Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review for: It's Complicated by Angela Britnell

Book Review for: It's Complicated
Written by: Angela Britnell
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61252-195-4
Avail as: ebook
4 Stars

Britnell pens an endearing contemporary romance with "It's Complicated." Charles Ashton is a playboy in trouble. Emily Worthing leads a stagnant life. When the two meet there's no denying the electric chemistry they share, but can they overcome the challenges that life throws at them?

Set in St. Minton, Cornwall, England, Emily works as a math teacher. At Dr. Wilson's New Year's party, she meets his nephew, Charles Ashton, and the sparks fly. She finds Charles, (Ash) intriguing. He's the first man to warm her heart since her disastrous relationship with a doctor over a year ago.

When Ash looks at Emily, he discovers that indefinable quality he finds attractive in a woman. Both, however, are haunted by emotional demons. Despite Emily's fears, she dares to open herself up to Ash and the couple have sex.

Ash, unfortunately has serious problems on his hands. He's blamed for stealing money at a poker game which he didn't do. After suffering a severe beating, he's got to come clean with Emily, only he's afraid his past will scare her off. Dare Emily trust her heart to Ash? When it comes to falling in love, it's complicated for the couple.

Britnell's writing style is easy to read and engages the reader. The dialogue is sharp and distinctive to each character. The plot flows well and even the supporting cast of characters are interesting.

Ash wants something better for his life. Watching him grow with the help of his loved ones was very rewarding. Emily also faces her fears with true inner courage that I admired. The best part of the story for me was the characterization. Watching both Emily and Ash take risks warmed my heart. I also enjoyed the international setting.

The love scenes are mainstream for romance readers. They capture the intensity and chemistry of the couple well. "It's Complicated" promises endearing characters, romantic locales, and an unpredictability that will keep readers turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Amazon Link for It's Complicated:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcome Guest Author Maria Hammarblad

STEPH: Maria, it's great to have you here today. What's the plot for your latest book, "Kidnapped?"

MARIA: It all starts with a case of mistaken identity. Patricia Risden is driving home late at night, someone appears in the middle of the road, and she loses control of the car. It turns out the man causing the accident is from another world. He's the leader of a rebellion against an all powerful - and conveniently evil - government. He is chased by authorities, of course, and the pursuer assumes Tricia was there to meet him. When she regains consciousness, she's in a spaceship with Earth disappearing in the distance. From that point in time she needs to stay alive, figure out how everything works, and somehow find her way home.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the main story?

MARIA: That is a very good question. I started writing on this so long ago I'm not sure anymore.

STEPH: How do the hero and heroine meet?

MARIA: He is interrogating her. She's terrified of him, and he thinks she's pretty useless. It was a lot of fun to write!

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story?

MARIA: I love the cover. I think it reflects the story pretty well too; there are portions where Patricia uses holographic maps. I like how you see the Earth in the distance too, as if coming or leaving. The girl on the cover doesn't really look like I imagine her, but that's okay.

STEPH: What genre is Kidnapped, and why do you like to write that genre?

MARIA: It is a science fiction romance. I've always been fascinated with space, I mean, there could be anything out there. When I was a little girl I would tell my mom how my real family would come down from the stars and bring me home at any moment. If we were out driving I expected a spaceship to land on the road, and I was disappointed every time it didn't happen. I wanted to go home. Poor mom didn't like that very much... I was a weird kid!

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

MARIA: I've always been writing. I wanted to make books before I could read or write. Being able to entertain people with my words is a life-long dream come true.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

MARIA: A little of both. I usually have a pretty good idea of the beginning, the end, and what's supposed to happen in between. Once I start writing unexpected things happen. The characters take on lives of their own, and then you never know where the thing will end up. Sometimes they don't like each other, even though they're supposed to. Sometimes a bad guy turns out to be good, and a good guy bad...

STEPH: Do you prefer to read ebooks or print books?

MARIA: I want to have print books, but I read mostly ebooks. It's convenient to be able to have a book in the phone and read whenever you get bored. I also use the text to speech function in the Kindle a lot. Any time I'm out driving, I plug the Kindle into the car stereo and let it read to me. I used to think its voice was a bit snarky, but now I've gotten used to it.

STEPH: Who is your favorite author?

MARIA: There are so many great authors it's hard to pick just one. I love Margaret Atwood. I like many indie and small press authors, like Christy Elkins, Chris J. Randolph, and Linda Ann Rentschler. Amongst the mainstream writers I like Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert Ludlum... The list could go on and on. :-)

STEPH: Fun question: What's your favorite children's book?

MARIA: Ronia the Robbers Daughter by Astrid Lindgren. I haven't thought of this for decades, but when I was a little girl back in Sweden, many days would start with Astrid Lindgren reading her children's books on the radio. She had a wonderful voice. Even if the adventures were scary, her voice made you feel cuddled and safe.

Review snippets:

"Intrigue and oddities populate this entertaining sci-fi romance. Instead of getting mired in elaborate details of UFO technology, Hammarblad opts to focus on the human drama — to great effect. And with an occasional love scene thrown in to spice things up, readers will definitely find this novel to be an absolute gem." -- Amy Lignor, RT Book Reviews

"The romance is touching, but it's the emotional upheaval that moves this story to the next level. I highly recommend this exciting sci-fi adventure. One of the best I've ever read." -- Susan P, The Romance Studio

Buy Link:

On the Web:


Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Sue Perkins

STEPH: Sue, thanks for being here today. Tell us, What's the plot for “The Sixth Key?”

SUE: Riley is whisked into an alternate world where telepaths rule and mutes fight for the right to exist. The telepaths want to find out how Riley shields her mind, something she believes is automatic to the humans of Earth. She is caught between the man who brought her to Sacral and the leader of the Mutes. Riley unearths secrets from Sacral’s past and sets out to solve the Riddle of the Keys and the true identity of the King of Sacral.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the main story?

SUE: I saw an accident on the TV news and wondered what would happen if the unconscious person woke up in another world. From there my fantasy mind took over and populated Sacral with telepaths, mutes and mythical animals. The Riddle of the Keys came out of nowhere and pulled everything together making it all work.

STEPH: How do the hero and heroine meet?

SUE: Riley runs away from Jothur, the Prince who brought her to Sacral, when she realizes the telepaths will use force to discover how her mind shield works. Her horse bolts, taking her into the forest where the mutes live and she meets Tynan their leader. She’s attracted to him but is confused as she also thought she had feelings for Jothur.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story?

SUE: If you look carefully behind the title you will see the words of the Riddle of the Keys faintly showing in a gold color. The purplish sky is seen through the entrance to the Cavern of Discovery, one of the spots on Sacral where the magic bubbles to the surface.

STEPH: What genre is “The Sixth Key” and why do you like to write that genre?

SUE: Fantasy romance or speculative fiction. In other words a romance that can fit into futuristic, fantasy or just one of those you have to read and make up your own mind about which genre it fits into.
I love reading this genre so it’s natural for me to let my mind run free and write this style of book.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

SUE: I’ve been writing seriously for over two decades but my first book was published in 1997. Since then I’ve had over a dozen books published. I feel I can definitely call myself an author now and hope to continue building on my good start.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

SUE: Definitely a panster. I usually start with an idea, write the first paragraph, page or chapter and let it stew while I carry on with other projects. When I eventually go back I usually have some idea of where it’s going to end, but the middle is quite often hidden in the mists of time (or novel writing). It all works out in the end though.

STEPH: Do you prefer to read ebooks or print books?

SUE: Depends where I am. When I go to bed at night I read a print book as I find it’s easier to cuddle under the covers with one of these. On the go, I read ebooks. Why? It’s much easier to carry an ebook reader, smartphone or iPad and I can load as many books as I want. Reading is reading, no matter what format you read in. All that matters is that you enjoy what you read.

STEPH: Who is your favorite author?

SUE: Terry Pratchett, Anne McCaffrey, Trudi Canavan. I love fantasy books. Mind you I also like contemporary romance/ life books such as Rebecca Shaw’s “Turnham Malpas” series. For many years I would read anything whether I liked it or not, now I have given myself permission to not finish a book if I don’t like it.

STEPH: Fun question: What's your favorite children's book?

SUE: Apart from Harry Potter? I like Jenny Nimmo’s books about Charlie Bone and Brian Jacques “Redwall” series. These are fantasy and magic books so you can see why I like to read these books. I haven’t really got an overall favorite.


Paintings hung on each side of the gallery. Riley, having all morning to fill, slowly walked down the left-hand side, peering at the portraits as she passed.

The first paintings looked really old, but all the men had a resemblance to each other. Overall they were vaguely familiar to her. Of course, they were images of Jothur's ancestors: past kings of Sacral. Jothur had said he resembled his mother which is why she hadn't at first seen the resemblance. The likeness reminded her of King Hurat -- mostly around the eyes, but a few of them had the same mouth and nose.

Riley turned to look at the first portraits again. Head tilted on one side, she took a step backward and flicked her eyes along the row again.

Wouldn't you know it? The ones with a resemblance to Hurat are the ones who look really nasty.

Further along the gallery the portraits became more modern. Each one had a brass plaque beneath it with the name of the subject.

Prufin, Soovu, Lianto...

Halfway down the second wall, an arched alcove held a high lectern-style desk and an equally tall chair. Riley wondered what use this furniture had in a portrait gallery. The words 'Ruler of Sacral -- Sacral King, Queen of Sacral -- Sacral Ring' were carved into the top of the lectern.

I wonder what that means.

Moving around the room she arrived at the portrait before Hurat.

Thorsa. I suppose this is Hurat's father. Wonder why the plaque's a bit grubby.

Riley bent down and rubbed the brass with her sleeve. A tingle shot up her arm. She quickly moved back and stared at the plaque. It looked totally innocent and no different from the other kings' names. She bent again, but this time didn't touch anything. An irregularity in the stonework caught her attention, and Riley leaned closer. Without touching the wall, her finger followed a faint line tracing a rectangle from one side of the portrait, down under the name tag and up the other side. The plaque sat in the center of the box made by the line.

Magic I suppose. I wonder what sort of magic though.

Riley's stomach rumbled, making her aware of the time. Any investigation of Thorsa's plaque would need to wait until she had more time. A quick look at the last portrait showed King Hurat definitely had a resemblance to the previous paintings. A dark place followed this portrait. Had a painting been removed?

I wonder what happened to it.

There were no other gaps in the gallery. Riley shook her head. There weren't any paintings of the queens of Sacral either. Males dominated this world even in the present day. Did she really want to stay here? And if not, was there a way back to her own world?

Buy Link:



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Good Looking Man Sunday

I've got a guest interview set for Monday so this week's good looking man Monday has been moved to Sunday.

My choice for good looking man Sunday may be a bit controversal, but here he is: Prince Harry. I know he's been in the news lately because of a wild weekend in Las Vegas, but I remember when I was in my 20's I did a couple of things I should have thought harder about. I don't mean to make excuses at all. He needs to held accountable and take responsibilty for his actions. Certaintly Harry and his handlers should have handled Vegas by making better decisions, but I'd like to see the good things in people and to remind some that Prince Harry does a lot of good.

He's an officer in the British Army and served 77 days in Afghanstan.

He's done a lot of charity work including helping orphans with HIV/AIDS.

Prince Harry has twice had his charitable efforts recognised by the international community. In December 2010 the German charity Ein Herz für Kinder ("Heart for Children") awarded him the Golden Heart Award in recognition of his "charitable and humanitarian efforts".

In May 2012 he was awarded the Atlantic Council's award for distinguished humanitarian leadership due to his charitable work with wounded soldiers. He was presented this award by General Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Paisley Kirkpatrick

STEPH: What's the plot for Night Angel?

PAISLEY: Sassy Amalie Renard, a poker-playing saloon singer, shakes up Paradise Pines, a former gold-rush mountain community by turning the saloon’s bar into her stage. Her amazing voice stirs the passions of the hotel owner, a man who anonymously travels tunnels at night providing help to the downtrodden as the mysterious Night Angel. Declan Grainger agrees to subsidize the building of a music hall to fulfill Amalie's dream, but a bounty for her arrest could spoil his plans. Distrust and jealousy stir flames of malice and revenge threatening to destroy their town. Drawing from past experiences, Declan and Amalie turn to each other to find a way to save the community.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the main story?

PAISLEY: My great grandmother sang and danced on the Tivoli Stage in San Francisco in her younger years. Reading through the genealogy books my mother put together sparked the first idea. She had a quick tongue and sparked controversy. Choosing her as the quirky lady in this story sounded perfect.

STEPH: How do the hero and heroine meet?

PAISLEY: The hero owned a classy hotel in the mountain community of Paradise Pines. The heroine arrives during a snow storm seeking lodging. Because his rooms were full to capacity, he offered her the use of the settee in the hotel lobby. Sparks fly immediately as she tries to convince him to let her use his bed for the night, and he misunderstands her request.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story?

PAISLEY: The art department created a great depiction of the Night Angel as the mysterious man who travels through the tunnels of Paradise Pines at night. It portrays his sense of secrecy to the cover.

STEPH: What genre is Night Angel, and why do you like to write that genre?

PAISLEY: Night Angel is set in the historical west1853 gold rush era when the mountain community is trying to rebuild itself after the gold ran out. I prefer to read historicals and, since we live where the gold rush happened, I have all the research I need at my fingertips. We still have a lot of the original gold rush buildings and several tunnels still exist. My favorite place to explore is the Gold Bug Mine, where you can travel under the mountain and experience how these miners spent most of their lives.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

PAISLEY: I've been writing for 22 years, but didn't get serious about having a career until about 13 years ago when I joined Romance Writers of America and Sacramento Valley Rose Chapter. I have learned so much from other authors and all the classes I've taken throughout the years. Writers are the best kind of friends to have.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

PAISLEY: I am definitely a pantser. I turn my story over to my muse and let the characters tell their stories as they see fit. My plots are living entities changing from day to day until a perfect story develops.

STEPH: Do you prefer to read ebooks or print books?

PAISLEY: I love reading stories in my Kindle. The books in my floor to ceiling bookshelves also call to me, so I try to have both kinds of books going at the same time. It does seem I turn to the Kindle more often.

STEPH: Who is your favorite author?

PAISLEY: I have so many favorite authors, it's hard to choose just one. One of them is Lisa Kleypas. I was lucky enough to meet her at the RWA author's signing a couple of years ago. She was so pleasant spending time with me sharing her method of plotting. I like reading series about families and she is an expert.

STEPH: Fun question: What's your favorite children's book?

PAISLEY: Morris the Moose absolutely delighted me. For some reason the story tickled my fancy and I always struggled to read it out loud to my daughters because we laughed so hard.


Different colored bottles of whiskey and beer reflected in the mirrors along the wall behind the long wooden bar. Perfect. That's where she'd start her evening.

She slipped off her cape and handed it to Declan. His appreciative gasp brought a smile to her lips. Having men ogle her appearance was hardly new. She'd learned early to use her looks to her advantage. The way Declan's eyes heated with appreciation when he cast a glance at the deep cut of her décolletage reminded her how good it felt to be a woman.

"Now you'll see who I really am."

Declan grabbed her arm. "Don't let them forget you're a lady, Amalie."

She cast him a wicked smile. "The name's Lily Fox. Believe me, honey, Lily's no lady."

She approached a couple of gamblers and leaned over slightly to give them full effect of her daring dress. "Would you mind helping me, gents? I have need of your table for a moment."

The men jumped to their feet in unison, their cards forgotten. Amalie took the nearest man's outstretched palm, stepped onto a chair, over their cards and up onto the long wooden plank bar.

"Good evening, boys." She strutted along the length of wood, avoiding whiskey glasses and kicking away eager hands.

The saloon girl stopped caterwauling. The room went still. She had everyone's attention, just the way Lily liked it.

"Get down, young woman. This ain't no place for you to prance about," the barkeep snarled in outrage.

Ignoring the scowling face with the handlebar mustache, she kicked up her heels. Adding a dance step, she pranced back and forth the length of the makeshift stage. Lily reveled in the whistles and disregarded the uncouth remarks. She was in her element. "My name is Lily Fox and I'm here to entertain you tonight."

With the flick of her hand, she caught the attention of the stunned piano player.

"Play something quick and lively, will you, honey?" She glanced around the room of excited faces and turned on her brightest smile.


Sweethearts of the West
Scandalous Victorians
Voices from the Heart


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review for: Oceans Between Us

Book Review for: Oceans Between Us
Written by: Helen Scott Taylor
Genre: Contemporary Romance

5 Stars
Cinderella finds her shoes in this modern romance

Scott-Taylor pens an endearing romance with "Oceans Between Us." Dino Rossellini is a world famous singer who retreats to the town of Porthale, Cornwall to reevaluate his life. Maria Gardener is quite content with her world, running the quaint guesthouse, the Crow's Nest. When Dino asks for shelter, Maria's heart immediately goes out to him. Dare Dino and Maria bridge the ocean between their lives to find happiness?

Set in contemporary Europe, Dino and Maria live very separate careers, yet Dino is attracted to the steadfast Maria. She's everything he wants in a woman. Maria, however, is reluctant to see the world and he has an international lifestyle. Dino spends a month in Cornwall, but must leave to fulfill his contractual obligations. Can love bring them together or will real life obstacles drive them apart?

Scott-Taylor's romantic setting and easy writing style stirs the reader's heartstrings. I'm a sucker for a great international romantic setting and Scott-Taylor has a way of making the reader feel like they're residents of the locales in the novel. For me, the characterization was the best part. Dino and Maria are delightfully human, each struggling with their own problems, yet are willing to believe in the hope that love offers.

The love scenes are tasteful and embody the sensuality of the couple. "Oceans Between us" will have you believing in the power of love. I highly recommend this delightful story.

The story is now available on Amazon.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inspiration: Words of Wisdom from Eleanor, Part 1

One of my favorite presidents is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Why? Because of the strong leadership he provided the nation during World War II. (This despite the fact he spent his presidency in a wheelchair.) But it wasn't Franklin's spirit and strong will that saw the nation through World War II. He and his wife, Eleanor, were truly a "team," a force to be reckoned with in American Politics.

I've always admired Eleanor. Why? Because she faced many of the same challenges Franklin did – and more. One of my favorite "Eleanorisms" is:

"A woman is like a tea bag. You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water."

I shared that quote with a class I was in training with recently and they loved it. Eleanor Roosevelt resonates through the ages. Every week I share quotes of hers with my Twitter followers, hoping to inspire and find common ground with others.

What is it about Eleanor that resonates? I think for me, that despite growing up wealthy, she was always approachable to the every day person. Heck, when George VI and his wife visited the USA in the 1930s, they hosted a picnic for the royal couple and served hot dogs. Very down to Earth with honest appeal and charm if you ask me.

Just a little about Eleanor and what shaped her life:

She was born in October 1884. Her father was Teddy Roosevelt's brother, making President Teddy Roosevelt her uncle.

Eleanor's first name was Anna, but she preferred "Ellie."

Eleanor's mom died when she was 8. Her alcoholic father was committed to a sanitarium when she was 10.

Eleanor went to a private finishing school in London, England when she was 15 and learned to speak French.

Eleanor met her 5th cousin, Franklin Delano in 1902.

Franklin's mom did everything she could to discourage the match, but Franklin stuck to his guns. He wanted to marry Eleanor. They got hitched on 17 March 1905.

In 1921, Franklin was hit by a paralytic illness while vacationing in Maine which resulted in permanent paralysis of his legs. At the time, the doctor diagnosed polio, but it's now believed he might have had Guillain-Barre syndrome.

After Eleanor discovered FDR's affair, their marriage almost fell apart, but they decided to stick it out. Why? FDR respected her intelligence and honest and sincere desire to improve the world.

I'll have more on Eleanor and her time as the first lady next week. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.

Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.

Read more quotes by Eleanor at

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Eleanor. Does she inspire you? Could she? Is she the first modern woman of the 20th Century?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She lives in Castaic, CA and likes to write contemporary, steampunk, paranormal and fantasy romance. She also writes for children with 4RV Publishing.


Blurb: Set in Sonoma, CA in 1946, can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart.

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases.

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writing/Self Editing Tip of the Week: Verb! That's What's Happening!

I know, I'm dating myself here, but for those who can remember, do you recall School House Rock in the 1970's? At the time, as a young girl, I thought those snippets were pretty corny, but I can recite the Preamble to the US Constitution, I know what a bill is, I heard the shot go 'round the world that kicked off the US Revolution, and I traveled the solar system with Interplant Janet.

On the grammar side of the house who could forget such classics as: Noun is a Person, Place, or Thing, Conjunction, Conjunction, what's your function, Lolly, Lolly, Lolly get your Adverbs here and one of my all time favorites: Verb! That's what's happening!

So my writing tip/self-editing tip of the week:

There's always a better/stronger verb.

Don't get me wrong, there are times when "was" and "had" work and work well, but whenever I write a sentence using those words, I usually pull back and see if I can write the sentence using a stronger verb.

Some of my favorites: sluiced, offered, approached, gestured, motioned, and marched.

Feedback: What are your favorite "go-to" stronger verbs?

PS: Last year my boys who were 9 and 4 at the time, found the School House Rock song on ITunes from the 1970's and LOVED them. Now I'm the proud owner of Season 1 and Season 2, and the kids can recite the preamble to the US Constitution, too.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher who works for LAPD. She also writes contemporary, paranormal, steampunk, and fantasy romance. One of her favorite Olympic sports is watching US Men's water polo. One of her latest releases is a 99 cent sweet vintage romance, "Journey of the Heart."


Blurb: Set in Sonoma, CA in 1946, can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart.

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases.

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"


Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Looking Man Monday

Today's good looking man is Roger Howarth, an actor on "General Hospital." He's also acted on Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and As The World Turns. I've loved watching Roger's acting since I found him on One Life to Live in 1997. As Todd he was menancing and intense. He's also been on Dawson's Creek and Prey. Roger has a nice smile here in this picture - so I'd love to hear your thoughts - what do you think is on his mind in this picture?

Which of my characters (from my novels) do you think he'd be a good fit for?

King Mihai, Twilight Over Moldavia

Dimitri Romanov, The Faberge Secret

Count Anton Varga, The Count's Lair

Prime Minister John Russell, Victorian Scoundrel

Prince Ivanstan, The Green Rose

Smiles to all

Sunday, August 12, 2012

6 Sentence Sunday - Feast of Candles

Hi all, I'm contining my 6 Sentence Sunday with my spicy contemporary romance, "Feast of Candles." Set in Napa Valley, CA, wine owner, Lily Marquand meets Danish hunk, Drake deBrettville, but can he break through the battlements that surround her lonely heart?


Lily was finding it harder to say goodbye at the door when they departed for the evening. He'd cracked her stone walls with his patient persistence and determined arrows and her heart had convinced her to extend her full trust to him, regardless of the risk.

"Marquand Manor," she said finally, lowering her voice.

"Your home?"

"I look forward to it."


"Feast of Candles" is a 99 cent spicy contemporary romance. I love Jimmy Thomas and I'm so excited to have him on the cover.

5 Stars, Loves Romance, Amazon Reader:
The ending with the feast of candles is so romantic you'll want your own.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Angela Britnell

STEPH: What's the plot for "It's Complicated?"

ANGELA: Charles 'Black Ash' Ashton temporarily abandons his jet-setting lifestyle and retreats to his uncles' home in rural Cornwall to avoid being blamed for a multi-million pound poker scam. He's instantly attracted to quiet, elegant math teacher Emily Worthing and decides a fun flirtation will fit the bill perfectly. But after a disastrous affair cost Emily her heart and prestigious job another sweet-talking charmer is the last man she should be interested in. They'll have to navigate their way through a slew of family problems, past loves, and the way life has shaped them to reach their own Happy Ever After.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the story?

ANGELA: Honestly, Steph, I wrote this a while ago and the first inspirations are lost in the mists of time! Having said that the main setting for 'It's Complicated' is Cornwall, where I grew up, which is beautiful and intriguing enough to inspire any writer. I'm always intrigued by couples who don't conventionally match and enjoy exploring the issues which hold them back from living a more complete, loving life.

STEPH: How do the hero and heroine meet?

ANGELA: Ash and Emily meet at his uncle's New Year's Day party, and sparks sizzle. Bored in the small village Ash is game for a temporary flirtation but Emily has sworn off good-looking charming men so he starts to play the game of his life to win the ultimate prize of love.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story?

ANGELA: The cover is a picture of Trerice Manor, a National Trust property in Cornwall, England. It was my inspiration for Folkham Manor, Ash's family home which is under threat in the story.

STEPH: What genre is "It's Complicated," and why do you like to write in that genre?

ANGELA: 'It's Complicated' is a contemporary romance. Real people - their challenges, motives and what they really want from life interest me far more than vampires, werewolves and alternate galaxies.

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

ANGELA: I've been writing just over ten years since I took a creative writing class at my local recreation center mainly to have a night out away from my three noisy boys! I got hooked and the rest as they say is history.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

ANGELA: Definitely a pantser. I've tried to write outlines before but met with a conspicuous lack of success. Every time I go to another workshop lauding the benefits of plotting I have another go but soon quietly abandon the effort. I've decided that my first draft is my way of discovering the story.

STEPH: Do you prefer to read ebooks or print books?

ANGELA: Both these days. I've always been a voracious reader and when e-readers started to become popular I swore I'd remain faithful to printed books. Of course then I saw a friend's Kindle and was intrigued and on my next birthday, having dropped many hints, my dear husband bought one complete with a pretty pink cover. That began my flirtation with e-books and I enjoy juggling both loves! I particularly enjoy my Kindle for traveling, especially on my frequent long transatlantic flights back to England. Another bonus is that with middle-aged eyes being able to adjust the font size saves having to wear my hated bifocals!

STEPH: Who's your favorite author?

ANGELA: It's hard to pick one as it depends what I'm in the mood for reading. I love Joanna Trollope's women's fiction and no-one tells a good romance story like Nora Roberts. I'm also a fan of a good mystery and would have to place PD James and Elizabeth George at the top of that list.

STEPH: Fun Question: What's your favorite children's book?

ANGELA: I'd say 'Goodnight Moon' brings back the happiest memories of tucking three sweet little boys into bed - of course that was after another long grueling day in the battlefield of motherhood and I might just have loved the book because it meant I'd finally be able to sit down and read undisturbed!

Enjoy this excerpt from "It's Complicated:"

Ash nearly changed his mind multiple times before he ever walked across the road. Stood on her doorstep, rocking on his heels, he almost turned and fled. Don't be a moron. It's one date. Nothing more and nothing less. He pressed the doorbell twice and stepped back, not wanting to seem all set to pounce.

The door opened and Emily stared at him in obvious shock. Her gaze skidded down over him and it was all he could do not to laugh. Ash was pretty certain her surprise came from seeing his camel hair coat, the neck draped with an exotic scarlet scarf almost covering a soft blue shirt. Emily plastered on a smile.

"Goodness, breaking out tonight aren't we? Are you sure the black clothes police won't come after you?"

He shrugged. "I've never liked to be predictable."

"I can believe that."

Ash checked out every curve of her body and nodded in appreciation. "You're one to talk. Nice dress."

"Thank you."

Emily reached for the black wool coat she'd put ready on the arm of the sofa. The irony of its color wasn't lost on him, but he held his tongue. He reached the coat first and picked it up, holding it open. She stepped closer and slipped her arms inside. Ash pressed his fingers against the bare skin of her neck and smoothed the fabric into place. She shivered against his hand and a rush of heat flushed her skin. Ash stepped around her and very slowly buttoned her into the coat.

"Okay, let's go." Emily pulled away and picked up her handbag.

He waited outside the door while she locked up then slipped his arm through hers. They walked down the road together in silence for a few minutes.

"By the way, you'll be stared at and we'll be talked about. Everyone's known me forever and they've all heard about you." She half-joked as the pub came in sight.
Ash heard the unspoken warning. Behave or I'll have lots of protectors. He didn't blame her. If she knew him better she'd be even more cautious.

Contact details as follows:

Angela Britnell
'Opposites Attract' available now from

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Writing Tips for aspiring authors - Character Traits for the Romantic Heroine

She's gutsy, clever, and stands up for what she believes. She's the romantic heroine. She the perfect "girl" for the hero, so I thought I'd talk a little about what character traits which makes our heroines special.

For a modern reader, a romantic heroine must embody three things: an ability to connect with the reader, strength, and she must deserve the hero.

Connect with Readers:

What makes her sympathetic?

How does she deal with sorrow and loss? Does she fall apart or put on a brave façade?
How does she deal with loneliness?
Does she have a sense of humor. Laughter is one trait everyone finds appealing. Who doesn't enjoy a good laugh?


I try to draw on the following qualities:

I like a smart, clever heroine who can figure things out for herself.
I like her to have some inner strength. When it gets tough, I want to her to be able to look her problems right in the eyes despite the challenges she faces.
I like her a little gutsy and brave. I'd like her to be willing to take chances.

Deserving the Hero:

Does she have a like mindset as him?
Does she embody the inner nobility he does?
Does she do the right despite the temptation to lie, cheat, and steal?
Does she hold firm to her values like he does his?

QUESTION: As an author, what traits do you weave into your heroines? As a reader, what kind of heroine appeals to you?

Stephanie's latest release is "Feast of Candles," a spicy contemporary romance. When Drake steps into Lily's lonely world, he's determined to win over her heart, but is she willing to let him in?


She placed her hands on his chest, aware of his strength and warmth. Over the past week, she'd become comfortable in his embrace. "The van leaves at eight from the winery and we'll arrive at the hospital around ten. We'll set up and meet with the children at twelve. After passing out the gifts, we'll share a dinner with them and then we're done around four."

"Sounds like a busy day."

"Have you ever been to San Francisco?" "My plane landed there, but I didn't linger." "I'll show you the sights, then."

"Do we have a place to stay?"

"My penthouse. I have a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge."

"Is there anything you don't own?" Amusement danced in his eyes.

She placed a finger to her cheek. "Give me a minute. I'll think of something."

5 Stars, Amazon Reviews, Loves Romance
The ending with the feast of candles is so romantic you'll want your own. Lovely Story.

Buy Link:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Looking Man Monday

Hi all, thought I'd get the week off to the right start with a good looking guy. Here he is:

Here's got a sly smile, doesn't he? So what's he thinking? Share your thoughts!

PS... Who is our good looking man and what role have you enjoyed him in on TV?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

6 Sentence Sunday - Feast of Candles - Spicy Contemporary Romance

I thought I'd share six sentences from one of my latest releases, Feast of Candles. This is a spicy contemporary romance set in Napa Valley, CA. Off we go...

His lips brushed against hers, then gently covered her mouth. Lily welcomed him, his spicy scent sending her senses reeling. She placed her hands on his chest and moaned when his lips left hers, blazing kisses over her jaw, and searing a path of pleasure over her neck.

"So sweet," he whispered. His hands left a trail of heat from her waist to her breasts.


Hope you enjoy the story.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Congrats to Kayla Harrison! 2012 Gold in US Women's Judo

Just thought I'd like the Olympics Inspire me this week:

Kyla Harrison has the heart of a champion. It's performances like this which inspire me. She played with heart and it showed.

So far, I'm enjoying all the Olympics. My favs: Gymnastics, Rowing is cool. Volleyball is fun - Team and Beach. Sychronized Diving is Amazing. And swimming keeps me riveted to the TV.

So what does the Olympics have in common with writing? For me, I think it comes back to having the heart of a champion. You've got to keep writing to keep your writing muscles tone and firm. You're always looking for inspiration, the next story, doing your research.

I'd love to hear your thoughts - And don't forget to tell me what your favorite Olympic summers you're enjoying this year.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

California Thursday - Exploring the Golden Gate Bridge

Set against the bay area of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge has been declared one of the modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Bridge itself spans the bay between San Francisco and Marin County. Ferry service began as early as the 1820's and grew to a daily occurrence. In San Francisco, you'd catch the ferry at the Hyde St. Pier and it took you to Sausalito in Marin County. The journey took 20 minutes and cost $1.00 per vehicle. (Those were the days, huh?)

In 1916, a call was put out to entertain practical designs for the bridge. Joseph Strauss, an engineer, jumped on board and his designs were given serious consideration.

Joseph Strauss didn't do it alone – several engineers and designers offered their input, including Leon Moisseiff, Irving Morrow and Charles Ellis. Strauss was the chief engineer in charge of the overall design and construction.

Show Me The Money

In 1928, the Golden Gate Highway District was given authority to finance the bridge.

In 1929 Wall Street crashed. The district couldn't raise the funds it needed so it asked for $30 million in bonds and got it. The budget for the bridge at the time was $27 million.

So bought $30 million dollars worth of bonds? Amadeo Giannini founder of the Bank of America (in San Francisco) bought the ENTIRE issue in 1932 to help the local economy. (Bank of America – go figure! Nowadays I wonder.)

Time to Crack The Nut

The construction started in January 1933. The Golden Gate Bridge can truly say it was made in America. The steel came from New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania and was shipped to California via the Panama Canal.

NOTE: In April 2012, Jack Balestreri died. He was the last living original construction work on the bridge.

Half Way to Hell Club

A net was placed under the bridge during construction – for safety reasons, of course. With a 245 foot drop from the deck of the bridge to the water, 19 men were saved by landing in the net, thus becoming members of the Half Way to Hell club.

The bridge opened in May 1937. The span is 4,200 feet. It's #9 in the world today. It's painted "international" orange.

More Money Issues

The last of the construction bonds was paid off in 1971. The actual principal paid on the bond was 35 million. The interest? 39 million. The interest was paid with the tolls collected from the bridge.

Don't Jump

The deck of the bridge is 245 feet over the water if you jump. It takes 4 seconds to reach the water. Your speed? 75 mph/120 kph. Jumpers die from impact trauma on contact with the water. The few that survive will drown or die of hypothermia. Only 26 people have survived a jump.

It's Windy

The bridge shut down due to wind speeds between 69-75 mph on 3 occasions: Once in 1951, 1982 and 1983.

We're Not Finished with the Money Issues

The bridge is undergoing a seismic retrofit which is due to be completed this year. It's needed because of a possible failure of the support on the 320 foot arch over Ft. Point should an earthquake strike. The cost? $392 million.

Interesting Fast Facts:

The closest off the shelf paint to the gate's color is available from Sherwin Williams. It's Fireweed.

The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

It's illegal to scatter the ashes of a loved one from the bridge.

Famous Bridge Movies:
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2009 Star Trek
2006 X-Men, The Last Stand.
1994 Interview with the Vampire
1978 Superman
1941 The Maltese Falcon.


Photos taken from:

Stephanie's Latest story is Journey of the Heart: a sweet vintage romance set in Sonoma, CA, near San Francisco.


Blurb: Can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart. 

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases. 

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"