Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Deviations by Chris Owen and Jodi Payne



Submission #1
Summary:
Tobias is a skilled Dom, able to bring even the most hesitant submissive around. Noah is a man in need of just that. He wants to sub badly, but has yet to find someone he believes can take him where he needs to go. Through a series of encounters in the world of bondage and discipline, Noah reveals why he has trouble trusting, why he needs such a firm, steady hand. Tobias may allow himself to dominate, but he has trouble letting himself love. Still, Tobias can't resist Noah's charms, and the two of them set about making a scene for themselves, one that works for them and their unique set of problems. They learn to love, but can they stay together while they explore each others' secrets, in a world where all is laid bare and emotions run high?

From authors Chris Owen, writer of the popular "Bareback", and Jodi Payne, writer of "String of Pearls" comes a romance on the deviant side, where love is all tied up with the need to submit, the need to dominate, and the need to share a life of exploration and care.

These two skilled authors create a world that's hard to resist, and a book that's even                                                                                 harder to put down.


Domination #2
Summary:
In this sequel to Deviations: Submission, Dom Tobias and Sub Noah are back, learning more about each other and their relationship, testing the boundaries of what they can and cannot handle, both together and apart. Tobias works at becoming more comfortable and finding his balance as a full-time Master again. Meanwhile, his work brings out the true submissive in Noah, who faces some of his greatest fears, and his greatest secrets, confessing to Tobias about a terrible time in his past. He's not the only one who has a rough time. Tobias breaks down and shows Noah he's not all dominance, too, which sends shockwaves through their romance, leaving them to wonder if they can keep it together.


Ratchet #2.5
Summary:
Taking place in the midst of the Deviations series, Ratchet shows Tobias and Noah at their best: playing games, having fun, and loving each other. What is a Dom to do with a sub who actually works with such handy tools as handcuffs? While the answer may seem predictable, Tobias and Noah know how to make any such scene their very own, and Tobias finds that police training is an instinct almost as strong as Noah's need to submit.

Originally published in Toy Box: Handcuffs


Discipline #3
Summary:
Tobias and Noah explore their relationships more deeply than they ever have, not just with their own dominance and submission, but with their friends. As Noah helps Tobias through the loss of someone dear, he finds Tobias helping him, too, leading him through some intense sexual games, breaking down the last of Noah's fears, and helping him face his biggest one. The cage. Meanwhile, Tobias' ex-lover, Phantom, becomes close friends with Noah as they discover and try to resist the simmering sexual tension between them. Their teasing turns to real support when Phantom reaches the breaking point thanks to the lack of a master in his life, something he desperately needs. While Bradford works to become that master, Tobias and Noah go to Paris, where they see the sights, go to sex clubs, and re-negotiate their contract. Returning from Paris to their own lives brings then all sorts of new difficulties, from deciding whether they should love together to trying to figure out just where Phantom belongs in their ever-changing relationship.


Bondage #4
Summary:
Noah and Tobias come back from Paris with a renewed contract and a deeper personal bond. Too bad things don't go as smoothly at home. When they get back, they face a crisis that might just threaten their contract, and their personal intimacy. The crisis has a ripple effect, but Tobias and Noah finally learn that they can evolve with it, instead of collapsing. They experiment with scene after scene, making them longer, deeper, which allows them to explore more than they've ever dared. They even explore moving in together. When Noah is forced to face the danger of his job, he starts to question why he became a cop. Tobias is also questioning his job. Soon enough, their external life is changing enough that they're forced to lean on each other to sustain them. Can they achieve a comfortable balance between their outside life, their scenes, and their love?




Safe Words #5
Summary:
In Safe Words, which picks up where the Deviations series left off, Tobias, Noah and Phan are all working on finding their place, both at Bradford's club and in their personal lives. They're all living together, and Tobias has taken on the roll of full-time Dom, which he loves, but finds incredibly challenging.While Noah finds comfort in the new state of things and is looking forward to deeper submission, Phan is finding it harder to strike a balance. Too many changes happening too fast are making Phan act out, and neither Tobias nor Noah are sure how to deal with it. Life is not perfect for Bradford, either, as he discovers new feelings for his sub Nikki. Can Tobias help his friend, manage his job teaching the other Doms, and his relationships with Noah and Phan, or will the house that he's built for himself fall down around their ears?




Submission
There were many truths in this life, Tobias decided as he knotted his tie for the evening. Death comes to all, taxes must be paid, and fortieth birthdays were a reason for one's friends to buy nice wine, make lavish cakes, and throw dinner parties. Forty-first birthdays, on the other hand, went unremarked upon by all but one's nearest and dearest. As he had cards from a few friends and a message from Phan, he thought he'd just about exhausted the expected well wishes.

But turning forty-one did not mean he was dead or unable to make his own fun. He'd made his arrangements for the evening, planning with as much detail as he could—which, admittedly, wasn't much. He knew what to wear for his mood; he knew where he'd go and what he'd eat; he knew what he wanted. But there were an amazing number of variables at play, more than he usually allowed.

He was thinking about that as he straightened his dinner jacket and pocketed his keys. It was a highly planned evening of spontaneity that lay ahead of him, the novelty of which made him smile. Perhaps letting the fates blow once in a while was a good thing. In any case, he'd find out shortly; the worst he could do was have an evening of fine dining and a bottle of wine. The best would be far, far better, but it was rare to find exactly what he sought.

Tobias ran a comb through his hair one last time as he waited for his car, the light in the entry to his condo making the few stray silver hairs shine among the darker brown. Forty-one wasn't too old, he decided. It was a fine age to be, the height of his success and skill. He lacked for nothing, really.

Only someone to share his birthday with.

The phone rang and he pushed the thought away, startled to realize it wasn't the house phone signaling his car, but his landline. ''Dr. Vincent,'' he said as he answered. God, he hoped it wasn't an emergency—he really wasn't dressed to have a lamb be born, or to nurse a horse through colic.

''Good evening, Doctor, I'm sorry to call like this. I'm sure you have plans,'' came the smooth and cheerful voice of his elderly housekeeper.

''Oh, Mrs. Miller, hello. I do, yes—I'm just on my way out, but I have a few minutes.'' He smiled to himself ruefully; he would talk for as long as the lady decided, and he knew it. No matter how successful he got or how many birthdays he had, there would always be Mrs. Miller to defer to.

''I'm merely calling to wish you a happy birthday,'' she said, ''and to ask if you'll be out to the farm this weekend.''

Tobias’ smile grew. ''Thank you, Mrs. Miller, that's really very kind of you. And yes, I'm planning to drive out tomorrow afternoon until Monday.''

''Should I tell Peter not to come then, or would you like him to exercise the horses?''

''No, I'll do it,'' he decided. It was one of the best things about going to the country, and he wouldn't happily pay someone to do it for him when he was there. The house phone buzzed at him, two shorts. ''Thank you again, Mrs. Miller.''

''I'll see you tomorrow, Doctor,'' she said, and he could picture her grinning. ''Enjoy your evening.''

''I hope to,'' he said with a smile. He hung up, buzzed the front desk, and headed to his club.

***

The car pulled up in front of the building and Tobias lowered his window for the security guard. ''Good evening, Tobias,'' the man said with a smile that was entirely professional, despite his use of Tobias' first name. It was a club rule that all members were to be treated equally until there was an agreement in place between individuals, and as last names were not used at all in order to preserve anonymity, given names were expected.

''Timothy,'' Tobias said with a warm smile. ''When did you start out here?'' The last time Tobias had been to the club Timothy had been inside.

''About five months ago. I like it, though I'm called back inside if needed.'' Timothy made a note of the number on Tobias' membership card and smiled at him again. ''Have a nice evening, Tobias. And welcome back.''

The car moved slowly ahead and stopped at the wide front steps; by the time Tobias had opened his door the driver was there, and the front door was opening.

''Tobias! Timothy said you were here.''

Tobias shook his head and smiled again. ''I trust you don't mind me appearing again after all this time?'' he asked Bradford.

Bradford met him on the steps and shook his hand. Tobias' friendship with Bradford went back far too many years to count anymore, and even after Tobias’ long absence from the club, the man’s firm handshake felt as familiar and comforting as a favorite sweater. ''The day we turn you from here, my friend,'' Bradford told him with a warm smile, ''is the day I close the old place up. Now, come in! Eat. Enjoy your birthday. I have a room reserved for you, as you requested. You're not meeting anyone are you?''

The club had a small, exclusive membership made up of carefully screened Dominant and submissive men. These men had been screened not just for their level of training but also style and personality, thereby keeping the membership diverse and varied. It wasn’t a BDSM club in the common sense; it was more a place for men to meet, socialize and fulfill each others’ needs and fantasies in a safe and monitored environment. Bradford had taken over management of the club a number of years ago, and eventually assumed ownership as well when his mentor, a smooth, confident Dom who had also been a mentor of Tobias’, was ready to retire. Bradford was a natural host; he knew his membership well, and he had a knack for making everyone feel right at home.

Tobias shook his head again and allowed himself to be led inside. The solid doors closed behind him and he took a deep breath, immediately relaxing. There was just something about the dark interior, the plush fabrics and deep wingback chairs that called to him. Or perhaps it was the crossed whips decorating the walls.

''I don't have a guest, if that's what you mean,'' he told Bradford as they made their way to the small bar. ''But I'm open to possibilities.''

''I was hoping you would say that.'' Bradford suddenly looked speculative. ''In which case...''

''Wait,'' Tobias said, laughing. ''I'm not saying I want you to find me a date. I'm just saying I want to have a pleasant evening—a nice meal, people I like around me—''

''And it's been eight months since you've been here, Tobias. I know you spend your weekends on the farm and your weeknights in town. I'd certainly have heard if you had someone new.'' He shook his head sadly, making Tobias grin. ''No, my friend, you deserve to play. And I might just have the right someone for you.''

Tobias tilted his head and considered his friend. Bradford had been running the club for a number of years, had been an integral part of Tobias' own training. There was perhaps no one more capable of knowing the type of partner Tobias needed, liked... desired.

''Tell me,'' Tobias invited, accepting a glass of ice water from the bartender.

Bradford beamed at him, delighted. ''I can, and will do you one better. Come.''

Tobias had little choice but to follow as Bradford crossed the room with purpose to a small table. Tobias, being behind, could see little other than a man sitting alone. He rose quickly as Bradford made a direct path to him.

''Tobias,'' Bradford said grandly, ''I would like you to meet Noah. Noah, this is Tobias. It is my opinion that the two of you are well suited. Of course, you may decide otherwise, but I encourage you to at least discuss the matter.'' He then bowed his head and stepped back, wishing them good evening with a knowing grin before turning and walking away, leaving Tobias to face this stranger alone, knowing no more than his name.


Author Bios:
Chris Owen
I live and write in eastern Canada. I went to a bunch of schools, learned a lot of things, and now make stuff up because not to do so is unthinkable. I'm fond of fountain pens, Levenger's Circa system, and Steampunk fashions. Lately I've been watching a lot of Discovery channel. I've seen every episode of CSI Las Vegas and New York, but I'm not terribly keen on CSI Miami. It might be due to weather envy. I have a crush on the whole cast of Criminal Minds, and fondness for wool. The two are not related. Hoarders keeps me honest.

I'm inspired by the day to day minutia of life, and find beauty in the way words go together. I like texture and richness of experience. I'm not shy. I'm happy, I'm learning, I'm living.


Jodi Payne
I live and work in the Northeastern United States with my partner of seven years. We have two cats, one skinny boy kitten and one fat old lady, and a little seventy-five year old Dutch Colonial that we're in love with.

I have been writing for in one form or another since I was very young. In addition to the work that I publish, I write character-driven gay and lesbian fiction as a pastime and for entertainment, and share it with like-minded friends. Whether it's erotica or mainstream gay fiction, I prefer to read about real people with real flaws living real lives.

Several years ago, after tirelessly searching for lesbian erotica that suited my tastes, I finally gave up looking and decided that if I was going to find what I'd been looking for, I was going to have to write it myself. That was how my first lesbian short story, Virtuoso, was born. It was later published by Torquere Press, and my writing career took a turn for the professional.

In addition to my lesbian work, which has a wonderfully loyal and encouraging audience, I have also broadened my repertoire to include work that centers around gay men. I started by co-writing with the talented Chris Owen early in 2002, and then branched out into short stories, and my first gay novel, Founder, was published in July 2007. I don't consider writing men to be betraying my lesbian readers, I'm still publishing plenty of lesbian work. I have always written character-driven stories, and sometimes the characters that come to mind happen to be men. Men are hot, too.

Check out my Upcoming Publications page for more information about my upcoming releases.

I love cats. I row Masters crew. I enjoy a good meal with good friends and lots of garlic. I can't tell a joke to save my life. I am most inspired in the fall and winter, when the days get short and I can bundle up and hibernate with my computer to write. If I had a million dollars I would buy a little cottage on the ocean somewhere that was snowy in the winter and warm in the summer that I could hibernate in.


Chris Owen

Jodi Payne
Twitter  /  Website  /  Blog  /  Newsletter  /  Amazon  /  Goodreads



Submission
Amazon  /  B&N  /  Kobo  /  TorquerePress  /  Goodreads TBR

Domination
Amazon  /  B&N  /  Kobo  /  TorquerePress  /  Goodreads TBR

Ratchet:  Goodreads TBR

Discipline
Amazon  /  B&N  /  Kobo  /  TorquerePress  /  Goodreads TBR

Safe Words
Amazon  /  B&N  /  Kobo  /  TorquerePress  /  Goodreads TBR



Love, Laughter, & Merrily Ever After Collection

Title:  Love, Laughter, and Merrily Ever Afters Collection
Publication date: November 25th 2014
Genres: Romance


Summary:
TEN fun, romantic holiday novellas by ten New York Times & USA Today bestselling authors

An all-star gathering of some of today's most popular NYT and USA Today bestselling romance authors in a fun-filled collection...holiday style! With the overwhelming response to the chart-topping summer boxed set, we've brought together even MORE of your favorite authors for a winter compilation, and this time, we've giftwrapped TEN stories for you all. From the funny & sweet, to the STEAMY & heartfelt, each novella is packed with a whole lot of romance, and hand-picked to infuse perfectly-portioned holiday cheer into your busy days this season...along with hot bursts of holiday steam for those winter nights.

And at just ***99 CENTS USD*** that's a huge savings of over 95% off retail for the individual books sold separately! This is an extremely limited edition bundle available for just 5 weeks so get your copy today!


THE BOXED SET INCLUDES: 
IF I RETURN by Sawyer Bennett
Hope Camden is relentlessly serious, awkwardly shy, and in complete need of a walk on the wilder side. At least, that's what her sister tells her when she drags her off on an impromptu Christmas getaway in the mountains, where Hope meets gorgeous, enigmatic Army helicopter pilot Jack Freeman...who's headed off to war in a week.

SEDUCING SANTA by Janelle Denison (aka Erika Wilde)
All Faith Roberts wants for Christmas is one sexy night with Matthew Carlton, the hot, gorgeous pediatric surgeon posing as Santa for a visit to the children's ward where she volunteers. While Matthew is more than willing to fulfill her naughty wishes, he's determined to show Faith that he's the kind of gift that keeps on giving.

TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS by Jessie Evans (aka J. Evans)
When Lula Jo refused Carter's proposal one dark December night--unwilling to abandon her hometown to live the dangerous life of a treasure hunter's wife--the holiday lights went out in her heart. She vowed to keep her distance from dangerous men and untamed cowboys. But now Carter is back and hoping for a holiday miracle to reunite him with his first and only love.

DECKING DREW by Violet Duke
If anyone can make Drew Lawson believe in the magic of Christmas, of course the universe would pick the addictively sweet, mind-wreckingly beautiful Skylar Sullivan to try. She's only the girl-next-door of his dreams he'd classified as completely off-limits two years ago...the same one now standing on his doorstep on Christmas eve.

FAIRIES & WISHES by Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
Lily the holiday fairy is given a new assignment this Christmas season--teach a lonely doctor how to love again. But all Lily knows how to do is gently coerce people into embracing the Christmas spirit; she doesn't have a clue what love really is. So imagine her surprise when she falls madly in love--and lust--with the good doctor in the process.

WILD IRISH CHRISTMAS by Mari Carr
It's Christmas Eve, and all seven of the Collins siblings have gathered together to give their father Patrick a precious gift. Gather 'round the tree and join the Collins family as they pass a bottle of Jameson, and Patrick shares the story of how he won the heart of Sunday, his true love, his soul mate...and the mother of his seven Wild Irish.

UNWRAPPED by Melody Grace
Lacey James is wild, spontaneous, and up for anything. Daniel Sullivan is careful, sensible, and mending his broken heart. When the unlikely pair get stranded together on the way home for the holidays, Lacey finds her long-term crush impossible to ignore. And as a game of truth or dare spins out of control, Daniel discovers the one girl he truly wants is the last person he expected.

HIS CHRISTMAS WISH by Marquita Valentine
War hero Joaquin Morales is back in Holland Springs for the first time in years. His mission? To convince his wife that they have a future together. But falling in love with her husband for the second time is not a part of Sage Caswell's plans this holiday Season. With the help of a little Christmas magic (and a well-timed snowstorm), can Joaquin and Sage's dreams come true?

HOLIDAY SPIRIT by Cathryn Fox
What's a girl to do when she finds herself held captive in a bedroom--with the man she's been lusting after for months--by a voyeuristic spirit on Christmas Eve? Give it what it wants, of course. If a holiday romp with her sexy co-worker is what it'll take for Elly Watson to solve her latest Paranormal Task Force case, she's up for the challenge...over and over again if need be.

A CHRISTMAS HEAT WAVE by Alannah Lynne
All Samantha Mazze wants for Christmas is to create the perfect Christmas Eve celebration for her friends and family. The house is decorated, the meal has been prepared, the guests are arriving...what could possibly go wrong? Come spend the holidays with your friends from the Heat Wave series, and meet a few new additions.




IF I RETURN
     I’m about to step outside of the proverbial box.
     Pushing away from the elevator wall I had been leaning against, I walk up to Jack, bringing my body close into his. Looking into his face, I see his nostrils flare and unbidden desire leap into his eyes. It's all the encouragement I need before I smooth my hands up over his chest, winding them behind his neck. My fingers graze over the stubble of his short haircut. I'm pleased when his arms wrap around my waist to draw me in closer. I waste no further time before pulling his head down to me, until our lips meet softly.
     Despite the fact my inhibitions are lowered, despite the fact I boldly put myself in Jack's arms, and despite the fact that his eyes were heated as our lips moved toward one another, the kiss is surprisingly sweet. It's nothing more than a gentle meeting of our lips. Our mouths are slightly parted as we move against one another, tilting our heads first to one side, and then another as we explore.
     Even though the kiss is soft and sweet, I still feel a warmth spreading through my body. It causes me to want more... to experience Jack on the next level. Tentatively, my tongue pushes forward into his mouth and at first he stills. I can feel his fingers flex into my lower back, and I push my tongue in just a little farther, taking a swipe at his.
     He answers me with a groan and then he's gripping my head, holding me in place so his tongue can take charge.
     And I let him.
     Letting go, for once in my life, I let Jack have his way with my mouth. He deepens the kiss and I can't help the sigh that escapes me. He eats it up, pleading for more by the insistent way his lips move against mine.
     Even though we seem to both be drowning in the kiss, I find myself wanting to submerge further into him. Desire floods my senses and my body moves without thinking. I push myself closer to him, our bodies connecting. My breasts mash into chest and I can feel his hardness against my stomach. I push closer yet, wanting—no, needing—the contact.
     This kiss... this amazing kiss. It's like nothing I've ever experienced. It's full of passion and fire. I realize that my prior kisses have been lukewarm at best. Energy courses through me at the thought of what else I've been missing. The shy introvert is gone and I can feel my inner sex kitten awakening.
     And I’m ready... ready to let her prowl because the passion that flows between us has firmly shut boring Hope Camden away.

DECKING DREW
     What on earth was she doing here in Vegas?
     And not alone, for that matter.
     While he had managed the herculean task of speaking all civil-like to Skylar, Drew couldn’t stop the predatory growl vibrating out of his chest now that he was within striking range of the guy who’d been making Skylar smile for the past few minutes.
     A hotel worker, by the looks of his uniform, carefully observing Skylar as if he’d just figured out the answer to a final crossword puzzle question.
     “Huh,” commented the Abercrombie & Fitch model shoe-in, still half eating Skylar up with his eyes.  “So this is the guy?”
     Damn right, I’m the guy.  Drew rumbled the silent declaration with a feral possessiveness he felt down to his bone marrow.  If he could have it his way, there’d never be a question mark at the end of that sentence in any context when it came to Skylar.
     But not much had changed in the two years since he’d seen her last.
     And the few things that had changed just made it more imperative for him to keep his distance like he’d sworn he’d do.
     …Something he was going to fail pretty epically at tonight, he wagered, as he skimmed his thumb across the petal-soft skin of her cheek to smooth away a few wayward locks of hair the wind had curtained over her eyes.  
     Though he didn’t have nearly enough platonic female friends to know the official descriptive term for it, Skylar looked both blonder and more brunette than he remembered.  Her hair was down to her waist now in golden honey waves instead of the sandy apricot tresses he saw in his mind whenever he let himself think about her, which was more often than he could control.
     He sifted his fingers through her hair and watched her reaction display in high-def via those incredible, animated eyes of hers—candidly expressive windows to her soul he’d never been able to banish from his mind for very long.
     Always quietly thinking.
     He forgot how much he loved the way he could see a thousand thoughts flashing over her expression at a million miles an hour before she’d eventually land on one, somehow always rooted in kindness, and usually linked to some unique personal insight that would light up her smile.
     Jesus, she was doing it now.  Smiling.  At him.

UNWRAPPED
     “What do you say? Ready to get to know each other a little better?” I reach over and take a sip of his drink, slowly licking the moisture off my lips.
     Daniel blinks once, then lowers himself slowly back on the barstool beside me. “Why not?” he gives me a grin that turns my insides to molten honey. “This should be good.”
     I have to catch my breath. All night, I’ve been at war with myself: trying not to flirt with him or make a fool of myself. But now, I’m suddenly reckless. Unleashed. Now I’ve spied a crack in his cool, collected attitude, I’m not going to let this chance slide by, not without a fight.
     I just want him, more than I can stand.
     “You first,” I announce, slowly crossing my legs.
     Daniel looks down at the fabric riding up over my thighs, then back up at me. “That’s easy, truth.”
     Of course. A guy like him is an open book: nothing to hide. “Hmm,” I muse, wracking my brain. If I’m going to push him, it needs to be something good. “Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever had sex?”
     Daniel raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t flinch. “I don’t know...” he frowns, “Nowhere. I’ve always just done it the regular way, on a bed.”
     I stare in disbelief. “Seriously? Not even in the backseat of a car? The gym locker rooms?  The rooftop of the student lounge?” I prompt.
     Daniel looks bashful. “I guess I’m just boring like that. Why, where’s yours?”
     I think for a moment. “Backstage at a rock show, up against the amps. He lasted like, two seconds flat and I nearly went deaf... and electrocuted,” I shake my head, giving a wry smile at the memory.
     “Sounds painful.” Daniel laughs, and I lose myself in his eyes. The tequila is warm in my bloodstream, mingling with desire and recklessness in one heady cocktail that’s impossible to ignore as I sit here, inches away from Daniel, his tanned forearm resting casually on the bar between us, close enough to touch...
     I snap back to reality. “What?”
     Daniel gives me a patient smile. “I said, why bother nearly killing yourself like that? It doesn’t sound like it was even worth your while.”
     I shrug. “It was an experience.”
     “Jumping off a cliff is an experience,” Daniel points out. “You going to try that too?”
     “No, it’s like...” I try to gather my thoughts, “This is it, my wild adventurous youth. One day, I’m going to be settled down with a kid and a mini-van, and, and, a Costco clubcard. I want to be able to look back and say, I lived. I had adventures. You know?”
     “Nope,” Daniel makes a face. “I’ve been on the same path since school, I never did anything crazy.”
     My heart catches. I force myself to meet his eyes. “It’s never too late to try.”

HIS CHRISTMAS WISH
     He strode to her, cupping her slender shoulders and turning her to face him.  Her lashes fluttered down, skimming her cheekbones. “Sweetheart, I’m not blowing you off.”
     “It doesn’t matter,” she said, still not looking at him.
     “Yes, it does.” Hooking a finger under her chin, he lifted it up. A pink tongue darted out to lick at her top lip and he couldn’t stop himself from doing the same. She gasped, her full lips parting at his touch. Never one to let opportunity slide by, he nipped at her full bottom lip. “Ask me.”
     Her hands came between them, lightly resting on his chest. The heat of her palms searing him. “You’re not playing fair.”
     “This isn’t a game.” He let his hands travel the length of her arms, then back up again to cup her elbows and pull her closer. Full breasts pressed against him, her hands drifting lower to grab the waistband on his jeans. He hadn’t been with a woman in years, his determination to make something of himself and winning her back his only goal. Meaningless one-night stands weren’t part of the plan, which totally explained the hard-on pressing against the zipper of his jeans. “Ask me.”
     What seemed like an eternity passed before she replied, “Kiss me.”
     Sage expected him to go in for the kill, mostly because that’s what she felt like doing, but she restrained herself, locking joints and tightening muscles. However, Joaquin had other things in mind.
      He started at the base of her neck, his tongue and teeth working in tandem to make everything inside of her warm and gooey.
     “I won’t hurt you, not this time,” he whispered against her jaw, pressing butterfly light kisses along it.  He teased the corner of lip. “Open.”
     And as if that was somehow a magical command, she did. In her next heartbeat, his mouth was sealed over hers and he was drinking her in. She couldn’t stop kissing him, touching him, or moaning in his mouth. Four years of longing passed between them. In that moment time fell away, old regrets and new frustrations erasing from her heart with each toe-curling kiss.
     Their tongues touched, then tangled as her body cried more. He was hard against her stomach and she touched him there, sliding her hand under the waistband of his loose jeans and caressing him until she was so damn weak in the knees that she all but thanked God when Joaquin swept her off of her feet.
     Their mouths tasted and explored one another, remembering and showing exactly what the other liked as he carried her to bed. Don’t think, don’t think, she chanted in her head.
     Her back hit the mattress, then the delicious weight of Joaquin pressed against her. Moaning into his mouth, she pushed at his shirt and sat up. “I want this off.”
     He sat back on his calves, then gently removed her glasses and set them on the nightstand.
     “That’s an order, soldier.”
     “Yes ma’am,” he said on a laugh and pulled his shirt over his head, in the sexy way that men do. Tight abs greeted her and she kissed the center of his chest, rubbing her cheek in the crisp black hair.      “Damn, woman.”

WILD IRISH CHRISTMAS
     As the bottle moved from hand to hand, they each offered up words of thanks or wishes for the New Year. When it reached Patrick, he lifted the bottle and proposed a toast he hadn’t used since the last Christmas he’d celebrated with his wife, Sunday.
     “To Conall Brannagh.”
     Ewan took the bottle from his father. “Who?”
     “Conall Brannagh,” Patrick repeated. “If your mother had chosen him over me, none of us would be here tonight.”
     Sean leaned forward, a definite gleam of interest in his eyes. “So you had some competition for Mom, eh? I never knew that.”
     Keira grabbed a bag of pretzels. “I didn’t either. Was Mom in love with him?”
     Teagan looked at Patrick. “I always thought you were her first love.”
     Patrick smiled at his daughter. “I was her last love, Teagan. That’s a much better spot to claim. Besides, I don’t know if it’s fair to say she loved Conall, though he certainly turned the women’s heads. What’s the word you girls use for handsome men? Dreamy?”
     Riley laughed. “Um…yeah, not in this decade. I definitely don’t use the word dreamy to describe Aaron.”
     “Then what would you say?” Pat asked.
     “He’s hot. Totally doable.”
     Killian turned to look at his younger sister and shook his head. “Jesus. How are we related?”
     “Dreamy works for me, Pop,” Teagan said quickly.
     Patrick looked at his kids and silently marveled at how different they were. Somehow, miraculously, their unique qualities meshed perfectly, creating an amazing family.
     Ewan, always the steady one, hadn’t been distracted by the asides. “So Mom thought this Conall was dreamy?”
     “All the girls in Killarney thought Conall was handsome, but he only had eyes for Sunday. Not that I could blame him. Your mother was a beauty, with that long dark hair and those crystal-blue eyes. She caught every man’s attention.”
     “But you didn’t fall in love with her because of her looks, right?” Keira asked.
     “Och, Lord no. While Sunday’s face was pleasing, it was her heart, so kind and compassionate, that I found attractive. That’s what captured me by my hand and—pardon the expression—balls and kept me holding on to her for dear life.”
     “So what was the story with this Conall guy?” Tris asked.
     “Well now, that is a tale.” Patrick leaned back and closed his eyes, letting his mind drift to a different place, a different time.
     “I was working on my family’s sheep farm during the day while tending bar at Scully’s Pub every night. I was a young buck of twenty when Sunday, who was just nineteen, moved to Killarney to live with her aunt. Scully hired her to sing in the pub and from the first moment I laid eyes on her, I was lost…”

FAIRIES & WISHES
     “I’ve never been kissed like that before,” she said, her voice tinged with wonder, quaking fingers still pressed to her mouth.
     Tim frowned. What did she mean by that? Surely she’d been kissed before. At least he hoped.
     Her other hand still clutching at the front of his jacket, she shifted, bringing her body closer to his.      Amazing, he thought, considering the cramped quarters of his sports car. “I want you to kiss me again.”
     He started to protest, but she shushed him with a single finger pressed against his lips. “Please?” She drifted the tip of her index finger across his lower lip in the subtlest of caresses.
     Tim felt that touch as if she’d stroked the tip of his cock.
     His lips met hers and this time he took it slower. Brushing her mouth again and again with his own, until he heard a tiny sound of frustration come from her. Her lips opened beneath his, and he slipped his tongue tentatively between them, her luscious taste filling his head, heating his skin.
     “Mmm,” she murmured, her mouth opening even wider, her shy tongue brushing against his. Her fingers fumbled with the zipper on his leather jacket, and then she lowered it, hands diving inside to press against his chest.
     Tim slid his hands into her hair, cupping her head, drinking from her lips. She tasted sinfully sweet, her tongue twining with his, hands greedily sliding up and down his chest. She seemed to want to get closer to him, her lower body shifting restlessly as she squirmed in her seat. He grabbed the lever at his side and slid his seat back, then cupped her shoulders and hauled her onto his lap, his mouth never leaving hers.
     A coo of delight escaped from her, and she pressed her chest to his, her breasts soft and tempting nestled against him. Her hands moved up to wrap around his neck, clutching at him as if she couldn’t get enough and he could relate. Little moans sounded low her throat as she thrust her pelvis against his, driving him out of his mind with lust.
     “Goodness, you’re a wonderful kisser,” she murmured against his mouth.
     He chuckled, skimmed fingers across her soft cheeks. “Thanks. You’re not so bad yourself.”
     “I don’t want you to stop.” She pressed another lingering kiss to his lips and sighed. “I want you to keep doing it.”
     “Lily, we’re in my car in the driveway in front of my house. I can think of somewhere a lot more comfortable to continue this. Like inside the house, on the couch.” His couch would be a hell of a lot more comfortable than the front seat of his too small car.
     She smiled, her little pink tongue darting out to lick at the corners of his lips. “I don’t care where we are as long as you keep on kissing me.”
     Well hell, he couldn’t resist that. He pressed his open mouth to hers, their tongues sliding lazily against each other’s, hands roaming. If he allowed himself, he soon wouldn’t care where they were either, as long as they were still lip locked.

TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS
     Lula lay on the counter, blinking up at the ceiling, too shocked to care that half the influential women in Lonesome Point had just witnessed Carter’s plea and the kiss that followed.
     The kiss…
     It had only been a fleeting moment, the barest press of his warm skin against her cheek. But their entire love affair had flashed before her eyes, filling her with so many conflicting emotions that she still couldn’t form words, long minutes later. It wasn’t until Mia’s wild red curls popped into sight above Lula’s head that she finally felt life returning to her shell-shocked lips.
     “Tallulah Josephine Watson,” Mia said, her eyes wide in her flushed face. “Who the hell was that?”
     “Don’t curse, Mia.” Lula pushed into a seated position on the counter, and took the glass of orange juice Dr. Kemp pressed into her hand. “Carter is just…an old friend.”
     “Why don’t my old friends look like that?” Dr. Kemp asked, summoning murmurs of agreement and giggles from the rest of the women.
     “Seriously,” Mia agreed, still looking like she couldn’t be more shocked if Lula had given birth to an alien in the middle of the cookie exchange. “That man was gorgeous, Lula. It was so romantic, I almost passed out.” Mia let out a dreamy sigh. “What’s the story with you two? I never knew you had a serious boyfriend, let alone a hunky--”
     “I don’t want to talk about it,” Lula said, voice trembling.
     “Oh, come on,” Mia pressed. “You have to tell us something. Are you going to let him have a second chance? I hope so, because the poor man looked—”
     “I said I don’t want to talk about it, Amelia Louise,” Lula snapped, downing the rest of her juice before forcing a smile for the rest of the group. “I’m so sorry for putting a damper on the festivities, but I’m feeling much better now. I think we should get on with our party. Should we begin with holiday trivia for prizes, or with the balloon antler contest, since we’re already on our feet?”
     After an awkward moment, in which Mia tried to apologize, Lula shushed her repeatedly, and everyone else stared uncomfortably at their shoes, their coffee, or their neighbor, the women divided into teams. Ten minutes later, five of the partygoers had enormous balloon-filled pantyhose antlers on their heads, and everyone was laughing so hard you would think nothing had disrupted the fun.
     But Lula’s laughter was forced, and she couldn’t think of anything but Carter Bryce. He was the one who got away, the only man she’d ever loved. And now he was back, declaring his intentions to fight for a second chance.
     Ten years ago, Lula would have been thrilled. Even eight years ago she had still clung to the hope that Carter might show up on her doorstep one day. But it had been eleven years, during which Lula had erected scaffolding around her heart, and declared the area permanently condemned. She had no idea if she was capable of loving someone again, no matter how intensely something inside her had reacted to Carter’s kiss.
     She had gone without love, lust, or even the comfort of someone’s arms for so long. No, she was a confirmed spinster, and it would be best if she told Carter as much, and they went their separate ways.
     But even as the thought plodded through her head, something light and hopeful danced behind it, blowing kisses at the stars, the way she had one December night, long ago.

SEDUCING SANTA
     For the next half hour, Faith watched the festivities along with April, waiting patiently for the little girl to come out of her shell and join the fun.
     Finally, all the children had their turn with Santa and were busy playing with the toys he’d given them, but there was still one present left.
     Holding a gaily wrapped gift in his hand, Santa looked over the rim of his gold framed glasses, searching the room for the recipient.  “Is April here today?” he asked.
     The little girl stiffened in surprise, and not sure whether or not April would speak up for herself, Faith gently coaxed her to approach Santa for her gift.  “Come on, sweetie, I’ll go with you.”
     With April clasping Faith’s hand tightly, they made their way to Santa.  The young girl didn’t want to sit on his lap, but standing so close to him, she stared up at him in awe as he handed her the last present.  She opened the gift tentatively, and her entire face transformed with gleeful excitement once the box was unwrapped.
     “I got the doll I wanted,” she squealed in excitement.  “Thank you, Santa!”  She rushed off to share her gift with the friends she’d made during her stay in the hospital.
     Feeling warm and fuzzy inside, Faith smiled from April, to Matthew.  “Very well done, Santa.”
     “Thank you,” he murmured in that low, velvet-lined voice of his that sent shivers down her spine.       Before she realized his intent, his gloved fingers wrapped around her wrist and he pulled her onto his lap.
     Suddenly self-conscious with the nurses and kids looking on in avid interest, and very aware of his hard, muscular thighs beneath her bottom and legs, she tried to make light of the situation.  “Don’t you think I’m a bit too big to be sitting on your lap?”
     “Not at all.  You fit just right.”  His eyes sparkled playfully, and the tilt of his mustache hinted at the sexy-as-sin smile hidden beneath.  “So, what about you, Faith?  Have you been naughty or nice this year?”
     He’d placed his gloved hand on her knee, and the heat of his touch seeped through her slacks and spread upward, wreaking havoc with her sexually deprived body.  She inhaled a deep, steady breath, and the warm, male scent of him invaded her senses, increasing the wanting unfurling in the pit of her belly.
     “Oh, I’ve been very nice.”  Too nice and good, but all that was about to change.  And he’d just presented her with the perfect opportunity to act on her intentions, to be the kind of bold, assertive kind of woman she’d always admired from afar, but had never been before.
     “So, what would you like for Christmas?” he asked quite innocently, but there was no mistaking the sexy dare in his gaze.
     Caught up in the sensual awareness thrumming between them, Faith seized the moment and made it hers.  Cupping her hand over his ear so that no one could hear her very private wish, she whispered,      “I want to be naughty, Santa.  Very naughty. With you.”  She gently nipped his lobe to prove how brazen she was willing to be, and heard him suck in a startled breath.  “I want one night of unforgettable, anything-goes sex with you, any way I please, and any way you want.”
     She pulled back, not certain what to expect, but the arousing heat and desire in Matthew’s eyes reassured her that she’d definitely piqued his interest, and his libido, with her shameless request.  And his next words confirmed her hunch.
     “Well now, since you’ve been so good this year, I think your request can be arranged,” he drawled, and followed that up with a hearty, jovial, “Ho, ho, ho!” that had everyone wondering what, exactly, she’d asked for.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT
     Lucas tried the door again, cursing under his breath.  He slid his hand through his hair and shook his head.  “Rule number one is to never get separated from your equipment,” he mumbled, his voice thick with arousal thanks to the crazy situation they’d found themselves in.  “Stupid, stupid, stupid…”
     Elly dropped onto the bed beside her phone.  “Now what?”  Lucas moved past her to try the window again, his tight, squeezable ass – which was now at eye level thank you very much – dragging her focus with him.  His spicy scent curled around her, bombarding her body with primal hunger.  She took a deep breath and pulled his aroma into her lungs.
     “We could break it,” she said.
     In one swift move that took her by surprise, Lucas ripped off his shirt, his gorgeous, athletic body glistening with perspiration.
     Hot damn!
     Elly licked her dry lips, her temperature soaring.  The air around them crackled with sexual tension, demanding all their attention.  Her pussy muscles clenched as moisture pooled in her panties.      He reached for his belt.  “Or we could go with rule number one.  Never damage another person’s property and just find a way to cool our bodies down.”
     And here she’d rather heat them up…
     Excited by the prospect, her mind raced with wild and wicked ideas while visions of nakedness danced in her head.
     With her body beckoning his touch, and never one to let an opportunity pass, Elly stood and crossed the room to stand directly in front of Lucas.  She bumped his groin and could feel his thickening cock.  His body trembled and a low growl crawled out of his throat.
     “What are you doing, Elly?”
     She cocked her head.  “Well, for our own safety, we could always go with rule number two,” she said, her voice breathy, intimate.
     He frowned.  “We don’t have a rule number two.”  His muscles bunched, his glance drifted downward, halting near her cleavage.
     Her dry throat cracked, sexual tension frustrating her, making her feel oh so needy.  “I know that! I’m winging it here, okay?”
     As the sexual pull intensified, Elly unbuttoned her blouse farther, slowly exposing the soft black satin on her bra, when all the while what she really wanted to do was rip her clothes clear off her body.  “I think we have to give the spirit what it wants.  It seemed to work for Gloria and Phil and we certainly wouldn’t want to anger it without our equipment, right?”
     Hey, this was as good an excuse as any to get him naked and have her wicked way with him.
     Suddenly, the scent of her arousal saturated the small room.  She watched Lucas’s throat work as he swallowed, and took note of the way his nostrils flared as he drew in her scent.
     “What do you think it wants?” he asked, as though wanting to hear her say it.  The deep sexiness of his voice made her want to rip his clothes off as well.  His hand brushed hers and her skin came alive.
     She drew a deep breath and tilted her head back, meeting eyes that were so dark and so full of urgent need that it made her knees weak.  She gripped his shoulders, her blood igniting to a boil.
     “I think it wants to watch us get naked and have sex.”

A CHRISTMAS HEAT WAVE
     Sam Mazze jerked her head back, dodging the burst of steam shooting up from the pan of boiling potatoes. The cubes bubbled and rolled in the frothy water, evading capture as she attempted to stab a piece to test its tenderness. Eventually, she managed to nick the corner of one with the tine of the fork enough to confirm her constant checking wasn’t getting the job done. She replaced the lid and vowed to leave them alone for at least ten minutes, then moved on to the top oven—what she’d come to think of as the guest of honor’s tanning bed.
     Watching her husband, Kevin, truss up the turkey had gotten her a little hot and bothered, not to mention envious. The bird, however, either wasn’t kinky or he’d tried to escape, because when she removed the foil blanket to check his tan, she found the string popped loose and him lying there, spread eagle, flashing her.
     She shook her head and sighed. “You’re a freak, Sam. You’ve been completely corrupted.” She wasn’t complaining. She loved the sexual adventure and excitement Kevin brought into her life. But it was a little embarrassing to always be thinking kinky, especially when looking at the Christmas turkey.
     Setting aside her naughty thoughts, she switched her attention to the second oven. Her seven-year-old daughter Michy’s favorite, homemade macaroni and cheese, bubbled around the edges of the ceramic bake ware, while Sam’s personal favorite, fresh baked garlic knots, filled the air with downhome comfort. She’d fallen in love with Kevin for hundreds of reasons, but gaining possession of his mother’s garlic knot recipe had been the final gotcha.
     She sniffed the air like a bloodhound on a scent and followed her nose across the kitchen to the creamy garlic-butter dipping sauce. The minced garlic had settled to the bottom of the bowl, while the colorful parsley and shredded Romano floated on top of the melted butter. Her saliva glands joined the party and made temptation impossible to resist.
     She cut her eyes to the kitchen door and cocked her head to the side, listening for the sound of running shower water. Kevin hadn’t asked her to sample the sauce, but as the hostess, she had a responsibility to her guests to make sure everything was perfect. How would she know if she didn’t do a taste test?
     Using the spoon Kevin conveniently left in the bowl, she vigorously stirred the contents, then ran her finger around the inside of the rim to gather the remnants. Her eyes rolled back in her head as the flavors burst to life on her tongue. “God, that’s good.”
     The sample left her greedy and needy for seconds, so before she dove in with both hands, she fled from that side of the kitchen and found herself in front of the bar. Again. Kevin had the bar so well stocked, even Sunny, a professional bartender, would be impressed. One of the bottles of beer shifted and wiggled as a piece of ice melted beneath it. Any other day, she would take that as a sign from the universe she should grab the bottle up, pop the top, and say, “Ahhhh.”
     But this wasn’t any other day. It was Christmas Eve. Her and Kevin’s first Christmas together as a married couple. Her first attempt at entertaining as Mrs. Mazze.
     She took a deep breath, trying to get a grip on her tangled nerves. It was ridiculous to be so anxious when all of their guests were their closest friends, but all she wanted for Christmas was for this Christmas Eve dinner to be perfect.


Author's Guest Post: Favorite Recipe
Alannah’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
Pineapple Cookies
2 Cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Few grains salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter/margarine
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Drain pineapple well, reserving liquid for icing. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Dissolve baking soda in pineapple. Mash butter until smooth, add sugar – blend well. Add egg and vanilla, mix well. Gradually add sifted ingredients – mixing after each addition. Blend in pineapple
Bake 6-8 minutes at 375
Icing:
2 Cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
Mixed together powdered sugar and pineapple juice and glaze cookies.


Cathryn’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
This is a family recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. It’s so easy and a family favourite.
Peanut Butter Squares
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup graham wafer crumbs
2 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons of milk
Put all ingredients together and spread in 9 by 9 inch greased pan.
Melt one half a package of chocolate chips (1cup) with one teaspoon of peanut butter and spread on top.  Let set, but cut before firm.


Janelle’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (super easy and SO yummy!)
 Ingredients:
1 (18-24 count) package of miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped
1 (18 ounce) package Pillsbury refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
 Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1.  Before starting, unwrap peanut butter cups and place in freezer.
2.  Using miniature muffin tins, place a 1-inch ball of dough in each cup.
3.  Bake for 5 minutes (less than package instructions of 7-8 minutes)
4.  Remove from oven and leave cookies in pan.
5.  Remove candy from freezer and carefully press one into each cookie.
6.  Remove from tins after they have cooled, and cool completely on a rack.


Jessie’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
This is one of my favorite holiday recipes!
(From Chef Andrew Sprugin link: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/brussels-sprouts-chestnuts-bacon)
Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts and Bacon (From Sunset Nov 2012)
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients
12 ounces canned or vacuum-packed shelled chestnuts, large pieces cut in half (or about 1 lb. fresh, if available)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved
6 slices (8 oz.) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toss chestnuts in oil and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning often, until slightly toasted but not dry, 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add brussels sprouts and cook until bright green and just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Cook bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring often, until almost crisp. Drain bacon in a strainer, reserving fat in a bowl.
4. Wipe out pan and add 3 tbsp. reserved bacon fat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add drained brussels sprouts and cook, stirring often and adding more fat if needed, until browned and starting to crisp, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and lemon juice, stirring to combine.
5. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with reserved bacon and chestnuts.


Karen’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
Okay, I'm a total cheater. When I make sugar cookies with my kids, I use the Betty Crocker sugar cookie pouches. It's just so much easier! We can bust those cookies out in no time. But I do make homemade frosting and the secret I learned from my grandma to make the frosting taste extra delicious? Include a splash of coffee. Yes, coffee! Sadly, she doesn't make sugar cookies during the holidays anymore but I do. Trying to keep up the tradition!
Frosting recipe:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick salted butter
1-2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Splash of coffee
Stir until desired thickness/consistency. Taste test to make sure it's sweet enough to your liking! Then get to frosting all those cookies. ;)
Here's a link to a photo from a couple of years ago - me making all the cookies and various holiday goodies and the mess I leave behind (note the diet Coke in the photo, too funny): http://karenwritesromance.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/misc-010.jpg


Mari’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
Cream of Crab Soup
Ingredients
¾ cup butter
¾ cup flour
2 chicken bouillon cubes (crushed)
dash of white pepper
salt to taste
1 tablespoon Old Bay
1 quart whole white milk
1 quart half and half
1 pound back fin crabmeat
Directions
1. Remove cartilage from crabmeat.
2. In a Dutch oven, melt butter. Blend in flour, pepper, and Old Bay. Stir and simmer over low heat 2-3 minutes.
3. Add milk, half and half, and bouillon. Simmer and stir constantly until bouillon is absorbed and the mixture thickens enough to coat a metal spoon.
4. Salt to taste, then add crabmeat. Heat through; do NOT boil.
Note: You can simply double recipe for a bigger amount.


Marquita’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
So, I’m not much of a cook, but Hot Builder (my husband) is and he makes the most delicious chocolate tarts.  Every one loves them, especially me!
Chocolate Tarts
Ingredients:
8 ounces of semi-sweet dark chocolate, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup of milk
¾ cup of heavy whipping cream
1 package of individual small pie shells
1 tub of cool whip
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350
Place pie shells on baking sheet
Combine heavy whipping cream and milk in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until hot. Don’t forget to stir! Add chocolate, stirring until blended. Let stand for about 5  minutes. Whisk in egg. Pour mixture into pie shells and bake for about 23 minutes. Allow to cool for fifteen minutes. Place tarts upside down on plate and add dollop (or two or three) of cool whip on top. Serves six, unless you like to share. I don’t.


Melody’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
One of my favorite fall/festive recipes is ‘Mom’s Apple Cake’ from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. It’s a delicious, buttery cake that’s perfect for get-togethers: just add whipped cream or ice-cream, or even eat some for breakfast like I do. (recipe courtesy of the Smitten Kitchen)
Mom’s Apple Cake
6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.


Violet’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
Aunty Pam's Cornbread Recipe
This recipe is near and dear to my heart.  I’ve always loved cornbread.  Always.  However, growing up in Hawai‘i with immigrant parents from Japan, it wasn’t exactly a staple of my diet.  Luckily, my dad was a fan also.  The first time I tasted really good cornbread, I was hooked.  When I was younger, we didn’t have much money and I used to shop for books in thrift stores (yes, a book addict even then).  I found an old local cookbook circa faded brown paper and basic clipart for images and just a few colors on the cover.  I distinctly remember the cornbread recipe in it – “Aunty Pam’s Cornbread” it was called.  Even though I lost the book after we moved years later, I never did forget how good that cornbread was.  Fast forward a few decades after my marriage to the love of my life.  I met a good friend of my husband’s parents, like an extended aunty for him through most of his life, who was well-known for the fabulous cornbread she always makes for parties – almost cakey and just scrumptious.  The woman’s name?  Aunty Pam.  The Aunty Pam.  Living on a small island, things like this happen all the time.  And my taste buds sure are thankful!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick mix
1 cup Sugar
2 sticks of Butter
2 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 cup Cornmeal
Directions:
1.  Mix all ingredients together well.
2.  Pour into a 9" x 13" pan.
3.  Bake at 350ΒΊ for 1/2 hour.
4.  Let cool before cutting.
P.S.  I know that’s a lot of butter (I just close my eyes and throw the sticks in). That’s why I only make this during the holidays. LOL! Here’s the link to another cornbreadk recipe I like with less butter! ^_^
http://www.food.com/recipe/copycat-marie-callenders-cornbread-62571


Sawyer’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
This one’s my absolute favorite holiday recipe!
Pumpkin Roll
Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
Two 3-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 17 1/2- by 12 1/2-inch jellyroll pan.
With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice until smooth. Sift together the flour, ginger, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the sifted ingredients to the egg mixture and blend until fully combined. Spread the batter in the jellyroll pan. Sprinkle the dough with the chopped pecans. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 14 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
Invert the cake onto a wire rack. Sprinkle some of the confectioner' sugar on a large tea towel and carefully transfer the warm cake to the towel, folding the sides of the towel over the cake. Roll the cake up in the towel and cool in the refrigerator thoroughly for about 45 minutes.
With an electric mixer, combine the confectioners' sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread the mixture on top of the cake. Gently re-roll the cake up and refrigerate it until you're ready to slice and serve. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.


Author Bios:
Sawyer Bennett
USA Today Best-Selling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn't have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Violet Duke
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels. Her books have been Top 10 bestsellers on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble, as well as NYT, USA Today, and international bestsellers. When she's not writing or feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, Violet enjoys tackling reno projects with her power tools, trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, and cooking 'special edition' dishes that laugh in the face of recipes. She lives in Hawai'i with her two cute kids (daughter Violet & son Duke) and similarly adorable husband.

Melody Grace
Melody Grace is a small-town girl turned SoCal beach lover. After spending her life with her nose in a book, she decided it was time she wrote one herself. She loves steamy romance novels, happily-ever-afters, and lusting after fictional menfolk. 

Marquita Valentine
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Marquita Valentine, writes sexy heroes that make you swoon and sassy heroines that make you laugh. She's the author of the bestselling contemporary romance series, Holland Springs, and the new adult romance series, Boys of the South.

Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man--and if that doesn't work, they can console themselves with cheesy tatertots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.

Mari Carr
Writing a book was number one on Mari's bucket list and on her thirty-fourth birthday, she set out to see that goal achieved. Now her computer is jammed full of stories -- novels, novellas, short stories and dead-ends. A New York Times and USA Today bestseller as well as winner of the Passionate Plume, Mari found time for writing by squeezing it into the hours between 3 a.m. and daybreak when her family is asleep and the house is quiet. 

Karen Erickson
Karen Erickson lives in central California with her husband, three kids, one dog and too many cats. Being a romance writer and bringing her characters to life is her greatest dream come true.

She's also known as New York Times and USA Today bestselling new adult author Monica Murphy, the name under which she does all her social media (leading a double life is tough!).

Jessie Evans
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Jessie Evans, gave up a career as an international woman of mystery to write the sexy, contemporary romances she loves to read.

She's married to the man of her dreams, and together they're raising a few adorable, mischievous children in a cottage in the jungle. She grew up in rural Arkansas, spending summers running wild, being chewed by chiggers, and now appreciates her home in a chigger-free part of the world even more. 

When she's not writing, Jessie enjoys playing her dulcimer (badly), sewing the worlds ugliest quilts to give to her friends, going for bike rides with her house full of boys, and drifting in and out on the waves, feeling thankful for sun, surf, and lovely people to share them with.

Janelle Denison
Janelle Denison is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over fifty contemporary romance novels. She is a two time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and has also been nominated for the prestigious RITA award.  Janelle is a California native who now calls Oregon home.  She resides in the Portland area with her husband and daughters, and can’t imagine a more beautiful place to live. When not writing, she can be found exploring the great Northwest, from the gorgeous beaches to the amazing waterfalls and lush mountains.  Janelle also writes as NYT & USA Today bestselling author Erika Wilde.  

Cathryn Fox
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Cathryn Fox is a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and friend. She loves dogs, sunny weather, anything chocolate (she never says no to a brownie) pizza and red wine. She has two teenagers who keep her busy with their never ending activities, and a husband who is convinced he can turn her into a mixed martial arts fan. Cathryn can never find balance in her life, is always trying to find time to go to the gym, can never keep up with emails, Facebook or Twitter and tries to write page-turning books that her readers will love.

Cathryn also writes New Adult Paranormal under Cat Kalen.

Alannah Lynne
Alannah believes there’s nothing more magical than finding the other half of your soul, experiencing fiery passion, and knowing you’ve found happily-ever-after.
She loves going to work each day (in sweats and a T-shirt) and writing about hot heroes and feisty heroines who torment each other in the most delicious ways before finding their happy ending.
She lives in the coastal region of North Carolina with her husband, who also happens to be her best friend and biggest fan. They have two sons, a dog, Sadie, who is always causing trouble, and two cats.


Sawyer Bennet:  Facebook  /  Blog

Violet Duke:  Facebook  /  Blog

Melody Grace:  Facebook  /  Blog

Marquita Valentine:  Facebook  /  Blog

Mari Carr:  Facebook  /  Blog

Karen Erickson:  Facebook  /  Blog  /  Website

Jessie Evans:  Facebook  /  Blog

Janelle Denison:  Facebook  /  Blog

Cathryn Fox:  Facebook  /  Blog

Alannah Lynne:  Facebook  /  Blog



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