Smart Girls Read Romance -- so do the bestselling and award-winning Authors who write this blog.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2024


                             by Judy Ann Davis

"Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness," so says Oliver Wendell Holmes. . . and the father of Elise Springer, the main character.

KEY TO LOVE is an oldie from the past and a romantic mystery full of snappy, humorous dialogue. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll race against the clock with Elise as she tries to find the person who murdered a state trooper.

The cast of characters include the heroine, Elise Springer, an architect; hero Lucas Fisher who owns a car restoration garage and drives a restored Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am; and Lucas’s little orphaned nephew, Todd, who’s addicted to animal crackers and The Fox and the Hound storybook. 
You'll laugh with Elise’s grumpy, but astute father, her wise-cracking brother, Fritz, and a no-nonsense director of Child and Youth Services, Twila Pedmo.


When architect Elise Springer's father is injured, she immediately leaves San Francisco to care for him. The last person she expects to encounter in her Pennsylvania hometown is her childhood friend, Lucas Fisher. 

Lucas is investigating his brother's mysterious death, and Elise can't resist lending a hand. Lucas longs for the close family ties he never had. He's back in Scranton to set up a classic car restoration business and build a future. The torch he carries for Elise burns brighter than ever, but before he can declare his love, he must obtain the legal rights to adopt his nephew--and prove his brother's death was no accident.

As they unearth clues to find the murderer and a missing stash of money, Elise faces a dilemma. Is her career on the West Coast the key to her happiness, or is it an animal-cracker-eating four-year-old and his handsome uncle instead? 

                                      ~ *



Saturday, July 20, 2024

Everyday by Liz Flaherty

Okay, I'll admit it. I love the everydayness of my life.

The birds on the suet feeders outside my window, the squirrels and rabbits cavorting around the yard. I grieve a little when I look out there because my beloved cottonwood tree went down in the storms last week. She'd been on her last...trunk, I guess...for quite a while, but we wouldn't cut her down because she was the home to so many birds and squirrels and because I loved that she was part of my view. 

I enjoy my office. It's an unholy mess, because it's for both writing and sewing, and I don't do either one of those neatly. But it's my own space, waiting for me to make the 50-or-so-feet trek from the house to the French doors at the end of the detached garage. Although I acknowledge that the time will probably come for us to downsize and move closer to conveniences--we live in the country--I will, as Scarlett O'Hara taught us all, think about that tomorrow. 
In my office, carefully staged so you can't see the mess. 

I like the fact that we live back a short lane or a long driveway--whichever way you want to look at it. It's a major pain if there's a lot of wind in the snow come wintertime, but it's blissfully quiet back here no matter what season it is. While it took me quite a while to get used to the quiet that came with an empty nest, I've learned to like it. 

I used to resent certain words: average, mediocre, so-so. As a writer, I didn't like being described as okay or a solid C-plus. I wanted more. 

I think I've gotten over that. In truth, I hope I'm a good writer--at least a B!--but there really isn't anything wrong with okay. It's a little bit like when I figured out I was never going to be a leader because I lacked the skill set. But I'm a good and helpful follower. 

If I'd been the pageant type, I'd never have made the top ten or Miss Congeniality, but I'd have been nice. I'd have had a good time. I wouldn't have been mean. I'd have been your average, everyday contestant. 

When I look back over this post, other than shaking my head because it's all about me--I do way too much of that--I realize there is actually a point to it, albeit I think I reached it fairly clumsily. 

For some of us, everyday is enough. We don't need to be the best or the stars or the most at anything. Often, especially when we're younger, we'd like to be more. Better. But when we realize that we're good how we are, our lives are good how they are...well, it just doesn't get much better than that.  

In Syd's, Riley's, and Dinah's stories in the A New Season series, they are everyday women at turning points in their lives. I love how they get where they're going, and that they don't have to give up parts of themselves to get there. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Beach Book Weather by Joan Reeves

Yes, it's that time of year when you can find beach books as plentiful as grains of sand on a beach.

Just who invented the fun reading known as Beach Books?

According to Katy Waldman in a New Yorker article, "The Invention of the Beach Read," railroads and steamships made travel easy and those who worked in the city had enough income to abandon the city and escape to coastal towns during the summer.

With the advent of these summer escapes to the coast, book publishers created special book lists for affluent vacationers and. promoted them as summer reads.

Proper reading material at that time was serious literature and nonfiction which meant that those publishers who targeted the monied society‑folk succeeded in changing the perception of reading fiction which was previously considered vulgar and tasteless. 

What better to read at the beach than a novel set at a beach? May I suggest Deceptively Yours, a
sizzling HOT second chance romantic suspense full of surprises.

You'll be captivated by the passionate romance, the intriguing mystery, and the thrilling suspense.

I'll confess that I'll take a wonderful romance with a happily ever after any day of the year, not just in the summer. 

I find Romance is the optimistic genre.

What do you think?

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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Going Out of Business by Bea Tifton

Last week I was in the little town where my parents lived for 25 years. It's not far from where we live now and I still love to visit occasionally. I always stop by the antique mall where we began our antique business so long ago.  This time, my stomach lurched as I saw the bright yellow "Going Out of Business" banner. 

When I asked the woman at the counter if they were really going out of business, my voice broke. Her eyes filled with tears as she explained the current owner was going to retire. 

"How very said. I said. 

She could barely get the words out as she agreed, "Yes, it is very sad." 

Years ago, when I was in my early 20s, my mother and I started an antique business. Mom had always loved antiques, and she had instilled a love for them in me.  We rented two booths from a local antique mall. The owner was a force to be reckoned with, always nice to us but I wouldn't have crossed her. She always reminded me of one of those tough pioneer women; she'd be driving her buggy with a rifle resting in her lap. 

But she was supportive of us. She helped us learn the business, what to buy and what not to buy. We researched at the library and bought books ourselves so we would be knowledgeable about what to buy and how to price it. Of course, we were so excited and green that we bought some odd things and some things that would never sell. Buying things for the booth was the best part. We would get out the newspaper the night before and consult the estate sales and garage sales section to plot our route. Then we would go out and buy, then spend the rest of the day cleaning things up and pricing them. 

We still made mistakes. The first buy I made all alone, I got home and excitedly took out my prizes. I discovered that two things were chipped, and therefore worthless. So many lessons learned along the way. Some things, we kept. And a few things, we regretted selling, like the midcentury tree topper that lighted up and rotated from the top of the tree. I've never seen another, and even if I came across one, it would be ridiculously expensive today. 

Mom, especially misses our antique business, but I do, too. It was something we loved that we could do together. We eventually expanded to several booths in different malls. But this antique mall was the first. And even though this is the second owner, I'm heartbroken that she's closing. It feels like a big part of my past is just getting wiped out. I'll still make forays into the little town, but I won't be driving down that stretch of Main Street for a while. It's just too sad. 

Photo Credits;
Wikimedia Commons: 20180724 "Carson's"
Tima Miroshminchenko "Classic Dining Table and Wooden Cabinets Inside an Antique Store"
Ylanile Koppens "Close-Up Shot of a White Vintage Pitcher"
Julia Volk "Vintage Blue Door of an Old Building"

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Last Words~ Sherri Easley


When I was growing up, there was an elderly widow woman who lived next to us. When I say, next to us, it’s only in the broadest sense of the term, because we lived in the country, but we could see her house from our front porch.

In the Summer, I would hotfoot it down to Miss Nora’s house, barefoot on asphalt, and sit and eat ice cream with her and listen to the wisdom of age. She was a lovely woman with red hair and twinkling blue eyes. I asked her once why she had never remarried and she said, “because I never found anyone who made me a better person.”

As I get older, I find myself more in tune with the here and now, more aware of the fragility of our human being and more conscious of my presence and actions. I have gravitated to Miss Nora’s wisdom, not just in spouses, but in my friendships as well.

My beautiful sister passed away yesterday. She and I had become very close over the last few years, and we chatted on messenger every week, either just the two of us or with her daughter, and always ended with our last words: “love you.”

Elaine made me a much better person and I am grateful for that.

When I published my last book, Stars at Night, I dedicated it to her and meant every word.

For Elaine.

Surrogate mother, therapist, friend, and the best sister a girl could ever have.
Pinky swear.

Rest in Peace Elaine, until I see you again.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024


By Caroline Clemmons

Seeing a particularly obnoxious commercial on television prompted me to question the advertiser’s approving such an advertisement. Some commercials actually insult the public’s intelligence, in my opinion. This reminded me of past great commercials that have remained in my head as classics. These beg the question why some ads are so dumb while others are so well done they remain in our minds. Here are some of my favorites:


1.     My all-time favorite is the Coca Cola commercial that had a group singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” Not only is it a pleasing song to hear, the sentiment it expresses is great.

2.     Second is the Oscar Mayer commercial with Andy Lambros as the cute child singing “My balogna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R...” Who could resist such a cute kid? And I don’t even like balogna.


Sam Elliott

   The Dodge commercial with Sam Elliott doing the voice-over always made me want to rush out and buy a Dodge pickup. No, I didn’t actually buy a pickup, but I thought about it.

Dick Wilson
4.     Another that became a household classic was the late actor Dick Wilson as Mr. Whipple and “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.” People nationwide repeated that.

5.     Remember Mikey (played by John Gilchrist) for Life cereal? He’d eat anything. That was such a realistic view of children plotting together against a younger boy, but not in a bad way. How many people did you know who were accused of being a Mikey?

6.     A second one for Oscar Mayer was the “Oh, I’d like to be an Oscar Mayer wiener…” Some jingles stick in your mind. That one even inspired a joke.

7.     An older one was the Alka Seltzer animated boyish figure who plops into the glass of water with “Plop, plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.” My husband is a believer.

8.     I enjoyed David Naughton singing “I’m a Pepper…” for Dr Pepper, my soda of choice.

Dennis Haysbert
9.     Do you remember Dennis Haysbert's lovely, deep voice telling us we were in good hands with Allstate? How could you doubt him?

Clara Peller

10.             It’s difficult to narrow the field to only ten, but my vegetarian daughter thinks actress Clara Peller as the elderly woman in a Wendy's commercial asking, “Where’s the beef?” should be mentioned.


Once on a special, Barry Manilow play some of the jingles he’s written for commercials. On a talk show, Marvin Hamlish did the same. I understand that the cost of a great commercial must be prohibitive, but that doesn’t mean an advertiser has to insult our intelligence, does it? Do you have a favorite commercial—or one that especially annoys you?