It’s that day of the week again, the one where we celebrate all things bookish and foody on the incomparable(!) Friday Feast.
I’m rather excited about this week’s guest too, because not only does she pen wonderfully warm and smile-inducing books, she’s a lovely lady as well.
And, STOP PRESS: She’s a Romance Writers of America RITA NOMINEE!
But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It was not my finest decision to attempt to walk 18 holes of golf in horrible humidity the afternoon after the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner. Ugly doesn’t even begin the describe my play. Balls were drowned in dams. Swear words were uttered. And if that wasn’t enough, a crow pinched my brand new ball on the fourth. Again. I’m really beginning to hate those birds…
Now onto the also incomparable Anne Gracie! Anne writes GORGEOUS historical romances that truly warm the heart. Her new series features the Chance sisters, with the second The Winter Bride just released. I finished reading the first, The Autumn Bride, only yesterday and can’t tell you the fun I had. Anne’s books make me smile. A lot.
Take a look at The Winter Bride. I so, so, so want to read this!
Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree uncomplicated fun.
Handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes —pursued by muffins, with a view to marriage — finds himself about to be trapped in an untenable situation by his match-making parents, and pays Damaris to enter into a faux betrothal. But then an accident throws them into a compromising situation, and they’re both forced to reevaluate their position.
Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?
With a 4 1/2 star Top Pick from Romantic Times, this is the second in the Chance sister’s series. Publishers Weekly called it “charming,” and Kirkus Reviews said: “A romantic winner, with Gracie’s typical witty charm and sweeping emotion.”
Seriously, if you haven’t tried Anne then you MUST. Her books are like warm cuddly blankets. You can buy the print version of The Winter Bride now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Bookdepository, Fishpond, Barnes & Noble or your local independent book shop or chain store. Purchase the ebook from Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook reseller.
Time for some fun with Anne. Enjoy!
Pursued By Muffins, With A View To Marriage
What’s that, you say? Pursued by muffins?
Yes, muffins. In the words of Freddy, my bad-boy hero in The Winter Bride, muffins are: “Females. Eligible females. Seriously marriage-minded eligible females, usually of the reforming type.” Here’s a taste of the Winter Bride:
Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. That was Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl thought he meant these blasted bun things. She had him served with them each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.
He picked up a muffin, hefted it lightly and eyed the fire with a narrowed gaze. It was a good blaze, strong enough to reduce a muffin to ash in a short time.
But would there be an incriminating smell?
He raised the muffin, aimed and was about to toss it in the fire when feminine footsteps sounded in the hall. He dropped the muffin, turned toward the open doorway and saw four smartly dressed females advancing toward him, smiling.
The hairs on the back of his neck rose. Why the devil were they grinning at him like that? What did they know? What did they want?
He had a powerful urge to flee.
So naturally when it came to deciding what food to talk about on Friday Feast, I had to choose muffins.
For a long time the only muffins I knew were the kind you toasted. My first experience of the other kind was many years ago when I was backpacking in the USA — I ordered a toasted muffin and coffee for breakfast.
The waiter eyed me suspiciously. “We don’t toast muffins.”
“Ok,” I said.
He came back with a large cupcake. “I didn’t order this,” I told him. “I asked for a muffin.”
He rolled his eyes at my ignorance. “Ma’am, that IS a muffin.”
So on with the recipe, and I’m sure there will be a few shrieks because actually it’s a friand recipe and I know a friand isn’t really a muffin, but… well, I made these and they’re yummy and easy and I did cook them in a muffin tray. And they look like muffins.
175g (1 1/4 cups) pure icing sugar
75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
155g (1 1/2 cups) ground almonds (hazelnuts are yummy too)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
180g butter, melted & cooled a little
150g frozen blueberries (or raspberries or any berries really)
2 tbs flaked almonds
(I was v. liberal with both the blueberries and the flaked almonds)
1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a muffin tray and dust with a little plain flour.
2) Sift icing sugar and flour, add the ground almonds, then stir in eggs and melted butter. Mix until just combined.
3) Stir in half the blueberries.
4) Distribute mixture between the muffin moulds. Plop a few remaining blueberries on top of each one and sprinkle with flaked almonds
5) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
6) You can dust them with icing sugar to serve, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
* For gluten-free types, I have made these with gluten-free flour and they’re just as yummy.
Thanks, Anne! Those friands sound delicious. And healthy, too. Anything with fruit has to be.
US cover for The Winter Bride
Just the thing to kick back with a book and a nice cuppa.
At the risk of doing another fangirl rave, I loved that excerpt from The Winter Bride. Freddy cracked me up in The Autumn Bride with all his muffin chatter. He sounds such FUN.
Oh, we love a generous author on Friday Feast and Anne is no exception. Here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of The Winter Bride. Simply answer this question: What is your favourite thing to have with a cuppa? Reply in the comments and you’ll go into the draw.
Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 1st April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!
If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her books – which you do! – please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @AnneGracie and Facebook.
Go Anne in the RITAs!
This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Tami who has won a copy of Anne’s The Winter Bride. A lovely reading time ahead! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. I hope you come back again for some more foody-booky goodness!