Monday, January 16, 2017

Meet the Characters of Sanctuary Cove . . . by Kate James

March is (thankfully) just around the corner, and I'm thrilled to be sharing a release date with LeAnne Bristow, Tara Randel and Cerella Sechrist.

We’ve already told you a little about our books and first revealed the covers here, and Cerella posted 13-sentence excerpts from each of our books last Friday and kicked off a fantastic 13-book giveaway here.

Today, I would like to introduce you to Sanctuary Cove, and some of the two- and four-legged characters who inhabit it.

Here is a short outline of the story:

When New York-based communications executive Emma Meadows finds her personal and professional life in shambles, she retreats to a lakefront cabin in the Adirondack Mountains. Aiding an injured animal at the side of a rain-drenched road, she meets local veterinarian Joshua Whitmore. Gradually, Josh’s charm and persistence overcome her defenses. But when Emma’s past abruptly intrudes—putting reputations and even lives at stake—it threatens everything she and Josh have begun to build together.


Sanctuary Cove is a fictitious small town on the edge of a lake in the Adirondack Mountains region of the state of New York. Emma's cottage is situated on a large, secluded property, on a knoll overlooking a small, private lake. The location looks like this . . .

Meet Joshua Whitmore

Our here is Josh Whitmore. Josh is a veterinarian. He is 35 years old, six-feet, three-inches tall, with a lean, athletic build. He has dark brown, collar-length hair, and his eyes are brown with gold flecks. He is good natured and easy going. Family is important to Josh. He is principled, committed to his work, and loyal to his friends and family. A celebrity lookalike for Josh is Josh Holloway.

Meet Emma Meadows

Our heroine is Emma Meadows. She’s 32 and a former communications executive. She has unwavering standards of ethics and integrity, and loves animals. She is relatively tall at five feet eight inches, and she's slender. She has long blonde hair and blue eyes. A celebrity lookalike for Emma is Sienna Miller.

Meet Max

Max is Emma’s dog. He is a five-year-old Alaskan malamute, weighing approximately 100 pounds. He has silver-gray and white fur, and brown eyes. Max is gentle, loving and loyal.

Meet Theo

Theo is a dog-wolf mix, with gray fur and brown eyes. He's slightly larger than Max, and is healing from an injury. He develops a strong bond with Emma and Max, and is protective of them.

Meet Winston

Winston is Josh’s yellow Labrador retriever. He has yellow fur—naturally—and sweet brown eyes. He weighs roughly 70 pounds. He’s as lovable and loving as a dog can be.

Josh, Emma, Max, Theo and Winston would love it if you visited Sanctuary Cove and spent some time with them!


If you stopped by our blog last Friday the 13th for Cerella's post, you know that in the spirit of all things thirteen, a bunch of our fellow Heartwarming authors joined Cerella, Tara, LeAnne and me to offer up copies of their releases, for a THIRTEEN book giveaway!

You still have time to enter using the form below...and you can enter every day to increase your chances of winning!

Lucky 13 Heartwarming Book Giveaway

Good luck with the giveaway and happy reading!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sit-Down Saturday with Lee McKenzie + a Giveaway

Today we’re celebrating Lee McKenzie’s new release. His Best Friend’s Wife is the second book in The Finnegan Sisters series. To celebrate its release, she's giving away a signed copy of To Catch a Wife, the first book in this series.

So tell us, Lee, where did you get the idea for this novel?

First of all, I want to wish our wonderful Heartwarming readers a very Happy New Year! Thank you so much for joining me today.

Readers who’ve read my earlier books will know I love to write series centered around strong women—best friends, business partners, sisters. The Finnegan sisters were abandoned by their mother when they were very young, and they were raised by their father, who’s a paraplegic. Middle sister, Emily, found her happily-ever-after in the first book, To Catch a Wife. His Best Friend’s Wife is Annie’s story. She’s a widower with a young son named Isaac. The third book in the series, Cowboy, Come Home, is about the youngest sister, CJ.

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?

Life is full of second chances.

And the back cover blurb really says it all.
A second chance for his first love

Paul Woodward has always known Annie Finnegan was the one. But when she married his best friend, he moved away from their tiny hometown to try to forget the woman he could never have. When her husband passes away, Paul is heartbroken and wants to be there for the love of his life—but how can he, given the way he feels? As he returns to take over his ill father's medical practice, though, it's clear that Annie and her son are the family Paul longs for. As Annie heals and their connection grows, Paul will wait to find out if love really gives second chances…
What is your favorite scene?

I would have to say it’s the first kiss that almost wasn’t.
He was easy to talk to and she loved that he made it easy for her to laugh, that he made it okay for her to laugh again. It was all so easy that she was startled when Paul checked his watch and stood to leave.

“Annie, this has been great but I need to get going. Otherwise I’ll be late for my first appointment.”

“I’m glad you came out this morning. It’s good to have you back in Riverton.” She meant it. She hadn’t realized how important it would be to have Eric’s friends around.

Paul stood, picked up his dishes and carried them to the dishwasher.

Annie rushed to her feet. “Don’t worry about those. I’ll take care of them.”

He gave her a quizzical smile. “I know how to load a dishwasher. I’ve been taking care of myself since I went away to college.”

“Right. Well, thank you.” He was a doctor. He took care of other people for a living, so without question he could look after himself. She just wasn’t used to being around men who did. Or if they did, she wasn’t accustomed to letting them.

“Walk me out?” he asked.

“Of course.” As they made their way down the hall to the door, she found herself wondering about Paul’s past. He seemed to be single, but there must have been girlfriends, serious relationships even. For all she knew, he was still involved with someone in Chicago. She could ask, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.

Outside on the screened veranda, they stopped and Paul turned to face her. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“Anytime, Paul. I mean it.”

He placed his hands on her shoulders, leaned in as though he was going to kiss her forehead the way he always did. As he moved, she inexplicably tipped her head back and looked at him. His lips made contact with hers. The kiss lasted a millisecond—brief but electrifying. They both pulled back, startled, gazes locked.

Paul was the first to find his voice. “Um, I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“I only meant to—”

“I shouldn’t have—”

“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” he said.

Neither had she. Or had she?
Who was your favorite character and why?

Do I have to choose? I love all the characters in this series, but there’s a special place in my heart for Annie, Emily and CJ’s father, Thomas Finnegan. In spite of life’s many challenges, he has always been there for his family. To his daughters, he’s the hero against whom all others are measured. I was hoping Thomas would find love again, and his happily-ever-after forms the subplot in His Best Friend’s Wife.

What are you writing now?

Right now I’m finishing the third book in the series, Cowboy, Come Home, and working on a proposal for a new series. I’m also plotting a secret project that I hope readers will enjoy.

To celebrate the release of His Best Friend's Wife, I'm offering a signed copy of To Catch a Wife and an adorable Magnolia Bakery tote bag.

To be eligible to win, leave a comment on this post, along with your email address, and tell me what love most about Heartwarming stories, what you hope for in 2017, or simply say hello! I'll post the winner's name tomorrow.

For now, happy reading everyone, and thank you so much for joining me today! Until next time,

Writing fifty shades of pink

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Who says 13 is unlucky?" + a giveaway! by Cerella Sechrist (with Tara Randel, Kate James, and LeAnne Bristow)

It's only happening twice this year, and today is one of those days.

Friday the 13th.

Many people consider it unlucky, but I'm going against tradition and deciding that today is going to be a lucky day!

So in the spirit of all things thirteen, I asked my fellow March release Heartwarming authors to give me thirteen sentences from their upcoming books. You can read them below!

And we didn't stop there. A bunch of our fellow Heartwarming authors are joining us to offer up copies of their releases, for a THIRTEEN book giveaway! Check out the 13-sentence excerpts from the upcoming March releases and then enter to win via the form below!

And remember - today just might be your lucky day.

Sawyer had always been confident, but he seemed to hold himself with even more surety now. But then, setting country music records was likely to do that to a person.

Stabs of both jealousy and grief sliced through her. He’d become famous. He’d fulfilled his dream. And beneath the layers of frustration, a part of her was exceedingly proud of him. But he’d also left her, after years of shared joys and tears, when it was most convenient for him. And she’d spent the last twenty-three months trying to come to terms with the loss of him—her high-school sweetheart, the guy she’d waited for throughout army basic training and deployment, the man she’d traveled all over the United States with as they’d performed their music and chased their dreams.

Sawyer had been her soul mate. At one time she’d been closer to him than any other person on earth, her brother included. She hadn’t had many close relationships in her life, and Sawyer knew that. But she’d had him.

Until fame came calling.

Luke removed his sunglasses then sipped his coffee, peering at Cassie over the rim of his cup. Yes, he made her nervous. His blond hair seemed lighter in the daylight, strands lifting in the gentle breeze. It looked like he hadn’t shaved this morning, which only made him more handsome. His long fingers held the cup with ease, the same fingers that played the heck out of his guitar last night. She’d hoped working together would break the ice, since he was always reserved around her, and evidenced by his good mood this morning, her strategy must have worked.

He smiled at her and her stomach dipped. How did she explain the sparks whenever they were together? She’d noticed him sneaking glances at her last night, or at least she’d hoped he was. Her heart had danced, just like right now. Probably the attraction was one-sided, but she wanted to explore the heat between them.

But what if he didn’t return her feelings? She was sunk, because if he found out, then working together on her song writing would be so awkward.

The heavy rain made the trip longer than Josh had anticipated. Driving in the nasty weather hadn't improved his disposition. It was nearly twenty minutes from the time he'd hung up the phone to when he spotted the black, late-model, luxury SUV parked on the shoulder of Otter Creek Road. And the woman huddled on the ground in front of it, stroking the animal. A set of choice words raced through his mind. It would be her own fault if she was bitten. Pulling up behind the BMW X5, he grabbed his medical bag and climbed out of his ancient Yukon.

The woman was hunched over the still form of the animal, as if trying to shield him from the worst of the downpour with her own body. There was a sadness about her—evident in her posture, the slope of her shoulders—that tore at his heart. When she glanced up at him with shimmering eyes, huge in her pale face, something shifted inside him.

He hoped he wasn’t too late. That he wouldn’t be deprived of the opportunity to save the animal. For the animal’s sake, as much as the woman’s.

“We do what we can at the outreach program, but not every kid wants to be saved.”

She chuckled. “Seems like someone told me the same thing about animals once.”

Tony reached over and took her hand. His fingers traced the deep scar running across her palm. “I was right, but you had to learn the hard way.”

His feather-light touch sent chills up her arm. She snatched her hand away from him. “It may take me a while, but once I learn something, I never forget.”

“I have scars from that night, too.” He held up his own hand to reveal a matching mark.

Sabrina looked down at the sleeping child on the cot. “Funny thing about scars...the worst ones are the ones people can’t see.”


Lucky 13 Heartwarming Book Giveaway

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Baby It's Cold Outside! by LeAnne Bristow

All over the country, people are posting beautiful pictures of their winter wonderland and bragging about all the wonderful things they get to do. Like shovel driveways.  Thaw out their car. Ummm…..NO! Not this desert rat. While I can appreciate the beauty of winter, I want to appreciate it from afar. Like real far. I do admit that I get a little bit jealous when Kate James posts pictures like this: 

 I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t enjoy a view like that? So while the desert rat in me wanted to tease you with our we-can-still-barbeque-outside weather and post pictures of our sunshine and lemon trees, I shall refrain. Almost. 

There are some nice things about winter. My children eagerly wait for the snow to start hitting in the mountains so they can make a day trip to Mt. Lemmon, Sunrise or Flagstaff and snowboard to their hearts content. Of course, the beautiful thing about this, is they can drive TO the snow, play and then come back to 70 degree weather on the SAME day. Oh wait…I wasn’t going to tease you.  

However, I will admit that cold weather does have its advantages.  Curling up in front of fireplace with a good book and a large cup of hot cocoa. Snuggling with your love under a quilt. The smells of winter. Does anything smell better than pine trees, cinnamon or pumpkin pie? No. So while I’ve got a soft spot for winter, let’s play a little game (quick, before someone reminds me about shoveling sidewalks). Pretend you are snowed in some gorgeous place like this.  What would you do?

                                                        photo courtesy of Kate James

I asked the authors of the January Heartwarming books how their heros would react to being snowed in with their heroine. I got some great answers!

First up, let’s check in with James, the hero from Patricia John’s book A Baxter’s Redemption.


James Hunter has been in love with Isabel from afar for years, so if he got the pleasure of being snowed in with her, he'd take the chance to curl up with her in front of the fire and talk. He wants to know about her, but he also wants to share about himself. He's been invisible for too long. For once, he wants her to see him--the man.

 Wow. Just wow. Next, I asked Lee McKenzie how Paul from His Best Friend’s Wife would handle such an ordeal. 


Snowed in at the Finnegan Farm Bed & Breakfast with Annie Finnegan? Paul Woodward has loved her for as long as he can remember, but he moved away from their tiny hometown of Riverton, WI, after she married his best friend. Now she’s a young widow and he’s come home to take over his father’s medical practice, so bring on the blizzard! He’ll happily sit at her kitchen counter, peeling apples while she bakes one of her legendary apple strudels. They won’t be alone—Annie shares the house with her young son, her sister and her paraplegic father and her—but Paul is a patient man, and a resourceful one. If there’s a way to steal a moment alone and discover if second chances really do exist, he’ll find one.


Apple pie! Darn! I have to add that to my list of favorite winter smells now. Now it’s time for Tara Taylor Quinn’s hero from The Cowboy’s Twins. 

If Spencer was snowed in with Natasha, he'd be facing frostbite to stay as far away from her as he can. Except for when his twins needed him. Then he'd have a towel tucked into his waist while he cooked for them.

 At last, but not least, Sophia Sasson’s book Mending the Doctor’s Heart features the yummy hero, Nico.


Nico, would start a fire, then invite Anna to their leather couch and ask if she'd like him to rub her feet. Anna hasn't slowed down so he wants to give her the chance to just be with him, to talk and rediscover why they fell in love. As he rubs her feet they'll relive their past life together and get rekindle their own fire.  The electricity will go out because their house is old and shabby but he'll keep the fire going and pull Anna close to keep her warm.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling warm all the way to the tips of my toes (which are currently still wearing flip-flops)! So I ask you, which hero would you want to be snowed in with? Or if you just can’t pick, tell me what you’d do with your honey while the snow was falling. 

And just for playing, I’ll toss your name in the hat and pull one lovely prize! Lee McKenzie has graciously offered a signed copy of To Catch a Wife, the first book in the Finnegan Sisters to one lucky winner. (Check the comments tomorrow for the winner)

Here’s more fabulous news! All Heartwarming books are 20% off when you use the promo code HEARTGIFTS when checking out at the Harlequin store. Go get your books now!!! But leave a comment first. 

From sunny Arizona, this is LeAnne Bristow send you warm wishes no matter what weather you're stuck with!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cold, Flu, Whatcha Gonna Do? by Carol Ross

Are you one of those people who breaks out the hand sanitizer every time someone coughs? Do you time your trips to the grocery store for early morning or late at night to avoid the mass of sneezing shoppers? And still, wipe down the cart with an antibacterial wipe? All after wiggling and contorting your body in order to get a piece of clothing between your hand and the store’s door handle? Have you been known to avoid social gatherings because you know a friend or family member has been sick? Are you sometimes referred to as a germaphobe by family members, friends, or co-workers as a result of your answer to the previous question? 

If you’ve shouted a resounding yes to any of these questions or if you’re nodding along to all of them at this point, just know that it’s okay. You’re not alone.  Stay with me, I’m going to give you some valuable information and some well-deserved validation.

With my local hospital here in SW Washington reporting a record number of flu cases shuffling miserably through their emergency room doors and my blog partner’s daughter down with a vicious stomach bug, I’ve been thinking a lot about the amount and variety of illnesses going around. (Pausing here to send strength, prayers, and healing thoughts to Amy Vastine and her little one.)

Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the word “flu” tossed around a bit this winter. But how do you know if you have it? If you have to ask, you probably don’t. A cold is typically some combination of congestion, sneezing, sore throat, coughing, and a headache. The flu is more like you have a bad cold AND you’ve been hit by a bus. Not to discount the hard-working rhinovirus (or its cold-causing cousins) because sometimes colds can be so nasty it’s difficult to tell. Experts here at WebMD say that usually with the influenza virus you will have a fever and often the symptoms come on quickly and severely.

Does it matter at that point, you might be asking? Sick is sick, right? Definitely! And when you’re curled up on the couch wishing you’d bought stock in Kleenex and it hurts to even blink your eyelids, all you want is someone to pass you the Nyquil so you can sleep until the evil passes. The distinction is important sometimes, though, because the influenza virus can lead to serious complications, like pneumonia. (If you get a bad cold that you suspect is the flu, you need to see a doctor.)

The “stomach flu,” on the other hand, that dreaded vomit-inducing scourge that rages through entire families in a single weekend isn’t really the flu at all. It’s gastroenteritis and can be caused by both viruses and bacteria (think food poisoning.) Again, if you’ve got it, you don’t care where it’s coming from you just want it to go away. But it’s helpful to know the difference so you can apply (or not) effective treatment.

But what happens when, despite all of your wiping, washing, and people-avoiding, you get sick with a cold or flu anyway? Aside from rest, staying hydrated, a good book and a warm blanket, here are a few other helpful hints and busted myths that apply.

*Antibiotics are not effective against either the cold or flu. (I think we all are aware of this one by now, but it never hurts to mention in case you’ve been living in a WWII bunker for the last decade.) There are a few antivirals available now like Tamiflu and Relenza that can shorten the severity and duration of the flu. None of these work on a cold, however.

*Vitamin C, zinc, Echinacea don’t prevent a cold or flu. I know a lot of people swear by these remedies and I don’t want to discount them. From what I’ve discovered, none of them can keep you from getting sick, but there is evidence that they may help you get better faster. And I’m onboard with that! For the price of these relatively inexpensive treatments and the other health benefits they provide, these supplements are nothing to sneeze at.

*Chicken soup for the soul and a cold? Yep. Turns out chicken soup is real, it’s delicious, and it can be helpful in easing cold and flu symptoms. Chicken soup (or any hot liquid) can help reduce congestion, it is hydrating, and it might even help with inflammation. (Shout out to Mom for force-feeding me Campbells in my weakest moments.) Check out this article from for more detailed information.

*Over the counter medications (like NSAIDS, antihistamines, decongestants, etc.) can be helpful in relieving pain and other symptoms. There are a lot of powerful meds out there promising all kinds of relief for just about any symptom. The “cold and flu” aisle can be overwhelming. These pills can also be powerful and may come with side effects and/or drug interactions. It’s best to consult your doctor or pharmacist to find the one that will work best for you and your virus.

*Cough syrup is a waste of money. Okay, this one may just be my personal opinion. But I did find an article that said that drinking warm tea with honey is probably just as effective. Plus, with tea you get the added bonus of hydration. I’ve heard from reliable sources (thanks, Dad) that a shot of brandy or whiskey in the tea helps, too.

So, tell me, what lengths do you go to, to avoid catching something? Or maybe you just figure if you get sick you'll deal with it then? And when you or yours do get sick, what are your tried and true methods for relief? 

For more information about Carol Ross, please visit her website:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Change, or not? by Patricia Forsythe

Since I don't keep New Year's resolutions, I no longer make them.  Formerly, my resolutions involved grandiose plans about weight loss, more exercise, etc. -- the usual things, or clich├ęs, so many people come up with.  Recently, I read that eighty percent of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by the middle of February, and people go back to their old habits.  I wonder how many of those people will try again next year.  I’m convinced that this all stems from discontent with ourselves.  I wonder what would happen if we all decided not to try to change, to be content with ourselves and our lives? I suspect we might be happier, but maybe a little bored.
I’ve found that many authors I know don’t like change in their personal lives, but they love putting their characters through all kinds of upheavals.  When starting a new book, many authors begin with plot idea, others begin with characters, or even a setting, but all books begin with change.  Characters who have busily been going about their daily lives are suddenly thrust into a new situation.  How they deal with it is what makes the story.  If they didn't change, their story would go nowhere.
Personally, one of my favorite kinds of romance is the ‘Fish Out Of Water’ story in which one or both main characters find themselves in a situation that’s outside their skill set, which forces change upon them – a single person suddenly having to take care of a baby, or someone inheriting a hotel or a ranch they have to run.  These situations can be fraught with danger and hilarity.  I also love the Ugly Duckling story where an ungainly person comes into their own and makes themselves into the hero of their own life.
How about you? What kinds of changes do you like to see characters make?  What are your favorite kinds of romances? 

Patricia Forsythe is the author of many romances, both traditionally and electronically published.  Her most recent Harlequin Heartwarming is At Odds Wit the Midwife (November 2016).  The Husband She Can’t Forget will be released in February 2017, and His Twin Baby Surprise in May 2017.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Goals: Make Them When You Really Need Them

Howdy,  Pamela Tracy here, and I gotta tell you, across the cyber highway, everyone’s writing about goals. No, not everyone.  I’m not.  Er, okay, I”m writing about them just not making them.  I didn’t make a single goal come midnight Dec 31/Jan 1.  

Oh, and the people who didn’t make goals, many of them are urging me to come up with a “word” that will represent 2017.  A word.  Really?  Just one.  No, no, no.  I’d need a word for work, for home, for the eleven-year-old when once again I find a juice box/ otter pop wrapper/chip bag stuck into the cushions of my couch.  Here’s a word:  Ew.   Here’s another word: Grounded.  Here’s another word: Tired.  Here’s another word:  Happy.  

Happy, that’s right.  I’m so very happy that I have an 11 year old.  So, picture me erasing all those words and instead lecturing about “Never buying you another juice box again?”  “Next time I WILL ground you!” and/or “Of course I’m not too tired to play another late night game of Clash Royale with you.

Cheryl and I spoke about this.  About what we’d write.

Some clear goals I made were when I started seriously writing, which was not at midnight on December 31st.

Oh, yes, I can make goals

1. Learn how to write a finished book that was readable/publishable
2. Sell to Harlequin
3. Win a Rita
4. Have a book turned into a Hallmark movie
5. Make a living as a writer

I did number one and two.  I’ve finaled for a Rita.  As for number four, often when I write, my brain is turning my book into a Hallmark movie.  Sometimes I rewrite whole scenes because I know how the movie would have to go.

As for making a living... 
Well, I’ve worked two jobs since I was in college, at least if you count summers where I had both day and night jobs (which is why I’m not too sympathetic when I hear students say they can’t afford college.)

Do I still have five goals?  Yes.  After 25 books, I have...

1. Learn how to write tighter/better/engaging books. (It never gets easier)
2. Keep selling to Harlequin
3. Win a Rita (please, please, please)
4. Have a book turned into a Hallmark movie (please, please, please, please)
5. Make a living as a writer (My husband keeps asking about this one.  Ummm).

So, how about you?  What are some of your writing goals.

Pamela's next book
Which is hopefully engaging
and is published by Harlequin
and will be entered in the Ritas
and that would make a wonderful Hallmark movie
(Let me tell you who would play the hero and heroine)
and 'nuff said.