Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Traditions Around The World

by: Stephanie Burkhart

Around the world, New Years Eve is traditionally celebrated on 31 DEC, which is the final day of the Gregorian calendar. Interestingly enough, it wasn't until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian calendar, which most of the western world now uses.

One of the first major New Years celebrations takes place in Sydney, Australia. Why? It's one of the first major cities after the International Date Line. Sydney's fireworks have a rich history of being transmitted all over the world.

In Brazil, New Years marks the beginning of the summer holidays. Brazilians like to light candles in the sand and jump over 7 waves in the ocean – for good luck of course.

The Czechs get started early. In Prague, fireworks start before noon and increase in frequency until midnight.

In Denmark, they get rowdy. Old dishes are saved throughout the year then thrown at friends or neighbor's doors on New Years for good luck.

The French call New Years eve "la Saint-Sylvestre," and celebrate with a feast that includes oysters, seafood, and champagne.

In Berlin, Germany, they shoot fireworks off centered around the Brandenburg Gate. In 1990, I remember visiting the Brandenburg Gate with my husband and friend, Rhonda, whose husband was stationed in Berlin. We did a shot of Bailey's under the Gate and toasted 1991. I guess it was lucky – My husband and I married in 1991!

In America, several events mark the New Year. The big ball in New York's Time Square is dropped. It’s a tradition that started in 1907. The Tournament of Roses Parade, which is held in Pasadena, CA, began in 1886.


This song was written in 1788 by the Scottish folk poet, Robert Burns. The worlds "auld lang syne" translate to "old long since." It was an old way of saying "the good old days." The song is about letting go of the past and looking forward to the future.


Are practically non-existent! This is the 1st time in 10 years I'll be home with my husband (and not working!) to celebrate. I think we'll have a nice dinner with seafood and champagne, share a kiss at midnight for good luck and eat a donut for more good luck before going to bed.

Pathetic, aren't I? Would anyone like to share their New Years traditions or recipes?

Stephanie Burkhart's most recent release was a short story in the Borealis Two Anthology called "Shadows and Light." It's a science-fiction romance set on a space station, released with Desert Breeze Publishing.

You can find me on the web at:
and on FB at:

Visit my other New Year's Blogs:

At Romance Under The Moonlight, answer my New Years trivia and you can possibly win one of my autographed books. Here's a link:

Visit the Desert Breeze Publishing blog and take a look at the history of New Years. It will be out tomorrow on 1 JAN 2011. Here's a link:

Have a happy and prosperous 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet Salavation - What a Way to End 2010!

Thank you for having me as a guest here today. I just had a new release come out on Monday that I would love to tell you guys about. It’s called Sweet Salvation. I wrote it because the story of Rex and Shelby needed to be told. When I finished writing Sweet Redemption, the 1st book in the Sweet Awakenings series ( ) there was too much left unsettled. Rex being the intense womanizer that he was needed to be brought back down to reality. Shelby also had some demons she needed to contend with. Her malicious behavior from Sweet Redemption was never quite explained. I just could feel so many avenues and possibilities I had to write it.

Thus comes the story of Rex and Shelby and their Sweet Salvation...


Falling in love with his best friend wasn’t what Rex had intended, but it seemed that when it came to Shelby all bets were off. After a rocky start, the two fall in love, completely unaware of the danger that lurks in the distance.

Plagued with nightmares, Shelby begins to remember memories of abuse she suffered as a teenager, which were long ago buried and forgotten. Dealing with the pain of her past brings her and Rex closer together.

Someone else wants Shelby for himself though and is determined to get her by any means necessary. As he sets his plan into motion, the question of who will survive and who will be destroyed remains unanswered as a surprise from Shelby’s past may be the key to finding Sweet Salvation.


“I don’t care how hard you push me, there is no way he was safe.” Rex laughed at her.

“That’s only because you probably have that umpire in your back pocket. You would pay him off to cheat just to annoy me.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault you were rooting for the losing team. Pick a real team next time.” Pushing off her blows, he grabbed her in a bear hug and eased her back against the cushions of the couch.

After they took a moment to control their laughter, Shelby looked up at the man holding her in the crook of his arm. She was smiling up at him. He could see how happy she was. He could see the contentment in her eyes.

“This is good, Shelby. I would have missed this if we had lost it.”

“Me, too. Promise me something, Rex?” She was no longer smiling.

“Anything, you know that.” Rex replied rather hesitantly, not liking the seriousness of her expression.

“No matter what happens, promise me that you’ll never stop talking to me. Promise me that we’ll always be able to tell each other whatever we’re feeling.” Looking up at him more closely, she put her hand on his chest and continued. “Can you promise me that, Rex?”

* * * *

God, she looked so beautiful. And sweet, she looked so damn sweet. Everything inside of him was telling him to kiss her again. He wanted to taste her lips just one more time. Oh, hell. “Of course, I can promise you that. Always, we will always talk to each other. There won’t be any more days of silence. I promise.” He winked at her.

The smile she gave him squeezed at his heart. Snuggling up closer to him and bringing her feet up underneath her on the couch, she got comfy. It was a way that they had spent many nights together in comfortable silence. Never once in all the months they had stayed in and watched TV in this position had it ever bothered him. But now, he was suddenly all too aware of how snugly her body fit with his. How good it felt to hold her against him? Damn it! What the hell was wrong with him? He tried to recite baseball statistics as they flashed on the screen, hoping that would get his mind back on track.

He watched the remainder of the extra-inning game in silence. He knew she had fallen asleep. She always loved it when games went into extra innings. He would have woken her, but she was sleeping so peacefully, and he had the sneaking suspicion she didn’t get much sleep last night. He had, but only thanks to his buddy Jack Daniels. He didn’t want to move her, but they had fallen asleep on her couch too many times before. He knew that if they both stayed like this, they would both wake up sore and cranky.

Gently, he began to get up as he let her body lie on the couch where he was sitting. Going to her bedroom, he pulled down her covers and got things ready for her. Coming back into the living room, he decided to pick up the mess they had made from dinner. After he had loaded their dishes in the dishwasher and discarded their trash, he went back to get the sleeping beauty.
His intention was to pick her up and carry her to bed, but something stopped him. He sat on the coffee table and just stared at her. He had an ache in his heart that was killing him. He didn’t know what it meant, but he knew it centered on Shelby. Truth be told, he didn’t understand any of this. How could they have been such close friends for this long without this desire that was consuming him now? He wanted so much to touch her, kiss her, and hold her. Only not like a friend.

He wanted to bury himself in her. Basking in what he was sure would be the sweetest hot vise of wet pleasure. Showing her that their bodies intertwined was what their destiny was. He wanted to make her–hell, he didn’t know. He just knew things were different now. He was going to have to fight very hard to keep these feelings locked away. Besides their friendship, he knew she wasn’t ready for a relationship. She had been through so much. There was no way he would take advantage of her again. He couldn’t. Just as the last thought left his mind, she opened her eyes and looked straight at him.

She smiled. “Are you leaving?”

God, I hope not.

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Ok, not sure yet - try the following HOT Adult Excerpt:

“Rex? Is there something wrong? You’re so quiet.” She gave him a triumphant smile. “Penny for your thoughts.” She continued to taunt him as she walked toward the bed.

He stared at her. She did it! He couldn’t believe it. She had shaved all the hairs from her sweet, succulent pussy. All that stood in between him and her glistening, swollen flesh was her smooth, creamy skin. “Jesus, baby. You are so damn gorgeous. Come over here and let me taste you.”
She laughed. “Rex, did you forget the rules? I’m in charge right now. You do as I say, not the other way around.”

He threw his head back in frustration. He wanted so badly to touch her there and to taste her.

He brought his head back up when he felt the bed move. She was getting on top of him but not the way that he would expect. She was facing the other direction. He was ready to bless her for her ingenuity when he found himself wanting to curse her. She had purposely positioned herself right in front of him, but just barely out of reach. His tongue darted out but couldn’t reach her. She was at least six inches away from his mouth. And the sight. Jesus, the sight of her was amazing.

She raised her bottom up higher and sank her mouth down on top of him. It happened so fast he hadn’t been expecting it. He let out a groan as she took him deep and fast. Clasping her lips tightly around his shaft. He was dying underneath the aggression she was unleashing on him. Just when he thought he would scream at her and demand more, she inched herself further back and allowed him access to what he had been craving.

“Mmm, God, you’re fucking sweet, honey.” He could barely reach her with his tongue and was using it to stroke her glistening folds. He couldn’t reach her clit but from her rocking hips knew it would only be a matter of time before she gave him a taste of that, too. He knew that if he had full access to her, he would be able to take her over the edge within seconds.

* * * *

She was starting to move more than her hips. Her entire body was starting to buck and rock back and forth. As much as she loved what she was doing to him, she was also driving herself insane from wanting him so bad. She loved the taste of him in her mouth. His protruding veins were a sensual contradiction to the smooth skin of his head. And the sensation of his tongue on her smooth skin was indescribable. It was like there were new nerve endings that were exposed. Had they always been there? She wondered to herself as she heard a deep, pleading moan and had to bite back her laughter. She rather liked knowing that she was driving him as crazy as he drove her.

“Shelby, damn it, come closer to me. Let me taste all of you.”

She did as he asked. She liked it when he was a little demanding.

“That’s it. Mmm, you taste so damn good. I could make a meal out of you. I could survive on nothing but the taste of your pussy for the rest of my life.” He kept licking and sucking every inch of her as he continued. “Your smooth skin feels so good under my tongue. You’re so hot, baby. Your juices are like flowing lava. So damn hot. Jesus, do you have any idea what you’re doing to me? If you don’t stop, I’m going to lose it.”

She knew what he meant, and she didn’t care. She wanted all of him. She didn’t stop. She increased her movements. She was no longer just trying to tease him. She was now a woman on a mission, and she was desperate to get to the release that the thick, pulsating length of him was promising her. She wanted to swallow all of him, just like she had on their way home from the restaurant.

She knew he wouldn’t be able to hold back much longer. If she didn’t pull back, he was going to come before he even had a chance to send her over the edge.

“Baby, I want you to come for me, just like this. While I’m licking your smooth shaven pussy. I want to lick up all of your sweet syrup as it drips from you, covering my face.”

His words had her moving faster now. Her breathing becoming more rapid. She was getting close.

“Rex, I–” She moaned.

“Yeah, babe, that’s it. Give me all of your nectar. Let me drink the proof of your passion. Let me
swallow it all up.”

Sweating yet? Go ahead and BUY NOW


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Gift Ever!

Happy Holiday's Everyone. I hope this blog finds you happy, healthy and hale.

I wanted to spread a bit of joy this year with a moment of happiness now burned into my heart and soul. Christmas came early this year bringing with it, the very. best. gift. EVER!

What is this wondrous gift you ask? Well, my Darling Diva showed me once again what a beautiful and blessedly giving old soul she has.

With times what they are and money being tight for the majority of people out there, our local news was doing a story about how low the donations have been this year for Toys For Tots. They were especially low in gifts for Tween girls.(my darling diva's age bracket) They were looking for Curling irons, hair accessories, bags and such-things on the minds of many a girl that age. So when my daughter saw that she looked at me and said..."We should donate one of my gifts to that, mom."

~We should donate one of my gifts to that, mom.~

I'm so darn proud of her.

In all honesty, we are one of those families where times are tough and belts have been tightened. There will be no fancy electronic doo-dads under the tree, nor gift cards galore, but our gifts will be given with love and there will be food on the table and a roof over our heads. This is a reality my Darling Diva is well aware of, and still she's willing to give one of her gifts to make anothers Christmas merry.

So, my favorite gift this year, er, ever? Those ten little words my daughter uttered to show me that the spirit of giving was alive and well.

May you all find your BEST GIFT EVER this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Craziness!

I love this time of year. All the festivities in life and in virtual life. There are always so many promotional events, parties, baking, blogging and of course the regular writing tweeting working and eating we do. Its insane and fun, takes my mind off the dreaded winter and snow that is also a part of this time of year.

Added to all that is a new release I had out on Dec 1st! Which was preceded by a total crash and rebuilding of my website...and Oh my how my head has been spinning. I think I am coping well...I don't know if my family would say the same thing however...

I will be so happy when things are a little smoother, although not too smooth. I love being busy, I love interacting with readers and other authors and I absolutely love love Christmas with my family and all the craziness that it implies.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful season, celebrating with those you love and giving to everyone as much as they give to you. I am sending out virtual hugs and love and if you are interested in some of the other craziness I have been up to this month please check out my brand new revamped website, which also includes a free short story I wrote just for Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Romance of the Wolf Shifters

Happy Holidays, romance lovers. I posted this Flash Scene last year as a celebration for this time of year. I thought I’d offer it again in case you haven’t read it, or would like to again.

For those of you who are fond of running on winter’s wild side with the wolf shifters among us... here’s an R-rated Flash ~

Love at White Wolf Lodge

“I love you.”
Kindra’s heart skipped a beat. A really big beat. She hadn’t heard that. Had she? Rising slowly, while trying to think in quantum leaps, she draped the popcorn trim on the nearest branch of the nine foot tree she’d chosen for her father’s lodge, The White Wolf. “I love you.” There it was again. To make certain her ears weren’t deceiving her, she did what she didn’t want to do, turn around and face the owner of the voice, the man her father considered to be his right hand. Kindra stuffed her hands into her back pockets.


Zack, the man she’d spent the last three weekends having ‘body heat’ sex with, in every position she’d ever fantasized about, looked as though he was about to howl his feelings for everyone at the guest lodge to hear, if she was any judge of his expression.
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way...” she began, then halted as his gaze blazed like the enormous fireplace to one side of them. Usually enigmatic and aloof as their moon, now, fierce determination carved his ruggedly handsome features and glittered his dark silver-colored eyes. “What am I supposed to say?” Kindra shrugged.


Zack D’Guerre of the Voltz Pack was used to getting his own way. He’d certainly seduced her easily enough, a discreet assault that aroused her passions to a ferocity that had her climbing up his lean sex-delicious body with her slit pressed against his tall brute of a cock. He’d suavely introduced her to his den of iniquity, then proceeded to show her carnal pleasures she’d never dreamed of. He had her panting every time she saw him or thought about him. Kindra figured she was his winter conquest, the woman he’d entertain himself with until the spring thaw. Wrong.


“You’re supposed to say ‘I love you’ back.” His silvery hot gaze didn’t waver. He was on the hunt. For her.
Kindra took several steps backwards, nearly crashing into the Christmas tree she so carefully decorated. “You’re supposed to say ‘yes’ when I ask you to marry me.” Reaching out, fast as he could snatch a rabbit in his jaws, he caught her arm. With surprising gentleness, he pulled her away from the tree. “You know I can’t think of you... in that way,” she whispered, then waved to a couple passing by who smiled a greeting at her. “Why not?”


Kindra desperately wished she ran through the newly fallen snow. Alone. Free. Her paws cushioned by the airy coldness. She wanted the scent of pine and warm-blooded prey seizing her nostrils. She didn’t want to be here. With him. His words of love growling in her ears. He was supposed to be the man she had a once in a lifetime affair with, the one she remembered as she lay curled before the fireplace, dozing. He was her guilty prized secret. That’s how she’d written their script in her mind. Mounting savage lust, and that was the end of it.


Instead, she stood here, feeling and smelling his wolfen mating heat for her. The man who heated her blood to an impossible, unbearable sizzle. Reluctantly, he released her arm.
“Because I can’t.” Kindra jerked her hands out of her pockets, then crossed them tightly beneath her swelling breasts. She glared, her wild frustration steaming out of every pore on her body. So it felt. He stared. The need to know more than what she’d spoken flared deep in his eyes. “Why can’t you?” “Because... to be with you... I couldn’t let my heart get involved.” Kindra thrust her chin out.


“That’s why,” she added, louder than she should have. Dying inside, Kindra averted her face. Why couldn’t she just have been decorating the tree as she did every year, enjoying the heady excitement of bringing it to holiday life. Glistening. Golden. Bright with colored bulbs and ornaments. Damn. Grrrring snarling damn. And damn his need to mate her. His unique potent musk surrounded her, demanding her surrender. Demanding she surrender to her own she-howling need for him.
“Your heart is already mine, Kindra. You just don’t know it, yet.” “Is that so?” she attacked, baring fangs she didn’t have. Not yet.


But wished she did. She’d rip into him, her teeth snapping so fast he couldn’t subdue her. She’d teach him she meant fierce bitch business. Her heart didn’t belong to him. Not one untamed beat of it. For good measure, she’d slap him with her tail, before racing away to bound over the snow. Free. Alone.
“That’s so, little wolfess mine.” Whirling, she moved back to the boxes of decorations. “Go away, Zack. I need to finish the tree...” His hand caught hers and with a command she couldn’t fight, he tugged her flush against his body. “No,” she whispered.


His lips claimed hers, then devoured with a primal sweetness that had her yielding, her body as soft as the marshmallows in her mug of hot chocolate. The shouting no’s in her mind turned to whimpering yes’s. Kindra grabbed his neck and clung. Her legs swung upwards, wrapping around him. They panted, placing kiss after tumultuous kiss on each other’s mouths. Immersed inside their own world of raw seething passion, neither one of them noticed the gathering crowd. Until the sound of clapping and cheers intruded.
Kindra let her lips unglue from his and slid down his body. “Marry me.”


He didn’t relinquish his lover’s hold, despite the fact she squirmed to free herself.
“Marry me, Kindra. I love you.” “You planned this,” she accused in a whisper. “Asking me in front of everyone. I’ll look like the bad-bitch Grinch who stole Christmas, if I say no.” “Yes,” he admitted, his growl adoring. His gaze sparkled, as silvery as moonlight on the snow. “Do you know when I knew I loved you?” Kindra could only shake her head no. “The first moment I saw your face.” Her heart unfroze, then blazed like the roaring fire. “Yes, Zack. I love you.”

Have a Splendid Holiday Season... May your most romantic dreams come true...


Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Wedding Story

Sometimes real life can top all romances. Joselyn Vaughn is here to share her holiday wedding weather threatened to prevent. What a shame that would have been? Joselyn is the mother of three active and fun toddlers as well as two lazy beagles. I think I could handle lazy beagles, if that means they are quite as well. lol

Take it away, Joselyn.

In our area, the newscasters get giddy at the chance of an approaching storm. Not that storms are unusual, winter or summer, but they are really unpredictable. A storm could approach for several days, but the meteorologists and the computer models won’t agree on a path or snowfall amount until a day or two after the storm passed. And generally if it’s Monday and they’re predicting a blizzard for Saturday, we will only get flurries.

So when the weather reports started hinting at inches of snow for January 2, our wedding day, I pretty much ignored them. We’d likely get enough snow to cover the ground and make for some pretty winter wonderland pictures.

On Christmas, we had just that. About four inches of snow on the ground and everything looked lovely. New Year’s Day, the day of our rehearsal, was beautiful. Clear blue skies, bright sun glistening and sparkling on the snow. Perfect.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to the wind howling. I peeked out my window and saw white. Not the white ground of the field, but a wall of snow flying horizontally past. The bitter cold leaked through the windowpanes.

As I ate breakfast, calls started coming it. Family and friends that couldn’t make it. They were snowed in. It crossed my mind to delay the wedding, but several of my husband’s family and friends had driven all the way from Minnesota and could not just come back next weekend. Besides, for them, this wasn’t bad at all. Throw in a thirty below wind-chill and a foot of snow an hour coupled with an inch of ice and they might talk about the weather getting bad. In fact, my in-laws were hanging Christmas lights outside the reception hall. (My husband’s idea, not mine! They can blame him for the frost-bite.)

My family and I proceeded to the church and got two calls that could be problems. The first was from one of my bridesmaids. She couldn’t make it. Her father had been out that morning and gotten his truck stuck. He didn’t want her venturing out. Since I’d rather have her safely at home than stuck in a ditch or worse, we agreed it would be best if she stayed home. I wasn’t concerned about having a lopsided wedding party. Much worse things could happen at a wedding, but my sister immediately tracked down my cousin-to-be to fill in. The bridesmaid dress fit her perfectly.

The second call was a little more problematic. It was the minister. He’d gotten stuck in his driveway and couldn’t get out. No minister? That would put a hitch in the wedding plans. (This was the days before you could become a wedding officiator by filling out a form on the Internet. Neither my mother nor I would have been happy with that anyway.) So what were we to do?

My dad picked up the phone and started making calls. The good thing about a blizzard is that most people are tucked in at home planning to watch college football bowl games and not out shopping or whatever you would do the day after New Year’s. My dad called in a favor from a minister who lived across the street from the church and we were able to have the ceremony on time even.

All my brothers and sisters arrived safely and my husband’s family as well. Even my ninety-six year old grandmother made it. (She would have walked if my uncles hadn’t consented to take her.) We had all the important stuff.

We said our vows as the snow piled up outside. The minister even remembered our names after joking that he might refer to me as my niece’s name because she was friends with his daughter.

In the wedding pictures, you can see the guests were prepared for the wintry weather. No pretty dresses or high heels. Boots, slacks and wool sweaters were common. The parking lot showed similar preparation. Excluding our Honda Civic, it was filled with four wheel drives.

Even with all this the wedding was perfect. We were married with our friends and family around us. That was all that we needed.

And everyone remembers it. If they don’t remember our wedding, they'll remember the storm. It snowed almost continually for the next week. One of my bridesmaids had to delay her flight home. Whenever the meteorologists need to rank a storm, ‘our blizzard’ tops the list and I have to laugh.

I wish I could say we escaped the cold for our honeymoon, but we went to Minnesota and twenty-below wind-chill. What were we thinking?

Joselyn Vaughn

Courting Sparks - Avalon Books - available for pre-order in Hardback at Amazon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fill Your Shopping List with Romance

Holidays are a great time to share authors you've enjoyed throughout the year. Some venues allow gifting of ebooks, but there still those who love the feel of paperbacks in their hands as they read.

If you've readers on your Christmas list who you've not figured out that special gift for, consider buying books. Here at Happily Ever After, we have authors for just about everyone's taste. We're starting off Holiday Week with our offerings for you.

Check them out:

Bekki Lynn - erotic contemporary/paranormal/historical; poetry
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- to get 50% off use code words: Annie [MK54K] Jackie's [ZA77P]LOVE [EE85K]

Celia Yeary - Historical Western, Contemporary Cowboy, Women's Lit
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Cheryl Pierson - Western/Cowboy; Contemporary Suspense/Mystery
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Courtney Breazile - Romance; Erotica (contemporary, paranormal, historical)
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Jane Beckenham - Contemporary Romance; Erotic Romance
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Jane Richardson - Contemporary Romance
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Judah Raine - Contemporary Suspense/Mystery; Contemporary Romantic Literature; Mainstream
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Linda Banche - Regency romance with comedy, fantasy and/or paranormal. Note: not all books are available at all venues. All are available at Wild Rose Press.
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Digibooks Café (20% off, use code e3d9d10a3c)
The Wild Rose Press

Lindsay Townsend - Historical romance, erotic historical romance, romantic suspense
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Rebecca Vickery - Contemporary Romantic Adventure, Psychic Romantic Mystery and Suspense, Contemporary Sweet Western, and Speculative Fiction
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Sara Humphreys - Paranormal Shapeshifter

Savanna Kougar - Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal Erotic Romance, Shapeshifter Erotic Romance
Aspen Mountain Press

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Liquid Silver Books

Serena Shay - Paranormal Erotic Romance, Shapeshifter Erotic Romance
Liquid Silver Books

Stephanie Burkhart - Paranormal Historical Vampires/Werewolves; Children's; Sci-fi/Fantasy
Barnes & Noble

Most of us are available at All Romance Ebooks and Fictionwise. They aren't set up to allow us links to our complete book listings.

Happy Holidays!

Happily Ever After Authors

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Baths in Ancient Rome were rowdy! Also sexy. Read on to find out how

The Roman philosopher Seneca lived over a Roman baths in ancient Rome. He complained in letters about the noise!

Things he really hated:

Men exercising hard at the baths and grunting as they did so.

Hair-pluckers wandering about the baths, yelling for customers and then making their customers yell as they plucked out their arm-pit hairs with tweezers. (Ouch!)

Men 'dive-bombing' into the plunge pool.

Cake and sausage sellers shouting about their goodies all round the baths.
However, Roman baths could also be sensual, sexy places - as you will discover if you pick up a copy of my Roman historical romance, FLAVIA'S SECRET, now available as a free download until Valentine's Day.

Here's another excerpt from the novel, taken from the great bath in Aquae Sulis (Roman Bath at Bath in England, where the novel is set.) Here the hero and heroine, Marcus and Flavia, are together while the baths are quietening, having encountered the corrupt Decurion, Lucius Maximus.


As they walked side by side back through the great bath, Marcus said, `An impatient man, and cruel. Detestable.' He cracked his fists together.

`He's hiding something,' Flavia said. `Why else was he so concerned about Lady Valeria's papers and that fictitious journal?'

`Ah, so you knew I had made that up!' Marcus put an arm about her shoulders and steered her towards the shimmering waters. `You are right, though, and so was Valeria. That is not a man to be trusted.'

`I wonder why he warned you off politics.'

`I'm wondering that myself.'

As they closed on the top step of the great bath, Flavia sensed a new kind of danger and tried to forestall possible trouble. She lifted the small wax tablet attached to her belt. `Should I make a note of anything, sir?'

`I think not.' Gently, but inexorably, Marcus turned her to face him. `Thank you for shackling my temper, little Celt.' He bent and kissed her forehead. `When he spoke of my mother -' His fingers tightened around her shoulders, instantly relaxing as if he realizedwhat he was doing. `Forgive me.'

To her own amazement, impelled by a sense of sympathy she hardly dare acknowledge, Flavia touched a hand against his chest. `There is nothing for you to be sorry about,' she whispered.

His hand brushed against her head. `Amazing stuff,' he said, running a loose tendril of her hair through his fingers. `Like foam.' He lightly kissed her nose and then, as she laughingly protested, her mouth.

A passing bather made a ribald comment, which Flavia did not hear. She was in Marcus' arms again, her own arms floating shyly around his middle, tightening as he groaned and gathered her closer. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the kiss, her lips becoming ever more sensitive as their embrace deepened. His arms were locked about her, his sensual mouth both taking and offering, his tongue tracing her teeth, the inside of her lips.

`Flavia,' he breathed, as his hands spread across her back and waist,one dipping lower and stroking exquisitely slowly over her bottom.

She gasped aloud, wanting yet not wanting to break free.

`Hey, soldier!' yelled another bather. `Have pity on the rest of us!'

Horrified, suddenly aware again of exactly where they were, Flavia tried to draw back, but Marcus followed her, his mouth smiling against hers. `Not yet,' he murmured, `Just one more.' He kissed her again and lifted her in his arms, half-threatening to drop her into the great bath.

`No, please!' Flavia squirmed, the rising steam dampening her clothes as she was lowered helplessly close to those pale green waters. `I will bite your arm!'

`Do that, my girl, and your backside will regret it,' growled Marcus,sitting on a marble bench close to the top step with Flavia on his lap. `Now be still a moment and stop scandalising the bathers - the few that are left.'

`The baths close soon after sunset here,' Flavia reminded him,leaning her head against his shoulder. She felt a disturbing mixture of shame and exhilaration, but overall she was grateful for the respite, a breathing space for her overwhelmed senses. Watching the emptying waters of the great bath with Marcus, she told herself that
she could not afford to be close to him. Yet she had heard of masters who had freed and married their slave girls, a beguiling thought.

Marcus watched her, taking in her warm, bright eyes, her flushed face and prettily reddened lips. She dovetailed so snugly in his lap it was a pity to move. Delicate, he thought, watching the shadow of her
long lashes falling across her high cheekbones, but surprisingly passionate. A water spirit, very much in keeping with their surroundings.

He scowled, disquieted by his own thought. He had never been sentimental before. He remembered Drusilla his wife, an honored spouse, whom he had treated from the very beginning with respect, good-will, and loyalty. This girl was not even his own race.

She licked her lips, one hand absently pressed against her stomach.

`Thirsty?' he asked. `And hungry no doubt.'

`Not for any delicacy provided by Lucius Maximus,' the girl said quietly. Marcus applauded her principles: she had great spirit.

He patted the marble bench. `Wait here. I will find us a drink, at least.'

`Thank you, sir.'

She left his knee and although that was what he had asked for, Marcus was frowning again. She had called him the slave`s term of respect, as was his due, but he was disquieted as he set out through the rapidly emptying baths in search of a wine-seller. He had discovered that he did not really want Flavia to call him 'Sir'.

Best wishes, Lindsay
Lindsay Townsend: FLAVIA' S SECRET
How Far Dare You Trust Your Lover? Especially when he is also your master?