Apples, Apples, Apples

A guest post by Emma Lane where she shares new ideas for applesauce flavors and an excerpt from her regency romance, “The Duke and Miss Amabel Hawkins”.

FRUIT APPLES Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Such a gorgeous fruit. A fruit bowl on the dining room table lends a nice fragrance to the room; apple bobbing and caramel apples are for Halloween. Did your mom ever make fresh apple sauce? Nothing like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, is it? At my little Herbtique Shoppe here in Western NY, we sell Gourmet Chunky Rum Apple Sauce. The recipe is a state secret, but here are some hints to make the most of this delicious fruit.

Select both soft and firm apples, ie Courtland is soft, Greenings are firm. One will cook down first leaving the other ‘chunky’. Stir frequently. Burned apples are not delicious and the soft ones cook rapidly.

To peel or not to peel: We leave the peel on at home. Commercially we don’t. Both are good. Taste before you add sugar. Most times it isn’t necessary.

Blend flavors: Buy as many different kinds of apples as you can. Not only is this tasty, but it’s way fun as well. As you peel, take a bite now and then to compare flavors.

Flavorings: You are probably familiar with cinnamon to taste. A very small dash of nutmeg and cloves is good too. Vanilla is a winner. One cap and then taste. Other flavorings are great too-here is a good place to experiment. Let your eye roam over the choices at the grocery store. My son swears root beer would be great; he could be right. Be careful with maple syrup; it gets too sweet fast.

Baked apples are wonderful when you use a touch of flavoring with your brown sugar—vanilla is one of my favorites but you might find others.

Regarding the RUM: If you are making apple sauce, add at the last minute with whatever flavoring you have chosen. It gives it a sort of butter taste. I am about to experiment with BRANDY. You might try it too.

A neighbor just hinted to me that apple added to salsa is good. Can’t wait to try.

Canning apple sauce takes expert knowledge. Please do not try it if you haven’t done quite a bit of reading. PH is a biggie. We use lemon juice and a ph meter.

Enjoy the apple harvest. There are so many ways and I didn’t even mention: apple pie, apples and cheese, cocktail apples, home dried apples, apple pan dowdy, apple crumb cake, apple butter, etc, etc. Dried apples and apple pie are delicious any time.

After you’ve mulled over all the apple opportunities may I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.


“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have a favorite apple tradition?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

It’s Fall, Y’all. Have Some Avocado Pumpkin Ginger Pudding.

C.D. Hersh, authors of The Promised One (Turning Stone Chronicles, Book 1) join me in my virtual kitchen today with a creamy, dreamy treat.

from the kitchen of C.D. Hersh

Catherine has recently discovered avocado puddings. Never heard of them? Well, apparently they are full of good fats, loads of fiber, have a low glycemic index (which is important for those watching their carbs, and they can be made without dairy products, if you are vegan or lactose intolerant). They have the creaminess of instant puddings without the unnatural ingredients that come in that box. The extra bonus of avocado puddings–they taste good. The kiddos will never know they are eating something good for them. So far she’s experimented with chocolate, which was super chocolatey and not as sweet as it could have been since she skipped a lot of the sugar. She likes to see how low-sugar she can go.

Catherine loves pumpkin. Donald not so much. The other day she got a pumpkin craving so she decided to play with avocadoes and pumpkin. Her newest culinary invention is a Ginger Pumpkin pudding. She likes it, so she decided to share the recipe. She won’t guarantee this recipe that makes 4 servings is low calorie, but there is quite a bit of fiber in it to help offset some of the carbs.

Avocado Ginger Pumpkin Pudding
1 ripe avocado
¾ cup canned pumpkin
1 ½ – 2 cups vanilla flavored yogurt, divided.
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 small gingerbread cookies, crushed, with 4 tsp. reserved
Canned whipped cream or make your own
4 tbsp. shaved chocolate, from a candy bar

Cut avocado in half, discarding pit and skin. Put flesh in a food processer and blend until smooth.

Add pumpkin, and ½ of yogurt, lemon juice and spices to avocado and blend until well mixed.

Spoon remaining yogurt into small glass dessert cups, filling cups about ½ full. Spread evenly in cup.

Spoon pumpkin mixture over the yogurt, spreading evenly.

Cover dishes with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap onto the top of the pudding.

Chill.

When ready to serve, top the pudding with the crushed gingerbread cookies, sprinkling evenly on top of pudding.

Add a dollop of whipped cream to top the pudding. Sprinkle reserved cookies and shaved chocolate on whipped cream.

Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the dessert to chill, check out The Promised One, the first book in our Turning Stone Chronicle series.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity

If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

BUY LINKSAmazon e-book – Amazon Paperback

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Wow! That is one talented couple! I’m so lucky they stopped by to share a book and a snack with us!

Have you tried avocado puddings?

Thanks for reading,

Gina

New Release In Romantic Suspense! Shattered Sunset Promises By Nancy Kay!

Nancy is here to share about her her new novel, Cranberry Pond, and a muffin recipe.

Thank you, Nancy!

A Cranberry Connection

Presque Isle State Park is a sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie near Erie, Pennsylvania. The peninsula has 21 miles of hiking trails.

Ridge Trail, a favorite, follows the edge of Cranberry Pond, one of many ponds on Presque Isle. Many years ago Cranberry Bogs thrived on Presque Isle, a little known historical tidbit. Today only the Pond bearing the red, tart fruit’s name remains.

If you ever visit Erie, Pennsylvania make it a point to visit Presque Isle. Take a walk down Sidewalk Trail and Marsh Trail, and venture onto Ridge Trail past Cranberry Pond. Once you read Shattered Sunset Promises you’ll have a very real connection to the park’s trails. I didn’t mention the cranberry history in my story, but there is a definite connection to the shady, secluded trails between the pages.

I love Presque Isle, and it was while hiking one of the many amazing trails my story, Shattered Sunset Promises, began to unfold. Of course my story is fiction, but the beautiful peninsula blessed by sunsets like none other year round is real.

Cranberry Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup sugar

1 Tab. Baking Powder

¼ teas. Salt

1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

1 to 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries.

1 egg

1 cup orange juice

¼ cup Canola oil

Directions: mix all dry ingredients. Add cranberries and toss gently to coat.

Whisk egg, oil, and juice together then add to dry mixture.

Fill 12 muffin tins for baking. I sometimes sprinkle some raw sugar on each raw muffin before baking. It give a nice sweet/tart flavor with each bite.

Bake at 400 degrees for twenty minutes.


Suspense to make you shiver with Heart to make you sigh.

Her inheritance is disastrous. His murder case is stalled. Then a link between her bequest and his homicide entangles and threatens their lives.

Malory Williams faces an uncertain future. Ten years ago she lost the love of her life, and now she’s lost her job. Fate presents an appealing blank slate when she inherits Bay Bluff Cottage, and Mal doesn’t hesitate. She sells her current home and pools her assets. Life if looking up….until she discovers she’s inherited an albatross.

Two grisly homicides pose a challenge for seasoned investigator John Ryley. A single, precise slash ended both lives and the women’s savaged bodies were dumped at the exact same location. The brutal murders occurred ten years apart, though, and John’s skeptical…until clues point to a connection between the murders and Malory’s inheritance.

Neither John nor Malory are looking for involvement at this point in their lives, yet he finds the stunning widow’s perseverance sexy, and she discovers irresistible charm beneath the investigators’ tough demeanor. But when a well-kept secret is uncovered the homicide explodes, and John races against the clock to keep Malory from becoming a killer’s next victim.

Shattered Sunset Promises is available in ebook and paperback from these etailers and stores:

books2read.com/u/4AxpxK

alacarteshop.com

heartlandinnandcafe.com

romolochocolates.com

North Star Winery & Market


Nancy Kay resides near Lake Erie in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, a former member of the Marines and the Pennsylvania State Police Department who provides valuable insight for her stories. Nancy is a long time member of Romance Writers of America. Her stories are set in small towns and inland communities scattered along the shores of the Great Lakes. They focus on romance, intertwined with the love of hearth, home, and family. Yet, they are sprinkled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. Learn more about Nancy on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Apple Pancakes With Guest Author Chris Pavesic (Revelation Chronicles)

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Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t always feature the most delicious dishes. People are rushed and will grab just about any type of convenience food on their way out the door.
These Apple Pancakes take only a few minutes, are healthy, and I hope you will agree are worth the wait!
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 small McIntosh apples, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • Vegetable Oil or Butter
  • Honey (optional)
Materials:
  • Measuring cups
  • Medium bowl
  • Spoon
  • Frying Pan or Griddle
  • Spatula
Directions:
1.  Mix flour, milk, and eggs until batter is smooth.  Fold in apples and sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.  To cook–heat a lightly oiled frying pan (or griddle). Place a heaping tablespoon of batter in the frying pan. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Top with honey if desired.

After you enjoy your breakfast, why not read a good book?

revelation-2216914914-1535429864322-e1535430057219

Chris Pavesic continues the amazing story of Cami Malifux with Book 2 of the Revelation Chronicles.

Purchase at Amazon

Purchase at Smashwords 

Escape from a world of darkness into a magical realm of limitless adventure.

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

Twitter

 

Thank you for making pancakes in our virtual kitchen today, Chris!

Hot Chocolate & Hot Paranormal Romance

Non-dairy Hot Chocolate
No Yesterdays Cover

Amazon

Kindle & KU

Excerpt

“I didn’t come here with this in mind.  I just wanted to see you, and to thank you for getting mad at me.”  He sat on the toilet, mesmerized.

“I’ve been mad at you more than I’ve been anything else since the day we met.”  She swirled water with her fingers, breaking up clumps of bubbles, drowning others.  “What’s on your mind now, Jason?”

He shook his head, laughed.  “You know what I’m thinking about.”

“Sex, Jason?  Sex with me?  Wet, slippery, bathtub sex?”  She splashed him with enough water to wet his pants.

“Lina,” he warned.

“What?  Mr. I-don’t-want-to-tie-you-down is afraid of a little no strings sex?”

“The minute you showed up in my life there were more strings than a yarn warehouse.  I’ll wait for you out in the living room.”

Walking out of there was actually harder than talking to his mom about what a cheating, lying asshole his father had been, but he did it.

“Hi.” A pair of huge gray eyes in a pretty oval face was the first thing he saw when he came out of the bedroom.

“That’s Deb, she’s Tanya’s friend.”  Rain pointed to each of the women as he introduced them.

“I didn’t know you were bringing a friend along for Deb.” Tanya threaded her fingers through Rain’s.  “That’s so sweet.”

“Oops, misunderstanding.” Jason smoothed it with his voice.  “I’m with Lina, Rain’s roommate.  It’s nice to meet you both.  I’m Jason Carapelli.”

The newcomers couldn’t know that he was saying his name with a whole new level of pride.

He’d been proud to be a Carapelli because his mother was one, too.  When she’d married Joe and became a Jacobs, he was still proud to be a Carapelli.

It was when Carter and Brittany found their rhythm, then Rowan and Jenny jumped right into happy times, that he’d started to wonder about what effect his father had on him.  It had chipped away at him until he came to the ugly, and wrong, conclusion that he couldn’t be with his own soul mate because he was his father’s son.

It had taken that special person, the woman who had just tempted him beyond reason, to help him see that he was his mother’s son as much as he was his father’s, and that she’d always had more influence on him because she’d always been there.  His father had left long before he died when he and Jenny were ten.

Lina came in wearing a robe that covered everything but was way sexier than Jason considered fair.

“Hello.” Lina greeted their visitors.  “I’m Lina, Rain’s roommate.”  She turned to Jason.  “Do you want anything to eat or drink?  I was going to heat up some veggie pasta from the center.”

“Sure, thanks.” He smiled.

“We’re heading out to a movie, grab some pizza after.  You want to join us?” Rain asked before Lina reached for plates.

“Jase?”  Lina leaned against the counter, asking his opinion.

So his choices were to be here alone with her, or for them to go out with Rain and his company.  It was time to rip the band-aid off.  “I think we’ll hang out here, if that’s cool with you, Lina.”

Rain nodded, high-fived Jason.  “Right on!”

Tanya and Deb were naturally confused.

“Thanks.” Jason told him, grateful for his support.  “We’re sort of making up.” Jason explained for Deb and Tanya.

Tanya nodded.  “That makes sense.  We need to go, Rain, or we’re going to be late for the movie.”

“Cool, yeah.  See you guys.”

“Does Rain ever have trouble with dates when you walk around looking like that?”  Like a wanton sex goddess.

“It doesn’t happen too often.  He’s only been on a few dates since the breakup.  You want some juice, or water?”  She glanced in the fridge.  “I have carrot, or mango.  I can mix them if you want.”

“This is weird, Lina.  Isn’t it weird for you?”  He made himself stay across the room from her.

“You turning me down in the bathtub that was the weird part.  This feels pretty normal compared.”  She shrugged.

“I think we should date-” He broke off.  “Fuck, Lina, please go put some clothes on.”

When she reached up for the plates, the short robe rode up and showed that she wore a black G-string for panties.

“Sure.”  She turned, threatened to untie the belt at her waist.

“In your room,” he groaned.

“You’ve already seen me naked,” she argued.

“What do you want from me, Lina?  I’m trying to be a good guy here.”  He held his hands out in supplication.

gina-pic-1-crop-300-dpi

Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

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Lucy & Stan’s Dairy-free Beer Cheese Soup

Lucy and Stan united to make this soup happen. They love her microbrew and he loves his cheese. Lucy wanted a dairy-free option and just like that, cold winter nights got warm and cozy.

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Note that if you want to make this soup yellow like the dairy version you can add more of the shredded Daiya cheddar. The bold flavors are there without it.

 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. Earth Balance (vegan butter)

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

8 oz. ale of choice

4 oz. Miyokos Cheers to Cheddar Roadhouse Cheese Spread

2 cups cashew milk

2 tsp Cholula hot sauce

1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp thyme, dried

2 tsp Kosher salt

 

Directions:

Heat a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add 1 tbsp. vegan butter and let it melt.

Add celery, onion, and garlic. Cook for about three minutes.

Add cornstarch and remaining 2 tbsp. vegan butter. Combine with vegetables. Cook, stirring often, for about five more minutes or until your vegetables look cooked. Make sure you incorporate all the cornstarch.

Add ale slowly while stirring so the cornstarch stays smooth.

Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until large vegetables pieces are blended.

Return soup to pan and add in Miyokos cheese. Stir until it melts and combines.

Stir in cashew milk a cup at a time, whisking the soup after each addition.

Hot sauce, Daiya cheese, pepper, thyme, and salt are added at the same time. Stir until cheese is melted. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy with your favorite toasted bread.

 

Excerpt from Desert Sunrise

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Lucy unlocked the door to the house with Stan just behind her, chattering about how the house was too big for her.

Stan fought the feeling that she was hinting at anything, anything at all.  She didn’t look like she was.

“Do you want to try a pilsner I made?  It’s my first try at it.”  Lucy offered, walking straight into the kitchen.

“You make beer?”  The woman was full of good qualities that Stan didn’t want to look too closely at.  He spent too much time thinking about her already.

She shrugged.  “One of my brothers is really into it.  He gave me a home brewing kit a few years back for Christmas so I tried it to be nice.  I ended up liking it.”

“I’ll try it.  Thanks.  Can I help you with anything?”  He watched her move surely around the kitchen, not as smooth as Dana, but much more than he did when he was doing anything more complicated than heating something he bought at the store.

She’d seen him in the kitchen.  He tried, but it was faster to do it alone.  “There’s nothing to do really.  Relax.  Drink.”  She handed him the fine beer mug she’d bought in Germany filled with the clear golden brew and thick foam.

He took the first sip, not knowing what to expect.  The light, refreshing, slightly sweet taste was the best he’d ever had.  “Would it be wrong to say that it reminds me of Heineken, only much better?”

Lucy’s smile was ecstatic.  “That’s exactly what I was going for!  The sweeter Dutch style.  The German pilsners are darker and a little bitter for me.  I like the Czech color and flavor, but they’re not quite as sweet.  Do you want salad with your chicken?”  Her tone was more like, “You want salad with your chicken, don’t you?”

“You and Dana are obsessed with vegetables,” he tried to sound like he disapproved.  The fact was, they were growing on him, and his doctor said that the changes he made to his diet were showing up in his blood work.  He had to admit that he did feel better.  His old injury from being stomped on by too many broncos didn’t ache or get stiff as often as it used to.

“What do you expect from two nutritionists?”

She plated the food and brought it to the table.

Stan saw the salad and dressing sitting on the counter.  “Sit down, Lucy.  I’ll get the rest.”

They talked about their day in the park while they ate.  Lucy was building her nerve for her second task.  She was getting the score before he left today.  They were either going to start dating or she was going to work on redirecting herself until she found a smidgen of interest in someone else.  That was the problem, of course.  She wasn’t even a little attracted to anyone else, not even the charming chef at the restaurant in Palm Springs who was always inviting her in under the guise of tasting new dishes for him.

When the dishes were cleaned and put away dry, and they had each finished a tall glass of pilsner, Lucy found that she still didn’t have a smooth way of asking him what he wanted with her, if anything.

“This was a real treat, Lucy.  I should have guessed you’d be a great cook.  The beer surprised me.  I’d like to try whatever you make next.”

That was an opening, wasn’t it?  Or was he being polite?  Enough, she told herself.  Ask him and be done with it.

“Stan, I have to know something.”

He stilled, hearing how important that something was to her.  “Yeah?”

“What, do you have pirate training, give no quarter?”  It annoyed her, really annoyed her, that he wouldn’t help her at all.

“What?”  He was truly confused.

She closed the gap between them, reaching her arms up around his neck, taking his lips in a soft kiss.

He took the kiss, deepening it as far as he could take it without having to drag her to the empty bed he knew was only a few feet away.

“Well, that answers part of my question,” she spoke against his lips. “Though I wasn’t really wondering about this part.”

The ability to think was quickly leaving him.  Lucy, funny, witty, nature loving Lucy, was wrapped around him and pressed against him.

She sighed.  Neither moved.  Their mouths were just shy of a kiss and still he didn’t say or do anything.  She could let him go home right now and they would be right where they were.  She pushed on, determined to make it or break it.

She moved out of his gentle hold.  “I’m glad you enjoyed the lunch.  I did, too.  One last thing before you go.  Are you into me, or not?”  She saw his sarcastic glance down to where he swelled hard against his jeans.  “I know you want me, that’s not what I’m asking.”

She deserved to know, he supposed.  If only he knew what to do about what he felt.  He summed it up as simply as he could.  “I like you, Lucy.  A lot.”

That was something, she supposed.  It didn’t tell her what she needed to know.  “Pirate,” she muttered.

“Why do you keep calling me a pirate?”  Women could be so strange.

“Because you’re making me work for every little thing here.”  She cocked her hands on her hips, warrior style.

“What do you want me to say, Lucy?  Do you have it all figured out for me already?”

“No, Stan, I’m not the kind of woman to ‘figure it all out for a man’ or we wouldn’t be standing here months later having this conversation.  And what I want you to say, is what you feel, what you want.  Or should I start looking somewhere else?”

He narrowed his eyes.  “What do you mean by that?”

***

Desert Sunrise

Life is good for Lucy Shannon. Love will be too, when the man she knows is out there for her finally shows up. Until then she is going to enjoy herself. So what if her ex-fiance tossed her heart into a blender? Years of therapy had put that in perspective.

Stan Spellman doesn’t think like her. Not in the least. Sure, life is good. He does what he loves every day, spends a pleasurable night with a woman when he wants to. Love? Happily ever after? He’s seen the rare occurrence of it. That’s as far as his thinking on the subject goes.

They’re both scheduled for a wake-up call that will change their lives forever, fulfilling dreams they never knew they had.

 

The Author

gina-pic-1-crop-300-dpi

Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

 

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A Recipe & A Book – Morning After Pumpkin Waffles :O by Guest Blogger Dominique Eastwick, Author of The Billionaire Trap

Please welcome award-winning author Dominique Eastwick to the blog for a scintillating recipe and look at her book.

Thank you for guest posting with me today, Dominique!

BREAKFAST IS SERVED!

 

From Dominique Eastwick

Pumpkin is one of my all time favorite foods. No matter how it is prepared, I love it! My recipe below will give you a new appreciation for that unique fruit.

Dom’s Morning After Pumpkin Waffles

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin spice
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1⅓ cups milk
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin

Topping Suggestions

Butter and maple syrup, always buy the real stuff (GB note: I 100% agree!)
Pecans
Whipped Cream
Powdered Sugar

Preheat waffle iron.

In large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a second bowl stir together wet ingredients *except pumpkin*. Mix well and then incorporate pumpkin.

Combine your wet and dry ingredients until just smooth.

Spray hot waffle iron and follow iron instructions.

Top with Pecans, whipped cream, and/or maple syrup.

Now that you’ve enjoyed a delicious hot breakfast how about settling in with a thigh-clenching book?

Billionaire Connor Rankin has only two things on his mind—food and skiing. A beautiful set of hazel eyes make Connor change his priorities. The young woman in question is in trouble, so he has no choice but to help out.

What’s a woman to do when her sister is left heartbroken and jilted?

Level headed, human lie detector Breanne Scott is going to make sure her sister’s boyfriend pays, but Connor isn’t what she expected. How do you know what’s true when everyone is telling a different story?

Can they negotiate a field of lies and deceit to find love on the other side of The Billionaire Trap?

Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her websiteblog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Facebook TwitterTublr, and Pinterest.

 

 

Thank you for the time we spend together! It means so much more to me because you’re here!

 

Gina