To celebrate HER FOREVER GIFT, my Montana Mavericks’ holiday novella, going FREE on all platforms, I’m sharing a recipe–and excerpt–from the book.
Louise’s trifle isn’t something to be trifled with…and, as you’ll see, your options for fruit is varied, to say the least. Pick what your family likes and run with it, as Louise did.
Recipe Type: dessert
Author: Debra Salonen
This dessert if light and refreshing and easy to prepare. Plus, you can pick your family’s favorite fruits. Be creative! These are the fruits my family likes best, my heroine, Louise Jenkins, chose other variations. Nuts and dried fruits might be interesting, as well.
1 packaged Angel Food cake or 2 packaged sponge cakes, broken into pieces
1 package fresh blueberries
1 package fresh blackberries
4 cups frozen strawberries (fresh are okay, too, but frozen are easier to come by at Christmastime)
4 C whipping cream prepared to taste (I like mine not overly sweet with a couple of drops of vanilla)
4 Tbsp sugar
optional: 1/4 C liquor (I use Cointreau for the hint of orange.)
optional: 1/4 C chocolate syrup
Wash fruit and drain completely. Reserve 1/4 cup of raspberries for decoration.
Break cakes into bite-size pieces, set aside.
Prepare whipping cream to stiff set, sweeten as you desire.
Slice strawberries and mix with sugar and liquor, as desired.
Layer cake on the bottom, fresh fruit, strawberry mixture, then whipped cream.
Arrange reserved raspberries on top, then drizzle with chocolate, if desired.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. The longer it sits the more the flavors mingle.
“The soup is fabulous, Louise,” her new son-in-law said.
“Really great, Grandma, can I have more?” Chloe asked.
“Of course. Eat up.” Louise stood to reach the ladle. “What about you, Mark?”
The youngest of them shook his head. “No, thanks. I’m leaving room for dessert.”
Everyone’s gaze followed Mark’s to the tall-sided glass bowl that held Louise’s trifle. She’d removed it from the refrigerator moments earlier so it could come to room temperature before serving. Three distinct strata were visible: coarsely torn bits of white cake topped by marinated cherries, blueberries, mandarin orange slices and pineapple, and lastly whipped cream. Each portion would be topped with warm Copper Mountain Chocolate Company’s decadent and nearly immoral dark chocolate syrup.
Mark wasn’t the only one to lick his lips.
“Where’d you learn to make that, Mom?” Bailey asked. “We’ve had it on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember.”
Louise looked at OC. The intensity of his stare made her blush. “I made it up. Our first Christmas after we were married, we were too poor to make anything fancy and I remembered reading that in olden days, people served stale cake with fruit that they marinated in rum or brandy then poured over the cake to make it palatable. So, that’s what I did.”
OC let out a laugh that made everyone look his way. “First time I ever saw your mother drunk.”
“Mom doesn’t drink.”
“She didn’t have to–every bite was like taking a shot.” OC slapped his knee. “It was funnier than heck. Unlike some people–” He tapped both thumbs to his chest.” –Luly was a happy drunk. But, boy, did she have a headache in the morning.”
Markie sat forward, rubbing his hands together. “Am I going to get drunk eating it?”
Paul elbowed him. “No.”
Paul looked at Louise for confirmation. “That was the last time I used whiskey to make my trifle, Mark. Sorry to disappoint you, but the brandy flavor comes from the little bit of natural fermentation produced by the fruit.” She leaned over and squeezed his thin little arm. “It still tastes yummy and you won’t have a terrible, horrible headache in the morning. Like I did.”
And my husband won’t have fallen off the wagon when he’s been doing so well, she didn’t add.
This evening is the start of Hanukkah. What better way to celebrate than with a sweet, charming story and a delicious family recipe from author Karen Sandler.
She told me:
This recipe for potato pancakes came from my late father-in-law, Merle Sandler. We’ve made these latkes for decades for Hanukkah, and I had this recipe in mind while writing “The 8th Gift,” my contribution to the CELEBRATE Romance! anthology.
Recipe Type: side dish
Author: Karen Sandler
This wonderful recipe for potato pancakes came from my late father-in-law, Merle Sandler. We’ve made these latkes for decades for Hanukkah, and were what I had in mind while writing “The 8th Gift,” my contribution to the CELEBRATE! anthology.
4 large russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and grated
1/2 c onion, grated
2 tbsp flour
3/4 tsp salt
oil for frying
applesauce and sour cream
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat oil in skillet, keep at a depth of ¼”. Have cookie sheets with paper towels ready. Heat oven to low heat to keep latkes warm while other batches are cooking.
Using a slotted spoon, squeeze liquid out of potato clumps and add to hot oil. Flatten using back of spoon. Once brown (about 5 minutes) turn over and cook other side (about 4 minutes). Drain on paper towels and keep hot.
Serve with dishes of applesauce and sour cream.
And here’s an brief excerpt from Karen’s Celebrate Romance contribution, The 8th Gift:
The garage door opened, startling her awake. Unbelievably, she’d fallen asleep on her feet. “What is it?”
“I’m done. Front and back door both have deadbolts.”
She glanced up at the clock above the workbench. Nearly half-past midnight.
“I moved the laundry to the dryer,” he added as he descended the two steps to the garage.
She felt heat on her cheeks again. The thought of the thieves handling her intimates had sickened her. Imagining Jake’s big hands tugging her panties from the washer and tossing them into the dryer filled her with an entirely different sensation.
His gaze fixed on her again, the way it had sought her out when she’d been in the kitchen. Then he looked away, and his eyes found the special box, the one she’d received from Ian’s commander.
Jake crossed the garage and read the return address. He drew his hand across the packing tape sealing the box. “Ian’s personal effects?”
“I don’t even know what’s in it,” she blurted out. “I haven’t been able to open it.”
He just nodded. Of course he understood. “Are you going to be okay?”
Tears filled her eyes in an instant. “They took Aaron’s Hanukkah gifts. All of them. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Then she lost all control, sobbing, covering her face with her hands. When Jake wrapped his arms around her, she clutched him as if she’d die without him to hold onto. Her sobs were ugly and hurt her throat, her heart. All the pain of the last twelve months seemed to flood her all at once.
“We’ll figure it out,” Jake whispered. “Don’t worry, Sarah, we’ll figure it out.”
5 holidays/5 authors/ 5 heart-warming love stories.
Food=love in my books…especially around the holidays.
Today’s contribution is from my friend Kim Boykin. I spotted this recipe on the Tule Author’s Holiday Facebook Party and I knew I had to share on my blog.
Take it away, Kim:
Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay’s tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own.
Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda’s very sexy skin, and it’s only fair. She’s been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can’t stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her.
Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas.
Red Velvet Pancakes
Recipe Type: breakfast
Author: Kim Boykin
Warm, sweet…and red–how positively festive! Share the love this holiday season.
Magnolia Bay Red Velvet Pancakes
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 cup whole pecans toasted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons red food coloring
Whisk the flour, white sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together in a bowl until evenly blended; set aside. Beat the eggs in a separate mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in 1/4 cup milk with the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, vinegar, and food coloring. Stir in the flour mixture until moistened. Drizzle in the melted butter, and stir until the butter has incorporated and small lumps of flour remain.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter. Top with syrup and pecans (and an optional dollop cream cheese icing) to serve.
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS
“Everyone. Wonderful to see y’all. Logan.” Miranda should have slapped herself silly for gawking at him.
“You can’t imagine my surprise when Logan here, nabbed me Saturday night at Crusoe’s,” the mayor said, like the man was the second coming. The sexy smirk on his face wasn’t helping Miranda at all. “Put a great big donation to your mother’s foundation in my hand and said he had some fabulous ideas for our little Christmas events. Even asked if he could co-chair. Of course, knowing you wouldn’t mind, I said yes.”
Miranda nodded. She’d been at Crusoe’s Saturday night and had seen the mayor and her husband. Miranda had been on a date with John Jackson, a yummy attorney from Charleston whom she recently met at one of the gallery crawls there. He had talked her into taking a break from decorating the house, and she was glad she had. The food and the wine had been as good as his company.
Although there hadn’t been any real sparks at dinner, they were just getting to know each other and the night was young. After a lovely dinner, John had asked Miranda if she wanted to take a walk on the docks the restaurant overlooked.
When she’d stood to leave, she’d noticed Logan coming into the restaurant with a friend. Miranda had rushed past him but then suddenly remembered she’d forgotten her wrap. When she’d turned around to retrieve it, she’d run smack into a wall of hard muscle. Logan. Adrenaline shot through her and her heart beat faster than it had at any point during the evening.
“I’m sorry,” she said. He’d been smiling down at her, holding her in place. Until she came to her senses. “Excuse me.” She’d tried to pull away, but couldn’t budge.
“No Problem,” he said leaning in close enough to whisper. “But I believe you owe me a kiss.”
“What?” she’d hissed. “I do not owe you anything, Logan, not to mention that I’m on a date.”
Logan had glanced at the door where John looked extremely curious as to what was going on. “He looks like a nice guy, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
“You’re nuts,” she’d snapped. But maybe she was nuts because her body was humming with anticipation, and it wasn’t for John.
“And you’re standing under the mistletoe; it’s tradition.”
“Good. Night. Logan.” She threw on her wrap and rejoined her date, but she’d felt the loss of the connection long after she pulled away from Logan.
And now he was here at her committee meeting, trying to upend things in the ninth hour. Usual sexy smirk. A big fat donation with strings attached. What did that mean? That he was definitely nuts? They were oil and water. This would never work.
“Miranda.” He extended his hand. “Always a pleasure.”
She sat in the only available seat beside him, determined to get down to business. When she gave his hand a firm shake, her heat fluttered.
Happy reading…and eating, my friends. And don’t forget to stock up on great holiday reads to last the whole year! Celebrate Romance is still only $.99. You can read a Hanukkah story AND a Christmas story for under fifty cents apiece.
Food=love in my books. And it’s my great pleasure to welcome back, Lilian Darcy. She’s one of my auto-buy authors, and she just completed a wonderful series of connected stories for Tule Publishing. She’s also a great cook. So, what do you do with all those left over pumpkins? Scones, you say? I believe I will, thank you. Take it away, Lilian.
“So we’ve just had Thanksgiving and there is pumpkin left overs.
Or maybe there isn’t, but I would argue that pumpkin and all its close relatives are well worth the purchase at any time of the year.
Here in Australia, we call pretty much any of those hard, orange-fleshed vegetables pumpkin. There’s Butternut, Grey, Kent, Jap, and Queensland Blue, and probably more. I think we must eat a lot of these various pumpkin varieties in Australia, as the internet tells me the country grows 114,417 metric tonnes of it per year, for a population of 23 million. Per person, that’s… no, I’m not going to try to work it out.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes, which you can make with any variety of hard orange pumpkin or squash.
Note that they’re savoury rather than sweet. If you want sweet, then you can find my women’s fiction novel The Sweetest Thingfree on major ebook platforms, but you’ll probably want to have some chocolate on hand while you’re reading it.
Recipe Type: side
Author: Lilian Darcy
These are savoury, not sweet, but that’s what chocolate is for when you settle back to read The Sweetest Thing!
2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 oz butter, chopped into small pieces
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup cooked and mashed butternut pumpkin
Preheat oven to 400F/200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl, add butter and rub in or cut with a pastry cutter until mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add buttermilk and pumpkin.
Mix with a spoon or your hands until it forms a dough.
Knead lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s an inch thick, and use a cookie cutter of your desired size and shape to cut out the scones.
Re-form the dough and cut until it is all used.
Place the scones on your tray and brush with buttermilk, then bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.
Serve with plain or herb butter, and/or cheese.
Tully Morgan hasn’t been back to Marietta for more than a few brief visits since the night of the 1996 senior prom eighteen years ago, when the chance exposure of a long-held family secret sent her running to her uncle in California in shock. She stood up her date Ren Fletcherthat night, and she hasn’t seen him since.
Now she’s here for an extended stay, to help take care of her seriously ill mother. It’s an edgy reconciliation, the first time that Tully, Patty and Sugar Morgan have been together since that long ago prom night. Tully has had so much anger toward Sugar… can she ever forgive her?
And Sugar still has one more secret that needs to be dealt with, one that needs Ren Fletcher’s help. Has he forgiven Tully for leaving him in the lurch on prom night? And is there any chance that he and Tully can rekindle what they might once have had, when he’s still tied to someone else?
The five authors of Celebrate Romance would like to wish you a wonderful day shared with family or friends. Below you’ll find a cherished family recipe from author Karen Sandler. I’m planning to make this with my granddaughters on Thanksgiving morning. Yum. My mouth is watering.
If you can squeeze in a little “me” time, I know you’d enjoy reading Barbara McMahon’s sweet Thanksgiving novella: “Love and All the Trimmings.” — An unexpected reunion at Thanksgiving changes a growing relationship when an old flame shows up dashing Juliana’s hopes for a future with Matt.
My stepdad, Harry Williams, was a baker with the Matson Shipping Lines as a young man. Later, he and my mom ran the family restaurant, The Mono Inn, at Mono Lake, California. He specialized in home-baked bread and luscious desserts like this one.
1 9-inch pie crust
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup pecan halves
Partially bake pie crust for 8 to 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
Melt butter and chocolate with corn syrup over low heat. Beat eggs and sugar by hand until well mixed, but do not overbeat. Add vanilla and salt to chocolate mixture.
Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and mix well.
Pour filling into pie crust and arrange pecans on top. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 275 degrees. Bake another 30 minutes, or until custard is just set.
May your day of giving thanks and enjoying family be the sweetest ever!
Who loves unique books that break molds…and melt-in-your-mouth flank steak?
I do! I do! So, it pleases me to no end to share this Tuesday’s guest blogger with you: Dana Marton, who will tell you about her new book, Forced Disappearance AND introduce you to the national dish of Venezuela.
Thank you so much for having me as a guest! Today is my running-around-like-a-headless-chicken day. I have a brand new release out, and I’m so excited about this book! I was lucky to have an absolutely superb editor who didn’t blink an eye that FORCED DISAPPEARANCE doesn’t follow the usual romance conventions. For one, it’s the heroine who saves the hero. Miranda is nobody’s damsel in distress.
Did you know that the Army has a special unit, Personnel Recovery, that looks for missing DoD personnel (military and defense contractor) if they disappear in a foreign country? Did you know that there’s no such thing for ordinary Americans who are kidnapped/disappear abroad? One of the great things about being an author is that I get to fix things in my books, so I invented the Civilian Personnel Recovery Unit where Miranda Soto ends up as a new investigator after a shattered military career.
Her first assignment is to locate and rescue wealthy American businessman Glenn Danning, a man who’d once been her best friend and first lover. These two were stars at MIT during their college years, so be prepared for some geeky humor. (Waiving to fans of The Big Bang Theory.)
Keep reading for a quick snippet. Miranda and Glenn are fleeing from the Venezuelan secret service, hiding in the jungle, and they’d just stolen some supplies from a group of botanists who are on a guided tour.
Recipe Type: main dish
Author: Dana Marton
If you’d like a taste of Venezuela without leaving home, try out their national dish.
You will need:
2-pound piece flank steak
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 teaspoons paprika
1 jalapeno, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cut flank steak into a handful of pieces. Mix the minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, paprika and half of the jalapeño into a paste, and coat the meat with it, then refrigerate for an hour or two.
Sauté half the onions and the green pepper in olive oil, then add steak and caramelize on both sides, then add 8 cups of water and boil under cover until the meat is falling apart (3-4 hrs).
Remove steak from water and, cool, then shred by hand.
Toss the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and remaining onion, green pepper and jalapeño into a pan and sauté. Add shredded beef, cook until crisp, then sprinkle with with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with white rice, black beans, and fried plantains. Enjoy!
by Dana Marton
After the great snack heist, they spent the rest of the afternoon searching for water to refill their old-fashioned aluminum canteens; then they boiled the water back at their campsite to sterilize it. They had food, water, and shelter—better than nothing.
Glenn picked through their newfound toiletry bag while Miranda put fresh leaves on their sleeping platform since last night’s bedding was full of bugs that had moved in during the day. The pink plastic bag held one bar of soap in a matching pink plastic case, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor, a comb, nail clippers, a handful of cotton balls, and a six-pack of flavored condoms—strawberry.
Okay, that brought back some college memories of discovering sex and really, really liking it, liking it more than engineering.
They might have been inexperienced, but both he and Miranda had curious minds, which turned out to be as much as an advantage in bed as it’d been in the class room. When faced with something unknown, they both believed in extensive experimenting and testing. Including nearly the entire contents of an X-rated novelty store one semester.
He held up the pack. “Somebody was hoping to get lucky while on vacation.”
She rolled her eyes. “Botanists. They’re all floozies.”
He grinned at the old college joke. A couple of girls in the dorm room next to Miranda’s had used the botany department lab to mix up herbal aphrodisiacs. They successfully sold a whole variety of love potions on the campus black market. But not as successfully as some of the guys in the department, who were always mixing things that could be smoked.
Miranda scanned the six-pack. “Those could come in handy. We used to get them in our army emergency pack. You can collect and transport water in them. Close to half a gallon, actually. Or use one to hold a wound dressing in place, keep dirt out, and make the dressing waterproof.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Okay. I have to say, my mind went to a different place entirely.”
She snorted as she shook her head, a half smile twisting her full lips. “One of those will keep your tinder and matches dry in a place like this, or if you have to wade through water.” She went back to working on their bed. “And condoms burn if you have no tinder. A onetime use, so preferably to be avoided. You can use them to make a slingshot and hunt. You can use them to prevent moisture or sand from getting into the barrel of your weapon.” She finished with the bamboo leaf bedding and wiped her hands on her pants as she turned toward him.
I was invited by my pal and fellow Tule Publishing author, Eve Gaddy, to participate in a blog tag.
What’s a blog tag?
Good question. I had no idea.
Here’s what Eve said, “I blog on Nov. 6. I’ll take 4 other authors and include their bios and latest releases, then on Nov. 13, you post your blog.” (Here’s Eve’s blog: Meet Della Rose.)
Well, that sounds simple enough. And interesting! So, here’s my Meet The Character blog:
Let me introduce you to Ryker Bensen, hero in my newly completed Big Sky Mavericks novel.
1.) What is the name of your character? RYKER BENSEN
2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person? FICTIONAL
3.) When and where is the story set? Marietta, Montana, autumn
4.) What should we know about him/her? He’s 29 years, 11 months, and fifteen days old when we meet him. This is important because he’s a “Trust Fund Baby.” He was born with a slightly tarnished silver spoon in his mouth. Tarnished because his father’s old money got tied up in a trust after he passed away when Ryker was a senior in high school. Ryker and his older brother, Flynn, adored their father and had mixed feeling about their cold, self-absorbed mother. When Mom remarried shortly after Dad’s death, Ryker was angry, hurt and confused. The rules his new stepfather installed across the board seemed punitive and demeaning to his father’s memory. Ryker rebelled. But he was smart enough and gifted enough–he’s a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer–to graduate early and strike out on his own. He never looked back…until tragedy derailed his merrily-along plans, and he winds up in a tent on the land he and his brother will claim ownership of when he turns thirty. Maybe. Unless Mia Zabrinski can prove she’s the rightful owner.
5.) What is the main conflict? Ryker has lost his way. Watching the person you love die in your arms can screw with your head. Some of the things you thought were important don’t seem to matter any more. He was smart enough to know he needed time away from the mainstream world to figure out a few things–like why did the people he loved most leave him? The respite has helped and he’s finally ready to rejoin the world–the photographs he took of a recent Montana cattle drive are just waiting for Ryker to send to his agent. But his plans hit the fan when Mia Zabrinski, a spit-fire who is soooo done with men taking things from her–shows up and demands he get off her land. Mia is in the process of reclaiming her life. The last thing she needs is a drop dead gorgeous younger man messing her “mones” — hormones, pheramones, moans mones. A relationship? No. So not happening. Until it does.
What messes up his/her life? His stepfather has finally gone beyond the pale. He’s depleted Ryker’s trust and sold the land to Mia and her ex-husband, illegally. Ryker has to fight for his life–the one he never truly appreciated. This means confronting his mother and the past. The problem with dueling with ghosts is they’re mirror images of the people you thought you knew and loved. And looking at the past through a new lens can change everything.
6.) What is the personal goal of the character? Ryker needs a reason–a purpose–to rejoin society. Mia’s challenge to his ownership of the only spot on earth he can connect to his father pulls into action, but it’s Mia herself who is the real challenge. One Ryker can’t resist.
7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
NOBODY’S DARLING – Her land. His tent. And this is Montana, where property disputes can lead to a range war…or hot sex.
Here’s my rough blurb:
Mia Zabrinski’s lost enough–
Her marriage. Her job. Her health. Mia beat cancer and is ready to rebuild her life in her hometown to Marietta, Montana. Literally. As in, she plans to build a house on the ten-acre parcel she was awarded in her divorce settlement. And she’s damned if she’ll let some stranger who has been camping on her land claim squatter’s rights. So, maybe, he’s not a squatter. The high-end bike and camera hint at more. Plus, he’s hot, gorgeous and smart, but that doesn’t make him less of a threat–especially when he has the audacity to claim the land is his. Look out, darlin’, Nitro is back and prepared to prove what the other Big Sky Mavericks always knew: small packages can pack a big punch.
Ryker Bensen doesn’t have much–
And that suits him fine. Less than a year ago, he had everything: a beautiful girlfriend, a baby on the way, a career that earned him fame and a very comfortable living…until he didn’t. Grief sent him to ground, and his favorite ground growing up was a ten-acre patch along side the Marietta River where his father brought Ryker and his brother every summer. Land held in a trust for the Bensen brothers until Ryker’s thirtieth birthday, which is still a few weeks away. When a beautiful spitfire named Mia Zabrinski shows up and orders him off her land, Ryker realizes she might be the spark he needed to jumpstart his interest in living again.
8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?
NOBODY’S DARLING will be released on January 9, 2015.
When I was born, the holiday was called Armistice Day. My mother claims I was born at the stroke of midnight and the doctor gave her the choice of making my birthday the 10th or the 11th of November. She chose the 11th because she was a Federal Employee (rural mail carrier) and knew she’d always have my birthday off.
I’m pleased and honored to share my special day with a very special group of people, including three men I hold most dear:
My father, Reuben E. Robson, who served with honor and distinction as an Army Staff Sargent in Europe in WWII.
My uncle, Burney Bagby, who suffered burns and permanent damage to his lungs when his Navy ship was torpedoed and caught fire in the Pacific.
And my late father-in-law, Milt Salonen, who served in the Merchant Marines, transporting vital cargo and soldiers across the Atlantic.
Their sacrifice was shared by their families who carried on at home without them for months–even years–at a time.
A lot has transpired since WWII, and I could name a long list of friends, family members and acquaintances who have served in the military, but, instead, I will give my thanks for their service and share FAST MEN, SLOW KISSES — a collection of 7 romances supporting military veterans–with you in their honor.
And I’ll gift copies to 5 lucky friends. Just leave a reply–perhaps mentioning someone near and dear to you who has served their country. I’ll pick the winners on Thursday. (Also, congrats–and thanks–to Rogenna Brewer, who made this gorgeous cover–and is a Navy vet herself.)
Fast Men, Slow Kisses: A collection of 7 Romances supporting military veterans
As authors, we’re delighted to pull our works together in this boxed set to say thank you to all those who serve to protect our freedom, especially the forgotten heroes and their families struggling here at home. Proceeds from Fast Men, Slow Kisses will be donated to military veterans’ charities in the United States and Canada.
Fast Men, Slow Kisses contributors:
Wild Ride, by USA Today bestselling author Nancy Warren
Joe Montcrief is a hard driving workaholic corporate shark who arrives in the small, eccentric town of Beaverton, Idaho with takeovers and profit in mind. Emily Sargent runs the Shady Lady B&B, a former brothel and the only accommodation in town. Still, he manages to keep his mind on work except when Emily’s around and he notices that this rose-growing, cookie baking, small-town girl has something about her that turns him inside out.
Aloha Texas, by award-winning author Chris Keniston
Fall in love with all the friends and family from the Big Island Dive shop: Retired navy diver Nicholas Harper likes his new life as captain of a dive boat in Hawaii. Kara Lynn O’Conner is the fifth generation lawyer in her small Texas town where life is easy and safe. Six year old Bradley Russell is about to change everything.
Only with the Heart, by award-winning author Linda Steinberg
Out of money and almost out of time, technology geek Brian McKay has three weeks to complete the prototype for his voice activated hotel suite and achieve the financial independence he’s always struggled for. But, when a beautiful Beverly Hills do-gooder needs his help on a special project, the inventor is pulled between ambition and love.
Her Favorite Mistake, by award-winning author Barbara Lohr
When Vanessa Randall appears on a popular reality TV show, she isn’t prepared to see her Vegas Hunky Hottie again. She needs the Internet mogul’s help to ramp up her family business, but Alex is the last man she wants back in her life. He’s thinking revenge can be sweet.
Baby I’m Back, by two-time Golden Heart® winner Laurie Kellogg
Nick Riverà’s ex-wife, Samantha, has no concept of how terrified he is of losing her to another high-risk pregnancy. His refusal to sire another child ultimately destroyed their marriage. Now, he’ll stop at nothing to get his family back—even if it means blackmailing his way into his ex-wife’s home—and, with any luck, Samantha’s bed and heart.
Partners by Design, by award-winning author Pamela Stone
Hard-edged DEA agent Shayne Kelley grew up fast. Shuffled from one foster family to the next made him tough. And damned good at working undercover. When idealistic schoolteacher Dani Cochran reunites him with the father who abandoned him as a child, his well-ordered world is shaken. He can’t seem to resist the naïve teacher and her reckless optimism. But can she risk loving a man who seems destined to break her heart?
Winter Interlude, by award-winning author Sandy Loyd
Ñico Fernández has plans to seduce Pepper Grady and then marry her to please his dying father. Those plans go astray when the beautiful heiress seduces him instead. She’s vowed never to marry a man like him, one who doesn’t believe in love and he’s not sure he can promise marriage on her terms…including a lifetime of love and fidelity.
Today’s blog reprises a hit recipe from my friend and guest blogger, Rogenna Brewer, who is not only a wonderful writer, but also has mad skills when it comes to making covers, headers for your FB page, bookmarks, etc. And she’s running a month-long SALE at Sweettoheat.com. If you’re in need of a cover at an affordable price, you’ll love working with Ro. A sample of her work follows below: Celebrate Romance!
Her recipe is called: Crockpot Chicken Chili. Ro told me, “Every author has a few slow-cooker recipes on hand for deadlines. This Chicken Chili recipe came to me through my youngest son who recently moved back home after his bachelor pad rental was sold out from under him. Hearty enough (and cheap enough) to feed three broke bachelors, a family of six or a family of three with plenty of left overs.”
Super simple and delicious.
I hope you enjoy it.
Crockpot Chicken Chili
Recipe Type: maindish
Author: Rogenna Brewer
A perfect winter dish!
3 boneless chicken breasts
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can white or yellow corn
Season with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper…or cheat, like I do, and use a packaged seasoning mix.
Place everything in the crockpot and cook on medium heat for 6-8 hours (until breasts pull part easily with a fork).
Excerpt: ONE STAR SPANGLED NIGHT, from Celebrate Romance – 5 authors/5 heartwarming holiday stories
Hat in hand, he stood in her office doorway. From spit-shined shoes, up military creases, to the eagles pinned on khaki collar points, he commanded attention. The rank of captain gave him the authority to demand it.
Lieutenant Lindsey Alexander marked her already forgotten place and closed the ancient tome. Her desk chair creaked as she straightened her spine. How long had he been standing there, staring?
How long had she?
Removing her reading glasses to cover her embarrassment, Lindsey set aside the funky frames and theology lesson before pushing to her feet, the proper show of respect for his rank. “May I help you, Captain?”
From his superior height he frowned down at her, at the world in general—she couldn’t be certain. Lindsey smiled her brightest, but he didn’t seem to appreciate the effort. His scowl deepened, drawing jet-black brows above nefarious jade green eyes in a potentially lethal combination.
“You’re a woman.”
She didn’t need to hear the affront behind his words to know he’d assumed chaplain and man were synonymous. She stretched her smile in spite of, or perhaps because he’d insulted both her gender and profession in just three little words. It wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last.
“And you would be, Captain…Reese.” She read his nametag above his right breast pocket. On the left, his rack of ribbons read like an impressive resume. The gold wings above the neat rows further identified him as a naval aviator.
Top Gun plowed a hand through jet-black hair threaded with silver, spoiling the severe effect of the barber’s precision military cut.
No doubt about it, the gender confusion was all one sided.
“Doug Reese. I have an appointment.”
It was Lindsey’s turn to draw her brows. The name Reese didn’t ring any bells. Should it? She unburied her appointment book and flipped it open. Despite his obvious impatience, she took her time going through the day’s schedule.
No Reese, Captain or otherwise.
In truth, she wasn’t very well organized, but she never forgot a name or a face or a scheduled appointment for that matter. Knowing her tendency toward disorganization, she always wrote everything down.
“I’m early.” Holding his hat by the brim, he crossed his arms. “My ship just pulled in for repairs two weeks ago.”
Something about the way in which he emphasized the words my ship sent those alarm bells clanging like a five-alarm fire.
Flipping the calendar page, she found Commanding Officer, USS Enterprise CVN-65 penciled in the yeoman’s neat hand under, 1300–tomorrow. “Looks like an hour and a day early–”
“I’m a busy man, Chaplain, I’d like to get this over with.” The scowl remained a permanent fixture, but he tempered his demand. “I won’t take but a minute of your time.”
Lindsey met Captain Reese’s continued glare with the unwavering dedication of her profession. She would have taken responsibility for the mistake regardless, but she had a feeling the man knew exactly what he was doing, showing up a day early and on her lunch hour.
She was just curious enough to want to know why. What was one more counseling session out of her overbooked day? It was her job to help. If the Captain needed her…
Well, then, she was here to serve.
“Have a seat.” She gestured toward one of two overflowing chairs.
The walls seemed to move in as he stepped into her crowded cubby with its floor to ceiling shelves. He cocked a dark brow as he picked up a stack of files from the seat, and then looked around for a place to put them.
“Sorry, packing. Our office is on the list of base closures.” Lindsey plucked the files from his hands. If military budget cuts didn’t elicit a comment from the good Captain, what would? He continued to hover over her five foot five—in sensible boon dockers—while she maneuvered around him, dumping the stack of papers on the floor by the shelf before closing the door.
He probably wasn’t an inch or two over six feet, but the too small space became suffocating, filling with the tang of saltwater on skin—not an all-together unpleasant scent—except the hint of JP-5. Lindsey had never been stationed aboard a ship, but she could identify carrier crews by the smell of jet fuel that permeated their pores.
With surprising consideration, the Captain waited until Lindsey settled beside her corner desk, and then took up the now empty seat across from her. He looked around her office with the same disdain he’d directed toward her.
Captain Reese had his strong, silent and judgey act down pat.
Tension radiated from the man. Although the only outward sign was the way he fidgeted with his hat, now balanced on his knee as he tapped a folded piece of paper impatiently against his cover.
He may have been trying hard not to project his discomfort, but she could sense it, feel it. “Would you be more comfortable with another chaplain?”
It was a legitimate question, and since he’d expressed some reservation about her gender, one she felt compelled to ask.
Did his scowl switch to a smirk?
“No,” Lindsey answered honestly.
Though if they were following strict protocol, she should refer the Captain to her superior, Commander Elliot. However, being short staffed, down to only herself and the Catholic Priest, Father Elliot was just as overworked as she was. Between them, they shared one chaplain’s yeoman, a Religious Program Specialist Third Class.
Perhaps the Captain had chosen her in accordance with his own beliefs despite his prejudicial comment.
“You’ll do,” he said.
“Fine.” Lindsey exhaled the word. Had she actually been holding her breath, waiting for his decision? “I just need you to fill out this counseling form and then we’ll get started.” Stretching across the space, she handed him a clipboard with attached pen and paper.
A knock sounded on the door. The RP poked her head in, “Chaplain Alexander, I have your lunch,” she announced. “Oops, sorry. I didn’t know you were in session.”
“It’s okay, Brenda. We’re just getting started.” Lindsey got up to meet the yeoman at the door. Thanks,” she said, taking the containers of Chinese food.
“Your change.” Brenda handed over lose coins and a couple wadded bills as Lindsey juggled containers to take the money.
“Maybe the Captain would like a cup of coffee—”
“No, the Captain would not.” He cut her off without bothering to look up from the clipboard. On the other side of the door, Brenda mouthed another apology for the interruption.
“Hold my calls,” Lindsey instructed. “But buzz me when my one o’clock gets here.”
“Sure thing. I mean, yes, ma’am.” The RP closed the door.
“I’m sorry,” Lindsey apologized. She suspected she’d gone down another notch in his estimation. Then again, he was the one who’d showed up on her lunch hour uninvited. “LoMein?”
“No.” He extended the clipboard, all business.
Lindsey wrestled her lunch down to the desk and stuffed the loose change and bills into the middle drawer. Taking the clipboard from him, she released the counseling form and then groped for her reading glasses. She put them on and sank back to her seat, staring in disbelief at the blank page. Almost blank page.
Name, rank and serial number had been filled in.
“If I were a prisoner of war that’s all I’d be required to give.”
“This isn’t an interrogation.”
“No, it’s not,” he agreed. “Thank you for your time, Chaplain.”
Her gaze followed his upward movement. He’d certainly been right about only taking a minute of her time. Even though it looked like her curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied, she’d have a hot lunch as a consolation prize. Small comfort compared to the satisfaction she got from doing her job. “How can I help—?”
“You can’t. I just want it to go on record that I was here.” He slapped his cover against his thigh. “Good day.”
Lindsey beat him to the door and barred his way with a crossed arm stance.
“Lieutenant,” he said, calling deliberate attention to her rank. “Step aside. That’s an order.”
Her short-lived career flashed before her eyes and she swallowed hard. She couldn’t keep him here against his will. Still, she could get her point across. “If it’s important enough to come here in the first place, it’s important enough to stay and talk.”
“I’m not going to warn you again.”
“Fine.” She edged away from the door. “But uncooperative is going in my counseling notes.” She tried to infuse a little humor into the situation that had quickly gotten out of hand.
“You can write whatever you want, Chaplain. As long as you don’t share that information with anyone, I don’t care.”
“It would be unethical for me to reveal any information about your visit.”
“I’m counting on that.”
He paused long enough to look her in the eye. She hoped he saw the disappointment reflected there because if ever a man needed her, Captain Doug Reese did. She couldn’t be expected to save the world. She just wanted to help one person at a time. Unfortunately, her heart took a hit every time she failed.
Lindsey stared at his departing back. The man’s visit was obviously a desperate cry for help. Yeah, right. Captain Doug Reese looked about as self-sufficient as they came. It was her need to butt into everyone’s business that made her the desperate one. How many times had Brenda told her to get a life? How many times had Chaplain Elliot counseled her against getting overly involved?
With a heavy sigh, she scooped up another stack of folders occupying the one remaining chair. She’d need both for her one o’clock. Her next appointment was a young couple in premarital counseling.
No real problems there. In fact, the upcoming wedding on July 4th—her first as an officiate—was something she actually looked forward to. She’d met the bride-to-be. The intended groom was just back from sea.
Lindsey stopped and let that sink in a moment. Followed by a quick glance toward the door. “Nah.”
The bride was closer to Lindsey’s age, mid-twenties.
The Captain had to be at least forty and most likely married.
Not that a May, December…more like September, romance was out of the question. The Captain was fighter pilot fit and handsome to the extreme—despite the permanent case of indigestion apparent in his facial expression. What she couldn’t remember was whether or not he wore a wedding band.
Which should matter to her, why?
Arms full and looking for more nonexistent floor space, Lindsey noticed a folded piece of paper by the chair leg. Setting the stack back down, she picked up the missive and unfolded it. The letter was addressed to Captain Reese from COMCARSTRIKEGRU THIRTEEN, Commander Carrier Strike Group Thirteen (CCSG-13). She quickly folded it back up, but not before the word counseling jumped off the page.
The Good Captain had been ordered into counseling.
The shrill ringing of the outer office telephone gave her a guilty start. Brenda answered in quiet tones while Lindsey tucked the paper into her skirt pocket and grabbed her cover from beside the door.
“Chaplain, it’s for you,” the RP called through the open door.
“Take a message, Brenda. There’s something I need to do.” Like catch up with the Captain. She checked her watch. She had plenty of time before her next appointment.
Brenda covered the mouthpiece. “It’s Rear Admiral Dunning.”
“Commander Carrier Strike Group Thirteen?” Lindsey had never had the occasion to meet a flag officer before, let alone speak with one. “What could he possibly want…?” Her hand went to her skirt pocket. “I’ll take it in my office.”