Posts tagged with: Valentine’s Day

Robin Gianna and Love Around the World

LOVE. AMORE. El AMOR. Such an important word to everyone one the planet, there’s even a special day to celebrate it!

RGiana Several stories exist about how Valentine’s Day came to be, but the most popular goes back thousands of years to Roman times when a certain emperor named Claudius II believed single men made better soldiers and banned marriage. A priest named Valentine defied him by still marrying couples.  After he was thrown in prison, he fell in love with a young woman who visited him. A love note he sent her just before he died became the first ‘Valentine’ (aww!) and in 498 AD, the pope declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day.

Since Valentine’s Day has been around so long, I was curious how many countries in the world actually celebrate it, and how. Here’s what I found out!

THE UNITED STATES: Americans love giving gifts and planning special outings to celebrate Valentine’s Day – it’s big business here! We spend an average of $142 per person, $20 billion dollars, on jewelry, candy, flowers, etc. – all the love that money can buy! 🙂 Some feel it’s all about marketing and guilt, but I believe most who celebrate Valentine’s Day simply enjoy having a reason to show the people they love how important they are. baloons

EUROPE: Valentine’s Day began here, of course, with gifts of chocolates and flowers spreading from Italy and France to other European countries then around the world. Germans aren’t quite as enthused as other countries, but they do have their own unique twist – little ceramic pigs, considered good luck, sometimes hold flowers or clovers, but often are given lying in suggestive poses on a chocolate heart. And large, heart-shaped ginger cookies with very lustful thoughts written on them are quite popular  🙂

vday-cardUK AND AUSTRALIA: Celebrated with a zeal similar to that of Americans, Brits and Australians love to give flowers and other gifts not only to their lovers, but to show affection to friends and family, too. Elaborately designed cards are particularly enjoyed in Australia, a tradition dating back to the gold rush days in Victoria. One interesting difference? 58% of men down under buy Valentine’s cards, but only 41% of Australian women do. I guess those Aussie men have more going for them than just their good looks and adorable accent!

LATIN AMERICA: Many widely diverse countries in this part of the world! In PERU, Valentine’s Day is celebrated on Feb.14, with orchids being the flower of choice to give. BRAZIL’S celebration of love comes on June 12, the eve of St. Anthony’s Day, who is the patron saint of matchmaking and marriage. Single women perform rituals, such as writing then hiding a love note in hopes of finding a good husband, while couples exchange romantic gifts. In MEXICO, The Day of Love and Friendship comes after Christmas, with gifts of balloons, flowers and candy. And ARGENTINIANS spread the love around during ‘Sweetness Week’ and ‘Friendship Day’ in July, where everyone gifts each other with candy and kisses.

CHINA: A traditional Valentine’s Day comes on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month on the Chinese calendar, based on a legend of two stars in lovechocolate-hearts living at opposite ends of the Milky Way galaxy. Gifts aren’t exchanged on this date, but on February 14 they are, as many Chinese now embrace Western culture. One important bit of advice given to Chinese suitors? Don’t give your lover shoes, because it implies that you’re ‘packing off your love.’ I would think shoes as a Valentine’s gift anywhere wouldn’t bode well for that relationship! 🙂

asian-coupleJAPAN: Interestingly, only women give chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and the kind of chocolate given depends on the woman’s relationship with the men they’re gifting. ‘Giri-choco’ literally means ‘obligation chocolate’ and is given to friends, co-workers and relatives. ‘Hon-mei’ chocolate is given to a boyfriend and is often made by hand. I love that hon-mei translates to ‘prospective winner’ and needless to say, a guy is pretty happy when he receives it! Then a month later on March 14, it’s ‘white day,’ when men give women white chocolate, flowers and gifts.

Well, I could go on…and on!…because there are a lot of people and countries in the world, but the Romance Bandits didn’t ask for a dissertation about Valentine’s Day! 😉

How about you? Do you or your family have any special Valentine’s Day traditions? Or if you live in a country I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear howParisCover-190x300 Valentine’s Day is celebrated where you are!

By the way, I have a February release IT HAPPENED IN PARIS…that’s part of a Harlequin Mills & Boon duo called ‘A Valentine to Remember’ and I’d love to give a copy and a tote bag to someone leaving a comment on the blog today.   Any chance there’s a happily ever after on Valentine’s Day inside? 😉

WHAT STARTED WITH A KISS…
Avery Girard might have sworn off men, but she can’t help but get swept away by the beauty, magic and romance of Valentine’s Day in Paris…especially when she ends up spending it with totally irresistible Dr. Jack Dunbar. One little fling can’t hurt, right?

… COULD END WITH FOREVER!
Wrong! After an afternoon of passion, Avery discovers that Jack is actually the cardiologist she is meant to be assessing! Even more worrying, when it comes to Jack, she’s not only dangerously close to losing her professional cool…she’s close to losing her heart.

Valentine’s Day – What’s All the Hubbub?

Once again this year, I watched florists try to make special deliveries of flowers, balloons, chocolates and teddy bears to the completely locked-down building I work in. We have no security guard and an unattended lobby. It’s always fun for those of us who take pity on and end up running interception for the poor delivery drivers, because we get to see who got what and make happy phone calls telling the recipients to come get their goodies. One thing I can always count on, though, is that none of the thwarted deliveries will be for me.

valentines-gift-basketThat doesn’t make me sad, so please don’t feel sorry for me. I find it terribly sweet that other people’s significant others think to send them lovely, expensive tokens to their workplace, so that all their co-workers can see the evidence of their love and devotion. I also believe what Cher’s character Loretta in one of my favorite movies, Moonstruck, says to the florist whose books she is balancing. The florist says to her, about the deep red roses he is carefully packing in a box, “The man who send these really knows what he’s doing.” Loretta says, “The man who sends those spends a lot of money on something that ends up in the garbage.” Amen, Loretta!

Foot-MassagerI truly enjoy Valentine’s Day, but I guess I never really bought the hype. As you guys know by now, I am terribly pragmatic. I would much rather have the carpets cleaned than get an expensive bouquet of flowers. An expression of love? Changing the sheets on the bed. Want to make me swoon? Buy me a foot massager. A really romantic gesture? Cleaning the bathroom spontaneously. Honestly, I would rather my husband took my car to get it detailed than for him to take me out to dinner. For a romance writer, I am not terribly romantic, I suppose. At least not in the way the marketers define it.

Valentines_Day_Chocolates_from_2005One thing my husband and I can both get behind, though, is really good chocolate. Or pretty good chocolate. Or even fair-to-middling chocolate. He prefers his with nuts, I prefer cream centers. We both prefer dark chocolate to milk. But chocolates have a way of showing up at our house on Valentine’s Day. Or sometimes after Valentine’s Day, when they were seriously on sale. We usually (but not always) remember to send cards.

pharmacy greeting cardsThis year, my darling mother and precious children will only get e-cards, I’m afraid, not mailed cards or lovely See’s Chocolates as in years past. A combination of ongoing anemia, with a chills-and-fatigue virus piled on top this week just for giggles, have left me with no energy for card buying. But I will, no doubt, drag myself to the pharmacy today to buy a card and some chocolates for my darling husband. In an act of true love, he went to the grocery store on his way home from work last night and got everything on the grocery list. He also bought me a bottle of wine and a box of sea-salt covered dark chocolate caramels. Is he a Keeper or what?

How do you approach Valentine’s Day? Do you get all jazzed up, with raised expectations and hopes (or plans) for huge romantic gestures? Is anything that turns up a nice surprise? Do you create gorgeous expressions of True Love for the special people in your life? Or do you remember a card (if your lucky) and hope the drugstore or supermarket has a decent selection of chocolates? I will admit, I have done it ALL for Valentine’s Day over the years!

And for all my beloved Banditas and Bandita Buddies, here is a special holiday greeting just for you: happy blogantines day

This Thing Called Love…

Glossy_HeartIt’s February.  Everyone’s focused on that day next week…you know…The Love Day.  Valentines.  Grins.

I love my hubby.  He’s a darling man.  He is both fierce and kind, as well as funny and joyful.  He’s got a core of integrity that is, quite simply, unshakeable.  I not only love him, I respect him, and am in considerable awe of his business acumen.  (I won’t even go into all the *wink, wink* OTHER *wink, wink* reasons I adore him.  Grins.)

That said, I was trying to figure out what the heck to do for the man for Valentines.

He’s kinda impossible to buy for.  He doesn’t wear watches or jewelry.  He doesn’t smoke cigars or drink whiskey.  He’s not a “car guy” or anything of that nature.  He likes golf, but isn’t a “I have to go play golf NOW” kinda guy.  The sports he does play don’t lend themselves to gifts – baseball, basketball, etc.  Grins.

So, having given it some serious pondering, I decided that, as a Valentine’s present to us both, we’d get a baby sitter, and we’d go in March to see Gaelic Storm with some friends.  Thinking about all that and getting tickets to it, led me down memory lane.

Hubby and I started dating not long after I moved to DC.  One of our first dates was a Bonnie Raitt concert.BonnieRaitt-TheBonnieRaittCollectio

I love Bonnie Raitt.  Love her music, love her style, love her sense of the wry and unpredictable.  Love hearing her play the Blues as well as her peppier, happier hits.  Love, love, love.  Do you remember this song? Thing Called Love?  The video for it features a delicously young Dennis Quaid.  Oh, my, fan me now!  Grins.

First time hubby and I danced together was on the grass at the then-Nissan Pavillion outdoor amphitheater (now the idiotically named Jiffy Lube Pavillion) to Thing Called Love at that Bonnie Raitt concert.  That song, and Something to Talk About remain two of my favorite songs of all time.  :>

We both love music and concerts.  We don’t go as often as we like, but we have similar taste, so it’s always been fun to go.  When we moved in together, we had so many CDs in common (and albums, and cassettes, and…yes, we’re that old….) that we ended up selling a ton of the duplicates!  Abba.  The Doors.  Mary Chapin Carpenter.  Black Sabbath.  Crosby Stills Nash and Young.  Neil Young by himself.  Squirrel Nut Zippers.  Allison Krause.  Roy Orbison.  And the aforementioned Bonnie Raitt.

CDsWe diverged some, of course.  He likes some things I don’t and vice versa.  My Eldest and I really like Hip Hop.  Hubby isn’t so fond.  He doesn’t like Country as much as I do.  I don’t like Frank Sinatra as much as he does.

But, like most couples, we’ve introduced one another to music we wouldn’t have otherwise “met.”  For instance, another concert we went to while dating was Eddie From Ohio, also known as EFO.  This is a band that has a HUGE cult following, but has never gone “big” or “mainstream.”  They don’t want to.  (By the way, they are not from Ohio, they’re from Virginia.  And no one in the band is named Eddie…long, funny story there…)

I’d never heard of them.

Now, they are among my absolute favorites, thanks to their snarky, funny songs (Tommy the CanExican, the Vancouver dwelling Mexican), their songs that make you remember being a gawky adolescent (One Thousand Sarah’s), and their rollicking, black-humored songs about getting shot in the head (Tom Burleigh’s Dead)

Then there’s the one about it being a Great Day…   I like Gospel music.  He’s, again, not so fond.  Grins.  This one, however, cracks us BOTH up, and kinda sums up how we feel.CrosbyStillsNashYoungCSNY-1

Another great concert we went to together was not long after we were married.  I was about 7 months pregnant with Eldest Son.  We went to a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert. It was a Reunion Tour kind of thing.  It didn’t matter that Graham Nash had lost a bit of the high register, and Neil Young was a bit surly, it was one of the most rockin’ fun, fabulous concerts I’d ever been to.  I love so many of their songs, and to see them together again?  OMGosh.

I’d been waaaaay too young to see a concert when they were in their prime, but since I have older sibs, I knew the music very well.  One of the funniest things was that Eldest Son was loving the concert too.  Grins.  He was bouncing around in there, keeping time to the music.

Then Neil Young sang solo.  It was as if he stopped in either awe or puzzlement, because every time Neil Young sang, the baby would stop moving.  When Neil Young was done, and another song would start, he’d start rockin’ and rollin’ again.  Grins.  Cracked us up.  (And Eldest has grown into a big music fan, so…)

SweenyTogether Hubby and I saw Bruce Springsteen, The National Symphony Orchestra, Man of La Mancha, Sweeney Todd (bwahahah), and Boys II Men and so many, many more.  We saw concerts and plays and symphonies.

With the kids growing up, sports is much more prominent in our weekends and free time these days, but music is on in some form or another in our house, every day.  Music is one of those things that we love and share and have around us to make us happy.

Just like my relationship with my darling husband, I’ve loved sharing so many things with my most excellent Bandits and Buddies.  Music.  Puns.  Laughs.  Tears.   some of the funniest, most delightful times over the last eight years have been hanging out with y’all.  I credit Caren with introducing me to Skillet and so many other great bands.  Helen reminded me how much I enjoy Rod Stewart.  Some of the comments on blogs about music have introduced me to FABULOUS artists from around the world.  (Thanks, Minna!)

As so many things with the Bandits, it’s brought me a great deal of happiness, learning, experiencing, and joy.birchmere_entrance

So, do you and your significant other, or BFF share a special song?

What’s your favorite kind of music?

When it comes to music, what’s your favorite decade?

What song would you use to describe the Bandits?  (I think this one might do… Ha!   or perhaps this one… Snork! )

Okay…have to ask….do you like Hip Hop?

Grins!  Let’s DANCE!!!

(Photos are either from my personal collection or from Yahoo Images or free clipart)

 

 

Another Type of Valentine Love

It started at a traffic light.

Naw….not “true love”. Nope, Prince Charming hasn’t found me yet, so I doubt he’d find his way to a cross walk 😀

I’m talking about the idea for this post. I watched a young, visually impaired young lady traverse the busy street with her guide dog. Sure, I’ve seen lots and lots of animals helping out those with difficulties (heck, even saw a GREAT DANE a few days later) but it reminded me not only of the love so many of us hold for animals, but the special bond…the love and devotion these guardians have with their helpers.dogs

So the seeing eye dog has been around a long time. Dogs trained to guide their peeps around daily life. All with commands and the help of a working harness. I know the rule is not to pet or talk to the dog like…um…a dog while they are on duty but man I just want to ruff their little faces and say “good job!”

Service animals have expanded SO much. There are now dogs trained to alert deaf people to sounds such as smoke alarms, doorbells etc. Therapy animals who help with detection of illness crisis i.e. imminent seizures or sugar drops. The role of animals has blossomed in the treatment and healing of thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD and children with autism. Autism results for some have provided increased focus, socialization and general increase in contentment.

Common dog breeds according to the Google are Golden Retrievers, Collie, Labrador, German Shepherd though most sites emphasized it was more temperament than breed that led to a helper dog. A main key is training from a young age.

cat autism

And it’s not only dogs, thankyouverymuch, but many cats have proved to be there for us when we need them. While there is some debate about the trainability of cats for specific efforts (Grayson! Did you just snicker at the word “training”? Hmmm?) there is no doubt that they are attuned to their guardians and their needs. Numerous instances are cited of behavior change when somebody is about to have a seizure etc. Their purring is known to lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol levels, anxiety.

The kittehs. They know. Last August I took a spill at work, slammed my head on concrete, gashed my forehead. I was allright…even drove myself home but I didn’t need to feel alone. Once I settled in my chair I immediately had Grayson on my CHEST staring over his shoulder at me and Cricket about an inch from my face. I’m still working on teaching them to call 911 if I ever need it (they keep licking the tuna off the numbers) but it was very soothing for me and mitigated the effects of the concussion I convinced the doctors I didn’t have 😀

So dogs and cats and also miniature horses who fall under the same ADA guidelines as service dogs (they pull wheelchairs) are geared to give us a hand. Oh! And monkeys! Capuchin monkeys are being trained to help quadriplegics. pony

So this Valentine’s Day love the one you’re with and love the one who is there for you–kibble and all.

What about you? Do you have a service animal that helps you out? Know somebody who does? How does your pet help you in life? (Anybody got a Husky helping them out in the snow?)

valentine kitty

Chocoholics Unite!

Lindt2

Valentine’s Day is coming up, so of course it’s time to talk about chocolate. 🙂

If you don’t like chocolate (unnatural person!) this blog really isn’t for you. Just stick your fingers in your ears and say lalala for a while. We can debate the finer points of potato chips some other time.

Lindt 1

First, we have to cover what kind of chocolate we like. I’m a milk chocolate chick all the way, with occasional forays into white chocolate if I’m in the mood. Dark chocolate often tastes like soap to me for some reason, although of course it’s supposed to be better for you than milk or white.

fountain

Now we come to specifics. If I do say so myself, I am something of a chocolate connoisseur. I am choosey when it comes to chocolate and I must say that over the years, my tastes have changed somewhat.

For sheer indulgence, I can’t go past Lindt chocolate pralines, specifically a chocolate that has a peculiar name of gianduja. It’s creamy, nutty and chocolatey all at the same time. To die for!

ScorchedLindt used to be the kind of chocolate you could only buy in department stores in Sydney and Melbourne. When I was a child my father would bring back Lindt assortments when he went on business trips.

Now, you can get Lindt in supermarkets in Australia and I must say the ready availability of it has meant that it’s not quite so special any more. Although I recently discovered Lindt hot chocolate, which is a true guilty pleasure for me. It’s so rich, I only have it very occasionally.

I love almonds or hazelnuts in chocolate, so scorched almonds (roasted almonds covered in chocolate) or Ferrero Rochers are right up my alley, as is Nutella. Let it not be said I’m a chocolate snob! I have been known to snack on a Snickers bar, to crave a Kit-Kat, to munch a Mars.

CR

I do NOT like soft centres (other than caramel) or mint of any kind with chocolate. After dinner mints get two strikes–one, they are dark chocolate, two, they are filled with soft peppermint. Blech.

I also say no to orange flavoured chocolate or *heaven forbid* sultanas, raisins or any other kind of dried fruit (Death to Cherry Ripe!)*. Wafers, peanut brittle, liqueur chocolates… yes please! Unless they are the liqueur chocs with the cherry brandy that tastes like cough medicine. Then, I’ll pass.

What about you? Are you a devotee of the cocoa bean? What is your favourite type of chocolate? What chocolate do you loathe and despise?

*A chocolate bar filled with coconut and glace cherries.

February’s Dark Promises

snowy-dayAs we know from yesterday’s amazing Coming Attractions post, it is now officially February. I’ll admit I have some seriously conflicted views of this short, endless month. My view has changed since I was a little girl, but not to any appreciable degree. So here are my major points about February. Please feel free to pile on:

snowy-night-wallpaper1. Endless Nights – Here in North America, even at the middling latitude North Carolina enjoys, the nights in February are loooong and daaaark. And this year, especially, cooooold. I hate that it is dark when I get home from work and, once inside, I never want to leave the house. I also might be part bear, because I generally want to go to bed around 8:30 pm and stay there until long after the alarm at 5:45 am. Somehow, magically, once it’s March I notice the days have become astonishingly longer and there is much more evening than, say, the last day in February. I have no idea how that happens, but it is a thing. For real, though!

winter sunshine2. Thin Sunshine – Okay, the sun does shine in North Carolina an egregious amount of the time. Even in February. Still, it’s a thin, watery sort of sunshine that is so puny it barely penetrates the gray haze of my February Funk. Yes, it has a name. Try it on for size, you’ll like it. “Got the February Funk. This sunshine isn’t cutting it, man!” I need some real sunshine which, again, March will provide. I don’t know why, but the divide between February and March is sharp and thick and tangible. Like the Berlin Wall. I’d love to tear that mother down! Where is U2 with a protest song about Febrile February Sunshine? Bono could totally rock that.

Valentines_Day_Chocolates_from_20053. Valentine’s Day – I know, I know. We’re romance writers, so we should adore a day that celebrates love, right? Right?!? *sigh* I am terribly conflicted about Valentine’s Day. I love to show my love to my family and gift them with funny/mushy/sweet cards and tasty confections, but neither my husband nor I are really sold on it. We love each other every day and try not to take it for granted, so spending money on this holiday (in February!) seems a bit shallow and forced. We do it, but it’s not really a big thing. Also, while I Love (with a capital L) chocolates with cream centers, my husband never remembers that. And if he does, he usually can’t find them at the one drugstore he stops into at the last minute on his way home from work. Seriously, this is a thing every year. Some men would overcome this or plan for it, but not my man. He is incredibly good at so many things, but remembering to get chocolates I love to celebrate a Hallmark holiday ain’t one of them.

Augustus Caesar4. Brevity – On a happy note, February is short. Whoever mapped out the Gregorian calendar gets extra snaps for that one. Actually it was and Italian doctor, astronomer and philosopher named Luigi Lilio (I totally looked that up on Wikipedia). Really, though, that was just a revision of the old Julian calendar, which was designed by an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes. So, high five, Sosigenes! Way to maintain the brevity of February, Luigi! Of course, it’s commonly held that we owe the short month to Augustus Caesar. He was jealous that Julius Caesar’s month (July) had 31 days and his (August) only had 29. So he totally pinched two days off February! Smooth move, Augustus. Totally set it up for March to come in like lion! That seems Roman-like to me. 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00036]Besides brevity, February has little to recommend itself, in my (stubbornly held) opinion. Long nights are great for reading books, though, so I am not complaining too loudly. I just finished Susan Sey’s Talent For Trouble and I cannot recommend it highly—or urgentlyenough. It is funny, heart-wrenching and incredibly satisfying. I’m just whining now, but I have been sick for about a month with the most annoying series of colds and viruses imaginable. When the latest one hit (Thursday), I felt very sorry for myself. (Plus, if you’re a Facebook friend, you may have seen the cat stuck in a tree trauma. Ack!) So yesterday, feverish and miserable, I treated myself to Susan’s book. Gobbled it up. It was delicious and delightful and made me crave both toast and pizza! (Which I totally ate.) I was so sad when it ended, because I wanted more, more, more! Y’all, Talent For Trouble was the best thing to happen to me in February in a looooong time. Do yourself a favor and gobble it up!

So, are you as conflicted about February as I am? Is it a bone-chillingly cold or insanely hot month for you? Tell me your least favorite—or most!—about this long, dark month of the soul. I will eat chocolate in your honor. 😀

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines_SeesAhh, feel that?  That tingling feeling?  Thats love.  It’s in the air today, thanks to Valentine’s.  

I love Valentine’s.  Not just for the romancey goodness, although that does rock. But because it’s one of those crafty, show you care kind of days. From those sweet kindergarten days when we pasted lopsided doilies on red card stock and glued gilt cupids to the center of a heart, to the epically bad love poems written in middle school to boys we were too afraid to talk to directly (c’mon, was I the only one who did that?) to the excitement of champagne and val toastcandlelight possibilities as we grow older… Valentines is romance, yes.  But it’s also fun.  

At least, it is for us ladies *g*  For guys, I think this day comes with more pressure than birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas all rolled into one. Because while roses or a heart-shaped box of chocolates are traditional, oftentimes we women (while gobbling down the candy) will sigh over how unimaginative or the idea might be.  Because while we want to feel loved, we also want to feel like our guy KNOWS us.  GETS us.  That he put some effort into romancing us!!  Then again, I’ll admit, there are years I’m just grateful my guy remembers the date LOL.  

But for our romance heroes, the pressure really is on.  Because they were hot enough, romantic enough, special enough to star in a book–not just any book, baby, but a ROMANCE novel!  That means they have to step up and be romantic on Valentines’s Day.  

Luckily, our guys are up for the task… 

A SEAL's Seduction cover

My own Blake Landon, from A SEAL’s SEDUCTION, actually would give his Alexia chocolate.  Not for traditions’ sake, but because she seriously LOVES chocolate.  He’d start with a deluxe heart shaped box of hand-picked See’s (all her favorites with almonds and caramels), then while she was humming in appreciation, he’d show her the tin of her favorite hot chocolate made from Belgium shavings.  As she was sighing at his sweetness, he’d whip out a jar of very rich, very decadent hot fudge.  Then he’d suggest they set the candy and cocoa aside, heat up the fudge and go make a very special snack…

 

renegade_final

Nancy Northcott’s Griff from RENEGADE would give Val a painting of her parents, who were killed by ghouls when she was a teenager.

a3Peril in Paperpack - NYT newest 6-6-12

Kate Carlisle’s DEREK STONE would give BROOKLYN WAINWRIGHT a packet of beautiful endpapers he picked up on a business trip to Japan. That’s the official gift. His unofficial gift would be food, of course. Steak. Red wine. Chocolate for dessert.  (Come to think of it, that’s Kate’s favorite gift, too. 🙂 )

 Anna Sugden’s Jake would give Maggie from A PERFECT DISTRACTION (out Sept 2013) a mixed bouquet of real daisies and chocolate daisies, because that worked so well when he had to apologise for being a jerk *g*. He has a game on Valentine’s night, so they won’t be able to have a private celebration until really late.

 

the-patrician-150

Joan Kayse’s Damon would give his heroine Julia a book by a famed Roman poet Catulluss, poems of love and longing. However…. beneath the scroll page would be his real gift…a copy of the Art of Seduction by Ovid.

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Suzanne Ferrell’s Matt Edgars would give Katie Myers  (hero and heroine from HUNTED) a boxer puppy.

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Christie Kelley’s Colin Barrett, the Duke of Northrop would give Selina White from BEWITCHING THE DUKE, a beautiful pair of diamond earrings because he’s discovered she has an obsession for earbobs.

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And from Donna  MacMeans’ THE CASANOVA CODE had it taken place in February 🙂 :  Besides being a code-breaker, Edwina Hargrove is a closet adventurer.

a2Casanova Code

     A gift!  Ashton had brought her a gift for St. Valentine’s day!  No one had ever done such a thing, at least, not for her.  She opened the box tentatively, savoring the moment, then lifted a heavy glass globe set upon a wooden pedestal.

   “It’s from the Paris Exposition,” he said.  “Shake it and snow will reign down upon the Eiffel Tower.”

    “It’s beautiful,” she whispered, though she couldn’t really see the snowflakes for the tears in her eyes.  No one had acknowledged her desire for travel before.  “I will cherish it always.”

    He smiled then cocked his head.  His finger delicately traced the moisture on her cheek.  “As I, dear Edwina, will you.”

 

 Awww, aren’t our heroes romantic!?  And aren’t our heroines lucky to have such fabulous Valentine’s gifts on this special day dedicated to celebrating love.   

val flowers

Share with us what your ideal Valentine’s gift would be to be entered in the drawing for this wonderfully romantic collection of Valentine’s treats. 

  • A SEAL’s Seduction
  • ARC of Renegade
  • The Casanova Code
  • Cadbury’s chocolate
  • ecopy of Bewitching the Duke

 

Bandit Booty x 2!

With many abject apologies to all for my tardiness, I have two lots of winners to announce.

The first is from our Valentine’s Day celebration.

May Pau!!!

You have won:

Redeeming the Rogue

Sex Lies and Valentines

Silver tone chiming heart in a red pouch

Mad about the Earl

Deadly Little Secrets

Kisses wineglass

And from Manda Collins..

Laurie G!

You are the lucky winner of HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE and a coverflat of HOW TO ROMANCE A RAKE!

Winners, please email me at christina AT christina-brooke DOT com to claim your prize!

V-Day is D-Day (Declaration of Love Day, that is!)

The Romance Bandits have come over all romantic! Forget the hearts and candy. Today, we celebrate true romance: declarations of luurrrvv in romance novels and movies.

We’ve put together some of our favourite quotes (with editorial in some cases) and we’re giving away a wonderful collection of prizes to someone who contributes their own quote.

We’re giving away:

Redeeming the Rogue
Sex Lies and Valentines
Silver tone chiming heart in a red pouch
Mad about the Earl
Deadly Little Secrets
Kisses wineglass

So let’s start with one of everyone’s favourites, this one from Caren aka PoshT (who first read ‘The Princess Bride’ in about 1979)

“I love you,’ Buttercup said. ‘I know this must come as something of a surprise to you, since all I’ve ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more. I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any woman has ever loved a man, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm. Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn’t matter.’ Buttercup still could not look at him. The sun was rising behind her now; she could feel the heat on her back, and it gave her courage. ‘I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. I love you so much more now then when you opened your hovel door, there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey. Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring a bottle back for your lunch. Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. I know I cannot compete with the Countess in skills or wisdom or appeal, and I saw the way she looked at you. And I saw the way you looked at her. But remember, please, that she is old and has other interests, while I am seventeen and for me there is only you. Dearest Westley–I’ve never called you that before, have I?–Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley, Westley,–darling Westley, adored Westley, sweet perfect Westley, whisper that I have a chance to win your love.’ And with that, she dared the bravest thing she’d ever done; she looked right into his eyes.”

And Westley to Buttercup: “I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen. Every time you said ‘Farm Boy do this’ you thought I was answering ‘As you wish’ but that’s only because you were hearing wrong. ‘I love you’ was what it was, but you never heard.”

Bethsays: the rain scene from Pride and Prejudice (2005) where Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) tells Elizabeth (Keira Knightly):

“I love you. Most ardently.”

Of course, before his declaration he’d listed all of her perceived faults and all the reasons he shouldn’t love her so that scene didn’t end well, but it did have a lovely ‘almost’ kiss that amped up the sexual tension 🙂

I love the ending scene, too, where Mr. Darcy says: “If, however, your feelings have changed…I would have to tell you, you have bewitched me body and soul and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

Donna says: I think I fell in love with my husband through our exchange of letters – we lived 300 miles apart until we married. A letter is so personal and intimate and feels more romantic – to me – then an email. Something about handwriting and perfumed stationery. I guess that’s why I included an exchange of letters in my June release, The Casanova Code. Though written by others, these express the sentiments of my hero and heroine.

One of my favorites:

“Dear Miss West Forty-seventh Street between Eighth and Ninth: Am a widower with 10,000 acres in Arizona and seven cows so if you can milk I will be glad to have you give up that tinsel life of debauchery and sin and come out to God’s country where we go purple sage.

P.S. Can you bring a little sin and debauchery along? You can get too much purple sage but you can only get just enough sin.”

John Steinbeck, American writer to Elaine Scott, who became his third wife. June 1949
From Passionate Love Letters compiled by Michelle Lovric, Shooting Star Press Inc. 1996

Jo says: “Time flieth, ’tis said, but when I am afar from thee, he flieth with a wounded feather.” — Jerry Sober

From Kate:

“I love you,” he whispered. “I love you so, my darling.”
–Colin Byrne to Sugar Beth Carey (Susan Elizabeth Phillips, AIN’T SHE SWEET?)

“I love you. Now stay out of the way, for God’s sake.”
–Derek Stone to Brooklyn Wainwright (Kate Carlisle, MURDER UNDER COVER)

“I like your style, Lieutenant Dallas,” he said when they’d fought their way to the car. “I like it a lot. And by the way, I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore. I know I am.”
–Roarke to Eve Dallas (J.D. Robb, NAKED IN DEATH)

Anna Sugden says: The final scene from You’ve Got Mail – though you have to go back to this bit to make the ending really worthwhile .

Oh and then there’s the final scene of Bridget Jones – not an I love you as such – but so worth a view . Of course the best part really, is this … “I like you very much … just as you are.”
Happy sigh

Susan:
Mr. Knightley: Emma! You want our friendship to remain the same as it has always been, but
I cannot desire that.

Emma (under the impression he’s about to marry her best friend, and devastated over it):
But why? I know I make mistakes, but had you been here the last few days you would have seen how I have tried to change! Please tell me I am your friend.

Mr. Knightley: I do not wish to call you my friend, because I hoped to call you something infinitely more dear. [insert Susan’s happy sigh here] Did you never wonder why I never befriended Frank Churchill? It was because I knew he was intended for you. And I couldn’t bear to see it, so I went away, but I went to the wrong place. My brother’s house is usually a place of comfort to me, but seeing your sister there [Susan’s note: Mr. Knightley’s brother is married to Emma’s sister] kept you fresh in my mind. And the torture, I assure you, was acute. I only felt hope again when I heard of Mr Churchill’s engagement [to somebody else], and I rushed back, anxious for your feelings, keen to be near you. I rode through the rain, but I’d ride through worse if I could just hear your voice telling me that I might at least have some chance to win you.

Emma, wonderingly, breathless: Mr Knightley, if I have not spoken, it is because I am afraid I will awaken myself from this dream! It cannot be true! But I feel so full of error, so mistaken in my make-up to deserve you!

Mr. Knightley: What of my flaws? I’ve humbled you, and I’ve lectured you and you have
borne it as no one could have born it. Maybe it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another. Marry me? Oh, marry me, my wonderful, darling friend! [cue Susan’s copious weeping]

Suzanne:
From French Kiss:
The last airplane scene
Luc: “Kate, I want you…”
Kate: “You want me to?”
Luc: eyes shining bright with unshed tears, “That is all. I just want you.”

Trish:
One of my favorite movies is 10 Things I Hate About You with Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger. At one point in the movie, they are not speaking after she finds out that he initially asked her out on a date for money. But what she doesn’t know is that he really fell for her. One of their class assignments is to write a poem, and Kat (Julia Stiles) gets up and reads the poem below, expressing how she feels. After she’s finished, she runs out of the classroom crying. When she goes out to her car after school, Patrick (Heath Ledger) has left a guitar she really wanted in her car, showing how he feels for her, and they kiss.

“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.”

From Jeanne A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotsen

“…If I had not been assured that you were already in the Kush were you absolutely belong because it is full of stones and ice, I would never have come back,” she finished – and burst into tears.
“Don’t, Anna! Ah, don’t my darling,” said Rupert. He pushed back his chair, removed, with ineffable tenderness, her basket of rolls and , quite impervious to the assembled company, gathered her into his arms. “Only, you see, I saw you in the garden with the prince. You were hanging from his arms like…” He broke off, even now racked by the memory.
“A dishcloth?” suggested Anna
“What?”
Anna, her career in service abandoned, was now ready to converse. “In La Fille Mal Gardee which is a most beautiful ballet, she hangs exactly in this way from the shoulder of the hero, very soft and limp, you know, like a dishcloth, and at the same time she does little battements with her feet. It is in Act Three and is very moving; you will like it very much.”
“Shall I, my love?” said Rupert, dabbing gently at her eyes and nose.

And one of my favorites, from THE GRAND SOPHY
“Charles!” uttered Sophy, shocked. “You cannot love me!”
Charles pulled the door to behind them, and in a very rough fashion jerked her into his arms, and kissed her. “I don’t. I dislike you excessively!”

So, what about you? We’re looking forward to hearing your favourite lovey dovey bits!

We’ll leave you with another clip, this time from Jerry Maguire, courtesy Anna Sugden:

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!! It’s a day for Wacky Sappy Love Poems, and a visit from the HEART!

by Jeanne Adams

Hi everyone! Happy Valentine’s DAY!!!!! Today, we’re going to have a TON of fun, and learn some things too.

Oh, and did I mention prizes and prezzies? Grins.

We’ll have those too. Make sure you get your pencil sharpened and your mind in gear, because it’s WACKY SAPPY LOVE POEM DAY! (there are some terms and conditions for winning, so you have to wait for the next bit to see how to play….)

As most of you know, it’s alllll about the HEART around the Lair. Broken hearts are mended, singed ones (watch out for Ermingarde!) are healed, and there’s always a happily-ever-after in our favorite romance novels and in the Lair.

That’s what happens when you’re a Romance Bandit or Bandit Buddy! Grins.

But in “real life” hearts are not always hurt by love, bad boys, rakes, dangerous dames or rambling roues.

Sometimes, it’s genetics. Or maybe in some cases, it’s our lifestyles that do damage to our hearts.

Here to talk to us today about HEARTS and heart health is Dr. RoseMarie Robertson, Chief Science Officer for the American Heart Association!

WELCOME, Dr. Robertson! (Dr. Robertson will be joining us LIVE at 11 a.m. ET, USA, to answer YOUR questions!)

I first heard Dr. Robertson speak at RWA National last year. And her advice and information about women and heart health bowled me over. There were so MANY things I didn’t know about heart disease.

For instance, did you know, heart disease – NOT breast cancer! – is the NUMBER ONE killer for women, at any age? Oh. My. Goodness! I certainly didn’t know that! And did you know that women’s symptoms are totally different than men’s?

None of that sterotypical chest-clutching for the ladies, thank you very much. It’s more about dragging fatigue and upper abdominal indigestion.

Subtle, just like most of us ladies prefer – but dangerously subtle in this case, right, Dr. R?

Dr. R – That’s right, Jeanne. Most heart attacks are NOT what you see in the movies! They’re usually not so painful that you fall to your knees, clutching your chest. They’re quite often “pain you feel you could put up with” – especially if, like many women, you’ve had other episodes of pain that eventually went away and didn’t do you harm – like severe cramps or even childbirth.

But both men and women most often have typical sypmtoms. Those include: discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, tightness or pain. It can also involve one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or abdomen. Shortness of breath is also a symptom, with or without chest discomfort. Other signs – some of them the subtle things you referenced – are breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.

As many as 1 in 4 heart attacks may occur withouth ANY pain, especially in patients with diabetes or older people. Since women, on average, have their heart attacks at an older age, as I mentioned, the’re more likely to have one of these “painless” heart attacks, with just unexplained shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness or a cold sweat. Or even just unusual and sudden fatigue.

But these can happen in younger individuals too, so don’t ignore these symptoms!!! The big difference is that the symptoms of a heart attack tell you that you’re losing heart muscle every minute they go on. They mean “CALL 911! NOW!!”

Dr. Robertson, isn’t it true that women are more likely to die from their first heart attack? Why is that?

Dr. R – Over the past decade we’ve done better in preventing or delaying heart attacks, and both women and men who have them have a much better chance of surviving, especially if they get to the hospital early so we can stop it in its tracks. However, if you look at all the deaths that occur over the year after a first heart attack, it’s true that women are at higher risk. About 26% of women will die, as compared to 19% of men. That’s at least in part due to the fact that women are older on average when they have their first heart attack, by somewhere around 6-10 years. The risk is always greater when you’re older.

Eating a great diet and keeping the chocolate, wine and rich foods in moderation are all heart-smart things to do, but what are some good heart-healthy foods TO eat?

Dr. R – A heart-healthy diet is full of delicious foods! I start my day with strawberries, raspberries adn blueberries, or sometimes a banana on my whole grain Cheerios or eat that fruit alongside some whole-wheat toast or a whole-grain bagel. Some smoked salmon on that bagel is delicious and gets me half a serving of omega-3-rich fish too! If I want something warm on one of these wintry days, I’ll substitute oatmeal for the Cheerios or I’ll toss some egg whites or egg substitute in a pan with some low-fat shredded cheese (with just a pinch of double Gloucester or parmesan on top for some intense flavor!) and some mushrooms and spinach or other green veggies, grated or in small pieces. If I put it under the broiler, it’s a frittata, if I fold it up, it’s an omelet! Since it’s hard to predict meals when I travel, I always take a plastic baggie or two of cereal, usually with some dried fruit, so I can have a healthy snack and NOT be tempted by the mini-bar! And that’s just for breakfast!

Of course you should get your veggies too – that spinach I mentioned – or dark greens like kale or broccoli, or even lovely red beets. You can go to http://www.heart.org/ and search Nutrition for more tips!

YUM!!! All foods I love…well, maybe not the beets, but hey, that’s just one that I won’t eat. The rest? Yum. Gotta say I love the chocolate and wine, of course, though I prefer white. Grins.

(For those who love lists, WebMD has a list of the Top 25 Heart Healthy foods here: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/25-top-heart-healthy-foods )

They say laughter is the best medicine, and we do love to laugh around here. Which is why, of course, we’ve got Wacky Sappy Love Poem Day going for Valentines, and we want Dr. Robertson to be the judge for us.

Dr. Robertson, feel free to jump in and comment on the mayhem when you sign in!

Besides keeping a great sense of humor (and visiting the Romance Bandit’s Lair) what are some of the most important lifestyle changes that people should consider to be heart healthy? I’m sure stopping smoking is one…

Dr. R – Absolutely! Stopping smoking is the top of the list, since it’s a huge risk factor. That’s especially true if you use birth control pills – the combination raises your risk 35 times normal! Quitting can make an equally dramatic change for the better.

One simple thing to do, especially now that spring is finally on the way, is to get moving. Walk for 15 minutes a day, then move it up to 30 minutes. Make healthy food choices – a diet rich in fruits, veg, whole-grains, two servings of fish a week, cut back (or cut out) high-fat, high cholesterol foods, get lean protein with sodium no more than 1500 mg a day if you can. Portion control is key! You can check on how you’re doing, and get great hints from the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program at http://www.goredforwomen.org/

Thanks for these top-tips, Dr. Robertson! We’re so happy to have you with us today. Are there other things you’d like to have our (mostly) female audience know? What about our guys?

Dr. R – Our guys are very important to us! And we’ve got some help for them as well. In fact, the AHA’s MyLifeCheck is a great tool for both men and women. Try it out at http://MyLifeCheck.heart.org/ and see what you can easily change to improve your odds of living a strong and healty life, free of cariovascular diseases and stroke!

(Remember, Dr. Robertson will be with us LIVE at 11 am, so post your questions along with your poems…)

And now…Da RULZ for Wacky Sappy Love Poem Day! Give us a poem, haiku, cantrip, rhyme or verse using the following:

It has to have: Heart, Love, Healthy

And one or more of the following: Go Red, Red Dress, vegetables, fruits, (or named fruits or vegetablesm i.e. strawberries)

SO, the other thing is….GO RED!!!

At the end of the day, Dr. Robertson will pick FIVE winners!

Oh, you want to know about the PRESENTS?

That would be a GO RED Backpack filled with GO RED and Romance Bandit goodies, for one poster, AND cool magnets, heart-healthy cook books, and other prizes for the other four.

So rock on you Valentine’s Poets, rock on!

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