It took me a long time to fall in love for the very first time.
A long, long time.
And once I did, I stayed in love, going on 33 years now.
I was raised by a single mother who divorced my father when she was still pregnant with me. She remarried when I was six years old. Shuttling between my remarried mother and my remarried father – who had visitation – I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Coupled with the fact my parents (the biological ones, not the steps) often spoke of the other in very derogatory and mean terms, lamenting their time together, I always felt there was a subtle implication that if I hadn’t been born, things would have turned out better for them.
Let me be clear: neither of them ever said this to me. It was more an impression ingrained in me by their vitriol about one other.
So I promised myself from a very young age that I would never fall in love and get married. It was too hurtful if things went wrong – like it did in my parent’s marriage – especially if there were children involved and in the cross hairs.
That promise broke when I met my now-husband.
I was in my twenties and had had one steady boyfriend up until then. Our relationship was toxic, but I really didn’t care because I knew I had no future with him. Once we broke it off I wasn’t even sorry or sad.
Yeah, I know. That says a lot about me right there, doesn’t it.
Not a week later I met the man who would change my life – and my mindset – forever.
We met, as happenstance would have it, while I was changing a urinary catheter on a male patient I was assigned. I’d never changed a male’s catheter before despite being a nurse for a while, and since he was the intern assigned to the patient and he’d ordered the catheter placed, he was in the room when I performed the procedure.
And he talked me through it.
I was blushing like wildfire, totally embarrassed that this good looking guy who was only a few years older than I was, was instructing me in how to insert a urinary catheter into a man.
A naked and comatose man.
But he was totally calm and very patient and professional.
It’s a seven day wonder my face didn’t explode from the heat rising up it when he said, “Okay, grasp the shaft in your left hand and hold it taut, upright, so you can slide the cannula down through its length,” or, “Now, tape the catheter to his leg but don’t do it so tight that you’ll yank his penis.”
Talking about genitalia with someone you’ve never met before – and of the opposite sex – while you’re holding said genitalia in your gloved hands is not something I recommend for the fainthearted.
Once we got through it – and I survived – I thanked him and he asked me out to dinner on one of our rare days off from the hospital.
We dated for four years before he asked me to marry him. He wanted to be settled in his career and able to provide for his wife and family, because, as he told me, I’m doing this once in my life, and it’s important I get it right from the beginning.
How could I help but love him?
33 years later, still do!
Vanilla with a Twist
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Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop's machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn't had a day off in a decade and wonders if she'll ever be able to live a worry-free life.
Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher's Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy's shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.
Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?
More About Peggy
Peggy Jaeger writes contemporary romances about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all aspects of life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness, and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
I live near Charlotte, NC, where ‘winter’ means I still get to wear flip flops every week, if not every day. I own one snow shovel, and I think there may be an ice scraper in my car somewhere. Maybe. I do not own a winter coat, and the winter boots I own are old, left over from my previous life in the frozen north. This winter, for instance, has graced us with one day of several hours of swirling flurries that never amounted to anything. Whew!
But this wasn’t always the case. I grew up in northern Pennsylvania, where snow was no joke. I can remember the excitement of a snow day from school. My brothers and I would practically hold our collected breath while we waited for our school district to be announced. And then we were free! We’d play outside until we resembled popsicles. I learned to drive in the snow, something my new neighbors aren’t very good at.
And then I got older. And worked in hospitals; places they expect you to come in when there’s a foot, or two, of snow on the ground. And snow didn’t seem so fun. State of emergency? Yep, still had to get there.
Five years ago, my husband and I moved to NC. I donated my winter coat and an assorted collection of gloves, scarves, and hats before the move. I wouldn’t be needing them anymore!
Spring has always meant renewal or rebirth to me. Every year, I waited not so patiently for my Daffodils to poke their heads up. That meant that winter was on the run. When we lived near Philadelphia, I waited for the Phillies pitchers and catchers to report to Spring Training in Florida. I wasn’t a baseball fan, still not, but that for sure meant Spring was around the corner.
Not only were the northern winters snowy, but they were also cold and grey. Very grey. It sometimes felt as though months passed without seeing the sun. And it weighed me down, made me sad. It got so bad that I started to not like Fall, even though I had always loved it. I mean who doesn’t? But Fall meant that Winter was chasing its heels.
But not anymore! People here complain about the summer with its heat and humidity. You’ll never catch me doing that! And spring, even though it grows shorter every year, is a time to celebrate. Those first buds on the trees, the scent of flowers in the air, the longer hours of sunshine! These things lighten my heart and encourage my smile.
I even enjoy spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new! Any day now, I’ll be opening the windows for the first time and letting in fresh air. I can hardly wait!
Dr. Elizabeth Abbott Fitzgerald has spent the last ten years of her life running; from tragedy, from family, from love. But now her mother’s failing health calls her home to Windsor Falls, North Carolina; to the place where her past awaits. Sam Bishop can’t believe his eyes when the love of his life returns after ten long years. All he wants is to clear his conscience and get back the family he lost when Connor, his best friend and Elizabeth’s husband died tragically. Could it really be true that time heals all wounds?
More About Kimberley
Kimberley O’Malley is a transplant to Charlotte, North Carolina from the frozen North. She is learning to say y’all but draws the line at sweet tea. Sarcasm is an art form in her world. She writes small town Contemporary romances and hilarious Cozy Mysteries. When not writing, she is a full-time nurse and part-time soccer Mom, but not necessarily in that order. She shares her life with an amazing husband of more than 23 years, two teenagers, and one very sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Molly.
Who can resist a magazine quiz, particularly when it promises insight into your personality? Of course, as adults, we’ve learned not to put too much credence in such silliness. We understand they’re just for fun. But I still remember one that I took at age thirteen, back when I was looking for answers into who I was and what my life would hold. This quiz had a question that equated your favorite season with your personality—whether you were a romantic or an adventurer, fun-loving or practical.
The options went something like this:
What is your perfect day?
My answer was certain, what could be better than the first day of spring? But according to this quiz, that made me an adventurer. That had to be wrong! Even at thirteen, I knew I was a romantic. I wasn’t an adventurer. I wasn’t bold—and yet—the first day of spring beckoned to me. It does still.
When we turned our clocks an hour ahead at the beginning of March, and my coworkers and family bemoaned losing an hour, I awoke from my winter doldrums. As blossoms break out on trees, the world turning incrementally toward the spring equinox, I come alive. Possibilities and opportunities beckon. Longer, warmer days where flowers bloom make me truly happy after months of slogging through drippy, drab days. Skipping outside to garden, to plant the seeds that will grow into food and flowers, to feel that sun on my skin, offers me hope.
And right now, we need hope—hope that warmer days will make for a better, safer place in times of trouble. Even amidst uncertainty, I believe that we’ll come through our difficult times. A happy ending is out there, waiting for us to reach it. Romance and adventure await.
Here’s to the promise of spring.
Steal My Heart
When a fantasy turns into a cold reality
Lexanne Harris had a plan down to the last sexy detail. Never did she think her attempt to spice up her love life with her boyfriend would involve her in a burglary with a sexier than sin thief whose emerald eyes and serious between the sheets skills are impossible to forget. As a police detective she is expected to stand on the side of the law and fight for justice. But what happens when the lines of justice blur and what’s wrong becomes way too tempting?
The situation might be challenging but Lexanne is determined to get assigned to the case, recover the jewels and catch the culprit.
The question is: What will she do with her sexy cat burglar when she catches him?
More About Aimee
Having lived in both California and Texas, Aimee O’Brian now resides in the beautiful wine country. With her three children grown and experiencing their own adventures, she and her husband are free to explore the world. When she’s not reading, writing, or planting even more perennials in her garden, she can be found stomping through ancient ruins and getting lost in museums.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Scottish romance as much as the next lass. My favourite Scottish series are: Outlander, Love at Stakes (highly recommend this one), and Highlander.
Okay, these series have a paranormal touch, but they’re still Scottish romance.
When I started reading historical romance, years ago, I wondered why there were so many covers with shirtless Highlanders. Was there something about Scotsmen I didn’t know? Why Scottish romance and not, I don’t know, Swiss romance? Where did the myth of the romantic highlanders come from?
So I did a bit of digging.
You’re probably going to roll your eyes, but I found that the Scottish romance trope comes from Queen Victoria. Yes. Vicky again.
After the death of her husband, Victoria spent a lot of time in her castle in Balmoral, Scotland, and became a very good friend of her servant, John Brown.
(Here's a Wikipedia link: John Brown )
John took care of the horses, proudly wore a kilt, and called the queen “wumman,” since he refused to address her as Your Highness or My Queen. He thought those titles were nonsense (a true Jacobite, if you ask me, but I digress).
Strong and handsome, John didn’t give a toss about etiquette, shocking Victoria’s daughters and sons and the entire London’s aristocratic society with his informal manners. Soon, rumours about the relationship between Victorian and John spread. The Scotsman earned a few nicknames, like the Queen’s lover and the Queen’s stallion. Victoria always dismissed the chit-chats, claiming that John was only a good friend.
Maybe it was true, maybe it wasn’t.
One thing is certain. The queen wasn’t the only one who found John attractive. Secretly, many ladies swooned over the hunky Scotsman, envying the queen and her long horse-ridings with her servant.
So that’s it. This is how Scotsmen got their place in one of the most famous romantic tropes we still very much enjoy today.
The Royal Occult Bureau #1
My name is Asia Quicksilver, and my life has never been a bed of roses. Well, I spent a lot of time in a bed, but not to sleep. As a whore of the luxurious brothel De Luna House, I’ve seen a lot of action in the bedsheets . Not that I’m planning to whore myself forever. Once I set aside enough pounds to move out of London, I’ll start afresh.
My little plan goes out of the window when a handsome and menacing man asks to be my exclusive client. I can’t refuse. The pay is too good.
Except that he doesn’t just want to tell me his name, but he doesn’t want to touch me. He doesn’t undress me. He doesn’t even want to see me naked. It’s the first time I meet a man who pays good money to watch me read a book.
Apparently, he’s interested only in sitting in my bedroom for the whole night. When he claims that an incubus is after me, I don’t believe him. He must be another one of those opium addicts that cram London’s streets.
But after a man with uncanny strength, speed, and charm attacks me, I wonder if my new, dark client is right.
**Paranormal romance for adults. It contains sex scenes. This is the first book of The Royal Occult Bureau series and it ends with a tiny cliff-hanger (not a dead or alive situation) and a HFN**
I’m an entomologist and a soil biologist, which is a fancy way to say that I dig in the dirt, looking for bugs. I was a kid when I read The Lord Of The Rings and fell in love with fantasy novels. When I discovered cosy mystery, I fell in love with Hercules Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. Then I grew up and . . . Nah, I’m joking. Don’t grow up, folks! It’s a trap.
My GrouP : https://www.facebook.com/groups/2500803636871995/
Landing page: https://mailchi.mp/f3c0a9bf3544/barbararussell
Hi! To start off, please tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you write.
I’m Amy Ruth Allen and I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it’s still winter! I grew up abroad but spent summers with my grandparents in a small town in western Pennsylvania, called Scottdale, which is the inspiration for my fictional town of Finch’s Crossing. I write small-town, wholesome romance featuring strong women and a parade of eccentric supporting characters, such as a tea shop owner who learns to tweet in her nineties! The series focuses on four sisters, each named after a season, and each with her own personal challenges. Each book has several plot lines, a lot of romance and humor, and even a bit of mystery.
How did you become an author? Please share a bit of your journey with us.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a girl, and don’t think I could do or be anything else. I wrote for my high school newspaper and yearbook. In college and graduate school, I studied English and journalism and wrote for newspapers and magazines as a freelancer steadily for the next 10 years. My first “real job” was as the editor of a children’s history magazine. From there I graduated to writing for middle-school readers, and then I wrote a young adult novel. I made the switch to romance about five years ago, and haven’t looked back!
What are you working on now? Do you have a recent or upcoming release?
I am finishing my Finch’s Crossing series. The second book, Spring, came out March 8 as an e-book on Amazon. The paperback will follow shortly. Summer will be out in August and Winter will be available in the fall. The first book, Autumn, and a holiday novella, Martha, are both available as well. If you want sneak peek, you can visit my website, amyruthallen.com, and read the first chapters of Autumn, Spring and Summer. Because I love to write about small towns, my next series will also be set in a cozy community…somewhere. I’m still exploring all of my options and enjoying the delicious feeling that comes from starting something totally new!
What is the most challenging part of writing romance?
Probably meeting readers’ expectations. I write clean romance, and so I have to walk the line between making it, well, romantic, but keeping it clean.
What kind of research do you do when you set out to write a new book?
I tend to do my research as I go along. For example, the main character in my work in progress, Summer, has just opened a yoga studio. I did a little reading about yoga before I started, but as I’m writing I’m researching what I need when and where I need it. I find this is very efficient. One thing I am a stickler for, however, is keeping a style guide of all the characters, places, events, businesses, street names, etc. that appear in my books. I have descriptions for each character, including what their houses look like and what cars they drive. I also keep an actual map of the town of Finch’s Crossing so I can consult it as needed. It’s important to me to be accurate and consistent, down to what side of the street a shop is on or how long it takes to walk from one place to another.
Please share one piece of advice to aspiring authors - what do you wish someone would have told you? Or, what did someone tell you that you’d like to pass on to others?
Traditional convention is that you should write every day. If that works for you, great. It doesn’t work for me. However, my advice is this: Don’t let too much time pass between writing sessions. You’ll lose your place and momentum. I learned this the hard way.
If you could live in any time in history, when and where would it be?
Part of me would love to go back to the 1980s before the digital explosion. I used to correspond through the mail (actual handwritten letters) with friends and family. I still do that, but I don’t get as many responses as I used to.
Any last words before we go into the speed round?
Thank you for allowing me to share a little bit about myself and my books!
City, suburb, or small-town?
Small town! I love the cozy, comfortable feeling of belonging.
What’s your favorite type of chocolate?
Hershey’s Bar. And truffles. And Heath bars. And milk chocolate with raisins and hazelnuts. And…
Wine, whiskey or punch?
Wine. Rose in summer, red in winter, and champagne on book release day!
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, or other?
Thanksgiving and Christmas
Leather, lace, or silk?
Cake, cookies, or crumpets?
Cats, dogs, or exotics?
Dogs. All of my dogs have been named after literary figures! Jane Austen, George Eliot, and my current little cutie, Jessica Fletcher.
March 8, 2020
Contemporary Small Town ~ Sweet ~ Women's Fiction
Finch's Crossing is a heart-warming, small-town fiction series, following the lives of the four Hamilton sisters, Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter, who are all searching for the same thing: sustaining, unconditional love. The series features a supporting cast of lovable eccentrics, and a lot of small town quirkiness. Fans of Debbie Macomber, Oliva Miles and Kay Correll will be happily drawn into the life of this charming town.
In book two of the Finch's Crossing series, thirty-six, Spring Hamilton is at a crossroads in her modeling career. Not as young as she used to be, but still beautiful, she has severed ties with her controlling manager, and for the first time must shape her future alone. She knows if she doesn’t transition her career now, she will end up as an elderly model in mail-order catalogs. As she relocates from Los Angeles to New York City, she detours to Finch’s Crossing, her hometown which is nestled in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, for a quick visit with her sister, Autumn.
Meanwhile, the merchants of Finch’s Crossing’s retail shopping district are planning a Bridal Expo to promote the town as a wedding destination. When Spring discovers that the well-meaning but quirky merchants are going to “practice” on Autumn’s sudden nuptials, she seizes the opportunity to help Autumn keep control of her own wedding. And armed with her project-oriented personality and an MBA, Spring can help with the Expo, while considering what comes next in her own life. She decides to stay in Finch’s Crossing for a few weeks to lend her celebrity status to the event before she moves on to New York and her new life.
But a chance encounter with Gabriel Vignaroli, Spring’s high school sweetheart, rekindles feelings she didn’t know she still had, launching her into reckless circumstances she never could have predicted. She couldn’t possibly be the kind of person who would fall in love with another woman’s husband, could she?
And to further complicate matters, during Spring’s time of self-discovery and renewal, a nameless, faceless bully is wreaking havoc on the town with a flurry of poison pen letters, threatening to reveal the residents’ darkest secrets. Some find it too coincidental that the letters began as soon as Spring arrived. Others are looking over their shoulders and around corners for the culprit. Suddenly, trusted and loved friends and neighbors are suspects in a vicious game. And Gabe, the man who broke Spring’s heart almost two decades earlier, is clinging to his secret for dear life, hoping no one, especially the cruel letter writer, discovers it.
After you've enjoyed Spring, you'll want to return to Finch's Crossing! Check out Book One Autumn, and Martha, a Christmas golden years novella, both available on Amazon.
More About Amy
I'm an American girl who grew up overseas, riding elephants in Thailand, dancing around the Maypole in Sweden, drinking tea in the United Kingdom, and touring castles across Europe. In these foreign (to me) and exotic locales, books were both my anchor and my escape. They connected me to my native land (and English-speakers in general), while introducing me to worlds even more awesome than my own. Fast forward to present day in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I am the author of the YA novel, Stealing Away, the small town cozy fiction series Finch's Crossing, and seven non-fiction books for young adults.