Posted in Home

Five Things to Know About THE HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE

THE HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE is book two in the Clan Kendrick Series, which spun off from The Improper Princesses Series. My hero, Logan Kendrick, first appeared in THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE (Improper Princesses 3). The princess bride was Victoria Knight, who married Lord Arnprior, Logan’s older brother.

 

The Improper Princesses Series is itself a spin-off, growing out of an earlier set of books called The Renegade Royals. The heroes and heroines of the two series are the illegitimate sons and daughters of England’s royal dukes. The sons of King George III had upwards of twenty illegitimate children (and probably quite a few more), so it wasn’t much of a stretch to create a fictional family of half-siblings and cousins to fill the blank spaces in the historical record.

 

Donella Haddon, known as the Flower of Clan Graham, is the heroine of THE HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE. She first appeared in HOW TO MARRY A ROYAL HIGHLANDER (Renegade Royals 4). Donella was betrothed to Alasdair Gilbride, her cousin and one of the Renegade Royals. Neither was keen to marry the other, but since their families arranged the match Donella felt bound to honor the commitment. When the engagement fell through due to a series of alarming and exceedingly embarrassing events, Donella retired to a convent. A studious and rather shy young woman, she felt it best to spare her family—and herself—the scandal of a broken engagement. That was the last I thought to see of Donella, until she poked me in the brain and insisted on her own book.

 

The former Victoria Knight, now Lady Arnprior, is the illegitimate daughter of the Prince Regent. Alasdair Gilbride is the illegitimate son of the Regent’s brother, the Duke of Kent. Therefore, Victoria and Alasdair are also cousins, creating a strong bond between the Kendricks and Donella’s family. Naturally, this will lead to maximum interference in Logan and Donella’s romance by well-meaning but irritating relatives from both clans. Really, I wouldn’t blame my hero and heroine one bit if they eloped, just to escape the family meddling!

 

Logan is a widower with a six-year-old son, Joseph. First mentioned in THE HIGHLANDER WHO PROTECTED ME (Clan Kendrick 1), Joseph was born in Canada, where Logan established a successful trading company. When Logan returned to Scotland, Joseph remained in Canada in the safekeeping of his maternal grandparents. That arrangement, however, is about to change.

 

In bestselling author Vanessa Kelly’s irresistible Clan Kendrick series, Christmas in the Highlands means family, celebration—and for one brother, the beginning of a passionate adventure . . .

Being thrown over by the man she expected to marry was humiliating enough. Now that Donella Haddon, grandniece of the Earl of Riddick, has also proven a failure as a nun, she has no choice but to return to her family’s estate. The brawny Highlander sent to escort her is brash, handsome, and the only thing standing between Donella and a gang of would-be kidnappers. But the scandal in her past can’t be so easily outrun . . .

Wealthy widower Logan Kendrick was expecting to meet a plain, pious spinster—not a gorgeous, sharp-tongued lass who can hold her own in any ambush. Though she’s known as the Flower of Clan Graham, Donella is no shrinking violet. In fact, she might be the perfect woman to bring happiness back to his lonely little son’s life, just in time for Christmas. But first he must protect her from ugly gossip and a mysterious threat—and convince her that their wild, unexpected desire is heaven sent.

Praise for The Highlander’s Princess Bride

“A thoroughly satisfying Regency romance.” —Publishers Weekly

Posted in Cooking, Home

Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap

One of the best things about the holidays is the food. I know, I’m a food junkie anyway (have you read any of my books? LOL) but around the holidays my addition gets worse.  I’ve been to cookie exchanges where I bring my prize cookie, only to find out someone else had the same recipe. But with rum.

Who needs the stress of baking and hoping your cookies pass your friends’ muster? Because believe me, they are judging you. At least in a kind and caring Christmas kind of way.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a Christmas cookie swap. I’ve shied away from them for a few reasons. One, I don’t have time to make 12 dozen cookies to take with me. And two, I don’t have a large family close by to give away the cookies I bring back. And what if you have a cookie bomb? Those would go right into the trash at my house.

I also know several people who are wigged out at the thought of eating something that didn’t come from a commercial bakery or their own kitchen.

Instead, I want to suggest the Christmas Cookie recipe swap. It can be done in person or virtually, but in person would be more fun.  Here, you make and bring two dozen cookies to share. And copies of your recipe for every attendee.  The party has twenty-four participants? You get twenty-three new recipes to try in your own kitchen.

You get all the fun of eating, drinking, and sharing Christmas cheer with a lot less stress and work.

If you’re 1600 miles, give or take, from your loved ones and you want to pull off a virtual Christmas cookie recipe exchange, do the following. Set the event up on Facebook as a party. Set a date/time for people to post. Explain the idea in the invite, then on the night planned, go crazy. Remind participants to not only post their recipe, but maybe a cool video showing how they made the cookies. Or a photo of the finished product.

Most of all, which ever way you host your party, make sure to have fun.  The holidays are about love and sharing than perfection.

Here’s the recipe I’d bring for sharing… What about you? What would your Christmas cookie recipe be?

Easy Almond Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the following:
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  1. Add in:
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  1. Mix the following dry ingredients in a small bowl:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  1. Mix the wet and dry ingredients, then add:
  • ½ cup almond slivers
  1. Form the dough into small balls.
  2. Roll in 2 tbsp sugar, then put on greased (with spray oil) or parchment-papered cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Makes about 2½ dozen, depending on the size of your cookie balls.

 

 

 

 

Quotes –

Guidebook to Murder –

“I’m buying a rifle to keep those carpet baggers off my land.” Miss Emily declared.

Mission to Murder-

Some people like to hear their own voice.

If the Shoe Kills-

The holidays were supposed to be a time of goodwill, celebration and community. You couldn’t tell that by the glares going around the table…

Dressed to Kill-

As soon as we entered the store, I knew my aunt was dead wrong.

Killer Run –

Josh Thomas was on a rant and the creamy chocolate dessert was the only thing keeping my mouth shut instead of pointing out the flaws in his reasoning.

Murder on Wheels –

Yep, that’s me. Jill Gardner, coffeehouse/bookstore owner and mad geocacher.

Tea Cups and Carnage-

“I want to help. I ran a snow cone machine before, do you all have a snow-cone specialist?” Kathi clapped her hands together…

Hospitality and Homicide –

“We’re so glad you chose South Cove as the place to write your next book.” He held out the key.

Killer Party –

“Throw me a book and the room service menu and I’ll see you when we check out.”

 

 

 

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lynn Cahoon’s Tourist Trap series, Jill Gardner has left her book-and-coffee shop behind to spend Thanksgiving week in coastal Oregon. But before the feast can start, foul play interrupts their vacation . . .

When Jill and Greg join another couple, Blake Jennings and Kathi Corbin, for a weeklong camping trip, Jill is delighted to have a few days to take in the beauty around them before they dive into the Thanksgiving holiday. When the foursome take the off-road vehicles out on the dunes for a local adventure, they find an unexpected treasure—a ring attached to the hand of its prior owner. Can Jill and Greg solve the mystery before they join the woman buried in the shifting sands?

Praise for The Tourist Trap Mysteries

“Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true.” —Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries

“Lynn Cahoon has created an absorbing, good fun mystery in Mission to Murder.” —Fresh Fiction

 

Posted in Home

Cover Reveal!

“Reed writes as only a cop can.” —Nelson DeMille

Danger In Dark Places

In rural Indiana, the underground mines that once held coal and iron ore have become killing grounds. In two counties, five corpses have been discovered. Their deaths appear accidental, from drowning or suffocating in flooded and abandoned mines. But local authorities, including Chief Shaunda Lynch, have uncovered evidence suggesting they’ve all been murdered.

Assigned to the case as Federal Agents, Detectives Jack Murphy and Liddell Blanchard take charge of the investigation. Shaunda’s proven herself more than capable of policing her jurisdiction and resents the intrusion of male authority figures. As Jack digs deep into the case, he discovers the victims have checkered pasts. But no matter who believes the killings are justified, someone still has to pay for the crime . . .

Praise for Rick Reed and his novels

“Rick Reed’s books have an edge that only a man in law enforcement, working in the field, can bring to life.” — Tierney James, author of the Enigma series

“Reed thrusts his story forward to bring us along on a ride we won’t soon forget!” —Suspense Magazine

“Reed gives the reader a genre story worth every minute and every penny spent.” —Book Reporter

“A jaw-dropping thriller.”—Gregg Olsen

Posted in Home

Cover reveal!

Five hundred acres of gorgeous California land is a life-changer for cousins Cash, Jace, and Sawyer—and a surprising chance for each of them to find a game-changing love . . .

Sheriff Jace Dalton’s plate is piled high even before he discovers a stranded motorist just a few miles from his home. With two lively young boys to raise, a challenging reelection to win, and a hefty tax bill due on the ranch, all he wants at the end of the day is a shower and a cold beer. But the woman in the packed SUV clearly needs his help—and though she’s a stranger, Jace finds himself wanting to turn her haunted look into a smile. . .

Fleeing her abusive boyfriend, Charlotte Holcomb thought she’d escaped before she lost everything, but more heartache was to come. Now, sidetracked by a brewing storm, Charlotte has to trust the handsome sheriff. Just one night, she tells herself, before she’s on her way again. But when gentle Jace and his kids offer the kind of sanctuary she never imagined possible, it’s hard to say goodbye. Soon the two wary strangers are becoming friends, and longing to open their hearts to more—if they can move beyond the pain of their pasts . . .

Posted in Home

A Good Old Country Christmas

There’s an old Loretta Lynn song about Christmas that gets my toes to tapping and my heart to soaring every time I hear it. It pours nostalgia over me like an avalanche and makes me want to drop what I’m doing and pop some popcorn for stringing. Having A Good Old Country Christmas is my ultimate goal every holiday season, and I do it with lots of love and plenty of sweets. Christmas is one time of year at my house when we’re more focused on one another than on any screen or downloadable app. We’re present together. Involved and engaged. The fire’s crackling, music’s playing and I’m baking. If you so much as walk past my house from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and I see you, you’ll be invited inside for spell and sent out with something straight from my oven. Because we all need one more handshake, cookie or smile. I’ve got them all in hordes with plenty to spare. To me, that’s what Christmas is all about. Loving on folks. And I’m going to love you with some food.

So, while Loretta often plays the score in my home during the holidays, it’s the heavenly aromas that get my hips to swinging. And they usually swing me around the kitchen. The spicy scent of cinnamon on apple pies, iced sugar cookies fresh from the oven, and orange slices floating in a crockpot of hot homemade cider. Whether it’s peppermint sticks in cocoa or peanut brittle set to cool, everyone has a favorite holiday scent, sweet or treat, and all three of mine come wrapped in one delicious package: The Snickerdoodle.

For those of you poor souls who aren’t allergic or otherwise incapable, and haven’t had a snickerdoodle, y’all need to see about a trip to my place. Real soon. Snickerdoodles are my ultimate holiday cookie. A little crispy outside, soft and chewy inside. Coated in ground cinnamon and white sugar, they are delightful in every imaginable way. And just in case you don’t have the time to get by my place before Christmas, I know how hectic the holidays can be, I want to share a Snickerdoodle starter recipe. I say “starter” because Snickerdoodles are personal, and everyone in my family thinks they have a special trick or trade secret that makes their cookies better than mine. They’re all wrong, of course, but you can start with my recipe and personalize it. Then let me know what you think!

How about you? Do you have a special holiday recipe that makes Christmas all the merrier? Or a certain scent that rings in the nostalgia? I’d love to hear!

Snickerdoodle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cinnamon-Sugar coating:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 TBS ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 ½ cups sugar, eggs and vanilla – Take your time here. Spend a few minutes working all these lovely things together. The effort will pay in dividends!
  3. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt
  4. Mix sugar and cinnamon for coating in a small bowl and set aside
  5. Roll dough into round spoonfuls – about 1 ½ inch balls
  6. Roll dough balls in cinnamon sugar mixture. Then do it again. Trust me. It’s worth it.
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  8. Place thoroughly coated dough balls on parchment-covered cookie sheets 2 inches apart
  9. Bake 9-11 minute, until the edges begin to brown and cookies begin to crack in the center.
  10. Cool and enjoy!

 

 

Apples are at the core of the family business run by Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe. But this year’s crop is unseasonably ripe with murder . . .

One Rotten Apple

Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder…

“The characters are delightful . . . Plenty of action and suspense.” —RT Book Reviews on Murder in Real Time

Includes Recipes!

Posted in Home

Cover Reveal

After a sheltered upbringing, Lady Lucinda Sutcliffe is finally embarking on her first season, eager to experience everything she’s missed. When Lucy realizes that her uncle plans to quickly marry her off in exchange for a slice of her fortune, she begs a favor of a new acquaintance, Ciaran Ramsey. If Lucy remains single until she turns twenty-one, she—and her money—will be out of her uncle’s power. All the charming Scot needs to do is woo her for six weeks, and then jilt her . . .

The Ramseys don’t need the scandal of a false engagement attached to their name. But Lucy’s older suitor is both distasteful and dangerous, and Ciaran can’t allow his lovely friend to be forced to marry such a man. And besides, the more time Ciaran spends with his new “betrothed,” the more their ruse begins to feel very much like the real thing. Passion like this is impossible to feign, but how much is a rogue willing to risk for love?. . .

Posted in Cooking, Home

Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe

 

 

I’m often asked if Hope Early, the amateur sleuth in my Food Blogger Mystery series, is based on me. The honest answer is yes and no. I’m not going to bore you with a long list of what Hope, and I have in common or not. Rather, I thought I’d share one thing that we both love – chocolate.

There are times when we both want some deep, rich, dense chocolate. And when those moments pop up, we grab out aprons, mixing bowls and whisks to whip up something decadent.

Now, there’s rarely a time I’ll pass up chocolate cake. Though, there are times I want something more decadent. When I’m in that mood, there’s nothing like my Flourless Chocolate Cake. Rich and decadent, this is a perfect ending to any meal. Top with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream and fresh berries.

 

Don’t worry, it’s easy to bake and wickedly delicious.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 12 cups cocoa powder
  • Powdered sugar or whipped cream and fresh berries, optional.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch Springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine butter and chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir. Continue to microwave in 15 second increments, until butter and chocolate chips are melted. Stir to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. Add melted chocolate and whisk to combine. Stir in cocoa powder and mix until smooth.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
  5. Let cake cool for ten minutes on cooling rack and then release the side of the pan.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream and berries.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Food blogger Hope Early finds one item not on her scavenger hunt list—a dead husband…

Between developing her food blog, Hope at Home, and choosing low-cal recipes for a feature in Cooking Now! magazine, Hope has a full plate. Still, she’s never too busy to compete in a Jefferson, Connecticut, tradition—the town’s annual scavenger hunt.

But as she races with her team to check off the next item, Hope discovers a grisly surprise—the body of shady real estate developer Lionel Whitcomb, shot in a parking lot. His wife Elaine, who’s also in the hunt, gasps and nearly faints. But two other women on the scene cry out that their husband is dead.

It turns out this louse of a spouse was more than a little lax in legally divorcing his former wives. Did one of them put a bullet in the bigamist? Number one suspect and number three wife Elaine begs Hope to investigate. Now Hope is on a new kind of hunt—for a cold-hearted killer and triple widow-maker . . .

Includes Recipes from Hope’s Kitchen!

Posted in Home

Cover Reveal!

The Battle Lines Are Drawn

Scientist Emma Miller was the first American infected in the Pandoravirus pandemic, which triggers violent rages and sociopathic homicide. No longer fettered by morality or emotion, she has attracted millions of followers, both infected and uninfected. But is she America’s worst nightmare—or its only hope?

Emma’s twin sister Isabel and brother Noah struggle against the threats posed by rampant infection, deadly civil unrest, and desperate government measures. Their—and humanity’s—only chance for a future may lie in an alliance with Emma and her expanding community. Will it be peace between Infecteds and Uninfecteds, or eradication of one group by the other? While cities burn and social order crumbles, one family’s fight to survive will determine the future of civilization.

Praise for Eric L. Harry and Pandora: Outbreak

“Like Crichton and H.G. Wells, Harry writes stories that entertain roundly while they explore questions of scientific and social import.” —Publishers Weekly

“Harry’s vision of an apocalyptic plague is as chilling as it is plausible. This masterful thriller will leave you terrified, enthralled, and desperate for the next entry in the series.”—Kira Peikoff, author of No Time to Die and Mother Knows Best

“After a devastating epidemic that changes the very nature of humans, two sisters, an epidemiologist and a neurobiologist, hold the key to humanity’s survival.”—Library Journal

Posted in Home

Cover Reveal!

The mission: make Mars inhabitable for humans with a thermonuclear reawakening. But for the adventurous remnants of the Space Consortium of America, the biggest threat isn’t from the erupting rage of the Red Planet. It’s from a treacherous blue marble called Earth . . .

Rogue Planet

You’d think Captain Ry Devans was a hero when he jumpstarted the cores of Mars, giving the previously dormant planet a fresh start at harboring life. But he’s also the host of a life-saving alien microbe, and the most wanted man within thirty-three million miles—courtesy of the terrorist global juggernaut the Earth First Faction, and its sociopathic agent Paton Schiflet. They’re doing everything in their power to quash the organized inhabitation of space and keep the last humans under control.

Now that the EFF has dispatched its own insanely weaponized crew, Devans and his dirty-dozen team have three options: fight, surrender, or witness the extinction of the thousands of civilians repopulating space. For Devans and outlaw partner Dr. Karen Wagner, option number one is is the only way to go—but the odds against them are astronomical.

Not only are moles undermining every offensive tactic, but some on MOS-1 are exhibiting dangerously psychotic mood swings. Is it just an extreme case of space crazy? Or a new microbial gift from Mars that could kill their mission before the war with EFF even begins?

“Interesting and intelligent.” —Dave Drake on Detonation Event

Posted in Home

Looking into the Future

In every genre of writing there are an infinite number of sub-genres that help readers to find the stories they love to read. So, while technically, I am a science fiction author, my main interest has always been in the very near future, which puts me in the sub-genre of speculative fiction. I focus on stories that take our current world and try to predict what will happen next.

 

What will happen next has always fascinated me. When I’m at a dinner party and someone is re-counting a story, I will inevitably ask ‘What happened next?’ often after the teller believes the story has ended. I want to know how the forces in the story continue to unfold and understand the repercussions that we may not be able to see at the beginning of the path. This probably accounts for why I am a compulsive planner. Call it an ill-fated attempt to predict or control what is going to happen next. This is why writing speculative fiction is such a good fit for me. It allows me to plan what the near future holds and then see it through.

 

Part of my fascination comes from my interest in history, and an awareness of the numerous times we, as humans, have rushed into an idea or invention without considering the consequences. Of course, in certain situations, it was out of necessity, such as the creation of the atom bomb during the second world war, when there was an immediate need for its creation, and no time for the usual checks and balances. Other times however, it is simply the refusal of the creator to accept that there might be down sides to their creation, pesticides are a good example of this. While it may have seemed like a good idea to be able to kill the pests that were ruining the crops, it wouldn’t have been hard to extrapolate that there would be other species unintentionally affected. Another case is the development of a technology without being able to see where the potential for the invention might lead. Would anyone have been able to predict in 1970s that the internet would one day give birth to social media? An incredibly powerful global force that has had significant social impact, both positive and negative.

 

It’s easy to look in hindsight at these situations and see what happened. If we had looked closer at the time would we have been able to see into the future? There would have been clues and indications of where each of these situations would lead.

 

I try to be that person for where we are now. Looking at the clues and the events, to try to see a little ways over the horizon. Some of it might happen, some of it won’t, but the thrill is to seek out that potential and see where it leads.

 

 

It Was Meant To Save Humanity
Not Destroy It

Storm Freeman gave the world a miracle. She designed The Gatherer to draw electromagnetic energy from the air and disperse free and infinite electricity to rural and underprivileged communities. Her invention helped people but devalued power industries. Some revered Storm as a deity. Others saw her as an eco-terrorist.

Then the miracle became a curse. The Gatherer unleashed a plague that damaged the human electrical system, bringing pain, suffering—and eventual death—to anyone continually exposed to the technology. Stricken herself, Storm goes into exile, desperate to find a cure—and destroy her invention.

But there are people in the government and in the corporation that funded The Gatherer who refuse to publicly acknowledge the connection between the device and the spreading plague. And they will stop at nothing to find Storm and use her genius for military applications . . .

“Menacing and memorable. Winter’s evocative prose takes readers on an unforgettable journey into the wilderness, delving into our unhealthy dependence on energy. Be careful what you wish for—the coveted cure might actually be a lethal poison. Can the inventor contain her invention? No hero needs to save these two female warriors in The Gatherer. Loved this book.“  –K.J. Howe, International Bestselling Author of Skyjack

The Gatherer by Colleen Winter is my favorite kind of Crichton-esque thriller: smart, compelling, and beautifully written; a fascinating story in which a talented scientist has to save the world from the Frankenstein monster she herself created before falling victim to the power she has inadvertently unleashed. Convincingly realistic and endlessly surprising, readers won’t be able to stop turning the pages!” – Karen Dionne, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter