A Slovakian Dog, a Sexy Pastor, and a Severed Hand (a reading roundup).

I’m in a lull between releases right now, since Not Over Yet won’t come out until July 26. That means, I get more writing time, and also some much needed reading time! I mostly read my book group selections, things others recommend to me, or stories that completely hook me based on their premise.

Also, I mostly “read” audio books. Not to brag, or anything, but I was an audiobook junkie way before it was cool. I mean, I owned a Walkman well into the 2000s just so I could listen to books on tape. That’s right, tape! During the summers of my seminary years, I worked on the building and grounds maintenance crew, painting, gardening, cleaning and devouring mystery novels with that Walkman clipped onto my waistband! Because of my longstanding addiction to the audio format I’m very tolerant of the voice actors. They rarely make me hate something, but I suspect they often make me love it even more than I would have otherwise. I guess that’s a bit of a caveat when I make a recommendation.

downloadAfter meeting Sally Kilpatrick at RT2014 and connecting over being people of faith in Romanceland who are interested in things like sexual ethics and telling stories of whole sexual people who love Jesus, I’d been anxiously awaiting her southern/women’s fiction type novel The Happy Hour Choir (not available as an audiobook). I really liked the willful and sympathetic heroine, and how she handles having the hots for pastor. The book is set in the south and it’s the world I grew up in, though it feels a long way from the San Francisco Bay Area and the liberal church I call home.

This is a story of a woman making peace with God by facing up to the lies people have told her about herself and God. It revolves around a choir who practices in a bar, and its members are just the sort of lowlifes Jesus liked to hangout with, and whose company I tend to prefer. The whole book is a gracious counter to the kind of “Christians” who judge harshly and on appearances, rather than practicing compassion, mercy and taking time to really know someone’s circumstances. It also deals with the tragedy of many kinds of sexual abuse, which churches have been known to harbor. Kilpatrick’s writing is top notch and I really look forward to seeing where she goes with this particular vision and niche she’s writing in. Her second book is now available too!

My book group pick was Molly Prentiss’s Tuesday Nights in 1980. As seems to happen often in my book group of mothers with young kids, our planned date fell apart adownload (1) few days out due to a case of croup. I was on the fence about finishing the book, not having liked any of the main characters at the start, but then one was introduced rather late who I found quite charming so I kept on listening. As I was brushing my teeth one night, dead tired after writing too late, I was enjoying the author’s lovely prose when something awful happened to one of the main characters. (SPOILER ALERT—you could figure it out from the title of this post.) It was so unexpected and upsetting to hear right before bedtime, and my poor, shocked heart was literally pounding. I stopped the book and downloaded another one in my queue right away. It had an adorable dog on it, so unless it went all Old Yeller on me, I figured I could count on the book not to add to my trauma and fill my mind with cute images of puppy dogs.


download (2)I’d downloaded Stay at the recommendation of my fabulous friend Serena Bell, when I asked for her favorite women’s fiction titles. She sent me a list, and of all twelve or so titles, only one had an annotation: READ THIS! Of course I obeyed, and it was such an instant relief from the trauma I felt from Tuesday Nights. Stay isn’t my normal cuppa—in fact, I almost avoided it because of the dog. But I was quickly hooked by the poignant blend of humor and emotion. Broken hearted and totally shit-faced drunk from drinking vodka and Koolaid, the heroine orders a dog on the Internet from Slovakia! Ridiculous and yet so adorable. It’s one of those books where everyone is treated so compassionately by the author and it’s chock full of complicated, nuanced characters. Ironically, I began raving about it to Serena, who said, “I haven’t read that one.” I was confused. “You told me to read it!” She laughed. Apparently, she’d just pasted it from her TBR, and READ THIS! was a note to herself. Hopefully she’ll take her own advice soon so we can discuss!

I had a bit of a letdown when that one finished, which was a chance to start something else that had been languishing on my Audible TBR. In the mood for download (3)something different and the guarantee of an HEA, I queued up Danelle Harmon’s The Wild One, which I had purchased on sale when she was having a Facebook Party. I met Danelle online recently because she’s a member of an Episcopal church and her priest introduced us. I’m at 50% on this one, and I am loving it. Her voice and characterization is really fresh to me, the prose is lovely, and there is a Machiavellian duke who totally reminds me of Georgette Heyer’s Devil. (His name is Lucien, which I think can’t be a coincidence). I will definitely read through the series to get to his book, and I’ll be recommending this author to historical fans.


What about you? Any fabulous reads lately?


Not Over Yet (Hot Under Her Collar, Book #2) is up for Pre-Oder

I’m hard at work on the final revision for Hot Under Her Collar, Book #2, and I wanted to tempt you with the the description.

Drum roll please….


Not Over Yet

Some people aren’t meant to have it all…

Three years ago, nanny Lily Yee enjoyed a passionate fling with her boss, the recently divorced and extremely eligible Eric Roche. Then the sexy surfer/CEO wanted more than she could give, and she fled to pursue her one true calling—the priesthood.

Eric learned how to love from Lily and wanted to build a happy family with her. But she walked away without explanation, leaving him angry, confused, and…fine, he’ll admit it, occasionally a little desperate for her.

When a crisis in her church leads Lily back into Eric’s arms, his heart calls to her as strongly as the priesthood. He’ll do anything to win her back, but she knows she’s not cut out to juggle a family and a career. She needs to let him go again soon, but she can’t deny they’re not over yet. 

Pretty catchy, huh? It took a whole posse of writing friends to help me whittle that baby down and choose this version. Thanks for the input, ladies! I couldn’t make a decision to save my life without you!

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 8.44.44 AMI’ll be releasing the cover in the next week or two, and the book will release in late July.

In the meantime, you can add it to your Goodreads TBR.

Or, you can pre-order it exclusively on iBooks. Of course, it will be available on release day at all the usual eBook retailers!


The Babushka on Google Street View (or researching The Siren’s Dance)

New ReleaseFrom Dostoyevsky to the modern mystery writer Boris Akunin I have always loved books set in Russia, though I never imagined I would write one. And then I stumbled upon Slavic folklore—the dark fairy tales of Baba Yaga, even grimmer than the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, scary stuff that can give adult-me nightmares. My husband is an enormous fan of The Witcher video game and novels, and together we peek through our fingers with delight at the creepiness of the imagery.

After finishing the Blood Vine series, I really wanted to write about a lesser known kind of paranormal creature. My imagination hooked onto a category of female spirits who were the ghosts of wronged women, often suicides who were pregnant outside of marriage. It still speaks to me that this phenomenon must have been widespread, and understood to be such an injustice that a spirit cannot rest until she has punished the man who wronged her or another in his place.  These spirits are the ones I’ve chosen to write about in the Siren Romances. Rusalkas, vilas, maras–all vengeful female spirits with sirenic powers of seduction.

In the first book, it seemed a safe subject because my siren emerged from a teapot in San Francisco where I live. I didn’t have to know that much about her home. But then my muse wanted to write her sister’s story, and it had to be set in Ukraine. Sadly, I’m not an expert on Ukraine—more like a lover from afar. In The Siren’s Dance, I’ve surely gotten some details wrong and left plenty spare, as romance novels are wont to do. But I researched the heck out of the book, especially the setting. I spent hours on Google street view, looking all over Kiev, Odessa, and at several stops on the highway in between where my heroine could stop to pee (that’s one detail I didn’t leave out of this book). I read about all the historic buildings and landmarks. My rationale: if I couldn’t capture the culture like a Ukrainian, I could at least show the place off well.

One day, I was writing a scene where my hero had to drive from Odessa into the countryside to a smaller coastal Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.32.36 AMtown. I looked at the street views to see what he would see, and was so touched by the glimpses of village life. Two men repairing a car, a babushka dragging her grandson down the country road. I felt as if I’d strolled down that road and had the chance to wave at them.

Maybe it’s a danger, the way the Internet makes the world seem small, makes us believe we know more than we do because so much information is at the tip of our fingers.  If, like me, someone is hardwired to quickly identify oneself as an expert, it can be a dangerous tool. I have done my best to wield it with love and respect for a culture I admire but to which I do not belong.

And, the truth is, in many ways it IS a small world, and we humans are remarkably similar. That grandma, those men fixing their car—their doppelgängers walk down my street all the time.  And the themes of the book—rejection, lost love, maternal love—are in fact universal. If we can’t visit another country for research, then Google street view, Youtube videos, the warren-like research hole of Wikipedia are a pretty awesome way to make our worldview bigger and our hearts more connected to others around the world.

Here are the Pinterest Boards I made for research too:

The Siren’s Dance (Book 2)

The Siren’s Touch (Book 1)

If you’d like to tour Ukraine with me in The Siren’s Dance, leave me a comment. I will give away one eBook to a random winner chosen from comments here by Saturday morning PDST.

The Siren’s Dance Out Today!

New ReleasePhew!

I’ve got so many balls in the air right now that it feels good just to let this one fly, or maybe I should say grand jeté!

I had so much fun writing this book, with its prickly heroine, the enemies-to-lovers trope, and all the fun paranormal goodness of dark slavic folklore. Initially, I was inspired by the movie Black Swan, but as I began writing, I realized Giselle was a far better fit for my story. I learned quite a bit about the ballet and its ties to mythology in my research.

So if you’re looking for something dark and suspenseful with my signature style (which a critique partner recently described as “the dirty, and the funny, and the dirty”) then the Siren’s Dance is for you!



The performance of their lives is about to begin…

Death has transformed former ballerina Anya Truss into a vila—an alluring wind nymph—but her need for revenge has kept her trapped on the riverbank where she was drowned. Now, after fifty years of waiting, she finally has a chance to break free by getting even with her cruel dance instructor, the man who betrayed her and broke her heart. But for her plan to work, she must place her trust in a handsome but unlikely ally.

Straight-laced police investigator Sergey Yuchenko has spent years searching for the father he never knew, and he finally has a solid lead. Problem is, that lead comes in the form of a ghost—a gorgeous but stubborn vila with destructive powers she can’t control. Anya’s graceful beauty awakens a desire in Sergey like he’s never felt before. But when past secrets are brought to light, the lovers will have to face an evil that could tear them apart forever.

Now Available:  Amazon | Apple | Google | Kobo | Nook

Add to your TBR: Goodreads

It seems like perfect timing that just turned in edits on Siren #3, which turned out very different from the others but just as much fun to write.

Meanwhile, a fabulous crew of beta readers is sending me notes on Not Over Yet (Hot Under Her Collar #2) and I’m working on a top secret project that I could pour myself into and never come out if life would let me.

So, I guess it’s time to update the Coming Soon page and then get back to writing!

A Siren Romance Giveaway!

Squee! It’s only one week until The Siren’s Dance (Siren Romance #2) comes out! To celebrate, I’m giving away e-books of The Siren’s Touch (book #1) today, here and on Facebook! While The Siren’s Dance stands alone, the characters from the first book do appear in the second, and knowing them will make reading Dance even more fun!

So, if you’re interested in starting the series, comment below to be entered to win! In the comments, I’m asking about Las Vegas!

BelldeneAmber_TheSirensDance (2)Sirens Touch

IMG_7650My trip to Vegas last week for the Romantic Times Book Lover’s Convention was my first ever, and I had a blast. It was fabulous to see old friends and make new ones. I ate at a buffet (the Paris Hotel—delicious French food), drank a giant margarita, strolled under palm trees and gasped at the over-the-top hotel decors!





It was also fun to sign copies of The Siren’s Touch with my purple pen at the Kensington signing, and to meet real, live fans of the Hot Under Her Collar series! Nothing makes an author happier than the question, “how many of these do you plan to write? I need a lot!” 🙂

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I was revising the second Hot Under Her Collar book, Not Over Yet while at the convention, and I’d TOTALLY forgotten it has a scene at the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel. That made meeting this guy even more fun!

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What I did not do was gamble. I really wanted to play a slot machine, but to be honest, I found all the flashing lights a little intimidating! I think I need to gamble on simpler machine, like the ones the make for toddlers!




So tell me, what’s your favorite thing to do in Las Vegas, or if you’ve never been, what would you love to do while there?  I will give two commenters electronic copies of The Siren’s Touch! Contest ends Wedndesday midnight PDST.


Ready or Not, #RT16 Here I Come!

I’ll be in Las Vegas next week! Yaaaaaay!

I’ve seen some super-organized authors and bloggers posting about their Romantic Times Convention prep for weeks, but I’m definitely flying by the seat of my pants in a typical clergy post-Easter, post-vacation fog.

Well not pants exactly: white jeans. Because one bit of prep I did do ahead of time is tell my Stitch Fix stylist I needed some cute clothes for RT. She sent three adorable spring blouses and a pair of awesome white jeans. I’ve been craving a pair for a while, but I’ve been a chicken about it because between messy me and my 5yo twins….come on, white pants? I’m pretty sure I went to book group last night with mashed sweet potato in my hair (and it’s not like I’m feeding toddlers anymore). Oh well, I shall brave wearing them at RT!

In spite of my procrastination, I am SOOO excited about the convention. I’ve never been to Vegas, I love meeting readers, and I plan on connecting with some of my favorite bloggers!

Also, I’ll see some fabulous writer pals in person. (I’m rooming with the lovely Elisabeth Staab, who I haven’t seen face to face in two years!) And I get to meet some other pals that I so far only know online or via telephone. To me, that personal connection of hugging, grabbing a cocktail, and talking about our passion for /struggles with writing is the most valuable part of going to a conference. Writers need writing friends, or else we go all Jack Nicholson in the Shining, you know?

the-shining-still giphy

In addition to clothes, I ordered some swag. I’ve got pins and pens to give away:

These fun Siren buttons are to promote my Siren Romance series with Lyrical/Kensington:

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I’ll also be signing copies of The Siren’s Touch at the Kensington book signing on Thursday.

Sirens Touch I’m so excited to get that book in new readers’ hands before The Siren’s Dance comes out later this month! Don’t forget that it’s on Netgalley and available for Preorder!

BelldeneAmber_TheSirensDance (2)










I also have these classy looking ballpoint pens that riff on the motif of my gorgeous website by Amber Shah. It’s a little hard to see in the photos, but they say “desire is divine.”



So do these buttons, which may be my favorite swaggy item. You know you want one of these!!!

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 6.34.22 AMIMG_7583








Lastly, I’ve got some gorgeous print copies of Not A Mistake to give away when I’m in Club RT or when someone wants to know what the heck “Desire is Divine” means 😉


You can find me at RT here:

Thursday 4/14

4 pm CLUB RT


And, if you want to connect for a coffee or a drink another time, message me via this website, Twitter, or Facebook. I promise I will be delighted to hear from you!

Sirens in the Desert!

desert scape

Where I am


This week I’m on a much needed vacation–our annual family pilgrimage to Tucson to visit my in-laws. The weather’s great, the kids can bob around in the pool, the cactuses are so freaking surreal and gorgeous, and in theory, I get to rest.

In theory. Because, fellow writers–do any of you know how to actually rest?

I do not!


This is me on vacation:

What I’m doing–but not with such a great manicure.

The day job is work. Writing is the thing I love, the thing I pour myself into in every spare second. But the truth is, writing is also work. It’s demanding, stressful, comes with ups and downs and deadlines, and I am no good at from resting from it. Just ask my husband. He’s giving my laptop the evil eye right now.

I got on the plane thinking I would just do a quick read-through of my third Siren book, The Siren’s Dream, which will release in November. (And man, every book I write about Slavic supernatural creatures is more and more fun–rusalkas, vilas, maras–all kinds of cool, creepy girl ghosts to write about!)

Quick? Ha! I don’t know why the read-through took so long–possibly the constant interruption from the almost 5yo twins, or my equally constant need to actually pay attention to them and be present to the fun moments of vacation. They are my offspring, after all–everything is fun with them as they grow and learn new things. Consequently, that read-through plus final tweaks took a while. I finally sent my fabulous editor the manuscript Monday night. Whoo hoo!

Then the vacation really started!

Oh, wait. I realized I need to promote my upcoming release:

BelldeneAmber_TheSirensDance (2)

What’s coming next

And to remind folks the first book is on sale for another day:


What’s on sale

Then, finally, the vacation could begin. We’ve seen trains, desert animals, a planetarium show. Of course, we’ve been eating and drinking. Did you know Tucson was designated by UNESCO as a world city of gastronomy? Yum!

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What I’m drinking

Aside from that glass of wine, I’ve been experimenting with cocktails made with this yummy cucumber vodka:


What I’m drinking (2)

I haven’t found the perfect recipe yet, but I’m working on it. And clearly I won’t get through this bottle before I leave, so I have time!

Also, I’m reading, and listening:

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A RITA nominee on my Kindle

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My book club book on my audible account

Also, when darling husband isn’t looking, revisions on Hot Under Her Collar #2 *might* be happening:

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What I’m working on while pretending to be on vacation.

Happy spring, everyone! May you get more rest than me!

Postmortem: Not A Mistake Release

It’s been nine days since Not A Mistake released and boy have they been a whirlwind. (Remind me to maybe NOT release a book three days after Day Light Savings Time and two weeks before Easter again would you?)

I still can’t wake up for the #5amWritersClub and my kids want to cuddle for an hour after bedtime. I’m feeling like this:


Fried, and like eating fried things to feed my feelings.

But you know what? I had a blast and learned a lot!

Here are some things I discovered:

I really liked being on social media regularly leading up the release. Time wise, it got harder this week (It’s Holy Week, after all), and I missed it. Emotionally, it got harder too, as I was carrying around some heartache for people in my pastoral care and for a dear friend. I’m not always good at setting aside concern for others or the world to be chatty. I guess that’s something to work on. Hence, I share pictures of my experiments in cocktail-making instead 🙂

Also, I kinda developed a Canva.com addiction. If I let myself, I could make endless promo graphics on that baby. Too fun!

I also really like self-publishing. At first I was scared of being completely responsible for everything, but on the other side of my first Indie release, I now enjoy that feeling. Of course, I hope to keep having books published the traditional way too, but I can apply what I learned on this book to that partnership as well. I have another book–The Siren’s Dance–coming out next month, after all!

Not A Mistake has received a lot of great reviews, and that is thrilling! Yay! It turns out, some people really wanted to read a book about a pair of priests getting it on!

And I suspect some readers who received ARCs have been hesitant to post a negative review in spite of my assurances I have thick skin. The thing is, I DOOOOO want those reviews published! Critical reviews really help the right readers find the right book!

Not A Mistake Ebook Cover

Click cover for blurb & buy links.

Of course, the positive ones feel good too. Here are just a few of my many favorites.

I’m in a reading funk.  I’m starving for something new, something different.  Then this little gem falls into my lap and I am happy…Educational, thought provoking, and highly entertaining. –Sunny, Love Affair with an e-Reader

I always enjoy the emotion Ms. Belldene brings into her characters and this was no exception. Man, their story is definitely rocky and has plenty of ups and downs but it is such a beautiful one and I just loved it.  Oh, and the ending? Totally perfect! —Jillian, Read-Love-Blog

I really like this author’s voice. Great pacing and a sexy romance. I’ll read her again. — Mandi, Smexybooks

In her review, Mandi mentioned being annoyed that Dominic got “butt-hurt” over Jordan’s “mistake” and I agreed so hard I laughed out loud! Oh, how I wanted him not to feel that way, tried and tried to wrangle him into more calm acceptance by that point. Honestly, I don’t like to write super angsty, emo characters prone to grand drama. I like to crack a joke before things get too heavy. But he of all my characters is very real to me–right out of the world I inhabit in my day job. The Dominic I know simply refused get on board with a more understanding response.

I love this kind of criticism from a thoughtful reader! It’s made me wonder if I could have strengthened his characterization at other points in the book to make his response more predictable or sympathetic, and how doing so might have had a domino effect on Dominic later. Great readers definitely help me become a better writer! (And of course I’m glad she liked other aspects of the book enough to want to read me again.)

The second book in this series, Not Over Yet, will come out this summer. I wrote it about a year ago, and what a luxury to sit on a manuscript for a year! I had all kids of epiphanies when I returned to it, the flaws practically leaping off the page they were so easy to see! I’ve just begun those revisions–they’re my post-Easter project. That and sleep, cocktails, and fried chicken!

Wait for it…

Here’s the yummy again. Nom, nom, nom!



For those of you that get into the whole Holy Week thing, I hope new life finds you on the other side of Good Friday and fills you with much joy!







Not A Mistake: Release Day & Excerpt

1Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I’m up in the wilds of Northern California on my release day–not exactly the place I’d imagined experiencing Not A Mistake‘s entry into the world. In fact, my non-writing life conspired to make the week leading up to release day pretty rocky, and that left me busier than usual, and undeniably stressed out. So much so that I took heart in what a fellow clergy woman told me over email: A lot of crap had been coming her way at church, so she told herself that if Jordan (the book’s heroine) could handle it, so could she.

So I decided I too would cope with things the way Jordan did in the book. After all, I CREATED her and dreamed up her fabulous catch CdM3G1fWoAA-BC9phrase, “Love them like hell”–surely I could live up to her brave, compassionate example! When I said as much online, my awesome writer pal Ruby Lang made me this little gem: WWJoD?

I’m not saying Jordan’s perfect. Who would want to read a book about a woman like that? But I put all my ideals into her, and so it was cool that when life was making me feel less than ideal, I found I could cling to her example. It got me through, and every challenge I faced worked out with much help from several of my amazing colleagues.

I sent out so may ARCs for this book, and it’s been thrilling to know it’s in readers’ hands!

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite early reviews:

“In her humorous, sexy, and above all compassionate story, Belldene combines romance and religion with a respect for the passion that lies at the heart of both. And with a respect for a woman’s agency and power that is all too rare in Inspirational Romance.” — Jackie Horne, Romance Novels for Feminists

The passion at the heart of both?–Yeah, baby! That’s why I write romance novels. Reading this review was one of those angels singing moments for me as an author 🙂

Here’s a short excerpt from Not A Mistake:

Be warned, it might tempt you into eating a doughnut. Hopefully it might also tempt you into buying the book. We’re in Dominic’s point of Not A Mistake Ebook Coverview here, and he’s just about to give a presentation about his research into clergy sexual misconduct for a group of priests.

“I take it you’re feeling better?”

“Uh huh,” she mumbled, pointing at her full mouth and chewing, her eyes showing the tension of what might be a grimace, had her mouth been free to make the expression. 

On second look, she was still a little green around the edges. He couldn’t imagine two donuts was the recommended breakfast to recover from the stomach bug.

“Should you be eating that?” 

She wiped a pink sprinkle from her mouth with the back of her hand. “Doctor’s orders. Don’t get hungry. Keep something in my stomach.”

Interesting advice. But what did he know? He hadn’t had a stomach bug since he was in diapers. 

“What are you doing here?” Her whisper was strained, as tense as her eyes had been. 

Right. This wasn’t any easier for her. What did she feel? Shame, guilt, plain old now-that-we’ve-had-sex-everything-is-different awkwardness?

He raised his arm and pointed his laptop’s remote at the screen. The cover of Sins of the Fathers appeared. 

“You’re presenting? I thought Dan—”

“He has the same stomach bug as you, apparently. Why you aren’t in bed—?”

“I’m not your student anymore. Stop bossing me around.” She set down her plate to cross her arms. 

God. Why on earth was that so cute? And he’d never once bossed her around, simply advised her academically. Which had been a true pleasure—she’d been sharp and dedicated.

“I wouldn’t dream of it. I’m simply concerned for your health.”

“Oh, is that what you’re feeling?” She glanced back to the screen then leaned close. “Because I would have guessed you are feeling like Swiss cheese, eaten up by guilt and regret.” 

His shirt shrunk another size, right there on his body. How did she know him so well? He who made a point of being known by very few people. 

She buttoned up her jacket and hoisted her purse up higher on her shoulder. “I can’t stay here and watch you talk about this book while trying not to reveal your self-loathing.”

He scanned the crowd to make sure no one was watching them, then leaned close to whisper. That delicious sandalwood scent clung to her, stirring the parts of him deeper than reason, or right and wrong. “Then accept my apology and stay.” 

To his shock, tears shone in her eyes. Oh, hell. He’d made her cry. 

“I can’t, really. I’m sorry for that, and for so many things. But I just can’t be sorry about what happened. I don’t want to take it back, or call it a mistake.”


Buy Not a Mistake at these online retailers:





A Christian Romance that’s not an Inspy


Yep, it’s true.

I wrote a book about priests having sex. It’s definitely not a closed-bedroom-door romance. And while I think there are some “conversions” in the story, none of them are to Christianity.

If that appeals to you—Yay!—it comes out next Tuesday 🙂

Belldane teaser 1 (1)

The thing is, I tagged the book as Christian, but Amazon’s category is Christian AND Inspirational. So in sales rank categories it might look to book browsers like an Inspirational (no-sex) romance (at least until they decide to read the blurb).

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.22.57 AMI’m still not sure that was the right move, but it’s one I made for a reason.

I’m a Christian, and I’m sex positive. Not just about married, procreative sex, but ALL kinds of sex that fills us with love and gives us glimmers of God’s gracious, even gratuitous love for us. I believe sex can be sacramental: a physical, tangible experience of this grace, of God’s unconditional acceptance and desire to know and be known by us. In my mind, that’s the best explanation of the awesomeness that is an orgasm. Transcendent.

That said, my sexual ethics is not lax. I believe sex should ideally be loving, mutual, life-giving, not destructive, coerced, or devoid of intimacy. I also hold compassion for the fact we sometimes mess this up in our desperation to be loved. Haven’t many of us had sex that missed the mark when it lacked these ideals? Bad–or just blech–sex can be an important part of the romance arc, just as it can be an instructive moment in our lives.

Not all Christians share my take on sexual ethics. Our religion has a history of believing sexual pleasure is sinful, or only to be experienced within very proscribed relationships. But many Christians do agree.

The Episcopal Church in which I am a priest has a wonderful history of sex-positive teachings and practices. Our marriage liturgy is deeply romantic and sensual. Our clergy have been permitted to marry since the Reformation! In the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., women were ordained beginning in the late 1970s. Most recently, we agreed gay and lesbian people have full rights to the sacrament of marriage, just as heterosexual couples do.

That’s not to say everyone in the Episcopal Church agrees on sexual ethics—if we did, I’d hardly have fodder for a book, much less a whole series about female priests. We harbor plenty of patriarchal prudes. Within this thing called “the church” there is enormous diversity of opinion on virtually all matters of doctrine and ethics, both across history and within and between current Christian denominations. There is no single Christianity.

belldane teaser 3 (2)Religious people from all faiths wrestle with sexuality, just like most human beings. We struggle with questions of desire, appropriate boundaries, shame, and judgment. Like everyone else, centuries—no millennia—of culture shape our sense of right and wrong, what is taboo and what is tantalizing. We all struggle to live authentically while doing what we believe is moral.

I’m really not an expert on the history and various subgenres of romance. I’m just a person who wrote a book set in a world I know and adore, a world that is full of flawed, funny human beings who are full of love and often perplexed what to do about it. But I do know the book I wrote is about Christians who are motivated by their faith, that it explores Christian themes and sexual ethics, and that it most certainly does not qualify as Inspirational.

Maybe I’m asking for a whole bunch of one-star reviews from angry Inspy readers, but I just can’t bring myself to remove NOT A MISTAKE from the Christian Romance category.


Not A Mistake Ebook CoverNOT A MISTAKE

Hot Under Her Collar, Book #1

Sometimes a scandal isn’t a sin…

On the night she graduates from seminary, Jordan Sykes finds herself in bed with Dominic Lawrence, the ethics professor she’s crushed on for years. Two months later, she discovers she’s pregnant and is determined to hide it to protect his career. Maybe, if she loves her new church like hell, they won’t fire her for being a single mother.

Dominic knows the difference between right and wrong, and he’s filled with remorse after sleeping with his favorite student. He’s offered the job of his dreams, but he’d be a hypocrite to accept without making things right with Jordan first.

Dominic proposes marriage to save their careers, never expecting they will prove a perfect—and passionate—match. But can Jordan give her heart to a man who still believes the first night they spent together was a mistake?

You can add Not A Mistake to your TBR:

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