I love throwing parties, not least because it gives me the perfect excuse to call in the professionals to take care of the cleaning and cooking while I focus on the little decorative touches. And tonight the house looks wonderful inside and out ready for my special guests at my early Valentine's party. The table looks stunning with heart-shaped silver dragees (especially imported from Spain) and edible pearls sprinkled around the sumptuous blood-red rose centrepiece. The silver and crystal glitter and gleam against snowy linen in the soft light of pretty pink candles and the place settings are carefully arranged to afford easy conversation with my three special guests. These are romance writers Linda Andrews, Meg Bellamy and Sophia Knightly who all have special new releases for Valentine's Day.
Naturally conversation quickly turns to the forthcoming day of romance and after the starter is served, I ask them about their most romantic Valentine's memories. Linda wrinkles up her nose and smiles. "I'm the most unromantic person I know," she tells us. "For our first Valentine's Day together, my soon-to-be husband bought me a dozen red roses, a box of chocolates and a trigold necklace. All I could see was dead plants and a sparkly noose. The chocolate was wonderful but I hate jewelry and prefer live plants." (Here she glances at my centrepiece, hopefully not with disapproval). "It was a culture shock to him and to me. I couldn't believe people actually did such things and he couldn't believe I didn't want them. Twenty-six years later, we've come to an agreement. I get to hold his hand as much as I want and we still make out on the couch when the kids aren't around. I think it's romantic that he'll go out at 10PM to get me a DQ Blizzard with peanut M&Ms anytime I want and he thinks I'm wonderful because I always have ice cream in the house."
Meg casts a meaningful look in the direction of her partner when I ask her the same question. "I hope that will be this year. Time with my wonderful, gorgeous, hot DH. A lovely meal I haven't cooked and he doesn't have to clean up after. He will surprise me, as he occasionally does, with a big bouquet of flowers and some lovely, lacy, mushy cards that he swears are completely sincere. He will scrub my back while I'm enjoying a fragrant bubble bath. My favorite music will be playing on the CD. He will help me out of the tub, his eyes feasting on my beauty. Then, after he towels me off and provides a magical massage, I'm going to turn the lights off on this description." Good thinking, Meg - I think our imaginations are working overtime now!
While Meg looks forward, Sophia looks back with a dreamy expression on her face remembering times past. "One of the most romantic Valentine’s Days I had with my husband was a sunset picnic on the beach in Naples." I'm transported in an instant - I love Italy! "He filled a basket with chilled stone crabs and mustard sauce, assorted salads, Key Lime pie and a bottle of champagne. It was a beautiful evening. The sky was streaked with pink and orange as the sun descended into the ocean." It sounds like one of those perfect moments from a romantic novel or film.
Which leads me quite nicely to my next question; I ask Sophia if she had ever let any part of herself creep into her novels. She nods and tells us: "I related quite a bit to Michaela in Grill Me, Baby because she tends to be a perfectionist in her work. I’m like Gabriela in Sold on You because I have a soft spot in my heart for the underdog. Both women are strong and independent, and they stand up for what they believe in." Hmm, they sound like my kind of heroines too.
Linda is also nodding in agreement. "In The Christmas Village I wrote about a heroine who hated coffee and only drank tea. When some of my co-workers read the book they decided to be more careful about what they did or said around me for fear of it ending up in a book. Of course, I'm really good at spying and some of my co-workers have interesting habits." She winks and laughs when we ask her to elaborate, then purses her lips. It seems we'll have to read her novels to find out more.
Meg then gives the question some thought. "I've noticed that many of my heroines seem to devote lots of attention to food. Since I consider cookbooks and food magazines recreational reading, I can see why they're interested. Diana, heroine of Divorce by Chocolate, loves baking and creating desserts so much, she builds that skill into her business. She is like me also in not always being careful or attentive enough to the details of her business in that she'll sign papers without really reading them. This leads to some really tough lessons. Finally, all my heroines have a sense of humor. They have to, or I wouldn't want to spend much time with them." We all agree with that - and what a wonderful title! Time to find out more about it.
Divorce by Chocolate by Meg Bellamy
While she makes sweets, her partner cheats…
Diana Lambert seems to have it all -- a loving husband, a successful business and a gorgeous home. Then, on returning from a business trip, she finds her husband and trusted assistant playing house. Even worse, they've planned a coup to remove her from Goddess Goodies, the business build from her dreams -- and her family's recipes.
Devastated, Diana is ready to drown herself in hot fudge and sorrow when her inner goddess spurs her not to let her talents go to waste. She rolls up her sleeves, unleashes the goddess within and starts cooking up a recipe for getting even through the best means -- success. Her life's sweet treats aren't confined to the kitchen, as she discovers with the support and love of her sister, her friends and one very special guy.
Divorce by Chocolate is available from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B4Y4RSM
Or for UK readers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00B4Y4RSM
And here's an excerpt from Divorce by Chocolate
Ben Riker and his partner had offices in the Belwether Building overlooking Union Square. I was early for that appointment too. I sat in the outer office, leafing through magazines about money and entrepreneurship while the receptionist for several of the offices cheerfully answered phones and pounded away on her keyboard.
A large sandy-haired man who looked like an intellectual teddy bear came over to me. "Are you Diana?"
I put down the magazine I hadn't been reading and nodded.
He smiled, which brought crinkles to the corners of his brown eyes, twinkling behind black framed glasses.
I couldn't help smiling back. I had to fight a completely inappropriate temptation to give him a big hug, to bury my face in his baby blue cotton pullover. This reaction was so not me. I must have been feeling really desperate to want to throw myself into the arms of a total stranger. Granted, he was that cute and cuddly looking. Mostly, I was that out of it.
"I'm Ben Riker." He extended his hand -- which felt wonderfully warm and strong in mine. "Let's go into my office so we can talk."
I nodded, feeling gladder to follow him than I had about anything else in the last few days. Ben's office might have won some sort of record for most paper piled in a single cubic measure of space. "Excuse the mess. I'm in the middle of a huge project."
Somehow I suspected his office would always look the same.
I looked around for somewhere I could sit without disturbing any of his files. He cleared off a pile and steered me to a reasonably comfortable dark green leather chair. He managed to find another one to sit in.
"Thank you so much for seeing me. You're obviously very busy."
He shrugged. "Work is always with us, but I don't often get a chance to help a friend. Izzy was terrific to my sister Ellen during Ellen's divorce. I'm glad to finally have a chance to return the favor."
In these past few days I'd really begun to get a whole new appreciation of my sister -- of how many people's lives she touched. My previous blindness had not been limited to Derek and Melinda's shenanigans.
"Why don't you tell me how I can help?"
I almost wished he could have been at the lawyer's office so I wouldn't have to repeat the whole miserable story. But then I realized Ben Riker didn't need to hear about Derek or Melinda or what they'd done. I just had to tell him about the business, which I proceeded to do.
"I've always been a big Goddess Goodies fan. Keeps me going to the gym." He patted his stomach appreciatively. "I never knew the story of your business before."
"The Goddess Goodies that's been is no more. We're about to enter a new chapter, and I'm not altogether sure I can feel good about this -- my personal problems aside."
"Change is often scary. But just think, Diana, you might come out of this with an even better, stronger company than before -- hard as that is to envision."
"I'd love to believe the change will be beneficial. I don't know if I'm ready to accept that the company I started might become even more successful without me." I was beginning to realize big time how much Goddess Goodies meant to me -- on all levels.
"So tell me, Diana. What can I do for you?" He gave me another of his fabulous smiles.
How about a full body massage?
Thank you, Meg - that certainly has me intrigued to read more!
More about Meg Bellamy:
Along with her husband, her family and her books, language is Meg’s passion. In fact, by day she’s a mild-mannered language teacher. Currently she teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) to international students, but in her early teaching days, her main subject was French. Though her French is a bit rusty these days, she figures a trip to France would help fix that. She’s also studied Russian, Spanish and Italian and is now studying German in preparation to attend the Love Letter Convention in Berlin in May. This love of language spills over into her writing craft and appreciation for books.—and travel!
Meg gets to satisfy the travel bug with trips to England—as often as possible!— to visit her son, daughter-in-law and grandsons. She’ll be heading there from Berlin. It’s great when Lee, her DH, also goes because driving on the left side of the road doesn’t intimidate him—talk about your basic hero type! Meg also has to travel to see her daughter, who lives in New Jersey—a mere continent away from Meg’s home in Northern California.
Being a published member of the community of writers with her contemporary romances and women’s fiction is the fulfillment of one of Meg’s most cherished dreams. Her first Meg book, Homecoming, was released by The Wild Rose Press. She’s currently writing two series of romantic stories—TV Tales and Nuclear Nuptials and has two other series in her plans.
Why not visit her website to find out more? www.MegBellamy.com. She loves hearing from readers at Meg@MegBellamy.com . You can follow @MegBellamy on Twitter. FB page coming soon.
Feedback and reviews are always welcome!
Time to put Meg on the Spot!
Q: Chocolates or red roses? A: Red roses. Much more suitable for a perpetual Weight Watcher.
Q: Champagne or cocktails? A: Champagne. I love having a mimosa for breakfast or brunch -- would never dream of a morning cocktail.
Q: Puppies or kittens? A: Kittens.
Q: Spa hotel or country cottage? A: Can't I have both?
Q: Log fire or moonlit beach? A: Log fire. I'm an indoors girl.
Q: Ski holiday or cruise? A: Cruise. Fewer chances of revealing my inner klutz.
Thank you Meg (also Linda and Sophia) for this fascinating insight.
I hope you'll return at the weekend for more interview answers and an excerpt from a different Valentine's release.