Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Welcome Back, Mary Morgan

Hello, Jennifer! I’m delighted to be a guest on your lovely blog today! I’d like to share a wee bit about my new Highland holiday story…


Wishes Under a Highland Star wraps up the last son of Clan MacFhearguis. In writing Alex and Aine’s story, I found a part of my love story woven into theirs. The stars did collide when I first set my sight on the man who would later become my husband. So yes, I do believe in love at first sight. My knight, though tarnished, was older, brooding, and very much like Alex. But we fell passionately in love, and the rest is history.


To research Alex MacFhearguis, I had to travel back in time to when he first stepped through a story, specifically, Dragon Knight’s Sword. With each book in the Order of the Dragon Knights series, I found a stern, quiet, yet complex character. He hid his angst well at being thrust into the role of leader to the MacFhearguis clan. In addition, the loss of his younger brother, Adam, haunted him. 


When this chieftain encountered a half-Fae lass, he believed himself not worthy of her. However, Aine Fraser proved him wrong each and every moment in their time together. She accepted and loved all of the man—scars and his flaws. 


In the end, they both will understand the meaning and sacrifice in finding true love. 




As chieftain for his clan, Alex MacFhearguis struggles with the burden of an unwanted responsibility. With the midwinter feast approaching, he flees his castle to find comfort and solitude within the forest. Yet on his quest, Alex stumbles into a world filled with magic, mysteries, and a woman with beguiling eyes who could capture his heart.


When half-Fae Aine Fraser makes a powerful wish, her simple request unlocks the magic she possesses and brings forth a Highlander into her world. Though the man has lost all his memories, she finds her attraction growing for this brooding warrior with each passing day. Unable to deny her feelings, Aine risks everything when she confesses her greatest secret.


Can a beauty who wished for a champion tame the beast of Le├▓mhann Castle?



Sneak preview from Wishes Under a Highland Star:


Alex grumbled a curse and walked away. Striding with intent, he gave a curt nod in passing when Aine stepped from her safe haven. 

She hurried after him. “Ye are bleeding.” 

“Aye,” he returned, making long strides through the bailey and ignoring her concern.

“The cut requires tending to. Glenna is a healer. I can take ye there,” she suggested, doing her best to keep up with him. 

“Nae need.” 

“What do ye mean?” she pressed.

Alex clenched his jaw. Rory’s talk about marriage settled like a nettle’s sting. Without a clear path in front of him, he had no intention of luring any woman into his life with false hope. Especially the one who smelled like wildflowers on a spring day with enchanting eyes that beguiled him.

“The wound will heal in time,” he gritted out, sweeping past a yew tree and heading toward the sounds of a nearby stream. 

Aine grasped his arm with a force that surprised him. “Can ye stop for a moment!”

Halting his stride, he glared down at her. The look he gave her would singe the hair from any warrior or animal. “Do ye have more to say?”

“Why do ye refuse aid?” she demanded, fisting her hands on her round hips. 

Her stubborn refusal to leave intrigued Alex. Would she flee if he challenged her? He lowered his head near hers. “Why do ye care?”

Her eyes widened, and her luscious lips parted. “Because I do,” she whispered. 

Alex’s breathing became shallow and the air around them thick. Her pink lips begged to be kissed. Would they be as sweet as berries? Or as heady as the wine he drank last evening? An ache to take her in his arms filled him. 

He wrestled with the conflict—duty, honor, possession. She was pure as new-fallen snow on a crisp morn, and he no better than a rutting stag. Though his hands shook to hold her in his arms, Alex steeled his emotions and moved away from her. 

Ye deserve a better man, Aine. Ye are a beauty, and I am but a beast. 

Aine’s smile came slowly as she took a step toward him and did the unthinkable. Standing on her tiptoes, she brushed a kiss along his bearded cheek. “Is it wrong to care for ye?” 

Indecision plagued him as he regarded her—disbelieving, curious as to what his real fear might be. Shoving aside the conflict within, Alex grasped her around the waist. He nuzzled the spot below her ear. “Ye tempt your fate with a kiss, Aine? With a man ye do not ken?” 

She lifted her gaze to his—her cheeks flushed with a rosy hue. “Did I tempt ye?” 



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About the Author

Multi award-winning paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan resides in Northern California with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.


Mary's passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. Inspired by her love for history and ancient Celtic and Norse mythology, her tales are filled with powerful warriors, brave women, magic, and romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.


If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of fantasy, then travel back in time within the pages of her books.


Connect with Mary here ~


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Monday, December 26, 2022

The End of The Year

2022 is ending and that means I’m looking ahead to 2023. Maybe I’ve gotten used to the world chaos, or maybe I’m in shock, but I wouldn’t say this has been the worst year. Although the last month hasn’t been great with losing Midnight, but my family is healthy, mostly happy, and settled. Life is moving fast with a college graduation approaching, and change is going to be the norm for all of us. 


One of those changes will be my attempts to write blogs more frequently, especially since there will be a lot of book news that I’ll be eager to share. I’m also going to be changing my marketing strategy, and I’m anxious to see what happens. I hope you’ll stick along for the ride, ask questions if you have them, share with friends, and let me know how you’re doing as well. 


Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year. May your 2023 be filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Welcome, Shirley Goldberg

 Interview with Shirley and Lucy, A Little Bit of Lust


Hi, Jenn, I’m Lucy Bernard, the main character in A Little Bit of Lust. Along with Deon Goldbloom, of course. He’s the male lead. I’m here with Shirley Goldberg, who wrote the book. I’ve asked her to talk about writing love scenes, and I’m a bit embarrassed about our subject. I’m not sure why. We’re all adults. [Clears throat] Shall we get started? 

Shirley: This is supposed to be fun. Relax. Feel free to ask questions. 

Lucy: Okay. How steamy are your love scenes? 

Shirley: Everyone’s idea of what is hot in a love scene differs. When my first book, Middle Ageish, came out, one reader told me she thought my sex scenes were “pretty hot.” This surprised me because the love scenes are closed door. 

Lucy: How to you work up to the first love scene in the book?

Shirley: I’m all about discovery, going slowly, a few moans, lots of kissing and…talking. My characters need time to warm up to one another. 

Lucy: I liked the way Deon and I warmed up, as you put it. 

Shirley: Careful. No spoilers. 

Lucy: Tell us more. 

Shirley: Some readers like it hot, while others prefer it sweet or steamy.  Writing love scenes is more about the feels and less about lust. 

Lucy: That may be true, but I like the title of the book. 

Shirley: Thanks, but I’m thinking of Deon saying at one point, “It isn’t easy kissing my best friend.” After he thinks that, he immediately realizes he’s lying to himself. He knows he’s got it bad for Lucy and he worries. The reader picks up on his doubts. 

Lucy: He said that?”

Shirley: Yes, and there’s a ton of subtext behind that one sentence. 

Lucy: You love writing dialog, don’t you? Deon and I banter a lot in the book. 

Shirley: Dialog is such a great way to let readers get to know the characters. In a love scene, the couple talk, banter, tease, and even ask questions. Sexy scenes can be playful. They can be fun and gentle. A drawn out smoochy scene with agonizingly slow undressing is a way to show the emotional connection between characters.  

Lucy: How difficult is writing a love scene? 

Shirley: If I know my characters well, writing love scenes comes naturally as a logical progression of the relationship. [Pauses] Now, let me ask you a question. What are your favorite genres and how steamy do you like your romances? 

Lucy: I’m all over the place, genre-wise. Women’s fiction, romance, historical fiction, paranormal, fantasy and biography. As far as steam, I need those feels you mentioned. As long as emotion is part of the story, I’ll take my books any way they’re served up. 

Shirley: As a writer, steamy is a new thing for me. So far, my sex scenes are closed-door, so when the characters get heated, the door swings shut and the reader imagines the rest. 

But I’m working on a book that takes place in Crete, the largest island in Greece. I lived there for eleven years. My heroine, a widow, rediscovers love and sex. I’ve left the door ajar after a long buildup to the major sex scene. No specific naming of moving parts, by the way.

 Lucy: Sounds intriguing. Anything you’d like to add before we take off? Jenn’s taking us for hot cocoa around the corner. 

Shirley: Diana Gabaldon says that most sex scenes are about “exchanging emotions, not bodily fluids.” 

Lucy: We can ponder on that one. Thanks so much, Shirley, and I appreciate your writing me into your book. Everyone, please post a comment. Tell us if you’re  a sweetie when it comes to love scenes or do you like them steamy? 



Anyone interested in more of author Diana Gabaldon’s wisdom may like to read her excellent book, I Give You My Body, How I Write Sex Scenes. I’d also recommend her Outlander series, but you’re probably well aware of it already. 





Love-cynical Lucy Bernard delights in her independence. Baking, all things Instagram, the occasional special guy, and most of all hanging out with best friends Deon Goldbloom and Phoebe Karis. But when Deon kisses Lucy at the beach on a chilly afternoon, the two friends jump into a lust-filled romantic weekend. So what’s with slotting her into "ignore" status afterward? 


Deon Goldbloom is a widower who can’t move on after his wife's death. Is he a little crazy spending a sexy few days with Lucy and calling it the best time he’s had in four years? Yeah. Except blue Monday comes calling, and Deon isn’t ready for the guilt.


Lucy wonders how a smoochy weekend turns into a friends-with-benefits disaster. And Deon wonders if he’s made the biggest mistake of his life putting Lucy on "ignore." Using all his nerdy charms, he launches a campaign to bring Lucy around. Maybe they can chart a course back to one another if Lucy will only forgive him.



Lucy and Deon wandered through the store to the missy department, jammed with displays and sale racks. What to wear on her Marcus date? A dress or jeans? She could use Deon’s advice, but something told her he was in no mood for anything Marcus. 

He stopped at a rounder of sleeveless, scoop neck tops in jewel colors. “Pink.” He chose a top from the rack. “This is you.” 

She held it against her chest. “Good color for me?”

“That guy Steve was totally flirting.” 

“You think? Should I go for it?” Casual tone with an ah-hah on the inside. Her spine tingled realizing Deon noticed their flirtation. And he was irked. He had no right. She’s the one who should be irked. 

“Depends.” He frowned. “He’s an actor. How long’s he in town for?” His hand scraped his cheek. “I know you’re pissed at me. Ever since that weekend––”  

“Me?” She flipped the price tag on the pink top and her eyebrows shot up in exaggerated surprise. Pissed at Deon? Sure, but she wouldn’t admit it, not to him. “You have good taste.” 

“I’m sorry about––”

“Expensive good taste.” Whatever Deon felt he needed to say, she wasn’t revisiting old wounds.

“Lucy, don’t make me come over there.” An attempt at humor, followed by a hangdog look of regret. “Look, I want to talk to you about…can we talk later? At dinner?”

“Of course. Why wouldn’t we? We always talk at dinner.”  

“You maintain price is no object,” Deon teased, deftly dropping the subject. “A good fit is everything, right?” He moved closer and cupped her chin. “I’m dead serious. About talking.”

She twisted away. So this is how he wants to play it. Seriously, a talk? After the Ignore thing, what more could he possibly say? She wasn’t sure she wanted dinner with Deon after all. “Did I say price is no object?” She pulled out a short black dress and danced it on the hanger. “This is cute.” 

“Nice. You don’t wear much black. Try it on,” he urged. “Try them both on.”

 In the dressing room, Lucy smiled in the mirror. Deon was acting ultra nice, like he had an agenda. Weird. Close dancing at O’Donahue’s and those long looks she’d caught him giving her in her kitchen a week ago. Mixed messages, definitely. 

The pink top showed off her shoulders. At $118.00, it was no bargain, but why did everything have to be on sale? She wasn’t her mother, the ultimate bargain shopper. She wanted this sexy little top so Deon could picture her in it later. With Marcus. 

The pink top has punctum. 

The word came back to her, a surprise. Punctum, the word Deon used a while ago on the beach while they were taking photos. When he’d kissed her for the first time.




Author Bio


Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website offers a humorous look at dating in mid-life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. A Little Bit of Lust is her third book in the series Starting Over, although all her books are standalone. Shirley’s characters all believe you should never leave home without your sense of humor and she agrees. 






Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Welcome, Diana Rubino

A Tradition of Christmas Past: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe, and My Italian Heroine, Based on my Great Grandmother “Josie Red”


My great grandmother Josephine was the matriarch of the family, the mother of my grandfather. “Josie Red” as she was known in downtown Jersey City was way ahead of her time, as a bootlegger during Prohibition, a real estate tycoon, a small-time loan shark, and according to legend, the notorious Jersey City Mayor Hague’s mistress.


Every Christmas Eve, her daughter, my great-aunt Lucretia, a gourmet cook, invited everyone to her house for an Italian feast. Aunt Lucretia always made two types of spaghetti sauce—regular marinara sauce and aglio e olio—but what I remember is it always contained clam sauce, which I wouldn’t touch, so I went for the plain and safe marinara. Kiddies weren’t allowed to, but several adults helped her carry the steaming plates to the long tables set up and covered with holiday-themed tablecloths. She served all the traditional Italian dishes—after the pasta came the ham, then the fruit and nuts, and of course, an array of desserts, always including her famous struffoli (honey balls) and Italian rum cake. My Uncle Eddie tended bar at the other end of the room. 


Vita Caputo, the heroine of my 1894 New York City romance mystery FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, is based on my great grandmother. It’s in print, on Kindle, and now on audio with the expressive voice of Nina Price.



Can an Italian immigrant and an Irish cop fall in love and prove her family’s innocence of murdering his cousin despite poverty and prejudice on Manhattan’s Lower East Side?


It's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany machine. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her brother and father of a murder they didn't commit, they know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. Vita is based on my great grandmother, who left third grade to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother. 



As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. "You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman."

"Tom?" His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.

"No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore something, I think he said." 

No. There can't be anything wrong. "Thanks," she whispered,  nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn't her nature.

“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? She looked him up and down with curious intent. Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper. 

He removed his hat. "Miss Caputo." He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.”

"Yes?" Her voice shook.

"I have a summons for you, Miss Caputo." He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot. 

He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn't do? 

A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. It eclipsed her fear, making her blood boil. She flipped it open and saw the word "Summons" in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons.

Signed and witnessed, it looked very official. She looked up at Theodore. He flashed her a toothy smile.

"He's pazzo, he's just nuts!" She read it again and again, laughing, her eyes filled with tears of relief and happiness. 

“Deeee-lightful, isn’t it, Miss Caputo?” The door opened and he stepped aside. There stood Tom in the doorway. Teddy Roosevelt cuffed him on the chin and vanished.

"I would have arrested you, but I was afraid you would resist." He gave her a playful grin.

She leapt forward and embraced him with every bit of strength she had left, crushing the paper between them. 

"You are just crazy!" was all she could think to say. Still dizzy from the shock, the fright, and the anger that blanketed it all, she juggled a new jumble of titillating emotions.

"You're the one who should be crazy, crazy enough to marry me, that is." 

All her doubts vanished at that instant. “Oh, yes, together we are stronger than any force that would dare keep us apart.”  

In a guarded tone she asked, "You don't mean tonight, do you?" Jadwiga's one-word suggestion flashed through her mind. “Elope.” She wondered if the two of them had planned a slick coup. Was a priest in the parlor waiting to officiate?

He laughed, a halo around his head from the lamp’s glow. "Any night you want. Tonight, tomorrow, next week, just don't make me wait too long."

"How long were you sitting in there?"

"A few hours. I figured you were with your family. Your landlady was nice enough to let me wait. I told her I wanted to surprise you, and I think she figured out what it was. So she didn't interfere. Teddy there, who considerately left us alone, is our commish, and the jokester on the force. He'd have to be, to have gone along with this!"

They went into the parlor and she closed the door, quivering in naughty delight. As she sat on the sofa, he dropped to one knee. He slid his hand into his pocket and brought out a sparkling ring, took her hand and slipped it onto the third finger of her left hand. “Vita, will you marry me?”

“Oh, Tom…” She held it at arm's length, turning her hand this way and that. It glittered in the lamp’s glow.

She would have eloped with him at this minute if he’d asked. If a priest stood in this room, they would have been married by now. She threw her arms around his neck, dizzy with happiness, dizzily in love. “Of course I’ll marry you! Tonight, tomorrow, whenever you want! Oh, how I love you!”  

He sat beside her and she pulled the pins from her bun. Her hair tumbled to her waist, and he stroked it lovingly as she nestled against his chest. Their lips met and parted. Her mind raced . . . we need to set a date!



Recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio:




One pound uncooked spaghetti

6 cloves minced garlic

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese



1.    Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pasta bowl.

2.    Combine garlic and olive oil in a cold skillet. Cook over medium heat to slowly toast garlic, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low when olive oil begins to bubble. Cook and stir until garlic is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3.    Stir red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt into the pasta. Pour in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle on Italian parsley and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; stir until combined.

4.    Serve pasta topped with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.




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