Sunday, April 23, 2017

Me, My Trope & I

Somewhere I read that there are eleven romance tropes - I'm thinking there are more like eleventy-billion, but there isn't enough space here to list eleventy-billion, so I'll stick three of my favorites:

1) I'm a sucker for the Cinderella trope, especially if Cinderella isn't just sweeping up the floor and waiting for her prince to come. I like a Cinderella who is actively working to change her station in life!

2) Reunion romances make me cry, in all the best ways. I love watching the play of past feelings mingling with new, the personal drama that sets off, and the way people who think they just can't go on together actually find those little things they hated or didn't understand about the other...they now do. Because, as as a good friend once said, don't we all go through those times when we have to find one another all over again?

3) Friends to Lovers. Like reunions, friends to lovers make me a squishy inside. Seeing a friendship grow to more than either person thought it ever could? So rewarding! As flamboyant as the love at first sight story can be, for me the fireworks of a friends to lovers story burns brighter and longer...because there is so much to lose. If love-at-first-sight doesn't work out? You still have your friends...if you take a chance on love and lost a friendship? That sets off little explosions throughout the characters' worlds.

As I was writing my new Slippery Rock Series, I got to play around with a lot of tropes - there are five football player buddies, younger sisters falling for their brother's best friends, friends to lovers, a sloow burn, enemies to lovers, a bit of Cinderella, a secret baby...Hey, there are 4 books and 1 novella - that's a lot space to play around with tropes. You know what I think, though? My favorite trope is The End.

Yeah, I like to think the ending of a romance novels - the happily-ever-after part - is it's own trope, too. The ending, whether I'm there strictly as a reader or as a writer, is my absolute, hands-down, favorite part. I love to watch the hero and heroine riding or walking or driving into the sunset, together. In my imagination, they're holding hands and as they move farther away from me, they're getting smaller, growing older...but they're still holding hands. Because don't we all want to be holding hands with someone that special as we grow older?

So, that about you? What's your favorite romance novel trope? And, like me, do you look at the endings as a trope of it's own?

Kristina Knight's latest book, Famous in a Small Town, releases May 1 from Harlequin Superromance; it is the first book in her new Slippery Rock series. 

Lifestyles of the small-town famous 
Forced to leave Nashville after a scandal, Savannah Walters has come home to Slippery Rock, Missouri, with a bruised ego and her singing career in jeopardy. As if that isn't humiliating enough, on her way into town she's rescued by her swoon-worthy childhood crush, Collin Tyler. 

His hands are full running the family orchard and dealing with his delinquent teen sister, so Collin doesn't need to get involved with someone as fiery and unpredictable as Savannah. But the intense attraction between them can't be denied. And when disaster strikes, they'll both be surprised by who's still standing when the dust settles.

Buy Famous in a Small Town: Amazon  B&N

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lara Temple: Serious issues with fairy tale endings

One of the things I love about writing romance is that I can write about serious issues but still slip back into the comforting hold of a Happily Ever After. It’s not that I’m making light of these issues, quite the opposite – writing about heroes and heroines with survivor’s guilt or those who suffered abuse or bullying is my way of ‘discussing’ those issues with myself without letting them overpower me.

In my third book just out this month, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, the hero Max is plagued by guilt about his part in the death of his fiancé. In my next book will be out in November, Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress, the hero is also suffering from guilt at his failure to prevent his younger brother, a war veteran, from committing suicide. Suicide among veterans (and among active soldiers) is a real and growing problem.

Today at least there is awareness about PTSD, the impact of battle, the difficulties of reintegrating into civilian life, and the costs incurred by families of veterans and especially those whose loved ones commit suicide. But imagine how it would have been two hundred years ago after decades of war around the globe: thousands of veterans returned to England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, often damaged in body and mind, without income or the ability to find employment. There were some hospitals dedicated to caring for soldiers ‘broken by age or war’ (the most famous was the extensive Royal Hospital Chelsea established by King Charles II in 1681 and built by Sir Christopher Wren), but they were a drop in the ocean and didn’t address the difficulties so many had trying to rebuild their lives after years at war. 

18th century engraving of the impressive Royal Hospital Chelsea from the Thames. To the right was the famous rotunda of Ranelagh Gardens (demolished in 1805).
Even those who were lucky enough to have families who cared for them, there was no understanding of the horrific impact of battle on the psyche. They were called heroes and expected to return to normal and to shed their nightmarish experiences as easily as they did their uniforms.

A scene from William Sadler II’s Battle of Waterloo 1815
It is no wonder there were cases of suicide among men who experienced the horrors of war, many of which were not be reported as such for religious reasons or because of family pride or simply because they weren’t ‘clear’ cases of suicide.

In my story, Lord Hunter’s brother has been brutally tortured and suffers from acute pain. It is never clear whether the overdose of laudanum which kills him is an intentional suicide, though Lord Hunter is as certain as he can stand and is haunted by what he considers her failure to help his brother out of his tortured shell. Like many members of families who are affected by suicide of a loved one, his guilt at failing to protect his adored younger brother becomes a driving force in his life and very nearly prevents him from opening himself to his own thirst to live and to the healing power of love.

All fairy tales carry within them a core of painful reality. Happily Ever Afters are much more potent when hard earned. So out of the ashes of this very serious topic I wove my own fairy tale - luckily Hunter’s Cinderella heroine Nell (who has a few scars of her own, but that’s another story) is not easily dissuaded from pursuing her imperfect prince…

Here’s an excerpt from the first of my Wild Lord’s series which starts with Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress in November 2017:

‘Here, this will keep you warm.’
Nell turned. Hunter was behind her, holding a glass of cider, its coil of milky steam carrying all those smells upwards, encompassing all the joys of the fête in a single receptacle. For a moment all the agony of unrequited love and impending loss fell away – right now Hunter was with her, a smile beginning to form in his eyes as he looked down at her. She took the glass, breathing in the scent of the cider, and sighed.
‘It’s just cider,’ he said with a laugh, his expression losing the remainder of its uncharacteristic grimness. ‘You look as if I am offering you the elixir of the gods.’
She shook her head and tasted it. In all her years attending the fête with her father she had never been permitted to taste this hedonistic brew and it had achieved mythical proportions in her mind. It didn’t disappoint – it slid down her throat, evoking a thoroughly sensual response like stepping into a warm spring swirling amber and amethyst and gold. She closed her eyes to let the taste spark those colors, surrounding her and fading away at the end, leaving just the fundaments of apple and cinnamon and a hint of clove. She opened her eyes with another sigh, letting it go.
‘That was my first time.’
As the silence stretched and with the glow of the bonfires lighting the same colors in his eyes she might have believed she had conjured Hunter from the same pagan spring in her mind. It took her a moment to even realize her words might be grossly misconstrued.
‘My first cup of Wilton cider,’ she explained.
‘You have an interesting way with firsts, Nell,’ he remarked, and the spirits in the cider, which had been tumbling through her quite leisurely, chose that moment to expand in a rush of heat that spread through her like the birth of a sun. 

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Silver Spoon Romeo coming soon! by Jenny Gardiner

You guys!!!

I’ve got a deadline looming for Silver Spoon Romeo and Lorenzo and Sophie are all up in each other’s business, so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet this time around. I’m sitting outside my favorite coffee shop drinking my favorite iced hibiscus tea (when it’s cold I’m all about the decaf cappuccino, bone dry, whole milk—no doubt the last woman on the planet to use whole milk haha), it’s a beautiful spring morning and it’s just SOOO awesome to be sitting outside writing again!

I adore writing with a cozy fire in the fireplace all winter long, but then you just get the itch to be part of the world again. And this winter I did sort of start feeling like a bit of a hermit, so it’s probably good for my psyche that I’m back amongst humanity again.

The only problem with this is of course my leeeeetle habit of eavesdropping… Do you guys do that? I go to a coffee shop and can’t help but mentally engage myself in the lives of people all around me. No doubt my family thinks I’m weird but I think it’s just that I’m a writer. And a procrastinator. Plus I’m always looking for good material ;-).  Right now it’s two new moms and a yoga teacher (I recognized her from a yoga class I used to take when I was in shape! Damn she can do those impossible gravity-defying poses. But she weights like 100 pounds. Note to self: get yourself back to yoga, dammit!), and I guess the yoga teacher is a therapist who has some program to help new moms coping with new mom-hood. Who can’t relate to that?!

Okay well I’m no longer a new mom--- my youngest turns 23 in May! Yeesh! Where did the time go? My middle one recently turned 25, and my oldest will be 27 this summer (oh and the parrot that showed up shortly after he came along joins him in that birthday: twenty-seven years of cleaning up massive amounts of bird poop daily. Now that is hard to fathom! As an aside, you can read more about that in my book Bite Me: a Parrot, a Family and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds.).

Yeah I’m not a new mom but my girls are both getting PUPPIES!!!! IN MAY!!!!! So I will be a grandma to adorable PUPPIES!!!! Um, in case you haven’t picked up on the ALL CAPS, I’m mildly excited about this. As in desperately awaiting their mid-May arrival. Word of warning: next newsletter will probably just be puppy pictures. In the meantime I’ll leave you with a teaser—mama Lilly had nine pups, so she’s no doubt got her hands full. And we’re ready to unburden her of two of these gorgeous babies!

Happy Spring!!!

 Check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly successful It's Reigning Men series--I hope you'll be able to check them out!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hockey and Heartbreak

I was going to write about something else this month. You know, something about writing. Or maybe something about my books. Maybe something profound on creating characters or finding true love or…something. But I can't, not today. Not this month.

Because I'm heartbroken.

For those who don't follow the game, hockey playoffs have started. Four rounds of super-intense, heart-pounding, blood-pressure skyrocketing, stroke-inducing, edge-of-your seat excitement. Or despair.

And I'm a Caps fan (that's the Washington Capitals for those who don't follow the game). Enough said, right?

It's early in the playoffs--we're still in the first round. In fact, we played our third game last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs…a young team that was only, maybe, supposed to win one game in the first round.

They've won two. And all three games have gone into overtime. You want a cardio workout? Watch a playoff game in overtime. Trust me, that will get your heart pumping.

Me? I'm probably going to stroke-out before the first round even ends. My hubby won't sit in the same room with me during the games. Even my dog has abandoned me. Honestly, though, you'd think they'd be used to the screaming and swearing and crying by now.

Lisa's usually-lovable dog and normally-attentive hubby. Both have abandoned her in her time of need. Or maybe they just have a really good sense of self-preservation!

Because, you know, I'm a Caps fan. Have been since the late nineties. I should be used to this by now.

That's where the heartbreak comes in. Because I am used to it…and I don't want to be. The Caps, my beloved team, have only made it to the final round--the one for that bright, shiny Cup--only once, back in 1998. They were swept by Detroit, losing four games in a row.

They haven't been back since.

Yes, we've made the playoffs. Repeatedly. This season and last, we've won the President's Trophy (meaning we had the most regular season points out of all 30 teams in the NHL). 

But this is playoff hockey and the regular season doesn't count. Not even close. It's faster, tougher, harder. It's a wild, teeth-baring beast that demands even more from bodies already battered and broken by eighty-two games played since October.

It's a hunger game of an entirely different sort. And if you're a fan, you understand that the stakes are even higher.

I want to believe. I want to believe so much that it's a real physical manifestation: taste, feel, breathe: excitement, anxiety, hope…fear. Especially fear.

Because I'm a Caps fan.

L: Lisa with Mike Richards after winning his game-worn jersey, March 2016 (photo courtesy Washington Capitals); C: Lisa with Caps goalie Braden Holtby; R: Lisa with TJ Osie

Okay, so maybe the Leafs are leading the series 2-1. But it's only been three games out of a best-of-seven series. In the first round. I'll keep hoping…and convincing myself that we can do it. And trying not to stroke-out in the process.

In the meantime, you may want to join my husband and dog and stay far away from me. It's probably safer that way.

For now.


Yes, I'm a hockey nut and I love writing about the sport! To learn more about me and my different hockey romance series, please visit my website. And if you're a fan looking for a home, please join me in The Sin Bin, a Facebook group of almost 1500 ladies (and a few guys!) who are dedicated fans of hockey and hockey romance!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Have you been waiting for signs of spring? I have! Ours has been very slow to show up, I must say. But I also must say, despite the unpredictable weather, I love spring. Feeling the sun warm on my face. Seeing the blossoms and greening up of trees and lawn. And chocolate, I'll be honest. I love an excuse to eat chocolate.

Of course, mixing green with chocolate? I bought this bar for my husband the other day. I'm a dark chocolate girl whereas he likes white chocolate. This one was a Green Tea white chocolate which sounded like it might be interesting.

That's probably the kindest thing we can call it. "Interesting." It had a real vegetable underbelly to it. Yeah. No. I'm trying to stay away from the treats anyway, so this was easy to resist.

You can have treats, though. I've lined up a couple for you in this post, but you'll have to go hunting for them.

In keeping with Spring's abundance, I have four Harlequin titles coming out kind of back-to-back (March, two in April, and June.)

The first two are the first two books in my Sauveterre Siblings quartet. I talked about my March book last month. Book Two, His Mistress With Two Secrets, released April 1st.

His Mistress With Two Secrets

The eldest twin, Henri, discovers his former mistress, Cinnia, is pregnant with his offspring--the latest pair of Sauveterrre Twins.

Henri never intended to marry or procreate; his little sister was kidnapped when they were young and he refuses to be vulnerable to such a thing by having a wife and children.

Best laid plans, chere Henri! He insists Cinnia marry him and move into the protected world the Sauveterres have created for themselves.

Cinnia, however, is hurt that he didn't want her before she was pregnant, so refuses to marry him. Fireworks ensue!

Easter Egg #1 

Here's your first Easter treat. Take a peek at all four books in the Sauveterre quartet by downloading the sneak peek.

Download the Sauveterre Sneak Peek here 

InstaFreebie will ask you to sign up for my newsletter, but you can unsubscribe anytime.

When you get your confirmation email, you'll also get a link to download Cruel Summer, another freebie, this one a complete short story romance that I wrote exclusively for my newsletter members.

The Secret Billionaires

Last year, when I was in the throes of writing my Sauveterres, I was offered a delightful opportunity. Did I want to participate in a trilogy with the wonderful Rachael Thomas and Jennifer Hayward?

Of course I said, Yes please! And by the way, the premise of our trilogy is So. Fun.

The Secret Billionaires are bored tycoons who are challenged by their friend, Sebastien, to go two weeks without their fortunes and their family names.

They go undercover into 'regular' jobs. Rachael's hero masquerades as a mechanic, Jen's hero is a sexy stableboy, and my hero is... wait for it... a pool boy!

We had a riot with these books. You'll see a post about these three books on the 16th of May, June and July, right here on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs.

But here's another treat for you that's linked to them. After we'd put our heroes to bed with their respective heroines (*wink*) I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we saw Sebastien's romance?" He was the ring leader for this bet, after all.

Easter Egg #2

I wrote a prequel called  which should show up as a free online read at on April 17th. (That's tomorrow, if you're reading this today.)

Read The Secret Billionaire's Mistress -April 17

Have a wonderful Easter filled with family, treats, and the wonderful promise that comes with this time of year.

Dani Collins is the USA Today Bestselling author of more than thirty books for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born, and herself. 

Dani lives in Canada with her high school sweetheart. They're empty nesters so, when she's not writing, they're traveling. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Christina Hollis—Research: It's A Tough Job...

Bristol Docks, via Pixabay
...but somebody has to do it.

I spent last week in Bristol, laying the groundwork for my next book, Women’s Lives In Bristol, 1850-1950. I was born six miles outside the city, and worked at its financial heart for fifteen years. It’s changed so much since I moved across the Severn to live in rural Gloucestershire, I hardly recognised the place. 

Once I’d checked into my hotel and got out onto the streets, I had a bit of a wobble. What on earth had I done? Everywhere looked so different, and I no longer had any contacts in the area. Luckily, some things don’t change. Bristolians are as friendly now as they always were. The first person I asked told me to follow the Blue-Signed Path (as opposed to the Yellow Brick Road) to the old bond warehouse which now houses the Bristol archives. That made me nervous for a different reason. The places around what’s known in the local lingo as the Float Narbour (Floating Harbour) used to be avoided by lone women, unless they were on “business”. 

I was in for another surprise—the whole dockland area has been transformed. It now has sunny plazas, and the water is hemmed with smart apartments. Little front gardens spill flowers onto a wide, level walkway. 

Designed by Brunel (with a little help from Sarah Guppy)
via Pixabay
The Bristol archive was exactly two miles from my hotel room, door-to-door. The weather was glorious, so the walk was easy. It was also safe, although I had to keep an eye out for cyclists and skateboarders. 

I set out on that first morning with only one problem left to solve. As I love food so much, it was a biggie. In the whole of my walk I’d only seen one place serving food of a kind I fancied eating for the whole week. Yes, there were plenty of KFC’s, Macdonalds, Pizza Expresses and the rest, but I only eat that kind of thing once or twice a year, as a treat. The rest of the time, we live on local, seasonal, home-cooked food. Eating out usually means the one or two local places that serve food of the sort I’d cook for myself and my family, if only I had the time. I’m funny that way!

Find out more at
It looked like I’d be existing on supermarket snacks, and visits to a teeny-tiny vegan pop-up, next to an enormous and very busy shisha lounge. That didn’t appeal at all, but I needn’t have worried.  When I pushed open the door of the B Bond warehouse, it opened into a small café serving fresh, local vegetarian food. I’m a carnivore, but as the daughter of a market gardener I was brought up to love vegetables and fruit in all their variety. A place where I could work and eat home-cooked food without doing the washing up, all under the same roof? I was in heaven.

Above, you can see a picture posted on social media by the chef. I wasn’t entirely sure about her green-pea-and-vanilla sponge cake (centre back of the pic), though. Peas in cake? That took some thinking about. I mean, beneath its frosting, that cake was green. Green cake? 

The other customers weren’t so squeamish. By the time I’d plucked up the courage to try some, the whole cake had been eaten. They said it was delicious. More fool me, for dithering!

When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. Catch up with her at, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beauty Break

A couple weeks ago, I had a running-around day.  I went to the nursing home, picked up a form and had to run it downtown... While I was there, I decided to give myself a beauty break.  Uh, no, I'm not talking about a day at the salon (pedicures are my idea of hell!). I'm talking about a visit to the Art Museum.  I went to the museum for that talk with Ohio artist, Susan Shie, a month or so ago.  She was amazing. I wanted to see the full Earth Stories exhibit.  Here are a few pics in no particular order...

 And here's Susan Shie's piece in the collection.  Uh, if you read my first Day of Beauty, you'll remember how much I like making myself part of the art (see my shadow?).

After the visit, I went next door to Glass Growers.  If you've never been...go.  I drop in every time I'm down that way because they always have something new and cool.  I've mentioned before that I love to collect Erie stuff.  We have a number of prints.  Well, I bought a cool picture of Beach 10 on Presque Isle by Jason Floyd Lewis.  (You can see my reflection in it as well! LOL)

If you're one of my Erie friends, head down to the Art Museum and then stop in and check out Glass Growers.
This isn't a paid endorsement...I just love my city! If you're not in the area, I hope you enjoy visiting through my books and blog.  And if you're in the area, drop in for a real visit!!


Confessions of a Party Crasher
Everything But a Groom


Confessions of a Party Crasher is live on Amazon for pre-order and if you haven't heard, the Everything But... series is going to audio and there are sample's up, and the entire series is on sale this month in advance of the audio releases!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Historical Hero - by Kate Walker

A long long time ago – too many years ago than I care to remember, I  first started to  get to know some of the history plays of Shakespeare.  There was a  television  series called  An Age of Kings  in 1960, one that lasted for 15 weeks, and which showed all  Shakespeare’s history plays one after the other.  One of those plays was Richard III  where Richard was shown as a violent,  cruel and conniving character.  That was how I first thought of him.  But of course Shakespeare was writing the sort of play that would please the royals of his time – the Tudor  dynasty who had  hated Ricard and fought to drive him from the throne.

Then two things happened – one was that I read a book by Josephine Tey called Daughter of Time in which a modern day detective, confined to bed in hospital, set out to investigate the case of those  ‘murdered’ Princes in the Tower as if it was a current day crime. His conclusion was that Richard of Gloucester was not guilty of the crime everyone thinks he committed. 

Then I went to the London Portrait Gallery  -  there I found a painting of the man himself. Richard didn’t look anything like the cruel and violent killed of Shakespeare’s portrayal . His portrait showed a man who was too old for his real years -  Richard was only  32  when he died. That’s the sort of age of so many of my heroes when they are really just beginning their adult lives.   This painting  also made  the  king look like a man worried by life, taking a lot on his shoulders.   He didn’t look like the monster he was painted. 

As a result, for years I’ve been fascinated by this intriguing character.  I read  so many other books – fiction like Sunne in Splendour, We Speak No Treason,  and  factual books  to try and get as cl
ose to the truth as I could.  I even joined the Richard III Society – and when I met my husband, I found that he too was a member of that group, someone who believed that Richard had been maligned.
Daughter of Time in which a modern day detective, confined to bed in hospital, set out to investigate the case of those  ‘murdered’ Princes in the Tower as if it was a current day crime. His conclusion was that Richard of Gloucester was not guilty of the crime everyone thinks he committed.

Back then we never expected that the exciting discovery of ‘The King in The Carpark’ would ever actually happen. We were excited  when the archaeological dig in  - of all places  - a Leicester carpark discovered the remains of  a man, buried there long ago. Even  more exciting, tests and DNA examination proved that this was in fact the skeleton of  Richard III himself,  killed at the Battle of Bosworth and buried hastily in an ancient abbey.  They even managed to do a facial reconstruction to show what he might well have looked like in  life
Last year there was a ceremonial funeral for this long-lost king. He was buried in Leicester Cathedral with the sort of ceremony he never had  back in  1485.   Because of my interest in his story, and my fascination with the man I promised myself – and my husband – that one day we would go and visit the tomb in Leicester Cathedral.  So that’s where I’m going today. 

All those years ago, I never expected that the  king’s remains would be found – the story was always that his body had been thrown into the river and washed away.  So it will a poignant moment to actually see where he is buried. It won’t give me any further evidence as to the truth of who really actually murdered the
Princes in The Tower (if in fact they were actually murdered ) but it will be a special sort of a pilgrimage and a suitable closure to a story that has fascinated me for years.

I am so looking forward to it

Do you have a historical character who fascinates you like this?  Or something that you have  long wanted to do that you have finally managed to achieve? 

You can keep up to date with all my news on my web site blog page  or my Facebook page   where you can find out when I have new books appearing in the shops.