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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Today's Special - - Anna Sugden

One of my favorite Brits is back today with more hockey hunks, a new book and a terrific giveaway.  I was beyond excited when I discovered that Anna Sugden's debut book would be first in a series revolving around a professional ice hockey team. As soon as I read that book - A Perfect Distraction - I began counting the days until book two was launched into the world.  Sugden's sophomore effort, A Perfect Trade does not disappoint.  Captivating me from beginning to end, this deeply emotional journey snaps, sizzles and refuses to let me go.  I'm still thinking about these characters more than two weeks after finishing their story. Anna recently answered some questions for me about her books and herself.  I hope you enjoy our Q&A!  



Hi PJ, and all you Dishy dames! Thank you so much for letting me hang out with you today - it’s great to be back!

Hi Anna!  It's always a pleasure to host you here at TRD.  Congratulations on the release of A Perfect Trade!  This book grabbed me from the first page and still hasn't let go.  Please tell our readers what they can expect from this second book in your New Jersey Ice Cats series.

Aww thank you so much. I can’t tell you what it means to me that you enjoyed Tru and Jenny’s story.  The Ice Cats are back in A Perfect Trade. This time, the focus swings over to Jelinek family and middle brother, Tru - who is also Jake’s best friend.

There is a slight change of pace in A Perfect Trade, in that the season is more or less over and it’s not been a good one. Tru’s career with the Ice Cats is in jeopardy and he’s not happy about it. Meanwhile, the past has reared its ugly head with Jenny. So, you’ll all get to find out what caused the problems between them!

As with A Perfect Distraction, in A Perfect Trade, there are some complex emotional issues to be resolved before Tru and Jenny can have their happy ever after.

Here’s the blurb:

A win-win negotiation? 
Truman "Tru" Jelinek's life is pretty much off the rails. With his professional hockey career on thin ice, and his personal life falling apart, he's ready to implement some serious changes. Helping Jenny Martin—the only girl he's ever loved—make her dreams a reality is a good place to start. 
There's just one problem: Jenny doesn't want his help. She barely wants to speak to him. But Tru is prepared to negotiate a deal that even Jenny can't refuse. As trading favors turns into sharing passion, he has to face the truth that when it comes to Jenny, the game is far from over.

There are some major obstacles standing between Jenny and Tru and their potential happy ending.  What was it about these two that convinced you they had a shot at making it the second time around?

You know that feeling you have when you just know two people should be together? That’s what I had with Tru and Jenny. I think the key really was that these are two good people who have similar values. What split them apart was terrible, but it was done with the best of intentions. And, beneath it all, I could feel the need they each felt for the other. Not just attraction, but that calling from the heart of one mate to another.
As I was writing them, what became clear was that the past -- which had been terrible for both of them, for different reasons -- had forged two survivors. That they’d been able to overcome those issues meant there was hope that they could surmount these obstacles too.

My late husband was a brawny jock who knew his way around the kitchen so, of course, my heart melted when Tru’s method of comforting Jenny was to cook for her.  What comfort food would you most want your hero to cook for you?

I’m very lucky in that Doc Cambridge is a fabulous cook J In fact, right now, he’s making ice cream for me! Honestly, my favourite comfort food is a good, old-fashioned English breakfast (what we call a ‘fry up’!) - eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, baked beans, fried potatoes, mushrooms and some cherry tomatoes on the side. Yum!

Oh, that sounds yummy!  Breakfast is my favorite meal.  

Jenny is a complex woman with more layers than her reputation would suggest.  What surprised you most about this character?

I fell in love with Jenny the minute she walked onto the page in A Perfect Distraction. Aside from her great boots <g>, she had such a confident personality, she was intensely loyal and she was a genuine and knowledgeable lover of hockey. Yet she chose to be a puck bunny (hockey groupie). What’s more, she’d made being a puck bunny into something elite. You can’t help but admire her!

What surprised me most about her was her vulnerability. I think we forget that people who appear tough on the outside, often have that protective shell for a reason. More, Jenny didn’t let her horrible past make her into a victim, but used her vulnerability to fuel her strength.

I think that's what I liked best about her too; the fact that she refused to be a victim.  

There are some mouth-watering examples of hero inspiration among professional hockey players these days.  Did you use a real-life person as inspiration for Tru or is he strictly a product of your imagination?

Excuse me while I pause to think about some of those mouthwatering hockey players <happy sigh>.

Oh, please take your time.  We'll wait here and drool over that photo on the left. Now that's inspiration! 

While the Ice Cats series was inspired by real life hockey players -- especially the contradiction between the men they are on the ice and what they’re like off the ice -- as indeed was Jake, Tru was a figment of my imagination. Although, I must admit that Colorado Avalanche great, Joe Sakic, was in my head as the model of a player with an honest, honourable reputation. Then I added in the trait that I think many superstars must have, which is the belief that they know best about everything!

Would you like to share an excerpt from the book?

Absolutely. This is from a scene where Jenny and Tru end up at a place they used to go to when they were high school sweethearts. They’re both escaping their own problems and neither expects the other to be there.

Tru had barely taken a bite of his burger when he caught a movement at the edge of his vision. Jenny’s fork clattered to the table. She pushed her plate away and cradled her head in her hands.
Before Tru could question his actions, he was stand­ing by her side—with no idea what to say.
“You’re a long way from home.” Were those gruffly spoken words the best he could do?
Jenny’s back stiffened, but she didn’t look up.
Where was her usual snappy comeback? Her lack of reaction worried him. Whatever was wrong, was bad. He had to do something to spark a response. “Didn’t think this was your neighborhood anymore.”
She lifted her head, glaring at him. “Excuse me?”
“Look around. No hockey players.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You’re right. At least, no good hockey players.”
Ouch. Still, fire had finally flashed in her blue eyes.
He slid into the booth, opposite her.
“Go away, Truman. I’m eating.”
“Uh-huh. And what was that you were doing when I came over? Praying?” He winced inwardly. He’d wanted a reaction, not to hurt her.
“You, of all people, should know I don’t believe in God.”
“My point exactly.” He helped himself to a French fry.
“Hey, get your own fries.”
“You used to be better at sharing.” He plucked an onion ring from her plate and offered it to her. When she continued to glare, he shrugged and ate it himself.
Jenny stood, marched over to the waitress station and grabbed a bottle of ketchup. When she returned, she deliberately poured sauce over the fries and rings.
His heart kicked. She’d remembered he didn’t like ketchup. “Now, that’s just mean.”
He went to collect his own dinner and returned.
Jenny rolled her eyes. “Do you always force your company upon women?”
“I never have to force anything. They flock to me.”
“Like lemmings to a cliff?”
He grinned. “Not bad.”
“I’m just warming up.”

What can we expect next from the Ice Cats?

I’m just finishing up the third book in the series, tentatively titled A Perfect Catch, which is Ike and Tracy’s story. Boy are these two hard-headed people giving me a tough ride!  I don’t want to give too much away, other than to say that this deals with another aspect of a professional athlete’s life - injury.

All being well, A Perfect Catch will be out in Feb 2015.

Marking my calendar!

Let’s talk about you for a bit. 

I have favorite summer reading places that differ from my favorite winter reading places.  Where’s your favorite place to curl up with a good book during the warm summer months?  Is this also your favorite place to write?

We have a lovely conservatory on the back of our house. We had it built when we came back from New Jersey because we missed the bright light you got there. Plus we missed the ability to sit outside for so much of the year. Our conservatory allows us the bright light and the ability to sit ‘outside’ even when the weather is bad!

I have a really comfortable chair in the conservatory, which is perfect for curling up and reading. The only problem is that I have to fight my cats for my chair! Jersey Girl, in particular loves to sneak on there.

What books are on your reading list for this summer?  (I expect a re-read of A PERFECT TRADE to end up on mine.  Probably A PERFECT DISTRACTION too!)

Aww thank you!

One of the great things about the summer is that we tend to travel (eg to the RWA conference), which means two long flights with uninterrupted reading time! I usually save my romantic suspenses and thrillers for those journeys - so the latest Karen Rose, Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen and JD Robb. I’m also saving the latest CS Harris.

It’s a good time to try new authors for me - this trip, I plan to read Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley. It’s a mystery that features a hockey-playing newspaper editor as the crime-solver. Not my usual fare, but you can imagine what drew me to the story! ;)

Will you be attending any conferences or book signings where readers will have the opportunity to meet you this summer?

I will be at the RWA Conference in San Antonio later this month. This will be my first book signing, so I’m very excited! I’d love to meet any readers who plan to go to the Literacy Signing.

Can't wait to see you in San Antonio!  

Thank you so much for visiting with us today, Anna.  Would you like to ask our readers a question?

It’s my pleasure. I love hanging out with everyone here! I’m going to steal one of your questions and ask everyone- does your other half cook (if so, what is his specialty) and what is your favourite comfort food?

One lucky person leaving a comment on today's post will receive a gift pack from Anna that includes a copy of A Perfect Trade as well as an exclusive A Perfect Trade notebook and key ring. And, Anna has generously opened this giveaway to all of our readers!  







76 comments:

  1. Congrats on the new book, Anna! My hubby cooks. When we met we found we had many of the same cookbooks. LOL He loves to make this huge, rich cheesecake, though he doesn't do it to often. For me, comfort food would be soup of any kind. :)

    Marcy Shuler

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    1. Cheesecake? Keep that man around, Marcy! :)

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    2. Sorry, Marcy - reply below!

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  2. Congrats on the new release, Anna. Ah, good ole Joe Sakic. I want a conservatory, too. None of us are keen cookers. My comfort foods are usually greasy like pizza, fries and donuts.

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    1. I like to cook but pizza is still one of my favorite comfort foods.

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    2. Thanks, Jane! Nothing wrong with those comfort foods! I love pizza and fries.

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  3. Congratulations on your new release. It sounds fantastic.

    I wish the Mister cooked. He could take over from me. I find it such a chore. My favorite comfort foods are fruits. Whatever is in season.

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    1. Peaches are in season here and I'm loving it. I stopped by an orchard Friday to pick up a bag and have had them for every meal since. So yummy! :)

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    2. Thanks, Mary! fruits are so good - we love having ones we've grown ourselves.

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  4. Hi, Anna, can't wait to read your new book! Love that you modeled Tru after "Burnaby Joe", he was one of my faves when he was playing in the NHL. I do all of the cooking and my comfort food is rice or pasta. I wish I could find a guy who would cook for me! ;-)

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    1. Nice inspiration for a romance hero! :)

      Happy Canada Day, Anita!

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    2. Thanks, Anita. Wasn't he a fantastic player and such a great guy by all accounts. Hope you find a hero who cooks!

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    3. Thanks PJ, so nice of you to remember! And Anna, I hope I find him too! :)

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  5. Congratulations on your new book! My husband can cook but he mostly grills. When he cooks the kitchen is a disaster area.

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    1. My late husband could cook up a gourmet meal and leave the kitchen spotless. Me? Yeah, not so much. lol

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    2. Hi Maureen. A lot of men are great with grilling. LOL on the kitchen being a disaster area. I'm like PJ - I have a hubby who can cook and clean too.

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  6. Hi Anna,

    Hockey players are amazing athletes. I've been a fan of the sport since my college days.

    As for cooking, my husband knows how to make two dinners, breaded chicken and breaded pork chops. It's always a nice treat for me when he takes over cooking duty.

    Favorite comfort food: ICE CREAM

    Love it! I even it it for breakfast. It puts me in a good mood. I've been a ice cream lover since I was a small child. I usually eat Breyer's Heath Toffee or Edy's mint chocolate chip.

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    1. Right there with you, Laurie! I grew up a hockey fan then cemented my love of the game through my college boyfriend (who played on my university's hockey team).

      Nothing wrong with breakfast ice cream! It's dairy, right? *grin*

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Laurie. Glad to see another sports fan here. Not bad for your husband - at least he can do those two. LOL about ice cream!

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  7. Hi, Anna! I am so excited for you and your second release! Thanks for hosting her today, PJ!
    My husband does cook; sometimes he'll look up recipes online, other times he does the breakfast-at-night meal. I am very lucky because he cooks 98% of the time during the school year on weeknights. He came up with a casserole-type dish, using Bisquick as the base. He's made it with hamburger, chicken, sausage, and ham, and lots of cheese; we like them all.
    My comfort food is mashed potatoes. Warm and buttery with salt.
    Thanks for being here!!

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    1. Mashed potatoes is a big comfort food in my house too, Deb. I always keep a jar of gravy on hand in case I need a quick comfort fix. ;-)

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    2. Hi Deb! Great to see you here! Thanks so much :) Sounds like you have a great cook for a husband! How cool that he is so keen to even make up recipes. Yum! LOVE mashed potatoes.

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  8. I haven't read any of your books yet but would like to...I would love to win your books, I enjoyed the interview. Thank you for the chance and the giveaway!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, LS. I hope you'll give Anna's books a try. They're terrific! :)

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, LS! Hope you enjoy the New Jersey Ice Cats series!

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  9. Thanks, Marcy! How lovely that you both like cookbooks - Doc Cambridge and I do too! We have a huge bookcase in our kitchen filled with them! :)

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    1. Ack - for some reason that didn't post beneath Marcy's comment!

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    2. It's okay, Anna, I found it. LOL Between my hubby and I we have more cookbooks than is normal, I'm sure. ;)

      Marcy

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  10. Welcome, Anna! So glad to have you join us today!

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    1. Thanks so much for having me, PJ! Thank you too for your very kind words about Tru and Jenny's story!

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  11. Husband barbeques. My favorite comfort food is spaghetti and meatballs.

    This book sounds great - I love sports related books.

    Pat L.

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    1. Hi Pat, thanks for stopping by. Another one with a hubby who barbecues - how nice!

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  12. Hi Anna,

    Congratulations on the release of A Perfect Trade!

    I loved A Perfect Distraction so I can't wait to read A Perfect Trade.

    My husband cooks one dish, once a year - Mother's Day!

    He makes what he calls a traditional Italian lasagne - he is part Italian, and it is very yummy. I love not cooking on Mother's Day :-)

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    1. Hi Lucy! Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm so glad you loved A Perfect Distraction - hope you enjoy A Perfect Trade!

      Aww how sweet that your hubby makes the effort that one day of the year. I love lasagne, but it takes too much effort to make most of the time!

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  13. Anna, I LOVED A Perfect Distraction (and what a bonus to have the "perfect" title too)! I was quite happy that you wrote the anticipation to the HEA so cleverly - it wasn't just about having great sex (although that can never hurt, har har).
    Alas, my husband barbecues, and almost every time he says, "So, how is it?" He doesn't get that I don't ask about the other 600+ meals of the year that *I* make (because we should both be commenting things like, "Yummmm, I love it when you make this" or "This is fantastic," etc., without having been asked first, instead).
    My comfort food would be Kraft Dinner. When I was single, I could eat the whole box and three wieners for supper. Today at 55, I eat 1/4 box and a bunch of veggies instead. My, how the mighty have fallen, LOL.

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    1. Hi Laney! Thanks so much for visiting today and for your lovely words about A Perfect Distraction. BTW have you checked The Pink Heart Society? Just sayin' ;)

      LOL men are funny like that, aren't they? Even when you tell them, they still want extra affirmation! Oh yum on the Kraft dinner! Ah but we ladies in our prime have to be more careful about what we eat. We don't have the metabolism of those youthful days. For sure, I don't!

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  14. I promised myself for the rest of the summer I'm reading from my huge TBR pile.

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    1. I keep promising myself that, JCP. But it doesn't seem to shrink any. Especially since we don't count the ones on my iPad Kindle app!

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  15. No favorite food except mashed potatoes

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  16. I'm sorry to say he does not.When I came home from the hospital he made frozen pot pies every night for a week

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    1. Oh bless him, Peggy. At least he tried! ;) Hope you're fully better now!

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  17. My husband does not know how to cook. I keep reminding him that he would starve without me! :-)

    Your new book sounds like a fun read. I have always enjoyed second chance romances.

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    1. He's a lucky man to have you, Cheryl! Thanks! Hope you enjoy Tru and Jenny's story! :)

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  18. Congratulations on your new release. I haven't read your sports books yet, but I always enjoy that particular backdrop.

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    1. Thanks, Kim! If you love hockey and romance, hopefully you'll love my New Jersey Ice Cats series! :)

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  19. Don't enter me but I just wanted everyone to know how much I enjoyed A Perfect Trade!

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    1. Aww thank you so much Catslady! :) It's truly a dream come true to have readers enjoy my books!

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  20. My husband and cooking should never be uttered in the same sentence. This week he tried to make spaghetti sauce. He started with sauce in a jar and then added other ingredients until it was nearly unrecognizable. Ugh.

    Occasionally he makes pancakes, from a pre-measured pouch mix to which he adds water that I must measure first, since he hasn't figured out how to use a measuring cup in 23 years of marriage.

    Thankfully, I do know how to cook or we'd starve.

    Susan in AZ

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    1. Oh Susan. thank you for the laugh! I'm sorry you have to live through your husband's spaghetti sauce! Goodness, how hard can it be to use a measuring jug?! You are clearly a saint!

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  21. Woo-hoo! Congratulations, Anna! I loved A Perfect Distraction and am eager to read A Perfect Trade.

    As for your question, yes, my other half cooks--way better than I do, and he likes it way more than I do. My favorite comfort food is mac and cheese, and his is fabulous. He also makes amazing chocolate chip-cream cheese swirl brownies.

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    1. Hey Nancy! Thank you so much for stopping by! And thank you too for you love for my Ice Cats!

      I have yet to taste your hubby's brownies, but I've heard all the raves about them! I love mac and cheese!

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    2. I'll be happy to vouch for Nancy's hubby's cooking. The man definitely knows his way around the kitchen!

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  22. HI Anna!
    I haven't read any of your books yet but hope to soon. I have read a series about Ice skating mysteries but as far as I know she has not come out with any new ones in a while and they were good. My husband doesn't cook if you ask him to watch the pizza he will burn it so its just me or my son who is a great cook that's probably why I like to go out to eat.
    My comfort food is ICE CREAM especially chocolate marshmellow

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    1. Hi Deerdoe69! Thanks for stopping by and taking part in the fun! I hope you'll enjoy your foray into my New Jersey Ice Cats - those hockey players have a way of grabbing hold of your heart!

      How nice that your son can cook. I think it's the one of the greatest things we can do - teach the younger generation how to cook, so they can be self-sufficient!

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  23. Two of my favourite people together! Hi PJ! Thanks for having Anna with you today.

    Anna, I'm so looking forward to A PERFECT TRADE. THere's so much chemistry between Tru and Jenny, it really leaps off the page. I really like the difference between what we expect from a "puck bunny" and what we get in Jenny. She can't be pigeon-holed as a bimbo. Congratulations!

    Wish I could be in San Antonio to see you both. Maybe next year:)

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    1. Christina! It's been far too long! Thank you so much for your love for Tru and Jenny - I must admit to such a big soft spot for them both!

      Can I say how much I'm looking forward to your latest out this month - The Wickedest Lord Alive?! You know how much I love your books!

      Will miss you in San Antonio - roll on NY! (or Cambridge?!)

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    2. Hi Christina! Congrats on the release of your new book! It's on my kindle waiting for me. Can't wait to dive in!

      It's been too long since NY. Hope you'll be able to make it next summer!

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  24. Hi Anna, can't wait to read A Perfect Trade! I have no other half yet so I'm forced to make due and try not to burn down the kitchen making my own food. My comfort food is crepes with whipped cream and bananas. Yum, at least that's one thing I can do right in the kitchen lol

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    1. I love crepes! Haven't made them in a long time. I may need to give that a go sometime this summer.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Hi Ada! Thanks so much! LOL it's true what they say about necessity being a great teacher! Yum on the crepes!

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  25. A Perfect Trade sounds delightful and special. I am the only one who cooks so my skills have improved drastically and are creative.

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    1. I enjoy a creative cook. My hubby was the same way and taught me to be more adventurous in my cooking which made my tummy very happy! :)

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Traveler. Doc Cambridge and I are always trying new dishes!

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  26. I had to learn to cook since everyone would starve and it has been a learning experience. My favorite comfort food is chicken soup and crusty Italian Bread. I would love to read A Perfect Trade. What a great title.

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    1. I love a hearty soup and warm from the oven bread. Yum!

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    2. Hi Petite! Thanks! I love the title too! :) It's a perfect fit for the book. Love chicken soup and crusty bread!

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  27. This sounds really good, I can't wait to read it! Thanks for the review on it.
    Penney

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    1. It's a good story, Penney, as is the first book in the series, A Perfect Distraction. Hope you enjoy them.

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  28. Happy release! Nope

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    1. Hi BN100! Thank you! Is that nope to your other half can't cook or nope to no comfort food?! :)

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  29. Thanks for hanging with us today, Anna. Wishing you all the best with A Perfect Trade. See you in San Antonio!

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    1. It's really been my pleasure, PJ. Thank you so much again for letting me hang with you all and for making me so welcome! Can't wait to see you in San Antonio! Not long now!

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  30. I enjoyed A PERFECT DISTRACTION. I grew up in the Northeast on the Canadian border not far from Montreal, Canada. Needless to say, hockey was a big part of the sports scene. I caught a game on TV after not watching one for several years. I'd forgotten how fast the game moves. Still fun to watch.
    I look forward to reading A PERFECT TRADE. Best wishes for a successful release.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, librarypat! Thanks too for your saying you enjoyed A Perfect Distraction! Hope you enjoy A Perfect Trade. Ah yes, I can see where you got your knowledge of hockey from - Habs country! We're slowly converting the masses to hockey LOL.

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  31. Na my husband will not cook!
    Penney

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