Monday, December 30, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR--Ready for 2014? I am looking back and moving forward--great recipes to get started


image via ”The Stock Solution”   

Wow--where did this year go? It's been quite a year for me, lots of ups and downs, discoveries, and both loss and new finds all rolled into the year 2013. I am ready to leave it behind and reach out and embrace 2014, except for the wonderful experience of getting to know the people in my book world, being entertained and enchanted by new writers and books, and being once again spellbound by favorite authors at the top of their game! It is wealth without measure--and I feel very, very fortunate. However, none of that would matter without the four corners of my world--Faith, Family, Friends & Felines  >^,,^< 

We are starting a new year, but I am feeling nostalgic. I'm in a retro frame of mind. Sometimes going back for a "blast from the past'' is just what you need to refresh your spirit! Classic, simple recipes that you haven't tasted in a while are mighty tasty with a few little tweaks and updates. I always look at recipes two ways: the way they are written, and the way in which I will adapt them to my cooking style. If you are on a restricted diet or you just prefer lighter fare, experiment with substituting "lite" ingredients in the recipes that you are eager to prepare. Keep in mind that replacing ingredients like granulated sugar, butter and dairy products will not only affect the taste and look of the food, but also the texture of the finished dish. Using convenience foods is a blessing for busy cooks, but be a label reader and watch for high salt and fat content. When using prepared sauces and pre-seasoned ingredients, taste the food before automatically adding extra salt, pepper, spices and condiments. Let what's already in the food work for you so that you don't have to work so hard! Large bags of frozen fruits and vegetables are wonderful ingredients to keep on hand. Measure out what you need, and keep the rest ready for the next recipe. I especially love the tricolor peppers and onions blend, the stir-fry vegetable blend, and the broccoli--cauliflower--carrot combo. Frozen fruit like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a mixed fruit blend are a real treat for pies, cobblers, breakfast recipes, smoothies and so much more! Another favorite ingredient that I keep on hand at all times is canned tomatoes. The diced tomatoes and sliced stewed tomatoes are my favorites. Canned tomatoes come plain, with green chilies, with Italian or Mexican seasoning, and in a variety of forms and can sizes. Colorful, delicious, and so convenient!

Simple Layered Salad

"It's a beauty--serve it in a clear glass bowl for best effect!"

1 pkg (16oz) prewashed mixed salad greens
1 large tomato, medium diced
1 large red onion, rough chopped
1 pkg (3 oz) precooked real bacon pieces
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed in a colander, do not rinse
1/2 small jar (or more as needed) extra-thick creamy (Ranch, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, etc) refrigerated salad dressing (found in produce section)
1 (8 oz) pkg shredded Cheddar cheese

In order given, layer ingredients in a large, deep, clear glass serving container. Cover top of container with plastic wrap, sealing well. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop.

Golden Potato Casserole

1 pkg hash brown patties (27 oz) thawed and crumbled up
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes
1 stick butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except cereal and butter. Stir mixture just until blended, and then spread in greased 9 X 13 baking pan. Mix crushed cereal together with melted butter and spread evenly over top of casserole. Bake @ 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cookie N Cream Rice Crispy Treats 

4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Cups mini marshmallows
8 Cups rice crispy cereal
8 oz bag mini chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

1/2 Cup chocolate chips, melted

Place butter and marshmallows into a large microwaveable bowl. Microwave for a few minutes until marshmallows puff up nice and large. Remove and stir in cereal and crushed cookies. Pour into a large 9x13 inch baking dish. With the back of a large spoon that's sprayed with cooking spray press and smooth treats. Drizzle melted chocolate over top and let cool. Cut into squares.

Bunny's Best Carrots

3 cups sliced carrots
1/4 cup cooked crumbled bacon
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper

In 2 quart saucepan place carrots; add enough water to cover. Bring to a full boil. Cook over medium heat until carrots are crisp tender, about 8 to 12 minutes. Drain; return to pan. Add remaining ingredients. Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Mama's Saucy Meatloaf

2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup cream of tomato soup (from 10 oz can)
1 envelope (about 1 ounce) dry onion soup and recipe mix
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp pan drippings from cooked meat loaf
remaining canned cream of tomato soup
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar

Thoroughly mix the ground chuck, 1/2 cup tomato soup, onion soup mix, bread crumbs and egg in a large bowl. Place the mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and firmly shape into an 8 x 4-inch loaf. Bake at 350°F. for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the meatloaf is cooked through. Let the meatloaf stand for 10 minutes before removing to serving platter and slicing.
Sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons pan drippings, remaining tomato soup, water, mustard, and brown sugar in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Pour sauce evenly over sliced meatloaf on platter.

Bacon--Wrapped Shrimp 

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined & rinsed, about 45
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
15 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thirds

Sprinkle shrimp with garlic powder and a little salt. Wrap each shrimp in a piece of bacon. Arrange on a broiler rack. Broil bacon wrapped shrimp, turning occasionally, 3 to 4 inches from heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until bacon is crisp and browned. Serve with cocktail picks. For dipping sauce: seafood cocktail sauce, BBQ sauce, or ranch dressing.

Now and Again Biscuits

5 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 pkg of yeast
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup oil

Add yeast to warm water and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix dry ingredients and add liquid ingredients to mixture. Mix well. At this point you can cover and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks and use as desired. To make biscuits: Do not knead dough. Roll on a floured surface, cut out biscuits, and place with sides touching in a lightly greased pan. Allow pan to warm on top of preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes until biscuits start to rise. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown, at 375 degrees.

"Oh, Fudge" Bundt Cake  

1 Dark Chocolate Cake mix (2 layer size)
1 small box instant chocolate pudding

4 Eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. carton sour cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and instant pudding. Add eggs, water, oil, and vanilla extract and mix well. Fold in sour cream and blend well. Do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts just until combined. Pour batter into greased and floured tube pan or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, or until cake tests done. When cake is almost cool, lightly sift cake with powdered sugar.

"After-Dinner" Coffee(serves 4)

3 cups hot, strong coffee
1/2 cup cream or half and half, room temperature or slightly warmed
3 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup coffee liqueur
whipped topping
ground nutmeg

Combine coffee, cream, sugar, and liqueur and divide evenly among 4 heated cups or glasses. Top with whipped topping and sprinkle lightly with ground nutmeg.

Since one year has ended, and a new one has just begun, I am eager to hear all about the great books you have read and are planning to read. What was your favorite book from 2013? What is your most anticipated read for 2014? Will this be the year that you really spread your reading wings and travel into some new, unexplored worlds of words? Also, is there an older book that you are wanting to read, but are unable to locate? Share your best book sources :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS BICYCLE--my true story of gift of a lifetime


I didn't have a sister, but I had Mom. I think that at times, Mom lived her childhood all over again through me. I had a pink training bike for my first bicycle. Mom taught me to ride. I vividly remember that day! She ran along beside me as I rode back and forth until she was sure that I was okay on my own. Mom loved to ride bikes (horses too). She was very artistic and theatrical, and she studied tap, ballet, music, and art. She was also double-jointed and somewhat accident-prone, but I will save those stories for another day. I outgrew "Little Pinkie", and I soon set my eyes on a full-sized, royal blue beauty from our local hardware store. "The Western Flyer"--complete with front basket, double back basket, headlight, and horn! When I came downstairs on Christmas morning and saw "Big Blue" in the living room, you can bet my squeals woke everybody up! I was a chubby kid, but I was always tall for my age, and I had long, strong legs. Nobody out rode me and "Big Blue"--nobody! I have lived in Virginia all but two years of my life. We lived in Nevada at the time that I started the first grade, and that is where Mom taught me to ride "Little Pinkie". We moved back to Virginia, and I got "Big Blue", and then we lived in Florida the year that I was in the fifth grade. Riding our bikes together was one of the few real compatible and happy times between Mom and me. Florida is where we reached the zenith of our riding. We would ride together for hours, late at night, under the street lights of our very nice, quite neighborhood. Looking back, it was remarkable that no one ever commented on our nightly bike antics. Mom and I not only rode our bikes, we performed on them! Yes, we virtually danced with our bikes. Amazing! So much fun, so much energy--nothing else ever compared to that time. I still have "Big Blue", and she still looks good. I haven't ridden her in a very long time, but she's waiting....and remembering.

Monday, December 23, 2013

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT THE HOLIDAY SEASON--can't really touch it or see it...but it's there!

What I love most about the holidays is that very special lightness of heart, a feeling that dreams will come true, and the child-like awe of the real magic of Christmas. It's not something that you can touch...but it definitely touches you! I still believe in the Christmas Story. I still leave cookies and milk for Santa. I still love Christmas music, and I still sing Christmas songs...loudly, badly, and with great gusto! I also love the smell of the holidays...greenery, bayberry, peppermint, hot chocolate, fresh frosty air, gingerbread and cookies!

My grandfather loved the holidays more than all the rest of my family put together. He came from a close-knit, loving family unit. They didn't have a lot of money, but they had a lot of heart, and he had a happy childhood. He was a Christmas Tree Expert Extraordinaire! He also loved all the foods of the holidays, and every year he would ask me to make Spritz Cookies. I can't tell you how many of those little butter cookies we ate, but they were as much fun to make as they were to eat!


2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated white or brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring

food coloring
colored decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine flour and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla (or other flavoring), and if desired, food coloring. Gradually add flour/salt while mixer is running on low speed. Pack dough into a cookie press following manufacturer's instructions (or put into a pastry bag fitted with a large star shaped tip). Press mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Top with sprinkles or colored sugar. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, depending upon cookie size.


My grandmother, "the greatest cook ever," used to make delicious snow ice cream. Fresh clean snow (yes, it was cleaner in the "good olde days"), whole milk or cream, sugar, and vanilla. For some reason, I crave ice cream in the Winter--maybe because of Gran's "Snow Cream." One of my mother's favorite holiday treats from her childhood was "boiled custard" (which you must not allow to boil). A rich, cooked drink similar to eggnog, boiled custard is actually a custard which is thin enough to drink from a cup. My grandmother used to make it and pour it into glass jars which she would set down outside in the snow to cool. Mom and her brother and sister would drink it outside straight from the jar and then get "switched" by Gran for stealing the family treat!

Fresh Snow Ice Cream

1 small pkg. regular (not instant) vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sugar
1/2 milk
1 pint cream
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 to 2 gallons fresh, clean snow

In an extra-large, heavy mixing bowl, combine pudding mix and sugar. Stir in milk and blend until dry ingredients are dissolved. Blend in cream, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Cover and chill until ready to serve ice cream. To make ice cream: Stir mixture well and add in enough snow to make desired consistency. Do not over-stir. Serve immediately.

Rich Boiled Custard

1 pint whole milk
1 pint cream
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Into the lower pot of a double boiler, bring water to a medium boil. In the upper pot, add milk and cream. Heat through over medium heat. Beat eggs together until light. Add sugar and mix well. Pour a small portion of hot milk mixture into the eggs and sugar to warm and thin this portion. Pour slowly into hot milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until it will coat a spoon. Do not over cook or mixture will become too thick. Stir in vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

I wish you all the very happiest of holiday seasons! I’d love to hear your favorite holiday traditions and funny stories! I absolutely adore Christmas music, even if some of it does make me cry!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


The Way We Ate: 100 Chefs Celebrate a Century at the American Table
Take a trip back in time through the rich culinary tradition of the last American century with more than 100 of the nation’s top chefs and food personalities.

The Way We Ate captures the twentieth century through the food we’ve shared and prepared. Noah Fecks and Paul Wagtouicz (creators of the hugely popular blog The Way We Ate) are your guides to a dazzling display of culinary impressionism: For each year from 1901 to 2000, they invite a well-known chef or food connoisseur to translate the essence or idea of a historical event into a beautifully realized dish or cocktail. The result is an eclectic array of modern takes and memorable classics, featuring original recipes conjured by culinary notables, including:

Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pépin, Marc Forgione, José Andrés, Ruth Reichl, Marcus Samuelsson, Michael White, Andrew Carmellini, Anita Lo, Gael Greene, Michael Lomonaco, Melissa Clark, Justin Warner, Michael Laiskonis, Sara Jenkins, Shanna Pacifico, Jeremiah Tower, and Ashley Christensen

An innovative work of history and a cookbook like no other, The Way We Ate is the story of a nation’s cravings—and how they continue to influence the way we cook, eat, and talk about food today.
Callie's Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen
Carrie Morey started her company, Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, with a simple goal: She wanted to make her mother Callie’s delicious biscuits—unbelievably tender, buttery creations—accessible across the country. Carrie’s handmade biscuits combine unique, brilliant flavors—sharp cheddar with fresh chives, cracked black pepper with cream cheese and green onions, and cinnamon biscuits so buttery they melt in your mouth. The biscuits are an iconic Southern staple, but they are just the beginning.

Now Carrie Morey shares her modern approach to traditional Southern cooking in more than one hundred recipes that pair classic Lowcountry fare with surprising twists, for incredible results. Carrie guides you through the foundational techniques of Southern cooking to reveal how she developed her new takes on favorite heritage dishes and how to take the fuss and huge time investment out of traditional preparations. She shares skillet recipes passed down through generations, including Lemon Zest Cast-Iron Fried Shrimp, Macaroni Pie, and Cast-Iron Herb Lamb Chops. She gives roasting and slow-cooking techniques for Beef Stew with Herbed Sour Cream, Spicy Black-Eyed Pea Salad, and Roasted Pimento Cheese Chicken. Her DILLicious Cucumber Sandwiches, BBQ Chicken Salad Biscuits, Fiery Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs, and Summer Crab Salad will make any picnic or casual get-together a true Southern affair. And her desserts are to die for: Mama’s Sour Cream Banana Pudding, Alex’s Chocolate Chess Pie (so good that Carrie credits the pie for sparking her and her husband’s whirlwind romance), and Blueberry and Peach Cobbler finish your meal on the perfect sweet note.

Carrie also shares her family stories behind each recipe—growing up in Charleston, learning to cook from great Southern matriarchs, and founding and growing her business. Fill your kitchen with the comforting aroma of home-cooked goodness with Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions.
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

Starting from Scratch
Why is someone who just defended her doctoral dissertation still wasting her time at her childhood home, two months after her mother’s funeral, making coq au vin and osso buco? Olivia Tschetter, the youngest of four high-achieving South Dakotan siblings, is not returning to “normal”—or to graduate school— quickly enough to suit her family. She wants only to bury herself in her mother’s kitchen, finding solace in their shared passion for cooking.

Threatened with grief counseling, Olivia accepts a temporary position at the local Meals on Wheels, where she stumbles upon some unfinished business from her mother’s past—and a dark family secret. Startling announcements from two siblings also challenge the family’s status quo. The last thing she needs is a deepening romantic interest in a close but platonic (she thought) friend.

But while Olivia’s mother is gone, her memory and spirit continue to engage Olivia, who finds herself daring to speak when she would never have spoken before. Told with humor and compassion, Starting from Scratch explores the shifting of family dynamics in the wake of shattering loss and the healing power of cooking.
Big Appetite: My Southern-Fried Search for the Meaning of Life

HOLIDAY "TAIL-WAGGING TALES"--from my house to yours!


There has never been a time in my life when I have been without the companionship of devoted, furry, four-legged friends. For someone like me, a solitary person, there is no equal to the comfort, acceptance, and love provided by my precious pets. I shouldn't even call them pets--they really are my friends and family. During our lifetime together, Mom and I and took in many rescue animals. First it was the dogs, and then the cats came. However, when I was growing up, my family owned a number of Boston Terriers, also known as "BTs". They are really wonderful little dogs, and the ones we had the longest were two sisters. I was nine when we got them, and they stayed with us until I was about twenty years old. My grandmother had a fondness for English Bulldogs, which were the dogs of her childhood, but my grandfather was not quite so fond of the breed. They compromised with the BTs, and we had many wonderful years shared with little black and white "mushed-face" dogs. The two sisters were real characters, and they had opposite personalities. One was slightly aggressive, and the other was more meek in personality. They were very close, although they sometimes bickered just like human sisters.

We always wrapped presents for them under the tree, and they loved to rip up the paper and find their rawhide chews and other goodies. They had a couple of other holiday habits which took us a while to discover. We kept finding broken Christmas ornaments under the tree. These were the delicate, old-fashioned glass kind, and at first we thought they were falling off the tree and breaking on their own. Then we discovered the real cause of the destruction: the BT sisters were grabbing the little glass balls from the lower limbs of the tree and crunching them! They didn't seem to be swallowing the pieces, they just enjoyed the snap, crackle, pop of the crunching glass. We had to put all non-glass ornaments on the limbs within their reach, and they would sit and look at the tree like they were expecting something! Those dogs were also nog-nippers. Anyone who sat a glass of eggnog within their reach would notice eggnog missing from their glass. When we caught the BTs with eggnog mustaches, we knew who to blame!

One of the most offbeat Christmas gifts that I have ever received was a Betta Fish. This present came after my home had become a cat refuge, and it came from people who had known me for a long, long time. People who knew I had a houseful of cats and still gave me a fish as a present. A beautiful fish, beautifully presented in bowl with greenery, but still a swimmy, swishy, swirly fish whose movements caught the eyes of the cats. I tried moving the fish bowl different places in the house, but I knew it was a lost cause from the first time I looked at Mr. Fish. My mother begged me not to go back to work after the holiday and leave her alone with the cats and the fish. I packed Mr. Fish up as best I could so he would be secure for his return car trip to the home of the clueless gift givers. I apologized to him all the way to their house, reassuring him that it was nothing personal and that it was in his best interest to be returned to the givers. They were not pleased that I returned the fish--even years later they would bring it up in conversation. My Southern manners would not allow me to say what I really wanted to say, but inside I was dying to let it out!

Mom loved yard sales, and I was her chauffeur. At one particular yard sale I didn't buy anything, but I gained one of the greatest treasures of my life. The lady holding the sale had found an adorable little black dog which she couldn’t keep, and she said she would have to find him a home or take him to the animal shelter. He was so bright-eyed, cute, and friendly, and he followed me all over her yard. I already had other dogs, but several days later, I went back and got him. He was a little mixed mini-dachshund, and I named him “Max”. He lived to be almost 20 years old. He was the light of my life. He never thought small–he thought he was a Rottweiler! As a matter of fact, one of his many, many nicknames was “Baby Rottweiler” : ) He had a “radar ear” which seemed to rotate in many directions. He communicated his feelings with that ear! He was always lively, but in his later years, he had a little trouble getting around. He had arthritis and other problems, but he was still "Mad Max". One holiday season, I ordered Mom a Whiskey Cake from Downey's Restaurant in Philadelphia. We had seen the cakes on a home-shopping program on TV, and I knew Mom would enjoy the treat. The first time we sampled the cake, we both agreed that it was delicious, and worth the extravagance. As soon as we unwrapped the cake, and tasted it, Max showed a keen interest in what we were eating. He gave us a piercing stare with the radar ear at a sharp angle. I spooned up a little cake with some of the whiskey syrup (just a tiny amount), and Max loved it! He almost ate the spoon, and then he gave his whiskers a good cleaning. Mom and I had a good laugh, and the next thing we knew, we heard snoring! It was Max, in a blissful whiskey-cake induced sleep. The three of us shared that cake, making the most of it for as long as we could. Marvelous, magical, mischievous Max--I miss you so!

My Mom and I had a tradition of loading up our dogs in the car one night each holiday season to go see the Christmas lights throughout the area. Mom and I would sing holiday songs at the top of our voices, and the dogs were a captive audience. We always ended the evening with a trip to the ice cream store! Mom got eggnog ice cream; I got peppermint candy cane ice cream, and the dogs got vanilla! By the way, occasionally our singing did set the dogs off, and then there was howling and singing!

I certainly could not write about animals and the holidays without telling the story of my cats and the ham dance. My very dear friend Jan, who comments here sometimes, is "The Greatest Ham Cooker Ever". She is so very kind and generous and cooks me a ham and brings me wonderful homemade treats for Christmas. The first time she brought the ham, the cats and I were ecstatic--you would be overjoyed too if someone brought you a superbly cooked ham with pineapple and cherries, and it was still warm from the oven!!! As soon as she left, just barely out of sight, the cats and I started the ham dance. We were on the front porch, in the dark, acting like famished fools about to fall upon that holiday ham, and we were unaware that my mother's best friend had quietly come through the front gate and was watching us. Mom had been gone for a while, but her friend still came by on occasion. Mom would have felt the joy of the ham and joined us in the ham dance. Her friend did not share our sense of humor and our closeness with our pets. When I turned around, and she was right behind me, I almost jumped off the porch! She was looking at me very strangely, and she asked me if I was okay. After just a slight pause, I responded: "Never better!", and I offered her some ham. The ham dance is a much-loved annual tradition between Jan and me and the cats. I make her my Garlic Cheddar Biscuits for her own ham, and we are all well-satisfied...and well-stuffed. The ham dance...don't knock it until you've tried it.

Do you have favorite and funny animal stories from the holidays to share? What are some really strange gifts that you've received? I come from a fruitcake-loving family. Fruitcake--do you, or don't you? What is your all-time favorite holiday treat?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

FASCINATING FICTION FROM SIMON & SCHUSTER--terrific titles from awesome authors!

Not Without You
Sophie knows she should count herself lucky. She grew up in modest surroundings but suddenly finds herself catapulted into the A-list after the surprise hit of a budget movie. But surrounded by botoxed assistants, lecherous old directors and a star-struck mother, Sophie just wishes she could be a proper actress, in proper, serious films. And at the tender age of thirty, she already worries she’s past her ‘prime’.

As Sophie’s career begins to decline – slowly and painfully at first, and then all at once – her fate seems to be entwined with that of her favourite actress, Eve Noel. The epitome of 50s Hollywood glamour, Eve suddenly disappeared from the spotlight. No-one knows why. As Sophie receives threatening letters, it seems that the dark secrets in Eve’s past are beginning to haunt Sophie, too . . . With a new film about Shakespeare burying Sophie deep in the English countryside, suddenly Eve herself is close at hand.
Happily Ever After: A Novel
In this witty, sexy tale, an erotic novelist meets the fictional hero of her most recent book in real life, and must decide whether she wants to get him back between the pages--or between her sheets.

At forty-six, Sadie Fuller's life isn't exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.

Then, during a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar...too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactly like the one in her imagination--and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking...places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all.
The Runaway Wife
From the internationally bestselling author of Lessons in Laughing Out Loud comes a moving and heartwarming novel about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and flees with her young daughter in search of a kind stranger she met many years earlier.

Remembering the letter that says, “You are a remarkable woman and you deserve all the happiness, contentment, and love in the world. I, for one, know that I have never met anyone quite like you,” Rose Pritchard turns up on the doorstep of a B&B in England’s lake district. It is her last resort, as she and her seven-year-old daughter Maddie have left everything behind. They have come to the village of Millthwaite in search of the person who once offered Rose hope.

Almost immediately Rose wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake—if she’s chasing a dream—but she knows in her heart that she cannot go back. She’s been given a second chance—at life, and love—but will she have the courage to take it?

Blending wit, insight, and emotion with a sensitive touch and a warm dose of humor, Rowan Coleman has crafted a poignant novel that will linger with you long after the final page has been turned.
What Nora Knew
Molly Hallberg is a thirty-nine-year-old divorced writer living in New York City who wants her own column, a Wikipedia entry, and to never end up in her family’s Long Island upholstery business. For the past four years Molly’s been on staff for an online magazine, covering all the wacky assignments. She’s snuck vibrators through security scanners, speed-dated undercover, danced with the Rockettes, and posed nude for a Soho art studio.

Fearless in everything except love, Molly is now dating a forty-four-yearold chiropractor. He’s comfortable, but safe. When Molly is assigned to write a piece about New York City romance “in the style of Nora Ephron,” she flunks out big-time. She can’t recognize romance. And she can’t recognize the one man who can go one-on-one with her, the one man who gets her. But with wit, charm, whip-smart humor, and Nora Ephron’s romantic comedies, Molly learns to open her heart and suppress her cynicism in this bright, achingly funny novel.
Tuscan Rose
A magical, richly woven World War II– era saga filled with passion, secrets, beauty, and horror from internationally acclaimed bestselling author Belinda Alexandra.

FLORENCE, 1914. A mysterious stranger known as The Wolf leaves an infant with the sisters of Santo Spirito. A tiny silver key hidden in her wrappings is the one clue to the child’s identity. . . . FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, young Rosa must leave the nuns, her only family, and become governess to the daughter of an aristocrat and his strange, frightening wife. Their house is elegant but cursed, and Rosa—blessed with gifts beyond her considerable musical talents—is torn between her desire to know the truth and her fear of its repercussions. All the while, the hand of Fascism curls around beautiful Italy, and no citizen is safe. Rosa faces unimaginable hardship: her only weapons her intelligence, intuition, and determination . . . and her extraordinary capacity for love.
Fifteen Minutes
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a dramatic story about fame, true love, and the cost of having it all.

Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him.

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also some­thing more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster.
At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a thera­peutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world.
Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and pri­vate agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning.
Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners?
The Orchid House
Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate reminiscent of Downton Abbey where her grandfather tended exotic orchids. Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place. There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate. Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II. When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II. Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.
The Girl on the Cliff
From the author of the #1 international bestseller The Orchid House, the mesmerizing story of two Irish families entangled by a tragic past that seems destined to repeat itself

o escape a recent heartbreak in New York, Grania Ryan returns to her family home on the rugged, wind-swept coast of Ireland. Here, on the cliff edge in the middle of a storm, she meets a young girl, Aurora Lisle, who will profoundly change her life.

Despite the warnings Grania receives from her mother to be wary of the Lisle family, Aurora and Grania forge a close friendship. Through a trove of old family letters dating from 1914, Grania begins to learn just how deeply their families’ histories are entwined. The horrors of World War I, the fate of a beautiful foundling child, and the irresistible lure of the ballet give rise to a legacy of heartache that leaves its imprint on each new generation. Ultimately, it will be Aurora whose intuition and spirit may be able to unlock the chains of the past.

Sweeping from Edwardian England to present-day New York, from the majestic Irish coast to the crumbling splendor of a legendary London town house, The Girl on the Cliff introduces two remarkable women whose quest to understand their past sends them toward a future where love can triumph over loss.
The Lavender Garden
An aristocratic French family, a legendary château, and buried secrets with the power to destroy two generations torn between duty and desire.

La Côte d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinières, the last of her gilded line, inherits her childhood home, a magnificent château and vineyard. With the property comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions . . .

Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent undercover to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she soon stumbles into the heart of a prominent family who regularly entertain elite members of the German military even as they plot to liberate France. But in a city rife with collaborators and rebels, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.

As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the château itself may provide the clues that unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. Here is a dazzling novel of intrigue and passion from one of the world’s most beloved storytellers.

Image of Lucinda Riley
Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and wrote her first book aged 24. Her novel 'The Orchid House' (also called 'Hothouse Flower') was selected for the UK's Richard and Judy Bookclub in 2011 and went on to sell over 2 million copies worldwide.

Her second novel, 'Girl on the Cliff' made its debut on the New York Times Bestseller list in its first week and her latest book, 'The Lavender Garden' (also called 'The Light Behind the Window') topped the German bestseller list for eight weeks.

'The Midnight Rose' is to be published in most markets of the world in early 2014. Lucinda's books are translated into 25 languages and published in 36 countries. She lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and in the South of France.

Friday, December 20, 2013

'TIS THE SEASON TO BE READING--fiction treats are holiday sweets!

The House on Main Street (Apple Valley, #1)
In Apple Valley, Washington, friends are always near, neighbors have no secrets—even if they'd like to—and long-held wishes have a way of coming true…


Interior designer Tessa McKenzie has built a good life far from her Washington hometown. She intends to get back to it—as soon as she sells the cluttered Victorian house and antiques shop she inherited from her sister, Emily. But leaving Apple Valley a second time won't be so easy. There's her grieving nephew, Alex, to consider. And there's Sheriff Cade Cunningham, the adolescent crush who could easily break her heart again if she let him.


To Cade, Tessa was simply his high school sweetheart's kid sister. But now there's no denying she's a beautiful and caring grown woman, one he'd like to get to know. Except that Tessa is determined to leave again. If Cade wants to change her mind, he'll have to show her that small-town life has its lovable side—and that he does too. Most of all, he'll have to convince Tess they're good together, and that every step has led her right where she was always meant to be…

Secret Santa
Christmas is the time for miracles, mayhem, and holiday romance in these wonderful stories from four of today's most beloved authors…

"Mister Christmas" by Fern Michaels

A week before Christmas, attorney Claire O'Brien is summoned to Ireland to change her wealthy client's will--only to encounter resistance from his handsome nephew. Will Claire be forced to spend the holidays up close and personal with her irresistible Irish nemesis?

"The Yellow Rose of Christmas" by Marie Bostwick

Though Miss Velvet Tudmore wrote off romance years ago, rumor has it she has a secret admirer. And when her surprise suitor promises to reveal himself at the annual Christmas ball in Too Much, Texas, Velvet starts to wonder: is it ever too late to find love?

"Nightmare on Elf Street" by Laura Levine

Aside from the mortifying costume, how bad can a gig as a mall Santa's elf be? Jaine Austen finds out when she's teamed up with the Santa from Hell. But things go from bad to worse when he's found murdered on the job--and Jaine is a suspect. Now all she wants for Christmas is to find the real killer…

"Room at the Inn" by Cindy Myers

When a Rocky Mountain blizzard forces Barb and her husband to spend Christmas in a remote Colorado cabin with their fellow travelers, Barb struggles to cope--especially when her husband reveals troubling news. But sometimes a holiday shake-up is all a woman needs to discover what she's truly made of….

Christmas Angel

Leander Knollis, Earl of Charrington, was tired of gadding about the Continent on diplomatic missions. It was time he settled down in his family home with a wife at his side and enjoyed a proper English Christmas. But his search for an intelligent woman without fanciful notions of romance was a frustrating one indeed...until he met the very sensible Judith Rossiter. Her figure was most attractive, her manner most pleasing, and her heart kind and gentle. All he wanted was a marriage of convenience, but soon he began to wonder whether his eminently practical mind would be overruled by his surprisingly foolish heart.


It was an odd sort of marriage proposal which left Judith perplexed. Why would an earl, and a most attractive one at that, have any interest in marrying an impoverished widow with two children? It was a peculiar notion to consider but the opportunity to better her family's fortune, particularly in the advent of the approaching holiday season prompted her to accept his offer. It seemed an ideal arrangement in which she had nothing to fear...unless it was losing her heart to this most enigmatic earl!

No Place Like Home (Includes: La Vie en Roses, #1.5)
There's nothing more festive than a winter romance, and in these heart-warming stories, love is a gift that can take you by surprise. . .

"The 24 Days Of Christmas" by Linda Lael Miller
A matchbox advent calendar first brought Frank Rayner and Addie Hutton together. But that was years ago. There's no way the miracles of Christmas--and the magic of true love--could possibly be hidden under one of its tiny flaps. Or could they?

"Christmas Angel" by Kat Martin
When Angel Summers' first love, Josh Coltraine, joined the Army, she vowed to hate him forever. But now he's back in Savannah for the holidays--wishing for a miracle that could heal both their hearts.

"The Christmas Carousel" by Mary Carter
Single mom Georgia Bradley can't afford to fight the developers who want to tear down her beloved Rhode Island auction house--especially Adam Cavalier. But when she receives a mysterious gift, Adam becomes intrigued with its origin--and with Georgia...

"A Rose In Winter" By Laura Florand
Allegra Caldron knew the rule never to talk to strangers. But on a cold winter night in Provence, she breaks that rule--and more--with an irresistible man. Raoul Rosier seems thrillingly dangerous, yet why does Allegra feel so safe with him--even when she believes he's a thief?

His By Christmas (Hamilton Sisters, #5)
She's all he wants this holiday season...

Yvette Hamilton knows just what she wants for Christmas—a dazzling marriage. And if marrying the ton's catch at the height of the Yuletide season is how she can prove herself, she'll be the most respectable of the many ladies competing for his hand. But one accomplished rake has other, much more tempting ideas…

The illegitimate son of a duke, Lord Jeffrey Eddington knows society will never truly respect him. He thought he'd found acceptance as a friend of the Hamiltons, but Yvette's seeming snobbery makes him wager to win her hand no matter what it takes. Too late, he finds her frivolity conceals an intelligent, appealing woman. Now they face a hard choice between the holiday dreams they think they want most…and the very real love they can't resist.

The Mountain Between Us
Cut off from the outside world by a blanket of snow, the holidays are usually a time for peace and quiet in tiny Eureka, Colorado. But this year the mountain town is in trouble. Thanks to a corrupt investor, the treasury is bankrupt, leaving residents to struggle through an especially harsh winter. Then there are those with more personal problems, like Maggie Stevens, pregnant and torn between single motherhood or drawing the father-to-be into a life he's not cut out for. And Olivia Theriot, the mayor's prodigal daughter, is harboring a secret so painful she may never be able to settle down. But mother nature is about to put things in perspective…

When a blizzard blows through just days before Christmas, some are left stranded--and others missing. Now there's only one thing on Eureka's wish list: to live up to its name, and its reputation for coming together, and find a way to bring everyone back home--where they belong.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

BUDDY VALASTRO--"The Cake Boss"--rich family history--lasting legacy of over 100 years

Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia

Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia  by


In this heartfelt memoir, master baker and star of the #1 hit TLC show, Buddy Valastro tells his inspiring story—and recounts his family’s warm memories from a lifetime of living, loving, and cake making.

Television viewers have fallen in love with Buddy Valastro, master cake maker, and his funny and fiery family, proprietors of Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, on the smash hit TLC series Cake Boss. Now, to coincide with Carlo’s 100th anniversary, cake designer extraordinaire Buddy Valastro brings together his passion for baking and his high-energy family stories in the pages of this charming, heartwarming book—complete with 25 recipes and tips that will make every reader the “cake boss” of their own kitchen.

Buddy’s beautifully designed cakes are the stuff of legend—and so is the remarkable story of his father, a beloved pillar of the community and himself a talented baker who set the stage for his family’s rise to the pinnacle of their industry. Cake Boss recounts the story of Buddy’s life and of his family’s bakeshop, originally established in 1910 and now a Hoboken, New Jersey, landmark and culinary tourist destination. Here also are twenty-five recipes for Carlo’s Bakery’s most sought-after pastries, pies, cupcakes, and cakes, an irresistible combination of time-tested old-world recipes and modern creations, all founded on a rock-solid “old-school” baking foundation and classic techniques.

This is the incredible true story of how Carlo’s Bakery came to be, how one hard-working family realized their patriarch’s dream of making their beloved bake shop a household name. The special bond and loving dynamic of the Valastro clan make this an uncommonly touching and truly inspiring memoir.


An engaging and involving memoir, "Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia", by

Bake Like the Boss!

The Essential Cake Boss is a perfect slice of Buddy Valastro’s beloved bestseller Baking with the Cake Boss—a sweet collection of Buddy’s core recipes and techniques; the building blocks of Buddy’s show-stopping desserts; and many of his most popular, signature creations. You’ll learn to work with baking and decorating equipment, bake perfectly moist cupcakes and cakes, and work magical effects with frosting and fondant. Gorgeous photos let you follow Buddy as he shows how to create his artistic flourishes and decorations. The Essential Cake Boss also features charts that let you mix and match cake flavor, frosting, and liqueur syrup to create your own trademark cakes.

Bursting with delicious, tried-and-true recipes, handy tricks of the trade, and stories told in Buddy’s inimitable voice, The Essential Cake Boss is a rare treat— a fun, accessible guide to baking that inspires home bakers to new culinary heights, all in a gloriously designed, fully illustrated book worthy of the Cake Boss’s unique artistic vision.


"The Essential Cake Boss" may be a condensed version of master baker Buddy Valastro's "Baking with the Cake Boss", but it is filled to the brim with mouthwatering recipes and expert baking methods and helpful hints. While you may never achieve the level of food artistry of the "Cake Boss", you can elevate your level of baking skill and culinary knowledge. You won't just be in awe--you'll be truly inspired. Sections such as "Basic Baking Techniques", "Decorating Techniques", and "Working with Fondant" are magically mixed together with recipes for cookies, cakes and cupcakes, and frostings and fillings. Try to resist the appeal of these tempting treats: "Double Chocolate Chip Cookies"; "Pignoli Cookies"; "Christmas Tree Cupcakes"; "Raspberry Dream Cake"; "Old Fashioned Italian Rum Cake"; "Red Velvet Cake", and more. Fully illustrated from cover to cover, this slim volume contains a wealth of baking and decorating techniques. Practice makes perfect, and the test products are scrumptious. 
Review Copy Gratis Simon & Schuster

 Family Celebrations with the Cake Boss: Recipes for Get-Togethers Throughout the Year

Sunday, December 15, 2013

HEARTFELT HOLIDAY READS--terrific titles filled with the spirit of the season--perfect for gifting too!

Christmas on Mimosa Lane 


Anna DeStefano presents a touching Christmas story about love, loss, and healing—and the joys of coming home.

A childhood spent on the streets leaves Mallory Phillips longing for a normal life and a perfect Christmas. Now an elementary school nurse in Chandlerville, Georgia, Mallory’s dream to blend into the picturesque community isn’t working out. She’s once more living a loner’s existence. Then an emotionally fragile seven-year-old appears in her living room in the middle of the night, and Mallory’s isolated world is turned upside down.

This is Polly Lombard’s first Christmas without her mother, and she won’t utter a word to anyone—except Mallory. She believes Mallory holds the key to helping her father overcome his sadness. Despite Pete Lombard’s lingering grief over his wife’s death and concern for his daughter, his resistance to their mysterious neighbor crumbles as he spends more time with Mallory and falls for her amazing heart. But when her past returns haunt her, is Mallory strong enough to keep the Lombard family in her life? And can the spirit of Christmas heal these broken souls and bring them all the joyous, loving holiday they deserve?

 A Novel 

THE BRIDGE  by Karen Kingsbury 

Number one New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delivers an instant classic with this heartwarming Christmas story about a hundred-year flood, lost love, and the beauty of enduring friendships. 

Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. They had a rare sort of love she hasn’t found since.

Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. He can still hear Molly’s voice encouraging him to follow his dreams; Molly, whose memory stays with him. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there.

For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of digital books. Then in May, the hundred-year flood swept through Franklin and destroyed nearly every book in the store.

Now the bank is pulling the lease on The Bridge. Despondent and without answers, Charlie considers the unthinkable. Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly, everything changes. In the face of desperate brokenness and lost opportunities, could the miracle of a second chance actually unfold?

The Bridge is a love story set against the struggle of the American bookstore, a love story you will never forget.  

 A Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy Christmas Story 

ANGELS AT THE TABLE  by Debbie Macomber 

In this joyous and whimsical holiday novel, Debbie Macomber rings in the season with the return of Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy, delivering laughs, love, and a charming dose of angelic intervention.

Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy know that an angel’s work is never done, especially during a time as wondrous as New Year’s Eve. With an apprentice angel, Will, under their wings, they descend upon Times Square in New York City eager to join in the festivities. And when Will spies two lonely strangers in the crowd, he decides midnight is the perfect time to lend a heavenly helping hand.      

Lucie Farrara and Aren Fairchild meet after bumping into each other—seemingly by accident—in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. They immediately hit it off and find they have a lot in common: Lucie is a burgeoning chef and Aren is a respected food critic. But just as quickly as they’re brought together, another twist of fate tears them apart, leaving Lucie and Aren with no way to reconnect.

A year later, Lucie is the chef of an acclaimed new restaurant and Aren is a successful columnist for a major New York newspaper. For all the time that’s passed, the two have not forgotten their one serendipitous evening—and neither have Shirley, Goodness, Mercy, and Will. To reunite the young couple, the angels cook up a brilliant plan: mix true love, a second chance, and a generous sprinkle of mischief to create an unforgettable Christmas miracle.

A Rocky Mountain Christmas 

A ROCKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS  by William W. Johnstone with J.A. Johnstone 

Three days before Christmas, Matt Jensen is traveling the Denver and Pacific railway when an avalanche slams down onto the train, trapping it in desolate Trout Creek Pass. But it wasn't an act of nature that caused the accident; it was a gang of outlaws attempting to rescue their leader, who is being taken to Red Cliff to be hanged. As Smoke Jensen and Duff MacAllister frantically try to make their way to the scene, Matt struggles to save the survivors, among them a beautiful young woman with a dark past, a merchant seaman turned rancher, and a senator with his very ill young daughter. Starving under a bitter, driving snow in the brutal, unforgiving Rocky Mountains, and surrounded by armed and desperate outlaws, Matt still dreams of making it home for Christmas. But unless fate lends a hand, nobody will.

Season for Surrender (Seasons, #2) 


Honor Among Rogues

Alexander Edgeware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…

Mischief Among Misses

Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…

 A Delightful Collection of Heartwarming Holiday Stories 

UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR  by Jude Deveraux, Linda Howard, Margaret Allison, Stef Ann Holm, and Mariah Stewart 

A spirited Irishwoman comes to a rugged Colorado town to govern a young ruffian and learns a love lesson from the boy's father....In the midst of a blizzard, a snowbound woman offers shelter to a mysterious stranger....Home for the holidays, an artist proves opposites can attract when she falls for an unconventional doctor....A holly berry-picking contest in the California hills brings two determined hearts together for the greatest prize of all....A lively family reunion on a Montana ranch brings on a flurry of memories for a beautiful young writer -- and a winter storm that rekindles an old flame....

 A Novel 


"We’re all pilgrims,’ he said thoughtfully. "One way or another, aren’t we? Always searching for something."
Twelfth night - time to put away the Christmas angel.  A new year dawns, and everything seems to be falling into place for Dossie. Her son Clem and his adorable five-year-old son Jakey have moved to Cornwall to be closer to her. She runs her own successful catering business. All she needs now is some better  luck in her romantic life.

Complementing Dossie’s rather unconventional family set-up is the wonderfully eccentric Janna: a warm-hearted, generous woman who looks after the quirky nuns of the local convent  –  and little Jakey. With humor, kindness and the support of friendship, they form a tight bond.
But the Sisters’ life as they know it is thrown into doubt when an avaricious property developer starts prowling around their beautiful, historic home. Will this close-knit unit who so depend on each other still
be together next Christmas? And what will they have learnt about the true meaning of family, and about having somewhere you really belong? Find out in Marcia Willett's touching and timeless holiday tale, Christmas in Cornwall.

His Mistletoe Bride 

HIS MISTLETOE BRIDE  by Vanessa Kelly 

Blame It On The Mistletoe...

When Major Lucas Stanton inherited his earldom, he never dreamed his property would include the previous earl’s granddaughter. Phoebe Linville is a sparkling American beauty, yes, but with a talent for getting into trouble. Witness the compromising position that forced them into wedlock. Whisked away to Mistletoe Manor, his country estate, it isn’t long before she is challenging his rules—and surprising him in and out of bed.

Phoebe has no intention of bowing to Lucas’ stubbornness, even though he offers all that she wants. His kisses and unexpected warmth are enticing, but Phoebe is determined to show the Earl of Merritt what real love is all about. And if that takes twelve nights of delicious seduction by a roaring fire, she’s more than willing to reveal her gifts very slowly…

Together for Christmas 


In a hilarious and heartwarming novel from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, a down-home diner owner meets a sexy Scrooge--but will it be a match made in holiday heaven?

A selection of the Doubleday Book Club, Rhapsody Book Club, BOMC2, The Literary Guild, and Doubleday Large Print | featured as an "Editor's Pick" in FIRST for Women magazine.  This book is part of the Kismet Christmas series. Also look for Home for the Holidays (2008) and Holiday Affair (2010).

  Mischief and Mistletoe 

MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE   by Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne Gracie, and Susan King 

In this sparkling holiday collection, eight acclaimed authors unwrap the most daring of Regency delights…
Christmastime in England—a time for passionate secrets, delicious whispers, and wicked-sweet gifts by the fire. From a spirited lady who sets out to save her rakish best friend from an unsuitable engagement, to a bold spy who gets the unexpected chance to win the woman he’s always loved, to a vicar’s daughter who pretends to be a saucy wench, these holiday tales will make you curl up in front of the fire for a memorable season of mischief and mistletoe…

 A Victorian Christmas Novella 

A WREATH OF SNOW  by Liz Curtis Higgs 

“A wonderful story of redemption and restoration that will warm your heart during the Christmas season—or any time of year!”
—Francine Rivers, best-selling author of Redeeming Love

Wrapped in a cloud of steam, the engine rolled to a stop, the screech of metal against metal filling the frosty air. Snow blew across the railway platform and around Meg’s calfskin walking boots. The weather definitely was not improving. She ordered tea with milk and sugar, eying the currant buns and sweet mincemeat tarts displayed beneath a bell jar. Later, perhaps, when her appetite returned. At the moment her stomach was twisted into a knot.

“Anything else for you?” the cashier asked as she handed over the tea, steaming and fragrant.

Meg was surprised to find her fingers trembling when she lifted the cup. “All I want is a safe journey home.”

“On a day like this?” the round-faced woman exclaimed. “None but the Almighty can promise you that, lass.”

“A Wreath of Snow glows with warmth, charm, and grace. A wonderful read.”
—BJ HOFF, author of The Riverhaven Years series

Christmas Eve 1894

All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.

Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.

When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?

As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.   

Twelfth Night Secrets 


A touching and sexy Christmas-themed historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather in which a young woman must carry out a spy mission against the man she loves in honor of her recently deceased brother.

Lady Harriet Devere travels to Oxfordshire with her two younger siblings for their annual family holiday gathering. Now orphaned, the trio has recently lost their eldest brother Nicholas, who died serving his country in battle. Before his death, Nicholas had entrusted Harriet with a secret: he was working as a British spy, recruited to follow in their father’s footsteps. Nicholas uses Harriet as an accomplice, expecting her to relay simple messages to his contacts while he was abroad. After his death, Harriet is suddenly asked to fulfill a request much more in-depth than those of the past.

Harriet must keep an eye on Julius Forsythe, Earl of Marbury, who, while also a spy for the British, is believed to be a double agent also working for the French. Harriet is expected to follow his every move to determine his status as a traitor. But before long, she begins to admire the Earl, and her romantic feelings are reciprocated. As the adventure unfolds, Harriet must do her best to honor the wish of her dearly loved brother, while attempting to keep the man she loves from harm.   

What Happens At Christmas 

WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS  by Victoria Alexander 

Camille, Lady Lydingham, knows precisely what she wants for Christmas — an official engagement to a handsome, dashing prince. Her very proper suitor expects a proper English family and the perfect Dickensian Christmas, which leaves the lovely widow with a slight problem. The last thing Camille wants is for the prince to meet her unconventional relatives. But with the aid of a troupe of actors, Camille intends to pull off a Christmas deception of massive proportions. At least until Grayson Elliot shows up. A dozen years ago, he declared his love on the day before her marriage to another man, then vanished from her life. Now he’s back, gate-crashing Camille’s already chaotic house party, playing absolute havoc with her scheme — and with her heart. Because for Grayson, losing Camille once was quite bad enough. Losing her twice? Unthinkable. And he’ll find a way to show her they belong together — for this season, and every Christmas yet to come…

'Twas the Night After Christmas 


A heartwarming Christmas romance from a beloved New York Times bestselling author!

Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters.

A Winter Dream 

A WINTER DREAM  by Richard Paul Evans

The author of the bestselling phenomenon The Christmas Box presents a new holiday novel about family, fate and forgiveness.

Joseph Jacobson is the twelfth of thirteen siblings, all of whom are employed by their father’s successful Colorado advertising company. But underneath the success runs a poisonous undercurrent of jealousy; Joseph is his father’s favorite and the focus of his brothers’ envy and hatred. When the father seems ready to anoint Joseph as his heir, the brothers make their move, forcing Joseph from the company and his Denver home, severing his ties to his parents and ending his relationship with his soon-to-be fiancee. Alone and lonely, Joseph must start a new life.

Joseph joins a Chicago advertising agency where his creativity helps him advance high up in the company. He also finds hope for a lasting love with April, a kind woman with a secret. However, all secrets hold consequences, and when Joseph learns the truth about April’s past, his world is again turned upside down. Finally, Joseph must confront his own difficult past in order to make his dreams for the future come true.
A Winter Dream is an ingenious modern retelling of the Old Testament story of Joseph and the coat of many colors by the master of the holiday novel. The #1 bestselling master of the holiday novel reimagines the classic story of Joseph and the coat of many colors, presenting an inspiring modern story of family and forgiveness.

The story I’m about to share with you begins with a dream. . . . Whether the dream was prophetic or the cause of all that happened, I’ll never know. But for years, I kicked myself for telling the dream to my father, who, for reasons I’ll never understand, chose to share it with my eleven brothers. —From the Prologue of A Winter Dream