This blog is for those 18 and older.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Driving on the Left in St. Croix.

My adventures living on a Caribbean island. Welcome to my monthly, or not so monthly adventures. We try not to commit too soon here on island :-)

First Impression #4

When visitors come to St. Croix, they are often nervous about renting a car because here we drive on the left. Having driven in Scotland though, I had no problem adjusting. It is easy to remember which lane to be in because the driver is always closest to the side of the road, not the center. However, it can be nerve wracking for passengers because they are facing head-on traffic and are not in control of the vehicle. This can be especially scary around curves because for some reason, people here seem to forget about the center line on the road when taking a curve, and a passenger finds him or herself facing a car head-on in the middle of the road. My fellow blogger, Marie Patrick, had this to say when she came for a visit.

It’s been a couple months since I’ve returned from my vacation in paradise (ie. St Croix), but I’m still having a few flashbacks about driving on the “wrong” side of the road. Cars coming at me was a little hard for me to take, but you know, it only takes a day or so before you become used to it (and find yourself trying to drive on the “wrong” side at home).

My husband, bless him, saw the whole thing as an adventure. He LOVED driving on the wrong side of the road and did really well with it. Nope, didn’t seem to bother him at all and I think he rather enjoyed seeing the expression on my face when another car came too close (I couldn’t help myself). We had no mishaps (well, only one, where he went through a stop sign, but we forgive him for that) and if I’m not mistaken, he can’t wait to go back to St Croix and do it again!

See, not so bad. Actually, there are far more pluses than minuses to driving in St. Croix. First, people are generally polite, more so than on the mainland. Here, cars on the main roads will stop and let others enter the traffic flow from side roads and driveways.  In addition, people will stop the main traffic to allow a person to take a right turn (across traffic). Believe it or not, this actually makes traffic flow better.  Since the speed limits are between 30-40 miles an hour and there is only one lane of traffic in both directions (except on our one highway), slowing down to allow someone into traffic doesn't really hold up the flow.  And a quick toot on the horn tells drivers to "go ahead" and a return horn blow is "thank you."

While it may not seem like an advantage to be moving so slow, it actually is because it gives a driver the chance to avoid the potholes, and in some instances, a blown-out tire. It is generally accepted that drivers will drive on the grass or dirt on the side of the road to avoid potholes, or in many cases, into the oncoming lane of traffic.  However, this is done with caution, and on occasion it is necessary to stop before the traffic is clear so that the oncoming traffic lane can be used to avoid a pothole. This is tolerated by the drives behind because they don't want to hit the hole either. And besides, they are used to stopping on the road because if someone sees someone they know out in his or her yard, and it is not a main road, it is common for a driver to simply stop and yell out. On the main roads, however, a simple horn toot to say "hi" is acceptable because to not acknowledge someone is the epitome of rudeness, even if one is driving and the other is doing yard work.

The last advantage to the slow pace of the roads here is that it allows a driver to avoid killing animals, most often goats, dogs, and chickens.  Though in my case, there is one stretch that I am very careful on because I often come around a bend to find anywhere from 2 to 9 horses hanging out in the middle of the road. In fact, I like the slow pace so much, I tend to avoid the one highway we have here with two lanes on each side of the divider and a 55mph speed limit. It just seems too fast for this island girl and just because it is a highway doesn't mean it doesn't have potholes! Besides, the highway doesn't even cover half of this almost 30 miles-long island.

Lesson #4
While driving in St. Croix maybe a different experience, it is definitely an enjoyable and positive one. Having just returned from a trip to Phoenix, Arizona, I can honestly say, I much prefer driving here at on St. Croix :-)

True dat!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Guest Author Interview: Cynthia Racette

Today we are interviewing Cynthia Racette, who writes women's fiction with romantic elements. She is giving away two copies of her book WINDSWEPT.

Alexis: Hi Cynthia, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) Why did you decide to write women's fiction?

Cynthia: A woman's life consists of her entire family, kids and all and I think they should all be part of her story. Also, there are many dramatic romances that emerge after the wedding that make for great fiction. There are deaths, divorces, infidelities, emotional ennui and all kinds of things.

Alexis: Very true. I understand your debut novel, WINDSWEPT, just came out. Can you tell us a little about it?

Cynthia: WINDSWEPT is about a sailboat and the family that owns it. The boat has been part of their lives since the wedding and has been the scene of many happy family events and glorious sunny days. When the husband is unfaithful, the family is thrown into turmoil, with our heroine having to learn independence and the hero trying to come to grips with what he did. Other people and events conspire to impede their progress towards repairing their family but Mother Nature might have the final say.

Alexis: Oh, I like that :-) Where did you get the idea for this story?

Cynthia: My husband and I love sailing and I got the idea to create what is essentially an allegory around a sailboat. I wanted, too, to show that when something like unfaithfulness happens, both parties are at fault and both suffer. There's no good guy or bad guy.

Alexis: Really? Interesting. What are your favorite character traits of Caroline and David?

Cynthia: Caroline is very loving and very loyal to her family and that's why David's betrayal hurts her so much. David is very passionate and intelligent with strong scruples and that makes it difficult for him to reconcile his actions.

Alexis: They sound like a very realistic couple. 

Do you have a particular writing schedule you stay with or do you write when the muse strikes?

Cynthia: I generally write in the mornings and early afternoon but, if the muse taps me on the shoulder, I'll work through supper and bedtime.

Alexis: So what can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Cynthia: I have a WIP about a young family devastated when the father is killed in an accident. The young boy believes it's his fault the father is killed and his teenage sister acts out with shoplifting and drugs. The detective who arrests her becomes attracted to the young widow, which makes for conflict between her and her daughter.

Daughter: "I can't believe you're going out with him. It's his fault I got arrested."
Mother: "It wasn't his fault. It was your fault."

Alexis: Yes, that is good conflict.  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.

Cynthia: I enjoyed it Alexis. Thank you for having me. Kisses!

Alexis: For a chance to win WINDSWEPT, be sure to leave a comment for her. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS :-)

For more information on Cynthia’s books go to

Alexis: Check out this excerpt from WINDSWEPT.
             Windswept’s mainsail was up, and the jib was a clean, crisp white against the clear blue sky. Wind filled the canvas with a snap as the sails billowed. The boat immediately heeled over with the force of the wind and surged forward through the waves with barely-leashed power.
Reaching down to kill the engine, Caroline stood to savor her favorite moment in sailing- the first instant with only the sound of the wind and the waves and the feel of the boat under her feet, driven solely by the power of nature. She grinned at David and he smiled back, akin in the joy of that marvelous feeling of anticipation and accomplishment-- ready, more than ready, to spend another summer season sailing up and down the bay.
            Caroline handed the wheel over to David and wrapped her arms around the mast to savor the warm sun and deep blue sea. She loved Windswept more than she thought it was proper to love a possession. It was nearly indecent, her passion for it.
The boat had been part of the family for their entire married lives. The sailing bug had hit both of them unexpectedly after an excursion aboard a sailboat in the Caribbean. They’d decided immediately to buy the boat, and it seemed the perfect present to give each other for the wedding. It had taken every penny they had at the time, but it had been worth it. Over the years they’d spent every available minute of the summer on the boat, and it never seemed to get old.
            She sighed happily. She was happier out here than anywhere else in the world. And today, the first sailing day of a new season, was extra special. She stood by the mast for a while watching the water fly up from the bow of the boat and sweep past the side.  They’d spent hours getting her fiberglass glowing. The boat was aging now, though aging gracefully like a grand old damme.
When their fourteen-year-old daughter Lily raised her head briefly from her position sunbathing, Caroline winked at her and crept along the railing to join her. Caroline noticed that Lily’s figure in the bikini was getting almost voluptuous.  In the winter, with thick sweaters and coats to hide her curves, Caroline hadn’t noticed the drastic changes.
 Lily scooted over to give her some room. The breeze felt great brushing back her hair and the sun was hotter than it had been all spring. Caroline was beginning to feel over-warm in her Georgetown sweatshirt. Caroline and Lily stared at the white spray without speaking for a long time, then Caroline nudged her daughter with her shoulder. “Long winter, huh?” Lily had, in many ways, been raised on the boat and she could sail it with the best of them. Caroline had many fond memories of Lily as a toddler on her father’s lap, already learning about how to read the wind. There were images in her head of her as a eight or nine year old, running along the top of the deck and leaping off onto the dock without a thought of danger. She could remember Lily as an eleven year old begging to be allowed to keep the helm as the wind rose higher and higher. It often reached a point that made Caroline’s heart hammer with alarm at letting the whisper-thin preteen to steer through a five foot waves. Lily had done it though, albeit with her father close by.
            “Oh yeah,” said Lily. “I’m glad I decided to go today. I can write up results tomorrow.”
            “You’ve got lots of time before the Science Fair.”
            “Yeah, but there’s still a lot to do.”
            “You’ll get it done.”
“And how many days like this will we have to go out on the Chesapeake before it gets too hot? I’ve been chomping at the bit for weeks.”
            “You’re telling me,” said Lily, rolling her eyes. “You guys have been at the marina since St. Patty’s Day polishing everything. I’m just glad I got out of it this year. I mean, I love this tub and all, but I have a lot of things going on now at school with Science Club and orchestra and all.”
Caroline let the sarcastic reference go because she knew Lily loved Windswept too and there was a tiny grin at the corner of her lips when she said it.  “It was worth it, wasn’t it? Today?”
Caroline felt Lily nod against her arm, with a murmured “Oh, yeah.”
She put her arm around Lily and they leaned together, gazing raptly at the water as it hypnotized their senses- rushing, always rushing in a sheet of white foam past the bow.
            Caroline ran her fingers through her daughter’s long, silky hair. “Needs cutting.”
            “No, please,” Lily pleaded. “I like it this way.”
            “Last time I knew, you thought long hair was too much of a bother. When did you change your mind?”
            “Guys like long hair.”
            “Oh, really?”
            “No! It’s not like that. There’s no one special.” Lily reddened. “The only stuff I’m interested in at the moment is finishing my science project. But it doesn’t hurt to... well... you know.”
            Caroline laughed. “Sure. I know. Keep all your options open. Be ready just in case?”
            “Sort of. “
            “OK, you can leave it long. But we’ll get you a trim-- just for the split ends.”
            “OK, Mom. You’d better get on back. Dad’s looking impatient.”
            David, his white windbreaker tied now around his waist in the late afternoon sun, puttered around the cockpit. He was tall, and his light brown hair was windblown after the spirited beat upwind. But he seemed to be trying to keep from looking at Caroline.
Caroline tried to catch his eye but his tinkering today seemed distracted. He was uncharacteristically silent. Whenever she was not at the helm when they sailed, she relaxed and watched the water and the sky and the sails. David, however, kept up a never-ending ritual of adjusting sails and halyards.  He was a perfectionist with the details on the boat. Today, though, it was more than that. He wasn’t being a perfectionist. He was avoiding her.

Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to win a copy of this book, be sure to leave Cynthia a comment :-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: TO WED A WILD LORD by Sabrina Jeffries

Sabrina Jeffries gives her readers a Regency-set plot overflowing with conflict in the form of two murders, inheritance requirements, and deadly horse races.

Two high-strung protagonists as the Lord and Lady of the story make for an unlikely couple until their true natures are discovered.  Lord Gabriel Sharpe, better known as The Angel of Death, needs a wife to gain his inheritance.  He has only a year to find her, yet he picks the stubborn and defiant Miss Virginia Waverly.

Virginia abhors Gabe as she considers him to be the person responsible for her brother’s death. That is until he kisses her and she can’t resist the temptation of his luscious lips.

Jeffries can write a kiss as if it were making love, yet Virginia remains wary of Gabe’s involvement in her sibling’s passing.  To overcome her dilemma, wanting him but leery, she proposes to race him on a deadly course. 

If she wins, Gabe must tell her the truth about her brother’s death.  If he wins, Virginia will allow him to court her.

If only one can win the race, how can Gabe and Virginia cross the finish line together?  The novel will speed you through the challenges of the heart entwined with family honor right to the end.    


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest Author Interview: Anne Kemp

Today we are interviewing Anne Kemp, women's fiction author, who is giving away one of her books.

Alexis: Hi Anne, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) You just had your first novella debut last month, ALL FRUITS RIPE. Can you tell us a little about it?

Anne: Sure! It’s the prequel or mini-novella that introduces readers to the character, Abby George. It’s a fun 30 page teaser giving you a sneak peek at her world in LA, just after being laid-off and right when she’s given an offer to relocate to the Caribbean. 

Alexis: Living in the Caribbean myself, I'm sure I know what her decision was :-) And already you have the next in your series coming out this coming week. How exciting! You already know I love your setting. So what is RUM PUNCH REGRETS about?

Anne: RUM PUNCH REGRETS is about what happens to one LA woman when laid-off and offered the chance of a lifetime. It’s about discovering family secrets, while discovering oneself, coming to terms with your siblings and who they are…and about falling in love again!

Alexis: Where did you get the idea for this story?

Anne: Funny enough, - well, now it’s funny - I was laid-off like many others in 2008, right before Christmas. It felt like the world around me had collapsed. My ego was bruised and I was still smarting from the news when I was offered the chance to take off to St. Kitts. How do you say no to an opportunity like that?

Alexis: You don't :-) So this idea came straight from your life. That is wild. What is your favorite character trait of Abby?

Anne: I really wanted her to be relatable and early feedback showed me I hit the nail on the head :-) I love her so much. She’s fun, fun , FUN to hang out with!

Alexis: I like fun people and I'm guessing that you are fun too :-) You are also an award winning blogger. What made you decide to write women's fiction?

Anne: I’ve always wanted to write a book so I finally made myself do it. Plus being laid-off….kinda of gave this gal a little incentive.

Alexis: And a little time, right? What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Anne:  I’m blessed that I get to write a whole series about Abby George! I’m currently working on the next novella to be released in early fall and the second full-length novel. Each book takes you a little deeper into Abby’s Caribbean world – and it’s going to be a bit adventurous!

Alexis: How fun. Every day here in the Caribbean is an adventure, so I'm sure your books will be very entertaining :-) Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.

Anne:  Thank you for having me – it’s truly and honor.

Alexis: For a chance to win one of Anne's books, be sure to leave a comment for her. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS :-)

For more information on Anne’s books go to

Anne Kemp is the author of the Abby George Series, which includes her debut novella, All Fruits Ripe, and first novel, Rum Punch Regrets. She is also the columnist behind “Anne In Progress,” which appears monthly in the Frederick News-Post, a newspaper in the DC-Metro area. As a blogger, she is known for penning “Life My Way” and “The Ultimate Late Bloomer.”
Her original and honest sense of humor used in her columns and blogs earned her a Bloggers Choice Nomination for Best Humor Blog in 2010.

Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to win one of Anne's books, leave her a comment :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Desert Dreams Conference Experience

At the end of April, I spent the weekend at the lovely Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale, Arizona, attending the Desert Dreams conference….and my brain is still full. What a lovely weekend! The weather was perfect and I was able to connect with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  
I also had the opportunity to attend some fabulous workshops given by some of my favorite authors (which is why my brain is full). Such marvelous writers, so willing to impart their knowledge, so generous in their time and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them! 

Elizabeth Hoyt is a hoot! Funny, sweet and charming. Brenda Novak is not only fabulous and wise,  but lovely as well. I met Terri Brisbin (a New Jersey girl like myself) and I’m happy to report, she is kindness itself.
I had promised myself that I wouldn’t go crazy during the author book signing, but truthfully, I wasn’t able to help myself. Meeting these authors after having read their novels was such a treat. I couldn’t help purchasing more of their books and having them signed (and yes, I will be hiding the credit card statement when it comes in)!
As I said, my brain is full and I am slowly disseminating all the information, however, that hasn’t stopped me from reading and I’m happy to say, my TBR pile is shrinking. Whooo-hoooo!

As always, happy reading,

For photos and more on the 2012 Desert Dreams Conference check out these links :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Guest Author Interview: Cate Masters

Today we are interviewing Cate Masters, paranormal romance author, who is giving away a copy of THE MAGIC OF LAVENDER.

Alexis: Hi Cate, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) You have a series called The Goddess Connection. I love the name and the ties to Greek Mythology. What is this series about?

Cate: Hi Alexis! Thanks so much for having me at Happily Ever After Thoughts! I’ve always loved mythology, too, and I love tying it to present day with an urban fantasy feel. The premise of The Goddess Connection series is: Every woman should embrace her inner goddess. What’s your connection?  I now have finished two, with several more novels in this series in mind to follow. In each, the heroine will be somehow connected to a goddess. Her lifelong quirks will become strengths once she finds her true place in the world, and accepts herself for who she really is.

But we don’t actually need to be related to a goddess to celebrate our unique powers. We all deserve to be treated like goddesses, don’t we? :)  

THE MAGIC OF LAVENDER launched the series, and I’m thrilled that it’s received wonderful reviews and was a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick. You can view the book video, read the reviews, an excerpt and the first chapter on my blog:
Alexis: The premise is perfect! Of course, we should all be treated like goddesses, but I have a feeling that includes having certain responsibilities as well :-} Now the second book in the series, DANCING WITH THE DEVIL, was recently released. Can you tell our readers a little about it?

Cate: The myth of Persephone and Hades always intrigued me. Hades is the worst villain of all, yet somehow he won Persephone’s heart, which meant he had to have some redeeming qualities. I wanted to explore that a bit, and tie my heroine, Lily, to the goddess Persephone.

Here’s the blurb:

Lily MacInnis has the luck of the Irish – against her. All her life, she never could catch a break. But now, something’s about to catch her, and dump her suitcase of secrets on the floor. Some secrets, even Lily hadn’t known. Like her father’s an angel, and her mother escaped from Hell. Literally. And now Hades and Persephone – her grandparents – want her to return to the Underworld. Lily is The Destined One, promised to Zeveriah, Archduke of Section Six, and Hades’ up and coming CFO.

Not in Lily’s plans – she’s fallen for Bodie, the Ruling Angel of the Sixth Heaven.

Bodie can’t let Lily fulfill that destiny. But will Bodie risk losing everything to keep his promise to ensure Lily stays safe?

Part goddess, part angel, part demon, can Lily summon the powers she never knew she had to free herself and make her own destiny?

Alexis: Wow, where did you get the idea for this story?

Cate: This is an example of how story ideas can come in strange ways, lol. My sisters had visited Ireland and brought me back a keychain explaining the origin of my hubby’s last name. According to the keychain, it literally meant “descendant of angels.” (I already knew that, lol) So Lily’s last name is the Irish version. I thought it would be interesting for Lily to have Persephone and Hades as grandparents, but an angel for her father, making her torn between two worlds. 

Alexis: That's a great idea! I love that it started with a keychain :-) What are your favorite character traits of Lily and Bodie?

Cate: Lily’s goddess material but doesn’t recognize it until the situation puts her to the test, and then, of course, she shows her true strengths. 

Bodie’s an angel – what’s not to like? :) He falls in love with Lily and risks everything for her. True hero material.

Stories usually play like movies in my head while I write, providing a strong image of the characters, and a few years ago I started a blog series called Casting Call. I’d love for you to check out DANCING WITH THE DEVIL'S Casting Call:
Another blog series, Story Elements, is linked here, along with reviews and more:
Alexis: Very interesting. You also write contemporary romances. How do you decide which type of romance to write next? Do you prefer one over the other?

Cate: Ideas will grab me, and if they’re strong enough, I’ll follow through. I also write historical, women’s fiction, and mainstream stories. For me, it’s less about genre than just telling a great story.

Alexis: I completely understand that.  You are a very busy lady. What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?

Cate: The WIP list is neverending! Decadent Publishing will soon release another fun paranormal novella based on mythology, DEATH IS A BITCH. A ghost story, In the Midnight Hour, is now finished, and I took a break from romance with a series of interrelated literary short stories called Wild Life. I’m working on another paranormal novella now and after that will start on the next Goddess Connection story, based on an Egyptian goddess.

Alexis: It sounds like your readers have a lot to look forward to :-) Thank you so much for sharing your magical stories with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.

Cate: Thanks so much for having me, Alexis! I’m always happy to share my stories. :)

Alexis: For a chance to win the first book in The Goddess Connection series, THE MAGIC OF LAVENDER, be sure to leave a comment for Cate. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS :-)

For more information on Cate’s romances go to
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from DANCING WITH THE DEVIL

What had he done? By all that was sacred, Bodie knew better than to lie with her. Since the first night he’d spoken to her, he’d had trouble restraining himself. Her every movement, every word, seared into him at his greatest depth, filled him with yearning for something forbidden.

Her lips moving against his unleashed emotions that had stayed dormant for millennia. He was in it, deep. Already he spiraled out of control, and he hadn’t allowed himself to move, not even a finger. Not a slide of his lips, not a slip of his tongue into what must be a warm, tantalizing place. Once he did, that one tiny step would trigger an avalanche of desire, already building with volcano force.

To clear such thoughts from his mind, he turned his head to break away. Never should have closed his eyes; it only intensified the tactile senses. The fluttering of her breath as she followed, her kisses now moving up his neck, her fingers splayed lightly against his cheek as her mouth found the edge of his mouth.

“I can’t, Lily,” he rasped.

Her knee grazed his thigh as she straddled him. “Are you sure?”

A shudder wracked his body, and he clenched the cushions to keep from reaching for her. “I don’t mean it’s a physical impossibility. And I’d love to, believe me. But it’s not exactly condoned by my superiors.”

She sat up. “They’re not here. They can’t see us, can they?”

He risked a look at her. A mistake. Tawny hair framed her heart-shaped face in tumbling waves. He locked the muscles in his rising arm and forced it down before he could touch her.

A teasing smile lit her face. He hadn’t needed to answer her. She lifted the bottom of her shirt up and over her head, revealing a black lace bra, lush dark peach rosettes pebbled beneath.

Her warm hand closed around his, and drew it upward to press against her breast and hold it there.

Everything in him screamed No! and Yes! at the same time. With an animal sound, his torso rushed up to meet hers. Somehow he stayed his desire. Lips barely brushing hers, he drew back enough that her breath flowed into his mouth as he spoke. “They’ll reassign me, Lily. I’d love to make love to you. I’ve wanted to for longer than you know. But I don’t want one night to have to last an eternity as a memory. We’d have tonight. Then I’d never see you again. Is that what you want? Tell me now. Quickly.”

Sadness tightened her lips. “No.”

As she curled into him, her muffled words soothed the tension threatening to burst through his skin. “I want to be with you, Bodie. Hold me.”

His body quivered, whether from denial or relief, he couldn’t say. He relaxed into her embrace and closed his eyes. “Always.” If only he could keep her here, safe from their reach.

But how safe was she from him? 

He couldn’t let his feelings for her compromise the mission.

With a sharp intake of breath, she pulled away. “I’m not like this. I don’t seduce men. I haven’t even…” Hair hid her face when she dipped her chin to her chest.

He tilted his head to catch her attention. “I know.” It won him a tentative glance. “You don’t need to explain, Lily. Ever.” He knew she’d let men touch her, a few with whom she’d been infatuated, maybe even loved. None had taken her virginity.

Yet she’d offered it to him. Tenderness washed over him as she searched his face, wary and confused. Distrustful. How terrible for her, not to believe herself worthy of complete love and devotion. The same worship any goddess deserved. Someday he’d prove to her she was a true goddess.

Alexis: Don't forget, for a chance to win the first book in this series, THE MAGIC OF LAVENDER, leave a comment for Cate :-)