Sunday, November 29, 2015

OPEN IN PRIVATE—A Conversation With Carli and Parker

It's less than four weeks until Christmas and by an incredible coincidence I just happen to have a Christmas romance eBook available.

OPEN IN PRIVATE by Samantha Gentry is an erotic Christmas romance novella at The Wilder Roses, the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance from The Wild Rose Press.

I was fortunate to be able to snag a few minutes with Charlene Vance and Parker Simmons who agreed to sit down with me and share a little bit about their Christmas story.

Thank you Parker and Charlene for taking time from your busy schedule.  Especially you, Charlene.  As a professional personal shopper, this is definitely your most hectic time of year.

Carli:  Thank you for inviting us, Samantha.  And please…call me Carli.

Parker:  (grins at Carli)  She's so well organized that even with this being her busy season she's able to make time in her schedule.  As for me, I'm happy to tackle any questions you want to throw my way.

Carli:  You're right about this being my busy time.  In addition to individuals, I have several corporate clients whose shopping lists include employees and business associates in addition to family and friends.

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't Parker one of those corporate clients?

Parker:  I still am.  In fact, that's how we met.  Carli had been doing all my shopping, both personal and business, for five years.  It had become a very comfortable and efficient working relationship.  We had also become friends during that time.  Then one day, everything changed.

That sounds ominous.  What happened?

Carli:  We had our Christmas shopping meeting, just like every year—the Friday before Thanksgiving.  I give him a list of everyone I purchased a gift for on his behalf the previous Christmas, what I bought and how much it cost.  The process was always the same.  He would go over the list, add and delete names and approve a price range for each individual.  Only this time it was different…very different.  This year he hit me with a real shock that changed everything.

That's a very dramatic statement.

Parker:  (laughs)  It wasn't really all that dramatic.  I told Carli I had gotten divorced the previous April and my ex-wife, all her family, and all her friends were off the list.

Carli:  I have to admit…once I got over the shock, I was elated.  (shoots a sly sideways glance at Parker)  I had secretly lusted after this man the entire five years we had worked together, but he was married which made him off limits.  Besides, he had never done or said anything improper that would indicate his marriage was in trouble or that he had any interest in me beyond our professional relationship.  Then suddenly he was available, but second thoughts reminded me he was a client.  I had always believed that it wasn't wise to mix business with personal, to possibly jeopardize an excellent working relationship for what could be a momentary mistake.

Parker:  My marriage had fallen apart a year before I finally took that big step of getting a divorce.  I had trouble coming to terms with what I had originally perceived as my failure.  And during that year my thoughts had often gravitated to Carli, thoughts far removed from anything connected to business.  So, I turned our Christmas shopping meeting into lunch…

Carli:  Which resumed that evening as dinner…

Parker:  Which unexpectedly exploded into one hell of a night!  But the cool clear light of dawn also brought its share of doubts and concerns.  The thought of jumping into a relationship, of once again becoming emotionally involved, frightened me big time.  Commitment to another relationship was definitely not on my agenda.  Been there…done that…was very leery about trying it again.

Carli:  Everything happened so quickly.  I didn't know which way to turn or what to do.  I was so confused about what was happening between us.  Could I be content with the no-strings-attached situation Parker seemed to prefer?  I had been divorced for seven years and 'never again' for a serious commitment had been the constant in my life.  But with the passage of time and the prospect of developing something real with Parker, the concept of 'never again' began to rapidly slip from priority to no longer occupying an important place in my life.

It sounds as if the two of you definitely had some problems to work out.

Carli:  Smooth sailing it was NOT.  For a while, I thought it was over as soon as it began.  My pragmatic side also feared that I might have lost my best client.

Parker:  And I have to admit that I didn't help matters.  Everything seemed to be moving too quickly and I didn't know how to handle it.

I'm sure there are many couples who have had to deal with these same issues.  Could you share with us how you handled it?

Carli:  We certainly could, but…

Parker:  We won't.

What?  You're going to leave us hanging?  Or worse yet, let us think that everything suddenly and miraculously turned out okay?

Parker:  Nothing is that easy.  You don't wake up and discover that there are no longer any problems.

Exactly.  So…what happened?

Carli:  (smiles)  I'd love to tell you, but…

Parker:  (nods his head in agreement)  You'll need to read the book.

That's all you're going to tell me?

Parker:  (makes an exaggerated show of looking at his watch)  Oh no!  I think we're out of time. (laughs)

Well, I guess there's nothing left to say except thank you, Parker and Carli, for being with us.
***
OPEN IN PRIVATE an erotic Christmas romance by Samantha Gentry from The Wilder Roses (the Scarlet Rose line of erotic romance at The Wild Rose Press) http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/wildcatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=182&products_id=955
Also available at Amazon for Kindle and Barnes & Noble for Nook as well as other online vendors of eBooks.

BLURB:
As a personal shopper, Charlene Vance values her professional association with long time client Parker Simmons. But at the meeting to discuss the list for this year's Christmas purchases, she learns that Parker is divorced and the ex-wife is off his list. When lunch leads to dessert between the sheets, Charlene is eager to move their relationship beyond good business and incredible sex.

Parker Simmons doesn't want anything more permanent than what's on the menu for today. But Charlene's enthusiasm to experiment in bed satisfies his darker appetites and suddenly he's craving more. Parker might need her help with holiday gift ideas but he's got his own shopping agenda. On his list? Gifts only for Charlene—to open in private.

PG-EXCERPT #1: (publisher's excerpt)
"Everything looks so good. I think I'll have the shrimp salad." Carli closed her menu and set it on the table.

Everything looks good to me, too, and I don't mean the food. "I'm going to have the chicken carbonara…and a glass of wine with my lunch. Would you join me?"

"Well, I usually don't drink during business meetings, but yes," she extended a sparkling smile, "I'd like that. A chardonnay."

He placed their lunch order with the waiter, then returned his attention to her. "We've had a very nice business relationship for five years. You obviously know a lot about me from doing my shopping, but I don't really know that much about you personally, other than you have great taste, are very intelligent, and have a good sense of humor."

The waiter arrived with the bottle of wine Parker had ordered. After opening the bottle, he poured each of them a glass, put the bottle in the ice bucket, and left.

Parker raised his glass toward Carli in a toast. "Here's to another successful Christmas holiday season." He tilted his head and raised a questioning eyebrow. "And perhaps to an even closer working relationship?" Maybe something hot and naked in a big bed?

"I'd like that, too."
 ***
Be sure to check out my website for more excerpts from OPEN IN PRIVATE and information about my other books.  www.samanthagentry.com

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and Peace On Earth.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Those Naughty Pilgrims

With Thanksgiving comes stories of the Pilgrims taking up residence in the new world, landing at Plymouth Rock in what is now the state of Massachusetts.  The pious Pilgrims certainly have a reputation for being a rigid, hard-working, and humorless group.  But there are a few surprises to be found.  Even though drunkenness was discouraged, beer was accepted as a drink by men, women, and also children.  The daily ration on the Mayflower was a gallon a day for each individual.  It took 66 days for them to sail from England to their landing place of Plymouth Rock.  Hmmm…66 days times 1 gallon per person times the number of people on the ship.  It seems that a lot of room on board the ship was devoted to storing the beer ration.

Even sex was not taboo under the right circumstances.  They had a matter-of-fact attitude about sex as long as it was between a married couple.  It's when sex strayed from being the exclusive right between a married couple that the stories get interesting.

Studies by a group of anthropologists at the University of Virginia found that the Pilgrims spent a great deal of time thinking about how to punish those with impure thoughts and actions.  Studies also discovered that in 11% of the marriages at Plymouth Colony the bride was already pregnant.  The same study estimates that as many as 50% of the Pilgrims engaged in premarital sex.  Definitely not an image that fits the stereotype of the staid Pilgrims.

But what about the actions and activities of those naughty Pilgrims?  As with so much in life, there's the faƧade and then there's the underlying reality.

Although not liberal in their thinking or lifestyle, the Pilgrims were not as uptight as history would have us believe and apparently not as uptight as their cousins, the Puritans.  Both the Pilgrims and the Puritans were English Protestants who believed that the Church of England was in need of reform.  Although both groups were strict Calvinists, they differed in their approach to how the Church of England should be reformed.  The Pilgrims were more inclined to separate from the church (therefore known as separatists), while the Puritans wanted to reform the church from within.  The Pilgrims were the first group of Puritans to seek religious freedom in the New World (thus separating from the church).  As strict Calvinists, members of both groups believed in original sin, predestination and the literal interpretation of the Bible as God’s word.

The Pilgrims tried to create a strict religious society, but had an understanding and mercy unusual for their time in history.  As time passed, however, intolerance grew and was reflected in their laws and clearly demonstrated by the notorious Salem witch trials.  Innocent people were convicted and put to death on evidence that later even the Pilgrims declared to be inadmissible (I saw it in a dream, the spirit of my dead grandmother came to me and said…).

According to the Mayflower Compact, the colony was to establish laws based on Biblical teachings "for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith."  The Old Testament book of Leviticus was the basis for most of their laws, a biblical source that definitely predated Christianity's teachings of love and forgiveness rather than reflecting those teachings.  Adultery?  Death.  A man has sex with his daughter-in-law?  Death.  Sodomy?  Death.  Bestiality?  Death.  Are you beginning to see a pattern?  :)

But interestingly, the Pilgrims did not typically enforce the death penalty for sex offenses.  There is only one known case in which the convicted offender was actually put to death for sex crimes.  It was the case of Thomas Graunger, a teenage boy apparently at the peak of his raging hormones who sought satisfaction from any and all sources available to him…those sources being the farm animals.

According to Plymouth Governor William Bradford, "He was this year detected of buggery, and indicted for the same, with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves and a turkey."

Even though Thomas was the only one executed for a sex crime, punishments were routinely severe even with far lesser sex crimes and usually meant whippings, being put into the stocks, and fines.

Men were not the only offenders in Plymouth colony.  The prim women weren't always so pious either.  Women were often caught since the evidence of their dalliances were babies.  The records of the times are filled with one out-of-wedlock child after another.  Babies showing up just a few months after marriage were also evidence of wrong doing.  Pre-marital sex was severely punished.  Fines were levied even for making passes, for appearing to have a lascivious carriage in public, or partying in mixed company at an unseemly time of night.

Sex outside marriage, even between two unmarried consenting adults, usually meant a whipping and fines.  If the woman became pregnant, the man had to either marry her or pay for the child's upbringing.  The man was usually placed in the stocks and whipped while the woman was made to watch.  Sometimes mercy was granted as in the case of a servant, Jane Powell.  Following years of hard servitude, she was destitute and had agreed to having sex in the hopes of marrying the man.  Apparently the court found her plea convincing and she went unpunished.

Even though the Pilgrims imposed strict punishment for crimes, they also understood human temptations.  In 1656, Katheren Aines and William Paule were sentenced for committing adultery.  William was whipped and forced to pay the costs of his imprisonment.  Katheren was whipped, imprisoned and forced to wear a letter on her shoulder designating her as an adulteress.  (Calling Nathaniel Hawthorne!)  However, Katheren's husband, Alexander, was also punished.  Alexander had left his family for some time and treated her badly during their marriage.  The Pilgrims viewed him as guilty of "exposing his wife to such temptations."  Alexander was required to pay for his wife's imprisonment, and sit in the stocks while William and Katheren were whipped.

This Thanksgiving as you sit down to your turkey dinner, it might be a good idea to take a moment to be thankful that you aren't a Pilgrim.  :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Myths and Facts

We all know the often told story of how the Pilgrims left England seeking religious freedom and finally settled in the New World at Plymouth in what is now the state of Massachusetts.  And how in 1621 they invited the local natives to share a dinner with them in order to give thanks for a successful harvest and surviving their first year.

From those humble beginnings have come many facts and just as many myths about the Pilgrims and our Thanksgiving holiday.

I have some Mayflower myths to share with you, followed by some Thanksgiving facts.  And next week…Those Naughty Pilgrims.

Myth:  The first Thanksgiving was in 1621 and the Pilgrims celebrated it every year after that.
Fact:  The first feast wasn't repeated, so it wasn't the beginning of a tradition.  In fact, it wouldn't have been called Thanksgiving because to the Pilgrims a thanksgiving was a religious holiday.  That feast in 1621 was a secular celebration and would not have been considered a thanksgiving in their minds.

Myth:  The original Thanksgiving feast took place on the fourth Thursday of November.
Fact:  The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11 and was a three day celebration based on the English harvest festivals.  In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the official date for Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November, a decision fraught with controversy.  The date was approved by Congress in 1941.

Myth:  The Pilgrims wore only black and white clothing with buckles on their hats, garments, and shoes.
Fact:  Buckles did not come into fashion until later in the 17th century.  Black and white were commonly worn only on Sunday and formal occasions.

Here's a list of facts that could be called Thanksgiving-by-the-numbers.

3,000—the number of calories eaten during an average Thanksgiving meal.

12,000,000—the number of whole turkeys Butterball sells for Thanksgiving.

2,000 - 3,000—the number of people used to guide the balloons during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

214—the average number of miles driven for the family get together at Thanksgiving.

1939—the date the Great Thanksgiving Day calendar controversy began (when FDR declared the fourth Thursday of November to be the official date of Thanksgiving).

40,000,000—the number of green bean casseroles made for Thanksgiving dinner.

72,000,000—the number of cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce sold for Thanksgiving dinner.

Next week I'll contradict the belief that the Pilgrims embodied the very soul of purity and piety.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

25 Obscure World Facts

There are almost 200 countries in the world.  Even if you are a knowledgeable global citizen, I'll bet there are some items on this list that will be new to you.  There are two countries that made it on the list twice (does not include honorable mentions, which are not listed here)—Canada for #6 and #19, and Russia at #3 and #17.

My disclaimer—this list was sent to me in an email and is a couple of years old. I have not personally checked out these facts or updated the list.

25)  Covers The Most Time Zones:
This honor goes to France, covering 12 time zones (when you include all their overseas territories). The United States is next with 11 time zones, then Russia with 9 time zones.

24)  Most Diverse Country:
Culturally, economically, climatically, racially, linguistically, ethnically, and religiously…the winner seems to be India.

23)  Most Overweight Population:
More than 95% of the population of the small island nation of Nauru is overweight.  This is primarily attributed to the importation of western fast food.

22)  Roads Made Of Coral:
Guam doesn't have any natural sand, therefore, the island nation makes its asphalt using a mix of ground up coral and oil rather than importing sand.

21)  350 Sheep For Every Person:
The Falkland Islands' population is about 3000 people and half a million sheep.  Needless to say, the major export is wool.

20)  Oldest Sovereign State:
Depending on your definition of sovereign state (first acquisition of sovereignty) then Egypt is the winner based on the formation of the first dynasty in 3100 BC.

19)  Most Lakes In The World:
Canada can claim this honor with over 3 million lakes (9% of the country) being fresh water and over 60% of all the lakes in the world within its borders.

18)  Least Likely Place To Meet Your Neighbor:
With a population of only 4 people per square mile, Mongolia is the least populated country on Earth.  The Mong Kok district of Hong Kong has the highest population density in the world with 340,000 people per square mile.

17)  Largest Number Of Military Tanks:
Russia has the most tanks of any army in the world (21,000).  However, most of these are outdated.  The United States has an inventory of 16,000 tanks but they are much more advanced.

16)  The Land With No Rivers:
You would think that a country as big as Saudi Arabia would have some sort of flowing water.  Well, you'd be wrong.  Most of their fresh water comes from desalinization plants or underground reservoirs.

15)  Youngest Population:
This is calculated by determining the portion of the population that is younger than 15 years old. The current holder of this distinction is Niger with 49% of its population meeting this criteria.

14)  Most Likely To Disappear Beneath The Waves:
With global warming and rising sea levels, the residents of the Maldives will be the first to suffer this fate.  Their nation is the lowest on earth with an average altitude of only 1.8 meters (approx. 5.85 feet) above sea level.

13)  Fastest Disappearing:
With a decrease in population of .8% annually, between now and the year 2050 the Ukraine is expected to lose approximately 30% of its population.

12)  Most Of Its Citizens Live Abroad:
Rough economic times combined with an increased birth rate resulted in large numbers of people leaving Malta so that now there are more Maltese living abroad than within the country.

11)  Smaller Than Central Park In New York City:
Although Vatican City is smaller in land size (.17 square mile) than Monaco (.8 square mile), it doesn't have any permanent residents which makes Monaco the smallest permanently inhabited nation in the world.

10)  Almost Entirely Covered In Jungle:
Suriname has 91% of its land covered in jungle. Half a million residents live primarily along the coast near the capital with only 5% of the population living inland.

9)  Almost Entirely Treeless:
On the opposite end of the scale from Suriname is Haiti. The country has been so badly deforested that you can actually see where the border is between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in a satellite image.

8)  Largest Country With No Farms:
There are a number of small nations in the world that have no hint of an agriculture based economy (such as Vatican City), Singapore is the largest of these urban city-states.

7)  Most Languages Spoken:
English is its official language, but only 1-2% of the population of Papua New Guinea actually speak it.  It's the most linguistically diverse country in the world with over 820 languages (12% of the world's total) spoken there.

6)  Most Educated People:
Canada easily has the most educated population in the world with 50% of its people having been educated at the post secondary level.  Israel is next with 45% followed by Japan at 44%.

5)  The "Country Desert":
99% of Libya is covered in desert and is one of the most arid places in the world.  Some regions of the country can go decades without a single drop of rain.

4)  Least Peaceful Nation:
Although for the last 3 years Iraq has been ranked as the least peaceful country, the Global Peace Index has declared that in this year Somalia moved up to the top spot. [as I said, I have not checked or updated, but it seems to me that Afghanistan should be up there toward the top]

3)  Produces Most Of The World's Oxygen:
Approximately 25% of the world's forests are in Siberia spanning an area larger than the continental United States which makes Russia the largest converter of carbon dioxide into breathable air.

2)  Largest Opium Producer:
Afghanistan produces a whopping 95% of the world's opium.  Not even years of occupation by American forces has been able to slow down this industry.

1)  Most People Behind Bars:
This dubious honor belongs to the United States.  We have 2.2 million people behind bars.  We have 5% of the world's population but 25% of the world's incarcerated population.  [Do we literally have more than our share of criminals or are we more efficient at capturing and prosecuting them?]

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DO AND DON'T FOR THE MORNING AFTER…

It's a familiar scene in real life—your first date with him, either someone you just met or maybe someone you've known for a while but the two of you have never been on an actual date until now.  The evening went really well, you both had a great time.

Even though you wouldn't normally end up in bed with a guy on the first date, somehow this time is different.  He seemed like a terrific guy and you definitely wanted to see him again.  It's as if the two of you were really meant for each other.  Destiny has brought you together.  Fate has decreed it to be so.

Maybe you go to his place or perhaps you go to your place.  Either way, you end up in bed.  A night of hot sex—in fact, the best sex you've ever had.  Then the cold and occasionally cruel light of dawn hits you with reality.

It's now that dreaded morning after!  Terribly awkward or truly comfortable?  Is he really the right guy for you?

I recently found a list of Do And Don't For The Morning After…10 items on the do list for that comfortable and blissful morning after and 10 items on the don't list for that awkward morning after…to let you know if he's really the one for you.

The List Saying 'This Could Be The Guy':

1)  He cooks breakfast, goes on a food run, or makes a pot of coffee without being asked.

2)  He walks your dog.

3)  He likes to get it on in the morning.

4)  He's into showering together.

5)  He makes jokes, but never at the wrong time.

6)  He plays DJ while you're getting dressed.

7)  He warms up his car for you on a cold winter day.

8)  He remembers where you left your earrings last night.

9)  He gives you not 1, but 2 clean towels and wash cloth for your shower.

10) He makes your bed, even if he does a crappy job of it.

The List Saying 'This Definitely Is not The Guy':

1)  He's in a cranky mood and doesn't want to get it on because he's not a morning person.

2)  He wants to know why you don't have a specific brand of gourmet coffee.

3)  He doesn't leave your place until late afternoon even though you've hinted that it's time for him to scram.

4)  He's in a rush to leave/get rid of you or is obviously panicked at waking up next to another human.

5)  He won't have breakfast or even a cup of coffee with you and doesn't offer you a thing to eat, not even a glass of water.

6)  He takes forever getting out the door in the morning because first he has to check his email, then he watches Sports Center or some dumb internet videos.

7)  He overdoes it when spritzing that vile smelling cologne.

8)  His shower contains a gnarly-looking loofah his ex-girlfriend left 2 years ago and some kind of questionable soap.

9)  He doesn't take out the trash until it's overflowing and then some so that his apartment smells like the dump.

10) He complains about the comfort of your mattress and pillows.

Anything you'd like to add to the do or don't list?