Cruise with Mona…And Babies

My name is Julia. I was seven months old when my grandparents took us on a cruise. My cousin Olivia and I were the only two babies on the ship.

Cruise muster drills are mandatory safety briefings that all passengers must attend before the ship is allowed to sail. Before sailing, Daddy outfitted me with a life jacket to make sure I would be safe in case of emergency.

On the very first night, Olivia ruined her parents’ dinner by whining, crying, and displaying a high fever—a possible risk when traveling with small children. She paid a visit to the local clinic and was treated with antibiotics.

Here is Olivia crawling through the connecting balconies to come and visit me.

Thankfully, she recovered in no time, enjoyed the rest of the cruise and even managed to celebrate her first birthday on the ship.

Nothing beats a day spent at the beach, on a gorgeous Caribbean Island.

This was our parents’ first cruise too and they were determined to enjoy it. They took several tours, discovering the water fall, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Luckily we had adoring grandparents. While our parents went ashore, Nonno and Nonna spent the day with us, ambled around the ship, each pushing a stroller, or sat at a table around the pool each feeding a baby, or lounged on a deck with a sweetheart in their arms, sucking on a bottle. The passengers would stop by, cooing over us.

We explored the ship with Nonno and Nonna and admired the masterpieces sculpted by the cooks and their helpers.

Around four o’clock, the parents collected their little bundles and got ready for dinner. Before the cruise, Nonna had sent us appropriate sailing outfits and adorable dresses.

Our Mommies took us to the casino where we tried our hands at blackjack and crab, and won big time– I mean won big applause.

On formal night, we put on the pretty dresses Nonna had offered us. We were as pretty as can be.

In the dining room the family was assigned a table for eight in a corner at the end of the huge dining room, as far as possible from the other tables. Two high chairs waited for us with colorful balloons flying above. Several waiters hovered around our table, ready to pick up the forks or spoons, napkins or plastic glasses falling down. Forget about the crumbles carpeting the floor around our high chairs.

Do you know many kids who have the chance to celebrate their first birthday on a cruise? The night we celebrated Olivia’s birthday, the whole crew of waiters and all the passengers sang Happy Birthday, dear Olivia.

Unfortunately everything must come to an end. Our first cruise was so much fun and way too short. Of course, we don’t remember anything but our grandparents swear it was the best cruise of their lives.

WE’RE ALL TOGETHER, (Love Plans Series, book 15)

#Preorder Release Day November 7 —– A generous computer expert, Greg Haynes navigates life without worries or responsibilities. After experiencing pain and betrayal, Heidi Benton focuses on her law studies with one purpose in life, to graduate and get her revenge. The threat of a hurricane hitting the island forces everyone to evacuate and turns Greg and Heidi’s lives upside down, displacing their priorities for the sake of two orphaned children.

The Case for BODICE-RIPPER SEX-ED by Taylor Lee

NEWS FLASH!  We romance writers have been vindicated. According to none other than the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times: “Romance Novels Are The Best Sex-Ed.”

Bodice-Ripper

Seriously, this is a “don’t miss” article. The Sunday New York Times published a sensational article by contributing opinion writer Jennifer Weiner titled: “We Need Bodice-Ripping Sex Ed.” *

The Insightful Jennifer Weiner

In a clever, insightful article Weiner claims that she got a smidgen of information about sex from her well-meaning parents. Another sliver came from junior high sex ed classes that named body parts and detailed all the bad things that can happen to you if you have sex.  (Think hideous diseases and of course, the ultimate curse, pregnancy.) Fortunately for Weiner, like a lot of us, she was a reader.  And what did she read? Yep, you guessed it:  Romance novels.

Weiner throws a bone to the likely readers of the NYT when she concedes:  “The literary establishment doesn’t have much love for women’s fiction, whether it’s romance, erotica or popular novels about love and marriage.”  She adds, “Romance novels come in for an extra helping of scorn. Critics sneer that they’re all heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods, unrealistic, poorly written and politically incorrect.”

Not so, says Weiner.

In the central theme of the article she insists as an information-hungry teenager, the romance novels she read, “for all their soft core covers and happily-ever-after’s, were quietly and not so quietly subversive. They taught readers that sexual pleasure was something women could not just hope for but insist upon.  Also, they shaped my interactions with boys and men. They helped make me a feminist.”

WOW! True vindication for those of us as teenagers who hid in the closet gobbling up everything from Gone With the Wind (You know the scene on the stairs when Rhett apparently has his way with a blushing Scarlet…) to  Judith Krantz, to Erica Jong etc., etc. Without understanding that we were being “brainwashed”, we romance readers came to believe that female pleasure was a must, something that we should insist upon.

Weiner explains, “Because these books were written for and consumed by women, female pleasure was an essential part of every story. Villains were easy to spot: they were the ones who left a woman “burning and unsatisfied.” She cites “Shirley Conran’s “LACE” that features a heroine telling her feckless husband that she used an egg-timer to determine how long it took her to achieve orgasm on her own and that she’d be happy to teach him what to do.” Weiner adds with what I’m sure was a grin, ”At 14, I never looked at hard- boiled eggs the same way again.”

The author gets political

Weiner takes her argument in favor of romance novels into the political issue of the day, the #me Too Movement.  She quotes Bea Koch, the co-owner of the Ripped Bodice bookstore who says, “Romance novels teach readers that all partners are equal participants in a sexual relationship….In some instances it can be a literal roadmap for how to bring up difficult topics with a partner. They give a roadmap to people wanting to experiment with their sexuality, or even get on touch with what they want and need in a sexual relationship.”

Are romance novels “just porn” as so many reviewers sniff?  Given the rampant availability of porn, that is a worthwhile question to ask.  One recent study found that “79 percent of men and 76 percent of women look at a pornographic website at least every month, another that three out of 10 men in that age group were daily viewers.” In contrast, those of us who read and write about a range of intimacy know that while “sex might be easy, relationships are hard.” Comparing romance novels to porn, Weiner says, “The book has the ability to paint a deeper picture. A 400 page novel can teach you more about relationships that any X-rated clip.”

Equal Empowerment

In the current climate where so many people, men and women, are wrestling with crossed wires and mixed signals, Weiner concludes, “If we want men and women equally empowered to form real connection, to talk honestly and openly about who they are and what they want, there are worse places to start than curling up with a good book.”

Amen.

*This is a repeat of a previous blog. I think it is one of my best. And frankly given the “sneers” we get from the mainstream press, Jennifer Weiner’s insightful and laugh aloud message published on January 21 2018 is worthy of reading again … and again!

P.S. If you like your Bodice Ripper books with no holds barred, check out:

FORBIDDEN: Book 1: Sizzling HOT Detective Series (The Criminal Affairs Collection)

Trust me. These guys and gals don’t need egg-timers.

Forbidden Taylor Lee

•She’d almost erased the memory of the outrageous undercover agent who’d captured her heart while betraying her soul.

•To her horror, the devious man she’d relegated to the ash bin of her tortured pride reappeared. As her commanding officer, no less.

•Certain that he could control his reaction to the renegade detective he’d betrayed, the arrogant agent accepted the command of her elite unit.

•It only took a fusillade of challenging skirmishes to prove that far from being over, their fierce affair was stronger than ever with the power to take them both down.

WARNING: Romance so HOT it singes the pages. HOT, tough, explicit. Not for the faint at heart. Definitely bring a fan!

And while you are at it, gobble up my Author Billboard buddies latest box set:

Irresistible Scrooges … Not Any More

Irresistible Scrooges

 

My book in the series is:

“Nothing Good Happens After Midnight”

Prequel: Bah Humbug

  • The brazen detective crashes the emergency room determined to her question her dying agent
  • The new head of the ER stops her at the door
  • Their antagonism aside, the arrogant physician and the brash detective agree
  • Christmas is the worst holiday of the year

 

Navigating Legends: The Thrilling Tales of Sea Captains in Regency England

Ah, the Regency era! Among the glittering balls and society’s norms, a group of extraordinary men emerged—sea captains. These dashing men sailed the oceans, braving storms and conquering uncharted territories.

Sea Captains

  1. Masters of the Deep: Picture a world without GPS or satellite navigation. That’s the challenge sea captains faced during Regency England. With their trusty compasses and astrolabes, they relied on their innate sense of direction and expert seamanship.
  2. Conquerors of the Unknown: Regency England was a time of exploration. Think of James Cook, whose expeditions to the Pacific expanded our understanding of distant lands. These explorations opened doors to new trade routes.
  3. Legends of Adventure: Sea captains faced pirates and battled raging storms. Horatio Nelson, a revered figure in British naval history, led his fleet to victory in dramatic battles.
  4. Pioneers of National Pride: During the Regency period, Britain was a dominant naval power. Sea captains ensured safe passage for merchant ships, and protected national interests. Their bravery and strategic brilliance in decisive naval conflicts, such as the Battle of Trafalgar, not only secured victory but instilled a sense of pride and unity among the people.
  5. Romantic Figures: Let’s not forget the romance! Sea captains held a certain allure that captivated the hearts of Regency society. Their dashing uniforms made them irresistible to admirers. Jane Austen, the celebrated author, incorporated naval officers in her novels, adding an air of excitement and intrigue.

I have a sweet inspirational Regency romance on a 99 cent Kindle countdown, October 17-24. (US Resident only.)

Seeking Rachel

Seeking Rachel Josie Riviera

When faith is adrift, the heart is the compass leading the way home.

Rachel Lockhart grew up running wild and free with nomadic Gypsy children on her father’s estate. Craving adventure, her imagination conjured up an impossibly perfect, grey-eyed man to share it with.

Now grown, her outspoken ways are about to send her home from London in disgrace. Until she unexpectedly clashes with an impossibly perfect, grey-eyed man. And the back of her mind echoes with God’s promise: I will not leave you comfortless. As if she’d find comfort with a man as arrogant as Nash Browning.

Broken by too many sea battles, soul-sick from recent loss, Nash doesn’t even know where to begin to search for his lost faith. It certainly isn’t among the addle-brained females of the ton. But when he stumbles upon an enticing masterwork of contrasts named Rachel, his weary heart sparks with life.

Is it possible the way back to his faith is with a woman who is honest to a fault, yet fiercely loyal to a shunned people? Can he set a course for a future with her, and trust that God has prepared the way?

Grab your copy today before price goes up.

Available in ebook, paperback, large print paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Settings for my Books

When people ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.”  Every time I discover a new country, a new city or village, beach or mountain, or an ancient civilization, I imagine a lovely American young woman, my heroine, surveying the scenery as a tall, dark and handsome man, living in the area, approaches and exchanges a few words with her. If I feel they have the potential to share a good chemistry, I visualize a few more scenes, grant them life and start my novel in the setting that inspired me.

To Love A Hero   and   Heal my Heart   are set in Belarus where I traveled in the nineties as Project Manager to refurbish laboratories under a contract from the Department of Defense. Both books highlight the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusian officers who sing and toast and make a woman feel like a goddess.

We left for our first trip to Belarus at the end of October. We included: a government person and his interpreter, me, my lab manager and computer specialist.

My two books relate my first impression: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere. The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur hat that is a must over there). I remedied the problem on my first visit to the bazaar where I bought myself the cutesy real mink chapka. I still have it. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. I was often offered vodka instead.

Many of my special stories are related in my books. In To Love A Hero, I even included my fall on the broken escalator of the airport. I was rescued by my lab manager while my heroine fell in the arm of a hero to die for, the handsome Major General Sergei who made her pulse race and stole her heart.

Traveling is not only about visiting monuments and palaces in foreign countries or snapping photos in front of famous landmarks. Traveling opened new horizons, exposed me to different cultures, and introduced me to new languages. Every time I traveled I felt indelibly marked by what I saw, what I heard, even what I smelled. I discovered that the right setting triggers my imagination, sets my muse into action and creates characters for me.

My readers love to take an armchair trip with me to France, [Mother’s Day Babies in Paris, The Missing Statue in the Loire Valley]; to Greece [Her Greek Tycoon set in Mykonos Island]; to Sicily [Husband for a Week]; to Belarus, or enjoy a Mediterranean cruise in Spain and Italy [Honeymoon Cruise].

The whole series of Modern Princes deals with the Princes of Rensy Island. Rensy Island is a fictitious British island in the Channels, so similar to Guernsey.

A setting is not just a place or a time in history. It has its own architecture and colors, the particular noises associated with the area, the scent of the fields, the beach, and the streets.

In my novels, I let the setting mirror the characters’ feelings and use a romantic setting for a special kiss. The top of the Eiffel Tower, with Paris lights sparkling at night, provided an exceptional background for a first kiss in Wright Name, Wrong Man and also in A Bride For Prince Paul.

In Last Chance Plans, I included a trip to Argentina and an unforgettable tango dance that led to a fabulous love scene.

Love on the Slopes and Sunshine Over Snow are set in ski resorts in New Hampshire. In Time For Christmas takes place in airports during a blizzard and We’re All Together in St. John during a hurricane so similar to the hurricanes Wilma and Irma that I personally experienced in Fort Lauderdale. But many other books have stories starting or ending in Florida or St. John Island [Sailing Away Plans  and the whole Love Plans Series] or in small towns in Kentucky, Ohio or Georgia.

I included a war zone in some books—Valentine Babies with the war in Iraq and We’re All Heroes, with a rescue trip to the border of Poland and Ukraine.

Several of my medical romances are set in hospitals and their ORs but the wink of the hero in medical scrub and mask sends delicious tingles to the heroine at the wrong moment and creates the beginning of a romantic scene in a very unromantic place. Babies in the Bargain, Christmas Babies,  On Christmas Eve,   A Complete Family,   We’re All Winners, …

#New Release We’re No Saints

The ghosts from the past destroyed her peace of mind. Can the charming lawyer help her while keeping his own secrets?