As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Sharon, Mary and Lyn, together with Oliver, Junior and Cuddles, would like to wish everyone a Very Happy, Healthy and successful New Year. May you achieve your goals and dreams and may the road ahead be smooth.

We thought you might enjoy a video of last year's New Year fireworks celebrations in London

Don't forget to join us on 8th January 2010 when we will be hosting Inspirational Author Rachel Rossano

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hi folks, Cuddles decided to go on vacation to warmer climes. somewhere over the rainbow. He loves Christmas but the snow at the moment is just too much - he says it makes his horn tingle, LOl. Don't worry, he'll be back, creating havoc as usual with his pal Junior. What did the rest of us do? Well, we just made the most of the snow, here's what happened! Hope you enjoy it, have a lovely Christmas. We won't be roasting anyone for the next two weeks but you can have fun watching us instead!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kathleen O'Conner picks her winners.

Well none of our wonderful authors or readers figured out that a rag doll is a cat. A usually huge, cuddly, floppy, soft, kitty cat. My cousin has one regular size female and one male the size of a mountain lion. When you hold them they hang like they are disjointed. But they are soooo

Pets Comments

The winners are Emma Lai and Jennifer Johnson. Congratulations ladies!

The author hostesses of the Author Roast and Toast will be taking Oliver, Junior and Cuddles, on a little Christmas break. We'll be back after the first of the year on January 8th. So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate. We wish you the
Season's Greeting from Lyn, Mary and Sharon!

Merry Christmas Comments

New Year Comments

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kathleen O'Conner at the Breakers

Landscapes Comments
Kathleen O'Conner gazed into the huge mirror on the wall of the luxury bathing facilities in her lovely room in the Breaker's. The historic hotel in West Palm Beach was the perfect place for her wonderful party hosted by Lyn, Sharon, and Mary. Her beautiful maroon, Lotta Stensson, silk-handkerchief sundress, sets off her light blonde hair. Her skin silky smooth and her body relaxed, she remembered the wonderful spa treatment she'd had today. A finishing touchup to her lipstick, my gosh the makeover woman who had worked on her today found the best shades of eye liner. She loved her strappy Pelle Moda sandals, they made her feel like a queen. Her Amalfi swimsuit hugged her body beneath her dress. She was ready and she looked hot!

Pleased with her appearance she walked out the doors to the balcony and sat in a comfortable lounge chair. Oliver would come for her when it was time, she didn't understand all the security, but she was appreciate of the two hunks who guarded her door. Maybe she'd invite them in for a drink. In any case, she looked her best and she was ready, her hat and the shoulder throw she carried, shimmer just like her dress.


Meanwhile Junior and Cuddles, given free run of the lobby, elevator and stairs, watch guests of Kathleen's head out the Porte Cichera and head toward the main pool area. All of the cabanas are taken over for the huge gathering. A large flock of wild green parrots line the trees, squawking loudly. In the largest cabana Oliver listens to Sharon direct the placement of a huge Christmas centerpiece. He's decorated a small tree and placed it in front of the cabana where Kathleen will greet her quests.Merry Christmas Comments

"Mary you are gonna drop that," Lyn bellows.

"No I am not,"annoyed at Lyn who has been bossing her around all day, Mary is determined to prove her wrong. "If this cake falls it will not be my fault." Mary gives Lyn a smirk over her shoulder, just as Oliver rushed past. "Look at all the guest, the pool area and the Porte Cochera where all the food is has a gazillion people milling about." Expertly he takes the beautifully decorated cake into his hands an places it next to his flower arrangement on the desert table. He smiles and turns to Mary and Lyn. "We're almost ready to get Kathleen!"

Oliver is so excited he can't contain it. Today he is dressed in his traditional butler uniform with a couple of exceptions, beneath his vest his naked pecs flexed as he gestures toward the food. "Look at the cookies I made for her and the cake, it's one of the best I have ever baked!"

Merry Christmas Comments
Mary ducks and thinks she's made it, she really thought that this week she would be clean and ready in her own sundress. That was before Oliver knocked her over in his exuberance. Yes, right into the punchbowl.

"You think this is funny," Mary asks Lyn, who is now laughing so hard she can't catch her breath. Sharon helps Mary out of the punchbowl and whispers, "don't do it!" Too late she can only watch as Mary dumps the rest of the punchbowl on Lyn.

The surprise on Lyn's face is astonishing. She stands and puts her hands on her hips and begins to count. "One, two," before she hits three Mary is gone like a shot, headed to her room to change and hoping to outrun Lyn.
Lyn gazes toward Sharon who is swallowing laughter. "We'll be right back, thank goodness we bring a change or two of clothing. I really liked this outfit too." Lyn walks away, trying to maintain her dignity whilst dripping purple punch in her wake.

Sharon turns to face Oliver. Before she can open her mouth he is gone like a shot, yelling over his shoulder. "I'm going to greet Kathleen and her guards."

Sharon shakes her head and gazes at the food, she rearranges the place where she put the conch fritters, she hoped they weren't too spicy. Trays of cheese, among them the Dubliner that Kathleen loves so much. Mango, Papaya, Starfruit, oranges, avocados, stone crab, spiny lobster, the cold and hot dishes made her mouth water, oh my, Key Lime Pie. She'd never seen shrimp as big as the rock shrimp on the table. She opened the cover to smell the intoxicating scent of grilled dolphin. No not like Flipper, please.

In the distance Sharon watches as Lyn throws Mary into the water as she passes her on the way to their room to change.
Landscapes Comments
Glub, glub, snort, choke, Mary emerges from the undertow and chases Lyn down the beach. A laugh that tinkled in her ears makes her look up and there is Kathleen. She's seen Lyn and Mary and shakes her head as she chuckles. Mary waves to her and heads after Lyn, her yelling fading in the distance. "We'll be right there!"

Sharon watches as Kathleen approaches the main Cabana. In her arms, her beloved Westie. Guests, family and friends, greet her as she passes. Sharon walks up to her and kisses her on each cheek. "Welcome Kathleen, welcome to your roast!. Lyn and Mary will be here shortly. " A roar and loud applause follow Sharon's words and Kathleen finally speaks.

"Hello everyone, I am so pleased that you are here to celebrate the release of my new story. This is so wonderful, please everyone. Relax, eat, swim, have a wonderful time." Sharon hands her a glass of ice cold coke. With a bit of Cuddles magic added in. "Bless your little horn sweetie," she pats Cuddles and then Junior. You two are such good boys." Both magic pets are on their best behavior, so Sharon cuddles them both. Mary and Lyn are standing sopping wet behind the well trained animals. "Seems the girls can't behave." Her comments bring a shrug from Mary as she sticks out her tongue at Sharon, while Lyn crosses her arms to sulk.

"Thank you Sharon. Please everyone toast with me! To happiness and good books!"WITCHYS WIKKED GRAPHIX
"Here, here," the audience shouted loudly, "Here, here!"

Kathleen is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, recipient of a James Michener fellowship and the Connecticut writing Awards. Her short stories have appeared in Woman's World, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Seventeen Magazine, St Anthony's Messenger and Liguorian. Her novels are: A Private Matter (a Whiskey Creek Press Dec. 09 release), Men of Paradise, (The Wild Rose Press) and No Doubt, (Whiskey Creek Press).


Excerpt from Men of Paradise (where two strangers inherit joint custody of an untrainable Westie named Dudley)

What was Ina thinking?” Lauren said to the equally outraged dog. “This isn’t good for you; it’s terrible for David, and uncomfortable for me.” She eased into a plastic lawn chair and had just stretched out when a grey Chevy Blazer breezed into the driveway.

“You can bite him,” she whispered to Dud as an athletic looking man in jeans, faded blue shirt, and black sport coat approached the porch. His skin was bronze and his hair long and silky. Lauren was sure she had seen someone this good looking before == maybe on the big screen in a chilly movie theater. In her experience guys with GQ looks like his were always morons.

He opened the screen door and crooned, “Hey, baby! How are you doing?”

“Doing all right,” Lauren answered before realizing he was talking to the dog. She blushed and folded her hands behind her back.

Dudley, the traitor, inched forward to sniff the stranger’s cowboy boots. Yuma Hawk whipped out a bone as big as a bow tie. The dog snared it, then gulped it down.

Already he is outspending me on dog treats. Lauren stood frozen while Hawk switched the high-beam smile from the dog to her, and advanced with an exte
nded hand. “Good to finally meet you, Lauren. You’re a bit younger than I expected.”

Congratulations Kathleen, on your latest book 'A Private Matter', released on 16th December.


Mitch Gallagher is obsessed with finding the killer of David Forjane. The young detective believes the murder’s proximity to the victim’s workplace is the key clue. Tess McConnell, a new hire, at the same corporation complicates the detective’s job though.

Unaware Gallagher is a recent widower, she comes on too strong and then feels terribly rejected when the grieving detective doesn’t respond. To get even, she ignores Gallagher and initiates some amateur sleuthing of her own. The detective suffers during this ‘cold shoulder’ treatment and eventually discovers he is more ready for a relationship than he realized. And it will take the efforts of both these characters to solve a murder where the killer left no clues.


December 18

David Forjane threw his briefcase in the back seat of his new red Saturn. It was a sporty enough car, but did not quite make the statement he desired. He was two years away from the blue BMW. Life was always a waiting game.

He peeled out of the garage anxious to get a mile away from the concrete fortress that was the Rayex Chemical Company. Something about the building affected radio reception, and he was now ready to hear the silky-voiced Samantha of WKAC. Always his companion for the commute home, she spun records for the heartsick and lovesick. He enjoyed their dim patter. Yesterday he heard his girlfriend call in and request a tune for David; a song called Gone. He could not quite believe it. It was his Peggy, of the repetitive conversation and robotic sex, doing something interesting and original. When Marta Johns serenaded him with, I’m beginning to see you’re growing bored with me, David answered, “Oh Peggy, I’ve been bored with you for a long time.”

He looked into the rear view mirror and was surprised to see the departmental loaner car barreling up behind. He thought he recognized the driver, but not the passenger. The twosome was going like hell and about to pass on the left. David reached down to turn on the radio.

A single bullet slammed through his brain before his hand reached the dial.

Wow! What an excerpt...

Kathleen's question for today's prize is easy. If I said I had a rag doll, what kind of pet do I have?
And why the odd name? Kathleen is giving away two prizes to two of today's commenters!

Merry Christmas Comments

Saturday, December 12, 2009

...And the winner is

Stacy Joy Netzel

Congratulations Stacy - and thanks to Catherine.

And Mona generously chose two winners for last week's conest, and has already sent them out. Thanks Mona.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Catherine Bybee Releases Binding Vows

We are thrilled to welcome special guest, Catherine Bybee, to our Roast today.
Her latest book Binding Vows
is available in print and e-book from The Wild Rose Press http://www.thewildrosepress.com/binding-vows-paperback-p-3755.html


Duncan MacCoinnich’s task… Travel to the twenty-first century Renaissance Faire, deflower the Druid virgins, and go home. Only his job is not so easily accomplished with the virgin in question, Tara McAllister.
Time is running out. The evil is closing in on them both.
Tara finds Duncan irresistible after what was supposed to be a mock Hand-fasting binds them.

When Duncan whisks her to his home in Scotland she could accept that. But, can she forgive him for taking away her modern life when she finds herself in the sixteenth century?
And is it love they feel? Or something else?


“Did you bring me out here to seduce me?” Now why had she asked that? She regretted the question almost immediately.

When Duncan’s answer didn’t come quickly she glanced up again. He was measuring her question and deciding on an answer.

“I believe ’twas part of my intent.”

“Well, I have to give you points for honesty.”

Tara busied her hands to cover up her nerves. Hands shaking, she attempted to cut off some of the cheese.

Duncan placed a hand over hers and removed the dagger from her fingers. He sliced the cheese and handed her a bite.

Tara felt a spark when their fingers touched.

“I have made you uncomfortable. I am sorry.” His voice was as polished as his moves.

“It’s okay. I really do applaud your honesty. It’s refreshing in this day and age. So many people lie to get what they want.”

“Truth is important to you?” Duncan looked away.

“Yes. I’ll be honest with you.” Tara took a long suffering breath and slowly explained what she needed to say. “Having sex with someone I barely know isn’t on my list of things to do today.” The air thickened while she awaited his reply. Her shoulders tensed.

With a straight face he asked, “What about tomorrow?”

The mist drifts lazily and the forest is dark and ominous. The horses begin to chomp at the bit and prance, she knows they are close to the castle.

Glad to have made it there safely, her men boisterously talk in the courtyard about this evening's big event. Her man at arms, handsome in his kilt lifts her down from her Palfrey while they lead their Coursers to the stable. The threat of wolves hastened their arrival.

Catherine looks lovely in her stunning damask dress. The jewel tone velvet shimmers in a stunning dark blue with side lacing and a bodice that' s a bit too low. Her sapphire ring has a huge stone in it and her necklace has three tiers of valuable hand cut stones. Delicate satin slippers cover her feet.

Suddenly Oliver opens the door and rushes to her. His kilt flapping in the breeze and his white shirt crisp and formal. He pushes past her escort and falls to his knees in front of her, while he reaches for her tiny hand he holds it gently in his huge paw. Tears of joy fall from his cheeks as Catherine places one smack on his surprised lips. He gets that I'm gone look in his eyes.

A handsome young Laird stands by the door watching Catherine enter. His kilt has a brooch with his clan crest on it for a pin. He chuckles as Catherine walks to the entrance. He knows she is a time traveler. He turns his face as Catherine passes, she is in for a surprise and he is the one who is going to do the surprising. He flexes muscular biceps and checks his sword in it's sheath. He is ready.

From inside the keep Mary, Lyn and Sharon wait for Catherine to come in. They are nervous and hope that the gathering will please Catherine.

"Sharon, did you know that you have dirt on your face and Lyn, your dress is on backwards."

Mary shakes her head. Lyn doesn't like the tone of voice Mary is using and bops her on the head. "You deserve that, you are so bossy." Lyn comments. "Yeah, she's right and I'm gonna kill that maid, she did this on purpose cause I wouldn't let her sit at the high table." Lyn realizes. "Help me you dingbat, she's almost here!"

Mary and Sharon knock heads as they both bend to help Lyn. "Ow, that hurts," Lyn exclaims. "Well you're the one with the big head," Mary counters and then comes to her senses. "Sharon and Lyn, you both look fabulous, is everything set for the feast?" "Yes, the food is being brought to the tables as we speak."

Sharon describes the setting. "There is a huge roasted boar, roasted chickens, pheasants covered with a rich buttery sauce as well as salmon, eels and herring. Large bowls of greens, peas, large loaves of stone ground bread made of barley and rye, and pottage cover the wooden sideboards. Ales and honey sweetened water fill golden goblets. For desert custard tarts in their "coffin" line the table, the food is delicious and plentiful."

Junior and Cuddles are waiting by the high table, this would be the best place to get some good food and soon Catherine would be petting and paying attention to them.
Cuddles stretches his wings and raises his ears alert for trouble. Junior watches the entrances for villains or scoundrels. Both of them alert and wary. Lairds and their lasses fill the tables awaiting Catherine. There are druid virgins in the group, and since they are in danger the animals keep an extra special watch. There will be no deflowering on their watch! Hopefully

Finally ready the three hostesses check the honor guard at the entrance to the keep. Nine strong young men stood at attention wearing only the kilt of their clan. "She'll never get past them without a good look," Sharon chuckles. Bare chests show six packs and eight packs too!

Finally Catherine enters regally and kisses the cheeks of all three hostess's, smiles sweetly to the honor guard, touching each chest as she passes and enters the great hall. Behind her the men she has touched groan with desire. Oak trestle tables in tiers fill the hall. Oliver steps up to Catherine and offers her his arm. She takes it and he leads her to the high table. Over a hundred people stop talking as Oliver raises his arm for their attention. Catherine stands raises her goblet and clears her throat in the hush. "Failte! (welcome), " she toasts, "Slainte! (good health), Alba gu brath! (Scotland foreve)" she shouts to the guests.

A roar fills the room and the stomping of feet shakes the entire place as they repeat her mantra. "Alba gu brath!" The toast rouses everyone with excitement. The room fills with toasts and the roast begins!

Now the important question for you to answer: "How does Santa deliver when you have no chimney?"

Multi-published bestselling author Catherine Bybee is first and always a wife and a mother. But her passion is writing. Anything and everything romance.
Having spent over a decade of her life working as a RN in urban Emergency Rooms, she wants to escape when she picks up a book. If it doesn't have a happily ever after, she's not interested

SOUL MATE Available Now ~ Red Rose Publishing

~~2nd Place Best Trailer by You Gotta Read Reviews JULY~~

KILT WORTHY Available Now ~ The Wilder Rose Press

~~Voted Best Trailer by You Gotta Read Reviews JUNE~~

visit Catherine at www.catherinebybee.com

Play by FoxSaver®

Friday, December 4, 2009

Today we roast Mona Risk and her release of Rx For Trust

Mona's favorite place to be is the beautiful beaches of South Florida. It's the perfect place to roast this lovely, extremely well educated and traveled author. The warm water lulls one along with a gentle lap as small waves hit the shore. Coconut palms rustle in the breeze and our team of waiters finishes setting up for Mona's roast. Each of the waiters has been bonded, we want to avoid any problems. WITCHYS WIKKED GRAPHIX
There is a huge chocolate cake with raspberry filling, it's the centerpiece for a table filled with delicious foods.

Junior and Cuddles are already enjoying the gentle surf. Chasing each other and the sand crabs that scuttle across the beach here at popular Ft. Lauderdale Beach. I hope they keep watch for out for trouble, it's their job. This place sure is hopping, you never know what you might see here. People come here from all over the world. Welcome to sunny South Florida!

We have several different types of Greek foods today. There's stuffed grape leaves, spanakopita warm from the oven, fried Kalamari, grilled Octopus, Eggplant Moussaka, kabobs of Souvlaki, great bowls of yogurt with honey, huge Greek salads with olives and hunks of Feta cheese, Koulourakia for dipping in your coffee, and for desert, the Baklava rich with honey and the rice Rizogalo. That's not half of what we have. The food looks wonderful!

I hope Oliver ordered the special bottles of Porto for Mona, direct from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Ah, there they are right next to her lounger, just inside the cabana. I see people approaching, bare feet on sun warmed sand. Most interesting are the different flip flops on the women, must be a fad. Cover ups, and sundresses hide bathing suits beneath them. Easy on and off when they try out the beautiful surf.

Things are starting to get really crowded and I am getting so excited. Oh here comes Lyn and Sharon. They both look so cute in their sun dresses, swim suits underneath ready for anything.

"Hi girls you look so cute and your sun hats are adorable." Mary hugs them both. "Gosh what a crowd we have," Sharon trips over her feet and knocks poor Lyn onto the ground. "Here ladies, let me help you both up." Sharon smacks Lyn back who gives her a raspberry and smiles at me.

"Well we're ready, is that Mona I see walking next to those two hunks? They look like heroes from her books don't they?

Yes, that's her," I answer. "Mona over here." Lyn waves and hollers to Mona. Sharon opens one of the bottles of port and sniffs the sweet aroma before pouring a glass for Mona. "Mona looks so cute in her long white Karlo Colletto cover up, those slits up the side are just the right touch." Sharon offers her a glass of port. Suddenly Oliver rushes in, bare chest oiled, and his open sleeveless t-shirt flapping. " No, " Sharons mouth drops," he's wearing a speedo!"

Oliver is on a mission as he pushes all three hostess's out of his way and they all go flying. He then throws himself onto the ground at Mona's feet. He prostrates himself and kisses her feet.
Mary groans loudly, because both Lyn and Sharon have landed on her.

They get up groaning and then Sharon gets mad and takes over. "Oliver," she gives him a look, "the auction option." That's all it takes.

Oliver rushes to make sure they are okay. He helps them all up and with Sharon's nod he goes back to Mona. He guides them all into the airy, beautiful cabana. Where a comfortable lounge chair awaits Mona. Mona walks in noticing the Hybiscus, Gardenia, Bird of Paradise and other subtropical plants and flowers that fill the temporary sun shelter. She takes a seat and smiles at Oliver with a twinkle in her eye.

"Welcome to your roast Mona." Oliver gives her a sweet kiss on the cheek and holds out three copies of Rx for Trust to be autographed. He's so hooked on her books. She smiles at him and takes the books. Mona signs with a flourish and then stands up to address the crowd, holding her glass of wine high above her head.

"Welcome," she turns one way, "Welcome my friends!", she says to all the guests on one side of her and turns to the other side.

As the crowd roars back at her. "Mona, Mona, Mona!" Everyone downs their glasses And Mona yells back to the crowd. "Let the party begin!"

Mona's new release Rx for Trust will blow you away!

Dear Friends from Roast and Toast, thank you for allowing me to present my new book Rx FOR TRUST and to discuss the emotional problems created by domestic violence and their lingering effects years after the actual abuse has stopped. By the way, I should mention that far from being a dark story, my medical romance is a sweet and spicy story that will make you smile, laugh and cry.

Question to readers: Do you think Olivia has the duty to inform her daughter of the truth about her father?

The daughter of a professor and writer, I grew up surrounded by books and started writing my own stories at an early age but I also wanted to be a doctor. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stand the sight of blood or dissect the adorable rabbit in my premed lab. It was easier to shift to a different major, prepare a Ph.D. in Chemistry and dedicate myself to a career in environmental clean-up.

An early retirement allowed me to pursue my dream of writing romance novels and work on my first book, TO LOVE A HERO, through which I lived again my fantastic trips to Belarus. I never forgot the medical dream of my youth and indulged in creating gorgeous doctors and handsome specialists for my medical romances. BABIES IN THE BARGAIN was followed by Rx for TRUST, the first book in the series DOCTOR’S ORDER.

Rx FOR TRUST, released by The Wild Rose Press on December 4, 2009, is a sweet and spicy medical romance about two psychiatrists who don’t practice the principles they preach to their patients.

Contest Awards: First Place in Central Ohio Ignite the Flame, Second Place in Heart of Denver, The Molly ; Third Place in FTHRW Golden Gateway.

Short Synopsis:

Olivia Crane is a psychiatrist at Cincinnati University Hospital. She is also a woman with a troubled past and secrets by the bucket-load. Deep, dark one

s that may destroy her carefully constructed world and all hope of a happy future.

Dr. Luc George, the French psychiatrist, she loved ten years ago, detests secrets. When he received an invitation from Olivia’s boss to consult at Cincinnati University Hospital, Luc wrongly assumes that Olivia wants him back.

All hell breaks loose when Luc strolls into her office, with a confident smile and a perceptive eye, determined to rekindle their relationship and threatening to unravel the secrets of her thorny past. Can Luc win Olivia’s trust and love before her inner fears destroy their second chance at happiness?


Olivia loved her mother to death, but at the moment she wanted to scream her frustration at her beaming Mama. It was obvious Marianna Crane had fallen in love with Luc the moment she’d seen him, or more precisely at the very minute he bent over and kissed the back of her hand with an “Enchant√©, madame.”

“I’m delighted to meet you, Luc. Please have a seat. Where have I put my glasses? Melissa, bring the tray of hors d’oeuvres from the kitchen. Olivia, can you serve the drinks? Luc, what can I get you?”

Mama bustled with energy, the way she always did before starting a new project. Seeing her fussing around Luc, Olivia was afraid to guess the name of the new project—her mother’s ongoing goal.

“May I help with the drinks?” Luc offered.

“Of course. Make yourself at home,” Mama purred.

Dropping onto one of the overstuffed chairs of the old-fashioned living room, Olivia rested a moment. She liked coming home to her mother’s. The warm aroma of potpourri soothed her rattled nerves. Tonight, the garlic and nutmeg smell of Mama’s masterpiece roast emanated from the kitchen. Her mother had sharpened her tools to conquer their guest.

Olivia recognized the symptoms. Good dinner, good drinks, good stories. Luc wasn’t going to leave unscathed tonight, not when her mother wanted Luc’s heart for her daughter.

Mama turned toward her. Eyes narrowed, she signaled to Olivia to follow her into the office. “I need you for a second,” Marianna ordered with a you-failed-big-time look.

Olivia braced herself for the worst.

As soon as they stepped into the office, Mama closed the glass double doors behind her, spun around to face Olivia and pointed to the door. “This Luc, is he the French boy you dated when you were in med school?”

Mama’s scowl promised her lecture was going to be worse than Olivia had expected.

“The one you never wanted to bring home to meet your mama and dad?” Marianna propped her fists on her hips.

Olivia took a deep breath and exhaled. “Yes.” It would be a long discussion, all right.

“And you sent him packing? And you let us believe he was no good? Olivia, are you crazy or what?” Marianna snatched a chocolate from a crystal bowl and popped it into her mouth.

“Mom!” Olivia scowled and took a step toward the door.

“Oh no. I have to tell you what I think. Madonna mia, you are a great doctor, but as a smart woman...phht.” Her mother cut the air with her hand. “Any uneducated Italian girl would know that when she meets such a handsome, nice, good-mannered...” Her mother paused for a second to catch her breath and launched again. “Intelligent, famous, wealthy...” She stopped, at a loss for adjectives, and glanced toward the living room for more inspiration.

“Mom, I get your point.”

“I’m not finished. He came back. Now you have a second chance. Don’t lose it, girl. For once, listen to your mother and keep him. You understand, Olivia?” Mama threw another chocolate into her mouth and chewed on it and then clucked her tongue.

“I’m afraid about Melissa learning—”

“So what if she learns her father’s a rotten ass? She’ll hate him. Big deal. She’ll love you more for protecting her.” Her mother stood on tiptoe to pat her cheek. “Bambina, it’s a great time you think about yourself for a change. Grab him without hesitation.” She tugged at Olivia’s hand and walked toward the door. “I’ll be watching you tonight. I’ll keep Melissa out of the way, and I want to see some action.”