Blessing Debuts

Blessing

Here is the beginning of Blessing as I promised yesterday. Blessing Debuts today! Hope you enjoy it. Is this the kind of story that catches your interest?

Chapter One

Seneca Falls, New York

July 19, 1848

On the high bench of the farmer’s open wagon, Gerard Ramsay tried to take a deep breath, but the heaviness of life, a constant pressure over his heart, made it difficult–not to mention the July heat. Under the cloudless, royal blue sky, the New York countryside blazed green with healthy crops and full-leafed trees.

From the corner of his eye, Gerard observed with increasing chagrin his lifelong friend Kennan Buckley, sitting next to him and whose expression radiated a kind of unholy glee.

Kennan’s devilish sense of humor had lightened their boarding school and university years, but now that they were nearing thirty…  Gerard almost asked, “This isn’t one of your foolhardy pranks, is it?”

Then nearing a town, the rough wagon lurched over a deep rut and Gerard had to hold onto both his seat and his silk top hat. “I can’t believe you talked me into this,” Gerard growled into Kennan’s ear. “I left Boston for Saratoga for some horse racing and light flirtation at the springs–” Another deep rut jarred them. “–not this.”

“Do you want to let your own cousin down?” Kennan retorted. “And of course, I had nothing better to do than bump along a country road in this heat?”

Gerard sucked in hot July air and felt the starch in his shirt wilting in the blazing sun. “All right,” he said under his breath. “The whole idea seems inconceivable.”

“Well, conceive it. Stoddard Henry is in danger of becoming ensnared by a female–and a female who would lure him to a women’s rights meeting. Have you ever?”

“I–“

“Whoa!” The driver announced. “Here we are, gents. Wesley Chapel.” The wagon rolled to a halt. The two horses flicked their tails high, swishing away the irritating flies.

After Kennan, Gerard scrambled down from the bench, resisting the urge to rub his bruised posterior. He glanced around at the small town. He immediately recognized his destination, a large brick building on the corner surrounded by tall leafy oaks and maples, with a few hundred people gathered around the door. A few hundred standing outside in this heat and in this out of the way village? “Look. Would you believe it–a crowd?”

“What did I tell you?” Kennan said, striding away toward the building.

Gerard turned to pay the farmer. Kennan wouldn’t. But they’d been lucky to find this man and his wagon. When they’d arrived this morning on the early train from Saratoga, all the carriages at the station had been taken. They’d persuaded this farmer who’d been picking up a package to bring them the few miles here.

“Gent, I’ll be going back this way in a few days.” The farmer mopped his face with a large frayed kerchief. “Should I stop and pick you up?”

Gerard hesitated. “Is there an inn here?”

“A few. The best is the Seneca Farmer’s Inn, best food, clean sheets.”

“When you come through, check for me–Gerard Ramsay–there then. I’ll leave word whether to find me or forget me.” Gerard added an extra two bits.

The farmer beamed at him. “You can count on me, gent. I’m Jim Patterson. Everybody around here knows me.” The man tugged the brim of his straw hat, pocketed the money and slapped the reins.

Gerard hurried into the shade of the tall trees near the Wesleyan Chapel. He too took out his handkerchief and wiped the grime and perspiration from his face and hands. This crisis would have to land right at the very height and heat of summer.

A large crowd of women and–unbelievably some men–waited outside the double doors of the chapel. Something odd was going on there. Two men were lifting a boy up to a window near the door. The lad opened the latch and slipped inside. Soon to everyone’s loud approval, he opened the chapel doors from within. No one had a key to open the chapel door? What kind of ill-prepared meeting was this?

Gerard already knew the answer to that. A bunch of lunatics and radicals. He hurried forward, craning to see above the crowd, looking for his tall cousin.

“There!” Kennan shouted across the people surging inside and gestured toward the door.

Gerard glimpsed his cousin–who at the sound of Kennan’s voice–turned just as the door swallowed him from sight.

Kennan jogged back to Gerard. “So did you see her?”

“No.” Gerard felt irritation–hot and unpleasant like the summer air–roll through him.

“She’s a very pretty blonde and she was right beside him.”

Gerard chewed on this information. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Believe it.”

Gerard started forward.

Kennan grabbed his arm. “Where are you going?”

“I’m going after Stoddard.”

“Into that women’s meeting?” Kennan’s voice rose. “Are you out of your senses too?”

“Maybe he’ll come to his senses when he sees me.” Gerard pulled away and hurried toward the chapel.

“Suit yourself. And I’ll do the same. I’m going to find a tavern and some cool wet ale. Isn’t that better than charging into bedlam? Stoddard will come out at luncheon–“

Gerard shook his head as he hurried to the chapel door. At seven years of age, all three of them Kennan, Stoddard and Gerard, had been sent away to boarding school; Stoddard and Kennan had been unwanted stepsons and Gerard had felt like one. The three had learned to count only on each other. The bond still held and he must find his cousin and stop him from making a fool of himself.

Inside the chapel, Gerard tried to glimpse Stoddard but it was so crowded that he couldn’t. And since the seats were all taken, he found himself obliged to stand in the back. When a woman stepped to the pulpit to address the congregation, Gerard felt his jaw drop. A woman addressing a group of females and males–in public?

Astounded, Gerard stumbled outside toward a bench in the shade under an old oak. What had Stoddard got himself into?

“Hey! Ramsay!”

The vaguely familiar Boston-accented voice stopped Gerard in his tracks. He turned to see who had called.

“It’s been a long time,” a stranger said, holding out his hand.

Suddenly recognizing him, Gerard felt a wave of disgust. Ambushed. Conklin had been a scholarship student at the same university as Gerard, Stoddard and Kennan. He forced himself to shake the man’s hand. “Conklin, what brings you here?”

“Working.” Conklin waved a notebook. “I’m covering this Women’s Rights Convention. Have you ever heard of anything so outlandish?” The man chuckled, mocking. “What is the scion of one of Boston’s most swank (c 1810)–uh, I mean, most prestigious families doing here?”

Gerard stared at the man, trying to hide his discomfort at being recognized by a journalist. This meant Stoddard’s folly might be written up in the Boston papers. Worse and worse. “Just happened to stop here,” Gerard said, trying to smooth matters over. “I’m trying to find some place cooler. Thought of the Finger Lakes.”

“Really?” The journalist rocked on his heels, his expression amused.

“Really. Now if it’s not against the law, I’m going to sit in the shade and relax.”

Conklin studied Gerard for a moment. “Wish I could. But I have work to do.”

Fuming, Gerard watched the journalist hurry into the chapel. He could only hope that Conklin wouldn’t see Stoddard and would find more to write about than the fact that a Boston Ramsay had come to Seneca Falls on the same day that fanatics and lunatics had gathered for a big meeting, promoting the rights of women. Unbelievable.

Within him bloomed the urge to strangle Kennan for leaving him to deal with Stoddard alone. And a second urge, to throw a bucket of ice cold water into Stoddard’s face, shocked him back to his senses. Gerard would have been happier in Boston and he hated Boston.

#

In a few hours at the time for luncheon, people began to exit the chapel, and Gerard rose to watch for his cousin. Finally he saw Stoddard’s head above all the others. Gerard hurried forward. “Stoddard!” he called out.

Stoddard turned, looked startled and then pushed his way from the throng and hurried toward Gerard.

“Cousin, what are you doing here?” Stoddard gripped his shoulder, grinning but looking puzzled.

“I met Kennan in Saratoga, expecting to see you too, but  he said you were here so we came to find you.”

Stoddard’s grin tightened. “Come to save me from my own folly?”

What could he say here in this crowd? “Yes,” Gerard said, leaning close, “how could you ever think coming to a meeting like this was a good idea?”

Stoddard chuckled in reply.

Gerard glimpsed Conklin, the reporter, dodging in and out of the crowd, heading straight for them. “Cousin, there’s a Boston reporter here. Remember Conklin–“

“Stoddard,” a soft feminine voice from behind his cousin interrupted Gerard.

A truly lovely blonde, dressed in the height of fashion and almost as tall as Stoddard, claimed his cousin’s arm.

Beside her walked a petite Quakeress dressed in simple gray and white, her prettier than average face framed by a plain white bonnet. The ladies were arm in arm, but in total contrast. They looked to be from two different worlds.

Gerard snapped his mouth shut so he wouldn’t blurt out any ill-considered words. Over heads, he glimpsed that the reporter Conklin had been snagged and button-holed (c. 1834) by another attendee. Saved.

Stoddard chuckled, shaking his head at Gerard. “Ladies, may I introduce you to my cousin? This is Miss Xantippe ‘Tippy’ Foster and her friend, Mrs. Blessing Brightman, a widow, both of Cincinnati. Ladies, my cousin Gerard Ramsay of Boston.”

Gerard commanded himself enough to accept the blond’s curtsey and their proffered gloved hands in turn. “Ladies, a pleasure I’m sure,” he mouthed the social lie.

“Don’t you mean a surprise?” Xantippe laughed merrily as if he’d made a jest.

Gerard stiffened.

“Gerard Ramsay, won’t thee join us for luncheon?” the Quakeress invited, speaking in the Quaker way, dispensing with any title, even Mister. “Expecting we might meet a friend, we reserved a table for four at our inn.” Without waiting for his answer, the woman started walking briskly toward the street of shops and inns of the town.

Stoddard offered his arm to Miss Foster and nodded Gerard toward Mrs. Brightman.

Gerard could not disobey years of training in proper manners. He edged forward as efficiently as he could through the crush of the surrounding crowd.

The Quaker lady paused, letting Stoddard and the blonde precede them. Then she gazed up at Gerard with a look that he might have used when trying to decide whether a glass of milk had soured without tasting it. It unnerved him. He tried to step back but bumped against a stranger. He swallowed an unkind word.

She cocked her head, still studying him.

He’d had enough. He offered her his arm. “May I escort you, ma’am?” he said as if issuing a challenge.

“Yes, but I do not need to cling to thy arm. I am quite capable of walking unaided.”

More startled than insulted, Gerard held back a sharp reply. As audacious as she might be, a gentleman did not contradict a lady. Peering ahead, he observed the possessive way the tall blonde clung to Stoddard’s arm. He wanted to snatch up his cousin and run.

“I did not mean to be rude or uncivil,” the Quakeress continued, walking beside him. “I’m sure thee offered thy arm simply from courtesy. But after this morning’s meeting, I am afraid I see more clearly the proscribed manners between gentlemen and women as a form of bondage.”

The equation of courtesy with bondage sent prickly disbelief rippling through him. “I beg your pardon.” And with the press of the crowd though feeling bowled over, he was forced to walk faster to keep up with the other two. What would this woman say next?

She looked up at him. A mischievous smile lightened her face and he saw now that it was not just a pretty face but a beautiful face–big blue eyes, a pert nose, generous pink lips and thick chestnut hair peeping out around her close bonnet.

Her smile did something to him, something unexpected yet welcome. The heaviness he always carried lightened and he could draw breath freely. What was going on here?

“What is thy stand on abolition?” she asked, completely ignoring what should be the proscribed polite conversation between a man and woman upon first meeting. They should be discussing the weather and then move on to discreetly find out about each other’s family connections.

He stared at her. Ahead, Stoddard was chuckling at something his lady had said. The sound wrapped Gerard’s nerves tighter.

The Quakeress shook her head at him, still grinning. “Very well. I don’t mean to be impolite. I will follow propriety.” She cleared her throat. “Gerard Ramsay, what brings thee to Seneca Falls this day?”

He swallowed and tried to come up with a palatable conventional reply. He failed. “I’m against slavery,” he said instead.

“I am happy to hear that, but I asked, what thy stand on abolition is.”

He was not accustomed to women who put forth opinions and her tone though cheerful, was almost cavalier as if she were making fun of him. Usually with him, people did that to their own peril. But this Quakeress had pushed him off balance. “You are in favor of abolition?” he ventured, trying to find his feet in this discussion.

She laughed softly, the sound reminding him of the children playing. “Yes, I am in favor of abolition. Has thee ever met Frederick Douglass?”

“No,” he said, trying to keep up with her unexpected questions and her brisk pace without bumping into anyone. “Would thee like to meet Frederick Douglass?” she asked.

“Who is Frederick Douglass?” He looked down at her again, her face attracting him in spite of himself.

“Thee hasn’t read his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave? It was published three years ago and has sold over five thousand copies.”

Distracted, he wished he could overhear what the other lady was saying to his cousin. “I’ve not had the pleasure.”

“Indeed thee hasn’t read it then. It is not a pleasant book to read. It is as harsh as the slavery that bound him.”

Gerard felt as if he were back on the wagon, only riding over an even bumpier road. Primarily concerned with Stoddard’s flirtation, he scrambled to keep up with the Quakeress’s odd conversation. “He’s a fugitive slave then?”

“He is a free man of color who left the state and master that enslaved him.”

Gerard gaped at her. Ladies didn’t discuss slavery. No woman had ever spoken so frankly to him in his life. All his usual sangfroid evaporated.

“I see my direct manner has disconcerted thee. I apologize.” She smiled and said in a sweetly conversational tone, “When does thee think this hot weather will ebb?”

His mind whirled but he wouldn’t bow in defeat. “Is this Frederick Douglass attending your…convention?”

“Gerard Ramsay, thee must make up thy mind whether thee wishes me to be conventional or not. I own fault. I started by speaking frankly as I always do with people with whom I’m acquainted, not strangers like thee. But this morning’s discussion of the ‘Declaration of Sentiments for Women’ has made me overbold with thee–one who is not at all acquainted with me.”

She tilted her head like an inquisitive robin. “I apologize. Should we try to follow convention or continue with frankness?” She looked at him expectantly as she continued walking. “Please choose. I do not wish to be rude.”

He inhaled the hot humid air. Her candor irritated him and he would be cursed if he let this woman best him. “Mrs. Brightman,” he drawled, ”I must confess your conversational style is completely unparalleled in my experience.”

She laughed again, again sounding almost musical.

Was this woman being artless or artful? He glanced at the blonde again. The two women differed in costume, but did they both share this uncommon originality? Was it this uniqueness that had entrapped Stoddard?

The foursome arrived at the besieged Seneca Farmer’s Inn. Telling them to wait, Stoddard threaded his way through the crowd and then at the door turned, motioning for Ramsay to lead the ladies to join him. “They saved us our table!” He waved them forward. “Come.”

They followed a flustered-looking hostess to a table at the rear of the inn, just outside under a shade tree. She pointed out the bill of fare, posted on the outside wall near the door, and left them, promising to bring them glasses of cold spring water.

“Oh, this is so much cooler,” Miss Foster commented as Stoddard helped seat her.

Gerard was at a loss. He was a gentleman and had duties as such. He never broke any of society’s rules around ladies, no matter what he thought of them. Should he offer to help the unpredictable Mrs. Brightman sit or not?

The Quakeress peered up at him. “Which does thee choose?”

“What?”

“Should I sit with or without thy assistance?”

Her perspicacity nicked him. He swallowed down his discomfort, his tight collar constricting his throat. He could not let her get the best of him. “I would feel unmannerly if I didn’t assist you.”

“Then please help me.” She beamed at him as if this were all a game. Maybe to her it was, but Stoddard’s presence here was serious to him.

He seated her. Then he took his place and sent a tart questioning look at Stoddard.

The waitress delivered the sweating glasses of spring water and then took their orders. They all chose cold sandwiches of ham and cheese. Then the four of them were left alone.

Gerard could not think of a word to say, an unusual occurrence. And each moment he watched Stoddard and Miss Foster interact with little glances and intimate smiles upset him more and more. This did not appear to be a mere holiday flirtation with which Stoddard was diverting himself. This was different because the woman was too. Had the sense of novelty ensnared his cousin?

Blessing took her time sizing up Gerard Ramsay as he turned his attention to his cousin. Ramsay was of medium height, a good build, very expensively dressed yet without any dandyism. His dark brown hair curled slightly which gave him a boyish appeal, but his guarded dark brown eyes and cynical mouth warned her that he was not merely the proper Boston gentleman that he seemed.

She tried to detect a family resemblance between the cousins but saw none. Fairer and taller, Stoddard had red-hair and striking green eyes. He was well dressed, but not as expensively as his cousin.

She’d ruffled Gerard Ramsay with her frankness yet she hadn’t meant to be rude. But the stirring phrases discussed this morning had tilted something inside her–…He has…destroyed her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to…lead a dependent…life.

The old hurt twisted inside her, a physical pain. She drew in air and then sipped her cold spring water, quieting herself. The past had been buried. She was free now. But the deep scars remained and could never be sponged away by anyone or any words.

“So cousin, what did you think of this morning’s meeting?” Stoddard asked.

“Sitting outside, I heard only snatches,” Ramsay replied with a sour twist.

Both men spoke with the Boston accent so Blessing heard “Sittin’ outside, I hea’d only snah-tches.” She noted that just like Stoddard, Gerard dropped ‘r’s” in most words and the “g” in “ing.” She had heard this accent in other Eastern abolitionists and wondered why they didn’t like “r’s” or “ing.” Midwesterners certainly enjoyed the sounds.

“No doubt Mr. Ramsay questions your sanity, Stoddard,” Miss Foster said, grinning. “Whatever are you thinking, man,” the lady mimicked a man’s voice, “going to a women’s rights convention?”

Blessing hid her smile behind her glass. “Tippy, don’t tease Gerard Ramsay. It’s not fair. As a gentleman, he can’t contradict thee.”

Ramsay glanced at her but revealed nothing of what he was thinking.

But Blessing could guess. Did he suspect that she too had reservations about this new romance?

Tippy inhaled deeply and sat back in her chair. “I can’t tell you how invigorating this morning has been. I have never felt so liberated before, so free.”

Ramsay frowned.

“We are not being polite, Tippy,” Blessing said, not unsympathetic to the man from Boston who disapproved. “Gerard Ramsay, please tell us about thyself. I confess I am curious.”

The man shrugged. “Stodda’d is my cousin. A good friend saw my cousin near Saratoga Springs and asked me to come and enjoy the Finger Lakes region. Said it would be cooler.” He pronounced the last word, “coolah.”

“It should be cooler here,” Stoddard replied, touching his upper lip with his folded handkerchief. “After this convention, I want to spend a few days relaxin’ by the Cayuga Lake near here. Mother has been takin’ the waters at Saratoga. That is how I met Miss Foster.”

Blessing began to become familiar with the accent. It was different an had a certain appeal.

“Yes, my mother was there also drinking the waters,” Tippy said and then lifted her glass in a mock salute and took a sip.

“When Tippy read about this meeting in the newspaper, she sent me a telegram,” Blessing spoke up. “I set off immediately from Cincinnati and arrived yesterday. I wish there had been more advance notice. I barely made it in time.”

“You’re both from Cincinnati?” Ramsay asked.

“Yes, we’re longtime friends,” Tippy replied, reaching for the Quakeress’s hand. “Blessing is a very exceptional and interesting woman. I know my life would be quite flat without her.”

Blessing shook her head but accepted Tippy’s hand. “Tippy, my life would be flat without thee.” And very lonely. There were few she could trust with her secret missions.

Their food was served and luncheon ended up being brief. Soon the four of them rose to cede their table to waiting hungry convention attendees.

“Well, Gerard,” Stoddard said, saying something more like ‘Ge-ahd’ and looking mischievous, “I take it you won’t be joining us this afternoon?” Before Gerard could reply, he went on, “I have a room here at the inn and you can bunk with me tonight if you wish. Kennan too if he doesn’t mind some crowdin’ a bit.”

“Thanks, I will stay with you and tell Kennan.” Gerard turned to Blessing and Tippy. “It has been a pleasure to meet you, ladies.”

“Don’t you mean a surprise?” Tippy teased.

“Mind thy manners, Tippy,” Blessing scolded gently. Blessing offered her hand to Ramsay. “I enjoyed our conversation, Gerard Ramsay. I hope thee finds something interesting and cool to occupy thyself with today.”

Ramsay merely bowed over her hand.

The four walked through the crowded, noisy inn together and then parted at the door. Blessing resisted the urge to turn around and glance once more at Ramsay. He had gained her attention, something few men did. Maybe it was the accent; maybe something more.

She drew in the hot, thick air and pushed him from her mind. Thinking of the afternoon of spirited discussion ahead, she quickened her step on the dusty street and walked arm in arm with Tippy who laughed out loud for no reason. The two of them drew ahead of Stoddard.

“Stodda’d, may I have a private word with you?” Gerard asked, sounding a bit desperate.

“Ladies, I’ll just be a moment,” Stoddard called. “I’ll catch up with you.” He drew Gerard into the greenery around the outdoor dining area. “I’m goin’ to the meeting. It’s the most interesting, most revolutionary event I’ve ever attended. And you don’t have to stay and chaperone me. I know what I’m doing.”

Gerard steamed with aggravation. “Do you? That reporter is here. He might include our names as attendin’ this farce.”

“You’re not concerned about him mentioning your name. Just think how you’d enjoy the unpleasant jolt that would give your father. A Ramsay at a radical meeting.” Stoddard paused. “And I don’t care one whit if all Boston–indeed all Massachusetts–knows I’ve attended a women’s rights convention.”

Gerard nearly swallowed his tongue.

Stoddard laughed and shoved Gerard’s shoulder. “Go find Kennan. He’s probably somewhere getting drunk. Then stay or go back to Saratoga Springs or Boston, whichever you choose. But be happy for me, Cousin. I’ve found a woman who defies our dismal concept of womanhood and the bondage we considered marriage.”

Gerard tried to interrupt.

“And I’m not going to let Tippy or her exciting ideas slip from my grasp. I’m tired of my lonely bachelorhood and stifling Beacon Hill society. I’m moving to Cincinnati, cousin. I’m going west!”

***************************

So did that catch your interest? I always enjoy a good battle of wills! Like Tracy and Hepburn. Scarlett vs. Rhett. Do you enjoy a plot where the hero and heroine try to best one another?–Lyn

 To purchase, click cover.

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Coming Tomorrow–(Book 2 of my Quaker Brides series) Blessing

Blessing

Coming Tomorrow–(Book 2 of my Quaker Brides series) Blessing

As you know, I write both contemporary and historical Christian romance. Writing this series has been a challenge especially because of the amount of historical research I’ve had to do, or had the pleasure of doing! Here is the latest entry in this series and then the previous ones. The final book FAITH will debut next spring. Several reviewers mentioned that they bought or started reading the first book HONOR because of the heroine on the cover. Do you think Blessing’s cover is as compelling as Honor’s?

Blessing

BLURB

An impetuous love swept Blessing Brightman away from the Quaker community, into the highest ranks of Cincinnati society. But behind the glitter of ballroom and parlor, her spirit slowly eroded in an increasingly dangerous marriage. Widowed young, determined never to lose her independence again, Blessing reclaimed her faith and vowed to use her influence to fight for women’s rights and abolition.

Gerard Ramsay, scion of a wealthy Boston family, arrives in Cincinnati hoping to escape his father’s clutches with a strategy that will gain him independence. His plan is soon complicated, however, by the enchanting widow. Never before has a woman spoken as if she’s his equal—or challenged him to consider the lives of others.

In a city nearly ablaze with racial tensions quickly dividing the country, can two people worlds apart possibly find common ground?

To purchase, click here. Blessing (Quaker Brides Book 2)

First book in series HONOR

Honor

To purchase, click here. Honor (Quaker Brides Book 1)

Romantic Times Review

4.5 star rating
Honor’s devotion to her Quaker beliefs makes her anything but weak as she fights against slavery and for the new family she has so quickly inherited. Strong in faith and determined to do what is right no matter the law, she is a spirited testament to the strength a wife can offer her husband. The unfolding of their sweet romance is a joy to read, and their shared triumph over difficult pasts and a dangerous present is well deserved.Honor’s abolitionist stance leaves her disinherited from the home she loves and helpless to free her family’s slaves. Seeking sanctuary and work in the home of a distant relative, she instead finds a deaf man caring for his orphaned nephew as well as his dying mother. Samuel is determined to shut the world out as his inability to hear has made him an outcast. After he proposes to Honor, they journey to Ohio to make a new life for themselves. Her maid, Royale, and his nephew Eli?along with the dangers they face?make their marriage of convenience one of trust, hope and love. (Tyndale, September 2014, (Romantic Times)

Prequel to Quaker Brides WHERE HONOR BEGAN,

a novelette

Where Honor Began

To purchase, click here.Where Honor Began

 Blurb

How can unexpected visitors turn one’s world upside down? Honor Penworthy, a young Maryland lady, tries to keep faith with a friend amidst family turmoil.

But the stakes riIse higher when the war that seemed so faraway comes dangerously close to her and those she loves.

What a difference three days can make in one life–leaving a legacy of conflict but with honor.

I feel that these are the best books I’ve written so far. (MAYBE I THINK THAT EVERY TIME.:-) Tomorrow I will post an excerpt of BLESSING so you can let me know if it piques your interest! AND WHAT ABOUT BLESSING’S COVER–Lyn

 

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Author Jessica Keller & The Single Dad Next Door

Jessica Keller

My guest today author Jessica Keller is a fellow Midwesterner and has a new book out, The Single Dad Next Door. (Jessica is offering a book giveaway US ONLY so watch for the QUESTION BELOW. Here’s Jessica on her latest heroine:

Living in the Chicagoland area,

my husband and I often escape to the beaches along Michigan’s Great Lake’s coastline throughout the summer. Tourist towns dot the picturesque landscape, making you feel like you’ve stepped into the setting of a book. While we were visiting Saugatuck, MI, which is known as the Bed and Breakfast capitol of the world (there is one on almost every single street in that town!) I started to wonder what the life of a single woman running a B&B would be like.

born from those travels

Maggie West, the heroine in The Single Dad Next Door, was born from those travels. Maggie manages the West Oaks Inn, a B&B in the fictional town of Goose Harbor. She loves her job and loves that she has been able to hold on to her ancestral home in this small way, but she made a lot of sacrifices in order to stay tied to the house. She passed up on adventures, turned down an offer from her old boyfriend, and stayed in Goose Harbor to take care of her grandmother and mother when the rest of her friends moved away and got married. Maggie’s beginning to give up on the hope that she’ll ever get married and have a family, which has been her long held dream.

 life has passed her by

Now in her mid-thirties Maggie feels like life has passed her by and questions the choices she made along the way. She’s fought so hard to live “by the rules” and have control over all the details in her life, but all of that falls apart when her beloved West Oaks Inn is left to Kellen Ashby—a man who couldn’t care less about the history of her family home and who has made more than his share of mistakes in life. With Kellen running the inn Maggie might be out of a job and have to let go of the home she loves. If that happened, it would mean everything Maggie’s sacrificed for has been for nothing.

 a lot of loss in her life

Maggie has seen a lot of loss in her life. Her father died when she was a teen, and he was followed by her grandmother and her mother during Maggie’s twenties. Her younger sister was killed while serving in an inner city ministry and the only man Maggie’s ever dated ended up conning her out of most of her savings. Despite all of that, Maggie has a soft and caring heart. She reaches out to others and wants them to feel like they belong. That’s Maggie’s greatest strength—her ability to have a soft heart in light of the fact that her circumstances could have made her bitter.”–Jessica

Single Dad Next Door

To purchase, click here. The Single Dad Next Door (Goose Harbor)

Blurb

Love Comes Home

All Maggie West has ever wanted is a family to call her own. But her new neighbor, single dad Kellen Ashby, is definitely not the man to make that dream come true. His daughters are sweet and silly, the kind of kids Maggie used to imagine having herself. But Kellen has just inherited the inn Maggie manages—her former family home—and the two butt heads at almost every turn. He’s handsome, and clearly a devoted father, but with all the changes taking place, Maggie worries she may soon be jobless, homeless or both. At war with her emotions, Maggie will have to decide what truly matters—heart or home.

For more online:
Connect with Jessica through her Website, blogFacebook, Amazon Page, Pinterest, and on Twitter.

Very interesting strength. Reminded me when God told St. Paul that he would find his strength in his weakness (my paraphrase). Don’t forget the giveaway drawing. Here’s the QUESTION: Is there a biblical character that also showed strength not by fighting but by surviving or just loving?–Lyn

PS-Jackie T won Gail’s book and Dana won Beth Vogt’s. Congrats!

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Author Gail Gaymer Martin & A Mother and a Recipe to Love

Gail Martin

My guest today is my dear friend author Gail Gaymer Martin. Gail has a great new Love Inspired Romance and a great recipe to share! When you leave a comment, you enter the free book drawing for an autographed copy of A Mother To Love signed to you from Gail Gaymer Martin. Here’s Gail:

I like strong women in my novels, ones who have flaws and problems, but survive because they are able to sort through the mess in their lives, face how they must grow and change to succeed and then do it.

Angie stands up against

In series novels, such as A Mother To Love, first book in the Lilac Circle series, some of the of the characters you’ll meet in Book 1 will grow and change as the series continues. In the first book, Angie stands up against her matchmaking sister and mother to find the man of her dreams. Finally to get them off her back, her coworker and good friend comes to her rescue to play the man of her dreams. Rick has a young daughter whom he adores and when Angie meets her, she understands why. Angie gets involved with five-year old Carly and teaches her to bake and to plant flowers. The child is in her glory and adores Angie. And so the story goes….

One thing that you find in most of my books

is cooking and recipes. At the end of A Mother To Love, as usual, I include a recipe that Angie makes for dinner one night. It happens that this is a real recipe in our home, and we love it. It’s low-fat, easy and fast to make, and since it’s a crock-pot meal Angie can work in her home or go outside with her flowers and not worry about her dinner being late. I’ve always been a creative cook so we’ve come up with many great meals, but this one is my husband’s, an excellent cook. I’m a blessed lady.

Angie’s Crock Pot Fiesta Chicken

Serves 6

 Ingredients

6 (4 oz. Each) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 (1.5 oz.) Packet Taco Seasoning Mix
1 Cup Salsa (Mild, Medium, or Hot)
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1/4 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream

Directions
Spray crock pot with non-stick butter flavored spray. Place chicken into crock pot. Sprinkle Taco Seasoning Packet on top of chicken. Pour salsa over seasoned chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (I actually cooked mine for 11 hours). 15 minutes before serving, take chicken out of crock pot. Mix cornstarch with a little water and a little juice from crock pot. Pour mixture back into the crock pot and stir. Add sour cream and stir until smooth. Place chicken back into the crock pot and heat until everything is hot again. Eat with rice, or it’s tasty on baked potatoes. If the recipe is too large for your family, it freezes well. Enjoy and let me know if you love it.”–Gail

A Mother to Love

To purchase, click here. A Mother to Love (Love Inspired)

Blurb:

An Unexpected Family

Angie Bursten wants to find love on her own timeline. Tired of her family’s interference, coworker Rick Jameson comes to the rescue—as her pretend boyfriend. Angie starts to spend time with Rick and his adorable daughter, Carly, and what began as a hoax soon feels all too real. Betrayed by the woman he’d married, single dad Rick is slow to trust. But seeing Angie with Carly, he can’t ignore the way he feels for his beautiful coworker. And when Angie helps Rick with the toughest battle of his life—gaining full custody of his child—there’ll be no more pretending. If they can open their hearts, Rick and Angie have a real shot at happily-ever-after.

For more online:

Website: www.gailgaymermartin.com

Writing Fiction blog: www.gailgaymermartin.com/category/writingfiction

Gail’s Kitchen blog: http://bit.ly/1f7ZI5f

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gail.g.martin.3

What a great recipe, Gail. And a great thought–a strong woman is strong enough to change. On Monday, Beth K Vogt visited and talked about thinking that a decision was the wrong one and it was right instead.

SO TODAY’S QUESTION: What heroine have you read about that was able to meet a challenge and change for the better? Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a copy of A MOTHER TO LOVE!

I’ll go first: Lately I’ve read two cozy mysteries by Mindy Quigley, her heroine Lindsay was abandoned by her mother as a child when her mother went to prison. And subsequently on each occasion when her mother came into her life, Lindsay has been disappointed and let down . Now again her mother has come into her life. Can she trust her this time? If she’s wrong, she could die. So what heroine have you read lately and what change or challenge did she face?–Lyn

BTW, have you signed up yet for my newsletter (see above on right side of banner). My newest book BLESSING will come out July 1st. I’m going to giveaway one copy in a drawing of my new and active newsletter subscribers. So don’t miss this. Sign up today!–Lyn 

 

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Author Beth K Vogt & Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Beth Vogt

My guest today is author Beth K Vogt. She’s writing a wedding destination series and is offering one copy of CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE in a drawing. (US Only) So be sure to watch for the QUESTION. Here’s Beth and her heroine Vanessa:

Bride-to-be Vanessa Hollister

shows up on page one of Crazy Little Thing Called Love, the first novel in my new destination wedding series. Vanessa’s fiancé has just turned their wedding plans upside down. And Vanessa has no idea just how soon she’ll run into her ex-husband Logan, who she hasn’t seen in eight years.

Ah, Vanessa. She’s tried so hard to control her life … but love’s a crazy little thing, right? And the consequences of the past often show up when we least expect it.

One question motivated me

as I wrote Crazy Little Thing Called Love: What if what you thought was your biggest mistake was actually the right choice?  Vanessa’s given the chance to reexamine a mistake she made – but it comes at the absolute worst time.

After eloping with Logan

during high school, Vanessa can’t quite escape the echo of the words “biggest mistake you ever made.”  She’s become a paramedic and put their failed marriage behind her – or has she? Seeing Logan again, back in Florida where they met and fell in love, pulls at her emotions like a dangerous riptide. And facing an incoming Category 5 hurricane together reminds her how Logan helped her to take risks and embrace adventure.

the perfect new kid in town.

Growing up in a military family taught Vanessa how to be the perfect new kid in town. She’s good at saying hello and goodbye. In Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Vanessa’s ready to commit to a long-term relationship – but who is the right man for her? Ted or Logan?–“Beth

Crazy Little Thing Called LoveCrazy Little Thing Called Love

 

To purchase, click here. Crazy Little Thing Called Love: A Destination Wedding Novel

Blurb:
What if what you thought was your biggest mistake was actually the right choice? Wedding bells and storm clouds collide in the first novel in Beth K. Vogt’s destination wedding series that examines the power of love, and the mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle to “I do.”

I think Beth’s question will be our QUESTION:

What if what you thought was your biggest mistake was actually the right choice? Or to ask another way–Have you made a decision and changed your mind but then realized you were right in the first place? OR ANOTHER –how did you know you’d made the right choice when you said I DO?–Lyn

 For more online:
BTW, have you signed up yet for my newsletter (see above on right side of banner). My newest book BLESSING will come out July 1st. I’m going to giveaway one copy in a drawing of my new and active newsletter subscribers. So don’t miss this. Sign up today!
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Author Margaret Daley & Cornbread Salad?

Margaret Daley

My guest today is award-winning author Margaret Daley and she is going to share a recipe that I have never heard of and wouldn’t have ever thought of. See what you think!

Cornbread Salad,

a delicious recipe for the holidays or for that matter anytime.

1 recipe of cornbread

1 envelope ranch dressing mix

1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cans (16 oz. each) pinto beans (rinsed and drained)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

10 slices bacon, fried very crispy, and crumbled

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained

½ cup each of chopped red bell pepper, green bell pepper, green onions and several chopped tomatoes

Make up the cornbread, cool. Stir together salad dressing mix, sour cream and mayonnaise until blended, then set aside. Combine tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. Toss gently. Crumble ½ the cornbread into a large bowl. Top with half each of beans, tomato mixture, cheese, bacon, corn and dressing mixture. Repeat layer. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. When ready to serve, stir together.

for a Christmas open house at school

I made this recipe with my special needs class for a Christmas open house at school. Ever since then, I’ve loved this. It goes well with ham. It is also a nice salad to share with others at a party.

great to serve at Easter

Cornbread Salad with a spiral ham would be great to serve at Easter. In Security Breach, the story starts with the White House Easter Egg Roll, a huge event that occurs at the White House for years. Thousands of volunteers and children and their families attend each year from all over. The president and his wife attend along with many celebrities. The White House is open to them, and activities are set up around the inside and outside of the White House. In Security Breach the Egg Roll isn’t uneventful.”–Margaret

Security Breach

To purchase, click here. Security Breach (Capitol K-9 Unit)

Blurb

When White House tour director Selena Barrow is attacked in her office, the Capitol K-9 Unit goes on high alert. Selena’s cousin is a person of interest in a congressman’s shooting, and Selena has been collecting evidence to exonerate her. Could this be the break they’re looking for? Officer Nicholas Cole and his dog, Max, step in to safeguard Selena—and to keep an eye on the evidence. As the attacks escalate, Selena finds it increasingly difficult to keep her distance from her handsome protector. But with an unknown enemy watching Selena’s every move, Nicholas will become her confidant…and her lifeline.

Capitol K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners.

Contact with me:

Margaret Daley’s website: http://www.margaretdaley.com 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/margaretdaleybooks

Twitter: @margaretdaley

So do you think you’ll try this recipe? I think I will!

BTW, have you signed up yet for my newsletter (see above on right side of banner). My newest book BLESSING will come out July 1st. I’m going to giveaway one copy in a drawing of my new and active newsletter subscribers. So don’t miss this. Sign up today!–Lyn

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Author Katy Lee & Permanent Vacancy

Katy Lee

My guest today is Love Inspired Suspense Author Katy Lee. I had the pleasure of meeting Katy in person recently in Milwaukee at a reader and authors luncheon. So I’m glad to host her again. Here’s Katy sharing about her latest heroine.

Hello, I’m Katy Lee, and I’m here today to share about my heroine’s bravery in starting over after an abusive relationship. Right from page one the reader sees my heroine of Permanent Vacancy, Gretchen Bauer, starting a new life. Gretchen takes on the restoration of an old vacant Victorian with the plans to begin a new business venture as a bed and breakfast owner. The island she lives on is filled with people who don’t want her to succeed for various reasons, including her ex-boyfriend. Especially her ex-boyfriend. 

the many aspects of bullying and abusive relationships and the trauma

When I began writing Permanent Vacancy I wanted to show the many aspects of bullying and abusive relationships and the trauma they can instill in their victims, even make them question if they can make it on their own. For so long Gretchen believed the words the man she trusted said about and to her.

being alone is not the same thing as being

One in particular was she couldn’t make a good decision without him. He made her question every choice she made because he always found fault in her decisions. Now, on her own, Gretchen is making all the choices by herself. She’s beginning to see being alone is not the same thing as being on her own. She comes to realize her own restoration is taking place, but sometimes that doesn’t come during a time of peace, it comes in the midst of conflict where she must rise up to demonstrate her newfound power.

Thank you for having me today, Lyn.

Permanent Vacancy

To purchase, click here. Permanent Vacancy (Love Inspired Suspense)

BLURB:

When Gretchen Bauer begins renovating an old Victorian house to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast, she barely escapes several dangerous “accidents” at her home. Colm McCrae, host of the home improvement TV show helping her renovate, refuses to believe these aren’t on purpose. Could this be a harmful ploy by his boss to boost ratings? Yet with Colm’s smooth-talking Irish brogue, Gretchen wonders whether he could be involved. But with a whole town full of neighbors disgruntled about the inn bringing strangers to their shores, Gretchen has a list of more likely suspects. Now she must trust Colm if she wants to keep her new business venture from turning into a five-star death trap.

Rita nominated, Katy Lee is the author of five published novels. She likes to say she writes higher purpose stories at high speed because her suspenseful romances thrill, inspire, and satisfy the reader—from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Her Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Grave Danger, is both a RITA and Daphne Du Maurier finalist. Keep in touch with Katy at her website, www.KatyLeeBooks.com. There you will see links to Facebook and Twitter.

For Katy’s last visit to my blog, click here.

In case you don’t know, the RITA is the highest award for excellence in romance like an Oscar in film. Hope you win, Katy! QUESTION: Have you ever felt your self confidence slipping? How did you handle this?

PS From last week, Keli’s winner: Merry & Lynn’s winner: Melissa Oldaker CONGRATS!

BTW, have you signed up yet for my newsletter (see above on right side of banner). My newest book BLESSING will come out July 1st. I’m going to giveaway one copy in a drawing of my new and active newsletter subscribers. So don’t miss this. Also all new subscribers receive a copy of Old Family Recipes booklet. Sign up today!–Lyn

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Author Lynn Huggins Blackburn, Covert Justice & Scones

Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Today’s guest Lynn Huggins Blackburn is a debut author, but I like her taste in scones! I’m gluten-loving but for those of you who just can’t take it, Lynn includes a gluten free version. And her book sounds amazing. Lynn is offering a copy to one commenter. Don’t miss the QUESTION later so you will be entered into the drawing. Here’s Lynn: 

Thank you for having me, Lyn!

I hope your readers will enjoy the recipes I’m sharing today.

Blueberry scones are one of my favorite treats.

The ginormous ones from Panera have fueled a lot of my writing hours and I love experimenting at home with recipes for all varieties of scones. I’ll eat them sweet or savory and filled with just about anything—cheese, fruits, spices, or chocolate.

gluten and I aren’t good friends.

A few years ago, I realized that gluten and I aren’t good friends. I can tolerate it in small amounts, but my body runs best when I avoid it. This led me on a journey to find gluten-free versions of some of my favorite foods. Including blueberry scones.

So I’m sharing two recipes. The first is a more traditional scone recipe that you can personalize with everything from blueberries to chocolate chips. It’s a favorite in the Blackburn house. The second is a gluten-free scone made with ground cashews and arrowroot powder (both of which are easily found in most grocery stores). It bakes up into a mouth-watering pastry that will please even your pickiest guests.

While the characters in Covert Justice aren’t gluten-free,

they do enjoy a good blueberry scone. Heidi Zimmerman is the undercover FBI agent trying to protect the Harrison family from the evil plans of the Kovac crime syndicate. She loves to have a scone or a cucumber sandwich with her afternoon tea, and she shares this love with the Harrisons.  Blake Harrison’s young daughter, Maggie, loves to help bake the scones. Blake is just happy to eat them!

Covert Justice

To purchase, click here.

Blurb for Covert Justice:

AGENT UNDERCOVER

When a woman drags Blake Harrison out of his wrecked car, he knows the mysterious stranger has saved his life. But more shocking than the hit-and-run is the news that a crime cartel has infiltrated his factory. There’s a fortune to be made by tampering with the factory’s products…but only if Blake is out of the way. Undercover FBI agent Heidi Zimmerman has two goals—catch the criminals in the act, and keep Blake alive. Falling for the single dad and his adorable daughter isn’t in the plan. But everything changes when an abduction leaves Heidi face-to-face with a killer, revealing the danger that’s been hiding in plain sight all along…

Simple Scones – original recipe from AllRecipes.com, submitted by USA WEEKEND columnist Pam Anderson

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

8 Tbls unsalted butter, frozen

½ cup raisins, currants, craisins, dried blueberries, chocolate chips – be creative!

½ cup sour cream

1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. 2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater (or shred using a food processer). Use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal). Then stir in your fruits (or chocolate!).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and egg until smooth.
  4. Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into the flour mixture until large cough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball (the dough will be sticky in places and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together).
  5. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles and place them about an inch apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake until golden, about 15-17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Paleo Blueberry Scones

https://rockinglion.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/clean-eating-blueberry-scones-paleo-recipe/

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Cashews (or 1 1/3 cups ground)

¼ cup Arrowroot powder

Pinch of Salt

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 cup Fresh Blueberries

¼ cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

3 tablespoons Maple Syrup

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1 Egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F & line a 9-inch metal pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blend the cashews in a food processor until powdered.
  3. Whisk all the dry ingredients together then stir in the blueberries.
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients together then stir into the dry.
  5. Pour into the baking pan and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
  6. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, slice, and enjoy!

Adapted from PaleOMG‘s recipe for Lavender & Vanilla Bean Scones

Lynn Huggins Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, releases June 2015.

Those recipes sound great, Lynn. I love scones and all the other yummy stuff at my local coffee shop. (I live much too far from any of the chain coffee shops here in the boonies.) Anyway here’s the really hard QUESTION to answer to enter the drawing for COVERT JUSTICE: What’s your favorite local coffee shop and what’s your favorite “treat” there?

I’ll go first my favorite is Little Creek Coffee Co. They have the best!–Lyn

 

For more online:

www.lynnhugginsblackburn.com

www.facebook.com/lynnhblackburn

www.twitter.com/lynnhblackburn

www.goodreads.com/lynnhugginsblackburn

www.pinterest.com/lynnhblackburn

www.instagram.com/lynnhblackburn

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California Author Keli Gwyn & Family of Her Dreams

Keli Gwyn

It’s my pleasure to host a brand new author Keli Gwyn. Welcome, Keli. She is also offering A BOOK GIVEAWAY so be sure to leave a comment after the QUESTION below. Here’s Keli:

California Author Keli Gwyn & Family of Her Dreams

Imagine being three-years old and left on the steps of an orphanage. That’s what happened to Tess Grimsby, the heroine of my first Love Inspired Historical, Family of Her Dreams. Alone and terrified, Tess faced life with a gruff orphanage director and little hope of ever being adopted.

Fast-forward thirteen years. Tess, now sixteen, is given the opportunity to care for the children of a family traveling to California. Eager to make a life for herself, she embraces it.

The next nine years Tess is busy caring for other people’s children while longing for a family of her own. She’s forced to face the possibility that she may never be a wife and mother.

As Tess’s twenty-fifth birthday approaches, her situation takes a turn for the worse. She’s dismissed from her job. With a lackluster recommendation and precious few coins in her purse, her hopes of finding a governess position are dim. She must remain brave in spite of her dire circumstances.

Recent widower Spencer Abbott needs a housekeeper to care for his two young children and hires Tess. She’s thrust into the midst of a family in the throes of grief. Having witnessed loss repeatedly, she feels certain she can minister to them.

The job proves to be tougher than Tess thought. Tess must draw upon her inner strength—and her faith—to face each threat even when her dream of a Family of Her Dreams seems impossible.

Life for women in the West wasn’t easy. Their resilience, resourcefulness and courage are qualities I admire and seek to showcase in my stories. Tess embodies them all.

Thanks for hosting me, Lyn, and for enabling me to showcase the strength of the heroine in Family of Her Dreams.”–Keli

 

Family of Her Dreams

• • •
To purchase, click here. Family of Her Dreams (Love Inspired Historical)

BLURB:

A Family to Cherish
Headstrong Tess Grimsby loves her new job caring for the children of a recently widowed man. But she never imagined that she’d fall for her handsome employer. Yet Spencer Abbott is as caring as he is attractive, and Tess can’t help but feel for him and his family. Though, for the sake of her job, she’ll keep any emotions about her boss to herself.

Between his stationmaster responsibilities in a gold-rush town and trying to put his family back together, Spencer has his hands full. He soon finds his new hire’s kind personality warming his frosty exterior. But could he ever admit to seeing her as more than just an employee?

For more online:

Website: www.keligwyn.com
Blog: www.keligwyn.com/blog
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KeliGwynAuthor
Twitter: @KeliGwyn

QUESTION: Keli is from California. Do you think where you come from shapes who you are? Are Midwesterners really different from Southerners? What’s your take?–Lyn

PS:

Shanna Hatfield’s Winner is Kathy C and Melody’s winner is AmyC– Congrats!
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Author Shanna Hatfield & Strawberry Shortcake- YUM!

Shanna Hatfield 5x7

My guest today is author Shanna Hatfield who writes with zest! She’s going to share her summer memories and a recipe AND A GIVEAWAY! Here’s Shanna:

Thank you, Lyn, for hosting me today. Happy June to you and your readers!

release from my educational prison

Growing up, the first of June always meant school was out for the year. I always anticipated the release from my educational prison with much anxious excitement.

By the beginning of June, the first cutting of hay had filled the air around our farm with that sweet, fresh scent that make me want to fill jars with the aroma and save it for the dreary months of winter.

The first crop of strawberries

would also be ripe for the picking. One of my brothers decided to make his fortune selling strawberries to the restaurants in town. After planting what seemed like a million acres of berries (more than half an acre), he failed to take into account the frequency with which they needed picked. I was enlisted to help with this chore and spent many a summer morning carefully working my way up and down the rows of berries, filling flats with the ruby-red berries.

Mom always made jars full of strawberry freezer jam and sometimes she made strawberry rhubarb pie (my oldest brother’s favorite, not mine).

No, I held out for strawberry shortcake,

when the sweet juice from the berries would slowly sink down into the cake and vanilla ice cream would melt over the top like a smooth, milky crown. It almost made me forget how much work it was to pick all those berries. Almost.

In my new release Lacy (Pendleton Petticoats Book 5), Lacy Williams grew up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. She hasn’t had an abundance of sweets, but finds she enjoys the variety of treats. Handsome Grant Hill introduces her to when she takes a job at the telephone office across the street from his bank.

Lacy

Sweet romance blossoms between people from two very different worlds.

Eager to make her own way in the world, Lacy Williams leaves behind her family on the Umatilla Reservation and accepts a job in Pendleton at the telephone office as an operator. The work she takes in stride, but dealing with the unfamiliar, unsettling feelings stirred by the handsome banker across the street is an entirely different matter.

Grant Hill wants a wife.

However, not just any wife will do. If that were the case, he’d make an announcement at the mercantile and cause a stampede to the church. Grant wants a woman who will look beyond his material wealth and see into his heart. When he’s all but given up on the possibility that such a woman exists, he runs into the lovely Lacy Williams.

The shortcake recipe included below is easy to make and so good.

Strawberry Shortcake

¾ cup sugar

½ cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup milk

2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups flour

4-6 cups of strawberries

½ cup sugar

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour and baking powder, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together ¾ cup sugar and butter, then add egg and vanilla extract. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the bowl until batter is well blended.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan and bake until top is a light, golden brown.

Cool completely.

Wash and hull strawberries, placing them in a large bowl. Mom always used a potato masher to break them down a little. You don’t want to pulverize them, just mash them enough they get good and juicy and break into nice little pieces. Stir in ½ cup of sugar until sugar dissolves then let rest for at least 10 minutes. When ready to serve, cut slices of cake then top with strawberries and a scoop of ice cream.

Yield: approximately 8-12 servings (depending on if you’re serving dainty pieces or hungry-man slices).

Author Bio:

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen one story at a time. Her bestselling sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with realistic characters.

When she isn’t writing or consuming unhealthy amounts of chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

GIVEAWAY – For a chance to enter a drawing to win a digital Ebook copy of Lacy, please post a comment below with your favorite summer treat. Is it ice cream? A cold popsicle? S’Mores? What one summer sweet do you love?

Shanna, this reminded me of a favorite summer memory. I always picked wild strawberries in the field behind our house. My mom agreed to make her shortcake. It was a hot day and she had the oscillating fan on the kitchen counter to keep her cool. Ooops. She turned her head and the page of the cookbook turned and we ended up with waffle-shortcake. She’d started with the shortcake recipe and ended with the waffle recipe. Very strange looking shortcake!–Lyn

For more online:

To purchase:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1391485546&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/shanna-hatfield

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shannahatfield

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/shanna-hatfield/id450458896?mt=11

Shanna:

Website: http://shannahatfield.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShannaHatfield

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shannahatfield/boards/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4981400.Shanna_Hatfield

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ShannaHatfield?feature=watch

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShannaHatfield

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