Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yvonne Lindsay: Expect The Unexpected

Life has a nasty habit of throwing some equally unpleasant twists and turns at a person when they least expect it. In my October Harlequin Desire Billionaires and Babies release, THE CHILD THEY DIDN’T EXPECT, my hero and heroine, Ronin and Ali, see life as they knew it hit some major speed bumps after their steamy vacation fling.

Writing this story I had originally planned to set it on one of the beautiful islands of Hawaii, one of my favourite places in the world, but in the end, I chose to base most of the story back here in New Zealand and, in particular, in the rural community of Whitford, which isn’t far from where I live. It’s a beautiful part of the greater Auckland area, with rolling hills, forest, farm land, a large marina and boat club nearby and views of the Auckland harbour that always make me just sigh with sheer joy.

My early reviewers tell me they needed tissues for this story (I seem to have developed a habit of making my readers cry!) … but I can promise you’ll reach the end of this emotional journey with a happy heart. If you’d like to join my review team and have the opportunity to receive advance copies of my books to review, please visit my Facebook page and click on the App to join my Reader Team and/or click on the email update app for new release information.

In the meantime, how about you tell me about a place that makes you sigh with sheer joy. Are you a beach person, city person, rural, mountains? Where’s your favourite place? All comments will go into the draw for one lucky person to win an Australian/New Zealand edition of THE CHILD THEY DIDN’T EXPECT together with a couple of other goodies. Good luck and happy reading!

***Yvonne's winner is Agatha Townsend!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Monday, September 29, 2014

Feels Like Home – by Dani Collins

I’m a small town girl at heart. I grew up on ten acres that had been logged and farmed by my father’s Finnish grandparents. There were three houses on the property. My grandparents lived in one, we lived in another, and the ‘little house’ closest to the road was a rental.

My mom planted a garden every year, my dad had cows and pigs and chickens and ducks, and my grandmother made a trip ‘up country’ to the Okanagan a couple of times a year for canning fruit. Canned pears with a piece of toast is a trigger food for me, turning me six years old again, sitting at her yellow table, the specific cadence of my grandfather’s accent fresh in my ears.

I climbed apple trees and got shouted at for eating raspberries and related easily to Laura Ingles Wilder and Ann of Green Gables. We were a shade more modern. We eventually got cable TV, but fancy things like bought bread were for other people, not us.

My husband had a similar experience, mucking out chicken and rabbit pens, helping his dad clear their property, living very rural so a trip into town was Going Into Town.

By the time we married, however, our little town had become a thriving suburb of a busy urban center. The mountains and river were still very pretty, but the traffic was appalling, the drug users were infiltrating, and the cost of real estate was so high it was a non-stop rat race to make the mortgage payment. When our kids came along, we knew we wanted for them what we had had.

So we loaded up the car and drove for eight hours, until we found a town that has a stunning lake, a school house of a hundred kids, and a year round population of fifteen hundred. It’s twenty minutes from ‘town’, and that town is only five thousand people. It was built on mining money, so the municipal hall has a clock tower like the one in Back To The Future.

Are there drawbacks? You bet. You really learn the difference between want and need when buying something means a three-hour drive to the nearest city.

But the sense of community is worth any of those little inconveniences. The pace of life is calmer. And because you know everyone--your neighbors and your kids’ teachers and the ladies at the bank--you can’t help but feel safe.

I love small town living. I didn’t realize quite how much until I began writing my first Montana Born novella, Hometown Hero. Chase Goodwin is a local ballplayer who made it to the Majors. His goal all through high school was to escape Marietta, but he has a younger half-brother he comes home to help and bumps into Skye—the girl he didn’t let himself want because he knew she was a lifer.

Skye gets it. She’s small town to her quiet-living core. She knew Chase was out of her league even before he made it to the big one, but when he comes back for a visit, they strike sparks off each other and wind up with some hard decisions. Small town isn’t for everyone, especially when a career is at stake.

How do you feel about small towns? Are you drawn to a faster city pace or do you prefer a quieter life? Do you have any special small town memories from your early years?

Hometown Hero:

**SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY PRICE – 99c – SEPTEMBER 29th & 30th, 2014**
Skye Wolcott planned to marry, have children, and live happy ever after in her hometown of Marietta, Montana.  Then her marriage imploded in a cloud of scandal. Now she’d be happy if people would just stop talking about her.

Chase Goodwin worked hard to get away from Marietta, where poverty colored his past. Living his dream as a major league baseball player, he has no reason to return beyond helping his half-brother escape as successfully. The last thing Chase would consider is staying.

Then he sees Skye Wolcott, a girl he always had a thing for in high school. They get off to a rough start, but are soon carrying on like high schoolers.  Chase wants her to join his fast-paced, larger than life world, but Skye’s a small town girl at heart. Can she convince him that Homecoming is more than a game,
and he’s back where he belongs?

Here's an excerpt:

If he had come to apologize, she was going to tell him where to shove it.

This had been the worst day of her life, worse even than when Terry came out. Then, at least, she’d been the wronged party. Today people were asking, What were you thinking? Even Terry had defended stupid Chase Goodwin. He’s not a homophobe, Skye. I, uh, think he always knew I had a bit of a crush on him. He was really decent about it.

She had not needed to know her ex-husband had shared her crush on the town treasure.

“I’m not interested in talking to you,” she said to Chase, glancing anxiously toward the open door of the counselor’s office, where Brenda had left to fetch a student, then the firmly closed door of the principal’s office, where he was meeting with the VP and one of the trustees.

She didn’t know which was worse, having witnesses to this confrontation or not.

Chase leaned on the counter exactly the way the students did, like they wanted to order ice cream or a beer. “Maybe you can ask someone else to help me, then,” he said without emotion.

He looked insanely attractive, freshly shaved, lightly tanned, his dark brows stern above his intent green eyes, his mouth a sexy male pout that would make any female swoon.
“I need the parent volunteer forms so I can drive students and help with school events,” he added.

Take that, Skye. As if he’d come here special to see you. Like he owed you an apology.

Her throat stung and she feared she might be blushing. Rising, she turned away to open a drawer in the filing cabinet behind her, willing her composure back into place as she took her time fingering through and tugging out the forms. When she turned back, Chase’s eyes swiftly lifted to clash into hers.

Had he—?

Her butt tingled and her stomach swooped. Don’t, she thought. The last thing she needed was to start imagining he’d been checking her out. Hot and hating herself for it, she set the forms on the counter near his elbow.

“I need a copy of your driver’s license,” she told him.

He reached into his back pocket, the move drawing her eye to the way his T-shirt strained across his shoulders and pecs. Dear Lord, he was beautifully built. Were men allowed to have lean muscles like that without carrying a license for them as deadly weapons?

He offered the card in two fingers. Something in the way he did it made her lift her eyes to his. His brows went up ever so slightly.

He’d noticed her checking him out.

Kill. Me. Now.

She snatched the card from his grip and boiled with self-consciousness as she turned her back on him to make the copy. If he was looking at her backside again—but why would he? She didn’t want him to, did she?

What was she doing with her life that she was going off the rails like this? She was basically a happy person. She didn’t have self-destructive thoughts so why would she long for a spark between her and someone who would devastate her in all the ways Terry hadn’t? It was crazy. Literally not sane or logical.

She took the photocopy to her desk and slapped it into her In tray, refusing to look at his photo even though she was dying to. She’d finish processing this later, after he’d filled out the forms. Sitting down, she set her fingers on her keyboard, determined to carry on with her day and be normal.

He continued to stand at the counter, watching her expectantly.

“What?” she demanded.

“Can I have my driver’s license back?”

Oh for God’s sake. Blushing hard, she shot to her feet so fast her chair rolled back into the filing cabinet with a crash. Get a grip, Skye. She scooped the card from under the lid of the copier and when she slapped it on the counter, she only dared lift her gaze high enough to see he was biting back a rueful grin.

“Look, I know my being who I am made this worse—”

“Oh, no, my life is great,” she snarked, managing to keep her tone a level under shrill. “Isn’t it everyone’s dream these days to be an internet sensation? Give the forms to Max when you’ve filled them out. He can leave them in my tray.” Never come back here again, she willed him.

Then felt inexplicably sad, but honestly. This fixation needed to be carved out of her psyche and cryogenically frozen for a future generation to deal with.

“Hey, I didn’t post that clip. And for the record, I was being sarcastic last night. I know you can’t turn people gay.”

“Sure about that?” she shot back, once again finding herself pushing back for the simple reason that he had the gall to say to her what no one else had. “Wanna put it to the test?”

“I’d love to.”

The smoky look in his eyes, the deeply male timbre in his tone, crashed over her like a tropical wave, softening her bones and put a tickling feeling deep in the pit of her belly. A type of yearning.

One that was beyond misguided. Look who he was. He was mocking her. Had to be. Probably because he wasn’t any happier than she was about the way she’d embarrassed him.

“That’s not funny,” she told him. “It’s mean.” And then, because the backs of her eyes were sizzling, she went into Brenda’s office and shut the door.

“Skye!” he called.

She heard a door open and the principal spoke to him, asking if he was looking for her. After a brief exchange, everything went silent, but she continued to hide, bunching a tissue that she dabbed to keep her makeup under control, until Brenda came back and needed her office.

Award winning author, Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy,  medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and now small-town rancher novellas. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:

Amazon: US | Canada | UK 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Workplace Romance & Giveaway by Melissa McClone

Have you ever dated someone you worked with? I did, and I married him! says approximately a third of couples who meet at the office end up marrying. My hubby and I are one of the statistics. We'll be celebrating out twenty-year anniversary in April, but in the beginning I would have never imagined us dating let alone marrying.

The company allowed workplace romances, but my future hubby had his own set of rules, including not dating women at work. He didn't care that we were in different groups and worked in different buildings. He was adamant about not dating…for a while. He finally relented and a year later proposed on a chilly December night on San Francisco's Crissy Field at the Presidio.

When I was brainstorming my Kiss Me, Cowboy wrangler hero Zack Harris' conflict, I was trying to figure out why he wouldn't want to date fellow Bar V5 wrangler Charlotte (aka Charlie) Randall after sharing hot kisses by the river. My hubby's old dating rules popped into my head. I knew Zak had the same rule about not dating coworkers, only his was for a better reason. At least in his mind!

Here's a brief excerpt between Zack and Charlie from Kiss Me, Cowboy:

"So how'd you meet this guy?"

Charlie twirled the end of a braid with her finger. "Work."

"He's a cowboy?" Zack asked.

Another nod. She wouldn't meet his gaze.

Interesting. His rule kept him from kissing her again, but maybe some other guy's kisses would be enough to make her stay put. "Forget going to Colorado. There are lots of cowboys in Montana. Hell, Marietta for that matter."

She didn't look up. "Told ya. Work gets in the way."

Yeah, Charlie wasn't one to hang out at bars trying to be picked up. But if she fell for someone local, she would forget about the other guy and keep working at the Bar V5 at least for a while longer.

A brilliant plan to keep her in the area. "I could help you."

Her gaze jerked up to his. "Help?"

"Find you a man."

Melissa is giving away a $10 Starbucks e-gift card! To enter, comment whether you've dated a co-worker.  One winner will be randomly chosen from the comments.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lorraine Heath: Binge Reading

One of my favorite things to do after I turn in a book is to take a week or two and settle in to do some binge reading. It seems like when I’m on deadline, I spend most of my time scouring through my research books for all the little tidbits that will lend authenticity to my story.

But when the manuscript is sent off, I’m ready for a vacation and I take it by diving into books.

When I go on a binge, I read all genres. It just has to be something that appeals to me. I especially like when I get an advance read. I recently finished A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS by Kathleen Baldwin. It will be released in May 2015. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to wait that long. It’s a wonderful story. While it is geared for teens, any age will enjoy it. It’s unusual and the prose is beautiful. Kathleen is truly a gifted writer.

My binge also included Sherry Thomas’s THE LUCKIEST LADY IN LONDON. I love Sherry’s stories. She’s an auto-read for me.

I’m presently reading Cody Gary’s BAD GIRLS DON’T MARRY MARINES. Thoroughly enjoying it. Next up will be an advance read of Sophie Jordan’s UNLEASHED. I adored UNINVITED and am so looking forward to reading its sequel. Then I’m jumping into BEAUTY AND THE BRIT by Lizbeth Selvig.

Sarah’s MacLean’s DON’T JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER won’t be out before I complete my binge reading vacay so I need something else to add to my list. I figure I can work in one more read before I jump into writing my next story. What do you suggest? What book have you read this year that I absolutely must make time for this fall?

Three lucky posters will receive a signed copy of my latest release ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE and Addison Fox’s MANHATTAN ENCOUNTER. I loved Addison’s House of Steele series so I’m including this book in the drawing.

Happy Reading!


***Lorraine's winner is Beautiful Disaster!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lisa Ireland: Love Against The Odds

When I was a little girl I loved to listen to my Mum and Dad talk about how they met. Mum grew up in Geelong, a large regional town, and Dad came from a farming hamlet six hours drive away.  One Saturday night Dad happened to be visiting Geelong and he decided to accompany a friend to a local dance. As he walked into the ballroom Mum danced past him.  He turned to his friend and announced, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her.”

It didn’t turn out to be as simple as Dad might have hoped. That first night, Mum’s dance card was full and despite his best efforts she couldn’t be persuaded to make room for him. But he wasn’t deterred. He kept coming back, driving hundreds of miles every weekend, just on the off chance she’d dance with him.  Eventually he won her heart.

There were a few (rather large) obstacles to overcome before they could marry. Essentially they were from two different worlds. He was a poor Catholic boy and she was middle-class Protestant girl.  They lived 400 kilometres apart. It was the 1950s and these things mattered here in Australia, but my parents were determined to make it work. In the end their love for each other won out and they remained married “until death do us part.”

I’m a sucker for a love against the odds story. I guess that’s why I wrote Breaking The Drought. Jenna and Luke are from two very different worlds and despite their strong feelings for each other it seems their love is an impossible one. She’s a city slicker through and through and he’s a farmer bound to his family property by love, loyalty and guilt. At times even wondered if they would get their Happily Ever After ending! 

When a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, he's the last person who wants to notice...
When Jenna McLean gets roped into attending a matchmaking ball in a small country town, she holds no illusions of meeting the man of her dreams.  A no-nonsense magazine editor, Jenna doesn’t believe in leaving love to chance, which is why she’s developed Marriage Material – a fool-proof framework for husband hunting. Shearers and farmhands need not apply.
Sheep grazier Luke Tanner has met women like Jenna before, and knows not to waste his time. With the drought dragging on and bushfire season around the corner, the last thing he needs is a spoiled city girl like Jenna adding to his problems. He'll help out with the ball because it's good for the community, but he won't dance, he won't flirt, and he definitely won't be matched.
It's been a long dry season, but everyone knows when it rains, it pours. 
Have you got an interesting story to tell about how you met your partner? I’d love to hear it!  All commenters will go into the draw for a chance to win a copy of Breaking the Drought. 

Breaking the Drought is available from Escape Publishing
If you'd like to know more about me and my corner of the world, I'd love you to come visit me at 
You can also find me on Facebook Or Twitter

***Lisa's winner is Amanda!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eve Gaddy: A Tale of Two Stories

Thank you so much, Lee, for asking me to blog with you.  

Have you ever wondered why a writer you enjoy reading suddenly stops putting out new books? There are as many reasons as there are writers. But I'd like to talk today about having brand new books published after a long break.

That's me. I thought I had retired from writing. I had a number of reasons for making that decision and I did retire, for a while. But nearly all my friends are writers and I found that I missed them and writing. Even though they were still my friends, it just isn't the same when you're not writing and your friends are.

Then, the wonderful Debra Dixon, president of Belle Books, reissued several of my backlist titles and asked me if I had something new I wanted to write for Belle Books. I did, and that book turned out to be Cry Love. Then earlier this year, the wonderful Jane Porter, founder of the Tule Publishing Group, asked me to write a novella for them and I very happily said yes. Both Cry Love and Sing Me Back Home have just been released. I went from not having anything brand new published in several years to having two new books come out at nearly the same time. Talk about exciting!

My two new books are completely different. Well, that's not quite true. They are both romances. Sing Me Back Home is the first in Tule Publishing Group's Homecoming Series. What a fun book to write! My heroine, Maya Parrish, returns home to Marietta, Montana, with her teenaged daughter, looking for a fresh start. Naturally, the first person she runs into is her old flame, Jack Gallagher, the man whose heart she broke many years before. Jack has a daughter too, the same age as Maya's. Before long Jack and Maya realize that those feelings of attraction they once had for each other have returned in full force. (Attraction is such a mild word. What flares between Jack and Maya sizzles, steams and explodes.)

Sing Me Back Home is pure romance. The course of true love doesn't run smoothly this time either. I had a blast writing it. Who doesn't like second chances? Coming home after a long absence? And let's not forget, who doesn't like a really hot hero?

My other new book is different. Cry Love is a contemporary romance. It's three love stories, one from 1859, just prior to the Civil War, one from 1968, and the last one in the present day, where we find they are all connected. Cry Love has mystery and suspense, good and evil, tragedy and triumph.  It's about a love that won't die. A love that has been reincarnated, now for a third time, in present day Fort Worth, Texas. Claire Westbrook is a trauma surgeon and Jonas Clark is a neurosurgeon. Two of the least likely people you'll find who would believe in reincarnation. Until they're forced to, that is.

I'm very glad I wrote Cry Love. It had been on my mind for many years. I did not have fun writing it, though. Oh, sure, parts of it were fun. (Again, what's not to like about a hot hero?) I also got a kick out of Jonas' attitude to the idea of reincarnation. I enjoyed writing Claire, who is a very strong character but whose vulnerabilities take her a bit by surprise. But running through the heart of the story is a subject that's not fun and in fact, is quite tragic. Don't worry, though. Remember, I am a romance writer.:)

I am so happy to be writing again. And I'm so happy to be working with two great publishers, dynamite editors and all of the people who have a part in both Tule Publishing and Belle Books/Bell Bridge Books. Most of all, it's good to feel like me again. As the saying goes, "I live in my own little world. But it's okay, they know me here."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jackie Ashenden: Here’s To Fate

Hi everyone! My name’s Jackie Ashenden and I write sexy, gritty contemporary romance.  I’m here today to talk about opportunities. About how a road that you thought was a dead end, can suddenly open up into a whole new series of directions. And it starts with my book, Never Seduce A Sheikh.

A couple of years ago, before my first book was accepted for publication, I decided I wanted to write something a bit different.  I'd always liked the idea of sheikh books – there's something of a fairy tale about a mysterious alpha king, who was also a warrior at heart, that I really liked.  So I wrote this book with a very dark sheikh hero and I sent it off to a certain publisher in the hope that they would like it as much as I did.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Although they liked the book, it wasn't right for them and since there weren't any other publishers who wanted sheikh books, I disappointedly sent my sheikh hero to languish in the bowels of my hard drive, never to be seen again.

Or so I thought.

Fast-forward a couple of years and a couple of months to San Antonio in July of this year, where I was at the Romance Writers of America conference and where I met with the wonderful Jane Porter. In the process of chatting about various heroes we'd written, I told her I'd once written a sheikh.  To cut a long (and no doubt boring) story short she said she'd love a sheikh story for Tule and would I send it to her.

So I hauled my dark sheikh out of his PC  dungeon and sent him off. And Jane read it and she loved him and he's now starring in Never Seduce A Sheikh, part of the International Bad Boys series for Tule.

I never thought he'd get his day in the sun and if I'd never gone to San Antonio and met Jane, if I'd never chatted to her about writing, he never would. But I did. And isn't fate a wonderful thing?

What about you? Do you believe in happy meetings that lead to good things? Random chances that can turn into opportunities you thought you'd lost? Do you believe in fate?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon giftcard plus two of my contemporary ebooks – Taking Him and Having Her!

***Jackie's winner is Kimberly V!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Susanne Bellamy: Engaging the Enemy

Through the centuries feuding families have provided the stuff of tragedy and the wiping out of entire families. Think of the Capulets and the Montagues, or the Hatfields and the McCoys and dark images abound. Of course Hollywood also gave us the Clampetts and a light-hearted, crazy Granny-feud-happy set of characters to enjoy.

When the idea of two people who wanted the same abandoned building in Engaging the Enemy popped into my head, it seemed natural to create a set of feuding families and a history that neither protagonist knew about until they clashed. Such a background offered both internal and external conflict to taunt, tempt and torment our hero and heroine and added to the problems they had to overcome when their respective families also brought pressure to bear on them.

The de Villiers and the Mahoneys have been enemies since one great grandpa allegedly cheated the other great grandpa out of his home. Three generations on and it seems as though history is about to repeat itself. While Andie and Matt might not be pulling a gun on each other, they subscribe to the theory that all’s fair in love and war.

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.
 Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.
 But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.
 But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer? 

Read an excerpt at:

Have you ever told a lie to protect someone you love?  Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book of Engaging the Enemy. Please check after 25 September on my FB page for the winner.

Buy links: Amazon UK | Amazon

Read more about famous feuds at:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Robyn Rychards: How Long Should the Romance Timeline Be?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately.  When should my Hero and Heroine get their Happily Ever After?  Generally, I feel it isn’t realistic for the Hero and Heroine to fall in love and decide they want to be together forever in a week or even a few days.  That having been said, when I’m reading a romance, the time frame really isn’t a factor for me.  It’s only when I’m writing them that I think about it.  Maybe it’s because I feel like I couldn’t come up with enough action in a week to fill up a book of 50,000 or more words.  

In Her Man From Shilo the events cover a time period of almost twenty years, starting when the Hero and Heroine were children.  Her Knight in Shining Armour, my latest release, covers the time period of a summer.  The rest of my stories fall somewhere in between.  My latest work in progress is a medical romance that takes place on a cruise ship.  Since a cruise lasts a week or less, you would expect the characters to have their HEA by the end of the cruise.  

However, both my characters work for the cruise line, so having the story span a greater amount of time is definitely doable.  But do I want it to do that?  I am rather surprised I have enough ideas in my head I could actually meet my word count without having to make the story cover a longer period of time.  Since I’ve been going back and forth in my head about what I want to do, I decided to ask you lovely readers out there what you think.

Does it matter to you how much time passes before the Hero and Heroine get their HEA?

To make things more fun, one commenter will get a free eBook copy of Her Knight in Shining Armour or Her Man From Shilo, your choice.

Here’s the blurbs from each to help you decide which you prefer:

Her Man From Shilo:
Rafferty Pierce's step-father has arranged a marriage for him in order to expand the family ranch. Just one small problem-Rafferty already has a wife.
Daimiana Casey has loved two things for as long as she can remember…. Dancing and Rafferty Pierce. Will she be able to convince Rafferty she doesn’t have to give up one to have the other? 
With his step-father’s ultimatum, Rafferty is forced to reveal his secret shotgun marriage to Daimee, and with it passion and tension erupt.. Can Daimee and Raff have what they both want more than anything?

Her Knight in Shining Armour:

She may not need a knight in shining armour to save her, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look a gift knight in the visor...
Paisley doesn’t need a knight in shining armour to rescue her from her high-powered, abusive ex-husband. She’s got it covered on her own: she's changed her name, liquidated her assets, and has a plan to disappear in the Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Psychiatrist Sterling James has absolutely no intention of being anyone’s saviour. The only woman he has any time for is his sister. But circumstances change when Sterling finds Paisley in an unexpected and life-threatening situation. Brought in to the drama of her escape, Sterling finds himself invested, and he can't move on until he knows Paisley is going to be safe. 
It should be a simple enough exercise to get Paisley out of the park and into her new life. But nothing is ever as simple as it should be, and Sterling soon discovers that even if her ex-husband buys the set-up, he might not be able to watch Paisley go... 

***Robyn's winner is Alina P!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Saturday, September 20, 2014

That's Life by Jenny Gardiner

We recently ran into friends whose daughter is now working a "real job" in Manhattan. They mentioned how tough it was for her to leave summer vacation and return to the grind — made all the harder because they never worked conventional 9-5 jobs while raising her, thus didn't model the way most of the country works. This is the same for our family: my husband runs his own business, which has given him the wonderful flexibility to devote extra time to family when needed, while also being able to earn enough to support us all. This thankfully afforded me the chance to stay home with our children, and eventually write.

We wondered how growing up in a world where work hours were more malleable and in which it was rare to see anyone wearing business attire might affect our kids' career choices. When I was a kid, men (and it was usually men back then) often remained with one company for their entire careers. I would struggle to have faith nowadays in a company being there for you the way they once were. I've seen far too many people blindsided by their company's laying them off with no advance notice, or worse still, left with no pension despite promises to the contrary.

There's something to be said for going it on your own if you can, and I think that appeals more and more to this generation of young adults who are weary of the conventional (and these days, lackluster) job market. Even more intriguing is the concept of eschewing the expected route, and making your way by hook or crook.

My daughter spent the past two months backpacking in Australia, and now hopes to move there: all it took was holding a koala bear to seal the deal. ("You had me at koala," as Jerry Maguire might say.) She said it was "the Bonnaroo of countries", referring to the famed music festival, at which people actively practice kindness. Her plan is to return as soon as her bank account will allow. I guess even glorious Central Virginia can't compete with a big-hearted country populated with adorable creatures with intoxicating menthol breath (eating nothing but eucalyptus will do that to you).

I struggle with the idea of "losing" my daughter to a land so far away, particularly when she was poised to enter the work force armed with enviable skills and potential. But I'd rather she be happy 10,000 miles from here waiting tables than be chained to a job that sucks the soul from her. To be young and commitment-free and able to carve your way in an unconventional way is enviable, and certainly brazen.

As Kendall traveled through Australia, I couldn't help but appreciate why she wanted to stay. Never have I seen such beautiful countryside as in her photographs. Plus, where else could you find unique animals carrying such cute babies in their pockets? And the Aussie accent? That alone is enough to keep you there. I'd have to take a pass on the Vegemite, though.

An American writer friend married to an Australian couldn't resist driving home the point on the glories of Oz, saying it was truly the best place to live for overall lifestyle. He said it's an egalitarian country with extremely friendly people, living wages, no guns, (no guns!), fantastic food, a month off annually for starting employees, six off (paid!) if you're with a company for a decade, and free medical care. He summed Aussie life up this way: sailing, drinking, surfing, cafes, drinking, and dodging sharks. Sounds like Shangri-La to me (minus the sharks).
It's like the anti-U.S., where there's a culture of some perverse pride in working non-stop till you drop dead. Or where a frightening majority of the population can't even afford to take vacation. And a frightening minority wield the Oz-banned guns like a badge of unearned entitlement. Yep, I can see the appeal to Australia. Besides, what a salve to the insane American academic arms race she just spent her childhood navigating. Who could blame her? Especially as she sees friends taking jobs in which they are so miserable they go home and cry at night.
I read an article recently about a Swedish study on "collective restoration", the idea that if everyone took vacation at the same time we'd all be happier and healthier. It referred to a woman who heads up a university's work/life balance center, who herself refused vacations for ten years. What at work is so important that you can't give yourself the gift of a little getaway?

I'd heard of young graduates being lured by consulting and Wall Street firms with huge vacation packages. Yet those "in the know" say such packages are really just a test: employees who actually use the vacation time would pay for it by not being promoted. I asked my brother, a high-level muckity-muck of lord knows what at some consulting firm, if this was true.

"I'm the wrong one to ask," he said from his office on a Sunday. "I worked on Christmas day. I hardly ever take vacation."

Meaning: you want to get ahead, don't take care of yourself. Be a cog in the wheel and turn and grind and don't poop out. There's a term for it: the work martyr complex. Granted, this was coined by the US Travel Association, in an attempt to encourage more travel, less work. But it is indeed a condition plaguing too many in our country. Of course the irony is the ones who need vacation most, those working two and three minimum wage jobs just to get by, well, they aren't going to get vacation any time soon, sadly.

I heard Daimler has instituted an email-free vacation rule: life will go on at Daimler while employees decompress and restore themselves. What a novel idea whose time has come.

As a mom, I'll hate to have my daughter about as far away as possible from me, especially knowing there's a good chance she'll end up settling there. But I'll also take solace that she's chosen a place that speaks to her soul, where she's likely to find a healthy life balance. And what parent wouldn't be happy to see her child have the wisdom to follow that bliss?

Jenny Gardiner will be saving her pennies to visit her girl some day Down Unduh. Find her at
Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)
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