Twelve Days of Christmas: Catherine Gayle

Drive By Lights!
by Catherine Gayle

Ever since I was a very little girl, on Christmas Eve night my mother would load us all up into the car.  As we lived in Texas, some years it would be very cold and we’d all have to bundle up in coats and scarves, and it was quite the ordeal.  Other years, we would be running the air conditioner in the car.

Whether it was hot or cold didn’t matter.  We were off to look at all the holiday lights people used to decorate their houses.

She would drive us slowly up and down the streets, pointing at particularly interesting designs while we all oohed and ahhed. In our town, there was one particular street where each house told the story of one of the 12 Days of Christmas.  This was a favorite street for us to visit each year.  Other neighborhoods might not have been quite as coordinated in their décor, but were no less extravagant.

When I was in high school, one of the houses in town started being lit up to the point that it was nearly blinding, and the lights were set to music.   As much fun as it was to stop by there on Christmas Eve, I was glad we didn’t live on that street.   It had to be really annoying.

No matter how old I got, though, that was a tradition my mother always held to.   She was still driving us around to look at the lights when I was home from college.

When I grew up and moved away, I found that Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas if I didn’t do the same.   I lived in Juneau, Alaska one year, and I worked part-time at the movie theater.   On Christmas Eve, after we closed the movie theater down, I loaded some of the teenagers I worked with into my car and drove them through Juneau, looking at the Christmas lights.   I’m sure that I’ll do something similar now that I live in North Carolina, too.

Do you decorate the outside of your house for Christmas?   Have you ever driven slowly through the decorated neighborhoods to take it all in?

Leave a comment for Catherine and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

 

5960704An Unintended Journey, from A Summons From the Castle

Abby Goddard’s life is going along just swimmingly, apart from the disappearance of her life’s love—Wesley Cavendish, a man well above her station. Just before Christmas, Grandmama dies after revealing the identity of Abby’s grandfather. The Duke of Danby, no less. Now the entire family will travel to Yorkshire to confront Danby, hoping to gain a dowry for Abby. But then Wesley reemerges, sparking a hope Abby thought long destroyed.

Shall the prodigal son’s sole inheritance be an unsightly gash? Wesley Cavendish aspires to the political realm, despite his father’s near-murderous opposition…not to mention his opposition to Abby Goddard. But since Father died, will the new Earl of Fordingham rescind Father’s disgraceful allegations? Fordingham thwarts Wesley at every turn, threatening marriage to a prominent Tory family—which precludes Abby—to put an end to Wesley’s Whig involvement…unless Wesley can find a loophole.

Available at…

Amazon
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And other ebook retailers!

 

I’ve recently released Seven Minutes in Devon, the first book in a new series.

SevenMinutesInDevon (1)During a minutes-long span three years ago, their lives were forever changed when Lady Morgan Cardiff nearly drowned.

Returning to the disastrous scene for the first time, Emma Hathaway is older, wiser—and ready to move on. With her parents quickly aging, she needs a husband. Alas, she is an awkward, bookish girl with no dowry to recommend her, and she is far from being an Incomparable or an heiress who might rouse a gentleman’s interest. Her hopes of changing the ton’s view of her are dashed upon the arrival of the others involved in that life-altering moment. Aidan Cardiff’s perpetual glares prove he blames Emma for Morgan’s scarred, blind condition. His unfounded hatred alone leaves Emma shaken, but his unbidden advances threaten to thwart her husband-hunt.

Ever since his sister’s failed attempts to take her own life, Aidan Cardiff has been a loathsome, brooding artist. He’s spent three years creating artwork to depict the revenge he’d like to exact against anyone, save himself, who can be blamed for Morgan’s pervasive melancholy. Yet his art has been far from enough to assuage the rage he’s built inside. Morgan is finally ready to live again, but Aidan fears letting her out of his sight—particularly with Emma Hathaway, the chit whose very existence sets his blood to boiling. But is the heat fueling his fire due solely to his anger, or is there something more?


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Twelve Days of Christmas: Christi Caldwell

Oh, Christmas Tree

by Christi Caldewll

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a New England Christmas.  Every year since I was a toddler, I’d bundle up (or in those days BE bundled up) and go tromping through the snow, up a mountain to find the perfect tree.

If you’ve ever seen one of those mini-Christmas scene villages that’s what we always thought our Christmas tree expedition would be like.

The reality was always something  different altogether.  Those days my father had to work two jobs to support our family.  The only way we’d be able to get our tree home was not by pulling it by a horse-drawn sleigh — or even in a spacious truck or mini van — but atop the roof of our two door red Ford Escort.  Then there was our family of four; our poor dad was outnumbered 3:1 in the female to male ratio.  So what did this mean for Christmas tree hunting?  It meant that each of us hsd different views on the perfect tree.

I liked them tall and fat.
Then of course my bleeding-heart sister wanted to save every last small, sorry looking tree.
Lastly you have my mom… who, as long as it was loaded with tinsel, any tree would do. That is as long as she could be the one to pick it out.

We always imagined the perfect tree-hunting day but the reality always turned out something more like Chevy Chase’s Christmas vacation.  Family bickering over the perfect tree, my poor dad struggling to load that tree onto our tiny car while the three girls all sat inside, bundled up and warm.

But the laughter we have over those Christmas tree expeditions is so much greater than the perfect miniature Christmas village!

What about you? Are you particular when it comes to your Christmas tree?

Leave a comment for Christi and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

5960704

Winning a Lady’s Heart…

For Lady Alexandra being the source of a cold, calculated wager is bad enough….but when it is waged by Nathaniel Michael Winters, 5th Earl of Pembroke, the man she’s in love with, it results in a broken heart, the scandal of the season, and a summons from her grandfather–the Duke of Danby. To escape Society’s gossip, she hurries to her meeting with the duke , determined to put memories of the earl far behind. Except the duke has other plans for Alexandra….plans which include the 5th Earl of Pembroke!

Available at…

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And other ebook retailers!

Twelve Days of Christmas: Samantha Grace

Banana Pancakes

by Samantha Grace

One of the things I love about being a parent is being in charge of creating happy memories for our kids. I think observing tradition gives everyone a stronger sense of who we are and where we belong. We carry it with us all our lives. The traditions my husband and I observe with our kids are a mix of things from our childhood and new things we wanted to try.

Two of the kids’ favorite traditions are opening one gift on Christmas Eve and banana pancakes on Christmas morning. They love banana pancakes so much they request them year round, but Christmas morning they are a must. (One of my favorite traditions is getting the kids a new ornament every year, and when they have their own homes, they can have the ornaments for their trees.)

The first year I made banana pancakes, I used the recipe out of Sheila Lukins’s All Around the World Cookbook. Now I’ve modified the recipe using a mix to get the pancakes on the table quicker, but her recipe really is superior.

Banana Pancakes

2 cups Krusteaz pancake mix

1 1/3 cups water

¼ cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2-3 mashed ripe bananas

Combine the pancake mix and water with a whisk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Fold in mashed bananas. Grease the griddle with a little vegetable oil.  Pour about ¼ cup of batter on the hot griddle, cook until the edges start to look golden, and flip.

I serve Little Smokies with the pancakes Christmas morning. I figure once a year isn’t bad.

 Twice Upon a Time:Summons Duke

Since her father’s untimely death, Felicity Halliday has relied on the medical knowledge learned at his side to treat London’s most disreputable in order to support her family.  Life has been hard, but everything changes the night she is snatched from an alley behind a theatre and tossed into a nobleman’s carriage. 

It has been less than a fortnight since Julian Beckford returned to London after a sojourn in India, and he’s already up to his top-boots in one of his cousin’s mad schemes. When his foolish cousin decides to engage an actress to play his wife over the holidays at Danby Castle, Julian becomes an unwilling party to the lady’s abduction. Along their journey to Yorkshire, Julian makes a stunning discovery about his cousin’s pretend wife and finds it’s possible to love Twice Upon a Time.

Available NOW at these major retailers…
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Smashwords

ABMChristmasA Beau Monde Bachelor Christmas:

Join newlywed couples Lord and Lady Norwick, Jake and Amelia Hillary, Daniel and Lisette Hillary, and Isaac and Serafine Tucker for their first Christmas together.

Bibi, the Countess of Norwick, would love to give her husband the one thing he really wants for Christmas: a ceasefire between her and his intractable sister. Facing Lady Troll during the holidays without reinforcements, however, would be foolish, and Bibi is no fool. She calls upon her dearest friends, Amelia and Jake Hillary, and a few more familiar faces to spend Christmas in Kent to help make the season a little brighter. Unfortunately, her guests are distracted by their own challenges this holiday season, and Bibi must find a way to connect with her sister-in-law without their help if she hopes to make Jasper’s Christmas wishes come true.

 

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I love to hear from readers, so if you would like to connect with me, you can find me at the following places:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Lady Scribes

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$25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

Twelve Days of Christmas: Phyllis Campbell

Phyllis Campbell is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Here she shares her favorite family tradition…

christmas_lights22

A new family tradition that we started a few years back was to take our grandkids to see Christmas lights. There is a drive-through park not far from our town that is full of Christmas lights and decorations. In this little Christmas village they have a Santa Claus tent where the kids can sit on Santa’s lap and get a candycane. My grandkids love doing this, and afterwards we’ll come back to my house to have hot chocolate. This has now become my favorite tradition. Is it any wonder since I enjoy spending time with the grandkids.

Comment below with your favorite holiday tradition and be entered to win a $25 gift card from the book seller of your choice!
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Becoming a Lady from Summons from His Grace…

His Grace

Dorothy Paxton is not pleased when a handsome Englishman walks into her inn and announces he’s taking her back to England to reunite with the grandfather who turned his back on her years ago. Her escort, Calvin Seton, bribes her by paying her brother’s doctor’s bills, and soon she’s on the ship sailing for London. Little by little, Calvin’s charm softens her heart. While her lady’s companion teaches her to become a lady, Dorothy is secretly wishing Mr. Seton would do some teaching of his own…in his bedroom. Yet she must control her desires or she’s no better than her mother who succumbed to a nobleman, only to have him leave her. Dorothy will not repeat history. Or will she?

Purchase now from these online retailers! (Also available at iTunes, Smashwords, and other major e-booksellers)Amazon
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Visit Phyllis’s website / blog to discover more about her – http://phylliscampbell.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @phylliscampbell

12 Days of Christmas: Christmas in Paradise

IMG_7631If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever want to live in Florida, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. Florida?? Land of alligators and dangling chads?? Are you crazy?!?!

But many of you know that one fateful trip to the Bahamas changed everything. Yes, I know Florida isn’t the Bahamas, but it’s pretty darn close, both in proximity and in “feel.” So, blah, blah, blah, we decided to move here and our original 18-month timeline became 6 months, and well, here we are.

The main thing I was concerned about was how I would feel about wearing flip-flops and going swimming at Christmastime. I love Christmas. This is no secret. And, as most people do, I have always associated this time of year with frigid temps, snow, fireplaces and bundling up, yet still freezing my a** off.

Well, let me tell you…I will NEVER look back. Ever.  (Cue Taylor Swift song, “Weeeeee are never, ever, eveeeeer…getting back together!) You don’t need to be freezing to feel the magic of Christmas. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that I’m way more in the Christmas spirit than I’ve ever been! And those things I love still exist, even here.

For instance, Florida *does* get a little chilly, so I still get to put on a light sweater. And last night, in my light sweater, I ate Grimaldi’s New York pizza al fresco near a blazing heat lamp while watching the Christmas light show! It was MAGICAL!

And this morning, to and from dropping my daughter off at school, I rolled the windows down and blared Christmas music out the windows. Seriously, you haven’t known joy until you’ve had a warm breeze on your face while listening to Bing sing White Christmas.IMG_7678

Oh, and don’t forget snow! Almost every holiday celebration here involves fake snow. But it’s warm! And you don’t have to be bundled up in a gajillion layers of clothing or risk your children getting frostbite!

This last weekend alone was EPIC in terms of Christmas celebrations…breakfast with Santa, holiday boat parade, festival of trees, the children’s holiday festival with petting zoo, tree lightings, etc… We didn’t even make it to all of them though… we had to sleep and eat sometime!!

But no matter where you live, I hope you find the joy and love of the holiday season in your hearts! And to help you get in the mood, we’re kicking off our 12 Days of Christmas giveaway today! Every day, for the next 12 days, I’ll be featuring an author from the Regency Christmas Summons Series here on my blog. Stop by and learn about their favorite holiday traditions, read about their story in the collection, and leave a comment to WIN!

Win what? you may ask! I’ll be giving away a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win!* Winner will be announced December 21, 2012.

So now it’s your turn! Do you love the winter? Do you embrace the cold? Or would you be just as happy to spend Christmas in a tropical paradise? IMG_8069

*One comment per blog entry = a potential twelve entries.

A SUMMONS FROM THE DUKE…

Summons Duke

In Loving Mister Lockwell (Regency Christmas Summons, Vol. 2), Lady Isabel Whitton has no use for people other than her twin sister — she much prefers the company of her books. So when she discovers that all her cousins from near and far have been summoned to her home, Danby Castle, for Christmas, she isn’t pleased. To make matters even worse, the deplorable Mister Lockwell has come uninvited.

Damien Lockwell, 3rd son of the Earl of Totterdown, has invited himself to Yorkshire for Christmas. Spending the holiday with the Whittons seems far preferable to watching his father drink himself into a stupor. And Lady Isabel proves to be just the kind of entertainment he was looking for — she’s smart as a whip and quite the most unique creature he’s ever met — not to mention she despises him, which is the most thrilling part of all for a man like Damien.

Available NOW at these major retailers…
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

New Release: A Love For All Seasons

Get all three of Jerrica’s most beloved novellas in one, tidy package! A Love for All Seasons includes her stories from A Summons from the Duke, The Betting Season and A Season to Remember.

LOVING MR. LOCKWELL (Originally from Summons from the Duke)…
Lady Isabel Whitton has no use for people other than her twin sister — she much prefers the company of her books. So when she discovers that all her cousins from near and far have been summoned to her home, Danby Castle, for Christmas, she isn’t pleased. To make matters even worse, the deplorable Mister Lockwell has come uninvited. * Damien Lockwell, 3rd son of the Earl of Totterdown, has invited himself to Yorkshire for Christmas. Spending the holiday with the Whittons seems far preferable to watching his father drink himself into a stupor. And Lady Isabel proves to be just the kind of entertainment he was looking for — she’s smart as a whip and quite the most unique creature he’s ever met — not to mention she despises him, which is the most thrilling part of all for a man like Damien.

THE MARRIAGE TRAP (Originally from The Betting Season)…

When Miss Patience Findley discovers, at her first ball of her first Season, just how much her father’s scandal has affected her chances of marriage, she resigns herself to being alone and dying a spinster. That is, until she hears that her friends’ names have landed in the Betting Book at White’s. In a moment of desperation, she asks her reprobate cousin to place a bet on her behalf, in hopes of trapping an unsuspecting gentleman into marriage.

Tristan Wallford, Lord Swaffham, loves a good challenge. So when his friend, Rowan Findley, claims that his cousin Patience cannot be cured of her melancholy state, Tristan lays a bet that he will be the one to cure her. He could certainly use the money, after all. But as the game begins, Tristan begins to realize that not only does Miss Findley not need curing, but she might be worth trapping for himself.

A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS (Originally from A Season to Remember)…
Penelope Bartlett has had a rough year, to say the least. She lost her eldest brother and her father in one fell swoop, and to make matters worse she had to miss out on her very first London Season. Now she’s in the thick of the Little Season and all she wants to do is run away. It’s torture to watch her siblings fall in love and she’s simply not in the mood to make merry with all of them. Especially when they treat her as if she’s still a little girl in leading strings. 
* Enter Drake Lockwell, Viscount Flitwick. He, too, is typically eager to escape crowded ballrooms and matchmaking mamas in favor of his own company in a deserted garden or library. But a chance meeting in his brother’s garden one night changes everything. Miss Bartlett is young and impetuous, yet he can’t help but fall prey to her charms. Perhaps she will be the one to finally mend the hole in his heart…

Or will his secrets be more than Penelope is able to handle?

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords!

Practice Makes Perfect! (And GIVEAWAY!)

I had an epiphany the other day. One of those light bulb moments that made me stop and go, “Wow! What a great way of looking at things!”

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, trying to avoid cleaning and packing for our big move, when I came across a post from one of my favorite “gurus,” John Asseraf. He describes himself as “a spiritual entrepreneur, philanthropist and teacher with an insatiable passion for brain research, quantum physics and helping others achieve and live their ideal life.” He’s written many NY Times Best Selling books, and it’s just inspiring to read his posts or watch him speak.

So, naturally, when I came across a post of his, I stopped to read it.

I love watching the Olympics. Getting to see these athletes get to compete after years of training is so powerful for me as a metaphor re what it takes to be the top or one of the best in your field. What amount of practice do you do to prepare to be your best? These Athletes are a great reminder for me.

Great, right? But I didn’t think too much of it. Not until I scrolled through the comments and saw this one from one of his followers:

John, the one thing that I like about your post is that you mention the ‘…amount of practice’ as opposed to the amount of ‘hard work’ it takes to be the best. This may just seem like a play on words but really, if it’s your dream to become the best at your passion, it’s no longer work. When I watch all those brilliant athletes, I see ppl who have identified their dreams and that, to me, is an achievement in itself…

Boy, is that a fantastic way of breaking things down?

Now, I come from a mindset already of “Work smarter, not harder.” I’ve always eschewed the idea of “Work hard, play hard.” And I certainly don’t believe that a person’s income is or has to be directly related to the amount of “hard work” they put in.

But still, there have been plenty of days when pumping out a couple pages of my manuscript felt like grueling work! That’s right. Not just hard work…grueling work!

Part of this comes as a result of the pressure of wanting to earn money at what I do. And oftentimes, that takes the fun out of things.

I remember as a young girl and a teenager that I would spend countless hours in my room singing, dancing, rehearsing monologues, all in preparation to be a big Broadway star. But as soon as graduating college became contingent on my doing those things, and eventually paying the bills, as well…well, it became work. In my mind, when I rehearsed a monologue, it wasn’t just to satisfy my own burning desire to learn and perform, it was to get a very important piece of paper from the Manhattan School of Music. When I attempted to perfect a song, it was to get a job so that I could pay my bills. And all that felt very much like work.

When I first started writing in my late 20s (having burnt out completely in the performance arena), boy, was that fun! My hubby was working long weekend hours at the time, so as soon as he would leave for the day, I would put on a frilly dress and my tiara (yes, I have a tiara!), sit down at my desk and go! Friends would call me to meet up for coffee or lunch, but I didn’t want to leave my desk. I wanted to play with my imaginary friends.

On top of that, I spent hours and hours and hours reading, researching, going to the library and the bookstore to find more reading material that involved Regency England.

I. Was. Obsessed.

And I really felt that giving back and helping others would help me hone my craft even better, so I spent even more hours critiquing manuscripts for my colleagues.

And then I got a publishing contract.

And then I had a kid.

And then I self-published some more books.

And my kid became a toddler.

And now, writing feels like a whole heck of a lot of work.

But what if I changed my perspective on it? What if I looked at my writing time as an opportunity to practice something that I truly love to do. To hone a skill, just for my own satisfaction? I’m my own boss anyway, so it’s not like I have to write to deadlines or anything. But I do have an obligation to my readers to write to the best of my ability, don’t I? So why, when I don’t have time or financial constraints, would I write for any other reason than to hone my craft and be the best I can be?

So that’s my plan. As soon as we’re settled in our new home and I’m ready to start writing again, I’m going to attempt to go about it with a different mind set. I’m going to try to recapture those early days when writing was something I was doing to fulfill my soul, not fill my bank account. And who knows, maybe that’s what it will take for me to write the “next great American novel.” 🙂

So, those are my thoughts for the day…I hope they’ve been inspiring 🙂 What do you think? Do you struggle with certain things because you think of them as work? Do you think a shift in your mindset regarding those things would help make them feel less arduous and more fun or satisfying?

GIVEAWAY:

Leave a relevant comment below, I’ll give you one entry in my super duper awesome giveaway! (Relevant means that comments like “Great post” or “Please enter me in the giveaway” do NOT count!)

What’s the giveaway, you ask??

Well, I have in my possession the entire DVD box set of A&E Romance Classics *gasp* *cheers* *applause* For those who aren’t sure what that entails, here are the deets:

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen’s Emma

A&E’s Original Movie Victoria & Albert

Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

R.D. Blackmore’s Lorna Doone

Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe

and the Baroness D’Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel

But wait! There are more ways to win!! For every one of the following actions, you will get one entry in the giveaway…

Like me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Like TimelessQuills on Facebook

Follow TimelessQuills on Twitter

So that makes FIVE ways to win! Good luck, everyone!! I’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 20!

Christmas in July SALE!

**ONLY 6 DAYS LEFT!!**

Christmas in July SALE!

The Wetherby Brides are heating up your summer with a hot sale! For Kindle only, get all 4 books for just $3! The  Wary Widow is still FREE and the other three books – A Gentleman Never Tells, More than a Governess and The Bedeviled Bride are just $0.99! But only through July 31, so act fast!

Happy Reading!!

Gretna Green

I came to a point in my new WIP yesterday where I needed some resources on anvil weddings at Gretna Green. When you type “Gretna Green” or “Anvil Weddings” into Google, you get the Wikipedia listing, along with a ton of hotels that want you to come and have a wedding with them now. Not 200 years ago.

So, of course, I went to my trusted writing group and asked if anybody had any good resources for my research. The fantastic Aileen Fish came back with the most amazing link! It’s to a book that you can read right online for free called The Gretna Green Memoirs by Robert Elliot. If you’re a history buff like me, you won’t be able to put this book down. Tale after tale of real couples running away to Gretna Green, and all the drama that surrounds it. Not even the writers on Desperate Housewives could have come up with this much drama.

Admittedly, I’m still only a few stories in, so I can’t speak for the entire book…but so far, it’s been pretty riveting. Possibly my favorite piece of research ever!

Get the book here: The Gretna Green Memoirs by Robert Elliot

New Release: The Gypsy Bride

I’m so excited to announce the release of my latest historical romance novel, The Gypsy Bride! The second book in the Daring Debutantes series, this extra-long novella is an exciting romp through Regency England–

Engaged to a reprehensible baron, Bianca Manning knows she must do something to escape her fate. She decides that a Romany camp is the last place her mad fiance would think to look for her.

The last thing Emilian Carrol needs is a spirited Englishwoman in his life, but he can’t seem to say no when she begs to hide out in his tribe’s camp. And maybe she’s just the thing he needs to help heal his wounded heart.

Thomas Barclay, future Viscount Grantham, is bored to tears and looking for a distraction. When his old friend Baron Tisbury asks for help in tracking down his missing fiancee, Tom decides to make himself useful and goes in search of the wayward girl.

Caught between two worlds, Bianca must figure out which man holds the keys to her heart.

When I set out to write the Daring Debutante series, I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to write another traditional, formulaic historical romance. I wanted to branch outside the norm, do things with my stories and my characters that probably would not have actually happened in Regency England, but that weren’t completely outside the realm of possibilities. So you won’t find magic or werewolves here, but you will find gutsy heroines, and heroes that you will fall in love with.

The Gypsy Bride is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords!

And if you missed the first installment of the Daring Debutantes series, click here to find links for The Robber Bride!