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, October 27, 2021

The Legend of North Dakota by Laura Hunsaker

 Hello and good evening to you all. My name is Laura Hunsaker and someone asked me in my day job what made me decide to become a writer? Well, I don't know as I ever decided anything. It's just always been there, behind me, tapping on my shoulder. I've written stories since day one, I think. I have vague memories of scribbling in a journal with my mom when I was about 4 years old. It had strawberries on it and I truly wish I'd kept it. In my head I wrote a story. On the page, I wrote the scribbles of a preschooler.

But one thing really stands out. One moment, where I was a writer that day. And that day, my best friend and I wrote a horror story called The Legend of North Dakota.

In elementary school, I wanted the latest Where's Waldo book. Apparently so did another girl. She and I fought over the book and the librarian made us share it. That is the day I met my best friend. And 30 years later, we still could pick up the phone and chat with each other as if no time has past, no matter we live in different states.

One thing we loved, other than Where's Waldo, was Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. So we wrote our own. We of course made it the scariest any elementary school kid could; it began on Halloween. Our scary story was amazing. It had a headless ghost, kids trick or treating, and of course, a legend. We titled it The Legend of North Dakota. And to this day I'm so bummed I don't have it anymore. 

Now, I don't necessarily write scary stories, at least not about headless ghosts. I write about women stalked by serial killers, men who travel through time, unlikely know, after reading this list, maybe I should add a headless ghost into the mix here and there?

If you're interested in Highlanders, vampires, Highlander vampires, or even FBI heroes who protect their heroines, check out my backlist here: Laura Hunsaker's Book Page 

And in preparation for the next book in my Fatal Instincts series, start with book one, Dark Past.

The small town was supposed to be safe...

Kate Landry is tired of running. Thinking she's safe, she settles in the small logging town of Chester, California to manage a cafe. She may be keeping a low profile, but she's hoping to return to a normal life.
When FBI agent Kyle Donovan visits to Chester to stay with a friend, and to recover from his latest case, he never expects to meet sexy barista Kate.

But someone is following Kate...

Kyle worries he brought trouble to her door, while Kate worries her dark past is coming after her.
With danger lurking around every corner, her safe haven isn't as safe as she'd thought. Kate will finally have to trust someone enough to tell him her secrets. Secrets that may just get them killed...

Sunday, October 24, 2021


 by Judy Ann Davis

This is the time of the year when everyone thinks autumn and the harvest season as leaves change from green to gold, vermilion, and orange. It's the time of pumpkins-- pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream and coffee. . .and pumpkin cookies with that distinctive cinnamon flavor. Here's a recipe for moist, sweet pumpkin cookies with a simple confectioner's sugar glaze.


1 cup canned pumpkin                                               
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening or salad oil
1 egg beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup nuts - optional
1 cup chocolate chips – optional

Combine pumpkin, sugar, shortening and egg. Shift flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together; add to pumpkin mixture alternately with soda dissolved in milk. Add vanilla—and if desired: nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonful on greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Yield: 4 dozen

Glaze: If you desire a glaze, use a simple confectioner's sugar glaze with a dash of vanilla and enough hot milk added to make it spreadable.
                      Now on pre-order for Christmas, my novella for $2.99:

                                                     LINK:   A Maple Cookie Homecoming
                                          "Can maple cookies and a rose quartz stone
                                             relight the love between two old friends?"

When Julien Franklin returns home for Christmas after retiring from the military, his first mission is to taste his home town's maple cookies and find office space for his civilian website business. He's delighted to find the apartment above The Book Bin bookstore is for rent and owned by his old high school sweetheart.

Natalie Pinkett, widow and single parent, has some tragic secrets gnawing at her soul, but she needs to rent the empty rooms to help with her many expenses. To complicate matters, an old love will be literally working above her head—and he owns a rambunctious puppy her daughter has fallen in love with.

Can Julien woo the pretty bookstore owner and get her to reveal her painful past? Will the two be able to cross the divide of twenty-four years and find love again?


Friday, October 22, 2021


Caroline Clemmons for Rain Trueax

I believe it was in my freshman year of college that I heard the phrase “the only constant is change”. At the age of eighteen, I found that profound, but I hadn’t a true understanding of how much change one experiences in a lifetime. Mine is still undergoing change, and so is Rain’s. I suspect yours is, too.

My husband, Hero, and I just had another change. We downsized—again—due to his Parkinson’s and my complications from Covid. This change was rough because we’d already purged our belongings with the first downsize. Tough decisions were required to squeeze into our current abode.

One of the hard parts was weeding out the books we’d keep. We both love to read as well as have research and reference books available. Ai-yi-yi, the choices! But we did it and a nice young estate agent is managing our estate sale as I write this. At least, we hope he’s as nice as he appears.

We managed to retain our favorite books—the ones we re-read from time to time. Some of those I enjoy again include Julie Garwood’s PRINCE CHARMING and the Roses series. I read the former about once a year and it's my all-time favorite book. Louis L’Amor is another favorite author and I read his books when I’m frustrated. My favorites are FALLON, HONDO, CROSSFIRE TRAIL, CONAGHER, and the Sackett books. Agatha Christie’s Hercule Peroit books are always engaging.

In addition to entertaining me, reading allows me to escape to another world and time. My personal problems are left behind as I immerse myself in the story. By the end of the book, I’m usually refreshed and ready to tackle the tasks at hand.

Do you re-read books? 

Monday, October 18, 2021

The Ripple Effect by Liz Flaherty

Hi, everybody. This is my introductory post to Smart Girls. I'm so happy to be here and so glad no one checked my qualifications before inviting me. I seem to have a lot of days lately where smart just doesn't happen. 

But I still read and write romance. I've segued into women's fiction quite a bit and have published two books of essays, but I've found I have trouble separating genres. To me, every story I write is a love story--including the essays. As a reader, if I can't find the love in a book, I generally won't finish it. If the ending isn't at least satisfying, I won't recommend the book. The happier the ending, the more loose ends tied up, the better. 

The other day, on Facebook, a romance author on my friends list referred to Hallmark movies as "insipid."


Does she have any writer friends whose books have appeared on Hallmark or other family channels in movie form? Did she tell them, "Hey, your stories are insipid?" Have her books been optioned? I know mine haven't, but I'd really, really love it if they were. 

One of my favorite parts of the romance community is how we've always supported each other on our chosen paths. Don't like erotic romance? Great--don't read it, but don't do social media monologues on what's wrong with it. Don't like inspirational? Same goes. 

But don't use words like insipid, because, you know, it's just not smart. What you say has a ripple effect, doesn't it? Derogatory words don't apply just to the channel or the story or the actress in the movie--they also end up including the people who write the stories and the ones who read them.

I'd rather say, "Wow, what a great cover!" If something's going to ripple, let it be positive. 


The Christmas Town writers are at it again, and Christmas Town Homecoming will be released tomorrow. Right now, it's 99 cents and in the middle of a book tour and giveaway. Join us on our release journey.

Thanks again for allowing me to join you. See you next month!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Love Mystery by @JoanReeves #SmartGirlsReadRomance

Ah, the magic of a good book. I discovered that magic when I was a girl.

I had read all of the "kid" books in my small town library and loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but I wanted bigger stories. 

I went to the grownup section and browsed through the shelves. That's when I discovered Ed McBain's 87th Precinct mysteries.

Wow. Suddenly I was transported to New York City. I devoured the books about Steve Carella, his deaf wife Teddy, and the cops of the 87th Precinct.

I've always been glad that the librarian never called my parents to tell them about the books I was reading. Instead, she just looked over her glasses at me and quirked a gray eyebrow but said nothing.

My mom was a reader, and she never questioned the books I checked out. She understood the desire to escape—to dive into an adventure one can't usuallly experience in real life.

Today, October 15, is Ed McBain's birthday. If he were alive, I'd write him a fan letter and tell him how much his books meant to me.

Discover Ed McBain

Ed McBain was born Salvatore Albert Lombino. In 1952, he legally changed his name to Evan Hunter

As an author and screenwriter, he wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain which he used for most of his crime fiction. 

The other pseudonyms he used include John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten.

His 87th Precinct novels were made into movies and a television series. Those books became the foundation of the police procedural genre.

You can learn more about Evan Hunter aka Ed McBain at his Wikipedia page

If you want to discover his 87th Precinct novels, grab a copy of Ed McBain Books in Order by Book List Guru. This Kindle book is on Kindle Unlimited, or buy it for only 99¢. It's a comprehensive list of just about all of the works by Ed McBain.

Mystery and My Writing

Until I discovered romance, I'd planned to be a mystery author. I still love mystery, but most mysteries in the old days had very little to offer in the way of romance. Romance in a mystery meant sex without commitment, and all of it was sex from a man's viewpoint which meant without emotion.

The 87th Precinct novels were a bit different in that Steve Carella was in love with Teddy, his wife who happened to be deaf. McBain was ahead of his time with a love relationship, a woman character who was deaf, and several other aspects uncommon to genre fiction then.

In the last few years, I've begun weaving mystery into some of my romance novels.

Recently I sold video game rights to 2 of my novels, The Key To Kristina, a mystery romance featuring a Quest, and Old Enough To Know Better, a romance, not a mystery,  between an older woman and a younger man. 

The huge tech company that bought the rights will be turning each into a video game somewhat like a "choose your own adventure." I'm excited because they already have a worldwide audience for their games. 

If you're interested in seeing what intrigued the tech company, you're in luck. Old Enough To Know Better is featured in my Reader Friends Newsletter today. It's on sale for only 99¢ until midnight CDT on October 18.

I send my free newsletter each month (except for this summer which had too many family emergencies). 

In my newsletter I offer a free ebook and sale books from me and some of my friends. This newsletter has Just One Look as a free ebook for subscribers.

Until next month, may you read wonderful books!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Third Times' the Charm: The Clafouti That Almost Killed Me


Whew! Ever feel like life's a tornado and you're Dorothy? Sorry for the repost but I just moved and I'm in a snit because I can't find my toothbrush. 

I, Bea Tifton, am a major dork. I know. I know. You see the witty, sophisticated fashionista and think, Oh, no, Bea, that can’t be true. But yes, Dear Readers, it is. And here is my story. 

 I’ve gotten so used to being, er, “Event Prone,” as my lovely and talented mother terms it, that it seems normal to me. But, as my favorite maternal cousin once said with a laugh, “Bea, stuff just happens to you.” Okay, she didn’t say “stuff.” Whether it’s forgetting to unfasten my seat belt, punching myself in the eye trying to change the toilet paper roll (don’t ask), or catching my purse strap on my storm door’s handle almost every time I go out, that’s just part of my daily routine. But recently, things took a surreal turn. 

When the sheet to provide homemade breakfast items for an upcoming reception at church was sent around at my book club, I cheerfully signed up. 

The night before, I put the fruit on to drain and set my alarm for dark thirty the following morning. The next day I hummed as I mixed, stirred, and baked. After extricating myself from the storm door, I carefully put my baking dish in the car and drove to church. Since it was so early, the organizer of the program promised she would have a person outside with a cart so we wouldn’t even have to get out of the car. I hadn’t slept much and I’d cut it pretty close, so I decided to do something I never do. I stayed in my pjs. No one would see me, right? 

But when I got to the church, no one was waiting. Hmmm. It was just a minute after the appointed drop off window, so maybe she gave up early. I got out of the car and peered into the church, ringing the doorbell because it was before the receptionist reported for work. No shower, no makeup, pjs. Our custodian answered and almost fell over as he took in my appearance. He looked as though he was afraid my butter had slipped my biscuit, but as always, he was unfailingly polite as he explained the breakfast was on Wednesday. 

It was Monday. 

The next evening, Tuesday, I set the fruit to drain. Then, Wednesday at dark thirty, I again rose to make my clafouti. I hummed as I mixed, stirred, and baked. This time, I put on light makeup and got dressed. As the timer went off and I took Clafouti II out of the oven, my sleepy mind searched for what was wrong. It smelled great, the pastry had puffed up nicely and browned just slightly, but something was different. The fruit. I had forgotten to put in the fruit. My heart seized as I frantically tried to decide what to do. I looked around and paced a bit 

“That’s it,” I said to my dog. “I can’t do this.” I forced myself to calm down. “Think, Bea. What would a contestant on The Great British Baking Show do?”

They would start again. This time I did not hum as I mixed, stirred, and baked. I hauled fanny. Since I’d memorized the recipe by now, things went much quicker. And I made it to the church with a minute to spare. My friend waved merrily as I drove up. She oohed and ahhed appropriately, and I left dear little Clafouti III to meet its fate. 

Oh, and some of you are probably wondering what happened to Clafouti I. After smelling it in my house and in my car? I ate it. It tasted delicious.


1 TBSP butter
1 1/3 cups milk
2 TBSP sugar
4 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups plus 1 TBSP white flour
1 bag frozen fruit of choice, drained (I use a berry medley)

1.  Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave, then pour into 9 x 13 inch pan and tilt to evenly coat the pan with butter.
3. In a mixer, add milk first, then all remaining ingredients, except fruit and 1 TBSP of the flour. Blend until frothy and well combined.
4. In a small separate bowl, toss together the fruit and the extra flour.
5. Pour the batter into the baking dish, spoon in the coated fruit, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until it’s puffed up and lightly browned.
6. Cut into large square and serve immediately. This also tastes good left over at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Still Life with Menu Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

October in New England, by Peggy Jaeger

Since this is my first post for Smart Girls Read Romance, I thought introducing myself a bit, and telling you a little about where I hail from, was warranted. 
So, the name's Jaeger. Peggy Jaeger.
If you just read that in your head and heard your inner voice say Bond, James Bond - yay!! 

Hee hee.
I write contemporary romcoms, romantic suspense, and I'm dipping my writing quill into paranormal romance.
I currently live in beautiful New England where the calendar is staying true to form this Autumn. Have you ever experienced a New England Fall? Ever taken a road trip up the East Coast anytime right after Labor Day and before Halloween? If you have you'll know the colors that paint the landscape are some of the most vibrant and beautiful in all North America.
This is a picture of my backyard, taken today.

In another week, every bit of green will be gone from those leaves, leaving my backyard awash in ginger golds, Macintosh reds, and burnt oranges. With maybe a little umber mixed in.

And speaking of Macintosh reds, one of my favorite things to do in October is to go apple picking in one of our local orchards. When my daughter was younger, this was the perfect opportunity for a holiday card photo. I think for seven solid years we had a picture of her picking apples as our Christmas card! Nowadays, it's just hubby and me at home with our puppy,  so when we go apple picking I take pictures of him to share, LOL.
Here are a few of us on a recent sojourn. 

We were picking Golden Gingers because I wanted to make applesauce and that species is perfect for it. Naturally sweet and the apples hold up well during canning. BTW, Hubby didn't have his glasses on and couldn't see the camera screen clearly, plus he had a piece of apple in his mouth, which explains the bizarre look on his face.

Have you ever been to New England during the fall season? Are you like me, and live in this beautiful part of the country? Introduce yourself below because I don't know many people on this blog and if you can, add a picture of your little neck of the woods. Inquiring minds want to know all about you.
Okay, it's me. I'm the one with the inquiring ( some would say NOSY ) mind!!!

If you're looking for me, I can usually be found here:

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