February 24, 2015

Romanian Valentine Day




The Romanian equivalent of Valentine Day is called Dragobete. It dates back to Dacian times and is celebrated on February 24. Dragobete is the equivalent of Cupid, love’s god in Roman mythology, and Eros in Greek mythology.

Dragobete,  Youth God in Romanian Pantheon, nicknamed Spring Head, is celebrated, depending on the ethnographic area, on one of the days at the end of February or beginning of March. The legend claims that Dragobete is Dochia’s son. He stands for a positive element, in opposition to Dochia who is the bad mother of the earth, the embodiment of the old year, of winter, according to Geto-Dacian mythology. Dochia is represented as an old woman wearing nine sheepskins that she sheds along the road as she leaves the country.

It is around Dragobete time that the birds begin to build their nests and mate. Dragobete customs vary from region to region.  Considered locally the first day of spring, it is the moment when boys and girls pick snowdrops or other early spring plants for the person they are courting, and sing together. The girls keep the flowers until Sanziene day when they throw the flowers in a river.

As a rule, young people, girls and boys, meet at a house and spend the day together singing, eating and drinking, having a good time. Then they go to the nearby forest and make a hora, (traditional dance).

On Dragobete morning the girls and young women gather snow, melt it and use the water to wash their hair. They say their hair and complexion will be pretty and liked by men all year long.

Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness, especially fevers, for the rest of the year. It is a common belief in some parts of Romania that, during this celebration, if you step over your partner's foot, you will have the dominant role in your relationship.

Dragobete festivities, once waited anxiously by young people living especially in Bucovina county, are almost forgotten. Only elderly people speak about them, trying to rekindle their flame in the heart of the young generations. I fear this  is unlikely to happen as  Saint Valentine Day, that has no connection to Romanian spirituality, is a strong competitor. And a good advertiser for all kind of trades.  All Dragobete rituals are little by little lost and replaced by the more glittering and louder ones of Valentine Day. No matter how beautiful our traditions may be, the interculturalism is leaving its print on the Romanian customs. 
Anyway, for those who still celebrate it, I wish a Happy Dragobete Day!


February 23, 2015

Guest Promo (LXVI) Medieval Monday



I'm delighted to host on this round of Medieval Monday, the lovely author Barbara Bettis and her  novel 
                                  THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX

 Blurb:
Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart. 

Memories
LadyEvelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.


Can be cruel
Sir Stephenlives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite. 


And deadly 
When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason.Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple.Until a startling revelation threatens everything.






Excerpt:

At first, Evie thought it was the thud of her headache. Then the pounding came again, louder. She groaned and turned over. Opening her eyes told nothing; the blackness in the cabin was impenetrable.


“Marie?” Her voice rasped in a dry throat. Blasted tears.


No one answered. The girl must still be on deck. Evie might as well have left Marie behind, for all the assistance the maid provided. With a groan, she swung her feet over the side of the bunk and felt her way along the wall toward the sound of another insistent knock.


“A moment,” she called. “I’m coming.” Who had the nerve to wake her in what must be

the middle of the night? Hah. Need she even wonder? Her toe collided with something, and she yelped as she landed on her knees on the wood plank floor. Just what she needed.A broken foot.


The door burst open, bringing with it a dim light. “What’s wrong?” Stephen’s deep voice filled the room. “Where’s the damned lantern?”


“If I knew, I would have lighted it.” Blasted man. Did he think she enjoyed stumbling around in the dark? He acted as if she did so just to plague him.


Holding a shielded ship’s lantern high, he stepped toward the desk. “Here it is. Where’s that light skirt who’s supposed to be your companion?”


“Leave Marie alone. I wanted privacy and gave her permission go above.” Never mind that Evie had just complained about the same thing. He had no right to do so.


“What do you want?” she asked. “Is something wrong?”


“A little late to ask that, isn’t it?” He bent to coax the cabin lantern to flame.


“Oh, for the love of heaven. Stop plaguing me. Why are you here?”


“I thought you’d like to know the identity of our fellow passenger.”


“At this hour? Could you not have waited until morning?” Sweet Mary, preserve her patience. He was the most maddening man alive.


Light flared in the cabin’s shuttered lantern, throwing a shadow across his face, reminding Evie of another reason he should not be here. Her body instantly throbbed to life.


She pressed her palms against her stomach and inhaled. Calm. She needed calm. He was not the most beautiful man she’d ever beheld. He did not possess the power to heat her blood to boiling.


He did not care that she thought of him night and day.


That much was true, for certain.

“I have news that will make the rest of your trip joyful.”


His words centered her whirling mind, and Evie eyed him warily. What news could possible make her happy right now?


She ventured a guess. “You are leaving? Your second in command, the delightful Sir Macsen, will accompany me the rest of the way home?”           

“Much better.”


Evie could tell Stephen was angry now by the way he glowered and roared in that whispery sort of way no one else could hear, but left her with no doubt of his displeasure.


“Your betrothed.” He bent and scooped her off the floor.


“What? What about him?”


“That’s the identity of the illustrious lord who’s sharing passage with us.”


“You’re drunk. And put me down. I’m perfectly capable of getting up on my own.”


“Be quiet. You have blood on your leg.”


“Of course I do. I tripped and fell trying to answer your pounding when you could easily have opened—” His words finally penetrated her throbbing head. “I’m bleeding?”


Oh, blast. The contents of her—empty—stomach churned. She attended the villagers’ hurts, bound the cuts and scrapes of servants and their children. The sight of their blood bothered her not a whit. But her own? Black spots danced at the corners of her vision, becoming larger and larger until she heard Stephen’s voice.


“Evie, Evie. What the hell?”


His voice echoed so far away. If she didn’t know better, she’d vow he sounded alarmed. Perhaps she’d close her eyes for a moment. As the ringing in her ears crescendoed, she recalled

his words. Betrothed.


Her betrothed was on board?



Dear Lord, just let me die.
You can watch a trailer that includes all the covers of the books that take part in the tour:

February 19, 2015

Guest Promo (LXV) Mae Clair

I'm glad to host today a talented author and cyber friend, Mae Clair, with her latest release Eclipse Lake.


Family Dynamics, Romance, and Mystery by Mae Clair

Thank you, Carmen, for allowing me to take over your blog today! I’m delighted to be here and share my newest release, ECLIPSE LAKE, with your readers.
 
I’ve always enjoyed writing books that play heavily on character relationships. That’s particularly true when it comes to family dynamics. In all the books I’ve written you’ll find a strong emphasis on a particular family tie, severed by conflict, eventually restored.  I like putting my characters through the wringer, tearing them apart, then paving the way for reconciliation.

Two items that blend well with that storyline are romance and mystery. In my latest, release, ECLIPSE LAKE, I introduce my readers to two brothers, Jonah and Dane, who have been estranged for fifteen years, living on separate coasts. That’s suited both of them fine until the younger brother, Dane, attempts to fulfill a vow made to his late wife. For the sake of his adopted son, he decides it’s time to make peace with Jonah. 

But returning to his hometown—a sleepy community tucked on the banks of a resort lake—places him dead center in an unsolved missing person’s case.

Ellie Sullivan, a photojournalist on assignment in Eclipse Lake, finds herself falling for Dane despite the secrets he harbors. Why does he avoid talking about his past and what he does for a living? How is he involved in the disappearance of a local girl who went missing fifteen years before? Why does his brother treat him so coldly, and the town sheriff react with hostility at the mere sight of him?

At its heart, ECLIPSE LAKE is a mystery and a romance, but it’s also a book about healing and forgiveness. About family ties, overcoming obstacles, and believing in the better good.  I’m delighted to share it today.

BLURB:
Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Fifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.
But memories in small towns are bitter and long.
Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane’s past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets.

Excerpt for ECLIPSE LAKE

Ellie stopped walking and turned to face him. “Why are you here?”

Dane picked up a flat stone. With a flick of his wrist he sent it skimming across the lake. It danced effortlessly across the surface as if he’d done the same thing a thousand times before. “You know that skeleton they found?”

She nodded.

“I’ve got more skeletons than a graveyard. I can’t pick up and go to another place…to the next photo shoot.” He turned to face her. “Half of my life is here and half’s on the west coast. I have to make them fit together.”

The revelation reminded her of the family she’d left behind in Idaho, reawakening a familiar tug of homesickness. In an effort to find more comfortable ground, she changed topics. “You told me you’re from San Diego. I did a photo op there four years ago. What do you do for a living?”

“I get by.” He took her hand and started walking again.

She sent a speculative glance in his direction, recognizing evasiveness when she heard it. He was wearing a Rolex, and though dressed casually, clearly had expensive taste. Yet he’d booked an ordinary cabin rather than one of the exclusive chalets higher up the mountain.

She liked the feel of his fingers around hers, warm and firm. The contact sent a pleasant tingle up her arm. What the hell was wrong with her, getting caught up in his touch as if it were magic? As if she’d waited her whole life for that sensation. He had skeletons in his past, a brother who couldn’t stand the sight of him and a sheriff who wanted to run him out of town. Eccentric, or just plain trouble?

About Mae Clair:
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.
Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart,she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.
Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.net
You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:
Twitter (@MaeClair1)
Google+

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