Monday, March 1, 2010

All I Ever Wanted

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

Beginning writers are often advised to “Write what you

know.” Beginning romance writers are told to “Write the book you would love to read.” If that wouldn’t be a romance, you’re out of luck, according to Donald Maass. "Romance," he says, "cannot be faked."Fortunately for me, romance is what I love, and today I launch my third: SEALed with a Ring.

A publishing contract usually specifies a number of copies of the book that the author will receive as part of the deal. Typically your author’s copies arrive a few weeks before the book goes on sale. It’s neat. You see it before anyone else does. You slit the brown tape on the box and are immediately transported by the heady zing of fresh ink, the clean, woody aroma of paper that hasn’t been touched. You slide your fingers over the cover, relishing the smooth slipperiness of plastic coated colors. And then you take the books out and line them up side, by side, by side, by side. Your book, infinitely replicated. This is what “published” means. One day, I might be blasé about it. I’m not yet.

My author’s copies came a couple of weeks ago. I felt the thrill and admired the beautiful colors of the cover—but there was one more thing I had to do. I had to find out if, now it has its final form, is it a book I would love to read? You’d think I would know—and I do know—and yet a book is different once it has solidified into the material world. It’s literally and metaphorically heavier. So I sat down and read it.


Y’all. It’s good. Romantic Times gives it four stars, so that’s not just my opinion.

I put in everything I like. It has (1)a hero who’s strong enough to have no need to hide his tender heart. (2)A heroine who needs to appreciate who she is. (3)A dog or two. (4)A family functioning and dysfunctioning through life’s challenges.(5)Liberal sprinkles of humor, and (6)some tears to keep it moist. (7)All wrapped up in a marriage of convenience plot. [sigh] What’s not to love?


What’s it about? Glad you asked.

Murphy’s Law is kicking Navy SEAL Davy Graziano’s butt. Nothing has gone right since the night he had mind-blowing sex with a woman so hot, introductions seemed beside the point—until she disappeared.

Suddenly, he must find the money to provide for his special-needs brother. On top of that, head injuries he’s hiding could end the One Good Thing—his SEAL career. And if life weren’t out of control enough, a beautiful woman will pay him to marry her in name only. He can have all the women he wants—just not her.

But Davy doesn’t do infidelity. And he doesn’t do celibacy either.

Responsibility defines JJ Caruthers. Because of her, a lot of people have food on the table. In this hard economy, every hour left over from keeping the family business afloat has to go to the charities she heads up. No matter what her controlling grandfather thinks, the lovely young CEO needs a husband like a pig needs roller skates.

If she wanted a husband, she wouldn’t choose the kind of man who has a one-night stand with a woman without even learning her name. In other words, the kind of man Davy is. JJ should know. He had one with her. That night showed JJ a side of herself she never wants to see again.

But she must marry--or else. He's available. And she's been trained by the best in the art of the deal.

When marriage is made at the bargaining table…

Sometimes you don’t get what you bargain for.

Sometimes…you get a lot more.


You might wonder what I do with the author’s copies—after I have lined them up and admired them. I make presents of them. They go to people who have helped me with research, fed me when I was under deadline, dried my tears when I got frustrated, and cheered me on. Since readers of this blog fit under one, or several of those headings, readers who comment today will have a chance to receive one of the three signed author’s copies I would like to give away. Here's your question: what ingredients always ring the bell on your romance-o-meter?


  1. It will probably seem very trite but my husband always does it with flowers at the most unexpected times.

    Mind you most of the times he manages to come up with flowers I have never seen before and can't even identify. Most of them I end up drying for a dry flower arrangement.

    Sorry I can't tell you something more unusual.


    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  2. A great smile and a good sense of humor will get me every time. Gotta love a guy who can find the humor in even a bad situation!
    Happy Launch Day and big congrats on the new release. I hope it sells billions and billions and billions....

  3. Carol,
    I don't think there's anything trite about a man who gives flowers on unexpected occasions.
    And flowers so special and unusual that you end up drying them and reusing them?
    Sounds like a man who knows exactly what love is about.

  4. Cheryl, I fell in love with my husband because of his sense of humor. We laughed together every day.

    You know how Deb (our Casablanca editor) is always saying "A hero I can fall in love with?" Whether I'm reading or writing, fantastic physique is optional, but a hero with a sense of humor gets me every time.

  5. So far what does it for me, you seemed to have included in your new book. I find that once I started reading it, it was hard to put down so I could get other things done (boring stuff like work and cooking). Romance on a personal level is the unexpected little things DH does that reminds me just how sweet he can be at times. :) I am loving "SEALed With a Ring."

  6. Oh, MM! Your description of receiving your author's copies is making me dance with anticipation and anxiously awaiting mine. :)

    I don't know that I have three. Although, if I gave it a lot of thought, I'd probably come up with a lot more. So, I'll stick with the two most important that popped to mind.

    1 - Just like everyone else, a sense of humor. Life is too short not to laugh about it along the way.

    2 - Honor. Perhaps since I write Regency Era romance, honor is constantly on my mind. But having a hero in print or in real-life whom I can respect the core of who he is, is one of the most important things to me.

  7. Mason, I know what you mean about unexpected sweetness. I spent the weekend with my brothers-in-law, and nephews-in-law (and their assorted spouses of course.) Every one of those guys did one of those "A-a-w-w-" sweet things at least once. Melted my heart every time.

    And "hard to put down." Those words are music to a writer's ears. THANK YOU!

  8. an ability to laugh. God, I don't know where we'd be if we couldn't laugh at ourselves, each other, our kids, the pitfalls of parenthood, marriage and inlaws!

    Love the blurb, MM! And am LOVING Davy! Must get a copy!

  9. Lydia,
    There aren't many thrills that compare to getting your hands on those author's copies.
    I think you're right about honor, particularly when it springs from an ethical code the hero has worked out for himself.
    Physical strength, like beauty, fades. An honorable man's honor only increases as he gains wisdom through the years.

  10. Sounds like a great read! It's raining here today. Good day to go to the bookstore and pick it up!

  11. Great post MM! I read and LOVED SWAR when the ARCs arrived a few months ago :)

    I love in romance novels when they show the little things, like when the hero covers ther heroines shoulder with the blanket they're cuddling under, or when the heroine pokes fun at the hero just so--because she knows it'll push it buttons, but in the nice way. Those little specifics that make each couple special. I think every couple needs to have them, in romance novels and in real life!!

  12. Judy,

    I read somewhere that women list a sense of humor as a "most desirable" quality in men. I even love my doctor because of his ability to see the joke of it all.

    And thank you for loving Davy. As soon as he appeared in my mind, he had me.

  13. Shana,

    Is there anything better than a good book on a cold, rainy day? But call the bookstore before you make the trip. The books have been on the shelves in some places a week or two, but the "official" release date is tomorrow.

  14. Mary Margaret~

    Congratulations on the launch party! The book sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it.

    I love a thoughtful man. My DG doesn't buy many flowers, but he'll surprise me by bring my 4-wheel drive car to my critique meeting while it's snowing and take my little Prius home so I don't have to leave early for fear of not making it up my driveway. He'll go out and get me comfort food when he sees that I'm down (sushi Saturday night), and he'll take a day off of work to go to a funeral with me because he doesn't want me to go through tough things like that alone.

    The great thing is that I see the same thoughtfulness in my children--I guess it's catching.

  15. Oh Danielle, you've put your finger on one of the ingredients that moves a romance from one I enjoy to one I LOVE.

    It's those little gestures that make me trust the hero emotionally.

  16. Robin, you brought me to tears with your description of the DH.
    Your children are fortunate to have such an example of what love really looks like. Children learn some of what we tell them; they learn all of what they see us do.

  17. Congratulations Mary Margret!! I am so happy to have another SEALed book to add to my collection! Wish I could hang around and party all day, but I have to get some sleep :( Have fun with the virtual margaritas and cabana boys!

  18. Sleep, Sharon? Why would you want to do a thing like that? Seriously, thanks for stopping in for a sip of virtual bubbly at my book's birthday party.

    I admit, I'm a little high, and likely to remain that way.

  19. I love your description of unwrapping the books! (though I've gotta admit, I'm not sure I could sit down and READ mine -- gasp -- what if I found a typo or something?!)

    I agree with the others who list "sense of humor" as the top thing that rolls their socks up when it comes to romance. I'll also add self-confidence to the list. Not arrogance -- there's a big difference -- but a guy who knows exactly who he is and is totally comfortable in his own skin.

    Can't wait to read your book!


  20. Thank you for that wonderful post and your book sounds like my kind of romance book!

    I've always said, "I love what I write and I write what I love. If I don't love it no one else will!"


  21. Shana,

    I just heard from my nephew. He says SEALed with a Ring IS on the shelves at B&N--and it's at the front! (in Winston Salem, anyway.)


  22. Tawna,

    Fortunately at Casablanca we're backed up with great copy editing. If proofreading were up to me the book would be full of typo's.

    To tell the truth, it might BE full of typo's. :-) I probably wouldn't see them.

    But sit down and read it? I had to.

  23. Very true, MM!

    A good thing I'm going to B&N this week.

    It's the little unexpected things for me. Just like his doing the dishes last night so I could have some veg time.

  24. You know, Linda, I'm sensing a theme here. It looks like sense of humor and the little acts of sweet thoughtfulness make a sigh-worthy hero. Interesting huh?

    So now I"m thinking, that's what we want in life--is it what we want in a romance novel? When I'm trying to come up with a theory, I look for counter-examples, and I can sure think of a bunch of romantic heroes who were dour, cold, and pretty self-centered.

  25. A good wine and laughter are always a good part of romance... The best books are charming characters and HOT chemistry. The Sealed books are that and more... The latest is no exception!!! I'll be waiting for the new one, meanwhile I'll re-read the last 3. They make me smile and leave me happy! Thanks for the escape to such a nice place.

  26. "They make me smile and leave me happy!"

    Dotty, no words could touch my heart more or make me feel more successful.

    Thank you.


    You are sooo right about the printed and bound book feeling completely different than the words on the monitor, or even in printed pages. I'm not sure why that is, since it's the same story, but it feels very different for me! So I'm like you, I have to sit down and read my own book, just to make sure I like it! :-) Inevitably, as some point I look up from the page and say, "Hey! This IS a good read!"

    And of course, I have to LOVE your hero in SWAR, he has a terrific name! ;-)


  28. I love the cover! I just posted my review of it on my blog today!
    I will definitely have to sneak some money from the hubby to buy more of your books!
    I wish you all the success for it!

  29. I'm late, I'm late! Running late this morning and couldn't drop by until now, but great post MM! :)

    Another oft-quoted writer's creed: Write the book of your heart. Which is sooo true! If you don't love your characters and your story, how will anyone else feel the passion? :)

    I'm with Cheryl, sense of humor, is number one with me.

  30. Terry,

    Glad you got here.

    "Another oft-quoted writer's creed: Write the book of your heart. Which is sooo true! If you don't love your characters and your story, how will anyone else feel the passion? :)"

    I agree and I'd have to add, why would you want to write a book that isn't touching your own heart? Writing is a solitary, occasionally lonely activity, that doesn't pay awfully well for most writers. Like a lot of things, first of all, you need to do it for you.

  31. Thanks, Amy. I love the cover too. The art department did a great job of capturing the mood and essence of the story, didn't they?

    Glad you dropped by. I hadn't seen your review. Check it out, everyone.

    My favorite quote: Davy is the sexy jerk you can't help but love.
    LOL! And you're right!

  32. Hey AC,

    So you have to sit down and read your books too? Glad I'm not alone in thinking that printed and bound book is somehow different.

    I'm not quite to the point that it's "inevitable" for me to think it's good. :-) Maybe someday.

    Davy's a special name for me too. It's my dear brother's name--the one who speaks up around here occasionally.

  33. Happy Launch Day, Mary Margret. A sense of humor and intelligence are very important.

  34. Hi Mary Margret
    I loved oyur first 2 books.
    Went looking for SWAR hoping they'd have it in early but no luck. I love my seals. Besides the marriage of convenience premise, I also like friend to lover, best friends sister/brother & if they are older & didn't grow up together, step siblings. The reason is simple. That means the H & H already know each other & the story/tension starts on page one.
    Congrats on the new release.

  35. Sorry I guess I missed the point of your question duh. Sense of humor & smarts are sexy to me as well as a good heart.

  36. Bell-ringing... When you can see in his eyes that he's finally realized what she means.

    Congratulations. Those covers look great and it sounds like the book will ring many bells.

  37. My true romantic hero needs to have three things... two of them are chocolate.

    Congratulations MM, your book sounds great!


  38. Congratulations, Mary Margret! Sorry I'm late to the party - the book sounds fantastic and I can't wait to read it.
    I'm in agreement on the sense of humor being important. The other thing I love is how supportive my DH is - he'll suggest I spend the day writing even when I know he'd like to do something together. That means so much...

  39. Congrats on your new release, Mary Margaret! It sure has all the elements of a fabulous read! Cheers.