Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's been months since I posted. What have I been doing?  Well, first of all, gardening.

Secondly, traveling.

The Renaissance Faire in Larkspur, CO

Victoria, B.C. Butchart Gardens.
Tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

I also spent the summer trying to finish up the second book in my Soulmate series. This one features a Viking metalsmith who comes to L.A. to be reunited with his beloved, who was an Irish sorceress-in-training the past and is now an event planner planning a medieval-themed wedding. Tentative title:  The End of the Rainbow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Two Giveaways!

To celebrate the release of Wicked Wager. (Now available)

I'm offering two giveaways:

 To enter to win this beautiful solar lantern (I have one of my own and love it.) go to this link: and follow the instructions. This one ends May 31.

 I'm also participating with a bunch of other authors in a contest to win a $500 gift certificate. 

Link to enter is:

Wicked Wager available at : 

The Wild Rose Press:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Shrimp, a horse-mad hoyden and a Wicked Wager

I am a child of the 60’s. In fact, I was a child in the 60’s since I didn’t hit puberty until the decade was over. But like many children, I wanted to grow up fast, and I remember poring over my sisters’ Seventeen magazines for make-up and fashion trends, and buying Tiger Beat fan magazines at the local drugstore to read about the bands of the era. While my first Barbie was a doll modeled on the 60’s icon Twiggy, my main role model was Jean Shrimpton, who many people consider the first supermodel. Jean promoted the Yardley cosmetic line and their pink and orange striped “slicker” lipstick, lavender and turquoise striped “glimmerick” eye shadow, and “Londonderry” hair products had an almost magical appeal for me. As soon as I hit puberty and began wearing make-up (against my father’s wishes), I started buying Yardley products.
Some images of Jean shown with part of my Yardley collection
Yardley was actually going out of fashion at the time and being replaced by new trends like Love’s cosmetics, which promised a more natural look, rather than the swinging London allure that Jean represented. But I never got over my fixation with “the Shrimp”. There was something so real about Jean, some quality that made her easy to identify with, despite her extraordinary beauty. Later, reading interviews with her, I learned she had been a serious tomboy when she was young, and she really didn’t care for the world of fashion and the life of a celebrity. In fact, she married a regular guy and ended up running a bed and breakfast with him in Bath. I’ve thought of visiting there sometime in the hopes of meeting her, but knowing that my infatuation with her is connected to the life she left behind, it’s probably better if I just leave it alone.
But there is one thing I could do to honor my heroine, and that’s make her the heroine in a book. When the idea for Wicked Wager came to me, I knew instantly that Penny (Penelope) Montgomery would look like Jean Shrimpton and share her disdain for the glamorous world of London. Penny is a complete tomboy, or “hoyden” as it was called in the Regency era. Her passion is horses and running her family’s estate, and she has no interest in society or fashion or any of those superficial things. But her dream of living quietly in the country is dashed when her cousin and guardian Adrian wagers the estate in a card game and loses.
Adrian is a clever and sneaky sort, and he thinks that once his opponent realizes that the only way to take possession of the estate is to marry the heiress who comes with it, he will relinquish the property in disgust. With most men, that might work. But not with Marcus Revington, who makes his living playing cards. Marcus sees marriage to this unknown heiress as a mere inconvenience. Little does he know that he has met his match in Penny.
I loved writing about Penny and Marcus. They are both so stubborn and determined to get their way. And the chemistry between them is just electrifying. Marcus thinks that gambling is all about odds, skill and knowing when to back down. Penny thinks she has Marcus figured out and if she sticks with her plan, she will prevail. But all bets are off—for both of them—when the name of the game is love.
When hardened gamester Marcus Revington wins Horngate Manor in a card game, he is delighted to finally own property. Even discovering he must marry the heiress of the estate doesn’t deter him. The heiress, Penny Montgomery, is happy with her life raising horses at Horngate and has no desire to marry anyone. When she learns about her guardian’s Wicked Wager, she schemes to convince Marcus she’s unsuitable as a wife so he’ll forget his plan to wed her.

Wicked Wager is available at:

Barnes and Noble:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slavery, St. Patrick and Vikings

If I could time-travel back to the dark age/medieval era in which most of my books are set, I suspect one of the most disturbing things I would have to deal with (besides the lack of hygiene and sanitary practices) would the prevalence of slavery. We’re all aware that the Egyptian, Greeks and Romans had slaves. But the fact is, so did most cultures in Europe during that time period.
A huge part of the Viking trade was the buying and selling of slaves. Slaves were mostly captives, although sometimes people ended up enslaved as a punishment or were sold into slavery by family members or enemies. Because it involved so many cultures, races and even social classes, virtually anyone who was alone in a foreign land might end up as a slave. This is what happens to Bridei, my hero in The Dragon Bard. Bridei is the son of a king, but his status is meaningless once he’s in the hands of the slavers.

Slave shackles found in St. John’s Lane, Dublin now at the National Museum of Ireland

The Saxons, Britons, Norse and Irish all had slaves. And at the same time, anyone of those races could also end up enslaved themselves. Because slaves were not easily identified as being of a specific race, if you could escape your captors or the immediate area where you were considered a slave, you instantly became “free” and might even be able to return to your old life. This is what happened to the most famous slave of all:  St. Patrick.

St. Patrick’s real name is believed to be Maewyn Succat. As a youth he was captured by Irish slavers raiding the coast of Britain (probably from what is now Wales or Scotland). He was educated and from an upper-middle class family and it must have been a huge shock to him to end up as a lowly slave in a foreign country. According to the legend, he endured slavery for six years, working as a shepherd, before escaping and returning to Britain. Somewhere during his trials, he started have visions from God telling him that his destiny was to return to Ireland and share his faith with the race who had enslaved him.

The tale of Patrick (Patricius) is especially interesting because Christianity and slavery were connected almost from the beginning. For several hundred years after the religion was founded, Christianity was known as the religion of slaves. The belief preached by Jesus that all men are equal before God was enormously appealing to the downtrodden and disenfranchised. At the same time, the concept of a better life after this one gave them hope and helped them endure grim and miserable circumstances.

But Christianity also offered something meaningful to kings and emperors, and over time, it became the religion of the rich and powerful and in some cases, a tool of oppression and dominance. But its equalitarian roots linger, and the idea that each human being has worth (and therefore, should have some essential human rights) has been a powerful force for positive social change and immensely important in the fight to banish slavery from our world. Unfortunately, slavery is still alive in our modern era. It’s now called human trafficking and is appallingly common, even in our own country, as numerous recent books attest.

Since historical accuracy forces me to feature slavery in many of books, I’ve learned to take advantage of that and use the slave/master dynamic as part of my stories. Fiona is a slave to the hero Dag in my Viking romance, Storm Maiden. And in Beyond the Seamist, also a Viking tale, the whole plot centers around the hero Magnus’s attempts to rescue the heroine, Ailinn, from enslavement. And finally, in the reincarnation romance I’m working on now, tentatively entitled The End of the Rainbow, Viking metalsmith Kylan travels to modern day L.A. to reclaim his love Maeve/Marissa who was his slave in a past life. It’s fun to empower the heroine in this time, and force Kylan to win the love of the woman who he remembers as his thrall and captive.


Monday, March 2, 2015

TRR Anniversary Party--Come join the fun!

I'm participating in The Romance Reviews Anniversary Party. Come join the fun at All sorts of give-aways and prizes.

Answer for question on Call Down the Moon:  A sword.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From the fury of the Northman, O Lord, deliver us.

Although this exact phrase never appears in any surviving written document, the monks living the British Isles in the eight and ninth centuries likely prayed using similar words. The first Northmen (Norsemen) were searching for plunder, and the monasteries along the coasts of England and Ireland made ideal targets. Not only were these settlements poorly defended, but they possessed great wealth.

Christian artifacts made the ideal booty for these dark age pirates. Items such as crosiers (a staff), psalters (a prayer book), chalices and reliquaries (a cask for holy relics) were not only portable but “liquid”. The gold and silver of these objects could be melted down and reused in brooches or other jewelry, or they could simply be re-fashioned, like the reliquary that became a Norsewoman’s jewelry box. Sometimes the pieces were simply chopped up to become “hacksilver”, the currency of the time period.

The Norse raiders not only stole these precious sacred objects, they also dealt with the monks in brutal fashion, slaughtering them, throwing them into the sea to drown or taking them prisoners to face a life of slavery.

The written record of these raids accounts for much of the fearsome reputation of “Vikings” handed down to us today. A tenth century poet describes one Norse raider: "Blond was his hair, and bright his cheeks. Grim as a snake's were his glowing eyes."

But for all the brutality of these early raiders, they did not have much impact on history. It was the later waves of Norsemen who truly reshaped Europe. They weren’t seeking plunder and loot, but looking for places to settle and farm. As their homeland grew crowded, younger landless sons sought their fortunes across the seas.

As much as they were savage pirates and land-hungry farmers, the Norse were traders. That was really how they came to control a far-flung empire stretching from Ireland, England and Scotland to Russia and Constantinople. They traded ivory and furs from the far north for amber and gold from the Baltic. Wool, wheat and hides from the British Isles for wine and pottery from the Mediterranean. And slaves from almost everywhere.

Perhaps because they were traders, the Vikings didn’t seek to impose their culture on the territories they conquered. Instead, they tended to absorb the culture of the people they subdued. After centuries of despoiling Christian settlements, they become Christian themselves. Out of the priceless artifacts they stole, they developed their own artistic style, with fierce mythical animals and elaborate interlaced lines. It was similar to Celtic knotwork, but less symmetrical and static, as befitting their restless lifestyle. They used it on ships and buildings, carved into wood, rather than on stone or metal artifacts.  

When they settled on the coast of what is modern France, they eventually ended up speaking French and adopting the feudal system. Living in a realm where “land was power” only fueled their rapacious lust for more territory. It was a man of Norse descent named William who would lead his countrymen across the sea to seize control of England in what is now known as the Norman conquest.

From a distance, it is easy to admire and idealize the Vikings. We remember the “blond hair” and “bright cheeks” and forget the “grim eyes”. For a romance writer, these fair-haired giants make the ultimate alpha hero. My first Viking book, Storm Maiden, features a Norseman who is captured during a raid on Ireland. He is tall and fair, bold and fiery. But as the book progresses, we find that despite his ferocious exterior, he can be kindhearted and compassionate. And his real gifts are as a trader, rather than as a warrior.

The hero of Storm Maiden is based on my husband. In many ways he’s the quintessential Irishman. But there is something about his fine, narrow nose and deep-set eyes that seemed Norse to me. And so I wrote this poem about him, which became the preface to Storm Maiden:

He says he’s Irish
But I look into those eye
Blue as the North Sea
And know he’s an immigrant like all the rest.

I see him
A few centuries ago
Riding his bird boat
Seaspray halo
Gold-red hair glinting with the sunset
His bones are as white and strong
As the seafoam
His smile a bright, fierce
Sea monster of passion.

He’s come to plunder my heart
Ravage my soul
Take me away to sleep
In the Northlands
Where the gods still thunder
And we can dream in endless twilight.
Storm Maiden is on sale for 99 cents through March 8!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Call Down the Moon

I'm participating in the Sneak Peak Sunday blog hop. 

Here's an excerpt from my latest book, a reincarnation/time travel story entitled Call Down the Moon:

He went into the kitchen and pulled a dusty bottle from the wine rack, then dug in the drawer for a corkscrew. His hands shook as he inserted the corkscrew and worked it down. He couldn’t believe this moment had come. Aisling was here. After all these centuries. It was…magic. He took a deep breath. She was the whole center of his world, his reason for existence. He had to make certain everything went perfectly.

Pulling out the cork, he poured each of them a glass of wine and took the glasses into the living room. She was sitting on the couch, looking so beautiful it made his chest hurt. He handed her a glass and sat down beside her. Not too close. He didn't want to distress her. But if he didn't touch her soon, he would lose his wits.

She took a sip of the wine. The tip of her tongue poked out in an unconscious gesture as she tasted the wine. Connar sucked in his breath. He couldn’t endure much more. He was overwhelmed with desire. It was torment to be so close to her. To watch the rise and fall of her breasts beneath the tight fabric of her dress. To observe the pulse of life in her slim neck. To feast his eyes on the silken perfection of her skin. Every nuance, every detail of her body aroused him.

"It's good wine," she said. "I mean, I'm hardly a connoisseur, but it's very mellow." She looked at him, a shy flash of blue eyes. His mind went blank as he focused on her lips. Full and ripe, and moist from the wine.

He put down his own glass and cleared his throat, struggling for control. "Yes, it's good wine. I've been saving it."
"Saving it? For me?" Her voice was breathless, soft and light. Her pupils were huge, the black centers consuming the blue irises.
You can guess what happens next. Maybe this blog hop should be on Tuesdays and be called "Teaser Tuesdays!"
To enjoy more intriguing excerpts, go to :