Tag Archives: Historical romance authors

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Unless I invite good writing buddies to fill in for me, as is the case today.

Historical romance author Anna Campbell is a regular on the blog with good reason—she’s lovely, likes a good a natter over a glass of fizz, and writes fabulous romances! If you haven’t picked up any of the books in Anna’s Dashing Widows series you’re missing out. They’re huge fun. But I have to say her newest release Stranded with the Scottish Earl sounds even more fun. There’s something about men in kilts…

Here’s Anna to tell you more about it. Make sure you read to the end. There could be a GIVEAWAY!

Author Anna CampbellHi Cathryn! Or should I say Och aye the noo, lassie?

Thank you for having me as your guest today. I’m so excited to be back here on your wonderful blog to talk about my latest release which, as you’ve probably guessed, has a Scottish flavour.

Haggis, bagpipes, hunky Highlanders, what’s not to like? Well, maybe the haggis…

Stranded with the Scottish Earl: A Regency Novella is out 30th June (it’s up for pre-order now). As you can tell with a title like that, it’s a complex political thriller. Nah, I’m having you on. It’s a fun romance featuring a Scotsman and a feisty English lassie who, you guessed it, get stranded together in a flood in Hampshire.

When roguish Scotsman Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, turns up on Charlotte Warren’s doorstep in the middle of a flood, he’s the last person she wants to see. Her father has decided Lyle will make her a wonderful husband, but resolutely independent Charlotte is having none of it. Until the weather traps them alone together in the house. Baby, it might be cold outside, but it’s sure heating up indoors!

The teaser takes place just after a passionate first kiss in Lyle’s borrowed bedroom.

 

“I don’t understand what happened,” Charlotte said dully.

“It’s quite simple.” Lyle pushed up until he sat beside her, leaning against the bedhead. “I wanted to kiss you the moment I saw you.”

Astonishment flared in her caramel eyes. And dangerous pleasure. He fought the urge to draw her back into his arms. He’d managed to stop once. Nothing on God’s green earth would restrain him if he succumbed to temptation a second time.

“But why did I let you?”

tranded with the Scottish Earl by Anna Campbell“Perhaps because we’re trapped here,” he said, knowing that the attraction went much deeper than mere propinquity.

“It must be more than that.” She studied him with a troubled expression. “I’ve never acted this way before.”

“I generally don’t leap on virtuous young women either,” he responded, stung.

“You seemed to know what you were doing.” It sounded like an accusation.

Lyle knew she picked a quarrel as a distraction. But he refused to oblige. He was experienced enough to know that a loss of temper would lead to a different loss of control. He stared into the fire and answered in a mild tone. “Does that mean you liked it?”

“I don’t have much to compare it to,” she muttered.

Shocked, he turned back to her. Shocked, and disgusted with himself. He’d jumped on her like a starving man snatched at a cheese sandwich. “You make me feel like a beast.” He paused as he pondered just what she’d said. “Much or nothing?”

She frowned at him. “What?”

“You said you didn’t have much to compare my kisses to.”

She blushed. “You have no right to ask that.”

“I had no right to kiss you either. Yet I did.” His gaze sharpened. “Who’s been trifling with your favors? And where do I need to go to kill him?”

She didn’t smile at his absurdity. Nor was he convinced he was joking. “I’ve been kissed before,” she admitted ungraciously. “It was…nice.”

A grunt of laughter escaped as he sagged with relief. “I don’t need to kill him after all. Heaven help your swains if that’s the best they can do.”

Miss Warren regarded him with displeasure. Thank God. He preferred her snap and fire to seeing her crushed with mortification.

“Your kisses weren’t nice.”

“I should hope not.”

“And I do wish you’d put a shirt on,” she said crossly, shifting to the edge of the bed but still—interesting again—without making any move to leave.

Feeling absurdly optimistic for a laddie who had been stopped in his wicked tracks, he rolled to his side of the bed and stood. The temptation of having her near tested what small restraint he retained.

 

Want a longer excerpt? You’ll find it on Anna’s website.

Stranded with the Scottish Earl is only 99 cents on Amazon.com. Talk about a bargain, so secure your copy today! You can also purchase from Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.

And now for an even more exciting bit. Yes, folks, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Anna says: I’ve got a Kindle download of Stranded with the Scottish Earl for someone who comments today. No geographical restrictions.

Do you like Highlander romances? Who’s your favourite Scottish hero?

Good luck in the draw!

And good luck from me too.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 1st July 2016. Open internationally.

tranded with the Scottish Eart by Anna Campbell banner

Remember, Stranded with the Scottish Earl is only 99 cents on Amazon. That’s a whole lot of kilted romance for less than a dollar, so pre-order your copy now.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except on the days when I invite good writing buddies to fill in for me, like today!

What a thrill it is to have Anna Campbell returning to Teaser Tuesday. Those of you who’ve been following my blog and social media for a while will know what a fan of Anna’s work I am. Her Regency romances are wonderful, loaded with great characters and filled with passion. I’m a particular fan of her novellas. They might be short but those babies sure pack emotional punch.

Here’s Anna to tell you about her newest release, Tempting Mr. Townsend. Can’t wait to get into this one. It sounds fab.

Oh, and make sure you read the post to the end. There could be a giveaway.

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today. I always love visiting your blog and I think a book called Tempting Mr. Townsend fits a spot called Teaser Tuesday to a T!

Author Anna CampbellI had huge fun writing my second Dashing Widows book, Tempting Mr. Townsend, especially its rough, gruff, heart-of-gold hero Anthony Townsend who comes from the wrong side of the tracks compared to delicate Lady Fenella. This is a bit of an opposites attract/Beauty and Beast story – two of my favourite tropes in romance. I love watching two people who start out with apparently nothing in common gradually reach an understanding as they fall in love.

This novella begins as a road trip to find two runaway schoolboys, but by the time we get to the excerpt, the boys are safe, but Fenella isn’t so sure that her heart is! The scene takes place in the library of Anthony’s newly acquired estate, the Beeches, on the night after their arrival.

 

Fenella threw her hands up. “Oh, you’re impossible. I’ll be glad to get back to my real life.”

“Will you?” Anthony asked softly.

Briefly she looked unsure, then her lush mouth firmed. “At least in Mayfair, I’m free of insane plutocrats and their persuasions.”

He laughed, enjoying himself. “Yet.”

He’d always intended to pursue her, but her confession of a weakness for him invited a more overt wooing. She was a grand little fighter, but he doubted she’d win when Anthony Townsend allied with her own desire against her.

Tempting Mr Townsend by Anna Campbell“There’s no point continuing. I’m tired, and you’re off your head. Good night, Mr. Townsend.” With an irritated swish of her skirts, she flounced off. He let her reach the door before he spoke. “Lady Deerham, there is one more thing.”

“What is it?” Annoyance roughened her voice.

A man of his size could cross the room in a few paces. He caught her arm and using her surprise, swung her around to face him. A gentle push and her back bumped against the closed door. “This.”

Furious eyes snapping blue fire focused on his face. “Mr. Townsend, just what on earth do you think you’re doing?”

“My dear Lady Deerham, surely it hasn’t been that long.”

“I’ll scream,” she warned, trying to slay him with her disapproval. Unfortunately for her, he found her spirit arousing. This close she smelled like a flower garden in spring. He drew that glorious scent deep into his lungs.

“I dare you.” One hand pressed her shoulder against the door while the other caught her chin to hold her still.

Not that she was struggling. Which was dashed interesting.

“You are the most provoking man,” she muttered.

“That’s insane plutocrats for you.” He hid a smile as anticipation made his blood rush. “Now stand still so I can kiss you.”

“Well, really,” she gasped before his lips stole her breath away.

©Anna Campbell

You can read a longer excerpt and the blurb on my website.

Tempting Mr. Townsend is only 99 cents on Amazon! Why not grab your copy today? Instant gratification could be yours. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or iBooks.

GIVEAWAY!

Two people who comment today will win a Kindle download of Tempting Mr. Townsend. No geographical restrictions.

I’ve told you that one of my favourite themes in a romance is Beauty and the Beast. What’s yours? Fish out of water? Friends to lovers? Cinderella? Secret baby? Cowboys? Sheikhs? Billionaires? There’s so many of them and they’re all great! Let’s talk classic romance tropes today on Teaser Tuesday.

Please Note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 18th March, 2016. Open internationally.

That’s TWO BOOKS UP FOR GRABS, dear readers. So get commenting and good luck!

The Dashing Widows series by Anna Campbell

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Unless I’m feeling lazy and invite good writing buddies to fill in for me, like today!

I’m very excited to show off a sample of historical romance author Anna Campbell’s new Regency novella. Not only do I adore her books, she’s huge fun at writerly get-togethers and is always up for a glass of fizz, which makes her very much my kind of person. Anna has won the Australian Romance Readers Awards Favourite Australian Romance Author so many times I nicknamed her the Romance Queen. A title. I must say, she wears magnificently.

Anyway, enough of me. Here’s Anna to tell you about her new release. This one sounds a hoot. Make sure you read to the end. There might be a special giveaway.

Author Anna CampbellHi Cathryn! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today.

Usually I’m drooling over the recipes on Friday Feast on your blog – it’s nice to be here for the low-calorie Teaser Tuesday spot! Snerk. Which doesn’t mean I plan on delivering one of those tasteless low fat cheese kind of teasers.

No, this one’s as full-blooded and swashbuckling as my hero in A Pirate for Christmas, my seasonal novella this year.

Actually Rory Beaton, the new Earl of Channing, isn’t a pirate – gossip just paints him as one. He is, however, neglecting his duties as lord of the manor and redoubtable vicar’s daughter, Bess Farrar, beards him in his den to point out his obligations – and to get permission to borrow his donkey for the annual nativity play.

Cue entry of mischievous donkey Daisy who was a lot of fun to write. Now, she really does have a pirate heart!

Here’s the first meeting between Rory and Bess – and if you catch a whiff of classic British comedy To the Manor Born, your nostrils are not deceiving you!

 

“If you leave a note, I promise to deliver it,” the man said.

Bess’s lips firmed as she shifted to find a comfortable spot on the unforgiving seat. The noble Earl of Channing didn’t want visitors settling in. Indications were that he didn’t want visitors at all.

Too bad for the noble Earl of Channing.

“So he can ignore it, the way he’s ignored my other correspondence?” she asked sweetly.

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Camobell coverThe studious-looking man avoided her eyes. “His lordship has been busy since taking over, Miss Farrar.”

Bess glanced around the dusty, empty great hall. “Not with domestic matters.”

“His lordship—”

His lordship stormed in.

At least Bess assumed that the disheveled auburn-haired man who crashed through the door at the other end of the hall must be Penton Abbey’s elusive new master. He stalked past her, brandishing a sheaf of papers.

“That blasted Farrar besom is hounding me again, Ned. I thought I asked you to put her off.” His Scottish brogue added an exotic edge to his heated remarks.

He didn’t see her as his long stride ate up the tiled floor. It would be hard to make out an army in this gloom, especially with the sky darkening for snow.

“Rory, for heaven’s sake,” the other man stammered, casting Bess an embarrassed glance.

Bess stood and performed a perfunctory curtsy. “Good afternoon, my lord.”

He turned on her. He was as tall as his friend, but much more heavily muscled. A more formidable character altogether, she could already tell. “Just who the devil are you?”

She permitted herself a cool smile. “I believe I’m the blasted Farrar besom.”

“Oh, hell,” he muttered, staring at her thunderstruck. He looked as shocked as if one of these iron-hard oak chairs had stood up, bowed and asked him to dance.

©Anna Campbell

You can read a longer excerpt and the blurb on my website.

A Pirate for Christmas is only 99 cents on Amazon! Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.au and Smashwords.

GIVEAWAY!

True to the tradition of Friday Feast, which I know this isn’t, do you have a favourite cheese? I must admit to a liking for brie and gouda.

Anna's favourite cheeses

I’ve got two Kindle downloads of A Pirate for Christmas: A Regency Novella to give away to people who share their cheesy stories today. Good luck!

Please Note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 6th November 2015. Open internationally.

That’s TWO BOOKS UP FOR GRABS, lovely readers. So get commenting!

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FRIDAY FEAST with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

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Hello munchkins, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week we travel back in time with an historical romance author, French it up, and give away TWO books. How’s that for warming your winter soul!

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As the sun continues to shine, so does my golf game continue to brighten. I know. AMAZING! I’ve been playing so well that I managed to drop a stroke off my handicap. I even won the ladies competition last week and qualified for an end of year district playoff event. Whoop! It won’t last, of course. The curse will undoubtedly return, but until it does I’m going to savour this good form while it lasts.

Enough crowing. To our guest we must go!

EECarterSX200_Please give a big welcome to historical romance author Elizabeth Ellen Carter on her debut Friday Feast. Elizabeth’s debut novel, the French Revolution era set Moonstone Obsession, was published in 2013 by Etopia Press. Earlier that year, the adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Her second novel, Warrior’s Surrender, was voted Favourite Historical Fiction in the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards.

Elizabeth has a new book out, a sequel to Moonstone Obsession and another action-packed historical adventure. Take a look.

MOONSTONE CONSPIRACY

Moonstone Conspiracy by Elizabeth Ellen CarterRevolution in France, rebels in England, and one woman caught in the crossfire…

For her unwitting participation in a plot to embezzle the Exchequer, Lady Abigail Houghall has spent the last two years exiled to the city of Bath. A card sharp, sometime mistress, and target of scandalous gossip by the London Beau Monde, Lady Abigail plots to escape her gilded cage as well as the prudish society that condemns her. But the times are not easy. France is in chaos. The king has been executed, and whispers of a similar revolution are stirring in England. And because of her participation in the robbery plot, the Spymaster of England is blackmailing her into passing him information about the members of London’s upper crust.

When the dashing English spy Daniel Ridgeway takes a seat at her card table and threatens to expose her for cheating, she has no choice but to do as he demands: seduce the leader of the revolutionaries and learn what she can about their plot. As she’s drawn deeper into Daniel’s dangerous world, from the seedy backstreets of London to the claustrophobic catacombs of a war-torn Paris, she realizes an even more dangerous fact. She’s falling in love with her seductive partner. And the stakes of this game might just be too high, even for her.

Doesn’t that sound fantastic? Having a soft spot for all things French, this is right up my alley and I bet it’s up yours too. Which means you should buy a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy right now! Try Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, All Romance Ebooks or direct from the publisher Etopia Press.

Now get your spoon out for Elizabeth’s delicious recipe!

Taking It Slow

At this time of year, time turns home and hearth, simple comforts that warm the heart and warm the soul.

I was guilty (perhaps still am guilty) of trying to do things in a rush – waiting for the next big project, the next excitement, the next thrill.

I am learning to slow down. Appreciate each moment for its own sake, valuing the here and now, knowing that this day, this hour, this second, once gone is gone forever.

One of the things I was guilty of taking a shortcut on was this ubiquitous dish. I didn’t treat it with respect. It was just something that came out of a pack – often as a flavouring for other dishes – Apricot Chicken, for instance.

French Onion Soup is simplicity itself, but taking the time makes you appreciate the little things.

One of the things you’ll need for this recipe is time, but that’s a good thing. In this fast-paced world we need to unplug from technology and spend time thinking, reflecting or even gathering the family or friends around the kitchen for a chat.

This French Onion Soup recipe is just the thing to bring people together.

French Onion Soup

Elizabeth Ellen Carter's French Onion Soup

60g butter

2 tbs olive oil

1kg thinly sliced brown onions (you’ll need about 8-12 depending on size)

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbs plain flour

4 cups beef stock

Weighing onions for the soupOnce you’ve sliced the onions, add your olive oil and butter. Wait for the butter to melt and start bubbling away.

Then add the onions (I use a mix of brown, white and red – whatever’s handy) and turn the heat down to medium-low.

Caramelising onions

It may look like a lot of onions but over the next 40-50 minutes they will break down, releasing beautiful aromatics that will have people wondering when dinner will be ready.

Chat, enjoy a glass of red wine (I prefer a dry Shiraz), but be sure stir the onions regularly

This step cannot be rushed. The onions need to wilt, brown and begin to caramelise.

Caramelised onions

Add the brown sugar to aid the caramelising process. The savoury of the onion and sweet of the sugar is just delicious.

After 10 minutes of stirring, add the flour to help add a little thickness to the soup. Stir for two minutes and add the beef stock.

Beef stock added to onions

Allow the flavours to combine on a low simmer for the next 15 minutes.

Serve with cheesy bread – but any bread will do. We had ours with olive sourdough. Delicious!

I’d like to give away a copy of Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession.

Just tell me what recipe brings your family together?

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Oh, I ADORE French onion soup, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. You are spot on about taking the time to caramelise the onions. That is definitely a stage that can’t be rushed. Hmm. I have a real hankering for this soup now. Might have to put it on this week’s menu!

By the way for anyone who’s interested and looking for a treat, if you happen to be in Melbourne check out Bistro Guillaume at Crown Casino. The French onion soup there is divine. Actually, everything at the restaurant is beautiful. I may have to sneak in a visit when I’m down for the Romance Writers of Australia conference this month.

Now, lovelies, did you see that Elizabeth has a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win an ebook copy of both Moonstone Conspiracy and Moonstone Obsession, simply reveal what recipe brings your family together.

Perhaps you have a favourite soup or maybe it’s the good old roast that makes you think family. I’m not sure we really have a recipe that gets our family together but you can’t beat a good old barbecue for family fun, burnt snags and all. And it saves on the washing up!

So what recipe or food gets your family together? Reveal all and you’ll be in the draw. Easy!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 11th August 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay. You can easily read ebooks on your phone, tablet or computer via any one of the many apps available.

If you’d like to learn more about Elizabeth and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @EECarterAuthor and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Alison Stuart

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Welcome to another mouth-watering edition of Friday Feast! This week, we’ll be exploring the delights of Belgium with a hugely talented historical author, salivating over a fruit dessert and offering you the chance to win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. So the new golf bag didn’t work either. I’m still playing like poo and my handicap is going out with every round. The glory days of the start of the year, where a single figure handicap seemed within reach, are now mere wispy memories. I have, it has to be said, descended back into the quagmire of hackerdom and become bogged.

But maybe this is only a winter anomaly? Maybe, come spring, things will change? Surely, if I’ve reached those heights before I can manage it again? There must be hope!

Author Alison StuartTime to move on to the real reason you’re here, because I’m certain it’s not the embarrassment that is my golf game.

Today’s guest is award-winning, cross-genre historical author Alison Stuart. If you haven’t read her novel Gather the Bones, then you’re missing out on a terrific read. I adored that book as did many others, which is why it was a finalist in numerous awards. Reflecting her background in the military and fire service, Alison has a predisposition to men in uniform (don’t we all!) and her latest follows that path.

Take a look at Lord Somerton’s Heir

LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR

Lord Somerton's Heir by Alison StuartCan the love of an honourable man save her from  the memory of a desolate marriage?

From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.

Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.

But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?

Ah, now doesn’t that sounds romantic? It can be yours with just a few clicks. Try Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? That’s the way! Here’s Alison.

It’s Tuesday – It Must Be Belgium

Ah, the culinary delights of travel!

My husband and I have just returned from 6 weeks in the UK and Europe and one of our favourite aspects of travel is food… and beer… and wine. We make a point of eating local food and drinking local brews, wherever possible (a visit to the Champagne region of France was particularly tough!). There were two destinations on our journey when this policy failed us – Copenhagen and Berlin where it seemed that the only eateries around where we were staying were provenders of every world cuisine – except the local. We ate noodles and Thai.

Inevitably our journeying footsteps take us through Brussels. Why? You may well ask. We have rather a soft spot for this quaint little town. My husband had several business trips to Brussels before I made it there so by that time he was well acquainted with the local cuisine and the best places to find it. Of course it helps that the local cuisine is beer and chocolate. We have only just finished the 1kg box of our favourite Corne Port Royale chocolates that we lovingly hauled back with us. When every second shop sells chocolate it pays to know the good ones and you know you’ve been to a city too often when you get annoyed that your favourite shop has moved!

Which brings me to beer. We have two favourite haunts… A La Mort Subite, a beer hall just off the Grande Place with wonderful arched mirrors, murals and brasswork. It opened in 1928 and nothing much has changed since, including the paintwork. In my book GATHER THE BONES, the characters have a brief interlude in Brussels, although, given the circumstances it is doubtful they visited beer halls, but I am sure Paul and Tony would have enjoyed a beer at La Mort Subite and not felt out of place or time. The speciality of LMS is the Lambic White Beer… and it HAS to be eaten with a plate of cheese, salami, gerkins and pickled onions – sprinkled with celery salt and eaten with mustard.

La Mort Subite, Brussels

On to La Becasse, another beer hall, discreetly tucked away and quite hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Here the decor is wooden panelling and brasswork – just wonderful on a cold night. In fact it was rather odd being in Brussels in warm weather… as all my previous trips had been in the cold. It is one place I distinctly prefer a little cold.

A popular haunt of students La Becasse was oddly deserted on our recent trip (exam season  apparently). We spent a pleasant evening working our way through the beer menu. Particular favourites are the Lambic Beer, the fruit beers (particularly the Kriek or cherry beer) and the wheat beers all served in fabulous blue earthenware jugs and accompanied by another plate of cheese, salami and little pickled onions. Who needs dinner?

But if you are on the hunt for real food, the Belgians are best known for their Moules Marinieres (not to be eaten in a month with no ‘R’), their Frites (potato chips) and Goffres (waffles) all served from ‘holes in the wall’ or street carts tucked into corners. Nothing like a warm goffre dripping chocolate on a chilly night while you admire the Mannekin Pis, which has to be world’s most underwhelming statue.

We only had one full day and we occupied that fully in a day trip to visit Waterloo, on a stuffy local bus. We missed the bicentennial of the battle by a week. I won’t bore you with that here – you can read about it on my own blog, but in recognition of this important battle, my ‘Waterloo Story’, LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR is on sale on Amazon and iBooks for this week at only .99c and I am also running a contest to win some Waterloo memorabilia. You can enter via Rafflecopter through this link… Click HERE to enter.

Author Alison Stuart at Waterloo

And now to my recipe… which is not, as far as I know, Belgian, but is a family favourite passed on to me by a dear friend when I got married (origin unknown).

NECTARINE NUT KUCHEN

(serves 8)

PASTRY

I cup (125g) plain flour

2 TBLSP castor sugar

30g finely ground almonds

60g butter

1 large egg

Grated rind 1 lemon

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Place flour and castor sugar with the almonds into a bowl. Add butter cut into small pieces and either process for a moment until crumbly or mix, using your fingertips.

Add the egg lemon rind and vanilla essence and mix until it binds together.

Remove and wrap well then chill for 30 minutes. Roll pastry out between some waxed paper or on a lightly floured board. Press into a tin (with removable base) or a form tin or a quiche tin, approx 20”. Butter the tin lightly on the base and sides. Having pressed the pastry into the tin, chill while preparing the fruit and topping.

FILLING

500g firm ripe nectarines or plums

1tblsp lemon juice

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cut the fruit into segments, removing the stone from each one. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the fruit is coated.

Place into the crust, pressing down lightly with a spoon to slightly flatten the top without crushing the fruit.

TOPPING

45g ground almonds

2 tblsp sugar

1 tblsp brown sugar

30g unsalted butter

Mix the almonds with both sugars. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork. The topping should be quite moist. Scatter this evenly over the top of the fruit.

Place in a moderate oven and cook for about 35-40 mins until pastry is golden and fruit is tender. Remove from oven, stand for 5 mins then cut into wedges and serve warm with cream.

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That sounds absolutely delicious, Alison! Anything with fruit in it is a house favourite and I adore being able to take advantage of a season’s abundance. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Did you read, Feasties? Alison is running a…

GIVEAWAY!

And it’s a really super-simple one too. No commenting – although we would love if you did – just a quick click then choose how many times you want to enter!

Visit Alison’s Rafflecopter giveaway today. Go on! You could win a swag of Waterloo memorabilia, including a reproduction of The Times with Wellington’s Waterloo despatch, a Wellington keyring, a Napoleon bookmark and other goodies.

ALISON STUART (1)

If you’d like to learn more about Alison and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @AlisonStuart14 and her blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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Hello lovelies, and welcome to another super-tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week, in a not-to-be-missed post, one of my absolute favourite historical romance authors shows off her gorgeous new release, gives you a step-by-step guide to jelly cake bliss, and generously offers a wonderful giveaway. So keep reading!

But first, the sigh-worthy saga that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. At last I’m home from South Australia and have managed to hit a familiar golf course with my own clubs. Author Anne GracieI was more than a bit fretful that some of Dad’s bad golfing juju might have followed me home and curled its sniggery, meddling self around my clubs but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Thank god. Then again, it could be simply biding its time. The curse is sneaky that way.

What is most definitely not sneaky is this week’s Friday Feast guest. She’s a joy! Multi-award winning and best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie is an auto-buy author for me. Her stories are charming, fun, emotional and absolute delights to read. If you’ve never tested the Regency romance waters, then Anne’s Chance Sisters series it the perfect place to start. The Autumn Bride and The Winter Bride were completely heart-warming and now book three in the series, The Spring Bride, has hit Australian shelves with US following shortly. It looks another beauty. Check it out.

THE SPRING BRIDE

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne GracieOn the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. Haunted by a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane is determined her own children will never suffer the same; she intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable–a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own.

If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined–and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I already have The Spring Bride loaded to my e-reader and with a few quick clickety-clicks you could have this charming book too. Try those good people at Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. Or visit Book Depository, Amazon.comAmazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, or your favourite book retailer.

All loaded up with some spring goodness? Great. Now get some jelly in your belly with Anne!

A Retro Wonder

I made these recently to take to a friend’s birthday party. I was going to make something savoury, but I’ve known this woman since she was 15, so I decided to make something fun and yummy and retro. They proved a big hit.

Cup cakes are very fashionable, but for my money these are more delicious and fun. And surprisingly easy to make. The hardest part is getting the jelly at the right texture, and that’s all a matter of timing. And I had to buy a new patty pan tin because Mum’s old one was all rusty.

Jelly Cakes

Makes up to 30 or more little cakes, depending how you fill the patty pans.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

The cakes:

60g butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 cup self-raising flour

2/3 cup milk

The coating:

85g packet raspberry jelly crystals (any flavour will work, though)

1 cup boiling water

2/3 cup cold water

3 cups desiccated coconut

The filling:

Lashings of whipped cream (a 300ml container of thickened cream is plenty)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 12 hole shallow patty-pan tin (1.5 tablespoon capacity) or a gem-iron pan. (If you don’t have one, a cup cake or small muffin pan might do)

2) Cream butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add in egg, a little at a time, beating until well combined.

3) With a big spoon, gently fold in half the flour and half the milk. Repeat until remaining flour and milk is used up.

Jelly cake batter

4) Spoon mixture into patty pans. Bake for 10 — 15  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cakes on a wire rack. (Cakes can be frozen in this state and kept for coating later.)

Jelly cakes ready to bake

Baked, un-iced jelly cakes

5) Make the jelly in a big shallow bowl. Stir jelly crystals and boiling water together until crystals are dissolved. Mix in the cold water. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until cold and slightly thick. (*This is the trickiest part. It needs to be the texture of unbeaten egg white.  Too runny and it soaks into the cake, too thick and it won’t coat the cakes at all. Check frequently. If too solid sit the bowl in some hot water to reverse the setting process. Or maybe zap it in the microwave.)

Jelly cakes being coated in jelly

6) Place coconut into a large bowl. Make like lamingtons — coating each cake in jelly, then rolling in coconut. Pop them into the fridge for half an hour or so to let the jelly set.

Jelly cakes being rolled in coconut

You can serve the cakes like this or fill them with cream, which is decadent and delicious and as far as I’m concerned traditional.

7) I put the jelly-and-coconutted cakes in a large plastic container, and keep overnight or until an hour or two before I want to serve them in. (You can freeze them at this point, too, I believe.)

Place jelly cakes into the fridge

8) Whip cream. Carefully slice the top off each cake and place large blob of cream on the inside. Replace top of cake. That’s it.

Anne Gracie's Jelly Cakes

When you’ve finished creaming all the cakes, eat the wonkiest looking one — you owe it to your guests to make sure the cakes are fit to be eaten. 😉 Put the remainder in the fridge. Then resist temptation firmly, or else there will be no cakes left!

A bitten-into jelly cake

Oh, these are brilliant, Anne! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. Jelly cakes were such a favourite growing up and you don’t see then often now, certainly not  home-made ones, which are the only ones to have. Love the step-by-step instructions too. Very helpful.

Now for the bit we all adore. Yes, Feasty lovelies, Anne has offered a…

GIVEAWAY!

But of course you’re going to have to work for it. Not very hard though, I promise. Today your task is to choose which cover of The Spring Bride you prefer most and why. So… does the Australian version do it for you?

1SpringBrideAussieMed

Or the US version?

US Cover of The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Me? I love the covers of both. They both sing spring, but I have to admit that the US version is the one I like best. Her dress is stunning!

So what about you? Reveal which cover you prefer and why and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of The Spring BridThe. Just the thing to enjoy with a cuppa and a sweet jelly cake.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd June 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @AnneGracie, and the totally fabulous WordWenches blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

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Greetings, Feasty lovelies, and welcome to a positively cherry-topped Friday Feast. This week we play host to one of my favourite historical romance authors who has the perfect accompaniment for a cuppa. Plus there’s an even more perfect giveaway!

Not a lot to report this week from the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf trenches. We suffered so much rain on the morning of our ladies open day the event was washed out. With the weekend equally soaked, there was no chance for play. I can only hope that the time off will result in some easing of my current formus horribillus (a dreadful disease no golfer wishes to catch).

Historical romance author Anna CampbellNow onto my delightful guest!

It’s always a pleasure to host historical romance author Anna Campbell on Friday Feast. Not only do I have a major fan-girl crush on Anna and her books, her posts are always hugely entertaining. I fondly refer to Anna as the Romance Queen, thanks to her many awards and best-selling status. And because in person she does have a touch of regality!

I’m also very excited to have a copy of her brand new release, A Scoundrel by Moonlight beside me as I type. I’ve loved all the books in Anna’s Sons of Sin series and it’s wonderful to see it continuing on. Can’t wait to get into this one.

Take a look.

A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT

A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna CampbellAnything can happen in the moonlight…

Justice. That’s all Nell Trim wants – for her sister and for the countless other young women the Marquess of Leath has ruined with his wildly seductive ways. Now she has a bold plan to take him down… as long as she can resist the scoundrel’s temptations herself.

From the moment Nell meets James Fairbrother, the air positively sizzles. Yet for all his size and power, there’s something amazingly tender in his touch. Could he really be such a depraved rogue? The only way to find out is to beat the devil at his own game… one tempting kiss at a time.

 

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And you can be guaranteed that this will be a highly emotional, passionate and romantic read. Believe me, with Anna you’re in expert hands. Which means you’ll be wanting to buy a copy of A Scoundrel by Moonlight right now. In which case, get clickety-clicking straight over to those good people at Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. You can also purchase a copy from Book Depository. For the ebook, try Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or your favourite retailer.

Now please give a bow to Queen Anna.

A Happy Accident!

Hi Cathryn! Thank you for having me as your guest today. I always love visiting your blog – and this time I’ve got a recipe that is genuinely mine.

Last year, I was waiting for a visit from my dear friend and regular Friday Feaster Annie West and I’d decided to make cherry nut cookies, an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe that’s one of my favorites.

Quote from A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna CampbellSacre bleu, what was I to do when I was halfway through cooking them and discovered that I didn’t have a major ingredient? These lovely little buttery morsels are usually rolled in crushed peanuts before you put the cherry on top. But my pantry was bare of crushed peanuts.

As any good writer will tell you, when you’re stuck, improvise. I had a bag of flaked almonds which I keep on hand for apple crumble.

Problem solved – almost.

The flaked almonds were far too big to sit on the outside of my biscuits. So I decided to try mixing them in with the dough. Worked a treat – as Annie was kind enough to tell me.

I’ve since made this a couple of times and I think I actually prefer them to the original. So it’s time to share my recipe with the world.

Quote from A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna CampbellA happy accident is how I’d describe my latest book, A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT which is out in North America this month.* The Sons of Sin series grew out of a stand-alone proposal to Grand Central Forever in New York for SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED. They liked the idea so much, they wanted more of the same with some linked books. So I hastily put together a trilogy about three friends who meet at Eton. In one way or another, the shadow of bastardy looms over Jonas Merrick, Richard Harmsworth and Camden Rothermere, but all three discover their true selves when they fall in love.

As I wrote the books, another man loomed larger and larger. James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath, is mentioned in book 2, A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS, as the villain’s nephew. He plays a much more significant role in book 3, WHAT A DUKE DARES, when his sister forms a scandalous liaison with Harry Thorne, the heroine’s brother.

lincolncollage2

When Grand Central approached me about continuing the series, Leath was the obvious hero to choose. So A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT was born. Because I love to put my characters through the wringer, I make him fall in love with a woman who threatens everything he’s always wanted. Life as a writer is fun that way.

But of course, meeting Nell Trim turns out to be a happy accident for Leath too! Under normal circumstances, their paths would never have crossed. And their clash makes for fireworks.

What sort? You’ll have to read A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT to find out!

In the meantime, have fun at afternoon tea with my biscuits.

Anna Campbell’s Cherry Almond Biscuits

Anna Campbell's Cherry Almond Biscuits

Ingredients:

125g butter

¼ cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup self-raising flour

200g flaked almonds

Glace cherries

Method:

Anna Campbell's Cherry Almond BiscuitsCream butter and sugar until light and creamy, add egg and vanilla, beat well. Add sifted flour and mix to a firm dough. By hand, mix in flaked almonds until evenly distributed. Roll teaspoonfuls of mixture into small ball shapes. Press half a cherry on top. Put on lightly greased oven trays, allow room for spreading; bake in moderate oven 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly before removing from trays. Makes about 30.

*Aussies can order a print edition of A SCOUNDREL BY MOONLIGHT from Booktopia or the Book Depository. If you’d like an ebook, there will be a local edition later in the year, date to be confirmed.

 

Oh, I love the sound of these, Anna! I must admit, I’d much prefer your almond version than the peanut one. While I love peanuts (my mother-in-law makes the BEST peanut biscuits), I reckon almonds and cherries is a much better match. A cuppa and a biscuit, a squishy chair in a patch of winter sun, and A Scoundrel by Moonlight. Sounds like a perfect morning to me.

Now, my tasty little Feasty beasties, because Anna is such a generous soul (as all good queens are), she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Anna’s brand new release, A Scoundrel by Moonlight, simply answer this question:

Have you ever had a happy accident – something unexpected that happened and took you in a new and better direction?

Maybe you’ve taken a wrong turn and discovered something wonderful, or accidentally hit the one-click buy button on a book or other item you didn’t intend to purchase and serendipitously discovered a gem. Me, I’ve had some gorgeous moments travelling when I’ve gotten lost and found magic. The same with food when I’ve ordered what I thought was one thing only to be served something totally different but also totally delicious (also totally horrid as was once the case with rognons de veau in France *shudder*).

Simply share your happy accident with us and you’ll be in the draw to win.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 12th May 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter using @AnnaCampbellOz. You’ll also find her at Romance Bandits.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

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FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Brooke

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Hello Feasters! What a fiiine Friday we have today, not least because my beloved Sydney Swans are now perched atop the AFL ladder. They look so pretty there, in all their red and white plumage. Fingers crossed they stay there, although it’s still a long way until finals.

As for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, I’m not sure I want to talk about it, really. I was playing rather well, then… sigh. The Curse. I will never shed it. But the game keeps me coming back. Sucker.

Enough of that. It’s a fiiiine Friday because we’re hosting a wonderful guest this week on Romance author Christina BrookeFriday Feast: award-winning historical romance author Christina Brooke. Rah!

Christina was the first Australian to win a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award for the manuscript which became her first published novel. From that point there’s been no looking back. Christina has gone on to be a best-seller and been nominated for a prestigious Rita® Award (the romance world’s equivalent to an Academy Award). Her Regency novels are a delight. I adored her Ministry of Marriage series but Christina is excelling herself with the Westruthers. The series began with London’s Last True Scoundrel, continued with The Greatest Lover Ever (aren’t these titles brilliant?) and now we have The Wickedest Lord Alive.

Check his abs … er…*cough* I mean this excellent book out!

THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE

Cover of The Wickedest Lord Alive by Christina BrookeCAN AN INDECENT PROPOSAL

Eight years ago, a tall handsome stranger entered Lizzie Allbright’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne agreed to wed and bed Lord Bute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the London night…

LEAD TO EVERLASTING LOVE?

Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Lizzie is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night without falling hopelessly in love?

Believe me, you’ll have a wonderful time with Steyne and Lizzie, so grab Christina’s new book today. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Bookdepository, Amazon, Angus & Robertson, Barnes & Noble, Boomerang Books, Fishpond or your nearest bookshop. For the ebook, visit Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Barnes & Noble, or your favourite ebook retailer.

And now, if you can drag yourself away from Ab-Man above, here’s Christina!

Comfort Food

Thanks so much to Cathryn for having me here today on Friday Feast!

It’s winter in Australia and of course, my thoughts turn to those beautifully warming dishes we all enjoy when it’s cold. Curries, roasts, lasagnes, apple pies and chocolate puddings—The Margaret Fulton Cookbookand all of the meals I grew up with. The ones that warm not just the belly but the heart.

My mother is a great cook, capable of fancy schmancy dinners and fiddliness that I can only watch with open-mouthed awe (open-mouthed in the hope she feeds me some of that delicious food!) But for general everyday cookery and baking, the Margaret Fulton cookbook was always her guide.

When I left home and began to amass my own collection of cookbooks, I have to say that Margaret Fulton didn’t cross my Margaret Fultonmind. I gravitated towards Marie Claire and Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Bill Granger.

Something changed, however, when I started cooking for my family. I began to get nostalgic for the dear old Strog (Beef Stroganoff, for the uninitiated) and basic staple recipes like baked custard and coffee cakes.

My mother’s ancient copy of Margaret’s book is still in use but I was lucky enough to receive my mother-in-law’s, so well-worn as to be coverless and practically in bits. Still functional, however, luckily for me!

I’ve just looked at the original publication date of this copy—1968. Not much rocket or kale or Margaret Fulton Cookbookquinoa in this book! The dishes range from hors d’ouvres to pastry, from cocktails to Chinese food (very exotic at that time!) and from how to cook a simple steak and make accompanying sauces to traditional Christmas cooking, to a full-blown dinner party featuring stuffed lobster tails or duck a l’orange.

Of course there are many dishes that are not terribly fashionable now—angels on horseback, stuffed eggs, avocados with jellied turtle soup, floating island, and so on. But I still can’t go past the Margaret Fulton for sheer comprehensiveness. And using the same cookbook my mother used when I was a child gives me a warm glow of homecoming that is very special.

GIVEAWAY!

What about you? Do you have a favourite comfort food? Favourite basic recipe book? Join in the conversation for a chance to win a copy of my new release, not yet officially out in Australia, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE!

Did you hear that, Feasters? Your chance to win a book that hasn’t officially released in Australia yet. What an opportunity!

So crack those knuckles, lay those fingers on your keyboard and get typing. We’re a-waiting all your favourite cookbooks and comfort foods. Seriously, I wouldn’t know where to start with either. I have so many. But I did make an amazing Italian beef and bean recipe the other week. Pulses are so good in the winter. Tis the carbs. As for cookbooks, oh I love them all. But I’m particularly fond of my Rick Stein collection.

What are your favourites? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of Ab-Man. Er, I mean The Wickedest Lord Alive.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, 15th July 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Christina and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @chrstnabrooke and the fabulous Romance Bandits blog.

The Wickedest Lord Alive giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Roz who has won herself a copy of Christina’s wonderful new book. Thanks to everyone for joining in the Friday Feast fun and for sharing your memories. It was lovely, as always. 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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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!

Anne Gracie

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!

THE WINTER BRIDE

The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamaris 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.

Friands

Friands

 

Ingredients:

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)

Method:

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

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.

GIVEAWAY!

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!