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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A secret castle Birthday Celebration, with Linda Nightingale and the characters of 'Gemini Rising'

"Are we nearly there yet," Mac gasps. "I think I feel seasick."
"Yes, we should be there by now," Lyn puts in.
"I'm rowing as fast as I can," Patsy says, her biceps bulging with the effort of rowing the four of them across the waves. She eyes Lyn's enormous feet peeping out from beneath the folds of her purple ball gown.

"If you took your shoes off you could use your feet as paddles and we'd get there quicker."

Lyn makes a face and aims a playful cuff at her sister hostess. The boat rocks alarmingly and Mary clings on to the side of the little boat.  "Stop arguing you three, or you'll capsize us.

"Well, you don't have to worry," Patsy tells her, your 'girls' mean you've got built in water wings, you'll just float!"

"Speak for yourself," Mary chuckles under her breath, have you looked at your arms lately?"

"Where are we going?" Mac queries, looking around with curious eyes.

"Oh heavens, here we go again," Lyn grins.  "How can anyone be so absent minded?"

"We're going to Alastair Keep," Patsy explains, "The twins Alina and Alain are holding a 25th Birthday party for Alina's husband, and the castle's on an island off the English coast."

"I don't see why we couldn't just fly straight there," Mac says, looking a little green around the gills.

"Because there's nowhere to land, I expect," Mary tells her,"It's an island! Anyway, we're here now."

Soon the four hostesses have beached their boat and linking arms, make their way to the castle, getting the hems of their long ball gowns only a little wet. They pass a field hidden from the view  of the castle, with several horses, and one of them, a stunning palomino prances around an enclosure, apart from the rest.  

"Boy," Mac gasps, "what a beauty!"

"I wondered what had happened to our animals," Lyn mutters, as she glimpses a little unicorn, and a rather large dog with a hampster ridiing on his back,  with a green fairy clinging on. "I'm not sure how Hampy and Nibby got here, but I guess Cuddles flew over with Foster."

"Oh dear," Mary murmurs, I hope they behave and don't cause any trouble, or Linda will not be pleased!"

"Wow" Patsy says, as they arrive on the sweeping green lawns before the beautiful stone built castle. "This is amazing. I didn't think it would be quite so grand." 

They spy Oliver, charming and handsome as always in his tux. He holds a tray of glasses and champagne in one hand, and waves to them with the other. They follow him to the food pavillions.
The tables are piled high with finger foods of every description. There are more tables with mouth watering deserts, and on a side table  is a fantastic three tier birthday cake, topped with a sugar copy of the book 'Gemini Rising.'  which Linda has written about the twins
Another marquee houses the bar, where beverages to suit every taste are served, from fruit juices and beer to sparkling champagne for the toasts. The hostesses do their best to stop themselves from drooling and admire the other guests, the men in elegant morning suits and the women in beautiful gowns of every colour.

A hush falls in the main marquee as the twins, Alain and Alina, and Alina's husband, Rory, and Linda Nightingale herself enter, escorted by Oliver.  The twins are amazing, with their pale blond hair and tawny coloured eyes, and Linda is a vision in a stunning silver gown. 

When it is time to for her the guest of honour to open his gifts,  Alina ushers everyone to the castle and to a long corridor, lit by torches. She commands everyone, including her husband, to wait, while her brother disappears through a heavy wooden door. 
Everyone looks at each other wondering what is going on. 

A few minutes later the door opens, and Alain reappears, leads a magnificent palomino stallion, his coat shining like liquid gold in the torchlight. He is a Lusitano, imported from Portugal, the same one the hostesses saw earlier,.  Alain walks up to Rory and places the lead rope in his hands.

There is a ripple of delighted applause from the guests, as Rory embraces his wife and murmurs his thanks to Alain, then everyone returns to the food pavilions to continue the celebrations and congratulate Linda Nightingale on the release of her wonderful novel Gemini Rising.  

Welcome to your Roast, Linda, and congratulations on your latest release. Let's found out more about it:


Love, Lust and Danger


From birth, Alain and Alina Alastair are a scientific miracle—identical male-female twins—a biological impossibility.  Destined to tread forbidden paths, they discover love, lust, and danger lurking in their future

When their parents whisk their miracle children home to an isolated island, their lives reach a turning point.
            Alain craves escape from the seclusion. 

            Alina yearns to express her love with a man who treasures her.

            The secrets at Alastair Keep threaten to undermine the very foundations of the world in which these impossible twins live.


Alain tucked the in-flight magazine into the seat pocket and gazed out the scratched window of the 747.  Distance vanished on clouds fleeing beneath the silver wings, carrying him from a dark-eyed beauty to a fair-haired princess locked in an island castle.  From one life in the sun to a score of problems.

Someone was going to get hurt.
Already he hurt—a low throbbing like a toothache.  If he returned to Portugal, Alina would be devastated.  His father would disown him.  If he picked up his discarded heritage, a part of him would die and Maritza would grieve.  For a time.  He wasn’t vain enough to think the black-haired beauty would die without him.

The choice lay in his hands.
Damn life got complicated when he tried to declare independence from The Keep.  He shifted his long legs cramped beneath the airline seat.  He preferred not to think, but fragments of memory plagued the corners of his eyes.

A vivid picture of Alina supplanted images of recent days drenched white-hot by a Portuguese sun.  His twin’s presence was more corporeal than the woman sitting to his left.  Welcome or not, Alina was there inside him, the mere thought of her a compulsion.  He sensed her anticipation mounting as the miles melted.  Excitement tingled over him.  In self defense, he grasped at a memory of riding the splendid Lusitano stallions.  As he pictured Maritza framed in an arbor of roses, his heart dived.

Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Atlanta and Houston.  She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for thirteen years.

With Cardinal Desires, a vampire paranormal to be released in 2013 by Double Dragon Publishing, Linda won the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award.  She works in the legal field and has two wonderful sons.  She loves Andalusian and Lusitano horses, her snappy little sports car and her parlor grand piano.

Visit her at http://www.lindanightingale.
com (site designed by Simon Nightingale)
To win a copy of  Linda's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.


  1. Hi Linda, welcome to your Roast and congratulations on 'Gemini Rising' it sounds like a really original concept. wishing you many sales.

  2. Good Morning Ladies! I must say we are all looking very festive. Linda, great premise for a story and congratulations on the release. By the way, I love your silver gown!

  3. Lyn hugs her sister hostess.
    Hello Patsy, yes doesn't Linda look great in that gown - you're looking pretty good yourself I have to say!
    I really want to read 'Gemini Rising', it sounds so intriguing.

  4. mac sidles up to give hugs all around. wow, we look so hot! she winks at Linda. great party! what a perfect location to celebrate the release of Gemini Rising. great premise by the way. an island, gorgeous castle, and mysterious twins...yumm. my favorite kind of read.

  5. Hi Mac *Hugs*. Yes we do look rather good don't we, I love a posh party! :) You're right, this is a great location, a castle on an island, lovely.

  6. I deleted my former comment because I made a funny typo! Ladies, you have outdone yourselves with this lovely celebration for Rory's birthday. Alain, Alina and Rory are delighted as well. The food is delicious, and I love champagne. Alastair Keep is a long way from the mainland, but worth the trip? All of you look so beautiful in your stunning gowns.

  7. Linda you look marvelous! Any hunks available? I'm on the prowl! There is a real twist to this story, an emotional and potentially devastating one for all involved. Can these two twins follow their genetic paths to happiness or will the flowers in the attic ??? syndrome ruin everyone's lives??????Can only say Linda has a terrific imagination. Ready to party girl?

  8. Give us a hug Mary - that's really cryptic - makes me want to read the book even more now!

    Yes let's party, see if we can find those hunks - bet Mac and Patsy have beaten us to it - and ooh, Linda's dancing with Alain, what a piece of eye candy he is!

  9. Oh YOOO HOOOO Hunky Boy! Mama has something for you! I'd better get a drink first, give myself some courage. YOOO HOOO Hunky Boy!

  10. LOL Patsy - when ever did you need liquid courage! *Grin* I trhink I'll joinyou though. Did I see Mead there at the bar?

  11. I dare say I've needed liquid courage in my time - I wasn't always so outgoing ya know! I love the names of these guys, Alain and Rory - YOOOO HOOO where are you!

  12. Mead mead everywhere. not a cup to spare. *hick* that stuff is potent. I'm going to get that hunk over there to help me check out that castle. tall dark and dangerous. the castle I mean, and the hunk.* finger waves at the girls*

  13. Hi Linda and everyone. Such a feast. I'm starving. LOL. Your book sounds very interesting. Sounds very emotional too.
    Sue B

  14. Hi Sue! So nice to see you *Patsy trips down the stairs* Oops - maybe a little too much mead - naw - never TOO MUCH mead. Perhaps I should partake of the scrumptious looking food! My stomach just growled really loud.

  15. I was just doing a bit of exploring and found all kinds of cool stuff. I leaned against the fireplace upstairs and suddenly it revolved around. I was afraid to step off and look, I coulda got stuck there, Inside was a long cobwebby hallway, anyone wanna look with me? I heard moans and I
    swear there was a ghost in there!

  16. I'll go with you Mary. That sounds like fun as long as I am not alone and there are no spiders. LOL.
    Sue B

  17. Hi Sue

    Help yourself - can't have one of our most loyal followers starving! :)

    Oh dear, Patsy and Mac, perhaps I should have told you to go easy on the mead - it's a lot more potent than it looks. Yes, I think you need to eat something to soak it all up.

    Now where's Mary disappeard to? Oh there you are Mary, did you know your hair is full of cobwebs?

    What was that ghostly wailing sound I just heard?

  18. Come on lets go see whats back there!
    Sue can't guarantee no spiders, so you can stay behind me. As long as when we see the ghost you let me stand behind you! Come on, if Patsy and Mac are bombed they will come for sure. Lyn, there's mead in there!
    She'll be at the head of the line now.
    Mac this way that's the exit Linda is probably gonna flirt with him.

  19. Ooh, I'm coming Mary, I'm coming - let me just grab a glass and a copy of Linda's book -

  20. Hi Sue! You and Mary are braver than I am. ghostly sounds and long dark corridors. I think I'll just stay with the hunks and champagne! Patsy, I need liquid courage even if I did breathe these two handsome fellows into existence. What a party! Where's Oliver?

  21. Might need a couple of drinks before we go in there but; I'm game. Maybe we'll find some treasure. LOL. Think we can all see the beautiful horses later?
    Sue B

  22. I have some kind of disgusting thing on my heel. You don't have cows around here? Do you Linda?

  23. LOL Sue, I think you might see some pretty horses sooner than you thinnk, lookd likr Mac's found their = er = leftovers!
    Linda, last time I saw Oliver he had his nose in your book! How about another excerpt when you have a moment?

  24. No cows Mac. Some sheep I think, but chances are the stuff on your Gucci shoe is a road apple! :-) Another excerpt! Yes, indeedy.

  25. Mac, you aren't wearing any shoes!!
    Mary points to Mac's shoes in her hand. Mac looks down at her foot and passes out. What is that on her foot?
    Well whoever is gonna go with me help me get Mac up. I hear that the ghosts in this place are five deceased Horsemasters who died under weird circumstances. They never found the bodies. The twins are laughing at me. What's so funny?
    They must know a lot about this place. Hey, look who just walked in. It's, it's...

  26. Linda do you know something about this place you neglected to tell us about? Things are getting odd and the twins look awfully nervous. What's up??

  27. Sorry I can't stay, ladies, but just wanted to pop in and tell Linda...congratulations and I knew you could do it! That's a fantastic cake by the way. Is the book edible, too. Can I pick up a glass of champagne on the way out?

  28. The one on the cake is. LOL! Let Oliver give you a glass of bubbly and help you grab a few tidbits before you go.
    Tony-Paul knows good writing too!

  29. Lyn, I think it is. I'm so excited my glasses are fogging up. Yee Haw! They made it all of them! And the party is gonna roar now! Are we gonna fight over who gets Jessie this time? It's my turn!

  30. I love those gowns! And I love horses and these pictured are beautiful. Loved the roast ladies. Congrats on your release, Linda.

  31. Oh! my! goodness! ladies! I do so love a party in a castle. The fare is totally splendid, and I'll just a little glass of champagne, please. No..not in that fiddly little flute! Do you see the very large silver vessel on that side table? That's the one...just fill it up please. Of course I know it's usually the one that's shared by everyone around the table but this is a buffet, FGS and I'll just hijack it for myself! hic,hic, *waves bye,bye*

  32. Great party, ladies! I love castles, the spookier the better. Not too keen on the spiders though.
    Linda, your book sounds really intriguing!

  33. Oooh *Lyn goes all wobbly at the knees. What a magnificent stud - the rider aint bad either.OK Mary, we won't argue. You can have Jesse I'll have The Duke (I prefer his horse anyway!)

  34. It's just amazing how young they are when they come to visit us in time!
    Cowboys at their peak.
    Anyhow, Linda, do the twins know about any ghosts in this place?
    Hey, did you hear that? Sudden quiet overtakes the room. Linda seated at the piano next to a really hot looking dude while he begins to play her favorite tune. Have you ever seen her look so, so, awestruck? Who is that man Linda?
    Talk about studs, who is it??
    Jessie, hold on I have to see...

  35. *Waves to Tony Paul* So glad you like the cake, I understand Oliver worked on it all week - as Mary says the book cover on it is edible and I understand Linda's book goes down very well too - as food for the intellect!

  36. Hi Nancy, hi Paula, so glad you could join us!

  37. Hi Nancy, hi Paula! Grab that silver chalice and have some champagne! Waves at Tony-Paul. Glad you could drop by and join in the party. Guest are dropping in faints, I hear. Also something about ghosts. I have it on good authority from the twins that of course the castle is haunted -- by their Aunt Lydia! She walks the Leap, too!

  38. Eeek something just touched me on the shoulder - and it wasn't the Duke. Wasn't a spider either, it was something cold and ethereal and it whispered in my ear like a ghostly wind from another era.

    Linda where's that other excerpt you promised us? Post it up here, pretty please!

  39. Aunt Lydia? AAAHHHHHH! It was a ghost!!!!!
    Why couldn't it be a handsome guy??

  40. We don't get that lucky, Mary! Guess we'll have to do with what we got!

    Oooh Aunt Lydia? Yikes!

    I wonder where Linda, Patsy and Mc are - d'you reckon they lucked out?

  41. I didn't luck out, dang it, I passed out under the table. I did however have a great dream. some spooky looking folks just crowned me queen. now where did I put that sceptre?

  42. Could be. But, you'd think they woulda let us know. Hey, where'd the Gang go, where's the Duke? You don't think those two ran off with them all do you? Just like Patsy to flex for them!

  43. Oh Mac, does this mean we have to call you Queen Mac, and curtsy?

    Wish I knew where the Duke disappeared to Mary. I wouldn't be surprised if he's gone off with Linda, she's bewitching all the hunks tonight.

    Oh look there's Calisa over there talking to the horses, didn't see her in the shadows. *waves*. Let's go over and join her, you never know, we might strike lucky if the guys come back!

  44. It would take a blue moon for me to get lucky!

  45. Bring them back Patsy and Mac, no hogging. What about Linda? Did she grab all the guys? Figures, just like that southern belle to grab all the hot guys and leave us here alone. The twins are laughing. Hmmmmm.

  46. Careful what you wish for Mary dear - you never know! :)

  47. Well I'm off to explore the place, got my ghostbusters machine so I ain't ascared. Wanna come with me, everyone else is missing! Come on Lyn follow me. We'll find the guys if we have to face the dead to do it!

  48. Hi all! Thought I'd come join the party.

    Congratulations on Gemini Rising. I'm glad the tale found a good home. The sneak peek you shared before it was published had me intrigued.

    Love the cover, too. :)

  49. Wow what a night! Mary and I didn't find any more ghosts but we certainy had some interesting dreams!

    Hi Karen. Welcome to Karen's party, it's great to see you here. I agree. Linda's cover is so eye catching, I really like it too - and I can't wait to read it after reading the excerpt and seeing the trailer.

    Help yourself to some food while you wander round and explore this place. Mac and Patsy and Linda are around her somewhere - and the champagne and mead has been flowing!

  50. Great party ladies! Sorry I was sadly absent in the evening. Mary, that handsome man at the piano is Morgan D'Arcy, the hero in my upcoming Sinners' Opera. He's a concert pianist, a British lord and a vampire. And he is HOT.

  51. Karen, Nancy, Calisa thanks for stopping by this great party that the Ladies have thrown for my characters.

    The ghost--Aunt Lydia--walked off the Leap for lost love.

  52. Here's the excerpt Lyn (darling that she is) requested.

    Rory rushed him, grabbing his shirt, his fist drawn back to strike. The horses snorted, hooves scrambling on cobbles. Aiden Alastair strode into the barn hall, assessing the situation at a glance.
    “By all that’s holy,” Aiden shouted, “have you both taken leave of your senses?”
    Rory freed Alain with a little shove. “I’m rearranging your son’s pretty face. You’ve said Alain is too pretty for his own good.”
    The old, familiar humiliation and pain twisted in Alain, but he squared his shoulders, and with blood on his mouth, faced his father.
    Rory’s lips curled in a mocking smile. “I was just trying to help you out, Lord Alastair.” He gave the title hateful emphasis.
    Alastair crossed his arms, glaring at his son-in-law. “You’re my daughter’s husband and as such this is your home, but I won’t tolerate fighting beneath my roof.”
    Rory hung his head, looked down, said nothing. His rigid posture sagged.
    Father’s eyes found Alain. His expression altered from angry to hurt. “I would have expected more of you. Did you start this?”
    Of course, his father had jumped to the conclusion that Alain was to blame. He was always ready to believe the worst about him. He could tune them out, suppress his feelings and stoically endure. But not this time. Damage, like love and hate, came in degrees. All his life Alain had suffered at this man’s clumsy hand. He arched an eyebrow.
    Rory’s gaze lifted to Alain’s face. He gasped, “Don’t.”
    “You’ve always been disappointed in me, Father.” The chill in his voice bled into his limbs. “But frankly, I don’t give a damn. Never have. Never will.”
    Splotches of anger dotted Father’s face. “How dare you say that to me? You’re a damned fine excuse for a son. If I could, I’d pass the title to Rory.”
    The painful attack knocked the wind out of Alain. To be told he meant less to his father than another man hurt. He hadn’t believed Father had the power to break his heart. He collapsed on the wooden bench beside the bridles and stared at the old oriental carpet he used for polishing Spirit’s hooves. Suddenly, he hated the wealth surrounding him.
    “Aiden.” Mother strode down the aisle, seized her husband’s arm and shook him. “I overheard. How could you be so cruel?”
    “It’s all right, Mother.” Alain climbed to his feet. “It’s no surprise.”
    “No, it isn’t all right.” Mother glared into Father’s eyes. “You were angry. You didn’t mean what you said. Tell him, Aiden.”
    Alain unsaddled Prospero, led him into his stall and slid the leather halter off his beautiful head. Father remained silent as he repeated the performance with Spirit. The pain hit him like a lightning strike. His solar plexus blazed into an aching knot. Clutching the apex of his ribs, he staggered against the door.
    Light from the world outside framed Nye. The old man gazed at Alain as if he was the only person in the hallway. “Alina.”
    At the sound of her name, the pain twisted tighter and hotter. Agony folded Alain double. Mother took a step toward him. He waved her away.
    “Hurry,” Nye said, standing aside as Rory shouldered past.
    Mother dashed behind Rory, Father at her side.
    “How did you know?” Alain asked the servant.
    Nye’s gaze shifted to the floor. “I heard her cries.”
    Alain shook his head. “What were you doing on the third floor? You weren’t, were you? How did you know?”
    “Go to her. Your sister needs you more than she needs the others.”
    The pain in his lower abdomen slowed Alain, but he caught his parents on the second landing. A soft footstep sounded behind. He glanced over his shoulder. The old man followed them up the stairs, worry pinching his face.
    Loud, piercing screams interspersed a terrifying quiet. Rory jerked the door open, flung himself into their bedroom. Alina wasn’t on the bed. A strangled cry launched Rory into action. He strode to the bathroom, halted in the doorway.
    Rory wrung his hands. “Oh, dear Lord, Alina, honey.”
    Alain slid to a stop, his hands trembling. Rory sank to his knees beside Alina.

  53. Stop back by on Sunday for the winner of Gemini Rising!

  54. Oh man I got lost looking for those ghosts. And I am covered in spider webs. Yucky! That was a great except Linda. Lots of drama.
    Sue B

  55. Ooh Linda. that Morgan D'Arcy is something else! I was completely mesmerised listening to that beautiful music!

    Hi Sue, glad you're still with us. It's a nice warm morning, why don't you go outside and wash the cobwebs out of your hair in the fountain! :)

    Oh Linda, what a fantastic excerpt. Thank you so much. What more could one ask for - drama, suspense, romance - horses - handsome hunks - it's got everything and sounds such an amazing read.

  56. great except Linda. wow what a night! I need a drink. Oh Oliver sweetie...

  57. Mac, you gotta love those smart phones. NOT! Thanks everyone for the encouragement on the excerpt. There is a lot of tension among the characters in Gemini Rising.

  58. I know I am late! You, Linda, still look fabulous. Loved the scene, of course!

  59. Hi Mary, lovely to see you, there's still plenty of virtual food and drink! :)


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