The Matchbaker…Five Fun Facts :)

TM_200x300So, my first review of The Matchbaker came out the other day (it was great and she gave it 4 stars! Yay!) and the reviewer said there hadn’t been a lot of buzz around the book, so she didn’t know what she was getting into.

I was like, “Whaaaaa?” because this is the most buzzing I’ve ever done about a book! LOL!

But I guess with Regency Romance, you almost always know what you’re getting into, at least a little, so even if I didn’t “buzz,” people knew what to expect.

So, since there hasn’t been a lot of buzz and maybe people are wondering, “What the heck is this book??” here are five fun facts about the making of The Matchbaker…

Fun Fact #1 — In the opening chapter, Candy’s BFF drags her to meet with a fortune teller in Paris named Madame Antoinette. What you all might find interesting is that Madame Antoinette is real! She’s not French, and she doesn’t wear gawdy gypsy-style clothing, but she is a good friend of mine, who, by the way, does not know she inspired a character in my book. I suppose I should tell her before I post this 🙂

Fun Fact #2 — Madame Antoinette predicts that Candy will meet a handsome stranger in the fall and fall in love. This really happened. My own Antoinette (or Toni, as we call her) gave me a reading years ago. I was still with my ex-boyfriend, but she told me we wouldn’t be together forever. I was sure we were going to get married, so I thought she was totally heinous. She went on to say it was someone I already knew. Ha! I didn’t know anyone that I was even remotely interested in (shhhh…don’t tell my husband). So fast forward about 9 months to that fall, and lo and behold, I started to fall in love with one of my classmates…whom I had known for several years already. We’ve been together almost 13 years 🙂 (To get in touch with Toni for your own reading, visit http://www.astrology-source.com)

Fun Fact #3 — The Mac & Cheese Candy eats on her date is based on my all-time favorite Mac & Cheese from a place in Jersey City, NJ called Amelia’s. It. Is. Heavenly.

Fun Fact #4 — A certain character talks about having moved to Florida to a seaside town. That town is called Stuart and the coffee shop he worked in was the Stuart Coffee Company. It’s an adorable town, with lots of character, that we love to visit on a nice weekend afternoon.

Fun Fact #5 — Candy mentions her spin studio in Manhattan briefly (though there used to be a whole scene with her spin class). That spin studio is called Soul Cycle. My hubby set up their computers years ago, and a friend from college is an instructor there now. It is THE place to spin if you live in Manhattan!

So there you have it…buzz! I’ll be creating more buzz as we countdown to the release of The Matchbaker! If you own a Nook, you can already get it for pre-order. If not, you have to wait till August 27th! Mark your calendars!

And if you haven’t signed up for the HUGE GIVEAWAY, go NOW!

THE WARY WIDOW…in Audio! PLUS GIVEAWAY!

I’m excited to announce that the 3rd book in my Wetherby Brides series, THE WARY WIDOW, is now available at Audible.com in audiobook format, as well as Amazon.com!
(Coming soon to iTunes!)

WW Audio

In honor of the release of THE WARY WIDOW,  I’m giving away a free audiobook download of BOTH A Gentleman Never Tells and More Than a Governess to one lucky commenter! You just have to fill in these 10 Fun Facts (pulled from BookWormSimi‘s list of interview questions). Copy/Paste the questions, fill in your answers and make sure to leave your email address:

Favorite Color:

Favorite Book:

Favorite Author:

Favorite Movie:

Favorite Actor:

Favorite Actress:

Favorite Song:

Favorite Singer:

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THANKS FOR PLAYING!

 

Links to the first two audiobooks…

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MTAG Audio

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Getting to Know…THE MATCHBAKER

TM_667x1000My dear friend and crit partner, Julie Johnstone, tagged me in a blog hop and only after I’d filled out this entire thing did I realize it was supposed to be for a Regency novel. So, I’ll do another tomorrow, but for now…here are some fun facts about my upcoming release, The Matchbaker…

1: What is the working title of your book? The Matchbaker

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? Dagnabit, it’s been so long, I can’t remember exactly! Cupcakes and magic are two things I’ve always loved, so it’s not that surprising 🙂
3: What genre does your book come under? ChickLit (or Women’s Humorous Fiction, to be PC)

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Rachel McAdams as Candy, Candace Accola as Holly, Ryan Reynolds as Joe and James Marsden as Colin

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Just when Candace Cooper is on her way to being a hot shot executive, her life takes a drastic and unexpected shift from NYC back to her sleepy hometown of Sagehaven, CT, where she’s forced to trade in her Manolos for an apron and succumb to a generations-old curse.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency? Pubbed under the Night Shift umbrella.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Phew! 3+ years, off and on!

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’d *like* to compare it to Sophie Kinsella’s novels, though I, of course, bow to the Queen of Chick Lit, and pray that this book is at least half as good as hers.
9: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Cupcakes and Magic! Didn’t I already answer this?

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s hilarious. At least, my hubby and I think it is. And it’s got magic. Oh, and cupcake recipes! I’ve got several bakers/bakeries contributing very special recipes for the book so you can bake along with Candy!

Here’s an excerpt:

Holly and Colin are sharing a good laugh now. How nice. I smile, trying to be a good sport, but really, this isn’t helping at all. Considering I’m going to be the primary baker at Candy’s Confections, I don’t find this memory particularly amusing. It’s frightening, actually. What were my parents thinking?

What am I thinking?

Once they calm down, Colin takes another sip of his drink, and then turns to me. “So, I assume you’ve learned to bake since then, right?”

They’re both staring at me, so I force a little laugh and say, “Sure! I mean, it can’t be that hard, can it? It’s not like I’m a mindless teenager anymore, anyway. I’m sure I can follow recipes a lot better than I used to be able to.”

Colin raises his eyebrows. “You mean, you don’t actually know how to bake now?”

I roll my eyes, trying to play it off. “Well…not in so many words, but it’ll be fine.”

“If you don’t know how to bake, then why are they insisting you…bake?” Colin looks just as confused as I feel right now.

I want to answer him honestly, but if I start talking about the change he’ll probably try to have me committed. I’m considering that option myself. At least it would get me out of all this.

I fish for another reason, but my mind is blank.

“Because she’s the oldest!” Holly puts in and I can see by her smile that she’s proud of her fast thinking. “It’s family tradition, apparently. So Candy just has to learn.”

Meet the Matchmakers: Viscountess Staveley & the Duchess of Weston

On this Valentine’s Day, bestselling authors Ava Stone and Jerrica Knight-Catania are happy to bring you a conversation between their most devious, managing, and cupid-like heroines, the ladies who may make a little havoc, but always find a way to make things right, all while getting others to do their bidding.
Without further ado… Caroline, Viscountess Staveley from Ava’s Scandalous Series and Katherine, the Duchess of Weston from Jerrica’s Wetherby Brides Series.
~ * ~

Caroline re-folds a letter from her sister-in-law and smiles to herself. Everything has turned out exactly as she’d planned.

“Are you going to voluntarily tell me the reason for that sly expression, or am I going to have to pry it out of you?” Katherine asks from the threshold.

Caroline grins in response. “An expression you’ve been known to sport quite often, Kat.”

Katherine shrugs and steps into the Staveley’s white parlor. “Indeed. But what has you smirking like that today?”

Caroline’s grin grows even wider as she makes room for the duchess to sit beside her on the settee. “Vindication. No matter how much my brothers complain about my ability to manage them, they both have me to thank for their current states of happiness.”

“I could say the same thing.” Katherine settles in beside Caroline, an equally sly expression now etched across her lovely face. “I’ve got a story or two about brothers of my own.”

“Of course you do. What feat, in regards to your brothers are you the most proud?” Caroline asks.

“Oh, that’s an easy one. Benjamin and Phoebe, of course. It was easy enough getting them to the altar, but they nearly sabotaged their marriage! If I had not stepped in, Lord only knows where they’d be by now.” Katherine turns to Caroline. “Your turn. Which couple was your greatest success?”

Caroline taps her chin and scrunches up her nose. “That’s so difficult to say, Kat. On one hand, Luke with his foolish male-ness would have lost Juliet forever, if not for me; but I think bringing Robert and Lydia together was my greatest accomplishment. Robert is so stubborn and set in his ways. Domineering, really. His mind had been firmly made up about his wife, and it still would be if I hadn’t intervened. Now several children later, he hardly resembles his former self. It’s so rewarding to know how happy he’s become.” Her hazel eyes twinkle mischievously. “I think we have to do what we do, Kat. Manage others, I mean. No matter how dangerous a situation gets. Where would our friends and family be without us?”

Katherine sits forward in her seat, clearly getting excited about the topic. “Oh, I couldn’t agree more! Why, to think of the hoops I had to jump through for cousin Victoria. Goodness, it gives me the vapors just to think of that situation. Foolish girl! Now if we could only bring her brother, Thomas up to snuff! Of course, the way I’ve seen him carousing about Town tells me he’s not thinking of settling down anytime soon. Perhaps Victoria and I can team up to change that. But tell me, Caroline, what–or rather who– will your next project be?”

“Oh, darling!” Caroline clutches Kat’s hand. “There are just so many people in Town who need a happy ever after, don’t you agree?”

Katherine nods whole-heartedly. “Indeed.”

“Hmm.” Caroline continues. “Lord Carraway would be high on my list of those to help next, as would that poor, brooding Lord Avery. Although, I think his sister, Cordelia Clayworth, might have something up her sleeve for that particular fellow.” Her hazel eyes suddenly start flashing with indignation. “But I can tell you who won’t be getting any help from me. The Marquess of Haversham can go hang, for all I care. That man makes your average rake look like a well-behaved saint!” She heaves a sigh and shakes her head as though to shake an unpleasant thought from her head. “Enough about him. What about you, Kat? Who will you focus your efforts on next?”

Jerrica pipes up, Ava by her side. “Ladies, I’m afraid we must ask you to stop right there.”

Both Katherine and a Caroline turn to them, confused looks upon their faces.

“But why?” Caroline asks.

“We can’t have you giving away any secrets now, can we?” Ava explains. “You’ll ruin things for our readers.”

Katherine shrugs. “She does have a point, Caro. But that doesn’t mean we can’t wait until they leave to continue planning our machinations.”

“Oh!” Caroline leaps from her seat and rushes to where Jerrica and Ava are standing. “Well, thank you for stopping by, ladies,” she says as she ushers them out the door.

They try to protest, but it’s no use. They are no match for Caroline’s desire to plan her next matchmaking adventure.

If you’d like to read more from Katherine and Caroline, be sure to check out Ava Stone’s Scandalous Series, as well as Jerrica Knight-Catania’s Wetherby Brides Series!

     ASWife  1 AGNT 200x300   Robber Bride Cover  

Twelve Days of Christmas: Suzie Grant

Love and Laughter
by Suzie Grant

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.” Bill Cosby

Christmas is a big affair in my family. Walk into the front door of my mother’s house and you’re immediately assaulted — err welcomed by Christmas music and blinding — err brilliant lights.  Pack in a dozen people into a moderate-sized dining room and you get total chaos.  Our family is fairly heavy on Christmas tradition and you know I wouldn’t change a thing.  Despite the disorder, extremely loud brother, — I mean family members — and the warring toddlers who’re battling it out to see who gets to sit in the rocking chair first. It all makes the holiday’s complete for me and even though I return home feeling like I’ve just been in a brawl with WWE’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, it’s completely worth it.

I happen to love the chaos actually.  It’s crazy but it’s fun.  Although I will say that I can’t handle more than a day or two before I’m ready to return to my mundane life back home.  The greatest moment is that brief swatch of silence while we gather to hold hands and say a prayer before we eat and then the entire gathering swarm the table like a herd of starving elephants to a vat of peanuts.  Christmas to me is about family and fun.  If you can’t laugh and be silly during these times, then when will you?

Which is one of the reasons why our favorite Christmas movie is Home Alone and we never fail to watch it.  Whether it’s a week before Christmas or the day of Christmas, I always end up piling onto the sofa to watch it with my kids.  It’s become a Christmas tradition for us and one that I love.  Laughter heals the soul in my humble opinion.  No matter what you’re experiencing in life, laughter is the key to staying healthy.  And nothing is as funny as Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern trying to outsmart an eight-year-old kid.  It’s great and it makes me giggle every year.  Best of all my kids love this movie and it makes for great snuggle time.  What could be better than that?

So I’m leaving you with two clips of my most favorite scenes in the movie and hopefully, it’ll give you a good chuckle and bring back some good memories for you.

I wish I could write humor into some of my stories but I’ve always said I’m the guy at the back of the bar who’s sober and laughing at all the drunks.  That’s me.  So I’ll leave the entertainment to those who do it best.  But I love to laugh and I hope it’s a trait I’ve past onto my children and I leave you with this little reminder: “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” Charlie Chaplin.

Always remember to take a minute to laugh.  Have a wonderful Holiday Season, no matter how you celebrate it, and from my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

Home Alone Clip one: http://youtu.be/4DgbUBoxa48

Home Alone Clip Two: http://youtu.be/2Lb92tL6R4A

Leave a comment for Suzie and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

5960704A Caribbean Jewel for Christmas: Blackmailed by a British Naval Commander, Captain Randall Whitton, a smuggler with a penchant for gold is rescued by Jewel Derington, a feisty plantation owner and the very woman who betrayed him in the jungles of Barbados. Escaping danger has never been so thrilling. Together they are drawn into a political game of winner takes all from which only his grandfather, the Duke of Danby, can rescue them.

 * Fascinated by the glitter of his Caribbean Jewel, Randall’s lust for gold soon fades. His quest to tame this fiery treasure catapults them both into an adventure where the stakes are higher and the prize greater than either of them have ever dared dream.

Available NOW at…

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**All of Suzie’s books are on sale for .99 cents for the Holidays from Dec 15th – Jan 15th 2013. Enjoy!**
VVsml

Twelve Days of Christmas: Lilia Birney

For the Price of a Cup of Coffee
by Lilia Birney

Every year at Christmas time, I hear the same thing from non-profits and charitable organizations.  “For the price of a cup of coffee, you can make a difference.”  But I never really believed it.  I never wanted to give so little.  I figured that if I were going to increase my giving to charity, I needed to give in a BIG way.  I thought that if I really were going to give a small donation, it would be somehow insulting to the recipient.

But this year is the first year that my daughter is really old enough to be aware of Christmas and it’s our first year of really struggling against the materialism that comes hand in hand with the season.  I wanted to set an example for her, one that she might be able to really get and to follow.  So, we decided to have “pizza parties for charity” every Friday night for the month of December.

It works like this: usually every Friday night, as a rule, we order two large pizzas and usually a few extras from our local pizza delivery.  Then, we rent (or even purchase) a movie on Amazon to watch.  The total usually tops out around $40 for the night.  So, instead of ordering pizza from takeout, we choose a take and bake pizza from the grocery store (for around $5) and watch one of the movies we already have.  Then, we would donate the remaining $35 to charity.

To choose the charity, each of us wrote the name of a charity on an index card.  We folded them up and put them in a bowl.  My daughter draws the name of that charity out on Friday morning, and all day we talk about how we are “eating for” that charity.  Our first party was last Friday, and my daughter chose a tiger sanctuary.  She is obsessed with tigers. So, all day we talked about how we were “eating for tigers.”

Then, that night, we looked at the tiger sanctuary’s website and “adopted” a Bengal tiger with our donation.  In a few weeks, we’ll get an adoption certificate in the mail.  It’s the most tangible way I can think of to show my daughter how to give more—to get something a little less big to give to others.  And in a few weeks, she’ll get a certificate in the mail and a bunch of cool stuff all about tigers—more tangible proof of how her donation helped.

We tried it the first night and it’s amazing how excited we all were and how much fun we had.   And we can’t wait until this Friday to do it all over again for a different charity.  It may not make a huge difference to the charity of choice, but it has made a huge difference to our family.  It’s like we’re seeing Christmas through new lenses!

Leave a comment for Lilia and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

Summons DukeLady Penelope’s Christmas Charade:
When Lady Penelope Annand’s trusted servant goes missing just before Christmas, she is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.  Even if that means hiring a thief-taker to track down her maid’s whereabouts.  But when the darkly smoldering Pierce Howe takes charge of the situation, Penelope finds herself growing more attracted to him by the second–even if she’s infuriated by his high-handed manner.  Penelope gave up on Christmas wishes years ago when her first husband broke her heart, but could Pierce give her a second chance at love?Pierce Howe has made a name for himself as one of London’s most reliable thief-takers, leaving behind his family’s sordid past to create a life of his own.  But when Viscountess Annand, known in society as The Ice Goddess, demands that he track down her wayward maid, he receives a Christmas gift he never expected–Penelope’s trust.  His carefully-constructed defenses begin crumbling as they embark on a Christmas charade to find Penelope’s maid.  As the Ice Goddess shows that she does indeed have a melting point, the thief-taker must decide if he can risk it all and tell her the truth about his past.
Available NOW at these major retailers…
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 Lilia Birney on Twitter: @liliabirne

Twelve Days of Christmas: Julie Johnstone

An Angel in Need

by Julie Johnstone

I love the Christmas season, but probably not for the reason you might be thinking.  Sure the presents are nice, I would be lying if I said I don’t like getting presents.  Yet if there were no presents under the tree for me, I would still love the Christmas season.  It’s not the gifts that make it special, but the traditions and the spirit of giving.

One of the traditions I dearly love is decorating the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  It’s a family affair, which has followed me from childhood.  We go―my husband, my kids, and myself―and we pick out the perfect Christmas tree.  Once that baby is up, and we have spent no less than an hour trying to figure out why all the lights don’t work, we spend the rest of the night putting on the ornaments, decorating the mantel and listening to our favorite Christmas music, which always includes Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

Another tradition that has followed me from childhood is the tradition of giving to those less fortunate.  I grew up in a household that certainly was not wealthy, but my mother always took my brother and I to pick out an Angel, a child in need of someone to provide them a Christmas, from the Angel tree.  This year will be the first year that my kids are going to actively participate in helping me go to the store and buy presents for our little Angel whom we are providing Christmas for.  I cannot think of a better tradition than that.

I encourage each and every one of you to look within yourselves this Christmas season, and then dig into your wallets and give back, even if just a little, to someone who needs a little Christmas joy.

Leave a comment for Julie and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the book seller of your choice!

summons_from_yorkshire_picture_2 (1)

In The Gift of Seduction, which is my story in A Summons from Yorkshire (Regency Christmas Summons Collection 1) I like to think my hero Drew was changed by my heroine Charlotte.  At one time Drew put more importance on his money than the love of his life.  But this Christmas his heart will be opened to the true spirit of Christmas and the opportunity to be gifted with the most special gift of all, lifelong love, will be his.

The day Andrew Whitton, Earl of Hardwick chooses his fortune over the woman he loves, Drew discovers that money makes for a cold bed partner.  Now, no matter how far he runs, the memory of his betrayal haunts him, and there’s not enough liquor to dull the past or diminish his disgust.  * Charlotte Milne trusted in happily ever after until her knight turned out to be wearing rusty armor.  Drew, the scoundrel, seduced her, though she very much enjoyed the seduction by the man she’s loved since childhood.  Left scandalously ruined, Char flees her home intent upon forgetting Drew and proving her worth.  * Separated by disloyalty and pain, each struggle to bury the memories of the other until a mandatory summons from the Duke of Danby sets them on a path of collision to Danby Castle.  With the tides of irrevocable change rising, Drew must find a way to show Char that even the most selfish of rakes can be redeemed by love before the woman of his heart becomes the wife of another.

Available at…Amazon, Barnes & Noble, And other online retailers!

 

Have a Merry Christmas!

Julie Johnstone

Twelve Days of Christmas: Ava Stone

Holiday Traditions, huh?
by Ava Stone

I never really thought I had any, just the usual stuff everyone else does.  Decorating a tree, wrapping presents, you know “the usual”.  But this year, as I’m merging my holiday traditions with The Scientist’s holiday traditions…  Well, there are definitely some differences.

ONE – The Stone household has always had a “fake” tree. (This is my Scottish roots coming out…Why buy a tree each year? Buy a good one once, and you’re set.) The Scientist’s household always does a “real” tree. I was told that Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the smell of a real tree. When I said candles had the same scent, I was met with a death stare.

FINE – “REAL” TREE it is.

TWO – The Stone household always goes out for Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner. (Actually, I’d go out every night of the week if I could avoid cooking.  And who wants to cook at Christmas?  There are too many other things to do.) The Scientist’s household has always had a traditional Christmas Eve dinner – roasted goose and the whole nine yards.  Of course, my teen is quite upset at the prospect of not having Chinese for Christmas Eve this year, even though he doesn’t like Chinese food. “But, Mom, it’s my tradition.”

FINE  – ROASTED GOOSE for 3 and TAKE-OUT CHINESE for 1 (who doesn’t like Chinese.)

THREE – The Stone household loves happy, cherry Christmas songs. (I’m very partial to Bing Crosby’s crooner voice.  He should have sung every Christmas song.) The Scientist’s household has always listened to religious carols (Apparently, it’s a German thing.)

FINALLY I WON ONE – CROSBY’s WHITE CHRISTMAS it is!  And Peggy Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and Gene Autry’s Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Growing up, we always opened one gift on Christmas Eve (which was usually some sort of Christmas pajamas, until I caught on and pitched a fit and refused to play along) and the rest of the presents on Christmas Day.  But in the world of split families, children must be shared. So, this year we will open all of our presents Christmas Eve, and the next day my son and his daughter will go see their other parent to open those sets of gifts.

And what will we do on Christmas Day without children?  I guess we’ll have to come up with some new holiday traditions!  Left over goose?  A little more Crosby, anyone?  Have you ever merged your holiday traditions with someone else’s?  How did you do it?  Do you miss the old traditions or have you embraced the new ones?

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A COUNTERFEIT CHRISTMAS SUMMONS ~ A Summons From Yorkshire

ASFYLady Emma Whitton has decided its time to take her future in her own hands. She has been in love with Viscount Heathfield since she was in leading strings. Unfortunately, it’s been almost that long since she’s laid eyes on her brother’s old friend and vice versa. Tired of waiting for him to remember her, Emma pens a holiday invitation (in her brother’s hand) to Heathfield and waits as patiently as she is able for her one true love to arrive.

Heath isn’t quite certain what to make of the very strange summons he received, but his curiosity is most definitely piqued. He heads north to Danby Castle, only to find that his very orderly life is about to be turned upside down.

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TO CATCH A CAPTAIN  

 Royal Horse Guard, on Parliament Street, LondonAfter receiving what seems like an offer of employment from an English countess, orphan Bridget Kelly leaves her uncle’s house in Dublin to make her own way in the world. But making her way in England is easier said than done, especially for an innocent Irish lass with no family or connections. In fact, she’ll be lucky if she can make it to Derbyshire alive.

Still smarting from his brother and former fiancée’s betrayal, rakish Captain Russell Avery arrives at his sister’s Derbyshire estate, looking for something or someone to help soothe his bruised ego. When a pretty little Irish maid stumbles into his chamber one morning, Russell is certain he’s found just the distraction he’s looking for. Well, at least until he learns who the lass truly is and the place she’s to hold in his sister’s household.

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WEBSITE – www.avastoneauthor.com

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BLOG – www.ladyscribes.blogspot.com

Twelve Days of Christmas: Jane Charles

The Great Cookie Exchange
by Jane Charles

When I think about holiday traditions I immediately think about baking.  I can remember my mother making Christmas cookies.  Only one kind, and she made 12 dozen.  She would then meet with her friends who also made 12 dozen cookies for an exchange. I couldn’t wait to see what she brought home and hoped for my favorite – Mrs. Foster’s Stained Glass Windows.

My mother made cutouts. The best cutouts ever!  As soon as I was old enough I was put on decorating duty.  No sloppiness (at least for the ones we were giving away). The snowmen were white with either silver balls or red hot candy for his buttons; a red fruit roll-up type of candy sliced thin was tied into a bow for his neck, and small, chocolate dots for his eyes. The trees were always green with neatly placed ornaments (shiny candy balls), stars were gold. You get the idea.

I learned how to roll the dough to the correct thickness so the cookies baked evenly and didn’t burn.  And how to mix the frosting so that it wasn’t too thin or too thick.

Eventually the ladies stopped doing the cookie exchange, which really bummed me out because I still lived at home and this was something I looked forward it to every year.  However, around this time grandchildren started arriving (not mine – I was the baby of the family. It would be 10 years before I delivered my own bundle of joy).  As soon as the grandchildren were old enough to wield a spoon mom had them decorating cutouts.  That three-year-old could have more frosting on the table and himself than the cookie, make a pink tree and throw every type of sprinkle on it and it was the best tree ever.

This tradition continued for years. We have pictures of various grandchildren decorating from their highchair to older kids showing off their plate of cookies that they couldn’t wait to show their parents.  Soon, great grandchildren entered the picture until mom stopped doing the cookies because of age and dementia. However, I had started the cookie baking at my house years before mom quit.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved in an exchange so I set aside a long weekend for nothing but baking and candy making, including Stained Glass Windows.  I taught my children how to roll out the cookies to the right thickness, and mix the frosting to the prefect consistency. . . (you get the idea).

My kids would gather around the table and we would decorate for hours.  This is when I got the first hint my oldest was an artist.  Each cookie was painstakingly decorated to perfection.  These were the ones that were just too pretty to eat.

We still bake the cookies but the oldest is now in Oregon. That doesn’t mean the tradition stopped.  I still remember that early December call the first year she was married. “Mom, what is the recipe for the cutouts?”

It is easy to imagine my character, Elizabeth Whitton, making cutouts.  After all, she did start off in the kitchen when she took up residence in the Tuileries as a spy.  We’ll just pretend that cutouts and sugar cookies were popular in France in 1812 – lol.

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His GraceCompromised for Christmas

Lady Elizabeth craved excitement and adventure. Unwilling to endure further boring Seasons, she convinces her uncle, who has lived a more adventurous life than anyone else she knew, to let her work for him. A few years later Elizabeth was established in Tuileries Castle, a servant in Napoleon’s court known as Lisette Renard.

John Phillip Trent has been working in the stables of Tuileries as Jean Pierre Bouvier for the past two years. His only English contact being Lisette Renard, a lovely blond lass, who he desired but kept at a professional arm’s length.

When Lisette receives a summons to return home for Christmas, John learns that she is none other than the granddaughter of the Duke of Danby and she had named Jean Pierre as her husband. Their cover is compromised with the same letter and the two find themselves escaping the palace and France, knowing they could very well never see each other again and must face the truth of how they truly feel for the other.

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A Lass for Christmas2589987

Lady Madeline Trent had grand plans for her future until she learned her family’s awful secret. When a fall through an icy lake lands her in the arms of a handsome Scot, her future is more unsure than ever.

Lachlan Grant, the Marquess of Brachton, may hold an English title, but he’s a Scot through and through. He’s bound and determined to marry a lass just as Scottish as he is, at least until his fate is altered one snowy night.

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