Whyborne & Griffin Series: Books 1, 2, & 3 by Jordan L. Hawk and my take on Blueberry Boy Bait Cake…Life will never be the same.

widdershins treshold stormhaven

Well, I don’t know where the hell I was back in June when the first book in this series came out, but clearly I was NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!  How did I miss two of the best things to come to M/M Romance last year?! Percival Endicott Whyborne, expert in languages and scholar at the Ladysmith Museum in Widdershins, MA, and Griffin Flaherty private detective and recent newcomer to town, what a pair these two are. Three books in the series so far.  I read them like I was on a mission, back to back, and every adventure was better than the next. What’s more, THEY were better each time, the character development that Jordan L. Hawk has done with her heroes is pure magic. It’s like I KNOW them, I feel for them, and I understand what they have together. Because that’s how close they are to me when I read these books. These guys they are so imperfect, they both bear scars inside and out from what their lives where before they found each other. But to each other, they are amazing. A miracle that has happened in their life. I fell in love with these two men. I want to take them both and spoil the hell out them, just because.

What to do? What could be good enough for these boys?!?! For Whyborne and Griffin I had to do something EXTRA special, and so incredibly delicious and comforting biting into it feels like happiness. The ONLY thing that fits the bill is the outrageously delicious Blueberry Boy Bait Cake, this cake is so good. There is NO WAY that if you make it, it will last through the day. The fresh blueberries, the caramel taste from the brown sugar, the cinnamon that blends perfectly, and the buttery taste. SO GOOD.  Just like these boys it lures you in, and you seriously cannot stop until there is nothing left!

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Last weekend was my husband’s birthday, and since we were in a celebratory mood, I paired the cake with a St. Germain Cocktail. St. Germain is an artisanal French liqueur made from elderberry flowers. It has a distinct and subtle floral taste, and it is pretty much made to go with champagne and fruit. St. Germain has been around since the 1880s, so this cocktail could very likely have made it to Widdershins for Ival and Griffin to enjoy ( with moderation for Ival!).  A large bottle of St. Germain is about $30.00, but you can usually get a small one for about $5.00, and that is more than enough to make about 4-5 cocktails. To mix the cocktail, just pour one to two tablespoons  of St. Germain in a champagne flute, drop three fresh blueberries into the glass, and top off with your favorite WELL CHILLED sparkling wine. I used a prosecco this time, but any dry sparkling wine works.

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Now back to the story…As I mentioned earlier, I read the books one after the other over a week and had a total blast with the stories. All three are packed with a lot of action and adventure. The mysteries are intriguing and complex and there is always a serious paranormal element to the plot. Whyborne and Griffin team up with Dr. Christine Putnam, archaeologist, and Whyborne’s colleage at the Ladysmith Muesum. Christine is a FANTASTIC character and brings a lot of comic relief and not a little bit of chutzpah to the books.

In the first installment, titled Widdershins, we meet Whyborne, our narrator, who from the get go is an incredibly endearing character. He is quiet and awkward and is most comfortable out the way with his books. There is too much he’d rather people not realize about him. For starters, his ‘inclinations’ which are not only against the law, they would be a disgrace for his family…That’s the second issue, Whyborne’s father is the head of the one of the biggest railroads companies in the United States. Choosing not to be in the family business has made Whyborne an outcast with his father and brother. So, the less he gets noticed the better for him. It’s not like anyone WOULD notice him, with his tall, lanky body and unruly hair. He is not anything anyone would find remarkable, he could be invisible…In comes Griffin Flaherty. Griffin, has been hired by one of the board members of the Ladysmith to investigates the mysterious death of his son. The man was brutally murdered and the only clue is a small ancient book that was found in his possession. The book is in a strange language, so Griffin under the advise of the victim’s father calls upon Whyborne for help translating.

From the moment they meet there’s a spark. Whyborne is always VERY careful to keep the sexual side of himself under control. Those feelings are dangerous, and nothing is worth letting them get out of control. Except Griffin lowers all his defenses and pretty soon the pull that is between them evolves, and for the first time in his life Whyborne feels like there is a place where he belongs. In Griffin’s arms he is home. They have such a beautiful connection, and they are so expressive of how they affect each other…Things are not perfect, far from it. They need to be discreet, and they have insecurities and things from their pasts that all come to peck at the frail thing that is building between them. Griffin has been through horrors which still haunt him. All Whyborne can do is be there for him, SHOW him that there is nothing in the past that could make him want to walk away form what they have.

There is also the murder…Once Whyborne discovers that the book found with the victim is actual a sorcery book, with incantations go from simply making fire to bringing back the dead, things become sinister very fast. The Arconorum is a powerful tool for sorcery. There are bad BAD things happening among the most powerful people in Widdershins, and that group just so happens to be too closely tied to Whyborne.

The mystery in the first installment is very involved, there are a lot of parts to it, and some are truly horrific. I might have gotten more than a bit scared during some bits. The complexity did not affect the fun though, I was at the edge of my seat to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and the romance. Sweeping is a word I’d use to describe these stories.

In, Threshold, the second book of the series, we catch up with Whyborne and Griffin four months in their relationship. Ival has moved into Griffin’s house as a “boarder” and things are going very well. They are in love, and Ival has never been happier. That’s when his estranged father calls upon Griffin to try and look into some strange occurrences taking place in one of his mines in Treshold, West Virginia. Despite the less than amicable way that Griffin got acquainted with Whyborne Sr. in the previous book he takes on the case. Well, Whyborne and Christine are NOT going to miss out on the action and they all take off on a trip South.

This book was just as fast paced as the first, but with a completely different, and just as involved mystery. There are other wordly forces at play, and the horrors taking place in Treshold take our trio for a loop. There is also some romantic drama…A man from Griffin’s past is in the middle of things, and some truths come out. Whyborne is so new to these feelings, and his skin is thin. He is so unsure of his standing in Griffin’s life (not because of Griffin, but his own insecurities). At the same time Griffin just can’t see how he can ever live up to Whyborne’s status in society. Things come to a crux for them here, in terms of their relationship. They have to TALK about what they are to each other.  Meanwhile the entire mining town is in bad shape with some pretty scary critters roaming around underground…Things get dicey fast, but Ival, Griffin and Christine save the day once more.

Stormhaven, the third book in the series takes us back to Widdershins nearly a year after we first met Ival and Griffin. One of Ival’s museum colleagues has been accused of murdering his own uncle, and taken to the insane asylum being diagnosed of with a mental break. The man insists he has been wrongly accused, that he has no idea what even happened. His brother begs Griffin to take the case, and despite the fact that Griffin is VERY uncomfortable with being anywhere near the asylum he takes it. Once they start looking into things it is clear that something is VERY VERY wrong , Ival and Griffin start to fear that bad bad things may be taking place in that asylum. So, our trio sets out to uncover a mystery, that turns into another web of very dark events that put them all at peril. But Griffin refuses to give up on the accused, and they do what it takes to clear his name.

At the same time Griffin’s family is in town visiting from Kansas, and Ival agrees to go along with hiding their relationship to keep Griffin’s family at peace. Things are fine at first, but the more Ival has to lie and conceal who they are to each other the more tense things get. Girffin tries to keep things under control, but circumstances force him to make a difficult choice. There is nothing he won’t do to keep Whyborne at his side.

Since I read them together, I see these first three books as a whole. I got to follow the progression of Ival and Griffin’s relationship in one go. So that eliminated any angstyness for me. I loved how close I was able to get to Whyborne, he is such a insecure and self-deprecating man. There is so little that he sees in himself as good. Yet, he can SEE that in Griffin’s eyes he is EVERYTHING that is desirable, beautiful and good. He may not understand it exactly, but he knows it…Most of the time anyways! As for Griffin, he is broken, he went through horrific things and they haunt him deeply and continuously. His fear is that it will eventually grow tiresome for Ival, yet it doesn’t, ever. Ival seems to believe that he is worth it. It marvels Griffin that a man so honorable, a man of his stature looks at him, and sees his greatest treasure.

They are so dear, and SO in love…They kill me. Also the erotica, top notch. I adored them as the center of the books, but I must say the adventures were just as engaging as the romance. I had a grand time with them, they all felt new and different, and the camaraderie from our dynamic trio kept a constancy in the tone that was nice to rely on for comic relief and lighter moments. The settings played central roles as well, and I was able to really immerse into the surroundings. Jordan did such a great job of creating a clear picture from the scenery, to the mood, to the atmosphere. Fine writing all around.

I HOPE beyond all hope that there are many more stories coming from Whyborne and Griffin. They have many places to go to yet!

I recommend this series enthusiastically, and if like me you are late to this, don’t hesitate to pick them up, you will have a BLAST!

All the Whyborne and Griffin books are available on Amazon.

Blueberry Boy Bait Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, which adapted it from Country Cook

Makes a 9×9 pan

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated organic sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (although whole or soy would work)
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For topping:

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9 by 9-inch baking pan. Grease it GOOD.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes.

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Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:

Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

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I hope this post encourages you to pick up these book! If you decide to makes the cake I hope you enjoy it as well. With or without the St. Germain sparkling wine is a great choice to enjoy the books and/or the cake with.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari by the INCREDIBLE Sarah Black and Mediterranean Mezze w a Greek Malgousia. Literally HEAVEN.

GeneralandtheElephantClockofAlJazariI’ve said it before and, I will say it again, Sarah Black in this genre is HER OWN STANDARD. I’ve never ever wanted to be a writer, but when I read her books, I almost want to. Just so I could know what it feels like to make something so lovely, that can move people like her books move me.

The General and the Elephant Clock of A–Jazari is the sequel to The General and The Horse Lord. The book that gave us General John Mitchell and his longtime lover, and fellow warrior helicopter pilot and all purpose badass, Gabriel Lopez. John and Grabriel have been lovers for over two decades, but because of DADT they had to keep their relationship a secret. In retirement, they’ve decided to step out into the light and live like they’ve always wanted to. Not everything is rosy though, Gabriel has a very unhappy ex-wife, and his teenage boy is struggling with the changes in his family. John is trying to find excitement and purpose out of military life, and thus far it’s been hard to find what fits.

Then there’s his little tribe of young men. Kim his beloved nephew (and one of the best things I’ve read in years!) who is forever exploring and pushing the boundaries, looking for his own love, his own path. Billy the boy he’s taken in after he was badly assaulted in a past relationship. Abdullah the son of his mentor and oldest friend. All these boys are looking to John and Gabriel for guidance, to show them what it should look like to live and love proudly. John is not a man who has ever shied away from doing the things that need to be done. But this time of his life proves more difficult than he ever imagined, he is feeling a sense of fulity, like what he was born to do, is being done by someone else and they’re fucking it up. I mean he’s happy, happier than he’s ever been, just to be able to wake up next the love of his life every morning, to love Gabriel in the light of day is like every dream come true. But still he is restless. He is BORED. So, when he gets the call to come on a mission to get two ex-military boys out of Tunisia who’ve been imprisoned while on vacation. John (and Gabriel), jump on the opportunity.  What they’ve been wanting,  a mission, the chance to do something great and purposeful.

So!!! For a book set in Carthage I had to make some Mediterranean fare.  For John and Gabriel’s adventure in Tunisia I made  a mezze plate with homemade tabbouleh, hummus, babaganoush and roasted veggies. To sip while enjoying the amazingness that is this story, I picked a Greek Malagousia white wine that is just PERFECTION with this kind of food. Seriously, it’s just delicious. The peach, mango and grassy overtones in this wine are fantastic. I actually had this wine over the weekend at a fabulous Greek restaurant in Atlanta, that my two girlfriends (also Sarah Black fans!!!!) and I ate while attending GRL 2013…We had kind of gone off to a Patty Griffin concert for the night 🙂  The Gerovassilliou IS kind of way above my normal budget, but at $20 dollars a bottle the 2010 Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia might be the excpetion to my rule. And why the hell not? This is Sarah Black after all!  If I’m gonna break my rule, it’ll be for her surely! Now that we have the makings of an amazing meal, we can go back to the book…

Babaganoush platter

Mezze with roasted beets and carrots, Bummus, Babaganoush, Tabbouleh and Olives.

Photo Credit: Reversewinesnob.com

Photo Credit: Reversewinesnob.com

This book is a complete adventure, the pace is fast and entertaining. We hit the ground running in Carthage. We move with John and Gabriel in Tunisia, doing the things that need to be done to get the boys home safe, and while we’re there we meet amazing characters that all make this world that she draws for us more colorful and kinder. Sarah Black has a style, a depth that is incomparable in this genre, she puts forth hard things, flawed people,  harsh realities…But also she shows us the real strength behind friendship, loyalty, love, beliefs, passion…The things that make this world kinder and better. The ways she blends them, and makes a story that is foremost about people and love, it just leaves me enthralled. The thought that above all the differences there are amongst people, the common ground is always more vast, we just have to make the choice of stepping on to it.  To see the world through the eyes that see where we can BE a better world than we have, wheere we can take the time to finds the places where we did good things.

That’s all on top of Gabriel and John themselves and that love they have.  Gabriel was like some sort avenging angel, and John was righteous and heroic. It’s not easy this life they are living at times, their love have costs. High costs, scary ones. But the choice of not having each other, is one that they can never take. I love these men, loved this book, the adventures were vivid, the things I learned enriching. I feel in love even more with the General, the Horse Lord and their tribe.  I hope above ALL HOPE I will get to read about Abdullah and Kim’s love story.

The special thing about Sarah Black is that she things about important complex things, Like the faces of young gangbangers, or the plight of women in the East, and shows them to us against ourselves our own struggles. About learning to walk in our on paths, of deciding when and where we must be adults and how to finally let our childrend stand on their own two fee. She takes all that and strips it down to basic human things. That hard or difficult all the things in this world come down to basic feelings and solitary decisions. We either chose to the right thing, or we don’t. We choose hate, or we choose love. We run away, or we stand up and face the consequences of that we’ve done.

Beatiful book. Sarah Black, you leave without words sometimes.Totally and completely recommend. I’d MAKE people read it if I could.

The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari is available for Pre-Order here, and will be out on Dreamspinner Press on October 25th.

For the food I have three recipes that are total Veganite classics, I addeed a bit here or there to make them my own…I hope you enjoy.

Hummus

1 14.5 Oz of Organic/Low Sodium dhick peas drained and rinsed.

2 Tablesppons of natural tahini

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup of very good extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

1 clove of garlic minced in the microplane

1Two pitted Kalamata olives

4 Slices of pickled alapenos

Salt and Peper to taste.

Directions: Put all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. When done put on a small bowl. Top with a little olive oil and smoked paprika. Serve with warm pita bread.

Babaganoush

1 Large eggplant

2 Tablespoons of natural tahini

Juice of one lemon

1/4 cup of good extra olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch)

1 Garlic clove minced with the microplane.

1/2 teaspoon of fresh flat parsley, chopped very fine.

1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make holes in the eggplant with a fork in various places and put it in the oven for about 25 minutes turning over once. When the skin is blistering and the eggplant feels soft. Take out eggplant and let cool. Once it’s cool in inside peel off skin and out in the food processor with all ingredients except the parsley. Mix in the processor until smooth. Put in a small bowl and top with parsley and bit of olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread.

Ready for Babaganoush

Ready for Babaganoush

Tabbouleh

1 Cup of uncooked bulgur wheat

2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley

1 tablespoon of fresh finely chopped mint

1 cucumber peeled, diced and cubed finely.

1 small white onion chopped dfinely.

2 roma tomatoes seeded and chopped.

1/4 cup of olive oil.

Juice of one lemon.

1 1/1 cups of water.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Put the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour in bulgur wheat, lower heat and then cover until cooked, about 20 minutes or until water has evaporated. Take off heat and let cool. Once the whear is completely cool, separately in a large bowl mix all the ingredients and add bulgur to them. Toss and put in fridge for an hour. Serve in a bowl.

To make the mezze platter place the two dips, bread, and tabbouled in a large platter all in separate bowls. Also have a plate of kalamata olives to eat. Enjoy with Gabriel, John, their tribe while sipping a well chilled glass of Malagousia.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

My Cowboy Heart by ZA Maxfield, Roasted Poblanos with Tofu Picadillo Stuffing w New Mexican Chile Sauce and Spanish Verdejo. Salud!

mycowboyheartThis review and recipe are WAAAAAAAY late I know! But I had a crazy last few weeks! Ok first off I want to say that Z.A. Maxfield is, has and will continue to be, for me, one of the M/M authors that will forever make me grateful to have stumbled onto this genre. The love stories that ZAM writes ALWAYS connect with me in a way that inevitably gives me a lot of joy. Her humor, and the way that she always manages to bring out so much from her characters, is a gift. Really, she is a gifted writer and I love her books.

My Cowboy Heart is not the exception here, her first book published with a more mainstream house (Intermix from the Penguin Group) and it did not disappoint. I LOVED it! It is a bona fide “Gay Cowboys” love story, set perfectly, with characters that broke my heart then put it back together, made me laugh and sniffle a bit, gave me the hot flashes (because the erotica was PRIMO) left me smiling, and certain of that happy ending…So for ZAM and her boys I needed to make something EXTRA special, so I went Southwest all the way! I made these boys Roasted Poblano Peppers with New Mexican Chile Sauce and paired it with a lovely 2011 Spanish Verdejo from Arindo winery that will mark the end to my summer of perfectly sippably delicious wines. The Arindo Verdejo is a very light white wine, with citrusy and herbal notes, reminiscent of a sharp chablis or very light Sav Blanc. I love it with spicy food, and at $9.00 a bottle you cannot do any better. But enough about that for now, on to the story.

YUM!!

YUM!!

Malloy had a pretty quiet life…At 32 he has place in the world where he feels safe,  and useful, needed, and even though his childhood was not happy or good in any way, he has found family in the people of the J-Bar ranch. He came to the J-Bar as a foster kid and never left.  He is a man now, with accomplishments and a history, he has known love from Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. The owners of the ranch have been like parents to him and he’s grateful to them beyond words, but he’s always kept a little bit on himself closed off to any real intimacy of closeness. He knows that the people that you love you most are the ones that can live the biggest holes in your heart when they let you down…People leave.

The aloof, “I am an island” thing has been working pretty well for him too, whenever he needs to scratch and itch he heads to Albuquerque, he doesn’t need a woman to be happy, what he needs is to work in that ranch and feel solid.  That’s all well and good riiiiiiiiight until Crispin Carrasco comes to work to the J-Bar and little by little EVERY DAMN THING that Malloy seemed sure about goes right out the window.

Malloy was pretty sure he was straight and interested in living an uncomplicated life. The thing is Crispin was like this ball of energy that put ALL of Malloy’s senses in high alert. EVERYTHING about Crispin made Malloy want to know more, see more, touch more…And that’s the other thing! He WANTED Crispin in a way he hadn’t really considered before, more than that Crispin was someone he wanted to protect and make happy…Something about Crispin seemed so fragile, like his outer shell could be broken so easily. Malloy was reluctant, but he finally let go and once he did that then…THEN he REALLY understood that the reason why he hadn’t needed before, WANTED so bad before, was because he hadn’t found the thing that his body craved.

Crispin is a complex guy, free and loose on the outside, but with deep deep scars inside, he was hurt bad as a child and then orphaned. He knew abandonment like Malloy did. He had the same kind of hurt inside him. Those things that change you deeply and make you feel that no one could possibly understand just how damaging some pains could be, how long it could stay, how much it could haunt you. The thing was that Crispin was not willing to let go of what he found in being Malloy’s, and once they went THERE all they could do was to fall. FALL HARD. It made for fabulous romance.

I loved the secondary characters in this one and was very glad to see that the two other wayward cowboys at the J-Bar are getting their own story.

So, this novel like all of ZAM’s has all the classic components of a great romance…Strong main characters, but just a little broken, lots of humor and sexyness, and a happy ending that when it comes feels warranted, and well deserved.

I am glad that ZAM explored the Western theme for a novel, because I loved the setting here, I appreciated how deeply she went into the New Mexican geography and how is really shapes the hardiness and strong substance of the men that live and work in it.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment and hoping for lots more from Ms. Maxfield.

My Cowboy Heart is for sale on Amazon.com. The second story for the J-Bar boys is available for pre-order here.

Now moving on to the food!

cowboy heart food and wine

Roasted Poblano Peppers with Tofu Picadillo

4 Roasted Poblano Peppers (Directions below)

1 Large potato

1 zuchinni

1 pack extra firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 packets of taco seasoning (I used Simply Organic Southwest Taco)

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 tablesppon of cilantro

1 garlic clove minced

Directions: For the poblano peppers. Put the peppers in the middle rack of an oven preheated at 400F, after 10-12 minutes turn the peppers, leave them in the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the skin is blistering and softened. Take them out, put them in a bowl, and cover with cling wrap until they are cool enough to remove the skin, seeds and veins.

For picadillo, take the taco seasoning and add two tablespoons of water and mix into the cubed tofu. Let it marinade for about one hour.  Meanwhile peel and cube potato. Blanch the cubes in boiling water. In a skillet add one tablespoon of olive oil and sautee onion,, garlic and zuchinni for a few minutes then add tofu and potatoes. Cook together for about five minutes at medium heat, at the end add the cilantro. Stuff the peppers with the picadillo and to with the New Mexican Chile sauce.

New Mexican Chile Sauce

1 driend New Mexican Chile seeded and deveined

2 dried Guajillo Chiles seeded and devained

1 dried California Chile seeded and deveined

1 teaspoon of agave nectar

1 can of diced stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup of fresh cilantro

1/2 medium onion chopped

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk)

1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.

Directions: Put hot water in a bowl, and put the dried chiles to rehydrate for about one hour. After the chilies have soaked put a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sautee onions and garlic. After about two minutes out in the chiles and stewed tomatoes and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the milk and stew it for another 10 minutes. Once it was boiled take it out of the pan let it cool and the blend it to make a smooth sauce. Add lemon juice at the end.

I hope that the book and the food are as good for you as they were for me!

 

Happy Reading!

 

Laura

Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford and Vegan Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (Very Un-PC name I know..But they’re DELICIOUS!!!)

Whiskey&WryLG This was a VERY anticipates sequel…I loved loved Sinner’s Gin and that cliffhanger at the end left me BREATHLESS with wanting Damien’s story. This book is the second in the Sinner Series and it’s the story of Miki’s (who we met in Sinner’s Gin) best friend and band mate Damien Mitchell. Damien’s has been recovering from an accident in a mental institution in Montana and NOTHING about what he’s being told adds up, not his name, his parents, what they tell him about his life before, none of it makes sense…So after an unlikely escape he heads out to San Francisco to find Miki.  While trying to find his friend, Damien runs in to some Irish hotness by the name of Sionn Murphy…These men were so sweet and delicious together I HAD to make something decandet and amazing for them. Irish Car Bomb Vegan Cupcakes is what I came up with, totally politically incorrect name but they are SO GOOD!!!! I promise!! In terms of alcoholic beverages all the booze for this post are actually IN THE CUPCAKES, since we will be using Guiness, Jameson and Bailey’s to make these bad boys!

So GOOD!

So GOOD!

Now on to the story…Damien has been in a mental insitituion where the staff keep telling him he has a different name, history, family and nothing, NOTHING adds up. In the middle of a fire he manages to escape, but before he’s in the clear he has a run in with someone who is obviously trying to off him.he remembers things though he KNOWS who he is and even though his life is completely out of control, and he’s not even sure his memories are real, he must try and find his friend Miki. Miki and music are the two things that no matter who he’s supposed be are real to him as his own skin and bones. he’s got scars and he knows something bad has happened, getting to Miki will help answer those questions.  He’s not sure how or why i, but he heads to San Francisco anyways. He is sure that once he is back with his friend everything will make sense again. Damien makes his way to California, he ends up playing in front of an Irish pub that somehow calls to him. He remembers being there before and he’s drawn to it and it’s owner, Sionn Murphy.  The Irishman is gorgeous and kind to him. So kind, and Damien has been on the road by himself for a long time. A little kindness, some human touch is something HE CRAVES. He’s not even sure he’s gay!! But something about Sionn keeps Damien coming back.

The thing is the dude that tried to kill him getting out of the hospital DOES not give up easy and is on his tail not long after he meets Sionn. Things progress fast, Sionn and Damien are getting much closer and feelings are running deep, but this killer is not only a butcher but he’s FULL ON CRAZAHAYZAY and it becomes personal REAL QUICK. He wants to off everyone in Damien’s life…Damien has a lot of people on his side, but those who want him dead are willing to do what they have to, to get him out of the way.

There’s a twist though, Sionn is in the Murphy family, the same Murphy family that Miki esentially married into recently and once he makes the connection with Damien and Miki he arranges a reunion for his guy with his best friend. This book is a melange of twists and turns. The killer and the man who has hired him seem to stop at nothing to get to Damien and those he loves. It was an intense ride with moments that were gruesome and scary.  Sionn was solid though, once he found Damien and their relationship started to blossom he stood by him until the very end, and Damien let him. This book in so many ways is a straightforward romance, but in the style of this author the mystery and the darkness were just a little disturbing  and a lot engrossing. San Francisco was again perfectly showcased, which I loved. I enjoyed this novel. It was a strong follow up to a very excellent start to this series.

I am looking forward for the next installment and hoping that there are a few more in store.

Whiskey and Wry is for sale at Dreamspinner.com

 

Now the CUPCAKES!! Be warned people these go FAST!

Whiskey and Wry Teaser Pic

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup of Guinness

1/2 cup plus two tablespoos of unsweetend almond milk

1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups of cake flour

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

3/4 cups of organic cane sugar

1/4 of bittersweet cocoa powder

1/3 cup of canola oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Directions

Prehear oven at 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, adding the beer last and scoop into a lined cupcake tin. Bake for 12 minutes or until done.

 Irish Whiskey and Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

2 tablespoons of almond milk

2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

Directions

Put ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat one minute at a time until all ingredients are melted and mixed in. Let cool before using.

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar

1/2 cup or 4 ounces of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance) at room temperatue

3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys

Directions

Whip the margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and Bailey’s, a few tablespoons at a time. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

To fill the cupcakes (Used the Smitten Kitchen recipe for directions) Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

These cupcakes go best with an awesome cup of coffee or by themselves, while reading Damien and Sionn’s book of course! They are DECANDENT and DELISH!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

 

Laura