Exciting News!

Today’s Moment has a little something for everyone, and it’s all good.

Romance Review

Jeannie Moon writes contemporary romance, the kind you have trouble putting down because she draws you into the story with beautifully crafted characters, sensual tension, and realistic, compelling conflicts.

Meg, the heroine of The Temporary Wife, is someone you’d want as a friend. Since I’m a woman with two careers myself, I like that Meg has a career she enjoys, and that it’s depicted as an important part of her life. Jason, her hero, is sexy but down-to-earth and loyal (even if he is a billionaire). I also liked the family dynamics in the story, and adore the little one, Molly. Ms. Moon’s descriptions brought back vivid memories of my daughter at that age.

The crux of the story is that Meg marries Jason to protect Molly from the child’s cold-hearted grandparents. This is the first time Jason and Meg have been together since he ended their relationship due to peer pressure as a teen. Jason doesn’t know he was Meg’s first love, or that she’s used her feelings for him as a barometer for every romantic relationship in her life since–and they all came up short. How will Meg hold onto her heart for the year before the pre-arranged divorce? How will their relationship affect the little girl she loves? How will Jason prove to Meg he’s not the guy he was in the past? How will they overcome all the obstacles of family dynamics and past hurts to give them their forever love?

Just writing this review pulls at my heartstrings, and I’m tempted to reread the book already. If you love sweet, romantic escapes that leave you with a satisfied, mushy glow of happiness, you’ll love Jeannie Moon’s debut novel, The Temporary Wife. Be sure to comment on this week’s post for a chance to win your own copy of this book, courtesy of the author. To read a sample chapter of this book or to order your copy, click on the book cover photo to the left.

Guest Blogger News

As you may recall, my daughter recently graduated from college. As a culminating experience for a creative writing course, she traveled to northern Italy for a ten-day excursion. I’m so excited to announce she has agreed (without any twisting of arms or other forms of persuasion) to guest post about her recent adventures in the coming weeks! What better way to kick off Margarita Moments’ third year than incredible scenes like this:

DSCN0113

Dorf Tirol, Italy

And, last but not least…

the winner of the $25 Amazon gift card from last week’s blogiversary celebration is Jill Weatherholt! Congratulations, Jill. Please email me at jolysebarnett@gmail.com to arrange for your gift’s delivery.

For everyone else, this is your lucky day, too, because I’m honored to give away a free ebook of Jeannie Moon’s spectacular debut novel, The Temporary Wife. To be entered into the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment. (Winner will be announced Monday, June 10th.)

What juicy book have you read recently? Any blog ideas for our third year at Margarita Moments? More TV guilty pleasures or romantic escapes?

Milestones, Memorial Day, and Mash-Ups

Milestones…DSCN6415

Tis the season of weddings, First Communions, and graduations. Last week, my family celebrated our daughter’s college graduation. I was tempted to cry, but she wouldn’t have approved. I’m thrilled for her, confident she is ready for the next step of her journey. It also doesn’t hurt that she’ll be home with us for a year before moving onto medical school. (How can a mom resist that cute face?)

Hard to believe, but Margarita Moments & Other Escapes celebrates its second blogiversary on Friday! One randomly selected reader will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card, just for commenting on today’s post. You’ve got to enter to win!*  

Memorial Day…

All Gave Some, Some Gave All.

As much as we enjoy our Memorial Day weekend barbeques and pool parties, the meaning behind this holiday is bittersweet. Our hearts and minds remember those who have fought and died for us to have the many freedoms we savor as Americans.

Never forget.

Have a safe, relaxing holiday with your loved ones. Celebrate on behalf of those who can’t because they’re too busy keeping us safe.

…and Mash-Ups!

DSCN6377PEACH SANGRIA RECIPE

1.5 L White Wine (ie. Mescato)

1.5 cups Peach Absolut Vodka

1-2 cans of frozen lemonade

Strawberries (in chunks)

Granny Smith Apples (in chunks)

Serve over Ice or with Seltzer

JOLYSE’S HIGHLY RECOMMENDED POOLSIDE READS

Now it’s your turn.

Share any milestones, Memorial Day stories, suggested summer drink recipes or poolside reads. We’d love to enjoy them with you. Remember to leave a comment to be entered into this week’s drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

DSCN6557

*Winner must provide a valid email address in order to receive gift card via email. Winner will be announced Monday, June 3rd, 2013. Good luck!

In Remembrance

May 31st is Jolyse Barnett’s Margarita Moments blogiversary. In appreciation of YOU, my readers, I’m giving away prizes to random commenters** each week this month. (To learn if you won for commenting last week, scroll to the bottom of this post.) So, if you haven’t yet left a comment, now’s the time to dip your toes into the blog waters. Your email isn’t made public and you can use a nickname for privacy. Winners from today’s post will be announced Thursday, May 31st. Check back then for an extra-special Margarita Moment and final blogiversary giveaway. Enjoy, and good luck!

Simple and Delicious

This weekend has been a respite from the daily grind, relaxing by the pool with friends and family. Aside from an elusive sun, the weather’s been agreeable. Our big hit on the grill so far was the delectable bacon-wrapped scallops my sister brought to the party. I can’t wait to compare them to the shrimp recipe we’re trying out today!

All Gave Some, Some Gave All.

As much as we enjoy our Memorial Day weekend barbeques and pool parties, the meaning behind this holiday is bittersweet. Our hearts and minds remember those who have fought and died for us to have the many freedoms we savor as Americans.

Raised in a rural community during the seventies, I heard about the boys in our town, barely eighteen, drafted into service. A number of those young men never returned, their names etched into the war memorial in the center of our small town and celebrated three times a year. Those who did come home often had lasting scars, the worst of which were invisible. As a Girl Scout, I honored our veterans by placing a flag next to their graves each May and November. Little did I know we’d adopted a tradition begun by southern women after the Civil War to remember their dead.

The Cold War taught us to always be wary, and it was with great relief and optimism in 1981 when the Berlin Wall tumbled down. We no longer had to fear nuclear war with the Soviet Union. College years for me were the Big 80′s. Not only was our hair big, but our dreams too. Generation X expected the world. Like the song said, the future was so bright we had to wear sunglasses.

I was pregnant with our first child in 1990 when our country came to the brink of war again, with a “line drawn in the sand” between our president and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I feared bringing a baby into a world of unease and heartache, and again was thankful when the brave men and women of our armed services brought the conflict to a speedy end.

Years of peace lulled many of us Americans into a false sense of security. That all changed one fateful September morning.

Never forget.

9-11 hit very close to home. We knew people who died on those planes, people who died in the towers, people who missed death by inches or seconds or last-minute change of plans. My home of Long Island fell silent. There was no air traffic and the Long Island Expressway was shut down.

I scurried out of my work building that day, anxious to be safely home with my loved ones, when a deafening roar stopped me in my tracks. Fearing the worst, I squinted into the midday sun to see silver fighter jets screaming overhead. I spied the red, white, and blue emblazoned on each, and I breathed again. I’d grown up hearing the occasional thunder of jets from the local Air Force base. They’d frightened me, but my father always reassured me they were there to protect us. Now I understood.

Have a safe, relaxing holiday with your loved ones. Celebrate on behalf of those who can’t because they’re too busy keeping us safe. I leave you with this song by Five for Fighting, one I think is perfect for Memorial Day:

What does Memorial Day mean to you?

And now for blogiversary news…Last week’s Margarita Moments prize winner is LynneRose!!!! Thanks for participating and congratulations! Email me at jolysebarnett@gmail.com with your address. An insulated personal cooler tote bag and $20 Amazon card will soon be on their way.

This week’s prize is a $25 Amazon card and a pair of Margarita glasses. Be sure to comment if you want to be entered into this drawing. :)

**Commenters must provide a continental USA address if selected as prize winner. I apologize to my out-of-country readers. I love you too, and will have to figure out a cost-effective way to include you in future giveaways. Thanks for reading!

First Impressions

Remember when you were a kid and you loved to play pretend? This week’s Margarita Moment is a chance to recapture that imagination of yours.

Use any of my first three novels’ opening lines, or think of your own story starter, and have fun daydreaming. Ask yourself “What if?” and see where the ideas flow.

Ready or not, here we go…

A Daughter’s Final Promise – Contemporary Romance

First Impression: Kathryn knew better than to drink three glasses of champagne. She told herself she was obligated to have one during the toast. As for the second, she drank that in mock celebration of her status as single-older-sister-of-the-bride. She was fuzzy as to why she downed the third, but she strongly suspected it had something to do with having consumed the first two. It couldn’t have anything to do with her attraction to Joanna’s new brother-in-law, Jacob. Or, the fact he was slow dancing with another woman while she sat here in the corner, fiddling with her empty champagne glass.

When Dreams Collide – Contemporary Romance

First Impression:  Nicki Donnatto glanced up from her carefully prepared notes and smiled at the friendly faces in the audience. “And these are the reasons I request rezoning approval and a building permit.” She turned to the five board members seated to her left. “Thank you for your consideration.”

Uncharted Waters (Working Title) – Contemporary Romance

First Impression:  Damn his buddy, Dillon, for wanting to see some new performer at a Duval Street bar Saturday. Sure, the guy turned out to be a kickass musician, and he was funny as hell. All the tourists had laughed, their vacation dollars tucked into his tip jar. But that was beside the point. If they’d hung out at the Green Parrot instead of that tourist trap, he wouldn’t be in this mess. He couldn’t get her out of his head.

Speaking of story lines, the ending of A Daughter’s Final Promise was inspired by one of my favorite songs. Kathryn decides to take another chance on love, her relationship with Jacob different than others in the past because it’s one based on trust and tempered with compromise. Take a listen to this Maroon 5 video She Will Be Loved:

Fellow writers: This post was the brainchild of the talented and sweet Sonia G Medeiros’ April-May Writing Challenge. If you’d like to participate, click the link for more details. I’d love to see your entry!

Margarita Lovers: What’s your favorite first line or last words of a book, play, or movie? OR What inspires you?

True Love, The Most Magical Potion

When I first wrote about Once Upon A Time a few months ago, I had such high hopes for this tv series.

I’m thrilled to report that, seven episodes later, I have enjoyed every one, from the story of Jiminy Cricket, to Hansel and Gretel, to the paranormal Little Red Riding Hood.

Robert Carlisle as Mr. Gold

Subtle clues are woven into each episode about a variety of fairy tale characters’ lives and the overall story arc built around Snow White vs. The Evil Queen. As detestable as Rumplestilskin/Mr. Gold can be, he’s one of the most fascinating characters, a credit to Robert Carlisle and the show’s quality writing.

Exciting, too, is the arrival of a writer to Storybrooke, the only person other than Emma’s son to believe a book of fairy tales may be more than a bunch of stories. Perhaps that writer will turn out to be her love interest. Emma has been through so much in her life. Doesn’t she deserve a fairy tale ending?

With the March 18th  episode, we’re drawn back into the central drama of Mary Margaret (Snow White) and David (Prince Charming), after David’s so-called wife Catherine has gone missing. Of course, the audience knows Mayor Regina (The Evil Queen) is behind Catherine’s disappearance, and that’s confirmed with the gruesome discovery of Catherine’s heart in a box.  Yes, the Evil Queen has quite the MO. Anyway, Mary Margaret is framed for Catherine’s murder, and the only one who believes in her innocence is Emma, the sheriff who has no choice but to charge and arrest her friend.

Yes, you read that last sentence correctly.

Emma is the only one who still believes Mary Margaret is innocent. That’s because, in true fantasy-soap opera fashion, David attempts to learn from his memory lapses by undergoing hypnosis. Sadly, he misinprets his memory and, in one of his most uncharming moments to date, questions Mary Margaret about her role in Catherine’s disappearance. Here’s the heartwrenching exchange:

Every week this show treats the viewer to more memorable lines. The HEART OF DARKNESS episode is no exception:

“Revenge is not the answer. It will turn you into something darker than you can imagine.” (Jiminy Cricket to a vengeful, desperate Snow White)

“Everyone has a dark side. Evil doesn’t always look evil, sometimes it’s staring you right in the face and you don’t even know it.” (Regina, aka The Evil Queen, to David when he says Mary Margaret couldn’t hurt anyone)

“Evil isn’t born, evil is made.” (Mr. Gold to Prince Charming)

“It’s the only thing I broke that I can replace. All I can say is ‘I’m sorry.’” (Snow White’s apology to the Seven Dwarfs)

“No potion can bring back love. Love is the most magical potion of all. If you can bottle love, you can do anything.”  (Rumplestiltskin gets the best lines!)

The scene that includes the last line shared here gives you a glimpse into Mr. Gold’s investment. He often refers to it when speaking with Emma, Mary Margaret, and David. If for no other reason, enjoy Carlisle’s acting:

What are some of your favorite tv show or movie lines?

Mommy Porn?

A week ago, a coworker of mine was gushing about a romance she’d read. In fact, she was so enthusiastic about this story she admitted she’d even managed to read it while blow drying her hair that morning before work.

Now that’s a good read.

I’d long forgotten about that tidbit of conversation when the same coworker approached me and mentioned the book again. She insisted I HAD to read it. This time, I stopped work long enough to hear the title:  50 Shades of Grey.

By Friday, three more coworkers had recommended the same book to me. Turns out it’s the debut novel in a trilogy by UK author, EL James. My curiosity kicked in. People don’t usually get this riled up about a good book. They didn’t tire of talking about this one, though, saying what an incredible escape from reality this story was, and that the character, Christian Grey, was truly unforgettable.

A total escape from worries? Unforgettable. Now that’s a MUST read.

Over the weekend, I was swamped with dayjob work but took a few moments out to check the Kindle price for the book. It’s $9.99. Wow. That seems a steep price for an ebook that was once free on fanfiction’s site. But word of mouth has sucked me in and I can’t resist. I’ll purchase it as soon as I have pleasure reading time later this week.

In the meantime, I researched a bit more about this hot commodity (Movie rights are already in the works.) to whet my appetite and to determine what all the fuss is about. According to a British newspaper, 50 Shades of Grey has been dubbed as Mommy Porn, a romance/erotica. It’s also being marketed as Twilight for adults. Okay, that’s intriguing. However, the most fascinating aspect of this book going viral may be that the ebook revolution has freed women to read whatever they choose. According to Forbes,  so-called Mommy Porn may be the next “big thing” in literature. Double wow.

What do you think?

Have you read 50 Shades of Grey? What’s your take on the media labelling of this book? Is this a new genre or just a new name for the smut many women readers have always enjoyed? Do you feel more freedom purchasing racier books with the privacy and anonymity ebook readers provide?

Get Lost…in a Book

Winter Chill

An avid reader doesn’t need an excuse to enjoy a good book, yet there’s something especially appealing about skipping errands in favor of curling up on your favorite piece of furniture and losing yourself in a story. I think this is doubly true during winter, sitting quietly a welcome change after all the excitement of December. Are you in the mood to revisit a beloved novel, read your favorite author’s newest release, make a dent in your to-be-read pile, or discover a new author?

As a novice owner of a Kindle Fire, I chose to read CROSS MY HEART, a book by Abigail Strom that ranks as the number one contemporary romance on Kindle. Its ranking may have had something to do with the book’s price, a mere ninety-nine cents. But that alone didn’t convince me to give her novel a try. It was Abigail Strom’s website bio, book blurbs, reader reviews, and excerpts that did.

CROSS MY HEART is Abigail’s third book, and the second in the Landry trilogy. The heroine, Jenna, is a singer/guitarist from a recently defunct rock band. She is back home in rural Iowa for the summer, housesitting for relatives. Michael Stone is a divorced, part-time father and workaholic cardiac surgeon who lives next door. They are attracted to each other, but don’t actually have a conversation until his teenage daughter arrives for her two-week visit. The daughter begs Michael to help her meet Jenna, one of her favorite singers. In the end, Jenna teaches Michael about music and having faith in himself as a dad, and he teaches her that love is worth compromise.

Abigail wrote the daughter, Claire with such a realistic teenage personality. The family and other interpersonal dynamics pull at the heartstrings, too, with believable, compelling conflicts. I was rooting for these characters, and I felt that the three of them would make a terrific family unit. I had to keep reading to see how they worked it all out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I finished Jenna Landry’s story only to dive into another Strom book. In WAITING FOR YOU, Jake Landry has returned from Afghanistan after four tours of military duty. He’s a strong man, trying to move forward in his life, but he suffers from PTSD. This prevents him from reconnecting with his family. He rejects his feelings toward Erin, the girl-next-door he’d left behind, determined not to ruin her innocence with his jaded perspective and numb heart. He leaves town after one incredible night with Erin, only to return six months later to learn the encounter had lasting consequences. I cried twice while reading this book; that’s how invested I became in Jake and Erin’s story.

The last of Abigail Strom’s books I’ve read is THE MILLIONAIRE’S WISH. This happens to be the first in the Landry trilogy and was published as a Silhouette Special Edition. I was quickly drawn into Allison and Rick’s lives. Allison is the oldest Landry sibling, and completely turned off to men after a violent ending to her first relationship back in high school. Her youngest sister died of cancer, and Allison has dedicated her adult life to her non-profit foundation helping families affected by the disease. She needs Rick’s money to help keep her dreams alive. He agrees, but on one condition. That condition forces the two to face their personal issues. Eventually, they realize they are crazy in love with each other and are ready to move forward as a couple. This story was satifying overall and answered all my story questions (with inclusion of an epilogue), yet the ending felt a bit rushed compared to the other two.

Abigail’s no-nonsense prose allows the reader to focus on the characters and their journey to their happily-ever-after. Her voice makes for a quick, seamless read. I would love for her to weave in a few more setting details in future novels, especially if she writes another trilogy. Stories where the community essentially becomes another character and part of the plot, as in Jodi Thomas’ HARMONY series, may add even more depth to an already well-crafted book. Then again, that’s just my opinion.

In Strom’s Landry trilogy, the emotional and sexual tension is her forte. CROSS MY HEART has the steamiest and greatest number of detailed, yet tasteful romantic scenes, and WAITING FOR YOU has sex scenes that are not only hot, but incredibly emotional.

In a nutshell, Abigail Strom writes a sweet, sexy, and satisfying read.

My Reading Spot

You deserve a Margarita Moment. Why not sink into your favorite chair and get lost in a story? What will you be reading?

The Angst before the HEA

Welcome to my inaugural Wednesday’s Romance Writer post. Although this day’s blog will focus on writing topics, I’m hopeful it will often appeal to readers, too. I’ll strive to keep this post short, since my goal is for it to be a starting point for literary discussions. Thanks for joining me and let me know what you think.

Happily married to my best friend many years now, I have to dig deep to remember the uncertainty of new love, or unrequited love, or betrayed love. Music helps me to reconnect to these various types of angts my hero or heroine may experience at the crisis point in the story–where all seems lost.

Adele’s award-winning song, SOMEONE LIKE YOU, draws me in. I feel her pain, and it becomes my own.

Listening to this song, I begin to imagine “What if.” What if my husband weren’t mine? What if he fell out of love with me and we parted ways? What if he then found someone new, someone to share a new beginning, leaving me behind to start over–alone? That’s when I sit down at my laptop and click away, the tears streaming down my face, feeling my character’s pain as my own. Exhausting? Yes, but I believe it makes a difference in the quality of my writing. The emotions are authentic, the character’s actions and dialogue match the depth of his/her despair.

Writers, what resources do you use to create authentic character responses at the crisis point in your story?  

Readers, which romance author(s) do you feel write the best heartwrenching crises, and why?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,182 other followers

%d bloggers like this: