I spent the past weekend resting my thumb and reading three books that I had picked up from Romance Writers of America’s National Conference.

So I had the unique privilege of visiting New York City and Santa Barbara; a magical land called Raea; and Blessings, Kansas.


I hadn’t read any of these authors before.  I have met Joan, and she’s a publishing sister of mine, so it was with interest that I sat down to spend a bit of time reading two short novellas by Joan Bird.

Wishes and Miracles by Joan Bird

Both stories are set in a small publishing company. The editors are men; the writers, women whose work changes their lives. Sam’s Gift has the delicious Lizzie shoving her manuscript under the door of an editor. Jake is transformed by this novel and must have it, so he goes to great lengths to find Lizzie and meet up with her. But with Lizzie comes Jake’s realization; that his wife, Sam, whom he lost on 9/11 when the South Tower went down, has left him the gift of his future; and that he’d darned well better take advantage of it, instead of continuing to live like a ghost. Joan’s way with witty and intelligent dialog will have you giggling in delight.

Amy’s Wish, set in Santa Barbara, is another heart-tugging, witty and intelligent novella. Eric, the editor, is in Santa Barbara only to get Amy to sign a contract for her novel. Amy is certain he doesn’t mean it. It takes them both to bare their souls, and their secrets, before he can convince her that he means everything he says, especially when he says “I love you.”

Both stories give you that warm, happy-ever-afterglow that a good romance imparts, and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

This story had me by the first sentence.

“I craft influential cake.”

Right??? Yeah. This is a magical puzzle of three people (well, let’s go with that) that are entwined together.

Maire has no memory of her past beyond the five years she’s been in the town of Carmine. She is a baker who bakes influence into her cakes and tarts and pies. Whether it be love, or luck, or strength, or courage, she crafts her edibles with these emotions and abilities. Those who consume them receive those gifts, which is why her bakeshop is well known in her small town.

But when marauders come through Carmine, she is captured and sold…to Allemas, a strong man who then sets her to make treats for others. He whirls them from place to place, holding her captive when she is not actively baking.

When she is down in the cellar, waiting for Allemas to set her to another task, she is visited by a spirit named Fyel. The more she spends time with him, the more her memory returns…and the angrier Allemas becomes.

I have never read a novel like this before. I loved it. It was like falling into a dream, and I wished I could taste the cakes, the tarts, the petit fours. And the reveal toward the end was breathtaking. I will definitely be reading more of Charlie N. Holberg’s works.

Heart of Gold, a Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins

I fell in love, reading this book. I had never read any of the Blessings novels, but I didn’t feel lost at all. I loved Bernadine and her Mal, I loved the feisty 10 year old Zoey, and I absolutely adored her mama Roni Garland and her man Reggie.

Life in a small town can be very interesting, especially when you’re the one who owns it the way Bernadine Brown owns Blessings, Kansas. Add in a furious mayor’s wife in the nearby small town of Franklin, and you’ve got some mayhem tossed in.

This book immersed me in warmth and love as I read and got to know lots of people in the town, from the impossible Devon who will eventually learn not to be an ass (and Zoey will learn not to beat him up), to Bernadine and her love for most everyone.

I will, most definitely, be going back to Blessings, Kansas at the first opportunity.


It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend, refilling my writer’s well, and getting to share these books and these writers with you is another joy.