Sunday Brunch at Roscoe’s

Sunday Brunch at Roscoe’s

Howdy!

Did you take a look at the photo above and go ewww, or did it make your mouth water? If you said the latter, then you’ve either been to Roscoe’s or you’ve had chicken-n-waffles at some point in your rich, full life. If your reaction was the former, well…allow me to entice you over to the crispy side. [Read more…]

Grammy-bound!

Grammy-bound!

by Xio Axelrod

Next month, the music industry will descend upon the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to celebrate what they consider to be the best releases from the last year. There’s always some controversy, but opinions are subjective. And like belly buttons, everyone has one.

One of my favourite bands, twenty one pilots, performing one of my favourite songs from 2016, “Heathens” – a Grammy nominee. [Read more…]

Just A Taste of “Conquering William” #3 Sir Arthur’s Legacy

Just A Taste of “Conquering William” #3 Sir Arthur’s Legacy

ConqueringWilliam - SarahHegger2If she lived to be a hundred, Alice never wanted to attend another wedding, particularly not as the bride. The odor of roasting meats almost undid her, and she took a long draught from her water goblet. A bride did not vomit all over her wedding feast.

Her father, face ruddy with wine, sidled up and pinched her side. “God’s teeth! Smile, you stupid wench. I have found you a good ‘un this time. Far better than a butter-face like you could hope for.” Goblet held high, he strode away, sprinkling wine across the heads of those he passed. His forced laughter grated on her ear.

To her right, her groom drank from his goblet. In a deep, smooth voice, he murmured to his mother on his other side. As he shifted, his muscular thigh pinned her skirt to the bench.

Loathe to draw his attention, Alice tugged the dull brown wool.
He inclined his head with a smile, moved his leg, and freed her skirt. “I beg your pardon.”

God save her from her beautiful husband. “No matter.”
“May I serve you more water?” Eyes deeper blue than the lake beneath the castle twinkled at her. Candlelight gleamed off his dark hair and clung to his finely etched face.

“Thank you, but nay.”

With another smile, he turned back to his mother.

She would prefer if he did not smile so much. Or did not smell so appealing. His subtle woodsy-sweet spice teased her every time he leaned nearer. He did quivering things to her innards. How could she hope to hold a man such as this? Atop the scarred table, their trencher sat between them, still full of mutton, gravy oozing into a brown puddle on the table. It couldn’t be worse. Her father had outdone himself this time. Three husbands he’d chosen for her and this one, by far, the most daunting.

Aye, but William of Anglesea would make fine children. Tall, strong boys, broad and powerfully built like their sire, and girls to take after his mother and sisters. A child of her own. A downy head nestled against her breast, a tiny body cradled in her arms. She touched her palm to her flat, empty belly, and put her hand back on the table before anyone could notice. Even butter- faces had dreams.

A jester before the dais capered about, ringing his bells and doing his best to enthuse the assembly with joviality. Poor man raised only titters of amusement. He must have come with her father for the wedding, for they had no resident jester at Tarnwych. A few determined souls cheered the jester on his way, and a band of minstrels took his place. The cheery pipes led the lutes into songs praising the bride’s beauty and the groom’s virility. Could they not spare her those? She’d wager the minstrels would change their songs when they left for the inn tonight.

The bawdy ballad of Alice of Tarnwych and William of Anglesea. She made up her own words to the cheerful wedding song the minstrel band warbled.

The peacock ruts with a dull, brown wren,

A dull brown wren, a dull brown wren

The peacock ruts with a dull, brown wren,

Fa, la, la, la la.

William, the peacock, with his striking looks and finery had stood beside her in the chapel, and the top of her head had only reached his shoulder. How the ladies in attendance had sighed as he dipped his dark head and recited his vows to her, the dull, little wren in her brown wool dress with her atrocious hair confined to a wimple. Both William’s sisters boasted glorious flaxen hair the hue of summer wheat, not brazen red. Willowy and graceful they glided in rich, silk slippers like butterflies, whilst she stomped around in her sensible clogs.

Sister Julianna leant in and kept her voice low. “This is a bad business. This family is sown with wild, spoiled seed.”

Then there was that. Whispers of the taint on Sir Arthur’s beautiful family carried even this far north.

“It is time.” Gracious and lovely, Lady Mary of Anglesea rose with a sweet smile for Alice. “Shall we?”

“Aye, let us get to the meat of the matter.” Smug grin eating his face, her father thumped the table.

Rising too, Sir William offered his hand to her. Grip warm and sure, he helped her climb over the bench, then straightened her skirts for her. No fault could she find with her groom’s manners. As far as she could see, he had no faults at all. Men like William should marry their faultless equals. How different would this be if she looked like his mother and sisters? If she could enter his bed with her head held high, confident in her groom’s delight in her beauty.

The other women stood with her. Lady Faye, flawless and serene in her pregnancy, golden hair framing her enchanting face. Her second new sister-in-law, Beatrice. Bea, they called her, and on occasion Sweet Bea. Not as fair as Faye, but her pretty countenance made more so by the lively march of humor across it.

God mocked her by surrounding her with all this overbearing comeliness.

“Come along, then.” Beatrice’s smile stretched false with forced good cheer. Nay, they no more welcomed this match for their brother than she did.

Another wedding night and she would endure.

 

Conquering William releases August 30th:

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Just a Taste from Sarah Hegger

Just a Taste from Sarah Hegger

Good morning from New York City, where I am attending the Romance Writers of America Annual Conference. I’m sharing a taste with you of my upcoming new release, Nobody’s Fool #2 Willow Park Romance.

1978477_326714900859339_7243473038906140942_oJosh winced around a mouthful of lukewarm beer. Time to go. He’d been nursing this beer for the last hour and his new book on Sir Isaac Newton was calling him. Age or boredom—who the hell knew?

He’d only come here for a quiet beer to unwind from his day. Granted, this particular bar was a shitty choice, but it was close to his condo, the beer was cold, and the bartender friendly.

A woman pushed through two slick broker types and fumbled a cell phone out of a pair of baggy GAP jeans. Her burgundy University of Western Ontario sweatshirt sneered like a rescue pound mongrel at the expensive Armanis flanking it.

Her brow puckered into a vicious frown.

She could be lost, or in disguise, but she did have the whole I-have-no-idea-exactly-how-hot-I-am thing going for her. A light lurking under a bushel, a diamond in the rough, a girl with an air of do me, bad boy she seemed oblivious to.

Not so clueless was every red-blooded male in her vicinity. More than one covert eye went her way.

Dark eyes, gleaming with intelligence and ringed by thick lashes, met his gaze.

A promising start—if he was looking for a pickup, which he wasn’t—but still…There was something familiar about this girl.

Diminutive and with her face devoid of makeup, she could have passed for fourteen. The air of determination marked her as older, however. Closer to his age, which meant old enough to drink, old enough to drive, and old enough for all sorts of interesting games.

Ten years ago, five even, he’d have cruised right over and worked his smolder. He knew better now.

The woman ducked her head and took a call. A mane of long wavy hair obscured her face.

The sort of hair a man liked to curl his fingers in.

Her gaze flickered up and over him. Angry eyes under a pair of lowered brows, giving him the eye so evil he almost looked over his shoulder for the true beneficiary.

Whoa!

Women, as a rule, didn’t look at him that way. Women dressed like bag ladies with … pencils? No kidding. It was definitely a couple of standard number twos holding her hair tightly against her head. Women like her almost never gave him the hairy eyeball.

His feelings might be a bruised.

Nope. Feelings intact but ego definitely grazed. She kept her hostile glare going. Those things could smoke a hole right through him.

Maybe she was gay. Josh winced behind his beer, glad he wasn’t voicing any of this out loud. He would sound like an egotistical prick. Okay, women didn’t often turn him down, but it happened. Sometimes.

Her glance shifted away. She was aware of him and doing her best not to show it.

He knew her. It hit him out of the blue and he stopped to think. She had the sort of face it was hard to forget. Not pretty, exactly, more compelling, and a blank canvas for every thought running through her head.

And right now she was not aiming happy thoughts in his direction.

She hunched over her phone to hear better.

The love ’em and leave ’em style of his early twenties hadn’t left many warm and fuzzy feelings behind him. Still, he came up blank. He was reasonably sure she wasn’t one of the bodies littering his youth, but this lady did not like him.

“Hey, Jo-osh?” His name was singsonged at him.

And speaking of his youth, right on cue. The timing nearly made him bust out laughing.

His mystery lady stuck her cute nose in the air. The amber glow from the lighted bar counter turned her skin to butter cream and picked out the tiniest golden freckles across her upturned nose,

The disdain rolled across the distance between them in waves.

“Hey, Josh, like, hello.” A pair of breasts intruded into his line of sight, right beneath his nose. He faced the owner of the pair.

There were three of them and all looking at him expectantly.

Ah, shit, here we go.

Over the newcomers’ shoulders the mystery lady shook her head in disgust. Her eyes raked over him and the posse in front of him and rolled.

Now, that was not entirely fair. He might even be getting a little pissed at her and her attitude. Girls like the trio facing him were knee deep in trendy Chicago bars, which this one happened to be. They were voracious hunters and he’d only been standing here minding his own business. She needn’t act like he’d encouraged them.

In the meanwhile, Bambi, Barbie, and Bubbles—or whatever—posed and primped in front of him. Their cheeks pink with a combination of alcohol and excitement.

His heart sank. He could almost script what was coming. It was his own damn fault, ultimately, but there had to come a point when the ghosts of the past went toward the fucking light or something.

“So, like, we were wondering…” Bambi/Barbie/Bubbles pursed her frosted mouth at him and stuck out her breasts.

As if he could have missed them the first time around.

Two and three were providing the flanking action, mirroring her movements and throwing in some freestyle hair tossing.

“Hi, girls.” His skin prickled. Was he really going to have to do this now? Mystery lady with the judgmental eyes was going to get her money’s worth tonight.

SarahSig