Music Monday

Music Monday – Grace (Ireland)

We danced to this Irish song at our wedding, over the objections of the Irish band we’d hired. Why did they object? Because the song is a true story, and it’s tragic. Most Irish songs are sad. In fact, CK Chesterson wrote that the Irish were mad, for “all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad.”

But the song, Grace, is an inspiration for my tag line as a writer: Stories of Forever Love. Because love transcends all, including death. This is a song about Irish freedom fighter Joseph Plunkett, who was a young poet in poor health, and his fiancée, Grace Gifford. Joseph was arrested after joining his friends in the Easter Uprising in Dublin in 1916, a failed attempt to expel the British from Ireland that forever changed Irish history. He was executed for his efforts, but, on the eve of his execution, the British allowed him to marry his love, Grace Gifford, in the chapel of Kilmainham jail in Dublin. To me, that is forever love – marrying your beloved with that knowledge hanging over you.

How much do I love this song? I’ve seen this singer, Tommy Byrne of the Wolfe Tones, sing it live on multiple occasions. I’ve sung it myself in several countries (including Ireland!). I’ve stood in the chapel of the Kilmainham jail in Dublin where they were wed. I’ve seen the ring Joseph placed on Grace’s finger. I’ve stood where he died. I’ll be singing it at our St. Patrick’s party this weekend. I may be a bit obsessed with this Irish story of forever love. And I hope you enjoy listening to it. Erin Go Bragh!

Cover Reveal, The Life She Wants, The Writing Life

Cover Reveal: The Life She Wants

Cover Life She WantsIt’s here! The cover for my June Harlequin Superromance, The Life She Wants has arrived! Meet sports agent Shane Brannigan (with that gorgeous ginger hair!) and former supermodel Melanie (Mel) Lowery. Harlequin did a great job capturing the characters as I pictured them in my mind. And look at the smiles they have for each other!

As authors, we have limited input on covers. Sure, we give the publisher tons of information on the characters and even the scenes we think might make good covers. We send photos of people we think look like our characters. And then we wait. And wait. And when the cover appears, we say a little prayer before we look at it. This one really works for me–especially the chemistry between them.

I will admit, though, I have no idea where that backpack came from! In the book, Shane is a Boston “city-boy” who has a hard time embracing small town life in Gallant Lake. He complains about the lack of proper streetlights on remote mountain roads.

So I’ve decided this is “Future Shane” on the cover. Beyond the happily-ever-after, Shane obviously takes up backpacking in the Catskill Mountains that surround Gallant Lake. I’d follow this guy down a mountain trail anytime, wouldn’t you?

Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

A First Kiss: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora Checklist (1)

I am all about first kisses this month! This week, I’m sharing the all-important first kiss from Nora’s Guy Next Door (The Lowery Women Book 2). This is a Seasoned Romance, with both Nora and Asher in their forties, so they’re not new to this kissing game. But this kiss is different. With her daughter pregnant with his son’s baby, things are beyond messy. Falling for each other will complicate the family dynamics even further. And yet here they are, right or wrong, no longer able to deny the incredible chemistry between them.

……………………………………..
Asher’s lips were hard and tender at the same time as Nora pushed up onto her toes and kissed him. She kissed him! Because he was right.

She wanted this as much as he did.

At first they were gentle, tentative. Butterfly kisses, teasing and tempting. Making contact, then pulling back. But when his hands moved to her waist, up and around, slipping under her sweater, the feel of his calloused hands moving across her skin unlocked something inside her she’d never known existed, and suddenly she was on fire. Her fingers twisted in his hair and her lips parted. She felt the vibration in his chest as he growled before moving his tongue across her teeth and into her mouth.

Their heads turned and bumped as their tongues twisted together and pushed against each other. Was that him moaning in pleasure or was it her? She didn’t care. She just wanted more. Their mouths came apart only long enough to gasp for air before crashing together again. Her arms tightened around his neck and she pulled herself higher, fairly climbing the poor guy, and he didn’t object. In fact, his hands dropped to cup her buttocks and he lifted her, pinning her against the door. His mouth moved down her neck, devouring her inch by inch, and she lifted her chin to give him full access. He sucked at the base of her throat, and a loud groan echoed in the hallway. Oh,God, that was her!

“Asher…”

She didn’t have any words other than that. She just needed to say his name out loud. How had she come to be here in his arms, moaning his name like some wild woman? It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was the feel of his lips on her skin, of his fingers gripping her, of her own name being whispered over and over as if he was breathing her in and out.

Music Monday, She's Far From Hollywood

Music Monday: “Woman, Amen” (Cole & Bree)

Not only was Dierks Bentley himself an inspiration for Cole Caldwell in She’s Far From Hollywood (hello – have you seen the man?), but his music also filled my playlist while I was writing it. His newest song Woman, Amen instantly found a home on my romance writer’s playlist. I imagine it as the soundtrack for the final scene in the book, when Cole and Bree are in the barn, soaked to the skin from the storm, declaring their…..well, you should really read the book to get the complete picture.

Excerpts, She's Far From Hollywood

A First Kiss – She’s Far From Hollywood

Hollywood Checklist

Over the next few weeks, I’m visiting the First Kiss in each of my novels/novellas.

Sigh….that first kiss. One of my very favorite scenes to read in any romance, and one of my favorites to write, too. The whole story has led to this pivotal moment. The characters’ personalities definitely impact the scene.

In the case of Cole and Bree in She’s Far From Hollywood, they’ve basically hated each other at first sight. Or at least that’s what they tell themselves, but all that heat has nothing to do with hate.

When they finally kiss, it’s explosive!

………………………….
Cole lowered his head until their noses were brushing against each
other. She still hadn’t blinked. “But I’m not feeling very smart right
now…”

Those last words were spoken against her lips. His hands cupped her
face softly and she sighed, her breath blowing across his skin. This
was still a bad idea. But when her hands twisted into his T-shirt, he
was lost.

He wanted to take this slow, to be careful. Really, he did. But that plan
detonated on contact. Her lips were soft and pliant when their mouths
met, and she parted them with a soft moan that went straight to his
core.

Men had been plunging their tongues into women’s mouths for
centuries. Staking their claim. Grabbing the first taste of a woman.
And yes, hinting at that other penetration they had in mind. Kissing like
this, tongue against tongue, was natural. Primal even.

But Cole knew that never in the long history of kissing had there ever
been a kiss like this. Things quickly spun out of control, their heads
turning and their mouths moving against each other aggressively. She
tasted like cognac and toothpaste, and hell if it didn’t hit his nervous
system like crack cocaine.

His hands started to slide up and down her body, fingers grabbing at
every curve. She was trembling in his arms like a tuning fork, like she
was ready to come just from this. Just from kissing like this.

It wouldn’t be Bree’s style to just passively let him kiss her. She gave
as good as she got, tugging, pushing, sucking, biting. She was staking
her own claim, holding his head in place while she devoured him.
Twice their teeth clashed together, and neither of them flinched.

This was Bree, and he damned-well knew her.

Music Monday, Nora's Guy Next Door, The Writing Life

Music Monday – There Is Love (Nora & Asher’s Wedding Song)

I’m adding a bit of a twist to my Music Mondays – I’m imagining which of my books a love song might fit into, and where. When it comes to “There is Love” by Peter, Paul & Mary (yes, I’m going back a few years!), I can imagine this being the song Nora and Asher dance to at their wedding. Maybe not in front of their guests, but later, when they’re alone together and amazed at the love they’ve found with each other. Nora and Asher are from “Nora’s Guy Next Door.” This is a seasoned romance, where both hero and heroine are forty and dealing with impending grandparenthood. They (especially Asher) both struggle with the risk of allowing love back into their lives. But once they do, they know it’s what they were needing all along. There is love. There is love. There is love.

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday – Dancing in the 70s

TBT - Steve and IWow – this #ThrowbackThursday picture  goes W-A-Y back! This is my big brother and I dancing at our grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary. We were in Iowa for the big party, and I’m guessing I’m around 14 years old. I remember this outfit – I felt so grown up in the long, stylish skirt and that sweater vest. And the necklace! It was huge (as you can see), and was a jointed dancer of some kind. I wore it for years.

I wasn’t very experienced at slow dancing, which is probably why I’m staring at my feet!

Music Monday

Music Monday – Great Song & Eye Candy

I’ll confess I thought this song (“Yours” by Russell Dickerson) was a lot newer than it really is. As they say in the music business, it was a “sleeper” that quietly climbed the country charts from last June to go number one on Billboard just last month. The lyrics are straight from the heart (“I was a boat stuck in a bottle that never got a chance to touch the sea…”), and earned it an immediate spot on my romance playlist.

And now that I’ve finally seen the video? Holy hotness, I’ll walk in the rain with Russell Dickerson Any. Day. Of. The. Week.

Music Monday, The Writing Life

Music Monday – Perfect

Every once in a while, a love song comes along that just captures EVERYTHING. This new song by Ed Sheeran is not only entitled Perfect, it IS perfect. There’s an entire (second hand love!) romance novel right here, folks. The video is lovely. The song is…perfect. *swoons*

The Writing Life

Teaser Tuesday: Sizzling in the Kitchen

I only love days that start with youHere’s a little taste of The Life She Wants – coming in June 2018 from Harlequin Superromance. Two people on very different paths in life. When those paths cross in Gallant Lake, they both have decisions to make….

“Where’s that thing you call a dog?”

“It’s quiet without her, isn’t it? Of course, the way she sheds, she’s always here in some form. She’s staying with Nora’s daughter, Becky. Do you want anything to drink?” She caught herself and gave a little laugh. “Non-alcoholic, of course.”

There was a weird vibe in the air, and Shane couldn’t put his finger on it. It had been a long, strange day of soul baring, and he felt more…exposed…than usual. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not. Staying here any longer with her was probably a bad idea.

“Sure. I’ll have a ginger ale.”

Mel smiled so brightly that he couldn’t take back the words now. He sat at the kitchen island and watched with appreciation as she opened the refrigerator and bent low to pull two sodas from the bottom shelf. The woman had a really remarkable butt. She caught him staring when she turned.

“Taking in the view?”

“Just thinking about all that chemistry going to waste right now.” His brain was no longer filtering his thoughts from becoming words. He was just blurting out stuff he had no intention of saying. And he couldn’t stop. “Someday, we’re going to set this place on fire with it.” He finally reined himself in. “But not tonight. That would be wrong.”

She handed him his soda with a smile that held back some other emotion he couldn’t define.

“That would be wrong, wouldn’t it?”

That sounded more like an invitation than an agreement. Or maybe he was just hearing what he wanted to hear. What did he want to hear? Those last twenty miles or so in the dark car, winding through the dark mountain roads, with her hand warm in his, had clearly done something to his resolve. They hadn’t spoken a word, but he’d felt a rare sense of peace in that silence. As stupid as it sounded, he’d had a flash vision of the future, of the two of them driving that same road thirty years from now, holding hands and feeling content.

Large “DANGER!” signs started flashing in his brain.

“Mel…” Was it a warning or a plea? What the hell was happening?

“I’m not looking for a distraction, Shane. I’m looking for…chemistry. What if ‘someday’ turns out to be tonight?”

His hands rested lightly on her hips. It took all his strength not to draw her in closer. He had to think this through. He had to make the right choice here. For her. And for him.

“This is a bad idea. It’s been a crazy day. This might not be the best time…”

She leaned in and brushed her lips against his, silencing his voice and his brain. His hands lifted and his fingers twisted in her long hair. He kissed her. Hard. Unrelenting. Like he was mining for gold. Like he’d found it. Her soft moan just propelled him onward. His hands moved to the hem of her shirt and slid beneath it. So soft. So smooth. So fragile. He pulled away from the kiss, but not from her. Because that would have been impossible.

“We need to talk first.”

“Do we?” But she settled back on her heels, staying comfortably in his arms.

“There’s no going back if this happens, Mel. I don’t want to take advantage of you. I don’t want you to regret this. I don’t want to regret this. And it’s going to change things. Even if it’s just one night, it changes everything. We’ll have to deal with the fallout. I need to know you’re ready for that.”