What a Yellow Light Means

For reference, the yellow light mentioned above refers to this clip from the classic sitcom, Taxi.

Jim, the seated man in the blue jacket, needs to get a valid driver’s license for his job as a (you guessed it) taxi driver. This, along with other things, is hard for him as he’s had a rough life. The people standing nearby at the table are his friends, ready to help him if he needs it. (He will.)

This scene is genius, not only because it has Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Conaway 9but that is a recipe for entertainment all on its own) but because it’s a gorgeous example of friendship in action. Bobby (Conaway’s character) might be irritated that he’s not making himself understood, but he’s going to help Jim even so. Jim in turn, shows patience and consideration in giving Bobby what he (Jim) thinks he (Bobby) actually needs. In short, genius.

Small personal detour for a minute. My dad would have been one hundred years old this year. We had our ups and downs, but this clip brings up one of the top tier memories. Even when my dad’s Alzheimer’s was advanced, he could remember this bit word for word. He still found it hilarious. I’m not sure why I’m thinking about it today, apart from that being one potent piece of art.

Originally, I had meant to write about stationery today (well, Thursday actually but I have come to the conclusion that Thursdays do not work as well as I had expected they would.) and I will (thanks me, for remembering that bright sunlight like right now is perfect for photographing the planner and/or journal spreads; we’ll do that next.) How is the blogging going to sort out going forward? Your guess is as good as mine, but I do no I want to keep doing it. Maybe a monthly newsletter? Twice monthly? I’d love to keep it to a weekly basis. Storm’s blogging schedule remains unchanged. You know cats and routines.

Today was a family day, and my part of it was largely adulting, juggling schedules and moving plans around, etc. This included a pharmacy run, which included checking on a couple of things and updating our address in their records. Normally, this is anxiety-making. This time, though, I got aa pharmacist who was fun. There was banter. We commiserated over the inability to remember a number if not looking at it, and that yes there is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder put in backwards (meh on spring, hate summer, fall and winter equal whee, superpowers, awesomeness.) I rewarded myself with Zero Sugar Twizzlers, and then came straight home so I could knock “blog for crying out loud” off my to do list. (I didn’t put the for crying out loud part on the actual list, but I was thinking it. Not in those exact words.)

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, by an open window. A cool breeze blows on my skin. I am wearing a thin tank top and floaty trousers that I think are verging on the too big to wear when in responsible human mode (on purpose, yay me) but have a sweatshirt at the ready, because I will need it before too long. Probably when running trash after dinner. This will probably be a fend for yourself night, dinner wise, because what I want to do most is…write. Also read, but this feeling of wanting to put writing first, and having the ability to do so…I am holding onto that.


Rainy Afternoon Rambles

Raining off and on over here, as best I can tell. Today was the day when my new sleep medication figured out what it was supposed to do, so let’s say I am very well rested today. I hear birdsong and the sound of wheels on wet pavement, and a quick look outside tells me it has indeed rained. It’s been a hot while since I blogged. That happens sometimes. The best way to get back into it is to jump in there and start blabbering, so here we are.

Okay. First of all, I am still not ready for Kate and Toy’s split on This is Us. They are one of my ships. These things take time Shoot, it took me what, a couple of years to watch the Highlander TV series finale. Either the right time will roll around or it won’t. Either way, there is always fanfic if it turns out that’s what I need. I do plan to watch the rest of the farewell season, but don’t necessarily need a front row seat for everything. Has anybody else had an experience like that with a beloved series, book or TV?

Second, I am pretty much listening to “Don’t Tell Anyone,” by Semler, on repeat:

“I want to know your story like I wrote the page” — them’s powerful words for a writer. Also “Don’t tell them that I swore this wouldn’t be my life.” Also, the tune is as catchy as a cold at a daycare center. I mean that in the very best way.

Wait, wait, wait, did I just hear thunder? Because I think I just heard thunder. Thunderstorms are my number one favorite spring/summer weather. I am absolutely here for it if so.

So Wondrous Free
Maryhelen Clague

Oh man oh man oh man, this book. This hit me in the feels and my history loving heart. I was but a wee princess in Westchester County, NY during the Bicentennial, so a historical romance set in that era and place is one thousand percent going to catch my attention. Also, it was part of the giant birthday haul from my friend, Mary, who knows me and my historical romance reading tastes. For those who only know the modern flavor of historical romance, I might shelve this in historical fiction with romantic elements, and it works very well that way too. I don’t recall any on page snugglies, but our heroine, Nabby, must choose between two dashing men, one Patriot, one Loyalist, during a freaking revolution. More of that, please. I want to make there be more of that.

A young adult female Sim, with long blue hair and tattoos, stands in front of a white wall and wooden door, pointing to something out o frame.

Then there’s Sims. Sims, for me, is the current-day equivalent of my first-grade teacher noting that my schoolwork was MUCH better if I brought dolls to play with during free play time. I never thought I would get as into it as I am, not only playing the game, but creating my own Sims, with tons of custom content, mods, and even learning how to make my own custom content. Not sure how that is going to turn out, but I am looking forward to finding out. It seems to be doing well for my writing, so a-Simming I will go. Picture editing is next, because I love taking screenshots. Does anybody have any experiences with Lightroom? I’ve been curious. I’m already down the ReShade rabbit hole. May as well go all in on the visuals, though the next step does seem to mean ponying up for photo editing software. I’d use it, though, soooo….we shall see.

One more thing. There is now a window open, and there is fresh air coming through that window onto my skin as I sit here in a white t-shirt stolen from Real Life Romance Hero’s stash. Yep. It’s spring.


Strange Connections

First of all, I may possibly have Irish blood. I think. My birth mother’s last name could be of English or Irish origin, so we can be fairly sure it’s some sort of British Isles or thereabouts in my bio-ancestry. This has very little to do with today’s blog, except for the fact that A) it’s a starting point for me to blabber, B) I remember being at the house of MJK, well, she was nine, like me, so it was her parents’ home. It was a Victorian house with three stories and a wraparound porch and a triple (or quadruple?) garage that used to be a stable. They still called it the barn. No horses, only cars and a lawnmower, I remember being disappointed about that, even though we were in the middle of a lovely town in Westchester County.

MJK and I went to CCD together (after school religious classes for Catholic kids in public school) The Catholic school was closer to the K family’s house than to mine, so there were times Mama MJK would pick us both up and my mom would come get me from there. Also, my mom and Mama MJK got along well, so they probably considered it convenient that their kids got along, too. As for MJK’s little brother, SK, eh, he was a couple years younger, an energetic lad. All of this comes to mind because I was there on March 17th that year, and we thought it was absolutely hysterical that the weather for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NYC (I have a lot of initials in this post) did not fit with the season as we saw it. Snow. I remember seeing women holding some sort of banner, in shiny green leotards and I am going to guess pantyhose/nude tights.

We must have seen it on TV or in the newspaper, and I want to say it was the Big Thing for that afternoon. It’s funny the things that stay with us. Right now, I am reading The Woman Behind the Attic, by Andrew Neiderman (aka the VC Andrews ghostwrite. for the last few decades)

While I can’t say I am a fan of the ghostwritten books, the true Andrews canon has a special place in my heart. I remember it being passed around the halls of my school when the books first came out, and even though Foxworth Hall from the Dollenganger series (Jacobean mansion) or Whitefern, from My Sweet Audrina, probably have extremely little with the house I lived in when MJK and I went to CCD together, my brain insists on slotting rooms from that house into those stories. The attic ofr the Flowers in the Attic fame, will always first call to mind my father’s art studio which was also my playroom, and not an attic at all, but the window that looked out on the woods beyond somehow melded with the window on the cover of the book. Don’t ask me how this happens. I don’t make the rules.

For Whitefern, I will need to reread Audrina to remember what the house looked like, but the stairs, on which Important Things Happen will always be the L-shaped stairs from the second story of my childhood home (where the studio/playroom was.) I have no idea how my brain connected those things, as I was several years out of that house when I read those books, but it’s in there, and in there deep. like the memory f being in that kitchen on that day, and the sting of witch hazel on my scraped knee (not the same day, I don’t think, but that same room) or the fun memory games MJK’s dad would incorporate into her birthday parties. The staircase going up all three stories also inserted itself in my reading of Diana Gabaldon’s comments in her Outlander companion, about here being an hombre at the door.

Long story short, writer’s minds are messy places. Aladdin’s caves. There’s also the fact that one of my research rabbit holes is rebooted or spun-off TV shows and their lore. Who knows where that will end up? Wherever it is, I look forward to the journey.

How about you?


The Monkee Lestat

Earlier this week, I found out, on the same day, of the passing of two big influences on my creativity. I found out about Anne Rice first, during my morning Facebook browse, and then, a little later, Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. Both of those hit me, but in different ways.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I first discovered Anne Rice when I stumbled upon Interview With the Vampire, movie version, maybe a half hour in, on a random FB browse. I sat there rapt until the end, immediately sought out the book, then The Vampire Lestat, and hunted down more information on Anne Rice, who had created them. Of course Interview was about grief, and man oh man did she nail it. Not so much the vampire part, surprisingly, but her historical atmosphere so real that it dripped with the Old New Orleans feel. I was actually more of a Louis gal than a Lestat one, but that’s okay. What stuck with me most wasn’t the actual vampires, but the feelings that came along with it. I don’t remember when I wandered away from the franchise. Maybe before Egypt came fully into play, and maybe I will one day go back and read it all.

What I absolutely had to know was the author’s relationship with the Lestat character. I remember reading in some nonficiton book or article or even paper (yes, I tracked down an academic paper) where the author knew the exact moment Lestast left her, and I could see it, feel it, along with her. I also remember reading at a later date of the moment when Lestat came back, and I felt that, too. It’s a special relationship between author and character.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

And then (hey hey) there’s the Monkees. We were born the same year (me and the group, that is; the original people were young adults.) All I knew at the time I discovered them in the early 70’s, when their TV show was in reruns, was they were silly and funny and I liked their music. I wasn’t sure where their parents were until I figured out they were adults and performing was their job. Oh, like The Partridge Family, but adults. Okay. Once again (or really before, since I found The Monkees before Lestat and company) I was more of a Davy gal than a Mike one, but I can say that Michael Nesmith was an amazing songwriter, and I have fond memories of watching his special, “Television Parts” which only addressed Monkee-dom with “I was a Monkee. This is my hat,” and then on with the show. I can respect that.

When the Monkees reunion in the 80s happened, I was in ult, and while disappointed that Mike wasn’t going to be part of it, I also understood. As a newly minted adult myself, he wanted to do other things. Cool. I still love Pool It, the Micky/Davy/Peter comeback album. They still had it. The earlier losses of Davy Jones and Peter Tork also hit me. I appreciate all of their work and am thankful for the legacies they left. I watched a clip from one of their last performances, attached to an official statement from Micky Dolenz, possibly their last time performing “Me and Magdalena,” which I adore, from their first release after Davy’s passing.

Maybe it was even the last time Mike and Micky performed it. This was advertised as The Monkees Farewell Tour, the Micky and Mike show. Micky described Mike as “frail” near the end, and yes, I saw it. I also saw what Micky said about Mike insisting on doing the tour, no matter what anyone else said. Micky carried more of the load than usual there, but Mike gave it all he could, and it showed. I can one thousand percent respect that.

There’s definitely part of both of their works in the writing I have done and am doing and will do. Just remembering for right now, thankful for what they gave us in more ways than they knew.

What celebrity’s work would you like to celebrate this week?

Pre-Thanksgiving Rambles

This morning, for my weekly chat with bud Mary, I turned my folding desk around, so that my back was not to an off-white wall, but the rustic bookcase festooned with white fairy lights. Note to self: get more fairy lights. I had every intention of writing a “real” blog post (what is a real blog post, anyway?) but then after an extremely good chat that ended with online ornament shopping and discussion of the big epic novels/miniseries of the 1970s, aka high drama, it hit me that we are on Thanksgiving Eve, which means it’s basically a holiay, and I do need to set up my Christmas planner, because the day after Thanksgiving, is Black Friday, and it’s go, go, GO into Holiday Mode.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

We do have our tree to put up. This year, beyond the basic colored balls, we have a gorgeous Tudor rose ornament from Mary, and that means it is high time to have some more personalized ornaments on the tree. Cats, writing instruments, that sort of stuff. Can’t go into that unprepared and still face myself in the morning. Which will be Thanksgiving morning.

This year, we are going with a theme of “we tired,” and will be ordering in or getting takeout like the city dwellers we are. Pajamas all day if possible, relaxing, getting current on streaming backlog, reading, and hitting the ground running for full on holiday mode. I will be armed with lists, more lists, and lists of lists. No, I am not kidding on that one. I can take organization to meticulous levels when I have a mind to, and when I am all hopped up on visions of sugarplums and all that other good stuff, well, think of the logical outcome. All of that means that putting thought into a “real” post is not on my agenda.

One of the things I am list-ing is a somewhat loose TBR for the coming year, though I may not wait that long to get started. It all depends on what the library has in store. When I fell down the rabbit hole of V. C. Andrews analysis videos, I glommed hard on to the high drama factor, and what captures high drama than those big 70s epics I mentioned earlier? I was a bit young for those the first time around, but getting a taste for them now, so sprinkling them through the coming year might be something to add to my plans for 2022. Reading high drama fuels writing high drama and I do love my high drama. I know, big surprise on that one.

Anyway, the lure of a pillow fort and hand-knit afghan is calling, with a Kindle full of books, and a paperback Christmas historical romance anthology right there on the nightstand. I have a cuddly kitty and a plentiful tea supply. Also, my brain wants, very very strongly, to go back into fiction mode, and that pillow fort would put me verrrry near a lot of my pens. If you’ve been here longer than five minutes, you know all about me and pens. (Did I mention that I have started to see holiday pen gift sets popping up in stores? Have to say PaperMate is stepping it up this year.

What’s on tap for your holiday?)

Plot Bunnies in the Attic

First of all, Storm is on heat lockdown (we do plan on getting her spayed) and thus was not allowed to use the computer unsupervised. She kept attempting to log onto Cat Tinder, and we could not have that. Seriously. I found her profile picture.

single black, white, and orange female….

Beyond that, things are going pretty well over here. I was a bit under the weather over the weekend, but feeling much better now, and excited over the holiday season proper being right around the corner. For those of us who are stationery aficionados, that means new planner season is coming. For those of us who write fiction, it’s time to look ahead at the coming writing year. For those of us who are both, that means time to work on a writing planner.

One of those sections is creating a “stuck list,” aka books, movies, TV, other media that usually gets my idea hamster on the wheel and running like they think they are Wilma Rudolph or Usain Bolt.

For me, the book section includes romance and non-romance books. One of the non-romances, that I come back to time and again, is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. As a romance writer, that does give me a moment of pause. Trigger warning: incest, child abuse.

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Dollenganger #1

Though there is an intimate relationship between teen protagonists Cathy and Chris, who are full siblings, under extremely extenuating circumstances, this isn’t a romance. It’s a tragedy. I’ve classified it as horror, of the psychological sort, and it is that, but as I wandered down my most recent FITA rabbit hole (it happens every once in a while) I found myself thinking, as I usually do when I revisit good ol’ Foxworth Hall (sarcasm mode on for that house name) “how would this work as a historical romance?”

Not, I should note, that I would ever want to have a hero and heroine who are full, half, step, foster, etc siblings. Not my thing. The big old house with centuries of heritage behind it, though? Oh yes. The family secrets? Yep. The family dysfunction? Well, of course. The creepy-deepy atmosphere? Um, have you met me? You know this is all Anna-nip when it comes to inspiration. I do have to admit that I had some degree of shock when I saw the Lifetime TV movie adaptation of the first book (there are five in all, number five being a prequel; when I reread, I read FITA, then the prequel, then FITA again, as the prequel is the origin story of the villainess) and very seldom pay any attention to the books in between. That’s just me, though.

My other listening obsession is podcasts on romance writing/reading, of which there are delightfully a lot. Though I don’t recall the specific episode where I heard author Sarah MacLean say that she also always thinks “how would this work as a historical romance?” my brain did catch on that. Fellow author Corinna Lawson once told me, after I’d given one of my very first workshops on what is now Play in Your Own Sandbox, Keep All the Toys, that I tend to “take fantasy inspiration and file off all the fantasy.” She’s not wrong, as I first got my start writing Star Trek: The Next Generation fanfic that read like historical romance with blinky things. I think the same thing might well apply to horror.

I did mention above that I have always classed FITA into horror, and with the discovery of some analyses of the Andrews books (only the actual V. C Andrews, thanks. Not the ghostwriter.) that it also fits into gothic drama, and since most of her stories take place in the south, Southern Gothic elements abound. I love that stuff. I gobble the classic gothic romances of the late sixties/early seventies when I can find them, and some authors who are on my top tier historical romance list, like Valerie Sherwood and Aola Vandergriff, also wrote in this gothic genre. Hmmmm. Hmmm. Hmmmmm.

Romance, though, particularly historical (the tone of my contemporaries with Melva Michaelian are decidedly different and equally natural) with HEAs and dating outside of the family line. Right now, I am at the phase of noting things on my stuck list and leaving them to marinate, to ponder in days to come. Maybe this will come in handy when I revise Orphans in the Storm, which may be on tap for 2022. Maybe not, but it’s always fun to examine something that gets the idea hamster on the move, and that’s a worthwhile end in its own right.

What surprising items might you put on your stuck list?

Ripped From The Journal Pages

Yesterday was a good writing day. Like, a really good writing day. The super functional monthly view of planning my writing tasks seems to be working super well, on this second week of doing it. Okay, the edges of the pages are decorated, but every daily box is only black ballpoint bullet lists of writing stuff I want to accomplish. There’s household stuff in there, too, so for June, I will be splitting those into two different calendars. It usually stays on the kitchen table (my temporary desk) next to me, open, for easy reference, especially when new things like deadlines or interviews crop up during the day.

trust me, there is a lot more written in those boxes now

It’s also already allowing me to spot patterns. The day after my weekly chat with Melva is usually best as a lighter day. Since this week, we met on Tuesday, that means that today is a lighter day. It’s also a blog day. I can bypass the “what do I blog about” problem by noting beforehand things I find interesting and want to blabber about for an entry. Yesterday, it was this from my morning pages:

Today is a writing day!!! Not staring at a blank wall and cranking out words (Editing Anna interrupts: if that is your best way to work, this is not a drag on that. You do you. Crank on, you magnificent cryptid.) I would rather deck a sylvan glade with fairy lights and invite my imaginary friends (aka characters) to dance. The band would be Right Said Fred

and classic era Monkees

Coin flip for who headlines and who opens. I’m good either way. The dance floor lights in tune to the music, and there is a bottomless buffet off to the side, with mismatched chairs and settees arranged in conversation groups around an assortment of small tables. Besides their own songs, the bands cover “Dance With Me” as well as “Moondance” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

The air is not too hot and not too cold. It’s a night that could last forever, and, technically, it can. That’s one of the things I love about writing romance. Happily ever after means forever.

I’ll stop it for there, since I have been called back to the dance floor, as it were. The bands are jamming, the lights are twinkling, and the breeze feels like a kiss on my skin.

One more thing: you, yes you, are most definitely invited.

https://www.patreon.com/posts/historical-40142765check out this historical era poll on my Patreon

Raiding The Lost Archives

Low key Monday, my background sounds a crackling hearth ambient sound thingamaboodle, tea in my favorite mug at hand, and a loose list of things to get done in the first half of the week at the ready. So far, so good.

I can’t believe it’s already going to be December tomorrow. We are, as a family, in a much better place, both mentally and physically, than we were last year, and it’s still in the getting used to it phase. The longer away, the farther the road back, some may say. In a lot of ways, that’s true. There are also times when it’s an instant transition like a Star Trek transporter. That happens, without warning, when one makes frequent trips to the storage units when settling into new digs after a long time away.

My keeper historical romance novels are still in the unit somewhere, but we will be retrieving them hopefully soon, as A) I want to read them, and B ) I have some plans for both Buried Under Romance and my return to vlogging, and I am pretty excited about both A and B. Pens and paper and various stationery items are steadily coming home to roost, and falling organically (I love when that happens) into their own patterns and methods of use. When asked if I am a pantser or a plotter, my answer is “puzzler,” which has elements of both. To put in Dr. Who terms, it’s a wibbly wobbly time wimey flying into the mist, picking up breadcrumbs as I go sort of thing. That means frequent ambushes of hibernating ideas, ninja memories, not only launch surprise attacks when I think I am doing things as mundane as unpacking dishes, but they gang with things I didn’t think I had any interest in before, but when they are hanging out with Thing I Already Like or Thing I Forgot I Like (or both) well, that’s a different story.

Playing (highly customized) Sims 4, listening to commentary on The Last of Us
(adult content warning for scary things)

Story, of course, being the key word. There’s the feeling of a glimmer of…something when one least expects it, a “hmm, that’s interesting,” and then, before one knows it, one is cannonballing into a rabbit hole, five tabs open at once, listening to commentary on video games one has never played on in the background, looking for custom content in a game one does play, to capture the same mood and/or aesthetic, but make it romance, and…yeah. A writer’s mind is a messy but beautiful place, and in this season of gratitude, I am very thankful I have one.

It happens in a moment, listening to ambient sounds, playing a game with the sound off because the other sounds are better, and one looks away from a moment, and one’s instinctive “noooooo!” turns to “hm, what if…?” I like those moments. They move quite naturally, when all aligns, from screen to pen and paper, to keyboard and back to screen. To readers, one day. Getting to that place, it would seem is not such a long road back at all.

Typing With Wet Paws: Let’s Get Moving Edition

Tails up, Storm Troopers! I’m Storm, you’re awesome, and this is Typing With Wet Paws. This past week was better for Aunt Anna, anxiety-wise, but there has been a lot of adulting, a very warm hotel room that would be quite cozy in winter, but it’s not winter (don’t worry, the owner/manager is on the case, and it will be back to normal soon; he is only making sure the place will be warm in winter.) and the newest thing: we may be able to get into New Apartment *sooner* than we had expected. Not official yet, but a strong possibility.

Coming back from bad anxiety can take a while, and it’s more a bunch of baby steps in the right direction until, oh hey there, she’s writing again. A lot of it was playing Sims while listening to You Tube videos. For this past week, a lot of it was from the channel Heart Breathings, which is where author Sarra Cannon shares how she does what she does. One of the things Ms. Sarra said was that having beautiful stationery makes her want to look at the pages more, which is exactly how Aunt Anna feels.

so we’re doing this now…

I should mention that the pages you see here are not from Heart Breathings, but from Aunt Anna’s Writing Helps Pinterest board. She did print out a bunch of stuff from M. Sarra’s board, though, and will talk about that more later. Big life changes affect writing a lot more than a human might like, so trying new things may be a good way to get back into a routine that works best for the writer a person is, now.

I should also mention that, at this time last year, besides not knowing me yet (we call that the Dark Ages) Aunt Anna thought the Happy Planner line was silly and ew, plastic discs. Then she got two for her birthday, and now she loves it, especially the notebooks,. and has found a use for every size they offer, from big to micro. She likes metal discs better than plastic, which is fine by me, because I think the plastic ones will be perfect for playing with in the new apartment. We all know that’s going to happen.

Anyway, there is a questionnaire she printed about how to reconnect with a story after time away, and boy does she ever need that one. Some of those questions are hard, but also look like they can pinpoint what went wrong and how to fix it. For Aunt Anna, a lot of the time, the big stumbling block is “I don’t know.” We are working on that and while it’s kind of scary, nothing can be as scary as the year just past, so she’s up for the challenge. NaNoWriMo is not a go but it’s not off the table, especially in an unofficial capacity. Right now, she’s counting progress in “units” which she will explain later, and seems to work pretty well so far, and, most importantly, does not need to be perfect. She is also kind of salty that she thinks she might like to try a writing group again, but NY is still taking precautions, so maybe online groups might be a good idea.

As you can imagine, this is one of those drive-by posts but Aunt Anna wanted to show signs of life, and it is Feline Friday, after all. More details to come as she has them, including a review of how these new tools work for her and the way she writes now.


Summer of Love Standout Standalones

Many thanks to all who responded to my last post on a blogging deep dive on some favorite romance series. I had so much fun with that post and the feedback, that my first thought was, “why stop there?” So, I won’t. My first and fiercest love in historical romance (or any fiction) is the standalone. One story, one book, that’s all she/he/they wrote. There’s something special about closing the cover on a book that doesn’t have companion volumes, and letting my own mind fill in the happily ever after, waving our lovers off into the sunset and on with the rest of their lives. Once upon a time, that was the norm. Right now, series drive the market. What will come next? Who knows? What doesn’t change, however, is the power of a great story, . If it’s full and complete in itself, well, for me, all the better, so I want to take you on a tour of some of my very favorites. Since standalone books are naturally shorter than entire series, I am sharing five examples instead of only three, for your consideration. Once again, in no particular order:

The Wind and the Sea, Marsha Canham

Nobody, but nobody swashes the buckle like Marsha Canham, and I remember exactly where I was the first time I saw this cover in person, and knew I had to have this book. I will always look at a pirate story, and if it’s a female pirate, that book Is on my shelf of its own free will. Add in a Barbary Coast (North Africa) setting, the US Navy (set in 1806) and the big, thick doorstopper size I prefer for books of this nature, this is an adventure for the ages. Canham has other seafaring stories (among others) both series and standalones, but for this particular project, this gets the nod.

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A Woman of Passion, Virginia Henley

Far and away my favorite Henley standalone (though there are a couple I still need to read, so favorite standalone presumptive?) Straddling the line between historical romance and historical fiction, the heroine, Bess, is based on the historical figure, Elizabeth Hardwick. No, she’s not the “Elizabeth” in the Elizabethan era, in which this is set (Elizabeth Tudor, AKA HRH Elizabeth I, is) but man oh man does she have a life. Or should that be men, oh men, because Bess doesn’t marry just once but four times. But is it still a romance? There have been discussions, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves…or read along with me and let’s talk it out.

Can’t get enough of Tudor-era romance? I know I can’t (remember when that used to be a thing? Who wants to help bring that back?) Love shipwreck stories? How about love on a deserted island? No, not Gilligan’s. This is the tale of Lily Christian, who grew up on such an island after a shipwreck stranded her small family, and Valentine Whitelaw (one of my favorite romance hero names ever) the courtier tasked with bringing her home. Lily is smart, strong, resilient and resourceful, Valentine is a man of his time, and there is intrigue aplenty, unmaskign the true reason behind the accident that changed Lily’s life forever. This also has one of my top three romance endings ever.

Broken Wing, Judith James

Those with small children may want to occupy the kiddos in another room for this one because hecking fluff, doe James ever go there. Where exactly is “there?” Oh sweet summer child. Let me tell you about this book. Gabriel St. Croix is the last person who would consider himself a hero. He has lived and worked (yep, doing exactly what you think, his clients not restricted to one gender) most of his life in a brothel. He’s thisclose to finally being free of that living hell, when a young boy arrives to become his replacement, and, well, Gabriel can’t let that happen. If he stays on, will the boy remain untouched? Yes. Okay, then. That’s not all, though. His reason for staying is about to be ripped away from him, as Sarah Munroe, the boy’s sister, has finally found him, and will be taking him home. Not only that, but Gabriel can come, too. Culture shock? To say the least. Sarah is unconventional herself, and when these two wounded souls meet, the click together to form an incredible romance. Yes, there is an HEA.

Tapestry, Karen Ranney

Laura cannot imagine ever not loving Alex, not from since she was a little girl, and certainly not after he returns home from the war so scarred that he shuts himself away and wears a leather mask to shield himself and his scars, both physical and mental/emotional, from the rest of the world. But Laura isn’t the rest of the world. She is a take charge heroine who is not going to let a little thing like that stop her from rescuing Alex from himself. If that means putting aside her identity as a daughter of the nobility to sign on as the new housekeeper so she can get close to him, well that’s what she’s going to do. Her job isn’t easy, either, and this is an extremely emotional read…which is one of the reasons it’s on this list. I am sorry to say that the author, Karen Ranney, passed away recently, so a reread of this feels both timely and bittersweet.

So there you have it, five standout standalone historical romance novels that I would love to deep dive into with all of you. Which one catches your fancy? Drop suggestions in the comments, or message me at annacbowling@gmail.com or come join the Lion and Thistle group on Facebook, and tell me your favorites.