Sassy & Southern

Solo Honeymoon

Posted in General on December 16th, 2010 by Casey Crow

Hey Casey, thanks for letting me drop in today to your blog. I love your pink, happy place. It matches your personality so well. A great website for a great person. I appreciate the chance to come by and talk about my release, Solo Honeymoon, a little bit. It’s a story set in London, Italy, and New York City. I love to travel and set my stories in cities other than my own. Seems more romantic to me although I live in paradise.

Since the RWA national conference will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square in 2011, I thought I share a little about NYC here today. I love NYC but can only take a few days at a time there. The buzz of activity is constant and it truly is the city that never sleeps. Sirens, ambulances, people, taxis, and anything you can imagine goes on all day and night. It’s wild. I live in the south where the pace is much slower and I start to get overwhelmed after about five days. And while I like walking, I love my car and taking cabs, buses and the subway gets old fast. I saw a sign for a parking garage in Times Square and it said the rate was $1,400.00 a month to park a car. Park a car, yes, $1,400.00.

The Marriott Marquis is a wonderful hotel and it plays a role in my novel, Solo Honeymoon, as does Junior’s Cheesecake.

Junior’s cheesecake is just across the street from the hotel. It’s a full service restaurant with excellent food but the cheesecake is to die for. The pieces are huge- I recommend you go- with a friend- and share. Definitely share.

Here’s a bit of the story that includes the Marquis and Junior’s:

After the show, she stopped in at Junior’s Cheesecake near Schubert Alley to have a slice of chocolate mousse. As she sat outside enjoying the slice and watching the crowd, she noticed a man jump out of one of the limousines that had been going in and out of the drive to the Marriott. 

Was that Dario? No. Impossible. Must be all the sugar in this slice of cheesecake that’s as big as my head.Just another handsome olive-skinned man. I’m seeing him everywhere.She closed the plastic box with half the cheesecake left in it, got up, and walked across the street to the hotel and rode up the glass elevator to her suite on the forty-eighth floor. The suite her father had arranged for her was immense. It was rather plain with all the white bedclothes and the tan upholstery. She felt it was a place of refuge in its plainness. New York City was always buzzing and humming, and the room was an oasis. Emma put the rest of the cheesecake in the mini refrigerator, kicked off her shoes, and flopped down on the sofa in the living room area of the suite. She snapped on the television just for the noise. The phone rang. She grabbed the receiver. “Hello.”

 “Miss Chauncey?”

“Yes? This is Emma Chauncey.”

“This is the front desk. I wanted to tell you that there was a Count de Luca, down here at the desk. He asked for you and he also asked me not to tell you he was here but I figured I better since you’re paying the bill.” the voice said with a slight giggle.

You can order the book here:

Come by and visit me at

Thanks again, Casey, for letting me come by. I want to give away a copy of Solo Honeymoon to one commenter. Just leave me a comment telling me your favorite kind of cheesecake for a chance to win. My personal favorite is pumpkin. I’ll have draw a number from the comments for a winner. Visit to see what’s next in Jillian’s life as I have two more books to be released in 2011.


Romancing the Mystery

Posted in General on December 9th, 2010 by Casey Crow

Jackie King loves books, words, and writing tall tales. She especially enjoys murdering the people she dislikes on paper. King is a full time writer who also teaches writing at Tulsa Community College. Her latest novel, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE is a traditional mystery. King has also written four novellas as co-author of the Foxy Hens Series. Thanksgiving with a Mysterious Stranger is her latest novella and is included in the anthology TWO FOXY HOLIDAY HENS AND ONE BIG ROOSGER. Her only nonfiction book is DEVOTED TO COOKING. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Oklahoma Writers Federation, Oklahoma Mystery Writers, and Tulsa Night Writers.


Thanks, Casey, for inviting me as a guest blogger to discuss “Romancing the Mystery.” Very gutsy of you since I can’t seem to spin a romantic yarn without weaving in “Murder Most Foul” along with “Happily Ever After.” When my fingers hit the keyboard I’m immediately seized by the urge to murder some odious person on paper. ALAS for my LACK (pun intended) of control, but YEA for the fun of it. You see, I can choose any dolt I wish who has ‘done me wrong’ or ‘irritated the fire out of me.’ (Okie speak.)

Since I write traditional (cozy) mystery, the violence in my stories happens off scene and my main character stumbles onto the body. Circumstances then drag this hapless person into the solving of the crime. In my novel THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, poor Grace Cassidy discovers a naked dead body in her hotel bed. Then (as if she didn’t have enough problems dealing with an unfaithful husband), I add a rugged cop named Sergeant Sam Harper, who thinks our Grace did the killing but likes her anyway. [Now available on Kindle $2.99]

Oh my! There’s nothing like murder and mayhem and secret lusting after someone who is totally wrong for you, to get a reader’s/writer’s juices flowing. I know, because those are the kinds of books I read until my eyes feel as if they have been sandpapered.

For writers out there, I suggest you consider spiking your romance with a touch of mystery. For my favorite people, readers (and of course this includes writers who are avid readers) let’s chat for a minute about authors who excel at this skill:

Nancy Martin has penned the delightful Blackbird Sisters mysteries series. She begins with HOW TO MURDER A MILLIONAIRE and continues to MURDER MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH. And I just heard a new Blackbird book is in the mill. Martin also writes the brassier Roxy Abruzzo series featuring a monster dog and a monster truck, along with the madcap heroine.

Charlaine Harris doesn’t just write about vampires! If you haven’t already done so, check out her Aurora “Roe” Teagarden line involving a young librarian and her evolving love life. Aurora “Roe” Teagarden begins as a stereotypical librarian wearing coke bottle glasses and sensible shoes. Her social highlight is a once-a-month meeting with other mystery enthusiasts to discuss murder. As might be expected, someone is iced and Roe becomes sleuth. She also evolves through the series into a sexy woman with an exciting social calendar. These books are well-plotted, exciting mysteries, combined with romance.

Have y’all (more Okie speak) read Elaine Viet’s ‘Dead End Job series?’ If not, you might want to read the first chapter of AN UPLIFTING MURDER (free on line). Bet you’ll love it. I intend to order my copy as soon as I finish writing this blog. She’s another writer who keeps me glued to the book until the last page is finished.

I’ve shared three of my favorites mystery/romance series. Let me know your best picks, whatever they may be, and if I haven’t already tried these authors I’ll head for my favorite bookstore.


Jackie King


Confessions: Order? I don’t need no stinking order!

Posted in General on November 30th, 2010 by Guest

Hey all! It’s Robin again, back with another confession. My husband thinks I’m strange. For many reasons, really, but relevant to this conversation, he thinks I am totally weird for reading books out of order. To me, it doesn’t matter that three books came before the latest one I brought home from Borders last night. If the premise and characters portrayed on the back cover seem interesting to me, I’m all in.

It’s usually when I start reading the book that I become enthralled with the stories and landscapes the author has created – and then am introduced to other characters whose stories have been told in the previous books. Once I’m hooked, I often will go back to the beginning of the series and get the whole overarching picture, but it’s not a necessity.

For example, when I started reading Gaelen Foley’s seven-book series of Regency romances that centered on the Knight family, I chose the second book (Born of Fire) to start with. The story was one of the bad boy versus the good girl and seemed pretty interesting when I perused it in the store. In that novel, I fell for the hero and heroine and was introduced to some members of the extended Knight family, whose stories I read soon after.

To this day, though, I’ve still never read the first book in the series. Each is self-contained, while sowing the seeds for the novels that follow. But I’m satisfied with what I know about these characters and don’t feel particularly compelled to find out how it all began.

I admire how series authors are able to tell their stories so intricately over hundreds upon hundreds of pages, yet still make every book stand on its own. It gives me, as a reader, the freedom to choose how I approach their work. It also makes the journey all the more thrilling, since I can read a book all over again and get a whole new perspective after having gained more context from the ones that came before.

How do you approach reading series novels? Do you have to start at the beginning, or do individual stories catch your attention?

Thanks for having me on again Casey!


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Posted in General on November 25th, 2010 by Casey Crow

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Do You Admit To Reading Romance?

Posted in General on November 20th, 2010 by Casey Crow

About Grace Elliot.
Grace leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of sensuous historical romance by night. An avid romance reader, her favorite authors include Mary Balogh, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn and Nicola Cornick. As well as being addicted to books, her other passions are cats, chocolate and…guinea pigs, all of which figure heavily at her blog:


As a writer, having a book published is about as exciting as it gets. So when word got out that my historical romance ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is now available, guess what my boss’s response was? Yep, you guessed it.

‘Oh, a romance? Not Mills and Boon, I hope.’ (Said in a derisory tone.)

It’s niggled me since that I didn’t immediately respond, ‘So you’ve never read one?’ But in truth, I was a little embarrassed about being a romance fan… plus I was angling for a pay review at the time!

Now I’m an intelligent woman, a professional, and I love romances. In truth it’s the ‘sneerers’ who have never read one who should feel embarrassed. Why? Answer -Because of their ill informed assumptions.

Sneerers assume that romance novels are superficial and poorly crafted. OK so there is the odd dodgy writer out there, as in any genre, but the best romances are a subtle interplay of emotional tension, evocative description and riveting plot such that you are transported to a different time and place, away from the responsibilities of the real world.

And as for being superficial – a historical romance requires heaps of research to successfully evoke time and place. I write the sort of books I love to read; steeped in atmosphere, complex characters and a gripping plot. I hope you agree, hold your head high and ignore ignorant ‘sneerers.’


Set in Regency England ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ is a story of blackmail, duty and an unexpected love.

Celeste Armitage has a plan…and that plan doesn’t include marriage.

After deliberately humiliating a suitor, Celeste’s despairing parents exile her to the country. But once there she discovers a sketch book of daring nude studies and is shaken to find the artist is her hostess’s eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing. This darkly cynical lord is exactly the sort of dissipated rogue she despises most…if only her blood didn’t heat at the thought of him…

Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf’s life is a façade. Only he can save the Charing’s from disgrace as a blackmailer tries to ruin his late brother’s reputation. But just as Ranulf dares to open his heart to Celeste, the fury of his nemesis is unleashed… facing him with the stark choice between true love and family duty. However when Celeste guesses the truth behind his rejection, Ranulf underestimates her resolve to clear his name and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger….

To find out more about ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ visit:




[Celeste accidently finds Lord Ranulf’s private sketchbook.]


On the next page a lithe figure rose out of darkness, arms raised as if to dance away. Candlelight played in soft shadows of her sinuous back. But more remarkable than the fluidity of her form was the intimacy of her look, glancing over her shoulder toward the artist with eyes brim full of lust.

Celeste forgot to breath, shaken by the undeniable realisation that these pictures were drawn by a man…and one intimately acquainted with women.

“Oh my.” Fascinated, hand trembling, she was unable to turn away.

The next drawing was a naked woman reclining with her back toward the artist. The undulation of her waist, hip and thigh formed a landscape of their own; the rhythmic lines of her body lovingly rendered, observed as if the artist were caressing her form with his skill.

Celeste stays had become uncommonly tight. If her mother wished her to be more broad minded then surely such sketches were educational…besides, the artist’s skill was admirable, to study his technique would help her own poor efforts.

Sucking her top lip, Celeste once again opened the sketchbook. Dipping back in, devouring the images greedily, this world of shapes and shadows, or deft strokes and bold smudges. With each new sketch her heart raced afresh until she became lost in the use of tone and assured line. But as she drank in each new image, the conviction grew and strengthened within her, that this was more than a few lewd pictures, but that she had glimpsed a world of freedom, a celebration of life denied to her as a woman.

Celeste was so engrossed that the unexpected sound of a man clearing his throat was as cold water thrown over her. She froze, then very slowly, praying that she’d imagined the cough, looked up to see leaning nonchalantly against the door a dark haired devil with a wavy mouth, assessing her as if she were his next meal.

Lean and athletic, in tight fitting breeches, a kerysmere waistcoat and faultless cravat, with the assured arrogance of a rake, he seemed an oddly familiar. Her heart skipped a beat. With the ghost of a smile, he crossed the room toward her. Reining in her galloping heart she struggled to recall how it was that this dangerous stranger seemed so familiar.

His masculine presence filled the room, quite robbing Celeste of breath; his arrogant, male magnificence calling to her body in an animal way. He filled her senses so much so that she forgot to breathe; throat constricted and chest tight. In her right mind she might have chastised him for staring, but as it was she was hypnotised, unable to see past the hollowed cheeks and wavy mouth. The rational part of her mind feared lest he guess the havoc his velvet brown eyes was having on her body but with stubborn determination she returned his gaze, refusing to be cowed. A delicious shiver tingled her skin. She knew this man. She just didn’t know how.


Confessions of a Book Addict

Posted in General on November 17th, 2010 by Guest


It is my pleasure to welcome Robin Kavanagh!  Robin is a workaholic writer, mom, and college professor who is hoping to finally get one of her novels completed one of these years – instead of all of the nonfiction stuff that pays the bills. In the meantime, she’s mingling with and learning from fabulous writers and channeling their energy into pushing her stories forward and creating new worlds of her own.

My name is Robin Kavanagh, and I’m an addict. It’s been about four years since I started chain reading, and I have absolutely no intention of kicking the habit.

It all started on my 28th birthday. The company I was working for had instituted a policy that gave employees the day off for their birthday. I was about seven-months pregnant and so wired from working non-stop that I had no idea what to do when I wound up having the entire day to myself. My husband was at work. My daughter was at school, and my dad was scheduled to pick her up, so I had nine whole hours of nothing but peace and quiet.

I was bored out of my mind by 11 a.m.

So, I picked up the copy of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Narcissus in Chains that had been sitting on my computer desk for who knows how many months, care of my husband’s habit of buying books and never reading them. I’d seen various books in the Anita Blake series (of which Narcissus in Chains is the tenth book) throughout the house, but didn’t really know anything about it. I opened the book to some middle chapter and started reading.

The next thing I knew, everyone was home, and I was grouchy that I had to stop to attend to the business of reality. Since then, rarely has a night gone by that I have not spent at least some time reading for pleasure. This was a new concept for me; first because I was taking time for myself and second because I had never really looked at reading as something pleasurable. Utilitarian, academic, compulsory – yes. Relaxing, invigorating, cathartic – never.

So here I am, hundreds of books later, thoroughly addicted. I have my authors-of-choice, to whom I return on a regular basis, as well as favorite flavors that keep my mind tripping into world after world of uncharted territory: historical romance, paranormal, romantic suspense, sci-fi romance, urban fantasy… My only regret is regretting not buying stock in Borders and!

Now it’s your turn: How did your love affair with reading begin?

Thank you Casey for letting me blog with you!



Posted in General on November 15th, 2010 by Casey Crow

Hey y’all. Sorry I’ve been MIA for a few weeks, but now that some personal biz has been taken care of, I’m back! November always reminds us to be extra thankful so today, let’s talk about what we are most thankful for. For me: my children, friends who keep me sane and tell me like it is even when I don’t want to hear it, mini chocolate cupcakes, my gym, green olives, my jazz class, and Barq’s root beer (do you see the eat junk, workout, eat more junk pattern?). I also love this fabulous weather we’ve been having in South Alabama! No comment on Bama football.

In my writing life, I’m grateful for my local RWA chapter - especially these gals: Cynthia Eden, Sayde Grace and Savannah Stuart always share a smile, advice, and encouraging words and Jillian Chantel gives aspiring authors hope practically on a daily basis. I’m also beyond happy to have signed with an agent this year! Thank you Krista Goering for believing in me!

So what things are you thankful for? I’d love to hear from you.


The Romance Sage Part IV – Parental Instructions

Posted in General on November 1st, 2010 by Casey Crow

I went to lunch with 7 the other day and The Crush waved at ME from three seats down. ME! I was quiet excited until 7 explained the following to me:

  1. He was trying to impress me because if Mama likes him, she will encourage the relationship.                                                                                      

           7 did not actually use the word “relationship.” Instead she smacked    her hands together demonstrating the boyfriend/girlfriend bond.

        2.  Mamas must act “cool,” otherwise The Crush will know something is up.

        3.  Mamas must NOT be too nosey.

In other news, 7 says that it is okay to:          

      4.  Bat your lashes at a boy. 

       It clues him in that you like him, but very subtly.                                               

       5.   Have daydreams about The Crush.

       But not while the teacher is talking. Mama gets mad when the grades slip.

Stayed tuned…7 had a playdate, who happily jumped on board, creating a long list of blog notes for us. The friend’s comments appear in the next episode.


Happy Halloween

Posted in General on October 28th, 2010 by Casey Crow

Hey y’all! Happy Halloween! I was debating about posting The Romance Saga Part IV, but decided to take a detour because I’m curious if you have any good Halloween stories. Alas, I do not have anything overly exciting. I grew up in the country so we MAYBE had two or three trick or treaters, but my yard got rolled practically every year. I’d like to think it was because I was oh, so popular, but really I just had amazing oak trees. My best halloween experience was when I was a junior in high school. I invaded my best friend’s house and announced I would be the candy giver because I’d never gotten to do that. Then a bunch of my school buddies and I went rolling for the first time. (Don’t tell – it might mess up that good girl image I had in high school!). Now, my Halloweens involve sneaking Twix from my kids’ bags and wearing a t-shirt that says, “This is my costume.” I can’t even get my kids to crave a pumpkin because they don’t want to touch the goop. Seriously, I need to up my game on the whole Halloween experience.


5 Reasons I Read Romance

Posted in General on October 25th, 2010 by Guest

Hi everyone! The Book Vixen here. I would like to thank Ms. Casey Crow for opening her doors and inviting me over to her blog today.

Here are 5 reasons I read romance:

1. It’s an escape.

I’m a stay-at-home-mom. Day in and day out I tend to my two young children. My 3 ½ year old stays at home with me while his older sister goes off to Kindergarten for half the day. One can imagine how exciting it can be to do the mundane tasks us parents do on a day-to-day basis. One way I like to escape is by reading and a genre I love to read is romance. The farther away a book is from my reality, the better. I don’t read romance where there are children in the picture; that wouldn’t be much of an escape, now would it?

2. You get to live in someone else’s shoes.

This is the fun part! I get to read and experience life from a different prospective. I can go from being Miss Goody Goody to a Vixen in a few pages flat! I get to read about someone doing something that I would never have the guts to do. I can be the vixen that sleeps with every gorgeous guy that I come across. I can be the woman who falls for the man that I wouldn’t normally go after. I can be that tough and fearless leading lady who makes not only the first move but is also aggressive about it. Reading romance novels is almost like cheating, without any of the hurt, guilt or consequences. It gives me a chance to do something that I might not normally do. Be someone I am not. Hook up with someone I would be too shy to approach. Be all that I can be, with a safety net. I am a happily married woman but sometimes it’s fun to imagine life as a single vixen. ;)

3. You get to see and experience different places.

Here’s a little secret: I’m afraid to fly. So it’s nice to read about different places, especially places I may never visit. It could be a different state in my country or a different county altogether. I’m sick of the place I live in. I’ve been here all my life and would jump at the chance to move away. So I love to read romance novels that involve another place.

4. You get good use of your emotions.

When I read one of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, I will laugh and I will cry. I will feel just about every other emotion in between. My heart will hurt and ache like it’s been ripped out of my chest. And that’s why I enjoy reading them; he takes you through an entire range of emotions. You cannot know what it is to love someone until you have felt loss. And sometimes I need a good cry.

5. There’s a type of romance out there for everyone and for every mood.

My favorites are contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense. Sometimes I’m in the mood for some realistic, yet different from my life, romance. Or I might be in the mood for some vampire and werewolf loving. I also love a good mystery surrounding a love story.

Now that I’ve told you why I read romance, I want to hear from you. Why do you read romance?