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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Memorial Day is coming up Soon


And what better way to honor our military men and women than to read stories abut their lives and their bravery and heroism. I'm really into Special Forces. These are military units specially designated, organized, trained, and equipped forces, manned with selected personnel, using unconventional tactics, techniques, and modes of employment. Among them are Dealt Force, SEALs, and Force ReconMarines. I ahvdew rite a bout al tree,  but today I'm focusing on Delta Force, maybe because I just watched for the ten thousandth time the movie with Chuck Norris.

Delta Force is is an elite special mission unit of the United States Army, under operational control of the Joint Special Operations Command. The unit is tasked with specialized missions primarily involving hostage rescue and counter-terrorism, as well as direct actionand special reconnaissance against high-value targets.

In Strike Force I deal with both the comb at and personal lives of four men n a Delta Force Team commanded by Lt. Slade Donovan.

Book #1: Unconditional Surrender, is his story.
Slade Donovan and Kari Malone shared one anonymous night of hot sex. Five years later unexpected circumstances throw them together again and what’s between them burns hotter than ever. But as a member of Delta Force, Slade is wary of relationships, drawn to Kari on the one hand and hesitant on the other.
Kari has her own demons, the stalker she moved to escape who seems to track her everywhere. As the unknown stalker ramps up his game, it will take the Delta Force team to rescue her, and the danger to show them both that what they have is electric, erotic and real.

Excerpt 1


The sound woke her, nothing more than a little squeak and so faint she was surprised she’d even heard it.
Maybe I’m imagining things. Dreaming. I’m so screwed up by this whole thing that anything is possible.
She pinched her eyes shut, tugged the covers up under her chin and tried to think of pleasant things. 
There! She heard it again! A sound like the swishing of air or rustling of fabric. Someone was in her room.
Her cell phone. She needed her cell phone. She reached out a hand and located it in the charger on her nightstand. Could she get to it? Very slowly, barely disturbing the covers, she eased her hand out and grabbed the phone. She had just lifted it from the cradle when fingers closed around her wrist and squeezed.
“We don’t need anyone else here, my lovely.” 
The words were said in a whisper so low she barely heard it, but she definitely felt the pain in her wrist. He released her suddenly but before she could gather her wits, he slapped some kind of tape over her mouth and sat down next to her. His hands stroked lightly over her body and nausea bubbled up inside her. She did her best to roll away from him, trying to avoid the groping hands and the disembodied voice.
“There’s no place for you to go.” The whisper chilled her blood. “You’re all mine.”
Without warning another man materialized beside her bed, his fist connecting with the intruder, again and again. She couldn’t see who it was or what he was doing in her bedroom. She heard a loud grunt of pain, then a thud as a body fell to the floor. Who were they? How did they get there? Did—
She sat bolt upright in bed, shaking, her body covered in sweat even as chills raced over her skin. Turning on the bedside light, she looked around wildly, heart thumping, relieved to see the room empty and nothing disturbed. A nightmare, but it seemed so real. It had to be the cumulative effect of all the other incidents. 
It was him. If only she knew who he was. She didn’t know what he wanted with her or why he wouldn’t leave her alone. Or even what he wanted with her. Would she ever be able to get away from him? 

Book #2 is sniper Beau Williams story.
 A sniper and a reporter—can they face danger together?
Women are the best stress reliever for Delta Force sniper Beau Williams and variety is definitely the spice of his life—until he meets sexy, feisty sports reporter Megan Welles. The sparks between them are caused as much by the heated sexual attraction as by the force of their personalities. But the more time they spend together, the brighter the flame burns. Megan is working on the story of a lifetime—the unexplained deaths of several aging athletes who had stellar years. They only realize how dangerous her hunt is when she receives threatening texts and an attempt is made to take her out of the game. When everything explodes in a hostage situation, Beau and his Delta Force team leader
save her, but Beau can’t deal with the way she put herself in jeopardy and she can’t handle what she sees as his controlling attitude. Can the Christmas season heal the breach between them?
Excerpt:
The honking of a horn interrupted his mental wanderings and he looked up to see the woman herself pulling into the parking area. When she climbed out of the car he took a moment to appreciate the sight of her. Her skin glowed with a light tan and her honey-blonde hair was pulled back in its usual ponytail, emphasizing the smoky grey of her eyes. The pink T-shirt and skinny jeans she wore hugged the curves his hands had memorized every night they’d been together. His cock stood up at attention and saluted at the sight of her, and he had to sue all his brain power to control it.  
 “Welcome home, soldier. Glad you’re here.” Her lips curved in a smile.
He could tell she wasn’t sure just how enthusiastic to be, despite the intense week they’d spent together and the many texts and emails they’d exchanged since then. 
Beau opened his arms.
“Come here and let me wrap my arms around you.”
She walked into his embrace and he hugged her close to his body, loving the soft feel of her breasts against his chest. The enticing scent she wore teased at his nostrils. This was the first time in, well, maybe ever, that he felt excited about a woman in more than a physical way. Almost all the time his habit when he was on leave was to hit the bars running, searching for new faces and hot bodies. Anything where he could shut off his brain and have mindless sex and a few laughs.
This was different and all of a sudden it scared the shit out of him. What if he fucked it up? Made a huge mistake? But then her arms were around his neck and she was kissing him with such enthusiasm he forgot to be worried. Her mouth was so sweet and her lips so soft and velvety. He thrust his tongue into her heat, coaxing hers to slide with him, to dance with him. He closed his eyes and just lost himself in her, the erotic flavor of her erasing the aura of death and destruction he’d lived with for the past several weeks. 


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Monday, May 21, 2018

Kat Martin dishes abut her exciting new book

The Texas Mystique

Since my new book, BEYOND CONTROL--Josh Cain and Victoria Bradford’s story--is set in Texas, I thought it might be fun to talk about one of my favorite places.
There is something special about Texas.  My husband and I lived in Houston for a couple of months one summer and it was a wonderful experience, though at times it was sort of good news and bad.  The people in Texas are extremely friendly, and they always seem to be in a good mood.  
We gorged ourselves on gourmet meals in some of the country’s finest restaurants, but also ate a ton of delicious Tex Mex, Asian, Indian flatbread, and just about everything else. We visited art galleries, the beach, and some of the beautiful ranches in the area.  
That was the good news.  The bad news was Houston in August is HOT. It’s also muggy and sticky and you just can’t wait for October to arrive.  
Two years ago, we traveled to Lubbock for a Western Writers of America conference.  I was reluctant to go in the summer, but it turned out to be a really great trip--hot but dry.  We visited some great museums and met some fun people, including old-time movie star, Barry Corbin, who’s been in everything from Urban Cowboy to The Best Little Whore House in Texas--along with forty-three other movies.    

For the past few years, I’ve been setting my stories in and around Dallas, one of my favorite U.S. cities. In BEYOND CONTROL, Victoria Bradford and her four-year old daughter are on the run from Tory’s abusive ex-fiancé.  Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere, exactly what Josh Cain wanted when he came back from Afghanistan.  Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.
When Tory shows up with her adorable little girl, Josh realizes he is in for trouble of the most personal kind.  But Josh has seen trouble before, and he doesn't scare easy.  Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch.  Not when Tory’s best friend is abducted--not when it looks like things are going to get worse. 
I’ve had great fun writing books set in Texas, including BEYOND REASON and BEYOND DANGER, the first in my Texas Trilogy.  Fortunately, I get to write four more novels set in Dallas around the Maximum Security Agency.  Chase Garrett (You meet him in BEYOND DANGER) runs the company and is the hero of my first book.  It’s out in January of next year.
Texas is a magical place that captured a piece of my soul long ago.  I hope some day you get to visit.  If not, perhaps you might enjoy Josh and Tory in BEYOND CONTROL.  Till next time, all best and happy reading.

 Kat 

******. 
Excerpt
Iron River Ranch
Iron Springs, Texas

Victoria Bradford drove the old blue Chevy Malibu along the two lane road.  Up ahead, a sign hung above a narrow dirt track running off to the west, IRON RIVER RANCH.
“Are we there yet, Mama?” Ivy, her four year old daughter, had asked at a dozen times since they’d left the Walmart parking lot in Iron Springs. The ten mile drive didn’t take long, but to a four year old who’d been in the car for days, they couldn’t reach their destination soon enough.  
“We’re very close, sweetheart. This is the turn, right here.” Tory checked the gas gauge as the wheels left the pavement and started rumbling over the bumpy dirt road.  Less than an eighth of a tank.  She hoped the ranch wasn’t much farther.
More than that, she prayed the job hadn’t already been filled.  
She sighed as the aging Malibu rolled along.  She was basically in bumfrick Egypt, ten miles north of Nowhere Springs, almost out of gas, with twenty three dollars and thirty three cents in her wallet.  
Last night, without enough money for a motel room and afraid to use her credit cards for fear Damon would somehow track her, they’d slept in the car in the Walmart parking lot.  As soon as the McDonald’s opened, she had pulled into the drive-thru and bought Sausage McMuffins, then driven out to the ranch to somehow convince the owner to hire a woman with a daughter and no actual ranching experience.
She thought of the ad in the paper she had spotted last night on the counter in the Iron Springs Café. If she somehow managed to get the job, it would be perfect.  Besides a steady paycheck and the ranch being way off the grid, the position included the use of a double-wide trailer.  
After being on the road for the past three weeks, living out of motel rooms and suitcases, the trailer sounded like a palace.
“Look, Mama, there it is!” Ivy pointed toward the cluster of buildings up ahead, a couple of barns, several fenced training arenas, and a two-story home with dormer windows and a covered porch running the length out in front. A double-wide sat fifty yards away. 
Vast stretches of open green pastureland surrounded the complex where horses and cattle grazed, and there were ponds and woodlands in the distance, and dense copses of trees. 
The Chevy bumped over the last patch of road, pulled up in front of the house, and Tory quickly turned off the engine.  No use wasting what little gas she had left.  
“Mama, there’s a man over there by the barn.”
Her gaze swung in that direction.  There was, indeed, a man.  The noisy buzz of a saw covered the sound of their arrival, giving her time to assess him. 
Shirtless, he was working with his back to them, broad, tanned, and muscled above a narrow waist that disappeared into a pair of faded jeans.  The jeans hugged a round behind and long, powerful legs.  
  He was tall, she saw when he straightened away from his work and walked into the barn, with medium brown hair cut short.  She got her first look at his face when he walked back out, handsome, with a solid jaw and masculine features, at least three days’ growth of whiskers.  
The front of him was just as impressive as the back, a broad chest with solid pecs, muscular biceps, and six pack abs.
Unease filtered through her. This was a strong, powerful male. She knew first hand what a man like that could do to a woman.  
Tory forced down the notion. Not all men were like Damon. Before she’d met him, she had been married to a good and decent man, the father of her child.  Jamie Bradford, her high school sweetheart, was one of the gentlest people she’d ever known.  Her father was a good man, before he’d fallen in love with his secretary and divorced her mother, leaving the two of them alone.
Tory took a courage-building breath.  “Stay here, sweetheart.”  Cracking open the car door, she slid out from behind the wheel.  “Don’t worry, sweetie.  Everything’s going to be okay.”
She hoped.
Ivy sank down in her booster seat, trying to make herself invisible.  Tory had survived the fights, arguments, and finally the brutal beating Damon had given her that had put her in the hospital.  Though he had never hurt Ivy, the little girl had seen the results of his mistreatment, leaving her with an unnatural fear of men.    
Tory glanced at the big, thick-chested male striding toward her, shrugging into a blue denim shirt. Ivy would be terrified of him.  If there was any other way, she would climb back in the car and just drive away.  
There wasn’t.  Tory started walking, meeting the man half way. She glanced around but didn’t see a soul besides the big man in front of her.  Her uneasiness returned but she forced it away.  
“May I help you?” he asked, and she thought that at least he was polite.  
“My name is Tory Ford. I’m looking for Joshua Cain.  Is that you?”  He had blue eyes and a cleft in his chin.  From a purely physical standpoint, the man was flat out hot.    
“I’m Josh Cain.  What can I do for you?”
“I saw your ad in the Iron Springs Gazette.  You’re looking for a stable hand.  I’m here to apply for the job.”
He just shook his head. “I’m afraid it’s a man’s job, Ms. Ford. Mucking out stalls and cleaning tack, feeding the livestock.  It isn’t something you’d want to do.”
“Work isn’t supposed to be fun, Mr. Cain.  That’s why they call it work.  I can muck out stalls, clean tack, and feed stock as well as anyone else.”
“Sorry.  I’m looking for a man.  I appreciate you’re coming out, but--“
“There are laws, Mr. Cain. Equal rights for women.  Have you never heard of that?  Lawsuits against discrimination?”
His jaw hardened.  His eyebrows came down in a frown.  “Are you kidding me?  You’re going to sue me because I won’t hire you to shovel horseshit out of the barn?”
She could feel the heat creeping into her cheeks.  With her fair skin, and fiery red hair, there was no way to hide her embarrassment.  
She looked him straight in the face.  “I need this job, Mr. Cain.  I need the house that comes with it.”  She forced herself to smile.  “Why don’t we compromise?  You give me three days to prove I’m up to the job.  If I’m not, I won’t give you anymore trouble.  Three days.  If you don’t think I can handle the work, I’ll leave.  I won’t argue, I’ll just go.”
A muscle jerked in his cheek. He didn’t like being pressured. He looked at her hard, then those condemning blue eyes traveled over her shoulder to something behind her.  
“Who is that?”
She didn’t have to turn to know Ivy had climbed out of the car.  Like Tory, she was small for her age, but her hair was blond instead of red, and her eyes were blue instead of green.
“That’s my daughter. She’s only four.”  Desperate now, she could feel her heart throbbing softly inside her ribs.  “We need a place, Mr. Cain.  I’ll work hard.  I’ll do whatever you need done.  Just give me a chance.”
He swore the f-word under his breath, not loud enough for Ivy to hear.  Damon wouldn’t have cared.  She clung to the hope that represented.
“What do you plan to do with your daughter while you’re working?  You can’t leave her in the house alone.”
Tory glanced wildly around. She had known this would be a problem. Before, she’d had money enough to hire a sitter or there was day care for employees’ kids.
 She looked at the fenced yard off to the side in front of the trailer. The grass was sparse and in need of a trim.  Maybe he’d had a dog or something, but it was clean and empty now.  The weather was still good and there was a little gazebo with a table and benches in the middle.  She’d be able to keep an eye on Ivy while she was working.  
“She could play in the yard. She likes to color and she already reads kids’ books.  She wouldn’t be any trouble.  If this works out, I’ll have money to pay for a sitter.”
Cain looked at Ivy, paced away then back.  “Dammit.”
“It’s just three days.  If I do a good job, you won’t have to search for someone else.”
He ran a hand over his short brown hair, paced away, then walked back.  “Did you sleep in your car last night?”
She refused to answer. She didn’t want charity from Cain for anyone else. 
“Fine,” he said.  “You’ve got three days.  But I’m not cutting you any slack.  You do a man’s job for a man’s pay.  If you can’t hack it, you’re out of here.”
And from the look on his face, he was clearly hoping she would fail.  Hell, maybe she would.
She managed to fake a smile. “Okay, it’s a deal.”  She stuck out her hand to seal the bargain, for a moment didn’t think he was going to shake.  Then he sighed and took hold of her hand, not too hard, just firm enough to let her know he was in charge.
“You start tomorrow morning. Six A.M. sharp.  There’s enough food in the trailer to last a few days. I’ll bring you a quart of milk. After that, board’s on you.  If you’re still here, you’ll need to make a trip into town for groceries.”
Relief filtered through her, so strong it made her head swim.  She had a place to stay where no one would look for her.  She had a job, which meant food and whatever necessities they needed. If he kept her on, she’d find a sitter to watch Ivy.  She’d have time to figure things out, make a new plan.  
She took a step back, set an arm around her little girl’s shoulders and drew her forward.  “This is my daughter, Ivy.  Ivy, this is Mr. Cain.”
“Hello, Ivy,” he said. He had an unusual voice, deep and resonate, but at the same time soft and oddly compelling.  
Ivy shrunk back.  
“Say hello, honey,” Tory said.
“I don’t want to stay.  I want to go.”  Clinging to Tory’s waist, she burrowed into her.
“She’s shy,” Tory said.  
“The trailer’s unlocked,” Cain said.  “It’s clean and ready to go.”
“Thank you.”  
He turned and started striding back to the barn.  She probably should be at least a little afraid of him.  Oddly, she wasn’t.
Then again, she hadn’t been afraid of Damon, either.

Where to buy it:



Be sure to drop in on Kat

CONTEST LINKS
To CELEBRATE the release of BEYOND CONTROL, enter my new contest for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB and a Kindle copy of AGAINST THE WINDAGAINST THE FIRE and AGAINST THE LAWContest runs from May 1, 2018 through June 30, 2018.
For MAY, Kat Martin is giving away to THREE winners a copy of both INTO THE FURY and MIDNIGHT SUN.
For JUNE, Kat Martin is giving away to THREE winners a copy of both INTO THE FIRESTORM and SEASON OF STRANGERS.





Sunday, May 20, 2018

A Great Day for Romance

Yesterday was a great day for romance authors everywhere. At one of the biggest conferences in the world, authors got up super early, stayed up super late, or gave up a night's sleep entirely to watch the royal wedding. I wasn't there this year, and I had to get up early on Saturday, but I stayed up as late as I dared to see the guests begin to arrive, DVR'd the rest, and rushed home from my errands to watch a solid six hours while  begging my mom who kept calling, wanting to discuss it, not to tell me about things I hadn't seen yet.

So often we all get caught up in politics, family worries, terrible tragedies of the world around us, and it was amazing to spend time watching the beautiful dresses, astounding hats, and the look of love on the face of a handsome prince when his bride arrived at his side. I get teary thinking about it even now.

Even in a world of troubles, there are some aspects of human experience we all long for. Love is a big one. From the giggly nerves of junior high to the first dates of high school, college relationships, work romances, living together, marriage, family. A big part of life.of course romantic love is only one kind, but it's the kind we tell our tales about. Sometimes, in the very best of worlds, a handsome prince meets a strong woman who shares his passion for helping others, helping the world to be a better place, saving the environment from destruction...and she's just the right woman for him.

I think, that's a big reason we love reading romance, and writing it. At least it is for me. But sometimes, it's real life...and that makes for an amazing and special day. I'd like to wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a long and happy life together. They make me feel happy, but more than that, optimistic. They are in a position to effect a lot of positive change, and I think they will. Plus...they love each other so much, that alone makes the world a little more wonderful. Harry's mom would be so proud! (cue more tears).



Moving. Is it a Dirty Word or a New Adventure?

By: Sharon Hamilton

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We are the sum of the parts of many broken and misplaced things. How we put ourselves together is the art form we call life. Isn't that what we call romance too?
I took a deep breath when my husband said, “I'm retiring, and we're going to sell our home.” I'm not a good one for change, as most of you lovely readers know. I hang on to the bitter end sometimes. Most of the time, it has served me well.
But the reality of our aging bodies, and the toll working on the huge house and many acres of garden and land has come to greet me at last. My fantasy world will not give up on this dream of living here, so I'll be able to take some of it with me forever. Not to worry. But the real world has tapped me on the shoulder and told me, “It's time.”
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The room is huge without my old furniture, but that's the idea! Globe needs to be hung over dining table. Carpets are being cleaned. Windows to wash.
We can embrace change in any number of ways. I like to say Change (or circumstance) doesn't make a person, it reveals a person. I'm wanting to kick that particular “ism” all around the bedroom, get it to get dirty with the dust bunnies hiding under my bed. But all that does is mask the knowledge that I have to make lists, and I have to pack from now to oblivion, it seems.
But I've done it! It doesn't matter how many times I think about my husband's decision, it won't help me get into action. I can ruminate about it all after we're done. Right now, we're in purge, staging and beautifying mode. I'm learning to revel in that, and what a surprise, it's not so bad! I have new lawn, new planting boxes. Part of the strategy is protecting and packing away a lot of me in this house, and revealing a lot more about the house, the structure, the land and the gardens. So, in a way, all my lovelies are safely stored, all my personal things I prize are gone and hidden away. All they are going to see are a few selective things that might elicit a smile or warm feeling about the home and the lovely grounds on which it sits.
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Lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers like their new home.
Part of my consternation was, “Where are we going to go?” I'm looking at lots of places. Franklin, Tennessee, is top of my list, mainly because I could create a nice lifestyle there with a quarter of the funds. But my heart has grown to feel at home there now that I've visited it, and visited Tennessee several times. I have lots of writer friends and other dear friends in the area, and nearby.
But staying in California is also an option, or moving East nearer to our other son. There's the beach in Florida calling me, perhaps North Carolina or Virginia. My husband likes Oregon so he can be close to his brother. I'd like to do all of it, but it all depends on what we get for the property.
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Adding more flowers to accentuate the rock walls and the built-in bench
Just like so many things in our lives, it is up to someone else. As much as we plan and strategize, the truth is that a new buyer we accept will determine where and how we live in the future. I've always been lucky with decisions we've made. I can write anywhere. But finding a place I will love living in is most important. Being close to my children and grandchildren is also important. I've cast those nets out into the universe, and something will happen that will allow me to do most of what I want.
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Indian flower boats bookshelves waiting for a new home – a random whimsey
So, it's interesting how I'm coping with the change. I'm getting up, checking my lists, putting on my work clothes, planting flowers in the garden like I'll be here for years to enjoy them come up year after year. Planting vegetables perhaps that will be edible after we move. It doesn't matter, does it? None of us know how long we'll be anywhere in life. As my son said recently in the most beautiful letter I've received from any of my children, “Mom, in your case, if life gave you lemons, you'd make lemon meringue pie!” That's what I'm going to think about.
I haven't been writing for a month. And, for the first time, I'm not sure what I feel like writing next. But I know a good book is in me, waiting to be born. Another love story, that will help heal the little wounds that sometimes come up.
Until then, I'm enjoying the treasures of looking at things I possess I haven't looked at in a long time. I found some baby teeth. Someone's awful wisdom teeth! Found a piece of pottery my daughter made in kindergarten. Found a Parchessi board I had written on when I was about five. We all do that, don't we? Save things for our future selves to enjoy, right? And that has made the packing and path toward this major relocation all the more sparkly. Not the shininess of my tears!
Now's your turn. Where is your favorite place to live if you could live anywhere, and why? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

More ponderisms

This fantastic set of novelettes is doing very well in sales, and I'm proud to be included.  I found it fun to write a shorty, without too many plots and subplots, and just concentrate on the love element.  If you haven't bought this set yet at a fantastic sales price of 99 cents, hurry to your computer and do it now.  You won't be sorry!

I'm going to send you a few more of the ponderisms you all seem to like.......

1. If Fed Ex and UPS were to merge, would it be known as Fed Up? 

2. Do Lipton Tea employees take coffee breaks? 

3. What hair color do they put on the licenses of bald men? 

4. I was wondering how people seem to read the Bible a lot more as they get older, and then it dawned on me.... they're cramming for their final exam.

5. I thought about how mothers feed their babies with little tiny spoons and wondered what did Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?

6. If it's true that we're here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?

7. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

8. Ever wonder what the speed of lighting would be if it didn't zig-zag?

9. Whatever happened fo Preparations A through G?

10. And my favorite......At income tax time, did you ever notice the words 'The' and 'IRS'  when put together spell 'THEIRS'??????

Tell my your favorite, please.  After all I've already told you mine.

'Til next month.....



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#guestpost Extraordinary Experiences by @danneparis #RB4U #romance


Please give D Anne Paris a warm welcome !

Extraordinary Experiences
Moments come and go, but special moments last a lifetime. Make them count!
~Mark Hewer
As many of you may know I love the idea of experiences as gifts. Let's face it, anyone can pick out a gift. If you are truly involved in the process then you would put some thought into it and get a gift that truly matter but not everyone can create a special memory. It takes a special person who has taken it upon themselves to create a special memory.
This is where experiences differ and become extraordinary gifts. Truly special experiences take time, thought and effort. These three combined with the main experience itself tells a story of care and love on its own.
Creating a special experience: A limo tour.
Perhaps your partner is new to the city and has not had the time to see the city's beauty. You may feel compelled to give them a tour but you want the moment to be special. You don't want the tour to simply be about sightseeing and touristy things. You want it to be different from a normal tour. There is one way to spice it up: Rent a private limo and give them a treat they will never forget. It is quite simple and will leave great memories.
Adding special touches.
First, pick a date and contact the limo company to book it. Ask the company for a driver who knows special places in the city and who can act as a tour guide. If your loved one has special interests such as art or loves gardens make sure you mention it to the limo company so the driver will be prepared to take both of you to places that are of interest to them. If you are stopping for a picnic or decide to watch the stars on the beach or park, be sure to bring a blanket to sit on. If it’s chilly take extra blankets to keep yourselves warm. Don’t forget to bring some finger foods and bubbly if you are not stopping at any eateries along the way.
On the way back, you can end the experience by listening to music you both enjoy while savouring the memories you just experienced.
The great thing about giving a memorable experience as a gift is that your loved one doesn’t have to look for somewhere to keep the gift or remember to use it. They will have the experience with them forever. It becomes a part of them, a part of their good memories.

About the author:
D. Anne Paris began conjuring up stories even before she could put words on paper. When other kids in her class submitted stories about their vacations and puppies, she submitted ones that had to be blessed by a priest.

The paranormal has always called out to her and she’s usually the one that’s running into haunted houses and graveyards. She strongly believes Halloween should be a national holiday and everyone should have a favorite paranormal hero or heroine.

When not in the writing cave D.Anne can be found in the garage working on her first love- her Trans Am, or working on her blueberry farm. She is the wife of one hot Silver Fox and the mom of one mini salesman who tries to convince his friend's mothers to buy her books.

Her next book Strength of Love will be available on Amazon May 3rd.  https://www.amazon.com/D.-Anne-Paris/e/B01DB8C2TE/

Here’s a short blurb about Strength of Love.


With his special powers, Jason “Tiny” Tucker could handle anything.

Bullets, hauling cars, Bigfoot, nothing scared him. When a psychotic ex-lover captures and tortures him, he loses his powers and himself. His only light is his angel, Elle, who opened the door to his heart but hasn’t fallen for his good looks and charm. When Elle succumbs to the after effects of her powers it stirs emotions he never knew existed. Now it’s up to him to help her heal and unleash the passion trapped inside of her.

Despite her miserable past, Elle Stevens became a healer.

Determined not to turn into her promiscuous mother, Elle leads a celibate life focused solely on helping others. When she meets Tiny he awakens feelings in her that she tries to push away but her heart and body crave. It’s hard to control when she’s tasked with helping him heal from his wounds. Harder when he stays by her side day and night.  Impossible when she looks into his eyes and sees a future she thought she could never have.

Unfortunately, someone has other plans for them and they don’t include a happy ever after.



You can find D. Anne through these channels:
Website – http://www.danneparis.com
Blog – http://www.danneparis.com/blog/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/danneparis
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authordanneparis
Amazon Author Page -https://www.amazon.com/D.-Anne-Paris/e/B01DB8C2TE/

Thursday, May 10, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG: Venice of the North

VENICE OF THE NORTH
Before I traveled in Russia in 2004, the term “Venice of the North” meant nothing to me. Color me dense.

A great deal of St. Petersburg’s charm derives being built around a network of canals and rivers, and the most incredible bridges you can imagine, bringing pedestrian and vehicle traffic across those canals. In addition to being the main lifeblood of the city, the waterways help define the unique atmosphere by creating eerie mists which rise from the frozen water in the winter and glimmering mirror facades in the summer.

ONE OF EUROPE’S MOST ROMANTIC CITIESSaint Petersburg, Russia, is one of the most romantic cities in Europe, with an ambiance which maximizes the rich cultural background and history of Russia. Both the country and the city are vast sources of inspiration.
St. Petersburg is the setting I selected for my soon-to-be-release romantic suspense, ALL FOR SPILLED BLOOD, book four in the Tour Director Extraordinaire series. You'll walk through the city with the heroine, Harriet Ruby, and her spy fiancé, Will Talbot, as Harriet takes on her first spy mission.                
     Google Borderline map of Russia showing
      geographical relationship to adjacent countries

St. Petersburg (population now 5.28 million) is located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. Founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, it served as the capital of Russia from 1703 to 1728 and again from 1732 to 1918. In 1914, the name was changed to Petrograd. In 1924, again it was changed, this time to Leningrad. In 1991, the city’s official name went back to Saint Petersburg.
The area was originally developed as the fortress Nyenskans in 1611 by Swedish colonists. In 1703 the Tsar began to build a new city to be the capital of his empire and a seaport in order to trade with Europe. The physical construction was done by conscripted Russian and Swedish prisoners of war.
The first buildings were situated on ten islands to the north side of the Neva in the river delta. As the city grew, the center moved south of the river. Today St. Petersburg spreads over more than forty islands, with 342 public bridges cataloged, all sizes, types, and designs. It’s impossible to walk more than a few hundred meters without crossing a bridge.
                                   Tourist map of the city
Peter the Great created St. Petersburg to be as much like a European city as possible. While the older parts have the definite “feel” of a European city, the buildings themselves take on some of the special expansive qualities typical of Russian architecture. Nothing ancient in St. Petersburg, but plenty of marvelous things to see.

Being built on the marshlands of the delta, there are at least seven rivers, four major canals, and other smaller canals running through the city, over 180 miles, and 800 bridges of all sizes to cross them.
The climate in St. Petersburg is described as mild, but that depends on what you’re used to. Winters, with freezing winds and snow, average around 9ºF to 10ºF (-13ºC to -12ºC), and during those months the Neva River is frozen solid. You can see in the photo that it is a wide river.
  


The Tsar expected residents of the city move around during the summer months by boat on the canals. In the winter, when the canals are frozen, the people were to use them with sleds. There were few, if any, bridges.
Good luck with that! After Peter’s death, the city started building bridges at the demand of the public. The first permanent bridge of bricks and stone across the main branch of the Neva was constructed in 1850.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood*                                                    
Gribojedov (Griboedov) Canal                                           The Winter Canal   ​                                        
 
The Bolshaya River       


Trinity Bridge/ frozen river    
                
Griffons at Bank Bridge                                                               


IN ADDITION TO CANALS AND BRIDGES
There is so much to see there, but don’t expect any of it to be ancient – the city itself isn’t that old by European standards -- and there are many modern marvels to see as well. A few of the must-see places are listed below, but there are so many more.


The State Hermitage Museum
This five building complex was initially the winter palace of the imperial family built in 1754-62.  Nicholas I opened it as a public museum in 1852. The museum and houses nearly three million works of art.
The General Staff Building
This neo-class structure is located on Palace Square across from the Heritage Museum, has a triumphal arch adorned with a bronze sculpture of the mythical Victory in her six-horsed chariot. The monument commemorates Russian victory over Napoleonic France in the War of 1812.
Peterhof Palace
Located outside St. Petersburg, Peter the Great built this palace in 1714-21, intending its magnificent fountains and gardens would rival French Versailles.
The Catherine Palace
Named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death, the Catherine Palace was originally a modest two-story building commissioned by Peter for Catherine in 1717. The Palace owes  its awesome size and  grandeur to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who chose Tsarskoe Selo as her chief summer residence. 
Statues and Sculptures abound in the city and there will be one any place you choose to go. Many are serious monumental dedications to heroes of history, mythology and famous people. Others, contemporary, are more whimsical.
Churches and Cathedrals of St. Petersburg, despite being used under Communist rule as everything but churches and were plundered for their fabulous decorations and icons, many have been restored and they are the highlights of a visit there.

They deserve their own article which will be coming next month.


ALL FOR SPILLED BLOOD
Book four in the Tour Director Extraordinaire series
Scheduled for release in July 2018

An international youth convention, art smugglers, and terrorists trying to recruit young computer geniuses and a national art treasure.

Harriet Ruby, tour director extraordinaire, and her fiancé and favorite spy, Will Talbot, travel to Russia undercover as tour directors for the US delegation to an international youth conference. Harriet tackles her first covert assignment to investigate smuggled artwork while Will’s mission is to locate and destroy a group of terrorists recruiting young computer experts.

Their marriage plans hit a snag when Will locates a long-lost cousin with startling news about his heritage. When the artwork being smuggled has particular significance to one of the terrorist sympathizers, their missions entangle and begin to unravel, leaving Will at the mercy of terrorist kidnappers and Harriet holding the bag.

Excerpt

We waited without speaking.

I crossed and uncrossed my legs a dozen times and pulled nervously at the hem of my skirt, still unsure whether I wanted to be a spy.

I could get killed doing that.

While I stared out the large window overlooking the pink carpet of cherry blossoms arching over the streets of Washington, DC, the woman we waited for breezed into the office and took her place behind the desk in front of us.

"Good morning, Ms. Ruby." Eleanor Morrison nodded formally, speaking as if the Department of Homeland Security required the use of surnames, then added, "Harriet." She turned her smile to my fiancé. "Agent Talbot. Will."

The formalities dispensed with, Eleanor settled into her leather chair, rested her elbows on the surface of the teakwood desk, and leaned forward. Her intense gray eyes studied me and then flicked to Will. "Thank you for coming." She spoke as though we happened to be in the neighborhood and dropped in for a visit on the spur of the moment.

I returned her smile with a broad grin. "Our pleasure."

Will and I liked Eleanor. Otherwise, I wouldn't have traveled all the way from Rome, and Will from Spain, to be there. Of course, Eleanor Morrison was not her real name, only the cover name we knew and used. Spooks didn’t have real names: one of the rules of spydom.

"I wasn't sure if you would still be interested in doing work for me." She peaked and unpeaked her fingers. "I thought you two would be married by now and have other things on your minds."

Will and I exchanged a glance. Eleanor quirked an eyebrow. She didn't miss much. Being the definitive perfectionist, her nature didn't permit her to overlook even the slightest innuendo or gesture. Her attention to detail defied reproach, particularly when it came to her official responsibilities. Fortunately for the US, she worked for our side.

"We're still engaged," Will replied, his tone curious. "Does it make any difference whether we're married or not?"

She pursed her lips. "Married might be better for this mission, but we can make it work." Her sentence ended in a shrug. She picked up a sheaf of papers and tapped them on the surface of the desk until the edges aligned perfectly, then set them in front of her.

I shifted in my seat and clasped my hands together in my lap to keep from waving them around or picking at the arm of the chair. At best, patience and I maintained an uneasy alliance, although I'd learned a lot during the past two and a half years with Will, some of it too personal to even think about without getting hot.

He and I shared such a profound emotional connection, almost at the molecular level, that at times it seemed we read each other's minds. But sitting there in Eleanor's office, as I searched his face and body language for his reaction to her offer, I read nothing. He was playing it close to the vest and screening me out.

My decision. He would not intervene.

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue
AUTHOR R. ANN SIRACUSA

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