Sunday, May 30, 2010

Have a safe holiday!

Does anyone have special plans for the holiday? Our weekend has been fairly low-key and will most likely continue to be! I'm taking my mom to the cemetery this afternoon to plant flowers and then we'll probably watch our town's parade, although it's supposed to be close to 90 today and I'm not sure we'll be up for sitting in the sun after digging and planting at the cemetery. Maybe we'll be able to find a shady spot to park our lawn chairs. I hate to miss it because it's the least attended of all of our parades and I think the servicemen and women who are in the parade deserve our thanks while they're still here to appreciate it. Do you ever thank a serviceman or woman? I'll say thank you when I see someone out - once at our local grocery store, probably about two months ago, I told a guy in fatigues "Thank you for your service." and he didn't know what to say back. I was about 15 feet away when he called out "Ma'am? You have a nice evening, and be careful driving home."
So if your town has a parade, I encourage you to go!
I hope the rest of the weekend is relaxing and fun for everyone - please be careful if you're out on the road.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SUGAR CREEK, the latest from Toni Blake!

Author Toni Blake has a new release officially available TODAY! I feel confident that her readers are going to adore SUGAR CREEK and revisiting Destiny, Ohio! I was very lucky to get an early copy and I truly was sad to see it end. Knowing that the next book in the series will be out in a few months does help!
Clicking here will take you to a page on Toni's website with a great excerpt and ordering information - go on now and have a look - and order your own copy while you're there!

My review:
Despite a challenging, successful job in Chicago, Rachel Farris wastes no time in returning to Destiny, Ohio to help her ailing grandmother at the family apple orchard. The first person she runs into is Destiny police officer Mike Romo – as in the generations-long Farris vs. Romo family feud Romos. Clocked and ticketed by Officer Romo for speeding on her way into town isn’t quite how Rachel anticipated being welcomed back and the two quickly and repeatedly begin to butt heads until there’s the smallest hint of a spark. When the speeding tickets begin piling up, those embers begin to increase in intensity.

Rachel has financially assisted her family for a long time and while she’s starting to feel slight tugs of settling down in Destiny to take over the orchard, she worries that it won’t provide the income necessary to keep everyone’s heads above water. Frustrated that her grandmother will only share the story of her long ago romance with Giovanni Romo in small increments, she begins to realize that her grandmother had experienced the very same weakness when it came to a Romo male. Rachel further realizes that her grandmother suffered a broken heart as a result and she’s determined not to let her heart become involved.

Mike is a small town boy with a heavy guilt hanging over him, keeping him from finding any sort of true happiness. Rachel is a city girl who thrives on the congestion, shopping and general busy-ness of Chicago. Mike and Rachel both have heady sexual appetites and while Rachel is unashamed about her experience, Toni Blake has successfully written that forwardness without making Rachel seem slutty or promiscuous. Watching these two lose themselves in each other, while insisting that nothing is going to change in the long run, is especially fun. Rachel and Mike have an undeniable love-hate relationship and no one is more shocked over the “love” portion of the relationship than their families and friends. Neither understands what is happening between them and likewise, neither is in any hurry to see their “sex only” fling come to an end. There is backstory explaining the Farris-Romo feud that is a sort of story within the story, a bonus of sorts, that will cause a tight pull in your chest and a lump in your throat. Secondary characters are as familiar, charming and aggravating as your own family and friends and lend a touch of reality. Also interesting is Toni’s trademark pet name for the heroine is reversed in SUGAR CREEK; the hero gets the nickname this time – so fun! This has long been one of my favorite things about picking up one of Toni’s books – the anticipation of what that pet name will be!

I adore small town stories and returning to Destiny with Toni Blake is a wonderfully enjoyable visit. I was slightly disappointed that Jenny and Mick from ONE RECKLESS SUMMER, the first in the “Destiny” series, weren’t more visible in SUGAR CREEK, but other secondary characters were colorful and intriguing enough to curb that disappointment and make me curious as to whose story will be next.
I give SUGAR CREEK a very strong recommendation for all readers who appreciate well-written contemporary romance that’s full of emotion, intricate attention to detail, and passion that is positively molten.

Thanks for checking out Toni's latest book - and thank you, Toni, for allowing me to read and review SUGAR CREEK for you!

Monday, May 24, 2010

IT HAD TO BE YOU by Francis Ray

Francis Ray is a new author to me, although she has an impressive bibliography on her website. I was excited to read IT HAD TO BE YOU for Romance Junkies review and am anticipating reading many more of her books.
Ms. Ray has a great excerpt on her website and I encourage all who enjoy romance to take a couple of minutes to check it out.

From Ms. Ray's website:
From New York Times bestselling author Francis Ray comes a dazzling new novel of the Grayson family and their friends—a duo destined to make beautiful music together...
Most musicians would do anything to work with the hot, young record producer known as “Rolling Deep.” R.D. can pick and choose any artist he wants—and he wants Laurel Raineau. A classical violinist, Laurel plays soaring music that touches R.D. to his very soul. But the last thing Laurel wants is to work with someone whose exploits with the ladies appear in the tabloids every week.
Not one to take no for an answer, R.D. keeps trying—and failing—to let Laurel know that he’s not the player he’s made out to be. So he introduces himself to her by his real name, Zachary Wilder, hoping to win her over. But it’s Zach who falls under this beauty’s spell. Now it’s only a matter of time before Laurel learns who the man she’s losing her heart to really is—but can she walk away from a passion that feels so right?

My Romance Junkies review:
She’s a classical violinist with a humble modesty possessed by few young professionals. He has the reputation of being a top music producer whose name is associated with some of the biggest names in the music industry. He wants the opportunity to produce her next album, but his reputation also includes a constant following of media and adoring women, and she refuses to associate with him. It doesn’t look like he stands a chance of getting close to her – or does he?

Zachary Wilder, aka Rolling Deep, wants nothing more than to produce the upcoming album for classical violinist, Laurel Raineau, but she won’t give him the time of day. Her music soothes his soul and is a great source of comfort to him, especially after the recent loss of his father. Of course, her refusal to see or talk to him serves to make him that much more determined. When he sets up an “accidental” meeting with Laurel when she is vacationing, he does so using his real name, knowing that doing so could likely backfire. His relationship with Laurel moves with lightning speed which is surprising enough; the emotions Laurel brings out in him are especially unexpected.
Laurel takes her work very seriously and while her album sales aren’t where she would like them to be, she’s not willing to work with the notorious Rolling Deep, regardless of what he brings to the table. She goes on a vacation getaway and can’t help but feel a little lonely among the loving couples at the resort. Perhaps a touch of melancholy made her vulnerable to the tender attentions of Zach, but when she discovers his true identity, she flees immediately and it appears that Zach has lost her forever. He has one more card up his sleeve and playing it will either bring her back to him or drive her away to hate him forever.
This was my first read by Francis Ray and I found it wonderfully entertaining. Laurel and Zach are both extremely likable characters and their families and friends are excellently written and consistently realistic. Knowing what Laurel’s reaction would be upon learning Zach’s identity filled me with dread, but her initial pain and their heartache in the aftermath are beautifully written and absolutely heartwrenching. Zach’s reasons for wanting to produce Laurel’s music were legitimate and personal, not simply about money and went far in making his deception forgivable. I highly recommend IT HAD TO BE YOU; I will be shopping for the three previous books in this “Grayson Friends” series.

I know you're going to want to get your own copy, so buzz on over to Amazon and grab this wonderful series - it will make for some good summer/vacation reading!
Thanks for taking a look - and special thanks to Francis Ray for sharing her writing talents with us!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

RISK NO SECRETS - coming soon from Cindy Gerard!

Cindy Gerard has a new book releasing in just a few days, the fifth book in her exciting Black Ops, Inc. series, RISK NO SECRETS. I was very fortunate in getting a copy for Romance Junkies review. I've left no doubt as to my appreciation of Ms. Gerard's work in the past, and seriously doubt that I'll be doing so any time soon! I was also fortunate in having the opportunity to meet Cindy Gerard at the recent RT Convention booksigning in Columbus a couple of weeks ago. She autographed my ARC of RISK NO SECRETS - and was patient and kind as I tried to convince her to come to the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell get together in Cincy next month. I hope she'll consider it in the future!

Here's a blurb, a great trailer, and my Romance Junkies review for RISK NO SECRETS:
Twelve years of chasing bad guys didn’t erase beautiful Sophie Baylor from Wyatt Savage’s memory. If he had another chance, he’d never let her leave. So when she tracks him down from El Salvador and begs for help, he doesn’t ask questions—he just goes.
Sophie is grateful her daughter survived a kidnapping attempt, but she won’t forgive herself until the girl who was mistakenly abducted is safe. Wyatt is the only man brave enough to take on the mysterious terrorists behind the crime—and the one irresistible man she wishes she had never let go.
Sophie knows Central America’s steamy jungles and sticky politics better than anyone. Yet she refuses to hide in fear. Then she becomes the enemy’s number one target. Wyatt lost her once, and he won’t lose her again—even if he has to fight, kill, or die to save her

My review:
They shared a past full of danger and intrigue. Sophie was the only woman Wyatt ever loved but he let her go twelve years ago so she could marry his best friend and former Black Ops partner. When faced with danger and intrigue once again and Sophie being divorced and available, both are helpless against a renewed attraction. Cindy Gerard’s RISK NO SECRETS is romantic suspense at its best.
When the best friend of Sophie Baylor’s adopted daughter is kidnapped after being mistaken for her daughter, she doesn’t hesitate to call Wyatt Savage of the Black Ops. Sophie’s ex-husband is Wyatt’s former partner and is not the same man who swept her off her feet; his only concern now is with how much money he can make. Wyatt can’t refuse Sophie’s request for help. Past feelings don’t stay in the past, however, and it doesn’t take long for Wyatt and Sophie to explore the relationship they should have had years before. Wyatt’s fearlessly determined attention to detail is extremely comforting to Sophie, as is his tender affection.
Wyatt’s attraction to Sophie has always been powerful, and seeing her desperation to return this kidnapped child to her mother, he is determined to make the rescue successful and calls in the Black Ops team. Sophie’s insistence on being involved in the rescue has him apprehensive, but he respects and appreciates her dedication to her friend. He lost her once and losing her again simply isn’t an option.
I predict that Cindy Gerard’s readers will simply love this fifth book in her Black Ops series. Visits from characters of previous books are a welcome addition and a secondary romance is especially satisfying. RISK NO SECRETS is fast-moving from the very start and maintains momentum throughout to a climactic ending. The action and suspense are impeccably written and I give this book a strong recommendation.

Can't wait? That's understandable - here's a link to Amazon so you can get your own copy!
Thanks for checking it out!


I love quotes, don't you? Makes me wish I could come up with some evocative little quip that would make everyone stop and ponder the meaning of life. Okay, not really - I'm more than happy just to read everyone else's and not have to think too deeply. I'm going to share some of my favorites - please share yours too!

My absolute favorite - Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped. ~Elbert Hubbard

To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world. ~Unknown

When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. ~Bernard Bailey

Food is like sex: when you abstain, even the worst stuff begins to look good. ~Beth McCollister

I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure. ~Mae West

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Abigail Van Buren

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it. ~Voltaire

Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. ~Voltaire

I had a stick of CareFree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality. ~Mitch Hedberg
Anyone familiar with comedian Mitch Hedberg? The man was hilariously funny in a simple, offbeat way. There are probably clips of him on YouTube - worth searching for, trust me.

If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
~Bob Hope

Okay now - let's have some of yours!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


The girls and I braved the crowd of 50,000+ to participate in the Race for the Cure in downtown Columbus this morning. This is the third largest race in the country. There were those who were competitive racing, those who were just racing for fun, walkers (like us), and a family-friendly one mile walk. Fun for all!
This was our first time participating, and although we have tired, sore piggies, I doubt that it will be our last. We had Chipotle on the way home and are all relaxing now with our feet up! We got up before 5 a.m. in order to make it downtown before they started closing off streets - I see a little nap in my future! It's a beautiful, sunny day here in Ohio though, so there aren't any complaints!

We all walked in memory of my mom's sister and our very favorite aunt, Aunt Loey (pronounced Louie), who was lost to cancer seven years ago. She first battled breast cancer 17 years before and lived cancer-free for all of those years. When her cancer came back it did so with a vengeance in her lungs and bones and she was gone in six months. We still miss her desperately and couldn't participate in the walk without it being for her. I shed a few tears along the way thinking about her and how pleased she would be that we were walking in her memory, but I'm a big ol' marshmallow.

I heard an announcement that one woman raised, on her own w/out corporate sponsorship, over $14,000.00. That makes my $290. seem rather paltry, but I'm still pleased with it, and thank my special friends and family who made that possible. A lot of the bigger sponsors were giving out freebies - knapsacks, pens, can cozies, snacks, clips, etc. and I was surprised at the number of people who were pushing and shoving to get their free stuff. Sheer greed. We left that area right away and didn't go back - and no, we didn't take a thing! There were different groups playing music to entertain the walkers along the entire 5K route, and motorcyclists lined both sides of High Street for the last mile or so, cheering and high-fiving walkers and some revving their engines. Sounds a little cheesy, I know, but spirits were so high and there was an incredible sense of unity among everyone in the downtown. Still, we were pleased to see the finish line!
I hope you're all having a great weekend!

Monday, May 10, 2010


My family and I are participating in the 5K Race/Walk for the Cure this Saturday in downtown Columbus. Yes, we will be amongst the walkers - no racing for me! I think I could only run if someone were trying to light me on fire - and even then it would be a pitiful attempt. We'll be leaving for Columbus around 6:30 in the morning and our group will march off at 8:45. I think a quick trip to the North Market will be in order after the walk - it's a neat place to hang out, especially on Saturdays, with lots of vendors selling unusual and hard to find items, melt in your mouth sweet treats, international goodies and farm fresh produce.
Click here if you'd like to donate to Komen for the Cure through my fundraiser page! No amount is too small and any and all contributions are very much appreciated! My goal is small, only $100, and I've already contributed one-fourth of that myself!
Please keep all of the participants in your thoughts and prayers - most especially those who are still fighting the good fight and those who are survivors.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

STAMP OUT HUNGER - this Saturday, May 8th

I Support Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive — Saturday, May 8th (Yeah, I realize that the pic I put up shows May 9th, but the date is Saturday, May 8th, so disregard that, ok? ) Don't forget that this Saturday is the STAMP OUT HUNGER FOOD DRIVE by our local letter carriers. Place a bag of any non-perishables by your mailbox and your mailperson will pick it up. We've done this for several years and I promise that your heart will grow a size or two when you set that bag out! One note, be sure to check the expiration date on the food you donate - outdated food will simply be thrown away (you can do that yourself) - plus, it's insulting to think that someone needy deserves expired items that we wouldn't feed to our families.
I hope you'll join me in this - such a small chore for each of us that adds up to an incredible show of support for our needy across the country. I think it's so wrong that there are people in the United States of America who go hungry - it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The latest from Shiloh Walker - NO LONGER MINE. This is an updated, bigger, better version of an earlier release. Check it out:

One woman, one man, and a love that won’t let either of them go.
Born on the wrong side of the tracks and dealt a fair share of hardship, Nikki Kline never gives up a fight. Even when her reason to keep going is ripped from her, Nikki tries desperately to hang on. But when the man who broke Nikki’s heart comes back into her life she doesn’t know how much she can take. Especially since that man seems determined to win back her damaged heart.
Wade Lightfoot is a man who knows he’s made more mistakes than most. As much as he would like to repair the damage he’s done to those he loves, Wade also knows there is no going back. But when he sets out to put things right the last thing he’s prepared to find out is that he had a son. A son he’ll never get the chance to meet.
When the truth is out and all the old wounds are bared, it seems impossible that Nikki and Wade will find their way back to each other. But true love is an undeniable force that even past hurts can’t destroy.
This book has been previously published and has been revised from its original release.
Warning: This title contains heartbreaking tragedy, lies and deception, and a scorching passion that nothing can deny.

To celebrate the release of NO LONGER MINE, Shiloh is doing huge, very exciting giveaway. Want to win a Sony Reader? How about a $25 gift card to go along with it to Sony to buy ebooks? Click HERE for deets!
Good luck!


Geez, I've been very neglectful of the ol' LL, haven't I? So sorry about that.
I have a review coming up in the next day or two for Cindy Gerard's RISK NO SECRETS. I'll warn you ahead of time that this is a stellar continuation of this series and there will be much gushing. I buzzed down to Columbus on Saturday and attended the Romantic Times convention book signing. What a madhouse those things are. I took two books to get signed, one by Shannon K. Butcher and my RISK NO SECRETS arc to be signed by Ms. Gerard. Both were so very kind, despite having signed countless books and I imagine they were very tired of smiling. Some readers came wheeling carts with plastic cartons and pulling suitcases full of books (yes, I'm talking about you, Judy Ann!). Others bought armfuls of books. I really had no intention of buying any books, but walked out with three brand spanking new ones!

Besides appreciating the patience and kindness of all of the authors, I have a new appreciation for my clothes dryer after being without it this past week. We washed several loads of clothes and took them to the coin-op on Sunday afternoon to dry. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. The laundrymat we went to was huge, very clean and tidy, and even had a large tanning facility in the rear of the building. Talk about full service! There were lots of little girls running around with their Barbies, one sporting a Bounce sheet as a strapless gown and another who had balloons on her legs as knee-high boots. It was fun to see those little imaginations at work. I recall going to the laundry with my mother until she had machines at home, I think I was about five years old. We went to Duds 'N Suds (it's still in operation here in town) - it sits alongside the Olentangy River and there's a bridge that almost goes over the top of it. I recall going down to play along the riverbank while my mom did laundry. Now I hear there are a couple of homeless men who live under that bridge. When I was a child there were two homeless men that I was aware of who lived in cars at the junk yard down the street from me. My friend April lived in the same vicinity and can probably vouch for the accuracy of that more than I can.

There are a lot of authors and readers who are in a tizzy over the RWA convention that was supposed to be held in Nashville in July. Needless to say, with the Opryland hotel being under six feet of water they've canceled the convention. Now everyone's wondering where it will be moved to. My thought on the subject? Cancel it altogether for this year, authors and RWA take all of the money you would have spent to go to the convention and donate it to the Red Cross to use to help the folks of Nashville. You could write it off as a charitable donation rather than a business expense, right? My author friends will probably commence throwing things at me.

Kelsey has been texting me today about the "hippies" who are camped out on campus as this is the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. For how terrible it was, I think Kent has done a decent job of observing the deaths with memorials, monuments and marches. I was only ten at the time and my only real memory is knowing that something terrible had happened. I told Kelsey that I was more interested in riding my bike or deciding where Barbie and Ken were going to go and what they would wear.

Please give a shout and let me know what you've all been up to. Books you've read? Trips you've taken? Plans for Mother's Day? We haven't even talked about Mother's Day yet - I have cousins coming to visit on Saturday, none of whom have been to my home, so I'm attempting to make it sparkle and shine.

Have a great week - look for that Cindy Gerard review very soon!