Mermaids Everywhere!

I'm a fan of mermaids. It probably goes all the way back to the colorful collection of lovely mermaid bath toys I had as a kid, and the lush watercolored picture book I loved to read, and then came Disney's Ariel and a lifelong love was born.

Lately, my life has been filled with mermaids.

mermaid.jpg

First, I read Christina Henry's marvelous THE MERMAID. It's part fantasty/fairy tale, and part history, as our mermaid heroine comes to land and, needing money after her true love (a human fisherman) dies, joins up with PT Barnum and his museum in New York City. I dove into this book and finished it in one sitting, and I'm glad I went on the lush adventure. 

shape.jpg

Second, I recently finally saw the Academy Award winning The Shape of Water, which was gorgeous and everything I wanted it to be. Time magazine called it, "A love letter to misunderstood creatures" and I couldn't say it better. Brilliantly cast and beautifully filmed, it felt like a love story mashed with all those wonderful 50s and 60s films I grew up watching thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000. Sally Hawkins is amazing as the mute heroine, Doug Jones proves why he's legendary, and Michael Shannon (bless him) could not be creepier.

weekiwachee.jpg

 

Third, I've started reading and learning about the Weeki Wachee mermaids of Florida. For sixty years, incredible women swimmers have been delighting audiences by putting on mermaid shows at Weeki Wachee State Park. The history is batty and delightful, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to write a story about them sooner rather than later. 

Are you a fan of mermaids? :)

Spring Fling 2018 recap!

IMG_20180421_150537401_HDR.jpg

I didn't think I was going to make it to Spring Fling. I really didn't.

A few weeks out, I was terribly sick with some bronchial thing that had me coughing when I tried to talk, and that turned into what we now know was influenza B. I know this, of course, because I wound up in the emergency room for dehydration after passing out in the hospital elevator leaving a doctors appointment. (It was VERY dramatic.) But I rested like I was ordered to do, drank all the water in the world and relied entirely on my wonderful husband and kiddo and cats to do everything for a while. Literally, if I got up to sit on the couch and eat soup for lunch, it would tire me out and I would need to go take a two-hour nap. It was terrible.

And Spring Fling was approaching and I'd ordered books and paid for my registration and hotel and was super sad I wasn't going to be able to go.

And then I got better. Not 100%, but all that was left was exhaustion. So I went to the con, knowing I'd need to get lots of sleep and simply not attend every single event.

And I had a blast. :) 

 As a writer and lifelong fan of American Historicals, Beverly Jenkins is a legend. Getting to hear her speak out writing and her career--and getting to meet her-- was a highlight of the whole event.

As a writer and lifelong fan of American Historicals, Beverly Jenkins is a legend. Getting to hear her speak out writing and her career--and getting to meet her-- was a highlight of the whole event.

Spring Fling is a bi-annual romance writer's con put on by the Chicago-North branch of the Romance Writers of America, and they did a fantastic job. Headliners Beverly Jenkins, Meredith Duran, Damon Suede, and Joey W. Hill were awesome, the panels were insightful and entertaining, I learned a lot and made some wonderful new friends in the business.

I went to panels on co-writing with other authors, libations of the Regency (where Ella Quinn got us all super buzzed and taught us all about cognac, claret, and more), and spotlights from publishers like Harlequin and Grand Central. I also pitched a new book/series, so fingers crossed on that. And I took part in a delightful book signing for an afternoon. 

But I rested. I really did. My room had a balcony and the weather was surprisingly nice, so more than once I returned to my hotel room, opened the sliding door wide, and napped. Or scribbled on works in progress. Or watched HGTV. But, like I said, I rested.

 Home sweet hotel home. 

Home sweet hotel home. 

<3 On the final night, I dressed up to attend the Gala Dinner, listened to Ms. Bev's keynote speech about inclusion in RWA that brought a whole room to tears, enjoyed some wine with my new pals, won a basket in the silent auction, and returned to my room for one last night of wonderful sleep.

And then Spring Fling was done, passed into time like so many cons before it. Now I'm home and mostly unpacked and my TBR (To Be Read) pile is crazy all over again with the dozen new books I brought back with me.

I look forward to returning in 2020. 

 Swag Bag!

Swag Bag!

5 Western Romances for Valentine's Day!

Feel like going back in time and snaring a sexy cowboy? Who doesn't!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I have assembled a list of the westerns I suggest to people who want to read a western romance. These are some of my all-time favorites, and I hope you love them, too. They're in no particular order....because they're all great!

 

harlot.jpg

1. HARLOT by Victoria Dahl

This book is not for those who like their romances chaste. Harlot is an erotic romance featuring Jessica, a woman who's had no choice but to sell herself and Caleb, the man who she wanted to wait for. Furious, he buys her. Through the delicious and complicated intimate scenes Dahl is so good at writing, they come back together again. (You should also read ANGEL, the first book in the series, for background on a fascinating secondary character in HARLOT.)

jessirose.jpg

2. THE TAMING OF JESSI ROSE by Beverly Jenkins.

Look, the first time we meet our heroine, Jessi Rose, she's rushing out into a stampede. The next time, she's perched on the roof of her house with a shotgun and if there's a better way to meet a leading lady I don't know what it is. Griffin is a train robber who gets put in the position of lawman to help her out against a gang who wants her land, and sparks! Oh, the sparks! 

Note: Jenkins infuses a ton of history into all her books, so you can't go wrong with any of her westerns. NIGHT SONG is about Nicodemus, the black settlement. She just released TEMPEST, the third book in her Old West series. I loved the first two books, FORBIDDEN and BREATHLESS, and can't wait to read the third one, so this is also a series you should grab and get lost in.

rogueintexas.jpg

3. A ROGUE IN TEXAS by Lorraine Heath.

If you're a regency reader, this would be a great gateway western. A ROGUE IN TEXAS is a beautiful Texas romance between a Duke's son who wants to earn his fortune and a hard-scrabble woman of the west. Abbie's husband never came back from the war, leaving her with land and three children. When Grayson and Abbie team up to turn her land into something more, their attraction is undeniable - and it's a wonderful read, with an outrageous ending I loved.

emmaoutlaw.jpg

4. EMMA AND THE OUTLAW by Linda Lael Miller

THIS BOOK WAS SO MUCH RACIER THAN I EXPECTED IT TO BE--and I mean that in a good way. The second book in Miller's Orphan Train series centered around three orphaned sisters separated as children and trying to reunite, this book delighted me. Emma, the oldest sister, is a proper lady, even if she was raised in a brothel. An injured man - one of my favorite western tropes - sets her heart on fire and things get hot real fast. Super fast and fun, I'm never getting rid of this one.

....I read LILY AND THE MAJOR, the first book in the series, AFTER reading this one, and didn't finish it because the jerk hero was too much of a jerk even for me, and that's saying something. 

 

seduced.jpg

5. SEDUCED by Molly O'Keefe

This one has some grit. Melody is an abused wife, a southern belle who got married to save her family's plantation but wound up with a terrible man. When they arrive at a house, her husband shoots the man and claims it for himself, then rides off and returns with a prospector - who isn't a prospector at all, but the brother of the cabin's original owner. Cole is a bounty hunter who's been searching for his brother, and both he and Melody start the book broken and find something resembling happiness together. I'm probably not selling the book too well. It's emotional and sometimes hard, but it's one of the most satisfying western reads I've ever encountered.

<3

This post brought to you by the fact that the third book in my own western romance trilogy, FIRES OF CRICKET BEND, is free now through the 18th!