Friday, May 17, 2024

NAME THE DOG CONTEST

 By Caroline Clemmons

In the book I’m currently writing, SIDNEW AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Book 6, Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides Series, a stray dog is one of the characters. One of my daughters wanted him to be a Lacy Blue, the only dog breed developed in Texas and now the Texas State Dog. We are dedicated Texans. However, after deliberation, I decided he needed to be scruffier than the Lacy Blue, the breed developed by the three Lacy brothers in 1860. That beautiful breed needs lots of exercise, which Sidney and Genevieve are not in a position to provide. So, he’s going to be a mixed breed.

THE DOG


When he shows up the first time, he looks as if he’s been rolling in a mud puddle. He’s too thin, but very affectionate. If he stands on his hind legs, his paws can rest on the heroine’s shoulders. So far, I’ve referred to him as “the dog,” but he needs a name.

I’ll award a $10. Amazon gift card to the person who suggests the winning name. To enter here, just leave a comment.

You can also enter by leaving a comment at Caroline’s Cuties, my Facebook Reader Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/277082053015947 If you’re not already a member, why not join?

The winner will be announced on Facebook on May 21st.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and keep reading!


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Ghost of Seagull Cottage by Anne Allen

 

 


A haunting tale of love, loss and finding one's place in the world inspired by The Ghost and Mrs Muir.


The Ghost of Seagull Cottage

The Guernsey Novels Book 9

by Anne Allen

Genre: Supernatural Romance

A haunting tale of love, loss and finding one’s place in the world


Widowed artist Annabel returns to Guernsey seeking a fresh start for herself and her young daughter away from her late husband’s controlling family. Seagull Cottage appears perfect, by the sea and with a low rent. The snag is it comes with a resident ghost, Daniel, a sea captain who died 70 years ago in 1946. He built the cottage and objects to anyone not family living there. He and Annabel have to come to terms with sharing what he still considers to be his home.


After a difficult start they begin to share their pasts and an unlikely friendship blooms, becoming deeper as they spend more time together. Annabel realises she’s falling for him but would she truly prefer a ghost to a real live man?


Blending elements of romance, mystery and the supernatural into a compelling tale about the power of human connection which presents a modern twist on R.A. Dick's novel The Ghost and Mrs Muir and the classic movie of the same name.



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**Don’t miss the rest of The Guernsey Series!**


Find them on 

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Anne Allen lives in Devon in the UK but originates from Rugby, the home of Rugby football. Finding early on in life that she loved the sea she has spent most of her adult years moving from one coast to another, the furthest being the Spanish coast of Costa Blanca. Her happiest time was spent in Guernsey where she lived for nearly 14 years and her books are all set on this beautiful island. By profession Anne was a psychotherapist but has now retired and fills her time with writing and painting. To date she has published eight standalone stories in The Guernsey Novels series, focusing on love, mystery, drama and relationships, and with a touch of historical influence. Some titles are dual-time or time-slip. The ninth in the series, The Ghost of Seagull Cottage, is due to be published in May 2024 and was inspired by the classic movie, “The Ghost and Mrs Muir”, itself based on the book by R A Dick.


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Monday, May 13, 2024

Waking Tamara by Beverly Ovalle

 

 


 The apocalypse has been and gone.

Generations have passed.

The old world wakes up to a future they never imagined.

Waking Tamara

A Dragon’s Fated Heart Book 4

by Beverly Ovalle

Genre: Paranormal Romance  



 The apocalypse has been and gone.

Generations have passed.

The old world wakes up to a future they never imagined.


Indra answers a mating call and is plunged into his future. He’s drawn to a beauty frozen in the

past. He wants more than a kiss when he wakes her. But he has to have patience.


Gazing into Indra’s eyes, Mara is instantly smitten. One surprise after another has her believing

in fairy tales. But there are no princes in her story, only dragons.


Believing in dragons isn’t the hard part. Even becoming a dragon brings her more pleasure than

she’d ever dreamed. But being told she’s becoming a parent without her consent.


Nope.


Indra has some groveling to do.


Indra was magnificent in the daylight. His dark scales shimmered with different shades of green and brown. If you didn’t know he was there, he blended into the earth and surroundings. She licked her lips. If she didn’t know it was Indra, she’d be wet-her-pants scared right now. “Now what?” As a dragon, he was a bit intimidating. 

“Now this.” Mischief sparkled in his eyes. He leaped and grabbed her. Then set her in the IBC container. His talons hooked through the metal grating surrounding what was left of the white plastic tank. He soared up and Mara’s feet slid. 

She quickly sank down to sit against the container wall. She used Indra’s pants to cushion her bottom. From the shape it was in, she would have to agree that plastic didn’t degrade. She doubted anyone was still producing them. Which meant this container was close to a couple hundred years old. Maybe. The date stamped into the plastic bottom was 2007. Ironically, a number five recycling symbol was also pressed into the bottom, yet it was still around. Her race had done their best to destroy their world without even trying. Hopefully, they would do better this time around.  

She really wished she had a way of telling how much time had passed. Nine generations would indicate a minimum time of around one hundred eighty years. If you counted twenty years as a generation. Her brain hurt thinking about it. 

Mara laughed to herself. It didn’t even matter in the scheme of things. It wasn’t like the waking up of a few hundred people from before the apocalypse would rebuild the world.  

She felt it would be a huge culture shock for the majority of those they were waking. Then, once they met shifters, their world would be turned on edge. The dragons had no intention of going back into hiding. It didn’t seem like the wolves would either. She had to wonder where the population percentages stood. 

The basket stopped moving and jarred her slightly as it hit the ground. She threw Indra’s pants out of the basket and stood. 

Indra shifted and lifted her out and dressed. “Thanks. Let’s get the corn in the basket.” 

They leaned over and started tossing the ears in the plastic container. It was tedious. Mara and Indra groaned and stretched out their backs. 

Indra pulled her in for a hug and tugged her off the ground with a bit of a shake. 

“Oh.” Her back cracked. Mara dropped her head forward onto Indra’s chest. “Thank you.” 

“We should get back. Hopefully, they found your dad or your brother.” He squeezed her, then tilted her face toward him. “Or we could stay here for a while.” His lips descended on hers. 

Her knees wobbled, and she leaned against him to keep from falling. “That sounds nice.” 

“Just nice?” He chuckled against her lips. “I must not be doing it right.” 

“Are you done yet?” Randy’s voice pulled a groan from Indra. “I came to help, but I see nothing I can help with.” He wrapped his arms around both of them. 

Indra shrugged him off, baring his teeth. 

Randy just laughed. 

“We might as well go.” Mara climbed over the container wall and wiggled down among the corn. 

Indra tossed his pants at Randy and shifted, stirring up the dirt and chaff in the area. 

“Dammit, Indy.” Randy ran and leaped into the container just as Indra lifted it into the air. “Fly, Indy, fly!” He whooped and burrowed next to Mara. 

She chuckled and shook her head. 

“So, are you boning my cousin?” He wagged his eyebrows. “Tell me all.” 

Indra growled above them and Randy snorted. 

Mara dropped her head into her hands. This flight couldn’t land soon enough. 


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Don’t miss the rest of the series!

Find them on Amazon


 Beverly Ovalle dabbled with writing on and off for years when her best friend finally dared her to submit a story to a writing contest. Beverly decided she had nothing to lose and since she'd always wanted to be an author sent it in and agonized for months waiting to hear back. Contract in hand she has never looked back.

Beverly Ovalle has been obsessed with dragons and romance since she was a young girl, collecting dragon books and reading everything she could find on them even down to the care of real-life dragons. She's always been slightly panicked that the world as we know it will end, so has prepped for it, haunting survivalist pages and prepper projects she felt she needed in the event SHTF (shit hit the fan).

An avid fan of all romance, Beverly's goal is to share her love of the written word and write the spicy romances that she enjoys. She writes what she loves to read and it was only a matter of time before her obsessions crept into her writing for her to share. She hopes you enjoy her tales as much as she loves writing them.

A United States Navy Veteran, Beverly has traveled around the world and the United States enabling her to bring her settings to life. Reading romances since the fourth grade she's followed as the genre changed and spread into the vast cornucopia of romance offered today.


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Friday, May 10, 2024

A HERO AND A HEROINE

By Caroline Clemmons

Have you wondered how authors choose a hero and a heroine? There’s a saying that if he’s a fireman, she has to be a firebug—accidentally of course. If he’s a lawman, she should be a criminal (unjustly accused, I’m sure). I used this last phrase for JESSE AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE; for BLUEBONNET BRIDE, from the Stone Mountain TX Series (one of my best selling books); and RACHEL, from the Bride Brigade Series. Actually, I’m sure you know there’s a lot more to building a hero and heroine than those two phrases indicate.

Lawman vs. Accused woman


Chemical attraction is important, of course, but eventually the couple has to talk to one another. Basic values, common interests, and more figure into the creation of a couple who can achieve a happily-ever-after. A good sense of humor is important in any relationship. As in real life, the hero and heroine need to “fit” one another.



KEITH


For instance, let’s look at Elliana Barrington and Keith Martin from KEITH AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE. Elliana grew up wealthy with strict social and personal values. Keith grew up in a family of criminals in which he was virtually a captive. Elliana knew all the right social responses and how to conduct herself as a lady—unless injustice aroused her anger. Yes, quiet and elegant Elliana had a temper she unleashed on bullies and scoundrels.

Keith trained himself to appear the honest businessman he was, but inside he hated his lack of knowledge of the correct social behavior. At the same time, he feared someone from his past might appear. He worked to become more gracious and learn proper social behavior. After buying the bank and later his home, Keith was strapped for cash. Elliana had unbelievable wealth, but also feared someone from her past would appear to endanger her new life.

Elliana

Although they had different upbringings, they had much in common and they had the same goal of a family and a useful, happy life among friends. Doesn’t that sound like what we all want? Certainly it fits my wishes.

Elliana had kind, loving parents who died young. Keith’s parents are still alive, but too terrible to contemplate. Elliana and Keith each has a different way of handling adversity, but the two meld as a couple. You can obtain the story of their adventures at

https://www.amazon.com/Keith-Order-Bride-Country-Brides-ebook/dp/B0CW7B2GZS/


If you haven’t yet read the Texas Hill Country Mail Order Bride Series, why are you waiting? This sweet historical western romance series is available from Amazon in e-book and print. Each of the series is also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. The first five books of the series are GENTRY, JESSE,QUINN, LEVI, and KEITH. Currently, I am writing book six, SIDNEY. The seventh book will be ISAAC.

Stay safe and keep reading! 

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Murder at Mistlethwaite Manor by AJ Skelly

 

 


**Check out the gorgeous cover!**


There is a murderer among them. 

And no one with secrets is safe.


Murder at Mistlethwaite Manor

by AJ Skelly

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense, Mystery

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None meets The Gilded Age in this delicious, suspenseful murder mystery.

When Lady Emma Grace Hastings receives a much-coveted invitation to the most auspicious Christmas party of the season—one that comes with a 10,000 pound prize for the winner of a mysterious game—she cannot believe her good fortune.

But as the guests are assembled at Mistlewaithe Manor, the chilling intent of the game is revealed. Each guest has cause for alarm, because all of them have secrets, and to win the prize money, those secrets must be exposed.

Things take a sinister turn when Emma Grace finds herself caught between her old love and her soon-to-be betrothed. Suspicions abound, and old wounds are opened. The dead body in the study does not help. Nor does the raging winter storm that prevents escape from the manor. Emma Grace must battle her heart, use her wits, and put her sleuthing skills to the test to survive the weekend alive.

Because there is a murderer among them.

And no one with secrets is safe.


**Releases June 4th – Preorder now!**

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AJ Skelly is an author, reader, and lover of all things fantasy, history, and fairy-tale-romance. And werewolves. She has a serious soft spot for them. As an avid life-long reader and a former high school English teacher, she’s always been fascinated with the written word. She lives with her husband, children, and many imaginary friends who often find their way into her stories. They all drink copious amounts of tea together and stay up reading far later than they should.

You can read more of her short stories at www.ajskelly.com.


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Monday, May 06, 2024

Escape Routes by Marsh Rose

 

 


It’s 1985 and pampered psychotherapist Lauren Olive loses her job, the love of her life to his hairdresser and is forced to move to a backwoods bungalow as a drug couselor in a rural jail.


Escape Routes

by Marsh Rose

Genre: Historical Women’s Fiction


It’s 1985 and psychotherapist Lauren Olive, a pampered Baby Boomer in the California wine country, has never owned a bank account, lived without a man, or seen the dark side of life. But after she loses her job, and then the love of her life abandons her for his hairdresser, she’s forced to move to a decrepit bungalow in the backwoods and accept work as a drug counselor in a rural jail.

At her new job, the inmates view her wide-eyed naivete with hilarity and her hardened coworkers resent her middle-class roots. Worse, the bungalow seems poised to collapse around her. If Lauren is going to survive financially, avoid going back to live with her parents, and regain normality, she’ll need to leave her little-girl ways behind. But success doesn’t come without struggle. Surrounded by her crusty landlord, the jail’s seasoned deputies, skeptical inmates and a new love interest, Lauren must confront challenges she never could have imagined in her comfortable city life.

Escape Routes is a tale of maturity under duress. It speaks to the emerging audience of readers who want stories of growth and accomplishment by strong women in compelling situations. Although it is a work of fiction, it offers a glimpse into rural American criminal justice during the 1980s, a time when addiction treatment for inmates was in its formative years. Its narrative captures genuine lifestyles, concerns, speech, and behavior without demonizing, demeaning, or glamorizing the characters on either side of the bars.


**Order a Print Copy from SunburyPress and use the code MRTOUR for free shipping!**

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Lies and Love in Alaska

by Marsh Rose

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance 


To stop the meddling of her matchmaker friends, divorcee Annalee fakes an affair with an Alaskan bush pilot whose profile she has seen in a magazine about bachelors in that rugged environment. The plan backfires when he appears in her small California town and lures her to his remote cabin with stories about the magnetic pull of the Last Frontier and the promise of lasting love.

In ways she never imagined, she finds herself falling for both the pilot and Alaska in spite of the bears, blizzards, peculiar neighbors, pyromaniac ex-girlfriend, stack of love letters hidden in a pantry and evident truth to what they say about single men in Alaska: the odds are good, but the goods are odd. Before Annalee can sever her ties in California and move north, a shocking telephone call from an unknown woman rocks her world and catapults her into a whole new way of life.


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ESCAPE ROUTES

CHAPTER 1

Sunday, April 7, 1985:  “He gives you an allowance?  That’s reckless.”   -- My friend Bridget
            I would have never grown up if the love of my life hadn’t left me for his hairdresser.  In fact, there were a lot of things I never would have done: fixed a toilet, slept with a motorcycle racer, been arrested, learned to cook, bought a house or made peace with my parents. 

            I was always puzzled about what to call our relationship.  Today I’d say I was living with my significant other or my domestic partner but we didn’t have those words back then.   “Living with my boyfriend” would have sounded ridiculous given that I was nearly 30 when we met and he was 35.   
            My mom and dad called our arrangement “shacking up” but they said it with a smile.  That was important to me.  While I complained to my friends about my parents’ over-protectiveness, secretly I was never comfortable with a life choice until I knew they approved.  In fact I had been filled with trepidation in my first year with Aaron when I took him back to Philadelphia for Passover to meet them.  Although he was a JFK look-alike and a university professor and a psychologist, I feared they were disappointed in our lifestyle and they’d let it show.  We were, after all, living in sin in San Francisco, that malignant ganglion of sex and drugs.  But they met me at the airport with the usual volley of kisses and cheek-pinches, and at dinner my father accorded Aaron the seat of honor at the head of the Seder table even though Aaron was Irish and bewildered. 
I had been his teaching assistant in graduate school.  We hooked up the day he found me sobbing in the back row of his classroom, distraught over the end of an affair with a musician I swore would be the next Kris Kristofferson.  Aaron had long legs and a boyish grin and thick chestnut hair that fell disarmingly over one green eye, causing him to constantly flip it back in a graceful pas seul of wrist and neck.  He could have had his pick of arm candy among his worshipful students and admiring colleagues but he chose me, a diminutive, frizzy-haired, myopic daughter of Russian immigrants.   Ten years later we had become one of the rare couples in our generation whose relationship had survived the permissiveness and excesses of the recent past: free sex, open marriages, the whole suppurating end result of The Summer of Love. 
            By the early 1980s, Dr. Aaron Prentice was on a tenure track at the university.  I had survived the rigors of getting my psychotherapist’s license – a master’s degree and a lengthy internship – and was seeing clients at Changing Times, a non-profit counseling agency housed in an old Victorian on a side street in town.  I could have sought a more lucrative position in a psychiatric hospital with its endless chaos and demanding bureaucracy but I chose the lesser-paying quiet ambiance of a small local clinic.  My clients’ issues were typical of our middle-class, middle-aged population.  Loss of a parent, a cheating spouse, a wayward teenager.  No violent paranoid schizophrenics, no one thinking they were Mother Mary.  I enjoyed pleasant relationships with my colleagues and never thought about work on weekends. 
            Aaron and I bought an upscale townhouse in Santa Rosa, a city in the famed Sonoma County wine country north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  There, we lived the lives of established DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) in the pre-Dot.Com era.  Good wine, good but not excessive food and sophisticated, well-read friends.  On Saturday nights his students dropped by for Merlot and Chardonnay, hors d’oeuvres and energetic debates.  Our d├ęcor was a meld of flea market chic, exotic gifts from travelers and carefully collected objets d’arte.  The academic tomes and literary classics on our living room bookcase kept company with ancient Native American artifacts and Austrian blown glass.  Our throw rugs were from the Andes. 
            Aaron did the grocery shopping and cooking.  His mother was a noted chef and cookbook author in Carmel and he was taught from an early age to be masterful in the handling of sauces and herbs.  He told me that some of the most vitriolic arguments he’d had with his wife throughout their disastrous brief marriage were about who controlled the kitchen.  In contrast I had segued from my parents’ house to the college dorm, back to my parents, then a mercifully brief span alone during which time I typically ate a full meal only on dates.  The rest of the time it was take-out standing over the kitchen sink.  By the time Aaron came along I was more accustomed to being fed than to feeding.  I was content to let Aaron take the helm at the stove.  Instead I did the laundry, dishes, and quite a bit of dusting.  All those objets d’arte. 
            Aaron with his full-time professor’s salary easily assumed responsibility for our bills.  My slim income went toward the little luxuries we both enjoyed; the best coffee, whale-watching at a bed and breakfast overlooking the sea.  I simply handed my paychecks over to Aaron.  If I needed money for some personal luxury – a hand-embroidered blouse from an artist in North Beach, some highlighting in my hair – Aaron gave back what I needed. 
            Bridget, my best friend and former college roommate, was not among the many who envied me.  “You have nothing in your own name?” she said.  “What if he gets hit by a truck?  And he gives you an allowance?  That’s reckless.” 
            But nothing would go wrong.  I was cherished and secure in the arms of a man everyone adored.  I wanted nothing more in life than to go on appreciating the bounty.   That was until Aaron announced he was leaving me for the beautician who did his hair.



Marsh Rose is a freelance writer, psychotherapist and college educator. Her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including Cosmopolitan Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Carve Magazine, Hippocampus Magazine, and New Millennium Writings where she took first prize for creative nonfiction in 2018. This is her second novel. She lives in the north San Francisco Bay Area with her greyhound, Adin.


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Friday, May 03, 2024

A HILL COUNTRY TREAT

 By Caroline Clemmons

 The Texas Hill Country, where I set my latest series, Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides, is a favorite destination of our family. One of the loveliest and most unique cities in that area is Fredericksburg. The area was settled primarily by German immigrants. If you hate history—I can’t believe you do—you may want to skip the next couple of paragraphs.

John O. Meusebach


In 1846, under the leadership of John O. Meusebach, 120 German immigrants arrived at what is now Fredericksburg. Meusebach had renounced his title as Baron Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach to lead the immigrants as a "commoner" and the commissioner general of the Adelsverein, the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. Most of this group was from the Rhine River Valley. The site he chose was on Barons Creek (named for Meusebach) four miles north of the Pedernales River. (As an aside, I must tell you that no matter that an early mapmaker misspelled the name as Pedernales, it is pronounced purr-den-alice as it has been for several hundred years.)

Meusenbach named the town Fredericksburg after Prince Frederick of Prussia. The town was laid out like the towns of the Rhine with a broad avenue and a town square. Each family received a plot in town and ten acres nearby to farm. On the town square, they built the octagonal Vereneine Kirche, the Society Church, which was shared by different denominations on alternating Sundays. The church also provided a town fortress and a place for community meetings. During the Civil War, the Germans were Union sympathizers and none of them owned slaves.

Octagonal Vereneine Kirche

Here’s something I found fascinating: The land the Germans settled was the range of the Penateka Comanche, a fierce group. Many other white men tried to make the Comanche move away. The Germans asked permission to live on the land and share it with the Comanche. The Germans said the Indians would always be welcome in town and businesses. Just shy of 34 years old, Meusebach was 6 feet 2 inches tall with a bright red beard. The Comanche called him El Sol Colorado, the Red Sun. He negotiated the signing of the Meusebach-Comanche Treaty with Santa Ana, which eliminated the threat of Indian attack, and is still unbroken to this day!  Another thing I found interesting was that many Germans refused to speak English, hoping that would keep them out of politics and local problems. Didn't work that well, but I suppose it's good to hang on to your native language. One of our friends had not heard English spoken until he entered first grade. Big culture shock for him.

End of history lesson. <g>

A substantial Sunday house, 
some were much smaller

Each time I have been to Fredericksburg, I have found new things to love. One of those is the Sunday houses. Farmers who lived too far to travel to church on Sunday morning sometimes built a small house in town. The family drove in on Saturday morning and spent the weekend. This allowed for shopping and possibly a party on Saturday. After an overnight rest, the family could attend Sunday church services. Sad to say, I have heard that many of them have been torn down to make way for so-called progress. I found the houses picturesque.

Other area interests are numerous wineries. The area has become well-known for their fine wines. Many of them offer tasting rooms. There are delightful local inns in case you need to recover from too much tasting. <g>

Winery near Frederickburg

Antique shops pull me in like magnets. A branding iron I purchase came from a shop next door to the Admiral Nimitz Museum. The iron is actually a large Z on which is centered a smaller S. The effect is a dollar sign unless you look carefully. Hero said that was definitely my brand. Imagine the nerve of the man! <g> In spite of his comment, the branding iron is displayed in our living room with many other western and American Indian memorabilia and framed western prints of bluebonnets and windmills, etc. Looking at them makes me happy. 

Perhaps you can tell I love the Texas Hill Country. I hope you’ll help me celebrate it by reading my series. The last one released is KEITH AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Book 5. It's available in e-book and print and is in KU. The Amazon buy link is:

https://www.amazon.com/Keith-Order-Bride-Country-Brides-ebook/dp/B0CW7B2GZS/


I’m currently writing Book 6 about SIDNEY, owner of Garton’s Mercantile. It contains a litle more humor as well as some adventure. Stay tuned….

In the meantime, stay safe and keep reading!