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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Crazy words!!!!

Can't resist posting this sexy cover, even if you might have seen it before. I love clipped beards and mustaches. Sexy eyes don't hurt either.

But this column today is for lexophiles. Which probably means all of you who take the time to read our blogs. Here's a bunch of puns for those of us who like to play with words.

1. Venison for dinner again?  Oh deer!

2.  How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it.

3.  England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

4.  I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

5.  They told me I had type-A blood but it was a typo.

6.  I changed by Ipods name to Titanic. It's syncing now.

7,  Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

8.  I know a guy who is addicted to brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.

9.  I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

10. The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.

11. When chemists die, they barium.

12,  I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can't put it down.

13.  I did a theatrical performance about puns.  It was a play on words.

14. Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.

These are so bad, they're good! As usual I'd love to know which one appeals to you the most. I think I'd vote for 12, but it's a hard choice.  Do comment and tell me which one you like!

MuseItUp is bringing out all my books now and Victoria's Visions is the latest. It's a gripping book with two love stories, so it was very interesting to weave it all together.

Til next time.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

SPY GAME IS BACK! by Suz deMello (#cyberspy #newadult #cybersecurity #RomSuspense)

I've mentioned before that one of the joys of digital publishing is that we authors can re-edit and re-release reverted works. Spy Game is one of these old friends. Originally written in 2001, it first was given life by Five Star, a reputable publisher of hard-cover novels for the library market. They gave it a fantastic cover:

The teal was a bad idea--
I've noticed that bright covers sell better.
But the graphic is very cute.

And it got GREAT reviews. One of the cooler aspects of publishing with Five Star was, although they were a very small publisher, they had a reputation for putting out good work, so reviewers like Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly covered them. Here's what PW said about Spy Game:

 Spy Game
Sue Swift. Five Star, $25.95 (277p) ISBN 978-1-59414-658-9
Cyber geek meets seductive spy girl in this feverish Silicon Valley thriller from Swift (Triangle). Half-French, half-Algerian Ani Sharif, whose parents were murdered by extremists 10 years earlier when she was at a private girls' school in Algiers, has joined the United States Security Agency. On her first undercover assignment, Ani must uncover who's selling Defense Department cyber secrets to foreign governments. The prime suspect is Richard “Baby Rex” Rexford of, where Ani lands a programming job by playing the part of an opportunistic cyber pirate. Her mission is to hack into Richard's home laptop and locate incriminating evidence. What she doesn't bargain for is falling in love with this possible traitor. Swift delivers a fast-paced romantic romp as the spy games escalate into erotic games, testing Ani's faith in her ability to separate business from pleasure. Swift's brisk narrative offers an unusual blend of romantic suspense and cyber crime. (Feb.)

You're probably wondering who "Sue Swift" is. That's me, or at least, one of my personae. Writers tend to be schizophrenic. (Just kidding!)

Spy Game was then licensed to a not-so-wonderful publisher which will remain nameless and unlamented as it fades off into the sunset of wrecked publishing dreams--the fate of all opportunists seeking to take advantage of authors.

But then--it came back to me, so I was able to re-edit, update, and perfect. Now, some people might feel that we're too picky about our work:

But really--they're our babies, and we like to launch them properly into the world. So here's the new cover by Sweet and Spicy Designs plus an excerpt from the Prologue to pique your interest:

San Francisco, California

On Saturday afternoon, Gar saw an umbrella hung in the signal tree in Golden Gate Park, so he met his contact in the Castro at midnight. To anyone watching, they’d look like two guys outside a crowded bar, sharing a smoke, but his contact passed Gar a tiny package, a package worth millions to his customers in Indonesia.

He tucked the package inside his jacket and mounted his motorcycle, heading for Potrero Hill and the shelter of a safe house. As he passed through a residential area, he slowed, and only then did he hear the growl of another motorcycle on his tail. At first he thought it was happenstance, but as he turned one corner and then the next, with the following motorcycle’s roar ringing and banging in his ears, he realized he’d been tagged.

Gar tried every trick he knew to shake the tail, but nothing worked. Too late, he saw that he’d been herded toward the shore of the bay, heading too fast down a dead-end alley, with warehouses on each side and a chained metal gate in front of him.

Braking too hard, he jerked the bike into a sharp turn in front of the ten-foot-high gate. The bike slewed on the slick, damp street, drawing a screeching curve to the left before crashing into the cyclone fence.

He hit hard and went down, his bike clattering on its side, sliding out of the fog lamp’s amber halo into the dark, misty night.

In a haze of pain, he lay stunned on the pavement, moving in and out of consciousness, with the bitterness of failure flooding his mouth.

The other motorcycle stopped. Gar heard the scrape of boots on asphalt. Blinking, he raised his heavy head a fraction to see an hourglass figure silhouetted against the golden light. He groaned and dropped his head back. One hand scrabbled toward the precious parcel, seeking to protect it.

The boots stopped close to his head. Too close, but nothing he could do about it. Too weak. Too much pain. Should have worn a helmet…

Motorcycle leathers creaked. He smelled jasmine, felt warmth, sensed she knelt beside him. He blinked again.

She had a jaunty smile and eyes that gleamed green even in the dim light. Opening his jacket, she removed the package, which contained the prototype of the computerized brain that would run some of the United States’ newest, most sophisticated guided missiles.

“Thank you.” She tucked the package into her jacket and walked away, her boots crunching. He heard her bike kick, catch, and roar away, its growl receding into the misty night.

Like what you read? 
Here's where to buy it:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Where Have All the Years Gone? A blog by Romance Author Marianne Stephens

I look at myself today and wonder how those extra pounds cemented to my body ever got the chance to take up permanent residence. And, the gray/white in my dark hair? When did that start? Frown lines? Wrinkles? Aching knees and body?

When I was young, I couldn’t wait to turn 16. Then 18. Then 21. Then, 30. After that, I was just too busy raising a family and teaching to worry about age. When I turned 50, I actually felt surprising good. It was turning that dreaded 60 that depressed me.

All the fun emails people send me about “remember when” are entertaining…and things I do remember. My memories of growing up before I got married now seem so distant, as the years I’ve been married outnumber the years I was single.

When did I get so old?

I, like everyone else, remember certain important things from my past. Growing up and going to school. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And, saying the “Our Father” prayer in school because it was perfectly acceptable to do so. I remember leaving school early every Thursday to walk to religious instruction, and no one mentioned the fact that a public school allowed this early dismissal for religious reasons. It just happened.

I remember gym suits and respecting teachers. Dressing appropriately was important and not something argued about. Nothing was said about “free speech in dress”, long hair for boys, earrings, makeup, etc. We followed rules and did as told. Air raid drills were common in schools. Getting into trouble meant your parent would meet with the teacher and you’d be disciplined.

I remember where I was when President Kennedy was shot, and how I’d told my mother that morning that I’d had a “vision” he was going to be killed. Eerie thought to have, and worried me for months. How did I know that would happen?

I remember the deaths of loved ones, the marriages and births of others.

I remember being in a car accident and falling out the door (no seat belts then) and thinking to myself, “I’m dead.” I vowed not to drive again but did.

I remember how important school studies were, and how we all needed to take a foreign language to get into college. Driving was a privilege, not a demand. Working was important, and you never left a job without giving two weeks notice. Unheard of. Not ethical. Not done.

I’m a baby boomer, and life is so different now. But, I’m older, and can sit back and watch as I reflect on what was, what is, and ponder what will be. Medicare age is here and that  brings a new installment in the book of my life. Can I be that old?


My 50th High School reunion has passed. When once we talked about college hopes, careers, marriage and raising families, now we’ll talk about retirement, health issues, and grandchildren.

I taught for years, then began my writing career “late in life”. The sensuous or erotic scenes I write I’d never have written before. But, I’m older now. At peace with myself. Not out to please others or prove anything to anyone as to what I write. I do it for me.

I think about a scene from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” where the character played by Kathy Bates waits patiently for a parking space, only to have two young women zip into the spot before she can move her car. She tells them she was waiting for the spot, only to have them tell her that they’re younger and faster.

First instinct would have you angry but accept rudeness from younger, flighty people and search for another spot. In this case, however, the character rams her car into the younger girls’ car a few times. When they scream at her, she replies that she’s older and has more insurance.

I love that scene. It reminds me that I’m older, don’t have to give a damn what others think, and can do as I please (within the law, of course). I no longer shrink back into a corner of silence if I don’t agree with others more vocal. I speak my mind, if I feel I need to.

With age comes the wisdom to know when to speak, and when to shrug it off and walk away. Picking my battles keeps me sane, and preaching to deaf ears gets me nothing but pain. Life has changed, the rules have changed, people have changed, but I’ll roll with the punches…as long as you don’t get in my way and irritate me.

Then, be prepared to hear me roar. I’m older now and not afraid to speak.

Marianne Stephens

photos:Flickr: John Morgan, johnbulla, and cannon snapper's photostreams.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Magical Places and Odd Beginnings

I'm normally a very character driven writer, but upon occasion, a place will spark a story. A few years ago I was in New Orleans for the Romantic Times Convention and my roommate and I soon discovered a little cafe just a few blocks from our hotel. The beignets were amazing, as were the fresh local strawberries, and it became our almost-daily stop for either breakfast or lunch. Our last day in New Orleans, we lingered in the courtyard (right), listening to a rather mediocre street singer outside the fence, and quietly singing along. The sparrows in the cafe and open courtyard were characters themselves--so much so that they added an almost fairytale aspect to the sunny afternoon.

Added to the atmosphere and the music, I mulled over a few events from earlier in the trip. When we took a ghost tour the previous evening, we did, in fact, encounter a young man on Bourbon Street dressed in red fake fur, cheap plastic horns and black boots, carrying a plastic liquor bottle full of something red. Another traveler talked about a different street performer she'd met, one who lived on the street (or claimed to) because she couldn't find housing without giving up her dog.

Everything, from the cafe to the sparrows to the "devil" who seemed to have a little crush on our ghost tour guide, gelled together as we luxuriated in the peaceful afternoon. I said to my friend, "I have a story forming."

She said good,  "Someone ought to write about this."

And so I did. Since it was New Orleans, I had to add a little magic. My apologies to the real people whose lives I only saw from a single snapshot in time. No devils, street singers or even sparrows were harmed in the writing of this paranormal romantic suspense novella.

At the present time, I'm between contracts, so hoping for ever more inspiration to be found in 2017. Look for more re-releases as the year unfolds--like many authors I recently received rights back to a number of my books. I also seriously hope to have some new material out this year as well. Here's wishing all of us a magical and productive new year!

by Cindy Spencer Pape

Three years after his wife’s death, Quinn Carling has finally come to peace with himself and the detective returns to New Orleans to visit her grave and say goodbye. Darcy Jefferson is a street performer who can see auras and refuses to let her abusive past bring her down.

When this unlikely pair meets, the sparks begin to fly. When they witness a murder together, Quinn resolves to protect Darcy. With help—and interference—from Quinn’s former in-laws, the local police who want Quinn back, a mutt named Olaf and a powerful voodoo priestess, the two of them help search for the murderer, so he doesn’t find them first. Quinn never expected to fall in love again, but he hadn’t counted on the magic of New Orleans.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Interview with a Castle

One of the most rewarding interviews I’ve written as an author is with Winterthorne Castle. We often hear such sayings as “if only these walls could talk…” well, in this case they can. 

This castle has a heart, and within that heart beats the heart of each family member—across many generations—as they loved, laughed, cried and died within the sanctuary of the castle’s walls.

Winterthorne Castle, Ireland

This castle features in the book, Christmas Spirits, by Gemma Juliana

If These Walls Could Talk…

Have you ever walked around an ancient site – a castle, ruins or graveyard – and wondered what the walls and stones would say if they could speak to you?

I’ve been in such places many times, and this thought has often crossed my mind.

Today is such a day. I’ve been invited to afternoon tea by Anna O’Cleary, the Irish beauty who fell in love with Sheikh Khazan of Zahiria long ago. Theirs was a union of soul mates, and a rare case of love at first sight. She became his queen, and brought Winterthorne Castle into the marriage as part of her dowry.

When I started to write Christmas Spirits, it was meant to take place in the imaginary kingdom of Zahiria I created for the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series.

Instead, I was constantly pulled to place the story in Ireland at Winterthorne Castle. It wanted to be acknowledged as a character in Christmas Spirits, so today we will open the double entrance doors and step inside.

Winterthorne Castle estate is alive. It stands strong on hundreds of acres of enchanted land. Lush rolling hills, babbling brooks and streams, a primal oak forest and an ancient stone circle are just some of its natural features. Above and beyond the peninsulas of southwestern Ireland, it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Centuries of history are embedded within its walls. 

As I view the castle from its gatehouse, my journey up the winding avenue begins. I sense the proud spirit of the tall structure. Its granite façade glows white in the snow, crystal chips sparkle in the weak winter sunlight. Beveled glass in Gothic style windows glitters in the late afternoon sunlight.

A housekeeper ushers me into the library, where afternoon tea is served. To my surprise, a note indicates that Queen Anna will not attend my interview today. Instead, Winterthorne Castle is my host. I’m to sip tea, sit back and relax. I’ll connect with the house by resting my hand on a granite stone that has been provided. I close my eyes and envision the questions I wish to ask…

Who named you Winterthorne, and why?

I was built on an ancient place of power, by Sorcha, a warrior woman who ruled this land. People think I’m masculine, all solid granite and turrets, but my spirit is feminine. A sacred well in the depths of my dungeon hides secrets, as well as healing waters.
My name is in honor of the blackthorn bush and its very sharp thorns. It still blooms here, although not as abundantly as it used to. Sorcha moved in on the first day of winter, so she bestowed upon me the name Winterthorne.

Is it true the walls of old buildings harbor memories?

Yes, we absorb energies. I’m made of vibrant, living stone. The crystals in my walls record memories, good and bad. I recall the many highs and lows over the years vividly. For me, there is no memory loss with age. 

Interviewer’s Note: Winterthorne has a sense of humor.

Will you share your happiest memory?

There were many... probably when young Anna O’Cleary met her father’s guest, the exotic foreign ruler Sheikh Khazan of Zahiria. She was such a beauty, all the warriors and princes on this island wanted her as their own. She had no interest in romance, or in them. The moment Khazan walked into the dining room for the state dinner in his honor, and their eyes met, will be forever emblazoned into my walls. Magic crackled in the air. Amazement, wonder, excitement, passion, and love were ignited that night, and the imprint sizzled and sparkled as it permeated my walls. That’s when the love story began.

Can you tell us your saddest memory?

There are two memories that compete for that title. I’ve never decided which is sadder, Anna knowing she would die at the hands of the gypsy witch who pretended to try to save her life, or Khazan wandering the halls for years after her death, nursing his broken heart. He waited all year for the few hours they shared on Christmas Eve. That was a depressing time in my history.

Why did the healer kill Anna?

It was not personal. She actually liked Anna. It was a revenge killing, carried out by the gypsy witch to punish Khazan for deeds his ancestors committed.  

How do you feel about ghosts living within your walls?

It depends on the ghost. I like happy energy. Whether a person is in the flesh or not makes little difference. Some ghosts are very negative, as are some people. I try to be rid of such beings as quickly as possible.

How do you accomplish that?

I enlist the help of the elemental spirits on the land. They are usually good for some mischief. The fairy tribe called the Lunantishees makes their home in the blackthorns and guards these powerful bushes. They are masters of blending life and death energies together. Blackthorn flowers bloom when the tree is bare of leaves, thanks to their magic. These fairies help me haunt negative and unwanted guests out of here, whether they’re alive or dead.

Have you ever feared destruction?

A century ago, my kitchen went on fire. Sorcha, my original mistress, gathered the elemental beings and a sudden snow storm extinguished the flames before they could engulf me. My fear that night is recorded in my walls. That night, I struggled for survival, and won.

Do you have any secrets you’d like to share with us?

No, because if I did, I’d have no secrets. I’ll say this much. I have a deeper link with the destiny of the kingdom of Zahiria than anyone alive can imagine. The key is yet to be discovered.

Do you have a favorite phrase?

My favorite phrase is one you humans say, the heart of the home. There truly is a heart in every home. It is up to those who live inside those walls to ignite the heart fire. Then the home will protect its people and exude love and harmony.

If you could make a wish, what would it be?

I want the laughter of children within my walls again, the sound of their little feet running down my halls. With the right family, I can rise to my true potential as a home.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I get excited about family gatherings. I love the scents of fresh cut flowers, bread baking, the sound of harp music. I laugh and I weep. I love deeply and I feel the loss of those who leave me.

Do you know what the future holds for you?

This generation enjoys me for relaxation, but I am often alone. Change will come when the great discovery of my biggest secret is made. Then I shall have a family again, and a new life cycle.


GEMMA JULIANA is a multi-published author who lives in an enchanted cottage in north Texas with her handsome hero, brave teen son and a comical dog who is really a human in disguise. She loves making new friends and hearing from readers. Exotic coffee and chocolate fuel her creativity. She writes romance, mystery and suspense with a splash of the paranormal. You’ll find alpha heroes in the Sheikhs of the Golden Triangle series and modern heroes in To Kiss A Leprechaun and Autumn Masquerade. More books coming soon.
Buy Gemma’s books on Amazon.  
Connect with Gemma

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

THE GREATEST LOVE STORIES EVER TOLD: The Prince Who Wanted To Be Like Everyone Else ... But Wasn't

Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa

When I consider "The Greatest Love Stories", I never think of them in terms of a contemporary settings. My instincts and preconceived ideas lead to the conclusion that such stories are myths, legends, ancient history, or fiction.
First, because there are many contemporary love stories – nearly everyone has or knows one -- but we only hear about those involving celebrities. Second, because the more contemporary the event, the more people there are with personal knowledge, who will leak information or write about the truth or a version of the truth. Details and differences of opinion make situations overly complex. Third, given enough time, everyone knows how the story ends.
Case in point is the story of Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson, which is considered by many as one of the greatest contemporary love stories. After all, Prince Edward gave up the throne of England to marry the woman he loved because the monarchy would not accept her as queen.
When I started my research, I expected this love story to have a somewhat happy ending in spite of the many sacrifices made -- but nothing in life is what it seems.
Bessie Wallis Warfield was born in June of 1896. Her father, who came from an affluent and distinguished family, died shortly thereafter, and for the first few years, she and her mother were supported by her father's wealthy bachelor brother, the postmaster of Baltimore. Then, they moved in with her mother's recently-widowed elder sister, until they could get an apartment, and later a house, of their own.
Wallis' uncle paid for her to attend the most expensive girls' school in Maryland, where she was at the top of her class. Although not classically beautiful, she was always immaculately dressed and pushed herself hard to do well. She also loved breaking the rules and shocking people with brash behavior.
In 1916, she married Earl Winfield Spencer, Jr., a U.S. Navy aviator. He turned out to be an abusive drunk, and after several long, unavoidable separations, they divorced in 1927. Her second husband, Ernest Aldrich Simpson, a shipping executive, divorced his first wife and married Wallis in July, 1928, and they moved to England.

        First Wedding                    Second Wedding   

Through a friend, Wallis met Thelma, Lady Furness who was, at the time, the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales and heir to the English throne. In 1931, Lady Furness introduced Wallis to the prince at a party.    
It was not love at first sight. They exchanged a few polite words, and didn't have anything to do with each other for the rest of the party. Over the next several months, Wallis and her husband ran into Prince Edward at other parties, and eventually he became their friend.
Prince Edward, later King Edward VIII, was born Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David [Whew!] in June of 1894 to the Duke and Duchess of York [the future King George V and Queen Mary], their first child and heir to the throne. He was followed by four brothers [one of whom died at 14] and a sister. 

According to his biographers, he feared his strict father and believed his parents were cold and distant. One biographer says that "as an unloved child, Edward had an overwhelming need to be dominated and to adore."
At the age of 12, he was shipped off to the Naval College at Osborne, then attended Dartmouth. He later wrote that during those years he wanted desperately to be treated like every other boy his age.

Denied a military commission during WWI because of his status as heir to the throne, he argued his case with the Sectary of War. Ultimately, he was commissioned in a position under the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force. Although stationed far from the front, he did witness some of the horrors of war and gained the respect of the common Brit simply because he wanted to be there.
By the age of twenty-three, Edward had the reputation of being a playboy who preferred married women. Mrs. Winifred (Freda) Dudley Ward was his mistress for 16 years. He also had a long term relationship with Viscountess Thelma Furness, the sister of a friend of Wallis Simpson.
In 1931, the prince met Wallis and Ernest Simpson at one of Thelma's parties, but was not particularly impressed. Four months later, they met again at another party. Seven months after that, he was invited to the Simpson's house for dinner. The Prince and the Simpsons became good friends, and they exchanged invitations for two years, until 1934 when Thelma Furness took a trip to the United States.

It's not clear if Thelma asked Wallis to look after the prince while she was gone, or Wallis suggested it. Each said, later, it was the other's idea.
During her absence, Prince Edward invited Wallis and Ernest on a cruise. Ernest had prior commitments, but Wallis accepted. She wasn't alone with him, of course, and even her own Aunt Betsy was among the group. Chaperones or not, that was when their friendship crossed over the line to love. The fling was kept under wraps, but when Thelma Furness returned to England, she had been replaced by Wallis.

According to Ann Seeba, author of "That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor", Wallis Simpson was a flirt and "thought she could control the ardor of the Prince of Wales.

After all, the last thing she [Wallis] wanted was to risk losing her easy-going husband Ernest. And, gosh, Prince Edward could be tiresome, telephoning her at home two or three times a day and dropping by so often that she was actually starting to miss her other friends."
Ernest, himself, considered the affair as a coup and had reaped economic and social rewards, such as being admitted into the Prince's mason's order. He and Wallis both expected Edward to become King soon and knew the affair would have to end.
The royal family abhorred Wallis, particularly Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York and wife of the prince's brother Albert, who moved in the same social circles as Wallis. There are indications that at one time Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was romantically interested in Edward, even that she was in love with him.

It's hard to guess whether or not Wallis understood what the Prince was really like. For years, he suffered from undiagnosed anorexia nervosa — an illness often related to a wish to remain eternally childlike, exemplified by his letters in his teens to his mistress Freda.

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen ties the Prince's dependence on a mother figure, and some of his other quirks, to typical characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome. Several other people who were close to Prince Edward [such as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Lord Wigram, and the Archbishop of Canterbury], believed he was abnormal psychologically and possibly physically. More important, the Royal Family's doctor, Lord Dawson of Penn, believed his moral development had been arrested in his teens.

His fixation on Wallis was more likely his mental condition than true love.
Regardless, Edward became obsessed and showered her with clothes, jewelry, and other expensive gifts. He also expected her to devote all her time to him. Instead of calling it off, she tried, with no luck, to manipulate him to back off a little by taunting him and reducing him to tears in front of others. As the emotional drama escalated, with the royal family and public opinion in the mix, Edward retaliated with emotional blackmail and warned if she left him, he would kill himself.
[Somehow, this isn't sounding like a great love story to me!]
Just to complicate matters, King George V died in January 1936, and Prince Edward became King Edward VIII of England. Rather than becoming bogged down by royal responsibilities, Edward ignored them and continued to court Wallis. His major focus, instead of being on ruling, was on how to make Wallis queen … although she was still married to Ernest and wanted to stay that way.
At one point, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that marriage between the king and Simpson could not be allowed but, eventually, negotiated an agreement with Ernest to divorce Wallis. [That doesn't make a lot of sense, but there were a zillion details involved.]
Edward was King of England for 326 days. During this time, he threatened to abdicate unless Wallis could be queen. Wallis begged him not to abdicate and to just let her go. According to biographers, she had no desire to be queen and wanted Ernest back.
The whole thing became an international scandal. Everyone crucified Wallis and called her every ugly name in the book. It was clear the royal family, the public, and the Church of England would never allow Wallis Simpson, a woman divorced twice with both ex-husbands still living, to become queen. For her protection, Edward sent her to France.
After one year, Edward VIII abdicated, giving up not only the crown but his privileges as a member of the royal family. He was exiled from England. He married Wallis Simpson in France on June 3, 1937, in a subdued ceremony which was not attended by anyone in the royal family.

Shouldn't a Great Love Story either end in tragedy [as did most great love stories in myths, legends, and ancient history] or Happily Ever After?
Yeah, well, that's the problem with contemporary stories. TMI. Like I said, we know how the story ended.
In spite of being exiled from England, Prince Edward was granted the title Duke of Windsor by his brother, King George VI, but the Duchy and title dissolved upon Edward's death in 1972.
After Wallis and Ernest divorced in 1937, Wallis continued to correspond with him, even on her honeymoon. It was clear he had been the love of her life, and she regretted losing him.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor remained married for the rest of their lives [thirty-six years], but whether or not it was a happy marriage is highly debatable.
They lived in France and went through the motions, and everyone thought it was an HEA. They traveled some and commuted between France and New York, entertaining in both locations and participating in charitable events. During World War II Edward was appointed as governor of the Bahamas, which Wallis considered a punishment.
Biographer Seeba paints a dreary picture of the last thirty years of their marriage. "Their lives were defined by each other, the past, and aesthetics: decorating, shopping, holding formal dinners, being noticed by the newspapers. They were bitter toward the royal family, and Wallis was eternally frustrated that she no longer held the interest of people at high levels of society, government, or the arts."

“Nothing else in his [Prince Edward's] life gave him any sense of achievement other than his marriage to Wallis,” Sebba writes. “For her, the slavish devotion was at times claustrophobic, and she was not afraid to show it. But love is impossible to define and in their case especially so."

Nonetheless, she writes, "Few who knew them well described what they shared as love."


Monday, January 9, 2017

Inspiring the Next Generation @melissa_keir #RB4U

Inspiring the Next Generation

Welcome to my first post on RB4U in 2017! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, spent time with loved ones, friends and family, stuffed themselves on delicious foods, and have set some goals for this year!

My 2017 has begun with a long-term substitute position at a local elementary school. The teacher has his hip replaced and I'm guest teaching in his class of wonderful fifth-graders. I do love teaching. It gives me a unique chance to interact with the next generation. I can be creative and silly. But one of my favorite parts of teaching is being able to share my love of reading and writing with the students.

The class knows I'm an author and that my books aren't suitable for their age level, but that doesn't stop me from sharing books which are perfect for them. Many of them are my favorites from way back! Last week, I brought in the first and second book of the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. The students enjoy fantasy stories at this age as well as sarcasm and puns. Piers includes those in his books in such a way that the students will chuckle but also adults will see them differently, deeper. Immediately, one student picked it up and began reading it. Hopefully, I've shown them a new series which will entertain them for many years.

This week, I'm going to share another series...The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This series will appeal to fans of the Rick Riordan- Percy Jackson series. I can't wait to read the blurb to the kids and give them a chance to borrow the book. I know I'll have some takers!

Then I'll have one more week to share another book! Ohhh...It's so tough to choose. :) I have so many wonderful books to share. And best of all, I'm encouraging them to read as well as exposing them to new authors.

If you could share a favorite book or series with a group of young adults, which one would you share and why? 

Until next month, take care and be sure to stop by my website for my latest releases and blog posts.


Friday, January 6, 2017

99¢ Sale and a NEW Release #TinaDonahueBooks #EroticHistoricals #99¢Sale #LovingLies #FirstComesDesire

I have some New Year's goodies for you. A sale and a new release!

99¢ SALE
until February 5

Loving Liesbook one of my Dangerous Desires series, is going on sale for 99¢  through February 5. Woot!

Amazon - BN - KOBO - iTunes


Deception knows no limits. Passion knows no bounds.
When she’s kidnapped, Senorita Isabella knows the men have been sent by her uncle in a murderous attempt to control her family’s fortune. But when she is rescued by a dashing and mysterious warrior, Isabella can’t imagine why a stranger would risk his life for her—until she discovers her rescuer believes she’s someone else….
Fernando de Zayas loves nothing more than the cry of battle. Defying death is his way of life. But when he discovers his betrothed has been kidnapped, he rushes to her aid—never suspecting that spirited beauty would soothe his warrior heart…
With her uncle’s minions close on their heels, Isabella finds herself drawing closer to Fernando. But as the desire between them builds, her secret could keep them apart forever…


The Moorish Kingdom of Granada, Spain—1488
Al-Caicería—The Great Bazaar
“Harem!” The slave trader’s shout rose above other voices in the open-air market. He dug his fingers into the hooded robe hiding Isabella Lopéz de Lara’s face and nudity. “Harem!”
The Arabic word seemed to linger in the still, warm air. Sweat trickled down Isabella’s cheek. Her abduction in Andalucía, on orders from her murderous uncle, was far too real and horrifying now.
Someone brushed past, startling her. The individual’s sandals or boots slapped hard against the ground, the sounds fading quickly. Isabella snatched a breath. The hem of her robe pulled away from her legs. She stilled, terrified to move. Work-roughened fingers slid over her ankle and up her calf.
Holding back a scream, she backed into the slaver. He released his hold on her robe and shouted in Arabic, his words incomprehensible to her. An object whistled close to her face, followed by a harsh crack and a man’s agonized cry.
The hand jerked away from her leg. A series of brutal whacks and stumbling noises rose above the other sounds.
Swallowing hard, she listened for what she couldn’t see.
Too many buyers shuffled close, stirring up dust to mingle with the scents of cooked meat, cloyingly sweet perfumes, the stench of animals and men. Crude male voices yelled the word harem repeatedly. Moments later, fabric snapped.
She pictured the slaver stripping one of the other captives, forcing the poor woman to display herself.
Murmurs floated through the crowd. The slaver shouted above them, making the men speak faster, louder.
As they offered bids?
She shuddered, expecting the slave to plead for mercy.
Whoever the girl was, she held her tongue, seemingly resigned to her fate the Moors deemed qisma, destiny.
Men pushed past with cruel indifference, some pressing so close Isabella could smell the grime on their robes. Sickened, she stepped back. The slaver said something and ran his fingers down her shoulder to her arm, touching the side of her breast. She jerked away from his filthy touch. Those surrounding them laughed. The slaver pulled her tightly against him, proving she was in his world, his property, even though she was the daughter of a grandee and duke.
Her late father’s position hardly mattered now. Her only hope was in escape that seemed impossible.
Voices rose and fell during countless negotiations, sheep bleated, children played. Someone spoke above the din, the tone unusually high-pitched, sounding neither female nor male, marking its owner as a eunuch. A man who was no longer male.
His comments grew strident. The slaver shouted in return.
Her pulse pounded. If a way out existed, she had to see it. The eunuch and slaver argued on. She pulled at the hood of her robe and slowly lifted her head until she could see past the cloth.
The sun hung heavy in the sky, turning Granada’s structures a blinding white. Squinting at the overwhelming brightness, she regarded the numerous towers to determine if guards watched from there and would see any attempt at escape. If not, where would she flee?
Granada was a city of countless dwellings and strangers who would never offer sanctuary to a Spanish noblewoman. The free women here were as shrouded as she was, with only their eyes uncovered. However, if she could secure one of the dark robes sold in the market and disguise herself as a Moorish woman, there might be a chance to flee. No man would dare break the sanctity of the veil, not even to search for an escaped slave. The Moors’ religion forbade it.
The robes were tantalizingly close, though still out of reach.
The slaver’s voice rose again. He spat on the dinars the eunuch had offered. The eunuch’s palm looked as soft as a woman’s, his dark face bearing no trace of a beard. Clearly impatient, he gestured to Isabella’s robe. The slaver yanked the hood off her head. She gasped.
A flurry of excited murmurs rippled through the crowd. The eunuch stared openly at her elaborately braided hair, apparently stunned at its unusual auburn color. The slaver gestured to her robe, his words seeming to imply how the Moors had prepared her body for sale. The eunuch focused on her eyes, the same blue-green as Queen Isabella’s, a color well known within Spain’s Royal House of Trastámara.
The slaver’s broad smile revealed most of his decayed teeth. When he spoke again, the eunuch grew thoughtful.
On a shuddering breath, Isabella searched the market for any means of escape and found none. Too many people pressed close with no clear route from the area. If only she could see what was behind her, she might find a way out.
A quick glance showed even more people and cramped stalls, proving how trapped she was. The eunuch’s high-pitched shout suddenly rose above the slaver’s angry growl. Wanting away from them, she inched back. The eunuch dashed to her right, blocking her. The slaver to her left and reached for her robe.
Piercing wails filled the heated air.
Isabella stiffened. The slaver’s hand fell from her. He and the eunuch turned toward the sounds. Two dark-robed women pressed their hands to their veiled mouths. Children had stopped playing, their youthful eyes widened in wonder or fear at an aged man. His white beard trailed down his chest, and infirmity bent his tall frame, forcing him to keep his face lowered. He wore a turban and full robe, the voluminous fabric hiding the contours of his body.
Suddenly, he thrust his hand into a fire used to cook some manner of food.
Many in the crowd gasped. A young girl backed into a basket of olives, toppling it. The fruit rolled across the ground until it reached a pool of spilled honey where a black cat prowled.
The aged man kept his hand in the fire without bellowing in pain. He chose three smoking coals, tossing the hot embers from his right hand to his left much as jugglers did at fairs with brightly colored balls.
This was no fair nor was he a juggler, but a fakir, a holy man.
Isabella had heard tales of such beings who traveled the Arab territories. Fakirs had no homes or commerce, begging for food as they roamed from place to place, performing amazing feats to shock everyone, as he did now. Merchants, free women, and children waited to see what the strange man would do next.
With no one watching her, Isabella prepared to break into a run, to lose herself in the throng.
The fakir tilted his face and met her gaze.
Her heart caught. His eyes were arresting and strangely beautiful, his gaze so intent she stepped back. His expression changed. With a hard frown, he seemed to warn her to remain where she was. He turned to the eunuch and slaver, crying to them in Arabic, his voice reedy with age.
Her stomach churned. Was he warning them of her intent to flee?
When he looked back at her, raw power lit his expression, holding her to the spot.
Even if she’d wanted to move, she couldn’t now. The eunuch and slaver stared at her.
The air grew heavier than before and far too still. The slaver adjusted his weight from foot to foot as he and the eunuch spoke to the fakir. The holy man answered in kind, juggling the hot coals. He drew closer to them, his movements inefficient and tottering, no different from a babe. The slaver stepped back. The eunuch did not. His shrill voice rose in what sounded like an oath. The fakir hobbled closer, the hot coals jumping more slowly between his hands. At last he responded, his voice low.
The eunuch scowled and shouted a string of foul-sounding words. The fakir grabbed the eunuch’s throat, pressing the hot coals to it. Squealing in agony, the eunuch fell to the ground, rocking and mewling.
Frightened sounds rippled through the crowd. The holy man spoke to the spectators, who exchanged glances with each other and shuffled back.
The fakir grabbed more hot coals from another fire and staggered toward the slaver. Unlike the eunuch, the slaver offered no retort as he stepped back quickly. The fakir followed. It was a strange dance, the fakir plodding forward a step, the slaver retreating the same distance as he focused on the newest coals.
Again, Isabella realized no one noticed her. Before she could think to escape, the fakir was at her side, clutching her hair in his free hand, shouting at the others.
Again, they backed away.
He yanked Isabella toward him and whispered in Castilian, “When I release you, grasp your throat and cry out. Your freedom and life depend upon it. Do you understand?”
Her heart hammered so wildly she could barely breathe, much less think. With no time to consider why he would help her, she nodded.
The fakir shouted something to the others then brought the coals close enough for her to feel their heat. She clutched her throat and wailed.
The slaver spoke hurriedly, his words seeming to beg for mercy.
The fakir lifted the hot coals to his mouth and blew. Flames poured from his parted lips. Screams tore through the crowd with more than a few bolting.
The fakir gripped her wrist, his touch steel.
Again, he lifted the coals to his lips. Flames shot out of his mouth, which he directed to the black silk hanging on a stall. The cloth caught fire. He bolted, pulling her with him.

NEW Release - First Comes Desire
Book One - Pirate's Prize

February 7 - available for preorder



A hunted pirate captain. A reverend's daughter determined to take him down.

On a lush, secluded island, one passionate adventure leads to another….

Diana Fletcher means business. The beautiful, innocent, reverend’s daughter has traveled all the way to a tropical island off Madagascar on a mission: To find her brother—and to punish the man who drove him to a life of piracy. But when she comes face to face with the enemy in question, the handsome, powerfully seductive man is not at all what Diana expected…

Tristan Kent never intended to harm Diana’s brother. A man of humble origins, Tristan claims he tried to save him from another ruthless captain. Diana is desperate to believe he is telling the truth…and that the intoxicating desire that escalates between them is true as well. But can she trust him? Or is Tristan’s story—and his heart—nothing more than fool’s gold? Amid the haze of sensual delights and soaring ecstasy Tristan has in store for her, all will be revealed…


Women hadn’t been born to yield. Women could yield. They might even enjoy doing so, but only with the right man. One they desired. First came desire. Respect and love followed.

She could only deliver her heart to a man like that.

Even if Tristan wasn’t facing the gallows, he wasn’t the one she needed. His skin was warm against hers but what of it. He was handsome as the devil, yet there was the rub, because he was also brutal, violent, taking what he wanted. His mouth on hers was something she refused to consider, though she could hardly forget how he’d spoken calmly when she’d railed. She insulted and he smiled. He claimed she wanted the same as him. Diana did not. She wanted to be home. She needed to be free.

Her eyes flew open. A sound or voice had awakened her. Reclined on her side, she faced away from the door. An oil lamp had gone out, telling her she’d slept far too long, recklessly too.

Oh my God. Peter.

Diana rolled onto her back but didn’t check his mattress, knowing he wasn’t there or in the cabin.

Tristan was. His long legs, muscular calves, and thighs blocked her view of the door. He’d placed his precious book on the table. The volume was safe. She was not.

Before she could push to a sitting position or think to fight, he straddled her, his hands circling her wrists, holding her arms to each side. His touch didn’t harm, at least not yet.

Her heart pounded.

He offered a smile.

How dare he be so smug. “Release me at once.”

He tightened his grip slightly and studied her mouth, then her eyes. “Violet.” Awe flooded his face. “I wondered about your eye color but never expected this.”

She pushed and writhed but did no good against his strength. Breathless, she stopped. “What have you done with Peter?”

Tristan stared at her eyes. “Amazing color, quite beautiful. Fits your dark hair and pale skin perfectly.”

She rammed her thighs into him.

He held her more firmly. “Stop that.”

“Not until you tell me what you’ve done with my brother.” She slammed into him.

He scooted down and trapped her legs. “Peter’s on the main deck with the other men.”

“He’s a child and proved it by helping you escape.”

“This wasn’t his doing, and you’ve no reason to fear for his safety. I have James, my quartermaster, looking after him.”

“A bloody pirate, you mean. The same as you. Perhaps even worse than you.”

“No. James is a good man.” A haunted look touched Tristan’s features before he shook off whatever had troubled him and became casual. “He saved my life. He’ll take great care to watch your brother.”

She wanted to retort but couldn’t reconcile her indignation with Tristan’s previous anguish and the mean scratches she’d left on his cheek. Dried blood had gone black, the surrounding skin swollen and red. “What do you mean he saved your life?”

“Just that, ask no more for I’ll give you no other answer.”

“The only thing I want from you is my freedom.”

He stroked her wrists. “You want the same as me.”

She pushed against him, straining with the effort.

He tightened his grip, proving she wasn’t a match for his strength. If he chose to take her now, she’d have no choice except to allow him what he willed.

She didn’t beg. Wouldn’t. Not to him or any man, including Bishop. They could conquer her body but not her spirit, never her heart. Reconciled to her fate, she grew limp as she could, pulse racing. “Take what you’ve come for and be quick about it.”

“I shan’t be quick, Diana. With you, I’ll never be quick.”

Heat stung her face and throat. “You won’t be the last, either.”

His gray eyes darkened as storm clouds do, danger building in them. “What do you mean?”

“When you’re finished with me, I go to the man to whom I truly belong. Nothing will change that no matter how long you intend to take raping me.”

Despite her harsh words, he didn’t flinch or frown.

“Who is this man with whom you’d willingly lie?”

“Willingly?” She laughed. “You believe I’ve chosen him any more than I’ve chosen you? The fact is you’ve driven me to him.”

“What do you mean? Who is he? Tell me.”

She turned her face away.

Tristan brushed his lips over her cheek and buried his face in her hair.

Her scalp tingled. She could scarcely draw enough air to speak. “I said, be quick about it.”

He took his time, his lips soft and warm against her temple and ear, breath heated and sweet.

She tensed even more, determined to resist.

“Why do you fight me when you want this as much as I do?” He kissed her jaw.

Pleasure rushed through her, delight making her come alive as she never had, the feelings new, troubling, far too exciting. Her lids slid down.

“Tell me who the man is.”

Tristan’s scent surrounded her, surprisingly clean, tinged with musk.

“Tell me, Diana.”


He suckled her neck.

She trembled, an unfamiliar ache building between her legs, tension mounting within her. Flustered, she fought his hold and failed, growing weak from his imposing size. However, she refused to surrender, wanting him to know what he’d done to her. “He’s a wealthy merchant who agreed to help me find Peter if I promised to become his mistress, which I shall.”

“Never.” His breath skipped over her skin. “No one will have you but me.”

She fumed, her previous weakness gone. “You’ll take me. You’ll never have me.”

“Nor will the wealthy merchant. He owns this ship? Is his name Benedict Bishop?”

Tristan kept surprising her, giving her no defense. She pushed against him.

He eased back. “Is that the merchant’s name?”

“Yes. He’s the man to whom I belong.”

“Not any longer.”

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