Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog — Last Day!

Today is the last day of my holiday blog schedule. The year is drawing to a close and it’s time to sit down with a cup of coffee (or a Baileys over ice) and make those inevitable resolutions.

Some will be kept, most will be modified, all will be attempted … at least for a little while.

As a writer, I make a business plan with both long and short term goals. To me, these are my resolutions. The define who I am, and what I want to accomplish over the course of 1 year, 2 years, 5 years.

Like most writers, I’m also a reader. I read a lot for the blog tours that I host. I read copious amounts of research material. And, of course, I read for pleasure.

Some of my favorite “pleasure reads” from 2018 include:

Hellfire and Handbaskets by Kathryn Hills

Christmas and Cannolis by Peggy Jaeger

Heaven’s Watcher by Kayden Claremont

Marshmallows and Mistletoe by Marianne Rice

Midnight Girl by Nora LeDuc

I’ll Always Love You by Ella Quinn

What would my last holiday blog be without a shameless plug for my own New Year’s book!

When a case of mistaken identity puts Cade Tucker in the wrong place at the right time, he can’t believe his luck. Drawn to the beautiful Julia McCormack, he flirts his way into her bed, and they welcome the New Year together.

Though they agreed their time together was no-strings-attached sex only, Julia’s having a hard time letting go of the best sex she ever had. She dives into work at her corporate law firm, hoping to get her mind off the man who rocked her world. But then Julia finds out the senior partner has appointed a new attorney to work with her on her biggest case, and her co-counsel will be Cade Tucker. Her plans to make partner are in serious jeopardy when she and Cade disagree on the best legal strategy for their case, but what will happen when they can no longer fight their desire, and the company’s strict non-fraternization policy threatens both of their jobs?

Amazon ~ B&N ~ Entangled

A New Year’s bargain at 99¢

The Giveaway … one day left to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to everyone in the drawing! Winners will be posted here on the blog on New Year’s Day.

Nancy

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Holiday Celebrations, Holiday Romance | 8 Comments

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 7

Here we are closing in on the end of 2018. So many things have happened throughout the year, both personally and professionally. I say “professionally” rather tongue-in-cheek because, for the first time in over ten years, I did not have a new book release. It was a bit unnerving.

However, I was blessed with seven audio book releases in 2018 which kept me very busy listening, editing, and promoting. As well, I finished two other novellas, one short story … all of which will be published in 2019…along with my first children’s book! So next year is shaping up to be busy.

My winter holiday nearly over, I actually did something I haven’t done in years. I ventured out shopping on Boxing Day. Blessed that I didn’t have anything to return, I wasn’t stuck in a long queue for the customer service desk.

The trip to the WalMart reminded me of my teenage/young adult years when my primary purpose on December 26th was to drive my mother and her older sister to K-Mart and Sears at six a.m. to get 50% off wrapping paper, bows, and whatever else we could gather up. And, as much as I miss both those wonderful women, I’m just grateful that’s no longer required shopping.

In honor of the “after-Christmas sales” my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, is putting their entire inventory of wonderful books on sale for 40% off! Their site supports all e-readers!

Now … back to WalMart. In addition to the long lines, the one thing that stuck out for me were the Valentine’s Day displays. All over the place! We can’t even recover from one grandiose holiday before we start another!

The trip did give me an idea for today’s column though, a warm-up if you will, for the coming candy and flower celebration.

From 2016’s Candy Hearts Collection …

Everyone expects Rebecca Winston to marry her high school/college sweetheart, Garrett Langley. The problem is, the flame’s gone out on their romance. They’re still best of friends, but only friends. When Garrett’s father has a heart attack, his older brother Wyatt (an L.A. attorney) returns home for the first time in years. The attraction between Rebecca and Wyatt is immediate.

Can Rebecca expect her family and, especially, Garrett to understand that her desires have changed and turned toward Wyatt?

Can Wyatt get past the feeling that he’s poaching his younger brother’s girl?

Amazon | B&N | The Wild Rose Press

And, it’s sequel …

Newly appointed Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. Garrett Langley can’t seem to find a secretary to keep up with his demands. His love life isn’t going so well, either. He recently lost his long-time girlfriend to his older brother and saw a workplace romance end in disaster, leaving him with a busy career but no love life.  

Piano prodigy Grace Valentyne forfeited the second half of her Julliard scholarship to come home to California and care for her mother. Now, with her mother gone, she must find a job in order to pay for the remainder of her education. When offered the opportunity to work for the physician nicknamed Dr. Cupid, she jumps at the chance.   

Grace soon finds herself in over her head—and not just with the office equipment.  But falling for the boss won’t get her back to Julliard. She needs to keep her focus and not let the sexy doctor derail her professional goals.

 Amazon | B&N | TheWildRosePress

(Don’t forget the sale at Wild Rose Press!)

Enjoy a fun trailer …

AND, don’t forget the giveaway …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hopefully, I’ll see you again tomorrow and Sunday as I close out my holiday tour. And, please, come back on New Year’s Eve for a special guest blog through Goddess Fish tours.

Nancy

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Holiday Celebrations, Sweet Romance, Vintage Romance | Comments Off on Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 7

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 6

One of the most important aspects of the holiday season for me is the closeness of family. Friends and family travel for miles just to spend a few short days together. It warms the heart to see the dedication people have to make sometimes-long treks to share in the joy and warmth of family.

I’m blessed in that both my sons are close by and very attentive to their mother. My daughters-in-law are the daughters I never had, and my five grandchildren are my heart and soul. Even my ex and his wife are close enough to reach in a half-day’s drive which makes it easier on my boys to see their dad whenever they want and for my grandchildren to know all their grandparents.

The joy and excitement I saw in my youngest grandson’s eyes made up for all the tiring days of shopping, the hours spent wrapping and cooking. William’s enthusiasm for Santa, for the holiday itself, and especially for the presents and treats brought back the best of my childhood.

He’s gone from counting the days until  Christmas to counting the days until he returns to school. I’m just not sure if he’s excited about going back, or excited about the number of days he still has at home to play with his new toys!

My love for family often shows in my writing … just as I’d intended. My favorites among my books always contain children. Sometimes they play a small part in the plot, sometimes they’re an integral cog in the story line.

One of my favorites …

When globe-trotting photographer Allison Cain comes home to her family ranch in Montana it’s to get to know her nephew and to make amends with the widowed brother-in-law she’s left alone to raise his young son.

Evan Carver could never deny his late wife’s younger sister anything, despite the fact she’s been conspicuously absent over the past three years since her sister’s death. Now she’s home again on what she’s called an extended vacation. Evan’s first concern is for his son, Cody, and how his aunt’s visit will affect the five year old when she decides to return to her high profile career.

Allison has no intention of going back to work. In addition to getting to know Cody, she needs to confess her biggest secret to Evan. How do you tell the man you’ve always loved that you’re not just his son’s aunt, but also his mother?

Amazon | B&N | Chapters/Indigo

Read an excerpt …

Slowly she raised her head. Unshed tears filled her eyes, making them glisten like liquid stars. Evan felt a lump form in his own throat. She blinked rapidly in what Evan suspected was a conscious effort to hide her emotions. A knot tightened his gut. He had the sudden urge to take Ali in his arms, as he’d done the day she arrived, and bury her face against his chest, preferably without the argument that followed.

In the very back of his over-used imagination, he could see her coming willingly into his arms. He could feel the heat of her tears against his chest. His reaction surprised and frightened him in equal measure. He didn’t want to feel this way about her, especially when he knew she wouldn’t stay.

“Me, too,” she admitted softly, drawing Evan’s attention from her teary eyes to her soft, pink lips. The tears she’d been fighting back so tenaciously now pearled on her lashes, threatening to spill forth at any second.

Evan moved away from the tree, inching his way around Cody and close to Allison’s side. Cautiously, he lifted his hand and caught the first tear on his thumb, uncertain of exactly what had made her cry, yet knowing he selfishly welcomed the chance to offer her comfort.

“When I left South America, the only thing I could think of was coming here. I wanted desperately to feel the lush grass beneath my bare feet and to smell the fresh, clean air.”

“I don’t care what made you decide to come home. You’re here now and welcome to stay as long as you like.” Drawing her into his arms, he held her close and tilted her chin up with his fingertips until their gazes met.

At the first touch of his lips to hers, Evan tasted the cinnamon and apple of the dessert they’d just consumed. He pressed his lips more firmly to hers. She hesitated only briefly before returning his kiss with one of her own. He barely had time to consider what they’d done when Ali’s trembling voice broke through his consciousness.

“Evan,” she whispered. “Don’t, please.” Pressing her hands to his chest, she pushed lightly. Yet, when he would have backed away, she clenched the front of his shirt tightly in her fists. “We can’t . . .” she warned, still seemingly unwilling to let him go.

“Ali, it was only a kiss.”

She looked up at him and Evan knew if he didn’t let her go he’d likely do something they’d both regret. Gently, he grasped her hands in his and pulled them from the death grip she’d taken on his shirt. With his thumb he wiped away a final spent tear then released her completely. A moment later he was on his feet and walking back toward the damaged fence. It would take every ounce of strength he possessed, he realized, to keep from turning around and taking her into his arms again.

Winner, 2015 International Digital Award for Contemporary Romance

Don’t forget the giveaway …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve enjoyed these past few days and the chance to share holiday memories, traditions, and thoughts. We’re closing in the end of the year with only two more posts after this one! I hope you’ll come back again soon.

Nancy

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Holiday Celebrations, Small Town Romance, Western Romance | Comments Off on Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 6

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 5

Well, it’s over. The shopping, the wrapping, the organizing, the cooking, the celebrating. The holiday (or at least Christmas) has come and gone!

Hopefully, by now, you’ve restored some semblance of order to your home, packed away the leftovers, and made time to relax and recover.

As planned, my family went with a huge holiday brunch rather than a big afternoon meal. Clean up was done by one o’clock and the rest of the day was spent in semi-relaxation while we sorted through our gifts, tried out a few, and thought about which leftovers we’d have for our evening snack.

After a “short” nap, I enjoyed another cup of coffee and finished off a book I began on Christmas Eve. Then, I did exactly what I’d planned for my free afternoon and evening … I watched Avengers Infinity War on Netflix!

There’s definitely something to be said for a fantasy world filled with good looking men, Asgardian gods, and kick-ass women.

Speaking of fantasy worlds …

When reporter, Kate Brogan, and her ex-husband vice cop, Matthew Kelly, both end up investigating local psychic Olga Limas, Kate realizes the fluff piece of journalism she’d anticipated might just turn into something more.

Out to debunk the woman’s claim of being able to guide seance participants into the future, both hers and Matt’s skepticism is put to the test when they find themselves transported to 2065.

Certain the only one they can truly trust is each other, they form an alliance that quickly stirs more intimate and loving memories. Just as they are about to be shown the way home, a presidential assassination puts their lives, and their chances for a “happily ever after,” in jeopardy.

Amazon | B&N | The Wild Rose Press | GooglePlay | Audible

Here’s an Excerpt …

Reaching out, Matt took hold of Kate’s elbow, pulling her up to the next crossbar until they shared one rung, their legs touching thigh to thigh. Turning her around so that she stood balanced in front of him, Matt pressed her hands flat against the small, metal square and fanned his own hands over hers.

Kate closed her eyes and let the overwhelming heat of Matt’s body wash through her. Nothing’s changed. He can still jerk your heartstrings with little more than a touch.

“Okay, Kate, on the count of three, we push. Got it?”

“Yes, I’ve got it.”

“One,” Matt began, “two, three.”

At his mark, Kate pushed with all her might. Against her arms, Matt’s muscles bunched and strained. With a second effort, and then a third, they displaced the heavy lid and slid it to one side. Together, they stepped onto the next rung and poked their heads through the narrow opening.

“Holy Pulitzer Prize!” Kate exclaimed.

“What the hell?” Matt said at the same time.

“What is all this, Matt?”

“I’m not sure, Cricket. I’ve never seen anything–”

Like the beam of a maritime sentry, a wide and bright light swept over them, temporarily blinding them, instinctively forcing Kate backward and into Matt’s arms. The beam swung to the left and then to the right, illuminating a vast room filled with blinking lights and computers. The high tech set up resembled something straight out of Star Wars.

“Where are we?” Matt wondered in a hushed whisper, his lips hovering close to Kate’s ear. The eerie uncertainty of his question sent a chill down Kate’s back.

“More importantly,” Kate responded, her voice filled with a nervous excitement, “when are we?”

Don’t forget the giveaway …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as I did. Happy Boxing Day to my friends and family who celebrate!

Nancy

Posted in Fantasy, Holiday Celebrations, Paranormal/Fantasy | 4 Comments

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 4

Welcome back for another day of holiday blogging. To all my friends and readers who celebrate Christmas, as I do, may you have a safe, joyful, and peaceful holiday. To those of you who celebrate other holidays this time of year, may peace and contentment, and joy be with you as well!

Over the past few days I’ve talked a lot about holiday traditions and how important it is to maintain those that have come before and to embrace those that are yet to come. I truly believe we find our ultimate happiness when we are at peace. For me, the holidays provide that much needed contentment.

I thought today, being Christmas, I’d take a look back at one of my favorite time periods … the Roaring Twenties!

  • The 1920’s were the first decade to decorate their lavish Christmas trees with electric lights!
  • The end of WWI ushered in a time of extravagance and money was squandered on holiday celebrations, expensive greeting cards, lavish gifts and holiday feasts.
  • The decade also saw the increased use of the Santa Claus image as a form of advertisement.
  • The most popular gifts included radios, train sets, and Kodak cameras.
  • The clothing teetered on skimpy but was adorned with expensive glass bugle beads and handwoven threads.
  • Despite the advent of Prohibition, booze flowed freely in well-to-do homes and from private stock.
  • The most popular holiday dessert was rum-soaked fruitcake. (Still a favorite of mine!)
  • Probably the most surprising innovation was that of the first artificial trees. The most lavish were made of goose feathers that were dyed green to replicate the look of a tree. Pine cones were added and the entire tree constructed on a center dowel to hold everything in place. The trees first gained popularity in England but eventually became a sign of prosperity in the eastern U.S., particularly New York.

Aunt Lillie’s No-Bake Fruitcake

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 cups chopped pecans (may substitute any nut or seed)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries, well drained and quartered
  • ½ cup dark rum or bourbon

Instructions:

  1. Spray 2 loaf pans* with cooking spray
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk and marshmallows in 40 second intervals until melted
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cracker crumbs, pecans, coconut, dates and cherries, stiring well.
  4. Add the rum/bourbon to the milk mixture and pour over the crumb mixture
  5. Mix well (the hands mix best)
  6. Divide the mixture between the two pans and press down firmly.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hrs but 48 hrs is preferred.

Note: * You may substitute mini-loaf pans (8-10) if desired.

One of my absolute favorites of all my books is my 1920’s Christmas story, Erin’s Gift. Originally part of the anthology, A Very Scandalous Holiday, it’s now available on its own and priced at a bargain 99¢ from Amazon.

Prohibition Era, Chicago

Caught in a raid at an illegal speakeasy, good girl Erin O’Mara loses everything: her job, her home, and her reputation. Handsome and so out of her league attorney Seth Harrison, her best friend’s brother, rescues her not once, but twice. He bails her out of jail and offers her a job as nanny for his son.

Seth has no intention of falling in love after the death of his wife. But despite his better judgment, he can’t help being drawn to Erin’s innocence. This Christmas, letting go of the past and embracing the future may be the greatest present of all.

Here’s a Sneak Peek …

“Well, well, well, what have we here?” The desk sergeant stared down over the huge wooden barrier, his thick Irish brogue filled with amusement. “Miss Harrison, Mr. Packard.” Glancing in Erin’s direction, he added, “Don’t tell me these two have roped another of their Hyde Park friends into skirting the law?” He shook his head and rubbed a meaty hand across his whiskers. “What’s your name, girlie?”

“Erin. Erin O’Mara.”

“Saints be, they’ve drawn a fine Irish lass such as yourself into their sordid business.” The officer turned his attention to Abby.

“I suppose you’ll be wanting to call that shyster brother of yours, now won’t you?”

Abby nodded. “Yes, Officer O’Malley, if you wouldn’t mind.”

O’Malley motioned toward the single phone on the table opposite the desk. “You can give him a call, but you’re going into the tank with the rest of lawbreakers until he gets here. No more special treatment just ‘cause your father’s a councilman. Understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Abby said. She started toward the desk and then turned back to ask, “Did Mrs. O’Malley have that baby yet, Sergeant?”

“Not yet,” the man acknowledged, shaking his head. “You’d think after ten, they’d just walk out on their own.”

The “tank” as Officer O’Malley had called it was made up of three jail cells, side by side. Women were housed in the first, the middle one sat empty, and the men were placed in the third. The young officer in charge of escorting them to their cells opened the door and motioned them forward. “Miss Abby,” the man said, “I’m surprised to see you back so soon.”

Abby laid her hand against the officer’s smooth cheek. “Oh, Tommy, you know I couldn’t possibly go more than a week or two without seeing your handsome face.”

The cell door had barely shut behind them when two women of questionable virtue began whistling and making wild moaning noises. The older of the two laughed heartily, her amusement ending in a rough-edged cough. “Oh, Tommy,” she whimpered, “I missed you so much.”

“Leave it alone, Kitty,” Officer Tommy warned. “And don’t you be trying to steal anything from these two young ladies.”

The woman called Kitty shook her head. “Don’t want nothing from these swells, Tommy-boy, ‘cept maybe a ciggy if they’ve got one.”

“Not us,” Erin said, shaking her head. “We don’t smoke.”

“Well, la-de-da, aren’t you a couple a good girlies.”

I hope you’re enjoying my holiday blog posts. Please come back again tomorrow for more celebrations. In the meantime, please feel free to enter my giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you soon!

Nancy

Posted in Holiday Celebrations, Sweet Romance, Vintage Romance | 2 Comments

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 3

In yesterday’s post, I talked a lot about holiday memories, some dating as far back as the 1950s. I also shared pictures of holiday trees from as long ago as the 1920s!

For today’s post, I thought I’d talk about future holidays. That’s the beauty of holidays … you can make them what you want. If you’re the type of person who enjoys clinging to routine that’s wonderful. Traditions give us peace and joy and strength.

However, you can have those same emotions by trying new things, planning new activities that may some day become your children’s or grandchildren’s traditions. I’m not suggesting anything huge … just a new recipe or new activity. Maybe instead of a big holiday dinner you could do what we’re doing and having a holiday brunch. It’s going to be a rather eclectic menu and so far it includes:

  • Biscuits and sausage gravy
  • Breakfast (egg & cheese) casserole
  • Thick-sliced maple bacon
  • Fresh fruit and juice
  • Snickerdoodle bread
  • Coffee, tea, hot chocolate

When I look back on old the ways, and plan changes to our usual routine, I sometimes find myself wondering what the holidays, and life in general, will look like for my youngest grandchildren when they reach my age.

Will the future I’ve created in some of my more adventurous books become reality? An alien holiday, perhaps? Or, will things be not all that dissimilar than they are now.

Whatever changes happen naturally, I certainly hope some of the traditions will live on.

For those readers who enjoy a bit of fantasy in their books, may I suggest my futuristic, alien/military romance, The Vessel.

A career soldier, Major Liam McGregor has been following strict military orders for over a decade. Considered one of the best by his superiors, it’s not surprising he’s the operative chosen for an assignment that, if successful, could save mankind.

Years earlier, chemical warfare left the women of earth sterile and the population is dwindling fast. The only hope for survival lies in the government scientists’ ability to successfully breed alien females with healthy human males. So far, their attempts have been mediocre at best.

Alora, second daughter of the House of Delawon, is their last hope. A government protectee since her family’s transport crash landed on earth years earlier, she is the last surviving fempod from Tethys, one of Saturn’s habitable moons.

Together Liam and Alora must travel from the government’s safe house in what used to be the state of Colorado to Traverse City, the new capitol of the United Republic. Their route takes through both safe and hostile territory.

What poses more of a threat? The lawless marauders who’ll stop at nothing to vanquish their prey? Or, the forbidden desires tempting the soldier and the alien princess?

Amazon | B&N | Chapters | Google Play | iBooks

Today’s funny …

And …

For those of you who are still looking for that perfect dessert or holiday treat, I’d like to offer you a gift. My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, gives away a cookbook each holiday season.

Filled with great recipes from their many authors, you can download it in a quick second. Find the freebie HERE. You can also find their previous years’ books under the “free reads” tab on the sidebar of their website!

 

Don’t forget the giveaway …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until tomorrow’s post, stay warm and, if you’re still shopping, stay sane!

Nancy

Posted in Fantasy, Holiday Celebrations, Paranormal/Fantasy | 4 Comments

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog – Day 2

Nostalgia … one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of the holidays. Some of my fondest memories growing up revolved around time-honored holiday traditions. Whether it came in the form of my aunt’s weirdly delicious green jello mold salad, or the sight of my uncle and father sound asleep on the living room furniture an hour after the big meal and second helping of my mother’s sweet potato pie, the memories tug at my heart strings.

I was recently researching some vintage holiday trees and found a few very interesting old pictures I thought I’d share.

Here are two trees … the first from the 1920s and the second from the 1940s.

       

The 1950’s style tree and my favorite decoration … bubble lights! Oh, and a quick walk down memory lane (also from the 1950s). I was four!

       

And, finally, the 1960s tree and another memory. (I’m the tall one on the left!)

     

Speaking of sweet potato pie …

Grandma Kelley’s Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet potato (1 large or 2 medium)
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup milk (preferably whole)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 pie crust (9”) unbaked (deep dish is best)

Instructions:

  • Boil sweet potatoes in skin for 40-50 minutes or until done. Run cold water over the potato until able to handle and then remove skin.
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Break potato apart in large bowl, add butter and mix well with mixer.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients and then beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  • Pour filling into unbaked pie crust.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up and then will sink down when it cools.
  • Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

And, speaking of nostalgia, one of my favorite time period for romance is what’s referred to as “vintage historical” … any time between the end of World War II and up until the turn of the century. I’ve set a number of books and novellas in that time period.

My vintage series, The Golden Age of Rock and Roll, begins in 1955 and, once it’s complete, will go through 1964. The first five novellas in the series are included in the anthology, Play It Again!

Go back in time with five delightful stories spanning the first half of the Golden Age of Rock and Roll from 1955-1959.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing – 1955: Will an army widow find love with another military man? Or, will their romance crash and burn?

Love Me Tender – 1956: Can a lady lawyer break the glass ceiling before a younger co-worker breaks her heart?

Wake Up Little Susie – 1957: Will a modern day woman be able to navigate the past, the man she’s fallen for, and a younger version of her grandmother?

April Love – 1958: Can the perfect secretary run interference between her boss’ family and the many women who want to bed and wed him without losing her heart in the process?

Dream Lover – 1959: What’s so special about Nanny #5? Will the bright lights of Paris be her ultimate downfall or the answer to her steamiest dreams?

Don’t forget the “giveaway” …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, that last bit of holiday humor!

Wishing you and yours the best of the season!

Nancy

 

Posted in Holiday Celebrations, Vintage Romance | 5 Comments

Welcome to Notes From a Romantic’s Heart Holiday Blog!

While the holidays can be stressful, they can also be a blessing for those families who don’t have the opportunity to see each other on the regular basis. I’m fortunate that my sons, daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren all live within 20 minutes of one another. We can get together whenever we’d like and that is truly a wonderful thing!

When I’m looking for a bit of stress relief from the hectic pace of shopping, and decorating, and wrapping, I turn to cooking. Not the frantic pace of the holiday meal, but something easy and … naturally … sweet!

Three Ingredient Fudge (with variations)

Ingredients: (all store bought)

  • 1 can cake frosting (see combos below)
  • 1 bag of candy chips (e.g., peanut butter chips)
  • 1 add-in ingredient (e.g., mini Reece’s pieces)

Instructions:

  • Scoop out frosting into a microwave-safe bowl (I use a 1 quart measuring cup)
  • Add in the bag of candy chips and microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring after each burst, until chips are melted.
  • Let cool slightly before stirring in half of add-in ingredient, mix well
  • Pour into an 8×8 or 9×9 pan lined with parchment
  • Top with remaining add-in and press slightly into top of fudge
  • Put in fridge for at least 3 hours, longer if possible. About halfway through chill time, I like to flip the fudge over so both the top and bottom set completely.

Variations:
Reece’s Fudge: Vanilla frosting, peanut butter chips; mini Reece’s pieces
Chocolate Mint: Milk chocolate frosting, mint chocolate chips, chopped Andes mints
Salted Caramel: Buttercream frosting, butterscotch chips, no add-on (unless you’d like to add nuts). Top with coarsely ground sea salt.
Rocky Road: Vanilla frosting, semi-sweet chocolate chips, ½ cup mini-marshmallows for stir in, ½ cup chopped pecans pressed into top

OR … create your own using flavors your family loves!

And, of course, what’s stress relief without a bit of humor. Especially “writer” humor …

Finally, nothing relieves and relaxes as well as a cup of hot cocoa and a good book.

Publicist Teri Hunter has her hands full promoting Professor Joshua Cain and his new non-fiction book, The Pharaoh’s Mummy. She’s not convinced it’s even possible to turn this absent-minded, modern-day, Indiana Jones into a best-selling author.

Dr. Cain’s PhDs in archaeology and art history have prepared him for almost anything on the lecture circuit and among ancient ruins. He’s just not sure about a book tour…or the sexy publicist sent to monitor his every professional move.

When an odd request falls in their laps while in New Orleans, Josh and Teri find themselves transported to 1920’s Egypt where they must resolve an ancient curse in order to be sent home. Will the dangers facing them hinder their success and threaten their very lives? Or will help from an ancient guardian keep them on-track and safe?

Fun Fact:  The idea for Eye of the Pharaoh came about following a trip to the Field Museum in Chicago. For the longest time afterward, I couldn’t get the images of ancient Egypt out of my head. Then, out of the blue, I received a gift from a relative who had passed…a gorgeous necklace fashioned like an Egyptian collar. The late relative had no way of knowing about my recent fascination with Egypt so I took it as a sign. There was obviously a story inside me begging to come out.

You can find Eye of the Pharaoh exclusively on Amazon.

Here’s that giveaway I promised:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ ~ ~

Come back again tomorrow when I’ll be sharing another great recipe, some more holiday humor, and another book!

Nancy

Posted in Holiday Celebrations, Holiday Romance, Paranormal/Fantasy, Time Travel Romance | 12 Comments

VENGEANCE by Gail Z. Martin

GENRE: Fantasy
Amazon

About the Book

When undertaker brothers Corran and Rigan Valmonde became outlaw monster hunters and fled beyond the walls of Ravenwood, they thought they had defeated the source of the abominations that killed so many of their friends and loved ones. But the more successful they become at destroying the creatures, the more they realize a greater evil is at work – larger and more monstrous than they ever could imagine…

Read an Excerpt

Vengeance – Chapter One

A powerfully built creature crouched in the middle of the workshop, muscles tensed to fight. The monster stood, revealing itself to be the height of a tall man, but more powerfully built. Leathery gray skin with patches of sparse brown hair covered its naked body. Its arms were muscled like a dockhand, with equally massive thighs. The feet looked like the paws of a big dog, while the hands had thick fingers that ended in claws. The wolf-like face and head and the four red eyes confirmed Rigan’s guess. Capcaun.

Training and practice had Rigan moving left while Corran went right. The capcaun tracked them both, showing no sign of fear. Rigan grounded his magic, calmed his thoughts, and raised one hand, focusing all his will on his intention.

A stream of fire lanced from his hand, striking the capcaun in the chest. Rigan set his jaw and narrowed his gaze, widening the flame jet, forcing it to burn hotter. The smell of burning hair filled the workshop, and the capcaun roared in anger, but though its skin blistered and charred, the fire did not destroy him.

Rigan’s heart pounded in his chest. They had agreed to lead with their strongest defense, seeing no reason to get hurt working up to a magical assault. He knew with certainty that the fire would have immolated a normal man, and more than one type of monster would have fallen to the flames as well. Yet the capcaun stood before them.

About the Author

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, Falstaff Books, SOL Publishing and Darkwind Press. Vengeance is the second in the new Darkhurst epic fantasy series. Also new is The Dark Road, the second in the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures series, and Assassin’s Honor (coming, October 2018), the first in the new Assassins of Landria series.

Her Deadly Curiosities urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC has a new novel, Tangled Web, and two new collections, Trifles & Folly, and Trifles & Folly 2.

Other work includes the Chronicles Of The Necromancer series, the Fallen Kings Cycle, the Ascendant Kingdoms series, and the alternate history novel Iron & Blood and the Storm & Fury collection (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) She is also the co-author (with Larry) of the Mark Wojcik monster hunter series (Spells, Salt and Steel) and the upcoming Wasteland Marshals series and the Cauldron/Secret Council series from Falstaff Books.

As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. New and upcoming books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, Badlands, and Lucky Town.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter Signup

A Giveaway

Gail Z. Martin will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Tour

December 17:
1: Rogues Angels
2: Independent Authors
3: Mythical Books
4: Two Ends of the Pen
5: Readeropolis
6: Declarations of a Fangirl
7: Bookaholic

December 18:
1: Dawn’s Reading Nook
2: T’s Stuff
3: Jazzy Book Reviews
4: Wake Up Your Wild Side
5: Fabulous and Brunette
6: Sharing Links and Wisdom

December 19:
1: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!
2: Locks, Hooks and Books
3: Andi’s Book Reviews
4: The Avid Reader
5: Edgar’s Books
6: Books,Dreams,Life
7: Punya Reviews…
8: Novels at Night

December 20:
1: Hope. Dreams. Life… Love
2: Notes From a Romantic’s Heart
3: Just Books
4: Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
5: Tina Donahue Books – Heat with Heart
6: Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin’
7: It’s Raining Books

December 21:
1: MIxed Book Bag REVIEW
2: Kit ‘N Kabookle
3: All the Ups and Downs
4: Welcome to My World of Dreams
5: Straight From the Library
6: Long and Short Reviews
7: Enchanting Reviews

~ ~ ~

It was my pleasure to host Gail Z. Martin for today’s visit.

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart will be taking a holiday hiatus beginning Saturday, December 22nd. However, our holiday blog will be up and filled with recipes, humor, and even a Rafflecopter giveaway! Please bookmark us as a reminder. We will return on New Year’s Eve with one last guest for 2018 and then pick up where we left off with more tours in 2019.

Nancy

Posted in Fantasy | 3 Comments

CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS by Peggy Jaeger

GENRE: Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Amazon | The Wild Rose Press

We Asked the Author

Q1: If you could become any one of your book’s characters, who would it be and why?

 I love this question. I would definitely want to be the mama in CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS, Ursula San Valentino. Ursula is a tiny, fiercely loyal mama who suffers no fools and thinks all her children walk on water – except when they don’t! No women will ever be good enough for her boys and no man will ever be able to satisfy her baby girl. Ursula believes all problems can be handled through prayer and food. She is never happier than when all her chicks and their own fledglings are surrounding her table, eating the food she lovingly cooked. She will defend her family to the death and beyond if she is required to. Ursula may not be the brightest bulb in the box – she is plagued by questions such as “why do they call it a parkway if you’re driving on it? And why is it called a driveway, when you’re parked on it? – but even so, she is the one her daughter will turn to when she needs advice, a warm hug, and some well deserved Come to Jesus lectures. I would love to be that kind of mama!

Q2: What do you consider to be the central plot of your story?

Faith, forgiveness, and family. The San Valentino family is defined by its structure of family strength. They all look out for one another , sometimes to their own detriment, but always with them family comes first. Deeply religious but morally ambiguous (!) the family takes it cues from the parents in the story, Sonny and Ursula. Sonny has the reputation of being a wise-guy, a rep that seems never to have been actually proven, but the decisions he makes concerning his family are never in question. He will do anything for them. Forgiveness for past sins and trespasses is a big theme in many of my books, but in this one it quite literally moves the story along. Regina has to learn to forgive herself for the mistakes she’s made in her past. She must learn to forgive her father’s interference in her life when it looks as if his actions have cost her the love of her life. And she must forgive her brothers for their overbearing, overprotective ways towards her that cause her to want to defect from the family. Of course she doesn’t, but the notion that she could is strong.

Q3: When did you know you were destined to be a writer?

Another great question! I’ve been a lifelong diarist since I was first given one of those little bound and lined diaries with the lock and key when I was 8. I filled that book up within a month (it was meant to last a year!) and then proceeded to fill more and more of them as I grew. I never wrote about my own life, though, in those Dear Diary notations because I felt I was too boring. Instead, I made up a girl who was ( surprise surprise) my age who had a big loving family and who traveled the world on new adventure. In reality, I was an only child of divorced parents who longed for siblings and parents who loved one another enough to stay together and weather any emotional storms. Since that tender age, I have kept a diary and have written every single day of my life. When did I consciously know I was a writer? I’d have to say it was from the first time I ever opened that diary and wrote DEAR DIARY.

Speed Round (just to get to know you better)
:
a. Coffee, tea, or other? Diet Mountain Dew
b. Music preference? 80’s and 90’s rock ( soft and hard)
c. Favorite movie?  Gone With The Wind
d. Dog, cat, or other?  Both
e. Favorite author? NORA ROBERTS and her doppelganger JD ROBB

About the Book

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.

Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself—and his company’s reputation—in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart?

Read an Excerpt

My father stood at the head of the table, my mother seated next to him. As was also tradition, my father never sat down to eat in his shirt. A bright white wife-beater I knew he got by the gross at a discount dollar store a friend of his owned was his usual table garb. And by got by the gross, I mean it in the literal way. Pop had crates of the shirts stacked in the garage. It didn’t matter that the rest of us were dressed appropriately. Ever since my memory could be counted on, my father sat at a family table sans his outer shirt. Of course if we were at a restaurant or a fancy function like a wedding, he submitted and left it on for decency’s sake. But with family, all thoughts of decency flew out the storm windows. Since packing on a few extra belly pounds over the past couple years, he’d started wearing suspenders to keep his pants up because he hated the confining feeling of a belt.

“Hold hands and bow ya heads,” Pop instructed. We all complied. Pop looked up at the dining room ceiling. As a kid I’d always wondered if he could see God somewhere floating around the crystal chandelier. “Lord,” he said, focusing on the ceiling stucco, “we want to thank you for this food, made by the wife and paid for by my hard work. We want to thank you for our health, the roofs over our heads, the fact we got no bills, ain’t no one doing time right now, and most of all for the love we share as a family. Bless this food, Lord. Amen.”

My Review

As always, author Peggy Jaeger brings both the humor and the romance. This is a well-written, first-person love story that will keep you alternating between outright laughter and heart-felt oohs and ahhs!

Another great introduction to the always entertaining San Valentino family from two previous titles, A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights and 3 Wishes. The family’s obvious love for one another, as well as their family interactions, will keep you thoroughly engrossed in the story. Not to mention the hunky hero and feisty heroine. They’re pretty great too!

Despite being a part of the San Valentino family, Christmas and Cannolis is a wonderful standalone book and highly recommended for that perfect holiday read!

Would you like to try making your own holiday cannolis?

Get Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s wonderfully easy cannoli recipe HERE!

About the Author

Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes 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 topics of daily 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.

Tying into her love of families, her children’s book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader’s Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

In 2018, Peggy was a finalist in the HOLT MEDALLION Award and once again in the 2018 Stiletto Contest.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Peggy’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Bookbub

A Giveaway

Peggy Jaeger will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Tour

December 10: Christine Young
December 11: Read Your Writes Book Reviews
December 12: Fabulous and Brunette
December 13: Romance Novel Giveaways
December 14: Danita Minnis

December 17: Andi’s Book Reviews – review
December 18: Notes From a Romantic’s Heart – review
December 19: Lauries Thoughts and Reviews
December 20: Harlie’s Books – review
December 21: Edgar’s Books

December 31: Books,Dreams,Life
January 1: T’s Stuff
January 2: Bookaholic
January 3: Sharing Links and Wisdom
January 4: Book Magic – Under a spell with every page – review

January 7: Locks, Hooks and Books – review only
January 8: Buried Under Romance
January 9: Two Ends of the Pen
January 10: It’s Raining Books
January 11: wendi zwaduk – romance to make your heart race
January 11: Long and Short Reviews

~ ~ ~

It’s been my pleasure hosting Peggy for this stop on her tour. Please come back again on Thursday for another author, book, and giveaway.

Notes From a Romantic’s Heart will be taking a holiday hiatus beginning Saturday, December 22nd. However, our holiday blog will be up and filled with recipes, humor, and even a Rafflecopter giveaway! Please bookmark us as a reminder. We will return on New Year’s Eve with one last guest for 2018 and then pick up where we left off with more tours in 2019.

Nancy

Posted in Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Celebrations | 11 Comments