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, June 19, 2015

Debby Grahl celebrates her latest release - Rue Toulouse - in a boutique in New Orleans

Lilly, LaVerne, Mary, Mac, and Lyn look up at the ivy covered walls and wrought iron grill work of the nineteenth century building that houses Ma Cherie, an exclusive boutique in New Orleans. As the fringed surrey comes to a stop, harness jangles and the lead horse shakes his head and snorts.

Lilly fans herself and then wrinkles her nose when the feathers on her mask tickle. "I love all those window displays. Can we shop for souvenirs while we're here?"
Mac swats her hand with her fan before fanning herself. "No. This isn't a shopping trip. It's a celebration of Debby's latest release, Rou Toulouse."

"I feel silly going into a boutique dressed for Mardi Gras," LaVerne says as she adjusts the big hat she's wearing to protect her fair skin from the blazing, late afternoon sun.

"We're dressed for a masked ball, not Mardi Gras," Lyn says as she hikes up her long Grecian gown and climbs down from the carriage. "Debby wanted to hold this celebration at Caterine's shop, but Remi wanted a masked ball because that's where he and Caterine first met."

"And they decided to compromise. How romantic," Mary gushes as she adjusts her bodice, tucking
the "girls" back into her low decolletage as Oliver steps out onto the street to help her down. Mary fakes a swoon and leans into him. He smiles politely, but Lilly, LaVerne, and Mac groan in unison.

Lyn, oblivious to the goings on behind her, leads the way inside the exclusive boutique. The expensive jewelry and racks of exquisite, one of a kind clothing have been stored in a back room to make space for the guests. Velvet, Victorian parlor chairs and sofas, usually arranged outside the dressing rooms are positioned strategically throughout the store, while claw foot, antique tables normally reserved for displaying fabric swatches, trim, or unique one of a kind buttons, now hold silver trays filled with tempting dishes and savory appetizers.

The delicious aromas float toward the hostesses as they enter the cool, air-conditioned boutique.

LaVerne lifts her masks and inhales deeply. "Yum. Something smells delicious."

"The inside of this place is bigger than it looks from the street," Mac says.

"But it's still a bit small for a masquerade ball," LaVerne adds as Debby rushes forward to clasp her sister hostess' hands.

"Oh, this will be so perfect," she gushes. "I knew you ladies could help me pull it off."

Mary looks around. "But will the guests all be able to squeeze in?"

A mischief smile crosses Lyn's face. "There's room in here for the guests and your big bazooms."

Lilly snickers, and Mary glares at both her and Lyn. "But will your boat size feet and Lilly's big butt fit?"

Lilly spins around like a dog chasing his tail. "Does this dress make my butt look big."

Mac looks up as if she's just now realized where she is and repeats Mary's question. "Will the guests all be able to squeeze in?"

Debby smiles reassuringly. "Caterine and Remi have invited only their closet friends, and there is a beautiful courtyard out back where a bar and band are set up. It's going to be a magical evening, and the food! You should see all the food. The tables run the length of the building and spill out into the courtyard."

Lilly inhales again. "Is that seafood I smell? I love seafood!"

"Ah, but of course." Debby smiles as a tall man and woman approach hand in hand. He is dressed like a pirate, and she is dressed as a beautiful princess. 
"There's gumbo, crawfish étouffée, shrimp, red beans and rice, and so much more. I'll let Caterine tell you about the cake."

Caterine smiles as Debby introduces her and Remi to her sister hostesses. Remi kisses each of their hands. Mary fakes another swoon but Lilly, LaVerne, and Mac don't groan or roll their eyes this time. They're too busy trying to see under Remi's mask to see if his face looks as good as the rest of him.

Caterine smiles sweetly at her love and turns back to the hostesses. "The Dodberge cake is Remi's favorite so I ordered a  lemon and chocolate cake."

LaVerne wrinkles her brow. "Is it some kind of American cake?"

"Not really." Caterine smiles. "The Doberge cake is a New Orleans specialty."

"You can't come to the city without trying it," Debby adds, licking her lips. "This  cake made Gambino's world famous."

Caterine nods. "It's made by hand and consists of six layers of buttermilk cake layers separated by a secret recipe custard filling. After assembling the layers, the cake is covered in buttercream icing and then glazed with a rich fondant icing."

"For the foodie in you, this cake will please your sweet tooth like never before," Remi says to the hostess, but he has eyes only for Caterine. "You can choose your favorite Doberge cake flavor from chocolate, lemon, caramel or strawberry. I'm wishing now, Caterine had ordered all four flavors."

Always eager to try new drinks, Lilly asks, "So, what are we drinking at this shindig?"

Debby smiles. "Whatever you'd like. Remi likes a local beer called Turbodog. Caterine likes red wine or sweet ice tea."

"And Lilly likes anything alcoholic," Mary adds with a wink and a nudge.

Mac laughs. "Well someone call Oliver over here so we can all grab a drink and get this party started!"

Today's skit was written by Lilly Gayle.


Fashion designer Caterine Doucette attends a masquerade ball dressed as a shimmering ice princess where she encounters ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. The princess and the pirate come together for one unforgettable night of passion.
When Caterine inherits the family’s exclusive boutique, Ma Chérie, an attempt is made on her life, for someone in the Doucette household will stop at nothing to possess what they feel is rightfully theirs. 

Remi, working for a private security company, sets out to unmask Caterine’s would-be assassin, but finds himself torn between his desire for her and painful memories of another socialite’s betrayal.
Falling for Remi, Caterine struggles with old embedded pain, leaving her afraid to open herself to love.  In the heart of the Big Easy, the two must learn to trust one another if they’re to survive in a world of family greed and ruthless revenge.

 “But isn’t that what’s fun about a masked ball, not knowing who the mystery person is you’re talking to? What’s better yet, you can do and say things you’d never consider doing or saying because they also don’t know who you are. As the saying goes, laissez les bons temps rouler.”
 Elaine coughed, almost choking on her champagne. “Wait a minute. Back up. Did I just hear you say, let the good times roll?”

   Caterine nodded. “I can’t get what happened with Jonathan out of my mind, and I’ve decided that tonight the old Caterine doesn’t exist. Since I’m in disguise, this is the perfect opportunity to prove to myself that Jonathan and those other men are wrong.”

    Elaine cocked her head. “Okay, what exactly do you have in mind?”

    Caterine grinned. “If I meet someone who makes my pulse quicken and my toes curl . . .” She shrugged. “Who knows? Tonight the ice princess may melt away.”

    A wide smile spread across Elaine’s face. “Good for you. If I’m not mistaken, your chance might be coming this way. Good luck.”

    Before Caterine could respond, Elaine disappeared into the crowd. She turned in the direction Elaine had been looking and caught her breath. The man dressed entirely in black coming toward her reminded her of a dangerous outlaw from a past century. Lean and muscular, he stood close to six foot. He wore a loose, long-sleeved, V-necked shirt, snug pants, and low boots. As he walked, his body language exuded confidence, power, and incredible sex appeal.

    The closer he got, the harder her heart pounded. Okay, take a deep breath. You can do this. He doesn’t know who you are; if you make an idiot out of yourself, it won’t matter.

    “Hello, Princess. I believe this dance is ours,” he said, his bayou cadence low and sultry.

    Bereft of speech, she could only stare into the thick-lashed, deep blue eyes behind the handsome stranger’s black bandit mask.

    He flashed white teeth in a sensuous grin. “I’m not mistaken am I, cher? You looked so beautiful standing there glittering, I assumed you must be a fairy princess.”

    She swallowed hard, hoping her voice was steady. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, monsieur, but I’m not a fairy princess. I’m known as an ice princess. But who knows, I still might be able to grant you a wish.”

    “No, cher.” He stepped closer. Gently placing his fingers under her chin, he tilted her head back to gaze directly into her eyes. “Whoever said you were an ice princess wasn’t man enough to release your heat. Grant me my wish and I’ll do just that.”

Buy Links for Rue Toulouse: Amazon, Barnes&Noble,Apple iBooks

Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David, and their cat, Tigger. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired from childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books. Debby belongs to RWA, Florida Romance Writers, Hearts Across History and Lowcountry Romance Writers.


5.0 out of 5 starsRomantic Suspense done right!, June 10, 2015
A strong romantic suspense that has a wonderful cast of characters, the great setting of New Orleans around Mardi Gras and a mystery that had me guessing until the end.
5.0 out of 5 starsSexy pirate meets ice princess and sparks fly, June 3, 2015
I loved this book. It was a quick read, mainly because I couldn’t put it down. It had everything, a feisty heroine and a sexy guy who gets several opportunities to step in and save the girl. Insert sigh.
This review is from: Rue Toulouse (Kindle Edition)

To win a copy of Debby'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.
(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)


  1. Welcome to our sister hostess Debby as she celebrates her latest release with us.
    Wishing you many, many sales Debby, enjoy your party.

    1. What a fun roast, Debby. Everything looks delicious, but I have just one question...is it too early to try one of those beers Remi's been raving about?

    2. Lilly Gayle, it's never too early, this is New Orleans!

    3. Thanks, Lyn. It's going to be a great party!

    4. Well, then. *holds up frosted glass of Turbodog* Here's to Rue Toulouse, Debby. Cheers!

    5. I'll join you in that toast. The Turbodog looks too good to resist! I love a dark beer. So excited to be celebrating your new release with you - and what a fun way to do it, Debby! *Cheers*

    6. So so sorry I'm late. I gobbled down a huge slice of that yummy Dodberge cake and fell into a sugar coma. Okay, real life smacked me over the head and I was away from the computer, but I would have preferred the cake. :-) Super congrats on your release, Debby. I couldn't help myself. I had to one-click.

  2. Good morning everyone and welcome to Ma Cherie and The Big Easy, New Orleans! Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

  3. Caterine seems to be having a good time. I hope none of her hateful relatives show up to spoil the party.

    1. Don't worry. Oliver is an excellent bouncer, doorman, and bartender. He'll keep out the riff-raf.

  4. What would we do without Oliver.

  5. I got the idea for Rue Toulouse while sitting drinking a glass of wine and eating Voodoo chips on our hotel balcony in New Orleans. The hotel was on Rue Toulouse and I thought it would be a great title for the book.

    1. It is a great title. I just don't think I can pronounce it. lol!

  6. Doesn’t Caterine sparkle in her ice princess gown? It’s a Ma Cherie original and Caterine designed it herself.

  7. Oh Debby, she looks beautiful, truly like a princess. (I have to say you look rather lovely yourself, I've seen quite a lot of heads turn in your direction.

  8. Oh thank you Lyn. I do love big hair, don't you? Talking about looking good, how about Remi. If he wasn't Caterine's love, I'd go for him myself.

    1. Remi is definitely a piece of eye candy.

  9. Hi all! The internet gods are giving me fits today. This is the first chance I have had to comment. So, any extra hot guys available...I'm here!!!
    So, what are we drinking today? I'll be back as soon as I poke people on facebook etc. Deb, I love the cover.

  10. BTW what are voodoo chips? I gotta tell you, and I know people are gonna hate me. I don't like gumbo, or most of the food native to New Orleans, yes, shoot me. There is nothing that doesn't burn your mouth, or have peppers in it. And okra, ugh. How are you all with Cajun food?

    1. Shame Mary! Shrimp is good any way you fix it...even in gumbo. But I do like mine on the mild rather than set-your-guts-on-fire side.

    2. I have to admit, I'm with you, Mary. I live in the southwest and have grown accustomed to spicy, but Cajun is beyond my abilities. Hot Hot Hot!

  11. Hi, Mary, welcome to Ma Cherie and the party. Voodoo chips are spicy chips that burn your mouth, but you just wash them down with a Dixie beer. You can get some great fried shrimp that's not spicy at the Chartres house on Chartres St. As far as more handsome men, Remi has a sexy cousin named Antoine, I think you'd like.

  12. I can't eat spicy stuff. But, the shrimp sounds good. I think you have to grow up with spicy food to like it. I am from Vermont, all they ate was regular meat and potatoes. Tell Antoine I have big hooters, and send him to meet me.

    1. Mary! Shame again! Behave yourself and tuck the girls back in to that bodice! Besides, I hear Antoine prefers the caboose to headlights. *Lilly wiggles her bodacious booty and winks.*

  13. Crumbs, Debby, I'm not sure you should have told Mary about Antoine, Poor guy doesn't know what he's in for! :) I rather like the look of Remi myself - but unfortunately, as you say, he's been taken!

  14. Mary, I'll tell him about your hooters, but I think he's a butt man. Hmmm, who do we know that would fit that disscription?

  15. What a fabulous party! Hello everybody! New Orleans is one of my favorite places, and Debby, your latest book looks amazing.

  16. Thanks, Traci! Welcome to the party!

  17. Hi Traci

    So glad you cold join us for Debby's party. Yes, her book sounds fantastic, doesn't it!
    Do help yourself to refreshments, Oliver will be along in a moment with some drinks.

  18. Yes, everyone please have some cake. Caterine took it to Remi's family cookout down on the bayou, and it was a big hit.

  19. Sounds like a great book. Love the cover. Great party as always.
    Sue B

  20. Thanks, Suue. I'm glad you could stop by.

  21. LOL! Sorry Sue about the double u's.

  22. Mmmm....I love spicy food. No wonder I'm in heaven right now. A wonderful themed party, great company, gorgeous men to gaze at - and fantastic food and drink!

    I've just woken on this side of the world, so please excuse my being late. I'll just hail Oliver down for another glass of Turbodog to wash down some of this heat. Those chips are awesome. Yowzers!

  23. Hi, Laverne, welcome! I just relized I haven't been seeing all of the comments. Sorry.

  24. Hi Sue, so glad you could join us! That cover is gorgeous isn't it. Hi La Verne *waves*.

  25. Ladies, should we call it a night? I think Remi and Caterine are ready to go to the masquerade party. Perhaps we can hear all about it tomorrow.

  26. Sharon Donovan, who this blog is dedicated to loved those masks from New Orleans, the
    more elaborate the better. She would have loved your story Debby. Nite now, waiting on
    Antoine! LOL

  27. I love stories set in New Orleans. I grew up in Baton Rouge. My husband and I used to drive to NO (in the middle of the night, since I didn't get off work till midnight!) for our dates. I know just how romantic it can be.

  28. I'm loving all of the masks too.



  29. Hi, Debra, my husband, David, and I spent our honeymoon in NO. We’ve gone back many, many, times since and never get tired of that wonderful city.

  30. Mary, I’ve always loved dressing up. That’s why I thought it would be fun for Remi and Caterine to meet at a masquerade ball.

  31. Hi, Mac, welcome! Glad you've helped yourself to some cake. Remi and Caterine aren't here yet. I'm afraid things might have gotten a little hot between them last night.

  32. How fun!! Makes me miss the south...

  33. Hi Susabelle **Waves* and everyone else who arrived after I disappeared last night. Sorry, I got caught up in a time warp (that's the trouble with being on the other side of the pond and in a different time zone.
    I've never been to New Orleans but it sounds like a fascinating place!

  34. Hi, Susabelle, where in the south did you live? I'm from Michigan, but now live on Hilton Head Island SC. I have to say, I've always loved the south.

  35. Lyn, you'll have to come visit NO. You can drink a hurricane and eat some mudbugs!


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