoiding the computer even though there are emails waiting to be sent (sorry editor!) or ignoring the blog (sorry yall!) you do that. So that you can keep having this:

And did I mention I have a new release? I don’t think I did! Rough Play, Book 2 in The Roughnecks is now available!

Jacob Iverson has plans. Distant plans, but they do exist. Find the right woman, eventually settle down and do the whole “white picket fence” routine. But until eventually comes, he’s having fun with right now. Then he meets Flora, who blows him back a step. Or two. Suddenly his distant plans are rushing up to meet him…only not quite the way he imagined.

Abandoned at seventeen, Flora Simms has made her way through the world, found life and family in the form of two best friends. Everything is just the way she likes it. From life to love to relationships, she knows what she wants, how she wants it, and doesn’t care if anyone agrees or not. And what she doesn’t want is someone trying to tie her down with long-term plans. But Jacob Iverson brings images of the future to her mind, and heart. Jacob somehow knows what she needs and he’s hitting all the right spots. But can Flora give up her idea of independence to let him in?

$2.99 at Amazon Kindle | B&N Nook | Kobo | AllRomanceEbooks | TMP | Smashwords | Bookstrand

Coming soon in print from Amazon | B&N | TMP

Add to your Goodreads Shelf

This week I put my heroes on a game show! Stop by Deep In The Heart Romance and leave me a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance at Ella Drake’s Desert Blade! It’s a Near-Future, Science Fiction Romance, Post-Apocalyptic — Novella!

Shameless Self-Promotion

EDITED: Hi everybody! Cynthia D’Alba sticking her head in. Pam didn’t know how to add pictures and I thought I’d add them so you will see the pure joy on her face at her first signing! Congrats, Pam. 

All of us here at ENALR are romance authors, but you already knew that.  The purpose of this blog is to get to know us as people.  Our likes, dislikes, quirks, families, dreams, pet peeves, etc.  You’ve celebrated anniversaries with us, wept with us over pets, laughed with us about our kids’ antics.  We’ve shaken our collective heads when trying to figure out male logic, and applauded and cheered when house renovations have turned out splendidly.

But because I can’t separate that I’m a romance writer from the rest of my being, the part of myself that I’m sharing will come across as the shameless self-promotion that it is.  But, here it comes anyway because I’m too thrilled to write about anything else today!

My Harlequin Superromance debut novel OUT OF THE DEPTHS released on August 7!!!  Yay!!!  This is the book that Cynthia D’Alba and I were discussing on a beach in Florida one day.  I was frustrated it hadn’t sold.  My agent was frustrated it hadn’t sold.  And as I was venting that frustration one day, Cyndi asked what it was about.  I gave her a short synopsis, after which she uttered those fateful words:  “That sounds like a Superromance.”

I had never read a Superromance, but I started reading them that afternoon.  Wow!  Cyndi was right.  Everything about the line felt right.  My agent agreed, submitted to the line, and the rest is history.

Last week, I walked into the Books-A-Million in my hometown of Paducah, KY and saw one of my books on the shelf for the first time.  It was a feeling like nothing else in the world.  The Yellow Moon Cafe in Cobden, IL, near where I live now, threw a celebration booksigning for me this weekend.  A large crowd showed up–people who cared enough to want to share this special time.  It was thrilling and very humbling.  I tend to be a bit shy, and the thought of being the center of attention had me so intimidated that around 3:00 that afternoon, I was ready to cancel.  But I didn’t–and I’m so glad.  Old friends showed up–some I hadn’t seen in years.  Family.  Former students.  People I’d never met.   An odd conglomeration of personalities coming together to celebrate my dream-come-true.

The highlight of the night came at the end.  The crowd was gone but a small, intimate group remained.  That was when my husband toasted me with champagne.  The pride in his eyes and his voice was another dream-come-true.

And that’s when it hit me that it wasn’t the sales or the reviews or the rankings of the book that was important.  It was the people in my life who believed in me.  Their love and support had made me important for a brief moment in time … made me SOMEBODY.

How about a little shameless self-propmotion of your own.  Share your proud moment with us.  For the first time on this blog, I get to offer a copy of my book to a someone who leaves a comment!  YAY!!!! 🙂

Boots and Chaps (Ugly Stick Saloon #1) by Myla Jackson

Boots and Chaps (Ugly Stick Saloon #1) by Myla Jackson
* I purchased a copy of this book for my personal library*

She gave up stripping to go legit…until three Kiowa cowboys bring on the down-and-dirty.

Jackson Gray Wolf is turning thirty, and what does he have to show for it? A ranch. No wife, no kids, no dates. He’s had his eye on the pretty owner of the Ugly Stick Saloon, but their one accidental encounter was interrupted before he could get her out of her take-me-now red cowboy boots.

Audrey Anderson isn’t in the market for a man. Been there, done that, has the scars to prove it. She retired her pole-dancing boots after purchasing the Ugly Stick Saloon, and now manages a stable of strippers. When she winds up one stripper short for a private party, she’s forced to slip on a mask and into the role of the mysterious Kiki.

Jackson didn’t want the birthday bash his twin brothers are throwing him, but his vow to ignore the rented stripper goes awry when she shows him exactly how far she’s willing to go—for all three of them.

Audrey can’t forget the sizzling heat between her and one sexy Kiowa in particular. Jackson. Trouble is, she’s not sure if he wants the bold, brassy Kiki, or if he’s ready for the wounded woman underneath.

Warning: This title contains hot scenes with multiple partners, with a little BDSM on the side. Caution—it could melt your e-reader!

Audrey is the tough as nails owner of the The Ugly Stick Saloon.  She hung up her dancing chaps when she moved to Temptation and bought the bar.  Now thanks to Charli, both she and her chaps are coming out of retirement.  After her long dry spell, she never expected to find someone willing to fulfill all her needs.

Jackson’s birthday is coming up and his brothers are determined to give him a night he won’t forget.  While at The Ugly Stick Saloon, they book a stripper for a private party on their ranch.  Little did they realize that the stripper they booked for Jackson’s birthday was Audrey?

I couldn’t wait to read this story because it goes hand in hand with the Dirty Tricks series.  We saw Audrey and Jackson dancing around each other and then they were a couple, all told from Charli’s perspective.  I loved finally seeing how their story unfolded and they ended up together in this book.

Audrey and Jackson are perfect together.  They are both strong individuals that have worked hard to get where they are in life.  Both of them had personal issues they needed to work out plus neither one had time for dating or anything else.  With a little help from Charli and his brothers, the two of them finally connected.

Kiki’s strip tease with the boys was sexy as hell.  It was obvious that the sexy Kiowa Indians enjoyed their play time as much as she did.  Jackson had to convince Audrey that he was series and was willing to give her whatever she needed.  Although he wasn’t crazy about sharing her, he was extremely turned on watching her with his brothers.  He was supportive of her needs and didn’t think they were wrong or dirty.  Hell, he even danced naked in front of a bar full of women for her, if that’s not love I don’t know what it is.

The main characters are interesting and compelling, while being perfect for one another.  The secondary characters added additional depth to the book; I was surprised to see that there was more to Mark and Luke than party boys.  It was nice to see characters from the Dirty Tricks series in this book too, a nice tie in to the series.

I loved this book and can’t wait to read the next installment in the Ugly Stick Saloon series.  I give Boots and Chaps 4 Flaming Hearts. 

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