Tag Archives: The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

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.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Highlight Reads of 2014

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I read so many memorable books this year that it’s hard to choose which were my highlights but I’m going to give it a go, ending with a

Book Hangover Of The Year Award

for the book or series that left me totally bereft and rudderless on completion.

For more information or to buy any of the books, click on the headline or covers.

So… in no particular order, here they are!

Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle HawkinsCover of Dinner at Rose's

I adored this book. It was quirky, romantic and made me laugh and cry. And it featured a hot dairy farmer. Not to be missed Kiwi rural romance. (Hawkins’ second novel, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast, was also a beauty).

the-winter-brideThe Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chance Sisters series has been wonderful so far but The Winter Bride is my favourite. Damaris and Freddy are such great characters. Following their journey to happily ever after was hugely satisfying. Please read this series. It will make your heart sing.

Marina by  Carlos Ruiz ZafónCover of Marina

I can’t rave about this book enough. I’m a huge Zafón fan. His gothic stories captivate from the opening page but for me this is his best. It was mesmerising.  The moment I finished I wanted to go back and read it all over again. Even typing this makes me want to reach for it. Runner-up for Book Hangover of the Year. Yeah, it was that good.

being-jadeBeing Jade by Kate Belle

A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. What a talent Belle is.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontzodd-thomas

Oh, this was fun. Spooky, quirky and perfectly paced. A rollicking ride through our hero Odd Thomas’s most interesting life. With bonus Elvis sightings.

holding-out-for-a-heroHolding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews

What a hoot! A sexy sportsman hero, a determined heroine and loads of memorable secondary characters. Wish Andrews would hurry up with the sequel.

daughter-of-smoke-and-boneDays of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

This trilogy (starting with Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I read in 2013) was amazing. The writing is lush, and the world-building and characterisations are first class. Absolute page-turners.

thornwood-houseThornwood House by Anna Romer

I’m a terrible sucker for a gothic story and this Australian-set tale didn’t disappoint. Romer has a distinctive and appealing writing voice, and the romance in this was subtle but very fulfilling. Her next, Lyrebird Hill, is near the top of my to-be-read pile.

Mr Impossible by Loretta Chasemr-impossible

No wonder this romance is considered a classic. It has everything. Great setting, amazing characters, adventurous plot, witty dialogue and a completely gorgeous romance. Not to be missed.

rivers-of-londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Like Harry Potter for grown-ups! Huge fun. I’ve already read the 2nd in this series, Moon Over Soho, and plan to keep going. It’s just too much fun to stop now.

Her Christmas Earl by Anna CampbellHer Christmas Earl

Maybe it was my mood, maybe it’s a result of reading a Christmas themed book on Christmas Eve but this has just shot to the top of my Anna Campbell favourites list. Who’d have thought being locked in a wardrobe could be so much fun?

 

And now for the big one…

My Book Hangover of the Year Award goes to

The Grisha Trilogy:

Shadow and Bone, Siege and Stormand Ruin and Rising

by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha 1.0

I gobbled these books one after the other and was so bereft after finishing this romantic fantasy series it took me nearly two weeks to settle into another book. I missed the characters dreadfully and if it weren’t for my gigantic to-be-read pile I would have gone back to the start and read it all over again. Stunning.

*

What were your highlight reads of 2014? I’d especially love to hear which one gave you the biggest book hangover so I can check it out myself. Unlike other hangovers, book ones are good for us!

 

 

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!