Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happily Ever After with Guest Blogger: Elysa Hendricks

Win a copy of Counterfeit Love
chat with featured author Elysa Hendricks 
today at the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about milestones and love and here's what she had to say...

Recently my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. It got me to thinking, panicking about what to give him. Neither hubby nor I are big on traditional holiday gift giving. There's little we want or need that we don't have. And when we find something we can't live without we usually just get it for ourselves. But it just seemed wrong to ignore this milestone. So out of curiosity and desperation (after forty years it's hard to come up with a unique gift) I looked up the gift for forty years of marriage. Here's what I found:

The traditional gift is a ruby - rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, cufflinks, or tie tacks. Since my birthstone is an opal and I already have more jewelry than I can possibly wear, and hubby doesn't wear cufflinks or tie tacks, he doesn't wear ties, nothing on this list appeals.

The more modern gift is a garnet - which I figure is just a less expensive gem stone that looks like a ruby. Garnet jewelry, red art glass, red crystal home décor, or red flowers. Nothing for us here either. Garnet jewelry might be pretty, but again I don't need any. And the last thing either of us need is more "junk" around the house. Flowers are always nice, but for a milestone like forty years I'd like to get and give gifts that last more than forty hours. Maybe artificial flowers?

Alternate Modern: Ruby - red scarves and ties, red clothing, red lingerie, Indian River ruby grapefruit for breakfast in bed, or a trip to the ruby mine in Cherokee, NC. Now here are some viable options. I can think of a ton of entertaining things to do with red lingerie, scarves and ties. I love grapefruit, and breakfast in bed followed by the fun things with those scarves and ties has possibilities. But again, while this gift might be enjoyable and good for the heart, a 40th anniversary gift needs to last longer than forty minutes.  Besides, who needs an anniversary to celebrate this way?

So out of all the gift ideas the only one that sounded different and exciting was the trip to the ruby mine in Cherokee, NC. Only problem, the older I get the less and less I want to exert myself physically - aside from those bedrooms games - so I decided not to pursue this option.

Our anniversary came and went and no gifts were purchased or given by either party. By now you have to be wondering how we've managed to stay married and happy for forty years. All I can say is rather than focusing on one day out of the year; we spend time with each other every day. We talk. We laugh. We play. We cry. Occasionally we even argue, but we never go to bed mad at each other. These are our gifts to one another and we give them every day.

Though they're fictional creations born from my imagination, and I put them through trials and tribulations before I allow them their "happily ever afters"--in the end I give the characters in books the same kind of relationship I've enjoyed with my husband for the past forty years.

A Note from the Book Boost:  Thanks for joining us today, Elysa.  And thanks for sharing your personal story with us.  I'm inspired by how you save all your energy for bedroom games still after 40 years of marriage.  Awesome! Please tell us more about your latest.


The Baby Race is a modern day marriage of convenience story.

Race Reed doesn’t want a wife, but to save his ranch he needs a baby. To gain custody of her stepsister, Claire Jensen needs a husband, but she wants love. Wants and needs are bound to clash when they run The Baby Race.

Race Reed reserves his love and attention for the abused horses he cares for on his ranch. Because his mother changed husbands as often as she changed clothes, doesn’t believe in wedded bliss. Now to save his ranch he needs the money his paternal grandmother is offering as a marriage incentive. The bizarre contest she’s set up between him and his two cousins to produce her first great-grandchild is another matter. His only option – cheat in The Baby Race.

Claire Jensen wants two things out of life, home and family. During her younger years she never questioned her father’s nomadic lifestyle as he hunted for treasure, but as she grew older she longed to put down roots. When her father remarried and gave Claire a stepmother and baby stepsister, she’d thought her prayers were answered. Instead, she took over the parental role to her stepsister as her father and stepmother continued to search the world for treasure. In every way that matters, the six-year-old is Claire’s daughter. When Claire’s father and stepmother are killed on their latest quest for treasure, without a steady job, husband or home, Claire is about to lose custody of her young stepsister. Her only option – run the The Baby Race.

Excerpt (edited for length):

 "Ooow!" She staggered back. A plate crashed and shattered.

"Don't move." Race started toward her. His bare heel came down on a sliver of ceramic. "Damn!" He limped around the rest of the mess. Blood left a crimson trail on the white tile.

"Oh no, you're bleeding." Claire touched his arm.

He stopped and turned her to face him. "Never mind that. How's your head?" He threaded his fingers under the heavy satin weight of her hair to search out any injuries. Her head felt small and vulnerable in the palm of his hand. She shuddered as his fingers found the sore spot.

"It's fine...ouch."

"You've got a nice lump there. Do you feel dizzy?"

"No, just foolish."

Then why am I trembling?

"No broken skin. You head's not bleeding."

She pulled away and took a quick step back. "Speaking of blood, you're dripping all over. Sit down."

She pushed him into one of the kitchen chairs.

Her flannel covered breasts brushed against his bare chest. Throbbing in time with the suddenly rapid beat of his heart, pain radiated up his leg. But another portion of his anatomy was giving him more discomfort. He shifted on the chair.

"Sit still. Where do you keep your first aid kit?" She propped his foot on a second chair. Her fingers felt soft and warm against the chilled flesh of his ankle and increased the ache in his groin.

"There's one in the cupboard next to the stove."

"Don't move."

"Watch out for the broken ceramic."

She skirted around the shards of the plate and retrieved the kit as well as a bowl of water and a towel, then knelt next to him.

He twitched when she sponged away the blood and pulled out the sliver of ceramic. Her shoulder rubbed the inside of his extended thigh. He groaned.

"I'm sorry. Does it hurt?" She looked back over her shoulder, her chocolate brown eyes full of concern.

"No." At least not the way you think, sweetheart. If she dropped her gaze, she'd soon know his real problem.

She gave him a sweet smile and turned her attention back to his heel. "It doesn't look too bad, it's only a small cut. I don't think you'll need stitches."

"Real men don't get stitches. We staple our wounds."

Her giggle vibrated through her hand on his calf and traveled up his leg. He barely suppressed another groan.

"Well, I don't think you'll need to staple this wound. A bandage should do just fine. Just let me clean it off with some peroxide and put an antibiotic on it."

White light from the open fridge provided light while she bent over his foot. She shifted until she half faced him. In the confusion, the tie of her faded pink robe had come undone and the robe gaped open. Below she wore a long white t-shirt. Her full breasts thrust against the soft worn material, her nipples dark shadows.

Were they brown like her hair or dusky pink like her full lips? The question haunted him. He shifted on the chair in growing discomfort.

She glanced up. "Am I hurting you?"

"No," he snapped. "Just get it over with."

"Poor baby. I'll be done soon." She ducked her head and her hair screened her face from his view, so he couldn't see the smile her words conveyed. "There, all finished."  The soft brush of her lips on his ankle sent a shiver through him.

He jerked his foot back, nearly clipping her chin with his toes, and stood.

Humor lit her eyes as she looked up at him from where she knelt. "Why don't you go on up to bed? After I clean up here, I'll use the couch for the rest of the night. It's almost morning anyway."

He started to protest, but found himself being ushered out of the kitchen toward the stairs.

Only as he removed his jeans did he realize he'd never zipped them up.

Want More Elysa?

Visit her on the web here:  www.elysahendricks.com

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cupcake said...

Only as he removed his jeans did he realize he'd never zipped them up.

Oh, HELLO! Why are the jeans not zipped up? Did he forget, or was he "distracted"? Now I need to know.

Elysa said...


A bit of both. He definitely finds Claire distracting. :-)

Kelly McClymer said...

My husband and I are looking at the 35th anniversary. Personally, I don't care what the traditions are -- we're going to do a trip to Hawaii. We've been looking forward to one for ages, but other things have taken precedence. After marrying off our daughter, the next thing on the list is fixing up the house. Then Hawaii. I love your advice -- talk every day, spend time every day. DH and I have a morning coffee ritual. And we walk together a couple of days a week. The modern tech twist? We email each other interesting links from Flipboard on our iPads :-)

Elysa said...


We went to Hawaii for our birthdays back in 2010. Great trip! This year we'll go see our oldest son out in California. Hawaii would be appropriate for a 60th wedding anniversary, because it's the Diamond anniversary and you could climb Diamond Head. :-)

Hubby did get an iPad a few months ago, but I don't have one - yet. :-)

Morning starts for hubby at 5:15am. It doesn't start for me until at least 7am, plus I don't drink coffee. :-)

Ray said...

Congratulations on the 40 year milestone.

My wife and I were married 46 years ago in February. So I guess our milestone will be the 50th. We are also not much on gift giving. I used to bring things home from foreign lands when I was working (27 years Navy and 16 Years sailing on civilian manned ships for the Navy). I have a house full of Greek statue replicas. My wife has a box full of jewelry that is rarely worn.

Our secret to a long married life is that every time I came home from a long voyage was like another honeymoon. Also when I was in mid career I went to a lecture in which the one thing I still remember is that the spouse who stays home is in charge and there should be no regime change when the absentee spouse returns. It is very good advice if you don't want conflict that can break up a family.

Elysa said...

Hubby always says I'm the President, he's merely Chairman of the Fundraiser Committee. :-) He earns it. I spend it. Seems to work. :-)

Mona Risk said...

Oh my! Eliza, I love your writing. This excerpt is fantastic, so cute, and sensual, with very appealing characters.

Congratulations on your forty years of marriage and love. You've found the secret of happiness and the best gift: being together.

We've also being married long. Our secret: never sleep on an argument. My DH traveled a lot for business, so the coming home was always a new honeymoon.

Elysa said...


Thanks! Great advice. Make every meeting another honeymoon. :-)

Karen McCullough said...

Congratulations on the anniversary. My hubby and are approaching 43 years. It's had its ups and downs, but more of the ups.

Loved the excerpt!

Paulette said...

Hi Elysa!
Loved the blog and the excerpt!
Hubby and I are coming up on 38 yrs. of marriage this November. Like you with us its the day to day things that mean more than a once a year offering to each other. As much as I love flowers I rather have him pick up his underwear and toss them into the washer than flowers once a year.
Love your books, best of luck with this new one!

Fedora said...

Wow, happy congratulations to you and to so many of the commenters! I feel like such a newbie, since we're only hitting 15 years this year :)

It sounds like you've created a strong relationship that works for you! What a wonderfully rich blessing for you both :)

And great excerpt--I'm looking forward to reading more of your writing, Elysa!

Lisabet Sarai said...


First of all, huge congratulations! My husband and I will celebrate 30 years in a week or so. I can't believe it.

Second - it's not about gifts. A happy marriage is about paying attention to your husband, not allowing the small stuff to distract you from the importance of the relationship. It's about working through problems together and taking time to enjoy the activities you share.

Material things are rather irrelevant - especially when your finances are more or less merged, as ours are.