Hello All! I hope that you are all having a lovely holiday this year! For my Pre-Christmas Eve post I have a special treat for you guys!! A joint post with my early reviews for Going Up! by Amy Lane and Where You Lead by Mary Calmes which will be out on Dreamspinner Press tomorrow.
Both these stories are short, easy to read and very much, a light read. I enjoyed them both immensely, for their joyful tone and sweet message. For this review I did not chose a wine pairing, since we are all getting sauced anyhow. But I do have three holiday cookie recipes that I think are the perfect thing to go with these feel good stories. I made Mary and Amy’s boys Chocolate Crinkles, Linzer and Sugar cookies.
All three recipes are delicious…But let’s get back to the good stuff. The stories.
Pete and Carver have been together for about six months now. Not TOO long, but the thing is with Carver, Pete knew he had found THE ONE, from the moment he laid eyes on him. Pete is a Special Agent for the ATF in Chicago, Carver is an art gallery owner, and artist. They live in Chicago, they are established in their careers, in their love for each other, and in pretty much every way they are set.
The thing that has yet to happen is Carver deciding to go all in with this art, spend more of his time creating. Pete wants that for him…But Carver insists he is just not ready…Imagine his surprise when on the way to visit Carver’s family in Kentucky for Christmas, Pete finds out that the next step is a lot closer than he thought. Carver apparently has to go back home to care for his ailing mother. He wants to settle there, career, life and everything, move it all to…Kentucky?! What is Pete supposed to do? Uproot his entire life? Leave his job, his friends? Can even he do that?
He can. He just needs to take a good look at what is at stake. He soon realizes that all the things are important don’t need to change because of distance. He can transfer to local ATF office, he can stay in touch with his friends. HE CAN make the move and stand by Carver. Because what really IS important is finally deciding that his life is where his partner is.
This was a very light read. Carver’s family was interesting, loving and they brought a lot of sobriety to the story. This was simple and it was sweet. It had that blinding sense of “anything is possible” that Holiday stories SHOULD have, and I enjoyed it completely.
Where You Lead will be released December 25th by Dreamspinner, and is available for pre-order here.
As soon as I saw this cover I thought “1950’s ROM COM…Doris Day and Rock Hudson...Pillow Talk (one of my all time favorite feel good movies)!!!” To my surprise I was pretty close on that one. Amy was inspired in older movies for this story, and I appreciated the hell of her take on these films.
Zach Driscoll has never really given his happiness much thought. His parents are very wealthy Bay Area socialites, and he was raised in a home without much warmth. He lives in a penthouse, works as a Union lawyer, doing his part to do away with as much of the world’s injustice as he can. But his heart, it’s a little cold. Nothing makes him take notice of the colors in the world around him.
Until the day that his express elevator breaks and stops on the 14th floor. A young man gets in all decked out in a cowboy outfit, with a big smile on his face and Zach’s world just goes a little bit askew. The man exudes fun and enjoyment, so many things Zach has never known… and he could only look with the longing of those who know EXACTLY what they are missing, but just can’t seem to grab it. So, Zach begins timing his morning outings so he can run into the man (Sean!). He makes sure he catches every new outfit Sean comes up with to charm the kids in the school he worked as a substitute (and who even does that?!). Sean has a light in his eyes, and Zach he wanted some of that sunshine in his own life.
Things evolve, and pretty soon they are chatting and Zach is bringing Sean coffee in the mornings…Things are progressing (with A LOT coaching from Zach’s assistant/BFF) but still they don’t know a whole lot about each other…Seeing each other OUTSIDE of the elevator might be a good start! Zach’s heart melts a little more everyday from the joy that being near Sean brings. Things get a bit dicey whe Sean finds out who Zach’s dad is…But it all works out, because Sean came to Zach’s life to get him out of his icy tower, and down to a world of warmth, and friends and a good life…And they lived happily ever after.
What, no crying?! No angst?…Nope! Not one bit, because it’s the holidays! Time for some cookies, spiked eggnog, and hopeful happy stories with lovely men who have delicious monkey sex.
Totally recommend this one.
Going Up! will be released on December 25th by Dreamspinner Press and is available for Pre-order here.
1 1/2 cups of butter softened
2 cups of white sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
5 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. Decorate with icing.
Icing recipe here.
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar
- In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.
2/3 cup almonds
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the work surface
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 12-ounce jar of jam (I used Sugar Plum)
- Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.
- In a food processor, process the almonds and ¼ cup of the brown sugar until the almonds are finely ground.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the almond mixture, then the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix).
- Divide the dough in half, shape into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
- Heat oven to 350° F. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to a ⅛-inch thickness. Using a 2- to 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Using a ¾- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary.
- Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
- Sprinkle the confectioners’ sugar on the cookies with the holes. Spread 1 teaspoon jam on the remaining cookies and top with the sugared cookies. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Merry Christmas everyone!!! I hope you all have a lovely time today and tomorrow with your loved ones!
Much love to you all wherever you may be!
Cheers and Happy Reading!