Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Choose Your Destiny

Well, today is the day. The last day of the year 2008. As I sit here and write this little blog there is only about 14 hours left of 2008. I can't believe how quickly this year went by. And as I do each year on this specific day, I think about what I accomplished over the last 365 days and what I hope to accomplish in next 365.

Why did I choose the title for this post to be "Choose Your Destiny"? Besides the fact that I recently watched DARK KNIGHT, and that was a huge theme in the movie, I truly believe in it. We have the power to make things happen for ourselves if we put our minds to it. Hence yearly goals right?

It's a time or reflection and introspection... and of course the rolling of the eyes, I can't believe I thought I could do this, I'm such a procrastinator, no you can't have a Venti double shot espresso mocha latte this morning!!! (Fine, I'll have Green Tea Latte instead! And yes, that is what I'm drinking this morning. My wonderful brother-in-law got me a gift card to Starbuck's so I will be indulging quite frequently.)

But back to thinking. What the heck have I done all year? Seems like a blur, but I know I must have done something...

Accomplished in 2008:

  • Recieved 6 contracts for my novellas
  • Established blog History Undressed
  • Received requests for full manuscripts from 2 major NY publishers and 1 agent
  • Became President of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers
  • Became Editor of Hearts Through History's Newsletter
  • Taught my first workshops
  • Wrote several articles
  • Met some wonderful new writer friends
  • Lost 14 pounds (and this all in the last two months...) But does it really count, since I seemed to have gained 20 over the year? Hmmm... I'm going to say yes!
  • Of course, joined The Pen and Muse blog!!!
  • Somehow managed to stay completely sane this year!

As far as my goals for this year, I would say I met most of them :) Maybe even more. I'm still trying to get a handle on my chores, but I think the only thing that will ever work for me -- since I LOATHE cleaning -- is to somehow convince dear husband to hire me a maid... I am not very confident that this will happen though, unless I somehow manage to garner a nice contract and pay for it myself :)

So okay, my 2008 was pretty great. How can I keep up with the momentum I've started?

Goals for 2009:

  • Receive a contract for my medieval series
  • Receive a contract for my Regency erotic
  • Continue with my efforts within the chapters and groups I belong to
  • Promote my work
  • Start a pilates program
  • Attend RWA Nationals
  • Look for an agent
  • Continue to organize my house...
  • Teach workshops
  • Write 2 articles
  • And as always, stay sane while doing it all!

Anyone want to share their goals? What did you accomplish in 2008 and what do you hope to accomplish in 2009?

Have a safe and happy new year everyone!!!



Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Wishing You All A Wonderful Christmas
filled with Joy, Peace, & Happiness.
~ The Pen & Muse Blog

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!

My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, along with several of its authors compiled a free cookbook for you to download! It has some very yummy recipes in it. I highly recommend taking a look.

Here's the link:

You won't find any recipes from yours truly in it, but I wanted to share it with you all the same!

Here's a Hot Cocoa recipe I just made about thirty minutes ago :)

1 cup of milk
6 Hershey kisses

Put the milk and the kisses in a microwavable safe dish (I used a glass measuring cup.) Heat for 1 minute, stir and then heat for an additional minute, stirring again until the chocolate has totally melted and blended with the milk. For an added kick, stick in a peppermint kiss too!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Pen Review: Large Edition Chalk Full of Book Reviews

Welcome to the latest edition of The Pen Review :Large Edition: Chalk Full of Book Reviews! Thanks to Eternal Press for sending me great reads. Hope you all enjoy this round of book reviews!

First off let's start off with Fey by Tessa Buxton!

Fey by Tessa Buxton
Publisher:Eternal Press
Pages: 37
Author's Website:
Price: $2.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Fey By Tessa Buxton follows the story of rescue vet named Ryan. Ryan is a very busy man who hasn't had a successful date in quite some time. After another disastrous date, Ryan finds himself comforted by the lover in his dreams. When Ryan suddenly figures out that his dream lover is not dream what is he to do? Somewhat embarrased Ryan finds out he summond a faery! What is there to do, but fall in love. A light read, those who love faeries and love stories will enjoy the story of Fey. Check out the excerpt below!


The date with Darren had been better than disastrous, but only slightly. It was almost as if the entire universe had gathered to make sure it went wrong. The restaurant was hideously overbooked so they had to wait in the bar, Darren had been so nervous he’d messed up every order he had tried to make and instead of a virgin sea breeze, because he was driving, Ryan ended up with a sea breeze made with Virgin vodka, which he had to bring back.

When they had finally been seated, their conversation had gone past apologies into stilted conversation about work as they quickly realized that they had absolutely nothing in common, because Darren spent his spare time playing some computer game online and Ryan couldn't even check his E-mail without help.

Grandiloquence by Robert Appleton
Genre: Sci-fi
Publisher:Eternal Press
Author's Website: n/a
Pages: 24
Price: $2.50 CA

Can friendship be formed in the stars? Of Course! Robert Appleton's Grandiloquence is just that. This lovely tale takes place in the distant future. A giant exoskeleton built around the earth permits anyone who can pay the price, access to the solitude of a space booth—the ultimate place to stargaze, get laid, or just escape for a while...

This story revolves around that of Benjamin Umbize. Benjamin has just suffered the loss of his family due to Namibian genocide. Seeking seclusion and some peace, he checks into room 328, the room infamous for a haunting of the very person he is studying. There he meets famous pop starlet, Bianca Burnett who was scheduled on her own event with a boyfriend. Bianca making a mistake by going into the wrong room, but when she finds out it's too late to turn back. But this night will change the lives of both of them, a unforgettable night of friendship.

I really enjoyed the story of how to different people can meet in extraordinary places. Robert takes on a ride, a ride that says even friendship can be formed in the stars. Read the excerpt below to get a taste of the future!


Through the automatic sliding doors, a narrow blue-carpeted corridor wound to the left. It smelled of fresh ink, or some strange detergent. Transparent panels, set at equidistant points along the ceiling offered staggering glimpses of the elevator shaft—a gargantuan tower that rose above the atmosphere itself.

“Anyone afraid of heights?” she muttered.

One of only thirty-two on the planet, the giant tower was over sixty years old. Project Dreamcatcher—an exoskeletal framework over Earth had recently been completed to the tune of many trillions of dollars. In terms of interstellar freight and logistics, the project was expected to save corporations many times that amount in the long term. The amount of fuel required to pull a shuttle free of the earth’s gravitational pull was prohibitive, especially when multiplied by tens of thousands of shuttles per year. Despite global opposition, the exoskeleton did constitute a sound long-term investment. Entire industries had emerged on the giant framework over the planet. A cooperative venture hitherto unprecedented in human history, the Dreamcatcher itself had required the exhaustive mining of eleven planets in neighbouring systems.

In the olden days, this would all be science-fiction, she thought. Too bad all I’m using it for is to get laid.

She adjusted her handbag strap on her shoulder and untangled the other two straps—one belonging to her black tank top, the other to her purple bra. Rummaging in the pocket of her denim skirt, she retrieved a stick of gum. Bland flavour. I wonder if it’ll last me to the top, she thought, glancing up to where the tower met the clouds in a vague, blue hue.

Jazz Hands by Eric Erato
Publisher:Eternal Press
Pages: 55
Author's Website:n/a
Price: $2.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

The fourth book in the First Night Series, Eric Erato is back with Jazz Hands for a look into passion, sensuality and music. When a student of music meets that of a Jazz master, what can happen?
Passion and heat! Has the Jazz master met his match or has the student of music have a lot to learn? Want to know what happens?
Read the tantalizing excerpt below!

As a man independent for decades, I had been resigned to living by
myself, for myself. Duke Ellington wrote of his famous satin doll that “I
will give it a whirl, but I ain’t for no girl catchin’ me.” I have tried to live
by this philosophy my entire adult life, keeping to myself, consorting
with the people I respect, but not playing the romantic games that can
restrict a man’s freedom of action.

I have been a contented free agent, invulnerable to the attacks of
emotion and need that trap the best of our breed. My passion is beaten
into a keyboard every night, not pressed into the warm and willing flesh
of paramours and matrimonial aspirants. I am a man always in control of
his mind and his muse. A lone, independent man who was spotted,
stalked and captured. A man whose life changed in one night attending
to selfishness and cruelty, instead finding the key to stability and

One night can change everything. As a natural night creature, no
nocturnal foray into debauchery and dissipation surprises me. The
darkness affects all who plunge into its inky, velvety void, warping the
very sanity of the uninitiated, draining resistance from the terminally
timid and eliciting the true rolling, restive rhythm of the nighthawk. The
night strips away the people we want to be and bares the people we are:
grim, glorious or ghastly.

No Dungeon So Dark By Sam Kepfield
Genre: Scifi
Publisher:Eternal Press
Pages: 24
Author's Website:n/a
Price: $1.80 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

No Dungeon So Dark follows the story of Jon Larson, a sargent. A sargent a little after the 21st centry where beauty is valued more than anything. A world that he does not like at all. Until he meets Giselle on a distant planet. Giselle has some scars of her own that has made her run away from intamacy including the love Jon could offer her. Will Jon and Giselle come together or will the past have Giselle run?


“No. You kept those so no one would ever love you for your looks again.” I reached out, put a finger on her chin and made to turn her face to me. She resisted at first, but wound up looking at me. “It’s a shame, because you’re beautiful. Even with these,” I said, tracing a finger along the long scar from her ear to her mouth.

She flinched, but I moved her face back. “Perfection isn’t beauty. It’s dull.” Dozens of faces on bar girls flashed, all of them enhanced, just like the boobs and bellies and butts. “Imperfection can captivate. What would the Venus de Milo be with arms?”

Revenant by Janet Elizabeth Jones

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Vampire

Publisher:Eternal Press

Pages: 255
Author's Website:
Price: $5.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Revenant follows the story of
Talisen Davies'whose goal is to discover the fate of her hero, eighteenth-century sea captain Ellory Benedikt, who disappeared after his marriage to her distant ancestor. The story of the sea captain is the labor of love her grandmother had started, the family history.

One night at a beach she meets Ellory, a man she finds herself attracted to. Not knowing the real truth behind him, she follows him to know more about her family history. For twenty-five years, vampire Ellory has resisted the return to the beach in Maine where his mortal life ended. Until he no longer can resist and meets the woman who has summoned him. As Talisen seeks to find answers, both Ellory and Talisen will get to know one another. Not knowing that Talisen is on her way to knowing the truth. What happened to Talisen's captian? What will happen to them?
I really enjyed reading this tale of Ellory and Talisen. If you love romance, adventure, and vampires, be sure to read this tale!


She pressed her mouth against his ear. "Drink from me."

He groaned against her, nuzzled her throat hard, lapped at it with his tongue until she pleaded. The pierce of his fangs and the rush of her life-giving blood pouring into him cast her over the edge into pure joy.

For sacred seconds their souls danced like their bodies did. One forever. Inseparable for all time. She heard his soundless declaration of love in her mind, felt it in every move of his body.

You are my wide, warm ocean of mystery. My safe harbor. My copper-coin moon rising to light my way, brighter than a thousand suns. Your love is my sustenance, stronger than a river of blood, all that my light-deprived soul thirsts for.

I haven't the words to tell you how much I treasure what you've given me tonight.

Revenge by Rita Karnopp
Genre:Romantic Suspense
Publisher:Eternal Press
Pages: 235
Author's Website:
Price: $6.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Revenge by Rita Karnopp is filled with action, romance and suspense. I found myself not being able to put this story down!
Revenge follows the story of Abi and her newborn daughter, Kelly. To Abi's dismay, her own husband has been making attempts on her life! Trevor Madden is an controlling and abusing husband who want to destroy his Abi. That is until the handsome and kind police officer, Miles Sandler steps in. Agreeing to his help, Abi and daughter follow Miles into the icy and cold wilderness. What will happen? Will Trevor find Abi and her daughter or will Miles be able to protect them?


Chyna landed hard. The shock of discovery hit her full force when Trevor slammed the truck door shut. "I'll get you for this," she shouted at him through the open window. "See you in hell!"

She pulled herself upright in time to see him push the front fender of the truck. She dived for the door, but momentum sent her hard against the front window. Her forehead ached and the sound of cracking glass filled her with fear.

She turned and glared through the open driver’s side window and found herself shrinking from the cold gray, almost lifeless eyes that stared back at her. She hated the smirk on Trevor's face. Scraping sounds of metal against tree bark caused her to cringe. The vehicle slid from the tree, and began a downward slide.

She swore she heard Trevor laugh. She couldn't see anything but a black abyss. The vehicle picked up speed as it continued to skim the grassy embankment. She found herself suddenly tossed to the roof. The truck rolled, slamming her head against the dashboard, jamming her shoulder. A stabbing pain tore at her leg. "God, help me," she cried out loud. "I'll do whatever it takes, but please don't let me die. I have to be there for Abi and Kelly."

The vehicle slid to a stop. Chyna drew in a breath. In her foggy state something or someone warned her to concentrate, to be aware. She drew in a breath and smelled gasoline. A new fear gripped her senses.

Chyna tried to scream but no sound came, only a low, disbelieving moan escaped her lips.

"God, don't let me burn alive! Abi…Kelly…” She whispered. “I'm so sorry…."

Trace Elements by Bruce Cooke
Genre: Suspense
Publisher:Eternal Press
Pages: 103
Author's Website:n/a
Price: $4.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Marine Biologist Trace Patterson finds his life in danger, but why? Being a biologist, Trace has found a way to eliminate the crown of thorns starfish in order to save the Great Barrier Reef. Arch enemy of Trace and multi-millionaire, Charles Edgely has found a formula that can help those with Alzheimers using the coral in the reef. Trace now knowing that Charles may have a cure that may saving his father, he faces that he has no choice. His life erupting around him, Trace will encounter the challenges of his life.


Few establishments in Swordfish Bay owned powerful craft such as this. He could make out the silhouette of two men: one driving, the other standing. He recognised neither. Flames erupted from an object one seemed to be holding. The sound of continuous gunfire filled the air. Shit. He dived to the floor of the boat. Glass shattered and the hull splintered. A shower of timber fragments erupted inside the cabin, stinging his exposed skin.

Holes appeared in the cabin walls, and the thump of bullets striking forced his head lower. He heard the boat speed past. When he glanced up, he could see the boat turn to make another run. Again, gunfire whizzed around him, causing more damage.

Bastards! What’s their problem?

He braced himself for another onslaught. How the hell would he get out of this? He needed an escape before the boat came again. He had no time to don his wetsuit, but he could slip on his diving gear. He still had enough air to stay under for at least five more minutes.

He grabbed his tank, put his arms through the straps, and perched on the rail, ready to jump, when he looked down into the water. The large dorsal fin circled the craft. His four-metre nightmare was back.

Genre:Historical Romance
Publisher:Eternal Press
Author's Website: n/a
Price: $6.95 CA
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

This next work was another favorite of mine. I loved it so much I had to use the summary instead of trying to describe. The summary says so much. Lovers of historical romance will enjoy the tale of Morgan. Anne Ireland creates a wonderful world that a reader gets lost in.


Song of the Mountains is a passion infused and turbulent story of a man’s battle against the odds. It is Morgan’s duty to help the Prince of Wales in his fight against oppressive England. But when Morgan is tricked into a marriage he cannot honour, he finds himself desperately in love with the wife of another man. Now as loyalty to his leader and the conflicts in his heart collide, can anything save Morgan and the nation he loves beyond his life?


Seeking out the source of the noise, which seemed unnaturally loud in the stillness of her idyll, she saw that two young men had dived into the river from the opposite bank. A third man stood on the bank waiting for them, keeping watching over their horses. She thought from his dress he was a servant, but could not tell his identity or of the men in the water.

They were swimming towards her, racing each other and calling out excitedly in the way young men will, reminding Morwenna of her young brothers who sometimes swam in the lake near her home at Bala. As they came nearer, she saw their shoulders were naked and realised they must have removed much of their clothing before plunging into the water. One of them had reached the bank a short distance from where she was sitting. He had not seen her because of the reed bed that partially obscured her and them.

She had a clear view of the man, who hauled himself from the river and stood shaking his long hair like a hound, the droplets sparkling in the sunshine as they flew around him. He was completely naked; his strong, muscled body open to her curious gaze as he stood laughing at his friend, clearly unashamed of his unclothed state and pleased to have won his race. He was beautiful! Morwenna drank in the sight of his power and grace. The colour of his skin seeming to indicate this was not the first time it had been exposed to the elements, gleaming wetly like pale copper in the sun’s rays. She could not draw her eyes away for she had never seen a man thus, nor such a well formed man at any time. And then his friend shouted a warning, pointing in her direction from where he trod water in mid river, and the young god on the bank turned his head to look at her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh, Muse, Where Far Out Thou?

With the impending holidays and all of the rushing for gifts, menu planning, hiding gifts in really secretive spots so no one will find them, planning family visitors and visiting our family, and on top of that a cold that seems to be lasting FOREVER--my muse has decidedly gone on vacation...

Me, the daily writing count fanatic--I do hereby confess I haven't written a single new word on my WIP since Monday, and I think I totalled all of maybe 800 words...

What's a girl to do? I know I should be writing, I have deadlines to meet, but I just can't force myself. The moment I sit down at the computer, I check my email--then re-check it just in case anyone emailed me within the last 20 seconds, and then again, until finally I roll my eyes at myself, or I come up with a reason to shop some more online, or look up a new recipe. Or maybe I should check my--

*Long silent pause*

Sorry, I had to check my email AGAIN!! No, no new mail...

To make it worse, my hubby keeps saying, "How's your word count?" or "How's your writing going?"

Me: *clicking out of email* "Oh, it's going great! I'm doing really, really great." I then bite the inside of my cheek, and look at him out of the corner of my eye. Does he know I'm full of you know what?

So I'm excited for the Holidays and I love listening to my children sing Christmas carols, but I'm also ready for them to be here! I've been in this slump for a couple weeks, and I so need to get back to work.

I'm a self professed work-a-holic, even if my work only consists of checking email right now, I will check it until the painted letters rub off my keyboard, and the Guinness Book of World Records gives me an award for most checked email in an hour.

If anyone has seen my muse, could you tell her to come back to me? (Yes, she's a woman with a really, throaty and calm story telling voice. I just love her!)

Have a wonderful Holiday and a Happy New Year!!!

And if you haven't already...Check out my latest erotic romance release, Warrior In a Box, it's currently a bestseller for The Wild Rose Press's Scarlet line. Click Here. Everybody needs a little fantasy, or a lot.


Friday, December 12, 2008

The Pen Review: Blueprint for Love

Welcome to the Friday edition of The Pen Review!
If you are looking to wind down for the weekend. Get ready to cuddle up with a good romantic read. Then Blueprint for Love by Monya Clayton is the ticket for you!

Blueprint for Love
by Monya Clayton
Author's Website:
Pages: 220
Genre: Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Price: $6.00
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
Purchase: Blueprint for Love

Blueprint for Love follows the tale of stubborn, property developer Paul McIvor and environmental committee president, Cathy Brown. Meeting becomes reality when Paul decides to uproot the Palm Garden to put a classy hotel in its place. Cathy Brown wants nothing of it. She wants the garden to remain as it is. She won't settle for less as Paul will not either. Personalities, tempers, and physical attraction rises between these two, but is that just all? Paul does not want to get involved as he suffered a divorce. As the fight for the Palm garden intensifies and Cathy's place of residence is trashed, both Paul and Cathy will come together. Who trashed her place of residence and why are the framing Paul? Will Paul let his past get in the way of a possible future or will he let his pride get in the way? Or will all the plans towards the hotel serve both of them as a blueprint to their own love?

I enjoyed reading this work by Monya. Cathy and Paul's characters are exciting. The tension between them was like fire. It was just a matter of time before each of the characters acted upon it. Cathy's character is feisty, free spirited, and is the kind of woman who knows what she wants even when things do not appear to be going her way, but she was also fragile and gentle. A wonderful tale that kept me reading from start to finish. Check out the excerpt below!


“Paul, look at me.” The rich voice carried to his
ears, was not lost in the sound of the surf.

He shouldn’t. But his entire spine burned with
hot pins and needles. He turned, face set. “What?”

The word, meant to be curt, died in his throat.

She hadn’t moved, was in the same place, three
steps away. The moon and the security lights of the
shops and the old hotel were sufficient to make her
figure easy to see, though shadowed. She stood tall
and erect, looked straight at him.

And she’d undone the first two buttons of the
dress bodice, was starting on the third. To his
shocked eyes the white cotton and lace triangle of
her revealed bra was as plain to see as the sail of a
boat. “You don’t leave me any choice, Paul, except to
force your hand. I’m going skinny-dipping. Care to
join me?”

“You’re outrageous!” His voice dried in his
throat as he watched her, but there was no way he’d
allow himself to be manipulated by such tricks.
The third fastening popped open. The buttons
were coloured orange, and in Paul’s sight each one
glared in the moonlight like a hot coal. And above
them, in direct contrast, the first luscious swell of
her breasts gleamed like ivory.

“No good, Paul.” She smiled. “You don’t have it
in you, to let a woman swim alone, naked. And I will,
you know.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Look Out for These HOT Releases!

Both of my good friends Miriam and Eliza have new releases coming out. They are also blog contributors at The Pen & Muse. If you loving reading romance and adventure then you will love both of these releases!

Lainie Shaw, travel writer, workaholic, has no time for men. Even if she did, no man could match up to the one in her imagination. A man who makes her blood heat, her body weep and her heart clench with love. Instead, she is almost content drooling over sexy paintings of highland warriors while working in Inverness, Scotland. An unexpected purchase in the way of an antique box delivers the man of her dreams right at Lainie's feet. Her wildest fantasies are realized when the highlander shows her up close and personal what he doesn't wear under his kilt. Not only do they click physically, but emotionally, Lainie finds herself falling hard and fast for this sensual, sweep her off her feet, man from the past.

For more information on Eliza's work, check out our previous posting here. To purchase please go here.

Robbed of her husband by the arrows of assassins, Tia must flee to the Northern Prince who has always wanted her. But the price of Hilgi’s protection is too high. Separated from her land and her Goddess, can Tia find a way to return to them…and to a love that may redeem her?

For more information on Miriam's work please visit her website or to purcahse the book please go here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Pen Review: A Celtic Lover's Magic & One Touch, One Glance, A Sweet Romance Anthology

Welcome to the next edition of The Pen Review. Today I have some exciting books to tell you all about.

First up ..

A Celtic Lover's Magic by Lisa Alexander Griffin.
Author's Website:
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Publisher: Freya's Bower
Price: $1.99
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
Purchase: A Celtic Lover's Magic

If you love Ireland, fairies, magic and romance then you are in for a treat! A Celtic Lover's Magic follows the tale of Liam Macauley. Liam inherits a mansion from an uncle he's never met. Suspicious and yet curious Liam makes the journey to claim the mansion. In comes Caileaan, a Sidhe whom wishes to claim a husband and who longs for the lover she waits for. Unknown to Liam there is more to the story of the mansion and his legacy. Somewhere in the darkness lurks an ancient enemy, the Fomhoire. Will they stop Liam from claiming love and his rightful place?

I really loved reading this work. Although short, it was a sweet tale to read. I wanted a bit more because I was enjoying it. (Hint Hint to Lisa, is there more coming?) I enjoyed following Liam's character in finding out more about his family and his legacy. Caileaan's character was lovely. I loved her spirit. The dialogue and scenery was descriptive and rich. Wonderful through and through. Check out A Celtic Lover's Magic excerpt below!


Liam Macauley stepped onto the dock. The riverboat dipped, and waves lapped against the hull. He gazed at the distant highlands where magical fingers of mist twined and writhed to obscure the Irish landscape of Boyne Valley.

He shouldered the small carry-on bag and wheeled the larger suitcase down the wooden dock. His legs protested each stride. Slowly, he adjusted to solid ground beneath his feet.

Liam tunneled a hand through his hair, scanned the deserted dockyard and spotted the lone taxi. For two days he’d traveled up river to reach this place, and the whole damn trip remained a mystery: an uncle he didn’t know and an inheritance he’d never expected.

A raven screeched and flew low, almost slamming into him. Liam ducked. A sense of unease crept up his spine. The bird cawed, settling in a nearby tree.

Its golden eyes blinked as if mapping his every move. Liam eased the taxi’s door open, his gaze locked on the bird. Dark wings flapped. The raven took to the air as Liam slid into the back seat. Expelling a ragged breath, he glanced at the taxi’s driver.

“I assume you’ll want to go directly to Macaula Mansion?”

Liam scrutinized the man. “Yeah. How did you know?”

The cabby smiled. “Let’s just say I have my orders, sir.” He shifted the taxi into gear and moved down the bumpy lane.

Unsure how to respond, Liam sat back in the seat. The countryside whizzed past. He relaxed, cranked the side window down, and breathed deeply of the fresh air and pungent pine aroma—a drastic change from the smog and congestion of Los Angeles.

The driver glanced in the rearview mirror. “Your first visit to Ireland?”

“Yes.” Liam laughed. “An obvious tourist, eh?”

The cabby’s eyes glinted, and he chuckled. “Not at all.” He veered the taxi down a winding lane, more rutted than the one they had left behind. The elevation rose with each turn, and the cabby slowed his speed. “Macaula Mansion straight ahead, sir,” he said. Moments later, he braked to a stop.

Liam stared out the window. “God in Heaven,” he muttered, disbelief shuddering through him. “What have I gotten myself into?”

The taxi rumbled over a wooden drawbridge and through an arched stone portcullis. “Did no one inform you that the mansion’s an old keep?” The driver laughed.

Liam opened the door, fumbled for his bags and stepped out. “No…err…no, they didn’t.” He loosened a few bills from his money clip and stepped over to the driver’s window.

“Cab fare’s been paid. G’day, sir. Enjoy your stay.” The cabby revved the engine and eased away.

Liam stared at the stone-faced monstrosity. The lawyer who had contacted him had revealed his inheritance over the phone: a thousand acres and a mansion. Not a damned keep. No wonder this Brennan Finney declined further detail. The guy probably feared he’d tuck tail and run.

Liam turned full circle. Damn!

Stone embattlements surrounded the grounds. He backtracked through the portcullis to the moat and searched the water. Did they even have gators in Ireland?

He noted the gate towers, north and south, scratched his head and snorted.

When will this blasted nightmare end?

He wheeled around. Mullioned windows, large and lifeless, stared back at him from a stone exterior. The surrounding grounds, a virtual self-contained island, streams gurgled, cutting a fierce path inward from the Boyne River filled the moat and supplied water to the inside.

Liam meandered up a heather-lined, cobblestone walk and lifted the brass knocker on the Gothic front door. Before he could make himself known, the door swung wide.

“Good day, sir. We’ve been expecting you.”

A woman in a starched white uniform, her gray hair knotted tightly at the base of her skull, escorted him inside.

“Naal, at your service, sir.”

She held out her hand, and he grasped it firmly. “You must be the housekeeper,” he said.

She smiled. “Yes. Your room’s been prepared if you’d like to rest and freshen up before dinner.”

Naal moved to a narrow, circular staircase and paused. “The sleeping apartments are located on the second and third level, sir. The master bedchamber is on the third. If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you to your quarters.”

Liam’s footsteps echoed in the tiled passageway. Ascending the staircase, he glanced upward at roughhewn beams, black with age, that supported the upper floors. The place was a fortress. He followed Naal to the second floor where a hallway led to many miniscule rooms. Stale air invaded Liam’s lungs; he tugged at his collar.

“This way, sir.” She continued up an even narrower staircase to the third floor, and the rooms expanded.

Liam breathed deeply. His mind whirled with an overwhelming sensation he’d been here before. He was certain nothing had changed in over one hundred years.

Naal opened a door to an elegant room with rows of mullioned windows that overlooked the courtyard. A massive fireplace graced an interior wall. His gaze settled on the large, four-poster bed against the opposing wall.

“Extraordinary,” he breathed and raked sweat-dampened hair from his brow.

One Touch, One Glance. A Sweet Romance Anthology

Author's Included: Lisa Alexander Griffin and Kathleen MacIver

Author's Websites:,

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Freya's Bower
Price: $6.49
Rating: PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
Purchase: One Touch, One Glance. A Sweet Romance Anthology

One Touch, One Glance. A Sweet Romance Anthology is a collection of heartwarming romances that can be shared with everyone. The Unexpected Gift by Lisa Alexander Griffin is just that, an unexpected story! I absolutely loved this story. It was so heartwarming and sweet. The Unexpected gift follows the story of Elise and Cade. Elise has been through some hard times. First the loss of her husband and then finding out she is pregnant. Determined to be strong she raises her child, the adorable Jaime. While on a trip to the toy store, she meets Santa literally! Who is this Santa? This where Cade comes in. He plays a Santa at the toy store. What's his story? Elise and Jaime are about to find out.

The other story that is one of my favorites in this anthology is the sweet romance by Kathleen MacIver entitled When Time Stood Still. The lovely tale follows Matthew and Rhianna. Matthew is searching for a home to call his own and the skills of a swordman. While in a grocery store he hears a song that calls to him. Then he sees her. Following Rhianna outside of the grocery store he finds her being attacked. After saving her life... she disappears never to be seen again. Working at a sword smith shop in Scottland has it's perks. Befriending the owners, he joins them on a trip to Duncarragh. That's where he finds himself looking at Rhianna, the woman whose song has been haunting his dreams. What will come of Rhianna and Matthew? What secrets will be revealved? This story is surely to find a spot in your heart. I know it found one in mine. Kathleen's work is one to continue to look out for. Read the excerpt and find out more about this amazing tale!

The Unexpected Gift Excerpt:

Multi-colored lights beckoned Elise. Perched on her hip, her daughter, Jamie,
gurgled with delight. Elise pushed through the doors of Willingham’s Toy Store, and the
toddler’s eyes lit with excitement.

They cruised the overstuffed toy aisles. A huge Christmas tree twinkled in the store’s
center. Nearing the tree, Elise spotted Santa with a child on his lap. She looked down at
her daughter, her heart swelling with emotion. I can actually enjoy Christmas now.

Two long years had passed. She hugged her daughter tightly. Thanks to her precious
gift, life moved forward in its never-ending circle.

Elise stepped into the long line and waited. When it came their turn, she moved near
Santa’s chair. Her gaze locked with the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. He smiled and took
Jamie onto his lap.

“What would you like from Santa this year, little lady?” he crooned.

Jamie grinned, jutted out her two tiny lower teeth, and gazed up at him through
innocent brown eyes. Drool spiraled from her mouth, dampening his hands.
“Ba-be,” she babbled.

Elise laughed, and her daughter joined in. Jamie’s tiny arms crossed. She imitated a
mother rocking her child.

“She wants a baby doll,” Elise explained. “Also a couple puzzles and a few fairytales.
Jamie loves it when I read to her.”

Jamie clapped her hands, giggled, and tugged Santa’s beard.

“Be nice, honey,” Elise scolded. She laughed, reaching for her daughter. “Let’s not
disrobe Santa. We wouldn’t want to traumatize the other children.”

The toy store Santa smiled, and Elise’s breath caught in her throat.

When Time Stood Still Excerpt:

Matthew Garlinn sat on a stone wall under a sign that read Alec MacCoinneach,
Swordsmith, and shook his head. Once upon a time, he would have laughed to think
he’d one day find himself sitting in a place like this.

He was, of course, outside the shop because the door was locked and his key inside.
But even that wouldn’t have stopped him a few years ago. As it was, only his
determination not to fall back into his old ways kept him from undoing the very easy-to-
pick lock that guarded the back door.

No, what he found ironic was that he was not in the good old USA, not in a city, and
not using either his wits or his tae kwon do skills to make a living. Instead, he was in the
Scottish Highlands, staying in a village no bigger than one LA neighborhood, and
learning the ancient art of swordsmithing. Definitely not where he thought he’d end up.
But what surprised him most was how he liked the life here. The mountains were
harsh and unyielding, but beautiful. The people were friendly.

And there was her. The woman whose song haunted his dreams. Whose face had
placed her in danger. Who had fled when he’d rescued her.

Maybe tonight, if he hung around the grocery store long enough, she’d come back
and he’d see her again. If his boss would show up so they could get the day’s work done.

He glanced at his watch and wondered what had happened. Alec was the kind of guy
a person could depend on. Not the kind of boss to tell you to be at the shop at eleven to
start work on a new sword, and then leave you sitting outside on a stone wall for an