Things We Love: Applebee’s Dollar Zombie Drink
By Lori Perkins
Today is the last day you can imbibe this rum punch of a blue zombie drink with a gummy brain floating in it, but it’s worth it.
As you may have guessed by now, I love these kitschy Halloween treats, and I managed to make it into my local Applebee’s during happy hour. I was afraid the drink would taste like the anti-freeze it looked like, but the pineapple, passion fruit, cherry and lime flavors with a generous helping of rum was surprisingly tasty. So tasty, in fact, that I had two.
So after a strenuous afternoon of trick or treating, treat yourself to one of these (instead of all that candy).
Guest Post: Favorite Halloween Romances
By Corey Alexander
I did a post at the end of 2017 recommending a bunch of fall and winter holiday romance, that included Halloween romances. This year, I am doing a separate post just for Halloween romance, focused on romance fiction where Halloween the holiday plays a major role in the story. I tried to give all new recs, but couldn’t resist including one from my prior Halloween list. You may also be interested in my Valentine’s Day themed recs list, or my list of witchy books on my TBR.
I tried a bunch of Halloween romances to get to this top twelve list (42 if I count correctly). They follow my tastes, in that they aren’t so spooky and aren’t horror, and generally lean toward cute, funny or sexy contemp. Most are novella length or shorter; I link to reviews where I have written them; that’s the place to find trigger warnings.
I’m listing rep at the end of my descriptions. If you spot something incorrect, please do feel free to let me know. Also, I am not intending to out anyone; I get author info from the web and the book bio. If an author would like me to remove any info listed, please do let me know. I want to note that I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor when listing rep, and use the word queer when a character or author identify that way or when I am unclear about their identity but know they fall under the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella.
For folks looking for romance with no on-the-page sex, I am putting three asterisks*** at the end of the description.
Bringing the Heat and the Humor
Mating the Huntress by Talia Hibbert (paranormal m/f romance novella) This is my most favorite of all the Halloween romances I’ve ever read. I adore the heroine so much, and found it hilarious, smoking hot, and full of heart. It disrupts shifter romance tropes in wonderful ways and is deeply about the importance of consent. I also just love how much the hero adores the heroine for being bloodthirsty and violent and strong. (Rep: Black woman MC. Black, Anglo-Romani, disabled autistic queer woman author.)
Her Halloween Treat by Tiffany Reisz (contemporary m/f romance novel) Full of 80s references this brother’s best friend romance balances heat, heart, and humor beautifully, and culminates in an 80s costume party queer wedding. The MCs have truly amazing chemistry, and I could not put this down. (Rep: Gay secondary characters. Bi woman author.)
Cozy Domestic Celebrations
A Little Familiar by R Cooper (paranormal m/genderfluid romance novella) Gorgeously written witch/familiar romance complete with long term pining, pagan community, a ghost, and so much cooking it made me ravenous. I fell hard for the genderfluid familiar, and had so many feels for the witch hero who thought he’d always be alone. (Rep: Gay MC. Genderfluid love interest.) (Or, if you’ve read this one, you may want to try the latest in the series, Nothing More Certain, a Halloween themed paranormal m/m romance, and equally full of long term pining.)
Halloween at the Corral by Debra St. John (contemporary m/f romance novelette) This has a full-on Halloween feel of the fun (not scary) variety, with lots of related activities (a festival, jack-o-lantern carving, a Halloween party complete with costumes, sexy roleplay based on the costumes), and a sweet (if fast-moving) romance arc between a rodeo star and a girl who doesn’t just want to be one of his many fans.
Trick and Treat by Cara Lockwood (contemporary m/f serial) In this 80s-soaked romance, a librarian dressed as Madonna circa Like a Virgin has a meet-cute with a vet dressed like Maverick from Top Gun, and sparks fly. This is full of heat and humor and a lot of fun, and it’s free! The last installment posts 10/30. (Rep: Biracial Japanese American woman author.)
New in Town by Annabeth Albert (contemporary m/m short story) I enjoyed this freebie (free through 11/2); it was a satisfying holiday romance, with family feels and costumes and a Halloween party and I especially loved the bits about queer SEALs and their families welcoming a new queer SEAL and his family and helping them get settled in a new place. (Rep: Puerto Rican Gay MC. Gay MC.)
Geeks and Acting
Ms. Behave by Cathy Yardley (contemporary m/f romance novella) I absolutely adored this latest edition to Yardley’s geeky romance series. This is a second chance friends to lovers romance between a lawyer and an actor who were best friends for most of their youth, had one intense bout of making out in high school and then were out of contact for years. It’s got this lovely romance arc that begins at a Halloween party, and a bi heroine who loves to wear suits that I fell really hard for. (Rep: Bisexual woman MC. Biracial Asian American woman author.)
Geeky, Freaky, Clueless by GG Andrew (contemporary m/f romance novella)*** The fourth in a series of Halloween romances, this romance between a college professor and his assistant director of the university’s production of Sweeney Todd is full of heart and humor and has a heroine I fell really hard for, who adores horror movies, and a hero who sees her value. As he puts it, “being with a girl like Vin would make it Halloween every day.” (She, on the other hand, spends a good portion of the book trying to figure out if he’s a serial killer.) (Rep: Indian-American woman MC.)
Second Chance by Audra North (contemporary m/f romance novella)*** This adorable second chance romance between a librarian and the guy she had a crush on in high school includes an overly helpful match-making ghost. (Rep: Biracial Asian American author)
All Hallow’s Eve by Annabelle Jacobs (paranormal m/m romance novel) This romance about descendants of witches, a haunted house, a spooky diary from the past, and a Halloween party gone very wrong grapples with the long term impact of queer hatred in a family of witches many years later, while also centering a rather lovely romance in the present day. This is definitely the spookiest of all the romances included on this list. (Rep: Gay MCs.)
Taking Kids Trick or Treating
The Ghosts of Halloween: A Learning Curves Short Story Collection by Ceillie Simkiss (contemporary f/f short story collection)*** This adorable trio of Halloween themed short stories revisits the heroines of Learning Curves, showing them grappling with Halloween costume emergencies, trick or treaters, and Halloween party surprises. I adored the way it integrated the kinds of Halloweeny issues that can come up for fat folks, folks with anxiety, and folks with ADHD. It was also just very sweet to revisit this lovely couple again. (Rep: Fat Puerto Rican lesbian woman MC with anxiety. Panromantic asexual woman MC with ADHD. Panromantic asexual woman author with ADHD and anxiety.)
Trick or Treat by Sydney Blackburn (contemporary m/genderfluid romance novelette) A genderfluid pansexual man answers the door for trick or treaters and meets a bi man who is taking his nephew around on Halloween. This leads to a one night stand, and the possibility for more. (Rep: Genderfluid pansexual man MC. Bisexual man LI. Genderfluid author.)
Things We Kinda Love: A Nightmare Burger with a Black Cherry Slushie
By Lori Perkins
Burger King has followed up their 2017 Goth Halloween burger with black buns with their new nightmare burger with a green bun. Playfully named The Nightmare King, the green burger is made with food coloring made from Watermelons.
Their marketing promises that the burger will give you nightmares!
According to an article in The New York Daily News, Burger King worked with the Florida Sleep & Neuro Diagnostic Services, Inc. clinic to study the results of 100 sleeping volunteers after eating the green burger. The brain activity of the slumbering volunteers was recorded over ten nights. Those who ate the burger before going to bed had a three and a half times more nightmares than those who did not.
And if that wasn’t enough to whet your Halloween appetite, the fast food chain is also offering a Scary Black Cherry Slushie made of frozen Fanta turns your mouth black.
Some Old Quirky Halloween Traditions
By Lilli McHale
When it comes to Halloween, the traditions are endless, and surprisingly Halloween is quite full of romantic notions. Ages ago, the idea of looking to any kind of fortune for the prophecy of marriage was no only accepted, but celebrated, especially on Halloween.
For example, fortune telling cakes were a popular tradition for many cultures. The Irish, for instance baked items into a bread in attempts to tell someone’s future relationship status. Finding a stick in the slice would mean an unhappy marriage, a ring meant an upcoming marriage, and a pea would mean no wedding in the near future.
At one point in time the pumpkin was not the star of the Halloween show. Instead the cabbage shared the stage with the pumpkin. It was used as another way to tell a girl’s fortune. A girl would steal a cabbage and put the cabbage over a door. Whoever the cabbage fell on was the man she would marry, in the tale. Additionally, the ends of the cabbage were picked to predict what someone’s future husband would look like.
While the cabbage is a food left in Halloween’s past, so is the hazelnut which was used for single ladies to write their crush’s names on. All the hazelnuts were then thrown into a fire and the ones that burned instead of popping were said to be meant for each other.
Halloween Was Once a Romantic Holiday
By Lilli McHale
While many people think of Halloween as a scary holiday, a century ago the holiday did not have the same connotation.
Instead, Halloween in the beginning of the 20th century was more focused on romance and the chance to peruse love. In the newspapers of the time, there were articles featuring approved of games to pay that emphasized the possibility of romance. The games all contained themes of love and its possibilities. At the time, Halloween provided a way for women to engage males in a less restrictive way. Marriage was such an important part of life for women at that time and finding the right kind of man was imperative. This holiday provided a less rigid way for the genders to interact and mingle.
Even the rituals of Halloween were different then they are today. Images of black cats, devils, and witches were meet with cut-outs of Cupid, another typical Halloween figure in the 1900’s.
Some of these “romantic” games that were played at the turn of the last century still exist today. For instance, what is now called “bobbing for apples” was once called “snap apple.” Snap Apple required participants to bite an apple using only their teeth while it was hanging from the ceiling, suspended by a string or ribbon. The first one to bite the apple would be the first to marry in the tradition of the game.
For more information on vintage Halloween customs, read this article https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/style/halloween-love-romance-history.html
Starbucks Announces 2018 Halloween Drink: Witch’s Brew Frappuccino
By Lori Perkins
I love this stuff.
Every year since 2014, Starbucks has offered a Halloween drink for one week, and this year it’s the Witch’s Brew Frappuccino on sale in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The colorful purple drink with green-tinged whipped cream is said to contain a purple blend of “toad’s breath” which according to those who visit often tastes like the orange crème Frappuccino. It has a swirl of “bat warts” added (chia seeds) and is topped with vanilla whipped cream with a dusting of green “lizard scale” powder.
According to the website, Witch’s Brew is “a powerful potion. Bewitched, it's true. One single drop and the curse will go poof…Toad's breath, swamp fog and goblin regret, divine. A mixture so scrumptious it must be a sign. Sip this sweet potion before it disappears, the Witch's Brew Frappuccino drink is nothing to fear."
The Starbucks Halloween drink tradition launched in 2014 with the Franken Frappuccino. In 2015 and 2016, they offered the Frappula Frappuccino. Last year, we got the Zombie Frappuccino.
Other Halloween offerings include spooky treats such as a Mummy Cake Pop and a Raccoon Sugar Cookie.
Dads We Love: Father Paints His Fingernails in Solidarity with 5 Year-Old Son
By Lori Perkins
This is one of those stories that unfolded on Twitter late Monday afternoon and I was just awed by this awesome dad, Aaron Gouveia, who writes a parenting blog, The Daddy Files, that now has 19,000 followers.
This Massachusetts Dad told the story of his 5 year-old son Sam’s first day in Kindergarten and how this gender-ignoring child loves trucks and sports and painted fingernails (because he thinks they’re pretty – I agree – I have red talons that I love). But when his son showed up for his first day of school with his painted red nails, all the kids in his class made fun of him, calling him names and telling him to take it off. He said that his son was devastated and told them to stop, but no one stuck up for him and when Sam came home he wanted to take his nail polish off immediately and never wear it again.
“I know these kids are only in kindergarten but this toxic masculinity bullshit is LEARNED. Learned most of the time from parents. So parents, I hope you’re proud. I hope this is what you wanted. I hope you’re satisfied,” Gouveia wrote on Twitter.
He then told his son he could remove the nail polish if he wanted, but he also reminded him that some of his favorite characters wore nail polish–Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Thor.
Then Sam’s older brother, who is 10, painted his nails in support of his younger brother, and Gouveia did his own nails in a pale lavender polish.
His tweets were shared with 15,000 people. Harry Styles sister Gemma Styles tweeted back that her brother loved to wear polish, and NFL star Martellus Bennett tweeted a picture of him getting his nails done.
Sam was “so relieved to see all the other men and boys out there who wear nail polish,” Gouveia said. “Because of that, he wore his bright red nails to kindergarten this morning. The Internet can be a cesspool at times, but it can also be life-affirming and wonderful. This is one of those times.”
He added, “I’m thrilled that we’re doing so much to empower young girls because that’s absolutely necessary and wonderful, but I feel like boys are still too constricted,” he said. “They can’t wear a dress or paint their nails or do ballet without all the accompanying negativity and so they stop expressing themselves. That’s the real danger of toxic masculinity.”
Things We Love: Haunted Halloween House for Your Cats
By Lori Perkins
OK, I admit it. I love Halloween. Every year I go and case the Target Halloween section and buy creepy stuff that I use all year long. We have salad servers that are skeleton hands and my Brillo pad holder is a skull.
But the feline Haunted House/Scratching Post at Target is the best thing I’ve seen in all my years of haunting this tacky seasonal section of the store. And it appears I’m not the only cat-loving horror fan. Target stores throughout the country are reporting that it’s selling out fast, but you can order it online.
This haunted cathouse (I couldn’t help myself) is made of cardboard with corrugated scratching boards on top of the house and inside. There’s a jingle ball inside to further entertain your cat. On the outside of the house are images of boarded-up windows with various signature Halloween art—Jack-o-lanterns, creepy eyes and ghosts.
It sells for $16.99.
Add a Little Romance to Your
Halloween Costume This year
By Lilli McHale
Every year, Halloween seems to get more and more hype, and this year is no different. For those who want to really knock their costume out of the park this year, here are some amazing looks.
After Meghan Markle’s amazing royal wedding to Prince Henry in July, easily one of this year’s biggest events, it’s no surprise that Markle’s dress will be an amazing look to replicate. With her dress spawning hundreds of knockoffs in the months since the event, it’s not too hard to find a copycat look. All this costume needs is a white boatneck top, a fitted skirt, a tiara, veil, and ring!
For those romantics who have been enjoying The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Maisel’s signature look is a great costume option! In order to achieve the 1950’s housewife ensemble employ color coordination, preferably pink! Accessories are also key to this outfit, so look for satin gloves, a beret-type hat, or a small top-handle purse.
Lara Jean Covey from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is super cool and fashionable. The best part about dressing like her for Halloween? You’ve got a ton of her staples already so you probably won’t need to go shopping! All Lara-wannabe’s need are some scrunchie’s, high-top sneakers, and A-line miniskirts (preferably corduroy).
Blake Lively’s style as Emily in A Simple Favor fulfills the trendy use of suits that are super easy to find for women now! Emily’s tux-like outfits require a black blazer with matching pants, a sleek white button-down, and a gorgeous bow-tie. To really channel Emily, carry around a martini glass and be elusive.
Things We Love: FAO Schwarz to Reopen in NYC
By Lori Perkins
FAO Schwarz was the rich kids toy store when I was growing up in New York City. My parents would take me there, but it was more of a museum than a toy store full of expensive china dolls, amazing dollhouses, life-size stuffed animals and real cars for kids. We shopped at Gimbels and Macy’s.
When my son was young, we took him there too, but even with two middle class incomes, we couldn’t tell him he could pick what he wanted. It was after the movie “Big,” so we always played the piano with him.
And then, three years ago, it was gone, after 150 years in business. FAO Schwarz was a NY tradition, and the oldest toy store in the country.
And now, it’s coming back.
A new (and improved) version of the story will open in Rockefeller Center at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in November, just in time for the Christmas rush. The new location should bring in the crowds wonders as people throng into midtown to look at the Christmas windows and the tree.
According to press releases, part of the company’s new strategy is to bring a “sense of theater” to the store, which will include costumed employees, magicians and dancers, and product demonstrators. Maybe even toy soldiers.
FAO Schwarz has branded an entire campaign around the re-opening, dubbed “Return to Wonder.”
Missouri College Band Member Proposes to Band-member Girlfriend on the Football Field
By Lori Perkins
To make the homecoming game between the NCAA Missouri Tigers and the Memphis Tigers even more special, a member of the band got down on one knee to propose to his shocked band-member girlfriend right on the football field.
Maybe the proposal was good luck for the football team. Missouri sprinted out to a three-touchdown lead over Memphis in the first quarter and won the game 65 to 0.
Daughter Surprises Mom by Wearing Her Mom’s Vintage Wedding Dress at Reception
By Lilli McHale
When Liz Mylin got married at the Country Club of York in Pennsylvania on August 18th to Karl Rice she wore a Martin Liana gown for the ceremony that she had purchased in August of the previous year.
Shortly after she bought the gown, Liz had tried on her mother’s old wedding dress that was still hanging in a closet 40 years after her own parents’ wedding. To the surprise of both of them, the gown fit perfectly! Liz’s mom, Cindy, couldn’t get over it and talked about it repeatedly to Liz, and she even mentioned it the night before her daughter’s wedding.
Liz’s aunt, who had heard about the gown from Cindy, suggested that Liz wear the dress at the reception. As dinner was finishing up, the DJ instructed the guests to look at the door for Liz’s big entrance. He then announced that she was wearing her mom’s original wedding dress. As Liz’s parents saw their daughter in the dress Cindy had worn in 1979, the pair got emotional. Cindy gasped, and her eyes started to well up. The bride then shared her first dance with her father to “Isn’t She Lovely.”
Liz revealed that, “Wearing my mom’s wedding dress was about tradition, a strong marriage, and honoring the beauty and strength of my mother” on photographer Ashley Elizabeth’s site. She added, “It was also about the respect I have for both of my parents, and the love, friendship and laughter I hope to share with my husband for a lifetime.”
This story first appeared here, https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/bride-surprises-mom-by-wearing-her-wedding-dress_us_5babb292e4b082030e7769ae?guccounter=1
Jared Kushner’s Brother Marries Super Model Karlie Kloss in a Mid-Week Wedding
By Lori Perkins
The celebrity weddings just don’t stop, although this one is a bit off the beaten wedding path.
Jared Kushner’s “very liberal” younger brother Josh, 33, married his equally liberal Super model fiancé Kloss, 26, on Thursday evening in a “small” Jewish ceremony of approximately 80 people in upstate New York after a four-month engagement.
The guest list was kept a secret (rumor has it her friend Taylor Swift was invited), but the newlyweds are expected to throw a second, larger celebration in the spring.
Kloss, the host of Bravo’s rebooted Project Runway, wore a custom-made Dior gown.
Kloss was a prominent Hillary supporter in 2016 and her husband is a Democrat.
The couple has been together since 2012, and Kloss converted to Judaism in June.
A Real Witch Reviews Charmed
By S. Giron
This review of the reboot of the television show Charmed is written without the benefit of nostalgia glasses, as I have never seen a single episode of the previous version. I also would like to mention that since I don't receive the channel that aired Charmed on Sunday, I had to find it on the Internet and the version I found that was legal to watch in Canada had commercials every two or three minutes in clumps of five so the tension and suspense was broken over the nearly two hours it took to watch which may have affected how I experienced the first episode of the Charmed reboot.
I went into this show cold. I knew nothing about the story except that it involved a couple of teenagers who did witchcraft, so I was ready and open for any ride that the writers wanted to throw at me.
Right away I realized that none of the main characters were very charismatic and I didn't feel engaged with them at all, except for the mother. However, mom dies very early on in the episode and since I don't know anything about the story, I don't know if she will ever come back. What mom was doing before she died was very cool and, as someone who has a fear of birds, I must say I was properly creeped out with all those crows flying around.
I'm not going to give too many spoilers as you should form your own opinions and enjoy the show on your own terms.
The episode opens with two sisters and they look kind of alike except they have an obvious age difference, and one is in a lesbian affair. Before the first episode was over, there is a third sister joining the group and they've all come to realize that they are witches, or at least gifted with some sort of power.
The issues I had with this episode stem from a lot of telegraphing about what is to come, and the fact that the three sisters just didn't interest me at all. Perhaps the three sisters just didn't have the proper chemistry between them. I never believed that they actually were sisters or even related except for the fact I couldn't tell two of them apart half the time either by their looks or by their acting. Hopefully, once they get a few episodes under their belts, they’ll relax and the actors will be able to construct engaging and realistic characters that their audience can identify with.
The show seems to be want to be about women taking power and that's all fine and dandy but even for a woman such as myself who really enjoys stories about the occult and women’s issues, I just really felt like I was being punched in the face every three seconds with social justice warrior situations. Everything from the #MeToo movement to “he said/she said” to pink pussy hats and more is thrown in our face without one ounce of subtlety.
Although women’s issues are a concern, not everyone who watches the show lives in the United States or suffers the issues of the United States and this is part of the problem of much of the entertainment that is coming out of the United States these days. In stories that are fantasy such as Charmed, the audience wants to be able to forget about the real world and enjoy the magic and power of fictional characters and how they are able to manipulate their own worlds. Constant reminders of America’s current political situations doesn't make for fun and relaxing storytelling.
Picking one issue to tackle per episode wouldn't feel as in your face as this particular episode that had every single current event in it no matter which way you turned. Certainly the writers were trying to make sure that the teenagers who the show is geared towards understand that there are issues in the world that they should be aware of and engaged in, and that's admirable, yet again, this is fictional entertainment and we really just want to be entertained.
There were some cool scenes such as the aforementioned birds being called by the witch, and then at the end of the episode there was a monster that was pretty cool looking as well.
Hopefully the show won't be a battle of the sexes every week because that, too, can get tired fast.
One of the female characters is violent towards a boy in this episode. This is a trope that is often used and has been used since movies began. There is this idea that a woman can slap or hit a man and the man will do nothing but take it because “all men are gentlemen.” This is a very false image to give to women today. In my own experience, 90% of the time men will hit back or be violent in some way towards a woman who humiliates them by physically assaulting them about something. It's not safe for a woman to lash out a man, especially when men are bigger than women, and a show like this that encourages this idea, that the man will do nothing and the woman will just be taken into the chambers to be dealt with by the administration, is a false way to present the situation. Yes, the character was punished but again it’s a matter of safety, and I think that teenagers should be aware that no one should be hitting anyone because the person may hit back twice as hard and then some real damage can be done, whether you are a witch or not.
It will be interesting to see how the witches develop their powers and how they use them to better their lives and to better the lives of those around them. I'm also curious to know what the over arcing story for the whole series might be since I don't know for sure what the mother was all about, and if she is dead forever, and what secrets might be unravelled as we go forward in the story.
I'll watch Charmed again to see what happens and hopefully it will pick up and become more interesting. I give it three broomsticks out of five.
Lady Gaga Announces Engagement in Passing while Accepting her Elle Women in Hollywood Award
By Lilli McHale
Dressed in an over-sized Michael Kors suit for women and speaking about how hard it is for women in Hollywood to be their authentic selves in a world that objectifies and demeans them, Lady Gaga casually mentioned that he was engaged to CAA music agent Christian Carino by referring to him as her “fiancé.”
The performer, who’s soundtrack album to A Star is Born is currently the number one soundtrack, and who is receiving rave reviews and projected Oscar nominations for her acting role in the movie, delivered a powerful emotional speech to accept her award at Elle’s Women in Hollywood Awards ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hilton.
“We are not just objects to entertain the world,” she said. “We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public. We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world, and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.”
She explained that when she put on the suit, “I began to cry. In this suit, I felt like me today. In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut. … As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants.”
Harry and Meghan Announce Royal Pregnancy and the British Place Bets
By Lori Perkins
There was speculation at Princess Eugenie’s wedding last weekend that the Duchess of Sussex was looking expectant, but the newlywed royal couple waited a few days to allow Kensington Palace to announce the news that they were expecting their first child.
Harry and Meghan’s child will not be a titled prince or princess. According to The Express, their oldest child will be given one of Harry’s subsidiary peerage titles. Their first son would become the Earl of Dumbarton, one of the titles the Queen gave to Harry on his wedding day. If they have a daughter, she would be Lady Mountbatten-Windsor, and any subsequent sons will be named Lord Mounbatten-Windsor.
The English love to gamble so the announcement of the new royal baby came with odds from local bookmakers on the sex of the child and the baby’s name. According to The Express, Ladbrokes, one of the U.K.’s leading online betting institutions, placed current odds for a baby by at are 10/11 and evens odds that it will be a girl.
With a spring due date, the odds are just 25/1 that he or she will be born on Prince Louis’ birthday, April 23.
Ladbrokes has also put odds on potential baby names and Victoria that leads the list with odds of 8/1, with Elizabeth coming in at 6/1. For a boy, Albert, Arthur and Philip follow close behind if Meghan gives birth to a little boy.
However, the oddsmakers did note Meghan is American, so there’s the possibility that the couple could go for something less regal.
It’s Splitsville for Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson
By Lori Perkins
This whirlwind five-month romance just came to a crashing halt.
It was fun to watch this SNL comedian son of a fallen 9/11 fireman romance a world-renowned pop star. We can imagine he was even supportive in helping her recover from the emotional fallout and post traumatic stress of the massive bombing at the Manchester Area the year before that killed 500.
We loved watching this romance because it was so improbable, so it’s really no shock that the pair announced that ultimately things just didn’t work out. Of course, there’s tons of speculation that the recent death due to drug overdose of Ariana’s ex-boyfriend Mac Miller was just too overwhelming for her, as she even cancelled some of her gigs.
But does Ariana get to keep the $100,000 engagement ring Davidson gave her? Will she ever sing “Pete Davidson” in pubic? And what will she and Pete do about their matching tattoos?
First Words Man Hears Upon Regaining Hearing
is a Proposal
By Lori Perkins
Hayward Duresseau lost his hearing after a bout of meningitis. His long-term partner, Kerry Kennedy, nursed him back to health, learning to communicate without talking.
The first words Hayward heard when his hearing was restored with cochlear implants were Kerry proposing to him. Of course, he said “yes!”
A video of the touching moment has since gone viral
Here’s the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJmQIPe7f4Y
Another Royal Wedding: Princess Eugenie Marries
By Lori Perkins
Forget Brexit. We have another royal wedding to distract us, plus Fergie showed up in an unflattering green hat.
On Friday, October 12, Princess Eugenie (Sarah, the duchess of York aka Fergie, and Prince Andrew’s youngest daughter) married her long-term partner, Jack Brooksbank at St. Georges chapel in Windsor, the same church that her cousin Prince Harry married Megan Markel just months ago.
The star-studded wedding spanned the guest list gamut from the Queen to actors Demi Moore and Liv Tyler and models such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Cara Delevingne, as well as Ricky Martin, with music by Andrea Bocelli.
The couple met 2010 while Brooksbank was working behind a bar in Verbier, a ski resort favored by the royals. Eugenie said it was love at first sight.
Brooksbank, 32, currently works as a representative for a tequila brand launched by George Clooney. Eugenie, 28, is employed as a director at the London art gallery Hauser & Wirth.
The bride wore a low-backed gown by British-based designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos — which was cut to show the scar from scoliosis surgery she had as a child — and a diamond-and-emerald tiara loaned by her grandmother, the Queen.
B.D. Wong Marries Husband Over the Weekend
By Lori Perkins
After eight years of dating, B.D. Wong, 57, married John Frederickson Schnorr, 35, in a Jewish wedding ceremony on the Brooklyn waterfront this past weekend.
The two met at a mixer for singles organized by a dating site in 2010.
B.D. Wong is known for so many roles – the scientist in Jurassic Park, his Tony-Award winning performance in M. Butterfly and decades of appearances as Dr. George Huang on SVU.
Schnorr is the Director of Digital Media for the New York Pubic Library.
Wong was previously in a 16-year relationship with talent agent Richie Jackson which ended in 2004. They share an 18 year-old son, Jackson Foo Wong.
Stormy Daniels and Leonore Fini: Groundbreakers
By Camilla Saly
Stephanie Clifford, a/k/a Stormy Daniels had a book signing on October 8th at New York City’s Museum of Sex, and I went. My friend Veronica Vera, 1970’s porn star and famous activist for sex workers’ rights, had invited me.
When Veronica and I arrived at New York City’s Museum of Sex, there were already people waiting outside for the chance to see the woman who might just become the one who brings down a President. It was drizzling lightly, and I was afraid we’d get wet – I’d forgotten an umbrella –but instead we were whisked inside and given the VIP treatment. It was because of Veronica. Veronica is perhaps most famous for her academy, Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls. She has been a pioneer and supporter of the trans and cross-dressing community for 25 years. Her most recent book Cross Gender Fun was recently published.
We were told it would be another 40 minutes or so before Stormy would be arriving, so Veronica asked if we could go upstairs to see an exhibit in the meantime. We were immediately given wrist bands and pointed in the direction of what Veronica was interested in seeing: “Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire – 1930-1990.”
There are days when something really special comes your way, something that hasn’t been on your agenda or your radar. This was such a day. Leonor Fini? I’d never heard of her. Who knew she was a female surrealist painter and performance artist, famous in her day, and friend of Max Ernst, Salvador Dali and Jean Genet, and photographed by Henri Cartier-Bresson? I’d never heard of any female surrealist artists, and I have been a fan of surrealism for my whole life. Turns out, admirers of her work have included Andy Warhol, Madonna, Kim Kardashian West and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the head of the fashion house Dior.
Leonor Fini’s work was astonishing – and fabulous. The exhibit included many paintings and drawings, including illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s famous book of poems, Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil). It also featured art films Fini co-created, in which she starred.
A proud bisexual, Fini refused to be categorized by gender norms. Neither did she characterize herself as a “muse” for other, male, artists. Rather, she was an artist who expressed herself creatively as she wished, passionately and without kowtowing to the men of her day. Throughout her life she created self-portraits in which she appeared as in many forms, including as a warrior, a sphinx, and a dominatrix. Her art explored the masculine and feminine, dominance and submission, eroticism and humor.
Fini’s lifestyle also flouted convention. Two men, an Italian Count, Stanislao Lepri (who left his diplomatic career to be with her), and the Polish writer Konstanty Jeleński, devoted themselves to her for life. The three lived as a triad in Fini’s Paris apartment from 1952 until the two men passed away in the 1980’s. Fini outlived them, dying at the age of 88 in 1996.
Stephanie Clifford, a/k/a Stormy Daniels, too, has flouted convention, creating herself as a porn star/director and now political activist and defender of women’s rights. Stormy, like Leonor Fini, is an unapologetic creator of her own life and art. Her newly published memoir, Full Disclosure illustrates that.
In her televised interviews, Stormy has shown that she is unashamed of her choices in life, and proud of her hard work. She’s dedicated herself to telling the truth not only about her experiences with the current President, but also when describing her journey in life and how she’s chosen to make a living.
When Veronica and I got downstairs again, our hearts full of inspiration from Leonor Fini, Stormy was ready to sign books, and we were delighted to find we would be the first in line.
As we waited for the signing to begin, we witnessed “Miss Clifford” and her team, which included bodyguards and other minders, do a quick group handholding hug and a cheer for “Team Stormy!” Then the velvet ropes were drawn back and first Veronica, then I, got a chance to spend a moment with the woman who has become an inspiration to many in the #MeToo movement.
Stormy was friendly, smiling, and glad to see everyone. She spent a few minutes talking with Veronica. They had a personal connection because Stormy had been one of the sponsors for an event that Veronica organized called “Pleasure Activist Sunday,” which was a fund-raiser for Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Judson is "a sanctuary for progressive activism and artistic expression, drawing members from a variety of religious traditions,” according to their website. Stormy and Veronica hugged, and then Veronica gave her a thank you card.
Then it was my turn, and I could simply say, “Thank you, Stormy, for what you’ve done and are doing for women.” She put her arm around me and her staff snapped a pic. What a wonderful evening celebrating ground-breaking women!
This is an article about the current exhibit https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/leonor-fini_femme-assise-sur-un-homme-nu_1942_private-collection.jpg
Things We Love: Fashion Report From
London and Paris
By Lori Perkins
I’ve always said that part of what Romance Daily News would report on was things we love, and that could even be things we love to wear.
I just got back from two weeks in London and Paris and realized that I hardly saw a single pair of high heels on the tube or the metro. The women of London and Paris aren’t wearing flats or sneakers. They are all wearing ankle boots. So, heads up, we’ll all be wearing ankle boots this winter too.
You don’t have to go to Galleries Lafayette (the fancy turn-of-the-last-century department store in Paris with a stained glass window as the ceiling!) to be part of this trend. One of the biggest (and most popular) retailers in London is Primark (sort of a British Target) where you can get pretty good copies of designer clothing at a fraction of the price. The even better news is that there are Primark stores throughout the north east – (good news for me is that there’s one in Brooklyn and Staten Island!) Unfortunately they don’t seem to deliver.
This boot runs about $14.50.
This one is even cheaper (and seems to always be sold out in the stores).
Daughter of President Bush Married in Secret Ceremony in Maine on Sunday
By Lori Perkins
Seems that secret weddings are all the rage. This weekend former first daughter Barbara Bush, 36, got married to her fiancé Craig Coyne, 37, in a small, secret seaside wedding at the Bush summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. The secret ceremony was short and sweet with about 20 guests including former President George W. Bush, former First Lady Laura Bush, former President George H.W. Bush, and family members from both sides.
Barbra Bush was escorted down the aisle by two former presidents, her dad and grandfather, while her aunt, Dorothy Bush Koch, performed the service. The bride’s twin sister, Jenna Bush Hager, was the matron of honor with her two nieces and the groom’s niece as flower girls. The mother of the bride also did a reading. The groom’s brother was the best man, and his mother and sister also read at the wedding.
According to a press release from Vera Wang’s bridal label, Barbara Bush wore a custom-designed wedding dress made of ivory silk crepe that featured spaghetti straps and a cowl-draped neckline accompanied an Italian tulle floor-length cape and a floor-length Italian tulle veil.
According to People, the bride wore a bracelet given to her by her recently deceased grandmother. “It’s really sweet," Bush said. "The ‘something borrowed’ that I’m wearing is this bracelet that my grandfather gave to my grandmother on their 70th anniversary."
This is a first marriage for both members of the couple, who were introduced through a blind date in November. They became a couple on New Year’s Eve and a proposal followed fairly shortly thereafter. The groom proposed in Kennebunkport during the summer in the same location that Former President George H.W. Bush proposed to Barbara Bush 75 years before.
The bride is a Yale graduate who co-founded the public health nonprofit Global Health Corps. Coyne is a screenwriter and actor from Georgia. She and Coyne will reside in New York.
Love in the Apocalypse:
Queen Carol and King Ezekiel?
By Lori Perkins
I don’t think anyone who watches The Waking Dead saw the romance between Carol and King Ezekiel coming because, like TWD super fan Yvette Nicole Brown, we were all rooting for Carol and Daryl (that ship has such a nice rhyme to it).
But there it was!
A long kiss (too long according to Norman Reedus, the actor who plays Daryl, as he discussed the scene on an episode of Talking Dead) after a near-death experience clued us in to the possibility of this relationship’s existence. And a few minutes later, we witnessed a proposal from King Ezekiel complete with an engagement ring. Of course, Carol kind of turned him down with a “not yet,” leaving plenty of room for Queen Carol and King Ezekiel to become the power couple of season 10, when we know Rick Grimes is going to be leaving us, and Michonne.
Actor Melissa McBride gave an interesting perspective to Carol’s reasoning for the pause about accepting the proposal. She supposed that Carol was just not ready to open herself up to romance after all the loss she had experienced.
I’m eager to see where this plot thread goes, as I’m a sucker for zombie romance, but right now I’m looking forward to the voyage of the good ship EzeCarol or Carekiel?
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck
Divorce Finally Signed
By Lori Perkins
Anyone who has ever gotten a divorce, or who knows someone who has been through a divorce, knows that sometimes it takes almost as long as the marriage to finalize the divorce, especially with a marriage that includes child custody and complicated finances.
As romance readers and authors, we can all feel sadness and empathy for Jennifer Garner as she signs her final paperwork legally ending a very pubic marriage to Ben Affleck that lasted 10 years, and produced three children (and all sorts of interesting speeches and incidents). The divorce process took three years, and is still not quite over, as the signed documents have to be approved by a judge, which should be completed by the end of the year.
During the three years of separation, we watched the two of them un-couple as they took their family on joint vacations and dealt with Affleck’s drinking. According to People Magazine, one of the reasons why the divorce process took so long was that Garner needed to wait until she was relatively certain Affleck could stay sober. Affleck finished his latest rehab program last week.
We can only hope she finds a second chance at love.
Olympic Ice Hockey Rivals Wed
By Lilli McHale
Meghan Duggan and Gillian Apps got married in Maine this September. What makes their story special is their rivalry.
Apps is the granddaughter and daughter of NHL players. She played in the Olympics for team Canada on their women’s hockey team and won three gold’s in Sochi, Vancouver, and Torino. Of those gold medals, two were earned against her longtime-girlfriend and eventual wife, Meghan Duggan. Duggan finally won a gold this Olympics as a team captain, but Apps had already retired. Yet, Duggan still calls her wedding the best day of her life.
Bridesmaids included hockey players, Kacey Bellamy, Brianna Decker and Erika Lawler.
Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the only relationship hockey player romance that spans across boarders; retired players Caroline Ouellette, of team Canada, has been in a relationship with Team USA’s Julie Chu since 2005.
This story originally appeared in https://deadspin.com/team-usa-hockey-captain-marries-canadian-rival-bringin-1829388048
An Interview with Lorraine Heath
This month, Bluestocking Banter interviews Lorraine Heath.
RDN: As you know, I’m the author of the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London, so what fascinates me about historical fiction writing is what about a period or a place inspires you.
Lorraine: I like writing books set in the Victorian era because it gives me such a broad canvas with which to work. If I need a darker setting, I go to the early Victorian period. For a more modern feel, I go to the later part of the period. But by researching the entire period, I’ve gained an understanding of how things changed during those years so I have a history that helps me understand the later period. I also like to write both American and British characters so if I want to bring an American lady to England, there was a mad rush beginning around 1874 of American ladies looking for English lords and impoverished English lords in want of American heiresses—so this period allows me reflect both American and British history.
RDN: You’ve told me that you’ve used some interesting settings for your stories, such as Madame Tussauds, the London Zoo, and the Great Exhibition of 1851. Have you had the pleasure of staying in historical places?
Lorraine: For the most part I’ve only read about the places that I have featured in my books, although I have stayed at a couple of historical hotels—the Mercer in San Antonio, the Driskill hotel in Austin, the Palace Hotel in Eureka Springs, the Palmer House in Chicago. I love staying in historic hotels. While it is not famous, I have also stayed at a Scottish hunting lodge in Perth, which was a wonderful experience. The Driskill did make an appearance in Texas Splendor, but even if a historic site isn’t used, it helps to create the ambiance for whatever fictitious hotel I might create.
RDN: I love staying in historic hotels too. So much history. So many lives and their real-life stories that have walked through the old halls. Do you do a lot of research to inspire you or does it work the other way around?
Lorraine: I seldom research a specific book before I sit down to write it. Until I start writing the story, I don’t usually know what I need to research so I do a great deal of research while writing. If I did my research before writing a story, I’d probably never get a story written because I enjoy the research and tend to fall down rabbit holes. Although it is usually when I am down those rabbit holes that I will find a tidbit of information that becomes the seed for the next story. For me, research is a fluid process, always happening.
RDN: Even though you combine writing and research into one step, has anything ever turned up in your research that resulted in your changing the direction of your story?
Lorraine: I have often changed the year of my story in order to use a particular fact. For example, in Texas Destiny, I needed the railroad to have just reached Fort Worth so my heroine could easily get to Texas but I needed to ensure she couldn’t get beyond Fort Worth because I needed my hero to have to transport her to West Texas. I started writing the story but didn’t know the exact year until I began doing my railroad research.
RDN: Let’s talk about your characters, specifically your male ones. Do you have a favorite hero?
Lorraine: Oh my goodness. I love all my heroes. I wouldn’t have written them otherwise. I have discovered that I tend to write a hero who I need at a particular time in my life so it really depends on what’s going on around me as to which hero I might like to meet in person or revisit. My characters do often make cameo appearances in other books so we keep in touch.
RDN: Have you ever changed a storyline because the developing character took you in a different direction?
Lorraine: I have. Sometimes what I envision for a character isn’t how the story turns out at all. The one example I can think of is Jack Dodger from Between the Devil and Desire. I can’t tell you what story I originally planned for him because I do think it belongs to another character, but I will say that I expected the majority of his story to take place in his gaming hell. However, when I sat down to write his story I suddenly found him sitting in a study, listening to the reading of a will.
RDN: Funny. And such a radically different start, from strutting the halls of a gentleman’s playground to sitting in the tense atmosphere of a will reading. So in this book the hero, Jack, is low born and the heroine a lady. That’s the exact opposite in your latest release, When a Duke Loves a Woman. Tell us what excites you about your lowborn heroine, Gillie?
Lorraine: From the moment Gillie walked onto the page in the 1st book of the series, she intrigued me and I was anxious to write her story. She is an incredibly strong heroine, but she has a soft, whimsical side to her. Life is harsh, but she looks for the good moments and does what she can ease burdens for others. What I think makes it relevant for today is that Gillie is a business owner during a time when few women ran businesses. She very much sees women as equal to men and can stand up for herself.
RDN: Thank you for joining us today, Lorraine. And thank you for offering to give away autographed copies of the first two books in your Sins for All Seasons series: Beyond Scandal and Desire and When A Duke Loves a Woman. To enter click here. And, look for Bluestocking Banter the first Friday of every month. In November, we’ll welcome the NY Times best-selling author Victoria Alexander. ~ Sonja
When a Duke Loves a Woman ~ Gillie Trewlove knows what a stranger’s kindness can mean, having been abandoned on a doorstep as a baby and raised by the woman who found her there. So, when suddenly faced with a soul in need at her door—or the alleyway by her tavern—Gillie doesn’t hesitate. But he’s no infant. He’s a grievously injured, distractingly handsome gentleman who doesn’t belong in Whitechapel, much less recuperating in Gillie’s bed . . .
Being left at the altar is humiliating; being rescued from thugs by a woman—albeit a brave and beautiful one—is the pièce de résistance to the Duke of Thornley’s extraordinarily bad day. After nursing him back from the brink, Gillie agrees to help him comb London’s darker corners for his wayward bride. But every moment together is edged with desire and has Thorne rethinking his choice of wife. Yet Gillie knows the aristocracy would never accept a duchess born in sin. Thorne, however, is determined to prove to her that no obstacle is insurmountable when a duke loves a woman. Learn more and find buy links at AvonRomance.com.
Lorraine Heath, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she became not only hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She's been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA's RITA®. Learn more about Lorraine on her website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Learn more about Sonja Rouillard and her Romance Readers Guide to Historic London at RomanceReadersGuides.com.
Love in a Rabid Heart
By Jeremy Wagner
What is love? What is horror? Pop star Haddaway and Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (from Apocalypse Now) famously offered their own POV’s to those specific questions…I’m here to offer my own two-cents on Love and Horror as it’s all timely with the release of my new novel, Rabid Heart.
Rabid Heart is definitely a horror story. I think of it (as have some others) as 28 Days Later meets The Road. But there’s more to Rabid Heart than relentless terror in a dark and bleak landscape. There’s a love story at the core of my novel.
I tell the story of the protagonist—Rhonda Driscoll—who is dealing with her fiancé being infected and homicidal via the Necro-Rabies virus that took out most of the planet’s population. Rhonda has PTSD after all she’s experienced and finds herself desperately clinging to love, really a “lost love” as you’ll discover, but it’s love that gives her purpose to live. She can’t bring herself to kill her zombified man (Brad) so she thinks she can take him away and live happily ever after—and things don’t go as planned.
In my personal life, I’m a hopeless romantic. I know what it’s like to have the heart want, to have the heart broken, to have loved and want to be loved.
Someone said, “write what you know,” and I have, going deep into tapping into my own heart…feeling around in there to find what I know about being in love and being romantic.
When I was writing this novel I asked myself: What are the things that make me fall for someone? What sensory memories stick with me for someone I’m deeply in love with? Things like that…things like the way your lover smiles at you, the way your lover smells, the details you take in and never let go of for someone you’re head over heels for. This all woven into Rhonda Driscoll. She seeks light in the darkness. She doesn’t want love to be lost…she wants love back, she wants her Brad back.
Another thing I know well is “strong women.” I created Rhonda Driscoll from parts of women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life—drawn either from family or those I’ve been in love with, etc.
The tagline for Rabid Heart is: “How far would you go for love when all you love is DEAD? As you’ll read in Rabid Heart, Rhonda Driscoll will go to the sun and back for her true love…she’ll go through pure hell and horror for it.
Evil has no boundaries, and thankfully, either does love.
Jeremy Wagner is the author of the just published zombie romance Rabid Heart (Riverdale Avenue Books), as well as the founder of the death metal group Broken Hope.
Fans of Christina Aguilera Invited on Stage and Surprise All with a Marriage Proposal
By Lilli McHale
Christina Aguilera kicked off her first tour in ten years in Hollywood Florida on September 18th. On the opening night of her Liberation Tour, Aguilera invited two of her fans on stage. The star quickly introduced the two men as Mike Kontomanolis and Ben Lear, before Lear got on his knee and showed the crowd an engagement ring. The moment is captured on video and is on the future-groom’s Instagram.
Aguilera was excited and said she wanted to turn the concert into a wedding reception. She then sang and dedicated “Let There Be Love” to the couple.
In an interview with E! News, Kontomanolis talked about how special the moment was. He also revealed his fiancé had kept all of the details a secret. He also gushed about Christina’s influence on his life as an LGBTQ+ advocate, calling her 2002 music video “Beautiful” iconic.
This article originally appeared in https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/christina-aguilera-marriage-proposal_us_5babe6f9e4b082030e77bbc5?guccounter=1
Marvel Sees Gambit Movie as a Romantic Comedy
By Lori Perkins
The Gambit X-men movie has been in development for a few years, but a recent interview with Simon Kinberg, long-time producer and lead writer of the franchise, said he sees the film, which will star Channing Tatum, as a romantic comedy.
"When you look at Gambit, he's a hustler and a womanizer, and we just felt like there was an attitude, a swagger to him, that lent itself to romantic comedy.” Kinberg went on to explain, “ You know, when I say romantic comedy, I use that term loosely, in the same term that I use the term western for Logan loosely. It's not like they're gunslingers at high noon in Logan. It's just a vibe. And I would say the vibe of Gambit has a romantic or sex comedy vibe to it. While it is also still very much a superhero movie with villains and heroes, as all these movies are."
Now all they have to do is find a female lead who can hold her own against Tatum’s Gambit. We’re eager to see who they cast as Rogue.
The novel might make it to theaters as early as 2020, as Kinberg says they have a great script.
100 Year-Old “Cougar” Finally Marries Her
74 Year-Old “Boy Toy”
By Lori Perkins
After 30 years of being together, 100-year-old Norah Witkiss is set to wed for the third time, to a man 26 years her junior.
The centenarian decided to make an honest man of the much younger Malcolm Yates "before it's too late."
The couple have been together for more than 30 years, but never considered getting married until now.
Norah, who turns 101 in December, was whisked off her feet by Malcolm when they met at modern sequence dancing three decades ago. They married at The Beaches Hotel in Prestatyn, England on October 16 where they were joined by family and friends.
Norma explained that after her second husband died in 1980, she found companionship again through her life-long passion for sequence dancing. When asked about the secret to a long life, the great-grandmother, who received a card from the Queen Elizabeth on her 100th birthday, said it’s all about keeping active. “I’ve had a very good life really, I’ve enjoyed it,” she said.
This story originally appeared in