Keep Calm and Read This! Tara Randel ~ A Heartwarming Christmas

Keep Calm and Read This! Tara Randel ~ A Heartwarming Christmas

I know, I know – it’s not even Halloween yet and here I go with Christmas.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today - Tara Randel!

But this is a 99¢ pre-Christmas goodie set from 15 romance authors. One of the contributors, Tara Randel, stopped by today to share a bit about it.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel!

We have a few more months until holiday mania arrives, but it’s never too early to get excited. Before you know it, it’ll be Thanksgiving. Food, football and Black Friday shopping! Just as quickly, it will be time to string colorful lights outside, decorate the tree and wrap presents for loved ones. I’m one not one of those who wishes to celebrate Christmas year round. I love the anticipation, the months of excitement leading up to those special days in December. Then on to New Year’s resolutions.

What are the things I look forward to during the holiday season? Making memories tops my list. I love spending time with family, relaxing and reminiscing. Add some good food to the mix and as far as I’m concerned, the holidays are a success.

When my daughters were young, I loved shopping for presents. I actually enjoyed braving the mall and toy stores. There is nothing like the magic of a child tearing into the wrapped gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. When my daughters got older, opening presents was fun, but nowhere near as entertaining as when they still believed in Santa. I’m looking forward to the time when I have grandchildren and the magic returns.

Some folks look forward to the cold weather and hope for a white Christmas. Not me. It doesn’t snow where I live, and I can honestly say I don’t miss the cold, white stuff one little bit. Beautiful winter landscape pictures are enough for me.

In Cooking Up Christmas, Gabi Fortier, general manager of the Blue Spruce Mountain Resort can’t wait to reopen the lodge just in time for Christmas. She has big plans to decorate from top to bottom. But not if Simon Tucker, new head chef, has anything to say about it. At least in the dining room, that is. Or on the menu. The kitchen is his domain, no matter how Gabi tries to convince him otherwise. 

“Look at this.” Henry chuckled as he withdrew a stack of what looked like large Christmas cards. Gabi scooted closer as he handed her the collection.

“They’re old menus,” she said as she sifted through the lot. “From holiday dinners. Going back to…the sixties.”

“Ash’s grandmother loved cooking for the holidays. Her husband indulged her and every year had a grand menu printed up for the guests.”

“This is incredible. What a cool piece of history.” Gabi placed the menus on her lap. Fingered the edge of the one laying on top. So much love had gone into Christmas preparations here. Gabi wouldn’t let it slip away. “I have an idea.”

Simon still didn’t look thrilled. “Why do I know I won’t like it?” 

She stood. “Why not go through the old menus? Pick out a few favorites dishes and add them to the Christmas Eve feast list.”

“I have the menu planned.”

Cringing at his stubborn expression, she said, “Which is probably as far from traditional as you can get.”

“What’s wrong with new?”

“Nothing. But people love to be nostalgic over the holidays.” She spread her hand out over the room. “Just like people love decorations, reminding them of happy years. The joy and wonder of waiting for Santa when you were a kid. Or Christmas as a new parent, seeing it through your kid’s eyes. Everyone remembers something special from a Christmas gone by. So we need to offer them a glimpse of Christmas past.” 

Simon’s scowl grew deeper.

“This isn’t about your cooking skills, Simon. It’s about giving our guests an experience they’ll never forget.”

I hope you enjoy Cooking Up Christmas, one of three stories in Holiday Heroes, part of A Heartwarming Holiday, 15 connected sweet holiday stories. Find out just how Gabi and Simon wage their battle of wills over Christmas tradition. Pre-order now to make sure you have a copy just in time for the holidays. I can see a warm fire and a cup of hot cocoa calling your name!

This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually.

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds. Guest author today ~ Tara Randel ~ with Cooking Up Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grab your copy today!

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Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

 

 

 

 

Guest author Tara Randel visits Obstinate Headstrong Girl author Renée Reynolds

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books.

 

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Shanna Hatfield ~ The Christmas Vow

Keep Calm and Read This! Guest Post by Shanna Hatfield ~ The Christmas Vow

2015-Cowboy-Christmas-Blog-Tour

Welcome to the 2nd annual

Cowboys and Christmas

Blog Tour!

Raising funds and awareness for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Ring in the Holidays with a Helping Hand

JCCF logoNovember 1 through Dec. 24, 10 percent of the net proceeds from all Shanna Hatfield book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period. Every book purchased during this promotional period adds to the donation total. Don’t forget to add books to your Christmas lists!

 An Interview with Three Cowboys

Today, Shanna Hatfield brings together the heroes from her sweet contemporary Rodeo Romance series.

Tate Morgan is a saddle bronc rider out to claim a championship title and the girl he loves in The Christmas Cowboy, the first book in the series. Wrestlin’ Christmas, the second installment, shares Cort McGraw’s story as a sidelined steer wrestler who falls for a widow down on her luck. In Capturing Christmas, Kash Kressley is a rodeo stock contractor who barely has time to sleep. Then he rescues a feisty rodeo photographer at a rodeo and life will never be the same.

Welcome. Tell us a little about you.

 
Tate: I live on the ranch that my grandfather started back in the early 1900s. We’re about thirty miles from Kennewick, Washington, where we primarily raise beef cattle, wheat, and hay.
Cort: I used to live near Boise, Idaho, until my sister shanghaied me and dumped me at Tate’s door. Now, I live on a ranch about fifteen minutes away from the Morgan place with my wife and son.

 
Kash: My family recently moved from Arizona to Twin Falls, Idaho, so we could expand our rodeo stock business. I don’t spend much time there, since I’m on the road most of the time, heading to the next rodeo.

 

Tells us about your involvement in the rodeo?

 
Cort: A year ago in April, I did a number on my knee when I jumped off my horse to wrestle a steer at a rodeo. I knew the moment I hit the ground I wasn’t walking out of the arena. The doctors all assured me I either stop competing or cripple myself for life. Since I like the ability to walk, I’m now happy to be a rancher.

 
Tate: It wasn’t the end of the world, man. After all, your injury is what led you to your lovely wife. As for me, I competed as a saddle bronc rider until I fell in love with a beautiful girl. Technically, I competed one year after that, and finished my career as a world champion. (Tate looks to Kash) In fact, I think it was on one of your horses.

 
Kash: Yeah, it was. You put in a great ride that night. I’m the behind the scenes guy who brings broncs, bulls and roping steers to the rodeos. My grandfather started the rodeo stock business back in the 1950s. There isn’t a single thing I’d rather be doing.

 
Cort: (Snorts) Except making calf eyes at my sister.

 

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

 

Kash: It’s three bachelors at our house. We don’t do much of anything, except warm up the turkey dinner our housekeeper leaves in the freezer for us before she heads off to spend the holidays with her daughter.

 
Tate: (Shakes his head.) That is just pathetic, man. You have to at least string lights or something this year.

 
Cort: Watch out or the Christmas cowboy will drive all the way to your house to spread his special brand of Christmas cheer. As for me, my favorite holiday tradition is eating. (Chuckles and rubs a hand over his flat stomach.) I do enjoy all the treats that seem to accompany the holiday season, but I think Christmas Eve is my favorite part of the holiday. My family goes to church, then we sit around a crackling fire and visit before my Dad reads to us. It’s just a nice time to connect and unwind with the people I care about most. And my beautiful wife and I will celebrate our first anniversary that evening.
Tate: It’s the time spent connecting with those we love that make the holiday special – and the treats. I never turn down a good holiday cookie.

 
Cort: Or cake, or pie. Or…

(Tate slugs his arm)

 

Can you tell us a little about the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund?

 
Tate: It’s an amazing organization that steps in to help injured rodeo athletes when they’ll be out of work for while and are facing financial hardship.

 
Cort: Both of us were fortunate not to require assistance, but the JCCF is a lifesaver for some rodeo families.

 
Kash: I see cowboys injured all the time. JCCF really is a blessing for the athletes who face a long recovery time.

 

Thank you for joining us. Any parting words for our readers?

 
Tate: If you enjoy, sweet western romances, I hope you’ll consider reading our stories in The Christmas Cowboy, Wrestlin Christmas, and Capturing Christmas.

Here’s an excerpt from The Christmas Cowboy
“Dewdrop, I didn’t think you’d be able to make it.” He took her hand in his and squeezed her fingers. The warmth in her eyes as she gazed at him made his heartbeat kick into overdrive. Maybe she cared about him more than she wanted to admit.

The jubilant smile on his face made her glad she raced through her presentation, ran through the hotel as if the building was aflame, and pleaded with the taxi driver to put some hustle in it so she’d arrive at the rodeo on time.

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From Wrestlin’ Christmas
Tall and brawny, Cort McGraw happened to be one of the most handsome men she’d ever seen. From his silvery-gray eyes rimmed with black eyelashes to the dimple in his all-too-attractive chin, she wished Kenzie had given her some warning. If she’d known what he looked like, that he was so young, rugged, and hunky, she would have told Tate not to bother sending Cort to her place.

Mercy, he smelled good, too. Even now, his manly, musky fragrance filled her senses. Annoyed with herself for savoring his heady scent, she brushed at her nose, hoping to chase away the lingering aroma of his aftershave. 

Capturing Christmas 1

 
And from Capturing Christmas
Kash Kressley was a fine male specimen in his cowboy gear, but dressed in a black tuxedo, he looked like he belonged on a movie screen. The simple lines of the tux outlined his broad shoulders and chest while highlighting the length of his legs. Without a hat on his head, she took in his thick brown hair, cut short with a tousle of finger-tempting waves on top.

His scent infiltrated her senses, scattering her thoughts in the direction of crisp mountain air, soft snowfall, and a winter fire. There wasn’t a man alive she found half as handsome and appealing as Kash Kressley.

~*~

New Releases

To kick off the second annual Cowboys and Christmas Blog Tour and the JCCF campaign,
two brand new holiday romances will release Nov. 12!

 

Capturing Christmas Cover Capturing Christmas is the third installment in the sweet holiday western Rodeo Romance series.

Life is hectic on a good day for rodeo stock contractor Kash Kressley. Between dodging flying hooves and babying cranky bulls, he barely has time to sleep. The last thing Kash needs is the entanglement of a sweet romance, especially with a woman as full of fire and sass as the redheaded photographer he rescues at a rodeo.

Determined to capture the best images possible, rodeo photographer Celia McGraw is fearless and feisty. Not one to back down from a challenge, her biggest risk isn’t in her work. Danger lurks in the way her heart responds to one incredibly handsome stock contractor. Will Kash and Celia capture the spirit of the season?
Pre-order your copy today! http://amzn.to/1FC8ZQj

Rodeo-Romance-Block-for-web
Get all three books in the Rodeo Romance series!

 

The Christmas Vow CoverThe Christmas Vow is the fourth book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series.

Columbia River Pilot Adam Guthry returns to his hometown of Hardman, Oregon, after the sudden death of his best friend. Emotions he can’t contain bubble to the surface the moment he sees the girl who shattered his heart eleven years ago.

Widow Tia Devereux escapes her restrictive life in Portland, returning to the home she knew and adored as a girl in Hardman. She and her four-year-old son, Toby, settle into the small Eastern Oregon community, eager for the holiday season. Unfortunately, the only man she’s ever loved shows up, stirring the embers of a long-dead romance into a blazing flame. When her former father-in-law, a corrupt judge, decides he wants to raise Toby, Adam may be the only hope she has of keeping her son.
You can pre-order your copy today for only $2.99! http://amzn.to/1KQHhvI

Hardman-Holidays-block for web
Don’t miss out on the Hardman Holidays series!

 

Guest Author Sign

You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party, Thursday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more (many of the giveaways will stay open until the following morning)!

Here’s the link to the party: http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty2
 

The talented guest authors joining in the celebration include: 
10 a.m. – Carmen Peone 
10:30 – Kayla Dawn Thomas 
12:30 – Rachel Rossano 
1 p.m. – Author Kristin Holt 
1:30 – Dani Harper
Grand Prize Photo

Enter to Win Prizes!

To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, Wrangler Tote Bag, Rock & Roll Cowgirl T-shirt, autographed books, chocolates, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. Winners will be randomly drawn and announced Nov. 16. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes2

Where to Find The Books

The Christmas Cowboy Cover
Start the Rodeo Romance Series with The Christmas Cowboy.
 
christmas bargain cover
Travel back to a time of grandeur in the old west
with the Hardman Holidays series.
The Christmas Bargain begins the popular series
and is available free for a very limited time!

 

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 2Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen, one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with characters that seem incredibly real.
When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.
This USA Today bestselling author is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, and Pioneer Hearts.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

 

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter
Make sure you sign up for her newsletter to get the latest on new releases and exclusive giveaways!

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Keep Calm and Read This! Milou Koenings ~ Sweet Christmas Kisses 2

Keep Calm and Read This! Milou Koenings ~ Sweet Christmas Kisses 2

I want to welcome author Milou Koenings to the blog today as she lets us know about her new release, Sweet Christmas Kisses 2, and gives us a peek between the covers….

There is such a trend now for boxed sets of books, and why not? They are a great value for readers, but what I also love about them as an author is that they’re the result of teamwork, of authors coming together in a joint project. Not only is it fun, it’s such a great experience to work with talented writers and to learn from them.

I’m fortunate to be a Sweet Romance Reads author. Sweet Romance Reads is a group of authors who like to write clean, flinch-free, sweet romance. We have a joint blog, where we take turns blogging – we each have our day, once a month – and help each other out in various ways. With the holidays coming up, pulling together seems even more appropriate than usual. We got in the spirit early this year and our boxed set, Sweet Christmas Kisses 2, launched last week on September 29!

Our boxed set includes 19 heartwarming and wholesome novellas from New York Times, USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.

Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 takes you from the Smoky Mountains to Florida’s sun-drenched beaches; from the Italian Alps to Paris, France; the Midwest to a quirky little town in Arizona. With a foreword by New York Times bestselling author, RaeAnne Thayne, our Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 bundle features all-new, stand-alone stories that are sure to make you laugh and sometimes bring tears to your eyes, but always put you in the Christmas spirit.

I really enjoyed writing my novella for this project, Sweet Blizzard. I was writing it this summer during one of the worst heat waves we’ve had, so imagining a blizzard, and my grandmother’s holiday spice cookies, helped me keep my cool! Plus, the story is set in Green Pines, the fictional Illinois small town that is the setting of my novel Reclaiming Home. Even though the place exists only in my imagination, I always love to revisit it!

This is actually Sweet Romance Reads’ third joint project. As you probably guessed from our title, yes, there’s a Sweet Christmas Kisses 1, which was published last year. We also have a cookbook, Recipes of Love, which is a collection of menus and recipes for romantic dinners for two.

It’s been a privilege to get to work with a wonderful group of women on a project like this and I hope our readers will be as excited about it as we are!

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From Sweet Blizzard:

Trey left the sky and glanced at her, shocked to discover she was almost leaning over him. Her eyes were wide in surprise, shock, anxiety – he couldn’t tell. All he knew was that he was caught in her stare and couldn’t look away. He was lost in those gold-flecked, chocolate eyes, that dark hair sparkling with snow. He felt an irresistible urge to pull her head down to his to kiss her, when it hit him what he had done. Here he was, lying next to the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, and he’d had to blurt out to her that he was a convicted felon. Smooth. Not to mention that knowing she was completely isolated with an ex-con was sure to make her feel just great. He rolled away from her and jumped up, angry to discover he was weak in the knees.

Included in Sweet Christmas Kisses 2:

Christmas Papa by Mona Risk. With twin toddlers to care for, she can’t forget her past until a playboy’s kisses challenge her to believe in herself.

Gingerbread Kisses by Beate Boeker. A cookie specialist finds sweet romance in the snowy Alps of Italy.

Boycotting Christmas by Melinda Curtis. A bachelor seeks Christmas magic from a woman who’s boycotting Christmas.

A Christmas to Remember by Denise Devine. Stranded together in a blizzard, Katie and Ryan discover the true meaning of Christmas.

An Angel for Christmas by Raine English. A down-on-her-luck single mom finds love at Christmas.

The Cowboy’s Christmas Bride by Aileen Fish. A snowstorm and a cow in distress bring a rancher and a veterinary student together for the holidays.

Lucky Break Christmas: Second Honeymoon by Patricia Forsythe. Christmas is the perfect time to try and make a failed honeymoon go right.

Beach Walk by Grace Greene. An oceanfront cottage. Kelli lives there; Dylan wants to. Will Christmas give them a do-over at finding happiness?

An Irish Christmas Blessing by Roxanne Rustand. Eve goes to Ireland to run a quaint village bookshop and meets a stranger who just might steal her heart.

Christmas Wedding by Magdalena Scott. Second chance love, and a designer dress, in a Christmas card setting.

Finding You at Christmas by Kristin Wallace. She’s going to find her destiny this Christmas.

Christmas Laurel by Christine Bush. Can a female army veteran find healing and love with the magic of Christmas?

Country Christmas by Lois Greiman. Heartbreak turns to happiness in the healing splendor of the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The Christmas Crusade by Shanna Hatfield. Two old flames reunite with a little holiday magic.

The Christmas Charm by Susan R. Hughes. Can childhood friendship blossom into love?

Evergreen Romance by Julie Jarnagin. A couple reunites while working together at a Christmas tree lot.

My Christmas Cupcake by Shaleen Kapil. A last minute Christmas Eve errand to the bakery cooks up romance.

A Christmas Spark by Ciara Knight. An abandoned cabin becomes a healing home for the holidays.

Sweet Blizzard by Milou Koenings. He saves her life, she could make or break his; will the gift of love come in time for Christmas?

Grab your copy at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Google
Kobo

Please visit author Milou Koenings at:

Website
Amazon Author Page
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

And the entire Sweet Romance Reads author group at:

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Keep Calm and Read This! Jeanna Ellsworth ~ To Refine Like Silver

Keep Calm and Read This! Jeanna Ellsworth ~ To Refine Like Silver

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 11

Jeanna Ellsworth is giving us all a gift this weekend, and it is the best of all gifts – a terrific book! To Refine Like Silver is a Pride and Prejudice variation story where many familiar – and all my favorite – characters appear in new situations but remain faithful and true to the originals we know so well. The story may be new, but I recognize everyone.

to refile like silver cover art

This variation takes us deeper into the qualities and traits of the main characters from the original story. It is a romantic and spiritual journey – but don’t dismiss this as a simple work of Inspirational fiction. It is a work of steadfast and sincere faith, of learning what it means to rely on others, and on God. It is about relationships rather than religion.

The author states:

To Refine Like Silver uses gratitude and forgiveness as key principles for overcoming our trials. It definitely is a love story that grows in the midst of great testing, creating a spiritual journey for Darcy and Elizabeth.

If Mr. Darcy had met Elizabeth Bennet in his beloved Derbyshire, would he have recognized her as the love of his life instead of dismissing her as someone “not handsome enough to tempt” him? This alteration of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice adds a little spirit, flirtation, and charm to everyone’s favorite characters.

Early in the summer of 1811, Elizabeth Bennet travels to Derbyshire to help her aunt and uncle settle in as new owners of Saphrinbrooke. Elizabeth is soon introduced to the estate’s nearest neighbors: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and his sister, Georgiana, who is suffering the results of a fateful trip to Ramsgate. Having endured several life tragedies herself, Elizabeth reaches out to the young lady of Pemberley. Under her radiant influence, both Darcy and Georgiana begin to look for help outside of themselves.

To grab your free book, click HERE. You can also click on the first book image below. Jeanna also has two other lovely Pride and Prejudice variations available for purchase.

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Keep Calm and Read This! Tara Randel ~ A Heartwarming Christmas

I shop for Christmas all year long, constantly on the prowl for deals and the unique, so when approached about spotlighting this new boxed set of Christmas-themed stories, I heartily opened up the blog. This lovely set of twelve holiday romances is available for pre-order now, and it’s only 99 pennies. Merry Christmas in August! One of the participating authors, Tara Randel, visits today to introduce A Heartwarming Christmas.

There are four connected anthologies in A Heartwarming Christmas, 12 novellas sharing characters and story lines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances is set in Christmas Town, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually. A Heartwarming Christmas will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-after.

Foreword by small town lover and New York Times bestseller Kristan Higgins.

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The Boxed Collection

Today’s readers have so many books at their fingertips, whether you enjoy holding a print book in your hands or love the convenience of storing your library on an e-reader. Books can arrive on your e-reader so quickly, you wonder why you ever left the house to pick up a new book by your favorite author. Or, if you’re like me, I enjoy walking into a store and browsing through the rows of books, soaking in the atmosphere while enjoying the scent of brewing coffee.

As an author trying to keep up with the industry, one of the trends I’ve noticed are book collections. A reader can purchase a collection by a single author, perhaps part of a series, so all the books are together in one package. Then there are the collections by multiple authors, usually with a theme of some sort. These are a great deal and a way to find new authors. I’m a contributor in a new Christmas collection, which I’ll get to in a moment, but my point is, the options for readers are limitless.

Now, some back story about the new collection.

Last year at the RWA conference, I was fortunate to meet fellow authors from the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Heartwarming books are sweet romance stories, a growing genre under the romance umbrella. Not only did I get to socialize with these women, I established new friendships. When you spend so much time alone at the keyboard, it’s such a pleasure to have a network of woman to turn to during the writing process. And we do, by keeping up with each through email loops, joining each other through social media for release parties or announcements of new releases.

While catching up at dinner was a lot of fun, we also get together for the business of writing. Some of the authors gathered for the Harlequin Spotlight on the Heartwarming line. We talked about the line with other interested authors and encouraged those who wanted to write for the line. Afterward, some of us meet to discuss the Heartwarming Authors blog, talking about ways to make it better. When you hear authors talk about the bond between writers, the openness to work together and help each other, it’s all true. I experienced it firsthand. Before I knew it, the weekend had come to an end and I flew home, energized and ready to get started on new projects.

Fast forward about six months. Harlequin had released a Christmas anthology the previous fall for the Heartwarming line, titled Christmas Actually. The three authors enjoyed Christmas Town, Maine so much, they wanted to revisit the charming town with fellow authors. And so, A Heartwarming Christmas collection came to be. What an honor to work with such talented authors. And who doesn’t love a Christmas story?

This is an exciting time to be a writer. The opportunities are out there if you’re willing to work at your craft and write, write, write. If it’s in your heart to be an author, pursue your dream. If you’re as lucky as me, you’ll get to work with some lovely ladies who all have one thing in common, giving our readers a heartwarming romance they’ll remember long after closing the pages of our books.

AHWC_TaraRandel

Pre-order your copy today from one of these online vendors:

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download on ibooks

get it on google play

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author ballerina script

 

 

 

tararandel
Tara Randel is the author of nine books, her most recent releases, Honeysuckle Bride and Magnolia Bride available from Harlequin Heartwarming. She is currently working on new books for the Business of Weddings series for Heartwarming, as well as a new mystery series. You can view her booklist at her website, www.tararandel.com, or just stop by, pay a visit and leave a message.

 

Keep Calm and Read This! Jude Knight ~ A Baron for Becky

It’s my pleasure to welcome Jude Knight, author of Candle’s Christmas Chair and Farewell to Kindness. She’s also one of the fabulous Bluestocking Belles. I’ve asked Jude to give us some insight into the history behind her new release, A Baron for Becky. She sent along an informative peek into the role of women during the Regency, and has a gift for one lucky commenter!

A Rake's Progress, William Hogarth

A Rake’s Progress, William Hogarth

Sex and the City

Life in the real Regency wasn’t all Almack’s, balls, and house parties. Even in the households of the rich and titled, a woman’s comfort and happiness depended very much on the character of whatever man headed her household—father, brother, husband. And a highly structured society where women were expected to be chaste and modest, and men to have broad experience, meant an ever-present potential for disaster.

In the lesser ranks of society, a woman might be valued for her skills, her personality, her knowledge, or whatever underpinned the economic contribution she could make to her family. A slip from chastity could be forgiven. Even a child out of wedlock was not necessarily an irretrievable disaster. An extra pair of hands was, after all, an extra pair of hands.

For ladies of the gentry, any smudge on the character threatened the wellbeing of the family. Ladies were decorative rather than useful; educated for little beyond amusing themselves and running a household. Their economic value lay in the family connections created through their marriage, in the children, or more particularly the sons, they would bring into the world.

English landowners practiced primogeniture, a form of inheritance designed to keep an estate unified. Primogeniture meant that lands, titles, and rights were passed intact to the deceased lord’s eldest son. If the right to rule will be passed from father to son, then a family has a great deal invested in making sure that a wife sleeps with no one but, and certainly no one before, her husband. Virginity became a necessary precondition for a good marriage.

Assuring a potential husband of the virginity of a particular maiden meant—as we who read historical romances set in those times know—setting all kinds of restrictions around young ladies. It wasn’t enough to be a virgin; a marriageable girl of gentry class must never be in circumstances that allowed gossips to speculate about what she might, or might not, have done. Reputation was everything. The loss of reputation was the end of a girl’s (and her families) hope of a ‘good’ marriage.

Our romances offer many paths to those who fall from grace. Her family might rally round to prove our heroine’s innocence. An angry father or brother might force a marriage which becomes a love affair, or the other party to the offence might volunteer. Exile to the country might lead to her true virtue being discovered by a neighbour, or she might be pursued by her seducer who has finally realised that he truly loves her.

In some books, the heroine becomes one of the tens of thousands of women earning her living from the sex trade in Georgian London. Generally a mistress of a man or a succession of men. More rarely, a prostitute in a brothel or in the streets.

That’s the premise for my character, Becky. In the novel, we meet her nine or ten years after her father threw her out. Just think of it. A gently-born girl, raised with few skills beyond flower arranging and embroidery, always treated with courtesy and respect, taught nothing about her own sexuality, suddenly cast into the streets to make her own way. What must that have been like?

In historical romance, our heroines survive the horror and the abuse (or, in some books, manage to bypass it all together) to eventually find the mandatory happy-ever-after. In real life, few were so fortunate. An early death was more likely: from sexually transmitted diseases, complications of pregnancy or abortion, drink and drugs taken to dull the senses, or all of these together.

A Baron for Becky has a happy ending, though not (I hope) an entirely predictable one. In the end, I found myself writing about marriage rather than prostitution. Becky has had a hard life, and it has left scars. Her happy ending does not come easily. But then, that’s life.

About the Book ballerina script

She was a fallen woman when she met them. How can they help her fall on her feet?

Becky is the envy of the courtesans of the demi-monde – the indulged mistress of the wealthy and charismatic Marquis of Aldridge. But she dreams of a normal life; one in which her daughter can have a future that does not depend on beauty, sex, and the whims of a man.

Finding herself with child, she hesitates to tell Aldridge. Will he cast her off, send her away, or keep her and condemn another child to this uncertain shadow world?

The devil-may-care face Hugh shows to the world hides a desperate sorrow; a sorrow he tries to drown with drink and riotous living. His years at war haunt him, but even more, he doesn’t want to think about the illness that robbed him of the ability to father a son. When he dies, his barony will die with him. His title will fall into abeyance, and his estate will be scooped up by the Crown.

When Aldridge surprises them both with a daring proposition, they do not expect love to be part of the bargain.

A Baron for Becky is rated R for implied sexual content, 2 out of 5 flames.

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Aldridge was early. She crossed to the sideboard where she kept his favourite brandy, and was pouring him a glass by the time she heard his steps in the hall. Two sets of steps? Who did Aldridge have with him?

The other man was as tall as Aldridge, but dark to his fair. He must once have been stunningly handsome, and one side of his face was still carved by a master; subtle curves and strong planes combining in a harmonious whole that spoke of strength and, in the almost invisible network of lines at the corners of his eyes, suffering.

On the other side, dozens of scars pitted and ridged the skin, as if it had been torn and chewed by an animal; an animal with jaws of flame by the tell-tale burn puckers. Thankfully, whatever it was had spared his eye, which, she suddenly realised, was glaring at her.

“Well,” he demanded, and she was shaken anew by his voice, rich and mellow. She had been staring. How rude. But for some reason, she didn’t apologise as she should, but instead blurted, “I was just feeling glad that what injured you spared your eye.”

He looked startled, and suddenly a lot friendlier. “Thank you. I am glad too.”

That voice! That voice! He could read a linen inventory and she would listen for hours.

“An unusual approach to an introduction,” Aldridge observed. Becky collected herself and smiled at her protector. “No one is more important than the man who keeps you,” a mentor had once told her. “When he is present, you notice no one else except as it reflects well on him.”

And Becky had never before had her attention so focused on a guest that she had been unaware of presenting her cheek to Aldridge for his kiss, giving him the expected squeal in return for his squeeze, and returning the kiss.

“An introduction would be polite, Aldridge,” she said.

“My dear, you have heard me speak of my friend, Baron Overton.”

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About the Author ballerina script

 

 

 

Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Jude KnightJude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

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The Giveaway ballerina script

 

 

 

Jude will give an ARC copy of A Baron for Becky to a commenter chosen at random from those who comment by 25 July. Don’t forget to leave your contact information when you comment below! ↓↓↓

Keep Calm and Read This! Fabiola Francisco ~ Sweet on Wilde

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Eight months ago, I made a deal with my best friend. This wasn’t your typical pact. No, we had to take a different route. The deal was that if we were still single by fall, we would join online dating. Yes…now I am that girl. Just me, though, because she met a guy and saved herself from the awkwardness of dating people you meet via the Internet.

Cheesy pick up lines.
Inappropriate messages.
Disaster dates.

I don’t want to be “Savannah, profile 8713,” but a pinky promise is a promise you keep. What I wasn’t counting on was meeting a guy at the local bar.

So what happens when you decide to open yourself up to new opportunities? You might just cross paths with someone who makes you believe in love. Parker Wilde brought out the best in me and understood the worst, but when an amazing opportunity presents itself and our lives take different directions, is being sweet on Wilde enough for us?

Sweet on Wilde

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The music blasting from the speakers draws me, and I move my body to the beat as I sit by the bar facing the dance floor. Although Southern is a more laid back bar, it has a small area designated for the patrons that want to dance without feeling like they’re disrupting the flow of the service.

“Let’s go dance.” Parker is eyeing me mischievously, obviously enjoying as I move to the music. The stress he came in with has now totally eased out of his body. He is back to his relaxed, confident self.

“It’s okay. I’m fine here, not much of a dancer,” I lie because the thought of dancing with him throws me off.

“Really? You haven’t stopped moving. Come on,” he reaches his hand out to me. Taking a moment to watch him as he stands before me with his hand out, I can appreciate how good-looking he is. I take his hand and let him lead me towards the small crowd dancing in the center of the venue.

“Sweet Home Alabama” begins to come through the speakers, and as soon as everyone hears the familiar introduction, they get in position, ready to dance the steps taught to us from a young age. In perfect unison, we all begin the line dance, looking like something out of Footloose. As I’m turning with the beat, I notice Parker beside me, following along without missing a step. I look down at his feet, and smile, shaking my head.

Two more songs come on, each with its own line dance to accompany the music, and we all dance. The next song that comes on is a slower one, so I head back to the bar in need of a cold beer to cool down. Line dancing always gets me excited but it can be tiring. Before I make it out of the crowd, an arm jerks me back and turns me. I’m facing Parker, his smile causing my heart rate to speed out of control. “One more,” he says, beginning the two-step to Billy Currington’s lyrics. Leading me around the dance floor, Parker is confident, his grip on me firm as we move through the other people dancing.

“You know, for someone who mocks my boots, yours look quite worn and broken in.”

He chuckles, his grip tightening around my waist. “I may not be from Tuscaloosa, but I am a southern boy, Savannah.” His drawl heavier, making his point.

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Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from Miami, FL. She has always enjoyed writing. When she was young she began writing creatively. It was always a therapeutic way for her to express herself. She began with poetry, and throughout the years went expanding to short narratives until she finally decided to write a novel.

Her love for books has inspired her to write her own stories. Her books range from emotional to lighthearted humor. She is a firm believer in happily ever afters and the sometimes jagged path to achieving it. She hopes to continue writing more stories to reach readers individually.

When she’s not writing, Fabiola loves expressing herself through art and being out in nature. She loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

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