Tuesday, January 5, 2021
When an award-winning pastry chef marries a Sicilian-born restaurateur in a whirlwind romance she thinks she has it all...until he refuses to introduce her to his family.
Monique grew up on a plantation on the beautiful island of Barbados, where her childhood was all about exploring and letting her imagination run free. She moved to the UK as a teen and soon fell in love at first sight with her amazing, strong-silent-type husband. They have four beautiful children and four incredible grandchildren.
Monique writes sweet ‘n’ spicy romance, and when she isn’t working on the next novel or movie script, she can be found spending time with hubby and family, armchair travelling, creating recipes, reading about health and nutrition, or working on her spiritual growth. She enjoys going for walks, gardening, or simply crazy-dancing around the house.
About MATT'S PREGNANT RUNAWAY WIFE
This might be the biggest risk of her life.
When her whirlwind romance with gorgeous Sicilian-born restaurateur Matteo Giordano culminates in marriage, award-winning pastry chef Sabrina Newton-Giordano thinks she has it all...until Matt refuses to introduce her to his family. Sabrina desires their baby to have the same love she knew from her grandparents, but Matt’s outright rejection of his family could result in their baby never knowing his or her paternal grandparents, something Sabrina will not accept. Until that is, she hits on the perfect solution—run away to Sicily to meet the in-laws!
Matt wants only one thing—to keep his wife and unborn child safe. For a man intent on never allowing anything to stand in his way, it should be an easy task. But Matt hasn’t bargained on how stubborn his irresistible, runaway wife can be. Despite his stern objections, she’s determined to form a relationship with his family. He knows, from past experience, they’d never accept her or the baby. Now Matt is torn between the urgent need to protect his wife and fear of causing her undue stress in her pregnancy.
She kept him on his toes, he’d give her that. From the moment he met her he’d known she was unique to any other woman. The first hint was when he’d arrived unexpectedly to check on his London restaurant. Everyone, except Sabrina, had nervously tripped over themselves in his presence. She’d simply continued to work as though his arrival was as insignificant as a dust mote drifting past her head. The second hint had knocked him the moment she glanced up and locked eyes with his. Something he’d never experienced before had happened. His body had responded to the instant connection in a way that had been shocking and potent. He’d decided right then to make her his. Even then, she hadn’t made it easy for him. She’d resisted their attraction, had flat-out refused to have drinks, dinner, or—her words—anything else with him. To say that she’d become a challenge he’d fixated on was to understate the level of his attraction for Sabrina.
Then one day, after weeks of him putting his best moves on her and about to admit defeat, a delivery arrived at his office. It was a beautifully presented slice of his favourite dessert along with a note that read: if you want more, come and get it! He was pretty sure the soles of his handmade Italian shoes left scorch marks on his office rug in his haste to get to Sabrina. The rest had been white-hot sizzling sexy, whirlwind, and incredible. And now here he was, fighting to keep his marriage from falling apart only after eleven-and-a-half months of wedded bliss.
Matt washed his hands at the kitchen sink, then rummaged in the under counter fridge.
He chuckled. “Surprise, surprise, nothing but dessert and fruit.”
Yep, one thing he could be sure of was that he’d always find some sort of dessert in their fridge at home, thanks to Sabrina’s never-ending effort to create new and exciting after-dinner treats. And, oh look, she had his favourite dessert sitting in a small yellow and white cake caddy, as though she’d somehow been expecting him. When he grabbed the container his gaze landed on the four red apples in a bowl on the shelf below, so he snagged one of those, too.
Connect with Monique
Monday, December 21, 2020
Happy winter solstice! Kylah McKinley, the heroine of my time travel romance thriller DARK BREW is a Druid. In the northern hemisphere, the Winter Solstice takes place today--Earth's northern hemisphere is tilted at its furthest point away from the Sun.
The Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, resulting in the shortest day and longest night.
According to Druid tradition, at the winter solstice, people in the village would bring a wooden log to the central fire, so everyone could take part in the celebrations. So the modern chocolate yule log might have its roots in more ancient traditions.
Who are the Druids?
Many people celebrate the Winter Solstice--the mid-winter sunrise and sunset-- coming to Stonehenge. Some people come from far away. However, it is the Druids, a group of Celtic pagans, who particularly celebrate the day when the Sun returns from its furthest point.
The Druids have celebrated the return of the Sun for centuries. Their celebrations bring awe and mystery to others who gather at Stonehenge for the Winter Solstice as well.
English writer John Aubrey wrote in
the 17th century about the probability that stone circles, such as Stonehenge,
were Temples of the Druids. He called his text on stone circles the Templa
Druidum. The first Druids were pre-Celtic inhabitants of Britain.
Druids, who value peace, nature, and harmony, make a pilgrimage twice a year to gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the Summer and Winter Solstices. Druids are a group of Celtic pagans who have adopted the historical site as part of their history.
The great prehistoric tomb at New Grange in Ireland and the great cairn at Maes Howe in Orkney are also orientated on the Winter Solstice and they, too, receive Druids for the mid-winter celebrations.
DARK BREW is in print, on Kindle, and on audio with the expressive Nina Price, who rocks an Irish brogue.
Monday, December 7, 2020
A Tradition of Christmas Past: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe, and My Italian Heroine, Based on my Great Grandmother
My great grandmother (Grandma to everyone) was the matriarch of the family, the mother of my grandfather. “Josie Red” as she was known in downtown Jersey City was way ahead of her time, as a bootlegger during Prohibition, a real estate tycoon, a small-time loan shark, and according to legend, Mayor Hague’s mistress.
Every Christmas Eve, her daughter, my great aunt Lucretia, a gourmet cook, invited everyone to her basement for an Italian feast. Grandma’s four children were grown with children and grandchildren of their own. Of course this necessitated a ‘kiddie table’ at which I sat until I was tall enough to sit with the grown-ups. Aunt Lucretia always made two types of spaghetti sauce—regular marinara sauce and aglio e olio—but what I remember is it always contained clam sauce, which I wouldn’t touch, so I went for the plain and safe marinara. Her finished basement had a small kitchen so she was able to do all the cooking right there. Kiddies weren’t allowed to, but several adults helped her carry the steaming plates to the long tables set up and covered with holiday-themed tablecloths. She served all the traditional Italian dishes—after the pasta came the ham, then the fruit and nuts, and of course, an array of desserts, always including her famous struffoli (honey balls) and Italian rum cake. My Uncle Eddie tended bar at the other end of the room.
After dinner, Santa always showed up. My cousin Mike’s father played the part very convincingly—the kiddies scrambled onto his lap for their chance to gush about how good they behaved all year and how deserving they were of his visit later that night to surround their Christmas trees with presents to be torn open the next morning. Someone always had a home movie camera to capture these special moments on film. I remember the lights always blazing like the noonday sun when the camera started rolling.
After leaving the party, I always went to Midnight Mass with my friends and someone always threw a party after that.
Christmas Eves in the basement ended after Grandma left us, but the memories live on!
Vita Caputo, the heroine of my 1894 New York City romance FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, is based on my great grandmother. It’s now on audio with the expressive animated New York native Nina Price.
Recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
One pound uncooked spaghetti
6 cloves minced garlic
½ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a pasta bowl.
- Combine garlic and olive oil in a cold skillet. Cook over medium heat to slowly toast garlic, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low when olive oil begins to bubble. Cook and stir until garlic is golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Stir red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt into the pasta. Pour in olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle on Italian parsley and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; stir until combined.
- Serve pasta topped with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Alicia has been my guest many times, and for Friday the 13th, she and twelve other authors (13 total, get it? 😊) each wrote a spooky, suspenseful story in the ‘A Friday the 13th Story’ series. They are stand-alone but have recurring threads and they were all released on Friday, November 13th.
Alicia's contribution to the series is titled Blood and Breakfast. Check it out below. And be sure to check out her contest where you can win an Amazon gift card!
Click here for details. (Contest ends Dec 15, 2020)
I was plotting my story and trying to figure out why a normal family man would suddenly snap and murder his family. I realized that hallucinations could cause people to do crazy things, so I researched what could make people hallucinate. I discovered that the plant, jimson weed, can cause serious hallucinations. I also wanted to incorporate some kind of an authentic local legend in my story, so I researched legends in various states and came across the Devil’s Footrock in Rhode Island. I was able to mesh the two–jimson weed and the Devil’s Footrock–to come up with how the husband/father in my story lost his mind and killed his family. It’s so much fun when ideas click and make a story come together. Here’s a photo of Devil’s Foot Rock:
About BLOOD AND BREAKFAST
Determined to boost the sagging ratings of her internet radio show, “A Dark Place,” murder junkie Sasha Gillette checks into the Talley House Bed and Breakfast in North Kingston, Rhode Island. She and her co-host plan to broadcast an episode about the murders that took place there thirteen years earlier on a Friday the 13th, when a man butchered his entire family.
Not long after Sasha arrives, the other guests begin to disappear. Has a killer from the past resurfaced or is there a copycat on the loose?
One of the lone survivors, Sasha finds herself trapped with a sadistic killer and, suddenly, murder isn’t as much fun as she thought.
“I’m going to look for her. It’s not okay that she’s been gone for hours when she said she’d be back in thirty minutes. Do you know where she was taking her walk?”
“I-in the woods.”
“Well, of course she was,” I muttered. “Agnes, do you have a flashlight I can borrow? And maybe something I can use for a weapon?”
Agnes nodded. “I’ll get you a flashlight. I have a hammer.”
Dorset rose as well. “I’ll go with you.” He cut his gaze to Bradley, but the dufus just sat there without volunteering to help. “Nothing, old chap? Not going to offer to come along?”
“I should stay here in case she comes back,” Bradley murmured but he didn’t look at them. Was he afraid…or feeling guilty?
I shivered when we stepped outside, drawing my hoodie tighter around my body. The nearly half full moon hovered in the cloudy sky behind the branches of a Tulip tree. Lightning flashed, illuminating the back yard. The icy air held the scent of rain. “We need to hurry,” I told Dorset. “It looks like it might storm.”
He nodded. “I’d say let’s split up to cover more ground, but with one flashlight and hammer, and with the odd happenings lately, maybe we should stick together.”
“Agreed.” My teeth chattered, though it wasn’t all that cold.
We walked along the wood line, shouting for Macy, shining the flashlight between the trees. Nothing. As if by mutual agreement, we entered the woods. I shuddered, not only concerned about a potential maniac, but also leery of whatever creatures might be scurrying around at my feet. I was a city girl and didn’t even own a pet. I was not okay with encountering an animal, of any kind.
We searched for another half hour with no sign of Macy. We were deep into the woods when the sky opened up and doused us with buckets of rain. Thunder rumbled and more lightning flashed. We gave up and hurried back to the house.
The others were waiting for us.
“Anything?” Bradley asked, his voice high-pitched with anxiety. He seemed much more concerned about Macy than he had been about his wife.
“Not a sign,” I said. “We need to call the police.”
“I did.” Agnes was seated in the forest green wing chair in the corner of the library. “They took the information but said she’s an adult and can leave any time she wants.” She rose. “We waited dinner for you. Let’s eat.”
A pall hung over the room as we ate in silence, the air thick with fear and confusion.
Afterward, I excused myself and headed upstairs, anxiety weighing on me. I had an overwhelming feeling that I wouldn’t sleep a wink. Nor would anyone else.
Links to Evil by Rolynn Anderson
Till Death by Maureen Bonatch
Blood and Breakfast by Alicia Dean
Retribution by D.J. FitzSimons
Shattered Reflections by Tamrie Foxtail
A Deadly Game by Jannine Gallant
Dead to Rights by Margo Hoornstra
In the Still of the Night by Callie Hutton
Glimpse, the Dinner Guest by Stephen B. King
Scorned by Anna Kittrell
Vanity Kills by Dianne McCartney
Fatal Legacy by Krysta Scott
Azrael’s Chosen by Leah St. James
Friday, November 20, 2020
November 22, 1963, a day that changed America forever. Who killed President Kennedy?
But it was my grandmother who
got me interested in the biggest mystery since 'who killed the princes in the
Tower?' (I'm a Ricardian; that's for another post). She got me embroiled
right along with her.
She listened to all the radio talk shows (those who lived in the New York area might remember Long John Nebel, on WOR, WNBC, and WMCA, all on AM radio (FM was really 'out there' at that time).
She recorded all the radio talk shows. She bought whatever books came out over the years, along with the Warren Commission Report, which I couldn't lift at the time, it was so heavy. But my interest never waned in the 51 years that followed.
In 2000, I began the third book of my New York Saga, set in 1963. The heroine is Vikki McGlory Ward, daughter of Billy McGlory, hero of the second book, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, set during Prohibition. This was my opportunity to write a novel showcasing all my current theories, and continue the saga. It took a minimum of research, since I remember all the 60's brands, (Bosco, Yum Berry, Mr. Bubble...), the fashions, the songs, and I even included a scene set on that unforgettable night when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 9, 1964.
About THE END OF CAMELOT (in print, on Kindle, and now on audio with the expressive animated Nina Price)
The third in the New York Saga, The End of Camelot centers on Billy McGlory’s daughter Vikki, whose husband is murdered trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Vikki uses her detective skills to trace the conspiracy, from New York to New Orleans to Dallas, and at the same time, tricks her husband’s murderer into a confession. A romance with her bodyguard makes her life complete.
November 22, 1963: The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.
Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki vows to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband. With the help of her father and godfather, she sets out to uncover the truth.
Aldobrandi Po , the bodyguard hired to protect Vikki, falls in love with her almost as soon as he sets eyes on her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they ever hope to find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?
It was New Year’s Eve, they were alone, and he was harmless. So far. So she took the necessary two paces over to him and placed the honey ball between his custom-made choppers.
He closed his eyes, and she watched him savoring the sweetness. She didn’t dare say another word as she ran her index finger over a glob of cream on the cannoli plate, raised it to her lips and licked. “Mmmm,” she voiced, wishing she hadn’t.
Their eyes met and locked. Faster than lightning, they came together like magnets. Their lips met, sweet and sticky and hot. She didn’t want him to stop, but her inner voice screamed how wrong it was—It’s forbidden!—echoing the nuns in Saint Gustina’s. She shooed it away like an annoying fly. Leave me alone, I’m not a kid anymore. Her arms circled his neck, and his hands slid down to the curve of her back. Dare she move in closer, pelvis to pelvis, an unthinkable act three seconds ago? Her body was betraying her, betraying Jack, taking on a will of its own as she crushed herself to him. The kiss intensified. She tasted cannoli, and her fogged mind told her he’d been sampling them all day. She breathed in his cologne, so foreign it repelled her, so new it aroused her even further. Her tiara slipped off her head. She caught it just as he pulled away.
He held her at arm’s length as in a tango. “Oh, cara mia,” he growled—and if he said another word in Italian, she knew she’d explode. A passion long dormant stirred inside her.
My favorite passage from the book:
Billy came down the stairs for a nightcap and glanced into the living room. He noticed the glow in the fireplace, Vikki’s eyeglasses and the anisette bottle on the table. The couch faced the other way, but nobody was sitting on it. “Where’d they go?” Then he realized they hadn’t gone anywhere—and they were on the couch, but not sitting. Before he got out of their way, he placed a long-playing record on the phonograph. Jackie Gleason’s “For Lovers Only.”
Friday, November 13, 2020
I met Gwendolyn through the Aaron Burr Association, which I joined when researching my biographical novel of Burr's last wife Eliza Jumel. She's a true Renaissance woman.
Gwendolyn has been writing on law and politics for twenty years. She became an investigative reporter and legal commentator (sub nom Jennifer Van Bergen) for various online news outlets after 9/11 and has published two books prior to MALICE: THOMAS JEFFERSON'S CONSPIRACY TO DESTROY AARON BURR as well as several scholarly law journal pieces.
A former theatrical actress and director, singer/songwriter, poet/playwright/short story writer, Gwendolyn has also been developing a musical based on her "Malice" book (12 songs already produced), and is circulating her 3-scene, one-act short play using mostly actual words of those involved in the Jefferson conspiracy. She is presently outlining a film screenplay, as well, based on the same story.
She has a law degree from Cardozo School of Law (1999) but does not practice law due to a long illness from Lyme disease, contracted in 1992. She also has a Master of Science in Int'l Education (2009) and 30 credits towards an LL.M. in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School (earned in 2011). She taught Archetypes for Writers for ten years (1993-2003) at the New School University in NYC and taught law at the Anglo-American University in Prague (2009). See her profile on Facebook.