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Friday, July 3, 2015

Guest Blog: Judy Baker/Ann Sugg: July's Flower and Birthstone

Judy Baker/Anna Sugg writes historical western romances and contemporary/suspense romance. Judy lives in the beautiful western state of Utah. Though she’s a southerner at heart, she loves the surrounding mountains and the desert valleys. When not writing the stories that fill her head, she enjoys RVing with her family, stargazing through one of her many telescopes, digging in her wildflower garden, and golfing, or just swinging on the patio while plotting her next story. She’s also an avid sci-fi fan, loves coffee, sweet southern tea, and the ocean.
Since the month of July is my birth month, I did a little research on the month’s flower and gemstone that I’d like to share with you. I hope you find this interesting even if your birth month is not July. The July flower is the Delphinium, aka Larkspur, and the July gemstone is the Ruby.

Did you know it was over 130 million years ago that the first flowers graced planet Earth with beautiful colors and delightful scents? Hmm, maybe the dinosaurs like the way they tasted. Celebrating birthdays with flowers dates back to the Roman Empire times, honoring the Roman gods and adorning the altars with flowers. The Roman Goddess of flowers was Flora, a collective term used for plant life and flowers to this day.
During the Victorian era there were strong rules of etiquette when expressing affection or feelings of love, hence, the “Flower Language” evolved. Each flower was assigned its own message, and when a lover sent flowers, the beautiful posy conveyed a hidden romantic meaning, communicating in a mysterious, romantic way. Oops! I got carried away with the flower and its origin. Back to the July flower.
The delphinium (larkspur) flower resembles the shape of a dolphin’s nose, hence the name.  

The Larkspur is mentioned frequently in mythology. One such Greek legend takes place during the battle of Troy, when Achilles’ mother ordered her son’s armor to be given to the bravest warrior during the battle. When the armor was given to Ulysses, the brave warrior Ajax was so upset that he threw himself on his sword. It is said that small blue larkspurs grew where his blood hit the ground. Another Greek mythology story attached to the larkspur is the handsome Spartan prince, Hyakinthos, who was transformed into the larkspur flower by Zephyrus’ jealous anger. Even Apollo, god of war, believed the flower sacred.  If you’re into Greek mythology, there’s many more stories involving flowers.
Did you know
-          a dried larkspur placed in stables keep witches from casting spells on your animals?
-          the larkspur flowers cures ailments and are used during the Summer Solstice celebrations in England?
-          the blue dye of the larkspur flowers were used by Native Americans?
-          the larkspur flowers were used by the ancients to drive away scorpions?

The history and traditions surrounding the birth flowers, also includes gemstones.
July’s birthstone is the Ruby.

The gleaming Ruby should adorn,
All those who in July are born,
For thus they’ll be exempt and free,
From lover’s doubts and anxiety.

Interesting facts about the Ruby:
Ruby derived from the Latin word, ruber, meaning red
It’s the Birthstone for July even during ancient times and continues to this day
Deep red stones are the most valuable, out-valuing diamonds of the same size
Rubies are extremely hard, second only to diamonds
Rubies are rare, not frequently found in large carat sizes
Rubies the color of blood and fire symbolizes vitality, vigor, power, strength, love, anger, undying devotion and other passionate emotion
Rubies are graded like diamonds, by color, cut, clarity and carat weight.
Ruby is a member of the Corundum (aluminum oxide family)
In ancient times, inserting a ruby in your skin was believed to ward off evil and make you courageous in battle.
Rubies are high energy stone, opening a heart to true love.

July Birthstone video:

For those of you that celebrate your birthday in JULY, I wish you the best day during the month, and for the rest of you, remember to give someone a flower to express your affections to one you love.
Thank you RB4U for having me as your guest.

New Release: Spirit Catcher, April 8, 2015    Link
Where you can find Judy Baker


Thursday, July 2, 2015

In the month of July I really start to miss Big Water and Beaches. Being that I live in the Heartland of America, smack in the center of the U.S. of A., I can't get much more landlocked. It's this time of year that I have to either travel to the east or west coasts or resort to memories of beach and ocean visits. Having lived in Florida for nineteen years I  have a zillion hours of sun and sand soaked memories of walking the Atlantic ocean coastline .

                                        St. Augustine, Florida

My dad grew up in Massachusetts, about twenty minutes from Cape Cod. Summer visits to see grandparents and cousins always included going to the Cape, climbing the sand dunes that line the coast, splashing in the cool water, often dodging giant spools of kelp. Unlike Florida, cars aren't allowed on beaches so there's a trek from the car to the beach, which is how it should be.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts in July

Cape Cod in November
Last July my husband and I went to Virginia to see the bands of wild horses that have called Chincoteague and Assateague Islands their home for a couple centuries. I'd wanted to go there ever since I read Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague, when I was in grade school.

Chincoteague Island, Virginia

A couple years before that trip, we went to Mendocino, California. It had been twenty years since my last visit to the northern California coast and I was amazed at how little the area had changed. Even the Agate Cove Inn, the bed and breakfast inn I'd stayed in before was still there. Different owners but still the gorgeous view, cozy accommodations and great food. The Pacific coast this far north is very different from the south end, just like on the Atlantic side of the country. Darker water, a little less hospitable, especially this far north on the west coast. Rugged cliffs, patches of sand that can't really be called a beach, but so what? It's glorious. Everything about it. The sight, sound, scents. I love it all.

Mendocino, California coastline

A trip to Scotland and Wales in 2011 combined my obsession with Big Water and my love for castles when I visited the city of Caernarfon, Wales and its castle. Caenarfon Castle, in northern Wales is situated on the southern bank of the Menai Strait between north Wales and Anglesey.

 The Mensai Strait flows into Caenarfon Bay, west of the city, which flows into the Irish Sea. From atop the castle you can see the bay and imagine it stretching out into the Irish Sea. A breathtaking sight.

So when I start pining for bodies of water that are so immense their opposite shores can't be seen, I pull out my photos and my rock, seashell and sand collections (I have bowls of sand from every beach I've ever been on), add a mental soundtrack of seagulls and ospreys, and let my ocean-side memories whisk me out of the Ozarks. It doesn't cure my longings, but I'm grateful for the memories that let me travel first class, totally free, until my next visit to an ocean.   

Any ocean-side memories of your own? Have you written scenes set on a beach?

Polly posts on RB4U's blog on the second of every month. You can find out more about her and her books at her website:
Check in on Tuesdays for a new blog post every week:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Secret Ingredient to Love with @AuthorNicMorgan #Romance #RB4U

Welcome to Romance Books 4 Us everyone. I'm your tour guide for the day, Nicole Morgan and as some of you may have noticed I drop by with a new post on the first of every month and either ramble like a fool or amaze you with my intellect. LOL. Okay, yes that last one was a stretch, but...I've got you smiling now, don't I? Now that you're good and loosened up, go ahead and kick your shoes off, sit back, relax and enjoy!

The Secret Ingredient to Love... 

For the month of June, the authors of Romance Books 4 Us we have chosen the themes of the July birthstone, Ruby, the July flower, Larkspur and added to that the theme of Beach scenes/scenarios; music, movies, plays, books with beach settings. What do these things mean though, once combined together? For each of us we will probably have our own unique thoughts and ideas. And that's what I'd like to focus on for today's post. 

Ruby is thought to be the gemstone which promotes friendship and love. And if there is one thing I think we can all agree on, it is that in order to love someone completely, they must also be our friend. Only with that type of connection with another can you truly be in love. Without it, its almost like an elemental ingredient would be lost on your entire relationship. The person who you choose for your partner should be the one you turn to when you're sad, the one you turn to when you're happy and the one who makes even the most monotonous of days and tasks so much better. 

So, what's my message? It's simple... when finding "love" or even maintaining it, never forget to be a friend and keep that friendship alive. The physical attraction and connection with someone can only go so far. It is the emotional connection that keeps those home fires burning and the heart truly invested in one another. 

If you're lucky enough to find love, respect it enough to nurture it. And above all else, cherish your friend, and love them fully... ❤


Indulge in this decadent collection of Teasers and Tastes from some of today’s hottest romance authors in a variety of romance genres including Billionaires, Cowboys, Super Steamy Romance, Firefighters, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance, Mechanics, Motorcycle Clubs, Men in Uniform and Military Romance, Paranormal Romance, SciFi & Fantasy Romance, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense/Mystery, Hot SEALs, Time Travel, Vacation Romance, Vampires and more! 

and find all of my other books on any of these fine retailers: 

That's all for me this months, guys and gals. 
I'll see you here next month,

Same bat time...Same bat channel.

Nicole Morgan is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with good old-fashioned whodunit. While she's written everything from contemporary to paranormal her leading men will more than likely be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police officers, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. From her very first novel about Navy SEALs to her more recent releases you will be sure to find a few twists and turns you were not expecting.

She also has a recurring monthly column in Book & Trailer Showcase's eMagazine, is a proud member of the Romance Books 4 Us Gold Authors, as well as Sweet and Sexy Divas. 

Find out more about Nicole and her books by visiting her website, blog, Google + Page, Twitter, Facebook and her Yahoo Group, Nicole’s Think Tank.

Keep up to date with Nicole:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Rose in Bloom... #RB4U #HotBeachRomance

I love summer, don't you? This year, I got together with 14 other authors and decided that we needed to start the summer off right. We all wrote stories based on beach themes and will make them available for a limited time for 99 CENTS in a boxed set called HOT BEACH ROMACE:SAND, SUNSHINE AND SIZZLE. How awesome is that?

My contribution to the series is the first story in my Carnal Coed series, called TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE. This series came about because I wanted to write fun, quirky reads that could be finished during an afternoon at the beach. All of the books in my series focus on college-aged mena dn women who are exploring life and figuring out who they are.

I like to think of these characters as roses ready to bloom. Each one of them has huge potential, but something holds them back from being the person they were meant to be. Roses are considered beautiful and are associated with love. Likewise, each of my stories are about women who are exploring what love means and finding relationships that are meaningful to them.

In TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE, the heroine, Hannah, is a graduate student in chemistry at a local university. She is shy and quiet, with only one close friend. This friend convinces her to go to the end-of-the-year department party, which is being held at a local beach. The two Irish exchange students in her department are there, and the flirting that had been going off and on all year is suddenly kicked up a notch. Sparks fly and Hannah is faced with a decision - which man is right for her?

I don't want ot give away the ending, so I'll just say that at that beach party Hannah starts to bloom. She comes out of her quiet, introverted shell and starts to become the woman she was meant to be. Pretty neat, eh?

Summer is a great time for exploration and rediscovering your passions. Tell me your favorite summer past time in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you!

And why not let the romances in this boxed set spark some ideas? The stories have a wide range of heat levels, so I'm sure there is something there for all sorts of tastes and preferences. Check it out!

Hot Beach Romance: Sand, Sunshine and Sizzle


Buy links: 

15 contemporary romance stories by best-selling and award-winning authors. Each book has a beach setting, an irresistible love story and high sizzle factor.

ECSTASY BY THE SEA-Chris Almeida & Cecilia Aubrey – When it’s pointed out that a key point for a new marriage has been overlooked, Trevor Bauer plans the perfect honeymoon getaway down to the daintiest swatch of lace. His detail-obsessed bride won’t know what hit her when he sweeps her away for a weekend filled with pure ecstasy by the sea. . .

BURN ME-√Čirinn Brennan-Emma Clark has made a decision that will impact the rest of her life. But a chance encounter with the handsome windsurfer Kevin Nash can change a woman’s mind about a lot of things. In the end, it’ll be up to you to determine her fate.

FINDING JOY-EmKay Connor-When Landon Wells is left standing at the altar with no bride and no explanation, there’s only one logical place to find her: Hideaway Bay. Can this desperate groom convince his runaway bride to reveal her secrets and give them another chance to say I do?

KISSING DRAKE-Jenna Dales – Paige Owens’ bookshop is ready for another summer tourist season on quaint, quiet Butterfly Island. But sometimes her naughty beach books leave Paige feeling a little…lonely. When a late storm blows in a sexy, by-the-numbers, venture capitalist Drake Dorsey, she figures a one-night mini vacation is all she needs, but Drake is counting on so much more…

MADRONA SUNSET-Jami Davenport-Welcome to Madrona Island, where the main entertainment on Friday nights is a high school football game, the pace is slow, and the residents wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Meet a wounded warrior suffering from paralyzing guilt and a woman pining for her dead husband–both damaged souls craving comfort for a moment or a lifetime.

THE GOOD ENOUGH HUSBAND-Sylvie Fox-Hannah Morrison Keesling hops into her SUV and drives away from the man she’d thought was good enough. When her dog gets sick on the way, she turns to local veterinarian Ben Cooper. Stranded with a sick dog on the black sands of California’s Lost Coast things quickly heat up.

TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE-Suzanne Rock – Is the shy, straight-laced Hannah open to a three-way relationship? Two handsome Irish exchange students will have to do everything they can to convince her that two men are better than one.

THE POSSE-Tawdra Kandle-Being a young widow was never in Jude Hawthorne’s plans. After her husband’s death, the last thing she’s looking for is another chance at love. But if her husband’s best friends, the Posse, have anything to say about it, love is just what she’s going to get.

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE-Amber Lin-Dane lives for the salty breeze and a sweet wave, because that’s all he has. He lives on the streets. Then he meets Amy—smart and accomplished, she’s everything he’s not. He wants to be the sort of man who deserves her, except that means facing down his past.

LAST CALL-Alannah Lynne-For the first time in years, Sunny Black puts herself first and takes a trip on the wild side with a customer whose raw sexuality is too strong to deny. The next morning, however, she learns that in addition to rocking her world, the stranger might destroy everything and everyone she’s worked so hard to protect.

MIAMI DREAMS-Layla Wilcox-Recent widow Deena Montgomery answers a model call for a new lingerie line, thinking she is leaving a life built on lies behind her. Photographer Ben “Hottie” Hoddi wants to help her get the job, but doing so might reveal a secret in his past, and Deena has made it very clear that her new life demands transparency.

A lifetime New Englander, Suzanne married her college sweetheart and has been with him for over twenty years. Every summer she drags her husband and two daughters to Maine on a quest for the perfect lobster dinner. Every fall she can be found down in Foxboro, Massachusetts cheering on her favorite football team. In between those trips, she’s a chauffeur, a maid, a chef, an event planner, a hairdresser, a wardrobe stylist, a tutor and a sometimes masseuse. To keep her sanity, she often drinks copious amounts of coffee and stares at the blank screen of her laptop, dreaming of great adventures. Sometimes she even writes them down for others to enjoy.
Suzanne is represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency and writes mainstream romances under the pen name Ava Conway.

 Connect with Suzanne online:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Just why is June wedding month? #RB4U #MFRWauthor

I thought I’d do a little research and quickly turned up some fun info to share with everyone here. I’ve never been married, and I can’t recall a single wedding that I wrote into a book, so this really was an interesting search!

So many traditions, and they all have pretty cool origins. Here are a few of the most common ones:

Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.

Queen Victoria is credited with starting the Western world's white wedding dress trend in 1840—before then, brides simply wore their best dress regardless of colour.

The tradition of matching maids dates back to Roman times, when people believed evil spirits would attend the wedding in attempt to curse the bride and groom. Bridesmaids were required to dress exactly like the bride in order to confuse the spirits and bring luck to the marriage. (Maybe these spirits were short-sighted, or not too bright?)

On a similar note, brides traditionally wear veils because ancient Greeks and Romans believed they protected her from evil spirits.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue... This finds its origin in an Old English rhyme. Something old for continuity; something new represents optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where guests broke a loaf of bread over the bride's head for fertility's sake.

Have you ever wondered where the expression “tying the knot” came from? In many cultures—including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings—the hands of the bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple's commitment to each other and their new bond.

Backtracking to the spirit thing again. According to tradition, the groom carries the bride across the threshold to valiantly protect her from evil spirits lurking below.

June weddings: the Roman goddess Juno rules over marriage and childbirth, hence the popularity of June weddings.

The honeymoon has its roots in history and legend, too: Ancient Norse bridal couples went into hiding after the wedding, and a family member would bring them a cup of honey wine for 30 days—or one moon—which is how the term "honeymoon" originated.

Other things of note:

How did June come to be the most popular wedding month? If you dig you will discover that there are some practical notions behind this modern-day wedding trend.

Harvest: In the past, couples often chose to marry in accordance to their peak harvest time. Having a June wedding meant that a possible Summer pregnancy would still be early enough in the season that a wife could help out with manual work during that year’s harvest period. (No surprise in this thinking, is there?) It also meant that after a Spring birth, the recovered bride would be in good enough health to assist in the next year's harvest. (Always have to be planning for the work that needs to be done!)

Cleanliness: The "annual bath" – before we went in for daily bathing, it was a luxury reserved as once-a-year event that the that most of the population observed during the last part of May or beginning of June. As expected, right after their "annual bath", many couples decided to tie the knot since each person was probably their most presentable (and less fragrant) during this time. No further comment needed, is there?

Weddings: Customs and Traditions

Although engagement rings have been popular through the ages, it wasn't until Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented a diamond to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 that the tradition of offering the most enduring gem on Earth became popular. These days, the majority of brides receive diamond engagement rings.

The Time and the Place:

Ancient Greeks used pig entrails to determine the luckiest day to marry.

The Japanese traditionally looked to an ancient astrological calendar for propitious days.
In early U.S. history, Wednesday was the luckiest day for weddings. Friday was avoided as the "hangman's day."

Sunday used to be a popular wedding day; it was the one day most people were free from work. Puritans in the seventeenth century put a stop to this, believing it was improper to be festive on the Sabbath. Today, Saturdays are busiest, despite this old rhyme: Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all.

June is still the most popular month to marry, followed by August, July, May, and September. The goddess Juno was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing, so a wedding in Juno's month was considered most auspicious. The idea of June weddings also comes from the Celtic calendar. On the Cross-Quarter Day of Beltane, or May Day (May 1), young couples would pair off to court for 3 months and then be wed on the next Cross-Quarter Day (Lammas Day, August 1). Youths being impatient, the waiting period was shortened to mid-June, and the popularity of June weddings was ensured.

The Wedding Party: According to tradition, only an unmarried woman could be a maid of honor, and only the brother, best friend, or father of the groom could be the best man.

The original purpose of the bridesmaid and the best man was to aid in the capture of the bride, get her to church on time, and keep any hostile family members away! Now the bridesmaids usher the guests to their seats, the best man carries the ring, and offers a toast.

Once the flower girl's role was not simply to spread petals down the aisle but, with her shield of virginity, to protect the bride from the Devil. Today, the ring bearer can be a girl, boy, or even a dog!

For a Smooth Send-Off: Rice is the latest in a long list of fertility symbols that have been thrown at newlyweds. Over the centuries, guests have tossed cakes, grain, fruit, sweetmeats, and biscuits. Nowadays, it's common to shower the couple with rice or the more environmentally-friendly birdseed. Another idea is to toss dried rose petals.

Some great info, use it wisely. *wink*

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Guest Blog: Raven McAllan: A Rose by Any Other Name...

A rose by any other name… or take that peal of wisdom and use it wisely.

They say a rose is the flower for beauty and love. Okay, but what about when it fades and dies? Can you still say it's beautiful and lovable?

I can. I remember how it came to life, grew into itself and gave me pleasure.

Ad I do like those rose petals to use in a Regency book…you know to scent a bath and strewn on a bed.

I guess a lot of people wouldn't agree. They only see the here and now. Get rid of it. It's had its day.

(A bit like I feel after a long walk and too much chocolate)

Some will nip the bud off… others toss it altogether.

Over and done with.

But you know, I do wonder why. That rose has given us so much joy. Now it's time for it to move on.

But… think about it for a moment.

Stop, think, and yes as my mum used to say, take a second to smell the roses, and then remember, we all bloom and fade in one way or another. It happens with everything. It (or we) are created, grow, and bloom, and eventually fade and die. But something (someone) else takes over.

That’s the beautiful circle of life.

And hopefully, it is something positive that will come from it.

Yes, we all know there's not always a happy ever after, but it's worth trying, isn't it?

From the rose? A chance of a second bloom or another bud next year.

From one level of love? Another, deeper level.

That's it, a second chance.

From an oyster. If you're very lucky a pearl. Not every time and not all as perfect as the next one. Like people and roses, they differ.

But wouldn't it be boring if every pearl, every rose, and yes every person was the same.

For instance, let's start with one little part of life.

Think of the love part and add it to the beauty bit. Each one is important, but together, they make something special.

When one beauty fades, another takes its place. It's like love.

Even the happy ever after for this lifetime love.

I guess that's at the basis of our romance stories. Love, how it blooms, changes and hopefully gets stronger.

And snigger yeah, if those pesky characters are in an ornery mood, you get the opposite, and it’s a slanging, shouting, dead rose moment.

You just can't please everyone eh? Ah well, I'm still a believer in love. It evolves and changes for us?

Oh and I'm a believer in roses…and pearls… and I'm not averse to oysters either…

What do you think?

If someone steals your identity and marries a sex god and that sex god husband shows up at your door…do you get to keep him?

Jules has no memory of marrying a sex god—and no woman is that forgetful.

So when the devastatingly handsome Gray turned up on her doorstep looking for his wife and calling said wife by Jules’ name, Jules wondered briefly if she’d landed in an alternative universe. She knows she’s not his wife and so does he, but apparently someone with her name and history is. Is it a case of coincidence or did his missing wife ‘borrow’ Jules’ life?

Even though the dominant Gray sends her knickers aflame with just one look, with a missing wife in the equation, Jules knows there’s no chance of finding out what else he could achieve.

There’s only one thing to do—unravel the mystery and try to keep their hands off each other in the meantime. The first may well prove far easier than the latter.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of light bondage and BDSM.
Publisher's Note: This book was previously published elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound.

Raven lives in Scotland, along with her husband—their children having flown the nest—surrounded by beautiful scenery, which inspires a lot of the settings in her books.

She is used to sharing her life with the occasional deer, red squirrel, and lost tourist, to say nothing of the scourge of Scotland—the midge.

A lover of reading, she appreciates the history inside a book, and the chance to peek into the lives of those from years ago. Raven admits that she enjoys the research for her books almost as much as the writing; so much so, that sometimes she realizes she's strayed way past the information she needs to know, and not a paragraph has been added to her WIP.

She admits she's no domestic goddess, and wonders why tourists think she might run the local bed and breakfast. She doesn't.

Her lovely long-suffering husband is learning to love the dust bunnies, work the Aga, and be on stand-by with a glass of wine.

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