Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Spotlight and Review of A Marchioness Below Stairs

Today, I want to welcome my writer friend, Alissa, to my blog. Her Regency romance is now out! I had the privilege of reading and reviewing it before it even came out on pre-order!

A Regency Romance

About the Book

Escaping from Bath and the news that her former love is about to marry another, Isabel, the young widowed Marchioness of Axbridge, accepts an invitation to her cousin’s house party. Yet, instead of finding respite, she stumbles into a domestic crisis of majestic proportions: The kitchen servants have succumbed to the influenza.

If that weren’t bad enough, her former sweetheart arrives with his fiancée, seeking shelter from the increasingly hazardous snow storm. Trapped inside Chernock Hall with a volatile mix of house guests, including abolitionists and slave owners, Isabel wishes she could hide below stairs for the duration. But, alas, she cannot. While helping in the kitchen, Isabel is cornered by her cousin’s disreputable friend, Marcus Bateman, who challenges and provokes her at every turn.

At last, the storm subsides. However, the avalanche of repercussions cannot be undone. Caught in the grip of the terrible winter of 1813, will Isabel’s greatest threat come from the weather, her abolitionist views, or from falling in love again?

If you love traditional Regency romances, you'll adore A Marchioness Below Stairs.

About the Author

Alissa Baxter wrote her first Regency romance, The Dashing Debutante, during her long university holidays. After travelling the world, she settled down to write her second Regency romance, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which was inspired by her time living on a country estate in England. Also the author of two contemporary romances, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons.

About the Publisher

Founded in 2007, Regency Reads specializes in Regency and Georgian era romances. In addition to publishing new titles, Regency Reads offers an extensive catalog of previously (paper) published fiction in the form of ebooks. We provide ebooks in ePub, PRC/Mobi, and PDF – all the formats you need to enjoy these classics on the device of your choice.

A Marchioness Below Stairs
By Alissa Baxter
On Sale: November 15, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-947812-00-0

Regency Reads | 181 pages | $5.00

Buy Links:

My Review:

The story is about Isabel, a widow from a stifling arranged marriage, who wishes to remain single and maintain her independence. But she can't ignore the handsome reformed rake, Lord Bateman. Through a series of adventures and mishaps she finds herself in due to her fiery spirit, Isabel discovers Lord Bateman to be different from any man she's known.

I've never really enjoyed Regency stories, but I was keen to give this one a try as I enjoy Alissa's writing. I wasn't disappointed. I didn't feel bogged down by the language and manners in this book; instead I was quite fascinated by the lifestyle and ways portrayed in this lovely novel. It was written in an interesting and compelling way.

Although this was predominantly a romance, I felt it was more than that. The story spoke about a strong woman who stood up for her truth and freedom, and fought for justice and human rights. I thoroughly enjoyed the rich history in this book and how the heroine was a woman beyond her time. The book was infused with some tension and suspense too.

To top it off, the hero wasn't bad either.

Friday, November 10, 2017

He Completes Me

I hope Elric2012 doesn't mind me copying this from Deviant Art.
What a beautifully crafted Strength card - from his tarot deck that he's creating.

So, this guy befriends me on my author Facebook account. My privacy settings are much lower on that account, because I use it to promote my books, and I don't want to turn people away. I accepted his friend request. Then he starts messaging me and asking me personal questions. He lives in a country in Northern Africa. I ask him what he wants, stressing that I don't do long-distance relationships. Really, how can you get to know someone who you never see and when you do see them, it's just for a holiday? You don't get to see them in real life, how they respond to situations, and how they get on with friends and family. It freaks me out! That's why I don't do these things.

I've heard of so many people being scammed through a man who messages them on Facebook or a dating site. He romances them with flattery and romantic words, then asks for money so he can fly to their country and visit them. Some women actually send the men money and then find out it was a scam. I heard a story recently about a total jerk who managed to convince a woman to fly over to his country to meet him (they'd actually met previously but briefly) and then told her it was a joke - a bet he'd made with his friends that he could get a really ugly woman to do his bidding! She was devastated, as you can imagine.

Back to my situation: this online man gets upset with me and accuses me of being racist because I wasn't interested in chatting. I stressed again that I'm not interested and that it's nothing to do with race, but because it would never work and how can he want me so much if he knows nothing about me? He responds with a message, saying he really wants to come and visit me and build a life with me! Sigh... I just ignored him and I've unfriended him.

It makes me think of how desperate women can get for a man that they will get taken by these fellows. Ladies, we don't need a man. They enhance our lives (if they're good men); they don't complete us. Really, we need to find our happiness in ourselves first.

As a writer and editor of romantic fiction, I now have an aversion to books where the woman is now complete when she finds her "perfect" man. What utter crud! We are whole and complete on our own. Yes, having a partner to share our lives with is beautiful and wonderful, but if we tap into God's love and love ourselves enough, that big, gaping emotional hole won't be there. And then we won't feel desperate to fill it with the first guy that comes along. And then get used and abused along the way.

So, in the meantime, while I wait for that moment when I meet the right man, I'm working on filling up that hole and loving, respecting, and appreciating myself. Validating myself! Wahoo!

We're powerful creatures - women. We don't have to give away our power to anyone. Tame the beast like in the picture above!

Tiny Buddha is brimming over with wisdom, as always. I love this article:


I don't know if you've ever watched a movie or series and it's deeply impacted you in some way. Well, I couldn't keep quiet about the BBC Merlin series any longer. Last night, we watched the final two episodes of the series. I was deeply emotional for hours afterwards. This series is seriously one of the best things I have ever watched. It comes on par with the Harry Potter books (because although watching the Harry Potter movies was great, I already knew what was going to happen). 

The series is about a young man, Merlin, who takes on the position as servant of Prince Arthur. He's a sorcerer and magic is forbidden in the land. Sorcerers are punished with the death sentence, so Merlin must keep his magical abilities, given to him from birth, a secret. But he certainly uses them constantly (and somehow secretly) to save Arthur's life because he believes Arthur will bring peace and prosperity to Camelot one day.

Please proceed with caution due to possible spoilers:

Firstly, there is a strong "gospel" message in the story. King Arthur epitomises the true and just king who wants to bring peace into the world. He often shows mercy to people who don't deserve it and he often chooses peace over war. His willingness to give his life for his people shows the true heart of God. I wouldn't say he always does it as he is human and flawed, but the contrast between him and his father Uther remind me of the fundamentalist view of God as opposed to the Christ-like view of a loving God who never sends people to eternal hell or kills whole nations, as some people interpret from the Bible. Merlin is also a lot like Jesus - the most powerful sorcerer (miracle-worker) who ever lived, but the one with the true servant's heart who never wants any credit for the many times he saves the lives of others. 

Secondly, they somehow got me so invested in the character and stories that I can't stop thinking about it and I became deeply attached to the characters. That is the mark of a true story - brilliantly crafted, where you are taken into their world and feel like you're a part of it. I have not seen anything like it on TV.

The inner character and metal of the main characters are great for young people to watch (and also adults) to show us what a true hero looks like. It's feel-good, moral, and yet real and funny at the same time.

I think they chose great actors for the series. I just love Merlin. I love Colin Morgan - the very Irish young man they chose for the part. What I like is he looks like a real everyday person and not a Hollywood cut-out doll. Oh, and those piercing blue eyes that look right into your soul!! Arthur is cute as a button, and Bradley James suits the part perfectly. I love the chemistry between Arthur and Merlin. I think the fact that the two actors were good friends helped bring that chemistry into the show. They really worked well together. I love that they chose a lady of colour for Guinevere. And Angel (yes, that's her name) is perfect for the role. And who doesn't love a cleverly thought-up villain (or should we say villainness?) Morgana had her reasons for turning bad and although not excusable, we see the pain that has brought her to that point.

I highly recommend you watch the series. It's long, but you won't regret it. If you're a fantasy nut like me and obsessed with dragons and magic (like me) you won't be disappointed. 😊

If you want to learn more about the series and see a few pics, this is a good article:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Forest by Krista Wagner

Today I want to welcome fellow Clean Reads author, Krista Wagner, who is sharing about her new middle-grade / young adult fantasy release, The Forest. This book looks amazing.


The Forest is a middle-grade/young adult fantasy about a bullied high school boy who encounters a life-changing mystery inside of a magical forest. In the sequel to her middle-grade fantasy The Gold, Krista Wagner fast-forwards seven years to show us what has become of Shane Smith, the fifth-grade bully from The Gold. Tired of his dad's abuse and his teacher's mistreatment, Shane takes a walk inside of a forest. Little does he know that the forest contains mysteries that will forever change things for him. Will he be ready to face the sudden shift in his world?

When abused Shane escapes to the forest, he encounters a miraculous mystery.

Mini Excerpt: 

He didn't like not understanding things; it made him feel stupid, and it only confirmed his dad's verdict that he would never amount to anything worthwhile.  Huffing out of frustration, he moved forward until the edge of his shoe touched the brink of the forest. He was going to show his dad that he was somebody.

Reader Reviews:

The Forest is well crafted, and passionately told story about Shane, and the many issues he faces growing up. The attention to detail weaves a rich tapestry that embraces the reader, taking us from the harsh reality of abusive adults to the mystical, alluring forest with ease. The issues Shane faces will be familiar to many youth, and I'm sure they will connect with this well written story. It will be well-received by young adults across the globe.--Susan Day

In this YA Fantasy novel, The Forest, Krista Wagner entertains, informs, and encourages her readers once again! This story, a sequel to her previous work, The Gold, follows seventeen year old Shane Smith into a tumultuous life of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his alcoholic father. Shane’s authentic anxiety and hopelessness is immediately transferred to the reader, as well as the peace, joy, healing, and renewal that he finds in the forest. Wagner’s fearless ability to tackle extremely heavy subjects with skillful and open dialogue is a hallmark of her writing. This is a beautifully written book that will fill the reader with a confident hope. Turn the page. “The Forest” awaits!!--Karen Wiser

The Backstory:

In my MG fantasy The Gold, ten-year old Amanda Greene is constantly teased by her classmate. Shane the bully. I thought it would be interesting to see what becomes of him and if he ever learns from the choices he makes.

About the Author:                                                                                                  
Krista Wagner is a 70's product best known for her spiritual suspense and fictional realism. In addition to being a recipient of the Reader's Favorite 5-star seal, she has been praised by award-winning screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy for her writing skill and strong plotting. Wagner holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English associate instructor with an indispensable faith in Christ.

I'm also a 70's product. 😏 Congrats on your awards!!

Buy Link:

Author Website:

Book Trailer:

Monday, October 30, 2017

Great News

I've been working hard to write a gift for my readers. It started off as a short Halloween story and ended up being close to novella size. It's a good thing as I've had writer's block for so long, but this story flowed! I loved the feeling.


Susanna's dreamed of visiting Tuscany, Italy her whole life, but she's not so enthusiastic when her travel agent boss sends her on a tour to the province at the last minute, just before Halloween. When Susanna joins Ghostly Tours, she can't ignore the handsome blue-eyed American, Shane. Nor can she resist engaging with the blue-eyed ghost who visits her and pampers her at night - a ghost who looks too much like the man she sees during the day. Soon she realizes that Shane is more than a stranger, but rather someone she's known for a long time, way longer than her current lifetime. The two share a history steeped in hurt; this very history keeps Shane from embracing his humanity and stops Susanna from finding her true purpose in life. Are they destined to destroy each other's destinies? Or does the love they share transcend the past?

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Benefits of Being Single

So, it's with a big breath of relief that I've decided to embrace being single for now.

Thank you to Pixabay for the lovely free pics!

Our modern society seems to frown upon being single as though it's some type of plight. But there are many benefits to it. These are the benefits I'm discovering about being single:

1. Freedom

Yay! You can be who you want. You don't have to answer to anyone. You can wear what you want, eat what you want, cut your hair how you like, spend your time how you want. Of course, there are limits, like time, budget, etc. And, I plan to pretty much go into the next relationship maintaining this new sense of self. To celebrate my newfound freedom of not having to look for a man, I'm going to chop my hair really short. Men have some strange aversion to women with short hair, so I've been trying to grow it just so I can be attractive to the opposite sex. Well, now that it's not my goal, I'm going to cut it how I like, just for fun.

2. Time to pursue your own interests

Yes, yes, yes! I've picked up some new hobbies which are helping me to adapt to single life and enjoy it. I've joined a line dancing group; I've taken a liking to gardening (it's so relaxing); I enjoy water-painting; there are so many more possibilities out there. The world's your oyster (within time and money limits, of course.)

3. You get to spend a lot of juicy alone time and grow spiritually

Yes, it's really possible to do this while in a relationship, but in fact, you become absorbed in the other person and you tend to neglect this part of your life. It's been so great to build a meditation / prayer practice, read juicy spiritual books, and grow in my spiritual life. It's wonderful to practice the presence and rely on God to be my source of comfort and friendship. He's much better than any man as he loves me unconditionally and cares about every little detail of my life.

4. You have more time for sista friendships

There's nothing like a lady friend to be able to message and chat to. They're rock solid and they understand what it's like to be a woman. Statistics have shown that single people have a larger social support structure. I believe it's because they need it. And I want to maintain that should I ever go back into a relationship.

5. You can have platonic guy friendships without feeling icky about it

I admit that I don't feel right about having a friendship with a guy when I'm in a committed relationship, but it's perfectly fine when you're unattached. I have a guy friend who is purely my book friend. We talk about the books we're reading at the time. It's great. There's nothing romantic (he is a bit too young for that anyway) and we have a sort of understanding with each other and similar ideas about life.

6. You get to decide whether a guy is worth your time

Boy, have I learned this lesson the hard way! No longer am I going to let guys in my life who don't respect me as a human being before they see my body. Boundaries, baby, boundaries. The joy of being single and looking after yourself. I'd rather be single than in a relationship with someone who doesn't see me for who I really am and respect me.

7. You can go easy on the waxing/shaving and miss out for a few weeks

I don't do this often, but if I do forget, it's really not a thing, especially in winter. I don't have to do the nasty bikini thing anymore which always causes rashes and stuff. El naturalle - that's the way to go. (In an ideal world, always and forever.)

8. You can go to bed whenever you want and sleep in for however long you want

Within reason, obviously, as you may have other commitments, but on free days, this is wonderful!

9. No more worrying that they'll cheat on you

I got this from the internet and it's so true: You don't have to worry about these things anymore: Does my partner still love me?” “What are they thinking?” or “Are they cheating on me?”—all these questions that chip away at you suddenly disappear when you’re single. A break from worrying will do you a world of good!

Of course, when in a relationship with the right person, many of these things may continue. I plan to find that person who will accept me for me and I won't have to worry about the future with them! 

If you're single, what benefits do you find in your life? I'd love to hear.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Strong Heroines

It's been so long since I blogged. I often have things brewing, but by the time I'm finished all my tasks for the day, I'm too tired to blog.

So, count your blessings that I'm blogging again. Or maybe not. 👩

Today, I want to talk about strong heroines.

I've just finished writing a book. It's been such a wonderful journey. And thanks to my beta readers, it's looking so much better than it did when I finished my first draft. I've sent it off to two publishers. Although my heroine isn't one of those super-outgoing, career-obsessed women (she's rather more nurturing), she's a strong woman. She knows what she wants in life and love - a man who treasures and respects her. She won't settle for less just because she's desperate to have a relationship in her life.

Due to doing quite a bit of internal work in healing from my divorce, my radars are quite in-tune with anything that screams co-dependency in a romantic novel. I cringe when I read about women who feel like their life has now found meaning and they're finally truly happy and fulfilled because they've fallen in love. Now all their problems are solved and finally they're complete. I admit, I used to write stories and heroines like that. But now it makes me cringe.

Because, no man can make us happy. A man can add to our happiness, but in the end, true happiness is something that comes from inside our being. Whatever way, we have to learn to find it through our faith, our attitude toward life, or through things that we're passionate about. Because face it, no man is immortal and sometimes relationships do end.

And the best way to attract a man is to be happy in ourselves. Well, the right man. If we're unhappy in ourselves, we're going to attract a man who is co-dependent just like we are. And that's a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully, most modern romances have strong heroines who believe in themselves and aren't desperate for a man to fill the empty spot inside of them. Instead love finds them and enhances their lives. Romance fiction has a way of speaking to women today, to show them who they can be. It's often a trendsetter and a pioneer of breakthroughs in feminism. Hooray for romance novels!

What type of strong heroines do you enjoy reading?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Abby's Letters by Dana Romanin

Today, I want to welcome fellow Clean Reads author, Dana Romanin, who is talking about her novel, Abby's Letters.


For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.

Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.

There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?

Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.

Excerpt from Abby’s Letters:

Clark exhaled. “Anything for you, Janie.”

Oh. He had to pull out the nickname. It crushed her. Asking Clark to lie for her—she had never asked so much of him. It went against everything he believed in. She didn’t believe in all that Christian stuff, but he did. Keeping this secret would mean disrespecting his mother. It meant he would have to go against his beliefs.

Disrespect his God.

But his God wasn’t there for her, and He certainly wasn’t going to save Abby from foster care.

Jane would, though.

She entwined her fingers with his. He was so different than the little boy who’d played hide-and-seek with her on warm summer nights, back when her world was filled with her father’s laughter and her mother’s smiles. Now his muscle twitched in his strong jawline. What happened to the freckle-faced boy she had played G.I. Joe and Transformers with? He even had stubble.

“Thanks, Superman.”

“You’re the only one allowed to call me that.”

“And you’re the only one allowed to call me Janie.”

“This is too much. You can’t do this alone.” His thumb caressed her hand.

“I’m not. I have you.”


“Heart-wrenching, beautiful, and complex, Abby’s Letters is an exquisitely written treatise on mother-daughter relationships, forgiveness, and love. Romanin skillfully tells this fragile family’s story with tenderness and grace, highlighting the interplay of a young woman’s painful past, uncertain future, and unflinching sisterly devotion. Each moment in this novel is a treasure shaped by masterful prose and lyrical storytelling. Do not miss this book. This is a story that should be read by anyone who is a mother or who loves one.”

--Megan Whitson Lee, author of Suburban Dangers and the award-winning novel, Captives.

“Dana Romanin’s debut novel is a poignant tale of love and lives lost, and one girl’s attempt to keep what’s left of her family together, despite all the odds. A wonderful and thought-provoking read.”

--Diana Sharples, young adult author of Running Lean.

Buy Links:

Amazon: Amazon

Barnes & Noble: Barnes and Noble

Author Bio: 

Dana Romanin has dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl pretending to be Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables). She used to write under a forsythia bush, but now she writes in a messy office that she shares with her sewing-obsessed daughter.

Dana’s short story, The Silence of Sand, was chosen for adaptation into a short film performed by the Blue Man Group. Dana has also published short fiction for teens in Encounter—The Magazine and had a short story published in a Family Fiction anthology, The Story 2014. Her first novel, Abby’s Letters, releases in June 2017.

She lives in a small town near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia with her wonderful husband, three beautiful kids, and a lot of persnickety pets.

You can find her blog and awkward videos on her website She can also be found on Twitter (@DanaRomanin) and her Facebook fan page (DanaRomaninAuthor).