Tag Archives: #Contemporaryromance

Sunday Snippet – Dearly Beloved 8.26.18

From my upcoming DEARLY BELOVED, Book 1 in the Match Made in Heaven series.

Chapter One

“9-1-1! Colleen, I’ve got a 9-1-1 in the Bawl Room!”

I cringed at the crisis call blaring through my earpiece. I hated emergency calls, especially when everything was about to start. To pull off the perfect wedding, just like when invading an enemy country during wartime, you have to run on a strict, unbendable time schedule. There was no room for deviation. A 9-1-1 call was the equivalent of a ticking time bomb, set to blow up the whole operation.

“On my way,” I said. “Any bloodshed?”

“None so far,” my assistant Charity Quinlan replied, her small voice breathless with urgency. “But it’s coming. Get here. I don’t know how much longer I can keep them from killing one another.”

I shot from my command post at the back of my hometown church in Heaven, New Hampshire, and sprinted down the long corridor toward the kid’s section, affectionately known as the Bawl Room, which was the staging area for the soon-to-start wedding I was in charge of. The small space was given this moniker because it was where parents of unruly children shuttled their little miscreants when their behavior disrupted the congregation during Mass. My sisters and I had been banished to the room every Sunday of our childhood.

I took a calming breath in front of the closed door—a door that did nothing to muffle raised, angry, and shrill voices—and ran a hand across my quaking abdominal muscles. They’d been throbbing and pulsing like a precision quartz timepiece from the confining, belly-flattening, spandex undergarment I wore to mask the extra eight pounds I’d recently packed on.

I said a silent prayer to St. Gabriel, the patron saint of strength. “Breathe,” I whispered, making it a plea. “Just breathe.”

Placing a broad smile across my face, I pushed through the door and entered into a tempest I regarded as the tenth circle of Hell: ex-wives.

Two lavishly dressed women—one in her fifties, the other ten years younger, and both trying desperately to look in their thirties—stood, dyed stiletto to dyed stiletto, glaring at one another. Both had fisted hands planted on their hips, shoulders hunched, perfectly coiffed heads bent, ready to do battle.

“Who do you think you are?” one screeched at the other. “You’re not her mother. You’re nobody in this wedding, just my ex’s current squeeze of the second, so back the hell off. Now!”

The woman being shrilled at, all six foot of her in icepick heels, leaned forward and pulled her outlined, lipstick-enhanced mouth back into a perfect teeth-baring snarl. She jabbed one of her french-manicured tips at her aggressor and ground out, “I’ve been married to him longer than you were, bitch, and you know it, so who you calling squeeze of the second, because from where I’m standing, you were more like a mistake who got knocked up than a wife any day of the week.”

The elder of the two was set to pounce, aiming for her rival’s perfect camera-ready face so I did a quick little jog and insinuated myself between them.

“Ladies.” My gaze ping-ponged from one to the other. “Please. The wedding is about to begin. We can’t have this kind of behavior.”

“She started it,” the actual mother of the bride, Mary Ann Stively said, pointing at her ex-husband’s current wife. “She says she should go down the aisle after me because she’s married to my loser ex—”

“Who’s the father of the bride,” JoEllen, wife number two, said. She turned her back on wife one and faced me. “You’re the wedding planner, Colleen. You know proper protocol says I should go down the aisle right before the party, since I’m married to the father of the bride. I looked it up, read all about wedding etiquette and procedures.”

“In what? Your current edition from slut-of-the-month book club?” Mary Ann spat.

JoEllen’s eyes slitted under penciled eyebrows standing stationary on her unlined and unmoving forehead, a paralytic effect—I surmised—from years of Botox injections.

“Why, you—” She inched forward and tried to reach by me, but eight years of track in school and four more in college gave me a decided advantage in swiftness. I blocked her, my arms splaying out at my sides so she couldn’t go around me.

My left eye started to twitch—never a good sign—and I knew I had to set this situation to rights. Now. The wedding was scheduled to begin in less than ten minutes.

“Mrs. Stively.” Both women stared at me. “Um, the current Mrs. Stively.”

JoEllen pulled herself up to her towering height and gave her paid-for breasts a good forward thrust. “What?”

“I know you feel you deserve to walk down right before the wedding party—”

“I do.”

“—but I’m sorry. Whatever you’ve read stating that was the correct procession is incorrect. The actual mother of the bride is the one who immediately precedes the party. Unless, of course she’s not present or deceased. Then it would be proper for a stepmother to be the last person down the aisle before the attendants and bride.”

JoEllen slanted a deathly glare at Mary Ann. I swear I could hear her brain running through scenarios on how to commit murder in the next five minutes.

“Now, I need you both to take your places so we can get this wedding started. Stop arguing and let’s go.”

I’d dealt with these two overbearing women many times in the past few months and knew neither would give an inch, or relinquish control, of their own accord. Since they continued to stand rock-still, daggers zipping between them, I did what I always do in situations like this and got physical.

I grabbed the first Mrs. Stively firmly by the forearm and gave her a good yank while motioning to Charity, who’d been cowering behind a pew, to do the same to Stively spouse number two.

Charity, at a spit above five foot, was no match for the lengthy, stilettoed second wife, but what she lacked in height, she more than made up for in determination. With a firm hand draped along JoEllen’s back, Charity began walking, propelling the woman forward.

“Can you believe that bitch?” Mary Ann asked as I escorted her down the long hallway to the back of the church where the procession stood, waiting. I continued to hold her forearm in a grip of steel in the event she planned to escape and go back to punch her replacement.

“Forget JoEllen,” I commanded. “It’s your daughter’s day. Focus on her. You don’t want Annie to remember this day filled with problems or fights. You want her to have the most wonderful memories of her wedding, don’t you?”

Before she could reply, I steamrolled right over her. “Of course you do. Fighting with JoEllen serves no purpose and will only upset Annie. Take a quick, deep breath if she annoys you again and ignore her. Believe me, you’ll feel better for it.”

I knew I was telling a bald-faced lie.

Mary Ann and JoEllen both wanted to scratch the other’s eyes out, and today’s incident was another in a long line of antagonistic outbreaks since Annie had retained me as her wedding planner. The two Stively wives despised one another for various and obvious reasons. Their only compatible redeeming value was their mutual unconditional love for the bride-to-be.

In the vestibule, the melodic strings of a Mozart concerto serenaded the waiting congregation.

Annie Stively’s parents had spared no expense on their cherished only daughter. From a twenty-thousand-dollar, custom-made, hand-stitched, lace and satin gown complete with a five-thousand-dollar tiara and train, to the five-hundred-dollar-an-hour stretch limousine waiting outside the church entrance, prepared to whisk the happy couple off to their reception a mere five minutes away, Dr. and the two Mrs. Stivelys set out to give their little princess everything she desired in a wedding.

With my help, they had.

“Mom? JoEllen? What’s going on?” The bride glanced from her mother to her stepmother, concern creasing her flawless brow.

“A few last-minute details we needed to go over,” I answered before either woman could. “They wanted everything to be perfect for you. It’s all settled now, correct, ladies?” With an arched and determined glare, I all but dared them to contradict me.

Both women, with uncharacteristic placidity, nodded.

“Good. Now, let’s get you all lined up, and we can get this beautiful girl married.”

I went into command mode, corralled the wedding party into their appropriate places, and gave the all-start command. “Let’s roll.”

Once the bridal party, including the two warring Mrs. Stivelys, were all seated, the soft, haunting strings of Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D drifted through the air.

I stood behind one door, Charity the other. On my count, we threw open the doors wide at the same time. A collective wave of sighs blew through the church as the first view of the stunning bride broke through. While she floated up the aisle on her father’s arm, my photographer darted ahead of them, filming, as they slowly made their way to the altar. Charity and I closed the doors behind us and slipped into the last pew to watch the wedding.

At the front of the church, Dr. Stively stopped, lifted his daughter’s veil, and then kissed her cheek. I could hear dueling sniffling from the front pew, Mom and Stepmother each trying to outdo the other in the waterworks department. Once Dr. Stively took his seat between his first and second wives, the congregation sat as a unit.

“Did you check to make sure the best man has the rings?” I asked Charity, looking toward the stable of tuxedoed ushers at the altar. The groom’s younger brother looked as if last night’s bachelor party had been a rousing success, evidenced by the pasty tinge to his skin, the railroad track redness covering the whites of his eyes, and the none-too-subtle tremor in his hands.

“He does,” Charity replied.

“Did Devon bring the basket with the bird seed?”

“He did.”

Off to one side of the altar, I spied my trusty and talented photographer being as unobtrusive as possible while he captured the happy event through his lens.

“Kolby has everything he needs?”

“He does.”

When I slanted her a look, Charity grinned. “And before you ask, I already called the inn. Everything is ready. The champagne is chilling, and the band is warming up. Maureen told me to tell you not to fret. She’s got it all covered. No worries.”

Two of the most overused and least accurate words in the English language, especially when speaking about a wedding.

With as deep a breath as I could manage (I really was going to throw in the towel with this pseudo-girdle and cut back on the carbs instead), I sat back and watched the ceremony I’d put together, and prayed the rest of the day would go on without any further problems or arguments between warring family factions.

What’s that old saying? Man makes plans and God laughs?

Yeah…the story of my life.

 

DEARLY BELOVED, coming November, 2018. Buy links coming soon!

 

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A long flight home…..

I wanted to write this blog before I finish up with all the RWA stuff I have planned to tell you all this week.

Yesterday I flew home from Denver. Due to severe storms in the Colorado area and on the eastern seaboard ( where I was heading) my flight was delayed for 2 hours, 90 minutes of it spent on the tarmac just waiting in line to lift off.

Not fun. Not even a little bit.

There were two shining lights during this waiting time, though, that made this trip home  one of my favorite ones to date of all the places I’ve traveled.

First, some backstory. My husband loves to fly on Southwest ( me, not so much) so he booked my trip through that carrier to Denver. I always sit in exactly the same seat on Southwest if I can. Last row, right before the lavatories, close to the stew crew and the kitchen. Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. My legs cramp when I sit down for too long and in this seat I can stretch them out fully without worrying I’m going to trip someone coming down the aisle. I can stand whenever I want ( that is if the seatbelt sign isn’t illuminated) and stretch, plus I tend to drink a lot more water on flights to stay hydrated. And when you drink more, you…..you can finish this sentence!

So, I sat in the same seat as always when I boarded. About ten minutes later the plane was almost full when two lovely women around a similar age to me came down the aisle and asked if they could sit in my row. Of course they could! And did.

Well, when you put two or more women of a similar age together, conversation will ensue, and ensue it did. While we waited FOREVER on the tarmac all three of us got to talking. They asked what I’d been doing in Denver – working or vaca, and I told them both and then explained why I was there and what I do for a living. To say they were excited would be an understatement!
By telling them I was a writer and of romantic fiction, it opened a flood gate of more questions about writing, publishing, how  I get my ideas, did I always want to write — and on and on.

It was wonderful!!! Truly wonderful!! For a few hours I actually felt like a famous author instead of the relative unknown that I am. I was so enamored with these two lovely women I gave them each a signed copy of COOKING WITH KANDY that I just happened to have in my carryon. I was never a Boy Scout but that thing about always being prepared is smart! I also gave them some swag and my business card with all my author info on it.

Now, when I was reaching up to put my carryon back into the overhead compartment, the second shining light appeared in the guise of another lovely woman who was sitting in the row in front of ours. She excused herself, told me she hadn’t been eavesdropping ( with the loud way I talk it’s  unavoidable for people around me not to!), but she was a Librarian, and could she have my card so she could look up my books?

Well, this is me, peeps, so I did one better – I gave her a copy of my newest release CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, which I also had in my carryon ( see? always  prepared!) as a donation for her library, and I gave her my  business card as well so she could look up my other titles.

Best. Trip. Ever.

I lovelovelove making new friends, and friends who happen to like reading are my absolute favorite people! So, Mary Pat and Honoree – here’s to you!

I told those lovely ladies this, so I’ll tell you, too; you can find me here if you need me:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Summer Book Sale…

Fabulous news! My wonderful publisher is having a HUGE sale – 3 ebooks for $10.00 now until August 31 – so if you haven’t filled your summer reading list yet, now is the perfect time to do so. Here’s the link , and my first Lyrical book, COOKING WITH KANDY, book 1 in the Will Cook For Love series is featured in the sale! Start with this one, then if you like it – which of course you will(!) you can order the rest.

I love a book sale, don’t you?!

When I’m not attending book sales, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Links for the WILL COOK FOR LOVE SERIES:

Kensington/Lyrical

Amazon

Barnes and Nobel

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Filed under Author, Characters, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

A Summer Reading Sale! #LoveIsLovelier by Donna Simonetta

One of my main writing sistahs, Donna Simonetta, is having a summer 99centsale on a book I gave 5 stars to after reading. It was one of the most charming books I’d read in a long, long time, too! Check Donna and her books, out:

Love is Lovelier 

Heather and Mick have a long history together, and Heather wants to leave it in the past where it belongs. Yet, here Mick is, very much in her present, thanks to her brother Jeff, who hired Mick to be her boss at the Retreat at Rivers Bend.

It wouldn’t be so bad, except Heather and Mick are still attracted to each other like metal to a magnet. Oh, and her brother is considering offering Mick a partnership in the Retreat, which by rights should be hers. And even if they act on their attraction, Heather is a small-town, country girl, and proud of it, whereas Mick can’t get far enough from his West Virginia coal-mining roots.

Will they be able to get a second chance at their first love and find their happy ending together in Rivers Bend?

Excerpt:

“Stick close. I’ll get you out of here.”

He used his broad shoulders as a wedge to propel himself though the crowd; Heather scurried to keep up with him so she could take advantage of the gap he created, not wanting to be so close that she could feel the warmth of his body through his elegant suit, but because she needed somehow to beat this crush of people to the Retreat to make sure that everything was in place for the post-christening party she’d planned for Bethanne – only perfection would do for her BFF.

She watched Mick’s back as she stuck close to him; he looked so strong and fit – it was hard to imagine him the way he was ten years ago, when he’d suffered his NFL career-ending injury, but the same business acumen that kept him with the Portland Pintos organization back then was the reason Jeff and Cisco hired him at the Retreat.

He’d be good for business – she’d just have to keep chanting those words in her head like a mantra, or else she’d do one of two things she’d regret – kill Mick, or kiss him, and she’d gone the kissing route with him before. It did not end well. And tempting as the killing option was at the moment, it probably wouldn’t end any better.

Buy Links:

Amazon // B*N // The Wild Rose Press // Amazon UK

Author Bio:

My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

Find Donna Here:

Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Amazon  // Bookbub

 

 

 

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A little #Surprise this weekend…

I was laid up in bed all day yesterday because I pulled my left flank and hip muscles on Saturday at the gym. Adulting and life should come with a disclaimer that doing squats after the age of 55 is not a wise choice.

Anyhoo.

As I was working in bed 

I got an email that just about shot me off the mattress. Apparently, I am a FINALIST in the 2018 HOLT MEDALLION CONTEST in the Long Contemporary category for my book COOKING WITH KANDY.

YOWZA!

If you scroll down to the Long Contemporary category you’ll see my name. My real name. Apparently, I entered under my real one, not my pen one. Le Sigh….

Anyway – YAY!!! Cooking with Kandy won a bunch of awards before it was published and this is the first time I’ve entered it in anything since it’s been published, so this is uber-thrilling.

I’ll keep you updated once the winners are announced. All body parts are crossed for this one, peeps!

Looking for me? Here I am: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

and one last shameless plug: Check out my new AUDIOBOOK version of 3 WISHES, available now at Audible // Itunes // and Amazon.

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Family Saga, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women