About Brianna’s Season for Miracles by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Man and woman embracing in the winter snow forms the Cover art of Brianna's Season for Miracles by Joan ReevesI’m happy today is my turn to tell you about Brianna’s Season for Miracles, my book in the wonderful Love, Christmas 2 Holiday Romance Collection.

Brianna’s Season for Miracles is a sequel in every way I suppose since it is a sequel to Last Christmas, Book 1 of my Small Town Texas Romance series which appeared in the all first Love, Christmas Collection: Songs of the Heart.

Brianna Walker was introduced in Love, Christmas 1, and she was–well, let’s say she wasn’t a very nice woman. In fact, just about everyone in the small town of New Estacado disliked her.

Redeeming a Hated Character

I actually received email about Brianna after Last Christmas came out. Everyone hated her. When I decided to make her the heroine of my romance for Love, Christmas 2 Holiday Romance Collection, I knew I had a tough job ahead.

I wanted my romance for LC2 to be an homage to one of my favorite Christmas movies, Season for Miracles. At first, I thought it would be a miracle if I could make Brianna liked and understood, but I knew the underlying truth about Brianna: why she acted the way she did and what her facade hid from the world.

I don’t want to spoil what I built up in the story to be a surprise, but I will tell you why I chose to write this kind of story. Because so many people have something they’ve struggled with all their lives–something they’re hesitant to confess except to the closest of friends. Sometimes this something is so shameful IN THEIR OPINION that they don’t want anyone to know.

Some Secrets Can Damage

The more powerful the secret; the more it rules one’s life.

In Brianna’s mind, her secret is the bane of her existence. She’s always done everything she could to hide it.

Even when she finally confronts the issue and does something about it, she still feels the need to hide. She still sees herself as this imperfect woman.

Like many smart people, Brianna found ways to cope that don’t reflect who she really is, but she finally realizes the woman the world knows is not her authentic self.

Last Christmas was the last straw for Brianna Walker. She hated her life and decided if she wanted her life to be different, she had to change. She ditched her so-called friends and the seductive persona she hid behind. She knew changing her habits and behavior patterns wouldn’t “fix” her, but she had to start somewhere.

When her father demands she come home for the holidays, she’s afraid she’ll revert to old habits to deal with social situations that always terrified her. Then she meets Daniel Kelly.

His warmth and kindness—qualities she’d never found in any of the men she’d dated—attract her. To her surprise, she finds his intelligence, courtesy, and niceness enormously appealing—and sexy. She usually avoids men like him for fear she might want forever out of the relationship. Daniel would never want forever with her if he truly knew her, but knowing that doesn’t stop her from falling for him.

Daniel already knows the secret Brianna is hiding. He also knows he shouldn’t complicate the situation he’s in, but the attraction between them is hot and sizzling.
What will happen when Brianna realizes Daniel has a secret too?

This was a hard story to write, but I really loved the characters and it seems readers do too. I hope you’ll love it and all the other stories in Love, Christmas 2 Holiday Romance Collection.Favorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook

Our Gift to You

Remember, to pick up your free copy of Favorite Holiday Recipes. Each recipe appeared in one of our books in Love, Christmas 2.

Thanks, Readers, for helping us hit the USA Today Bestsellers list with Love, Christmas 2 Holiday Romance Collection.

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Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house in the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch, stare at the big night sky, and listen to the coyotes howl. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan’s Blog, SlingWords.

A New Christmas Story Based on the Movie, “The Holiday”

My husband, Walt, and I lived in Hawaii for five years while we were both teaching school. We lived on the island of Oahu, near Waikiki, but neither of us enjoyed water sports very much, so we did a lot of hiking along the mountain ridges there. We bought a topographical map so we could find the trails. Many of the trailheads were semi-hidden, and if we missed one, we just walked along until we came across the trail further up the mountain. Once on the top ridges, the trails were worn so deep into the soil that a foot-high lip formed on each side. The mountainside often dropped away straight down, and sometimes not quite as steep, which is the side we came up on. During the wet season, these trails got muddy and slippery.

Once we had a group of friends who wanted to hike with us, so we took them on a trail we hadn’t hiked before. When we didn’t find the trailhead, we went straight up the mountain, knowing the trail cut across it. Halfway up, Walt, who was in the lead, stopped and said something like, “We might find the trail before we get to the top.” The others were all complaining as they pulled themselves up the steep slope by hanging onto the vegetation. They figured we were lost and wanted to turn back. I remember their surprise, as each in turn put their hands on the trail, then pulled themselves up to where Walt was standing, loudly wondering how much further the trail was. The last one looked around and said, “Here’s the trail. What are you guys talking about?”

We took our Australian collie on the trails, and when we were leading groups and got separated, Walt would send her back to me, then I sent her to him. It gave him some estimation of how far his group was ahead of mine.

Sometimes we spent the night on a wide spot in a trail. We took newspapers with us. The newspapers went under us, our jackets over us, and the dog in between as a heater. One Thanksgiving, we spent the night above a naval air station, which we found out later was off limits.

Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, but they do have mongoose. On one hike we met a mongoose running along the trail towards us, its nose to the ground, sniffing as it ran. About ten feet away it spotted us, and instantly dropped off the trail on the almost vertical side, out of sight. It moved so silently, we couldn’t tell where it had gone, and could just hope it was ok. Earlier, we had come across a wild hog. When it saw us, it also jumped off the trail, but we could hear it, like a rolling boulder, crashing through the underbrush, sounding like it bounced all the way to the bottom.

The Hawaiian Islands are a great holiday destination, and I chose them for the scene of my new book, The Holiday (Christmas). It is based upon the movie, “The Holiday,” where two women swap houses. I put the houses in Seattle and Maui. I put a puppy in it, belonging to the man who also ended up at the Maui home, and based the pup’s description on a dog my grandson owns, named General Washington.

I really enjoyed writing The Holiday, a modern Trahern novella. It is part of the new Love, Christmas 2 collection, now on sale for 99¢. Thanks to our many eager readers, this set skyrocketed into the top 100 on the USA Today bestselling list.

Did you know we are running a giveaway? Are you interested in winning a gift card or a free book? Click here to find out more details on this month’s contest.

Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.
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Kissy, Kissy by @JoanReeves #mgtab

The First Kiss is very important in a romance novel—actually, all kisses are important to a Romance Author. They’re important in real life too, aren’t they?

A kiss has been called many things through the years. In years past, people called a kiss a buss, i.e., buss her on the cheek.

Whether you call it kiss, smack,  buss, or kissy kissy—defined by Urban Dictionary as, “A cute way to say it would be nice to kiss you because I want to”—kisses are a lot more popular today than they were centuries ago.

Hard To Believe

Most of the world never heard of kissing until the beginning of European exploration of the rest of the world. Explorers tried to kiss the indigenous people of the countries they entered. According to many journals, native people either endured it or ran in terror.

As late as the 19th century, the Chinese thought kissing was perverted. Some even thought it expressed cannibalistic tendencies. According to one journal, when a nonkissing African tribe first saw two Europeans kissing intimately, they laughed hysterically.

Of course, there were some exceptions. The Kama Sutra had an entire chapter on The Kiss.

Subject of Songs

The Kiss figures prominently in popular songs: This Kiss, Kiss on My List, Shut Up and Kiss Me, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, Kiss an Angel Good Morning, Kiss and Say Goodbye, Shoop Shoop Song aka It’s In His Kiss, I Wanna Kiss You All Over, Sealed With a Kiss, and Kiss From a Rose just to name a few.

The Things We Kiss

Dice and lottery tickets for luck. The Blarney Stone for eloquence.  The Pop’s ring as a sign of obedience and respect. The Pope kisses the ground when he arrives in a new country. People kiss their dogs and cats.

Parents kiss a child’s boo boo to make it better. We kiss those we love—best friends, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, and lovers.

The First Kiss in Romance NovelsCover Art for Brianna Season of Miracles and Love, Christmas 2

In my latest romance, Brianna’s Season for Miracles, written for the Love, Christmas 2: Movies You Love Holiday Collection, Brianna wants to kiss the hero, but she resists. She has a really good reason for her reluctance which you’ll learn when you read my story.

So sprinkle a little Christmas magic into your life with 26 brand new, never-before-released romances and order your copy today!

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Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house in the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch, stare at the big night sky, and listen to the coyotes howl. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan’s Blog, SlingWords.

Valentino: Worldwide Sex Symbol by @JoanReeves #mgtab

Photo of Rudolph ValentinoAllow me to introduce you to the world’s first worldwide sex symbol, Rudoph Valentino.

He was the silent movie hero who made women all over the world pant and swoon.

Today is Valentino Day which commemorates his death on August 23, 1926. That should give you an idea of the influence this man’s life and death had on the world.

If you don’t know of this dark-haired Italian with the piercing gaze, ask your grandmother or great-grandmother.

Paved the Way for Today’s Alpha Hero

It’s not such a reach to say he was the model for all of the alpha male heroes that appeared on the cover of those early romance novels. You know, the heaving bosoms and thrusting loin covers that made romance authors cringe.

Actually, looking at the most popular romance covers today, the shirtless, muscled chest (far more spectacular than Valentino’s) still rules the cover wars.

I didn’t know Rudolph Valentino had a day commemorating his death until I was looking at one of those “Today in History” websites. The fact that he does have a day dedicated to his memory is testament of his influence on popular culture in his era.

The Brooding Hero Sex Symbol

The silent film era hero was born in Italy as Rudolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Piero Filibert Guglielmi De Valentina D’Antonguolla. That’s a mouthful.

He starred in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and Son of the Sheik. Women cinema-goers fell in love with Valentino’s portrayal of the alpha male hero. In today’s world, we would consider him a misogynist at best.

The Sheik book cover

Still available on Amazon & other booksellers, ebook & print.

The Sheik, a 1919 novel by E. M. Hull (Edith Maude Henderson Hull), was a huge worldwide bestseller so women were ready for a visual representation of the man. Cast as the Sheik of the international bestseller, Valentino breathed life into the the brooding alpha hero.

If you’ve ever read the book, then you know that the sheik rapes the heroine repeatedly. She broods on how much she hates him and eventually manages to escape. She is recaptured by him. As they ride back to camp, she comes to the sudden realization that she is in love with him!

Gag me with a spoon! Although the language from that era is restrained and the rapes happen “off screen,” the idea is abhorrent to me. The book is not my idea of a romance, but it’s certainly a picture of gender roles and attitudes about sexuality of that era.

Valentino’s portrayal firmly entrenched the desert romance or sheik romance, as a popular trope in romance fiction that is still mined today. Fortunately, most contemporary books using this trope in various guises eliminate the rape part of the scenario.

Who Was Edith Hull?

Anonymous drawing of Edith Hull, courtesy of Wikipedia

Edith Hull

Ms. Hull wrote several more novels with desert settings. They were some of the most popular commercial fiction of that era. I’ve heard several popular romance authors of today cite The Sheik as the most romantic book they ever read. The book is still being reprinted and sold. You can find it on Amazon if you’re interested.

Mrs. Hull began writing when her husband, a civil engineer and later a prize-winning pig farmer, was serving in World War I. The Sheik was actually her first book and was published in England in 1919. It quickly became an international bestseller. Publishers Weekly listed it as a top ten best seller in America for 1921 and 1922.

Gasp! How Many Books Sold?

Photo of pile of books

CC0 License: pexels.com, Pile of covered books #159751

The book sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide. Just think about that. This was an era without television, internet, social media, etc. Those sales came mostly from word of mouth–woman reader to woman reader.

Sales increased even more when Paramount released the movie version in 1921. That sent Rudolph Valentino into immortality–the Latin Lover, the greatest “lover” of the silent screen as he was proclaimed.

By 1923, the novel had published well over 100 editions. Sales surpassed all other best-sellers combined! Her novel wasn’t the first desert romance. Robert Smythe Hichens and Kathlyn Rhodes had broken ground with the desert romance genre, but Hull’s book proved to be the most popular and influenced romance writers who hadn’t even been born yet.

Stacks of gold coins

Public Domain Pictures

Ms. Hull continued to write into the 1930s, and her 1925 novel The Sons of the Sheik was also a tremendous success.

Ditto for the film version Son of the Sheik, which again starred Valentino.

Later in life, Ms. Hull said her only regret was that she had sold the film rights for her novels for too little money. (Sounds like a familiar complaint.)

Back to Valentino aka Mr. Sexy

Grayscale photo of multi-storied building

Photo (CC0) by Eneida Nieves from Pexels

Valentino had applied for American citizenship shortly before his death. On August 15, 1926, he collapsed at a Park Avenue hotel in Manhattan and was hospitalized.

Doctors determined he had appendicitis and gastric ulcers and operated immediately. After that, perforated ulcers mimicking appendicitis were referred to as Valentino’s Syndrome. Then he developed peritonitis.

His condition continued to deteriorate until he developed pleurisy. His doctors knew he wasn’t going to make it. Back then, it was common practice not to tell the patient or family or anyone that news. It’s said on the day he died, he briefly became conscious and talked with the doctors about his future. Then he lapsed into a coma and died a few hours later at the age of 31.

Women Committed Suicide!!!

Black and white photo of griefstricken woman

CC0 Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Upon notice of his death, mass hysteria ensued, greater than happens today upon the untimely passing of an iconic celebrity.

A crowd of over 100,000 people lined the streets of Manhattan to pay their respects at his funeral. Suicides of despondent fans were reported. The next day a riot broke out that required most of the NYPD to control it, and police had to line the streets for the remaining days of the viewing.

After a funeral mass in Manhattan on August 30, his body was transported by train to California where another funeral was held in Beverly Hills. Want to know more about Valentino and his effect on popular culture? Read this.

Today’s Alpha Hero

In our time, the most popular alpha hero is a man who can walk on the wild side yet be a polite gentleman to women.Infographic of Dead Heat cover art and text from reviews

To the woman he loves, he’s tender and protective. If the woman he loves is threatened, then look out. All bets are off. That’s the kind of alpha hero I love to read about and write about.

John Galloway, the hero in my romantic thriller Dead Heat is that kind of alpha male–a Navy SEAL who will do whatever it takes to protect those he loves.

Post Script

As you swoon over the latest hero in a romance novel, just think–he wouldn’t be there if Edith Hull hadn’t written The Sheik, and Rudolph Valentino hadn’t breathed life into the character with his performance and made the world of women readers and cinema-goers sit up and take notice.

Joan’s Next Book

You’ll find my her next book in the Love, Christmas 2: Movies You Love Holiday Collection.
Infographic of Love Christmas 2 cover artSprinkle a little Christmas magic into your life with 26 ALL-NEW, never before released romances. This collection is available for pre-order now. It’s going to be HUGE so order your copy today!

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VISIT JOAN ONLINE & FOLLOW HER

Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * YouTube * Joan’s Website * Be the first to know about New Books & Giveaways, Bargains, New Books, sign up for Joan’s Mailing List.

Joan Reeves

Joan Reeves—Keeping Romance Alive…One Sexy Book at a Time—is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. From Romantic Comedy to Romantic Thriller, all of her books have the same premise: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after.” Joan lives her happily-ever-after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They divide their time between a book-cluttered home in Houston and a quiet house in the Texas Hill Country where they sit on the porch, stare at the big night sky, and listen to the coyotes howl. Sign up for Joan’s Mailing List and be the first to know about new books and giveaways.

Visit Joan’s Blog, SlingWords.