First mow of the season revealed this handsome fellow.
He’s a very angry racer snake. Not poisonous. Definitely not as happy to meet us and we were to meet him. I shared the teaching moment then let him return to his business.
Same day, my daughter fell and broke her right wrist in two places and sprained her left wrist while carrying the baby’s highchair back into the house.
My poor baby is the mother of three, including my youngest granddaughter who is only 1-year old. Try explaining to a one-year-old that Mommy can’t pick her up because her arm hurts. 🙁
But on the UP side, my friend Teresa Hill has put together this fun collection of heroes from books that currently are FREE or 99¢. Take your pick from Donna, Fasano, Lisa Mondello, Patricia Keelyn, Kathryn Shay, Judith Arnold, Patricia McLinn, Teresa Hill and me. You can’t go wrong–on the hero or the books. Here’s the link: ValentinesHeroes.
In LOVE, AFTER ALL – West Coast Happily-Ever-After #5, Arley, the hero in the meme above, is a great guy with a big heart. (He’s also a trust fund baby who is a bit bored and a little lost.) His current windmill-worthy mission is helping a sweet old woman fight the Powers That Be to keep her pet pig, Cuddles. Arley’s “1%er” parents aren’t amused. And they’re even less pleased when Arley is photographed kissing his attorney, Gwyneth–the woman Arley knows is his one and only true love. But convincing Gwyneth they’re destined to be together might be the biggest challenge of his life.
I hope your VALENTINE’S DAY is delightful–or, in my case, less eventful!
Look who’s here to share an excerpt from her delicious romance Following His Heart: Donna Fasano, a USA Today bestselling author whose award-winning books have been translated into nearly 2 dozen languages and have sold 4 million copies worldwide.
Sara Carson is a 30-something widow with a busy life. Two fun-loving best friends, a caring mom who needs her, and a thriving sweet shop. What more could a woman want? But when the ancient plumbing in her shop springs a leak and a gorgeous, dark-eyed stranger rushes to her rescue, hilarity unfolds–and Sara quickly sees exactly what she’s been missing.
Something most peculiar draws Landon Richards to Ocean City, Maryland–and to the lovely Sara. This woman touches his heart like no other, and the two of them explore the heady attraction that pulses between them. But haunting dreams have a way of encroaching on reality, and the strange phenomenon that brings these two together will also threaten to tear them apart.
This is the first book in the Ocean City Boardwalk Series, where life for three enterprising women, Sara, Heather, and Cathy, isn’t just fun in the sun–love is waiting on those sandy shores!
Excerpt from FOLLOWING HIS HEART
by DONNA FASANO
“Landon, I can do things with buttercream frosting that would blow your mind.”
“I have no doubt.”
A couple of things happened simultaneously; she realized there had been a couple of heartbeats of swollen silence before he responded, and she replayed the words she’d just spoken in her head. She blanched and her hands went still. Then her lips parted, but no words came out. She set down the bag of icing and the cupcake on the stainless steel counter and tried to smile, but failed.
She blinked and gazed into his eyes, saw the desire smoldering there.
“That came out sounding much more, um…” She searched the air for a proper word, licking her lips and drawing her brows together. “Eh, ah, inappropriate than I intended.”
One corner of his mouth tipped upward. “I think it sounded perfectly appropriate, Sara.”
The air left her lungs at the sound of her name. How did he do that? Say her name so softly, yet make it sound so rich, and resonant, and full of emotion?
The oddest feeling churned in her chest, a heated giddiness that made it difficult for her to draw breath. Her arms felt shaky, and she set the cupcake on the counter so she could clutch the cold, rounded metal edging. She needed the support, and besides that she hoped to hide the tremble of her hands.
He was attracted to her. Wanted her. She’d have had to be stone-cold unconscious not to recognize it.
Before meeting Landon, she hadn’t thought about touching or being touched in a sexual way for a long, long time. She’d have thought desire was something she’d completely forgotten how to feel. But the human body was an amazing machine. Adrenalin surged and hormones coursed as a hot, greedy need thudded through her. Even as she stood at the island with at least three feet of space between them, she could feel herself being drawn to him like opposite poles of a magnet. The attraction was powerful. Too strong to be denied.
How they came together was anyone’s guess. Had she moved toward him, he toward her? Or had they converged simultaneously? Sara couldn’t be sure.
When she lifted her hands to place them on his chest, she noticed a smear of frosting on the side of her index finger, and she made to pull away so she could wipe her hand on her apron. But Landon captured her wrist and guided her finger to his lips. He slowly ran his tongue along her skin, the wet heat forced her breath to snag in her throat. Then he closed his lips around the pad of her finger and sucked gently.
“Mmmmm.” The low, husky sound reverberated from deep in his chest. “Delicious.”
“Come on now,” she whispered, sensual teasing in the words as she nuzzled his chin with the tip of her nose and then a light touch of her lips, “don’t you think you should share?”
His arms wrapped around her and he kissed her languidly, once, twice, three times, and then he covered her mouth with his, delving his tongue into the soft and willing recesses.
She closed her eyes and reveled in the luscious taste of sugar and butter and vanilla and him. Without thought, she leaned into him, drawing back her shoulders just a little and pressing her breasts into his chest. Oh, to be naked and feel the heat of his bare skin against hers; that would be wonderful. The desire urging her on was all-consuming; she didn’t have time to think about her actions, or to feel embarrassed by her bold behavior. She wanted to taste more of his kisses, she yearned to feel his hands on her body, she hungered for more… so much more.
Food=love in my books. Today’s mouthwatering recipe belongs to best selling author Barbara Ankrum. Author of A FAIR TO REMEMBER, book #5 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.
“You might call A FAIR TO REMEMBER a best friends-to-lovers story, but I prefer to call this one a do-over story of opportunities missed. I love do-over stories because they are really about finding resolution, which most of us never get in real life. But Jake and Olivia, of A FAIR TO REMEMBER, do get that chance, when they meet up 12 years after leaving Marietta, Montana, to fulfill a silly, pinky-swear promise to meet up at the Fair when she turns 30 to be each other’s fall back person. And that’s when it really gets interesting!” ~ Barbara
BLUE RIBBON LEMON MERINGUE PIE
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Barbara Ankrum
What fair experience would be complete without checking out the baked goods competition?
1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 drops yellow food color, if desired
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
• 2 Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
• 3 Heat oven to 475°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on cooling rack.
• 4 Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
• 5 Immediately stir at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 2 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon peel, lemon juice and food color. Pour into pie crust.
• 6 In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Beat in vanilla. Spoon onto hot pie filling. Spread over filling, carefully sealing meringue to edge of crust to prevent shrinking or weeping.
• 7 Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until meringue is light brown. Cool away from draft 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate cooled pie until serving. Store in refrigerator.
Excerpt from A FAIR TO REMEMBER
by Barbara Ankrum
“Enough about me,” Olivia said. “Tell me why you’re still single after all these years?”
Jake picked up another flat rock and skipped it across the water. It bounced to the middle of the moonlit river and disappeared. “I was no monk.”
“So,” she said, trying to lighten the mood, “tell me about your most inappropriate relationship.”
He looked at her like she was crazy. “No.”
“C’mon. You already know about mine.”
She bit her lip. “Are you saying there were no inappropriate relationships?”
“I’m saying I’m not discussing them with you.”
His gaze landed on her mouth where it lingered for a moment before returning to her eyes. His nostrils flared slightly and she knew what he was thinking. He was thinking exactly what she was thinking. Of its own accord, her tongue darted out to moisten her lips.
Was it self-preservation that they both looked away at once? But just when she thought she’d dodged a bullet, back he came.
“You scared of me, Liv?”
“What? No.” She gave a nervous laugh like that was the last thing she could possibly be. Nervous. Phhhfftt!
He sighed, then reached down to pull off a boot.
“What are you doing?” she inquired.
“Take off your clothes.”
Instinctively, she clamped her hands across her chest. “What?”
“C’mon. Not all your clothes. Just your dress. Your boots. Let’s go swimming.”
“We’ve done it a million times here.” Off came his other boot. “C’mon.”
Off came the black T-shirt over the holy-crikee ripped muscles of his torso. She inhaled at the sight of the new-to-her tats that covered one shoulder and forearm.
He followed her gaze and grinned. “Or are you scared of that, too?”
Oh, yes. She was definitely, definitely scared of that.
The owl they’d been listening to flapped across the water with low, swooping beats of its huge wings, barely skimming the surface of the river.
“I-I’m still a little drunk and, obviously, I-I don’t have a bathing suit.”
“When did you get so prissy? Underwear always sufficed before. When naked wasn’t appropriate.” He grinned and loosened the button on the top of his jeans and she heard the toe-curling sound of his zipper sliding down.
“We only did that once when we were fourteen and it was pitch black.” She watched the smooth, thick muscles of his back bunch and move beneath his skin like quicksilver as he slid off his jeans. He was wearing boxer briefs that outlined each and every sexy muscle in his thighs and backside, a view that made her mouth go dry.
He gestured at the dark night with one hand. “C’mon. It’s hot. And since you’ve put the nix on discussion of what’s got you so spooked, what’s a little swim between friends? When do we ever get this place all to ourselves, anyway?” Jake waded in a few steps then dove underwater.
“Grown men and women cannot be friends,” her sister Kate had declared once when Olivia had mentioned her relationship with Jake as a perfect example of male-female friendship, “because, in the sage words of Harry Burns to Meg Ryan’s Sally, ‘the sex part always gets in the way.’”
A warm rush of longing shuddered through her as she watched him shimmer under the surface of the water. Kate was right.
The sex part was a problem.
He shot straight up out of the water and gasped, the water sparkling in his hair.
More good reading to share from my friend, Donna Fasano:
by Donna Fasano
When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind…stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn’t chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.
USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women’s fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.