Tag Archives: Romantic Suspense

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the most excellent blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except for days like today, when I show off teasers from good writing buddies.

I’m thrilled to welcome romantic suspense author DB Tait to Teaser Tuesday again. I loved the first two books in her Dark Mountain series – Cold Deception and Desperate Deception – and was very excited to discover she’d be adding a Christmas novella in the series. Festive Deception hit virtual shelves last week and I can tell you this is a cracking story, chockers with fascinating characters, a gorgeous setting and red-herrings galore. You’ll have a ball with this one, I promise.

Here’s DB to tell you a bit more about it and share a snippet. And make sure you stay to the end because there just might be a giveaway!

 

Author DB TaitHi there Cathryn! I love Teaser Tuesday. It’s great to read all the snippets of some tantalising work from lots of talented authors.

My Christmas novella, Festive Deception is a bit of teaser too. It continues on the story of Julia and Dylan from Cold Deception and Desperate Deception, but has a bit more of a light-hearted feel as befits a Christmas story.

One of the challenges of writing a series is developing the main characters. In Festive Deception, Julia and Dylan are at a good place in their relationship, getting to know each other in more depth and revealing more about their vulnerabilities. Doubts and insecurities remain, especially for Julia who struggles with the realities of intimacy. But murder and mayhem are about to intrude into their lives again, distracting them for the time being about decisions regarding the future. That’s for the next book!

 

Dylan was her lover and her friend. If she was a little frightened about how important he had become in her life, she would deal with it and not run. Sometimes she wanted to run, not wanting the responsibility of love, but this morning was not one of those days. She had other things on her mind.

“I can hear you thinking. Did you know you were such a loud thinker?” Dylan murmured, his eyes still closed.

“I have a lot on my mind. In particular how to ravish you and still make my nine o’clock appointment.”

He opened his eyes, his wonderful grey eyes, raised his arms above his head and stretched like a sinuous cat. He gazed at her with a smile, letting their bedclothes fall away from his naked body. “Ravish away.”

She laughed as she straddled him, then laughed some more as he tickled her under her ribs. “That’s not fair!”

Festive Deception by DB Tait“You know the saying, all’s fair, etc,” he said, rolling her under him. He kissed her, she kissed him some more and after some very satisfactory mutual ravishment, he glanced at the bedside clock.

“No, no, no,” he said and leapt out of bed. “You are a wicked temptress. I’m going to be late and it’s all your fault.”

She saw the time and fell into her own panic. “Damn it. I’m going to be late too. It’s your fault for not being strong enough to resist seduction. I thought cops are supposed to be tough and controlled.”

He laughed and grabbed her for a last kiss. “Yeah, but we’re not stupid.”

Later, over hasty tea and toast, while compiling their various notes and folders for the day, Dylan sighed and looked at her with resignation. “I’m going to be late tonight. There’s an operation on out at Hartley that might be a bit complicated. I’ll call you.”

“No worries. I’ll make something that can be easily heated up.”

The lines around his eyes crinkled as he watched her. “How domestic we’ve become.”

“Does that worry you?” she asked, warily.

He shook his head. “I love it. Do you?”

“Yes. But …”

“You think it’s too good to be true and will end badly.”

He hit the nail on the head, which after six months, happened more often than she thought possible. Maybe that’s what love is.

“Do you still want to run?”

She took in a deep breath. “Not as often, but sometimes, yeah.”

He nodded. “Well, I have the whole weekend off and Monday as well. I thought we could get the spare room sorted out and set it up as your space. I know you do all your design work over at Eleanor and Dee’s place but it can’t be good not having your own space here.”

She stared into his eyes and fell for him all over again. Running would tear her apart. “That would be great.”

“I’m going to get a Christmas tree too.”

“Really?”

“Sure. I don’t have any Christmas decorations, so I thought I’d leave that for you to organize.”

Delight flooded through her. Her own Christmas tree with her own decorations. Putting up the tree had been a ritual in her mother’s house. Now she could make her own ritual.

“I get a staff discount,” she said. “I’ll can buy some of the glass ornaments.”

He grunted and collected all his work stuff. Satchel, phone, keys. “Hey. Good luck with Vincent Perrin. He’d be mad not to take you on.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “You could be a little biased.”

She scrambled to collect her own bits and pieces and followed him out the front door.  The day was already hot and still and smelled of eucalyptus. Her tiny hatch, old but serviceable, was parked in front of his public sector sedan. She threw her own satchel in the back seat of the car where the cushion Perrin had like so much sat and turned to Dylan.

They stood staring at each other.

“I love you, you know,” she said. “I don’t think I’m very good and letting you know.”

He smiled widely at her and folded her into his arms. “You’re better than you think you are, you time-wasting temptress.” He kissed her and held her face in his hands. “I love you too.”

Warmth and the dawning of belief that maybe they would make it, settled inside her.

“See you tonight.”

He nodded, climbed into his car and drove off.

She looked at her watch. Time to grow up and enter the real world.

 

See? Didn’t I tell you it was a fab read? And there is a whole novella more of that to sink your eyeballs into so why not satisfy your need for a great read by purchasing Festive Deception right now from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Nook.

Now, as sometimes happens on Teaser Tuesday, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever experienced Christmas out of your usual hemisphere? What was it like for you? Was it bizarre to be expiring with heat exhaustion on Christmas Day? Or magical to have a White Christmas and see snow for the first time?

For those who haven’t had the chance to spend Christmas elsewhere, what’s been your oddest or most fun Christmas or New Year experience?

Share your tale and you’ll go into the draw to win an ebook copy of Festive Deception.

I was fortunate enough to have three Christmases in Europe and it was amaaaazing! I didn’t miss the Australian heat at all. I was too busy stuffing my face with seriously delicious and naughty food and slurping mulled wine!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday 4th November 2016, AEST. Open internationally. Prize is an ebook copy – either mobi (for Kindle) or epub file – of Festive Deception.

Don’t have an e-reader? Not a problem. You can download reading apps for free to your smartphone, tablet or computer and read Festive Deception on there. Too easy!

 

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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 for the weeks when writing buddies kindly fill in for me, like today!

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sandy Curtis to the blog. Sandy is a romantic suspense author whose tagline is the very cool “where crime and passion collide”. She hails from Queensland’s central coast and lives not far from the beach, and loves to spend time walking the sand while mulling over intricate, edge-of-your-seat plots for her books. If like your romance with an edge of danger, Sandy’s novels are for you.

Her latest release is a women’s fiction novel with the intriguing title of Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause, available with just one click from Amazon. It sounds an absolutely cracking read too. Here’s Sandy to tell you more about it.

Author Sandy CurtisCathryn, thank you for having me on Teaser Tuesday and letting me share a piece of Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause. I started writing this book over ten years ago (under a different title), but it was going to be one of those angsty women’s fiction novels that had the characters going through major traumas and showing how they dealt with them. But I couldn’t keep writing it. It was too depressing. A couple of years ago those characters told me they’d been kept in limbo too long and it was time for me to let them show the world that women have the kind of enduring strength that enables them to cope with whatever life throws at them.  Yes, they might go down for a while, but they grit their teeth and get back up and take control of their lives.

So I started writing again, but this time with a different flavour. There are losses and sorrows, but also happiness and laughter, and the kinds of friendships I’ve been lucky to have in my life.

This teaser has Ellie, who has been hospitalised with concussion, being visited by her new friend (they’re not lovers … yet), police officer Chris Ryan. And then her separated husband, Damien, turns up.

 

A flash of blue in the doorway made her heart thump. Chris. Oh, God, but he looked good, standing there, all lean but solid at the same time, a bunch of roses in one hand, police cap in the other, and a look in his eyes that said “caring” more than any words could.

‘You look better than you did last night,’ he said, and walked in, closing the door behind him.

 ‘I hope so.’ Hell, she’d seen herself in the mirror – she still looked like crap, only a better version. ‘I still can’t remember what happened. Miranda told me about Mouse finding me. Was he able to give you a clue?’

Chris shook his head. He placed the roses on the bed and gently kissed her. Ellie gave silent thanks that she’d cleaned her teeth before melting into the warmth of his lips. When he moved back, she breathed, ‘Thank you,’ and wasn’t thinking of the flowers.

Murder Mayhem and Men on Pause by Sandy CurtisHe looked like he was going to kiss her again, but sat on the visitor’s chair instead. ‘From what we can work out, your heel caught in the carpet on the stairs and you fell onto the tiled floor and hit your head.’

Something flicked in Ellie’s mind at his words, but it quickly went. ‘I must thank Mouse for calling Miranda. I could have been lying there a lot longer.’

A smile made its way across Chris’s face. ‘I think you and Miranda have a friend for life there. And I gained a few brownie points by suggesting to him that if he had anything on him he didn’t want the attending police to see then he might want to leave it in the garden before they arrived to take him to the station to make a statement.’

‘You did?’ Ellie smiled. ‘That was very un-cop-like of you.’

‘I’ve attended a lot of crime scenes, and it was pretty obvious that you’d fallen and not been pushed or hit. I figured I owed Mouse a favour. He could have left you there and no-one would have known, but he didn’t.’

‘Maybe you should offer to take one of his kittens. You’d join his friends-for-life club.’

Before he could reply, the door opened.

Damien walked into the room.

Ellie stared. She felt her jaw drop.

He’d lost weight, his expensive suit tailored to fit his trimmer physique. In one hand he carried an overnight bag. The other held a bouquet of flowers that screamed ostentatious. She found her voice. ‘Damien. What are you doing here?’

He glared at Chris before striding over to the bed and thrusting the flowers at Ellie. ‘Miranda called and told me about your accident. I caught the first plane I could.’ He glared at Chris again. ‘I’m Damien Cummins, Ellie’s husband.’

Ellie almost groaned. Damien had made the statement sound like a challenge. She saw the gleam of battle in Chris’s eyes as he stood.

‘Separated husband,’ Chris reminded him.

It was like a rag waved at a bull. Damien clenched his teeth, and Ellie wouldn’t have been surprised if his eyes bulged. ‘We’re still married,’ he ground out.

‘That’s only a legality.’ Chris’s tone was mild, but Ellie could see the tension in his body and the way his fingers gripped his cap.

‘I came here to be with my wife, and would appreciate some privacy, if you don’t mind.’

‘Perhaps Ellie minds.’

Both men held each other’s gaze for a few more seconds, then turned to look at her. It was like being confronted by the headmistress when you knew you had to take the blame or rat on your friends – dead whichever way she went. Then anger bubbled up. She tossed the flowers to the end of the bed. ‘What about your girlfriend, Damien? How does she feel about this?’

Ooh, now that’s what I call an intriguing teaser. Murder, Mayhem and Men On Pause is available right now from Amazon. Grab your copy today!

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the most excellent blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except for days like today, when I show off teasers from good writing buddies.

DB Tait’s first novel Cold Deception hit the shelves earlier this year and it was a cracking read. Great Blue Mountains setting, fantastic suspense and a super-feisty heroine. I loved it, so it was very exciting to discover DB had written a follow-on story. I’ve snapped Desperate Deception up already and you can too with just a click. Visit  Momentum, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Kobo, iBooks, Booktopia or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now here’s DB to tell you about her new release.

Author DB TaitDesperate Deception is Book 2 in the Dark Mountain series and comes after Cold Deception where we met Julia and Dylan for the first time. She’s just out of jail after serving a ten year sentence for murder and he’s a cop. After the tumultuous events of the first book, in the second they have to work out how to have a relationship against the background of a complex murder investigation. It’s a story about what happens after the protagonists get their “happily ever after” ending.

I used to work with women who’d just been released from jail. The euphoria would wear off once they experienced how hard it was to get re-established in the world. Julia is blessed with a supportive family (and a cute, smart, Jack Russell terrier), but she’s still struggling with life and her place in it. But she has to step up when murder and mayhem hit the Blue Mountains with a vengeance!

I hope you enjoy this teaser of Desperate Deception.

 

“No.” A shout. Cut off.

Then laughter.

Julia Taylor sat up, completely awake. She reached out to the other side of the bed before she remembered she was alone. Alone in her old bedroom in her mother’s house.

Her heart wasn’t pounding as it usually did when nightmares from the past reared up to dig their claws into her brain. She was fine. No memory of what woke her, except the certainty she’d heard someone shout out.

Desperate Deception by DB TaitShe threw off her quilt and crossed to the window. The wind had picked up, making the unpruned cherry tree slap against the roof. Maybe that’s what woke her?

Peering out from her second story bedroom, she looked down on the house next door. A dim light shone out through the laundry room window. Not unusual, Bill and June always had some light on in the house at night as they slept.

A shadow moved across the window. Then Jack, their unimaginatively named Jack Russell Terrier, let out a muffled bark.

That’s what it was. June was probably up to go to the bathroom and trying to resist Jack’s efforts to sleep in their bedroom. Not that Julia had any idea about her neighbors’ relationship with their dog. Since she got out of jail after doing ten years for murder, her neighbors weren’t keen to have friendly interactions. She knew Jack a whole lot more than she knew Bill and June. He seemed the kind of dog who liked people, so he probably wanted to sleep in their bedroom.

Pity he had such chilly owners.

She breathed in the night air then turned to go back to bed, but saw a movement in the street. A man was out the front. As she watched, he stopped outside Bill and June’s house for a moment, then kept walking. Probably suffering from insomnia like her.

Julia yawned, padded back to bed and buried herself in her warm quilt, wishing she had the even warmer body of Dylan next to her. Her boyfriend. Her lover? Her friend with benefits? She still didn’t know what place he occupied in her life, only that he was in her life and didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

©DB Tait

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FRIDAY FEAST with D.B. Tait

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Welcome to another round of total deliciousness that is Friday Feast. This week: crimes, passion(fruit) and a giveaway!

But first, the segment formerly known as Us Heins Weren’t Mean To Play Golf. I say formerly because in a miracle moment, caused by who knows what, I played an absolute blinder. And when I say blinder, I mean smacking it like an ‘A’ grader blinder. It was, dare I say, a fiiiine thing. Perhaps a little too fine because that burst of unprecedented form cost me two whole strokes off my handicap. Expect a giant crash next week as I panic trying to play to it. Sigh.

Never mind. Off we trip to much more exciting things.

Author DB TaitI’m thrilled to bits to be introducing you to a brand spanking new author this week. Well, not completely brand new, because this author has appeared on Friday Feast in the guise of her alter ego Keziah Hill.

But that doesn’t make me any less delighted to introduce you to Australian crime author DB Tait. A lady who not only writes wonderfully, but really knows her stuff thanks to a long career working in the criminal justice system. DB now lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where works part time in the community sector and writes super-exciting crime novels.

DB’s upcoming release is Cold Deception. Take a look.

COLD DECEPTION

Cover of Cold Deception by DB TaitSecrets, lies, deception. That’s what it takes to stay alive.

At 20, Julia Taylor went to prison for murdering a man who deserved it. Ten years later, she’s ready to put the past behind her and get on with her life. But someone won’t let her.

Someone will do anything to drive Julia away, including murder.

As the body count rises, Julia is forced to accept the help of Dylan Andrews, a cop with dark secrets of his own. Unfortunately help has a cost. Dylan is digging into Julia’s past, uncovering secrets she is desperate to keep.

Julia must keep Dylan at a distance, or else risk her own safety, and the safety of everyone she loves…

What a ride that sounds! I’m really looking forward to reading this one and already have it pre-ordered. You can do the same. Simply clickety-click over to Amazon, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, or your favourite ebook retailer and add it to your list. Come March 12th it’ll then be all secure on your ereader, tablet, phone or computer. Too easy!

Set? Excellent. Now please give a big Feasty welcome to DB Tait!

Mood Food

Cathryn bellisima! Thank you for having me!

Food is definitely a passion of mine. I like to eat. I’m not a bad cook, but I definitely prefer to eat. Which for a writer is a bit of a disaster, especially if exercise consists of crossing the lounge room to look up a reference book or going out to check the mail.

Food is also comfort for me, which of course all sensible dietary advice tells us is bad. Bad. Very bad. Nevertheless, I am shameless when it comes to wanting food to lift my mood. I often wonder what life would be like without the pleasure of chocolate, the tangy rush of lemon or the nutty, earthy taste of garlic. I am fortunate to be able to indulge my love of mood altering food in my kitchen whenever I want.

That’s not the case with some women. If you are unfortunate to end up in prison, like my heroine Julia, food is something that other people control. Which is why most people in prison become obsessed with food. Correctional administrators know that food is vital in the ongoing stability of prison life. As you can imagine, it’s basic and can be pretty terrible. Inmates can buy extra food if they have the money, but no juices, citrus fruit or sugar, only artificial sweeteners. That’s because alcohol can be fermented from citrus and sugar.

However, by the time a prisoner gets to minimum security and can see release is getting closer, food can improve, mainly because in some jails, it’s easier for inmates to make their own food. For women in jail, a favourite dessert was making caramel from boiled condensed milk. Comfort food par excellence.

Rather than boiling condensed milk, which I’m always a bit nervous about, I make a passionfruit slice (which my friend Kandy Shepherd is particularly fond of).

Sometimes when I make this slice I remember some of the women I met when I worked in the jail system and hope they’re out, crime and drug free and cooking with sugar and citrus in their own kitchens, like Julia.

This recipe is straight from taste.com.au

Passionfruit Slice

Passionfruit slice

Melted butter, to grease

150g (1 cup) self-raising flour

85g (1 cup) desiccated coconut

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

100g butter, melted

1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk

125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a 16 x 26cm (base measurement) slab pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and 2 long sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

Use a wooden spoon to combine the flour, coconut, sugar and butter in a bowl. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Transfer to the prepared pan. Use a metal spoon to press firmly over the base. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden. Set aside to cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 150°C. Mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp in a large bowl until smooth and well combined. Pour into the pan and spread evenly over the base. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until just firm to the touch. Set aside to cool completely. I like drizzling some more passionfruit pulp on top. Cut into squares to serve.

 

What a blast from the past! I remember having this as a kid at Pony Club when all the mums would bring a plate for afternoon tea. There were some serious plates on offer too. I bet this recipe would be right at home. Mind you, anything with condensed milk in it…

Thanks so much for sharing, DB. And for telling us about food in the correctional services. Very educational.

Now, as you know, Friday Feast guests are very generous souls, and DB is no exception, which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could be the lucky winner of an ebook copy of DB’s exciting crime novel, Cold Deception. But as always, you must work for it. This time we want to know your favourite mood food.

What puts you in a happy mood, or even a bad one? Or perhaps a sexy one…

The food guaranteed to make me one happy little Vegemite is a fresh rice noodle dish that I make. It’s made with chilli bean paste and seriously cannot get enough of it. Every time I eat it, it’s like the world has turned marvellous. And hot. It’s a bit spicy, that dish. I’ve also been known to get hot and bothered over a big bowl of beautiful cherries but that’s another tale…

My other half swears that vegetarian meals ruin his day. I just have to think “meatless dinner” and he’s condemned.

What about you? What food changes your mood, for the better or worse?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 3rd March 2015. Ebook only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Sue who has won a copy of DB Tait’s new crime novel, Cold Deception. Thanks to all who joined in the mouthwatering fun. 

 

Deal of the Day!

I’m suuuper excited! Today THE FRENCH PRIZE, my brand new romantic adventure, is the deal of the day on Amazon.com.au. Rah!

If you you’re in the mood for an adventuresome read, with danger, medieval legend, gorgeous Provencal countryside and a breathtaking romance, now’s your chance to claim one at a bargain price.

Simply click on the image below or visit THE FRENCH PRIZE page at Amazon.com.au. But hurry! Ends 11-59pm tonight, Thursday 16th October 2014.

The French Prize is Amazon Kindle's deal of the day

FRIDAY FEAST with Suzanne Brandyn

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Are you all Christmas partied out? I nearly am, although I have to say it’s been fun and there’s still more to come. Speaking of more to come, this week on Friday Feast I introduce a fab new author who’s sharing a dessert to die for, but first, brace yourself… yes, it’s Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly.Romantic suspense author Suzanne Brandyn

Thanks to not too much buffoonery on the golf course last week (unless you count that really ugly duffed ball in the water shot on the 17th that I’m still trying to wipe from memory, and some highly incompetent putting), I managed to shave half a stroke off my handicap. Methinks the golfing gods are teasing me again but we shall see. Perhaps a triumph approacheth? Stay tuned!

And now tune in even more for this week’s Friday Feast guest, Australian romantic suspense author Suzanne Brandyn. Born on the edge of Australia’s outback, Suzanne has taken her knowledge and empathy for this amazing land, her love of romance and delight in a good thrill, and created books filled with strong characters and vivid landscapes.

Her latest release is Cold Fear. Check it out…

 

COLD FEAR

 

Cover of Cold Fear by Suzanne BrandynMacy Donavan battles a terrifying nightmare to protect her two-year-old daughter, Faith from an intruder, and is knocked unconscious. When she regains consciousness, her daughter is missing.

As the police widen their futile search, Macy struggles to pick up the pieces of an unimaginable life. Urged to take a break she heads to an isolated cabin with a girlfriend to recuperate so she can continue searching, only to face her worst nightmare— times ten.

Trapped by a man she believed dead, he demands she play a game.

She runs, he hunts.  There is no place to hide.

 

Wow, doesn’t Cold Fear sound amazing? Well, thanks to the magic of the internet you can own a copy right now with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Visit amazon.com or amazon.com.au, hit that buy button and copy will be on its way to your Kindle reader or Kindle reading app in seconds.

Loaded up? Good. Now prepare to die! (In the nicest possible way, of course)

 

CHOCOMANIA

 

Good morning, Cathryn. I am thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.

It’s a great time of year here in Australia, with summer about to carve up the landscape and Christmas around the corner. It’s a time for barbeques, outdoor parties and celebrations. There is  not a year that goes by when Death by Chocolate doesn’t hit my outdoor area.  A “to die for desert,” just like our heroes in our novels, something we all can’t get enough of. 🙂

Wait until you try it. I give it a good go, although at times my palate doesn’t take to one single ingredient… Can you pick which one? The answer could win you copy of my latest release Cold Fear. 🙂

 

Death by Chocolate

 

Ingredients for Death By Chocolate

  • Two Sarah Lee chocolate cakes. (You can bake two choc cakes if you so desire. As long as they are chocolate.
  • Two tubs of chocolate mousse.
  • Two Cadbury Flake chocolate bars.
  • One tub of cream.
  • Strawberries.

Bowl of fresh strawberries

  • Wash and cut strawberries in half.

Bowl of cut strawberries

  • Beat cream and add a little caster sugar to sweeten.
  • If using frozen choc cake, defrost.
  • Place slices of chocolate cake into bottom of bowl. Press down to organise in a neat fashion.

Arranging chocolate cake in the bowl

  • Add one layer of thickened cream.
  • Add one layer of chocolate mousse.
  • Add one layer of strawberries.
  • Repeat this until you are at the top of your dish, finishing off with a layer of rich thickened cream, strawberries, and finely grate the Flakes over the top.

Finished Death By Chocolate top view

 Side on photo of Death By Chocolate

Yum. Perfect for barbeques, and/or formal dishes. The secret is in what dish you toss it all in. Fancy china, a glass bowl, or a bright plastic outdoorsy dish for barbeques. It’s a hit for all occasions.

Wella. To die for all right. Lol. Death By Chocolate. There’s no better way to go. Enjoy.

Question: Which ingredient of Death By Chocolate don’t I eat much of?

I like it, but my tastebuds have a hard time adjusting, although my brain says yes, yes, yes. Lol. Guess correctly and you could win a copy of Cold Fear. 🙂 It’s easy peasy, seeing I’m so not the norm. 🙂

 

I don’t know, you Friday Feast guests are determined to make everyone fat! But surely in this case it has to be worth it. Your Death By Chocolate looks absolutely divine, Suzanne.

Now, my Feasters, being a super-lovely guest, Suzanne has kindly offered a giveaway. You can win yourself a Kindle ebook copy of Cold Fear. But you’re going to have to work for it. Guess correctly which ingredient in Death By Chocolate Suzanne can’t eat much of and you’ll go into the draw to win.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th December 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

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

Pssst. If you’d like an opportunity to win a $25 Amazon voucher, Suzanne has a giveaway running on her Facebook page. So toddle on over and get “liking”.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Leisl Leighton

The Romance Writers of Australia conference is over for another year, and what a brilliant time was had by all. There is nothing quite so inspiring and warming as hanging with your tribe, and Fremantle was a fantastic location, well worth the trip to the west. I’ll be blogging about our fun and games later, so keep your eye out for that.

But first, to the task at hand and another Australian debut author. Leisl Leighton is a tall redhead with a big imagination, a double major in English Literature and Drama, a former career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager, and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants. She also has a hubby, two boys and a dog named Buffy, and now she’s a published author of romantic suspense. Yup, this is one full-on life liver!

Leisl’s debut novel is the wonderfully titled Killing Me Softly. Take a look…

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

 

Killing Me Softly by Leisl Leighton coverReclusive record producer, Alexia Deningham, guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon Flagherty, and his band, it is only on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behavior.

Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

 

How cool does that sound? I got all shivery just reading that blurb. Killing Me Softly can be yours now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy the ebook direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or try Kobo, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi Books, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or Angus and Robertson.

Please welcome Leisl to Friday Feast!

 

WINTER IS A SOUPADOUPASOUPFEST

 

Unlike most of the sun loving country, I love winter. And this is the reason why:

When I was growing up, whenever winter rocked around, it meant two things in my house – hoping it would snow up at the mountains in time for our annual ski trip to Mt Buller and lots and lots of soup for lunch and dinner. My whole family loved our ski trip and we loved warming soup. And when the two were combined – sublime! For me, these two things are still something I look forward to every year.

My mum loves soup. She did then and she still does, and that has kind of rubbed off on me. She used to regularly make a huge pot of some kind of soup, some of which we would have for dinner and lunches over the next few days and some of which was put into the freezer for those nights she didn’t feel like cooking anything (something I can hugely relate to now I’m a working mum). Pea and ham, tomato, cauliflower and ham, broccoli, pumpkin with sweet potato and a hint of curry, potato and leak and the perennial favourite – minestrone. There were others she tried that weren’t so successful, but these were the ones we ate most often. I can still close my eyes and remember the smell of the hamhock cooking in the pot with the split peas, the rich, salty aroma that would pervade the house and make my stomach rumble and the satisfaction of finishing my bowl with a hunk of bread and butter to scoop up the dregs.

Yum!Spinach and rice soup in a bowl

My little family (husband, two sons) favourites are a bit different -: vegetable wonton soup, pumpkin, sweet potato and curry soup, chicken soup (my husband makes this with matzo balls just like his grandma used to make), a version of my mother’s minestrone and a fabulous soup I found a recipe to in a great Mediterranean cookbook  I have, spinach and rice soup.

While I love all of the above, the one that warms the cockles of my heart and fills my belly with yummy, warming goodness is my minestrone soup. Like much of my cooking, it’s based on what my mum used to do, but seeing I’m not a follow a recipe kind of girl (I like throwing things I feel like eating in a pot and adding stuff to taste), it has changed to something far more chunky.

 

MINESTRONE SOUP

Minestrone soup in the pot

The minestrone is something I make in a 10 litre pot like my mum used to do and freeze what isn’t eaten in the first few days. I don’t have a fixed recipe for it, because like traditional minestrone, it is made out of things I mostly have in the house. However, the things I mostly throw into it are:

½ celery (chopped roughly, leaves and all)

2 zucchini (grated)

1 parsnip (diced)

2 swede (diced)

4 carrots (grated)

Tin of red kidney beans (washed)

Tin of chick peas (washed)

1 ½ cups pearl barley (washed)

Diced beef (it’s better if it still has a little fat on it)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Bag of spinach (or box of frozen spinach is fine)

4 litres vegetable stock

Basil (chopped)

Chili (chopped – or 1 tbls sambal oelek)

2 pinches of ginger

2 pinches of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

I have also used onion, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, capsicum, mushrooms – pretty much any veg I’ve had in the fridge that I need to use and would go in a soup together well. You can also use any Italian herbs you like and add garlic too. I add garam masala spice instead (because, as I said, garlic doesn’t like me). I like different textures in the soup, which is why I grate some of the veg and chop or dice the rest.

Sauté the vegetables in some oil and the herbs and spices in the large pot, add the beef, let it cook through a little, throw in the tinned tomatoes, chick peas and kidney beans and stir, then add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Minestrone soup in the bowlWhen it’s boiling, add the pearl barley and stir then drop to a simmer. The longer you can leave it on to simmer and cook, the better – 3-4 hours is good, occasionally stirring. My husband likes it thick, almost like a stew, but if you want it to be more soup-like, you could add more water or stock. You can even add some wine (red wine is best).

It’s best served with some parmesan and a hunk of fresh bread.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed sharing my love of soup with you on the Friday Feast. Thanks so much for having me here.

 

My pleasure to host you, Leisl, and thanks for that wonderfully soupy post! Soupadouping it up is one of things that makes winter tolerable (that and open fires, AFL footy, Guinness and red wine). Such a lovely comforting feeling to sit down with a steaming bowl of soup when it’s filthy outside.

Now sit up, my fine Feasters. Most generous person that she is, Leisl has offered give away to one lucky commenter a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Simply reveal which soup warms the cockles of your heart and you’ll go into the draw. Are you a hearty vegetable sort or maybe a traditional style chicken noodle? Perhaps you’re a hot n spicy type and crave a big bowl of blow-your-nostrils-out tom yum soup? Come along. Reveal all. We’re nosy buggers on the Feast and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 27th August 2013. Ebook giveaway prize available in Kindle format only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

You can also watch this video of Leisl being interviewed by Carol George of Destiny Romance, where she talks about Killing Me Softly and how she came to write it.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope to see you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Helene Young

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Things are looking fishy on Friday Feast this week. But what else can one expect when the guest is multi award-winning romantic suspense author Helene Young? Helene Young - romantic suspense authorNot that Helene is dodgy. Or on the nose. Oh no, no, no! Everyone who knows Helene understands what a gorgeous person she is. No, we’re talking fishy in piscatorial terms, but more on that later…

Helene’s new release is Half Moon Bay, and what a beauty this book is, both inside and out. The cover is simply gorgeous but the story is so brilliant (as all Helene’s stories are) it’s the June book of the month for Get Reading!, Australia’s largest celebration of books and reading.

Take a look at Half Moon Bay.

 

HALF MOON BAY

 

Half Moon Bay by Helene Young book coverEllie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home.  As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?

 

Enticing, isn’t it? And exciting. Well, Half Moon Bay is in stock everywhere now, so you know what that means, don’t you? Buy time! Visit your local bookstore or favourite chainstore to pick up a paper copy, or try that most excellent of online booksellers, Booktopia. You can also purchase from Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop,  Collins Booksellers, and many others. For the ebook try Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Amazon (for Kindle), and iTunes.

All set? Fabulous. And now I hand you over to the always entertaining Helene. Enjoy!

 

FISHY BUSINESS

 

I’m very honoured to be visiting again as Cathryn’s Friday Feast is a post I never miss, even though I seem to be a lurker of late…

As Capt G, Zeus and I have turned into grotty yachties aboard our beautiful catamaran, Roo Bin Esque, I thought a fishy post was in order.

Helene Young's beautiful catamaran, Roo Bin Esque

I was in awe of Callie’s fishing skills in Heartland – clearly, Cathryn, you too must know a thing or two about hooking the right fish!

But the first difficulty we encountered aboard the good ship Roo Bin Esque? I don’t fish and Capt G, being a Pom, is not necessarily skilled in the art of open ocean fishing. For twenty-four long days we trawled a line behind us. We lost count of the lures and baits that were ‘taken by razor sharp teeth in the mouths of great monsters from the deep.’ (Even my imagination couldn’t quite keep up with the proffered theories as to why we continued to eat anything but fish night after long night…)

I quietly hid the cookbooks with titles like ‘One Hundred and One Ways to Barbeque Seafood’ and  ‘Fresh Fish Fetish.’ Clearly they were only causing disharmony and angst upon the high seas… Zeus seemed to find the whole thing amusing and used to wander out, stand on the back deck and sniff the air, before resuming navigator’s station on his beanbag. I swear he was chuckling…

Helene Young's dog Zeus aboard the catamaran Roo Bin Esque, looking back at Hinchinbrook Island

Finally, on our last day at sea, we’d just had a discussion about hoisting the sails when Capt G went quite red in the face (being a copper top he does tend to blush rather spectacularly) and lost his power of speech. It took me several seconds to work out that there behind us, being dragged along by the hand line, was a great big ‘monster from the deep with razor sharp teeth!’ Who would have believed it!!

I was most impressed when my very own hunter-gatherer hauled this thing in hand over hand, muscles straining.  Capt G looked even more heroic than usual. Finally, he landed it on the back transom. And then we looked at each other… Somehow we had to slay the monster…

‘Alcohol,’ I shouted.

‘What? You want to drink? Now?’ Capt G didn’t look impressed.

‘No, to kill it!’

‘Of course!’

Luckily for us Hettie Ashwin, a writer we caught up with in Airlie Beach, had given us some wonderful advice. ‘Squirt straight alcohol into their gills and voila, the fish will die a quick and painless death.’

With a wriggle and a squirm, and half a bottle of Bundy Rum, our monster from the deep succumbed.  The next thing was to get photographic proof of Capt G’s success. And here he is looking very chuffed with himself.

Helene Young's husband Capt G's with his first fish of the trip, an impressive Spanish mackerel

Once he’d managed to gut and clean it the hunt was on for the perfect recipe for Spanish mackerel, bearing in mind that by now supplies were running low. I even Face Booked it – social media does have its uses!

The general consensus was barbeque thick steaks and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Sounded good to me since it was my turn to cook! So that’s what we did with the first round of steaks. They were perfect!

To add a little class to the steamed vegetables I made a quick hollandaise sauce in the blender. This one’s fool proof!

 

Easy Blender Hollandaise Sauce Recipe

 

INGREDIENTS

3 egg yolks (see how to separate eggs)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cayenne or ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

METHOD

1 Melt the butter slowly in a small pot. Try not to let it boil – you want the moisture in the butter to remain there and not steam away.

2 Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and cayenne (if using) into your blender. Blend the egg yolk mixture at a medium to medium high speed until it lightens in color, about 20-30 seconds. The friction generated by the blender blades will heat the yolks a bit. The blending action will also introduce a little air into them, making your hollandaise a bit lighter.

3 Once the yolks have lightened in color, turn the blender down to its lowest setting (if you only have one speed on your blender it will still work), and drizzle in the melted butter slowly, while the blender is going. Continue to buzz for another couple seconds after the butter is all incorporated.

4 Turn off the blender and taste the sauce. It should be buttery, lemony and just lightly salty. If it is not salty or lemony enough, you can add a little lemon juice or salt to taste. If you want a thinner consistency, add a little warm water. Pulse briefly to incorporate the ingredients one more time.

We landed at Cairns the next day and decided an impromptu dinner party was in order so we could share the rest of the steaks. (The boasting opportunities were too good to pass up.)

Something more sophisticated than a squeeze of lemon and hollandaise sauce was called for, but I couldn’t bring myself to spoil the fish in my efforts to impress. Instead I made a spicy Thai carrot salad – those lovely crisp vegetables keep for weeks in a small fridge.

 

Spicy Thai Carrot Salad

 

4 cups grated carrot

Half a cup raw unsalted cashews

3 – 4 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 fresh chilli, chopped (optional)

Half a teaspoon brown sugar

Method

Place the carrot and cashews into a large bowl.

Put the fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, chilli (if using) and sugar into a screw top jar and shake until well combined.

Pour the dressing over the carrot salad and toss the ingredients together.

As my basil plant had survived I shredded a few leaves over the top as well.

To finish the dish we had boiled new kipfler potatoes sprinkled with parsley and rolled in butter, along with fresh cherry tomatoes tossed together with avocado and a basic French vinaigrette dressing.

After almost four weeks at sea it was wonderful to share great food and good wine with some wonderful friends.

Life doesn’t get any better!

 

I bet it doesn’t, Helene! What a wonderful tale and delicious recipes, but then I expect nothing less from you. Ahh, Hollandaise, I am such a sucker for that stuff even though it’s pretty up there in the naughty sauce stakes. But, like so many things, it’s the naughty bits that make it taste so good. As for that carrot salad, I am soooo trying that. Easy and delicious: my kind of recipe.

Ok, Feasters, do you have any fishy tales? They could be foody, piscatorial or of the dodgy fishy or sharkish business kind. We’re never fussy here on Friday Feast.

I don’t have any exciting ones but I still remember the absolute thrill of standing as a little girl on the reef at Nene Valley, a tiny South Australian fishing village where my family had a beach shack, and reeling in a hefty sized King George whiting with my tiny kid’s rod. Poor fish must have been lost because the only things that used to hang around that part of the beach were wobbegongs, crabs, the occasional crayfish, and slimy rock cod. I also managed to hook a cray once by dropping a handline over the side of the boat, while my dad and brother hunted (unsuccessfully) for snapper. And it was legal size. Best catch of the day!

We’d love to hear your tales, so comment away.

If you’d like to follow more of Helene’s, Capt. G’s and Zeus’s adventures afloat, as well as more about Helene and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also keep up with all the fun and news on Helene’s Facebook page and via Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Sandy Curtis

Happy Friday, everyone. Are you ready for a gorgeous spring weekend? I know I am. Our computer carked it this week, so a trying time was had. Thank goodness for Friday Feast and delicious thoughts of food!

This week my guest is the utterly delightful Sandy Curtis. Now if you met Sandy, you’d probably think this petite Queenslander would write cosy mysteries or perhaps sweet romances, but no! Underneath that demure exterior lies a mind raging with murder and mayhem, passions and thrills, daring romance and most of all criiiiiiime.  Yes, indeedy. My mum always said it’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for…

Sandy’s latest release is Fatal Flaw. Check it out.

 

FATAL FLAW

 

Operative Mark Talbert’s father is murdered, the agency he works for has him hunting terrorists, and the only connection is the father of Julie Evans, his childhood friend. Mark realizes that Julie is what has been missing from his life, but the love that hits him with the force of the bullet that almost took his life creates an insurmountable problem.

Julie’s father has placed her in the hands of a terrorist determined to unleash horror on an unprepared city. She needs someone she can depend on, but can she trust Mark? He has come back into her life after thirteen years, a changed man from the idealistic youth she loved.

People are dying. People who seem to have nothing in common, until Mark discovers his father’s involvement in a decades-old crime. A killer is taking a calculated revenge. A revenge that threatens Mark, Julie, and Julie’s son. And the terrorists are making their final move.

 

Oof! I went all shuddery just reading that blurb, but I’m a complete sucker for a good crime novel and I bet you are too. So why not get your thrills from one of Australia’s best authors? Fatal Flaw can be purchased right now from Amazon Kindle or Clan Destine Press, where you’ll also find all of Sandy’s backlist.

Now here’s Sandy!

 

GOING TROPPO

 

Hello from sunny Queensland, Feasters. Well, I hope it’s sunny when you’re reading this or Rob’s and my getaway to four days and nights of relaxation at the Ramada Resort at Port Douglas in far north Queensland will be a disaster. We’ve been told the Wet Season shouldn’t start until the end of November, so fingers crossed.

I know I shouldn’t make you jealous, but I just have to share that this marvelous four days came about through a Hightide Holiday offer and it’s only costing $399.00! I just had to snap it up.

One of the great things about it is that I WON’T HAVE TO COOK. After being married for innumerable years and raising three children, the thought of having all meals cooked for me is as much my idea of heaven as the wonderful facilities the resort offers and the chance to explore the tropical Daintree region. There’s an ice-cream factory up there that uses all the beautiful tropical fruit in their ice-creams and I’ll have to sacrifice myself and do some sampling as we wander through The Orchard Walk and see the fruit growing. According to their brochure, the fruit of the Jackfruit tree can grow up to 46kg. I’ve warned Rob that if one drops down it will be like having me fall on him (but with no side benefits lol). If it falls on me there will be one less romantic suspense author in Australia 🙂

You’d think that with all this emphasis on delicious tropical fruit I would be offering you an exotic fruit-flavoured dish, but, sorry, I’m not. Most people love chocolate, and a lot of people love drinking Bundaberg Rum, so I’m offering a delicious combination of the two in my Chocolate Rum Pie recipe.

When I was first diagnosed as Coeliac (gluten intolerant), there was little gluten free food commercially available and what there was didn’t taste like anything I was used to. So I started experimenting by trying to adapt my usual recipes to gluten free. The disasters out-numbered the successes by a great margin. I learned a lot about how essential gluten is to keeping cakes and biscuits moist and not crumbling. I also learned that even dogs, no matter how hungry, won’t be tempted to devour a gluten-free disaster. Even birds seemed to view it as an indirect assassination attempt. But my chocolate rum pie recipe (adapted for ease of making over the years) never fails and is a great favourite.

Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me to share this with your Feasters.

 

CHOCOLATE RUM PIE

Base:

Crush 2 packets of your choice of gluten-free biscuits (or any normal crunchy biscuit for non-Coeliacs) to crumbs and add enough melted marg/butter to moisten, mix well and press into a pie dish.

Refrigerate.

Filling:

Bring 2 cups of milk to the boil.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cornflour (White Wings is gluten free) with ¼ cup milk and pour into hot milk. Cook on low heat, continually stirring so lumps don’t form, until mixture thickens (I use the microwave as this doesn’t require as much stirring). Remove from heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Gently beat 3 egg yolks together and quickly stir into the mix.

Break 125g dark cooking chocolate into small pieces and put into mix and stir well until chocolate is melted and mixed in.

Dissolve 1 sachet (3 tablespoons) of gelatine in ¼ cup warm milk, making sure no lumps form, and add to mix.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes then stir in 2 tablespoons of Bundaberg rum (or any dark rum if you can’t get Bundaberg). Set mix aside to cool.

Beat the 3 egg whites until stiff. Gradually add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar. Mix should be stiff and glossy. Slowly add in the chocolate mix while stirring gently.

Pour into prepared pie dish and refrigerate. When set, serve with whipped cream and strawberries or just on its own.

 

Thanks, Sandy. What a pleasure it was to have you on Friday Feast. As for that recipe, all I can say is: WANT! Rum and chocolate? That’s sigh-inducing. And even better that it’s gluten-free. So important to consider these things, and just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious. I have a fantastic recipe for orange syrup cupcakes that is completely lip-smacking.

So, Feasters, any favourite hints or recipes for Coeliacs or those who prefer gluten-free tucker? Sandy and I (and many others) would love to hear your ideas.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about Sandy’s world, where crime and passion collide, please visit her website. You can also connect via Sandy’s blog, Facebook and Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Bronwyn Parry

Happy Friday, Feasters. Never fear, I won’t subject you to another Heart of the Valley promo this week. No, no, no! Indeed, this week we have someone very special toting their wares. A certain lady from Armidale way who writes gobsmackingly good romantic suspense. RWA Romantic Book of the Year finaling and Australian Romance Reader Award winning romantic suspense, in fact.

Yes, Feasters, I bring you As Darkness Falls and Dark Country author Bronwyn Parry!

Bronwyn has a new book out and what a beauty it is. Dead Heat has been gaining five star reviews all over the blogosphere and elsewhere, with reviewers raving about her characters and suspenseful plot.  Here are a few samples:

The moment I picked up this book I didn’t want to put it down and I guarantee I won’t be the only one in that position! The Australian Bookshelf

This is a strongly plotted novel that incorporates organised crime, police corruption, gang activity and murder in a fast paced and exciting story. I reluctantly put it aside only to attend to my family’s pleas for a meal. Book’d Out

Dead Heat was a wonderful read – it drew me in right from the beginning and kept me intrigued all the way. 1 girl…too many books

Intrigued? Check out this cover and blurb.

 

DEAD HEAT

 

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can’t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive.

The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She’s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.

Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Matheson knows organised crime and gang violence from the inside out. He’s so good at undercover work that his colleagues aren’t sure which side he’s really on. His posting to Strathnairn is supposed to be a return to normal duties, but the murder victim in the campground is only the first of Jo’s discoveries.

As Jo and Nick uncover drugs and a stash of illegal weapons, the evidence points towards local young men already on the wrong side of the law. But as far as Nick s concerned, it doesn’t add up. When the body count starts mounting – each brutally punished before death – he becomes convinced that one person is behind the killings, one person is manipulating the men to commit horrific crimes, forming them into his own private drug-dealing cartel.

Jo has seen the man’s face, and now she’s his next target. Nick’s determined to protect her, but trapped in the rugged outback he and Jo will have to act quickly if they are going to survive.

 

Amazing cover, isn’t it? You can almost see the heat shimmering off it. I love it and the blurb sucks me right in. And the best thing is that Dead Heat is available right now, so off you go a-book-buying.

Done? Excellent. Now you can enjoy Bron’s faaaaabulous post.

 

Hi Cathryn! It’s a pleasure to be here – thanks so much for inviting me to your Friday Feast! Like many writers, I have a love-love relationship with food – especially comfort food and procrastination food. I’d like to find the ideal inspiration food, but despite many, many episodes of fridge and cupboard-watching, and much cooking experimentation, I have yet to find the perfect one.

Despite my fondness for food and the frequency with which I restlessly get up from the computer to study the fridge contents, I don’t actually give my characters much to eat. I don’t exactly starve them – I’m not that cruel – but my romantic suspense plots usually keep them far too busy to indulge in the luxury of a proper meal. A hurried hamburger, a couple of muesli bars, dried fruit, a slice of toast – they often eat on the go. At least I do give them plenty of coffee, or, in the case of Jo, the heroine in Dead Heat, proper leaf tea.

Perhaps in some future book I’ll give my hero and heroine the chance to enjoy some quality cuisine in a quiet romantic setting. The main course choices would depend on the characters, but it’s not hard to imagine a sinfully sensuous dessert – pannacotta, perhaps, or crème brulée, or rich, creamy, handmade icecream. Of course, being romantic suspense, I’d probably have to distract them half-way through dessert!

While writing Dead Heat, I started making my own sourdough bread. I love bread, fresh from the oven, with butter melting through it, but it hasn’t always loved me. When I read that some people find the wild yeasts of sourdough much easier on their systems than commercial yeast, I decided to give it a try. Sixteen months later, I’m a convert.

Now, amongst sourdough bakers, there are purists who approach it Very Seriously, and Very Scientifically, with measurements and special kneading techniques and Very Exact percentages of ingredients. I am not one of those purists. I’m just practical about it – people have been making bread with wild yeasts for thousand of years, without the aid of recipes, kitchen scales, or measuring cups, over hearth fires that can’t be easily regulated for temperature.

I did some web research, and made my initial sourdough starter based (loosely) on instructions from the sourdoughbaker.com.au and made my first loaf based on a recipe on a much simpler website that I now can’t find. (Sorry!) A quick web-search for ‘sourdough starter’ will produce many good results, however.

After my first few loaves, I tried the breadmaker for mixing the dough, and that worked very well – and was much easier on my hands! Since then I’ve learned, through trial and success, more about making bread in dry, cool climates (a moister dough works better), and I’ve put together a number of recipes that work for me (and my husband!) Our freezer is generally full with sourdough bread, rolls, fruit bread, crumpets, cinnamon scrolls…

At one point in Dead Heat, Jo and Nick have a hasty breakfast of fruit toast from Jo’s freezer. In the book, it’s not mentioned that it’s homemade sourdough fruit toast – chatting about food isn’t their top priority at that point – but of course I imagine that Jo makes sourdough bread! So here’s our recipe:

 

Bron’s (and Jo’s) Sourdough Fruit Toast

(makes one large loaf or two small ones)

2 cups of fed sourdough starter (100% starter – ie, equal amounts of flour and water)

½ cup of milk

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons salt

3 ½ cups plain flour

tepid water as required (approx 1/2cup)

approx 300 grams mixed fruit (including some chopped up dates) (toss in small amount of flour)

If using a bread machine pan for the dough:

Add into the pan in the following order: Starter, milk, golden syrup, cinnamon, flour, salt.

First knead: Set bread machine to ‘dough’ setting – check after a few minutes that there is sufficient liquid – add a little water if necessary.

If kneading by hand, put on some good music before you start, and give it a good ten minutes or more. A basic kneading motion is fine – you don’t have to do anything fancy, just keeping working the dough evenly to make it smooth and elastic.

First rise: Leave dough to rise in the bread machine or covered in a warm place; maximum rise is when it doesn’t bounce back when pushed gently with a finger tip.

Second knead: Using ‘dough’ setting on bread machine, knead for 5 minutes or so. Or knead it again by hand for around the same length of time.

Fruit and shaping: On a floured surface, press gently on dough with tips of fingers (without squeezing air out) to stretch out sides until it’s a large rectangular shape. Scatter floured fruit over the surface of the dough. Starting with the far end, tightly roll the dough towards you. Fold one end in over the other (ie in thirds).  Gently stretch and mould dough into desired shape. Place seam side down into oiled bread tin.

Second rise: Leave to rise in tin – best rising is in a warm place out of draughts, with a little humidity. I put a mug of hot water beside the tin, and place a large plastic box over the tin and the mug. A heat pack can also assist on cold days. Depending on temperature, humidity, and moistness of dough, rising can take 2-3 hours.

Bake at 180 C for about 30 minutes or until cooked – it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf.

Eating: Prepare a cup of leaf tea – chai is ideal. Toast your fruit bread lightly, spread with butter and maybe a touch of marmalade, and relax and enjoy in a pleasant environment, preferably avoiding interruptions from gun-toting criminals intent on killing you. If interruptions cannot be avoided, offer them fruit toast and a cup of chai. As they sinking into a state of bliss, apprehend them and then return to your breakfast.

 

Oh, thanks so much for this, Bron! Sourdough you can knead in a breadmachine might actually convince me to have another go at making this bread. I tried a few years ago, developing my own starter with spelt flour and whatnot, then on baking day, I (for once) followed instructions and used this ridiculous slap-kneading technique which resulted into sticky dough being shot into every crevice of my kitchen. It took forever to clean and the bread turned out ordinary to say the least. Never again, was the motto after that. But after reading this recipe I may have to rethink this stance.

Now Feasters, Bron, being the lovely person that she is, has very generously offered a giveaway prize and it’s the one you all want. Yes, you can win a copy of her brilliant new novel, Dead Heat! But freebies like this don’t come easy. You have to work for it, and by work Bron means sharing your favourite bread or bread topping, or simply a bready memory.

So get commenting!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about Bronwyn and her award-winning romantic suspense novels, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter and Facebook.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Imelda who has won a signed copy of Bronwyn’s Dead Heat. Lucky girl! Thanks to all who stopped by to comment. Looks like we may see a few sourdough converts!