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

Archive for the 'Book Research' Category

It’s All About Family

ShelleyMunro_MyScarletWoman_200pxAll the Middlemarch Shifter stories are set in my home country of New Zealand. I didn’t start out to write a series. In fact my aim was to write a paranormal story featuring black leopard shifters. But it soon became obvious that the brothers I’d given Saber Mitchell, the hero of My Scarlet Woman, weren’t there for decoration. The Mitchell brothers were a close-knit family, and all of Saber’s brothers wanted their time in the spotlight. Then there is Emily, the heroine of My Scarlet Woman, who will turn into quite the matchmaker as the series advances. Her presence in the Mitchell family helps to shape many of the Middlemarch Shifter stories.

At the start of My Scarlet Woman, Saber Mitchell is tired of his younger brothers creating chaos in the town of Middlemarch. They and their friends are always getting into trouble. And I mean always! Saber is starting to worry about gray hair and his sanity. Finally the town elders hatch a plan to hold a singles ball. They figure they’ll do a little matchmaking. A few good women will settle the troublemakers right down. But oops! Saber gets caught in his own trap. One glimpse of Emily Scarlet and Saber is toast.

Ten Things About Family According to Mitchell Law

1. Younger brothers exist for the sole purpose of driving their older brothers crazy, and big brothers are excellent targets for teasing.

2. Family members love you warts and all and know exactly which buttons to push to create chaos.

3. Brothers are the best when you need someone in your corner.

4. Big brothers change once they get married—for the better.

5. Sisters-in-law aren’t so bad, especially if they can cook.

6. Try to avoid sisters-in-law who want to make everyone else as happy as they are.

7. Expectation from family members can be tough.

8. Beware matchmaking sisters-in-law. It bears repeating!

9. Family is always there for you, no matter how big the problem.

10. Family is everything. Family rules.

I’m the oldest in my family, and my two younger siblings used to drive me nuts. Now that we’re adults things are much better! Which order do you come in your family? Do your siblings drive you nuts?

Mush! Dog Sledding Mendenhall Glacier #travel

JuneauDogSledding

This was my trip highlight. We flew by helicopter to the top of the Mendenhall glacier and then went sledding. Amazing! Absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to do it again. This is hubby saying hello to one of the sled dogs.

Romance on a Shoestring

The hero in my current work-in-progress has money problems, and his marriage is suffering because he is working such long hours.

A romantic date

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a dollar stretch to cover necessities, let alone having enough to spare for romance. But that doesn’t mean romance needs to take a back seat. Here are some ideas to keep the romance alive that won’t hurt the budget.

Inexpensive Ideas to Keep the Romance Alive

1. Write a love letter to your sweetie.

2. Make a special romance pack. You could include a special music playlist, a candle, bubble bath or scented lotion, massage oil.

3. Turn on some romantic music and  slow dance together.

4. Take a picnic to the park and play on the swings.

5. Watch the sunrise or sunset.

6. Swap babysitting services with a family member or friend. Make a nice dinner at home, watch a movie and enjoy the togetherness without the kids. Christen every room in the house…if you catch my drift.

7. Read a sexy romance together

8. Make an at-home dinner special with candles. Add soft, romantic music.

9. Go for a walk in the countryside.

10. Sit outside on a nice evening and star-gaze.

11. Surprise your partner with a lunch date during the working week.

12. Kiss before you part for the day—a proper kiss that will make the pulse-rate pound!

Do you have any other suggestions for my poor cash-strapped hero?

Burano, the Colorful Venetian Island

During our visit to Venice we caught the vaporetto (waterbus) to nearby islands Murano and Burano. Murano is well known for glassmaking while Burano is famous for lace.

My favorite of the two was Burano with its colorful buildings.

Burano Buildings

Some of the buildings alongside the canal.

Burano

Laundry Day

And it’s laundry day…

Burano

A local on the canal.

Mask Stall

Colorful masks ready for carnivale…

Now tell me – if you could paint your house any color you wanted, which color would you choose? I vote for pink Smile

Venice, the Romantic Destination #Travel

In a walk down memory lane, and because I’m planning to use a Venetian setting in an upcoming book, I was looking at some of the photos we took during our visit. Venice is a romantic city, and my favorite thing to do whenever I have a chance to visit is to wander and explore all the tiny back streets. Getting lost is part of the fun, although if I’m with hubby we’re seldom lost. He has an excellent inner GPS.

Here are a few photos of Venice:

St Marco Square

This is a view of the Doge’s Palace and the entrance to St Mark’s Square taken from the cruise ship as we arrived at Venice.

Venice Market

Regular visitors already know how much hubby and I love markets. These hot peppers caught my attention because they look like bunches of flowers. The market in Venice is amazing.

Bride and Groom, Venice

This bride and groom were having their wedding photos taken, just off St Mark’s Square. What did I tell you? Romantic.

Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs

This is a view of the Bridge of Sighs, which connects the palazzo with the prison. This photo was taken from the cruise ship. During our visit, we did a tour of the Doge’s Palace, which we pre-booked. Along with the palatial rooms, we saw the secret rooms where the “worker bees” hung out. We stepped through an ornate door from the palace proper into plan rooms that were very simply furnished. Photos weren’t allowed, but it was still very interesting, the contrasts between the two halves amazing. It was like stepping into another world. We also walked across the Bridge of Sighs and saw Casanova’s cell—the one from which he escaped. I highly recommend this tour, if you ever visit Venice.

Canal Traffic

The canal traffic was constant. Small ferries, barges loaded with cargo, baggage boats heading to hotels, gondolas, ambulance and fire boats. It’s amazing sitting at a cafe and watching the world pass by…

Canal traffic

More canal traffic.

Palazzos

The canal view of some of the old palazzos and gardens. Some of them are beautiful and I can only imagine what they look like inside. Maybe next visit…

Looking through the photos again has given me some great ideas for my story. I can’t wait to get writing.

Have you visited Venice?

Peanut Butter and Cat Burglars @CarinaPress #Romance

The Benefits of Peanut Butter by Shelley Munro

Most people think of peanut butter as a sandwich spread or maybe an ingredient in cookies. I like peanut butter on toast. My husband loathes the stuff and refuses to eat it. Peanut butter, according to him, is only fit as an ingredient for Bella’s dog biscuits. Our puppy Bella certainly doesn’t make any protests about the peanut butter.

Cat Burglar in TrainingWhile I was going through the editing stage of my contemporary mystery romance Cat Burglar in Training, I came upon a comment from my wonderful editor, Deborah Nemeth. She wrote, “Why didn’t anyone hear Eve (our cat burglar) break the window when she entered the building?”

“Heck,” I muttered. “How should I know?”

I continued with my edits, filing the problem away to mull over while I walked the dog. I returned from walking the dog none the wiser. Did Eve risk being heard and simply break the window, or did she open it with some handy-dandy tool from her cat burglar tool kit?

Eve is new to the job of cat burglar, taking over from her father who is unable to scale trees and walls because of his arthritis. She knows the basics but is definitely still finding her feet.

Yikes! How on earth is she going to enter the building? How am I going to fix this?

In the end I googled, and surprisingly, there was an answer.

Peanut butter! Who knew?

Here’s a brief excerpt from Cat Burglar in Training, showing how Eve managed to beat the problem without alerting the owners.

I scaled the wall in no time, stubbornly ignoring the pain in my arse. A ledge, a few inches wide, provided a place for me to collect myself. With a deep breath, I pulled a spoon and a jar of smooth peanut butter from my pack and plastered a thick layer on the window pane. Next, I retrieved a tube of cardboard cut to size—well, a fairly accurate guesstimate—and carefully pressed the cardboard to the peanut butter. A sharp tap with my hammer cracked the glass, but the sound was minimal. I replaced my tools in my pack, placed the glass-covered cardboard aside and reached through to open the lock. My entry via the nursery room window was clean and professional.

There you go. Problem solved. That’s how to enter a building without alerting the inhabitants.

What is your favorite use for peanut butter? Do you like it, or are you like my husband and avoid it at all costs?

Cat Burglar in Training is currently available for 99c at some retailers.

Purchase at: Carina Press| Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Nook| Koboicon| iBooks US|

Lucien St Clare, The Spurned Viscountess @CarinaPress #historical

Meet the hero from The Spurned Viscountess, a historical romance set in 1720 England.

Lucien

Name: Lucien St Clare

Title: Viscount Hastings

Age: mid-twenties

Appearance: Tall, over six foot. Long dark black hair. Mahogany brown eyes. Tanned skin since he spends a lot of time outdoors. His face is scarred, the puckered scar running from his left eye to his jaw.

Hangouts: He currently lives at Castle St. Clare in East Sussex, England. Prior to this, he lived in Italy, near Naples on the Bacci estate with his wife, Francesca.

Reason for the move: Fragments of his forgotten memory have started to return to him, memories that place him in England. He can’t remember much about St. Clare at all. Yep, he has nasty amnesia.

Reason for staying: Someone from the area murdered his wife and their unborn child. He’s desperate for revenge.

Big problem: The Earl of St. Clare expects him to go through with an arranged marriage to Rosalind, a small English mouse of a woman.

In Lucien’s words.

“Everyone tells me my name is George, that I’m the long lost heir, Viscount Hastings. I could leave and return to the Bacci estates in Italy, but I burn for revenge. Those bastards who murdered my wife and unborn child must pay for their crimes. Someone called Hawk ordered her murder. It seems a coincidence there’s a Hawk operating the smuggling ring—too much of a happenstance in my opinion. I’m investigating, looking for clues, but meantime I have to deal with my new wife. She’s small, blond and reminds me of a mouse. I tried to put her off the idea of marriage to me, but she was set on the marriage.

She’s not very good at following orders and I’m forever running across her in places I told her not to visit. Trouble is her middle name. She’s stubborn, frustrating, irritating and she’s getting under my skin. I find myself thinking about her at the oddest moments…”

The Spurned Viscountess Blurb:

The Spurned ViscountessShe must marry him.

Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind’s only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn’t expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her.

He wants nothing to do with her.

Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry, not when he’s plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir.

Dark secrets will bind them.

Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close, and tempted into passionate kisses, Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife…

Currently on sale for 99c at some retailers.

Purchase at: Carina Press| Amazon Kindle| All Romance eBooks| Kobo| iBooks| Nook|

Tales of the New Zealand Eagle

During our recent visit to Alaska we saw quite a few eagles and I saw their nests. The Bald Eagle is an impressive bird with a huge wingspan.

Eagle

What most people don’t realize is that New Zealand was home to the world’s largest eagle for thousands of years. The Haast eagle had a wing span of 2.9 meters and weighed as much as 13 kilograms. It looked like a golden eagle and stood almost a meter tall and had bright eyes and a black hooked beak. Its massive yellow legs were said to be as thick as a child’s wrist. Its wings were a darker brown and had a lighter underside.

The Haast eagle used to perch at a high vantage point and would dive-bomb its prey with deadly force.

According to sources, these birds would have a chick every second year, and they would have a life expectancy of twenty to thirty years. They used to feed on moa, a large flightless bird, which was hunted to extinction. It was also said the eagle would capture young children with ease.

I enjoy taking parts of New Zealand history, the flora and fauna and using them in my books. The Haast eagle had a starring role in book one of my Middlemarch Capture series, Snared by Saber.

What do you think? Can you imagine an eagle that big?

I Like Leopards, I Cannot Lie

I love feline shifters.

There’s just something graceful and powerful about big cats that makes them excellent heroes and heroines. Leopards are my favorites when it comes to big cats, and I’ve written over a dozen romances featuring them, although occasionally I’ve written tiger and lion shifters too.

Black Leopard

Here are a few leopard facts:

· Leopards are the most widespread of big cats. There’s a reason I’ve written so many books featuring leopard shifters.

· They are also the most secretive. Mine live amongst humans, keeping their shifter traits hidden.

· They live in different habitats ranging from rocky country to savannah lands and forests. My shifters live in the South Island of New Zealand.

· Leopards are nocturnal and hunt at night. My leopard heroes hunt during the day too. No female is safe from their charm.

· They usually sleep all day in a tree. Not my guys. They prefer a big comfortable bed.

· Their spotted coat is excellent camouflage in the patchwork of light and shade in the forest. Most of my shifters are black leopards, but they blend well once they’re in feline form.

· A leopard’s spots are actually small rosettes.

· Leopards are loners and only come together to mate. My guys are a little more civilized than this, for which the heroines are very thankful!

· The mother brings up the cubs until they can fend for themselves. My leopard heroes make great fathers, and they’re big on family and community.

· They are built for bursts of speed and for climbing trees. Hmm, I haven’t given my heroes much in the way of tree climbing scenes. Maybe something for the future.

· They have strong jaws, chests and front legs and can move an animal as big as themselves. Agreed! My shifters are certainly not pansies!

· Leopards like to ambush their prey, waiting in a tree for an animal to walk underneath. My shifters like to confront their problems/enemies face to face.

· Leopards drag their meals up into trees to keep it safe. My shifters like to eat their meals at a table. They prefer to eat meat, but their mates entice them to eat their vegetables.

· Black leopards are often called panthers. They are the same species, but their spots are hidden. They are more common in Asia. My shifters are mostly black leopards, and they live in New Zealand.

· Their tongues are raspy. Yes, this is true, which makes for interesting love scenes. Just ask my heroines. Winking smile

I’ve noticed authors are venturing into quite different shifters such as deer, gorillas and elephants. Have you read any books featuring these shifters? What do you think?

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