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:

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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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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.

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!

 

O Christmas Tree…Falling Down on Me!

iPhone Image 1BD965Our goal for the Christmas tree is to have it stand up straight, be beautiful and look festive. Its goal is to fall over dead.

The first time we had a tree fall over it happened in the middle of the night. The good news is it fell over on the night of Christmas Day, so we’d already had the gift opening on Christmas morning. The bad news is that it fell onto a hardwood floor. We lost many fragile, sentimentally valuable ornaments. The scary news is that it keeled over in the middle of the night, breaking said ornaments, and no one heard a thing. We woke up the next day to find it lying on its side in the midst of brightly colored, shattered glass.

We thought that was an isolated happening. But the next tree that fell over did so before Christmas Day. Luckily, we’d placed this tree on a carpet so the ornament damage was minimal.

The third tree fell over last night, minutes after we finished decorating it. We were all sitting there enjoying it. It really is a beautiful tree. When, slowly and majestically, it fell to the ground. We had a brand new tree stand. A big one. It stuck with the tree all right. And all the water that had been in the stand spilled onto the carpet.  Luckily, we keep a big plastic tarp under the tree but it did spill onto the red felt tree skirt that I keep on top of the plastic. So dh pulled the tree up and I held it while hollering for someone to get towels to mop up the water before the red felt stained everything.

The first comment was from my husband. “At least we’re here to deal with it,” he said. “That was good luck.”

“Nothing says luck like the Christmas tree falling over,” said kid #2.

Kid #3 retreated to the corner to be upset. Kid #2 raced out of the room toward the stairs. Kid #1, bless her, went for towels to wipe up the mess. When #2 returned, I said, “Where did you go?”

“I had to post an update on Facebook,” she answered. What, it’s not real until it’s on Facebook?

Youngest dd had been taking pictures of the tree trimming for her photography class. After the tree was upright again, one of the kids said, “You should have taken a picture of the tree on the floor.”

“That’s all right,” she responded. “I’ll get it next time.”

Well, we had a few broken lights and ornaments, but it wasn’t too bad. We had some laughs.

So then dh wired it to the wall (which he’d said he would do earlier and has done before).

It’s still a beautiful tree. Merry Christmas to all.

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My Sexy Saturday Snippet-Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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“It’s not my birthday,” he said. Six foot two, eyes of blue started to close the door of his apartment in her face.

“Wait!” Jenna slapped her hand against the moving door. “What are you talking about?”

“Me?” His straight eyebrows rose toward the short, wheat-colored hair that framed his strong, even-featured face. “I’m not the one who appeared out of nowhere all but naked.” He stole another glance at her body. “Aren’t you one of those singing telegrams or something?”

“Telegram? You hear me singing?” She certainly wouldn’t have been able to sing the way her heart was pounding. Neither her distant memories, nor Kate’s pictures did justice to the flesh-and-blood man. Energy and vitality snapped from those vivid blue eyes. A gray t-shirt and worn denim revealed a hard body that bulged in all the right places.

His broad shoulders faced squarely toward her, as he leaned into her personal space. Mr. Hot Stuff wanted to be cool, but his body language betrayed his interest.

“Fine.” He tried to close the door again. “Whatever you’re pitching, I’m not interested. Sorry. I’m working.”

“Stop!” She pushed back once more. “It’s cold out there!” She’d burned all her bridges to get this far. He had to let her in.

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. A blizzard is brewing outside, but it’s nothing compared to the storm heating up inside the apartment.

Grant is immediately drawn to Jenna in her role as 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 there’s only one payback that will satisfy him.

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My Sexy Saturday

ARe-Carson-LoveCharm03-CarlottaLove Charm for Carlotta

Short Story in Love Charm Series

Blurb: Carlotta doesn’t believe in love charms. Especially not when the bad boy hockey player from her past suddenly re-appears in her life. Has the love charm brought him back to her? She doesn’t intend to find out. But, in the small town island atmosphere of Martha’s Vineyard, it’s hard to escape your past. Do people change, or will she be courting heartbreak again if she  succumbs once more to her high school sweetheart?

Excerpt: “I told you to wait for me, Carlotta.” Jace stepped closer.

“Forever?”

“If that’s what it took.” His deep voice melted over her.

“Did you wait for me?” she whispered.

“I’m here now.” His lips touched hers, a feather of a kiss.

She inhaled his scent, all heat and man and always, even in the spring, with a hint of ice in his essence. He would never live in a warm climate. If he had children, he’d be a hockey coach, surrounded by other ex-players who loved the game, its speed, the edge of violence, and the boisterous camaraderie.

“Carlotta,” he murmured, his lips nuzzling her ear. “I missed you.”

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Pinterest pictures relating to Carlotta’s story

Frog Dissection-Has Feminism Made Any Progress?

frogRomance novels have made great strides in portraying females as strong people who must participate in saving the day. We rarely see helpless heroines saved by manly men. But have people changed so much in real life?

I try very hard to raise my children without stereotypes and to encourage my girls to be interested in all avenues of study and to consider all types of careers. But…

Yesterday, was the day in freshman biology that my daughter had been dreading all year. They had to dissect a frog. They always choose their own partners for lab. The boys had paired up among themselves weeks ago for the frog lab. (They weren’t going to do all the work for these squeamish girls.) The girls had wailed and moaned for weeks.

My daughter threw up before class, just to get ready. (She actually brought a toothbrush and toothpaste to school, giving new meaning to the phrase ‘prepared for class’.)

She arrived in class and decided to ask the one boy who’s her friend to be her partner. (Never mind that everyone was already paired up.) He said sure, but he had to admit he might get queasy and need help. She ditched him pronto (and reported that he did get lightheaded later on, thereby embarrassing himself).

She contemplated another boy, Joe. Even though she’s barely ever spoken to Joe,  she knew he was the one boy who would do the work on his own. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She asked him to be her partner. (At least she’s not a shrinking violet in the boy department.) He agreed.

Joe’s original partner said, “Hey, what about me?”

Joe said, “Sorry, I’m working with her.” (Girls rule.)

Meanwhile, my daughter had abandoned her friend, a girl with whom she’d been partnered for every lab the entire year. (Did I raise her?) That girl and another began crying (!?!) when they realized they had no one to lean on. The teacher finally had to assign them to a couple of boys and allow groups of three.

The class started the job. My daughter said her goal was to do nothing and look at nothing. (This is honors biology, BTW.)

The next exciting moment arrived when a girl fainted, sliding down to the floor in a swoon worthy of a 19th century heroine. (No stigma of shame assigned to her.) They revived the girl and she and her female partner decamped for the nurse.

Now as my daughter is telling this tale, I’m thinking, Whatever happened to women’s lib? It’s the 21st century and these girls are behaving no better than I did back in the dark ages, when, I am sorry to report, I somehow managed to escape dissecting the frog. How hard can I be on my daughter, when I know exactly how she feels? But I have to try. Women need to be positive about science.

I say to her, “The girls didn’t make a good showing for themselves.”
She says, “At least I helped Joe pin the frog to the board.”
I say, “That’s good.”
She adds, “By handing him the pins.”

The frog had still better be the prince, and not the biology lesson.

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