Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for October, 2015

Children and Pets in Romances

The ideal romance features a sexy hero and an intrepid heroine. They meet. They fall in love, and they live happily ever after. But life is messy, and these days romance writers take a leaf from reality. They include some of the things we find in our own lives. There are divorces, remarriages, blended families. There are single parents with children, with pets.

Along with the man-woman thing, couples have to juggle children and pets and the courtship phase before they decide they can take their romance further.

Bella

Some readers don’t like their romances polluted with children or pets. Some readers have enough children and pets at home and don’t want to read about them too. For some people, kids are the ultimate contraception!

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of including children or pets in your romance:

1. Kids and pets need looking after all the time, which means romantic adventures require planning in order to guarantee privacy.

2. Kids can’t be trusted not to blurt out things they shouldn’t.

3. Kids and pets can make characters shine and show their softer emotional sides.

4. Kids and pets provide fodder for cute meets and sometimes matchmaking opportunities.

5. Kids are determined, and if they don’t like you, they will let you know. Their dislike gets in the way of romance.

6. Think of the worst time for a kid to interrupt, and they’ll probably time the interruption to the second.

7. Dogs have sharp teeth, and have no problem with using them.

8. Pets are easier to foist off on friends and neighbors.

9. Kids require babysitting if you’re going to move the romantic action somewhere other than home.

10. Romantic scenes usually have to take place in the bedroom. None of this trying out every room in the house, and forget the kinky stuff!

My personal thoughts on kids, pets and romance? I love reading about pets in romances, but for children it depends on the author execution. Sometimes children work and enrich a romance and other times, they feel as if they’re in the way.

What do you think? Do you like romances featuring kids and pets? Dislike them?

Grab a Bargain! Merry & Seduced at 99c

ShelleyMunro_MerryandSeduced_650

Merry & Seduced is on sale for two days – 29th and 30th October as part of the Fang Fest 99c sale. Grab your copy from your favorite online retailer and find more bargains here at Paranormal Romance Lovers

Order Merry & Seduced at: Amazon| All Romance| Barnes & Noble| iBooks US| iBooks NZ|Kobo

Dining at the Plaka, Athens

Athens_Dining

The Plaka is the neighborhood below the base of the Acropolis. It’s full of houses, shops and restaurants and is a fun place to wander and explore. We’ve dined in this restaurant before – it’s a family run restaurant and they come out with a tray of different seasonal dishes. You pick the ones you want then enjoy the meal. The food was delicious, and we sat on the deck above the Plaka watching everyone who walked past. It was the perfect way to rest after our morning of sightseeing.

Here is the link to my last visit and for a tzatziki recipe.

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Bread

Lemon Pepper Bread

This is another new recipe, and it comes from Essential Vegetarian. The mixture is very like a scone recipe, and you could form this into individual shapes rather than a loaf.

Ingredients:

250 grams (2 cups) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons lemon pepper – if you don’t have this use 1 teaspoon of grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper

50 grams (1 3/4 oz) butter

1 Tablespoon of chives – chopped

90 grams (3/4 cup) cheese – grated

2 teaspoons white vinegar

185 ml (3/4 cup) milk

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 210C (425F) and line tray with baking paper.

2. Combine flour, salt, lemon pepper in bowl and rub in butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Combine the milk and the vinegar together. This might curdle but that is fine.

4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture  and combine until it forms a soft dough.

5. Turn onto a floured board and knead lightly. Divide mixture in two and form into a rounds. Score each round into eight wedges.

6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the rounds are golden and they sound hollow when the bottoms are tapped.

Shelley’s Notes:

1. I cooked mine in a loaf tin and made one loaf instead of two rounds.

2. You could also make small individual scones.

3. This loaf is best eaten on the day, warm from the oven, but I toasted slices the next day, and that worked well too.

They’re Changing the Guard

Athens_Soldiers

Hubby and I caught the train from the Olympic Stadium to the huge square (Syntagma Square). This is where the changing of the presidential guard takes place. Evidently, the guards are chosen for their height, good physical condition and character and there is lots of training before soldiers can join this unit of guards.

It was fascinating watching them parade backwards and forwards. The soldiers guard for an hour and must stand still. When it is time to change position they move in slow motion with these high steps. I’ve read that the slow motion is to protect their blood circulation.

The day we were there, there was another man inspecting them and critiquing their change. One of the soldiers went slightly off-course and the inspector wandered over to get him to straighten.

It was a fun ceremony to watch, the pom-poms on their shoes are very cute, but it was very hot. I was glad I wasn’t the one standing motionless then high-stepping!

It’s Bedlam!

Bedlam!

According to www.dictionary.reference.com bedlam is a scene or state of wild uproar and confusion. Synonyms for bedlam include disorder, tumult, chaos, clamor, turmoil, commotion, and pandemonium. If someone says, “The place was bedlam!” we know there was trouble and a lot of confusion.

But there’s more to the word.

Bedlam originated as a common and popular name for the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London. The hospital was a lunatic asylum and many families left relatives there in order to hide them. It was also a place where husbands could leave wives who had become inconvenient, since it was widely known that women of the time were mentally unstable. Thank goodness times have changed!

The patients were chained to walls and posts and conditions were terrible. During the 18th century, in an effort to raise funds for the hospital, anyone with the price of admission could enter the hospital and visit the patients. Originally it was expected that the visitors would help the hospital raise money and bring food for the patients. That didn’t happen as the visitors treated the patients like a sideshow. They laughed and jeered, poked and teased the patients and threw things at them, inciting them to acts of madness. Bedlam was part of the tourist trail and these visits continued from 1720 – 1770.

Mistress of MerrivaleIn Mistress of Merrivale, Jocelyn, the heroine resists her sisters’ attempts to place their mother in Bedlam. She hates to think of her mother in a place like this and makes a point of looking after her parent. As one of the conditions of her arranged marriage with Leo Sherbourne, she insists he give her mother a home with them.

Elizabeth Townsend is spared from residing at Bedlam.

Bedlam was a tourist site during the 18th century. If you were to visit London either during the 18th century or now, which tourist site would be on your to-do list?

13 All Black and Rugby Facts

Thursday Thirteen

The World Cup Rugby tournament is currently underway in Britain, and as I write this the quarter-finalists have been decided after several weeks of pool play. I’ve been cheering for the New Zealand team.

Thirteen All Black Facts

1. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby union team.

2. They start each International game with the haka, a Maori war dance.

3. Their name, the All Blacks, comes from their uniform, which is a black jersey with a silver fern and black shorts. They were first referred to as the All Blacks in 1905.

4. The All Blacks won the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

5. The next time they won the cup was in 2011, and the team is attempting to be the first team to win back-to-back world cups.

6. The All Blacks were the 2014 Rugby Team of the year and are presently ranked the number one team in the world. I hope that record stays in place for the rest of the year!

7. The current captain, Ritchie McCaw is the most capped player in the world. He has played 145 games (probably more by now!)

8. Rugby union was introduced to New Zealand by Charles Monro in 1870. He discovered the sport while attending Christ’s College in Finchley, England.

9. The first recorded game in New Zealand took place in Nelson between Nelson Club and Nelson College.

10. A New Zealand representative team toured Britain in 1905. They are known as The Originals.

11. An Originals rugby shirt recently went to auction in Cardiff and sold for $275000.

12. International rugby was suspended during the First World War but a New Zealand services team competed in the King’s cup, a services competition.

Rugby Jersey

13. All Black Dan Carter holds the record for the most points scored – 1552 as at the beginning of October and hopefully more by the end of the World Cup tournament.

What is your favorite sport to play or watch?

Sources: Wikipedia and AllBlacks.com

Review: Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Flowers From The StormI read Flowers from the Storm many years ago and loved it. This year, I noticed there was an audio version, and I grabbed a copy. I wanted to see if the story had stood the test of time and was as good as I remembered. It was narrated by Nicholas Boulton.

Here is the blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

Review:

The Duke of Jervaulx is a scoundrel. Quaker, Maddy Timms knows this, yet the man still fascinates her. Christian, the duke is suffering from headaches, and when he’s called out by an enraged husband, he collapses. In truth, he has suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. The doctors and his relatives think he is a lunatic and he is sent to an asylum. The asylum, an old country estate, is run by Maddy Timms’s Uncle Edward, and she is astonished to discover the duke is a patient. Most people think he is dead.

The duke is confused and finds it difficult to speak and communicate. He’s chained or bound in a straight jacket and despairs of ever getting out of the asylum where his family have sent him. His mother, sisters and brothers-in-law are after his money and property and are willing to have him legally declared a lunatic to seize the prize. Maddy spends time with Christian, nurses him and gradually, she gets him to trust her. He falls in love with her, but Maddy tries to stick to her Quaker faith.

Things I loved about this story:

1. The plot.

There are hundreds of historical romances featuring dukes. Mostly, the heroines are young girls of good families. Flowers from the Storm has a duke. He’s intelligent and enjoys advanced mathematics, he likes hot chocolate and he has a terrible reputation. He’s having an affair with a married woman. Maddy is a Quaker. She speaks with thee and thous, she dresses plainly and believes all are equal. No courtesy titles for her. Everyone is addressed in the same manner. Much of the story takes place in the asylum and the duke is unable to communicate. The plot is so far removed from balls and the London season that it stands out as original.

2. The characters.

The duke is arrogant even though he can’t communicate. He’s in a dangerous position and fears spending the rest of his life in the asylum. His family certainly want him there. Maddy is prim and proper and the contrast between the hero and heroine really works. Watching them fall in love is amazing.

3. The sense of urgency.

Throughout the story, Christian’s family want to take control. Maddy needs to help him prepare to pass the competency hearing. There is a sense of the ticking clock.

4. The narrator.

He was very good and did a great job.

Things I didn’t like quite as much:

1. Maddy’s insistence on sticking to Quaker ways. I think it is hard for the modern reader to understand her insistence on sticking to the plain way of life and her beliefs. Most readers would wonder why she held out for so long and didn’t return the duke’s love. The reader needs to buy into her strong beliefs, I think, and trust that she will do the right thing, no matter what.

Conclusion:

This is a stand-out historical romance and one that deserves all the awards and excellent reviews. The audio version was just as good as the book I read all those years ago. I loved it. Highly recommended.

A Lady in Red Walks into a Marquee

My Scarlet Woman is out today.

Emily wants one perfect night of passion, but what she wants and what she gets are two very different things!

My Scarlet Woman

My Scarlet Woman is a reissue of Scarlet Woman and includes additional material. It is the first book in my Middlemarch Shifters series.

A Marble Stadium

Athens_Olympic Stadium

Still in Athens, Greece. This is the Panathenaic Stadium where the first modern Olympic games took place in 1896. This is the only stadium in the world that is made entirely of marble. This stadium is still used. During the 2004 Olympic games, it was used for archery and was also the finishing line for the marathon.

On the day we visited, the place was full of tourists, although you wouldn’t know it from this photo. It was cool seeing the stadium used over one hundred years ago, and I liked the marble but it wouldn’t be comfortable to sit on. I’d be taking my cushion with me!