Friday, October 26, 2012

Book Review: Aboard the Wishing Star
Written by: Debra Parmley
Desert Breeze Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-61252-243-2
4 Stars

Parmley whisks the reader away on a shipboard romance with "Aboard the Wishing Star." Kara Worth wins a cruise and takes her best friend, Vivian with her. After meeting Nate, Kara can't help but wonder if wishes really do come true.

"Aboard the Wishing Star" is a contemporary romance with suspenseful elements set in the picturesque Caribbean. Kara wins a trip to celebrate New Year. She travels from her home in Ohio, meets up with her friend, Vivian, and intends to enjoy her getaway. However, obstacles soon arise. Kara's inconvenienced when her luggage comes up missing and her boss decides to hound her, even though she's on vacation. When Nate encounters Kate, he challenges her on every level to step out of her comfort zone. Is Kate and Nate's attraction a shipboard romance or the foundation of a lasting relationship?

Parmley's writing is easy to read and engages the reader by involving the five senses from the sensual locales and vivid scents of the area to the warm, enticing caresses shared by Nate and Kara. The author does a wonderful job of capturing the romantic ambience of cruising on ship.

The most rewarding aspect of the story was the rich characterization of Kara and Nate. Kara's ready to start a new chapter of her life. She's brave, yet a little timid, but she knows her mind. Nate is loyal, honorable and steadfast. He's the spark in Kara's life that allows her to test her boundaries.

There were several minor spelling/punctuation errors throughout, but they did not take away from my enjoyment of the story.

The novel is warm/sensual for romance readers. Kara and Nate share intimate caresses and touches. "Aboard the Wishing Star" is a wonderful romantic escape that makes the reader believe the power of love can overcome anything.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ah, that very first kiss! 6 Sentence Sunday

I'm sharing Alice and Grayson's first kiss in Victorian Scoundrel this Sunday. Enjoy! Book 2 of The Windsor Diaries, "A Gentleman and a Rogue" will be available in Nov.

Alice completely lost her head. His lips were hard, firm, staking his claim. His handswent to her waist as his long, lean body pressed against her. She placed her hands on his shoulders and glided her fingertips around the nape of his neck. She wanted this man. Etiquette and propriety be damned. Victorian values wafted to the floor. She wanted to feel every inch of him that she could. His lips trailed over her jaw, kissing the side of her neck.


"Victorian Scoundrel" won BRONZE in the 2012 Reader's Favorite Contest in Romance: Historical.


REVIEWS: Reader's Favorites: 5 Stars, Molly E: She grips the reader instantly, and keeps them hooked until the last page... I highly recommend this with highest of 5 stars, and I can't wait until the second Windsor Diaries installment releases! AMAZON KINDLE:




Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review for: Across the Winds of Time
Written by: Bess McBride
Wild Rose Press
ISBN: 1-60154-970-9
Avail: print/ebook
4 Stars

McBride pens an intriguing tale of love that resonates through time with "Across the Winds of Time." Molly Hamilton discovers an old Victorian house in Lilliam, Iowa and buys it. Upon inspecting the property she encounters one of the previous owners, Darius Ferguson. Dare she believe he's from 1880? Is he a ghost or a man? And why does she feel so strongly about him?

Set in the present day, Molly is driven by an unknown force to Lilliam, Iowa where she falls in love with an old Victorian house and buys it. To her surprise, a very handsome man, Darius Ferguson steps out of the winds of time. Their attraction is immediate, their love powerful. However, trying to get Darius to fit into the modern world is a challenge. As Molly uncovers secrets, there's a new set of questions. Does Molly belong to the future or the past? Will the winds of love bring Molly and Darius together or keep them apart?

McBride's writing style is easy to read. She paints lovely visuals of the setting with an easy brush, using a good economy of words.

The characters in the story shine. Molly is driven by that unknown force (love). She's sweet, kind, and caring. Darius is loyal, honorable, and noble. His speech is more old fashioned, Molly's more modern. Both characters have their quirks and nuances which make them so very human.

The paranormal ability that allows Darius and Molly to travel through time isn't clearly defined and its left for the reader to come up to their own conclusions. Did the power of love truly direct the winds of time? Was there a more naturalistic force at work? If anything, I would have preferred to have this element a bit more defined.

The story is sweet with Molly and Darius exchanging kisses and meaningful embraces. The romance in "Across the Winds of Time," promises to tug on the reader's heartstrings. I highly recommend this book.

Author Bess McBride's Giveaway:Bess will be giving away the winner's choice of a backlist eBook to one commenter at every stop, and a $25 Amazon gift card to one random commenter during the tour.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour takes its last mission throught Los Angeles

Hi all - Just wanted to share a little about the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it makes it way through Los Angeles on it's last journey.

Endeavour descending for a landing into LAX.

In 1981 I remember I was in 7th grade and my science teacher brought in a TV and we watched the Space Shuttle Columbia blast off in space and I felt a chill down my spine. I knew that moment was special and it's been a memory that's stayed with me. I was proud to see America's space journey continue.

Endeavour on the lauchpad.

In 1986, I was a senior at Manchester Central high school in Manchester, NH and I was in math class - Algebra II. The class just started. Miss Mantineo was on the board writing problems and an announcement came over the loudspeaker that we'd lost the space shuttle challenger and Christa McAuffle. I bawled like a baby. Half the class. Miss Mantineo was so shocked, she stumbled back to her chair and sat there stunned. Again, the memory is so poignant, I can still see it in my mind over 25 years later.

Endeavour being placed on it's transporter.

Endeavour was the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger. It first flew in May 1992.

Endeavor leaving LAX.

I was working the 911 phones for LAPD when Endeavor began it's journey though the streets of LA. Endeavour's last flight into space was May 2011.

Endeavor crusing through LA at 2 mph.

NASA chose to build Endeavour from spares rather than refitting Enterprise or accepting a Rockwell International proposal to build two shuttles for the price of one of the original shuttles, on cost grounds.The orbiter is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the ship which took Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery (1768–1771).[5] This is why the name is spelled in the British English manner, rather than the American English ("Endeavor").

Endeavour turning a corner.

It's not everyday the space shuttle passes through ordinary streets.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour will spend it's retirement at the California Science Center in LA.

It's due to arrive later on today. I'd love to hear your thoughts, memories, impressions, opinions on the space shuttles. I hope you've enjoyed the journey as I have.


Reference for this post taken from:

Talking fashion in Victorian England this Sunday

This 6 sentence Sunday, the heroine, Alice, from my novel, "Victorian Scoundrel" is talking fashion with His Royal Highness, Prince Albert. Here's what they had to say: Enjoy! Smiles

"But the neckline covers the chest, only revealing the neck. It is modest in that it covers most of the woman."

"It does..." he conceded.

"It's comfortable," said Alice.

"It's scandalous."

"It's practical."

"Is there a corset?" he asked. "No."

His eyes grew even wider.

2012 BRONZE Winner, Reader's Favorite Contest, Romance: Historical

Hope Chest Reviews: 4.5 Stars:
Victorian Scoundrel was a nice easy read, but sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered. The pacing was pretty snappy with the plot moving right along, while the dialog was sharp and sometimes witty.













Friday, October 12, 2012

Hanging with the Avocados & the Boys

This last week, on 5 OCT 2012, the boys and I had an opportunity to go to the California Avocado Festival held in Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara.

I have to admit the festival wasn't as big as the Strawberry festival I go to in May, but it was fun. What I liked the most about the festival was that it was totally low-key and I love low-key.

The festival started in 1987. Yikes! I'd been the Army for a year when it started! There were several booths selling the green gem. For me, it's about the guacamole. The boys and I got a dish of chips and guac, and I just loved how fresh it was.

Andrew and his guac

Lunch for me was carne asada tacos w/gauc. Andrew had fish and chips and gauc. Joe had chicken fingers and French fries. There was a jumper for the boys and I got Andrew a poster for his room.

The festival is big into recycling. Brent and I heard a group called "Sean Wiggins and Lone Goat," and we really enjoy them. Their music reminded me of a young Melissa Etheridge. We got two of their CD's "The Kitchen Sink" and "Naked Thursday." I loved their cover of Johnny's Cash's "Folsom Prison" song.

Hope to see you next year at the festival. Hehe

We made it!

Hanging out with Joe and the Avocados!

Joe looking for the avocados!

Bio: Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, NH. She joined the U.S. Army in 1986 and spent 7 years stationed in Germany. In 1997, she left the service and settled in California with her husband. Currently she works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. She loves exploring her new state with her boys.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Goddess Fish Blog Tour Stop for Across the Winds of Time by Bess McBride

Across the Winds of Time
by Bess McBride



While on a genealogical research journey through the Midwest, Molly Hamilton impulsively buys a 100-year-old Victorian house in the middle of a cornfield, and falls in love with the house’s owner...the original owner, that is. Can he be a ghost? The handsome, intriguing attorney certainly feels solid—and somehow her soul knows she has always loved him.

Darius Ferguson has no idea how he has come to present-day Iowa. The last thing he knew, the year was 1880, and he had just buried his fiancée, who happens to look exactly like Molly. He cannot separate the two women in his heart—to him, they are one.

In spite of being drawn to him, Molly thinks Darius is unhinged. Darius wonders if he has joined his fiancée in purgatory. If time travel is possible, will love be enough to build a future together?


“How did you get in here?” I choked out. “Who are you?”

Darius stole a sideways glance over his shoulder to meet my eyes—or to see that indeed I did not have a gun aimed at him—before turning his face away.

“It is I, Molly. The same man you met two weeks ago. The same man you loved over a hundred years ago.”

“You’re nuts!” I spit out. “You’re not here. I’m just imagining things.” My knees were aching, and I shifted awkwardly in the tub to dive under the water again, keeping my neck twisted to watch him. I couldn’t stay in the bathtub all night. I felt so vulnerable—even if this was a hallucination...or a fantasy.

“So, since you’re not really here, you wouldn’t mind keeping your face turned away, so I can get out of the tub, would you?” My heart pounded, the rhythm matching the pounding in my head from smacking it on the edge of the tub. “Please?” I couldn’t keep the quiver from my voice.

“Certainly. It is not proper for me to be standing here at any rate. I simply came upstairs to see if you were here, and there you were—in my tub—a vision of bubbles and curly brown ringlets.”

I pressed a hand to my damp ponytail. A sudden warmth in the pit of my stomach contradicted the cold grip in my chest.

“Go away,” I pleaded. “I may want to daydream about you, but I don’t know that I want to actually see you.”

“As you wish, Molly.” He threw another quick glance over his shoulder, and his mouth curved into an embarrassed smile before he moved away.

I watched him disappear and panicked.

“Wait,” I shrieked. “Wait!”

“Yes, dear?” He backed up to the edge of the door again, still keeping his face averted.

“Wait for me downstairs. Don’t go yet. I’ll be right there.”

Darius inclined his head slightly to the side where I saw his profile, and I could have sighed when a single golden-brown curl fell forward in his face.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Bess McBride made her first serious writing attempt when she was 14. She shut herself up in her bedroom one summer while obsessively working on a time travel/pirate novel set in the beloved Caribbean of her youth, but she wasn't able to hammer it out on a manual typewriter (oh yeah, she's that old) before it was time to go back to school. The draft of that novel has long since disappeared, but the story is still simmering within, and she will finish the adventure one day soon.

Bess was born in Aruba to American parents and lived in Venezuela until her family returned to the United States when she was 12. She couldn't fight the global travel bug within and joined the U.S. Air Force at 18 to "see the world." After 21 wonderful and fulfilling years traveling the world and gaining one beautiful daughter, she pursued her dream of finally getting a college education. With a license in mental health therapy, she worked with veterans and continues to work on behalf of veterans. She writes romantic suspense, contemporary, light paranormal/fantasy and time travel romances and currently has eight novels published. She can be contacted through her web site at

GIVEAWAY: Bess will be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one random commenter during the tour. Drop a line here and let her know what you think of the excerpt.

I'd love to know: if you could travel through time, what time period/nation would you go? What historical person would you like to meet?

The more you comment on the tour, the better your chances of winning. Tour dates for "Across the Winds of Time" can be found here:

Find Bess at:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Tips - Putting the Conflict in Romance

Let's face it – the minute readers pick up a romance they know there's going to be a happy ending. So why pick up a romance at all? Ultimately it's about going on the journey the couple takes to fall in love and how they overcame the conflicts they faced.

So what is romantic conflict? The difficulty the couple faces that threaten to keep them from getting together and making a commitment to one another.

Conflict should not be:
A delay
A meddler
Or an unwillingness to admit the other person is attractive.

In all honesty, a reader is not attracted to a couple who constantly argues. It's all right to have an argument or two, but constant bickering does not make the reader root for the characters.

Misunderstandings make the main characters appear incapable of making themselves clear. It's hard to root for a wishy-washy hero.

A meddler – if another person interferes in the budding relationship of the hero and heroine, then they look too passive. Again, it's hard for a reader to root for them.

If the hero/heroine can't admit the other is attractive then why root for them to be a couple to begin with?

So what is good solid romantic conflict?

Short and long term problems.
Short term problem: This is the problem which brings the couple together. This problem lets the couple get to know one another. Perhaps its to solve a crime or overcome a bad situation.

Long term problem: This is the deep problem, the internal conflict which makes it seem impossible for the couple to get together. It may be a fear of rejection or of being hurt again.

Recall some of your favorite romances. Was there a meddler? A delay? A misunderstanding? Probably not. That type of conflict in a romance may be an incident, but ultimately, they don't give the story the realistic conflict needed for the characters' journey.

Reference: On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, 2007, F&W Publications.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Travel to Victorian England this Sunday

on my 6 sentence Sunday featuring an excerpt from my steampunk romance, Victorian Scoundrel, BRONZE winner in the 2012 Reader's Favorite Contest in Romance: Historical.


The men looked at each other, at her, then back at themselves. She wasn't sure if they were befuddled, confused, or wanted to laugh. Finally, the older gentleman spoke. "Princess Alice is seven years old."

Alice bit the inside of her lip, realizing she had totally forgotten where she was due to the younger gentleman's attention. She slid her glasses back on. "Simply call me Alice -- Alice Windsor."

"And you may call me Prime Minister."

BLURB: When Alice follows her cousin, Edmund, back through time she has no idea the mischief she's in for.









Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review for Philippa Gregory's: The Lady of the Rivers

Book Review for: "The Lady of the Rivers"
Written by: Philippa Gregory
Simon & Schuster Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4165-6370-9
Avail: print, ebook
4 Stars

Gregory spins a story full of greed, betrayal, danger, love and loss with "The Lady of the Rivers," book three in her "Cousins' War" Series. The novel tells the tale of Jacquetta Woodville, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville, who was the wife and Queen of Edward IV.

The novel opens with a young Jacquetta exploring her gift of sight under her grandmother's tutelage. family is responsible for the custody of Joan of Arc. Jacquetta soon learns it isn't wise to openly display her gift of sight after watching Joan of Arc burned at the stake.

John, Duke of Bedford and Regent of France, marries Jacquetta, hoping to put her talents to good use. Jacquetta meets a young squire, Richard Woodville. A fondness grows between her and Richard. John takes Jacquetta to England where she meets his nephew, the King of England, Henry VI. John dies and Jacquetta marries Richard. She becomes a member of the Queen's court. As Henry VI descends into madness, dare Jacquetta call upon her gifts to foretell what will happen to England?

Gregory brings history alive in a rich, vibrant, emotional, and personal way that engages the reader and keeps them turning the pages. She's done her research and it shows, but she's also taken fictional liberties with some of the events. What I like is that she blends fact and fictional effortlessly and she paints the situations in such a way to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. For me, the best part of her writing is how she lets the characters' humanity shine, good or bad.

The book is written in the present tense from Jacquetta's perspective, which I found a bit disconcerting, as I prefer the past tense, but it not take away from storytelling.

"The Lady of the Rivers" is a fascinating story about a complex woman that had the ear of the men and women who defined an age.