A little bit about Bayeux, France Home of: “Christmas in Bayeux”

One place that I would have liked to have gone, but never did, was the beaches of Normandy. In my short story, “Christmas in Bayeux,” Aiden Seward goes there to help heal his wounded heart.

My research revealed several interesting facts. There is an American National Cemetery nearby where Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried. The land is considered American soil. War veterans from World War I and World War II are buried there.  Bayeux also has a gothic cathedral similar to the Notre Dame in Paris.  There is also a tapestry there in a local museum called the Bayeux Tapestry depicting William the Conqueror’s conquest of England.

I will get there. Gimme another 10 years…

BLURB: Aiden Seward is an Iraq war vet who has gone to the Beaches of Normandy to heal his wounded heart. Noel Rousseau was the girl he knew as an exchange student years ago. Can Noel help heal the ache in Aiden’s heart?


Noel never let go of his hand. They made their way to the bluff and climbed the stairs that led to the cemetery. Aiden froze when he saw the crosses, row upon row.  Such sadness. So many good lives lost.

“There are over 9,000 buried here.”

He nodded. Speech left him.

“The French people have high regard for America. You liberated our people from severe oppression. The people in Bayeux and all along the coast will come up to American tourists and shake their hands, thanking them for the service their grandfathers gave so long ago.”

Aiden was shocked. Americans were thanked for their service? “You’re serious?”

“Yes. Why?”

“It’s just that France seems so aloof—”

Noel held up a hand, stopping his train of thought. “DeGualle thought it best to promote an independent spirit for the French people, and in doing so, while he helped the nation get its pride back, he also harmed us in the eyes of others. It is true Parisians can be aloof, but you’ll find that the people who live outside of Paris are open and friendly.”

“Noel, no one in Iraq ever shook my hand.”

Je suis désolé.”

Aiden drew in a deep breath. It seemed unbelievable, but Noel spoke with such strong conviction in her voice, he believed it to be true. He wanted nothing more than to be thanked and appreciated for his service.

Facing his apprehension, he walked the rows of the crosses, finding an occasional Star of David. One name caught his eye.

“Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.?”

“Yes, your president’s son is here.”

Aiden dropped to his knees. Everyone suffered great loss – not just him. He hung his head in his hands and sobbed, releasing the rest of his heartache. His body shook.

BOOK TEASER ON YOU TUBE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-muZ0dhOvSE

AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-in-Bayeux-ebook/dp/B005BTLSI8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1321401927&sr=1-1

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-in-bayeux-stephanie-burkhart/1104401603?ean=2940011371806&itm=1&usri=christmas+in+bayeux

SMASHWORDS: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/72100

WEBSITE: http://www.stephanieburkhart.com




Posted in Christmas romance, Sweet and Spicy | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Right Name, Wrong Man

The Chateau where my story takes place

What do the words France, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Loire Valley, evoke for you?

Do you think romantic settings? Visualize historical chateaux? Imagine a kiss at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Prepare your camera to snap pictures of the amazing architecture? Get ideas from the fashion capital? Prepare yourself to taste and enjoy the French Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Beaujolais Nouveau, Bordeau… Are you feeling fuzzy, maybe a little drunk?

After many visits to France—I stopped counting years ago— I can still rhapsodize about Paris and its thousand attractions. The Loire Valley, known as “the Garden of France”, was the favorite residence of the Kings of France during the Renaissance period. They made this peaceful countryside the setting of their dreams, and surrounded themselves with the greatest artists and architects of this era.

When my husband treated me to a special thirtieth anniversary with a trip to the Vallée de la Loire and a two-day stay in an authentic chateau, I fell in love with the area and have never forgotten it.

RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN, my new contemporary  romance is set in this chateau. The count who owns the chateau is a handsome doctor adored by patients and nurses. Only one woman can’t seem to stand him because…

A romantic comedy novel set in France, for $0.99,  http://tinyurl.com/85o4wg7

Short Synopsis:

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold.  She signs up for a summer training program in surgery with Yves, and flies to France to confront her past and the man who broke her heart years ago.

But she never expected the French doctor–who’s also a count– to insist on his trainees staying at his historical chateau. Sleeping under his roof, next door to his bedroom, is more temptation than Mary-Beth anticipated. Desire for Yves burns as hot as ever, especially when he focuses all his charm on Mary-Beth to convince her she needs passion in her life. While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.

Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?

 Excerpt from Chapter Two

“Welcome to France, Dr. Drake.” Stepping back to allow her entrance to his office, Dr. Malroux treated her to the mind-boggling smile he’d probably bestowed on countless beauties he’d escorted.

Rooted in the doorway, Mary-Beth stared at the man she had snatched from her heart a year ago. A day’s worth of stubble shadowed his jaws and a lock of dark hair wandered over his forehead. Damn, he was even more handsome than in her nightmares.

“Good afternoon.” She couldn’t mutter another word as her eyes fell on the surgical top stretched over his muscular chest. Heat bloomed throughout her body. She clenched the straps of her purse and willed her stupid heart to slow down, certain that the thumping could be heard in the silence.

With effort, she recalled the assertiveness she’d painfully acquired over the previous year and extended her arm for a handshake. “I’m here for the summer residency program organized by Dr. Steve Galt fromMassachusetts GeneralHospital.”

Standing too close, he shook her hand and held it an extra second. His sandalwood cologne enveloped her. The familiar scent from her days at Harvard Library sent her pulse into overdrive.

“Yes, I know. I received your impressive curriculum vitae,” he said with the delightful French accent that had resonated in her ears months after he’d leftBoston. “Please, have a seat,” he added, indicating the brown velvet chair in front of his desk.

She hastened to sit and put her oversized purse on the carpet. Her back straight, she clasped her hands together in her lap and crossed her ankles to prevent the anxious tapping of her feet.

He sat behind his desk and leaned back in an imposing leather chair that enhanced his confident stature. His gaze ambled, paused and assessed. “Dr. Drake, I am delighted you will be working with us at the Hôpital de la Santé.

He doesn’t recognize me.

Maybe it was a good thing he didn’t recognize her as the heavy frump from the past. Pleased that she had a chance to start her training without painful reminiscences, she suppressed a smile of relief and bore the weight of his scrutiny without flinching.

His forehead pleated in a thoughtful frown as he opened the folder on his desk and perused her application. “You mention you decided to train with us to improve your skills in General Surgery. Anything else?”

“I also would like to train in Pediatric and Cardiac surgery.” And prove that I’m immune to your charm and marry Steve without reservations. Her voice firmed up as she rubbed her ringless finger. 


I changed the picture of the book cover twice, and I’m still not sure which one would suit the story better. Help me choose? Or should I change to a new one?

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Thinking about year’s end.

The presents have been bought, wrapped, and now the scattered remains lay strewn across your living room floor. With your family content, your thoughts turn toward reading. If you were among the lucky ones to have been presented with your first e reader, you are no doubt anxious to load up and read.

Once charged, head out to your local Amazon website and check out the free books, which are easy to download under your account. You will be amazed at the genres and well known names that you see. Please note, there are many that you may not recognize. These writers are putting in long hours developing their craft and have not yet gotten the nod from traditional New York publishers. Their stories are well crafted and need that word of mouth that starts the ball rolling.

If you are reading this, then you are lucky enough to have found a treasured group of authors you will fall in love with. Check the names on the sides and click their links, you’ll be glad you did. Find your favorite new author, download their story for the low price of 99 cents, then grab your cup of hot coco and curl up with a great book. 

I’ll leave you today with a snippet of my $0.99 book, A Cordial Christmas out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords…


Somewhere in the middle of the night, they heard a door shut and the sound of feet padding down the hallway. She stilled. Dobson must have felt her muscles tighten.

He raised his head and sleepily asked, “What’s Lucy doing up?” 

“Probably going to check on Santa’s progress,” Holly remarked.

Pushing back the covers, she grabbed her robe as Dobson pulled his trousers up and buckled his belt.

“A fine how do you do on a wedding night,” he grinned. “Of course, it gives me an excuse to say a fine good night to my lovely wife again.”

Holly felt her lips pull into a smile and shook her head. “I have a feeling our marriage will always be quite unusual.”

Together, they went down the hallway and paused at the last step. Chow Ming lay asleep on the settee, his meat clever by his side. Dobson tipped toed over and handed Holly his weapon before putting a gentle hand on his  cook’s shoulder.

“Chow Ming, Chow Ming.”

The older man’s eyes opened. He looked about wildly.

“What you doing here?” he asked.

“He come? Fat man in red suit. He come?”

Dobson shook his head. “No, Santa won’t come while you are awake. It has to be done in secret.”

“Chow Ming want to see wagon that fly. Chow Ming think this man in red suit want to steal things.”

“No, no,” Dobson shook his head. “He’s a good guy. But you must go to sleep or he won’t come.”
     “Humph, then Chow Ming go to bed. Nearly midnight anyway.” Grumbling, he rose and moved to Holly taking the meat clever from her hands.

“Chow Ming, did you see Lucy?” Holly asked.

“No, Chow Ming fall asleep. Wait for man in red suit, wagon pulled by antelope.”

“Reindeer,” Dobson corrected him.

“Whatever, no see cowgirl in training.”

Holly hid her giggles behind her hand.
     Suddenly, Dobson knew. “I think I know where she is. Grab your coat.”

Pulling their coats from the pegs by the door, Dobson and Holly slipped into the cold night.  They crossed the yard, to the barn, and found the door opened from the outside. “She’s inside,” he told Holly. “Joe told her a story about the animal’s Christmas. I bet she’s waiting to see.”

Stepping inside, they stood in the quiet and waited. A few moments later, a sound came from the hayloft as a few bits of straw floated down.

“Come on,” he said, leading her over to the ladder.

Carefully, they climbed up the steps to the loft.

“Lucy,” Holly hissed.

“Sh, I’m over here.” A tiny hand waved.

They moved to where the little girl sat curled in the hay watching the animals below.

“Lucy,” Holly scolded. “It’s almost midnight.”

 She held her fingers to her lips for the adults to be quiet. “I know.” Lucy grinned, her face full of excitement. “I want to see the animals pray. Joe told me the story about the animals kneeling on the stroke of midnight to thank God for letting them be the first to see Jesus.”

Both adults looked at each other. “Lucy, that’s an old wives tale,” Holly explained to her.

“No. No, it’s not. Sit and listen,” she urged them.

Holly sighed and sat down. Dobson moved behind her so his body would protect them both from the cold. Reaching into the pocket of his trousers, he pulled out a gold pocket watch and handed it to Lucy.

“It will chime when it strikes midnight.”

She took it and nodded.

The barn grew still. Lucy held her breath. Dobson’s watch seemed to tick louder as the remaining seconds to Christmas drifted away. Then a soft chime rang out and they all held her breath.

“See, nothing is happen-” Before Holly could finish, they heard the animals shifting. Peering over into the cows stall, they watched in amazement as the two calves dropped to their front knees. Then Star did the same. A horse neighed, and then the other animals answered one by one. Holly’s arms prinked with goose bumps. She looked around to Dobson, whose eyes were as wide as hers.

Both adults looked down to Lucy who grinned broadly. “Oh, Holly, you were right, there is no Christmas like a Cordial Christmas.” Her arms wide, she flung them around both of their necks and held on tight.

Dobson put an arm around her and pulled his family close. “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Winters,” he said again.

Posted in Christmas romance | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Seeing Red – family will be family!

There’s nothing like meeting a date’s family to spice up a meal. While some members are on best behavior, siblings often add to the tension by provoking their brother or sister.

In Seeing Red, Quentin hasn’t brought Emma around to meet his family because of his lousy track record with women. He already knows he’s crazy about her. If his family likes her, he might ask her to marry him and Lord knows he doesn’t want to do that, not with four failed engagements hanging around his neck. So, when his step-sister Lucy invites Emma to the Sunday family meal, Quentin is … well, you’ll see.

Here’s an excerpt from SEEING RED:

Emma parked her Saturn behind a white Toyota on the city street. The address Lucy had given her was in a quiet Baltimore neighborhood with immaculate lawns. The huge two-story house would make a perfect bed and breakfast, she mused.

With confidence, she strode to the door and rang the bell. Quentin would be so thrilled that she could afford to hire his company now. She couldn’t wait to tell him the good news.

A brawny fellow with Quentin’s chin opened the door. He swooped her into a big bear hug. “You’re my birthday present, right?”

She shrieked in alarm. “Put me down. I’m Emma Heartly, Lucy’s friend. I’m expected.”

His luminous brown eyes twinkled at her. “I know exactly who you are, but I couldn’t help myself once I saw you. No wonder my big brother is going crazy. You are one hot-looking babe.”

She laughingly tried to bat away his arm, which seemed to have become glued to her shoulder. “I’m no babe. And yes, I am also a friend of Quentin’s.”

“What’s that perfume you’re wearing? I’ve never smelled anything so good in all my life.”

She angled her head up at him to see if he was pulling her leg. From his rapturous expression, he seemed truly enchanted with her appearance. “Uh, I have no idea. My sisters dressed me. One of them spritzed me on my way out the door.”

“Who is it, John? Are you and Harrison boxing in the foyer again?” a female voice called from another room.

“Nope. It isn’t Harrison, Jeanie. It’s a knock-out redhead.”

Emma cringed inwardly. Oh dear. Had her sisters made her look like a fashion model? She’d wanted to surprise Quentin, but from the way his brother reacted, the surprise was on her. She reached for the doorknob. “I can’t do this. I’m a fraud, John. Please give my regrets to Lucy. I need to go home.”

He planted a beefy hand on her shoulder, turning her around. “Now, now. There’s no reason to bolt. My family will skin me alive for scaring you off. Come on in.”

With that, he maneuvered her deliberately into the family room. She reached deep for courage. Why had she ever thought a surprise would be a good idea? She didn’t like surprises. Quentin wouldn’t like this one either.

A wall of faces surrounded her. Quentin’s stepmother, Dottie, wore a red scarf. Jeanie had a sparkling engagement ring. Alf looked like a young James Dean with his black attire. Tabby was the bubbly blonde.

Where was Quentin?

Her heart pounded in her throat. She searched the room for exits.

“Come sit by me,” Lucy said, patting the sofa next to her.

“No, wait.” John slung an arm over her shoulder. “Do you like baseball?”

“I’ve heard of the sport.” Her statement loosened a torrent of information on the subject of baseball. She squirmed under the weight of his arm. Her brain struggled with RBIs and at-bats.

Quentin strolled in, and all conversations ceased. His gaze connected with Emma’s. His forward momentum halted.

Expectation vibrated through the air. Her skin tingled. The silence lengthened. She’d surprised him all right.

She’d rendered him mute.

That thought brought her a small measure of joy. Mister know-it-all didn’t know everything. She smiled brightly. “Hello, Quentin.”

He glided across the room, knocking John’s arm off her shoulder in one swift move. “What are you doing here?”

His entire family burst into laughter. She frowned at his relatives. “Lucy invited me. Would you rather I leave?”

He caught her hand. “You’re not leaving here dressed like that. Who did this to you?”

She tried to take a step back, but there was nowhere to go. “Good grief. You’re embarrassing me. Now your whole family thinks something’s wrong with the real me.”

He scowled. “Anyone who is rude to Emma will answer to me.”

John leaned lazily against the wall. “I’ve never seen you like this, big brother.”

“You were right.” Lucy gave her a hug. “Quentin is snarly around you. No wonder he kept you to himself. I can’t wait to watch you make him behave.”

Lucy had lost her mind. Emma couldn’t make Quentin do anything. She couldn’t even make the lump in her throat go away. “I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Don’t go,” Quentin said in a deep rumbling voice.

This full length sweet romance is available for 99 cents at online sites.

Buy it now at:   Kindle  Smashwords Barnes and Noble

Wishing everyone a most blessed Christmas and a happy new year!

Maggie Toussaint



author of romance and mystery

OTHER TITLES: House of Lies, No Second Chance, Muddy Waters, In for a Penny, On the Nickel. COMING SOON: Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff

Want more of Seeing Red? Another excerpt at www.maggietoussaint.com and reviews.

Posted in Romantic suspense | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Two Wrongs by Morgan Mandel


Two Wrongs by Morgan Mandel
Two Wrongs by Morgan Mandel

Two Wrongs was my first book published, in 2006, and I’m happy to re-release it now on Kindle and Smashwords at the more reasonable 99 cent price for today’s economy.

Two Wrongs is a mystery with romance, set in Chicago where I grew up, in the days when Marshall Field’s was still Field’s, and Chicago basketball was king. Included are Field’s references, such as the Big Tree at Christmastime and ice cream snowmen in the Walnut Room, as well as Frango mints. You’ll find DePaul University, Chase Park, St. Vincent DePaul Church, and other Chicago landmarks also sprinkled in. 

What it’s about:

Mix a Charles Bronson two-sided revenge theme, John Grisham court scene, Danielle Steel 2nd chance at love ADD Chicago and Marshall Field’s at Christmastime – you’ll get some idea about this book.

An innocent girl is slain. Her brother knows who did it – or does he?

A tale of vengeance and the healing power of love –

Kevin loses his cool when Mary Alice turns him down for the prom. Her brother, Danny, hears them argue. Later that night Mary Alice lies dead in the alley. Danny is determined to make Kevin pay, but did he do it? Prison can turn the most innocent human being into a killer.

Excerpt – Chapter 29

“Danny, can you hear me?”

She bent so close he could smell her perfume—a scent which had driven him over the edge. This was not Cathy. He lay helpless, again in her power. What would she do to him?

Footsteps approached.

“I’ve found him,” her voice called out to the new arrival.

Someone tried to move him.

“Answer me, Danny boy. Can you hear me?” Tony’s voice floated up. “Hey, man, just nod if you understand. That’s all I ask.”

Okay, he could do that. Cautiously, Danny moved his head, but a gong clanged inside.

“Okay, he’s still with us. Dora, stay here. I’ll get the car.”

Dora sat beside Danny, holding his head in her lap, brushing her soft fingers through his hair. He sighed at the soothing feeling. He’d missed the touch of a woman, especially this one. He shouldn’t allow her to do this, but it felt wonderful. He’d been so alone. Each soft stroke dulled the roaring pain.

Then he was lifted up and carried. He found himself resting in the back seat of a car, with his aching head cuddled in Dora’s lap. He wanted to stay there forever. Dora was strong. He needed her.

There had always been a link between them. Out of respect for Cathy, he’d denied it. Now he hadn’t the strength to fight it.

On Kindle at  http://tinyurl.com/7whvzkj

On Smashwords at: http://smashwords.com/books/view/113202

Thanks for letting me share.

Morgan Mandel

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Divorce, Interrupted

Do I like controversy? Um, not really. Not really, a lot. When I set out to write Divorce, Interrupted I just wanted to write a story a little outside the box. A story that might not be looked at by my small e-publisher, but only because they don’t do married couples with problems or divorced spouses working on their problems.

I was unprepared for the emails commenting on how I took a very tough subject like infidelity and made it work. How I was sensitive to the delicate subject I was writing about. Wow! I hadn’t planned that at all. For the record, my husband knows if he ever cheated he wouldn’t be able to run far enough, fast enough, to escape my wrath. But I felt with Todd and Lisa like they did still love each other and there might just be hope for a new happily-ever-after for them. We write fiction because then, anything is possible.

Excerpt: Lisa is cleaning up the wedding cake topper she threw against the wall and shattered.

Lisa walked to the trash bin and dumped the contents of the dustpan. Todd winced as the tinkle of pieces of the cake topper hit the bottom. Kind of like their marriage; in pieces and thrown away in the garbage.

“We could hike to the highway, catch a ride.” He sat up and turned toward his ex. “It’s only about seven miles, give or take.”

Lisa smiled at him. “We could do that.”

As if to shatter their hopes of escape as she had shattered the figurine, lightning flashed blindingly through the bay window, followed instantly by the roar of thunder marking the storm as overhead. Rain began to pelt the roof. Todd turned to view a waterfall coming from the roof onto the ground in front of the porch.


“My sentiments exactly,” Lisa added. “Now what do we do?”

Todd walked to the window. “We wait. How long can it rain?

His ex gasped and rushed to the dining-room table. She strode toward him with a piece of newspaper crumpled in her tightened fists.

He pried her hands off the paper. Their fingers touched and Todd jumped back as the old spark flared between them. He turned his back on her and smoothed out the page.

Possibility of Flooding in Lake County Certain glared at him from the headline.

“Shit,” he whispered.

“Exactly,” Lisa added, over his shoulder.

Her sweet breath tickled his neck. His face heated up as he moved away from Lisa. He couldn’t do this. A whole weekend trapped in this cabin with the only woman he loved as much as he hated her. They said love and hate were two sides of the same coin, and he believed it.

Todd slapped the paper, the sound lost in the cacophony outside and on the roof. He needed to move. Cabin fever was already setting in and he had only been here moments. All the times before, they had the outdoors for an escape. Boating, fishing, catching butterflies with Michelle or tadpoles with Michael. His mind played a family movie of good times together.

His gaze skittered over Lisa, her hands wrapped tight around her body. Just like the marriage ended, the happy family time movie ended in his thoughts. How could he be so mad, angry and hurt over her affair and see her for a few minutes and want her so badly?

He was screwed. He still loved the woman who betrayed him

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords

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Addie and the Gunslinger-by Celia Yeary

Addie and the Gunslinger


 Ex-gunslinger Jude Morgan lands in jail in a far-flung West Texas town. On the fourth day in his cell, the sheriff arrives with a beautiful woman dressed in men’s pants and toting her own six-shooter. Adriana Jones claims he is her worthless husband who married her but never came home.

The young woman makes a bargain with Jude in front of the sheriff. Jude is to come home where he belongs, and she will have him released. When they’re alone, she explains his job is to pose as her husband to thwart the marriage advances of her neighbor, wealthy rancher Horace Caruthers. The older man wants her ranch to join his, because the Pecos River runs through her property.

To seal the bargain, Jude wants a kiss. During the next few weeks, however, Jude and Addie learn that the kiss meant more than they meant it to be. Then, Addie’s life is in danger. Will Jude rescue his Addie? Or will Addie save herself and her gunslinger?

1st Mini- Excerpt:

“Ever been kissed, Miss Jones?” Wanting to loosen her up, he tried teasing, but it didn’t seem to work.

Her voice trembled a little. “That is none of your business. I don’t intend our relationship to be at all personal. You just come and go, do your job, and pay no attention to me.”

Chuckling under his breath, he thought, like hell.

2cd Mini-Excerpt

Before she kicked her horse into a gallop, she lifted her chin and said, “You need a bath, Mr. Morgan.”

“Addie. It’s Jude.”

Jude. You need a bath.”



Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit ‘o Texas  



Posted in Western romance | Tagged | 2 Comments


And what’s better as a gift to yourself than a 99 cent e-book? Take a break from all the festivities and planning and relax with one of our books!

At this time of year I’m as bad as any child. I love the Christmas season. Our tree and lights went up Thanksgiving afternoon so we could turn them on that evening, thanks to my husband. He is the gift I’m most thankful for all year!

Was it at Christmastime or another season that the idea for BE MY GUEST came? I honestly don’t remember, but it was on one of the gazillion trips we made between our home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to visit parents in Lubbock in West Texas. Believe me, we traveled that route so often we knew when a rancher or farmer painted his barn or house or got a new truck. We even knew when the mercury vapor light salesman made it through the area.

Let me tell you about BE MY GUEST…

BE MY GUEST is a romance with suspense. Aurora O’Shaughnessy is her way from Houston to buy a gift shop in Colorado. She’s vibrant and outgoing redhead, but a woman in control, a woman with a plan to which she expects to adhere no matter who or what might tempt her from her charted path. Yes, she’s a control freak. No falling head over heels for her! No sireee, she is going to be a successful businesswoman before she lets herself become involved with any man. But fate doesn’t always follow our plans, does it? Not enough that two ruffians almost hijacked her and her car outside Snyder. As she’s driving from the West Texas town of Snyder toward Post in a torrential downpour, her car is washed off the highway. Not to be defeated, she lugs her suitcase, her attache case holding her laptop, and trudges along the raised railway bed toward–she hopes–the town of Post. But then that huge snake frightens her and…

Rancher Will Harrison is a widower with a young daughter, Kelly. Kelly and Will’s other relatives have banded together to get him back in circulation. He isn’t cooperating…not until he meets Aurora in a restaurant in Snyder. He has to admit he’s more than a little attracted and thought she shared the sparks, only to see her shut down and disappear. Too late he realizes that his wedding band misled her and she must have thought him a cheating philanderer. When she reappears that evening, drenched from the storm that’s isolated his ranch, her rescue is hampered by Will’s broken leg. He’s a true hero, though, and successfully saves Aurora from the rushing floodwaters. They’re cut off from the world for 36 hours, long enough for Will to decide to change her mind and keep her in his life forever.

Yes, that’s model Jimmy Thomas of www.romancenovelcovers.com posing as Will Harrison. Actually, Will (in my head) has lighter hair. I took the Texas wildflower photo behind Jimmy one spring. My sweet husband integrated the two photos for the cover.

Here’s an excerpt from BE MY GUEST:

The clock on the dashboard displayed one o’clock when Aurora found herself free to concentrate on lunch in Snyder. Clouds gathered and rumbled with thunder over the West Texas town. Aurora’s empty stomach rumbled with them. After a hazardous morning, fatigue overshadowed her usually cheerful nature. She passed by the fast food places before she spotted the family restaurant recommended by the Texas State Trooper a few minutes ago.

Cars and trucks filled the parking lot. What a lucky break, she thought, when she spotted illuminated taillights and a car backed out of the prime parking slot at the entrance. Aurora saw the lone man in the dusty red pickup truck facing her, waiting for the space. He sat in the very same type and color truck used by two ruffians who had terrorized her earlier in the morning. Although she knew this man could not be one of those two men, an unreasonable anger bubbled up in her directed toward all cowboys, especially those in red trucks.

Her normally pleasant nature turned aggressive and she zipped the Mustang into the vacated park before the less maneuverable truck could occupy the space. The man honked the truck horn at her as she got out of her car. She just smiled and blew him a saucy kiss as she hurried into the restaurant. After all, any real gentleman would have let a lady have the only space in the first place, she told her nagging conscience.

Her conscience would not be quieted so easily. She must be in shock from her morning encounter. Never had she acted so rudely. Regretting her impetuous actions already, she thanked goodness the exchange occurred with a stranger and not someone she might meet again.

Seated in the corner booth, Aurora ordered a hamburger, French fries, and a large Dr Pepper. While she waited for her food, she reviewed the items listed under the town of Snyder in her Texas guidebook. Suddenly, she sensed someone standing beside her booth. As she looked up–and up–a huge cowboy with most of his left leg in a cast leaned his crutches against the side of the booth. He slid onto the seat beside her, which pinned her in the booth with him.

Aurora scooted to the right as far as possible. “Hey, who do you think you are? This is my booth, and no one invited you to share it with me!”

“Your car’s sitting in my parking space, so I’ll sit in your booth,” he said calmly as he removed his Stetson and ran his fingers through sandy brown hair. He turned in his seat to hang the hat on the hook at the end of the booth by his crutches.

Aurora blushed when she realized this must be the man whose parking space she mischievously stole. Oh no, how terrible. He must have had to park a long way from the door and hobble in on those crutches. How embarrassing. The one time in her life she acted rudely, her victim turned out to be a man handicapped by a leg cast and crutches. Still, he had his nerve sitting beside her without so much as a “may I.”

Her chin came up defensively. “Okay, I apologize. If you used one of those disability placards on your rear view mirror, people would know you have a problem.”

“Lady, my problem is that you stole my parking space,” Will Harrison said coolly. He lifted his left leg so that the cast-encased foot rested on the seat facing them, then swiveled to gaze at her.

Aurora smelled the cowboy’s after-shave mixed with the clean scent of his breath when he turned his face toward her. His stone gray eyes met hers. She saw anger drain from his eyes, replaced by stunned amazement. He leaned toward her.

Her awakened senses rocketed into response. Each thread on the sleeve of his blue chambray shirt seared where it touched her arm. For a moment Aurora had the astonishing thought that this cowboy might lean further forward and kiss her right here in public. Equally astonishing, but fleeting, came the thought that she wouldn’t mind a kiss from this man. Her tongue flicked across her lips and she gave herself a mental shake, unable to turn away from his mesmerizing gaze.

What can you be thinking? You have absolutely no business falling for some good-looking cowboy out here in the middle of nowhere. Get a grip on yourself.

Her heart quelled the voice of reason within her mind. Aurora’s her stomach somersaulted from butterflies to flip-flops as she stared into the cowboy’s wide gray eyes. She broke his gaze and peered at her folded hands a second before she threw them up in capitulation.

“Okay, Okay. I just don’t know what came over me. I know you saw the parking space first, but I’m on Bubba-overload. Look, it’s a long story, but it’s been a real killer morning. Once again, I apologize and plead temporary insanity” She placed her hands palms down on the table.

His gaze raked over her, and one eyebrow elevated. “Well, well. I’m almost convinced there’s remorse here. Almost–but not quite. Would you like to explain to me what ‘Bubba-overload’ is and what it has to do with me?”

“Listen, I apologized. Let’s just drop it. Okay?” Surprised at the petulant tone in her voice, she adjusted the dark green scarf that held the hair back from her face

The man peered at her steadily, his voice polite but firm when he spoke. “No, ma’am, we can’t drop it. I think I deserve an explanation after that ‘Bubba’ line. It sounded very much like an insult to me.”

This man obviously had his hackles up and wanted a full explanation. After her morning’s adventures, she found herself impatient with this cowboy, even though her mind recognized his request sounded reasonable. Finally, Aurora swiveled at her waist to face him as much as the limited space allowed. “Oh, well, if you insist. You wore that western hat and were in a pickup truck. At a glance, you looked like the typical red-necked Bubba. All you lacked was a big wad of tobacco bulging in your cheek.”

She raised her hand and shook a finger at the man as if he were a delinquent school boy. “Listen, I’ve had my fill, and then some, with you guys. You follow me, whistle at me, lean out a truck window to sing to me, shout, or wave to me. I even receive various very rude gestures and get mooned. Believe it or not, I do nothing either to initiate or encourage any of this behavior.”

A skeptical smile appeared and he raised his eyebrows. A flush of color heated her face at the memory of her behavior in the parking lot. She held up one hand to stop any comment he might make before she continued.

“Oh, I know, I acted brashly with you outside just now. Let me assure you, that’s entirely unlike me. In fact, it’s truly a first. I’ve never, ever done anything like that before.”

She shook her head in wonder. “I don’t know what came over me. As I said, it must have been temporary insanity due to Bubba-overload.”

She pinched the fabric on the leg of the neatly creased blue denim jeans she wore. “Look at me. My jeans aren’t skin-tight. They’re not painted on me.” With a tug at the hem of her hunter-green knit top, she added, “My shirt isn’t too tight, it has three-quarter sleeves, and the neck isn’t low or revealing.”

Aurora moved her knees and elevated a foot to display canvas shoes. “I’m wearing my little Keds, not flashy pumps with stiletto heels. All in all, I think I’m dressed very sedately and not at all in a provocative way.”

The cowboy slid his glance slowly up and down her then back to her face before he smiled a slow, lazy smile that lit up his eyes and brought a dimple to his cheek. He reached over to grasp her untouched water glass and took a drink from it, his eyes returning to her face as he sipped the icy water.

Her own mouth opened as she watched his mouth against the rim of the glass. The tip of her pink tongue slid against her upper lip as the water slid into his mouth. She could almost feel his lips as they received the liquid. To hide the rising turbulence in the pit of her stomach, Aurora glared at him. In vain she tried to avoid thoughts of his stare or the dimple that appeared with his smile.

She forced herself to concentrate on her defense. “Um, I just drive along in my little blue Ford Mustang, enjoying the scenery and minding my own business. I do nothing to call attention to myself. I even try to be a good sport about the immature behavior some guys display.”

She took a deep breath. “I try to take it all in stride and just keep on schedule but”–Aurora slammed her hands against the top of the table–“this morning, two very frightening Bubbas tried to run me off the highway and hijack me or my car.”

His eyes widened and his mouth gaped, but she continued, “I’m only here because a State Trooper happened by in time to interrupt my abduction. Frankly, that scared the life out of me. The longer I thought about it, though, the angrier I became. By the time I got to this restaurant, I had completely lost my cool.”

Aurora took a deep breath and gazed at her hands. She recalled the fright that consumed her when she realized the two men followed her. Only quick thinking on her part prevented the two ruffians from succeeding at their attempt to run her off the road and get her out of her car. She shuddered to think what might have happened if not for the State Trooper. And never, never would she forget the faces of those two men!

She waved her hands in a fluttery motion. “When I saw you in a truck the same color as the one that ran me off the road…well…I guess I just went bananas, berserk, crazy. That’s why I’m pleading temporary insanity.” Aurora leaned back and crossed her arms in front of her.

At this moment the waitress appeared with their food. Aurora stared in amazement as the waitress set the burger, fries and Dr Pepper in front of her and a duplicate of the order in front of the man beside her.

The waitress flashed what she probably thought of as her most seductive smile at the man. In a low, honeyed voice, she asked, “Anything else today, Will?”

He seemed unaware of the invitation in her voice or the hopeful sparkle in her eyes. “Not right now, Norma Sue, thanks. Go ahead and leave the check now and save yourself time.”

When the disappointed waitress left, Aurora appraised Will. How could he fail to notice the waitress’ blatant invitation? Had he any idea how attractive he was? Hold on, this guy might be too good to be true.

Aurora gazed over he shoulder at the departing waitress. “How on earth did she know what to bring you? When did you give her your order?”

“When I came in.” He leaned across her to get the salt and pepper. Will paused to flash her a truly breathtaking smile and the bottom fell out of her stomach again. “I also told her you would pick up the check.”

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Hot romance, suspense and a touch of humor

In Wild for You (Tropical Heat Series, Book One), Marisol Calderon’s carefree lifestyle comes to a halt when an anonymous stalker begins to terrorize her with increasingly menacing threats. The only bright side to her suddenly dismal situation is Clay Blackthorne, the hot, brooding detective who is lethally strong and resolute in protecting her. From their first meeting, hard-edged Detective Clay Blackthorne is blindsided by his instant attraction to lively Marisol Calderon, yet he’s honor bound by a promise to her older brother to protect her without letting her know what he’s up to. Hot romance, suspense and a touch of humor spice up this love story between two opposites who never expected to fall in love. Wild for You is on three Amazon  bestseller lists.

Buy: Kindle: http://amzn.to/tfQCeF Nook: ttp://bit.ly/sjZKUS

Blurb: To Love, Honor, and Protect
Detective Clay Blackthorne has his hands full when he promises to safeguard an old college pal’s sister without letting her know what he’s up to. He never imagines that lively Marisol Calderon will knock his socks off and put a ring on his finger—and all at his suggestion! Their marriage of convenience is meant to protect her and Clay doesn’t plan on being hitched for long to the tempting beauty. But the honeymoon sure feels real to him…
Sassy Marisol is used to doing whatever she wants—and right now her plan is to shake up the hot detective’s hard-edged demeanor. But the fun turns to danger when a mystery stalker bent on marrying her marks her as his prey. Temporarily becoming Clay’s wife seems like a practical way to thwart the stalker. But as passion ignites and Marisol falls for the tender heart buried beneath the tough detective’s chest, Clay’s true identity is revealed and she begins to wonder who—if anyone—she can trust…

Excerpt from later in Chapter One:

        Clay’s sunglasses fogged up when he got in the steamy interior of the car, but he smiled wryly at the real reason for misty sunglasses—his recent session with the cute blonde. During the shampoo, his body had reacted instantly to Marisol’s round breasts hovering mere inches from his face. He’d closed his eyes, but all that charm packaged in a petite figure was too tantalizing to ignore, even with his eyes shut.
        From the minute he’d set eyes on her, Marisol had bombarded his senses like a warm, bright ray of sunshine. Her lilting Argentine accent was melodious and damn sexy. Clay’s sex stirred at the hot memory of her pulse-pounding little strut and then he stopped cold. Knock it off. Marcos asked you to watch over his kid sister, not seduce her, he reminded himself.
        A sexy, but naïve kid sister, he added wryly. Marisol might be good at running her business, but in her personal life, she was naïve. She’d agreed to go out with him too readily, without knowing who he was. Sure, she’d asked a few questions, but for someone getting anonymous flowers and messages from a potential stalker, she was too damned trusting.
        Marcos wouldn’t be happy to hear about it, Clay thought as he reached for his iPhone to call him. He glanced at his watch—four hours left before he was to meet her at the salon.

        Clay returned to Marisol’s salon that evening and almost mistook the receptionist, Laila, for Marisol as she locked the front door of the salon. There was a striking similarity in their hairstyles and coloring, but the resemblance ended there. When he reached her side, Clay noticed Laila had a fuller figure and was taller than Marisol.
        “Where’s Marisol?” he asked.
        “Ack!” Laila whirled around with a hand on her heaving chest. “You scared me. You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that,” she said, staring at his feet. “I didn’t even hear you walk up!”
        “I wasn’t sneaking up on you. I’m Clay Blackthorne,” he said, smiling so she’d calm down. She was probably skittish because of Marisol’s anonymous messages and gifts.
        Laila gave him a small, hesitant smile. “I remember you were here this afternoon.”
        “That’s right. Marisol and I made plans for dinner. Is she inside?”
        “No. Uhm.” Laila’s brown eyes flickered uneasily. “Marisol left about fifteen minutes ago with a terrible migraine. She said she was going to run an errand before going home to lie down.”
        “Did she leave a message for me?” he asked, exasperated by the obvious—Marisol had changed her mind and stood him up.
Laila nodded. “She said she’d take a rain check on dinner with you.”
        “All right, I’ll come by tomorrow. Thanks for the message.”
Clay drove directly to Marisol’s apartment, thinking if he hurried, he might intercept her at the door and get some answers. She’d been too lively earlier to suddenly have such a bad headache that she had to go home and lie down. Why had she stood him up? The thought of foul play nagged at him.
        He stood outside her apartment and jabbed her doorbell several times. No answer. He folded his arms and leaned his shoulder against the door frame. Twenty minutes later, he heard the elevator doors open and shut and then the sound of high heels tapping on the tile floor, signaling Marisol’s arrival.

        When Marisol caught sight of Clay, she turned and headed back to the elevator.
        Clay caught up with her in seconds.
        “What are you doing here?” she asked, taking a step backwards. She lost her balance and landed smack on her behind on the dry cleaning she’d just picked up. Mortified that she’d probably flashed him a good view of her lace panties, she grasped the hem of her short skirt and yanked it down to cover her thighs.
        Clay helped her up. “I work here, remember? Laila told me you canceled because you weren’t feeling well, so I came by to check on you.”
        Goose bumps teased her arm where Clay’s warm, steady hand held her. “Laila told you where I live?” she asked incredulously.
        “She didn’t have to. I know all the tenants’ names.” Still holding her arm, he gently pulled her closer. “Why did you stand me up tonight?” His low, rough-edged voice made her nerves tingle.
        Stepping back from Clay’s unsettling nearness, she winced when pain jabbed her foot. “Ouch. I must’ve twisted my foot when I fell down. My head hurts, too,” she added, so he wouldn’t think she’d made it up. “Didn’t Laila tell you I have a migraine?” She walked to her door, trying not to put pressure on her sore foot.
        “That’s what she said, but you don’t look sick to me.” Clay got to the door before she did and waited, with crossed arms and a challenging look in his intense, dark eyes. “What’s going on?”
        Marisol sighed. Clay didn’t look like he planned on budging from the door until she gave him some answers. “Well, if you must know, the weirdo called me again after you left. I called the police, but nobody there took me seriously. Apparently, the anonymous caller hasn’t done anything illegal until he threatens bodily harm.”
        A muscle ticked in Clay’s jaw. “Unfortunately, it’s true. Even though aggravated stalking is considered a felony in Florida, sending flowers and notes doesn’t constitute a crime unless there’s proof that the person is out to physically harm you.”
        “You sound like the detective I talked to,” she muttered. “Anyway, after that depressing bit of information, I regretted accepting your dinner invitation so impulsively.” She paused and studied his impassive face. “I decided to ask the doorman about you first.”
        “How did I check out?”
        “Pretty good, considering you’re new, but you’ll still have to prove yourself,” she said lightly.
        Clay gave a muffled snort.
        Marisol smiled. “Actually, Alan raved so much about your qualifications, I couldn’t shut him up.”
        “Alan’s a good guy. Aren’t you going to open your door?” he inquired calmly.
        Marisol’s hand fumbled inside her handbag. “I need to clean out this purse.” After a few moments rummaging for her keys, she smiled triumphantly. “Here they are!” When she leaned down to pick up her dry cleaning, her left leg almost buckled when she put weight on her foot. “Whoops. I’d better get off these heels.”
        “Here, lean on me,” Clay said, picking up her dry cleaning and holding his arm out for her.
        “No, thanks. I’ll take that,” she said, taking the plastic bag from him. She waited for him to leave before she unlocked the door.
        “You can’t even stand without hurting your foot. Let me help you inside and I’ll order pizza for us.”
        Marisol started to say no, but her growling stomach won out. “Okay, but only because Alan vouched for you.” She braced her weight on her uninjured foot and opened the door. “Come in.”
        Clay folded the dry cleaning over one arm, and then lifted her in his arms and effortlessly carried her inside.
        “Hello? Aren’t you overdoing it a bit? I can walk you know,” she protested, even though the ride in his strong arms made her pulse race. God, he smelled delicious—the heady mixture of evergreen and maleness sent lusty shivers skittering through her. Her face was close to Clay’s lean jaw and she was sorely tempted to run her finger along the groove next to his mouth just to see it deepen into a dimple. What a beautifully sculpted mouth, she thought, perfect for slow, deep kisses…

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White lies and Second chances with humor

NO MORE LIES, Sweet and Spicy, with a sprinkle of humor, 99 cents, http://tinyurl.com/3lenmfd

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To write NO MORE LIES, I asked my sister, a psychiatrist, for help. She refused to talk about her cases but handed me two big volumes of psychiatric cases. “Here, read these, and if you have any questions, let me know.” Apparently, she was serious and expected me to read the medical jargon.

Honestly, I enjoyed the reading and couldn’t believe there were so many nut cases in the world. I chose the lighter ones, those that could be funny in a romance.

NO MORE LIES is based on a real case. The story’s theme revolves around a famous saying by Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”

Successful physician and loving mother, Dr. Olivia Crane has no problem listening to the most complicated cases of abuse, but deep down, Olivia fiercely believes youthful mistakes should be kept secret and skeletons are better left in closets. A little white lie can bring a smile while the truth may deeply hurt those she loves.

 When the visiting physician from France strolls into her office, with open arms and a confident smile, her perfect control is about to crumble. He’s Dr. Luc George, the man she loved ten years ago. Should she return his scorching kisses, or should she lock her door before he digs into her many secrets?

Secret daughter, secret friend, secret enemy. Had Luc really known his sweet Olivia back then? He wants her back, but he wants the truth too.


Olivia loved her mother to death, but at the moment she wanted to scream her frustration at her beaming Mama. It was obvious Marianna Crane had fallen in love with Luc the moment she’d seen him, or more precisely at the very minute he bent over and kissed the back of her hand with an “Enchanté, madame.”

 “I’m delighted to meet you, Luc. Please have a seat. Where have I put my glasses? Melissa, bring the tray of hors d’oeuvres from the kitchen. Olivia, can you serve the drinks? Luc, what can I get you?”

 Mama bustled with energy, the way she always did before starting a new project. Seeing her fussing around Luc, Olivia was afraid to guess the name of the new project—her mother’s ongoing goal.

 But Olivia was too tired to protest or interfere. Two hours ago, when she’d voiced her panic at the possibility of losing Melissa’s love, Luc had cut short their session. He’d told her she needed to relax now that she’d exteriorized her real fear. They’d continue next week.

 “May I help with the drinks?” Luc offered.

 “Of course. Make yourself at home,” Mama purred.

 Dropping onto one of the overstuffed chairs of the old-fashioned living room, Olivia rested a moment. She liked coming home to her mother’s. The warm aroma of potpourri soothed her rattled nerves. Tonight, the garlic and nutmeg smell of Mama’s masterpiece roast emanated from the kitchen. Her mother had sharpened her tools to conquer their guest.

 Olivia recognized the symptoms. Good dinner, good drinks, good stories. Luc wasn’t going to leave unscathed tonight, not when her mother wanted Luc’s heart for her daughter.

 Mama turned toward her. Eyes narrowed, she signaled to Olivia to follow her into the office. “I need you for a second,” Marianna ordered with a you-failed-big-time look.

 Olivia braced herself for the worst.

 As soon as they stepped into the office, Mama closed the glass double doors behind her, spun around to face Olivia and pointed to the door. “This Luc, is he the French boy you dated when you were in med school?”

 Mama’s scowl promised her lecture was going to be worse than Olivia had expected.

 “And you sent him packing? And you let us believe he was no good? Olivia, are you crazy or what?” Marianna snatched a chocolate from a crystal bowl and popped it into her mouth.

 “Mom!” Olivia scowled and took a step toward the door.

 “Oh no. I have to tell you what I think. Madonna mia, you are a great doctor, but as a smart woman…phht.” Her mother cut the air with her hand. “Any uneducated Italian girl would know that when she meets such a handsome, nice, good-mannered…” Her mother paused for a second to catch her breath and launched again. “Intelligent, famous, wealthy…” She stopped, at a loss for adjectives, and glanced toward the living room for more inspiration.

 “Mom, I get your point.”

 “I’m not finished. He came back. Now you have a second chance. Don’t lose it, girl. For once, listen to your mother and keep him. You understand, Olivia?” Mama threw another chocolate into her mouth and chewed on it, and then clucked her tongue. “Bambina.” Her mother stood on tiptoe to pat her cheek. “Grab him without hesitation.” She tugged at Olivia’s hand and walked toward the door. “I’ll be watching you tonight. I’ll keep Melissa out of the way, and I want to see some action.”

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