Friday, December 28, 2018

Book Blitz & Giveaway - THE COWBOY'S FORGETFUL BRIDE by Leslie North

The Cowboy’s Forgetful Bride
Leslie North
(Brothers of the Cooper Ranch, #1)
Publication date: December 27th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Bella Whitmore is the heir to the Whitmore Shipping fortune. Refusing to be pigeon-holed into the socialite box, Bella has worked her entire life to show her father that she can be the son he never had and take over the Whitmore Shipping Empire. So when she wakes up, on a ranch in Montana, missing the memories of the last month of her life, you’d think that would be the worst case scenario. And it is…until she realizes the devil she’d worked so hard to avoid for the last year is now her husband.
Sawyer Cooper knows he’s a devil. Handsome, charismatic, and with an eye for feeding people’s vices, Sawyer’s reinvented himself as a shark in the business world, but very few realize that he’s actually a Cooper of the Country Coop fortune. But rather than resting on the laurels (and red-neck reputation) of Country Coop, Sawyer wants to show the world exactly how important farming can be. To do this, he needs Bella Whitmore’s help. Every bit as beautiful as her name suggests, and smarter than everyone else in the room, Sawyer knows that she could make his dreams come true, both inside and outside of the bedroom. And after a year of pursuing her, she’s finally said yes — to everything.
But after a horseback riding accident, Bella’s brain has reset back to the beginning, and Sawyer was never good at starting a game over. Especially not after he’d already won. Now, Sawyer needs to figure out how to woo her for a second time. Because this time around it’s not just his professional pride on the line: it’s his heart.
She had a lot of nerve to show up looking so goddamned gorgeous and not deign to give him the time of day.
Sawyer Cooper liked nerve.
Their game had been going on for the better part of a year now. Function after function, they would circle each other—or more accurately, he would circle, like a wolf closing in on an unsuspecting pronghorn—and when he had all but backed her into a corner, she would finally turn to acknowledge him with a show of polite surprise.
God, their game of cat and mouse turned him on more than he had ever imagined it would. He’d been crossing paths with her since he settled in Boston, and she was one of the reasons he’d stayed so long, even enduring stuffy events like this one. He liked to keep his distance from Montana anyway—and the family business he wanted no part of. The Country Coop chain of farm stores was his family’s legacy; it was an empire, all right, but in a family of three brothers, could you ever really be the undisputed king of it? No, Sawyer wanted to make his own waves in the world, and that meant divorcing himself completely from Country Coop and its redneck reputation.
Sawyer wanted a lot of things, but he had never wanted to bed a woman as thoroughly—and hopefully repeatedly—as he wanted to bed Bella. Problem was, the vixen knew it. How could she be oblivious, when Sawyer himself made it so obvious? He had done everything except outright ask her for a romp between the sheets. He still had some shred of pride, despite Bella’s persistent ability to test it.
Looking like that, tonight just might be the night she brought him to his knees.

Author Bio:
Leslie North is the pen name for a critically-acclaimed author of women’s contemporary romance and fiction. The anonymity gives her the perfect opportunity to paint with her full artistic palette, especially in the romance and erotic fantasy genres.
The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren’t afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east.
Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie.
She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don’t hesitate to contact her via e-mail:


Sunday, December 23, 2018

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - Don't Eat the Jello at Grandma's House

I once overheard my daughter telling my grandchildren as they walked up the front steps to my house, "Just don't eat the Jello at Grandma's house". 

At first I didn't understand what she meant. But then it hit me. Grandma likes to make Jello shots. All kinds of Jello shots.

So just to avoid confusion and to make sure the grandkids don't accidently pick up the wrong Jello, I DO NOT MAKE JELLO FOR MY GRANDKIDS (except for the ones who are over 21).

Do you have any idea how many different kinds of Jello shots a person can make? Hundreds! Be creative! Just don't show them to the grandkids.

I recently went to a Book Club Christmas party and brought along a batch of Margarita Jello Shots, made with tequilla and rimmed with red colored salt. Pretty tasty!

You can actually create a different Jello shot for just about any holiday or occasion.

For New Year's, try using plain gelatin, cream soda, and then add champagne with a few colored sugar sprinkles on top. These can be very pretty!

This one can be a bit tricky, but for Valentine's Day, you can hollow out some strawberries and fill them with red Jello spiked with rum and a bit of triple sec. Easy to eat since you can pop the entire strawberry in your mouth! Yes, I know it's not very lady-like, but trying to take little bites can be quite messy. I can't take credit for the picture on the left. Mine never turn out that perfect.

I have not tried these St. Patty's Day treats yet, but I may give it a try this year. I found this recipe on They used sweetened condensed milk for that creamy layer and extra green food coloring for other layers. They also used lime vodka. I don't think I have any of that, so I'll probably just use Irish whiskey. Maybe a touch of Baileys in that creamy layer instead of the sweetened condensed milk. Hmmm. I like to improvise.

For the Fourth of July, I have made this one many times. But again, I improvise from year to year. Blueberry Jello, cherry or strawberry Jello and whipped cream are used. 

I tend to spike these with vodka and top them with a sprinkling of Pop Rocks! 

Oh! And those little toothpick American flags!

On Halloween, there are so many ideas that pop into my head. Jello shots with little spiders inside, ones that look like an eyeball staring at you and so many more. I think my favorite is another layered one though. I guess that's because I love candy corn. Again, you can flavor it with your favorite liquor, keeping in mind that the color of the liquor may change the color of the jello shot. And mixing it up with different liquors for different colored layers isn't always tasty. It just depends on what you mix. Sweetened condensed milk is good to add to the creamy layers, but don't add too much. 

Get creative! But don't sample too much. You never know what you'll end up with.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled if more is needed

1 3-oz. box of flavored Jello
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup of cool water or ice to equal that amount
1/2 cup liquor (vodka, rum, or whatever)

Add boiling water to gelatin mix, stir 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water or ice. Add alcohol. (Note: Be sure to add the cold water before the liquor. Adding liquor to boiling water takes the zing out.) 

Pour into desired containers and chill until firm.

Monday, December 17, 2018


Once Upon the Longest Night
Publication date: December 21st 2018
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
The longest night. A vampire’s delight.
The winter solstice, a time of birth and rebirth, life and death, waning light and rising darkness. A time when those who flee the sun and crave the taste of blood find their greatest solace.
But one never knows what the longest night might hold.
Once Upon the Longest Night, a collection of adult paranormal romances, features eight novelettes of lovers and their battles against one of the greatest legends of our time: the vampire. A 15th-century seaman and the love of his life come face to face with a vengeful manjasang. In ancient Rome, a hunted priestess captured by a loyal centurion offers her aid to the enemy. With the help of a handsome Royal courier, a reluctant Romanian princess braves the curse flowing within her noble blood. Danger awaits when a vampire in the far reaches of North Dakota must endure the lethal cold to protect the woman she loves. And in a future New York, a broken general returns home for the Longest Night Ball where he meets a young male witch who might change his life forever.
This anthology combines vampire mythos and affairs of the heart with the sacred symbolism and magic of the winter season.
Sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to the Longest Night.
Heat levels: Sweet to erotic.
From His Last Battle by Sara Dobie Bauer:
Story Blurb:

Suffering from PTSD, vampire general Devlin Frost returns home from the war on Lycans and attends the historic Longest Night Ball. Here, royal witch Elijah Crow must choose three immortal suitors to compete for his love and power. When Devlin is shockingly chosen as one of the three, his immediate attraction to the young witch coaxes him into entering the fray, but this battle is for more than Elijah’s love. The broken general might also win back his ruined heart and bruised soul—if he survives the night.
Everyone knew Westwyck Coven threw the best Longest Night Ball. Devlin had been there before, six years prior, before heading off on another successful tour to battle the Lycans in Africa. Ever since they’d butchered all the humans on that continent, the werewolves had been trying to invade upon the rest of the world.
He’d only been home for a matter of weeks and had yet to remember how to be normal, although “normal” was difficult to quantify within the bounds of fae high society. As a soldier, the aristocracy frustrated Devlin. He’d spent hundreds of years fighting bloody battles with wolves, yet it was the wealthy that scared him most—with their passive-aggressive posturing and sickly sweet smiles. At least werewolves came at him with teeth bared. Now that he was back in New York, it was impossible to know who wanted to be a friend and who wanted him dead.
And, there was the matter of the posadh.
Some royal witch had apparently just turned eighteen, and as per custom, she was forced to choose three possible vampire mates to compete over her for the duration of December twenty-first’s darkest hours. Deflowering a virgin witch gave vampires increased power—whether that be physical, influential, or financial. That power could last upward of one hundred years, so competition was famously fierce. At least one of the three “suitors” usually ended up dead. It was a disgusting business but part of fae high society. The union benefited vampires, but it also granted witches a vampire’s immortality, ensuring the secrets of magic lived on and on, all part of the treaty’s give and take. Devlin wanted nothing to do with it. Already, he missed the war.
To rectify his unease, he had wandered away from the grand ballroom an hour before. He now perused the quiet back hallways of Westwyck Estate, far from the sound of an impressive all-witch orchestra that played Christmas carols arranged as waltzes and tangos. He sipped a rich mixture of blood and sweet red wine from a crystal goblet as he strolled, taking in the mansion’s interior. In homage to ancient tradition, electric lights had been dimmed for the night, replaced by tall, gilded torches standing at intervals down the endless hall. Their dancing flames cast flickering shadows on the walls, creating what he assumed should be a sensual mood. Instead, he thought of battles long past, bloody fangs in firelight. As opposed to terror, the memory afforded perspective. He would much rather have been at a twilight fight than surrounded by the cultural complexities of a fancy ball.
On the walls, papered in forest green, hung massive portraits of Westwyck witches who’d come before—men and women who’d probably died long before the treaty. For all he knew, vampires had killed some of them. Magic and blood fae hadn’t always been buddy-buddy.
He was leaning forward, almost nose-to-nose with the painting of an ugly witch named Galahad, when a hidden door sprang open to his right. A blood-soaked Lycan lunged with jaws wide.
Devlin vaguely heard his wine glass shatter. He punched the monster once in its gaping jaw, twice beneath its hairy ribs, then unleashed his own fangs, prepared to tear the monster’s throat. But a bright green light flashed through the hall, momentarily blinding him. He didn’t notice the pain until his back slammed against a wall, and he melted to the floor.
He curled in on himself, moaning. He hadn’t been hit by a spell like that in… Never. He had never felt such power in his long, long life. He tried to stand, ready to fight more and more—fight forever if he had to—but a tall, dark shape pointed a glowing finger in his face.
Eyes unfocused, Devlin at first thought the tall creature looming above him a phantom until it said, “General Devlin?”
He blinked and tried to swallow around the lingering pain rising from his gut. He tasted blood, but at least pain allowed a little clarity.
Devlin sought his werewolf adversary but saw nothing more than a heavyset thug with a bloody nose, groaning on the floor ten feet away. And the phantom wasn’t a phantom at all but a man.
Though young, he held the bearing of someone who knew how to own a room. Despite being thin and in possession of such delicate features as to appear feminine, he held his shoulders up and back, his chin high—like a soldier bracing for battle. In an all-black suit, the witch was all the more ominous due to his glowing green pointer finger, still directed at Devlin’s nose.
“I’m sorry.” Devlin pressed the heel of his hand to his throbbing temple. “I thought…” The words solidified in his throat. War had followed him home.
After his last tour—when he’d started seeing imaginary enemies everywhere—he’d been forcibly sent home to New York. The doctors said the delusions would stop once away from combat. They said to give it time. Get married. Get settled. Find happiness. But what did doctors know about being a soldier?
The phantom lowered his glowing hand and spoke over his shoulder. “Jesus, stop moping, Lucius. Some bodyguard you are. Clean yourself up.”
The injured “bodyguard” swore and shoved to his feet before disappearing through the door hidden in the wall, leaving Devlin alone with the witch.
Devlin stood slowly—no sudden moves with this witch around—and eyed the man warily. “You don’t seem like you need a bodyguard.”
With a cocked brow, the witch shrugged a slender shoulder. “I don’t, but my mother insists.”
Hand no longer glowing, he reached up to touch the long scar on Devlin’s cheek.
Devlin caught his wrist and squeezed, feeling a powerful pulse radiating into his palm. It tempted him far more than it should have. “Don’t be rude,” he said.
The witch smiled, and Devlin instantly read the question glittering in his eyes: Or what?
Hand still in Devlin’s grip, the witch’s dark eyes drifted over him, taking in the navy blue uniform and cornucopia of medals over his heart. “The great general.” A hint of admiration warmed his voice. “My grandfather used to tell stories about you. But you’ve been gone.”
Devlin still held the witch’s hand. He couldn’t seem to let go—or, perhaps, he didn’t want to. He swallowed hard, realizing how long it had been since he’d stood close enough to smell desire in someone’s blood. He smelled it now. “Only six years,” he said.
“That’s a long time. To me.”
“It would be.”
Devlin couldn’t keep from studying the witch more closely. He had the tender skin of innocent youth, the unbridled passion of a boy on the cusp of manhood, and the eyes of a fearless soul. It was almost too much. Too tantalizing.
Finally, Devlin forced himself to let go. He busied his hands with straightening his suit. “Are you even legal?”
The witch touched his wrist where Devlin’s grip had been, as though he’d felt the heat between them, too. On an exhale, he pushed black curls behind his ear and stared at Devlin, who found such scrutiny unnerving. He would have sworn the witch saw straight to the depths of his dead, empty heart. Based on Devlin’s reputation, the witch should have been scared; instead, he tilted forward, closer. He was recklessly confident for a man his age. But more than that, this magic fae carried something akin to fire beneath his skin.
And Devlin wanted to be burned.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - What to Give the Teens for Christmas

Do you struggle with ideas on what to give the teenage kids or grandkids on your Christmas shopping list? An ugly handmade sweater? Pajama's that totally embarrass them? 

Money is generally what they want and money is always a last resort, but that is such a boring gift. 

Over the years, I have come up with some innovative ways of making that money gift rather special. And I love seeing the smiles on my grandkid's faces as they wonder what grandma has come up with each year. 

Here are just a few of the ideas I've used over the years...

Something for a Rainy Day - Take $1 bills and tape them to the underside of an umbrella so that they dangle down. Use as many as you wish. I think I used around 25. Watch their surprise as they open the umbrella and see all the money!

Open a Can of Worms - Buy some cans of soup with the pop top lid but use one of those can openers that open the can under the ridge. Wash out the can thoroughly and put the money in a small plastic bag (you can find these in craft stores) and place it in the bottom of the can. Then fill the can with gummy worms and replace the lid using a bit of super glue. It will look like an unopened can of soup. When they pop the lid they will find the gummy worms and the money surprise in the bottom.

Go Nutty - One year I purchased several bowls of walnuts with nutcrackers. Each evening before Christmas as I sat to watch a Hallmark movie (you know you do the same thing at this time of year), I would take a knife and carefully pry open each walnut, scoop out the nut, insert a folded dollar bill and reseal the walnut using super glue. When the kids opened their gift and cracked open a walnut, they got a bigger surprise!

Cupcakes with an even Sweeter Surprise - They truly enjoyed this one! I baked five or six cupcakes for each child. Before frosting them, I cut a hole in the center and inserted cash which had been put inside one of those little plastic bags I mentioned previously. Then I re-inserted the cutout cake piece and piled frosting on top. Each cupcake in each grandkid's box had a different amount inserted. $1, $5, or $10.

Get Them to Wash their Hands - I felt especially crafty one year and purchased supplies to make my own bars of soap. In the middle of each bar I inserted a rolled up dollar bill (whatever denomination you prefer). The rule was that they could not cut into it. They must wash their hands until the soap diminishes enough to get the money.

Fun Way to Have a Ball - Last year I noticed that Glad Wrap had a sale on rolls of their Christmas colored plastic wrap, so I purchased several rolls. I started out with a cute little tiny box where I had inserted some cash. I wrapped that in the plastic wrap... but I kept wrapping. I wrapped around and around, over and over again, occasionally inserting a piece of candy or small toy. By the time I finished, I had this huge ball that the kids had to peel off piece by piece.

That's all I can remember right now, but if you have any ideas of other creative ways to give cash, comment below or email me. I'm always looking for more ways to torture my grandkids!

Merry Christmas!


As children, this was always a treat for us. It was not only fun pulling the taffy, but great to eat!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter plus extra for coating hands

Combine sugar, water, vinegar and butter in a heavy, nonreactive pan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise heat and cook quickly, about 20 minutes, without  stirring until a teaspoon of the mixture dropped into a glass of cold water forms a ball and gets hard. (Grandma didn't own a candy thermometer) Watch the boil carefully so the taffy does not burn.  Turn off heat and add the vanilla extract.

Pour the taffy into a generously buttered platter or cookie sheet with low sides. When it is cool enough to handle, let the kids grease their clean hands with butter, take a lump of taffy, and pull and stretch it until it is light and slightly firm.  The longer they stretch, pull, and twish the candy, the more air it will have and the closer to beach taffy it will get. The lump can then be cut with scissors into bite-size pieces.  When completely cool, wrap each piece in waxed paper. Makes 45 1-inch candies.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Book Blitz & Giveaway - FALSE HOPE by Meli Raine

False Hope
Meli Raine
(False, #2)
Publication date: December 10th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
She thinks she’s fooled me. But I’ve known all along.
Lily is hiding something, a secret so big, she came out of a year-long coma and her first instinct was to lie.
Who does that? Someone who is afraid. No—not afraid.
Terrified. And it’s my job to take that fear away.
My partner and I have spent countless man-hours hunting down the cold-blooded killer who did this to her. Meanwhile, Lily’s spent her waking hours recovering. Getting stronger. Getting smarter.
Staying beautiful.
Never get involved emotionally. That’s my dictate. Never get attached.
When you realize you’re caught in a triangle, it turns out there is no exit.
Crossing a line is easy. Holding a line takes strength.
Lily’s shooter knows that she’s my weakness.
One I have to get back.
No matter what it takes.
If unicorns had a flavor, it would taste like kissing Lily.
Her essence is still on the tip of my tongue as I watch the layered response Lily has mastered. Observe her as that beautiful mind works to line all the pieces up and execute the subterfuge, living in two selves, one ever vigilant, one struggling to stay quiet.
For months now, I’ve felt it. Sensed it.
Now I can taste it, too. Lies have a flavor.
And God help me, I want more of the deliciousness of Lily.
But those lies come with an aftertaste, a bitter acrimony that has an overriding power.
My own words ring in the air like a gong as I wait: When were you going to tell me you’ve been faking the amnesia, Lily? Before or after I sleep with you?
“Sleep with me?” she squeaks, the words catching me off guard. I assumed she’d deny the lying.
Not talk about my fantasies.
“You want to talk about that?” I choke out, amused and sickened. “You’ve been lying to me for close to a year and all you want to talk about is sleeping with me?”
“You brought it up!”
She’s got me there.
“How about this fake amnesia bullshit, Lily? How about we talk about that before we discuss getting sweet between the sheets?”
She blushes.
I get hard.
This—this is why I should have recused myself from this damned assignment long ago. I knew this day would come. I knew I’d have to call her on the lying.
Worse than that—I knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself.

Author Bio:
Meli Raine writes romantic suspense with hot bikers, intense undercover DEA agents, bad boys turned good, and Special Ops heroes — and the women who love them. Meli rode her first motorcycle when she was five years old, but she played in the ocean long before that. She lives in New England with her family.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

New Release Book Review - SPIRIT OF THE TOWERS (Book 6 - The Omni Towers Series) by Jamie A. Waters

Title: Spirit of the Towers (Book 6 of The Omni Towers Series)
Author: Jamie A. Waters
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Post-Apocalyptic 
Release Date: December 13, 2018

About the Book:
Fate may guide you, but it never promises you'll survive…
Valentina once prided herself on her ability to blend in and adapt to any situation. But no one can remain in the shadows forever, especially when faced with the flames of truth.
The alliance between OmniLab and the Coalition is crumbling, and the man Valentina loves is at the heart of it. With people dying and riots threatening the already shaky foundation of the towers, it's a race against time for Valentina to find out who's responsible.
And deep below the surface, the rapids and danger continue to grow...
An unlikely friendship may be the only chance Valentina has to calm the storm and stop the rebellion before it's too late. And if she fails, it's not just her life and the man she loves at risk—but also the spirit of the towers and the secrets lurking beneath the fallen city.

Buy Links: Amazon 
Currently Free on Kindle Unlimited
My Review:

Wow! My heart is still pounding, practically out of my chest! What a fantastic conclusion to a fabulous series. I did not see that ending coming! Wow! Wow! Triple Wow!

Author Jamie Waters is getting known for the twists and turns in her stories, but this one had me totally thrown. Thankfully, although SPIRIT OF THE TOWERS is the conclusion to the series, Ms. Waters left a wee bit of an opening that may allow her to continue with future tales with Kayla, Ariana, Valentina and many of the other amazing characters she has created. I hope so anyway, because I really don't want to see this end.

If you want to read a series about strong women, masculine guys, great romance, intrigue, action, the struggle for survival and hope for the future, this is a must-read series. This reader does not want it to end. Please give us more!

My Rating:

About the Author:
Jamie A. Waters is an award-winning, urban fantasy, science-fiction, and paranormal romance writer. Her first novel was a winner of the Readers' Favorite Award in Science-Fiction Romance and the CIPA EVVY Award in Science-Fiction. 

Jamie currently resides in Florida with two neurotic dogs who enjoy stealing socks. When she's not pursuing her passion of writing, she's usually trying to learn new and interesting random things (like how to pick locks or use the self-cleaning feature of the oven without setting off the fire alarm). In her downtime, she enjoys reading on her Kindle, playing computer games, painting, or acting as a referee between the dragons and fairies currently at war inside her closet. 

You can learn more by visiting: 


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

New Release! CHRISTMAS WITH THE COXWELLS by Deborah Cooke

Title: Christmas With the Coxwells
Author: Deborah Cooke writing as Claire Cross
Genre: , Holidays, Short Stories
Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke 
Release Date: December 9, 2018

About the Book:
Twelve years have passed since events in All or Nothing and it’s time to check in with my favorite family again. When last we heard, Jen had opened a yarn shop, Zach had his first photography show, Matt had finished his first book, Leslie had left the college to teach at a new and smaller school and Annette was going to learn to drive the Jag. James had moved over to the D.A.’s office, Maralys had become a soccer mom and was pregnant, Nick was growing heritage seeds, and Phil was running her garden design business even as she expected her first child. Beverly had adopted a pair of standard poodles and was dating Ross, the veterinarian, and Matt was buying out his siblings’ shares of the family house, Grey Gables, in Rosemount. There have been babies and changes galore, so come and catch up with the Coxwells in this holiday short story.
Buy Links: Amazon 

Great way to start the holidays! This is book #5 in this 5-book series, The Coxwells. Check out the other books and then just sit back and enjoy this holiday short story!

About the Author:
Deborah Cooke sold her first book, a medieval romance which was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix, in 1992. Since then, she has published over fifty romance novels in a wide variety of subgenres, including historical romance, paranormal romance, time travel romance, fantasy romance, contemporary romance, fantasy with romantic elements and paranormal young adult with paranormal elements. She makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn't writing or reading, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

Visit Deborah's websites at

If you would like to meet Deborah Cooke in person, you can see her at Coastal Magic in Daytona Beach in February 2019 where she will be signing books as a Featured Author.  For more information about Coastal Magic, go to  #CMCon19

Monday, December 10, 2018

Book Blitz & Giveaway - SONG OF SACRIFICE by Janell Rhiannon

Song of Sacrifice
Janell Rhiannon
(Homeric Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: December 26th 2018
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Historical
The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time…
…remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.

As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.
Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.
In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.
Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice…
Replaces Song of Princes as the first book in the Homeric Chronicles.
THRITY FOUR, Briseis and Mynes
1262 BCE
“YOUR KINGDOM SOMEDAY, little one.” Briseis rested her hands beneath her round belly, as the child stretched against her ribs. Leaning to the side, she attempted to avoid the uncomfortable tightness building at her lower back. The ache eased and she breathed easy again. Standing from the reclining couch, Briseis walked to the balcony overlooking Lyrnessus’ fields. If she squint her eyes, she could just make out the pale blue of the horizon across the Bay of Edremit. Much farther to the north, she knew Troy stood as the shining citadel of the East. “In another time, that would’ve been yours. I’d thought it mine, before―” Another pain doubled her and she gripped the banister. “By the balls of Zeus! What’s happening?”
Your daughter seeks the light …
Briseis looked around the chamber. “Who’s there?”
Have no fear, daughter, I am with you.
Another pain, this time much sharper and stronger, ripped across her belly and a gush of bloody water splashed at her feet. “Bree! Come quickly! Bree!”
The princess’ chamber door flew open, as the maid servant took in the scene before her. “My lady! By the gods, it’s your time!”
Briseis’ eyes widened in fear. “So soon? I’m not ready. I have―” Her knees buckled.
“My lady!” Bree swept to Briseis’ side, lifting the princess to her feet, half carrying her to the chamber bed.
“The pain. By the … balls of … Zeus. I.can.scarce.breathe.”
There is glory in your pain, Briseis.
“Bree, who else is here?”
“No one, yet,” she said, tucking a sheet about the princess. Bree ran to the door, yelling down the cavernous hall for the midwife. Within moments a gaggle of women flew through the door clucking about the impending royal birth.
Briseis’ scream startled them all. The midwife was at the princess’ side in the blink of an eye, pulling back the privacy sheet. Her hands firmly palpated Briseis’ belly. Without a word, she pushed Briseis’ thighs apart. Her eyes widened.
“What’s wrong?” Briseis asked, tears spilling down her hot cheeks.
The midwife pressed her lips together in a grim line. “My lady, this will be a difficult birth. I must put my hand inside of you to confirm my suspicions.”
“Do it!” Briseis screamed as another pain wracked her body. She groaned in agony as the midwife’s hand pressed into her. “By the gods …”
Bree pressed a cool cloth to her lady’s forehead and cheek.
“The child is breech,” the midwife pronounced, wiping her hands on a towel. A hush settled around the chamber. They all knew it was likely a death sentence to mother, child, or both.
Briseis wept. “No. No. By the gods, no!” Another pain tore through her.
Bree dipped the cooling cloth in the water basin again. “Can nothing be done? Can you save Princess Briseis?”
Briseis rolled back against the cushions. “Save my child, please.”
If that is your wish …
Yes, save my child. “Save my child. Take me instead.”
Bree’s face whitened. “What’s she saying?”
The midwife answered, “What all women say, when faced with such a choice.”
A dusty swirl of air blew into the chamber, snuffing out the oil lamps. The women froze, as a tall, glittering woman emerged from the small storm. Her gown flashed silver and gold. They fell to their knees, heads bowed, the goddess’ name on their lips … Eleithyia.
The goddess glided to Briseis’ side, stars blinking along the hem of her gown as she moved. She reached out a pale, cool hand to Briseis’ forehead. “Calm yourself, daughter. I’m here.”
Briseis smiled weakly. “Gratitude, Goddess.”
Eleithyia signaled to Bree. “You appear a strong maid. Help me set her onto her knees and place her hands on your shoulders.” She looked to the midwife. “Watch. Learn.”
The midwife nodded, as Briseis was placed into position.
The goddess moved her hands on either side of Briseis’ hard belly, running her palms flat against the lower abdomen. “Now, push your daughter to the light. Push like a warrior afield. Push for your life and for hers.”
Briseis cried out in agony, her limbs shaking with effort. Blood spilled as the child’s buttocks crowned.
“Hold your lady tightly.” Eleithyia’s voice was steady, as her hands worked calmly. Gently, she pulled each leg to length. “Push, Briseis.” The goddess, holding the babe with both hands, slightly turned the torso, releasing a shoulder blade and freeing the arm. Then, repeated the same for the other arm. The women gasped as the child hung half-suspended, face down, from Briseis’ body. Eleithyia positioned one hand on the baby’s chest, while the fingers of her other hand cradled the neck and head. “One last push, Briseis. Victory is yours with this battle.”
Briseis’ fingers dug into Bree’s shoulders. She screamed with her final effort, as the goddess guided the slippery child to the light. The princess collapsed against her maid, weeping with her exertions and aching body. Gently, Bree lay Briseis down.
Eleithyia handed the limp newborn to the midwife. “Rub the baby with clean linen, until she cries.” Turning to Briseis, she said, “You’ve won this battle, but you’ll lose the war.”
“What do you mean? What war?”
The goddess stood to her full height, sparkling in the dimly lit room. “The one inside of your heart, daughter.” With the ominous words still hanging in the air, Eleithyia’s image shimmered to nothing.
The midwife stared at the spot the goddess had stood. “By all that is sacred, I never thought in all my days to witness this. Blessed be our princess and her child.”
“Bring me my daughter,” Briseis said, proudly. Once the weight of her baby was settled in her arms, she smiled and joyful tears filled her eyes. “Phila, for love conquers all.”

Author Bio:
In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.
The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.
She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - Remembering Butchie

Has there been someone in your life that has made such an impact on you that your heart just swells with love whenever you think of her?  I met Verna Horton many years ago when I joined an online group of Granny's. We weren't just online friends, we also traveled together. 

Every year we would meet in a city where one of us lived and the "host" granny would take us to all the best places to visit. 
We met in places like Branson, Missouri, and Vancouver, B.C., and Maggie Valley, NC, and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and here in Islamorada, Florida, just to name a few. We had such a grand time each time we got together! (Note: The two bus riders on the lower right were added just for fun... or maybe it was wishful thinking!)

All of these ladies are dear to my heart, but Verna (also known as "Butchie") touched my soul. Whenever I was having a bad day and started grumbling about something, she would tell me "Suck it up and stick it out" or "Put on your big girl panties".  She had such a no-nonsense way of talking to you, but she always had this big smile on her face.

Butchie had an interesting life. She was one of the older ladies in our group, but she was always ready to go on another adventure. She shared some fascinating things about her life and I'd like to share some of her writings with you. She is gone now, but she will always be remembered. I hope her family sees this and realizes just how much she meant to so many.

RE:who am I??????????
(Date Posted:07/10/2009 12:24:27 PM)

I have told all this before and everything pretty much stays the same.  Maybe a few more pounds since I last related any dirt on me!

I was born the second child of some poor country folk who eked out a living during the depression of the 1930's,  farming some one else's' land on shares.  The year was 1930 and Herbert Hoover was the president.  My parents apparently were unaware that they had just given birth to  'perfection'  so they went on to have three more children. So I had three sisters and one brother.

I managed to stay alive during my reckless pre-teen years and graduated from the one room, eight grades school.  I went from there as a Freshman in the high school in a town 20 miles from home.  I went there for four years and graduated with a Major in bad boys and a Minor in cute guys.

I found Mr. Right and wrestled him to the altar.  I had two near perfect sons and had a Beaver Cleaver style life. 

I was P.T.A. President and Cub Scout Den Leader for three years and bowled in a league every Wednesday.

Also was in a group of ladies who got together and played poker every two weeks taking turns hosting.  We drank beer and ate potato chips all afternoon while playing penny ante poker.

Then the foundation crumbled on my playhouse and my Prince became ill.  So I went to work and he had a summer of doing nothing so he was home with the boys.  We were allowed to keep him for four more years before he had to give it up.

I continued in my job and became an officer of the bank where I worked.  The boys grew up, left home, married and there I was.  I was quite content with no thoughts of ever getting married again.  I was quite happy with a part time, some time guy.  I had a man when I needed one or wanted one but never, ever, did I ever want to do laundry for a man, cook his meals, or keep his house.

Then for some reason, it all just flew out the window...........Les came to work in the bank and he said he came there looking for me and I guess he just sort of turned my head and I up and married him! 

That is pretty much ' the rest of the story'.   We had 30 years together before he lost his battle with the big C.

Now I am quite content with my great grandchildren and all my Granny friends. 

Here is another one of her memories she shared with me:

Do you ever see something that triggers another trip down memory lane?  I do and this morning it was waffles for breakfast. I sat down today and wrote a couple more pages to add the book I have put together for my children and grand-children. I will share it with you.

The Summer Of 1938

I was born in Douglas County Kansas in the year of 1930 in a rural area near a little settlement name Richland. Richland is no longer there because in the 1971 Clinton Reservoir was completed and filled, taking over a large number of acres which swallowed up the small town of Richland.

My Father was a farmer and the depression of the 30's along with being in a dust, bowl caused my father to re-think his profession.

My Mother's family had years ago, all migrated to California. My Father thought the employment situation there was better than in Kansas, so he sold off all his livestock, sold his household furniture and belongings.

He then loaded up his wife and four children in a 1929 Ford and headed west. This was in the early spring. Now remember, this was summer time in Kansas and an air conditioned vehicle was not even a dream, I would bet..

There are many things that I remember vividly about that trip across the States. One was Death Valley and another was Needles, California. All the cactus and Joshua trees.

We would have flat tires and hot radiators. I remember Mother and us kids sitting in the shade made by the car while my father patched a tire or found water for the radiator.  We would watch the jack rabbits.

My father always called me the Toilet Inspector because I had to check out one every time we stopped. These were all outhouses, of course, and some were two holers. I do not remember if there were 'His and Her's' or not. Any way, I remember having left a little red jacket that was my favorite in one and it was too far to return to try to find it.

I remember daddy buying us orange soda pop and sometimes Cracker Jacks, in the blue and white box with the little sailor boy on it. That prize in there was so exciting and once we found a coupon on one to send off, along with a quarter, for one of the little white sailor hats. He would also get us an Oh Henry bar or Baby Ruth candy bar.

After arriving in California we found our relatives. My mothers parents were still alive along with all 10 of her brothers and sisters so finding a place to stay was no problem.

My father went to work for the Parks Department mowing the city parks. I remember him finding many lost items in those parks. Two things that stick in my mine is a pair of handcuffs and some stirrups.

I remember the sidewalks being so hot it would burn our feet and we would hop from one clump of grass to another. On some of these walks along hot sandy walks and paths was where I first encountered a horned toad. We would play with them, turn them over and rub their little bellies. My father was afraid of them and he had always been afraid of spiders. The thought of running into one of those Black Widow spiders nearly made him ill.

I saw my first ice cream vender ce there. The sound of music coming from that little truck was just magical. We would run to find it at the very first sound. Ice cream bars were a nickel and if we were real lucky, we would find the word 'FREE'' stamped on the stick after devouring the ice cream.

I also ate my first waffle at one of my Aunt's houses. I had only had pancakes before because we had no electricity in our home. She made the best waffles, she put chopped pecans in them and I am not sure I had ever tasted a pecan. I have tried in past years, to make some and I never quite got it right.
Another thing she made at times was Boston cream pie. I remember it being better than I can make myself. Could it be my taste has changed or has my memory faded or is it just the way it is?

Another Aunt had a small greenhouse and they grew orchids and they also had peacocks. I loved finding their beautiful feathers and I can still remember the racket they made.

My father got the itch to return to Kansas and start over again on a farm. We returned in the fall. We loaded up the same old ford with family and belongings. Only this time I think we must have been quite a site. We looked like we may have been related to 'The Clampet's. Tied down on top of the car was my baby brothers bed that mother bought while there. And she still had that baby bed for all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to use while visiting.'

It was Butchie's "memories" that encouraged me to write my own memories down so that my children and grandchildren will know me just a wee bit better. Unless those memories are shared, future generations will lose so much about the way we lived so many years ago.  Thank you Butchie. You will never be forgotten.

This is by no means a new recipe. It was first found in the early 1940's on a can of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup.  Verna Horton (known online as "Butchie") shared this recipe with my granny friends in Grandma's Gems. These brownies have been made and enjoyed all around the world and one of the gals in our granny group renamed them to honor our good friend, who just happened to live in Texas!

1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1 can Hershey's Chocolate Syrup (16 oz.)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Butter a 9x13 pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs.  Fold in flour and chocolate. Bake at 350 F degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool.

1/2 cup chocolate chips
4 marshmallows
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk

Boil sugar, milk and butter for one minute. Add marshmallows and chips. Beat until thick. Frost.


The Novel Lady Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon