Super happy to have Arlene back for Weekly at Vivi’s!
Arlene has the most interesting bio, to start with. Born in New York, raised in Toronto, Jill set out to have a life of adventure and discovery, not one of security and comfort. She has since crossed much of Europe on foot, travelled, by bus, train, car or truck throughout North and Central America, Europe and the Sahara, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, a lonely, and a very haunted stone house on the English moors. Such a lifestyle has meant staying flexible and taking up any sort of work that presents itself: belly dancer, fortune teller, b-girl, translator, fashion model, story teller, radio broadcaster, actress, social critical artist, photographer and writer. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly loves incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the way communities with their strange characters, and very odd conversations.
Here’s her thoughts adventure about St. Valentine’s.
Three Thoughts About Valentine’s Day
By J. Arlene Culiner
1: My First Valentine
Frankie Z. sent me passionate love notes. I answered all of Frankie Z’s passionate love notes with my own. They weren’t complicated missives, just tiny pieces of paper with the words, I love you, written in block letters. Why he had picked me for his dream romance, I’ll never know. He probably didn’t know either, but analyzing our feelings wasn’t a high priority: we were only nine years old. Frankie occupied the desk right in front of mine at school, so passing these passionate missives was no problem. How long did the “affair” last? Several days? A week? Longer? Who remembers?
It came to an abrupt end on Valentine’s Day. Frankie passed me yet another note, and I unfolded it with the usual heart-thumping anticipation. Lo and behold, instead of the usual amorous words, he had written: You have a dirty neck.
Mortally wounded, humiliated, I raced home at lunchtime and looked in the bathroom mirror. Yes, he was right. I did have a very dirty neck — I had no idea I was supposed to wash the thing, and my mother was obsessed by more important life events than her ugly ducking daughter’s neck (tea parties, cocktail parties, a new hair color, chipped nail polish, shopping, impressing people, being mean to the maid.) With fanatic energy, I scrubbed my neck clean: even though my affair with Frankie was over (had it ever existed?), I wasn’t going to be caught out again.
I don’t know how long my resolve lasted — a week? Perhaps no longer than a day. I was a child who had a secret world in between dusty hedges, in forgotten cellar corners, behind furniture, and up on high trees. You can’t stay squeaky clean in places like those, and washing my neck never did become a habit. But let me ask you: with a rich inner life, does a clean neck count?
2: A Normal Valentine’s Day
3. Sherry Valentine, Country Music Star
Sherry Valentine is the heroine of my romance, A Swan’s Sweet Song. She’s a tough, funny, mature country music singer who’s been on the road for just too long. She’s tired of screaming fans, the paparazzi, gossip magazines, and temporary relationships that never work out. For some crazy reason, she thinks that changing careers and becoming an actress, will be more satisfying — despite the warnings of Charlie Bacon, Sherry’s aggressive and pushy agent, who warns her she’s too old for starring roles in Hollywood.
When, during a culture festival in a backwoods town, Sherry meets the famous New York playwright, Carston Hewlett, Charlie Bacon thinks this is the perfect opportunity for advancing her career. Sherry doesn’t agree: she doesn’t know Carston at all well, but after one romantic dinner, and one night stranded in a leaky barn beside a deserted farmhouse, she knows Carston has an anathema to being used for his influence. Besides, he doesn’t even know she wants to be an actress, and she has no intention of telling him. In those hours spent together, it’s clear how intensely attracted they are to one another, but, even better, they share so many interests: a love of the country, long walks, and a passion for research.
No thanks to the paparazzi, and a jealous actress, things do not work out as planned. Sherry and Carston separate on bad terms. He goes back to his isolated home in the country determined to forget Sherry; she heads for Hollywood, a minor role in a soap opera, and the unpleasant company of bottom-feeding producers who see actresses as casting couch material.
If you want to know what happens next, you’ll just have to read, or listen to the audiobook of, A Swan’s Sweet Song.
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Weekly at Vivi’s with J. Arlene Culiner and My Review @JArleneCuliner #Music #Valentine #IReadRomance #books #booklover #bookworm #booknerd #bookclub #bookaddictTweet
Okay, so, now I’m intrigued. Plus, you know what I feel (and I much I love) country music.
A Swan’s Sweet Song by J. Arlene Culiner released in January in the contemporary romance genre.
The instant Sherry and Carston meet, there’s desire and fascination in the air…but they’re complete opposites. Smart-talking Sherry Valentine has fought her way up from poverty to stardom as a country music singer. Now, ever in the limelight, ever surrounded by clamoring fans, male admirers, and paparazzi, her spangled cowboy boots carry her from one brightly lit stage to the next. But Sherry’s been on the star circuit for far too long now, and she wants a change: is it too late for her to begin an acting career?
A renowned, but reclusive playwright, Carston Hewlett cherishes his freedom, the silence of the deep woods surrounding his home, and his solitary country walks. Long-term commitments have been out of the question for many years, so why is he suddenly fascinated by a flashy country music singer? Perhaps a very short, but passionate, fling will resolve the problem. When their names are linked in the scandal press, and Sherry’s plans to become an actress are revealed, Carston is furious. Is their budding relationship doomed?
Other Purchase links: https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/a-swans-sweet-song
Perhaps she could avoid meeting Carston Hewlett again and circumvent disaster. And why worry? She had a concert to do, interviews to give, and contacts to make so her name stayed in the forefront. And when this festival was over, she’d climb back into the bus with Charlie and her boys and ride away. Yes, she had enough on her agenda. No room for a temporary fling. A fling at a conference like this? That had become so commonplace, it was positively banal. And, at this stage of her life, it would also be undignified.
“There he is now,” said Charlie, ripping into her thoughts. “Right over there. On the left. You see?”
Of course, she saw. How could she miss him? Tall, mighty easy on the eye, he leaned, glass in hand, against a plaster pillar, listening to the dozen people surrounding him.
“Don’t make plans,” she warned Charlie. Yet she couldn’t avoid looking in Carston’s direction again. Didn’t he look delicious in that brown silk shirt and elegant tweed jacket; look how those jeans hugged his long legs. He was just the way she’d always imagined a successful playwright should be: cool, intelligent, strong, and sexy.
As if aware she’d been watching him, Carston turned slightly, caught her eye. She tried forcing herself to look away. And failed. For an eternity, their gaze held over the space separating them. Then detaching himself from the surrounding group, he headed in her direction.
She commanded herself to pretend indifference, but her pulse accelerated, and her heart thumped a sensual jungle beat. Was this supposed to be pleasure? Something closer to pure panic. She swallowed, tried to summon up some zen-like calm…then realized she didn’t have any available. She needed help. Fast.
“Charlie?” she gasped. Looked around. Damn! Where had that man gone now that she needed him?
Why come over here anyway? What would they talk about? They had nothing, absolutely nothing, in common. She had to stop staring at him like this. Here he was now, tiny inches away, his jaw a hard definite line, his body that tight, sinewy stretch she’d thought about too many times during the night. But it was the expression in his eyes, warm eyes, humorous eyes, that confirmed her instinct: the immediate, deep reaction was mutual. Try as hard as they could to avoid it, something would happen. It was inevitable.
My Web site : http://www.j-arleneculiner.com
My Blog: http://j-arleneculiner.over-blog.com
Amazon author page:https://www.amazon.com/author/jarleneculiner-quirky-romances
Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
And, if you remember, Arlene was here a few weeks ago for Give It Up For The Weekend, and she brought along her latest story, The Turkish Affair. I had the absolute pleasure to read and review it, and here’s what I thought of it.
My Review: 5 Stars
Who are your enemies? Who can you trust? Are friends real? Are the police trustworthy?
Even more than that, can you trust your heart, when both your brain and your experience tell you to do otherwise? This is a theme that permeates the entire story.
The location was great, and how the Author managed history within the story was magnificent. She made me feel the place, and gave enough historical details through the Heroine and Hero to show Turkey’s imposing history and the Leading Couple’s knowledge.
I loved Anne. She reacted to her past by closing herself off and way from civilization, by choosing a place where women tend to be shadows. In doing that, she hoped to become a shadow herself. The struggle with Renaud, the pull from her heart and the push from her brain, made her human.
The writing is great. It’s very simple, but don’t be fooled. Here, the simple prose is masterfully used as a tool to drag the reader into the story, without diverting the attention to the writing style. It’s very contemporary, very alive, in a thoroughly enjoyable opposite with the history within.
In my opinion, the balance between mystery and romance is slightly tipping toward the mystery but as a Romance Reader, I was not disappointed one bit.