Sunday, December 28, 2014

"THUNDER POINT"--author Robyn Carr's charming and compelling contemporary romance series keeps getting better and better!!!


The Wanderer (Thunder Point, #1) 
 
THE WANDERER  by Robyn Carr   
 
From Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Virgin River novels, comes THUNDER POINT-the highly anticipated new series that will make you laugh, make you sigh, and make you fall in love with a small town filled with people you'll never forget.   

Nestled on the Oregon coast is a small town of rocky beaches and rugged charm. Locals love the land's unspoiled beauty. Developers see it as a potential gold mine. When newcomer Hank Cooper learns he's been left an old friend's entire beachfront property, he finds himself with a community's destiny in his hands. Cooper has never been a man to settle in one place, and Thunder Point was supposed to be just another quick stop. But Cooper finds himself getting involved with the town. And with Sarah Dupre, a woman as complicated as she is beautiful. With the whole town watching for his next move, Cooper has to choose between his old life and a place full of new possibilities. A place that just might be home.   


MY REVIEW:   Author Robyn Carr begins her "Thunder Point" series with "The Wanderer". Set in the ruggedly beautiful coastal area of northern Oregon, the book has some ties to her popular "Virgin River" series. "The Wanderer" is Hank Cooper, known as just "Cooper", who has received word of the death of his longtime friend, Ben Bailey. A loner, like Cooper, Ben left his beachfront property and business to Cooper, who is stunned to learn the extent and value of the land holdings. Ben lead a modest lifestyle, but his property is worth a fortune. Cooper only plans to stay long enough to handle Ben's estate, but the longer he stays, the more involved he becomes in the community, which starts to feel like home. He makes friends with the local deputy sheriff, Mac McCain, and he decides to renovate the bait shop/deli/bar that Ben had run on the property. As Cooper begins to restore Ben's place, he learns just what pivotal piece of property it is--if he sells it to developers, the whole community will be affected. Cooper befriends a teenager, Landon Dupre, who is being bullied by some of his classmates. When Cooper meets Landon's older sister, Sarah, he is instantly smitten, and he has one more reason to stay in Thunder Point. Like Cooper, Sarah is a helicopter pilot, serving with the Coast Guard. Cooper had served as a military pilot--Ben had been his mechanic--and now he goes where the work takes him. Having been badly burned by her cheating spouse, Sarah is not looking for an involvement. However, the chemistry with Cooper is impossible to resist, and they soon begin a passionate affair. To his surprise, Cooper finds himself wanting a deeper relationship, while Sarah tries to keep an emotional distance. Cooper has lived a nomadic existence by choice, but will his unexpected inheritance and surprising emotional longings finally give his life well-planted roots? Will Sarah give him her heart and her trust? "The Wanderer" is leisurely, but enjoyably, paced, allowing the reader to get a real sense of the setting and the characters. The secondary romance between Mac McCain and Gina James added much to the story line, and it is the basis for the second book in the series, "The Newcomer". If you love romances set in small communities where everyone and everything is somehow connected, then you will enjoy the "Thunder Point" series.   

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The Newcomer (Thunder Point #2) 
 
THE NEWCOMER  by Robyn Carr  

With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr looks at letting go of the past-and knowing when you've found something worth building your future on... 

Single dad and Thunder Point's deputy sheriff "Mac" McCain has worked hard to keep everyone safe and happy. Now he's found his own happiness with Gina James. The longtime friends have always shared the challenges and rewards of raising their adolescent daughters. With an unexpected romance growing between them, they're feeling like teenagers themselves-suddenly they can't get enough of one another. And just when things are really taking off, their lives are suddenly thrown into chaos. When Mac's long-lost-and not missed-ex-wife shows up in town, drama takes on a whole new meaning. They're wondering if their new feelings for each other can withstand the pressure...but they are not going down without a fight. 
 
Step into the world of Thunder Point, a little town on the Oregon coast where newcomers are welcomed, hearts are broken and mended, and the dramas of everyday life keep the locals laughing, crying and falling in love. 


MY REVIEW:    Hank Cooper was "The Wanderer" in the first book in author Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series. Now that Cooper seems to be settling in for the long haul, he's "The Newcomer" in the Thunder Point, Oregon community. After an unexpected inheritance from his good friend, Ben Bailey, Cooper eventually grew to love the area where the property Ben had left to him was located. He also came to love Sarah Dupre, and her younger brother, Landon. Cooper became good friends with the deputy sheriff in the little community, Mac McCain. Mac was a single dad, raising three kids after their mother had left them a decade ago. With the help of his Aunt Lou, Mac managed to keep his family together and on the right track. The mother of his oldest daughter's best friend was Mac's best friend and parenting buddy. Gina James was a single mother, never married, living with her own mother and her teenaged daughter. Deep down, there was more than just friendship between Mac and Gina. Romantic attraction had made itself known on a couple of occasions, only to be shut down by an overly-cautious Mac, leaving Gina hurting and frustrated. Everyone knew that Mac and Gina belonged together, but it took another man's interest in Gina to make Mac stake his claim. Now that they're together, he can't believe it took him so long to claim the happiness that was there all along. However, when Mac's ex-wife makes an unwelcome return, she threatens the newfound joy for Mac and his family. Gina has serious issues of her own to deal with her daughter Ashley becomes distraught and self-destructive after she is heartlessly dumped by her boyfriend. Mac's buddy Cooper is trying his best for a happy future with Sarah, but a promotion for her in the Coast Guard could mean that she would have to leave Thunder Point. If her brother Landon went with her, he would be uprooted for his senior year of high school. If Cooper went with them, he would be leaving behind his newly found homeplace. Landon could stay behind and live with Cooper to finish out his school year, but then Sarah would be without the two most important people in her life. Meanwhile, Cooper receives another unexpected gift--one that will change the course of his life forever. Someone will have to compromise, but will it be a compromise of the heart? "Thunder Point" is like a patchwork quilt top--a work in progress where unexpected pairings and additions somehow come together to form a thing of beauty. Something unique and ever-evolving--just like the residents of Thunder Point.   

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The Hero (Thunder Point, #3) 
 
THE HERO  by Robyn Carr   
 
With warmth and sensitivity, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr shows readers that falling in love can be the bravest act of all. 

In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can't be worse than what they've left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he's not looking for anything else. Instead, he's thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point's high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he's gentle and kind...just the kind of man who could heal Devon's wounded heart. Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it...and sometimes, you find a hero.
   

MY REVIEW:  Author Robyn Carr returns readers to the coastal community of Thunder Point, Oregon with Book Three, "The Hero". Rawley Goode is a sixty-something Vietnam Vet, usually short on words and spare with communication. However, when he sees a young woman and her small child walking the road alone in the early morning darkness, he offers them a ride. From the young woman's clothing and hairstyle, he surmises that she has just left "The Fellowship", a religious compound located in the area nearby. Since he was on his way to Hank Cooper's little deli & bar, he offers to provide breakfast for mother and child, and then give them a lift to wherever they want to go. Devon McAllister and her daughter are indeed fleeing the compound and the control of the manipulative ruler, Brother Jacob. Devon had been vulnerable to Jacob's persuasion to join his commune, and later he fathered her daughter, Mercy. Devon knew firsthand that Jacob was evil--sometimes physically violent. He grew pot as a cash crop, saying that it was medicinal herbs. He was on the radar of the authorities, suspected of kidnapping and human trafficking. Rawley extends his kindness even further, giving Devon and Mercy a place to stay, and advising Devon to change her looks. She cuts her long hair very short, and Rawley helps her to get new clothes. Another friend of Cooper's also takes an interest in Devon. Spencer Lawson had been married to a former girlfriend of Cooper's, and when she is dying from cancer, Cooper is called to see her one last time. She reveals that he is the biological father of her son, Austin, who has been raised by Spencer. After her death, Spencer and Austin show up in Thunder Point, and Cooper is delighted to be able to spend time with his son. Spencer accepts the job of head coach at the local high school, and he throws himself into the role. Devon finds work in the new doctor's office in town, and she moves into a small apartment which needs a lot of work. Spencer, Rawley, Cooper and his lady, Sarah, step in and fix up Devon's apartment while she is at work one day, and she and Mercy finally have a real home of their own. The friendship between Spencer and Devon blooms into romance. Cooper and Sarah are making plans for the future, and their friends, Mac McCain and Gina James are now happily married and co-parenting their merged families. Devon enjoys her work, her new friends, and the romantic attentions of Spencer, but she is always aware of the danger she left behind. When that danger comes looking for her, and Mercy is kidnapped, Devon is devastated. However, there's more than one "hero" in Thunder Point, and Devon's friends won't let her down. When the past is put behind at last, what will the future hold for Devon and Spencer? Each of them is healing from painful memories, but hearts can always hope for healing and happiness to lead them to brighter and better days ahead. Thunder Point is just the place for them to be--a place where wanderers come to settle, newcomers are welcomed as friends, and friends become family.  


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The Chance (Thunder Point, #4) 
 
THE CHANCE  by Robyn Carr   

Share the joys, heartbreaks, challenges and triumphs of the people who inhabit the small Oregon town of Thunder Point with #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr...
   
With its breathtaking vistas and down-to-earth people, Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. The locals embraced Laine as one of their own after she risked her life to save a young girl from a dangerous cult. Knowing her wounds go beyond the physical, Laine hopes she'll fit in for a while and find her true self in a town that feels safe. She may even learn to open her heart to others, something an undercover agent has little time to indulge. Eric Gentry is also new to Thunder Point. Although he's a man with a dark past, he's determined to put down roots and get to know the daughter he only recently discovered. When Laine and Eric meet, their attraction is obvious to everyone. But while the law enforcement agent and the reformed criminal want to make things work, their differences may run too deep...unless they take a chance on each other and find that deep and mysterious bond that belongs to those who choose love over fear.   


MY REVIEW:  With its picturesque coastal Oregon setting, appealing characters, and involving story lines, "Thunder Point" continues to be a very enjoyable contemporary romance series from author Robyn Carr. With "The Chance", FBI agent Laine Carrington is in need of a respite to recover from a gunshot wound incurred during a dangerous assignment to bring down a nefarious cult and its evil leader. The Thunder Point community had taken her into their fold after she had rescued a young girl, and Laine requests a leave of absence to return to the haven of the Oregon coast. Renting a house and settling in, Laine hopes to get a fresh viewpoint on her future and to come to some resolution with her difficult relationship with her father. When Eric Gentry, owner of the local service station and garage, first lays eyes on Laine, he is immediately smitten. After a troublesome past, Eric has put down roots in Thunder Point to be near his daughter and to make a better future for himself. Laine is equally attracted to Eric, and while he is cautiously making his way toward her, she is a decisive woman of action, and she knows what she wants. However, they have very different backgrounds and life histories. Eric quit high school and became involved with the wrong crowd, later serving five years in prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when his buddies held up a store. After learning a hard lesson, Eric cleaned up his act, got his GED, and became successful in auto repair and restoration. Laine's parents were both doctors, and as their daughter, she was a well-educated high-achiever. Can an electric chemistry and mutual need overcome their conflicts and lead to a lifetime of love? I look forward to future visits to Thunder Point and spending more time with its residents and its newcomers.

 

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The Promise (Thunder Point, #5) 

 
 #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr returns to Thunder Point with an uplifting story about overcoming loss and finding unexpected love

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating scene is awkward. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic. Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options. Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.
 
 
MY REVIEW:  I may live in Virginia, but I have another home in Thunder Point, Oregon, the fictional community created by author Robyn Carr. With "The Promise", the fifth book in "The Thunder Point Series", I am familiar with old friends and family, and I am embracing new acquaintances finding their own home in this lovely little community. Dr. Scott Grant is a widower with two small children, building a life and establishing firm roots in Thunder Point. As the town's only physician, his professional life and personal life often overlap, and he's managing the best way that he can, but he could use some extra help. Peyton Lacoumette, an accomplished physician's assistant, needs a life change--away from the prominent cardiologist who had been her lover and her employer. Answering Scott Grant's help wanted advertisement seems like the perfect solution for them both--at least for the time being. Peyton, from a large Oregon farming family, has always been a giver, and it seems those around her don't mind taking, but she's determined to be on her own and free from some of those needy, greedy attachments. Scott is far different from Ted Ramsdale, the god-like medical superstar who had first dazzled and then greatly disappointed Peyton. His children are also quite unlike Ted's children. Even though they lost their mother, Scott's young son and daughter are easy to be around, with few of the issues Peyton dealt with in Ted's three unmanageable, unappreciative teens. As Peyton weighs her options for the future, Scott and his children, and the Thunder Point community are finding a place in her heart. Scott was attracted to Peyton from the very beginning, not just for her stunning beauty, but for her competence and intelligence. He realizes that his heart is ready to love again, but can Peyton be satisfied with small-town living and a much less grand lifestyle than the one she left behind? After working on her parents' farm as she grew up, she achieved much in her career and chose to reward herself with perks of her success--but is that what makes her really happy? Love has its own sense of timing, often very different than our own, but when the promise of real, lasting love comes along, we must realize when the time is right to make a leap of faith for the heart. A recommended series for lovers of smartly-written, involving contemporary romance.

 
Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
 
 
 
The Homecoming (Thunder Point, #6) 
 
 
In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes—the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live ...
 
At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.
Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self. Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?
 
 
MY REVIEW:  Six books into author Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series, and I am still hooked. I look forward to each trip to the little community on the coast of Oregon, where I can visit with old pals and meet new friends. This book, "The Homecoming", is my favorite entry, thanks to a very appealing heroine and an exceptionally poignant story line. A hunky hero who admits to being a self-reforming work-in-progress adds just the right balance to this charming contemporary romance. Seth Sileski was a golden-haired golden boy--a high school football star who left Thunder Point and earned a pro-football contract. His moment in the spotlight vanished all too soon, thanks to a serious car accident which permanently damaged his right leg and ended his career in professional sports. Finally finding a career in law enforcement, he returns to his home town as Deputy Sheriff, taking over for his promoted predecessor. Seth makes his rounds of the town, getting to know the business owners and catching up with old friends, visiting with his mother and letting her fuss over him and feed him. There are two very important people with whom Seth must make amends. His father always felt that Seth had thrown away his opportunity of a lifetime, and a distance had grown between them over the years. The other person on Seth's mind, the one he had missed and most desired to be back in his life, is his former best friend, Iris McKinley. Seth and Iris had grown up together, next-door neighbors and schoolmates. Iris was always there for Seth, guiding him through school and personal issues, and she always made him tow the line. In their senior year, a misunderstanding had led to a permanent break, their once close relationship strained and damaged. Iris had always loved Seth, as a friend and more than a friend. She was the odd girl and he was the school star, but somehow they had fit together and were content with each other's company--until the night a drunken Seth had said things and done things he didn't remember the next day. He had broken Iris' heart, and she carried her hurt with her throughout the years, never really getting over Seth. Now he was home, wanting to be her friend again, and she finds it hard to resist him, even though the pain is still just below the surface. When the truth is revealed, can childhood pals and high school buddies discover that their feelings have grown into attraction and love between an adult man and woman? I so enjoyed Iris as a female character, both vulnerable and still very much her own woman. Seth is a different kind of leading man, just right with his humbled hunkiness. The story line for "The Homecoming" explores many other touching, funny, and dramatic elements, and I highly recommend this well-written contemporary romance. I am a great fan of Robyn Carr's "Thunder Point" series, and I know you will be too.

 
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COMING UP IN 2015:
               




ROBYN CARR      

Image of Robyn Carr  

Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost fifty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Her highly anticipated new series, Thunder Point, began in March 2013. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr's website at www.RobynCarr.com.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

**5 STAR** FABULOUS! Ravishing historical romance from author Anna Campbell*****



What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) 



A REPUTATION AT RISK

 

What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that's who. She's known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she'd bring nothing but scandal to his name.

 

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can't stop her. Then her brother's dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he'd finally gotten over.

 

The only way they'll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they're married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . . 



MY REVIEW:   "What a Duke Dares" is Book Three in the sensational "Sons of Sin" series from author Anna Campbell. The duke is question is Camden Rothermere, Duke of Sedgemoor. In his youth, Cam was the Marquess of Pembridge, whose questionable paternity haunted the family name--his mother's affair with his "father's" brother made either man his likely sire. His mother was great friends with the mother of the Thorne clan, and Cam was especially close to Peter Thorne and his sister Penelope, known as "Pen". When Cam came of age, the only girl he was inclined to marry was Pen--not for love--he didn't believe in love--but for practical purposes and familial expectations. Pen, whose own family had its share of scandals, didn't share Cam's views on marriage, and to his utter disbelief, she turned down his proposal. Almost a decade later, their paths will cross again. On his deathbed, Pen's brother Peter makes Cam promise to retrieve Pen from Europe and return her to their home and family. Neither Pen nor Cam has ever married, and the relationship which grew from childhood friends to young adult acquaintances begins to show an added element of heated sparks. Is it possible that what began so long ago has now come full circle and will no longer be denied? Pen has always loved Cam--loved him so much that she couldn't marry him when she knew his own lack of love would be unbearable when combined with the societal disapproval carried by both families. Cam has seen Pen bloom and grow from a slender, long-legged girl tagging along with him and her brother to a pretty young woman who had the audacity to refuse his offer of marriage. How can he now convince this exquisite grown woman that their futures belong with each other? It won't be easy, but when a duke dares what he dares...anything is possible! A wonderfully involving romance, made all the more readable by appealing and compelling characterizations. A delight for lovers of historical romance from the awesome Anna Campbell.

 

Review Copy Gratis Grand Central Publishing
 




A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2)


IT TAKES A LADY

Brilliant scholar Genevieve Barrett's secret identity as the author of her father's articles is her greatest deception-until her father's handsome new student arrives on their doorstep. Genevieve recognizes him as the masked intruder who earlier tried to steal a priceless gem from their home. Keeping the seductive stranger's identity hidden is a risk, but she's got secrets of her own to keep.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Sir Richard Harmsworth fakes a rakish facade to show society that he doesn't care about his bastard status. Yet haunted by his unknown father's identity, Richard believes the Harmsworth Jewel will prove he's the rightful heir. Intent on seducing the stone away from its owner, Richard finds himself face-to-face with a beauty more breathtaking than any jewel. But even as she steals Richard's heart, Genevieve will be in greater danger than her coveted treasure . . .
  

MY REVIEW:  Author Anna Campbell continues her emotionally compelling "Sons of Sin" series with Book Two, "A Rake's Midnight Kiss". Sir Richard Harmsworth learned long ago to present a pleasant facade in order to endure the poisonous barbs from society's sharpest tongues. Called a bastard from his mother's supposed dalliance while his father was away on a diplomatic mission, Richard had nonetheless inherited the title of baronet. It came without respect, however, and Richard had determined that recovering the lost family heirloom, The Harmsworth Jewel, would give him a credulity that society could not deny. After determining the possible hiding place of the jewel, he verifies its location by breaking into the owner's home. Met by a blonde beauty brandishing a gun, Richard makes his escape after a delightful tangle of words with the gorgeous lady. As bright as she is beautiful, Genevieve Barrett is the daughter of a scholarly vicar who takes credit for the articles his daughter writes. A brainy bookworm with little worldly experience, Genevieve is stirred by the confrontation with the masked stranger, and the tantalizing scent of his cologne lingers in her memory. Shortly after their encounter, a new student arrives at the vicarage, expressing the intent of studying her father's work. Mr. Christopher Evans is charming, clever, and intent upon disturbing Genevieve's equilibrium. Something about the man unsettles her, but she must not let herself be distracted from her goal of establishing her own academic reputation. When she realizes that Christopher is the man who broke into the vicarage, she keeps the awareness to herself. She has yet to learn the reason for his criminal intentions, and she is also taken aback by her own very personal reactions to this all-too-attractive pretender. Richard's guise as Christopher Evans brings him closer to obtaining the Harmsworth Jewel than he's ever been, but after Genevieve steals his own heart, what does he really want in life? In spite of herself, Genevieve is captured by Christopher's warmth, wit, and wanton flirtation. Could there be more happiness and fulfillment in her future than she ever imagined? When all secrets are revealed will love be the greatest truth of all? Written with Anna Campbell's trademark passion and poignancy, and enlivened with delicious banter and intriguing story line turns, "A Rake's Midnight Kiss" is highly recommended for lovers of ravishing romance.

Review Copy Gratis Grand Central Publishing



Days of Rakes and Roses (Sons of Sin, #1.5)


A SONS OF SIN novella from bestselling and award winning author, Anna Campbell.


Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society's rigid rules, but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. And as she prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what's more important: propriety or passion?


Simon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he's about to lose the one woman he's never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?



Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1)
WILL A WEEK OF SEDUCTION . . .


Desperate to save her sister's life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.


. . . SPARK A LIFETIME OF PASSIONATE SURRENDER?


Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?


MY REVIEW:  Author Anna Campbell begins her "Sons of Sin" series with "Seven Nights in Rogue's Bed", and quite a beginning it is! The rogue in question is Jonas Merrick, a seemingly rich and reckless illegitimate son of the late Viscount Hillbrook. Jonas, scarred in bullying incident from his youth, hardened his heart along with his muscles and fought his way into power, becoming a broker for the idle rich. As his own fortune grew, so did his desire to ruin the man who had viciously slashed his face with a blade, leaving him forever acutely aware of his facial disfigurement. His greatest goal in life is to bring down William Merrick, Lord Hillbrook, his own cousin who inherited Jonas' father's wealth and estates as his legal heir. Seeking to ruin Hillbrook, Jonas engages in card play with Hillbrook's wife, Roberta. Of course, she is no match at cards for the determined Jonas, and his price for payment of her debt to him is for her to spend a week in his home and in his bed. However, his plan is thwarted when the woman who comes to pay the debt is not Roberta, but her sister Sidonie Forsythe. His ire at being duped is soon overcome by his fascination for the lovely and innocent Sidonie. She is not turned away by his scarred face, and she speaks her mind to him. The more time he spends with her, the more his heart begins to stir along with his desire. Sidonie discovers that Jonas is more man than beast, and she finds herself enthralled by this compelling and passionate misfit. Both Jonas and Sidonie have deep secrets, and the danger of treachery threatens to destroy their newly found relationship. Sidonie must return to her own life and see to the welfare of her sister and nephews, but will Jonas be able to let her go? Can these two hearts which now beat as one find a way to defeat their enemies and triumph in love? Anna Campbell is a master of sensual, suspenseful historical romance, and reading one of her books will never be enough. I look forward to the next two books in the "Sons of Sin" series. Highly recommended!


Review Copy Gratis Grand Central Publishing
ANNA CAMPBELL

Anna Campbell



Anna Campbell lives on the beautiful east coast of Australia. She has four times been voted Favorite Australian romance writer by the Australian Romance Readers Association (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and her work is published in 16 languages. She has written nine multi award-winning historical romances set in the Regency period for Avon and Grand Central Publishing Forever. Her most recent release is WHAT A DUKE DARES, book 3 in the "Sons of Sin" series. Look out for book 4, A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT, in late April 2015. Anna blogs with the Romance Bandits - www.romancebandits.com You can find out more about Anna and her books at her website: www.annacampbell.info




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Thursday, December 25, 2014

COOKING WITH CHEF GARFIELD--THE CELEBRATED CAT IS NOW A CELEBRITY CHEF! TWO DELIGHTFUL COOKBOOKS FROM THE CAT IN THE CHEF'S HAT!


 Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More! 


GARFIELD...RECIPES WITH CATTITUDE! 

from Gooseberry Patch 


Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude!: Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More!  Gooseberry Patch and Garfield the cat... it's a match made in food heaven! The first new Garfield cookbook in ten years, Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! is packed with over 230 yummy recipes near and dear to Garfield's tummy. Gooseberry Patch fans will love this fun new twist on the quick & easy recipes they've come to expect. Garfield collectors will love Gooseberry Patch and Garfield the cat... it's a match made in food heaven! The first new Garfield cookbook in ten years, Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! is packed with over 230 yummy recipes near and dear to Garfield's tummy. Gooseberry Patch fans will love this fun new twist on the quick & easy recipes they've come to expect. Garfield collectors will love the strips and quips by Jim Davis, while the simple recipes will entice even inexperienced cooks. Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude! delivers heaps of homestyle flavor and Garfield's humor adds tons of fun to each page. Readers will love Cheesy Scramblin' Pizza for breakfast. Happy Burgers, Baked Chili Fries and Jim's Spicy Deviled Eggs (from Davis himself!) are on the lunch menu. Spicy Honey Chicken Wings and Crispy Bacon Bread Sticks are perfect for snacking and sharing. At dinner, they'll love Bow-Tie Lasagna, Creamy Salmon Manicotti, and Meatball Pizza Pockets just as much as Garfield does. Even a bachelor like Garfield's owner, Jon Arbuckle, can make Incredibly Easy Pot Roast and Spicy Roasted Potatoes with these simple-to-follow recipes. Of course, it isn't dinner without dessert, so treat yourself to Caramel Apple Pie. Chapters include: Breakfast Is Served...Time to Get Up!; First Lunch, Then a Catnap; Snack Attack!; Lotsa Lasagna, Pasta & Pizza; It's Dinner Time...Now!; and Dinner is Over, What's for Dessert? There are plenty of Garfield gags and illustrations, plus easy cooking tips and simple substitutions... the kind of advice Gooseberry Patch fans have come to love. 



MY REVIEW:   When the world's most fabulous feline foodie joins forces with a renowned cookbook publisher, expect incredible edibles! "Garfield...Recipes with Cattitude!: Over 230 Scrumptious, Quick & Easy Recipes for Garfield's Favorite Foods...Lasagna, Pizza and Much More!" is a joyous joint venture from Garfield and Gooseberry Patch. I love Garfield--he makes me laugh out loud! Whenever I would chuckle when reading the newspaper, Mama would always say: "What's Garfield done now?". The folks at Gooseberry Patch offer the most mouthwatering cookbooks you could imagine, and they really topped themselves with this terrifcally tasty collection from our favorite culinary cat--Chef Garfield. This cookbook is loaded to the max with food and fun, and there are images of Garfield and friends on every page of the book. Each page also has a helpful hint or side note. The recipes are divided into sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and of course, a special section for lasagna, pasta, and pizza. These recipes are easy to prepare, and you will easily find something to please everyone--even the pickiest of eaters. Just a sampling of the delightful dishes you will find: "Crustless Breakfast Pie"; "Lazy Cat Pancake"; "Mom's Chicken Soup for a Cold"; "Deluxe Greek Salad"; "Pull-Apart Pizza Bread"; "Salty-Sweet Crunchy Mix"; "Classic Lasagna"; "Farmers' Market Fettuccine"; "Oven-Fried Catfish", "Hushpuppies", and "Farm-Fresh Coleslaw"; "Picnic Basket Cake"; "Country Cheesecake Bars"; "Just Peachy Blueberry Crisp"; and "Double-the-Fun Fudge". There are also recipes for treats for cats and dogs. Kids of all ages will enjoy reading this cookbook, and you will find many new family favorite recipes from Garfield and Gooseberry Patch.  




 In the Kitchen with Garfield 


I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield  
by Jim Davis with Recipes from Barbara Albright    



Over the years, Garfield the cat has struck a chord with readers who can identify with his laid-back, shall-we-say-lazy approach to life. The famous feline--whose passion for food and sleep is matched only by his aversion to diet and exercise (he prefers lie-downs to sit-ups)--has become the poster cat for all kinds of people, none of whom would ever describe themselves as "Type A's."


To celebrate being the world's favorite feline, Garfield introduces I'm in the Mood for Food: In the Kitchen with Garfield.


Chock-full of tasty recipes, the cookbook also features spot art and food-related Garfield comics in color. I'm in the Mood for Food includes chapters on Family Food, Party Food, Pasta, Outdoor Cooking, Kids' Recipes, Snacks, and Desserts. Consider some of these mouth-watering morsels: Lazy Cat's Lasagna, Color Me Hungry Red Pepper Potato Frittata, Royal Roasted Lemon-Herb Chicken and I'd Rather Be Happy Than Thin Chocolate-Chunk Cookies. All in all, I'm in the Mood for Food will appeal to cooks everywhere, especially those who love Garfield and, like him, believe that the best things in life are edible.  



MY REVIEW:   I adore Garfield. He makes me laugh out loud. Garfield adores food. He is foodie extraordinaire! This tubby tabby is an expert on lasagna, laughter, and mastering his hapless master. "I'm In The Mood For Food: In The Kitchen With Garfield" offers lots of humor from Garfield and his creator Jim Davis, and dozens of wonderful recipes from Barbara Albright. This cookbook is good enough to eat, with easy-to-fix recipes that are fun food for the whole family. Don't worry about calories--you'll burn them off laughing! Try these recipes on for "Garfield size" enjoyment: "Cheesy Baked Potato Casserole"; "Tempting Tuna Steaks"; "Color Me Hungry Red Pepper Potato Frittata"; "Killer Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie"; "Lucky Ginger Pennies"; "Macho Nachos"; "Brownie-Bottomed Ice Cream Pie"; "Life's a Party Havarti Shrimp Dip With Garlic Toasts"; "When in Doubt Pig Out Breaded Pan-Fried Pork Chops"; "Royal Roasted Lemon-Herb Chicken"; "I'd Rather Be Happy Than Thin Chocolate-Chunk Cookies"; and of course..."Lazy Cat's Lasagna".

"GRAN'S MAC and CHEESE"--my most requested recipe : )




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.

"The Christmas Cook's Shelf"--delicious books for holiday entertaining--tempting treats--lots of good eats!



 Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself  



Author Jeff Guinn's charming "Christmas Chronicles" series continues with "Santa's North Pole Cookbook: Classic Christmas Recipes from Saint Nicholas Himself".  Truly a "man of the world", Santa offers recipes from every corner of the earth, and he also illuminates his readers on holiday customs from cultures that span the globe. Santa shares his personal philosophy that there are four essential elements required to create the timeless magic of the holiday season: worship, family, friends, and food. While some of the recipes are fairly simple, and use easily-obtained ingredients, others are more complex and regionally specific. Here are some of the recipes Santa has collected in his travels: "Pecan Waffles from Sweden"; "Atilla's Stuffed Mushrooms from Germany"; "Flaming Gingered Prawns from Australia"; "Leonardo's Pasta Fra Diavolo from Italy"; "Theodore Roosevelt's Pan-Fried Christmas Potatoes from the USA"; "Christmas Mulled Wine from Finland"; "Holiday Black Walnut Cake from Germany"; and "Cinnamon-Sugar Sticks from Mexico". The official chef of the North Pole, Lars, created these recipes for Santa & Co: "Santa's Breakfast Souffle"; "North Pole Bread Dressing"; "Lars' Savory Poached Salmon"; "Holiday Plum Pie Cookies"; and "Candy Cane Creme Brulee". No wonder Santa is a "right jolly old elf"! Other books in Jeff Guinn's "Christmas Chronicles" series include: "The Autobiography of Santa Claus"; "How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas"; and "The Great Santa Search". 


Review Copy Gratis Tarcher Books




  200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More  



If cookies were wishes, then "Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More" would make all your dreams come true! This book is loaded with luscious recipes, packed with pictures, and chock-full of helpful hints and cooking tips. With chapters like "Classic Cookies & Confections"; "Bars, Brownies & Bites"; "Fruit & Nut Cookies"; "Biscotti & Shortbread"; "Spirited & Spiced Cookies"; and "Sweet & Savory Sandwiches", you will find cookies just right for the holidays and all through the year. Here are some of the tempting recipes perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth: "Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies"; "Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars"; "Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars"; "Maple-Walnut Butter Cookies"; "Hazelnut Toffee Squares"; "Triple-Orange Pecan Biscotti"; "Brown Sugar and Oatmeal Cookies"; "Cardamom-Honey Cut-Outs"; and "Ginger-Spice Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream". Are those the sounds of cookie sheets rattling in the kitchen? "Fine Cooking Cookies" offers 200 wonderful ways to treat your family, your friends, and yourself! Don't forget Santa's cookie plate!


Review Copy Gratis Taunton Press     




The Dead Celebrity Christmas Cookbook by Frank DeCaro  



Author Frank DeCaro has another winner with "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: Christmas in Tinseltown"! This book is a fantastic follow-up to the fabulous original "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook". Hollywood holiday traditions and recipes are served up in sensational style and given extra luster with the addition of great photos of favorite stars. The sweet and snappy "Christmas Tidbits" that accompany the celebrity bios and recipes are perfect appetizers for the feast to follow. I am a true foodie and film fan--a devoted aficionado of the entertainment world. I learned to cook from my wonderful Gran, who also loved movies and movie stars. Frank DeCaro brings back many wonderful memories and offers new insights to the lives of stars and star-makers of the screen and stage. "Christmas in Tinseltown" features recipes for the holiday season and all year around. All of the celebrities who are featured have a special connection to the holidays. Frank DeCaro's funny, friendly narrative writing style adds a warmly witty tone to the book, and the recipes run the gamut from simple to superb. The chapters are divided into courses, and the titles are quite punny: "It's a Wonderful Lunch"; "Miracle Whip on 34th Street", "Munch of the Wooden Soldiers", and "What a Fruitcake", just to name a few. Here are some recipes that really caught my eye: "James Stewart's Spareribs with Barbeque Sauce"; "Jimmy Durante's German Cole Slaw"; "Red Skelton's Ham Hock and Lima Beans"; "Natalie Wood's Beef Stroganoff"; "Dinah Shore's Fruitcake"; "William Frawley's Mulligan Stew"; and "Oliver Hardy's Baked Apples with Honey and Almonds". Just like the original "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook", "Christmas in Tinseltown" is delicious from appetizer through to after-dinner drink. If you are a "food and film fan", and so are your friends and family, then you will want to collect these books and also gift them to others. 


Review Copy Gratis HCI Books   




 Food Family Friends Festivities  



"Nigella Christmas" is such a gorgeous book. It truly is one of those cookbooks that looks good enough to eat! The introduction is interesting, informative, and unexpected--combining ancient holiday customs with modern awareness and sensibility. Being a watcher of TV's "Nigella Feasts", I am familiar with the author's speaking voice and persona. I could distinctly "hear" her speaking the introduction while I read it, and that made the words even more enjoyable. Nigella Lawson's food is sumptuous, even voluptuous, but still "do-able". She never skimps on anything, but nothing is ever elaborate or overly-complex. Simply superb! The very first recipe in the book is a cocktail called "Poinsettia"--pretty, pleasing, and potent. Only three ingredients: Prosecco, Grand Marnier, and cranberry juice. Now, that's the spirit! The appetizers run the gamut from savory to sweet. Another simple recipe with only three ingredients: "Party Parma Ham Bundles"--prosciutto is wrapped around bite-sized morsels of goat's cheese and figs. Imagine that trio of flavors in each nibble! Nigella states that while she "can't fashion wreaths or fold napkins", she does have a knack for making relishes and chutneys. How lovely to make a midnight kitchen raid, snag the last homemade roll with a slice of ham or turkey and top it with a dollop of relish or chutney! The "Three Seasonal Salads" with their unique and colorful uses of ravishing red fruits and vegetables make you want to take your fork to the page. Special mention must be made of the cakes. Definitely cakes to give to "the person who has everything". Give them one of these cakes, and they could ask for nothing more. There are many, many more wonderful recipes including main dishes, sides, sweets, and treats that are too tempting to limit just to the holidays. Throughout all, there is a true sense of the author's own belief that festive indulgence is not a bad thing, but a celebration of being alive and an affirmation of what is important in life. A belief in hearth and home and adhering to ritual and tradition when the world around us is so unsettling and uncertain. As Nigella says: "The Christmas rituals of the home are, even if not based around faith, essentially an act of good faith." A well-said and well-represented sentiment presented in a gorgeous gift of a book. 


Review Copy Gratis Hyperion Books




  Down-Home Meals for Every Occasion  


 
In "The Neelys' Celebration Cookbook", you'll find a world of ways to create a reason to celebrate. Not satisfied with just the traditional holidays, the Neelys and their two daughters also chow down and party in honor of "March Madness", "Spring Cleaning", "Girl's Night", "Sweet Tea and Sympathy", "Harvest Party", and others. The food is fabulous, the fun is contagious, and the spirit of "joie de vivre" is charmingly motivational. The personal insights and stories are as appealing as the delicious recipes. There is real warmth here, and it comes from more than just the Neelys' bodacious BBQ sauce! There's even a recipe for "Love Potion #9"! Who could resist such tempting treats: "Bourbon Bread Pudding", "Country-Fried Jalapeno Poppers", "Devils on Horseback", "Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting", "Grilled Shrimp & Pineapple Skewers", "Prime Rib with Ruby Port Sauce", "Hearty Winter Greens Saute", and "Mama's Day Off Cocktail". As the Neelys say: "Make sure that everyone who enters your home as a guest leaves as a friend." Well said, and well done! 

Review Copy Gratis Borzoi Books    




 Favorite Recipes and Holiday Traditions from My Home to Yours  


Debbie Macomber is truly in her element when it comes to all things Christmas! Her beautiful  "Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook" is exquisitely evocative of favorite family memories and freshly appealing "traditions in the making". Much more than a holiday cookbook, it also offers decorating, craft, and gift ideas that are both simple and sensational. The recipes are mouth-watering, each one with that touch of something extra that you look for when preparing holiday foods. To please the palate: "Tropical Paradise Muffins"; "Overnight Sausage & Caramelized Onion Casserole"; "Cider-Glazed Roast Turkey"; "Three-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes"; "Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dijon-Molasses Glaze"; and "Winter Tomato Pie". The recipe showstopper for me was "White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake"--I love peppermint for the holidays! Decorate a big, beautiful gift basket for someone special and first put in a copy of this book. Surround the book with little tubs of "Soothing Scented Lip Balm, tuck in some "Bubbling Bath Cubes" and "Pinecone Fire Starters". Add in a jar of "Many Bean Soup Mix", some "Do It Yourself Spice Blend" packets, and a tin of "Homemade Chai Tea Mix". Most important of all, don't forget the cookies. Lots of little holiday gift bags of wonderful, wonderful cookies. The final touch: A handmade holiday card for an extra-special seasonal sentiment. I think I just figured out what Santa is bringing me this year!


Review Copy Gratis Nancy Berland Public Relations 




  Mouthwatering, Time-Honored, Tried-And-True, Handed-Down, Soul-Satisfying Dishes  


If you are searching for a book to give a novice cook, or for a new addition to a seasoned cook's collection, "500 Treasured Country Recipes" will delight them both! While the book is written in a warm, down-to-earth style that feels like home, it is much, much more than a "country" cookbook. It is really a hefty, charmingly illustrated, all-inclusive volume of cookery, crafts, housekeeping, gardening, and useful advice. Written by Martha Storey and friends (an impressive roster of talent featured as contributors at the book's end), this expansive resource of recipes and more offers tempting treats to please every palate. On the savory side, you'll find dishes like "Zucchini with Mozzarella and Parmesan", which begins with bacon, onions and garlic sizzling in the skillet. "Southwestern Cranberry Sauce" blends the flavors of fresh cranberries and jalapeno peppers, and refines them with sugar and seasonings. "Onion & Mushroom Gravy" made with rich pan drippings, onions, mushrooms and seasoned stock may cause you to forgo a formal meal and stand at the stove dipping chunks of bread into the gravy pan. The desserts are delicious, decadent, and downright divine. Try to resist "Soul Satisfying Rice Pudding", "Baked Bananas in Maple Rum Sauce", or "Blueberries Romanoff". I won't even try to resist--I surrender! You'll also find detailed, illustrated instructions for making butter, cheese, beer, wine, and even soda pop. If you're a crafter, you'll really enjoy the sections featuring handcrafts, holidays, and homemade gifts. I don't have enough words or review space to detail all that this wonderful book has to offer. I will just say that it is indeed a "treasure", and you will reach for it time and time again. 


Review Copy Gratis Storey Publishing  




 Irresistible Excuses to Indulge  



Chocolate is not just a food--it is a world unto itself! As if I needed an excuse, "Absolutely Chocolate: Irresistible Excuses to Indulge" from the Editors of Fine Cooking offers pure pleasure from page to page. Don't eat the book! Read, learn, give in to temptation, explore, experiment, and let chocolate do its magic and release those good brain chemicals! The process of how chocolate is made--from birth to bar, the types of chocolates and their uses, cocoa versus hard chocolate, cocoa content, and the proper techniques for cooking with various chocolates are all invaluable facts for serious chocoholics. All of those things get you ready to dive into the more than 125 chocolicious recipes! Reward yourself, and those you love, with terrific temptations like: "Mocha-Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies"; "Macadamia Double-Decker Brownie Bars"; "Brown Butter Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips"; "Chocolate-Espresso Pecan Pie"; "Bourbon-Chocolate Mousse"; "Chocolate Pavlova with Tangerine Cream"; "Triple-Chocolate Ice Cream Pie"; "Chocolate-Banana-Ginger Bread Pudding"; "Chocolate-Raspberry Truffles"; and "Bittersweet Chocolate-Rum Sauce". The recipes range from simple to more involved, but none of the recipes or required ingredients are out of reach for most cooks. Even chocolate lovers who don't cook will treasure this book--maybe even sleep with it under their pillow for the sweetest of dreams.


Review Copy Gratis Taunton Press



  
 The Simple Delight of Family, Friends, and Food  



For those of us fortunate enough to have grown up in a household where the kitchen was always open, and food was prepared and served with love, there is a true treasure to be found in memories of shared mealtimes. In good times and bad, the food was always nurturing, and the comfort and reassurance of the gathering of family and friends is a touchstone to last throughout our lifetimes. If we are lucky, we can continue the tradition of bringing together family and friends, merging and blending our heritage with the demands and deadlines of modern day life. Russell Cronkhite is an accomplished chef, speaker, and writer who for many years served the White House as the head chef of Blair House, the Presidential Guest House. I knew that I would enjoy his book, "Return to Sunday Dinner: The Simple Delight of Family, Friends, and Food", and I was prepared for the food to be fabulous. What I didn't know was how wonderfully he would capture my own feelings on the importance of the kitchen in the home, and how deeply his beautifully written passages on regional and cultural food history and traditional recipes would resonate. There is such great warmth, intelligence, and heart in Russell Cronkhite's words, that you feel as if you as if you are about to sit down at his own family table and partake of a memorable mealtime experience. Each chapter begins with an interesting introduction to a different region and food culture of America, and includes "Easy Time-Saving and Do-Ahead Tips". There are colorful, tempting food photos throughout the book, and each recipe has its own little story. This is truly exceptional food, but the preparation and ingredients are still within reach. Just a sampler: "Baked Apples with Walnuts and Cream"; "Braised Country Greens"; "Hearty Beef and Barley Soup"; "Chocolate Apricot Ricotta Cheesecake"; "Green Beans with Smoked Bacon and Onions"; "Molasses-Pecan Cake with Caramel Buttercream Frosting"; "Sage-Rubbed Roast Pork Loin with Cranberry-Apple Cider Glaze"; "Grandma's Fried Chicken"; "Mustard-Glazed Corned Beef with Cabbage and Braised Root Vegetables"; "Rustic Village Bread"; "Buttered New Potatoes and Dill Steamed Asparagus Spears"; and "Ginger-Peach Chutney". Take the time to read and enjoy this delightful and thoughtful book, and you will be inspired to create new family traditions of your own.


Review Copy Gratis Thomas Nelson Books




 Your Guide to Choosing and Preparing the Season's Best  



"Fine Cooking In Season: Your Guide to Choosing and Preparing the Season's Best" is a truly fabulous find for foodies. The authors of this book discovered so many tasty treasures that they had to add a fifth season to the year. Your tasteful journey begins in Spring, and continues through Early Summer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each season has its own "color tab", and each food has its own variety of recipes. I loved the fact that each food has its own pages with beautiful color photos, recipes, "other ideas", and a "Did you know?" question and answer. Learning about food helps to open your mind to trying new foods, and that is a healthy option for both mind and body. Becoming knowledgeable in how to optimize the potential of the properties of each ingredient is a fun and inspiring way to add new life to food preparation. A reason to please in each season: "Asparagus, Goat Cheese, and Bacon Tart"; "Fresh Peas with Lemon and Chives"; "Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes"; "Apricot-Raspberry Buckle"; "Cherry Mousse"; "Braised Fennel with Tomato, Green Olives, and Capers"; "Roasted Onion Stuffed with Prosciutto and Parmesan"; "Fig and Anise Ice Cream"; "Sun-Ripened Tomato and Black Olive Salad"; "Carrot and Coriander Soup"; "Wild Mushroom Risotto"; "Chocolate Nut-Upside Down Cake"; "Glazed Pork Roast with Carrots, Parsnips, and Pears"; "Brown-Butter Banana Cake with Chocolate Chips"; and "Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts with Orange-Brandy Sauce". Tempted? You should be!


Review Copy Gratis The Taunton Press   

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.






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.

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!


SPRITZ COOKIES

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
sprinkles
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!

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 13, 2014

CONTEMPORARY CHRISTMAS ROMANCE--heartfelt holiday fiction from today's top romantic storytellers




 
















A DIAMOND IN HER STOCKING  by Kandy Shepherd

Everyone loves a Christmas wedding!


Chef and single mom Lizzie Dumont is moving on. Returning to Dolphin Bay to make her new restaurant a success, she has no time at all for jaw-droppingly handsome Jesse Morgan—even if she can't forget that incredible kiss they once shared!

Jesse can't forget their kiss, either. But the betrayal in Lizzie's past has made her wary of him, and he hates the fact that she can't see past his reputation as a heartbreaker. Now he's on a mission to change her mind—and luckily it's the most romantic season of the year: Christmas!


She daydreams of whipping up sauces and souffles in her own restaurant. His heart is set on helping foster children. Both dreams are at stake. So are their hearts.

With grand plans to open her own bed & breakfast in Chapel Springs, PJ McKinley can't afford the most crucial part: the brick and mortar. But when the owner of a local historic home announces a contest and promises her property to the worthiest candidate, PJ makes a fervent wish and tosses her name into the hat.


Cole Evans is cool, confident, and successful, but he'll never forget his roots. He's thankful for how far he's come and knows his life could have turned out drastically different. If he can win the stately old mansion, he'll turn it into a home for children aging out of the foster system.


When the eccentric house owner narrows the entries down to only two applicants, she extends the contest, giving PJ and Cole one year to prove which one of them can make the best use of her beloved home. As the pair competes in close proximity, something deeper than rivalry sparks between PJ and Cole. And in this battle, they're likely to lose their hearts.





It's Christmas in Twilight, Texas. The Cookie Club is baking, the town is decorated, and Delta Force Operator "Hutch" Hutchinson has finally, reluctantly, returned home . . .


. . . only to get pepper sprayed by the delicious- looking stranger who's taken over his house. She says her name is Jane, and she immediately sets down ground rules. Top priority: no touching. For Hutch that isn't easy—he was wounded in action, but one part is still working very well.


Then Hutch learns the truth. Jane harbors a frightening secret—she's really Meredith Sommers, on the run from a dangerous ex-husband and desperately in need of the safety Hutch can provide. In that moment, he vows he'd do anything in his power to protect her. And as Christmas approaches, they discover that their love can conquer the past and overcome any obstacle—but what price will they pay?




 Snow Angel Cove (Haven Point, #1)

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne welcomes you to Haven Point, a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright 


Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward's Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she's stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a hero, but she's not expecting one who almost runs her down with his car! 


Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza's hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew what his life was missing before Eliza, but now he's willing to risk his heart on a yuletide romance that could lead to forever.



In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.


Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.


Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.




 The Christmas Wedding Ring



THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING RING  by Susan Mallery


New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery returns with a Christmas-themed retelling of her beloved story, The Wedding Ring Promise!


In her youth, Molly Anderson couldn't help crushing on gorgeous bad boy Dylan Black-even though he had eyes only for her older sister. When things didn't work out between them, he said goodbye to Molly as well, vowing they'd have a great adventure when she grew up. Years later, dumped by her fiance just before Christmas, she's finally ready to take Dylan up on his promise.


A guarded Dylan always had a weakness for Molly, and when she waltzes back into his life—grown-up and gorgeous—he's stunned. So why not whisk her away for some no-strings-attached fun?

Laughter-filled days and late-night kisses are changing Molly's life, for good. The only gift she truly wants now is Dylan's love, but when he discovers the secret she's been keeping, she may lose him again…this time forever.





Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel




MR. MIRACLE  by Debbie Macomber



Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber celebrates the most wonderful time of the year in this heartwarming Christmas novel of romance, hope, and the comforts of home—now a Hallmark Channel original movie!


Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.


After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.


Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.
Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.





 Starry Night



STARRY NIGHT  by Debbie Macomber


’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.


Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.


Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.


Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.


Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.









Revisit these three classic stories of hope and seasonal cheer from Debbie Macomber, Official Storyteller of Christmas!


Greg Bennett hates Christmas. Divorced, almost friendless and about to lose his business, he has no time for what he considers sentimental nonsense. It takes three irrepressible angels to show him the truth.


Shirley, Goodness and Mercy shall follow him—until he learns what Christmas is all about!


Those Christmas Angels come down to earth again to respond to Anne Fletcher's prayer request. She wants her son, Roy, to meet a special woman—and the angels contrive to throw Julie Wilcoff in his path (literally!).


Another Christmas, another angelic rescue. The three heaven-sent messengers reunite a divorced couple, bring peace of mind to an elderly man and grant a little boy's fondest wish. Because there's always joy Where Angels Go.


Angels are all around us— Especially at Christmas!




 Together for Christmas: 5-B Poppy Lane\When We Touch\Welcome to Icicle Falls\Starstruck
This Christmas, visit four of your favorite towns, created by four of your favorite authors! Listen to some of the stories people tell at Christmas… 

5-B Poppy Lane by Debbie Macomber  


In Cedar Cove, Washington, you'll meet Helen Shelton, her granddaughter Ruth and Ruth's husband, Paul. You'll find out how Ruth and Paul met—and you'll learn about Helen's breathtaking adventures during the Second World War.


When We Touch by Brenda Novak  

Whiskey Creek, California, the site of a Victorian Days Christmas celebration, is where you'll find out how Noelle stole Olivia's fiancé, Kyle, and what happened next! But is there any chance the sisters can reconcile, especially at Christmas, the time of forgiveness and peace?


Welcome to Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts  


Come to Icicle Falls, Washington, for a Christmas cookie exchange at Muriel Sterling's house. Hear about the summer Muriel fell in love with a handsome stranger. Her dad expected her to take over Sweet Dreams, the family's chocolate company, but Muriel had sweet dreams of her own… 


Starstruck by RaeAnne Thayne 


And in Cold Creek, Idaho, visit with former Hollywood stuntman Justin Hartford, his daughter, Ruby, and wife, Ashley. Ruby and her friends love the story of how her dad and her new mom met!


There's something special about sharing our memories when we're together for Christmas!