Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Soup Festival Continues


A small bowl of hot soup is an excellent way to start dinner. You can also enjoy soup for lunch by adding a small salad and fresh bread. This recipe works great for both meals. Add a glass of crisp white wine and enjoy!

Potato Soup
5 cups white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin, include 2” of green
¾ cup celery, chopped
¼ heaping cup carrot, scraped and chopped
5 cups (40 oz.) chicken stock, my favorite brand is Kitchen Basics
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. thyme
2 pinches allspice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. chives, finely cut – parsley works well, too

Simmer the potatoes, leeks, celery, carrot, herbs, and stock in a heavy 6-quart saucepan until the vegetables are tender, 30-40 minutes.

Run the soup though a food processor to break up larger chunks or mash by hand. Do not use a blender. The soup will be too smooth. Return soup to the saucepan.

Season with pepper. Pour the cream into a measuring cup. Stir in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ½ cup. Reverse the process and slowly stir the now-warm cream into the soup. This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the cream may curdle.

Heat the soup thoroughly, but do not to boil it.

Ladle into a tureen or individual bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley.

Leftovers freeze well.

Serves 8

I'll be back Monday. Until then...

Happy slurping!

Sloane
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Muse Likes Cowboys

by Holley Trent

Awhile back I was on Colorado’s 287 driving south to a meeting—doing my usual in-car sing-along to…oh, I want to say "Panic! at the Disco." Suddenly, with the mountains of the Front Range in view, my muse plopped her mouthy self into the front passenger seat and said, “Hey, you need write a cowboy romance.”

Naturally, I scoffed. I’m a Carolina girl (lapsed, but still). We didn’t have ranchers back east. We just had farmers. What do I know about cowboys (beyond the fact they tend to wear their jeans quite well)?

Muse said, “You’re thinking too literally. You can tell a cowboy story without it being a treatise on ranch management.”

And I said, “Oh yeah? You want to tell me what, precisely, this story should be about? ’Cause I’m plenty busy already.”

Muse said, “Picture it. A single dad workaholic living in the middle of the Wyoming boonies.”

I said: “Wyoming?”

Muse said: “Yeah? Remember that road trip through southeastern Wyoming and that never-ending dirt road that tested the mettle of your marriage?”

I said, “Oh. That. That was…educational.”

Muse said: “Now imagine a community so sparsely populated because of the size of the ranches that most of the kids are home-schooled.”

Me: “Uh…”

Muse said: “And because few people are really qualified to home-school those kids, a couple of those ranchers have to hire a tutor from a service.”

Me: “Ah. I see where you’re going here.”

Muse: “Fish out of water. Carolina beauty queen intellectual versus stubborn Wyoming rancher.”

Me: “Hmm. I might could work it. Can I have a big cast?”

Muse: “The biggest. Grey’s Anatomy didn’t have a cast this big.”

Me: “So I can write in some insane secondaries. Can I make it snarky?”

Muse: “The snarkiest, babe. I’ve got an idea for a sidekick named Phil. He can be this book’s resident misanthrope. Oh! And a bossy mother. You can have one of those, too.”

Me: “Okay. I’m tempted. Maybe after NaNoWriMo.”

Muse: “No. NOW. You don’t want to ignore me. Remember what happened last time?”

Me: *glowers*

Muse: “Oh. Since it’s going to be a doorstopper of a book, anyway, why not just go on ahead and add in a secret baby?”

Me: “Leave.”

Muse: “Fine. Be back next week. I have an idea for a—”

Me: “LALALALALALA.”

And, that’s how the story of Ronnie and John came to be. It’s called Teaching the Cowboy and is available for e-readers. Here, check it out.

She's a Carolina beauty queen, not a cowgirl, but one Wyoming rancher thinks she's perfectly qualified for the job that matters most.

A year in godforsaken Storafalt, Wyoming? No big deal…or so traveling tutor Veronica Silver tells herself. She needs hands-on experience with a special group of students to qualify for a grant, and her assigned passel of ranch kids are special cases, all right. Ronnie loves a challenge, but pitted against a small town’s far-too-active grapevine and a woeful lack of amenities, she worries she won’t be able to hack it.

With the education system in Storafalt sorely lacking, rancher John Lundstrom thought hiring a private tutor would ease some of his considerable stress. What he didn’t expect was a powerful mutual attraction with Ronnie or her steadfast refusal to let him properly court her. She’s on a one-year assignment and wants no entanglements when it’s time to go home to North Carolina.

An unplanned pregnancy and Ronnie’s ensuing deception spins the Lundstrom ranch into a major upheaval. John refuses to let Ronnie run away with his daughter, but he may be forced to compromise when her homesickness threatens to drive a wedge between the two lonely hearts once and for all.

To read an excerpt from this book or any others by Holley Trent, please click a vendor's name. Musa Publishing - Amazon



Holley Trent writes contemporary and paranormal romances with Southern sass. Her previous Musa releases are the chick-litty Executive Decision and Her Resident Jester. Holley's comedic paranormals Mrs. Roth’s Merry Christmas and Love by Premonition.

Learn more about Holley and her upcoming works on her website and blog. Stay in touch with Twitter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Warm and Wonderful

My tribute to National Soup Month continues with a rich soup that is great before a meal or as the meal. I usually triple the recipe because this soup freezes beautifully.

Cream of Broccoli Soup
1½ pounds broccoli
4 tbsp. butter
½ cup onions, chopped
¼ cup red pepper, chopped
4 tbsp. flour
6 cups chicken stock
¼ cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. ground thyme
8 black peppercorns or fresh ground to taste
2 pinches of nutmeg
3 eggs yolks
1 cup heavy cream
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated* optional

Cut off broccoli florets and set aside. Chop stems and branches a bit.

Melt butter in a 3-4 quart saucepan. Add all the broccoli pieces, onions, and red peppers. Sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Do not let the onions brown or the soup will be bitter.

Sprinkle the flour across the vegetables, and then stir to coat them as evenly as possible.

Add all the remaining ingredients, except the last three. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and lower the heat to a hearty simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.

Add the nutmeg off heat. Strain the soup from the pulp. To do this pour the soup into a large bowl. Wipe out the post with a paper towel. Set a colander over the pot, then carefully pour in the soup mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to extract the liquid. Discard the pulp and return the pot to medium-low heat.

Whisk the egg yolks into the cream. Stir in 5 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup. **

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with pepper if necessary.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 8 bowls.

*My oldest granddaughter likes to sprinkle a fair amount onto her soup. I prefer it heated in the soup as it melts better.
**This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.

I'll be back Monday with Sharon Ledwith and two of her famous recipes. Until then...

Happy slurping!

Sloane
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome to the blog tour celebrating the 1 Year Anniversary of the release of Paranormal Gothic Horror Novel ~

STRUCK by Clarissa Johal  

Follow the tour (schedule posted below) to read new reviews, interviews with Clarissa, and exclusive excerpts.

"The shadows hadn't been waiting. The shadows had been invited."


BLURB
After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

EXCERPT
Gwynneth awoke what seemed like seconds later. The green glow from her digital alarm clock read one thirty-two in the morning. She had been asleep for several hours. She felt Seth roll over and slide his arm around her waist. His leg slid over her thigh. Well, this is awkward, she thought. And a little on the sexy side too. She contemplated going back to sleep. Like that would be easy now. She felt completely awake in more ways than one. Sighing, she decided to do the right thing and tell Seth he should go back to his own bed. She started to roll over and felt the hard press of buttons down the sensitive skin on her back, and right away, she knew it wasn’t Seth.

She leapt out of bed. “Jesus! Where’s Seth?”

“In his room,” Julian replied.

He was dressed in the same clothing she’d seen him in last, which made her feel only slightly better, considering that he had been pressed up against her only seconds ago. Gwynneth straightened her pajama top and pushed past him.

Seth lay sprawled across his own bed, snoring lightly. “He looks so peaceful,” Julian murmured in her ear.

She pushed him back into the living room, closing Seth’s door behind them. “Can he see you if he wakes up?” she whispered.

“No.”

That means I’m crazy, of course. Dammit. “I saw one of them in here, Julian. Those shadow things. I saw it. It went into Seth’s bedroom.”

A small frown creased his smooth brow. “You must have been imagining things, Gwynneth. Are you positive?”

“Yes.” She stared at him uncertainly. “You have to keep those things out of here.”

“You are asking for my help, then?”

Gwynneth hesitated. The question seemed to imply much more than it sounded.

“I need something from you in return,” Julian said quietly. He took her arms. “Just a small token. You won’t miss it.”

She pushed him away and took a step back. “I don’t understand.” She covered her face with her hands. “I’m going crazy. I must be. You’re a figment of my imagination. Forget it, Julian. Just go away.”

“Is that what you think I am?” He gently removed her hands from her face. “I’m not a figment of your imagination, Gwynneth. I assure you.”

She looked up at him. His face was so beautiful. Mesmerizing. She felt herself lean toward him without thinking.

“A small token.” His gloved thumb stroked her cheek hypnotically. “I can offer you so much in return. Let me show you.”

His storm-filled eyes made her feel like she was drowning. Before she could reply, Gwynneth was pulled into blackness.

Folding. Everything was folding in on them. The weight of the air pressed against her skin, crushing her. Beyond the air around her was something evil. Waiting. She could feel it. Poised to strike, it was ready to yank her from Julian’s grasp. She clung to Julian in fear, the blood pounding in her ears.

The weight was suddenly lifted, and they stood in the empty reception room of Homestead. “What was that—?” she began. ”Why are we here?”

“Trust me.” Julian held her as she gained her bearings again. “I will show you what it can be.”

“Nobody will die?”

“If you trust me.”

Perplexed, she allowed him to lead her down the hallway. They arrived at room 102—Mr. Allen’s room. Gwynneth liked Mr. Allen. Everyone liked Mr. Allen. Even his children came to visit him several times a week. There was always laughter and joy when he was in the room. She hated that his medication made him forget things from time to time, but most of the residents were on medication of some kind.

Mr. Allen sat on his bed, doing crosswords puzzles as he usually did. He was an insomniac, and she wasn’t surprised to see that he was awake at one thirty in the morning.

“He can’t see us either?” she whispered.

“No.” Julian stood behind her. His hands slid up her arms, and he nudged her forward. “Watch, Gwynneth.”

She watched, trepidation pricking at her insides. Something peeled itself from the wall and occupied space in the room. Something dark and filled with need.

“What is that?” she breathed. “Julian, you promised.” In a blink, it was beside Mr. Allen. The figure jerked and flickered, humanlike, but wrong. Its arms and legs were moving backwards against their joints, and its face morphed, but wouldn’t settle. It reached out with lightning speed and grabbed Mr. Allen by the shoulders.
“No!” she screamed.

Julian stopped her from lunging forward. His fingers dug painfully into her arms. “Tell it to go away, Gwynneth.” He pulled her back against his chest. “Stop it from taking his life. You can, you know.”

Her heart raced. Gwynneth felt like the air was being sucked from the room. Mr. Allen fell backwards onto his bed, and the figure crawled over him like an insect.

She lunged against Julian’s viselike grip. “Stop!”

The black figure immediately separated itself from Mr. Allen. In a blink, it was on them, and they fell backwards onto the floor. Icy cold washed over Gwynneth as the creature enveloped her body like a second skin. She was unable to catch her breath or think clearly.

“Enough!” Julian commanded.

It pulled away from them.

She gasped for air, but couldn’t seem to get enough into her lungs. This is what drowning feels like, she told herself. Or dying. She sensed the dark figure was barely containing itself from assaulting her again, and she could hear Julian mutter something. An incantation. The presence left as quickly as it came.

Footsteps echoed down the hallway, and Fenten burst into the room. “Mr. Allen? Shit.” He picked up the room phone and punched 9-1-1.

“Time to go now,” Julian murmured.

They were in her bedroom again, and she sagged against him, her energy drained. “What just happened?”

“A miracle.”

“I don’t believe in those. Am I hallucinating?”

“Perhaps. And now we must discuss our exchange.”

Publisher: Musa Publishing
Cover Artist: Kelly Shorten
ISBN: 978-1-61937-690-8 
Number of Pages: 255
Price: $4.99

Purchase Links:
Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

*Member of the Author's Guild


Coming May 19, 2015 from Permuted Press
VOICES, a paranormal psychological horror

STRUCK, a paranormal gothic horror
(2014) Musa Publishing
*Indie Book of the Day Award
*Nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014

BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal
(2012) Musa Publishing
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012
*Paranormal Reads gives BETWEEN 4 out of 5 Bats

PRADEE, a young adult fantasy
(2010) CreateSpace
*Second round finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012

Short stories:
PIGEONS, published in the literary journal Susurrus
THE ROPE, published in the literary journal Susurrus

Non-Fiction:
A WAY OF LIFE, published in The Sacramento Bee

Find Clarissa Online:
Praise for STRUCK:

Lovely Reads
"This book grabs you in right away and hold your attention...I so loved this book and didn't put it down until the very end." Read More ~ Lovely Reads

Bex 'n' Books
"This is a spooky thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won't be able to put it down because you must finish it to see what happens, even if it keeps you up late at night to do so." Read More ~ Bex'n'Books 

Bibliophilic Book Blog
"STRUCK will get beneath your skin from the very beginning. Gwen’s a likable character with a difficult past and tenuous future after meeting Julian. I liked the secondary characters, especially Fenten and Poppy. The characters were definitely all well-developed and engaging." Read More ~ Bibliophilic Book Blog 

Straight from the Library
"The characters are well drawn and likable....The action is fast paced-- I read the book in one sitting." Read More ~ Straight from the Library 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How did you come up with the idea for STRUCK?
Some stories begin as random scenes, some as characters, and some are born from asking the question, “What if?” I was hit with the idea of STRUCK while running on a forest trail near my house. It was during a thunderstorm and I wondered what it would be like to be hit by lightning. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night and in essence, those entities are energy. What if a portal was opened by a lightning strike? And what if that portal allowed the energy from those entities to escape? The idea was intriguing and I went to bed still thinking about it. That night, I dreamt I stood in a field, with lightning striking the ground all around me. But the lightning wasn’t just releasing electrical energy, the lightning was releasing negative entities from the Otherworld. I woke from the nightmare in a panic, thinking those entities had somehow attached themselves to me. And so a story is born.

I went on to research the effects of being struck by lightning, interviewed several lightning survivors, and began writing STRUCK. I’m continually amazed how a, “What if?” idea can expand into a novel.

What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?
I wrote my first short story in grade six. I was asked by the teacher to read it aloud to the class, which terrified me. After I was finished, I realized that I actually had everyone’s attention! I was shy and we moved every year, so I was always the new kid. When you’re in that situation, it’s kind of like being invisible. Finding my voice through story-telling made me realize how powerful writing could be. As far as continuing—truthfully? I think I’d go nuts if I didn’t write.

What made you choose the genre of paranormal gothic horror?
I started out writing fantasy fiction. I was working on the second installment to my PRADEE series when there were two characters that kept showing up on the page, over and over. They didn’t belong in fantasy novel, nor did they belong in my story! But their backstory came to me so vividly, that I set aside my series and wrote my first paranormal novel, BETWEEN. I’ve been pulled into the Otherworld permanently now. The ideas come faster than I can write them down.



Tour Presented by:



Tour Schedule:

January 1: Tour Kick-Off http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

January 2: Exclusive Excerpt http://ifeeltheneedtheneedtoread.com/

January 4: Review http://www.carolynspearromance.com/blog

January 5: Review HorrorMade.blogspot.com

January 7: Exclusive Excerpt http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

January 9: Exclusive Excerpt http://aliciajoseph.com/

January 12: Review https://twitter.com/peach83352

January 15: Exclusive Excerpt http://darcnina.wordpress.com

January 17: Review http://mullenarmyfamily.blogspot.com/

January 19: Exclusive Excerpt http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com/

January 20: Exclusive Excerpt http://www.babsbookbistro.net/

January 21: Interview http://ifeeltheneedtheneedtoread.com/

January 23: Exclusive Excerpt https://fillingspaces.wordpress.com/

January 26: Interview http://karengreco.blogspot.com/

January 28: Review http://neutiquamerro.wordpress.com

January 31: Reviews (by 3 different tour hosts)

1) http://ifeeltheneedtheneedtoread.com/

2) http://www.themoralofourstories.com

3) http://hello-booklover.tumblr.com/

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cooking Up Something Good

My good friend Sharon Ledwith joins us in the kitchen with one of her famous soups. Today Sharon is preparing Thumbs-Up Ham and Potato Soup. The kitchen is all yours, Sharon!

In my book, Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series—Istulo, a high priestess from the Black Land is a whiz when it comes to concocting potions and elixirs. But I bet she’d trade an arcane secret or two just for a taste of this mouth-watering ham and potato brew. Easy to prepare with a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of 25 minutes, this heavenly soup will get a thumbs-up from even the fussiest high priest or priestess in your brood.

Thumbs-Up Ham and Potato Soup
3½ cups peeled and diced potatoes
⅓ cup diced celery
⅓ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup diced cooked ham
3¼ cups water
2 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
1 tsp. ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tbsp. butter
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Combine potatoes, celery, onion, ham, and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil. Lower temp to medium heat. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper.

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a separate saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Stir in milk slowly as not to allow lumps to form. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4-5 minutes.

Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through.

Serve immediately.

Now, while you’re waiting for the potato and ham soup to digest why not put your feet up and relax with a good book? Ready for a trip to Atlantis?

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

To read an excerpt from Legend of the Timekeepers please click here.

Legend of the Timekeepers Buy Links:
MUSA PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀ SMASHWORDS ׀ APPLE


BONUS FREE READ

Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Check out The Last Timekeepers series Facebook Page.


Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sexy Sara Daniel is Back

Sara Daniel has a brand new book that is sure to be a favorite for all you paranormal romance lovers. Loving the Amnesia Bride is a perfect addition to the Wiccan Haus series from Musa Publishing. Be sure to check out this new release.

Be sure to read on to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

If she remembers the past, they won't have a future.

Gwen Fairfax awakens in a hospital, deluged by stabbing head pain and unable to remember anything about her past, especially the man who claims to be her fiancé. A trip to the Wiccan Haus is her only hope to discover the woman she used to be, her mysterious dreams about a resort, and the man who’s supposedly the love of her life.

Tucker Wilde is willing to do anything to stop his stepmother’s land development schemes from ruining the natural habitat he’s dedicated his life to preserving. But he never expects he’ll have to go so far as to pretend to be engaged to the woman his brother left at the altar. He knows better than to trust anyone in cahoots with his stepmother. But he feels an overwhelming need to protect the sweet, vulnerable woman who has no one to turn to but him. Soon, he’s losing sight of the fact that the engagement isn’t real.

Gwen tempts him at every turn, hoping physical contact between them will jog her memory. If she never remembers the past, Tucker begins to believe they could make a life together. But if the Wiccan Haus delivers on healing her memory, it will destroy any hope for their future.

EXCERPT
“This week is for you, Gwen, not me.”

She shook her head as they stepped into the elevator. “It’s for both of us. Just because you’re helping me get my memory back doesn’t mean you should have any less of a vacation.”

If Tucker wasn’t enjoying himself, why would he want to share his life with her? Up until dinner, his complete focus had been on her, but his eyes didn’t shine when he looked at her the way they did when he talked about his conservation efforts.

Just because they were engaged didn’t mean their relationship had been perfect before she’d lost her memory. By paying attention to what he loved, she could strengthen their bond or discover they weren’t right for each other at all.

As the elevator crawled upward, she glanced at him, unable to believe he wasn’t right for her. Not only was she comfortable with him, their chemistry compounded with every passing moment. The real question was if she fit with him, but she didn’t know herself well enough to answer.

The elevator doors opened, and he placed his palm against her back as they exited. A few steps later, they stopped in front of her room. “This is you,” he said.

“Yeah.” Now what? She had no idea how to wrap up the evening and no past experience to fall back on. “Would you like to come in for a cup of coffee?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Is that a euphemism for something else?”

Oh gosh, she might not have a memory, but she understood what she’d implied. She forced a laugh to cover her embarrassment and deflect the sex offer she definitely wasn’t ready for him to take her up on. “Apparently, you’ve gotten engaged to a clichéd and trite woman. I fell asleep so fast earlier I didn’t notice if the room had a coffee pot.”

His lips twitched. “I would never get engaged to a cliché. Don’t sell yourself short.”

She rubbed her temples. If he’d been attracted to something unique and special about her, she’d like a clue what that thing might be. She enjoyed getting reacquainted with him, but getting to know herself proved far more unsettling. “Okay, no coffee and no euphemistic coffee. Uh, good night?”

“A good night kiss?” he suggested.

She dropped her gaze to his full pink lips. How many times had those lips kissed hers before? She wanted to remember, but she couldn’t handle the intimacy of a full, deep kiss when who she was remained elusive.

Rising on her tiptoes, she brushed her lips over his cheek, scratchy with his customary beard stubble. The touch warmed her, inviting her to linger and explore his face. Instead, she pulled away.

BUY LINK

a Rafflecopter giveaway


To read excerpts from other books by Sara Daniel please click a vendor's name Musa Publishing - Amazon.


Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction and was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband, and she gets amnesia at least three times a day because she can never remember where she left her keys!

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

LET THEM EAT SOUP!

Okay, so it's not the best takeoff on Marie Antoinette's infamous saying, but that was my little way of announcing that January is National Soup Month. It's true. You can check it out on Wikipedia. In honor of this auspicious event, my January posts will be dedicated to soup, well, at least the Wednesday posts. So tie on your aprons and let's get cooking!

Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 lb. fresh mushrooms – use 2 or 3 different types
8 tbsp. butter
2 small shallots or scallions, finely chopped
6 tbsp. flour
1 qt. chicken stock *
¼ cup dry sherry
2 egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
White pepper**

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Pull the stems and caps apart. Put pieces in a food processor. Run until chopped. The mix will almost look like a paste. Or fine dice the mushrooms by hand.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a 10-12 inch skillet. Add mushrooms and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Set the skillet aside.

In a heavy 6-quart saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Do NOT let this brown too much or it will be bitter. The roux should be no darker than a caramel/tan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool 10-15 seconds, then pour in the stock while whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium-high heat and stir until the soup base thickens and is smooth, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the mushrooms and sherry. Simmer for 15 minutes, but be sure to stir occasionally.

Blend the egg yolks into the cream with a whisk. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of hot soup at a time until you’ve added ¾ cup. Reverse the process and slowly whisk the now-warm mixture into the soup. ***

Bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and season with pepper.

Serve from a tureen or in individual bowls.

This recipe makes 6 bowls

*You can substitute up to half the amount with dry white wine
**In this recipe white pepper is used for its slightly sharper taste. There is no need to make a special trip to buy white pepper. Black pepper will work fine, just use a little more.
***This may seem like extra work, but if you don’t do it the yolks and cream will curdle.

I'll be back Monday. Until then...

Happy slurping!

Sloane
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Monday, January 05, 2015

SUSPENSE - A SPECIALTY OF VONNIE HUGHES

I am happy to bring you Innocent Hostage, the latest novel from Vonnie Hughes. A tense hostage situation sets the pace of this action-packed romantic suspense. Breck Marchant and his four-year old son, Kit, are caught in a frighteningly plausible situation that can happen to anyone in today’s world. Ingrid Rowland provides the calm presence that holds these three people together as they struggle to right their lives and survive.

Innocent Hostage is a compelling story with the right amount of twists and turns and red herrings that kept me enthralled and guessing to the last page.

Two years ago, Breck Marchant handed his son, Kit, over to his ex-wife, Tania, even though it tore him apart. She knows all about kids. Thanks to his own upbringing, he hasn’t a clue. But when the boy is held hostage, Breck steps up to the plate. Somehow he’ll make this father thing work and hold down his dangerous job at the same time even though the odds are against him.

Ingrid Rowland is Kit’s preschool teacher and she has known Tania for years. As far as she can tell, neither Tania nor Breck know the first thing about being parents. She fears for Kit’s future. When Breck turns to Ingrid for help with his son, she sees a different side of him. As Breck and Ingrid work to protect Kit and hold on to their careers, they begin to work together to fight off a puzzling series of vicious attacks. Then a startling revelation culminates in a murderous turn nobody sees coming.

EXCERPT
Toeing the inside of each stair tread he climbed the stairs that led to the bedrooms. As he got near the top, he hesitated. More perfume, different from the smell of soap powder hung in the air. Tania’s perfume, strong and poignant. It was called Chloe. He ought to know. He’d bought enough of the stuff.

He stopped. Was she here? Had she been here? That stuff lingered for a long time. Their apartment had stunk of it for weeks after she’d left.

“Tania?” he whispered.

A disturbance in the air was his only warning. He ducked as something whizzed over the top of his head. Then he was shoved aside as a dark figure pushed past him. Breck clutched at the banisters, his feet shooting out from under him on the slippery carpet. Shit! Scrambling to his feet, he bounced down the last couple of stairs and chased the stocky figure careening down the hallway.

His quarry wrenched open the front door. Dusk had settled and it was almost dark outside. He managed to grab his attacker’s coat and began reeling in the interloper like a fish. But the man wriggled out of his plastic raincoat and fled towards a blue pick-up truck waiting at the curb. His balding head gleamed under the streetlights. Someone inside the vehicle leaned over and flung open the passenger door, revving the engine just as Breck aimed a solid punch at the back of the attacker’s neck. Reeling against the car door, the man half-collapsed on to the front seat of the truck, his legs hanging out the door. The driver floored the accelerator and the blue truck jerked out from the curb as if the driver was unfamiliar with the gears.

BUY LINKS
The Wild Rose Press - Amazon

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on Musa Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.