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What have I been up to lately?

You mean, aside from inhaling inhuman amounts of coffee and frozen Oreos?

One of the last outdoor writing sessions I managed to sneak in before the heat got to be too much for me!

Summer in the tropics usually means rainstorms, cyclones and hurricanes. The heat and humidity are unbearable–and yet, not a single Dominican will give up their mid-afternoon coffee.

It’s also Sahara dust season–for days at a time, the sky grows hazy with particles that have blown halfway across the world. The beaches are thick with brown algae, and heat gets more intense than usual. That usually means that it’s time for me to give up my outdoorsy life (of picnics and outdoor cafes: a hiker or camper I am not) and retreat into my air conditioned cave (also known as my apartment) before I become a Sweaty Swamp Monster.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing from the blissful cool:

  • What’s it like working with my editor and what did I do when I got The Call from Harlequin Historical? Find out in this short Q&A! (The link leads to writeforharlequin.com)
  • Over at Fresh Fiction, I’m talking about the secret that will make my Abuelas and Tias disown me. (How’s that for a click-baity title?! Spoiler alert: the secret has a lot to do with my inability to cook rice and beans.)
  • I was also invited to talk about San Pedro de Macorís, the setting for Compromised Into A Scandalous Marriage, for the Mills&Boon blog.
  • I’d also love to share a Q&A I did with Andreina Rodriguez from Dominican Writers where we spoke about history, architecture, past, present and future books, and so much more.

And last of all, if you haven’t already checked out Compromised Into A Scandalous Marriage, my first title with Harlequin Historical, now would be a good time! (Link leads to Harlequin.com)

Thanks for checking in!

Don’t trust me with your breakables!

I will fumble and drop everything I pick up, and trip over anything up to and including a dust mote. Luckily, my author copies for Compromised into a Scandalous Marriage are sturdy enough to withstand my clumsiness.

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I’ve been in bed with a bad chronic pain and fatigue flare all week. This was DEFINITELY worth getting up for! (Obligatory plug: releases July 26th and it’s available for preorder!!) #romancebooks #romancebooktok #booktok #spicybooktok📚 #spicyromancebooks

♬ Awkward Silence – The Elevator Music Jazz Trio

This was my very first time receiving print copies of ANYTHING I’ve written, so of course I had to make (also my very first) unboxing video! I’m not the smoothest person ever, but you can’t say I’m not excited!

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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