Thank you for visiting my Web site. I write smart, authentic contemporary romance with heart and humor, and sometimes a little suspense.
In my fictional Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, you'll meet appealing alpha men who aren't too macho to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms and accomplished women seeking an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.
You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.
You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.
I invite you to sign up for my newsletter (click on contact/subscribe in the header at the top of this page) and be eligible for prize drawings and sneak-peek content. Happy reading!
Web site guide
Find out who's who in Gulf Shore, Florida here.
Meet me on my bio page here.
See some of my dolphin photos here.
Check out Fred and Barney here.
Shore is Magical
GULF SHORE BOOK 4: After suffering losses that would’ve wrecked a lesser man, Kenshin Hamasaki has resigned himself to a life without true love. His perpetual grumpiness has damaged the few friendships he’s managed to forge, and his dalliances with women are superficial at best.
And then comes a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger named Marina, whose mere existence defies logic. She’s led what many would consider an idyllic life, but one that’s shrouded in secrecy. Marina longs to explore the limitless possibilities of Kenshin’s world. Yet, sharing the truth about herself could place her entire species in peril.
These two searching souls are drawn to each other by an animal attraction with the potential to change them in ways they never could’ve imagined.
Lurking in the background, however, is a dark presence from Marina’s past, who threatens to end this unlikely pairing before she and Kenshin can fully explore whether they’re destined to be together.
Gulf Shore book trailers
Gulf Shore series : You oughta be in pictures
One of the pleasures of reading is forming a picture in your mind of how people and places look. Want to see how your imagination matches up with mine? Check out my boards for all my novels and other book- and nature-related topics on Pinterest by clicking on the icon. And if you enjoy eating, and who doesn't, you'll find two food-related boards: Taste of Gulf Shore and Rico's Romantic Meals.
Man candy corner
Among Gulf Shore Aquarium's resident animals are Fins, Flukes, Neptune, Aquarius, Calypso, Echo and Trident, all Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Fins and Flukes were rescued and deemed unreleasable because of their age, Trident was orphaned, and the other four were purchased at auction from a defunct facility that gave its animals less than stellar care. Gulf Shore's aquarium also has sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, shorebirds, manatees and marine invertebrates, plus alligators and other freshwater species.
Tillie and Tully are Gulf Shore Aquarium's rescued West Indian manatees. They were so severely injured in a boat strike that they were unable to be released back to the wild. But now they live like queens in their Manatee Haven habitat.
The real Florida
Coming soon: Scrumptious (working title), which bridges the Gulf Shore series and a new series to be called Ruben's Refuge, set at a pet rescue/wildlife rehab/animal sanctuary just outside Gulf Shore, Florida. Watch this space for more details.
Do you love manatees? I do. This time of year, there are a number of places to see them in Florida. When the water temperature drops, they head into springs around the state and also congregate around power plants to stay warm. One of my favorite manatee-viewing hot spots so far is Blue Spring State Park. My husband and I were there for a few days in December, and more than 300 manatees were hanging out in the spring run and the spring itself each day. Learn more about Blue Spring by clicking HERE. I'm also planning another swim with the manatees adventure in Crystal River in February. Read about last year's bucket-list experience HERE.
On the Web: Read Writing Services Unlimited's extensive interview with me by clicking here. Thanks to Eric Rovelto for featuring me on the site and asking numerous insightful questions about my work and the writing process.
Farewell to our little buddy, Shelby: In June 2016, my husband and I suffered the devastating loss of our beloved long-haired Chihuahua, Cocoa. June 2017 brought another gut-wrenching departure from our family. Our much-loved Maltese, Shelby, died suddenly early on the 21st. Our hearts are so heavy, and we miss both of these fur babies so much it hurts. Anyone who has ever spoiled and adored a pet knows how awful it is to say goodbye. No matter how long they're with us, it's never enough time. Shelby and Cocoa will live on in our hearts and memories. They were my devoted shadows and liked to lie by my side, or at least nearby, while I worked on my novels. That space is so empty now, but our rescued dog, Woody, is doing his best to fill it. He instinctively knows we need comfort and wants to cuddle.
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Love is in the ... water?
Dani Davidson and Evan Sanders plan to get married along the cove behind the aquarium. What dress will she wear? Who will she choose as her bridesmaids? What will they serve at the reception? Click on the photo above to visit the Beach Weddings board on Pinterest, where I'm posting ideas for Dani and Evan's big day.
Gulf Shore is a place where a lot of other couples are falling in love, too. Monica and Cosby. Jo and Kelsey. Flipper and Tara. Kenshin and Marina. Who's next? Stay tuned.
Top 10 things about Gulf Shore and its aquarium
10. Sharks and stingrays and snakes, oh my!
9. Gulf Shore has a small-town feel despite being a popular tourist destination.
8. Gulf Shore police Detective Joanna Tompkins has a gun and knows how to use it.
7. The Florida-style food and drinks will make your mouth water.
6. The pets are precious.
5. Two words: Bikini Barb's.
4. The sun, the sand and the surf, year-round.
3. It's the city of second chances. Manatees, turtles, dolphins (including Trident, an adorable calf), river otters and three pilot whales owe their lives to the aquarium's Stranding Team and rehab unit. Monica Sims knows a thing or two about second chances as well.
2. The scenery is first class if you like hunky guys and hot women. Think wet suits, bikinis and board shorts.
1. Gulf Shore is the home of happily ever afters.
Gulf Shore at a glance: The town's tourist district is home not only to Gulf Shore Aquarium and its marine animal hospital, but also to Bikini Barb's Bar & Grill, a favorite hangout of the aquarium crowd; Nauti-Toys watercraft rentals; Catch of the Day seafood restaurant; a municipal fishing pier and marina; the Family Fun Center; Angler and Divers Paradise superstore; a giant inflatable water slide behind one of the waterfront resorts; Gulfview Village gift shops and clothing boutiques; an ocean-themed art gallery; and the community's signature “Dancing Waters” fountain.
Gulf Shore photo gallery
Pets of Gulf Shore
I love my furry and feathered friends so much, I've created supporting roles for them in my Gulf Shore novels.
Meet Ozzie. He's an African gray parrot who is featured prominently in The Shore Thing as Dani Davidson's beloved pet. In the book and in real life, Ozzie is known for his almost spooky ability to speak in context. Ozzie enjoys chewing paper and wood, eating peanuts, fruit, and sunflower seeds, and throwing food to the bottomless pit also known as Woody the wonder puppy.
Meet Woody: The newest fur baby in the Mardis household is Woodrow Dean Mardis, better known as Woody. Someone dumped him and two other pups in the Ocala National Forest when they were only a few weeks old. PAWS Rescue Group, based in Seminole, Florida, brought Woody and his two sisters to the Tampa Bay area, where they stayed in a foster home until all were adopted. Kudos to foster parents Jan Majewski and Karen Altieri and to PAWS for saving these babies. By all accounts, Woody is a mix of mostly corgi, along with Australian cattle dog, beagle, and perhaps terrier. Woody will make his debut in Scrumptious and will have a regular role in the upcoming Ruben's Refuge series.
Shelby Dean Mardis (6-21-17): My chief writing assistant, Shelby, was known for falling asleep on the job. But he was a constant by my side no matter what I was doing. He also was a champion beggar who enjoyed barking at other animals on TV; being driven to distraction by Ozzie the parrot; rolling on bed pillows; and pretending to be much bigger than he was. A real mama's boy, his nickname was "Mr. Happy," which fit his personality. Shelby, 11, was the best little buddy and was always up for fun or mischief. Shore to Please introduces Kelsey and Jo's Maltese, Kirby, who is Shelby in disguise.
Cocoa Marie Mardis (6-7-16): This sweet-natured soul inspired the rescued dog Taco in Shore to Please. In her nine years as part of the Mardis family, Cocoa enjoyed chewing on her toys, scavenging for dropped food around Ozzie's cage, cuddling, bossing Shelby, and, like her brother, hitting us up for treats. Her nickname was Cocoa Bean or sometimes just Beanie. She and Shelby spent a lot of time perched in my recliner or on the couch, keeping an eye on whatever came into view outside the living room windows. Anything they saw or heard usually was announced with a round of barking.
Pet gallery (click on images below)
Writing what you know: Two of the most asked questions from readers are, "How do you come up with your ideas?" and "How much of yourself do you put in your books?" I've drawn on many personal experiences while writing my novels. For instance, the leading lady of my upcoming book Scrumptious, Helen Holt, is a newspaper reporter. I spent more than 30 years in that field. As the book opens, Helen is heading out with Gulf Shore Aquarium's rescue team to help save a manatee, an experience I've been lucky enough to have as a member of the rescue team from Clearwater Marine Aquarium. None of the characters I write are based on a particular person. But some of their life experiences are rooted in real things that have happened to me or to someone I know. And of course current events also contribute to my story lines. You never know what could end up as fodder for a book. That's the beauty of being a writer.