Posted in Rendezvous Falls, The Writing Life

Welcome to Rendezvous Falls!

Rendezvous Falls Twitter

I’m so excited! (cue the Pointer Sisters!). I just inked a contract to create a brand new contemporary romance series for HQN! Not only will I be continuing to write Gallant Lake romances for Harlequin Special Edition, I will also be writing the stories of Rendezvous Falls, NY. This fictional town is located in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine country. Rendezvous Falls is famous for its wildly-colored, fanciful Victorian homes, and its citizens are just as unique and colorful as the town is. When the senior book club gets bored and decides to try their hand at matchmaking, the results are… interesting… because love is stranger than fiction. Their matches don’t always (never…) work out they way they plan, yet somehow love finds a way to bring the right people together.

Each book will have three points of view–heroine, hero and one member of the book club. A few book club members (a diverse and touching group of friends) will find their own “seasoned romance” Happily Ever Afters along the way.

Book 1: Corporate auditor Whitney Foster returns to her onetime childhood haven, Rendezvous Falls, to regroup after finding herself suddenly unemployed. She discovers  her widowed Aunt Helen’s winery is falling into disrepair and flirting with financial ruin. Whitney blames the most likely culprit: Falls Legend Winery’s manager. But her suspicions can’t erase the fact that Luke Rutledge’s disheveled yet determined vibe intrigues her, even if he is whispered about in town as “one of those Rutledge Boys.” When Aunt Helen’s book club decides to set Whitney up on a few blind dates to distract her from going crazy while she attempts to unravel the books, Luke realizes that he cares about the nosy “bean counter” far more than he thought.

So I’ll be hiding away in my writing cave for the next few (many!) months, creating the stories that you’ll be able to buy everywhere starting in the summer of 2019. I’ll also be working on updating the website to reflect the three existing series – Lowery Women, Gallant Lake and now – Rendezvous Falls! 

Posted in Lowery Women, Music Monday, The Life She Wants

Music Monday – A Wedding Song for Shane & Mel

Life - Checklist

With all the royal wedding excitement this week, I thought I’d share the little-known song Himself and I danced to at our wedding – the Irish Wedding Song. It’s sung here by Andy Cooney, whom we’ve seen in concert several times.

I say it’s little-known, but anyone from an Irish family (like the one I married into) has probably heard this song before, like…at every Irish wedding they’ve ever been to. Listening to it just now sure brought back memories for both of us.

So it only makes sense that Shane Brannigan, the Boston-Irish hero of my upcoming June release, The Life She Wants, would expect to dance to this when he marries Melanie Lowery. I can see the two of them swaying together on the veranda of the Gallant Lake Resort, surrounded by friends and family, as someone (maybe Andy Cooney?) croons this song to them. Perfect, don’t you think?

Posted in Newsletter

A Newsletter Is Born!

Newsletter Sign-Up - Website

Read Below for a Special Giveaway!

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to tasks that intimidate me.

Write an 80,000 word romance novel? No problem!

Create a newsletter for my followers? *PANIC ATTACK!*

Part of it is because I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of having followers. Remember, my debut novel came out just over a year ago, so this is all new to me. The goal of a writer, of course, is to have people love their books. But it’s also an intimidating concept, and I’ll confess that I’ve ignored some parts of the process out of fear of screwing it up.

Things like asking people to review my books.

Things like asking people to subscribe to a newsletter about…me. What? 

But it’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and learn to handle the marketing end of the business with a more serious approach than just throwing random stuff on social media (although I’m very happy for the hundreds of followers I have there – Hi, Everyone!).

Phase 1 of that serious approach is creating a newsletter. Scroll up to the top of this page and check out the “Subscribe” box on the top right! My plan is for the newsletter to be quarterly, with “special editions” coming up for book releases or really big news (and boy, do I have some really big news coming up…….shhh!). I want to provide a newsletter that’s fun and offers some exclusive content, a peek at my writing process, book news, occasional giveaways, and silly things like pictures of hot guys, cool places, recipes, etc. Be patient with me for the first few issues, as I’m definitely still pretty low on the learning curve!

Cover Life She WantsSince I have a new book – The Life She Wants – coming up in June and, since I have some advance copies…I will randomly select five names from the first twenty people to sign up for my newsletter on Monday and will send those five people a signed ARC for The Life She Wants. I sure hope winners will share reviews of the book once they’ve read it! 

Phase 2 of my plan (in case you were wondering) is coming later this year. I will be creating a private Facebook group for my most devoted followers, where we can talk books and have opportunities to receive ARCs for reviewing and have special giveaways. But one thing at a time, and right now that’s the new NEWSLETTER!

Posted in Music Monday, She's Far From Hollywood, The Writing Life

Music Monday – Some Love Songs are Sad

My romance writing playlist contains a lot of songs about the power and joy of love. But we all know that true love isn’t always sunshine and roses. There are dark times and bumps in the road. Sometimes there are even endings (although we know those endings never last in romance novels!). But I don’t think any of my characters, even in the darkness of the “black moment” in their story, ever regrets falling in love.

So this is my first sad Music Monday song – Break Up in the End by Cole Swindell. It stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it, because the bittersweet heartbreak of Tennyson’s “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” feels so real in the lyrics and in the simple, heartfelt delivery.

I think especially of Cole and Bree from She’s Far From Hollywood. Cole ends up in residential rehab for his PTSD. Bree goes back to California to deconstruct the life she used to think mattered to her. They’re hurting. But they’re also stronger people at this point than they were in the beginning, and they’re grateful for the impact they’ve had in each other’s lives.

And, of course, since it’s a romance novel, there is a Happily Ever After that occurs after Cole and Bree’s black moment, because I believe in Forever Love.

Posted in Excerpts, Nora's Guy Next Door

Beginnings: Nora’s Guy Next Door

Nora's Guy Next Door HPG2What could possibly be more romantic than a grocery store, right? Hey–I don’t argue when inspiration hits me, and the opening scene for Nora’s Guy Next Door came to me as I was fighting my way through a crowded grocery store. I went with it, and it may be my favorite story opening.

I’m spending April revisiting the openings of each of my romances. Nora’s Guy Next Door is part of The Lowery Women series, but this book also inspired my upcoming Gallant Lake series with Harlequin Special Edition.

………………………………………………

Nora Lowery Bradford didn’t come close to losing her good Southern manners until the third time someone smacked their grocery cart into hers, nearly toppling a package of fancily frosted cupcakes. She spun on her heel, but the angry words died on her lips. The offender was an elderly lady, even shorter than Nora, pushing a cart loaded to the brim with Thanksgiving fixings.

Bless her heart.

Nora smiled and was about to wish her a happy holiday, but before she could speak, the woman rammed her cart into Nora’s again–on purpose!

“What’re you doin’, sightseeing or something? Move over! Other people got things to do.” With that, the woman pushed on by, scraping her cart along Nora’s to drive home her point.

Nora stood there for a moment with her mouth open, then rolled her eyes and pushed on. With Thanksgiving just two days away, the grocery store in Gallant Lake, New York, was mobbed with people. And the mob was cranky. Maybe she was biased, but people seemed just a bit more genteel back home in Atlanta. Unless, of course, you went grocery shopping on senior discount day–then all bets were off, Southern or not.

…………..

The produce section was even more crowded than the aisles, and Nora slowly worked her way through the veggies, taking in the dramas unfolding around her.

A woman threw a round head of pale lettuce into her cart, glaring at the balding man by her side. “Of course your mother thinks iceberg lettuce is the best. Your mother wouldn’t know a romaine leaf if it bit her in the ass!”

Two men leaned intently over a tomato display nearby. “Derrick, trust me. Vine-ripened tomatoes are better for salad than that monstrosity you picked up.” He gave his partner a wink. “I know you love the word beefsteak, honey, but bigger isn’t always better.”

Just a few minutes later, the drama jumps up a notch when Nora runs into a gorgeous, furious man cursing to himself in the fruit section of the produce area. They don’t exactly hit it off, but they can’t seem to stop running into each other…especially once they find out Nora’s daughter is having a baby…with Asher’s son. 

Posted in Excerpts, She's Far From Hollywood

Beginnings: She’s Far From Hollywood

She's Far From HollywoodLast month I shared “first kisses” from my books, and it was so much fun that I wanted to do something similar this month. Since April is a time of renewal and new beginnings, I’m going to share the beginning of each of my stories every Wednesday. If there are any you haven’t read yet, maybe you’ll be intrigued and want to know more (psst – just follow the link!).

I’ll start the beginnings with my beginning – the opening of my debut romance, She’s Far From Hollywood.

……………………………………………………….

Brianna Mathews hated North Carolina.

Seriously.

She hated it.

She’d left the cosmopolitan appeal of Charlotte a couple of hours ago, and now it was just field after field of…what? Corn? Tobacco? Cotton? What did they grow in North Carolina, anyway? Cotton, right?

Some of the fields looked like golden-green grass and were undulating prettily in the wind. Was that wheat?

…amber waves of grain…

Wasn’t wheat a grain?

She cursed softly behind the wheel of her rented red Mercedes. She was completely out of her element driving through farm country, and she laughed at her reflection in the rear-view mirror.

“You’re a long way from Hollywood, girlfriend.”

This seemed like such a good idea last night. But last night she was still in the civilized world. She’d been happily ensconced at her cousin Amanda’s palatial stone castle, Halcyon, in the Catskill Mountains of New York, sipping pink champagne at Amanda’s baby shower. Then she got the news that upended her tidy little world. The concensus was she needed a place to stay that was out of the public eye. Amanda’s best friend, Caroline, offered her mother’s rural farm as the perfect place to avoid both paparazzi and crazed stalkers.

“‘Go to North Carolina,’ Caroline said. ‘You’ll be safe there.'” Bree glared at her reflection as she continued her one-sided conversation. “‘Mom has a cute little cottage you can use.’ Didn’t that all sound delightful last night at Halcyon? And look at me now. Driving down country roads in the middle of nowhere. Me! Miss California!” She shook her head. “I haven’t been here three hours and I’m already talking to myself. How am I supposed to last a month?”

[HINT: The hot, grumpy farmer next door makes Bree’s time in North Carolina a lot more interesting than she ever expected!]

Posted in The Writing Life

Welcome to Gallant Lake!

Gallant Lake SeriesIt’s official! I have a brand new series coming in 2019! With the unfortunate demise of the Harlequin Superromance line (the final Supers will be out in June, including my The Life She Wants), I wasn’t sure where I’d land. But I’m thrilled to announce that my Gallant Lake Series will be published by Harlequin Special Edition, starting in 2019.

If you’ve read Nora’s Guy Next Door, you’re familiar with the fictional Catksill Mountains town of Gallant Lake, home of the Gallant Lake Resort. Gallant Lake is also the setting for The Life She Wants. I’ve basically fallen in love with this little town of faded storefronts along the lakeshore. It’s a town left behind by progress as the old resort (think Dirty Dancing) fell into disrepair. But it’s also a town full of close-knit individuals who care about each other and the place they call home. When the resort is brought back to life, along with the historic castle next door to it, Gallant Lake begins to feel hope again. As the town rebuilds, new people and new challenges come along. And….so does love.

First up are Nick and Cassie, both new to town and both employed by the Gallant Lake Resort. Both are trying to leave troubled pasts behind, and they dare each other to make some changes. Nick shows Cassie how to be more adventurous, while Cassie gets Nick to relax and breathe once in a while. Cassie’s past is threatening to catch up with her, but if she runs, she’ll leave behind her one chance at forever love.

Next come Sheriff Dan (who appears in Nora’s Guy Next Door and The Life She Wants) and his best friend’s little sister, Mackenzie, back in town to help her dad. The last thing Mack needs is Dan bringing up memories of high school and all the dreams she failed to achieve. Dan was always the bad boy as a teen, and Mack was the sweetest little kid. These days the single dad enforces the law instead of breaking it. Sweet Mackenzie is looking for a walk on the wild side, and Dan can’t let her do that with anyone but him. But how much is he willing to risk?

And then we have Nate (who appears in Nora’s Guy Next Door) and Brittany. Nate owns the local hardware store, which has been in his family for generations. Nate’s not big on change. Brittany is in Gallant Lake for one reason — to change everything. When the hard-charging real estate developer meets laid-back Nate, she figures her job just got a lot easier. She has no idea how wrong she is, because there’s nothing easy about Nate. Including leaving him behind.

So what do you think? Are you ready to read the stories of Gallant Lake? Because I’m already busy writing them!

 

Posted in Music Monday, Nora's Guy Next Door

Music Monday – Like I’m Gonna Lose You (Asher & Nora)

Of all my couples, Nora and Asher of Nora’s Guy Next Door are the two who truly understand how fragile life can be. Nora lost a husband. Asher lost a son. And while their story is all about moving on and embracing life and love, the reality of losing someone is surely never far from their minds.

So I can picture the two of them sitting out on the wide covered porch of the log home Asher built on Gallant Mountain, with Meghan Trainor’s beautiful song, Like I’m Gonna Lose You, playing in the background. They’ve watched the sunset together, talking about their day and enjoying a a glass of wine for Nora, whiskey for Asher. The song comes up on Nora’s playlist, and Asher stands and pulls a surprised Nora out of her chair and into his arms. And there, on a warm spring night (spring will get warm eventually, right?), the two of them dance together in the moonlight. Nora’s head rests on his shoulder, and when Meghan and John Legend stop singing, Asher leads her upstairs to continue their slow dance…

Posted in Excerpts, The Life She Wants

A First Kiss: The Life She Wants

Life - Checklist

Time for another First Kiss! This one is from my upcoming Harlequin Superromance, The Life She Wants (June 2018). Shane Brannigan is a brash go-getter – he’s a sports agent who’s driven to be the best of the best. Melanie has already seen the view from the pinnacle of success, and it wasn’t all that great. All she wants now is to settle down and feel safe and healthy again. She doesn’t need a complication like Shane in her life, but there he is, every time she turns around.

They don’t pick the most private spot for a first kiss – they’re walking Mel’s dog in a public park. But one thing leads to another, and they end up stepping off the path and into each other’s arms. Fearless Shane is suddenly hesitant, but not for long….
…………………………………………………..
A furrow appeared between her brows.

“Shane…” His name was a whisper on her lips.

“Say that again.”

Her eyes darkened, and the furrow faded as a smile teased her lips. Her voice was stronger this time.

“Shane. What are we doing?”

“Damned if I know, but I’m not stopping unless you tell me to.”

He waited, and she didn’t say a word. His head dropped until his lips touched hers. He waited again, until she tipped her head up to meet him. Her lips parted for him with a sigh, and still, he hesitated. Was he afraid for her? Or for himself? This moment…this moment felt big. She murmured his name against his lips, her arms wrapping around his neck. And he was a goner.

He held her face in his hands, holding her still while his mouth took control. A soft moan rose from her throat, and his heart started banging in his chest. He had to hold back or they’d be naked on the ground in a heartbeat. She wasn’t making it easy.

One of his hands slid down her neck, his fingers wrapping around the back of her head, his thumb tipping her jaw up. She tilted her face just enough to let his tongue reach places he hadn’t managed to explore yet. His chest vibrated with a low growl and he pulled her closer.

He didn’t know how long it lasted. He didn’t care. He had no intention of stopping.

Until the dog barked.

 

Posted in 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.