Romance stories usually focus on fairly young characters. A younger woman can be somewhat inexperienced in sex, so it’s believable that the man she meets has a few things to teach her. He, on the other hand, is vulnerable in hidden ways to her joie de vivre and innocence, and so the standard trope unfolds.
But what if the characters aren’t young?
I admit that when I first considered that idea for this book, I immediately dismissed it. Yet the idea kept coming back, and I ended up compromising between a twenty-something female and a woman so deep into her fifties that readers (sadly) might find her romantic possibilities somewhat unbelievable.
It’s not that many readers aren’t over fifty. It’s just that romance novels are supposed to take us to a fantasy world where men are so powerful their shoulders fill a doorway and women are so lovely they utterly captivate the man at first glance. There must be room for magic.
In this story set thirty years into the future, the magic has been left hanging too long, a love affair put on hold while the hero turns his attention to a family emergency. Taken for granted a little too long, the heroine tries to cut her losses and forget him.
Martin Bernard has spent his life becoming one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men. But that’s not helping him now that his criminal son-in-law Ned Argenta has gone rogue, putting Martin’s empire on the block in order for Martin to ensure his daughter Marie’s safety. Weeks, months fly by as Martin tries to control this nightmare, leaving his lover Mohana in the sidelines. He just wants to get control of things and then he’ll make it up to her.
Mohana James isn’t waiting any longer. At her friend Giselle’s urging, she visits the Paris House of Rae to find some pleasure. The pleasure partner there doesn’t disappoint, but the entire experience stirs up her grief about Martin. Is he ever going to call? Should she forget him? If she does hear from him, is she going to slap him and walk away? She’s pretty sure that’s all he deserves. But her heart is breaking and she’s not sure she can forget him.
“It’s what I have to do,” Mohana said, stabbing her omelet. “I have to.”
“Yes,” Giselle said. “I totally agree. I’m excited for you.” She dumped another spoonful of sugar into her tea and stirred. “But you don’t have to do it all at once, do you?”
Blinking against the bright hazy sky, Mo leaned back to watch people strolling past their table. Parsley sat patiently by her chair, his attention riveted on the regular appearance of other dogs. This sidewalk café had been a favorite since, well… She wasn’t going to think about the passage of time. It hurt too much. A slight breeze ruffled the tablecloth and sent tiny ripples across the surface of her tea. Traffic was light for a Saturday morning.
She’d worn a new dress today, one she’d bought only recently in one of Giselle’s on-demand shopping trips. It had almost been a dare to herself, selecting something in a soft cotton print with a low V-neck in a fitted bodice over a flowing calf-length skirt. The wind teased her cleavage, an insanely erotic sensation that left her uneasy. But whereas before she would have been reminded of Martin with such a sensation, now she also thought of Henri and the possibility that she might again darken the door at the House of Rae to see what other scrumptious men might be on order.
“I’m not doing it all at once,” she said, savoring the flavor of the mild cheese, garlic-sautéed chard, and green onions inside their comfortable warm envelope of tender egg. “I made a list. Disentangling myself from Martin means I have to stop accepting his money. I don’t think he even knows he’s still sending it.”
“Why stop?” Giselle said. “Take it, save it if you don’t want to spend it. He owes you.”
“Yes, well, I need to stand on my own two feet. And that means earning a living.” She ripped a chunk off the flakey croissant and popped it in her mouth, relishing its delicate texture. “If I can get this position at the national library, it will make me very happy to go to work every day. Can you imagine?”
Giselle brandished her butter knife. “I can’t think of a job better suited for you, but…”
Parsley whined, his tail whipping side to side. A shadow loomed over the table, and the two women looked up. Mo’s breath caught in her chest. She literally could not breathe.
“Martin!” she gasped.
“I thought that was you,” he said, his gaze roaming down her cleavage before returning to her face. “And Parsley, too. What a good boy!” He leaned down to pat the dog’s head before standing to devote his full attention to Mo. Deep laugh wrinkles creased in his cheeks as he smiled. “It’s wonderful to see you. How have you been?”
Of all the… Mo bit back outraged profanities and tried to calm her racing pulse. He looked so damn fine. Despite the months, years of tears and torment, she instantly wanted him.
“Lovely, and you?” she managed.
He laughed, that same warm baritone that had rumbled in his chest so many times before. “I’m in the middle of a crisis, but what else is new, right? Look, I really don’t have time to talk right now, but I saw you and couldn’t stop myself from saying hello. I promise to be in touch soon. We’ll get caught up.”
Giselle looked at her and lifted an eyebrow. Damn it, he was tan and healthy looking, as well built as she remembered, broad shoulders straining the seams of his tailored light blue sports shirt, sculpted biceps emerging from the short sleeves. The sinews of his forearms rippled underneath the soft furring of hair, reminding her of the times he lifted her to sit astride him.
So much for the idea that he hadn’t been in touch because he was sick or injured in some way. She bit back the litany of cutting remarks hovering on the tip of her tongue. Most men his age had developed a paunch, but Martin’s belly remained flat inside the waistband of his slacks. She ripped her gaze away before her eyes dropped further. But she knew.
She could always feel the force of his virility from across a crowded room.
A bit more gray than she remembered peppered his hair and beard, but the same chiseled features – strong jawline and square chin under that neatly trimmed beard, sensuous mouth and those eyes – made her pulse race madly in her neck. She could taste him, smell him, feel the heat of his skin under her palms as if no time had passed, as if she wasn’t three years older, still hopelessly in love.
“No rush,” she said, straightening in the chair and smoothing her napkin against her lap. “I know how busy you must be.”
He seemed startled by her remark, opened his mouth then closed it. She lifted her teacup, proud that her hand didn’t shake, and sipped calmly as if he were a mere acquaintance.
“Well, I – uh, soon, I promise.”
“Yes, of course,” she said. She broke eye contact and waited for him to move. Moments clicked past, each instant a torment of unsaid words and mounting fury. Then his shadow moved away. Parsley stretched and lay down, head resting disconsolately on his front paws.
“Christ,” Giselle said. “That was intense.”
“I thought you handled it perfectly.”
“Good. I was dying inside.”
“And screaming, too, right?”
Mo nodded, waiting for her heart to stop pounding against her ribs. “Why does he have to look so damn good? It’s not fair.”
“Well, you’re looking pretty great yourself this morning,” Giselle said with a huge smile. “I thought he was going to eat you up.”
“Couldn’t you see it? Hell, I shouldn’t tell you.”
Giselle leaned forward and lowered her voice. “All the signs – his face flushed, his nostrils flared. His er, um, was pressing his pants, like full on. Dear me, what a specimen. Didn’t you see? Honestly, I think he fought not to touch you, and that’s just a sign of how desirable you are. It’s no wonder Henri outdid himself. There are plenty of men out there who will want you, Mo. You don’t have to waste your life on Martin Bernard.”
Belatedly, Mohana wished Giselle had kept that bit about Martin’s arousal to herself.
Still later, Mo studied herself in her bathroom mirror. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes seemed overly bright. Her pulse still hadn’t calmed and she felt alternatively hot and cold. How could she still react this way after all he’d done? Or, actually, not done. She couldn’t get him out of her mind, how his body had inclined toward her, how tiny lines crinkled at the corners of his intense green eyes. So charming, so damn handsome.
She’d never been able to define it, what he had, what seemed to be at the heart of Martin Bernard more than any man she’d ever met. Maleness. Potency. Energy radiated from him like a kind of gravity, pulling her in, wrapping her in his strength. For years, she had fallen deeper and deeper into that force, enchanted in the joy of their love.
Yet, somehow, she had failed. She’d agonized over it, night after night, month after month after he’d disappeared from her life. He had said she was beautiful, but what if he wanted someone younger, prettier? He had said he loved her, but that must have been a lie. He had said he wanted to marry her, spend the rest of his life with her. She’d even indulged in fantasies of their future together, maybe a child…
She gripped the sink. In the long days and nights of waiting, she had deluded herself, thinking he might be ill or disabled somehow, too proud to let her know. Alternately, she imagined he’d been trapped in some foreign country in one of his far-flung business deals. But here he was, walking the streets of Paris looking like a million dollars, full of himself.
And dismissive. He’d call soon. Ha!
BONUS: Nab another book in the House of Rae series also FREE at the same time!
Reprieve, Book II, is the first part of Martin’s story about his daughter Marie.
House of Rae franchisee Marie Argenta is on the run after her estranged husband Ned inflicts unimaginable tortures. Leaving her Paris House to hide out in the U.S., she ends up at the San Francisco House to serve as temporary manager. The very first day, her gaze lands on the most arrogant man she has ever seen, Adrian Velasquez. He’s also the most compelling devastatingly attractive, over-the-top pleasure partner the universe could ever conjure, which makes her think twice about the rules forbidding employee relationships.
Adrian knows what he likes and this new House manager Marie ranks above and beyond anything he’s ever imagined. Too bad his life is already crammed too full of family troubles, work overload, and finishing his law degree to even consider stretching the rules with this irritating woman. But a touch here, a kiss there, might be too delicious to refuse and she’s, well, she wants him. He knows it.
What Marie and Adrian are soon to discover is that Ned knows where Marie has fled and plans to take her back no matter what.
As writers, we’re totally consumed with words—the style, the quality, the grammatical correctness, the tense, the appropriateness, the number, the… ACK!! Before you know it, you’re curled up in a corner with a glazed look in your eyes, mumbling verses like:
I write them short
I write them long,
But still can’t weave
An author’s song.
My keyboard’s hot
But still no words
That sound much more
Than worthless turds.
Been there, done that. No matter how hard it is to write and re-write, words are our business and their importance can’t be overlooked. Here’s an example of how vital communicating the right word can be.
It was a hot Saturday evening in the summer of 1964 and Fred had a date with Peggy Sue. He arrived at her house and rang the bell.
“Oh, come on in!” Peggy Sue’s mother said as she welcomed Fred. “Would you like something to drink? Lemonade? Iced tea?”
“Iced tea, please,” Fred said.
“So, what are you and Peggy planning to do tonight?” Peggy Sue’s mom asked when she brought the drinks.
“Oh, probably catch a movie, and then maybe grab a bite to eat at the malt shop, maybe take a walk on the beach…”
“Peggy likes to screw, you know,” Mom confided.
“Really?” Fred raised his eyebrows.
“Oh yes,” she continued. “When she goes out with her friends, that’s all they do!”
“Is that so?” asked Fred, incredulously.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, she’d screw all night if we’d let her!”
“Well, thanks for the tip!” Fred said as he began thinking about alternate plans for the evening.
A moment later, Peggy Sue came down the stairs looking pretty as a picture, wearing a pink sweater set and a pleated skirt, and with her hair tied back in a bouncy ponytail. She greeted Fred.
“Have fun, kids!” her mother said as they left.
Half an hour later, a completely disheveled Peggy Sue burst into the house and slammed the front door. “The Twist, Mom!” she yelled to her mother in the kitchen. “The damn dance is called the Twist!”
Poor Peggy Sue. Poor Fred.
So, how can we tell if we’re communicating the right words? Well, there are a few of ways I use. I won’t kid you, they’re all difficult as heck, but they work most of the time.
1. Find overused words like really, that and just and only. I use two ways to do this and both are good.
a. Use the Search feature. Each time one of those words is found, read the sentence and make sure the word is required for the meaning you’re trying to convey. If not, cut!! Yes, really!
b. Read your work out loud. Yes, all of your work, even those hotter than blazes sex scenes. If you have to take a flashlight into the closet to be alone, I can’t emphasize enough how helpful this can be, and for more than finding unneeded words.
2. Reading aloud helps you notice words repeated in close proximity.
*He wore a serious expression.
“We’re in serious trouble,” she said.
“Yes,” he answered, “I’ve hardly ever been in such a serious position.”*
And that’s before they got into bed.
3. Unneeded words bog down your writing. Pay particular attention to the ending of sentences and words immediately after verbs.
*He shrugged his shoulders before answering.* What else would he shrug? his shoulders is not needed.
*“Get out,” she said to her.* If there’re only two people present, to her is not needed.
*Her heart pounded in her chest.* Well, yeah.
*I must get out, she thought to herself.* Yes, if she’s thinking, she’s doing it to herself. No need to say it.
4. Turn your work over to someone else to read. The trick here is to find someone you trust. It’s okay if they like you, but it’s not a necessity. As long as they’ll be honest about what they read and help you make your work as powerful as possible—meaning with the right words used in the right way—you’re okay. The sad truth is, the same way you easily see errors in someone else’s work, your critique partner will see them in yours. Damn it.
5. Think about what you want each scene to mean. Does each sentence, each paragraph help you accomplish your goal? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to cut words I really, really loved because they didn’t help the scene get where it needed to go. The same goes for scenes within chapters. This is tough to get used to, but if you read your work and you’re into 2-3 pages of narrative, take a step back and make sure you can’t turn that into dialogue or action. Readers have short attention spans and often don’t appreciate your genius in narrative. What’s a writer to do? Cut!
6. And of course (which are unnecessary words, but hey…), make sure the word you’ve used is the word you meant to use. As shown above, there’s a big difference between screwing and twisting!
Only a Good Man Will Do
Seriously ambitious man seeks woman to encourage his goals, support his (hopeful) position as Headmaster of Westover Academy, and be purer than Caesar’s wife. Good luck with that!
Daniel Goodman is a man on a mission. He aims to become headmaster of Westover Academy. For that he needs a particular, special woman to help him set high standards. Into his cut and dried life of moral and upright behavior, comes Eve Star, formerly one of Europe’s foremost exotic dancers. Her life is anything but cut and dried, black and white. Daniel is drawn to her like a kid to chocolate. Nothing good can come of this attraction. Or can it? He is after all, a good man.
Daniel took his seat in the Academy dining room with a few of the boys from his dormitory. Each table sat six, with a permanent place for a dorm master or table monitor. Each month, the boys rotated tables, assuring they spent casual dining time with their dorm master and others, and learned proper table manners. Usually, Daniel enjoyed meals with his young charges. They were more willing than the older students to talk about what happened during the day, and he often picked up on budding problems by listening to their conversations. For this reason, even though late afternoon-early evening was the part of the day he had free, he usually liked to attend dinner.
However, he’d changed his calls to Eve from four-thirty to after dinner, and now Daniel counted the minutes until the evening meal ended. He urged the boys not to tarry after dessert and then cursed the fact he had to walk sedately rather than sprint back to the dorm. Once there, he made sure to lock the doors and get comfortable before punching her number on the telephone face. A minor dorm crisis requiring both him and his assistant had prevented their saying much more than hello yesterday, and today, though he’d just eaten, he felt like a starving man.
“Nothing a little sugar won’t cure,” he muttered, using Southern slang for kisses.
At the same moment, a deep, male voice answered. “Well, honey, you ain’t gettin’ it from me.” The man laughed. “Hey, doc. Eve told me to tell you she had to go out, and if she missed you, she’d call back as soon as possible.”
“Hi, Jed.” Of course Eve shouldn’t be hanging around waiting for his calls, but he couldn’t help the disappointment that hit like a sledgehammer. “Say, why’d you call me doc?”
Jed laughed. “Ask Eve.”
“I’ll do that. Thanks.” Well. Daniel set the phone back on the side table. All dressed up and nowhere to go. He looked at the remaining term papers he had to grade, but reading the opinions of high school boys on any subject, much less Romeo and Juliet, a love story that ended tragically, didn’t appeal. What he wanted was to hear the voice of the woman who’d ridden him hard and put him away wet on Tuesday evening.
About the Author
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex. Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That’s how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she’s lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret. For romance ranging from sweet to historical, contemporary to paranormal and more join Dee on Nomad Authors. Contact Dee at email@example.com.
We are made of flesh and blood, but also stories. The stories we hear, read, imagine, are as much a part of us as our make-up as our genes or the colour of our eyes. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the stories that shape me. I’d like to tell you a little about them.
The first stories were the Celtic legends that my Welsh grandparents and my older cousin told me. Tales of magic and monsters. Shape-shifting bards. Torrent spectres. And the mysterious Otherworld, always shimmering just out of reach… at the top of the hill… deep in the forest… at the point on the horizon where sea and sky merge. I loved the Ceffyl Dwr, the Water Horse, a mythical shape-shifting creature that lives in water, but can also appear on land. I loved the merfolk too. More about them later!
I also grew up with the Nordic myths that my father used to read to me as bedtime stories. I’d go to sleep with the sound of epic battles ringing in my ears. Thor was my favourite. I was delighted to meet him again recently in the Avengers films, played by the delicious Chris Hemsworth!
When I was twelve, I read The Lord of the Rings. That story changed me. I was so sad when I finished the book, I actually cried. No more Elves or Dwarves? That couldn’t be. I decided that day that I’d become a writer, and create stories like that.
OK… it took me thirty-three years… and I never wrote that big epic novel. But I did write my own books, and eventually one of them got published. I write fantasy romance, because I love fantasy, and I think I’m a romantic at heart. The stories I heard and read as a child and teenager are still with me. The Otherworld is in my head, with all its magic, and every time I read or write a new book, it gets a little richer, a little better.
My book A Merman’s Choice was published in January by Black Velvet Seductions. It is the hot and tender story of the forbidden love between a shape-shifting merman and a human woman. Read a summary and extract below!
The second book in the series, Music for a Merman, is due out later this year. I’m currently working on the third book, where a feisty shape-shifting mermaid teams up with a warlock to save London from a water monster. I have also written a short story, “The Sweetest Magic of All”, for the supernatural romance anthology Mystic Desire by Black Velvet Seductions – pre-sale 1 September, release date 1 October. I’m so excited about it, because it’s about a witch and a warlock who go back in time, and I love witches!
A Merman’s Choice Book 1 in the Sea of Love series
For centuries the shape-shifting mermen of the Morvann Islands have lived incognito among humans. But one of them, Yann, has developed some bad habits. Like rescuing humans, even when doing so risks revealing his true nature. When he fishes Alex out of the sea, he doesn’t expect her to reappear eight months later, and turn his life upside down by asking him to be her guide.
Alex is determined to fulfil a promise to her dying grandmother, by gathering pictures and stories of the Morvanns. But she soon discovers that, on these remote Welsh islands, legends have a habit of becoming true!
Over the course of a few days, Yann and Alex grow close. But some mermen hate humans. Their hostility, and Yann’s secret, threaten to tear the couple apart just as they are discovering that they are soul mates. Can Yann overcome the obstacles in his path and make the right choice?
Yann went to the dresser against the wall and picked up a bottle and two glasses. “Would you like a dram of whisky to warm you up?”
Alex slid back down the sofa. His ears registered the squeak of leg against leather, and his mind instantly pictured her sprawled on the cushions, her golden hair fanned behind her head, milky thighs open wide. He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the maddening image.
Her voice dropped into a seductive purr. “I’m quite warm already, thank you. But I can cope with more heat.”
He poured a glass of the golden liquid and brought it to her.
“Thank you.” She sipped it and made a grimace, which turned into a smile. “Even better than cider.”
Her mouth glowed against her milky skin like a forbidden fruit. He thought of the first summer berries, tart redcurrants, juicy raspberries. Would she taste like them?
They needed food. If he didn’t get lunch down her soon, she’d get drunk. The demon voice in his mind whispered that Alex would be great fun if she lost her inhibitions. He tried to shut the demon out. What could he prepare quickly?
He strode to the trap in the floor by the front door and lifted it. The smell and sound of seawater, sloshing in the dark, rose up.
Alex padded over to investigate. “Oh, wow. You have a whole aquarium down there!”
The corner of her blanket brushed his bare arm, sending another twig to feed the fire that smouldered in his loins. “That’s how Islanders keep their seafood fresh. Why don’t you go and sit at the table, and I’ll open a dozen oysters for you?”
She didn’t need to see the tunnel on the side of the “aquarium,” that led to the lower floor of the house, the level that flooded at high tide and opened onto the sea. The level where a more respectable merman would spend most of his time.
She moved away, to the centre of the room where the oak table stood. Not far enough. He’d become so attuned to her that every one of her movements seemed to ripple across the space and lap against his body. He grabbed a knife and bucket from the tool shelf, snapped the first oyster open and dropped it in the bucket. Now she was crossing her legs, damn her. Did she know that the woollen fabric was opening, uncovering the ivory skin of her inner thigh? Was she flirting with him, or was it his imagination?
“I love oysters.” Her voice wrapped itself around him like a silk scarf. “Pity we don’t have any champagne to go with them, but this whisky is just as good.”
Too late, he remembered that for mainlanders, oysters weren’t a cheap, quick meal. On the mainland, oysters were the food of seduction. An aphrodisiac. What if Alex was misreading his intentions?
Or rather, what if she were reading them all too well?
She patted the bench next to her. “Come and sit here. I can’t eat all these oysters on my own.”
Her grin gave the lie to her words. Her grin said, “I can gobble them all up, and you with it.”
What about you? Which stories shaped your life? Do you remember a favourite story from your childhood? Did a book ever change your life? I’d love to know!
Is free love really free? When I sat down to write about a commune set in the late 60s, I had to figure out what kind of pairing to use. Happily-ever-afters can happen a lot of different ways—with one person, two, or three… Despite what went on in a lot of communes, I decided not to do a sexual free-for-all. It’s hard to build emotional bonding that way. But I did start writing it as a menage. When that didn’t feel right, I went for the traditional male-female pairing. Not an easy feat with such a mesmerizing and sexy hero who wants to recruit more followers at any cost and use sexual bonding to do it. With lots of pretty women and handsome guys around, temptation lay in every corner. Is the emotional bond between Jeremy and Adele strong enough to keep them in their own bed and out of everyone else’s?
Where were you in the summer of ‘69? Picketing, peacemaking, or falling under the spell of a magic man?
The day Adele Robbins turns eighteen, she flees her mother’s house to escape her lewd stepfather. She aspires to help people, but for now she simply needs a roof over her head. When she stumbles over a generous—and sexy as all get-out—hippie playing guitar on the street, she grabs at the chance for a temporary refuge.
While replacing the family he lost to tragedy as a child, Jeremy Dobson also plans to make the world a better place. Recruiting new followers should be easy, but one headstrong woman threatens to upset all his plans.
Unpeeling the layers of this unusual man makes Adele wonder if she’s jumped from the frying pan straight into the fire. She refuses to be a doormat like her mother, but Jeremy’s magnetism is a force not to be trifled with. When he beckons her to the edge to pursue their mission, will she follow?
Until the door closed, Adele didn’t dare move. Instead, Jeremy flung it wide open.
“Get off him,” he bit out.
The barely controlled fury in his voice filled her with a thrill with fear close on its heels. The man should have a high-voltage warning label on his forehead.
“I’m just following your orders, master,” she said sweetly.
After he ripped the sheet from their bodies, exposing their jeans, he frowned but let out a shaky breath.
“You disobeyed me,” he told her.
Adele scrambled off Denny who jumped up and grabbed his shirt. “You recruit your way, and I’ll recruit mine.”
“I-I didn’t touch her,” Denny told Jeremy, his eyes round and wide. “In fact, I’m going to split, okay?”
Jeremy, looking wild-eyed himself, shook his head so hard his long hair danced above his shoulders. “Don’t leave, man. In fact, I told her to pleasure you so you’d stay here.”
“Oh, well…um…I’m going to crash on the sofa.” Denny dropped his gaze as he slunk out the bedroom door and closed it.
Jeremy jammed his hands on his hips. “You disobeyed me,” he repeated.
“I heard you the first time,” Adele said as she put her blouse back on. “I’m not some whore you can pimp out.”
He paced around the bed. “You have a duty to help recruit new members.”
“You should have thought of that before you slept with me.” She headed to the closet to pack. “This place is not my scene. It’s high time I left.”
“And where will you go, Adele?” He rocked on his heels. “Out in the cruel racist world where you’ll be treated like a second-class citizen the rest of your life?”
She paused and squeezed her eyes shut. “I’d still have more dignity out there than being a whore here.”
“Then why didn’t you tell me you had a problem with your assignment?” he asked. “Why lie on top of the guy with your blouse off?”
She shrugged. “The same reason you did it with Mindy, I suppose. How did it feel, Jeremy, seeing me that way?”
He stepped forward until he was so close she could feel his body heat. “I think you’ve forgotten who’s in charge here. Maybe you need to be taught a lesson.”
His words sent a shiver of fear and desire through her. “Don’t you get it?” she whispered. “I can’t be with anyone but you.”
He grabbed her arms and pulled her against him so suddenly she gasped. “I dig it, sweetheart, and your loyalty is wonderful. But you still have to be punished.”
She rolled her eyes, chasing away the tender feeling she’d just had. “What am I, a child?”
“No, but you must trust and follow me one hundred percent.” He held her at arm’s length and gave her a gentle shake. “The journey you’re taking with me won’t always be easy. Your obedience may come down to life and death someday.”
Ice filled her veins. “You’re scaring me.”
“Put your fears in me,” he said as he reached for her waist and unzipped her jeans.
Desire rolled through her so hard, her knees buckled.
I think I’m going to like being punished.
Look Into My Eyes– in case you missed the Crossroads boxed set
Most everyone has heard of a bucket list. For those who haven’t, a bucket list is a comprehensive wish list of ideas, achievements, and experiences that a person strives to accomplish in his/her lifetime. Bucket lists have no set number of entries or right or wrong listings. Each list is individualized by its creators. Some people share what’s on their list with others while some choose to keep their list private. Some people do not have a list at all and never make one. Just as there are no correct or incorrect listings, it’s neither good or bad to have (or not have) a list. It all depends on the person and his/her point of view.
So, why am I discussing bucket lists and rehashing information that is common knowledge? Well, as I was thinking of my own bucket list and running my mouth with friends and writer colleagues about our current works in progress, I began to see a pattern in romantic encounters we’d either shared in real life or have written about in our works. I decided to take a closer look to investigate if there exists a type of romance bucket list—not necessarily one that most people hope to accomplish, but rather, activities that most people have engaged in during their lifetime. And sure enough, there seems to be. As you guessed it by the title, I’m going to list them here.
Now before I begin, I need to make a disclaimer. This list is in no way comprehensive. If you feel I’ve omitted something that should be on this list, please comment on this post. Also, if any brands are mentioned, it is not an endorsement of any sort. This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with any brand or company.
Now, onto the list. This list is not in any particular order of importance. The numbers are ordinal only.
Kissing beneath the mistletoe. Yes, people actually do this, perhaps not as much as in the past because fewer people seem to hang mistletoe during the holidays. And maybe that’s because the Hallmark Channel has purchased all of the mistletoe because they seem to have an abundance of it in their holiday movies.
Long walks on the beach with one’s lover. I’ll admit that this is not anywhere to be found on my personal list. Being assaulted by windblown sand and squishy stuff between my toes isn’t my cup of java (and I don’t even drink coffee). But I’m not hating. This looks super romantic—for others.
Watching the sunrise (or set) together to end a wonderful date.
Stargazing with that special someone in a remote location where the rest of the world fades into nonexistence.
Making out in the backseat of a car/truck/SUV (you get the gist…automotive). This classic throwback still occurs. “Lover’s Lanes” do not appear to be the designated hotspot to engage in this deed, but there are plenty of other locales.
Feeding each other. Perhaps only germaphobes will think this isn’t hawt. Nearly, every person I talked to/interviewed said they thought this was a loving and intimate act. And the food being fed doesn’t matter. However, if you’re interested, the four most common foods that I heard listed were chocolate, strawberries, grapes, and desserts in general.
Dancing cheek-to-cheek even when the music stops playing. Y’all when this happens, this is how one knows he/she is really into a person There is no disputing the chemistry and romance when this occurs.
This includes isolated foot, back, head, or neck as well as full body massages and does not distinguish between giving or receiving. This does not include massages given in those “suspect” parlors. That’s another type of list (“The Client List”). Oh, and scented oils and lotions are a bonus.
Hot tubs, jacuzzies, and showers, oh my! Bathing or soaking together turns up the heat level to scorching. Steam rooms also were mentioned but not as frequently. I’m going to assume that may be due to most people having less access to steam rooms. Bubble baths popped up multiple times. (Get it? popped up as in bubbles… Yes, I’m a bit corner. Okay, a lot corny.) Anyway, Bubble baths were mentioned frequently, however, they were mentioned as “solo” guilts of pleasure.
Private stripping/pole dancing. This wasn’t one I expected (and honestly, I’ had to side-eye many of my friends … lol), but this seems to be a very popular thing. Oh-bee-kay-bee. It made the list. Have fun with it. It’s all good.
Spending a day in the park and eating food from park vendors. A very simple and inexpensive date but still romantic. Who said romance needed to cause bankruptcy, maxing out the Mastercard, or require a bank loan?
Initially, I categized this with park activities. However, it became evident that romantic picnics frequently happened outside of parks (e.g., rooftops, beaches, observation points, even living rooms. So, picnics had to have a separate listing.
And speaking of living rooms, sharing a bottle of wine in front of a fireplace, although the beverage does not necessarily have to be wine. Hot chocolate/cocoa had a high listing, too.
Breakfast in bed prepared by a lover. And some of you probably were thinking I’d forgotten to add this to the list. But nope, here it is—saving the best for last. This is a granddaddy staple to the list, in my opinion, even when the mean is burnt to a charcoal consistency and the kitchen sink looks like an atomic bomb hit a navy mess hall. It’s the thought that counts.
That’s it for this list. Well, not really. There are several more items that were frequently mentioned, but I arbitrarily decided to stop at fourteen. If you would like a part two of this list, let me know in the comment, and I will be happy to oblige.
Enjoy sports romance? Check out my new adult romance, Defending the Net, released on November 10. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It will be sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.
Missed the first in my hockey romance series? Don’t worry. Out of the Penalty Box, an adult romance where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.
Romance is one of the largest, if not the largest, genre out there in the world of fiction. Yet, it is one that receives so much shade, especially its subgenre, erotica. Romance often is criticized for being cheesy or predictable, but this can occur in any genre. So, why does romance have so many critics? Well, here are a couple of reasons.
Characters are all beautiful and/or perfect. Some readers find it difficult to relate to the main characters in romance land. See, real women wake up with eyes matted, breath that smells like tuna stuck in an exhaust pipe, and hair that will damn-near extract the bristles of any horse brush while the lovely heroine rolls over after a long night of evading bad guys in high-speed chase with little more than smudge lipstick and a flyaway strain of hair. Readers be like, “Beeotch, please!”
Too high expectations. In my opinion (like anyone cares about that), this criticism comes from men and is related to the behavior of the hero in the story. In many (dare I say most?) romances, the heroes are alphas and are allowed to get away with saying and doing all kinds of hellish behavior whereas an ordinary man would get slapped nakkid, clothes hid, and smacked with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Compare a novel’s sexy billionaire restraining women with silk ties on his yacht to a real-life minimum wage Joseph Blowhisnose who binds women using a galvanized poly dacron rope in the back of his hoopty pickup. Who’s going to jail? Well, both of them if the women didn’t consent. The point is, one sounds far sexier (and acceptable?) than the other, provided the reader is into that sort of thing. (No shade being thrown for having kinks.) The average man may feel that he can’t operate on the same level as billionaire boy toy alpha hero in romance stories; therefore, it is easier for him to criticize the genre. Ironically, this is an alpha move—suppress all the competition (even if the competition is words on a page).
Too expensive. This is primarily another male argument. “Who can afford to take a date for a lobster, caviar, and champagne dinner three nights a week and then jet off to the Bahamas for a spa weekend?” I’m going to go out on a limb here and argue that most women don’t expect this. (Heck, I don’t want this, seeing how I’m allergic to shellfish. Anaphylaxis shock isn’t the kind of thrill I actively seek.) Okay, so maybe the date example that I gave was extreme. However, I don’t think most women want expensive dates. I think all they want is NICE dates or fun dates. Hot dogs in a park at a free concert would be great. A rooftop picnic under the stars can be super romantic. In most romance stories where the couple goes out on a “romantic” date, it is the creativity and thoughtfulness of the date that steals the woman’s heart. And that’s how it is in real life the majority of the time, too.
Too trashy. Here’s a dirty little secret about romance. It isn’t dirty even when the couple is rolling around in the mud. There are all levels of heat in romance novels. Not every romance contains sex, and sex doesn’t equal romance. Some sweet romances only show hand holding or pecks on cheeks/foreheads. Some may display a brief kiss or maybe a slightly more passionate one. Others may just allude to something has occurred while others leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to getting to the nitty-gritty. The point is, sex is innate and natural, and humans are sexual creatures. So, what is trashy about that? I suppose if a couple starts going at it in a dumpster that would be pretty trashy—not to mention would probably warrant a tetanus shot. The days of being shamed over sexuality or sexual desires are passé antiquated. The notion that women shouldn’t express sexuality is chauvinistic. Women are entitled to their desires as much as men are.
Poorly written. This criticism appears to stem from a bias of comparisons. Any book in any genre can be poorly written. A terrible book (usually due to poor character development or major plot holes/weak plot) frequently occurs when a book has not been well or properly edited or has been rushed into production. It needs to be noted here that there is a difference between a poorly written book and a book that is poorly received by readers. The former is a novel with grammatical, structural, continuity, redundancy, fluff, etc. (As a side note, in my opinion—yeah, that again—I think continuity issues is the worst sin out of the previous list.) A poorly received may be well written but for some reason didn’t click with readers. Of course, there are some poorly written books that have sold well, but they are more of an exception than the rule. Romance authors who take writing seriously are professionals and take the time to ensure that they produce a well-written book. It may not resonate with readers, but it won’t be due to inferior writing.
The sex is never that good. What? Is someone not doing something right? Okay. Next!
Tacky covers. Not everyone is going to agree on everything. Some romance readers like to see hot bodies on the covers while others may enjoy ones that highlight scenery. Tow·mah·toe. Tah·mate·toe. Some prefer a matte finish while others appreciate glossy. It’s a matter of preference. In comparison to other genres, romance covers overall are no more tacky others.
Predictable ending. This is only a real problem for persons who dislike happily-ever-afters (or happy-for-now). Yes, romance has a predictable ending—boy and girl fall in love (or boy/boy, girl/girl, boy/girl/boy… I’m not about to get into all of this, but you get the point.) Romances have a formula: they meet, fall in love, get torn apart, get back together, the end. The beauty of romance is the path taken to get from beginning to end. It’s the journey that is the thrill, the ups-and-downs of the roller coaster. By the end of the ride, the reader is satisfied if the author has done his/her job correctly.
I honestly have to say that I don’t mind this. Yes, I know many people find it cringy and odd, but I know plenty of people in real life who fell for each other the moment they met or after the first date. The difference is, most of them did not profess this love to each other right away. But the feelings were there. I guess I see how it could be weird or creepy to profess to someone you just met you love him/her. And chances are it’s probably lust and not love (or one too many shots) anyway. I think the reason instalove happens in books, especially in shorter length stories, the action must move fast. Most people don’t go on vacation for months on end. So, if the story is about a couple who meet on a two-week cruise, the author has two weeks to get them together. The clock starts ticking the minute their feet hit the deck. Think of the 1994 movie, Speed, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. The characters Jack and Annie had a deadline of a leaking bus gas tank (Spoiler alert … oops, too late. But hey, who hasn’t already seen this movie?) to get together as a couple. Yes, it was a subplot, but the relationship had to develop quickly nonetheless.
Unequal characters. This bothers me a lot when I see it. Usually, it’s the hero that has it all together and the heroine is a mess. Sometimes, even strong heroines are written to dumb as dirt who requires saving. Listen, sometimes a man can be a hero without the heroine being helpless. Years ago, I was about to enter a store when one of the workers gathering the shopping carts noticed I had a flat. Now, how it managed to go flat as the pavement the minute I parked I don’t know, but it hadn’t felt like a flat on the drive there. He volunteered to help. Bless his heart, he had no clue. I had to tell him he had the jack upside down. Ultimately, I ended up changing my own tire, but he was my hero that day. Why? Because he noticed the flat. Had it not been for him, I probably would have driven (or attempted to drive home) and destroyed my rim which would have cost far more money than replacing a tire… although, that tire wasn’t cheap. Just saying.
And that’s all I got. As a romance writer, I was probably a little biased. Okay, I was definitely a lot biased. But as they say in the navy, “oh, well!” I hope this article brought you some chuckles. If you like this article, give me a like or hop on over to my blog (Creole Bayou) and check out what I’m doing at www.genevivechamblee.wordpress.com.
Enjoy sports romance? Check out my new adult romance, Defending the Net, released on November 10. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. It will be sold at Kindle, Apple Store, Nook, Kobo, !ndigo, Angus & Robertson, and Mondadori Store. It is the second in my hockey series and guaranteed to melt the ice. Order a copy now at www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.
Missed the first in my hockey romance series? Don’t worry. Out of the Penalty Box, an adult romance where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. For more links where to purchase or to read the blurb, please visit http://bit.ly/2i9SqpH.
Copies of all my books and stories are available in paper, eBook, and audio on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. The links are listed in my Writing Projects page (http://bit.ly/2iDYRxU) along with descriptions of each of my novels or stories.
Finally, if you or anyone you know are interested in joining a college Greek life organization, check out my special series posted each Monday for everything you wanted (and didn’t want) to know about college fraternities and sororities. Visit Sorority Bible Table of Contents to view any or all of these posts.
Born in 1956, I’m a product of the “Say it loud I’m Black and I’m Proud” sixties and have always loved learning of the achievements of African-Americans. Many years ago I was pleasantly surprised to come across a box of flash cards of thirty-six famous African Americans. Martin Luther King Jr was prominently displayed on the cover, but I recognized miniatures of Marian Anderson and Mary McLeod Bethune. I bought it at once and hurried home with my prize. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and discovered only six of the thirty-six were women! I was expecting half the cards to be dedicated to women. After all we are the other half the human race, right? I might have grudgingly settled for twelve, but six? I appreciated the six represented different firsts like Shirley Chisholm and Marian Anderson, historical champions like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and two well-known in the Black community if not as well known in the larger society like Mary McLeod Bethune and Phillis Wheatley. But this collection was sending an unfortunate subliminal message, i.e. women don’t contribute equally to “the Race.” That disappointment sent me on a crusade.
I began collecting images of Black women whenever I came across them. Postcards, books, magazines, you name it. If it had an African-American woman on or in it, I bought it. I framed the images in dollar store box frames and put them on the walls of my apartment. My collection grew to over three hundred images, multiples of those who are household names like Billie Holiday, but the majority who were famous in their time like Ada Overton Walker. Born in 1880, she and her husband George Walker became well-known for their interpretation of the cakewalk.
Soon, I just started collecting images of any black woman or girl I found and framed those too. Even though nameless, they deserve to be noticed, too. So in honor of all the African-American women you’ve encountered over the years, please share their names so I can find their images and add them to my collection.
One Breath Away
Sentenced to hang for a crime she didn’t commit, former slave Mary Hamilton was exonerated at literally the last gasp. She returns to Safe Haven, broken and resigned to live alone. She’s never been courted, cuddled or spooned, and now no man could want her, not when sexual satisfaction comes only with the thought of asphyxiation. But then the handsome stranger who saved her shows up, stealing her breath from across the room and promising so much more.
Wealthy, freeborn-Black, Eban Thurman followed Mary to Safe Haven, believing the mysteriously exotic woman is his mate foretold by the stars. He must marry her to reclaim his family farm. But first he must help her heal, and to do that means revealing his own predilection for edgier sex.
Hope ignites along with lust until the past threatens to keep them one breath away from love…
“Will you let me help you?” He extended his hand, waited for permission.
She took his hand as he had taken hers and pressed his fingers to her wounded flesh. Pain, quick and sharp, flashed through her mind. She gasped and tugged his hand away, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Don’t fight it.” He stayed close, stroked his thumb soothingly where the scar stretched beneath her ear. “Your fear gives it strength.”
The rhythm of his strokes calmed her fears, relaxed her body. She had no energy, no desire to resist. Her hands slipped from his wrist. Her arms hung limp at her sides. She closed her eyes.
“I—I’ve got to sit down or I’ll fall down.”
“Then fall.” His gaze held the assurance she needed. “I’ve caught you before. I’ll catch you again.”
On cue her knees buckled and she collapsed. He swept her into his arms with the ease of pushing a swinging door. She buried her face in his chest, wheezed, shuddered, wheezed again.
“Relax,” he cooed. “Relax. It’s your fear. Nothing more.”
She blinked, fought for breath through gritted teeth. “Bu—but my response is not nothing. It’s real fear.”
“Yes, it’s real, but not permanent. Your fear can be controlled and finally conquered.”
“Controlled?” She panted. Disbelief huffed out on each breath. “How?”
“With time…if you’re willing.” His mouth hovered a hair above hers. The warmth of his words whispered between her parted lips. “Are you willing?”
“I—I’m not sure.”
“Let me convince you.” He closed the gap between their mouths.
A hint of peppermint tooth powder boosted rather than masked the natural earthy taste of tooth and saliva. Each swipe of his tongue strengthened her spirit. God, she had heaven in her mouth.
She drowned in the moans vibrating from her throat. In her mind she surfaced for air, for relief, but the need for more pulled her back under. She wrapped her arms around his neck, invited him to plunge deeper, take her deeper. Desire warred with fear. In her heart she prayed.