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Archive for December, 2015

NEW YORK CITY’S DARKEST FEARS

HAVE ARRIVED

It’s the near future and New York City as we know it is an alternate universe away. Violence and corruption lurk around every corner and a new wave of organized crime rules the streets. Author Adam Dunn’s New York is like nothing we know yet possesses an alarming air of familiarity and warning for what might come. Race riots, terrorist threats, a collapsing economy, warring political parties and widespread distrust in all institutions rule the land. Every day is a fight for survival. With his fast-paced new series (Dunn Books; Nov. 15, 2015), Dunn forces readers to wonder—just how close are we to stumbling into the same fate?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ADAM DUNN is the author of the novels Rivers of Gold, The Big Dogs, and Saint Underground, the forthcoming novel The Unfathomable Deep, and co-writer (with Eric Anderson) of the forthcoming novel Osiris. He spent years as a freelance writer cultivating an extensive series of networks among the military, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial communities. His byline has appeared in 18 publications in four countries. Some of those include: CNN and BBC News (online); Inc., Paper, SOMA, and Publishers Weekly magazines (glossy); and the San Francisco Chronicle and South

 

Adam Dunn Q&A

  • Your series has been described as ‘tech-noir.’ What does this genre entail?

This was an invention of one of my early blurbers for ROG. I don’t know if this is an extant category or not. If I had to guess I’d say this was some subset of genre fiction (i.e., “mystery”, “thriller” etc.) featuring content of darker and more gritty variety, wherein contemporary technology merely augments age-old dilemmas of why humans keep finding themselves in the situations they do, and why they keep making the same mistakes they do while trying to get out of them. George Alec Effinger, Philip K. Dick and William Gibson exemplified this and were branded “cyber-punk” for their efforts. Genre is in the eye of the reviewer.

  • What inspired you to write this series?

I married in 2006, and wanted to get some books of my own out into the market following nearly a decade of writing articles on a freelance basis. I’d just had a four-part news series on the taxi industry published by Cobrapost.com, and was considering turning it into a nonfiction book. At the same time, I had an idea for a police procedural featuring a cop in a cab. By this time, I was also writing a blog called The Bunny Papers satirizing the confluence of political and financial bungling that characterized the ’07 real estate crash. When this snowballed into the stock market crash of ’08, I knew I had not just one novel, but a whole series borne of the chaos of those dark days. I knew there would be others who would write nonfiction accounts of the period, and they’d do it better than I could.

  • What research or personal experience allowed you to write so precisely about the New York cab industry?

To do this, I spent a lot of time with garage owners, mini-fleet owners, shop foremen, union reps, medallion loan brokers, top TLC officials, and, of course, cab drivers.

  • There is a shocking degree of excess and debauchery in the New York City streets you created. Is this where we are today—or where we’re headed?

If you think this is shocking you should have seen it in the ‘80s, which were every bit as bad as the ‘70s, just more colorful. My view of things to come, while admittedly dire, derives entirely from current situations, as well as extrapolations of current political, economic, and social trends to what I believe are very plausible, very attainable degrees.

  • What was the inspiration behind the Renny’s character?

In the ‘90s I watched several generations of young men make appalling decisions, about money, about work, about politics and people. They were absolutely convinced they were right, until they weren’t. Renny is for them.

  • What was the inspiration behind Santiago’s character?

Santiago was my original cop in the cab, but at that point he had little form or depth. It was only once the crash and More were fully realized that Santiago took shape as a voice of reason in a time of chaos, and an example of how to thrive in an age of decay. A survivor.

  • There isn’t a clear hero in the story, so who would you consider the ‘hero’?

I leave that to readers to decide. Some have told me that Santiago is a hero, while More is an antihero. Others vote for McKeutchen. Some have even said that NYC itself is the hero, for surviving such a fate as I created for it.

  • Do your characters—particularly Renny—get what they deserve?

They would argue lethally about “deserve”. No one gets entirely what they want, in my books.

  • Is Renny supposed to come across as a misogynist or does he push women like N and La away so they won’t get hurt?

Renny is played and betrayed by the women in his life. He doesn’t push them away—he thinks he’s in control, even as he’s clearly losing it. Such is the privilege of youth.

  • In your writing there is a beautiful, dizzying use of acronyms and technical jargon. What do you value more: plot or presentation?

One cannot exist without the other, not in this form and length.

  • The books seem to cautionary tales of where society might be headed. What feelings do you want readers to walk away with after reading the book?

Don’t be impulsive, reactionary, or thin-skinned. Beware the hidden dynamic of orthodoxy belying any movement trumpeting individuality, rights, special needs or interests. This is an old power game, a long con. Hone your skills, play to your strengths. Vote with your head before your heart, and if you can’t do that, stick with your feet, they may well be your last best resort.

  • If you could change anything about this series, what would it be?

Nothing. Just wish I’d been able to start it sooner.

 

Adam Dunn’s series can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and other fine booksellers.

 

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[This is the last installment of my special series on holiday recipes from romance authors. Today I welcome Patricia Davids, author of An Amish Noel.]

Amish_Noel_Cover_Image

Merry Christmas from me, Patricia Davids. If you love pecans the way I do, you’ll want to enjoy this delicious holiday recipe all year round. They are called Kentucky Pecan Bars and they are YUM. Pair them with a cup of hot peppermint cocoa and you’ll have a real treat to savor while you enjoy my latest book, An Amish Noel.

Kentucky Pecan Bars

Crust:

Nonstick cooking spray

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small dice

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

1 2/3 cups pecans

6 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 cup honey

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons bourbon

Zest of 1 orange

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the crust: Adjust the oven rack to the bottom position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the butter is pea-sized. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough begins to pull from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, gather together and pat into a rectangle. Roll the dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle that measures about 13 by 15 inches. Trim the rough edges and ease the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides (trim the dough more on the sides as needed). Prick the dough a couple times with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the dough starts to set up, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake until the crust is just golden, about 5 minutes more. Let it cool completely.

For the filling: Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and spread the pecans out on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool and then coarsely chop.

Bring a couple of inches of water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Put the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl that sits comfortably in the saucepan without touching the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread it evenly on the crust and let it set up.

Beat the honey and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Pour in the melted butter and continue to beat. Add the flour, bourbon, orange zest and vanilla. Sprinkle the pecans over the white chocolate and pour in the honey mixture.

Bake until the top of the filling is golden brown and the center sets up, 30 to 40 minutes. Cover and put in the refrigerator until cool. When ready to serve, cut into 36 even bars.

Recipe courtesy of Damaris Phillips, From The Food Network website.

ABOUT AN AMISH NOEL

Luke Bowman’s homecoming is turning Emma Swartzentruber’s carefully ordered world upside down. Gone is her rebellious girlhood crush, and in his place is a handsome man who seems committed to serving the community. Luke’s even agreed to work for Emma’s ill father, whose last wish is to see his daughter wedded to a stable, loving man. But Luke—a man who flirted with the outside world with disastrous consequences—is hardly marriage material for a good Amish woman. Yet this Christmas, when her family is flung into crisis, Emma finds that he may just be the one to capture her heart for good.

Patricia Davids’ books can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and other fine booksellers.

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[Today’s installment in my Romantic Christmas Recipes from Romance Writers comes from Marie Ferrarella who is offering the Christmas tale, “Her Mistletoe Cowboy.”]

Mistletoe_Cowboy_Cover_Image

I think Christmas and everyone I know thinks of my mint chip brownies and my marzipan bundt cake. The brownies are more or less a standard recipe, except doubled (so the brownies are nice and thick) and add in lots of mint chips.  Here’s the marzipan cake:

Marzipan Cake

INGREDIENTS:

 1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white (or yellow) cake mix

1 (5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ cup of vegetable oil

¾ cup of Amaretto

4 eggs

½ cup of almond slivers

1 tube of almond paste (marzipan)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10 inch bundt pan with Pam (with flour)
  1. Cut almond paste into approximately 14 slices, then put into blender (or something that resembles coffee bean grinder). Object is to break up the slices into tiny pieces to distribute the flavor throughout the cake.
  1. In medium bowl combine all the above ingredients then beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.
  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes (insert knife in center, cake is done when knife comes out clean) Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert and remove cake from pan (with luck!). Let cake cool completely, then drizzle with powder sugar.

5.         Enjoy

ABOUT HER MISTLETOE COWBOY

Kimberly Lee isn’t sure what she’ll find when she comes to Forever, Texas, to do a story on a groundbreaking program that could put this small town on the map. It certainly isn’t the warm, friendly community that makes the roving reporter feel instantly at home. Or the accident that lays her up at Garrett White Eagle’s ranch, where the blue-eyed rancher awakens feelings she long ago gave up.

Giving people hope again is the goal of the healing ranch Garrett started with his brother. And the lovely, hardworking writer is no exception. Doesn’t Kim realize how much good they can do—together? Her future is here with him. If she’s willing to trust in a love that could fulfill the promise of forever.

 

Marie Ferrarella’s books can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and other fine booksellers.

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[Like the hot romance authors who offered sensual treats that their books inspired, this week I’m featuring romance writers who share their best holiday recipes. Today we feature RaeAnne Thayne, the author of a special holiday edition: A Cold Creek Christmas Story and Christmas in Cold Creek.]

Hot_Chocolate_RaeAnne_Thayne

 

[Thoughts of holidays seem to always turn to snuggling by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. Sometimes it’s with a sexy love interest or a good book. Here’s RaeAnne Thayne’s take on that cup of warmth.]

Luxurious Hot Chocolate

4 cups of milk (whole is best)

8 ounces of high-quality chocolate … I like Guittard semisweet chips. White chocolate works too, for a different taste.

3 teaspoons of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (pure, not imitation)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Finely chop the chocolate. Even if using chocolate chips, the smaller the pieces, the better it will dissolve in liquid. On low heat in a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a low boil, whisking occasionally to keep from scorching. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, salt and chocolate and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has melted. Heat for another 4 minutes, constantly stirring. Serve with a dollop of real whipped cream.

You can add lots of things to this recipe: Mint, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick. Whatever your preference. Just add herbs or spices to the milk while simmering. After it boils, remove from heat and let the milk steep for 10 minutes then strain off your add-ins and return to simmer before adding the chocolate and other ingredients.

About A Cold Creek Christmas Story

A COLD CREEK CHRISTMAS STORY is book two in RaeAnne Thayne’s Christmas Ranch miniseries under the Cold Creek umbrella. She has 14 books about the Cold Creek Cowboys.

Celeste Nichols has always preferred to keep to herself in her hometown of Pine Gulch, Idaho…until she becomes an instant celebrity! When one of her children’s stories becomes a major success, she’s suddenly the talk of the town. Celeste should be gloriously happy…but something, someone, special is still missing from her life. Could the return of her childhood crush be the answer?

Flynn Delaney has moved back home for his daughter’s sake. Yet all the millionaire’s resources can’t help the little girl heal from the tragic loss of her mother. Shy librarian Celeste and her stories do hold some indefinable magic, though. Flynn came home looking for support—can he find that, and true love, in the one who got away?

CHRISTMAS IN COLD CREEK

Rebecca Parsons claims to be a waitress and a single mother, but she doesn’t look the part to Pine Gulch Police Chief Trace Bowman. Becca will do anything to protect her little sister from their con-artist mother, but can the sexy cop perform a holiday miracle?

See more at: http://www.raeannethayne.com

This special edition is available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and other fine books stores.

 

 

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[In today’s book inspired recipe, I’m featuring a book about hot firemen that contains the story “Ignited” by Kimberly Van Meter and  “Where There Is Smoke” by Liz Talley. Each author has generously offered a recipe. One reflects this holiday season and the other is the author’s take on a snowbound meal with a sexy civil servant.]

van meter and taley cover

KIMBERLY VAN METER

I like a hot, sweet beverage when I’m reading. Here’s a lovely recipe for crockpot hot chocolate! YUM!

Best Ever Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

adapted from Mrs Happy Homemaker

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
(1) 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
6 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet)

Pour all the ingredients into a crockpot and whisk together until well combined. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Whisk well before serving. Garnish as desired (which means MARSHMALLOWS of course!)

You can also make it with white chocolate, butterscotch, or even MINT chocolate chips!

“Ignited”

What do you do when a sexy, naked fireman gets into your bed? If you’re Alexis Matheson, you freak out. But now she’s snowed in with Layton Davis, and suddenly Alexis’s best intentions to behave seem to have disappeared up the chimney. Because a hot ‘n’ naughty firefighter in her bed might be the best Christmas surprise ever…

LIZ TALEY

In “Where There’s Smoke,” a novella in the Wrong Bed Christmas book, my two characters Emma and Erik are stuck in an abandoned cabin with only a couple of granola bars, a box of expensive chocolates and a very nice bottle of wine. Not the worst to make a meal on, but if I were planning the perfect meal for being stranded with a sexy firefighter in the middle of Colorado, I’d go with something that would give me more energy for the night ahead 😉 Here’s the perfect rustic, yet filling dish, that would appeal to any red-blooded American man (who wasn’t a vegetarian):

Seduce Me Beef Stew*

1 lb of lean good quality stew meat

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp oil

2 onions (sliced into thin rings)

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp tomato paste

2 cups of beef broth

3 cups sliced carrots

2 medium potatoes, sliced

1 cup green beans

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp cold water

  1. Coat beef with flour, shaking off excess. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil. Add beef and cook about 5-7 minutes until slightly browned. Remove beef to a separate plate.
  2. Add onions and mushrooms to the pot; saute for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Return beef to the pot and stir in tomato paste. Next add broth and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
  3. Add carrots, potatoes and green beans. Cover partially and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch. Stir into stew and increase heat to a boil. Turn off and let cool slightly. Serve with cornbread or crusty French bread.

*Derived from Healthy Meals in Minutes

 

Excerpt from “Where There’s Smoke” by Liz Talley

The crackle of the lit fire drew her attention and instantly made the space cozy and—she licked her lips—intimate.

“Ah,” Erik said, stripping off his gloves and warming his hands in front of the blaze. “Good thing this wood is aged and dry. Instant warmth. Come on over and warm up.”

Emma hesitated for a moment, trying to regain a calm, less amorous demeanor. So they were alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a bottle of wine, chocolate and a single double bed? Big deal. She could handle it. After all, she’d never allowed her attraction for him to show through.

She walked over and crouched beside him, sighing at the warmth. Exploring the cabin had kept her moving, but her fingers and feet were numb.

“Here,” he said, grabbing the nearest chair and dragging it close to the dancing flames. “Sit.”

Seconds later they each sat in matching chairs, thawing out.

“I can’t believe we’re stuck here,” she mused aloud, the warmth making her drowsy. She suppressed a yawn. “This is like a movie I once saw.”

“Misery?” he joked.

Emma laughed. “Are you planning on drugging me, incapacitating me and making me write you a romance story?”

He wiggled his eyebrows. “That could be fun. But I could think of better things to do.”

 

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[This is the second in the holiday recipes from Hot Novels. The food is either mentioned in the book or suggested by the author. Enjoy!]

A Christmas Vow of Seduction

by Maisey Yates

Maisey_Yates_A_Christmas_Vow_of_Seduction

This recipe is special to me for two reasons. First of all, this pie crust is an old family recipe. If done right, it is the best pie crust in the world. My grandma used to make cherry pie with it, and my mom has used it to make every kind of pie you there is.

Pie is something that feels very HOLIDAY to me, no matter what you put in it. But I like blackberry pie, and winter is the perfect time to rummage around the freezer and get out the berries you might have frozen from summer. (Or not. I didn’t pick any this year! But it’s a nice idea!)

The ingredients to the crust are simple, but following the steps is what gets you flaky crust and not chewy crust.

Double 9’ Crust 

2 Cups Flour

1 Cup Shortening

1/2 tsp salt

Mix (press with fork) together until crumbly

Step 2 — (1/2 cup water, additional 1/4 cup flour)

In a jar mix 1/2 cup COLD water with a 1/4 cup flour, blend well.

Add to flour mixture. Mix gently until blended well. Handle as little as possible. Separate pastry into two balls.

Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll one ball into a round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

Filling 

4-6 Cups Blackberries

3/4 Cup sugar (I like a little tartness, so depending on the berries, I sometimes put less. If the berries were really firm you might need more)

1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 Tbsp butter

In a large bowl, mix sugar, flour, cinnamon. Add berries and mix until coated (I like to use my hands). Spoon filling into pie pan, dot with butter. Cover with top pastry. Cut slits in the top, seal and flute. Cover the edges with tin foil to prevent excessive browning.

Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust, removing foil for last 15 minutes of baking. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours. (Or cut into it and take your chances…that’s what I do!)

 

ABOUT CHRISTMAS VOW OF SEDUCTION

A Christmas present for the man who has everything… With one band of gold Prince Andres of Petras can erase his past—albeit pleasurable—sins. But his prospective bride is untameable Princess Zara, so the playboy prince must seduce her into compliance and crown her by Christmas! The wayward princess of Tirimia has spent years hiding her untouched heart, and her convenient husband-to-be seems determined to keep it that way. Yet his caresses promise a sensual awakening that’s impossible to resist. But once Zara’s given him her hand and her body, it won’t be long before he has her heart…

See more at: http://www.maiseyyates.com

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Over the next few days I will be featuring recipes inspired or mentioned in some new holiday novels. Here is the first installment from Sharon Kendrick’s sizzling Christmas novel.

THE SHEIKH’S CHRISTMAS CONQUEST

by Sharon Kendrick

Kendrick_Sheiks_Conquest

Sheikh Saladin Al Mektala isn’t used to being disobeyed. Incomprehensibly, the woman he summoned to help his favorite mare—the best horse “whisperer” in the world—turned his generous offer down! So he takes matters into his own hands.

The snow is falling, the fire is roaring and the mince pies are in the oven when innocent Olivia Miller finds a darkly handsome and physically compelling man on her doorstep… The sheikh she dared to refuse is here to whisk her off to his kingdom—and this time he won’t take no for an answer!……

 

 

The book opens in snowy England at Christmas time, so I’m giving you my all time favorite mince-pie recipe. The pies have orange pastry and are topped with cream cheese. They are super-indulgent and completely irresistible and I defy you to stop at one! It’s a famous English recipe from the celebrated cookery writer Josceline Dimbleby. They are best eaten accompanied by a cup of tea or a glass of mulled wine, preferably in front of a roaring log fire while outside fat white flakes of snow tumble to the ground. Carols are optional…

INDULGENT MINCE PIES WITH ORANGE PASTRY

Makes about 24

[Please note that the ingredients amounts are in grams. American bakers will need to convert to cups.]

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry

500g strong plain white flour
175g icing or caster sugar
375g butter
the finely grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
For the pie filling

250g cream cheese or mascarpone
25g golden caster sugar (a superfine sugar)
500-625g good quality mincemeat
the grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
milk to glaze
caster sugar (a super fine sugar)
METHOD

This was my first adaptation of mince pies, yet it has remained the favourite. It is not diet material, but diets can be forgotten at Christmas.

Make the pastry first. Sift the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces, stir these into the flour and rub lightly with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the orange rind. Using a knife, stir in the orange juice until the dough just begins to stick together. Gather up the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.

Put the cream cheese and caster sugar into a bowl and beat until smooth. Knead the pastry lightly and roll out about three quarters fairly thickly. Using a 7.5cm diameter pastry cutter cut out 24 rounds, re-rolling the pastry as necessary. Butter two sheets of patty tins and line them with the pastry rounds. Spoon the mincemeat into a bowl and stir in the lemon rind and juice. Fill the lined patty tins to about half their depth with mincemeat, then put a teaspoonful of the cream cheese mixture on top and spread level. Roll out the remaining pastry and using a star-shaped pastry cutter cut out 24 stars. Place the stars on top of each mince pie. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Brush the tops of the pies with a little milk and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes until light golden-brown. Let the pies cool down before easing them from the tins gently with a round-bladed knife. Serve warm (they can be reheated), or at room temperature. Before serving, sprinkle with caster or icing sugar.

Rum butter with citrus zest

INGREDIENTS

225g unsalted butter
160g light muscovado sugar
the finely grated rind of one lemon and one orange
4-5 tbsp dark rum
I think my grandmother’s rum butter was the first alcohol I tasted as a child and I loved it. I came to like brandy butter too, and last year I made Cointreau butter, but I am fondest of this one as it reminds me of Granny.

METHOD

Put the butter, sugar and citrus rinds into a food processor and whiz until smooth and soft. Add the rum gradually as you whiz. Keep in the fridge but take out and leave at room temperature at least an hour before you serve the Christmas pudding.

 

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