First of all, if you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, Wild Child, you should grab it now. No, it’s not necessary to read this series in order as these are stand-alone titles, but you should. You. Really. Should. I loved Wild Child when I read it last fall (see my review) and have been counting first the months, then weeks, then days till these two titles were published.
In Wild Child, I’ll admit I fell in love with Bishop, Arkansas and Molly’s writing (I’d never read any of her books before). Coming from a town that also saw its economy devastated when its only major employer pulled out, I emphasized with the citizens of Bishop who seemed like they’d try anything to get a new employer in town. I worried about them. Really. I. Did. So I’m so glad to be able to catch up with what’s been happening in book two, Never Been Kissed, and book three, Between the Sheets
When I opened Never Been Kissed, I thought perhaps I had the wrong book as the setting wasn’t Bishop, but Cook’s Bay, Moorea, in the Polynesian Islands. (I actually double checked the title to make sure.) But of course it was correct and in this first chapter we learn a bit more about the rather enigmatic Brody Baxter. Remember him? In Wild Child he had popped in to Bishop in order to help his brother Luke prepare Pour, the family bar Pour, for service.
Brody is an ex-Marine, invalided out, and now guarding a corrupt politician and his mistress at a vacation hideaway. His discontent with his life emanates from the page and captured my attention and concern.
“The world issued an open invitation to humanity to fail itself. To be selfish and small. Mean, even evil at times. And most people, in Brody’s experience, found it impossible to turn down that invitation.” (page 8)
Oh my. My heart cracked when I read this. With three sentences Molly O’Keefe encapsulated the isolation and emptiness of Brody and made me just want to comfort him. Yes, in many ways he’s an alpha hero, but he’s one that I have a feeling will do the unexpected as we journey with him in this story.
Soon he’s off to rescue the sister of another politician from Somali pirates. It’s clear from Brody’s reaction to the news that Harrison, her brother brings, that Ashley Montgomery is someone with whom Brody had a past. But what that past involved isn’t clear – except it didn’t seem good.
When Brody rescues Ashley, it’s not a guns-blazing scenario. But the scene shows not only the depravity of the kidnappers, but also the desperation of the marginalized people who shelter them. O’Keefe doesn’t excuse them for their actions. To the contrary. But one of the many reasons I love reading her books is her ability to convey the story not just in black in white, but in all the many shades in between.
She also writes some of the most vivid and passionate love scenes – again in a way that “takes you there.” Yes, from the moment of Ash’s rescue, it’s clear that whatever transpired between Brody and Ash in the past was also very alive in the present. Their chemistry sizzles off the page.
Ash is someone I’d love to know. While it’s clear that she’s been constricted by pressures from her family and, indeed, herself, she’s one of the amazingly kind, trusting, and faithful people I’ve read about. Really, you’d want her as your best friend. Plus she’s fun! Even when battered and fearful from her ordeal as a hostage, she remains positive and hopeful.
My heart bled for her though when she arrived at her grandmother’s (now her own) luxurious Manhattan apartment and found her picture-perfect mother there. The quintessential politician’s wife, it’s clear that Patty (don’t call her Mom) doesn’t see who Ashley is. When her mother offers her soup (a standard mother thing to do), Ashley’s reaction made me cry.
“And weakened as Ashley was, she had a vision, lovely and strange, of Patty actually heating up the soup. Standing over a stove, stirring a pot.
Magically, Patty would be wearing an apron. For her.
If her mother would actually do that … so much would be forgiven. That’s how little pride Ashley had left.” (p 40-41)
Of course, Patty doesn’t make the soup, but delegates Brody to the kitchen to do so as though he were her servant. (As he probably is in her eyes.) Yet, from this brief passage, O’Keefe clearly lets us know the demons that Ash has faced all her life.
In addition to Brody and Ash, Luke and Bishop cafe owner Cora’s prickly friendship is equally engaging. I adored Luke, who like a puppy dog, seemed to have boundless enthusiasm and optimism as he struggles to make Pour a going concern. (Such a contrast to his adopted brother, Brody.) He can’t cook? Well he’ll still have a chili night, even if the chili is inedible. And he’ll smile – a lot. Cora is a street savvy kitchen magician, whose cafe is constantly filled. Their spiky interactions, then mutually accepted ceasefire is so much fun to read.
Luke and Brody’s father just made me smile with his exterior gruffness that camouflages a tender heart. There’s humor threaded throughout this story and it’s added in at just the right time for the reader to chuckle a bit and relax. Molly O’Keefe has perfect timing with this – as she does with the more serious scenes.
So what happens with Brody and Ash, these two very interesting yet wounded souls? If you guess they make their way to Bishop, Arkansas, you’re right. Their journey, not measured in miles, but trust, faith, love, hope is one I’ll remember – and reread many times. If I hadn’t already added Molly O’Keefe to my must-read, auto-buy list before this, I would after reading Never Been Kissed
I admit to crying when I was reading Wild Child especially during the oh-so-public meltdown of art teacher and Bishop saint Shelby Monroe. In Between the Sheets we get to see what has happened to Shelby a year after her cracker fling turned ugly.
Now dealing with the day-in, day-out ever constant and debilitating life with a parent, her mother, slipping further into the shadow world of dementia, Shelby is an island in Bishop. It’s clear that she doesn’t ask for help, really I wonder if she even knows how. But the same woman who had that fling rears her head early on when reacting to the late night noise emanating from her new neighbors garage.
I had wondered if Wyatt or Ty, a tall, good looking, biker-dude briefly seen in Never Been Kissed as Brody’s new assistant, would have a role in a future book. (I sure hoped he would. And he does!) Yes, Ty is the hero of Between the Sheets and he and his newly discovered son just ran away with my heart.
I’ll admit to suffering and sympathizing with Shelby with each devolving encounter she had with her mother, with each time her chin raised as she outstared someone who thought of the words broadcast about her on national TV, and with each time she crawled back into her shell after trying her wings. I understood Shelby all too well.
“And she couldn’t help it – she just gave up holding onto who she was. She just dropped every jagged edge she’d been clinging to and she let her world fall away. All of her pretenses.” (page 99)
Once again, Molly O’Keefe explodes the traditional trope and creates characters that breathe. Ty is no typical bad boy, even if he rode into town on a bike, and Shelby is not a downtrodden heroine in need of rescue. Their passion-filled matings are flat-out steamy, but oh-so-revealing about what is said and what is silent.
“Volatile energy poured off her and he was surprised the light bulbs overhead didn’t shatter as she walked under them. As she got closer, her energy, like a virus, spread to him and he felt the hot coil of need in his belly.” (page 101)
I’ll admit to tears. Again. And yes, this story was emotionally draining AND at the same time uplifting. Between the Sheets did what great books should do and let me live beside these people of Bishop and come to care about them. A Lot. I think tears and Molly O’Keefe books are like weeping eyes when peeling onions, with both layers and layers are revealed and tears are expected … with each turn of the page or stroke of the knife.
The only thing I’ll complain about is that the book ended. I wanted to keep reading about Ty and Shelby, Luke and Cora, Brody and Ash, Monica and Jackson. So, I’ll be looking forward to reading Molly O’Keefe’s next Boys of Bishop title, Indecent Proposal (pub date 30 Sep 2014), that will focus on Ashley’s rising politician brother, Harrison Montgomery, and his mysterious and unexpected marriage to Ryan.
So if you’ve been searching for an author who captures your imagination and your heart with characters and stories that resonate with the real choices and situations we all face, add Molly O’Keefe to your must-buy list too. Really. Do. Her stories stand-out. Her storytelling voice is exceptional. Her love scenes are passionate, gritty, moving, and tender. In reality she’s become one of my favorite authors whose stories will be on my bookshelf for as long as I’ll be reading.
From the Publisher
The Boys of Bishop, Book 2
Never Been Kissed (The Boys of Bishop) by Molly O’Keefe
Bantam Dell (Random House Publishing Group) ⎜ ISBN 9780345549013 ⎜ Price $7.99 ⎜ Pub Date Jul 1 2014
As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her own way, volunteering to work at a refugee camp in Africa. But her act of charity turns dangerous when she takes a boat trip and is abducted by Somali pirates. Enter Brody Baxter, who was a bodyguard for the Montgomery family ten years ago and doesn’t think twice about coming to Ashley’s rescue. Handsome and tough, Brody has always done what needed to be done. So he swoops in, saves Ashley, and brings her to a place where she can rest and recuperate without the glare of the press and her demanding family: Brody’s small hometown of Bishop, Arkansas. But Ashley soon realizes that she’s not the only one in need of healing.
Holed up with Ashley in a tiny apartment over his brother’s bar in Bishop, Brody is tempted and torn in ways he never anticipated. Beautiful Ashley, vibrant despite her ordeal, fearless enough to love him beyond his wall of self-punishment, is now determined to save him. But with a little faith and a lot of love, they just may find happiness in each others’ arms.
The Boys of Bishop, Book 3
Between the Sheets by Molly O’Keefe
Bantam Dell (Random House Publishing Group) ⎜ ISBN 9780345549037 ⎜ Price $7.99 ⎜ Pub Date Jul 29 2014
After years of running, Wyatt Svenson has now parked himself in Bishop, Arkansas, trying to do the right thing and parent a son he didn’t even know he had until recently. Over six feet tall and packed with muscles and power, Ty likes to get his hands dirty, fixing his motorcycle at night and keeping his mind away from the mistakes he’s made. Then his pretty neighbor shows up on his driveway, doesn’t bother to introduce herself, and complains about the noise. First impression? She should loosen up. Funny that she turns out to be his son’s elementary school art teacher—and the only one willing to help his troubled boy. Ty needs her. In more ways than one.
Though Shelby Monroe is safe in her structured life, she is drawn to Ty’s bad-boy edge and rugged sexuality. What if she just lets it all go: her worries about her mother, her fear of heartbreak, and her tight self control? What if she grabs Ty and takes a ride on the wild side? “What if” becomes reality—intense, exhilarating . . . and addictive. But Ty wants more than a secret affair. He wants it all with Shelby. But will she take a chance and open her heart? Ty is determined to convince Shelby to take the biggest risk of her life: on him.
I love reading about Scottish lairds and ladies, be they historical, paranormal, or contemporary tales. Give me a shifter in kilts, as in Vonnie Davis or Terry Spear’s recent titles, and I’m a very happy girl!
Reflecting on this love of all things Scottish, I realized that one of the first sweeping historical books I ever read was The Scottish Chiefs by Miss Jane Porter. I used to borrow this book from my school library each year to reread the fictionalized sweeping history of William Wallace.
I remember loving this book, not just because of the engrossing story, but because of the illustrations that swept my imagination to the Scottish Highlands. I’d hear swards clash. Smell the fields of heather. Speak with a bit of a brogue myself when disturbed from reading. Yes, this book just captured my imagination and would not let go.
In recalling this, I was of course curious to reread The Scottish Chiefs now. I found that Project Guttenberg does offer a free digital version, but it’s not the edition that captured my attention as a young teen. Nor was Fiona Price’s new edition or the Library of Alexandria‘s version quite the same.
The Scottish Chiefs I remember had illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and an introduction by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Normally I’m a bit more fluid in my acceptance of updates, but I must admit to desiring the magic of those illustrations set against Porter’s 1810 story that so captured my imagination. I could purchase a physical copy of this book from Amazon, as there were several used versions (paperback and hardcover) of this edition available, but no digital one with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations.
Then I decided to check OpenLibrary.org and once again found success there. Great success. Not only was there a copy, with N.C. Wyeth illustrations, but it was available as a direct, send to Kindle eBook (https://openlibrary.org/books/OL13445329M/The_Scottish_chiefs). Yes, this was the first OpenLibrary book that I did not receive as an ePub to read on my iPad, but was able to send directly to Kindle from Amazon so I can read it on my HDX and Paperwhite.
Unimaginable success and happiness!
I’ll be reading The Scottish Chiefs sometime soon. Perhaps bits at a time, but I’m already leafing through it on my to see the much-loved and remembered illustrations.
A bit of a side trip to North Wales
In searching for The Scottish Chiefs, other stories … family stories … began to clamor to make themselves heard in my consciousness. When I read about Edward – Wallace’s mortal enemy – I remembered my Nana telling tales about our Welsh ancestors. From what she had said, I recalled some arrived in Wales as Edward’s emissaries, while others fought against him. (You might say my family was and is complicated!)
I’ve always wanted to research my family’s history, not so much for genealogical reasons, but because there are so many wonderful stories about them. My Nana was the keeper of these stories and, as she was my babysitter for many afternoons while my mother worked, she told me all kinds of wonderful tales. But she never wrote them down.
When I look back on that time, I remember sitting there on summer afternoons after watching soap operas with her, listening and absorbing facts about pretty remarkable men and women, whom she brought to life. No one else in my family had much interest in this, so years later, I’d research for a bit and then, other priorities would take over.
Visiting North Wales the ancestral home of one branch of the family was inspirational. Many of the people Nana had given life to still resided there, not physically, but in memories of the inhabitants. Many of the places the family lived still stood, but the last family direct member had died a few years earlier. Though I’m sure many cousins, many times removed, also were about.
When I returned to the states I researched a bit at the NYPL. I loved going there, filling out the call slips, and reading each page carefully making notes in pencil from books that were, well, rare.
I haven’t done much research about this this in quite a few years, but thought today, I would just Google a bit. Several hours later, I’m amazed because many of the books I used for primary research are available through Google books, with several downloadable for free as ebooks or PDFs, while others are computer reads only.
Perhaps it is now time to tell the story of this family that’s been begging for my attention for so long. Thanks to a detailed genealogy that someone posted, I finally was able to exactly trace how some of the more illustrious relatives that populated the family tales were related to my direct ancestor. I always thought Nana exaggerated, but she hadn’t.
I adore the fact that my direct ancestor, who came over with Governor Nicholls, was the winner of the first sporting trophy in America in a horse race at Hempsted. The family romance of that story is that his daughter (my ancestress), years later, married the heir of that Dutch silversmith. I have a few examples of his father’s work and it is amazingly beautiful.
Perhaps its because my Nana was able to bring these people to such vivid life that I feel almost their physical presence when I think of them. I’m not sure if how successful I’ll be, but I think in the next year or so, their story may emerge on paper. I hope that makes them happy!
Now, if only the Welsh wore kilts!
Are you ROYAL, an OPERATIVE, or member of a RETINUE?
Take this fun quiz and find out what type of historical romance heroine you might be.
Make sure to add these fun and fabulous titles by Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister, and Shana Galen to your bookshelf to find out how your historical heroine fares.
Quiz: Which Type of Historical Romance Heroine Are You?
#1 What word best describes you?
b) nonconfrontational (mostly)
#2 My favorite hobby is …
a) comparative study of the male form
b) looking after my darling baron
c) target practice
#3 What is the perfect late night snack?
a) bread, cheese, meats, lemon tarts … whatever can be liberated from the kitchen
b) the baron’s kisses
c) ratafia, shaken not stirred
#4 My ideal man must have …
a) a sublime derriere
b) an aptitude for growing hardy, contrary flowers
#5 What accessory do you never leave home without?
a) my corset (large bosoms are such a trial)
b) my composure
c) my pistol
*** If you choose mostly As …then you are as sparkling and resourceful as Her Serene Royal Highness Dagmar from The Truth About Leo by Katie MacAlister Dagmar may have been raised in a strictly formal manner, but she’s never let that stop her from pursuing anything that catches her interest. She’s a bit quirky, marches to her own drummer, and has a fine, fine appreciation of the manly form.If you choose mostly Bs …then you are clearly the stuff a baroness is made of, much like Millicent, from The Traitor by Grace Burrowes. Milly is sweet, fierce, determined, and brave but slow to trust. Sebastian, Baron St. Clair, is ALSO sweet, fierce, determined and brave, and relentless when it comes to protecting those he cares for. Alas for both Sebastian and Milly, an enemy stalks them who is not sweet. By the time Milly is done with Sebastian’s enemies, they are not very brave either. So if you chose mostly B’s, the bad guys better steer mighty clear of you!If you choose mostly Cs…then you are equipped to be a master spy like Jane Bonde from Love and Let Spy by Shana Galen. Jane is smart, cunning, and loyal, but she has her weaknesses too. Her latest weakness goes by the name Dominic Griffyn. Planning a wedding and defeating a villain intent upon the destruction of England is tricky, but if you’re the sort who multitasks easily, then you too have Jane’s unique skills and panache.***ENTER THE GIVEAWAYa Rafflecopter giveaway
ABOUT THE TITLES
PREORDER FROM AMAZON
THE TRAITOR (Captive Hearts #2) by Grace Burrowes
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402294990 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes delivers a passionate, danger-filled Regency romance…
The past will overtake him…
Abandoned in France since boyhood, despite being heir to an English barony, Sebastian St. Clair makes impossible choices to survive a tour of duty in the French Army. He returns to England hoping for the peaceful life of a country gentleman, though old enemies insist on challenging him on the field of honor, one after another.
But this time, he will not fight alone…
Millicent Danforth desperately needs her position as companion to the Traitor Baron’s aunt, but grieves to learn that Sebastian must continually fight a war long over. As Sebastian and Milly explore their growing passion, they uncover a plot that will cost Sebastian his life and his honor, unless he does battle once more-this time in the name of love.
PREORDER FROM AMAZON
LOVE AND LET SPY (Lord and Lady Spy Book #3) by Shana Galen
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402291739 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014
Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde…
A beautiful and eligible member of the ton, Jane has more than a few secrets: she’s one of the Crown’s most elite agents. She may be deadly, but she doesn’t know a thing about fashion, flirtation, or love…until Dominic Griffyn shakes up her carefully stirred world and asks her to be his bride. He’s exactly the kind of man she’s not looking for. And he’s dangerous, because falling into his arms is so much more satisfying than saving England from her enemies.
He’s an improper gentleman who needs a wife…
Tall, dark, and tortured, Dominic Griffyn is haunted by demons from his past. When his stepfather insists that he marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde might help him forget his troubles. As they grow closer, it’s clear that there’s more to Jane than danger. She might be just what his neglected heart needs.
Praise for Lord and Lady Spy:
“Lively, utterly delightful adventure romance.” -RT Book Reviews, 4 stars
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THE TRUTH ABOUT LEO (Noble series #4) by Katie MacAlister
Sourcebooks Casablanca | ISBN 9781402294457 | $7.99 | Pub Date: Aug 5, 2014
The much-anticipated, brand-new Regency romance from New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister.
Can Dagmar flee Denmark
Dagmar Marie Sophie is a poverty-stricken Danish princess whose annoying royal cousin is about to have her stuffed away in a convent. When she finds a wounded man unconscious in her garden, she sees a way out of her desperate situation.
By Lying to Leo?
Leopold Ernst George Mortimer, seventh earl of March, and spy in the service of the king, finds himself on the wrong end of a saber and left for dead. He wakes up not remembering what happened…in the care of a beautiful woman who says she is his wife.
Back in London, Leo-with the help of his old friends the eccentric Britton family-sets out to unravel what he’s forgotten… Is Dagmar truly the wonderful, irrepressible woman who makes his heart sing, or is she a dangerous enigma bent on his destruction?
When I first arrived in Paris, as a rather naive graduate student, I was accompanied by my mother. We began walking the arrondissements and at a certain moment she looked at me and said, “You haven’t looked at the map once. You know where you’re going. How are you doing this?” Well, I couldn’t really answer her as my feet and heart just knew the rues as though they’d always walked them. Yes, Paris is my heart home.
I have that same reaction when I read books about the Deep South – Savannah, Charleston, the Blue Ridge Mountain area. And although I’ve never visited there, I know that when I do, my feet and heart will already know their appropriate paths.
Texas is another place that I feel kindred to. I’m not sure whether it’s because of my father’s tales of when he lived in West Texas or the number of books I’ve read since childhood that feature stories about Texas and Texans, but there is something about that state that calls to me.
When I was perusing books to review, Lisa Fain’s new cookbook The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours called out to me – and I answered that summons immediately.
From the moment I began reading, Lisa Fain’s welcoming introduction connected with my heart. This isn’t just a cookbook to follow, but a love letter to the generations of Texans before her who have passed along their treasured recipes.
“There’s this recurring dream that I have. I’m in a field – my great-grandma’s Texas cornfield to be exact. A long table loaded with dishes, bowls, and platters full of good food stretches through the green stalks, and surrounding the table is most everyone I’ve ever known, both family and friends. My great-grandmother is there, and she waves me over. ‘Mighty fine food and mighty fine people to eat it!” she says as I take a seat. I then begin to eat a most memorable meal.” – from Lisa Fain’s preface to The Homesick Texan’s Family Table
By sharing these recipes – and her wisdom – Fain is creating a way for us to create our “most memorable meals” and transmit some Texas generosity and love to our friends and family. With each page I turned and recipe I read, I had to hold myself back from running into the kitchen to create some of this down home love.
May I say that this is one of the most beautifully and lyrically illustrated cookbooks I’ve read in quite a while. Personally I’d love some of the photos to frame and hang, not only in my kitchen, but throughout my home. They are that beautiful. It’s not surprising how well they integrate with Fain’s stories and recipes as she’s taken each one.
As I continue to read her introductions to each section I fall a bit more in love with this homesick Texan’s way of expressing herself. I’d advise you to pick up your own copy of this cookbook, not just for the recipes, but for Fain’s stories, like the one she that she relates introducing her tweak on Uncle Austin’s Blueberry Granola.
“When I was working on my first book, Austin told me the most important thing was to have fun while I was writing it. If you are having fun, he said, then those who cook from it will have fun, too.” – from Lisa Fain’s preface to The Homesick Texan’s Family Table
Her uncle taught her well, as each recipe that Fain has shared bubbles with happiness and, yes, fun. These are dishes that you’ll make time and again, and I relish her kitchen advice about kitchen equipment must-haves. She too uses her heritage cast-iron skillet for “just about everything – from deep-frying to sautéing to even baking.” This is my favorite kitchen item as well and knowing that she creates many of these recipes, using just that, made my day.
In fact, Fain takes a lot of the fear and mystery out of food preparation when she shares that her kitchen is so small that:
“If I stand in the middle of it, I can spread my arms and reach the outer boundaries on each side. There is one counter, a stove, and a narrow, shallow sink. There is no dishwasher, there is no walk-in pantry, and while there is a refrigerator, it doesn’t fit in the space allotted and instead is halfway in the kitchen and halfway in the living area, straddling the border of both.” – from Lisa Fain’s About the Recipes section in The Homesick Texan’s Family Table
Reading that excerpt, don’t you feel reassured as a breath of relief and inner confidence imbue you? Why if she can cook these recipes in a tiny kitchen, not a restaurant-ready Top Chef kitchen, well, perhaps they can be re-created at home by you and me. And they can.
That’s the magic about this cookbook, as it contains recipes that have been around for generations, but are now updated and slightly tweaked by Fain for the way we live today. She seeks out fresh ingredients (I see myself haunting the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning) and even includes a recipe for home made chili powder that I can’t wait to try.
I love the fact that she shares some of the places beyond family and friends that she’s found recipes, like her Creamy Macaroni and Cheese that is based upon a trick she found in a Texas Junior League cookbook. I’ve found a heart soul sister, as one of the things I most love to do is to haunt library sales and second hand bookstores in search of those quirky fundraising community recipe collections that feature favorites from church ladies, Junior Leagues, granges, and other community organizations.
Speaking of which, I have both a digital copy of The Homesick Texan’s Family Table as well as a hardcover edition. As you know, I’m all about eBooks here, but I’m going to be absolutely honest. I would advise you to buy the hardcover. It’s just that beautiful. I’ll use my eBook, Kindle version for everyday cooking, while the hardcover will reside on my kitchen’s cookbook shelf to be brought out, time and again, when I seek a bit of inspiration, comfort, or just want a little of that happiness that Fain shares with her readers (and not get smudged with cooking detritus).
Were I to pair Fain’s recipe collection with some novels, a few authors spring to mind. Diana Palmer and her Texas biscuit-loving Hart brothers for one. (I love the fact that Lisa Fain cuts her biscuits with the metal closure from a Mason jar. Just brilliant and illustrated so beautifully in a photograph.) Having just read Melissa Cutler’s Catcher Creek series, I immediately thought of chef Amy Sorentino from The Trouble With Cowboys (Catcher Creek Book 1)
So if you love not only to cook, but to read about the wonders and joy of sharing food with family and friends, then Lisa Fain’s The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours is a must-read. If you are drawn to Texans, ranchers, and cowboys, add it to your TBR shelf. (Yes, Fain recreates a Cowboy Chili that sounds truly authentic and perfect for a cold winter night – or while out on the range during a roundup.)
In addition, I’ll be following Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan blog, http://www.homesicktexan.com, because just like I know when I’ve found a heart home, in Fain I’ve found a cooking heart soul sister.
“And that’s what The Homesick Texan’s Family Table is all about-making memories at the table with those whom we love. No matter if they are memories of sitting together for a simple weeknight dinner or jostling for space during a large holiday gathering, some of my fondest moments have occurred a the family table.” – from Lisa Fain’s introduction to The Homesick Texan’s Family Table
From the Publisher:
The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours by Lisa Fain
Ten Speed Press (Random House)
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
From beloved food blogger Lisa Fain, aka the Homesick Texan, comes this follow-up to her wildly popular debut cookbook, featuring more than 125 recipes for wonderfully comforting, ingredient-driven Lone Star classics that the whole family will love.
There are few things finer than a delicious, homemade meal shared with family and friends. Take it from Lisa Fain, a seventh-generation Texan who loves to cook and serve up the best dishes her home state has to offer—even though she now lives half a country away.
The Homesick Texan’s Family Table showcases more than 100 of Lisa’s best and most-loved recipes, ranging from down-home standards (think cheesy nachos, comforting chicken and dumplings, and fiery wings) to contemporary riffs on the classics (who knew adding Mexican spices to a German chocolate cake would taste so good?).
All of Lisa’s recipes are made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, yet still packed with real Texas flavor that will make your grandmother smile. Whether you’re looking for a party-friendly snack like Pigs in Jalapeño Blankets, a Mustard Coleslaw to bring as a side to your next potluck, a weeknight- and family-friendly meal like Steak Fingers with Cream Gravy, or a mouthwatering dessert like Ruby Red Grapefruit and Pecan Sheet Cake, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table has you covered. After all, with some mighty fine food and mighty fine people to enjoy it, any meal can be cause for celebration.
I received this book from Blogging for Books and NetGalley for this fair and honest review.Kimberly Kincaid is a fabulous foodie romance writer and I’m so glad she can join us for our second Tasty Tuesday.
If you’re not familiar with Kimberly’s books, her romances are sexy, fun, and sprinkled throughout with all the details foodies enjoy and her heroines and some of her heroes usually are involved in the food industry.
Don’t forget to hop on over the the Meet & Greet Giveaway Hop to enter today’s daily giveaway for your chance to win DRAWING THE LINE, the second title in Kimberly’s fun, sexy, foodie series, THE LINE. If you’d like to sample Kimberly’s books, right now LOVE ON THE LINE is offered for FREE!
Kimberly, I’m turning the blog over to you. Thank you again for joining us. Have fun!
FOOD IS LOVE
In my personal life and in my writing, I live by the mantra “food is love”. So it’s no great surprise that many of my character have professions in the culinary field, and that they all end up touched by food in some way. But you don’t have to be a chef or a foodie to play along.
In my digital novella, LOVE ON THE LINE (the first in the “line” series), my hero Noah is a rough, gruff cop, a pure takeout food junkie…until he is injured on the job and must rely on a personal chef to keep him from starving. In the story, they make chicken and dumplings together, and it’s a perfect learn-your-way recipe. It’s a warm, satisfying meal, and there’s room for both creativity and a little error (it doesn’t have to be pretty to taste good!) But the beauty of it is, as Noah and chef Violet cook, they’re not just creating a way to feed their bodies, but coming up with a way to nourish themselves (and eventually, each other). And what starts out in the kitchen ends up in the heart.
This carries over through all the “line” books, although Violet is the only actual chef. In book two, DRAWING THE LINE, much of the story revolves around Mac’s Diner and its home-loving owner, Serenity (her signature dish is apple turnovers, and her hero, Jason, is a big fan!) Mac’s is a central gathering spot throughout the series, and the restaurant manager, Jules, gets her happily-ever-after with ER doctor Blake over stuffed French toast in OUTSIDE THE LINES. And just to add something sweet to the mix, candy shop Luscious appears in book four, the recently released PUSHING THE LINE, where reluctant owner Harper serves up all sorts of delectable recipes as she discovers true love with Blake’s cousin, Aaron.
Food is love, indeed!
Violet Morgan’s Chicken and Dumpling Stew
Ingredients:1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon thyme
A pinch to ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
1 8-ounce package sliced baby Portabella mushrooms, wiped clean
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 32-ounce container chicken stock
1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-sized chunks
2-3 cups mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots, small broccoli and/or cauliflower florets, and of course, for Noah, peas. Frozen works just fine, but fresh is okay too
1 cup all-purpose baking mix (for biscuits and pancakes and the like)
1/3 cup milk
½ Tablespoon parsley 1 teaspoon thyme
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until it ripples. Add onion, ½ teaspoon thyme, and nutmeg, cooking until soft and stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic.
Cook 4-5 minutes more, until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle flour over mixture and incorporate well. Slowly add broth. Bring to a low boil, stirring often.Add chicken and vegetables. As stew comes back to a boil, combine baking mix, milk, parsley and 1 teaspoon thyme in a bowl. Drop in level tablespoonfuls into the simmering stew and reduce heat to low.
Cover the Dutch oven and cook fifteen minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with nice crusty bread for dipping and a green salad (just don’t tell Noah there are greens!)
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the
difference between sexy and sweet. When she’s not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as “The Pleather Bomber”, she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love.
Her digital “line” series is all about the hot cops and sexy chefs of
Brentsville, New York. She is also thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington books, to be followed by her first full-length print novel, Turn Up the Heat and Gimme Some Sugar.
Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook (www.facebook.com/kimberly.kincaid1) and Twitter (@kimberlykincaid).
ADD THE LINE SERIESBY KIMBERLY KINCAID TO YOUR BOOKSHELF
The Line Collection: Love on the Line/Drawing the Line/Outside the Lines/Pushing the Line
Love On The LineViolet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s as if insult and injury have joined forces— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve in the kitchen, but can she put love on the line?
Drawing the LineWhen Detective Jason Morgan is tasked with keeping a local restaurant owner safe as part of a make-or-break case, he rises to the challenge. The job is his first priority, and he owes it to the memory of his father, a detective killed in the line of duty, to do it at any cost. But Jason never expected Serenity Gallagher to be so beautiful, so serious…or so tough to protect.
Serenity has moved from place to place at the whim of her capricious mother all her life. The last thing she wants is to leave the diner she finally calls home, even if it means being stuck with a sexy blue-eyed detective. But she’s the only witness to a horrible crime, and the man behind it wants her very, very dead. Going into protective custody means survival, no matter how much Serenity hates hiding.
As Jason and Serenity bide their time together, they are shocked to discover they have much more in common than the surface reveals. But keeping her safe is Jason’s number one priority, no matter how much he’s drawn in by the woman beneath the witness, and Serenity’s past makes it difficult to trust. As the stakes get higher and the spark burns hotter, can Jason and Serenity draw the line?
Outside The Lines As an Ivy League ER doctor who eats double shifts for breakfast (and lunch…and dinner), Blake Fisher has little appetite for anything other than work. Being on the staff at Brenstville Hospital means taking care of people, a need Blake understands all too well from losing his brother to cystic fibrosis eight years ago. When he’s asked to coordinate a carnival fundraiser for the cause, he jumps at the chance to help others with the disease…until it lands him side by side with the one woman he never thought he’d see again: his ex-fiancée.
Streetwise and rough around the edges, Jules Shaw is no stranger to earning a living through hard work. But when her job as the restaurant manager of Mac’s Diner puts her shoulder to really broad shoulder with Blake Fisher, she nearly balks. She’d rather dodge and deflect than admit the real reason she broke things off, but the catering contract for the carnival means big business for Mac’s, and feeding people is Jules’s lifeblood.
As Blake and Jules join reluctant forces, they quickly rediscover the spark between them. But the possibility of a future together hinges on coming clean about the past, with potentially devastating consequences. Can Blake and Jules overcome their drastically different backgrounds and learn to love again, or will they always be outside the lines?
Pushing The Line
Free-spirited artist Harper McGee is happy to go wherever the wind takes her…until her flight pattern sends her back to Brentsville, New York for her beloved grandmother’s funeral. Harper’s grief turns to shock, however, when she discovers her grandmother has named her sole proprietor of her candy shop, Luscious. But she has no intention of being anchored to one place, and anyway, she doesn’t know the first thing about running a kitchen or a business. Selling Luscious is the only viable option— until the shop catches fire due to old wiring. Fixing the damage requires major work, and if Harper wants to put it on the market, she needs major help.
Thrill-seeking firefighter Aaron Fisher has never walked away from a challenge or a friend. So when a fellow firefighter is hurt on a call and can’t complete a side job for his contracting company, Aaron’s quick to jump in. He’s done plenty of fix ‘er ups for his buddy in the past, and despite his silver spoon upbringing and his no-holds-barred attitude, swinging a hammer suits Aaron just fine. That is, until he discovers the client is the same impetuous woman he forcibly dragged from the flames of Brentsville’s local candy shop.
The more time Harper and Aaron spend at Luscious, the hotter their attraction burns, daring them both to shed their tough outer layers to reveal the tender desires beneath. But when a buyer makes Harper the offer of a lifetime, she must choose between roots and wings. Can two people who live in the moment learn to see past the moment, or will Aaron and Harper always live their lives pushing the line?*This post originally appeared on sister blog Loving Culinary and is reposted with permission of Kimberly Kincaid.Today’s spotlight is on a brand new digital-first imprint, three authors and their new YA paranormal fantasy titles chosen to debut Alloy Entertainment. If you love a good read or know a younger reader who loves romance, these would be a great selection for a summer day
From the press release: “Today, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, announced a digital-first imprint that will focus on young adult, new adult and commercial fiction. The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach.”
Alloy Entertainment acquired the books based on the unique voices of the authors and originality of the stories. The company worked closely with each of the writers throughout the publishing process in an effort to gain the widest possible readership. The books will be published under the Alloy Entertainment publishing banner, which currently includes more than 75 New York Times bestsellers.
“One of our strengths is working with talented authors to create and develop properties that have mass entertainment appeal,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President of Alloy Entertainment. “This program is an exciting extension of our business and will allow us to leverage Amazon’s ability to distribute to an incredibly diverse and broad readership.”
“Alloy has a tremendous track record developing stories, like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries, that our customers love,” said Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing. “We’re thrilled to promote these books from Alloy Entertainment with our Powered by Amazon program. It’s a great fit.”
Authors who publish with Alloy Entertainment’s new digital-first imprint receive an advance and royalties paid on a monthly basis. Alloy Entertainment will also look for opportunities to develop acquired titles as television series, feature films, and digital entertainment.
ABOUT THE TITLES
When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.
Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.
Purchase on Amazon
Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.
Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.
When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw-out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?
Purchase on Amazon
The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.
Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.
Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.
Purchase on Amazon
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Aimee L. Salter writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler. She never stopped appreciating those moments in the dark when you say what you’re really thinking. And she’ll always ask you about the things you wish she wouldn’t ask you about.
Aimee blogs for both writers and readers at www.aimeelsalter.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS | AMAZON
Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. Since 2011, she’s published more than eight YA & NA novels including the bestselling Dirty Blood series. She splits her time between coastal Virginia and the island of Guam and loves having a mobile career and outrageous lifestyle of living in two places.
Heather is also a publishing and success coach bent on equipping and educating artists who call themselves authors. She loves teaching fellow writers how to create the same freedom-based lifestyle she enjoys. For more information visit www.phoenixauthorink.com and find out how to create your own OutRAGEous Life.
You can find out more about her and her books at www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com
FACEBOOK | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS | AMAZONTracy Banghart is a cheesy movie-loving, fantasy football-playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.FACEBOOK | TWITTER | WEBSITE | GOODREADS | AMAZON
It’s always a happy day in my house when there is a new Jill Shalvis book to be read, but it’s a huge celebration when there is a new series to be enjoyed. Really. It. Is.
Earlier this month I saw that Jill had a new title, Then Came You
I snapped it up! Yes, she’s one of my must-buy authors and after my mini-celebration, I settled back to begin reading. But then I realized that this was book five in her Animal Magnetism series and I hadn’t read the previous four titles. Oh my, now I was celebrating big-time.
I know that Then Came You could be a stand-alone title, but why wouldn’t I want to read the four preceding stories and get the scoop on all the characters from Sunshine, Idaho. It’s Jill Shalvis. Small town romance. Humor to keep you laughing-out-loud for hours. Stories that center around animals, hunky vets, their family and friends. The question is not why would I read the four earlier titles, but why hadn’t I before! That situation was quickly remedied in one weekend.
I flew through books one to four. Fell in love with a pet duck (Animal Magnetism). Emphasized with Jade, while rooting for Dell (Animal Attraction). Cried a bit with Holly and Adam (Rescue My Heart). And totally lost my heart to Tommy, Kate’s younger brother, in Rumor Has It
I felt like I had moved to Sunshine, Idaho, by the time I began reading book five, Then Came You. I think my golden retriever and four cats would like to visit Drs. Dell and Wyatt. Yes. I. Do. (And I wouldn’t mind seeing them myself!)
Then Came You sets up that perfect oops moment when two people who never thought they’d see one another again wind up working together for a year.
Yes, what happened in Reno didn’t stay in Reno. (Perhaps the vet conference should have been held in Las Vegas.) Veterinarian intern Emily arrives in Sunshine, Idaho, already out-of-sorts and literally counting the days till her year internship is finished. She had hoped for the more glamorous slot in LA, where she’d be tending star’s teacup dogs, instead of getting down-in-the-dirt with livestock at a ranch.
Her year only became harder when she realized Wyatt, her new boss, was her hook-up from Reno. They hadn’t exchanged last names. They didn’t intend seeing one another again. But it seems neither one could forget the other.
I really enjoyed this story and thought Wyatt was almost perfect. Why? His two sisters had already trained him in most things woman related. Their interactions were wonderful as was Emily’s with her sister. As with Rumor Has It, the families were as central to this story as the main protagonists.
Once again I found myself laughing-out-loud with situational humor that Shalvis writes so well. The pages also scorched my Kindle a bit as Emily and Wyatt’s relationship progressed. The Kleenex box came out at the end of the story, as it does quite often with Shalvis. She’s an author who knows how to give her readers an all-encompassing emotional ride, and have them line up eagerly for the next.
I highly recommend the Jill Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series and Then Came You. Jill Shalvis ROCKS!
From the Publisher
Animal Magnetism, Book 5
Then Came You by Jill Shalvis
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Veterinary intern Emily can’t believe she wound up in the small town of Sunshine, Idaho, instead of the Los Angeles clinic she had always imagined. Now she has to put her plans to move to L.A. on hold for a whole year while she fulfills the obligation of her vet school scholarship.
Then Wyatt, her gorgeous one-night stand from a Reno vet conference, introduces himself as her new boss. And Emily is just as drawn to his seductive looks and quiet strength as she was on that very steamy night. She soon learns that Wyatt isn’t just a laid-back doctor, but a delicious alpha male tempting her away from her carefully laid-out plans…
You don’t know what I’m talking about? Really? Come on.
I know you’ve imagined yourself alongside of some of those alpha guys we all love to read about . . . and there are so many wonderful ones to choose from.
How can any guy I meet live up to my fictional boyfriend(s)?
Really this male harem that lives in my mind is FINE and once these guys get over whatever hang up that has precluded a relationship in the past – they’re all in by the time the last page is turned. That’s why I love HEAs (and why I balk at reading serial stories that take two or three books to get to that resolution).
One thing I do shudder a bit about is the book boyfriend who’s sharing his love all over the place – without discernment or discrimination. I guess, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone being his HEA then running into all his past one-night-stands forever and ever.
Plus, since my book boyfriend always winds up with the kick-ass, intelligent heroine, I wonder a bit about her. Because if I were to meet my book boyfriend in real life in a bar (a popular bookish trend) and see him hook up with all and sundry, before he discovers *me,* would I really be drawn to him? Trust him? Think about having a relationship without making him have blood tests immediately?
Ummm, no. I wouldn’t. Plus, in real life, those guys tend to be a full of themselves and a bit sleazy, while my book boyfriend always has a sensitive side that, perhaps, only the heroine can discover.
That throws up a question. Who then is my real hero? My real book boyfriend? Because I do like those bad boys (in books and in real life), but I think I’m a girl who wants a bit more.
When I posed this question on Facebook, one of my author friends said that there is sometimes a shorthand used to create the bad boy alpha guys that we all love.
I don’t mind the shorthand. I get the point. But I do want to read the story by the writer who’s creating the bad boy alpha as a three-dimensional book boyfriend. Showing the reader and his book girlfriend who he really is inside. Why he’s hesitant and/or fearful of a relationship. What his trigger points are. Why he’s breaking a lifetime trend and finally seeing that a relationship with his book girlfriend is possible.
What I don’t want to read is the simple explanation that he’s had a bad childhood and can’t commit. Many of us have had less than sterling childhoods, teen hoods, adulthoods, but we manage to function pretty well … most of the time.
Unfortunately I’ve read quite a few titles in the last year that don’t really explore the characters psyche or tend to go with the most shorthand of shorthand explanations, figuring that we as readers know what’s up. Well, we do and we don’t.
The writers I love take me into the characters journey so that alongside them I can feel their pain, their joy, and their inner discovery of trust. And I totally celebrate them.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that my book boyfriend might be a bit of a scoundrel, but he’s not an out and out man whore. That he might be emotionally unavailable at the beginning, but through the course of the story he learns to open up and trust. That he’s strong, intelligent, maybe has a few tattoos, wears a Stetson, three-piece suit or leathers. He doesn’t have to be wealthy, in fact I’d prefer that he’s not a billionaire. Really. I. Would.
What’s most important are the things that make that HEA possible. That he’s truly in love with his book girlfriend. That he has a sense of humor and can laugh at himself. That he’s confident in some aspect of his life and shares that confidence with his book girlfriend. That he can open himself up to her supporting him. That they can grow old together.
Now if only I could find him in real life, because my book boyfriend harem is stacked with candidates in stories I’ve read just in the past few weeks by Lara Adrian, Maya Banks, Melissa Cutler, Lilian Darcy, Laura Florand, Rachel Grant, Cristin Harber, Kristan Higgins, Lisa Hughey, Skye Jordan, Donna Kauffman, Adrianne Lee, Lora Leigh, Ava Miles, Elisabeth Naughton, Katie Reus, Jill Shalvis, to name just a few.
So, who are some of your book boyfriends? And why?
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