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Reunited By A Baby Secret

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Michelle

This week sees the release of the next book in THE VINEYARDS OF CALANETTI continuity… REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET. This series was so much fun to be a part of that I thought I’d share a snippet from the book. :-)

 

 

Set up: Marianna and Ryan met two months ago on a beach in Thailand where they had a steamy holiday fling. In this scene, Marianna is standing in the corridor outside of the executive suite of Rome’s Grande Plaza hotel wondering what on earth surfer boy Ryan is doing in the penthouse suite. When she thinks of Ryan she thinks of board shorts, flip flops and tousled hair. Oh, and sexy smiles. She doesn’t associate him with swish hotel suites that cater to the world’s elite. She’s nervous. She has some important news to deliver, but despite the serious nature of her visit, she can’t wait to clap eyes on him again. She’s praying he’ll be happy to see her too.

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Marianna pushed away from the wall, wiped her palms down her skirt and straightened her shirt before lifting her hand and finally knocking. A thrill coursed through her. She and Ryan might not have made plans to see each other again, but he’d never been far from her thoughts during the last two months and maybe—

The door opened and Marianna’s breath caught and held, suspended between hard pounds of her heart. The haze in front of her eyes slowly dissolved, and in sluggish bewilderment her brain registered that the stranger standing in front of her dressed in a bespoke suit and a crisp cotton business shirt and tie was—

She blinked and peered up at him. ‘Ryan?’

He leaned towards her and then frowned. ‘Marianna?’

The stranger was Ryan! Her pulse jumped as she took in the dark blond hair, the blue-green eyes, and the sensual curve of his lips. Lips that had started to lift, but were suddenly pressed together into a grim straight line.

She stared at that mouth, at the cool light in his eyes. How different he seemed. Her stomach started to churn with a seriousness that forced her to concentrate on her breathing for a moment.

‘What are you doing here?’

That was uttered in a voice she barely recognised. She dug her fingernails into her palms. Smile. Please. Please just smile.

Her inner pleading did no good. If anything, his frown deepened. She stared at him, unable to push a word out of a throat that had started to cramp. Keep breathing. Do not throw up on his feet!

He glanced away and then back at her, and finally down at his watch. ‘I have a meeting shortly.’

A chill chased itself down her spine as her nausea receded. Why would he not smile?

‘I wish you’d called.’

She reached out to steady herself against the doorjamb. He was giving her the brush-off?

He lifted his wrist to glance at his watch again. ‘I’m sorry, but—’

‘I’m pregnant!’

The words blurted out of her with no forethought, without any real volition, and with the force of one of Thailand’s summer storms. Her common sense put its head in its hands and wept.

ReunitedBaby

 

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Kids’ first day of school and I’m feeling giddy

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Forgive me for being a little late with my post today. It’s my kids’ first day of school and I’m feeling giddy to have my house back to myself. I work from home, so when my boys, 10 and 15, are here I never get much done without being interrupted.

IMG_0036I no longer have to make their breakfasts or lunches (not that the 15-year-old was ever out of bed earlier enough this summer to eat either at the usual time), but whenever I sit down to write or edit, it’s all but guaranteed someone will be at my door within minutes. Or sitting on the couch in my office playing music on his phone (15-year-old) or MineCraft on his iPad (10-year-old).

Heck, even as I write this, my little dog is on his back haunches, front paws tapping on my arm and sometimes my keyboard, forcing me to delete his key strikes.

But at least the house is quiet. And I am enjoying my second cup of coffee. (McDonald’s brand. They sell it in stores now!) And with the day stretching out in front of me, all is good.

SALE ALERT!

REVENGE-BEST-SERVED-HOT[4]This week only, all Entangled Indulgence books are on sale for 99 cents. That’s less than a buck! So, if you haven’t already bought my June release, Revenge Best Served Hot, now is a good time to do so!  You can find it by clicking here.

 

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It’s the End of the Summer – Donna Alward

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Lo! a ripe sheaf of many golden days
Gleaned by the year in autumn’s harvest ways,
With here and there, blood-tinted as an ember,
Some crimson poppy of a late delight
Atoning in its splendor for the flight
Of summer blooms and joys­
This is September.

September, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

 

There’s a song by Theory of a Deadman that’s called “End of the Summer”. I like it a lot. It makes it sound as if the end of the summer is the end of something great, but for me there’s always this little uptick when I think about the end of August. I mean, it’s followed by SEPTEMBER which is one of my favorite months of the year. Except when there are hurricanes, of course.

In May and June, we can’t wait for summer to arrive. We’ve spent months in the daily grind. We’re ready for sun, flowers, green grass, cold beer, burgers on the grill, family get-togethers, and an altogether “looser” kind of existence.

But after a while, I get tired of that. I know. CRAZY right? Still, I’m someone who loves a schedule and order. I like quiet and work and yes, some predictability. I also love school. September comes with a sense of contentment for me. Maybe I’m not going back to school, but when I see kids going back or universities buzzing with new students, I get all nostalgic.

Then there’s turning leaves, fruit harvests, cooler nights…it’s just bliss.

Personally I’m excited to see the end of summer. Fall is my favorite time of year. There’s just something so fulfilling about it. Maybe because I’m a farm girl, so fall is harvest time as well as back-to-school time, but I know when I put up vegetables or fruit for the winter there’s a sense of accomplishment in having provided.

How about you? Are you sad to see summer end, or looking forward to September?

Donna

www.donnaalward.com

 

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Barbara Wallace: 5 Reasons Why Coffee is Awesome

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Those who know me will find this hard to believe, but once upon a time, I didn’t drink coffee. I preferred tea.  Then one day my office ran out of tea, and I needing a pick-me-up to get me through my next meeting, made a cup of coffee instead, and

                 Well, hey now!

From that moment on, I realized coffee was put on this earth to make our lives better, brighter, and more productive. If not for this delicious black nectar (served with a splash of milk thank you very much), I would not have written my first novel, let alone the next fifteen. Coffee is what fuels my day. My world.

Some people would suggest that caffeine is addictive. To them, I say probably so, but it’s an awesome addiction. And now, thanks to science, I have proof that coffee has amazing super powers.  I share some of that proof with you today.

Did you know….

Coffee Brings Happiness. “Tell me something I don’t know,” reply coffee drinkers from around the world. Okay.  Did you know though that there are actual studies that say coffee decreases depression and that the aroma reduces stress? No wonder the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning brings a smile to my face. Source

Coffee Makes you Smarter.   And I don’t mean simply because the brain fog has lifted. Caffeine stimulates neurotransmitters making us more focused and efficient. Source

coffee?

Coffee burns fat. That’s right. Drinking caffeine can actually increase your metabolism from 3-11%. I’m guessing scientists mean black coffee though, not a big foamy latte. Source

Coffee really is good for you. Did you know that coffee comes from a fruit? The coffee “bean” is actually a seed from the coffee cherry. So technically, coffee counts as one of your five-a-day fruits and vegetable. No, not really. It does, however, contain a ton of antioxidants which are good for you. Source

In keeping with that last point….

Coffee is life. Literally. A Harvard university study showed people who drink three or more cups of coffee a day have a 10-15% lower risk of death of things like diabetes and heart disease. Whoo hoo! Source

So drink up, my friends.  Coffee is as awesome as well always knew it to be.

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Barbara Wallace’s next book BEAUTY AND HER BILLIONAIRE BOSS features characters enjoying coffee in the Cotswolds and in Paris.  Not coincidentally, she did the same thing in both those places while on her anniversary trip last year.

The book releases on September 1.  You can preorder your copy right now by clicking on the links below.  (And don’t forget book 1 in the series, A MILLIONAIRE FOR CINDERELLA.)

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Paris might be the city of love, but it makes trainee chef Piper Rush feel lonely! It’s only the tentative bond she forges with her boss, brooding billionaire Frederic Lafontaine, that gives her the sense of belonging she’s always craved…

Gradually losing his sight, Frederic keeps everyone at arm’s length. But as Piper brings laughter and light back into his heart, she also opens his eyes to what life could be like…together. Can Piper convince Frederic that she is the missing ingredient to his happily-ever-after?

 

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Thought for the day…

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instagram-for-businessI’ve just read Kate Hardy’s post on her cracking weekend filling the well.

I think my well might have run dry. I used to find it easy to adopt new technology, click, click, click and I was away and happy. Until yesterday. Yesterday I finally sorted out my password (which oddly was none of the ones I’d written down in a secret place) and downloaded Instagram to my new smart phone.

So far so good. I took several photographs of my feet while figuring out how to take a picture and so far have managed to post a blank picture on my Instagram page.

I wasted an entire afternoon when I could have been writing. And why? I have a camera and a phone camera and I have no problem getting those pictures on Facebook. I just thought it would be great to be able to snap while I was out and post with a caption. At least that’s what I told myself. What I was really doing was sabotaging myself.

Back in the old days, when I first started writing and I wrote a steady 1500 words a day without any problem there were none of these gadgets about. No email. No web. No FB or Twitter. I just wrote and I need to get back to that or this book (provisionally entitled The Sheikh’s Temporary Princess) is never going to be done.

What I need is less food for the mind, less distraction, less of everything except BICHOK!

That’s my thought for the day. And meanwhile you have until 30 August to download A Point of Pride #free. Click the pic for a link to Amazon but it’s available everywhere.

 

A point of pride freebie

Food for the mind by Kate Hardy

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Kate HardyIn my last post, I went on rather a lot (!) about exercise. But it’s not just exercise that keeps you healthy mentally – it’s refilling the well with new experiences.

Last weekend, my daughter and her best friend wanted to meet up with a friend who lives about 200 miles north of us. There isn’t a direct train, so her best friend’s mum and I decided to drive the girls there and spend the weekend in the city. Sadly, a spa weekend was a bit out of our budget, but we decided to chill out around the museums and do a bit of window shopping. (We walked 21,000 steps on Saturday – the fitbit gave me a special badge for walking more than 20k steps.)

We also found the best cinema ever – one which had proper sofas instead of slightly uncomfortable seats, plus loads of leg room, and the ushers came over during the ads to take our drinks order (and we could’ve ordered pizza as well, but we were being good). We were so impressed. (And we definitely recommend The Man from UNCLE – really good fun. Plus Armie Hammer is very much romance hero material.) (Cough.)

We went to the Royal Armouries, and saw a chalk drawing by Daniel Maclise which hasn’t been exhibited for more than 40 years (and yes, this is indeed the original drawing on massive sheets of paper, hung in the gallery). It’s next to his painting, but best of all there was a computer screen where you could compare the drawing with the painting so you could see what the artist had changed. And the detail was astounding, even down to the veins and hair on the horses’ faces.

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We were also impressed by the display of armaments in the tower. (Four floors of it. Wouldn’t like to have to dust that lot, though…)

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And the elephant armour. Apparently it takes three people just to lift the headpiece.

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We also saw a wedding party outside the cathedral – and look at their transport! How awesome is that?

aug leeds bus

We made a connection with the past – this is the footprint of a Roman soldier, with a hobnailed boot.

aug leeds boot

And on Sunday we enjoyed strolling around Kirkstall Abbey (the park and grounds were lovely – just the place for a Sunday morning run or walk).

aug leeds kirkstallAnd we visited the Victorian museum – three streets of houses and shops, exactly as they were at the time. Food for book, there. (This would be under a different name, though. I still want to do my Regency doctor. Except it isn’t a romance.) I’ll spare you the spooky dolls because both teens say it’s enough to give people nightmares – but this is something else wax that’s very interesting. An early record. (And music is very close to my heart…)

aug leeds record

 

So have you been somewhere new which you enjoyed, recently?

51F+pSNIMGL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_HARDY-BachelorAtHerBidding-SMALLKate’s latest releases are Bachelor at her Bidding (the cake book), and A Promise… to a Proposal (contains some really romantic bits of Prague!). You can find out more about the books, and Kate, on her website (http://www.katehardy.com) and her blog (http://katehardy.blogspot.com/) – or find her on Facebook

 

 

Lessons for Your Mind and Body, Part II

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No4

So, two weeks ago I talked about things I tell people that would be helpful for their mind and body. Because this month we’re talking about taking care of your body.

Lesson #1: Take things on step at a time. Achieving goals can be a slow process, but that’s okay. Progress should be measured on your own terms.

Lesson #2: Saying ‘no’ or thinking of yourself first won’t hurt you or anyone else.

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It’s better to decline when you feel like it’s necessary. Not verbalizing that two letter word can add stress when you don’t need it.

And how long will the stress last? It’s a burden your psyche really doesn’t want to deal with. And the longer you keep the negative in, the worse it will get.

So don’t. No one is perfect and we can’t do everything that’s put before us.

I admit, I used to horrible at this. I hated using the two letter word because I worried others wouldn’t like me or it would be seen as a flaw. Definitely not the right reasons. My personality is to help others and using ‘no’ isn’t akin to that at all.

I said ‘no’ a couple weeks ago and I got into a lot of trouble. But after the dust settled, things turned for the better. If I hadn’t done it, I’d still be in the same predicament.

How do you feel about saying ‘no’? Any tips on saying it without offending others?

Abbi :-)

 

 

 

Adventures with #KevinTheEgret

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I live in Florida, which means there is tons of wildlife here, and always something cool to see. From the turtles we rescued on our bike ride to the baby frogs we saw crossing the road, and the hermit crab who was on his back that we righted and put back in the water…every day, I see something else cool.

But my favorite right now is right in my neighborhood. I have a pair of egrets and a wood stork that show up almost every day. I take pictures of them and share them on my Instagram (@ShirleyJump) and my Twitter (@ShirleyJump), with little captions about what I think they are up to today.

11800334_10153064464068364_929090059516377819_nIt started with #KevinTheEgret (my son named him). He’s the tamest of the three, and visits the neighbor’s houses to get little snacks.

11061677_10153101272668364_7011946549100162661_nThen he was joined by #WallyTheStork, who doesn’t seem to like Kevin much, but who trots along to all the same houses, at the same time with Kevin, but they kinda keep their backs to each other and pretend the other doesn’t exist 😉

11889417_10153086575403364_7333354190888814704_nLately, there’s been a new, younger, smaller egret, that I’ve dubbed #LloydTheEgret. He’s the shyest of all of them, and much harder to photograph (he’s the one closest to me in this picture). I just love trying to find out where these guys are each day, and adding a little photo chronicle of their journeys 😉

Do you have a favorite wild neighbor at your house?

Shirley

shirleyjump_AND_THEN_FOREVER_ebook_finalShirley Jump is the author of AND THEN FOREVER, out now at all major etailers. Darcy Williams loves her simple life, which includes waitressing at The Love Shack and avoiding temptation. Her guarded existence is about to be turned upside down with the entrance of Kincaid Foster, who has never gotten over his first love.

When he sees Darcy dancing her way around The Love Shack, memories of her soft skin, gentle touch, and heated kisses come rushing back. As the privileged son of a wealthy family, Kincaid was too young to stand up to his overbearing father when he and Darcy were together. Now, he’s back on the island—free of the family shackles—and the chiseled, big-time lawyer wants a second chance.

Will Darcy reveal to Kincaid that he is the father of her now six year old daughter, or will she let fate decide what will happen on the steamy nights to come? It doesn’t take long before both of them realize that anything can happen on a hot summer night.

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