The Year of 6 Books + A Detox Bath Recipe!
Happy December, my friends!
Do you love the title of this blog or what? Hi, two things that usually don’t go together. 😆
Today I’m be talking about the 6 books I released in 2018 and having a bit of reflection on each one, including sharing behind the scenes secrets you probably haven’t heard before. And THEN because it’s nearing the end of the year, and we could all use some relaxation, I’ll be sharing a recipe for a detox bath that I am also planning on sharing over at lemmony.com. Don’t know Lemmony? That’s my artistic alter-ego. She’s super into health and wellness and cartooning and drawing. I know. Lots of unexpected segues today, right? (If you’d like to skip the book part and go straight to the bath, scroll to the bottom of this blog.)
In the year 2018 I released six books! Three with RandomHouse for their Loveswept line, and three with Harlequin, which marked my debut series with them. (Sidebar: A Christmas Proposition is out everywhere right now!)
It was a busy, but ridiculously fun year. As I said goodbye to the Real Love series (insert broken heart emoji here), I said hello to Harlequin in a BIG way by signing contracts with them for TEN additional Desire titles. All but two of them have been conceptualized and I’m excited to bring you these fun, amazing stories in both e and print formats! (Foreign translations are becoming available as we speak!)
The beginning of the year marked the release of Man Candy, book three in the Real Love series. I loved this book. (And I especially loved Christian Rimmel’s yummy baritone in the audiobook version!) I had fun exploring Dax’s honesty and sensitivity and yet he was as alpha as they came. What a fun combo!
😢Behind the scenes: Dax was dealing with the recent loss of his father and that idea stemmed directly from the loss of my father-in-law. I have both (all three, technically!) of my parents still on this planet so going through the loss of a parent was a new experience. My heart broke watching my husband's heart break and I added that layer of emotion into the book for Dax.
My Harlequin debut was pretty darn exciting for me considering the publisher was my gateway drug into romance! Lone Star Lovers featured spunky Penelope Brand, a PR maven, and paired her with a good ole Texan oil tycoon/CEO, Zachary Ferguson. But these two have a checkered past…
🤫Behind the scenes: Originally, Penelope Brand appeared in The Billionaire Bachelor, which, if you’ve already read the series, you already know. What you DON’T know was that Penelope existed long, LONG before that series. She was written into the first ever inception of Rescuing the Bad Boy as a secondary character, and she was destined to marry world traveler Alessandre D’Paolo in an impromptu wedding at the end of that book. (WHAT!) So, those of you who have asked if Aless would have a book after you read Rescuing: At the time I couldn’t even imagine him with anyone else. Eventually those characters took on separate lives of their own and now, of course, they are separate entities in my mind. But for a long while Aless and Penelope were destined to be together. Until I introduced Zach in The Bastard Billionaire, then all bets were off. 😉
Ahh, May blew in the biggest bad boy of them all. An unapologetic bad boy of the NFL who said exactly what was on his mind. Barrett Fox was so fun to write. He screwed up. A lot. But beneath that bad boy exterior was a good man who was learning the ropes. I didn’t play it safe with Rumor Has It and as a result it became an Amazon Book of the Month and heralded my first Library Journal review! By far, this was the book that was my favorite of the year to write.
😠Behind the scenes: For all the amazing reviews and gracious quotes from fellow famous authors (it was also blogger Harlequin Junkie’s top pick!), Rumor Has It’s release marked the darkest days of the year for me. A few weeks before it came out, it met with some unexpected scrutiny when word reached me that an early reader was offended by the book. Long story short: it was suggested (not by the publisher or editor, but by someone outside of that circle) that I should change my hero to be more palatable. Quite frankly, I was furious. And hurt. And then I started doubting myself. After a few days that twinge of adrenaline stopped burning my bloodstream. I also found the hill I was willing to die on as this situation flirted too much with censorship to sit well with me. A reader has every right not to like Rumor Has It, but I also have the right to keep it as it is.
A Snowbound Scandal is the second book in the Dallas Billionaires Club and we were able to finally spend some time with Chase Ferguson, the mayor of Dallas and buttoned-up rich guy. I had never written a political figure, so that was new! He was reunited with a woman he’d had a summer fling with ten years ago in Montana. Being in Montana gave me a chance to snow these two in and make them face their pasts. The book also paired with my first ever magazine publication! The mini romance “Perfectly Lovable” appeared in Woman’s World.
🧀Behind the scenes: One of my favorite details about Chase is a subtle one. Being in the political limelight, I decided that he would’ve had a voice coach to lose his Texas drawl. When Miriam notices, however, he trots out the Texan she fell in love with a decade ago. The other favorite part? Grilled cheese sammies! Chase’s snowed-in specialty was gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and I basically ate those the entire time I wrote the book!
The final book in the Real Love series, America’s Sweetheart released just a few months ago. Not only was it named an Amazon Book of the Month (two in one year, woohoo!) but it was also given a starred review from Library X-press (Library Journal)! Ironically, the book didn’t sell many copies, which broke my heart since I had plans to continue the series. I’m not sure if it was the timing of the release that “hid” America’s Sweetheart from readers, or what, but it didn’t hit a lot of your radars. If you ever want to read a fun Hollywood pairing and high school reunion, though, this one is perfect for you.
💔Behind the scenes: Juliean, Jax’s twin sister is bold and strong and I have an entire scenario in my head for how her love story will go. Unfortunately without an audience, her story would be swept under the rug so I haven’t committed to writing it. The idea of investing in a love story that no one reads is a concept that truly breaks my heart, so I must go where the readers are. That’s not to say I won’t write it! If America’s Sweetheart receives attention out of the blue and enough readers are clamoring, I’d absolutely pen Julieann’s story.
As I type this, A Christmas Proposition is on shelves everywhere! I wanted so badly to do another marriage of convenience after I did one for The Billionaire Bachelor (and it made sense to tie up this series with one considering I started it with Penelope who I borrowed from that same book). Stefanie and Emmett were the perfect candidates, marrying at midnight on Christmas when they barely knew each other, but then discovering that they were oh-so-compatible in bed. This sexy little read is definitely one of my favorite things!
Behind the scenes: Can I say that in a Harlequin book? Some books tend to be sexier than others and push a few boundaries. I’m not only talking about kink here (though Return of the Bad Boy’s spanking scene was something those characters were MADE for), I’m also talking about vulnerability and the meaning behind the sex act. Emmett and Stefanie had a lot of discussions during sex, which I found funny since Emmett’s the strong and silent type. But they challenged each other, and hadn’t always gotten along so there was a sort of dare that came about whenever they were in the bedroom (or on the kitchen counter). It came to a climax (ha) at the gala toward the end of the book when Stef finally wins. But would Harlequin allow it? There’s a bit of a language limit, even for Desire, so I wasn’t sure! And if I had to strip (ha-ha) that dare from the book, I knew it’d end up limp. (Insert your own joke here.) WELL. They let me have the dare and the smoking hot scene, and I was over-the-moon thrilled about it. Some characters crank up the heat more than others and I go where they take me.
After that last behind-the-scenes peek, I’m thinking I should’ve offered an ice-cold cocktail instead of a bath, but I’m sticking with the detox bath for a few reasons:
It’s the end of the year and what better way to shed the months in your rearview mirror than taking 15-20 minutes to yourself?
It’s a great habit to build into your self-care routine! We all hold junk in our bodies that we need to get out, and self-care is an important (necessary!) practice if you hope to live a happy, healthy life.
I found each ingredient (except for the lavender oil, which I omitted) at Walmart in adorable sizes perfect for gifting. grab a copy of a christmas proposition to tuck into the bag with the ingredients for the perfect gift for hostesses, family members, teachers, or friends.
Detox Bath (recipe)
1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
5-8 drops of lavender essential oil (optional, you can alternatively buy lavender Epsom salts if you prefer)
What I love about this bath is all the restorative properties the ingredients have!
Epsom salts are packed with Magnesium, which is known to relieve muscle soreness and cramps, alleviate stress, and eliminate toxins from the body (including relieving constipation—yeah, I said it). Not to mention (but I will), you’re in a warm bath which already lends itself to relaxing.
Apple cider vinegar is another health warrior. Adding it to a bath can help relieve dry skin, joint pain, and even offer relief for a UTI.
Coconut oil soothes the skin, but be forewarned: you’ll be as slick as a seal when you’re done. BE CAREFUL climbing out of your bath and scrub the floor of the tub after you drain out the water so that you don’t slip in the shower the next day.
Baking soda has natural anti-fungal properties. Even if you don’t have an issue, it’ll kill those cells before they cause something unpleasant.
Lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, plus it smells really good! Fun side-bar note: In A Bad Boy for Christmas, my hero, Connor had patented a kind of lavender and grew it year round. As a result he always smells like the earthy aromatic herb. I had a lot of fun with that… 😙
PS, I use doterra essential oils, which is my preferred brand. You can purchase it here. (That’s not an affiliate link or anything. I’m just a wholesale customer and love the stuff!)
Play some relaxing music. I asked Alexa to play “spa” music and guess what? There’s an Amazon playlist for that!
Light a candle. I prefer vanilla, but in the winter I am known to burn peppermint or spice fragrances.
Shut off your phone. Airplane mode, please. The world can live without you for 15 minutes.
Set up a footstool and a few additional towels. I bring a small footstool (that I keep in my closet) to the edge of the bath and cover it with a towel. I keep a bottle of water and my phone on it (sometimes I play a meditation track while bathing). Sometimes I also use a towel to roll under my neck while I lounge, and I keep another dry towel handy to dry my hands on in case I have to reach for my phone.
DRINK WATER. A big glass before you get in and a big glass after you’re done. With those toxins swimming in your system, your next job is to get them OUT. That means plenty of water before you indulge in cocktail hour!
Give a bath kit to a friend any time of the year by packaging the ingredients together with the recipe. I even designed a PDF with two copies of the recipe for your convenience.
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