Limecello A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:01:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 On Randomness, Diversity, and Smithsonian Heritage Month Posts Thu, 30 Jul 2015 04:01:34 +0000 Hi friends! So there’s as usual a ton going on … but I spent most of last week in New York, and am in fact still in the state, although no longer in the city. That’s the me update, and there’s a lot of talk and tea spilling, and general … follow up and fall through. We’ll see if any of that comes out here.

NY Met

What I want to say here and now is that I’m looking for romance authors and readers to guest for the upcoming Smithsonian Heritage Month posts for the remainder of 2015. They are Hispanic Heritage Month, and American Indian Heritage Month. I know race/ethnicity is a lot more complicated than those labels and they might not even be the preferred ones, but that’s what the National [Smithsonian] labels are, and that’s what I’m using to keep things consistent.

So, if you are a Hispanic and/or Latino romance reader or writer, or Native American, I would love to have you be a guest for the Heritage Month 2015.

Along those lines, I’m looking to schedule into 2016. We’ve got Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), and American Indian Heritage Month (November). What I want to do in 2016 is open it to anyone not just readers or authors of each specific ethnicity. Since this is a book blog, I want a[nother] focus to be if you’ve ever read a book with such characters that left an impression on you. I’m still working out the details, but I’m looking for people, so if you’re interested, please let me know.

Thanks lovies! I hope to be back to a more regular schedule and content soon!

Till next time, xoxo.

]]> 0
Birthday Girl Jessa Slade! Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:09:34 +0000 Hi friends! I’m half back (ok so physically back to home base but mentally … floating around Pluto?) but also back in the sense that we’ve got another Birthday Guest Birthday Post! Whee!!! And from the fabulous Jessa Slade too! I love that we have such a variety of voices, and that this one is perfectly chill to top us off. <3

Thanks for having me for a birthday post!

Sometimes when you get to be a certain – ahem — age, one forgets to be excited about birthdays anymore, and it’s good to be reminded that birthdays are meant to be fun! Toward that end, I want to share my birthday brunch recipe with you. But since I am that certain age, it’s going to be a healthy birthday brunch. Hold the groans!

Birthday Brunch

  • Homemade Brunch Bars
    1½ cups old fashioned oats (toasted)
    ½ cup fun seeds (chia seed, flax seed, sprouted buckwheat, sprouted millet, quinoa, hemp seed, amaranth, etc.)
    1 T cocoa powder
    1 tsp cinnamon
    ¼ tsp salt
    ½ cup peanut butter
    ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
    ¼ cup almonds, chopped
    ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (let’s be honest; I used more than this)
    Sea salt, to sprinkle
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toast the oats to a golden brown. Toasty oats stay crispier.
  3. After toasting, combine the oats, seed mixture, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, heat the peanut butter and maple syrup (microwave or stovetop) until they mix well. Add to oat mixture.
  5. Stir until dough forms.
  6. Add to a greased 9×9 pan. Sprinkle and press almonds on top.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until set.
  8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle and gently press on mini chocolate chips and sea salt. Lick fingers. Let sit until slightly cool then cut into 8 bars.

Kale-Berry Smoothie Base
One handful each:
— Kale leaves minus the hard center stem
— Blueberries
— Raspberries
— Other dark berries
1 C orange juice
Half an apple
Half a lemon
Cayenne pepper (a little goes a shockingly long way!)

  1. Blend the kale and orange juice until liquefied.
  2. Add everything else.
  3. Don’t inhale the cayenne. Makes enough for several days.
  4. Mix 3 spoonfuls of the base with 3 spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.


Okay, full disclosure: There will be birthday cake too. :)

Healthy AND happy can be a bit of a tricky balance, I think, but it’s a worthy goal because I have a lot of books left to write. One of my latest projects — writing as Elsa Jade — is just wrapping up its first round of books. The Mating Season Collection is six authors contributing three stories each to a shared world of sexy wolf shifter alpha males searching for their true mates.

You can get my first title Wolves of Angel Rest #1: HERO for 99¢ at Amazon or free with Kindle Unlimited.

Please share in comment one way you stay healthy or happy or both. I’ll be giving away three copies of Wolves of Angel Rest #2: JOKER as a birthday gift. Happy reading!

JokerLeela Jones had a mission: kill a werewolf. Instead, she was captured by one. Now Bastian Villalobos, bad boy of the Mesa Diablo pack, has a werewolf hunter on his hands. Wolf shifters and hunters have always been mortal enemies. But under the hungry light of the mating moon, they might be lovers too.

BIO: Jessa Slade writes paranormal romance, urban fantasy romance, and science fiction romance, while her alter egos Jenna Dales writes sexy contemporary romances and Elsa Jade writes sexy shapeshifting romances. Basically, whatever catches her fancy at any given moment.

]]> 8
Review: Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:59:37 +0000 Deb’s Review of Taking the Heat by Victoria Dahl
Contemporary Romance released by Harlequin on July 28, 2015

Taking the HeatPassion this hot can’t be faked…

All revved up for bright lights and steamy nights, writer Veronica Chandler chased her dreams to New York City. When she hit a dead end, reality sent her back home to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Saving her pride and her new gig—writing a relationship advice column!—requires some faking. No one can know the truth about her big-city flop or her nonexistent sex life. But the town’s irresistibly rugged librarian is determined to figure her out…and give her hands-on lessons in every wicked thing she wants to know.

Gabe MacKenzie’s heart might be in Wyoming, but secretly his future’s tied up in his family’s Manhattan legacy. Getting down and dirty with Veronica is supposed to give him a few memorable nights—not complicate his plans. But the thing about heat this scorching is there’s just no going back…and it might be too hot for either of them to take.

Taking the Heat is a deliciously fun and sexy novel I guarantee you’ll want to devour in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books (Looking for Trouble and Flirting with Disaster), plus the novella (Fanning the Flames), in Ms. Dahl’s Girl’s Night Out series. This one just may be my favorite. To be fair, I say that after each of her books. Her female characters are smart, talented, and independent in a subtle way that knocks the wind out of the alpha men who pursue them and eventually win their hearts. It’s never an easy ride, because where would be the fun in that? But it’s a gleefully good ride full of steamy encounters (sex), giggle and sigh inducing banter, and characters who ultimately learn quite a lot about themselves.

Veronica. Dear Veronica! I loved her. As a matter of fact, many of her quirks and insecurities are strikingly similar to mine so I immediately appointed her a kindred spirit. She felt like a loser in high school, and developed the absolute worst opinion of herself. Running off to NYC after graduation didn’t change anything as she’d hoped. (It never does, does it?) She didn’t make those close friends or fall in love or take chances and do crazy things like she’d dreamt of doing. It’s five years later, and she’s returned home to Wyoming dragging along the same dismal opinion of herself. To make matters worse, her disapproving father, the town judge, uses his influence to get her a job; as Dear Veronica, no less, the local paper’s advice columnist. What the heck qualifies her to be an advice columnist? At 27, she still hasn’t found her own identity! Veronica is scared to pieces she will be found out as the fraud she believes she is. But she’s done with being ruled by insecurities. I fist pumped Veronica and the Post-it note affirmations she slaps on the fridge. I cheered as, one by one, she kicks her insecurities to the curb with an f-you to everyone who thinks she’s weird.

I loved the way Ms. Dahl played this out with Veronica’s amazing talent for giving advice. Through cleverly crafted letters and answers for Dear Veronica, we see Veronica’s instinctive grasp of her reader’s troubles and how to solve them. She may not have a wealth of life experience, especially in the sex department, but she darn well knows first hand how doubt and a lack of self confidence can hold you hostage. Dear Veronica’s bold, sassy, and jaw dropping advice is priceless and funny, resulting in overwhelming popularity. Advising her readers to go after what they want and stand up for themselves pushes Veronica to follow her own advice, especially with the hot new librarian. He makes her feel like the person she always hoped she’d be. Their chemistry was so hot it gave me delicious butterflies in the tummy. Watching her let loose her inner vixen and boldly flirt is so much fun!

Gabe MacKenzie is….adorable. I wish you could hear my sigh. Admittedly, I love my guys to be alpha, grouchy, sexy talking Neanderthals who take charge and are kind of clueless until someone knocks them over the head. So when I heard that the hero of this novel was a librarian, I cringed. But I knew if anyone could pull this off it would be Ms. Dahl. And boy, did she pull it off. Gabe is somewhat of a Renaissance man. He’s a librarian, but of the techie variety, in Jackson for one year to get the library up to speed with digital books and all the accoutrement that accompany. Even though he’s from NYC, Gabe is an outdoorsman at heart. He chose this job in Jackson so he could pursue his rock climbing passion. In other words, Gabe is no Pillsbury doughboy. He’s built; major upper body strength, muscled thighs, strong hands. He plays basketball with the firefighters at the station and trains with Search & Rescue. He’s all rugged good looks; beard and floppy hair included. He’s got the kind of sexy that sneaks up on you. And he’s crushing hard on Veronica. Mr. MacKenzie loves to whisper sweet somethings in Veronica’s ear and he’s a verra dirty talker, telling her exactly what he wants to do to her. As if that’s not enough, his dirty talking tongue has other talents, if you know what I mean. I loved Gabe’s maturity and honesty with Veronica. He truly cares about her and loves her crazy mixture of shy, quirky, unsure of herself, and goofy.

Of course, this story wouldn’t be complete without a dilemma that may tear Gabe and Veronica apart. It’s the perfect amount of uncertainty and drama. No dragging it out or making it ridiculous. Best of all, Veronica proves to be stronger than even we thought her to be. I loved this book for so many reasons! Not the least of which being Ms. Dahl’s subtle alpha hero who is thoroughly sexy, sincere, and all man. Plus, he’s a really good dirty talker.

​G​rade: A

You can buy a copy here.
]]> 1
Review: Focus On Me by Megan Erickson Thu, 23 Jul 2015 04:33:27 +0000 Karen’s Review of Focus on Me by Megan Erickson
New adult contemporary (m/m) romance released by Penguin Intermix on July 21, 2015

Focus on MeColin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…

The previous book in this series Trust the Focus was one of my favourite feel good reads of the year, so I was really looking forward to this, and it totally didn’t disappoint. I would say that in theme it’s darker than the previous book, but also that while it isn’t necessary to read Trust the Focus first, it does set the tone, plus its a great read.

Focus on Me, is set on a road trip, and this is used cleverly, so that the normality of the characters lives are dismissed, the focus is on the emotional journey without any mundane life issues really interfering, so that we get an intense and pure look at a relationship. I found this totally riveting, and incredibly emotional. I would also say that there are triggers here if you have issues with mental health and eating disorders.

Colin has been at college, and has left – he is on his way back home to his parents and their restaurant. Colin is a man who loves to take care of things and people. He is also at a crossroads in his life, he feel that he has always run away when things got tough.  Colin is a lovely likeable guy, his focus is on being emotionally happy, and ensuring the happiness of those that he loves. So his return home could be seen as a retrograde step, or the first step in being self aware. He is also a little clueless with a tendency to stick his head in the sand. I think that in the hands of a less accomplished write Colin could have been annoying, and potentially weak, but Erickson develops him so well that you go on his journey with him, and while there were occasions that had me shouting at my book ‘come on Colin’ I was always totally with him.

Riley, aka Runway is one of those guys that if you meet in real life, you are blown away by the colour, he is fascinating and complex, and we are drawn to him, as is Colin, knowing that he is damaged, but perhaps believing that we (read Colin) can be the one to make him better or whole. While Riley’s issues aren’t skirted over there is very delicate balance going on, between making us aware that he has issues, and keeping him attractive and sympathetic as a character. This is accomplished so well, that there are times when I felt that that he was getting better simply by being alive, and by being loved.

The relationship between Colin and Riley could easily have degenerated into cloying co-dependency, especially once the ‘I love yous’ had been said, but here the romantic relationship allows Riley to accept help, and in turn actually help himself. The balance  in this part of the book is so good, and so believable. There is no quick fix, Coin and Riley being together doesn’t magically make everything better. There is no doubt that what they have is a real and loving relationship, but they both have to learn about themselves, and make their own choices alone, before anything lasting can happen for them.

One of Riley’s issues is extremely close to my heart, and the way that Erickson dealt with it was extremely real, and for me that is the strength of this book, it deals with some very serious shit, one of which is not seen as generally affecting men , and deals with them sympathetically and with humanity.

This is totally a love story and there are a few supporting characters, Justin and Landry from Trust the Focus make an appearance, as do the families of Colin and Riley,  but ultimately this is a book about making the right choices for your self, growing up a little.

Because of the subject matter, I found this a difficult read at times, but also found it rewarding and satisfying. Highly recommended.

Grade : A

You can buy a copy here.


]]> 2
Stand in Hiatus Post for Travel Tue, 21 Jul 2015 16:33:17 +0000 Hi friends! So you may (or may not have noticed) that things have been pretty quiet here lately – I’m out and about with intermittent internet, and time, so hopefully I get a chance to fill in posts and such – just … not quite right now.

While I have you though – I’m curious. What’s your favorite place to visit in NY[C]? Or if you’ve never been to the city, where would you most want to go?

]]> 6
Review: Opening Up by Lauren Dane Sat, 18 Jul 2015 04:26:47 +0000 Deb’s Review of Opening Up (Ink and Chrome Book 1) by Lauren Dane
Contemporary erotic romance released by Forever on June 16, 2015

Opening Up

The men of the Twisted Steel custom hot rod and motorcycle shop are great with their hands…and they’re not afraid to get dirty.
PJ is exactly the kind of woman Twisted Steel owner Asa Barrons doesn’t need. The last thing he wants to do is mix business with pleasure, and PJ has some of the best custom detailing he’s ever seen. But the chemistry between them won’t be denied, and soon he’s introducing her to a whole new world in the bedroom, pushing her far beyond anything she’s ever experienced. PJ finds she can’t get enough, but how far is too far before he consumes her completely?

Lauren Dane owes me a new Nook. Fine, I’ll take a Kindle but it had better be fire-proof because it’s all her fault my Nook began overheating in Chapter ONE. By Chapter Three, I was using oven mitts and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the darn thing eventually melted in my lap.

Alright, alright, I’m exaggerating about the Nook. But I’m not exaggerating about the incredible chemistry that ignites when Penelope Jean (PJ) Coleman and Asa Barrons collide in this first book of Lauren Dane’s new Ink & Chrome series, that centers around Twisted Steel, a custom build bike and hot rod shop owned by Asa and his buddy, Duke. I’m not a gearhead but I do appreciate great art and the artists who create it. The men at Twisted Steel are definitely artists and Dane successfully conveys the love, enthusiasm, and pride these guys have for their work which is a big turn on, indeed. PJ’s character intrigued me, she is a woman working her way into the macho world of custom car painting. That takes talent and spunk, both of which PJ has boatloads of. And maybe I was a tad bit interested in Asa as well. *smirk*

If I was given the chance to choose a new identity, it would hands down be Penelope Jean. She is passionate as hell about life and knows what she wants. She sports piercings, tattoos, and you never know what color her hair may be on any given day; but she owns it and makes it beautiful. A true artist, PJ is able to look at a car, talk to the owner, and know just how to paint and detail it to perfection. She has given her all to Coleman Enterprises, the family business, and tried to remain loyal. But when her ideas to expand the business are repeatedly shot down by her father, PJ walks away. And straight into Asa’s life. She’s admired Twisted Steel’s work and is set on convincing Asa he needs her not only in his business, but in his life as well. She knows he’s older and could most likely eat her alive but she’s willing to take her chances. She’s been fantasizing about this beautiful hunk of man ever since they locked eyes and touched hands at a recent industry party. PJ does in fact hold her own against Asa without being a whiny snit. I loved that she called him on his shit but never held a grudge. Their chemistry permeated the pages, and the looks they give each other… Whew! Almost as erotic as the kinky sex Asa introduces PJ to. For being a mere 25 years old, PJ has an incredibly mature outlook on relationships, which I found refreshing as well as a relief. She may have been emotional at times over her father’s undisguised disappointment in her; however, she held her head up and continued on.

Asa Barrons is the perfect compliment to PJ. He’s tall, tattooed, and pierced. His cut body and tough-as-nails attitude is irresistible. I adored Asa’s fierce love and loyalty to his mom, sisters, his friends and his former military buddies. His early childhood was terrifying, but rather than turn him hard and bitter, the experience humbled him. He has scruples. As a matter of fact, his intense attraction to PJ made him uncomfortable because he felt she was too young. But after being coerced to participate in a photo shoot at Twisted Steel where he is paired up with a very sexy PJ, his resolve begins to shatter. (Yes, people, this was the first Oh, My! Nook melting scene) She evoked raw feelings of lust and desire he was ultimately unable to deny. When they get together to talk business, Asa is even more smitten by her business savvy and maturity. At this point, he’s a goner. As if all this wasn’t enough, Asa actually admits when he’s wrong and makes endearing efforts to right things when he’s screwed up with PJ. *swoon*

In addition to PJ and Asa, the secondary characters are so well written that I found myself excited to know more about them as well. They are all family in every sense of the word, related or not. I love this dynamic. Quick, witty, and very clever dialogue had me laughing out loud. Ms. Dane knows her characters inside out and stays true to them throughout the story. All of this combines into a very fun, hot-as-hell, page turner that I couldn’t put down.
And guess what? Duke’s book is next up in August!

Grade: A-

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

]]> 5
TBR Challenge Review: The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe Thu, 16 Jul 2015 04:12:22 +0000 The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin Presents on October 1, 2004

The Italian's Suitable WifeEnrico DiRinaldi wants a wife and children, even though an accident has left him unable to walk. So he proposes a marriage of convenience to Gianna Lakewood. Having always longed for a baby herself — and having secretly loved Enrico since she was a teenager — Gianna can’t say no.

The passion Enrico ignites in his innocent bride leaves her breathless. But when she realizes that his full recovery is imminent, and his beautiful ex-fiancée is waiting in the wings, Gianna is sure he won’t want her any more. So why is Enrico so intent on keeping his convenient wife by his side?

It’s TBR Challenge Time and I’m a day late and a dollar short, as usual. This month we were supposed to read a “RITA book” – whether it be a winner, or a nominee I believe. I have to be honest, I’ve never had much luck with RITA books, and aside from being happy for authors with their nominations and/or wins, I don’t take them into consideration. Accordingly, I went with a comfort read. I want to say I first read this book right around the time it was published, and have re-read it numerous times since.

Gianna is something of an atypical Harlequin Presents heroine, especially for 2004. She’s not a total doormat, and although she’s a total emotional pushover when it comes to Rico, she does get some of her own back. Gianna is warm, loving, uncertain, and passionate. I found her character and age realistic, especially as someone who had been pining for a man since ~girlhood. It was nice that Gianna gets along so well with the DiRinaldi family and already has an established relationship with all of them. It saved her from being too put-upon, and gave her the support and confidence she needed.

Enrico DiRinaldi is your typical Harlequin Presents hero. A take charge tycoon, Latin Lover, and something of an asshole. I liked that we got his perspective at time, and a look into his uncertainties. It was also nice that he admitted them to Gianna in the end, which really cements the fact that they have a real, believable relationship, not just something that happened because it’s the formula of the book/publisher line. Rico experiences all sorts of new emotions, and realizes he’s fallen in love in typical emotionally stunted male fashion. Lucy Monroe is a really great writer that digs into your emotions, and you really feel for Rico, even when he’s being a jerk outwardly.

There were a few things that I didn’t find believable – that she was an assistant  professor at age 23. I found that unrealistic even in 2004. Also the evil model ex-fiancée was borderline evil mustache twirling villain, but what mostly makes up for it is that Rico takes care of things in the end. The first intimate scene(s) are a bit extreme, but I’d put that down mostly to the Harlequin category format. (And the year.)

If you enjoy category and/or Harlequin romances, I definitely recommend this one. It made me tear up on the metro when I read it this most recent time. Yes, even knowing what was coming and on public transport. It might be a little bit of nostalgia and emotional attachment for me, but I really like The Italian’s Suitable Wife. I think it’s how Rico comes around and his character growth that forms his relationship with Gianna that does it for me.

Grade: B+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

]]> 0
Teaser Tuesday Exclusive Excerpt: An Unsuitable Duchess by Carolyn Jewel Tue, 14 Jul 2015 07:00:06 +0000

Dancing in the Duke's ArmsAn Unsuitable Duchess by Carolyn Jewel The duke of Stoke Teversault has well earned his reputation for bloodless calculation. Indeed, recently widowed Georgina Lark has no idea he’s loved her since before her late husband swept her off her feet. Stoke Teversault means to keep it that way. The cold and forbidding duke and the blithe and open Georgina could not be less suited in any capacity. And yet, when Georgina and her sister arrive at his home, his ice-bound heart may melt away. Georgina Lark has never thought of the duke of Stoke Teversault as a man capable of inducing passion in anyone. He’s long disapproved of her, but she will be forever grateful to him for his assistance after her husband died. It’s been a year since she’s realized he’s not the man she thought. Can she convince him to open his heart to her?

An Unsuitable Duchess– excerpt from Chapter 12 by Carolyn Jewel, from the Anthology Dancing in the Duke’s Arms.

George tensed when she saw Stoke Teversault walking the path to the pond. She wished she hadn’t decided to come here, but she had and now it was too late to hide. She could be as cool as he could be. She would be.

It was her plan to pretend she’d not seen him, and then, when he saw her, he could decide to walk away. He would return to the house, and no one need admit that there was no repairing the break between them that had existed since the day she’d told him she was not in love with his brother.

She was prepared to have him avoid her as he had these past two days. He continued walking. Why? Why hadn’t he taken the chance when he’d had it? He was a clever man. He would know he could turn away. It wasn’t too late yet. She kept her eyes forward, but she could hear him coming nearer. Now, she thought. Now, he must realize he was at the very limit of where he could retreat with their pretense of ignorance intact.

Mrs. Lark.”

She did not love Lord William but that had not been enough to fix whatever had gone wrong. She would rather go back to his disdain of her than endure knowing she had made this painful for him. She hid the rest of the bread she’d cadged from the duke’s chef in her reticule. “Good morning, Your Grace.”

He stood on the path, unmoving.

She steeled herself, but the words she’d rehearsed a dozen times flew out of her head. “I wish I could fly or turn invisible. Or could travel back in time to never make a fool of myself.”

I beg your pardon.”

But I have. Made myself foolish to you, I mean. We shouldn’t have come. Kitty and I.” She sank into the drama that had overwhelmed her these past days. “I should never have let Lord William convince us to come here. I did so want Kitty to have a chance to meet fashionable people. With Hugh away, we don’t see many gentlemen worthy of her. I was selfish for I so wanted to see Teversault for myself. I ought to have known you would prefer we not come here.” She drew breath. “Therefore, I’ve decided that we shall leave.”

Mrs. Lark. There is no reason for you to leave. You have not troubled me in the least.”

She stared across the water, then looked at him, determined to make things right between them. “Except when you feared I meant to marry your brother.”

He held her gaze, and her stomach swooped. “I am a difficult man to know and more difficult to befriend, I’m told.”

I can’t think who’d dare tell you something like that.” The birds had stopped singing, as well they must. What creature would risk displeasing Stoke Teversault?

His smile was pained. “You needn’t leave on my account, unless what you mean to say is that you cannot tolerate me.”

She dug her toe into the gravel then realized she oughtn’t. “I did not say that.”

If you leave, I will think you believe it.”

She stared at him, perplexed. He was serious. She narrowed her eyes at him and then smiled and extended her hand to him. “Good morning, Your Grace. How delightful that you should decide to walk here at the same time I did.”

For the space of two heartbeats, he did not react. Then, he took her hand and bent over it. “A happy coincidence, indeed.”

Lovely morning, don’t you agree?” she said when he’d released her hand.

Yes.” He stood beside her and watched the water with her. The swans and several of the ducks had swum away one she’d stopped throwing them treats. “Not too warm.”

Not yet. Perhaps later, though.” She was going to learn how to behave with the duke if it killed her, and she thought it would. “I do prefer cooler weather. Don’t you?”

His arrival brought the birds to the edge of the pool, with the ducks being quite vocal.

Yes.” He drew a hunk of bread from his pocket. The noise from the birds increased. “Better for the nerves, one hears.”

Yes. Nerves.” She didn’t want to look at him but she did. He looked especially fashionable today, with his beaver hat and a greatcoat of chocolate wool. “One does wish to avoid a case of the nerves.”

He tore off bits of bread and tossed them onto the water. The swans floated close, necks arched gracefully. He turned his head to her, and she froze, and then hated herself for being caught in his gaze. His nose was too long and too boney, his cheeks too sharp, and his mouth was as hard as his heart. “Greedy beggars.”

Yes, they are.” She forced herself to reply when she’d rather stare at his face and ponder why she found him so attractive. “Beautiful, greedy beggars.”

He tore off more bits of bread and extended a handful to her. “Would you like to feed them?”

George opened her reticule and took out the bread she’d shoved inside. She held it up. “I came prepared.”

Chef muttered something about nice fat ducks this morning.” He laughed and tossed his handful of crumbs onto the water. “When I am in residence, I cannot bear to think of not bringing them something in the morning.”

Why don’t you instruct the staff to make sure they get something?”

He hesitated, then said, “I do.” His features returned to hard nonchalance, while she took her turn tossing bits of bread. “I believe you’re wrong about my brother.”

What do you mean?”

He is fond of you.”

As I am fond of him.”

More than he is of any other.”

You’ve no cause for worry.” She put a hand on his upper arm, and he glanced at her, one eyebrow arched. “It’s very odd to me, but nevertheless true, that though Lord William is handsome, unfairly so, I should say, I feel no spark of…” How frank should she be? Enough, she understood, to put his fears to rest. “There is no attraction between us. I believe I ought to feel something in that nature, for what woman would not find in him much to admire?” She lifted her hands in a gesture of her helplessness in the face of such facts. “Yet…”

]]> 1
Guest Deelylah Mullin: WTF Was I Thinking? Tue, 07 Jul 2015 07:07:38 +0000 Hi friends! The Universe has been treating me to a lot of WTFery so I felt this was the perfect post to share here. As you see we’ve got Deelylah Mullin visiting with us, so enjoy! [Yes, I’m trying to tie things all together and honestly I know Deelylah is going to much more entertaining and interesting that I am today. So THERE YOU HAVE IT!] WHEE!

WTF Was I Thinking?

The BossMany thanks to Limecello for letting me guest post today! Y’all are getting a bit of stream-of-consciousness about stuff today. :-)

I am a teacher. Anyone that’s ever been a teacher knows it’s much more work to get ready for a substitute than to actually show up for work. Teachers work all the time when they’re sick, stressed-out, and a host of other reasons normal people don’t go to work.

I *chose* to be a teacher. This is all on me.

I am super excited to see some of my friends on Wednesday. Now, most of you are probably thinking, “Wait. It’s summer. Teachers don’t work in the summer!” Most of the time, you’d be right. However, I teach in a residential placement facility. We have summer school. So, for me to see some of the special people in my life that I don’t get to see often, I have to make sub plans. Which are the bane of my existence.

I’m starting my fourth year teaching in this location. I’ve been teaching since 1991. Yes. That makes next year my silver anniversary of teaching. You’d think I would have a ‘system’ down by now, but that’s not the case. Legislators keep sticking their noses into my classroom. Standards and curricula change. We need to collect data on everything we do. What makes that even more of a challenge is the fact I’m also a special education teacher. Even MORE data.

So, by this point you’re thinking, “WTF does this have to do with anything pertinent to my life?” Bear with me. I’m getting there.

With bachelor degrees in music and English, as well as that master’s in special education, I’ve taught music for fourteen years, English for five years, college composition for two years, and I was a special education resource room teacher for three years. I like teaching. It makes me happy when the lightbulb goes on and my students ‘get’ a concept.

But it’s not my passion.

I always knew something was missing. When I was in college in the 80s, I majored in music because I was awarded a full-ride, ability-based scholarship. I added an English major, with a creative writing focus. I’ve always wanted to write. In March of 2013, I started editing books, quite by accident.

In editing, I found my passion.

Athena's AshesEditing makes me happy. It uses my skillsets, and I still get to teach my authors a thing or two about words. Even though it’s a behind-the-scenes thing, I still take pride in my author’s achievements. When I get an email with recent statistics and new news about a book that ends with, “We made that!!!” I get all warm and fuzzy inside. I always want to sit on my yoga ball chair at my desk and edit. I don’t really consider it work most of the time. The adrenaline rush of making a deadline is a high unlike any other for me. My stomach gets butterflies on release day, and I wait alongside authors for the first reviews to come in. I watch rankings on retailers.

If I could edit full-time, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I still don’t know WTF I was thinking when I decided to be a teacher, other than I like working with words, and I like problem solving. I mean, what *do* you do with a BA in music, other than teach? Not much, especially when I didn’t want to move away from my family. I knew I wasn’t going to become a great author five minutes after graduating. So, I taught.

If I weren’t teaching summer school, I wouldn’t have to make sub plans to spend the day with friends on Wednesday. I might be a little resentful of my teaching gig because I have to spend time, in which I could be editing, to finish those plans, probably. If I were editing full time, I’d just have to be ahead on my projects so I could afford, time-wise, to not work for a day. Piece of cake.

So, I’ll make my plans and continue to wonder WTF I was thinking. But someday, I’ll be able to do, full time, what brings me joy. And that’s play with words.

]]> 1
Happy Independence Day! Sat, 04 Jul 2015 11:04:45 +0000 It’s a holiday, my friends! Well,  if you aren’t stateside, it’s just happy fourth to you. :) I’ve decided to share the Declaration of Independence today. It’s obviously an incredibly important document – not just to the United States –  as it set off a number of important and historic changes. I think we often forget about the actual words. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time I read it through… so here we go. I hope you join me in taking a minute to read what our founding forefathers wrote. Of course they weren’t perfect, but with some things … yes.

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


I didn’t include all 56 names … but you can read them here. And you can find out more about the Declaration here, on the National Archives page. Which is also where I copied the text from. [Thanks, Government!]

So I hope you all have a happy and fun July 4th. And if you’re not American … well, we appropriate a number of holidays, so turn those tables and join us! Grill something. Eat red, white, and/or blue foods. (Yes, this is why there are always so many cakes etc with white frosting, decorated with strawberries or raspberries, and blueberries.) Light some sparklers and twirl!


]]> 3