Things I learned while writing The Caretaker.

As the gif above suggests, I’m stuck in jury duty this week (or at least for today if I’m lucky enough to be dismissed early). I scheduled this blog post early, so you have something to enjoy while I’m suffering in the sheer boredom of sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers. In any case, I thought I’d share a few things I learned while writing Freddie & Taine’s love story — The Caretaker.

  1. Welsh cursing is as creative as it is bizarre.  For example, Coc y gath (one of Freddie’s favourites) translates to The Cat’s Willy.
  2. Welsh cheesecake contains no cheese. 
  3. Sharpies can be used in fascinatingly naughty ways.
  4. Maori folklore is both vibrantly rich and fascinating.
  5. Nurses deal with heart breaking situations on a daily basis.

I think I learn something new with every story I write even if it’s accidental. I find myself falling into the trap of research. You know, you google something, and that leads you to about seven other things that have nothing to do with what you were trying to find in the first place.

Do you often find yourself learning new things while reading (or writing)?


Blog Tour: Escape Clause


Title: Escape Clause
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: June 24, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
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Sometimes to escape a bad situation, you have to grit your teeth and bare your clause.
When competing hotel owners, the Carlyles, attempt a takeover of the former Brubaker hotel, now The Point Resort and also Kelsey Donigan’s second home, the front desk manager discovers long buried secrets between the two families. Better yet, she uncovers an escape clause that not only prevents a takeover, but may also overtake generations of animosity between the two families.
Kelsey finds an ally in the most unlikely of locals. Hotel heir Oliver Carlyle’s devotion and determination to honor his mother’s final wishes places him in direct opposition with his powerful family.
Can the star-crossed couple save the historic, beachfront hotel or will they lose each other in the process?


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A Real Location that Inspired Escape Clause
by Mary Billiter
In May 2016, I was recovering from my second major surgery in the treatment of my breast cancer. My husband, Ron brought my children to the hospital each day of my recovery. At night he’d return. He wanted to ensure that if I ever woke I wouldn’t be alone.
My spirits were fading with each surgery. Ron knew and arrived one evening with a Starbucks coffee and his cell phone.
He scrolled through pictures of his beloved Oregon coast –and specifically Newport.
“We’ll go there.” He spoke in terms of a future I wasn’t as convinced existed.
Still, when visiting hours ended, I’d be alone in my hospital room with my thoughts. I turned them to the Oregon Coast. I dreamt about rushing toward the ocean with my arms outstretched like I could catch the white-capped waves. That dream got me through myriad lonely nights at the hospital.
So when my husband of three years brought my little boy and me to the coast with his Oregon-based family it was better than anything I had imagined. The Oregon coast was a respite and renewal.
We toured Yaquina Head lighthouse and I knew then that it was where romance began and ended. As we drove away from our week-long vacation, I began writing this story.
I returned home where I failed another mammogram and endured more painful procedures. But the Oregon Coast had revived my spirits.
And by December, I was victorious in my battle against breast cancer. It gave my family the happily ever after we long sought.
So “Escape Clause” is for every breast cancer survivor and those still in the fight. Don’t give up. The best is yet to come.
And for those that want a little escapism, this book is for you!


 More From This Author 
Do Not Disturb
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Mary Billiter is a weekly newspaper columnist and fiction author. She also has novels published under the pen name, “Pumpkin Spice.”Mary resides in the Cowboy State with her unabashedly bald husband, her four amazing children, two fantastic step-kids, and their runaway dog. She does her best writing (in her head) on her daily runs in wild, romantic, beautiful Wyoming.
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It’s Alive! The Caretaker out now!


Title: The Caretaker
Series: The Sin Bin, Book 2

Genre: Gay Romance
Release Date: July 8, 2017
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
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 On sale for $2.99 

Nurse Freddie Whittle devotes every fibre of his being to his work with cancer patients. Their pain weighs heavily on his shoulders. Between losing clients, the expectations of his fathers, and bigot neighbours, he’s slowly reaching his breaking point.

Taine Afoa retires from a storied career as an international rugby star. He’s moved away from London for a change of pace, never expecting to meet a man who’s far too young for him. No matter how hard he tries, it’s impossible to get Freddie out of his mind.

Will Taine’s resistance dissolve in time for him to give love the chance to flourish?

 On sale for $2.99 
The Sin Bin, Book 1
On sale for half price!
The Wanderer

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.


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The Meet Cute

I’ve always loved the old movie term for when two love interests see each other for the first time. The Meet Cute. Freddie & Taine technically have two of them in The Caretaker. The first before they know each other at a hospital, where one is volunteering and the other works as a nurse.

Their initially unofficial (Ooh, I rhymed) meet cute was tricky to get right. It’s a raw ‘judging a book by its cover’ kind of moment for Taine who sees Freddie in a vulnerable moment of self-doubt.  It’s serious and profound, even though it’s mere seconds of time as far as the novel goes.

The second official meet cute is far less serious. It’s a bumbling series of amusing and snarky moments. It’s probably my favourite ‘romantic interests coming together’ scene that I’ve ever written, thus far in any case.

The Scene:

After a quick stop at BBs for a muffin and an iced coffee to soothe his temper from the early morning adventure, Freddie made his way towards the M4 to start his three-hour drive. Traffic was surprisingly light for a Saturday. He made the journey in record time, pulling up the drive to the inn only to find a massive silver Bentley SUV blocking his path.

Pretentious, rich arse.

He whacked his hand against the horn twice, chuckling at how the jaunty beep didn’t match his annoyance. He stuck his head out the window to hurry things along. “Oi! Could you move?”

A wave of a hand through the tinted glass followed the Bentley turning to the right into an actual parking spot and away from the single lane entrance. Freddie pulled up beside it and stepped out of his Mini Cooper. He walked around the vehicle only to find himself face to chest with a Samoan god.

A gravelly chuckle told him that he’d said it out loud.

Cachu hwch.

His embarrassment faded when he spotted a furry creature on the man’s impressively broad shoulder. “Is that a hamster?”

“Speedy.” Mr God reached up to gently caress the tiny hamster’s head.

“He’s fast?”

“His name.” He smiled, revealing perfect teeth in a crooked grin with his full lips only barely visible through his mostly grey beard. “Speedy the hamster.”

Freddie had to laugh at it. “My cat’s named Bitsy.”

“Is it small?”

“Not anymore.” He joined the handsome man in his burst of laughter, waiting until they settled down to offer his hand. “Freddie Whittle.”

“Taine Afoa.”

Freddie mulled the name over in his mind while trying to remember where he’d heard it and seen the man. He looked so familiar. “So, actually Samoan?”

“Part Maori.”


They’re sweet and funny, and earnest.

And funny.

Humour, to me, is one of the most important aspects of any romance. If two lovers (or potential ones) can’t laugh together, you’ve already lost my interest. It’s probably the one theme that connects all of my novels more than anything else–a snarky and often absurd sense of amusement. Freddie & Taine’s first face to face introduction definitely held true to form in demonstrating it.

What about you?

Do you love reading (or writing) the first time romance interests meet in a novel?