Fun Friday with Sophie Dubois from The Pirate’s Bride by Cathy Skendrovich #sailing #pirates #historical #fiction #romance

Today I’m kicking off a new series I call Fun Fridays, where guest authors will share the cool and fun adventures of their characters with you. Starting the series, is Cathy Skendrovich with some sailing fun from her book, The Pirate’s Bride. Take the helm, Cathy!

“I want to become a pirate. My father was a pirate captain under your leadership. I want to replace him. There is nothing left for me at home, thanks to my father’s death, my husband’s desertion, and my lack of children. I repeat, I want my own ship.”

So states one of my favorite heroines I ever created, Captain Sophie Dubois, from my historical romantic adventure, The Pirate’s Bride. Sophie has always wanted to sail ships more than marry “advantageously.” In my book, she gets that chance, through a “series of unfortunate events,” to quote a famous kids’ author. She also becomes a female pirate.

2014-08-08 08.47.40                I love the ocean. I love looking at it, walking along the shore, and yes, sailing on it. In a very large vessel, mind you. You see, I’m also afraid of the water. But large boats, or ships? They’re okay.

I took my love of the ocean and gave it to Sophie. The wind streaming through her hair, the bright sunlight dancing on the waves, even the thrill from the gentle bobbing of her ship beneath her; all that came directly from me. Sailing over the waves, looking back at where I’ve been and forward to where I want to go, there’s nothing better. Add no seasickness, and you can see why my husband nicknamed me “Captain Jack,” for a certain pirate we all are familiar with.

One vacation, we took the ferry out of Seattle (the faster one, without cars) to go to Victoria, B. C. My husband downed some Dramamine and lolled about in his seat for most of the trip, while I gambled and took nothing. I’d never had motion sickness before, I reasoned.

I didn’t need any drug. Once we hit the open water, lots of people began visiting the restroom. Not me. I went out on deck and embraced the speed, the salt spray, the breeze. I walked the ship, enjoying every moment of the three-and-a-half hours it took across the ocean to get to our destination.

Sophie compares sailing a ship to freedom, and I think she’s right. Isn’t that why we like to drive our own cars, after all? But streets have rules, while the ocean, especially back in the days of pirates, had no rules except to stay afloat.

Sophie’s in charge of her own destiny when she sails a ship, and that was unheard of in the 1700s for a woman. She doesn’t want to rely on a man, and for good reason, which you’ll have to read the book to find out. Sailing gives her that escape and empowerment that I think we all crave, and she embraces it.

I tried like heck to bring out this love affair I have with the ocean in the book. I researched and researched, as well as relied upon my own experience. Pirating was only one facet of Sophie’s story. Becoming a strong, free woman who could protect herself and make her own decisions was so much more important to me. And it all started with a love for the sea.

Here is an excerpt from The Pirate’s Bride, the scene when Sophie’s pirate father-in-law finally gives her the helm of her ship. Read her reaction. I hope it makes you want to read more. Enjoy!

Finally, the reward was nigh on hand, and she would be sailing the ship out into the open ocean at last.

 

The next day it really was everything she’d dreamed of, and more. With the wind blowing her hair free from its plait and drying the tears straight out of her eyes, standing at the helm was heaven on earth. Louis Dubois actually steered the ship, but she was close enough to feel the freedom, the power of being in command.

 

The old pirate appeared to enjoy the sail as much as she did. He pointed out places of interest along the rapidly disappearing coastline, jabbering away at her. Soon only sun-drenched, sparkling swells surrounded them.

 

 “Take her.”

 

Her gaze snapped to his. “Now? Really?”

 

At his nod, she gingerly placed her hands on the smooth spokes of the helm, felt the ship shudder and sway as if alive and sensing her trepidation. She snatched her hands back and stared at Dubois. “It…it feels alive.”

 

He hooted. “Of course it does, girl. Isn’t the ocean a living thing? Now, get your hands on it and keep us at a southerly direction. Tell the crew what you want done, sail straight ahead until the sun hits the horizon, then drop anchor. Philippe and I will be below, wishing not to be disturbed during our card game. Unless, of course, we come under attack.”

 

He paused in his departure, looking over his shoulder at Sophie. “Oh, and Captain Dubois?” Was he talking to her? He must be. He continued, “Figure out on my charts where we are when you drop anchor, and come tell me. Now, ‘Ta.” He strolled away.

PB CoverFollowing a disastrous Coming Out season, Sophie Bellard vows never to become intimate with any man, preferring to sail the seas like her father before her. But an arranged marriage to a dangerous pirate changes her course forever.

Captain Andre Dubois enjoys pillaging, plundering, and seducing women. Settling down and producing an heir to continue his lineage in the Confederation of Pirates has never been important to him. Only when his inheritance is threatened does he reluctantly take a wife, a dark-haired beauty hiding a disheartening secret.

After a ruinous wedding night, Andre and Sophie spurn the attraction that ignites between them and go their separate ways, seeking the lifestyles they each gave up, and making enemies along the way. But, in a twist of pirate fate, their paths cross again, and they rediscover that spark, only to have it threatened by someone from Andre’s past. Can they fight off a murderous adversary, and rekindle an attraction too strong to be extinguished by time? Or, has it, and luck, run out for these two pirates?

Literary Wanderlust

Amazon

2018 headshotCathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, came out Oct. 1, 2017. Undercover with the Nanny, came out on April 23, 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

Visit Cathy’s Website

Join Cathy’s Newsletter

Friend Cathy on Facebook

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Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Divan from #contemporary #romance #author Meg Benjamin #dinner #recipe #fiction #books

Gather round for a Tasty Tuesday sure to tempt your senses! Meg Benjamin serves up a brewery based romance, Love on Tap, along with a delicious recipe for Chicken Divan. Sure looks easy to make and you can read while it bakes. Okay, Meg, the stage—or blog—is yours!


I love writing about food because I love to cook. Most of my books have a scene in which the hero or heroine does some cooking, and I’ve done several books (Fearless Love, Hungry Heart, Love in the Morning) in which either the hero or the heroine is a chef—sometimes both! My Brewing Love trilogy for Entangled Publishing (Love On Tap, Saison For Love, Wild Love coming in June), however, centers on brewing beer rather than cooking. At the heart of the trilogy is a struggling craft brewery—Antero Brewing. But as a Colorado resident (the state has over 300 craft breweries), I can guarantee that beer goes well with food, and cooking is definitely part of the Antero, Colorado, scene.

In the first book in the trilogy, Love On Tap, the hero, Wyatt Montgomery, needs to convince the heroine, Bec Dempsey, that he’s a good cook. It’s all part of Wyatt’s plan to purchase Bec’s last barrel of imperial stout for his Denver gastropub. To convince her of his cooking chops, Wyatt promises to cook her a great dinner based only on the ingredients she currently has in her refrigerator. To make things even more interesting, Bec herself is only a rudimentary cook and she’s living in a makeshift apartment above the brewery.

Bec hadn’t been kidding about the inadequacy of her kitchen. Wyatt managed not to grimace as he checked out the equipment. He had indeed worked with worse—he hadn’t been lying. On the other hand, he hadn’t done a great job with worse, and he sure as hell hadn’t been happy doing it. Still, right now he needed to impress her with his skills, and he couldn’t do that by whining.

 

He opened the smallish refrigerator, checking the meat drawer and the hydrator. Chicken breasts, lettuce, a few stalks of broccoli.

 

“Where do you keep the rest of the food?” He gave her an encouraging smile. Not a criticism, so help me.

 

She gestured toward the wall cabinets. “First one on the right is sort of the pantry. I’ve got dishes and pans in the others.”

 

He nodded, pulling open the pantry door. Sandwich bread, peanut butter, a half-empty jar of blackberry jam. And—oh, thank you, kitchen gods—a bag of noodles. “Okay, one chicken divan coming up.”

Wyatt manages to find all the ingredients he needs in Bec’s kitchen except for sherry—Bec’s a brewmaster, not a wine drinker. But necessity being the mother of invention, he improvises, using a bottle of wheat beer she happens to have on hand. He cooks dinner on Bec’s two-burner hotplate, then watches her reaction as she takes her first bite. If she doesn’t like his cooking, he won’t get her imperial stout, and if he doesn’t get that stout, his gastropub may go under. Which is to say, there’s a lot riding on that first bite:

He carried the plates to the table, sliding into the chair opposite her. “Okay, I’ve never made this with beer before, so I can’t absolutely guarantee it. But it should be edible.”

 

She gave him a quick smile. “It smells a lot better than that.”

 

Actually, it was a lot better than that. The beer didn’t have the nutty flavor of the sherry, but it gave the chicken a slightly toasted taste and worked with the cheese sauce. Not bad. Not bad at all.

 

“This is terrific,” Bec murmured after a couple of bites. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you. You definitely know what you’re doing. You can make dinner for me anytime.”

Wyatt does cook for Bec again, and they have a few more bumps, some of them major, before they seal the deal. But it’s the chicken divan that gets things going. Here’s a modified version, made with sherry since I’m assuming, unlike Wyatt, you’ve got access to a few more ingredients.

CHICKEN DIVAN

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 bunch broccoli, chopped

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T butter

3 T flour

3⁄4 c chicken broth

1⁄2 c milk

1⁄3 c sherry

1 c shredded cheese (cheddar or Swiss)

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Noodles or rice for serving

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F.

 

Steam broccoli for 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain in colander.

 

In a medium frying pan, sauté chicken breasts in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

 

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then gradually whisk in chicken broth, sherry, and milk until incorporated. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add dash of nutmeg. Add 3/4 of the cheese and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

In a 9×13 dish arrange chicken breasts (either whole or sliced) and broccoli. Pour sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil with slits to allow steam to escape.

 

Bake for 30-45 minutes, taking off the aluminum foil for the last 10.

 

Serve over egg noodles or rice

MegBenjaminMeg Benjamin is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her newest series, Brewing Love, is set in the Colorado craft brewing scene. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box trilogy is set in her new home, the Colorado Rockies (both are available from Entangled Publishing). Along with contemporary romance, Meg also writes paranormal romance, including the Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix and the Folk series to be published by Soul Mate Publishing in 2018. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg’s Web site is http://www.MegBenjamin.com. You can follow her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1), Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/megbenjamin/), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/megbenj1). Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at meg@megbenjamin.com.

LoveOnTapFinal CoverWyatt Montgomery knows a barrel of legendary Zoria imperial stout will help his Denver gastropub stay on top. The only problem is the brewery that made it is no longer in business. When Wyatt hears the brewmaster has only one barrel left, he won’t stop until it’s his. He doesn’t consider what this mythical barrel might cost him. And he certainly doesn’t anticipate his reaction to the heart-stoppingly beautiful brewmaster he needs to convince to sell him the beer.

When Wyatt rushes into Bec Dempsey’s small-town cooperative offering to buy the last barrel of her precious Zoria, she’s thrown for a loop. She’s been burned by city-slickers before, and she’ll be damned if she’ll let it happen again. But when things start heating up between them, Bec decides to make Wyatt a counteroffer. One she hopes he won’t refuse.

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Thanks so much, Meg! That sounds like my kind of recipe, and the story sounds tempting, too! I’ve used wine in cooking, and even some gin or beer, but never sherry. Hmm. I guess I’ve been missing out on using the warmth and robust flavor of the sherry in my recipes. I will have to try it!

That wraps up this round of Tasty Tuesday posts, but please enjoy the new series of Don’t Say That! posts on Mondays about words I had to avoid in my A More Perfect Union historical romance series and other historical stories set in the 18th and 19th centuries. I’ll be looking at how language has changed along with the technological advances and the words that would be anachronistic (futuristic, in a sense) for my characters if I used them. It’s intended to be a fun and light-hearted exploration into the evolution of words and language. Enjoy!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole from #romance #author Cathy Skendrovich #dinner #recipe #romancebooks

I have a little spicy treat for you all on this Tasty Tuesday! Not only is Undercover with the Nanny a hot dish, but contemporary romance author Cathy Skendrovich shares a hot Chicken Enchilada Casserole dish, too. Take it away, Cathy!

Thank you, Betty, for hosting me on your “Tasty Tuesday” blog. I love writing, and I love cooking, so being able to talk about both is a win-win for me.

Food is always featured in my books. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack, I invariably have my characters breaking bread together. It may be because I love to cook (and eat it), but I think it’s also true that when you sit around a table with friends or family, you naturally share more about yourself while in the process of eating. Table conversation can be enlightening, from lovers to parents.

In my upcoming romantic suspense release, Undercover with the Nanny, due out on April 23, 2018, the characters share several meals together. Our hero, Sawyer Hayes, is a DEA agent investigating Kate Munroe and her boss for possible drug trafficking. In one scene he invites Kate out to dinner in order to pump her for information. He’s unprepared for the slam-to-the-gut chemistry they share in the Mexican restaurant. Kissing her becomes more important that feeding himself. And kissing his suspect is dangerous, as well as unprofessional. Will he give in to the urge, and jeopardize the case, as well as his career? You’ll have to purchase the book on April 23rd to find out.

UwtN_1600When Kate Munroe is smacked in the head by a beach volleyball, she has no idea that the hunky guy responsible is a well-trained DEA agent sent to investigate her. She just thinks he’s a schmuck who can’t play very well. And when she discovers he’s moved in right next door, she’s not overjoyed. He makes her feel…edgy, when he looks at her. Like he knows what she looks like under her clothes. And she doesn’t trust a guy who throws her off balance. She doesn’t trust, period.

DEA agent Sawyer Hayes came to the southernmost tip of California in search of Mexico’s dangerous drug cartel leader, Armando Ortiz, who slipped through his fingers in El Paso. The link to finding Ortiz is Kate Munroe, a nanny for one of Ortiz’s henchmen. But does the dark-eyed beauty with the smart mouth know who she works for, or is she an innocent pawn in this high stakes game of cat-and-mouse? It’s Sawyer’s job to find out. And Sawyer won’t rest until he knows, because he’s falling for the sexy babysitter and isn’t sure if he can throw her in jail when the time comes.

Here’s an excerpt:

Just one more knock.

 

She gave what she thought was one last, good rap. Silence.

 

Fate—or God—had provided a reprieve for her common sense. She could go back home without having embarrassed herself with her momentary sexual weakness. She turned to go. Just as she did, she heard the rattle of the doorknob, along with the swish of the front door opening. Scrunching her eyes shut, she pivoted, and then opened them one at a time. She choked on a strangled gasp.

 

Sawyer Hayes stood in the open doorway, gloriously naked, except for the towel slung low on his hips. Really low. Mouthwateringly low. She dragged her gaze away, up that corrugated abdomen, past that chiseled chest where stray water droplets dotted the wide expanse of male skin, up to those glittering emeralds that pinned her in her place.

 

There was no Southern charm in his expression now. Only a palpable expectancy that snapped between them like an electrical current. Without losing eye contact, he leaned one brawny shoulder against the doorjamb. She fought the urge to check out how that towel remained around him in this new position. He had such narrow hips, after all—

 

“I don’t imagine you’re here to borrow a cup of sugar, are you?”

 

Her gaze popped up to his face, where humor had replaced that avid anticipation of a moment before. What could she say? That, now that the decision was left in her hands, all she could think of was being with him? Touching him, tasting him, doing unmentionable things more in keeping with a certain Mr. Christian Grey than with what she’d ever done in her rather beige sexual past.

 

A questioning look crossed his face, and she realized she’d been silent too long. What should she say? Tell him she’d changed her mind? Excuse herself and run home? He wouldn’t follow her. But, she hadn’t changed her mind, that was the problem. Seeing him almost naked only underscored that realization.

 

Her pulse sped up as she admitted to herself: she wanted to have sex with Sawyer Hayes. She needed to know if that instant spark that came to life whenever they were together would transfer to the bedroom. That maybe, just maybe, he would rock her world when others hadn’t. She wouldn’t question what that meant if he did.

 

“I do have sugar, Munroe, though you don’t strike me as the type to use that manufactured—”

 

“Can I come in?” Without waiting for his answer, she pushed past him, brushing against his body while half-hoping that tenacious towel would lose its battle and land on the floor. That would make her decision so much easier.

 

“It depends on how long you plan on staying,” he drawled, stepping aside and shutting the front door with a decisive click. She moved closer, close enough she could smell the soap he’d washed with, could hear each measured inhale and exhale that he took. She studied his face, had to tilt her head only a little because he was barefoot.

That sexy tidbit may not have you craving food, but here’s an enchilada casserole recipe I make for my family that’s easy and tasty and is similar to what I describe in the book. I use chicken, but turkey or beef can be substituted.

enchilada casseroleChicken Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients

2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce

1 15-oz. can enchilada sauce, mild

Corn tortillas (10-20 count package)

Sliced or chopped olives to taste

Shredded Mexican cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Grease 9×13 baking dish
  3. Pour and mix tomato sauce and enchilada sauce in bowl
  4. Dip enough tortillas (usually 2) in the sauces, and place in bottom of dish
  5. Sprinkle some chicken on top
  6. Sprinkle olives and cheese on top of chicken
  7. Dip more tortillas in sauces and cover the chicken, olives and cheese
  8. Continue layering ingredients until there’s no more chicken
  9. Top the casserole with at least two more dipped tortillas, and sprinkle cheese on top
  10. Optional: May dribble sauce over top
  11. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350˚ for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Good with Mexican rice and beans. Serves 8-10

2017 Profile PicCathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, came out Oct. 1, 2017. Her next contemporary romantic suspense, entitled Undercover with the Nanny, is due out on April 23, 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can reach Cathy at the following sites. She loves hearing from readers.

http://www.cathyskendrovich.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Skendrovich-249667925220631/

https://twitter.com/cskendrovich

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14232546.Cathy_Skendrovich

https://www.instagram.com/cathyskendrovich/

https://www.amazon.com/Cathy-Skendrovich/e/B015JJZZOW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
 

Thanks so much for sharing both your story and your recipe, Cathy! A bit of spice can really make a meal and a romance special. The combination seems like a fine idea to me.

Next week will be the last guest post for Tasty Tuesday for a while. I’m starting a new blog series of Between the Lines posts on Mondays and I hope you’ll all enjoy them. Watch for more recipes and stories to return later this year, though. I know how much you all have loved reading about the many different books and foods.

Until next time! Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Triple-Chocolate Romeos by #romance author Lucinda Race #cookie #recipe #todiefor

Most everyone loves chocolate, and this week’s Tasty Tuesday brings you a triple-chocolate treat from contemporary romance author Lucinda Race. Enjoy!


Romeo… where are my Romeos?

Hello!

It’s a pleasure to share with you one of my favorite recipes, Triple Chocolate Romeos. I‘ve written a seven-book series based on the McKenna family who live and love in a small town in Western Massachusetts.

Cooking has always been central in life with my daughters. When my youngest daughter was in middle school she dreamed of becoming a baker. Often, I would come home from work and the kitchen counters would be smeared with egg shells, melted chocolate and so many other ingredients. This final recipe is the product of her earlier attempts and the inspiration for Kate McKenna Donovan who is featured in Ready to Soar, book five in The Loudon Series.

Magic Cover Art Only Amazon 2560x1600-2            Lucas saw the troubled look flit over Kate’s face. “Hey, I’m sorry, I guess I shouldn’t have brought it up. For what it’s worth, I think Cari liked taking control of the kitchen. She made these triple chocolate cookies that were to die for, I think she called them Romeos. Have you ever had one?”

            Kate laughed. “Not only have I had them, but I’ll confess I made them up when I was about eleven. Mom had to tweak the recipe a bit to make them actually taste good, but the basic idea was mine.”

            “Cari made them on two different days and they sold out before lunch. I had to save one from the second batch just so I would get a sample. Sounds like you’ve always had a knack for being in the kitchen.”

 

Triple Chocolate Romeos

Ingredients

2 sticks butter softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup white sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda and salt- each

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons half and half or light cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate- melted

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 ¼ cups flour

1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

Cream, butter, sugars baking soda and salt for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and half and half and vanilla. Then combine melted chocolate, cocoa and baking powder. Add flour and white chocolate chips. Dough will be soft.  Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Cool and enjoy.

Coffee and Romeos

I hope you enjoy the cookies. They freeze great and if you can wait, let them come to room temperature and enjoy.

For more on the Loudon Series visit my website at www.lucindarace.com.

Until next time,

I wish you happiness.

Lucinda


This recipe will be added to my cookie recipes. Yum! Thanks so much for sharing this cookie recipe, Lucinda! Do you guys have a favorite cookie?

Until next time, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Meatballs and Sausages #appetizer w/ #romance #author Lynn Crandall #recipe

Let’s talk about appetizers on this Tasty Tuesday, shall we? With all the parties of the holiday season, this might be one you’d enjoy to contribute. Romance author Lynn Crandall is here to share her story Nutcracker Sweet and a recipe for meatballs and sausages. Take it away, Lynn!


I’m happy to be on Betty Bolte’s Tasty Tuesday to share a little bit about my new release, Nutcracker Sweet, and a recipe mentioned in the story. Thank you, Betty!

My mom was making chocolate Christmas cookies and gathering all the family around the kitchen table to stretch out a blob of hot candy into a platter of peanut brittle. It was a tradition, and one in which we all bonded together.

We were not unique. When the holidays come around, many of us celebrate with family traditions. According to Amy Griswold, Family Life Educator at the University of Illinois County Extension, traditions are part of the fabric of family.

Research shows that these traditions are important in building strong family relationships between generations,” Griswold wrote on the Extension’s website. “Traditions are stories, beliefs, rituals, and customs that are passed from one generation to the next. Keeping traditions for the holidays as well as the ordinary days help teach children the things their family values. These traditions help fill the individual’s need to belong. Being a part of the special things our family does, helps us to have that sense of belonging.”

In my story, Nutcracker Sweet, Noël Hartley is facing the holiday season burdened with sorrow over her sister’s death. Family holiday traditions, including attending a performance of the Nutcracker ballet each Christmas with her older sister, Reggie, are painful reminders that her sister is no longer around and her family is falling apart. Her parents have left town, her younger brother and sister are looking to her to hold the family together, and on top of everything, the firefighter Jonah Grant, the man who didn’t save Reggie from the fire, keeps trying to make pathways into her life. Ugghh.

Rather than trying to ignore Christmas, Noël plans a holiday get-together for the three of them, and turns to traditional foods to help create a sense of belonging. Her contribution to the festivities is a zingy cheddar cheese ball. Her sister, Brie, supplies the peppermint mocha coffees, and her brother, Oliver, brings the hot meatballs and sausages in a family-favorite, tangy sauce. Unexpected guest, Jonah, adds his homemade apricot liqueur eggnog and a whole lot more than Noël expects.

Nutcracker Sweet FINALcover

Here’s the blurb:

A year after her sister’s death, Noël Hartley is haunted by memories of Christmas past. All around, life is going on, including all the happy celebrations of Christmas. Noël is having nothing of it, or the firefighter who failed to save her sister Regina from the deadly fire.

Firefighter Jonah Grant is going through the motions of working and living his life. The night he fought a fire in Regina Hartley’s house replays over and over, but always ends the same. He went into a fire to save her, but came out without her.

A wall of pain keeps Noël and Jonah apart and alone in their suffering, though in mid-size Cranberry Cove they’re finding it challenging to avoid one another. But when a stalker puts Noël’s life in danger, Jonah has to find a way to prevent another tragedy and prove to her that their futures rely on facing the past.

Amazon: http://a.co/at5I5sm

Here’s an excerpt from Nutcracker Sweet:

“Excuse me, could you help me get that box of crackers on the top shelf?”

The female voice sounded familiar and Jonah looked up, ready to assist. His heart stopped. Please floor, open up and swallow me now.

It was Noël Hartley, standing two feet away and asking for help. She blinked, twice, and swayed a tiny bit. It was a very quiet sound, but he heard her gasp.

“I’m sorry.” The words just fell out. “I mean, sure.” He couldn’t move.

She held his gaze, silently, for a full, frozen minute. “Hi, Jonah. Do you mind?” She pointed to a box of seven grain, sea salt crackers. “Please?”

He grabbed the box and handed it to her, his arms were heavy logs. “Just one box?”

She slanted her head, and his pulse sped up. Cute was not a strong enough word to assign to her face. Cad.

“No, two would be better.”

He gave her another box and paused, their eyes meeting again. His mouth went dry. Words, where were his words? Nerves rattled in his head. “I came in to get something for dinner, but I don’t know…” He let the sentence drop and twisted as though searching for something to buy.

She chuckled lightly, and it steadied his rambling thoughts. “Me too. I have to pick up things for a meal, anyway.” She chewed on her lip, drawing his attention to them.

His heart ached for her. The apologies he had made to Noël and her family just after the fire were the last words he’d spoken about the tragedy with them. His words had been so inadequate that thinking of them now he felt his skin blanch. He lifted his gaze and found Noël searching his face.

“Jonah.” Her expression got very somber. “I don’t hold any hard feelings for you. Don’t feel uncomfortable for what happened.” She dropped her gaze, but not before he saw her eyes reveal her pain. Then her expression perked up. “It’s been almost a year. I’m fine. I hope you are too. Now, I need to finish my shopping. Good luck with finding your dinner.”

So we’re going to gloss over everything wrong. She was not fine, and that crunched his heart. But he wouldn’t press, not here, not in the grocery store. “Thanks. I’ll find something.”

She pushed her cart away from him, but he stood watching her retreat, helpless in her despair. He couldn’t just go on as he’d been over the months since the fire. Noël had graciously let him off the hook, but the truth was in her eyes. It had pierced his soul and he couldn’t continue as though nothing had happened but he didn’t yet know what to do either.

Now for the recipe Oliver made for Brie and Noël.

Meatballs and Sausages in Tangy Sauce

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef

1 16 ounce bottle Catalina dressing

1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice

1 package cocktail sausages

Directions 

  • Shape ground beef into small meatballs and brown on all sides.

  • When meatballs are done, pour full bottle of Catalina dressing and  entire can of pineapple chunks with juice in a crockpot. Stir, and add meatballs and sausages to the crockpot mixture. Stir again.

  • Cook over low heat in crockpot  until meatballs are done, about two or three hours, depending on your crockpot.

  • Keep mixture warm in pot  to serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as an appetizer for any kind of gathering this holiday or any time you throw a party. Check out Nutcracker Sweet to read how I used the dish in the story.

May your holiday season be full of peace, love, and joy!

my best author picLynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down. She hopes that readers discover, over and over, stories of ordinary people who face ordinary life challenges and are transformed by extraordinary love.

 

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Crandall/e/B00AX9OA40/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1511570977&sr=8-1

Website http://lynn-crandall.com/

Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrandallAuthor/?ref=settings

Twitter https://twitter.com/lcrandallwriter

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6198966.Lynn_Crandall

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/lynncrandallwriter/

Instagram lcrandall246


That’s an easy and tasty appetizer, isn’t it? The story sounds tempting as well. Do you have a favorite pitch-in dish you take to gatherings?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Scottish Cranachan #dessert w/ #regency #romance #author Regan Walker #recipe

For Tasty Tuesday I have a very special guest and recipe for you all. Regan Walker writes regency historical romance and this story is a Christmas story set in Scotland and featuring a really delicious confection, cranachan. What is cranachan? Well, here’s Regan to tell you all about it. Enjoy!


Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert served at the Stephens in Arbroath in A Secret Scottish Christmas. It was a favorite of William Stephen, but new to his English guests. Today, it’s usually made from a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey, and fresh raspberries topped with toasted oatmeal. But in the Regency era, whisky was the equivalent of moonshine and the upper classes would more likely have used brandy if they wanted to make it with liquor.

Some of the best raspberries in the world are grown in Scotland, but in winter, bottled and preserved raspberries would be used. Today you can use frozen raspberries out of season, of course. If no cream was available, the Scots would use a traditional cream cheese called Crowdie.

The scene on Christmas Eve when cranachan was served:

For dessert, they had Will’s favorite, cranachan, a Scottish tradition their English guests had not sampled before.

“Anything in it we should know about?” asked Hugh, his spoon suspended above the layered confection.

“Not unless you are averse to toasted oatmeal, cream, honey, raspberries and a dash of brandy,” replied Ailie. “I assure you, no kale is hiding beneath the layers.”

Everyone laughed and picked up their spoons.

“Our cook bottled the raspberries herself last summer,” offered Emily.

Will licked some of the honeyed confection from his bottom lip. “If you don’t want yours, Ormond, old chum, I’d be happy to take it from you.” He made as if to reach his spoon toward Hugh’s cranachan.

Hugh raised his spoon like a sword poised to repel an attack. “You’re not getting mine ‘old chum’. I do believe I will like the dessert.”

Many chuckles echoed around the table.

Walker-Secret Scottish ChristmasSpies and Scots and Shipmasters, oh my!

Scotland 1819

Twin brothers Nash and Robbie Powell of Powell & Sons Shipping, London, sail with their fellow Agents of the Crown to Scotland for a secret celebration of Christmastide, a holiday long frowned upon by the Scottish Kirk. But more than Christmas is being kept secret. The two brothers have accepted an assignment from the Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth to ferret out a fugitive fomenting rebellion among the Scots.

Aileen Stephen, the only daughter of an Aberdeen shipbuilder, had to be clever, devious and determined to gain her place in the family business. She succeeded to become a designer of highly coveted ships. One night, a man’s handsome face appears to her in a dream. When two men having that same face arrive on a ship full of Londoners, Ailie wonders what her second sight is telling her. Is the face she saw a portender of the future, a harbinger of danger, or both? And which of the two Englishmen is the one in her dream?

Older than Nash by a mere five minutes, Robbie has always been protective of his twin. When he realizes Nash is attracted to the sister of their Scottish host, he thinks to help matters along. But Nash wants no help from his brother, not where Ailie Stephen is concerned because Robbie is attracted to the girl himself!

Two brothers vie for the affection of the Scottish lass but only one stirs her passion. Which one will it be? And what will she do when she learns they are spies?

Walker-CranachanScottish Cranachan

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup + ¼ cup steel cut (pinhead) oats
  • ⅓ cup Scotch whisky (use a top quality brand)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 3 tbsp. Scotch whisky
  • 3 tbsp. organic raw honey
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  1. The night before you want to make the dessert, toast ⅓ cup (2 oz.) of the oats in a cast iron or very heavy pan until very lightly browned- this won’t take long, so keep a close eye, as you don’t want burnt oats. Put the oats in a bowl and cover with ⅓ cup (3 oz.) of whisky. Cover and let stand overnight to soak.
  2. When you are ready to make the Cranachan, toast the second batch of oats, exactly the same as you did the first. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Choose a few choice raspberries to decorate the top and set them aside.
  4. Crush the rest of the raspberries in a bowl, with a spatula or fork (just a bit, we’re not making jam).
  5. Sprinkle the raspberries with 2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of whisky. Mix well and set aside.
  6. Whip the cream until it starts to thicken, then add the other 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 tablespoons of whisky. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form, then fold in the whisky-soaked oats.
  7. At this point, we are ready to assemble the dessert. I would recommend doing this relatively close to serving time as the dessert will taste better fresh. (If possible, don’t make it in the morning to serve for dinner.)
  8. Place a spoonful or two of the raspberries to cover the bottom of the glass, then add some of the cream mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the cream with some of the toasted oats, then repeat the layers. Finish with the sprinkled oats and top with a raspberry or three.

Refrigerate until ready to eat, but take them out about 20 minutes before serving, for better flavor.

See it on Regan’s website here: http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com/cranachan.html

Regan Walker profile picRegan Walker is an award-winning, Amazon bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. A lawyer turned full-time writer, she has seven times been featured in USA TODAY’s HEA column and nominated six times for the prestigious RONE award. (Her novels, The Red Wolf’s Prize and King’s Knight, won Best Historical Novel in the medieval category for 2015 and 2017, respectively.) In 2017, her novel The Refuge: An Inspirational Novel of Scotland won the Gold Medal in the Illumination Awards, and To Tame the Wind won the International Book Award for Romance Fiction.

Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government have given Regan a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown”. Hence her stories often feature a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for special assignments. Each of her novels includes real history and real historical figures as characters. And, of course, adventure and love.

Follow Regan on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Regan-Walker/e/B008OUWC5Y) and BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/regan-walker

Keep in touch with her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104 where you can join Regan Walker’s Readers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReganWalkersReaders/. You can sign up for her newsletter on her website, www.reganwalkerauthor.com

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104

Pinterest Storyboard for the book: https://www.pinterest.com/reganwalker123/a-secret-scottish-christmas-by-regan-walker/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35064223-a-secret-scottish-christmas

Amazon buy links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076BBG6HV

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076BBG6HV

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B076BBG6HV

Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/B076BBG6HV


Thanks so much, Regan! That cranachan sounds like something I may have to try this Christmas, right after I read A Secret Scottish Christmas story! Thanks for swinging by and sharing the recipe and snippet from the story.

What about you? Are you tempted to try either or both? Are you enjoying these guest author posts as much as I am?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Cinnamon Buns and Kick-Butt Characters w/ #romance #author Roxanne Snopek #breakfast #recipe

Tasty Tuesday has arrived and brought my first guest author for this round of posts, Roxanne Snopek, to introduce you to her kick-butt characters and cinnamon bun recipe. Take it away, Roxanne!


When I was about sixteen, a friend told me that I’d make a wonderful grandmother. Think about that for a moment: old, soft, a little out-of-touch, good at baking buns and knitting and providing peppermints is not exactly the image one aspires to as a teenage girl! However, now that I’m at that age, I have a different view. Yes, many of my friends who are grandmas are good at baking and knitting but they are also tough, smart and dare I say it, young, too! They are Kick-Butt Grannies and they rock a lot more than chairs!

In my new Sunset Bay series, I have a character named Daphne who’s the ranch cook. She’s got a rough past, a kid and grandkid she doesn’t see, a soft heart and a cinnamon bun recipe that has made her a local celebrity. But don’t let the helmet-hair and granny-jeans fool you. She also kick-boxes in her spare time, has zero tolerance for crap and cusses like a sailor when necessary.

For the many wounded people who find their way to Sanctuary Ranch, she’s just what they need. Here’s a glimpse of Haylee, my heroine, watching Daphne interact with her new assistant, Jamie.

Haylee was at the main house the next morning with a whole minute to spare.

“Good morning Daphne,” she said to the cook.

“It’s morning,” Daphne replied, wiping her hands on her apron. “Can’t comment on the goodness, yet. Just when I think Jamie’s turned a corner, she pulls something new. Today it’s potato mutation.” She leaned toward the cellar steps. “They’re sprouting, you ninny!”

Jamie’s voice floated up. “They’re squishy and gross. It’s like a horror show down here.”

“Kids these days,” muttered the cook. “No life skills.”

“She’s hardly a kid, Daphne,” said Haylee.

“And I’m an old woman, getting older by the second. Bring them up now, Jamie,” yelled Daphne, “or I’ll make you peel them too.”

Daphne loved Jamie like a daughter.

A thumping, bumping noise sounded from the cellar, followed by the heavy wooden door slamming, then footsteps stomping up the stairs as the girl huffed her way into the kitchen, holding the plastic tub out at arm’s length.

“They look desperate, like they’re reaching out for help,” said Jamie. “It’s bad energy.”

Jamie had dabbled in reiki at one time. She’d dabbled in a lot of things.

“It’s life force,” corrected Daphne. “If you put those in the ground outside, they’d turn into a whole garden of spuds.”

Jamie tipped the tub of tubers into the farmhouse sink and turned on the cold water. “Then why aren’t we doing that?”

“You know those green plants you spent three hours weeding yesterday? Potatoes. In another month or so, we’ll be eating them fresh. Until then, we finish last year’s crop. Quit being such a girl.”

Jamie’s jaw dropped. “You can’t say that.”

Haylee bit back a laugh and looked away. She was used to Daphne.

Daphne pointed her knife at the butcher-block work station. “Then woman up, girl.”

That’s the kind of granny I want to be, when the time comes. I don’t knit, but I do bake. In fact, the cinnamon buns Daphne makes for the ranch guests come from a recipe I’ve used many times. My family loves them and when they’re in the oven, the whole house smells of yeasty, cinnamon-y goodness.

Everyone is more than they seem and I love watching my characters find out how tough they really are. I may seem soft and mild at times, but like Daphne, I’ve learned to kick butt when necessary. I bet there’s a warrior inside you, too.

UBC CINNAMON BUNS (TRADITIONAL METHOD)

CinniesThese legendary cinnamon buns were first introduced to the University of British Columbia’s students in the early 1950s. The recipe has been printed numerous times in The Vancouver Sun and every year they still get requests for these light-textured buns. Although large, they’re not as rich and gooey as some cinnamon buns.

Dough

3 cups (750 mL) milk (2 per cent M.F.)

6 tablespoons (90 mL) butter

6 tablespoons (90 mL) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt

1 teaspoon (5 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) lukewarm water

2 (8 g) packages traditional active dry yeast

2 large eggs

9 cups (2.25 L) all-purpose flour, about

Filling

11/4 cups (300 mL) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (30 mL) ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (175 mL) melted butter, divided

Directions

  • Dough: Scald milk. Stir in butter, 6 tablespoons (90 mL) sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
  • Dissolve the 1 teaspoon (5 mL) sugar in lukewarm water. Sprinkle yeast over water mixture. Let stand in warm place for 10 minutes; stir.
  • In large bowl, combine lukewarm milk mixture and eggs. Stir in dissolved yeast. Add 4 to 5 cups (1 to 1.25 L) flour and beat well for 10 minutes. With wooden spoon, gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
  • Turn dough out on to lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed. (This is a soft dough.) Place in well greased bowl and roll dough over to grease the top. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in warm place for 1 hour or until double in size.
  • Meanwhile prepare filling: In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
  • Punch down dough and turn out on to lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
  • Roll out each piece of dough into 18×9-inch (46×23 cm) rectangle. Brush each rectangle generously with melted butter. Place remaining melted butter in bottom of 161/2 x111/2 x21/2-inch (42x29x6 cm) pan.
  • Sprinkle an equal portion of sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly over each rectangle. Roll each dough rectangle up tightly like a jelly roll, starting from the long side; pinch seam to seal. With sharp knife, cut into 2-inch (5 cm) slices. Arrange slices, cut-side down, in prepared pan and cover loosely with greased wax paper. Let rise in warm place for 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  • Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 35 to 45 minutes or until baked. Remove from oven and immediately invert on to serving tray.

Makes 18 large cinnamon buns.

Approximate nutritional analysis for each serving: 433 cal, 9 g pro, 14 g fat, 69 g carb.

Snopek-grin cropUSA Today bestselling author Roxanne Snopek writes contemporary romance set in small towns, big cities and secluded islands, with families and communities that will warm your heart. Her fictional heroes (like her own real-life hero) are swoon-worthy, ultra-responsible, secretly vulnerable and occasionally dough-headed, but animals love them, which makes everything okay. Roxanne writes from British Columbia, Canada, where she is surrounded by flowers, wildlife and two adoring dogs. She does yoga to stay sane. It works, mostly.

Visit her at www.roxannesnopek.ca

Sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/vqXgv

Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/RoxanneSnopekAuthor

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Follow her on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roxanne-Snopek/e/B004UO6RQ8/

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Snopek-SBScover (388x640)The spectacular scenery and craggy beaches draw tourists to the small Oregon town of Sunset Bay. But Sanctuary Ranch offers a different kind of experience: a refuge for people—and animals—desperate for a new beginning . 
 
Haylee Hansen has made a career out of caring for and training the dogs and horses on her aunt’s ranch. Part halfway house, part work camp, it also gives troubled kids and adults the tough love they so desperately need. Haylee should know. She was her aunt’s first success story. But now her turbulent past is about to show up on her doorstep . . .

After thirteen years running a level one emergency room in Portland, Aiden McCall arrives in Sunset Bay a broken man. Anger and anxiety have nearly taken over his life—and could sabotage his new job at the local hospital. Until someone proposes an unconventional solution: a therapy dog.

Haylee has seen her share of damaged people, but no one like Aiden. As she tries to match him with the perfect dog, he’ll help her to see that no one has a perfect life. And that opening yourself up to love is the only way to heal your soul . . .

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sunset-Bay-Sanctuary-Novel-ebook/dp/B06XFK9BFV/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sunset-bay-sanctuary-roxanne-snopek/1125896933

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/sunset-bay-sanctuary

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sunset-bay-sanctuary/id1212554748?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Roxanne_Snopek_Sunset_Bay_Sanctuary?id=IdFDDgAAQBAJ


Yum to both the buns and the story! I think that sounds like a super grandma to have around. What do you think? Is this a story you’d like to read while nibbling on a cinnamon bun?

Next week I’ll have another guest author, so until then, happy reading and may your mornings start with a delicious breakfast!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: My Fantasy #Bookstore in Undying Love #excerpt #research #daydreams #secretfantasy

my-books-2017Daydreams and fantasies fuel my creative side. One of my dearest fantasies has been to have my own bookstore one day. A dream I once thought possible, but as I get older, the idea has lost some of its allure. I’ve grown accustomed to being at home working on my books, rather than out among a lot of people on a daily basis. Still, I sometimes ponder what my bookstore would look like, how I’d decorate it, what books and other merchandise I’d include in it, and so forth. Of course, my own books would be on the local authors shelf. <grin> I doubt I’ll open one, though.

bw-clear-owlAs a result, I established my fantasy bookstore in Undying Love. The name of the store, Golden Owl Books and Brews, hints at how I would run such a store. Owls are one of my favorite birds of prey. Not only that, they symbolize knowledge, wisdom. More importantly for the purpose of my story, in the Celtic tradition owls symbolize guardians of the underworld and a protection of the dead. You can find out more about the symbolism of owls here. Given that Undying Love includes a ghostly lady who teaches Meredith a lesson about love and trust, the owl seemed a perfect fit. Thus, the sign hanging out front of the store features a Great Horned Owl.

Here’s an excerpt from Undying Love, describing the store in more detail. The bookstore actually is featured in every story of the Secrets of Roseville series. Meredith and Paulette, estranged sisters who are rebuilding their friendship, have many questions so they’ve journeyed into the small town of Roseville, Tennessee, to find some answers:

They crossed the square, heading for Golden Owl Books and Brews. The bookstore had occupied the 1860s-era brick building as long as Meredith could remember. The three sisters who ran the thriving business had diversified over the years, adding in a variety of attractions and merchandise to keep the townsfolk flocking through the doors. Flyers on the windows announced open mic nights featuring local artists to share their talents. A yellow kiosk in one corner enabled people to buy and download books from a variety of publishers.

“What are you looking for again?” Meredith asked. “I thought we had enough books at home.”

“A book on the county history, one published fairly recently, might provide some new clues.” Paulette tucked her clutch purse under her arm. “Grandma’s are so old they’re practically worthless.”

“I’m sure they have some useful history in them,” Meredith said, pushing open the door. A bell jangled above her head. “But a newer one may be worth the investment. New facts may have come to light, with any luck.”

“Hmmm, it smells wonderful in here.” Paulette paused inside the door and scanned the crowded bookshop.

“It’s the bakery. All the cinnamon and cloves and apples.” Meredith drew in a deep breath, savoring the aromas of fresh bread and spices. “What a brilliant idea these ladies had to include fresh cinnamon rolls.”

“I’ll be in the local history section.” Paulette pointed to the sign indicating the area and strode toward the back of the store.

Meredith considered her next move as she surveyed the bookstore. She wanted to discover what kinds of books existed that could shed light on the census and how to interpret them. But first, she needed to stand there and merely experience the atmosphere. She inhaled, cataloging the mingling scents, detecting paper and ink as backdrop to hot coffee and cinnamon. In one corner, a small stage waited for the next open mic participant. The sisters opened the Golden Owl two nights a week to let people read from their writing or perform a musical number. Those evenings only, they also featured a wine-and-cheese party as extra incentive for the locals to attend. The bell over the front door rang every few moments, announcing customers coming and going.

Tables sat scattered throughout the shop, laden with books or calendars and other related products. Handmade jewelry crafted by local artisans hung on tall stands dotting the floor space. An open balcony featuring tables and comfortable chairs ran around the upstairs walls, leaving an airy feel in the center. A rack of greeting cards, advertised as designed by locals, hugged the wall under the stairs, a postage stamp kiosk beside it. Beyond, a small table and chair waited for the correspondent to fill out the card, put a stamp on it, and then slip it into the mailbox outside the front door of the shop.

Oh, how I’d love to run such an inviting little shop in a quaint town in an historic building! Not that I foresee it happening, mind you. But it’s tempting.

For the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon, featuring author Brenda Novak as keynote speaker, I’m putting together a Golden Owls Books and Brews gift basket for the fundraising raffle. I’ll include items such as notecards and jewelry by local artisans who live near the small town I used as a model for the fictional town of Roseville. I’ll also include some other goodies and books for the winner of the raffle. Also, I’ll be hosting a table, and looking forward to chatting with you over lunch, followed by a public book signing in the hotel lobby. If you’re interested in this June 3 reader event in Huntsville, Alabama, you can find out more and register to attend at the Heart of Dixie website.

I suppose my love of bookstores is why I return to the store and its owners, the three Golden sisters, in the series. In fact, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, book 3, is the first book featuring the Golden sisters and their love stories. I am planning to release the story of Tara Golden and Grant Markel in May, just in time to have copies on hand at the Heart of Dixie luncheon and signing. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter in order to stay informed regarding its cover and release date.

What would you want to see in a bookstore? Or not see, for that matter? Do you have a dream, a fantasy you hold close even though it may never come to pass?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Undying Love is available now! Book 2, Haunted Melody, is up for pre-order and will release on March 28. Happy reading!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fSnDL6

Tasty Tuesday: Quinoa & Vegetable Pilaf #sidedish #dinner #recipe from #paranormal #romance #author Lynn Crandall #shifters

Tasty Tuesday brings a healthy side dish to enjoy for dinner, Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf, by Lynn Crandall. Enjoy!


Thank you, Betty, for having me on your fun blog for Tasty Tuesday!

Probabilities, Book 4 in my Fierce Hearts series, is included in a new Crimson Romance bundle, Hot for Teacher. It’s a fun set of 10 couples, 10 authors, and 10 romances. Probabilities follows the story of two were-lynxes, Tizzy Sands and Quinn Arons, who belong to a colony of shifters.

What I especially enjoyed writing about this couple is that these characters featured contrasting personalities. While teacher Tizzy is a vivacious, outgoing party girl, Quinn is a reserved brainiac with several PhDs. As a genius, Quinn has lived a life of rejection. I like featuring his genius as a problem because I have geniuses in my life and though I enjoy them, sometimes they feel misunderstood and challenged to connect with others. It can be a lonely situation. Our society tends to be so prone to criticizing, some very nice individuals who have something different about them, suffer. For highly intelligent people, their genius doesn’t protect them, it singles them out.

2015-03-29-16-39-51Though Quinn respects Tizzy for her social skills and her vitality, he expects her to reject him as anything more than a friend and co-colony member. But she’s perky, not shallow. They find things they each enjoy and share them, thereby expanding their individual worlds. For instance, Quinn is an environmentalist and practices a number of conservation measures. Tizzy likes to set an appealing table with different, healthy kinds of foods, and incorporates nice touches to the setting. She’d be the one to drape twinkly lights around a room for a romantic atmosphere and Quinn would be the one to contribute fresh asparagus and herbs from his organic garden to the meal. The healthy side dish could be Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf. Here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

Quinoa and Vegetable Pilaf

Ingredients

1 ¾ chicken broth

1 cup of quinoa

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 c diced orange bell pepper

1 c diced green pepper

½ c sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup chopped asparagus

1 c diced zucchini

½ crumbled feta

2 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp lemon juice

 

  1. In a saucepan, bring broth (or water instead) to a boil. Add quinoa, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork.

  2. While quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, and zucchini. Sauté until tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add cooked quinoa (there shouldn’t be any water because the quinoa absorbed it.), lemon juice, and feta. Serve.

hot-teacher-bundle-coverBubbly were-lynx Tizzy Sands thought she knew the path of her life: teaching kindergartners, eventually marrying, and starting a family. But when cancer stole her dream of having children, she fell into a dark place where she believes her life would be too short and too empty to engage in a lifelong relationship. As a member of a were-lynx colony that faces constant danger from nefarious The Nexus Group, she focuses on helping the colony defeat them and tunes out any developing feelings for colony mate Quinn Arons.

With his genius IQ, Quinn isn’t the most socially skilled were-lynx in the colony, and can’t imagine party girl Tizzy could give him a place in her heart. Though his past of molestation as a boy and alcoholism as a young adult haunts him, he cares deeply for Tizzy and can’t accept her attitude that cancer will return and claim her life soon. Instead of persuading her she’s wrong, he patiently shows her life is what you make it.

When working as partners to prevent powerful TNG from launching its Project Powering and changing the world, Tizzy and Quinn begin to wonder whether their individual paths lead them together or send them apart.

Excerpt:

“I still have nightmares and want to douse them with alcohol. That’s when I turn to Lara and her healing touch. But times when I’m keenly aware I’m different, I’m back in my childhood when being different made me a target.”

His shoulders hunched over, he still stared at the table, his head in his hands, as he seemed to struggle with regaining his composure.

Tizzy let down her walls and felt the entire room, the whole house, vibrate with energy. It streamed through her, grounding her in the moment alone with Quinn and his pain.

Gently, she touched Quinn’s shoulder. “You’ve been through so much and still you’ve been so very successful at remaining true to yourself. I’m proud of you, Quinn.” She took his hand and pulled him to his feet, then tenderly cupped his face in her hands. “You bring so much good to the world. You’re beautiful.”

Love, the kind that can bear anything, powered through her. Slowly, she leaned up to his face and placed a soft kiss to his lips. She stood back, breathless, and sought his eyes.

Bright and clear, his eyes welcomed her in. Tizzy lifted her lips to his, and he pressed them to hers, hard and needy.

Her legs got weak, but she wanted more of him. Leaning against him for support, she ran her fingers through his hair and savored his presence, so strong yet vulnerable.

my-best-author-picLynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down.

Amazon http://a.co/8RIQpS9

http://lynn-crandall.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrandallAuthor/

https://twitter.com/lcrandallwriter @lcrandallwriter


I love healthy recipes, so thanks for sharing that one, Lynn! And the story is intriguing, as well. Although I’m not a fan of quinoa despite its healthy qualities. It may be the one time I tried it, it wasn’t cooked right. It seemed tough to chew to me, at least. Anyway, the sautéed veggies sound really yummy. Is there another healthy substitute for quinoa?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

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Tasty Tuesday: Crown Jewel Tart #dessert #recipe from #historical #romance #author Rachel Miles

Tasty Tuesday is here, bringing a delicious recipe for a tart that features both pineapple and cranberries. Rachel Miles is known for her scrumptious historical romances, and now you get to taste one of the fabulous treats highlighted in her novel, Tempting the Earl. Take it away, Rachel!


In Tempting the Earl, a long separated married couple must discover whether their relationship is worth saving, while they work together to identify a spy. Because it’s the holiday season, food plays an important role, both in teaching the couple about each other and in bringing them to their happily ever after.

When crafty Olivia Levesford, Lady Walgrave, discovers a way out of her marriage, her husband Harrison returns to his estate after an absence of six years. Though Olivia has been an able estate manager, if she is not his wife, then one of his first obligations will be to learn how to manage his properties.

Harrison’s first mistake seems like an innocuous one. He changes the menu for the week’s meals, eliminating something called a Crown Jewel Tart because it uses pineapple—a very expensive ingredient during the period.

But Olivia’s mad chef brooks no control, and Harrison must very humbly apologize or (Olivia threatens) risk having to cook all the meals himself.

Here’s a snippet from that scene:

   “Have I told you, dear ones, about the day I first wore a hat?” The chef—Gilbert Douglas Stanley III—waved his arms, a spatula in one hand. “It was unfortunately cold that day in Queen Catherine’s court when I was called upon to make my famous Crown Jewel Tart. I could only find a straw hat—because of course one must keep one’s head covered to avoid the cold that causes consumption. We knew it was the cold that killed the poor footman—God rest his soul—so untimely a death, it was.”

Harrison watched the chef with a sort of morbid awe. Stanley had wrapped a wool throw around his head, making him look like a mad peasant escaped from bedlam.

Harrison felt the heat of the kitchen, but the chef seemed unfazed, warming his hands in front of the oven door. When he saw Olivia, the man twisted, jumped, then pounced as if he were a giant predator waiting for a mouse.

“Mr. Stanley, I must apologize.” Olivia approached Stanley slowly, as one would a rabid dog or a lion in the wild. “I had no intention of altering your menu in the slightest. You are, as always, our impresario of taste.”

“Then how did it come to be changed?” One edge of the wool flopped in front of his left eye, but he didn’t move it, merely tilted his head to regard her with his right. He looked like a giant, ill-dressed, one-eyed owl.

“My friend wrote on the menu, because he was imagining how his own cook might prepare a menu close to yours. He made alterations because his cook is less skilled and his audience is less adventurous. But he didn’t realize the menu as he adapted it would be returned to you.”

“Is that true?” Stanley pointed at Harrison with one crooked finger.

“Lady Walgrave is far too generous.” Harrison held his hands out apologetically. “I might have hoped my cook could approximate your dishes, but the truth is no one who is not a master of the culinary arts could even hope to approach the originality of your design.”

For a moment Harrison feared he might have misstepped. The tall man, scowling, turned away from Harrison and Olivia in a slow circle, his arms outstretched above his head. But then when his back was fully toward them, he leapt to face them again, smiling madly. “Apology accepted! Now to make my famous Crown Jewel Tart!”

Running across the kitchen, the chef grabbed a bowl of flour from the arms of one of the kitchen maids and held it out of her reach. “No, no, no. My dear, you cannot simply throw the butter and the flour together. The marriage of the ingredients must be harmonious, or my famous Crown Jewel Tart cannot be delightful. No, my dears, we must compose it happily of happy ingredients!” He wagged a long finger at a maid who stifled her laughter behind her apron.

“Do we know that the chickens were happy when they laid these eggs, dear ones? And were Eliza and Beth happy when they churned the butter?”

“Yes.” The maids spoke in a giggly chorus.

“But what do we know of the mill? Was the grain crushed with the appropriate weight? Was the grinding of the grain evenly fine? No?” Stanley’s voice was melodic. “My dears, listen: For my famous Crown Jewel Tart, you must use only the flour that has been milled in the morning by a fresh horse, and one who has been fed an apple before he begins so that he starts his work with a sweet taste in his mouth.”

Harrison leaned into Olivia’s ear. “Is he mad?”

“Quite,” she whispered back.

The Recipe

The Crown Jewel Tart was created with period-appropriate ingredients for Tempting the Earl by my dear friend (and master chef) Paul Wackym of Wackym’s Kitchen.

Ingredients

¾ cup whole milk

1 cup coarse ground cornmeal

4 ounces unsalted butter

8 ounces (approx. 1 cup) dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/3 cup chopped black walnuts, toasted

12 ounces fresh fen berries (cranberries)

1 pineapple, cored, sliced about as thick as your thumb

4 ¾ ounces (approx. 1 cup) all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

5 ¾ ounces (approx. ¾ cup) sugar

3 whole eggs

½ cup rapeseed (canola) oil

Instructions

Boil (but do not scald) milk.

Stir in cornmeal.

Set aside for 30 minutes

 

In a 12” iron skillet, melt the butter.

Add dark brown sugar, salt, orange juice, and orange zest.

Simmer until the crystals melt.

Sprinkle with the walnuts, then top with the fenberries.

Place pineapple rings attractively atop the nuts and berries.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt

In a second bowl, whisk briskly the sugar and eggs, then add the oil

Add in mixture of cornmeal and milk

Slowly add dry ingredients until blended into a batter.

Warm oven to 350*

Pour the batter over the fruit in the skillet.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes in the skillet.

Set a platter on top of the skillet and carefully invert the cake. Serve.

ann-1-dsc_7961-copyRachael Miles writes witty, sexy romance novels set in the British Regency. Her latest book–Tempting the Earl–was named one of Amazon’s Editor’s Best Books for November 2016 as well as an RT Book Reviews Top Pick.

Miles’ debut series The Muses’ Salon (published with Kensington Zebra Shout) has been praised in Publisher’s Weekly, RT Book Reviews, and Booklist. “Impeccably researched and beautifully crafted,” Miles’ ‘cozily scrumptious historical’ novels have been compared to those of Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney.

A native Texan transplanted to upstate NY, Miles (a former professor of book history and nineteenth-century literature) lives in the woods with her indulgent husband, three rescued dogs, an ancient cat, and a herd of deer who love her vegetable garden.

For more information on Rachael or for links to buy her books, check out her website – rachaelmiles.com

rm-tempting-coverTempting the Earl

A double life…

Olivia Walgrave is finished with being a countess. Writing under a pen name, her controversial column for the scandal sheets provides her with some income and far more excitement than managing a country estate. Besides, in the three years since the wars have ended, her dashing husband hasn’t spent one night under their roof. So Olivia has prepared a plan, and an annulment. All she needs is his consent…

Lord Harrison Walgrave let his father coerce him into marriage—but his devotion is to his Parliamentary career—and his secret work for the Home Office. Yet now, with freedom in his grasp, he finds he cannot so easily release his wife. Seeing her stirs a hunger no other woman has reached. A distraction now, when he is a breath away from revealing a ring of traitors, could be deadly. Still, wherever his investigations lead, the thought of Olivia lingers. It might be obsession. It might be treason. But the only way to escape the temptation is to succumb…

ISBN-13: 978-1420140903


Wow to both the story and the tart! Both sound wonderful. Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your scrumptious recipe with us! Maybe a special holiday treat for some of you?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.