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.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Valentine's Fun by Laura Hunsaker

 I know Valentine's Day is over, but I wanted to share one of the gifts I was given.

In my day job, I work at a school. One of my little kindergarteners gave me these adorable little white chocolate hearts!

Aren't these just the cutest? I wanted something to snack on, and thought these would be a great treat, so I tore it open and discovered that...

These are bath soaps. Not chocolates. Yeah.

But on the plus side, they are great little vanilla bath confetti!

How was your Valentine's Day?

And don't forget that my latest novel Dangerous Past is out now!

Amazon   |  Barnes & Noble   |  Kobo  |  Google Play   |  Smashwords  |  Goodreads

She’s running from her past…

Lark Seawell is the daughter of a serial killer. His reputation has long been a shadow looming over her since his arrest when she was a child. Especially since she’s the one who called the police. She has spent her entire life trying to live as anonymously and quietly as possible. She is not her father’s legacy.

He wants to be her future...

FBI agent Jay Sutherland is visiting a friend in a small mountain town when free spirit Lark asks for help with her injured dog. He is instantly enamored with her, and their one night stand stays with him far into the next morning, though Lark is long gone. When his partner realizes that she is the daughter of The Highwayman, Jay refuses to believe Lark is anything like her father.

What happens when she stops running…

When a trail of dead bodies follows Lark on her cross-country drive, the FBI believes she’s the killer. How can the sweet woman who rescues injured animals and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in years be a murderer? The bodies don’t lie. Jay knows there’s more at play. If he’s wrong, and Lark is as much a monster as her father, he may be the next target…

*Author's Note: This book contains a sunshiney heroine, a gruff hero, a couple of goofy dogs, some intense action, and begins when a one night stand leads to more…

Friday, February 23, 2024


                                          by Judy Ann Davis

I’m currently on the Isle of Palms in South Carolina and watching the navy blue waves, fringed with white foam, roll in from the ocean. My husband and I decided to escape Central Pennsylvania’s February cold temperatures and spend some time with our son, his wife, and our grandchildren who live in the upper part of the state. The grands are two+ and three+ years old and are so delightful to interact with and watch. I’ve forgotten how active and animated youngsters can be.

For some reason, I can’t seem to get in the writing zone while we’re here. I’ve watched too much television and binged read too many books. I’ve discovered that digital/Kindle devices maybe to my advantage or disadvantage. With only one click, I have the written words instantly pop up in front of me. It allows me to not move from the chair where I’m sitting.

My writing friends tell me that it’s okay to kick back and take a break. Supposedly, breaks distract us so we’re able to focus once again. We need to escape. We need to reduce mental fatigue and boost brain creativity for those times when it’s essential for performance.

But I think I’ve completely zoned out.

Specialists who deal with human behaviors also agree it’s perfectly fine to take a break. It’s essential to higher productivity, energy, concentration, efficiency, creativity, and those things you need to survive. In fact, we need to take them to prevent burnout and stay healthy—whether it’s to escape the pressures of work or to perform any task requiring concentration and long stretches of devoted time.

How do you take a break? A few suggestions include taking a walk, heading outdoors into the fresh air, grabbing a high protein snack, allowing your eyes to refocus by dimming the lights, meditating, or just letting your mind wander.

So right now, I’ve decided to either cruise the internet, looking for a new book to read—or just sitting in the sun and letting my mind wander.

Either of those can’t be too difficult, can they? 

NEW - NEW - NEW     
COURTING BETSY - Book 3 of the Ashmore Brothers Series

                          VISIT MY   AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE FOR ALL MY BOOKS 


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

What's Your Favorite? by Liz Flaherty

Let's talk about favorites. I don't use that term lightly. I have a favorite oldest kid, middle kid, and youngest kid--same with kids-in-law and the grands. (Each of the seven grands thinks she or he is my favorite and guess what--they're all right!) While I relate better to some than to others--and they to me--the love is unconditional and all its cups are full.

Not so much with books. Either the ones I've written or the ones I've read. 

My favorites from when I was a kid are Little Women and Understood Betsy. Really, they are. But then I think of the Little House books, Caddie Woodlawn, and Away Goes Sally and how they made me feel, can't choose a favorite.

When I was in junior high and high school, I spent a lot more time reading Betty Cavanna and Janet Lambert than I did school books. Oh, and Rosamund du Jardin and Anne Emory and Elisabeth Hamilton Friermood. And every word Mary Stewart wrote. Surely among those, there is a favorite, isn't there? No, more likely 50 of them.

Then came Harlequin...and Candlelight...and Silhouette...and Loveswept...and a long list of other publishers and imprints who published books by women, about women, for women. Like most everyone here, I've read hundreds of them. I occasionally re-read Muriel Jensen's category romances and others by Betty Neels, Jenny Crusie, Nora Roberts, and Kathleen Gilles Seidel. And more. 

It is easier with my own books, although it took years for me to figure out that it was okay to have favorites. Just because they're mine doesn't mean they have to be anyone else's. One More Summer is my favorite. It took 83 days to write and 10 years to sell to a publisher. It's still sells and I still ache over the writing of it. I'm an emotional writer anyway, and that story pushed every single button.

But I have a few that share second place, and most of them are ones written about older protagonists, because I can feel where they are and who they are. One exception to that is The Happiness Pact. Like One More Summer, its story included clinical depression. But they survive and they thrive, 

A Soft Place to Fall is about family and quilting and rearranging the pieces of a long marriage gone wrong. It is another one that pushed all the buttons. I kind of think Early McGrath was me...only better. 

The truth, the ones I've chosen here--both the read and the written--are the favorites of the day. Tomorrow it will be books by Cheryl Reavis, Nan Reinhardt, and Cheryl St. John. But which ones? Hmmm...

Want to share your favorites? We'd love to see them. 


Early McGrath doesn't want freedom from her thirty-year marriage to Nash, but when it's forced upon her, she does the only thing she knows to do - she goes home to the Ridge to reinvent herself.

Only what is someone who's spent her life taking care of other people supposed to do when no one needs her anymore? Even as the threads of her life unravel, she finds new ones - reconnecting with the church of her childhood, building the quilt shop that has been a long-time dream, and forging a new friendship with her former husband.

The definition of freedom changes when it's combined with faith, and through it all perhaps Early and Nash can find A Soft Place to Fall.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Dysfunctional Valentine Cards by Joan Reeves

When I was shopping for a Valentine card for Darling Hubby, I remembered a long ago occasion when I was pretty ticked at him for something he'd done.

I no longer remember what that was, but I do remember what I did about it. I made a Valentine card for him with snarky art and snarky words.

We had a good laugh about it. I'm grinning as I write about it. At the time, I thought there should be a bad attitude section of greeting cards for such occasions. Shortly after that, a friend sent me one of those internet "floaters" about Dysfunctional Greeting Cards. I laughed like a loon, printed it, and saved it in my humor file. Yes, I keep things like that. You should too because you never know when you might need a good laugh. I wish I knew who had created it so I could thank her or him.

Dysfunctional Valentine Cards

I think a couple of days after Valentine's Day is the perfect time to laugh at those jokes. So here are a few so you can laugh with me. Hopefully, none of you received a card from your sweetheart with these snarky words. After the 3 periods aka dots is what you'd read inside a card—just in case you want to write one some day.

1. I always wanted to have someone to love. Now that you've come into my life...I've changed my mind.

2. I must admit, you brought religion into my life....I never believed in Hell until I met you.

3. As the days go by, I think how lucky I am....That you're not here to ruin it for me.

4. Someday I hope to marry...Someone other than you.

5. When we were together, you said you'd die for me...Now we've broken up, and I think it's time you kept your promise.

6. I'm so miserable without you...It's almost like you're still here.

7. Looking back over the years we've been together, I can't help but wonder...What was I thinking?

Kinder Gentler Laugh

I love to laugh. In fact, that's one reason I like to write romantic comedy and even put some humor into the other books I write.

I spent most of Valentine's Day working on print editions of my books. I'm also getting ready to submit the rest for audio book narration. All of my full-length books have been in Kindle Unlimited since, well, forever. I've stopped the auto-renewal on that feature. As their term in KU expires, I'm publishing them wide—with all the other ebook publishers—so readers can find them everywhere.

Scents and Sensuality—Available Everywhere

The first one to go wide is Scents and Sensuality, a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a designer perfumery.

It's available in ebook and audio book editions. I'll probably crow from the rooftops when the print editions of Scents and Sensuality and all the others are published.

The working title of this book was always Beauty and the Geek with Beauty being the handsome hunk and the Geek being the heroine Amanda.

Since it's mid-February, the winter is waning—thank goodness. Winter is not my favorite month by any means. The next time we meet, it will be just a week before Spring so hang in there if you're in a part of the country where the weather is really nasty.

In the meantime, read, read, read. That's the best thing to do—next to staying warm. See you in March!

Find Joan Online

FB Author Page:
Amazon Author Page:
BookBub Author Page:
YouTube Channel:

For exclusive content and news about free books, bargains, and giveaways, sign up for Joan's free newsletter,  I LOVE READING.


Enter Joan's Giveaway for a chance to win a Jane Austen Journal (if you're residence is in USA) or a $10 Amazon Gift Card (if you live abroad). Several options to enter give multiple chances. Giveaway closes Feb. 27. 
Winner selected by random draw.

Monday, February 12, 2024

The Changing Ways of Romance by Bea Tifton


Ah, Valentine’s Day. The day we show our love with chocolate, flowers, dinners out, or merely a greeting card.

Thinking about Valentine’s Day made me think of something else. No, not about how chocolate is 50% off the day after Valentine’s Day. I thought about the way romance has changed since I was young and idealistic.

My college roommate was a very interesting person, artistic, creative, and funny. And our coed dorm (different floors with opposite sex curfews) was chock full of handsome young men. One particular guy caught her eye and she decided to take a chance. She began writing Secret Admirer notes. Each note had a small clue. I delivered some of them myself. I must have been spotted because young Prince Charming and his roommate started watching us in the dining hall. (One of the clues was about a food she liked to eat.) When she did deliver the note telling him who she was, alas, Prince Charming turned out to be a frog. He told her in person, at least, but he  told her he wasn’t interested. She was mortified and broken hearted, but I admired her chutzpah.


Think about that now. First of all, who hand writes letters today? But picture it. Someone begins receiving cryptic, chatty notes from an unknown person. They continue and her trepidation grows. She finally calls the police to report that she has a stalker. Fingerprints are lifted from the notes. Stakeouts are organized to watch the house. Arrests are made. Tsk, tsk, tsk. What a sad ending to unrequited love. 

I know a couple who are very much in love. But Cupid can be tricky. The man loves to say that he had to convince his now wife because she wasn’t interested at first. He followed her around, chattering away. She said no, but he persisted. Finally she agreed to go out with him. Now they walk side by side, hand in hand. They are still absolutely besotted with each other to this day and they have two grown children.

Today a woman would report that man for harassing her. Reports would be taken. Protection orders would be instigated. Arrests would be made. Another potential for romance, foiled.

My tongue in cheek blog isn’t minimizing real stalking or sexual harassment. I’m just reflecting on our changing society. True stalking and harassing shouldn’t  be tolerated by law enforcement or by anyone for that matter.

 But picture someone with no ill intent. Sometimes, it’s some poor Joe or Jolene who received one of Cupid’s arrows and genuinely wants to make a gesture, a hope, a stab at winning their true love. I’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, there are still some happy endings in those instances, don’t you?

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Chocolate-is-Half-Off Day for the day after V Day. Photo Credits:
Karolina Grabowska "Pralines and a Gift for Valentine's Day"
Anastasiya Vragova "Smiling Barefooted Lady Writing Thoughts on Paper at Home"
Kindel Media "A Police Writing on a Paper"
Maksim Goncharenok "A Couple Writing on the Beach
Misha Earl "Bride and Groom Standing Next to Each Other"
alleksana "Happy Valentine's Day on Pink Surface" 



Monday, February 5, 2024

Sweet Art~Sherri Easley

was never bored growing up. Between my mother teaching me how to make cornhusk dolls or my dad carving little chairs out of wood, there was always something happening at my house. I learned how to sew when I was six and crochet when I was 7. Living in the country with not much else to do; my siblings and I learned to entertain ourselves.

Today, my brother is a woodcarver and makes little Santa's and people that my sister-in-law paints and my sister is an artist, in watercolor and oils. Of course, I have my embroidery and sewing business, along with writing.

It should be of no surprise to anyone that our children carry on that artistic gene as well.

This is a photo blog about my incredible niece, Susan, from Kanga’s cookies in McKinney, Texas.

She has been baking and decorating cookies for less than two years. She is self-taught and has also learned to design and print her own unique cookie cutters.

With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, enjoy this sweet treat. 




Sunday, February 4, 2024

Life Without Internet (shudder) by @JacquieRogers

 Life Without Internet 
(Okay, 4 days, but still...)

This blog post will not be fancy, that's for sure, but at least I could get it posted (I hope).  You see, we had a windstorm five days ago and it knocked over the tower that feeds us internet service.  Normally, our provider has solid service and if there's a glitch, we're back online within minutes--maybe an hour but no more than that.  But this time...five days, and it doesn't look like we're going to get service until Monday morning.

After four days, I finally figured out I could tether my computer to my phone and get internet using T-Mobile.  It's slower than snail poop but at least I could get online.  So here I am, typing away, definitely not taking the risk of posting the photos I took earlier in the month.  Or finishing the Valentine's Day video.  Or anything else.  It's text only, just like the days of PC Anywhere.  (I'm really showing my age there--I bet very few people even know what PC Anywhere is.)

I'm not saying that I'm utterly dependent on the internet but:

  • I can't access any of my story notes because they're all on OneNote.  And by notes, I mean character development, conflict, plot, what I've already done and rejected, and anything else you can think of.
  • Even if I could get to my notes, I can't access my file!  For some reason, our new fileserver isn't working, either, and it's not on the cloud.  What's with that???  
  • No internet research, and there was snow on the ground until yesterday so heading to the local museum wasn't an option.
  • Doodly doesn't work, which is how I send Valentine's greetings.  Oh well, there's still time.
  • Sure can't upload YouTube of TikTok videos.
  • No email, of course.  Mr R is having DTs over that little issue.
  • Can't order online.  OMG, and lots of things I need for the greenhouse aren't in stock at local stores yet.
  • I've had a bazillion questions that I'd like answered.  No Google.
  • We get the local newspaper but the news is two days old.  That's just not how it's supposed to be in 2024.
  • No YouTube cooking shows.  No looking up recipes, not even my own.
  • Can't plan our trip to Texas in March, which we wanted to finalize so I can make reservations.
  • Also, can't make reservations online.
  • Can't buy books for my Kindle. (faint)  Luckily, I have hundreds of books already, but still...
  • No Facebook, TikTok, X, Threads, Snapchat.  Wait, that's a plus.  I was amazed at what a timesuck social media is.  Ahem.
There's more, but you get the idea.  On the other hand, I planated a lot of seeds in the greenhouse and started cleaning the patio.  But not the garage--it's entirely too scary.

For reading, I've been into biographies lately.  How about your New Year book choices?

Stay safe, and until next month, Happy Reading. 📚😍

If you're on TikTok, friend me!  My handle is @jacquierogersbooks.  
You can get videos of Honey Beaulieu and Sassy's latest updates there.  And goofy videos of her scribe.  Heck, we even do a few cooking videos.

Thursday, February 1, 2024


By Caroline Clemmons

When you pick up a romance, what do you expect from the hero? Let’s talk about the main components of a hero, shall we?

 First, let’s get his appearance out of the way. Do you require a thick head of hair and perfect physique before a man can be a hero in your eyes?  Does he have to be a certain height, have a particular color of eyes, and wear his hair a certain way? If he’s bald, are all bets off? What if he’s a geek who wears glasses and isn’t that fit? What each of us means by “perfect” hero physically probably differs from one reader to the next. Not that I’m turned off by a handsome man, mind you, but I don’t care as much about his physical aspects as about his character.

For instance, I remember a friend who dated a wonderful man wo was crazy about her. She stopped seeing him because his hairline was receeding. She ended up marrying a nice looking guy who was an alcoholic who beat her.

Gregory Peck, one of my
favorite actor heroes ever


There are several qualities that are necessary for a hero, at least IMO. These qualities might not exist at the first of the book, but they’d better be there by the end or I want my money back.


[1] He has to be trustworthy. In our part of the country, you hear “His word is his bond.” That means if he says it, he’ll do it and you don’t need a contract to hold him to his word. No man with that reputation would risk losing it.


Chris Hemswrth

[2]  Loyalty. If he’s your friend, you don’t have to worry about him stabbing you in the back, figuratively or literally. He will defend you to others and, as the saying goes, have your back. Another saying from the Southwest along this line is “ride for the brand,” and it doesn’t just mean cowboys who work on a ranch.  If he takes a man’s money for a job, he won’t cheat his employer.


Michael B. Jordan

[3] Not afraid of commitment. Not just in romance, but I’m reminded of a man with whom man I once worked. He was in his thirties but still lived in the rented apartment he moved into for grad school, rented his office, leased a car, had the same girlfriend for five years—yet wondered why no one took him seriously as an adult. His lifestyle was still grad student. Talk about arrested development! 

Liam Hemsworth
(Are there any homely people
in their family?)

[4] Takes a stand. This may be a part of commitment, but I list it separately. It means he won’t be a “yes” man to anyone. He is not afraid to state his opinion about a course of action, and not afraid to follow up on that opinion.

 I’m sure you can think of more qualities you look for your heroes. Tell me what they are, and which you think are most important.