Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Blitz & Giveaway - Montana Dreams by Kim Law


Montana Dreams
Kim Law
(The Wildes of Birch Bay #4)
Published by: Montlake Romance
Publication date: September 25th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Sometimes dreams change…and sometimes it takes a dream reader to make it happen.
When Jaden Wilde’s girlfriend turns down his marriage proposal just months before he receives his master’s in counseling, he’s convinced that it’s cold feet. Until he learns that her no came at the advice of a new age “dream reader.” But Arsula’s hardly the woo-woo hippie his scholarly mind imagined. She’s charming, smart, and uncannily perceptive. And before long, he’s drawn to her—despite his ongoing skepticism for how her practice works.
Arsula’s intuitions led her to Birch Bay not to guide Jaden’s girlfriend—but to guide him to his best life possible. As the odd one out in an unsupportive family, Arsula can relate to the struggle to find one’s path, and she wants to see Jaden with the woman of his dreams. Although she’s cautious of being the rebound girl, what she’s starting to feel for him is too real to ignore.
When Jaden’s own volatile family issues come to a head and his doubts are made resoundingly clear, Arsula worries she’s misread the signs. Maybe they’re all wrong for each other. Maybe he should be with his ex. She’s supported him, but if he can’t believe in her, how will they ever find out if they’re truly meant to be?
EXCERPT:
The ringing of a bell interrupted her thoughts, and when she realized it was coming from directly below the open door, she rose and crossed the room. Standing at the bottom of the stairs, with a light now shining in the stairwell, was Jaden, dressed in a pair of black slacks she hadn’t seen before—split at the knee to accommodate the cast—a white button-down shirt, and no expression on his face whatsoever.
The bell kept ringing.
“I take it you need something?” She rested her shoulder against the doorframe and shot him a sarcastic look.
“I do.”
“Is that so?” She highly doubted it. She made a show of angling her head in both directions as if checking to see that nothing looked out of place. “You don’t look to be in pain of any sort.”
He rang the bell harder, but his lack of expression didn’t change.
“Jaden,” she finally yelled out, and his hand quit moving. “I’m busy up here.” She thought about the website and had the idea to show it to him. Would that help him to see that she wasn’t just a flake?
Did she really care what he thought about her?
She did.
And for some reason, the idea of showing it to him excited her.
The bell started up again, before she could make up her mind to grab the laptop and take it down to him, and as the noise clanged louder, Jaden’s expression went from nonexistent to one of mulish intent. He clearly intended to keep ringing the blasted thing until she went down there.
“Stop ringing that bell!” Though she hadn’t heard the noise in days, he’d rung it enough the first couple of weeks to make her regret ever giving it to him. And at the moment, she regretted forgetting to take it away.
“Then come down here and see what I want,” he yelled back.
“You don’t need anything!”
The noise stopped so abruptly that she weaved in place, suddenly off balance. “But I do,” he told her, and this time his tone was sincere.


Author Bio:
As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, "The Gigantic Talking Raisin," in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and worked as a computer programmer. Now she's pursuing her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She has won the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award, has been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and has served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ramblings and Recipes, Part 6 - Life with Children


“Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain—your life will never be the same.” – Catherine Jones

As much as I wanted to stay home and cuddle this precious little angel in my arms all day, our budget wouldn’t allow it.  So after my 6 week maternity leave was up, I headed back to work and Tracy headed to the baby daycare nursery. 
Being a mommy, a wife, a worker bee, a housekeeper, a laundress, a family budgeter and a dietitian is tough.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger?  Ha!  It’s no wonder women today are so strong!  And it’s no wonder why in God’s great wisdom he chose the female of our species to bare the children.  Men wouldn’t be able to handle it.  Just see what happens in a household when everyone has the flu.  Hubby is whimpering in bed asking for soup, and wanting his temperature taken every ten minutes, your child is calmly laying on the couch watching The Skipper Chuck Show, happy he or she didn’t have to go to school, and Mom is mopping the floor, throwing in a load of laundry and taking out the trash.  We are all sick.  But Mom’s just keep on keepin’ on.

GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

·       2/3 cup sliced carrot
·       ½ cup diced onion
·       2 garlic cloves, minced
·       ½ cup green beans
·       ½ cup diced zucchini
·       1 ½ cups diced green cabbage
·       1 Tbsp tomato paste
·       3 cups fat-free broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
·       ½ tsp. dried basil
·       ¼ tsp. dried oregano
·       ¼ tsp. salt

Procedure:
Spray a large saucepan with olive oil, heat.  Sauté onion, carrot, and garlic over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add broth, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and salt; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until beans are tender.  Stir in the zucchini and heat for 3-4 minutes.  Serve hot.


Extra work pops up from time to time.  Like the time Tracy woke up in her crib and discovered how to remove her diaper so that she could feel the warm mushy poo inside.  Then she proceeded to finger paint the wall next to her crib with this new brown color, moving the painting episode to each rail of her crib before calling out to mommy to come see her masterpiece.
Watching Tracy grow up through her toddler years taught me a lot about human behavior.  Things like taking the road less traveled. You know.  Like the one with the most mud, even if there is a sidewalk nearby.  After all, a puddle is a small body of water that draws other small bodies wearing dry shoes into it.
Getting a full night’s sleep is something you give up when you become a mother.  So that Sunday morning when Tracy was 3, I was surprised to be able to actually sleep in without my little girl hopping up on my bed as soon as the sun was up, bouncing delightfully until I would drag myself out from under the covers.  That’s when the phone rang.  Squinting at the clock I saw that it was 6:45 AM.  On the phone was my next door neighbor calling to ask if I was aware that Tracy was at her house, still wearing her pajamas and hugging her stuffed bear, sitting at her kitchen table and asking for pancakes.  “Where is your mommy?” my neighbor had asked her.  “Oh, she’s still sleeping, but I got hungry”.
Trying to get to work on time was a real chore when Tracy got to that dawdling stage.  After several minutes of me trying to get the left shoe onto her left foot I would finally give up and let her wear them on the wrong feet, no matter how uncomfortable they were to her since she absolutely insisted that this was the way they were supposed to be.  Morning conversations consisted of things like, “No you can’t wear your tutu to school”, and “No I cannot pack ice cream in your lunchbox”. 
One day we were running so late that out of desperation I told her that if I was late for work one more time, I could get fired (yes, I was sometimes a bad mom and blurted out guilt ridden things I was sorry for later).  Her reaction was startling.  Her eyes grew as big as saucers and she burst into tears!  “Honey, what’s wrong?”  I said.  She looked up at me with sad red eyes, tears still streaming down her little cheeks and said “Mommy I don’t want you to burn up.”  Her only definition of “fired”.  Sigh.
It had always bothered me that Rick and I were not married in a church.  Somehow, although quite legal, the courthouse wedding didn’t have as much meaning to me.  So after five years, we decided to renew our vows at a little country church with a small but meaningful wedding.  Three-year-old Tracy was our flower girl, and the ceremony was attended by family and close friends.  The next day when Tracy went back to school, which was a rather staunch Episcopalian church nursery, she proudly announced to her teacher and classmates that her mommy and daddy got married yesterday.  Her wide-eyed teachers looked at her, then looked at me, and then looked at each other before muttering a quiet “That’s nice, dear”.  “Renewed our vows” I repeated several times before they offered a faint smile.
When Tracy was five, we had moved to Tampa.  By the time she was six, we were back on the east coast.  Only this time had relocated a bit further south to Miami.  And I was once again pregnant. 
Rick was busy setting up his new office and I was busy setting up our new home.  It was a townhouse in the Perrine area, just east of the “highway” (that’s what the locals say when referring to US1).  I took Tracy to the local public elementary school to register her for first grade, but when I couldn’t understand what her new teacher was saying to me due to her extremely heavy Hispanic accent, I politely told them thank you… but no thank you.  I couldn’t imagine how this teacher was going to teach my child to read English when my child could not understand a single word the lady was saying.  Okay, you can call me a snob if you want, but we are talking about my child’s education here.
I found a very well respected private school, and although I was told they had no more openings available in the first grade classrooms, I took Tracy by the hand, drove to the school anyway and parked myself in the office there.  I was eight months pregnant and already looked like I would pop at any moment.  Again, I was told there were no more available slots for first grade, but they would be happy to put me on a waiting list.  I leaned close to the lady, looked her straight in the eye, put my hand on my outstretched belly and told her “I can’t wait!  I need her in school NOW.  I have been having contractions for the past hour and I think my water just broke!  Please just make a space for her!  I will personally buy a desk for her if necessary!”  After a frantic phone call to the Administrator, the lady informed me that she thought she may be able to help.  Tracy was allowed to start school that same day, although her baby sister wasn’t actually born for another three weeks.
This time my husband accompanied me to the delivery room.  There was no way I was going to allow him to drop me off at the hospital and wait for a phone call letting him know when the baby was born.  If I had to be there, HE had to be there!  I believe I even threatened to handcuff myself to him at one point.
We had taken natural childbirth classes together so he was prepared to coach me.  Rick’s job in the labor room was easy.  Change the channel on the TV, get me more ice chips, remind me how to breathe.  Hee Hoo, Hee Hoo.
First time Mom’s are so concerned about breathing right, or whether or not to have an epidural, or when do they start to push.  Second time Mom’s are more concerned with whether or not they remembered to shave their legs.  When I went into labor this second time around, all I could think of is that I couldn’t go to the hospital yet because I needed a pedicure.  I hadn’t been able to see my toes for the past two months, but I knew that the moment they put my feet up in those stirrups I would be mortified!
None the less, this second time was much easier.  Jamie Anne was born within a few hours.  A perfect, sweet, adorable little girl.  This time there was no swearing, no screaming and no begging for drugs.  All was good.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Book Review - WHY NOT TONIGHT by Susan Mallery

Title:  Why Not Tonight
Author:  Susan Mallery
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Release Date:  September 18, 2018 


About the Book:
Susan Mallery welcomes you to Happily Inc, where true love isn’t just for fairy tales…

Natalie Kaleta will do anything for the artists at her gallery, including risk life, limb and the effect of humidity on her naturally curly hair. Braving a downpour to check on reclusive Ronan Mitchell, Natalie gets stranded by a mudslide at his mountain home, where the brooding glass artist reveals his playful side, sending her inconvenient crush from under-the-radar to over-the-top.

After a secret tore apart his family and made him question his sense of self, Ronan fled his hometown for Happily Inc, but the sunny small town can’t fix his damaged heart. He won’t give in to his attraction for beautiful, perpetually cheerful Natalie. She’s untouched by darkness—or so he thinks.

Natalie knows that when a heart goes through the flame, it comes out stronger. Life may not be a fairy tale, but sometimes dreams do come true. Why not this one? Why not tonight?

Buy Links: Amazon 
My Review:

As I wipe the tears away that are streaming down my cheeks, I will do my best to put in print what I am feeling in my heart. Once again, Susan Mallery delivered a heartwarming (and sometimes heart-wrenching), emotion-packed novel of love conquering all with a bit of humor sprinkled in for good measure!

I must admit that I can't seem to get enough of these characters from Fool's Gold and Happily Inc.  Although each book can actually be read as stand-alones, we learn more and more about the wonderful characters Ms. Mallery has created by reading all of the books in these series. And they are such great characters! Fully developed and fascinating. I want to pack my bags right now and move to Happily Inc. 

WHY NOT TONIGHT concentrates on Natalie and Ronan. They are both artistic and creative and yet they are so different that at first it's hard to imagine that they would ever be together. Ronan is sulky and withdrawn, pulling away from his family.  Natalie is curvy and wears glasses, but she is so upbeat, chatty and full of life, even though she has no family and is getting over being left at the alter by her previous boyfriend.  A rain storm, a mudslide and a mountain home puts the two together and even after the rain stops they find they are both much happier when together. And Ronan loves curvy ladies!

This story brings to heart the value of family, love, friendship and relationships. 

Disclosure: A complimentary copy was provided by NetGalley and the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, opinions and ratings are my own.

My Rating: 

About the Author:


Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of books about the relationships that define women's lives—romance, friendship, family. With compassion and humor, Susan keenly observes how people think and feel, in stories that take readers on an emotional journey. Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, Susan's books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, thanks to her ever growing legions of fans.

Critics, too, have heaped praise on "the new queen of romantic fiction." (Walmart) Booklist says, "Romance novels don't get much better than Mallery's expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling," and RT Book Reviews puts her "in a class by herself!"

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month, January of 1992. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool's Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Seattle with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a tattletale toy poodle. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society. Animals play a big role in her books, as well, as she believes they're an integral component to a happy life. Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

New Release Book Review - TREMORS OF THE PAST (Book 3 of The Omni Towers Series) by Jamie A. Waters




Title: Tremors of the Past (Book 3 of The Omni Towers Series)
Author: Jamie A. Waters
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Post-Apocalyptic 
Release Date: September 20, 2018

About the Book:
Sometimes searching within yourself can reveal a more painful truth…
Someone is trying to kill Kayla Rath’Varein—again.
The Omni Towers are more dangerous than ever to the self-proclaimed ruin rat. With the instability in the towers reaching a crescendo and perils lurking in every corridor, Kayla needs to find out who is responsible and stop them before they succeed in ending her life.
But when the man she loves is abducted and the lives of her former campmates are threatened, Kayla is forced to decide between launching a daring rescue attempt or protecting the lives of everyone within the towers. As her past and present collide, Kayla quickly learns that whatever path she chooses will forever change the course of her future and the fate of the Omni Towers.


Buy Links: Amazon 
Currently Free on Kindle Unlimited
My Review:

This is the one everyone has been waiting for!

Great story, fantastically crafted world and amazing characters! I was so glad to hear that even though this book concludes the main story with Kayla, it is not the end of the series! Tremors of the Past is the third book in The Omni Towers Series and I can't wait to read more. I can't remember the last time I was so totally engulfed in a book series! Jamie Waters had me holding my breath one moment, laughing at the banter between Kayla and Leo the next moment, and then wiping away the tears near the end.  It was all so good!

While Kayla is still recovering from the knife wound inflicted by Lars, she takes the security people on a wild hunt as she crawls the rafters in the towers. That's when an energy attack from a wind channeler nearly causes her to fall.  Or was it a Shadow who tried to kill her? As the culprit or culprits are hunted, it becomes clear that the Towers have been infiltrated and precautions must me made. But those precautions include holding back shipments of supplies to the camps on the surface. Then things go terribly wrong and Carl is abducted in order to lure Kayla to the surface. It works. With the help of her friends and the unwilling Brant, Kayla manages to secure the shipment of supplies for Leo's camp, break out of the Towers, and do what she must do to locate Carl. With the surprise about who Brant really is, the challenge between Alec and Lars over Kayla's bond, and the attack on the Towers, there is lots of excitement!

The ending of this book was so well done and although there was a sense of completion, it left me not wanting it to end.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series.  Highly recommended to anyone who likes paranormal romance or post-apocalyptic!


My Rating:

About the Author:
Jamie A. Waters is an award-winning, urban fantasy, science-fiction, and paranormal romance writer. Her first novel was a winner of the Readers' Favorite Award in Science-Fiction Romance and the CIPA EVVY Award in Science-Fiction. 

Jamie currently resides in Florida with two neurotic dogs who enjoy stealing socks. When she's not pursuing her passion of writing, she's usually trying to learn new and interesting random things (like how to pick locks or use the self-cleaning feature of the oven without setting off the fire alarm). In her downtime, she enjoys reading on her Kindle, playing computer games, painting, or acting as a referee between the dragons and fairies currently at war inside her closet. 

You can learn more by visiting: 

Website:  www.jamieawaters.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/booksbyjamiewaters/



Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Review - WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens

Title:  Where the Crawdads Sing
Author:  Delia Owens
Genre:  Literary Fiction, Romance, Detective
Release Date:  August 14, 2018


About the Book:
The Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

The New York Times Bestseller
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Buy Links: Amazon 

My Review:
Where the Crawdads Sing is an emotional account of the life of a young girl who has been abandoned by everyone she loved and was left to raise herself in the marshlands near a small town in coastal North Carolina in the 1960's.  

This is a beautifully written story depicting the prejudice and poverty in the south, and yet it also portrays the love and acceptance freely given by others. Young Kya had no one. Abandoned by her mother and then her siblings, and finally by her abusive father, Kya had no one to turn to until her friendship with Jumpin' and his wife Mable began. And then there was Tate. Tate understood Kya like no one else. What started as a game, with various bird feathers being left for each other on an old tree stump, led to something much more dear with Tate teaching Kya to read and finding science and biology books for her. But then, even Tate left her and once again Kya felt abandoned and lonely, with only her gulls to keep her company.

The story takes a dramatic turn when the local football hero is found dead and the sheriff seems to think Kya is responsible. 

Delia Owens created an emotional story with some remarkable characters. On top of all that, her descriptions of the marsh, the birds, and all of nature was breathtakingly beautiful and her writing was poetic. This novel will be memorable and will rank right up there amongst my favorites.

My Rating:

About the Author:
Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa—Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna. She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in Nature, The African Journal of Ecology, and International Wildlife, among many others. She currently lives in Idaho, where she continues her support for the people and wildlife of Zambia. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.

You can also connect with Delia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authordeliao...

Monday, September 17, 2018

#BookBlitz & #Giveaway - Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie


Three Mages and a Margarita
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound #1)
Publication date: September 14th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.
It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right?
I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they…offered me the job?
It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s aguild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here.
So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.

Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.
EXCERPT:
When I gazed vacantly at her, Clara visibly paled. “Tori, what’s your class?” “My class?” She pressed her hands to the bar top, eyes wide. “Your class, what is it?” “You mean at the community college? I’m taking—”
“No, your mythic class!” She shoved my card under my nose, even more frantic. “Why doesn’t your license have a mythic identification number? You’re registered, aren’t you?”
“Registered for what? Clara, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
“Oh my god.” Panic flashed in her eyes. “I don’t believe it. You’re human.”
I blinked again. Squinted. Rubbed one ear like I might have misheard. “Beg your pardon?”
Clara dropped my ID on the bar and hid her face behind her hands. “Darius is going to kill me. Why didn’t I check your ID last night? I’m an idiot.”
“Clara,” I said, alarmed and confused in equal measure. “I swear it’s a real ID. I’m twenty-one, old enough to bartend, and—”
“That’s not the problem,” she moaned. “How did you even find out about this place? I never should have—but you were perfect. You weren’t scared of anyone—not even Aaron! I thought you were some badass mythic who wanted to bartend, but you—”
“Get over yourself, Aaron.” Kai’s angry voice rose over Clara’s. “We’re not doing this your way—not again. Your plans always end in fireballs and explosions.”
Fireballs? Explosions? I glanced at them as Aaron snapped, “What’s wrong with that?” “Tori.” Clara’s panicked tone drew my attention back to her as Kai and Aaron continued to argue. “Last
night, did you see anything?”
“Huh?”
“Did you see anything … unusual?”
“Did I see anything unusual?” I repeated blankly. “Like what?”
“Say that again,” Aaron shouted furiously, “and I’ll toast your pale ass to a healthy crisp!”
His hand shot into the air—and fire burst from his fingers. The red flames danced across his skin, sparks raining down on the table. Curling his hand into a fist, he cocked his arm back, aiming for Kai.
“Aaron!” Clara shrieked. “Put your fire away!” He froze in mid-motion, his fist still blazing. “Clara? What’s wrong?”
“Put it out!” she yelled, her voice high with panic. “Now!”
He flicked his fingers open and the flames vanished. “Jeez, don’t get your panties in a twist. I wasn’t actually going to roast him.”
“Just—just shut up for once in your life, Aaron!” Clara pressed her hands to her head like she was trying to squeeze her brain. “This is already bad enough.”
“What’s bad?” He pushed back from the table and strode over, Kai and Ezra on his heels. “What’s going on?”
I didn’t move, my eyes fixed on his hand—his hand that had been engulfed in flames. Did that count as unusual?
“I screwed up,” Clara groaned, covering her face again like she couldn’t stand to see me. “I didn’t check her ID yesterday.”
Aaron slid my driver’s license off the bar top and read it. “Victoria Dawson? Your name is Victoria?” I shook off my shock to scowl at his sniggering tone. Kai plucked the card out of Aaron’s hand. “There’s no MID number.” “Is it a fake ID?” Aaron asked with amusement. “Did you hire a rogue, Clara?”
“Worse,” Clara whispered. “She’s human.”
The three guys stared at me, and I stared back without the slightest idea what the hell anyone was talking about. But more important than the incomprehensible conversation was the fact Aaron’s hand had been on fire, and I couldn’t figure out how it could possibly have been a trick.
“No way,” Aaron finally said. “What’s your class, Tori?” I pointed at his hand. “Was that real fire?” “Oh, shit,” Kai muttered.


Author Bio:
Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ramblings and Recipes, Part 5 - Early Married Life

“All marriages are happy.
It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble.” - Raymond Hull

I was only 17 when Rick and I were married.  Fresh out of high school and ready to take on the world.  OMG!  I was so naïve!  No matter how “worldly” a girl may think she is, she has no idea what married life is like at that young age.  How we made it through those first few years, I will never know.
We didn’t have a big church wedding like that in most girl’s dreams.  No, we went to the courthouse one Friday when we were both able to take off work a bit early and were married by a judge.  Only our immediate families were present and after the ceremony we went back to Rick’s parent’s house for cake.  


While we were there, my brothers and my sister sneaked over to our newly acquired apartment and sprinkled rice between the sheets of our wedding-night bed.  Little did anyone realize that by the time we got there, little bugs had infested the rice which put a definite damper on any wedding-night romance.
Our first apartment was right around the corner from my in-law’s house.  We had to borrow the money for the security deposit and we bought a sofa from the old lady downstairs for $40.  My mother-in-law gave us an old patio table and 2 chairs that served as our dining set.  We probably could have afforded more, but Rick was so totally embarrassed by my little pink flowered car, that he felt it was more urgent to buy me something a bit more presentable to drive.  I was sad to lose my little car at first but we found it a new home with the Ringling Circus in Sarasota.  It was amazing to see how many clowns they were able to fit into it!
Unlike so many women I know, I never had a problem with my mother-in-law.  She was one of the sweetest ladies I ever met.  The first time Rick brought me home with him, she immediately wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big ole hug, making me feel very welcomed. 
My mother-in-law, who her grandkids referred to as “Mom-Mom”, did tend to have strange things happen to her from time to time.  She couldn’t even buy the Sunday newspaper out of the machine in front of the drug store without turning it into an adventure.  One day she sat her purse on top of the machine because she needed one hand to open the machine door and the other hand to pull the newspaper out.  When the door snapped shut, it shut on the strap of her purse.  She tugged… but no luck.  The purse wouldn’t budge.  Frantically she looked for another 75 cents to open the door again.  No change.  She couldn’t leave her purse sit there while she walked into the drugstore to get change for fear someone would steal it while she was gone.  Finally, a man came by.  “Do you have change for a dollar”, she asked, embarrassed at the situation she had gotten herself into.
“Sorry, I don’t” he said, “but maybe I can help you.”  With that, they both began tugging at the purse strap.
A passerby saw this scene, thought the man was trying to snatch the purse from the little old lady, and called the police.  Imagine the embarrassment of my mother-in-law as the two policemen drove up and jumped out of their car to arrest the “purse-snatcher”.  This type of thing could only happen to my mother-in-law.  Bless her heart. 
This was a time of vinyl records and 8-track tapes.  We listened to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones.  Date night for us as a young married couple meant going to the drive-in movie to see Planet of the Apes or Dirty Harry and sharing a box of popcorn.  Money was tight, but somehow we managed.
Rick worked long hours trying to get his business started, with every dime he made going right back into the company.  I worked two jobs to pay the bills.  My jobs had benefits though.  With my job at the bank I was able to take a few college courses at no cost to me.  And my job at European Health Spa got me free access to the exercise equipment and the swimming pool, which was the key to keeping my sanity.  That second job had to be cut out though when I found out I was pregnant.
We managed to save up enough to buy our first home for a whopping $17,500.  It was a two bedroom, one bath little house with a nice big back yard and a screened in back porch.  We bought a gawd-awful red velvet sofa that at the time we thought was the most beautiful piece of furniture we had ever seen.  We accompanied that with a black velvet painting of a matador, or anyway I think it was a matador, which hung on the wall centered over that red velvet sofa.  When you add in the green shag carpet it all became a decorator’s nightmare.  But we loved it.
The house was on a busy street, but if we kept the windows closed the noise wasn’t too bad.  At least the noise wasn’t as bad as the first house we looked at.  I remember standing in the living room with the real estate agent, ready to sign a contract to buy the house, when this rumbling was so loud the jalousie windows rattled and dust vibrated off the walls.  Apparently there were railroad tracks bordering the back yard, just beyond the fence.  We couldn’t get out of there fast enough!
With a new home and a baby on the way we felt like we needed a dog to make our family complete.  So we adopted a German Shepard.  Shep was a sweet dog, but quite a handful.  Our big back yard soon began to look like a race track with a dirt path that encircled the large mango tree in the middle.  Shep would run around and around that tree chasing an imaginary squirrel or cat or whatever, totally destroying any actual grass in his path.  And heaven forbid if the ground was damp because every bit of that mud would cling to his big paws and end up on my floors.
Rick and I decided to have his parents over for dinner in our new home one night.  This was the first time I had prepared an entire meal for them and I was a bit nervous.  I carefully roasted a leg of lamb and had prepared a mint jelly glaze, red potatoes, carrots and baby peas.  The table was set with our best china with real linen napkins and a crisp, freshly ironed tablecloth.  I made sure the glasses didn’t have any spots and a pitcher of iced tea sat in the fridge.
Shortly after my in-laws arrived, I excused myself to the kitchen and removed this beautiful leg of lamb from the oven.  The aroma was wonderful and it was browned to perfection.  I positioned the lamb on the serving platter, surrounded by garnishes of roasted potato and carrot wedges and sprigs of parsley and left it to sit for a few minutes so that it would be easier to carve.
HERB ROASTED LAMB WITH MINT JELLY
Ingredients:
Leg of Lamb
1 tbsp crushed rosemary
1 tsp salt
7-8 fresh mint leaves, crushed
Mint jelly
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp cracked pepper
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
Procedure:
With a sharp knife, make several slits about 4 inches apart in the fatty portion of the lamb, but not near the bone end.  Insert a sliver of garlic into each slit. Combine the fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and half of the mint leaves and crush together to form a rub. Using your fingers, rub this mixture into the meat of the lamb. Roast the lamb at 350 degrees until desired doneness. Crush the remaining mint leaves and mix them with the mint jelly.  Serve the mint jelly on the side of the lamb for added flavor.
As my in-laws were being seated at the table, I went back to the kitchen to retrieve my prized leg of lamb only to find Shep standing with his front paws up on my kitchen counter, leaning forward with his tongue hungrily licking the side of the lamb, totally consumed in his ecstasy.  It was all I could do to not let out a shriek!  I shooed the dog out of the kitchen, telling him I would deal with him later.  I took the lamb over to the kitchen sink, ran a bit of water over the spot Shep had contaminated, added a bit more mint jelly glaze from the pan drippings… and served the lamb to my hungry guests, not saying a word to anyone about what had happened.  Some things are just better left unsaid.  As I looked over and noticed the dog lying on the floor licking himself, I almost barfed.  Needless to say, I wasn’t very hungry and didn’t eat much.  I blamed it on my pregnancy.
You can actually get away with a lot when you are pregnant.  People bring you food.  Chocolate.  Ice Cream.  Anything.  Get angry and snap at someone?  They look at you sympathetically and think it’s just hormones. 
Then the big day comes.  You are rushed to the hospital and they actually expect you to push something the size of a grapefruit out of an opening the size of a quarter.  I was given meds to help me relax.  All that did was remove any inhibitions I had prior to my arrival.  I didn’t care who was attaching monitors by reaching into the private parts of my body and I didn’t care who heard the expletives hurled toward my husband who wasn’t there in the delivery room, the doctor who wouldn’t hurry up and get that baby out of me, and the nurse who wouldn’t shut up and kept telling me to push.  Uncharacteristically, I called them names a drunken sailor would have blushed at.
But then there she was.  All pink with a ton of dark hair sticking straight up.  My beautiful baby girl.
And from that moment on, my life would be changed forever.
 

The Novel Lady Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon