Cowboys and Christmas


Welcome to the

Cowboys & Christmas

Blog Tour!

A kickoff of two new holiday romances by Shanna Hatfield

and a fundraiser for the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

Chasing Ghosts

Hardman community center

When I embarked on the adventure of writing my first sweet Victorian holiday romance, I debated using a real town for the setting or making one up. I knew I wanted the story to take place in Eastern Oregon, but where? I came across information about a ghost town named Hardman that had once been a stop along the stage route.

My curiosity led me to discover that Hardman, Oregon, once boasted several churches, a newspaper office and skating rink, along with a variety of other businesses.

As my imagination began to create the town in my head, my fingers began typing out the first story in the Hardman Holidays series – The Christmas Bargain.

Today, there are a handful of dilapidated old buildings in town, but the bones of those old structures help me picture what the town once looked like, back when it was a bustling town. I do know the school was located on one end of town. In fact, the school became a focal point in my new release and third book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Calamity.

Releasing Thursday (Nov. 13), the book tells the story of a beautiful prestidigitator who finds herself in Hardman with a broken down wagon. Lacking the funds required to fix it, she takes a temporary job as the schoolteacher and quickly falls in love with the community as well as the handsome man who keeps coming to her rescue.

 Blurb for The Christmas Bargain:

Luke Granger is about to get more than he bargained for…
As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in the small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. When he calls in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.

Book Excerpt The Christmas Bargain:

“Aren’t you observant, Mrs. Granger?”

“I try.” She hid her smile behind the mug of chocolate.

“I happen to know a thing or two about you.” He shot her a sideways glance.

“Do tell, kind sir.” Filly batted her eyelashes at him. If Luke didn’t know better, he would think she was being downright flirtatious.

“I have observed, dear woman, that you put others before yourself, you are a dedicated and caring friend and that you have a keen mind with a quick wit. You are clever, smart, and not afraid of hard work. You are very talented with domestic skills and are inspiring as a cook. Your chocolate pudding could make grown men weep.”

Filly offered him a perturbed glare. “So, Mr. Granger, I have missed my calling as a school teacher or perhaps a cook at the restaurant. If my chocolate pudding makes grown men weep, what will my peach pie do to the male population? Bring them to their knees? Make them beg for mercy?”

Luke laughed aloud, causing Filly to grin.

“Filly, my girl, you are something else.” Luke reached across the table and captured her hand in his. “You might not think I notice you, wife of mine, but I know you…”



The Christmas Bargain


The Christmas Token


The Christmas Calamity


Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®

Now through Dec. 24, Shanna will donate 10 percent of the net proceeds from all her book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.


You’re Invited to PARTY!

You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party:

The third book in the Hardman Holidays sweet Victorian romance series releases that day! The Christmas Calamity takes readers back to Hardman just in time for the holiday season. Preorders are available now for just $1.99 on Kindle. You can reserve your copy here:

In addition, the first book in the Hardman Holidays series, The Christmas Bargain, will be available free that day, as well!


Enter to Win Prizes!

Prize Basket


To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form.

About Shanna Hatfield

Shanna Hatfield 5x7A hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure, Shanna Hatfield is a bestselling author of sweet romantic fiction written with a healthy dose of humor. In addition to blogging and eating too much chocolate, she is completely smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna creates character-driven romances with realistic heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Shanna loves to hear from readers! Follow her online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter



On the Road with Karen Kennedy Samoranos

From Christina: Today, as part of the “On the Road” blog tour, I’d like to welcome fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author, Karen Kennedy Samoranos. She’s here to tell us about her latest release, The Secret Life of Richard McCoy, a “four-flame” contemporary romance.  Welcome, Karen!

 The Secret Life of Richard McCoy

by Karen Kennedy Samoranos



Erotic Romance

Sally Eldridge was confident, savvy and competitive, excelling in the male-dominated field of Grand Prix sport bike racing until a life-shattering accident severely damaged her body and psyche. Twenty-seven years of marriage to Richard McCoy served as a buffer from life’s uncertainty. Over time, she surrendered self-reliance to Richard’s control.

Life changes abruptly when Richard dies while on a business trip. Overwhelmed by the devastating loss, Sally is forced to relearn skills she relinquished during marriage to a willful man. She initially accepts Richard’s death until shocking details emerge that upend thirty years. She uncovers his covert life of sexual affairs, illegitimate children, and hidden assets in an obscure corporation. Her investigation exposes her to one man desperate enough to kill her, and another who has been in love with Sally for a decade.

To take control of her future, Sally must expose every truth, even if it means risking her life in the process.

Excerpt from The Secret Life of Richard McCoy

“Mrs. McCoy, if you’re hell-bent on selling then why not sell only forty-nine percent of the winery to your employees and retain control of fifty-one percent?”

“Why not?” she said, futilely trying to put aside her oversexed drama.

She was relieved Vic Callahan hadn’t asked to sleep with her, though she was disappointed that he wouldn’t be servicing her physical needs. What a perfect arrangement it would be, a virile man at her disposal and too past his prime to demand carnal access to her morning, noon, and night, like a sex-crazed college student. Not that she’d mind, but—

“Mrs. McCoy, are you all right?” Vic asked, because her eyes had a faraway quality, and her cheeks were flushed.

“Yes. I’m fine,” she said, annoyed with her sexual single-mindedness. She imagined the expression of idiocy on her face. She couldn’t support her cause as a widow with wherewithal by behaving as though she had brain damage, when all she needed was a vigorous roll in the hay.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Callahan, I am considering your suggestion. It actually makes a lot of sense financially.”

“Thank you, Mrs. McCoy. Seems to me companies do better when they’re employee owned. And this way, you’d still get to keep major control of the winery.”

“It’s a very intelligent idea,” she agreed. She pushed away from the table, and stood, feeling the heat disperse from her inner thighs. She hoped he wouldn’t pick up on her horniness from his side of the room.

Vic got up quickly, and placed his hat on his head.

“Thank you, ma’am. Now, if I were you, thinking about selling a share of my winery, I’d pay for a smart attorney to keep in my pocket, one that’s versed in corporate law, to make sure I don’t get screwed.”

She burned at that word intoned in Vic’s voice, and involuntarily licked her lips.


Buy Links:

All Romance E-books  |  Amazon  |   Barnes and Noble |Secret Cravings Publishing

KKSWhen not writing, Karen Kennedy Samoranos co-manages a music education business in the Bay Area with her husband, Clifford, focusing on jazz theory and live stage performance for children ages 5 through 18. She has four adult children, and four young grandchildren. In her off hours, she hikes, and is an avid fisherman, and motorcyclist (both dirt and street), and an advocate for regular exercise, red wine and whole foods.

Author contact links

Karen Kennedy Samoranos Website

Author Email:




Watch for more “On the Road” authors and excerpts coming from Secret Cravings Publishing!

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On the Road with Cheyenne Meadows

From Christina: Today, as part of the “On the Road” blog tour, I’d like to welcome fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author, Cheyenne Meadows. She’s here to tell us about her latest release, Human Interaction.  Welcome, Cheyenne!

 Human Interaction

by Cheyenne Meadows


Paranormal Romance

3-Flames Heat Level

Series – Book 1


Shyanne, a widow with twin sons, is forced back into the realm of vampires, humans, and shifters when a college research project lands her in an exotic dancing club where she discovers a sexy shifter called Meat who sparks her interest in dating once more.

Shy juggles motherhood, taking college classes, dealing with her eccentric adoptive family, and work.  She finds herself battling for Meat’s attention with a cover model shifter, while trying not to think about Meat’s nun fetish, and her hit and miss—emphasis on the miss—teleportation abilities.

Can they work out their differences and love one another for who they are?  Or will they discover that humans and shifters really don’t mix, especially when life’s monkey wrenches keep getting in the way?

Excerpt from Human Interaction

He stood, grinning widely down at me. “You got any money?”

Without thinking, I burrowed into one of my pockets, pulling out a quarter. I reached out, unfolded my fingers and showed him what I had.

His low laughter followed. Digging into one of his pockets, he pulled out a bill and dropped it onto the table in front of me.

“What’s this?” I looked at the ten dollar bill, then back up at him.

“Do me a favor. Get some change.” He arched an eyebrow, looking at me like he expected a light to come on.

Nope. My light stayed dim as ever. “I don’t get it.”

He leaned down, hands flat on the table, eye to eye with me. “Get some change. I’m on next. Management frowns if you stick your hand in my thong without leaving money.” Meat grinned once more, then stood and turned.

“Wait!” I picked up the money. “I’m confused. You gave me your own money to use. How does that benefit you?”

Straight white teeth flashed as he smiled. “I get your hand in my pants.”

Buy Links:

Secret Cravings  | Amazon    | All Romance Ebooks

Coming soon to Barnes and Noble.

Cheyenne says:

Growing up in the Midwest, I began reading romance novels in high school, immediately falling in love with the genre, to the point where I decided to write professionally for a career. However, that dream splattered against a brick wall, resulting in a quick death in my first writing class in college when my professor told me bluntly that I wasn’t any good at it. I shifted gears quickly, and left my writing dreams behind, eventually settling on becoming a nurse.

A few years back, I stumbled across a fan-fiction writing site on a favorite author’s webpage. I began to read stories others wrote, not only making some wonderful close friends from the experience, but also, really learning to write for the very first time. Here I was able to share short stories, practice my writing skills, and truly develop into a writer. More than that, the experience allowed me to revitalize my dream, as I rediscovered joy in writing.

Now, I spend my days off with my alpha male characters, quick witted heroines, and see how much trouble everyone can get into. When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy working in the garden, canning, and seeing my backyard as a living canvas for my whimsical landscaping, and, of course, reading romance novels.


Find Cheyenne online at:

Cheyenne Meadows

Facebook: Cheyenne Meadows

Or Email her at:

Watch for more “On the Road” authors and excerpts coming from Secret Cravings Publishing!

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Author Quick Chat with Mia Epsilon

Hi, readers! Today I’ve got Mia Epsilon here for a quick chat. I posed one question to her:

How are you using social media as an author?

Here’s Mia’s answer:

facebook_like_logo_1Social media as an author, for me, is mainly Face Book. I love seeing posts and responding to readers and friends. I don’t use Twitter as much as I should, mainly because 140 characters never seems enough for someone as long winded as I am. I love blogs and reading about others, plus putting out my own thoughts over things. Good Reads still tends to confuse me, I get mad at some reviews on Amazon and laugh myself silly at others (have you seen the ones for a gummy bear product? Hysterical!). Amyone have some tips for making Good reads easier?


Now, it’s YOUR turn.

Readers, do you use social media to stay in touch with your favorite authors?

Mia Epsilon lives with her enduring soul mate hubby in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA. She’s an avid reader of almost anything but particularly romance, a never-miss-an-episode viewer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, and happily suffers a coffee and chocolate addiction. She can most often be found at her computer, spinning new stories, or in a quiet padded nook with her e reader. Look for more stories in the ‘Weddings by C & C’ line including ‘That Night’ featuring more of Anna & Robin and ‘Take a Chance on Me’, Christine and Charlie’s story.

Check out Wedding Belle Blues by Mia Epsilon

Anna is planning the perfect wedding, but she doesn’t anticipate her future mother-in-law’s offer of help’ which translates into take over. Her groom-to-be avoids her and insists their growing problems are just ‘bridal nerves’. Worst of all, her best friend, Robin, begins to act strange. Everyone around her has his or her own agenda. What’s a girl to do when she begins to realize the perfect life she envisioned is all a lie?

Robin has two great loves in his life: his best friend Anna and his motorcycle. Not one to make a scene, he supports Anna in her plan to marry the wrong man and regrets she can’t accept his ‘dare devil’ lifestyle. But when push comes to shove, he’s more than willing to make the necessary sacrifice and prove he is the man she needs.

As the wedding date nears and plans shift into high gear, Robin and Anna grow closer and not just as friends. Each must decide what the perfect life truly means while trying to negotiate the maze of wedding plans, secrets, and hidden motives. Will someone be left singing the blues?

Wedding Belle




On the Road with Paloma Beck

From Christina: Today, as part of the “On the Road” blog tour, I’d like to welcome fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author, Paloma Beck. She’s here to tell us about her latest release, Shadowed Spirit.   Welcome, Paloma!

 Shadowed Spirit

by Paloma Beck

Shadowed Spirit by Paloma Beck The seven Sinster sisters are entwined in a legacy originating back from the time of the Italian Wars in the 1500s. One by one, they’ll find their mates from the immortal Valendite Breeds and secure their place in history.

After escaping a kidnapping, Sadie returns to her carefree life as a dancer, turning away once again from the realities of her destiny as a Sinster sister. This time, she takes a job in Vegas to hide away. Burdened by the soul sin of Sloth, Sadie can’t seem to care about the prophecy that consumes her family.

Granger, on assignment with TEU, heads to Vegas to protect her. Everything is going as planned until he discovers Sadie is his mate and then all bets are off. Now his mission is not only to protect Sadie until the prophecy is fulfilled and the danger abated but he must also convince her that accepting their destiny will make her stronger. He doesn’t have much time because as they hide out in the city of sin, her sisters await her to join their circle and forge a magic stronger than steel.

Sadie is about to find out that she holds the final key to saving her race.


Excerpt from Shadowed Spirit

The mission was simple and he got the added reward of coming to Vegas. He’d scored at a few blackjack tables while he waited for the club to open and, with some luck, maybe he’d score tonight with one of these near-naked waitresses coming by.

The shadowed worry that had been following him over the past few months hadn’t yet gone away. Granger couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that trouble was on its way and now sitting in this club, the shadow clinging to him with a deeper fervor, he knew it could all come back to Sadie. After all, it had all started with her. This feeling began the day he’d rescued her.

Granger adjusted himself and got comfortable in the plush booth, ready for the sweetest surveillance he’d ever done. If Sadie were here, he’d find her. There was no missing the hellfire with flaming red curls. He’d seen her through his scope when doing parameter watches during her sister’s Pronouncements, but had never seen her as up close and personal until the day of her rescue. Only then, she’d been a mess. He suspected she’d be more presentable in this little club tonight.

Madden gave him strict mission orders though. Hands off the merchandise. Granger was to inform Sadie of the latest risks and do what it took to bring her back to the compound. That man was no fun since he was mated.

The music stopped and the stage lights went on. Granger watched as at least a dozen women filed out onto the stage in tight corsets and tiny panties accented by heavy snow boots, fingerless mittens, and fuzzy hats. Apparently, someone had the wrong idea about winter apparel, but who was he to complain when the view was this spectacular? Granger surveyed the line of women on stage. His eyes moved back and forth twice before they locked on those blue eyes he remembered. Instead of sallow and tired, they were vibrant and bright. Her skin that had been caked with mud and grime was now like porcelain, so clear she could’ve been a mannequin. He blinked and looked away as a rush of that same anxiousness washed through him. What the fuck?

When Granger looked back at the stage, Sadie was in the front line coming down the stairs. He was certain music was playing and that these women were dancing, but he’d developed tunnel vision. All he saw was his mate—without any doubt, it was his mate—with her bright flaming red hair now fringing her face, the hat she once wore on the floor, and the scarf no longer hiding her breasts. She stood before him in a shiny silver shelf bra that left nothing to the imagination of these men sitting around him.

Hell, no, his mate wasn’t going to parade around like that for all these men to see. His muscles shifted, his adrenaline surged as he determined the best course of action. He knew he shouldn’t cause a disruption. He needed to approach this as he would a mission. Yet every nerve in his body screamed at him to get up, grab his mate, throw her over his shoulder, and get the hell out of there.

A growl escaped his throat as he watched Sadie, his eyes never leaving her. Then despite the fact he was hidden away in a corner booth, her rich ocean blue eyes landed on him. They grew wide and he saw her breath catch. Oh yes, she recognized him as her mate too. That’s right, beautiful, you are all mine, Grander thought as he adjusted himself again. Damn jeans weren’t giving him any room for comfort now.

Sadie spun in rhythm with the other dancers, her tiny hips gyrating to the music just as she’d be doing to him as soon as he could get them the fuck out of here. She drifted across the room in erotically choreographed movements that would’ve been fantastic if it wasn’t that his mate was dancing in nearly nothing in a room full of men.

When the waitress came over with his drink, Granger asked how long the performance lasted and was relieved to hear there would be an intermission after only a half hour. He could wait that long. Then he’d take her and split. They had something to take care of before he brought her back to the compound. He took sips of his bourbon and then more deep breaths to calm his nerves. His hands itched to touch her, to feel those springy curls in his fingers as he kissed her lush pink lips. Well shit, this line of thinking wasn’t doing him any good. Maybe he should shoot TEU a text to check in and let them know he’d located her.

Found her. In my sights. Everything good. Complication though.

He’d no sooner sent the message than the response came.

She’s your mate.

Fuck, how did they know? He shook his head, feeling like he’d just been set up.

You knew?

The text took longer this time.

  1. Stay in reserved suite until ready for return. No hurry.

Granger was closing his phone, shaking his head, when he looked up again to see Sadie standing right in front of his table, her hips swaying side to side with her torso bent back. She wasn’t watching him, but she most certainly had to know what she was doing to him. The damn woman before him now was nothing like the woman he’d rescued, nor did she look like the simple beauty he’d seen through his scope on a few occasions. Didn’t her file say her soul sin was sloth?

This Sadie, the dancer, was stunning.


  Available online at:

Sweet Cravings Publishing



All Romance

About Paloma Beck:

Paloma BeckPaloma Beck is a Romance Author living a life of contradiction… she’s a happily married carpooling mom writing steamy romance. It’s almost naughty but she loves it!

Paloma writes both contemporary and paranormal romances that are anything but PG. She published her first book in 2012 and hasn’t slowed down since. Look for more information on her Website.

With her husband and three sons, the Blue Ridge mountains have been her home for nearly twenty years. There’s still a special place in her heart though for New England where she spent her childhood. The lakes of Maine call her name and someday she hopes to find her way back there.


Find Paloma Beck online at:

Romance Beckons


Facebook: Seven Sin Sisters Series


Watch for more “On the Road” authors and excerpts coming from Secret Cravings Publishing!

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On the Road with Lisa Adams

From Christina: Today, as part of the “On the Road” blog tour, I’d like to welcome fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author, Lisa Adams. She’s here to tell us about her latest release,  A Sailor’s Seduction. Welcome, Lisa!

 A Sailor’s Seduction

– A Weekend Getaway Read –

by Lisa Adams

 Sailor's SeductionSeaman Thomas Musak has just arrived in San Diego to begin training in his new occupation. However, he realizes soon enough that training a new partner to share his rack is more fun than he ever could have imagined.

Seaman Jacob Lyriceman has just flunked out of Nuke school, and is now passing the time before his next big adventure begins. Becoming a Navy Seal requires stamina and a sense of adventure. Both of these characteristics make him irresistible to many.  But, Thomas has the one thing he truly desires.


Excerpt from A Sailor’s Seduction


Jacob turned and looked out across the harbor. “I guess I knew by about twelve, but I was in denial until I graduated high school. I wouldn’t admit it to anyone. I dated girls all through school. You know, anything to make me look normal.”

“Did you ever have sex with them?” Thomas was shocked at his own bluntness.

Jacob faced him straight on. “No.” A small grin slipped across his lips and Thomas’s insides tingled with the familiar feeling of attraction and lust. “I was known as the ‘safe guy’, so I had a lot of girlfriends, but I had a lot of heartbreaks as well.”

“How did you finally overcome your fear?” Thomas found this extremely interesting. His family had several gay members in it. They were, and had always been, very accepting of him. His first real fear had come when he left for boot camp. His father had talked with him for weeks about things he would have to do and hide.

“I was actually at a party. You know those wonderful drinking games people play? One had me locked in a closet with a guy and a girl. The guy was totally bombed. I was trying to do things with the girl and he suddenly stared rubbing all over me. It was the most erotic thing that had ever occurred in my life…up to that point, of course.” Jacob gave a quick wink and Thomas’s manhood was ready to salute. That’s when I realized if I was going to truly be happy, I had to stop hiding who I was, especially from myself.”

Thomas let the story roll over him as he imagined being in the closet with Jacob.


“What?” Thomas cleared his throat once more and swallowed.

Jacob laughed. “What about you? You ever been with a girl?”

“No. I was never attracted to any.” Thomas thought about all the girls who wanted to date him, but he never felt right about leading them on.

“So who was your first?”

“He was a GI from Bragg. It was a one-night stand deal.”

Jacob cringed. “That had to be rough.”

“Not really. It was all so exciting and new. I was okay with the one-night stand. I had too many things to work out and I didn’t need the pressures of a relationship.” Thomas looked out across the bay again. Night had settled in and the San Diego lights were winking at him. “So now what?”


 Available online at:

Secret Cravings Publishing


Barnes and Noble 



About Lisa Adams:

Lisa A. Adams writes from a little plot of country, tucked away in the North Carolina Sandhills. When asked about her family, Lisa will be the first to tell you that her family support system has been the backbone, of not only her writing career, but anything she chooses to pursue. She has been married to her husband, Ray, for ten years and has five wonderful children.



You can find Lisa online at:




Blog: Pen the Dream


Watch for more “On the Road” authors and excerpts coming from Secret Cravings Publishing!

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On the Road with Louise Roberts

From Christina: Today, as part of the “On the Road” blog tour, I’d like to welcome fellow Secret Cravings Publishing author, Louise Roberts. She’s here to tell us about her latest release, The Sword and the Rose.   Welcome, Louise!

 The Sword and the Rose

by Louise Roberts



Sword and RoseMargherita is devastated. When brothers, Iago, the Sword, and Ferdinando, the Rose, return from a sea voyage, she wants a proposal from one, but instead receives it from the one she didn’t want. She is sent to her sister, Isabella, in Valencia, where she is introduced to yet another potential suitor, Don Ramón de Cabezon. This turn of events upsets Margherita’s brother Miguel, who comes to take her back to Cullera.  Brother and suitor come to blows. While one comes out the winner, the other meets his demise.

Iago and Ferdinando’s quest to find justice for the deceased leads to sibling rivalry between the two. Who will come out the winner in a duel between the two brothers? And more importantly, which one will win Margherita’s heart?

Excerpt from The Sword and the Rose

Standing on a tripod, which he kept in a corner of the balcony, was a telescope, which Juan often used, either to gaze at the stars during hot summer nights, or to watch ships as they sailed in and out of the port of Valencia, which was located further up the coast. He walked over to it now and peered through its delicate lenses, focusing it to bring the ship clearly into view. Her sails, pink in color from the early evening sunset, bellowed in the wind. Every inch of canvas stretched out from every mast speeding her journey through the azure blue water. He followed her lines to the bow which was being coated with a fine spray of white foam. As she sliced through the waves, the ship’s figurehead, a woman’s torso scantily dressed in what seemed to represent a fine white gown. Rich chestnut hair flying in the wind in her hands a crucifix held to her bosom was being bathed. A thin smile appeared on Juan’s lips as he recognized the Santa Theresa.

In the distance he could hear the sound of the village church. Its solitary bell being peeled, calling the people to early evening devotions. He stepped back into the bedchamber. His wife, Ermelinda, stirred in her slumber. She was a fine, tall woman, with dark brown curly hair and blue eyes. An unusual combination for someone of pure Spanish blood as she, although it had been rumored that several generations back, her mother’s part of the family may have originated from either Southern France or Northern Italy. Although their betrothal had been arranged by their parents, as was the custom, almost twenty years before, on meeting her for the first time, Juan had immediately fallen in love with her. Apart from being quite stunningly beautiful, he discovered Ermelinda had a wonderful personality and a good sense of humor, a trait that he found lacking in some women, especially those of the Borja family themselves. Despite having no sisters, Juan did have several aunts, and he and his brothers always found them too severe and stuffy. Having Ermelinda about him added zest to his life. Her laugh anddemeanor was intoxicating in themselves they were the recipe for their happy and successful marriage.

Apart from Iago and Ferdinando, who were both in their seventeenth year, Ermelinda had borne him three other children. Veronica was sixteen years of age, Dorotea and Alfonso, who were another set of twins, were fourteen. Juan felt he was truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

He quickly dressed as silently as possible by himself. He chose not to bother his valet. When he was ready, he stepped over to the bed, kissing his wife lightly on the cheek and whispered in her ear, “The Santa Theresa is home.”

Juan made his way down the stairs to the entrance hallway, and although he could hear the servants preparing the evening meal as he crossed the courtyard, deciding he would attend Mass in the village in order to give thanks to God for the safe return of his brother’s ship.

The church, a white building with terracotta tiles for its roof, marked the rear boundary of the Villa Sant’Angelo. On the opposite side of the cove, the Castillo d’Almansa stood on a massive rock overlooking the village below it, which spread out beside the mouth of the Rio Jucar. The church was full with the local population wishing to attend Mass before resuming their daily chores.

Juan entered the building and walked quietly down the aisle, receiving nods of respect from the people as he made his way to the family pew. His presence caused a whisper amongst them, as it was unusual to see him amongst them in the church itself. The Borjas only ever attended it during formal functions or whenever there was an occasion that needed a great deal of space, as the Villa Sant’Angelo boasted a small chapel in its grounds. Mass was usually only said there at mid-morning in order to allow the family members to awaken properly. Juan, however, although he had attended morning Mass wished to pray for his brother’s safe return, and then set off to Valencia to welcome him personally and to look upon his sons after their lengthy absence.

A hand bell rang sharply in the vestry at the side of the altar. A small elderly priest of the Dominican Order entered the church flanked by two altar boys.

The priest smiled at seeing his patron in the pew before him, and giving his blessings, began to recite the Mass in Latin.

The congregation knelt down, Juan joining in with them. Although he repeated the Mass with the people, his thoughts were of his sons, seeing as how it was in this very church three years before, they had all attended a service to bless the Santa Theresa and all who sailed on her, on her impending voyage to the New World.

The sound of bells made him remember where he was, and he began to continue to recite his devotions.

The Mass was half-way through, and Juan wondered how it had progressed this far so quickly. He was sure he had been listening, but he knew that, even in his youth, the tranquility and peace he felt whilst at church, always resulted in his mind drifting to other things. This time he was anxious to see the Sword and the Rose. Iago, the Sword, due to his quick, sharp mind, always so determined and delivering his point of view with precision and impact. Ferdinando however, similar to a Rose, had a gentle nature, and like a bud coming into bloom, showed promise of one day becoming a much sought after prize. Juan smiled at the simile, an observation his dearest Ermelinda had once remarked upon, and had since stayed within the family as private pet names for the boys.


 Available online at:

Sweet Cravings Publishing

Barnes and Noble



About Louise Roberts:

Louise Roberts was born in Alexandria, Egypt in August 1951 to British parents by Maltese descent. Following the Suez Crisis in November 1956 her parents were compelled to abandon their assets and home, and leave the country as political refugees. Louise grew up and was educated in London, England and has always held a passion for history and English Literature.

In 1988 she immigrated to Sydney, Australia and presently lives with her family in the northern bushland suburb of Berowra, which is located just south of the Hawkesbury River.


You can find Louise online at the following:


Twitter: @LouiseRobertsAu

Louise Roberts Romance


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