The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone

Cover image by Scott Hoover Photography. Josh Kloss, model. Cover design by Louisa Maggio.

Well, there you go.  I always said if there was more story to tell for Ethan and Brynne then I would write it.   Mr. Blackstone has been whispering in my ear for a while now, so I’ve decided it’s time to let you in on our secret.  Why today?  August 25th is memorable because five years ago on this date Ethan Blackstone was revealed to the world when Naked, The Blackstone Affair, Book 1 was published.  So, to celebrate the 5th birthday of The Blackstone Affair you shall have a fifth book.  (you are welcome)

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone will be entirely in Ethan’s voice, echoing how All In (Book 2) was written.

Five Years Ago Today Something Wonderful Happened…

Apparently today is the five year anniversary of the birth of Ethan Blackstone and his beautiful American girl. July 15, 2012 as reminded to me by Facebook Memories. 
 
After Mr. M and the boys had gone off to camp, I was left to my devices at home and got to writing on my story about a British Lord and the art conservationist come to help him with his collection of paintings. That story was what would eventually become PRICELESS.
 
But what happened later that night was life changing.
 
I found the picture of the nude model posing with her legs up and got an idea for a NEW story. Weirdly possessed by the striking image, I dashed off a chapter and sent it to my friend Franzi, asking her what she thought of my idea.
 

The picture that inspired me.

She told me to write it, and so I set aside Priceless and got to work on this new story instead.

I wrote a story about an American grad student studying in London who did some artful modeling on the side. We didn’t know then the reasons behind her need to make such provocative pictures, but the answer would come later on.

I wrote about a security specialist with a harrowing past from his time in the British Army who looked a lot like David Gandy, and named him Ethan Blackstone.  I gave him a filthy mouth, but made sure he remained a gentleman.  An alpha male in a beautiful suit addicted to Djarum Blacks and obsessed with a girl he saw first in a photograph.

The story was instalove chocked full of cliches and tropes, but I loved it, and so did the few readers I had already reading my historicals.  It combined all of the elements I loved to read in a romance book, but was something I had created from inside my own head.  It took me three solid weeks to write, and then a couple weeks more to edit and prepare it for publishing with a cover, etc.  Naked was my first indie-published book.  Little did I know clicking that publish button would change my life in ways I could have never foreseen at the time.

But change things it did.

Within a week it was moving up the Amazon charts and hitting genre lists.  I can remember clearly the day I came down the stairs and told Mr. M that I was going to break 100 books sold that day and was dumbfounded as to why.  I just couldn’t believe people were reading about Ethan and Brynne and connecting so deeply with their story.  My blog hits had jumped from about 15 to 500+ visitors in a day.  Book blogs reviewed the book and began sharing it around social media.  Sales increased and the book hit the top 100, then top 50, then top 20.  Agents started emailing me asking things I knew nothing about.  I was just an elementary teacher from California who liked to write romance in her free time.  Selling enough books to make a living at my writing gig wasn’t even on my radar.  But exactly five months from the day I was inspired to write this very special story…is when it happened.  I became a full-time writer and started an exciting new chapter in my life.

And the rest, is history.

xo R

Love in Transit

I am so excited about this project I can hardly stand it.  The creative genius of Jana Aston was the mastermind behind Love in Transit, an anthology of six different stories all created around the same blurb with contributions from the super-talented: Jana Aston, Ainsley Booth, Kitty French, BJ Harvey, Liv Morris, and your’s truly.

~BLURB~

You know those people that have a house full of motivational slogans? Embrace Every Moment, stamped on their coffee mugs. Always Kiss Me Goodnight painted above their perfectly made beds.

I’m not one of those people.

This morning I overslept, then slipped on a stray sock and banged my toe into the nightstand. The elevator in my building broke and I had to run down six flights of stairs. And then my local coffee shop was closed. For health code violations.

What’s that? Not the end of the world? You want me to suck it up?

Did I mention I’m wearing a wedding dress… on the subway?

It’s a Good Day for a Hot Mess. Someone embroider that on a pillow.

~*~

Pre-order Love in Transit here:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2q4xO1x
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pvgFMD
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2qRDm2d
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2qYxHnm
iBooks: http://apple.co/2pc0fIR
Nook: http://bit.ly/2peS6nP
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2p33U0p

Releasing everywhere June 1st.

Filthy Rich is on SALE!

Happy Valentine’s Day (a bit early I know) but the month of LOVE is the perfect time for an awesome deal.
The publisher surprised me by putting Filthy Rich on sale.  Right now the ebook is just $1.99 and the paperback is only $4.99!!!   I have no idea how long this price will last as it is set by the publisher.  If you want a signed copy and know you’ll  be seeing me at one of my 2017 book signings then this is the best price you will find anywhere. The UK and CA stores are also running a sale on ebook only.

US ebook  *~*  US paperback

UK ebook

CANADA ebook

And just in case you missed the big “reveal” back in December, and were curious as to how my two sexy Blackstone men are related, then you’re going to have to read Hawaiian Honeymoon for the answer.

Enjoy!

xo R

 

Hawaiian Honeymoon

Merry Christmas!  This year’s holiday story gives us a little insight into Caleb and Brooke’s honeymoon in Hawaii. Sometimes we all need a little practice in the art of receiving as well as giving.  May the new year be filled with all that you desire and more.

xxoo R

December 21st

“So beautiful,” she said softly as she took in the view from the lanai, her long hair moving with the gentle wind that picked up around this time every day we’d been here like clockwork.

“Oh yes,” I agreed.  The fact that her view and mine weren’t even remotely the same didn’t matter.  My wife was appreciating the stunning beauty of turquoise water framed against the white sand beach, the breezy palm trees, and the exotic flowers of our honeymoon destination—an exclusive private beach estate nestled on the fringes of a nature preserve at La Perouse Bay, Maui.

I was simply appreciating the stunning beauty of her.

Standing at the railing in a red bikini covering all the most beautiful parts of her, she easily eclipsed our tropical love nest with no problem.  Memories of this morning when I kissed her awake in our bed were still fresh in my mind.  Hell, thoughts of her naked with me were never absent from my pitiful, Neanderthal man-brain.  The way she unraveled from sleepiness into sheet-clawing abandon with my name falling from her precious lips got to me every time.  I’d never have enough of my Brooke.

It was safe to say we’d made good use of our honeymoon thus far.  We were virtually alone in a private island paradise, so what the hell else was I supposed to do besides make love to my gorgeous wife as much as possible?  If she wasn’t already pregnant, then she probably would be by the time we made it back to Boston from the amount of effort we’d put towards that goal.  It was still early times though, so we weren’t getting our hopes up too far in the clouds until we were past the first trimester.  Brooke had been through so much tragedy with her first pregnancy, her comfort and ease during this one had become my number one fucking priority.  The fact she’d already endured one surgery the night of the Autumn Ball unfortunately put her at a higher risk for a miscarriage.  I didn’t want to dwell on the negative though.  Too many hours of my life had been spent on shit I couldn’t change, and on people who weren’t important, so best to let that go and focus on all of the good and wonderful instead.

Good was the amazing woman who had stolen my heart from the first moment she’d spoken to me.  Wonderful was the baby we’d made, and the life we were creating together.  I wanted Brooke happy and stress-free, and that was pretty much the sum total of my needs.

She turned and gave me an expression that said she was onto me.  “You’re not looking at this tropical paradise before us, are you?”

“Nope.”  I moved in behind her and leaned her back onto my chest, holding her against me as we both looked out at the view.  “I was so distracted by my wife’s beauty I couldn’t focus on anything else.”

“Good one, Mr. Blackstone.”

“What’s on your mind, Mrs. Blackstone?”

“Christmas,” she answered with just a hint of melancholy.

“Other than the fact it’s four days from now, what about it?  Do you want to be home for Christmas?”  Maybe she was homesick.  I knew how much she loved her cottage on Blackstone Island and craved the security of the place, in fact so much that I was building a new home there.  I wondered if taking her away from the island for so long was stressing her out.  And stress was so not good for her being pregnant.  “I can have the Gulfstream here by tomorrow to take us home early if that’s what you want.”

“And leave all this?” –she threw her arms out toward the ocean view— “Not a chance.  I fully intend to be snorkeling on Christmas day in search of spotting a pair of Moorish Idols—” she paused abruptly.  “Wait.  Do you need to get back to Boston for work?  You probably have so many fires to put out at BGE by this point.  A month long honeymoon is too long for you, isn’t it?”

“Hush.”  I tightened my arms around her and bit gently on the shell of her ear to put a stop to her runaway thoughts.  “I don’t need to do anything in Boston that I can’t do with a phone call to the person I pay to do the work in their job description.”  Relieved she wanted to stay in Hawaii, I relaxed my hold on her and slowly turned her to face me.  “A minute ago when I asked you what was on your mind, I thought I sensed something kind of sad from you when you said ‘Christmas’.”  Her hazel eyes grew a little sparkly with unshed tears as she looked up at me.  In the beginning her tears freaked me the hell out.  Now, I was used to them.  I understood her PBA was the underlying cause of the crying and didn’t second guess it anymore.  “It’s okay, you can tell me anything.  I’m the guy who loves you unconditionally, remember?”

She nodded and forced a small smile onto her pretty face. “I remember.  And I love you, Caleb, and I’m so happy we’re here for Christmas.”

“But…”

She shook her head and looked down.

“Tell me, maybe I can help.”  My skills at coaxing her into telling me what she wanted were improving.  Brooke was well aware that I had the means to give her the world.  The only problem with that was she didn’t allow me to do very much for her most of the time.  She didn’t ask for anything, and pulling those secret desires out of her was always a challenge.  I used to worry I’d never find a woman who didn’t care about my money.  The joke was on me because I’d not only found her, I’d married her and knocked her up.  And she still didn’t care about the money.  If there was something my Brooke wanted, then I damn well intended to give it to her.

“It’s nothing, really.”

“It’s something, and I think you should tell me.  Consider it a Christmas gift to me if you share with me something—anything that makes you happy at Christmas.”  I was officially a sap-bastard at this point, and did not care one iota.  It felt awesome.

She smothered a giggle and reached her soft hand up to my cheek and caressed me.  “You are impossible, and it’s far too extravagant a plan.”

“I am in love with my wife, and in case you weren’t already aware, I’m filthy rich.  There is very little that’s too extravagant for my budget.”  I kissed the palm of her hand which was still attached to my face.  “As long as it’s safe and enjoyable for you, you’re good.  Just don’t tell me your life-long dream is to go on a zip-lining tour of the islands, because that might be kinda very impossible.”

“No zip-lining for me.”  She shook her head ruefully.

“That’s a relief.”  I said while silently cheering her on.  Tell me.  Tell me.  Tell me.

She sighed deeply, averting her eyes, and I knew I’d worn her down.

“I have the best memories of Christmas with my parents.  There’s nothing quite like London at the holidays.  There’s something so magical about it.”

“You miss London.”  My mind was already working out a plan.

“I will always miss London.  I was born there and it was my home for fifteen years.”

“Have you been back to visit since you came to Blackstone Island?”

“No, I haven’t been back for seven years.”

“Brooke, do you want to go to London for Christmas?”

She hesitated before answering.  “Well, I’d love to go to London but we couldn’t possibly—”

“Let me try this again.  Brooke, will you let me take you to London for Christmas?”

“Oh, my God.  Really?  I would love to go but how can you arrange something like that so fast?”

“Oh, baby, I managed to marry you and arrange this honeymoon in the span of just a few days, a little trip to London is child’s play.”

She laughed at me.  “Of course it is.”

“How about three or four days in London and then we come back here and finish out our month so you can snorkel to your heart’s content.  I did promise you a month-long honeymoon where we did nothing but eat, sleep and make love.  I seem to recall that very clearly, Mrs. Blackstone.”

“We’ve been doing that to the letter.”  She muffled another laugh.

“I still want the full month, Brooke.”

“So do I, Caleb.”

“Thank you.”

“For what, my love?”  She was teasing me now, and I had a pretty good idea how this little exchange was going to end.

“For telling me what you wanted, and then for allowing me to give it to you.”

“I can’t believe we’ll be in London for Christmas.”  I think I need to show you my appreciation for such a lovely gift, but first I want to go for a swim with my kind and generous husband.”  She tugged on my hand as she headed for the gate that led down to the beach.

“I accept your offer to show your appreciation after our swim because I’d be a moron to turn that down, but I want you to know that you don’t have to.  For me knowing you’re enjoying something you want is enough.  You’re happy, I’m happy—it’s that simple.”

She stopped walking and stood before me.  “I love you so much, Caleb Blackstone, and by the way, it’s you.  You are what makes me happy.  Just you loving me the way you already do is all I will ever need.”  The kiss she gave me after her little speech, delivered in her proper British accent that made me hard just from hearing her speak a few words, helped erase any lingering doubts I might have about her being homesick.  In a way she was, just homesick for the land of her birth rather than the place she now called home.  I was grateful for the chance to be able to do this for her.

“I have family in London actually.  Maybe we can arrange something with them while we’re there.  I’d love for them to meet you.  Well, second or third cousins I think, because it was our grandfathers who were related, but they’re going to get such a kick out of the fact I married a Brit.  My cousin Ethan married an American girl last year.  Their wedding was my dad’s final trip before he grew too sick to leave his bed.”

“I’m glad he had the chance to visit one last time.  I would absolutely love to meet your family, Caleb.”  That was my Brooke, always so accepting and open for something new.  She wasn’t jealous of the past because she knew the future was the only part that mattered.  Smart woman I had married.  I was so damn blessed.

“You know the plane ride to London from Maui is a long one.  We’ll be traveling in the comfort of the Gulfstream of course, but seventeen hours is a long flight no matter how you slice it.”

“That is a long flight.  I wonder what we’ll do to fill all those empty hours up in the air.”  The sassy teasing went right back into her tone.

“Oh, I think showing you how much I love you is a good place to start.”

“But you do that all the time,” she said over her shoulder as her feet disappeared into the ocean, enticing me with her spectacular backside in tiny red bikini bottoms I’d be peeling off her after our swim.  Thank God for pregnancy hormones and what they did to expecting mothers.  She hadn’t turned me down yet.  Did I mention what a lucky, lucky bastard I was?

“I was going to add the part about how I can never do it enough,” I said as I lunged to grab her.

She flashed me the most stunning smile before diving into the clear blue water looking like the sea goddess she was to me.

I followed after my girl, and I always would.

~The End~

Four Years of Thankfulness

On this Thanksgiving Eve my mind turns to thoughts of just how much my life has changed in the past four years.

Thanksgiving Day fell on November 22nd in 2012 and I had two books on the New York Times Bestseller’s list that week.  Both NAKED and ALL IN were still indie published, I was still teaching 1st grade, and trying to figure out how I would juggle my precious time enough to write EYES WIDE OPEN in the next two months while managing the upcoming holidays and my teaching job.  Yes, I was busy, but I was also very happy to be full of so much hope and excitement for the future.  Dare I say my life was a lot more…simpler?  Of course it was, I had nothing more to do than work.  Hard work had never hurt me before, and I just had to buckle down and get it done.  Well, exactly one week later I was offered a major book deal for the trilogy, which I accepted.  That event set me on the path to realizing my dream of becoming a full-time author.  My life got even busier as I battled the learning curve of the publishing industry–something which will never end, by the way…but I digress.  The most important point is that I was so thankful for everything I’d been given.

Thanksgiving fell on November 28th in 2013, and that year I missed the dinner in lieu of putting on the finishing touches to CHERRY GIRL which was publishing the next day.  *sheer insanity to publish a book on Black Friday*  In the course of that year I’d traveled extensively, as well as moved my parents into assisted living in order to be close to me.  It was time.  My father had just been sprung from the rehab facility where he’d been recovering from a bad fall for the previous five weeks.  It seemed that as soon as I was semi-settled in my new career as a full-time writer, family illness stepped right into the forefront to demand my attention.  But I was still very thankful for my life and the freedom to help my parents when they needed me.  I knew I was blessed.

Thanksgiving 2014 found us in Sydney, Australia for a book signing combined into a whirlwind family trip. The Land of Oz was amazing, as expected, but I was exhausted mentally after the death of my father amidst the publishing of three new books that year (RARE and PRECIOUS THINGS, PRICELESS, and THE MUSE) in addition to some major traveling.  I fell and screwed up my knee which sucked, but I didn’t need surgery and it eventually healed in time.  Even though the previous year had been a hard one, I was still incredibly thankful for my family and our wonderful life that afforded us amazing experiences like trips to Edinburgh and Australia for book signings.  So very blessed.

Thanksgiving 2015 was only one year ago, but so much happened between the previous Thanksgiving I felt like my life was unrecognizable to what it had once been.  My mother died in May of 2015, just thirteen months after my father, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard on me.  I was sad, of course, but I wasn’t bitter in any way.  Death is part of life and we must accept when it comes calling.  No, the thing that turned my life upside down was the lawsuit that showed up exactly six weeks after I buried my mom charging me with breach of contract for two historical romances I’d published with a small press nearly five years earlier.  That really upended my life, and not in a good way.  It was very costly for my legal defense, while at the same time prohibiting me from publishing new indie books when the case was ongoing.  My readers weren’t happy with me because there were no new books for them.  I wasn’t happy as I struggled to keep my commitment to write a new book for Montlake at the same time while wading through all of the legal crap that bombarded me constantly with the lawsuit.  I’m sure my family wasn’t happy as they had to deal with the fallout of my emotions all over the place, some serious new health issues for me, and the financial stress from the lawsuit.  Still, as we sat down to dinner together as a family, I counted my blessings for all of the good and wonderful people in my life.  There was hope that things would get better again.  The lawsuit would end eventually, and I could get back to writing books in my “normal” life.  (The verdict arrived September 14, 2016, completely in my favor.  I won and the small press that sued me lost.)  🙂

So, that brings us to now.  Thanksgiving 2016, fresh on the heels of my first new release in two long difficult years. FILTHY RICH, book one in my new Blackstone Dynasty series, published exactly one week ago.  I can tell you that it feels equal parts good and strange to publish again after such a long absence.  This business changes rapidly, and what worked two years ago may not even be an option anymore.  I’ve had to learn a lot of things all over again, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure can be a challenge.   The old saying ‘you can’t teach and old dog new tricks’ comes to mind, but this “old dog” had no choice but to learn some new tricks.  I am once again counting my blessings this Thanksgiving because I realize I do have many.  Wonderful readers and fans who have waited patiently for a new book.  Book bloggers who generously read and reviewed (and pimped) the book to their followers. My author sisters and brothers, who encouraged me and helped spread the word to their own fan following about my new book. My husband and boys who stepped up and pitched in while I learned how to write a book again.  My friends who cheered me on and pushed me to keep writing when I was sure I’d lost my ability to coherently tell a story.  My heart is full for all of the good wishes and support I’ve been given for this new book.  Thank you to Kcee at Unbound Book Reviews for the book trailer.  I hope you watch it and are encouraged to give Filthy Rich and the world of my new Boston Blackstones a try.

Bottom line, I am thankful for the last four years as a writer, even the hard parts held value in showing me how rich my life is for the experiences and the people in it.

Be well and blessed this Thanksgiving.

xxoo R

 

 

Doing It Now

one day

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now. -Paulo Coelho

Today is significant.  I’ve made it a goal not to be sad or closed-off emotionally on this day…because I know she wouldn’t want that from me.

One year ago today I woke up and had to accept that there wouldn’t be any more time to do or say anything with my mother.  Our window of time together grew narrower and narrower until just fifteen minutes into a new day, which happened to fall on the seventeenth day of May in the year 2015 it disappeared altogether.

This is normal and happens to all of us eventually.  The state of being alive, insures each and every one of us at some point in time, will die.  Some of us get a longer time to “do things” than others get, but the part that equalizes us all is that one small detail about not knowing WHEN it will happen for us.  We just don’t know how much time is left for ourselves, or for anyone. The older I get the more this plays out around me. With family. With friends. With beloved pets.

I don’t have regrets about my mother’s passing at all.  I made use of the time we were given, and said and did all the things I wanted to say and do.  The hardest part for me is accepting the fact it is permanent. I still have conversations with her, can hear her voice in my head, feel her familiar embrace, and see her influences in the decisions I make. For that reason, I have decided to embrace “Doing It Now” rather than waiting for later. My mother was my biggest fan and supporter, as only a mother can be, but she truly carried so much pride for my success as a writer. Even at her frailest, when death was literally tapping at her door, she still asked me about my latest book and how it was going.

I miss that simple inquiry from her most of all.

Today I am using her fierce belief in me to kick my arse (as Ethan would say) back into the game.  I’ve been gone, you see. Oh, I didn’t delete any of my social media, but I have been pretty much absent from actual writing for a long time. I’m talking about daily production of word counts–the incremental building of a story, scene by scene and chapter by chapter–which must happen each and every day in order for me to make a book become a reality. I can’t give an opinion on how it works for other writers, but for me it worked only if I wrote every single day.

Every.  Single.  Day.

original notebookIn the early days, the act of not writing actually hurt me. I carried around one of those black and white lined journals from the Dollar Store and scribbled notes in it during the day while I was teaching. Any idea had to be put down into words or I would have lost my mind. Here is an original page from when Naked was being born in a notebook with a pen, circa 2012. Everything on that page made it into the book.

But somehow, through the knock-downs and missteps of life, I lost my way and stopped writing. At first it was necessary for me to have time to grieve, and to take care of those things that needed to be done when a loved one dies, and I’d done the whole process only a short year earlier when my beloved father died. All normal and expected, yes. But then some other things happened on the heels of Mom’s death that really rocked my confidence, and my belief in myself as a writer, my love for my characters, my ability to create, my financial future…to the point I became paralyzed and stopped writing.

I STOPPED WRITING.

I stopped writing, and soon the process of “not writing” became habit forming.  I evolved into a writer-who-didn’t-write-anymore. I allowed some really shitty circumstances (events beyond and totally unrelated to my mother’s death) the power to steal my joy and my love for WRITING. I allowed it to the point that I forgot what it felt like to write. This spiraled on until I couldn’t seem to remember how to do it at all. That really hurt. It was scary. I was terrified I couldn’t write another book again. Or if I did manage to write a new book, people would hate it because it was crap. I had no optimism about things ever improving. I just accepted “not-writing” as my new reality…and I was miserable.

I was allowing extraneous information to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction. Like an ADHD squirrel hopped up on so many acorns he will never find where he’s stashed them all–my ideas for writing were my acorns–I was no different. I dashed from one thing to the next aimlessly trying to: chase the latest gossipy news in the author community, follow the hot new genres making a killing on Amazon, look into some new marketing trend, read a new series, study what successful authors did with their books, implement a new promotional strategy, do new [insert whatever you want here]. Basically everything except for Raine Miller writing another book. I was an educator for 23 years. I know very well what distraction does to creativity and output. I knew better than to allow myself to be  distracted, but I let it happen anyway. I was worse than some of my former First Graders who struggled to pay attention in class or get their work done in time for recess.

This is a painful admission for me, but I’ve known it was a task that needed doing for a long time. I’ve also known the actual date I would need to share my truth for my own emotional wellness. Today is that day. It has been over a year since my last “blog” post, which was the one about visiting Chatsworth in April of 2015–a place Jane Austen herself knew and admired. I even stopped writing my blog! That’s just crazy when I think about it. There have been other posts recently from brave authors in my community baring their struggles to find a rhythm in this business. A world where they not only function, but thrive as they once did. I’ve ached to find that rhythm in the past year-and-a-half. Ached. There has been no easy answer, nor did I discover a magic solution for solving my “writer’s block” or “dry spell” or “lack of new books” other than to just start writing again.

non-writing writerStarting to write again is much harder than it sounds. I cannot say why it was so hard for me, but it’s sitting right up there at the top of my “difficult-shit-I-must-do-or-else-list.” I had to get back to my writerly roots and return to scribbling ideas down in a notebook. I had to make myself bleed out a few hundred words even if I chucked every word of it the next day. I had to turn off Facebook and my email notifications. I had to power off my phone. I had to stop trying to explain to curious readers who demanded to know when the next book was arriving (most very nice about it, but some not so nice, and a few, downright nasty). I had to stop looking at what everyone else was doing and go back to that place in time when I never questioned what I was writing, or why I was writing it, or if it was going to sell, or if it was going to make lists, or any of a myriad of other irrelevant concerns…I just wrote. I had to get myself back to that place in my head.

At first it was simply jotting down ideas and plots in another Dollar Store journal. Then it was writing a synopsis for a new book and going through the entire plot with a rough outline. Maybe it was just one sentence that day–only ten words or so–but it was writing. I could stop working for the day and know I was making progress no matter how incremental. As I began to get back into it I realized I didn’t lose my skills at all. Everything I’d learned was still there in my head, I just hadn’t been utilizing much of it. I had allowed extraneous “input” to bombard my creative output to the point of complete and total distraction which led to no new books.

So, the purpose of this post today isn’t any big revelation or announcement about my books or my publishing schedule, it’s more about my need to be honest about my experience on my writing journey. That last highlighted bit is important. My journey. I know others have had to help their parents along the path into death. I know others have children who grow up and leave the nest when you don’t know how you will do without them. I know others have had legal matters complicate their lives and take up their valuable time and energy until a resolution comes. I know others have had fears and worries about their future in a competitive business that just seems to get more competitive by the day. I know other people have these things on their plate, too. The only difference was in how I chose to deal with what had landed on my plate. I knew what I needed to do to make the miserable feeling go away, and even though it took me over a year to get there, I finally managed it.

writeI am happy to share that I am back to being a WRITING WRITER again. I’ve written a whole new book, and am halfway into a second one now. I like what I’ve written. I think it’s good writing. I see books that people will enjoy and recommend to their friends. If you are interested in knowing more about my new series you can check out the Pinterest board for Filthy Rich and can find the Amazon pre-order link there, too.

Filthy Rich is being published by Montlake Romance, and will only be available on Kindle if you read ebooks. Again, the purpose of this post today is not promotional. Plenty of time for that later because there’s a lot more coming from me in the next months. You’ll see. Did I mention I am back to being a WRITING WRITER? Well, yeah…that. And it is the most wonderful feeling of all.

Before I sign off, I just want to reach out and say thank you to my supporters. Those of you who have continued to show their love and caring for me personally, as well as for my books. It hasn’t gone unnoticed, nor has it been disregarded. Your patient kindness and outpouring of love over the past year has kept me alive. Truly. I am so grateful for everything I have, the people in my life, the friendships, the wonderful humans and the non-human fur babies who have touched me in wondrous ways I could never express adequately my thanks if I had one hundred years of time to attempt it.

If you take anything at all from my ramblings today, I’d love for you to think about the advice of Mr. Coelho at the top of this post…

“Do It Now.”

I am.

Christmas Carols

Every year I give a holiday story to my fans.  This year it’s Gaby’s younger sister, Dani, and a certain hot detective at London’s Metropolitan Police, one Desmond Thorne.  I bet you’ll want to know when the book is coming when you finish reading.  This story has been in my head for a long time, and it’s not going anywhere.  *wink*  Blessings to all and best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous new year.

xxoo R

 

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Christmas Carols

 

London

21st December

 

christmas-carols-bells-with-musicChristmas in Merry Old England.  That would be me this year.  I hadn’t stood a chance of it being any other way either.  Not with my father and his persuasive tactics.  He’s been trying to get me to London for months.  Lately he’s really been pouring on the pressure because he thinks I’m not safe living in California.  And as much as I hate to ponder the idea, I’m forced to see that he might be right…

Last Friday he flat out commanded me to come for the holidays along with arranging a one-way ticket to London with my name on it.  He told me to pack my things and get myself to the British Airways counter at LAX by Monday morning and he wouldn’t have to make the trip across the pond to collect me himself.  He makes absurd threats like that, but the funny thing is he probably would.  Commanding is something my dad can do well.  He should be good at it since giving orders is a huge part of his job, that being a Chief Superintendent for London Metropolitan Police.

He’s also the most loving and protective father anyone could possibly have and I love him to death.

So as I make my way slowly through the long line at Immigration in the Heathrow Airport, I’m more than happy to be back in London so I can spend some quality time with him.  And my sister, too, although I know she’s pretty wrapped up with her new boyfriend these days—he’s a member of Parliament in the House of Lords and somewhat of a celebrity in Europe.  Gaby said he’s supremely hot so I can’t wait to meet this Ivan Everley and judge for myself.  He better be good for my sister or our over-protective-father-who-happens-to-be-the-police-chief will have something to say about it.  I can’t resist chuckling to myself at the thought of Dad and Gaby’s aristocratic new man having a throw-down.  But that’s how our dad rolls.  He won’t allow anyone messing with his girls with bad intentions.

“It was a one-way ticket,” I answer the Immigration official when he asks me how long I’ll be staying in the UK.  After a few more questions from him, and the answers to those questions from me, I’m on my way to Baggage Reclaim, and just a tiny bit closer to my ultimate goal for the evening: a hot bath and some warm pajamas.  The over-the-knee boots I wore on the plane look great and all, but they’re not the epitome of comfort, and it was an eleven-hour flight.  And I’m also closer to a visit with my dad.  We haven’t seen each other in person since he came out to California for Mom’s funeral two years ago, a reminder of something that’s still hard for me to accept, especially at the holidays.  I miss my mom all the time, but now, after two holidays without her I realize that Christmas will never be the same again.  How could it be?

I force myself to think of a happy memory of her at Christmas, something I know she dearly loved.  That was to listen to me sing.  I was a member in the a cappella choir at my high school, and Mom had absolutely loved the Christmas concerts.  My singing performance may not have been stellar, but my mom sure made a big fuss over every performance I was ever in.  I swear she knew the entire library of Christmas carols ever written, and all of the obscure verses that were too hard to remember beyond the main lyrics.  She used to sing the carols with Gaby and me at Christmas and teach us all of those forgotten verses.  We loved singing with our mom.  We loved her and she loved us.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why my dad wants me here with him for the holidays.  He doesn’t like that I am basically alone.  He worries about me and I know he doesn’t like that I live in the US instead of London.  When Gaby moved to London I think it made Dad even more obsessed that I should do the same.

Angels we have heardAngels We Have Heard On High is playing on the speakers as I locate my last bag and stack it on the trolley cart.  It feels like a reminder from Mom that she’s still here with me somehow and I feel instantly better.  I think my Dad is under the impression that I’m staying in London for a while.  He did say he has a proposal for me—a way to insure my future safety as he put it—so I know I owe him the courtesy to hear him out.

My phone chirps out an alert to let me know that Dad has sent a text.  Think of the devil and he knows…   Dani darling, I’ve made arrangements for Detective Desmond Thorne to collect you and bring you to me. Definitely my very best man on the job and I trust him completely—so should you.  I’ve made a special surprise just for you tonight, and am so very happy to have my girl back.   -Dad

So Detective Thorne was my ride from the airport…  I’d heard about him from Gaby when she’d told me that Dad tried to play matchmaker with them.  Gaby said she liked him, and that he was a nice guy, but Desmond Thorne just wasn’t the guy for her.  And she was with Ivan now.  I’d heard my Dad sing the praises of Desmond Thorne before, but had no idea what he was like as a person.  God, I hoped he wasn’t one of those jock bodybuilders with biceps the size of my thighs…and the social skills of a caveman.  I really didn’t want to have to finish his sentences for him for the next hour and a half either.  The ride from Heathrow into the city wasn’t short.  I was exhausted and just wanted to get to my room in my father’s house.

I scanned the crowd gathered to meet their people, some with signs, others without.  Well, great.  How in the heck was I supposed to find this Desmond Thorne when I had no idea what he looked like?  Wait.  He was the detective, not me.  I should just let the man do his job and search me out.  Dad had probably shown him my picture anyway—

My inner ranting was cut off by a tall, suited form that stepped in front of me.  “Danielle Hargreave?” he asked.

I stared and forgot how to speak.

He tried again.  “Are you Rob Hargreave’s daughter, Danielle?”  This time he added the merest of smiles to his rather serious expression.

Serious but gorgeous with brown eyes that pierced right through me.  In a good way.

A very good way.

Good. God.  Detective Desmond Thorne was definitely no meathead jock, and so far his conversational skills had me beat by miles.  I managed to nod and sputter out a “yes” before he was forced to ask me for a third time.

I thrust out my hand.  “I am Danielle Hargreave, but please call me Dani.  I’m assuming you are the ‘Detective Thorne’ who works with my dad?” I suggested.

He frowned slightly before taking my hand to shake it.  His grip was firm and his skin was warm as his hand swallowed up mine in the handshake.  “Yes, that Desmond Thorne indeed, but you should always ask to see some ID, and please call me Des,” he replied, copying my own introduction of mere seconds ago after the mild scolding.  I don’t know who broke contact first, but I was struck with the idea that I didn’t want to let go of his hand.

Wherever that crazy idea came from, I have absolutely no idea.  You must be in need of some sleep, because you don’t know this man from Adam.

Tall…broad shouldered…darkly handsome.  He seemed serious, but not in a harsh way at all.  In fact, there was a kind of gentleness about him that put me at ease almost immediately.  He must have a girlfriend.  It was a given a man like him would have a long line of applicants.  I’d guess he was early thirties, and with the way he looked, the chances of him being single were slim to none.  I had to mentally bitch-slap myself for my intrusive thoughts into his relationship status and remember why he was here at all.

“So, you’re taking me home?” I asked, forcing a cheerfulness I didn’t really feel.

“Yes and no, Dani.”  His brown eyes had a little twinkle in them now.

“I think you’ll have to explain, Des,” I fired back.

“Well it’s a surprise from your dad so I can’t tell you everything, but I can tell you that I will drop you at home where you are supposed to freshen up and get ready for an evening out.  Your dad has it all arranged down to the minute.”

“Hah, I don’t doubt that,” I said sarcastically as he pushed my baggage trolley towards the parking lot.

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She figured out the surprise as soon as I pulled into Trafalgar Square.  The white spire of St. Martin-in-the-Fields stood out gleaming against the dark sky and the Christmas tree lights.  The scene was almost as beautiful as she looked when she realized where I was taking her.  Almost.  Because Danielle Hargreave was beautiful perfection to me.

5f62603dd8bc543afa9b26561de9cfbb“Dad got us in for the Christmas Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields?” she asked incredulously.

“He did,” I said.  “And they’re all inside waiting for you.  Your dad of course, and your sister and her man, Everley, are here to welcome you home.”

“Oh my god, Des, the Christmas concerts at St. Martin’s are epic.  My mom went when she lived in London as a girl.  She always told me that it was something I must treat myself to one day.  I guess Dad really knew how much she loved Christmas carols.”

“Your dad knows a lot of things, so I imagine he did.  He wanted to surprise you and let you know how happy he is to have you home safe.”

She wiped at the corner of her eye.  “I know he is, and I’m happy to be home safe, trust me.  Weird stuff has been happening back in California and no one is sure where it’s coming from, or from who.”

“Your dad has told me a bit about it.  He’s been very worried about you I do know that.”

“Yeah, I know that too.”  She sounded sad.

“I’ll tell you what.  How about you forget all of the weird stuff for tonight and go in there and enjoy the concert with your family.  You deserve that one simple thing, Dani.  To appreciate some Christmas carols at the holidays.”

She turned away from the window to look me straight in the eye and smiled shyly.  Beautiful.

“Are you coming with us?”

“I’ll be in after I park the car.  Look, there’s your dad at the entrance waiting.”  I pointed him out to her.

“Oh, there he is.”  She waved at him through the window, the bad thoughts forgotten as the boss came forward to greet his child.  “I’ll see you inside then,” she said with another shining smile, “And, Des, thank you for the ride, and everything.  I’m glad I got to meet you in person finally, after hearing about you for so long,” she announced cheerfully.  The boss and I shared a look before he hurried Dani up the steps of the church.

The music had started by the time I’d made my way inside.  I hung back, content to listen to the carols and study Dani in the soft glow of many thousands of candles.  She turned back after another minute and found me in the crowd with her eyes.  She motioned that I should come and sit near them.

I nodded to let her know I would join her in a minute.

I needed to process everything first.  And could I even do this?

wedding-rings-fort-stewart1My chest ached and I stifled the urge to rub it.  How was this ever going to work?  The boss was pushing into tricky territory with his daughter, and I didn’t see how she would ever agree to his mad plan.  I wouldn’t mind if she did though.  I’d do it.  For him.  For her.

I’d marry Dani to keep her safe.

 

 

In Search of Mr. Darcy

 

chatsworth_house2

My view as I arrived. The green and picturesque countryside is utterly breathtaking. I was left pretty much speechless.

I’ve decided my trip yesterday to one of my “bucket-list-places” was worthy of a blog post.  I know I’ve been mostly absent on here for a while, and I do apologize, but circumstances have pretty much taken my wishes out of the equation.

The important thing to take from this is how I made my way over to London for a slew of book signings plus The London Book Fair this month, and I think the trip will go down in history as one of the best I’ve ever had in jolly ole England.  First off, I hit the super lottery on weather when I experienced warm-and-sunny for 14 out of the 17 days I was there.  *this never happens*   For April it’s an anomaly to experience anything other than cold-and-wet per the Brits who live there.  Global warming anyone?

So, on one of those beautiful and rare sunshine-filled April days of my trip, I made my way to a place I’ve dreamed of visiting for more than a decade–>  Chatsworth.  The ancestral country estate of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire situated in the Derbyshire countryside.  But Chatsworth is more than just an estate though, much, much more.  In fact, if you’re a fan of my books and a lover of romance, you’ve probably SEEN this famous house in a movie before…because Mr. Darcy lives there.

I’m not kidding!

darcy

Marble bust of Mr. Darcy made for the movie and now on display in the gift shop. It has a cute sign below asking that visitors “Do not kiss”

In the film Pride and Prejudice, 2005, Elizabeth Bennett travels with her aunt and uncle to the Peak District of England on a sightseeing holiday and runs into Mr. Darcy when they take a tour of “Pemberly” as played magnificently  by Chatsworth House.

Mister.  Darcy.

Yes, people, I love him.  I fully planned on seeing him coming out of the fountain with a soaking wet shirt.  Ahhh, the joys of an active imagination, true?

20150422_123555

The walls are filled with gorgeous paintings like this one. One of the Dukes had this portrait done of his three granddaughters in the garden. Le sigh…

I took some pictures of my experience but they will never be able to do justice to what is there…house and gardens left me speechless for the most part.  I just stared wide eyed and sighed a lot.  This huge estate has just about everything from stunning paintings, to soulful sculpture, to country vistas of rolling hills of green, to flowers blooming beside a koi pond with friendly fat fishes in it.  I just can’t even…

Let’s just leave it right here:  I’m very confident you’ll see aspects of Chatsworth appear on the pages of my future books, both those set in the past as well as the present.

Happy trails,

Raine xxoo

An Ethan Valentine

I do love Mr. Blackstone’s romantic style.  He’s got it down for sure.  Brynne and Ethan’s first Valentine’s Day together in an excerpt from Rare and Precious Things.  Photo collage courtesy of Luna.

valentines letter ethanDawn was breaking as I woke. I was alone in our bedroom. When I saw the lavender roses, I remembered the day and smiled. Valentine’s Day. Our first one, in fact. I looked at what had been left out for me by my romantic husband.

Beneath the vase of flowers, an envelope was propped beside a black velvet jewelry box. I opened the box first. It was another vintage piece from his family’s collection no doubt, and it was beautiful -a filigree butterfly pendant with a large ruby for its body. So perfect for me. I slipped the chain over my head and admired it. I would love wearing this necklace as a reminder of my butterfly angel.

I reached for his letter and read it.

~Brynne (Rare and Precious Things, page 340)