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Portrait of the Author as a Young…Edwardian?

Last year, when I announced to my family that I had sold two books to Harlequin Historical, my sister surprised me with a piece of commissioned art. It was a portrait of me, done by this AMAZING artist. (The link leads to his Instagram account.)

She asked that I be drawn in an Edwardian costume, because this is the time period I usually write in–and I happen to LOVE the clothes. Don’t they make me look dignified? Like a proper Lady Authoress who sits at her desk holding a fountain pen with ink stained fingers, instead of the disreputable gremlin that I am, lounging on the couch with snacks and a laptop and panicking about my wordcount.

As the release date for my Harlequin debut, Compromised Into A Scandalous Marriage, draws nearer, I keep looking back at those giddy weeks almost a year ago when Sebastian and Paulina were known only to my agent Sarah, my editor Nicola, and myself. I can’t wait for them to make their way out into the world!

The disreputable gremlin in me is too busy with the next book to do much more than growl and reach for another cookie, but the Lady Authoress depicted above hopes that you will enjoy reading about Sebastian and Paulina’s adventures as much as she enjoyed writing them.

A Summer and a Lifetime

Did you know that A Summer for Scandal has a companion?

As much as I loved writing from Emilia’s point of view, I was always curious about her sister Susana’s inner thoughts. So much of A Summer for Scandal revolves around Susana and Luis’s relationship that the story didn’t feel complete to me until I had given them a way to voice their thoughts.

A Lifetime for Love is a fairly short story retelling the events of A Summer for Scandal from Susana and Luis’s perspective. This is how it starts…

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Drawing courtesy of my sister!

Arroyo Blanco, 1911

Susana Cruz was deathly afraid of green lizards. She was wary of all kinds of lizards as a matter of course, even the tiny brown ones everyone knew were harmless, but the green ones were by far the most horrifying. When they weren’t lurking, invisible, among the glossy leaves of the philodendrons growing outside her bedroom window, they were making their way inside the house and burrowing into dark corners where they might spring out at her if she dared disturb their peace.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Susana,” Emilia said, coming to the rescue after Susana’s scream of surprise had startled her away from her typewriter. “Lizards are harmless–not only that, they’re useful to have around. They eat roaches.”

Susana had been hearing variations of that for most of her twenty-five years and it didn’t make her more kindly disposed toward the creatures. “I’d just as soon not have reptiles taking up residence inside my vanity,” she told her sister with a shudder.

Disagreeable as it was to have lizards appearing among your hairpins, it was even worse when they leapt from branches and landed right on your lap–exactly what happened the very next weekend as Susana and her friends had coffee in the patio of Rosa Castillo’s house.

They had arranged themselves in the shade of the mango tree in wicker chairs brought out from the porch, heedless of the minuscule flowers and stems that occasionally drifted down. Susana had just set down the pretty flowered demitasse on its saucer and rested it against her knee and was leaning forward to inspect the embroidery on Carmen Vidal’s new handbag when something heavier than a flower plopped onto the brim of her hat. She hardly had time to be startled before the intrepid lizard decided to seek a more comfortable spot and ventured down onto her cup with another leap.

It was virulently green and as long as her hand, with a tail that tapered to a thin point and swept unpleasantly over her wrist.

Several things happened at once–coffee sloshed down the pale peach skirt of her dress, Susana jumped to her feet and threw up her hands, causing the cup to go flying, the lizard scurried off to safety as the other girls echoed her cry and spilled more than one cup in their surprise…and Susana, her skirt now stained and her hat knocked askew, lifted her gaze in time to see Luis Rojas come around the mango tree.

Well, I broke my website.

It was pretty bare bones to begin with, but I decided it would be fun to add a sidebar widget that showed my latest TikTok posts (not that I’m all that active on social media, but still…) Instead, what what I did was… well, I’m not really sure what I did. The widgets vanished, as did the background image, the colors and fonts changed, and the navigation links got all out of order.

I poked around and managed to right some things–though not everything–and after more than a day of fiddling with things that I never should have fiddled with in the first place, I have come to the conclusion that I should probably hire someone who knows what they’re doing. Not to put everything back the way it was because let’s face it, it wasn’t all that great to begin with, but to build me a website that’s actually pretty and easier to navigate.

As for me, I will leave the website fiddling to the experts and go back to what I do best–pretending to be writing while actually being too busy making my writing space **aesthetic** to actually get any words down.

New Release!

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Amazon US * Amazon UK * Kobo * Barnes and Noble

Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss and Other Stories (what a mouthful!) is a brand-new holiday anthology. It’s fairly short, with only three stories. In them, you’ll be able to find impulsive Christmas kisses, badly peeled plantains, way too many pastelitos and some of the Caribbean holiday traditions I grew up with.

An earlier version of the first story, an f/f romance, is available for free here.

As always, I’m pleased to provide review copies of this and any other of my books. Just contact me via the form in my website.

Happy (belated!) holidays and happy reading!

 

Giveaway! Signed Madeline Hunter!

When I went to the RT convention last May, I was lucky enough to meet a toooon of lovely Romancelandia ladies. Among them was Madeline Hunter, who happens to be pretty lovely and sweet herself–so sweet that when she signed my copy of The Most Dangerous Duke In London, she gave me a second one to give away! (Plus a cool magnet!)

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I thought I’d take advantage of my trip to NYC (and the less-than-astronomical shipping prices from the U.S.) to FINALLY get it out to you guys.

I’ll include a handwritten note from myself and a bar of artisanal Dominican chocolate! (If you want it. It doesn’t…melt in the post, does it?)

So the rules of the giveaway are as follows: Comment on this post for a chance to win! The winner will be randomly selected on Sept. 25th at midnight EST.

This giveaway will be open until Monday, September 25th and is open internationally.

Good luck! ❤

Don’t let other people decide who you are.

Earlier today, Sil (@thebookvoyagers) posted a book aesthetic on the lovely Twitter account @diverseaesthetic (which you really should be following if you aren’t already!) that was inspired by The Infamous Miss Rodriguez. I loved everything about it–the model! the colors!–but what struck me the most was the quote: Don’t let other people decide who you are.

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Partly because it encapsulates my own struggle in trying to define myself in the face of other people’s expectations. If there’s one thing about Dominican society–and families, especially!–it’s that everyone has an opinion on how you should behave, dress, speak… I think I’m finally beginning to find a way to be less apologetic of what I want to be and what I want out of life, but it’s taken almost thirty years and it hasn’t always been easy.

But the quote also describes the Ciudad Real series with stunning accuracy. In the novella I’ve already published and the three novels that will make up the series, each of the protagonists is also struggling to define her own identity and desires and reconcile that with what’s expected of them as women in 1911, as members of their respective families and as people who hold particular places in society.

In The Infamous Miss Rodriguez, Graciela is determined to put an end to her aunt’s wish that she submit quietly to a marriage that will put funds in the family coffers but that Graciela desperately wishes to avoid. And she plans to, by any means necessary.

Beatriz, the heroine of The Respectable Miss Tolentino (the one I’m working on at the moment) wants no part of her mother’s idealizations of relationships and romance and sets out to build herself a marriage on her own terms.

Camila, who has always been the sensible one in her family, and who has always done what’s required of her, chafes under their expectations in The Reckless Miss Garcia, until she finds the courage to give in to her own desires, even when it seems reckless, selfish and irresponsible.

And then there’s Sofia, in The Penniless Miss Alcantara, an heiress who longs to be appreciated by something other than her fortune, and who isn’t sure how to make Society see who she really is. (Don’t worry–she will.)

It won’t be easy, but like Graciela, the other women will find a way to live their lives–and find love!– on their own terms. Because, as this other aesthetic made by Sil says, freedom, especially the freedom to be oneself, whoever that person is, is the ultimate luxury.

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A Summer for Scandal has been re-released!

I’m so excited to announce that A Summer for Scandal, the first book in my Arroyo Blanco Series, has been re-released!

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When Emilia Cruz agreed to accompany her sister to a boating party, she had no idea that the darling of the literary world would be in assistance—or that he would take such pleasure in disparaging the deliciously sinful serial she writes under a pseudonym. No one save her sister knows she’s the author and to be found out would mean certain scandal.

Stuck on his long-awaited second book, Ruben Torres has begun to edit in secret a gossip paper whose literary reviews are as cruel as they are clever. The more he writes about the mysterious author of a popular serial, the more papers he sells…and the more he is determined to find out her identity before anyone else can. 

In addition to the gorgeous new cover that will be in line with the upcoming books in the series, A Summer for Scandal now has an epilogue and some expanded scenes (some with a little extra steam!). I’ve also taken the opportunity to fix a few mistakes that slipped into the first version.

If you’ve already purchased it, you can update the file via the retailer you bought it from. (If for some reason you’re unable to update, contact me via the contact form on this site and I’ll email you a copy in the format of your choice, plus my deepest apologies!)

If you haven’t, well, what are you waiting for? You can find A Summer for Scandal at the following retailers:

Amazon US   Amazon UK   iBooks    Kobo   Smashwords   B&N

As the first book in the series, A Summer for Scandal will remain at a discounted price of US$ 1.99.

Add it on Goodreads here and check out the Pinterest board I created for it:

If you’re interested in more stories set in Arroyo Blanco, you might enjoy A Season for Wishes, a Christmas novella set in the town.

Amazon US   Amazon UK   Kobo   Smashwords   iBooks   B&N

And if you’re curious about the woman who tries to convince Ruben she’s Miss del Valle, she has a novella of her own! The Infamous Miss Rodriguez is the first in a series that takes place in Ciudad Real.

Amazon US   Amazon UK   Kobo    Smashwords    iBooks   B&N

And so does Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kissa free short story!

Also, did you know that A Summer for Scandal has a companion short story?

As for the next book in the Arroyo Blanco series, A Time for Desire is the story of Roberto Sandoval and Rosa Castillo, one of the suffragettes who appears in A Summer for Scandal. It features government corruption, tons more suffragettes, and a bearded hero (if you follow me on Twitter, you know those are my favorite kind of heroes!). It will be available sometime in late 2017.**

Whew! I think that’s all for now! As always, I love to hear from you, so leave me a comment or find me on Twitter!

** Don’t ask, lol

El Directorio de Deschamps

My latest post for Edwardian Promenade is the first part in a (short!) series of posts on ways Dominicans amused themselves in the Edwardian era.

One of the resources I used for writing it was Enrique Deschamp’s La Republica Dominicana. Directorio y Guia General.

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Published in 1907, it’s a compendium of information about…well, everything Dominican. Deschamps’ Directorio includes detailed a detailed history of the island from Taino times, texts describing the Dominican constitution, its exports and main industries, social customs and its towns.

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Photographs of prominent Dominican men and women abound in its pages, some of whom you may recognize from my tweets.

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In his Directorio, Deschamps collects poems, essays and stories, as well as sheet music. The Directorio also serves as a guide for businesses all around the island. If you needed to find anything or anyone in 1907, this was where you first looked.

And if you’re a historian or historical novelist interested in the Dominican Republic in the Edwardian era, Enrique’s totally got your back.

I do have to add that Enrique was a member of a wealthy elite of Santiago de los Caballeros and it shows in the way (sometimes disparaging, sometimes condescending) he writes about the popular classes.

 

2016

I didn’t write a lot in 2016.

I spent most of January haunting the hospital after one of my best friends was admitted into the ICU on January 2nd. For the next 27 days, I read the frothiest romances and the most delightfully magical MG novels I could find. And then, when my friend passed away on January 29th, just as we were tentatively making plans for her recovery, I began trying to outrun grief.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel around Spain, France and the U.S. As I did, I began to push myself to do more and see more and live more. I dated more (and was completely infuriated by infuriating boys but also met someone who turned out to be very lovely), I tried to be more social (I clubbing in Nice on my birthday! And didn’t spontaneously combust!) and tried to do all the bookish things I’d never done before: a book launch in NYC! The Brooklyn Book Festival! (Where I spoke to absolutely no one but attended lots of fantastic panels and silently fangirled over a lot of awesome writers, so yay.) I even went to the Baltimore Book Festival, lured by the promise of three days full of smart romance writers saying lots of smart things. (They did not disappoint.) There, I tried to be a little more vocal in my fangirling and ended up being an absolute nerd (Remind me to tell you about the time I told Alisha Rai her hair was pretty and then wandered away, absolutely overcome).

I kept myself busy, and even when I found the time to write, the words wouldn’t always come. So I revised The Infamous Miss Rodriguez, which I’d mostly finished the year before. I fiddled (and still am) with A Time For Desire, the next Arroyo Blanco novel. I started the next Ciudad Real novel, a snippet of which I’ll share below.

I made plans for 2017 and watched as most of them, as well as the world, it seemed like, fell apart.

But I also I visited cities I’d never been in before, and wandered around some old favorites. I read so many amazing books. I watched (not creepily, I promise!) as my books were read and enjoyed. And I met so many lovely people, both online and off, both in the U.S. and here at home (I made a romance-loving friend and we’ve been talking about possibly attending RT next year).

I didn’t get a chance to speak to my friend after she was admitted into the ICU, though I did sneak in once to see her. I didn’t get to say goodbye or make any promises. But for years, we’d been joking that we needed to be less responsible and “good” and a little more wild and daring. I tried my best to do that this year, and even though I had to do it alone, I’d like to think that Gaby approves.

And I’d like to think that 2017 will bring with it more opportunities to continue living as fully as possible, come what may.

And here is a tiny snippet from The Respectable Miss Tolentino, the next book in the Ciudad Real series:

Miss Tolentino’s gaze flickered over him. “Blast, shit and damnation,” she said distinctly. “I don’t see what’s so wicked about a few words.”

She might not, but he could—those few words, coming from her lips, delivered in that crisp voice of hers, made a flame of desire burst instantly to life inside Eduardo. It occurred to him that she adopted that particular tone when she was rattled. Was it the profanity that made her consonants come out clear as the ringing of church bells, or was she as affected by his proximity as he was by hers? Now, there was a delightful thought. He turned it over in his mind for a moment, then stored the thought away carefully until he might examine it more closely. 

“You’re right, Miss Tolentino. What is it that suffragettes say? Deeds, not words? I believe it’s time we turn our efforts towards the execution of some very sinful deeds.”