The Ultimate Staycation

I’m neither outdoorsy nor athletic. Shocker, right?

My elementary school offered kids two options—go outside for recess or spend the twenty minutes in the school library. Guess which one I chose? I always thought I got the better end of the deal. While my peers were limited to destinations like the swing set or foursquare court (I’m assuming here—isn’t that the kind of stuff you find on a playground?), I was off on daily journeys to Blackbird Pond, Narnia, and ancient Egypt.

Flash forward to present day. It is summer. Not even my air-conditioning can keep the muggy southern afternoons from being miserable and I feel like I’m being roasted alive if I step a toe outside (unless it’s after sundown, at which point I become an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitoes in spite of my efforts with bug-repellent/Citronella candles/hazmat suits). According to some of my friends, summer is the perfect time for travel. Some of them even think it’s a good time for grilling out (what the hell do you need the grill for? I’m pretty sure the zillion degree heat will cook those hot dogs for you) or—shudder—camping.

It’s not that I don’t love the prospect of bugs and sweat and sleeping on the ground. I mean, who wouldn’t want all those things? It’s just that I have more exciting plans this summer, a wide variety of trips using my e-reader as my travel agent. In the event that you don’t have the budget to see the world this summer (or if you’d like to see it from the comfort of your own air-conditioned home), here are a few locales you might want to consider.

Two Rivers mansion, home to food columnist Cranky Agnes and the site of one of the funniest weddings (flamingos! Mobsters! Dognapping!) I’ve ever read. Jennifer Crusie makes me laugh in every book she writes, and I adore the collaboration AGNES AND THE HITMAN Bob Mayer co-authored with her.

London. I eagerly devour historical romances from Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Elizabeth Michels, and Lorraine Heath. If you have not yet read any of these wonderful ladies, I highly recommend you start now!

Henry Adams, Kansas. Beverly Jenkins has created a community readers will want to visit again and again, and I can’t wait to read her latest, STEPPING TO A NEW DAY, which includes a 600 lb hog as one of the entertaining secondary characters.

Cupid’s Bow, Texas. Okay, yes, this setting/series belongs to me…and I love writing about the characters and the town. Book 3 will be out in November, which gives you plenty of time to read FALLING FOR THE SHERIFF (a single-parenting romance) and/or FALLING FOR THE RANCHER (about a guilt-ridden cowboy, his temporarily wheelchair bound sister, and the feisty physical therapist who not only adjusts to ranch life but kicks a little ass.)

The Demon Plane of Oblivion. It’s no secret that I love Kresley Cole’s paranormal series Immortals After Dark, and her book DEMON FROM THE DARK is one of my favorites. To save her goddaughter, a witch is sent on a possible suicide mission to capture a demon from a savage dimension. For all his barbaric ways, he has some truly adorable moments. I said “awwww” out loud numerous times reading this book, which—given what prompted my outbursts—may mean I’m a little warped. But it’s an imaginative, sexy read.

Sector Four. If you like super-sexy romance, I would recommend Kresley Cole, Jeanette Grey or even my recently released Blaze TURNING UP THE HEAT (a very seductive, friends-to-lovers foodie romance). But if you like to take the occasional trip past sexy to dirrrty, let me introduce you to Kit Rocha and the post-apocalyptic Beyond series. These futuristic erotic romances (which start with BEYOND SHAME) include graphic sex and the occasional orgy, but they also feature fabulous dialogue, character growth, emotional confessions that make me sigh every time I re-read them and political plots that grow more complex with each book and are beginning to rival Westeros for back-stabbing attempts at power.

Barefoot Bay. This ongoing series by bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire can be your trip to the Florida beach this summer! She even has collections within the overall series so you can choose what you’re in the mood for—wedding-themed romances, books with a little more mystery to them or her “silver fox” books with slightly older than average (but oh so sexy) heroes.

Truthfully, I could talk about ten dozen more places and not even scratch the surface. Have you been to Sally Kilpatrick’s Ellery, Tennessee or Trish Milburn’s Blue Falls, Texas? Have you been to a hockey game with Sophia Henry’s Pilots team or out to the bayou with award-winning Harlequin Desire author Joanne Rock? What about Farrah Rochon’s Maplesville (shorter books that make for excellent daytrips)? (Plug from my teenage daughter–her current favorite world to visit is the alternate reality of Gena Showalter’s ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND books, where high school teenagers fight evil spirits most people can’t see.) There are so many wonderful choices, whether set in another city, another country, another time period, or even another dimension. But if I keep listing all of them, I won’t have time to work (or, worse, read!). So I’ll leave these suggestions here as a starting point and pose the question to all of you, what are some of your favorite fictional vacations? A certain book website recently issued account credit, which I think of as frequent flyer miles I’m eager to spend!

Book staycations–all the glamour and adventure, none of the packing drama or lost luggage.

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