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
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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,

Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin #4) by Jordan L Hawk and a Spanish Jumilla to LURE IN the Summer!

Necropolis_200x300Whyborne and Griffin might be one of the best things that happened to me on this horrible traumatic thing I endured the past five months, which the people around here call Winter. I came late to this series, as I often do these days. I missed the buzz somehow when the first installment came out last summer, so in the midst of a horrific Upstate New York Arctic weather I started on Widdershins and proceeded to read all three books in a frenzy. Upon coming up for air I was delighted to hear that the fourth installment was in the works, and would be out in the Spring. JOY!!! Necropolis the fourth (I hope from many more to come) in the Whyborne & Griffin series, is another fantastic adventure with so much imagination and top notch writing, it was all my head could do keep up with all the amazing images and fast paced thrills. As always with Jordan’s stories, I was on the edge of my seat trying to keep up with Whyborne, Griffin and Christine, and loving every moment. And then there is the romance. They just get better with each book, it’s such a bone deep love these two guy have. Sighs…I love them.

OK on to the drank…Summer as much as that fucker refuses to commit (unlike Ival and Griffin) to settling here this year, is upon us…That means WHITE WINE all’a the time. I picked a 2012 Spanish Jumilla from the Luzon Winery in Murcia, Spain for this review. The Jumilla is peachy and grassy, with a delightful burst of all things green and no sweetness. Just a beautiful glass of organic wine, which is amazing value. It is $9.0o a bottle which is seriously a great buy, this one will be on the summer hits list for sure.

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Back to the book…This time we catch up to out guys months after their adventures in Stormhaven.  It is Christmas time and Ival and Griffin are settled into their life together…Knowing these two calm and peace cannot last for very long. Soon Ival receives an urgent telegram from Christine who is on an expedition in Egypt, asking for him to join her as there is some trouble. Ival is not a fan of leaving Widdershins, so he is unsure whether responding to her request is doable…However a few odd and rather scary things happen in the museum, and not long after Ival and his lover are off on a steamer ship hoping they get to Christine in time to avert disaster.

These guys are not new to the paranormal and have had more than their share of close encounters with seriously scary monsters. So when it becomes clear that an obscure Egyptian Queen, Nitocris said to have been the Mistress of the Ghuls, has apparently come back from the dead to take over the world of the living, the guys take the news SERIOUSLY. Christine is as always not phased, and extremely interested in finding the site of where this supposedly all originated. There is some weirdness happening that is for sure, and to add to the drama Christine’s long lost sister is in the mix and wanting to come on the expedition in the Saharan Desert. There is also man accompanying Christine an Iskander Barrett, a “colleague”, Ival doesn’t trust the man and neither does Griffin. There is enough suspicious stuff happening to warrant the distrust, and on top of it all the Camels in Egypt seem to have in for Ival…And they expect him to sleep in a tent! Things could not be worst…This is why he does not travel.

Once they set off looking for the site of Nitocris and her mischief, much fuckery ensues and Ival has to rely on his sorcery on a few close calls…This never goes over well with Griffin. It is hard for him to conciliate any sort of sorcery with anything good. It scares him, it make him fear for what it could do to Ival. Adding to the tension Ival cannot help feel guilty for how things went with Griffin and his adoptive family. Christine’s sister presence only exacerbates that.  Also it’s becoming clearer and clearer that whatever they are after does not want to be found, and things might get very bad, very quickly. Sabotaging and allkinds of crazy are happening, they are unsure of what will happen if they keep digging, but it is too late to turn back. These three have never met a monster they couldn’t beat, so they push on hoping to come out of that desert still breathing.

Like the first three books in this series this story is a bona fide adventure/romance it is fast paced and there is always, ALWAYS a new an intersting mystery to uncover. No adventure or bad guy is ever the same with these guys, and I treasure that. The strories are rich and coherent, these are not frivolously written stories there is a lot of meat in these plots. And that love, they are more genuine and solid every time we see them again, yet their connection never ever gets old. LOVE THEM. Jordan L Hawk has made a world and characters that are equally charming and intriguing, what’s more they are more endearing with every book. There is always something new to learn, and even more left at the end to look forward to.

Enjoyed this thoroughly and totally recommend it.

Necropolis will be released on May 6th, and will be available here.

I hope you enjoy the book and the wine!

Cheers and Happy Reading!



Clockwork Tangerine by Rhys Ford and a Tasty Tempranillo

ClockworkTangerineLGRhys does steampunk…And she does it well. It is hard to believe Rhys Ford hadn’t dabbled in this genre yet. Her mind is so creative and her writing so vivid. Her style just seems like a match made in heaven for this genre. In this story she takes us to her beloved Bay Area.  San Francisco, actually, St. Francisco. We go to the city when it was part of the British Commonwealth. She takes us right into the thick of things, Little Orient, where our heroes have their fateful meeting. From the get go we are taken into a delightful adventure, with a good dose of political intrigue, very engaging characters (fiesty Dowager included!) and a vivid setting.  Marcus Stenhill, the Viscount of Westwood, happens upon a man receiving a terrible beating while on an errand in Little Orient. Marcus being a man who won’t sit idly while a gang of four, beat on a single man when he is down, comes to the fellow’s rescue. The man Marcus rescues should be his foe, a mortal enemy. Even though they have never faced each other their histories are bound in a sinister way. Robin Harris had a part in Marcus’ father murder, indirect, but a part nonetheless. He should hate him, but instead is flumoxed by his desire for the man. Things won’t be easy…Not only are his unnatural desires criminal in the commonwealth, but Robin himself is a marked man. Pursuing anything with him may be too much folly, even for someone with Marcus’ influence and wealth.

For the men of Clockwork Tangerine I chose a lovely Spanish Tempranillo, which if not a super popular wine in most of the British Empire, certainly a common one to find in territory so close to the Spanish Empire’s holding a bit to the South. The 2011 Dacu Tempranillo from the Ribera del Guadiana in Spain, is an absolute WINNER.  It is very earthy and smooth with a distinct flavoring that will appeal to Zinfandel lovers. At about $10.00, you cannot go wrong with this bottle.

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Now back to the story…Once Marcus takes on rescuing Robin, he goes all the way. He takes Robin back to his house, and does not leave his side until he is recovered. From the moment Marcus steps into Robin’s home he can see that the inventions which were taken and bastardized by the Society to bring down the Empire were not the last Robin’s mind had to give. There are all kinds of magical contraptions all over the house. Harris has apparently successfully developed prosthetics that are aiding people to walk and see. Marcus is enthralled. By the time Robin comes around a few weeks later after the beating, Marcus is a mainstay in his life.

Robin is taken aback by the kindness, by the presence of the man. Of all people, Marcus should loathe him, yet he gives him nothing but gentleness. There is also the issue of the man’s beauty. Robin can barely take being close to him without working himself up to complete discombobulation. Robin just does not understand what the man could be after…Maybe he feels the same, there have been hints here and there…But, but…No it can’t be, there is no way possible that someone as tainted as he could end up with a man like Marcus in his bed and a life of happiness. Robin can have his doubts, but Marcus will show Robin to never underestimate a man who knows EXACTLY his worth, his position and his heart, and what he is willing to do for those he loves.

For the length of this novella, all in all, we get quite the story. Not only did we get a very strong sense of the place and world, but we got to know both men and their individual stories pretty well. The world was solidly set as well, we got a good understanding of how the society works, and the foes who have and could threaten their world. I would love to see a sequel for this book where Robin and Marcus united to defend their beloved British Empire. There is a lot to love about the world Rhys created, but at the nucleus it is a strong love story. Marcus saves Robin from a life of isolation and guilt, and together the life they will build will make them both whole.

Lovely story. Totally recommend. Stop by tomorrow to read more about Clockwork Tangerine and Robin’s inventions. The lovely Ms. Ford wrote a bit about Robin’s machines and their relevance to her story!

Clockwork Tangerine will be released tomorrow from Dreamspinner Press.

Cheers and Happy Reading!


Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, Chocolate Tamales and some Bubbly…

ChristmasKitsch_500x750Logically I know that Amy doesn’t  ACTUALLY write her books for ONLY me…But she MIGHT AS WELL!  I loved this story. Totally and Completely. It’s a simple story really, and a familiar story to be sure. But it was so loving, and it was so warm. Rusty Baker is our narrator who tells us his story in the first person. Rusty is a high school senior, a jock, he’s not super deep, he’s got a kind heart, he was taught to be polite by his parents, he’s supposed to go to UC Berkeley in the fall to study something (pre-law has been “suggested” since his dad is a lawyer, and he’s meant to be his old man’s clone)…These are all facts, things that just happen to BE in Rusty’s life, not things he’s responsible for. He’s self-aware enough to understand his privileged life, to understand that all the stuff he has is supposed to make his life so much better than others who don’t live huge house or drive new cars. The thing is that stuff really doesn’t make anything better …The thing about his life he actually likes the most, the BEST thing, the one thing he got all on his own, it’s his friend Oliver. Oliver is different (brown, little, and from a very NOT privileged Latin family), not at all like his upper middle class friends who take everything for granted. Oliver is SO SMART, and funny. There is no frowning, EVER, when Oliver is around. Also, Oliver is gay, which you’d think would bother Rusty, but he doesn’t care! He’s never had someone like Oliver in his life.

These boys were so sweet, and THAT love. That all encompassing, grounding thing they had. I really had to think hard about what to make for this review…I toyed with the idea of cookies (you will know why when you read the book!), but I HAD to go with tamales. I’m LATIN! And the ritual that is tamale making during the holidays where a pivotal thing for Rusty, and his understanding of the kind of love he’d have with Oliver. SO! Tamales, Chocolate Tamales, that is…With a Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Crumble Filling that will make you want to cry, they are so DELICIOUS. For all this holiday goodness the only choice for a wine pairing was a bottle of BUBBLY…Jaume Serra Cristalino Extra Dry Cava Brut from Spain. It is my favorite affordable sparkling wine for drinking with extra luscious dessert. This wine is dry and fresh, so it cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate and buttery crumble. Delightful, and at $8.00 a bottle, a WINNER.

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Back to our  guys…Things are progressing fast for Rusty, high school is ending and he is doubled over by his parents expectations of him…They don’t SEE him. They want him to be someone he simply cannot be. College is like this impending doom looming in the horizon, and it’s scary. He knows in his heart his happiness lies in other things. He wishes he could tell his parents that the summer construction job with Oliver’s dad was like a revelation, that he wants simpler thing, maybe a job where he uses his hands and his body. A little house with dogs and people in it that love each other, that sounds like the best dream. Oliver too, he has to be in that life. Oliver is solid and there, and he makes Rusty feel grounded…He’s the best friend he’s ever had, until the day that Oliver challenges everything about their relationship and kisses him. And then, that’s when Rusty Baker starts to make sense to himself.

Once at Berkeley things go from bad to worse, the only thing keeping Rusty from totally losing it is the prospect of Thanksgiving break and seeing Oliver. He can barely keep his head above water with his studies, he’s so done with everything. He makes his decision when he gets home, he is going to come clean to his parents about who he really is, in all ways. Things come out (pun intended here) a lot more abruptly than he intends and he ends up getting kicked out of his home, and staying with Oliver’s family for the holidays. Rusty is adrift, cut off from his family so drastically, like he meant nothing to them, it hurts him deeply. He is not sure what will be of his life, but at the same time…It’s also what he’s always known to expect from his parents…What shakes him to the core though is  the brazen warmth with which Oliver’s family embraces him. To them this boy that their Oliver loves, MUST be OK, they will make sure of that. Rusty feels so undeserving of all this love and support, he just can’t accept it, they are too valuable and worthy, and he is to insignificant for even his parents to miss…Rusty struggles to let himself accept all that he is being offered…Even when his reluctance hurts Oliver, he hesitates. Oliver is a treasure, and Rusty has nothing to offer him , how can he possibly be enough? Oliver takes all that doubt Rusty has and fights it. Makes him see, that the ONLY thing that Oliver cannot live with, is not having Rusty in his life.

Amy Lane really outdoes herself with the interracial heroes, she has a real understanding of the things that are different about couples who come from such different cultural backgrounds.  The warmth that exists at the center of Latin families, but also the truth and honesty in all colors of families who ultimately, as much as they fuck up, still do want to see their children happy. The core of this story for me was the idea that there is not anything anyone can learn, know, or earn, to be deserving of the open love someone offers up to them…Rusty had to finally understand that the only thing he ever has to give Oliver was himself. All that other stuff they can take care of together.

Everything about this story was warmth, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The families and friends were wonderful. I loved Nicole, Rusty sister and Rex his college roommate HAS GOT TO HAVE his own story. What a wonderful character. Again, Amy Lane writes a story that to reads like something I know personally. Straight to my heart.

I cannot recommend this story enough, it is out today from Riptide publishing, and can be purchased here.

Chocolate Tamales with a Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Crumble Filling

For the masa:

  • 2 cups corn flour for tamales
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) non-hydrogenated vegetable spread
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk, more if needed
  • 1 (6-ounce) package dry corn husks, moistened according to package directions
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup of raw pecans
  • 4 tablespoons of vegan buttery spread
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or sucanat
  • 2 tablespoons on bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips


For the masa:

In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, place corn flour, salt and water and mix at high speed to prepare the batter. Scrape bowl halfway through and continue mixing until well combined. Remove batter from bowl, form it into a ball, divide it in three parts and set aside. Wipe out the mixer bowl. Add the butter and vegetable spread to the bowl and mix at high speed until fluffy and light, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Separately put the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute, stir it at 30 seconds and add to the mix  once its cool. Add vanilla, cinnamon and sugar, then add the reserved corn flour batter in three parts with a third of the milk and the chocolate following each addition. Continue mixing well for another 3 minutes.Add some extra milk if the batter seems dry. It will be very sticky when it is ready.

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For the filling:

In a skillet put in the pecans and heat for about five minutes at medium heat, moving them around, so they don’t burn. Put the pecans aside and then add the buttery spread to the pan, sautee for a minute until melted then add the sugar, vanilla and bourbon, stir until it looks like caramel and then add the pecans. Cook for another 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. When the mix is thick like caramel remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Once its cooled scrape the mix of the pan and place in the food processor, add the maple syrup and pulse until the mixture is coarsely ground uniformly.

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Making the tamales:

Fill the bottom of a steamer with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. To assemble the tamales, place one moistened triangular-shaped corn husk on a work surface with the base of the triangle closest to you. Using a soup spoon, scoop about 2 ounces of batter and place it on the bottom center of the husk (close to the base but about half an inch away from the edge). With the back of your spoon, make a small flat indentation in the middle of the batter and place about two teaspoons of the crumble and a pinch of the mini chocolate chips in the indentation. Now it is ready to be folded (you do not need to cover the chocolate chips with more batter). Fold the right side of the husk over the filling, then fold the left side up and over, enclosing the filling but without pressing too much. Now flip the top of the triangle over to close the tamale. Tie both ends of the tamale with string. Place the the steamer rack standing up. Repeat with the rest of the filling and stack all tamales together on the steamer rack so they stay together. This will keep them from opening up while cooking. Once they are all in the steamer bring water to a boil, cover and steam for 45 minutes.

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Check the steamer occasionally to make sure there is enough water in it. To check if the tamales are cooked through, open one to see if the filling is fluffy and no longer stick to the sides of the husk. Serve the tamales with vanilla ice cream and a bit of hot fudge and ENJOY.

I do hope you guys try this recipe it is delicious and a holiday treat, with the bubbly and this wonderful Christmas story, I guarantee an amazing evening!

Cheers, Happy Reading and A Lovely Holiday Season!


Early Review: Let Is Snow by Heidi Cullinan a Lovely Green Salad with Strawberry, Avocado and Poppy Seed Vinaigrette and a bold red.

let it snowI’m just going to put it out there, the burly bearish older man with an effeminate flamboyant younger man trope works on me LIKE A CHARM. I love the dynamics that can come from this type of love story. The older, more jaded man, finally finding someone that deserves his devotion, someone who brings out in him all the tenderness he’s forgotten he has to give. And then that younger man finding someone who cherishes him JUST THE WAY HE IS…That makes all those things that everyone branded as wrong in him, exactly the things that make him even more precious to his lover. THAT place, the place of acceptance, of seeing in the person you love that vulnerability and treasuring it, making that very “weakness” the place of strength where to grow your love, THAT place is where Heidi Cullinan brings it like no other author for me in this genre. This story charmed me. How could it not, with that cozy little cabin in the woods, and the three cranky bears who end up with a very reluctant Goldilocks?!

For the food this book is getting two posts. This first one with my review, has the  wine pairing and a recipe for a lovely salad which will serve as a yummy side to an AWESOME recipe for Vegan and Gluten Free Pot Pies, which will be up tomorrow as part of Heidi’s Blog Tour. For the wine, I chose a  the 2011 Flaco Tempranillo   from Spain.  You will NEVER pay more than $8.00 for a bottle of this wine, it’s tasty and rich every time. It’s got a little vanilla, a little spice, and a little pepper, which means it’s always good for the table. When in doubt, go with a Tempranillo. So, Tempranillo and a Greens, Avocado and Strawberry Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (this I made special for Frankie) is the food and wine today. Now back to the story.

flacoLike I mentioned this book has three bears, and this story  is all about the Papa Bear and his Golden boy. Marcus was a high powered lawyer in Minneapolis, but a failed relationship and disillusionment with his fast paced, ambition driven career made him give it all up. Now’s he’s back living  in Logan, Minnesota where he grew up, staying in a cabin with his two best friends, Paul and Arthur. Frankie is a young man working as a hairdresser in the Twin Cities, things are not terrible, but they are not great either, and on his way back home from Thanksgiving at his parent’s place, he drives his car into a snow bank in the middle of an ice storm, and ends up stuck in the middle of nowhere town of Logan, Minnesota.

Poor Frankie leaves his car behind, and starts walking until he ends up in a cabin, where he has no choice but to hunker down until the storm passes. He’s a little trepidatious, his earlier stop in a local cafe kind of scared  him. The men in this town seemed a bit menacing. But he goes into the cabin anyway he doesn’t really have a choice….Just so happens the cabin is inhabited by three very bearish bears *whimpers*, actually the same guys from the cafe. And at least one of them is looking at Frankie like he’d love to eat him up as a midnight snack…Things could get interesting…

What I loved about this story was that both Marcus and Frankie had so much baggage, but they still were able to give into that gut feeling that hey had found something special. They both were scared of getting hurt, Marcus of getting his heart broken again, and Frankie of all the ways people could hurt him for being who he was. Marcus scared Frankie, he seemed like the kind of man who carried chip on his shoulder for having to be put in the same category as guys like Frankie. Frankie scared Marcus, because he reminded him of all the things he wanted, but knew he could not have. They started a stand off. Marcus was growly, but sort of protective and cared for Frankie’s needs as much as possible. That just made Frankie confused, Marcus seemed to hate him, yet he went out of his way to make sure he was faring in the crowded cabin.

Frankie simply was HOT for Marcus, and sharing that small pull out couch was not helping matters, specially with the free BDSM porn audio show they got every night from Arthur and Paul up in the loft. Marcus on his side of the bed not faring any better…They just could not communicate, Marcus refused to talk, and it was driving Frankie CRAZY!!! Until he finally lost it and made Marcus come out with how he really felt…Things got sexy pretty quickly after that, their connection grew strong and intense. They had something special, something REAL. However there was actual REALITY, Frankie couldn’t live in a small town where he would have to live with slurs and hatefulness, and Marcus could not face life in a big city. There was nothing to do but take advantage of the time they had together during the storm…After that they had to say goodbye.

salad and let it snow

Total Holiday Comfort

One of the things I liked the most about this story was how it embraced that reckless optimism we feel around the holidays, the sense that we can really get our very best wish to come true…That we can make a difference in small ways, and big  ways and that those things that we never would dare to hope can actually be within our grasp.

I loved Frankie and his fabulosity sweeping through the elderly of Logan one awesome hairdo at a time. Loved how the town banded together to help those who were hit worst during the storm, and loved how just by being who they were Marcus and Frankie made each other strong enough to reach for their happy ending.

Heartwarming and delightful…And of course very very sexy.

I’m very much looking forward to more Minnesota Snow Stories.

Let is Snow will be released November 26th, from Samhain Publishing, and is available for pre-order here.

Now here is the recipe…Fast, easy, and yummy!

Sweet, tart, creamy and delicious.

Sweet, tart, creamy and delicious.

Greens, Strawberry and Avocado Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette


1 cup of romaine lettuce chopped

2 cups of mixed greens

1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries

1 avocado sliced

For Vanaigrette:

1/2 tablespoon of poppy seed

1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon no-salt salad seasoning (I used Penzey’s Spices Greek Seasoning, but Mrs. Dash or something similar works too)

3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Mix greens, avocado and strawberries in a large bowl (if you are not vegan 1/3 of a cup of feta cheese goes nicely in this salad). Separately in a small plastic container with a good sealable lid put all the vinaigrette ingredients, with oil going last. Close the lid, shake vigorously until well blended. Taste and then pour onto the salad and toss until everything is well coated with the dressing.

Hope you enjoy the book, and yummy salad!

Come back tomorrow to read about Heidi and my pot pie baking date, for the recipe and some lovely pics of us eating pie!

Cheers and happy reading!


Sugar Daddies and Cheap Wine…My Favorite “Age-Gap” stories and the perfect wines to read them with!

I’ve been working on some “Top Ten” lists for a series I want to do, mostly so I can get some sense of order of all the things I’ve read…There is a LOT of volume in this genre. I feel like a veteran for having discovered it about four years ago, I’ve  read A LOT of books. I’m sometimes amazed when I see the sheer amount I’ve read in the years since I discovered M/M romance.  Just recently at GRL in Atlanta, I was surprised by the amount of readers that have just discovered M/M in the past year, and still *gasps* have not gotten around to reading some books that I consider “Classics”. I found myself wanting to regroup, and take some time to work through some of these amazing stories I’ve read, and share my absolute favorites

I’ve been thinking of doing Top Ten lists for awhile, and I figured I’d start with one of my absolute favorites tropes, the May-December couples. One of the beauties of writing about relationships between two men is that there is a lot more freedom, gender roles are not so restrictive and a “significant” age difference actually seems to really benefit some love stories. I have MANY MANY favorites in this category, so I HAD to come up with a cutoff (or I’d have 50 books on this list). I have only counted couples with a “12 year or more” age difference, and in terms of where they rate, I’ve listed them in the order I have read them from earlier reads to most recent, with a BONUS SELECTION at the very end….Of course to make this list complete I had to bring in the other parts of my “addictions”…So for my May-December Romance Favorites List I have also come up with some nice wine to add to the mix.

So here we go!

nowhere ranchNowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan: This book. I can’t even say how much I love it. It’s truly, TRULY one of my most favorite stories. Roe and Travis embody acceptance and finding home in the person who you love. The idea that the person you love can give you what you need with respect and tenderness…Just slays me EVERY TIME. This book has very intense erotica, and it will push those readers who are not very into BDSM, but it is a wonderful love story. I actually had a chat with Heidi during GRL about how this story came to be and it only made it more special.

Here is what she had to say:

“My inspiration for Nowhere Ranch was my friend Jan prepping to marry her partner of fifteen years but having to wade through caustic, painful naysaying from her family. Jan did receive hateful letters couched in Christ and “tough love,” and they broke her heart, turning what was meant to be a happy milestone into one fraught with sorrow. As Jan and her partner are also devoted foster parents who made their wedding a dual-ceremony, formally adopting their four children, it made me furious to hear them taken down by people who couldn’t see past the fact that Jan and Sarah were both women and some dusty old book said that wasn’t right.

 Roe appeared in my head one day as I washed dishes, fuming about Jan’s situation–he started talking, and I wrote down what he said. I never dreamed the story about my friend Jan’s wedding would end up with such intense kink, but once it started I embraced it. I wanted them to be as “taboo” as they could be and yet so loving and wonderful only those with hearts of stone could say they would be bad parents, bad people. For me the story has always been about how dangerous it is to not see people for who they are, to let our fears and presuppositions get in the way of the real people beneath.”
This story is genuine and wonderful. I’ve read it many, many times. It is an absolutely a MUST READ for any serious M/M fan, and for those who have not read it in a while it holds up on the re-read AMAZINGLY.
Slow BloomSlow Bloom by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox: This one is an early read, and still one of my favorites. Very heavy on the erotica (delightful cross-dressing kink…YUM) and a very humorous and DEEP romance. Jack is a journalist in his late forties and Ricky is his neighbor’s son home for the summer from college. Things get HOT and HEAVY and SMEXY very FAST with these men and things progress slowly but surely to a charming love story. Ricky and Jack are the embodiment for this saying…You want an older lover in your younger years to teach how to enjoy sex, and an younger lover in your older years to remind you why you love it
goldilocks and his three bsa man a jersey and tight endThe Goldilocks Series by Am Riley (Book#1 Goldilocks and his Three Bears; Book#2 A Man, A Jersey and a Tight End): First of all just from the titles and the covers you can infer you are in for a MAJOR ROMP!! Brian is a blonde spastic twink trying to make it in LA, one night he goes to a leather club and meets a HOT LEATHER DADDY named Paul, and when I say daddy, I mean D-A-D-D-Y…They go to Paul’s (Daddy) house and things are perfect,…But Paul has to go away, and Brian is lonely again…One day Brian is walking around town and meets a BIG MOMMA BEAR…Ok it’s a dudenamed Jim, but he is cuddly and a caretaker and well Brian needs to be taken care of…He discovers Jim and Paul are roommates…Then Jim leaves too, and while Brian is plantsitting for him he runs into the third roommate, a stocky bear who just loves TO PLAY…These books are HIGH on the kink, and it is a full on clusterfuck of men doing all kids of naughty things, but the relationships are great. There is a lot to this book reagarding the dynamics of D/s couples, their needs and how it is so important to find someone who can give you what you need, while loving you. I’ve read these a few times. It’s intense in the kink, and definitely not for everyone, but I love the men and how they traverse the complications of polyamourous relationships.
This one is a stretch for those that like it nice and simple…But it is FUN, HOT and so so different, why not try it?
its not shakespeareIt’s Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane: If any of you have read any of my reviews for Ms. Lane you know that Amy Lane is MY LADY. Her books are a soothing balm to my soul, and everything she writes I love…This one though, THIS BOOK, it’s very close to my heart…I myself am in an interracial relationship. I am Latina, my husband is white, and my cousin Rafael and his partner could be James and Rafi. Seriously I love this book, because it captures the beauty of, as Amy puts it, finding deep good love where two people meet halfway. So, given that these men are totally close to my reckless romantic little heart I asked (begged!) Miss Lane if she could ask Rafi and James what it was like to be with each other.
Here’s what they said! :O)
TB: Rafi what is it like to have an older lover?

Rafi: Jimmy ain’t that old–but you know, that old man can toss a mean salad, you feel me?

TB: So Jimmy? or Umm Do you prefer James, what do you find you enjoy the most about having a younger lover?
James *blushing*: Uhm, playfulness. He likes to play, and it makes me happy. You need to remember how to play or you get old.
Rafi *blushing now too*: Aw, man– and the fact that he says nice shit like that.
So *ahem* now that we’ve heard from the guys themselves…I asked Amy what the perfect romantic evening meal would be for her guys…This blog has food and wine in it after all…
Her answer:  Rafi and James? Something surprising that would fascinate Rafi and delight James.  Something like a boat ride in the bay and dinner with a view of the ocean, or sipping wine on a balcony after watching bull races– as long as Marlowe was there too. 
Like I said this book was a pleasure for me because it got the dynamics of interracial couples so well, so I wanted to know from Amy who inspired these characters…
TB: Amy what was your inspiration for Rafi/James and their story?

AL: Rafael came from my students, and from the students I saw growing up to be productive, happy people, even if it wasn’t the way academia thought they should be growing up to be productive, happy people.  James came from the middle-aged divorcees I kept running into–they were trying so hard not to be bitter, trying so hard to find something to believe.

So Rafi and James, amazing and two of my all time favorites. Completely and totally worth a read.
bad boyfriendBad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell: Oh sweet heavenly porn gods…Eli and Quinn. Just ummmm….I love this book! First of all the erotica is EXQUISITE, like delicious. This book is one of those classic premises, younger affeiminate guy with older assertive (Ex-Navy) man…The thing is Eli he has NO SCRIPT, he breaks all the rules, and Quinn is just kind of in awe of this amazing thing that is just plowing through his life. The erotica in this book is second to none, even for K.A, who can BRING IT with the sexy. I’ve read this book over and over, and every time I fall in love with these two. It is a MUST read for any M/M Romance fan. Cannot recommend it enough.

WINE BREAK: The Younger, The Better

protosI promised some wine selections. For my first pick I have a wine that is always better when it’s younger…White wines usually are, this one is a 2012 Spanish Verdejo from the Protos Wineries. It is just delicious, not too fruity, not too tart. Pretty much the perfect glass of white wine. For about $13 bucks a bottle it’s also great value.
out in the fieldOut in The Field by Kate McMurray: This is my book. Mine.  Like the one I wanted from the moment I read my first romance novel. Rationally I know Kate didn’t actually write it for ME, since she didn’t acutally know me when she wrote it. But she might as well have! This book is perfect. Just how I wanted a story like this to go. First of all, baseball. Second, New York City. Third, a Dominican player! My wishlist…This book for any baseball fan is a delight, and the way these men loved the game and how they loved each other…BIG LOVE. This one is a gem. Again with the 1,200 re-reads. Still I fall in love with them every time.
 acrobatAcrobat by Mary Calmes: Nate and Dreo…What can one possibly say? Mary Calmes writes the Alpha-Male like NO ONE in this genre, she makes these men that are so passtionate, and so protective of the ones they love. She calls to that primal thing in all of us, for some, it’s the need to be protected, for others is the need to care and keep our loved ones safe. The age difference between Nate and Dreo is 17 years, yet they are equals, they are without a doubt one of my all-time favorites.
I love the story of how these characters came to life for Mary, and how Anne Cain came up with the cover, which in my opinion is a true work of art…Here is what Mary has to say about how
Acrobat came to be:
I was inspired to write Acrobat after seeing Steve Walker’s painting Parallel Dreams
it is so beautiful and I got to thinking, what is the story of these two men? After I thought about it, I realized that the man you could see most in the painting was not the one with the story, but actually the one who was obscured. And the cover that Anne Cain ended up creating kept that idea intact. Anne’s words in the dedication of Acrobat, for Steve Walker, are truly beautiful. I would urge everyone to take a moment and look at all of his stunning work.
So there is the backstory on Acrobat, I also encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to go and see Andrew Walker’s work it’s beautiful.
sidecarSidecar by Amy Lane: Two Amy Lane books? Umm yeah!!! This is what you can call the classic epic love stories, spans through years, decades. Two men who love each other deeply, but need to get to a place where there love has enough roots to never falter. So again Amy was kind enough to get me some boy time to ask some questions and here is what they said:
TB: Josiah, what do you find you enjoy the most about having a younger lover?
Josiah *uncomfortably*:  It’s not the age so much as the vocation.  The kid can work a computer like no one’s business.
TB: How about you Casey, what is it like to have an older lover?
Casey: Having an older lover?  Mostly, the best thing about having an older lover is that he’s Joe. If he was Joe my age, he’d still be Joe.  If he was Joe younger than me, he’d still be Joe.
Josiah *kissing Casey’s knuckles*:  Jesus, kid.  You want honest? 
Josiah: Okay. The having someone by your side.  That’s all you can ever ask. 

There you have it…Love these guys and that beautiful cover…Get choked up just thinking about this love story.

in his secret lifeIn His Secret Life by Mel Bossa:  Mel Bossa is the author of two of my most favorite books from ALL the books I’ve read in this genre. This book right here is one of them. It’s a long affair and these guys go thorugh a lot in order to finally end up together. It is an unusual story and gutwrenching at times, but man what a love story. Allan Waterhouse and Davinder Lamontagne…The house of water and the mountain. Even their names came together like poetry.
Loved them completely and suffered with them the whole way through. This is not a warm and fuzzy book, and I almost would not catergorize it as a romance, but it is EXCELLENT writing, and for those up for a book more in the “Fiction” than the “Romance” genre this one is a winner.
the legend of teh apache kidThe Legend of The Apache Kid by Sarah Black: I call Sarah Black the “Warrior Poetess” of M/M romance, she is seriously one of the most courageous writers I’ve ever read. She just writes stuff that MATTERS, every time and she does it with gentleness that is brilliant. Her men can be protectors, and they can be fragile wounded souls, but the common denominator is a strong spirit. Her men have an overwhelming capacity to love. Johny Bravo (and hello what a name!) is a man who needs to be mended a bit, and Raine is a man that has been waiting for the love of his life to come. It is such a beautiful love story. Every character is magnificent, including Salome, Johny’s horse, whose name I let Sarah borrow. :O) This book is a treasure.


I love 90+ Cellars their taste for value cannot be beat! For my second wine choice I picked one which like many of  the characeters in my book picks only gets better with time. California Cabernet Sauvignons are fabuliscious. This 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley California is everything a Cab should be, deep flavor, chocolatey…YUM…and the price is amazing…About $17.99, but this really is about a $25.00 bottle of wine. If you see it GET IT. It’s nice too sip slowly. You can’t improvise experience people.


2403922englor affairregelence rakeThe Sci-Regency Series by J.L. Langley: I was going to leave this blank, because seriously do you even need a reason to read books with covers like these???? But, I guess I should say something! I chose the whole series, (so far! I hope the next book is out before I get my AARP card!) because all the books have characters with a pairing of a younger man, with a more Alpha/Protective counterpart. The world in this book is fabulous, and the all the guys are great. How can you go wrong in a futuristic world that lives in a Regency like society. There are aristocrats, blushing virgins, spaces pirates, lords, princes…THE WHOLE SHEBANG BABY!!!…And NO LADIES. All peni all the time…If that last statement won’t get you reading. I GIVE UP! Start with My Fair Captain and work yourself up…You won’t want to stop.
This is all for me my peeps!! Hope you enjoy the list, and find stuff you haven’t tried before. I am working on my Top Ten Sweehearts and Top Ten Cowboys  for the next few weeks, so check in soon!
Cheers and happy reading!

The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles and the first Red of the Season.

17730586 I’d just like to start by saying that this book….Lived up to the HYPE and then some!

Let’s see what can I say that already hasn’t been said already? First off, this book REALLY IS a great read. It’s a fabulous mystery/horror story with all the elements that I look forward to when I open up a thriller. The author HAS to be a Sherlock Holmes/HP Lovecraft fan, because the mix of disturbing/creepy, fast paced adventure, humor, with an engrossing complex mystery that spilled into an, for lack of better words, extremely appealing horror story was absolutely top notch…And then the romance. That’s where this author went for “builp-up” that crescendoed to a breathless love scene that left me equally satisfied AND wanting more. The coming together here was TOTALLY worth waiting for. Perfectly timed, it wasn’t a distraction from the mystery (which was the real meat of the story) and didn’t at all feel gratuitious it felt like a REWARD!

It had been A LONG WHILE since I read a book in M/M that I had this much fun with. The setting was fantastic (so creepy and interesting). The writing superb, the characters palpable and very much alive on the page), the pacing just right…Everything made for a real treat. That’s all independent of the fact that this is a DEBUT novel!

Now that the nights are getting chillier and the evenings are getting LONGER and darker…I needed a wine to go with this book that would STAND UP to the blood curling delight that was this story. So, to sip while I read about Lucien and Stephen’s adventures in the English coutryside I chose the  2010 Garnache from Viña Borgia wineries in Spain. This wine has incredible depth, and it’s just bursting with delicious raspberry and mulberry notes, with a finish that is surprisingly bright. It is EXTREMELY drinkable and at $6.99 a bottle you cannot ask for more out of a bottle of wine. PERFECT to go with this story that is just FULL of deliciousness. Now more on the story! imagesCAZL430F

Lucien Vaudrey has come back to the UK after 17 years in China to deal with the aftermath of both his father and brother commiting suicide. Leaving him as sole heir of their estate and rightful holder of a Lordship. Lucien is not up to this, his relationship with his family was not a good one. His brother was a monster and his father his enabler. He hates the home he grew up in, and to make things worse he is pretty sure someone has put a curse on him…That’s where Stephen Day comes in. Day is a “practitioner” of magic and has come with high recommendations…Lucien is not a fan of witches or sorcerers, but things are getting weirder and he’s afraid for his life. His faithful companion and valet Merrick agrees that something needs to happen soon, because Lucien seems to be losing control of himself.

Once Day comes into the picture he helps with the immediate curse on Lucien he quickly realizes that there are powerful things in motion that are a threat to Lucien. Even though Stephen should hate everyone with the Vaudrey last name he is a man who believes in justice and he cannot walk away from the evil that he sees sorrounding the man. Stephen wants to stay in Piper (the Vaudrey family estate) and figure what is with the Magpies ALL OVER THE PLACE and what’s more there is way too much juju going for a little countryside town?!?! There’s also the fact that EVERYONE hates the Vaudreys…Also Lucien’s advances are getting harder to resist. Once Lucien starts getting under Stephen’s skin he is drawn to the man more and more…After all just because he’s fair minded doesn’t mean he can’t fall for the charm of the rakish Lord Crane.

So, yeah this book was entirely enjoyable in every sense of the word. I loved every second, and I’m super excited to hear there will be more from Stephen, Lucien and Merrick the valet/sidekick extraoridnare. I look forward to more intricate, fast paced adventures with a HEALTHY dose of hard core toppy smexing…Seriously what more could a girl ask for?!?!?!

I HIGHLY HIGHY recommend this one,  it’s for sale at so go there and treat yoursef to an absolutely winner combo with this book and wine pairing!

Cheers and Happy Reading!


Interview with ZA Maxfield for My Cowboy Heart Blog Tour

My Cowboy HeartHello ALL! I AM SOOOOOOOOOO excited for today! ZA Maxfield came out with her wonderful cowboy love story My Cowboy Heart released this past Tuesday through Inter Mix Publishing. This is exciting on various fronts. New publisher for ZAM, COWBOY, a series and did I mention cowboys? As always ZAM did not only not disappoint even a little bit, but managed to raise the bar in what I will be expecting from gay cowboys stories in the future.

As part of the Blog Tour for My Cowboy Heart Ms Mazfield has graciously stopped by my little corner of the blogeshere to answer some questions about her new book, M/M Romance as a genre, cowboy friendly foods, and her future plans for the men of the J Bar Ranch! So without further a do…An Interview with the most fabulous ZA Maxfield!

The Tipsy Bibliophile: In the past you have explored a wide range of storylines in your books, but you have rarely gone for the more “traditional” themes. Tell us a little bit about why you decided to go for a cowboy story?

 ZA Maxfield: I’ve always loved Cowboy stories. Cowboys come from the larger group of archetypes that include knights and wandering samurai. They have a code of honor. Sometimes they’re taming the land, sometimes they’re protecting the innocent. Sometimes it’s cowboys versus society. Versus progress. They’re a dying breed. It makes for great drama.

 tTB: What surprised you the most about how this story developed?

 ZAM: What surprised me the most is that once I got rolling, I was hitting on the same three themes that appear in all my books: Romantic love, family, and redemption. This shows up in everything I write, even when I try to totally switch things up. I was talking with a friend on the phone and we decided it’s my holy trinity. I’m a three-note musical scale.

 tTB: To me this book is one of your most “True Blue” romances, just full of all the stuff that makes a great romance story, but at the same time there were very heavy subjects surrounding the main characters. Do you think that is what makes the M/M genre so unique? That you can still have a classic romance despite characters who are not only flawed but have been broken.

 ZAM: I don’t necessarily think that’s unique in m/m. My favorite romance writers (of course this may be a personal taste thing) write hopelessly flawed characters. The joy is seeing how they’ve written this very flawed man or woman a happy ending. I think the guy or girl who is damaged goods is what romance is all about. We love broken characters way more than undamaged ones.

 The books that I can’t put down are the ones with characters I must see succeed in love, in life. I need for them to get their happy ending. I guess that’s why I write the types of books I write as well.

 I’m driven by empathy. When I feel for the character, when I can relate to what makes his yearning more poignant, I’m in palm of the writer’s hand so to speak. As a writer my goal has always been to write classic romance novel with gay characters. It’s tough to do, because so many traditional romance plots include inherent gender-based power imbalance. But I strive!

 tTB: This blog is a bit different in that I pair my book reviews with wine and food that I think would go well with the story. For Crispin and Speed I’ve made stuffed roasted poblano peppers with a New Mexican chile sauce and a delicious Spanish Verdejo…What would the guys think of my food choice for them?

 zAM: I think my Cowboys would be delighted to pull up those scarred wooden dining chairs to sit down and eat hearty. I do think that Speed might enjoy a beer more — he’s not big on wine, whereas Crispin will probably try to coax you out of that old bottle of Respoado Tequila you’ve been hiding.

 Oh, and can I come for dinner too? That sounds absolutely delicious!

 tTB:  So what is next for the cowboys at the J-Bar Ranch? Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect from the next book in the series?

 ZAM: Oh, my gosh. What can I say. Jimmy is in big trouble. He’s been drinking like a fish and Eddie and Boss Malloy have finally had enough. In one way, they’re only looking out for him, you know? What happens if Mrs. Jenkins decides to sell up? Who’s going to hire some drunken cowboy?

 Maybe Eddie goes about things all wrong by getting Jimmy drunk and shoving him into his truck and taking him to an isolated mountain where there’s nothing to do but dry out and watch the snow fall.

 Jimmy’s not happy. Eddie’s in over his head trying to help him. Eddie calls his friend Don, who loaned him the cabin in the first place, and asks for help. Problem is, Don has a thing for cowboys, and as far as he’s concerned, if one cowboy in his bed is good, then two must be better.

 Eddie and Don might be exactly what Jimmy needs. Or they might be more than he can handle… STAY TUNED for My Heartache Cowboy! Coming in January…

Well there you have it folks! I had a lovely time reading ZAM’s responses to my questions, she really is one of my true favorites in this genre. My Cowboy Heart is a book that lives up to ZAM’s solid reputation, a fantastic romance, with great humor, fabulous erotica, awesome secondary characters and a solid story to back it all up. If you have not read it, go and GET IT NOW it is on sale at here at

As for the next installment in the series, Jimmy and Eddie’s story My Heartache Cowboy, is availabe for pre-order on

I’ll end it here for now, but stay stuned, because later today I’ll be posting my review for this awesome book with the recipe for the poblano peppers which are AMAZING! Thanks again to ZAM for stopping by and to you guys for taking the time see what I am up to!

Cheers and Happy Reading!