Filipinas are widely considered to be among the most beautiful women in the world. Two of the last five Miss Universe titleholders have come from the Philippines: Pia Wurtzbach in 2015 and Catriona Gray in 2018. Both are products of interracial romance between a foreigner and a Filipina –Pia’s father is German while Catriona’s is Australian.
In my series Carpe Diem Chronicles, I celebrate the harmonious melding of multiple cultures in my main characters. The American Ryan brothers have an Italian mother and an Irish father. Krista’s father is American, Maddie’s is French, Angela’s is Singaporean. All pairings created beautiful offspring.
Of the three female leads, Maddie is the one most often complimented for her physical attractiveness. She worked as a model before she obtained her college degree. In three of my books, Aidan compares her to Miss Universe.
The woman who approached him was, in a word, breathtaking. Not just any other beauty queen, but Miss Universe-caliber.
Tall and slender, she was both Filipina and Caucasian. Blond-highlighted, honey-colored hair was artfully arranged on top of her head, her sunglasses forming a black crown in the center of the thick mass. Smooth earth-toned skin—miles of it on display, thanks to her skimpy halter top and jean shorts—was luminous, even inside the poorly lit plane. Her eyes sparkled with good humor and a hint of appreciation as she followed his progress to a standing position.”
Lily Maldonado is screwed. The people-pleasing art professor has been roped into attending her ex’s wedding by her overbearing, image-obsessed parents. Even worse? The woman her ex is marrying is Lily’s childhood bully. She can’t back out, but she’s not sure she can face this nightmare solo.
Enter Calder Ross. The sexy Scot’s abs have graced the cover of many romance novel bestsellers, but the reformed playboy needs a more serious image if he wants to land his dream job as the spokesman for Sonce Whisky. Modeling for Lily’s figure drawing class is step one in the right direction.
After their very adorable—and very naked—meet-cute, Lily and Calder realize that they can be each other’s saving grace. Lily can bring Calder to the wedding as her fake boyfriend to ward off pitying stares. Calder can bring Lily to Sonce events as his fake girlfriend to show he’s the responsible, relationship-minded guy that execs want as the face of their brand.
But the longer Lily and Calder play pretend, the harder it becomes to deny the very real chemistry between them. Will they play it safe and stick to their fake roles? Or will they throw out the playbook completely and risk it all for love?
I enter the classroom expecting to find Ms. Maldonado already there but stumble to a stop as soon as I’m inside. There is no middle-aged professor dressed in a long skirt and cardigan. Instead, there’s a young woman seated on the pedestal in the center of the room. Her legs swing idly as she stares up at the sunlight streaming in from the windows close to the ceiling. An overstuffed blue velvet armchair sits on the pedestal, providing an interesting backdrop for her.
Her serenity, the graceful ease of her posture, and the faraway expression on her face make me wish I had my camera. It’s a moment, absolutely beautiful in its simplicity. Shame no one’s capturing this.
She blinks and hops to her feet when the door shuts, her gaze focusing in on me. Her dark eyes give me a full-body scan, brows rising as she goes for round two. She shakes her head and swallows hard. “Oh, hi. Sorry, I was just having a moment.”
“I hate to interrupt. Are you modeling for this class too?”
Her lips curve as a blush sweeps her cheeks. My attention snags on her mouth. Her full, pink lips are fucking lush. She’s got the kind of mouth that women kill for and men daydream about. I’m not above daydreaming a bit myself, and with the way that blush makes her skin glow—
“I’m sorry, what?” I shake my head, sure that I was too distracted to hear her correctly.
“I said no, Mr. Ross, I’ll save everyone from that horror and stick to teaching, thanks.”
Well, fuck me running. This stunner in blue jeans and a white t-shirt is Ms. Lily? Where is my buttoned-up professor?
I look around, taking in the space. The linoleum is there, sure, but this room is a proper studio. The walls are draped in warm cloth to enhance the soft lamps glowing in the corners. Easels are at attention around the dais with a teacher’s desk off to the side, but everything about this place has been set up with creativity in mind. Impressive.
I stick out my hand and abandon all presumptions I’d had about this gig. “It’s Calder, please. And I am sorry to interrupt, but I’m also sorry I’m a bit late, Ms—”
She laughs as her hand slips into mine. I’m hit with a double whammy of sensation. First, the warmth of her soft skin sliding across my palm and then the muted sound of her mirth, which she hides with her free hand.
Her eyes squint as she shakes her head. “Just Lily. If that’s what you’re comfortable with.”
“I could be very comfortable with it.”
The words I’d meant to keep in my head tumble out without warning. What the fuck is with you? Is this amateur hour? Pull your shit together and be a professional for a second.
Lily’s blush deepens, so I release her hand and flash an easy grin. “No need for formality in my opinion,” I clarify.
She exhales and nods, and I take that as a decent recovery. I watch her go to her desk, shuffling a stack of papers as she says, “We’ll start with some short gesture poses if that’s good for you?”
“Of course.” I tug off my tee as I head to the pedestal. Once I hop up, I drop my sweatpants and toss everything on the armchair.
“Great, so if you need any suggest—oh!” The papers flutter to the floor as she turns and looks at me. “Oh my god, you’re already naked.”
My brows knit. “Just getting comfortable. Was I meant to wait for a specific moment?”
“Well, I just, I mean class hasn’t started and we—or, no, but it’s just that you’re… so naked.”
Her eyes dart around the room, landing on me at regular intervals as a blush paints her cheeks all the way down her neck now.
I bite the inside of my lip, glad I’m not the only one off their game today. “You could get me a robe.”
ABOUT SARAH AND SKYE
Sarah Skye is the nom de plume of romance authors Sarah Smith and Skye McDonald. Sarah and Skye met on Twitter as fledgling authors seeking critique partners. That turned into a brilliant friendship, a joint podcast (Quick & Dirty Romance Podcast), and now a novel.
Sarah Smith (Faker; If You Never Come Back; Simmer Down) is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.
Skye McDonald (The Anti-Belle Series) is an author and personal development coach. Skye’s Anti-Belle series feature sassy GRITS (Girls Raised In the South) learning to love themselves before they can claim their happily ever after. (Spoiler: they always do!) Her coaching method uses fitness and life skills to teach individuals to do the same. When not writing sexy books or cheering for you to live your best life, Skye can be found out on a new adventure, usually with her pup at her side.
This prequel to Singapore Fling is special to me because it’s the only work I was able to complete in 2020. While the pandemic didn’t affect me physically, it stifled my creativity severely. At the same time, the Romance writing world was in turmoil. With the additional responsibility of supervising my son’s virtual learning, my mental health suffered. The inspiration well dried out and all my progress on my ongoing project Samui Heat, Angela and Craig’s story, came to a full stop.
Thankfully, all was not lost. When an author-friend of mine invited me to participate in an anthology she was coordinating, I readily accepted. The theme of a contemporary romance set in a high-rise building lit a spark of inspiration within me. I already had the makings of this story. I already know the characters inside and out. I had sprinkled scenes all over Singapore Fling about Maddie and Aidan’s sexy weekend after they left Boracay.
When we were together at my condo in Makati, we …”
… subsisted on sex and kisses.”
It still took me a couple of weeks to flesh it out, but I managed to write a fun and sexy story detailing how Maddie and Aidan’s romance really started.
The Big City Heat anthology was published in October 2020 and sold well enough to be listed as no. 1 bestseller in a couple of categories and enabled us to donate to the Equal Justice Initiative. Now, the rights have been returned to me and I can re-release as a stand alone story.
I’m excited for y’all to read this (long) short story. It explains so much why Maddie and Aidan’s relationship progressed so quickly in Singapore Fling.
I’m a Scorpio and so are three of the main characters in my books. Maddie’s birthday is October 26, which I mention in Global City Tryst. Aidan and Krista were born on November 2 six years apart. They celebrate together in Boracay Vows. Aidan talks about his and Maddie’s shared Scorpio characteristics in Singapore Fling.
In this finger-licking good rom-com, two is the perfect number of cooks in the kitchen.
Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.
But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.
The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum … a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?
Any time I see myself in the book I’m reading, I give it high marks. Every time I cry while reading a book, I give it top ratings. Whenever a book promotes the Filipino culture, I only had positive things to say about it. Simmer Down, with its part-Filipina heroine, her tight-knit bond with her parents, its multicultural romance, and its proud celebration of Filipino food, gets my enthusiastic rave. A perfectly-fitting read during the Filipino American History Month this October.
Sarah Smith is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.
The 57th Floor – Hazel Storm When a client meeting sends matchmaker, Madelyn, hurtling to the high-rise office of CEO Peter Waring, she doesn’t expect to be blown away by this way-too-hot older man. But hookups with clients aren’t allowed, and now, Madelyn has to find Peter the perfect match.
A Change of Plans – PE Kavanagh Ways to make the best of a NYC blizzard: 1. Take shelter in a luxury penthouse 2. Stock up on all your favorite snacks 3. Get stranded with your big sister’s best friend, who happens to be the woman of your dreams
A Hole – Phoebe Alexander With meddling friends and myriad misunderstandings, can Ace and Ella find their happy ending? Or will Ella just become the punchline of Ace’s next joke?
The Wolf of Wall Street – Lucy Eden CEO, Luis Pine and Executive Assistant, Aurora Douglas have a million reasons to keep their relationship strictly professional, except for one … fate.
44th & Blue – Jodi Payne When Benjamin Waters’ law firm moves to the 44th floor of a Midtown high-rise, the last person he expects to encounter is his casual hookup, Cole Turner. Cole is working on the finishing touches to the office space, wearing a sexy tool belt and threatening to disrupt Benjamin’s carefully compartmentalized life.
Courtney – Jayce Ellis Courtney intends to relax, relate, release, when he comes home after a decade abroad. When he meets Tracey, his plans abruptly shift, and now getting to know the cautious, but sinfully gorgeous man is the only thing on his mind.
The Right Note – Bree Kraemer In a high-rise in Chicago, Eliza and Henry are unaware that the other even exists. Until music brings them together.
Felling Bechet – Stella Williams Bechet Cross seems the perfect fling for Isis Hale. No strings, no games, until he fell.
Asylum Club – Aidy Award I need this job at the infamous Asylum Club, but I don’t submit for anyone. Not even the sinful billionaire owner whose dominant side drives me crazy in all the hottest ways.
The Glass Tower – Emily Gray While Zel Thatcher dreams of escape from a glass prison, Regina Prince restores the passion for music he thought was lost. Can they overcome his uncle’s malice to find love and a fairytale ending?
Make Me Beg – Moni Boyce Teagan Palmer hates Reid Beckett. Unfortunately, the sexy, ruthless fixer is the only one standing between Teagan and the hit on her life. An enemies to lovers, mafia romance.
Global City Tryst – Maida Malby One alluring French-Filipina beauty. One sexy US Air Force officer. One torrid weekend tryst.
Lust at first sight strikes Maddie Duvall and Aidan Ryan in Manila. A day at the beach with friends and family does not give them an opportunity to succumb to their mutual attraction. Both single and available, they agree on a secret weekend affair. No strings, no promises. Satisfy their desire for one another and they’re done.
Or so they say.
Global City Tryst, a Carpe Diem Chronicles novelette, is the prequel to Singapore Fling.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
HAZEL STORM Hazel Storm writes stories about love between characters with conscience. Over the past two decades, she has been vegan, raw vegan and vegetarian. She loves hot yoga and cool martial arts. Learn more and join Hazel’s newsletter here: www.hazelstorm.com
PE KAVANAGH PE Kavanagh writes smart and steamy contemporary romances with a splash of suspense and a sprinkle of magic. She’s committed to the life-changing powers of true love and great orgasms. www.pekavanagh.com
PHOEBE ALEXANDER Phoebe Alexander writes bodypositive, sexpositive erotic romance and lives on the East Coast with her husband, sons and multiple fur babies. Learn more and join Phoebe’s newsletter at www.phoebe-alexander.com
LUCY EDEN Lucy Eden is the nom de plume of a romance-obsessed author who writes the kind of romance she loves to read. She’s a sucker for alphas with a soft gooey center, over the top romantic gestures, strong & smart MCs, humor, love at first sight (or pretty damn close), happily ever after & of course, dirty & steamy love scenes. www.lucyeden.com
AIDY AWARD Aidy Award writes curvy girl romance, about real love, and dirty fun, with happy ever afters because every woman deserves great sex and even better romance, no matter her size, shape, or what the scale says. www.aidyaward.com
JODI PAYNE Jodi Payne’s addictions include nonfat lattes, tequila any way you pour it, Broadway and live music. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies as they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. www.jodipayne.net
JAYCE ELLIS Jayce spends her days divorcing “happily married couples” and her nights writing about people like her: Black, queer, fighting for their happily ever afters, with her husband and two turtles by her side. www.authorjayceellis.com
BREE KRAEMER Bree Kraemer writes contemporary romance, sometimes with a lot of hot, steamy sex and sometimes with just a little. She lives in Ohio with her husband and 3 kids, All of which are teenagers and make her want to pull her hair out. Hence her use of the F-word and the drinking of margaritas. www.BreeKraemer.com
STELLA WILLIAMS Stella Williams is a Blogger, Booktuber, and Romance Author, who lives in Washington State. She has a degree in Anthropology from The University of California, Santa Cruz. Stella prides herself in using her studies to create diverse worlds and characters for her novels. Her latest project is a magical paranormal romance series entitled “Secret of Ceres.” www.serpentinecreative.com
EMILY GRAY Emily Gray is an author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. While ensuring her characters get their HEA, she lives on coffee and chocolate. www.emilygray.org
MONI BOYCE Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 33 countries and counting. www.moniboyce.com
MAIDA MALBY Maida Malby cooks up multicultural, foodie, international contemporary romance stories filled with sizzling heat, mouthwatering spice, and a whole lotta love. She is a member of select writing groups and romance book clubs. Her To-Be-Read Mountain and book reviews are featured on her website www.maidamalby.com
Melody Joo is thrilled to start as video game producer, but her dream job can be far from a dream. Namely, a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments and an infuriating — yet distractingly handsome — intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”
While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her company’s most high-profile project — and Melody’s running the show.
With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, but she’s here to work—and nothing more. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the trolling sabotage. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love?
Tackling trolling to loathful colleagues, Park’s writing pops off the page as a contemporary reflection of women everywhere navigating the obstacles of love and career with a little bit of struggle and a whole lot of humor.
“[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly” talent search, and appeared on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco. Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. After spending many years as a tech marketing executive, she turned to writing fiction full-time. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Keep up with her at https://www.suzannepark.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Who isn’t baking these days? I certainly am. One of my creations is soda bread. I mentioned it in New York Engagement on Chapter Nine where Krista had a family meal with the Ryans at their pub in Hell’s Kitchen. In the book, they served brown soda bread to go with Guinness caldereta,longganisa coddle, and chicken lechon. As the only flour I have at home was all-purpose white and I wanted it for breakfast and tea, I followed this Irish-American version with whiskey-soaked cranberries from seriouseats.com. The Ryans are Irish-Americans after all.
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or currants)
1/2 cup Irish whiskey (or hot water)
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (~190 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the cranberries and whiskey (or hot water). Cover and set aside to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into slices, then work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it is fully incorporated. Add the honey, buttermilk, and the cranberries and soaking liquid mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.
3. Flour your work surface lightly and turn out the dough. Gently bring it together without kneading so as not to overwork it. Form the dough into a 6-8 inch disk about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 inches high and place it on your prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make four cuts all the way through to create eight triangles.
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. If you like a softer crust, cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel as it cools.
5. Serve plain or, as I do, with cream cheese and your favorite beverage. Mine is coffee with Baileys.
New York Engagement is available in eBook and paperback from major online retailers. Signed paperback can be purchased from this website.
Maddie started at the sound of his amused voice. She turned in her seat to stare while Aidan made his way to her side. He’d changed into a moisture-wicking top and track pants, both black, better suited for walking than the cotton he wore earlier. Again, he looked like the spy Rini had thought he was.
And now, she was wide awake once more. This morning, she’d likened Aidan to dark chocolate.
He was coffee. Black, no sugar, the way she preferred it: strong, hot, addictive.
Maddie let out a sigh filled with regret. She should have jumped him when she’d arrived. In white t-shirt and gray sweatpants, jaw shadowed by a day’s growth of stubble, he had looked totally jumpable.
Singapore Fling is Book 2 of Carpe Diem Chronicles, a series of multicultural contemporary romance novels. The stories celebrate the rich cultures of exotic Southeast Asian islands through languages, food, and festivals.
It’s now available from your favorite etailers in eBook and paperback.
For a French soccer icon, and a gifted artist, a fake engagement is the perfect solution for their current dilemmas. But when last summer’s fling slips from lust to love, their pretend relationship becomes too hot to handle.
Gabriel DuVernay is heir to one of the oldest wineries in France, but his passion is playing soccer, not tending vines. When he signs a multi-million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he’s able to postpone his unwelcome duties and help his younger sister convince their old-fashioned father she should be their family’s first female winemaker. Another bonus of moving to California is reuniting with the striking redhead who snuck out of his apartment after the hottest night of his life.
Last summer, artist Dylan McNeill’s life on her family’s Southern California horse-breeding ranch was thrown into chaos and she escaped to Paris. One electrifying night with a gorgeous playboy athlete helped her forget her problems. She’s never forgotten Gabriel, but aspiring artists trying to break into the elite art world don’t have time for romance. She’s determined to get discovered without trading on her family’s famous name.
When Gabriel suffers a career-shattering injury, he needs to buy some time to figure out how to remain in America and choose his own future. His influential mother can open important doors in the art world and help Dylan fulfill her dreams ––for a price. A fictitious engagement seems like the simple answer until living at Pacific Vista Ranch and pretending to be in love starts to feel real.
Can last year’s one night stand and this year’s fake engagement turn into true love forever?
Oh là là! With a steamy one-night stand in Paris, a fake engagement in LA, two attractive and talented protagonists with respective family issues, For the Love of You offers an entertaining diversion from our current worries. In this third book of her Pacific Vista Ranch series, Claire Marti tells a sophisticated romantic fantasy-fulfillment story between American artist Dylan McNeill and French soccer superstar Gabriel DuVernay.
There’s so much to like in this light contemporary novel. Both main characters have valid reasons for agreeing to the fake engagement and the benefit to both is equal. While there is a Hollywood gloss to the entire story, the emotions displayed by the characters felt real. Gabriel’s pain, both physically and psychologically with the end of his high-profile career, manifested strongly. Dylan’s guilt about lying to her family, especially to her twin, was incredibly apparent. Also obvious is their chemistry and the eventuality of their turning the fake into a true engagement.
Kudos to Ms. Marti for seamlessly incorporating updates about the couples from the other books in the series without taking away the focus from Dylan and Gabriel. Great job also of introducing several characters and giving each of them distinct personalities. I can honestly say that this book can be read as a stand-alone but it’ll make you want to read the first two as well. In my opinion, it’ll make you want to read all of Ms. Marti’s back list, if you haven’t done so already, and her future books too.
Content advisory: mild profanities, on-page injury, open-door sexual intimacy.
Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.