Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Audiobook Review: The French Chef in America by Alex Prud’homme

Once upon a time in America, ‘furrin’ food had a different definition. Boundaries were built by immigrants settling an area. You couldn’t get a decent enchilada in Vermont. Ask for a bagel in New Mexico and they’d scratch their heads. Certain types of cuisine though seemed to bypass borders, particularly French. It had the reputation for being exotic and a little mysterious, certainly something you didn’t prepare at home. Then came this mountain of a woman (all 6’2” of her) with a distinctive warble and boundless enthusiasm. Julia Child led us from the culinary wasteland to a world of international flavors and encouraged us all to be courageous cooks. So we were.

Although she made her first mark as coauthor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that was only Julia’s first incarnation. The French Chef in America is the story of her later years when she went on to host a succession of TV shows for public television, specials, and collaborate on other cookbooks. After 17 years and 250 shows for public television she switched to commercial TV doing spots at Good Morning America. It’s a tribute to her remarkable abilities as a culinary educator that her career didn’t begin until she was nearly 50 and didn’t stop until her death at 92.

Alex Prud’homme, who is also Julia’s nephew, writes with affection. He details Julia’s long friendship with Simone Beck, her loving marriage with Paul, and the successful collaboration with Jacques Pepin on television. Readers may be surprised to learn about her bawdy sense of humor when she’d try to crack him up on camera. “There’s a nice piece of tail for you,” she’d say offering Jacques a lobster tail. Or she’d peer into the camera with a chicken and a straight face. “Jacques is a great boner.”

The book covers a lot of ground from her relationship with PBS, the upstarts of Novelle Cuisine, her support of new chefs across all culinary boundaries, to her disgust with the food police and fear of fat. “The only time to eat diet food is when you’re waiting for a steak to cook.” Common sense was always her guide. She was against cultism and felt much of the organic movement was built on balderdash, dousing the public with misinformation and fear. She was all for hard scientific facts before passing judgment.

This review is from the audiobook and, unfortunately, the weakest part is Alex Prud’homme, who also chose to narrate. He’s not awful. He doesn’t mispronounce words or stammer, but a narrator should impart something extra other than a flat reading. He’s obviously not a voice actor and the narration is more like a college lecture series than something to enjoy on a road trip. The text is well-written so my recommendation is buy the print or e-version, but skip the audiobook.

I received this audiobook from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Trio of Spicy 99 Cent Sales

by Laura Strickland

Clara Allen needs a husband in order to keep a roof over the heads of her assorted dependents, a roof her nasty grandfather will re-appropriate unless she is married by her 21st birthday, only a few days away. Strong-minded, unwilling to take orders from any man, she decides to solve her problem by raising a murdered prisoner from the dead and marrying him. She expects an empty-headed puppet; she certainly never dreams he’ll be so devastatingly handsome.

Liam McMahon doesn’t recall much about his life before his hanging in the prison yard, other than being Irish. He does remember the kiss Clara bestowed as she brought him back to life. Every time he looks at her, his desire gets out of hand. But his former life is chasing him down like a steam engine, and when a couple of mad geniuses decide he’d make a fine experiment, he wonders if he’ll live long enough to claim Clara’s heart or if he’ll die all over again.
Excerpt
The room needed to be warm—she had learned that during past experiments. It helped if the subject awakened in an environment that was moist and heated, akin to the womb. And the breath of life was more easily received by warmed flesh.
Georgina walked to the corner and switched on the generator, which came awake with a rumble as the boiler lit. Immediately the familiar clatter started, the gurgle as water began drawing through the system. Once it got going, the system thudded like a heartbeat. Appropriate somehow—that would be the first thing her subject heard when he awoke. If he awoke.
Still obviously uneasy, Georgina rejoined Clara at the table. “You know you’re going to have to touch him.”
“I’ve already touched him. Ruella and I stripped and washed him down.”
“You’re going to have to kiss him.”
“It isn’t a kiss. It’s a resurrection.”
“You’re mad, Miss Clara. Stark raving.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Wasn’t it why she could allow no one—other than these lost waifs and misfits who already surrounded her—into her life? How could she expect an ordinary, sane man to accept the woman she was? Either she created her own husband, or she took none at all.
The room had warmed quickly. Now clouds of steam billowed and surrounded the table, lending an unreality to this thing she undertook. It blurred the edges of her vision and her reason.
Did she do the right thing?
She did the only possible thing.


by Mary Morgan
Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy. 

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart?

Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights? 
Excerpt
Meggie brushed her fingers over the leather pouch. “It feels empty.”
“Are you not tempted to take a wee look inside?”
She snatched her hand back. “I’m not peering inside the man’s belongings. As soon as he wakes, he and his horse can leave.” Giving the horse a firm pat, Meggie walked out of the stall and away from her smirking cousin—only to run smack into her other cousin, Lena.
“Blast,” snapped Meggie, grabbing her cousin by the arm to help steady them both. “Sorry, didn’t see ye.” Seeing the excitement in Lena’s eyes, she stepped back. “What?”
“I hear you have a Highlander in the guest room,” she replied, giving Meggie a wink. “Are you going to share?”
Meggie placed her hands on her hips. “He’s not my Highlander. Feel free to have him, though as soon as he wakes he’s gone from here.”
Lucas strode out of the stables, wiping his hand on a cloth. “I think I’ll go introduce myself, since I think this man bothers you. You keep stating he must leave as soon as he wakes.”
Lena pushed her cousin aside. “No, Lucas. I will go check on him.”
“Ye are both crazy,” protested Meggie. “He’s just a man.” Stepping past them both, she marched away from the stables.
Approaching the entrance of the castle, her nerves tingled and the air cooled. Halting on the gravel courtyard, she slowly glanced up at the guest bedroom window. Gazing down at her was the dark Highlander. His hands were braced on either side of the glass, and Meggie could swear for an instant, she recognized him from somewhere. A dream, perhaps? The look he gave her pierced her soul, and she shivered.
“Impossible,” she muttered. “I don’t dream. And ye are leaving now.”
Breaking from his stare, Meggie entered the castle, almost running up the stairs. By the time she reached the guest room, her hands were shaking. Not even bothering to knock, she pushed open the door and stormed inside.
Her mouth became dry, unable to form the words to order this giant out of her home. His bulk blocked the light from the window as he leaned against the ledge staring at her. She was not one prone to swoon at men—any man, but this one made her a jumbled mess. Moving to the table, she picked up his sword and took it over to him. His eyes widened when she approached, and she fell into their dark blue depths.
“I…um…” she stammered before continuing. “Ye should leave.” There, she’d gotten the words out.
Instead of reaching for his sword, the man lifted two fingers and caressed her cheek. She gasped, the touch searing her skin, and she took a step back. She could see the look of shock pass over his features, as if he felt the same reaction.
Meggie shoved the sword into his arms and ran for the door. Yet, when her hand touched the handle, she heard him speak.
“Dinnae leave me again, Meggie.”


by Rachael Richey
While her husband Gideon is recording a new album with his band NightHawk, Abi Hawk is busy getting her own career as a portrait painter back on track. 

Following the death of her father, which coincides with the opening night of her first exhibition in London, Abi and her daughter come across an old painting in his attic that sets them on a journey of discovery to Paris.  They uncover an astonishing and unexpected love story, one that has repercussions to the present day.

Meanwhile Gideon, in America to promote the new album, ignores Abi’s warnings and manages to put himself in a vulnerable situation that threatens to rock the stability of their marriage. Separated from Abi by nearly five thousand miles, and unable to speak to her, will he be able to resolve the situation before any real damage is done?
Excerpt
After a moment Abi heard a sharp intake of breath. “What is it, Tash? What have you found?”
Natasha wriggled back out holding a canvas pressed against her chest. Her eyes were wide. “Mum? Is this you?” she asked, her tone strangled. Slowly she turned the painting around and presented it to her mother.
Abi crawled forward and stared at the large dark, dusty canvas. She caught her breath. It showed a girl of about seventeen or eighteen, her back turned to the artist. She was looking over her shoulder and her very long auburn hair hung around her otherwise naked body. Her bright blue eyes shone out from the canvas with a bold expression, and a small smile played about her lips.
“Mum,” repeated Natasha, “Is it you?”
Abi shook her head violently. “Of course it’s not me!” she exclaimed indignantly. “I’ve never been that fat, and anyway it’s quite obviously far too old a painting to be me. Just because she has auburn hair… Honestly, Tash!”
“Oh, right, so you’re annoyed I thought it was you because she’s too fat, not because she’s naked? Really, Mother, I despair of you sometimes.” Natasha shook her head. “So, if it’s not you, then who is it? She looks a lot like you. You must be related.” She peered more closely at the painting. “D’you think it’s Joan or Pauline?”
Abi shook her head. “No…apart from the fact that I think we pretty much know their story now, this is even older than that. They didn’t have red hair, anyway. Let’s see… Does it have a date, or a signature anywhere?” She reached forward, gently took the large canvas out of her daughter’s hands, and carried it over to the single light bulb, suspended from a beam in the centre of the attic. Carefully brushing off the thick layer of dust that covered the painting, Abi searched the lower half of the work for any sign of a signature. She frowned and rubbed gently at the bottom right-hand corner.
“What is it? Have you found something?” Natasha leaned over Abi’s shoulder, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “Is it valuable?”
“You really have to stop thinking of things in monetary terms,” Abi murmured, “but in this case you may be right.” She moved the painting even nearer to the inadequate light and sucked in her breath. She glanced over her shoulder at Natasha. “Look, see here?” She pointed to a barely discernable squiggle in the bottom corner. “That’s a signature. And unless I’m very much mistaken, it’s the signature of Andrew Devereaux, which means, yes, it certainly is valuable.”
Natasha scrambled round and peered closely at the painting. “Wow,” she said. “So who’s this Andrew…thingywhatsit, then? And why is one of his paintings in your parents’ attic? And who’s the girl?”
Gently Abi laid the painting down. “Andrew Devereaux was probably the most brilliant portrait artist around in the twentieth century. He was American, but he did his most famous work in Paris. He was part of the artistic community at Montparnasse in the years between the wars.” She smiled at Natasha, “He would have known Picasso, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and…ooh, loads of people you won’t even have heard of! It would have been the most exciting time to live in Paris. We learnt all about him in art college, and to be honest, Andrew Devereaux was my biggest influence.”



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Spotlight: Infamous by Lori Sizemore


Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.


Excerpt

Justine put her fists on the bed and dipped her head until they were cheek to cheek. Turning to face him, she let her lips skim across the stubble on his cheek. A short sound escaped him at the touch. So like a growl, it inflamed her. She’d wanted to experience all of him, to touch and taste, a savage need to possess him took over. To take his mouth, to take him inside of her, until she drove all thought from him, the way he’d done to her. His scent flooded her senses, leaving her breathless, as she sought his kiss.

He pulled back to look at her, his eyes as unreadable as ever. He lifted his hand to her cheek and stroked her bottom lip with his thumb. “What is it?” she asked, her breath still coming in uneven bursts.

“I don’t want to give you the wrong idea.” His hand dropped and he eased himself from the mattress.

“About?”

He crossed behind her, to the door, and she twisted on the bed to look at him. Her robe gaped open with the movement, and she yanked it together with a hand, exposed now. But he wouldn’t meet her gaze, wouldn’t look at her at all, so it didn’t much matter. He looked at the TV, the window, the floor. Everywhere but at her. “About us.” Finally, he let his gaze rest on her.

Justine flinched slightly, and she hoped he hadn’t noticed. She forced herself to maintain eye contact. 
“You should go now.”

Sawyer spoke her name, his voice soft and full of pity. For her.

“Don’t. Don’t say it like that. Pathetic Justine, so unwise when she chooses a lover.” Justine climbed off the bed and walked the ten steps across the room to stand in front of him. “You know, I never thought I’d meet anyone more emotionally broken than me.”

“I’m trying to do the right thing here, which is a pretty novel experience for me, so…give me a break.”

Justine whirled away, grabbed his jacket off the chair where he’d dropped it earlier, and threw it at his head. “Get. Out.”

Sawyer caught the jacket before it slapped him upside the head, which disappointed her. He opened the door and then wrenched back around to look at her. “This is twice I haven’t taken advantage of you when you threw yourself at me. Next time, I’m using you for sex. You couldn’t possibly be more pissed by that.”

“There won’t be a next time!”

The door slammed behind him, and she jumped, staring at it for the longest time. She couldn’t get back in that bed, not now. She’d been so foolish, attributing feelings to him he didn’t have, to rationalize her own desires were getting the best of her.

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Author Bio

Lori Sizemore grew up in the mountains of West Virginia and never quite managed to escape them. Lori lives at home with her husband of twenty-plus years and two of her three daughters. She also lives with two dogs, a cat, and five hermit crabs. Yes, five of them. This menagerie and her family keep her busy. She worked in mental health as a social worker for ten years before making the choice to write full-time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Have you Tried the Hansel? He's Delicious!

Join me blogging today at Paranormal Romantics on Food and Fairy Tales. 

http://paranormalromantics.blogspot.com/2016/12/have-you-tried-hansel-hes-delicious.html

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Release: Tempting Mr. Jordan by Marin McGinnis

Tempting Mr. Jordan

by Marin McGinnis


After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.



EXCERPT
Julia pulled her cloak around her shoulders and left by the kitchen door. Soft snowflakes danced lightly around her head as she made her way toward the water. She loved the crisp air, the snow, the scents of wood smoke, salty waves, and pine. She walked around toward the lighthouse, imagining how much her brother would love it here. He’d have his sketchbook tucked under his arm, ready to pull out at a moment’s notice when the mood struck.
The snow began to fall faster, swirling around as she clambered over the large rocks at the water’s edge. The sky was streaked with red, orange, blue, and gray, and she stopped, perched, just to watch.
“Get out of the way!”
She jumped at the strident tone, nearly toppling into the water. Regaining her balance, she turned carefully, and sighed.
Geoffrey Jordan sat on a neighboring rock behind her, sketchbook in hand. His expression was darker than the sky had been when she started on this walk. Julia was unable to stop herself from stepping back in surprise. Apparently there were bears near the shore as well.
“You’re blocking my view.” The muscles of the man’s face settled into a grimace which Julia found only marginally less frightening than his scowl.
“All right, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there.” Julia took another step back and cried out in pain as her foot slipped into a crevice between the rocks.
Geoffrey swore and tossed his sketchbook to the side. He strode over to her and held out a hand.
Given his expression, Julia considered whether it might be safer to remain where she was. Geoffrey stuck his hand out again, waving it impatiently.
Julia finally realized she was more annoyed than afraid. “How am I supposed to grab your hand when you wave it about like that?”
“Oh, for God’s sake!” He reached down with both hands and grabbed her waist, pulling her to her feet. She ignored the tingling of her skin where he touched her and focused on her anger instead.
“I don’t know why you’re so angry at me. It’s not my fault I fell. You startled me.”
“You stepped into my line of sight. And now the sunrise is nearly gone, I’ve missed it, and it’s entirely your fault.”
Julia realized his hands still rested on her hips, and she pushed them away. “You sound like a petulant child.”
He returned to his sketchbook and sat down again. He started scribbling, ignoring her. She ignored him as well and gingerly ran a hand over her throbbing ankle. Her stocking was torn, and a shallow cut showed through it. Deciding she should return home to clean the wound, thanks to this odious man, she slowly made her way across the rocks past him. She caught a glimpse of his sketch as she passed. Intrigued, she stopped and bent at the waist, looked over his shoulder.
“You’re barely drawing anything at all. What does that say?”
He scowled again, but he answered, “Scarlet.”
She pointed at the corner of the drawing. “And that?”
“Azure. I thought all proper English ladies could read.”
“Your handwriting is terrible. What does that say?” She pointed again.
“Orange.”
She peered closer. “It does not. It looks like ‘crindle.’”
He laughed, and she turned her head to look at him. He was much less frightening when he laughed. Handsome. She blinked and unbent.
“‘Crindle’? What on earth does that mean?”
Her cheeks warmed. “Well, I don’t know, do I? It’s your drawing.”
“And it says ‘orange.’ What are you doing out here anyway?”
“I wanted to go for a walk.”
“At the crack of dawn?”
“I didn’t think I would see anyone.”
“Why didn’t you want to see anyone?”
She sighed. “Because conversation tires me, sometimes. This one in particular.”
“I don’t disagree.” He stroked his pencil across the paper a few more times, and she craned her neck to look.
“Why didn’t you just paint the sunrise? Why describe it?”
“Because the sunrise is a fleeting thing. It never lasts long enough for me to paint it, so I sketch the scene and write the names of the colors, to jog my memory when I am in my studio.”
Julia turned to look at the sky. It was gray now, with little wisps of blue and white streaked across it. All of the stunning red and orange hues were gone. She suddenly felt terrible for ruining his view.
“I am sorry I got in your way. I don’t suppose you could try again tomorrow?”
He shrugged. “A sunrise like that one is rare.”
Now she felt even worse. “Well, I am sorry.”
“Where did you think you were going? The rocks lead out into the water, and the tide will be in soon. What if you’d fallen when I wasn’t here to help? You’d have drowned.”
Shame was quickly replaced by annoyance. “I wouldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t startled me!”
“Well, it was careless.”
Julia placed both hands on her hips and stared at the insufferable man. “You haven’t a very high opinion of my intelligence, have you?”
“I have no opinion of your intelligence at all. I think you take risks that a lady shouldn’t take.”
“I was hardly doing pirouettes out here! I would have been fine if you hadn’t yelled at me.”
“I didn’t yell at you.”
“Yes, you did!”
“Fine! I’m sorry I yelled at you. Now go home, before you truly hurt yourself.” Before she could reply, he tucked his sketchbook under his arm, stood, and scrambled away across the rocks like a crab.
She watching him go, annoyed with him and herself in equal measure. Well, mostly with him. Insufferable man. She gingerly followed, lifting her skirts higher to avoid the rising water. The tide was indeed coming in.
She hated that he was right.


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A northeast Ohio native, Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page. She’s dabbled with writing for a long time, but didn’t start writing in earnest until she discovered historical romance about a decade ago. Marin has three historical romance titles published with The Wild Rose Press, and is a member of RWA and its Northeast Ohio, Hearts Through History, and Kiss of Death chapters. She will serve as President of the Northeast Ohio RWA chapter in 2017. Marin lives in a drafty 100 year old house with her husband, son, and two standard poodles named Larry and Sneaky Pete. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarinMcGinnis  (@MarinMcGinnis)

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Free Ebook for you from L. A. Kelley

Happy Holidays and a Free Ebook for You.

To celebrate the holidays and thank you all for checking out my blog, I'm offering a free download of Moon, Mist & Magic; five stories, five writers, and absolutely free for you with a coupon code for Smashwords.






To claim your copy go to Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/641184 

Click on Buy. All ebook formats are available.

If you don't have an account, you'll have to create one. It's easy, safe, and no spam.

At checkout enter coupon code: PX63P

Boom. That's it. Happy Holidays.