This photo was taken in the Florida Everglades. The Florida panther is a critically endangered species and is a subspecies of cougar. We kept our eyes peeled during our visit to the Everglades, but they’re very shy and it’s unusual to spot them.
I’m over at Brinda Berry’s blog today and the topic is shifters—both the feline kind and werewolves. Come on over and say hello.
Oh, and before you disappear, I have a very special cover reveal tomorrow for One Night of Misbehavior. Don’t forget!
In this emotional and powerfully erotic tale of love and redemption, a tender vicar’s daughter and a tortured war hero discover that sin may be their only salvation.
When Mary Smith’s corrupt, debt-ridden brother drags her to a seedy pub to sell her virtue to the highest bidder, Alasdair Thornham leaps to the rescue. Of course the marquess is far from perfect husband material. Although he is exceedingly handsome, with a perfect, strong body, chiseled jaw, and piercing green eyes, Alasdair is also too fond of opium, preferring delirium to reality. Still, he has come to Mary’s aid, and now she intends to return the favor. She will show him that he is not evil, just troubled.
Alasdair Thornham is a good man, but he’s addicted to opium. He finds himself in a pub where an auction is taking place. Mary Smith’s brother is selling off his virginal sister in order to earn money to pay his debts. Alasdair realizes something is wrong with the woman, suspects the use of drugs, and decides to act. He buys her, and thus starts an adventure that changes both of their lives. At first Mary fights the situation, but Alasdair decides they should travel to Scotland and get married.
Both Mary and Alasdair are great characters. Alasdair, in particular, is interesting and not your typical hero. He’s addicted to drugs, and although he doesn’t care about himself, he tries to do the right thing for Mary and to protect her with his name. Once she is safe, he’s determined to complete his downward spiral into drugs and oblivion. Mary will be his last good deed. Meanwhile, Mary hopes to go to London to find her missing mother—she’s recently discovered her mother is still alive and that her parents weren’t married—then she intends to disappear and leave her husband to his insanity. Both main characters have solid goals and set about trying to make them happen. But the stakes change when they make love. Gradually, their feelings for each other shift, and it was wonderful to watch.
The secondary characters—Mary’s brother and Alasdair’s cousin—are both determined to stop the marriage. They’re both motivated by greed and money, and make suitable villains, forcing our hero and heroine to take action.
Hero of My Heart is an unusual historical because it takes place away from the social scene of London. The hero and heroine attempt to steal in order to get what they need, and suffer the consequences when things go wrong. I liked the unexpectedness of this story, and enjoyed the closure at the end. An unusual and satisfying read that takes the reader on an emotional journey while two people learn what they want isn’t exactly what they need. Recommended.
ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is a recipe I discovered in an Australian cookbook titled Country Women’s Association, Biscuits and Slices. I’m such a fan of ginger and simply had to try making the slice. The results were excellent, and it’s one that I’ll make again in the future. The scent of the different spices as the slice cooks is gorgeous.
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125 g butter/half cup butter
pinch of salt
1 dessertspoon ground cinnamon
1 dessertspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 egg, well-beaten
1 cup sour milk (make this by adding a squeeze of lemon juice to a cup of fresh milk)
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
2. Combine the sugar, golden syrup, butter, salt and all spices into a large saucepan and heat until the ingredients are melted and combined together.
3. Add the beaten egg and the sour mix. Combine well.
4. Sift the flour and soda and stir into mixture.
5. Add the raisins.
6. Place in a paper lined slice tin.
7. Bake for 30 minutes.
1. My oven cooks quickly, and I cooked my slice for 25 minutes.
2. The combination of raisins didn’t work for me, so I left them out.
3. Slice into squares and serve for afternoon tea or serve warm for dessert with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or custard.
I’m thrilled to welcome Christina Phillips here today with her first release from Ellora’s Cave. Christina writes a wickedly hot and sensual tale, and if you like sexy Roman warriors, you won’t want to miss this one! While you’re here make sure you leave a comment to have a chance to win BETRAYED. Over to Christina…
Thank you Shelley for inviting me back to your blog today! I’ve never participated in a Thursday 13 post before, and Shelley suggested I might like to try one. Since BETRAYED, my upcoming release from Ellora’s Cave (my first release from EC and I am So Excited!) involves sexy Roman warriors and magical Druid heroines I thought I would give a run down of 13 of my fave ancient gods and goddesses from the first century AD.
Celtic Gods & Goddesses
1. Annwyn – Not a god but the Otherworld: the Source of the Universal Life Force.
2. The Morrigan – A powerful triple aspect Great Goddess representing the three stages of life: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. The Morrigan was also a warrior goddess and could transform into a crow, where she would circle above a battlefield. She was the goddess of death and rebirth – the circle of life.
3. Cerridwen – Goddess of Wisdom and transformation and also associated with the Triad – the Great Goddess in her Mother aspect although sometimes she was worshipped as the Crone. She was the Keeper of the Cauldron (the cauldron representing knowledge and inspiration). Interesting how later the cauldron came to be associated with witches.
4. Blodeuwedd – The Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. Also known as Flower Face as she was created from flowers. She represents new beginnings, lunar magick and wisdom.
5. Arianrhod – Goddess of the Moon and weaver of fates. She was a powerful goddess of reincarnation and could shapeshift into an owl, when she could see into the darkness of the human soul.
6. Gwydion – The greatest of the Enchanters, Warrior Magician and God of Illusion. He was also the brother god of Arianrhod.
7. Lugus – God of travelers, Finder of Paths, a champion and historian.
Roman Gods & Goddesses
8. Juno – Queen of the Gods associated with all aspects of a woman’s life, especially married life and childbirth. Protector of the Roman state.
9. Jupiter – King of the Roman gods, river, sky, lightning, thunder; symbol is the Eagle. A legionary known as the Aquilifer was responsible for carrying the eagle standard of a Roman Legion. It was a rallying point for the legionaries in the chaos of battle, a symbol of their power and signified the honor of Rome herself. Losing the Aquila in battle was a great disgrace.
10. Mercury – Guide on the road and in travel; influential in making money and in trade. In the first century BC Caesar noted that of all the gods the Celts of Gallia (Gaul) worshipped, Mercury had the largest number of images. However, it was far more likely that the ancient Celts worshipped Lugus as both gods were depicted as semi-naked youths wearing winged shoes and carrying a distinctive rod with two serpents intertwined.
11. Minerva – Goddess of Wisdom, the learning and arts.
12. Hades – the whole of the Underworld in classical mythology was referred to as Hades, where the spirits of the dead went after their death. There were five regions of Hades, including the River Styx and the heavenly-like Elysium Fields.
13. Tartarus – the fourth region of Hades where the evil spirits would end up in a pit of torment for all eternity.
The Mabinogion,translated by Lady Charlotte Guest. Welsh legends collected in the Red Book of Hergest, a manuscript which is in the library of Oxford University.
Arianrhod’s legend is in the Fourth Branch, Math, the Son of Mathonwy
In 51 A.D., Druid priestess Nimue is injured and enslaved by the hated Roman Legions. Even though she is drawn to her captor, she’s determined to escape and complete her mission for the Briton king and her duty to Arianrhod, the goddess she is bound to.
The tough Roman warrior who captures her is far from the brutal barbarian she expects. His touch inflames her desires and passion burns between them. Though Nimue does not accept her enslavement, her heart surrenders to her enemy. When Arianrhod appears to her in the form of an owl, Nimue knows the union is blessed.
Roman warrior Tacitus is enchanted by the fiery beauty who shows no fear and challenges him at every turn. Though enslaving her goes against his heart, he’s determined to make her his. No woman has ever heated his blood as she does. But when he discovers her true nature as one who actually communes with the gods, his loyalties are torn between his heritage and a woman who could destroy everything he’s ever believed in.
A Romantica® fantasy erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Last year one of our final stops during our cruise was the island of Madeira. We weren’t meant to visit the island, but Hurricane Sandy meant a change to our itinerary. Not such a bad thing since Madeira is beautiful.
So what can you do in Madeira?
1. Take the cable car to Monte at the top of the hill. It’s a long ride with glorious views of the city and coast.
2. Visit the tropical gardens at the top.
3. Take a ride in one of the Monte toboggan wicker baskets. Two men tow, then guide your basket down the hill. Some go faster than others. The men who do all the hard work wear a white shirt and trousers plus a straw hat.
4. Visit one of the many shops that sell madeira wine – not really to my taste since it was quite sweet.
5. Wander around the some of the beautiful churches.
6. Check out the markets for fruit, flowers, fish and people watching!
7. Dine at one of the restaurants. I had fresh fish with a madeira sauce, and it was delicious.
8. Try some of the traditional Madeira bread.
9. Go for a sail on the Santa Maria, a replica of Christopher Columbus’s flag ship.
10. Wander in what used to be a red light area. The area had a bad name, but the buildings were given cheaply to local artists. All they had to do in exchange was decorate their doors. These days it’s fun to wander down the alley and check out the different doors.
This is a selection of things to do in and near the township of Funchal. From what I hear the rest of the island is just as beautiful. Maybe next time!
Everything about her was so casual tonight, it was throwing him off his game. He’d come over here prepared to do battle with Amazon Ellen, and instead he got this woman with the butter-soft body and the seductive smile.
An accomplished lawyer and driven single mother, Ellen Callahan isn’t looking for any help. She’s doing just fine on her own. So Ellen’s more than a little peeved when her brother, an international pop star, hires a security guard to protect her from a prying press that will stop at nothing to dig up dirt on him. But when the tanned and toned Caleb Clark shows up at her door, Ellen might just have to plead the fifth.
Back home after a deployment in Iraq and looking for work as a civilian, Caleb signs on as Ellen’s bodyguard. After combat in the hot desert sun, this job should be a breeze. But guarding the willful beauty is harder than he imagined–and Caleb can’t resist the temptation to mix business with pleasure. With their desires growing more undeniable by the day, Ellen and Caleb give in to an evening of steamy passion. But will they ever be able to share more than just a one-night stand?
Along Came Trouble is book two in Ms. Knox’s Camelot series. I haven’t read the first story in the series and didn’t feel that I’d missed out on series details related in the earlier book.
Ellen’s pop star brother has fled Camelot, leaving his ex-girlfriend and his sister at the mercy of paparazzi looking for a newsworthy story. He does, however, arrange for a local security company to provide protection for his sister and ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Ellen is also dealing with her ex-husband and his shenanigans.
Caleb, the security guard wants to do a good job and get his business off the ground. Ellen wants her privacy and the security guard gone, despite the zip of attraction she feels for him.
I enjoyed this novella very much and read it in one sitting. The characters are likeable and well-rounded and the secondary romance between Carly, Ellen’s neighbor and Jamie, Ellen’s brother adds to the charm of this story. Jamie comes across as selfish and careless of those who care for him, taking them for granted. He’s made to work for what he wants, making me cheer. Caleb with his strong and steady manner is very compelling and likeable. Real hero material wrapped up with sex appeal. My only slight niggle was with Ellen. At times I felt she took her need for independence to extremes, despite her motivation.
The plot moved along at a good clip with everything tied up neatly at the end. I also liked that Ellen wants a no-strings affair with Caleb while Caleb wants something permanent with Ellen. The shift from traditional agendas made for an interesting read.
If you’re a fan of contemporaries and small-town romances you’ll love Along Came Trouble. Highly recommended.
This book was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When I was a child my mother made a lot of scones. Since we lived in the country, it wasn’t easy to run out to buy a loaf of bread. Whenever we ran out of bread, mostly during the weekends when we were eating her out of house and home, she’d whip up a batch of scones. I remember cheese scones, warm from the oven, slathered with butter and date or sultana scones heaped with jam and whipped cream. My mum made excellent scones.
In the past I’ve tried making scones, with mixed results. Although the ingredients are basic, they’re tricky to make.
Here are some tips I’ve discovered along the way:
1. Work quickly and don’t over handle your scone dough.
2. Pre-heat the oven. Scones should be cooked in a super hot oven.
3. Most scone recipes tell you to rub in the butter. I find it easier and quicker to grate the butter into the dry ingredients.
4. The dough should be on the moist side rather than dry.
5. New Zealand cook, Alison Holst suggests that if you have problems with your scones, don’t make plain ones where every imperfection is evident. Try pinwheel scones or twist-type scones.
3 cups plain flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
50g butter/ .44 stick butter
1 + 1/2 cups of milk
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Grate in the butter. Add the milk and mix quickly without overmixing (most important!). Place on a floured board and roll lightly until about 15mm (3/4 inch) thick. Cut into squares or use a cutter to cut out rounds.
Bake in a hot oven pre-heated to 230C (450F) for 10 minutes.
Makes around 16 scones
1. I added cranberries to my scones – around 1/2 cup. You can add sultanas, chopped dates or add cheese to make savory scones.
2. I cut my scones a little bigger and ended up with 14.
3. I served my scones with cherry jam and thick Greek yoghurt I’d made. Normally, I’d go for jam and whipped cream.
4. If you have trouble with scones try this recipe-Date and Orange scones-with cream and Sprite. It’s pretty fail proof.
Are you a scone fan? Is there a recipe from your childhood that you like to make?
After thinking about self-publishing and watching from the side line for quite a while, I’ve finally dipped my toes into the waters and published my first book. There is oodles of information on the web about self-publishing. Here are a few tips, if you’re a beginner like me.
1. Join the Indie Romance Ink group. This yahoo group is specifically for romance writers, and the members share freely about their experiences in self-publishing and offer advice as necessary. If you’re not a romance writer try the Indie Authors Forum.
2. Author Maria Zannini has written a useful book about self-publishing and promotion called Self-Publisher’s Punch List. Contact her directly to grab your free copy.
4. Google is your friend. As I mentioned, there is a wealth of information online, written by those who have blazed the self-publishing trails. Ranging from You tube videos to blog posts, if you do a search, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
5. If you’re on a budget, check out some of the pre-made covers available for sale. If you’re lucky you’ll find a perfect cover to suit your needs. There are some very talented artists out there.
Do you have any tips for beginners? And a question from me – for those of you who do your own formatting, which software do you use to make your PDF and Mobi formats?
My first self-published book Wild Child is now available from Amazon and Smashwords.
Zoe Underwood is one sexy disruption.
From the moment her father married Matt’s mother, Zoe has tempted Matt Cantrell with her seductive curves and driven him crazy with her flirting and provocative manner. The thing is they have no future because Zoe is his stepsister. Determined to dodge trouble, Matt leaves Auckland to live and work in the Gold Coast of Australia. A sea between them should do the trick and let him move forward without the “Zoe” distraction in his life.
Matt Cantrell is one stubborn dude.
No one presses Zoe’s buttons like the tall, dark and gorgeous Matt. In fact, every other man pales in comparison. One last play. Zoe decides to invade Matt’s territory and make her move before another clever woman snaps him up. She’ll bust through emotional walls and push boundaries. By the time she’s finished, Matt won’t know what hit him. Yes. Good or bad, she’ll stir things up and take a chance on love.
Biding His Thyme, book four in my Fancy Free series, is out later today at Ellora’s Cave. My heroine is called Sorrel Thyme, and she lives in a cult. The rest of the people who live in the cult call Sorrel “Bitter” since that is the literal meaning of her name. Sorrel hates it, and I’m pretty sure if her mother was still around, the rest of the Children of Nature inhabitants wouldn’t be quite as mean. Sorrel just ignores the nickname, although it hurts being called Bitter instead of Sorrel.
Naming characters in a book takes almost as much time as naming a child in real life. I scan my baby naming book and try out several names before deciding on the perfect one. There are many pitfalls when it comes to picking a name. Check out my article on Naming Characters, which explains some of them.
When it came to Sorrel Thyme, I deliberately picked a name that would get her teased. Her surname also connects nicely with her occupation. She works with herbs and flowers making beauty products and a special potion called the Dream Cream. Her name and nickname become part of her characterization.
How do/did you go about picking names for your children/characters? Did you find it stressful? (I sure find picking names stressful!)
Born in the Children of Nature cult, Sorrel “Bitter” Thyme is destined to spend the rest of her life there, but not if she has her way. She’s perfected the dream cream that enhances orgasmic pleasure in those who use it. Now she must approach Fancy Free management with her invention while making sure the cult leader doesn’t learn of her idea and steal Sorrel’s chance of escape.
Jake Ramsey, a Special Air Services soldier on sick leave, agrees to go undercover in the cult to help local police close a case against the leader. Sorrel is his inside contact, a woman who is constantly ridiculed by the other cult members.
The partnership works well and kisses meant to cement their cover take on new possibilities. Jake uncovers secrets, and their loving heats up, passion coalescing into more than friendship. Then Sorrel is tossed into danger. What began as a favor is now deadly serious—-a game Jake must win to keep Sorrel safe.