Polo! Game of Kings

Polo opening

Recently, I attended my first polo match. It was so much fun! Who knew how thrilling it could be to watch a bunch of men chase after a little ball? Well, it was the horses that made it different, I have to say.

Great care is taken in the rules to keep the horses safe. But even though each period (called a chukka) of the game lasts only 7 minutes, they do a lot of running. If you participate in a match, you must bring at least 2 horses for a game of 6 chukkas (4-8 chukkas are allowed), and 3 horses is preferable.

There are 4 players on each team, although the players can be rotated out during the breaks between chukkas.

This was one of my favorite parts. At the half, the spectators are asked to go onto the field and repair the divots. Divots are clumps of earth dislodged by the horses. The resulting holes in the turf can be dangerous for both horses and players. Here they are:

Polo 014

Here they are in all their glory – click on link:

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The ref was a woman! 🙂

I haven’t written a story featuring polo yet, but I intend to.

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

skiers modified While I was driving my three kids through a winter blizzard to a ski race in Vermont, my traveling husband was dining at the Fort Lauderdale airport with a porn star.

Ha! Got your attention? I want that line to be the start of a novel some day, but it happens to also be the truth.

If you live in New England, you need to love the snow and the way to love it is to get outdoors and enjoy all the fun winter sports. Hence, in my family, we are all skiers, and part of that is being on ski teams. You attend the races, whether it’s snowing or 16 degrees below zero or whatever.

But you want to hear about the porn star, right? Okay, this is hubby’s story and I’m in no position to dispute it. This woman had been swanning around the Fort Lauderdale airport, and hubby said hordes of men were flocking behind her. (Really? Have you guys no dignity at all?) She was dressed in denim short shorts, a red tank top and high heels.

My husband went into a restaurant to eat lunch, and was joined by a stranger (a man) because the restaurant was very crowded. They chatted while eating, and then the porn star appeared, getting in line at the counter to get her meal. This stranger went right up to her and invited her back to their table (since she wasn’t going to find a seat in the packed restaurant, ahem). So they all ate lunch together. Hubby said she told them about how her family (somewhere in Asia) disapproved of her livelihood. But she seemed happy. The truth is, he often finds himself in odd situations with strangers, so none of this surprises me.

Also, I have the better story since I was flashed by a kilt-wearing Scotsman at Oktoberfest in Austria. So now I DO know what they wear under that kilt. And I tell all in The Naked Male Tour of Austria.

We’re all here to talk about romances between snowbound couples. What could be more romantic with the right person? A cozy fire, no interruptions, and lots of time to play. This is exactly what happens in my novella, Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing.

Cover for Baby, It's Cold Outside

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Now Available!

This novella was nominated for Best Romance this year at eFestival of Words!

 

Book Boyfriends Cafe – First Kiss

CC-BICO-100x150 - CopyBaby, It’s Cold Outside

Blurb: Jenna entices the man of her dreams into providing a haven for the weekend during a New York City blizzard. Her tools are her flirting skills dressed up with a bit of deception. She needs to make amends for the great wrong she did to him five years ago. Sex on the side would be a huge bonus.

Though he’s never met her before, Grant is immediately drawn to this blizzard-bopping beach babe. He’ll do her, but he doesn’t do deception. He thinks he’s spotted her minor trickery, but the big secret that blew up his life is waiting in the wings…

And things are about to heat up.

Excerpt: Jenna frowned at Grant over the fragrantly steaming mug. “What’s in this, anyway?”

“Amaretto, Kahlua, hot milk and a little bit of the devil’s magic.” Grant gave her an exaggerated leer. “So I can have my wicked way with you.”

“I don’t doubt the bit about the devil’s magic,” she said tartly. “Your reputation precedes you.”

“So suspicious.” He leaned over and licked a spot of whipped cream out of the corner of her mouth. His blue eyes stared into hers as he withdrew his tongue back into his mouth. “Mmmm.” He licked his lips and leaned down again. “Open your mouth just a little so I can get that last bit,” he murmured.

Helplessly, still held by his gaze, she complied.

His warm tongue slid into her mouth.

Mmmmmm. Better than she’d ever imagined. Despite her resolve to maintain her distance, she fell into the kiss. Hard.

He tasted of the same delicious drink she was already enjoying. But he was even hotter. He brought his lips down on hers and sucked her tongue into his mouth. He was gentle, but insistent, as he delved into her mouth, and explored freely. When she moved toward him, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. She pressed against him, rubbing her breasts against him.

He groaned, deep in his chest. The sound electrified her. She grabbed his hair to hold his head for more kisses. Then she opened her mouth wider and wider, wanting more of him inside her. Their tongues dueled, his strong and sure, hers desperate. She could not get enough.

God, she was crazed with the need to have more of him. More of his hot scent of fire smoothed by brandy, more of his mouth, heat tasting of brandy, and more of his hard body that he’d shifted so that he leaned over her. He pressed her down into the embrace of the sofa and she yielded. She wanted more of his weight on her, more of his hands, more of everything.

But, Kate’s words still rang in her ears. Make him work for you.

She pulled back from his mouth, gasping.

“No,” he said. He lifted his head, his eyes scorching her. “I want more.” He latched onto her mouth again. His hands roamed up and down her back and then began to ease around to her front. Oh, she wanted him to touch her breasts, so badly. She whimpered.

And leaned away from him.

He raised his head again. His eyes were as blue as the gleam in the heart of the fire. “You gonna keep pulling away from me?”

“I—I don’t know.”

“What the hell does that mean?” He sat up, running his hands through his hair, as if he might clear up his thinking.

“It’s too much, isn’t it?”

“You’re asking me? I sure as hell don’t think so.”         ♥    ♥

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Hot Encounter – Red Riding Hood

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Excerpt: Even as Red Riding Hood approached the darkest part of the woods, where tall pine trees blocked the sun, and the flowers disappeared, and the path faded to a black snarl lined by brooding ferns, still, she remained merry.

Granny was waiting for her goodies, the delicious treats that Red and her mama had baked at dawn. The scents of chocolate and vanilla teased Red’s nose, providing a pleasant counterpoint to the dark, pungent smell of the inner forest. Granny would ask her if she’d made any progress in finding a boy for her eighteenth birthday. Then she’d tell tales of her own misspent youth, leaving out the interesting parts.

Despite the missing parts, Red still enjoyed their talks.

A movement startled her, as a pair of keen gray eyes flashed unexpectedly in the gloom of the forest. She clutched her basket, aware suddenly that she was all alone and a tall man she didn’t know was leaning against one of the few oak trees that had managed to establish its dominance in this northern evergreen forest. Even more alarming, the man’s eyes were caressing her in a bold manner that the boys from the village would never attempt. (Her father would speak to them sharply if they did.)

“Little Red,” he said, in a deep voice that woke up the forest, and buzzed over her skin.

Her skips faltered, and then stopped altogether, as if his voice alone had thrown a barrier across the path.

“Good morning,” she managed. She was always polite. (Her mother had raised her that way and besides, her life was such that good manners were easy.)

He smiled, and the smile spread warmth over her, as if she were suddenly standing in sunshine on a bright summer day, rather than in the middle of a dark forest. A few rays of real sunshine suddenly sparkled in the dark green rooftop above her, like hidden gold coins among the dense leaves.

She stepped closer to the man. “Who are you?”

“Are you traveling to grandma’s house?” he asked, still with that lazy smile.

“Yes.”

“Then I am the big, bad wolf,” he declared. “Surely you’ve heard of me?”

She nodded, suddenly alert, but for some reason, not afraid. “Every girl knows your tale.”

He straightened casually and stepped away from the tree. “Then you’ve been warned,” he said. “Let’s move on from the nursery tale.”

“Move on?” She clutched her basket, but her heart thudded with delight. He smelled like fire looked – hot and sparkling and blazing with heat and hope. She sucked in a deep breath of wonder.

Wolf’s arm reached out and snagged her waist. “You’ll give me a kiss, won’t you? A kiss is nothing new to you, I’m sure.”

She giggled. “I don’t kiss and tell, naughty wolf.”

“That’s good.” He pulled her closer, his touch gentle. “You’ll never want to tell what we do together.”      

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Morning After – Eclipse of the Heart

Eclipse of the Heart-Amazon

Eclipse of the Heart

Blurb: Amanda Thompson is offered her dream job as a junior executive at a Manhattan venture firm. The terms are a little vague, but she has a seriously ill sister to provide for, and her new boss is a seriously attractive man. Failure is not an option, so she’ll keep her eye on the prize, and her heart and body out of the mix…despite the boss’s overly personal interest in her.

Logan Winter is a hard-driving business tycoon who likes his sex life hot and his emotional life cold. His new high-end call girl is a little different from the ordinary bimbos who fill the role. That’s okay, since he’s ready for different. Even discovering the mistake that’s been made is okay, because he knows how to get what he wants…and he wants Amanda.

Excerpt: Logan slid away from Amanda on the king-sized bed. The movement was automatic, a habit of necessity. Women liked to cling, and he couldn’t bear it.

In a few minutes, he would try to take her again. But for now, he needed his own space.

“Is something wrong?” Her clear voice pierced the dark silence of his bedroom.

“No.” He closed his eyes, knowing he was shutting her out completely, but helpless to change his behavior. “Give me a few minutes.”

She moved. He heard the whisper of her body on the sheet.

“I need to go,” she said, her voice low.

He would never ask a woman to stay. But—”I want you again,” he said. He almost reached out a hand.

But, no. He couldn’t do it. Emotions were poisonous.

She sat up. “I can’t stay.”

He heard the uncertainty in her voice, and understood it. She needed reassurance. Hugs and kisses would be best, but that wasn’t his style.

He turned on his side and propped himself up on an elbow. “We still haven’t done slow and easy,” he said.

She gave a muffled giggle. “I bet you’ve never done slow and easy.”

He smiled, though he knew she couldn’t see it in the dark. “Now that’s a challenge. Just what I like.”

Suddenly, his need for her was greater than his need for separateness. He reached across the gulf between them.

“Let me show you,” he said.

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A Map of the World

map of worldNow I am officially a geek, having purchased the above antique map from 1778. I’m sorry the picture isn’t better. That’s the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the map, with North and South America off to the right. I’ve always loved old maps, which show the world as it used to be. I’m amazed at the accuracy of this one, drawn by a British cartographer when the US was embroiled in the Revolutionary War against Britain. The bottom of the map shows the voyages made by Captain Cook when he was looking for the continents which were believed to be below the equator (to balance the earth, you know, so it wouldn’t topple over.)

The map also shows the Sandwich Islands (now known as Hawaii) where Capt. Cook lost his life.

Have you ever heard of New Holland? Me neither.

Map-new HollandToday, we know this large land mass as Australia. But when this map was drawn in 1778, Holland had claimed it. The British had not yet started the migration that turned the continent into Australia.

Here’s the last section I’ll show. If you look at the right coast, you can see the United States in its infancy. It includes only the 13 original colonies alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

map coastal USOne last factoid about the map. The Brit who made the map died at the young age of 23 – in a debtor’s prison. All this careful, detailed, knowledgeable work he did, and he couldn’t get paid a living wage. Now his maps are relatively expensive. My daughter said, “Mom, that better be a freaking treasure map leading to a pot of gold!” lol Not exactly, but I love it.

Duke of Devonwood

Devonwood 200Sneak Peek Sunday – Duke of Devonwood

Miranda is not about to let some English duke tell her what she can do with her own inheritance. This is, after all, the twenty-first century. Luckily, she’s determined, hard-working, and maybe a touch devious. She vows to do whatever it takes to foil the duke…

The Duke of Devonwood could handle Miranda and her schemes…if only she weren’t so enticing.

Excerpt:

“As for you, Ms. Foxglove—” The duke smiled. “I suppose you mean to imply that you are a woman of vast experience?”

“Let us say, instead, useful experience.” Miranda toyed with the ends of her hair, which just happened to reach the top of her boobs.

He stopped in front of her. “Am I correct in assuming that you’ve decided to use your sex appeal to influence my behavior?”

His eyes were cool, but they were definitely fastened on her stroking hand.

“You have such a low opinion of yourself?” she said. “I couldn’t simply be attracted to you?”

“Let us say,” he murmured, deliberately mimicking her, “that I’ve been the target of many a devious scheme. I try to keep my wits about me when women come on to me.”

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Swimming with Dolphins

dolphin smile

Is the dolphin “smile” the reason why humans have such an affinity for these amazing marine mammals? Or is it their friendly and playful personalities that make them so appealing? Dolphins are featured in human records all the way back to Greek mythology.

One of the most amazing and fun activities my family ever experienced was swimming with the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. They are so playful and friendly and swam among us, letting us pet them. They are very social and attuned to each other, which is why you so often see pictures of them jumping and diving together. When we were swimming with them, they were always in pairs. They did “kiss” us and wave bye-bye.

The highlight of our swim was a trick in which two dolphins swim up behind you and together they lift you in the air and plow forward in the ocean, giving you an amazing ride.

They are strong, but gentle. They seemed to be having as much fun as we were, but who really knows? Though I must admit I’m not the type who ever fancied being pushed through the air by dolphins, I was really glad I did it. (nope, not me in the pic)

This was one of the best activities my family has ever done, worth every penny. We even bought the video afterwards, which is something I’ve never done before or since.

This is an expensive outing (plan on $150-200 per person). We were told that part of the reason for the high cost is that some of the money is used for research to help the dolphins. I hope that’s true. The trainers we met said they (the trainers) were all marine scientists and the animals were treated well. It was definitely not an amusement park type setup but…

There is controversy over using dolphins to entertain humans, and I can see the problem. These dolphins had been trained to perform and, although their pens were “invisible” to us, they were not fully wild.

On the other hand, there are marine scientists who argue that the money raised through allowing human interaction with dolphins provides funds for research and education that will ultimately help the dolphins. Also, bringing humans into closer contact with dolphins is seen as a way to develop support to save not only the dolphins, but other sea creatures as well.

Dolphins are under threat not only from man (fishing, coastal development, etc.) but also from the general threats to the sea and to all marine life (pollution, pesticides, loss of habitat, etc.).

Ultimately, their fate will most likely depend on humans.

Let me leave you with a few facts about dolphins.

They are social animals who live in groups. They only breathe consciously, not automatically as humans do. They don’t sleep as we know it, but do nap for a few minutes at a time. It is believed they communicate with each other through sounds they make. And finally, to keep us somewhat on topic, dolphins are sexually promiscuous and the males compete for females (in much the same way human males do through displays of power, fighting for dominance in the pecking order and showing off.)

They are awesome animals when seen up close. If you ever get a chance, please put in a good word for them. Keep them smiling!

 

The Billionaire’s Mistress

Eclipse 200x300Please join me on the Book Hook Blog Hop!

Eclipse of the Heart

4.5 star Review from Romance Junkies! …Carly Carson has penned a delightfully sensuous and seductive romance that is perfect for your summer beach bag.

Blurb: To save her sister, a sexy businesswoman accepts a mysterious, high-paying job with a hot business tycoon, but he thinks he’s hired a new mistress.

Excerpt: “This is my hotel room,” Amanda said. She frowned at her new boss, who stood sideways to her, his broad shoulder propped against the cream and gold striped wallpaper lining the penthouse corridor in Chicago’s Dover Hotel.

“It’s a suite,” Logan said, his deep voice feathering over the back of her neck.

She fought back a shiver. She should have worn something more protective. Kevlar. A burka.

The light on the doorknob flashed red.

“Allow me.” Logan plucked the card out of her hand and gently inserted it. The little green light flashed in invitation.

“Stupid key thinks this is your room, too,” Amanda muttered.

Logan turned the handle and pushed the door open. “This is my suite also.”

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