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New sweet romance, “The Billionaire’s Marriage Contract,” from Melody Archer

Billionaire Jack Stevenson has hardened his heart to love. The town calls him the Beast of Paradise Lake. So most of the time, he stays hidden in his mansion on the hill.

But, his great-grandfather’s will states he must marry in 60 days to receive his inheritance… the Silver Mine that he’s wanted since childhood.

Beautiful Bella Campbell is determined to prove her independence to her father.

But, with her Dad’s sudden heart attack, she is forced her to finish his design contract with the beastly Jack Stevenson.

Love wasn’t part of the plan.

It’s only for one year. What could possibly go wrong with a marriage contract?

If you like strong but wounded heroes and feisty but scarred heroines, you’ll love this marriage-of-convenience sweet romance!

Click below or on the cover to:  Buy your copy today or Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

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Release day for Book #1 of my new series, PAWS for Romance: “Rescuing the Single Dad”!

It’s been a work-in-progress for a while now, so I’m thrilled it’s finally release day for the first book in my new series, PAWS for Romance! The title is Rescuing the Single Dad and it’s available now on Amazon. It’ll also be free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers! Please check it out now…thanks! ~ Kadee

PAWS for Romance #1: Rescuing the Single Dad

Blurb:

Will Erin and Jason find their “forever homes” in each other’s hearts?

As the director of PAWS, the “Pearson Animal Welfare Society,” Erin Pearson stays busy helping stray and surrendered pets find the “forever homes” they deserve. The small-town animal shelter was the life’s work of her beloved grandmother, but when a million-dollar donation to a new building project is embezzled, Erin fears the scandal will be the end of PAWS.

The drive up from San Antonio to the beautiful Texas Hill County to adopt a dog for his daughter is no more than an inconvenience for financial advisor and single dad, Jason Blaine. That is, until he meets the lovely director of PAWS. When Erin later asks for his help in tracking down the consultant who made off with the donation, Jason couldn’t say no even if he wanted to. Erin is warm and approachable… everything his late wife Valerie wasn’t. But Jason is sure that Valerie’s wealthy parents won’t hesitate to sue for custody of their granddaughter if he starts dating again and not devoting every spare minute to being a dad.

Will Erin and Jason track down the missing million in time to save PAWS and her family’s good name? Caught between the fear of losing his little girl and the hope of a promising new romance, will Jason allow Erin to rescue him, too, even though he only has two legs instead of four?

Rescuing the Single Dad is book #1 in the clean contemporary romance series, PAWS for Romance. Book #2, Catering to Love is coming soon.

Buy link:  PAWS for Romance Book #1: Rescuing the Single Dad

 

Christmas traditions in the time of Jane Austen

Regency Christmas dinner complete with pudding

The Regency period of English history was technically only the years 1811-1820, but practically ran the adult life of King George IV, from the late 1700’s through to 1830, and is sometimes referred to today known as the “long Regency.” Christmas in those days was most definitely not the commercial holiday we celebrate today. There was no mad rush to shop for the latest gadgets, no stockings hung by the fire with care, and certainly no white-bearded gentleman with a sleigh and reindeer flying through the night skies.

Attending church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day was a must for the English in Regency times, although only a few of the carols we sing now would have been sung in church then as hymns, such as The First Nowell.(Yes, that spelling is the correct one!)

Instead of everyone looking forward to just December 24th or the 25th, a Regency Christmas was a much longer celebration of dancing and dining spread out over the period of ‘Christmastide,’ from Christmas Eve to January 6th, Twelfth Night. (Hence, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’)

Preparations, however, began long before December 24th. ‘Stir-up Sunday,’ the Sunday before Advent, marked the unofficial start to the Christmas Season, so-called because of the traditional church service held that day, but also becoming the day that Christmas puddings and cakes were prepared, in order to allow enough time for them to ‘mature’ (which called for regular doses of brandy!)

Jane AustenChristmas was a time to reflect upon one’s religious faith and to enjoy the companionship of friends and family. Jane Austen mentions Christmas in each of her six major novels. For instance, in Emma, she wrote, “At Christmas everybody invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.” In addition, the aristocracy and the landed gentry were expected to entertain their tenants and neighbors and show generosity through charitable acts.

During the four-week period from Advent until Epiphany, the upper classes held balls, parties, dinners and other social events, welcoming both family and friends. Since everyone was usually together, it was also a time for courtships and weddings. Even though there was no Santa Claus, December 6th, St. Nicholas’s Day, was marked by the giving of small gifts. There was no exchange of presents on the 25th itself, but giving ‘Christmas Boxes’ of food and gently-used items of clothing and household goods to servants and to charity was the custom on St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, now celebrated as ‘Boxing Day.’

Holly, ivy, evergreen and laurel were brought into the house on Christmas Eve, since it was considered unlucky to bring greenery inside before Christmas. These remained in place until the Epiphany on January 6, when they were taken down and often burned to prevent bad luck for the rest of the year. Indoor decorated trees were rare and found only in a few houses of wealthy families with German connections, where they were a long-standing tradition.

Of course, we can’t forget mistletoe, although the custom was more likely practiced below stairs than above. (The requirement of plucking a berry every time a kiss was stolen beneath the bough was already in place, and once the berries were gone, alas, the kissing was over.)

Christmas Day meant Christmas dinner, with the best a family could afford…turkey, goose (the most traditional), mutton, or venison might be served, and for the rich, the table could be laden with all of these at once. A Christmas dinner would not be deemed complete without the aforementioned pudding. The pudding would be doused with even more brandy and then set aflame, a key theatrical aspect of the holiday celebration.

(For the brave of heart among you, or for those who just enjoy setting their food on fire, some traditional holiday pudding recipes can be found at: http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/a/xmaspud.htm )

Epiphany on January 6th marked the official end of Christmas festivities. It was yet another feast day to mark the coming of the Magi, and as a result was the traditional day to exchange gifts.

Joseph-Grimaldi_1630699cOne final English Christmas tradition that was present in Jane Austen’s time and is still alive today is the Christmas pantomime. The pantomime usually opened on Boxing Day. Joseph Grimaldi, the famous clown who lived from 1779 to 1837, regularly performed in one at Drury Lane Theatre in London, a theatre often visited by characters in Regency romances.

A new anthology “Short & Sweet” 10-minute Romances to Warm Your Heart!

I’m happy to announce the release of a new anthology that I’m so pleased to be a part of. The title is Short & Sweet: 10-Minute Romances to Warm Your Heart. Visiting today to tell you all about it is one of my anthology partners, Yvonne Weers, who created this pretty cover and really did all the heavy lifting on this collection. ~ Kadee

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Thank you, Kadee, for inviting me to share the story of how our anthology came to be.

My history with these authors began a year ago, when an email went out on a writers’ loop that someone wanted to form a critique group specifically targeting a popular woman’s magazine. I expressed an interest in joining and they welcomed me with open arms.

Over the following year, five of us wrote, critiqued, and submitted many stories. Then tragedy struck when one of our members, Karen, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

The shock of losing a friend affected everyone and the group’s activity came to a sudden stop. After a time of grieving, I offered to organize, format and publish a collection of our short stories and dedicate it to Karen. This project has not only provided a sense of closure for everyone but has also had the unexpected benefit of producing a joyful celebration of our collective talents.

Today, I’m honored to share Short & Sweet: 10-Minute Romances to Warm Your Heart, a collection of short stories written by Kadee McDonald, Bonny Dahlsrud, Beth Boyden, and myself, releasing today, June 15th. I hope you enjoy our anthology as much as we enjoyed bringing them to you.

Yvonne Weers is a California transplant living in rural Nebraska with her husband of 33 years. Together they have two adult children, a daughter-in-law, and three crazy doodle dogs. She spent childhood summers lounging on beaches, riding horses, and has lived in South Africa and Taiwan. Yvonne writes wholesome romance for the cowgirl at heart. Check out her author bio at: Yvonne’s Amazon Author Page

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Short & Sweet: 10-Minute Romances to Warm Your Heart is AVAILABLE NOW!

Click here to download your copy today!

Do you love reading sweet romance, but can never find the time for a nice long novel or even a shorter novella? This volume of 20 quick love stories from four talented authors is the answer! Read one (or more!) at lunch, on a coffee break, while riding the bus to work, or even while waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office. a matchmaking grandma hopes to knit two hearts into one. A guy meets his dream girl on a commuter train, but a misunderstanding causes a sticky situation. Mistaken identity at a library leads to a new romance. And a meeting of The Red Hat Society brings two sweethearts back together after time and distance have kept them apart. Settle back and savor these short, sweet romances guaranteed to warm your heart. Enjoy! ♥

A Short History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has always been celebrated with candy, flowers and greeting cards, some heartfelt and others sappy, right? ??

Well, no…not exactly.

There really was a St. Valentine…at least a dozen or so of them, in fact, depending on whether one consults the lists of martyrs of the Roman Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox Church. The name “Valentine” (or “Valentinus”) is from the Latin word, valens, meaning “strong.”

The simple feast (or Commemoration) of St. Valentine in the Roman Martyrology, the Catholic Church’s official list of recognized saints, has traditionally been February 14th, reportedly the date in the year 273 when Bishop Valentine of the Diocese of Terni (in what is now Italy), was imprisoned and killed in Rome.

The truth behind the legends of this particular St. Valentine are murky, to say the least. In 3rd century Rome, Emperor Claudius II believed that young men who were single, without the encumbrances of wives or children, were more dedicated, so he forbade his young soldiers from marrying. Bishop Valentine defied this decree and continued to perform marriages, a stand that cost him his life.

The first recorded connection of St. Valentine to the concept of “romantic love” was in the poem by Geoffrey Chaucer, Parlement of Foules, in 1382, which was written to celebrate the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, who were married when each was but 15 years old. (Without doing any further research, methinks that might have been an arranged marriage.)

Later writers such as John Donne and Shakespeare (in “Hamlet”) also mention Valentine’s Day. By 1797, a British publisher printed The Young Man’s Valentine Writer, with a number of suggested verses for young lovers who felt they were not capable of composing their own. By the early 1800’s, the Regency period in England, factory-produced paper valentines became popular, with fancy ones adorned with real cloth lace and ribbons for those who could afford them. It was also common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange handwritten notes and small tokens of affection.

Real lace became paper lace by the mid-1800’s. In the United States, Esther Howland received an English valentine from one of her father’s business associates. Since her father operated a book and stationery store, Esther decided to create and mass produce valentines in the late 1840’s, using decorations imported from England, and is known as the “Mother of the Valentine.”

Hand-written valentines thus led to greeting cards, which paved the way for Valentine’s Day to become the commercialized, multi-billion-dollar industry it is today. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. Paper cards, e-cards, flowers, chocolates, and even diamonds are now necessary accoutrements each February 14th to go along with those three little words that never seem to go out of style: “I love you.”

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If you enjoy reading traditional Regency romance, please check out my free novella, An Arranged Valentine, available only on Amazon and through Kindle Unlimited. Here’s a bit about it:

An Arranged Valentine - revised 1-31-2016

In the coldest days of February, can St. Valentine generate enough heat to melt these two strangers’ hearts into one?

“…a perfectly lovely afternoon read.”

“This is a wonderful little gem of a story, heartfelt and touching.”

“Of course, the over riding situation is one where it suits both parties to be arranged.”

“An Arranged Valentine” is a traditional Regency romance novella told in 10 short chapters.

Miss Penelope Braxton has never met either sensible George Harburton or his more dashing younger brother, Henry, but she agrees to grant her dying father peace of mind by considering marriage to one of them.

The advantage of the match for the brothers is evident in the form of Miss Braxton’s substantial dowry. However, her money takes second place when the brothers realize the extent of Penelope’s courage, wit, and devotion.

Henry doesn’t plan to give up his philandering to romance Penelope. George’s days are filled with the running of the family estate and he has never put aside his duties long enough to contemplate marriage. When one of the gentlemen changes his ways, will he be able to compose the perfect poetry to win Penelope’s heart?

An Arranged Valentine can be found here on Amazon.

“Mail Order Love” – short clean western romance series from author Beth Boyden

The Gambler’s Girl

What if your long-distance sweetheart was an up-close disaster?

Ann Forsyth arrives in Texas on a hot summer day. She’s left her troubles far behind, and all she wants is to settle down with Reichard Monroe. He’s handsome, his penmanship is good, and he says he’s everything she’s dreamed of.

But the stories he told and the man she meets have nothing in common.

Ann finds herself relying on strangers and her own wits and character, as she tries to piece together a new life in the west. And when another man catches her eye, she must find her way between duty, self-preservation…

…and hope.

The Minister’s Match

Clara wants nothing more than to start over. Her Aunt Francis and Uncle Lyle have supported her since her parents’ death, but their house is a suffocating environment full of judgment and conflict.

When she begins to correspond with Rev. Holloway, a Texas minister in want of a wife, she knows she’s found her way out. Before long she’s on a train headed West, certain that she can begin a brand new life.

But with her aunt’s angry, condemning voice echoing in her head, Clara finds that it’s not so easy to get a fresh beginning. There are gossipy congregants, well-meaning friends, her sweet new husband, and her own ideals to consider, all pulling her in different directions. She’s about to find out if she can bend far enough to please everyone…or if she’ll shatter under the strain.

The Schoolteacher’s Sweetheart

Marian Yates wants something more out of life–romance, adventure, excitement. She longs to step out of the dull everyday routine of her Texas schoolteacher’s life and fall in love with a stranger.

In Brody Calhoun, she seems to have found her perfect match. He’s tall, dark, and handsome, with a thousand stories from far beyond her tiny hometown. He’s mysterious and unpredictable, exactly like the heroes in Marian’s favorite books.

But Brody is haunted by more than memories. And when his past comes between them, Marian must discover his secrets–or lose the man she loves forever.

 

Buy Links:

The Gambler’s Girl: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D0TJ0NU

The Minister’s Match: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M29ACYD

The Schoolteacher’s Sweetheart: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1ZZ1RB

 

My review of The Gambler’s Girl:

“The Gambler’s Girl” is a lovely, clean western romance. It’s short and easy to read, with characters you’ll care about and root for. Ann is pretty and sweet, and her handsome hero gallant and swoon-worthy. If you like western romance, you’ll enjoy this one, for sure. 🙂 ~ Kadee

“Trouble Cove,” sweet historical romantic suspense from author Nancy Lindley-Gauthier

Trouble Cove from Nancy 3-9-2017

 

BLURB:

Far from the all the action of World War I, in a charming tourist’s spot on Cape Breton Island, Elizabeth Eames has stumbled into the most wonderful man in the world. She’s landed herself in a world where wealth reigns supreme; where any eligible bachelor would meet her mother’s aspirations. Of course, she’s dead set on the one she’s certain should not be mentioned in her letters home. Actually, there’s a lot she’s not mentioning. Something is not-quite-right at the grand resort Oceanside, but Elizabeth isn’t giving up her one great chance…

 

BUY LINKS:  AMAZON  B&N.com  Wild Rose Press-paperback

 

“Making the change to e-books” from author Carol Browne

I’m very happy today to welcome author Carol Browne, who’s here to share her epiphany about e-readers and why she’s now a believer. Carol, the site is all yours!

Photo by adamr.

Thanks, Kadee!

As a voracious book reader, I have lived my life believing in the superiority of the printed book; then my beta-reader kindly gave me her Kindle. Once I had figured out how to use it (three weeks well spent), my perspective underwent a sea change.

When I bought my first eBook and saw it download to my Kindle, it was a magical moment. I was also delighted to discover the device doubles as a flash drive.

There’s something amazing about travelling around with an entire library of books at your disposal and in these days of multi-tasking, being able to read, eat and drink at the same time in total comfort is most welcome. To someone like me on a low income, the availability of cheap or free eBooks is a blessing too.

From an eco-friendly point of view, no trees are cut down to make eBooks. Digital publishing also allows more authors to put their work before the reading public, often publishing great work that traditional publishers have rejected because they aren’t commercial enough.

I once assumed the device itself would be a distraction but, if you’re an avid bookworm, the body of an e-reader is no more of an intrusion than the body of a paperback; no more of a hindrance to your enjoyment than a screen is when you are watching a good movie.

Many will disagree. A teenage friend of mine prefers printed books because he likes the act of turning the pages. For me, the Kindle’s page-turning function is quicker and easier. Plus, you can say good-bye to the exasperation of having your bookmark fall out and not being able to remember where you were up to.

Meanwhile, another friend of mine is changing her opinion about eBooks. While moving to a smaller house, she regretted her vast collection of paperbacks that would have to be accommodated in less space—and then discovered many of them were moldy and infested with mites. Yuk. She’ll be buying her first Kindle soon!

There is still a place for printed books in my home. I have about a dozen I will always cherish, but these books belong to an exclusive club. It’s unlikely I’ll be adding new members.

Unless they’re written by me, of course!

Carole Browne writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover. Stay connected with Carol on Facebook and on Twitter.

Memorial Day in the United States

Today, let’s join with my fellow author Stan Hampton in remembering those who have served and those who have fallen in the service of the United States. We pray that everyone has a safe Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day

by SS Hampton, Sr.

Today is Memorial Day. It is a 3-day weekend for much of the country—a weekend of family get-togethers, BBQs, and great sales. That is fine.

But please do not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day. Though there had been several local observances, a national Decoration Day was created by “an organization of Union veterans” on 5 May 1868, to be observed on 30 May of that year by the nation in “decorating the graves of war dead with flowers.”

It was after World War I that Memorial Day came to recognize all of those who fought and died in America’s wars. From the American Revolution (1775-1783) to Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991), the total American combat deaths number 651,031; the greatest number of war dead was 291,557 suffered by the Greatest Generation during World War II (1941-1945) .

As for the Global War On Terrorism (2001-), or the Long War as some may call it, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, 5,363 men and women have died in combat.

Unfortunately, the world is not a safe and secure place. Yet, we know that in our nation there will never be a shortage of uniformed volunteers willing to stand between unarmed men, women, and innocent children, and the senseless evil in the world.

On Memorial Day this year remember the “National Moment of Remembrance”—at 3:00 PM local time across the country, everyone is encouraged to take a moment to reflect on those who have given their lives for our country. Whatever war they fought in, all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice have names, whether those names loom large in history books or are known only to their families.

And some of us know the names of comrades who made that sacrifice during the GWOT.

Finally, if you have never heard Taps, the final farewell to fallen comrades, take a moment to listen. Take a moment to remember, and to whisper, “Good bye. And thank you.”

~Stan

 

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently enrolled as an art student at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus PressEdge Science Fiction & Fantasy PublishingMelange Books – MuseItUp PublishingGoodreads Author Page – Amazon Author PageAmazon UK

“Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention” from best-selling author Claire Cook

Reinvention - Claire CookAfter giving us eleven novels in fourteen years, Claire Cook (Must Love Dogs) has reinvented herself once again with her first nonfiction book—Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way).

Wondering how to get to that life you really thought you’d be living by now? Finally ready to dig up that buried dream? Still trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up? Then Never Too Late is the book you’ve been looking for.

Claire Cook speaks to real women—our fears and obstacles and hopes and desires—and gives us cutting edge tools to get where we want to go. Bursting with inspiration, insider stories, and practical strategies. Filled with humor, heart, encouragement, and great quotes.

You’ll hop on a plane with Claire as you figure out the road to your own reinvention. She’ll share her own stories, successes, and failures, as well as those of other reinventors, plus tips for getting a plan, staying on track, pulling together a support system, building your platform in the age of social networking, dealing with the inevitable ups and downs, overcoming perfectionism, and tuning in to your authentic self to propel you toward your goals.

A little bit memoir, a lot inspiration, Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) is real, grounded, and just the book you need to start reinventing your life.

Claire shares the opening of Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) on YouTube.

Find out more at ClaireCook.com and connect with Claire on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Claire Cook

Claire Cook wrote her first book in her minivan outside her daughter’s swim practice when she was 45. At 50, she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of her second novel, Must Love Dogs, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack. She is now the USA Today bestselling author of 11 novels, and her first nonfiction book, Never Too Late: Your Roadmap to Reinvention (without getting lost along the way) is now available. Read excerpts of her novels and find book club questions at ClaireCook.com.

“The exuberant and charming Claire Cook is one of the sassiest and funniest creators of contemporary women’s fiction.”—The Times-Picayune

Hang out with Claire!
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