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.






Thursday, December 30, 2021

December Weddings Are Snowy White (Even in Texas) by Kara O'Neal

I should've gotten married in December. All these glorious, romantic Christmas movies just show how sweet a December love story can be.

If you're like me, you've spent a portion of your December watching these movies and sighing with heart eyes. My favorites are:

1) While You Were Sleeping
2) Last Holiday
3) White Christmas
4) The Holiday (but really just the Miles and Iris story)

and my newest favorite:

5) A Castle for Christmas (Cary Elwes is still getting it done)

I think that making wedding bells chime in December is not a new thing because.....


1) Our best friends got married in December.
2) My parents got married in December.



















3) My husband's parents got married in December.















4) And my grandparents got married on Christmas Day. It was the only day my grandpa could get off from work.

So, honestly, for me, I'm wishing more people "Happy Anniversary" during the month of December than any other. (And I thought June was supposed to be the month? Maybe it is....)

Welp, whichever, I do think I like December weddings better than June ones. Because falling in love during the Advent and Christmas season seems so precious and bright and joyful and "snowflaky". (I just made that word up! Ha!)

I've got my own Christmas romance. I dedicated it to my grandparents because not only does it take place during Christmas -- which is when my grandma got married -- the heroine is a true lady. She's very accomplished in all things dealing with etiquette, and that reminds me of my grandmother and my grandma. They were ladies, tried and true. I miss them soooo much.



Here is a bit about THE CHRISTMAS BRIDE. Not only is it $0.99, but it placed third in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest.


THE CHRISTMAS BRIDE
by Kara O'Neal

Truly Cunningham flees after her fiancĂ© jilts her for her sister. With nowhere to go, she ends up in Pike’s Run, Texas, hiding in the town’s opulent Royal Hotel. As she nurses her pain, finding no comfort in the Christmas season, she is slowly running out of funds. She must find a way to support herself or return to Dallas where her sister is the wife Truly had planned to be.

 Alfred Taylor, manager of the Royal Hotel, hates Christmas. The decorations. The celebrations. The presents. All of it. And he must help the Ladies’ Auxiliary put on the Christmas Eve social. The only bright spot is the presence of a new guest, Truly Cunningham. She is beautiful, mysterious, and warming parts of his heart he thought dead.

 When Truly asks for a position in his hotel as hostess of the establishment, Alfred immediately hires her. Which becomes dangerous. He can’t stay away from her, and even worse, wants to spill his secrets. Will he lose his one chance at happiness, or will Christmas finally give him the hope it promises?

EXCERPT: THE CHRISTMAS BRIDE

Did he need her?

Yes.

Hell, yes.

But he wasn’t going to pursue her. She probably still loved the ass in the dining room, and Alfred had innocent blood on his hands. She deserved someone far better than him.

He led her into the office. “I wanted to give you the menu and plans for the dance. The Auxiliary, which is headed by Katherine Talbut, made an outline of everything.” He tugged open the top, right-hand drawer and withdrew three sheets of paper. He held them out to Miss Cunningham.

She took them, interest on her face.

He watched her peruse the items listed and wished he knew her well enough to determine what she thought of their ideas. Would she want to change anything? He hoped not. Not that he cared, but that would put her on the wrong foot with those ladies.

“It appears they’re making all the centerpieces,” she murmured. “I should probably call a meeting to introduce myself and see if they need my help.”

He put his hands in his pockets. “Whatever you prefer.”

She looked up. “Where can I find Mrs. Talbut?”

“I can take you over. I have time.”

Her brow furrowed. “I don’t want to trouble you.”

“It’s no trouble. Can you fetch your coat? We can walk over.”

She nodded then left the office.

He waited for her in the foyer, leaning an elbow against the registration desk. The Cunningham family appeared from the dining room, wearing sour and troubled expressions. Mr. Cunningham stopped and considered Alfred.

“Are you the man who hired my daughter?”

Alfred chose not to play dumb. “I am. We’re grateful she’s going to be handling our events.”

Mr. Cunningham shook his head. “I’ll not have this. She’ll return with us in the morning. I’m afraid you’ll have to find someone else.”

The ass who jilted her smirked.

“Something funny?” Alfred questioned.

But the sister stepped forward. “We can’t understand any of this. She needs to come home, and—”

“Missy,” her father warned.

Missy. Alfred smoothed his beard to smother his laugh. He straightened and sobered. “Mr. Cunningham, I didn’t intend to get in the way of family business and would appreciate it if you left me out of it. She offered her services. I accepted because we need the help, and she’s obviously skilled. In fact, we’re on our way to meet the leader of the Auxiliary.”

At that moment, Miss Cunningham came down the stairs, bundled for the cold. “Is there a problem?”

Alfred shook his head. “Are you ready?”

As she passed her family, she smiled at him. “I am. I have the lists, as well.”

And because he wanted to aggravate the ass, he offered his arm to her. When she took it, he pulled her next to him as tightly as he could without alarming her.

She snuggled up to him. Did she understand he wanted to needle her former fiancé, or was she taking pleasure in being near him?

Hell. He hoped it was both.


PURCHASE THE CHRISTMAS BRIDE


Interested in more of the TEXAS BRIDES OF PIKE'S RUN? Click HERE to see the rest of the series and for links to purchase! You can never have too many books!




Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Christmas Tree War by Bea Tifton

Beth Trissel is feeling a little under the weather so I’m filling in. 

It’s a common story. People with cats trying to maintain a fully decorated Christmas tree. I’ve never had a full size tree, being single, so I’ve never had a problem. But this year I was hosting the family Christmas celebration. I have senior cats except for one, so I knew that my tree would be fine. Wait. Except for one. One small, adorable tornado. 

 I’ve had eight month old Grace since she was two weeks old when I agreed to foster her and bottle feed her. I watched her eyes change from a cerulean blue to their current green and witnessed her curled little ears expand. She’s imprinted on me and she loves to follow me around the house, fascinated with everything. 





Especially one Christmas tree. My parents moved this year after a series of serious health problems, and since we’re all pooped, we decided on a very low key Christmas. We weren’t even going to decorate the tree, deciding to just have the lights. I did add a few ornaments at the last minute.
From the moment it appeared in the living room, well before we decorated, Grace was enthralled. She ignored both pricey cat trees we have and inspected the Christmas tree. When she batted at the branches, I said no and she backed off. Great. Problem solved. 

Problem not solved. I walked past the tree one night and realized it was shaking. A furry little body bounced down and ran away. And so it went. Grace watched us put on the lights, her eyes big as she followed our steps. I put on the ornaments and crossed my fingers.Grace batted at a few ornaments but didn’t dislodge them. She didn’t climb the tree again.

But one morning I walked in and my slipper crunched on something. One of my vintage red ornaments and my little green owl ornament were on the floor. They’d been cruelly murdered in the night. I saw a telltale little ear, trying hard to be very still, and scolded Grace. She’d never been scolded before and she seemed to take it very seriously. I sighed and swept up all the twinkly little pieces. 



That evening, darned if I didn’t walk past and realize the tree was shaking again. I said Grace’s name and a furry little face with huge eyes popped through the boughs. What the heck. I knew when I was beaten. I just put a red bow on her and let her be. 

Hope you had a great holiday and have a wonderful new year. 




Sunday, December 26, 2021

Be Present, Not Perfect by Laura Hunsaker

 This past year and a half has been hard in so many ways, and this year, with Christmas just having past, feels like it's driving in the point of how much I missed.

I feel like I've procrastinated so many things I normally wouldn't, and I've missed out on things I typically wouldn't. I was feeling pretty down this year. I mean, I didn't even send out Christmas cards! First time in almost 20 years that I didn't send out Christmas cards!

I was setting up my planner for the week, getting ready for the New Year, when I came across as sticker that said, "Be Present, Not Perfect." That one really hit home for me. I don't need it to be perfect, I need to be present in my life, in my family's lives. But it doesn't have to be perfect. I think this is my new motto.

I know it's not quite New Year's Day yet, but I think that my New Year's Resolution is to be present, not perfect.

How about you? Are you a New Year's resolution type person? Do you set them and forget them? 




Check out my book Dark Past which is free only until December 31, 2021



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...





Friday, December 24, 2021

WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME

 by Judy Ann Davis

What does Christmas mean to me? There are so many things to think about when the holiday season arrives in December. For me, and most importantly, Christmas means we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. But it also means we need to reflect upon such things as compassion for others, being kind and caring, being thankful for good health, and being grateful for friends and family. My husband and I also rejoice in the celebration of the season with special traditions like sending Christmas cards and enjoying certain foods, stories, movies, and music.

I am hooked on Christmas music and usually turn on the tunes the day after Thanksgiving. Imagine my surprise when my husband started playing them on Thanksgiving Day. I believe that he, like all of us during this pandemic, wanted something uplifting to hear and look forward to. I love to play instrumental Christmas songs and fill the house with the old standard holiday tunes while I work. My favorite Christmas carols are in a tie--Silver Bells with Mary Did You Know? 

But if I could decide on one thing that I'm forever grateful for, it's the invention of our technical digital advances allowing us visual face time with people from afar. We regularly Skype with our son and family in Alaska, watching his four-year-old and his seventeen-month-old sons grow and thrive in the snowy North. It’s such a joy to chat with them.

This year, we will celebrate alone again. My husband and I always cook together during the holidays. We’ll bake a ham with all our traditional fixings of baked corn, green beans, potatoes, cookies, and an apple or pumpkin pie. We are fans of left-overs. My husband makes a fabulous ham and potato soup afterwards.

I used to get anxiety-ridden when the holiday season arrived. There was so much to do when my sons lived at home. However, my mother, who is now deceased, used to tell me over and over, “Judy, Christmas is really only one day.” She was right, the rest is just frenzy in celebration of that one day.

If you have special traditions you celebrate for Christmas, drop me a note in the comment box below. I’d love to hear about them. Before I forget: 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 


   A NOVELLA FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

              A MAPLE COOKIE HOMECOMING


      

            THE MUSICAL CHRISTMAS SERIES:

                 JUNE ~ The Pianist

                ADELENE ~ The Violinist

                LUCY ~ The Clarinetist

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Tis the season

 

Just ahead of the Winter Solstice, we put some of my books on sale. I’d make them free; but if you have books widely available, you can’t do that. These are only on sale for Amazon eBooks.  “From Here to There” is not about Christmas, but it leads to the one that is, and that’s why it got added to the 99¢ sale. Sale will end the 31st.

 As we prepare to enter a new year, here’s hoping it’ll bring good things to you 

and the world.

 On the sale, first up is a non-Christmas one where a wedding abruptly ends with the bride telling the groom she made a mistake. It travels to Montana where bride and groom, with the help of Montana, ranch living, and an aging uncle learn new things about themselves and life. Part of the story involves a journal of an earlier romance—Hence the title, “From Here to There.” It is a full length book and there is some spice in it.

“A Montana Christmas”, a novella, picks up the couple a few years later when the wife tells her husband she wants to spend the holiday on the ranch and invite his estranged family. It has quite a section on the Winter Solstice as well as family.

“Diana’s Journey”, a novella, begins with middle-aged Diana and her dogs starting out for a new life after an unexpected divorce. With even her grandchildren grown, she feels no purpose in Chicago. She isn’t sure where she might. After some travel, she decides Bluff, Utah, is the right place to spend the holidays when she is not feeling at all festive.  Big things can be found in small places.

From Here to There -- https://www.amazon.com/From-Here-There-Rain-Trueax-ebook/dp/B006PNS7EC/

 A Montana Christmas -- https://www.amazon.com/Montana-Christmas-Rain-Trueax-ebook/dp/B00AOU0IQ2

 Diana’s Journey -- https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M5IA26Y

 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Things of Fascination by Liz Flaherty

I'm sitting here before the sun is completely up watching the skeletal cottonwood tree against the western sky. That's beauty enough--I love trees in any incarnation--but squirrels are running up and down the the heavy branches, leaping across the expanse between the widespread of the Y-forked trunk. I'm not sure how long I've been watching them, but I am wholly fascinated. 



The Christmas tree sits where it has sat for years. The lovely flocked pre-lit tree has some lights that don't come on anymore, some holes in the branches that are hard to fill, and ornaments unevenly distributed throughout. I turn its lights on first thing each morning and off last thing each night. I watch it and remember, because Christmas memories are especially poignant, especially bright and glittery like the silver garland and the glass ornaments on the tree. I am endlessly fascinated.


I love churches. I mean, I go to church, I am a Christian, and I'm not one of those who believes your devotion to the Lord depends on whether you enter a house of worship every week or whenever, but I love the buildings. Not just the United Methodist ones where I feel immediately at home, but other denominations as well. I love the architecture and the changes in it from one century to another and yet another. I am ever fascinated by the differences in churches and denominations, comforted by the likenesses.


I'm not a bird-watcher, not really, but sitting in my daughter-in-law and son's home in North Carolina watching the birds from their mountain-view deck holds me in thrall. The blue jays almost glow as they swoop across the valley below, then skid to a stop on the bird feeder platform to have a peanut or two.

My husband is a singer who plays guitar, so music has been part of our married life from its beginning. Our kids were in choir at school and several of the grands played instruments in band. One of our grandsons plays trumpet. He played "Amazing Grace" as a solo at his grandmother's funeral so beautifully that listening to it was almost unbearable in its poignancy. We are watching the Get Back documentary as I write this and I am drawn in as I was in the 1960s. I am not musical--playing the radio is a challenge--but my fascination with music is even greater than my love for it.


As a writer, I often share and write about things I love. People I love. Even turns of phrase. But these are the things that feed passion in different ways. They are enriching and joyous and accompany me on paths where I might otherwise feel alone. 

What are your things of fascination? I'd love to hear what they are and why.

Merry Christmas!




Looking for a Christmas read? Join us in Christmas Town

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Hold on Tight by Bea Tifton

 

Hold on tight. Christmas is almost here and it’s that time of the year when life is a whirlwind of planning and anticipation.

Each year, I intend to tap into my inner Martha Stewart and do Christmas right. The trouble is, I don’t have an inner Martha Stewart. One year when I was working for a boss who loved crafts, our Christmas party was actually a crafts night. She had three workspaces set up and we were supposed to rotate through until we had made three crafts. After each attempt, the other people at the table said, “That’s er...nice.” Good thing there were cookies and sodas there or I wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it at all. I certainly couldn’t give the crafts as gifts.

I tell myself I’m going to make a gingerbread house. I’ve never baked gingerbread. And those premade kits just seem too much like cheating. I think mine would look like a tornado had swept through the gingerbread village. I would also love to make a Yule log for my parents. Someone on the cooking channel made it look so easy. She even had meringue mushrooms.  I thought, “I could do that!” but I’ve never been brave enough to try it.



I do decorate a Christmas tree. And my ornaments aren’t placed just right for symmetry. I don’t have a theme each year. I use ornaments I inherited from my Mamaw and things I’ve just picked up through the years. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time for it all.  And I don’t have lovely decorations worthy of Southern Living’s magazine cover anywhere in my house. Just random funky things I’ve bought because I liked them.


Luckily, even with all my, “I should do this or that this year” thoughts, Christmas still comes each year, right on schedule, and it’s good even without linen napkins and amazing decorations.  Christmas isn’t about to do lists or unrealistic goals, meeting other people’s expectations, blowing your budget on expensive gifts,  or who has the nicest lawn display. It’s about spending time with family and friends, people who love you and don’t care if you made a Buche de Noel or a gingerbread house. They love what you got them because you picked it out just for them and wrapped it with love. 



Love. That’s Christmas. And I hope everyone reading this has a love-filled Christmas and a new year filled with extraordinary moments and magical days.




Photos from Pixels
Crafts-Cottonbro
Gingerbread Houses- Lina Kivaka
Man Hugging Daughter- Cottonbro
People with Sparklers-Nicole Michalou
Merry Christmas- Olya Kobruseva

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Reflections of an ornament collector by Peggy Jaeger

It’s been said ( by my husband, mostly) that I am a holiday ornament hoarder.
He’s not wrong, but one man’s hoard is another’s treasure.
Just sayin’.
I have over 500 Christmas ornaments and they’re not those cheesy glassball, highly breakable thingies we of a certain age grew up with. They are - for the most part - Hallmark and specialty, handmade ornaments I have been
collecting (read – not hoarding!) since I graduated from college and got my first well-paying job.

That very first Christmas season, December 1982, I purchased my first real tree and decorated it with the 15 Hallmark ornaments I’d purchased at my local card store. Yes, it looked a bit like a Charlie Brown tree, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere. Every year since then I’ve put up between 4 and 5 decorated Christmas trees around the house.

One tree is filled with all my Precious Moment ornaments. Another is covered with all ornaments featuring books of literature, both adult and children and including several Dr. Seuss books. I think I must own every Wizard of Oz ornament to be found in the world today, and every Winnie the Pooh one as well.

I have ornaments my daughter made for me in school, some my nieces made as well. I’ve got a few from my sister-in-law, and one friend gives me a different bird ornament every year. I have an entire baking and cooking-themed tree from all the years I did a cookie swap during the holidays. Covid stopped that from happening for the past 2 years.

Even with those 4-5 trees, some ornaments don’t make the cut some years.
This year is the very first one in a long, long time where I only put up and decorated 2 trees. The reason? My fifteen-month-old pup, Maple. And yes, that is her special ornament from last year.



 She is the nosiest dog I have ever met, in addition to being highly excitable. I can just imagine if I put up trees in parts of the house where she has free rein I would lose many of my most loved ornaments simply from her huge wagging tale taking a swipe at the tree, or her natural nosy nose poking at it.
The two trees are in our main living room which is gated off from Maple’s presence because of the hardwood floors it possesses. The rest of the house is carpeted and Maple is allowed everywhere it is.
So, this year I have our traditional family and friends tree- the one with all the ornaments about family, given by family, and about and given by friends, and a small tree that holds as the ornaments from all the places hubby, daughter, and I have traveled over the years.



That one is getting too small for all the great ornaments it has and I may need to get a bigger tree next year.



Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Not because you get presents; not because it’s in winter ( I hate winter!) but because it is such a joyous season. This year I’ll not only get to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, I get to celebrate the birth of my first grandchild, Ian. And yes, I got a few ornaments for him, as well.


Happy Holidays, everyone. Spend some time with family – if you can – be cautious in crowds, and treasure those you love.
~ Peg 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Remembering Christmas Past~ Sherri Easley

 



The Christmas tree of my childhood was a small scraggly silver aluminum tree with a color lamp. I am really not as old as that trend, but my parents threw nothing away. I thought it was beautiful and wish I had it now. 

There was always a tin of hard candy or cookies to go with the tree. Heaven forbid you grabbed the wrong tin. You might end up with a box or buttons or sewing supplies- although I would love that now.

Christmas as a child was wonderful and guaranteed a houseful of relatives with quilt pallets on floors, three and four kids in a bed and pulling out that terrible sofa sleeper. We had a large family, so there were lots of kids near my age to play with.




I prepared for the season months ahead by looking through the Sears Christmas Catalog and circling what I wanted Santa to bring. I swear, I wore that catalog out every year and now that I think about it, don’t think I ever got a darn thing out of it. I wonder if it is too late to complain?

Later, when I had children of my own, I went overboard on Christmas. We had yours, mine and ours children- two boys of the same age and a girl. I remember one Christmas when the boys were about 10 and we had to go to a Christmas party. They were a meddlesome duo, and I knew they would look for their presents while we were away. We had a coat closet at the end of the hall and I wrapped yarn like a spider web covering the door and added bells to the string. I had tacks and tape and all sorts of stuff.

I told the boys that if anyone got into that closet, I would know and there would be no Christmas presents. When I got home, I learned that they had spent most of their time trying to figure out how to get past the string to see what was in the closet.

What was in the closet? Nothing- all the gifts were out in the storage building, but they were so busy trying to get into the closet, they looked nowhere else.

During those years, I had the Santa thing down to a science. I wrapped all the gifts in special Santa paper and used a silver or gold sharpie to write their name in special penmanship. I then put all the gifts in trash bags and hid them.

On Christmas eve, we would go look at Christmas lights. When everyone was in the car, I would always find a reason to go back in the house…. I left the oven on… I think I heard the phone ring… any excuse would do. Once I was in the house, I would go to the hiding spot for that year, grab the trash bags and dump the wrapped gifts under the tree. After about 6 years, I was pretty quick and could get outside before the kids got restless waiting for me.

I would then go to the car, trying not to be out of breath from my Santa spree, and we would drive on to look at lights. After about 30 minutes or an hour, we walked back in the house and Wa! La! Santa came while we were away.

Not to brag, but this deception... uh process...  was so smooth that my daughter believed in Santa until she was nearly 12.

My daughter still carries on part of this tradition with her children now, wrapping in special Santa paper.

May you all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas!  

I would love to hear your favorite Christmas stories.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

WATCH CHRISTMAS UNFOLD

By Caroline Clemmons

This is my favorite time of year. Looking forward to Christmas turns me into a kid waiting for Santa. Not that I’ve been especially good—but it’s never made any difference. <grin>

Don’t lecture me about the meaning of Christmas. I’m deeply religious, but—for me—Christmas is like two events. Of course the most important is observing a day set aside to honor Christ’s birth, even though no one knows real date. The other occasion is the fun of giving (and getting) gifts, decorating, baking, and seeing and hearing from friends and family.

One thing I enjoy is the variety of Hallmark Christmas movies. Yep, and I like them all year. I see the flaws in them, but mistakes in continuity or script don’t spoil the pleasure I receive from watching the story unfold. I'm not put off by the fact that the main characters are from a small pool. Two nights ago we watched a movie in which the villain starred as one of the main good guys in last night’s movie. The “as you know” information dumps amuse but don’t annoy me. I. Don’t. Care.


For me, watching a romance or romantic suspense movie is an extension of reading. You know I LOVE reading! A few of my author acquaintances have sold the rights to their romance books to be made into film. What great feeling that must be!

Given the choice between movies or books, I prefer reading. Some things can’t be squeezed into a movie—like a character’s internal dialogue or lateral story threads. This is especially true the longer the book. Have you ever watched a movie of a book you’d read and thought they had to omit too much?

On the other hand, sometimes seeing a story I enjoyed brought to screen is fun. Did the producer cast the right people as characters? An example that pops into my mind is Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle. The late actress and philanthropist Doris Roberts was perfect in that role. Many other actresses could have done a great job in the role, but Doris Roberts really nailed it. I even enjoy re-watching that movie.


Doris Roberts


What about you? Has one of your favorite books been made into a movie? 



If you're looking for a Christmas story to read, MAIL ORDER GLORIA, An Impostor for Christmas book 7, will be released on Friday, December 3. Grab it here: 

https://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Gloria-Impostor-Christmas-ebook/dp/B09GQLXMVL/

AMY, Angel Creek Christmas Brides book 25, will be released on December 10. Preorder it here:  

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Angel-Creek-Christmas-Brides-ebook/dp/B098GK1PCH/

Stay safe, keep reading, and have a Merry Christmas!

People watching TV graphic from freepik.com