My guest blogger today is a brand new friend, Trish Morey.
Trish is a USA Today Bestselling author of thirty Harlequin Presents romances, all featuring strong alpha heroes and the women who can tame them, (with some pretty hot sex along the way:-)) .
Her latest release–Second Chance Bride–is part of The Great Wedding Giveaway series from Montana Born Books/Tule Publishing.
I just started reading this book and I can’t stop grinning. 🙂 What’s not to love about a heroine named Scarlett Buck? Grab this fun little storyTODAY while it’s on SALE for just 99¢! Here’s theLINK.
And check out Trish’s Lemonade* Scones recipe below. Doesn’t this sound like the PERFECT food for a wedding breakfast or bridal luncheon? And it looks so darn easy, even I could make it.
*To my profound surprise, “lemonade” in Australia is the equivalent of 7-Up in the US. Sorry for the confusion. I don’t get out much.
Recipe Type: side dish
Author: Trish Morey
Please note, the instructions show two versions–one for those of us in the USA and one for those of you who understand metric. AND, it appears that “Lemonade” in Australia is actually “7-UP” in the US. Who knew?!!
1 cup pure cream
1 cup lemonade/ or we in the US would be using 7-Up
3 cups self raising flour
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 200C (400F) or 180C (350F) fan forced.
Grease and flour baking tray, or line tray with baking paper.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix lightly until combined. Scrape onto a floured surface, knead lightly and shape into rectangle about 3cm high. Cut scones with 5cm/2 inch scone cutter.
Lightly dust with flour and bake for 15-20mins or until tops are brown.
Serve with raspberry or strawberry jam and clotted cream.
“I heard there was a new girl.”
Scarlett jumped. She’d thought she was alone, but now her eyes were beginning to adjust to the low light, she could see the woman sitting on a sofa across the room, a magazine in her lap, her skin fair, her lips red and her long black hair gleaming under the lights like a silken curtain.
“It is that obvious?” Scarlett said, trying to sound light but painfully aware of the nerves in her voice. Any minute someone was going to figure her for the impostor she was and throw her out.
But then the woman smiled. “First day in a new place is always the hardest. I’m Jasmine,” she said, her name as exotic as her looks.
“Yeah. From Montana. You?”
“Thailand,” she said, shifting the magazine to smooth down the fluffy hem of the red baby doll that floated just above her slim thighs. “Bella’s is a good place to work. You’ll like it.”
Scarlett very much doubted it but she smiled and nodded her thanks anyway. There was no point explaining she’d only be here until she made enough money for her fare home.
And then Bella walked in with her grey bob and pearls and looking so much more like a school librarian than any madam she could possibly have imagined.
She clapped her hands, “Look lively girls, Rule number one, let’s not keep the customer waiting.”
Scarlett was so not ready for this. Oh, she might be Scarlett Buck, the flaky twin, the girl with the anti-Midas touch who could turn golden opportunities into dust and managed to do so with infuriating regularity. She might have driven her sister to despair and her mother to drink on too many occasions to count, but to be forced to this?
Jasmine rose from the sofa and flicked back her hair, no trace of hesitation. Whereas she–
Barely-contained nerves got the better of her.
She needed more time – just a few more minutes to get used to the idea. ‘I’ll sit this one out,’ she offered. “Jasmine was here first, after all.”
“Nonsense!” boomed Bella as she took her hand and hauled her off the sofa in a very un-school librarian kind of way. Before Scarlett knew it she was lined up alongside the other girl and Bella was reminding them to smile. “Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, I always say.”
Great. So much for getting used to the idea. Any moment now a middle aged man with grey hair and a paunch would come sauntering through that door and size her up to be his sexual plaything for the next however long and still she would have to smile and make him feel like she wanted nothing more than to hop into the sack with him.
Oh, Scarlett Buck, you have really have done it this time.
She raised her eyes to the ceiling and sent one last silent prayer to the heavens and her family and anyone else who might possibly be listening up there and could help: I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. But it won’t be for long, I promise, and after this I’ll never, ever, disappoint you, ever again.
And then she heard Jasmine’s, “Welcome to Bella’s, I’m Jasmine,” and a cold shiver of apprehension snaked down her spine as she summoned up a smile. She opened her eyes, her hundred watt smile fully charged and ready to dazzle the client despite the nerves clawing at her insides. “Welcome to B—“
She stopped and blinked, and tried again. “Welcome to…”
But there was no finishing. Because it didn’t make sense. Because he didn’t make sense. She’d been expecting middle aged and desperate whereas the man in front of her was anything but. He was nowhere near middle aged for a start, his short cropped hair dark blonde and thick, and – she flicked her eyes down his denim clad legs and up again – there wasn’t so much as a hint of a paunch in sight.
Far from it.
Instead, he was built. Six foot two of hard-packed built, if she wasn’t mistaken, with a face that looked in the glow from the red light like it had been chiseled from outback rock itself, full of rugged angles and red planes and secret, shadowed depths.
Since when did someone who looked like him have to visit a place like this?
“You must forgive Scarlett,” Bella said from what sounded like a long way away. “She’s new.”
“Excuse me,” she said, snapping to, her smile getting tangled in the confusion on her lips. “Welcome to Bella’s.”
And with that he was gone, disappeared with Bella back into the office to make his choice.
Like he needed time for that.
She dropped back into the sofa, her face in her hands. Oh god, was there nothing she could do right? Nothing she couldn’t screw up?
She might as well pack her things right now.
She looked up, resigned for the dressing down if not the sacking from Bella she knew was coming, that she knew she deserved. “Yes?”
“Congratulations.” Bella looked as surprised as Scarlett felt. “You just got your first client.”
OOOhhh…you have to be asking yourself…will she or won’t she? I can’t tell you. That wouldn’t be fair. Grab a copy to find out.
I’m so excited to welcome my friend C.J. Carmichael to the blog. CJ and I go way back and I’m a huge fan.
Her new release is Good Together, and her recipe comes via her heroine, Mattie Carrigan’s grandmother. The recipe is actually discussed in the book when Mattie and her daughters are preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Mattie very cleverly shuffles a bunch of family recipes and lets the girls each pick one to make. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try.
(And I highly recommend Good Together. See my review below.)
Mattie Carrigan’s subconscious figured out the problem first. She was dreaming that she and her husband Wes were in the airport. “You screwed up the reservation,” he was yelling. “We’re booked on two separate flights.”
She opened her eyes, heart racing, relieved to be in bed at their ranch in Montana and not trying desperately to get to Denver where one of their daughters had started college two months ago. They’d picked different schools, Portia and Wren, one moving south, the other west to Seattle, which drove Mattie crazy. It was difficult enough having her children leave the nest. Couldn’t they at least go to the same place?
The night was still, dark and silent. Curtains fluttered in the breeze from the open window to her left. Wes was in the bed to her right, his naked back a wall blocking the digital time display on their alarm clock.
What time had he rolled in?
He hadn’t been there when she’d gone to bed around one a.m. So he’d driven late into the night to get here. And judging from the Head and Shoulders scent of him, even taken the time to shower.
She wanted to move closer and snuggle up against his warm, tanned skin. But something—a nasty stew of resentment, fear and hurt—stopped her.
Pushing aside her covers, Mattie slipped to the washroom down the hall. A weak nightlight—installed eighteen years ago when the twins were babies—kept her from stubbing her toes on Wes’s boots. Damn, why hadn’t he taken them off in the mudroom?
He’d been to another rodeo this weekend. She’d seen his scores posted on the Internet and they’d been low, so he wouldn’t have brought home any prize money. He hadn’t for the past six months. A sign that at thirty-nine, he was getting too old to be a rodeo cowboy.
The rosemary and bergamot infusion sticks on the back of the toilet tank couldn’t mask the odor of horse manure and cowboy sweat that permeated the pile of Wes’s clothes on the tiled floor. As she peed, she stared at his faded Wrangler jeans, and old blue and white checked shirt.
Not that long ago—definitely less than a year—Wes would have woken her up when he got home, no matter how late. They’d make love and then he’d tell her how things had gone. The broncs he’d drawn and the scores he’d made. He’d fill her in on the latest gossip—who’d been injured and who was riding high. And the romances. Someone sleeping with someone else’s wife…it happened all the time.
Mattie stared at her reflection as she washed her hands. The low light was flattering, masking the new age-freckles that had popped out this summer. Now that she was almost forty, she had to be more careful with her sunscreen, she supposed, though she’d never been one for fussing about her appearance.
Her sisters would say she relied too much on the looks she’d inherited from their mother. And she knew it was true, and that she’d been lucky. Good bones and teeth, thick hair and pretty eyes. She’d taken these assets for granted, never guessing that one day they wouldn’t be enough for her husband.
Because that had to be the reason they were drifting apart, right?
He no longer found her attractive. Maybe he’d found someone new…?
Mattie put a hand to her chest, feeling the pain as she entertained this new suspicion…that her husband had fallen for somebody new.
But then common sense prevailed. This was Wes, her husband of nineteen years. They were a team. Had been a team forever. Raising their girls. Running the ranch. They did everything together. And he valued that as much as she did.
She’d never doubted Wes in all the nineteen years of their marriage, even though they’d spent a lot of that time apart. And she wouldn’t doubt him now.
They were just moving into a new stage of life, that was the problem. Every couple went through this when their children moved away from home. For sure she and Wes were handling the change differently. She was clinging in every way possible—text messaging them many times a day, sending care packages from home—whereas Wes rarely mentioned them. Wren said he hadn’t called her once since she’d left.
Mattie hung back in the doorway, watching Wes sleep, feeling oddly distant, like she was observing a stranger. They’d met at a rodeo, when she was only eighteen. Ended up married and pregnant before either one of them was twenty. Not a recipe for marital success.
And yet, they’d defied the odds.
Just a year ago she would have called them happy. Wes was her partner, the father of her children, her best friend. They told each other everything.
But not anymore.
“Mat? What’s going on?” Wes lifted his head from his pillow. His dark hair all but covered his eyes.
“I had a bad dream.”
“Worried about the kids?” His head flopped back. “Don’t. They’re fine.”
He always said that. She was the one who worried. But this time, it wasn’t about Wren and Portia. “We need to talk.”
Wes groaned. “In the morning. Get back to bed. It’s bloody freezing in here. Did you leave the window open, again?”
She loved fresh air when she slept, but Wes preferred to be toasty warm. That meant open windows in the summer, but come October when the cold winds blew off the Mission Mountains, they had to be closed.
She pushed aside the curtains, then cranked the lever until the window was flush with the wall. Quietly she crept back under the covers, loving the coolness of the sheets on her side of the bed. On her back, she stared at the ceiling, waiting to see if Wes would turn and pull her into his arms.
Come morning, Mattie was up before dawn, dressed for work in old jeans and a flannel shirt. She stood by the bedroom window as she fastened her buttons. In the faint light she could see mist hanging low to the ground and clinging to the Mission mountains. It would be cold outside. She slipped an extra pair of socks on her feet.
Wes was still sleeping and she closed the door after herself so he wouldn’t be disturbed.
He generally slept late after a rodeo. She never did. Nothing happened in her day until the horses had been fed. Wes insisted this was ridiculous because they had hired men to do the morning chores. Well, these days it was only Jake. But Mattie had been raised on a ranch and the rules on the Circle C had been inviolate. No one eats before the animals.
Mattie brought up the twins the same way. From a young age, no matter the weather, she’d bundled them up and taken them to the stables with her. They’d adored trailing the feed cart as she dole out rations, petting the barn cats, and jumping in the wood chips that were used for bedding. But when they hit their teen years, suddenly Wren became a night-hawk and couldn’t drag herself out of bed any earlier than fifteen minutes before the school bus arrived, while Portia’s new hair and makeup routine required at least an hour of prep time , rendering her unavailable for anything as prosaic as ranch chores.
Mattie missed all of this—the early childhood years and the stormy teenaged years—with an intensity that made her chest ache. Something vital had been scooped out of her body the day she and Wes drove the twins to the Missoula airport. Was she always going to feel this hollow?
After filling a to-go mug with coffee that had been programed the night before to brew fresh at six a.m., Mattie almost tripped on the sleeve of a jacket that had been tossed toward a stool—and only partially hit its target. The light navy windbreaker was Wes’s. She bent over to pick it up, wrinkling her nose at the scent of tobacco smoke—he must have worn it into a bar. Intending to hang it on one of the pegs in the mud room, she paused when she noticed a key had fallen from one of the pockets.
She picked it up, frowning because their house keys were silver-colored, not brass. Besides, Wes kept all his keys on a ring. So what was this for?
I finished reading the book a few nights ago and still find myself thinking about these characters. It’s a wonderful read. Rich and emotional. CJ’s characters are so real and their situation so authentically written, you can’t help but care about them. It’s unlike any marriage-in-jeopardy story I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it.