Thursday, March 31, 2022

It's a cat's life by Priscilla Brown


for mechanic Billie, fixing cars is easier than perking up her love life

In my childhood home, we had a much-loved ginger cat who thought he ruled his people. We bought him as a kitten from a farm where we had gone to buy eggs. My sister, then aged about five, noticed a cat and kittens. She insisted she wanted a kitten, and refused to get back into the car until our parents gave in, probably embarrassed by her temper tantrum. The farm was only too pleased to give us a ginger tom, weaned but not house-trained. This task was beyond a five year old, so it fell to me and our mother, Luckily for us, the animal learned quickly, and in spite of our parents' misgivings, this smart puss settled into a routine.

When all the family went out together, on return we always found him sitting on the roof of our single-storey house. I  imagined him looking up and down the street, waiting for us.As soon as we arrived, he would jump off the roof onto the garden wall and then onto the driveway, circling our legs and purring, as if telling us how pleased he was that we were home.  At the back of my writing mind, I always had the thought that one day I would put him into a story. As I drafted Billie's contemporary romance, she told me she wanted a cat, so I gave her my fictional ginger tom. The inclusion of this feisty feline who purrs with most humans but spits at any who are not nice to his owner rounds out the household of only herself and teenager Tim.

As an adult, I've never owned a pet. I like to claim part ownership of two cats belonging to friends. One friend's large super-friendly tabby will give up his place on the sofa under a sunny window if I let him settle on my lap. In contrast, the other is a snooty white female who possibly dreams of catching birds as she sits on the windowsill, and whose only interest in people is where the food comes from since eating birds is forbidden.

Best wishes, Priscilla


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Where There's a Will by Eden Monroe



Click this link to Purchase Dare to Inherit

 Drawing up your last will and testament is a considerate thing to do for the loved ones you leave behind, relieving them of the stress, work, and cost of seeing to the legal distribution of your estate should you die without the proper documentation in place.

Having your will prepared is pretty straightforward, although it can sometimes be difficult to decide exactly who gets what. Sometimes testators have more than one go at it, updating their will to reflect a new circumstance in their life, or as is often the case, taking into consideration who has most recently angered or disappointed them, and making changes accordingly.

Some choose to be creative, setting out unusual bequests in their will, which may or may not be easy to honour, although most formal instructions are made with the best of intentions. Nevertheless whether acting out of malice or kindness, lives can indeed be changed with surprises found in a will, and Aunt Feenie’s will in Dare To Inherit certainly accomplished that. The biggest surprise for her beneficiaries was that she had millions of dollars squirreled away, but her conditions for inheritance were perhaps the most shocking of all. And in true Aunt Feenie style, her wishes were made known by way of a pre-taped video:

         “I know you girls always thought I was unnecessarily harsh with you, so why should anything change now? So here’s the catch,” she said, her lips pulled back in an off-putting Cheshire cat smile. “Both of you must do exactly as I say, and the money is yours. Don’t, and you’ll continue to struggle.”

Good intentions aside, some very famous wills have bordered on the ridiculous, especially when there was no love lost between the deceased and their beneficiaries. A husband in one such will in 1856 left his entire estate to his wife, stipulating that she must remarry in order to inherit because he wanted “at least one man to regret my death.”

And speaking of unusual bequests, how about the Portuguese aristocrat who left his wealth to seventy strangers picked at random from the Lisbon telephone directory? The terms of the will were followed, and those seventy lucky people stood to be made wealthy from someone they had never met. If ever there was a phone call you’d like to receive….

Mrs. William Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway, was left her husband’s “second-best bed” when he died, while their daughter, Susanna, fared much better in the will.

Billionaire hotelier, Leona Helmsley, sometimes called the “Queen of Mean”, left most of her fortune to her dog, Trouble, who was eventually laid to rest by her side in the family mausoleum. However, a judge later decided that Two million dollars was enough to maintain a lavish lifestyle for the tiny white Maltese, instead of the Twelve million dollars originally left to him in the will.

Chemist Fred Baur created the Pringles potato chips can and stacking method, and his will specified that he was to be cremated and packaged, just like his potato chips, before being buried. His interment wishes were honoured; part of his ashes placed in a Pringles container, the remainder in urns.

Among the bequests in Napoleon Bonaparte’s last will and testament was that his head be shaved post-mortem, and his hair given to family and friends. No record exists however as to whether his executor did as Napoleon had asked.

Not everyone can make peace with what’s been set out in a will and indeed wills can be successfully challenged, although it can be a lengthy and expensive proposition to do so. It all depends how important it is to go that route, in other words, what’s up for grabs? Like any litigation, proceedings could be hostile, and an outrageous will can create enemies, and at the very least, cause fierce opposition among the beneficiaries. Most often it is directed against the deceased.

In Dare To Inherit, Aunt Feenie, was immovable:

“’Now I’ve said my piece. Jocelyn and Chloe, the clock is ticking. Do as I ask, both of you, if you want to be independently wealthy. If you fail, the money will be left to my church. Willow, the best of luck to you my dear, both now and in the future - with your wonderful husband,” she finished acidly.’”

At the end of the day the deceased can attempt to correct real or imagined wrongs in this life by way of their last will and testament, but because some wills can indeed be declared invalid, a letter of wishes might be an alternative, although while that document can be taken into account and used as guidance, and in practice is usually followed, it is non-legally binding unless it is actually part of the will. In other cases, the deceased’s wishes are very happily complied with, such as one of the terms of Jack Benny’s will.

“Every day since Jack has gone the florist has delivered one long-stemmed red rose to my home,” his widow Mary Livingstone wrote in a magazine, shortly after the beloved comedian’s death. “I learned Jack actually had included a provision for the flowers in his will. One red rose to be delivered to me every day for the rest of my life.”



Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Hamilton's forbidden flame, Angelica


Purchase links for all Juliet Waldron's book available at

Angelica Schuyler ("Engeltke") named for her grandmother, as was Dutch custom,was born on February 22, 1756, probably at the home of her grandparents, the fine house called Rensselearwyck. Her parents, Catherine van Rensselear and Philip Schuyler, had been married during the alarms of the French & Indian War the previous year, on September 17th, 1755. Albany was, in those days, another semi-rural village in the upper Hudson Valley, hanging precariously on the edge of the wild frontier. The French and their powerful Indian allies had been on their doorstep many times before and now were menacing the English/Dutch settlements once more. 

The marriage was noted in the family Bible, just nine days after the Battle of Lake St. George where Philip Schuyler was a Captain and aide to General Bradstreet. If you do the math, you will see that  the young Captain had been summoned back from the army by his soon-to-be father-in-law. Catherine, the "Evening Star" of Albany (per the eligible bachelors of the valley) was a famous belle in her day but her flirtatious days were now over. Her first born daughter would grow up to be an even more famous coquette--on three continents.

Angelica seems to have been her father's favorite, a real sparkler right from the start. In her early teens (14) she was sent with her parents' good friends, New York British Governor Moore and his charming wife Lucy, for an extended stay. In New York, she apparently absorbed ideas about status, and for her the word "Colonial" now carried a cruel sting. I believe this was where she made up her mind to marry an English aristocrat, instead of one of her land-wealthy, but less sophisticated Hudson Valley cousins, the expected course for a Patroon's daughter. When Angelica returned home at last, she arrived in Albany with a music master and a harpsichord. She alone of the daughters was sent to what was then an  innovation among the Dutch--a boarding school to learn French, and the other courtly graces. Nothing was too good for General Schuyler's bright, pert eldest daughter. 

“Carter and my eldest daughter ran off and were married on the 23, July,” (1779) Unacquainted with his family connections and situation in life that matter was exceeding disagreeable and I signified it to them.” Phillip Schuyler to his friend, William Duer.  

This “Carter” was actually John Barker Church—after the war, when news came that the man he’d supposedly killed in a duel was still alive and well--he would resume his proper name. The cause of his flight from England was probably far less glamorous, for Church was bankrupt and a well-known gambler, an unpromising history that Philip Schuyler may have known.

Carter became commissary supplier to Admiral Rochambeau and General Jeremiah Wadsworth during the Revolution. Commissary was a fast way to accumulate a large fortune, as sub rosa skimming and was the norm. His war-profiteering accumulated a large fortune. Eventually, with plenty of money in his pocket, he would become a member of parliament and live in England in lavish style, owning a country home as well as a fashionable house in London.    

At this time, however, the family was still in America, and the Revolution raged in the Hudson Valley. 

"Mrs. Church is delivered of a fine boy. I hope her sister will give me another.” Philip Schuyler to his son-in-law, Alexander Hamilton September, 1778, soon after the Battle of Yorktown.

Angelica gave birth to her first born at The Pastures, the Schuyler home. A few months later came the famous Tory and Indian attack upon the house—Angelica & four month old Philip were present, as well as a pregnant Betsy Hamilton and the girls' new born sister, Kitty, and the rest of the children of this large family. 

                                        Angelica Church, baby and maid by John Trumbull

The Marquis de Chastelux remarked after the war: "Mrs. Carter, a handsome woman told me that going down to her husband's office (the commissary at Newport) in rather elegant undress, a farmer who was there on business asked who the young lady was. On being told that it was Mrs. Carter, he said, loud enough for her to hear, 'A wife and a mother has no business to be so well-dressed.'"  The farmer had mistaken her, because of her "immodest" dress, for some dandy's mistress. 

Angelica loved clothes, hats, and the latest fashions. She must have reveled after her marriage to John Church in freedom from the frugality of Dutch tradition, where three good dresses were "more than enough" for any respectable woman. 

These next letters were written when Angelica and Church departed from America in 1789. It would be  1797 that they would finally return.
November 8, 1789, Angelica Church to Alexander Hamilton:

      "I am not much disposed for gaiety- yet I endeavor to make myself tolerable to my fellow passengers…Do my dear Brother endeavor to sooth my poor Betsey, comfort her with assurances that I will certainly return to take care of her soon. Remember this also my dearest Brother and let neither politics or ambition drive your Angelica from your affections. ..Adieu my dear Brother, may God bless and protect you, prays your ever affectionate Angelica, ever ever yours.” 

And here is Hamilton's reply: 

    “After taking leave of you on board of the Packet, I hastened home to sooth and console your sister. I found her in bitter distress…After composing her with a strong infusion of hope, that she had not taken her last farewell of you…The Baron little Philip and myself with her consent, walked down to the Battery; where with aching hearts and anxious eyes we saw your vessel, in full sail, swiftly bearing our loved friend from our embraces. Imagine what we felt. We gazed, we signed, we wept…”

    “Amiable Angelica! How much you are formed to endear yourself to every good heart! How deeply you have rooted youself in the affection of your friends on this side of the Atlantic! Some of us are and must continue inconsolable for your absence.

    Betsey and myself make you the last theme of our conversation at night and the first in the morning. We dwell with peculiar interest on the little incidents that preceded your departure. Precious and never to be forgotten scenes! ...However difficult, or little natural it is to me to suppress what the fullness of my heart would utter, the sacrifice shall be made…”

From Betsey: 

“My Very Dear Beloved Angelica—I have seated myself to write to you, but my heart is so saddened by your Absence that it can scarcely dictate, my Eyes so filled with tears that I shall not be to write you much but Remember, Remember, my dear sister of the Assurances of your returning to us, and do all you can to make your Absence short. Tell Mr. Church for me of the happiness he will give me, in bringing you to me, not to me alone, but to fond parents sisters friends and to my Hamilton who has for you all the Affection of a fond own Brother. I can do no more. Adieu Adieu Heaven Protect you.”       

When she and her husband returned from their first sojourn in London, Angelica loved to shock the City with the latest novelties in style. Walter Rutherford, detailing one of her dinner parties, speaks of "a late abominable fashion from London, of Ladies like Washerwomen with their sleeves above their elbows, Mrs. Church among them."  

She and Hamilton continually played seductive word games when they wrote. It is notable that Hamilton wrote so much to Angelica about his work during the hectic time when he was America's first Secretary of the Treasury, attempting to set the wheels of public finance successfully turning. You may make of their affection what you will, although there were rumors about this glamorous pair were rampant in the circles of his political enemies--and finally in scurrilous pamphlets--for years. 

Two of Hamilton's biographers, (James Flexner and Robert Hendrickson) seem to believe Hamilton and his sister-in-law consummated their passion. How unlikely this was--betrayal between affectionate sisters, especially in the Schuyler's closely bonded family--is persuasively argued by Ron Chernow. Infidelity between those two would have been an explosive, corroding secret that it would have been nearly impossible to keep.

18th Century conventional morality ran in two very separate tracks--one for men and one for women-- even for beautiful, worldly, sophisticated women like Angelica. She may have been a kind of danger junkie, leading on so many powerful men, but, playing this game, she could wield far more power over these hopeful lovers than their wives ever could, forever promising, but never quite surrendering.  No one mentions John Church's affinity for dueling as an aspect of their reticence, but his handsome matched set of pistols were employed by many fool-hardy gentlemen. They would finally put an end to the gallant Hamilton himself. 

 Eight years after the tearful departure, Angelica would return to America, just as Hamilton resigned from his heroic stint as Secretary of the Treasury. By this time, despite all those confiding, flirtatious letters that had traveled back and forth across the ocean, she seems to have become anxious about her continuing hold upon Hamilton's affections. As the Church's attorney, Hamilton found himself responsible for purchasing their new home in New York.  In February of that year, she wrote a rather spiteful letter to him. He had enclosed "no plan of the lot and no description of the house. How can I bring out the furniture when I do not know the number of rooms my house contains...?"

She goes on: "I am sensible how much trouble I give you, but proceeded from a persuasion that I was asking from one who promised me his love and attention if returned to America... for what do I exchange ease and taste, by going to the new world...?" 

To which he could only reply that he and Eliza were "strangely agitated between fear and hope, anxiously wishing for your return...We feast on your letters..The only rivalship we have is in our attachment to you and we each contend for preeminence in this particular...To whom will you give the apple?...Yours as much as you desire, A.H."

This hot and heavy signature, like so much of their correspondence, teeters on the edge of impropriety. This same tone is a constant in their letters until Hamilton took himself permanently out of the game on that ledge at Weehawken. He, however, was not the only important man to be enchanted by her.

Benjamin Franklin adored her. Thomas Jefferson seems to have had designs upon her during a time in France when he was the U.S. Minister to the French Court and she was present, sometimes without her husband. In 1788 Jefferson even invited her to come and stay with him at Monticello when they both returned to America. He further suggested that they could travel together, perhaps to Niagara Falls. 

Angelica's apparently relaxed views on "extra-marital escapades,"*(1.) invited these advances from Jefferson. She had previously acted as a go-between for the painter's wife, Mrs. Cosway, herself an artist and a particular friend of Angelica's, who was enamored of the famous author of the Declaration of Independence. Mrs. Cosway became Jefferson's mistress and so close were these three that Jefferson's own copy of The Federalist bears the "surprising dedication"*(2.) 'For Mrs. Church from her Sister, Elizabeth Hamilton.'

In Paris, Angelica was presented to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and invited into all the highest Enlightenment circles, as well as maintaining her own very active salon. Later, in England, Angelica once more bedazzled all who met her. Here she was presented to George IV and Queen Charlotte.  After this triumph, as in France, all the finest salons opened to her and to her wealthy husband. 

Insurance in those days was a private legal arrangement between gentlemen, although there was always a high risk of ruin for one or the other parties to the deal, especially if a ship laden with cargo went to the bottom. John Church seems to have (at least partly) shifted his love of gambling into this side of the business world, although he remained famous for his love of night-long, high-stakes card games. He certainly provided Angelica with the glamorous wider world of which she'd dreamed as a girl, as well as all the glittering parties, clothes and jewels anyone could need. When the family returned to New York in the late 1790's their parties were soon the talk of the town, as were her diamonds and the solid silver plate upon which she served dinner guests. Angelica was definitely a "material girl."

Whatever Angelica and Alexander may have sometimes fantasied, I believe that Hamilton married the right sister. Elizabeth was faithful, loyal, a frugal manager, and a loving mother. She was exactly what a self-absorbed genius required in a wife, a woman who, no matter what happens, always "stands by her man."  Angelica and Hamilton, on the other hand, were too much alike. She was as high-maintenance as he. Far better suited to her was Church, who could provided the travel, the luxury, and the free rein that she craved.  She couldn't have her cake and eat it too and it was better for all concerned that it turned out that way.

At the end, though, Angelica came home to America. She is buried in Trinity Churchyard, near the graves of Alexander, Elizabeth and their oldest son, Philip. Her husband, John Church, is buried far across the sea in Westminister Abbey.

~~Juliet Waldron

*1. Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, page 315

*2. Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, page 315

For a colorful account of Jefferson in Paris, see the 1995 Merchant-Ivory movie of the same name.    

Monday, March 28, 2022

It's National Black Forest Cake Day--Let's Celebrate! By Connie Vines #BlackForestCake, #ChocolateLovers, #TheRomanceofChocolate, #BWLPublishing

March 28th is National Black Forest Cake Day!!

Chocolate = Romance ๐Ÿ’

If there’s one thing that we (Chocolate Lovers) are absolute suckers for, it is a black forest cake, and you bet we are super excited when March 28 rolls around and we get to celebrate National Black Forest Day. 


1. The absolute beauty of the cake deserves its own accolades: chocolate shavings accompanied with maraschino cherries and white cream! 

2. And the taste...  Did you know that the cake was originally a simple dessert consisting of cream, cherries, chocolate, and alcohol? 

Created Connie Vines @Canva


There are many conflicting historical reports about the exact origins of the black forest cake. Some historical scholars believe that the cake originated in the 16th century in a German town called Baden-Wurttemberg. 

๐ŸŽ‚The time and place, famous for its Romantic era, was also one of the first places where chocolate was added to cakes. Baden-Wurttemberg was also renowned for its sour cherries and kirschwasser (cherry brandy). 

 ๐ŸฝHowever, the cake did become popular (main-stream) around the 1930s. 

๐Ÿ“… Today, the cake is enjoyed in many parts of the world with slight variations. The American version does not have any alcohol in it. Still, an authentic black forest cake must have alcohol in it to even be considered a black forest cake in places like Austria and Germany.

Connie's creation via Canva

Why is chocolate considered romantic?

Chocolate has been considered aphrodisiac food since the time of Aztecs. Chocolate is said to contain a substance that inflames desire and makes the beloved one more open to romance. In the olden days, this resulted in the tradition in European royalty to give their lovers chocolates mixed with amber to stimulate their love.

Happy National Black Forest Cake Day, everyone!

Remember to download my latest release: Gumbo Ya Ya. (4 stories featuring 4 independent Cinderellas and 4 reluctant Heroes!).

To tie in with today's post--one story in my anthology: A Slice of Scandal, takes place during the filming of a network cooking show. Oooh, La La. That Cajun man sure knows how to steam up a kitchen!

4 stories in one anthology:

Click on the book cover to take you to the purchase zone!



Find me here:

both locations have links to my social media sites 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Strong heroines, Brave heroes, Romance with a kick - by Vijaya Schartz

" exceptional tale that belongs in a place of honor on keeper shelves everywhere." Johnna Flores - Coffee Time Romance - 5-cups

Readers of Sci-fi romance expect a good science fiction novel as well as an engaging love story. Some of them also expect love scenes. I sometimes struggle to deliver the latter. As I get older, I tend to focus more on the slow-evolving romance, based on true and lasting feelings rather than lust. 

 Although many of my novels have love scenes, most of these scenes happen later in the story and are not graphic. Some readers want more of it, while other readers, are perfectly happy with a love story that never makes it to the bedroom, at least on the page. 

RELICS is an intense thrill ride of a futuristic romance; I highly recommend it." - Paranormal Romance - " intriguing romance... all the staples of a good science fiction story." Romantic Times - " ...will keep you captivated from beginning to end." 5 hearts Love Romances - "I consider this to be among the best reads of the year!" Fallen Angel Reviews - 5 angels

 But let’s face it, I am an action junkie. So, in my novels, you can expect a lot of action and adventure, space adventure, plot twists, evil villains, some paranormal elements, and a clean romance, with a happily ever after ending that will leave you satisfied.

 In the sweet sci-fi romance category, you’ll find these titles of mine, also suited for a teen audience.

The Byzantium Space Station series are sweet and only include kisses
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

"I love this one by Vijaya Schartz. As always, her action-packed, well-plotted out prose kept me glued to the pages of Black Dragon from start to finish." TwoLips Reviews 5-kisses review and a RECOMMENDED READ

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Transportation and how it has changed through the decades—Tricia McGill


Find this and all my books here on my Author page

Here I am again deep into research about certain aspects of the 1800s, especially Australia in the 1860s, and because of seeking a particular type of horse-drawn vehicle I became engrossed by the differing means of transport throughout the years and how it has changed. I grew up in North London, so our travelling from one destination to another was by the underground (what we called the ‘Tube’) or a good old double decker bus. I regularly used the underground and to this

day in my dreams where I often seem to be lost, I follow my mother’s advice
and search for the nearest tube station to find my way home. People who study the meaning of dreams no doubt have an explanation for that, but that’s something for another day.

In Book One of my Settlers Series, Mystic Mountains, I had my characters making the horrendous journey from Sydney to Bathurst in 1823 across what became known as the Blue Mountains, a journey that would take weeks instead of hours as today. At that time bullocks pulled the drays carrying the settlers’ belongings as well as the wool bales among other things. Of course horses went along on this journey, but the oxen were more sure-footed and reliable across rocky and unsafe territory.  

Horses pulled the various types of carriage, whether it be a two wheeled cart or a four wheeled carriage. The mail was delivered between colonies first by a horse rider and later by the mail coach, perhaps sometimes more reliable than the current postal deliveries. A man who was a’ courting would likely drive a one-horse jig or cart, its rate of splendidness depending on the owners standing in the society.

My mother was born before 1900 so would recall the horse drawn buses in London. I often wonder how she would cope with the traffic in this modern day and age. I find it depressing at times. Everyone is in such a hurry as they rush around in their huge four-wheel-drive vehicles which would have certainly made life a lot easier for the early settlers as they set out across unchartered territory. She hated motorbikes and it worked out that two of my early boyfriends owned one. Her warning as I left home to go jaunting with them was to ensure they did not speed while I was riding pillion.

I think I would have probably been better suited to those far off days, or perhaps not. No running water—especially hot when needed, would not sit well with me, or no proper sewerage system. But I could certainly cope with the idea of riding or driving a small buggy to the nearest store. In this current climate with the rising cost of fuel, who knows, perhaps we will eventually regress and return to horse transport.

Visit Tricia McGill website for excerpts etc.

Blog Archive