The Proposal

Reviewed by: Diana Coyle
Cheri and Blake met five years ago in an ice cream parlor and after instant sparks ignited between them, she took him up on the offer to go back to his hotel room. Since then, they have planned a secret rendezvous place where they have an entire weekend of sizzling hot sex. But just as in the past, they have no communication between each other during the rest of the year. They both look forward to this one weekend a year of pure unbridled pleasure with no strings attached.
Last year when Cheri and Blake were together, he asked her if she would consider marrying him. He didn’t want an answer immediately and was even gracious enough to tell her she can answer him when they met up together a year to the date. He explained that she’d be receiving a package from him days before their next meeting and he’d like to see her wearing whatever will be in the box.
Right on schedule, Cheri receives the gift from Blake that contains beautiful lingerie along with a gorgeous family heirloom necklace. If she decides to wear both when she meets up with Blake, then it will signify to him that she has accepted his marriage proposal. The night finally arrives in which they’ll have another rendezvous together.
The question remains will Cheri be wearing the lingerie along with Blake’s family heirloom necklace? Are they both ready to make this a more serious commitment between each other?
I really enjoyed this short story and loved the author’s voice throughout. Her characters were sexy and easy to fall in love with and the story was rich in details of their sizzling affair together. If you’re looking for a short story that will make you beg for more, than look no further. Well done, Ms. Edwards!
May 13, 2011 | B004QTOR50

This was my first published work. A little novella, around 4000 words. What a nice way to start my writing career. 

Darby York... or is it?

Out of the Closet for a Change of Pace

I came out of the closet in September to members of my e-mail newsletter list. Yes, semi-sweet contemporary author, little old me, is Darby York of Turquoise Morning Press Dirty Bits fame!

I wanted to see if I could do it—write an erotic romance. To do so, I needed a new persona, someone who could help me release the old inhibitions drummed in me as a child of Depression-era parents. So I created Darby. I’ve been told she’s a “facet” of my personality.

I went to the Internet to try to figure out what that might mean. From an article about the “Big 5” Aspects of Personality, I learned that five personality traits have subordinate personality traits (facets) within them. For example, the “agreeableness” trait has the facets of “trust,” “morality,” “altruism,” “cooperation,” “modesty,” and “sympathy.”


All I know is that I enjoyed letting out this new facet of my personality. I’m not sure what the facet is—imagination, fantasy, playfulness . . . whatever.

For my first Dirty Bits short story, The Bridegroom, I selected a Medieval England setting. The middle ages are like a fantasy, but real. I wanted to depict the harshness of the time and the lack of control for women, who required courage just to meet their daily challenges. Hey, that’s like us today, don’t you think?

I also knew my writing “voice” changed when I write a “Medieval.” This time I used a technique made popular by author Phillipa Gregory: first person, present tense. It gives the story immediacy.

In The Bridegroom and The Betrothed, the heroines are forced to marry because they are pawns in their family’s economic game-playing. I’m working on The Troubadour where the heroine responds differently from her “sisters” in the first two stories. I’m sure she will also have a HEA ending too, but she’s going to make different choices getting there.

So, did I succeed in writing erotic romances? The stories are hot for me, but maybe not hot-hot or sizzling. I like what a reader said about them:

Darby York’s short stories are very sensual and erotic with love scenes depicted in such a way that give space to the imagination to do the rest.

Explore the various facets of your personality sometime. You might enjoy the outcome!

Jan Scarbrough writing as Darby York

The Bridegroom
Medieval life is hard for everyone, especially for noble women forced to marry their enemies. Yet even then women longed for love and fulfillment. Can a reluctant bride find true happiness in an arranged marriage?

The Betrothed
Marriage based on love is foreign to the medieval mind. Yet consent must be freely given for a marriage to be valid. Can a reluctant bride dare refuse her betrothed without suffering the consequences?

NOTE from Madison:
I knew Jan was Darby eons ago, but it was not my secret to tell. Congratulations on 'coming out of the erotic closet', Jan.  :)
Both of Darby's 'Dirty Bits' are bestsellers at All Romance e-books.

Julie Destry

The first time I fell in love was grade 6.

It was long enough ago that I can’t recall all the sordid details, but I remember the feelings. The curly, twisty happiness in my stomach. The quick glances around to see if anyone had noticed my hot cheeks. Hurrying through homework in anticipation. Late night rendezvous by the light of the hall….

I didn’t try to hide my affair, but I was a shy, quiet child so I don’t think anyone really noticed for a while.

I’d fallen in love with…well…love.

Danielle Steel was my first adult author. I’d read bits and pieces of my mother’s books in our little library but once I discovered the HEA, I couldn’t stop reaching for the next any more than I could stop needing oxygen. Fine Things, Palomino, Thurston House, Star, Jewels, Kaleidoscope…the list was endless.

Maybe I’d been too young for women’s fiction, but there was no way my mother could have hidden all the books in the library. Most of the time, I read them before she even had the chance.

The main theme of Ms. Steel’s books wasn’t always Boy finding Girl. There was a lot of focus on self-discovery, family, overcoming the odds, but the best parts (in my opinion) always involved The Romance, even if I didn’t always understand the sexy bits. *grin*

Something about finding the other piece of your soul captured me way back then and still hasn’t let me go. I’m just not satisfied unless there’s a strong romance and, at the very least, a Happily-For-Now.

These days my reading tastes have evolved to include vampires, fantasy, and no-holds-barred sex, but emotional development and the HEA are still things I look for in a great read.

It’s also something I try to find in the characters that make their way into the stories I write. I might not write about crazy adventures and alpha heroes coming to the rescue of gritty heroines, but saving the world isn’t always necessary—sometimes just finally admitting you want something opens the door to finding happiness.

Do you remember your first love?


Julie Destry writes contemporary erotic romance for Turquoise Mornings Press. Her first release, TOUCH, is now available at Amazon and other fine eRetailers. Visit Julie at her website or on Facebook.


Sometimes, the dark exposes more than it hides...

As a news anchor, Kass needs to show the world her conservative side, but underneath her public persona is a woman who longs for physical connection. When an invitation to visit a sex club arrives in her inbox, she jumps at the chance to indulge herself in an evening of hot, sweaty sex with a stranger—no strings attached. What she finds instead is a man who shows her that secret fantasies can become reality, but only if she’s willing to take a chance.

Finn's a man whose mojo has hit rock bottom. After the crash and burn of his last relationship, an anonymous sexual encounter is just what he needs. Although the goal for the night is simply to give them both pleasure, he discovers that he may be willing to give something more…

Kass is scared to risk revealing her identity to the man who just took her beyond her wildest expectations, no matter how much he tempts her. But Finn’s determined that their scorching passion has a chance to see the light of day.

Jennifer Anderson

Psst... Come closer... Closer.
Closer. *whispers* I’ve got a secret.

I’m  A  Closet  Romance Reader  

AAAhhhhggg! I said it! Yes, it’s true!
And I don’t mean the kissy, kissy, hand holding kind. I mean the erotic, sensual, get down to business on the hood of a car kind. Take no prisoners, unless that’s your thing, kind. Orgasmic wonderland kind.

Why you might ask is this such a secret? To my closest reader friends, it’s not. But to some it is.

I write YA and even though sometimes sex is involved, it’s behind closed doors and usually it’s clean, good, take your date to the prom kind of fun. No details. And defiantly no moans or dare I say….fluids. And as a YA writer I feel I should stick to the genre. But now with my eyes WIDE open, maybe I should re-evaluate.

Recently, I’ve taken a tiny step towards branching out into other genres of writing. Namely, romance. Knight in Armor is a short, sweet romance available in the Men In Uniform anthology released in November 2011. It’s all very clean, sweet and lovely. But I have to admit.
I want to write more romance.

A lot more.

As a YA author I have to wonder, do I keep venturing out away from my norm and try something new. Will my fans appreciate my new adventure?

I’m not sure. Check out my romance and let me know what you think. I have a copy of Men In Uniform up for grabs to a lucky viewer.

Thank you Madison for having me today. I get tingly in my girl parts when I think about my crush on Madison and her writing. If you haven’t read According to Plan, then go now. It’s fantastic!
Where you can find me:

Corner of 5th and Main…kidding ;-)

Twitter: JenniA8677

Christina Wolfer

The Cutting Room Floor      

As a writer, we are often asked how we come up with our stories and I think the ‘how’ probably varies from author to author and story to story. Most of us have had stories playing through our heads long before we began writing them down. For me, it was the love of make believe, of pretending to be someone else, to be brave, to be tough, to conquer, when in reality, I was painfully shy.

I’m not so shy anymore. Thankfully, I grew out of the worst of it. The stories still play in my head, though, and I still like to pretend I’m all of those things above, but now I channel them onto paper.

My third novel, Emotional Warfare (coming July/August 2012) was inspired by a song verse about a man who was sleeping with women, waking up in a stranger’s bed, because he couldn’t have the one woman he really wanted. The original scene written for the book was cut by me long before I submitted to my publisher. Even though the scene didn’t make the cut, it made the story - inspired it.

My novella, Undercover, which released November 1st, was inspired by a sex scene that popped into my head. Why, I’m not sure, but I blame it on my erotic alter ego. The scene hit the cutting room floor before publication, as well. I never fully developed the scene, but I love what it inspired and am thrilled to have the opportunity to share it here for the first time and maybe the only time. 

Undercover back cover blurb:

At twenty-nine, police officer Erica Salinas is determined to eliminate as many gangs as she can from the streets of Chicago. When she's offered an opportunity to go undercover as a student at an inner city high school to stop the drugs trafficking its halls, she jumps at the chance. It doesn't take long for her to identify the two gangs ruling the school and get offered drugs, but she isn't satisfied with runners. She wants the dealer and supplier.

She befriends a boy who has connections with one of the gangs, hoping to get closer to her goal. Instead, she finds herself getting attached to the kid and falling in love with his older brother, Derrick.

Erica knows she is putting the case at risk by getting too involved. And when she spots a gang allegiance tattoo on Derrick's wrist, she’ll have to decide if her career and avenging her sisters death is more important than love.

From the cutting room floor:

When Erica arrived at the house, she was looking for Joey. He was upset with her and she wanted to smooth things over, try to explain. She knocked, the uneven screen door bouncing against its frame with each tap of her fist. Music played somewhere in the house, but she couldn’t see anyone moving around inside.
She was about to knock again when Derrick came into view from a back room, stealing her breath away as he walked toward her. He was bare-chested, his glorious bronze muscles flexing as he reached to push the screen door open. The day’s heat and his cologne mixed to create a powerful aroma of awareness that sent desire coursing down between her thighs.  
“Erica, what are you doing here? Joey isn’t home”
She took the opportunity to step past him into the cooler confines of the room. “Maybe, I didn’t come here for him.”
Derrick let the screen door shut, turning to her with questioning eyes. Desire flashed with recognition when he looked into her eyes. She’d sensed his attracted to her from day one, but he fought it, thinking her too young.
His nostrils flared when she placed her hand on the tight, corded muscle of his arm. He didn’t step away as he’d done before. She leaned in, heard his sharp intake of breath as she touched her lips to his shoulder, his collarbone, his neck. She ran her tongue along the pulse in his neck and her hands down the sides of his lean torso. She undid the button of his jeans while she distracted him nibbling on his ear. Her hands trailed around to the back, delving past the jockey shorts to squeeze his firm, round ass.
She resisted the urge to grind herself against him, need burning like a dry prairie fire. She shimmied his jeans down to free his erection. A deep groan tore through him as she began kissing her way south, destined, determined to touch him, to taste him.
But he stopped her descent, grabbing her hands, yanking them above her head. With one quick turn, he maneuvered her so that her back met the wall with a thud. She gave a low husky laugh of satisfaction.
He imprisoned her hands above her head with one of his. With the other, he lifted her skirt and shoved the flimsy string bikini down, ripping them out of the way. He tested her readiness with a finger; her body shuddered against his touch. He had his answer. He bit once at her neck and then thrust deep inside her. 

Thank you for letting me share this piece of the story that would never have been seen otherwise.

My other stories:

All Bets Are On! - Available now (Kentucky Derby Anthology - short story)
Two Brothers - Available now
Undercover - Available now (novella)
The Daughter - Coming January 2012
Emotional Warfare - Coming July/August 2012

And you can find me at the following places:
Twitter - @christinawolfer
Or e-mail me at

Please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think of the stories I’ve created. 

Six Sentence Sunday

This is from Man of Her Dreams. Lindsay is remembering when she first met her HOT neighbour, Jared.

She'd come straight from a renovation site, disheveled and dirty to the Food Mart for a few groceries.

Reaching for the last loaf of bread on the rack, her fingers brushed across the hand of a man. When their fingers touched, a jolt of awareness snaked along her arm and she'd looked up. Slack jawed, she'd stood gawking like some pre-pubescent schoolgirl with her first crush, into a pair of steel grey eyes.

He'd flashed a smile, which further weakened already rubbery legs, released the loaf of bread and moved on down the aisle. It had taken her a few moments to realize the hulking hunk was her neighbour.

J.K. Coi

I was so glad when Madison said I could blog here today. I’m a big fan and she’s a lovely woman I’m pleased to know from my romance writer’s chapter.
So, thank you for having me today!
My erotic romance, BRAZEN GAMES, was out on Friday from Ellora’s Cave. It was a bit of a departure for me, because it’s a contemporary – which means no angels, no werewolves, no demons or steampunk elements. Just two people with normal, everyday struggles…okay, that isn’t true. This is what I call a “cops and mobsters” story, to the struggles they’re facing aren’t exactly ‘everyday’.
Jack is the right-hand man of mob boss Sam Moretti. His life is a dangerous place to be, forcing him to always watch his back and never let his guard down. But when it comes to the club’s new dancer, he’s tempted. Very tempted. Trouble is, temptation could very easily expose his secrets and get him – and her – killed.
When Moretti confides his suspicions that he has a mole in his operation, he turns to Jack to take care of the problem. For good.
Who does he suspect? The new dancer… Brazen. 
JK Coi

The heavy rhythm of the loud club music echoed in his ears and pounded a staccato beat in his head as Jack sat back in the booth and watched the blonde dancer lift a slim leg high in the air, pressing the shiny chrome pole between her large, naked tits. She was a pretty thing, just barely legal by the looks of it. Definitely not his type.
Recently Jack’s type was running more to spiky-haired brunettes with wicked, green eyes, breasts just big enough to fill his hands and a tight ass that begged to be fucked.
Damn that woman. His balls tightened just thinking about her and it was all he could do not to open his fly and take his dick in his hand right here in the darkened club.
Get your mind on the job, Jack. He gritted his teeth, shifting his gaze from the girl grinding away onstage and focusing instead on the man who had approached and was pulling out a chair beside him.
“Hey there, Jacky boy. Did you order me a drink?”
After a year as the mob boss’s right-hand man, Jack probably knew more about Sam Moretti than any other person on the planet, including his sainted mother. Moretti’s criminal outfit had been built and was run like the organizations of old. Sex, money laundering, racketeering, impossibly high-interest loans—and that was just for starters. The only thing he’d stayed away from so far was drugs.
Moretti made no apologies for the fact that he was a simple thug who liked to rough up the competition and break bones as a penalty for non-payment, but as far as crooks went, he held himself to a surprisingly strict code of what could technically be termed honor, and he expected everyone around him to adhere to a similar code.
“You’re late, Sam.”
Moretti nodded, but his attention was already on the stage. Unbuttoning his jacket, an expensive black Armani job, he settled into the chair beside Jack with his arms crossed over his chest and his legs kicked out. If not for the suit and the gold flashing on his wrist and fingers, the large, heavily muscled man might have been mistaken for the club’s bouncer.
“Isn’t that your girl?” he asked with a nod.
Jack followed Sam’s gaze. The college-age blonde had finished her routine and a new dancer was taking the circular stage. Dressed simply in a short, pleated skirt and sequined bra, the brunette wasn’t as fresh-faced or as perky as the others, all of whom he had come to recognize in the last few months. Hers was a sexier, edgier quality. She radiated experience. Even from his table halfway across the dark room, Jack could see the challenge in her eyes and the confidence in her step. She’d been working here for just two weeks, and despite all his attempts to cover it up, it seemed Sam, at least, had noticed Jack’s interest.
Looking down into his beer, he curled his hand around the green bottle a little too tightly as he lifted it for a healthy swig. “She’s not my girl, Sam.”
“You know you want to take her for a ride.”
Jack could feel Sam considering him and met the other man’s gaze with a raised brow.
“Come on,” he laughed. “Since when did you start playing the gentleman? You’re not the type, Jack. And frankly, I’m tired of watching you sit here by yourself with a hard-on for the bitch every damn night. So I arranged a meeting.”
“You what?” Shit.
“Consider it an early Christmas bonus.” Sam grinned at him before turning to signal one of the waitresses for a drink. There was no doubt she would understand what he wanted. Moretti was practically a permanent fixture in this place. His cousin ran the club, so if the girls were smart, they made a point of finding that out real quick and trying their best to keep Sam happy.
“Fuck you, Sam,” Jack snarled. Someone else might have been hesitant to talk to the boss like that, but Jack wasn’t built that way. He was a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy, and Moretti seemed to appreciate that Jack didn’t kiss his overly suspicious Italian ass.
A year ago, Jack had been nothing but a mid-level grunt in Moretti’s organization. A grunt with knowledge, who’d dared call him a dumbass for not seeing what had been going on under his nose and behind his back for months—that a couple of his closest men were blatantly skimming from his laundering operation to fund a side ring dealing coke.
Jack’s strategy had been a dangerous one but his instincts proved good as gold. They always did.
Moretti had demanded proof, so Jack provided it. He’d taken Sam to a midnight meeting between his boys and a contingent of thugs from the Romanian organization that had been trying to break into his territory for several months. Sam broke up the meeting with a hail of gunfire that took out the traitors he had called family.
The only thing that had stopped Sam from gunning them all down was the Romanian backup that had charged out of the woodwork. Jack had just barely gotten the two of them out with their lives, and although they’d returned later with more guns to finish the job, the Romanians had already cleared out.
Moretti had been impressed with Jack and his actions had earned him a position as the mob boss’s new right hand. A feat that hadn’t gone unnoticed by the others close to the man.
Especially Sam’s cousin, Danny Moretti.
He shook his head. “This is an important meeting, Sam. We don’t have time for your damn games.”
A svelte, blonde waitress sidled up to the table carrying Moretti’s whiskey on a tray, but instead of setting it down and leaving to tend to other customers, she lingered.
Wondering what the hell she wanted, Jack looked up. Then wished he hadn’t. Sam already had his hand up the woman’s short skirt.
“Mm, nice. Hey Jacky, she’s wearing a thong.” Sam dragged her down into his lap. Sliding his hands up her thighs, he pushed the skirt conspicuously to her waist.
The waitress faced Jack, her empty serving tray held in front of her. Jack had a moment of conscience while he wondered if he should try to interfere, but if she hadn’t wanted to be treated like a whore, she should have known better than to accept a job serving anything at the Blaze.
Christ. Since when had he turned into such a callous motherfucker? “Jesus, Sam. How about a little focus for five goddamn minutes.”
The waitress swung her gaze his way and gave him a small smile. She bit her bottom lip and groaned at the same time Moretti grunted.
Hell. That’s just fucking great.
Moretti grinned at Jack and tossed his empty condom wrapper on the table. “Chill, Jacky. Our meeting’s been postponed.” His hands gripped the girl’s waist. “We have more than enough time for some fun.”
Postponed? This thing had been in the works for months. It was huge, and if all went well, it would cement their hold over all of southwestern Ontario, shutting out the damn Romanians once and for all. Moretti would be untouchable.
So either this was the third time their guy had cancelled and the deal was going sour, or Jack himself was being shut out of the negotiations for some reason. If that was true, he had to face the possibility that someone was getting suspicious. Could it be Moretti himself?
The waitress squirmed in Sam’s lap, a soft moan falling from her red lips. “Come on honey, bounce on me,” he urged.
He lifted her hips and she leaned forward, elbows on the table for balance. All the while her glazed eyes watched Jack.
Jack’s jaw tightened even while his cock stirred in response to the display right in front of him. He turned away, shifting his attention back to the dancer onstage. Having progressed well into her routine, she spiraled around the tall metal pole, her movements fluid and sure.
As if she could feel his eyes on her, she turned in his direction. Jack felt the heat of her gaze like a sucker punch to the gut. Dangerous.
She went by the stage name Brazen. It fit her too damn well. When she danced, it seemed the entire place went quiet as everyone watched, entranced. And to his own disgust, Jack was no exception.
She knew it, too.
The music slowed to a drugging, rhythmic beat. With the pole between her legs, she leaned back, bending her knees and lowering herself almost to the floor. Her breasts pushed upward as she arched her spine deeply.
One hand released the pole and dragged a path over the fabric of her costume, cupping her breast then sliding over her belly and lower still until she pulled up the hem of her skirt, showing off the scrap of black thong beneath. Cupping her hand over her sex, she easily thrust her hips, humping the pole in time to the music.
Jack couldn’t have looked away now if a bomb went off beside him. He didn’t care about Moretti and his waitress grunting away beside him, or that it wasn’t even the most depraved thing he’d seen—or done—in the last few months.
BRAZEN GAMES  is available now at Ellora's Cave

Ruth J Hartman

It give me great pleasures to introduce to you my friend and fellow author from Turquoise Morning Press, Ruth Hartman. She's here today to let us in on a little secret. Well, not much of a secret if you know her. Ruth loves cats. This is why she and I bonded immediately.
Take it away, Ruth ~

I Purr Therefore I Am. 
An understatement for me would be to say, “I love cats.”  People who’ve known me for any length of time laugh and say, “Just a little.” Roxy, our black cat, is asleep on my lap as I’m typing this. I can feel the vibrations of her purr as my arm touches her forehead. Her soft fur makes me want to stop typing and just pet her. But I won’t.
Well, maybe just for a minute….
Okay, back now. J
Because of my life-long intense love for felines, all of my books have at least one cat in them. “Flossophy of Grace” is about a dental hygienist who falls in love with her patient. Grace, the main character, has six cats. Six! She has a soft heart and can’t turn them away when they show up on her doorstep. Even though one of them has expensive medical issues that drain her bank account.
“Pillow Talk” my fantasy romance about a tooth fairy who falls for her dentist, has six cats in it also. Trixie, the heroine, has three. Graham, the hero, also has three. Imagine the mayhem when they find themselves in the same room and the same time at the vet’s office. Impromptu kitty play dates can be messy.
Then we come to “Purrfect Voyage.” The title, obviously, gives away at least part of the story. A cat, Arthur, and his person, Kitty, end up trapped on a small yacht for an unexpected two-week voyage with a man they’ve never met. Who hates cats!

“Grin and Barrett” about two competitive dentists, also has a couple of cats. Remmie Grin has two cats, and adores them. Victor Barrett has none. And hates them all. Victor nearly has a heart attack when one of Remmie’s cats decides Victor’s lap is a great napping spot. Haven’t we all heard this? Cats seem to know who doesn't like them, and make a straight path right for that person. I honestly believe some cats have a warped sense of humor and take great delight in making cat-haters exceedingly uncomfortable.
My newest book, just accepted by Astraea Press, is tentatively titled “Purr.” The main character, Roxy, runs a stray cat shelter. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had writing about a whole building full of cats!
Now, I know you’re sensing a theme here. And you’re right! Because of my love for the furry little bodies of purr, they creep their way into my books. I’m a firm believer that adding pets for the heroine and/or hero in a story makes the characters more believable and sympathetic. And because, well, cats are just so darn much fun. J

You can contact Ruth through e-mail or through her blog R.J. Writes

Ruth inspired me so much with her talk of cats, I had to share one of my favorite cat pictures. 

Leah Braemel

Thanks for inviting me, Madison. *waves* to Madison’s readers. Hey there, I’m Leah Braemel and I am Canadian which means we celebrated our Thanksgiving last month. One of the new dishes on our Thanksgiving table this year was an American staple – sweet potato casserole. I’d first been introduced to sweet potatoes during a visit to Texas in 2007 and the baked sweet potato I’d ordered with my meal came complete with a layer of lightly toasted marshmallows. Marshmallows? On a potato? After I got over my shock, I took a bite and I was hooked for life.

I returned to Canada raving about my love for sweet potatoes but sadly my husband and sons couldn’t wrap their heads about the concept, and weren’t keen on any form of sweet potato, baked or mashed, and refused to consider the addition of a casserole to our regular Thanksgiving dinner. My husband however decided he liked sweet potato fries and roasted sweet potatoes, so I had to content myself with that minor victory.

Jump ahead to September of this year – since one of my series involves bodyguards, and I really needed to get into not only the details of the world of law enforcement but the mindset too, I signed up to be part of the Writers’ Police Academy in North Carolina. Since it would be cheaper to drive than fly, and hubby was jonesing for a road trip, we tied the course together with a mini-vacation. We ended up taking the “long route” when we decided to drive down to South Carolina for a short stay in Myrtle Beach. That’s where my husband finally gave in and tried a true southern sweet potato casserole. And, thank heavens, realized what I’d been saying all along—he declared it delicious and asked if they were easy to make and if so, could I make one?

By the time we got back to Canada, our Thanksgiving was only a week away, so I dived into the recipe sites and found several to try. I settled on the one below, and like always, I did a few modifications, including making it a little Canadian by adding a dash of maple syrup to the mix. (You can make it with or without the marshmallows of course, or without the pecans if you have a nut allergy or just don’t like nuts.)

When I brought it out to serve, even my eldest son’s girlfriend (who is by far the best cook of anyone I’ve met) gave it a thumbs up by returning for seconds.

Leah’s Sweet Potato casserole

*5-6 sweet potatoes, cubed
*1/3 cup evaporated milk
*3/4 cup sugar
*3 tablespoons butter/margarine
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*2 eggs (beaten lightly)
*1 tsp Nutmeg (adjustable to taste)
*1 tsp Cinnamon (adjustable to taste)
*If you want to get creative, add a dash of maple syrup (a couple tablespoons should do it.)
*1 cup pecan pieces (you can mix them into the sweet potato or layer them on top, or ignore them completely, your choice.)
If you don’t want to use pecans or marshmallows as the topping:
*1 cup brown sugar
*3/4 cup flour
*1/4 cup margarine, melted

Boil sweet potatoes until tender. (You don’t have to peel them, you can leave the skins on.) Remove from water and allow to cool slightly. Remove skins.
Mash the sweet potatoes until there are no lumps.
Add the evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and eggs. (If you want the pecans throughout the sweet potato, you can add them now.)
Mix until smooth.
Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Spread the sweet potato mix evenly in the pan


* If you prefer the pecans as a topping, layer them on top
* in a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and melted margarine then spread the mixture over the potatoes.
* layer miniature marshmallows

Or you can do what I did, and layer the pecans on top, then layer the marshmallows on top of them. ;)
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. (If you’re using a convection oven, don’t forget to turn it down to 325F.) If you’re using marshmallows, they should turn a lovely shade of golden brown, but not be burnt.

Leah Braemel writes spicy romances that are passionate, provocative and decadent. You can find out more about her books at her website, or follow Leah on Twitter or on Facebook, Goodreads or Google+.

Glad to see that you stayed until the end, and here's your reward. Leah has graciously agreed to give away an e-copy of one of her back listed books, and this is how you can become that lucky person.

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Cristal Ryder

I've stepped out of the Cristal Palace J today and visiting with fellow Toronto Romance Writers author and friend Madison! Thanks for having me here. Oh and she will be coming into my sparkly abode in a few days. We are blog swapping.
This is my anniversary month. Yep. One year ago my first story was published No Fantasy Required with Lyrical Press. How time flies and now a year later I have two other stories out there. Being Ariana and Hot Fusion.  Being Ariana came out in August with Lyrical and the sequel, Being Bound, will be released February 20, 2012.
Since October 7, I’ve been celebrating my debut with Ellora’s Cave. Hot Fusion is set in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Not only do Kara and Max heat up the pages, but you’ll be tempted with culinary delights and wine. What better combination to stir up the pot J
To give you a taste of Hot Fusion the excerpt is below. I’m thrilled it has been so well received, likened to a good old fashioned romance. And….if you read a little further past that I’ve included a little teaser of my trip to the sci fi side. A little blurb of a story I hope will find its way to the big wide world soon.
I’d love to hear from you, so please contact me and my tweets @cristalryder  
Happy reading!

After fleeing her hometown years ago, Kara Sinclair has returned to breathe life back into the bakery her deceased grandmother left behind. She has a history in this town—one that involves her one true love. A boy she’d thought she’d give her life to before circumstance got in the way. She needs to focus on her task, but one look at Maxwell Stone and all the old feelings return. And it isn’t long before she can think of nothing else but reigniting the passion they once shared.
Max never understood what drove Kara away all those years ago, and once she returns to their Canadian hometown, he’s hell bent on getting her back into his life…and his bed. But when he uncovers the reason she left him behind, he must decide if he can move on from the past and trust his heart with the only woman he’s ever loved.


The afternoon slipped leisurely by and Kara enjoyed a mellow languor she hadn’t experienced in such a long time. Sure, it was the wine and the company, but this little bit of patio time in her hometown was the best medicine.
Max ordered a scrumptious antipasto plate and slid his chair around the table beside her so they could share. Their knees touched, sending little shock waves of desire along her nerve endings to settle between her thighs, keeping her arousal at a nice, pleasant hum. She didn’t move her leg and neither did he. Their connection continued to grow like a live wire sparking between them. She wondered if he was as turned-on as she. And when he glanced at her over the rim of his glass, she knew. The look in his eyes that drove her to distraction as a ripe teenage girl reflected in his gaze now. A little shiver of delight ran down her spine.
She kept glancing at him over the plate of food, unable to take her eyes off him. They had since moved to a nice Pinot Grigio rather than the ice wine and both glasses now sat empty, begging to be filled. She wondered if it was wise to order more. But she longed to continue sitting here with him, sipping wine, people watching and being enveloped in the intoxicating scent of Max and the flowers. Kara was captivated by him all over again.
He draped his arm across the back of her chair in a casual movement and her heart did a little jump when his thumb stroked her bare shoulder. The air between them fairly crackled and she decided the decision had been taken from her. She’d stay. Here, with him, and let jazzy tunes from the hidden speakers wrap them in anonymity.
“So, you liked the wine, eh?”
“Yes, it was very nice. I should do a sweets night featuring your ice wine.”
“I like that idea.”
“Good.” Kara needed to bring something important up but didn’t know how, and was afraid it would shatter the fragile ease that was developing between them. But she had to for her own peace of mine.
“Max. A-are you still marr…” He shook his head and Kara let the word trail away. Relief flooded through her and she didn’t want to press it further right now, or know the reasons he was now single. Time for that later. The fact he was no longer married was all she needed to know.
He gazed at her intently and raised his eyebrows. “Do you want to know why?”
This time Kara shook her head and wagged her finger back and forth. “Not really. At least right now. I just needed to know your, um, situation.”
He sat back and smiled. “Don’t want be the other woman, eh?”
Kara laughed and covered her mouth with her hand, a little embarrassed. “No, definitely not on my bucket list!” She also felt a little ashamed being so thrilled by the news he wasn’t married. Divorce was never easy.
The rest of the afternoon fell to mindless, comfortable banter and Kara’s contentment grew. The stress and hectic days prior began to fade away and she relaxed more as the afternoon wore on.
Kara’s mind began to wander. What would come next? How would they part? Should she ask him to come back and open another bottle of wine? Worry furrowed her brow and she jumped when his hand cupped her shoulder. His fingers traced up the column of her throat and pushed into the curls at her nape, massaging gently. The movement chased the worry from her.
“Mmm, that feels nice.” Kara smiled and faced him. She shivered in delight and he chuckled at her involuntary reaction.
She shook her head and without a second thought leaned toward him. He encouraged her with a gentle pull. Their gazes stayed connected and just before their lips met, Kara’s eyelids fluttered close.
Her breath caught when he kissed her—chaste and gentle, but with an underlying power she longed to unleash. Kara craved it and kissed him back, opening her mouth to dart her tongue out and taste his. He met her with a sudden ferocity that liquefied her insides. She was helpless to him, her muscles slack and weak. If he didn’t have his arm around her, she would have dissolved into a puddle of passion at his feet.
Kara forgot where they were, all sense of place and time vanished. Her hand crept up to the back of his neck and her fingers played with his hair at the nape. Sound faded and Kara was only aware of him, nothing else. She sensed the sexual tension building in him and knew they should slow down before they embarrassed themselves in public. But she couldn’t stop and moved closer to him, needing the feel of his body next to hers.
The sharp ring and vibrating buzz of her cell phone on the metal table pierced the moment and she jolted away, almost panting. Kara couldn’t catch her breath and fumbled to grab the phone and flip it open. It was the bakery number.
“Hel—” Kara cleared the roughness from her throat and glanced at Max, who was flushed and watching her intently. His dark gaze made promises she wanted him to keep. Kara looked away to try to rebalance herself. “Uhm, hello?”
“Hi, Kara.” It was Jilly, one of her co-op students. “Hey, are you all right?”
“Uh, sure. Why?”
“You sound kinda weird.”
Weird? No, just incredibly horny. “What do you need?” she asked a little too harshly and immediately regretted it.
“Oh, anyway, the health inspector is here.”
“What? Holy shit, I completely forgot.” Kara’s passion extinguished as if a bucket of cold water had been sloshed on her. “I’ll be right there.”
Kara quickly gathered her bags and turned to Max. “I gotta go. Totally forgot an appointment.” She cupped his cheek in her palm. “Thank you, it was a great afternoon.”
She stood and ignored the curious looks from the other patrons and dashed from the patio. As she rounded the wall of flowers, she glanced over her shoulder at Max. He leaned comfortably in his seat, his arm once again draped across the back of the chair she had been sitting in. He winked and smiled at her.
Holy crap.
That one simple and utterly sexy look totally reignited her passion for him. How could she possibly concentrate on a boring old health inspector now?
Did you stay for the extra treat?
Her fear ripened and Trinity had a burning urge to leave. Run. Get the hell out of there. She heard the sound again, a metallic clicking and whir. She glanced around to find its origin. A flash through the trees followed by a green beam of light swept through the brush.
What the –
Then she was face down in the bushes, her skin being torn by the brambles and the weight of something big crushed her into the earth.
“Shh. Not a sound.” The whisper in her ear was harsh, deep and utterly male.
Trinity struggled to turn and see this brute that knocked her to the ground but he held her fast. “Hey. Who the hell are you?”
He pushed her deeper into the underbrush and covered her mouth with his hand squeezing her chin tight. “I said quiet. And lay still if you want to live.”
Wasn’t that a line from some sci fi movie or something?
But Brute Man had her pinned. She couldn’t move if she tried and the tone of his voice screamed urgent. Something told Trinity to do as he instructed and she lay immobile beneath him.
Did it hook you?  Let me know.
 Hot Fusion is available at Ellora’s Cave
No Fantasy Required, Being Ariana are available at Lyrical Press

Maggie Wells

I am thrilled to have on my blog today fellow 'Dirty Bits' Author - Maggie Wells. Take it away Maggie

Psssst! It’s my birthday!

No matter how many years pass, I’m like a little kid when it comes to birthdays. I still think it’s my special day. When Madison gave me my blog date, my first response was, ‘Yay! That’s my birthday!’

Of course, I’ve also reached the point where when people ask my age, I simply say, ‘Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway.’


As the wisdom has piled up, I’ve taken a quite few lessons to heart. My favorite by far?

Treat yourself.

Too often, we put off the things that give us pleasure. I’m guilty. I even eat my M&Ms in reverse order of color – least favorite to most. Why? I have no idea. Anyone who knows me at all would think I’d grab all the red ones and run, but I don’t. I eat the brown ones first. As if I need to inflict a little punishment before I can enjoy the goodness. And there’s not even any leather or whips involved. I am a candy sadist.

Now, before you go thinking this is one of those ‘Oh poor me’ posts, let me say that I am the first to admit I’m a terribly spoiled individual. Have been for my entire life, and I intend to go on as I began. Still, I went through a phase where I denied myself even the silliest things.

I was a victim of self-inflicted MomMartyr Syndrome.

It’s that awkward stage when each and every one of our needs must me subjugated to those of the family. We take lukewarm showers because we have to be sure everyone else is clean and scrubbed first. We’re the last ones to the dinner table and the first to jump up. Our coats are the oldest, we use the half-dead double-A batteries in our gadgets, and we drive family tricksters instead of sleek, two-door coupes. Sound familiar?

I am proud to say, this is the year I broke free.

My children are older now, but I can’t really claim that they’re wiser. But, hey, if they can’t figure the ‘He who gets to the shower first gets the hot water’ rule, it isn’t because I didn’t teach by example. The cute little red coupe parked in the drive? Mine. What can I say? We needed a third car…

This year, I gave myself the best present ever – permission to give myself permission.

Best. Gift. Ever.

Whenever the anniversary of your birth may be, happy birthday to you. Treat yourself today, even if it’s just eating your favorite candy first. You deserve it!



Spectators – A Sapphire Nights Dirty Bits story

From the moment she steps into the exclusive Spectator Club, Grace Andrews finds herself caught between heaven and hell. Dark and light, two halves of a whole, partners Damien and Gabriel are intrigued by the newest member of the club. Eager to introduce her to the delights of their world, they take her initiation in hand…and mouth. And anything else she wants. Because for the member of the Spectator Club, anything goes.


A couple of weeks ago, I released my first male/male romance. Cowboy, no less. I’m not generally an erotica writer (my alter ego writes contemporary romance), but when the idea came to me, I needed to get it down. Once I got it down, in spite of my fears, I needed people to read it.
Luckily, I found a publisher who was willing to work with me, and mold the story into a marketable item.
Also luckily, I seem to have found a bit of an audience. I’d been told that male/male romances were hot, but I didn’t realize how hot until I released Texas Iron. Hot men, sex and horses apparently drag in the women. And I assume a few men as well…
The biggest problem I had was concealing from my family the fact that I was naughty girl who liked to read and write male/male sex. They were okay with regular romances, but even those they tend to gasp at the sex scenes. They are a good, church-going farm family who believe marriage and sex should be between a white man and a white woman, behind closed doors. No variation. I love my family, but God-bless them for their narrow-mindedness.
So, even though a majority of my family wouldn’t know what to do with a computer if you put them in front of one, I created Jade Morgan, and this is her first, official guest blog. Thank you so much for visiting, and Thank you Maddison for letting me take up space.
  Here’s the blurb for Texas Iron:
War veteran Mack Harding has little experience with men, but it’s hard to miss the signals the new blacksmith is sending him. Rebuilding his family ranch takes up all of his time, and he honestly doesn’t think anybody would want to be with him, what with the scars on his face and the flashbacks that plague him.  But Caleb leads him into a night of sensuality he’s never felt before.
Caleb Lucas isn’t really looking for a relationship, but he’s always ready for a tumble.  And the sexy new client is certainly ringing all his bells.  When an interlude in the barn leaves him wanting more, can he convince Mack to take a chance on his own brand of Texas Iron?
 I thought I’d leave you with a ‘never before seen’ excerpt from the book, too.
Mack was standing beside the trough, arms folded, just watching him. Caleb didn’t like the introspective frown on his face, so he cupped water in his hands and flung it at the other man, hitting him in the belly. Mack gasped and stepped back, looking down at his soaked chest and jeans. There was a split second when Caleb feared he had pissed the man off, but he kept the smile on his own face and Mack finally shook his head.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” he laughed. He reached for a hose hanging on the side of the barn and wrenched the spigot, shooting Caleb square in the chest with ice-cold well water.
Caleb tried to dodge, but he was soaked within seconds. Laughing, he lunged and grabbed at the nozzle in Mack’s hands. They wrestled for control of the hose, but both were aware of their strength, and it was more play than a dominance struggle. Mack suddenly shoved, and Caleb tripped on the hose. At the last possible second, he grabbed Mack around the neck and held tight as they both tumbled into the trough.
Caleb sucked a lungful of water, and choked for air. Hands that had been before shoving him into the water were now pulling him out. He shook his head like a dog to clear his eyes and gasped. Mack was sitting on his stomach, one leg on each side of Caleb’s hips, laughing, even as he patted him on the back.
“You suck,” Caleb gasped, eyes tearing.
Mack leaned back, chuckling even harder. “Why do I suck? You started it.”
Caleb knew he was right, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. He pushed himself against the back of the tank with his feet, and hung his arms over the sides, clearing his eyes with his fingers. Mack made a move to get off of him, but Caleb stopped him with hands on his hips. “That didn’t go the way I had planned. I actually just wanted to get you wet enough to see your abs shining the way they are now.” With one finger, he outlined Mack’s abdomen, curled over on top of him. There was not an ounce of fat, just little wrinkles of skin, and some moisture-darkened hair. Within the space of seconds, awareness coursed through him again.
Mack must have felt Caleb’s erection growing beneath him, because he grinned. “Already? You just came!”
My question to you is, do you read male/male, and what do you think the percentage is of female buyers to male? Leave me a comment, and I’ll choose one winner randomly for a download of the book.
Thanks so much for stopping by!