That time I didn’t win Mom of the Year

Sometime you just have to laugh.

Ever have one of those brain cramp/senior moments? You know what I’m talking about, right? Now think about those in terms of Mom moments. Here’s one for youIMG_9869—It was kind of a silly sad incident, but it’s also provided a lot of laughter over the years.

One morning in all the rush to get everyone to work or school on time, I breezed into the kitchen to help manage the chaos. Every day we packed a lunch for my son, who happened to be the World’s Pickiest Eater. This kid ate peanut butter and jelly, or honey, every day of his life for YEARS. Even when we went out to eat, which was often, we’d pack a sandwich and take a little bag with us.

Anyway, on this particular morning, I saw the day’s sandwich sitting on the counter, so I grabbed a plastic bag, shoved the sandwich inside and completed the lunch bag with a juice box and whatever else went in that day. Done. Move along. Chop, chop.

Well, later that day…my son opens the bag at lunchtime only to discover his “sandwich” is actually two slices of bread. No peanut butter. No jelly or honey. You can imagine his surprise! Yum!

In my defense, it looked like a sandwich! This little incident, while trivial, has become an example of my (not too many) failures in the Mom department. He survived. And I can handle being laughed at a little. We’re not perfect. Things happen. And it’s little shared memories like this that bond us and keep us real. 🙂

Is there a little incident that kept you from winning Mom Of The Year? Happy MD

Enjoy the day!

Darlene

Petals, posies and blooms, oh my!

Happy May Day! It’s been a gorgeous (but slightly cool) spring. The flowering trees have been stunning, and the perennials are bursting with color. And all I can say is Yay, Spring! It’s such a relief when the cold is behind us and we can get outside again. My husband and I took our first walk of the season the other day. It’s fun to get out see people and peek at everyone else’s yards. There’s something about the warmer temps and sunny skies that just makes me feel better! Hope you are enjoying the blossoming of spring. Here are a few snapshots that capture the color and mood!

Might be a great day for a book and a glass of iced tea on the patio!

Darlene

Book birthday: scoring a second chance

Today, please welcome authors Liz Crowe and Desiree Holt! These two romance authors have teamed up for a joint project that is hot off the press. Take a peek at Numbers Game!

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Former pro football player and coach Duncan “Hatch” Hatcher fumbled his career and marriage. Now divorced and ready to tackle his future, he has an opportunity to redeem himself as coach of his college alma mater’s football team. But how can he turn the team’s losing streak around and keep the secret of his downfall buried when the school agrees to a documentary that will allow a lovely journalist to dig her way into his past…and into his heart?

Olivia Grant’s ex-husband almost wrecked her journalism career while he definitely did a number on her self-esteem. The documentary on Duncan Hatcher is the perfect way to rebuild both. As a freshman in college, she’d had a crush on the senior football hero, but he hadn’t known she existed. She never expects the sparks that fly between them as they work on the project nor the struggles they must face if they both want to win.

The book, a contemporary romance with a sports theme, is available in a number of retail outlets. Pick up your copy here: UNIVERSAL BUY LINK

Excerpt:

Excerpt:

Hatch winced at the memory of how goofy he must have sounded to the lovely woman he was going to be having a fair bit of contact with this season. Olivia Grant was, without a doubt, beautiful, not to mention sexy as hell. She was a natural reporter, putting him at ease, even in the face of his high-school-ish reaction to her at first. But dear Lord, the crap he’d said? That shit about her being “better than she thought” at the race? And “looking for a foot in the door”? He’d sounded about as slick as the grandpas he’d been named for.

He groaned and pressed his forehead to the leather blotter on his new desk. After his divorce, he’d made a point not to notice women, something that was a bit of a self-imposed penalty. But there was no not noticing Olivia. Her soft, dark blonde hair that kept dropping over one of her deep green eyes as she’d look down at her notes, then back up at him. That smile, and those full, barely lip-sticked lips. And there was no denying she had a body that would be hard to shake out of his brain. Scott had told him she used to play soccer here, a few years behind him as an undergrad. How he’d not known her… Granted, he hadn’t been a big partier then, kept mostly to himself and his close group of friends and, as always, focused on the game.

But damn. He’d missed out on something then, without a doubt. He felt his face flush red and his entire body begin to react in ways that didn’t really serve him well as a fully grown man, with plenty of experience under his belt, so to speak.

Thankfully, she’d left before he could embarrass himself any more.

Home. Shower. Beer. Stare at a string of old movies on the giant television screen. Anything to get the lovely Olivia Grant and all her many attributes out of his head. She was, after all, the media. And everyone knew how he felt about the media.

It was get-a-grip time—on all parts of himself.

This was his chance at redemption. The opportunity was a godsend, considering the sorry state he’d left his life in on the west coast, and he didn’t intend to do anything to screw it up. He couldn’t afford to get distracted by a single thing. But how the hell was he going to do that when Olivia Grant might prove to be the biggest distraction of all?

Introducing Desiree:

USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Desiree Holt writes everything from romantic suspense and contemporary on a variety of heat levels up to erotic, a genre in which she is the oldest living author. She has been referred to by USA Today as the Nora Roberts of erotic romance, and is a winner of the EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice nominee. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times and numerous other national and international publications. 

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

www.facebook.com/desireeholtauthor 

FACEBOOK PROFILE

http://www.facebook.com/desiree01holt 

TWITTER

 @desireeholt

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

www.facebook.com/desireeholtauthor 

FACEBOOK PROFILE

http://www.facebook.com/desiree01holt 

TWITTER

 @desireeholt

Pinterest: desiree02holt

Signup for my newsletter and receive a free book:
https://desireeholt.com/newsletter/

Introducing Liz:

Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville living in Central Illinois. She’s spent her time as a three-continent expat trailing spouse, mom of three, real estate agent, brewery owner and bar manager, and is currently a social media consultant and humane society development director, in addition to being an award-winning author. With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, inside fictional television stations and successful real estate offices, and even in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are compelling and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, at times frustrate, and always linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

TWITTER

http://www.facebook.com/lizcroweauthor

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE

INSTAGRAM

https://www.instagram.com/etlizcrowe/

http://www.lizcrowe.com

WEBSITE

https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r2a2q5

NEWLETTER SIGN UP/FREE BOOK

Happy book birthday to Liz, Desiree and Numbers Game, and happy reading to all of you!

Darlene

A Little Shot; A Very Big Deal!

A year ago today the Covid-19 crisis cut short my spring break trip to see my sister in Dallas. I’m so happy to report that I marked the anniversary of that date by getting my first Covid vaccine!

While inklings of disaster were just beginning this time last year, I stuck to my plan and drove from Kansas City to DSC_1045Dallas. Spent a beautiful day at the Dallas Arboretum, where there was plenty of room to spread out and avoid others. But the next day, we attempted to do some shopping, and everything felt weird. So, after only two days, I packed my bags, turned around, and drove nine hours back home.

By then, the Big 12 basketball tournament and the NCAA tournament—the big dance—had been cancelled. For a KU grad and Jayhawk basketball fan, this was huge. News reports were bad, and things were not looking good.

It was a terrible year. The pandemic messed up milestone birthday celebrations for me, my mom, and my daughter. No book signings or author events. Restaurants shutting down. People out of work. Vacations cancelled. Holidays without family. People dying without loved ones at their side. One of my brothers died in 2020. No family was present, and we were unable to have a memorial service.

It’s heartbreaking that so many people were lost. I’m so grateful for the scientists and medical professionals who worked tirelessly to save lives and bring us an effective vaccine.

It’s such a relief to see light at the end of the tunnel. I was a little apprehensive to get the shot today. I’ve been known to pass out during a blood draw. Turned out it was just a little prick. No big deal. But, actually, it’s a very big IMG_9475deal. It’s a shot of hope. I feel as if I’m getting my life back. Five more weeks—and I’m counting down the days.

All of a sudden my blank calendar is filling up! So far, yesterday and today I’ve made several long overdue appointments— hair cut and color (Yikes! It’s been a full year!), teeth cleaning, and a mammogram. Most exciting of all, I booked flights for an author/reader event in Connecticut in July. That just happens to coincide with a bridal shower for my daughter. Her engagement was the one bright spot in this tedious, awful year. We now have so much to look forward to. Let the fun begin!

Happy spring to all. Hopeful that you, too, are seeing light in the days ahead.

Darlene

Valentine Smooches for You! XOXO

Ahh, the kiss . . . affectionate peck . . . spine-tingling tease . . . soul-scorching lip lock . . . Anyone seen the movie Cinema Paradiso? Remember how the movie man, Alfredo, had to cut out all the kissing scenes from the movies, and then he put them all together on a reel for Salvatore? It’s a great montage of kisses!

Here’s a kiss reel of literary smooches! Enjoy! TSBU kiss

Reed leaned closer, his breath warm on her cheek. She braced herself for a friendly peck, but when her eyes fluttered shut, his lips grazed hers. Hovered there, and when she thought her legs might give out, Reed caught her arm and pulled her slightly toward him, his lips covering hers again.

He threaded one hand into her hair while the other tipped her chin.

Sparks exploded in her brain, and she grabbed hold of his arm. All of her senses came alive and responded to the unexpected deluge.

A long moment later, he pulled back and brushed a thumb across her cheek. “See you in about an hour.”

Kristen couldn’t speak but managed a nod. As soon as the door closed behind him, she collapsed against the sofa and ran a finger along her bottom lip. That kiss…Oh, man. The chances of her getting any writing done this weekend just dropped from unlikely to who-said-anything-about-writing?  The Story Between Us/Sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Story-Between-Us-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B08DCVKMWV/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612996833&s=books&sr=1-1

“This is the proof we need. Oh, Tom. Thank you!” Becky grasped his shoulders and lifted on her toes, aiming for his cheek. 

Instinctively, he turned his head and their lips brushed in a brief kiss. Simmering desire roared into a full-blown bonfire. But she jerked away before he could get his arms around her and draw her into the flames with him.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she stammered. 

“I’m sorry you didn’t mean to as well.”  Tom Sawyer Returns by E.E. Burke https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Sawyer-Returns-New-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08S9RF6TQ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=K39HI2UMGFX8&dchild=1&keywords=ee+burke&qid=1613157930&sprefix=EE+Bur%2Cstripbooks%2C168&sr=8-1

“I…You…” He groaned and pulled her toward him, brushing his lips against hers. They were soft, giving, like everything about her. After the intractability of his father, he welcomed the change.

He needed the change. But he needed Dina more.

She gripped his elbows, and he kissed her. She tasted like wine and chocolate. His hands memorized the outline of her body beneath her sweater. In a corner of his mind he wondered if his hands distracted her as much as hers distracted him. Because hers currently played with the hair on the back of his neck and sent chills along his spine.

The thought came to him in a rush of panic. Like everyone else he’d ever cared for, she would leave him. 

He leaned forward, determined to make her stay. The gearshift dug into his rib, but he ignored the jab, needing to get closer. Pulling her against him, he traced kisses along her jaw. He nuzzled the skin behind her ear, smiling as she gasped. When her mouth opened, he plunged his tongue inside. She stilled before her tongue met his.  Learning to Love/contemporary romance by Jennifer Wilck On sale for 99 cents through 2/19 https://www.amazon.com/Learning-Love-Serendipity-Book-3-ebook/dp/B07J49V5SP

lips_PNG6198

Mandi leaned toward him, opened her mouth, and wiggled the pretzel on the tip of her tongue.

The invitation in her eyes stole his breath like a punch to the solar plexus. He moved in, ready to retrieve the pretzel. Just as their breath mingled, she quickly drew it back into her mouth. He helped himself to a handful of curls and landed a hard kiss on her lips instead. “You are a tease,” he said near her ear. “And you’ll pay for it.”

Laughing, she grazed his hand with her fingers. “Come on. One more dance then we go?”

Her whisper-soft touch sent an electrical current buzzing across his skin. “Yeah,” he managed. Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

If Allison had ever imagined she would kiss Shane again in this lifetime, she would have imagined it this way. So sweet she wanted to die, so hard she tasted the need and the loneliness that bubbled up in both of them.

A sigh escaped her, and only drew him closer, and then he slipped the robe from her shoulders. He kissed her there and in the curve of her neck. When her knees buckled, he caught her and lifted her as if she was a wisp of marshland mist, a will-o-the-wisp. He sank onto the sofa, cradling her. She curled into his lap, put her arms around his neck, and kissed him again with all the heart of the young girl who’d first fallen in love with Shane McBride.  Will o’ the Wisp/ contemporary romantic suspense by Lucy Naylor Kubash http://lucynaylorkubash.com

“I can’t date the parent of one of my students.”

“What?”

His eyes narrowed as they bore into her.

“Is that a school policy?”

She looked away. “No. It’s not an official policy. But it’s not the way I operate.”

“Kate, I’m not married. It’s not like we’d be having an affair or something.”

“It just doesn’t look right, and I don’t ever want any suspicion of favoritism or inappropriate behavior.”

“Ah. I see.” He was quiet for a moment.

When she finally looked up, his mouth claimed hers. Heat surged through Kate, and her mind reeled as his lips moved over hers, warm and searching.

His hands pressed her back, and he stepped closer, deepening the kiss.

When he abruptly pulled back, she tightened her grip on his arm, dazed and unsteady.

“Might be time to re-think your position,” he said, lightly brushing his thumb against her lips.

Her lips were still buzzing when he closed the door behind him.  Unexpected Legacy/sweet contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Legacy-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00AW5NTC4/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612999943&s=books&sr=1-7

ZlbU4GUQGmcEJH-BnpBF90H0mFFPOri_l1pTObBOfv8V-hW8Pas6KonFjnWAROshKGgPP3f-yaB7oXZMy4ICNcROVw-1q91A5Fnc

She examined her face in the bathroom mirror. She appeared as she felt—wasted. As she splashed cold water on her face, she heard knocking at the door. Drying her face and hands, she shuffled to the door and peered through the peephole. She opened the door and feasted on the sight of Aiden’s tall, powerful body looming above her. 

Without hesitation, Aiden wrapped an arm around her waist. As he closed the door with his foot, he gathered her to him and buried his face in her hair. Leila held on, burrowing close. On auto-pilot, she tilted her head. He captured her lips in a long drugging kiss as he buried his hands in her hair. For a few minutes, her world righted before she remembered where she was and why she was there. Breaking the kiss, she pulled away. She stepped back and wrapped her arms around herself.  Gravity by Mona Sedrak https://books2read.com/ap/8Yo0OQ/Mona-Sedrak

She drew herself up to full height, which was middling tall for a woman. “Noah is your brother,” she began, “If you can’t be bothered—”

    “Oh, I’m bothered, Miz Bramwell,” he said. “I’m tired and I’m hungry. I’m paying you to take care of—” 

    “And I’m telling you your brother needs your discipline,” she said, taking a step closer. 

He stepped toward her also. “If you calm down and tell me what he done—” 

“It’s did, Mr. Pershing. What he did was—” 

At her correction, Zeke saw red.

Her dark eyes glared at him and her mouth curved in a pout.

So he kissed her.  My Hope Secured/historical fiction by Theresa Hupp https://www.amazon.com/My-Hope-Secured-Frontier-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B07ZQM7SWP

“Janet,” he said, “you don’t want to get involved with me.”

       “I do,” she said. She bent her head and kissed him, gently at first. Then, as he began to respond, she slid her hand under his shirt and rested her palm on his warm, solid chest. She felt his heart beating.

       When at last she drew away, Wes looked at her for a long moment. Then he put his hands behind her head and pulled her back down to him.  Stranger in the Storm/romantic suspense by Patricia McAlexander https://patriciamcalexander.weebly.com

I held her close. She stroked my hair. With a thought I flipped the lights off; with another closed the wing of the piano. In the moonlight, I laid the woman of my dreams on top of the nine-foot concert grand, and I kissed her.

Breathing ragged, heart pounding, I stood back to worship her. I kissed her beautiful long neck, losing all consciousness except the wonders of her and the wonder that she was at last with me. I trailed my lips to her collarbone. She groaned, softly pleading.

Isabeau was trembling, her pupils so dilated her lavender blue eyes looked black.  Sinners’ Opera/Paranormal Romance (Vampire) by Linda Nightingale https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X3RSRXQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i6

She leaned to kiss his cheek. An innocent gesture—until he suddenly turned to face her. Her lips landed firmly upon his.

Danielle should have backed away…should have resisted the temptation to explore. 

An explosion of tingles ignited from the tips of her curled toes to her fingertips as she received an immediate response. He tasted delicious.  Kissed By Winter/Sweet Contemporary Romance by Darlene Fredette  https://www.amazon.com/Kissed-Winter-Redford-Falls-Novel-ebook/dp/B08DZ6ZW2V/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Darlene+Fredette&qid=1613157289&s=books&sr=1-3

She had so not expected this, was totally unprepared for the way her body heated at his touch. His tongue swept into her mouth, stroking her tongue over and over until her knees turned to water and she had to grip his biceps to stay upright. He tasted hot, and a little desperate. Desperate for her. Her body arched toward him, his thumbs leaving a trail of fire in their wake.  

He stopped kissing her and she wanted to whimper in protest, to beg him not to stop. He leaned his forehead against hers, breathing heavily as his hands gripped her hips.

“Don’t go.” His voice was a rough whisper. “Stay with me tonight.”  To Heal A Heart/small town contemporary romance by Jana Richards https://www.amazon.com/Heal-Heart-Masonville-Book-ebook/dp/B0875SLGK6 

With his hands on her shoulders, Lane leaned in then planted a kiss on her cheek. That’s all he intended to do, but it was out of his control. As if some magnetic force surrounded them, they were propelled toward each other. He couldn’t pull away. And neither did she. Another second, and his lips found hers.

Her hands gripped his arms, and he deepened the kiss, his lips moving over hers with need and urgency, oblivious to everything around them.

When she let out a soft whimper, he broke off the kiss and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in her hair.  Something Good/contemporary romance by Darlene Deluca https://www.amazon.com/Something-Good-Darlene-Deluca-ebook/dp/B00J8UN1GI/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=darlene+deluca&qid=1612998121&s=books&sr=1-3

I walked him to the door, resolved to say good night and for once not mean goodbye. I didn’t want him to go.

“Stay.” I laid my head against his chest. “We can sleep on the Castro.”

His shudder was rewarding.

“If you only knew how long I’ve wanted to hear you ask me. Jesus.” He laughed, a shy embarrassed sound that gladdened my heart. “I can’t believe I’m about to say this.” He took a deep breath. “We shouldn’t. Not tonight.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m not sure we’d be doing it out of love.” He looked at me with a question in his gaze. “I don’t want us to make love because we’re afraid.”

I frowned, my heart heavy, my spirit desperate to disagree, but unable to.

“Okay.” I sighed, but still clung to him. “Not tonight. But soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

“Soon. And for the rest of our lives.”

He cupped my face in both his hands then kissed me in our mutual agreement. Equal parts of nervousness and desire quivered in my belly. I liked the sensation, felt warmed as I imagined what soon would be like.  Haunted Serenade/gothic romance by Anna M. Taylor https://amzn.to/3aXifyu

Elmer slid his truck into a spot outside Margot’s apartment building, switched off the ignition, and sucked in a deep breath. Normally, he’d just ask for a good-night kiss. No big deal. But something about this tough little pixie urged caution and patience. Tonight, she’d loosened her armor just enough to glimpse the vulnerable softness beneath. If he wanted to see more, and he really, really did, he’d have to go slow.

   He took her hand and paused. When she didn’t pull away, he raised it to his lips. But before he could make contact, she made a funny grunting sound deep in her throat, tugged him close, and planted a wet smooch right on his mouth, her lips as soft and succulent as a ripe peach. For a second he froze. Then lust stomped on the gas. He crushed her against his chest and claimed what she offered.

   Rain pattered on the cracked windshield. In the darkness outside, the tires of passing cars hissed on wet asphalt. Inside, only the sound of their shallow breathing and the pounding of his heart, so damn loud she must surely hear it.

   Without releasing her, he pulled back just far enough to gaze into her face. Her deep blue eyes gleamed under the streetlamp’s feeble light.

   Her lips parted. “Wow, I uh…wow.” A deep blush painted her cheeks.  Love, Art, and Other Obstacles/contemporary romance by Sadira Stone https://books2read.com/u/bar2RP 

John smiles and cups the back of my head and we fall into a kiss. Our tongues dance together in sort of a slippery, erotic tango. I move closer to him and grasp his arm. I’m falling fast and hard and I don’t know how to stop myself. Not that I want to.

He pulls away first and holds my face between his hands. Then he kisses the tip of my nose. His lips travel to my cheek, my chin, and end at the nape of my neck, leaving me a hot, melting blob.

“Ace,” he whispers, we haven’t known each other long, and I know it might sound crazy, but I think I might be falling in love with you.”

Did I hear him right? My blob-self melts to a puddle on the floor. I pull it together long enough to say, “Thanks,” and pour myself out the door.  Cherokee Summer/ YA Romance by Susan Antony https://www.amazon.com/Cherokee-Summer-Susan-Antony-ebook/dp/B07L7GLGRG/

Shay turned to leave, but before she could walk away, Aden grasped her arm and pulled her to his chest.

“Uh-uh, no leaving before I get a kiss goodbye.”

Not one for PDAs, Shay glanced around. The coast was clear. She reached around his neck and pulled him in, giving him a fierce, swift kiss, then stepped back.

“Hey,” he complained, trying to get her back.

“I’ve got to go.” She giggled and danced out of his reach.  Rock House Grill/Romantic Suspense by D. V. Stone https://www.dvstoneauthor.com/

Catalina dove into the pool. Barely disturbing the surface, she cut through the water. Her hair flowed across he shoulders, tickling her with a feather’s touch. Five minutes passed. She looked to her left and saw Bonhomme resting against the side of the pool, elbows propped on the tile gutter. She swam a few more laps, then stopped and dipped her head back into the water.

 She waded toward Bonhomme. He reached out, pulled her close and held her with warm comforting hands. He placed a thoughtful kiss on her lips, moving to her neck and back to her lips again. He tasted her, then pulled away.  Return of the French Blue/suspense/women’s fiction by Pamela Boles Eglinski https://www.amazon.com/Return-French-Blue-centuries-International-ebook/dp/B008BDBKTS

He stepped closer, cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs resting on her cheeks, his exploring fingers spread into her hair.

He bent forward and kissed her on the lips. His long hair tickled her face, and intensely aware of his hard body, she let his strength call to her. His gentle tone tugged on heartstrings she never knew she possessed, and the sweet warmth of his touch lured her to lean into his hand. This close, his eyes were intense flecks of green, brown, and gold trapped within a black ring.

If he used magic on her, she didn’t care. All thoughts of the Guardians vanished. Nothing mattered. Only them. Only Cress. He created a longing in her that overshadowed everything else.

Her heart quickened and pulsated in a nice way. Maybe she could add lover to their relationship. A delightful shudder of anticipation rippled through her. — Woman in the Woods/ Fantasy romance by Darcy Carson https://www.amazon.com/Woman-Woods-Dragons-Return-Book-ebook/dp/B082S77VQ9/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=darcy+carson&qid=1613068531&sr=8-4

♥ Hope you enjoyed all those kisses! Happy Valentine’s Day to all! ♥

The Perfect Place for a Valentine Smooch!

Valentine’s Day weekend is the perfect day to think about kisses and romance. So on the blog today and tomorrow, it’s all about the smooch! First up, let’s talk about the perfect kissy locations! Many thanks to Janet McLaren, my favorite travel agent, for putting together this top-10 list for getting the perfect kiss pic!

lips_PNG6198

Here’s how to get them of you and YOUR sweetie:

  1. On the back deck of a cruise ship. Position yourselves so that you get the wake of the ship in the shot. Works well with a clear sky, interesting clouds, or a sunset. Better yet if your kiss is over a couple of glasses of champagne!
  2. Near an iconic structure. A classic fave is from Warsaw Square in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background! The Leaning Tower of Pisa is also a great example, because there’s a grassy lawn in front of it with plenty of space for crafting the perfect romantic backdrop.
  3. On a gondola ride in Venice. Get two shots — one with the city and canal behind you, and one with your gondolier in his jaunty striped shirt. I know it sounds “touristy,” but trust me on this one!
  4. In front of a waterfall. Really, just about any one will do, but may I suggest Niagara Falls? It’s big enough to create a wow! moment and a very splashy photo. Falls
  5. Near an iconic bridge. Probably nowhere is as glam as the Golden Gate Bridge framing the glory of San Francisco (drive to View Vista Point on the north side), but other famous bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge, Tower Bridge in London, or Liberty Bridge in Budapest are equally romance-inducing.
  6. In a colorful field of tulips. If you can’t make it to The Netherlands for this one, try a tulip festival near home! My faves are the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival outside of Mt. Vernon, Washington; the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival of Woodburn, Oregon, and the miles of tulip fields ablaze during Holland, Michigan’s famous Tulip Time festival (May 1-9 this year, but skip the crowds and go the week after).
  7. At the swim-up bar of a swanky all-inclusive beach resort. Order some fancy cocktails then have someone photograph your toast to romance! Be sure they get some palm trees in the background for maximum romantic effect.
  8. IMG_5364From the beach as the sun is setting. “Sunset beaches” are the best beaches! Think Panama City Beach, Florida (or really, about anywhere on the Florida Gulf Coast); Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; or Kaanapali Beach, Maui. If you’re in Hawaii, don’t forget your leis!
  9. In front of a showy fountain. If you can get there early enough to beat the crowds, then there’s no fountain as romantic as Trevi Fountain in Rome. Another lovely spot that happens to offer a variety of background options is the Raices Fountain in San Juan, Puerto Rico — I remember helping a couple there once with some fun off-angled pix (don’t be afraid to play around with your poses). And if you’re ever in Mazatlan, Mexico, don’t miss the dancing dolphins fountain on the waterfront!
  10. Up in the mountains. America is full of scenic wonders that make for dazzling romantic pix! Think Aspen, Colorado; Tucson, Arizona; Stowe, Vermont; and just about any of our fabulous national parks. Pro tips: if you’re at the Grand Canyon do not stand too close to the edge; and in Yellowstone stay away from the bison, they really hate getting their pictures taken with tourists.

If you need more romantic travel ideas, Janet can fix you up! 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com

All right now, don’t be shy! Tell us about your favorite smoochy spot!

 

Thanksgiving is a wake-up call for this fictional family

With the holiday season upon us and Thanksgiving only a couple of days away, I decided to go through my published novels to find holiday scenes to share. For me, the holidays are generally crazy busy with shopping and festivities. This year, looks like things will be quieter. No events or guests. Maybe I’ll have a chance to read a few more books! Maybe you will, too.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my early women’s fiction novels, the first in the Women of Whitfield series. It’s a story with some serious ups and downs about friends, family and regeneration. In this scene, the family has been going through a rough spell, and Thanksgiving dinner is a big wake-up call. Take a peek:

Elise watched her mother pick at her food, lifting an occasional shaky forkful to her mouth. She’d taken only a small portion of turkey and potatoes and a little fruit salad. Hardly enough to keep anyone alive. How had it gotten so bad? Elise wondered if Mary knew. When was the last time her mother had interacted with anyone? Did Nathan ever check in on her?

Living by herself at the lake house obviously wasn’t working. Elise would have to make some phone calls. Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031]

She refilled her mother’s coffee mug, leaving plenty of room at the top for sloshing. “Mom, did you get enough to eat? Can I get you anything else?”

Dull eyes looked up at her. Her mother shook her head, then turned to their hostess. “It was a lovely dinner. Thank you.”

Polite, dutiful and automatic. She said the right words, but Elise knew her mother was simply going through the motions. The rote words were delivered in monotone. Fear swept through her. She was losing her mother. Elise hurried back to the kitchen with the coffee pot, and swiped at the tears that escaped. She braced her arms against the sink, trying to catch her breath. A few moments later, Brian’s strong hands squeezed her shoulders.

“Hey. Take it easy, hon.”

“My mom is gone, Brian,” Elise whispered. “She’s completely lost it.”

He pulled her into his arms, warm hands circling over her back. “Shhh. It’ll be okay. Let’s just get through another hour or so, then we can leave.”

For the next two hours, they all pretended everything was perfectly fine. Her mother was the elephant in the living room, and they all danced around her. Derek built a fire in the fireplace, and turned the television on to one of the football games. That’s what they did on Thanksgiving Day.

Elise watched in disbelief as her mother smoothed the crease in her slacks, drank coffee, and stared into space.

The Storm within is available in digital and paperback format at Apple books, Barnes & Noble online and Amazon. Click here to learn more!

— from a 5-star review: “This was a hard book to put down. I got so involved with the characters that I shed tears for dark moments and tears for joy when things worked out. Ms Deluca is a powerful story teller and has deep insight into human frailties and strengths.”

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Happy reading!

Darlene

Authors, libraries and books! Oh, my!

Hello, everyone! Hope your weekend is off to a great start! Today is the final day of Mid-Continent Public Library’s Local Author Fair. I’m one of the authors featured on the 1:30 p.m. (CT) panel discussing books, writing and publishing. In the past, this has been a really fun live event where I’ve met readers while selling and signing books.

locautpan3Alas, this year it’s a virtual event. But, hey, that means more people can tune in, and you can do so from the safety of your own home! I’ll be discussing my writing journey, the women’s fiction and romance genres, and featuring my newest release, “The Story Between Us.” The panel highlights four different authors writing a variety of styles and genres.

Many thanks to MCPL for all their work in putting this together and supporting local authors. Hope you’ll join us!

perf5.000x8.000.indd

“The Story Between Us” is a sweet romance available in both digital and paperback formats from a variety of online resources. Click here to visit the Amazon page, learn more, and check out the reader reviews!

Is your book club meeting virtually? Choose one of my books to read and discuss, and I’m happy to join the meeting online! Find discussion questions and contact me on the website.

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

Wrap up in a Piece of Art!

Hello, everyone! Continuing my series on women who are in business, entrepreneurs or just doing something cool, today I’m featuring Kansas City fiber artist Lauri Davidson. I had the privilege of working with Lauri for a short while, and I can tell you she creates fabulous pieces – I’m especially partial to her unique and colorful scarves.

First, tell us a little about your job/activity. What is your role/position?

I am an artist who creates with fabric and raw fibers like wool and silk. I tend to look for new ways to manipulate and create wearable works of art which I sell through a wonderful little art gallery called Eclectics Gift Gallery in Kansas City’s Waldo area. I became a member in January 2014. This is a co-op of 10-12 member artists who work together to run the shop. Each artist takes on a specific job to operate and maintain the shop and works in the shop several times a month. It’s the perfect opportunity to have time to create but also interact with customers and the other members about art.

image1(1)

IMG_8989What’s a typical day look like? 

Well, every day is a new adventure lately. Generally, I get moving to purrs and meows from our little family of kitties who require some morning chores. Usually by mid morning, I get to my studio with my fuzzy helpers to create or research how to make an idea I have in my head. It’s all about taking the pictures from my head to reality.

On days I spend at Eclectics, I usually prepare the night before tagging products, or organizing projects that I might work on in the shop. At the shop, it is a combination of greeting customers and getting things done around the shop. It could be restocking, checking for holes in displays or just cleaning up.

What do you love about it? 

I love working with customers who love art. It doesn’t need to be my art, but they love art and appreciate the creative process. Next, I love the creating process although sometimes I get too many ideas, and I just have to make a list so that I don’t forgetter things I want to try. Last, I enjoy working with a group of creative talented women whose creativity is amazing and inspiring. 

Tell us about your journey. Did you always want to do this?

I taught high school English, yearbook, newspaper and video for 27 years at Raytown High School. I loved working with the kids to develop the creative ideas especially in the publication classes. When I retired in 2013, it was my turn to create. I grew up with a mother who was always creating and is an incredible quilter, so working with fabric and sewing came naturally. I joined the Kansas City Fiber Guild and participated in their yearly show Creative Hand. While working with the KC Fiber Guild, I discovered Eclectics.

What do you wish people knew about your business?

This business has endured so many changes and challenges since its inception in 1991, and it has continued to survive and offer Kansas City a place to find the most unique gifts and art. Next year, Eclectics will celebrate 30 years. It has allowed many artists a place to share their artwork.

image0(2)

What do you bring to your field/job that you think is special?

I think I have a creative eye especially for color. I love playing with different tones and color combinations. Also, I love to take found items and redirect their purpose. I often upcycle fabric from thrift store clothing. At the store, I enjoy helping customers find that perfect gift solution or art piece that makes them smile.

What is your favorite book/movie/quote?

I always loved teaching Romeo and Juliet. For 27 years, I taught freshman English, and one of my favorite units was Romeo and Juliet. In his day, Shakespeare wrote for the masses and spoke to all the classes of society. The themes in Romeo and Juliet reached kids at all levels. At times, my struggling students would identify with the characters’ difficult situations. I loved watching a student light up because he/she/they suddenly “got” it and discovered they could relate to the character’s struggle.

Where can we find/follow you on social media?

https://www.eclecticskc.com

https://www.facebook.com/EclecticsGallery

Your website: https://www.milostoes.com

Thanks for sharing with us today, Lauri! If you have questions for Lauri, ask them here then be sure to check out her amazing wearable art on her social media sites. #supportsmallbusiness

As always, happy reading to all!

Darlene