Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

December 13, 2017

A HOLIDAY FEAST FIT FOR ALL

Whether you enjoy the holidays as a couple or with friends and family this menu is sure to please. Several of the dishes can be made in advance which makes your life easier. They are noted with asterisks. Also, you have an assortment of appetizers and side dishes to choose from. No need to make everything unless you want to. Select the ones you find the most interesting and let your creativity shine.

I strongly recommend you have all the ingredients grouped together on the counter for each dish before you start cooking, including measuring utensils and cookware. This is a good practice no matter how small or large your menu.

APPETIZERS
Marinated Black Olives
Sweet Barbequed Meatballs
Pear Mini-tarts
Shrimp
Dry Champagne
DINNER
Chateaubriand
Sautéed Asparagus
Sautéed Broccoli
Sautéed Mushrooms
Boiled Potatoes
Tomato Salad
Bordeaux Wine
DESSERT
Orange Granite
Gelato
Riesling Wine


Black Olives in Oil*

1 can medium-size pitted black olives, drained
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
Olive oil
Glass jar with a secure lid

Empty the olives into the jar. Add the garlic. Pour in the olive oil to cover. Refrigerate at least 1 week. The mix will become thick and cloudy. It’s okay, that’s the oil solidifying.

To serve, set the jar on the counter until the oil becomes clear and normal consistency, which will take several hours. Spoon out the quantity of olives you wish to serve into a pretty dish. Be sure to have toothpicks. Put the jar back in the fridge for future use. You can refill with more olives and the mixture can stay good for up to three months.

Sweet Barbequed Meatballs**

1 bag frozen Italian seasoned meatballs
10 oz. grape jelly
1 bottle barbecue sauce
¼ cup dry red wine

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan. Be sure the meatballs are covered with the
jelly and barbecue sauce. Adjust the amounts as necessary. Be sparing if you add more wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until meatballs are heated through.

Keep warm on the stove or in a low-heat oven until you’re ready to serve. To make your life easier during the busy holiday season, prepare this appetizer several days in advance of your party. Be sure to cover and refrigerate. On party day, remove the meatballs from the fridge at least 2 hours prior to serving. Warm either on the stovetop or in the oven.

Pear Mini-Tarts
4 oz. brie with rind removed
1 tbsp. celery, finely chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. chives, snipped fine
Pre-baked mini-tart shells, usually found in the frozen food section
2 pears
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Poppy seed, optional

**Mash brie with a fork in a bowl. Mix in the celery, pepper. Gradually beat in the cream cheese. Fold in chives. Cover and chill in refrigerator until needed.

20 – 30 minutes before serving peel, core, and quarter pears. Cut into slices and then mix with lemon juice. This stops them from turning brown.

Fill shell with cheese mixture. Stand a pear piece on top and then sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds.

Shrimp***
Lettuce leaves
Shrimp sauce
Precooked shrimp, thawed if frozen
A few lemon slices

Arrange a few lettuce leaves on a plate. Pour sauce into a small bowl and then set in the center of the lettuce. Lay the shrimp around the bowl in a nice design. Add the lemon for those who like a taste on their shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chateaubriand
1 beef tenderloin
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped
½ cup red wine
2 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 450° F or 235°C.

Season the meat with pepper.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the meat and brown on all sides, including the two ends.

Set the pan in the oven and roast 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board and tent with foil.

Pour all but a thin film of fat from the pan. Add the shallot and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour in the wine. Raise heat to high. Scrape any brown bits around the side and bottom into the wine.

The sauce will become syrupy in about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and then whisk in the butter.

Cut the meat into thick slices and drizzle with the sauce.

Steamed Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dry vermouth or white wine
Tap water
2 tbsp butter
Metal vegetable steamer

Add chicken stock and dry vermouth to a medium size saucepan. Insert vegetable steamer, then add tap water to just below the bottom holes.

Trim the bottom ends of the asparagus to fit your saucepan. Add spears and cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat, adjusting the heat to a strong simmer. In 4-5 minutes the asparagus should be crisp tender.

Lay asparagus in an ovenproof dish, spread butter over them. Tent with foil and set in the oven to keep warm while you finish preparing the meal.

Sautéed Broccoli
I head broccoli
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
¼ cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Trim the flowerettes from the stalk.

Heat a medium-size frying pan on medium-high heat. Add oil. Stir in broccoli and butter when the oil shimmers. Turn and flip broccoli to coat well. You may need a little more oil for this. Sauté until crisp tender.

Sprinkle cheese over the broccoli and serve. Or tent with foil and set in the oven while you finish preparing dinner.

Sautéed Mushrooms
10 baby Bello mushrooms
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
¼ medium onion sliced thin
healthy splash of dry vermouth or white wine

Clean the mushrooms with a dry paper towel. I prefer to slice the mushrooms in half lengthwise. They cook better. This can be done early in the day if that’s more convenient.

Set a frying pan on medium heat. When the pan is quite warm, add olive oil and butter. As the foam subsides add the sliced onion. Sauté for a few minutes, be careful not to brown or burn the onion.

Stir in the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until well coated with the oil mixture. Add more butter or oil if the mixture seems dry.

Pour vermouth or wine onto the mushrooms then cook a 2 minutes longer. This dish can be served hot or room temp, but not cold.

Boiled Potatoes***
Chicken stock, fresh or store bought
1 bay leaf or 2 tbsp. dried basil
2 small potatoes per person
Butter to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

Fill a pot a little less than half filled with chicken stock. Add bay leaf or basil. Peel a circle around the potatoes and rinse. Drop them into pot. Cover the potatoes with water and a lid. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat so potatoes continue to cook on a soft boil.

Fork test after 15 – 20 minutes. It should slide in easily when the potatoes are done.

Drain water and remove bay leaf. If you’ve used basil, most will drain away and that’s okay. You want the flavor more than the leaves. Add butter and pepper. Turn with a spatula or spoon to coat well. Return potatoes and pot to burner with the heat turned off.

If you opt to cook the potatoes early in the day be sure to remove the lid so they cool to room temperature. After they do cover with the lid and set aside. Set this saucepan in the oven after the Chateaubriand is done and you’re preparing the sauce. Set the oven at 210°F or 100°C.

Tomato Salad***
1 plum tomato per 2 people sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ tsp. garlic pressed
½ cup olive oil
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. scallions sliced thin
1 tbsp. finely cut fresh basil or 1 teas. dried
1 tsp. parsley dried – if you use fresh, chop well

Arrange the tomatoes in slightly overlapping concentric circles on a deep, round plate or platter.

Prepare the dressing by blending the oil, vinegar, basil, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture over the tomatoes.

Combine the scallions and parsley, then sprinkle evenly over the top. Cover and set on the counter until ready to serve.

Orange Granite – Flavored Ice**
2 cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp. lemon juice

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. Timing from the moment the sugar water begins to boil, cook the mixture for exactly 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, stir the orange and lemon juices into the syrup. Pour mixture into a shallow metal pan.

Freeze the granite for 3 to 4 hours. Every 30 minutes, stir and scrape in the ice particles that form on the sides of the pan. The granite should be a fine, snowy texture. For a coarser texture, which I prefer, freeze the flavored syrup in ice cube trays until solid, then drop cubes into a plastic bag and smash with a heavy wooden spoon or mallet.

Gelato
This is where I head to the grocery store. Gelato is not an easy item to make. I suggest you buy one of the flavor combinations to end your meal on a sweet note.

*Make at least one week in advance of serving.
**Can be made one day in advance of serving.
***Prepare early in the day you plan to serve.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a beautiful New Year!

Sloane

Sloane said @ 12:31 am | Cooking | Comments

December 12, 2017

To All Our Jewish Friends and Readers

Photo by digitalart

The Taylor Family
wishes
you and yours,

HAPPY HANUKKAH
Sloane said @ 12:54 am | Holidays | Comments

December 11, 2017

A SPECIAL HOLIDAY TREAT

by Sharon Ledwith

This version of caramel corn is truly the easiest, and most foolproof recipe you’ll ever find.

Package this treat for gifts to friends and neighbors during the holiday season, and you’ll be the most popular person on the street. Perfect for stocking stuffers or hostess gifts too! Tie a bag of caramel corn to a bottle of wine, or fill a decorated mason jar for party favors. The gift-giving possibilities are endless!

Not-Your-Usual Caramel Corn

Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash.com

7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts or cashews or your favorite nuts, optional
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 cup margarine
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250° F (120° C).

Place popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking/roasting pans. Add the peanuts or your choice of nuts (mix’em up if you wish) to the popcorn. Set aside.

Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Boil for 5 minutes. Stir constantly.

Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don’t worry too much at this point about getting all of the popcorn coated.

Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans and giving them a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the popcorn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces.

Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.

So while the corn is cooling, and maybe you’re doing a few taste tests, why not relax on the couch, and visit the small, tourist town of Fairy Falls, starting with Lost and Found, Book #1 of Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls? Just don’t forget the bug spray.

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power, all the while trying to lead a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Fairy Falls Animal Shelter is in trouble. Money trouble. It’s up to an old calico cat named Whiskey—a shelter cat who has mastered the skill of observation—to find a new human pack leader so that their home will be saved. With the help of Nobel, the leader of the shelter dogs, the animals set out to use the ancient skill of telepathy to contact any human who bothers to listen to them. Unfortunately for fifteen-year-old Meagan Walsh, she hears them, loud and clear.

Forced to live with her Aunt Izzy in the safe and quiet town of Fairy Falls, Meagan is caught stealing and is sentenced to do community hours at the animal shelter where her aunt works. Realizing Meagan can hear her, Whiskey decides that Meagan just might have the pack leader qualities necessary to save the animals. Avoiding Whiskey and the rest of shelter animals becomes impossible for Meagan, so she finally gives in and promises to help them. Meagan, along with her newfound friends, Reid Robertson and Natalie Knight, discover that someone in Fairy Falls is not only out to destroy the shelter, but the animals as well.

Can Meagan convince her aunt and co-workers that the animals are in danger? If she fails, then all the animals’ voices will be silenced forever.

BUY LINKS
Amazon KindleAmazon PaperbackBarnes & NobleMirror World Publishing ebookMirror World Publishing Paperback

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Sloane said @ 1:17 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

December 6, 2017

SAY HAPPY HOLIDAYS with CHOCOLATE

by Catherine Castle

My mother-in-law is a good cook and a wonderful candy maker. She shared this recipe many years ago and it is now a family tradition for the holidays. I hope you enjoy it, too.

CHRISTMAS CANDY

Photo by Darren Coleshill on Unsplash.com

2 pkg. (2 cups) semi sweet chocolate morsels
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk

Using a double boiler, melt chocolate over hot water (not boiling). When melted, remove from heat and add milk.

Variations to Finish
Let mixture cool until you can handle. Shape mixture into ¾ inch balls. Roll in chopped coconut or chopped peanuts or press a walnut in center of the ball.

Or pour mixture into a square pan, score or cut into squares, press an almond into each square before it cools completely.

Another option is icing to decorate the squares like little gift packages.

Once you’ve finished making the candy snag a few pieces for yourself and nestle in with a fun sweet romance.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, published in 2013 from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins, including:
2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance
2014 RONE WINNER for Inspirational romance
2014 EPIC finalist for Action/adventure romance
2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Sloane said @ 12:28 am | Cooking | Comments

December 4, 2017

A Cozy Mystery is like a Family Christmas Puzzle

by Janis Lane

For me, pulling together the pieces of a cozy mystery dictates the same patience an after-Christmas family puzzle requires. I listened to my daughter teach her young son a technique.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplas.com

“First,” she said, “we look for the straight edges. That tells us how far the picture (or story) can go. See? The waterfall ends right here. Next we look for colors that tell us something about the center of the puzzle. Isn’t this dark blue part of someone’s skirt? And here is another piece the same color. Now we have half a person. There’s a lot of red. Perhaps it’s a different person. (Our characters.) Perhaps that light blue is the sky (setting). Are there green trees? (Summer) Is that grass? Is there a storm in the sky?” (Trouble looms.)

Step by step an author pieces together clues to make a whole. Especially important for a mystery is the process that leads us finally to the answer of the ultimate puzzle. Who did it? How do we catch them? How can we keep innocent people from harm?

Murder on Blake Hill is the third in the series of Detective Kevin Fowler Mysteries. In this story we join a group of neighbors and friends who all live in a small town in typical American fashion. When certain events go awry, the detective starts to systematically pair clues and events with a time line to solve the puzzle. On the way we can enjoy the interaction of our favorite characters as they live and love in this particular setting (the edge pieces). With the richness of an exquisitely woven tapestry, we join in sharing their emotions: happy, exciting, and sad. Sometimes they are frightened and other times filled with astonishment.

The detective has gained the trust of the townspeople and feels the pressure to find the answer to the puzzle. Who is the disruptive visitor at the church barbecue? How do we catch a stalker? Are we finally going to enjoy a wedding celebration? Who killed two old men up on Blake Hill Cemetery and why?

Detective Kevin Fowler is baffled by the wall of silence that greets him from the relatives of two septuagenarians whose bodies are discovered in a country cemetery called Blake Hill. Even more upsetting is the unusual rash of vandalism reported nightly by the citizens in his peaceful community. Have the teenagers declared an uprising? Night patrols reveal a totally unexpected and shocking situation. When a poignant secret is revealed, Beverly Hampton weeps over the sadness of a long ago tragedy, but soon wedding bells are heard for the home town princess and the popular detective. At the local diner the alluring fragrance of fresh-baked, cinnamon sticky buns continues to reign over the peaceful citizens of Hubbard, New York.

Amazon Buy Link
Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 1:01 am | Author Friend Promo | 4 Comments

November 29, 2017

Sweet and Oh So Cool

from Vonnie Hughes

This is a perfect sweet for the holidays or any time of the year the desire for something sweet and cool strikes your fancy.

COCONUT ICE

Taryn Navarro on Unsplash.com

3 breakfast cups (mugs) of white sugar
1 ounce of butter
¾ breakfast cup (mug) of desiccated coconut*
½ breakfast cup (mug) of milk
Pinch of salt
Coloring if wanted

Put all the ingredients, except the coloring, into a saucepan and boil for 10 minutes.

Add coloring.

Beat until thick. This won’t take long, it sets quickly.

Pour into a greased tin and mark into squares.

* Dried coconut may substitute if desiccated isn’t available.

Here is a peek at Vonnie’s latest romantic suspense.

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your own mother? Through the clammy fog, Celie Francis hears the chilling message. “I know who you are, Celie. I know where you live.” And in the terrifying aftermath she reconnects with her dysfunctional family in ways she had never imagined.

BLURB:
Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she’s placed in the Unit “New Zealand’s witness protection program” where she’s expected to trust strangers with her life.

It’s psychologist Brand Turner’s job to ease witnesses into their new identities, not to protect them, but Célie stirs feelings in him that are far from professional. When it appears someone is leaking critical information that could endanger Célie, Brand will do anything to protect her. But first he has to convince her to trust him.

Adrift in a frightening world, Célie would like to believe the handsome psychologist is everything he seems, but as witnesses are murdered and danger swirls around them, Célie must decide “can she trust Brand with her life? 

Please click a vendor’s name to read more from Lethal Refuge The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 12:15 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

November 27, 2017

NEW RELEASE for YASMINE PHOENIX

If paranormal and urban fantasy are your thing then you are sure to enjoy this debut novel from Yasmine Phoenix. Years of plotting and planning and rewriting gave life to Resurrection, Book One in the Witches Brew series. I hope you enjoy this introduction.

Sometimes to do good you have to do bad.

Sophia Sullivan is a dedicated doctor who is also a powerful but untrained witch. Sophia has worked hard to keep her two worlds apart. Recently her older brother died and her best friend committed suicide. Gabrielle’s mother is furious over her child’s death and holds Sophia’s womanizing brother responsible. Lady Morgan plots to use dark magic to open the portal that separates the living and the dead. She will return Sebastian to life and save her daughter’s soul. Two acts that mean either immediate death or the destruction of Chicago.

Sophia tries to stop the witch, fails, the portal opens, and her brother escapes. Now Sebastian needs a body. And that body becomes that of a young black man. Neither man is delighted.

Now Sophia has hard choices to make that include using her fledging magic. Choices she spent her life avoiding. Can she save her friend’s soul, return her brother to the other side of the portal, and free the young man all within forty-eight hours and not be discovered by the Pagan leaders? She must decide to either honor her oath as a doctor and save a life, or her oath as a witch to protect Chicago even if it means her death.

EXCERPT
“I’m going to save my daughter’s immortal soul. She’s been denied an afterlife because of her suicide. If anyone is unfit, it’s your brother. What did he get for his transgressions when he died? Perpetual reflection. He’s just as much responsible as if he’d poured those pills down her throat. Again the rich and powerful get away with murder.” The word dripped sarcasm and disgust from her lips.

“Lady Morgan, you’re not listening to me. You haven’t thought through what could go wrong.”

“I found an ancient spell that will allow me to save my child.”

“Opening the portal is dangerous and forbidden.”

“I don’t care.”

“You could release him…”

“I don’t care.”

“You could kill yourself and William.”

“I don’t care.”

“You could fail to save Gabrielle’s soul.”

“Then we all die.” She shrieked and raised her knife at me. Then she calmed down and smiled. The type of smile that told you the person believed what they were doing was right and they were crazy.
William mouthed, ‘Sorry’ as tears streamed down his ashen face.

I lowered my head and closed my eyes. Our families had been close for years. Gabrielle and I grew up together. We shared vacations and secrets. She cared for me during my med school days. I found her body. She addressed her suicide note to me. If anyone had the insane idea to save her soul, “t should have been me.

“You aren’t strong enough to open the portal.” I made one final desperate attempt.

“Well look around sweetie. The portal is opening. It seems the all mighty Pagan council and the legendary Peregrine coven don’t know everything.” Lady Morgan tapped her temple with her finger.

Don’t call me, sweetie.

I clenched my fists as anger and sympathy jockeyed for control. My magic raged to be turned loose and battle the witch.

Lightning struck the brick. Bits exploded on the ground. My eardrums throbbed with its loud crackle. Lady Morgan returned to her ceremony and ignored me. I was no threat to her as long as I remained outside the circle. I had to convince her invite me in, and then…. The fog closed in on the circle. I stumbled forward and placed myself between it and Lady Morgan.

Richard offered his arm for support.

“Well she’s gone old school,” he said.

“Resurrection spell?”

He nodded.

“Enlighten me. My knowledge of ancient dark rituals is rather light. And make it quick.”

“If you want to save the soul of a witch who has committed suicide, she must confront the reasons for taking her life. Once they do and beg forgiveness from the person her death hurt the most, she could be forgiven, her soul cleansed, and she might be granted an afterlife.”

“Might? Could?” I tried to dissect the components of the spell. Something was off, missing. Gabrielle had been dead five days. She wasn’t inside the portal – yet.

The fog whirled faster. Its low moan morphed into a high screech. Richard’s mouth moved but I couldn’t hear what he said.

“What?”

“Gabrielle isn’t on the other side. Lady Morgan wants—.

“Sebastian!” She held him responsible for Gabrielle’s death. She was going to make him pay for all the pain she’d suffered.

“No Lady Morgan, don’t release him. I demand you stop.”

I stepped closer. Perspiration sizzled on my cheeks. She ignored me. Richard reached for my arm.

Lady Morgan smiled as if she were winning. Her smile waned when she looked at the fog. Her eyes lit up with fear. A skeletal leg stepped out and then its fleshless bony body.

The immense magic was mesmerizing.

It was beautiful.

Hypnotic.

Deadly.

“Lady Sophia Sullivan.”

Richard’s voice snapped me back. The skeletal figure strolled past me. Its preternatural presence pulled me close. Its confident stride, arrogant demeanor reminded me of my brother. I sensed Sebastian’s presence.

“Lady Morgan’s shoulders slumped. She tried to catch her breath. She’d pushed her magic to the brink and it was killing her. There was no way she could finish, but she’d opened the portal.

“Lady Morgan, I offer my assistance.” The words tumbled out of my mouth.
]
“What? Are you kidding?” Richard squeezed my arm.

I rubbed his fingers and then stepped away. “Trust me and follow my lead,” I whispered. I swallowed the urge to vomit. I wasn’t going to let anyone die tonight and I wasn’t going to let him out.

“I… don’t… don’t… need …your help.”

There was fear and doubt in her voice. I used it, convinced her I was on her side, at least until she granted me entrance.

“Yes you do. You’re weakening under the power of the portal. William can hardly hold himself upright. You need….” The name seared my tongue. “You need a Peregrine. You need — me.”

Buy Links: AmazonKobo

Yasmine ‘Yas’ Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can’t tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, “What if?” She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.

Learn more about Yasmine Phoenix on her website. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sloane said @ 12:41 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments

November 23, 2017

The Entire Taylor Family

Wishes You and Yours
A Happy Thanksgiving
Sloane said @ 12:34 am | Holidays | Comments

November 22, 2017

GOING GREEK

from Dominique Eastwick

Greek Chicken Pasta

1 lb. pasta, your favorite type
½ cup chopped red onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. dried oregano
Black or Greek olives, chopped and as many as you like
salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons, wedged, for garnish and for an extra lemony taste

Cook pasta in boiling water until tender yet firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce temperature to medium. Add onion and garlic and sauté until their aroma fills the room, about 2 minutes. Be careful not to let this mixture burn.

Add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and the pasta. Heat through, about 4 minutes, and serve.

How about a good book after your fine dinner?

When Kalista’s father suffers a stroke just hours before making an important payment on a loan, she rushes to Greece to make amends before the billionaire tycoon swoops in to take the family business. She is convinced if she gives him the check in person, all will be fine and she can return to help her father on his long road to recovery. She did not anticipate Leonidas Karatasos.

This is not the first time Mr. Vidal has missed a payment, but it would be the last. Leonidas would let no one take advantage of him or his family, but when he steps off the boat on his family’s island, his mate is waiting for him check in hand. Kalista Vidal is everything he wanted and nothing he expected.

With the moon rising into the reign of Leo, Leonidas has one month to woo and bond with Kalista, or he must wait until the next Leo cycle. But with the world’s prides convening on the island for the month, he must deal with dangers his mate could never imagine. All the while figuring out how to let his lion out of the bag.

EXCERPT
“Look at me,” he demanded and something compelled her to listen. The golden orbs searched hers, his jaw locked and his breathing was shallow. He reflected all the things she was. His kiss, gentle at first, built until she thought she would expire if she didn’t touch him. Hours could have passed as they lay in each other’s arms. His kiss both soothed and excited. Finally, he lifted his head. “I understand. Your needs are mine. But you can’t go into this relationship without knowing everything about me.”

Her thigh muscles started to shake. She fought to keep her legs together while desperate to rip the silk from her body so she could wrap herself around him. “I promise nothing you say will change my desire for you.”
“You’re in the midst of the mating fever. It came on far quicker than I expected.”

“Then, help me,” she begged. Her hands the only tool she had to work with. She worked the buttons of his tuxedo shirt, inflamed to find a T-shirt blocking her ability to touch him. Frantic she worked the shirts from his waistband and replaced them with her touch. He hissed as she gripped his ass, pushing his erection into closer contact with her. With one knee in the sofa and a foot on the floor, he made a move to sit up. She took the opening to grip his long, hard cock. He flexed his hips so she could touch him more.
He threw his head back with a moan. She worked the length of him from base to tip. With every move, she adjusted him the way she wanted. He would be putty in her hands. With her free hand, she worked the button and zipper until his pants released and his cock sprang free.

Desire to taste him, to show him she could hunt and make him her prey infused her. She brought her lips down to the red angry tip, glistening with precum, and sucked. She savored the salty flavor, taking as much of him as she could into her mouth. She didn’t have to be an expert to know it wasn’t much. His hands, which had been fisted at his sides, shot up and tangled into her golden locks, urging her to take more and creating a rhythm to follow.

She might not have experience, but she had an inner sense of what he desired. With every flex of his hips, she took a little more of him into her mouth. When she cupped his balls, he growled and pulled out of her mouth. His lips came down on hers, bruising and demanding.

“Please help me,” she whispered against his lips. She needed release only he could give.

“Boss, sorry to interrupt. You have a challenge,” a gruff voice interrupted through the double glass doors leading outside.

“Ten minutes. Give me ten fucking minutes,” he growled never taking his eyes off her. When the sound of footsteps retreated, he lifted the hem of her dress. “I would give anything to taste you right now. But, if I did, we would never get out of here.”

“Please,” she begged again. If he left her like this she would never forgive him.

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Award-Winning author Dominique Eastwick currently calls North Carolina home with her husband, two children, one crazy lab and one lazy cat. Dominique spent much of her early life moving from state to state as a Navy Brat. Because of that, traveling is one of her favorite pastimes. When not writing you can find Dominique with her second love…her camera.

Learn more about Dominique Eastwick on her website, blog, and Amazon author page. Be sure to join her Newsletter for up to the minute info on new releases, contests, and more.

Stay connected on Facebook Twitter, Tublr, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 12:14 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

November 20, 2017

NEW RELEASE FOR EMMA LANE

All-time Regency Romance maven, Emma Lane, has released her third delightful Christmas collection of short stories for your reading pleasure. These holiday tales will warm your heart. They are a perfect read at this time of the year.

A true love match for each sister with Christmas weddings to follow.

Four sisters, each named for a precious jewel, Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Amber, find their true destinies as they fall in love with their soulmate and who just happens to be a handsome hero.

Left to fend for themselves when their father passes, the sisters manage one by one to fulfill their destiny and find their true loves in these four seasonal Christmas love stories.


A Short Excerpt from “A Second Chance for the Marquis”
“Are you ready to return to the drawing room, Pearl, My Lady?” He placed his face almost in her hair and sniffed discreetly. The fragrance of her soap was heady, and he tried to disguise his delight. Truth to tell, his shaky emotions were a bit of an embarrassment to him. “Or shall we stroll the gardens? I see you have them well in hand.” He led her past the musical fountain and deeper into the shrubbery. He smiled tenderly to spy the smear of garden soil still present on one rosy cheek. Perhaps he could throw her on the back of his horse and gallop away.

“Will you be at your estate next door now, Justin? You have come home to take control of the reins after your father’s passing. He was such a strong man, his death came as a big surprise to all who loved him. How is your mother? I know she misses him dreadfully.” They walked through the flowering shrubs with the sights and sounds of late summer all around them. Fat bees laden with yellow pollen tumbled through the blossoms on their way to their hordes of honey.

A rising bubble of happiness filled him until he fell into an almost ethereal spiritual mood. This day was such a contrast to that frozen misery, when he had been forced to leave his love that bleak winter December. Deep in his heart he had feared and believed he was losing her forever.

“Yes, she is happy to have me home. I am to bring you greetings and a plea for a visit soon.” He steered her toward a stone bench flanked by a climbing pink rosebush. After he had settled Lady Pearl, he lingered to stand in front of her and basked in the sight. As a slight breeze caressed his face, Justin breathed in the heady fragrance of the roses and allowed his feelings freedom. He caressed her with his eyes, allowing them to travel and touch her, as he wished–no longed–he might with his hands.

“You are smiling at me. What amuses you? I know I am untidy, but surely you forgive an old friend who loves her garden.” He admired her slender neck while she stared up at him with that tiny nose full of freckles. She reminded him of a little bird with her head cocked to one side and a quizzical expression peeking up at him. He clenched his fist to keep from seizing her face and smothering it with burning kisses.

“I confess I’m enjoying your company, my lady. Our letters did not satisfy my need to be by your side. We have several years to catch up, do we not? Now you must tell me about these wards of yours. I will hear about those lovely sisters of yours later. First, the surprising designation of an informal guardianship imposed upon you?” He tugged gently on her hands, resisting pulling her firmly into his arms.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Emma Lane enjoys leaving her garden for a few hours to dip into the romance genre Regency era of history. Join her for a glimpse of a half selkie fairy as she teases a powerful duke and fights the curse of a lowly, evil warlock. Other Regency romances are available on Amazon and Wild Rose Press. As Janis Lane she writes a series of Cozy Mysteries for Soul Mate Publishing.

Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:08 am | Author Friend New Releases | Comments