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

Archive for November, 2015

A New Christmas Story

I thought I’d share the cover for Festive & Seduced, a Christmas story that is part of my House of the Cat series.

Festive & Seduced

What do you think?

Win Amazon Gift Cards!

This month, I’m taking part in two different promotions featuring Amazon gift cards as prizes.

The Romance Event of the Holidays

TheRomanceEventof the Holidays

The link for the rafflecopter is here. There are also lots of other contests on The Romance Event of the Holidays event page plus fun  and chatter. Come over and join in with the fun.

I Love Vampires Giveaway

Shelley-Munro-Facebook

Win a $30 Amazon gift card – just follow this link and enter to go into the draw.

Good luck!

13 Things About Anything Goes

Thursday Thirteen

Last weekend, we flew over to Sydney in Australia to go to a show at the Royal Opera House. We saw an oldie but a goodie—Anything Goes.

Thirteen Things About Anything Goes

1. Anything Goes is a musical.

2. The music and the song lyrics were written by the famous Cole Porter.

3. The show debuted in 1934 at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway (now known as the Neil Simon Theatre)

4. The show has been in many theatres around the world and has been filmed twice.

5. The story takes place on an ocean liner (cruise ship) during the voyage from New York to London.

6. Some of the famous songs include Anything Goes, I Get A Kick Out of You and You’re the Top.

7. The original book was written by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse.

8. Once the passengers board the ship shenanigans ensue. Billy Crocker has fallen in love at first sight with a woman who he discovers is an heiress. She is aboard the ship with her mother and is going to marry Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Billy stows away in the hope of winning his love. Throw in a few gangsters, a stern mother, a fake minister and a missionary plus a nightclub singer and everything goes wrong before it goes right again.

9. We attended the 2015 Australian revival, which stars Caroline O’Connor as Reno Sweeney, the nightclub singer. She was fabulous.

10. Ethel Merman played Reno in the 1954 television version of the show.

11. The show has been nominated and has won many awards and accolades since it first played in 1934.

12. The songs from the show have been performed in other movies and television shows such as Blazing Saddles, Evil Under the Sun, Gilmore Girls, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mission Impossible to name a few.

13. And here is a video of Anything Goes with Caroline O’Connor in the lead. This particular video was shot in Melbourne, early in 2015.

By the time I left the Opera House, my feet wanted to tap.

Have you seen this show? Are you a fan of live shows?

Source: Wikipedia.

The Pros and Cons of a Friends with Benefits Relationship

Meet Connor Grey and Maggie Drummond from The Bottom Line. They’re long time friends and currently both single. To Maggie’s surprise, Connor suggests a friends with benefits arrangement out of the blue.

So, what are friends with benefit? What are the pros and cons of such a relationship?

A friend with benefits is someone who you can hook up with for no-strings sex. It’s more than a one-night fling, but it’s not a steady romantic relationship either.

These days it’s sometimes difficult to find time to do the whole dating thing and pursue a relationship, especially with full-on careers. Some adults choose to sleep with a friend they trust without any expectations. It’s a way of having string-free sex without the hassle of hitting the pubs and clubs—all the fun without the problems.

This type of relationship does come with problems.

One of the parties can become emotionally involved. Sometimes it’s difficult for a person to keep the emotional distance necessary to make this sort of relationship work. Women typically become more involved and feel everything more. This can present difficulties because the last thing the relationship needs is jealousy when one of the friends has a date with someone else.

The solution to this problem is to set ground rules before the start of the relationship. Safe sex is a must. Decide if you want to tell your friends, and talk frankly about your expectations. Honesty is key and both parties need to keep to the set boundaries.

The Bottom LineConnor and Maggie decide to go ahead with their friends with benefits arrangement, although it doesn’t quite turn out how they expect.

Here’s a short excerpt where they first discuss their arrangement.

“I have an idea, but I need a kiss first.”

Smiling, Maggie leaned close and pressed her lips against his cheek. She moved back before he had a chance to react.

“That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.” Blood rushed through his veins, his heart thudding against his ribs in an erratic manner. Hell, sex between them would be good, if this innocent little kiss was any indication. “A real kiss.”

Connor closed the distance between them and grasped her head firmly in his hands. She jumped at his touch, stared at him, a spark of indefinable emotion darkening the golden brown of her eyes to chocolate. His gaze dropped to her mouth. God, he’d always loved her mouth, fantasized about kissing it, seeing her lips wrapped around his cock. He snorted inwardly. Like that idea would score him points. Connor brushed his lips against hers. Soft. So soft. The rest of his body went on high alert, cock filling to press against his fly.

She sighed and he took advantage, slipping his tongue inside to taste her. Coffee and a faint minty flavor danced across his taste buds. At first he kept the kiss slow and gentle, then he lifted his head to study her. He liked the dreamy expression on her face, but he enjoyed kissing her more. He wanted her to respond to his kiss, needed to know she felt even a little like he did. Her eager lips and the hands threading through his hair, holding him in place as he wrapped his arms around her again, shot all his doubts to hell.

Slowly, he pulled back. They were both breathing fast. “Okay. That answered my question.”

Maggie smoothed her tongue over her bottom lip and watched him with a touch of confusion. Judging by her expression, she thought she’d taken a wrong turn from the bathroom and stepped into an alternative reality. “What question?”

“Would you be interested in a friends with benefits deal with me?” He held his breath and waited for her answer, knowing he’d never wanted something so much in all his life.

Her mouth opened and closed three times. “Friends with benefits? You mean…we’d sleep together?”

“If we weren’t seeing anyone else.” Damn, please don’t say no. His gut jumped with nerves. He’d pushed her too hard. Of course she’d reject his offer and wonder about his motives.

Maggie picked up her mug and took a sip of coffee, grimacing faintly. She stood and walked over to the coffeemaker, returning with the carafe. “Do you want a top up?”

“Sure.” He held out his mug.

She took a long time, fiddling with the coffee, the mugs and the Granny Smith apples sitting in the fruit bowl.

“Are you going to say something?” he asked.

“Doesn’t a deal like this have the potential to blow up in our faces?”

“Why should it?” he asked, trying to convince her. “We’re not kids.”

“I still don’t understand why you’d choose me.” She started pacing up and down, making him nervous.

“You’re a friend. I like you. I trust you.” Connor wasn’t going to ignore the many pitfalls. That wouldn’t be smart. “We’d set boundaries before we started anything between us. Stop pacing. Sit next to me. I’m not gonna bite.” Not yet, but if things went his way he would in the future. He’d enjoy marking her, leaving her body wearing his badge of possession.

Grab your copy: Samhain Publishing| All Romance eBooks| Barnes & Noble| Amazon|Koboicon| iBooks|
Order print: Samhain Publishing| Amazon| Barnes & Noble| Book Depository|

Do you enjoy reading stories about friends-to-lovers or friends with benefits?

Real Life Cat Burglars

A cat burglar is a thief who breaks into homes to steal personal property. They take their name from real life cats since cats are stealthy, quiet creatures that approach their prey without causing alarm.

The human variety of cat burglar slips inside unnoticed, taking what he wants and disappearing again before the victim notices a theft has occurred. Essentially, a cat burglar breaks and enters. It’s against the law yet cat burglars have appeared in some of my favorite romance stories and movies.

Today I thought I’d tell you about two real-life cat burglars.

Estate agent, Bill Mason plundered more than $70 million worth of jewels over three decades. According to him there was no thrill quite so big as hanging from a parapet 200 feet above the ground while a hoard of diamonds and gold was only a few feet away, his for the taking, if he could hold his nerve.

He was attractive, charismatic and debonair with old-age mystique and very good at his job, never once resorting to violence. He lived a double life for twenty-five years, married to his childhood sweetheart, Barbara. He drove his three kids to school and sports matches, invited the neighbors over for barbeques and worked in his legitimate property business. At night, he robbed the rich, sinking the funds from his heists into real estate and investments. His wife had no idea and assumed his money came from hard work and judicious borrowing. He always had a good excuse for his night time absences.

According to Mason, he had a good head for heights and worked to maintain strong hands because a thief needs to find one way to get inside that no one expects and that means climbing.

The FBI finally caught up with him and he did a stint in prison. You can read his story in Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief

The second cat burglar is of the feline variety. Frankie, a two-year-old cat has stolen 35 plush toys during the last year. He skulks into houses, steals their small stuffed animals and takes his ill-gotten gains home, sneaking them through his cat flap. His owner, Julie Bishop, says, “He doesn’t really play with them. He dumps them in the same spot at home and goes looking for more.”

Frankie has collected stuffed teddy bears, a giant squeaky hamburger but favors a small leopard toy. He has more than a dozen of the same spotted leopard toy. Here’s a link to the story plus a photo of Frankie with some of his stolen loot. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2008/12/10/2008-12-10_reallife_cat_burglar_stealing_kitty_toys.html

Because I’ve enjoyed reading cat burglar romances in the past, I decided to write my own. Let me introduce Cat Burglar in Training.

Cat Burglar in Training

Here is the blurb:

Eve Fawkner had no intention of following in her father’s footsteps. But when the thugs harassing him to repay his gambling debts threaten her young daughter, Eve is forced to assume the role of London’s most notorious cat burglar, The Shadow. The plan is simple: pull off a couple of heists, pay back the goons and go into permanent retirement. But things get messy during her first job when Eve witnesses a murder, stumbles across a clue that sheds some light on her past and, worst of all, falls for a cop.

Inspector Kahu Williams would be the perfect man, if Eve were looking, and if there wasn’t the little matter of their career conflict. The man is seriously hot—and hot on the trail of a murderer. A trail that keeps leading him back to Eve…

Grab your copy at: Carina Press| Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Barnes & Noble| Koboicon|iBooks US| iBooks NZ

Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua is a city in the North Island, which sits on the banks of a lake of the same name. It is well-known for its thermal activity and the entire area smells of sulfur. I don’t mind the “rotten egg” smell, but some people dislike the stench. This is one of the entrances to Government Gardens, a park area with beautiful gardens.

Rotorua is a fun place to visit since there is so much to do. You can visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute to check out the carvings, see the thermal Whakarewarewa area, go luging down a hill or zorbing. Some people like to fish for trout or go boating on the lake. There is also a good sheep shearing and sheep dog show.

One interesting thing is that geysers and bubbling mud pools can appear at any time. It’s not a good area to dig in your garden!

Donkey Sightseeing

Donkey Sightseeing

When we booked our trip to Egypt, this was the part that worried me the most—the donkey ride. I dreaded it, having visions of falling off, yet all these years later, it is the part I remember most. We got up early and it was barely light when we arrived at the donkey meeting point. We were assigned our donkeys and off we went, riding along flat roads toward the hills where the tombs are hidden. It was a leisurely ride along quiet roads, then up a hillside path.

At the entrance to the Valley of the Kings, we trotted past tourists in big coaches. I thought smugly of the fun they had missed out on. Ironic, when this was the part I dreaded!

After our exploration of the tombs, we mounted our donkeys and rode back to Luxor. By this time, my butt was a bit sore. The others were complaining too. Also, the donkeys moved a lot faster on the way home.

It was a brilliant and memorable excursion. I have a soft spot for donkeys.

13 Cinderella Romances

Thursday Thirteen

The fairy tale of Cinderella is one of my favorites, and over the years, many authors have taken the tale and given it their own twist. It’s a romantic tale with a handsome prince, a beautiful heroine, a villain and the traditional happy ending.

Beautiful girl dressed as Cinderella is sitting on the steps

Here are Thirteen Cinderella romances for you to try.

1. Fooling Around with Cinderella by Stacey Juba – What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella’s toes? A blend of sweet romance, chick lit and fairy tale fun.

2. Spellbound Cinderella by Angela Ford – If you had your dream body for only 24 hours… What would you do? One magical pendant gives Tess one wish to use before the clock strikes twelve.

3. Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream – a twisted tale of a maiden cursed to be a loup garou and the werewolf prince whose fate lies in her hands.

4. The Cinderella Princess by Melissa McClone – A scandal-ridden prince must marry a royal if he doesn’t want to be disowned, but he falls for the American sent to find him a princess bride.

5. Amish Cinderella by Rachel Stoltzfus – Set in a whimsical Lancaster County of fantastic possibility grounded in strong Christian values, sixteen-year-old Amish orphan Ella faces constant abuse as she struggles to do all of her own chores as well as those of her two older cousins.

6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – a gifted mechanic in New Beijing and also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

7. Savage Cinderella by P J Sharon – Kidnapped and left for dead, Brinn Hathaway survives for years in the wild, only to be drawn out of hiding by a young nature photographer who steals her heart. Now, Brinn must decide if coming out of hiding is worth the hope—and the danger—that may await her.

8. Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson – Having given up on fairytales after falling for her toad of an ex, Pumpkin is afraid to take a chance on town royalty Manny who believes she may be his soulmate.

9. Nobody’s Cinderella by Joan Reeves – A lie and a wish on a Christmas star…uh oh! This Cinderella should have been careful what she wished for!

10. If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake – Raised in a girls’ school, Annabelle Quinn longs for the world outside the walls of the academy. When she’s hired as the governess to an orphaned duke, Annabelle never expects the child’s breathtakingly handsome guardian to capture her imaginationor her heart.

11. The Cinderella Debutante by Elizabeth Hanbury- Lucy Sinclair’s London Season was cut short by tragedy. Now, five years later, she is returning but only in the shadow of her lovely step-sister. Belinda is determined to catch a titled husband and Alex, Lord Devlyn fits the bill perfectly.

12. Wishful Thinking by Lynette Sofras – A struggling single mother and a pop-icon turned Hollywood star meet in unusual circumstances. Fate drew them together, but the intrigue and trappings of stardom threaten to unravel love’s ties.

13. One Night of Misbehavior by Shelley Munro – He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside. Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.

Do you enjoy Cinderella romances?

Oat Cakes

Oat Rounds

I tried out two new recipes this week, and this is the first. This recipe for Oat Rounds, or what I like to call oat cakes, comes from 100 Sweet Treats and Puds by Mary Berry. I was pleased with the texture, but both hubby and I thought the final result was too sweet.

Ingredients:

50 grams (2 oz) fine sugar

100 grams (4 oz) butter

100 grams (4 oz) porridge oats (oatmeal)

50 grams (2 oz) plain flour

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C or 140C for fan oven and line trays with baking paper.

2. Combine the sugar and butter and beat until creamy.

3. Add the oats and flour and combine.

4. Lightly knead the mixture, flour work surface, and roll out to a thickness of 5mm or 1/4 inch.

5. Cut into rounds with a plain cutter and place on baking trays. Should make around 16 rounds.

6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

7. Cool on a wire rack.

Shelley’s Notes

1. These biscuits were way too sweet. At least they were for my taste. I’d half the sugar the next time.

2. I have a fan oven, and I cooked my biscuits at 140C. They took ages to cook, far longer than the 20 minutes, so I think I’d increase the temperature a little.

3. My mixture kept crumbling when I was rolling it, so I pressed my biscuits into shape. That’s why mine look a bit ragged!

4. They taste great with cheese.

The Alaskan Totem Poles

Totem Pole

We saw lots of cool totem poles while in Vancouver and Alaska. Totem poles are not religious in nature but tell the story of local families, the way they connect and their different rights within the family group. Sometimes they can be used to mock or berate a family or family member who has done something wrong.

Before the arrival of the white man, totem poles tended to be smaller, but with the availability of metal tools, the carvers became more ambitious and the totem poles much taller.

One thing I found interesting is that once a pole is erected it isn’t maintained, but is left to rot. It will be removed if it poses a danger and some topple during winter storms. The poles last for between 60 to 100 years.

We have similar poles in New Zealand, and I did a post about them earlier. You can find the post on pouwhenua here.