Posts tagged with: Caren Crane

September Fun in the Lair!

I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*


A SEAL's Fantasy coverAnyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!

Duke very low resTawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy.  The title really says it all.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.


DamasoWe kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite,  as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.


Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.


On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.


More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.


Duke low res*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell  is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!

BarbaraLohr_HerFavoriteHoneymoon800 (2)


On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.


Vexing_The_Viscount_(eBook)A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.


On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel. 




More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!



Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!

Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.

Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.

Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?

By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!

The Perfect Kiss Payoff

These days, there is a lot of explicit sex on offer. You can watch guarded versions on network TV or incredibly explicit versions on cable TV. It is available in movies and even in books. It makes me shake my head in wonder at the sort of romance novels I started out reading. The payoff in those? A single, perfect kiss.

Barbara Cartland coverI cut my romance baby teeth on dozens of Barbara Cartland’s Regency romances. These slender volumes invariably featured beautiful, but impoverished, heroines with heart-shaped faces. The heroes were tall, dark, very rich noblemen who somehow managed to see past the heroine’s shabby clothes and unfashionable chapeau to the natural grace and beauty underneath. At the end of these sweeping, sweet romances, the hero and heroine shared a glorious, much-anticipated kiss. Generally, this followed after the declaration of love and proposal of marriage.


Game-of-Thrones-sex-3This notion of waiting an entire book for a single kiss is hopelessly old-fashioned these days. With shows like Game Of Thrones and Masters Of Sex (both excellent, by the way) showing us people getting busy every which way, who would waste their time reading 150 pages to get to that incredibly sweet first kiss?

North and South kiss


I still find myself, though, enjoying the build-up. Even in books where the hero and heroine are definitely headed toward the boudoir, I love the sexual tension. The awareness. The breathless anticipation of the will they, won’t they? We can pretty much guarantee, these days, that the hero and heroine will definitely do a lot more than kissing. But waiting for that first kiss is something I still really enjoy. (And yes, that IS Richard Armitage and that fabulous kiss on the train from North and South!


gustav-klimt-the-kissI’m not sure if my enjoyment of the anticipation is because of all those Barbara Cartland novels or because I simply love falling in love right along with the heroine. My “new love” days are long gone and so far in the past now they are difficult to recall sometimes. But when I read a great romance novel and find myself longing for the first kiss along with the heroine, I get to fall in love all over again.

Do you enjoy the build-up to the first kiss in a romance? Have you ever read a romance where a kiss was the ultimate romantic payoff? And do you require a fully-consummated romance or do you think the heat of the romance depends on the couple and their story? I can’t wait to find out!

Flummoxed By Fashion

denim horrorI recently received a catalog from a favorite women’s retailer. It was their offerings for fall and, I’ll admit, I usually love to see what they are pushing for the upcoming season. I have, over the years, spent thousands of dollars on clothes with this retailer. I have bought many things (including envy-inspiring jackets, Joan!) at this store. I depend on them to have fun casual clothes and also clothes I can wear to work and to writing conferences where I want to present a professional appearance.

craft suppliesApparently, when the designers were working on the fall collection, they got together and smoked a whole lot of recreational drugs first. Then they took huge bags of clothes gathered from thrift stores all over the world, dating mostly from the 1980′s but also from the early 90′s. They dumped the clothes in a huge pile, got out their Fiskars, and cut pieces and parts from random items, then sewed them together in a hodgepodge manner and broke out the sequins, gemstones, fringe and hot glue guns. The result? A fall collection of fashions so baffling that I am still moaning and shaking my head.

lace bomber1. A lace bomber jacket – I love a bomber (or aviator) jacket more than anyone. I own a gorgeous brown leather one I bought in 1991 that I still get compliments on every time I wear it. The one in this collection, however, is made of navy blue polyester lace. Yes, lace, with big old air holes across its entire surface. It also has a big silver zipper up the front and wide elastic bands at the cuff and bottom. What is the point of a “jacket” made of lace, first of all, and who would be tempted to wear such a concoction? And where would you wear it?!?

sequinned denim vest2. Sequined, acid-washed denim vest - I have had denim, lots of denim in my lifetime. I spent all of the 80′s and the early 90′s in acid-washed denim and, I’ll admit, I loved it. I had jeans, jackets, miniskirts. I never owned a denim vest, but if I had found a really cute one, I would have worn it. I have worn embroidered and decorated denim in moderation. I have never worn sequinned denim. Denim = casual. Sequins = formal. What do you get when you combine the two? A hot mess, in my opinion! This vest also has seams that run along the breastline (pretty common for denim), except this one has a zipper on the left seam. Yes, a zipper. Why add a zipper? I have no clue. Denim! Sequins! Useless zipper!

shiny sweat pants3. Shiny sweat pants - Now, they don’t call these “sweat pants.” They call them a “Soft Matte Shine Pant,” which means nothing. They are baggy, have those awkward front pockets that are located near the side leg seam and have a wide band of elastic gathering the ankles. But they are shiny and a grey/silver color. They are also paired with the lace bomber jacket and a t-shirt awash in silver studs. And strappy silver stilettos. These are sweat pants, friends, but apparently they are dressy sweat pants. Honestly, I have no idea what these would be suitable for. They don’t look great even on the super-skinny model, so I can only imagine how they would look at the grocery store or block party on a normal woman who could lose a few pounds. WHY?

pinstripe jacket4. Pinstripe boyfriend jacket with bejeweled cuffs - Okay, this is actually a terrific-looking jacket, except that it has three-quarter length sleeves, which I despise. Long, clean lines, sharply cut lapels and it comes at least mid-thigh on a tall woman. But…they took the cuffs on those unfortunate three-quarter length sleeves and they embellished them with “stones.” Yes, those fake gemstones in varying sizes. They are all clear (thank goodness), but still. The entire cuff, all the way around. Plus, this jacket says it is machine washable. Have you ever washed anything bedazzled with fake gemstones? Invariably, a percentage ends up popping off, never to be retrieved or reglued. This jacket needed no embellishment. It would only work on someone tall and thin, in any case, but without the fake gemstones I would have been tempted. Not now. Why embellish something that needs no embellishment? And again, where would you wear it? Too casual for formal, too formal for casual. I am baffled. And guess what? I searched their website for this jacket? Nowhere to be found! (gimme a suspenseful “meow-meow-meow…”)

shimmer jeggingsI won’t even begin a diatribe on shimmer jeggings, although those are in this catalog too. Along with a very loosely-crocheted mid-thigh sweater shawl with feathery bits hanging, inexplicably, from the hem. And black polyester skinny pants with a three-inch zipper at the ankle.

Perhaps they thought to appeal to a younger demographic? Or that women don’t actually need to dress professionally anymore? I have no idea. But whatever they passed out at the committee meeting where this line was approved, I want some. It must be gooood stuff. I can only hope that, for spring, they lay off the peyote and create something I could actually consider purchasing and wearing.

So…have you witnessed any unfortunate fashion trends lately? Been converted to something you thought you despised (like shimmer jeggings)? Been unable to find a favorite you’ve searched for because no one makes it anymore? Please share your fashion adventures! I’ll be over here searching for that pinstripe jacket. Maybe I could pry off all the fake gemstones…

There’s Got To Be a Morning After…

country-breakfast-specialAnd if you think this blog post is about hangovers, you are CORRECT! You win a large, very cold glass of water and two regular aspirin, followed by a breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits, hashbrowns and bacon (my favorite hangover cure). Actually, I prefer country ham, but you can’t always get that at your local greasy spoon. Oh, and you really need a side of grits to soak up the alcohol in your stomach, if you can get them.

family, vacation and conference 2008 050So, why the focus on hangovers today? Well, lest we forget, SOME Banditas (and Buddies) spent last night at RWA’s RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony. This is, invariably, followed by far too many parties and drinks at various bars. Lots of talking, laughing, consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts, all following several DAYS of way too much talking, laughing and consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts. It makes for a VERY rude awakening on Sunday, as any of us who have attended an RWA conference can tell you. So, today, let’s dish about the “morning after.” (And yes, that is the GR having a bit of wine at conference in the photo!)

AA034183Some of my most memorable morning after memories happened in my first two years of college. I had lots and lots and way too much fun my first two years of college. I drank more in those two years than I probably have in the rest of my life, danced more than I have any time since then and kissed more frogs than any respectable princess would own up to. Man, did I have a great time! (Not that I would recommend that to anyone else, mind you.)

article_hangoverAll that to say, I have had my share of hangovers in my lifetime. Nothing ever makes them easier to face. I think, though, if you’ve abused your body with too little sleep and too much booze, your throat hurts from talking/laughing and your feet still ache from dancing in high heels all night, you deserve a really great breakfast. Or whatever else might make you feel vaguely human. Your choice!

coffee cureSo what’s your favorite hangover breakfast? Or are you a black coffee and aspirin devotee? Kale smoothie or other vitamin cure, anyone? Or are you a teetotaler who has never share the agony of the morning after blues? Dish ‘em up, ’cause we’ve got some people lounging around the Lair who could use some advice!

A Kurt-trospective Journey

Friday was Independence Day here in the USA. We generally don’t do much to celebrate besides take in a fireworks display if the kids are around. This year, no kids. This year, I decided to take the day off and indulge myself. I spent the entire day feasting my eyes on my main man. The man my husband rather resembles and after whom I have pined since I was a little girl. That man, as many of you know, is my beloved Kurt Russell.

8th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards Ceremony - ArrivalsKurt isn’t for everyone and neither is his filmography. I readily admit that I completely missed his “Disney kid actor” days. I didn’t see any of his child movies, not even The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And I don’t recall seeing him on reruns of High Chapparal, Gunsmorke or Gilligan’s Island, either. But I vividly recall the Kurt of the 80s and 90s. THAT was my Kurt. Even into this millennium, Kurt has gotten to me. Here were my retrospective movies, along with some helpful (or harmful) critiques, in the order I watched them:

bigtrouble_4001. Big Trouble In Little China – Kurt has a very macho, swaggery style when he’s hamming it up. He never played that character bigger or better than as Jack Burton in 1986′s Big Trouble In Little China. This movie has San Francisco’s China Town, lots of martial arts, Chinese black magic, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, and lots of Chinese hells. There are even a couple of very paranormalish monsters, in grand 80s tradition. AND it also stars Kim Cattrall, in what was probably her greatest role before she became Samantha on Sex and the City. Great stuff!

2. The Best of Times - This movie (also 1986) is a big, corny satire with tons of heart. It also stars Robin Williams, who got to do all the things he does best in this film. My darling Kurt plays Reno Hightower, who was a promising local football hero until that fateful game against Bakersfield in 1972. The one Robin Williams lost for the town and the one he is trying to get Reno to play again. Extra fun!

kurt-and-goldie-overboard3. Overboard – I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of Kurt’s main squeeze (of the last 30 years), Goldie Hawn. But Goldie was great in this underrated comic gem from 1987. It has a premise that’s hard to defend – man claims rich woman with amnesia is his wife and takes her home to help with his 4 sons and pay off money she owes him – but it’s a really cute, fun movie in any case. Plus, she was an incredibly unlikable horror at the beginning of the movie and a wonderful, loving person at the end. Aw!

4. Captain Ron – Okay, here’s where I got my movies way out of order. I thought this one must have preceded the next two, so I watched it after Overboard, which was chronologically very wrong. This one came out in 1992, but you can only sort-of tell that it’s no longer the 80s, given the hair and fashions of the times. Also stars Martin Short (a hit or miss with me) and Mary Kay Place (whom I adore!). This is one of those madcap caper type movies that is enjoyable once in a blue moon. I’ve had my fill for now.

1746-25. Tango & Cash – This film from 1989 is just something that seriously should never have happened. The plot was ludicrous (two LA police detectives are framed for drug dealing and thrown into prison, from whence they plot an escape) and the dialogue was atrocious. The worst thing was, Sylvester Stallone (Tango) co-starred and was supposed to the the smart one! Which they accomplished by making him wear eyeglasses. What?!? I have no idea who thought that was a great idea. Fun, but only to make fun of. Even seeing their naked butts in the prison shower scene didn’t make this okay.

backdraft6. BackdraftThis 1991 film is probably the best movie Kurt has made so far. It is a heart-wrenching tale of love, fire and loss. Kurt is firefighter Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey, whose little brother Brian (William Baldwin) has just joined the force and is assigned to the station where he’s lieutenant. It’s a great movie about brothers, family and the love that so many firefighters and arsonists share for fire. Great stuff.

episodes_movie7. Stargate – This is my personal favorite of Kurt’s films. Well, it’s tied with #1 on my list, but I think it’s my favorite right now. I adore this science fiction/speculative fiction tale of humans re-establishing contact with the aliens who visited us thousands of years ago. When they figure out the goal was to use humans as slaves to mine a valuable mineral on a planet on the far side of the solar system, things get ugly for Kurt’s Colonel Jack O’Neil, who was suicidal before being called back to active duty for this mission due to the accidental shooting death of his young son. It also stars a young and very cute James Spader as the translator for the ancient Greek heiroglyphs. If you don’t recall how cute James was back in the day, you need to watch this movie!

I don’t regret spending tLis_forever_kurt_russellhe entirety of my July 4th with Kurt. I got to see him fight for truth, justice and the American way, all the way from Chinatown to outer space. And seriously, before he started showing his age (and the ravages of years of smoking) like he does these days, he was the most gorgeous thing ever!

So tell me, who do you love enough that you would spend an entire day watching SEVEN of his/her movies? I’d love to know your favorite of your favorite’s movies AND their biggest dud. TANGO & CASH. I’m just saying…

An Interview with Caren Crane!

Caren, here, to interview…er…myself. For your pleasure, of course! Here are some scintillating facts about me that you can use to amuse yourself. Especially if you see me in a bar somewhere, say, at a conference or convention! If I’ve had enough of my favorite beverages, I will gladly cop to any of the following:

So, Caren, tell us. What drink does Sven bring you when you’re hiding in the cave?
First of all, Caren, I never hide in the cave, I simply use it as a handy retreat from the cold, cruel world. That said, before noon, Sven brings coffee and water. After noon, it’s all vodka tonics with two olives. And water. Always water.

Water…riiight. And, when you’re not in your cave, where in the Lair do you hang out the most?
Please, everyone knows if I’m not in my cave, then I’m in the library, of course! (Never believe Anna C. if she says I hang out in the kitchen. That is a lie. A lie, I say!!) It’s a little-known fact that I worked at the library at my college. I would have preferred shelving books, but they put me on the circulation desk. It was a really fun job and I got to make the “closing” announcements. I got some odd looks after some of my announcements, which were always designed to amuse me, naturally.

Naturally. So, Caren, let’s dish. What’s the hardest thing about writing? What’s the most rewarding?
The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and actually doing it. It’s much more fun to think about writing and talk about writing and write about writing than it is to actually write. Writing is hard! The most rewarding thing is someone posting or e-mailing that they loved my book or it touched them in some way. I love that!

You would. I’m sure our readers are just LONGING to know (as if it isn’t perfectly obvious from all your books), who do you enjoy writing more — hero or heroine?
I always greatly prefer heroines. Women are far more interesting than men, always. Men are such simple creatures, with fewer layers than women. Women are intricately-woven personalities. Very complex people with complex relationships. Men have little tolerance for complexity in relationships. They like things simple. I find simple simply boring. Women are fun to write!
I know you often get distracted when researching. Squirrel! What is the most interesting fact or research you have discovered so far?
That’s an easy one. I have no idea what I was researching, but at some point I found out there is a closed mine in Austria where they have converted the mine rails into a sort of roller-coaster, thrill ride. I want to go so badly!!I just have to convince my husband this is an opportunity that is not to be missed!
And, although you claim not to hang out in the kitchen, what’s your favourite Lair snack?
My favorite Lair snack is dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans. They should be banned in all countries! They somehow keep finding their way into my mouth, somehow, though I don’t recall putting them there. I adore them! They should be outlawed!

Lastly, what do you keep in your writing cave to inspire you?
I have two framed prints of the artwork from the cover of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Elizabeth Malczynski was the artist and her work is spectacular. It fueled my imagination as a teenager and still does today! I find her art endlessly inspirational, even though I don’t write fantasy. She’s just that good!

Thus ends our terribly entertaining and enlightening interview with Caren Crane. Caren is shooshing off to update her (badly outdated) website to reflect the June 26 release of her second Cross Springs novel, BABY STEPS. The third Cross Springs novel will be out in late July. No telling when those updates will hit the website! :P

Remember Romance?

Here is a common complaint I hear from women who do not read romance novels: real life just isn’t like that. It’s sad but true that life does not always work out with a happy ending. And yet, sometimes it does. I even know romance writers who are not enjoying a happy-ever-after with their first loves. Some are divorced or widowed. Some have never married. Some are on their second, or third, or fourth marriages. So why would these women want to write about Happy Endings?

love swansI am an optimist by nature. I’ll admit that I enjoy the occasional murderous thriller and, when the mood hits, a dark and unhappy tale. Mostly, though, I like my stories upbeat and humorous, where everyone gets their just desserts in the end. A good romantic book or movie gives me that. When I transitioned from writing straight romance to women’s fiction, the heavy romantic story line was the first thing I dropped. But romance still figures in all my books. It kept getting stronger in each one, as a matter of fact. The hardest book I ever tried to write – and am still trying to finish! – features a married couple with no romance thread at all. Sorry to all the married people (like me!), but after a couple decades of marriage, romance isn’t on top of the agenda. There is still PLENTY going on, but it isn’t too romantic. :D

baby-boomer-couple-at-dinnerBut even if real-life romance doesn’t stay front and center decade after decade, we still enjoy it. I once planned a romantic dinner with my husband on a rare night when we were without children. The waiter figured, wrongly, it must be our anniversary. Which made me realize that we only expect romance a couple of times a year, like on an anniversary or St. Valentine’s Day. Aren’t we selling ourselves short? Shouldn’t we expect romance to surprise us any old time, even if we’re in a committed relationship? Couldn’t any day be as romantic as Valentine’s Day? And if we expected more romance – planned for it, even – might we not find our lives a little sweeter, a bit happier or, at the very least, different?

What do you think? Is romance a requirement or is it just occasional icing on the cake of your life? If you haven’t found your Happy Ending yet, do you expect to someday?

My Love Affair With Time Travel

My name is Caren and I’m a time-travel addict. I heard the murmurs of, “Hi, Caren!” coming from you guys, so don’t be shy if you’re an addict, too. I’ve been reflecting on my love affair with time travel romances lately for a couple of reasons. Really good reasons. Even hunky reasons!

Jamie and ClaireIn case you’ve been living under a large and marketing-impervious rock, you’ve probably heard that Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous Outlander is finally coming to the screen! Of course, it’s the small screen and it’s only on the Starz network, but still. It’s coming to our homes! I fell in love with Outlander when it first came out in hardcover. As a recently-graduated-from-college single mom in 1991, I didn’t buy hardcover books. BUT, I joined the Book Of the Month Club. Some of you may have done that, too. I forgot to send back my postcard or something one month and, before I knew it, Outlander showed up in my mailbox.

outlander-original-cover-jacket-by-diana-gabaldonIt sat around for a few weeks…and then I got bored enough to pick it up. I kind of hated the cover, which featured an ormolu clock whose glass face is in the act of shattering. It made me roll my eyes. But once I cracked the cover and started the tale of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp, I was HOOKED. I read the novels assiduously until about the sixth one, which came out about the time my life got really complicated and I no longer had time to devote to Clan Fraser. I took a hiatus from time travel romance, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.

Last week, a good friend from church asked me if I had read the books. Duh! She then asked if I wanted to come to her series premiere party. Double duh! She had very expensive invitations made to her premiere party that look like wedding invitations. They are printed with the Fraser plaid on back. Swoon! So yes, August 9th is a highly anticipated date by many time travel romance fans!

dd_everything_200x316Then, another interesting thing happened. My friend Dee Davis, who is one of my Red Door Reads buddies, posted a link yesterday to a collection of six time travel romances for 99 cents! WHAT?!? Yes, I snapped it right up. You should, too! As I clicked the evil “Buy now with 1-Click” button, I reflected that all signs seem to be pointing me toward time travel romance once again. My deep, dark secret is, when I first started writing romance, my very first manuscript was a time travel romance. No one was writing those in 2001! I managed to final in Georgia Romance Writers’ prestigious Maggie contest with that one, but was bested by…Sandy Blair! How could I be upset at being bested by the novel that became her first published time travel romance? :D

Have you had a love affair with time travel romance? If so, what books were your gateway drug? If not, what keeps you from indulging? And if you had the chance to travel back in time to be with the super-hot love of your life (Jamie Fraser), would you go? Why or why not? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s time travel experiences! :D

Oh, I Don’t Do That Anymore…

woman-thinkingI’ve been talking with friends quite a bit recently and it’s made me reflect on how I’ve changed in the past couple of decades. I have changed a lot since I graduated from college in 1990, for sure. Even more since having my third child in 1994. And two decades of marriage have brought many, many changes to my relationship with my husband.

free-yourself-feetIf I had to boil the bulk of these changes down, I would fall back on a phrase I picked up in therapy somewhere around 1995: Don’t “should” on yourself. It was a favorite catchphrase of the therapist I was seeing for some situational depression and anger issues. Turns out a lot of my “issues” at the time were caused by my unrealistic expectations for myself. Where did those come from? My head. When the therapist gave me permission to not “should” on myself, I slowly (verrry slowly) began to shift my expectations for everything: my job, my home life, my house, my car, my yard, my cooking, my parenting.

woman juggling_2These days, I do about 1/10th of the things I did 20 years ago in 1994. Yet, it takes all my time to do them. When I think of what I did then, I am amazed. In 1994, I had a newborn, a 1-1/2-yr-old and an 8-year-old. A full-time job as an engineer. A 2,750 sq ft house to clean, sitting on a 1.1-acre yard that needed a ton of yard work. I planted flowers, weeded flowerbeds, cleaned out old pine straw, pine cones and branches and put down fresh mulch. I painted ceramic Santas for the mantel, decorated for all the holidays, changed the decorative flags with each season. Kept everyone fed, clean and clothed (in clean clothes!). Went to parent-teacher conferences, arranged play dates and before- and after-school care, summer camps, ran my son to soccer and Boy Scouts. Did snack duty and den mom assistant duties in rotation. Then I did another 18 years of that times three (and 14 years as a Girl Scout leader). Of course, I didn’t do it alone. My husband was always quite a trooper and helpmeet. (((love)))

messy-house1So when the baby went to college two years ago, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I realized last winter that there were a whole lot of things my husband and I just DON’T DO anymore. Like cooking. We do it seldom and only if we’re “inspired.” We eat a lot of sandwiches and cereal. My house is dusty. Quite dusty. I readily admit that AT THIS MOMENT I have two gorgeous Christmas wreaths sitting on my dining room table because I haven’t made a trip to the office supply store to buy storage boxes. I just DON’T DO a lot of things these days.

vigilante-1The Rose Of Sharon hedge really needs to be cut down again to about half its height. The swimming pool is still firmly covered. The driveway has piles of pine crap on it that have mixed with silt and hardened to a concrete-like consistency. There are fallen tree limbs in our landscaped area that angry villagers could use in a threatening manner in a mob scene. Are my husband and I worried about any of it? Not really. We just don’t do that anymore. :D

How about you? Have anything you’ve just “let go” over the years? Leave all your “shoulds” here with us today. We’ll make sure you don’t “should” on yourself. Plus, hello, Christmas wreaths on the dining room table! I promise, no one will judge you here.


Don’t forget to Join our amazing Facebook Blogiversary Party on May 8th! Also, don’t forget to bid on the 11 awesome Romance Bandits packages up for grabs at the Brenda Novak Auction to benefit juvenile diabetes research!

Coming Attractions – Extra-Awesome MAY Style!

eightEvery month is a big old party here in the Lair, but MAY is especially special? Why, yes, it IS my birthday month! So kind of you to remember that my birthday is MAY 13 and I’m accepting gifts and brunches/lunches/dinners ALL MONTH LONG. :)  Still, we have another Big Event we celebrate each May. Our Romance Bandits Blogiversary! On May 8, we will be having a HUGE blowout of a Facebook party. We’ll spend almost the entire day partying like, well, Banditas and giving stuff away! You guys just have to come by and comment to win swag. We’ll have a huge prize at the end for one lucky winner: a Kindle Paperwhite and e-book prize bundle!! Super fun and easy! Go Like our Facebook page to be sure you don’t miss out!

And in other exciting news:A Rake's Midnight Kiss

Anna Campbell had a great month for contest excitement! Not only did her Sons of Sin books win Favorite Series Of 2013 at the Australian Romance Reader Awards, she received news that A Rake’s  Midnight Kiss has finaled in the historical section of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Awards. Woo hoo! We are all terribly proud of Anna!

LUD_382_LIV_COUV.inddAnna Sugden‘s French language version of A Perfect Distraction was an Amazon bestseller in France and Canada! Wonder why? I don’t think it was just the hockey player theme! :D


Elements-5_5x8_5-100dpi-c8May 3 – Nancy and guest Suzanne Church offer us a change of pace.  Suzanne will discuss her new short story collection, Elements, with maybe a bit of Game of Thrones chat stirred in. (Dragon and knights and speculative fiction, oh my! I can’t wait!)

Back In the Italian's BedMay 5 – Anna Campbell hosts the brilliant Annie West in the Lair! Annie’s going to tell us all about her wonderful new novella Back In the Italian’s Bed, the first in her Hot Italian Nights series! (Nothing about Hot Italians can be anything but awesome!)

UrsulaLeCoeur_TheWillingWidow_1400px (2)[1]May 6 - Debut author Ursula LaCoeur will guest with Donna. Learn how the romance of New Orleans inspired her debut, The Willing Widow. (New Orleans-inspired Victorian suspense should be extra-spicy!)

Osburn_HometoStay_front_cvr_FINALMay 9 – Nancy welcomes Terri Osburn to chat about secrets, secret identities, and her new Anchor Island release, Home to Stay.  Join the party and get the inside info! (Sekrits? We love sekrits!)

Murder At Honeychurch HallMay 12 - Join Kate as she hosts the delightful Hannah Dennison whose wonderful new English countryside mystery series will debut this month, with Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (I’ve met Hannah. You’ll love her!)

DragonLover_w8322_300May 16 - Karilyn Bentley returns with her dragon shifters to chat with Suz about her newest book, Dragon Lover. When opposing dreams collide, will love be the victor? (Ooh, dragons!)

Baby Steps medium cover NookMay 24 – Caren Crane‘s book launch party for Baby Steps, the second book in the Cross Springs series. Don’t miss the extra-fun return to Cross Springs for the heart-tugging story of how Connie Burns, the career-oriented, happily-childless best friend from Kick Start ends up a mommy! (Cutest cover ever!)

Lord Somerton's HeirMay 27 – Anna Campbell hosts Aussie historical romance author Alison Stuart. Alison will be talking about her latest release Lord Somerton’s Heir, a Regency romantic suspense set just after Waterloo. (Waterloo! Couldn’t escape if I wanted to!)


Anna Campbell is giving away three personalized print ARCs of What A Duke Dares, the third Sons of Sin What a Duke Daresnovel out in late August, in her current website contest. Just email her on anna @ (no spaces) and tell her the name of the hero and heroine of What A Duke Dares. You might find the answer here: For more information, please check the contest page on her website:

Hello, awesome May 8 Facebook Bandita Blogiversary party! Don’t miss it or you will feel like the out-of-the-loop kid sitting alone at home who missed the totally rad party when Kat and Bianca’s dad went out of town…or was that from Ten Things I Hate About You? Anyway, Like our page and join the party and win stuff!

Online Auction to benefit Diabetes Research: BrendaNovakForTheCure.orgAlso, the Banditas are offering a crapload of great goody packages (11 of them!) in the Brenda Novak auction to benefit Type 1 diabetes research!  Think you don’t know anyone with Type 1 diabetes? You know me and I’ve had it for 32 years! So check out the auction, bid on stuff and help cure my disease. There, I totally made it personal! You can check out our different packages by clicking the Romance Bandits link on the sidebar of the main auction page! 

Wowza! May is shaping up to be kind of amazing and – potentially – exhausting! So what do you anticipate will be your favorite thing about May in the Lair? I think it’s going to be hard to choose (but I’m totally casting a vote for MY BIRTHDAY)!

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