Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Coming Attractions

Tomorrow marks the start of a brand new year and we have a brand new edition of coming attractions at The Romance Dish! Please help us celebrate January by stopping by often. We have some great guest authors lined up along with some tantalizing reviews, regular monthly blogs, and a bunch of wonderful prizes! Happy New Year to all!

Grab a pen and paper to write down your favorites from Andrea’s New Releases list for the month of January on Friday, January 3rd!

Be sure to stop by Wednesday, January 8th when we welcome the Vanessa Kelly Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard blog tour.  This is the first book in the new Renegade Royals series that kicked off in November with the e-novella, "Lost in a Royal Kiss."

Drop by on Thursday, January 9th, as we welcome young adult author Allie Burton to the blog! Allie’s latest, Soul Slam, is the first in her Soul Force series and releases TODAY!

Sexy firemen rule the day when Jennifer Bernard joins us on Friday, January 10th. The newest addition to Jennifer's Bachelor Firemen series, "Desperately Seeking Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella" was released on December 31st.  

Elizabeth Boyle will be our special guest on Monday, January 13th. Elizabeth's new book, If Wishes Were Earls (part of her Rhymes with Love series) was reviewed here on January 2nd.  

On Tuesday, January 14th, we welcome back New York Times contemporary author Catherine Bybee! Be sure to check out PJ’s interview and get the scoop on Catherine’s latest in her Weekday Brides series, Single by Saturday.  

Historical author Leigh LaValle joins us on Thursday, January 16th for a Q&A with PJ. Don't miss this visit as they are sure to dish about Leigh's highly anticipated book, The Rogue Returns. 

Make Your Reservations on Friday, January 17th, as we let you know which books we are most looking forward to in February.

You all know how we love to introduce you to debut authors. Well, on Monday, January 20th, we will introduce you to not only a debut author but also a great friend to us at the Romance Dish, Nicki Salcedo! Nicki’s debut, All Beautiful Things, releases tomorrow, January 1st! Please stop by to give her a warm welcome!

Cara Elliott returns to blog with us on Tuesday, January 21st. Cara's new The Hellions of High Street trilogy features three sisters who each have a secret passion to write.  The first book, Scandalously Yours, kicks off the trilogy on January 7th.  

Friday, January 24th, is when the always witty and glamorous Anna Campbell will bring us her Second Helping of a book or books that we may have missed the first time around.

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Cathy Maxwell dishes with us on Tuesday, January 28th! Cathy’s upcoming historical, The Bride Says No, is the first in her Brides of Wishmore series and hits shelves the same day.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Today's Special - - Alison DeLaine

It's my pleasure to introduce Alison DeLaine today.  Alison lives in rural Arizona, where she can often be found driving a dented old pickup truck out to her mining claim in the desert. When she’s not busy striking it rich, waiting on spoiled pets, or keeping her husband in line, she is happily putting characters through the wringer. Visit her at www.AlisonDeLaine.com

Alison's historical romance, A Gentleman 'til Midnight, from Harlequin HQN comes out tomorrow.  I'm reading it right now and loving it!  

Please give Alison a warm Romance Dish welcome!

Do you have a favorite place? Somewhere in the world you can’t get enough of? Maybe you watch all the travel shows, dream of vacationing there—if you’re lucky, actually vacation there—and collect stuff that reminds you of your beloved locale.

For me, that place is the Mediterranean. Which is probably why the Med snuck into my stories. (Another reason could be that I was looking for an unconventional place to locate my not-really-a-pirate heroine, and it turns out that the Mediterranean was a hotbed of pirate activity for quite some time.) It isn’t that I’ve spent much time there, although my husband and I did take an amazing trip to Turkey a few years ago. (He might describe it as “grueling”… More about that below.) It’s more that the Mediterranean lives as a magical place in my imagination.

Here are the top five things I love about the Mediterranean that also show up in my books:

The sunshine. I’m a big fan of sunshine. So are my characters. I’m also partial to the idea of a strong, handsome-as-sin man standing on the deck of the ship with his head tipped back, basking in sunlight. Maybe with… you know… his shirt fluttering in the breeze, and his large hands curled around the railing… Anyhow, I digress. I’m sure you’re not interested in anything like that.

The turquoise water. It’s true! The water really is turquoise in many places. I like to imagine my heroine and her crew anchored in a harbor somewhere (in the sunshine, of course) surrounded by blue-green water that’s so clear you can see all the way to the bottom. And just maybe, way down there, they might see some…

Ancient ruins. Yep, I can’t get enough of ‘em. Just be glad that I’ve internalized the “little goes a long way” concept. I could fill a book with descriptions of ancient ruins. Or an entire vacation—just ask my husband, who claims he was taken on a forced march through every ancient site we came across in Turkey. (He exaggerates, of course.)

Egypt. Well technically, Egypt itself doesn’t show up in my books (yet) except for an occasional mention—or, if you’ve read my novella A Lady by Day, in my heroine’s past. For me, Egypt calls to mind all sorts of exotic, ancient-world imagery, so I can’t resist tossing it in occasionally.  

Pomegranates. Okay, they grow a lot of places. Such as my back yard. (By the way, that trick about peeling a pomegranate underwater to avoid the mess? It works.) But they also grow in the Mediterranean—whole fields of pomegranate bushes—and who could resist that?

What’s your favorite place, and what are your top things to love about it? Inquiring minds want to know! And two lucky commenters will win a signed copy of my book, A Gentleman ‘til Midnight. (U.S. and Canada only)

A Gentleman ’til Midnight

The complication they don’t want…
Lady Katherine Kinloch survived captivity once. Now the notorious captain of her own ship, she refuses to let anyone jeopardize her hard-won freedom. But on a voyage to England to fight for her family’s endangered estate, Katherine is thrown off course when she unknowingly rescues celebrated naval captain James Warre…a man who stands for everything she despises.
The passion they desperately need…
Haunted by regret for his role in her dark past, James is determined to be more than the cold, calculating officer Katherine expects. Her seduction is his obsession, but his pride hangs in the balance if he gives in to temptation. And hiding beneath the scorching attraction between them lies a secret that could force the two apart for good.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We wish all of you who celebrate, a very happy Christmas
filled with joy, hope and peace.

We'll be taking a few days off to spend with our families but
will be back December 30th with
historical romance author, Alison DeLaine.

Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Spinster Is Special!

 by Anna Campbell

Hey, it's Christmas Eve! Not only that, it's my last review for the year. Thank you so much to all of you who have swung by to share your thoughts and recommendations. My TBR pile thanks you. My VISA card, not so much! ;-) Seriously, thanks to the Dishies and all their regulars. I always love popping by here each month to discuss a great book or two.

So Happy Holidays! Happy Christmas! Happy New Year!

I'd like to finish the year's reviews of some really great books with two more that may have passed under your radar.

Emily Larkin is a talented writer from New Zealand who has written romantic fantasy as Emily Gee and historical romance as Emily May. Her first book THE THIEF WITH NO SHADOW was nominated for two RITAs in 2008. I first read one of her books when I agreed to quote for THE UNMASKING OF A LADY, a fantastic historical romance with elements of OLIVER TWIST and Cinderella. I wasn't at all surprised when it was a finalist in the Australian Romantic Book of the Year awards in 2011. Since then, I've read pretty much everything Emily has written.

Emily is now writing for Entangled and it's well worth hunting out both these stories I'm reviewing today. The e-novella THE COUNTESS'S GROOM, a prequel to THE SPINSTER'S SECRET, came out in September this year. In TSS, an erotically charged diary plays an important part in the plot. TCG details how that erotic diary came to be written.

19-year-old Rose Quayle, Countess of Malmstoke, has been forced into a cruel marriage with a violent man. She's like a wounded and frightened animal when she meets Will Fenmore, a groom on her husband's estate Creed Hall. Will is a lovely character - seriously, lovely! He's a man of few words, kind, perceptive, gentle, and head over heels in love with Rose. But of course in 1762 England, a groom in love with a lady has no hope of happiness.

Well, unless the groom and the lady are brave and resourceful and willing to take some terrible risks.

Rose gradually falls under Will's spell to a point where she becomes his lover (the love scenes in this story are beautifully tender). She details her sensual awakening in a diary that she hides in a secret cupboard in her bedroom.

I really enjoyed this story about a woman emerging from a nightmare to seize her chance at happiness. And as you've probably gathered, the hero is a darling!

While it's not necessary to read Rose and Will's story before you start THE SPINSTER'S SECRET, it makes a nice appetizer for the main course.

Matilda (Mattie) Chapple is the kind of heroine I love in a Regency romance.The impoverished, intelligent, frustrated woman of no spectacular beauty who struggles to find a place for herself and her talents in a world hostile to female independence. Jane Austen was just such a woman - there are some lovely PRIDE AND PREJUDICE parallels in this story to give Austen fans a nice smile.

Mattie lives at grim Creed Hall, the setting for THE COUNTESS'S GROOM, as an unvalued poor relation with her miserly uncle, Sir Arthur Strickland; her self-centered aunt; and her aunt's impoverished companion. Mattie is a woman of courage and initiative with a dream for breaking free from her dull, restrictive existence. To finance her plan to open a boarding house, she's writing a series of 'confessions', penned by the supposed courtesan Cherie. The confessions have taken London by storm and everyone is agog to discover the author's identity.

So that's the spinster's secret - she writes dirty books!

As a virgin, Mattie has no personal experience of the encounters in her stories, but she has the erotic bestseller FANNY HILL and the mysterious diary she's discovered in a hidden cabinet in her bedroom to help her. If her moralistic and judgmental uncle discovers what she's up to, she'll be out on her ear. Also - and I liked this element of Mattie's character - she's conscious that while her uncle has never been generous, he has kept her from starving all these years. She doesn't want to hurt him with a scandal. So our spinster has many reasons to hide her activities.

Enter our hero, Edward Kane, who has returned physically and mentally scarred from his horrific experiences at Waterloo, at battle at which Mattie's beloved cousin Toby Strickland was killed. Toby was Edward's best friend, so he's calling on the family to deliver his condolences personally. Edward is eaten up with guilt because Toby died saving his life, so when Sir Arthur discovers that the notorious Cherie lives locally, Edward promises to expose the pornographer.

Of course the last person he suspects of being Cherie is plain, downtrodden Miss Chapple.

Edward is trapped with the awful food and nightly sermons at Creed Hall until he can fulfill his promise to his host. And as time goes on, plain Miss Chapple becomes increasingly intriguing and not plain at all.

But what happens when Edward discovers very personal details of his affair with Mattie appearing in Cherie's confessions? The feathers start flying!

There is so much that I love about this story. I love the secondary characters. Even grumpy old Sir Arthur is three-dimensional. I particularly love Mattie and Edward. Neither of them has had an easy path through life. When they meet, both are so wary, that it takes them a long time to realize they've found their soulmate. I love the setting with its atmospheric gothic touches. I love the wry humor and deep emotion. I love how Emily uses such rich and evocative Regency detail to create this story about finding love where you least expect it. I REALLY love the first love scene which is sweet and awkward and passionate.

So if you're looking for something lovely to read this Holiday Season, why not pick up THE SPINSTER'S SECRET? I bet you love it just as much as I do! 

The love scene in THE SPINSTER'S SECRET really is beautifully done. Let's be naughty this Christmas Eve. What's the best love scene you've read recently? Maybe we can forward the details to Mattie for her saucy books!

PJ here.  Thanks, Anna! These stories sound so yummy!  We're giving away kindle copies of both books to one person who leaves a comment.  Deadline for comments is December 26, 2013.  Merry Christmas and good luck!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grandma's Kitchen Revisited

You know what they say about best laid plans?  Well, that's my life this weekend.  An unexpected Christmas gift has laid me low - specifically, a nasty case of bronchitis.  In spite of my three prescriptions and various inhalers, I barely have enough energy to shuffle from the bed to the sofa and back.  So, instead of the blog I had intended to post today, I offer you a re-run of one of my favorite posts from the first year we opened the doors here at TRD...with a few tweaks, an additional favorite cookie recipe and a brand new giveaway. Thanks for your understanding.  I hope you enjoy my walk down memory lane. ~PJ

Some of my earliest memories are of being perched on a stool at my grandma's kitchen counter, hanging onto her every word as she taught me how to wield a rolling pin, create flaky melt-in-your-mouth biscuits or golden brown, perfectly baked cookies. Much of what I know about baking was learned at my grandma's side but baking wasn't the only thing I learned in her kitchen. Sprinkled so lightly among the various techniques that I was hardly aware of them, were gentle lessons that have guided my life over the past 50+ years. From that wise and kind woman I learned to find joy in creating something with my own hands and mind, to take pride in my accomplishments but not be boastful about them, to share willingly and joyfully with others, to have compassion for those lacking the skills or resources with which I was blessed, to treat others with the same kindness and respect that I wish to receive from them and to honor those who have gone before me by sharing my love, my time, my knowledge and a few gentle life lessons with the young people in my life.

Grandma has been with the angels for many years now but, to this day, I can still feel her gentle hand on my shoulder, guiding me in the right direction. A few years ago I was visiting with some cousins that I hadn't seen in almost 30 years. One of them said to me, "You're so much like Grandma it's almost like having her with us again." I can think of no greater compliment.


1 cup solid Crisco shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
Cream shortening. Add 1-1/2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and flavorings; beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2-3 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Dip a fork into flour then lightly press on each cookie to flatten. Sprinkle cookie with remaining sugar. Bake at 375° F. for 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
YIELD: 9 dozen

** For a festive appearance, sprinkle cookies with colored sugar before baking or forego the sugar and frost or glaze the cookies after they have baked and cooled.  .

1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped pecans
Powdered sugar
Melted milk chocolate

Cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
Add brandy, vanilla and salt; mix well.
Add flour, stirring until blended.  Stir in pecans.

Shape dough into 1-1/2 x 1/2 inch logs.  Place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake at 325° F. for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cookies should not brown.

While warm, roll cookies lightly in (or dust with) powdered sugar.  Place on wire racks to cool.  When completely cool, dip one end of cookie in melted chocolate.  Let stand on wax paper until set.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Here's a photo of Connie's Brown Sugar Caramel Pound Cake.  I'm already drooling!  For the recipe, see Connie's comment below.

Are you baking this Christmas?  Who taught you how to bake? Are you passing along that knowledge by being a baking mentor to someone else?  Share your memories with me for a chance to win our giveaway.   Share a recipe and you'll have two chances to win!

U.S. Winner:  a package of books from our prize stash

International Winner:  The Devil Wears Kilts by Suzanne Enoch (a new book that kept me up reading way past my bedtime) OR Sweet Madness by Heather Snow (one of my favorite books of 2013.)

Please indicate in your comment if you are U.S. or International.  (International giveaway open to any address to which bookdepository.com delivers.)

~ PJ

Friday, December 20, 2013

Roxanne St. Claire Winner

The winner of a set of four Barefoot Bay books from Roxanne St. Claire is

Cheryl C

Congratulations!  Please send your full name and mailing address to us at
theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Guest Review - - Lord Rakehell

by Virginia Henley
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: November 5, 2013

I once said some people write with a quill, others with a sharpie.

What I meant was that some authors are subtle and quiet in their crafting of words while others are bold and sweeping.    There was no judgment in my statement—both have their time and place—but that specific place must be considered to guarantee the best read.   

Lady Anne Curzon-Howe has been in love with Lord James Hamilton ever since she was young.    While some time has passed since she’s last seen him—time in which she’s grown into quite the unrecognizable, gorgeous young woman—she decides to have an “intrigue” when next they meet, particularly since James doesn’t seem to know who she is and now cannot take his eyes off her.    Not revealing her true name, she lets him assume she is another man’s mistress, which allows time and license for some bold flirtation with a man she’s always adored.   

With a reputation so sordid he’s earned the nickname “Lord Rakehell,” Lord James Hamilton, attendant to Queen Victoria’s heir, will do everything he can to avoid the trappings of marriage.   But while James is showing the young prince the ropes of what it truly means to be a rake, he meets a beauty beyond compare, a beauty he’s hoping to make his mistress.   What James does not know, however, is that the beauty is a lady who will never agree to be anything less than a wife. 

The thing about the Victorian era is that it is a time period rife with so many social constraints it is difficult for the hero and heroine to express themselves to each other without some restraint.  It takes a subtle author-hand to navigate around those social constraints in such a way as to use them to wind the sexual tension as tautly as possible.   It is a time period where a simple look or touch serves as the most potent form of foreplay.

In Henley's Victorian era, however, all the bawdy conversations I'm so used to and adored in her medieval romances, are still there.   And yet, I can’t quite get over the fact Queen Victoria herself is secondary character in a book where conversations occur between men and women in which the size of a particular part of a male’s anatomy is discussed openly.  And while I've always appreciated Henley's brand of bawdy, her voice in the Victorian era feels much to me as though she put on shoes that simply don't fit her. 

That said, if you have enjoyed a Henley book in the past, you might want to try Lord Rakehell.   You WILL get a Henley romance and you may count on a detailed picture of the historical events of the time. 

~J Perry Stone

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Today's Special - - Maggie Robinson and Elyssa Patrick

It's my pleasure to welcome Maggie Robinson and Elyssa Patrick to the Romance Dish today.  I've known these two authors for many years; since long before either of them was published.  It's so much fun to watch their success and growth as writers.  Maggie and Elyssa have joined forces this Christmas in Holiday for Two, a duet of snowbound romance novellas.  Learn more about Maggie and Elyssa at their respective websites and check out Holiday for Two at Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as other online book retailers. 

Welcome Maggie and Elyssa!

Hi Maggie!  Welcome back from your fabulous European vacation.  It's a pleasure to have you with us today.  Please tell our readers what they can expect from "All Through the Night."

ATTN is a warm, fun, feel-good romance where everyone's troubles get wrapped up with a red ribbon.  It's slightly Cinderella-ish, even though the Prince is just a viscount. ;)

I've always enjoyed a snowbound romance.  What do you think draws readers to this type of story?

Who doesn't love a good snuggle?  Snow is gorgeous to look at-- from the inside. I live in Maine where I'm snowbound half the winter. This is why I go to Florida in February, LOL.

Can't say as I blame you.  I grew up in snowy Michigan.  It sure didn't take much to convince me to follow my parents and younger siblings to the sunny beaches of southwest Florida!

Part of Griffin's initial appeal for Carrie is his English accent.  If you were in Carrie's position, snowbound with a hunky stranger for the night, what accent would you want him to have?

Well, you know Carrie is really a much-younger Maggie. I'll go with English too!

Carrie is transporting the Christmas turkey and the trimmings to her employer's home when she's caught in the snow.  What's the traditional Christmas dinner at your house?  

We've experimented with everything. Lately we've been having turkey breast and ham. My mashed potatoes are famous in the family, so I have to have them on the menu. My daughters do side dishes and my husband makes pies.  We all eat too much and drink lots of champagne!

What's next from Maggie Robinson?

I'm working on Book 4 in the Ladies Unlaced Edwardian historical series(the hero is a virgin!). I don't have pub dates yet, though. I also may write another contemporary novella, since I enjoyed doing this one so much

Thanks, Maggie!

Welcome, Elyssa!  It's your turn.  Please tell us about your story, "While it Was Snowing".  

Hi PJ! Thanks so much for having Maggie and I on here to talk about our anthology, Holiday for Two! 

While It Was Snowing is about two best friends who slowly discover that taking their relationship to the next level isn't as easy as they thought it would be and risk ruining their friendship for good. But thanks to a snowstorm, they're stuck in a cabin in Vermont and have to fight for what matters most: each other.

This story uses two romance themes: friends to lovers (they've known each other since they were seven) and opposites attract (Harry is a true beta with a quiet demeanor and a fondness for bow ties while Felicity is a take-charge woman with a fondness for four-letter words).  What about these romance tropes appeals to you as a writer?  Why do you feel they resonate well with readers?  

Ha, this shows you what type of writer I am as in I didn't really consider it to have too much of an opposites attract theme. ;)

But, yes, Felicity and Harry have different temperaments, but I usually like to do that with any book I'm writing where if one character is colder, the other is warmer, or if one is more outrageous, the other is more contained. In the case of Harry and Felicity, I wanted to take the usual thing and switch it up so that Harry was less assured while Felicity was not. And usually going further than just personality types, the characters are missing vital things they need: like one character might have a crappy family while the other has a warm, loving one. I like to pair characters who don't have the same qualities, so that there's that contrast and, ultimately, those differences complement one another. Also, I find it boring when the characters are too similar. Maybe it's also because I'm super shy, too self-aware, klutzy, have a sailor's mouth, and am an awful cook in real life that I tend to be drawn to confident men who can cook. :)

As to friends to lovers, I just love this theme and, for me, it's just that I think any strong relationship has friendship in addition to being lovers.

I can't speak for why the themes resonate to everyone or even guess why, but for me--and maybe this is foolish and silly on my part--but I think that most romance themes have this connection and hope that we want for ourselves in our real lives. Where our true selves are loved, accepted, respected, and where we can be who we are without fear or rejection, because the one we love loves everything about us. I believe romance is about finding the true essence of a person and celebrating that, and having that love be fulfilled for a happily ever after. 

Felicity attempts to set the mood for romance by cooking Harry's favorite foods.  What foods should a hero-in-waiting have on the menu if he wants to romance you?

I'm easy like that. Cupcakes or chocolates would easily win me over. Or nachos, lol. 

What's next from Elyssa Patrick?

Right now I'm working on my second new adult contemporary romance, Go With Me, which should come out late spring or summer 2014. 

Is there anything you'd like to ask our readers today?

Sure! Readers, tell me: What is your favorite romance theme and why? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Today's Special - - Roxanne St. Claire

It's my pleasure to introduce the fabulous Roxanne St. Claire.  Rocki, as she's more commonly known, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 30 books and a winner of Romance Writers of America's RITA award.  Her romantic suspense series (the Bullet Catchers and Guardian Angelinos) keep me on the edge of my seat while her new Barefoot Bay contemporaries wrap their arms around me like a warm hug. Deeply emotional with just the right amount of sizzle, all of her books occupy places of honor on my keeper shelf.  In addition to all that, Rocki is also one of the nicest, kindest, most genuine people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Please join me in giving her a very warm welcome!

Hi, Rocki!  Thanks for stopping by to chat about “Secrets on the Sand,” the first novella in your new The Billionaires of Barefoot Bay trilogy.  I was so happy to hear these novellas would be returning us to Barefoot Bay.  It’s become one of my favorite fictional places to visit.  Please tell our readers what to expect from this first story.

Hello and thank you so much for the invitation to be here! You know I love this blog and am delighted to answer questions, reply to comments, and, of course, give some beach books away!  Readers can expect a sexy-but-sweet hero, a determined-but-vulnerable heroine, a little heartache, a lot of romance, and a feel-good ending.  All for $2.99 on your ereader or Kindle app! And, readers can expect more billionaires, right around the corner in January and February.

I really liked Zeke and Mandy and wanted the best for them.  What would you like readers to understand about these two characters?

What a fun question.  I guess I’d like readers to understand that people change so much between high school and adult that they can be unrecognizable to each other.  But inside, they are the same person, despite failures or successes along the way.

Are you able to give us a sneak peek into the other novellas, “Seduction on the Sand” and “Scandal in the Sand?”  When will they be released?

All of the books are just over 40,000 words, so they are not short novellas -- they are about half the length of a book.  The billionaires in the books are all friends and they all share a love of baseball.  They play together on a recreational softball team in New York called The Niners (so named for the number of zeroes in their net worth) and, in the course of the first book, they decided to start a minor league baseball team in Barefoot Bay.  Seduction on the Sand is the story of real estate mogul Elliott Becker who has his eye on the last piece of land they need to close the deal, but the feisty goatherd who lives there has different ideas.  Scandal on the Sand is about billionaire bad-boy Nate Ivory, of the world-famous and insanely wealthy Ivory family.  He’s got a secret baby coming...and that’s going to shake a lot of worlds.

Your books have a tendency to keep me reading late into the night.  What’s the last book that kept you reading past your bedtime?

I would have to say SANCTUARY ISLAND by Lily Everett.  In fact...it gets a call out in Secrets on the Sand, that’s how much I love it.  (And the author!)

I second your recommendation of SANCTUARY ISLAND.  I loved it and was delighted to see the tie-in while reading Secrets on the Sand.  

We’re in a holiday frame of mind around here.  What Christmas, New Year’s or other holiday traditions are you looking forward to this month?

Every year, we do an over the top Italian Christmas Eve, called The Feast of the Seven Fishes.  And by “we,” of course I mean my husband the Italian Chef.  He pulls out all the stops and this nine or ten course feast is always the highlight of the season.

I love to bake, especially at this festive time of year.  What’s your favorite holiday treat?  Do you have a recipe to share with us?

This isn’t baking, but seafood crepes are of the very favorite dishes at our Christmas Eve feast.

Tasty shrimp and scallops rolled into a thin and delicate crepe and topped with a luxurious cream sauce, this rich and delicious entrée provides an exquisite showcase for the fruits of the sea.  My husband says the French try to take credit for the crepe…but the Italians perfected the crespelle!
Crespelle (Italian crepe)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl using a whisk. Place the batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crespelle will be less likely to tear during cooking. Heat a small non-stick pan or crepe pan and add butter to coat. Pour about an  ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly.  (The first one or two tries will be a bit messy but after a couple of tries they'll all come out perfectly.) Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a cool plate  Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them. They will be fine in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days. 

Seafood Filling (makes about one dozen crespelle)

  • 12 oz. 21-25 size shrimp cleaned and deveined and cut into 3 pieces each
  • 8 oz. scallops cut into similar size pieces as the shrimp
  • 3 tbls. butter
  • 1 large shallot chopped
  • generous splash of cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream,
  • large pinch of dried Thyme
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Heat butter in sauté pan and sauté shallot a couple of minutes just until softened. Add seafood and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add cognac (or brandy) and heat till alcohol evaporates (1 minute or so). Add thyme, salt, pepper, and cream. When adding cream, remember the consistency of the filling can be adjusted by how much you add. Cook another minute or so till cream slightly thickens. 
Remove from heat and fill and roll crespelle and place in a buttered 9 by 13 baking pan or glass oven dish.

Tomato Cream Sauce Topping
  • 2 tbls. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled  tomatoes (crush by hand)
  • 1 tsp. thyme dried
  • 1 tsp. basil, dried
  • 1 whole bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Over medium heat, heat oil in a large pot until hot. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until the onions begin to appear translucent. Add the herbs and stir.  Add tomatoes. Sprinkle in sugar, and a splash of Marsala wine. Add salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally.
Prior to saucing the crespelle before baking, add some cream to lighten the tomato sauce.
Bake the crespelle for about 10 minutes in pre-heated 350 degree oven, then top with tomato cream sauce. 

Serve immediately and enjoy!!

Oh, man.  That sounds delicious.  I love crepes!  

What are you working on now?

Christmas!! But when not shopping, wrapping, and spreading cheer, I’m finishing up the last of the Billionaire books and planning the Barefoot Brides trilogy -- coming this summer and fall!

So many wonderful stories for us to look forward to!  

Thanks for visiting with us, Rocki.  Would you like to ask our readers a question today?

Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?  Either way, I hope your stocking is stuffed and your heart is full of joy!  One winner will get a full set of FOUR Barefoot Bay books! 

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

What a wonderful giveaway!  Thank you!  Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

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