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Guest Author: Sophia Knightly & Giveaway!

Hooray!  The lovely and talented Sophia Knightly is back on the blog today, folks!  Sophia writes feel good, sexy romance in a variety of genres, including romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and chick-lit.  She’s here today to tell us all about her latest book, so let’s turn the blog over to her!

Delicious food masterfully whipped up by a hot chef…who could resist that? Those were the musings that inspired me to write Grill Me, Baby. In Grill Me, Baby, sizzling Latin charmer Chef Paolo locks horns with cool, elegant spa Chef Michaela as they battle to win top spot in a TV cooking show.

The heat is on…

Raised among women who taught him to cook at his family’s Buenos Aires restaurant, master chef Paolo Santos deftly works his culinary wiles—and his gypsy charm—on posh Flamingo Island’s female clientele.

The tastiest tidbit on the island, though, is cool, elegant Michaela Willoughby. The redhead’s slender curves are as enticing as her rabbit-food menus are maddening. And she’s his main competition for the chance of a lifetime.

Michaela overcame her own weight issues to become Flamingo Island’s premiere spa chef. Now she has a chance to share her innovative recipes for healthy living on a new cooking show—if she can somehow outshine Paolo. His sizzling, Latin-lover looks are more heart stopping than his decadent cooking. And she’d love nothing better than to stick a fork in his outsized ego.

When the stage lights ignite, so does the competition…and a sexual chemistry no one—least of all Paolo and Michaela—saw coming. Suddenly, separating business from pleasure is as impossible as separating a scrambled egg. And the big question isn’t whose knife cuts fastest…it’s whose heart can take the most heat.

Warning: Contains two hot chefs duking it out in a lively showdown of sexy rivalry. Mix in family drama, luscious recipes and spicy mischief, and there’s more than just steam rising out of the kitchen. May cause lusty cravings for midnight indulgences.

For years, I’ve been an avid fan of TV cooking shows. Some favorite, excellent chefs inspired me to write Grill Me, Baby, and I’m going to mention four of them here.

There’s Iron Chef Bobby Flay — a master at the grill. Bobby’s cooking show was the first I watched on the Food Network. I was thrilled I got to meet him at the NYC Wine and Food Festival.

Another favorite is amazing Chef Tyler Florence — the king of comfort food. His show, The Ultimate, is a feast for the eyes. Everything he makes looks as delicious as he does.

Next is master chef and restaurateur extraordinaire Scott Conant. Beneath Scott’s gruff exterior, he’s very charming. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a food truck demo.

And last, but not least, is Aussie heartthrob Chef Curtis Stone. Curtis is so hot, it’s hard to take your eyes off him long enough to see what he’s cooking.

Grill Me, Baby will be released by Samhain tomorrow, June 12. Visit my website to read an excerpt of Grill Me, Baby. Contact me at: sophiaknightly@gmail.com  or follow me on Twitter @sophiaknightly and Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sophia-Knightly/147151025379583.

Thank you for joining me today at Vanessa’s wonderful blog. I will give away one e-book copy of Grill Me, Baby to a commenter who answers this question: “Which celebrity chef would you like to be marooned with on an island and why?”

Vanessa, here.  Thanks for that lovely little trip through the kitchen, Sophia.  I think I can safely say that we all enjoyed it!  Readers, you heard the lady–pick the chef of your choice for a chance to win a copy of Sophia’s latest book.  And be sure to check out her other books on her website.  I’ve read Sophia’s romances, and they’re wonderful!

Guest Author: Cate Lord & Giveaway!

I’m so pleased to have contemporary romance author Cate Lord guest blogging today.  Some of you may already know Cate under another name – as Catherine Kean, she writes award-winning Medieval romance.  But Cate’s with us today in her other guise, talking about her latest book, Lucky Girl.  Take it away, Cate!

A few years ago, my family and I set ourselves a project: to watch all of the James Bond movies in chronological order. While I can’t remember all of the plots now, the films were entertaining, and it was fun to recognize the different actors who played the suave, handy-with-a-gun secret agent James Bond. Of course, every movie featured a model-beautiful, sexy, sophisticated woman—the “Bond girl.” Gosh, how many of us secretly dreamed of being one of those?

When I wrote my contemporary romantic comedy Lucky Girl, I couldn’t resist a literary nod to those films. I gave my British hero Nick Mondinello the nickname Spy Man. He looks like a younger version of Pierce Brosnan, who played Agent 007 in four movies. Nick’s also intelligent, charming, lusted after by women everywhere, and resourceful (gosh golly, does he know his way around a kitchen).

The story’s heroine, Jessica Devlin, is an American beauty editor for the Orlando-based magazine O Tart. The book is written entirely in her point of view, and from her musings, it’s clear she’s everything a Bond Girl is not. Her blah brown hair is rarely right (not like that of the perfectly coiffed Bond heroines) and she dreads wearing sexy high heels because she’s likely to trip and fall on her face. Her figure is far from slim—thanks to her fiancé who betrayed her months before their wedding and caused her to drown her sorrows in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Due to that heartbreak, her self-confidence is non-existent, and so is her love life.

Overdue for a vacation, Jess takes two weeks off and flies to England to be maid-of-honor in her cousin’s wedding. Jess is anxious about the trip, and not just because her cousin’s getting the happily-ever-after Jess wanted. There’s also the embarrassing incident that took place two years ago after Jess’s grandfather’s funeral; it involved an English pub, too many drinks, an overflowing of grief for her grandfather, and a handsome stranger who comforted her while she bawled. That man was Nick.

Jess assures herself there’s no chance of running into Nick again. She sets herself a vacation mission: to have as much fun as possible for a gal who’s twenty-nine and single. Then, she steps into the English church on the wedding day and finds that the best man is Nick.

Yikes!

Jess resolves to avoid him, but she can’t ignore that he’s one gorgeous, intriguing Brit. Moreover, fate keeps throwing them together in ways that challenge her perceptions not only of Nick, but of herself.

Writing Lucky Girl was a fun, exciting adventure for me as a writer. I lived every quirky, humorous, crazy moment with Jess. I giggled with her, held my breath when she flirted with Nick, and got a little teary-eyed when the plot knocked her on her butt. It was an adventure for Jess, too—and I don’t mean adventure in the car-chasing, boat-exploding, secret-agent espionage kind of way. I mean as a journey of personal growth, because Jess isn’t the same woman at the end of the book as she was in the beginning. As I wrote her story, I wanted her to become a Bond girl. She deserved to be confident, beautiful, happy, and desired.

Thanks to Nick, who is a far more complex and noble character than she ever imagined, she finds true love. In the end, she’s not just a Bond girl. She’s one lucky girl.

If you could be a heroine from a movie, who would you be? Leave a comment and you might win one of two eBook copies of Lucky Girl. Vanessa is also giving away a digital copy of her contemporary romance Hardball. Good luck!

Vanessa, here.  Great post, Cate!  And you heard the lady – just answer Cate’s question for a chance to win a copy of Lucky Girl and Hardball.  And be sure to stop by Cate’s website, for all the info on her books.

Guest Author: Rebecca York & Giveaway!

I’m absolutely honored to feature Rebecca York on the blog today, a best-selling author of romantic suspense and paranormal romantic suspense.  A New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-selling and award-winning author, Rebecca has written over 125 books and novellas. In 2011 she became the dozenth author to receive the Romance Writers of America Centennial Award for having written 100 romantic novels.  Rebecca has authored or co-authored over 65 romantic thrillers, many for Harlequin Intrigue, and many with paranormal elements.

Her slew of awards include two Rita finalist books. She has two Career Achievement awards from Romantic Times: for Series Romantic Suspense and for Series Romantic Mystery. And her Peregrine Connection series won a Lifetime Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense Series.

Wow!  Talk about an impressive resume!

Some of Rebecca’s most popular books are in the Moon Series, which feature werewolves, elements of urban fantasy, and a truly cool parallel universe.  The Moon Series is available from Berkley Publishing in paperback or trade, but Rebecca is also expanding the series with a new group of digital books featuring the operatives of Decorah Security.

Dark Moon is the first book in this new e-series.

Cole Marshall is near the age of werewolf bonding and fighting his attraction for Emma Richards.  When Decorah Security sends them on a mission to rescue kidnap victim, Karen Hopewell, they’re forced to play the role of lovers with nothing on their minds but enjoying the pleasures of the Windward, an ocean liner converted to a floating resort for the rich and kinky.  It’s owned by millionaire Bruno Del Conte who runs the ship like his private kingdom.  Cole and Emma are threatened by a mutiny in progress and also by Del Conte’s security chief who digs into their backgrounds to find out who they really are and why they’re on board.  As Cole and Emma try to rescue Karen, they struggle with the intensity of the personal relationship neither of them thought they wanted.  

Sounds very sexy and very intense, doesn’t it?  Rebecca also has a short story in the series called Ambushed, and an e-novella, as well.  The novella is called Chained, and it sounds great.

Political refugee Isabella Flores is forced to run for her life when political operatives from her native San Marcos try to capture and kill her. When she hides out at her father’s old ranch, she’s threatened by a ghost guarding the property. It’s Decorah Security agent Matthew Houseman.  Isabella and Matthew fell in love when he was guarding her family. Now they’re together again, only the relationship they longed for can never be because Matthew Houseman was killed in the line of duty, and his ghost is haunting the ranch.  Still, the passion Isabella and Matthew could never acknowledge draws them closer together, and as they explore their relationship, Matthew becomes more real to himself and to Isabella.  After the ranch is attacked and Matthew helps save Isabella’s life, she learns that there may be hope of bringing her ghost lover back–if she dares to take the risk.

For fans of the Moon Series, I already know how happy you are that Rebecca is writing these new books.  If you’re new to Rebecca but you love romantic suspense and paranormal romantic suspense, then I encourage to check out the Decorah Series and Rebecca’s other books.  Visit her website for details on all her books, including her cookbooks.  Yes, Rebecca writes cookbooks too!  She’s truly a fascinating person.

For my readers today, Rebecca will be giving away a copy of one of her Harlequin Intrigues, Solid as Steele.  Let’s talk shapeshifters, shall we?  Do you read shapeshifters and paranormal romance?  If so, what’s your favorite kind of shifter?  Or is it vampires and demons who turn your crank?  One person who comments will win a copy of Solid as Steele.

Christmas Cookies & Books!

 

My mom used to spend the weeks before Christmas baking cookies by the dozen.  She’d then store them in tins in our basement freezer, taking them out for holiday meals or when friends stopped by for a cup of coffee.  I have so many wonderful memories of our house smelling like a baker’s dream, and I loved spending time in the kitchen helping my mom and liberally sampling the results of our work.

Here are two of my mom’s best cookie recipes.

Swedish Tea Balls

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together.  Stir in the water and then add the flour.  Mix till blended then stir in the pecans.  Roll into one inch balls.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, at 300 degrees F.  Cool before removing from sheet, then roll the balls in the frosting.  Refrigerate or freeze until just ready to serve.

Frosting:  4 cups of confectioner’s sugar mixed with ½ cup of milk.  Adjust with sugar or milk to get the consistency that is best for icing.

 Oatmeal Macaroons

  • ½ cup Spry or Crisco
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • ½ cup nuts

Combine first seven ingredients and mix.  Add the sifted flour and baking soda to mix.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.  Drop by teaspoons on greased baking sheet.  Press slightly with a fork coated in sugar, or the bottom of a small glass coated in sugar (just press the glass in a dish of sugar – enough will stick to do the trick).  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-13 minutes, checking to make sure the cookies don’t scorch on the bottom.

And what goes better with tea and cookies then a nice book to read?  As it’s the holiday season, I’d like to give away some books to celebrate Christmas.  The first of two is Countess of Scandal, a lovely historical romance by Laurel McKee.  The second book is Lord of the Isles, a fab Scottish paranormal romance by Debbie Mazzuca.  Just tell me what your favorite cookie recipe is to be eligible.  Two people will each win a book!

Note!!!  I’ve had to disable the comments temporarily because my blog is getting flooded with spam.  My webmistress is working to correct the problem, and we should have comments back up shortly.  Check back tonight or tomorrow, and thanks for your patience!  And I WILL be awarding those two books by tomorrow evening!