Allan McKinney here. You know–the hero in Kathy’s latest release BOUND BY A CHILD. :)
I’m in desperate need of some help. Seriously, it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday and I need a gift that will knock Jessi’s socks off. I think you should know that she finds big romantic gestures too grand and always says I’m showing off if I offer to fly her to Paris.
I know I need more than red roses and expensive chocolates. I got some help last week on Twitter and have booked us a nice spa weekend. But I still need a gift.
What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift/surprise you ever received? What’s the worst so I know what to avoid?
Kathy will be giving away an electronic copy of Bound By A Child to three randomly chosen blog participants today. Please, help me. Jessi will never let me live it down if I screw up our first Valentine’s Day together.
My mom died when I was in my early 20s. She and my dad had been married for nearly 27 years. My father, who was young for a widower, was bereft. We all were, but while my brother and I had our lives ahead of us, my dad had lost his best friend, his partner and soulmate. Never one to give up, about a year later, he started going to a support group for widows and widowers. Little did he know when he joined, that group would not only help him deal with his unspeakable grief, it would prepare him to love again and lead him to the next love of his life.
The woman who would eventually become his second wife (and I must add that I couldn’t have hand-picked a better stepmom) was in that same group. She’d recently lost her husband of decades and had turned to the “Rebounders” for help, too. It was so beautiful to watch two brokenhearted people become whole again and take a second chance at love. While neither could “replace” the other’s first spouse (or my natural mother or my step-siblings’ natural father), our families became whole again, too.
Their story of the healing power of love was the spark for my new book CELEBRATION’S FAMILY. My hero, Dr. Liam Thayer, lost his wife in a tragic accident. While my heroine, Kate Macintyre had never married, she’d still experienced more than her share of personal loss. Just when it seemed like life was at its darkest, they met and love lit the way to a brighter future together.
Just to be clear, my stepmom never goaded my dad into participating in a bachelor auction as Kate persuades Liam (Thank God! I must admit I probably wouldn’t have been as gung-ho about the idea as Liam’s little daughters are in the book. Come on, guys, this is my dad were talking about!). But the healing power of love is at the heart of both CELEBRATION’S FAMILY and my parents’ story. I hope it’s something we can all count on in our darkest hour.
Do you have your own “power of love” story? Or can you think of a movie or book that celebrates healing love? Or just tell me what you think of how they depicted Liam on the cover. Isn’t he gorgeous?! I’ll give away a copy of CELEBRATION’S FAMILY to TWO people who comment.
RT Book Reviews gave CELEBRATION’S FAMILY 4 stars and said, “Thompson’s broken, heartwarming couple are engrossing as they find love after tragedy in this terrific installment in the Celebrations miniseries. Supporting characters like the chocolitier /matchmaker will charm, and the doctor’s twin girls add the perfect “aww!” factor.”
Here’s a quick look at CELEBRATION’S FAMILY’S first scene (Q&A and contest follow):
A bachelor auction?
Dr. Liam Thayer waited for Cullen Dunlevy, Celebration Memorial’s chief of staff, to crack a smile, or indicate he and the pretty blonde in the business suit at his side were delivering a bad joke to lighten up the impromptu staff meeting.
Please. He could use a little levity to jolt him out of his bad mood. It had been one of those mornings. The twins, Amanda and Calee, hadn’t wanted to get out of bed. Five minutes before they were supposed to walk out the door, Amanda remembered that she was supposed to bring cupcakes for an after-school club meeting.
To spur the girls along, he’d said, if they left on time, they could stop at the grocery store on the way. But then the dog got out, running several victory laps around the neighborhood, before Liam had been able to wrangle, harness and deliver him home.
They didn’t have time to stop for cupcakes, and by the time he’d deposited the girls at Celebration Middle School, they were all out of sorts. Well, he and Amanda were. Not Calee, who lived in her own little world of sugar-plum fairies and nutcracker princes. As long as Calee was dancing, the world was a beautiful place. She was so much like her mother, who had also been a ballerina, before she’d given it all up to marry Liam and start a family.
He and Amanda, on the other hand, seemed to be cast from the same mold. This morning he’d left her with a promise that their housekeeper, Rosalinda, would leave a dozen cupcakes at the school’s front desk in time for this afternoon’s club meeting—which Amanda would have to cut short because she and her sister couldn’t be late for their dance class.
Amanda had been dubious and a little surly. She hadn’t wanted to go to dance class today.
“Why can’t Rosie take Calee while I stay at the club meeting? Then Rosie can come back and get me. Or better yet, why can’t I skip dance altogether?”
“Because you have a commitment, and Rosie doesn’t need to be running herself ragged to accommodate you. She’s already going out of her way to make sure you get the cupcakes.”
It had only made matters worse when Liam had snapped, “Next time maybe you’ll remember to tell me these things before we’re walking out the door.”
He shouldn’t have said it. Not like that, dammit. Even if it was true and a lesson she needed to learn. Now, as he sat there in the conference room trying to change gears from dad mode to doctor, he couldn’t get the image of Amanda’s sad face out of his head.
At that moment he missed his wife, Joy, so much it almost leveled him. She’d always taken care of things like cupcakes, permission slips and new ballet shoes. She’d had an uncanny ability to almost read their daughters’ minds or, on the off chance when they did end up in a bind—like they had this morning—she’d always been able to pull a rabbit out of her hat and make things work.
Liam didn’t know how she’d managed it. She had been perfect like that. Tiny, intuitive and good-natured, Joy had always been all about her family.
A series of sickening flashbacks transported Liam to that night when the cop had stood on their front porch and asked, “Is this the residence of Joy Thayer?” He’d told Liam that there’d been an accident but wouldn’t give him much information, just asked if he would come to the hospital. When he’d identified his wife’s body, his life and the lives of their daughters had shattered into a million irreparable pieces.
Liam scrubbed a hand over his eyes, trying to erase the memory. It had been two years. When would life without Joy get easier? When would the numbness give way to the manageable ache that the grief counselor had promised would come in time? Maybe never. Because part of his soul had died right along with his wife that night. The part that lived and laughed and felt.
Now his daughters kept him going. Because life didn’t stop to mourn. Hell, it didn’t even slow down to regroup. It kept marching forward, and, if you didn’t get on your feet fast, it would drag you right along behind it.
He refocused, irritated that he had to waste time this morning listening to the chief and this woman rattle on about…bachelor auctions? For God’s sake.
This had to be a joke.
But a sinking feeling warned him not to bank on Dunlevy delivering the punch line. Especially when his boss glanced over at the blonde and uncharacteristic warmth drew up the edges of his mouth.
“This is Kate Macintyre of the Macintyre Family Foundation,” said Dunlevy. “She and her staff have been working tirelessly to raise money for the new pediatric surgical wing here at Celebration Memorial Hospital. I’ll turn the meeting over to her and let her tell you more.”
The new surgical wing—Joy had been excited about it. In fact she’d been one of the first volunteers to organize a kick-starter fund-raiser.
“Good morning,” said the blonde.
What was her name again?
“Thank you, Dr. Dunlevy. I appreciate you letting me attend your meeting today. Even more I am grateful that each of you has agreed to help raise money for the final leg of funding for this very special project. This pediatric wing is extremely near and dear to my family and me. I appreciate you all taking an active role in making it a reality.”
Near and dear to her family? Liam glanced at her left hand. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Reflexively his thumb found the back of the band he still wore. It was the touchstone that kept him grounded, and reminded him of what was and always would be important in life. Family.
The blonde smiled at Liam’s colleague, Charlie Benton, an internist, who was seated to her left. She held out a stack of pamphlets. “Would you mind taking one of these and passing them around, please?”
Eagerly Charlie obeyed.
Great. Judging by the look on his coworker’s face, Liam would bet, if she’d asked Charlie to run out to fetch her a bagel and a cappuccino, he would’ve fallen all over himself to oblige. Liam glanced around at the other men in the room. They all seemed transfixed, too. Apparently Liam was the only one immune to a pretty face and a great pair of legs.
“For the past three years, the Macintyre Family Foundation has partnered with the hospital to raise money to build a much-needed pediatric surgical wing,” she said. “During this time we’ve been diligently working with the hospital’s Department of Charitable Giving. They’ve been amazing. We only need 5 percent more to reach our two-million-dollar goal.
“That’s why we were delighted when Dr. Dunlevy agreed to the idea of giving you all, the doctors of Celebration Memorial, the opportunity to play a key role in raising part of the remaining funds. When I learned that I’d be working with seven single male doctors, I thought, what was the chance of that?”
Her blue eyes sparkled as she looked from one face to the next, radiating enthusiasm and sincerity. She was doing a credible job.
“With seven eligible men, it only seemed natural to hold a bachelor auction. So, everyone, please save the date—one week from Saturday—for our first-ever In Celebration of Bachelors auction.”
Liam shifted in his seat, resisting the urge to excuse himself. This bachelor auction was not a joke, but there was no way in hell that he was going to subject himself to the humiliation of being sold off to the highest bidder. Even if the shenanigan would raise money for a good cause.
As a pediatric hospitalist and a single father to two teenagers, he didn’t have enough time to devote to his daughters on a good day. He certainly didn’t want to waste a night going out on a date with a woman who’d bid on him like a steer in a cattle sale. He might have been providing all the necessities, but he hadn’t been able to give his children as much of himself as he wished he could. Not like his wife, who had always been there for them emotionally.
And, he had to admit, at the root of everything, participating in something like this felt disrespectful to Joy. Even if she was gone, it didn’t mean he felt any less married. Certainly not single.
“Is something wrong, Dr. Thayer?” Cullen asked. “You look like you smell something.”
Liam clicked his ink pen. He wanted to say, There’s nothing like the stench of a bad idea first thing in the morning. But one glance at Kate Macintyre’s hopeful expression—Kate Macintyre, that was her name—and he was weighing his words. “Is this bachelor auction idea a done deal? Do we have any other options?”
Q: CELEBRATION’S FAMILY has been getting some nice reviews!
Nancy Robards Thompson: I’m so grateful that it has been well received! RT Book Reviews Magazine gave it four stars and said, “Thompson’s broken, heartwarming couple are engrossing as they find love after tragedy in this terrific installment in the Celebrations miniseries. Supporting characters like the chocolatier/matchmaker will charm, and the doctor’s twin girls add the perfect “aww!” factor.”
Q: That’s great news! Where did you get the idea for CELEBRATION’S FAMILY?
NRT: Liam and Kate’s story is the fifth book in the Celebration’s, Inc. series. My heroine, Kate Macintyre, has been featured in a couple of other books in the series and it was high time she found her soulmate. I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of a bachelor auction. What could be more fun than an auction full of eligible doctor bachelors?
Q: Tell us about the hero of the book? Why will we fall in love with him?
NRT: Dr. Liam Thayer believes true love only happens once in a lifetime. He fell in love with and married his high school sweetheart. They had two perfect decades together before she died in a tragic accident. The loss turned life upside down for Liam and his thirteen-year-old twins.
Q: Tell us about the heroine. Why is she the absolute perfect woman for the hero?
NRT: Kate Macintyre would like to believe in true love and happily ever after, but she’s never experienced anything remotely like it. Well, until she falls in love with the grieving Dr. Thayer and his adorable daughters.
Q: What life-lesson do your Hero and Heroine have to learn before they can find their happily-ever-after?
NRT: Liam believes that true love happens only once in a lifetime and Kate has never been in love. To reach their happily ever after, Liam has to believe that looking to the future doesn’t mean he has to forget about or devalue his first marriage. Kate has to allow herself to be vulnerable and open to love. Together, as they become a family, they heal each others’ wounds and become whole again.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write?
NRT: That’s a toss-up between two scenes: the bachelor auction, because, of course, Kate’s seemingly foolproof plan to get Liam off the hook by placing the winning bid for the date with Liam goes absolutely awry; and the Doctor’s Ball, which takes place in the ballroom of a swanky Dallas hotel. I love writing scenes like the Doctor’s Ball because they’re so glamorous and romantic.
Q: Is there an underlying theme to the story?
NRT: CELEBRATION’S FAMILY is about the bond of family and second chances at love. Those are powerful themes to which so many of us can relate, and that’s why I believe readers will enjoy this book.
Now, I have a question for you: What themes do you like to read about? Family? Love at first sight? Friends to lovers? Reunion stories? In “celebration” of her new release, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who posts. Check back on Sunday when I post the winner’s name.
This is Nancy’s eighteenth book for Harlequin and the fifth book in her Celebrations, Inc. mini-series. For more information please check out her website NancyRobardsThompson.com or connect with her on Facebook (Nancy Robards Thompson Author) and Twitter @NRTWrites.
LOL…no, not those facts! But now that I have your attention…
I recently finished the fourth book in my Bell River Ranch series, and the heroine, who is a gifted massage therapist, got me thinking about talent.
Everyone has a talent, thank goodness. But we all also have weak spots…things we’d love to be good at, but just aren’t.
For instance, I can’t sing.
My sweet mother-in-law, a great believer in positive thinking, warned me never to say anything negative like that about myself. But I’m a great believer in facing the truth, and the truth is…wow. I really can’t sing.
This doesn’t make me feel like a failure. It doesn’t even keep me from singing with mad abandon—whenever I’m alone. Not being able to carry a tune is simply the luck of the draw. It’s not even as annoying as some of my other DNA glitches, like fine, straight hair and 20/400 vision.
Besides, I’ve been aware of the singing problem since I was four, because that’s when I met my best friend, Celie. Celie has a beautiful voice. Right away I realized we weren’t hitting the same notes when we sang along to our favorite songs. Hers were the actual melody. Mine were sort of… free-form, impressionistic noise.
Kudos to her for never pointing that out or making me feel crummy about it.
In fact, the first time she ever mentioned the situation was quite by accident, when we were both grown and married with kids. Miraculously, both my children inherited their father’s lovely, accurate voice. One day, when Girlchild was about six, Celie heard her singing a silly Irish song called “Harrigan,” one of our childhood favorites.
“Awww, who taught you that song?” Celie asked fondly.
Girlchild smiled. “My mom.”
“Oh, yeah?” Celie looked perplexed. “But…who taught you the tune?”
And just in case I needed a refresher course in Reality, I got one the other night, right before Halloween. We had an awesome spider ready to hang by the front door. It was sound activated to descend ominously whenever a squealing trick-or-treater arrived. Unfortunately, only a particular high-pitched, horrible shriek could set it off. His Highness and I had thoroughly and hilariously tested that.
For the time being, though, Big Spider lay quietly on the kitchen island every day, watching us while we made sandwiches and took our vitamins. But then…one night, when I came in from my walk with my earbuds still in, still singing merrily along with Fun about how young we are tonight, guess what?
Yep. Big Spider went instantly into action, his fishing line extending with a panicked mechanical creak. He crawled halfway across the island before he ran out of line—and he probably thought that wasn’t nearly far enough!
So, there you go. Case closed. But hey, even if a career in opera is out for me, maybe I can help you get rid of your household pests.
How about you? Is there some talent you wish you had…but simply don’t? Does it bother you?
My author copies of my December Superromance, THE RANCH SHE LEFT BEHIND, have arrived, and I’ll send a free book to one random poster today!
It all started with a house. Not just any house, a mansion in Grosvenor Square. During the Regency, Grosvenor Square was home to the fabulously wealthy and titled, so what better place to throw a party? Of course, that’s only the beginning of the story. Fellow JQ Vanessa Kelly is here with me to chat more about how our holiday anthology, A Grosvenor Square Christmas, came to be.
Vanessa: I had a blast working on the antho with you ladies, too! Actually, I think the original idea to write a Christmas anthology was yours, wasn’t it? And although I have menopause memory, which basically means no memory to speak of, I recall that the four of us brainstormed settings for an anthology of connected stories. There have been a number of these holiday or Regency anthologies, but most are set in the country at a house party. That makes particular sense for a holiday story, since the haute ton tended to head off to their country estates in the winter. But some folks must have stayed in London for Christmas, and we thought it would be cool to place the action of our stories at a grand holiday party in the city. And what could be a grander setting than a mansion on Grosvenor Square, one of the premier places to reside in Mayfair?
Shana: Exactly! We wanted to do something a little different, and someone mentioned it would be fun if we wrote about an annual ball, hosted by someone whose invitations were coveted. And then Kate or Anna said we absolutely must have an eccentric butler, and Philbert was born. He actually turned in to something of a sexy secondary character.
Vanessa: Philbert started out as something of a running joke when we were brainstorming common elements. Obviously, we needed the interior of the house to remain basically the same, and the owner of No. 3 Grosvenor Square had to play a role, too. And Regency authors and readers all know how important butlers were to the smooth running of any household. How could you throw the most successful party of the year, decade after decade, without a fantastically competent butler? We did initially envision Philbert as something of an eccentric and even comic character, but when we created our hostess—the dashing Lucy Frost, the widowed Countess of Winterson—Philbert’s role began to change. We began to wonder exactly why Lucy never remarried, and it appeared that it had something to do with Philbert, who morphed from a stodgy and eccentric fellow into a tall, mysterious, and attractive man. What happens to Lucy and Philbert over the course of the four stories became part of the fun of writing these stories.
Shana: Well, in my story Philbert was initially short, but I quickly came to see the error of my ways. As you said, we wanted the interior of the house to match up in our stories. We all referred to these pictures and more for inspiration.
Another element we had to work out was our timeline. Kate and Anna wanted to write stories set technically after the Regency, in 1825 and 1830, while I wanted to set mine technically before the Regency, in 1803. You anchored us in 1818.
Since Lucy Frost is rather young in my story, set in 1803 and has aged 27 years by the time Kate wrote about her, we also needed a model who had aged publicly over time. We used Helen Mirren, who was and still is quite lovely.
Also, in contrast, I think Kate and Anna’s stories are stand-alones, but both of ours have connections to books we’ve written. But despite all these differences, we made it work!
How do Nigel Dash and Amelia Easton fit into the world of your other books?
Vanessa: Nigel Dash is a secondary character in all four books of my Stanton Family Series. He’s the typical best friend and consummate good guy, always stepping into the social breach to save the day. There isn’t an awkward moment he can’t smooth over, or a grumpy old dowager he can’t charm. My readers loved Nigel and wondered when he would get his HEA. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that. Amelia is a new character, and I think she’s just perfect for Nigel.
Shana, your story is connected to your Sons of the Revolution Series, which are wonderful books. Where does The Seduction of a Duchess fit in?
Shana: Readers were always asking me if the widowed heroes’ mother, Rowena, got her HEA. They also told me they were craving stories with older heroines. I thought this was the perfect venue to tell Rowena’s story.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that the anthology is digital only and it’s FREE on most retailers. The anthology is composed of short stories, around 10,000 words each, and we’re hoping is that those of you who haven’t read one of us featured in the anthology will read our story and give one of our longer books a try.
BN (waiting for it to publish)
Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.
Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?
1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?
1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly
Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.
1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell
At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.
1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble
Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…
You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?