Left On St. Truth-Be-Well by Amy Lane…”F***** A” Key Lime Coconut Vegan Cupcakes with the tried and true French Lillet.

LeftonStTruthbeWellLGAmy Lane and her men…sighs…It’s like the lady goes to my brain, and into Laura’s Favorite Things folder and hunts for story ideas! Her latest, the novella Left on St. Truth-Be-Well, is just a happy little shot of awesome. It was funny, sexy, and cheeky with a subtle, but crystal clear message on what it is that really matters in life, and the importance of giving oneself permission to be happy.

I enjoyed this story a lot, for various reasons and unlike a lot of times with shorter stories I was happy with where it ended (not that I wouldn’t want a sequel!;)). So for this post I wanted to do something sweet, delicious and adorable just like this story, and what happened you ask? Well, cupcakes of course!

F***** Awesome Key Lime Coconut Vegan Cupcakes which I must say came out AMAZING! To go with these delish treats I cracked open one of my all-time favorite sweet wines, the one and only Lillet. Lillet is an aperitif wine from France that has been around for ages and well chilled (or on the rockss) is the perfect pairing with something sweet.  In terms of price this choice kind of breaks my $12 rule since a bottle of Lillet is usually around $25, BUT this is really not a “drink in one sitting” kind of bottle. Lillet is more like a small glass with dessert type of drink, and it keeps very nicely in the fridge for a few weeks. But more on wine and cupcakes later…On to the story.

Carson Saunders has just driven from Chicago to Florida on a quest to get back, Stassy, his boss’ nephew who has was last heard from there. Carson usually isn’t the guy that people would think of when you call in the “cavalry” so to speak, but his boss is kind of a scary gangster and you don’t just say no to the guy. Also there’s that thing about Carson kissing Stassy in the broom closet in the restaurant they work at, and the kid kind of freaking out…And then taking off. Ok, so he feels kind of responsible! But dammit he’s trying to make amends, and now he’s in “the middle of nowhere Florida” in a messed up hotel full of parrots in cages (and parrot shit EVERYWHERE!!!) and with the word Bates in the name!

Carson is in over his head, this Bates Parrot Hotel is a waking nightmare and he doesn’t even know where to start looking for Stassy. First things first though, after leaving his decent hotel room at the Super 8 (no way was he staying in the hellhole!!) he walks over to the FA Café gets himself some breakfast tacos and meets Dale. Dale. The guy is beautiful, funny and so friggin’ relaxed he’s like a hammock and a beer in the shade on a sunny day. Carson usually doesn’t go all mushy for guys, this happens more with the ladies, but Dale kinda blows what Carson has known about himself out of the water from the minute they meet.

Match made in heaven.

Match made in heaven.

At breakfast Carson catches a glimpse of what the things is Stassy running in some unknown direction, he gets on the case FAST and with Dale in tow, he sets to go back into the Bates Parrot Motel and figure out what’s doing…Aaaaaaand what’s doing is a DEAD GUY. Oh man…Things get complicated! Dale’s brother is in the police force, so they call him to look into the dead person and Carson finally gets a hold of Stassy. The thing is the kid has fallen in love and his boyfriend is freaking about getting blamed for killing the guy they found. They need to sort out this mess, before Stassy’s uncle kills Carson!

Meanwhile Dale is putting THE MOVES on Carson, and as skittish as he is with this stuff, he IS lonely, and Dale DOES make him shiver from the inside out just by standing there…So he lets go of his discomfort and begins something with Dale. He’s going back to Chicago in a few weeks anyway, what harm is there in letting himself enjoy something FOR ONCE? Dale lives a simple life. He’s not after some big ambitious career or looking to change the world. He has a little house, works the cafe in the mornings, works at the community center in the afternoons, and every day he goes out and surfs. He is not willing to be miserable just to live up to other’s expectations of what he ‘should have been’… Carson starts to think Dale might be on to something with this life philosophy.

And yeah there is still that pesky murder to figure out! Regardless Carson lets Dale in and he discovers that he is much a happier person than he thought he was, now that he has found someone who can make him feel like weeping and laughing at the same time just from a touch. If only his life wasn’t in Chicago…Then again…What exactly IS keeping him in there anyways?

I love when Amy Lane goes for the light, corky, funny story, they are just JOY…I mean she still managed to come up with a pretty interesting whodunit, and one of the most weirdly and disturbing subplots I’ve read in a while with the “Bird Lady”, but in the end this was a simple story of finding love. Carson knew he wasn’t as happy as he could be, and he KNEW something was missing even if he wasn’t sure what it was. When Dale came into his life, he let himself think about BETTER, even if he did require quite a bit of coaxing (a lot of which involved HOT AS HELL sex) from Dale in the process because sometimes he just needed some direction, and someone to be strong enough to tell him what he needed to do. He did it. He was strong for himself, for what he found with Dale and then he literally walked straight into his bright new day.

Perfect summer read. PERFECT. Amy Lane…You. The. Woman.

Left on St. Truth-Be-Well is available at Dreamspinner Press

Ok NOW, cupcakes! Cupcakes people! And I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but DAMN these are DELICIOUS, moist and subtly limish and coconutty…And the frosting…*whimpers* I wish I could wear it. So good.
F***** Awesome Key Lime Coconut Vegan Cupcakes

DELISH.

DELISH.

½ cup of coconut milk (not light)

½ cup and two tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Zest of one lime

2 Tablespoons of lime juice

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 ¼ cups cake flour

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup canola oil

¾ cup organic cane sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ cup flakes unsweetened coconut (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Put all ingredients in a bowl, mix until smooth but not too much or too vigorously. Fill cupcake liners halfway with the batter. Cook for 13 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center of the cupcake.
Coconut Lime Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (I use Earth Balance)

3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons of lime juice

2 Tablespoons of coconut milk

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

¼ cup flaked coconut

Beat shortening and margarine together until well combined and is light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla, coconut and lime juice, beat until fluffy. Add zest and mix. Chill until ready to use. Separately place flaked coconut on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking oil spray. Place in the oven at 375 degrees for about five minutes or until the flakes start to brown. Use toasted coconut as garnish to top cupcakes.

All I can say is ENJOY! Enjoy the book, the sweets and the wine.

 Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

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Parting Shot by Mary Calmes with New Zealand Sav Blanc and Easy and Amazing Tuna Tartare.

PartingShotLGMary Calmes’ books are a hell of a drug…Seriously, who can resist them? I mean they’re like a delicious helping of lovely  mac and cheese with a huge slice of slutty apple pie!  She’s very much one of my for sure authors.  This is the seventh book in the Matter of Time . I must admit I lost some steam with the 5th and 6th installments in the series. For me with Mary’s books it’s ALL ABOUT the powerful almost nuclear chemistry that happens with her couples. Her stories place her two men at the center of a tornado of circumstances and characters, and how they gravitate to each other is primary to pretty much anything else. Where they go, and how they get there is not as important as how they CAN’T STOP the avalanche of what they are feeling for each other. So for me her stand alone books always work better,  the momentum is intense, but contained and structured and even if the stuff that happens gets a bit crazy at times, when the ride ends I am satisfied because I get the big happy ending.  The end.

That being said I could NOT wait for this one.  I really wanted a story for Duncan (who we met in Acrobat). The love interest she came up with for my guy was a combo I could not resist! Aaron Sutter the arrogant, sort of stalker hote mogul ex of Jory’s in MoT and my Duncan the closeted cop and ex of our beloved Nathan from Acrobat…WINNER COMBO on aisle AWESOME!… Acrobat was one of my favorite books from last year and I’ve gone back to it many times. Every single time I’ve read it I have wanted to see where Duncan ended up. I have a soft spot for the characters whose hang ups and fears  make them a little self-destructive, Duncan seemed so lonely and so full of yearning to find love. I wanted him to get his man and his happily ever after badly.  Let’s shift gears and get us some booze and food before I go into the story…

For this post I had to come up with something delicious and awesome because Aaron Sutter is not a guy that would just eat anything. No sir, only the best for the billionaire, you gotta come at him with the fancy…SO! I went with one of my favorite starters and one that like Mary’s stories I just cannot stop gorging myself on once I start, the ever delicious Tuna Tartare. The recipe I came up with is light, spicy and fresh and will  WOW your dinner guests. For the wine there is nothing other than Sauvignon Blanc as an option for tartare, so I went with a New Zealand Sav Blanc that has been on my radar for the past few months. The 90+ Cellars Sauvignon Blanc  is frigging DELICIOUS, it’s $12 bucks a bottle and worth every penny. I love this brand because they have literally gone out and scouted amazing wines from top producers all over the world and put their label on them and sell them at a more affordable price (my kind of people!). The 90+ Cellars  Sav Blanc is a clean, delicious white wine, every sip is just bursting with fresh flavors. It’s the perfect combination for the spicy freshness of the tuna tartare and a fab way to cool yourself off while reading the hotness that is Duncan + Aaron.

Yummy Book, Yummy Food, Yummy Wine

Yummy Book, Yummy Food, Yummy Wine

Now the story…Mary Calmes likes to use the first person POV in her stories, and what we get is the ability to be up close and personal with her characters, what they feel, their reactions to the person they love and the world around them…One of the things I love love love is just how much I get out of the intimate scenes, they are not just carnal and hot, but they are so vivid and in your face, the possesive, rabid “I want to crawl inside of your skin and burn” kind of passion, Mary writes that like no other author in this genre. She has a pattern no doubt about it, she is an author that definitely subscribes to the idea of “if it’s working, JUST KEEP DOING IT” and that my friends is a damn good thing. With her stories I ALWAYS know what to expect. There is something to be said  for being able to sit down with a book an knowing what you’ll get. Parting Shot like many of her stories had two men who are INTENSE about each other in every way, it’s always a frenzied thing what happens between the men she writes, and I kind of love the complete irrationality that her characters have. This book was chuck full of the alpha (borderline cray cray) crack Mary delivers.  Two things surprised me though. I didn’t expect Duncan’s voice to be so naked and vulnerable ,and I certainly did not expect this book to be so much FUN!

So we meet up with Duncan Stiehl in New York City he is on an undercover assignment, it has not been long since his night with Aaron Sutter and he’s feeling like finally he might have just found the guy that will make the dreaded “coming out of the closet worth doing”. From the moment that they met it was like everything fell into place for Duncan, and finally he felt like the found someone to belong to.  Duncan has always had a lot of walls around him, and a lot of that had to do with his painful childhood. He had to be hard and closed off to survive and keep his sanity. Once he was out in the world and in police force his career just became the most important thing, but lately he was feeling like he was cheating himself of something,  happiness seemed like something that was not as improbable as he thought it had been, when he met Aaron everything just started making sense.

Things get off to a great start with them and then after a bit of a dicey situation while Duncan is undercover some external factors keep Duncan and Aaron apart for a time. They both have situations in their lives that are getting in the way of being together, but Aaron wanted Duncan in his life, in his bed, in his heart NOW NOW NOW and he ‘s not a guy to just take no for an answer. So all kinds of growly “I need you now or I’ll die” sex ensues and in the process we go on a few adventures with these guys until they arrive at their happy ending. I completely enjoyed the way things happened for them, it was just on the edge of total FUBARness but Mary kept things in check and the ride was pretty damn smooth!

What more can I say? If you are a Mary Calmes fan you know what to expect, you know what you’ll get, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Another crackified delicious shot of goodness from Ms. Calmes. I hope she keeps them coming because they are always good to the last drop!

Parting Shot is available at Dreamspinner Press

Now that you got the skinny on the reading here is the recipe for the food. I assure you that if you try this one you will not be able to stop eating, and you will blow your dinner guests away! Never has very little work paid off so much in the “making people thing you’re a gourmet chef” like with this little dish! Here it is…

Easy Spicy Tuna Tartare (Serves 4 as a starter)

Lovely Sav Blanc.

Lovely Sav Blanc.

Ingredients

  • 12  ounces of sashimi grade tuna or very fresh tuna steak
  • 1/4  cup olive oil
  • 1  teaspoon of sesame seed oil
  • 1   teaspoon grated ginger
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of two limes
  • 1/2   teaspoons wasabi powder
  • 1   tablespoon tamari sauce
  • 1  tablespoon Siracha
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼  cup minced scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions)
  • 1  teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1   ripe Hass avocado
  • ¼   cup of pickled ginger
  • 1  bag of plantain chips

Directions

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, Tamari, Siracha, grated ginger, sesame seed oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Top with the pickled ginger and some scallions. Serve on plantain chips.

Enjoy this beautiful dish with a glass of chilled wine and sit down to enjoy some melt your face off hotness like only Mary Calmes can deliver.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura