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Monday, September 30, 2013

Romance Rockstars

The romance genre is a tricky one. It’s not quite as easy to categorize as, let’s say sci-fi or paranormal. It comes with an abundance of stigmatisms, assumptions, and clich├ęs. Mentioning just one is the fine line between steam level among mainstream romance vs. erotica. Yes, I went there. The big ‘E’ word. The genre many people don’t like to talk about, and certainly don’t like to admit they read.

It may seem like a far off topic for me since I don’t write erotica. Shoot, I don’t even write steamy romance! But I do read, and I appreciate all storytelling (when done well). I believe in the ‘to each, her own’ literary philosophy.

This is why it astounds me the number of people who won’t admit they read, and actually enjoy, steam. Not only do they hide their own preferences, they are quick to judge anyone who would read such a book. I’ve come across this with not only erotica, but romance in general. The word sends some people running for the hills!

If this is the case, how is it that the romance genre made up 16.7% of the consumer market for the USA in 2012? That’s the largest percentage for any literary genre. Romance sales are estimated to be worth approximately $1.350 billion this year. [i]

*** Big shout out to our favorite romance experts for that little tidbit of information. *** 

Like I mentioned, I don’t write steam (yet). I write about love. I write about relationships, and whatever that might entail. However I choose to display that relationship varies and depends on the characters, the scene, and the way the story will be propelled forward from said scene. It’s not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed to write at a hotter level. I just haven’t reached a point where I find it to be the right option. I salute the amazing authors who do, and do it well. I am proud to say I have quite a few mentors in that area should I decide to take that route.

I suppose to sum up my semi-rant, I’d like to say thank you.

Chances are, if you’re reading a blog called “Smart Girls Read Romance”, you are not a closet reader. We appreciate ALL of our readers, but I’d like to give a special shout out to you and your dedication to reading what you love. You get it. You understand it’s not easy to do what we do. Words do not simply find their way into books while authors sit around with their fingers crossed making a wish, especially when it comes to those love scenes and the storylines that surround them.

Not a single one of us would amount to a hill of beans without you. So I’d like to thank you for reading our work, showing support with reviews and word of mouth, and encouraging us to move forward; to push ourselves to strive for new levels of excellence within our craft. You are very much appreciated and deserve many cupcakes.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Workshops On Herbal Lore and the Inspiration Behind Them

Time out of mind, herbs were intimately known to people, used in every facet of their lives, and form a living connection to those who’ve gone before us. My fascination is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. It's pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants. I incorporate this knowledge into my stories. 

"Where the yarrow grows there is one who knows." ~

My passion for Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My English/Scots-Irish ancestors had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. Intrigued with all things Celtic, much of my writing features these early Scot’s forebears who settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and the surrounding mountains. You better believe they used herbs, both the knowledge gleaned from Native Americans and the lore brought with them from the Old World. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles, and herbs figure into these as well. For the purposes of my October Workshop with Celtic Heart Romance Writers I will focus on the herbs used in the British Isles. I can't hope to cover them all, but will make a dent in the plethora of sacred and medicinal plants, and give it the good old girl scout try. And I was one.

 "Faerie-folks are in old oaks." 

I also have a broader herbal lore workshop that includes Native American plants and will give that one in November for From the Heart Romance Writers.  Not that we can’t address any American plants in the Celtic workshop, because I am always open to questions. My intent is to inspire a deeper appreciation of these age-old plants and hope you will find ways to incorporate this knowledge in your writing.For more information on the October workshop and to register visit  Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Homework is minimal to nonexistent. My suggestion (assuming you're an author) is to write a scene incorporating an herb or herbs at some point during the workshop and submit it to the group or to me personally for feedback as to the appropriateness of the usage. Or not. It's up to you, and you do not have to be a writer to join in. 

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance...and there is pansies, that's for thoughts." ~William Shakespeare, from Hamlet

Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley surrounded by children, grandchildren, and multiple animals. The beauty of the valley and the mountains are my inspiration.  Years ago, my long suffering mother and I grew and dried herbs for making wreaths and potpourri to sell in the fall. Any profits we accrued were swiftly overrun by my visits to the allergist whom I’ve seen regularly ever since.  Seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens. *Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family. I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds, and limits. Daughter Elise is my right hand, and a lot of small people are my new apprentices. 

"The fair maid who, the first of May
Goes to the fields at break of day
And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree ,

Will ever after handsome be ."

For more on me my blog is the happening place:

Thursday, September 26, 2013


By Brenda Chitwood

Why do we like to scare ourselves? I love a good paranormal, but wouldn't be dragged to a slasher movie. Some terrors I can do without. No, I have never seen a Nightmare on Elm Street or a Freddie movie.  Never will, either.

Remember when The Exorcist came out. Hmm, I'm dating myself here. Friends talked me into going with them to the local drive in (dating myself again) to see it.  We waited after it had been out several weeks thinking we had heard about all the scariest parts.

It's dark and a little chilly so the windows were rolled up. We were doing okay until there was a sharp knock on the driver's side window. (I think this happened when Linda Blair's head was spinning.) Of course we all screamed and popcorn went everywhere. Some guy was going around to all the cars trying to get donations for a charity. Could he have chosen a worse time or place?

As I was putting out my Halloween decorations, I thought about our fascination with witches, vampires and zombies.

Gahhh, I hate zombies.  Frankly, watching the dead stumble around dropping body parts is gross. Also, I just can't see a romance with a guy whose ear or nose is hanging by a tread of rotting tissue.  Still, the books seem to be selling well. Sorry, I just don't get that.

Now witches, I can see a romantic paranormal story about a witch. I'm currently working on a funny romantic suspense involving Daisy, a witch who can't stay out of trouble. The story just popped into my head one night and I couldn't wait to start writing her story. I'm jealous of her ability to cast spells turning idiot lechers into pigs. Now that would be a handy little spell.

Yeah, I'm skirting around the whole "undead" thing with the vampires. When you really think about it, they are cold, extremely pale and the fang situation could make a kiss painful. Still, all those superpowers are attractive.

 Zombies just bump into each other looking for tasty brains.

Some people prefer total reality. No paranormal or fantasy for them. Life is all the reality I need and the fantasy of magical powers doesn't hurt anyone.  But, oh I would love to be able to fly or flick my fingers and create whatever I wanted.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Left Some Books in Paris by Vonnie Davis

I'm sitting in the top floor of my stepson's condo building near the River Spree in Berlin, watching clouds quickly drift by the skylights. It's a brisk, windy day today. Calvin and his son, having talked themselves out, are both asleep on the sofa, a dog curled against each of them and idle iPads on their laps. I'm going to use this quiet period to talk to you about Paris.

We'd gone to the City of Light for two reasons--to enjoy the city once again and so I could do some research for a couple stories. Writing involves a lot of research, either online, in books, through piles of old photos or in person at a specific location. Some places I get to visit. Others I read about and take notes the old fashioned way. With both methods, my goal is to be as accurate for my readers as I can. You deserve no less. Right? So, settle in with a cup of coffee or herbal tea and lLet me tell you about a renown bookstore in Paris.

During the era of The Lost Generation, shortly after World War I, American Sylvia Beach opened a book store on the Left Bank. More than a bookstore, this narrow shop became the cultural center for artists, especially the American expatriate community. Authors, poets, artists and their supporters congregated both in the store and the lending library. Many Americans, with no permanent addresses, also used the bookstore as an unofficial post office, where they had their mail forwarded. This photo shows Sylvia, in the dark clothing, her life-partner in lighter clothing and author James Joyce.

The shop was located at 12 rue de L'Odeon and was frequented by Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliott, Picasso, Modigliani and other members of the Paris art scene of that era.  Here's the building as it appears today, trimmed in red and full of women's attire.

Sylvia Beach and her partner Adrienne Monnier were a 1920s power couple – running two bookshops across the street from each other on the Rue de l’Odeon in the 6th arrondissement, or neighborhood zone. When the Nazi's invaded Paris, Sylvia closed her bookstore and left the city.

Shakespeare and Company's modern day descendant is now on rue de Bucherie in the 5th arrondissement, across the Seine from the Notre Dame Cathedral pictured above. It was opened in 1951 by American George Whitman. He operated it until his early nineties. His daughter Sylvia, named for the original owner of Shakespeare and Company, runs the literary institution now. Known worldwide, tourists stop to buy a book stamped with the famed Shakespeare and Company stamp.

There is a new book stocked in Shakespeare and Company now--my romantic suspense set in Paris, Mona Lisa's Room. I'd set a couple chapters in the bookstore and they appreciated the mention. To say I'm excited to have my book shelved there is an understatement. It was a rainy day and my hair was plastered from my hat, but I didn't care. I was achieving a dream...I left some books in Paris.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Back to School - by Tessa Gray

Back to School . . . by Tessa Gray

         As I watch our neighborhood children board the narrow steps of the yellow school buses, I must confess that I’m almost envious . . . almost. This past week I assigned my college students an essay called “Remembering an Event.” The young men and women in my English class approached the assignment with some degree of trepidation. As we discussed potential scenarios for their papers, many of them began reminiscing about their school experiences.

          School memories are often instrumental in shaping us, molding us into the  adults we become. They’re the memories we often share at high school or family reunions. As we look back on our school memories, we often yearn to have “do-overs” – to be able to right a wrong that’s been done to us or confront someone who bullied us. Most of us won’t ever have the opportunity to “get back” at someone who embarrassed or humiliated us. I was fortunate enough to have that magic moment presented to me on a silver platter. And now . . . allow me to share my very own “payback is a bitch” moment.

          Flashback to 1966 . . . I’m strolling down the hall of my Minnesota high school (which shall remain nameless). Spring is in the air and the lush trees outside had begun budding after a grueling winter. Donning my adorable “A-line” skirt, my white tennis shoes and cream colored “wigwam” socks, I’ve feeling pretty good about myself. As I rush to my fifth period class, a loud voice roars through the narrow halls, interrupting my train of thought.

          “Hey, Tessa-wanna go to the prom with me?”

          I whirl around and who do I see but a short kid I’ve known since grade school; the shy, preacher’s kid I’d probably engaged in conversation with four times during our entire school careers. I’m certain I gave this guy, we’ll call him Dexter, a rather furtive glance as I pretended to mull over my decision.

          “Yeah, sure, I guess.”

          The look of relief on this guy’s face was comical. Pulling himself up to his full five foot, four inches, he threw back his head and breathed an enormous sigh of relief. I often think of that Clint Eastwood phrase, ‘Go ahead, make my day’ when I recall how pleased Dexter appeared to be I’d accepted his invitation. I quickly began planning which of my girlfriends to tell first. Truth be told, I was more excited about attending the prom than I was having a date with Dexter.

          “Thanks for going to prom with me. We’re going with Barb and Gary.” If only Dexter has simply left it at that-had not felt compelled to be so brutally honest. But he didn’t. As he blurted out the rest of his words, my ego plummeted.  “Thank God you agreed to go with me. You’re like the fiftieth girl I’ve asked.”

          Way to turn a girl’s head.

          Too humiliated to continue our conversation, I slithered through the halls to my history class, already regretting my decision.

          Flash ahead to 2006-my 40th high school reunion.

          As my husband, Jim, and I sat at a table filled with the reunion attendees in a ballroom of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, I quickly scanned the group, noting several familiar faces. At that round table, in the nine o’clock position if you’re describing the hands of a clock, sits my prom date, Dexter, and his lovely wife. Now, I realize many would have taken the high road, resisting the urge to remind Dexter about his comment from forty years ago. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. Dr. Phil would no doubt call me a “right fighter.”

           Within the first three minutes of our conversation, I set the record straight. Like most men, Dexter refused to believe he could possibly have made such a remark. His wife, fortunately, was well aware that her husband didn’t have much of a filter. As Dexter gasped and chortled, trying desperately to deny his embarrassing behavior as a teen, his wife quickly set the record straight. Leaning over, she stared at me intently, her dark eyes boring through mine. “I totally believe you,” she replied. “That’s so something Dex would do.”

          Of course, all was forgiven. But a word to the wise might be in order here. Guys…if you ‘dis a woman and behave poorly, just know this: We never, ever forget.  And while we women have long since finished our schooling, those of us who write might just put you in our next book. So…watch your back.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Author's Launch Party

By Geri Foster

Hello Everyone!

So happy you stopped by to visit with us for awhile. I hope you find our posts interesting and informative.

I'd like to discuss an Author's Launch since I just had one and never experienced all that excitement prior to September 15th. Of course, you want to know why have a Launch? Just post your book out on Facebook and be done with it. Simple and easy.

However, a Launch is a party online where you have prizes, contests and a lot of interaction between authors and readers. We all want that. The better we know our audience, the easier it is to steer our books into the direction most readers enjoy.

On our 9 Ways to Fall In Love Launch page we have had a lot of discussion about names of characters and what jobs they work, and generally their status in the world. This was wonderful information that each of us authors paid close attention to. We all want to know. This has been an exciting time for all nine authors. We love it!

So Launches are a great way to connect and interact with readers. Also, those readers help you promote your work. They take you places you would never go alone. :) They're fearless and smart. That's the reason most authors are moving to Street Teams. They take the place of your book being on a shelve in a bookstores, Target, Walmart and other places.

At a Launch you get a very intimate look inside the lives of your readers. They not only want to know about you, but they are willing to share their lives with us. We writers love that. We look forward to every post, every word of encouragement, and every hint that we might be doing something right.

My Launch was a wonderful success! I loved it and I hope those who joined did as well. I look forward to another Launch in late October or November. I hope I see you there.

Happy Endings,
Geri Foster

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We all have to work to pay the bills, to eat, and to put clothes on our backs. Oh yeah, and, I don't know about you, but I like a roof over my head and a car to get to work so I can pay the bills, eat, and cover up. Horrible little vicious cycle/circle we've created for ourselves to support the creature comforts we desire.

Millions of jobs exist in order to manufacture and maintain our chosen careers/lifestyles. In my family alone we have an import/export broker, a cable installer for satellite TV, a refueling tech at DFW, a buyer for area grocery stores, retail merchandiser, an Emergency Room RN, and a fireman/EMT. The characters we write about mimic our day-to-day.

Yesterday, I posed a question to readers and fellow authors on the Launch Event for the box set I'm participating in, 9 Ways To Fall In Love. We talked about jobs we've held through our work years. So I posed this question: How do you feel about characters jobs? Should their jobs reflect their character? Their place in the story? Do their occupations tell you a little about them and why they react the way they do? As a reader, what's your take on that? What do you prefer?"

I thought all of the responses were spot on and insightful to me as a writer so I can make my characters believable. Here are a few of the responses:

From Dennise Harral, "I think the job ads to their character/personality. A teacher shows that they have patience and compassion. Security or military shows that they are protectors, they have that sense of honor and duty. It helps solidify personality traits."

 Annetta Sweetko said, "Sometimes a not so great job like a waitress, store clerk ...the ones that are hard, pay stinks and aren't glamorous ... are perfect jobs for characters. They seem more real for us average joes ... "

 Stacey Greene added, "I think a job can go either can reflect the person and their attitude, ethics etc...or it shows what they're willing to do to get to their goal...working a crummy waitress job at night and dry cleaner job in the afternoon to pay their way through school or take care of the kids...either way I think it's good for them to do something..."

I also feel, in fiction as in life, our characters can use their jobs to not only gain monetary fulfillment, but they can use those occupations and past experiences to speak for them and their beliefs. This happens in my current WIP, work in progress, CODE OF CONSCIENCE, Book Two in the Texas Code Series.

Nicasio Miguel Antonio aka Mike Anthony has been undercover in Juarez, Mexico for over two years. He's worked hard to infiltrate the Camarone Cartel to stop the flow of drugs and illegals into the United States at El Paso, Texas. Six months ago his partner, Reina Torrez, was found murdered outside Juarez. Nic went dark, so deep undercover he cut off all communication to find her murderer.

Like his foster brother, Graeme McAlister, Nic was Special Forces and works for INTERCEPT. As a small child in Juarez, he learned street survival skills which he now employs as an undercover agent.

Luz Miranda Camarone is a well known TV anchor, Andi Cameron, in El Paso, Texas. She aspires to work in a larger market and feels she may be on her way when a story comes across her desk concerning the murder of an acquaintance, Reina Torrez.  Luz starts her own investigation into the murder in spite of the TV station's dissatisfaction and warnings from her brother-in-law, Enrique Santiago.

Luz uses her investigative skills as a reporter to help her country and ultimately save her family.

My debut book, CODE OF HONOR, The Texas Code Series, Book One, has hero, Graeme McAlister, using his Special Forces skills to save and restore his family's honor.

We don't see Maggie use her skills in depth as a nurse, but her training helps her to think quickly, assess situations, and react calmly in the extreme situations in which she finds herself.

In a future WIP, Book Three of The Texas Code Series, CODE OF JUSTICE, Assistant District Attorney, Elliott Benning and political analyst, Amanda Hartford will use their occupations in their chosen careers to join forces to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Oops! Sorry, I got carried away. <G>

But you see what I mean about how our characters occupations and chosen professions, from the low end of the scale to the high, can tell much about them and the story.

Well, this is what I have to say on this particular subject. I would love it if you left a comment as to whether you agree or disagree. I love a lively discussion!

Thanks for visiting,


CODE OF HONOR buy links Amazon for Kindle ebook and print:

and, Smashwords for nook, kobo and iTunes:
Find me on my website:
Facebook: http://facebook/carracopelin
Twitter: http://twitter/CarraCopelin




Monday, September 16, 2013

Shoes Can Change Your Life by Joan Reeves

The right pair of shoes can change your life. Just ask Cinderella.

Although that may not be a strong enough rationalization for buying a pair Jimmy Choo's, I sometimes wonder if the whole Cinderella/Glass Slipper thing is responsible for my shoe addiction.

(NOTE: A friend pointed out that I did not put a closing date for the Swag Bag Giveaway and Free Book offer mentioned at the end of the post. Ack! Sorry about that. The contest is open until Sept. 20 at 4pm CDT.)

The Cinderella story was my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid, and I've probably scene every big screen adaptation of the myth. (Ever After starring gorgeous Dougray Scott and Drew Barrymore is my favorite.)

I've also written several romantic comedies that mine the Cinderella myth.

My Cinderella Stories

In fact, I'm finishing up another Cinderella story this month. Cinderella Blue, Book 2 in my San Antone Two-Step series, is all about a woman who finds her Prince Charming—even though she's not looking for one, doesn't want one, and can't figure out to do with him when she finds him. (Look for Cinderella Blue on September 30, 2013.)

The first book in the San Antone Two-Step Series was Nobody's Cinderella, and I have to admit that it is one of my favorite books that I've written. There's just something about that Cinderella myth that never loses its attraction.

The Cinderella Myth

Did you know that the Cinderella myth is still one of the most popular folk tales worldwide? You'll find it in not only European countries but also in India, Vietnam, and Africa. In truth, it crosses all cultural lines. There are hundreds of folk tale versions of the Cinderella story in just about every culture.

One of the earliest recorded versions comes from China. According to the Chinese story, the heroine doesn't have a fairy godmother, but a magical fish who helps her. However, a golden shoe leads a prince to her, and they marry. Some sources say the story actually originated in Greece even earlier.

Nearly 1200 years later, Cinderella is still having her story told by countless authors – including me. Don't let the title , Nobody's Cinderella, fool you. Heroine Darcy Benton is indeed a Cinderella who wishes on a Christmas star. She already knows who her prince is—Chase Whitaker, her boss. Unfortunately, Chase doesn't know she's alive—outside of the office, that is. She's not even a blip on his radar.

Where's a fairy godmother when you need one? Aha! Nobody's Cinderella has a fairy godmother, but she's a he, and he looks a lot like Santa.

Of course, the cover of Nobody's Cinderella features pretty shoes. After all, what is Cinderella without a pair of knock 'em dead shoes?

Most Cinderella stories don't show Cindy and her prince living happily ever after, but I do. You'll see Darcy and Chase again in Cinderella Blue, (Book 2 of San Antone Two-Step), because I like to see love validated. Isn't that what a sequel is for? Book 2 stars Darcy's brother Bruce. You'll meet him in Nobody's Cinderella, and he'll meet his match in Cinderella Blue.

Excerpt, Nobody's Cinderella
Copyright ©2011 by Joan Reeves

Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December. Her heart raced faster than a quarter horse, and her face felt as warm as a passive solar collector at the end of a hot Texas day.

Releasing her white-knuckled grip on the strap of her new black leather handbag, Darcy opened it and fished out one of the tissues she'd stashed inside.

Hoping that the man who'd created this shock to her system was still engrossed in reading her resume, she furtively wiped her palms. For good measure, she blotted her damp forehead.

Her eyes strayed to the man on the power side of the mahogany desk. Chase Whitaker was the owner of Sunbelt Oil Producers, one of the many small independent energy companies in San Antonio. His attention remained fixed on the paper he held.

Chase. She tried the name out in her mind. She liked it. It was unusual and suited him perfectly. She'd researched him online so she knew he was only twenty-eight and had already made his mark in the volatile exploration and production side of the oil business.

Feeling hot and cold by turns, Darcy examined his features as intently as he studied her resume. His face easily rivaled any male heart throb on the silver screen. To characterize his dark blue eyes as bedroom eyes was an old cliche, but it was certainly true. Bedroom eyes. The phrase made Darcy tingle.

His thick ebony hair made her fingers itch with the desire to slide through the silky black strands. Just thinking about touching him made her sigh. And his mouth! Oh, my goodness! Darcy couldn't even put words to the feelings incited by his full, chiseled lips. Another sigh escaped her. At the soft sound, Chase shifted. His eyes flickered to her then back to her resume.

Darcy felt the blush begin beneath her prim white blouse and creep upwards until it reached her face. This would never do. She blotted her forehead again, surprised at how damp the tissue felt.

Frowning, she looked at it. Her eyes widened in shock. Blue ink practically dripped from the sodden wad of tissue. Horrified, she stared dumbly at the blue ink that colored her finger tips and rimmed her unpainted nails.

If any of her three brothers had been in the room, she'd have accused them of playing another of their dumb practical jokes. But this time, she only had herself—and a cheap ballpoint pen that had leaked over the contents of her expensive new purse—to blame for her failure to achieve the sophisticated femininity she wanted. Somehow, she thought in despair, she always ended up feeling and looking like the gangly kid who'd tried to outdo her older siblings in every sport.

Resigned, Darcy opened both palms. Blue ink—indelible blue at that—mottled her pale skin. She looked at the shiny brass and glass table next to her chair, with the ridiculous hope that there would be a box of tissues beneath the small Christmas tree decorated with tiny gold oil wells. No such luck. Desperate, she wiped her palms up and down the sides of her navy skirt.

With a prayer on her lips, Darcy looked at her hands again. The mottling had been replaced by wide smeary streaks. Great! Just great! It was no use. The ink wasn't going anywhere. She closed her hands into tight fists, trying to hide the stains.

Why had this happened when she wanted so desperately to make an impression on Chase Whitaker? And not just because she wanted him to hire her. The man stirred something inside her that she'd never felt in all her twenty-three years. Just looking at his hands made her quiver like a taut wire on a piano.

Her music teacher mother would describe his large, well-formed hands with long, shapely fingers, as pianist hands. The bronze of his hands contrasted sharply with the turned up cuffs of his starched white shirt. The thing Darcy liked most about his hands was the absence of a wedding ring on his left hand.

That brought her up short. Get a grip, Darcy Benton, she scolded herself. You're here for a job—not a romantic entanglement. As if she would know how to have a romantic entanglement. Even if the opportunity presented itself. She needed to stifle her overactive imagination.

She found herself praying that she would get this accounting position. And not just because she had to start repaying her student loans. She wanted it because of him. She looked at Chase Whitaker again. Another sigh escaped her. Chase glanced up, his dark blue eyes sharp and penetrating. He frowned. Surely, he couldn't know what she'd been thinking? She felt her blush intensify. As she watched, he slowly wiped his hand across his forehead. His hand. Those bedroom eyes. He mesmerized Darcy. Feeling light-headed, she uncrossed her legs, knocking over her briefcase. "Sorry," she mumbled. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling in disgust. Could she possibly be more clumsy?

Then she realized that he seemed to look, not at her eyes, but about an inch above them. His irresistible mouth twitched as if a smile struggled to break free of restraint. He stood, and Darcy's mouth went dry as her gaze climbed his tall, broad-shouldered frame.

When she'd first entered his office, she'd had the unusual pleasure of looking up to meet his eyes, rather than down, as she usually did. She felt absurdly pleased that he was a few inches taller than her five feet eleven inches.

He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a snowy white square of linen and walked around the desk and offered it to her. "This should help."

Taken aback, she frowned. He touched his forehead again, making a wiping motion. Suddenly, horrified understanding flooded her. Quickly, she swiped the handkerchief across her forehead and wasn't surprised to see it come away streaked in blue. She didn't even want to think about what her she must look like.

She returned his handkerchief. Chase carefully folded it and laid it on his desk top. He remained standing, towering over her. She wished he would go back to his chair.

"Thank you, Mr. Whitaker," she said, acting as if nothing were wrong. Her voice was brisk and cool. She was afraid to let any warmth creep into her voice for fear she'd cry, or worse, that he'd discover how breathless she felt with him so near.

Each time she looked at him, she felt so peculiar, like the time her three brothers had dared her to climb the giant pine tree in the back yard, and she'd fallen, knocking the breath out of her.

Belatedly, she realized that he was talking. She focused hard and caught the end of his sentence. "—give you a chance. We'd wanted someone with experience, but we're willing to take you on, though we try not to hire straight out of college. However, your class standing was excellent, and you seem like a mature, sober young woman."

His eyes swept her up and down, from the tight knot of hair forced into submission by half a tube of gel, to the black, square-framed glasses. Those sexy eyes of his quickly took in the severe navy suit, pristine white blouse, and floppy navy bow tie.

The book she'd read on dressing for success had said this was the outfit professional women wore. She'd plunked down her credit card in hopes that the severe clothing would change her image from a basketball-playing tomboy to a stunning corporate diva. Maybe she should have checked the copyright date in the book, she thought, feeling uncertain.

His sexy eyes reached her size ten feet clad in sensible, low-heeled shoes—ugly black patent leather flats that, Darcy knew, no fashionable woman her age would be caught dead wearing. But Darcy had thought they'd be perfect in case the owner of Sunbelt Oil turned out to be on the short side.

Chase cleared his throat. "And you are obviously sensible and practical." He smiled.

Mature? Sober? Sensible? Practical?

Why didn't he just say she was so undesirable that a man ship-wrecked on a desert island for twenty years wouldn't put the moves on her? Darcy fumed, insulted by his assessment.

The rest of what he said faded into the background. Just once, why couldn't she be seen as incredibly sexy and completely irresistible! Why couldn't he be as attracted to her as she was to him?

When he offered her the accounting position for which she had applied, Darcy coolly thanked him. She knew she was being ridiculous, acting like a starry-eyed teenager in the throes of infatuation, but she couldn't help it. She hadn't had enough experience with infatuation to become blase about it.

She tried to work up some satisfaction at landing her first real job, but she felt more depressed than elated. Just get over it, she told herself. Even had she managed to attract Chase's attention, she'd never have stood a chance.

Although she had limited experience with the opposite sex, Darcy recognized the kind of man Chase Whitaker was—a real heartbreaker. It was stamped on him as indelibly as the ink that stained her fingers. He was completely out of her league—from his sexy blue eyes to his delectable mouth.

"Welcome to Sunbelt Oil," he said, offering his hand to her. Pulse pounding, Darcy stood and stepped toward him. She'd forgotten about her briefcase, but it hadn't forgotten about her, she thought, as she stumbled over it.

Momentum pitched her toward Chase. He reached up and grabbed her hands, catching her before she did a half-gainer and landed face first at his feet.

Smoothly, his grip changed to a handshake. Laughter danced in his sexy eyes. "Again, welcome to Sunbelt," he said smoothly.

"Thank you, Mr. Whitaker." His touch was everything she had imagined it would be. His skin was warm to her icy hand. Her pulse beat erratically. The touch of his palm to hers was flame to dry tinder. Suddenly, Darcy fully understood the meaning of desire. Her pulse throbbed in places she hadn't suspected could throb.

Mortified by her discovery, she jerked her hand back. She'd die if he ever knew how she felt! Determined that he never know how he affected her, she thanked him in a brisk, cool voice. She might as well squelch her hopeless romantic notions, Darcy told herself, because she knew that Chase Whitaker saw nothing, absolutely nothing, that attracted him.

Why couldn't she be petite, cute, and sexy—with a flair for fashion rather than a killer hoop shot? Why did she have to be a tomboy who towered over nearly every man even in a state full of long, tall Texans?

Darcy managed a few strangled words conveying her pleasure at joining his company even as a horrible suspicion began forming in her mind. She rejected the idea. It was unthinkable! Perfectly ridiculous!

When Chase touched her elbow, Darcy knew she was a goner. He led her to the door, which was a good thing, because the way her head was spinning, she'd never have found it on her own.

Somehow, she found her way back to her little blue car in the parking lot. She was in such a hurry that she nearly knocked down an elderly white-haired man, bundled up in a red ski parka trimmed in white faux fur. Absently, she smiled at the white-bearded man and mumbled an apology. If she hadn't been so shaken by her encounter with Chase Whitaker, she'd have been amused that he looked like Santa Clause. As it was, his appearance hardly made an impression because she was too busy bemoaning life's cruel sense of humor.

In her car, huddled on the cold blue vinyl seat, Darcy stared at the office building and wondered which window was Chase's? Softly, desperately, she asked, "What am I going to do?"

The icy temperatures made her breath visible, as if her plaintive question hung in the cold air. Working near Chase Whitaker, who had looked at her as if she were another piece of office furniture that he'd just acquired, was going to be impossible.

Darcy pounded the steering wheel with her cold, blue-stained hands. Crazy as it seemed, she had fallen in love at first sight with her handsome new boss.

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Post Script

Do you like the Cinderella myth? How do you like to see it re-imagined?

Nobody's Cinderella: Availability

Audiobook at Audible and iTunes.

eBook worldwide at most booksellers, including:
All Romance eBooks
iTunes/Apple Books
Joan Reeves is a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet who—no, wait, that's someone else. Seriously? Okay, if we must be serious. Joan Reeves is a multi-published author. Her books are available in ebook, audio, and print editions from all major retailers. Joan's Motto: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."

Joan Online: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Twitter * YouTube

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Giveaway and New Book

By Anna Jeffrey

Hi, everybody,

A lot is going on with Smart Girls! First, there’s a 99-cent sale underway at Amazon. We’ve put together a boxed set consisting of 9 books by 8 of the Smart Girls authors, plus Kathy Ivan. That computes to 11-cents per book. Is that a deal or what!

To celebrate the release of the set, a big party with lots of gifts is going on at Facebook. So don’t delay. Get your 99-cent deal, then rush over to the NINE WAYS TO FALL IN LOVE Facebook page and participate in the party. The prizes are awesome! This link will take you there.


Beyond that, I recently released LONE STAR WOMAN as an Anna Jeffrey ebook. This book was originally published as a mass market paperback under the pseudonym of Sadie Callahan.

The setting is a sprawling fictitious ranch, the Circle C, in a fictitious county in the Texas Panhandle. Though the town and county aren’t real, I sort of loosely drew on information from various historical old ranches located in West Texas. There were a dozen or so, founded after the Civil War when Easterners discovered beef and the high demand built the cattle industry. 

I’ve always been fascinated by how those old ranches came to exist in the first place.  They played an integral part in civilizing the West. The beef boom might have lasted only about 10 years, but it left a lasting legacy and a western culture that exists to this day.

I grew up in West Texas, not far from the Pitchfork and the 6666 ranches. Many of the males in my family worked at one or the other of those operations at different times. I have a cookbook compiled by the cook at the Pitchfork back in the fifties and sixties. 

Here’s a short blurb on LONE STAR WOMAN:

“Judith Ann Strayhorn (Jude), the only child of the vast Circle C Ranch’s owner and CEO, is in constant conflict with her father and grandfather. Her greatest desire is to exert her education and influence on the ranch’s operation, but the two men thwart her at every turn. Giving up, she goes outside the Circle C intending to use her trust fund to buy a small spread from a deceased widow’s estate where she can put her ideas on cattle breeding into practice. That is, until she runs headlong into the widow’s heir, Brady Fallon, who has his own plans for the 6-0 Ranch.

Brady is no stranger to Willard County, though he hasn’t been around since childhood. His inheritance needs a lot of work and he needs money to put it back into shape and revive it as a cattle operation. He hires on as a hand at the Circle C Ranch, a move that leads to unexpected benefits for his future as well as unwanted conflict with his boss’s daughter. Can he set his attraction to her aside for his own good?”

If you haven’t read LONE STAR WOMAN, it’s available at Amazon and Kobo. Hope you enjoy it.

Anna Jeffrey