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Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Congressman's Wife

Allow me to introduce to you authors Charlene Keel and Arie Pavlou. Together they wrote The Congressman's Wife, a contemporay romance available from Red Sky Presents.

They are doing a virtual book blast tour on August 1st, and for this occasion Charlene and Arie will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the following link to place your comment:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1807/



Blurb

All Eden Bancroft has ever been to her high-profile politician husband is a trophy wife, born and bred for the part. She believes she has no choice but to play it—until she meets a talented chef and restaurant heir who makes her feel loved for herself alone. The more her husband uses and belittles her, the more deeply Eden falls for Kaleb. Even with Mitchell’s congressional campaign in full swing, the lovers manage to find brief stolen moments together. When her husband is wounded by a bullet from a disgruntled lobbyist, Eden must stay by his side. What she learns can set her free, if she has the courage to take a stand.


Excerpt

Kaleb had been standing close enough to hear it all—not that he’d intended to eavesdrop.  He only wanted to try and give her some kind of signal—to beg, if necessary—to get a moment alone with her.  When he heard her husband’s caustic words, Kaleb wanted to punch him.  He wanted to take Eden’s hand and lead her out of there, away from the complete jackass her husband seemed to be.

Instead, he followed her into the room where coats were checked for the evening.  The maid who’d taken them was nowhere about, and Eden was digging through the racks when Kaleb walked in.  She looked up, surprised.

“We need to talk about it,” he said.

“About what?”  She found her wrap and Mitchell’s Brooks Brothers overcoat, draped them over one arm and turned to face him.

“About this thing between us.”

“That’s not very original.”

“I feel it and I know you feel it.”

“Look, I’m very flattered,” she began but he cut her off.

“We don’t have much time.”  He moved closer, aching to touch her.  “Your husband will come looking for you any minute.  Just tell me when and where I can see you again.  Alone.”

“You can’t,” she said.  “My husband is running for congress.  It’s . . . it would be impossible.”

“No,” he insisted.  “I don’t know why we met or how we’re going to pull this off but I do know one thing.”  He was speaking so softly now that she had to move closer to hear him.

“What?” she asked, her lips just inches from his own.  They were of equal height and he could see how well, how perfectly, they would fit together.

“I won’t give up.  I want to make love to you.”

“At least once?” she countered.

He moved closer still.  “Once will never be enough for us.  You know that, too.”

She sighed, lightly, and her sweet breath lingered on his cheek for a moment before she moved away and broke the spell.

“My husband is waiting for me,” she said.  “You’re a little crazy, you know?  You need to forget about this.  I’m married.  I have kids.  I don’t have time for an affair.”

“Have lunch with me.”

“Sorry—too busy.”

“Just let me talk to you.  Give me two hours—maybe over the weekend.  Then if you never want to hear from me again, that’ll be it.  I swear.”

She didn’t say anything for a moment, as if she was considering it.  “As intriguing as that sounds, I’m afraid it’s impossible.  I’m going to the season opening at the Village Resort up in Hunter this weekend, with my best friend.”

“Your husband going too?” Kaleb persisted.

“No.  He has a previous engagement.  Not that it’s any of your business.”

He opened his mouth to answer but Mitchell’s voice rang out in the foyer.  “Edie—let’s go.  Where are you?”

She flashed Kaleb a warning look and called out softly, “Coming, Mitchell.”  Then she left, quickly, before her husband could see Kaleb standing in the shadows.


Author bio and links

Charlene Keel has written over a dozen novels and how-to books as well as multiple episodes of popular TV shows such as Fantasy Island and Days of our Lives.  Her Dell book, Rituals, was the basis for the first made-for-syndication soap opera.  Recently she co-authored The Tracks, a YA supernatural trilogy.  Shadow Train, the final installment, won a Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewer’s Choice Award.  Keel has also written screen adaptations of novels by bestselling authors, and has worked as editor or managing editor for a few international magazines.  In her spare time she ghostwrites books and screenplays for celebrities, doctors, corporate moguls, spies, strippers and anyone who has an interesting story to tell.

For more information:

Website: CharleneKeel.net -   http://www.charlenekeel.net/

Follow Charlene on Twitter - https://twitter.com/CharleneKeel

Charlene Keel on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/charlene.keel.1





Arie Pavlou is a popular chef who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and then perfected his craft at some of the top-rated Michelin restaurants in France and New York.  He has lived and worked in France, Cyprus and the U. S. and is an avid world traveler who speaks five languages.  He enjoys all sports and has a talent for knife-throwing, which he perfected at Le Cordon Bleu.  Currently Chef de Cuisine at the renowned Bridgehampton Inn in New York, his specialties include Caramelized Baked Alaska, Winter Salad, Roast Lamb Fondue, Wild Game and Poached Pears with Mint Ice Cream.  The Congressman’s Wife is his first novel, and he’s currently writing a cookbook.

For more information:

Arie Pavlou on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/arie.pavlou

Friday, July 29, 2016

Bussiest day ever for Brussels Airport

Today our natinal airport welcomed more than 90,000 travellers! This is more than ever before, and shows that the airport has recovered well from the terrorist attack of March 22nd.



The Belgians are not afraid to travel abroad, although they seem to avoid countries such as Turkey, Tunesia, Morrocco and Egypt. Spain and France remain the most popular destinies. We have gone to France and Italy this year already and will still go to Sweden and Hungary.

We also are not afraid of any possible attack. The fanatics of Isis can't interfere with our way of thinking and our freedom of speech and thought.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Paper flowers on the beach

Apparently, this is something truly Belgian: kids (or their mother, aunt, grandma) create paper flowers and sell them on the beach. The exchange money are handfuls of shellls. The first paper flowers would have been sold in the 1920s.



I fondly remember the days when my sister and I used to make paper flowers. Whenever there was a rainy afternoon, our mother, cousin Lea (who always came with us as sort of au-pair) and we two kids sat at the large kitchen table and began to make flowers. What you needed were green sticks (for the stems) and of course, paper. You could find it in many colors, but we only took those which also existed in nature. And I must say, we made quite beautiful flowers (double-layered and all). Then when you could go to the beach and set up your stall, you had to be careful not to be cheated and you also had to know the value of your ware. Our flowers were expensive, because they were much in demand. We sold them for at least 5 or 6 handful of shells (and took care that the other kid did not mix sand between the shells).

I suppose many kids learned the art of trade on the Flemish beaches, from De Panne to Knokke-Heist!

Btw, are there any other who know this custom?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Totally knackered

Yeah, this is supposed to be a holiday... Instead we're slaving away, because my sister got into her mind to remodel the dressing next to the bedroom.

And by slaving I mean dismanteling planks, pulling out nails and removing screws. You can guess, the previous dressing was home-made. Chris specializes in using existing material to create something new.

In first instance (this is already version 4, if I'm right) we had a very big dresser. We dismantled it, and used the almost everything of it to make a real dressing, completely to our liking. Chris can saw (rather) straight by using just a handsaw - the last time we had the boards and planks sawed at the shop and they were more crooked than the ones Chris did. My job is to fetch and carry (only good with words) and by pulling out nails that are a bit tough.

We worked all day long and only went to bed late. Now I feel a bit knackered. No work today, just enjoying the better weather and perhaps go walking or riding on the bike this afternoon.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Rio Olympics without doping?

Yesterday, we heard the news that even more sportsmen/women who competed in the London and Peking Olympics will lose their medal because they cheated by taking doping. There is a good chance that our Belgian 4x100 team will have gold instead of silver, because one of the Russian runners is among the doping suspects.

68 Russian althletes have negative results in a WADA drug testing. They made a report about it which is making the IOC consider to ban Russia from taking part in the next olympics.



I think it is a good thing the check-ups are getting better and better. Samples of urine can be held in store for 10 years, and by that time the officials can find most of the forbidden additons to have better results. This will (hopefully) prevent more sporters to take doping.

Why do you need doping? Why does you have to be so much faster than those a year before? Is it not enough to be just the best in a sport, even when your time is nothing to mention? And why should topsporters get so much money? In the old days you had olympics just for the honor of being the best. If it wasn't for the big money, doping would almost not exist.

What's your take?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

21st July

Today is for the Belgian what July 4th is for the Americans or July 14th for the French. It's our national day - the day when Belgium became a kingdom.

There is a big military parade in Brussels and at different places there are other festivities. Here in Knokke-Heist there'll be fireworks later this evening.

The long weekend has drawn a lot of people to the coast. Well, not only because they have 4 days off, but because the weather is co-operating. It has been sunny and warm for a couple of days already.

I'm glad it's not so warm anymore. I don't need temperatures over 30° Celsius. Now it is only 24-25° and that's more than okay.

Yesterday evening we went to a free muscic festival here in Heist. It's called Kneistival and it is held at the Hero Square, facing the promenade and the North Sea. We went to see The Proclaimers. It's always  nice to be able to see a good group perform for free! The two brothers Reid have grown a bit older, but they are still doing fine and their voices are like they used to be.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A work of mercy

"Healing the sick" is one of the works of mercy (for those who still know them....) - makes me think of my days with the army in Germany, when I and a couple of friends (inclucing the padre) were trying to find which was the seventh work of mercy. Never found the answer that night, probably because of too much booze! No wonder, when brandy and whisky only cost like 20 cents a glass in the officer's mess....

My sister is not feeling well (summer flu) and so I stayed home with her. Not much of a sacrifice, with these insane high temperatures. As I'm typing, sweat is dripping from my forehead onto my pc. It's too warm to to anything - but I did have a good appetite. Whatever the circumstances, I can always eat and enjoy what I'm eating. Tonight we had a vegetarian dish with lots of southern vegetables, feta cheese and quinoa.

How is the weather in your part of the world?






Monday, July 18, 2016

Heatwave

The weather in Belgium goes from one extreme to the other. Before we left for Venice, it was cold and rainy, more like winter than like summer.

But right now it is WARM. Problem is, the heat in Belgium is not easy to bear. It's humid heat and I can't stand it. I can easily walk and be busy when the temperature goes around 40° Celsius, as long as it is dry heat.



Ok, this means we'll stay indoors most of the time, until the weather changes a bit. It is supposed to be cooler (around 24°) later this week. Then we can take our bikes and make a ride, or go walking. Neither my sister nor I like to just sunbathe on a beach or next to a pool.

What about you?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mini trip to London

Those who read my blog should know by now that we love to spend some days abroad! So last Friday morning, we took an early Eurostar to London. The weather improved as we travelled. It was quite warm in London on our arrival.



We stayed right in the center of London, at The Trafalgar. Although our room faced the street and the busy square, it was so well isolated that we heard nothing of the outside noise (and also no background noise from the hotel, either).

We went mainly to see some shows (as I also explained more than once, buying tickets in the UK works better than buying them here in Belgium). We went to see Titanic  (great show) and yesterday night we went to see Ramin Karimloo who had a gig at the Palladium (theatre filled to the brink). He now has a show called 'Broadgrass' which is a mix of bluegrass music and Broadway tunes. Of course, he got most applause when he sang the songs from Les Mis or Phantom! He was accompanied by his pal Hadley Fraser and had Louise Dearman as guest.  And of course, he was surrounded by a great band!

For the rest, we enjoyed the nice weather there in London and also did some shopping. With the cheaper pound, always a good option.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What do do on a rainy afternoon

With our 'beautiful' Belgian weather (!) there is not a lot you can do to spend an afternoon when the rain doesn't allow you to go out.

So what do we do? We begin to remodel the bedroom. Some years ago, my sister decided she'd like a dressing in the bedroom, but when you have one custom-made it will cost you plenty. Because she's quite handy, she wanted to make it herself.



Using our fantasy, we broke out some old cupboards and used the side and planks to fashion a tailor-made dressing. We covered the old planks with foil so all looks the same. It looked well enough, but now after some years, my sister has spotted the minus points and wants to make them better.

So off again to the D-I-Y store to buy some extra planks (not easy, when you don't have a car). Yesterday afternoon we spent a couple of hours re-fashioning the part where our shoes and other stuff go. The idea is, to redo everything so the dressing will be as good as can be and doesn't need any more improvement. Better to do it now before we get too old, that's the main idea.

Any other handy people around?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

One trip cancelled, another booked

While in Venice, my sister got a mail from Ireland, in which she was told that the performance of Colm Wilkinson - for which we had booked seats - was cancelled and postponed to a later date. Unfortunately, that was in the middle of the week so we can't make it.

So, on returning home, we needed to cancel both our hotel in Dublin and the airline tickets. Experience has learned us never to book a hotel where you can't cancel until the day of arrival. Unfortunately, you can't do the same for airline tickets. But on calling Aer Lingus, we heard the tax would be returned. Better than nothing!

We had looked forward to Colm's concert. Alas, it cannot be. But two days ago, I heard that Phantom of the Opera will celebrate it's 30th anniversary by going to Paris and bringing there the first French version of the musical. And Sierra Boggess will take the part of Christine! She really is the best Christine ever - we saw her do it at the Royal Albert Hall in London 5 years ago, at the 25th Anniversary Concert. So we decided to go to Paris instead of Dublin and see that French "fantôme" version. The Thalys takes you to the French capital in only an hour, and we quickly found a suiting hotel. And we also very lucky to secure tickets central stage. (I always wonder how easy it is to book tickets for shows in other countries when in Belgium you never find them, or almost never!)


Already looking forward to it!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Luc

.I'm hosting a virtual book blast tour for the novel Luc, a temporary romance by J.M. Stewart by Crimson Romance.

For this occasion, the author will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/28e4345f1777


Blurb

After her husband’s death two years ago, erotic romance author Liz Anderson moved home to small-town Angel Bay to heal her broken heart. So when her best friend fixes her up with a single father ten years her junior, she doesn’t expect much. But this hot young chef is igniting her long-dormant passion.

With a three-year-old daughter to raise and a restaurant to run, the last thing Luc Rossi’s life has room for is love. After his fiancée’s betrayal, he isn’t sure he believes in it anyway. His colleague’s matchmaking attempt is awkward at best, but what can he do except play the gentleman? Liz ends up being smart, charming, and sexy, and he can’t resist her.

An offer to teach her to cook leads to a steamy fling, but this gorgeous older woman makes Luc wonder if it’s time to open his heart again. Can he convince Liz that giving their relationship a chance beyond the bedroom wouldn’t be a betrayal of the past she holds dear?

Excerpt

Halfway down the alley, he pivoted and stalked back in her direction. He glared at her, as if somehow all this was her fault.

“I was dying to let every single one of those guys know you’re mine.”

Liz could only stare, stunned. So she was right. He was jealous. What was worse, the intensity in his gaze sent a fierce yearning rolling through her belly in hot little waves. Daniel had looked at her like that once. Right before he decked some guy for making a pass at her.

Every limb shaking, she squared her shoulders, trying her damnedest to get her equilibrium back. It didn’t matter why he was behaving like a Neanderthal or how sexy he looked doing it. He had no right. “You do realize it’s going to be all over town by tomorrow?”

Something flashed across the recesses of his eyes that she didn’t catch before his jaw tightened and his expression blanked. He stalked to the end of the alley, where the blacktop met the sidewalk, and stared out at the street beyond. “It was all I could think of. The way he looked at you, I knew exactly what he was thinking, and you were standing there, frozen in fear.”

Liz folded her arms. It was a meager defense, but it was all she had left. “I wasn’t afraid of him. I could have handled him if I’d had to. My father was a police officer. He taught me how to take care of myself. So did my husband. I know self-defense, and I’m a damn good shot. I—”

Luc pivoted around, eyes wide with surprise. “You know how to shoot a gun?”

“Daniel insisted I learn. I have a nine millimeter, and I have a permit to carry concealed, though I’ve never had the guts to actually carry it on me.” She frowned, unsure who she was more irritated with: him for getting to her or herself for responding. “The point being, I could have dropped him if I’d needed to. But I didn’t.”

Luc cocked a brow, clearly challenging her assertion. “Then why did you look so panicked? Who the hell was that guy?”

She heaved a sigh. He had her there. Damn it. “An overzealous fan. He kept going on and on about my writing, and people were starting to stare.”

But that was neither here or there. It was past time to end this insanity.

“Look, I have no idea what to expect after a one-night stand. That’s essentially what we shared, isn’t it? So, I expected we’d said our goodbyes and we wouldn’t see each other again. When I didn’t hear from you, I figured we were going our separate ways. I get it. But I’m fairly certain that means you forfeit your right to be jealous. I appreciate the concern, but I’m a big girl. I can handle myself.”

Without waiting for a reply, she pivoted on her heel and stalked from the alleyway, heading for the safety of the booth as fast as her legs could carry her. Whatever the hell this was, she was backing out now, because alarms bells were sounding in her head.



Author bio and links

J.M. Stewart is a coffee and chocolate addict who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two sons and two very spoiled dogs. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily ever after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.
           
For more about JM or her books visit:



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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Our trip to Venice

We came back from Venice yesterday, with some of a delay Italian style. But we didn't mind. It was just one of the best trips ever!



We decided to go to Venice because we had to cancel another trip (airfares had become too expensive), so we used that budget to book the Venice trip. We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca island. We indulged in a little bit of luxury and took an executive room with view on the canal. And the hotel was worth it's money! Friendly staff, excellent service, a beautiful room... We could sit before the window and just watch all the boats on the canal.

This is something is really liked there. No car, everything by boat. The hotel provided a shuttle (boat) to San Marco and from there you could go anywhere. And the weather! Glorious sunshine after all those gloomy days in Belgium. Less mosquitos than in the south of France or Rome (only got bitten 5 times). Eating outside on terraces, enjoying what's on your plate and having a good glass of wine....



Some people say Venice is very expensive. Well, I don't quite agree. Of course, when you eat or drink something at San Marco square, you may expect high prices - we had a drink at Café Florian and it cost us some - but if you venture into the smaller streets, you'll find cheaper places (and good ones, too). We sometimes had a beer and it only cost 10€ for the two of us. You'd pay that in Belgium as well, especially in Bruges or any other tourist spot.

We also visited the isles of Murano and Burano in the laguna. It was interesting to see how the glass was blown and how figurines were made.



And the little island of Burano is quite picturesque.


I hope that one day we can return to Venice. It's a place I definitely want to see back.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This is the real holiday feeling

When on holiday, the best moments are those when you can relax. Yesterday evening we dined on a terrace next to the water - which was just lovely. And this morning we had a drink at the terrace of Cafe Florian. The prices there are not too cheap, but I think they are worthwile because you do enjoy being there.

Yes, Venice is more than we expected! We are staying in the Hilton on Giudecca and we have a lovely room with quite a beautiful ceiling. I'll tell more about this trip later on.




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summer coupe

vFor the coming holidays, my sister cut my hair extra short. It's very easy to have your private hairdresser - my sister is quite handy with almost everything! So I figured she could do my hair just as well as most professional hairdressers (most of them managed to ruin my hair, btw). And she does, but now I can get out of the house in the knowlegde I'm looking fine. And best of all, it doesn't cost me a single euro! When I got to a hairsalon, I'd pay like 40 to 50 € for just a wash, cut and dry.

A short haircut suits me, I think, I look younger than my 60 years. I'll post some pics later on this summer, when we have come back from one or other trip. And it's easy to manage when travelling: just wash it under the shower and let it dry, going with my fingers through it.

I used to have such short hair when I was a kid. But then I looked like a boy - once, during a school play, my own mother did not recognize me, as I was dressed as a little boy in our staging of The Girl With The Matches (I was playing her little brother).

Oh yes, when you're older memories of your youth easily come back!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Start of the long summer holidays

And so our long summer of leisure has started... Schools officially closed on June 30th (although most students were already home for a couple of days) and won't open again before September 1st.

It was extremely busy at the national airport in Brussels, as many people want to escape the bad weather and seek some sunshine.

We too have trips planned for this summer, to Venice (Italy), London (UK) and Stockholm + Visby (Sweden). At least in Venice we can hope for some sunshine!

The weather has been terrible up to now. Rain, rain and more rain. The first 6 months of this year have been the wettest since they began recording data in the 1800's. Although, this has also one advantage: the water sources and reservoirs are all filled up nicely.

But people get wary of all this rain. You'd expect some nice weather when it's May, June or July. Not every day, but here and there a couple of sunny days are not too much to ask for!

Well, the only thing we can do is hope for better times - perhaps we'll see some sunshine when it's Christmas?