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 (US Only) of Lord of Druemarwin. 

Pumpkin Pie—Delicious for Christmas and New Year’s, too! by Helen C. Johannes

My family considers pumpkin pie a treat for all cold weather holidays. But our handed-down pie recipe is a custard, fluffy and moist rather than dense and sugared like the ones typically found in stores for the holidays. If you’d like to try something different in the pie department for Christmas, here’s the recipe.

You’ll need three mixing bowls, large, medium, and small, a hand mixer, and a 9-inch pie plate (I use glass), greased.

Prepare the following ingredients:

One unbaked, plain pie shell (I prefer to make mine from scratch, but store-bought is fine)

2 cups mashed pumpkin or one can of plain pumpkin

1 cup milk

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

Separate the eggs, putting three yolks in the large mixing bowl, and three whites in the medium bowl. Using the mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Beat the yolks, then add milk and pumpkin and stir. In the small bowl, combine sugar, salt, and spices. Combine thoroughly with pumpkin mixture. Carefully fold in the beaten egg whites. (Some lumps of white are okay.) Pour into prepared pie shell. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375° and bake 20-25 minutes longer, or until a dinner knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and store in the refrigerator. Perfect with whipped cream on top or vanilla sauce.

Love, honor, family–which do you choose when lives and a kingdom are at stake?
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.

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.


Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: Sadira Stone

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Christmas Rekindled.

The Time Between the Years: Reflections, Predictions, and Lucky Pigs! by Sadira Stone

For those who celebrate, I hope you had a splendid Christmas. Time to take a deep breath and enjoy a moment of quiet before the glitz and clamor of New Year’s Eve.

Though American by birth, I spent thirty years in Germany, where this period is called die Zeit zwischen den Jahren, or “the time between the years,” that quiet period between Christmas and New Year’s when we reflect on the past year while planning our goals for the next.

Why “between the years?” Attached to their old celebrations, Europeans took many years to accept a new start date for the year when they switched to the Gregorian calendar.

Fun fact: This idea of a transitional time between the old year and the new one also exists in the Jewish tradition and even in Ancient Egypt, as this time marked the Nile’s annual flood, more or less.

Nowadays, the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve (Silvester in Germany, for the Saint’s Day that falls on December 31st) is associated with predictions and good luck for the coming year. We’d buy lead-pouring kits (Bleigießen), where you melt and pour a glop of molten lead into water, then interpret the resulting shape to predict what the new year has in store.

In Austria and Southern Germany, this time of year brings noisy parades of scary, costumed figures who drive away evil spirits. That’s why we bang pots and shoot off fireworks on NY Eve—gotta scare away any demons who might pollute the new year.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve/Silverster, the whole neighborhood moves outside at midnight to drink champagne, holler, shoot off bottle rockets, and raise a ruckus. Prost Neu Jahr!

Other German superstition: Don’t hang laundry out to dry during this time or wandering spirits might get caught in your sheets and wreak their revenge on the household. Also, for good luck eat lentil soup, sauerkraut, and fried carp during this time. People give gifts of Glücksbringer, lucky charms like chimney sweeps, ladybugs, lucky pigs, four-leaf clovers, and lucky pennies (1 Euro cent).

So if you want to celebrate the German way, give your friends a chocolate pig or ladybug and wish them “einen guten Rutsch”—a good slide (into the new year.)

And here’s my all-time favorite Germany New Year’s tradition—Germans love to watch a 1963 British comedy short called Dinner for One, with Freddie Finton and May Ward. It’s just 18 minutes long. Watch it—you won’t be sorry!

Bartender River Lundqvist has a damn good reason for hating Christmas. Bangers Tavern is the perfect place to lay low over the holidays—until Charlie walks in. His first encounter with the saucy server nine years ago was utter humiliation. Her reappearance stirs up powerful desires and hopes for a new start. But the timing is all wrong.

Back in Tacoma to care for her estranged dad over the holidays, freelance web designer Charlie Khoury braces herself for the suckiest Christmas ever. A temporary job at Bangers Tavern gives her a chance to escape Dad’s criticism and blow off some steam. But why does the hunky bartender seem to hate her?

A pretend girlfriend is just what River needs to keep his family off his back—until a kiss under the mistletoe flares hot enough to melt the North Pole. When greedy developers threaten Bangers Tavern, River and Charlie must team up to save it. Their sizzling chemistry feels like the real thing—but everyone knows rebound relationships don’t last.

Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and the steamiest Christmas miracle ever.

Award-winning contemporary romance author Sadira Stone spins steamy, smoochy tales set in small businesses—a quirky bookstore, a neighborhood bar, a vintage boutique… Her stories highlight found family, friendship, and the sizzling chemistry that pulls unlikely partners together. When she emerges from her writing cave in Las Vegas, Nevada (which she seldom does), she can be found in belly dance class, or strumming her ukulele, perhaps exploring the West with her charming husband, or cooking up a storm, and always gobbling all the romance books. For a guaranteed HEA (and no cliffhangers!) visit Sadira at

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Buy the book at Books2Read.

Winter Blogfest: Chloe Holiday

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

Leave a comment for a chance to win an Audio Review copy of A Boy & his Dog! Giveaway Codes are only for listening inside of the Authors Direct mobile apps (not Audible) and can only be redeemed at (Note: Authors Direct is currently only available for users in the United States, EU, UK, Australia, and Canada on iOS and Android (non-Kindle) mobile devices and does not support direct MP3 download, playback via desktop computers, etc.)

Tangerines and Gingerbread by Chloe Holiday

The sharp tang of tangerines and gingerbread always takes me back to the Christmases of my childhood. Back then, tangerines were a special, seasonal treat that Santa always tucked way down into the toe of our stockings. Now, one can get citrus all year, but the scent of oranges still conjures memories of Christmas morning, each of us kids trying to peel the fruit in one long slice, before we washed sticky hands and headed out for sledding.

We spent hours flying down the long hill, the dog chasing behind us. Finally, soggy but happy, we’d tromp home and sit at the long kitchen table, legs swinging beneath, and wrap our hands around mugs of hot cocoa with marshmallows while we debated whether gingerbread men were best crisp or dunked.

Some years we’d travel but Mom always brought a tin of gingerbread, and Santa always found us no matter where we were. Our stockings would magically appear, along with a candy cane and the treasured tangerine.

When I had my own children, I was sure to bake gingerbread cookies with them. Now that they’re older, they still ask, “Mom, are you baking gingerbread this year?” The answer’s always yes.

Here’s my grandmother’s recipe for gingerbread!

Holiday Gingerbread Boys

1 cup shortening

1 egg

1 cup sugar

2 T vinegar

1 cup molasses

1 ½ tsp baking soda

5 cups flour

1 T ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

½ tsp salt

Cream shortening, sugar, and salt. Stir in egg, molasses, and vinegar; beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and combine with molasses mixture. An electric mixer is ideal, since the dough will be stiff and sticky. Chill 3 hours.

On lightly floured surface, roll out a grapefruit-sized ball of dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters dipped into flour, and place an inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes, cool a couple of minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, decorate with confectioner’s sugar frosting to “glue” on red hots, sprinkles, crushed candy cane, chocolate chips, or whatever else you desire. Let dry, then store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week (in theory—they won’t last!). Makes 8 dozen small cookies.

Happy Holidays!


Hurt and humiliated by her boyfriend’s cheating, Farrah ducks into a bar—and goes home with Caleb for a round of incendiary revenge sex. Horrified when she later finds out she was mistaken, Farrah sneaks out.

When Caleb wakes up alone, he has to see her again, but all he has is a single mitten…

Finders, Keepers is a fast, fun novella: a sexy modern Cinderella story with a dash of humor, plenty of spice, and NO CLIFFHANGERS!

Chloe is a military physician-turned-novelist who writes the things she loves to read: steamy, fun stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, smart women and men who aren’t jerks. About friendships, whether it’s close women or a good bromance. She wants all the feels: the thrill of a smoldering gaze or the barest brush of fingertips, the shocked gasp at the underhanded villain, the angst of heartbreak, the joy of reunion, and of course, happily ever after!

Chloe enjoys delivering a sneak peek into intriguing scenarios, drawing from her background (military personnel, medicine, aviation) as well as other cultures like Greece. A bit of danger always gets her going, so many of her Romances have a suspense subplot.

She hates to read the same old thing, with only the names and places changed, so her goal is to bring folks a fresh, fun, new story every time, with NO CLIFFHANGERS!

More than anything, she wants to craft a rollicking, great story readers can’t put down, one where love prevails in the end, one that will whisk people away from their own tribulations.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: Megan Slayer

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a necklace and earrings made by the author!

Holiday Movies by Megan Slayer


I’m a sucker for those cornball holiday movies most people probably don’t like. I love the old guard ones, sure, but there’s something fun about the cornball ones you can find all over cable TV. I thought this year, I’d highlight some of my favorite ones. Why not? I tend to binge them in July and get a tad sick of them by November, but hey, everyone’s got to do what they’ve got to do. These aren’t in any particular order, and I know I’ll miss a few. That’s how this works. So here’s my list in no particular order.

A Christmas Kiss – I don’t know what it is about this one, but it’s corny and sweet, but I love it. Plus, I love seeing the woman who played the kick-butt lawyer on Law and Order having a turn as a baddie. It’s fun.

Christmas in Evergreen – there’s a spirit of anything is possible in this one. I love it.

A Very Merry Mix-Up – traveling doesn’t have to be bad, even if it starts out that way.

The Nine Lives of Christmas – how can you not love a movie with firefighters and cats? I mean, orange cats even! I love it.

A Castle for Christmas – How can you go wrong with Brooke Shields and Carey Elwes? And kilts!

A Christmas Kiss II – because the baddie has to have a happy Christmas, too and there needs to be more kisses!

Naughty or Nice – I love a good struggle between the good guy, the bad boy and everyone learning a lesson. This one hits the spot.

Hats Off to Christmas – she’s got to convince the owner of the Christmas store not to sell and to give her a try with running it. It’s a great can-do story.

Christmas Belle – sort of a twist on Beauty and the Beast but Napa Wine country style. She’s got to get a mansion ready for sale and he’s not sure he wants to let her go. Plus, Christmas.

A Royal Christmas – first, I can’t get enough of his accent and second, her dress is beautiful. Plus, it’s pure cornball romance and wonderful.

A Wish for Christmas – she’s got to stand up for herself and stop letting everyone else take credit. Don’t we all understand that?

I know I called many of these are cornball, but it’s in the most loving fashion. I write romance and I love romance. I love reading about it or watching it. So this list is all out of love. But I know I forgot some. What’ve you got? What are your favorite cheesy Christmas or holiday movies? I want to know!


Two men, one kid and the frayed nerves that come with the holidays…can they make it through to Christmas without a blow-up?

Colt Harrison knew when he met Ashley Willis that he’d found the one man for him. He loves Ashley’s son, Wyatt, as if he were his own son. But the stress of living together, compounded with buying a home and adopting pets has worn him down…not to mention the aggravation that comes with the diner he owns. He wants to make Christmas special for his family, but how can they have a great holiday when Colt’s never home?

Ashley’s got a two-week vacation from his job at the elementary school teaching art. All he wants is time with Colt and Wyatt. He loves Colt, but not the long hours spent at the diner, especially around the holidays. Can he be honest about what he wants from Colt and keep the man he loves?

nything is possible if they embrace the magic of Christmas.

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and white hot themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been nominated at the Love Romance Cafe for Best Author, Best Contemporary, Best Ménage, Best BDSM and Best Anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at First For Romance, Amazon, Books 2 Read, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo

Winter Blogfest: Adriana Kraft

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one ebook copy of A Reluctant Santa by Adriana Kraft

A Rough Beginning by Adriana Kraft


When our publisher put out a call for warm fuzzy holiday stories, my husband and I immediately knew we wanted to give a happily ever after to a couple in their fifties. We had a lot of fun with this one, and A Reluctant Santa is the result. Both main characters are so pragmatic and unromantic it sometimes looks like they’ll never figure it out.

Ever since we moved to the southwest, I can’t get my head around the combination of Christmas lights, palm trees, and warm weather. So, we set this story in one of our old haunts, the Lake Como area of St. Paul, MN, where there is definitely a LOT of winter. My own memories have to do with chipping ice dams, but instead we sent them ice skating, and then on a trip even farther north, where there’s some great cross-country skiing, plus a Christmas Eve memory straight out of our past.

We decided against giving them a classic “Meet Cute” – they wouldn’t have known what to do with it. Cliff and Carol have a somewhat rougher beginning…



Set Up: Carol’s best friend, Sue, has invited them both for lunch…

“Damn!” Sue looked at Carol, then at Cliff. “Sorry, I have to run. There’s a crisis at work that apparently only I can solve. Enjoy your lunch. My treat.”

Carol shook her head as Sue scurried off, thrust a handful of bills at the cashier, and exited the restaurant.

Cliff’s soft chuckle redirected her attention. His short salt and pepper beard framed an inquisitive smile.

“I’m surprised Sue stayed as long as she did. You’ve known her much longer than I have. Is she always so obvious?”

“That’s Sue.” Carol absently brushed hair away from her eye. “What you see is what you get. A big heart, and too often more than a bit pushy. But the truest, dearest friend I’ve ever had.”

Cliff nodded. “That’s special. She left before the waiter came back to take our orders. Wonder how much she paid them! Do you want to stay? I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry.” He gave her a sheepish smile. “Besides, sharing a meal that’s already been paid for with an attractive woman who seems as skeptical about this process as me might be an opportunity not to be missed.”

Carol’s breath caught—but she didn’t want to look that interested. She shrugged. “Why not? So you don’t do the so-called blind date adventure often?”

“Never. Until Sue twisted my arm so hard I thought it would break. By the way, I should add, I’m not disappointed I came. You do seem intriguing, and what is there to lose? We have a free meal to share, and who knows what we might discover.

“Sure. We can always walk away and say nice meeting you, have a good day.”

Is it ever too late to find happiness?

They’re in their fifties. Grief-stricken (her) and battle scarred (him) from their previous loves, they don’t want to risk more heartbreak, ever. They’ll have to take it slow, talk it through, test the waters carefully. Can they make it happen at this speed, get it done in a short story, and reap the benefits of sizzling sex at their age? Why not?

Adriana Kraft is the pen name for a married pair of retired professors writing erotic romance together. We like to think we’ve broken the mold for staid, fusty academics, and we hope lots of former profs are enjoying life as much as we are.

Having lived in many states across the Midwest, we now make our home in southern Arizona, where we enjoy hiking, golf, and travel, especially to the many Arizona Native American historical sites.

Together we have published more than fifty romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. Whether readers open our romantic suspense or our erotic romance, they can expect characters they care about, hot sex scenes, and a compelling story.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Books 2 Read.

Winter Blogfest: Janet Yeager

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card. 

Thank You, Gene Kelly by Janet Yeager

What a glorious feeling

Perhaps. Gene Kelly’s movies did—after all—bookend our immigration.  

On the night before our departure to America, in a gilded London theater, my lovely wifeMaria’s head bobs to Gershwin’s score as Gene and Leslie Caron—chic and lithe—dance and sing their way across Paris. I envy his joie de vivre.

Later, as we walk to our hotel, Maria, humming the score, extends her elegant legs in athoroughly Parisian pose. We’ll be Americans in Los Angeles,” she says. “Perhaps Gene willwrite an enchanting sequel.”  

The move’s opportunities present unexpected challenges. Our home isn’t The City of Angels, but a rough-hewn, brawling railroad hub nicknamed “Stumptown,” where I find work as a locomotive engineer.

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is the first movie we see in our New World. After buying the soundtrack, I often come home to find Maria twirling an umbrella, tap dancing, and singing along with Gene, Debbie, and Donald.

We delight in our beautiful surroundings, but we also face sadness. After the first snowfall, Leslieour beloved long-legged kittendied after being mauled.

Then, our record player broke. No more music. No more dance. No more singing in the rain. Our house grew quiet.

While on a layover, I spy a sleek two-piece hi-fi in a store window and make an easy purchase.

The scrawny feline in the railroad’s roundhouse laps diesel fuel. He’ll prove to be a tougher sell.

He seems determined to make a go of his life in his own way. Valiantly shaking off the bitter cold and snow, he resists my enticements of milk and cans of fish. After some consideration, he decides I’m worthy and strokes against my leg, leaving a smear of motor fuelon my coveralls.

I poke holes into a scrapped, dented shoebox. Grabbing the hissing and yowling creature, I close the lid, tying a string around the box to keep him secure.

Given his piteous crying, he and I’ll be in for a long fourhour journey aboard the locomotive.

The hi-fi appropriates the entire trunk and back seat of our ’48 Nash. The kitten sleeps in his box next to me on the front seat.

Like a peddler with a sack, I wrestle the boxes across the newly-fallen snow, praying that Maria will be asleep.  

Turning on the Christmas tree lights, I silently set up the stereo cabinets and hold onto the shoebox.

Then, finding what I hope will bring a smile to my sweet Maria’s face, I set the stylusdown on the record and turn up the volume. Gene warbles a familiar tune.
I wait for my glorious ballerina to appear.

A tousled head peers around the corner.

Maria pirouettes across the floor as tears stream down her face.

Going to the stereo to replay the song, she turns as the kitten mewls in frustration. Opening the box, she nuzzles him, whispering, “Gene, you’re my Gene!

Love’s a glorious feeling. Thank you, Gene.


When teenaged misfit Kory Mowat violates Norway’s Resistance’s codes of audacity and silence, he and his brothers by honor learn hard truths about their friendship. The occupation of Norway by the Germans upends Kory’s mapped-out life. Joining the Norwegian Resistance and using codes from a game called Solsvik Bridge, he and his friends smuggle munitions and pass information that they place inside German propaganda. But when he and his Nazi-collaborator brother vie for the attentions of an unscrupulous girl, Kory’s naivete and combative rivalry blind him to what he promised to uphold. Just when he thinks he has made it and that he and his friends can conquer the world, and for all his betterment, his touchstone is ripped away, leaving Kory to learn the truths of friendship.

Janet Yeager is the author of Brothers by Honor. She is the recipient of numerous awards through the Tulsa NightWriters and Oklahoma Writer’s Federation. A Montana native, she lives in Tulsa Oklahoma.



Winter Blogfest: Wendi Zwaduk

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a necklace and earrings made by the author!!

Holiday Songs! by Wendi Zwaduk

This year, I wanted to discuss my favorite holiday songs. I’m a sucker for holiday music and while I’m not the one who wants to play it right after Halloween, I do tend to get into the spirit rather quickly. There’s nothing better than a good holiday song. So, to celebrate this, I wanted to share my list of favorite songs. This isn’t in a particular order, because sometimes you want a sexy song and sometimes you want a fun one. It all depends on the day. So here’s my list.

Last Christmas by Wham! – How can you not like this one? It’s yearning, sad, but poppy.

Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid – this one’s sad, too, but it proves that there’s a place for hope. Hope and a call to help.

Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives – I love this one because it always makes me think of Rudolph, being a kid and spending the holidays with my grandparents.

Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry – this one’s just plain fun. I love a good rocking Chuck Berry and you can’t go wrong with this one.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by the Jackson 5 – it’s fun, just like Chuck Berry. I love this one. Gets you right into the spirit.

Zat You, Santa Claus? By Louis Armstrong – another fun one that’s fun to listen to. Can’t go wrong with Louis Armstrong

Little Saint Nick by the Beach Boys or the Muppets – I’m going to age myself by admitting I heard this first by the Muppets and there’s nothing more fun than listening to Animal screaming Run, Run Reindeer during this one. It’s great.

The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks – this is a titular Christmas type song. It has to be played. It’s fun and you can’t miss it. Plus, everyone seems to know it.

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt – this one is the original sexy Santa song. Kitt makes it fun, but also a lot naughty.

Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town by Bruce Springsteen – this one gets its own entry because you can’t deny the Boss. Plus, he manages to do the Eartha Kitt method and made it fun while sexy.

The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler – this one is naughty at times, fun at a lot more and made people realize there’s more to the holiday season than Christmas. I love it.

So what would you consider your favorite holiday songs? I know I missed A LOT. Hit me with your favorite holiday song titles. I want to know!


Are second chances possible? They can be in North Bend.

Alex West left North Bend behind and became the famous author RR Taylor. He’s happy with his jet-setting lifestyle, until a book signing brings him to North Bend. Surrounded by the beauty of the small town and the closeness of the community, he starts to rethink his reasons for leaving. Seeing his high-school flame, Molly Adams, brings all the old feelings back into focus. He wants to make her Christmas bright and win her heart, too.

Can he convince her to believe in the magic of Christmas and their second chance, or is the blossoming romance destined to melt with the holiday snow?

Wendi Zwaduk, otherwise known as Megan Slayer, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice. She’s an active member of the Friends of the Keystone-LaGrange Public library.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at First For Romance, Amazon, Books 2 Read, Apple Books, or Kobo.


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 award-winning romantic suspense Fall to Pieces wherein the heroine of YESTERDAY’S OVER is first introduced. Suggest a book for me in the comments below and a randomly chosen winner will be chosen.

Traditions Define the Season by Becky Flade

The male lead in Yesterday’s Over is an anthropologist, a scientist who studies humanity and human behavior, biology, cultures, societies, linguistics, and the traditions that define present and past humans. That resonates with me in particular as we head into a season that is largely defined by its traditions.  

The Sunday before Thanksgiving our neighborhood holds a Thanksgiving Parade featuring local bands, schools, floats, and more. For me and my family, that’s the start of the holiday season. We set up at the firehouse on the route (home away from home for my oldest friend, a Philadelphia Firefighter) as they put out food and goodies for families and friends [plus, you know, bathrooms].

It begins, every year, with motorcycles: the Philadelphia Fire Department, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia Fallen Heroes, and the Philadelphia Veterans motorcycle clubs fill the Avenue. The roar is thrilling and heralds the start of the parade. Old neighbors come back and mingle with the new. Generations huddle together in field chairs or resin patio furniture they carry to the Avenue while kids dance in the street, hunks of soft pretzels stored in their cheeks like holiday chipmunks. At the end of the parade, Santa rolls by and his elves walk the curb-line, collecting letters and wish lists, and handing out candy canes.

After we go home, we change into warm comfy clothes and watch our favorite holiday specials: Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, A Muppet Family Christmas, the Polar Express, etc. It’s like a mini-Christmas because the very next day, we go back to Thanksgiving preparations and we don’t embrace Christmas mode until December 8th, the Immaculate Conception when I put out my nativity set.

It’s the traditions that define humanity and my favorites are the ones that flood this time of year.


In the rubble of a massive explosion that rocked Philadelphia, bones are discovered beneath the remains of a row house.

Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Trudy Beasley prides herself on providing answers and closure to victim’s families, but the mystery surrounding the skeletal remains is something she’s never seen before. Could whoever did this still be loose in the city? Trudy’s instincts demand she pursue the truth.

Forensic anthropologist Benjamin Roberts disagrees. Ben sees the puzzle as an academic challenge, not a legal one.

As the investigation progresses, Trudy and Ben are pulled closer together, until their professional relationship crosses the line and they find themselves in each other’s arms. Will their newfound romance survive when someone is willing to kill again in order to keep secrets buried along with the bones from being unearthed?

A city girl, born and bred, I tend to place my stories in and around southeast Pennsylvania, or at least have a character or two from the area. Home is where the heart is and I make mine with my children and grandchildren. When I’m not busy living my own happily ever after, I’m writing about someone else’s.

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Buy the book at Amazon.

Winter Blogfest: Amber Cross

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of an ebook by Amber Cross.

Extra Scene from A Full-Bodied Love by Amber Cross


After sunset and just before nightfall, gloaming stretches across the wintry landscape, bouncing from one snowy hilltop to the next. Wood stoves are cranked up. Boots are kicked off. Kitchen warmth steams up the windows and dogs rouse from afternoon naps as supper’s aroma fills the corners of each room.

All over New England people settle in after a day’s work. Yet at the Plankey farmhouse in Somerset, Vermont, night chores have only just begun. Stainless-steel milk tanks are switched from wash to milk mode. Cows leave their sand beds and hurry through a chute between the barn and milk parlour where they step on and off the carousel at ten-minute intervals.

Roger Plankey works steadily beside his father for the first hour, cleaning, stripping, connecting and disconnecting his “ladies” from the milking equipment. He keeps an eye on Lisa Kirkpatrick, watching from the side of the room, and takes a break midway through chores to check on her.

“What do you think?” He nods to the milking operation.

Lisa grins, Christmas ornament earrings dangling below the white rim of her red holiday cap, hazel green eyes sparkling with mischief. She leans forward on her elbow crutches and says, “I like watching you work. Especially from behind.”

He stands a little straighter, puffs out his chest, and adjusts his Montreal Canadiens cap. “Nice rearview?”

“Best in the Northeast Kingdom.”

Outside the gloaming has given way to full darkness and a steep drop in temperature, but inside the Plankey barn, things are starting to heat up.


Lisa Kirkpatrick is stubborn, but she’s not stupid. If this guy needs a date to evade an unwanted admirer, who is she to object? It’s not as if handsome men are lining up to ask her out. Sure, they know there’s a woman in the wheelchair, but it would never occur to them that there’s a WOMAN in the wheelchair. He notices. This solid, fun, straight-shooting guy ticks off every box on her ideal man list. But why do they call him Slick? ​
Roger Plankey thought his life was full until he walked into the town clerk’s office and laid eyes on the woman behind the counter. A spunky, independent woman with a dash of humor and just enough sass to keep him on his toes. She fills that unknown void in his life like she was made for him. But is there such a thing as too perfect?


Amber Cross was raised on a family farm in New England, one of a dozen siblings, each one inspiring her writing in some way. She still lives in that same small town with her husband and the youngest of their five children. She loves spending time in the woods, in the water, and watching people because every one of them has a unique and fascinating story to tell.


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Winter Blogfest: Shirley Goldberg

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win an Amazon $10 Gift Certificate to commenters on my post. I’m also offering a copy of my short story, A Bar, Two Dates, and Reindeer Cookies to ALL Long and Short Reviews readers. The link to download it is in my post. Thank you all.

Memories of Holidays Past by Shirley Goldberg

I grew up in Connecticut, so holiday memories bring back images of wind and snow, ice storms, and vacations from school––important to all former teachers.

My family’s Jewish traditional holiday was Hanukah, celebrated for eight days. My aunt is Italian, though, and so we were comfortable with Christmas trees, sometimes call Hanukah bushes.

Hanukah brings to mind presents. When we were kids, this was a big deal. Eight days meant eight presents, one on each day. I can’t imagine how my parents got it together to shop for three girls and wrap twenty-four presents, plus work and run a household.

Time passed and holidays took on a different meaning. I traveled and lived in England, France, Morocco, and Greece, where holiday traditions differed. What never changed, however, was the importance of friends. Holidays were all about the people in my life.

In my early twenties, my best friend and I quit university and went to Ireland and England. We worked as waitresses (off the books) in England, and celebrated Christmas together at a simple hamburger chain. In Delphi, Greece, a bunch of us stayed at a youth hostel. I can’t recall where we enjoyed our Christmas dinner. It may have been bread and cheese and a bottle of retsina. Later, in France, my travels ended, I worked as a jeunefille au pair and lived and babysat two young children. On Christmas day, the whole family ate an elaborate Christmas feast.

As the years went along, the holidays blended into one another. Hanukah is a fun time for kids, but my family had dispersed. We’d get together for Thanksgiving, which remains my favorite holiday of the year, although I do love Halloween.

Nowadays, it isn’t easy to get back to celebrate my favorite holiday with my family. Instead, I spend that day with the friends I’ve met in Florida, where I now live. It’s still a little weird, even after six years here, the idea of no snow and short sleeves on Thanksgiving. But I’m grateful to have the memories and perhaps one day soon, I’ll make it back to spend the holidays in New England.

Speaking of Christmas, grab my holiday short story, A Bar, Two Dates, and Reindeer Cookies. Free. It’s a fun story about being lonely on Christmas. Oh, you’ll meet the hot bartender!

“Love-cynical Lucy Bernard delights in her independence. Baking, all things Instagram, the occasional special guy, and most of all hanging out with best friends Deon Goldbloom and Phoebe Karis. But when Deon kisses Lucy at the beach on a chilly afternoon, the two friends jump into a lust-filled romantic weekend. So what’s with slotting her into “”ignore”” status afterward?

Deon Goldbloom is a widower who can’t move on after his wife’s death. Is he a little crazy spending a sexy few days with Lucy and calling it the best time he’s had in four years? Yeah. Except blue Monday comes calling, and Deon isn’t ready for the guilt.

Lucy wonders how a smoochy weekend turns into a friends-with-benefits disaster. And Deon wonders if he’s made the biggest mistake of his life putting Lucy on “”ignore.”” Using all his nerdy charms, he launches a campaign to bring Lucy around. Maybe they can chart a course back to one another if Lucy will only forgive him.”

Shirley Goldberg is a writer, novelist, and former ESL and French teacher who’s lived in Paris, Crete, and Casablanca. She writes about men and women of a certain age starting over. Her website offers a humorous look into dating in mid-life, and her friends like to guess which stories are true. A Little Bit of Lust is her third book in the series Starting Over, although all her books are standalone. Her character believes you should never leave home without your sense of humor and Shirley agrees.

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