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spring 2002

Howdy, Readers and Booksellers,

This is not ole Jim. It's Shirl. I got tired of his whining. You may recall last year when Jim wrote about his woes as a baby-sitter. Well, he's still baby-sitting, but now it's not Carol's grandson but our “grandson” whom he watches. You see, our son Matt was laid off from his telecom job and had to move home. He brought with him Max, his cat with a penchant for nibbling on coaxial cable (perhaps as revenge against T-com companies). After Jim sprayed every electric cord in the house with Cat No, Max and his “granddaddy” reached an accord. Not so Pan and Leo, the “uncles.” Combined, our two ancient cats would not make one of Max, who is young and playful. Leo shreds poor Max's nose every time he makes an overture. Pan just resorts to hissing loud enough to crack the glass in the patio door. Matt is once more employed. We figure by the time he's able to move out again, the old boys may break out the catnip and celebrate his departure.

Having grown children return home (as many of you no doubt know) can be stressful. Matt is a good guy and hard worker, not to mention a techno-knight able to rescue his troglodyte parents from computer demons when they attack. But he's a night owl and his job schedule complicates matters since he comes and goes at all hours. Being light sleepers accustomed to a quiet home in the woods, we now awaken to alarms buzzing, doors slamming, showers spraying and other racket from dawn to midnight. His friends share the same penchant for zombiism and they visit...often. We've taken to retiring at night not only with the door between the living and sleeping quarters and our own bedroom door closed, but with a white noise fan whining at bedside. Ah, the joys of the boomerang generation.

Carol and her husband Ken visited as usual over the holidays. We decided to go out for dinner. The Henkes possess bad restaurant karma. We can eat in a place a dozen times and have superb meals, but just let us take out of town guests there and bingo, something awful happens. This time Ken was the victim. First his drink order was mixed up, then he found a three inch long piece of wire in his salad, but the piece de resistance was his main course: incinerated swordfish. The bill on that fish could not have been any harder than his fillet on Ken's plate. We sent it back. They assured us he'd get a new dinner immediately. It arrived about the time Carol, Jim and I were sipping coffee and considering the dessert menu. Ken doggie bagged it and we went home. Over the next few days I made up for his bad dinner out, with chicken in brandy cream sauce and roast elk. Not a wire in either meal.

Carol and I have been keeping busy this past year on a variety of writing projects. Those of you who have checked our website have seen the excerpts from the first book in our trilogy about American men who inherit English titles and marry Englishwomen. Thanks to Daniela Bruggemann in Germany, we have decided to entitle the series “The American Lords.” We are just finishing up the first book, Yankee Earl. In the meanwhile, the second of the spin-off books about the Blackthorne family (from Love a Rebel...Love a Rogue) will be out from Leisure March 19th. Wanton Angel is about Beth Blackthorne, a very unconventional American who goes abroad to study art. She meets Derrick Jamison, an English spy who happens to inherit his elder brother's title just after Quint Blackthorne has arrived to force a shotgun marriage between his daughter and Derrick. The story moves from America to Naples to a harem in Algiers and then to Regency London where Beth creates quite a stir. In fact, she outshines the infamous Lord Byron with her shenanigans. I think you'll find Beth and Derrick's story filled with love and laughter, not to mention a touch of exotic adventure thrown into the bargain.

I was really pleased when Leisure featured the first chapter of Wanton Angel on their website www.dorchesterpub.com. For further excerpts, visit us at www.shirlhenke.com. We'll post three excerpts before Wanton Angel comes out. Jim has a new newsletter on it as of last month. Please pay a visit and sign in our guest book. Let us know how you like Beth and Derrick's story and whatever else you have to say. We love hearing from you and always reply (if that computer demon doesn't catch us when Matt isn't around)! Oh, yes, we have encouraged “ole Jim” to begin his own novel, which starts with a female gambler winning the pants right off her male rival! Excerpts to appear later on our website. Happy reading!


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