Petit Four

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“Petit Four”

Blurb: Cake is often a major part of life’s celebrations, both big and small. From birthdays to wedding days, cake, in all its delectable concoctions, marks joyous occasions with a sweetness that can’t be beat. But even better is the love that is shared when two people connect over a sweet confection. Maybe it’s a cute new guy wreaking havoc on a broken heart, or a beautiful woman testing the limits of love, or an old beau stirring up long lost desires. Whatever the circumstances, cake can always be relied upon to save the day when it comes to affairs of the heart. In this collection of short stories, cake is the delicious center around which each tale unfolds and romance blooms.

When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.

From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love.

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Excerpt for “Aprez Vous” by Lucie Simone

“Does your mother know you packed that outfit?” Tara said to the empty room. She doubted her sister would have let Marissa out of the house knowing that skirt was in her suitcase. Meg was what magazines called a ‘helicopter parent.’ It was practically a miracle that she’d even let Marissa go on this trip. But Tara had assured her that she’d keep Marissa out of trouble. Besides, it was her job as an aunt to spoil her rotten.

Growing up in the quiet suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, Meg and Tara had been raised on a proper Southern diet of hospitality, grace, and censure. While Meg was always the ‘good girl,’ Tara had acquired a more rebellious reputation in her teen years with her green Doc Martens, purple hair, and passionate political debates. In fact, her summer excursion to Europe only happened because she had earned a full ride to New York University and her father figured she deserved a bit of fun before freshman year. Whereas Meg had always been tied to their mother’s apron strings, Tara was Daddy’s girl. And it was his word that ruled the household.

Now, Tara slipped on her sandals and dropped her bag on the console table in the foyer. Beyond the French doors in the living room, the sun was indeed descending past the horizon, and soon the Eiffel Tower would burst into light. They’d never make it to the park in time for the show.

She went into the kitchen and retrieved the complimentary bottle of champagne from the refrigerator, a bottle of sparking water for Marissa, and two flutes from the cupboard, and headed out to the balcony. Settling in on the chaise lounge, she saw her niece step into the living room wearing a pair of jeans, Vans, and a T-Shirt emblazoned with Che Guevara’s image. Well, there was a little Tara in her after all.

“Munchkin! Out here,” Tara called.

Marissa hurried out onto the balcony. “What’s going on?”

“We won’t make it in time for the light show, so let’s watch it from here.”

Marissa took a seat, folding her legs under her as Tara carefully opened the bottle of champagne, wrapping a towel around the top and twisting until the familiar ‘pop,’ signaling a celebration, rang out.

“Oh, but it didn’t fizz all over the place,” Marissa said, slightly disappointed.

“That only happens to amateurs.”

Marissa picked up one of the flutes from the table between them and held it out to Tara.

“Nope. Sparkling water for you, little Miss.

“But we’re in France. It’s legal here.”

“Not on my watch. Your mother would have my head.”

“Okay,” Marissa sighed, twisting the cap off the bottle of Perrier as the last ray of sunshine slid beneath the horizon.

“Watch,” Tara said, pointing with her glass at the Eiffel Tower in the near distance as it exploded into sparkling light.

It blazed white and gold and a huge spotlight erupted from the top of the tower like a beacon. Both women watched in silence for the next ten minutes as the structure twinkled in the darkness, Tara gazing part of the time at Marissa, her face aglow with joy and wonder. She remembered that feeling, the first time she saw the tower light up. The feeling that anything was possible. It was as captivating then as it was now. And as the lights settled into a steady golden hue, she lifted her glass of champagne in a toast.

“To Paris,” Marissa said, raising her flute.

“To new memories,” Tara said, clinking her glass against her niece’s.

LucieSimonePic2**About Lucie Simone: Lucie Simone has a passion for travel, romance and all things chick lit. She also has a degree in Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Television Production. She is the author of novels, Hollywood Ending and Picture Perfect, both offering an insider’s take on life in the City of Angels. Her love of comedy (and living under the delusion that she might one day be an actress) resulted in a stint studying improvisation, which, ironically enough, taught her to be a better writer. She lives in Los Angeles (and loves it), but considers New York City her imaginary second home and visits the Big Apple as often as her bank account will allow. For more information on Lucie, please visit her website at www.luciesimone.com.

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Excerpt for “Cake Therapy” by Cindy Arora

  The first time I met Tammy Kovac, she was eating a slice of cake at her cluttered desk while angrily telling someone on the phone to “kiss her well-toned ass” right before she slammed the phone down so hard I was sure it would burst in her hands.

I clutched the paperwork Human Resources had given me and took a few steps back as I reconsidered introducing myself. Suddenly the idea of working with ‘Tammy the Terror’ didnt seem as exciting as it did, well…terrifying.

“What kind of cake do you like?” She swiveled her desk chair to face me, and I stumbled back, surprised she knew I was hovering nervously behind her.  She stared impatiently at me, and I found myself speechless as I took in my first impression of the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. She was disarmingly pretty, in that natural way that girls appreciate and admire. Her sandy blonde hair was neatly pulled into a high ponytail, her brown eyes looked at me curiously, and her lips were glossed in a peaches-n-cream sheen giving her a girl-next-door look. But you could feel the trouble. She had that glint about her that revealed she could somehow convince you to do things you never thought you would or could.

It was an instant girl crush for me. But the feeling was not mutual.

I don’t like cake,” I answered truthfully. “Ive just never really been a big fan of sweets, and honestly, its a waste of calories if you think about it.”

A. Waste. Of. Calories? Who says absurd things like that?” Tammy looked at me with a mixture of outraged interest and disappointment. She leaned over and picked up my freshly printed press badge I had proudly put on just a few moments earlier.

Olivia Cisneros, Staff Reporter, SF Bridge News

 “My mom used to always say cake is the great uniter. It can bring people together in ways that national leaders havent even figured out yet.”

I blinked at her, still unsure of where all this cake talk was going to lead to.

You do realize its the only food that can make an entire room of virtual strangers burst into song?”

“You mean, ‘Happy Birthday?’” I said confused, realizing that she was right, but also never having really seen it as a social commentary. But she did have a point.

She gave me an exasperated look right before she picked up the police scanner sitting on her desk that buzzed with inaudible chatter. She turned the volume up and leaned in to make out what the dispatchers were saying on the other end.

“Do we need to head out?” I asked her and handed her my paperwork listing her as my mentor for the first three months at SF Bridge News. She quickly read through the paperwork and handed it back to me.

“No, its a standard robbery call. Youll get the details from the Watch Commander later.”

She tossed the scanner onto the desk, and I stared at it longingly.

“Listen, O-Livia, cake isnt just something you have on your birthday. And its definitely not something you claim not to like because of calories. Wheres your lust for life? Cake has history, its a tradition, and it tastes utterly fantastic when everything else is falling apart. And around here, in this never-ending hamster wheel that is journalism, the world falls apart every five minutes, so you better get used to it.”

CindyAroraPic**About Cindy Arora: Cindy Arora was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register and Sacramento Magazine. She’s been published in Saveur, Tasting Table, Orange Coast Magazine and Fodor’s. She’s also mama to an adorable little boy, a feminist, a whiskey enthusiast, and proud to call herself a Chick Lit author. She is the author of Heartbreak Cake, a delicious debut novel, and a contributor to the anthology, Merry & Bright, with her story, “Christmas at Mulberry Inn.” To learn more about Cindy, please visit www.cindyarora.com.

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Excerpt for “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson

He gazed into the menu while she watched him, thinking what a lovely suit he was wearing. It was navy blue and beautifully cut, probably very expensive, worn with an open-necked shirt. She was staring at his neck when he looked up and into her eyes. Despite his cool demeanour, she saw a flicker of something. He had gorgeous brown eyes, soft around the edges, the colour of coffee cake, and they were smiling.

“Now, what would you recommend from the menu?” he asked.

Ooh, we have an extensive cake range, sir. All classic recipes, but I particularly like the Black Forest,” she said, warming to her favourite subject—cake. “I’m a purist when it comes to the old Black Forest combo:chocolate, cherries, kirsch. It speaks for itself, in my view. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” She said this in an American accent and immediately regretted it. She wasn’t very good at accents, and it came out all wrong.

He smiled, clearly trying not to laugh at her, but she carried on anyway. “We also do a good coffee and walnut. What’s not to love? Delicious walnut sponge made with freshly ground coffee, which is echoed in the rich buttercream. I love coffee and walnut, but I make it at home with coffee liqueur for an extra kick. It makes it a little more, I don’t know, somehow edgier. I mean, coffee and walnut can be a bit of a well-worn cliché, so you need to ‘sex it up’ a little.”

He watched her patiently. She couldn’t tell whether he was bored or mesmerised by her cake monologue.

“The same applies to my grown-up lemon cupcakes. Classic recipe with a sexy twist…limoncello.” She said this with an awful Italian accent and kissed her fingers. He didn’t flinch. She felt rather silly. Why did she feel the need to get ‘in character’ with every cake she mentioned?

“Then, next on the menu is lemon drizzle cake,” she continued, being more serious now. “Another favourite. It’s citrusy and bittersweet and makes your jaws ache. I like to add a little fresh lemon zest just before it leaves the kitchen, to give that lemony punch. The aroma always reminds me of summer. Then, there are some bad boy brownies. Oh, and we have kickass Battenberg. Lovely almondy marzipan edged around cute little squares of pink and yellow sponge. But then there’s also chocolate fudge cake, which is delicious warm, bathed in ice cream.” Her pen was now poised over her notebook. “So what will it be?”

“I’m sorry, could you tell me again? I’ve forgotten what you said.”

Milly was open-mouthed, until she realised he was teasing. “Ha. It would take me hours to say all that again. I’m glad I don’t have to choose. I wouldn’t know what to pick. Hell, I’d order them all.” She giggled.

“Well, if that’s your considered advice? Okay.” He put down the menu. “And I’ll have a pot of Earl Grey tea to go with that.”

“To go with….”

“To go with the cake.”

“Yes, but which cake?”

“The ones you recommended.”

“But I recommended them all.”

“Yes, and I’d like to try them all.”

“When I said, if it were me, I’d order them all, I didn’t mean…”

“You’re my waitress. You suggested I order them all, so I’m taking your advice. As I am paying for them, I believe I can order as many cakes as I like.”

“Of course.” She felt stupid again.

“Oh, I see there are also cupcakes on the menu, too?”

She was hoping the cupcakes didn’t come up, but she had to be honest.

Well, I’m afraid they aren’t ready, sir.”

“Oh, what a disappointment. I’d heard they were quite good here.”

“Yes. It’s just…the baker had a few technical problems, and he had to leave early.”

“Technical problems? With cupcakes? That’s a new one.”

She felt awkward now. “They are only out of the oven and need frosting. I haven’t had time to do them yet.”

“I could try one without?”

“A naked cupcake? I’m sorry, I couldn’t serve an undressed cupcake. It would be indecent.”

SueWatsonPic**About Sue Watson: Sue Watson is a former BBC TV Producer who woke up one morning to the realisation that there was no such thing as ‘having it all.’ Marriage, motherhood and a full-time career were taking over her life and what she really wanted to do was stay home all day, bake and eat cake, watch reality TV and write… in that order. So she quit the day job, baked a year’s supply of cupcakes and chased the dream. What followed was a lot of cake and many hours in the company of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey,’  ‘The Biggest Loser,’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ During this, time Sue also managed to write a few books too:  Fat Girls and Fairy CakesYounger, Thinner, Blonder; Love, Lies and Lemon Cake; and her latest cake offering, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake. Learn more about Sue by visiting www.suewatsonbooks.com.

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Excerpt for “Her Charms” by Joel Zlotnik

For the last eight months she’s been bringing him cupcakes more or less once a week. The first full batch was waiting for him on his doorstep when he got home from City Hall the day after their date at The Vault. He was half a step away from a loafer covered in red velvet and vanilla buttercream frosting before the shiny silver pizza charm caught his eye. It sat atop the cupcake in the center of the plate, surrounded by five tasty companions. He brought them inside and picked up the center cupcake. A little snack before dinner couldn’t hurt, could it? He slowly peeled away the liner, releasing the scent of the red velvet. As it mixed with the sweet aroma of the buttercream, he wondered if one could be a cupcake connoisseur. ‘Have you tried the ’06 Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate? An excellent vintage for sure, but the ’08 Betty Crocker Molten Chocolate is life altering.’ Scott laughed out loud and it echoed through the empty house. He took a bite and decided he should in fact become a cupcake connoisseur. Another bite and he freed the cupcake completely from its liner where he noticed what looked like writing. He brushed away a few red crumbs from the waxy paper and pulled his steel-rimmed reading glasses from the inside pocket of his sport coat that he had hung on the stool at the kitchen counter. He read and re-read the note and his whole body felt like smiling.

Sweetest S,

Because we never did get dessert!

XoXo

N

He unwrapped the remaining cupcakes hoping for more messages but there was only the one. After having another for breakfast the next morning, he decided to bring the rest into work. The quizzical looks as to why there were unwrapped cupcakes in the break room quickly evaporated after the first bites. His secretary Laurie popped her head in his office just as she was polishing off half of one herself.

“Good morning, Mayor. So the cupcake lady strikes again?” She tapped her fingers against the doorway grinning like a teenager probing her BFF for first date details.

“Good morning to you,” Scott shot back with just enough of a grimace to shut down her inquiry. “I’ll pass along that you liked them.”

Laurie came with the office when Scott got elected. She was in her late twenties, a five-foot-two fireball of energy who spoke so fast, her words flew from her mouth like a speeding freight train. She took an interest in Scott that landed somewhere between mild crush and big brother. And in either case, the fact that her boss was the mayor—a position that usually commanded at least a hint of respect—seemed of little consequence to Laurie.

“Will you just answer one question?” And before he could respond, she added, “Do you think we’ll be getting more? I love, love, love cupcakes.”

“Are you giggling, Laurie?” Scott lowered his voice, but was having a hard time covering up his amusement.

“That’s a yes, isn’t it?”

“Get to work, Laurie.”

JoelZlotnikPic**About Joel Zlotnik: Joel Zlotnik is a former Southern California journalist who was lucky enough to find a second career on the other side of the notepad, answering questions instead of asking them. He recently cancelled his cable so he would write more and quickly discovered online binge watching. You can find him living at the beach in South Orange County, where he listens to records, reads and watches the waves. Find some of his essays and short fiction at www.joelzlotnik.com.

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**Click HERE to see other stops on the “Petit Four” Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour!

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Tequila and Tea Bags

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“Tequila & Tea Bags” by Laura Barnard

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

Tequila&TeaBagsExcerpt**Buy “Tequila & Tea Bags”:

Amazon – US   Amazon – UK

**Contact author, Laura Barnard:

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The Shadows Series

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“The Shadows Series” by Marni Mann

Blurbs:

Reader’s Beware: This is not your mother’s romance, nor is there a rich, playboy millionaire seducing an innocent virgin. Charlie leads a passionate, controversial, and thought-provoking life – the sex scenes will make you blush, the twists will make you gasp in disbelief and the characters’ angst and pain will make your heart ache. Prepare to dive into a highly sensual, unique storyline with substance and a touch of darkness – as well as explicit language and descriptive sexual content. After all, real life is lived in the shadows, and Marni will take you there. But love can linger in the darkness….

Seductive Shadows (Book One)

Charlie is a sensually-inspired art student, desperately seeking an escape from the abusive past that haunts her and a tragic accident that emptied her heart. Scarred and unable to love, her yearning for physical pleasure leads her into a tantalizing, dangerous world of power and seduction. The anonymity of the deal offers security; the money brings financial freedom and the madam is the mother figure she longs for.

But the thrill of the mansion and its arousing dominance quickly fades when she meets renowned-yet-mysterious Cameron Hardy, whose intense baby blue eyes send a nervous flutter through her core. Cameron is sexy, and not in a subtle way. He stimulates Charlie’s art, her intellect and her desires. Just as he begins to break through her emotional boundaries, she discovers a devastating connection between her past and her scandalous work at the mansion, shattering everything she thought to be true.

Provocative, intoxicating and erotic, Seductive Shadows is the unforgettable tale of a young woman’s self-discovery as she learns to forgive, to love and be loved, and to find redemption amidst a remarkable journey that will captivate your mind and stimulate your soul.

Seductive Secrecy (Book Two)

“We were two broken souls who had found each other in a world of shadows. We were held together by a connection of secrets, dark and fearful and reluctant to leave. Their depth was seductive and overwhelming, an endless ocean of black that threatened to cover the brilliance we kept reaching for with each other.”

With her art career flourishing and the mansion predators no longer a threat, Charlie is creating a new life. Her desires have changed, and she has a chance at a healthy, loving relationship with Cameron–if they can bury the memories and doubts that plague them.

Can they overcome the destruction of their clouded pasts, or will the revelation of more painful, shocking secrets pull them back into the shadows?

These books are for mature audiences. They contain explicit language and sexual content.

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Excerpt:

“It was well worth the wait to see you like this,” he said.

Keeping my eyes fixed on him, I turned on my heels so he could see both sides, and completed the full twist. “You have excellent taste.”

He shook his head. “You’d look good in anything.”

I could tell by the way he gripped the molding of the door that he was having a hard time keeping his hands off me. As much as I needed them on my body, the feeling of want that consumed me felt so good that I could tolerate it for a little longer.

“Sometimes I look at you and I’m amazed that you’re mine.”

I knew the words had come from his mouth, but it felt as if I had spoken them. It was exactly what I’d been thinking; that, after everything we had experienced together, everything he knew about me, he still treated me the way he did. He still wanted me as much as he had before he knew the truth. He showed me continuously that he wanted me even more. And I felt the same. Cameron made me insatiable; as much as he gave me, I wanted to be even closer than we were. I wanted his breath to come from my mouth every time I exhaled.

He didn’t take a step forward. He just reached out his hand and felt along the shrug, following the fabric until he arrived at the knot between my breasts. He untied both sides and pulled it off my shoulders. His fingers then circled around me, and without warning he yanked me toward him. My palms settled on his chest, my mouth moving closer to his as he had bent his neck to reach me. Our lips didn’t touch; they hovered, each waiting for the other to close the gap.

We simmered in the temptation.

He was the first one to move. His mouth finally crushed against mine, his tongue dipping inside with each kiss. After several, he pulled away. We were both left breathless, our chests rising and falling as we tried to calm ourselves.

“Walk to the bed,” he ordered.

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MarniMannPic**About author Marni Mann:

Best-selling author Marni Mann, knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Mann was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts sexy, titillating stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotion. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and their two dogs who subsequently have been characters in her books. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling to new locations, and devouring fabulous books.

**Contact Marni: Website   Facebook   Twitter

**Find the book: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   GoodReads

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Mistletoe Mansion

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“Mistletoe Mansion” by Samantha Tonge

Blurb:

Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.

When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.

So, newly single – and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…

Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?

**Buy links: Amazon UK   Amazon US

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Author, Samantha Tonge

Bio: Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Its fun standalone sequel is From Paris with Love. Mistletoe Mansion stars a new set of characters and is for fans of cupcakes and Christmas!

Contact: Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter

INTERVIEW

What motivated you to write “Mistletoe Mansion”? Society’s obsession with celebrity – how we all love reading the gossip magazines; how some youngsters aspire simply to “be famous”. I wondered what a wannabe celebrity would really think of the dream lifestyle, if she got to live it for a short time. Would it meet her expectations? So my main character cake-making, celebrity-loving Kimmy Jones, finds herself housesitting a mansion, next door to a very famous golfing couple…

Do you have any holiday traditions? We always eat out on Boxing Day which is wonderful – after cooking your heart out on the 25th, it’s great knowing you can kick back you heels the next day, then enjoy the cold cuts in the evening.

Also , we open ALL our presents as soon as we get up on Christmas day!

What was your writing process like for this book? After deciding on the initial idea, I cannot move forward until I have a title! Then I plan the plot, next I look at the characters in depth. Next, a first draft usually takes 4 to 5 months. Then I will rewrite/edit it several times. All of this is broken up with very regular visits to Facebook and Twitter – am, um, lots of snacks!

What is your favorite Christmas song? Ooh, it has to be White Christmas, which features regularly in Mistletoe Mansion, every time a supposed ghost wants to make his presence felt! It is such a cosy, nostalgic-feeling song.

What do you want for Christmas? It’s corny, but happiness and good health – and I wouldn’t say no to some good books and chocolate either!

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Tripping Through

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“Tripping Through” by Michelle Morgan

Blurb:

How can one person attract so much disaster?

Quirky, clumsy, and eager-to-please Karly has more than her fair share of bad luck.

Waaaay more.

We first meet our 29-year-old accountant in her loud (the fire alarm is going off) and smoky (she’s trying to bake) kitchen. During the chaos, Karly is dumped because of misunderstandings over a divorce lawyer she didn’t hire and an affair she didn’t have. This comes just weeks after performing a very efficient audit on a company…that wasn’t actually a client.

Oops.

Single and unemployed, Karly continues tripping through life, both metaphorically and physically. She thinks her luck may be turning when she meets the perfect man but in true-to-Karly form, manages to scare him off. And he isn’t just “not returning her phone calls” scared but more “sprinting away across the parking lot screaming like a banshee” scared.

Crap.

Just as she thinks it can’t get any worse, it inevitably does. Is Karly destined to lead a life of loneliness and poverty or does fate have something else in mind?

Excerpt:

A tall man walked in and was standing there, watching me talk to the receptionist. He wasn’t model, chiselled face, fantasy cabana boy gorgeous, but the quiet kind of attractive you’d notice if you took the time to look past the somewhat old fashioned blue sweater and grandfather type reading glasses on a mid thirties face. The fact that I could make out at least three pens stuck in his chest pocket underneath his sweater made him more endearing. It sounds corny but I honestly thought we had one of those movie of the week, boy sees girl for the first time and birds chirp in the background moments. I got the most incredible feeling from him, like he was totally mesmerized and wanted to know all about me. It took my breath away. Until I noticed the receptionist staring down at my messenger bag. I looked down at it. No, there wasn’t anything unusual about my satchel. Oh. Well, except for the fact that the left side of my skirt had ridden up in between it and my hip and half my underwear was on display. Oh God. I quickly rearranged my clothing back to where it was supposed to be.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Weiss,” the man said once I’d sorted myself out.

I felt like such an idiot as he led me to a small office while making small talk. Sure I’d gotten the feeling that he was looking at me. Half my skirt had been hiked up the side of my body. And of course I’d gotten the feeling he was interested in me. He was, but just as a subject for his klutziness study.

“So, Karly, I’m doing a study on how certain people attract particular situations with the overall goal being to determine any common denominators. It’s my theory that certain people have a higher statistical average of physical disaster.”

“Well, I’m definitely your girl. I mean, I’m not your girl. Not that I wouldn’t want to be. I’m sure you’d be an amazing boyfriend. Not that I really know you. Yet. I mean, not that I’m looking. But if I was, I’m sure you’d be-” God, what was wrong with me? I remembered Nik’s advice when I started to babble: take a deep breath and get to the point. “I fall down a lot.”

“Uh, okay. Well, that’s great. I mean, that’s not great for you, but for me. I mean, it’s not great for me because I want you to fall down, but if you have to anyway, I’m glad that you’re here. I mean-”

He stopped talking, looking confused at what was coming out of his own mouth, as I had been earlier. We looked at each other, shocked, for a second. And then cracked up.

“Why don’t we rewind that bit,” he said with a smile on his face. Oh my God. He did the rewind thing. Just like I did.

“So,” he continued, “as part of the study I’d ask you to keep a journal and submit it for my review. I have a sample that you can pick up from the receptionist on the way out, if you’re still interested.” He smiled his dazzling smile that would have had me donating my organs if he’d asked, even the ones I was still using.

“We’ll also meet every two weeks as a group,” he went on. “I’m hoping to provide some insight on why these things happen more frequently to certain people and maybe even discover how to minimize accidents.”

He continued and I nodded my understanding while subtly checking out his athletic build underneath his loose fitting sweater and well-ironed khakis. He had long legs. They looked strong. I wondered if they were hairy. Gosh, what was wrong with me? I wasn’t normally like this. Less than a month of single-dom and here I was practically undressing this stranger with my eyes. Or at least picturing him in shorts. In his cramped office, our chairs were only two feet away from each other. We were so close. I could reach right out and touch his thigh if I wanted to. Hold on, was that a stain on the knee of his pants? And in his, uh, winkle zone? Could he also be a Strangeness Attracter? He stopped mid sentence and gave me an alarmed look when he caught me staring at his crotch.

“Oh. Um. Your knee?” I stuttered. “I was looking at your knee. I mean, not your actual knee because it’s hidden under your pants. Not hidden. I just mean your pants are there. As they should be. I mean…there’s a stain. That I was looking at. On er…your knee and maybe other places?”

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MichelleMorganPic**About author, Michelle Morgan:

Michelle Morgan was born in Vancouver, Canada. She has years of experience falling down for no reason and may have left a wrap-around skirt or two caught in a date’s car door. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband, Peter, and their three children, Kiara, Leilani and Kai. Oh – and a three year old goldfish named Angel, who her kids haven’t noticed looks different every time they come back from visiting Nana and Grandpa in the summer.

Michelle is passionate about theatre – watching, writing for, and acting in. Although she enjoys it all, she favours comedy. She is a black belt in karate, a classical pianist, and is addicted to pilates and pad thai.

**Contact Michelle: Website   Facebook   Twitter

**Find the book: Amazon   Goodreads

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**GIVEAWAY**

Click HERE to enter to win a $60 Victoria’s Secret Gift Card!

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**Click HERE to see other stops on Michelle’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour!

The Position

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“The Position” by Dahlia Salvatore

Blurb:

Dylan Farrow puts on his pants every morning one leg at a time, just like everyone else at the Kerrigan Advertising Agency. He handles high-pressure projects with a fast turnaround. He’s prized for his keen intellect and admirable performance. But how did he get where he is today—to the level of Junior Executive of Design Production?

Well, that involves how he takes his pants off…
and for whom…

Hoping to break through the glass ceiling under which she’s been trapped for years, Valerie Caplan picks up her life and moves to Seattle. After hearing about the position of Senior Executive of Design Production from an art director at Kerrigan, she decides to apply. When she lands the big interview, she never thinks for a minute that she’ll have any serious competition. She assumes that she has the job in the bag…until she discovers that the only competition has something she doesn’t have—the willingness to go outside the office to impress Danica Stewart, their uptight female boss.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

(Valerie)

THE WIND RUSHED around me as I stood on the balcony and looked out at downtown Seattle. From my apartment on the sixteenth floor, I could see the space needle and the lights glittering on as the sun set over the Puget Sound. I’d always wanted to live by water. I took in a lungful of air. It was different than the mountain air I was used to in Denver. In this breath, I could taste the sea.

I smiled. I’d never set foot in the city before today, but I could already tell I was going to love it. The opportunities seemed endless and I felt freer than ever before to pursue them. That was especially true because I wasn’t working and had a ton of time on my hands. Unfortunately, I’d given up on most of my hobbies and extra-curricular activities in order to climb the ladder. I was a self-professed workaholic, and, so far, I liked it that way.

Being that I’d given up most social obligations, I didn’t have many friends. There were maybe two or three in Denver, but they had families and their own lives, so we didn’t see each other often. In Seattle, I had one friend—one—and I’d only known him for two months, and only because of my job connections.

In Denver, I’d worked for Trinity Advertising Corp. They were a medium-sized company, but slowly gaining popularity and clout. My problem had been that I wasn’t gaining enough ground for comfort. I was too ambitious to enjoy a stagnant life. This move was about climbing further and becoming more than I’d been before. At Trinity, I’d hit the dreaded glass ceiling and moving on became my top priority. That’s why I had gone to Seattle, on the recommendation of a man who barely knew me.

Chuck had recommended me to his boss for a position as Senior Executive of Design Production. That meant I was going to be overseeing several Art Directors, who in turn oversaw the teams which produced the company’s biggest projects. I badly wanted the job and I damned sure deserved it. Because I’d put so much of myself into making every line on my resume count, I was confident. Maybe overly so, since I’d moved to Seattle before I even landed the position. My plan-b was to apply at the other ad agencies if that job fell through. Anything was better than Trinity, right?

I turned back into the apartment and slid the glass door closed. The emptiness seemed bigger than any sound I could possibly make, but nevertheless, I found the box labeled “sound system” and unpacked my iPod docking station and set it up on the floor. I looked up my eighties mix and suddenly the apartment was filled with Billy Idol’s voice, from the hardwoods to the beams of the vaulted ceiling.

I smiled, dropped onto my butt in the middle of the boxes and began making the empty rooms into a home. After just a few hours, the kitchen and bathroom were completely unpacked. I estimated that if I kept going through the night, I’d be done by morning.

Break time, I thought, wandering into the kitchen. I rinsed out a dusty wineglass and uncorked a year-old bottle of Prosecco. While I leaned on the high granite-top breakfast bar, I felt the evil stab of loneliness convict me of sucking at life. I wished I had someone who I could share this experience with. It would be fun to listen to Madonna and drink with a friend.

It could have been the wine hitting my empty stomach, but I was called to action by a voice in my head saying ‘That’s enough!’ The voice was right. It was time to branch out, meet new people, form relationships—and maybe even find a man. God, I need to get laid, I thought, refilling my glass. I clutched the drink with both hands, bringing it to my lips—Oh, yes, my friend wine. … Reveal to me what I should do with my life.

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About author Dahlia Salvatore: Dahlia Salvatore is a thirty-two-year-old female author living in Seattle, Washington with her husband. She comes from Coos Bay, Oregon and moved to Seattle six years ago. She loves the west coast and doesn’t see herself anywhere else.

Her influences include contemporary writers J.K. Rowling, Mary Balogh, Christina Dodd, Stephanie Laurens, Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and many many others.

Contact Dahlia: Website   Facebook   Twitter

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**Click HERE to see other stops on Dahlia’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour!

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Is This What I Want?

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“Is This What I Want?” by Patricia Mann

**(this is a sequel to “Is This All There Is?”, but it can be a stand alone, too)

Blurb:

Four difficult months have passed since Beth’s husband Rick discovered her affair with a former student. The couple has worked hard in therapy to salvage their marriage and understand their roles in everything that happened. Things are looking up until Dave reappears, awakening Beth’s fantasies of what could have been had she taken their affair to the next level. Now that she is faced with another opportunity, Beth battles an even more impossible dilemma than the first time she was caught in Dave’s web.

Amidst the trouble in her marriage and pressure to shield her children from the discord, Beth is also called upon to help her two best friends, both with serious problems of their own. The stress sparks temptation to seek comfort in her favorite vices. But she knows she can’t hide if she wants to save what matters most. The question is, what does she want?

Chapter Tease:

I searched his face for a clue to which way it would go this time. Would he take the high road, as he had been able to do a few times before? Maybe take me in his arms and tell me it was all going to be okay? Tell me that he understood how much pain I was in and that he knew it was hard to find the right ways to express all my complicated emotions?
Or had I gone too far this time? Was he plotting his counterattack? I started to think maybe that would be better. At least it would be more fair. I wanted things to be fair again. The scale felt so out of balance it sometimes seemed as if I was trying to tip it over completely to one side just to get it all over with.
I noticed new gray hairs on the sides of his head, just above his ears. Were they my fault? Did I leach the color from those follicles? He smirked and shook his head slowly back and forth, staring into my eyes dead on.
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Reviews for “Is This What I Want?”:
“The love triangle between Beth, Rick, and Dave finally explodes in this beautifully written, heart-wrenching sequel to Is This All There Is?” -Sandi Lynn, New York Times, USA Today, & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.
“All those who were left wanting more after reading “Is This All there Is?” will be happy to know there is more. Lots more, in the sequel “Is This What I Want?”  In this honest and thoughtful exploration of a marriage coming undone, author Patricia Mann offers no easy solutions.  Instead she takes us into the heart of what love and family is all about  and reminds us there is no one-size fits all. A thoroughly satisfying read.” – Eileen Goudge, New York Times Bestselling Author of fifteen women’s fiction novels.
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Contact Patricia Mann:

Jennifer St. George

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Author, Jennifer St. George

Bio: Jennifer St George is the author of contemporary romance novels often set in exotic destinations. She grew up in the suburbs of Brisbane surrounded by bush. When she was 11, her family moved to South America, an adventure that gave Jennifer a lifetime love of travel and exotic international locations.

Married with two children, Jennifer has a graduate business degree and completed an MBA where she was presented with the Rupert Murdoch Fellowship.

Jennifer spent the first 20 years of her career in corporate marketing and management consulting roles, but began writing romance when she moved with her family to Byron Bay in Northern NSW, seven years ago.

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GUEST POST

Morphing from a pantser to a plotter by Jennifer St George

When I first began writing novels, I started at the beginning and just went for it. I didn’t really know where the story was going. A germ of an idea would form and I simply wrote the book from beginning to end. Isn’t that what everyone did?

I discovered I was a pantser, as opposed to a plotter. Authors seemed to be a mix of pantsers, plotters, sceners or something in-between or even something else all together.

The trouble with being a pantser was that I threw out about 20,000 words during the editing process. As a former management consultant, I deemed very quickly that this was not efficient. I needed a better process.

Hmmm, that plotting sounded good.

I’m such a planner and diving into the story and hoping for the best never really felt right.  Also, throwing out so many words certainly felt wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, I began researching how to plot a novel. I read lots of books and I attended lots of seminars and workshops. My ‘ah ha’ moment came when I read First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S Wiesner. This book whipped my plotting brain into shape. I now plot every aspect of my story before I start writing using the 30-day model outlined in Wiesner’s book. I find some of the exercises a little painful to complete, but as I’m writing the exercises invariably add value somewhere in the novel.

Probably the most useful aspect of Wiesner’s book was applying her story threads technique. That is, identifying story threads and mentally following them throughout the plot outline. This technique definitely helped reduce my editing time and made me much more productive.

So is there anything about this process that isn’t great? Well now I know what happens in the end before I write the story. I miss being in suspense…to see how it all turns out. But I believe the quality, depth and efficiency of my writing has been greatly improved.

So if you’re a pantser and it’s not working, this might be an approach that would help you too. Happy writing!

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“Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon”TemptedByTheBillionaireTycoonCoverPic

The latest sexy international romance from the bestselling author of The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love.

Three strikes and you’re out…

A series of strange accidents are occurring at Sirona, a luxury spa resort in the picturesque English countryside. Billionaire owner Nic Capitini wants the person responsible sacked. But the law requires he give three official warnings. Nic checks in undercover to gather the evidence he needs, and when he arrives to find his general manager enjoying the spa’s facilities, he doesn’t think it will prove very challenging.

Despite first impressions, it isn’t long before Nic realises that not only is Poppy Bradford beautiful, she’s a brilliant manager who runs the resort superbly. And the chemistry between them is undeniable. When Poppy herself is threatened, it seems clear the incidents are part of a systematic campaign of sabotage. Even though he believes she’s innocent, Nic knows Poppy is hiding something. But will learning her secret mean losing her forever?

Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon is part of the Billionaire series by Jennifer St George, but can certainly be enjoyed as a stand-alone book.

**Click HERE to buy “Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon”

SALE: “The Right Design” is $0.99!

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ILA_sale_horizontal-1For a limited time, “The Right Design” is $0.99!

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What would you do if your man cheated?

Do business and pleasure mix?

Have you ever been tempted by someone who makes you second-guess your morals?

Will Carrie allow herself to fall in love with Brad?

…the answers are in this book, so get your copy now!

AMAZON *

Book Review: Bad Bridesmaid

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“Bad Bridesmaid” by Portia MacIntosh

Description:

‘My wedding is ruined and my marriage is going to fail. And it’s all your fault!’

LA romcom writer Mia Valentina has it all; money, success, a tanned and toned body, golden blonde hair and a string of sexy lovers. She’s almost forgotten her previous self: plain old Mia Harrison. Until a wedding invitation arrives requesting (demanding!) her presence as chief bridesmaid at her younger sister Belle’s upcoming nuptials.

Mia’s barely been back in England before she’s accidentally injured the groom, unintentionally ‘cursed’ the wedding and been caught in a compromising position with her sister’s soon to be brother-in-law!

With the wedding of the year going dangerously off the rails, Mia has no time to waste – especially with sexy fireman and best man Leo on hand to help… Will she use all of her expert romance knowledge to save the day or will she just walk away? No one ever said a bad girl had to turn good…

My Review:

When I was approached to read and review this book, I knew I’d love it, and sure enough, I did! Though Mia isn’t liked in her family, I found her character to be likable. From leaving the US, and heading home to deal with a demanding and witchy bride (along with her judgmental family), Mia had a lot on her plate. Oh, and of course, add in a couple of sexy men to the mix, too! So what can go wrong?! Everything!

Like I mentioned before, I really liked this book! It was funny (I even laughed out loud at some parts), lighthearted, and was a pleasure to read. The only thing that really bugged me was Mia’s confidence. If everyone was so mean to her, then why did she stay? I might be wrong, but all she wanted was just to be liked and loved by her family, so I can understand that. “Bad Bridesmaid” ended way too soon, because I would have loved to see what happened after her sister ran and told everyone Mi’a big news, and to get a little more of her and the man she ended up with, (sorry, no spoilers).

If you’re looking for a quick and cute wedding read, I recommend this book.

I give “Bad Bridesmaid” 5 stars!

**Buy your copy of “Bad Bridesmaid” now!: Amazon