Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Books read in 2013

Books read in 2013


January (14)

4. The Billionaire's Fair Lady by Barbara Wallace
5. Yours at Midnight by Robin Bielman
6. The Wedding Fling by Meg Maguire
7. Tempting the Player by J. Lynn (Book #2 in the Gamble Brothers series)
8. Kissing Kendall by Jennifer Shirk (Book #2 in the Maritime City series)
9. The Boss' Fake Fiancée by Inara Scott
10. Vanilla on Top by C.J. Ellisson
11. Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson (Book #1 in the Game for It series)
12. Recipe for Satisfaction by Gina Gordon (Book #1 in the Madewood Brothers series)
13. How to Misbehave by Ruthie Knox (Book #1 in the Camelot series)
14. Scored by Lily Harlem 


February (13)

15. Slap Shot by Lily Harlem (Book #3 in the Hot Ice series)
16. Teamwork by Lily Harlem (Book #4 in the Hot Ice series)
17. Once Burned by Dee Carney (Book #1 in the Close to the Heat series)
18. Hired by Lily Harlem (Book #1 in the Hot Ice series) - (re-read)
19. Body Check by Deirdre Martin (Book #1 in the New York Blades series)
20. Anything For You by Jessica Scott (Book # 2.5 in the Coming Home series)
21. Confidence Tricks by Tamara Morgan 
22. Just One Night by Erin Nicholas
23. Holding Out for a Hero by (currently reading)
24. The Best Man by Kristan Higgins (Book #1 in the Blue Heron series)
25. Prior Engagement by Karina Bliss
26. Pursued by the Prisoner by Ann Mayburn
27. The Officer Breaks the Rules by Jeanette Murray (Book #2 in the Semper Fi series)


March (24)

28. With This Kiss: Part One by Eloisa James 
29. With This Kiss: Part Two by Eloisa James 
30. With This Kiss: Part Three by Eloisa James 
31. Down and Dirty by Christine Bell (Book #2 in the Dare Me series)
32. The Valentine Challenge by Marisa Cleveland 
33. Changing the Game by Jaci Burton (Book # 2 in the Play by Play series)
34. Temptation by Kathryn Barrett *
35. Wayward One by Lorelei Brown 
36. Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross (Book #2 in the Bagram Special Ops series)
37. To Iraq and Back by Jessica Scott 
38. Faking It by Diane Alberts 
39. Adoring Addie by Leslie Gould (Book #2 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series)
40. Goodbye to Yesterday by Wanda E. Brunstetter (Book #1 in the Discovery series)
41. A Wedding for Julia by Vannetta Chapman  (Book #3 in the Pebble Creek series)
42. Jilted by Kelly Jamieson (Book #1 in the Promise Harbor Wedding series)
43. A Risk Worth Taking by Victoria James (Book #1 in the Red River series) 
44. Take What You Want by Jeanette Grey
45. The Baby Bargain by Jennifer Apodaca
46. Private Practice by Samanthe Beck
47. Kathryn, the Kitten by Lavinia Kent (Book #1 in the Real Duchesses of London series)
48. Loving the Marquess by Suzanna Medeiros (Book #1 in the Landing a Lord series) 
49. Dancing with the Duke by Suzanna Medeiros (Book #0.5 in the Landing a Lord series) 
50. The Pet Shop by K.D. Grace (re-read)
51. A Little Bit Cupid by Jennifer Shirk


April (15)

52. Sweet Madness (Book #3 in the Veiled Seduction series) 
53. Rebellion by Eleri Stone (Book #3 in the Lost City Shifters series)
54. Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant 
55. The Practice Proposal by Tracy March (Book #1 in the Suddenly Smitten series)
56. Big Boy by Ruthie Knox 
57. It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis (Book #7 in the Lucky Harbor series)
58. Bolted by Meg Benjamin (Book #2 in the Promise Harbor Wedding series) 
59. A Fine Romance by Christi Barth  (Book #2 in the Aisle Bound series) 
60. Busted by Sydney Somers (Book #3 in the Promise Harbor Wedding series) 
61. Lord of Secrets by Alyssa Everett
62. Shameless Desire by Tina Donahue (Book #3 in the Outlawed Realm series)
63. Femme Fatale by Cindy Dees (Book #1 in the Hard Bodies series) (currently reading)
64. Sins of the Lost by Linda Poitevin (Book #3 in the Grigori Legacy series)
65. Still by Ann Mayburn (Book #1 in the Long Slow Tease series) (currently reading)
66. Lover Undercover by Samanthe Beck (Book #1 in the Love Undercover series)


May (19)

67. Hitched by Erin Nicholas (Book #4 in the Promise Harbor Wedding series) 
68. Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James (Book #5 in the Fairy Tales series) 
69. Taken by the Duke by Jess Michaels (Book #1 in the PleasureWars series) 
70. Seducing Charlotte by Diana Quincy (Book #1 in the Accidental Peers series)*
71. Gone with the Wolf by Kristin Miller (Book #1 in the Seattle Wolf Pack series)
72. Plus One by Brighton Walsh*
73. One Night of Misbehavor by Shelley Munro
74. Hold Me Down Hard by Cathryn Fox
75. The Mad Earl's Bride by Loretta Chase
76. Spin Devil by Red Garnier (Book #1 in the Devilish Games series)
77. Defending the Duchess by Rachelle McCalla (Book #1 in the Protecting the Crown series)
78. Against the Wall by Rebecca Zanetti (Book #1 in the Maverick Montana series)
79. Chasing Mrs. Right by Katee Robert (Book #2 in the Come Undone series) (currently reading)
80. Kissing the Maid of Honor by Robin Bielman (Book #1 in the Secret Wishes series)
81. Dream Nights with the CEO by Kathy Lyons (Book #1 in the Secret Desires series)
82. The Elusive Wife by Callie Hutton
83. Luck of the Draw by Kelley Vitollo (Book #2 in the Shamrock Falls series) (currently reading)
84. Never Too Late by Amara Royce
85. SEAL of Honor (Book #1 in the HORNET series)


June (8)

86. Hook's Pan by Marie Hall (Book #5 in the Kingdom series)
87. It Takes Two by Erin Nicholas (Book #2 in the Counting on Love series)
88. Skin in the Game by Jackie Barbosa (Book #1 in the Play Action series)
89. An Outlaw in Wonderland by Lori Austin (Book #2 in the Once Upon a Time in the West series)
90. Into the Fire by Amanda Usen (Book #1 in the Hot Nights series)
91. Temporary Arrangement by Karen Erickson (Book #1 in The Renaldis series)
92. Tempted by Her Boss by Karen Erickson (Book #1 in The Renaldis series)
93. Legal Heat by Sarah Castille (Book #1 in the Legal Heat series)


July (10)

94. Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall (Book #3 in the Elusive Lords series)
95. The Right Temptation by Diane Escalera
96. The Officer and the Secret by Jeanette Murray (Book #3 in the Semper Fi series)
97. Lost to the Desert Warrior by Sarah Morgan
98. Defiant in the Viking's Bed by Joanna Fulford
99. Winning a Bride by Jade Lee (Book #2.5 in the Bridal Favors series)
100. Protecting What's His by Tessa Bailey (Book #1 in the Line of Duty series)
101. His Risk to Take by Tessa Bailey (Book #2 in the Line of Duty series)
102. Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey (Book #3 in the Line of Duty series)
103. Best of Three by Erin Nicholas (Book #3 in the Counting on Love series)


August (5)

104. Hero's Redemption by Georgie Lee
105. Pitch Perfect by Sierra Dean (Book #1 in the Boys of Summer series)
106. Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep (Book #3 in the Mythos Academy series)
107. Eat, Play, Lust by Tawna Fenske
108. Some Like It Spicy by Robbie Terman*


September (3)

109. Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain (Book #3 in the Holiday Pleasures series)
110. Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis (Book #8 in the Lucky Harbor series)
111. Love at First Date by Susan Hatler (Book #1 in the Better Date than Never series)


October (4)

112. Pleasuring the Lady by Jess Michaels (Book #2 in the Pleasure Wars series)
113. A Tryst with Trouble by Alyssa Everett
114. The Rebound Guy by Fiona Harper
115. If You Give a Rake a Ruby by Shona Galen (Book #1 in the Jewels of the Ton series)


November (2)

116. Alchemystic by Anton Strout (Book #1 in the Spellmason Chronicles series)
117. Yours to Keep by Serena Bell


December (5)

118. Going for Four by Erin Nicholas (Book #4 in the Counting on Love series)
118. Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh
120. Tempting Bella by Diana Quincy (Book #2 in the Accidental Peers series)
121. Down the Aisle by Christine Bell (Book #2.5 in the Dare Me series)
122. Compromising Willa by Diana Quincy (Book #3 in the Accidental Peers series) (currently reading)

Updated on 31 December 2013

* 2013 Top Reads


To see the list of books read in 2010 click HERE, for the books read in 2011 click HERE, and for books read in 2012 click HERE.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Interview with Jillian Stone + Giveaway


Today I'm very excited to welcome to Ex Libris author Jillian Stone with a somewhat different kind of interview to celebrate the festive season! Jillian is one of my favorite Historical Romance authors and her stories are always fresh and manage to stand out. Plus, her heroines are so strong and independent that I can't help but connect with them and admire them! So, please welcome not only Jillian but Fanny and Raphael as well!

Hello Fanny and Raphael and welcome to Let It Snow Books event! We’re very excited to have you here today!

Q: Fanny, could you please tell us how you’re planning to spend the Christmas Holidays this year?

Fanny: Oh, I don’t believe we’ll stray far from hearth and home this year. After such a thrilling, adventurous summer, both Rafe and I are happily settling in together.

Q: Is there anything special you usually do for the holidays, Raphael?

Rafael: We’re going to stay in Edinburgh to celebrate the New Year. Harry is very excited as this will be his first Hogmanay, and he’s looking forward to the piper and drum tattoo as well as the fireworks.

Q: For readers who don’t know about Hogmanay, could you tell us a little about it?

Rafael: Hogmanay is the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. The festivities often last through the night until the morning of New Year’s Day. Harry won’t be allowed to stay up all night, but Fanny and I might give it a go––sing a little “Auld Lang Syne."

Q: I was wondering Raphael, what’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Rafael: Truthfully, I used to dread the holidays, but now that Fanny and I are married, and I am no longer estranged from my own family, I’m looking forward to holiday cheer, once again.

Q: Fanny, could you share with us your favorite holiday meal?

Fanny: Oh, Christmas dinner will be a feast this year, one of the high points of the day. We’ll start off with a clear turtle soup. Then there will be roasted goose, and a standing rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding, a boar's head, turkey, ham, oysters, dressing, potatoes, cranberry pie, mince pie, Christmas cake and plum pudding.

Q: And what about you Raphael, what’s your favorite holiday dessert?

Rafael: Definitely Christmas cake––with butter cream frosting!

Q: And now a top secret question: what gift are you planning to give to Fanny, Raphael (I promise I won’t let her know :)

Rafael grins: A pair of tear drop emerald ear bobs, and since Fanny loves adventure stories, a copy of She: A History of Adventure by Henry Rider Haggard and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Q: Fanny, what’s the best gift you ever got for Christmas as a child?

Fanny: Father was an inventor, so he was always making me some sort of amusing new toy, many of them wind-up automatons. I remember there was a mechanical lion I enjoyed immensely. See YouTube of roaring, jumping lion: http://youtu.be/eFmrBf0N_1U

Q: And now this question is for both of you: What would you wish for the New Year to bring to both you two?

Fanny looks at Rafe, and he reaches for her hand. 
Fanny: I believe we would both love to be blessed with the news of an expectant brother or sister for Harry. And we’ll certainly have our hands full. Rafe has his Scotland Yard duties, as well as the family business and of course Harry. And when the time comes, more children, we hope.

Rafael: I think we would both like nothing more than a house full of children and laughter, very much like our own childhood.

Thank you both for being here today! It was such a pleasure!

Rafael: Thank you for having us, and a pleasant holiday to you and your readers.


The fates had been perversely mischievous of late—case in point, Raphael Lewis. . .

When Fanny Greyville-Nugent’s father suffers a gruesome death in the clutches of his own machine, mourning his loss is not the beautiful heiress’s only heartbreak. Scotland Yard is convinced he was targeted in a plot to halt the rise of industry, and Fanny’s former fiancé, dashing and dubious detective Raphael “Rafe” Lewis, has been assigned to the case.

For the estranged ex-lovers, bringing the notorious assassins to justice proves as tumultuous as quelling pent-up desires. Fighting peril and passion at every turn of a dangerous journey from Edinburgh to London, they are pursued by an anarchist group hell-bent on destroying her father’s mysterious entry into the London Industrial Exposition.

When an astonishing discovery about the couple’s failed engagement surfaces, the sleuthing duo realize they can trust no one. Rafe confesses new details about his infidelity and Fanny risks all to avenge her father’s murder. But will Rafe and Fanny triumph over the pain of their past?


Jillian Stone is author of the gaslight romantic suspense series, The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard and the steamy steampunk series Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator. She is currently working on several contemporary erotic romance novels, as well as a Gentlemen of Scotland Yard spin-off series, first title: CODENAME: DRAGON, which will release in Fall, 2014.




GIVEAWAY RULES:

Jillian is generously offering a print or digital copy (winner's choice) of  A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis to a lucky commenter.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is fill the Rafflecopter form below:

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Giveaway is open to all and ends 4 January 2014!

Good Luck!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Interview with Sydney Somers + Giveaway


I have another favourite book and author to tell you about today: Busted by Sydney Somers, the 3rd book in the Promise Harbor Wedding series, which was one of my favourite reads of 2013 so I was more than happy to ask its author Sydney Somers a few festive questions ;-) So come and join us and you could win a copy of Busted!

Stella: Is there anything special you usually do for the holidays?

Sydney: Aside from trying to hold on to my sanity? We have five kids (ages 11 to 4) and since things can get a little hectic, we try to keep things simple and stay close to home. We’re lucky that our families are close enough that we don’t have to try and pack the Herd up for travelling.

Stella: Do you have any favourite holiday themed stories (movies or books)?

Sydney: I’ve always loved watching White Christmas as far as older movies go. I think I saw it so many times growing up that I could still sing along for all the musical numbers. I also make sure to watch Love Actually and Christmas Vacation at this time of year. It’s not really Christmas time until you watch Chevy Chase handle the holiday chaos.

Stella: Could you share with us your favourite holiday meal/dessert/candy?

Sydney: Anything cheesecake :-)

Stella: What’s your favourite thing about the holidays?

Sydney: Hands down it’s being with family. But watching the expression on my children’s faces on Christmas morning comes in at a close second.

Stella: What’s one of the best gifts you ever received/gave for Christmas?

Sydney: I can’t really think of any best gifts, but one of the more memorable ones was a dancing flower. If music was playing, the flower would dance. I had been snooping in my parents closet before Christmas on year (I was 9 I think) and seen it, but wasn’t prepared for how disappointing I’d find opening a present I already knew I was getting. I never snooped for presents after that.

Stella: What makes you feel that Christmas time is finally here?

Sydney: Snow and Christmas lights. It seemed like when I was a kid there was always at least a couple feet of snow on the ground every Christmas but in recent years it’s always more of a green Christmas. All the lights people put up always look better with snow.

Stella: Christmas/the holidays wouldn't be the real deal without...


Sydney: Santa hats. I was tempted to say chocolate, but really, it’s not Christmas if the kids (and Master Chef, too) aren’t running around the house with Santa hats on.

Stella: What would be your (bookish or not) New Year’s resolutions?

Sydney: To remember that life is so much more than how many things you have or think you want. It’s about laughing, and being happy and spending as much time with the people who matter to you, even when it seems you’re too busy. Sometimes that simple truth can get lost in the day-to-day craziness.

Stella: Let’s say you have the chance to spend the holidays with a fictional character, who would that be and what would you be doing?

Sydney: I’ve always wanted to ask Mark Darcy (Bridget Jones series) what possessed him to wear those ugly Christmas sweaters ;-) But if anyone can pull them off...

Stella: What are those things or details that set you in a festive mood?

Sydney: Christmas music—as long as I don’t hear it too soon before the holidays. That last week before Christmas is the sweet spot :-)

Happy Holidays everyone and thanks for having me!

Busted by Sydney Somers

Book #3 in the Promise Harbor Wedding series

His game... her rules.

Hockey star Jackson Knight has a hundred reasons not to return to Promise Harbor, but none of them are good enough to get him out of attending his best friend’s wedding. Even with a career-ending knee injury, every puck-bunny in town will be gunning for him.

Worse, getting a pair of cuffs slapped on him at the bachelor party could ruin any chance of getting back in the game, even as a coach. Unless he can convince the arresting officer to smooth things over—by going to the wedding as his date.

Hayley Stone figures posing as Jackson’s girlfriend is the least she can do to salvage his reputation. Plus, having a man with a toe-curling smile on her arm will keep her ex off her back.

What starts as a simple plan to deflect small-town pot-shots unexpectedly becomes a sizzling night that hits Jackson like a full-body-check to the heart. Now he’s determined to prove that she’s the best of reason of all to come home—for good.

Warning: Contains a fiery powerplay both on and off the ice, skin-tingling forced intimacy, interfering grandparents, bear costume hijinks, a haunted house and the kind of game-changing chemistry worth fighting for.


Buy at Amazon - Samhain

A born and raised Maritimer, Sydney Somers fell in love with writing when she finished her first story, Jenny and the Glowing Green Mittens. After attempting her first book in high school, she set writing aside to focus on school. While getting her degrees in psychology and education, Sydney tried her hand at journalism between part time jobs before finally returning to her love of writing.

Twenty-five novels and novellas later, Sydney is thrilled to spend her days slaying demons, running with shape-shifter packs and making the people in her head fall wildly in love. When she’s not writing or curled up with a good book, Sydney can be found chasing after her herd of kids, talking her way into a gourmet meal, exterminating rogue dust bunnies or joking about the pending zombie apocalypse. She loves hearing from readers and invites them to contact her anytime at:



GIVEAWAY RULES:

Sydney has generously offered an ebook copy of Busted to a lucky commenter!


To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
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Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 10 January 2014!

Good luck!

Books Coming This Week (30-5)

Hello my fellow book addicts to this year's last releases post! How this year has passed is beyond me... So many changes in my life in almost every department and so many exciting things happening that I just lost track. Today we will highlight some of the last releases for 2013 and some of the first for 2014! And I'd better begin because we have a lot going on :)


Return to Poughkeepsie (Poughkeepsie, #2) by Debra Anastasia
A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine
A Study in Ashes (The Baskerville Affair, #3) by Emma Jane Holloway
Big Sky Secrets (Parable, Montana, #6) by Linda Lael Miller
Born in Blood (The Sentinels, #1) by Alexandra Ivy
Dark Heat by Donna Grant
Deadshifted (Edie Spence, #4) by Cassie Alexander
Fighting for Irish (Fighting for Love, #3) by Gina L. Maxwell
Fighting Love (Love to the Extreme, #2) by Abby Niles
Heart of Stone by Christine Warren


How To Run With A Naked Werewolf (Naked Werewolf, #3) by Molly Harper
If Wishes Were Earls (Rhymes With Love, #3) by Elizabeth Boyle
Love Your Entity (Entity, #3) by Cat Devon
Obsessed by Him by Red Garnier
Prodigal Son: The Best Laid Plans by Susan Mallery
Shatter (Phoenix Rising, #4) by Joan Swan
Somebody to Love (Cupid, Texas, #3) by Lori Wilde
Sweetest Mistake (Sweet, Texas #2) by Candis Terry
Taste of Darkness (Healer, #3) by Maria V. Snyder
The Book of Love (The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers, #2) by Lynn Weingarten


The Greatest Lover Ever (The Westruthers, #2) by Christina Brooke
The Grendel Affair (SPI Files, #1) by Lisa Shearin
The Offering (The Pledge, #3) by Kimberly Derting
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
The Scandal in Kissing an Heir (At the Kingsborough Ball, #2) by Sophie Barnes
The Sharpest Blade (Shadow Reader, #3) by Sandy Williams


The Sinners Club (The Sinners Club, #1) by Kate Pearce
Three Broken Promises (Drew + Fable, #3) by Monica Murphy
Warrior (The Dragon King Chronicles, #2) by Ellen Oh
Phoenix Burning by Patti O'Shea
Witch Finder (Witch Finder, #1) by Ruth Warburton
Raw by Belle Aurora

Quite a list this week right! And naturally there are a couple I can't wait to get my hands on, the first one of them being Fighting for Irish by Gina L. Maxwell! I just love this author to pieces! The Sharpest Blade by Sandy Williams is also on my wishlist, as soon as I read the previous book in the series, while Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder is bound to be as awesome as the previous two books in the Healer series!

What about you? Which books from this impressive list have you already pre-ordered or you think of buying soon?

Just let me know in your comments :)

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Guest post by Amanda Usen + Giveaway


You all know how much I love cooking and baking, so it's no wonder I'm a huge fan of foodie (or culinary) romances. That's how I "met" Amanda Usen, who is not only a romance author of several delicious culinary romances like Luscious and Into the Fire (which was one of my favourite reads of 2013!), but also a real pastry chef!! So of course we discuss recipes and Amanda being the kind and nice person that she is, is always available to give advice or suggestions. :-) Please give her the warmest welcome, she even brought us a recipe illustrated with her own photos! ;-)

Coffee Cake of Christmas Past
by Amanda Usen

Present and Future! I know Christmas has come and gone, but I promised to share my Moravian Sugar Cake recipe with Stella! We bond over recipes, which is why I actually made this cake out of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, instead of Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix, like my mama does! I know, I know, I’m supposed to be all cheff-y and stuff. Truly, I am. I bake almost everything from scratch, which has caused some problems in the bakeshops of my past. You know why bakeries sometimes take shortcuts? Because it’s the only way to get the job done. But I digress. Why do I usually use a box mix for my Moravian Sugar Cakes? Family tradition. My mom used Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix. My grandma used Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix. So if you want to make this cake using the mix, follow the instructions on the box, and then pick up around step 4-5 of the recipe below, the dimpling and brown sugar/cinnamon/melted butter blanketing step.

Most of my holiday-constants involve food: numerous batches of Chex mix, fruitcakes out the wazoo, chocolate before breakfast on Christmas Day, and Moravian Sugar Cakes, hot from the oven. Maybe because my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas? It’s true. I’ve been married to a Jewish man for nearly fifteen years, and my parents STILL can’t believe we don’t put up a tree! We did, the first year—but then the cat climbed it. We were living in New Orleans then, footloose and fancy-free after graduating from culinary school. After we moved to Buffalo, NY, near my husband’s people, and had our first child, I think we put up another tree. Our daughter was one, and SHE tried to climb it. That’s when I decided, Hanukkah is a lovely tradition! We went one-on-one with the menorah every year after that. And we put it somewhere unclimbable.

Still, even though we don’t keep a traditional Christmas, I do a few things that keep it alive in my heart. I make Chex mix until I have emptied three boxes of cereal, and I eat most of it myself while watching Love Actually. Every year. I bake fruitcakes for my father, using dried apricots and cranberries, golden raisins, prunes, and crystallized ginger. I wrap them in cheesecloth and baste them with brandy once a week until it’s time to send them. We do stockings, an effort spearheaded by my Jewish husband, who loves Christmas. Shhhh! Mine is filled with hot romances and chocolate. The kids get socks (Seriously, where do socks go? Ours disappear daily) and chocolate. Chocolate before breakfast, for the win! And we have Moravian Sugar Cake with my neighborhood BFF’s family. I bake them in the morning, and we all pile into the van in our pajamas and go over to their house when they are finished opening presents. The husbands make omelets and drink bourbon, the kids run around playing with Christmas stuff, and we all eat way, way, way too much of everything. It’s Christmas!

Here is a recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake, adapted from Richard Sax’s CLASSIC HOME DESSERTS, one of my favorite cookbooks. For those of you wondering what the heck “Moravian” is: it’s Protestant religion, my father’s religion, in fact. There are pockets of Moravians left in various spots around the country such as Winston Salem, NC, and Hope, IN, my father’s birthplace.


MORAVIAN SUGAR CAKE
Makes two 8-inch coffee cakes
Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes

The mashed potatoes are purported to keep this cake moist until the next day. However, I’ve been eating the thing my whole life, and I think it’s best in the first few hours out of the oven. It’s darn addictive and rarely last until the next day in my house. I find myself taking one more little nibble, then another…and another. If yours lasts until the next day, I recommend toasting it, and then putting EVEN MORE butter on it! It has a rather coarse crumb, but the irresistible combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and massive amounts of butter make it so, so fine.

Cake:

2 packages yeast (½ ounce)
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
½ cup lukewarm milk, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cooked leftover mashed potatoes
6 Tablespoons (¾ stick) melted butter, slightly cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Topping:

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup (one stick) butter, melted

1. Stir together the yeast, ¼ cup of the lukewarm milk, and the 1 Tablespoon sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes, until your yeast becomes bubbly. (If it doesn’t bubble, your yeast is dead. Buy new yeast!)

2. Combine yeast mixture, remaining ¼ cup sugar, remaining ¼ cup milk, half of the flour (1 ½ cups), mashed potatoes, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer and a dough hook until dough comes together. It will be VERY loose. Mix 2 minutes longer on medium-low speed. Add remaining 1 ½ cups flour. Mix 5 more minutes on medium-low speed. The dough will become smooth, but will be quite sticky.

3. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, turn to coat with butter, and cover. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Butter your baking pans. Divide the dough into two pieces. Lay it in the pans and encourage it to cover the bottoms. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping.


5. Melt the butter for the topping. Then dimple the dough with your fingers to create deep pockets. Spread the brown sugar and cinnamon topping over the top of each cake, then drizzle the melted butter over the topping. As it bakes, the butter and sugar will sink into the pockets, creating deliciousness!


6. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until it begins to get brown around any tiny edge that might not be covered by the topping. I tend to overbake them, and then complain about it, so watch them carefully. If your pans are shallow, place something beneath them to catch the drips. These cakes love to rise, and the topping might need somewhere to go.


7. Cool briefly and serve warm. Mmmm…Christmas!

It’s always a delight to visit Ex Libris, so thanks so much for having me! I hope ALL of your holidays were lovely and that your New Year is filled with joy!


Book #1 in the Hot Nights series

Jackson Calabrese has a lot of nerve. He beat Lila Grant in the Culinary Academy competition using her recipes. Now, he’s opening a restaurant and wants her help? Fine, she'll fix his menu, but it's going to cost him.

Heir to the Calabrese restaurant empire, Jackson can buy anything he wants, except creativity, so he buys Lila's instead. He can craft perfect paella, but to take New York by storm he needs her innovative spark.

Skillets aren't the only things hot in the kitchen, and an uneasy truce ignites into passion. They’re great in bed, but Jackson doesn't trust her, and Lila is contemplating revenge. The restaurant opening approaches, the menu is completed, and the tables are set for one final act of betrayal. How can love bloom in the midst of such a hot mess?

Buy at Amazon - B&N - Kobo - iTunes

Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast, and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise, and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own hot chef husband.

Find Amanda and her books on her website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Amanda has generously offered a Kindle or Nook copy of Into the Fire to a lucky commenter!



To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
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Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 10 January 2014!

Good luck!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Interview with Katie Porter + Giveaway


Katie Porter, aka Carrie Lofty and Lorelie Brown, need no further introduction from me. If you're into the erotica genre then you're bound to have read one of their series at some point. After all they're wickedly hard to resist! Today, we're featuring Lead and Follow, the first book in the Club Devant series, one of the best erotica titles I have ever read. The incredibly sexy writing style and the memorable characters kind of made it hard for me not to love this story!

Hello Katie and welcome to Let It Snow Books!

Q: What makes you feel that Christmas time is finally here?

Katie: Putting up lights and the Christmas tree, absolutely. There was a time when it used to be seeing the Christmas displays in stores, but that’s crept to so early in the year, it’s crazy!

Q: Is there anything special you usually do for the holidays?

Katie: I always drive around with my children looking for the best Christmas displays. I’ve moved this year, and I’m told there’s a “Christmas Lane” nearby. I can’t wait to find it!

Q: You’re holiday shopping, name a few things you’ll buy this year.

Katie: As of the time I’m doing this interview (December 9th), I have bought my LAST Christmas present just this morning. It was a Kindle. I’ve also bought a Nook, a 3DS and a juijitsu sparring outfit.

Q: Do you have any favorite holiday themed stories (movies or books)?

Katie: I (Lorelie) watch Love, Actually at least once per holiday season. Plus I really love A Muppet Christmas Carol. Carrie watches a whole stack of holiday movies every Christmas: Scrooge, Scrooged, White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and several others!

Q: What’s one of the best gifts you ever received for Christmas?

Katie: Well, I do really love my iPad… That feels kind of crass to say. Hmm. But it’s true, I love it.

Q: Let It Snow Books is all about the best books we read in 2013. Could you share with us some of your favorite titles this year?

Katie: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh completely stands out. Sahara and Kaleb were two really right for each other characters. Sahara was the only one who could balance out Kaleb’s dark, and that much angst totally makes me swoon.

I also had a really great time with Victoria Dahl’s Too Hot To Handle. The heroine is adorable and geeky and absolutely sweet and completely relatable.

My favorite new book for my youngest son’s story time is Unicorn Thinks He’s Really Great by Bob Shea. It is SO cute.


Q: What would be your (bookish or not) New Year’s resolutions?


Katie: I don’t really do resolutions much. I just try to launch into the New Year with a fresh slate and good intentions. I want to work smarter this year, since harder isn’t really possible. I’ve been working on being more active for the past couple months, so I’m going to keep that up. But otherwise…I’ve had a lot of change in the past year. It’d be nice to have some solidity. Some calm.

Q: We all love Christmas holidays, but I was wondering if there’s anything about them that you find annoying?

Katie: Cleaning up the wrapping paper trash? And even that’s a seriously minor annoyance. Honestly, I’m one of those starry eyed people who think absolutely every bit of it is great.

Q: Let’s say you have the chance to spend the holidays with a fictional character, who would that be and what would you be doing?

Katie: I pick Rob from Cara Mckenna’s Unbound because he’s manly and handy and he’d shovel my driveway and very long sidewalk (don’t buy a house on a corner in a snowy place).

Q: What would you ask Santa to bring you this year?

Katie: I want an electric blanket!! A king size one. (Spoiler: I got it. *g*)

Thank you for being here with us today and Happy Holidays!



The best partners share everything...

Lizzie Maynes's torn ACL threatens more than her career as an international Latin ballroom champion. During her lengthy recovery, her longtime professional partner, Dima Turgenev, has been dancing at the Chelsea District's most notorious burlesque, Club Devant. More than just dancing, he’s been experimenting with shocking new moves that make her want to pull him off stage and get back on tour as soon as possible--the better to keep their successful friendship safe.

Dima knows all about safety, and the lack thereof, because he blames himself for Lizzie’s injury. Far from the pressures of competition, Club Devant is the perfect creative venue to rebuild his rattled confidence. He’d love for Lizzie to join him and revel in the club's intoxicating freedoms. By exploring the new sensual energy simmering between them, they could become more than friends.

Paul Reeves, a recently divorced Texan starting over in the Big Apple, is all for joining the dancers as they blaze through sexual boundaries. But he also knows their sizzling trio won’t last. Lizzie and Dima belong together. Before the last sparks fade, he plans to transform two stubborn friends into lasting lovers--one raunchy lesson at a time.

Warning: Burlesque meets ballroom in this f***ing sexy book when a smoldering Russian dance god and a blonde firecracker with hips possessed by the devil share a sunny, filthy-minded Texan--for just a dance or two.

Buy it at: Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Goodreads

Katie Porter is the award-winning writing team of longtime friends Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty . Both are multi-published in several romance genres. Carrie holds an MA in history, loves movies, and has no fear of gross things like dissecting formaldehyde sharks. Her two daughters aren't appreciative. Lorelie is a US Army veteran and true-crime devotee, whose three boys love when she screams like a little girl around spiders. Now, after years of wishing and planning, they finally share an office in the Chicago area.

Visit Katie at: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Katie is generously offering a digital copy of Lead and Follow to one lucky commenter!


All you have to do to enter is fill the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to everyone and ends 10 January 2014!

Good Luck!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Guest post by Nadia Lee + Giveaway


Hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas! To continue with our festive celebrations I am happy to welcome to the blog the lovely Nadia Lee, who will tell us all about how they celebrate Christmas and the holidays in Japan! :-) So please take a seat, read on and you could even win a great novel! ;-)

Holiday 2013 at Casa Nadia
by Nadia Lee

Holidays are big deal everywhere, and where we live is no different. :) But we live in Japan, so we don't get to celebrate holidays the way our friends and family in America do. Instead this is what we did and plan to do this holiday season.

For Thanksgiving this year (Nov 28), I made a big pot of nabemono. It's a hotpot dish that's great for winter because it's warm and delicious. My son, who is two years old, eats veggies and tofu cooked in nabemono, so it's a great way to get him to eat nutritious food. (Yes, I'm a super sneaky mom!) You can see the chanko nabe I made for Thanksgiving. (The Chinese cabbage in the pot reduces in size as it gets cooked, so our pot wasn't so overflowing by the time it was done.)

Then some time around mid-December, we went to the illuminations along the big main road in our city. The city does this every year to celebrate the year’s end, and it's really beautiful. You can see my son in the picture, looking at a maple leaf-shaped display. We had a great time and enjoyed the lovely views despite the cold. :)

For Christmas (for those of you wondering, this post was written around December 19, so Stella can set things up before Christmas so she can enjoy her holidays with her family and loved ones :) ), we plan to give our son one or two new SIKU cars. He has a bright red one, and it’s currently his favorite toy.

My husband is considering getting a massage for both of us on Christmas, which would be quite lovely. (Unlike America, Christmas is a regular work day in Japan. Only the Emperor's Birthday, which is December 23, is a national holiday.) And for dinner, I'm probably going to make roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and salad and cake. It's customary to have cake on Christmas around here. It’s called Christmas cake and is quite good.

Then starting December 26, I'll be doing a blog tour to promote my relaunched contemporary romance novel Vengeful in Love and its sequels. Vengeful in Love was originally entitled Carnal Secrets, but I decided to change it and release sequels to the story. :)

I hope all of you had awesome holidays, and I hope your 2014 rocks.

Bilingual former management consultant Nadia Lee has lived in four different countries and enjoyed many adventures and excellent food around the globe. In the last eight years, she has kissed stingrays, been bitten by a shark, ridden an elephant and petted tigers.

She shares an apartment overlooking a river and palm trees in Japan with her husband, baby boy, winter white hamsters and an ever-widening pile of books. When she's not writing, she can be found digging through old Asian historical texts or planning another trip.

Connect with Nadia at:



Vengeful in Love by Nadia Lee

REVENGE IS SWEET...

Self-made billionaire Alex Damon wants his pound of flesh from the people who ripped his family apart. When he discovers his enemies' daughter is working at his company -- and most likely spying for them -- he decides to start his revenge by seducing her. Natalie Hall is stunned at the personal interest from the CEO of her company. Vulnerable, with an already bruised heart, she wants to avoid any involvement -- but she can't deny the desire he arouses in her.

...BUT LOVE IN SWEETER...

What should've been a straightforward eye-for-an-eye starts to unravel as Natalie's unflinching loyalty and kindness begin to thaw Alex's cold intent. But caring for her is unthinkable...since he plans to use everything in his power to ruin her family and everyone else she holds dear.

Previously published as Carnal Secrets.


Buy at Amazon - other stores

GIVEAWAY RULES:

Nadia has generously offered a copy of one of her backlist books to a lucky commenter!

 

To be entered just fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 10 January 2014!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Let It Snow Books: Review of Love Irresistibly by Julie James + Giveaway


Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Holidays!!! On this special day I'm very excited to feature a very special book written by one of my all time favorite authors, Julie James. Her FBI/US Attorney series is my guilty pleasure and each time I pick one of those books in this series I'm sure that I will enjoy myself no matter what! Today, we will feature Love Irresistibly, the latest book in the series and one of the best romances I read this year!
Love Irresistibly
by Julie James

HE’S USED TO GETTING WHAT HE WANTS…

A former football star and one of Chicago’s top prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cade Morgan will do anything to nail a corrupt state senator, which means he needs Brooke Parker’s help. As general counsel for a restaurant company, she can get a bug to the senator’s table at one of her five-star restaurants so the FBI can eavesdrop on him. All Cade has to do is convince Brooke to cooperate—and he’s not afraid to use a little charm, or the power of his office, to do just that.

AND WHAT HE WANTS IS HER.

A savvy businesswoman, Brooke knows she needs to play ball with the U.S. Attorney’s office—even if it means working with Cade. No doubt there’s a sizzling attraction beneath all their sarcastic quips, but Brooke is determined to keep things casual. Cade agrees—until a surprising turn of events throws his life into turmoil, and he realizes that he wants more than just a good time from the one woman with whom he could fall terrifyingly, irresistibly in love . . .

My Thoughts: Julie James is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors and for a very good reason! Have you ever read one of her stories? If not, just do so immediately! You’re in for a very big treat! So, it’s only logical that Love Irresistibly was one of my most anticipated releases for this year and let me tell you, once more, Julie James managed to make me fall in love with yet another couple of hers!

I don’t know what exactly it is that makes this author’s stories stand apart from any other similar romantic stories out there. Surely, they are exceptionally well written. And the characters are always well-developed and with a solid background. So, those are two very good reasons that make the FBI/US Attorney series stand out. But in addition, Julie James gives to her stories an amazing humorous tone. Her secondary characters are always interesting and fascinating so much that I find myself wanting to read their story sometime. So, to put it simply, Julie James is one of the best romantic authors out there. And for many reasons.

Love Irresistibly is the story of Cade Morgan (we all know him from previous books!) and Brooke Parker a lawyer and general counsel of Sterling Restaurants. Both of them have issues of their own, issues that make them feel reluctant towards a real relationship despite the sizzling hot chemistry between them. Cade has some issues with an absent father while Brooke is focused more than she should on her career. Despite all that, they start a casual fling and before they even realise it, things between them get complicated. Because both of them are afraid to move to the next step even if they want it.
Love Irresistibly is a little bit different from the previous books in the series, because in this novel, the action is minimum. Considering how the previous books had some action in them or some bad guy to catch, I was a little bit afraid that I might not like this one so much. I was so wrong and I couldn’t be more happy about it! Love Irresistibly is one of my favorite books in the series, because it made laugh, cry and fall in love with both Cade and Brooke.

Both main characters are incredibly well written and realistic. The reader can totally understand their actions and what motivates them, their feelings and their fears. They’re not perfect, but they’re real. For a change, in this novel we actually get to know a lot better the guy rather than the heroine and that’s another one of my favorite parts of this novel. Not that Brooke isn’t an interesting character or we don’t get to know her, but Cade has the juiciest past. And I loved seeing him get over his fear of rejection and become a better man (not that he wasn’t perfect as he was, but anyway, until the end of the story he managed to become even more perfect!).
Another favorite part of the book are the secondary characters and the dialogues. I mean I absolutely loved Ford (Brooke’s best friend) and Zach (Cade’s brother) and Ian (Brooke’s boss). And Huxley and Vaughn (Cade’s partners) and I don’t know am I missing any of the important secondary characters here? You get the picture! Every single character of this book was just plainly amazing and some of the dialogues between Brooke and Ford or Cade and Zach were just precious and made me laugh my ass off! I even enjoyed those dialogues more than I actually enjoyed Cade and Brooke’s sarcastic banter and we’re talking about some great dialogues there too!

Anyway, Love Irresistibly is one of my favorite novels for this year and for many reasons. Written in a sweet and realistic way, with characters that are perfect in their own messed up way, Julie James delivers yet another successful novel in her FBI/US Attorney series.


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie James practised law with one of the nation's largest firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practise of law to write full-time. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages and Julie’s upcoming novel, LOVE IRRESISTIBLY, will be available on April 2nd.

Julie James lives with her husband and two children in Chicago, where she is working on her next novel.

Visit Julie at: Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads 


GIVEAWAY RULES:
Julie is generously offering a copy of Love Irresistibly to one lucky commenter.

All you have to do to enter is fill the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to all and ends 4 January 2014!

Good Luck!

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