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Until December 5th.

And I have to warn you, according to one Amazon review, it’s Far Fetched. So, let that sink in before you run over to Amazon and download it. 🙂 I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed that it’s fictional and cute and naughty and not completely realistic. (more…)

Hungry Hearts Holiday Hop – Celebrate!

It’s that time… Or it’s almost that time. 2014 is nearly upon us and Christmas is right behind us. Let’s hope we don’t have to go through that again anytime soon! Hahaha…

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So, how do you celebrate New Year’s? Do you go to parties? Do you go find fireworks and big downtown celebrations? Do you stay home in the relative peace and quiet, safe and sound? We aren’t party people, so it’s stay at home for us. Football games, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the superstition of burying a quarter right before midnight and digging it up right after, bed, and football all day New Year’s Day. Oh yeah, we’re definitely livin’ the life!

My husband isn’t a drinker and I’m not a heavy drinker. We usually have finger foods… sausage balls, veggies and dip, chips and salsa, taco cupcakes or buffalo chicken cupcakes… There’s sometimes champagne, but for New Year’s I like Ice Wine. It’s a little a sweet, kind of bubbly, and utterly delicious.

One of my other celebratory drinks… a Kahlua Latte. I’d found the recipe on the Kahlua website, but use homemade Kahlua… I’ll be posting both of those recipes below.

First though… I want to tell y’all how much fun this 3-part blog hop has been. I have enjoyed the authors, the recipes, and new-to-me readers. I love food and I love being in the kitchen and that I’ve gotten to share with all of you my passion for it and for writing, it’s been a real treat for me.

Second…Not only will you have my recipes, you’re going to have mouthwatering dips, appetizers, and other drink recipes to choose from to add to your New Year’s celebrations! There will also be excerpts at all the stops along the way from all the hot food-loving romance authors.

So, what do you need to do? Hop around each author’s site for a new recipe, and fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter our GIVEAWAY: 3 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GIFT CARDs!

In addition to the HUNGRY HEARTS HOLIDAY HOP giveaway, Amanda Usen will be featuring Hungry Hearts authors on Writer.Chef.Romantic this week and gifting their books to lucky winners. Stay tuned to get in on the fun! If you’d like to party in real time, please join our Facebook Party December 26th – January 1st.

Facebook Party link: https://www.facebook.com/events/124060241101099/

Writer.Chef.Romantic: http://www.amandausen.wordpress.com

Third… Happy New Year!

Homemade Kahlua adapted from The Cupcake Project:

6 cups brewed coffee (I used a dark roast coffee, freshly ground)
1 pound light brown sugar (This recipe is really sweet, so if you use one pound, just know it’ll be sweet)
3 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 liter of vodka (I used Rain Organic Vodka, but you can use any kind you prefer)

While the coffee is still hot, mix in the brown sugar. The sugar will dissolve. Let the coffee/brown sugar mixture cool. Mix in the vanilla and vodka.

Serve over ice or with cream or over ice cream or as a latte…

Whipped Iced Kahlua Latte

3 parts Kahlua
1 part Vodka
1 part Milk or Cream
2 parts Chilled Coffee

Stir or shake, pour over ice, and top with whipped cream. This really is a delicious coffee drink. I do believe I’ll be having one myself for New Year’s Eve!

Now, how about an excerpt from my book, Arresting Holli…

ArrestingHolli_200x300“Everything all right?” Officer Hunky called from the kitchen.

“Just peachy. She’s doing good. Made a friend to keep her company.”

“That’s good. Did you sleep okay?”

“I think so. I don’t really remember much after the shower.” She didn’t even remember how she’d gotten into the bed. She barely remembered the grilled cheese sandwich. Did she eat it?

And where did he sleep? She knew he’d held her, but for how long? Crap. If he’d slept in the bed with her all night and she’d missed it, she was going to be really pissed.

“You okay? You’re scowling.”

Holli focused on him as he walked into the room with a tray. He really had brought her breakfast in bed. “Yeah. Only I don’t remember much from last night. I must have been really tired.”

She fluffed the pillows behind her and scooted back against the headboard. It was an odd piece. The top and sides were a dark, red wood, but the center had vertical, spiral rods made of metal.

He set the tray across her lap. Yeah, she wanted to cry. Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast with a little bit of jelly on the side, and hot chocolate. With marshmallows. And they looked like the real ones, not the round ones in the bag from the grocery store. She’d only had the square ones a few times in her life.

The way they melted across the top of the chocolate, the steam that rose up from the cup… She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had hot chocolate that wasn’t instant.

“It’s not going to bite you,” he said softly, climbing into the bed from the other side.

“No, I know, it’s just… Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I figured I owed you.”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t the way I’d intended to spend my vacation, but you’ve more than made up for it with a warm place to stay that isn’t concrete and you’ve provided me with access to a warm shower.”

He sat on the other side of the bed, finishing off a piece of bacon. “I know, but you haven’t had much in the way of decent food either. That’s another thing I can and am happy to do.”

“You’re a bachelor. You’re supposed to be eating frozen pizzas and fast food, not fixing gourmet breakfast for damsels in distress.”

Michael laughed and the sound traveled warmly from her chest to her belly. Just like his voice when he talked, she loved when he laughed. It was comforting, friendly.

“Is that what you are? A damsel in distress? Nice. Perhaps I’ll try to rescue you. As for the food…” He snagged a piece of bacon off her plate, “I can’t very well eat junk and preservatives and then expect to run the marathon in the spring.”

Holli glanced over at him as she picked up a piece of bacon as well and took a small bite. Slightly sweet, caramelized, crunchy. Sugar? “Marathon? And did you put something on this bacon?”

“Brown sugar,” he confirmed. “The marathon is something I’ve been training for, for about seven months or so.”

He could cook. He was a cop who put his life on the line every day. He was a genuine person. He was training for a marathon. She couldn’t have been more impressed with him or more in lust. The man oozed dedication and confidence, and like a moth to a flame, she was addicted. “I’ve never done anything at all like that. Takes serious commitment, I imagine.”

“It does. I haven’t had fast food in so long I’m not sure I’d like it anymore, and I never developed a taste for frozen pizza. I prefer the piping hot delivery kind once in a while, though.”

His wink was sexy, and he was absolutely the hottest, sweetest, kindest man she’d met in a really, really long time. Too damn bad she was going to be leaving him in a few days.

She picked up her fork and took a bite of the eggs. “Oh my God.” She covered her mouth when she spoke, then chewed and swallowed before taking another bite. “These are… What’s in them?”

“A secret.”

“What do I have to do to get that secret? They’re delicious. So smooth and creamy and…herbs? Cheese? Garlic?”

“Very good. It’s from a local farm that makes a lot of artisan cheese.”

“I don’t cook, but maybe you’d give me their information before I leave.”

“Or you could come back to visit when it thaws outside, and I can take you.”

She stopped with the fork halfway to her mouth and turned her head toward him. He was serious. The look on his face ? in his eyes ? told her so, and she didn’t know what to say in response. She wanted to say yes. She wanted to say she’d just stay until the spring, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t say anything at all, so she just nodded and took the fork between her lips, used her teeth to pull the eggs off into her mouth, and looked down at her plate.

“I’m sorry. I guess I shouldn’t have said that.”

Holli shook her head and swallowed. “No, it’s just…”

“I know.”

She picked up the hot chocolate and took a small sip. She took another sip. And another. Holy God. “Okay. I’m staying. If you’ll make this for me to drink every morning, I’m staying.”

“Like it, do you?” His tone of voice was nothing less than self-satisfied.

“No. I’m in love with it. I’m loving it a lot more than coffee at the moment, and I never say that. I’m so addicted to coffee.”

“Yes, I kind of figured that when you didn’t make a face drinking the coffee at the station.”

She smiled a little sheepishly. Her need for java embarrassed her, though she wasn’t sure why. She didn’t want to need it, but sometimes it was the only thing that hit the spot. “If it’s caffeine and hot, I’ll drink it.”

“No sodas?”

“No, but I think your hot chocolate trumps coffee.” She took another sip. “Mmm. Yeah, definitely trumps it.”

“My mother’s recipe. And to confess, there’s a teaspoon of espresso powder in it. That’s what gives it that rich, dark flavor.”

“What about the marshmallows?” If he said he made them himself, she was going to marry him. A girl didn’t pass up a man who could make his own marshmallows.

“A candy shop here in town.”

Not a deal breaker. Officer Hunky was just about as perfect as perfect could be before she’d found out he could cook and make his mama’s hot chocolate. She’d never wanted a man more.

“What’s that look?” Had his voice gotten deeper? And what was that buzzing in her ears? “Holli?”

She shook her head and put the mug down. “Will you please take the tray away?” That didn’t even sound like her voice. It was totally different and far sexier than she ever remembered her voice being. It was throaty and a little rough, and her southern accent was stronger. Who the hell was she?

“Sure. What’s wrong?”

He looked so alarmed, and she didn’t want him to be. She didn’t want him to be concerned. She wanted him to be as turned on as she was right at that moment.

He picked up the tray and placed it on the floor, and then she was on him. The second he sat back, she crawled over him.

The kiss was instantly arousing, much like it had been last night in the kitchen. She wanted to climb up and down his body, then do it again. She slid her hands through the soft hairs on his chest, flicked her nails over his stiff nipples, memorized the solid strength of his shoulders before coasting over his flat abs to his hips.

He shuddered, and his belly fluttered under her touch. She felt it through the skin of her hands and fingers and in the kiss they shared. His tongue stroked and stabbed harder into her mouth, his lips matching hers for urgency and that undeniable inability to get enough. His groan answered her moan, and he flipped her over, sliding on top of her.

His hazel eyes were dark now, almost brown, with slight flecks of green when he lifted his head to look at her. “Who are you kissing now?”

Huh? “What do you mean?”

“Are you kissing me, Michael, or are you kissing him, Officer Hunky?”

The slight smile was the first clue to her lust-hazed brain that he was teasing her. Embarrassment filled her, but she refused to lower her gaze. “How did you know?”

He nipped at her nose. “You murmured it in your sleep last night when you curled up against me.”

At least she hadn’t imagined it. “You stayed all night in bed with me?”

“I did. I hadn’t meant to, but I fell asleep and…”

“You hadn’t meant to? Does that mean you don’t ?”

“No, it doesn’t mean that. It simply means that my intentions were to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t disturb you.”

“No disturbing. I evidently didn’t even know you were with me. The tension from the last few days must have kicked my ass harder than I thought.” She turned her head on the pillow and closed her eyes. Damn. In bed with the hottest man north of the Mason-Dixon, and she hadn’t even realized it.

He tucked her chin between his thumb and forefinger, bringing her face back to him. “You didn’t answer me, Holli.”

“About what?”

“Who were you kissing?”

She answered with a smile. “You’re Michael, Officer Hunky. One and the same, though honestly, Michael is a bit more serious and kind and caretaking. Officer Hunky, he’s the one I want to be naked with, play with.”

Michael laughed. “I don’t think anyone has ever referred to me as Officer Hunky before. I kind of like it. Maybe I’ll officially change my name.”

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Have a blessed, wonderful, and safe New Year’s celebration.

~lissa