Smart Girls Read Romance

Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog. Join them as they dish about Books, Romance, Love, and Life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inspiration From the Garden--June in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

It's hard to believe we're nearing the end of June. Lightning bugs blink in the dusky yard like Christmas tree lights. Hollyhocks send spires heavenward. My glorious double apricot hollyhock is pictured on the left.

Summer is truly here. The Shenandoah Valley has been blessed with a lovely intro to this lazy hazy crazy time of year. It's not too hot, and we've received enough rain to water the crops and the garden(s). I relish the good earth while I can. Summer inevitably brings heat, drought, and bugs, but before all that hits, this is the Garden of Eden, or as near as I'm likely to come. 

The battle to survive without succumbing to nature's harsher side lies around the corner. But I have prepared the gardens as best I can. The plants we grow are hardy wildflowers, heirlooms, and herbs, with some vegetables and fruits mixed in. Nothing fussy. Many of the flowers choose their own sites. And every single day in the garden is different. A perpetually changing world, magical in its way. I've ordered more seeds from my favorite site, and am expanding. Hubby bought a longer hose for those dry days. 

I love seeds, brimming with possibility. What wonders may come...all from a packet of tiny life-bearing seeds. If they grow. I can't stop planting them to see. Then watching,  gleeful when they sprout. And waiting for the blooms, like an Easter egg surprise, because only I know what will be when the majesty unfolds. A wonderful secret to hold and tend, and to share.

In every gardener there is a child who believes in The Seed Fairy. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


This would be me.


Larkspur and miniature hollyhocks to the left in front of the house. I love the early summer flowers.


'The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.' ~George Bernard Shaw
This is very true. The garden is a deeply spiritual place. I find much inspiration there. Also for my stories.

(Heirloom poppies and Chinese Forget-Me-Nots)

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

There is something magical about dawn or dusk in the garden. Both times of day are wonderfully special.  Below is a pic I took a few days ago of the back garden at dusk. You can see my lovely hollyhock and the barn up above it.


(Pale pink heirloom hollyhocks with the barn behind them)


How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Amen. I've got a pound of wildflower seeds to plant and beautify my bit of earth. There are many nooks and thistly spots on the farm that could use some magic. My mini wildflower meadow below. Coreopsis tinctoria and larkspur are prominent in the pic. I also have a lot of Shirley poppies and other varieties. Poppies are sacred to my people, or so it seems.



 'You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.' ~Author Unknown 


One of our neighbors. Image by Hubby. Garden images by me

For more on my work follow my Amazon Author Page:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Not My Favorite Way to Spend the Day

~~ Vonnie Davis

I typically write my posts a few days early and schedule them. But it's been a rough week. Calvin hasn't been feeling his best. I've had edits come in on two projects. And something I ate--fresh salads--stirred up my stomach. After six days of trying to calm things down, I went to the ER where x-rays, lab work, MRI's, and intense interrogation by nurses and doctors prompted them to diagnose me with irritable bowel syndrome.

See? Even my colon is grumpy! It doesn't handle apples either. My mouth does, but my digestive system not so much. I'll pay for days for one crunchy, juicy apple. Hardly seems fair, does it.

It was a long twelve hours and the only part I enjoyed was putting my clothes back on to come home.

In book two of my "Paris Intrigue Series," the hero is treating the heroine for a scrape to her face and chin after a fall.


“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He tugged her along. Farther up the hall, he palmed the door to an empty room open and escorted her in. “Sit on the bed.” After filling a small basin with warm water, he submerged a washcloth into it and set the basin on a wheeled table stocked with various bottles, gauze bandages and Band-Aids. He wheeled it toward her. “Give me your hands. I’ll start with those first.”

“I suppose you’re certified in first aid.” As a member of the police department, she was.

“Believe me, I’ve treated a lot worse than this.” He held her hand in his and gently wiped away the dirt with the washcloth. “I’ve taken care of your brother-in-law’s gunshot wounds a time or two.”

“I understand you’ve been friends since childhood.” She spoke to the top of his dark head as he doused her hand with peroxide before wiping it off with more soapy water.

“Yes, even though he was three years younger, we were close. The Reynard family helped mine through a rough time. Our friendship grew out of that.” He sprayed her palm with some antiseptic liquid that stung her nose. Her hand tingled.

“I didn’t realize you were three years older than Niko. I thought maybe you went to college together.”

“No, I was already in the Navy when he left for college in America. I was a member of Maritime Commandos by then.”

The French equivalent of the SEALS. No wonder he didn’t hesitate to leap onto that moving van as if it were the most natural way to travel through the streets of Paris. Although she’d been a block away, she could still see he was prone on the roof when he shot Taylor Ann’s abductors. Upside down, his vision and aim were still accurate. Now she understood how he rescued Taylor Ann in a matter of minutes.

Jean-Luc turned to the sink. He emptied the basin and refilled it with clean water. “Shortly after Niko went to work for Interpol, he conned me out of reenlisting with the Commandos when my original recruitment time was up.”

“Conned?” Could anyone con this man into anything?

He turned and set the basin back on the table. “Yeah, poor weakling needed someone to cover his back.” Zoey chuckled. Niko was anything, but weak. Her brother-in-law was more polished arrogance in his strength and capabilities, while the man standing before her, tending to her minor injuries, was edgy and hard-boiled.

“After the Commandos, I worked for Interpol for five years and left shortly after Niko to work for him in counterterrorism.” He rinsed the washcloth and poured antibacterial soap on it. “Close your eyes. I’ll wash your face.”

She reached for the cloth. “I can do it.”

“Close your eyes.” The tone of his voice gave no room for argument. She complied—this time. With her eyes closed, the warmth of the washcloth refreshed. His touch was gentle. When he ran it over the scrape on her chin, the movement hurt.

“Ouch.”

“Big baby.”

Her eyes popped open. “Big Galoot.”

He held two fingers under her chin and lifted her head. Reaching over, he plucked a pair of tweezers from the table next to him. “Ah, an American word I’m not familiar with. What does ‘galoot’ mean?” He poked her scrape with the tweezers.

“It means someone who’s overbearing and rude.”

He probed deeper.

“Ouch.” She wrapped her fingers around his wrist. “What are you mining for? Gold?”

“A pebble.” He held a miniscule stone between the tongs of the tweezers. “Tiny, but sure to cause infection and scarring.” He stepped closer and twisted her head slowly from side to side while he examined.

His exotic musky cologne, an unusual blend of warm woods and ocean air, filled her nose, creating sparks of awareness throughout her system. The man was so big, his muscular silhouette dwarfed her. Her body, shut down for so long after Darren’s death, responded, proof positive this man could bring her dormant femininity back to life.

Hadn’t she promised herself to never open her heart again? If she did, it’d be to someone in a less dangerous profession. No more soldiers. No policemen. For sure, no government agents who thought nothing of jumping into dangerous situations. A banker, perhaps, or an accountant. Someone who’s biggest danger of the day would be a paper cut.

BUY LINK: http://a.co/aplwim7

Saturday, June 24, 2017

JUNE - The Month of Roses



  by Judy Ann Davis
Although the rose has always been my favorite flower, it is also the flower of June, my birth month. Growing up on a farm in northeastern Pennsylvania, I cherished the intoxicating fragrance of the antique rose bushes growing around the stonewall foundations of old razed houses on our property where early settlers lived, but later moved westward for reasons unknown. Every June, like a birthday present from the earth and heaven above, it was a delight to see the many bushes, growing wild, bursting into riotous pink blossoms, and spreading over an entire knoll of our pasture.

Old roses, also called “old-fashioned roses,” “heirloom roses,” “antique roses” and “old garden roses” are those plants introduced in America prior to 1867. Although there are hundreds of old rose varieties, they are best known for their hardiness and fragrance.

The oldest rose planted today was in existence some 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. It migrated from Persia (Iran) through Turkey to France and finally into England Later, clippings of these old garden roses were often hand-carried to America by early immigrants from Europe.

In my novel, Four White Roses, I chose to have the heroine try to save the last white Austrian rose that the hero’s great-grandmother brought with her stateside just prior to World War I.

Sometimes writers don’t know where they get ideas for writing a novel. Sometimes thoughts and ideas just pop into our heads. To be honest, only when I started writing Four White Roses did mental sparks erupt—and I was able to draw an eerie connection to my own life. I have actually saved the last old roses bushes planted on my family farm and dating back to the 1800s.

Luckily, I took cuttings after my husband and I were married. With the passing of my parents, the rose bushes eventually died out, probably succumbing to harsh winters, the elements and wildlife, and lack of nourishment and care. Now, more than ever, I find it humbling when I realize I possess the very same roses planted by the hands of our first settlers. And, the lineage is still alive for over a hundred and fifty years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson best reflects my feelings about these beautiful flowers with those prickly thorns:
 “There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”

BLURB:
 When widower Rich Redman returns to Pennsylvania with his young daughter to sell his deceased grandmother’s house, he discovers Grandmother Gertie’s final request was for him to find a missing relative and a stash of WWI jewels.

Torrie Larson, single mom, is trying to make her landscape center and flower arranging business succeed while attempting to save the lineage of a rare white rose brought from Austria in the 1900s.

Together, the rich Texas lawyer and poor landscape owner team up to rescue the last rose and fulfill a dead woman’s wishes. But in their search to discover answers to the mysteries plaguing them, will Rich and Torrie also discover love in each other’s arms? Or will a meddling ghost, a pompous banker, and an elusive stray cat get in their way?

BUY LINK for Four White Roses:   https://www.amazon.com/Four-White-Roses-Judy-Davis-ebook/dp/B06XPBKY7F/                 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Price to be Paid

by Rain Trueax

A Price to be Paid is my fifth paranormal full length novel. I'd written the first two in the Hemstreet Witches series in spring and early summer of 2016, but something about this one had me writing other books and delaying its start until mid-January 2017. I didn't write the end until early June, which for me, is a long writing time to get a rough draft.

In writing it, I kept alternately referring to it as fantasy or paranormal. Turns out not so. Fantasy genre is for books set in a world created by the author. Paranormal uses our physical world but with supernatural elements. Mine are paranormals. In this one, there are spiritual entities of many sorts, along with heroines who are natural born witches-- not supernatural beings but with superhuman powers. They don't live forever and can be killed. Karma, reincarnation, and redemption are key themes, along with life questions such as--

In a new lifetime, can a soul, who lived a bad to the bone life, change into someone good? 
Does it matter what someone actually did or more what they thought they did?
Can guilt be such a weighty burden that it makes real change impossible? 

The themes might seem weighty, but they're woven into the plot, personal interactions, a spicy romance, and strong adventure.

In 1901, in the Arizona historical, Echoes from the Past, Asa Taggert lived by the gun and died by it. A true villain, he had no compassion for others and committed a heinous act. After that lifetime, it took a while, but his soul was reborn to be killed in WWII and again in the Vietnam War. In 1984, he was born into the Taggert family and given his name from that earlier lifetime. His challenge was to get past earlier mistakes and live a meaningful life. Expecting his time to be short, he is raising a son and has amassed a fortune. Love for a woman is not in the cards—nor is any belief in the supernatural realm, making it difficult for his spirit guide to reach him.

Devi doesn’t want to be a witch, despite being born into a family of witches and shamans. The youngest of four sisters, she reluctantly lives at home, conflicts with her mother, writes a garden blog under a pseudonym, and avoids using her powers as much as possible. When her attempt to purchase a fixer-upper Barrio Viejo adobe is blocked, her solace is with her grandmother and her witch’s garden. She is aware of her spirit guide but doesn’t listen to him. She is determined to live as a normal woman and having seen the pain her mother went through with her father’s death, she plans to never fall in love or marry.

When these two come together, a business/marriage contract is only an excuse for what is to follow as each comes to understand there is indeed a price to be paid to live life fully. The book has spice, violence, and a shamanistic view of life.


All of my contemporary paranormals are now in Kindle Unlimited for borrowing. The Hemstreet Witches Series involve descendants of my Arizona historicals. A Price to be Paid shares a spirit guide with Diablo Canyon (Montana). Sky Daughter (Idaho) has no connecting characters-- yet. I like writing series and connecting characters when possible-- so there might will be future connections.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Hero

by Sandra Nachlinger

He taught me to

- bait a hook and clean my catch,
- hit a baseball and field a fly,
- pitch a tent and build a fire,
- memorize the multiplication tables,
- say please and thank you,
- saw a board, hammer a nail, and shingle a roof,
- drive a stick shift and change a tire,
- dance the Texas Two-Step

and demonstrated the qualities that make a fine man.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.





Bluebonnets for Elly - A Sweet Contemporary Romance
I.O.U. Sex (Co-authored with Sandra Allen) - A Spicy Baby-Boomer Romance

  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Handbags Through History

Handbag fetish or addiction, no matter what you call it, I have it. Yes, I admit it and it's worse than my shoe addiction. Yikes! Geez, this may be worse than I originally thought. But hey, I can't be the only one, right???

Anyway, that's what sprung this idea for our talk today. Purses have shown up throughout time in many shapes and forms. From the earliest of time, both men and women carried pouches to carry sundry bits of importance, like seeds, items of religious significance and medicines. They were made of bits of animal skins, later cloth, and knitted string to look like net. Each might be decorated to personal tastes with shells, feathers and the like.




Traditional wallets began as early as the 16th century, as small leather pouches with a drawstring with which to tie to a belt loop. Women carried sweet bags that held lavender or other scents to freshen their clothing and handkerchiefs. It was around this time pockets were introduced into clothing to carry small personal belongings.





Bettina Feldt's 18th Century Clothes and Accessories

Women also carried bags tied around their waists and worn under their skirts, as seen above.




The mid-1800s showed a variety of handbags from the beaded and embroidered drawstring to a flat style that could be either square or circular in design.

Patterns for these were offered in popular ladies magazines of the day.








Early 20th century saw another change in the style of handbag carried by the modern woman. Two purses I'll share with you belonged to my grandmother, Faith, and her sister, Stella. They are circa 1910-1915 and I framed them to showcase and preserve them.


 During World War II, shoulder bags became popular and have evolved to include over the arm, clutch, crossbody and tote. Some men briefly carried a messenger or casual bag in the 70's and even today they might be seen carrying one, but purses or handbags are largely used by women. I know I usually carry the kitchen sink. I want to have anything for any situation, a hold over from my mom days, I suppose.


Well that's what I have to say on today's topic. Chime in and let me know what you think. Do you get as ga-ga as I do over a handbag or is there something else that trips your trigger?

 Hugs to all,
Carra
xoxoxoxo


Friday, June 16, 2017

8 Summer Delights by @JoanReeves

Happy Summer, everyone! Unlike many, I love summer. Sure, it gets hot here in Texas, but I can easily cool off by stepping inside where it's air conditioned or jumping into a pool.

Giveaway Alert: Details at end of post.

Many of my books are set in summer. Maybe it's because the heat goes hand in hand with heated desire and passion.

Here's my list of favorite summer delights that might explain why I love this heated season.

1. Homemade ice cream.

OMG. There is nothing better than the homemade vanilla ice cream I've been making since I was given the recipe by my ex's mother-in-law many years ago. She got the recipe from her cousin Maybelle who got it from her mother.

The icy cold vanilla sweetness melts on your tongue. It's light, not heavy like commercial ice creams. I've never had better ice cream anywhere. It's so good that when I announce, "I'm making ice cream today," everyone grabs bowls and spoons and volunteers to help.

2. Roses, crape myrtles, zinnias, marigolds, and lantana.

I love gardening. I love all the bright colors. Growing flowers creates a feast for the eyes--for me and any passersby. Here in Houston, the color parade starts in the spring when Mother Nature outdoes herself with wildflowers in the country and azaleas bursting into bloom in town. As the days heat up, the flowers begin blooming. How can anyone feel down when you see such beauty every day?

3. The fragrances floating in the air.

Oh, honeysuckle, star jasmine, night blooming jasmine, gardenia, roses, butterfly ginger, and magnolia. There are many others, but these vines, shrubs, and trees are my favorites.

4. Porch swings and hammocks.

I can't think of anything more relaxing than lazing away in a porch swing or a hammock in a cool shady spot. A chaise lounge will work nearly as well. Just bring a good book on your Kindle and you have everything needed for a fabulous summer day.

5. Visiting with neighbors.

We have a wrought iron bench and a couple of matching chairs in our front courtyard under the giant live oak tree. We like to sit there in the gloaming and sip glasses of wine. Neighbors come by and stay a while and chat. It's low-key, casual, and friendly--all of which is often missing in today's frantic world. (By the way, gloaming is a word my grandfather often used. In fact, there was a song he sang that had the word in it. One doesn't hear it much any more. In case you don't know the word, it means that time after sunset and before darkness.)

6. Summer rain.

There's something special about a summer rain. I love it when it lightly falls on the roof or taps at your window, like the song Summer Rain says. I love that oldie sung by Johnny Rivers.

7. Flip flops, sundresses, and cork sandals.

I do love to wear breezy sundresses. I choose flip flops if I'm just hanging loose or cork sandals if I'm going somewhere. Cork sandals are the best because they make me taller. *LOL* I'm on the petite side so anything that adds 3-4 inches to my height--comfortably--have a place in my closet.

8. Beach reads.

Of course, summer is for reading, and Kindles make it so easy!

Need a beach book? Try any of my sizzling romantic comedies like The Trouble With Love, with action taking place during the hot Texas summer.

A thoroughly delightful romance. The story of not one but three separate and equally lovely couples. What a merry chase this story is. I absolutely loved how it all wove together to create a satisfying and lovely romance. ~ Amazon Review

If you like your heroes hot you'll love FBI agent Hogan, who's caught up in a family conundrum during his vacation. Together with deputy sheriff Susannah they manage to get themselves into all sorts of trouble. Sparks fly between them with both determined not to fall in love and of course failing. Lovely secondary romance as well for Susannah's mother. Lots of fun and laughs in the Texas sun! ~ Amazon Review 

GIVEAWAY!

That's my list of favorite summer delights. What's yours? Answer this in a comment with your email address and be entered in a random draw for a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card. Giveaway closes June 30. Winner announced July 7, when I recover from the Independence Day celebrations.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at  Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. In 2017, new print editions of her books will be available.

All of Joan's books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Sign up for Joan's mailing list/free NL and receive a free ebook. Find Joan online: Blog, Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

That's Entertainment.....

Most people who read or write books also like plays and movies. I've even had the notion I should write a screenplay. 

I've been a movie fan for as long as I can remember. It started at an early age. When I was a small child, I lived with my grandparents. Their home was in a rural West Texas town that wasn't much more than a village really. We had scant outside entertainment, but we always had books, magazines and newspapers around the house. This is where I learned to read and love and sometimes watch fiction.

A movie was a rare treat. Two or three times a year, "tent movies" would come to town and stay for a week or so. They would set up a big tent in what passed for the town square, line up metal chairs for the audience to sit on and show a repertoire that included everything from silent movies accompanied by piano music to the "talkies." Sometimes we even had music where you could sing along, following the bouncing ball on screen. I think the price of admission might have been a quarter or less.
I found this picture on a site called "Old Magazine Articles," which tells about the traveling tent movies. It hauntingly reminds me so much of my childhood. If you want to read more about this slice of Americana and see more pictures, here's a link: http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/Traveling-Movie-Theaters-pdf
I and my great-grandpa were enthralled by those old movies. He walked to town every night to watch whatever was shown on the screen, good or bad. He was past 80 and practically deaf, so he had to sit on the very front row. I sometimes went with him, though I didn't get to go every night. 

What was even more fantastical was they had buttered popcorn and cotton candy. I was fascinated by cotton candy. As I recall, it cost a nickel. 

I'm still a movie fan and that's what my post is about. My husband is a movie fan, too. Or at least, he used to be. Last week, we decided to watch a 5-star movie on Netflix called "The Place beyond the Pines." I don't think we got half-way through it. Can you say dark and depressing?

We moved on from there to Amazon and another 5-star movie called "Winter's Bone." Didn't finish that one either. More dark and depressing. Then we chose "Hello, My Name is Doris," also well reviewed.  Didn't even get a quarter of the way through that one and I used to be a fan of Sally Fields. 

We ended up watching "50 First Dates" with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, a movie that had terrible reviews. It did have good reviews on Amazon from people who bought it and watched it. Believe it or not, we actually finished that one and furthermore, we liked it. It presented an interesting situation, I liked the premise and the performances of the actors and it was upbeat.

I guess, bottom line, whether it's books or movies, I don't want to be depressed while I'm trying to be entertained. Movies, as well as good books, were a happy part of my childhood and that's what I still want to see. I don't want to be broken-hearted, preached at or  shamed by social issues I can't remedy. I just want to be entertained.

Every movie they make these days, if it isn't car crashing and giant robots fighting, it's dark, Dystopian themes telling me how grim the future is going to be. I don't want to think about that. Dark and depressing isn't where I park my imagination. I see enough of it on the news.