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Published February 10, 2017 by francesothomas


Back when my mother was a bobby-soxer, she swooned over Frank Sinatra. For me, a child of the sixties, it was the Beatles, George Harrison in particular. For my younger sister, it was Donny Osmond.

On this weekend before Valentine’s Day, I find myself pondering these teenage crushes. I never got any closer to George than a row on the upper level of what was then the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Had I ever met him, I’m certain I would have been completely paralyzed by fear.

It’s a different world than it was then. The young ladies seem so much more mature. Do they still idolize pop stars? My guess is it’s the preteen girls now, not the teens, who keep up the tradition.

What is the attraction? The dreamy eyes, the toothpaste smile, or just the safety of distance?

In the comments, tell me about your teen crush.





Twelve Days of Christmas book rview

Published November 15, 2016 by francesothomas


I confess I have never been a Debbie Macomber fan. Her books have struck me as more goody two shoes than I could bear. i always turned to the tales of dukes and earls for my leisure reading.

Now, however, I find myself writing stores that are similar to those Macomber has long been famous for. I am all about good people, happy ever after, and small town charm.  I don’t presume to have her skill; I’m still very much a novice novelist. But in trying to approximate what she does, I have gained respect for her as an author.

Twelve Days of Christmas hits just the note we need  for the season and for the climate of the country right now too. The heroine is impossibly cheery and sweet. The hero is a modern day Scrooge who falls victim to being “killed with kindness.”

As a blogger myself, I could also relate to the heroine’s struggle to gain readership.

If only real life could be as  wholesome as the world Macomber creates, we’d all be a lot happier.

P.S. Southern Hospitality, the second book in my Calusa series will be out this week.

Just Fine with Caroline review

Published October 11, 2016 by francesothomas


Just Fine with Caroline is darker in tone than I expected. The story is set in the Ozarks in a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business. This is usually my favorite kind of book.

I was expecting lighthearted fun. But all the moonshine in the hollers can’t change the fact that no life is perfect. Caroline’s mother has Alzheimer’s, her cousin has up and left an abusive husband, and her gay best friend is afraid to come out and face ostracism.

Tall, dark, and exceedingly handsome Noah left town years ago, but now he’s back to reopen what once was his grandfather’s business across the street from the bait shop that Caroline runs since her mother no longer can.

Secrets from the past eventually are revealed and interfere with the budding romance.

Personally, I couldn’t really warm to any of the characters except Noah. Even the HEA wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped. The writing is fine, but this one is not my cup of tea.

Small town politics in Florida

Published July 18, 2016 by francesothomas

The Lady Is a Mayor_kindlecover

Protesters, clashing viewpoints, economic crisis.

No, not the presidential campaign. It all happens in my romance novella. And yes, it’s a comedy.

If you need a break from the Republican National Convention, here’s a lighter look at political goings on in a sort-of fictional small town.

When the mayor of Calusa flees town in the middle of the night, Geneva Price finds herself in charge and trying to hold it all together. Seth Connor, a swoon-worthy hotel developer (with good hair), might be the answer to her prayers, in more ways than one. But first she has to arrange a truce between the ecologists and the economists. Just a typical day in Florida.

I had such fun writing The Lady Is a Mayor. I hope you enjoy it.


Chasing Lady Amelia book review

Published June 27, 2016 by francesothomas

Chasing Lady Amelia


I gave up wearing high heels years ago. The benefits of stylishness weren’t enough to make up for the agony. So I can certainly sympathize when Lady Amelia just cannot keep pointy shoes that pinch on her feet until she gets home from the colossally boring ball at which she finds herself. Of course, scandal ensues. She is so overset when she returns home that her family slips her a wee drop of laudanum. What few inclinations she has toward correct behavior are gone.

Maya Rodale’s  Chasing Lady Amelia is the second of her Keeping Up With the Cavendishes series. Amelia is one of three American sisters who have come to London with their brother who has inherited a dukedom. She is a rebellious square peg that the Dowager Duchess is trying desperately to fit into the round hole of propriety.

Alistair is wending his way home when Amelia stumbles into his path. He takes her home with him for safe keeping and soon discovers his uncle wants her dowry. And Amelia wants an adventure.

The delightful duo set off to visit all the sights Amelia has been denied. Rodale cleverly has them observed by random people along the way and ties up these plot strings neatly.

Even the Dowager turns out to have a heart of gold.


The Trouble with Misbehaving book blast

Published May 26, 2016 by francesothomas



The Trouble with Misbehaving

by Victoria Hanlen

GENRE: Historical Romance

Victoria will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Please follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  


About the book:

Love, Betrayal and Redemption

Calista ‘CC’ Collins is used to being the talk of the town. With her scandalous past she’s learnt the hard way that a woman needs to be strong to get what she wants in a man’s world. And what she wants is the infamous Captain Beauford Tollier—roguish son of an earl, notorious blockade-runner and all-round knave of the seas.

However, Captain Beau is not one to be cajoled—he is done with the dangerous sea life and ready to follow the life of the straight and narrow. But with many powerful forces circling around him, Beau doesn’t stand a chance…

Excerpt :

Clutching her elbow, he led her across the manicured lawn into a copse of trees.

What are you do—”

He swung them behind a tree and peered out. Whatever she wanted to talk about suddenly lost importance. The villains following him were the more immediate problem.

“Tell me—”

“Shhhh.” He pressed a finger to her lips.

Two men in top hats stepped off the gravel path and picked their way across the lawn.

Beau marched C.C. deeper into the grove around trees and shrubs. Then through an archway of fragrant vines to a fountain struggling to reflect hazy moonlight. They needed to stay quiet and hidden.

“Before you drag me any further into the bushes—”

Didn’t the woman know the meaning of shhhh? She would give away their hiding place if he didn’t do something quick. He pulled her to him and covered her mouth with his. Mint and vanilla filled his senses.

Her sweet, almost maidenly response surprised him. No, she probably wasn’t a tart. Just a hasty stolen kiss, yet he couldn’t help appreciate the tantalizing fit of her supple lips under his and how her body softened against him. His heart stammered and launched into a faster beat. Lifting his head, he gazed about her bewildered, upturned countenance, breathlessly poised for a man’s kisses. Hmm, not entirely a maiden either.

Perhaps another quick kiss would clarify matters?



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Award winning, historical romance author, VICTORIA HANLEN, has worked at a wide range of jobs, from fashion, to corporate business, to treading the boards of stage and professional opera. A lifelong writer, she once put her skills to use in PR and advertising. But her favorite form of writing is happily-ever-afters spiced with a dash of wit and a page-turning mystery. Victoria and her husband live in rural New England surrounded by a host of wildlife.

She enjoys hearing from readers at:




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Buy Links:

The Trouble with Misbehaving will be $0.99 from May 26 – May 31.

Mills & Boon: https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/p46539/the-trouble-with-misbehaving.htm

Amazon  US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0175WV0AE

Amazon   UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trouble-Misbehaving-Victoria-Hanlen-ebook/dp/B0175WV0AE

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/victoria+hanlen

Google Play: https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Trouble_With_Misbehaving.html?id=1c_PCgAAQBAJ

Kobo books: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-trouble-with-misbehaving

BAM!: http://www.booksamillion.com/search?id=5529803929861&query=VICTORIA+HANLEN&where=eBooks


A Son’s Vow blog tour

Published January 27, 2016 by francesothomas


A Son’s Vow
The Charmed Amish Life #1

By: Shelley Shepard Gray

Releasing January 26, 2016
Avon Inspire

Avon will be hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for Three Print Bundles of the Amish Brides of Pinecraft series books 1-4 

Shelley Shepard Gray’s first book in her Charmed Amish Life series is set in the quaint Amish village of Charm, Ohio, and tells the stories of the Kinsinger siblings who are each struggling to find both forgiveness and love in the face of tragedy.

Three months ago, everything changed for Darla Kurtz and her family. Darla’s father was responsible for a terrible fire at Charm’s lumber mill which killed five Amish men. And though he, too, lost his life, the town of Charm hasn’t looked at her family the same since. Even Lukas Kinsinger—with whom Darla used to have a close friendship.

Now her brother’s anger at the town is spilling over onto Darla, and she has the bruises to prove it. The accident already cost five lives, but if something doesn’t change soon, Darla fears it will cost her—and her family—even more.

Lukas Kinsinger wants to mourn the loss of his father, but he can hardly find the time to breathe. Suddenly the head of his father’s lumber mill and responsible for taking care of his three siblings, he’s feeling the pressure. He has also never felt more alone—especially with the new tension between he and Darla. But when he learns of her troubles at home, Lukas knows he can’t simply stand by and watch. Someone has to help her before another tragedy occurs.

As Lukas and Darla attempt to repair their families, they discover something deeper than friendship growing between them. But will Lukas and Darla’s love be accepted after so much loss? Or will the pain of the past overcome any chance of future happiness?


Buy Links:  Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo



Chapter 1

March 20

It was another picture-perfect day in Charm.

The sky was pale blue, quietly complementing the acres of vibrant green farmland as far as the eye could see. Spring lambs had arrived. They were frolicking in the fields, their eager bleats echoing through the valley. The morning air was not too chilly or too damp. Instead, a hint of warmth teased, bringing with it as much hope as the crocus buds that peeked through the dark dirt of the numerous clay pots decorating cleanly swept front porches.

It was the type of morning that encouraged a person to go out walking, to smile. The type of day that reminded one and all that God was present and did, indeed, bestow gifts.

In short, it was the type of day that used to give Darletta Kurtz hope. A day like this should have made her happy, revitalized her. It should have made her want to pull out a pencil and one of her many notebooks and record the images she saw and list activities she wanted to do.

It was the kind of day she used to love and maybe, just maybe, take for granted.

But now, as she rested her elbows on the worn wooden countertop that had no doubt supported generations of postal workers before her, Darla could only silently acknowledge that another day had come. It was sure to feel as endless as the one before it, and would no doubt be exactly like the rest of the week.

It was another day to get through. A way to pass ten hours of expected productivity before she could retreat to her bedroom and collapse on her bed. Only then would she feel any sense of peace. Because only then would she be able to wait for oblivion. She’d close her eyes, fall into a peaceful slumber, and, hopefully, forget her reality for eight hours.

It had been ninety-nine days since her father died. Tomorrow would bring the one hundredth. It was a benchmark she’d never intended to look forward to. Wearily, she wondered if anyone else in Charm was anticipating the milestone as well.

Undoubtedly some were.

After all, her father hadn’t been the only man to die in the December fire at Kinsinger Lumber Mill. No, he was one of five. And though it wasn’t as if she’d ever forget that fact, there were many in Charm who took care to remind her constantly.

Just then, Mary Troyer pushed open the door to the post office. Darla braced herself.

“You have a lot of nerve, Darletta Kurtz, getting a job here,” Mary said as she slapped a ten-dollar bill on the counter. “It’s bad enough that your family stayed in town. Most folks would have left in shame after what your father did. Yet, here you are, thriving.”

Each word hurt, as Mary no doubt intended for them to. Darla thought she would have been used to the verbal abuse by now, but it still felt as jarring as it had the first time. Mary’s son Bryan had died in the same accident as Darla’s father, and she took every opportunity to make sure everyone in town was aware of her pain.

Just as she had two days before, Darla did her best to keep her voice even and her expression impassive. “What is it you’ll be needing today, Mary?”

Mary’s cheeks puffed up before replying. “One book of stamps. The flags.”

Quickly she gave Mary the stamps and her change, taking care to set the money on the counter so their fingers wouldn’t have to touch. “Here you go.” Then—though she would have rather said something, anything else—she added the words she’d heard her boss say dozens of times: “Danke for coming in.”

Mary narrowed her eyes. “That is all you’re gonna say?”

It was obvious that Mary was itching for a fight. But no way was Darla going to give it to her. She’d learned at least a couple of things in the ninety-nine days since the accident at the mill.

And even though she might be wishing Mary to perdition in her darkest moments, she knew it was always best to turn the other cheek. “There’s nothing to say. Your mind is made up to be angry with me.”

“My ‘mind’ has nothing to do with the facts. Everyone in Charm knows that your father caused the fire at the mill. That fire killed my Bryan, Clyde Fisher, Paul Beachy, and Stephen Kinsinger.”

Standing as straight as her five-foot-two-inch frame allowed her to do, Darla added quietly, “You forgot John Kurtz, Mary. My father died, too, you know.”


Author Info


Shelley Shepard Gray.JPG

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Hold Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads