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Shop Like a Duchess – Guest Post by Carly Carson, author of Duke of Devonwood

19 May

Side entrance to Fortnum & Mason, photo by Carly Carson London is one of the world’s great cities, with something for everyone. Do you like to shop? Do you like all things British? Since my story in the Summer Lovin’ Anthology takes place in England (modern day, not historical) I wanted to share a few unique British shopping experiences.

The picture above is the side entrance of  Fortnum & Mason, a well-known store with exquisite windows and food displays.

Wedding Cake, photo by Carly Carson
This is one of their wedding cakes. Divine! Just the kind of cake a duke’s bride might order.

Fortnum & Mason Window Display, photo by Carly Carson
It’s hard to take a picture of a window display, but this gives you an idea of the intricate detail in all of their displays. You can order your picnic baskets from Fortnum’s, just like the nobility do. The royal family also does business with this store.

Next up: Harrods, the most amazing department store. Their food markets are awesome in a different way. Escalator at Harrod's-Egyptian wing, photo by Carly Carson Take a look at the Egyptian escalator. You won’t find this in Macy’s.

The decorations in the foodhall are exquisite. Harrod's Foodhall-birds, photo by Carly Carson

And this is Harrods’ version of a pizzeria. The chefs actually sing opera while they work.
Harrod's pizza, photo by Carly Carson

Here’s my favorite shop in Harrods. Harrod's pet store, photo by Carly Carson

A different type of shopping experience awaits you at the Borough Market, a recently revitalized food showroom where farmers hawk their homemade wares at individual stalls. This is where you buy local. Each vendor has only one type of food, but there is tremendous variety of that one type.

Olives. Olives, photo by Carly Carson

Bread. Bread store, photo by Carly Carson

You walk around, shop for food to bring home or just sit at the tables and eat. It’s so much fun.

Who likes England? What’s your favorite location in England, or your favorite thing about the country?

I’ll give away one ecopy of my story in the antho, which is called Duke of Devonwood to one lucky commenter.

Summer Lovin' Anthology
Summer Lovin’ Anthology

Blurb: Summer is heating up with 14 traditional romances from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors, brought to you by Book Boyfriends Cafe. Foreword by USA Today bestselling author, Leanne Banks. These novels and novellas are all summer romances. The following authors are included: Mel Curtis, Raine English, Donna Fasano, Patti Forsythe, Mona Risk, Ari Thatcher, Carly Carson, Rachelle Ayala, Kelly Collins, Suz deMello, Keta Diablo, Cheryl Harper, Lyssa Layne, Susan Ann Wall.

Duke of Devonwood, a contemporary romance by Carly CarsonExcerpt – This is from my novel in the antho, the Duke of Devonwood, a contemporary romance about the British nobility. Sparks fly as Miranda plots to gain control of her inheritance from a modern day Duke who tries his best to resist her wiles. Can both of them win?

“Our lawyer explained that you were the person who could petition the court for these requests,” Miranda said.

“I suppose I could.” Mr. Yummy, the Duke of Devonwood, leaned back in his chair. “But why would I?”

“Why wouldn’t you? It’s not your money.” Miranda placed her laptop on his desk. “I’ve drawn up a plan to show you that we can cut back on our living expenses in the future if we get the advance we need now.”

“You know,” he said, “most people prefer to spend today and save tomorrow. Such a plan cannot recommend itself to me.”

She pressed her lips together to force herself to think before blurting out a rude retort. How would he know anything about saving money?

“I understand,” she said carefully, “that you might find our need for money to be frivolous, but it’s important to us.”

“What is this important need? I seemed to have missed that.”

“I told you right from the beginning when I first contacted you.”

“Yes, well, it’s possible I missed it. There were rather a lot of emails from you.”

“Did you read any of them?”

“A few,” he admitted. “Once I knew that all you wanted was money,” he added, “I had to curtail the exercise.”

She stiffened in outrage. “We are an exercise to you?”

He sighed. “We’re straying from the point here. Why do you need this money?”

“Sharmie, my step-mother, is getting married.”

“So soon?” He shifted his gaze to Sharmie and lifted his dark brows.

Miranda sprang to her feet and leaned over the desk. “Don’t you dare criticize her! My father had Alzheimer’s for six long years, during which time Sharmie stood by him, took care of his every need, and raised his two children. Have you ever done the like?”

“As I am unmarried, and unlikely to bear children, the issue is moot.”

“Don’t pretend to misunderstand me. Whom do you care for? An expensive mistress? A pack of bloodhounds? A princely inheritance bequeathed to you as an accident of birth?”

His brows rose higher. This time, she thought his mouth was curling up in amusement.

“A tigress,” he said. “Reversing the natural order.”

“Do not make a step-mother joke,” she warned. “Sharmie and I are—are—” What were they? She wanted to say as close as sisters.

She glanced over. Maybe Sharmie didn’t feel the same way. Yes, they spent a lot of time together. They got along well. But maybe—Miranda tried to banish the thought. It was too frightening. Maybe, now that her father, the man who’d brought them together and turned them into relatives was dead, maybe Sharmie would move on. She could take the twins and disappear from Miranda’s life.

Miranda couldn’t bear the thought. And it would be all this man’s fault for refusing to give her the money that would glue them all together. Cement them as a family.

Miranda pressed a hand to her thumping heart. She couldn’t let it happen. If she did, she’d be all alone in the world. Unthinkable.

“Sharmie and I,” she said fiercely, “are family.” She hoped he didn’t notice the quiver of her lip.

His gaze was uncomfortably acute, though. “No step-mother jokes,” he said. “I apologize.”

Drat the man. Why did he have to keep her so off-balance?

“Thank you,” she muttered. “The point is that we need the money for her wedding.”

The chair he’d been leaning back on crashed to the floor. One of the dogs yipped.

“A wedding?” He stared at Miranda.

She’d finally managed to shake him out of his calm.

“Yes,” she answered. “A wedding is required in order to get married.”

“Perhaps some kind of ceremony is required, although I believe a justice of the peace could handle the matter for a negligible sum. But you can’t seriously be considering spending one hundred thousand dollars on a wedding.”

“Not only am I considering it, I intend to do so.”

“Not with any funds under my control.”

Miranda stared at her adversary. His chiseled mouth had a stubborn set to it, as did his strong chin.

“Fine then,” she snapped. “Plan B.”

“How many plans are there?” he asked. His eyes had a certain wariness in them now.

“As many as it takes.”

He raised a hand. “I think Plan A was enough for me for today.”

“No, please listen.” She leaned forward. “You don’t want to have to bother with us and we don’t want to have to keep pestering you.”

“Finally,” he muttered, “we’re in agreement.”

Buy Summer Lovin’ Anthology at:

Kindle US | Kindle UK | iBooks | Nook | Kobo

Bio: Carly Carson is a contemporary romance author with a collection of unusual awards, including: Romance Junkies Debut Author Award, Red Sage Publishing Readers contest winner, and eFestival of Words nominee for Best Romance. Carly will probably never marry into the British nobility, as she is already happily married to Traveling Man. But there’s nothing wrong with a little fantasy in one’s life, right? She has three children, who provide a daily dose of reality, even though they are almost perfect (just ask them!).  Carly loves traveling, outdoor sports, reading, and visiting with friends and her large extended family.

You can find Carly at:

Newsletter | Website | Facebook
Pinterest | Goodreads | Twitter

 

 

Interview With Sharleen Scott, Author of Tangles

13 May

Tangles, a contemporary fiction novel by Sharleen ScottI’m delighted to welcome Sharleen Scott for an interview and a look at her new contemporary fiction novel, Tangles.

Hi, Sharleen, so glad to have you here today. Tell us a little about Tangles.

Blurb: Can tragedy mend a wounded family? While faced with the challenge of his mother’s escalating Alzheimer’s disease, Logan McKinnon discovers secret journals that leave him questioning everything he knows about his family. With no one to ask, Logan must find a man mentioned in the journals to discover a truth he may not want to know.

What inspired this story?
I wrote Tangles while my family was in the grip of the disease. With my mother-in-law’s diagnosis, my husband and I joined a community of people isolated by the task of caring for a loved one and needing more information. We found ourselves in impromptu mini-support-group meetings in grocery stores, movie theater lobbies, and restaurant parking lots. Everywhere we went, we found people whose families were caught in a similar struggle. I noticed a similar theme in these conversations—no one knew what to expect with this disease. No one anticipated the emotional and physical toll of caring for a stricken loved one. The idea for Tangles was born, and with it, I hoped to show the realities of living with the disease within a fictional framework. I don’t believe information dissemination needs to be boring.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing book three in my romantic suspense series, Caught in Make Believe. The characters from books one and two will return to Oregon’s Angel Beach for a story starring Sweet Stuff Bakery manager and budding author Samantha Dylan and returning native son Jace Colton.

How do you come up with ideas?
Ideas are everywhere. The difficult part is deciding which ideas are the good ones and letting them develop.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love creating complex characters and watching them deal with the roadblocks I place in their way. I give my characters tormented histories and flaws, balanced with big hearts and incredible talents, and see what happens.

Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
I have a full-time day job, so my favorite time to write is whenever I can sit at my desk.

Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
My favorite characters are always in the book I’m currently writing. The process of discovering who the characters will be is engrossing and I tend to set the others aside for a while. That said, I do have a fondness for Harlie Cates from Caught in Cross Seas. She has survived so many bad situations and has become a dynamic woman because of her experiences. She runs a business, devotes herself to helping the homeless in her area, and makes one of country music’s biggest stars work to win her heart…all while wearing plaid Converse All Stars.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
I was a travel agent for twenty three years, so a wild and exotic location is probably what is expected. But no. My favorite place is the Oregon coast. I love the rugged coastline, the beaches, and the laid back atmosphere. And the chowder. I can’t forget the chowder. My affection for the Oregon coast is why I set most of the books in my CAUGHT series there. Each time I craft a scene, I get to visit my favorite place—even if it is in my head.

What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
It’s become a standing joke in my house, if mom is cooking dinner, we’re having spaghetti. I told my husband I cooked for the first twenty five years. He gets the next twenty five or more years. He’s a much better cook, so it’s working out well.

These are few of my favorite things:
A day off with nothing to do
Page one of a good book
Homemade macaroni and cheese

Excerpt:

Logan exhausted the file cabinets by 9:00 p.m. and still hadn’t located the insurance policies. Thinking there could be more files in the closets, he poked around until he found a locked box marked Personal in the top of the guest room closet. It was heavy and locked. He didn’t find a key, but rather than give up, he jimmied it open with a screwdriver. Hoping to find file folders, he was disappointed when the contents were books and notebooks, all numbered and dated.

He sat on the floor and selected a white book marked Number One. He opened it to the first page and was stunned by what he found. The first entry, with its childish scrawl and misspelled words, made him smile.

April 1936

Dear Jurnal, My name is Lois and I am six. Mama says girls like to rite stuff so she gave you to me. I hope we can be frends and I can tell you my secrets. Love, Lois

July 1936

Dear Jurnal, Larry called me a bad name today. I dumped mud on his head. Daddy spanked me. It hurt. Big brothers are icky, and I hate him. Don’t tell anyone. Love, Lois

Logan doubled over with laughter as he read his mother’s diary. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t stop. The entries were short but telling of Lois’ early life, and he found himself engrossed. Hours passed as he read the entries detailing her fights with her older brother, Larry, stories of her cat named Puffpuff, a dog named Hunter though he was gun shy to the point of terror, and he sniffled when he read about the day she stopped hating Larry.

April 1939

Dear friend, my grandpa died today and I’m sad. When Mama told me, I ran to the barn and cried until my stomach hurt. Puffpuff tried to make me feel better but it didn’t help. Larry found me and I yelled at him to leave me alone. He said he was sad, too, and wanted to cry with me where no one would see him. Boys aren’t supposed to cry. He held my hand and we cried together. I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone he cried. I think Larry is an okay brother after all, but don’t tell anyone I said that. Love, Lois

Logan placed the journal in the box and closed the lid. He stared at it, debating if he should return it to the closet where it belonged and leave it alone. His curiosity won, and he shoved the box in a corner and covered it with a blanket. The late hour caught up with him, and he stripped off his clothes and climbed into bed. Blissful sleep came quickly.

Buy Tangles at:

Amazon Kindle and PaperbackNook | iBooks | Kobo

Sharleen Scott, author of Tangles, a contemporary fiction novelBio: Romantic-suspense author Sharleen Scott is taking a brief detour from her CAUGHT series with the release of Tangles, a novel dedicated to her mother-in-law who succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease. Sharleen lives in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Brett, two college kids, and two spoiled cats.

You can find Sharleen at:
www.sharleenscott.com

Seeking Redemption (Emerging From Darkness Book 2) By J.M. Maurer

5 May

Seeking Redemption (Emerging From Darkness Book 2), a contemporary romance by J.M. MaurerAfter surviving a bitter divorce and emerging from a darkness that became all too familiar, Jessica finds herself on top of the world, her soulful awakening allowing her to feel again, trust again, and even love again. Her painful past, however, is relentless, both physically and emotionally, bombarding her daily and not allowing her to overcome the lingering demons that ultimately control her life.

As Matthew lovingly guides her toward a healthy future, his own secrets become known, threatening to destroy the trusting relationship that had quickly grown between them. But despite what life throws her way, Jessica pledges to put the past in the past, accepting that events are often out of her control. She fights for a future with the man who drew her out of the darkness, steering her onto a healing path . . . seeking redemption.

Excerpt:

Grandma O flipped the light switch to what she called my office and stood just inside the door, her soft features and gentle smile inviting me in. I shivered, poised one step away, with a strange yet familiar emotion rushing through me—an awareness that the instant I entered, my life would be forever changed. Again.

Was this Matthew’s plan all along? They all seemed in on it, the thought making me feel railroaded and agitated, yet oddly aroused and enchanted too. Unsure how to deal with such conflicting emotions, I moved forward, looking to Grandma O for answers as I walked through.

The office was spacious, slightly smaller than Matthew’s, with a mahogany desk in the far corner and in front of an expansive bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. I ran my fingertips along the colorful wall of psychology books and periodicals as I walked along, passing a leather couch on my way to the desk, my desk, and paused in front of an empty nook within the bookcase.

It struck me as odd, the cold wooden surface needing something to spruce it up, make it mine. I had to think about that, my anxiety making it difficult to ponder the issue, my restlessness preventing me from staying in one place.

I moved to the windows and stared out the tiny cracks between the blinds, the world outside just as complicated as the one I had chosen to live in.

“We all read your master’s thesis,” Grandma O said, her voice pulling me out of my thoughts. “It’s obvious you have a natural gift for research and writing.”

I turned and looked at her, questioning how they’d gotten their hands on a copy.

Sedation in the ICU: Patient Accounts of Their Dreams, Their Pain, Their Fears; I hadn’t published it. As it was, after countless hours revisiting old charts and conducting hundreds of interviews, I’d never been more nervous or scared the instant it was pulled from my tight grip to be placed into the hands of someone who would actually read it. There was no way I’d ever publish it, opening myself up to a world filled with critics.

“If you’re wondering, Dr. Moi is a personal friend of Professor Marienetti. The sexual fantasies accounted for and described within your research were fascinating, probably more so than Dr. Marienetti could digest. We’re baffled as to why you chose not to publish. The results, Jess, are far reaching, from ICUs to dentists’ offices. You have a special gift; embrace it.”

She walked toward me and leaned her back against the wall, her gaze drinking in the room.

“This office has been vacant, just waiting for you. You could do great things here.” She patted my arm, her grandmotherly smile telling me it would all be okay. “I’m next door if you need anything.”

Embrace it, I thought, watching as she walked out the door. I’d heard that advice before—from Matthew. I sighed and looked down upon the desk, the one I knew would take me a while to start calling my own.

My desk, my office, my couch, it all sounded quite foreign. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

Buy Seeking Redemption at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble

iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1) a contemporary romance by J.M. MaurerSeeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)

Blurb:Every day, Jessica Winters does what she does best—bury herself in patient care within the walls of the neuro intensive care unit, keeping herself busy to escape the dark sadness that controls her life. But the day she sees Matthew Moi, the intriguing man seated at her new patient’s bedside, her shattered heart begins to frantically beat once again.

As Matthew pins his mesmerizing gaze upon her, trying to distract her with his humorous and playful banter, she does her best to ignore him. Somehow he already knows a great deal about her, breaking down Jessica’s barriers and awakening her soul, drawing her out of the darkness and into his arms.

When her painful past resurfaces, revealing truths that threaten her future, Jessica struggles through her issues and fights to stay on a healing path . . . seeking love.

Buy Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks

 

J.M. Maurer, Author of Seeking Redemption (Emerging From Darkness Book 2), a contemporary romanceAbout the Author: J.M. Maurer lives with her family in Chicago. She makes it a point to never work on a full moon and cringes when a coworker uses the “Q” word—never, ever say, “It’s a quiet day today,” at her day job.

Known for being overly superstitious, she can usually be found scraping at the remnants of a Nutella container, screaming at a hockey game, or putting pen to paper, allowing the “real” crazy voices in her head to come alive. And after all this, it’s no wonder she’s an incurable romantic and loves escaping the rat race of life to immerse herself inside the world of a really good romance book . . . because, after all, what’s better than a happily-ever-after?

Find J.M. Maurer Here:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | tsu | Amazon Author Page

Seeking Hope (Emerging From Darkness Book 3 ~ Coming Fall/Winter 2015)

The conclusion to the captivating romantic trilogy where love came easy, forgiveness came with time, but healing from devastating loss proved daunting. Together, Jessica and Matthew pursue an extraordinary future . . . seeking hope.

 

Easy Nutella Toffee Pie by J.M. Maurer, Author of Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)

15 Apr

In the Emerging From Darkness trilogy, we meet Jessica Winters, the registered nurse who spends more time eating chocolate than making anything from it, and Matthew Moi, the sexy sex therapist who knows a great deal about the sexual benefits of cocoa, but prefers caramel. Throughout their growing relationship, the two are constantly waging a loving war, using each of their second loves—chocolate and caramel—to rile the other. So, it is only fitting that today we whip up something they both can enjoy:

Toffee Nutella PieEasy Nutella Toffee Pie 

Ingredients:

8oz Cream Cheese (softened)

12oz Cool Whip

2/3 Cup of Nutella (Okay, I’ll be honest, I use a tad more)

1 Cup Toffee Bits

1 Graham Cracker or Oreo cookie pie crust (I use Oreo, of course)

Directions:

In an electric mixer, mix together cream cheese and Nutella. Add cool whip and mix on LOW until combined. Stir in ¾ of the bits. Pour mixture into crust and top with the remaining bits.

***Chill for at least 2 hours***

Then ENJOY!

Warning: This recipe works very well with strawberries—You get the idea. If not, Dr. Moi is accepting new patients. ;-)

Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1) a contemporary romance by J.M. MaurerSeeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)

Blurb: 

Every day, Jessica Winters does what she does best—bury herself in patient care within the walls of the neuro intensive care unit, keeping herself busy to escape the dark sadness that controls her life. But the day she sees Matthew Moi, the intriguing man seated at her new patient’s bedside, her shattered heart begins to frantically beat once again.

As Matthew pins his mesmerizing gaze upon her, trying to distract her with his humorous and playful banter, she does her best to ignore him. Somehow he already knows a great deal about her, breaking down Jessica’s barriers and awakening her soul, drawing her out of the darkness and into his arms.

When her painful past resurfaces, revealing truths that threaten her future, Jessica struggles through her issues and fights to stay on a healing path . . . seeking love.

Excerpt: 

One thing I knew: I wasn’t that woman anymore. I wouldn’t be her anymore.

My heart was racing at the thought of being separated from Matthew by only the door, and I watched as it opened, knowing he stood mere feet away. I drew in a deep breath to calm my frantic nerves and steady my racing heart. It was the moment my eyes would see him again, and the same moment I knew all involuntary muscle movements would cease.

As Matthew stepped in and around the door, his alluring eyes captured me. The feeling was nothing new. I’d been imprisoned by his gaze before. And locked in it again, I watched as he drifted to me, the indisputable chemistry between us palpable and absolute. His mesmerizing eyes had hypnotized my burning soul, completely bewitching me.

“Hello, Jessica,” he murmured, pointing to an open area of the bed. “Mind if I sit?”

I gave a slight shake of my head, having difficulty forming the simple word “no,” and watched as he made himself comfortable facing me. His crisp charcoal-colored trousers bunched as he scooted on the bed. My sight roamed along his classic plum-colored dress shirt and stopped searching once I focused on his face.

Buy Seeking Love (Emerging From Darkness Book 1)

Amazon | Apple | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | All Romance eBooks

JM Maurer authorpicAbout the Author: JM Maurer is the author of the Emerging From Darkness trilogy—Seeking Love, Seeking Redemption, and Seeking Hope. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, she enjoys writing about health and wellness, infusing every emotion into her stories from laughter to tears. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, loves being outdoors, and, of course, consuming chocolate from around the world.

Find J.M. Maurer Here:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | tsu | Amazon Author Page

 

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