Saturday Night Serenade–R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for the Queen

We lost the Queen of Soul this week.
As sad as we are, the remembrances have been uplifting.  Who didn’t love Aretha Franklin?

She transcended musical genre, gender, race, and politics.  She was born in Memphis in 1942, but lived most of her life in Detroit.  She won 18 Grammys over the course of her career and was the first-ever female artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Tonight’s first song is Chain of Fools, one of my favorites.  It featured prominently in the John Travolta movie Michael, but I chose this 50 year old television performance of the song.

I also couldn’t resist this joyous version of Think from 1980’s Blues Brothers.

So how about you?  What’s your favorite?  Comment below and keep the respect going.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Man, It’s a Hot One

August is so hot!
You watch the national weather and you see places where the actual temperature is over 100 for days at a time.  I’ve seen unimaginable temps in Europe, too.  It’s crazy.  Here in south Florida, it’s hot, although not in the 100s.  But I do appreciate air conditioning, for sure.

Smooth by Santana and Rob Thomas is the perfect song for a hot summer night.  I’m loving this live version, although the official video really captures the mood I’m talking about tonight.

I hope you’re relaxing someplace pleasant, maybe enjoying a nice cool drink and appreciating these dog days of summer.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

WARRIOR MINE is Almost Here!

The 4th book in The Dream Dominant Collection comes out Tuesday, August 14!

Like all of the Dream Dominants, this contemporary erotic romance novel featuring a light BDSM theme is a stand-alone story, but WARRIOR MINE is a spin-off from Dream Dominant Book 2, LOST & BOUND.

It came about when readers suggested that a couple of supporting characters, Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker, needed a story of their own.  Initially, I thought it might make a good novella.  But as I went along, the story took on a life of its own, ending up at 115k+ words, the longest single book I’ve ever written.

Which is why it’s well-worth the 99¢ pre-order.  After release day, it will go to its regular price.

Here’s the official blurb.

She is the perfect combination of princess and warrior.

Scott Nielsen and Jackie Walker.
Their attraction is instant from the moment they meet.
But he’s Dominant.  And no way is she submissive.
Is it a missed connection?  Or a divine appointment?

Scott Nielsen is ready for change.  He’s walked away from his career as a wilderness counselor, planning to start his own outdoor survival school.  He looks up his old friend and former colleague Blake Walker, intent on leasing space at Blake’s family’s remote wilderness guest lodge.  That’s where he meets Blake’s sister Jackie, who runs the lodge with her brother’s help.  Her strength and independence intrigue Scott.  A single mom, Jackie has no intention of being anyone’s submissive.

In his personal life, Scott is tired of casual sex in the BDSM club scene.  Envious watching his buddy Blake fall head over heels for his own submissive, Scott thinks he might be ready to take the plunge himself.  As he and Jackie spend time together, he’s enchanted with her inner Warrior Princess.  But Jackie’s been burned before.  And she has two children who are her priority, not to mention the business to run.   As independent as she is, she can’t see relinquishing her power to a man, not even one she’s falling for.

Scott’s heart aches at the idea of not having Jackie in his life.  Can she take another chance on love, or will she insist on ignoring her submissive soul?

If you enjoyed LOST & BOUND, you’ll love this spin-off stand-alone story.

This is the WARRIOR MINE Official Book Trailer.

How about a little sneak peek?

“It’s a gorgeous day,” Scott commented.

“It really is.  I haven’t been out in the woods like this in a long time.”

Scott watched her appraisingly.  “Are you much of a camper?”

“I can hold my own.”  She lifted her chin, and he saw a glint of challenge in her eye.

“I imagine you can,” he smiled to himself.

He watched her dig the toe of her boot into the soft black earth and push it into a small heap.  “So let’s talk, Jackie.”

She exhaled loudly, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw her grip her hands so tightly together, her knuckles were white.

“This makes you nervous,” he observed.

“Well, yeah!  You’re over here wanting me to agree to be some kind of…I don’t know what…slave, I guess.  That’s so not me.”

“You’re right, it’s not.  I see in you a submissive soul, but a slave is not remotely what I have in mind.  Jackie,” he straddled the log to face her, “you’re a strong, smart, sexy lady.  I admire the hell out of you.”

“So why do you want me to give all that up?”

“I don’t want you to give anything up.  I love all those things about you.”  He laughed softly.  “I love that you challenge me.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Jackie’s expression was dubious.  “I don’t understand what you want from me.  Am I supposed to run and jump into your arms like Amy does Blake?”  She rolled her eyes.

Scott had to laugh.  “You’re not a slave, and you’re definitely not a baby girl like Amy, either.”  He gave her a side-long glance.  “Amy’s a sweet girl, but she’d drive me nuts.  A Daddy Dom I am not.”

“Good, because there’s no way I’m calling you Daddy.”

“Our dynamic would be more King and Princess.  You’d call me Sire.”

He was pleased when he saw her reluctant smile.  “All I want is for you to let go and allow me to lead you, to help you be free to be your true self.  You can depend on me, Jackie.”

Restlessly, Jackie got up and paced back and forth.  “It’s not like it’s just me, Scott.  I’m a mother.  I have two kids to care for, and they have to be my priority.  I can’t decide I’m going to just go off and do whatever I want.  Plus, there’s the business…”

She stopped pacing and faced him.  “I’m a whole ‘package deal’.  You don’t need all that.  You should be out meeting women who aren’t so tied down.”

Scott couldn’t stop the smirk as the image of a nude Jackie tied to the posts of a bed flashed through his mind.  She must have realized it because she blushed bright red.

He gave in to the temptation to tease her just a little.  “I’ve met my share of women, Jackie.  Women who don’t mind being tied down.”

He chuckled.  “I’ve done the club scene, and I’m tired of casual sex.  When Blake told me he’d found someone, I must admit, I felt envious.  I took a hard look at my life and I realized it was time to make a change.  I had no idea I’d meet someone so quickly.”

Arms crossed, she stood ten yards away.  He considered going to her, but changed his mind, allowing her space.

“I’m attracted to you, Jackie, in a way I haven’t been to anyone else.  You have no idea how hard it was for me to resist you that night you came to my room.  Hell, to resist you last night.  You’re beautiful, Jackie, in case no one’s told you in a while.  That one perfect exposed breast?  I’ve had dreams about that.”

Jackie blushed, wrapping her arms more tightly around herself.

“Together we have an explosive chemistry.  I know you feel it, too.  I’m dying to take you to the next level.”

Arms still crossed, she shrugged.  “Yeah, we have physical chemistry.  Maybe it’s because it’s been a long time for me, I don’t know.  And I appreciate the things you’ve done, like taking care of things when Emma was sick, and Jesus, you saved Grant’s life.”

She started pacing again.  “And you washed my hair.  I couldn’t believe you did that.    So when you say, Now be my submissive,” she deepened her voice to imitate Scott, “it’s like I owe you.”

“You don’t owe me, Jackie.  I washed your hair because it was what you needed.  That’s what a Dom does.”  He gazed out through the woods and exhaled sharply.  “I think you’ve read too many so-called BDSM books about sadist Dominants.  That’s not what we’re talking about.  We’re talking about safe, sane, and consensual.  Always.”  He looked back at her.  “You can depend on me, Jackie.  I’ve got you.”

She walked to the edge of the clearing, her back to him.  Her voice was small.  “What if I depend on you, and you leave?  I don’t think I could survive that.  Better to be on my own and know what I’m getting.”

“Jackie, I’m not him.  I’m not that guy.”

Scott couldn’t stay away from her any longer.  He approached her, tentatively reaching out to touch her shoulder.  “I’m this guy, right here, asking you to let me share your burden, to lighten your load, and set you free.”

She reached up to put her hand on his.  Her voice was small.  “I don’t know if I can do that.”

Leaning down, he kissed her hand.  “Fair enough.”

WARRIOR MINE is out Tuesday!
You still have time to take advantage
of the 99¢ pre-order.
books2read.com/WarriorMine

Saturday Night Serenade–Down at the Twist and Shout

Hello, August!
It’s the middle of summer, but I always used to dread August, because that means Back-to-School.  But now, while my teacher friends are gearing up for battle, I’m ready to release my 9th book, and I’m 25k words into the next one.  There’s enormous freedom in giving up a steady paycheck for a career that nourishes your soul.

So this Saturday finds me feeling light and happy.  I’ve pulled up an older song that makes me feel the same way.  Mary Chapin Carpenter released Down at the Twist and Shout in 1991, and it won a Grammy the following year.  It just makes me want to go to a country bar and two-step all night.

Look closely–she’s backed up by members of traditional Louisiana cajun/zydeco band BeauSoleil.  I saw them perform once in downtown West Palm Beach as part of a free outdoor concert series, Sundays at the Meyer.  Then-Mayor of WPB (now US Congresswoman) Lois Frankel went through the crowd handing out chocolate chip cookies, which is the part my kids most remember.

I’m tucking in a little BeauSoleil just for fun.

I hope you’re having a relaxing summer weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–One Thing I Love About Summer

One thing I always look forward to in the summer is America’s Got Talent.  I was a reluctant fan, dragged to it kicking and screaming a few years ago.  It’s kind of what Mr. R would call ‘short attention span theatre.’  I mean, it’s just a nationally televised talent show, really.

You might see a kid ventriloquist, someone doing close-up magic, a stand-up comedian, someone pulling a tractor by rings through his nipples, and a singer or two.  But the little gems are what make the show worth watching.

This performance of Africa by the Angel City Chorale was show-stopping.  There’s just something magical that happens when people do something for the joy of it.  It actually moves me to tears.

Originally, the band Toto released Africa in 1982, incidentally the year I graduated from high school.  Which makes it an odd choice for a 14-year-old Weezer fan, who hounded the band on Twitter until they did a cover of the song.

And just because I can’t talk about Weezer without out talking about my favorite song of theirs…

I hope this last weekend of July finds you well, and that you enjoy tonight’s songs.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Breakfast Date

Last Sunday, Mr. R took me to breakfast at one of my most favorite places on the planet.

Howley’s is a West Palm Beach institution, an establishment that describes itself as “Hip diner slinging comfort chow amid ’50s decor with a pressed-tin ceiling, full bar & jukebox.”  It has had the same motto, “Cooked in sight, must be right,” since the place opened in 1950.  After years of neglect, it was taken over by Subculture, who lovingly restored it into the joint it is today, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7am to 2am, except Friday and Saturday when it’s open until 5am.  I may or may not have rolled in drunk in the wee hours of the morning and ordered a grilled cheese and fries to soak up a little alcohol before heading home.

Howley’s is so much more than just a diner.  The place has an open, funky, creative vibe.  Art on display on most available surfaces is for sale.  I have to confess, I had my eye on a pair of photos on canvas–black and whites of a Creature of the Black Lagoon action figure with a surfboard on the beach and on a pier looking out over the water.

There’s even a fantastic outdoor mural by local artist Amanda Valdes on the south wall.

The staff is young, tattooed and pierced, and gender fluid.  Oh, and by the way, the food is great!

Sunday, shortly after we were seated in a retro-style booth, our server, a thin, much tattooed, delightfully gay man came to take our order.  When I started with a mimosa, he drew a heart on his chest and declared that he and I are soul sisters.  As he left to get our drinks, I couldn’t resist.  “I LOVE this place,” I told Mr. R.

We enjoyed our breakfast to a soundtrack of music in keeping with the vibe of the place.  When Still Feel It by Portugal. The Man came on, our server friend (my soul sister), who was helping a nearby table, broke into a fabulous shimmy.  I LOVE THIS PLACE!

I love it so much, in fact, that when I set my award-winning book, FOR SPARROW, in West Palm Beach, I featured Howley’s.  Yes, the book title is a link, just in case you’re looking for a great read.  😉

I hope you like this song.  Fun Fact: It’s the song in the latest Coppertone ad.  It just feels like summer to me.  And funky diners.  And happiness.

Enjoy this balmy summer evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Now I Can Finally Tell You!

For a while, I’ve been on romance reader/author platform Book+Main Bites.  It’s a terrific FREE app that lets you read little snippets of romance books from all kinds of genres, some of them authors you know, some that are new to you.  If you like what you see, there’s a purchase link at the bottom of the snippet.

Some time ago, I was invited to submit a First Kiss bite for an anthology, and it’s finally LIVE at your favorite online bookseller.  And it’s FREE!

Here’s what they want me to tell you:

First Kisses: a Book+Main Bites anthology is LIVE
and FREE on ALL platforms!

Embark on thirty-nine scenes of first kisses from favorite romance authors in a multitude of genres.

From Dukes to Highlanders, Shifters to Vampires and a variety of genres in between, binge on these unforgettable first kiss moments, and experience the euphoria that only that first touch of the lips can bring.

Read a Bite from your tried and true favorites, or delve into a new author’s world and become hooked.

This Book+Main Bites anthology is meant to introduce readers to new authors through their words.

Amazon–>http://smarturl.it/FirstKissesBM
iBooks–> http://smarturl.it/FirstKissesIB
Kobo–>http://smarturl.it/FirstKissesKobo
B&N–>http://smarturl.it/FirstKissesBN