Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Comfort and Joy

Rest and Be Thankful by Joanna Chambers
Two stormy hearts find peace when feuding neighbors in the Scottish Highlands are trapped by a blizzard. Things haven’t been going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast.

Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.

Out by Harper Fox
Can a stranger unlock the courage and passion in a young man’s captive heart? It’s Christmas at Edinburgh’s magnificent Barlinney Hotel, and chief housekeeper Cosmo Grant is in charge of the festivities. He’s already got his hands full when handsome Ren Vaudrey checks in. Ren is an accountant, or so he says, and he’s asking questions about his missing colleague, Sam.

It soon turns out that Ren is an undercover cop. Cosmo wants to help him – Ren is kind as well as handsome as hell – but unless he can do it within the Barlinney’s walls, Cosmo is stuck. A victim of crippling agoraphobia, he’s been a prisoner in this gilded cage for over a year.

There’s another problem too. Ren clearly adores his partner Sam. In the face of his rising attraction for this man, Cosmo has to bear in mind that Ren may be already taken. Cosmo gathers all his courage to do the right thing by Ren and Sam – and as a glittering Christmas Eve descends on the city, finds himself confronting his very darkest fears.

Waiting for Winter by LB Gregg
Some mistakes are worth repeating. Luke thought he and Winter were the perfect couple—until Winter announced they were uprooting and headed for Germany. No discussion. No debate. For the first time in his life, Winter miscalculated. Now Luke is trying his best to move on with his life, but Winter is back and he’s set on digging their relationship out of the deep freeze.

Baby, It's Cold by Josh Lanyon
Or maybe it's the flu. Breaking up is hard to do -- especially around the holidays. Talk about Kitchen Nightmares! TV Chef Rocky and Foodie Blogger Jesse have been pals forever, so it should have been the most natural thing in the world to kick their relationship up a notch. Instead, it turned out to be a disaster. But Christmas is the season of love, and someone’s cooking up a sweet surprise…

Author Bios:
LB Gregg
LB Gregg (Lisabea) writes fun, fast-paced contemporary male/male romances for a variety of publishers including Riptide, Samhain, and Carina Press. Her wildly successful Men of Smithfield books feature hot, hunky men looking for love in small town New England.

Harper Fox
Harper Fox is an M/M author with a mission. She’s produced six critically acclaimed novels in a year and is trying to dispel rumours that she has a clone/twin sister locked away in a study in her basement. In fact she simply continues working on what she loves best– creating worlds and stories for the huge cast of lovely gay men queuing up inside her head. She lives in rural Northumberland in northern England and does most of her writing at a pensioned-off kitchen table in her back garden, often with blanket and hot water bottle.

She lives with her SO Jane, who has somehow put up with her for a quarter of a century now, and three enigmatic cats, chief among whom is Lucy, who knows the secret of the universe but isn't letting on. When not writing, she either despairs or makes bread, specialities foccacia and her amazing seven-strand challah. If she has any other skills, she's yet to discover them.

Joanna Chambers
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

Josh Lanyon
A distinct voice in gay fiction, multi-award-winning author JOSH LANYON has been writing gay mystery, adventure and romance for over a decade. In addition to numerous short stories, novellas, and novels, Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist.

LB Gregg
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Harper Fox
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Joanne Chambers
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Josh Lanyon
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Fatal Forty-Eight by Kassandra Lamb

SERIES – The Kate Huntington Mysteries #7 
AUTHOR – Kassandra Lamb 
GENRE – Mystery/Thriller 
PUBLICATION DATE – Nov. 12, 2014 
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) - 272 pages 
PUBLISHER – Misterio press LLC 
COVER ARTIST – Melinda VanLone, Book Cover Corner

Celebration turns to nightmare when psychotherapist Kate Huntington’s guest of honor disappears en route to her own retirement party. Kate’s former boss, Sally Ford, has been kidnapped by a serial killer who holds his victims exactly forty-eight hours before killing them.

With time ticking away, the police allow Kate and her P.I. husband to help with the investigation. The FBI agents involved in the case have mixed reactions to the “civilian consultants.” The senior agent welcomes Kate’s assistance as he fine-tunes his psychological profile. His voluptuous, young partner is more by the book. She locks horns out in the field with Kate’s husband, while back at headquarters, misunderstandings abound.

But they can ill afford these distractions. Sally’s time is about to expire.

I really enjoyed the fast paced suspense.  There were no dull moments, even during scenes that weren't "mystery-related" had your interest piqued.  The characters are well written but it was the story that had me riveted from beginning to end.  I've never read this author before but I most definitely will be checking out other offerings in the future.


     “Charles,” she said into the phone, “I’m sorry, but I have to–”
     “No, baby, that’s not the issue. I don’t care about going out to dinner, but that wasn’t really where we were going tonight.”
     “What do you mean?”
     Charles blew out air on the other end of the line.
     Dear lord, even his sighs are sexy!
     “You’ve got to promise you won’t let on that I told you.”
     “Told me what?”
     “I was charged with getting you to your surprise retirement party tonight.”
     It took a second for Sally to digest that. “So we’ve got to show up at the restaurant then.”
     “Yeah, that was the tricky part, how to get you to where we’re really going,” Charles said. “The party’s at a former employee’s house. A lady named Kate…can’t remember her last name.”
     “No that isn’t it.”
     “Oh, right, Canfield. She’s remarried since she left the center.”
     Sally glanced at her watch. Five o’clock. “Charles, I’ve gotta go. I have this client waiting. What time’s the party?”
     “Seven was when I was supposed to get you there.”
     “Why don’t you swing by and pick me up at quarter of. We’ll come back for my car later.”
     “Okay,” Charles said, “but you’ve got to act surprised or Pauline is going to skin me alive.”
     “Pauline? She’s been retired six years now!”
     “You seem to inspire loyalty in even your former employees, baby.”
     “Humph. See you at six forty-five.”
     Sally hung up her desk phone and stood up. She tugged on the bottom of her tailored jacket. At least she was wearing something she would be comfortable in all evening. The pale peach suit was one of her favorite outfits, partly because it complemented her chocolate brown skin but mainly because it fit her so well, without any binding or pinching. Too often, in her opinion, women’s clothing was too much about the latest style and not enough about practicality and comfort.
     She went out to the waiting area of the center, an apology on her lips for keeping this new client waiting.
     But he never gave her a chance to verbalize it.
     The short, inconsequential-looking man stood up quickly. “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Ms. Ford. I’m thrilled to make your acquaintance.”
     Thrilled to make my acquaintance? What an odd choice of words.
     Sally extended her hand. As the man shook it, he placed his other hand on her arm.
     A sharp zing. Her arm reflexively jerked away.
     The man jumped back a little. “Oh my, I’m sorry. Static electricity.” His embarrassed laughter sounded almost feminine. “It’s such a nuisance this time of year.”
     “No problem, Mr. Johnson,” Sally said. “Come on in to my office.”
     He followed her down the short hallway and through the door, closing it behind him.
     Sally stumbled a little as she walked to the sitting area in the corner of the room, where she talked to clients. She was even more exhausted than she’d realized. Hopefully they would be able to beg off from the party after an hour or two. She gestured toward the loveseat and lowered herself into her own chair.
     “I’m sorry, Ms. Ford, for keeping you here this evening. I see that your staff has all gone home.”
     Sally shook her head, then wished she hadn’t when the room spun for a brief moment. “I was planning to work late anyway.” After she’d heard the poor man’s story over the phone earlier, and his comments that had hinted of severe depression and suicidal ideation, she wasn’t about to make him wait until Monday.
     She just hoped she could stay alert enough to be helpful. Fatigue was making her limbs heavy, and she realized her mind was wandering. Mr. Johnson was talking and she had no idea what he had just said. She shook her head again. Her vision blurred but her mind cleared enough for his words to partially register.
     “What time is Mr. Tolliver picking you up, Ms. Ford?”
     Sally tried to push herself up straighter in her chair. She wondered vaguely how this man knew about Charles. “What did you say?” Her voice sounded slurred, as if she’d been drinking.
     “I need to know exactly when Mr. Tolliver was supposed to pick you up, Ms. Ford,” Johnson said more firmly.
     Was supposed to, not is picking me up!
     Panic shot through her system. Her brain told her body to jump up and run, but her limbs didn’t respond. They felt like they were made of lead.
     “Why…” Sally’s head fell back against the chair, her neck no longer able to support its weight.
     “Because that is when the clock starts,” the man said.
     But Sally didn’t hear him. She had already sunk into darkness.

Kate Huntington-Canfield:
Born Kathleen O’Donnell, Kate has the Black-Irish coloring of dark curls and sky-blue eyes. At five-eight and with a decent figure–thanks to a good metabolism and tri-weekly aikido classes–she considers herself reasonably attractive. But occasionally another woman comes on to her hunky second husband, an uncomfortable reminder that she’s not quite in his league looks-wise.

Kate’s known for her voracious appetite, her inability to cook much of anything that’s edible, her warmth and intelligence, and an insatiable curiosity about what makes people tick. Her greatest passion, after her husband, is her work as a psychotherapist specializing in helping people recover from the traumatic events in their lives.

Trauma entered her own life a few years ago, when she was widowed at the hands of a killer with a murderous grudge against her and her close friend, lawyer Rob Franklin (Book 1 in the series).
Kate gets a second chance at love with private detective, Skip Canfield, but their respective professions sometimes bring murder and mayhem into their lives. Kate can’t help but worry that someday she will lose another husband to violence.

Reginald William “Skip” Canfield, III:
Skip Canfield is six-five and drop-dead gorgeous. Gold flecks dance in his hazel eyes and his straight, brown hair has an annoying habit of flopping down over his forehead. But he wasn’t always tall, broad-shouldered and buff. The short, scrawny teenager who was bullied because of his goofy nickname still lives inside of him.

One can hear a touch of his Texan origins in his speech now and again, even though he’s lived in Maryland a couple decades now. Sometimes he let’s that Texas drawl creep in on purpose, when he wants to charm the ladies.

He was a confirmed bachelor, until he reconnected with a former client during a case several years ago. That summer, he fell for Kate Huntington and fell hard. But she was still grieving for her murdered husband (Book 2).

Skip is nothing if not patient, and eventually his patience paid off (Book 3). His laid-back personality serves him well in his work as a bodyguard and private investigator. There’s only one thing that can cause him to lose his cool–a threat to his wife or kids.

He and Kate have built a good life together. He adores his sometimes intense, occasionally a tad jealous, but always delightful and delectable wife.

Since I’m older than dirt and my musical tastes are equally antiquated--John Denver, anyone?--I’d like to share the playlist of my protagonist in the Kate Huntington mystery series. She’s no spring chicken herself but her older favorites are ones that have stood the test of time. And she’s got a few more up-to-date selections as well.

Kate was born Kathleen O’Donnell in 1967. Being of Irish-American heritage and coming of age in the 1980's, of course Kate is a U2 fan. Her all time favorite song is A Beautiful Day.

Kate’s second favorite band during her college years was Guns N’ Roses. Their song, Sweet Child O’ Mine, always makes her think of her childhood – years filled with love, laughter and a fair share of bickering as she and three siblings grew up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Baltimore.

Second runner-up for Kate’s favorite U2 song is With or Without You. The year this song came out, Kate was a junior in college and she was dating Ed Huntington. Ed adored her, but Kate found his laid-back personality rather boring. They broke up their senior year. After graduation, Kate went off to graduate school, leaving Ed with a sore heart and an appreciation for U2.

In 1993, Kate and Ed ran into each other at a U2 concert (during their Zoo Tour). Kate saw this as a sign that she should give him another chance. Over dinner the next night, he admitted that he played With or Without You quite often, while thinking about the good times they’d had in college. The line “and you give, and you give, and you give yourself away” particularly reminded him of her compassion for others.

Is there any way she could not fall in love with this man? With or Without You became their song. They were married eighteen months later.

Kate is also a Carrie Underwood fan. One of her favorites is Blown Away. This song tells a story so similar to the ones she hears from many of her psychotherapy clients.

(Note: a spoiler coming up if you haven't read any of the Kate Huntington books yet.)

When her beloved Eddie is senselessly killed (Book 1, Multiple Motives), Kate assumes that romance is a thing of the past in her life. But fate has other ideas.

A little over a year later, she crosses paths again with the bodyguard who protected her from Eddie’s killer, and finds herself increasingly attracted to him. She is sorely tempted (he’s a hunk), but her grief is still too fresh. Skip Canfield reassures her that he’s a “very patient man.” (Book 2, Ill-Timed Entanglements)

Skip was raised in Texas on a steady diet of country western music. During that same summer he re-connects with Kate, I’ll Wait For You is released by Joe Nichols. This song resonates for Skip on so many levels. While courting Kate through Book 3, Family Fallacies, Skip converts her to an appreciation of country music. I’ll Wait for You becomes their song. Kate does have a penchant for making men wait, doesn’t she?

Have some tissues handy. This one’s a tear-jerker.

Pop singer, Katy Perry, is the most recent addition to Kate’s favorite artists’ list, after stumbling on a You Tube video of her 2010 hit, Firework. At first Kate thought the song was a little cheesy, but then she got caught up in its self-esteem boosting message.

Her favorite Perry song, however, is Part of Me, because it portrays the “tough chick” persona that Kate always finds intriguing. Perhaps she wishes she were a little more kick-ass herself. (See Book 6, Zero Hero, to see if this comes to pass).

I hope you’ve enjoyed Kate Huntington’s rather eclectic playlist.
Kassandra Lamb

Author Bio:
Writing and psychology have always vied for number one on Kassandra Lamb’s Greatest Passions list. In her youth, she had to make a decision between writing and paying the bills. Partial to electricity and food, she studied psychology. Now retired from a career as a psychotherapist and college professor, she spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The portal to this universe (aka her computer) is located in Florida where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her. She and her husband also spend part of each summer in her native Maryland, where the Kate Huntington mysteries are set.

Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA  /  B&N
iTunes  /  Kobo  /  Scribd  /  Goodreads TBR

$20 Amazon gift card; either a book charm or key chain (winner’s choice) and a signed paperback copy of any Kate Huntington Mystery book.
  (Note if the winner is outside of the US/Canada, a comparable gift certificate may be substituted)

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The Remainder of the Search Series by Amanda Kay

The Freedom Search
Two dark souls... 
Lost without escape... 
No freedom to be found... 
Except maybe with each other. 

Gloria has done things she's not proud of. Including trying to break up Raiden and Tai. The worst part was Kai never explained why. It didn't matter Gloria fell in line. 

Kai has been trying to destroy Raiden for as long as he could remember. He used Gloria, a human to try to reach that goal, but failed. Now he's drowning in his family's disapproval and he's finally starting to understand. 

Can two dark souls set each other free? Or will unforeseen circumstances push them a part? Leaving them both trapped.


The Mother Daughter Search
A child changes one’s views. 
I only have one regret in my life… 
My mother. 

Melanie Lee is due any day. As Tai feels Melanie roll around inside of her she only has one regret. Her mother. 

She hasn’t spoken to her since the wedding. Since she voiced an objection to her and Raiden getting married. She left without saying goodbye and Tai washed her hands. However, as Melanie’s due date approaches she can’t help but wonder… 

Can they fix what’s broken? Does Tai really want to? Will her mother ever accept Raiden and her relationship? Tai isn’t sure, but she has to try. More than anything Tai knows her mother will always be a part of her.


Author Bio:
I’m twenty-nine years old, but will be twenty-nine in May. I am a Navy Wife and a mother of two. My daughter was born December 4, 2010 and my son was born July 18, 2013. My husband and I have been married for almost seven years, but we have been together since our junior year of high school and we have known each other since 8th grade, yes a long time. 

I am a Florida girl at heart, but since getting married I have lived in Washington, South Carolina, and our latest move Connecticut. I hold a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. 

Writing is something I love and since I am blessed to be a stay at home mom I thought I would try my hand at getting the stories in my head out and see how far I could go. I tried a few years ago to go through a Literary Agency, but it went nowhere. The self-publishing market was just starting to get hot so I self-published two books mainly for family and friends. I then discovered the world of New Adult. I wanted to stick with my paranormal roots and began thinking up story ideas that took on not only a paranormal element, but a fantasy element as well 

My Motto: Not your average Fairy Tales
So, that is me in a nutshell. I am a little crazy and simple and I love my life and my family.

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The Freedom Search #4

The Mother Daughter Search #5

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The Off World Cookbook by Rebecca York

Title: The Off World Cookbook
Author: Rebecca York
Series: Companion to Off World Novellas
Genre: Cookbook
Release Date: December 8, 2014

Do you ever want to know more about the background and environment of the characters in a story? Here's a chance to find out more about Rebecca York's Off World novellas and short stories. Like what do the heroes and heroines in these science-fiction romances really eat? And where did they get the recipes? Or are they foraging for their supper in the forests, fields and streams of strange planets?

It's fun to envision these future meals in strange environments and more fun to duplicate the dishes here on Earth--even the Farlian Celebration Cake pictured on the cover.

Some of the recipes, like the Backcountry Quick Bread from Assignment Danger, feature native foods, which you've never encountered. But you can make easy substitutions with ingredients found at your local grocery store.

Others like the Roasted Summer Vegetables or Cheesecake that the colonists on Jalar enjoy or the Fresh Cherry Compote made from the trees on Caleb Raider's farmstead in Nightfall are made with ingredients originally brought from Earth and carefully cultivated in their new environments.

Some, like the Grilled Steak with Peppers and Onions from Conquest, are a blend of native and Earth traditions.

Each of these dishes is rich with the atmosphere of another time and place. Try them in your own kitchen. They'll give you an--ahem--taste of what we have in store in the future when we venture into the unknown worlds of the galaxy and beyond.

Read more about the worlds these recipes are from:
Three sizzling, sexy Science-Fiction romance stories from NY Times Best-Selling Rebecca York

(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Short Story)
A science-fiction romance short story inspired by Worf, the only Klingon member of Star Fleet. Viewers of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION learned that a Klingon's sense of honor makes him a hero worthy of any woman's heart. And he's one sexy lover, too!

Hero's Welcome 
(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Short Story)
They were friends as children, she from the master race, he born to servants on her father's estate. But in the bloody rebellion that followed, his people were the victors. Now he's home, reaping the spoils of war. But both of them have been chewed up and spit out by what happened to them in the conflict. Can they heal each other's wounds and find the love both of them have always craved?

(Sexy Science-Fiction Romance Novella)
When all-male plague survivors landed on the planet Palomar, no one knew if humans could thrive in the hostile environment. Now it's twenty years later, and the planetary authority has finally authorized a shipment of brides. Homesteader Caleb Raider has won a wife in the lottery, but he hasn't seen a woman since childhood-except in a porn vid. His new wife, Beka Gunnarsen, knows he's a virgin. What's the best way to introduce him to the pleasures of married love, while hiding the secret she thinks will destroy their new relationship? And is she up to living on a nearly lawless planet where savage wildlife roams?

From Conquest
Grazing animals which resemble the buffalo of old earth inhabit the lowland plains on Jalar. The Jalarians hunt them for furs and food. Like all of the native warriors, Rohan could eat their meat at every meal. For variety, Elena taught him to add a flavorful marinade and some vegetables. Here on earth, you can marinate the steak in a plastic bag.

Makes 4 servings

11/2 pounds sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
2 sweet peppers (green and red, yellow, or orange) seeded and sliced

--Place steak in a zip-lock plastic bag. In a small bowl, combine onion, oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, mustard, garlic, and salt; stir to mix well. Pour into the bag with steak, distributing evenly over meat. Seal, lay on a large plate, and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
--Adjust rack 5 inches from broiler.  Preheat broiler.  Transfer meat to broiler pan. Broil meat for 11 to 18 minutes, turning once, until desired degree of doneness is reached.
--Meanwhile, transfer onions and marinade to a large skillet. Add 2 tablespoons additional oil. Add peppers, and cook over medium high to high heat, stirring frequently, 7 or 8 minutes, until onions and peppers begin to char.
--To serve, slice meat on the diagonal, and arrange on a serving platter. Surround with pepper-onion mixture.

Author Bio:
A New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-selling and award-winning author, Rebecca has written over 145 books and novellas. In 2011 she became the dozenth author to receive the Romance Writers of America Centennial Award for having written 100 romantic novels. Her Killing Moon was a launch title for Berkley’s Sensation imprint in June 2003. Five more books in the series have followed.

Rebecca has authored or co-authored over 65 romantic thrillers, many for Harlequin Intrigue’s very popular 43 Light Street series, set in Baltimore, and many with paranormal elements.

Her many awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and for Series Romantic Mystery. And her Peregrine Connection series won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense Series.

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The Off World Cookbook

The Off World Collection

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