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May 24

The Princess and The Shaman

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By Lillli McHale

The formerly divorced princess of Norway, Princess Martha Louise, released an announcement that stated she was dating the celebrity spiritual healer, Derek Verrett, publicly known as Shaman Durek. 

The Instagram post by the Princess released the information on the couple’s romantic nature stating: “@shamandurek has changed my life, like he does with so many. He has made me realize that unconditional love actually exists here on this planet. He embraces all of me without question or fear. He makes me laugh more than anyone, has the most profound wisdom to share and all the bits in between from the diversity of his being.” She continued on to say,  “I feel so happy and blessed that he is my boyfriend. Thank you my love, for including me so generously into your family. I love you from this eternity to the next… All I know at this moment is that we love each other and I am super happy.”

In response to the criticism the pair have received, Princess Martha rebutted, 

 “It is not up to you to choose for me or to judge me. I don’t choose my man to satisfy any of you or the norms or boxes you have chosen in your mind for me to be in. I don’t thrive there, nor do I exist in your illusion about me. I choose from love. And that’s it.”

Durek also posted his own photo on Instagram with a caption about their love connection stating, “There is a grace and beauty about life when you fall in love. Something softens in you that's unspeakable, however felt in the very depth of your soul. Then your eyes see more clearly yourself and everyone else with the same reflection the heart feels.” He continued on stating,  “This is what I feel from @princessmarthalouise, pure acceptance of my multidimensional self. Not just the Shaman, however the woman in me, the strong man in me, the little boy, ET, the jaguar, the scientist and the angel and more. All loved by this Goddess, who I honor and worship. Where I can cry in her arms when I'm sad or hurt and laugh about life and its many complexities. A strong woman who lets me be me without judgement or confinement.” 

He then went on to talk about how strong a women Martha is and how she is also an incredible mother to her three children with former husband and Norwegian author Ari Behn. The two split in 2016, after 14 years of marriage. The next year the Princess jokingly asked Santa for a new boyfriend that year with a meme. 

This year Durek talked about their relationship saying,  “When I was a teenager. my mother told me that one day someone from her heritage in Norway would find me and bring so much joy in my heart. I asked her 'who mother'? 'She said a princess'. I laughed and said 'ok a princess whatever mother your funny' Well she was right my kindred spirit found me. @princessmarthalouise of Norway.”

This May the pair started a five-city tour titled, “The Princess and the Shaman,” which seeks to speak on “challenging you to expand your horizon and will give you some tools on the road so you can get deeper into an understanding of who you are.”

This story originally appeared

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May 23

It Wouldn’t Be Prom Season Without #PromFail


By Lillli McHale

May 22

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It’s prom season again, and with it comes awkward-fitting tuxes and dresses and prom photos to prove it.   Twitter graciously collected them for us under the hashtag #PromFail and I share them here. 


































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First Date Car Crash Leads to the Prom

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By Lillli McHale

While most people look at Sean Bachman and IsaBela Santiesteban as just kids, the pair have survived a lot together. On their first date, the two got into a horrific car crash, which could have easily ended up ruining their newly beginning relationship. Instead, the two got to celebrate a little differently at prom this May. 

The two Gov. Mifflin High School students were on a large group date to a school dance in the beginning of the year but didn’t go out together until they grabbed ice cream on February 17th. Bachman had  "wanted to sort of feel out how she might react to me asking her to the prom,” but didn’t get to ask her out that night. Around 7:30 that fateful night, Bachman turned left when a car crashed into them. Bachman was sent to Reading Hospital suffering nine broken ribs, a concussion, a collapsed lung and several other broken bones. Bela received a minor spinal fracture, a broken rib and a lacerated kidney.

"[After her discharge from the hospital] Bela came to visit me every day at Reading Hospital, so I was starting to think she really does like me. I got to talking with some of the nurses about how to ask her to the prom," Sean reported to Reading Eagle. Sean got the help of some nurses and they created an X-ray of Sean’s broken ribs with the words, "I have broken ribs, don't leave me with a broken heart. Will you go to the prom with me?"

If that all sounds pretty similar to the old "RT Booklovers" convention, that's because both were organized and directed by JoCarol Jones, and now that the RT Magazine is gone, she has raised Book Lovers Con (BLC) to fill the gap. BLC is slightly scaled down from the heyday of RT, presenting a smaller, more curated group of authors (200 instead of over 700 at the peak), but with 1200 readers in attendance it didn't feel smaller. The parties were still huge and grand and the lines to get into many events still quite long. 

Next year's BLC will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from March 18-22, 2020. Early registration for those who attended BLC19 is open now, while registration for readers and industry professionals will open in June. For more information about next year or to sign up to get on the BLC newsletter, click here:

May 21

Book Lovers Con 2019 Recap


Author Cecilia Tan at Book Lovers Con 2019 in New Orleans 

By Cecilia Tan

May 20

The inaugural Book Lovers Con took place this past weekend in New Orleans, bringing together over a thousand readers and around 200 top authors of romance and YA, including Sylvia Day, Karen Marie Moning, Sonali Dev, Charlaine Harris, Christina Lauren, Farrah Rochon, Heather Graham, Jill Shalvis, Rebecca Zanetti, and many more. 


In the evenings, attendees were treated to lavish parties including Heather Graham's annual vampire ball, and a Faery & Fantasy banquet that was truly magical. Daytime programming included several tracks. Many of the daytime slots were filled with organized games and socials that let readers spend time with their favorite authors and get to know new ones--and usually collect free copies of their books, along with autographs, of course! In addition to all the books one could garner from various signings and giveaways throughout the days, every attendee received a goody bag stuffed with books and swag. Some reader events were presented by specific publishers, like Berkley, Entangled, and Kensington, while others were organized around genres of romance like small town or paranormal. Dreamspinner Press, the leading publisher of LGBT romance, hosted the big "Bookworm Blowout" party with dozens of authors across all genres mixing it up with fans and readers. 


Over 30 timeslots were also dedicated to the authors' professional development, with workshops and advice panels on writing craft, career management, and book marketing. And if that wasn't enough, one could always hang out in the audiobook listening lounge, craft cove, or perpetually busy hotel bar. 


If that all sounds pretty similar to the old "RT Booklovers" convention, that's because both were organized and directed by JoCarol Jones, and now that the RT Magazine is gone, she has raised Book Lovers Con (BLC) to fill the gap. BLC is slightly scaled down from the heyday of RT, presenting a smaller, more curated group of authors (200 instead of over 700 at the peak), but with 1200 readers in attendance it didn't feel smaller. The parties were still huge and grand and the lines to get into many events still quite long. 


Next year's BLC will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from March 18-22, 2020. Early registration for those who attended BLC19 is open now, while registration for readers and industry professionals will open in June. For more information about next year or to sign up to get on the BLC newsletter, click here:


Authors Cecilia Tan and Eden Bradley at Book Lovers Con in New Orleans,

vamping it up after Heather Graham’s Voodoo Vampire Ball.

Author Kate Allure meeting fans at the Contemporary Romance signing at Book Lovers Con.

Author Kate Allure meeting fans at the Contemporary Romance signing at Book Lovers Con.

Scarlet Johansson and SNL’s Colin Jost

are Engaged


By Lori Perkins


Marvel Studios

While we were all watching game of Thrones and marveling at Pete Davidson’s ability to write women we never imagined would even talk to him, Colin Jost was quietly beguiling Scarlet Johansson for TWO YEARS.  The Associated Press announced that the two have become engaged right before the GoT finale, so you may have missed it.

This is the third marriage for Johansson, 34. Her first marriage was to actor Ryan Reynolds. She later married journalist Romain Dauriac, with whom she has a daughter named Rose who was born in 2014.

This is the first marriage for Jost, 36, who is the co-anchor of SNL's Weekend Update.

The couple recently walked the red carpet together at the Hollywood premier Avengers: Endgame in which Johansson plays the recurring character of Black Widow, who is now rumored to be getting her own super hero movie.

No date has been set for the wedding, according to Johansson’s publicist.


May 19

Hallmark Channel Launches

Summer Movie Roll Out


Crown Media

By Lori Perkins

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Hallmark Channel has announced a series of romance flicks, which will premier every Saturday under their Countdown to Summer banner. This is the first time the Hallmark Channel has had  a summer movie premier season and they will offer a new original movie every Saturday in May.


Premiering this weekend is Sailing into Love starring Leah Renee and Chris McNally. The movie pits biology teacher Claire Richards against a developer who wants to build on Blue Island, where she is visiting as a bridesmaid. She reconnects with a former boyfriend who helps her in the fight and they fall in love.  The movie was filmed in British Columbia. 


The following weekend, May 25th, From Friend to Fiancé premiers, starring Jocelyn Hudon and Ryan Paevey. The plot of this movie revolves around Ted, who gets engaged to the high school mean girl and asks Jess, his childhood best friend, to plan their wedding.  Of course, things get complicated because Jess’ true feelings for Ted keep getting in the way.  Such a delicious romance trope is a must-see.













For Memorial Day, the Hallmark Channel brings us a Monday, May 27th premier of Love in the Sun starring Emeraude Toubia and Tom Maden. In this original Hallmark movie, a dating app creator finds her views on love challenged when she returns home to Florida and reconnects with her high school sweetheart. 


Crown Media

Crown Media

May 17


Abortion Comes to Romancelandia

By Lori Perkins

May 15

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After yesterday’s signing of the six-week fetal heartbeat bill in Alabama, national attention was focused on the shifting abortion laws in America.  Romance writers quickly took to social media to express their rage.  The Ripped Bodice, the only all-romance bookstore in the country, donated all proceeds from their monthly comedy night to The Yellowhammer Fund.


Historical novelist Jackie Barbosa is putting together an anthology #RomanceforRoe. 










Some people think that romance novels shouldn’t ever have a political point of view or thread, but others believe that what the genre is so powerful because of its ability to make the political personal in the name of love. 

Sarah Maclean, a NY Times and USA Today best-selling author and the romance books columnist at The Washington Post pointed out that the subject of abortion has been around the romance genre for a very long time.

Maclean put out a twitter call: “Hey all -- hit me with the best romances you've read where the heroine has had an abortion. #RomanceForRoe.”

Below are the twitter-sourced responses she received with the caveat that Maclean has not read them all (and neither have we).

The Boss, Book II by Abigail Barnette

Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau 

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Clean Breaks by Ruby Lang (heroine OBGYN counsels character on abortion on page) 

Flirting with the Camera by Ros Clarke

At Any Moment by Brenna Aubrey

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz

Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (YA, heroine works at PP, takes her BF to get an abortion)

An Enchanting Madness by Erica Taylor 

Rival by Penelope Douglas 

Laugh by Mary Ann Rivers 

Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

Return to Marker Ranch by Claire McEwen

Salt by Mara White

Parking Lot Cowboy by Rebecca Crowley

Rook by Riley Ashby

Spitfire Trilogy by Nicole French


Roll of a Lifetime by Melanie Green (Plan B)


Vixen by Jane Feather (Old school historical herbal Plan B) 


The Dutch Girl by Donna Thorland


Serena Williams Invests in a

New Luxury Bridal Store Company


By Lori Perkins

Superstar athlete, new mom and recent bide, Serena Williams, is one of the investors behind a new bridal concept store aimed at millennial brides that just opened in New York City in time for the 2019 wedding season.

Serena Williams said, "the experience of finding my wedding dress was incredibly memorable and meaningful to me so I'm thrilled to support Floravere's mission to make the luxury bridal industry inclusive and accessible to more women than ever before." 

Floravere’s collection of gowns and separates will anchor the space and brides can set up private appointments with a stylist on the brand’s website, through Instagram direct message, and via text. The key element of Floravere’s retail approach is rooted in personalization at every touchpoint of the customer experience. The bride’s favorite styles she’s pre-selected online will be waiting for her in a private suite when she arrives at the store, along with personalized details such as a digital wedding moodboard and custom playlist, all facilitated through Floravere’s digital questionnaire--a crucial step in building an intimate relationship with each of their brides. 

Co-founder of Floravere, Denise Jin, explained, "With our New York Flagship, we've created a retail experience that reflects how our bride actually shops: from IG to IRL. Every detail of the design--from the private bridal styling closet to the in-store retail technology--is guided by an understanding that today's millennial woman has done most of her research on us before she even steps through our doors. This offers us an unparalleled opportunity to craft a truly bespoke and memorable retail experience for each and every bride based on the rich data we have on her before she walks in the door." 

Brides can also discover all her other wedding related needs--looks and accessories for her engagement party, bachelorette, honeymoon, gifts for the bridal party, and beyond. The space is the first to offer a curated showroom for all the products a bride may need in her journey, including swimwear from Solid & Striped, travel essentials from Cuyana, jewelry and headpieces from Jennifer Behr, fine jewelry from J. Hannah and Ceremony, lingerie from Journelle, conscious beauty from Kosas, fragrance from Dedcool, and home decor from The Land of Belle. 

Floravere was founded with a mission to upend the legacy bridal industry and give a new breed of women access to luxury, style, and personalization, otherwise unattainable. ​Co-founder, Molly Kang said, “Until now, the bridal industry has been tethered by traditional, dated ideas of the 'blushing bride' marrying her Prince Charming. With Floravere, we're creating a brand and a space that speaks to our core belief that there is no ‘right’ way to be a bride. More than ever, she feels empowered to break the rules and do things her way when it comes to her wedding--from what she wears to how she approaches the entire day. And we felt that there wasn’t a brand that spoke to this very modern sensibility. Everything we do and all our products are designed to reimagine what it means to be a bride today.” 

Gachot used this contemporary sensibility as a starting point for the boutique design, crafting an experience for today’s bridal customers: independent, self-assured women who interact with brands online but also crave intimate, personalized experiences. Upon entering the space, the customer walks into the gallery that is furnished and styled to have a residential sensibility, with a wet bar, rounded velvet club chairs, a custom lacquered sculptural coffee table, a vintage rug, a Mid-century daybed and a white sculptural side table. The color scheme of the space is calm and serene, making use of soft blues, whites, camels, and pops of color throughout, accented with seasonal floral installations. 

In between the individual bridal suites and the gallery is the walk-in bridal closet conceived as the ultimate “dream closet.” The private suites have a dressing room and separate seating area for the bride’s friends and family, defined by a custom curved sofa and Enlee Parker glass and ceramic cocktail tables. Noguchi globe lights hang overhead to provide soft, flattering light, while vintage rugs sit below to provide the space with a sense of time-warn authenticity. This in-suite sitting area is a unique strategy for a bridal boutique, where most have one large seating area. Floravere's goal is to make the experience as intimate, personal, and relaxed as possible. 

The recently-opened flagship store is located at 18 Jay Street in New York City.



May 11


Some Suggestions for Mother’s Day Gifts

(You Could Buy Them for Yourself Too)

By Lori Perkins

Mother’s Day is a hard holiday for me.  I have an elderly mother who needs to be showered with attention and affection, and I’m a mom myself.  All I ever really want for Mother’s Day is to sleep really late and relax.


With that in mind, here are some of suggestions for gifts for the holiday (and buy at least one for yourself too).

Mantra Mask has created an assortment of five skin-nourishing beauty masks enriched with multi-tasking CBD oil. The facemasks combine naturally derived elements with one of the hottest beauty trends to create a mask with powerful skin healing properties. CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived from cannabis and well regarded for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature. Containing no psychoactive THC, CBD oil is 100% safe to use and contains all of the healing aspects of the plant with no euphoric “high.” Analgesic and vitamin-packed, Mantra Mask’s new CBD-enriched options carry cellular-regulating properties that help skin repair and rejuvenate naturally. The masks are just $15 each, but you can try all five or curate a personalized combination and maintain glowing skin with a monthly subscription box for just $35. You can order them online, but they will also soon be available at Urban Outfitters and Anthropology. Visit to shop and follow them on Instagram @MantraMask for updates and chances to score free products.  

In keeping with the cannabis-related relaxation theme, Urban Re-Leaf has created Coconut Wax candles that create a spa-like sense of serenity in your home. These infused cannabis candles are supposed to help with relaxation, but they can also help reduce anxiety and serve as a sleep aid. This product also does not have THC, so it does not give you a high.

There are nine scents to choose such as Calming Lily, Citrus Petals, Zen Garden, Havana Wood and others. The candles run $37 at






And while you are in the tub with the CBD relaxing candles and facemask, you might as well be reading.  I’m halfway through E.L. James The Mister, and I have to say this 400-odd-page story of an Albanian cleaning woman on the run from sex traffickers who bewitches an English Earl is quite a page-turner.  James is much better writing about the country she knows best. If you liked anything about Fifty Shades of Grey, this is better.

And if you want Mother’s Day nonfiction, What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence Edited by Michele Filgate is insightful reading on the mother/daughter topic.  Some of it is heavy-going (the editor basically started this book 15 years ago when she began writing an essay about being abused by her stepfather), but it is a touching anthology that will make you re-evaluate your own relationships. 

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Mantra Mask

Urban Re-Leaf

May 10

Ryan O’Neal Selling Andy Warhol Portrait

of Farah Fawcett


By Lilli McHale

May 9

At the height of her pop culture celebrity in the 80’s, Andy Warhol painted twin portraits of the Farah Fawcett. Fawcett died of cancer in 2009 (on the same day as Michael Jackson) and willed one of the paintings to her alma mater, the University of Texas, which tried, unsuccessfully, to take both of them.  Her ex, Ryan O’Neal, got custody of that Warhol portrait after a lengthily court battle that ended in 2013.


Now, he’s selling the portrait, which has an estimated value of between $20 and $24 million. O’Neal, 77, says he does not want to leave the portrait to his children (their son Redman, is currently serving time for a burglary, after numerous drug-related offenses) but would like it to go to an art collector, and is offering the portrait for $18 million. 

Fawcett and O’Neal, both sex symbols of their time (he for his role in Love Story; she for Jill Munroe character in Charlie’s Angels) had a tumultuous relationship for 30 years, but never legally married. Their relationship was a perennial cover story in People Magazine in its early years. Fawcett met O’Neal through her first husband, Lee Majors, also a sex symbol of the time, who played The Six Million Dollar Man.

Who knows, perhaps we’ll see Farah at the Met or The Broad in the near future!


What you Didn’t Know About the

J-Rod Engagement


By Lilli McHale

While A-rod and J-lo’s engagement might be old news--he proposed in March--Alex Rodriguez recently spilled that it took him THREE days to get the proposal right after much practice. He said he wanted to ensure that the sunset was going to be perfect for the special moment. 

If you think that three days is a lot to prepare for a proposal, you must not be proposing to someone like J-lo because A-rod actually admitted that it took him around SIX months of planning to get the moment right. 

While on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon he admitted he figured he was “in some trouble" due to a series of hints left by Lopez. She released a song called “El Anillo,” or “the ring” and did this in the midst of filming a romance movie Marry Me. 


A-rod admitted he forced his personal assistant to help him during the trial runs to make sure he got the sunset each time. Finally, the star said he wore his world series rings, because he only wears them for special times in his life and he knew this would be one of them. 

May 8

A Happy Potter Wedding Comes to Brooklyn

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By Lilli McHale

Brooklyn gained a little extra magic this February during the wedding of Anna Muehlenhaupt and Russel Moore as the two got married in a “Harry Potter” themed wedding. 


The couple’s reception theme was the great hall, which featured the four houses as table setting themes, and 600 floating candles. The guests even joined in on the fun dressing up as characters such as Malfoy and Luna Lovegood. 


Insider recently talked to the couple to get more details on the happy day. The bride had a lot of trouble finding what she deemed “classy pre-made Harry Potter party supplies,” so she had to make her own, which was no problem as she and her husband had experience working in set design. Family and friends pitched in, helping to paint portraits for the walls, folding flowers, making wands, and stringing the candles to make the event come together. Other details included, the hand of glory, Sirius’ motorcycle, Harry’s owl Hedwig, and the sword of Gryffindor. The goal was to make it look like the wedding was taking place at Hogwarts. 


The dress code was left open for interpretation, allowing people to take the muggle dress however they pleased. 


The couple said the Harry Potter wedding was not their first plan, but when they couldn’t afford their dream wedding, they turned to Harry Potter for a little inspiration, and the rest is history. 

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While the Empress initially declined the proposal, the Emperor remained consistent and the two finally got engaged in December of 1992. The Empress admits she was “not confident” before the engagement, as she would be the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Royal family. He then said to her, “You may feel anxiety and concerns about entering the Imperial family, but I will protect you with all my might for the rest of my life.” 




Their  “Kekkon-no-gi” marriage took place on June 9th of 1993 and about 200,000 people stood on the streets to view them in their newlywed parade.  

The pair had a daughter in 2001, but according to Japanese law, she will not inherit the thrown.  There is a male nephew who is slated to be the next emperor, although there is talk of changing the law.

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