- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
Q. Where did you get the idea for TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS?
Q. No, really.
A. Sure! Didn’t you know? “Ideas for sale.” They’re on the aisle right between the dog food and the service desk. Check it out.
Actually, TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS had a rough beginning. I was starting a romantic suspense series, the Fortune Hunters. I had gotten approval for a book set in New Orleans and had written about a hundred pages, and in fact was going to fly for research on the day Hurricane Katrina hit the city. I knew I had to wait to write that story, but I had a deadline I needed to meet and I had no back-up plot. So I went to Wal-mart and browsed the book section, looking for a deep, intellectual, meaningful read that would elevate the tenor of my mind. Of course, I headed right for the Harlequin Presents which are my favorite books of all time.
Q. Wait. They’re short, basic books featuring a rich, domineering hero and a poor, dumb heroine whose deadbeat brother steals from said hero, then blackmails the heroine into becoming his mistress for a week and of course they have great sex, then she has a secret baby, then they have to get married, then they struggle against their love for each other before finally giving in and having great sex forever.
A. I know. Harlequin Presents are romance boiled down to its most basic form. Love them. Anyway—I picked up a book titled something like THE VIRGIN’S ONE NIGHT STAND WITH A TYCOON, and read the back. Her fiancé dumped her and her tycoon boss thoughtfully offered to help her out with a one night stand. What a guy. I flipped through the first few pages. The heroine was whiny and guilty, which I hated. She should have been in a magnificent towering rage. Next I hit the romantic suspense, picked up STAB ME THROUGH MY TENDER HEART (fake title, I have no idea what it really was) and read the back. This woman slept with the wrong guy. He hid his cocaine (or some nefarious thing) in her house, and now someone was trying to kill her and she had to depend on the help of a noble policeman/private detective/FBI agent to get her out of this mess.
But I liked the bad guy! What if her fiancé dumped her, she picked out a guy to sleep with and it was a bad guy—and she couldn’t get rid of him? She would have just stepped in a huge pile of doo! As soon as I thought that one phrase — She would have just stepped in a huge pile of doo!—I knew I had a plot. Because that’s what I look for in a plot—a big pile of doo for the characters to step in. So TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELSinvolves two ideas mushed together.
Q. That’s all? You knew the whole plot from that?
A. Okay, no. Plotting the actual moment-to-moment action is difficult for me. But I didn’t have time to fool around, so I took what I knew about the story and wrote as much of the synopsis as quickly as I could. When I got stuck, I called author friends and begged them to help me brainstorm, I woke up at night and sweated as I tried to figure out how to stage a jewel robbery, I plotted with my husband, I sent the synopsis to my editor and brainstormed with her. And I started writing even though I didn’t know exactly where I was going. Despite all that uncertainty and panic, the book went together like a dream. To me it’s a rare and wonderful treat, a gift book blessed by the gods of creativity.
TROUBLE IN HIGH HEELS is so good it’s been repackaged as part of DANGEROUS LADIES, the trade (large-sized) paperback. DANGEROUS LADIES also includes the second book of the Fortune Hunter series, TONGUE IN CHIC. So if you haven’t tried my romantic suspense titles, now is the time! (For a complete listing of my series, here’s a printable book list. http://christinadodd.com/booklist_print.pdf Here’s a list of my excerpts! http://www.christinadodd.com/excerpts.php And in case you haven’t read through my Frequently Asked Questions, there’s a lot of information there including my upcoming pub schedule! http://christinadodd.com/faqs.html )
Order DANGEROUS LADIES from Barnes and Noble! http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Dangerous-Ladies/Christina-Dodd/e/9780451228826/?itm=1&usri=DANGEROUS+LADIES
Order DANGEROUS LADIES from Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Ladies-Christina-Dodd/dp/0451228820/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254607323&sr=1-1
Order DANGEROUS LADIES from Borders! http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=0451228820
A side note: Do you know someone who reads my books but isn’t on my mailing list, doesn’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook? Would you please pass this info on? I know darn good and well someone’s going to buy DANGEROUS LADIES, realize they already own the books and they’ll be mad at me when we all know this is why you’re on my list, so you can find this stuff out and spend your hard-earned dollars on other wonderful romances! Thank you in advance. I appreciate your help!
For the wild at heart!
It’s a good thing beauty is only skin deep or I’d be rotten to the core — Phyllis Diller
No, this is not a recipe for cat stew with a soupcon of pumpkin. I just couldn’t find an appetizing picture of beans so I thought this autumn kitty was the perfect intro to the first day of October .
I have no idea why they call this recipe a hot bean salad. I prefer to think of it as a hot bean stew. What can I say? Any recipe that contains both bacon and brown sugar is tops on my list. This simple and hearty dish will certainly warm the tummy on those first cool autumn days!
BETSY’S BUMPUS BEANS
1 can of corn
1 can of kidney beans (light red)
1 can of pork & beans
2 TBS mustard
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large onion (optional)
1 TBS vinegar
1 1/2 - 2 lbs ground chuck or lean ground beef
1 lb bacon
Mix all ingredients EXCEPT for onion, ground beef and bacon in crock pot
Brown ground beef and onion and add to crock pot
Fry bacon until lightly crisp, crumble it and add to crock pot (I like to cut my bacon into 2 inch pieces before I cook it)
Cook in crock pot for 2 hours on high, then on low until ready to serve (Or just leave on LOW all day if you’re going to be gone.)
The publishing world was deeply saddened today as we learned of the loss of Kensington editor and dear friend Kate Duffy. She was much beloved by her authors and even more astonishing, she was beloved by authors who had never even had the privilege of working with her. She was a tremendous supporter of the romance genre and she truly loved the books she edited and promoted with such enthusiasm and devotion. She was also a big supporter of Squawk Radio.
To pay tribute to her today, we’d like to rerun this fun interview Kate did with our own resident curmudgeon Kitty Kuttlestone (a.k.a. Connie Brockway) in March 2006.
God bless you, Kate. We’ll miss you dearly.
KITTY: Okay, Kate. The squawkers have nixed all the good questions as being unsuited to your “exalted position,” a phrase so ripe for comment that I think I’ll probably end up at the pearly gates just onthe merits of resisting it alone. Anyway, Toots, let’s get this over so we can hit the bars.
KATE : Amen, sister.
KITTY: You’re the Editorial Director at Kensington. What does that entail exactly? And feel free to go into long descriptive passages about thrones and scepters.
KATE: I read books, I buy books, I make suggestions for the cover copy and the cover art, I do long range planning and short range planning and family planning. OK, maybe not the last one. I represent the company to the authors and the author to the company. And on Wednesday, I have buttered scones for tea.
KITTY: Let us talk now about Kate Duffy, the woman. Who is she? What experiences fashioned her young life? What were her fragile dreams and at what tender age were they ripped from her like the wings from butterflies and flung—oops. Sorry. Talking about me again. Tell me about you.
KATE: I was talking with Walter Zacharius one day (he owns Kensington ) and I was wondering why some of my colleagues seemed to think I could be difficult on occasion when I am such a pixie and he said, “Yeah, a pixie with a machete.” Frankly, I cannot understand this. I am a giver, I am a people person, I have a Schweitzer-like reverence for every living thing – as long as you do my biding. Otherwise, not. For myself, Kitty, I don’t ask much. Maybe, a little kindness, a little respect and a lot of money to buy great books. That’s not really too much to ask is it?
KITTY: No. You could have thrown in a few Cubano Perfectos and still come off ‘umble.
Let’s say I see you at RWA and I wanta schmooze you. What should my opening salvo be? “Hi Kate. How’s the (fill in the blank)? Been (fill in the blank) lately? What did you think of the last episode of (fill in the blank)?”
KATE: Oh, good I love mad-libs. Just don’t mention if I have rejected your book at any time in the past. It makes me skittish if you make any sudden moves. Other than that, I am very schmoozable.
KITTY: You’ve been an editor for a real… What? Oh, shut up, Brockway. I know how to do an interview. Sorry about that, Kate. Now, you’ve edited ... a lot. Who all have you edited? Name names.
KATE: Like you are younger than springtime. From Jude Deveraux (some of the Velvet books and the Twin books) and Judith McNaught ( WHITNEY, MY LOVE) to my current victims among whom are Janet Dailey, Lori Foster, Susan Johnson and Mary Janice Davidson.
KITTY: Who was your favorite author to edit? And why?
KATE: There are so many things I could say here but I am going to resist. They are all wonderful. Each and every one. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
KITTY: Yeah and JFK and I just “talked.” What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done as an editor?
KATE: Invented whole companies and imprints like Silhouette and Brava.
KITTY: Okay, you’ve started some racy lines there at Kensington. What’s the deal with all this sex? I mean in the books.
KATE: I know it’s been a while, Kitty, but romance sometimes leads to sex and in fiction, it leads to great sex. Which sells a lot of books.
KITTY: Hey, don’t loook at me. Brockway made me ask that one. And now, “Let’s talk James Frey.” Personally, I like the kid. He’s got moxie. True, a case might be made that he’s not too bright but let’s face it, who would have guessed his book was going to tear up the lists?
What’s your take on his book? As a reader and as a member of the publishing community? Where do you think all this outrage comes from? I mean, seriously, if the worse lie the world had to endure is one that makes Oprah look silly, I’d call the world fortunate.
KATE: A couple of years ago, a former colleague of mine here, Tracy Bernstein was asked the following question at a writers conference. Keep in mind, ANGELA’S ASHES was on the bestseller list at the time. This lady raised her hand and asked Tracy the following, “I would really like to write a memoir but my life is so boring. Can I write my memoir about someone else?”
This is going to sound like being brilliant after the fact but I didn’t believe a lot of it (the book) when I read it before the fracas. Fracas is a word I like to write but think I look silly saying out loud. Fracas. Oh, where was I? You know, the part where he hauls his bloody and bruised carcass onto a plane? I don’t think so. But I didn’t feel ripped off. It was a good read. Publishing and Oprah’s response left me breathless and not in a good way.
KITTY: Also, and being practical here, as one of the squawkers put it: “A crack-addict lied? Wow. Imagine that.”
That’s it! You’re free, Kate. Thank you for helping me keep this gig. It’s just temporary, you know. Until I get back on my feet. Did I mention I have a memoir I’m pitching?
KATE: Thank you, Kitty. You leave me breathless, too, and not in a good way.
Everyone knows what American women want—thinner thighs, darker chocolate, and a dashing Englishman who looks more like Hugh Grant or Colin Firth than Prince Charles or Dame Edna. George Clooney might charm us with his bedroom eyes and easygoing manner, but deep in our hearts we yearn for a quintessential English gent who will declare both his scorn and his love for us in clipped, upper crust tones. He will mock, infuriate, and adore us—preferably from afar so we won’t be able to tell when his teeth start going bad as English teeth invariably do. (In a recent interview, Hugh Grant confessed that his were already starting to go.) To achieve the true pinnacle of desirability, this paragon of manhood must be always in our hearts, yet forever out of our reach.
It’s precisely these qualities that make Jane Austen’s Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice the great-great-grandpappy of all the dark and brooding anti-heroes who would come after him. Whether embodied by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1940 or Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC production or Matthew McFadyen or Colin Firth again as attorney Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary, Mr. Darcy is one of the most compelling romantic characters to ever grace the page, stage or the screen.
Darcy is first introduced to us as the Simon Cowell of the Meryton assembly. There’s not even a sympathetic Paula Abdul to soften the blow or a 1-800 number to call in a protest when he passes ruthless judgment on Elizabeth Bennet, dismissing her as “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” His collar is as stiff as his demeanor and his aristocratic nose is fixed firmly in the air, no doubt breathing deeply of the rarified stratosphere that can only be coveted by lesser mortals like Miss Bennet and her sisters.
He is proud, arrogant, insufferable...and utterly irresistible. It’s no accident of Ms. Austen’s clever prose that we fall in love with him long before Elizabeth does. After all, who could resist a man who leaves this first impression?—"He was the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world and everybody hoped that he would never come there again.” He might drive a coach-and-four instead of straddling a Harley, but that doesn’t make him any less of a bad boy. His behavior is impeccable, but his temperament is deliciously deplorable.
Darcy becomes even more intriguing when compared to his devoted friend, Mr. Bingley—"Bingley was sure of being liked wherever he appeared, Darcy was continually giving offence.” How is it that the amiable Bingley makes us yawn into our tea while Mr. Darcy, the most unlikely of heroes, still possesses the power to make us swoon nearly two hundred years after Jane Austen first created him? Are all women closet masochists or do we just love a rousing (or would that be arousing?) challenge?
From the time I was a very small child, I’ve been given to passionate crushes on the opposite sex. When I was six years old, I fell hard for Kurt Russell and his beguiling dimples in Disney’s The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. For five pivotal years of puberty, Donny Osmond’s blinding smile reigned supreme on the walls of my bedroom and in my heart. Darling Donny was my first muse, prompting me to pen Chapter One of a rollicking pirate novel in which Sir Donald Osmond abducted my intrepid heroine in a scene eerily similar to the kidnapping of the governor’s daughter in Pirates of the Caribbean. To increase my chances of becoming The Donald’s wife and bearing his many toothy children, I checked the Book of Mormon out of the local library and doubled my visits to the local orthodontist. I’m embarrassed to report that my ability to yearn wistfully for a total stranger resurfaced when I developed a medical condition commonly known in internet circles as RCO (Russell Crowe Obsession) and downloaded over 350 photos of the enigmatic actor in less than a month.
You might be asking yourself what Kurt’s dimples, Donny’s teeth, and Russell’s...well...everything...have in common with the formidable Mr. Darcy. Mr. Crowe certainly does have a reputation for blunt speaking and I have no doubt he’d be perfectly at home in a Regency drawing room delivering bon mots and cut directs with equal ruthlessness. (After all, this is a man bold enough to publicly criticize DeNiro for selling out!) However, it’s not his prickly Australian nature that makes him a worthy successor to Darcy’s mantle, but his chameleon-like ability to transform himself into every woman’s fantasy with each role he plays. Whether slaughtering Barbarian hordes in Gladiator, rescuing Meg Ryan’s hapless husband in Proof of Life, or bellowing out orders in Master and Commander, he successfully evokes empathy while still playing hard to get with our yearning hearts.
We’ve always loved our stoic, enigmatic heroes. That’s why so many women have chosen Spock over Captain Kirk through the years. Orlando Bloom’s recent portrayal of Legolas in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy provoked a similar reaction from a new generation of teenage girls. He probably had three lines in the entire trilogy (and most of those were spoken in Elvish), yet the female sighs every time he appeared on screen were audible throughout the theater. His eyes spoke volumes although his mouth rarely moved.
In a similar fashion, it’s not what we know about Darcy that intrigues us from his very first appearance on the page, but what we don’t know. Jane Austen could have made us privy to every one of Darcy’s thoughts and motivations long before they are revealed to Elizabeth. But she wisely realized that a hero stripped of his inscrutable nature is also a hero stripped of appeal.
From a very young age, we women need to have an object to personify our fantasies. Whether it’s that first rapturous taste of puppy love or a high school crush, the more unattainable and inaccessible that object, the more we are able to endow him with all of the qualities we think we admire. And by the time we’re done, he’s usually very well-endowed indeed.
If we’re consistently held at arm’s length from the object of our desire, we can continue to view him through the tender glow of our rose-colored glasses. Our illusions will never be shattered by learning that he belches like Homer Simpson after downing a beer or that he always misses the hamper and leaves his dirty underwear lying on the bedroom floor. He can remain cloaked in a veil of mystery and by doing so, his perfection will never be impeached. He will always be an empty suit of clothes perfectly tailored to meet our needs—our soul mate without a soul.
In Mr. Darcy’s case, that suit of clothes is a pair of buff-colored trousers and an impeccably tailored Regency tail coat. From his first appearance in Meryton, we long to believe that his icy demeanor hides a warm and passionate heart, but Ms. Austen insists upon dashing our hopes at every turn and plot twist. Elizabeth herself pronounces him “very disagreeable” when discussing his character with the charming and amoral Mr. Wickham in Chapter 16 and Darcy condemns himself in her eyes as she recalls, “I do remember his boasting one day, at Netherfield, of the implacability of his resentments, of his having an unforgiving temper.”
If the eyes are truly the mirrors of the soul, even Darcy’s gaze is suspect. After her marriage to that obsequious toad, Reverend Collins, Elizabeth’s dear friend Charlotte notes that Mr. Darcy “certainly looked at her friend (Elizabeth) a great deal, but the expression of that look was disputable. It was an earnest, but steadfast gaze, but she often doubted whether there were much admiration in it, and sometimes it seemed nothing but absence of mind.” Mr. Darcy’s empty suit of clothes is now complimented by an empty gaze. But it’s precisely the vacancy of that gaze that allows us to color it with all of the ardor we imagine he is feeling for Elizabeth beneath his perfectly composed exterior.
Ms. Austen and Mr. Darcy continue to tease us until Chapter 35 when Darcy’s impassioned letter to Elizabeth reveals his true motivations and a hint of his true character. Only then can we heave a collective sigh of relief as we learn that all of our hopes for him were not in vain.
The true beauty of Ms. Austen’s characterization is that Darcy is slowly revealed to be everything we dreamed he could be. His haughty expression is simply the mask he wears to shield his vulnerable heart. His intentions toward Elizabeth and her family may be somewhat misguided, but it is not malevolence that informs them, but loyalty to his dear friend Mr. Bingley. Even Elizabeth can’t dismiss the fine accounting of his character given by the housekeeper at Pemberly, when he is revealed to be “thoughtful, kind, good-natured, a loving brother, and generous to those less fortunate than he.” As she gapes at the housekeeper in disbelief, you can almost hear country singer Tim McGraw start to growl, “I may be a bad boy, but baby I’m a real good man.”
This fantasy is even more beguiling because in real life if we meet a guy at a party who seems like a jerk, he usually turns out to be...well...a jerk. Instead of apologizing for misjudging him as Elizabeth is eventually forced to do, we end up giving him a fake phone number or taking out a restraining order. By the time Elizabeth and Darcy have confessed their love for one another and earned their happy ending, we are confident that he is fully equipped to satisfy her every romantic fantasy just as he has satisfied ours.
Our teen idols will grow up. Our high school crushes will marry the cheerleaders we hated and show up at our twentieth reunions with beer guts and balding heads. Our favorite actors will dump their young, pretty wives for younger, prettier wives and waste years spinning in the revolving door of rehab. But with Mr. Darcy so perfectly preserved on the page, we’ll never have to worry that his dimples will turn into wrinkles, that he’ll become a game show host instead of a pirate, or that his picture will be plastered all over the tabloids after he bites his own bodyguard in a drunken brawl. (Australians do that, you know.)
Thinner thighs and darker chocolate may not always be within our grasp, but thanks to Jane Austen, a brooding Englishman with an inscrutable gaze and good teeth will always remain just at our fingertips.
(Originally published in FLIRTING WITH PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: FRESH PERSPECTIVES ON THE ORIGINAL CHICK-LIT MASTERPIECE, Edited by Jennifer Crusie and still available from Ben Bella Books http://www.benbellabooks.com/smartpop.php)
When you fill out the application to become a Romance Writer, it goes something like this:
1. Are you prepared to live in a world populated by defiant, intelligent, beautiful virgins who know how to shoot like snipers, bold, muscular, driven men with dark souls, and a constant parade of exotic locales? A world that doesn’t exist?
2. Can you give a glib excuse for buying more research books than any one person can ever read in a single lifetime?
3. Are you prepared to have your family think you’re crazy when they catch you talking to yourself … again?
4. What is your favorite romantic adventure movie? And right there on the application, it says, ROMANCING THE STONE.
That’s right. The answer to that one is filled in. Why, you ask? Because Romancing the Stone is the quintessential romantic adventure movie, with not only a legendary jewel, a scarred villain, great sex, and a cynical anti-hero, but a heroine who’s a romance writer. Does it get any better than that?
I love romantic adventure movies; they’re fun, they’re fast, they sparkle with dialogue and sexual tension — and they’re surprisingly hard to find. Hollywood has always thought that romance and adventure are oxymorons, mostly because they believe that women are ill-suited to adventure. If they do include a woman, it’s the woman’s job to run during the chase scene, twist her ankle, fall down, make the hero rescue her, and thus put him into the hands of the villains. The reason there aren’t more romantic adventures showcasing vibrant, intelligent, coordinated women is because men run the studios. There’s a word to describe these men. The word sounds like oxymoron. But it isn’t.
In no particular order, here are my favorite romantic adventure movies:
Indian Jones And The Lost Ark: two words — young Harrison Ford. Yeah, that’s more than two words. Picky, picky.
The Bourne Identity: I suppose it’s not strictly a romance, but few writers or directors use a female character so well. Marie is drawn into the adventure because she’s desperate for money and Bourne will give it to her — if she helps him. She doesn’t realize what she’s getting into, and once she does, she yells, is scared, wants to run away, but she doesn’t run, she doesn’t fall down and twist her ankle, she comes up with better plans than Bourne does, and in the end, she gets Matt Damon. Does it get any better than that? Of course, the second movie totally screws up the romance, but as a stand-alone movie, The Bourne Identity works big-time.
Last Of The Mohicans: Talk about smoky, glorious sexual tension between Cora and Hawkeye, teamed with some of the best adventure and most romantic lines ever delivered in a movie. Cora: “What are you looking at, sir?” Hawkeye: “I’m looking at you, miss.” And Hawkeye to Cora when she’s about to be captured by the Indians: “You be strong, you survive… You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you.” Added bonus — the sound track is fabulous.
Star Wars (Episodes IV, V, VI): two words — really young Harrison Ford. Yeah, that’s more than two words, too. I put these in my favorites list because in The Empire Strikes Back, as Han Solo is about to go into the carbon freeze and possibly die, or for sure get really stiff, he utters one of the best lines ever in romantic adventure. Princess Leia: “I love you.” Han: (completely serious) “I know.” Then in Return of the Jedi, when the rebels attack the bunker and it looks like Han’s about to be captured, Leia shows him her hidden blaster, the one that will save his life. He smiles and says, “I love you,” and she smiles back in perfect accord and says, “I know.” That’s when you know they’re going to have a great relationship forever.
Charade, To Catch A Thief, Indiscreet: And more. Whether he’s a hero or a thief, Cary Grant exudes charm, and because he was so popular, the scripts and the filming are the best.
Casablanca: I know, it doesn’t end like a traditional romance, but the love story makes my heart ache, and I had to include it. According to the DVD extras, the last scene wasn’t even written while they were filming, and Ingrid Bergman didn’t know which man she was going to end up with until she filmed that final scene.
I drew my inspiration for STORM OF SHADOWS from my favorite romantic adventure movies. The story starts in New York City where brilliant yet prim and proper librarian Rosamund Hall meets mysterious Aaron Eagle. He wants her to find a prophecy vital to him, and to the Chosen Ones. She tells him she doesn’t trust in legends or the paranormal, but he sweeps her away to Casablanca, Paris, and the French Alps, and Rosamund is forced to confront the truth about the Chosen…and the dangerous man who plunges her into a world of dark secrets.
STORM OF SHADOWS never stops to let you draw breath. That’s why I love romantic adventures. They leave you breathless.
What are your favorites?
Are you one of the Chosen?
My daughter rescued her when she was six weeks old. She had been used as a bait dog, because screaming terrified puppies rouse savagery in fighting dogs. She had scars on her little head and sores on her feet from standing in her own urine. My daughter took her home, cleaned her up and fell in love.
Sophie was a wonderful puppy. She was so eager to please, so loving and trusting of Rachel. She was housebroken and kennel trained in a matter of weeks. She didn’t stay in the kennel much, however, she thought she was a lapdog and her big, wedge faced head was a scarf that she’d drape over your shoulder and sigh with contentment. Soon, she migrated to the foot of the bed.
At first, it seemed like Sophie Mae, the most deserving of animals, would live out a happily ever after, that love would conquer all, and that the bad guys wouldn’t win. She would go to the dog park and though showing some nervousness, she would soon be playing, albeit cautiously, with the strange dogs there. She loved Rachel’s other dog and my own Springer Spaniel pup. Mostly she avoided my old terrier, who by virtue of being an old dog, hates any young dog.
But then when she turned one year old, things started to change with Sophie Mae. She became less social with other dogs, she’d nip at those who came bounding up to play with her at dog parks. She showed signs of intense anxiety whenever a new dog came near her on a leash and would curl her lips. The aggression towards dogs escalated. She lunged at strange dogs. My daughter engaged a renowned trainer well versed in bully breeds to come see her and she taught all of us some methods of helping Sophie Mae but her sad evaluation was that Sophie Mae was not right. Some wiring had been snipped that could never truly be repaired.
That was a year ago and Sophie Mae has been kept strictly away from dogs she does not know. A few weeks ago Sophie Mae bit my terrier. It was not the first time but this time the way she went from standing to lethal weapon stunned us. We talked about it for long hours, about how her aggression had been turning to strangers. Even more concerning was that she’d started barking at children walking by the yard and her hackles would go up if startled by someone she didn’t know and know well. No amount of correction worked. She hated being chastised, hated her people being angry withy her, and would turn on her back with a harsh word, but she had no control over whatever it was that set her off.
Once again my daughter spoke to several bully breed trainers, bully breed rescue people, and our vet. Sophie Mae was assessed. I won’t go into a long explanation about what this involved but the upshot was that Sophie Mae was not right. No amount training was going to turn her into a relaxed, solid, trustworthy dog. As my vet put it, “some dogs can’t climb the mountain of their earlier experiences.” The choices outlined for her were few: either find a Sophie Mae a home where she would never come into contact with other dogs and very few people or put her to sleep.
My daughter, who runs a small non-profit dog rescue, knows all to well what happens to most “iffy” rescued pitbulls: they bounce from home to home or shelter to shelter. If they are placed, they are lost to the original owner. My daughter could not face the idea of Sophie, her beautiful, sweet lapdog shivering in a kennel surrounded by the dogs that terrified her, or rotated through a series of foster homes where she would never be at ease because most foster homes, wonderful people that they are, have more than one dog. Or kept away from small children because no one can take a risk with a potentially aggressive dog—pitbull or not. Or worst of all somehow ending up in the hands of a monster to be used as a “sparring partner.”
Dog fighting is a crime whose victims suffer throughout their lifetime. I am glad that many of Michael Vick’s dogs were salvageable, that they were able to overcome a horrifying and inhumane past and learn to trust and play and be happy again. But not all such dogs have happy endings. While Michael Vick and other criminals are offered the choice of rehabilitation that choice wasn’t open to Sophie Mae. She was doomed from the beginning by things done to her as a puppy by savages on two legs. Yes. I am emotional. I am angry. I am sad. Because yesterday afternoon my husband and I took our Sophie Mae to our wonderful, compassionate vet to be euthanized. My daughter simply could not do it. So I sat with Sophie’s head in my lap during the process. I kissed her cheek and scratched her ear and whispered over and over that she was the best dog in the world. And it broke my heart.
There are no good options for a dog like Sophie Mae. No second chances to rejoin the doggy equivalent of the NFL. Just death.
I’ll miss her sweet face and her warm body curled up next to mine, the goofy way she leapt around a Bonz treat as if she’d just had a hundred years of Christmases thrown at her at once. I’ll miss her happy grinning face when she burst through the front door of our house looking for me. I’ll miss her teasing my spaniel by racing by him carrying his favorite ball. I’ll miss her somersaults onto the couch. I’ll miss her nibbling on my earlobe. I’ll miss her sighs of contentment and her woofs of doggy joy.
May a thousand Christmases await you, Sophie Mae. Until we meet again.
“> Four years ago, I came home from booktour and found an exasperated husband. He’d ordered my Valentine’s Day present, they’d lied about how long it would take to be delivered, so all he had for me was a card. Actually, two cards. One from him. One from the dogs. But he kept saying things like, “I was going to have everything re-arranged when you got here,” and “I don’t know how many delivery guys they’re sending,” and most important, “I don’t know when it’s going to get here because I can’t track it.”
Huh? It sounded like furniture, but I kept looking around the house thinking, “A dining room table? No, he wouldn’t dare.” “A new desk? No, he wouldn’t dare.” I had no idea what it could be.
Now, Scott is like most guys. He seems insulted by the idea that he should kept track of the things I want so he can buy them for me on those weird celebrations like, oh, say, my birthday. In fact, despite the six million commercials and billboards and personal reminders, Christmas always seems to catch him by surprise. (“I didn’t have time to shop! I’ve been busy!”) Yeah, yeah.
But sporadically he does something wonderful. On one of our anniversaries — not a milestone anniversary, just an anniversary — he gave me a series of packages. A plant. A pair of green pajamas. A green sweater. (Do you sense a theme?) The last two gifts were a pair of emerald earrings and a gorgeous emerald ring. Years ago, he drove my mother and my sister to the mall, found a sweater wrap he liked, and bought it. This story is only notable for my sister’s comment — “What is this? Christina’s Thursday gift?” The occasion I remember most fondly was a time we were moving. The kids were little. Scott and I had been up all night packing. First thing in the morning he went out for more tape (or something) and came back with doughnuts. I almost cried with joy. Yep, folks, the way to Christina’s heart is sugar and fat-fried dough glazed with more sugar and fat.
Back to my Valentine’s Day present — Scott finally gets the call that it’s coming between 8am and noon. He tells me I have to get up before the delivery people arrive.
So it’s something in the bedroom???
They drive up. I steadfastly don’t look. But I know it’s so wide they’re having trouble getting it through the front door. I’m berserk with curiosity. They leave, and I finally get to look.
Well ... have you seen those massage chairs? The really really good ones? The ones that massage your neck and shoulders when you’ve been typing so long all your muscles are in knots? OH MY GOD!!! Just ... OH MY GOD!!!
Here’s the description:
The Lifestyle™ Chair features eight primary massage modes including: Swedish, Kneading, Hawaiian, Percussion, Compression, Tapping, Shiatsu and Rolling. For your convenience it has four pre-programmed modes: Shiatsu, Swedish, Stretch and 5-minute Quick Massage, as well as Full, Upper and Lower Back programs. Full-body stretching releases tension in back and hips. Calf massage soothes and reinvigorates tired calves and legs.
OH MY GOD!!!
“> There’s only one thing that can make you, um … wow. The Shiatsu. Nice. Very, very nice. … One thing … stretch those legs, baby! Stretch them! … One thing that makes you feel this good … whoa. When I push that button, the rollers up and down and back and forth … There’s only one thing that can me you feel this good, and it’s ... well, yes, that, for sure. But the other thing that makes you feel this good is … oh, yes. Right there. A little to the left. Yes, yes, YES!!! … A book! IN BED WITH THE DUKE And that scene with the sex...while he’s wearing a mask…
OH MY GOD!!!