Sunday, March 31, 2013

"The House that Love Built"--Author Beth Wiseman's touching romance brings together a family made with hearts and hope

The House that Love Built


Brooke has only loved one man. Owen's heart is filled with bitterness. Can a mysterious house bring them together for a second chance at love?

In the small town of Smithville, Texas, Brooke Holloway is raising six-year-old Meghan and ten-year-old Spencer on her own two years after her husband's death. Being a single-mom and running the family's local hardware store keep her busy.

While Meghan longs for a daddy, Spencer has threatened to run away if Brooke even goes out on a date. But the last thing on Brooke's mind is falling in love. When a stranger moves to town and buys a house with a mysterious past, Brooke can't contain her curiosity. As she spends time with the new owner, she wonders if maybe God is giving her another chance at happiness.

Owen Saunders fled the big city to start over in a small, rural town famous for baking the world's largest gingerbread man. Then he bought an old house to restore-for all the wrong reasons. If anything needs restoration, it is Owen's heart in the aftermath of his failed marriage. With little hope and lost faith, Owen is tempted by happiness when he meets Brooke, but his heart remains sealed shut. As they learn more about Owen's house, one thing becomes obvious to both of them: God has put them together for a reason.


 
A house made of brick and mortar is not a home unless love lives there. A family may share genetics and blood history, or it could be a collection of misfits brought together through need, companionship, and love. In "The House that Love Built", author Beth Wiseman beautifully illustrates through words how the emotions and ideology of family and friendship eventually blur along the lines, and something wonderful and unique is born. Brooke Holloway has learned to keep moving forward, despite the devastating loss of her true love, her husband Travis. Dealing with his death, raising their two young children, and running her family's hardware business are what drives her days. She doesn't think that there will ever be another love in her life. Owen Saunders is a bitter man whose disastrous marriage and painful divorce have left him mistrustful and isolated from even thinking of another romantic relationship. He buys an old house to renovate in Smithville, TX--not because he really wants to live there--but to spite his ex-wife, Virginia, who has long dreamed of buying such a house. Owen and Brooke meet when he begins his many trips to the hardware store for supplies. She has long been curious about the Old Hadley Mansion, the house that Owen now owns, and she has an itch to see inside the place and find out if rumors of a hidden treasure are really true. Eventually Owen and Brooke form a friendship, and over time their relationship deepens into something more--but will past hurt and loss keep them from reaching for a bright and happy future? The Lord above truly does work in mysterious ways--his master plan has long been in place, and we come into it with his eyes upon us. Beth Wiseman is an author who writes with humor, poignancy, hope, and faith, and in "The House that Love Built", it is hearts and hope that bring together a one-of-a-kind family made with love. Recommended for those who realize that acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption are ours to be had when we allow love and abiding faith to light our way.

Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Publishers via Booksneeze

HAPPY EASTER





MAY YOU BE BLESSED WITH SPIRITUAL FULFILLMENT AND PEACE OF MIND.
HAPPY EASTER

 


Easter Recipes : )


BLUEBERRY-LEMON CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Cream cheese filling:
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon sugar
sugar-for sprinkling on muffins before baking

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line pan with muffin liners. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub sugar and zest together, until fragrant. Add to the flour mixture and whisk again. In a separate medium bowl, mix canola oil, egg, milk, and vanilla together. Incorporate the wet ingredients into flour mixture. Add slowly and do not over mix. The batter will be lumpy and thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, and sugar until smooth. Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Next, add about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese filling to each muffin cup. Cover each cup with remaining batter so you can't see the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle each muffin lightly with sugar. Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let muffins cool on a cooking rack.


ASPARAGUS-HAM QUICHE

2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen cut asparagus, thawed
1 pound fully cooked ham, chopped
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups buttermilk baking mix
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In two greased 9-in. pie plates, layer the asparagus, ham, cheese and onion. In a bowl, beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Divide mixture in half and pour over asparagus mixture in each pie plate. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  


APRICOT GLAZED CARROTS

 2 pounds carrots, sliced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Cook carrot and 1 teaspoon salt in boiling water to cover in a large saucepan 15 to 20 minutes or until tender; drain. Melt butter in saucepan; stir in apricot preserves until blended. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, orange rind, and orange juice. Add carrot, and toss to coat. Makes 6 servings.
 

GARLIC CHEDDAR BISCUITS 

"wonderful with sliced ham"

2 cups biscuit mix
1 tsp. California--style garlic salt (with parsley flakes)
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (regular shred works better than fine shred)
2/3 cup milk*
if desired, melted butter for biscuit tops
In large mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, garlic salt, paprika, and sugar. Stir in shredded cheese. Add milk, mixing well. *The cheese sometimes absorbs the milk, so you may need to add a little more milk to make a softer dough. On floured surface, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits and place with sides touching on baking sheet. Bake at 425 F for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. If desired, brush biscuit tops with melted butter before serving.


PINEAPPLE COCONUT CAKE

1 butter recipe yellow cake mix (2 layer size)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 small can coconut milk
1 small can crushed pineapple
 1 (8 oz) container nondairy whipped topping
sweetened shredded coconut for topping cake

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding in 1 cup coconut. Bake in a 13x9 inch pan per package directions. Allow cake to cool in pan until still warm. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes evenly in cake. Pour coconut milk evenly over cake and in holes. Spread crushed pineapple over top of cake. When cool, spread whipped topping evenly over cake and sprinkle with additional cake. Store in refrigerator. Allow cake to chill well for best flavor. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Gran's Mac & Cheese"--my most requested recipe..it's so good!



















Gran's Mac & Cheese
 
Comfort food from Gran herself : )

Boil 16oz elbow macaroni in large pan of salted water until slightly undercooked. Drain pasta quickly so that it will not continue to cook in hot water. Butter a 13in by 9in baking pan. Layer pasta with at least 16oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (sharper the better). Feel free to be very cheesy! Pour one pint of half-and-half or heavy cream over pasta and cheese. Add some whole milk if needed to bring liquid to top of pasta and cheese. Dot with slices of real butter and a very light sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper. Liberally top off with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let Mac & Cheese set in covered pan for 10 minutes before serving.

SOMETHING PERFECT--one small jar of jelly, made with love
























The best jelly that I have ever eaten was made with wild grapes. My grandmother was a marvelous cook, and she also knew the names and uses for so many flowers and plants. We used to go on walks, and she would point things out to me and explain what they were. One day we found a patch of wild grapes, small and reddish, and I asked her if she could make jelly. I didn't realize how many grapes it would take to make jars of jelly to line up on the pantry shelf. My wonderful Gran was able to take our small little treasure of grapes and make one perfect jar of jelly. One of the short, half-pint quilted-glass jars. I can still see it and remember the taste of that sweet jelly. When I held the jar up to the sunlight coming through the window, it glowed like a garnet gem.






Thursday, March 28, 2013

REVIEW: "The Things That Matter" by Nate Berkus--a baker's dozen of very different lives and lifestyles

The Things That Matter


Does your home tell the story of who you are?

In  The Things That Matter,  Nate Berkus shares intimate stories from his life, introduces us to people who influenced him and helped him forge his sense of style, and opens up about the remarkable experiences that have left him forever changed, all of which find expression in how he lives today. From his most cherished flea market finds, to his beloved books and photos, to the many extraordinary mementos he’s collected in his travels, every piece defines who he’s become and what endures in his world.

Berkus invites readers into his own home as well as into twelve others, including a sleek steel-and-glass high-rise that soars above Chicago, a rustic cottage in the Hudson Valley, an ultra-chic atelier that maximizes every inch of space, a Greenwich Village townhouse that holds multiple art collections, and a study in meaningful minimalism in Marfa, Texas. The distinctive interiors beautifully displayed in this book offer revealing portraits of their owners’ lives and the inspiring choices that have made them who they are today.
 
The Things That Matter convincingly lays out Nate Berkus’s philosophy that things do matter. Our homes tell our stories, they reflect the places we’ve been and the people we’ve loved along the way—and there can be no more beautiful design for living than that.



MY REVIEW:

"The Things That Matter" are important because they are pieces of our life, physical reminders of hopes, dreams, and memories. Author and design expert Nate Berkus offers a baker's dozen of very different lives and lifestyles, but the most fascinating story remains his own. Influenced at a young age by his interior designer mother and image-conscious entrepreneur father, Nate marched through his childhood to the beat of his own unique drum, and he continues to follow his own inner compass to this day. The book begins with Nate's own narrative, and I was drawn into his life experiences, which includes the tragic loss of his life partner, Fernando. Vacationing together in Sri Lanka in 2004 when the devastating tsunami struck, Nate watched in terror as his loved one was swept away in the dark, swirling water. Nate survived a horrible ordeal, and no trace of Fernando has ever been found. Eventually, Nate moved forward with his life, always carrying memories of loved ones, and favorite places and moments in time with him through the living space he created in his own private world. Having risen to national prominence through his work with Oprah Winfrey, and later with his own TV show, Nate has also written other design books. What I enjoyed most about "The Things That Matter" was the sense of embracing your own life, and letting that essential energy be the guiding force of the reality of your own living space. The heart of this book is the heart of the author himself, and he most appropriately includes a photo gallery of "people who matter" in his own life. When you read this book, you will be encouraged, as I was, to look at your own "things", wonder where you got some of them, and ask yourself why you have them. Other things will need no such reminder, for they are the things that matter.

Review Copy Gratis Library Thing

Review: "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen" by Frances and Edward Mayes

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen



 

“Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. We’ll start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon we’ll be carrying platters out the door. We’ll have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four double doors along the front of the house open to the outside—so handy for serving at a long table under the stars (or for cooling a scorched pan on the stone wall). Italian Philosophy 101: la casa aperta, the open house.”
—from the Introduction



 

In all of Frances Mayes’s bestselling memoirs about Tuscany, food plays a starring role. This cuisine transports, comforts, entices, and speaks to the friendly, genuine, and improvisational spirit of Tuscan life. Both cooking and eating in Tuscany are natural pleasures. In her first-ever cookbook, Frances and her husband, Ed, share recipes that they have enjoyed over the years as honorary Tuscans: dishes prepared in a simple, traditional kitchen using robust, honest ingredients.
           


A toast to the experiences they’ve had over two decades at Bramasole, their home in Cortona, Italy, this cookbook evokes days spent roaming the countryside for chestnuts, green almonds, blackberries, and porcini; dinner parties stretching into the wee hours,  and garden baskets tumbling over with bright red tomatoes.
            


Lose yourself in the transporting photography of the food, the people, and the place, as Frances’s lyrical introductions and headnotes put you by her side in the kitchen and raising a glass at the table. From Antipasti (starters) to Dolci (desserts), this cookbook is organized like a traditional Italian dinner.


           
The more than 150 tempting recipes include:


·         Fried Zucchini Flowers
·         Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar
·         Potato Ravioli with Zucchini, Speck, and Pecorino
·         Risotto Primavera
·         Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sausage
·         Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta
·         Little Veal Meatballs with Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes
·         Chicken Under a Brick
·         Short Ribs, Tuscan-Style
·         Domenica’s Rosemary Potatoes
·         Folded Fruit Tart with Mascarpone
·         Strawberry Semifreddo
·         Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce


 

Frances and Ed also share their tips on stocking your pantry, pairing wines with dishes, and choosing the best olive oil. Learn their time-tested methods for hand rolling pasta and techniques for coaxing the best out of seasonal ingredients with little effort.
            


Throw on another handful of pasta, pull up a chair, and languish in the rustic Italian way of life. 



MY REVIEW:


One of my favorite "mindcations" is "Under the Tuscan Sun". In my version, everything has the beautiful glow of Renaissance reds and golds. Even I am beautiful and glowing. Rustic, yet regal, my villa is filled with light, laughter, gorgeous food and great wine, good times and good people. Acclaimed writer Frances Mayes set the wheels of my mind in motion when I saw the film version of her book, "Under the Tuscan Sun", and then I added to my enjoyment of the film by reading her books and following her blog. Now Frances and her husband Edward Mayes, an accomplished poet, have given their readers a very special gift: "The Tuscan Sun: Recipes from our Italian Kitchen". Cooking and reading are two of my favorite pastimes. The more complicated your life, the more demands made on your time, the more you need to take the time to care for yourself. Food is not just a necessity for life, it is a pleasure for all of our senses. Cooking should be something that you enjoy, never just a chore. "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" celebrates the food and lifestyle of a region both simple and spectacular, a glorious combination of earth, sea, and sun. The well-stocked pantry, the bounty of the sea and the soil, basic, well-used pans and utensils, and timeless food preparation techniques are all highlighted here along with incredibly beautiful, vividly-hued photographs. My favorite photo in the book is the first one, which shows Frances and Ed in the kitchen of "Bramasole", their home in Cortona, Italy. Their love of each other, and the joy of their extraordinary life together clearly shines in the appealing, inviting image. Then there are the recipes, which are organized by course and expanded and illuminated by the involving stories and delicious images spread throughout the book. All of your senses will be engaged and satiated. Inhale the aromas, treat your eyes to the visual feast, and then savor the flavors of food, fabulous food such as: "When-in-Rome Artichokes"; "Fiorella's Red Pepper Tart"; "Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Three Cheeses"; "Angry Pasta"; "Minestrone: Big Soup"; "Risotto Primavera"; "Pizza with Caramelized Onion and Sausage"; "Chicken Under a Brick"; "Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Vinegar"; "Sea Bass in a Salt Crust"; "Peach Gelato"; "Folded Fruit Tart with Marscapone"; and "Fig and Walnut Tart". There are wine suggestions for many of the recipes, and a special chapter on wine and other libations closes the book. Frances and Ed Mayes will capture your culinary imagination and leave you longing for the golden warmth of the Tuscan sun.



Review Copy Gratis Clarkson Potter Publishers

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Superb American Civil War historical romance from author Jessica James: "Noble Cause: A Novel of Love and War"

   


My lifelong love of history and romance grew and came into bloom from my roots deep in my home state of Virginia. From one corner of the state to another, and points in-between, Virginia is a living history book. It's also breathtakingly beautiful. Many times, as I have looked at my mountains, I have wondered about the past lives of people who once stood gazing at the same glorious sight. I truly believe that the answers to our future lie in the questions from our past. It is very important to never forget the sacrifices made by those who have fought to preserve the American way of life. We must also remember that heroes and heroines are real people with imperfections and vulnerabilities. Their gallantry and honor often comes with a high price. The year 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. Not a cause for celebration, but one for reflection and remembrance. It is hard for many of us to imagine the scope of the Civil War. Americans fighting against each other on our home soil. Friends and family members so divided by the cause of "North versus South" that they battled with one another to the death. To this day, the American Civil War remains the conflict in which the most Americans lost their lives. The death toll? Over 600,000 lives were lost in the War Between the States.


Author Jessica James has written a superb historical romance, "Noble Cause: A Novel of Love and War". With an elegant, evocative style, and a history lover's eye for detail, Ms. James brings to vivid life one of the most devastating of American tragedies. The involving battles scenes and fascinating military strategies are well-blended with the human issues of the war. An impossible and undeniable love is found just as so much is lost forever. Confederate Colonel Alexander Hunter is legendary for his battlefield brilliance and his deeply felt love of his Virginia homeland. His almost supernatural ability to outthink, outmaneuver, and upstage the Union Army faces only one real challenge: a young Union scout, small in stature, with unequaled horsemanship and the wiles of a fox. Andrea Evans, in her guise as Andrew Sinclair, risks her life at every opportunity to forward the cause of the Union. She is a scout, a spy, and a young woman on the run from her past. Born a privileged daughter of the South, Andrea fled her home at a very young age to leave behind the cruelty of her father, a slave-owner not afraid to use his whip.


Time and time again, Alex and Andrea provoke and elude each other in a daring wartime dance.   When Andrea is finally captured, she is sent to a hell-hole Confederate prison camp where she suffers unspeakable torture and becomes gravely ill. When Alex learns Andrea's fate, which was against his direct orders, he rescues her and takes her to his Virginia home to recover. He gambles much by keeping the infamous Yankee spy under his own roof, but he is following the dictates of his heart. Andrea proves to be more than a match for Alex, and their sparring intellects and spirited verbal battles make for a stirring romance. For me, a true hero must have an inner core of compassion. Alex is a man of ideals, a revered leader who has learned to place the needs of his command above his own personal needs. Andrea is a strong and intelligent woman, never afraid to stand up for her own beliefs, and those are the characteristics which Alex finds hardest to resist! The more that these two sworn opponents clash, the more their attraction begins to grow. As they learn about each other, they also learn about the "shades of gray" that cloud both sides of the horrific War Between the States. The skillful storytelling of Jessica James will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. The outcome of the Civil War is unchangeable, but the romance between the gentleman colonel and his fearless lady is one that you will not want to end. Highly recommended!


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Thank you for visiting with us today, Jessica. Please tell us about yourself and how you came to write and publish "Noble Cause".

JJ: I’m from Gettysburg, Pa., so with all of that history surrounding me, you’d think I’ve always had an interest in the Civil War. As fate would have it, things didn’t happen that way. I didn’t catch the Civil War bug until I moved to Virginia in my 20s to accept a job as a veterinary technician at a horse hospital. While living there, I learned about the charismatic Confederate commander John Mosby who was the epitome of the Southern cavalier.  The more I read about Colonel Mosby, the more I wanted to know. I was soon traipsing all over northern Virginia, down dirt roads, and across the rolling fields to walk where he walked and see what he saw. Storylines started running through my head that involved a Mosby-like main character, and soon Colonel Alexander Hunter was officially born on the pages of Noble Cause. (A side note on walking in his footsteps: One of the more famous stories about Colonel Mosby concerns the night the Yankees surrounded the house he was sleeping in. Although they found his clothes, they never found him. He had climbed out of the window onto a limb of a huge walnut tree. The tree is still there—and so is the house. I drove by it many times, but that wasn’t enough. I sent a letter to the owner and was graciously invited inside for a tour. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of walking through that house and standing in that bedroom). As I was writing Noble Cause, and its predecessor Shades of Gray, one of the main goals I had in mind was to get readers as interested and excited about history as I had become. I wanted them to feel the pain and experience the emotions of living during that turbulent time. Although we’ve all been taught that the Civil War caused brothers to fight against brothers, I don’t think the enormity of that really hits home until you can relate or connect to people (or characters) in that situation.  I get many emails from readers who tell me that Noble Cause made them cry (and laugh) or kept them up all night reading even though they had no prior interest in the Civil War. That’s a great gauge for me to know that they connected with the characters.


In all of your research so far about the Civil War, is there one fact which stands out the most? 

JJ: The first thing that comes to mind is the number of deaths—upwards of 623,000—which is more than other American wars combined. Considering how small our population was at that time makes that number even more sobering. Another thing that draws me to this era, and why I write romance set in this time period, is the relationship between men and women. When they said “til death do us part” they really meant it. It’s evident in letters, in diary accounts, and even tombstone epitaphs. This “everlasting love” was a deep, sincere, poignant love that is somewhat difficult to grasp today.  Going hand in hand with that is the strong reliance that people had on faith and honor. Honor is a huge theme in Noble Cause because it played such a huge role in the war. Most people probably don’t know that at the beginning of the war, prisoners were paroled “on their honor” to put down their weapons and promise not to take up arms again until they were officially exchanged for another prisoner. Another interesting example of the strong principles that were present during the Civil War is that when the American flag was hit during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Confederates rowed a boat to the fort and gave the Federal soldiers a new flag.


I know that you put together a very poignant and beautiful collection of Civil War love letters. Is there one that touched your heart more deeply than the rest?

JJ: That’s a really tough question because they are all so touching—in different ways. The one from Sullivan Ballou, made famous by Ken Burn’s Civil War, is touching because it is so eloquently written, and because he dies within a week of sending it. His words are also special because he ties his love for his wife with his love for country—a theme that was often repeated by men who were away from their loved ones. Here’s a short example for those who have never read it: “Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.” I am also touched by the ones from General George Pickett of Pickett's Charge fame, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, because they are thought of as such tough warriors. Yet, when you read their sweet words to their wives, you realize what soft hearts they had. Many books have been written about these historical figures and their accomplishments, but the personal side is often neglected. One of the reasons I put the booklet together was to make sure readers understand the "other side" of the war. It's easy to forget that these were real people, with families, relationships, hopes, dreams, and problems. Though they lived in a time that required exceptional courage, faith and valor, they were in the end, human.


Image of Jessica James
"Life in the Past Lane" blog
http://www.jessicajamesblog.com/

Award-winning historical fiction author Jessica James resides in Gettysburg, Pa., where she enjoys writing and reading about the American Civil War. Her Civil War novel Noble Cause is the winner of the 2011 John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction and the Next Generation Indie Award for Regional Fiction.
It was also Finalist in the Romance and Historical Fiction categories. Most recently, Noble Cause was announced as a bronze winner in Forword Magazine's BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD contest in the Romance category. Originally published as Shades of Gray, Noble Cause provides readers with a new, happily-ever-after ending to the classic romantic tale. Shades of Gray was the winner of numerous national awards and has hit #1 on the Amazon best-seller list in its category. James is featured in the book "50 Writers You Should Be Reading," published in 2010.
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Both the "North and South" are known for producing delicious varieties of apples. In the spirit of peace and unity, and appreciation of apple goodness, here are some recipes for your enjoyment!


Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup light vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups peeled and chopped tart apples (like Granny Smith)
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans Combine oil and sugar together in a bowl; beat in eggs. Sift all dry ingredients together and then add to egg mixture. Fold in vanilla and apples. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 325°F for 45 minutes or until done; set aside to cool. For the frosting, combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl using mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar; beat until smooth and then add vanilla. Frost the cooled cake and then sprinkle pecans over top.


Roast Chicken with Apples and Onions

1 Whole chicken
3-4 Apples (mix tart and sweet for best flavor)
2 Yellow onions
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop onions and apples into one-inch chunks. Toss together with lemon juice, half of the melted butter, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Rinse chicken thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Rub the remaining butter into the skin. Stuff as much of the apple mixture into the chicken as possible. Cover and set aside any remaining apple mixture. Place in a roasting pan breast up and put in oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. Take chicken out. Baste and add remaining apple/onion mixture to the pan. Roast for up to another 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees. Test for doneness. Let chicken stand for about 10 minutes at room temperature before carving.


Apple Dumplings with Brandy Sauce


Apple Dumplings: 2 cups all-purpose flour ; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1/2 cup (one stick) chilled butter; 2/3 cup sour cream; 6 medium tart cooking apples, cored, peeled; 1/3 cup sugar; 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg; 1/3 cup chopped pecans; 2 tablespoons butter, softened

Brandy Sauce:  1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar; 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream; 3 tablespoons butter; 2 tablespoons brandy

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl; cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in sour cream with fork until mixture forms a ball. Roll dough into 19x12-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Cut 1-inch strip off 19-inch end; reserve. Cut remaining dough into 6 (6-inch) squares. Place apple in center of each square. Combine sugar, nutmeg, pecans and 2 tablespoons butter in small bowl. Fill center of apple with 1 1/2 tablespoons mixture. Fold dough up around apple; seal seams well. Place onto greased 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan, seam-side down. Brush dough with milk; prick dough with fork. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until apples are fork tender. If crust browns too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. Combine all sauce ingredients in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil (3 to 4 minutes). Allow sauce to cool several minutes. Serve sauce over warm dumplings.


Apple-Cranberry Sausage Stuffing


16 ounces seasoned stuffing mix, cubed kind; 6 tablespoons butter, divided; 1 lb sage sausage; 4 cups chopped tart apples, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; 1/2 teaspoon salt; 3 cups chicken broth; 2 teaspoons dried parsley; 1 cup chopped celery; 1 large yellow onion, chopped; 2 eggs, beaten; 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Preheat oven to 425 and butter a 3 qt baking dish. Place stuffing in large bowl; reserve. In large nonstick skillet, melt 2 T. butter over medium high heat. Crumble in sausage; cook, stirring, until well-browned. Stir sausage with drippings into stuffing. In same skillet, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add apples, onion, celery, and salt; cook stirring occasionally, until softened. Add broth and parsley; bring to a boil. Pour over stuffing; stir until moistened. Stir in cranberries and eggs. Spoon into baking dish; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Melt remaining butter, uncover stuffing; drizzle with butter. Bake until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CONTEMPORARY ROMANTIC FICTION--Author KANDY SHEPHERD's unique style will touch your heart and make you smile : )

 



In Kandy Shepherd’s “Love is a Four-Legged Word” , Tom O’Brien is an orderly man with a five-year plan to keep his life on the right track. His stellar work as an attorney at a prestigious law firm has him in line for a partnership and a coveted corner office. However, Tom is seemingly unaware that into every perfectly aligned life plan, chaos and spontaneity must enter. The delightful disorder in Tom’s life comes in the form of a little mixed-breed dog named Brutus, who is the heir to a fortune. Along with Brutus comes his undeniably appealing guardian, Maddy Cartwright. Brutus’ late owner, Walter Stoddard, had lived a very modest life, and his closest friends, including Maddy, had no idea that he was a multi-millionaire. Tom’s law firm is handling Walter’s estate, and Tom is responsible for maintaining the terms of Walter’s last will and testament. When Tom informs Maddy that she has inherited both Brutus and a vast fortune, she is stunned. Tom is even more stunned by his immediate strong attraction to the charming, red-haired Maddy. A professional chef as irresistible as the delicious desserts she creates, Maddy is unprepared for the changes in her life. Most of all, she never expected Walter’s lawyer to be a gorgeous, chocolate-eyed hunk whose deep dimples war with his stern exterior. Before Tom and Maddy can find their own personal pot of gold, they are besieged by mischief, meddlers, mystery, and the paparazzi!





The sexiest weakness in a man is his vulnerability to that one special woman. No matter how big, gruff, rough, and tough a man may be, love makes him reachable. The bigger they are…the harder they fall. The most invincible Alpha male may offer his heart like a gift to the woman he loves, and then he will wait for the look on her face to make sure she is pleased with the gift. In one who is usually without self-doubt, that moment of uncertainty is very appealing. I love a man who loves dogs and is kind to animals, and Nick Whalen, the sexy P.I. in Kandy Shepherd’s “Home is Where the Bark Is” , certainly fits that description. When he goes undercover to investigate a fraud scheme, he never dreams that he will fall head-over-heels for his prime suspect. When he meets Serena Oakley, the owner and operator of “Paws-A-While”, a trendy doggy day-care center, he is thrown for a loop! She seems sweet and sincere, and Nick definitely finds her sexy! Serena is immediately drawn to Nick, but somehow he just doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to own a prissy little toy dog like the one he brings to her pet place. Suspicion, sweet sensuality, and secrets aplenty are combined with mysterious mayhem, great charm and humor for a very satisfying romantic read!


Kandy Shepherd writes wonderful romances that are as sweet as they are sensual. Her writing gives you that same warm feeling inside that you get when you watch Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at their romantic comedy best in “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail”. It’s a feeling that doesn’t come along every day, and that makes it even more special. If you love being in love, have a very special affection for your pets and other animals, and you appreciate great food, then you will adore these books! As soon as you read “Love is a Four-Legged Word”, you will immediately want to read the sequel, “Home is Where the Bark Is”. Both of these books are on my keeper shelf, destined to be reread!


Image of Kandy Shepherd
http://kandyshepherd.com/


Kandy Shepherd is the award-winning author of contemporary romances published by Berkley Sensation, an imprint of Penguin New York, as well as the e-book romances THE CASTAWAY BRIDE (an Amazon best-seller) and SOMETHING ABOUT JOE, and the contemporary women's fiction title, REINVENTING ROSE. Kandy swapped a fast-paced career as a magazine editor for a life writing fun, feel-good fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of animal friends that include a dog, cats, horses and two miniature bulls. Kandy believes in love-at-first-sight and real-life romance--they worked for her!
Kandy's new release, REINVENTING ROSE, was inspired by her years in women's magazines, in particular the reader makeovers she enjoyed so much. Dumped, duped and divorced, 28-year-old Californian schoolteacher Rose Butler finds herself stranded in Sydney, Australia and decides she needs a "me makeover". Lucky for Rose, she makes three new friends who draw her into their circle of friendship and support and help her reinvent herself. She finds a new life--and a new man--but what happens when her old life beckons? REINVENTING ROSE is about love, friendship and the magic of a makeover.
SOMETHING ABOUT JOE is a heartwarming love story. The hero is hot, smart, great with kids, and he can cook--what's not to love about Joe Martin? But stressed-out executive and single mom, Allison Bradley, fights it all the way when she finds herself falling in love with her little boy's new nanny. Joe is one of Kandy's favorite heroes--he actually came to her in a dream!


Do you enjoy contemporary romantic fiction? I spend a lot of my reading time in historical romance land, but I love to head back to the future with a captivating contemporary. There is just something special about a well-written, sparkling and funny modern-day romance that makes me feel like kicking up my heels! What about you? Who writes the best contemporary romances, and what are their top titles? Here’s some more food for thought: Delicious recipes inspired by Kandy Shepherd’s delightful romantic reads!


“Private Eye” Special Lasagna

2 (28 oz) cans tomatoes
2 (5 1-2 oz) cans tomato paste
2 cups water
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 lb very lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb sweet Italian sausage
1 lb lasagna noodles
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large pot and simmer 15 minutes. Saute’ ground beef and garlic in a little oil. Add to tomato sauce. Cover and let simmer 3 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. Brown sausage and slice in rounds. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook noodles until al dente. Combine ricotta, egg and parsley in a bowl. Spread 1/3 of sauce on the bottom of a lightly buttered 12in by 9in baking dish. Arrange alternately layers of noodles, ricotta, sausage, sauce and Parmesan, ending with Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.


“BLT” Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing

Dressing:
1 large avocados, peeled & mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
few drops hot pepper sauce

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Store covered in refrigerator.

Salad:
4 cups lettuce, shredded
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
12 ounces bacon, cooked & crumbled
1/c cup shredded Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese
croutons

Place lettuce in salad bowl or platter. Top with tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and cheese. Spoon dressing evenly over salad. Top with croutons.


“Ought To Be A Law” Barrister’s Brownies

1 Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1 Cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts
1/2 bag white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Allow to cool. Add sugar and cocoa and blend well. Add vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking powder, salt, instant coffee granules, and cinnamon. Stir until just blended. Lightly stir in the 1/2 bag white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Spread the batter evenly in a greased and lightly floured 13x9x2in baking pan. Top batter with remaining white chocolate chips and chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Do not over bake. Brownies pull away from the edges of the pan when done. Allow to cool in pan before cutting. Store in tightly covered container.


“Sweet & Spicy” Cupcakes With Caramel Frosting

3 eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups shredded zucchini

FROSTING:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to egg mixture and mix well. Stir in zucchini. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. For frosting, combine the brown sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes. Yield: 1-1/2 to 2 dozen.


“Tail Waggin’ Good” Dog Treats

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup margarine
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 teaspoons instant beef or chicken bouillon granules
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. brewer’s yeast (try health food store)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine rolled oats, margarine, and boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Thoroughly stir in cornmeal, sugar, bouillon, milk, Cheddar cheese, and egg. Mix in flour, 1 cup at a time, until a stiff dough has formed. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface, mixing in additional flour as necessary until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll or pat out dough to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with cookie cutter (bone shaped is good), and place 1 inch apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Cool before serving. Store in a loosely covered container.

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE--made the old-timey way in Gran's cast iron skillet : )


 


My Gran made wonderful Pineapple Upside-Down Cake in her big old black cast iron skillet. She melted the butter in the skillet, added the brown sugar, pineapple rings with the maraschino cherries in the middle, and chopped pecans. Then she added the batter to the skillet and baked it until it was golden brown. My Gran was a small woman, but she could flip that heavy skillet over onto the cake platter and come out with a beautiful cake every time! I wanted something really good today, a treat from me to me, and I decided to make a cake. A very buttery, fragrant cake, rich with pineapple, brown sugar, cherries, and nuts:



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a deep 12-in cast iron skillet add two sticks real butter and allow skillet to heat in oven just until butter is melted. Remove skillet from oven. Drain one large can pineapple slices, reserving juice. Add one cup brown sugar to butter in skillet, sprinkling sugar evenly over butter. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer over brown sugar. Fill center of each pineapple slice with a maraschino cherry, adding more cherries between the slices. Top evenly with one cup chopped pecans. Allow pan to set on top of stove and prepare cake mixture. Using one two-layer size butter-recipe cake mix, prepare per package directions, substituting reserved pineapple juice for water in recipe. Pour batter evenly over mixture in skillet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and done slightly firm to touch (until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean). Remove skillet from oven and allow cake to cook in pan at least 30 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Place serving platter over cake, and carefully invert skillet and platter. Allow cake to rest 10 to 15 minutes and remove skillet. Serve warm and topped with whipped cream. Can be served cold.

Author Kendra Elliot writes intelligent, capable, attractive heroines who bring back the original appeal that I first found as a young reader of romantic suspense.



Kendra Elliot grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her husband, three daughters, two cats, and a Pomeranian. She left the dental world after sixteen years to write full time in 2012. Her first two books, HIDDEN and CHILLED, spent months on Kindle's top 100 paid best seller list. HIDDEN was on Kindle's 2012 overall top 100 bestseller list. Two more Bone Secrets novels will be released in 2013. She's always been fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and loves a strong Mai Tai on the beach on Kauai. Visit Kendra at kendraelliot.com.




Buried (A Bone Secrets Novel)




Author Kendra Elliot's "Bone Secrets" series gets better and better with each new book. "Buried" is Book Three, and it blends together elements from the first book with all-new twists and turns for a super suspense-thriller that you won't be able to put down. Investigative reporter Michael Brody is a hard-driving journalist who digs as deep as he needs to in order to unearth the truth. The one resolution to a story which has escaped his grasp is also the most personal. Two decades ago, his own brother, Daniel, along with other children aboard a school bus seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. Only one of the children, Chris Jacobs, had been found alive. Emaciated, near-skeletal, and with no memory, he appeared out of nowhere and was quickly returned to his family. As soon as he graduated from high school, he once again disappeared--this time on his own terms. Twenty years after the bus and the children were lost, an unexpected discovery on a long-time unused dairy farm uncovers the burial site for the children and the bus driver. Only one child's remains are missing--those of Michael's brother, Daniel. Determined to solve the mystery of his brother's whereabouts, Michael seeks out Chris Jacobs through Chris's sister, Jamie, an elementary school principal. Reluctant to aide Michael at first, a violent attack from an unknown intruder in her own home convinces her that the only way to protect Chris is to help Michael. The attraction between Michael and Jamie grows deeper as they come closer to uncovering and exposing an insidious evil--an evil just as deadly as it was decades ago. Will the two of them together be strong enough to destroy the hellish, twisted mind who tortured and killed innocent ones so long ago? Riveting romantic suspense from talented author Kendra Elliot--be sure to also read Book One: "Hidden", and Book Two: "Chilled". Recommended for lovers of thrilling suspense with a just right balance of romance!

Review Copy Gratis Author


Chilled (A Bone Secrets Novel)


Author Kendra Elliot writes intelligent, capable, attractive heroines who bring back the original appeal that I first found as a young reader of romantic suspense. As I have matured as a reader, so has my taste in reading material evolved. Romantic suspense continues to reinvent itself. As far as "dark or light" goes, it all depends on the story line and the personality that the author builds within each character. Thanks to talented and imaginative authors, like Kendra Elliot, romantic suspense continues to cross boundaries and merge storytelling elements in an increasingly delightful feast for fiction lovers! In "Chilled", Book 2 in the "Bone Secrets" series, Brynn Nealey is a forensic nurse, a highly dedicated professional in a field which in real life includes care to victims of crime, such as sexual and other types of assaults, as well as collecting evidence, performing certain types of death investigations, and working with prison inmates. Assigned to assist a critical rescue team heading to the site of a downed US Marshal Service plane, Brynn is trained to collect vital material in matters relating to the law. Former US Marshal Alex Kinton maneuvers his way onto the team with an agenda of his own. Aboard that plane is the man whom Alex has sworn to eliminate, the man who murdered his brother. When Alex's prey turns out to be the only survivor, a new game begins, and the rescue team finds themselves facing not just the killer cold, but the brutal mind of a murderer. Underneath Brynn's professional demeanor lies great warmth and compassion, and her inner sweetness begins to thaw Alex's hard-edged determination. Brynn is not immune to Alex's appeal, and soon the heat between them blazes to life, but is it enough to overcome the odds against them? Another great all-night page-turner from Kendra Elliot! I am looking forward to more works featuring fantastic females from this talented author.

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine




Hidden (A Bone Secrets Novel)




Kendra Elliot's debut work, "Hidden: A Bone Secrets Novel", is an intriguing romantic suspense with plenty of cold hard facts and sparks-fly, steamy sensuality. The perfect combination for lovers of this genre, told by a new voice. Lacey Campbell is a forensic odontologist, a highly experienced, specially trained dentist who uses her expertise to help identify unknown remains and trace bite marks to a specific individual. Forensic odontologists, or forensic dentists, are typically called in to identify human remains that cannot be identified using fingerprints or other means, and also to estimate the age of skeletal remains. They may be called to work on a case by police officers, the medical examiner, or the coroner. When Lacey is called to an unusual crime scene to examine skeletal remains, she is distraught to discover that the bones are all that is left of her college friend Suzanne. More than a decade has passed since Suzanne was kidnapped by the infamous Co-Ed Slayer. Her fate had remained unknown until now, when her carefully placed remains were sure to be found. The property where Suzanne's skeleton was found is owned by former policeman Jack Harper, who left the force after a tragic incident where he was injured. Intelligent Lacey and instinctive Jack are a high-octane combination, complementing and completing each other in unexpected ways. There are those who wish to come between Jack and Lacey, including her unpleasant ex-husband, Frank, and also a former boyfriend, Michael, neither of whom are fond of Jack's increasing importance in Lacey's life. When new murders begin to occur, suspicion is cast in all directions. The Co-Ed Slayer died in prison, so who is playing this macabre game? "Hidden: A Bone Secrets Novel", is a perfect Summer suspense read, and it is also just the thing for a reading "all-nighter". I look forward to more "sensational secrets" in upcoming works by Kendra Elliot.

Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Author Lynne Marshall--an involving, wonderfully descriptive storyteller whose personal warmth shines through

 
Image of Lynne Marshall
Lynne Marshall is a Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and Wild Rose Press, multipublished author of contemporary romantic fiction, and Medical Romance. She believes it's never too late to fall in love, and enjoys writing not only about young romance, but more mature romance as well. Lynne heartily believes in Life, Love, and the Pursuit...
A late bloomer, Lynne came to fiction writing after her children were nearly grown. Now she battles the empty nest by writing stories that always include a romance, sometimes medicine, a dose of mirth, or both, but always stories from her heart. She is a Southern California native, is happily married for a "long time", she is a dog lover, a cat admirer, a daily walker, and an avid reader. Lynne is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America. http://lynnemarshall.com/

I hope that you will enjoy my reviews of some favorite stories by a very special storyteller, Lynne Marshall.
Lynne Marshall's "Mid-Coast Medical Trilogy" is thoughtfully written, and it offers vivid characterizations and wonderfully detailed story lines. Each entry in the series features a romance between two coworkers from the Santa Barbara Mid-Coast Medical Group. The medical offices are housed in a beautiful, cream-colored Victorian mansion converted into a modern, high-efficiency clinic with a welcoming, homey atmosphere. Each member of the medical group has a certain specialty, and they work together to offer optimal medical care for their patients. If only those dreamy doctors made house calls! Lynne Marshall is an involving and descriptive storyteller, and her background as an RN is evident in her extremely knowledgeable handling of the medical dialogue and patient situations. Her personal warmth shines through as she makes each character come alive and pulls you right into their thoughts and experiences. These three romances are definitely "heart with heat", and they are as touching as they are sensual. 

The Boss and Nurse Albright

The Heart Doctor and the Baby

The Christmas Baby Bump


In Lynne Marshall's "The Boss and Nurse Albright", the first book in her "Mid-Coast Medical Trilogy", we meet two dedicated medical professionals who both need a healing touch in their lives. Dr. Jason Rogers is the stern and steely family practice GP of the Mid-Coast Medical Group. Suffering from the tragic loss of his wife and daughter, Jason prefers to avoid emotional involvements and keeps others at a distance. When Registered Nurse Practitioner Claire Albright joins the medical group, her sincere smile and her holistic approach to treating patients both begin to stir unwanted feelings in Jason. Claire also has a young daughter, Gina, whose presence serves as a painful reminder to Jason of the absence of his own sweet child. At first, Jason wants nothing to do with Claire's alternative medical treatments, but he soon comes to respect her knowledge and professionalism. He feels guilt over his attraction to Claire, and struggles with the sense that he is betraying his late wife. Claire has her own inner conflicts, and has no intention of becoming involved with the taciturn Dr. Rogers. When Claire became chronically ill with Lupus, her former husband could not handle a wife who was not always at her best. He made her feel less than desirable, and their marriage came to a painful end. She is afraid that another romantic relationship will suffer the same fate, but she is greatly attracted to Jason. Lynne Marshall's experience as a Registered Nurse lends an interesting authenticity to the medical story line, and her heartwarming characterizations make this a very touching and satisfying romance read. Seeing Jason come to terms with his loss and come alive again, and watching Claire overcome her self-doubts and bloom again as a woman makes you root for these two lovers to find their very happy ending.

"The Heart Doctor and the Baby" by Lynne Marshall introduces us to Rene Munro, a successful obstetrician, who at age thirty-five is single and longing to become a mother. She sees her colleague, Jon Becker, a top-notch cardiologist, as the perfect candidate to father her baby. While working together as members of the Mid-Coast Medical Group, Rene and Jon had formed a friendly, respectful professional relationship that had not included a romantic involvement. Jon had been greatly hurt when his wife of many years had surprised him with a divorce, and he had immersed himself in his work while remaining close to his two teenaged daughters. Earlier in her life, Rene had been deeply in love with someone whom she thought would marry her and give her the family she so wanted. Instead, he left her broken-hearted and alone, and Rene had focused on her career of helping others bring their children into this world. When Rene asks Jon to father her child, he is stunned, and his whole world is turned upside down. After much discussion and thought, Jon agrees with Rene's plan, and they form a contract. However, hidden longings and unexpected desire soon come into the picture, and a practical arrangement becomes an emotional roller coaster. Have two competent, intelligent and reasonable people made a mistake with unforeseen, lasting emotional consequences? Lynne Marshall's medical expertise and skill as a storyteller draw us into the dilemma of two hearts who thought they knew exactly what they wanted, but are shaken to find that they need much more.

Phil Hansen, the acknowledged playboy of the Mid-Coast Medical Group, finally meets his match in
 "The Christmas Baby Bump".  A former surfing star who became an esteemed pulmonary specialist, Phil is a gorgeous golden boy. Seemingly carefree and permanently unattached, he enjoys a successful career, the attentions of beautiful women, and an enviable lifestyle in a magnificent home. After he meets his new colleague, Stephanie Bennett, he starts to look at his own life with new eyes. Taking care of his much younger half-brother while his father and stepmother are vacationing proves to be another eye-opener for Phil. He recruits all the help he can get, including a surprisingly reluctant Stephanie. Phil is used to short-term, leave on good terms, romantic flings, but he shocks himself by wanting more from Stephanie. She is keeping a painful secret, and while she enjoys her relationship with Phil, she knows that she is there for a brief while to fill in for a colleague on maternity leave. In her mind, she can become lovers with Phil, and then leave their relationship behind when the time comes. An unexpected pregnancy changes both of their lives, and Phil is determined to have Stephanie and their child in his life. Will former world-class player Phil win this emotional war and become the family man he suddenly longs to be? Lynne Marshall brings her "Mid-Coast Medical Trilogy" to a resoundingly romantic conclusion as Phil and Stephanie find a happiness neither had ever imagined.


Too Close for Comfort


It's exciting for me as a reader to immediately become so involved in a book that I keep saying to myself: "This would be a great movie!". "Too Close for Comfort", from author Lynne Marshall, kept that reel playing in my head, and I read the book all in one sitting. Lynne is one of my favorite authors. I was hooked on her warm, funny, and touching storytelling from the very first book. Her characters are very real and vividly drawn, and she gives them compelling story lines that are true to life, yet full of unexpected twists and turns. Her romances are sensually sweet, and she writes characters of varying ages--yeah! "Too Close for Comfort" is a rollicking reunion romance that also offers action, suspense, and poignant family drama. Joy Waltham's marriage of over twenty years ended as her health food business began to take off. She and her husband, Paul Donovan, had grown apart as their children grew up, and each of their careers had become more demanding. The final straw for Joy was Paul's agreement that their son, Michael, could enter the service at a very young age. After the divorce, Joy continued to develop her health food business where they had made their home in Los Angeles. Paul eventually retired from the LAPD and moved back to his hometown of Comfort, Maine, where he became the chief of police. Paul had invested in Joy's company, and when she is ready to expand the business she needs his signature on an agreement to let her buy him out of the company. This means coming face to face with him again--something she had not done since the divorce. Once they meet again, the sparks that fly are incendiary! Complicating matters are Joy's accidental discovery of clues to a series of drug-related deaths in the small community, and she involves herself in Paul's investigation of the crimes. He has his hands full trying to protect Joy and solve the case, so he decides to keep Joy very close and under surveillance. While Joy and Paul are rediscovering each other, their daughter, Edie, is running the health food business. Ever since the divorce, and Michael's enlistment, the pressures of the business world and family worries have caused Joy to have anxiety attacks. Spending time with Paul away from her life in LA proves to be freeing and reinvigorating for Joy, and she finds herself letting go of anxieties and grabbing on to new life experiences. Paul knows that he wants Joy back in his life, and he also feels reborn, but can they overcome the issues which drove them apart in the first place? When a family tragedy threatens their happiness, can they pull together and blend a longtime love with new understanding and appreciation? "Too Close for Comfort" features lead characters in their forties who are vibrant, conflicted, funny, sexually vital, and full of life. All Right! Highly recommended.

Review Copy Gratis Author


One For The Road


"One for the Road" by Lynne Marshall, is a delightful, involving, entertaining, sexy romance featuring a hero and heroine who are both in their forties. Hallelujah! I am a great fan of Lynne Marshall. Her love stories are infused with emotional warmth and sensual heat, intelligence, humor, and story lines which make you want to reach for her next book. In "One for the Road", we meet D'Anne Palmer, a lady who found herself a widow shortly after she and her husband had made a major lifestyle change and purchased a luxury forty-foot motor coach. They were to live life on the road, going where they wanted, when they wanted. Her husband's sudden death left D'Anne far from home, on her own, and facing some hard decisions. She decides to rent out the motor home and include her services as driver. To her surprise, a handsome country singer and his band take up her offer in order to make their concert dates. Tyler White was formerly a successful entertainer, until life and some bad decisions got in the way. Now he's on the way to a comeback, and he needs D'Anne and her home on wheels to help make his dream come true. D'Anne is somewhat conservative, a few years older than Tyler, and a recent widow. He finds her attractive from the very beginning, and she knows a hunk of a man when she sees one. Her marriage had been without passion for many years, but she had loved her husband since she was only nineteen years old. Her two grown sons are opposites, one easy to love and the other one a much more difficult personality. One of the things that D'Anne is carrying along with her is the urn with her husband's ashes. She knows that she and her sons will have to find the right place to release those ashes and have a private memorial for her husband. Life on the road proves to be an eye-opener for D'Anne, but she is a gutsy lady with great spirit who comes to really enjoy traveling with the band. Of course, she hadn't expected her feelings for Tyler to be returned with such passion and tenderness. He has natural cowboy charm, true talent as a singer and songwriter, and he is a warm, attentive lover. As the road trip unfolds, a mystery comes to light regarding D'Anne's late husband, who apparently was not the man she thought she married. She must resolve her husband's financial issues, find closure for herself and her sons, and decide what to do with the rest of her life. Will that life include her handsome cowboy? I really loved this story! At times, it made me laugh out loud, and it gave me some food for thought. Would I be as brave as D'Anne when faced with the same situation? Lynne Marshall has once again written a terrific tale with a great heroine, a hunky hero who is masculine and tender, and a story line that takes you to unexpected places. This is one road trip that you wish would go on a long, long time. See you on the road!

Author Laura Frantz--compelling historical romance--inspirational and unforgettable!



Laura Frantz, a lifelong lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting
Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady. Her latest release, Love's Reckoning, is Book One of her enthralling new inspirational historical romance series, The Ballantyne Legacy. Laura describes
herself as a Christ-follower, history lover, wife, mom, and author. She first felt called to write at the young age of seven, and she has been writing ever since. Her first love is 18th-century fiction, especially colonial history. Laura currently lives in the misty woods of Washington State with her husband and two sons. Visit Laura at www.laurafrantz.net  or http://laurafrantz.net/journal/ .


Love's Reckoning (The Ballantyne Legacy, #1)


A book from exceptional author Laura Frantz is always a very special gift to readers. Her first three books were already treasured reads, each with a permanent place on my keeper shelf. Her latest work, "Love's Reckoning", is equally treasured, and now sits proudly beside "The Frontiersman's Daughter", "Courting Morrow Little", and "The Colonel's Daughter". LOVE'S RECKONING is Book One in the "Ballantyne Legacy Series", and in vividly touching detail, it tells the love story of Silas Ballantyne and Eden Lee. In the year of 1784, Silas Ballantyne has traveled far from his native Scotland, where his family was tragically lost. Seeking a new life in America, his craftsman's skill in blacksmithing earns him his keep, and he hopes to gain status as a master blacksmith. With only a short time left to complete his apprenticeship, Silas accepts a position in York County, Pennsylvania with master blacksmith Liege Lee. Unbeknownst to Silas, the Lee household is beset with lies and troubles. Prone to dark moods made worse by his drinking, Liege is a hard taskmaster both in his home and in his forge. He sees Silas not only as a boon to his business, but also as a future son-in-law for one of his two daughters. Elspeth, the oldest, is a calculating blonde beauty with a clever mind and a cold heart. Strong-willed and attention-seeking, Elspeth has borne a child out of wedlock, a secret the Lee family jealously guards. Liege and Elspeth's mother let the world believe that the baby, Jon, is their own child. Lovely and sweet, with a cascade ofred-hued curls, younger daughter Eden is gentle and nurturing by nature. Bearing her father's tirades, her mother's bouts of sadness, and the cruel resentment of her own sister, what Eden desires most of all is the freedom to live her faith, to attend church, and to read the Bible. Her father was displaced from the Quaker order for his inappropriate behavior. Never a true man of faith, he no longer observes religious customs. Bravely seeking out her own new life, Eden awaits word on whether she will be accepted for employment in a Philadelphia foundling home. When Silas Ballantyne comes to work for her father, Eden's life is forever changed. His quiet strength, kindness, intelligence, and his devout faith make him unlike any other man Eden has met. Elspeth sets her cap for the handsome Scot, and Eden loses her heart to him, but Silas has no desire to marry. His one goal has always been to become a master blacksmith and head West. However, a certain tender-hearted girl with titian hair invades his thoughts, and soon his own heart longs for more than a life of ceaseless hard work. When Silas learns of Eden's thirst for The Word, he leaves her notes of Scripture, and eventually, when they are able to steal moments away in a dimly-lit stairwell, he reads the Bible to her, both in his Scots-burred English, and in his native Gaelic. These precious moments are so beautifully written that I could hear his low burred tone as he gently introduced her to the written word of the Lord, and I could feel her tremulous emotions as she thrilled to the promise the words held. Eden and Silas endure much, including a long separation, before love's reckoning has its way. Once they face each other again, much has changed. Will the pledge of enduring love given so long ago reunite two yearning hearts? Will the promise of abiding faith be fulfilled? The writing of Laura Frantz is exquisitely-detailed, beautifully-etched, and rich in history. The story lines are deeply-drawn and the characters are fully-fleshed. Perhaps the most compelling skill of this awesome author is her ability to capture and present the immediacy of her characters, allowing us to anticipate their emotions and participate in their thoughts. Highly recommended--not just for lovers of inspirational historical romance, but for anyone who seeks out extraordinary storytelling.
Review Copy Gratis Revell Books



COMING IN SEPTEMBER 2013: LOVE'S AWAKENING--Book 2 The Ballantyne Legacy Series

Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love, loyalty, and the makings of a legacy. With rich descriptions of the people who settled and civilized a wild landscape, Frantz weaves a tapestry of characters and places that stick with the reader long after they turn the last page.

The Colonel's Lady


I appreciate fine craftsmanship, and never more so than in the creation and presentation of the books that I read. The name Laura Frantz on the cover of a book guarantees exquisite wordsmithing, rich historical detail, and the subtly shaded story art of a gifted author. In THE COLONEL'S LADY, Ms. Frantz again opens wide the American Colonial Frontier, reminding us of the exciting and turbulent world of 1700's America. Colonel Cassius McLinn is the commander of a sparingly outfitted, rugged Kentucky military post. In the aftermath of a traumatic battlefield incident, McLinn thinks that he has mortally wounded his own scrivener, the man who served as his secretary and transcriber. The dying man exacts a promise from McLinn, asking him to look after his daughter, Roxanna. Overwhelmed with guilt and grief, Cassius readily agrees. Upon his return to the fort, he is taken aback to discover that Roxanna has come to the fort toreunite with her father. Not only must Colonel McLinn inform Roxanna of her father's death, he must also decide how best to handle her care and provide for her future. How long can he keep his terrible secret? Roxanna proves to be a delightful surprise, capable and uncomplaining, and soon Cassius has Roxanna taking her father's place as his scrivener. Two cautious hearts must find their way through the unsettled wildness of an awakening land, ever aware of danger from enemies both obvious and hidden. The sweet, stirring love between the colonel and his lady is complex, but also tender and luminous. The strong suspense and mystery elements of the story line only serve to enhance the touching romance between this leader of men and the woman to whom he surrenders his heart. Not to be missed!
Review Copy Gratis Revell Books


Courting Morrow Little


Laura Frantz is my favorite "artist with words". Her unsurpassed wordsmithery excels in the three levels of her storytelling: the vivid historical detail, the characterizations and the love story, and the true acceptance of deep and abiding faith. COURTING MORROW LITTLE is set in the raw, wild beauty of 18th century Kentucky, and it does not shy away from depicting the shades of good and evil to be found in all human beings. Morrow Little and her family live in the Kentucky frontier, and her childhood becomes a nightmare when attacking Shawnee kill her mother and sister and steal away her brother. Morrow and her father survive, and her father, who is a man of God, later accepts friendship with an Native Chief and his son. Morrow struggles with her deeply felt fear and grief, and later she is sent to live with an aunt in Philadelphia. Returning home to Kentucky at age eighteen, she finds her father in failing health. The young Shawnee boy who visited her home with his own father has become a man. Red Shirt is now a scout, handsome and compelling, and his intelligence and masculinity are most appealing. When Morrow's father passes away, she must face reality and choose the path of her future. But what about her heart's longing? Can she free herself from the grip of fear and prejudice and go forward toward true happiness? In "Courting Morrow Little", Laura Frantz humanizes history, showing the virtues and failings of all sides of the conflicts between the British, the Settlers, and the Shawnee. History is made by humans, none of whom are perfect, but some of whom are larger than life and ever-fascinating. I believe that the answers to our future are to be found in the questions from our past. This is not just an involving tale of American frontier history, it is also an exquisitely written love story, one that grows deeper and richer as the tale unfolds. Characters and story lines from the author's first book, "The Frontiersman's Daughter" are a welcome touch. Highly recommended.


The Frontiersman's Daughter


In her soaring debut, THE FRONTIERSMAN'S DAUGHTER, Laura Frantz sets a high standard for others to follow. With enviable skill as a story teller, Ms. Frantz draws us into the tumultuous, inspiring life of Lael Click. We are privileged to follow Lael from age thirteen to age twenty-one. A span of just eight years, but an eventful and amazing time in the rawness of Colonial America. Lael is the daughter of a legendary frontiersman, who parents her with love and influences her thoughts and actions throughout her life. At times Lael cannot understand her father's ways, and it takes the maturity of years and her own life experiences for her love for her father to come full circle. Lael cannot fully adapt to "civilized life", for she loves to wander her Kentucky woods barefoot and free of heart. Taught the skill of herbal medicine by her wise old great aunt, Lael becomes sought after as a medicine woman. For her safety, her father sends Lael to Virginia to a well-respected ladies school where she remains for five years. Lael's father dies in a tragic accident, and her mother remarries and leaves their homeplace, taking along Lael's younger brother. Lael returns to Kentucky and begins her life alone at her family home. Two men had loved Lael all of her life. The russet-haired, larger than life Simon was a neighbor and successful land owner. Enigmatic Captain Jack was raised by the Shawnee and lived among them as a chief. Both men had a place in Lael's heart. It is the arrival of a handsome Scottish doctor which forever changes the course of Lael's life. Ian Justus is a man of great healing ability and also of great faith. He wants Lael in his life as his helpmate in his medical practice, combining her folk medicine with his traditional methods as a physician. He also wants Lael's love, but she does not easily accept and understand his deep, abiding faith. Lael and Ian overcome many obstacles on their way to forming a lasting bond of great love, hope and belief. An impressive debut which makes the reader long for next release by this talented new author.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

INSPIRING ROMANTIC SUSPENSE FROM AUTHOR KRISTEN HEITZMANN--thrilling and touching reads


The Breath of Dawn by Kristen Heitzmann

THE BREATH OF DAWN  by Kristen Heitzmann

"The Breath of Dawn", from author Kristen Heitzmann, is a compelling romantic suspense read which also reaffirms and inspires our faith in the power of love. This is the third book in the "A Rush of Wings" series, and it ties in story lines and characters from Book One: "A Rush of Wings", and Book Two: "The Still of Night". Morgan Spencer is a corporate whiz who specializes in fixing broken businesses. His confidence and motivation are shattered first by the loss of his eldest daughter, Kelsey, to illness, and then, later, the loss of his wife, Jill, in a car crash. Left alone to raise his baby daughter, Livie, he doubts that he can give her the care she needs. Leaving his business life in Santa Barbara behind, he seeks shelter at the Rocky Mountain ranch home of his brother Rick and Rick's own family. After two years have passed, he must make decisions about the future, not just for his own peace of mind, but for the sake of little Livie. When someone unexpected enters his life, and Fate seems determined to throw them together, Morgan begins to feel emotions he thought had died with his wife. Meeting Quinn Reilly stirs his sensibilities, but Quinn is a woman with a troubled past, and she has armored her heart. However, spending time with Morgan and Livie soon begins to melt her determination to remain safely detached. Four years ago, Quinn's testimony had sent an evil man to prison, but now he's free, and he's coming after Quinn. Business-minded Morgan offers a logical solution: he proposes marriage-really more a merger--which will offer Quinn a safety net and keep her near to Livie. But will their hearts be safe? Will the arrangement become a real relationship, and will it be strong enough to stand the turbulent times to come? A very enjoyable series for lovers of romantic suspense with inspiring elements.

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books  


The Still of Night

THE STILL OF NIGHT  by Kristen Heitzmann

Though he is professionally successful, the one life Morgan Spencer can't seem to set straight is his own. Behind his charming rebel facade is a need that drives him toward perfection--and emptiness. Morgan has been haunted for years by the tragic decision his first love made when they were still in high school, but everything changes for him when Jill Runyun reenters his life. And the news she shares will either set him free or bring him to his knees.

With her trademark dramatic storytelling, bestselling author Kristen Heitzmann portrays an enthralling journey of two wounded souls who are a led to a place of healing and restoration.


 A Rush of Wings

A RUSH OF WINGS  by Kristin Heitzmann

Running from terrors both recent and remembered, Noelle flees her New York mansion for the Rocky Mountains, seeking a place to hide from the men who betrayed her. Her sanctuary is a horse ranch, where she discovers solace in the breathtaking scenery she paints. But as the attentions of two brothers slowly soften the wall she hides behind, the past she yearns to escape becomes a menacing threat she cannot deny. Will Noelle find courage to give her broken heart to the One whose perfect love casts out all fear? Kristen Heitzmann skillfully creates a story resonating with emotion and a poignant spiritual journey. 


Kristen Heitzmann Author Photo

Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of two historical series as well as ten contemporary romantic and psychological suspense novels, including The Still of Night, nominated for the Colorado Book Award; The Tender Vine, a Christy Award finalist; and the Christy Award-winning Secrets. She lives in the Colorado Rocky Mountain foothills with her husband Jim and sundry family members and pets.