Interview: Josh Lanyon chats about Fair Chance and Washington State Wines

Hello Again!

I have so many MANY reviews pending for you! Will have  a lot of stuff in the next couple of weeks. First up, the always amazing, Josh Lanyon has stopped by for a glass of W, and a chat about her latest release, the final novel in the All’s Fair Trilogy, Fair Chance. In this thrilling final installment we visit again with Elliot, Tucker, Rollie and of course The Sculptor. I have loved reading this series, and as much as I hate to say goodbye, this novel was a very satisfying end to it. The mystery was top notch, and Elliot and Tucker were fantastic.

Before I go to the interview, of course have to talk about what wine you should be looking for to pair with this delicious book. I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend from Washington State winemakers Charles & Charles. These wines are produced in the Columbia Valley, and I have yet to have a bad bottle, they are also very affordable, this bottle goes for a bout $11.99, to total deal. The wine is bold, spicy and highly drinkable, if you find it, get more than one bottle!

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So, back to the book. If you have been in the gay romance game for any amount of time, you almost certainly have read Josh Lanyon, and know that when it comes to mysteries, she sets the standard. Fair Chance completely lives up to that. I loved this story, because even three books in, she managed to build on the arc of the past two novels, and delivered a fresh mystery, as well as whole new point of view in our heroes’ love story. As always dialogue and characters were on point, and all in all, I wish we could have Elliot and Tucker coming back to us forever.

I had some questions for Josh on the book, and of course on wines…She was kind enough to oblige, SO without further ado, here is my Happy Hour Chat with Ms. Lanyon:

TTB: Josh! Thanks for visiting and welcome. So, they’ll be back right?

JS: Maybe in a coda. But the story of Elliot and Tucker is now complete. 😊

TTB: May I ask why you decided to stick with Corian throughout the series? There was certainly enough there to keep us very interested, but it is not your usual approach.

JS: All’s Fair is the first deliberate, conscious trilogy I’ve written. Up until now it’s either been sequels or full on series. The demands of a trilogy are a little different, in that there has to be a clean, tight storyline connecting all three books. It’s a short, intense journey from book I through book III—with compact, structured character and plot arcs.

You’ll see something similar happen in the Art of Murder trilogy, though I don’t want to give too much away. 😉

TTB: Other than Tucker and Elliot, of course, my favorite character in the series was Rollie. Who was your favorite character to write in the series?

JS: It’s hard not to love Rollie in these days of anti-intellectualism and the rise of the alt-right. He’s a difficult and complicated character—probably the most complex character in the trilogy. He’s got such an interesting history—possibly the most interesting history of any supporting cast member I’ve written. I love that readers are really split when it comes to Elliot’s pop. He rubs some people the wrong way, but that’s not a bad thing when you’re hoping to create a memorable character. 😉

TTB: Now as you know other than the books, this blog is about food and wine. For this story I had thought of doing a cocktail but then found a bottle of my favorite Washington State winery Charles & Charles and decided to go with that. Do you have any favorite Washington made wines?

JS: I am astonished to find that I don’t seem to be familiar with any Washington wines. Oregon, yes. But as I was studying wine lists for Washington (because, yes, I’m also a wine geek) I saw two I would love to try based on label alone. 😊

Long Shadows Poet’s Leap Riesling Columbia Valley 2008 and Sleight of Hand Cellars The Archimage Walla Walla Valley 2007. Granted these are both getting a bit long in the tooth now, but still.

TTB: One last question, so we learned what Tucker’s favorite meal was in this story, can you tell me what would be Elliot’s favorite thing to come home to after a hard day at work?

JS: For Elliot it would not be so much what he ate as what he cooked. He’s got a healthy appetite, and he loves pizza and seafood, but he’s not someone who gives a lot of thought to his meals. He does find it relaxing to cook, and particularly to cook for Tucker.

 

That is all for today folks, thanks again to Josh for the interview and insight into the series. If you have not read this series yet, please do, you will not regret it.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Books of 2016 and Holiday Cookies!

I hope everyone has been having a lovely holiday season this past week. I have been busy hosting lovely friends and family who have made the trip to New York for a visit with us, as well as working and other “leading a life” related activities. I have also caught a bit of a cold, but I WAS able to do some baking before the holiday crud set in. As promised I have a list of of my favorite books of 2016, as well as a couple of recipes of holiday cookies I love to make this time of year.

The cookies I chose are Chocolate Crinkles and a Shortbread recipe. The crinkles are delish, like eating the edge of the brownie pan, and the shortbread recipe is incredibly delicious and versatile. You can make take the basic dough and add all kinds of fun ingredients. I made two different kinds for this post, lemon poppy seed and dried cherry with dark chocolate chips. SO GOOD!!

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Now, back to the books, for convenience sake, I’ve listed the books in the order they came out this year, from the earliest to the latest, some had made it on the blog already. So here they are, my favorite romance reads of 2016:

26157385The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon: What can I say that has not already been said about a Lanyon Mystery? The dialogue is superb, the mystery will keep you guessing, and the heroes will make you swoon. This mystery in particular had it’s fair share of heart stopping moments, and there were scenes so vivid and fast paced throughout I was a bit breathless the whole time. Loved it.

 

28121630-1Scoring Chances Series by Avon Gale:  This series caught my eye early this year and it quickly became a favorite. I love the easy stories and strong writing. I have read every book in the series, and can say that each one has been better then the last. The game of hockey is star for sure in these novels, and I think the books are the better for it. The author clearly has a passion for the games and her enthusiasm infuses the stories by giving us heroes with a whole lot of heart.

22714914-1Catch a Tiger by the Tail  and Smoke and Mirrors by Charlie Cochet: The only way one would be a gay romance reader and not heard of the THIRDS series at this point, would be if one were doing so under a large rock, even then, I’d be surprised! The THIRDS universe has an enormous following, and every bit of hype is unequivocally very well deserved. The world Charlie Cochet has created is outstanding. Getting lost with these characters, and their stories is a delight, the books just get better and better. Smoke and Mirrors the 7th book,  and latest in the series, was probably the most emotional so far for me. One of the best books of the year, full stop.

25893424A Gentleman’s Position By KJ Charles: If I could, I’d  write a love poem to this book, I love it so. I’ve read it like a half a dozen times, and it is just as good each time. I absolutely love the way KJ Charles set this book and the nuance with which she put forth some incredibly deep thoughts on privilege, obligation and a man’s place in the world. On what it really means to ‘have it all’. Throughout this series, she explores socio-economic disparities and injustices with such a clear eye and razor sharp tongue, I almost feel sorry for those poor saps out there who think they are too clever to read romance…Almost.

32106624-1Risk Everything on It  and Take a Chance on It by K.A. Mitchell: The last book in this trilogy was a heart breaker, just like it promised to be. It lived up to the angst I expected, and it also delivered some of the most tender storytelling I’ve read in this genre. Only one with some serious skill could walk us through a love story forged in the midst of cancer treatment, and give us everything we need to get an utterly satisfying romance. KA Mitchell has those skills, and then some.

12000020-1Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: This book was released awhile ago, but I only got around to it this year. It is a beautiful coming of age story, I loved it so much. I think pretty much everyone should read this book.

 

 

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Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk: This new series by Jordan L Hawk, who is a total master at the paranormal, is pretty clever. A paranormal police force in 1800s New York City, animal shifters of every kind. This first book was entertaining and the love story was solid. Looking forward to more from this universe.

 

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First and First (Five Boroughs Series #3) by Santino Hassell: I got on the Santino Hassell train a bit late, and did not pick up this series until this year. I am glad I did, this series is set and written with the kind of grit only a born and bred New Yorker can muster up. The vernacular is on point, the portrayal of Afro-Caribbean New Yorkers is done superbly, the love stories are raw and hard fought. For an adopted New Yorker like me, this series can’t get any better. I look forward to Staten Island and the Bronx.

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Overexposed (In Focus #4) by Megan Erickson: This is the last book in the ‘In Focus’ series. Each book is set around a trip, road trip, cruise and in this case walking the Appalachian Trail. One of our heroes is grieving, the other is struggling to readjust to civilian life.The second theme in particular I think this author does very well. Trauma is not easy to write into a character, and I thought she did both her heroes and their pain justice.  I loved this book, thought it was the best of the series and strongly recommend it.

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Out of Nowhere and Where We Left Off by Roan Parrish: This another author/series with which I’ve descended deeply into the waters of fervency. Will and Leo’s story in particular is as much a coming of age story as it is a romance. The author does this with such a gentle hand, that we feel like we are spreading our wings alongside Leo. There is heartbreak in this story, but loves wins out gloriously.

 

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Pansies by Alexis Hall: This book is as sweet as the cover and the title suggest. Alexis Hall is a known and respected name in this genre, and for good reason. This book was wonderful.

 

 

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Bitter Legacy by Dal Mclean: I wrote a review on this book a couple of weeks ago, so I won’t go too much in things here, other than to say, if you have not read it, please do.

 

 

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Summer Lessons by Amy Lane: This might be one of my favorite Amy Lane series. I absolutely loved the previous story Winter Ball, and this one was just as sweet. Pure Amy Lane goodness.

 

 

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So This is Christmas by Josh Lanyon:  To begin and  end the year with Josh Lanyon, if only every one could be this magical! For those of us who have been reading this genre for awhile, this novella out today, is a bona fide Christmas Miracle. What can I even say? I stayed up ALL NIGHT reading it, and it was well worth the wait and the sleep depravation. Jake and Adrien again, happy and in love, it was like visiting with beloved old friends, you know the ones right? You can just pick up with them, like you were  together yesterday. *happiest of sighs*

Now after all these amazing books, let’s move one to the cookies you can bake to enjoy them with!

Lemon Poppy Seed and Cherry Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 sticks  unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup  confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon  vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

Before you start with the though prepare your flavors for the two varieties. For the lemon poppy seed,  zest two lemons and 1/4 cup of poppy seeds. For the cherry dark chocolate, chop up finely half a cup of dry cherries (I used dried bing cherries from Trader Joe’s) and a half a cup of dark mini chocolate chips.

Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla or almond, followed by the salt and any dried fruits, zest, nuts or seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s okay just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula.

Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

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3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. While the oven is preheating, roll cookie logs in any coatings of your choice. Then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/3 inch (10 mm) thick. (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature, or in the freezer for a month. Unbaked logs can be frozen for longer.

Chocolate Crinkles

Adapted from Simply Recipes 

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Beat together cocoa powder, white sugar, vegetable oil in the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beat by hand with a wooden spoon) beat together the cocoa powder, white sugar, and vegetable oil until it comes together into a shiny, gritty, black dough of sorts.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder if using.

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Mix into the chocolate mixture on low speed until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill the dough for four hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the confectioner’s sugar in a wide bowl.

Using a rounded teaspoon get clumps of the chilled dough and roll them into 1-inch (2.5 cm) sized balls using your hands.

Roll the balls in the confectioner’s sugar and place on the cookie sheets (you should be able to get 12-16 on each sheet).

Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool a minute or two on the sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

I hope that you’ve gotten a couple of books to look for from this list and that you give the cookies a try, they are YUMMY!

This is my last post for the year, hopefully 2017 will ring in with great books to read. Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laurax

 

My Comfort Reads from 2016 and the Ultimate Winter Couscous…C-O-Z-Y

Hello folks! Now that I decided to bring back the blog, I figure go big or go home right?! Over the weekend we had terrible weather here in the NYC ‘burbs, lots of snow, then rain, then slush…Indoors weather, just begging for a cozy fire, some yummy hearty food and a comfort read. Then it occurred to me, why not post my comfort reads of the year?! So I came up with a list of books  I’ve read over and over again in 2016, the stories never seem to get old, they just make me feel happy. Given the state of things this year, things that bring us joy are not to be overlooked.

To go with this list I picked a recipe that I LOVE to make in the cold weather, it makes me feel well fed, warm and happy. It’s the Ultimate Winter Couscous which appears in one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, Plenty by Yotam Ottlolenghi. This couscous is aromatic, earthy, delicious and very filling, also the leftovers are dynamite.  The wine I paired it with is the Sauvignon Blanc by Archer Roose. It IS a boxed wine, but honestly it’s delicious, I buy it all the time. It’s pretty much always in my kitchen.  They also have a Cabernet that would go great with this dish as well, and the best part is the price, under $25 for a box with four bottles. You can’t beat that on a snow day!

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Ok, so let’s talk books, the order of the books relates to how re-readable and happiness inducing, I’ve found them (it’s important to note, I’ve read each of these multiple times, so they are all awesome!).

25893424A Gentleman’s Position (Society of Gentlemen Series #3) by KJ Charles. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this series. This book specifically, is like a warm blanket for me. There is such a beautiful intersection of historical romance with a deeply thoughtful look at social injustice, and the chains, visible and invisible, men make for themselves in every one of these books. I’ve said it once, twice, many, many times, in historical romance, for me, KJ Charles is second to none. If you have not read this series, please do, you will not regret it. Also if you have read them and loved them, a new Christmas Coda is out and it is AMAZING, we get an update from all our gentlemen, and a particularly scorching visit with Silas and Dominic from book two. You can get it by subscribing to the author’s newsletter!

28168696Risk Everything on It by K.A. Mitchell What is a list of favorites worth if KA Mitchell isn’t in it? K.A.’s writing is always safe bet for me, and this book specifically just hit all the right notes. I’ve read this one a few times this year, and like everything she writes,the erotica is searing. Moreover, with this one, as the title suggests, she takes risks. She has two men with complicated lives at a time in life when making changes can come at too high a cost, is it worth the risk? Of course it is! This is one of my favorites KA’s books, and that in itself is  telling.

29361143Power Play (Scoring Chances Series #3) by Avon Gale: This series is built around a set of American minor league hockey teams and it is DELICIOUS. This book particularly, I have read  like half a dozen times since it came out, as a matter of fact I read over this past weekend. I just love it. Love the romance, love the characters, the series, and the way the author blends in the game as well.

 

 

28549365-1Out of Nowhere (Middle of Somewhere Series #2) by Roan Parrish I don’t know what it is about Roan Parrish’s writing that works so well for me. Not that there aren’t obvious reasons, like the fact she writes with amazing style and so genuinely. Her love stories are earnest, in ways that really affect me. I relate to her characters so deeply, they feel like kindred spirits. Out of Nowhere specially has such a perfect balance of angst and hope, I find myself utterly disarmed by Rafe and Colin. I can’t express my respect for this author enough… She goes fully in with issues like mass incarceration and racial injustice, in a romance novel!  Read this one, but first read #1 and then after that #3.

27797842Us (Him #2) by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy: I don’t know what it is about me and hockey this year, but whatever it is, IT IS WORKING. Another series, and both books are just adorable. This second one brought the angst up a few notches, and it made it that much better for me! Also the best friend/neighbor/teammate character had me cackling away for the whole of the  book. These books are so fun and sweet.

 

 

30415154Fast Connection (Cyberlove #2) by Megan Ericksson and Santino Hassell: I would like to say the nuclear level of hotness that is this book is not a major reason why I’ve read it like five times, but I’d be LYING. In two words this book is, fun and hot…It is utterly readable, Luke and Dominic are a happy place for me. But I don’t want to sell it short, they delve into issues like the difficulties of veterans trying to re-enter civilian society after their service, among other things. This is not just fluffy sexy times.

Just because I can, I have two Bonus Picks, just because I am already here and listing stuff, so I thought I’d add two of my PERENNIAL, ALL TIME, READ THEM SO MUCH I KNOW SOME PARTS BY HEART comfort reads.

  1. The Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon audiobooks…This series however you consume it, is life changing. The audios however, are to another level, they are utter perfection. I even got my husband to listen to them on a road trip a few years ago! This is perfect to listen during the holidays, I’ve done it for like the past three years. So good.
  2. The Enlightenment Series by Joanna Chambers. Other than KJ Charles, Joanna  is by far my favorite historical author in the genre. This series is set PERFECTLY in early 19th century Scotland. Again an author that does not shy away from accurately portraying injustices, and getting at some pretty hard issues, like domestic violence and the shameful part of Scottish history knows as the “highland clearances”. Also the love story is EPIC.

Now that we have some books to read, let’s talk food!

Ultimate Winter Couscous

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 8 shallots, peeled
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise/or anise seeds (½ teaspoon)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 2 cups pumpkin and butternut squash cut into ½ inch chunks
  • 1 14oz can chickpeas
  • 1 cup chickpeas liquid and/or water
  • 1 cup couscous
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 1 ¼ cup boiling vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter, broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • ¼ cup preserved lemon skin, finely chopped/or zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp cilantro leaves
  • salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425F. Put carrots, parsnips and shallots in a large baking dish (9×13) Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise or anise seeds, bay leaves, 4 tablespoons of the oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and all the other spices and mix well. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

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Add the pumpkin, stir and return to the oven. Continue cooking for about 35 minutes, by which time the vegetables should have softened while retaining a bite. Now add the dried apricots and the chickpeas with their cooking liquid and/or water. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until hot.

About 15 minutes before the vegetables are ready, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the saffron and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the boiling stock over the couscous. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave for about 10 minutes. Then add the butter and fluff up the couscous with a fork until the butter melts in. Cover again and leave somewhere warm.

To serve, spoon couscous into a deep plate or bowl. Stir the harissa and preserved lemon or zest into the vegetables; taste and add salt if needed. Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the couscous. Finish with plenty of cilantro leaves.

I hope that you try some of these books if you have not read them already and give the recipe a go. They will hep keep you warm in the coming cold winter nights.

So, now that you know MY favorites…Share YOUR favorite comfort reads and winter recipes with me!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laurax

 

 

 

Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon…Spicy Carrot and Yams Soup and an amazing Spanish Rosé.

stranger on the shoreJosh Lanyon inspired is truly a thing to behold. This book had such an amazing feel to it, it was like Josh went right into The Great Gatsby, took a stroll in there, and sat down with that mojo to write a book. As far as crime mysteries go, this was first rate. I was in on it enough that I had a sense of where I was going, but never giving me too much, so the payoff was still fantastic when the whole thing crescendoed. Then there was the romance, Pierce and Griff, were beautiful together. Pierce icy and powerful, with all that hurt inside, and Griff so fragile and so brave. I fell in love. Completely in love with this book. There was something about the writing in this one, may have been the conjuring of F. Scott (who is one of my most favorite authors) or maybe it was just that some stories are charmed. I don’t know what it was, but this one, it’s going to stick around my head for awhile.

That Josh Lanyon can write a fantastic mystery novel is not really up for debate, as this is a established fact. But what he does with this type of novel that really elevates the experience for me, is that he is not afraid to be whimsical and poetic. He’ll open up a story by summoning up Fitzgerald and building on that mood to give us something lyrical and haunting.  He is not afraid of the dramatic, his brand, it’s that mix of sweeping romance and gritty noir that always, ALWAYS satisfies.

For this story I wanted to do both wine and food. Josh is amazing  with the food descriptions in his books, and as a lover of good food and good drink I always appreciate his efforts. The Farm to Table movement was mentioned in the book a few times, so I decided to make a soup which I make quite often in the Spring. It’s a Curried Carrot and Yams Soup which has all fresh ingredients and just tastes like sunshine.

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This soup has a lot of flavor, so it needs a wine that can stand up to it, but not so heavy it overshadows it. I found a Spanish Rosé that was PERFECT. The grape is a Prieto Picudo variety that has a bit of spice and aphoto 1 (7) whole lot of body. The 2012 Tombu Rosé from Castilla y Leon in Spain is a lovely find for this summer and for $7 a bottle a total keeper!

Now back the story. Griffin Hadley has landed the biggest break of his very short journalistic career. Somehow he’s convinced Jarrett Arlington one of the wealthiest men in America to let him try, and write a book about the disappearance of his grandson Brian, who was taken from the family’s Long Island estate 20 years earlier. Griffin has always been intrigued with that case and with that family. He’s always had a fascination with The Great Gatsby, and the mysticism behind those old money American families who seemed to exist to look beautiful to the public, but somehow always had incredibly tragic existences.

As soon as Griff walks into Winden House for his week of research on Brian’s disappearance he realizes that this family, truly is like another species. They live in such a different world from his. No one seems to DO anything, no real jobs or purpose. It’s like they live in a bubble, and then there is their henchman aka family lawyer, Pierce Mather. The guy has it out for Griffin from the word go, and seems to be set on making him quit writing the book. Griffin is not giving up easily and Jarrett does seem to have his back, so despite the less than warm reception from the others involved he gets to work.

The more Griff uncovers about the family and what happened the night of Brian’s disappearance, the more he is convinced that the going theory is not what really happened. Things just don’t add up. What’s more, strange things are going on, it looks like someone REALLY doesn’t want him to write this book.  It’s a strange experience he is having in this place, and with every passing minute is more compelled to figure out exactly what happened to Brian. Then there’s Pierce. The man makes Griffin weak in the knees, he is so strong and fierce. All Griff wants to do is get closer to him. Getting involved with the man IS NOT smart, but damn if he can help himself.

This book is Josh Lanyon at his best, delicious and twisty mystery, beautiful writing, and the men. THE MEN. Pierce and Griff are going straight to my favorites list, the way the unraveled for each other, and just let down walls was so so lovely. There was something between the two of them that could not be ignored or put off, what drew them to each other was stronger then circumstances, it was fate.

Completely recommend. Everything about this book classic Lanyon goodness, and all I can say is, if you haven’t started reading it, you should remedy that right now.

Stranger on the Shore is available for purchase here.

Curried Carrot and Yam Soup

Makes 6 main course-sized servings
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large red onion, diced
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic minced
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 1/ tablespoons of sweet curry powder (I used Penzeys)
1 1/2 pounds (about 2 bunches) carrots, peeled and chopped (4 cups)
2 cups of peeled cubed yams
1 cup of almond milk unsweetened
1 teaspoon salt and pepper more to taste
2 1/2 cups of coconut water mixed with 1/4 cup of pineapple juice
juice of 1 lime, to taste
 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, and a bit for garnish
Directions:
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Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, peppers and curry powder and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and peppers are tender, 10-15 minutes.
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Add the carrots, yams, salt and coconut water/juice mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, put in the cilantro then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are very tender, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add almond milk.  Cool the soup slightly, then puree smooth with an immersion blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor).
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Add lime juice to taste and more salt and pepper if needed. Serve soup with crusty bread and some slices of avocado. The soup keeps well, refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
Hope that you enjoy the book, food and wine. All three are absolute winner and surely will be enjoyed again in my home over the summer.
Cheers and Happy Reading,
Laura

A chat with Josh Lanyon about Adrien English on AUDIO, and our mutual love of California House Wines!

Anyone who knows me in the M/M Romance fans community knows that the Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon hold a most special place in my heart. I have waxed long…and even longer about all the ways I think Josh is a genius, and on how I think  of Jake and Adrien as real people. Jake and Adrien’s romance is one of the iconic love stories in this genre, that’s a fact, but I never give them enough credit for the incredibly good mystery novels they are as well. Recently revisiting the stories on audio really brought that back for me. I must admit I had forgotten in the four years since I first read the series just how much fun those mysteries were to read.

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I had been considering getting the books on audio after hearing GREAT things about it for awhile. But actually who finally convinced me to get them was the lovely Z.A. Maxfield who was listening to the The Hell You Say in her car, during a day she and I spent together in Newport Beach last December. A couple weeks after I saw ZAM, I was getting ready for a road trip through  the Southwest with my husband and child, and I purchased the first three books in the series from Audible.com.  Man, was that the right call! My husband and I drove across a good chunk of Arizona and New Mexico completely immersed in Adrien’s sleuthing adventures. My husband who has watched me fall deeply in love with this genre in the past four years with mostly amused bemusement, was as surprised as I was to find himself waiting anxiously to hear the next chapter, and what those boys were up to.  As for me, who had read the series, and cherished that experience as one of the most emotional and wonderful I’ve ever had as a reader,  it was like learning the story again.

dangerous thingI had forgotten the involved and complex mysteries Jake and Adrien solved together. I had forgotten just how much heartbreak and anguish I lived through with those two men. They broke my heart just like the first time, and I wanted their happily ever after so bad I could taste it. Just as amazing, but different, and in some ways better, because the voices the narrator, Chris Patton, gave to the books were nothing short of masterful. He told the story in a way that made me feel completely connected to Jake and Adrien, the emotion, the humor, the anger, everything sounded so genuine. I got caught up in his voice, and the story like I was new to it all.

One of the best parts of listening to the books was remembering little details that I loved the first time around, but had forgotten about. Like for example, Adrien’s appreciation for a good California House Wine. Who said that just because a wine bottle is mass produced it can’t be enjoyable?! Adrien was never too good to order himself a glass of whatever, if the moment called for it, a kindred spirit indeed. In light of that, for this post I chose two California wines that are cheap, tasty and likely to show up on a restaurant chain menu…If they do, order with confidence, because the Sterling Vintners Collection 2012 Pinot Grigio and the Ravenswood 2012 Petit Sirah are  delicious and affordable. The Petit Sirah is a spicy, but surprisingly light red which goes amazingly well with curries or roasted veggies, and the Pinot Grigio well chilled is delicious and crisp, lovely on its own or with a light pasta or seafood dish.

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While listening to the stories I wondered many times about the process of putting a series like this one into audio. There is so much that could be tricky. From finding someone that could put the right emotions in the voices, to giving the erotic scenes the right tone, to putting a product out there that would appeal to loyal fans of the series, as well as people new to it. Chris Patton got all of this right mind you, but how did Josh find him?  How did he even start out on this process? How was it to hear his stories, his characters come to life?…On a another but not less important note…What are some of HIS favorite California budget wines? SO MUCH I NEEDED TO KNOW!! Josh graciously indulged me by answering all my questions and letting me in on how he did it. Here is what he had to say!

“Fatal Shadows was the first title I wanted to put into audio. I was very uncertain about the process. I had tried a couple of different companies and no one seemed to have a very professional approach to it. In a couple of cases I couldn’t even get an answer. Then I stumbled across the Audio Creative Exchange and the platform seemed simple and user-friendly. I did a lot of research on them, and they seemed pretty new, but initial reports sounded promising. So I nervously uploaded the book info and audition script and then I started listening to samples from potential narrators. I came across Chris Patton fairly soon — there were not nearly the number of narrators and production companies on ACX at that point — and I liked his voice a lot. But I could see from his profile that he was extremely busy, and I just assumed he would be out of my price range and not interested. I decided to wait and see what auditions I got. It took a few weeks, and I got several competent submissions, but this was Adrien! I needed that voice to be exactly right. And then to my delight, Chris contacted me and asked to audition! I heard his audition, and it was exactly what I had hoped. I knew this would be a good match of narrator and story.

 death of a pirate kingChris had the right voice — both voices were right (which is important in any romance audio book; you’ve got to have two attractive voices) and it was clear he “got” the story. He wasn’t just reading words, he understood the subtext as well. That makes all the difference in an audio book.

The process did take a while. Chris had some health issues, and some other things cropped up, but we got the book done and out there and it did very well right away, which encouraged me to try another audio. This time I went with The Darkling Thrush which had been doing really, really well since I had re-released it under my own imprint. At that point I was really starting to have fun with the whole process. It’s definitely a rush to find those voices that closely match the character voice you hear in your mind.

At the same time, it’s difficult hearing my work outloud. As gratifying as it is to hear the story come to life — and it really does come to life in a completely different, intense way through narration — it’s also hard hearing all the little copyedit errors and repetition brought to life as well. And I cannot BEAR to hear my erotic scenes read aloud. I do listen to them because I have to catch any misspeaks or glitches, but OH MY GOD. It’s torture.

I’m not saying it drives me to drink, but when I’m listening to those final files, I usually pour myself a glass of wine, lie down on the sofa, close my eyes and just listen…

Oh! And you were asking about my favorite house wines? If you’re looking for an inexpensive but decent wine there’s Rabbit Ridge’s Cabernet (although that’s not inexpensive anymore!), Salmon Creek’s Merlot, Woodbridge (Robert Mondavi) makes a nice Cabernet Merlot, Ridge Crest Syrah is another nice one, and LB Gregg sent me a bottle of Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée 2010 – I liked that a lot. And I am not too proud to admit that I will buy Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) on occasion.

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So that is all for me today guys! Thanks to Josh Lanyon for taking the time to talk with me about all the work it took to give us this wonderful medium to enjoy his stories. I hope that this post will give you a push to pick up these audiobooks, they are very much worth experiencing. I also encourage you to get out there, and take a chance on the house wines being offered where you live, you may be surprised by what you discover, as Josh said to me “there are perfectly good house wines out there!”, I could not agree more!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

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