Friday, October 28, 2011

What a Fun Fun FUN Launch Week!

The first sign of good news for Treading Water came early yesterday. I woke to a flurry of emails from readers and friends who told me they'd gotten a notice from Amazon letting them know my new book was on sale.

I had a feeling it was going to be a very good day, and I wasn't wrong. By the end of the day, the book was at no. 17 for ALL of Kindle, which makes it a Kindle bestseller! Commence happy dancing in an Elaine-from-Seinfeld kind of way, since I'm still recovering from surgery after all!

Treading Water began climbing the charts. I wonder if Nicholas Sparks was feeling the heat from the new kid in town...

The news got even better as the day went on...

And better still...

And then today I found myself in some very good company with two of my all-time favorite authors. Pinch me please!

Of all the books of mine that could be in this position, this is the one I would've chosen. It's my all-time favorite, the book of my heart, the first book I ever wrote. Thank you to everyone who has given me this thrill ride of a lifetime.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Club: Flat Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

By: Kris Gilson

First off, I must divulge that I had never read any car racing-themed book.  I just wasn’t interested.  Nuh-uh…no way.  Then came Flat Out Sexy and….OH. MY. GOD.  I was totally hooked.  This book centers around Tamara Briggs, a widow with two children whose husband died in a crash at Talladega.  She is just getting back into the dating scene when she meets Elec Monroe at a cocktail party.  She’s with a dud of a date when they accidentally collide.  Elec is smokin’ hot, the attraction is instantaneous.  Tamara dumps the dud, and they unexpectedly share a scorching night together (he was trying to be gentlemanly…didn’t work out so much!).  

There are two things wrong with this scenario…Elec is a race car driver and he’s seven years younger.   Tamara really tries to keep it light and casual and wants to do right by her children and she obviously has fears over Elec’s occupation.  Beyond the age and occupation, she has a few body image issues, but they make her more likeable and don’t detract from the story.  Elec is an all-around great guy; he’s nice to her kids and he falls for her immediately.  At Elec’s age and with his occupation and having women fall all over him all the time, you’d think he’d at least be tempted a little.  But he only has eyes for Tamara.  It makes you love his character even more and the chemistry between the two sizzles right off the charts.  

This book is fast paced and funny, but there is also emotion and depth to the story.  The kids in the story are great, never annoying, and they are not used as props, they’re integral to the story.  I liked how Tamara wasn’t willing to just dump her kids in order to be with Elec; they had to figure out how to make time into their routines.  The secondary characters are funny and charming, adding to an all-around awesome story (oh, how I loved Suzanne and Ryder and couldn’t wait for their story!).   The racing scenes and information are interesting and not overpowering and written so well that it made me want to become a racing fan.

Flat Out Sexy is the first in a series and I highly recommend reading them all….in order!

I actually found this recipe on a website called “Talladega Superspeedway Recipes and Menu Ideas”:

Apricot Honey Grilled Chicken

Makes 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 min.
Grilling Time: 15 min
  • Glaze Ingredients
    • 1 - Tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 - cup chopped onion
    • 1/3 - cup apricot spreadable fruit
    • 2 - Tablespoons honey
    • 1 - teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
  • Chicken Ingredients
    • 1/2 - teaspoon dried oregano leaves 
    • 1/4 - teaspoon salt 
    • 1/4 - teaspoon pepper 
    • 4 - boneless skinless (4-ounce) chicken breast halves
Preheat gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white.
  1. While grill is heating, in a 1-quart saucepan, you want to melt butter in until sizzling and add onion.
  2. Sauté over medium heat for 1 minute or until onion is softened.
  3. Stir in fruit, honey and lemon peel. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, you will combine oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Rub on both sides of chicken breasts and place chicken onto grill.
  6. Grill, turning once, for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  7. Brush chicken with glaze during last 5 minutes of grilling. Cook remaining glaze in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly. Serve warm glaze over chicken.
A Note About Book Club
After a year of meetings and books and authors and giveaways, we've decided to close the door on what has become a really fun weekly event for all of us. However, it takes more time than we've got to give right now and since we can't do it weekly, we've decided to do it once in a while. We'll still hold occasional meetings to talk about books we love, authors we love and of course, Oreos. Thanks for making the Romance and Oreos Book Club such a fun place to hang out this last year! Thanks so much to Aly Hackett and Ronlyn Howe, who helped out behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly. And to the authors who participated in the meetings and offered giveaways, thank you!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Next Up On Book Club: Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

Independent single mother Tamara Briggs wanted to find a new, sexy, no-strings-attached man-just not one as young as NASCAR driver Elec Monroe. But he sure does get her heart racing. And after she’s tricked into a blind date with him, Tamara gives in to her passion. Things screech to a halt, though, when he asks to meet her children. Whatever happened to wham-bam-thank-you ma’am? Suddenly Tamara has to decide how much risk she’s willing to take to experience the power of true love.

Join us and author Erin McCarthy for our discussion of Flat-Out Sexy on Thursday, October 27th

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Club: After The Fire by Kathryn Shay

By: Aly Hackett --- with some help from Kara and Ronlyn

I started reading Kathyrn Shay’s Super Romance firefighter series back in 2000.  I immediately fell in love with her characters and knew that when she came out with After The Fire, that I would feel the same way.  She did not disappoint!

The Malvaso family siblings – Mitch, Jenn and Zach – have had their share of issues in life.  When a major fire happens, it makes all of them take a look at where they are in life and decide to make some changes.  Mitch wants to work harder at making his family work, Jenny wants a baby and wants her best friend Grady to “father” it and Zach wants to make up for all his past errors.

Mitch realizes that making his family work is going to be difficult for 2 reasons – 1.  His wife is a mean, spiteful bitch and 2.  His attraction to Megan Hale.  I really appreciated watching the relationship between Mitch and Megan grow.  Despite that everyone knows how horrible Mitch’s wife is and would understand if he had an affair with Megan, I give him – and Shay – credit for not going in that direction.  Although, yes, Mitch and Megan were emotionally connecting, they did their best to stay away from each other and keep things professional.

Jenn and Grady were pretty fabulous as well.  They embark on a journey that has so many possible pitfalls.  And of course poor tortured Zach!  He has done so much wrong but you know he wants to make it all right!

Shay writes characters in a way that draws you into them.  The family dynamic and the relationship between the siblings is wonderful.  I also think that the “family” nature of the members of the fire department just adds strength to the book.

I asked Kara and Ronlyn to share some quick thoughts on After the Fire and this is what they had to say…

Kara :  I loved that this was not your typical romance. There wasn't really a main couple who followed a romance formula to happiness. I loved the fact that 'family' seemed to be the main character, both the Malvaso's and the family of smoke eaters.  None of the members were perfect to be sure!
There was raw emotion, which brought tears to my eyes more than once, as well as lighter moments that made me smile.   I couldn't nail down a favorite character, although I'm VERY confident it wasn't Cynthia.

Ronlyn:  I LOVED when Megan went to the record store and chatted with Mitch's son re: his music and her reaction and support of his dream.  Such a small thing for her, but so huge for both Mitch and his son

His psycho ex wife...well, I'm none too fond of psycho exes at the moment. ;-)  But when his brother came clean about what happened and the whole misunderstanding re: that.  Very emotional.

And Megan's memories of her times at the camp with her father.

I laugh that Kara and I had the same reaction to the family element.  And in a way, so did Ronlyn by her reaction to Megan’s interaction with Mitch’s son, Bobby.  Kathryn Shay does such a marvelous job with these characters that you are invested and drawn in and you MUST know what happens next.

If you haven’t read After the Fire yet, you really must.  And then you need to grab On the Line and Nothing More to Lose.

Kathryn is at a conference but is going to try her best to pop in and say hi!

In honor of the Italian Malvaso's, here is a recipe :)

1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup pizza sauce
4 ounces pepperoni sausage, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Place water, salt, bread flour, dry milk, sugar, and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle.
After cycle ends, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface; shape into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Transfer to a lightly greased cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix together chopped pepperoni and mozzarella. Spoon pizza sauce in a stripe down the center of dough lengthwise; add sausage and cheese filling. Make diagonal cuts 1 1/2 inches apart down each side, cutting within a 1/2 inch of the filling. Criss cross strips over filling, sealing with water. Brush top with melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Next Up On Book Club: After The Fire by Kathryn Shay

The Malvaso family has more than its share of firefighters, and when three of them--Jenn, Mitch, and Zach--almost lose their lives in a disastrous inferno, they change their views of the universe and their places in it. Jenn, a single woman living a platonic existence with Grady, her fellow firefighter and best friend, decides to have a baby. Mitch tries to make a go of his failing marriage and be a better father. Zach, too, has to get past a ruined relationship and fight many demons of his own. This powerful, emotionally realistic book is the first of Shay's new trilogy about the men and women who put their lives on the line every day and how that dedication and commitment affect all those around them.

Join us to discuss After the Fire on Thursday October 20th.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Club: You Belong To Me by Karen Rose

by Ronlyn Howe

YOU BELONG TO ME is the first in a new series by Karen Rose, and I know I speak for a ton of her fans when I say I can’t wait to read the next installment from the Baltimore based saga.

In YOU BELONG TO ME we meet forensic pathologist, Lucy Trask, who is fiercely private in protecting her private life.  Unfortunately for Lucy she stumbles onto a mutilated body (who she first thinks is her elderly neighbor) in her neighborhood park which starts a chain of events that threatens to reveal every secret she’s ever kept, and a few she didn’t even realize she had been keeping for years.

JD Fitzpatrick is the homicide detective who first responds to the mysterious body in the park and he quickly realizes that Lucy is more than she appears to be.

She stood with her arms crossed over her chest, her expression unreadable.  But there was a fragility to her, a palpable tension, as if she was barely hanging on.

It becomes obvious from the moment they identify the first body, not as Lucy’s elderly neighbor but as a man who Lucy had dated briefly, that this was not a random attack.  There was an I burned into the man’s back and his heart was later discovered in Lucy’s car.  JD is forced to push aside his own burgeoning feelings for Lucy, which could threaten his career, to protect her at any cost while trying to figure out who is targeting her.  Pushing aside their attraction is easier said than done though.

Fitzpatrick was back, standing mere inches behind her and a hard shiver prickled her skin.  The man was so warm and she had been so cold, all day.  She had to hold her shoulders stiff to keep from leaving into him and all that delicious heat.  Wouldn’t be safe.  Wouldn’t be right.  Don’t do it, Lucy.

Even though YOU BELONG TO ME is a new series, we do see a familiar face in Clay Maynard, who we first met in NOTHING TO FEAR as Ethan Buchanan’s PI partner. Clay has a new partner who has gone missing and a client who has missed his check ins.  Fearing the worst, Clay starts searching and winds up right in the middle of Fitzpatrick’s investigation.

As more and more mutilated and tortured bodies of people from Lucy’s past find their way into the morgue she realizes that the only way to survive is to trust JD and the police to protect her while she becomes bait for a madman.  And that also means letting JD into her heart.

She turned her gaze out the window, pondering her next statement carefully.  Below them was nothing but miles of water.  They’d reached the midpoint on the Bay Bridge, which seemed too symbolic to ignore. “You could just stay,” she said and felt him tense beside her.

As a bodyguard or…” He exhaled.  “Do you want me to stay because you want me?”

There was a carefulness to his phrasing.  “Yes, JD.  That’s why I asked.  Well?”

“I’d like to stay,” he said simply.

YOU BELONG TO ME is classic Karen Rose, with a completely vile villain and a compelling “who done it” that keeps you guessing to the end.  The characters are so detailed that I loved some as passionately as I despised others with no middle ground.  If you haven’t read Karen Rose before this is a great book to start with, and then you’ll have the bonus of being able to run out and grab Karen’s back list.  I really cannot say enough about this book (and it’s been difficult to write this write up without giving away all the secrets of the story with my gushing) and this author.  There are only two authors that could write the phone book and I’d buy it: Karen Rose is one of them.

Karen is off being a mover and shaker today, but will be doing her best to stop in and answer questions while travelling, so please join me with welcoming her and asking any questions you may think of.  She’s also offering a copy of NOTHING TO FEAR to one lucky commenter.

Crab Cakes:
·         1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells
·         1/3 cup crushed crackers (recommended: Ritz)
·         3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
·         1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
·         1/4 cup mayonnaise
·         1 egg
·         1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
·         1 teaspoon dry mustard
·         1/2 lemon, juiced
·         1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         Dash cayenne pepper
·         Flour, for dusting
·         1/2 cup peanut oil
·         Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Next Up On Book Club: You Belong To Me by Karen Rose

Years ago, a young girl was beaten and raped while onlookers did nothing. Now those witnesses are becoming victims themselves…

Baltimore city Homicide Detective JD Fitzpatrick has seen a lot of horrific violence, both as a cop and during his deployment in Afghanistan, but nothing like the trail of tortured bodies that are turning up throughout the city. He’s up against a brutal killer with a very personal vendetta. And now JD is beginning to suspect that his medical examiner may be shielding some crucial evidence linked to the case.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Lucy Trask is intrigued by JD’s compassion, but she isn’t about to mix work with pleasure. Not while there’s a ruthless killer on the loose. And definitely not while she’s keeping a dark secret that could connect her to these vicious killings—and put her next on the killer’s hit list…

Join us on Thursday, October 13th for our discussion of You Belong To Me.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Club: Sweet Justice by Christy Reece

By Crystal Scott

Honor Stone is a young, idealistic FBI agent when her path collides with Seth Cavanaugh. For a girl who has never walked on the wild side, the dark and dangerous Seth is a temptation she can’t refuse. But then Seth walks out the door and out of her life. Five years later, Honor is an operative with the elite Last Chance Rescue organization and Seth is a desperate ex-cop searching for his missing niece—one of many young women who have mysteriously vanished from college campuses. Going undercover, Honor will attract the maniacal cult leader behind the kidnappings and find a way to work with Seth—while steering clear of the passion and need that’s just one touch away from explosion. Seth knows he had all the right reasons for the wrong he did five years ago. And from the moment he sees her—and takes her in his arms again—this former undercover man will risk everything for one more chance with Honor.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Christy Reece and her LAST CHANCE RESCUE series. It is Romantic Suspense at it's best. Her characters come so alive, the readers feel as if they know them... unfortunately (in a good way) the villains are the same. She can create some of the vilest creeps imaginable they are all too real. In her latest book SWEET JUSTICE the villian Alden Pike was beyond creepy and he had a God complex which made him worse. I will admit that he made it hard to fall asleep at nights. Then along comes Seth and Honor and they tear his world down. The book is a page turner from the first sentence..
"Seth Cavanaugh, your under arrest for the murder of Montgomery Jenkins. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney..."
From that moment until you close the book it is addictive.  I stayed up all night reading it because I couldn't bear to put it down without knowing how it ended. 

There are so many things that I loved about this book. The chemistry between Seth and Honor was felt right away. The whole time your reading you just want to shout "Come on you two love each other! Get on with it already before the pages begin to smoke."  We met Honor before but Seth was an unknown in the LCR series, but have no fear he fits right in with the LCR men...arrogant, sexy, dangerous, and of course hero material. Here are a few of my favorite lines in the book. 

The first one is Honor's thought as she watched Seth walking across her apartment. She knew she was supposed to be mad at him but she couldn't seem to get this thought out of her mind..... 

Seth was already beyond sexy. Add dangerous to the mix and he was a walking sexual fantasy.

The next line is from when Seth first caught sight of Honor. They both happen to be at the same party. He was captivated at first sight...

He had been standing, talking to some of Clemmons's business associates, when she'd walked into the room. Seth had quite literally lost his breath. Job forgotten, his reason for being there no longer important. Mesmerized, he'd walked away in the middle of the conversation, without explanation.

 Then of course Honor's reaction to the strange man that stood speechless in front of her.

 She'd held out her hand and given him a small, simple smile. That's all it had taken for him to fall in love with her.

Fast forward 5 years.... The last they saw of each other hearts were broken and both lives forever changed. Their chemistry was always off the charts. Seth had just heard that Honor was recently almost killed. So he demands to see the scar. As Honor pulls the material away, she titled her head back. Callused fingertips gently caressed the scar.....

Honor shivered as every erogenous zone in her body stood to attention, ready to shout hallelujah. 

 Seth got Honor all hot and bothered one night and he left her hanging. There were some hostile words exchanged and a long restless night for both of them. The next morning Seth knew without a doubt he was on thin ice.. This line says it all...

She turned around. With that blank, polite mask firmly in place, her brow slightly arched,  she silently waited.
"I'm a prick."

This next line had me laughing out loud. At 2:00 am I was laughing so hard I was shaking the bed. My husband rolled over asked what in the world was wrong. Noticed I was reading and grumbled something under his breath and rolled back over and went back to sleep. By this point in the book the sexual frustration could be felt bouncing off the page...

Seth grabbed his key card and growled a thank-you to the sweet-looking lady behind the counter. She looked a bit startled that he'd gone from pleasant to caveman in a matter of seconds.

Poor Seth is in misery, but finally Honor is giving somewhat of a green light and Seth is beyond excited.....

"Holy hell, Honor. Don't touch me if you don't want this. I'm about to go off like a rocket."

(These next two are my favorite)

One of Seth's biggest issues was always trying to protect Honor. He knew she was tough, but he could never get past the fact that if something happened to her he would be devastated. This line was oh so sigh worthy!

To the rest of the world, Honor might be a tough, hard-nosed, no-nonsense woman with a gun. To Seth, she was simply his heart.

This last line, Honor made the mistake of trying to put some "space" between her and Seth. She decided to put him on a separate team. He wasn't much for the idea..... Another laugh out loud moment.

You've got two choices, babe. Make the reassignment or I'm going to do something that these LCR operatives will be talking about for years to come."

Her temper making her eyes gleam like green diamonds, she snapped, "You wouldn't dare."

"Try me."

These are just a few, but I couldn't quote the whole book which is what it would look like if I posted all my favorite lines. I can't say enough about Sweet Justice. If you haven't read it yet push it to the top of your TBR pile. Although it is a part of a series and I HIGHLY recommend reading them all in order, this book could be read as a standalone. I don't believe anyone would feel lost.

Christy is going to be joining us and giving away some books so make sure to join us and ask your questions!

I am feeling a little pressure with the recipes since Seth is this amazing cook... So I am going to go with the KISS method. (keep it simple stupid lol)

For a simple dinner one of my family's favorites is:

2-3 lbs hamburger
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans of crescent rolls

I make two different pans one for me one for my husband. He only likes the top ingredients. Sometimes I crumble cooked bacon to add to his also. Now if you like mushrooms (which I don't) you can add them.

I add to mine:
1 can of diced tomatoes
chopped onion

Fry hamburger until it is done (I like mine very crumbly not big chunks) drain the grease off of it. Mix your mushrooms, bacon, onions and tomatoes in with the hamburger. In a 13X9 cake pan cover the bottom with crescent rolls. I think approximately half of one can. Pour the hamburger mixture in the pan. Cover the top with your shredded cheese. I like to put velveeta cheese on top of mine to make it creamier. You can use more or less however much cheese your family likes, mine unfortunately loves cheese. After all the ingredients are in the pan cover the top with crescent rolls. Bake according to the direction on the crescent roll can. 

I usually fry some potatoes (or have mashed potatoes) with a side of corn and a salad to complete the meal.  

Now for the best part... desert.
I'm not sure exactly what the name of this cake is, but I've heard it called Better than Sex cake.. sounds good to me. :)

Bake a German Chocolate cake according to the directions on the box. Once cake is baked take a straw (the ones from sonic are great because they are bigger) poke holes all over the top. Take one can of sweetened condensed milk and pour over the whole cake, then take one jar of caramel (the kind you buy for ice cream toppings) pour the whole jar over the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator until cold. Once the cake is cold cover the top with whipped cream.  It is amazing!