Luck, Coincidence or Fate? Or Is There Another Explanation? by Linn B. Halton – Guest Blog and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Linn B. Halton. The author will be giving away a signed paperback copy of A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love. To enter Tweet a link to the post including: #ALittleSugarALotofLove
To finish at midnight GMT 7 days after the date the post goes live. International. Anyone can enter and no purchase necessary.

Luck, Coincidence or Fate? Or Is There Another Explanation?

The first time I sat down in front of a tarot card reader/psychic medium for the first time, it was on a girls’ night out and we were having a laugh. I’d even taken off my wedding ring, which says a lot about my expectations. But virtually the first thing she said to me stopped me in my tracks.

‘Your coccyx bone is misaligned.’ She’d told me, in a matter-of-fact way as she scanned the cards. Whaaat???

Now most people don’t even know they have one and I only knew about it because I’d recently given birth and had an emergency Caesarean section. After an x-ray this was pointed out to me as an aside and it wasn’t something I’d ever mentioned to anyone. OK – she had my attention and wedding ring, or no wedding, this lady didn’t need clues!

It was the start of a long and on-going fascination with tarot readings and psychic mediums. It took a long time for me to realise why I was so fascinated, though, and it stemmed back to my early childhood. It was difficult to acknowledge that virtually all of my earliest memories were linked to spirit activity around me. In fact, it wasn’t until my husband and I began witnessing the same thing that I was (finally) able to say that I believe in the existence of life after death. Seeing is believing, but until someone you trust sees the same thing at the same time, it’s human nature to look for reasons not to believe what you’ve experienced!

We’ve lived in so many houses over the years (fourteen and counting). Everything from an old hunting lodge, to new-build homes, and yes, some of them have had spirit activity. But what I’ve found is that it’s as likely to happen in a brand new home, as it is a 250-year-old cottage.

So when I write stories about life, relationships and the pursuit of true love, there will invariably be some, even quite small, references to the way our loves who have passed over continue to help us along the path we are destined to follow.
You know that moment of inspiration, that idea that suddenly pops into your head when you have a problem? Or that coincidence that was a turning point in your life? Or that exceptionally good luck that came from nowhere? You’ve felt it too. You might not see spirits, but you’ve felt the karmic love. It’s the first step …

Life isn’t all love and cupcakes …

Katie has had her fair share of bad luck, but when she finally realises her dream of opening a bakery it seems things can only get better.

But the reality of running a business hits Katie hard and whilst her partner, Steve, tries to help she can’t help but feel that the situation is driving them further apart. Could Katie be set to lose her relationship and her dream job?

Then, one winter’s day, a man walks into her shop – and, in the space of that moment, the course of Katie’s life is changed.
But nobody finds happiness in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it takes two Christmases, three birthdays and a wwhole lot of cake to get there …

A story about life, loss and self-discovery.

About the Author:Bristol-born Linn B Halton lives on the edge of the small market town of Cinderford, in the Forest of Dean, in the UK.

“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache…”

An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Spooky Autumn by Christina Courtenay

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Christina Courtenay.

Spooky Autumn

I love everything about autumn – the beautiful colours in the garden, the nights drawing in, the cold nip in the air and the mist that hangs over the nearby fields at dusk and dawn. I know not everyone feels the same, but it’s always been my favourite season and my spirits lift as soon as I see the leaves start turning red, orange and yellow. But there are other kinds of spirits that we usually only really think about on one special day – Halloween.

Halloween – or All Hallows’ Eve – hasn’t always been about trick-or-treating, obviously, and it’s easy to see why it was thought to be the one night in the year when spirits and/or dead souls could cross between their world and ours. That evening always has a spooky feel to it, whether you’re dressed up or not. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you might get a bit creeped out by the tendrils of mist or fog floating about, or maybe the extra darkness in your house makes you think a shadow over in a certain corner moved … And what was that rustling noise? Or the creak on the stairs?

But what if it really was a ghost who had flitted through that thin veil from the ‘other side’? What would you do?

The ideal scenario is of course that you’d ask the spirit who they were and what they were doing in your house. (I’m a firm believer in ghosts having a purpose for still being on earth rather than where they should be – there’s got to be a reason why they’re hanging around IMO). It could be someone you knew, or someone who needs your help. But I think it’s pretty unlikely for most of us that we’d be coherent enough to ask any questions. Personally, I would probably scream, faint or totally freak out. Possibly all three. Or maybe do that thing that happens sometimes when you have a really scary dream – you know, when something bad is stalking you, or some monster is about to murder you, and you’re sure that if you could only scream for help, you’d be rescued. But your vocal chords are totally numb and all that comes out of your mouth is a tiny little squeak … which is usually enough to wake you up and thereby save you from the monster.

Yes, I think that’s what would happen with me even though in theory I would find it fascinating to see an actual ghost.

Luckily, the heroine of my latest novel, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, is not an epic wuss like me. She does get a bit scared when she first sees a ghost, but she doesn’t have a complete freak-out. Which is good, since the ghost IS there for a reason and isn’t intending to hurt her. And the hero is used to spirits, as he’s a bit psychic and has seen them since he was a child, so he’s not scared either. All they have to do is figure out WHY they’re seeing the ghosts, which isn’t always easy …

Don’t you just wish you were the heroine in a book so that you could react the way you’d like to rather than like the terrified person you really are? I sure do, but maybe you’re much braver than me – how would you react to seeing a ghost? I’d love to know!

Many thanks to LASR for having me as a guest!

“As the velvet cloak of moonlight settled over the ruined towers of Raglan Castle, the shadows beneath them stirred …”

When newly widowed Tess visits Raglan Castle, she experiences an extraordinary vision that transports her to seventeenth-century Wales and a castle on the brink of a siege.

Even when Tess leaves Raglan to return to Merrick Court, her late husband’s home, the strange dreams continue as her life becomes increasingly intertwined with the past. And when the new owner of the estate arrives – New Zealander Josh Owens – the parallels become even more obvious.

But perhaps the visions aren’t just trying to tell their own story, maybe they’re also giving a warning …

About the Author:

‘Promote Me!’ portrait

Christina Courtenay writes historical romance, time slip and YA contemporary romance, all published by independent publisher Choc Lit. She is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, she moved to Japan where she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East. Christina is a former chairman of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan have both won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romantic Novel of the Year (in 2012 and 2014 respectively). Her latest novel is The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight.

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Buy the book at Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Kiss Me At Last by Holly Cortelyou – Spotlight and Giveaway

 

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Holly will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What’s better than wine, chocolate and a little renovation magic? A sweet and sexy matchup between a handsome, hammer-swinging contractor, Sean McMallory, and a flirty and stubborn champagne bar owner, Melinda York, who’s in a remodel pickle! Kiss Me at Last brings you back to the charming mountain hamlet of Wescott Springs, Colorado in a heartwarming contemporary, small town romance that’s sweet with a little kiss of heat!

One tempting kiss will rock his world…

Melinda York has every last penny tied up in her business remodel so the last thing she needs is a complication—like surly Sean McMallory. But when “McGrumpy” blows through her front door with a hammer and toolbox, she knows she’s doomed…her replacement contractor is none other than the jerk who humiliated her at the town council meeting. With Melinda buried in sawdust and the exasperating, but ever-so-sexy, Sean constantly underfoot, how is she supposed to maintain her professional poise when she can’t stop daydreaming about his broad shoulders and his unexpectedly kind heart?

Sean McMallory likes his life simple and straightforward, and his plate is full with a booming construction business and family responsibilities. When a cousin begs a favor, he’s plunged neck-deep into the whirlwind that is elegant, jet-setter Melinda York and her wine bar renovation. There’s just no trusting the flirty Melinda even if he can’t forget her kissable lips and surprisingly, vulnerable eyes. So he’ll stick with his beer and country roads, and she can keep her bottles of bubbly and fancy truffles!

Can one kiss build a bridge to love and heal their wounded hearts?

Read an excerpt:

With a smile lurking at the corners of his mouth, Sean had been waiting for an eruption for the last ten minutes.

It was day three of construction, and Melinda had looked far from chipper as she’d schlepped into the wine bar at eight in a slouchy gray sweater, faded jeans, and nondescript running shoes. Her eyes were bleary, and she cradled her coffee concoction like it was the crown jewel in the queen’s tiara. She’d winced every time his hammer drove home a nail.

Sean grinned. Hangover, he supposed, and he pounded a few extra nails for good measure as she scuttled into her office. That ought to fix her little red wagon, Miss High and Mighty and her sexy British accent. Not that he’d noticed.

He glanced toward her office door, and there was Melinda, staring at him with a stony gaze through half-slitted eyes.

“Good morning, Ms. York,” Sean said in his perkiest voice. “Sun’s shining, and it’s beautiful out.” He fiddled with the chuck on the drill and idly revved it a few times for some bonus noise.

“Is there anything quiet you can do for a while?” Melinda said, her tone was pained.

“Not feeling well?”

“I’m fine. I have some phone calls to make to wine distributors and a little peace and quiet would be divine.”

“Go back to your coffee shop for those calls. Unless you want me to take a break already? That will slow me down.”

Melinda glared. “I’m trying to get some work done, too.”

“Well, ma’am. This is a construction zone, so there’s going to be noise. We’re not slapping on some paint and hanging a few light fixtures. We’re adding beams, ripping out floors. What exactly were you expecting? Should I bring a bowl of potpourri or something?”

“That might help.” Her tone was drenched in syrup. “Or do you have a silencer for that drill?”

About the Author:

Holly Cortelyou is a romance author who pens sweet and spicy small town, contemporary romances as well as supernatural and paranormal romances. On any given day, you’ll likely find her posting dog and cat pics on Facebook  or goofing off on Twitter  and Pinterest! And of course, you can always visit her on the web at www.HollyCortelyou.com. Holly has hazel eyes, a goofy sense of humor and…all the rest is subject to change without notice.

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, or Amazon.

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Top 5 Holiday Decorating Tips by Kirsty Moseley – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Worth Fighting For, the second book in Kirsty Moseley’s Fighting To Be Free series. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

TOP 5 HOLIDAY DECORATING TIPS
1) No Christmas decorations before the third weekend in November. (This was always a rule when I was a kid as my sister’s birthday is the second week in November so we had to get that out of the way before we could think about Christmas!)

2) My son’s homemade decorations that he’s made over the years at school take pride of place (no matter how ugly they may be! Lol)

3) Have a fake tree because… pine needles! Lol.

4) It’s not Christmas until the whole house smells like Apple and cinnamon candles/air freshener

5) Alcohol! That way you can sit back with a glass of something nice while your partner puts up the decorations (in the wrong places) and you won’t even care.

12_8-moseley_worthfightingfor_trWattpad sensation Kirsty Moseley brings us the sequel to FIGHTING TO BE FREE.

Sometimes in life you have to walk away . . .

Leaving Jamie Cole was the hardest thing Ellie Pearce ever had to do. Somehow, she moved on. She made a new life in a new city with a new man. So when a family tragedy calls Ellie back home, she believes all her old feelings for Jamie—the hunger, the heat, the heartbreak-are safely behind her. But the second she lays eyes on him, the intensity of their connection is as strong as ever.

Sometimes you stay and fight . . .

Jamie knows pain. He’s felt it fighting in the streets, and he felt it fighting to survive in prison. Yet nothing he’s experienced has been as painful as the day Ellie left—until the moment she came back. This time Jamie is determined to hold on to Ellie forever. But as much as she still loves him, she can’t ignore the dark world he’s now a part of. Jamie has enemies. Dangerous ones. And after seeing Jamie with Ellie, they know exactly how to take him out . . .

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, said that in some poem in the 1800s. In my opinion, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was full of shit.

Maybe Lord Tennyson had never truly loved someone; maybe he’d never cared for someone else more than he cared for himself, because if he had, if he’d loved someone so deeply he’d been willing to die for them, how could he have written such a horseshit line? I’m merely speculating, of course. I’m no academic, so I know nothing about the guy other than that one quote. So how then, you may ask, does my opinion so vehemently disagree with his?

Because I was in love once.

Only once.

And I lost her.

And I would give any fucking thing in the world to have never loved her at all. No, it most definitely is not better to have loved and lost..

Fuck love. And fuck Lord Tennyson.

About the Author:12_8-kirsty-moseley-credit-trish-thompson-photographyKirsty Moseley has always been a passionate reader with stories brewing in her head. Once she discovered Wattpad, she finally posted a story. Seven million reads later, she self-published her debut novel, The Boy who Sneaks in my Bedroom Window, which later became a finalists for the 2012 Goodreads’ Choice Awards. Kirsty lives in Norfolk, England with her husband and son.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Google Play, iBooks, Indiebound, or Kobo

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Sunrise Over Brasov by Stephanie Burkhart – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Stephanie will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

6_18 sunrise Cover_SunriseoverBrasovRosa Getzi lives a life of intrigue at Poiana Brasov with Clement, a werewolf, and Cassandra, the witch. Her past doesn’t matter to her – until she discovers what it holds.

Prince Michael Sigmaringen joins his sister-in-law, Caroline, and the vampire prince, Darius, in a daring rescue, igniting Rosa’s desire to find her family. However, all is not as it appears. Rickard, Rosa’s friend, escapes with her. Clement will go to any lengths to get Rosa and Rickard back.

At Darius’ fortress, Michael soon discovers Rickard is a new breed of werewolf – one who can control the change, and Clement hopes to exploit Rickard’s abilities.

Michael’s courage, strengths, and convictions will be tested like never before. Can Michael and Rosa find true happiness and the rid the lupine haunting of the Sigmaringens once and for all?

About the Author:authorphoto_sunriseoverbrasovStephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. After serving 11 years in the US Army she currently calls Castaic, California her home. Stephanie was married in Denmark in 1991 and has two young sons. She adores chocolate, is addicted to coffee and enjoys early morning walks. She’s also an assistant den leader for her son’s Cub Scout den and is a Boy Scout mom. She writes paranormal, contemporary, and steampunk romance and has two children’s books published with 4RV Publishing.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | YouTube | Pinterest/
Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Desert Breeze Publishing, or All Romance eBooks.

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Hit the Spot by J. Daniels – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release of Hit the Spot by J. Daniels. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

TOP FIVE VACATON DESTINATIONS
1. The beach. Any beach. It’s my go-to summer vacation spot.

2. Massanutten, V.A.. I honeymooned here. We went skiing and ate pizza every night. We’ve been back several times with our kids. It’s a beautiful vacation spot.

3. California. I went to San Francisco this past year and LOVED IT. I think I’m a secret West Coast girl.

4. Texas. Cowboys? Check. Fantastic weather? Check. Southern hospitality? Double check.

5. My house. I’m a homebody.

12_7-daniels_hitthespottrIs this love or just a game?

Tori Rivera thinks Jamie McCade is rude, arrogant, and worst of all . . . the sexiest man she’s ever laid eyes on. His reputation as a player is almost as legendary as his surfing skills. No matter how her body heats up when he’s around, she’s determined not to be another meaningless hookup.

Jamie McCade always gets what he wants. The sickest wave. The hottest women. And Tori, with her long legs and smart mouth, is definitely the hottest one. He knows Tori wants him—hell, most women do—but she won’t admit it. After months of chasing and one unforgettable kiss, it’s time for Jamie to raise the stakes.

Jamie promises that soon Tori won’t just want him in her bed, she’ll be begging for it-and he might be right. Somehow he’s found the spot in her heart that makes her open up like never before. But with all she knows about his past, can she really trust what’s happening between them? Is Jamie playing for keeps or just playing to win?

LISTEN TO AUDIO CLIPS HERE

 

Listen to two clips from the audiobook from HIT THE SPOT, narrated by Sebastian York and Kate Russell

 

THE BET

NOT GOING ANYWHERE

 

About the Author: J. Daniels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Sweet Addiction series and the Alabama Summer series. She loves curling up with a good book, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, and writing stories her children will never read. Daniels grew up in Baltimore and resides in Maryland with her family.

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Buy the book at Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Google Play, iBooks, Indiebound, or Kobo

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Forever’s Holiday Celebration

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Forever’s Holiday Celebration Blog Tour

 

‘Tis the season to celebrate! Five of Forever’s authors with brand new Christmas romances are sharing their favorite holiday recipes and memories.

 

CAROLYN BROWN’S PUMPKIN BREAD

 

Kids, grand children, great-grands, all coming home for the holidays—the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in the oven—everyone waiting for it to get done so they can slice it up while it’s still hot, slather butter or whipped cream cheese on it, and tell the age old stories about the holidays we’ve had in the house. That’s the stuff memories are made off and every time I smell pumpkin bread it puts a smile on my face for the whole day.

 

PUMPKIN BREAD

This makes 2 loaves and 8 muffins; Or it makes one Bundt cake

 

½ cup butter

½ cup shortening

2 2/3 cups of sugar

4 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-16 ounce can)

3 ½ cups flour

1½ teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons soda

1 cup pecans (optional)

2/3 cup of cold strong black coffee

(NOTE: I use all butter if I’m out of shortening or even oil)

 

  1. Cream first four ingredients.
  2. Add canned pumpkin.
  3. Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour for loaves or bundt cake, 25 minutes for muffins, or until they test done in the center.
  5. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  6. Cool completely before frosting with Harvest Moon Frosting (below).

HARVEST MOON FROSTING

3 egg whites

1½ cups brown sugar

6 tablespoons water

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a double boiler. Cook 7 minutes, beating the whole time with an electric mixer, over the boiling water. The frosting will stand in peaks when done. Add vanilla.  Beat until thick enough to spread.

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Find out more about Carolyn Brown at her website.

 

PAULA QUINN’S CHRISTAS COOKIES

 

My dad used to live across the street from us. Every year, when my
kids were little, he would dress up like Santa, climb out his window
on the second floor, and hang Christmas lights on his fire escape. My
kids would watch from our window with wonder in their eyes, unaware
that it was grandpa. He would turn and wave to them, sending them into
little fits of breathlessness. Later, we would visit grandma and
grandpa’s for homemade cookies (left there for them by Santa). The
house was always fully decked out with every Christmas decoration
imaginable with Alvin and the Chipmunks on repeat while the kids
hunted down little “pre-Christmas” gifts he’d hide for them. I loved
witnessing the magic of Christmas and love through their eyes. Now
grown, my kids will sometimes still look out the window at his fire
escape and smile, remembering a grandpa who loved them beyond measure.

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GRANDPA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (A favored Italian recipe)

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

3½ cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

 

  1. Sift dry ingredients.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs; add
vanilla and dry ingredients.
  3. Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands.
  4. Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and then twirl into
shape.
  5. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

ICING

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 teaspoons water

 

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir until creamy. Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles.

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Find out more about Paula Quinn at her website.

 

 

DEBBIE MASON TREE TRIMMING PARTY

 

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is our tree trimming party. We’ve held one every year for the past thirty years. Though I don’t know if it qualifies as a party seeing as it’s just the immediate family. But we do make a thing of it with our favorite carols playing in the background, fire on (mostly for ambience), hot chocolate served in festive mugs, lots of holiday treats, and a special ornament for each of the kids and grandkids to open before the tree decorating gets under way.

 

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But I think the most fun for all of us isn’t decorating the tree, it’s unpacking the ornaments. I’ve always tried to buy an ornament that’s uniquely suited to each of the kids, whether it was a sport they were into that year or a movie, book, or hobby they loved, so unwrapping each one brings back a lot of special memories. Here’s a peek at just some of the collection. I don’t think it will be long before we have to break from tradition and let the kids take some of the ornaments home to decorate their own trees. Either that or we’ll have to put up another tree.

 

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And this one in my office doesn’t count 🙂 Every year, my family gifts me with an ornament too. This year they gave me these three adorable oranaments to celebrate the release of the first book in the new Harmony Harbor series, MISTLETOE COTTAGE, and the short story, CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL.

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Find out more about Debbie Mason at her website.

 

 

HOPE RAMSAY’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES

 

Every year for the last quarter-century, or possibly longer, I have set aside the Saturday closest to Christmas to bake gingerbread cookies with my children, and now, with my grandchildren.   These are the only cookies I make at Christmas time, and the activity is more about family fun than turning out a perfect cookie.  Usually I do most of the rolling, cutting, and baking.  And the rest of the family does the decorating.

The magic is in the royal icing. The white icing is a snap to make, and it can be divided up into small bowls and colored with food dye, creating pots of colored cookie paint.  I give each child (or adult) a watercolor paint brush and let them paint the icing onto the cookies.  The kids have a blast, and the cookies always come out looking wonderfully homemade.

To me, cookie baking embodies everything I love about Christmas: kids, family, baking, and yummy desserts.

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GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH

Makes about 6 Dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder 1 tablespoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons ground cloves 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ¾ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter 1 cup superfine sugar 1 egg at room temperature ½ cup unsulphured molasses

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, backing soda, and salt.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.
  3. On low speed, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  4. Cut the dough into thirds, pat into disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm – 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/16 inch thick and cut cookies with cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie turn brown.
  6. Let cool on sheets and then transfer to a wire rack. Decorate with royal icing.

ROYAL ICING

2 egg whites, at room temperature 1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ½ cup water

Using a mixer, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until fluffy, thick & shiny (about 10 minutes.) Divide the icing into smaller bowls and color it using food coloring.

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Find out more about Hope Ramsay at her website.

 

 

OLIVIA MILES SNOWFLAKE COOKIES

In my newest release, CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET, my heroine owns a cookie bakery. As this story takes place over the holidays, I thought hard about a signature cookie she might make, and eventually I settled on charming snowflake cookies. Of course these are not just any old cut out cookie, though. No, Kara makes them by the dozen, sure to keep each one in the batch distinct in shape and decoration, because no two snowflakes are ever the same, after all! And it’s these snowflake cookies that she delivers every day to the inn in Briar Creek…where a Christmas visitor falls in love with more than just her cookies.

I hope you all enjoy these snowflake cookies as much as Nate does! 🙂

KARA’S SNOWFLAKE COOKIES (sugar cookie cut-out and royal icing recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart)

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  2. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
  4. Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

ROYAL ICING

2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, or more to thicken icing

Juice of 1 lemon

3 drops glycerin

 

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Decorate each as you wish!

 

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Find out more about Olivia Miles at her website.

 

 

The Jake Bernstein FBI Series by Donna Del Oro – Q&A and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Donna Del Oro will be awarding winner’s choice of ebook or print copy of A BODYGUARD OF LIES (print – US only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

First, tell us about yourself – where you live, your family, and those sorts of details.
I live in northern California, used to teach high school English, married with two kids.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since my teens. I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. It was a teen romance, naturally.

Do you have a favorite place to write?
My kitchen counter is my favorite place. I used to write in my office but I hated facing the wall. Now I can look outside and see my big trees and sunshine.

Why did you decide to write Lies in Wait?
LIES IN WAIT is the second book in my FBI romantic-suspense series. I love my hero and wanted to put him through a very difficult test and undercover assignment.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My hero, Jake Bernstein, is a former SEAL/Navy officer turned undercover FBI specialist. He has linguistic abilities and is fluent in four languages: German, Hebrew, Arabic and Farsi. He’s also very handsome and somewhat of a ladies’ man.

How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
In LIES IN WAIT, the villains are Islamic terrorists who are plotting to set off bombs in five different football stadiums on Super Bowl Sunday.

Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I proofread/edit my own work but I also have two critique partners who are very adept at catching mistakes I have overlooked. Three pairs of eyes are better than one set. Additionally, my editor at The Wild Rose Press is exceptional at finding problems in the plot.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
As a hobby, I sing in a Sweet Adelines women’s chorus. In 2018, I’ll be traveling with a group of singers in Italy. Evidently, the barbershop style of singing (four-part harmony) is popular in Italy.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I read voraciously! Most of my favorite authors are Daniel Silva, Michael Connolly, Brad Thor, James Rollins, Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Write it out here, then answer it.
Where do your ideas for the FBI plots come from? I have an FBI source but in addition, I get the ideas from real life events reported on various media and from nonfiction books.

mediakit_bookcover_liesinwaitA riveting blend of romantic thriller, mystery and WWII espionage that spans sixty years of lies. England’s secret service agency MI5 recruits Jewish-American FBI analyst Jake Bernstein to go undercover and investigate an elderly, naturalized American grandmother, suspected of being a notorious Nazi spy wanted for war crimes during WWII. Jake runs into a series of complications: This spy knows a secret that could endanger the British royal family; Jake’s attraction to the old woman’s beautiful granddaughter; a ruthless and violent Irish neo-Nazi group is tracking him; and a clever, cagey old lady stands in the way of justice. His priority shifts from finding the evidence to staying alive!

Enjoy an Excerpt:

Breakfast in the hotel dining room was to be served at 7 a.m.. Next stop: Cardiff, the capital of Wales, then their ferry ride to Ireland. He’d finally looked over the itinerary. The motor coach would be leaving that afternoon, after a tour and lunch in Bath. A quick perusal of the day’s agenda showed him they had the afternoon free to wander around Bath and do some shopping. Maybe he could invite Meg and her grandmother to spend some time with him.

Still drowsy with sleep, he looked over at the pillow next to his. Visualizing Meg lying there, her lush hair with all its variegated blonde hues fanned out, stirred him. The erection he’d awakened with grew harder; not surprising, he thought, considering his celibacy of late. Strictly his choice, despite the offers tossed his way.

The opportunities had been there and he’d ignored them, stubborn man that he was. Even late last night, when the two New Jersey sisters had called and invited him to a private party in Hank’s room. He’d declined tactfully.

At thirty-two years old, he found himself holding out for more.

Stupid fool, he scolded himself. Or as the Brits would say, sodding wanker! Or something to that effect. He should learn to take it when it was offered to him on a platter, free of charge. All he had to do was be nice to a girl for a few hours, promise to call her, and then…

Ah, but as Grandpa Nate would say, “nussing is free in dis vorld”.

Dreams of Meg had plagued him—rather entertained him—all night. Even now, recalling how her small, plump breasts bounced up and down while she ran alongside him, how her long ponytail swung back and forth, filled him with unbridled lust. The one time they’d stopped at the Roman ruins, they’d let their arms brush together. Neither had pulled away. Just that light touch had flooded his insides with longing. She appeared to feel the same. She’d flushed to the roots of her hair and after that, had touched him in some small way every chance she got. Each touch was electric, sizzling!

What he liked about her was her total lack of coyness or flirtatiousness. Meg was straightforward, without guile; she wasn’t playing games. He could read the honesty in her face when she told him about her breakup with the ex-fiancé and her distrust of men and their empty promises and vows. All lies, she’d mused with just a hint of bitterness. She’d finally come to accept the reality of men.

Or some men, she’d amended, adding quickly that she’d apologize if she was offending him. No, he’d said; I agree with you. Most men lie through their teeth. It’s a guy thing.

That admission had elicited a small, rueful laugh from both of them. And she’d let her arm brush his again, as if to reassure him. He was different, she was saying.

No, I’m not, he’d wanted to say. I’m a liar, an impostor. And you’re going to hate me when this is all over.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_abodyguardofliesDonna is a retired high school English teacher and is finally able to fulfill her dream of writing fiction. She lives in Northern California with her husband and three cats. When she’s not writing novels, she’s singing with the Sacramento Valley Chorus or traveling with her husband. Life is good and she feels very blessed.

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This tour is featuring the Jake Bernstein FBI Series LIES IN WAIT, Book Two of the FBI series will be out January 4, 2017, and the 3rd book will be attached a few months after.

Buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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His Montana Rescue by Vella Munn – Q&A and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Vella Munn will be awarding a several photographs of Montana’s wilderness sent via email (international and U.S. giveaway) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

I’m such a book junkie that’s hard to answer, but even though his horror scares me, I swear no one does characterization better than Stephen King. He blows me away with the tiny details he uses to make even minor characters three-dimensional. When it comes to romances, my dear friend Catherine Anderson is a master of slowly building the process of falling in love. She too uses details to create a full experience.

Tell us something you hate doing. Why?

Shopping. Of any kind. Oh, I can tolerate grocery shopping because it has become a rote experience. Same things on the same aisles at the same store. Then I stand in the checkout line looking at other shoppers’ carts and am amazed that certain products exist. I’m not much for processed foods so learning there are such things as pre-mashed potatoes boggles my mind. As for the rest of the dreaded shopping experience, I was raised in remote, rural areas and to this day crowds intimidate me. Most stores have so many products jammed together and the colors are so bright. I feel my mind shutting down. What the hell did I come in here for? Shoot, I can’t even remember my name at that point.

What’s your pet peeve?

I’m not sure I have one because I pretty much roll with the punches. There is a matter of a 16 year old dog who lets me live with her. The older she gets, the less bladder control she has and there’s only so much the carpet shampooer can accomplish. I’d love to get new carpet instead of being on the constant search for damp spots. (Sorry if this is too much information)

When you are in writer mode, music or no music? If music, do you have a playlist?

Music. Silence makes me antsy. I rely a lot on Pandora, lots of country and western but sometimes I’m in the mood for Indian flute music.

Who was your favorite hero/heroine?

I can’t say there’s been one favorite but Winter Barstow in my romantic suspense Death Chant is near the top of the list. She was found by the side of the road when she was a little girl and knows nothing about her background except she has Native American features. I love her mix of strength and vulnerability. For the record, I give all of my characters emotional hang-ups—just like real people.

mediakit_bookcover_hismontanarescueFormer firefighter Echo Rose may have recovered from the injuries that nearly ended her life but the emotional scars still linger. She now devotes herself to protecting wildlife and sheltering her heart until local contractor Rey Bowen reminds Echo that life can offer so much more.

Rey Bowen is not the only one at Lake Serene with secrets and a desire to reboot his seriously derailed life. Meeting Echo reminds him that life can sparkle with joy and laughter and passion, but can he show the cautious Echo how to love again even as he struggles to trust his own heart?

Enjoy an Excerpt:

“Ranger Echo Rose,” a rumbling voice said.

Taking it slow, she turned in the direction the words came from.

Rey Bowen was looking at her, or rather looking down at her. He wasn’t a giant of a man, just a shade over six feet, but that didn’t stop her from remembering she was at least seven inches shorter and only one hundred twenty pounds. For reasons she was careful not to examine too closely, she’d told herself the breadth of his chest and width of his shoulders were responsible for her unsettling reaction to him.

What was she thinking? Hadn’t she learned, painfully, to keep emotional distance between herself and men? She had, darn it. She’d never drop her guard.

Until she’d done in her ankle, she’d spent much of her time around physical people, most of them men. She still was around more men than women, but in recent months she’d mostly rubbed shoulders with people who spent their days behind desks.

Despite how she’d been forced to earn her living since last summer, she believed she still understood the physical male. When he was around women he was trying to impress, the breed carried himself as if he was a bull elk, strutting a bit, hard muscles pushing against too-tight T-shirts, and gazes giving out bedroom vibes.

Rey did none of those things. Instead, it was as if he’d built an emotional wall around himself. The reason was none of her business, darn it. She had enough to do dealing with her own life.

About the Author:mediakit_authorphoto_hismontanarescueVella Munn freely admits to being a dedicated and sometimes demented fiction writer. She has always been drawn to nature and those who feel at home in it. A career writer, she has had way over 60 books published, most of them romances both past and present. As far as personal statistics go, she has one husband, two sons, four grandchildren, and is owned by two rescue dogs. Home is southern Oregon within a two hour drive of Crater Lake. She frequently visits Montana in her mind and heart.

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Girl in the Water by Dana Marton – Spotlight and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Dana will be awarding a $100 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

mediakit_bookcover_girlinthewaterAfter the tragic death of his family, Ian, fresh home from the Army, is a shadow of his former self. Only his best friend’s disappearance in South America pulls him back from the ledge. He rushes to Brazil, but he gets there too late. The best he can do now is find his friend’s murderers. The single lead in the case is also the single biggest obstacle–Daniela, a mysterious beauty very much in need of protection, with a host of secrets hidden in a dark past. As the two of them track down clues and try to untangle an impossible case, they draw the attention of all the wrong people, and danger follows them back to the US.

Ian wants the murderers. Daniela wants Ian to acknowledge the hot sparks of passion between them. He doesn’t mind breaking rules, just never his own. Rule #1: You don’t seduce the woman you protect

Enjoy an Excerpt:

A couple of boats had been dragged up on the flat of the riverbank. Nobody around. Ian sat in the shade of the largest boat and pretended to be watching the barges and tugboats going past him.

He stole a glance at the house, hoping to spot Finch. Nothing there, but something rising out of the water maybe thirty feet from him caught his attention.

At first, he thought it might be a caiman—South America’s version of an alligator. Caimans were native to the area, although, he had no idea if they lived in this part of this particular river.

But instead, out of the river, rose a young woman.

She seemed to be struggling with…an anaconda?

When the shiny black, long body wrapped around hers, Ian moved, ready to dive into the water to help her, but she had the upper hand and dragged the wriggling beast toward shore with a triumphant smile, and he could see that she had a giant eel.

He couldn’t take his eyes off the thing. The eel stretched as long as the woman was tall, over five feet. They wrestled in the mud, the scene stunningly primal and elemental.

She had a piece of rag tied around her small breasts, and another around her slim waist, covering only the private parts of her body. She was the most stunning sight he’d ever seen, long dark hair streaming down in wet rivulets. A goddess risen.

A goddess in mortal struggle.

His western sensibilities pushed him to run and help, but the woman and the eel and their battle seemed somehow the spirit of the Amazon itself, and he felt like an interloper. He felt that he couldn’t take the woman’s triumph away from her.

And she did win, dragging the eel to shore, grabbing a rock the next second and smashing the eel’s head. The eel was still squirming when, with the same, sharp-edged rock, she gutted the thing, dumping the insides back into the river. She was not a peaceful goddess.

She washed the eel efficiently, then picked up the carcass and carried it, staggering under the weight, up the tall, steep bank, and in through the back door of the house Ian had been watching.

Ian’s chin might have dropped a little. Or a lot. In fact, he felt as if his chin just hit his lap.

Who on earth was she?

About the Author: authorpicNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dana Marton has thrilled and entertained millions of readers around the globe with her fast-paced stories about strong women and honorable men who fight side by side for justice and survival.

Kirkus Reviews calls her writing “compelling and honest.” RT Book Review Magazine said, “Marton knows what makes a hero…her characters are sure to become reader favorites.” Her writing has been acclaimed by critics, called, “gripping,” “intense and chilling,” “full of action,” “a thrilling adventure,” and wholeheartedly recommended to readers. Dana is the winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, the Readers’ Choice Award, and Best Intrigue, among other awards. Her book, TALL, DARK, AND LETHAL was nominated for the prestigious Rita Award. DEATHSCAPE reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Romantic Suspense Bestseller list.

Dana has a Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction, and is continuously studying the art and craft of writing, attending several workshops, seminars and conferences each year. Her number one goal is to bring the best books she possibly can to her readers.

Keeping in touch with readers is Dana’s favorite part of being an author. Please connect with her via her web site or her Facebook page.

Having lived around the world, Dana currently creates her compelling stories in a small and lovely little town in Pennsylvania. The fictional town of her bestselling Broslin Creek series is based on her real life home where she fights her addictions to reading, garage sales, coffee and chocolate. If you know a good twelve-step program to help her with any of that, she’d be interested in hearing about it! 🙂

***Visit Dana’s website to read the first chapters of her books!***

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