Books ‘n Baking.
Two things I love. Two things that make me happy. Throw in some coffee and I’m over the moon.
So, once a month, on the 3rd Thursday, I’ll be showcasing something I’ve baked and what I’m reading, or writing.
December might get more posts in regards to this, but that’s only because I bake up a storm for the holidays.
If you want to join in, you can do so on a blog if you have one, or send me your information in an email and I’ll post it here on my blog. I know I’m not the only one who likes to play around in the kitchen for fun… Am I?
Okay. Let’s talk something sweet, gooey, easy, not very messy, but very very tasty. It’s called Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring. I adapted my version from the original post which can be found on The Jones Way.
Sticky Bun Breakfast Ring
1 1/2 tubes Pillsbury Grands buttermilk/Southern style biscuits
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C. maple syrup (I used Pure Maple Syrup, but you can use any kind you like)
1/3 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C. chopped pecans, optional
1/4 C. chopped almonds, optional (more…)
Hello, readers. I’m pleased to have been offered a guest spot today to talk about my latest release. PURE BLISS is the follow-up to my shape-shifter erotic romance, SHEER BLISS. Both were published by DLP BOOKS and are available in eBook format at the major retailers.
Buy: AllRomance ~ Kindle ~ NOOK ~ Smashwords ~ Kobo
I thought up the idea for the Love is Bliss series about two years ago, envisioning a setting where shape-shifters lived in a community with normal people but didn’t always get along. In Bliss, panther shifters live among wolf shifters, but it’s not like the Hatfields and McCoys. More like the Real Housewives of (insert your city here). More bickering than bloodshed, and certainly a lot more loving.
SHEER BLISS told the story of Caleb, a panther shifter, and Calla, a human he loved long ago but had to give up because he was mated to another. The story focused on their reunion and revealed a few secrets. PURE BLISS continues the story with Caleb’s cousin, Trisha, who attempts to fight the archaic traditions of her race and resist her betrothal. Her intended, Malcolm has other plans.
If you enjoy paranormal erotic romance, especially shifters, I hope you’ll try out these stories. A third Bliss story is in the planning stages, so if you enjoy these there will be more to follow!
For now, here’s an excerpt from PURE BLISS to get you started. Feel free, too, to contact me via Twitter @LeighEllwood or visit my site at LeighEllwood.com for the rest of my backlist. Thanks!
Something nagged at Trisha. Normally she loved The Wall and everything about it—the music, the drinks, and the people. She didn’t consider herself a popular club girl, but did enjoy the nodding acquaintances she shared with many regulars. Every weekend people gathered here to dance off the frustrations of work and other anxieties, and Trisha in particular enjoyed this time away from her family and sometimes forgot she was a panther. Here, grinding on the dance floor and mingling in the heat and sweat of bodies, nobody knew she was a pawn in an archaic patriarchy that insisted on making the big life decisions for her.
She should have felt invigorated to have skipped out on the Indian Summer Ball, literally thumbing her nose at the Houlihans and Weavers and anybody else who wanted to box her into the role of demure, second-class citizen. Perhaps knowing that Malcolm hadn’t bothered to show and acknowledge their betrothal caused her irritation. Not that it hurt to think the guy wasn’t interested in marrying her, but she’d wanted the opportunity to protest first.
Now, as Nicki Minaj’s energetic voice faded to allow Katy Perry to take over, Trisha finished her ginger ale and checked the dance floor. Marcy continued to shimmy and shake with her newfound dance partner—a handsome, wiry man who appeared nimble enough to dance around Marcy without moving his feet. Cute, yes, but not really Trisha’s type. Now, the one who’d refreshed her drink…where had he gotten to?
She drifted away from the bar and casually circulated around the ground floor of the club, seeing nobody who matched his description. Maybe he’d gone upstairs to the other dance area, or else the men’s room. Oh, well. A favorite song now blared throughout the club and she didn’t want to waste it. Finding a patch of blinking neon, she stepped onto the floor to dance away her troubles.
Young men and women drifted in and out of her personal space. Whenever the mood suited her, Trisha pushed out her hips and gyrated against the dancer closest to her for a few seconds before shuffling deeper into the throng. Eventually she scooted past Marcy and her new friend, who seemed interested in engaging the dark-skinned young woman in a reenactment of a scene from Dirty Dancing.
Trisha wanted to laugh, but still felt cautious for her friend. They had a hand-gesture code to use when either of them wanted out of a sticky situation. Marcy, however, appeared only too happy to bump and grind, so Trisha danced onward.
Soon she detected a hand on her upper hip, and a body pressed into her back. Her mysterious drink benefactor had found her and edged over her shoulder to smile at her.
“Having fun?” he called over the music.
Trisha nodded. “Thanks again for the drink.”
“Thank me with a dance?” He gently moved her to face him, all the while swaying his hips and standing in place. He didn’t exactly move like Jagger, but Trisha found him attractive. She noticed he also didn’t dress like other men at The Wall, either. In a sea of glam club bunnies and hipsters in hats, this man looked rather suave dressed all in black, save for the skinny gray tie that swung from side to side when he danced. Once they hit a nice groove, she realized she had a fairly good partner in that respect.
Somebody to her side lurched forward, causing a young man at her back to stumble. Trish caught the brunt of his slip and launched into her dance partner’s arms. “Whoa!” he cried, laughing as he draped himself around her.
“You okay? Your shoes slip?”
“No, but thanks.” She looked down and tested her balance on the dance floor.
Her flats proved grippy enough to keep her on the ground without risk of falling. She tried to dislodge herself from his embrace, but the young man had other plans for her.
One large hand cupped her left buttock and squeezed. Trisha didn’t object to the touch, she’d been felt up at the club before, and didn’t think much of a simple ass grab. Friends didn’t even consider that first base anymore. Maybe an intentional walk.
When his hand crept down to play with the hem of her dress, however, she started to feel a bit anxious. Warm, rough fingers scratched and smoothed over her bare rump. Their dancing rhythm slowed immensely, and Trisha wondered who saw her bare ass there in the middle of the crowd.
She felt the softness of her dress shift over her ass again, but it obviously didn’t mean her dance partner had ceased his exploration of her. He held her tightly to his chest, one hand pinned on the small of her back while the other dropped in between them and brushed her thighs. Trisha sighed, her voice quickly absorbed by the loud beat of the music. Her pussy gave an involuntary squeeze, as though anticipating direct contact.
It surprised her to want it so badly. Any other man, any other time might
have attempted this and she would have ripped his arm from its socket. Trisha rarely let her panther strength show in public, but if ever she sensed danger she wasn’t afraid to bare her fangs and put the fear of God into some grabby jerk.
This dark, handsome stranger, however…he seemed different from other guys she’d encountered here. The way he touched her implied he knew what she liked and definitely wanted to give it to her. She couldn’t argue with that, but right here on the dance floor? She wondered exactly how far they could go before somebody noticed, or tried to join in. The sensual energy and heat surrounding them certainly helped her mood.
He leaned close and whispered in her ear. Despite the thumping music vibrating her to the very core, she heard every word clearly.
All right now. Surely most of us remember the words to this song, right? C’mon. Sing it in your head.
We are family.
I got all my sisters with me…
Sister Sledge would be proud. 🙂
So, that’s our theme today. Family. What wouldn’t we do for family? Some of us would do anything. Some of us runaway from them. Family should be about love and acceptance and yet sometimes family is the one place where we feel least loved and least accepted. And the drama! Family seems to come steeped in drama…
I love my family. My immediate family. I do include my mom and grandmother and sister and brother in with that. Still, there are those who are not blood related who are just as much family, sometimes more than… Those friends are hard to come by, but once you find one, you should grab hold for dear life.
I would do anything for my family… So would Ruby.
“Are you really okay with this, Mel? Living up here, working from here? Being married to a shifter? I mean… What did you tell your friends? What are you going to tell Mom and Dad?” Ruby and Melanie sat on the couch in Carson’s living room, the same couch she and he had… The heat crept up again. Damn. She was turning into a regular old slut. Inwardly she smiled. If it meant sex with him wherever and whenever, being a slut was okay with her.
Luckily, Melanie hadn’t been looking at Ruby or there’d have been some explaining for Ruby to do about the color in her cheeks.
“Yes, I am really okay with this. Ruby, it was love at first sight for me when I met James. I can’t explain it and I never fought it. Not like I had with other men. Whereas I always wanted my independence with most of my boyfriends and lovers, one look at James and I wanted him all the time, every moment I was awake. I have to say though, I’m very surprised that you are fighting it with Carson.”
Ruby nodded. “So am I. I’m the believer in the family, and you’re the scientist. Of the two of us, you should be the one having issues, not me.” So then, why did she have issues? They weren’t as prevalent right now as they had been before last night. Something shifted, gave way, opened up during sex with Carson and where before she was concerned with logistics and how it would work, now it didn’t seem as important. Yet, she was clinging to it for all she was worth.
“What exactly is it you have a problem with?”
Melanie nodded. “I understand why that would bother you. I’m used to being off in remote regions sometimes, out in the middle of the ocean others, but you’re used to being surrounded by people, the city, culture. This would seem a little daunting.”
Yes, daunting. Looking out the large floor to ceiling windows of Carson’s living room, the mountains in the distance, the trees surrounding the cabin, the vast sky stretching as far as the eye could see, daunting was a very good word for it.
She was often lost in her own mind, a private person, an introvert, however she was quite at home in a crowded apartment building with people living just on the other side of the walls.
“Is quiet your only issue?”
Melanie’s words brought Ruby’s attention back to their conversation. Was it? Each time she thought about it, she came up with nothing else. Surely there was some other thing keeping her on the fence, something much more substantial than the fact that it was quieter in Alaska than it was in Chicago. “Well, I don’t know Carson all that well. I mean, I’ve known him for what, four days? Or is it five? See I can’t even tell you what day it is. I’m so turned around up here.”
Melanie laughed and hugged her. Ruby clasped her sister tightly, glad to have her solid and strong and familiar there with her. Mel pulled back but held on to Ruby’s hands. “I know. It’s fast. It hits you right between the eyes and doesn’t let go. These men are like magnets and once one of them sets his sights on the woman he is meant to be with, there’s nothing to be done about it. In his mind, the die has been cast and there’s no out. You feel the same pull I did with James, Ruby. You feel the same pull Carson does.”
“His is different than mine.”
“No, Ruby, it’s not. Not really. He feels it in his blood, coursing through him. You feel it in your gut, in your heart. It’s a part of both of you.”
“His is… I don’t know.” Ruby shook her head, failing at finding the right words she was searching her brain for.
“Okay, let me ask it this way. When you first met him, what did you think? What did you feel?”
Hot. Hard. Sexy. “Well, he was naked in my hotel bed.” Melanie laughed and so did Ruby. “I felt safe, no panic, no fear. I thought he was gorgeous, the most beautiful and striking man I’d ever seen.”
“And you trusted him, yes?”
Ruby nodded. She had. Immediately and without question. Thinking back on it now, it seemed rather stupid. He was a perfect stranger, the emphasis on the perfect part because he’d never really felt like a stranger. She should have been scared, full of panic, but it wasn’t until sometime later that the absence of those feelings actually dawned on her.
“He’s your own hero, Ruby. Your own Prince Charming. This is your fairy tale, and he’s his own legend, just like the rest of the men in his family. They are living legends.”
“And no one can ever know about them.”
“No,” Melanie shook her head. “No one can ever know about them, at least not what makes them so very special.”
“You still didn’t answer me about mom and dad. What are you gonna tell them? Hell, I don’t even know what to tell them. ‘Hey, Mom, Dad, Mel and I have shacked up with a couple of ice bear shifters’.”
Melanie laughed. “Yeah, I’m not sure the parental units are going to understand, but you know them, they live their own lives in their own little world. The farm has always been everything to them.”
“Look, Ruby, I have a confession to make. I didn’t call or answer your calls because…because I needed you to come find me. I needed you to see them for yourself. I needed you to meet Carson.”
“I saw the way he looked at the pictures of you I had. It was the same way James looked at me the day I met him.[SM1] [L2] It was an all-knowing look, and I knew that you were the one. The way he would go completely still when he heard your voice on my voicemail saying that you were coming to find me. He got this intense look in his eyes. James said it was the animal kicking in, the need for his mate.”
“But bears don’t really have mates. Not for life anyway. The males don’t even stick around.”
“These hybrid bears do. Fiercely loyal and possessive, protective. They were humans first, but the need and animalistic urge to mate… Once it kicks in, it’s there for good. Besides, Carson’s a catch.”
Ruby couldn’t argue with that, but she wanted to know why Melanie thought so. “Why?”
“Oh don’t pretend you don’t know why. Honey, the man can cook.”
Now, speaking of family, I am with mine. Presently, they are all asleep in the hotel room… We’re having a little getaway for the weekend. I have to pick up some packages for Authors After Dark and it’s so close to Charleston, South Carolina that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stick around and explore.
While I’m doing that, y’all take some time to read through the following blogs for more snippets:
Megan Hart:Read in bed!
Mandy M Roth
Welcome to another edition of Snippet Saturday. Our topic today is Settings as a Character, where places are part of the scene.
I am a very big character person, the human character, but if the author can create a setting where you feel as though you are there in the midst of the room, the park, the car, where you smell the leather, the flowers, feel the air moving in the room even, then that place becomes part of the story, the scene and therefore, a character unto itself.
I don’t think I do this very well and could definitely use pointers and some research…
Ruby shivered. She might be riding in a truck and the heater might be cranked up to high, but the cold permeated the windows and it was all she could do to keep her teeth from chattering. “I can’t believe Mel would still be up here. There’s nothing except snow and woods and not a whale to be found. Her work is down by the water. It was only supposed to be a weekend trip.” The last was muttered into her hands as she exhaled warm air into her glove-covered palms trying to warm them.
It was only October, and winter hadn’t set in yet, but snow was beginning to accumulate on the ground and temperatures were a balmy thirty-something. Even though she lived in Chicago where it got bone-chilling cold thanks to the lake, this cold was different.
She couldn’t quite explain why or what it was that made it different, she just knew she’d never been this cold in her life. Their, Ruby and Mel’s, parents hadn’t had much luck getting direct answers from Mel’s boss about her exact whereabouts the last time he’d heard from her, but Ruby hadn’t been content to take his half-ass answers. She had dogged his every step, called him day and night until he finally gave her what little information he had. In the end, he hadn’t been very helpful at all. Even Ruby had known Mel was supposed to be in and around the Kenai Peninsula. It was what happened after she left the Kenai and Cook Inlet area that Ruby wasn’t sure about. Things had gone silent. The last communication Ruby’d had from her sister was that she was taking a few days to go up to Mount McKinley in Denali National Park with a local man she had the hots for. But even Mel knew if she didn’t check in or get back to work, someone would notice and contact their parents and their parents would contact Ruby.
Mel had booked an air tour and had gotten on the ground in a little town inside the forest area, not too far from the main park entrance, but well enough off the beaten path that only the locals could get anyone there. And that little town was where Ruby was headed.
“You said your sister was up here doing research?”
“Back along the coast, yes. Here in the middle part of the state where there are no whales? No. Which is why I don’t understand her not being back from her trek to the mountain.” The last was said more to herself than to Joe, the local she’d hired to drive her.
“Maybe she got caught up with one of the locals, and she’s holed up in his cabin.”
As if. Though if either of us were likely to do such a thing, it would be Mel. “No. She loves that job too much to jeopardize it and disappearing off the face of the earth would seriously jeopardize it.” Ruby looked around at the snow-dotted trees. “And what locals? Aside from you and me, there’s no sign of human life anywhere.” She’d seen a fair amount of moose, caribou, some small white foxes, but no humans.
Joe laughed. It wasn’t a pleasant sound either and made her feel a bit uneasy.
“Oh, there’s life out here all right, little lady. Don’t you go forgettin’ it either. And there are…human types. They just blend in with the scenery so’s you can’t spot ’em. They don’t like to draw attention to themselves.”
Blend in with the scenery? Human types? Her interest was piqued. She didn’t want to admit it because Joe seemed a little kooky and creepy now, but she was a glutton for a good tale. “How do they do that? Everything is white for miles and miles, and it’s kind of hard to blend in with a tree unless you’re in brown from head to toe.”
“Well, they change form when they don’t want to be seen.”
“They change form?” She was having a hard time containing her curious enthusiasm. She was from the city where people were people and there was very little blending into the surroundings. There was no such thing as humans that could change shape around where she lived. But in the myths and legends she’d studied in her life, in her career…they were full of shape-shifting beings. Humans to animals. They were just stories though. They didn’t really exist, never had.
“Yeah, they shift, you know? Change.” He took a last puff from his cigarette and tossed it from the truck and into the snow. “You mean you never heard of shifters?”
“I’m afraid not. Not real ones, anyway.”
“Huh. Well, no one has been able to prove they exist, but they do. You mark my word. They’re here.”
“How do you know? I mean, if it’s never been proven?” All she wanted was to find Melanie and make sure she was okay, not to go myth diving. She couldn’t let herself get carried away with the intrigue and curiosity, couldn’t act like she cared. But dammit, he was tempting her bad habit of inquisitiveness. And since myths were right up her alley…
She loved delving into old tales. It was how she’d become a mythologist. Hardly anyone knew what that was, but the libraries and museums loved her. She was always asking questions, always looking for new answers, new avenues of thought.
The whys and what ifs defined more of her life than reality and right now. She had a natural curiosity and simple one-word answers never worked for her. It was probably why she liked reading so much, too, getting her hands on everything she could about whatever she was studying and trying to figure out.
He shifted behind the wheel as if her question made him uncomfortable. “I just know.”
“What kind of animals?” She shouldn’t have asked any more. She should have let the subject drop, but he had her hooked and she wanted to know more. Were they wolves? Bears? Moose? Caribou? Or were they smaller like some of the fox she’d seen along the side of the road?
“Like Kodiak bears?”
“Polar bears. Ice bears.”
He had to be pulling her leg, but the serious, low tone of his voice told her he wasn’t. Still, though… “This is too far south and too far inland for polar bears.”
Joe shot her a pointed stare and she shivered in a way that had nothing to do with the cold. “You mark my word, they’s more polar bears than any other kind. Wolves too. But not so much down here in these woods. The wolves are farther north and deeper in.”
He shifted again, and his jaw tightened. Soon after, he lit another cigarette. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was trying to frighten her, but she chalked that feeling up to just being tired and irritable. They’d been on the road for what seemed like forever, and she’d had enough. Enough of Joe, of the cold, of nature, of being so far out of her comfort zone and what she knew. She wanted warmth, one of her books that made her feel at home and comforted, and to sleep for a week. “How much longer before we reach the lodge?”
“Just ’round that bend up there. You’ll be able to hire someone to take you farther into the wilderness. You make sure to be careful and watch out for them shifters. ”
She’d already been in contact with someone at the lodge about needing a guide. “Yeah, I’ll do that.”
Enjoy snippets from the following authors…
Megan Hart — Read in bed!
It’s been a long day. It’s 11:31am and it’s been a long day.
I went to Caribou Coffee this morning for a full-on-fat and sugar dark chocolate campfire mocha complete with whipped cream and chocolate chips and marshmallow nibs. It’s a release day ritual only, yesterday was release day and… well, it was spent taking care of some promo and taking DH to the Dr. again.
There are some that have read Arctic Shift already and there have been some amazing comments given and questions asked about more books. That makes me smile and grin and bounce off the walls. As of this writing, Arctic Shift is sitting at #2 on MBaM and that’s awesome! Of course, the book sitting at #1 is Karen Erickson’s menage, Scandalous so…
Next year when my menage comes out… Grins…
I have a lot of writing to do today to make up for none yesterday. So, I’m going to leave y’all with a recipe for Maple Grilled Salmon similar to the one Carson makes for Ruby in the old, line/supply cabin. I haven’t tried it on Salmon yet, but as the intro suggests, I have tried it on pork and it’s pretty damn good.
Maple Grilled Salmon
The sweet-sour marinade is cooked down to a syrupy glaze that’s brushed on the fish as it cooks. The citrus and maple flavors would also be tasty with pork. Garnish fillets with orange slices, if desired.
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 3 hours.
2. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
3. Remove fish from bag, reserving the marinade. Pour marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes).
4. Place fish on grill rack or pan coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with marinade. Remove fish from grill; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 (6-ounce) Alaskan salmon fillets
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Preheat broiler
2. Combine first 6 ingredients; rub spice mixture evenly over flesh side of fillets. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Brush fillets evenly with syrup; broil 1 minute.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet)
Both of these recipes from Cooking Light. I’m a sucker for 20-30 minute recipes! They are awesome. If I can’t make it in the crock pot, it needs to only take a max. of 30 minutes. And honestly, a lot of fresh cooking doesn’t take all that long. Neither recipe takes a long time and the food is fresh and good for you. Beats anything out of a box any day of the week. It takes a little effort but…
Carson loves to cook. It’s one of his biggest passions aside from being in the out of doors. He uses fresh ingredients and teaches Ruby the pleasures of real food. I love that. I don’t know how common or not it is for shifters to have these kinds of human traits and needs. He needs to cook. It feeds his family. Perhaps it’s part of the hunter in him. He’s strong, capable. He’s also tender, loving. He wants to care for Ruby, needs to care for her, even down to the very simple thing of feeding her good food prepared from his hands.
I could certainly get used to a Carson.
Y’all have a good day! And no, I haven’t forgotten about giveaways. Just stay tuned. It’ll hit y’all before ya know it! Oh, and in case you didn’t know it yet, Arctic Shift is now available for Amazon Kindle.