Winter Blogfest: Darlene Deluca

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one digital copy of the author’s Christmas novella Cookie Collision, and one digital copy of the author’s Christmas novel Christmas at Tall Pines

Darlene’s Sugar Cookies by Darlene Deluca

Christmas time is cookie time! I’m not a cook, and not really a baker, either. But I do enjoy making holiday iced sugar cookies. It’s the one thing I can always take to holiday gatherings and be relatively sure they’ll be a hit!

I start several weeks in advance because I need a lot of them, and they have to be made in three stages. Mix and refrigerate, cut and bake, then frost. But they can’t be frozen after they’re frosted. It’s a process!

When I get started, I take over the whole kitchen and keep everyone else out. No breathing in the kitchen when I’m working on cookies! 🙂  Some years I stick with traditional red, white and green. Sometimes I add blue or pink if those colors are trending as Christmas colors. Occasionally, I add some dark chocolate. This year, I’ll probably use more white because my daughter is expecting and trying to stay away from food colorings.

I make the cookies for lots of special events, including Super Bowls (Kansas City Chiefs), and other holidays. As I’m in the process this year, I’ll also whip up a few sea creatures, probably whales, for a baby shower. What’s fun is that I can find a cookie cutter for just about any occasion and can always make the perfect color to match!

Hope you get all your favorite cookies and goodies this holiday season!

Here’s my recipe:

Darlene’s Sugar Cookies

Mix dry ingredients separately:

3 1/2 cups Flour

2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1 tsp Baking Soda

 

In mixing bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups Sugar

Two sticks Butter, melted (1 cup)

1 tsp Vanilla

Two eggs

 

Add dry ingredients to mixture until well blended.

Chill at least one hour. (I usually refrigerate overnight then set the dough out for about an hour before working with it.)

To bake:

Preheat Oven to 375

Roll dough to 1/8” – 1/4” thickness. Cut into desired shapes.

Bake 5 to 7 minutes depending on your oven and how soft or crunchy you like your cookies.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies.

 

Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting.

But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over.

Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for.

Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed her.

As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?

 

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction that explores relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.

Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page.

The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

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Winter Blogfest: Becky Flade

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the author’s latest release, the romantic thriller Beautiful Dangerous

 

Butter Cake and Fudge by Becky Flade 

I am a very good baker. Not a bad cook, don’t get me wrong, but I slay at baking. Every year, I bake throughout the holiday season. Friends and family alike look forward to receiving my baked treats. And debate on what is better: My Butter Cake or My Fudge.

Everyone knows what fudge is, but not until two years ago, did I learn butter cake, as I know it and make it, is regional to northeast Philadelphia.

What makes the Philly butter cake distinctive is the bottom cakey layer and the top gooey layer. Oh yeah, I said GOOEY. My butter cake is award winning – sure it was the office Christmas party bakeoff but it took first place, so it counts.

Becky’s Butter Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease a 13×9 baking pan with butter (I often use a disposable tin with lid for easy gifting)

Bottom layer:

1 box of yellow cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines Butter Golden)

1 stick (or 8 oz) softened, salted butter

1 large egg (room temperature)

1) In a large bowl, combine and mix the above until it is consistency of dough.
2) Press evenly into the prepared pan.

Top layer:

1 package softened Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 stick (or 8 oz) softened, salted butter

2 large eggs (room temperature)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 16-oz box of confectioner’s sugar

1) In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
2) Add butter, eggs, and vanilla, beat until smooth.
3) Slowly beat in the sugar until smooth and thick.
4) Pour evenly over the first layer.
5) Bake for 35-40 minutes.

The toothpick test DOES NOT WORK. This cake is done when the corners are golden and crusty; the center should be jiggly. Cool completely in the tin and serve from same.

It can be halved to make two 8×8 square tins. I recommend baking them both at the same time on the same shelf and checking it 5-10 minutes sooner.

If you’d like to compare and contrast my 2 most popular holiday bakes – here’s the fudge recipe:

Becky’s Fudge

Line a 9×9 pan, tin, etc., with parchment paper (I use a glass casserole dish)

1 14-oz can sweetened, condensed milk

18 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Dash of salt

1½ tsp vanilla extract

1) In a medium saucepan, over low heat, stir the milk, chocolate chips, and salt until fully melted and smooth.
2) Add vanilla and stir until it begins pulling away from the sides.
3) Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Cool completely, remove from pan, and cut into squares.

The trick is to stir the chocolate constantly. Never let it sit. It will burn.

I’ve mixed this up with peanut butter chips and mint chips in the past (1 part flavored to 2 parts chocolate). You can also add toppings, like caramel sauce drizzle or crushed candy canes. The sky is the limit. Obviously, a lot of people add nuts. I like to blitz Werther hard candies in my food processor and sprinkle them over the top before completely cooled. Yum.

Store both the cake and the fudge in air-tight containers. Christmas themed tins are an excellent option for gifting. But a plain tin with a pretty ribbon & bow are just as effective. And doesn’t require washing when the goodies are gone.

If you’re ever in the market for a gingerbread cookie recipe which doesn’t suck, hit me up. I’ve got one. And my shortbread biscuits are pure heaven.

What’s your favorite holiday goodie? Comment below for a chance to win my latest book.

If you try one of, or both of, the recipes above, please send me an email or find me on FB, Twitter, etc., and let me know what you think.

Happy Holidays!

 

It’s exquisite torture watching you. For your sake, I hope you meet my expectations… Public Defender Hannah Patel is being stalked by a man obsessed with her. Detective Doyle Murphy hopes to redeem himself by protecting Hannah, but neither expect their forced closeness to create genuine feelings. Their burgeoning romance pushes her stalker over the edge. Will love or madness win?

 

A city girl, born and bred, Becky tends to set her stories in and around southeast Pennsylvania, or at least has a character or two from the area. She wrote her first book in kindergarten and even then, her style leaned toward suspense. In addition to being a mother and grandmother, she works as a legal professional when she’s not writing, reading, or dancing. And Becky’s proud to tell people she’s making her own dreams come true…one happily ever after at a time.

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Winter Blogfest: Katie Groom

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Gibbous Moon by Katie Groom. 

Adjusting to Being Alone During the Holidays by Katie Groom

It can be very tough to be alone during the holiday season. When every ad is centered on family (not to mention that every book and movie set during these times seems to be focused on finding love or reconnecting with family or both).

Being that I am single and live nearly 1000 miles from my family, I was very worried about how I would handle my first holiday season alone. I had always been close with my family and we had plenty of traditions. And even though I was planning a trip between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was still going to leave those major days vacant of plans and full of longing for my family.

Leading up to the first major US holiday of the season, I had found myself wondering if I would be longing for the embarrassing Thanksgiving tradition of my mother going around the table and forcing each of us to declare at least one thing that we are thankful for that year. The aim was always for one of us to make her cry with what we said it was never difficult; our mom has always been emotional, so it would have just taken one of us saying that we were thankful for our family.

What I decided to do for that first Thanksgiving alone was start my own tradition. I decided that I wasnt going to worry about the big meal, but rather, I was going to do something outside of the home. There was a Van Gogh immersive exhibit that was open. Seeing as I was already a fan of Van Goghs work, I decided to partake in that, and it was a wonderful experience! I was actually grateful to have the day off the job I had at the time was actually the first for me that allowed me to have holidays free. It was the first time that I was actually doing something for me.

From that experience, I decided that, whenever possible, I would take these important days days that it would be difficult to be alone and do something that brought me joy. Sometimes its been activities such as seeing a movie or cooking my favorite meal or reading a holiday themed book. Other times its been serving others a hot meal or spending the entire holiday season buying and wrapping gifts for children that would otherwise not receive them. Other times it was something else entirely.

On one hand, Ive started to treat these days just like they were any other days of the year, but, in another way, Ive chosen to create my own traditions. And, if youre someone that is dreading being alone on the holidays, I recommend that you, too, create some sort of new tradition for yourself, if you can.

Werewolf and professor of literature Hugh spent nearly 200 years to find his soulmate, Zoie, but others betrayed him, working with rivals to take her away in only an instant. Revenge was swift and unsatisfying. More people need to pay for what was stolen from Hugh.

Zoie’s death had been orchestrated by powerful beings in the supernatural world. Exacting revenge will require precision and planning.

Biding his time before acting, Hugh reverts to the patterns that finding true love had disrupted. Walking through life in a fog, he does his best to appear as if he is moving forward, though nothing feels the same.

As Hugh tries to start the next chapter in his life with Rosalie, he is haunted by the memory of Zoie. The literature professor cringes every time he’s reminded that Rosalie doesn’t like to read, but he tells himself that opposites should attract. That Rosalie can patch the hole left in his heart when Zoie died. His revenge will take time, and wallowing in grief won’t help.

Just as Hugh is still focused on revenge, his enemies are still plotting to harm Hugh further. It’s dangerous to oppose a bereaved werewolf, but even werewolves can be hurt.

Katie Groom grew up in rural Pennsylvania, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from PITT and her master’s in Employment and Labor Relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2016, she decided to move to Alabama in order to avoid as much snow as possible (and to advance her career in Human Resources).

When she isn’t working, Katie enjoys reading, writing, jokingly critiquing movies and TV, and campaigning that the plural of moose should be meese. She also loves to take in live music (especially Hanson) and traveling, with the goal of reaching each of the continents. Katie’s favorite pastime, however, is spending time with her beloved Shih tzu, Delta.

 

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Winter Blogfest: Rachael Heinan and Kimberly Metcalf

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a free eBook of our debut novel Yours, Always.

 

A Chill Is in the Air by Rachael Heinan and Kimberly Metcalf

 

I love the theme of hot and sultry summer nights and in romance novels there are so many steamy places to go, especially when the least amount of clothes can be worn and you’re still decent. Or not decent. Let’s say semi-decent.

However, I am a huge fan of Regency Romances.

The longing, the wanting, being covered from head to toe. The flash of an ankle can causeheart palpitations. The winter scene and winter settings feel to me a lot like a Regency Romance. You’re bundled up, nary an inch of skin is showing, so when a glove is removed or a sweater comes off the sweet longing, reminiscent of my beloved Regency’s, comes to mind. There’s so much that can be done when you have cold weather and afireside when all you want to do is cozy up under a blanket and get warm in any way possible, and possibly fall in love.

My favorite Regency winter themed book is Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypass, a must read.

Kim and I are currently writing book number two in our Amber Falls series. It’s a contemporary romance and the setting is winter. Our book is after Christmas, but boy do I love a good Christmas romance novel. There’s something about wanting to be with the ones you love this time of year more than any time of year that makes it the perfect time and place to fall in love.

There’s a certain joy that comes with Christmas. The feeling of goodwill, the sense of togetherness and wanting to share your joyful spirit with others. Wanting to share pretty much everything: your thoughts, your feelingsyour gift list. Wanting to be nice but secretly being just a little bit naughty.

The first book in the Amber Falls series, Yours, Always, takes place just as the weather is starting to turn cold. There might be a few warmer fall days, but the chill is in the air. And when the chill is in the air the need to heat things up intensifies, and that can only mean good things in a romance novel.

 

An action movie star needs a small-town love to remind him how to live life, off script.

Greyson Atwood, Hollywood movie star, and his best friend Prudence Hardwick have been dancing around their feelings for each other since high school.

Fresh off a Spirit Award win for Best Actor, and despite the awards buzz in the air, Greyson finds himself burned-out on the Hollywood vibe. He knows his hometown of Amber Falls, Massachusetts is the best place to rest and recover, and it doesn’t help that his pent-up feelings for Prudence have simmered to the surface one too many times to ignore anymore.

Greyson decides he has no choice but to go to Prudence. As the town prepares for the annual Fall Festival, Greyson and Prudence finally have the time to navigate their deep bond of friendship that goes back to their childhood and find out if that bond is enough to build the rest of their lives on, together.

 

Rachael Heinan‘s love of books started at a young age. Her love of romance novels started in university when she couldn’t stand to read another textbook and picked up her first pure romance.

Rachael co-authors with Kimberly Metcalf. They met in the corporate world and their friendship flowed seamlessly into the real world.

Rachael lives in Minnesota, USA with her husband, daughter and 4 cats.

Kimberly Metcalf

Kimberly is an avid reader who managed to convince her best friend they could put their stories on paper. She is so excited to share them with you.

Based in North Dakota, USA, when not writing she can be found spending time with her family, cooking, or curled up in her favorite armchair with a book.

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Winter Blogfest: Barbara Robinson

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $25 Amazon E-gift card as a prize to one of the readers who visits the LASR Winterfest blog and comments on my post.

 

A Yule Log on the Eve of the Winter Solstice by Barbara Robinson

As a Christmas tree farmer’s daughter, I am fonder than most of holiday greenery. I still make my own wreaths and garlands, and I still go out to harvest a Christmas tree from our land each year. My husband and I bought a red pick-up back in April, and in a week or two we’ll be coming down off Folly Mountain looking like a 2023 version of those little trucks that decorate throw pillows and wall plaques in Christmas discount stores this time of year. Finding and decorating a Christmas tree is a cherished tradition, and I could write pages about the history, symbolism and beauty of evergreens, but today I thought Id write about the yule log, and the part that this lesser-known tradition plays in my own holiday celebrations.

In its earliest guise, a yule log was a massive thing, dragged into a hall at the darkest time of the year, and meant to burn all through the yuletide celebrations. Pre-dating electricity by more than a millennium, the light from the yule log would have been an important reminder that that sun’s strength would soon increase, and light and life return to the land. Many charmand traditions grew up around the log, like saving a small piece from the previous year to light the new yule log, and some of these have survived with variations into modern times. Now, yule logs might be made from confectionary, or they might be ceramic decorations with electric lights, but some people still use an actual log, decorated with candles and greenery.

We use a birch log, in part because the white birch bark is decorative when paired with greenery and red or white candles, but also because it is deeply symbolic. The rune representing birch is Berkana (Beorc), and it is associated with fertility and new beginnings, holding the promise of the new year ahead. We usually decorate our yule log and leave it on display, then remove the greenery on the eve of the winter solstice so we can light the candles without risk of stray spark igniting the tinder-dry boughs and pinecones. We have been using the same piece of birch for many years now, saving the log and replacing the candles and greenery each yuletide.

After supper, I will light the candles, and watch them burn down until they are spent. In early Anglo-Saxon England, the eve of the winter solstice was known as Modranigt, the night of the Mothers, and it was a time to pay homage to the female ancestral guardian spirits who watch over families and are concerned with fate and destiny. I usually leave a small offering of food for these guardian spirits, in gratitude for their care and protection throughout the year. Though not actively scrying, I think about the year to come as I watch the yule log, and ideas will often come to me as I watch the candle flames dance. Once the candles have burned away, the yule log is safely stowed away for the next year’s celebrations.

For centuries, Gamekeepers have used their magical abilities to create a buffer between the creatures who dwell in the enchanted forest and the sleepy coastal town that sits in its shadow. When Gamekeeper Stan Ross’s magic begins to fail, he must find out what went wrong, then fix it before the two worlds collide. His hit or miss magic has already led to a few close calls so he journeys to the Sacred Isle searching for answers and advice. Finding a cure proves elusive—until Stan encounters a kitchen witch who captivates him body and soul. Lynnette Peters is healing from her own wounds, however, and it isn’t clear whether she’s ready to open herself to the possibility—or the peril—of love.

 

Barbara Robinson is a debut paranormal romance author who writes novels and short stories with an otherworldly flair. She is an unrepentant optimist who believes that lasting love is possible, and her stories feature happily-ever-after endings.

Most of her writing includes an element of magic, rooted in the cultural and spiritual traditions of pre-Christian Europe. She finds inspiration in myths and folktales, poems and ballads, historical sources and academic writing.

She also draws inspiration from nature. Barbara lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, in the shadow of ancient mountains that lie along the Bay of Fundy coast. New Scotland has a magic all its own, with mist covered valleys and wild, windswept shorelines. These rugged vistas shape her story settings, while providing the perfect backdrop for life with her husband, three hounds and a dragon (Pogona Vitticeps).

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Winter Blogfest: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an Ebook or paperback of The Scarred Santa.

 

Sinner, Saint, and Santa by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

​My uncle, Roy Sontheimer, was both sinner and saint, a mailman who often delivered food or other necessary items to family members or anyone in need. He liked his beer and drank vast quantities of it each evening. Like the rest of the family, he could out curse a sailor on shore leave. He could be loud, even boisterous, but he had a generous heart.

​In 1972, he filled Santa’s shoes as well. After the meat packing plant where my dad had worked since high school, with time out for this Army service closed, our lives changed. After a stint driving a candy and tobacco delivery truck through northeast Kansas, my dad used his experience to become a United States Department of Agriculture meat inspector. Problem was that the jobs were not anywhere close to my hometown of St. Joseph, MO so we moved to the far southwest corner of the state.

​Until then, I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood with family, including grandparents and cousins within a few blocks. We left behind our vintage brick home and exchanged it for a mobile home in a trailer park.

​The first Christmas away from home loomed. We had a small tree in our new location, but we would return to St. Joe for the holiday. We would stay at Granny’s house, and she didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Old school to the core, Granny decorated but no tree and she was adamant her custom wouldn’t change. We could celebrate the birth of Christ without one.

​Disappointed did not begin to describe my emotional state. My parents warned me not to complain so I didn’t, at least not when anyone could hear me. We arrived late one December night, a few days before Christmas. When we carried our bags upstairs to sleep in the room my father and uncle had shared as boys, a Douglas fir waited. The crisp evergreen scent greeted us, and I danced with delight.

​I thanked Granny for relenting, but she shook her head. “It wasn’t me – your Uncle Roy said those children have to have a tree. He’s the one who brought it here.”

​We joyfully decorated it the next day, but my uncle’s Santa role had not yet ended.

​Granny always gave me one article of clothing plus a color book with a fresh box of crayons. It was enough and I had no complaints.

​On Christmas morning, however, there was more. I received a doll, the expected gifts, and a small paperback Merriam Webster dictionary as well as a folder with notebook paper. At eleven years old, I yearned to become a writer so these were ideal gifts. I rose from the mess of discarded wrapping paper and ribbons to hug my grandmother but again, she shook her head.

​“I asked your uncle to my Christmas shopping and told him what to buy,” she told me. “He brought all that.”

​As an adult, as a much-published author and writer, I still wonder how my insightful uncle knew the right gift for me. I loved the dictionary so much I carried it with me to school every day, used it to learn new words, and language. Although the one he gave me is long gone, I have a facsimile of it resting on my desk. Merriam Webster hasn’t changed their basic design in years.

​In the decades of Christmas gifts since, I’ve received many presents I loved and some I didn’t like but the simple gift of a dictionary for a young girl with dreams of becoming a writer still resonates. It rocks as much now as it ever did.

​That gift symbolizes for me the true spirit of holiday giving. Given from a generous, loving heart, my dictionary became one of my best gifts of all time, thanks to my uncle, sinner, saint, and sometimes Santa Claus.

Once handsome Rafe Sullivan is left scarred, injured, and with PTSD from his Marine Corps service in Afghanistan. Returning to civilian life is far from smooth, and the burn scars on his right side are extensive. Although he lives close to family, he lives a solitary life and changes jobs more often than most people change their socks. A temporary job as Santa at the mall is presented, but Rafe first rebels, then relents. His Santa gig affects his PTSD. Then he meets Sheena Dunmore. When she doesn’t run from his scars or issues, she intrigues him. An unmasking by some rowdy children is a test of his stamina and spirit. His greatest fear is fire. Will Rafe conquer the fear so he can move forward into the new life he desires?

 

From an early age, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy scribbled stories, inspired by the books she read, the family tales she heard, and even the conversations she overheard at the beauty shop where her grandmother had a weekly standing appointment. She was the little girl who sat at the feet of the elders and listened.

She spent her early career in broadcast radio, interviewing everyone from politicians to major league baseball players and writing ad copy. In those radio years she began to write short stories and articles, some of which found publication. In 1994 she married Roy Murphy and they had three children, all now grown-up. Lee Ann spent years in the newspaper field as both a journalist and editor and was widowed in 2019.

In late 2020, she hung up her editor’s hat to return to writing fiction. A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, she lives and works in the rugged, mysterious, and beautiful Missouri Ozarks.

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Winter Blogfest: Nan Reinhardt

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Comment and be entered to win e-book copy of Christmas in River’s Edge

Repeat the Sounding Joy…

I love to sing. I can’t sing. I mean I have a truly terrible voice, but I love to sing. Especially at Christmas. So Pandora’s Christmas Classics starts playing at our house before Thanksgiving and NPR gets switched to the Christmas station on the car radio as soon as B105.7 becomes all Christmas music all the time. I’ve played James Taylor’s holiday CD so many times I’m surprised it isn’t worn through and at least four times a week, I hunt for the Eagles version of “Please Come Home for Christmas” on YouTube and play it while I’m working.

Hello, I’m Nan and I am a Christmas music junkie.

It’s not just the holiday tunes that we all know and love—you know, the ones that send warm little snuggly hugs throughout your whole being? “Winter Wonderland.” “The Christmas Song” (Nat King Cole’s version, of course). “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” “Jingle Bells.” Even the more up-to-date ones like “All I Want for Christmas” and Leonard Cohen’s haunting “Hallelujah,” make me happy.

But it’s the Advent singing that takes me into the holidays with the gladdest heart. All the lovely carols we sing as a part of Sunday worship in December and the special music. “Mary, Did You Know?” “Who Comes This Night?” “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” And of course, “Oh, Holy Night.” My Aunt Ruth Audrey used to sing that beautiful carol every Christmas Eve while my cousin Susie accompanied her on the piano. Aunt Ruth had a gorgeous contralto that sent shivers down your spine when she hit that first “Oh night divine…” As a kid, that’s when I knew it was truly, truly Christmas.

I miss her. I miss those family Christmas Eves and the singing around the piano and lighting the advent candles and Mom reading to us from the second chapter of the gospel of Luke and my grandfather’s turkey dinner on Christmas day. I do what I can to make our Christmases as special as they felt when I was a kid, but even today, it’s the music—the carols, the songs about snow and pie and winter wonderlands and silver bells that truly bring the spirit of the holiday to life for me.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours and if you need a little holiday boost, turn on some Christmas music and sing along. Your heart will thank you.

“You can go home again…

After a painful divorce from her high school sweetheart, triplet Jenny Weaver returns to River’s Edge with her young son. While happy to be reunited with her sisters and working at the family’s marina, she has no intention of jumping into the dating pool, especially going into the holidays. Then Gabe Dawson, once a shy nerd who tutored her in history classes, arrives home transformed into a handsome hunk who makes her pulse race.

Archeologist and history professor Gabe Dawson thought he’d long ago outgrown his teen crush on Jenny. Back in town for a few months to help his mom post surgery, he can’t resist reaching out to Jenny. She’s as beautiful, warm, and funny as he remembered and soon Gabe is reconsidering his future.

Gabe is determined to seize this second chance, but can he convince a very wary Jenny that a globe-trotter is ready to come home for good this Christmas?”

Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today bestselling author of sweet, small-town romantic fiction for Tule Publishing. Her day job is working as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader, however, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten and is still writing, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, woman in her prime. Nan lives in the Midwest with her husband of 50 years, where they split their time between a house in the city and a cottage on a lake. Talk to Nan at: nan@nanreinhardt.com

https://nanreinhardt.com/
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https://tulepublishing.com/books/christmas-in-rivers-edge/

Winter Blogfest: Helen C. Johannes

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of “Bloodstone”.  (US only.)

 

Christmas Quiche by Helen C. Johannes

Want to use up some of that leftover holiday ham and make a dish that looks as festive as the season? My family’s spinach quiche is a year-round favorite, but the colors, flavors, and warm-the-tummy satisfaction especially suit the season.

Crust: Buy a plain pastry crust or use this recipe to make one from scratch.

1 cup flour

¼ tsp. salt

4 tablespoons shortening (plain or butter flavored)

¼ cup cold water, plus more by teaspoon as needed

Blend the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add water and blend until mixture can be formed into a ball. Roll out into a circle and press into a 9-inch pie pan, fluting the rim. Set aside.

Filling:

2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach, microwaved 1 ½ minute with 1//2 cup water and drained and set aside

1 small can of mushrooms, drained and chopped

1/3-1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup chopped ham (or more if desired)

1 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded cheese (I prefer 6-cheese Italian, but any tasty blend will work)

2 tablespoons flour

½ tsp. salt

Dash pepper

3 eggs

1 cup milk

Combine cheese and flour in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Whisk in milk and seasonings. Stir in tomatoes, mushrooms, ham, and spinach. Using a fork, blend in cheese/flour mixture. Pour everything into pie shell. Bake at 360 degrees F for 1 hour. Let stand a couple of minutes before cutting and serving. Makes 8 generous pieces of green and red and golden deliciousness.

 

What if looking at the face of the man you loved meant death?

Years ago, warrior Durren Drakkonwehr was cursed by a mage. Now feared and reviled as the Shadow Man, he keeps to himself, only going to town to trade rare bloodstones—petrified dragon’s blood—for supplies. Though he hides his face, he can’t hide his heart from the woman who haunts his dreams…
Needing bloodstones for a jewelry commission, Mirianna and her father journey across the dreaded Wehrland where the beast-men roam. When their party is attacked, only the Shadow Man can save them. Strangely drawn to him, Mirianna offers herself in return for her father’s rescue.
Living in the ruined fortress with the Shadow Man, Mirianna slowly realizes that a flesh-and-blood man—not a fiend—hides there in hoods and darkness. But are love and courage enough to lift the curse and restore the man?

 

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

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Winter Blogfest: Marianne Arkins

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $5 Amazon GC. 

Christmas Traditions by Marianne Arkins

I love traditions.  Growing up we had them for every holiday. For Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one package, and it was always new pajamas (that we then wore for sleeping and Christmas morning, of course). We also always got one ornament from my mom, and then when we turned 18, our ornament box was turned over to us so we could have stuff for our own trees in our own homes.

I’ve tried to continue some of those traditions with my own daughter, though her father had some say in things, so it wasn’t always possible.  That said, she always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve and she always got one ornament (still does, actually, even though she’s 24 years-old).

And it’s always ham for Christmas. Period. Never turkey or prime rib or any other type of meat.  Ham.  I put my foot down on that choice.  For me it’s not Christmas without a ham. And potatoes.  My dad used to make his famous (to me, at least) Portuguese stuffing, but my mom and I were the only ones who liked it and, though I tried making it my first Christmas after I was married, it just wasn’t a hit.  I haven’t made it in years…it’s probably the chicken gizzards (yes, really) that folks had an issue with, lol.

Some of the traditions have fallen by the wayside these days.  But we still open a gift on Christmas Eve.  And we still have ham.  Even when it’s just my adult daughter and I celebrating.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

What are some of your holiday traditions?

 

Liv is out to prove her high society fiancé is cheating on her. Can she do it without breaking a nail—or falling in love with Mike, the mechanic?

Olivia “Liv” Leigh, wealthy socialite and spa owner, suspects her fiancé of cheating on her. Drastic steps are required to discover whether appearances are deceiving. And if those steps require a bit of stalking, a change of appearance, a hippo-sized dog named Spike, and sacrificing her manicure to clean house for a sexy-but-sloppy man whose neighbor is determined to break several of the strangest Guinness World Records, why should that be a problem?

Mike Peck, a happily single auto mechanic, is more than content sharing his bachelor pad with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a sneaky ferret. But when a half-crazed woman in a bad wig shows up on his doorstep, what’s a nice guy to do?

Why, invite her in, unknowingly help her in her search for the truth and, in the process, fall head over heels with a woman who’s never been less his type.

 

Marianne is originally from California but currently living in the lovely state of Utah with her daughter, two dogs, two cats and one adorable foster hamster. She can’t imagine a world without romance or not having stories rattling around in her brain. There are nights when she dreams a complete story and watches it acted out in her head. Those are the times she wakes up and grabs for a notepad to jot down the important parts – without turning on the light – and hopes it’s coherent in the morning.

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The Santa Games by Leanne Treese – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Reeling from a broken engagement, Andi Carter swears off men. She quits her job in New York and returns home to figure out next steps. Luckily, she quickly finds a job–one that will take her mind off her ex–as a caretaker for an elderly widower, Liam Quinn. Liam is the owner of Christmastown, a holiday-themed amusement park that shut down years ago. But he’s anxious to reopen it, and Andi, loving the concept, throws herself into helping him. It’s the perfect distraction. Bonus: there are no eligible men for miles.

Until Matt Taylor shows up to audit the park.

Matt is handsome, charming, and full of surprises. Even Liam’s notoriously cranky cat, Claus, likes him. Andi works with Matt on a Christmastown project and platonic feelings turn into a full-fledged crush…maybe a little more. She likes this guy. Unbelievably, Matt seems to like her back.

Only she soon discovers that Matt isn’t who he says he is. So now, Andi has another decision to make—run away and start over—again? Or stay, and hear Matt out? After all, Christmas is the season of miracles…

Enjoy an Excerpt

He leans against the railing, his breath smoky. “We should get to know each other then. You could give me a tour of the town. And I could ask you more about the park’s safety protocols.” He winks. “What do you say?”

What do I say? The hot bachelor I was sure would never come to Christmastown is in front of me. But I came here to avoid dating. I need to find myself again and I’d planned to use every ounce of extra energy I had in reimagining an epic – and very safe – holiday-themed amusement park. So, of course, I know what I should say.

Instead what comes out of my mouth is: “How about tonight?”

About the Author:

Leanne Treese is an award-winning author of women’s fiction and romance. Her books have each independently been described as having “all the feels.” When she’s not writing, Leanne loves running, forcing her family to play board games (Settlers of Catan anyone?), and spoiling her beloved dogs. Leanne’s favorite locations include her backyard, the Jersey shore, and anywhere that sells books or coffee, preferably both. A lifelong learner, Leanne’s dream life would include going back to college and majoring in everything.

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