Featured Read Friday: Beginner’s Luck

I could not think of a better year than 2017 to read, Beginner’s Luck, the debut novel from Kate Clayborn, and the first in the “Chance of a Lifetime Series.” In a year of ups and downs for many, this book is the perfect cozy read to sooth your soul. Seriously.  This was not a book I read in bed, or pulled up on my phone or tablet every spare moment.  This was a book I read curled up on the couch, with my christmas lights on, under piles of blankets and pillows, in my coziest clothes. A book I made time for, so I could just sit and take in the heroine and hero as their love story played out.

To be frank, this book is delightful as fuck.

We begin by being introduced to three very good friends, with very different careers and personalities. Ekaterina (Kit), Zoe, and Greer get a little sloshed, decide to all chip in on a lotto ticket, and spoiler alert, they win. This book tells the story of Kit, who decides with her winnings she’s going to buy a house, and turn it into the home she’s never had.

Kit is a girl after my own heart. She takes her winnings and buys a house that she plans on making her home. Kit had a rough childhood and buying this house, making herself part of a community, is all she really wants:

“I have this dream— it’s ridiculous, really — that someday I’ll know enough about this place to call myself a longtime local.  To be able to recommend my favorite burger joint or mechanic or dermatologist.”

Kit’s got her dream job, a scientist at a local college where she not only pursues her passion, but does work she’s proud of and does it well. Just like Kit, the author also does well at delving into the world of science without losing readers who, like myself, barely passed Geology. Part of Kit’s charm is how she geeks out over her field, and part of Clayborn’s charm is her ability to evoke the same excitement in her readers.

We get a brief glimpse of Kit in her element, the lab, before enter stage right, our hero, Ben.  Ben happens along at the perfect time to remind Kit that while she’s got it good, she’s still missing one piece of her happily-ever-after puzzle. And in my opinion Ben as a hero, could not be more lovable.  He’s a great blend of strong and sensitive, with just enough flaw to make him believable.

When we first meet Ben, he’s in town to recruit a scientist, i.e. Kit, for his company Beaumont Materials.  Kit turns down the offer because besides the fact that she loves her current job, she doesn’t want to move to Texas, or to work for a company that she believes doesn’t do work she finds respectable or responsible. Also, it probably didn’t help that Ben prior to meeting her, assumed she was a man, and then TOLD her that during their first interaction (facepalm).  Ben leaves slightly embarrassed, but no less determined to recruit Kit.  And he’s got time to try to win her over, because he’s also here helping out his father, who is unable to run his salvage yard after a recent fall (if I remember correctly he broke his tibia). Salvage yard you say?  As in a place that may be ripe with goods for a scientist with a newly bought house she has to fix up?

As the story progresses we get to see more of Ben the person, and less of Ben the businessman, and soon enough the businessman starts to fade away.  One of my favorite parts of the book that gives us a glimpse of who Ben really is, is when he reads an article so he can text Kit about it, hoping that it’ll get her to talk to him, i.e. try again to recruit her for the position in his company.  The article is about materials science, which is Kit’s specialty, and she responds by geeking out over it HARD.  And that’s when Ben’s hooked.  He doesn’t know it, but we do.  Boy has got it bad:

“Two texts and I’m way outside my pay grade in terms of the science, but I don’t care. I’d read her texts about crystal structure all night— I’m that excited she’s talking to me.”

Clayborn makes it easy to fall in love with both Kit and Ben, by switching between first person point of views for BOTH of them. WHICH NO ONE EVER DOES (AND IF THEY DO I DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL NOW SO HUSH).  And me, being the crazy single person that I am, was thrilled to FINALLY be able to see inside a man’s head…even if he is fictional (baby steps people). As their relationship develops, Ben of course finds Kit physically attractive, but he falls in love with her brains and heart more than her beauty AND IT’S JUST SO PROGRESSIVE AND SWEET I CAN’T STAND IT.

Oh, the sweet nature of their love story is great, but isn’t enough you say? You need chemistry? You need to know there’s a physical connection, full of steamy angst-y sex?Well, have no fear, Clayborn delivers in spades:

“But then I’m kissing her, my hands coming up to cradle her jaw, to tip her face just so, and holy shit, kissing Kit is hot, and sweet, and the way she opens her mouth against mine and slides her tongue across my bottom lip—I’ve got to stop myself from clenching my hands, from grabbing fistfuls of her hair to bring her closer to me.”

IS THERE ANYTHING BETTER THAN WHEN A HERO DOES THE FACE CRADLE DURING A MAKEOUT SESH? IN MOVIES OR BOOKS?  The answer is no.

Clayborn manages to expertly balance sexy and sweet, while also delving below the surface of Ben and Kit’s relationship, giving readers just the right amount of depth. (I did a lot of “OH MY GAWSH” 😩😩😩 while reading this because there are so many moments that give you all the feels.)

Now this may be a romance but they can’t just fall in love without working for it.  We gotta test ’em! Is their love true?  Can it survive the tests of time?

Clayborn navigates this perfectly by throwing a mix of Kit and Ben’s individual issues, some life situations that pop up, and the whole business conflict of interest mess, in a big old pot and cooking up some break-up stew.  But don’t fret! You’ll get your happily ever after.  You just gotta ride out the storm first. And why wouldn’t you?  That’s the best part. YOU GOTTA EARN THE LOVE BABY!

All in all Beginner’s Luck, is charming read that will leave you with a happily ever after you’ll sigh about.  Clayborn gives us characters and a story that feel REAL. You immediately become invested because the issues were real, the individual hangups were real, and the way Kit and Ben reunite to come together for good was real.  This was an excellent debut novel and I look forward to reading Clayborn’s next book.

Happy reading everyone.

S.S. Jaxon

In the second book of the series, Luck of the Draw, we get Zoe’s story and I can’t wait.  From the glimpses we’ve gotten in Beginner’s Luck she’s got sass, snark, and smarts.  All of my favorite things.  (Coming March 2018 from Kensington Publishing).

Persevere, O Persevere!

With everything going on I’ve had a hard time writing.  Yesterday Walt Whitman’s poem “Pioneers, O Pioneers” popped up on my shuffle and it inspired me to write a mimic poem.  Some lines (and I believe one section because it was just so moving I couldn’t change it) I kept from the original poem and cannot take credit, but most I changed to fit my narrative.

This was incredibly therapeutic for me as a rape survivor and the first time in about a month I’ve been able to write and enjoy it.  I hope this resonates with some of you.

– S. S. Jaxon

Persevere, O Persevere!

“Come, my courageous sisters,
Follow well in order, get your wits about you; Have you your pride? Have you your sharpened minds?
Persevere, O Persevere!

For we cannot tarry here;
We must fight my darlings, we must face the purveyors of danger;
We, the bearers of the future, the rest on us depends,
Persevere, O Persevere!

O you youths, enlightened misjudged youths,
So impatient, full of activism, full of female pride and friendship,
Plain I see you, flourishing youths, see you tramping with the foremothers,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Have the elder generations halted?
Are their hearts taxed, voices raw, unheard by ears muffled with complicity?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,
Persevere, O Persevere!

All the wrongs of the past we bring to the front line;
We debouch upon a safer, fairer world, varied world
Female and strong the world we seize, world of equal labor and the Women’s march,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Our numbers steady growing,
Down the Patriarchy, through the hypocrisy, up the White House steps
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the future awaits.
Persevere, O Persevere!

The oppressive bondages breaking,
Our inner fury raging, vexing thee, and piercing deep the pervasive sexism within
We, the second sex weary of obeying, tired of men misbehaving,
Persevere, O Persevere!

American women are we,
From Dreamers, from Standing Rock and Hollywood’s elites,
From Silicon Valley and from the military, from the STEM labs we come,
Persevere, O Persevere!

From Black Lives Matter, from LGTBQ,
All religions and races are we,
from homemakers to Wall Street to factories midwest, with continental blood intervein’d,
All the hands of sisters clasping, all the conservative, all the liberal,
Persevere, O Persevere!

O resisting, restless sisters!
O beloved sisters in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all! O I mourn and yet exult — I am rapt with love for all,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Praise those before for their persistence,
For the continued resistance, progress without assistance (rest your heads all),
Praise their tireless consistence , unwavering, steadfast, armored sisters,
Persevere, O Persevere!

See our children, our children’s children,
To these standards they will not adhere, we must not yield or falter,
Look back to our champions, their ghosts behind us urging,
Persevere, O Persevere!

On and on the matriarchal ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the roles of the femme quickly cultivating,
Persevere, O Persevere!

O to reclaim our time!
Are there some of us to wilt and fade? Has the backlash come?
Onward we march we women spry, adamant and sure the cause is just,
Persevere, O Persevere!

All the women of the world,
Fall in, come fight with us, with the feminist movement beat;
Holding single or together, steady movement, to the front, all for us,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Repercussions for the abusers!
For the destroyers of their accusers, for all the predators still hiding in their caves,
For the exploiters and the manipulators, for all the traffickers of girls enslaved.
Persevere, O Persevere!

All the silent survivors,
All the women prisoned with invisible shackles, all the righteous and the rebellious,
All the furious, all the indignant, the prejudice we are defying,
Persevere, O Persevere!

I too with my soul shaken and body used,
We an afflicted trio, healing, fighting not to stray
Through the blamers, amid the shame, and self-doubt always pressing,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Lo! The approaching gleaming ceiling!
Lo! Our sisters’ achievements all around! All the assembling feats and successes,
All the daring risk takers, all the bold barrier breakers,
Persevere, O Persevere!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for paramount change, while our daughters there in embryo wait behind,
We today’s procession heading, we clear the path unfearing,
Persevere, O Persevere!

O you brothers of the states!
O you young and elder brothers! O you fathers and you husbands!
Never must you be divided! In our ranks you stand united!
Persevere, O Persevere!

Sisters censored by authority!
(Survivors not ready to stand – feel no shame. Your voice will come.)
Soon I hear you come warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Not condescension cloaked in sweet,
Not degradation and belittling, not groping and violating;
Not mansplaining and objectifying, not for us the acceptance of inferiority,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Do the culpable feast?
Do the guilty sleep? Have they locked and bolted doors?
Still be ours the resistance strong, and our tolerance tossed upon the ground.
Persevere, O Persevere!

Has the reckoning descended?
Was the conversation of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged, those in power keeping us at bay?
Yet a passing hour I yield you, in your tracks to pause impassive,
Persevere, O Persevere!

Till with sound of triumph,
Far, far off our daughters call — hark! how loud and clear I hear womankind;
Swift! To the head of the movement!— swift! spring to your berth,
Persevere, O Persevere!”

Keeping Your Muse Alive in a Swipe Right World : Writing Romance While Searching For Your Own

Dating man.  It’s the pits.  First it starts off fun.  You get the high off of that “You’re a Match!” And you’re so amped that cute guy (or girl but in my case it’s a guy so we’re going to stick with that for now) that you swiped right on, also swiped right on you.

Eventually one of you says hi, you get to talking, you finally agree to meet up.

The day of the real life meeting arrives.  You’re dressed to the nines, wearing that dress that shows just enough curve without giving away the whole farm. Your look says, “yeah I’ve got it going on, but you don’t know just how much…yet.”

You’re nervous, but excited.  The conversation between the two of you, via text but it’s 2017 so whatevs, has been witty, flirtatious and fun.  You arrive at the restaurant he chose, pleasantly surprised by the ambiance and it’s 1930s decor.  You think how thoughtful it was of him to pick this place, knowing your love of The Great Gatsby.

He listens to you, he pays attention.

Warmth pools in your belly at the thought, causing a small smile to play across your lips. You open the door and walk in to see him standing at the front waiting for you, like a gentlemen.  He smiles as he sees you, obviously pleased.  Warmth hits your cheeks, the soft pink only adding to the feminine look you spent nine hours putting together.  You softly say “hello,” as you hold out your hand to shake his, and as his hand grasps yours you can’t help but notice how strong, warm, and masculine it is.

Just. Like. Him.

Oh god, he’s just as handsome, if not more so than his pictures.  This. Is. GREAT.

The waiter tells you your table is ready, and you follow with his hand on your lower back, lightly guiding you. Just like in the books! Eek!

You sit, as does he, and the evening becomes a song, the food, drinks, and conversation flowing melodically.  It couldn’t be more perfect if you had written it.

Because that’s what you do.  You write.  About the best thing in the world.  Love.  And you’ve been searching for your own.  And it has finally come.

The check comes, and even though you don’t want to go, you remind yourself it’s only the first date and use this as the perfect ladylike out.  You demurely reach for your purse before he interjects, “No, no. I’ve got it.”

He passed the last test.  You don’t mind paying for your own meal but you’re old fashioned and appreciate when a man pays for the first date. You smile sweetly as you say, “Thank you.”

He walks you to your car, and you stand beside it for a moment, neither one of you knowing what to say, not quite ready to say goodbye.

“I had a lovely time,” you say as you bring your chin up to meet his gaze.  Because of course, even when you’re in heels, he’s a good two to three inches taller than you.  The perfect height.

“I did too,” he says smiling at you, and you can’t help but melt at the cute little dimple on his chin.  He brings one arm up to rest on the roof of your car, cocooning you against the driver’s door and his body. Perfectly sheilding you for any prying glances, while also adding pulse-racing intimacy.

And then he leans in and kisses you.

It’s the best first kiss you’ve ever had.

And that’s how you know you’ve met your soul mate.

From then on, writing romance is a cinch because you live it every day with your perfect guy.

NOT.

What really happens is after that kiss, you go home giddy at the prospect of this new perfect guy, waiting for that inevitable moment when he texts you saying he has to see you again and asks you out for a second perfect date.

But it never comes.

Then you find out that he didn’t pick that restaurant just for you.  Because your friend Jessica also went on a date with him and he took her to the same restaurant.  As did your friends Lesley, Amanda, and Nicole.  It’s his go to restaurant.

Your friends Kat, Chelsea, and Tiffany also matched with him but never actually got to the date phase because they were preoccupied with other matches.

Your friends Lauren and Natalie, much to their horror when they find out, both slept with him.

Both agree he was so-so.

You are FURIOUS.  You feel duped.  You feel dumb for spending so much time and money on that new outfit, and the three hours it took you to get ready.  Not to mention the time you wasted putting together the perfect texts, or talking to him when you should have been writing.

And the worst part of it all…you didn’t even get laid.  DAMN IT!

So you say “SCREW GUYS,” and you delete your dating apps and vow to spend time finishing your current WIP because THAT’S the guy you want in your life.  Not these app using, bro whores. (Disclaimer not all dudes on dating apps are fuckboys, as my sister met my brother-in-law on one.)

You feel better now that you’ve deleted your accounts. Free and refreshed.  Ready to take on that blank page. You sit down to computer, put your hands to the keyboards, and…nothing.

Because fuckboy may not have fucked you, but he fucked your muse.

And now you can never write romance again.

Fuck. That.

We’re not going to let them win!  Instead we’re going to use them to our benefit because we a boss ass bitch. Here’s how:

1. Pick a guy and use his pictures/dating bio to write his character description.  Doesn’t matter if he’s a swipe left or swipe right.   Write what he looks like.  This is a great warm-up, and who knows may be your next hero/villain.

2. Write the date like you wish it went.  Bad dates are the worst. But you’re a creative.  Create the perfect date for your heroine/hero.

3. Take that cringe-worthy moment and make it funny.   Or make it happen to them instead of you.  Because you’re perfect and never cringe-worthy.

4. Asshole = villain.   My current bad guy says lines that a guy actually said to me.  In my mind one day his mom and sister are talking about my book (which they LOVED, duh) and talk about what a total dickwad the villain is and he just sits there dying inside knowing its him.  That would be bliss.

5. Fuckboys = guy you kill off. Need I say more?

6. Use the scenery to world build.  Bright side of dating?  Sometimes the date sucks but the food rocks.  Go back by yourself, take your computer, and write a scene that happens there.  A better scene than your date.  A happier scene.  A scene where there’s bottomless guacamole.

7. Turn date into research opportunity.  Okay so not all guys are going to be the villain.  Some guys are going to be SO NICE, and the conversation will be really good, but there’s something missing.  Something like the urge to climb them like a tree and breathlessly say, “let’s do this.”  That something’s kind of important.  But the lack of it doesn’t mean you have to cut the date short.  If anything ask them about their job, their hobbies, whatever they like that you find interesting but know nothing about.  It’s free research! Just pay for you half at the end because you don’t want to be a fuckgirl.

8. When you’re mad/frustrated/want to scream write conflict/angry sex scene.  My favorite angry sex scene I wrote after literally throwing my phone because a guy wrote the most infuriating grossest thing to me.  I was so pissed off I’d even given myself a smidgen of hope that I finally, FINALLY, found someone I could connect with in the dating world from hell that when he dropped his facade and showed his true fuckboy I. Was. LIVID.  And of course it was in the middle of a writing sprint when I shouldn’t have checked my phone.  But I did.  And it killed my creative flow.  But I have a “fuck you” mindset so instead of wallowing in my rage I had my heroine say what I wanted to say.  Then I had my hero tell her to get over herself, because real men aren’t like that, and then THEY DID IT.  AND THEY DID IT SO WELL.  And it was HOT.  Shoot it was fucking FIRE.  So fuck you fuckboy!

9. Remember romance exists.  That’s why we write what we write.  Because we believe everyone, no matter who they are, no matter what they’ve faced, no matter where they come from, no matter what the world says otherwise can find love. So don’t let this world of dating change that.  Ever.

10. When they say, “are you here to find inspiration?”  Say “bitch, please”  and remove them from your matches immediately.  Psh.  Cocky ass men trying to think they live up to multiple orgasm standards are always the ones who last about five seconds and don’t give oral.  AKA  THE WORST.

Now go write that HEA babe.  It’s only a matter of time before you get yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Key to Dating in the Millennial Age: Read a Romance Novel

When I listen to my mom talk about her dating days, pre-my wonderful father of course, I wonder where in the hell I’m going wrong.

My mom definitely did the old school style of dating.  She’d go out on dates with multiple guys and they’d go everywhere and do anything. Dinner, the opera, the movies, boating, skiing, wine tasting, football games, hiking, and my personal favorite, bow hunting.  Yeah I know, my mom’s cool. Rather than shopping around on an app, she shopped around in real life.

When she tells the story about how she and my dad got together it goes something like this:

My mom and dad were friends with an awesome couple we’ll call Steven and Minny.   Minny worked with my mom, and Steven met my dad when my dad was doing construction on his house.  They set my parents up, and my mom and dad went out on four dates before my mom broke things off. At the time she was dating other people, and just didn’t see things working out with my dad. At this point of the story I’m thinking “four dates?! I can’t remember the last time I went on a fourth date, much less a third.”

My mom ended up getting engaged to a very nice man we’ll call Bob.  Then she broke off the engagement to Bob. Minny, being the savvy woman she is, just happened to drop that little tidbit to my dad.  My dad, being the intelligent man that he is, called my mom to ask her out again, and she thought, “what the heck,” and they went to brunch. (Don’t worry about Bob he’s okay. Heard he’s got his own show and a burger shop now… Juuuust kidding.)

When I asked her what changed she said, “I’m not sure. I do remember exactly what he was wearing.  He looked SO good.  And we went out to brunch, which turned into spending the day together and halfway through dinner, it just changed.  We dropped our guards and that was it.”

They got engaged three months later, and have now been married for thirty-five years.

That’s one of my favorite love stories.  Yes, because it involves the people who created me, but also because it parallels most…*drum roll please*…. You guessed it! ROMANCE NOVELS! (Why?  We’ll get there.)

So, being the nerd that I am, I started to think about how different dating is today and wondered why.  I researched a couple of articles, read a couple of books, and also talked to twenty-six singles (thirteen men, thirteen women).  When I put together all the information I’d gathered, I felt my happy bubble deflate, my shoulders droop, and my mouth frown. I, Samantha, the woman getting ready to put out her first romance novel that ends with a (if I do say so myself) awesome happily ever after, the person who gets excited for Valentine’s Day relationship or not, the person who exclaims “I love love!”, felt a tad bit of despair.

I read over my findings once more, just to be sure, and before muttering outloud, “Well…fuck.”

Here’s what I learned (real quick: if you judge any of these people,  I suggest youdo some self-reflecting, because Felicia, I guarantee you’ve done one or more of these):

  • One of my most favorite people ever told me he didn’t go on a date with a girl because he watched her Snapchat before and just knew he couldn’t be in the same room with her for more than three minutes.  I’m cringing thinking about my ugly Snapchat pictures I love sending.
  • One girl told me that she had a guy go off on her calling her a tease and a whore because she didn’t respond within 48 hours to his magical opener of “how’s it going.”  She was studying for the LSATs at the time, and had deleted all social media apps off her phone.  After that message she deleted all dating apps for good. Can ya blame her?
  • My friend said he could be into someone but then will pull back because of the fear that he’ll disappoint them. His schedule & lifestyle have been really hard on people he’s dated in the past so instead of disappointing someone new he just stops pursuing them.

When I asked the number one reason for ghosting someone I got this:

  • “I’d say my number one reason is because they don’t fit my ideal match… instead of letting me find out who they really are, when they don’t fit this preconceived ‘perfect’ fit for me, I’ll disappear.”
  • “Some guys can’t take a hint.  I’ll start to do the normal one word response trying to say ‘hey I’m not into you.’ And when they don’t pick up on that I just stop responding.”
  • “Honestly the ghosting is never on purpose…Career comes first right now…I barely have any ‘me time’ so when I do, I feel like I usually want to spend it with people I’m already connected to rather than random dating.”
  • “Usually it’s because I’m not really interested in a guy.  This sounds bad but I probably had a moment of loneliness and they were giving me attention.  I felt bad or had a moment of ‘well maybe I should give him a chance,’ so I gave them my number.  Then they want a date and I’m not interested so I just don’t respond.”

And in terms of dating apps making us more or less particular:

  • “The idea of settling is hard.  What if I spend time with this one chick who is awesome and pretty cute, great personality and we get involved.  It’s going great but then two months later I get a match and it’s the unbelievably hot chick that I thought I’d never get to even look at me. So now I have to be the dick and drop the other girl because obviously I want to see if I can have something with the more attractive chick.”

That’s just skimming the surface.  I immediately wanted to drink a bottle of wine, eat a carton of ice cream, and drown my sorrows in sad dramatic music. But, I had just bought a great new pair of jeans, and it would be hard to wear them if I gained ten pounds. Instead, I just laid on my bed moaning, “love. is. DEAD!”

That lasted about two minutes before I got bored and turned on my favorite movie, “Pride and Prejudice.”

Now, picture this: I’m laying in bed feeling somewhat sad and defeated, watching as we’re introduced to the brooding, yet handsome, Mr. Darcy (our hero) at a town dance.  Mr. Bingley, Mr. Darcy’s BFF, is enchanted by the lovely Jane Bennett.  When Darcy whines that Bingley’s caught the eye of the only pretty girl in the room, Bingley suggests that Jane’s sister, Lizzy Bennett, our heroine, is “quite agreeable.” (Jane’s great and all but Lizzy is funny, smart, and quite lovely. We like her more.)  Mr. Darcy, the charming ass that he is, retorts, “barely tolerable, I dare say.  Not enough to tempt me.” Jerk-face-jerk. Lizzy over hears this barb and of course her pride is hurt because what a dick!

They’re not off to a good start.

Later in the evening, when brought back together in a group conversation, Lizzy jokes that poetry is the death of romance (writing poetry as an act of courting was a big thing back in the day. Honestly, thank Golden Girls the practice died out). Darcy asks Lizzy what she recommends instead to “encourage affection” and she says, “Dancing. Even if ones’ partner is barely tolerable.”  *mic drop, exit stage right*

The look on Darcy’s face is priceless. Yeah that’s right.  She heard you asshole.

Now if you’ve been living under a rock, *spoiler alert*, Darcy and Lizzy get together at the end and live happily ever after. But not before some angst, family drama, trekking across England, arguing, and quick-witted barbs between the two. Oh, and Lizzy had to turn down a proposal from the most obnoxious man ever Mr. Collins.

So the end credits come rolling in and I’m thinking “why can’t life be like P & P?”

This is when I have a epiphany and discover the solution to all of life’s problems! Romance novels! (You’re welcome in advance).

No, seriously hear me out.  (I’m talking to you too dudes.)

Here’s the deal: with dating apps becoming the number one way of meeting people, we have become desensitized to the dating process. We often find ourselves “swiping mindlessly,” while either bored, commuting, or drunk with our friends as a game. We have lost the patience to find attraction despite someone’s flaws, or discover the small physical nuances and quirks that we later find endearing (and aggravating sometimes).  We have become more particular with who we date because there are so many more options, and honestly people who once were out of our league are much more tangible now. Lastly, we have developed a “what if” syndrome and are always waiting for the greener grass on the other side, missing out on the grass right below our feet which is actually quite nice.  I.e. What if that hot girl/guy matches us back and we’ve already invested in someone else, and we miss out on our chance with the more attractive person?

Yikes.

Now don’t get me wrong dating apps have been good for a lot of people.  My sister met my brother-in-law on one.  My friend’s brother met his current fiance.  It does happen. But, if you’re feeling single and jaded from the constant swiping, bad dates, and ghosting, then you need to a break and read a romance novel. Like right now. Yes they’re fiction, but they are all based around the same idea: two people finding a lasting relationship built on the best foundation of all: love.  And love is not fictional.

You’re still skeptical.  So let me lay some wisdom on you and tell you what romance novels will teach you jaded folks:

1. First (and second, and sometimes even third) impressions don’t mean s***.

Seriously they don’t.  I don’t really need to make a case for this one as I already told you about my mom and dad, not to mention Lizzy and Mr. Darcy.  If you’re still confused please see above or watch Disney’s feature film, “Beauty and the Beast.” Hell, watch “Lethal Weapon.”  Unless the person your meeting is trying to murder or threaten you, they don’t mean nada, and you should give them another chance.

2. Attraction takes time sometimes.

Once again, let’s refer back to Lizzy and Darcy.  Now, I’m not saying that someone you have absolutely NO attraction to is the one for you.  I’m not saying you should force attraction, or have to search for it.  But, nowadays there’s some buildup to a first date.  You see pictures of the person, which initially helps you decide to swipe right, you message back and forth, and sometimes even text back and forth. You’ve gone through all that and your still interested enough to go on a first date.  You go on the first date and maybe they aren’t having the best hair day, or they’re tired, or they’re nervous and you leave thinking “it wasn’t the best date ever but it was fun, I just didn’t really feel a spark.” DON’T BLOW THEM OFF.  Go for a second date (fuck it go crazy and go for a third!) and see if there’s a little more there this time.  Attraction should build over time. Otherwise it becomes stagnant, and who wants stagnant in the bedroom? Yuck.

3. Your ideal person doesn’t exist.

Sorry they don’t. There is no such person.  People are flawed, and with the right person those flaws become superfluous.  If you find someone who, in your opinion, is not flawed in any way shape or form, then you my friend are in denial. Either that, or this perfect person doesn’t talk, because it’s a doll that you ordered online, and it has no soul. You’re dating Satan in doll form. I hope you two live happily ever after.  Now obviously some flaws are deal breakers.  But we’ve created such an endless list of deal breakers we’ve lost sight of our match makers. (See what I did there?).  Focus on the bigger picture: Do they have similar pursuits?  Do they make you laugh?  Do they have manners?  Do they listen when you talk and actually build on the conversation?  Whatever.  Just for the love of Game of Thrones stop nitpicking.

4. Timing isn’t everything.

Most heroes and heroines don’t get together right away because: a) that would be a real short book and b) the last thing they want in the world when they meet their person, is a relationship.  It is never a good time for the “complication” of a committment to another human being.  And yet, it still happens, because that person is worth it.  So, if you’re thinking “now’s not a good time,” and that’s your only reason for not taking things further, you might want to think again.  Life’s always going to be chaotic, and crazy, and unpredictable. There’s always going to be a reason for why that time is not the right time.  Stop with the excuses. When you do, you’ll do a face-palm for waiting so long, because you’ll find the right person will be a calming presence amongst the discord.

5. The best things require work.

Swipe right, swipe left.  IT’S SO EASY.  So, when we go on a date that requires more effort than using our thumbs to make a split decision, OF COURSE it’s going to seem like a chore.  In romance novels the hero and heroine always, always, ALWAYS have to work to be together. When it finally happens it’s so much more rewarding because baby, do they deserve it.  That’s what life requires if you want a relationship.  Work.  You have to put in a little more effort than swiping and meeting for drinks hoping the convo will flow nicely. Should it be easy to be around that person eventually?  Yes.  After a few dates deliberate conversation will turn into a flirtatious repartee and everyone will be happy.

Case in point: Dating apps are turning the single millennials of the world into thoughtless dating robots.  Not really, but kind of haha. We’ve lost patience for the journey of getting to know someone, and fail to see and appreciate the art of awkward first dates.  We’ve become jaded, a little more shallow, and a little less romantic.  Consequently, despite being active on dating apps, we’re reserved in our efforts resulting in missed opportunities.

So, If you’re feeling grumpy about the hot or not world, take a step back and read a romance novel.  Read about two people taking the time to find their fit.  It’ll help remind you that dating shouldn’t be a quick fix to loneliness but rather an adventure to companionship.  Never read a romance?  Well don’t you fret your pretty little head, I came prepared.

For dudes:

Pucked by Helena Hunting

The Search by Nora Roberts

Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley

Wicked Deeds On A Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

Deacon by Kristen Ashley

The King Series by T.M. Frazier

The Titans Series by Cristin Harber

 

For the ladies:

Rock Chick by Kristen Ashley

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole

Charley Davidson Series by Darynda Jones

 

And like I said before, you’re welcome.

Later Gators.

 

 

 

Featured Read Friday: The Ugly Duchess

Many people are shocked when they hear my favorite romance novel is Pride & Prejudice and that I often watch the movie when I’m in need of inspiration (the Kiera Knightly version.  Sorry Colin Firth fans but Matthew Macfadyen walking through the field covered in morning dew to profess his love for Elizabeth with a nervous stutter will forever be one of the sexiest scenes I have ever seen).

They’re probably shocked because my vernacular is more commonly “dude,” or “wait, what?!” compared to the eloquent writing of Jane Austen and this week’s author Eloisa James.

I love my contemporaries, my paranormals, my thrillers, but there something to be said about a good historical.  Give me the ridiculous rules of “The Ton,” a rebellious lady, a Duke who is a redeemable idiot, and their fight to true love and I’m a happy little reader.

EJ has been on my TBR (to be read) list forever.  I finally got to her last year with her book, “When Beauty Tamed the Beast.”  I remember distinctly coming home one Friday night, grabbing my favorite blanket and settling on my couch, opening the first page around 7 pm finishing it at 2 am the next morning, and as I closed the cover I yelled, “where have you been all my life?!”

Eloisa gives us heroines we relate to, heroes we route for (if even sometimes begrudgingly), with plots that thrill, all delivered with a wit similar to Shakespeare.  (Fun fact:  EJ teaches Shakespeare at a university as her day job… No wonder I love her).

One of her (I think) more underrated books, which happens to also be one of my favorites, is this week’s feature: The Ugly Duchess.

EJ starts us off right away with a good conflict.  We enter in the midst of an argument between our hero James Ryburn (who is twenty at the time) the heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook and his father The Duke. We learn James’ father is a fuckwit. Not only has The Duke squandered the family fortune but he’s also dipped into the dowry of our heroine, Theodora Saxby (who is seventeen at the time), his ward since she was an infant (if you’re wondering…yes that’s theft).  But it’s cool; The Duke’s got an idea.

Why doesn’t James marry Theo?  Yes Theo isn’t a beauty, and she and James were raised like siblings, but it’s cool because they aren’t really related, and she and James are best friends, so they’ll get along just fine. *takes big gulp of air* Also, The Duke says not to worry about the “her not being pretty” thing because once James gets her pregnant and secures an heir, he can just go get a mistress.

James get pissed (+1 point), says Theo isn’t ugly (+50 points), and threatens to throttle his father for evening mentioning the idea (+25 points), putting James and Theo’s friendship at risk (+100 points), and stealing from her (+100 points!).

Sadly, The Duke has put James in a tight spot and uses guilt and some harassing to get him to agree.  James says he’ll never take a mistress, makes his dad sign the estate to him, and tells him he’ll live elsewhere. (-1,000 points for agreeing, +10 for the shrewd business agreement with The Duke).

We are then introduced to Theodora , who goes by Theo (which IDK why but this nickname warms my heart) and find she is intelligent, witty, and doesn’t give a flying eff she’s not considered “a beauty,” because she knows people will love her for who she is, not her looks. She also has a developing sense of fashion and creates designs in her head that she’ll wear once she is married and her mother can no longer pick out dresses that are unflattering to Theo.  (The anticipation of her inevitable future debut as a kickass fashionista thrilled me).

We love Theo.

After some insight into their relationship with a couple ball scenes, EJ gives us what we want… James proclaims his feelings for Theo (albeit totally sloshed), and Theo and James marry.  James because he had to in order to save the estate and his father, Theo because with James false proclamation of love she realizes that he has been the one for her all along. My heart broke a little at that point. BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T KNOW AND YOU KNOW SHE’S GOING TO FIND OUT.

When they marry Theo is dressed in a wedding dress that is highly unflattering for her and the newspapers refer to her as “The Ugly Duchess.”  This has Theo wondering why James (who is of course devastatingly handsome) would marry her.

James comforts Theo and you fall in love with him when he says, “I could never marry an ugly woman… I have some pride you know.  I married you because you are delectable, and beautiful, and don’t look like all those other girls.”

You think that James will realize he’s an idiot and love Theo and he does… But does he tell her right away before she finds out the truth about why he was suddenly inclined to marry her?  Of course not.

So Theo over hears a convo between the fuckwit (The Duke) & James realizing James married her for her money and obviously would never be with an ugly duchess like herself (*sobs*) and kicks both The Duke and James out.  Like the frustrating man he is JAMES JUST LEAVES. JUST LEAVES. WTH. COME ON MAN. FIGHT.

You’re feeling so much angst and it’s only like chapter six and this point.  (The sign of a good book).

Now let’s remember James is only twenty at this time and Theo only seventeen so EJ wisely has seven years go by meanwhile giving us small glimpses of what they’ve been up to.

Where do they go?  Well Theo becomes a fashion force to be reckoned with, sadly her wit and cheery disposition a ghost of what it had been (for James to rekindle mayhaps?) and James becomes…A PIRATE.  Yes. Please.

An English Gentlemen gone bad boy?  Gimme.

When Theo is in the process of legally declaring James dead in the House of Lords, who comes swaggering in?  A large, built, tanned rough looking man with a devilish grin and a tattoo under his eye (YUM). Who is this roguish man?  Well duh, it’s James.

I’m clapping with glee at this point… So if you don’t want any spoilers I’ll end it here with saying now we get the quest for Theo and James to find their HEA.

This book will not disappoint.  As always, Eloisa James is a master at making you feel all the feels, falling in love with characters that are truly unique individuals, and turning a children’s fairytale into a beautifully crafted love story.

Enjoy! (If you don’t mind spoilers scroll down past these jokes):

 

Q: What did one elevator say to the other elevator?

 

 

 

A: I think I’m coming down with something.

 

 

 

Q: How did the telephone propose to his girlfriend?

 

 

 

 

A: He gave her a ring.

 

 

 

 

And one final one just to make sure….

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What does a tree do when it’s ready to go home?

 

 

 

 

 

A: It leaves.

 

 

 

Okay guys here’s the spoiler.  So James comes back and internally is all I love Daisy.  I fucked up.  I’m a tanned, dangerous, Pirate man now and I’ve grown up so I’m going to seduce her.  Let’s do this.

Theo’s like don’t call me Daisy.  I’m moving out.  Let’s agree to disagree because everyone knows you married me for money and I’m ugly. Oh and abandoned me for seven years.

James is like wrong.  Look at me use your desk to write a correspondence and show you how wrong you are by physically claiming this as my desk just like I will reclaim you.

And in the middle of him imposing himself once again as the Duke that’s when, if you’re like me, you get mad:

” ‘I see,’ she said quietly. ‘If you are wondering whether I betrayed you in the years of your absence, I did not.’

There was a flash of emotion deep in his eyes, but it was gone so quickly that she wasn’t sure she saw it.

‘My answer to that question would be the opposite,’ he said as casually as he was discussing the weather. ‘Two days of marriage failed to impress itself on me.  I am fairly certain that most men would understand my lapse.'”

OH. MY. GOD.

REALLY?! REALLY?!

I mean as a writer I agree with EJ’s move here having him sleep with women.  He needed that growth.  I got mad but then I was like “well maybe he’ll know what the fuck is up in bed now.”  (A sign I’ve been binge watching Sex In the City too much again).  But as a female reader you’re like COME ON DUDE.

But James really has loved Daisy/Theo/Theodora all these years.  He loved her since his mother died.  And after some seducing, some bathing, and slamming some dick into the wall for talking trash about Theo, in front of all of society to see, James reclaims her heart, and ours as well.  Then he goes even further by basically proclaiming to all the gossiping assholes , “my chick bad, my chick hood, my chick do stuff ya wish yours would.” (Thanks Ludacris).

*Mic Drop*

Exit Theo and James into their Happily Ever After.

*Cue us closing book with a sigh of happy*

Later gators.

As Summer Fades to Fall

I’m sitting here with my tea, cuddled up in my bed, football on in the background reflecting on last night, and the entire weekend, that was the awesomeness known as Rock Chick Rendezvous.

I should be putting away laundry, doing dishes, my weekly Sunday tidying, editing, responding to the endless emails & texts I’ve been horribly neglecting this summer (I’m sorry!), etc.

But after the phone conversation I had with my dad I needed to write this.  I typically write posts that are more humorous, but today’s is more serious because it’s what’s in my heart.

For those of you that don’t know: this weekend I attended Rock Chick Rendezvous, which is an event thrown by the New York Times best selling author Kristen Ashley. Friday night was cocktails at the Sazerac bar at the Hotel Monaco, Saturday was a book signing with KA and USA today bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti, Saturday night was the big event (ticket required but totes worth it) which included dancing (honestly felt like I was at a wedding that KA happened to be at.  That’s how personable and incredible she is), a bomb photo booth, hor d’oeuvres, a bar (duh), and the most generous swag bag ever, and then Sunday KA did a coffee farewell (which I didn’t attend because I woke up sick this morning and didn’t want to infect anyone.)

This was my final event to send off the chaos that was my summer before I hunker down this fall, and go into hiding getting my book ready for it’s winter release. (Even typing that makes me nauseous haha. Let’s just say I’m excited but fucking terrified.)

This summer I was gone almost every weekend (and a lot of weeks) attending my first RWA conference, celebrating my nephew’s first birthday, turning 27, working for my day time job that pays the bills, attending a beautiful wedding, celebrating my Papa’s 90th birthday, etc.  Considering my weeks are full of ten hour days (my paid gig), early mornings/late nights to write, maintaining social media (blog, insta, twitter, facebook, etc.) yoga classes, workouts, meal prepping, writing group, bible study,  an occassional date here and there, not to mention having to do laundry, shower, and sometimes sleep … well let’s just say I’ve been going nonstop.  It has been exhausting.  It has been trying.  It has been stressful. It has been wonderfully fulfilling.

Two years ago I was nowhere close to realizing my dreams.  A year ago I was thinking, “Am I really going to do this? Can I do this?”

This morning I told my dad, “Even if I don’t sell one copy of my book, even if it takes me thirty years to make it even close to a best sellers list, and even if society says to me “statistically you are a failure,” I could care less.  The community of romance writers, romance readers, and all the amazing people I have met over the past year have made it worth it. Emotionally I’m one of the wealthiest people you will ever meet.” Seriously.

This summer has been full of so many events and moments that have created pieces (RWA, my writing group, my blog, collaborators, etc…) of the puzzle that is me. I’m happy to say that for now the puzzle is complete.

Last night as I was dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot, The Dexy Midnight Riders, and Michael Jackson, singing at the top of my lungs to Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, and Journey, wearing blue lipstick that I spent an hour talking myself in to, in an outfit I wouldn’t have had the confidence to wear six months ago, with women I had just met and already loved as friends… I was the truest version of myself I’d ever been. It felt amazing.

Thank you Kristen Ashley for creating a community of amazing women who no matter where they come from, what they do, or what crazy shades of lipstick they wear, travel near and far to get together and have a blast.  Thank you to both you and Rebecca Zanetti for being so generous with your books, which I’ve always appreciated but now having writing one makes me cry with gratitude, and your time. Thank you to your team who work their asses off to make weekends like this possible.  Thank you to the women who come out to have a good time and see old friends, as well as meet new ones.

Thank you to the women last night who had seen my pictures on Instagram and told me how excited they were for my book.  Thank you to the women who danced with me like no one was watching.  Thank you to the woman who said to me, “I loved watching you dance all night.  It was pure drama.”  Thank you to the women who howled till we cried laughing over the existence of dinosaur erotica (you know who you are).  Thank you to the book bloggers, the book worms, the facebook groups, and the romance fiends who keep this genre as kickass as it is.

Thank you to the authors, both established and aspiring, who are always encouraging, never competitive.  Thank you for offering advice, friendship, mentorship, and faith in our writing.

Thank you to my employers (who will probably never read this) for giving me a day job that I love to support myself as I pursue this career.  I hope you buy my books and never read them haha. Thank you to my friends and family who deal with my neurotic scheduling, inconsistent response time in terms of texts and emails, and bad jokes.  Thank you to my sisters for being such awesome women, offering an ear when I need to vent, and a voice when I need reason (or a funny story).

And thank you to my parents for being so unbelievably incredible words don’t do them justice.

I haven’t even published my damn book yet and I’m on cloud nine.

Thanks Romance Community.

You slay.

S.S. Jaxon

 

Instagram Food: The Best Damn Applesauce 


I’m a pretty decent cook, I’m a damn good baker (I’m also very humble). I suck at grammar, I really suck at math (See? Humble).  With my writing, I don’t do either as much as I like. But no matter what’s going on in my life every year I make strawberry rhubarb jam in the summer & applesauce in the fall. I could eat them both straight out of the jar. The applesauce I do (I’m not going to admit to the jam because that’s ummm… delicious? I mean gross. No one does that.)

Even though it’s not September 22nd, Seattle’s got a hint of fall in the air reminding us of the dwindling summer nights. Oh, and Halloween stuff has been out since August. So…screw the calendar! It’s applesauce time.

This recipe is courtesy of The Pioneers  Woman aka one of my cooking idols. I’ve been following her for a while & the whole world caught on five years ago and she finally got her own show on Food Network. What what! She slays.

I took her recipe (which is fabulous as is) and added the below to give it a little bit more spice (BTW I use Honeycrisp & Macintosh apples which I think she does too):

Instead of juice of a whole lemon I do 1/2 of a lemon

I use 1 c Treetop’s 3 Blend Apple Juice

I add: 1 tbsp cinnamon 

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves 

Sounds good right? Yeah you should make some. Make a batch, make five, can some for later. It’s that good. I’m not kidding when I say this is the best damn applesauce. Ever.

Later gators. 

S.S.

Instagram Food: Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad

Here’s the recipe as promised (only two days late).  So I found this baby five years ago on the food blog The Diva Dish and it still rocks!  Plus her other recipes are just as fabulous!

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad (photo and recipe courtesy of the Diva Dish)
Ingredients
  • ½ c. dry quinoa
  • 1½ c. vegetable broth
  • (OR 1 c. prepared/cooked quinoa)
  • 1 c. garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ diced onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, bottom stems cut off
  • 2 c. spinach
  • (dressing)
  • 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 juicy lemon, or two not so juicy lemons 🙂
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. I like to use a rice cooker on the white rice setting to make it easy!
  2. Once the quinoa is cooked, set it aside to cool.
  3. In a food processor, add cilantro and spinach. Process the greens until the are chopped up finely.
  4. In a bowl, add the chickpeas, chopped greens, tomatoes, avocado, onion, and garlic.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the salad.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Let sit in the fridge until ready to eat! Enjoy!

Side Note:

I normally fiddle with recipes a bit because that’s just how I am.  I never have with this one because it’s that good. Every. Time.  But if you’re planning on making this for the guy you’ve just started seeing and he’s staying over that night…don’t.  This salad detoxes, meaning there’s a decent chance you’ll need to shower the next morning because you reek of onion and cumin. But don’t be scared! It’s good. Promise. But just maybe wait until your Facebook official for like 6 months.

Hope you guys enjoy and check out her blog!  She has great eats!

– S.S. Jaxon

26 Thoughts for 27

1. Throw away the scale.  155 lbs of muscle looks better than 145 lbs of dieting fads.  Want to know your weight?  Go to the doctor.  Go to a gym.  But checking it incessantly is damaging, and hurts your journey to better health rather than helping it.

2. Date. Even though it is mostly a banging-your-head-against-the-wall experience, date.  You’d be amazed by the things you learn about yourself and what you want in a partner.

3. On writing days, even though I’m going to be mostly in front of my computer, get dressed. The act of getting ready for the day, even if it’s spent at home, boosts productivity.

4. Don’t let guys get away with being lazy.  Don’t be cowered by the “why do guys have to put in all the effort?” complaint.  Why do girls have to get all dolled up for a first date?  The “I got tired of putting in effort to planning dates for nothing,” excuse is bullshit. A guy will always put effort into getting laid.  If he has a “bad” lay, he will still continue to put effort into getting laid. So if he can put effort into getting laid, he can put effort into asking you out.

5.  First dates should be planned 48 hours in advance and solid plans should be made.  If they’re not then they don’t take you or your time seriously.

6. It’s okay to say no.  Not making plans is much better than flaking on plans later.

7.  Call over text.  It’s amazing how much I hate texting now.  For the occasional correspondence it’s fine, but conversations that go deeper than “look at this funny meme,” or a quick “how’s your day going?,” should be on the phone.  If you want to talk to me call me.  I’ll call you. Let’s facetime!  Let me show you how crazy I look because of all my notes and outlines posted on my wall about butt plugs and how long it takes for a body to decompose.  It’ll be great.

8.  Actively guard your body as well as your heart. If you’re at a place to have sex just to have sex and not get emotionally attached, awesome (and by awesome I mean you lucky bitch).  But make it a conscious decision, not an in the moment one.  There are few women who can have sex without emotional attachment and that’s okay. Recognize it.  Own it.

9. Don’t have sex with someone for the first time drunk.  Seriously.   Drunk sex is awesome with someone you’re dating and have been with for a while, and most importantly TRUST. But with someone you’ve just met? You’ll probably regret it. Plus sex sober is better anyways.  Much less bumping and fear of accidental *cough* placement. And if they aren’t into having sex sober, than they aren’t that into you.

10.  Invest in batteries (& condoms).  Vibrators/dildos are awesome.   They give women the option of pleasure without a man or the risk of carpal tunnel.  A woman who has a way to seek pleasure on her own is less likely to have “regret sex.”  That being said, those babies use batteries quickly. So stock up! (Yay Costco trip!) Also, be a grown up and buy some condoms.  That way, when you do find a guy who you’ve deemed worthy enough to enjoy the awesomeness that is your bod, you’re prepared.

11. Own your mistakes.  The first step to fixing something you did wrong as quickly as possible, is to admit you fucked up.

12. Chat with people.  In the elevator.  The grocery store. The bookstore.  Take two minutes to have a conversation that goes a little further than “Hi, how are you?”

13. Send thank you notes.

14. Come up with a system for your finances that works for you & stick to it.  If you don’t have one go see a financial advisor.  The first meeting is free and the ones after are a great investment.  Money rules the world.  Don’t let it rule your life.

15. Don’t go to bed if the dishes aren’t done.  I don’t have a dishwasher and I get to hand wash everything.  It’s as horrible as it sounds.  But, by going to bed only if the dishes are done, I avoid the build-up phenomenon one can often find in fraternities.

16. Read.  Whether it’s a magazine, a Buzzfeed article, a book, the back of a food label, anything, just READ.

17. Stand up for yourself and don’t feel like a bitch because you did.  As a female, whenever I “put my foot down,” I immediately start to question myself. Was I too mean?  Should I say sorry? NO!  Just because I don’t let someone patronize me doesn’t mean I’m a bitch.  It means I’m an adult and they’re an idiot, which I will inform them of immediately.

18. Your faith is your own.

19.  Government policy is more important than politics.  And so are your friendships.  But no one truly cares about policy, they all care about politics.  So, if you have different political beliefs than some of your friends,here’s an idea: DON’T TALK POLITICS.  Don’t look at their Facebook page.  Don’t look at their twitter.  If you’re at the zoo together don’t go see the elephants and donkeys.  Just don’t do it. The amount of people I’ve seen posting, “if you’re voting for candidate, thanks for ruing our country… thanks for being an idiot… unfriend me now because I don’t want to be friends with someone who is dumb, racist, etc.”  The animosity brought on by this election is UNREAL.  Grow up and recognize that people have different opinions.  Agree to disagree.

20. Quality of friends > quantity of friends.

21.  No matter how tired you are or how crappy the day has been, go to yoga (or your equivalent).  Take an hour to invest in yourself and refocus.

22. Do a 30-min “clean” every night.  Seriously.  Even on the nights when you’re so tired you ate popcorn for dinner, set your phone for 30 minutes and do as much cleaning as you can.  You’ll thank yourself at the end of those busy weeks.  (I thank my mom for this one, she’s a big fan of the “timer-method”).

23. Set goals.  Learn new things.  Step out of your comfort zone.  Never stop bettering yourself as a person.

24.  Call/ spend time with your family.

25. Compare yourself to yourself, not others.  Especially in today’s world.  We no longer go to college, graduate, get married, have kids, etc.  The options are endless and the standard path is dwindling.

26. As Lian Dolan says: embrace the chaos.

 

Featured Read Friday: Reaper’s Legacy

This entry’s music anthem: Get On- Steve Smyth

Woohoo, Friyay!  We did it, we made it!  (I’ll be honest. I barely made it.  But I bribed myself with wine and this book, so I rallied).

So, another week of surviving under our belts. How to celebrate?  I’ll tell you how. With a good book. And, like I said on Instagram, I’ve been feeling extra sassy this week.  When I’m feeling sassy, I usually need a little edge to suit my mood. Enter Reaper’s Legacy,the second book in the Reapers Motorcycle Club, by Joanna Wylde.

What to expect from this book:  cursing,steamy sex scenes that just toe the line of being devious (in the hottest sense of course), times when you want to throttle the hero over the head with a beer bottle, a pretty real look into the life of MCs, great scene building, loveable, memorable characters, and a new series to binge. Sound good?  Then read on…

Little background:  Sophie, our heroine, gives her cherry to her boyfriend, Zach, her senior year of high school.  As with everyone’s first time in high school, it sucks, but results in the awesomeness of her son Noah.  It sucks because her dude is a teenager who doesn’t know what he’s doing, but also because during the deed, our hero Ruger, walks in on Sophie & Zach.   And here’s the real kicker: Ruger, a member of the Reapers MC, is Zach’s hot older brother.  WHAT?!

As time goes on,  Zach turns out to be a deadbeat dad, Ruger steps in, and the sexual tension between him and Sophie is apparent from the start.  However, at first because of her age, then later not to confuse Noah, Ruger never makes a move, and neither does Sophie (I mean to be fair she is pregnant and then a teen mom so she’s kind of busy).  So, the sexual tension just becomes tension giving us that good love/hate vibe.

As you read on, you learn that Ruger, is your typical, “but babe, I can’t keep this dick in my pants, it wouldn’t be fair to the female population,” mixed with a little, “I’m an alpha motorcycle club member. I do what I want and you shouldn’t question it,” idiot male.  Ugh.  So who better to fix that mess of a hot sexy man than Sophie, our heroine, who knows she’s the shit, and is a “one and done,” kind of lady.  The back and forth between the two, as they try to find a resolution for the ever increasing sexual tension between them, is addicting.  Will he get over himself? Will she give in? WILL THEY JUST DO IT ALREADY?  Who knows? So much angst. (Oh and did I mention his piercings?  He has multiple… some in, intriguing places… oh ya.)

Along with our heroine and hero, Joanna, being the intelligent story teller she is, throws in a couple curve balls (one including a rival MC with a VERY HOT member that you’re dying to get to know better), fun gal pals with the right amount of crazy, & other supporting hunks to keep you hooked.  She’s good this one.

“But really? Another MC series?” you say, disdain in your voice. “You fool!” I yell, in my best Gandolf voice.

Just kidding. Kind of. Not really.  Just. Don’t. Shhhhh.

Miss Wylde may be wild (see what I did there?), but she ain’t cray.  She did her research. In her Author’s Note, she talks about how thorough she was learning about MC’s, to the point of having this book, “reviewed and corrected by a woman attached to an outlaw MC,” (author’s note, Reaper’s Legacy). Did I mention JW was a journalist previous to writing kickass books?  She knows what’s up.

JW writes characters so perfectly flawed, so easy to imagine, that they could step right off the page.  And, if Ruger stepped off into my living room, I wouldn’t say, “nay.” I’m actually pretty sure I’ve met Ruger before, he was just in frat boy wear.  I’d have prefered him in the MC gear, but what can ya do?

So, that being said, go pour yourself a glass of wine, grab a beer, or mix up a cocktail (whatever your poison), or if you prefer to eat your calories do that too. Whatever it is, indulge, you earned it. Then, curl up in your favorite reading spot, put your phone on silent, & get reading.  Oh, and just try not to imagine that piercing in real life.  I bet you $5 you’ll be thinking about it for weeks to come.

Later Gators.