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Terri Osburn headshot ImageFirst off, thank you so much to Kristan Higgins and the rest of the Jaunty Quills for the opportunity to visit today. I am honored to be in the company of such great writers and readers.

For those of you who don’t know me, which is likely most of you, I’m Terri Osburn and I write small town contemporary romance and my debut novel, MEANT TO BE, was released last month. (Book 2: UP TO THE CHALLENGE comes out in January.) This is the first in my Anchor Island Series, so today I’d like to introduce you to the lovely little island my characters call home.

Situated at the base of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, Anchor Island is a prime tourist destination. These are just a few of the fun features offered on this little speck of sand.

1) Remote location – When we think vacation, we think “A place to get away.” On Anchor, you really get away. The island is accessible by ferry only. Since my heroine, Beth, has an intense fear of riding on boats, you can imagine what this does to her. Thankfully, a hunky islander and his lovable mutt help her through the ferry-induced panic attack.

Final Cover MTB2) A Chance to Disconnect – On Anchor, there are no cell towers, and that means no cell service. This is one of the reasons Beth’s fiancé, a native of the island, prefers to live elsewhere. But her fiancé’s brother Joe, who happens to be that hunky guy from the ferry, makes Beth see all the reasons the island would be a great place to live.

3) Good Food – This is so important for a vacation spot. Dempsey’s Bar & Grill, owned by Beth’s future in-laws, is the heart and soul of the island, with its warm atmosphere and friendly staff. Not to mention the best seafood in the mid-Atlantic. When this establishment is threatened, along with the rest of the island, Beth joins the cause to save them all.

5) The Natives – The people might be the best thing about Anchor Island. There’s Lola, the dark-skinned island elder who runs the arts and crafts store. Sid, the pint-sized boat mechanic with the centerfold body and mouth of a sailor. And Will, the mysterious gypsy who serves up the shots of tequila that loosen Beth’s inhibitions, leading to one hot kiss with the absolute wrong man.

As you can probably guess, Beth would highly recommend this island. In fact, she’d give just about anything to live on Anchor happily ever after. Well, almost anything.

Early CoverWhat do you think? Could you vacation on a remote island with no cell service? Do you have a favorite vacation spot you return to year after year? Mountains, sea, or big city? One lucky commenter will receive a Kindle version of MEANT TO BE. (Open internationally until midnight tonight.) Good luck and thanks again to the Jaunty Quills!

PS: Anchor Island is completely based on Ocracoke Island, NC. If you’re still looking for a vacation destination this summer, I highly recommend checking out this area.

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Thanks so much for the opportunity to blog with the JQ’s today!

The Lady Authors—Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale—in addition to writing the popular Regency anthology At the Duke’s Wedding are uniting once again to clear up some rumors about romance writers, dukes and the availability of iPhones in the Regency era.

Fact or fiction: Romance writing is a solitary endeavor

The Lady Authors say it isn’t so. We gathered one afternoon over tea and cookies and plotted four novellas that would take place at the same house partyAtTheDukesWedding-Cover celebrating a duke’s wedding. Little ideas like “a lost wedding ring” were spun into complete stories. Then after having drunk all the tea, we proceeded to drink wine and plot some more, finding all the little threads that could be woven into one grand anthology. All I shall say is this: what happens in the stables must stay in the stables. 

Fact or Fiction: Dukes make the best heroes

In the hands of Caroline Linden, dukes make excellent heroes. But so do brooding officers with secrets, charming (but forgetful) rogues, and artistically inclined Viscounts harboring a certain lady wedding crasher. At a house party gathered for the wedding of the season, there are plenty of delicious heroes to go around.

Fact or fiction: Miss Helen Grey is the bride to be

Technically Miss Helen Grey is the bride to be. But what of her sister, Mrs. Cleopatra Barrows? Miss Henrietta Black thought she’d be a spinster forever, until that rogue Jack came along. And Miss Roseanne Lacy is expecting a proposal—but not from the man she says yes to. And you won’t believe who invited Miss Angela Cowdry to the wedding and how. Which one of these lovely ladies will marry the duke?

Fact or fiction: There were no iPhones in the Regency era

A certain Miss Cowdry can confirm that there are, indeed, iPhones in the Regency era. However, there is a deplorable lack of cell service.

How would you pass the time at a Regency house party? What mischief would you like to get up to or would you be on your best behavior?

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GayleHello! Thanks so much to the Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills for inviting me to be with you today. I’m Gayle Callen, author of historical romances (and also Emma Cane, author of contemporary romances—I get around). My newest historical, SURRENDER TO THE EARL, just came out this month. It’s about Robert, who needs to find redemption because of mistakes made during the war where men were killed, and Audrey, the blind widow of his fellow soldier, who accepts his offer of any kind of assistance—as long as he helps her escape her family who’s keeping her in seclusion. Whew, a mouthful!

But I’d rather talk to you today about our kids, the grownup kind that drift into their own lives and drift so easily away from ours. Oh, we talk/text on the phone, but when you only see them a couple times a year because they live so far away, it can be tough. The kids are having fun; it’s wonderful to see them blossom in their lives, but…I miss them. So here’s an idea to stay close: competition brackets. Yes, you heard me, just like the NCAA March MadnessSURRENDER TO THE EARL but not basketball (unless it’s basketball season, of course). I’m talking about a friendly competition over reality shows, the competitive kind: Survivor, Amazing Race, Iron Chef or whatever. This was my oldest daughter’s
brilliant idea, and boy do we have fun! It’s amazing how much you can enjoy a show when you’ve tossed $5 into a pot and you have a competitor you’re rooting for.

The show we compete over? The Bachelor/Bachelorette. My daughter has created a one-page form, with blocks for each week of the season, leading all the way up to the finals. We watched the first episode together (and in person, this year, which made it even more special), and then we spend the week filling out our brackets, due before the second show. Yes, you have to figure out the eventual winner, all from watching the first show. I’m not kidding, at one point we spent an hour or two slow-motioning through, especially the previews of the whole season, just so we could figure out which guys ReturnViscountBookshelfDesiree kissed, to see if we sensed chemistry. Turns out, she kissed them all, so it wasn’t so much of an indicator…

Here’s the fun part. Monday night rolls around, and we start texting, and even phone calling as we watch the show. There is moaning and gasping and gleeful bragging about who’s winning (this week, it’s me!). But really? I get to connect with my kids over something silly and fun and competitive. And in between, we talk about their lives and their friends and we stay close. I think that’s worth everything.

So let’s talk about ideas to stay close to our kids! How do you do it? One lucky commenter is going to win the first book of my trilogy, RETURN OF THE VISCOUNT, which came out last year. Not that you have to read the books in order, I swear… ;)

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Bromances…ahhh, bromances.  Butch and Sundance.  Batman and Robin. Holmes and Watson.   The MacKades, the Quinns.  Into threesomes?   How about Kirk, Spock and Bones.   Yep, all bromances.

Tawny Weber Author Photo croppedI love romances (which I suppose is a given, since I’m a romance writer visiting  today on a site filled with awesome romance authors, right).   The give and take, the attraction and emotional growth, and the commitment that goes into seeing a relationship from spark to flame to burning embers – that’s a major part of what makes a romance so incredible to read.

But it’s also what makes a bromance awesome.   Whether it’s a hero’s best friend, a brother, or his comrade-in-arms—that kind of relationship adds so much to the story, to showing the depths of the hero’s character and really giving us a bigger picture of who he is.  I’m just as big a fan of BFF relationships and seeing the heroine through her bestie’s view.  But there’s something extra special about those hero connections.  Maybe because guy’s don’t seem to get quite as close as gals, or because as a rule, men aren’t quite as into the sharing of emotions as women *g * but I think those friendships add so much to a story.

A SEAL's SurrenderSince it’s something I love reading, it makes it an extra pleasure for me when I find a way to bring that same element into my own books.  The friendship between the heroes in my current books, Blake Landon in A SEAL’s Seduction (2/13) and Cade Sullivan in A SEAL’s Surrender (3/13) was the starting point of these stories.  In part, because I love writing friendships for all the reason’s I already listed *g * But also because the incident that motivates both heroes emotional journeys in their stories is a shared one.  Both Blake and Cade are Navy SEALs (the titles sort of give that away, right) who, along with their best buddy Phil, have all served together since their BUDs training days.    When Phil is killed on a mission, both men face questions about their career, their lives and their commitments.

Want a peek at these guys?  Here’s a little excerpt from the opening scene of A SEAL’s Seduction.

            Cade Sullivan, Blake’s team commander and the third amigo, subtly came to attention.  With a quiet word and a brush of his hand over Mrs. Hawkins’ shoulder, he turned and strode across the lawn. 

            “Sir?”

            “I’m assigning your men leave.”

            Blake and Cade exchanged looks.  All it took was two seconds, a slight furrow of the brow and a shift of their shoulders to know both men were in perfect accord.  They didn’t want to go on leave.

            “Sir?”

            “Two weeks R&R, effective immediately.”

 A SEAL's Seduction cover           For the second time since joining the Navy—and both in the space of the last few minutes—Blake wanted to protest an order.  He didn’t want time off.  He needed distraction.  Work.  A mission.  Preferably one that included blowing up large buildings and letting loose vast amounts of ammo. 

            Fury was like a storm, brewing and stewing inside him. 

            It needed an outlet.  The shooting range would work.  Or the base gym.

            As if reading his thoughts, the Admiral inclined his head, offered a stern look and added, “You’ve just finished a tense mission, and lost one of your own.  I hope you have places off-base to stay, as I’ll be leaving word at the gate that you’re on inactive duty until September seventeenth.”

            For a second, Cade’s usual charming façade cracked, the same anger Blake was dealing with showing in the other man’s vivid green eyes.  In an instant, it disappeared and his smile—the one that lulled friend and foe alike into thinking he was a nice guy—flashed.

            “Looks like it’s time for a trip home.  My father will be thrilled.  Thank you, Sir.  I’m sure the team will be excited about the R&R.”

            You had to admire Cade’s talent at lying.  The man had a way with sincerity, that, when added to that smile, was pure gold.  At least, it was if you weren’t the one he was conning.  The truth was, the team was going to be pissed, Cade hated visiting home and his father hated having him there.  Yet the guy still smiled like he’d just been pinned with the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

            That’s why Phil had always called Cade Slick.  Blake was Boy Scout.  By the book, a goody goody, his whole life was focused on being prepared.  On being the best SEAL he could be.  And Phil?  He’d been the Joker.  The last thing he’d said before that bomb had blown him in two?  Knock knock. 

            Knock knock. 

            Jaw clenched, Blake glared at the sleek black lines of the casket. 

Now, it wouldn’t be a love story if they fixed all those problems, just the two of them over a bottle of beer and a pizza.  It takes two very special women to bring them around to not only face their loss, but to figure out where they want to go next.  But that core bromance, that friendship, does help along the way.  And, of course, it gives for some fun scenes and interaction between these two very strong, very sexy and very independent guys.

Bromances are like bad boys.  I love reading them, but I don’t have to have them in every book to make it a keeper.  But they are something that always makes me sigh and sink into the book just a little deeper.

How about you?  Are you a fan of bromances?  What are some of your favorites?

Tawny Weber has been writing sassy, sexy romances since her first Harlequin Blaze hit the shelves in 2007.  A fan of Johnny Depp, cupcakes and color coordination, she spends a lot of her time shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking and hanging out on Facebook. 

Readers can check out Tawny’s books at her website or join her Red Hot Readers Club for goodies like free reads, first chapter excerpts, recipes, insider story info and much more.  And for a limited time, she has a few open spots on her Street Team

 

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Adventures in Inspiration

I haven’t written about my Writer’s Inspiration in a long while — that is, inspiration other than my characters tapping me on the shoulders and insisting that I write their books. But that’s really more Mandate than Inspiration. (I will always bow to the will of a pair of ardent lovers. I’m easy that way.)

What I have been doing lately is “pinning” the inspirations from my latest book, How To Be a Proper Lady. Have you discovered Pinterest yet? If yes, isn’t it fun!? If not, BEWARE: THERE BE DRAGONS! Pinterest is enormously addictive and will probably eventually suck everyone on the earth into it, causing world destruction like the Transformers or something, although I didn’t actually see that movie so I don’t know if the Transformers destroyed the world after all or not, so let’s go with the Zombie Apocalypse for a comparative instead. Thus, Pinterest equals the Zombie Apocalypse.

But I digress.

My point is that although I rarely use images to inspire characters before or while I’m writing a book, sometimes after I’ve written the book an image will appear to me as though it had been intended for that book all along. These are the images I’ve been “pinning” for How To Be a Proper Lady, and I should like to share a few of them with you lovely folks today.

All dressed up as a princess, and yet Eliza Doolittle is sober, pensive… sad.

Eliza flitted in and out of my mind while I wrote Miss Viola Carlyle in How To Be a Proper Lady. Kidnapped by her smuggler father when she was a girl, Viola spent her young womanhood as a rough and tumble sailor on the sea, only to be dragged from that life and hurled back into noble society at the age of five-and-twenty. Dressed up like a princess, she is no more settled in her new persona than Eliza at the Prince of Transylvania’s ball. For Viola believes that the man she loves does not love her.

She’s wrong. Thank goodness. I won’t go into detail here; that’s all in the book. Rather, he’s all in the book.

I shall admit that it is possible I may have glanced at this shot of Rodrigo Santoro once or twice or three times perhaps four or maybe fifty after writing Captain Jin Seton, a privateer for the Royal Navy and the man who has made it his mission to bring Viola home. The troubled lines of his brow, the purposeful stride, the ocean behind him and the Exceptionally Nice Chest suited Jin’s not-entirely-English and brutally violent history.

Speaking of not-entirely-English history as an inspiration…

… the breathtakingly beautiful Caribbean islandof Trinidad, an English possession in the year I set How To Be a Proper Lady, one small part of England’s ever-expanding empire.

You see, quite simply, I am in love with the British Empire of the early nineteenth century. From the sparkling chandeliers of Mayfair ballrooms and the storm-tossed cliffs of Scotland to merchant ships laden with eastern teas and tropical verandas shaded by palm trees, the vast, rich expanse of Britain in this era fills me with excitement. Why? Because its story at this time is a story of adventure, of hoards of gold sent across seas, of men and women from near and far crossing paths, forging alliances, building the empire that was destined to be the wealthiest and most influential power the world had seen in a millennium and a half.

It was a dangerous world, a breathtaking world, a world of violence and honor, of death and discovery, of wicked avarice and profound beauty.

It gives me such wonderful chills! And it is where I like best to set my heroes and heroines on their paths toward love. For I adore adventure; I cut my baby teeth on it as I lay in my crib and my eldest sister spun me tales of knights and princesses and epic quests. The dangers, the nobility, the honor, the heartbreak and then the sheer ecstasy of these sorts of love stories never failed to set my young heart to racing. They’re still my favorite kinds of romances, especially when mingled with the rules and niceties (and handsome lords) of Regency high society. I find the contrast positively delicious. And the British Empire had all of it.

Where does that leave my proto Eliza Doolittle, my poor twice-uprooted Viola, forced to train her work callused hands to dainty parasols and delicate teacups?

Searching the horizon for a sailor, of course. And making adventuresome plans of her own to win his heart…

What is your favorite adventure-romance, whether book or film? One randomly chosen commenter today will win a signed copy of my award-winning Captured by a Rogue Lord, during the writing of which, by the way, Jin Seton first told me he wanted his own book. But he didn’t tap me on the shoulder. He just stood there, arms crossed over his Exceptionally Nice Chest, looking very serious and not a little dangerous. Who was I to deny him?

(This giveaway is open internationally through Saturday, July 9.)

For more about How To Be a Proper Lady and Katharine’s other Regency historical romances, please visit her website at http://www.KatharineAshe.com .

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