3 Free Clean Romance Stories

I like the new cover.

Introduction:

I’ve been throwing weird at you. And murders. Here’s a collection of sweet looking romance stories.

Most Akin to a Hallmark Movie

Her Best Match by Tamie Dearen.

A billionaire, a matchmaker, and a meddlesome grandmother, what could go wrong?

Friends or more than friends?

Far from Falling by K.D. Garcia

Heads wrestle with many questions when hearts are on the line.

Enough Contemporary … Let’s head back in time…

Gabriella by Brenda Hiatt (Regency Romance)

A common girl and a handsome duke each get more than they bargained for.

Conclusion:

If romance is your thing, there’s bound to be one of these that appeals to you.

 

(Fair warning: There be associate links below.)

But just in case … here are yet more options


Amazon Prime

Free Kindle Reading App

Audible

 

 

London Visit – Summer 2017 Part 10: Flight Home; US vs. UK Observations

Left to Right: Wellington Arch; a plane filling up with passengers at Heathrow airport; A picture of the map on the plane charting our progress.

Note about the last picture: I really wanted to know what Google would say over the Atlantic Ocean. Apparently it just says the date. Such a letdown. Everywhere else, it creepily tells you exactly the town you’re over. Learned this gem on the way back from Florida.

Spending the Excess Money

A visual representation of what happens when you leave me in the airport with twenty-two pounds when I’m headed back to America.

I must have checked out three times in that convenience store. It had all sorts of goodies from giant bags of gummy bears to hats to key chains and other souvenirs in case you somehow escaped the other few thousand gift shops in the city of London. Maybe I just like playing with self-checkout machines. Though I must say, scanning the boarding pass repeatedly got old.

In-genius idea: They had donation boxes around the airport where you could donate whatever excess currency you had. I didn’t, but I love the idea. Wonder how they deal with that. Must be on great terms with the exchange people. Who am I kidding, they probably are the exchange people.

Waiting in the Airport

At Heathrow, they waited a really long time before announcing which gate one should go to. That is a very large place. They probably just wanted you to be in the area where you could buy stuff for a longer amount of time. Also, it sort of works because you have to hustle to get to your gate, then you’re only there like fifteen minutes before boarding. Thus, there’s no time for huge lines and impatient crowds. By the way, I really like their signs everywhere that tell you how many walking minutes you’re away from the gate area.

US vs. UK – A Random List of Comparisons and Observations

Note: When comparing cities, I was envisioning New York City vs. London.

Second Note: My experience in England was limited to London, so keep that in mind when reading the observations. I’m still going to use UK even though I didn’t venture far from the city.

Consumer taxing –  UK; it’s nice to have the price you see be the price you pay. Never really thought much about value added tax before, but I kind of like it.

Pigeon Size – UK; the London pigeons were bigger than designer dogs

Money System – US; Yes, I know that the pound is worth more, but in terms of physical money, they have way too many coins. It also weirded me out that the money changed size, but I’m told that’s the way it is everywhere except the US. Counterfeiting measure or not, it’s still somewhat annoying to have four different size notes. Though I will admit, those new five pound notes are adorable.

Use of the word brilliant – UK

Queue vs. lines – UK; Windsor Castle aside, the Brits generally know how to set up a proper queue.

Safety warnings –  UK; See it. Say it. Sorted. The implication is that they’ll take care of it. In the US, the safety message is: If you see something, say something. There’s no promise to take care of it.

Coins:

US = penny, nickel, dime, quarter, occasional dollar (pretty much not in general use)
UK = one pence, two pence, five pence, ten pence, twenty pence, fifty pence, one pound coin, two pound coin

Back to the Random List

Subway (NYC) vs. Underground (London) – UK; The Underground is much easier to learn. Most cars are cleaner. The directions of where you should go are much clearer. Here’s the major difference: the Underground (tube) tends to hit every stop along it’s line all the time. There’s no such thing as an express train. There are electronic signs with three pieces of information: the next arriving train and two later arriving trains and sometimes a safety message.

Subway vs. Underground Pricing – US; The Underground is set up by zones, so the farther you go, the more you pay. There’s really no other way they can set up that system and make it feasible, but it’s still annoying to have to pay more while staying on the same train. In the subway, you swipe in once and can transfer as many times for the same price. In the Underground, you have to tap in and out everywhere.

Accent – UK; If you want to get boring about it, I’m told there are studies that show the British accent makes people sounds smarter. Hollywood’s version of the British accent isn’t representative of all the accents that exist over there, but Americans in general (me included) are obsessed with the British accent.

Weather – US; usually not quite so cloudy, though I will say the coolness was appreciated. I love seasons with snow, just not a lot of it.

Locks – US; Pretty sure I’d die if there was a fire. You have to use a key to unlock the complicated thing. Pull up on the handle, insert key, turn key left and if that doesn’t work try turning it all the way round to the right. At least at home I just have to flip a deadbolt.

Speed limit signs – UK; They actually smile at you if you’re going the speed limit. I think if you speed you get a frowny face and possibly a ticket.

Draw …

Public restrooms/toilets – draw, cleanliness – UK; water pressure – US (Sinks here turn off when you tell them to.)

Driving – draw, though I will say the US drives on the right side 😉

School Scheme – draw. There are some older schools with deeper traditions, but overall, the system’s just different not necessarily better.

Food variety – US

Mug size – US. If you’re looking for cute mugs, go UK, but if you’re looking for functional mugs of a decent size, definitely US.

Fashion Sense – draw

Conclusion:

The ten-day trip I took to London was a once-in-a-lifetime awesome experience. There are tourists everywhere, but Having the London Pass helped me navigate. Also, it helped that I had friends there, but even if you go alone, there’s a ton of great stuff to see and do. I took a grand total of three hundred and fifty pounds with me and spent roughly thirty of that a day. I had to top up the Oyster (travel) card a few times, but I believe in the eight days I really used it, I spent about sixty pounds total.

As much as I loved the trip and would do it or something like that again in a heartbeat, Dorthy had it right. There’s no place like home.

Need to Catch Up?

Part 1: Preparation, Planning, Cost

Part 2: Arrival and First Day in the City (The London Museum)

Part 3: Getting into Tourist Mode (British Museum)

Part 4: Windsor Castle

Part 5: Buckingham Palace and More Museums (Natural History and Science Museums)

Part 6: Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, Shakespeare’s Globe

Part 7: City Cruises, Greenwich, and Church

Part 8: Kensington Palace, Curzon Bloomsbury, and a Pub

Part 9: Westminster Abbey, Namco Funscape, Churchill War Rooms

Planning your own trip?


London Visit – Summer 2017 Part 2: Arrival and First Day in the City

A West London borough

Arrival

The 8:35 flight from Newark got into London’s Heathrow Airport around 8:30 at night local time. There’s currently only a five hour difference time-wise. Jet lag wasn’t too bad for me in either direction. I’d had to get up at 3:40-ish to get picked up and get over to the airport, so even though it was only 4:00 according to my internal clock, I was more than ready for bed. I think it was still 11:00 local time before I actually got into bed, but I didn’t stay up too long.

First Day in the City

My friends dropped me off at the Underground station around 9:30 the next morning. I bought a one-way ticket into zone one so I could go pick up my London Pass stuff. Used a twenty pound note for a 5.50 pound fare and ended up with a pocket full of coins. Literally. Fourteen shiny pound coins and a fat fifty pence coin. It was like winning a jackpot in Vegas.

Phone Adventures in London

As I got out of the underground station in zone 1, Leicester Square, my phone said “welcome abroad.” Two minutes later, it said, “by the way, you’re over $100 in roaming charges. Call us. We can save you money.”

I was like “Say what? I already took care of it.” Anyway, ended up sort of bumbling my way in the right direction to go pick up my London Pass stuff, but was also distracted by needing to call the phone company. After a 10-minute conversation, got that mess sorted. I’d called before the trip to take care of getting a plan for going abroad, but for whatever reason, it didn’t kick in. Lady on the phone was nice enough though.

In a way, I’m glad that it happened this way because I would have inadvertently blown through all my data in no time, but the lady on the phone described how to turn off cellular data roaming when I didn’t need it.

Finding the London Pass … More Adventures

Okay, so finding 11A took some serious doing. It helps to read all of the directions. I walked up and down a street watching the numbers change and skip right over 11A. I’d even seen it from the other side. However, I didn’t read the part of the directions that said go underneath the ticket booth that’s located in the middle of the road. That part of the directions happened to be on the next page from the rest of the directions just by luck of the draw.

Who puts 11A in the middle of the road?

The sign for 11A was in cute small letters partially under the ledge of the ticket booth’s roof. So you can only see it from one side. Anyway, once there, the nice, large sign said go down the stairs for the London Pass. I did. This was my first experience with narrow, treacherous, shady, tightly-wound staircases in England. Success! Got the London Pass and spent a few minutes down with the free wifi basking in the airless glory of having found it. When I needed to breathe again, I left the itty-bitty ticket booth thingy and loitered outside it until my other friend found me.

The Rest of Day 1 in the City …

We walked around a fair amount looking for a decent place to eat. I think we settled on a pizza joint. Might have been Pizza Express, which are all over that city, but it could just as easily have been a different small pizza place. I kind of think it was one of the locations in the London Pass Dining Guide.

The Margarita pizza I ordered was giant. I ate half of it … maybe. Luckily, my friend helped finish part of the rest so it didn’t got to waste.

Landmarks

After lunch, we walked some more. After meandering over to the Thames River, my friend pointed out all the major landmarks within view. The London Eye, Tower Bridge, and the Elizabeth Tower were visible. Then, we walked over to St. Paul’s Cathedral. That would have been covered by the London Pass, but my friend didn’t have such a pass. I didn’t want to pay the entry fee of ~20 pounds to get in and get out. We’d not planned to see that anyway. First experience with bag checks, which are everywhere in that city.

What is not everywhere are rubbish (garbage) containers.

First Museum

Most of the major museums in London are free. I believe the first one we actually walked in was the Museum of London. Fitting. This one talked about the history of the city. I bought postcards. Later, as my travels continued, I’d find out that I’m a sucker for postcards.

Tower of London

In days gone by, going to the Tower of London pretty much sealed your doom. These days, they charge about 22 pounds to walk in the gates. After the bag check, of course. We got to the Tower of London pretty late. Twice, the people asked if we really wanted to go in knowing that we wouldn’t be able to see everything and there were no more guided tours. We managed quick tours of the crown jewels and the White Tower and a very, very quick tour of the tiny thing called Torture at the Tower. Nice way to end the day.

Crown Jewels didn’t wow me as much as I expected, but that’s because it mostly consisted of fancy spoons and decorative gear and armor for this or that coronation. It’s worth seeing to say you saw it, but not the highlight of my trip.

The view of the While Tower from the queue to see the crown jewels.

Fine Dining

By the time we finished with the London Museum and the Tower of London, we wandered around a little more in some authentic British weather. The skies decided to dump a few liters per second on people’s heads. Great fun. So, soaking wet, we wandered about some more and made our way to another place in the Dining Guide. We walked in. We walked out. The dining guide failed to mention it was a bar that served only snack type foods, not full meals.

Nearby, we found a really nice Italian restaurant that had a few people sitting in. The rest of the official dining area was abandoned, which I’m going to attribute to the early hour. I had pasta with Bolognese sauce. For the life of me, I can’t remember what that place was called. I did better most of the rest of the week remembering where I went. Promise.

Back to Base

My friend nicely escorted me to an Underground station that would get me back to where I needed to go. The first walk from the Underground station to my friends’ home was very long. Partially, I believe that’s because of the rain, but it’s also a decent 15 minute walk I’d never done before. Things look a lot different from a car.

Conclusion:

The first day certainly involved a lot of walking. I consider it my whirlwind tour of the city of London.

Need to Catch Up?

Part 1: Preparation, Planning, Cost

Gearing up to travel? Grab some books and stuff.


London Visit – Summer 2017 Part 1: Preparation, Planning, Cost

Left to right: Tower Bridge, London Eye, Elizabeth Tower (and Big Ben – under construction)

London, England …

It’s a place steeped in rich history and buried in tourist attractions and gift shops. Home of Tower Bridge, The London Eye (sponsored by Coca-cola), and The Elizabeth Tower (which holds Big Ben). Seen above courtesy of my spiffy iPhone 7.

Why go to London?

Well, I was gonna go to Honolulu, Hawaii last year, but that didn’t work out. Long story, lots of tears, but as proof that all things work out eventually, the London trip was amazing. One huge bonus to going to London is that I know people there. Staying with friends has the benefit of getting to see them more and saving on lodging. I also got to meet an online friend who I’d “known” for 15+ years. Bonus – he was more than happy to play tour guide through most of the trip.

What had to happen to get there?

  1. Bought a plane ticket.
  2. Bought the 10-day version of The London Pass.
  3. Went to a foreign exchange place close to my apartment and changed about $400 over to pounds.
  4. Packed a small suitcase with 10-ish days worth of stuff.

How much did it cost?

  1. plane ticket: $1115.06. I actually paid much less because I had a credit of about $700 from the ticket I’d bought to Hawaii. Surcharges for transferring plane tickets stink by the way.
  2. 10-day version of The London Pass: $310.09. It was in pounds, so I got hit with a fee for paying with USD. Incidentally, I probably could have gotten away with the 6-day pass, but as long as you intend to do about two things each day that are applicable, I’d say it’s worth it.
  3. Three hundred pounds: ~$400. There are fees to switch currencies and the British pound is stronger  (worth more) than the US dollar. I got a fairly decent rate compared to other exchange places.
  4. Snacks – $20. I packed some snacks for the plane and waiting around in airports, but I didn’t really use much of that. Granola bars make for walking around and standing in queues (lines) much more bearable.

*At the end of this series, I’ll show you my complete list of comparisons and observations between the US and the UK.

What did the journey look like?

On the way there I had a window seat …

Left to right: taxing in Newark airport; Newark seen from above; clouds somewhere over the US.

Left to right: More clouds somewhere over the Atlantic; the sun somewhere over the UK, first glimpse of London, England.

What did you see there?

Tons of stuff really. I’ll write a few more posts with what happened each day as well as my casual review of each thing.

Just in case you need snack ideas…