Tag Archives: Feel-good romance

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you feeling the luuuurve? Or are you suffering a touch of the bah humbugs over the day?

I’m on holidays so I’m most definitely feeling loved up. Er…*cough*… I’m not sure that came out quite right. I meant I’m feeling relaxed and happy with the world. Not the… um… you know, which is not something I want to talk about or you want to hear!

Okay, let’s start again.

Welcome to this Valentine’s Day version of Friday Feast featuring a lady who knows all about heart flutters, in more ways than one!Photo of Amy Andrews, author

But first, because I just know you are fascinated, this week’s edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite one day of brilliance, I’m losing the Great Murray River Challenge miserably. I swear my other half is cheating on his scorecard. Either that or he has snuck death-seeking balls into my bag. On the other hand, I’m having fun so not all is lost.

Now back to my guest. Amy Andrews has published forty books. Yes, FORTY. And if that isn’t enough, she’s been nominated for FIVE Australian Romance Readers Awards this year. Fortunately Amy is also a most excellent lady and we love her, despite her clear penchant for overachievement and making the rest of us look bad.

Amy’s latest release (and ARR Award nominee in both the Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero categories) is Holding Out For A Hero. Take a lookie…

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

 

Cover of Holding Out For A Hero by Amy AndrewsWhen sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

 

Now that sounds seriously sexy! And Jake and Ella can be all yours with just a clickety-click from Amazon (for your Kindle or Kindle reading app), iTunes, Google Play and Kobo. It’s on my e-reader. Go and put it on yours!

Now come blow kisses at Amy. She has chooocooolate!

 

Claytons Cooking Part 2 – The Valentine’s Day chapter

Or

My Cheating Heart

 

So, we’ve already established I’m not a cook. That I cheat in the kitchen – often. That I construct dishes from pre-made ingredients and kind of smash it all up to make something new and exciting.

Yep, that’s the way we rock in my house. And everyone’s still alive and adequately nourished.

Yes, I’m a fraud who does not belong on such a magnificent blog with people who make their own spaghetti sauce. From scratch…

But Cathryn likes to indulge me so I thought I’d treat you to another easy-peasy food construction tip for Valentine’s Day!

Now…Valentine’s Day means chocolate right? Well, you know, it means love and romance and all that good stuff too but let’s face it, we’re women, right?

So….back to chocolate.

How about this Valentine’s Day you surprise your lover with some home-made chocolates? Well, you know, home-made in the loosest sense of the word….

The first thing you need is some chocolate moulds. Now, I used to have a stack of plastic moulds that I bought from Robin’s Kitchen years ago when I did this kind of stuff with the kids. I’m sure I had hundreds of them. No, I do have hundreds of them. I just couldn’t find any today when I came to do this recipe…. We food constructors are also bad at keeping track of our kitchen stuff… So I popped out and bought a proper you-beaut sturdy petit four tin. Impressive right?

Amy Andrews's petit fours tin

Next you need chocolate. What? You didn’t think I was actually going to make the chocolate did you? Perish the thought! But I do advise you to buy the most expensive cooking chocolate you can find – might as well dazzle your significant other with the taste of it, right? I used Cadbury. It’s more expensive than most but worth it.

Photo of the chocolate Amy used

Lastly you need stuff to mix in to the chocolate. I’ve used pistachios, coconut, peppermint essence, sprinkles and cranberries. Also Cointreau and rum. Because alcohol. But you can use whatever you want – chilli anyone?

Ingredients for flavouring the chocolates

Now all you do is melt the chocolate. You can get really authentic and do it in a double bowl over a boiling saucepan of water but why? Throw it in the microwave and it’s melted in like 1 minute! Plus, no saucepan to wash up!  Pour the melted chocolate into the individual moulds about half way up. Add whatever bits and pieces you’d like to each one, give it a gentle stir then fill the rest of the way with more chocolate.

Petit fours tin filled with chocolates

Refrigerate!

The end.

And here’s what they look like after they’ve been chilled a while.

The finished chocolates on a plate

Now, if you want to make it really special you can find a cute box or some cellophane and present them nicely. Knowing my hubby he’d prefer me to line them up on his naked body and lick them off after they’ve oozed a little but, you know, whatever works for you! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a chance to win a digital copy of my Aussie romcom Holding Out For A Hero tell me – do you like chocolate? Got a favourite brand? Or do you prefer something non-edible for the big-day-of-lurve?

 

And a big chocolate-flavoured Valentine’s Day right back at you, Amy! I now have a fair idea of what you’re doing today. Don’t wear out your tongue!

*cough*

Oh, dear. We really are having one of those days on the Feast, aren’t we? Never mind. Valentine’s Day is but once a year. Next week we shall return to normal innuendo free programming.

But only after we’ve given away a Kindle copy of Holding Out For A Hero!

You heard Amy. Share your favourite chocolate or whatever turns you on for Valentine’s Day and you’ll go into the draw. Me, I have a deep, deep affection for Jeff de Bruge chocolates, a brand I fell for when we lived in France. Luscious little babies. My mouth waters just thinking of those truffles. Otherwise, feed me red wine.

What about you? Maybe you like to suck on a Lindt ball? Perhaps pink champagne is more your go? Or maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could receive is a promise to babysit and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST 18th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Ingrid who has won herself a copy of Amy’s Holding Out For A Hero. What fun she’ll have! Thanks to Amy and to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Kandy Shepherd

It is my great pleasure to welcome best-selling Australian romance author Kandy Shepherd to Friday Feast this week. Kandy head shot_2Kandy’s not only a lovely lady, she’s a wonderful writer whose debut release, Love Is A Four-Legged Word, was one of the nicest, most heart-warming romances I’ve read. But then how can anyone resist a story with dogs and chocolate? Not me, that’s for sure.

I’m a bit jealous of her, actually. I mean, Kandy is hugely talented AND lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains – gorgeous part of the world – with a menagerie of animal friends that include dogs and horses. Dogs, horses, mountains, writing. Sigh. Sounds so blissful… rather like one of Kandy’s fun, feel-good books!

Speaking of books, Kandy has a gorgeous new release to warm your heart. Check it out.

 

REINVENTING ROSE

 

 

KandyShepherd_ReinventingRose800When an internet love affair goes wrong, Rose straightens her hair and boosts her bra size—but she discovers it takes more than a makeover to find the courage to be her real self.

After 28-year-old schoolteacher Rose Butler flies to the other side of the world to meet the hot Australian guy she met online, their romantic reunion doesn’t go quite as planned. Stranded in Sydney, and too humiliated to return home to San Francisco, Rose decides to stay. She aims to shed her old image, and reinvent herself into someone tougher, smarter—maybe even wilder.

Help with her makeover comes from three unexpected new friends—Carla, the born-again-virgin beauty editor; Sasha, the out-of-rehab heiress; and Kelly, the high-flying model.

And then there are the men she meets—sexy bad-boy photographer Elliot; and Luke, the handsome doctor who may not be as straightforward as he appears. It might just be worth risking her heart again…

But as Rose throws herself headlong into her new life, she gets tripped up by a painful family secret and unresolved problems from her past. She’s forced to question her beliefs about love and loyalty, old mistakes and new choices, and the bonds of both family and friendship.

By reinventing herself, can Rose discover who she really is and face a fulfilling new future?

 

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have Reinventing Rose on my Kindle right now. And you could have it on your e-reader with just a clickety-click. Buy Reinventing Rose now from Amazon or Smashwords. Go on! You won’t regret it I promise.

Now please give a big whoop for Kandy. She has chocolate…

 

Triple The Fun

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on Friday Feast. I’ve read so many wonderful authors’ posts—and tried a few recipes—and it’s a thrill for me to be here.

During my career as a magazine editor, I enjoyed working with food editors, recipe writers, stylists and photographers. My interest in food has flowed into my books.

IMG_0820The heroine of Love is a Four-Legged Word Maddy Cartwright is a chef, aiming to be a magazine food editor and a TV chef. Her best friend, Serena Oakley, the heroine of Home Is Where the Bark Is is a hopeless cook, though she pretends to be otherwise—the hero is the cook in that book. The recipe I’m sharing below is for Maddy’s triple choc brownies, which play an important role in the book

Food isn’t such a focus in my new release Reinventing RoseI draw more on my experience as a beauty editor to help with the details of Rose’s makeover. I adore writing romance where the focus is on two people falling in love against the odds. But I also like writing about the other aspects of my characters’ lives—family, friends, career challenges—and this book gave me that opportunity.IMG_1885

There’s lots of talking about food in Reinventing Rose but not a lot of actual eating. Rose, the heroine, finds herself sharing an apartment with girls who are always trying various weight-loss diets, live on black coffee, or don’t eat much at all. Rose is a suburban girl at heart and is bemused by all this. The only substantial meals she gets are when the male characters are in charge!

300811_0032_1bReinventing Rose is very much a city book, set in Sydney. But it was mostly written in the country at our little farm in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

We bought the farm because of our daughter’s passion for horses. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot where I can indulge my interests in cooking and gardening when I’m not writing. I even have a wood stove that I haven’t quite mastered. Our chickens give us wonderful eggs and we’re getting quite good at growing vegetables and fruit, too.

These decadent brownies are a treat much requested by visitors to the farm—especially teenagers! (Rose’s flatmates would definitely not approve of the kilojoule count!)

 

 

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD

TRIPLE CHOC BROWNIES

 DSCF2905_2

Makes: 24 brownies

Time to prepare: 20 minutes

Time to cook: 35 minutes

Dont even think about the calorie count!

You will need:

250g unsalted butter, chopped

125g good quality dark or bittersweet cooking chocolate, (around 60% cocoa content is best) chopped

2 cups caster sugar

4 medium size eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

Pinch salt

125g macadamias, chopped

125g white chocolate chips

250g good quality milk chocolate for topping, cut into small chunks

Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180C or 170C for fan-assisted ovens.

1. Spray the bottom of a rectangular cake pan, (33 x 23 x 5cm) with cooking spray oil, then line with baking paper so paper hangs over edges of pan.

2. Heat butter in medium saucepan on very low heat until butter is half melted. Add chopped dark chocolate. Take off heat when chocolate is half melted, stir until completely melted and combine. Keep saucepan off the heat.

3. Stir in sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time, and stir mixture until it is glossy. Stir in vanilla.

4. Sift flour and cocoa together and add to saucepan. Mix until blended.

5. Stir in nuts and white chocolate morsels. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan.

6. Bake approximately 35 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Take out of oven. Randomly sprinkle surface with chopped milk chocolate chunks and lightly press down. Return to oven for one minute. Take out of oven for the final time.

7. Cool brownies in pan. Using edges of baking paper, lift onto board. Cut into small squares and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

TIPS

• Pecans or walnuts also taste great instead of the macadamias.

• You can use milk chocolate chips for the topping instead of chopped chocolate.

• The brownies freeze well, but wait until they’re defrosted before dusting with the icing sugar.

NOTE Australian standard measuring cups are used. (For overseas readers, there is not much difference between Australian and US measuring cups so the recipe should work well using them).

 

Oof! I think I’m putting on kilos just looking at that recipe! But what an absolutely gorgeous one it is. Thanks, Kandy. You’ve just made a whole bunch of people slobber on their keyboards.

Okay, feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite chocolate indulgence? Death By Chocolate? A plain piece of Lindt? Mousse? Good old Tim-Tams? Reveal yours and you could win an ebook copy of Reinventing Rose. Yes, we have a GIVEAWAY! But comment fast because the giveaway closes closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 23rd April 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

Mine chocolate indulgence is a truffle (or five) from Jeff de Bruge, a Belgian chocolatier whose chocolates I fell in love with when we lived in France. My mouth goes funny thinking about them. Those were the days, sigh. So ‘fess up. Kandy and I would love to hear your fantasies. Choccy ones, that is. You can keep the rest for those funny websites!

If you’d like to learn more about Kandy and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kaetrin who has won an e book copy of Reinventing Rose. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.