Friday, January 31, 2014

Her Secret Valentine, Part 10


Her Secret Valentine, Part 10
By Margaret Daley

(Click the shoe pic in the side bar to start at the beginning or if you’ve missed an installment, check the list in the sidebar for a direct link.)

Thankful it was a pleasant seventy-five degrees, Nancy took off her shoes. She hated sand in them as she walked along the beach. Taking a few steps toward the water, she slanted a glance over her shoulder at the tall grass between her car and the beach.

She caught sight of Shanna and Garth hiding in the middle of a particular thick patch of sea oats. If she could see them so could her secret admirer—the one they were setting up to catch. So much for a covert stakeout.

Nancy scanned the area, and except for a mother and two young children and an older couple about a hundred yards down the beach, the area was empty. “Shanna, what made you wear red to a stakeout? My secret admirer probably can see you from half a mile away. Get down.”

Shanna giggled. “Sorry about that. Garth is giving me his tan jacket to cover my red blouse.”

How in the world did she get talked into doing this stakeout? At least she got to pick the place. She came to this beach when she needed to think. Without Garth and Shanna distracting her, she needed to decide whether she should try calling Brad in Georgia or wherever he was. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Swinging her three-inch high heels by the straps, Nancy strolled away from the mother with her children and the couple. Another sign this whole secret admirer thing was playing with her mind—whatever possessed her to wear one of her favorite pair of shoes to the beach!

Forget the shoes. Concentrate on your problem. Her curiosity was going to get the best of her.

Who is my secret admirer? Brad? Someone I haven’t thought about? Someone else on the list? There are still a few names.

The sound of a car door slamming close penetrated her mind. She stopped and swung around in time to see a black sedan driving away—from where her yellow Thunderbird had been parked.

Oh, no. Was that her secret admirer? Why wasn’t Shanna and Garth going after the black sedan?

She rushed back toward her two cohorts in this stakeout, gone bad. She parted the tall grass to find Garth kissing Shanna. Nancy cleared her throat. The two lovebirds pulled back from each other, red lipstick all over Garth’s mouth.

“I don’t know if you all care, but I think the secret admirer was here and is now gone.” Nancy pivoted and marched toward her Thunderbird with its top down.

As she tossed her high heels on the passenger’s seat, she spied another gift, a heart shaped crystal bowl filled with cherry Lifesavers.


Bestselling author, Margaret Daley, is multi-published with 94 books. She had written for Harlequin, Abingdon, Kensington, Dell, and Simon and Schuster. She has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Carol Award, Holt Medallion and Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest.
She has been married for over forty years and has one son and four granddaughters. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Her Secret Valentine--Part Nine


Maybe Garth was right, Nancy thought. Maybe Shana was too much of a distraction for the handsome PI to get any work done. Last thing Cupid's Corner needed was a man on the run. Maybe if all three of them were out there looking, surely, the mystery behind Nancy’s secret admirer as well as Garth’s reason for being in Cupid’s Corner would soon be solved.

Nancy opened her mouth to thank Garth but Shana spoke first. “Don’t go.”

She jerked around to Shana. Was it just her imagination or had her level-headed friend asked, no, make that begged Garth not to go? Shana threw Nancy an apologetic smile before turning her attention back to the man. There was something different about her, a softness that hadn’t been there before, a feeling that when beyond simple attraction.

Love?

Nancy pressed her lips together. No one fell in love that fast. Why, Shana didn’t even know how the man took his coffee or if he liked Castle or if he had a relationship with God. Love doesn’t happen all at once, but over time, once you really know someone, know everything about them. That’s when love happens. Not like a bolt of lighting. 

Hadn’t she loved Brad from the beginning?

A painful knot formed in Nancy’s chest. Yes, she’d loved him from that first moment, when he’d give her his chair after she’d shown up late for Sunday school and fell deeper the more she learned about him. Like how he always carried a bag of cherry lifesavers because he knew they were her favorites. Or the notes he made along the edges of his Bible when he thought no one was watching. He’d seemed too good to be for real, right up until the moment Tanya Watson had shay-shaded into the shoe store at the mall where Nancy worked, clinging to Brad’s arm as if her life depended on it.

And rather than listen to his explanation, she’d turned tail and ran as fast and as far as she could.

Shana snapped her fingers in front of Nancy’s face, and she blinked. “What do you think.”

Nancy glanced at Garth, trying to get a read but he looked as confused as she felt. “I’m not quite sure I understand.”

“I was just saying that we might be able to help each other.”

Maybe so, but did she really want either of them around someone Garth had chased all the way from Georgia? Still curiosity got the best of her. “And how would we do that?”

“A stake out.” 

The suggestion just confused Nancy more. “But we don’t even know if my secret admirer and the man Garth is looking for is related. And where would this stake out be?  He switches up where he delivers the gifts to.”

“No,” Garth disagreed, flashing a smile at Shana that caused her friend to blush. “He has them delivered to where he knows you’re at.”

“Well, if that’s it, how do we know where to have this ‘stakeout?’” Nancy asked.

“The question isn’t where,” Shana answered, slipping an arm around Nancy’s waist. “But who.”

Nancy shook her head. “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

“I do.” Garth gazed into Shana’s eyes with such admiration, Nancy couldn’t help feeling a little bit jealous. “He’s here in Cupid’s Corner because of you. So why not use you to draw him out in the open?”

Like a cricket on the end of one of her daddy’s fishing poles, dangling over the water, that’s how Nancy felt. But if it was Brad, wasn’t it time she learned the truth so that she could move on with her life? “Okay, Garth, how do we get started?”








Patty Smith Hall has been making up stories to keep herself and others occupied since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Now she’s thrilled to share her love of history with others, including her husband of 30 years, Danny; her beautiful and talented daughters, Jennifer and Carly, and her future son-in-law, Dan. Her third book based in World War II Georgia, Hearts Rekindled is available Feb. 1st.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The benefits of a retreat

Good morning, everyone! Danica Favorite here, and I woke up in a mini panic today because I've been out of town on a retreat and thought I missed my blogging day. Fortunately, I grabbed the calendar and realized it was today, so we're all good! Why is it so hard to get back into the swing of things after being gone?

I went on a spiritual retreat, and it was a really good experience. We spent an entire weekend focused on the story of The Good Samaritan. I've never done anything like that before, but I am really glad I did. It was so nice taking that one piece of Scripture and really letting it sink in. I've been on a number of retreats over the years with different church groups, and I think this one was my favorite.

So many times we think that we're too busy or it's too selfish to get away from our family and life obligations for a weekend to spend time focusing on our spiritual growth, but I'm firmly convinced that not only is it good for us to get away, it's necessary! One of the things we talked about at the retreat was that in order to take care of the people around you, you've got to take care of yourself too! It's like they always tell you on the plane: put on your own oxygen mask first!

If you get a chance to go on a retreat, whether it be with your church, or another group, I highly recommend it! I may still be confused about which day it is, but I feel pretty good about all the stuff I have to conquer and I feel much more capable of taking care of my family.

What about you? Have you had experiences with going on retreats?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Working Toward a Goal by Merrillee Whren

I'm a big tennis fan. I love to play tennis, and I love to watch it. In fact, this morning I was playing tennis while people were trying to contact me to let me know it was my day to blog. Thus the late arrival of a blog post.

The Australian Open Tennis Championships were played during the past two weeks in Melbourne, Australia. Stan Wawrinka is the men's champion for this year. This is his first tennis grand slam title. For years he has played in the shadow of Roger Federer, a fellow Swiss countryman. I first saw Stan Wawrinka play when my husband and I went to The Wimbledon Tennis Championships in 2008. Since that time I have followed his career and seen how hard he has worked to attain this goal. I was thrilled to see him win.

Attaining one's goal usually takes hard work no matter what that goal is. In our stories, our characters have goals. As writers we try to put obstacles in front of our characters to make achieving that goal harder. Without those difficulties the story would probably be very boring. As romance readers we like to see the characters overcome the obstacles and achieve those goals on their way to a happy ending.

Have you achieved a goal that you've worked hard for, or is there a goal that you are working towards? Please share it with us.





Merrillee Whren is an award-winning author who writes inspirational romance. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of thirty plus years, and has two grown daughters. She has lived in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Florida but now makes her home in the Arizona desert. When she’s not writing or working for her husband’s recruiting firm, she spends her free time playing tennis or walking while she does the plotting for her novels. Please visit her Web site at or connect with her on Facebook.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Her Secret Valentine, Part 8 Roxanne Rustand

     















      Feeling faint, Nancy sagged against the rack of 50% off shoes at the front of the store, sending a pair of whimsical purple and yellow stilettos tumbling to the floor.  So many of the clues pointed to the man she'd thought was the love of her life.

     The man who had broken her heart.

      But while she'd been dreamily doodling Mrs. Brad Peters  on random bits of scratch paper, imagining a distant future of wedding bells and bliss back in Georgia, he'd been seeing Tanya Wilson behind her back. And he'd been so careful,  that she'd had to hear the news from his twin brother Mike.

       So there could be no reason why Brad would follow her here to lurk in the shadows and send her anonymous messages and gifts.  Why would he?  He'd been the one to fall for someone else.  A gorgeous woman from a wealthy family who had been runner-up for Miss Georgia  just three years earlier. What man could walk away from someone like her?
      
       Yet too many things were adding up.  
    
       The familiar, awkwardly romantic tone in the most recent anonymous note she'd received.

       The black hair.
       
       The penmanship on the latest note.  Brad's cursive writing wobbled slightly whenever he wrote with his non-dominant hand.  
  
       Shanna grasped Nancy's upper arms and helped her regain her balance.  "Are you okay?"

      Nancy drew in a steadying breath and looked up at the investigator.  "The thing is...well, this whole situation is making me a little nervous. Can you at least tell me the first name of the man you're looking for?"

       Garth spared her a quick look and then turned back to Shanna and gently tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear.  "It wouldn't help.  The guy I'm after isn't traveling under his own name, and I'm not at liberty to say."

      "Is his name Brad?"

       Garth didn't even bat an eye. 

       "Who hired you, then?" 

       "Sorry."

       "Then can you tell us what this fellow did? Why are you after him?"

       "Look, I'd like to help you two, really.  But I've been following this guy since he left Georgia, and I have a client who wants  him found.  Quietly."

       Georgia.  Once again, the world seemed to spin around her.  Could it really be Brad he was after? But Brad was a sweet guy.  At least he had been, until he'd walked out of her life.  He couldn't have done anything wrong.

       Shanna's jaw dropped.  "You're after a criminal?  This is so cool!"

      "I didn't say that."  His voice laced with regret, Garth gave a big sigh. "Look,  I just need to find him--quickly. I think I'd better leave you two to your romantic mysteries and be on my way."





Roxanne Rustand has written thirty novels for Harlequin's SuperRomance, Heartwarming, Everlasting, Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense lines.  You can find her at www.roxannerustand.com (The All Creatures Great and Small blog) and at  www.facebook.com/roxanne.rustand.author

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Her Secret Valentine Part 7

Louise M. Gouge
 
“It would help if we knew his hair color.” Nancy glanced up from her list of suspects to see Shanna and Garth staring at each other with identical expressions: besotted. For the past two days they’d been meeting in Nancy’s shoe shop to try to figure out who her secret admirer was, but the only admiration in the room was between the two of them.

“A little help here?” She nudged Shanna, who sat beside her.

“Uh? Oh, sorry. What were you saying?” She didn’t bother to look at Nancy.

“Hair color. Our suspects.” Nancy waved her hand in front of Garth’s face, but he didn’t redirect his gaze away from Shanna…or even blink. Some PI, giving all his attention to Shanna instead of to the case. And he’d even been tailing this man before they hired him. For whom?

To be fair, she reminded herself that he’d managed to make a list of all the men in Cupid’s Corner whose height was over six feet one inch. They’d garnered that bit of description from the waitress at the cafĂ©, then Garth had made inquiries around town. Most of those tall men were either too old, too well fed, or happily married, like Ted.

Not only that, but two more surprise gifts had come to If the Shoe Fits, both accompanied by sweetly corny poems written in an awkward handwriting style, as if the writer thought he needed another layer of cover. Nancy couldn’t complain about the book of poetry—by her favorite author, or the old-fashioned red telephone in the shape of a high-heeled shoe similar to the one whose heel she’d broken in her fruitless pursuit of the tall man. She would treasure both of them as long as she lived. But they still didn’t lead her to her secret admirer.

She exhaled an involuntary sigh full of all her frustrations, and at last her accomplices turned their eyes in her direction.

“Black,” Garth said. “Black hair.”

Nancy started. “Black?” Brad’s hair was black, just like his heart. She huffed out another sigh. Brad was still back in Georgia, probably married to Tanya by now. But Nancy wouldn’t mention that small fact. Besides, lots of man had black hair. Lots.

“You know, Nan—” Garth insisted upon shortening her name, but he never called Shanna just Shan. “The funny thing about this handwriting is that it looks like somebody who’s left-handed tried to write with his right hand.”

“What?!” Nancy grabbed up the paper lying on the table.

“Yeah. See this.” He reached over and pointed to the words with his ever present self-promo pen with his name address, and phone number on it. “You can tell from the slant of the letters and the...”

Nancy didn’t hear the rest of his words. She didn’t need to. Brad was left-handed, and he’d often doodled on napkins with his right when they’d gone out to dinner.

Try though she might, she couldn’t stifle the violent skip of her heart as that information settled into her brain.
 
 
Award-winning Florida author Louise M. Gouge writes historical fiction for Harlequin's Love Inspired imprint. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 historical novel, Hannah Rose (first place) and her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, (second place). Her most recent release is a Regency romance, A Lady of Quality. Please visit Louise's Web site at http://blog.Louisemgouge.com
 
 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Happy Blonde Brownie Day!

Hi, Winnie Griggs here.  I just found out that Jan 22 is National Blonde Brownie Day.  Who knew?  So, being an historical author, I had to do a little research into the history of the blonde brownie and found a few little interesting tidbits.

The most interesting was the fact that Blondies predate the currently more popular chocolate brownie by a number of years.  According to The Food Timeline site, the first recorded Brownie recipe, ca 1896, had no chocolate in it and would produce a treat very like today’s blonde brownies.

One of the most popular candies of the mid nineteenth century was butterscotch, and many of the ingredients in this early version of blondies were the same, only combined with other ingredients so that it could be baked into a cake-like product rather than candy treat.

As for as where blondies got their names, while no one knows for certain, The Food Timeline reports 3 possibilities
It might have been in honor of a woman named Mildred Brown Schrumpf, who was, among other things, a Nutritionist, Newspaper Columnist, Food Judge, Author and Cook (born 1903)
It might have been named after Palmer Cox’s cartoon elves, dubbed Brownies, ca 1887
It might borrowed its name from a Scottish confection called a broonie

And in honor of this sweet-themed day, I thought I’d share that early first recipe with you

Brownies
The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1896) by Fannie Merritt Farmer

1/3  cup butter 1/3  cup powdered sugar
1/3  cup Porto Rico molasses
1     egg well beaten
7/8  cup bread flour
1     cup pecan meat cut in pieces

Mix ingredients in order given
Bake in small, shallow fancy cake tins, garnishing top of each cake with one-half pecan.

So let’s hear it for the blonde brownie on its special day.  (But I must confess to still preferring chocolate!)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

And, since the heroine of my Dec 2013 release, A Family For Christmas, runs a sweet shop and very likely baked some of these very confections for her customers, I thought I'd just go ahead and give away a copy of this book to one person who leaves a comment here today!

An Unexpected Gift 

Eve Pickering knows what it's like to be judged for your past. So she's not about to leave the orphaned boy she's befriended alone in this unfamiliar Texas town. Since Chance Dawson's offer of shelter is the only way to look after Leo, Eve is determined they'll have a warm, welcoming home for the holidays.

Chance came from the big city to make it on his own despite a painful secret. But Eve's strength is giving him a confidence he never expected—and a new direction for his dream. With a little Christmas blessing, he'll dare to win her heart—and make their family one for a lifetime.

You're Invited: Love Inspired Reader Luncheon

Debby Giusti here, and I've got an invitation for each of you!

Have you heard? Our wonderful publisher, Love Inspired, is hosting the FIRST EVER Love Inspired Reader Luncheon! I’ll be there, along with Missy Tippens, Lenora Worth, Carol Post, Marty Johnson, Jessica Nelson, Renee Andrews, Lynette Eason, Louise Gouge and Patty Smith Hall! 

The event is a warm and welcoming way for readers to meet their favorite authors and chat during lunch. Each author will host her own table so lots of time to mix and mingle, get autographs and snap photos as well as make that special connection with the authors you love to read.  Plus there will be giveaways, and each person who attends will go home with a huge bag of books valued at $75!

The Reader Luncheon will be held Thursday, January 30th, from 11 AM to 2 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tampa, Florida

For more information go to the website:

Space is limited! Call Harlequin Customer Service at 1-800-847-8270 to order tickets while quantities last. Be sure to let us know if you plan to attend. 

We’d love all our readers to join us for the day!

See you in Tampa!

Debby Giusti

THE SOLDIER'S SISTER, the fifth book in Debby's Military Investigations Series, is still available. Watch for THE AGENT'S SECRET PAST, on sale March 2014.

THE AGENT'S SECRET PAST
By Debby Giusti

THREAT FROM HER AMISH PAST 
Eight years ago, a drifter destroyed Becca Miller's ties to her Amish community—and murdered her family. Now a special agent with Fort Rickman's criminal investigation department, Becca knows her past has caught up with her and doesn't want to relive it. She's convinced that the killer, who supposedly died years ago, is very much alive and after her. Special agent Colby Voss agrees to help her investigate. Yet the closer they get to the truth, the closer the killer gets to silencing her permanently. 

Pre-order at Amazon



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bayou Sweetheart Interview

How exciting to have Callie Moreau from Bayou Sweetheart, a January 2014 release by Lenora Worth from Love Inspired Romance.

1. Callie, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
      I’m not that interesting. I own a nursery and I’m a landscaper. I love being outdoors in my garden or at the nursery. That’s my thing. It brings me closer to God and that comforts me.
2. What do you do for fun?
      Fun? Well, I always enjoy hanging out with my two younger sisters. We’re planning a wedding for one and the other one is going to have a baby. I’m so happy for both of them. I guess I’ll be the divorced older sister with the big dog named Elvis for the rest of my life. I don’t think getting married again is in my future. (Even if my sisters are pestering me about the mysterious owner of Fleur House.)
3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Right now, I’m dreading going back to Fleur House to start work on a massive garden design. This is my biggest job yet and Tomas Delacorte (that mysterious man I mentioned earlier) does something to my soul that scares me. But Elvis loves him. J
4. What are you afraid of most in life?
      I’m afraid of falling in love again. I’m kind of worried about that since I had breast cancer and my husband bailed on me. Couldn’t handle it, I guess. I won’t go through that again. Ever.
5.  What is the most important thing to you? My family, my work and my faith. And right now, all three of being tested. Tomas is beginning to be important to me and that just won’t work.
6. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
      I love books. My favorite—Wuthering Heights. So tragic. Did I tell you that Tomas reminds me of Heathcliff? Oh, yes. Definitely the brooding lord of the manor type.
7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
     My need to heal hurt things. I can save a whole garden from dying and I can bring a mutt named Elvis back to good health. But this need to take hurting people and heal them, well, I should just leave that to God. I want to help Tomas and I try but I should just walk away. Walk away, Callie J
8. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
      Well, I’ve mentioned Elvis already. He showed up at the nursery on a rainy day right after I’d been through so much in my life and I just knew I had to keep him. He was hungry and afraid but now he’s big and clumsy and so lovable. Even Tomas likes Elvis.
9. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? Oh, that’s a hard one. I don’t travel much but I guess if I could, I’d love to go to Europe and see all the beautiful gardens on the large estates. I love Fleur House and kinda dreamed about living there one day. So it would be nice to see it when it was new and full of love and laughter. Yeah, I’d love some of that for myself. And … I wouldn’t mind traveling forward a bit—to see my sweet mama in heaven. She died of breast cancer a few years ago. It would be nice to get a hug from her right now.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

FEATURED BOOK: Bayou Sweetheart by Lenora Worth



Love In Bloom 

For landscaper Callie Moreau, working in the gardens of Fleur House is a dream come true. Then she meets the owner, a mysterious millionaire with rumors following him wherever he goes. Callie finds herself drawn to Tomas Delacorte in spite of the darkness in his eyes. And Tomas can't resist the joy that Callie brings to his days. He could be the man Callie's always prayed for. But when Tomas's secrets come to light, and the people she's known all her life are threatened, Callie must decide if she can stand by the man who's stealing her heart.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Her Secret Valentine Part 6 by Missy Tippens

Her Secret Valentine Part 6
by Missy Tippens

Nancy looked at Garth Willowby’s business card. Looked at the man himself. Then looked at her best friend, an idea taking shape.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking,” Shanna asked with a laugh.

Nancy smiled and turned back to Mr. Willowby. “A P.I., huh? We’re trying to catch that man, too.”

“So you know him?”

“Well, honestly, I’m not sure. I think he could be my secret…uh…admirer.” Her scorching face must be as red as the three-inch spike heel in her hand.




His eyebrows lifted, and Nancy wanted to crawl away because laughter shone in his eyes. He was having entirely too much fun at her expense.

Shanna sidled up beside him and blessed him with one of her most winning smiles. A smile that tended to bring men to their knees. “Mr. Willowby—”

“Garth. Please call me Garth.”

Had Shanna just batted her eyes? Yes, she had.

Shanna batted them again. “Garth, could you tell us what you know about that man?”

The calm, cool charmer’s face suddenly streaked with red at Shanna’s attention. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. Client confidentiality and all that.”

“Then I’d like to hire you,” Nancy blurted. “To find that man who just ran down the street, the man who bought me vanilla biscotti.” A thrill shot through her. She might soon know the man who’d been wooing her with gifts and sweet words.




Sweet yet eerily familiar words. She sobered, thinking of the note that made her heart ache for lost love. Hadn’t it been him who always told her she needed to get out and enjoy life?

“Let me get this straight. You’d like to hire me to find your secret admirer?”

“Yep. Because the man’s note said Nancy's a natural beauty,” Shanna added in a sing-song voice.

The investigator’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “I’d say you’re both natural beauties.”

Nancy wanted to snap her fingers in front of his face but refrained for her friend’s sake. Could a romance be blooming? “So Garth, can I hire you to locate this man?”

Without looking away from Shanna, he nodded. “As long as any leads I get on the man keep me in Cupid’s Corner, I’ll be glad to work with you ladies.”