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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?

Fun at the Frost Fair

Let’s travel back in time…

Imagine yourself in England—London, to be precise. It’s almost Christmas or Yule, and it’s cold. There’s an air of excitement because the Thames has frozen over. Traders are rubbing their hands together. Local residents are anxiously watching proceedings. Children are gleeful because if the cold snap continues, the ice will be thick enough for a Frost Fair.

So what is a Frost Fair? Here’s the scoop. The old London Bridge caused the water to run slowly and during cold conditions the water froze, sometimes for months. When the ice was thick enough to support weight, the frozen Thames became a playground. Locals played games and skated on the ice. Local traders set up booths and the crowds flocked to the Thames to join in the festivities.

I write historical romances set during the 18th century, a little before the official Regency period. If the characters from The Spurned Viscountess and Mistress of Merrivale were to travel to London for the Yule season they might go shopping for trinkets and gifts to give their loved ones.

The Thames froze over during these years in the 18th century: 1709, 1716, 1740, 1768 (a little frozen), 1776, 1785 (a little frozen), 1788, 1795. Source~Wikipedia.

So let’s get back to the fun.

Jocelyn and Leo Townsend from Mistress of Merrivale are strolling on the ice. Leo has his daughter’s hand firmly in his grasp. Cassie’s eyes are wide as she gazes at a juggler. Then a puppet show grabs her attention. Jocelyn laughs and together, she and Cassie drag Leo over to join the crowd.

Once the show finishes, they visit a ribbon seller. Jocelyn buys several ribbons to give as gifts and lets Cassie choose one for herself. Cassie picks a scarlet ribbon and insists that Jocelyn tie it in her hair immediately.

Leo buys cups of hot cider and slices of spicy gingerbread. They meander through the crowds and pause to watch some acrobats. A roar comes from across the way, an animalistic growl and a louder shriek. Jocelyn takes on quick look in that direction and urges Cassie to move on to see the sailing ship, stuck firmly in the middle of the ice. There’s no need for Cassie to catch a glimpse of the bear baiting.

The scent of cooking meat fills the air while men and women shout of their wares. “Hot beef here!”

“Oranges! Oranges!”

“Buy Frost Fair prints here!”

Occasionally, the ice creaks. A group of children jeer at a hunchback while three young maids giggle and clap at the antics of a strolling minstrel.

The hour grows late, and Leo, Jocelyn and Cassie make their way to their carriage. Cassie goes to sleep on the way home while Jocelyn cuddles against her husband’s side. His hand rests on her rounded stomach, and they both laugh softly when their baby kicks. A family outing to the Frost Fair ends with love and a snatched kiss just before the footmen opens the carriage door, and Leo hustles them inside out of the cold.

Note: The last Frost Fair took place during the winter of 1813-1814 when the ice was thick enough to lead an elephant across the river near Blackfriars Bridge. New innovation during the Victorian era increased the flow of the river and ended the entertainment known as the Frost Fair.

Sources: London by Peter Ackroyd, Georgian London, Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis and Daily Life in 18th Century England by Kirstin Olsen.

Mistress of MerrivaleMeet Jocelyn and Leo in Mistress of Merrivale – order at Amazon http://amzn.to/1eW93rW

Jocelyn Townsend’s life as a courtesan bears no resemblance to the life she envisioned in girlish dreams. But it allows her and her eccentric mother to live in relative security—until her protector marries and no longer requires her services.

Desperate to find a new benefactor, one kind enough to accept her mother’s increasingly mad flights of fancy, Jocelyn is nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty when a lifeline comes from an unexpected source.

Leo Sherbourne’s requirements for a wife are few. She must mother his young daughter, run his household, and warm his bed. All in a calm, dignified manner with a full measure of common sense. After his late wife’s histrionics and infidelity, he craves a simpler, quieter life.

As they embark on their arrangement, Leo and Jocelyn discover an attraction that heats their bedroom and a mutual admiration that warms their days. But it isn’t long before gossip regarding the fate of Leo’s first wife, and his frequent, unexplained absences, make Jocelyn wonder if the secrets of Merrivale Manor are rooted in murder…

Warning: Contains mysterious incidents, a mad mother who screeches without provocation, scheming relatives, and a captivating husband who blows scorching hot and suspiciously cold. All is not as it seems…and isn’t that delicious?

13 Facts About Dragons

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a dragon frame of mind recently, and I’m excited to be part of the Flight of Dragons box set, which came out this week. In honor of the release, my TT this week is about dragons.

Thirteen Facts About Dragons

1. Dragons can be grouped into three groups: Earth dragons, Water dragons and Fire Dragons.

2. Dragons are warm-blooded creatures since they control their body temperatures internally. They are not dependent on the sun in the same way as other reptiles.

3. Dragons live for a long time and are more likely to die from an accident than old age.

4. Dragons prefer a natural environment rather than cities filled with pollution.

5. Dragons are the largest known flying creatures.

6. Dragon bodies are covered with tough, shiny scales. They can make them stand on end if they want to preen or groom themselves.

7. Dragons are fastidious and take care to keep skin and scales immaculate.

8. Dragon colors come in three broad color groupings. Blue – ranging from mother-of-pearl and silver to dark blue. Red – copper red to dark red and reddish black. Green – every shade of green, yellow, dark brown and burnished gold.

9. The dragon father or king is the head of the family and other dragons pledge their allegiance. He adjudicates in disputes.

10. Water dragons live in salt and fresh water and are extremely agile in the water.

11. According to legend, water dragons only eat human virgins and if they can’t find suitable food, they suffer excruciating indigestion, which can lead to death. This dietary need has contributed to their dwindling numbers.

12. Dragons are skilled in the art of magic. They also have a love of music and possess an excellent sense of rhythm. A dragon’s voice has a bewitching effect on humans.

13. Dragons love treasure and acquire valuables through fair means or foul.

Flight of Dragons

Flight of Dragons is available for 99c for a limited time from all online retailers. Grab your copy today!

Read an excerpt of Blue Moon Dragon, my contribution here.

Soruce: The Book of the Dragon by Ciruelo

Dragons and More Dragons!

It’s release day for Flight of Dragons.

Nine scorching tales with sexy as sin fire-breathing dragon shifters.

Nine scorching tales with alpha males.

Nine lucky heroines!

Flight of Dragons_500x750

Grab your copy today: Amazon| Kobo| Nook| iBooks|

Artist Trading Cards: Tiny Masterpieces

Charlotte Dixon, the heroine of One Night of Misbehavior is interested in design, and before her grandmother became sick, Charlotte was studying to become a graphic designer. Charlotte and her grandmother try all sorts of crafts and Charlotte enjoys making artist trading cards.

So what is an artist trading card?

They’re original and small works of art on cardstock—the size of a playing card. The idea is to collect and trade with other artists. Here is a link to my Artist Trading Card board at Pinterest to give you an idea of the scope of the cards. http://pinterest.com/shelleymunro/artist-trading-cards/

Follow Shelley Munro: Author’s board Research: Artist Trading Cards on Pinterest.

At first Charlotte uses the ATCs as a way to express herself and play with different techniques, but when Ash Marlborough, the hero in One Night of Behavior offers Charlotte a job, she finds new applications for her hobby. She uses the idea as a part of an ad campaign for a motorcycle shop.

These days the trading cards are used by artists, people doing crafts and more recently, authors have printed ATCs to use for promotional purposes. http://romancetradingcards.com/

If you’d like to try making your own artist trading cards visit this site for some helpful hints and instructions. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Artist-Trading-Cards

One Night of MisbehaviorOne Night of Misbehavior by Shelley Munro

He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside.

Charlotte Dixon ignores her stepmother’s edict and, in an act of disobedience, attends one of the social events of the year—a masquerade costume ball. Charlotte’s naughtiness escalates when she dances and smooches with a sexy mystery man. The night of anonymous passion that follows makes her yearn for a different life, but the next day she’s back to her dull routine of household management.

Advertising tycoon, Ash Marlborough is about to set a private investigator on the trail of his nameless princess when she waltzes right into his place of work. Charlotte is shocked to meet her masked man in the flesh, and even more perturbed when he asks her out on a date. Despite craving another night of sexy loving, she doesn’t have time for a man, not when she wants to reinvent herself and grasp a new, improved life with both hands. But Ash knows what he wants, and he’s determined to win the heart of his princess. Let the dance of seduction commence.

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.

The Terrifying Taniwha

Flight of Dragons

I was brought up hearing tales from Maori mythology. Everyone in New Zealand knows of Maui who fished our country from the sea. One particular beast from the legends has always fascinated me, and that’s the taniwha.

The taniwha (pronounced tan-e-far) is a Maori monster, a ferocious beast that ate naughty children and devoured warriors and other hapless people who found themselves in the wrong place.

If I were to describe a taniwha to a non-New Zealander, I’d say they were a water dragon since many taniwha live in lakes, rivers and the sea. According to my research, they were often called lizards by the Maori people. In Maori mythology, lizards are symbols of death and the appearance of one is an ill omen. Our New Zealand lizards are small, but the idea of a large one inspired fear in everyone.

While most taniwha lived in water, some made their homes in caves or under mountains. Those earthquakes—caused by a taniwha! Some of the monsters could fly while others were capable of traveling underground. Some taniwha looked whale-like.

Local Maori tribes were able to appease taniwha with offerings of food, and they received protection in return. But the taniwha were known to turn on their benefactors if the food supply dwindled or wasn’t good quality. Beware the grumpy taniwha!

Occasionally a man or woman transformed into a taniwha after carrying out bad deeds. Sometimes the transformation happened due to bad luck.

Taniwha can talk, which makes for easy communication, although I understand their growls can be fearsome too. The other thing about taniwha is that they like to take human wives and aren’t above stealing them if the opportunity presents itself.

I used the legend of the taniwha in my dragon romance, Blue Moon Dragon, which is part of the Flight of Dragons box set. Flight of Dragons is available for pre-order and releases on 13 October.

Here’s the blurb:

On her 25th birthday Emma Montrose decides it’s time to show bad boy investigator, Jack Sullivan she’s more than an efficient secretary. She’s a woman with needs, and she wants him.

Jack is a taniwha, a shifter, who requires women to satiate the sexual demands of the serpent within. Nothing more. Then work forces the reluctant Jack and ecstatic Emma undercover as a couple. Thrown together, pretence and reality blur generating hot sex laced with risk…

Of course, I changed the legend to suit my story. Jack, my taniwha, is a private person and working with Emma pushes his buttons in a big way. He’s fighting both his own taniwha instincts and Emma’s enthusiasm. I fear he’s fighting a losing battle!

Source: Taniwha, Giants and Supernatural Creatures by AW Reed and Ross Calman

A Featured Bargain!

October is a special month at All Romance ebooks. Lots of different publishers are giving away prizes (books and gift vouchers). All you need to do is shop as normal and some purchasers will win instant prizes.

AReFeaturedBArgain

Today – 4th October – is extra special because my contemporary box set, Ain’t Misbehaving is the daily deal.

Ain't Misbehaving

Grab your copy today at a discounted price!

Maybe Tomorrow: Sea of Change – a shifter romance

My Sexy Saturday

The theme is week is “Our Sexy Tomorrow”. I immediately thought of Sea of Change, my latest release. When Asia sees Roman Anderson across a crowded room she is stunned. He comes from an enemy tribe of orca shifters, but he doesn’t recognize her. When he asks her out on a date, she can’t resist. She’s thinking about her upcoming sexy night and has no intention of a sexy tomorrow. After all, Roman is the enemy, even if he is gorgeous. Then Roman is attacked and he thinks they’re married…

“I’m gonna shower before hitting the sack. Wash off this blood. Okay with you, sweetheart?”

“Um, sure.” The idea of him naked in her shower pushed her libido a notch higher. This wasn’t fair. He’d remember everything tomorrow and head back to his island kingdom without another word of sex or bed or anything resembling horizontal. That’s if he deigned to speak to her. For some unfathomable reason she wasn’t concerned with her safety, because he didn’t strike her as a bad man. She hoped she wasn’t wrong.

“You going to shower with me?”

Asia felt herself blink. Oh man, temptation on two legs, but it wasn’t right to take advantage of a man in this condition. “You need to sleep. If I shower with you we’ll get sidetracked.”

Roman’s dark gaze tracked down her body and back up to her face. A sexy smile—another of those panty-lowering ones—bloomed on his battered face. “That is true,” he acknowledged. “Maybe you’re right. It’ll be quicker if I shower on my own.” He slipped the ripped and bloody suit jacket off and let it drop to the floor.

When he started on the buttons of his shirt, Asia decided it was time to flee. “I’ll grab you a clean towel.” She shot from her bedroom as if a pack of Resident Orcas were after her. Her breathing had turned choppy and her palms were moist. She felt as if she’d swum across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand in record time. Asia wiped the dampness from her palms and took a deep breath. This couldn’t continue. She was an adult, for goodness sake. With trembling hands, she tugged open the cupboard and seized several towels.

The pipes clanked, indicating Roman had found the shower and turned on the water. Just the image of his naked body made her break into a cold sweat. Asia scowled. All she could think of was sex. The rush of pleasure at the moment of orgasm. Doing it with Roman. Her steps slowed. She heard the shower door open and close and imagined his naked body. Muscled. Tanned. Very touchable.

Oh boy.

Sea of Change

BLURB:

A sexy face in the crowd…

Orca shifter Asia Bolino can’t believe the gorgeous cutie is Roman Anderson. They belong to enemy tribes, but she’d love to run her fingers over his…assets. Roman doesn’t recognize her, and in a moment of weakness, Asia agrees to a late-night date, a little forbidden pleasure.

Someone attacks Roman while he waits for Asia. Aware of his shifter status, Asia does the only thing she can—she takes him back to her apartment. The problem is when he regains consciousness, he thinks they’re married. He parades around her apartment wearing nothing but a smile, and Asia is weak. She succumbs to his charm and skilful loving. Hip-deep in lies, she’s aware the sensual bubble might burst at any moment. That might mean bloodshed, and she can’t allow that to happen. Worse, Roman doesn’t seem to recall he’s a shifter.

Asia struggles with guilt while melting at Roman’s touch. Nothing can come of their relationship, and now it seems someone knows the truth and they’re both in danger.

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

To read more My Sexy Saturday snippets, follow the links below:

Sea of Change: 13 Facts About Killer Whales

Thursday Thirteen

This week, my latest book went live at most online retailers. Sea of Change is a paranormal shifter romance featuring orcas.

Thirteen Facts About Killer Whales

1. The killer whale is also known as an orca.

2. They are a toothed whale and are actually the largest members of the dolphin family.

3. They are a mammal and eat a carnivore diet. (fish, seabirds, squid, seals and other whales)

4. They can live up to 80 years in the wild. The females usually live longer than the males.

5. The killer whale lives in a pod of family members, and these pods can contain as many as 40 orca.

6. Killer whales can be divided into resident pods and transient pods, a fact I used in my Sea of Change story.

7. Resident pods tend to frequent one area while transient pods have much larger territories.

8. The pod members work together to hunt for food.

9. Each pod communicates in a distinctive manner using echolocation.

10. Female orcas give birth every three to ten years and the pregnancy lasts for 15 – 18 months. The mother nurses the calf for at least a year.

11. The killer whale has very distinctive black and white coloring. They are intelligent and acrobatic, frequently breaching, spyhopping and slapping their flippers.

12. It’s easy to tell the difference between the male and female. The males are longer and bulkier. Their dorsal fins are much larger, reaching higher than a metre in height.

13. Sea of Change

Sea of Change by Shelley Munro

BLURB:

A sexy face in the crowd…

Orca shifter Asia Bolino can’t believe the gorgeous cutie is Roman Anderson. They belong to enemy tribes, but she’d love to run her fingers over his…assets. Roman doesn’t recognize her, and in a moment of weakness, Asia agrees to a late-night date, a little forbidden pleasure.

Someone attacks Roman while he waits for Asia. Aware of his shifter status, Asia does the only thing she can—she takes him back to her apartment. The problem is when he regains consciousness, he thinks they’re married. He parades around her apartment wearing nothing but a smile, and Asia is weak. She succumbs to his charm and skilful loving. Hip-deep in lies, she’s aware the sensual bubble might burst at any moment. That might mean bloodshed, and she can’t allow that to happen. Worse, Roman doesn’t seem to recall he’s a shifter.

Asia struggles with guilt while melting at Roman’s touch. Nothing can come of their relationship, and now it seems someone knows the truth and they’re both in danger.

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

Sources: National Geographic.com and Department of Conservation, New Zealand

Janaya: An Alien Encounter

My Sexy Saturday

We all know that love happens and we want to know all about those special moments where those entities realize there is an emotional bond between one another. It can happen on an average day, during the night, in the middle of a zombie invasion or maybe a place where it’s hard to tell the day from the night like in a submarine or deep in space. The one thing we do know it’s going to be hot…hot…HOT!

This week I’m featuring an upcoming release, Janaya, which is book one in my Alien Encounter series. It’s currently available for pre-order as part of the Sing a Song of the Stars bundle.

This scene takes place just after Janaya and her aunt have crashed and they meet Luke, an Earth cop.

“Hello there.” The man’s voice slid across her skin like soft, satiny monterey petals, drawing her body tight with unexpected sensual need. Fascinated by the Earthman, her gaze drifted down to the column of tanned flesh showing in the V of his blue shirt. An urgent need to slide her tongue across the same path her gaze had taken gripped her mind. She took half a step forward to complete the action before her brain jerked into gear then screeched to an appalled halt. A soft choking noise drew her gaze northward to gleaming dark brown eyes. Hot eyes that simmered with an answering passion.

Janaya took another half a step to close the distance between them.

“Down, girl,” her aunt murmured, placing one bony hand on her arm in warning.

The clear transparency with which her aunt saw her need brought a blush of hot color to her cheeks and that too, flowed down her body, converging in one achy spot.

Janaya opened her mouth but all that emerged was an undignified croak. Instead of interrogating him, her mind drifted to wonder what his dark hair would feel like as it slid between her fingers, if the passion that arced in the air between them would translate to hot, uninhibited mating. There had to be more to the process than what she’d discovered so far with Santana.

Aware of his laughing eyes scanning her face, her body, Janaya tried to dislodge the huge lump in her throat with a dry swallow. The throbbing silence stretched. Luckily, her aunt came to the rescue interrupting her frantic thoughts by taking the initiative.

“Good afternoon,” she chirped. “And it’s a great one, too. I’m Hinekiri Jones. And this is my niece, Janaya Smith.”

Sing a Song of the Stars

BLURB:

Book 1 in the Alien Encounter series.

Janaya is a bodyguard on a mission. She must protect her Aunt Hinekiri from mercenaries and return to Dalcon in time to take her captain’s exam. A simple assignment for an officer of her caliber—except nothing goes as planned. Their spaceship crash-lands on Earth. No spare parts available. Big problem

Janaya is stuck on a tiny outpost called New Zealand. She’s going to bungle her promotion chances. And because she neglected to have her travel inoculations in her urgent hurry to protect her aunt, Janaya has bonded with an Earthman.

Police officer Luke Morgan seeks a quiet life. No press. No nosy reporters. No women. Just lots of fishing and fresh country air. He doesn’t count on meeting a pair of aliens and a talking dog or participating in a shootout with purple-suited aliens. Nor does he expect the surge of lust he experiences for Janaya. Suddenly a routine callout turns into a big problem that Luke suspects might only be the tip of the iceberg.

Pre-order for 99c Sing a Song of the Stars

To read more My Sexy Saturday snippets follow the links below: