Friday, July 31, 2015

EXCERPT: Harper's Wish by Cerella Sechrist

This September, the first title in my Findlay Roads series is releasing with Harlequin Heartwarming. I'm so excited about HARPER'S WISH, which introduces us to Findlay Roads, a fictional town in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland:

Twenty years ago, Findlay Roads was a small community with a strong Irish presence from the immigrants who had settled in the town in the eighteenth century. With its quaint coastal charm as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it was eventually discovered by developers and tourists, and in the past five years, it’s been touted as the newest tourist destination for summer vacationers from nearby Baltimore and Washington D.C. With this new tourist boom, the locals have either learned to take advantage of the economic influx or have struggled as they’ve watched their town be recreated into an eclectic mix of old world charm and new century chic.

The first story, HARPER'S WISH, places disgraced restaurant critic, Harper Worth, at the mercy of Connor Callahan, the man whose career she nearly destroyed three years ago with one of her vitriolic reviews. This scene is where Connor first realizes just who Harper is...


“You’re Harper Worth.”

She flushed but still managed a smile. “Guilty as charged.”

“Get out.”

He’d obviously stunned her because she sat there, blinking for several long seconds.

“Excuse me?”

“I said…getout.”

Harper Worth. In his restaurant, his second restaurant, after all this time. And not as a critic but looking for work. He wasn’t sure whether to feel outraged or vindicated.

“My name is Connor…Callahan,” he stated, the words clipped.

Her expression didn’t budge, not a glimmer of recognition there.

He’d never seen a proper photo of her. Restaurant critics often concealed their identities so they wouldn’t be recognized when visiting establishments. And with Harper’s vitriolic reputation, he assumed she’d made every effort to keep her image from being exposed when dining out.

Now he finally had a face to put with the name—a much prettier face than he had imagined. He had built her up in his mind’s eye as the harpy he’d dubbed her, thinking she’d be thin, gaunt, with unnaturally long teeth and beady eyes.

She was nothing of the sort. But she was still the woman who’d nearly ruined his career, he reminded himself.

“You don’t even know who I am,” he said.

Her eyebrows dipped in confusion. “Sorry, should I? Have we met?”

He couldn’t help it. He cursed.

“Connor Callahan?” he repeated his name. “Éire?”

Satisfaction flooded through him as he watched the color slowly drain from her face.

“Éire?” she whispered.

“Ah, you remember what the restaurant was called, even if you can’t remember the name of the man whose reputation you ruined.”

“I—” But she stopped there, seemingly at a loss for words.

“Let me see if this rings any bells.” He cleared his throat before he began the recitation of her review from memory.

“Though barely competent, Éire’s executive chef tries too hard with the menu, putting on airs with mediocre aptitude.”

Her face whitened further, her expression becoming pinched as he continued.

“The filet mignon, though a fine cut of meat, is decimated by the lack of skill in preparing it. It will never measure up to the succulent cuts to be had at nearby restaurants in the district, and if ingredients as pure as this can be prepared with such average talent, then imagine the rest of the dishes.”

“Oh. That Connor Callahan.” She attempted nonchalance, but by the pink rising in her cheeks, he knew he had her right where he wanted.

“Can I tell you my favorite line? The one my investors quoted when they pulled out on me?”

She shifted in her seat. He injected a full Irish brogue into his voice and spread his arms to accommodate the full theater of the words.

“Éire is owned by Institute of Culinary Distinction–trained Irishman, Connor Callahan, who clearly believes his own blarney when he claims his restaurant is a dining experience to delight the senses. Perhaps he could use a taste of humble pie since I remain unimpressed and dub his establishment notworthit.”

The silence that followed these words was thick. He watched the fine cords in her neck flex as she swallowed. Her cheeks were stained crimson with what he hoped was embarrassment and shame, the very same emotions he’d felt when he’d read her defamatory review.


Want to read more? Visit my website for links to more excerpts via OverDrive and to pre-order your copy of HARPER'S WISH.

And don't forget there's only one week left to enter the ENDLESS SUMMER GIVEAWAY from me and Loree Lough! The prize includes $150 worth of goodies, including an Endless Summer gift basket, $20 Amazon gift card, and FOUR autographed Harlequin Heartwarming novels from Loree and me! You can enter at this link...and then check back here at the Heartwarming blog the following Friday (August 14) to find out who the winner is PLUS discover another huge giveaway! (It's another great one, I promise!)


About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at Harper’s Wish, her third Harlequin Heartwarming novel, releases in September.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Reading by Tara Randel

Summer is here! The kids are out of school. It’s vacation season! What better time to escape between the pages of a good book?

Whether you’re at the beach or poolside, slathered in SPF 50 and drinking a cool beverage, nothing beats relaxing with a book you can’t put down.

The question is, what kind of book?


My fall back is always romance. With new Heartwarming books available every month, I can easily get my fill. There are new authors to the line, as well as authors I have come to love. Give me a fun, laugh-out loud story, or romantic suspense, and I’m a happy girl.

But I also love to read blockbuster thrillers as well. For some reason, I always hold off and read these types of book in the summer. Talk about escaping! Saving the world is hard work! Someone has to sit back and read about it.

Interested in paranormal? If vampires and shape-shifters are up your alley, how much better with some romance thrown in.

A mystery is always fun. Between amateur sleuths and police procedurals, you can enjoy figuring out who-done-it, easily spending hours uncovering the culprit. If you like to get your mind working, there are plenty of good mysteries waiting for you.

How about thumbing through a cookbook? I like to cook and have compiled dozens of recipes I’ve never tried, but that doesn’t stop me from looking for new ideas. There’s something about being daring in the summer. Get that grill warmed up or try that new dish you’ve been afraid to tackle.

I’m working on a new book right now, so my pleasure reading time is very limited. But that doesn’t stop me from looking up my favorite authors to find out the next release date of their books. After all, no self respecting reader can keep up with their To Be Read pile. So many books, so little time.....

What are your favorite summertime books? Leave a comment. I’ll be giving away a copy of Magnolia Bride.

Enjoy your summer!      

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The greatest of these...

by Liz Flaherty

We've tried to define Harlequin Heartwarming more than once, I think. We use the words wholesome, sweet, clean, and they all work. But it's been more than that for me. Writing them and reading them and working with the other women who write (and read) them has just been the greatest gift, so even though my post today has nothing to do with writing--other than the fact that it was a writers' group assignment!--it does have to do with gifts. If I've used it before, I so apologize--please just pretend you've never seen it.

In 1990, I had a brand new daughter-in-law I hardly knew. She hardly knew us, either, yet there she was living with us while her husband was at basic and then AIT with the army. She was young and scared and pregnant, giving birth to their first daughter while Chris was at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. Their budget was so stretched as to be nonexistent, but one day when Tahne went to town, she came home with a bottle of gardenia cologne for me. It was her favorite scent, not mine, but she didn’t know me well enough to know what I liked—she just wanted to give me something. Twenty-five years later, I’m not sure what ever became of the cologne, but I still have the daughter-in-law.

       We passed a car down to our grandsons. It was a car that had problems
and created problems and should have been made into a nice meringue pie, but it was a pretty SUV, and the price made fixing its relentless foibles a viable option for the boys and their parents. Shea, the one who drives it the most, was thrilled beyond words to be driving the car. He worked at an orchard, and when he found out I loved Honeycrisp apples, he kept me in them until the orchard ran out of them.

       My daughter teaches special education. As the mother of three sons, girly isn’t part of her lifestyle, and she misses it sometimes. She decided she wanted to have Tiara Thursday for her girl students—Kari still wears her 40th-birthday tiara every chance she gets—but the cost of the sparkly headbands for all her girls was prohibitive. When I found some in the clearance aisle at the Dollar Store, I texted to find out how many she needed.

       That Thursday morning, I took the yellow sack of purchases up to the school, thinking to leave them at the office for Kari to pick up, but she asked me to bring them to the classroom. Where I got to hand tiaras to five squealing, excited little girls who were very happy to pose for pictures and give me hugs and huge smiles. Even the boys in the class put on the tiaras for pictures. I’m pretty sure the tiaras were the best $7.50 I ever spent, and the gift was to me.

       No matter how much or how often I write about it, I don’t know how to define love any more than I can define Harlequin Heartwarming—I don’t think anyone does—but I guess if I had to, I’d say it was made of Honeycrisp apples, little-girl tiaras, and gardenia cologne.

Monday, July 27, 2015

And Now the Rest of the Story...

by Patricia Bradley

Back in March, I had a post, Romance Is In The Air. It was about Tana and Jason, and they were married after she flew to Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

For the past 6 months, they've been honeymooning all over the California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Tennessee, Mississippi...

And I thought sure I could tell everyone the rest of the story this month...

Alas, the stars didn't line up. But...what if I gave a few clues about the rest of the story. I may be able to save this blog post after all!

Clue #1.

Clue #2.
The guy kneeling isn't part of the crew.
Clue #3.

Be sure to watch The Discovery Chanel next week.

I promise, next month I'll tell all!

Thanks so much for being patient with me, and for that I believe I'll give away three copies of A Heartwarming Christmas to three different readers who leave a comment!

Just answer this question:
Would you chance a ride in a boat on the Bearing Sea?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

RWA 2015 and Bingo Winners Announced

What a weekend it has been! Many of the Harlequin Heartwarming authors attended the National RWA Conference in New York City this weekend. It was a blast and no one knows how to party like Harlequin! 

Our first event together was a dinner with the editors. There were a lot of us, but we managed to get everyone in one shot!

Friday was our signing day! Tara, Carol, Melinda, Amy, Kate, and Jennifer all signed for Heartwarming. I put Anna's Berkley signing pic in too because isn't she too cute?

Friday night was the best night yet and fun was had by all at the Harlequin Black and White Ball at the Waldorf Astoria's Starlight Room. It was simply amazing! Tempting desserts, gorgeous dresses, cool lit-up book centerpieces, fun-loving editors and authors cutting loose on the dance floor. A fun time was had by all. 

I think I can speak for everyone when I say we cannot thank Harlequin and the Heartwarming editors enough for such a wonderful experience!

We'd also like to thank everyone who participated in the Heartwarming RWA promotion. Without further ado, we'll announce the winners of our at-home contest. Drum roll, please ....

Darlene Holley
Laurie Iglesias
Diana Tidlund

Congratulations, ladies. we will be in touch soon to get your contact information!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sit Down Saturday with Amy Vastine

Today we are celebrating the release of The Hardest Fight by Amy Vastine.

The Hardest Fight is the third and final book in the Chicago Sisters Series. How did it feel to finally tell the last Everhart sister’s story?

It is definitely bittersweet to see this series come to an end. I am happy to get to tell Lucy’s story,  but sad to say goodbye to this family. What’s great about writing connected stories is that you get to touch on the lives of the characters from the other books and continue to delve into their happy ever after. I loved that part of it. 

What’s your favorite scene?

This is an easy one. My favorite scene is when the hero, Dylan Hunt, gets knocked out while trying to rescue Lucy from an attacker and he wakes up in the ambulance with my favorite paramedic Charlie (from The Best Laid Plans) at his side. Dylan does not know what is going on and when Lucy shows up at the hospital, his train of thought while he tries to figure it all out makes me giggle just thinking about it.

If you could pick a movie star to play the hero and heroine, who would it be?

From Book 1 in the series, Lucy has always been Charlize Theron to me (I love her!) She does such a fantastic job of playing really smart, tough women, and that is what Lucy is. 

I didn’t have a good idea of what Dylan looked like right away but as I got into writing this book, he morphed into Captain America himself, Chris Evans. He’s a clean-cut, all- American boy. 

What do you plan to work on next?

I am about to sign a contract to write two new books for Heartwarming that are the beginning of a series that centers on a country music record company in Tennessee called Grace Note Records. I am excited to get started on it and so happy to be given the opportunity to continue writing for this amazing line. 

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

Well, I’m at the RWA National Conference in New York right now and am taking home about two dozen books to read. (Misty knows what I’m talking about!) But currently, I am reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I can tell this one is going to break my heart. I was reading it on the plane to New York willing myself not to bawl like a baby in front of a plane full of strangers. It is a a tough one but beautifully written!

Speaking of RWA, come back tomorrow to see some fun pictures from the conference. The Heartwarming ladies have been having a blast! And feel free to enter our RWA giveaway by clicking on the Heartwarming Bingo tab up top!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Do You Have an Estate Plan? by Roz Denny Fox

I ask this very personal question because I think it’s so necessary and because I recently saw a report that said 65% of adult Americans don’t have even a simple will.

Getting a will was something Denny and I did first thing after each of our moves when he was in the military and then worked as a telephone engineer. Those companies moved us as often as the military did. We did this because a woman’s group I belonged to before I was married had a speaker on the importance of having a will. Most states have involved and often different laws governing estates and/or custodial laws for what happens to minor children. There are states where if parents don’t have a will designating who gets custody of their children should parents die together in an accident, the children are automatically made wards of the court. And a judge decides who will raise your orphaned children.

Some people I know think they’re too young to make a will, or that it’s too expensive. For many it seems a far-off need. In truth a will lets you control what happens to your property and family after you’re gone.
You no longer even need to make an appointment with an attorney. You can make a will, a living will, or a living trust by going online and doing it yourself.

What a simple will can do:

Name the person you would like to manage your affairs.

Transfer property not distributed in other ways.

Serve as a public record of your wishes.

Suggest a guardian for your children if applicable.

Include provisions designed to minimize the impact of taxes that may be due.

A simple will cannot transfer property such as a home, investment and bank accounts or automobiles and other assets owned jointly with another person.

Life insurance benefits are not included in a will, but in the beneficiary papers you sign at the time you arrange for life insurance.
A simple will does not transfer assets outside the probate process. (Important to know—see below)
You should find out if your state’s probate process is automatic at the time of your death. If it is, probate costs can be high, and can take time, and freeze your assets. To keep from having probate funds taken off the top of the money you leave, a trust or a living trust should be set up in conjunction with your will.
So the truth is—a will is an effective way to make sure those you leave behind are taken care of in ways you wish. It’s true that if you don’t have a valid will that your assets will be divided according to your state laws. It’s true that even if you have a small estate, your heirs still benefit from you having an up-to-date will. And it’s true that owning assets jointly with spouse or a partner is not a substitute for a thoughtful will.

I know it’s difficult for some people to imagine, think about, or talk about death. And yet those same people care about the people they love. In addition to making a will that distributes your assets, you should have a living will that spells out whether or not you want to be put on life support should the need arise. A living will spells out exactly who you want to make decisions about your medical care should you become too incapacitated to make those decisions for yourself. And as writers, we need to assign someone to handle our intellectual property in case we’re unable, or after our death. That person may or may not be the person you name to handle your financial affairs. These are all things that need attention while you have all of your decision-making facilities intact. As difficult as it can be to get your heirs to discuss these matters, they need to be taken care of.

So I’m writing this as a gentle reminder that it doesn’t pay to not plan. You have earned your property. You have a right and a privilege to distribute it in the manner you wish after you no longer need it.


Look for my next Heartwarming book: Molly’s Garden   August Release