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!


Ice cream makes everything better!

It’s National Ice Cream Day. Yes, I guess it’s a thing. But does anyone really need a national day to enjoy a cup, cone or bowl of their favorite ice cream? Not me!

But, hey, I’ll play along. I’ve recently taken quite a liking to a pistachio gelato at Spin Pizza. But my all-time go-to fave is Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond.IMG_1789

So in honor of this day, I’m sharing a scene from my first novel, Unexpected Legacy, which takes place around . . . you guessed it. Ice cream, of course!

Unexpected_Legacy_CoverUnexpected Legacy:

“It’s very nice to meet you,” Pattie continued. “My kids are dying to meet you, too, but we’ll save that for another day. Just remember, though, the longer you put it off, the more excited they’re going to be. That means the more wild and obnoxious they’ll get. And I won’t thank you when they start driving me crazy.”
Matt couldn’t help but grin as Brady stared at his aunt. She must’ve seemed crazy already to him.
“Well, I can see you’re a talker,” Pattie told Brady. “But since you shouldn’t talk and eat at the same time, we’re just going to leave this for you. We’ll collect the utensils later. Unless you decide to come out for dessert. Ice cream with caramel and whipped cream.”
With that, she winked at Brady and breezed out the door. Matt nodded at his son. “Need anything else?”
Brady shook his head.
While the others dug into the ice cream, Matt gathered up the empty pizza boxes and shoved them into the large plastic trash bin in his garage, grateful for the few moments of silence the task afforded him. He didn’t want to be rude, but he hoped Pattie and the kids would leave soon. He was ready to crash, or at least settle into the couch in front of some mind-numbing television.
He started back to the kitchen then heard Tess shriek, “There he is!”
Matt bounded up the stairs in time to see Brady standing in the hallway. All heads swiveled toward him.
Matt’s mother was the first to greet Brady.
“Brady, would you like some ice cream?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
Pattie restrained Tess, who’d jumped from her chair, about to charge Brady.
“How ’bout caramel and whipped cream?” Nonie asked.
“Uh, sure,” Brady said.
“Well, come on in and sit down,” Matt’s dad said, pulling out a chair for him.
Brady took a few more steps, then plopped into the chair. Matt’s dad took the crutches from him and leaned them against a corner.
Matt held his breath as Brady looked around the table, making eye contact with the other kids.
“Brady,” Pattie spoke up and nudged Tess, who’d suddenly gone shy and was holding on to her mother. “This is your cousin, Tess.”
“Hi, Tess,” Brady said.
She turned away and hid behind Pattie.
Matt shook his head, not sure he’d ever understand children, no matter how many books he read.
Pattie went around the table. “And this is Alex. And Jeremy.”
They both mumbled a hello, and Brady nodded.
Nonie set a heaping bowl of ice cream in front of Brady.
“Now let him eat his ice cream,” she told the kids, as if they were clamoring to talk to him, rather than staring, tongue-tied. “And you eat yours, too. Jeremy, you’re making a mess. Here, use this napkin.”
Scott stood up and reached a hand toward Brady. “Hello, Brady, I’m Scott. These hooligans belong to me.”
Brady offered Scott about half a smile, and shook his hand. “Hi.”
“How’d you like to babysit some time?” Scott asked, a grin spreading across his face.
The room erupted in laughter, and the awkwardness seemed to subside.
Matt nodded at Brady, secretly proud of him for venturing out of the bedroom and facing the situation. It showed courage, and that was something they’d both need a healthy dose of in the coming months.

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And happy scooping! Feel free to share your fave with us!


It’s a Book Birthday sale!

Hard to believe it’s been a year since my newest contemporary romance novel hit the shelves (or cyber shelves)!


Her Greatest Risk has all the elements you’d expect in a romance novel — interesting characters, (including the hunky hero, Michael), conflict and tension, and a healthy dose of attraction. It’s almost love at first sight, but . . .

Her Greatest Risk

Clashing over the fate of a historic building, Jennifer Aukland and Michael Reynolds are on course to become adversaries. She’s an architect devoted to green building and restoration. He’s a developer hell-bent on ripping down the old hotel she’s racing to save to make way for a new casino.

Chemistry leads to compromise, and for a time, they’re on the same team. Jennifer adds Michael – and marriage – to her safe and steady plan for the future. But when Michael throws caution aside and lands in a life-threatening situation, Jennifer’s world comes crashing down. In her family, she’s learned that recklessness leads to tragedy. She must decide if she can commit her life to someone who takes unnecessary risks with his. Will she take control of her own destiny, even if it means leaving Michael behind? Or will she risk everything for love?

Reviewer comments

— “This one will definitely keep you turning the pages. I adored Michael, he was hot, sweet and had an awesome job.”

— “For me, Her Greatest Risk, by Darlene Deluca was a five star read! I really got into the story to the point where I got emotional at times.”

— “Love is a daily work in progress with ups and downs you have to be prepared to weather and Darlene Deluca writes with clarity how much the heart can handle.”


On wobbly legs, she made her way back to the stairs. Looking past Michael, Jennifer smiled. She stopped shy of his reach, but he moved toward her, hand extended. He took her hand in his, then leaned down to sear her cheek with a kiss.

“Hello, Jen,” he whispered.

Her face burned as if she’d been branded. Ignoring Michael as best she could, she moved past him when Sam turned and greeted her. Jennifer graciously shook hands with the entire team, nodded at the audience, and stepped back to the end of the line. Somehow she managed to stay there and endure the long-winded comments – and Michael’s arm brushing against her shoulder.

Say thank-you, she screamed inside, willing the lead architect to finish. Just say thank you. Had it been the Academy Awards, the music would’ve started ten minutes ago.

Get your copy of Her Greatest Risk

Throwback Thursday, literary style . . .

P1050882For a throwback today, I thought I’d offer a little snippet from my first novel, Unexpected Legacy. It’s one of my favorite scenes between the hero, Matt, and heroine, Kate, and it just happens to occur in a pumpkin patch shortly before Halloween. Unexpected Legacy is fiction with romantic elements. It’s about a dad who meets his son for the first time when the boy is sixteen years old and recovering from a serious car accident. Kate is the high school principal who steps in to help the kid, but with a different agenda than his father. 🙂

Matt caught up to her, and rested his arms against the fence.
“Let me guess,” he said. “You’ve loved horses since you were a little girl.”
She leaned against the fence, pushing back a strand of hair that had come loose. “Is something wrong with that?”
“Not at all, but I’m intrigued. I think I’ve stumbled across a soft spot. You put on a tough front in your profession, but your home is full of soft things, and you like ponies.”
“Excuse me, are you a psychiatrist?”
“Hell, no,” he laughed. “I’m just making this up. Basically, it means you’re such a girl.”
She laughed then, and smacked his arm. When she tossed her head back, Matt reached out and pushed the loose strand of hair behind her ear again. His hand lingered near her face, while his thumb skimmed her cheek.
And in the next instant his lips brushed against hers.
Maybe it was the warm rays of sunshine surrounding them, or the light smoldering in Matt’s eyes. Maybe it was purely Matt Dalton’s sensuality that sent liquid heat surging through her veins. She felt deliciously enveloped in warmth.
So when he pulled her against him, she lifted her face, welcoming his kiss. His arms went around her, pressing her closer, and she melted against him. He murmured her name, and her heart pounded as a wave of desire washed over her.
Kate clutched the taut muscles of Matt’s arm with one hand, while the other one curved around his neck and wound into his thick, coarse hair. His hands splayed across her back, sending shivers rocketing up her spine.
When his lips trailed kisses behind her ear and down her neck, she moaned softly, lost in his arms. When Matt shifted, his arousal, hard against her hip, jolted Kate back to reality. She drew back and turned, leaning against the fence.
One of the horses nuzzled up to her. Breathing in light gasps, she held out a shaky hand, grateful for the diversion. She couldn’t look at Matt. Kate knew she was playing with fire. She shouldn’t have come. She thought she could get past her attraction to him and simply enjoy the day, but when he touched her, her body had a will of its own.
“I’ll get these loaded up,” Matt said finally. His voice sounded strained, and she looked up quickly. He gave her shoulder a soft squeeze, then turned toward the wagon.
She followed behind while he wrestled with keeping the wagon upright in the uneven dirt and ruts. When they reached the tent near the entrance, Matt pulled out his wallet.
“Oh, Matt. No. I’m getting these,” she said, fumbling for her purse.
“Kate,” he said, his voice brooking no opposition. “Go pick out a couple of mums.” He nodded toward a grassy area to the side with a display of colorful mums in varying stages of bloom.
Swallowing hard, she turned and marched across the lot. The man had a bit of a bossy streak. Hardly even looking at them, she picked up the two closest purple mums and headed back toward the tent, until she realized Matt was already loading pumpkins into his car. He motioned to her, and before she made it halfway, he was at her side, taking the mums. She whispered a thank-you and hurried toward the car.
Kate sensed the electricity in the car as she sat with her hands in her lap, staring out the window. When he pulled into a parking lot, she turned and looked at him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m buying you lunch, of course.”
Oh. Right. Still processing her emotions, she’d forgotten about lunch.
“Matt, maybe we should just head back,” Kate said softly, not meeting his eyes.
“Kate. Come on. It’s almost one. I promised you lunch, and I’m starving. I know you must be, too.” He opened his car door, leaving her little choice but to do the same. He waited for her to round the car, then ushered her up the stairs of an old Victorian farmhouse.
Snap out of it, Kate told herself. Great blazes, it was one little kiss. She stepped onto the porch determined to be cool and collected. Taking a deep breath, she looked around at the stately old home.
“This is a clubhouse?” she asked.
“No. I thought you might like this better. My mom and sister love it.”
“Oh. It’s really cool.” It was absolutely gorgeous. With massive pots of flowers and cushioned wicker furniture, it looked like something from a magazine. The tranquility of the place went a long way toward restoring Kate’s equilibrium.
A hostess appeared. “Terrace this afternoon, folks?”
Kate couldn’t help but smile up at Matt. “Would that be okay with you?”
“Of course.”
Kate nodded to the hostess, and she led them to a table outside with a view of a small pond and lovely gardens. “Wow,” she breathed. “It’s incredible.” She picked up the menu and read the brief history of the Mansion. “Oh, I think I’ve heard of this place.”
“Glad you like it,” Matt said.
Kate’s heart sank at the stilted, formal tone to Matt’s words. How could they recapture the easy mood of this morning?
She ordered a salad and iced tea, glad to have the beautiful scenery to look at and take her mind off of . . . other things.
“Kate, I–”
She held up her hand and gave him a shaky smile.
“Matt, please. That shouldn’t have happened, and I shouldn’t have let it. Why don’t we just let it go, and enjoy the rest of the day, all right? I’ve had a lot of fun. You were right. I needed a day away.”
She didn’t add that she’d actually enjoyed it a little too much.
His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. His gaze met hers, and slowly he nodded. “Okay, we let it go today, but Kate?”
She caught her breath, held captive by the intensity in Matt’s eyes.
“This conversation isn’t over.”
The ride back was quiet. Once, he reached out for her hand. He squeezed it gently then caressed the top of it with his thumb. The soft movement sent shivers up her arm. Kate kept her hand where it was, but she ached inside. She couldn’t help but feel cheated – here was a really great guy whom she liked and was attracted to, but he was off limits. It wasn’t fair.
For her, this was a fairy tale day. It couldn’t be real. She was like Cinderella, and Matt her handsome prince – only there was no ball, and no glass slipper. When the clock struck midnight tonight, she’d be left with nothing but pumpkins. And no fairy-tale ending.

Unexpected Legacy on Amazon

Speaking of throwbacks, do you have any books so near and dear to your heart that you occasionally re-read them? I have a couple of oldies but goodies that I enjoy re-reading. In romance, two of my faves are Paradise by Judith McNaught, and Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. And yours?

Survive and Thrive . . . novels for women

Hello, friends!
As I mentioned last week, I’ve met so many interesting people in the world of writing and publishing. To me, it’s always fun to meet new authors, and learn about their journey. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Charmaine Gordon, author of women’s fiction and romance, and her newest work, When Double Becomes Single Again. Welcome, Charmaine!

Charmaine -10 sATURATED_pp8x10g-72y
Thanks for inviting me to your blog today. As strangers we are starting from scratch and that’s often a good thing. If we were in a bar, we might say “Come here often?” but no we’re in outer space, both authors who write about women who survive and thrive. If you don’t survive, you’re in big trouble and yet many women are too weak to stand up and make a life for themselves after a drastic situation has happened. I’ve been there and it’s a scramble to put on make-up, dress well, go to work and keep your head up. I recall when my first husband died suddenly, the psychologists on the radio talked about men liking younger women. I looked in the rear view mirror to see an attractive woman-ME-and decided I was okay and not to worry. A year later, I married a sweet guy and we’re happy together. At 84 that’s a stretch.

I often wonder where a story comes from. For me. I sleep write and stories blossom but in the case of When Double becomes Single, this story is part of my real life-at least the beginning. I cried a lot and eased up as the heroine learned to become single after being married about thirty five years. She talks to him at night the way many widows do, her dogs keep her company and she works the business they started when they were young. Eventually she blossoms. That’s where my heart sings. And not to worry, there is an HEA.

Excerpt: When Double Becomes Single Again

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The touch of her husband’s lips on hers warmed Sharon Michaels all the way home from the hospital. Remembering his whispered I love you before she left released a cascade of tears. She groped in her bag for a tissue, found none and used the sleeve of her good winter coat as a blotter. Mac would fix Barry. Their favorite doctor always knew the magical potion to apply. Even when Fred, their difficult teenager now in his thirties, started using marijuana and refused to stop, Mac knew what to do. Tough Love was the prescription. No driver’s license and other privileges allowed until he straightened out. So Barry’s bad cough should be easy like the croup. Hmm. Fred still held a grudge against us. Get home and go to sleep.

Exhausted after hours visiting with her husband at Community Hospital in Suffern, New York, Sharon stripped and pulled on flannel pajamas. Too tired to shower, she brushed her teeth, washed her face and slipped under the comforter on this chilly night. The phone rang. She picked it up. Mac Bloom, the family doctor said something she couldn’t quite hear.

“Crisis? Is that what you said? What do you mean crisis? I left him at the hospital about an hour ago. We kissed and said I love you the way we’ve always done for thirty six years.”

Their doctor for many a long time sighed. She heard urgency and sadness in his voice. “Sharon, is anyone at home with you?”

About Charmaine . . .
Charmaine Gordon writes books about women who Survive and Thrive. Her motto is take one step and then another to leave your past behind and begin again. Six books and several short stories in three years, she’s always at work on the next story. The books include To Be Continued, Starting Over, Now What?, Reconstructing Charlie, Sin of Omission and The Catch, and her series of Mature Romances, The Beginning…Not the End, including the stand alone novellas, She Didn’t Say No and Farewell, Hello and her most recent series, River’s Edge Stories where the town motto is Kindness to Strangers.

“I didn’t realize at the time while working as an actor in NYC, I’d become a sponge soaking up dialogue, setting, and stage directions. I learned many tools of writing during the years watching directors like Mike Nichols and actors including Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins, and Billy Crystal. And would you believe, I was Geraldine Ferraro’s stand-in leg model, my first job giving me entrée into all the Unions needed to work. When the sweet time ended, I began another career and creative juices flowed.”

Where to find Charmaine…

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Meant to be, or . . . not?

Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little snippet from my most recent contemporary romance novel, Something Good. This scene takes place near the end of the book. It’s full of romantic tension  – will they or won’t they. Love me? Love me not?

CoverOnly.SG.lowresOf course you’ll have to read the whole book to find out what happens next! Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

That evening, Mandi picked up on the second ring.
“Hey,” she said.
“Hey, there. Out with the gang last night, huh?”
“Yeah. It’s a fun group.”
“That’s great. Anyone in particular?”
Mandi laughed. “Well, my boss is kind of a funny guy. He tells a good story.”
Lane’s heart lurched. He couldn’t remember what else she’d said about her boss. How old was he? Was he married? He couldn’t let it go. He had to know. “Mandi, are you seeing someone?” His question hung between them for a long moment.
“You mean like dating?”
She spoke only one word, but Lane had a feeling there was more to it. Her voice was quiet, strained.
“You okay?”
“Why did you ask me that?”
More silence. How to answer that? “I just needed to know. Guess my imagination got wound up when I couldn’t reach you last night.”
“Well, I have made some friends, Lane.”
“But no one– No one you want to go out with.”
“No. How could I?” she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
His heart thumped. “What do you mean?”
“You’re not here.”
Her response stole his breath, and he had to pace a minute before he could hear anything other than the blood pounding in his ears. “Say that again.”
Okay. He couldn’t pressure her for more. God, he wanted to head straight to the airport and book the next flight out. He took a deep breath. “How would you feel about some company before school starts?” Or sooner.
Silence met his question. Again. He wished he could see her face. “I miss you,” he said. Now he really wanted to see her face.

Mandi clenched her eyes shut.  How to respond to that? She couldn’t tell him that her entire body ached for him, that she thought about him pretty much twenty-four seven. How could they really have a relation-ship? Long distance for at least three years? That was too difficult. Too stressful. Too expensive. She wouldn’t lie to him, but did she have to tell the whole truth?
“Do you like the beach?” she asked instead.
“I do like the beach. I like you and me sitting on the beach watching the sunset, having a beer or a glass of wine.”
She gave a choked laugh. “You do?”
“Yeah. Does that mean I can come visit?”
The visual played in Mandi’s head, and lodged in her chest. She and Lane walking along the beach at dusk . . . holding hands. Oh, yeah. She’d avoided the beach since that one time she’d ventured out by herself. Rather than being soothing, it’d been lonely. Something about the vast expanse of water had made her feel small and vulnerable. Alone. She loved being in California, loved her new job, and was excited about going to school. But somewhere along the way, being alone had become lonely.
Most nights, she worked. And talked to Lane. That kept her mind occupied. But then every night she went to bed, and the darkness reminded her that she’d left more than a chunk of her heart in Texas. She wouldn’t be going back to retrieve it, so where did that leave her? What was she supposed to do? Live without it?
At last she answered him, “Yeah. You can come visit.”

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