‘Where Hearts Meet’ by Maureen Driscoll

Thank you to the wonderful Melanie Friedman at Bookworm2bookworm!

bookworm2bookworm's Blog

whm mdSTORY: Arabella Warren has been trying to find employment as a governess for several months. But after having to leave numerous households for unsavory reasons, she has found it next to impossible to attain a position in a decent home. Then she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for a widower seeking a wife to help care for his two children. She sets out to convince the man that he needs a governess, not a wife, and that she would be the perfect lady for the job.

Jonathan Graves still grieves the loss of his wife, even as he tries to create a happy home for his five-year-old twins. Knowing he will never love again, he believes the best solution is to enter into a marriage of convenience. His children will have a stepmother and he can go on loving the woman who passed away. But he is not prepared…

View original post 240 more words

Book Tag

The incredible Melanie Friedman at Bookworm2Bookworm.wordpress.com challenged me to a book tag post.  Before I go on to do that, I want to commend her for being my very patient, very insightful editor.  My  books are much better because of her.  And her blog is terrific.

She heard about book tag from Addicted to Romance, then tagged me.  Here are the questions, which really made me think:

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Pride and Prejudice.  It’s my favorite book of all time, the one I’ve re-read the most and one I’ll never tire of.  I also love both the Colin Firth and Keira Knightley film versions.

What is your current read, your last read and the book you’ll read next?

I’m cheating on this a bit, giving you the answer which was true when I was first tagged Saturday morning.  My last book was re-reading Candace Camp’s A Gentleman Always Remembers.  It’s part of her Willowmere series and sublime.  All three books are truly amazing.  They’re Regency and about four American sisters who come to England in search of their cousins.  I love this series.  If you haven’t read them, please do so immediately.

The current book (at the time I got this) is Lisa Kleypas’s book Devil in Spring in her Ravenal series, but it’s also a distant relative of her wonderful Wallflower series since the hero is the son of one of the Wallflowers.  I was a little nervous going into the book, because while Lisa Kleypas has been one of my all-time favorite authors, she, uh, did a few clunkers in recent years.  But this was great, though it kinda went in an odd direction about two-thirds of the way through the book.  But I loved it enough that I’ll be reading the rest of the Ravenels.  And, again, if you’ve never read the Wallflowers, put them on your list.

The next book (which I’m actually reading now) is Stephanie Laurens’s The Lady by his Side.  I was really, REALLY nervous to read this, but since it’s about Devil Cynster’s son and the Earl of Chillingworth’s daughter, I knew I had to read it.  And, while I’m only about halfway through, it’s great.  The reason I was nervous is because even though two of the top five romance novels I’ve ever read have been written by Stephanie Laurens (Devil’s Bride and Captain Jack’s Woman), her novels have become a bit repetitive, not just in repeating plotlines, but in making the love scenes way too long in kind of an over-the-top manner.  But so far, this book is more like the originals.

What book did everyone like but you hated?

The Devil in the White City.  It’s the non-fiction account of two historical events happening at the same time:  the Chicago World’s Fair and the killing spree of America’s first serial killer H.H. Holmes.  I checked it out from the library and returned it when it was due, only halfway through.  This book needed an editor.  WAY too much minutia.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but you probably won’t?

Hillbilly Elegy.  It’s a non-fiction look at the U.S. political landscape of the last election.  I checked it out and back it went.  All my friends say it’s great, but….

What book are you saving for retirement?

I don’t think I’ll put off reading anything, but I know one thing I’ll be re-reading:  The Harry Potter series.  I love those books so much.

Last page:  read it first or save til the end?

Read it first, though that doesn’t happen as much now that I do most of my reading via Kindle.  But I don’t like surprises, which is one reason I can’t get into watching sports.

Acknowledgement:  waste of paper and ink or interesting aside?

As a writer, it’s vital because there are so many people to thank.  As a reader, I only read it if I really liked the book.

Which book character would you switch places with?

I don’t think any, though I’ve certainly read Bridget Jones so often I think I am her.  If I could be one of the heroines in one of my books, I think it’d be either Rosalind, Liam Kellington’s wife or Ava, Colin Emerson’s wife.

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

Probably Bridget Jones’s Diary, which I first got while I was still dealing with my divorce.

Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Nothing really comes to mind, other than I’ve had a couple boyfriends who gave me “deep” books in hopes of making me read more serious material.  It didn’t work either time.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I was a volunteer at a hospice in a nursing home and gave away all the books I’d written to the really lovely lady who was married to one of the patients I got to know.  She gave me the best compliment I’ve ever received when she said she loved escaping into the books for a while.  I think that’s what books can do for all of us.  Who doesn’t want/need that from time to time?

Which has been with you most places?

Pride and Prejudice.

Any required reading that you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

All of Shakespeare, particularly the dramas.  While I almost never listen to books on tape (I just don’t comprehend that way), I listened to King Lear in college while reading along and it brought me to great sobbing tears.

Used or band new?

I am paranoid about picking up bedbugs, so brand new.

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Yes.  The DaVinci Code.  He’s a great storyteller with terrific pacing.  But every once in a while I would pull back and remind myself I didn’t really care what kind of relationship Jesus and Mary Magdalene had.  But then I’d get sucked in again.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

The fifth Harry Potter book, The Order of the Phoenix.  He was so irritating in the book,  but the movie was dark and wonderful.

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

I am the opposite of a foodie.  So, no.

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Melanie Friedman!

Is there a book outside your comfort zone you ended up loving?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  It’s set in World War II America (one of my favorite eras).  It’s wonderful, funny and heartbreaking.  I loved it, but will likely never read it again.  Heartbreaking isn’t something I’m fond of.

Okay, now I get to do the tagging….

Felicia Denise at Feliciadenise.com

Danielle Gorman from Ramblings from this Chick (ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com)

John Heldt at johnheldt.blogspot.com

Those are all terrific blogs.  Please check them out!

‘Never and Always’ by Maureen Driscoll — bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

STORY: Return to the world of the Kellington and Emerson families in this Regency romance collection of three novellas. Leticia Emerson, Violet Kellington and Anna Emerson have been friends most of their lives. Little did they know a visit from three Eton school boys would change everyone’s lives for the better. Fifteen-year-old Lord Wesley Addington […]

via ‘Never and Always’ by Maureen Driscoll — bookworm2bookworm’s Blog

The Post Below

Damn, I’m really bad at blogging.  The post below was not written by me, but I thought it was really interesting.  While I didn’t vote for Trump, I want the best for our country and hope he can work with Congress to help solve our problems.

This has been a very trying election.  I hope we can all heal.  A good start would be to remember and thank our Veterans because November 11 is upon us.   To those of you who served, thank you.

Peace.

Security

peephole

 

I received three emails from WordPress in the past 12 hours saying someone is trying to change my WordPress password.  That was unsettling, since it wasn’t me.  So, if something odd/super offensive gets posted here that’s probably why.  I say probably because I’m rather odd and super offensive, so there’s a possibility it’s me.  Unless it’s one of these categories:  Racist:  not me.  Likes cats:  not me.  Helpful in the kitchen:  definitely not me.

I hope that clears it up.

I was also awakened in the middle of the night a couple weeks ago by someone ringing my doorbell and pounding on the door.  While my first thought was ghosts/demons trying to steal my soul, my second guess was evil in its human form.  I tiptoed out to the door.  A floorboard creaked (old hardwood floors can be a pain in the butt), and the person outside moved.  I called 911 since this is Burbank and not Los Angeles.  I felt silly saying someone was at my door and to please come right away.  I waited with cell phone in hand and took the time to find sturdy slippers (I can never find the right shoes for any occasion in less than 15 minutes so this saved time) and glasses.

The police showed up a few minutes later (again, this is Burbank and not LA).  They checked the yard and said they ran into spiderwebs — I hate that — which means whoever it was hadn’t tried to go in the backyard.  Which is good.  Their best guess was it was a drunk who came to the wrong house, which is not an uncommon experience on the Monday night of a three-day weekend.

Mystery solved, sort of.  I couldn’t go back to bed, of course, so I stayed up watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix, wondering if the doorbell had been rung by a drunk, a bad guy or a ghost/demon.

My point is it’s unsettling to assume everything is fine, then someone wakes you up in the middle of the night or tries to get into your WordPress account.  Or, of much greater urgency, places a few bombs to make us all scared.

I think we need to counter it all with strength and coffee.

Be safe.

 

 

On Keeping Promises to Yourself

 

I recently turned 53 and crossed off my first official Bucket List item by going to Paris.  I had lived in Switzerland as an exchange student after high school and had traveled around Italy and southern France during that year.  But I hadn’t been back to Europe since 1982 and I’d never been to Paris.  I’ve been saying for years that I would go “some day,” but one thing about 53 is you’ve already seen enough people die and others be stricken with life changing illness that a part of you knows that “some day” won’t happen unless you make it happen.

Money has been tight since forever, and even when I started having a little extra, Paris seemed like an extravagance.  And I don’t do extravagance.  But then I found out my host father from Switzerland was dying and I knew it was time to go.  Unfortunately, he passed away before I got there, which was another reminder that you shouldn’t keep putting things off.

I went on the trip alone, other than seeing my host sister during a quick visit to Zurich.  I learned that 19 1/2 years in Los Angeles left me completely unprepared for a March winter. And I also figured out that it’s always good to do things which scare you — because as the trip I’d planned for nine months drew nearer I was absolutely terrified.  But, similar to the cross-country trip from DC to LA I’d undertaken twenty years earlier after my divorce, this journey helped me transition into a new phase in life.  Not one of slowing down and thinking of retirement, but making priorities and figuring out what to tackle next.

Please do yourself a favor and plan to do one thing you’ve always wanted to this year.  It really is good for the soul.

 

Alan Rickman and David Bowie

Tags

,

Some celebrity deaths hit harder than others.  This week, I felt like friends had died when I heard the news that David Bowie and Alan Rickman had passed.  If there’s anything we can learn from both men it’s to live life without fear.

Being a romance writer had never been in my plans.  But when I lost my job at the end of 2008, I started reading romance novels as a way to escape from a world that wasn’t hiring me.  Then the idea for the Kellington series popped into my head and I began writing the first one.

After being rejected by every major publisher in New York, I decided to self-publish on my agent’s recommendation.  I was scared and embarrassed since I thought everyone would think I wasn’t good enough to be published. That was back in 2011, when self-publishing was still thought of as that thing eccentric people did (guilty!).  But in the end, I began telling people. My friends were great about it and my frenemies were quiet enough that I didn’t hear too much ridicule.

I couldn’t afford to care about the naysayers because I was in desperate shape financially. So, the decision to self-publish wasn’t brave as much as necessary.  I needed to do something to bring in some income.

As I neared 50 and had a (drunken) life evaluation one night, I decided it was time to mourn the things that would never come to be — like having children — but pursue the things which could still happen.  For me, it was my first love, acting.  I was living in Los Angeles and working part-time in an office with an understanding boss who would allow me to take time off for auditions.  Provided I got any.  I knew the odds were against me but I really didn’t want to wake up at 60 and wonder why I hadn’t tried.

Pursuing an acting career at 50 was a really tough thing to announce to the world on Facebook and I’m sure a lot of people made fun of me.  Three years later, I still haven’t booked anything major, but I’ve never had this much fun.  I’ve also learned that hearing no isn’t the worst thing that can happen professionally.  And I hear it a lot.  It’s better than looking on from the sidelines wishing I were brave enough to give it a go.

Both David Bowie and Alan Rickman were incredibly talented.  They were bound to make it.  If we take anything away from their deaths, besides the fact cancer is the fucking worst, it’s the power of being brave.  David Bowie continually reinvented himself, taking huge chances along the way and always being true to who he was.  Alan Rickman had a terrific theater career before he exploded in America as everyone’s favorite German bank robber.  (To this day, I smile at the “Nakatomi” building every time I drive by.)  Alan Rickman’s acting career as a middle-aged man demonstrated that you should never think the best times are behind you.

Plus, they were both smoking hot.

I once read an article that said the secret to happiness as an adult was to think about what you loved doing as a kid/teenager, then do that in some form as a grown-up.  Not everyone has the luxury of pursuing their own dreams professionally when they have others to care for.  But, in the end, my loss of not having had children gave me the freedom to pursue my dreams professionally.  And one day I’ll think about the whole “when God shuts a door, He opens a window thing” but I’ve already cried enough so it won’t be today.

Please find the time to do that thing you loved doing as a kid or you adore now.  Life is incredibly short and you have to take the opportunities to make yourself happy.

Be brave.  And think about the inspiration of Alan Rickman and David Bowie.

 

 

 

 

 

My Uncluttered Life

Tags

, , , ,

For the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I cleaned my apartment from top to bottom (pretty much).  I dreaded doing the bookcase because that would mean parting with books. Books!

Now I buy mostly e-books, but I’d accumulated quite a few paperbacks over the years and I knew some had to go.  It gave new meaning to Keeper Shelf.  Here’s the bookcase:

20160111_162309

I should point out that’s the “after.”  It’s the best I could do after purging, holding on to each book as I weighed its emotional value.  I kept some mediocre books (like some of Stephanie Laurens’s lesser Cynsters), which got shoved in the hard-to-reach back tier.  And I put the ones I reach for again and again in front, like Mary Balogh’s Slightly series, as well as Candace Camp’s Willowmere.

The rest were put in a sack that I’ll take to my mom’s.

Eventually.

For now, I like thinking they’re still in my apartment, within reach.  Because I have a sentimental attachment to books that got me through some very sad times.  And that’s how it should be.

I should also point out that those are battery-operated LED candles.  Because if there’s one person who’s capable of catching her bookshelf on fire with candles, it’s me.