Monday, November 30, 2009

On the eve of December~

Twas the night before December
and all through the manor
one can hear the titter of laughter
in unbridled candor.

Lord Craven-Moore chuckled
as he licked his lips with glee.
With Charlotte holding her spoon near his mouth,
and Amanda perched on his knee.

"Where is that imp, Kristina,"
he bellowed to the sky
and in she sashayed,
putting a twinkle in his eye.

With a face, oh so merry
and his women gathered nearby
he looked at each one
and then said with a sigh,

"It's time once again to bring merriment to all.
You've written and promoted,

all but cast me to the wall.
Well, enough is enough." He turned his head quick.

"For a few days, you're mine
and I intend to push ,pat and lick!
Every pie crust you make,
every chocolate concoction sublime!

"Let the holiday baking commence,"
he said as he grabbed the spoon from Charlotte
and clamped it between his pearly white teeth.

His smile was so devilish,
his cheeks, still unshaven
but he looked so delectable
in his red checkered apron.

"You want it all, don't you?" the three stated with mirth.
"Of course!" he replied as he unbuttoned his shirt.The Lit ladies continued, "The slaving, the rolling, we don't see the worth."
"Oh but ladies, I'm here to assist," he said with a smirk.

Their expressions perked joyously!
Their eyes, they grew bright,
as Lord Craven bent over once more
it was a heavenly sight.

"I found the sugar and flour and
I'll grease down the pans."
The LIT ladies nodded,
with a swoon as they fluttered their fans.

"You'll see, it can be fun!" he said,
laying a finger aside of his nose.
And much to the dismay of the ladies,
from his bent over stance, he arose.

but he gave them a smile
and picked up the buttery stick
"Who'd like to help me?"
All responded, toot sweet!

"Be nimble, my loves,
recipes are a delight,
but not half as much fun
as we'll have later tonight!"

"When we sit 'round the fire
and sample our wares
and eat , drink, and make merry
and whatever inspires!"

So from our house to yours
on this cold December eve,
we embark on a month of taking--
and giving, as Lord Craven quickly adds in.

Taking stock of the warm blessings
of home, hearth and good friends
and give without reservation,
our time-honored traditions!

So share with us boldly
what preparations you may--
that help celebrate this holiday season
in whatever way.

From Lord Craven and the Lit ladies--
Amanda, Charlotte, Kristina
we bid you the merriest of Christmas's
and a month of sumptuous delights!

We invite you to join us all season as we share some time-honored family recipes, soem quick tips to making your holiday less stressful and perhaps a surprise or two along the way!

Happy Holidays~
Amanda, Charlotte, Kristina & Lord Craven-Moore

Monday, November 23, 2009

Movie Review Monday -- NEW MOON

Okay, first off, I should warn those of you who haven't read the book that there are some spoilers in this review--it's almost impossible to talk about the movie without them. I should also preface this review with a note that I'm now fairly certain that Rob Pattinson could dress up as Edward and stand on screen in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and recite a shopping list for two hours, and I would be thoroughly entertained. Therefore, I'm going to temper my opinion by including my husband's reaction, as well. I've seen it twice now, and I think I've finally got my head wrapped around my opinion. Overall, I'd say I liked it a lot, even while critical of the story itself. In fact, I'd say the movie's biggest weakness is that it's limited by the actual source material.

The good: The overall production quality was a million times better than the original Twilight movie. The make-up was better (as in, Edward did NOT look like a drag queen in this one, and everyone in the theater didn't titter every time Dr. Cullen came onscreen in his pasty white splendor). The effects were also a zillion times better--I thought they did an excellent job with the wolves, and there's even a beautiful scene of vampire/wolves running through the woods. Also gone was the weird blue/green tint that Twilight was filmed in, and the warmer colors somehow that made this film look more 'real'. There were some truly funny moments, too, and there were lots of laughs at appropriate times. Particularly funny were Bella's friends Jessica and Mike. Charlie the dad was, once again, a scene stealer and absolutely brilliant.

One surprisingly good aspect of the movie was the Jacob Black character played by Taylor Lautner. I admit, until the train wreck that was Breaking Dawn came along, New Moon was my least favorite of the books. I mostly skimmed/skipped the entire middle section, once Edward left, and then picked back up again at the end. I never much cared for the Jacob character, never bought the supposed 'love triangle' elements, and never felt badly for Jacob, because I felt like he *knew* where Bella's heart lay; he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. But in the movie, I totally warmed up to Jacob's character, and actually felt *really* badly for him by the end of the film (not badly enough to change my stance from Team Edward to Team Jacob, mind you, but still...).

I give huge kudos to Taylor Lautner for pulling it off--I think he showed some real acting chops, and the physical transformation was absolutely amazing (the guy's HUGE!! And he's only 17!). The theater erupted in cat-calls and wolf-whistles every time he took his shirt off (which was a lot). Amazing.

And I much preferred this toned down version of Edward--less weird hair, toned down make-up, and a totally different style wardrobe. RPattz just IS Edward to me, particularly this time around, and I could feel every bit of his anguish.

Another good: the Volturi. Very, very creepy. Michael Sheen as Aro was particularly wonderful! I saw him just last week in Frost/Nixon, and I didn't even recognize him. He played the part with relish, and it was fun to watch. Dakota Fanning was particularly creepy as Jane.

The bad: Well, again, the film is limited by the source material. It's a slow moving movie. Not a lot happens. If you've got daughters who'll see it, prepare to have a "This is NOT how normal people react when a guy breaks up with them" discussion. Much more so than in the books, I had thoughts of "Wait, why is *every* guy who comes in contact with Bella totally in love with her?" And there's definitely some over-the-top dialogue moments, again, courtesy of the book (along the lines of "Bella, you've given me everything, simply by breathing"). They didn't bother me, but they made my husband laugh.

Also bad was the addition of a fight scene with Edward and the Volturi near the end that wasn't in the book. I thought it was a really bad choice, mostly because it made Edward look weak, and who wants their hero to appear weak? Also, if you've read the books, you know how near impossible it is for anyone to fight Edward successfully--he can read minds; he knows his opponent's every move, and therefore can avoid them. We saw this in Eclipse, when the Cullens all practice fighting with one another. One of the funniest scenes in Eclipse is Edward and Alice fighting--he can read her mind, and she can see the outcome in advance. But it's like they just completely ignored this in New Moon, and I think it really weakened Edward's character, and for no real reason except to add in more "action."

The really bad: There's only one scene that I'd categorize as really, truly cringe-worthy. You'll know it when it happens, because the entire theater will titter loudly (at a point that audiences were not intended to laugh). Alice's vision of Bella and Edward in the future--that's all you need to know. Wait for it. I think Chris Weitz (the director) must have been on vacation that day or something.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. A lot. I'll probably go see it a third time. My husband--who never read the books and totally surprised me by *really* liking the original movie (he thought the campiness worked in its favor), declared New Moon "the worst movie EVER." Maybe the truth falls somewhere in between?

Anyone else seen it yet? Opinions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Winners and Research Monday!

Good morrow, everyone! I have a few things to chat to you about. First, though, the winner of a signed copy of A Highlander Christmas is (chosen at random, from a hat!) is..........................Patti!

Congratulations Patti! Please send your snail mail addy to
And thanks to all who gave me a nice, indepth look at what they like in their Highlanders!

So, this weekend, I've been doing research for my Sins and Vitues series for Harlequin Spice. It's set in the late 18th century, when men wore frock coats and a bit of lace cuff, but thankfully, wigs were out by then for both men and women! (men in wigs=not sexy!)

So, I've come across some really wonderful resources. I use them all the time. So, I thought I'd share them. I don't know how many authors, published or aspiring we have visting LIT. And since we're a historical site, I figured our visitors all like historical, I've given a few links out to sites that I always visit whenever I begin reseach.

the National Trust is fabulous for researching castles, manor homes, inns etc...and there are many of these old sites that you can stay overnight in. I swear, I'm going to spend a night in a castle! I swear it!

This site is great for naming places, finding small villages, and for visual inspiration for your next rakish lord, or hunky highlander's dwelling! It's also nice to visit if you're planning a trip abroad, and want to include some historical homes on your tour. STourhead gardens (if you visit the site) is the inspiration for Sinful's Lord Wallingford's garden.

Next stop for me, is always the Victorian and Albert Museum. Although, on the three occasions I've been to London, I've never made it there. Next time I will!!! I've recently purchased two fabulous research books (pictures shown) from them. You can buy on-line. Wonderful resources for the writer, and a fun place to virtual visit and shop for those Anglophiles amongst us. The on-line collection of fashions and furniture is die for.

And Kristi...I see they have a 20th century fashion book as well, unfortunately, it's temporaily out of stock.

So, that's it for Research Monday. Enjoy purusing the links. And just out of curiosity, does anyone have a favorite era, and why?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Come now, ladies, do tell me you're not serious about this...Highlanders? Upon my word, I've been surfing the net and blogging with Sophie, and I cannot believe the utter adoration for these...beastly men. The sheer want, desire, and heaving bosoms for these fellows makes a full blooded--titled-- English gentleman rather morose. I ask you, what of the suave, rakish ENGLISH aristocrat? What of him? Is there no longer any bosoms heaving, and breathless flutterings for him? What is the allure of a Highland Hunk? Is it the mystery beneath the kilt?

I am wounded--deeply, for I acutally caught Sophie not only writing a book about a Highlander, but READING one as well. I vow, I had to run straight for Amanda and Kristi's arms! Of course, they welcomed me!

Highlanders! Pish Posh.

So, in retribution against Sophie's heartwrenching betrayal, I've stolen a signed copy of A Highlander Christmas, and am giving it away to a lucky commentor, who tells me just exactly how they like their Higlanders.

OH, by the by, Charlotte has yet to pick winners from the Winter's Desire release. She will be by Monday to announce the winners, and so will I.
Adieu, Mon Petite Anges!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day!

It's Veterans' Day here in the U.S., so I just wanted to thank everyone out there who has served our country!

Also, to everyone who won water bottles from our WINTER'S DESIRE launch party, sorry it's taking me so long to get them mailed out to you, but it's been a little tricky finding *something* in which to mail the bottles so that you don't received a package full of cracked, broken plastic. I promise, they're coming soon!

In the meantime, I hope those of you who've read WINTER'S DESIRE have enjoyed it! We're really looking forward to our next Celtic Spice anthology, BELTANE FIRES, coming April 2011!

And lastly, if you're into audio books, WINTER'S DESIRE in now available through, Amazon, and iTunes! I've listened to it already, and the actresses reading the novellas are fabulous! To me, it was about the next best thing to seeing one of my books made into a movie. I loved it!

And just as a teaser, if you read my novella in WINTER' DESIRE, "Lover's Dawn," you might remember Aisling's brother, Jack Wainscott. Jack, home from fighting in the Great War, is the "hero" of my BELTANE FIRES novella!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New French Edition.....

Just had to share, 'cause it's SO pretty....the French language version of TO LOVE A SCOUNDREL, which comes out Nov. 18th. This makes my 11th foreign release so far (and there's still more to come!). But this might be my favorite--or second favorite--of my foreign covers. I really love the French version of UNVEILED--Traitresse Tentation-- too (you can see them all here).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Too good not to share...

A little more fun...
write a two line blurb for each picture below.

Wicked Wednesday: Can you guess?

We've talked briefs, we've talked tatts...have we talked about hair? Oh, probably..Charlotte likes her bad boys with long hair...Kristi, likes those English boys and me...ecletic, as always, in my tastes ;) But we all like (or shouuld) keep out options open, right? You never know what character you might find as you surf the net, watch a movie, or walk through a museum. Your quintessential heroe--be it brooding, intellectual, tender, brazen, alpha, beta, or any combination thereof...may suddenly meet your eyes across the miles, and in an are smitten! It happens to me all of the time!! Doesn't it you?
Intellectual & Groomed?

Shoulder-length Brooding?

Ooozing with refined style?

Does it matter?

The English gent?

Scruffy vamp?


Classic warrior?

Sexy Shakespearian?

Biker dude?

Full on ARRRGH?

Aging well?

Wandering locks?

Now for some fun...lets see how many of you can guess the picture that I have chosen to inspire the hero of my next book from Spice (after The Master & the Muses) The character's name is Randoph Mansfield -"Rand" for short.(no thats not a clue) and he is a detective in the Whitechapel district of London.

The name of the book (first named in public right here is...THE DARK SEDUCTION OF MISS JANE.

To the first one who guesses correctly, I'm going to ship off a copy of my debut novel from Spice -Diary of Cozette and a few yummy goodies! A great gift idea if you already have the book!
(and my humble thanks if you do;)

Let's see how well you think you know me!  Enjoy the hunk hunt!
(*Kristi and Charlotte are disqualified)


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WINTER' DESIRE "Scavenger Hunt"!

Okay, it's grand prize time!! But we're going to make you *work* for it, LOL!

Here's how it's going to work--I will list six questions. The answers can be found here in the past three posts, from the excerpts of the three novellas in WINTER'S DESIRE. Find the answers, and post your answers in the comments section.

The FIRST person to post the correct answers will win the GRAND PRIZE, the gorgeous "Winter's Sparkle" necklace from Gaelsong (but note, it's *just* the necklace--they didn't have any more earrings available).

The SECOND person to post the correct answers will win the SECOND PRIZE, the oh-so-hot Gods of Football calendar (if we can pry it from Amanda's hands, that is!).

And the THIRD person to post the correct answers will win the THIRD PRIZE, Loreena McKennitt's "A Midwinter Night's Dream" CD (trust me, the music is as gorgeous as the album artwork!). everyone ready? Here goes!

1. From Lover's Dawn: What color gown is Aisling wearing?

2. From Winter Awakening: The vast clear summer sky was awash with what?

3. From Midnight Whispers: What was Sinead sipping at the Solstice Celebration?

4. From Lover's Dawn: A dollop of what remained on Aisling's lip?

5. From Winter Awakening: Sabeline declared herself "old" by what?

6. From Midnight Whispers: Sinead sees a vision of her late husband David wearing a mask--what two colors is the mask?

On your mark, get set, go!

Midnight Whispers and Solstice Mummers

Hi everyone! Welcome to the LIT bash celebrating the release of Winter's Desire. I'm going to take you on a bit of a different path, something not Celtic, but medieval, that still is done in some parts of the world to this very day. And that's Mumming. What's this you ask? Well, it's kind of an acting troupe that went down the street, or door to door on special days like May Day, Easter and Christmas. The troupe dressed up in costumes with masks, disguising themselves. They performed a play, usually one that depicted resurrection, or the eternal battle of good vs. evil. All the village would bear the elements to watch them, laughing at the antics of the actors. Mostly the plays were humorous and bawdy, but soome were more serious.

After, the troupe would be given a few shillings, or food and wine before moving on to the next village, or door.

Mumming developed in medieval Britain, and is still performed today in many parts of England, most notably the North. In Canada, Newfoundland (our most eastern province) is known for their Christmas mummers. In America, mumming was particularly popular in the state of Kentucky.

So, mumming, and all it's splendor is integral in my novella Midnight Whispers. You see, Sinead, the heroine is a widow. She longs for one more night with her husband, and many, many more nights with the young officer, Kieran. So, for David to come back from the dead, I made him part of the mumming troupe that performs in the village green of Sinead's village. I thought it was a unique scene, while staying true to the overall Celtic feel of the anthology. After all, the green has standing stones, an altar set up to pay homage to the goddess, and ah...well, some misbehaving on that altar, if you know what I mean!

Here's an excerpt from Midnight Whispers, where Sinead has walked to the green. A roaring bonfire is crackling as the snow falls to the ground on the eve of the solstice...

Holding the warm mug in her hands, Sinead sipped at the wassail as she scanned the crowd of revelers. Everyone from the village was here—youngest to oldest—celebrating the solstice and offering up gifts to the ancient gods and goddesses so that the bleak winter months would be neither unduly harsh nor long.

Everyone was making merry, laughing and drinking, calling out cheers for good health and a warm home. There was country dancing to the fiddle and the singing of old, seasonal songs. Cheeks were crimson with the slap of the cold breeze, and eyes were bright with the merriment of the festivities.

Walking around the enormous bonfire that was in the middle of the village green, Sinead, jostled by the revelers, watched from the peripheries, never really part of the celebration. Despite this, she had come to the place where the ancient stones had stood for centuries, watching over the tiny northern village. There was magic in those stones. She believed it, and not just because of her Celtic roots, but because she felt it. Especially this evening. A thrilling enchantment hung thick in the atmosphere, cloaking her.

Scanning the laughing faces, she did not see the one she longed for. Kieran was not present amongst the merry gentlemen who danced and tried to steal kisses from blushing maidens. She felt empty knowing he was not there. A part of her had believed he would be, and that part of her had been convinced that she’d give herself to him this night—this night of magic and passion.

“The Mummers!” a young lad cried as he ran into the circle of dancers. “They are making their procession into the village.”

“I wonder what they shall be acting out this year?” a young maid with rosy cheeks and sparkling blues eyes asked excitedly.

“Who cares, as long as Squire Bolton’s son is leading them,” answered her friend. The two began to giggle. Sinead found herself smiling. She had once been like them, young and carefree, with little more to worry about than thinking of a handsome squire, or village boy. It had been eons since she had a true friend to share a laugh with, or to tell secrets to.

The Mummers voices were carried on the darkness as they chanted their ancient song in Gaelic. Sinead could only recall a few words in her ancestor’s native tongue. Her grandmother had tried to keep their culture alive after Sinead’s mother had died when she was three, but soon her grandmother had followed her mother, and Sinead had been left with her father, who had loved her, but who had been too busy to see to traditions.

‘Bandia, Sianaitheoir, Beannaithe leannan’

‘Goddess, Savior, Sacred Lover.’ The Mummers were singing of the Priestess.
Sinead took a long sip of her drink, letting the mulled spirit warm her belly as she waited to see the troupe of actors which were integral to the solstice gathering. The voices grew louder until the costumed Mummers, their identities concealed by masks, burst into the clearing, dancing and singing. The crowd quieted, stepping back to give the actors wide berth. Nothing could be heard but the crackling of the giant bonfire and the distant hoot of an owl as the cast of actors found their places in the center of the green before the crackling flames.
Their leader stepped forward, holding his torch high as he walked in a small circle, addressing the gathered villagers.

“You see behind me the form of our Priestess, bent over her enemy, caring for him, loving him despite the barrier of class, religion, tongue.”

Waving the torch aside, he revealed the image of a cloaked woman bent over a man. Beside her, pots lay scattered, as well as trenchers. Her hands were moving over the body, healing him as she murmured words he could not understand, for the priestess was an ancient Druid, and the wounded soldier her enemy from across the sea. As the actress worked on the man who lay on the cold ground, the other Mummers broke out into song, a quiet chant, meant to relay the seriousness of the soldier’s injuries.
Sinead did not pay much attention to the play that was being enacted, but focused instead on the narrator of the piece. The way he moved, the sound of his voice, it was all so familiar. Mesmerized by him, she followed his movements through the crowd, marking the procession of the torch he carried as he told the sad story of the star-crossed lovers and the priestess whom they honored yearly.

“Despite his wounds, the two became lovers. Fierce was their loving, but with the dawn, the awakening of their divergent paths becomes all too clear. For it is the solstice, and their lives are never meant to be entwined.”
Suddenly the woman playing the priestess stood up, her arms raised to the heavens, reciting the ancient poem.

“No wanderer’s curse…”

Sinead froze as she heard the words that were embroidered on the small square of fabric the child had given her. Without warning, her gaze strayed to the narrator who pressed forward, his silhouette illuminated by the enormous flames of the bonfire. Slowly he lowered his black and gold mask, revealing his face.
The mug fell from her hand, warm wassail splashed onto the hem of her skirt as she stared in mute horror—hope. The eyes…the hair…

She reached out her hand, her fingers trembling. David?

He tried to step forward but couldn’t. Nor could she move, to touch the face she remembered so well.

“Soon, my love,” he said, donning his mask once more. “I will come to you. Soon.”

He was pulled back by the other Mummers and the eager villagers seemed to swallow him up concealing him from her. Sinead ran, pushing through the crowd, trying to find him, looking fruitlessly for the golden hair and the blue eyes that sparkled from behind the mask. Turning, looking, she found herself moving in circles, until she came to rest on the other side of the fire, closest to the stones. And to Kieran, who watched her from the other side of the flickering flames.
Their gazes locked. Her body warmed, heating with longing. What did he think? Did he know what she wanted?

Waiting. Hungering… the whispered words seemed to burn in Sinead’s belly, filling her with a warmth that curled low in her womb.

‘Do you want me, Sinead?’

She heard the whispered words, in Kieran’s voice. Closing her eyes, she savored the fluttering touch against her skin, but was impossible for it to be his touch because Kieran was still leaning against the stone on the other side of the fire. He could not have touched her, yet she felt it again, heard his voice once more.

Come to me…

So there you have it. A little prelude to some altar naughtiness. So, I'm feeling naughty. Let's have some fun with this. If you could be sacrficed on an altar, who would you have ravishing you?

And Craven-Moore is standing here, offering himself as a sacrifical lamb, if anyone would like to discover what's it like to be a pagan on an altar!!
I'm giving away...let's see....A LIT Sport water bottle. And a box of gourmet Hot Choclate as well as a copy of Naughty Bits to a random commentor. And if anyone can read Italian, I've got an Italian copy of Addicted to give go on, tell us who you would ravishing you...I'll tell you if you will!!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Winter Awakening The Dawn of Newgrange

Before the medieval age around the time of 3200 B.C., it is said the Tuatha De' Danann(the ancient gods and goddesses of Irlenad) built  a burial place for the great king Dagda Mo'r.  Newgrange, a megalithic mound was erected near the Boyne Valley in Ireland is thought to have taken over twenty years to build and has been called everything from a burial site and gathering place for tribes, to a the site of the home of the goddess of love, Oenghus.  It is said to be hundreds of years older than the Great Pyramid in Egypt and at least 1000 years older than Stonehenge.

The neolithic farmers of that day relied on the change of seasons--planning their lives and their crops around the changes, offering fertility rites, prayers and offerings, scarifices and fire festivals at these designated gathering places. Precisely built, its measurements and intricate carvings have not changed over thousands of years.

On the dawn of Winter's Solstice, the light of the rising sun enters what is called the "roofbox" penetrating the passage, illuminating the chamber floor until it reaches the inner room. The entire process takes no more than 14-17 minutes to achieve. What makes this event even more interesting is one theory which states it was built as a symbol of the god of the light penetrating the womb of the mother earth--ensuring new life in a few months time. Sort of gives the shortness of time from start to finsih a whole new conotation, doesn't it?;)

Regardless, it is considered a sacred place, where gods and goddesses were worshipped and where seasons, time, and astronomy were defined by those who relied on the earth as we would rely on our watches and IPhones.

In the prologue for WINTERS DESIRE, we used the image of our druid priestess and her wounded Viking warrior as the setting for their secret forbidden affair.

On the dawn of Winter's Solstice, after her lover has healed and leaves her, saying they can never be together, she steps out into the moring light and arms raised, offers a prayer to the gods and goddesses above that he would one day return. Her chant is caught on the winter wind and becomes a legend that possesses undying magical power--revived in the secret wishes of the human heart...

In WINTER AWAKENING, Sabeline the headstrong only daughter of a Welsh king who by agreement has become a prince in order to have the protection from the King of England. To further the strength of his alliance and secure more lands and armies for England he orders one of his Marcher lords to marry the young princess. In the event that anything happens to her father, she would inherit not only her father's land, but her mother's as well as the armies and entitlements of both parents. Invited to the kings court one summer to meet her betrothed, Sabeline discovers all too quickly that her intended has little interest in her and more interest in buxom serving wench.

Rescued from certain humailation, she finds herself in teh arms of Sir Ranulf, her intended's older and wiser mentor and friend, who comforts her in an older brother fashion. But her heart is smitten with Sir Ranulf, despite his attempts to sway her otherwise and his honorable rejection of her awkward advances gives her hope in the years that follow that he will have considerable influence on her intended, Sir Benedict.

Alas, Benedict has only grown more unscrupulous and Sir Ranulf more handsome and charming. She is torn between duty  to her father and the secret desires of her heart, until a druid seer shows her an ancient chant born of the magic of winter's solstice that could change the course of her life if she has the courage to follow it through.

This scene is the summer at court, where Sabeline and Sir Ranulf meet for the first time, after her betrothed declines to dance and Ranulf steps in saving face for the young princess. It will be several years before they meet again. Here they are conversing about the needs of men verses the needs of women.

Winter Awakening

“I see, so while you believe the union of a man and woman is a sacred act, you would agree it permissible to enjoy the benefit of the union, but forsake the commitment of marriage. For I assume, milord, a virile man such as you does not practice celibacy?”

I blinked as I held her questioning gaze and wondered how in the devil we got into this conversation. Concerned that others might hear and misunderstand, I steered her gently out onto the flagstone terrace outside the great hall. With the music still playing too loud to speak, I guided her carefully down the stone steps that lead to the castle garden. At the bottom, I turned to face her and blurted a candid warning.

“Lady Sabeline, please forgive me, but I do not find these questions proper for one who is not your intended.” I took a deep breath and cast a glance to the sky, taking a second look as I appreciated the vast clear summer sky awash with stars. There, I had settled my tension. I looked at her with a congenial smile.

Her brows rose. “Then it is all well and good that we understand that my intended has his needs and thus is purely within his rights to appease them without quarrel?”

I sighed as I paced back and forth in front of her. She had a point perhaps, but a true lady could not afford to take such liberties as did a man. “It is not the way it is done,” I stated as plainly as I could praying that the conversation would no go further. Having to stand alone with her too long beneath a moonlit sky caused me unease. After all, it had been a long time since I had held a woman in my arms, tasted the pliant sweetness of a woman’s mouth.

“Then perhaps the way it is done should be revisited, milord. For in truth, are not a woman’s needs as great as a man’s?”

Oh, great goddess in heaven!  This was far more than I was prepared for. I started past her up the steps, hoping she took well my meaning. It was far too dangerous, this conversation about unions.  "Excuse me, I must get back to the banquet hall.”

“Are we finished then, milord, because you say that it is so?”

She turned to look up at me with a defiant look, her chin held high. I was going to regret going back down those stairs to meet her face-to-face. “Despite your age—“

“I am a grown woman, Sir Ranulf.” She leveled me a look that I should have seen as warning. “Old by English standards of marriage,” she added dryly.

“It is well known that a lady is able to control her needs. It is, by nature’s design that a man cannot. It has been determined that it can affect even a man’s health.”

She looked at me with a startled expression, a smile lifting from the corner of the mouth. “And how is your health, Sir Ranulf?”

My gaze rested on her mouth, the same one that had tempted me from the moment we met. I realized she was teasing me. She began to laugh.

I glanced to the top of the stairs, hoping that no one heard her laughter and question why she and I were out here alone. My concerns unfounded, there was no one in sight. We were quite alone and I was no more comfortable with the wicked thoughts skating at the edge of my brain.

“I do not know, Sir Ranulf,” she said, “which I find more amusing. The fact that men cannot control their desires or that you truly believe that a woman should.”

I had the foolish wish that she might act upon her current need—or mine. But to risk getting caught would by certainty ruin her reputation. Still, I could not help but poke back at her with a harmless challenge of my own. “Are you saying, milady, that you have no wish to control your desires?”

Her laughter waned as I stared at her. Just one kiss to purge the curiosity of showing her the passion of a grown man, not one who had no idea of the prize he was being given. Somehow I found justification, shallow though it was, to appease my desire.

I took her face in my hands and brought my mouth to her lips, intent on taking a quick taste, but one was not enough, so I took another. I was lost in the sweetness of her sigh, how she trembled when I touched her. I urgently stepped away, pushing my hands through my hair to keep from touching her again.

She licked her lips as she met my confused gaze.

“My apologies,” I stated. “I lost control of my emotions for a moment.”

“Shall I no longer be a lady in your eyes, milord, if I were to admit my desire for you?” she whispered, her finger brushing over my lower lip.

“Sabeline, I am old enough to be—“

She lifted to her toes and kissed me fully, her soft hands cupping my face.

“This cannot be.” I lowered my head, seeking every grain of nobleness in me. But my mind warred with my need to have her, to take her into the garden shadows and give her that which she claimed to want.

“But what of my desire?” she asked as her hand slid between us, stroking the length hardening even now beneath my breeches. Her mouth teased mine. It was then that I realized this was a game to her. I caught her hands, holding them between mine.

“You are young yet and do not fully understand the power of your desire.” I swallowed hard as I stepped away from her. “Excuse me, milady.” I headed back to the banquet.

“Milord, when will you be old enough to understand yours?” she called after me.

More excerpts to come ! I'd like to hear what your favorite winter tradition is! Leave a comment and be entered to win an autographed coverflat of Winters Desire and a Celtic Spice sport bottle!  And coming up tomorrow--the fantabulous gifts including the Gods of Football "Naked for a Cause" calendar!  Pics you'll want to enjoy long after the year has passed;))


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Welcome to the WINTER'S DESIRE Release Party!

At last, WINTER'S DESIRE is out! It's party time at LIT Manor!

~~~throwing virtual confetti in the air!~~~

Go grab a warm cuppa and blanket, and join us here for two days of teasers, giveaways, and who knows....maybe that rapscallion Lord Craven-Moore will actually grace us with his presence at some point.

So....let me tell you a little about my novella, Lover's Dawn. It's set in the Edwardian era, which is the early 1900s. Often called the 'Belle Epoque' or the 'Gilded Age,' the Edwardian era was a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, when social division was at its height, when women were allowed far more freedoms than in times before, yet still remained tied down to the domesticity and feminine roles of the past. Ladies cycled in knickerbockers, drove motorcars, smoked and cursed, yet were still denied proper educations and the right to vote. Indeed, just like Regency ladies a century before, Edwardian ladies were raised to serve as wives and hostesses, and not much more.

It was a time of great nostalgia, of ostentatious displays of wealth, of 'Gibson Girl' fashions, of gentlemen in Norfolk tweed coats and derby hats, of enormous country estates and 'Saturday to Monday' house parties. The Great War loomed just off on the horizon, destined to change the world and usher in modern times, but until then, modernism was held at bay.

Aisling Wainscott is the heroine of Lover's Dawn--a gentleman's daughter, raised in the country. She's trapped between her own feminist ideals and her place in society, looking to find where she fits in. She also has a secret: she writes erotica--under a pen name, of course--for a publication called The Boudoir. But her sexy stories are all make-believe; she's never experienced true passion in her own life. That is, until the day she finds a mysterious poem in a circle of stones on the Winter's Solstice and makes a wish for something she knows she can never have.

Or can she? Suddenly, she's seeing her brother's friend Will Cooper in a whole new light.

Here's a little teaser.....

As the dinner conversation buzzed on around him, Will continued to watch Aisling, wondering, as he always did, just what was going on in her mind. It was a sharp mind; of that he was certain. But beyond that, she was mostly a mystery to him. They’d been playmates as children--friends, even. But as they’d grown older, she’d become cold, distant. An ice queen, if ever there was one. The last time he’d seen her, she’d mostly just ignored him.

And yet, inexplicably, she was not ignoring him tonight. In fact, he’d felt her eyes on him since the moment they’d sat down to dinner. Aisling had breezed in, smelling of violets, wearing a wispy, pale rose-colored gown that fluttered behind her like gossamer wings. She’d kissed her mother on the cheek while apologizing for her tardiness, and then taken her seat at the long table, directly across from him.

It was only when she’d raised her goblet to her lips that she’d seemed to notice his presence. She’d looked startled, almost astonished, and he could not credit why. Surely Jack had told her he was joining them tonight. Hell, even if Jack hadn’t, his appearance there at the Wainscott’s dining table was a common enough occurrence. Yet Aisling’s apparent discomfiture hadn’t lessened throughout the interminable meal--five full courses in all.

In all the years he’d known her, he’d never seen her so discomposed. It was disconcerting, and yet somehow arousing if his cockstand was any indication. It would prove embarrassing as hell if he couldn’t rein it in before they finished with dessert.

“I say, Cooper, you’ve not listened to a word I’ve said, have you?” Jack asked, shaking his head.

“I’m sorry?” he asked distractedly. Aisling had taken a bite of pastry and a dollop of chocolate cream remained on the plump center of her lower lip. His pulse began to race as her tongue darted out, licking it away. Good God, that mouth of hers...a perfect, pink bow, just begging to be kissed. And that tongue...just imagining how she could use it, how--

“Bloody hell, Cooper, snap out of it.” Jack tossed his napkin to his lap. “If you’ll pardon my language, Mother.”

“Might I remind you that there’s another lady present besides Mother,” Aisling said sweetly. “Honestly, Jack, have you no manners at all?”

Mrs. Wainscott arched a brow in censure, though the woman could not entirely conceal her smile. “Indeed,” she murmured.

“Indeed?” Jack sputtered. “Why, Aisling curses more than I do, the hoyden.”

“Fascinating,” the elder Dalton said with a leer that made Will’s skin crawl. “A gently bred lady who curses?”

Aisling just shrugged. “I only do it to get under my dear brother’s skin. He’s just ill tempered because my curses are far more original than his own. I’d be happy to demonstrate--”

“You most certainly will not,” Mrs. Wainscott interjected, shaking her head. “Honestly, it’s as if I’ve raised a pair of apes.”

The younger Dalton grinned, looking much like an ape himself. “I beg to differ, ma’am. Your daughter is quite the original. A breath of fresh air, if I might venture to say so.”

Which meant he wanted to fuck her, Will realized, balling his hands into fists.

Jack looked entirely nonplussed. “Suffice it to say that my sister has no equal.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, thank you very much.” Smiling brightly, Aisling rose from her seat and moved to stand behind Mrs. Wainscott. “I think I’ll leave you gentlemen to your after-dinner smoke. Mother?”

The woman nodded. “Of course, dear.”

“Sure you won’t join us, Miss Wainscott?” one of the Daltons called out, sounding slightly drunk.

“Quite,” came Aisling’s reply. Her skirt’s lace-trimmed hem had caught on a chair’s leg, exposing a good four inches of her stocking-clad ankle. And what a well-turned ankle it was, Will realized with a start. Delicate. Gently curved.

Slowly he slid his admiring gaze up her body, to her face, and he could have sworn her saw her shiver in response, as if she’d physically felt his appraisal. Their eyes met, her hazel ones blinking rapidly, her blond brows knitted in what look like confusion.

With a silent curse of frustration, he pushed aside his napkin and rose. For the briefest of moments he considered offering to escort her out, but decided it best to ignore whatever impulse was tempting him to do so. After all, no good would come of it.

For what felt like an hour but was likely only a fraction of a minute, they both stood, watching one another in silence. And then, just like that, the spell was broken. She shook her head, reaching a hand to her temple, her fingers trembling.

“Aisling? Dear?” Mrs. Wainscott reached for her daughter’s arm.

Aisling threaded her arm through Mrs. Wainscott’s. “If you’ll excuse us,” she said with a nod. Moving in perfect unison, the pair made their way out.

Will held his breath, mentally willing Aisling to turn around, to glance back just once before departing. Why, he could not say. But when she did just that, glancing back over one finely shaped shoulder, his breath caught in his throat and he stood there gaping like a stupid ox.

I guess you could say that one of the themes of the story is "Be careful what you wish for..." Have you ever wished for something--then had the wish come true and realized that maybe it was more than you bargained for? Or maybe just more/better/different from what you expected? Leave us a comment and let us know!

I'll select one commenter at random to win a Celtic Spice sport bottle and a WINTER'S DESIRE coverflat, signed by all three authors! And be sure and check back often over the next 48 hours, because we've got lots more to come, including a "scavenger hunt" for which we'll award our grand prizes--the gorgeous 'winter's sparkle' necklace, the Gods of Football calendar, and a Loreena McKennitt CD!

Oh, one last thing...if you visit Dear Author or Smart Bitches, Trashy Books you'll find gorgeous ads for WINTER'S DESIRE including a coupon code for $4 off the book or ebook at eHarlequin! Go, check it out! But don't forget to come back and leave a comment for a chance to win the sport bottle and cover flat!