Welcome! Kick off your shoes, get comfy and join in as we chat about books, romance and the ups and downs of everyday life.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PJ's Add a Little Suspense Winners







The two randomly selected winners from PJ's Add a Little Suspense review post are:

librarypat
(a print copy of The Hunk Next Door)

and

patoct
(Kindle copies of Judgment and Close to Home)


Librarypat, please send your full name and mailing address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Patoct, please send the kindle email you would like to receive the books to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Friday, December 19, 2014

Add a Little Suspense to Your Holidays


I love a good whodunit. Whether it be romantic suspense, a psychological thriller or a good old fashioned mystery, stories that lure me in, keep me on the edge of my seat and pit my wits against the villain are always high on my reading list. Here are three books that recently kept me up reading way into the night. I highly recommend them!



Judgment
A Cassidy & Spenser Thriller - Book 1
By Carey Baldwin
Publisher: HarperCollins / Witness Impulse
Release Date: October 7, 2014


If these two rivals can't work together...

Dr. Caitlin Cassidy is on a mission to protect the innocent. Fifteen years ago, she witnessed her father's execution for a crime she's convinced he didn't commit. Now she works as a forensic psychiatrist to make sure that other innocents don't meet the same fate.

Special Agent Atticus Spenser is hell bent on locking the guilty away. A brilliant FBI profiler, Spense loves a good puzzle...especially when the solution takes a psychopath off the streets. But his nemesis, the enigmatically vexing Caity Cassidy, is one puzzle he's never been able to solve.

...one of them is going to die.

When a young coed falls prey to a sexually sadistic killer, Caity and Spense are called in by opposing sides. But before the case can go to trial, the accused man is murdered in a brutal attack and Caity is critically wounded. Now Caity and Spense must put aside their differences and work together to uncover the truth - because the Man in the Maze is coming back for round two.

As a former clinical psychologist, Carey Baldwin knows plenty about the dark corners of the human mind, using that knowledge to superb effect in her newest book, Judgment. Once again, she has created a stunning thriller with a tightly woven plot, smart dialogue and twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. While there is no shortage of action, it's the characters who hold center stage in this story: the villains who will chill your soul and have you taking second looks at people you pass on the street and the hero and heroine who will capture your heart with the vulnerabilities hidden beneath the strength and determination they show to the world.

If you enjoy a story that challenges you intellectually, takes your emotions on a roller-coaster ride, delivers protagonists you can cheer for and villains that have you double checking the locks on your doors then Carey Baldwin is an author who should be on your radar.




The Hunk Next Door
The Specialists:Heroes Next Door - Book 1
By Debra Webb and Regan Black
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Release Date: November 1, 2014


In the season of hope, someone's out for blood. Police Chief Abigail Jensen is determined to protect her town—and avoid falling too hard for Riley, the new guy next door. But deciding who to trust can be deadly, especially when he has deep secrets…. 

Agent Riley O'Brien's mission is clear when he joins the CIA's covert Specialist task force: protect a small-town cop from a terrorist, no matter what. Trading his identity for the undercover guise of a handyman is part of the plan…getting close to Abigail on a personal—and passionate—level isn't.


The Hunk Next Door kicks off a new series from Black and Webb that centers around The Specialists, a group of agents who give up their lives to take long-term, undercover assignments to protect people whose lives are at risk.  After reading this first book (in one afternoon - I could not put it down), all I can say is that I hope this series goes on for a very long time!

Protecting her town is Abigail Jensen's sole focus. After busting a major drug trafficking ring, she makes it clear during a television interview that Belclare, Maryland is off-limits to those with criminal intent and, in doing so, unknowingly makes herself the target of a deadly terrorist cell - the power behind the drug ring.

There are few people Abby trusts completely. She has to be suspicious if she's to be successful in protecting her town. When handyman Riley O'Brien shows up to help build the town's Christmas village her radar goes on high alert, especially when a series of escalating events aimed to harm the town and discredit Abby begin after his arrival. Is he the bad guy orchestrating the events or the only one she can turn to to keep the citizens of Belclare safe?

Black and Webb reeled me in from the start with the premise of this series, the fully developed characters and the small-town charm of Belclare with its quirky citizens, political in-fighting and evil simmering beneath the surface. Unlike many mysteries, in this one, the identity of the villain is revealed early in the book.  For me, this ramped the intensity even higher, giving me full access into the villain's thoughts and plans while leaving Abby and Riley on the outside, still trying to figure things out and save the town from an evil adversary as the book races to its stunning conclusion.

I'm already counting the days until February 1st and the release of the second book in The Specialists: Heroes Next Door series, Heart of a Hero.




Close to the Fire
Westen Series - Book 3
By Suzanne Ferrell
Publisher: Suzanne Ferrell Productions
Release Date: September 25, 2014



They once were lovers: 

After ten years of keeping his distance to the one woman he's always loved, Fire Chief Deke Reynolds is finally ready to set aside his grief and confess his guilt to Elizabeth "Libby" Wilson about his part in her brother's death. Libby's own guilty secret has kept her from sharing her life with the man who stole her heart as a teen and awakened her body as a young woman. 

Danger has forced them together again: 


A fire and their odd connection to a new teenager at the local half-way house have this couple finally sharing their secrets with each other. With an arsonist on the loose, threatening the town of Westen and its citizens, have Libby and Deke waited too long to find their love again? 



Suzanne Ferrell has charmed me with the heartwarming and quirky citizens of Westen, Ohio and put me firmly on their side as they battle those who would bring death and destruction into their midst. 

Second chance love stories are one of my favorite romance tropes. Deke Reynolds and Libby Wilson have been in love since their teens but a tragic fire tore them apart ten years ago. If anybody deserves a second chance it's these two but just as it appears they may be finding their way back to one another an arsonist enters the picture, determined to keep them apart...forever.

Ferrell is adept at combining heartwarming with heartrending, engaging the reader's emotions at every level. She had me laughing, crying and holding my breath with fear. She also kept me guessing. Just when I was sure I knew who the villain was she threw in a twist that had me second guessing my conviction. Characters from previous books in the series play pivotal roles, enriching the story without stealing the spotlight from Libby and Deke. 

Close to the Fire stands well on its own but with characters from previous books making appearances there are spoilers from those books. You might want to start with the first book and read them in order. They are - in order: Close to Home, Close to the Edge and Close to the Fire. Ferrell also has a newly released Westen novella, Close to Christmas that takes place following the conclusion of Close to the Fire.

~PJ


Are you a romantic suspense/suspense thriller fan?

Who are some of your go-to suspense authors?

Any recent suspense books you'd recommend?


One person leaving a comment will receive a Kindle copy of Close to Home and Judgment.

One person leaving a comment will receive a print copy of The Hunk Next Door. (U.S. only)







Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Christmas Monday Winners





The two randomly chosen winners of a package of books
from the December 15th Merry Christmas Monday blog are:

Carol L

and

mickey macD

To claim your package of books, please send 
your full name and mailing address (US addresses only) to

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Today's Special - - Katie Lane Blog Tour




About The Last Cowboy in Texas, book 7 in Katie Lane’s Deep in the Heart of Texas series
Country music princess Starlet Brubaker has a sweet tooth for moon pies and cowboys: both are yummy-and you can never have just one. Now Beckett Cates may not be a cowboy, but he certainly has the heart, soul-and body-to whet her appetite. He's a sexy ex-Marine with a touch hotter than the scorching Texas sun and arms strong enough to catch her when she lands into trouble.

Playing bodyguard to America's sweetheart isn't easy for Beckett. But falling for her sure is. Unfortunately, Starlet has a reputation for keeping a guy or two wrapped around her finger and Beckett refuses to be anybody's backup. So now it's up to Starlet to prove that she's put her cowboy-crazy days behind her. Otherwise, she'll be singing solo instead of living in harmony with the man who's loved her even before her fame and fortune.


The Last Cowboy in Texas
By Katie Lane
Publisher: Forever - Hachette Book Group
Release Date: December 16, 2014






I enjoy second chance love stories and Katie Lane brings us one with plenty of humor, heart and a twist of mystery. Starlet Brubaker hails from humble beginnings and her heart is firmly attached to the man who showered her with kindness, enveloped her with (brotherly) affection and bolstered her confidence enough to pursue a career in music. Unfortunately, he's married to someone else but Starlet has a plan. That plan goes off the rails when she's rescued from a botched kidnapping by the youngest brother of her object of affection. The last time she saw Beckett Cates, he was a skinny, nerdy kid. My, how a few years - and the Marine Corps - have changed him! 

When Star is forced to leave the concert tour and seek refuge in her small hometown, it's Beckett who signs up for bodyguard duty...and a whole lot more. Going back to her roots reminds Star of the person she used to be before Nashville and her controlling manager took charge. As she slowly peels away the trappings of stardom will she recognize the love that has slowly grown between her and Beckett or will her obsession with another cause her to lose her chance at happiness while putting another's at risk as well.

This is my first book by Katie Lane and I enjoyed it. Lane does a great job of drawing fully dimensional characters with all their associated strengths and weaknesses. She shows particular adeptness with Starlet, a character that could have easily fallen into the "hated heroine" category. She walks a fine line with her but succeeds in revealing a conflicted, misguided woman who ultimately looks deep into her heart and does the right thing. I adored Beckett,  another character with a necessary journey of personal growth ahead of him before he is able to claim not only the woman he loves but his rightful place in his testosterone-laden family. Lane surrounds these two with a rich, multi-dimensional cast of secondary characters who bring small-town Texas life to light.

One drawback for me is that, as stated above, The Last Cowboy in Texas is the seventh book of a series, a fact that quickly became apparent as I started reading. While I enjoyed the story line, Lane's snappy dialogue and the intrigue woven throughout, there were many times when I felt like the new kid in school who doesn't share the combined history or inside jokes of the other students. The Last Cowboy in Texas is able to stand on its own but I think my enjoyment of this story would have been magnified ten-fold had I read the six previous books first, something I plan to do in the near future.

~PJ


About Katie Lane
Katie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of Texas and Hunk for the Holiday series.  Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn't writing, enjoys reading, going to the gym, golfing, traveling, or just snuggling next to her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.

Learn more about Katie Lane at:
www.katielanebooks.com
Facebook.com/katielaneauthor
Twitter, @ktlane3



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas Monday

Turtle Bark

Last Monday we chatted about snacks - those tasty nibbles that keep our tummies happy at parties, while watching football, wrapping gifts or stealing a few precious moments to lose ourselves in a good book. Today, we're shining the holiday spotlight on the sweeter side of life. I don't eat a lot of desserts the rest of the year. In fact, I usually prefer salty to sweet but that preference seems to go flying out the window when December rolls around and my sweet tooth blossoms in all its chocolate loving glory. Unless, of course, the sweet chocolate is combined with salt. No way I'm walking away from that one!

I do a lot of baking and candy making throughout the month of
December. I begin early - the weekend following Thanksgiving - and usually continue until a few days before Christmas. There are packages to ship to family and friends far away as well as goody plates to deliver to neighbors and others who go out of their way to bring a smile to my days. I love getting creative in the kitchen and watching the smiles the treats elicit upon delivery makes my heart happy. It's a win-win! 

Here are a few of the treats coming out of my kitchen this Christmas...


BOURBON BALLS

Powdered sugar
2.5 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
.5 cup bourbo
3 tablespoons corn syrup

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix one cup powdered sugar with remaining ingredients.

Sprinkle some powdered sugar onto a piece of waxed paper.

With hands, shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll each in powdered sugar.

Wrap balls in plastic wrap or foil or store in tightly closed container.

YIELD: 3.5 dozen


TIGER'S BUTTER


2 cups white chocolate (candy melts) - melted
2 cups milk chocolate - melted
1 cup peanut butter

Melt white chocolate in a double boiler.

Melt milk chocolate in a separate double boiler.

Stir peanut butter into melted white chocolate until smooth. Add melted milk chocolate and gently swirl.

Use mixture to fill candy molds. Chill until firm then pop out onto waxed paper or

Spread onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet to make bark. Chill until firm then break into pieces or

Pour into a waxed paper lined baking dish. Chill until firm. Pull out of dish using waxed paper. Cut into squares. Wrap in colored foil squares.


EASY COCONUT MACAROONS

5 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325°

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Using a small cookie scoop, drop dough onto parchment.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes until golden. Remove to cooling rack.

YIELD: 24 cookies

* Can make ahead and freeze.


ELEGANT DIPPED CHERRIES

1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems, well drained
2 tablespoons butter - melted
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 teaspoons Half 'n Half
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate - melted
.5 cup semi-sweet chocolate - melted

Pat cherries dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup, unsweetened chocolate and cream. Stir in the powdered sugar.

Knead dough until smooth. Roll into 18 balls; flatten each into a 2-inch circle. Wrap each circle around a cherry and lightly roll in hands.

Place cherries, stem side up, in a shallow wax paper lined container. Cover and freeze for at least two hours.

Remove cherries from the freezer. Melt white chocolate. Holding onto the stem, dip cherries in the white chocolate; set on waxed paper to dry.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate. Drizzle over candies.

Store in an air-tight container.

* Undipped dough can be made ahead and kept in freezer until the day before serving.

YIELD: 1.5 dozen


And for our 4-legged friends:

GOOD DOGGY DOG BONES

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dry milk
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon beef bouillon, dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Knead dough two minutes on a floured surface. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness.

Cut into shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 300° for 30 minutes.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on a rack.

YIELD: 4 dozen



Those are a few of the treats that come from my kitchen at Christmas. 

What treats are made in yours?

Are you a baker or a buyer? 

Do you like your treats sweet or salty...or a combination of the two?

What's the traditional favorite that your family insists on every Christmas?

Any recipes to share?

I have two more packages of books ready to fly away to new homes! (U.S. addresses only)







Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Red Wolf's Prize Winner







The randomly chosen winner of an e-copy of 
The Red Wolf's Prize by Regan Walker is

Kathleen Colman

Congratulations!
Please send your email address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com



Friday, December 12, 2014

Review - - The Red Wolf's Prize


The Red Wolf's Prize
Medieval Warriors - Book 1
By Regan Walker
October 1, 2014




With her father killed in battle and her brother in Scotland, it's up to Lady Serena to protect the people of Talisand - especially the women and children - from the Norman knight who now rules her family's lands. The Bastard King may have given both Talisand and its lady to Sir Renaud "The Red Wolf" de Pierrepont but Lady Serena will not be accepting her fate easily or quietly. Dying her hair a mousy brown and hiding among her people as a servant, she is determined to see them safe, if not happy, under their new lord before seeking refuge in Scotland with her brother. She's heard tales of the rampaging Normans and expects the worst but what she learns is that her enemy, the Red Wolf, is a man of honor who could easily steal her heart...if she lets him.

Sir Renaud's only hope of owning his own lands is to earn them on the battlefield so, of course, he's delighted with his king's gift of Talisand and the title of Earl. Giving him the hand of Lady Serena, daughter of the former Thegn of Talisand will give him the connection he needs to the people of Talisand. He cares not if she's beautiful or sweet tempered as his marriage will be one of political advantage, not love. The servant Sarah catches his eye immediately. He desires her for her beauty but, as he comes to know her, he's impressed by her intelligence, her caring, her knowledge of Talisand and the respect she receives from its people. He'll be required to marry Lady Serena when she's found but there is no reason he can't make Sarah his lover...if he can only get her to agree. When the truth comes out and he discovers that Sarah and Serena are the same, will he be delighted or will the fact that she's deceived him ruin any deeper feelings he may have for her?

Regan Walker has penned another fascinating story with fully developed characters, a richly detailed historical setting, pulse pounding action and deeply romantic emotion. The story flows smoothly, keeping the reader engaged from beginning to end. Walker has created main characters that are likable and realistic to their time and place then surrounded them with a supporting cast that only enriches the story. As with her other books, Walker's attention to historic detail draws the reader into the world in which her books are set; in this case, allowing us to immerse ourselves in medieval England and travel the tumultuous journey with her characters.

I highly recommend THE RED WOLF'S PRIZE. I'm delighted to learn that this is the first book in a new series and look forward to meeting Regan Walker's next Medieval warrior!

~PJ

Are you a fan of Medieval romance? Any authors or books to recommend? Have you read any of Regan Walker's books yet? I'm giving away a Kindle copy of The Red Wolf's Prize to a randomly chosen person who leaves a comment on today's post. 



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Allie Burton Winner





The randomly chosen winner of the digital 
LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION by Allie Burton is

Hope

Congratulations, Hope! 
To claim your prize, please send your email address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Merry Christmas Monday Winner





Thanks to everyone who stopped by for my first Merry Christmas Monday post on 
December 8th. I appreciate all the recipes you generously shared! 
The randomly chosen two winners of a package of books from this post are:

Laurie G

and

Barbara E

Congratulations, ladies! 
To claim your books please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com









Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review - - Christmas at Carriage Hill

Christmas at Carriage Hill
By Carla Neggers
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Release Date: December 1, 2014


Alexandra Rankin Hunt, a rising star in London’s fashion industry, recently relocated to a village in the Cotswolds where she met Ian Mabry, an RAF pilot whose family owned the local pub. For a time, Alex thought Ian was “the one,” but he turned out to be just another heartbreaker. Now Alex is looking forward to a trip to Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, to attend the wedding of her American cousin, Dylan McCaffrey to Olivia Frost. She has a particular interest in being present for the ceremony since she designed and made the wedding gown and the bridesmaids’ dresses. She also hopes her visit will allow her to avoid Ian and make it easier to begin the process of forgetting him. To Alex’s dismay, she arrives in Knights Bridge to find that Ian has also been invited to the wedding. To make matters worse, both English visitors are staying at the Farm at Carriage Hill. Not only is Alex unable to avoid her former love, but they are constantly thrown into one another’s company.

Time together is exactly what Alex and Ian need to clear up their miscommunication problems. As they participate in wedding festivities, share English recipes with their American hosts, and visit the elderly woman who was beloved by Alex’s great-grandfather, another RAF pilot, they find their way to their own HEA.

This novella falls between Cider Brook (January 2014) and Echo Lake (February 2015), the third and fourth books of Neggers’s Swift River Valley series. Fans of the series will enjoy the long-awaited wedding of Olivia and Dylan and a sweet touch to the poignant romance of Dylan’s grandmother and the man she loved, a war hero. Readers who like recipes mixed with their fiction will find several to add to their collection, including one for scones and one that makes Brussel sprouts sound appetizing. But the central romance is slight, and despite the title, this is not a satisfying Christmas story. Alex and Ian are likeable enough, but characters and plot are too thinly developed to engage readers fully. Those already invested in the series will find enough of interest to make the read worthwhile, but others may find themselves confused by references to characters from earlier books. I suggest readers unfamiliar with the series not start with the novella. I do recommend highly the first book in the series, Secrets of the Lost Summer, Olivia and Dylan’s story.

~Janga



Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Today's Special - - Allie Burton

It's my pleasure to welcome Allie Burton back to The Romance Dish today. Allie is here to tell us about the Atlantis Glacial Tides, the newest book in her Young Adult Lost Daughters of Atlantis series.  Allie has quite a diverse background. Her jobs have ranged from fitting room attendant to bike cop to professional sports mascot escort. She's lived on three continents and studied art, fashion design, advertising and marine biology. 
You can find more information about Allie at her website. Connect with her online at:
www.twitter.com/Allie_Burton
www.Facebook.com/AllieBurtonAuthor
www.wattpad.com/AllieBurton
www.pinterest.com/aburton1269
instagram.com/allieburtonauthor


Please give Allie a warm welcome!





Things I Learned From My Heroine

Princess Adria began her adventure as an immature, sheltered girl. By the end of ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES she’d grown into a true heroine. Her full quest takes her from the middle of a hurricane, to a deserted island, to below the frigid waters of Antarctica.

As I wrote both ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES (the prequel) and ATLANTIS GLACIAL TIDES, I experienced growth of my own. I discovered I had spunk like Adria who pretended to be human to save a guy from a hurricane and fought a Polar Shark. I learned to fight back like Adria when she disobeyed her parents to do the right thing. And I became more versed in my world, just as Adria learned about all the problems in her underwater world and vowed to improve the conditions.

Adria goes from caring about only herself and her small troubles to caring about all the people enslaved. She becomes informed and takes action to help those less fortunate. Her mission might be about unfair work conditions, but her mind and her world has expanded.

I’m learning more about causes in my area. For example, approximately 1.7 million young people call the streets home every year. Teen homelessness and hunger are important issues to me. A problem that needs a solution.

Is there a cause that you are impassioned about?




Comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of the LOST DAUGHTERS OF ATLANTIS COLLECTION featuring the first three books in the series: Atlantis Riptide, Atlantis Red Tide, and Atlantis Rising Tide.

And, ATLANTIS TWISTING TIDES is free on Amazon, iBooks, GooglePlay, and Kobo.









Subscribe to my newsletter on my website for a chance to win the Prize Pack (picture below) including a $25 Amazon or iBooks gift card, Steve Madden infinity scarf and gloves, several young adult books, and treats!



To subscribe or get more information about other books in the Lost Daughters of Atlantis series, visit my website at www.allieburton.com.


Atlantis Glacial Tides
Lost Daughters of Atlantis Book 5

Shocked by her family’s plans to wed her to a stranger, sixteen-year-old Princess Adria must decide whether to flee the underwater Kingdom of Merta or fight to keep her rightful place. When Kai, the criminal she’d rescued informs her of a plot to kidnap her future sister-in-law, Adria decides to take action to prove her loyalty.

Sparks flew between her and Kai when they met during a hurricane misadventure, but she can’t trust her judgment about him. Especially when Kai won’t help stop the kidnapping because he’s on his own secret mission. A mission that he refuses to divulge.
In a case of mistaken identity, Adria is kidnapped and whisked away to a mysterious glacial underwater world of ice and evil where she learns that everything isn’t rainbow fish and roses, that there are Atlanteans who suffer and slave, and that being cold isn’t a state of body, but a state of mind.

With Kai as her prison guard, the two teens grow closer, and Adria must choose between loyalty to her kingdom or to her dreams.






Atlantis Twisting Tides
Lost Daughter of Atlantis Novella

When unrest threatens her kingdom, a mermaid princess must choose between loyalty and love.
When fifteen-year-old Atlantean Princess Adria sneaks away to see a hurricane on the surface of the ocean, she finds an air-breather in trouble. Kai’s sailboat is sinking and Adria risks exposure of her Atlantean powers in order to save him.

Kai believes he’s rescuing Adria. He’s Atlantean too, with his own skills and secrets.

The two teens stumble onto an uninhabited island still thinking the other needs rescuing. When other Atlanteans show up—Atlanteans plotting against Adria’s kingdom—Adria must decide whether to trust Kai based on the guy she’s come to know or the company he keeps.









Monday, December 8, 2014

Merry Christmas Monday

It's December 8th, the time of year when a lady's thoughts turn to visions of Chex Mix, Taco Dip, Hidden Valley Ranch Oyster Crackers, Blue Cheese Walnut Spread, Baked Brie and more. That's right, friends. Sweet, spicy, chewy, crisp, savory, creamy; in my house, it's all about the snacks!

Holiday activities go hand in hand with tasty nibbles, right? Holiday movies just aren't the same without a bowl of popcorn. A friend stops by for a cozy chat? Bring out the Chex Mix and eggnog!

The gang gathers at your house after the local Christmas Parade? How about some Taco Dip and chips or Ranch Oyster Crackers? Bet you can't eat just one! 

Here are recipes for some of my favorite holiday snacks.  




HIDDEN VALLEY RANCH CRACKERS
http://tinyurl.com/q6monmb


12-16 oz bag of plain oyster crackers
1 envelope of Hidden Valley Ranch Buttermilk  Recipe salad dressing mix
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine dressing mix with oil. Add dill weed, garlic powder and lemon pepper.

Place crackers in a baking dish. Pour dressing mixture over the crackers, stirring to coat.

Bake in a 250° F. oven for 15 - 20 minutes. Cool before serving.



TACO DIP




1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese - room temperature
1 (16 oz) carton of sour cream
1 envelope of taco seasoning

Blend cream cheese until smooth. Mix in sour cream and taco seasoning. Serve with your chips of choice. Easy peasy and sure to draw rave reviews. You may want to make a double recipe. This won't last long!










Need an appetizer to take to your work/neighborhood/book club Christmas party? I highly recommend Blue Cheese Walnut Spread, Boursin or Kahlua Pecan Brie. You may want to plan ahead and have recipe cards ready to hand out because I guarantee people will be asking!


BOURSIN

A neighbor shared this recipe with me in 1984 and it quickly became a holiday tradition. Also makes
a great gift to share with friends!

Blend the following:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
16 oz cream cheese - room temperature
8 oz. butter, room temperature

Add the following and mix well:
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon chives
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed

Cover tightly and store in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature to serve. Great cracker spread!



KAHLUA PECAN BRIE

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup Kahlua
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 (14-16 oz) wheel of Brie cheese

Mix Kahlua, pecans and brown sugar together.

Cut and discard rind from the top of the Brie. Place Brie in ovenproof dish; cover with pecan mixture.

Bake at 350° F. for 25 minutes.

Serve with crackers of choice.

* Don't bake longer than 25 minutes. The Brie should be soft but not melted.


BLUE CHEESE WALNUT SPREAD

(I got this one from Weight Watchers - all the flavor with a fraction of the calories!)

1 cup cream cheese - room temperature
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chives

Blend cream cheese, blue cheese, sour cream and Worcestershire sauce.

Stir in walnuts and chives.

Chill at least one hour before serving with your favorite crackers.


What are the go-to snacks for your family this time of year? 

I have a package of books (Merry Christmas!) for two randomly chosen people who leave a comment on today's post. (US addresses only)

Be sure to come back for the next two Mondays when I'll be sharing more holiday favorites and giving away books! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday Winner






The randomly chosen winner of a copy of
Danger in a Red Dress (your choice of print or Kindle)
and Gabriel's Gift by Christina Dodd is

Vickie Raynor

Congratulations!

Please send your full name, mailing address and choice of book format to 

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com




Kandy Shepherd Winner





The winner of a print copy of

A Diamond in Her Stocking by Kandy Shepherd is

peggy

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Vanessa Kelly Winner






The randomly chosen winner of an advance reader copy (ARC) of

How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy by Vanessa Kelly is:

lindalou

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to us at

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Releases for December

Yay! December is finally here! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us and keeping us all busy, I’m sure. As crazy and stressful as it can get, don’t forget to take time for YOU and read a good book! Snuggled up on the couch at night in my quiet living room is one of my favorite places to read. To be able to gaze at my beautiful Christmas tree while I’m doing that makes it even better!

I have not read any December books yet, but Sarah MacLan’s Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover is at the top of my list. I can’t wait to read it!

Which December releases have you read? Of those, which ones do you recommend? Which ones are you most looking forward to reading? Tell us and one lucky commenter will win a random book from my prize stash!


Until January, happy reading!


Historical

In Bed with a Spy – Alyssa Alexander
Outlaw Hunter – Carol Arens
I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm – Kelly Bowen
Beguiled – Joanna Chambers
The Highland Dragon’s Lady – Isabel Cooper (Paranormal)
Twice Tempted – Eileen Dreyer
The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior – Megan Frampton
Sinfully Ever After – Jayne Fresina
Innocent’s Champion – Meriel Fuller
Strangers at the Altar – Marguerite Kaye
To Kiss a Kilted Warrior – Rowan Keats
Captured Countess – Ann Lethbridge
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover – Sarah MacLean
Unlaced by the Outlaw – Michelle Willingham
Secret of a Thousand Beauties – Mingmei Yip (Historical Fiction)


Contemporary

Sugar’s Twice as Sweet – Marina Adair
The Duality Principle – Rebecca Grace Allen
Mine to Take – Jackie Ashenden
A Second Bite at the Apple – Dana Bate (Women’s Fiction)
In the Cards – Jamie Beck
The Deepest Night – Kara Braden
Want, Need, Love – Niobia Bryant
Full Blaze – M.L. Buchman (Romantic Suspense)
7 Minutes in Heaven – Rhian Cahill
Broken Open – Lauren Dane
The Winner Takes All – Jennifer Dawson
Farewell to Cedar Key – Terri DuLong (Women’s Fiction)
Love Me Tender – Susan Fox
Lovely Wild – Megan Hart (Women’s Fiction)
The Divorce Diet – Ellen Hawley (Women’s Fiction)
Hard to Come By – Laura Kaye (Romantic Suspense)
No Denying You – Sydney Landon
The Bells of Time Square – Amy Lane (Women’s Fiction)
The Last Cowboy in Texas – Katie Lane
Hour of Need – Melinda Leigh (Romantic Suspense)
The Perfect Deception – Lutishia Lovely (Women’s Fiction)
The Good Chase – Hanna Martine
Wolf Haven – Lindsay McKenna (Romantic Suspense)
Last Chance Family – Hope Ramsay
Independently Wealthy – Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (Women’s Fiction)
All for You – Jessica Scott
Full Throttle – Julie Ann Walker (Romantic Suspense)
Razed – Shiloh Walker
Power, Seduction, & Scandal – Angela Winters (Women’s Fiction)
A Mistletoe Christmas – Carla Cassidy, Cathy McDavid, Marin Thomas


Young Adult

Caught Up – Amir Abrams
The Shape of My Heart – Ann Aguirre (New Adult)
Wicked – Jennifer L. Armentrout (New Adult, Paranormal)
Captive – Aimée Carter (Futuristic)
For Real – Alison Cherry
Top Ten Rules You’re Clueless – Liz Czukas
Ripped – Katy Evans (New Adult)
Princess of Thorns – Stacey Jay (Fantasy)
Suspicion – Alexandra Monir (Paranormal)
Now That You’re Here – Amy K. Nichols
Lead – Kylie Scott (New Adult)


Paranormal

Light My Fire – G.A. Aiken
Moon Shine – Vivian Arend
Darkness Falls – Keri Arthur (Urban Fantasy)
Wickedly Wonderful – Deborah Blake
Wolf Quest – Bianca D’Arc
A Breath of Winter – Hailey Edwards
Black Widow – Jennifer Estep (Urban Fantasy)
Jason – Laurell K. Hamilton (Urban Fantasy)
Vampire in Paradise – Sandra Hill
Revenant – Larissa Ione
The Tears of the Rose – Jeffe Kennedy
Universal Alien – Gini Koch (Urban Fantasy)
City of Eternal Night – Kristen Painter (Urban Fantasy)
Unchained – Caris Roane
Deadly Obsession – Maggie Shayne
The Darkest Touch – Gena Showalter
Wolf’s Fall – J.D. Tyler
Night Shift – Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane
Dead But Not Forgotten – Multi-author anthology


Erotica/Erotic Romance

Barely Undercover – Sarah Castille
Mai Tai’d Up – Alice Clayton
Prey & Prejudice – Marie Harte
Only for You – Beth Kery
The Masseuse – Sierra Kincade
Take Me On – Cherrie Lynn
Coming Home – Lydia Michaels
The King – Tiffany Reisz
Must Be Magic – Sydney Somers (Paranormal)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review - - Danger in a Red Dress


I'm not sure Christina Dodd has ever had a secondary character who resonated as deeply with readers as Gabriel Prescott. After teasing us with glimpses of Gabriel throughout the books of not one but two series (Lost Hearts and Fortune Hunters), Dodd finally took pity on the mass of begging fans (of which I was one) and gave us Gabriel's story, Danger in a Red Dress. It did not disappoint!

It's been five years since Gabriel's happy ever after so you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Ms. Dodd was giving us an opportunity to catch up with our intriguing hero in her Christmas epilogue, Gabriel's Gift. It's a tiny bite of delicious delight just perfect for the busy holiday season and wraps up Gabriel's happy ending with a big, red, heartwarming bow! 




Danger in a Red Dress
By Christina Dodd
Publisher: Signet (Penguin Group)
Release Date: March 3, 2009






Readers have been begging for Gabriel Prescott’s story since 2003, when he appeared in Just the Way You Are, the first book in Dodd’s contemporary Lost Texas Hearts series.  Over the next five years, Gabriel continued to intrigue readers with appearances in books from that series as well as Dodd’s romantic suspense, Fortune Hunter series.  Now, finally, with the March 3rd release of Danger in a Red Dress, Gabriel’s story comes to life in an unforgettable book that brings the two series together in a stunning conclusion.

When a wealthy, elderly gentleman dies in nurse, Hannah Grey’s care and leaves her a $50,000 bequest, his selfish and vindictive children convince a judge that Hannah slept with their father to obtain the money, causing Hannah’s nursing license to be revoked.  Now jobless and increasingly desperate, Hannah accepts an offer from handsome, charismatic Carrick Manly to care for his ailing, difficult mother at their home in another state but it doesn’t take long after her arrival in Maine to realize she has jumped from the frying pan into the fire.  Carrick’s charm and apparent concern for his mother hide a devious and manipulative core, Mrs. Manly has a secret that could put her life in jeopardy and Hannah finds herself caught squarely in the middle.
Abandoned as a child, then separated from his foster siblings, Gabriel Prescott has spent a lifetime searching for his family.  After recently discovering that he’s the biological son of the infamous Nathan Manly, a businessman who abandoned his company and family, disappearing with billions of dollars, Gabriel is making plans to break the news to Carrick Manly that they are half-brothers.  Before he can however, Carrick contacts Gabriel with the news that he has reason to be suspicious of his mother’s new nurse and hires Gabriel’s security company to monitor his mother’s home and gain evidence against Hannah.  Wanting to do all he can to help his younger brother, Gabriel takes him at his word and, believing the worst of Hannah, he moves into the Manly home to begin surveillance, but he never expected Hannah to be so lovely or seem so sincere, so innocent.  Using an alias, Gabriel works with Hannah to provide security for the Manly Halloween party, falling more deeply under her spell with each encounter, but just as he convinces himself that Carrick must have been mistaken about her, events take an unexpected turn and the fragile trust that had begun between them is shattered, sending Hannah running for her life.
Gabriel and Hannah are both searching for a place to belong but abandonment and betrayal have taught them to be wary of placing their trust in others.  Dodd puts them on a collision course where only by trusting in one another will they be able to survive but circumstances present Gabriel with a heartbreaking choice.  And when Hannah discovers Gabriel’s true identity will she be able to forgive his lies or will they send her running from him and straight into danger?
Dodd captured my attention from the first line, Hannah Grey couldn’t remember when she’d enjoyed a funeral more, and held it to the final page of this intensely passionate, suspenseful, action-filled story.  From beginning to end, Danger in a Red Dress is pitch perfect and an intensely satisfying conclusion for the man who captured readers’ hearts all those years ago.

This one is a keeper.

~PJ

Readers, do you enjoy epilogues? Do you want them to focus solely on the hero/heroine of the book or include other characters from the series?

What secondary character's book are you still waiting to read?

For what book would you most like to read an epilogue...or second epilogue?

Do you fill your e-reader with novellas and short stories to get you through the craziness of the holidays? (I do!) 




I'll brighten the holidays of one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment today with a copy of Danger in a Red Dress (winner's choice of kindle copy or print) and a kindle copy of Gabriel's Gift



New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd first introduced you to Gabriel Prescott in her beloved Lost Hearts series. She continued his story throughout the suspenseful Fortune Hunters series and at last, in DANGER IN A RED DRESS, readers rejoiced as he at last discovered the truth about his family, and met the woman of his dreams. 

Now, in this original short story, Gabriel must confront the demons of his past for a young girl to have any hope of a future, and discovers that, at Christmas, blessings sometimes come in disguise. 

Enjoy GABRIEL'S GIFT: A Lost Hearts Christmas Story, a heartwarming epilogue for readers of Christina Dodd's Lost Hearts and Fortune Hunters series. 10,500 words, first publication 2014.