Food, Wine and Books

The winter snow blankets the ground here in Montana. I used to live in California and all my California friends are tormenting me with temperatures in the 70s, while the temperature here averages in the 20s and 30s. But, I retort, I’m not gardening (also known as fighting an ever-losing battle against weeds) all the time.  I can do other things! Like cook!

Frankly, my husband and I are foodies.  We love a good meal out and explore restaurants wherever we are. Over the years we’ve learned more about wine, so the wine list, even if it’s an inch thick, isn’t as intimidating as it used to be. Every year he buys me an issue of Cook’s Magazine for Christmas. Last year I made him suffer (?) as I tried out every recipe in the magazine. Some were keepers and we discovered a marvelous tool along the way–no boil lasagna noodles!  Good for everything from manicotti to lasagna.

This year’s issue wasn’t quite as inspiring, so he’s safe for now.

Food and wine are constant themes in my California Romance series. Readers have told me they enjoy vicariously eating along with my heroes as they court each other. While doing research for a book on Santa Cruz Mountains wineries that we did, my husband and I had amazing opportunities to get behind the scenes of winemaking and winemakers. I’ve let a little of this knowledge seep into my latest book, California Wine.  An excerpt is below. In this scene, Marcos, a man Elizabeth has met while on vacation in Italy, shows Elizabeth and her daughter his winery.

***

Marcos plunked the basket on the table and unlocked the padlock to the winery building. When he spread the door wide, cool air rushed out from the dark within. He gestured for them to follow him into the damp, sweet-smelling room. Barrels were stacked ceiling-high in the back of the room and four stainless-steel tanks lined one wall. To the left a plank spanning the tops of two wine-barrels held glasses, beakers and two hand-labeled bottles of wine.

“My humble blending table,” he said gesturing at the crude surface.

Elizabeth picked up one of the bottles of wine. Her face became more alive with interest. “What does it mean?” She gestured to the scrawled numbers on the bottle.

“Not much,” he said. Their fingers touched hers as he took the bottle from her and the flash of heat took him by surprise. “I have the date of the blend and a number that references my notes.” He pointed to a wine-stained notebook at the edge of the table, making an effort to get his thoughts back on winemaking and away from lovemaking.

“What kind of a blend is it?” she asked.

“How much do you know about winemaking?” he asked.

“I took a class at the community college. I enjoy wine, so I wanted to learn about it.”

“And?” He poured wine from the first bottle into a glass, swirled it, sniffed it, and took a sip. Faint notes of blueberry were chased by a heavier hint of tobacco. He was almost there.

He poured two more glasses and passed them to the women. Sarah took hers and wandered toward the barrels at the back of the building.

“I found winemaking fascinating,” Elizabeth said. “A lot of patience is required, isn’t it?” Her eyes peered over the rim of the glass and he became entranced by the warmth of her gaze.

His heart cracked a little more.

“Most good things require patience. You will need it when you develop your lotions. I’m sure you’ll be trying to balance aromas with the texture you need for a silky feel.” He rubbed his thumb and index finger together to demonstrate.

She turned away and he saw her shoulders square before she turned back to look at him.

“Is what’s in the other bottle just as good?” she asked, a small smile on her lips.

“We’ll have to find out, won’t we?”

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Forever & Ever, Amen

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So why write about an angel?

Because he makes a better romantic hero than a pixie. See, in the first draft of Forever & Ever, Amen, Cass was a pixie. He had a little green suit and shoes with curled up toes and everything. Then I had a couple people read it and they were like, “Great story, but a pixie? Not sexy.”

They had me on that one.

So I looked around and found an interview from the 1930s where an elderly Irish woman from New York retold a story she learned from her mother, about how there were too many angels in heaven, so God tossed some of them out. Some fell all the way to hell and some remained in heaven, and those that were in-between stayed on earth and became the fairies. That story grounded the transition from Cass the pixie to Cass the angel.

As an angel, Cass is capable of doing a lot more than a pixie ever could. Like in the following excerpt when he takes a run on the beach and gets in the cross-hairs of his best friend Aodhan, who’d rather he didn’t get involved with Molly. Check it out…

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          Cass jogged along the beach, the early morning sun striking the curls of foam that cruised closer and closer to his bare feet. He’d been dodging Aodhan Macauley since hearing his voice the day before, and deliberately created this reality for his old friend to find him. Aodhan was way too cerebral to enjoy a good run along the beach.

            “Come talk to me, my friend,” Cass called, barely sounding out of breath. Physical fitness didn’t come automatically, even for an angel. He worked hard for his muscle tone and stamina, same as everybody else.

            Up ahead, one of the huge redwoods that grew down to the dunes had been pulled over by a storm, its smaller branches long ago worn away by wind and waves, leaving only the trunk lying across the sand. Cass glanced out towards the water for a second and when he turned back, Aodhan sat on the old tree, his elbow resting on a bent knee.

            Cass slowed to a walk, breathing deep and wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. “Come run with me.”

            Aodhan huffed a laugh, his uneven smile splitting across his face. “Not today.”

            “How’s your new assignment?” Cass asked, resting one foot on the trunk and stretching out his calf. He wore only a pair of baggy shorts, and it wouldn’t take long for the salty breeze to chill his damp skin.

            “More curious about yours.”

            Cass changed feet, delaying his response ’til he’d given the other calf a good stretch. “Not as much fun as playing guardian angel.”

            “That’s not an answer.”

            “What do you want?” Cass planted both feet in the sand, fists held lightly on his hips.

Aodhan leaned back, shaking his caramel-colored hair out of his face. As usual, he needed a shave, and since the earth was new Cass had wondered why his hair was so much lighter than his beard. “Word gets around.”

            “And…”

            “You’re so close, my friend. Turn this one down.”

            Cass’s initial response would do nothing to help him earn his wings, so he swallowed it down, instead stretching his hands to the sun and leaning  right, then left, before answering. “I can’t.”

            Standing slowly, Aodhan seemed to take the same amount of care with his response. “You could. The world is full of five-year-olds who need a little angelic help to stay alive.”

            Cass met his friend’s gaze, wordlessly defending his decision. “She’s seen me already.”

            Aodhan bent and picked up a scallop shell, one of its fluted wings perfect and whole, the other broken in half. He studied it for a moment, then flung it into the waves. “I’ll be watching.”

            “Of course.” Cass put a hand on Aodhan’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”

            “Have a care,” Aodhon said, covering Cass’s hand with his own.

            Cass chuckled and stepped away. “I’ve got another mile in me. You sure you don’t want to come?”

            Aodhan just laughed. Cass took off, and when he glanced back, his friend was gone.

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To find out more about Forever & Ever, Amen you can check out the Crimson Romance page, go visit Amazon, or check out other fine e-book retailers.

Blurb:

Molly, a forty-something single mom, tangles with the wrong guy and gets a hell of a hickey. That blotch is really a demon’s mark, and she’ll have to face the three things that scare her most to get rid of it. First, Molly loses her job and then she has a near-sex experience with her philandering, not-quite-ex-husband. Worst of all, she has to sit by a hospital bed, wondering if her son is ever going to wake up.

The Powers That Be assign Cass to help her. He’s an angel who’s trying to earn a seat in the celestial choir by helping out a human in need. Vanquishing the demon would be his ticket up, but only if he plays by the rules. He’ll never earn his wings if he loses his heart to the lovely Molly. But she has even bigger things to worry about. She stands to lose her soul.

Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s a link to the folktale I mentioned. It’s from the Library of Congress, part of the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer’s Project, 1936 – 1940.

Peace,

Liv

Writing sun when snow is on the ground.

9781440557286I’m penning a short story this week.  A high school reunion set at a local (Idaho) resort, if you use the word resort very liberally. And what’s been the hardest part, is getting the feeling of the story to match the warm June morning I’m trying to evoke, rather than the chilly and gray January day I’m experiencing.

I’ve brought out the suntan lotion to remind me of summers as a teenager, laying by the pool, slathering coco butter on my very white body. Trying not to burn. The smell of coconut overwhelming anything else on my senses.

But my mind keeps going back to one Martin Luther King holiday in January where I took my nieces up to a hot springs in historic Idaho City. The unheated changing room had me questioning my fun getaway, but once we were in the pool, everything was glorious.  The snow on the hills around us made the light from the pool sparkle.  And the girls and I giggled and laughed for hours.  Best. Day. Ever.

Today, I’m pulling out the hot dogs and going for a taste of summer to open up my senses.

So other LIR’s, what have you done to get yourself in the mood to write out of season? And, no, a trip to Hawaii is probably out of the question.  At least this year.

And – check out the reviews coming in for The Bull Rider’s Manager.  5 stars from Harlequin Junkie and Love in a Book Reviews.

 

Stuck on You is almost here!

It’s less than a month way from when Stuck on You, the second in my reality TV romance trilogy releases! I can’t believe the time has come already!! It’s about that time when I gear up to do another blog tour, write guest post, and answer interview questions. It’s a busy time!

Oh, and I start panicking about whether or not readers and reviewers will like my next book.

Is it hot in here? Whew. I might be sick…

Deep breaths.

Okay. So to celebrate the upcoming release of Stuck on You, here’s the beautiful cover and blurb to get you all excited!!

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If being forced to team up with reality TV’s favorite bad girl wasn’t enough, falling for her brother might just make this reality show a real nightmare.

Paige Anderson agrees to be on a new reality show called Treasure Trekkers, a show where contestants use handheld GPS units to find hidden caches filled with prizes, with her good friend Cassidy. But when Cassidy is unable to compete, Chip Cormack, the show’s producer, steps in with a last-minute replacement to be Paige’s partner – Zoe Oliver, reality TV’s favorite bad girl.

Jack Miles (aka Miles) is a mountain climber with the body to prove it. Miles convinced his climbing partner Ben to come on the show with him for one reason – to prove to Ben that they can still hike together, regardless of the fact that Ben lost his foot in a tragic accident. Miles isn’t about to let anything get in his way of winning – not even beautiful Paige.

But when Miles and Paige are thrown into an alliance with their teammates, working closely together leads to more than just good strategy. Can Paige steal Miles’ heart while surviving Zoe long enough to win the game?

Intrigued?? You can PRE-ORDER your copy of Stuck on You from Amazon today and it will be automatically delivered to your kindle when it release on Feb 11th!! How awesome is that?! You can check it out by clicking on the link below!

STUCK ON YOU AT AMAZON

What’s in a name? Elite places of London and their modest beginnings.

What’s in a name?

Elite places of London mentioned in my historical romance novels, and their modest beginnings.

By Suzi Love 

Like many historical romance authors, many of my books are set in and around London in the late Regency era, including my historical erotic romance, The Viscount’s Pleasure House.

Historical romance authors often have characters who live in elite areas, such as Mayfair, Grosvenor Square,

English: Millennium Hotel London Mayfair, Gros...

London Mayfair, Grosvenor Square (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and Berkeley, yet all these areas had more lowly, or more dubious, beginnings. Justin, my gorgeous hero, lives in Mayfair, yet he does most of his erotic business at his Pleasure House in one of the less socially esteemed areas of London.

Mayfair, London, is one of the world’s most elite and expensive addresses. But did you know that Mayfair began as a cattle market and was named after the annual May Fair held at what is now the trendy café precinct of Shepherd Market?

Not only did all the elite areas of Mayfair have modest beginnings, but their other claim to fame was for their licentiousness, despite Queen Anne’s attempts to ban it, and became ‘The Place to Go’ for the more outrageous pleasure activities.

Grosvenor Square, London, now has one entire side taken up by the huge, and well-guarded, US embassy. These days, the square is a favorite residential location for the rich and famous. But the Grosvenor family’s selling of the land in the late 1700s so large residences could be built, put an end to the fair always held there and attended by people of all classes. Evicting the fair started the ‘gentrification’ of the area.

The London Docks were originally one of several sets of dirty and dangerous docks in the historic Port of London. Eventually, the docks were removed but the area remained derelict until the London Docklands Development Corporation bought it in 1981 and built luxury hotels, residences for the wealthy, and turned the area into a world-renowned business and  financial centre.

Marylebone, pronounced Mar-lee-bone, was named for the church of St Mary

St Marylebone Parish Church

St Marylebone Parish Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

built near a small river or stream called the Tyburn or Tybourne. Hence St Mary-le-Burn became St Marylebone. The area is still famous for the many doctors who set up rooms in Harley Street, but the area started out as a lowly medieval village which only gained fame when fashionable people began to spread further out than central London.

I’ve only spoken here about London, but similar things happened in cities all around the world.

Have you read, or written, stories set in areas that were considered seedy in past era but are now very expensive and trendy?

New York, of course, springs to mind.

Where else do you know?

The Viscount’s Pleasure House is available at Crimson Romance eBooks, Amazon, iTunes.

The Viscount's Pleasure House