Monday, March 31, 2014

Regency Lives!

As I mentioned in my last post at the end of January, the Cotillion (Regency) imprint of Ellora’s Cave is accepting submissions for the 2014 anthology. This year’s theme is Christmas Feasts. Word count ranges from 12K to 25K and the deadline for (complete- no partials) submissions is May 15, 2014.

Stories submitted to the Cotillion line must be particularly accurate as to the history and social mores of the time. The true Regency period is really 1811-1820, which are the years when the Prince was Regent for his ailing father. However, many readers and writers extend the era to 1800 or so. These stores must be sweet with only kisses, and the bedroom door is firmly closed.

I have been working very industriously on my tale, titled “Francie’s Feast”. As usual, I got lost in my research, but I think that’s never a bad thing. If it happens that you can’t use it this time around, such a wonderful nugget just might be the first building block for the next story!

I discovered (or rediscovered, as the case may be) many wonderful books that have been very helpful, as well as marvelous web-sites. I spent an entire day at http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com/  for instance. Well-written and very witty, the photos alone are entirely fabulous of the mouth-watering variety, and one page quickly leads to another, and another and . . .

If you need a map of Regency England, I quite like The A-Z  of Regency London (book). With it, I was able to figure out where my hero lived and worked. (He is not of the nobility, but he is a very noble person, and his work helps others!) An exceptionally interesting web-site is http://mapco.net/darton1817/darton.htm The Thames looks like a huge green snake, but I promise it won’t bite!

For clothing styles, one of my favorites is The Chronicle of Western Costume  by John Peacock. (What a great author name for such a book!)  I have it in both hard-cover and soft, so I’m never far from this marvelous source.  I’m also very partial to Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style, by Susan Watkins, published in 1990. This hard-cover version was a gift from my daughter that year, so it’s doubly valuable to me.

There are a goodly number of books describing 
Georgette Heyer’s Regency England or Regency 
London or Regency World. They can be helpful, 
but it is important to remember that Ms. Heyer 
created the Regency world as she thought it should 
be. You can easily trip yourself up if you blindly 
accept everything she wrote as gospel. There are 
also books about the world of Jane Austen. In 
many ways these are more realistic, but do 
remember that Ms. Austen was writing 
contemporary fiction, not Regency romance.

There’s a wonderful publisher of small books (size wise that is) in England: Shire Books. http://www.shirebooks.co.uk/home.aspx   For the most part they are approximately the size of mass-market paperbacks, and usually less than 100 pages. Each book has its own particular theme, and I find them delightful. They do ship to the US as well as the UK, and even have some books that are of  especial interest to those of us here.

Of course, needing to know more about the foods of Regency times,  I will always cherish the two books I used. One I’d had for some time, the other is a recent acquisition -- Lord Byron’s Relish by Wilma Paterson. Recipes and descriptions of food are mingled with Byron’s poetry or letters. Very interesting. The other one was purchased in the gift shop at the Brighton Pavilion in 2007. Unfortunately, it’s hiding from me at the moment, so I can’t tell you the title. It, too, has lots of photos, in color, of the famed kitchen there. Like Prinny, it’s more style than substance!

Please come back on the 31st day of each month (that has one!) and I’ll be happy to you posted on our collective Regency efforts, as the year progresses.

Thank you all for reading! 

Hetty St. James 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

World Culture in Fiction

I’m currently teaching a World-Building class for CO Romance Writers, and one of the components of World-Building is Culture. It takes up a full third of the course. I ask my students to define what Culture means to THEM & how they incorporate that into their stories. Then I explain what it means to ME, break down the various components, & use examples from my own books to illustrate the points. And then THEY have to present scenes where they’ve fleshed out their stories to incorporate an example from the lessons—and present it as homework to the rest of the class.

My kids have to take a World Cultures class in middle school, where they get to explore both similarities and differences of various nationalities from around the world. The “people are all different but somehow still the same” philosophy, trying to teach the next generation acceptance and tolerance, to embrace differences rather than reject them. (Yes, I’ve watched Chocolat a lot—one of my favorite movies. That was its central theme.)

The best fiction is as solid in realism and detail as real life. Fantasy fiction has the added dimension of (hopefully) seamlessly blending real & true with imaginary, made-up & magical items & beings to bring about a familiar-yet-strange “reality” for the reader—let them escape into an excitingly different place for a while. A place where cats swim and pigs talk and fish fly through the air—and the reader goes “of course, makes perfect sense.”

Culture is a unique set of beliefs and customs manifested in a visually recognizable set of trappings. It’s a group of people generally believing in and behaving around a central core set of similarities. When you think of Chinese, Mexican or Italian, very different images come to mind, from the cuisine to the art & music to the costumes to the stories & traditions.

I was watching Something Borrowed/Something New Friday night, and one of the brides was from a big Italian family marrying into a big Irish family. After watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know what a culture shock that can turn into! On Say Yes to the Dress, one bride at Kleinfeld’s was having a traditional Indian wedding and was shopping for her reception dress. Her biggest request was NOT to wear a white gown, b/c that’s what WIDOWS wear—definitely not appropriate for a bride on her wedding day. (Or as the groom, I would be REALLY concerned!)

One of the best parts of writing is when you develop a character from a specific culture, with a set of specific customs and beliefs and values. And they you tear him away from everything familiar and park his butt right in the middle of a society with differing—or better yet, opposing—values and customs and beliefs, and ask him to cope. Big surprise—he can’t. Bigger surprise—conflict, jeopardy. STORY. That’s where the fun is, for both writer and reader. It can be a pain in the butt for a writer, to have to dig that deep to create it. But the payoff for the reader is SO worth it. THOSE are the stories that stay with us.

In God of Fyre Mountain, my newest release from Samhain (just out in paperback in January), I set up a big case of mistaken identity. The natives have a temple built around the statue of a troll—their fyre god, Afu, who controls the volcanoes. When the village witch doctor commits blasphemy against Afu, the local volcano, Mt. Veamalohi, awakens. The chieftain’s daughter Maili goes to the temple to try to placate Afu—and finds a real, living troll within. Poor Dax simply got banished from his homeland by an elven dark mage because he pissed her off. Now he’s in a strange land where the locals think he’s their god—and expect him to bring the volcano back under control. Yeah, sucks to be him. Opposing cultures, high stakes, ticking time bomb…STORY!

Excerpt from God of Fyre Mountain:
Maili knew of the temple atop the stairs where the fyre god dwelt. Tales prophesied he’d walk amongst them in the end of days. Naught but an ultimate sacrifice would stay the demon-god’s destructive hand. Katoa was not forthcoming on what “ultimate sacrifice” entailed.
Standing with Katoa and Iokia, Lanikula turned to Maili and Noelani. “Come, girl.”
“Me?” Shaking her head, Noelani backed away.
Maili nudged her forward. “Please, you must. Neither of us can avoid our fates.” She couldn’t imagine Noelani shrinking heads in the muliwa ceremony. Even Kali heads.
A curse on village elders who rearranged others’ lives to suit themselves.
Choking on bitterness, she turned Ona and baby brother over to their mother and fled the village, needing a moment alone to catch her breath. She followed the path to the spring where they got their water. The once ice-cold spring bubbled hot with the ominous smell of sulfur. A dead lovebird floated atop the steaming surface, a tangle of sodden green feathers. Maili clapped a hand over her mouth. Afu had taken their fresh water away, retribution for her grandmother’s blasphemy. Now they must journey farther inland to the river and risk the wrath of the mighty black river dragons which guarded the muddy banks. Destroying Lanikula’s hut wasn’t sufficient? Must the entire village pay for one woman’s transgression?
Shades, what if the Kali were in the same dire straits? What if the Toka not only had to contend with the river dragons, but the enemy Kali as well? Just for fresh water?
She raked her long hair out of her eyes with a shaking hand and stared up at the smoking tower of Mt. Veamalohi. It loomed over the landscape. She shivered. Though her grandmother had brought this on them, Afu willing mayhaps Maili could convince him to spare the rest of the villagers. Even Pilipo. He was a great warrior and if the Kali invaded again the Toka would need his leadership. If Maili was the price for Pilipo’s skills, she must yield for the sake of their people. Dream or no dream.
A tiny voice whispered in her ear as she continued to study the smoldering fyre mountain, urging her to go up. She could plead with Afu for mercy, for him to spare them. She shook at the thought. None but Katoa entered the sanctified temple antechamber. It was forbidden to women.
But she had to do something.
She glided through the silent jungle as if in a trance, her steps bringing her ever closer to the incline. Giant ferns shivered in her wake. She stared through the lush mantle at the snowy crown covering the fyre mountain. The temple lay just ahead. The dark shadowy chamber called to her. Her breath caught in her throat as she pulled back a prickly vine with blood-red flowers the size of her head, wincing as long sticky thorns pierced her skin. The pain was forgotten as she revealed the first of an endless ascension of hand-chiseled stone steps.
A bat-winged stone guardian—cat paws with claws extended, river-dragon head with snake fangs, long curling tree-man tail—guarded the way. Worn by the elements and ages, it was fearsome and beautiful. It eyed Maili’s approach. Her bloody hand trembled as she caressed its sun-warmed surface. The carved muscles seemed to ripple and shift at her touch. She cursed her overactive imagination as her blood soaked into the pitted surface. Naught more than a statue.
“I swear I come to you in peace.” She removed one of her fragrant plumeria leis and laid it across its lower jaw. “I just wish to speak to him.”
The guardian watched her begin the long climb to Afu’s temple.
Maili climbed ’til her heart pounded and she gasped for air. A stitch in her left side stabbed her with every breath. Her leg muscles burned. Sweat trickled betwixt her bare breasts. How did old Katoa make this arduous climb on a daily basis?
Surely her willingness and determination to complete the ascent proved her worthiness. Surely Afu would hear her plea.
The shadowy opening loomed ahead of her, flanked by two stone columns covered in incomprehensible chiseled symbols. A gust of heated air swept over her. The breath of Afu? Her skin prickled as she entered the forbidden antechamber. Shadows danced on the walls from the flickering reed torches. Her gaze froze on an immense, savage stone image in the far corner. All the blood drained from her face and the room spun. She tried to control her breathing as she dropped to her knees afore she swooned.
When she still breathed after several too-loud heartbeats she risked raising her head for a better look. A dozen entwined stone serpents seemed to lunge hissing at her from Afu’s head and his empty impassive eyes glared down at her from beneath heavy brows. His jutting jaw and open mouth revealed almost porcine lower tusks. The bulging muscles dwarfed even Pilipo’s and seemed so lifelike she wouldn’t have been surprised if Afu stomped toward her.
The fyre god was the most fiercely masculine being she’d ever seen.
She’d been mad to come to Afu’s temple. But Grandmother Lanikula’s transgression needed to be addressed and the demon-god appeased. Cold sweat slid over her skin even though it was hot as a roasting pit, and she shivered.
“Great Afu, god of fyre who creates and destroys, hear this humble maiden’s plea.” She rose, removed her remaining plumeria lei and draped it across his meaty stone fist. “I plead for my grandmother, Lanikula. Show mercy. Limit your show of anger to the destruction of her home. Leave my people be. They are blameless in this.”
She took off her shell-and-amber jewelry to lay at Afu’s feet. It was all she had to give. “She spoke in haste, but I swear she honors you. We apologize for disturbing your rest. Please, go back to sleep and leave us in peace to care for your home.”
A low rumbling came from deep within the mountain. A blast of hot sulfurous air blew out the torches. Maili choked on a whimper as the image of Afu pulsed with a rippling darkness. Every instinct screamed at her to run but she was frozen in place. With a screech that nigh made her ears bleed, the dark parted, rent like some great billowing curtain. The snakes writhed afore her. There was a clap of thunder as a huge, hard-muscled body was flung from the gap. She screamed as he knocked her flat, crushing her beneath his solid, burning weight.
Afu amongst them. The end of days had come.

Everything went black.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Don't Miss Cowboy Heat: Scorching Hot Anthology of Contemporary Romance

Fifteen hot authors... Fifteen scorching cowboys. Who could resist?

Check out COWBOY HEAT, the steamy anthology that is racing up the chats and garnering rave reviews.

I am delighted to be a part of this anthology! Read on for an excerpt of my contribution! A hard-boiled heroine who wants nothing to do with cowboys meets a man she simply cannot resist....in a Stetson.

A Cowboy for Delilah by Sabrina York

The last thing this independent, high-powered lawyer wants is a cowboy in her life, but one steamy kiss from a sexy rancher burns her resolve to a crisp



What a disaster. Delilah glared at her rental car in helpless frustration. She hated the feeling. She was hardly a frail, fragile woman. She prided herself on the fact that she was self-sufficient and didn't need anyone. Counting on others was, after all, a recipe for disappointment.
Hard, cold experience had taught her that.
Yet here she was. In the boondocks. In six-inch heels. With a flat tire.
Oh, she could change a fricking tire. Hell, she could rip out and refurbish a transmission. But the idiots at the wilderness rental car company hadn't bothered to put a jack in the trunk. She was resourceful…but not that resourceful.  Even if she could channel her MacGyveresque tendencies, there was nothing out on this barren plain she could use to lever her car up high enough to do the job.
So here she stood by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, in six-inch heels and without cell phone service—the epitome of a helpless woman. All she needed was slasher music and she could be the star of a horror flick.
A plume of dust blossomed on the horizon and her mood lifted. Oh, thank god. Someone was coming. No one had passed in the two hours since the blowout.
Hopefully, it wasn't a slasher.
The plume grew. A beat-up pickup topped one rise, and then the next. The truck rolled to a stop in front of her crippled Honda.
Oh. Lovely. Her savior had a gun rack.
Delilah covered her mouth and nose as the cloud of dust caught up with the truck and engulfed her. Angie’s birthday party had better be worth all this trouble.
She plastered a smile on her face and turned to greet the Good Samaritan. At least, she hoped he was a Good Samaritan. She was quite alone on this deserted stretch of road and—
Oh god.
He unfolded himself from the cab of his truck, and her breath wedged in her throat. He was enormous. And, judging from his ratty chambray shirt, shit-kicker boots and Stetson, he was a cowboy.
She hated cowboys. Selfish, misogynistic sons of bitches. Her fake smile threatened to become a very real grimace.
He stepped closer through the lingering cloud of dust, and Delilah’s heart ker-chunked. He was gorgeous. Not only was he tall—which she really liked in a man—he was big. Broad and brawny and muscular. His face was a dream from his heavily lashed brown eyes to the intriguing dent on his chin. She had to remind herself why cowboys and city girls didn't mix, but even that couldn't keep her from ogling his forearms. His sleeves were rolled up, just enough to give her a glimpse of defined veins and a sprinkling of dark hair. She loved veiny forearms.
Damn. Why couldn't he have been something other than a cowboy? Or, if he had to be a cowboy, why couldn't he have been an old one…with Dunlap syndrome—where his belly done lapped over his belt?
“Howdy.” His voice was deep and smoky.
Delilah couldn't appreciate the sultry timbre. Of all greetings in the universe, Howdy was her least favorite.
“Having some trouble?” He whipped off his Stetson to wipe his brow and thick black curls tumbled out.
Curls. Not fair. Why couldn't he be bald?
Delilah cleared her throat. “Flat tire.”
He glanced at her car. A dimple exploded on his cheek.
Dimples were her kryptonite.
“Would you like me to change it for you? You do have a spare?”
Yeah. There it was. Sure he was superhot, gorgeous and sexy as hell. But his patronizing tone squelched any simmering temptation she might have been harboring.
That’s how it was with cowboys, wasn't it? They saw all women as helpless, idiot creatures stumbling around in six-inch heels, batting their lashes and flashing their boobs and simpering.
Delilah was not a simperer. She was a fuck-you, take-no-prisoners, hard-core lawyer, who could take care of herself just fine.
But she did have a flat. And no jack. She kinda needed his help.
So she batted her lashes. “Um. I think there’s a tire thingy in the…what do you call it? Trunk?” She affected a Southern drawl and thrust out her boobage, just for good measure.
It annoyed her that he bought her act. And it kind of didn't. The bedazzled look in his eyes was a salve to her ego. After Trevor and all. It was nice to know she could still appeal to a man. Even a redneck cowboy.
He loped over to her car—yes, loped. She tried not to stare at his ass but his jeans were tight. It was a challenge to look elsewhere. He bent to search the trunk—again, a mighty fine ass—and stood, tipping back his Stetson. His profile, against the bird’s-egg-blue backdrop of the sky, stole her breath.
“There’s no jack.”
“No what?”
He sighed and headed for his truck, pulling out an impressively fancy jack. “This,” he said, “is a jack. You use it to lift the carriage up high enough to change the tire.”
It was so sweet the way he made his voice all slow and pedantic. You know, so she could understand. Idiot woman that she was.
“Gosh. You’re smart.” She probably didn't need to gush quite that much, but hell, she hated condescending men. Especially cowboys. But she might as well have fun with this.
He knelt and fitted the jack and started cranking. His muscles bunched, forearms bulging with each pump.
Delilah sighed, and told herself it was only a pretend sigh, but her gaze was riveted to the sight. “You are such a big, strong man.”
He flashed a grin at her.
Yeah. Of course he did. Men loved to be told how big and strong they were. She completely ignored the dimples erupting all over his bristled cheek. Did he never shave? “How can I ever repay you?”
He stilled. The glint in his eye was horrifying. Crap. Had she gone too far with her helpless female shtick? She was all alone. On a deserted highway. With an enormous Neanderthal cowboy.
When he tipped his head to the side, her trepidation vanished. He looked more like a mischievous boy than a mad rapist-slasher. “How about a kiss?”
Delilah blinked. “A…what?”
“A kiss. Just a little one.”
Her brain fogged over. And it wasn't horror at the prospect of a strange man demanding a kiss on the side of a deserted road that muddied the waters. It was pure exhilaration at the thought of his mouth devouring hers, those arms wrapping around her, that massive chest, warm and hard as he yanked her close…
Aw hell.
Why was she always attracted to the wrong guys? She wanted a man who liked opera and dreamed of traveling to Italy. Not a guy who listened to Country and Western music, spat chew into a bean can, and whose dream of an exciting evening was a night at the local bar playing pool.
“What do you say, ma’am? One kiss, in exchange for my…services?” When she hesitated, he repeated, “A little one.”
Why she nodded, she had no clue.
Well, she knew why she nodded—because she was incapable of speech.
Why she agreed was the mystery.
Then again, he was superhot. She ached to know how he tasted…and it wasn't as though they would ever see each other again. Besides, if things got out of hand, she had mace. And she knew how to use it.
At her assent, he sprang into action. It was astounding how quickly he changed that tire. He tossed the flat into the trunk, returned his jack to his truck and wiped his hands.
“All done.”
Her heart skittered as he stepped closer.
“Time for payment.”  

 “Mrs. Morgan and the Marshal” by Emma Jay A dalliance with the sexy town marshal makes a woman rancher question which she wants most, her independence or him

“Remember” by Mia Hopkins A jilted bride saddles up with the blazing-hot cowboy stripper hired for her cancelled bachelorette party

“Cowboy Downtime” by Cheyenne Blue Passion ignites at a polocrosse game in the Australian outback—she plays attack, he plays defense, and their sexy wager decides the winner

“Coming Home” by Megan Mitcham A busted-up rodeo champion finds the squirt he tormented in youth transformed into a fiery woman challenging him to become the man she deserves

“Her Captured Cowboy” by Layla Chase A lonely woman, ostracized by Colorado townspeople after years in Indian captivity, takes what she needs from a wandering cowboy

“Back Stage Pass” by Cynthia D’Alba A sexy night with a hired escort, who looks exactly like a woman’s favorite country singer, leaves her with a back stage pass and a lot of burning questions

“Unfinished Business” by Cat Johnson A class reunion gives one woman a second chance with a sultry cowboy from her past

“At the Mercy of the Cowboy” by Amber Lin A new farmhand finds rough living and an even rougher cowboy to soothe away her pain

“Cowboy Adonis” by Michael Bracken When a naked cowboy rises from a stock pond, a nature photographer’s assignment gets personal

“Denim and Lace” by Robie Madison One woman in a pair of rhinestone heels plus two sexy cowboys equals a highly combustible combination

“One Track Cowboy” by Delilah Devlin After tracking two lost hikers, a park ranger and a local rancher lose themselves to a wild passion

“Skin Deep” by Randi Alexander A pretty city girl and a scarred country cowboy discover love waits when you’re ready to look beneath the surface

“Drop Two Tears in a Bucket” by Shoshanna Evers Alone on her Montana cattle ranch after her husband divorces her, a woman finds satisfaction in the arms of the one cowboy she can’t resist

“A Cowboy for Delilah” by Sabrina York The last thing this independent, high-powered lawyer wants is a cowboy in her life, but one steamy kiss from a sexy rancher burns her resolve to a crisp

“Shall We Dance?” by Myla Jackson When a lonely woman gives private dance lessons to a shy, sexy cowboy, she stumbles on passion worth fighting for


Check out my Pintrest Page dedicated to these steamy hunks!

About Sabrina York

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York is the award winning author of over 20 hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to scorching BDSM. Connect with her on twitter @sabrina_york, on Facebook or on Pintrest. Check out Sabrina’s books and read an excerpt on Amazon or wherever e-books are sold. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Free Teaser Book: http://sabrinayork.com/home-2/sabrina-yorks-teaser-book/ And don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

Books by Sabrina York
Brigand (Erotic Regency, Ellora’s Cave) —Coming soon



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Did you ever have to DO HIM RIGHT? Cerise DeLand debuts tomorrow, 3/28!

She wants to kiss his booboo and make it better in Cerise DeLand’s DO HIM RIGHT.
Kissing his booboo won’t make it all better. But restoring his credibility and helping him build a new career might just do the trick. Shana Carpenter hustles to make Chet Stapleton king of the rodeo! Cerise DeLand shows a good girl how to do that in DO HIM RIGHT, her newest, out from EC Friday March 28. 
EC BUY LINK: http://www.ellorascave.com/do-him-right.html
 Shana Carpenter ruined rodeo champion Chet Stapleton years ago with hastily written words. Now a PR pro, she's engineered a plan to make amends. She'll successfully promote his rodeo, soothe her conscience and leave. Trouble is, she can't keep her hands off the smooth talker or call a halt to their smokin'-hot sex.
     Chet takes one glance at Shana and develops an itch to put his boots under her bed...permanently. He's won awards for taming willful fillies so he can't understand why he can't break Shana's stubborn refusal to open up to him.
The closer Shana gets to Chet, the more she wants to stay in his life and his bed. But to do that, she'll have to tell him everything—and risk his rejection. One thing is certain, if Shana doesn't put the past to rest, she'll never be able to grab the future—or the cowboy she wants most.

Excerpt: Copyright Cerise DeLand 2014, All rights reserved.
Scene takes place in Chet’s rodeo office in southwest Texas on a sweltering August morning.
“Miz Carpenter? Ma’am?” Chet Stapleton raised his voice, but he definitely sounded strained, as if he were strangling.
“Hmm?” She lifted her chin and shook back her shoulder-length, platinum curls.
He swallowed, loudly. “What’ll it be? Water? Soda?” He raised a hand to buzz his assistant on the intercom. “We have coffee too, if that’s your poison.”
“No.” You are. My fixation. Ever since, I wrote that article about you in the sports section of the Dallas paper four years ago. Ever since I printed a retraction, resigned for my foolishness and began to plan how I’d make more amends. Now I’m going even nuttier, contemplating how I can take you into my bed and kiss the hurt away.
She squeezed her labia together and felt a trickle of perspiration wend its way between her breasts.
“Water. Cool water. Please.”
“Two waters, Reata,” he told his assistant as he squinted at Shana and looked for all the world like a guy who was trying to concentrate.
Shana would have laughed, but the lure of him had her wiggling forward in her chair to try to massage her pulsing cunt. Four years ago she had been frightened by her response to his languid cowboy sexuality. She’d been young, twenty-two, in her first job at a newspaper and so naïve, both professionally and sexually. Since she’d ruined Chet, she’d corrected both lacks. Now she thoroughly examined whatever she did before she opened her mouth or typed one word. To complement that, she also knew what she liked in men. Honest, forthright, funny. Still no man yet had rung her bells more than a few times. Hunky, jovial Chet Stapleton could definitely compete.
The man was drool worthy. With his bronzed skin, that sun-kissed shock of yellow-gold hair hanging over his forehead, he was the epitome of testosterone. His rock-hewn features with generous lips and a mellow bass voice melted her into a puddle of foolish desire. No past lover could compare . Sometimes when she felt really low and foolish, she put down this lack in her life to a penance for doing him wrong and declaring he was a hothead with the judges.
Once more, regret flooded her, and she reprimanded herself. She was here to use her brains to heal the wounds she’d made. She had not come here to use her body to confuse the issue. She had to stop thinking like a horny lunatic.
Stifling a moan, she bent and dug through her briefcase for her copy of the PR proposal. All thumbs, she couldn’t find the thing.
His tone was husky. Dark and suggestive. She looked up to see Chet devouring her with those wide green eyes, his look hypnotic, his mouth parting. A vision of him using that mouth to tantalize her sensitive nipples made her groan.
“Chair not comfortable?” he asked, suddenly solicitous.
“Oh. No. No, no. I’m fine. Chair’s fine.” Brain’s dead, but my pussy’s on fire.
“Here’s your water,” he said, sounding relieved when his assistant walked in, handed both to him then shut the door behind her.
He sprang up to give Shana one of the bottles. “Would you like a glass? Ice?”
“No. Thanks.” Shana stuck out her hand. “Water’s good. No glass.”
But when he reached out to give it to her, her fingers touched his, and this time, the shock was electric. Riveting.
She yelped.
He clamped her hand to his rock-hard chest and rubbed her fingers. “Christ, sorry. You okay?”
“Sure.” She stared up at him, automatically reaching out to caress her own burning hand and, in the process, his ribs too. “Are you hurt?”
“Feels like nothing I’ve ever known before.” He put his other hand on top of hers and stroked her from fingertips to forearm as if she were a cat in heat.
“This has never happened to me before either.” I’ve never met a man I wanted within minutes of meeting him. I’m too cerebral, my friend Liz says. Too careful. But you I want soon.
His voice was a rasp when he drew her up. “Let me make it up to you.”
Five Regencies Release in Next 3 Weeks!
Then, hold on to your hat, because Cerise has 5 Regencies on the shelves in the next 3 weeks!
Yes, FIVE.
First, a box set of 4 spicy Regencies about a family that endures a curse upon those who dare to love. Doomed to failure, four brothers in the Stanhope family fall for wonderful women…and fear the end of their love affairs because of a tragic curse.
Still, lured by the women they adore, they cannot turn them away.
Four men, four brides, four marriages fight the test of The Stanhope Challenge, A Regency Quartet!

Then in her new series of Regency Romps, Cerise debuts Lady Varney’s Risqué Business.
Oh, yes, Lady Varney runs a very risqué business, arranging “interviews” for marriageable young toffs to meet ladies acceptable to their tastes…and their proclivities.  But when newly minted Earl Justin Belmont appears in her drawing room, wishing to hire her services for that precise reason, she balks.

How can she possibly find Justin the best bride when her heart says it should be she…and he demands she be among those he “interviews”?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The Delights of Travel

Ever since my first trip to Europe when I was 17 years old, I've been in love with the historic atmosphere of the Old World. I didn't know what “old” meant until then. I thought it was old buildings that needed to be torn down so that newer, more modern buildings could be built. But when I walked into my first European cathedral, I got it. Kings and queens were christened, married, crowned, and buried there. Important historical events took place there. The high, vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and richly appointed chapels all contribute to the pervasive aura of spirituality, as though populated with remnants of long-dead worshipers.

Leeds Castle
And then there are castles and graveyard and ruins of civilizations that existed thousands of years ago. There are museums galore, with treasures from all periods and places in the world. Medieval villages with thatched-roof cottages. And cultural activities, such as theaters and concerts, or people-watching in a park or pub.

And who doesn't enjoy the beauty of nature? Seascapes, rolling hills, lakes, brightly-colored flowers, and neatly-trimmed hedgerows along the side of the road are always pleasurable to see. The smell of the countryside and the sounds of the birds. The taste of genuine fish 'n chips or a Cornish pasty. The touch of a statue, such as the one of Beau Brummell outside the Burlington Arcade.

Beau Brummell
As a historical author, I am fascinated by all these things. It all combines to give me a feeling of what it was like to live hundreds or thousands of years ago. I can get it from reading historical books—fiction and nonfiction—but it's ever so much more vivid to be there. I learned this from my study-abroad jaunts during my teaching career, and now that I'm an author of historical fiction centered on the British Isles, I know being there will provide a new layer of authenticity to my writing.

My 2014 Adventure

While I've enjoyed my short visits to London the past two years, this year I'm planning a longer stay. I've rented a flat on Baker Street—an area I know well from having stayed at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel on past visits—for a whole month! This area is centrally located with easy access to public transportation, and comes with a kitchen, laundry facilities, a rooftop terrace, Wifi, and even the use of a UK cell phone! This doesn't come cheap, but it's a whole lot cheaper than staying in a hotel!

The plan is to visit as many places in London as possible, but I will be traveling outside the city at least a few times. One place is Leeds Castle in Kent, which features in my current WIP. Another is Chatsworth in Devon, where I have rented a room at the Devonshire Arms—one of the outbuildings on the Chatsworth estate—for my birthday! And I'll be visiting the Pavilion in Brighton as well. If I can, I'd like to visit several places in Yorkshire as well, but that might have to wait for another time. London itself is full of wonderful historically-significant places, even though the appearances have changed a great deal over time.

Travel is a wonderful way to gain a world perspective. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to see what the rest of the world is like…and used to be like. Most travelers I know agree that their travels have fundamentally changed their attitudes about other people and cultures.

What are your travel plans for 2014? In what way has travel abroad changed the way you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Susana's Releases

She's a country lady. He's a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions. 

About Susana

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) 
Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy New Release Day!

I'm so happy to be posting today on the release say of Charming the Vicar's Daughter! This was such a fun story to write, introducing a new member of the extended Lumley family and the woman he falls for. Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Charming the Vicar's Daughter!

What’s a gentleman to do when the local Widows’ League insists on a marriage over a simple misunderstanding? How does he honor his family name without damaging that of a vicar’s daughter?  For Neil Harrow, the journey to obtain a matched pair of horses for his new curricle has taken a wrong turn. While his uncle is not insisting Neil marry Rebecca Cookson, in his heart he knows it’s the thing to do.

Rebecca wants nothing to do with the popinjay who came to her aid, no matter how the situation appeared. The meddling old widows are a formidable opponent, but Rebecca will do everything in her power to avoid such an ill-suited match. As charming Mr. Harrow might be, Patience is determined to only marry a man she can love with all her heart.

An Excerpt:

March 1811
Bridgethorpe Village, Cheshire, England

Neil Harrow was ready to cross the final item off his checklist. Once his cousin found him the proper pair of carriage horses, Neil could journey to London. There awaited the curricle he’d ordered with red wheels and leather squabs, thus forming the need for said horses. He was beyond eager to take up residence in the rooms he’d leased in Albany house. 

His cousin, David Lumley, had other things on his mind. Neil had never seen him so distracted. Insisting they stop in the village before arriving at Bridgethorpe Manor, David had practically leaped from the carriage as it rolled to a halt in front of the vicar’s cottage. “I won’t be long,” he called out, slamming the carriage door behind him.

Neil shook his head, feeling no better than a servant in the way his cousin neglected to invite him to go along. Looking out the window at the village, he plucked at the seam of his gloves where the threads had worn thin. Now was as good a time as any to look for a new pair.

He opened the door and stepped out, grateful to be on unmoving ground after three days of travel from the Fernleigh Stud in Newmarket. They had slept in inns along the way, but those beds were never as comfortable as his at home. The air was crisp, clear, as if winter hadn’t fully given up despite the narcissus bulbs coming into bloom along the vicar’s walkway.

Neil walked up the road a short distance, grateful for the recent lack of rain that made for a dry road. The shops were on the main street, not far from the vicar’s cottage, and he soon had a new pair of riding gloves as well as some cotton evening gloves the proprietor assured him were all the rage in London. Taking his package, along with the sack of peppermint drops for his cousins, he began to walk back toward the carriage. As he strolled, he heard a voice from nearby. A sweet, cajoling, very feminine voice.

“Come, you minx. Be a dear and come into my arms.”

Neil paused, his attention fully engaged. He should leave the lovers to themselves, but the voice was like a siren’s call. She continued to utter small cooing sounds, each sound causing his imagination to summon the most delightful vision. Curiosity won out over the lovers’ need for privacy, and he stepped through a break in the hedgerow to take a closer look.

A ladder leaned against a bare black poplar tree, and the owner of that lovely voice stood high on its rungs, reaching into the branches. The object of her entreaty sat just beyond her reach. A brown tabby, its expression more bored than frightened, yawned and stretched out a single paw.

It wasn’t the scene he expected to find, to be sure.

The young woman’s boots were barely perched on the ladder rung, and her petticoat peeked beneath the hem of her skirts, delicate lace edging and all. “Minxy, come, kitty.”

She looked ready to topple the ladder. Neil’s gut tightened with each stretch of her arm, certain she would fall. He couldn’t stand there and allow that to happen. He approached the ladder. “Might I be of assistance?”

The slender young woman didn’t even deign to look his way. “Thank you, no, I’m not in need of help.” She reached up higher, fingers wiggling at the cat.

Rather than resting his eyes on her derriere, Neil studied her boots, which were even with his chest. Worn, but well made, they most likely didn’t belong to a servant. He looked around but saw no maid chaperoning the young lady. She must live in one of the nearby cottages. Her precarious, leaning perch concerned him. “It’s no trouble, I assure you. I can climb up there and bring him down.”

She didn’t budge. “Her. Minx is a she. And she doesn’t care for men.”

“Ah, forgive me.” He glanced at the cat, his lack of sleep making him rather silly at the moment. “My apologies, Miss Minx, for mistaking your sex. If you’ll come down, I shall buy you a saucer of cream.”

Now the lady pivoted, offering him a look that questioned his sanity. “I thank you for your offer, but I must insist you leave, or my cat will never come down.”

He couldn’t walk away from a woman standing on a ladder. Yet the cat looked comfortable enough to remain in place until summer. “Will you allow me to fetch a servant? A maid, perhaps, to climb the tree for you? Or a large footman to catch you when you fall?”

Her eyes no longer questioned his hold on reality. “Is this some manner of flirtation you employ? Your time is wasted on me. Be on your way.”

The boredom he’d sought to relieve melted away. Like the dish of sugarplums Cook kept from his reach when he was a boy, conversation with this young lady became too tempting to resist. “My time is mine to waste. I cannot be on my way until my cousin returns, so I might as well bide the moments here as anywhere.”

The girl squinted as she studied him. “Who is your cousin?”

“Mr. Lumley. His family lives nearby.”

“Ah, now I see who you are, and I understand. Will you badger me until I relent and let you play the gallant hero?”

Neil tipped his head at that news. Which of his cousins would be annoyingly persistent like that? Sam and Trey were both of an age to flirt with a young lady such as this, who appeared close to Neil’s twenty four years. Did either of them have an affection for her? She was more than pleasant to look upon, even with a frown marring her smooth peach-tinted skin. The brim of her beribboned hat shaded her eyes, but they were dark, like the curls framing her face. A beauty, she was. He suddenly needed to know if she was married. “I do not wish to badger you. Say the word and I shall summon your husband to play hero for you.”

Her expression went bland. "I do not seek a hero. I only with to be left to my own devices. Will you kindly be on your way?"

So, she was a worthy adversary, all the better. “I could not bear to later hear a young miss had died of a broken neck because no one had helped her fetch her kitten from a tree.”

She continued to gaze on him with no humor.

Available at: Amazon & Barnes and Noble