Tag Archives: romance

Local artist rocks the romance scene

19 Oct

Madeline Hunter IS LOCAL! hurrah!!!! I thought it was a fib when a handy little sticker on the cover said “local artist”.  Go Pittsburgh Go!

Author of a wonderful quartet I zoomed through, The Rarest Blooms,  Hunter’s latest is “Dangerous in Diamonds”.

Now, you’ll want to start at the beginning for this quartet because spattered throughout the novels are allusions to events from other novels. Not that it makes the reading any less fabulous if you want to start in the middle and work your way out.  Oreos are great this way too…

I read Dangerous In Diamonds twice already. I’m not sure where to start with what intrigued me that much to do it all over twice. The first reason to double read it is the Duke of Castleford. Gotta love a Duke right? Well, he’s not exactly the loveable type-unless you consider a drunkard and whoremonger as your ideal husbandly type.  It’s the idea that a man can change at the drop of a beautiful woman.  Well maybe not just beautiful, but the better word is ideal. 

It’s an interesting psychological transformation.

Another reason to read it is that it touches on a woman dealing with her friends “moving on in life”, which is always relevant in my opinion.   A third reason is that Hunter uses “the truth will set you free” wonderfully in her plot. And it makes me smile.


Dukes, lust and rage

13 Oct

It’s been a while….

And I’m not singing the Nickleback tune (sorry Nickleback but I have NO real love for you or your “stick in your head for fifty years” songs).

It’s time to get back to talking Dukes, lust and rage.

I picked up The Duke’s Captive, by Adele Ashworth at Half Price Books (God bless them and their clearance section) for $1.  This is not to say I wouldn’t have paid more for it, but I’ve never read any Ashworth, so this was a good place to get her.

A fast paced read, this one doesn’t have too much plot to it.  For a romance, even less. But what it does have is A LOT of excellent steamy love scenes. The tension between the two main characters, Ian (a duke) and Viola (a widow), is well written and builds based on a past negative experience the two had in, what seems like, another lifetime.  The entire book is mainly led by Ian’s PTSD based amnesia surrounding the event but the confusion lends beautifully to his rage towards her. The tidbits the reader is privvy to about the “event” is that Ian was drugged and held captive by Viola’s family. What the reader doesn’t know is what actually happened in captivity.

What I liked about it: some good solid lovin. What I didn’t: not enough plot for me to go on.

It’s a decent bathtub read, even if you have laundry going and a dog barking, because it’s okay to get distracted while reading it.  You don’t need to remember too much of the plot to come back to the book.

Mystery High part 3

7 Jul

I really need a new name for the story…mystery high sounds so, well, mysterious. It’s really not meant to be–I just couldn’t find a high school that fit my description…anywho. Until there’s a new name, Mystery High it remains….

The idea that I had turned into a fully fledged stalker didn’t escape my notice.  To try and catch a glimpse of him again, I lingered in the halls well past second bell so that I was late to every class.   And in every class, I took a bathroom break and wandered, slyly looking into every class window I walked by.  The guy was nowhere to be seen.  I let out a frustrated Argh during my final period’s washroom break. This was absolutely unnecessary.  I really shouldn’t have been hunting the guy down like a tiger an antelope.  He’d turned out to be one tricky antelope.   Arie. Stop. In my last turn of the hall, I bent down to take a drink from the water fountain and heard footsteps approaching.

My heart and imagination leapt into overdrive as I imagined it was he, coming down the hall, because he was looking for me too! And when I stood up I would feel him behind me.  In slow motion, I would turn and see that we’re so close that a kiss was the only possible move.  His breath would smell of spicy cinnamon gum and his chocolate eyes would gleam in the dimming hall sunlight.

“Hey,” he’d say.

In my most suave moment, I’d smile at him in a heartbreaking way and he’d know it was okay to kiss me.  He’d lean in with a dimpled half smile and…

A throat was cleared behind me. I double blinked and realized that I’d been leaning over the water fountain this entire time.  My cheeks flared red and I straightened, turning slightly to see my teacher, arms folded behind me.  If I didn’t say anything, maybe he wouldn’t know it was me? Or maybe it wouldn’t matter that I’d been loitering for the last, what?..I looked down at my watch, holy crap! I’d been out of class for 20 minutes.

“Miss Huston. I think you’ve had enough water this period, don’t you?” my movements were slow and showed my humiliation.   When I faced him, I kept my eyes to the ground and tried to let my wavy hair drape over my face.

“Yes sir.”

“Get back to class.”

“Yes sir.”

But I had a problem following this simple obedience: in my stalk-age, I didn’t even use the bathroom.  And as I just drank a gallon of water, and my bladder was the size of a peach pit, I’d actually have to use the restroom soon. Very very soon-or there would be mortification to pay with.  It would be just another item to cross off of my “humiliations in high school” list: peed myself in eighth period.

Back in class, I groaned as I resumed my seat and spent the next 7 minutes and 38 seconds shaking my leg to distract my bladder from its function in life.  When the leg wasn’t enough, I took to tapping my pencil like an idiot.  I was distracting everyone around me but I didn’t dare ask to be excused again.  By the time the final bell rang there were tears in my eyes from the sting of a crying bladder.  I bolted out of class as fast as my legs would let me and I rammed right into someone.  What the hell.

I excused myself without really registering who it was and I was ready to football it through the hordes of teens spilling out into the hallway when the person’s hand grabbed my arm.


Ugh crap.

“Luke? What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for football practice?” I was dancing in place and his blue eyes watched me with some amusement.  For a moment, I was lost in those eyes and as he answered me, the volume of his voice faded to mute.  The tiny voice of my bladder rose to cover his and was urgently bellowing in my brain.  Damn. Couldn’t catch a break today.

“Luke listen, I gotta go pee.” And I ran.


It was the longest pee of my life.  The sensation went from pain to satisfaction and kept going. Soon, other girls filled the restroom, their high pitched or snarly voices intermingling with one another.  After a few seconds and some exiting, I could discern who it was who was left talking.  They were two girls from Tiffany’s cheerleading squad, Ashley and Madison.

“So yeah! I totally heard that Jenny saw Luke, like, all over Arie.”

“Oh my god. No way.”


“Like when?”

“I don’t know. Does it matter?” My eyes were wide with the news that Luke was “all over me” and I leaned forward to look through the crack of the door.  I watched as Ashley applied lip gloss and Madison fiddled with her bangs.

“What about Tiff?”

“What about Tiff?” In between smacks of her lips, Ashley continued saying, “Tiffany obviously knows something’s up otherwise she wouldn’t have said something to Kayla in aesthetics.” Tiff had aesthetics after lunch.  I leaned back in disbelief as I was bombarded with more information and speculation.  I listened to them debate on how long Luke was cheating on Tiffany with me and if I’d always had a thing for him, and if he was doing it to pity me.  That one hurt. What hurt more was when they said that Tiff was only my friend because she’d known me so long, and it was about time she ‘cut the cord’.  I listened as a few tears made their way onto my cheeks and I firmly brushed them away.  When they’d left I zipped up my jeans and cautiously stepped out of the blue painted stall.

My eyes didn’t betray me with red rims. I was surprised at that, but I still splashed some cold water on my face to wake me up from self pity. I’d lived with the “no self pity” mantra for so long that I forgot I’d need it when it came to things other than hospital visits and bad news.  Self pity could strike even on the best of days, helping add them to your worst. And that’s not where they belonged.

“It’s been a good day,” I told myself, wishing that I actually really believed it.


I was outside, having a staring match with my car. Her name was Daisy.  We were in a showdown, Daisy and I.  She, a white, ‘95 Accord, and I, a 16 year old brunette.  It was a constant battle between the two of us, but I couldn’t help but love her.  She was just as damaged as me, and if I couldn’t love something so damaged, how could I expect someone to love me?  My dad had sat me down a few times to try and get me to get rid of the car, and he even offered to get me a new one. It was a moot point though-why get one when I wouldn’t need it for long and they’d be stuck paying it off?  I couldn’t do that to them.  But today, with the heat being 90 and my AC non-existent, I seriously considered the offer.

From across the lot, I begged her silently to start and take me home with no complications. But when I stepped out onto the scorching pavement, I knew there was no way in this infernal heat that she would do me a solid and start.  It was too damn hot.  I jingled my keys in my pocket and continued towards my car.  As I grabbed the handle and swung the door open, a blast of heat escaped, laughing at my misfortune. Dropping my book bag on the cement, I gingerly seated myself in the driver’s seat.  Inserting my key, the lights all flashed on and as I turned on the ignition there was a simple whine that told me she wasn’t going anywhere.

I hung my head, letting it touch the steering wheel when I felt the little hairs on my forehead burn away. It was scalding hot, and I jerked my head back, letting the headrest catch me.

I didn’t see him approach so when I heard his familiar voice sound, I jumped a mile into the tiny space of my car.

“Sorry I, ugh, didn’t mean to scare you,” Luke said, a worried frown on his forehead.  I scoffed back, “yeah right.”

“You need a ride?”

“Not from you-don’t you have anything better to do? How about football?”

He got intense there, for a second, like there were serious thoughts running through his head.

“Shut up Arie and get in my car.” He was exasperated, from what I had no idea, but I hadn’t heard that tone in a long while so I gave up my fight and said,


Oh, but you don’t know of what a woman dreams…

8 Jun

I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do…but now that I’m reading a romance by Eloisa James, Desperate Duchesses, I’m inclined to fall back on a memory of a man I once dated.  A Casanova to be sure, he claimed that he learned everything he knew, about what women wanted, through reading romance novels.  Purely for informational purposes I was assured.



Aside from mulling over his curiosity in a bestselling worldwide genre of books, I thought, ‘is that really what women want?’

Yes. At least to a point.

Since that fateful conversation, I’ve tried to coerce any man willing to listen into cracking open a romance, to really learn the mystery behind What Women Want-at least in bed that is.  But which one would I recommend? From what time? A short harlequin? The Flame and the Flower? Gone with the Wind? A modern romance? The truth is, romance novels have evolved.

It seems that the century we live in is quite taken with history and bungling up historical figures to suit our own imaginations.  A fact that is fine by me.  So, from the perspective of historical romances (my favourite) one main theme that runs through more recent romance novelists is the idea of engaging in sexual intimacies (pre-marriage of course) usually pushed for by the virgin woman.   However, the man, usually a member of the aristocracy, being so head over heels in love because of that one blissful encounter, demands to have her as his wife.  Well, it’s either that or honour pushes him to do the right thing.  In which case, the woman takes her due and makes sure, through words or heroic actions, that he loves her first.  For what is a marriage without love?  Of course, she gets her way in the end. And they live happily ever after.

The 70’s, those first turbulent spirited days of historical romances, honed in on a different side to women.  This one, led by authors such as Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers, tapped into a more primal level. One which recognized arguing as an integral part of passion; one which showed a side to men including infidelity; one which allowed for human, especially the women’s, folly.  But in the end, the rocky couple get married and live happily ever after.  Usually with a baby neatly in tow a few months later.

So what do women want?  For me, after reading a more recent author, I find satisfaction lacking when I reach the end.  That’s not to say I wasn’t greatly disturbed and intrigued reading Woodiwiss’, The Flame and the Flower, either.  A balance between the two maybe? Who’s to say? Each woman is different. But even a dimwit can’t help but notice the end result is always the same….marriage and maybe a baby….hmm…perhaps we’re not so mysterious after all….

Crepes Parisiennes

1 Apr

April 1, 2010

The sun is shining in my eyeballs, the birds are assaulting my ears and my nose has already started its leaking.  (Shudder) It’s Spring.  Ie. An allergy sufferer’s personal hell once a year.

I step outside to see that hell really is upon me this holiest of holy weeks.  Oh Easter. Why did you have to be marred by a change in weather?  I reach into my pocket and whip out my sony ear buds (like a super star…yes. Here I’ll say it again), I whip out my sony ear buds (and this time imagine me doing it in slow motion) so I can lose myself in music while trying to maintain a “green life”.  What am I going to listen to??…hm…I settle for a play list reminding me of better days of Bens. Harper, Lee, Kweller, Folds 5.

I’m walking up the streets of the illustrious Shadyside.  Every few steps I have to gently take out the crumbling Kleenex from my pocket and wipe my faucet of a nose. The reason why it’s crumbling is because I didn’t step out of my house this morning. I stepped out of Aubrey’s who is a, uhh, friend with a good amount of benefit?

Fine, I see your snarky face looking all snarky like. She’s a paramour of mine, better?

…don’t judge.

You’ve all been there at one time or another.

I make my way up to Walnut Street, the hub of all rich white people wanting to be bohemian hubs.

The Coffee Tree is booming with Mac-user-business on this blissful (once again, can I tell you how I spit on Spring bliss?) sunny day. I order my usual and gaze (rather un-cooly…as everyone knows if you’re in the Coffee Tree you don’t actually look out the massive windows. That makes you a pervert) out the windows onto Walnut waiting for my Mac to boot up.  I’m 37 years old and I’m living the dream.  Again, I see you snarking out there. Yes, I am unmarried. Yes, I have an i-phone, i-touch and Mac.  Yes I still write in a journal (I did attend school when pens were in avid use), yes, like nice shiny cars and yes, you’re just jealous. I was a smart one, investing in the right stocks, helping build the right empire and now I’m rich and lonely as can be, except for my nights with my uhh, paramours. I crack my journal open again,

Things to do:

  1. Tell Aubrey it’s over. Maybe hook her up with Jimmy.
  2. Contact Hannah to book appt with Brady
  3. Call mom..it is EASTER this weekend

Hannah’s my secretary, not a paramour (I don’t mix business with business). I take a sip of my delicious beverage and again take to looking out the window when I see a familiar head of dark hair walk by. My head cocks to the side. It can’t be. I like risk, even if it means making a fool of myself, so I don’t even bother to double think it, I pack my stuff hastily into my bag and I’m running after her.  Thank God I’ve taken to living green, my lungs might not be able to take it. Her raven head has disappeared.

She went into a store? She turned the corner? WHERE. DID. SHE. GO?! ARGH. I lost her. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit.  I throw my hands dramatically into the air and drop them to run through my blonde hair. My insides reel from the jog and shattered hope.  I slowly walk back to the Coffee Tree, utterly defeated. I feel like a puppy who just got kicked. Seated now at the same table, I take out my journal and flip to the page entitled

“Michelle you broke my bloody Heart.”

Michelle, your beauty, your personality and the way you make me a better person are gifts from God.  You don’t even know it.  I don’t know why you left me but know, you’re the only woman I’ve ever and will ever, love.

And that was the last entry made about Michelle. She ended it when we ended our undergrad and I haven’t seen her since. In fact, I haven’t even wanted to look for her because of all the bitterness that settled in my heart and digestive system after she left. Okay fine, I looked her up on Facebook and Linked-in. Nada. Like she never existed, at least for anyone other than me.  It was not a good breakup…I couldn’t eat for a while. Doesn’t sound normal for a guy does it? Well, it happened and it’s more normal than you think. Actually, I turned to alcohol for a bit.  Needless to say, it was not a happy-go-lucky time in my life, and that time lasted from graduating year to a few blurry years later. There was a time when I thought I saw her EVERYWHERE. It’s like your heart breaking a tad bit every day, being chipped away with every dark haired petite girl who walks by.  And now, well, just now, I thought I saw her.

I pause at the table and spread my palms out flat.  I need to breathe.

Last I heard she ended up doing some post-grad degree in interior design…and that was from a friend of a friend of a friend. That sort of unreliable thing.

I wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans and look out the window again. Holy mac. There she is! This is God’s way of torturing me. I swear on all that is holy, this is not funny. She’s walking on the other side of the street.

I jump up and plaster myself on the window. I DON’T CARE THAT I’M 37! You don’t get second chances every day!  I watch as she turns into a shop with blue awnings. She’s going into the Creperie.

Done. There’s no way I’m losing this chance.

About 80 steps later, k, maybe 30, I’m in the Creperie place, heart pounding, ready to rid itself of it’s external casing.   Years, it’s been years and years. She might not even remember me if it is her. Bradley, breathe, breathe.

I scan the tiny space, take in the aging tables and furniture…You’re KIDDING ME. WHERE IS SH…oh! There she is. Walking out of the bathroom. I almost pass out. Faint like a school girl. It’s her. It’s Michelle. Albeit a much older Michelle. It’s been what, now I do a quick calculation, more than 10 years since I saw her. She’s still so beautiful. I debate what to do for about 20 seconds; just as long as it takes for her to order, then I step up behind her and say,

“It’s on me.  And can I get a banana nutella crepe too?”

She turns slowly, her loose hair inching its way across her back.

“Thank you.”  She faces me and I lock my brown eyes on her hazel ones. Then she says something that actually makes me want to cry and die. “Do I know you?”

“Um. Well.” My hands start to move erratically and I fist them to make them stop, “are you Michelle by any chance?”

“No actually,” she flashes me a quarter smile, and there’s that heart of mine cracking again. “My name’s Bridget.” I close my eyes to block out her twinkling ones. I swear to you though, it’s her. Maybe I’ve been looking for so long that I forgot what she looked like. Maybe I’m an idiot. Maybe..


I open my eyes a crack to see her watching me with curiosity befitting a mischievous cat, “sorry for your mistake…if you want I can pay for my own crepe.”

“No, no, it’s alright. I got this one.”  I let the fists go and exhale.

We both get our crepes and sit as far away from one another as possible. I can’t even taste the deliciousness of the nutella infused bananas. I’m moping in my brain, sloshing in the remains of my heart when she comes and plops herself down at my table.

“So tell me about yourself? I mean, thank you for the crepe. I figure you have to enjoy it with someone to REALLY enjoy it you know?”

I’m silent. Do I really want to do this to myself? I throw caution to the wind, and prepare myself for torture of the worst kind.

She flicks her hair back over her shoulder, and my stomach wobbles a little. Michelle used to do that.  Then she leans in.

“What do you do?” she asks, conspiratorially.

“I uhh. Do nothing.” Her gaze is knocking me out of this planetary sphere.

“No way? Nothing you say. Well, I’m an international spy and have been for a while.” She smirks, and says, “Actually, I’m in interior design.”

Again, imagine knives slowly entering separate parts of your body, inflicting an even amount of pain.

I clear my throat and find my voice hoarse as anything, “I’m so sorry, but you remind me so much of someone I once knew.”

“Oh yeah? An old girlfriend?”

“Yes actually.” She cuts her crepe and brings this HEAP of food towards her mouth. My mouth drops as I watch her and my brain screams out trodden heart Shakespeare soliloquies. That’s how she ate. Always too much for her little body.  I was super nervous that she’d choke and die all the time. Her fork stops, hovering in front of her mouth.


“Nope. You?”

I still haven’t taken a bite of food since she sat down. She’s dumped that shovel of crepe, strawberries and cream in her mouth and she says, mouth full, “no…” She pauses while she chews then once again stares me down, searching for non-pained places in my soul to ravage, and boy does she succeed, “You miss her?” This is definitely going down as one of the strangest conversations of my life. But since I’m going all in, I say,

“Yeah, a lot.” She looks hard into my eyes and then abruptly stands.

“Sorry to eat and run. Catch you later lover boy.” Then she turns and jogs up the 4 stairs and is out the door before I can process what she just said.

I run after her.

“MICHELLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” She’s gone and this time I slam my fist into the brick wall. Stupid I know, and my hand smarts. I slowly walk back into the Creperie and throw myself back onto the green ripped booth seat. I rest my head in my hands and look down at the table to see a napkin sitting there with writing on it.

April fools Brad!!!

Missed you so much.

I have so much to explain. Come for Easter? Love always and forever. Miche.

Ps. Get some allergy pills or something, you look like crap.

PPS. Rip this Kleenex up and throw it out k?

Her number is scrawled on the napkin under it.  It’s a dream, it must be. I almost wipe my nose with the Kleenex she left behind and I shake my head at my stupidity.  I take out my phone and text her immediately, “YES FOR EASTER. ADDRESS? TIME?”  Instead of doing as she asked and destroying the last remnant of knowing she existed, I pocket the Kleenex and leave.

Miche’s back. My love. A spy? Interior design? I don’t know or care, but damn am I glad she’s back.  I whistle the tune to The Beatles hit: Michelle, ma belle, these are words which go together well….my Michelle…..