From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook.
Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end.
Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time?
Relevant and current, Comfort Foods is a feast of a read. Gobble it up in one sitting or savor for several days, you’ll end up satisfied either way.
When I saw the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. Food and romance are two of my favorite things. As I said when I requested it, foodie romance is my jam, pun fully intended.
Comfort Foods lives up to my expectations. Lacy and Rudy’s story, taking place in two locations (Comfort and Austin), is rich and filling. Lacy’s journey of self-discovery after her fall from grace is especially fascinating and touching. Her scenes with Frank Bachman, the publisher of the newspaper she works for, provide moments of both laughter and tears. In doing service for her sister and for others in the community, Lacy finds her worth beyond the superficial beauty and fashion she was previously famous for. Rudy’s grappling with too many pots on the stove–his restaurant Stella, his daughter Luna, and his attraction to Lacy–is realistic in today’s world and highly relatable. His bewilderment in his search for balance amid man-made obstacles is endearing and admirable.
But life is more than a shiny ball. It has edges, holes, and deep caves. Make a choice on where you feel most grounded.
Ms. Fish created fully-fleshed-out characters that are sympathetic and likable and oh-so-real with their all-too-human failings. I love that she included multicultural characters that’s reflective of the society at present. She spun a tale filled with humor, angst, insider knowledge of the restaurant and publishing businesses, and the weighty concern of human trafficking. The themes of found family and close-knit community are ones I often seek out and are entrenched in this book and in this series. And then, there’s the food. There’s enough to make a reader’s mouth water and head to the kitchen to recreate the dishes mentioned in the book.
Food is a necessary element of living, and there is real beauty in the process of preparing it and serving people who appreciate the effort.
I enjoyed the slow burn of Lacy and Rudy’s romance from their awkward first couple of meetings to cooking together, to the impromptu bridal photo shoot, and to their eventual happy ever after. I wish though that they have more scenes together and that they communicated more frequently, and collaborated on resolving their issues. Rudy’s declaration at the end seems too quick for a relationship that’s not fully developed because of so much distance.
Love is a recipe worth every effort.
As always, huge thanks to Kimberly Fish and to Lone Star Literary Life for the copy of the book to review.
Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work.
Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.
When cocky financial genius Rafael Cruz is forced to partner with his snarky office rival Phoebe Hollingsworth to land a prestigious new client, nothing goes as planned. At work, they ignore each other, but at the Jingle Ball their unexpected chemistry changes the game. Will their secret holiday hook-up ruin the deal or is it the start of a deeper connection?
** A shorter version of this steamy enemies-to-lovers romance originally appeared in the Jingle Balls anthology. It has been revised and expanded into a novella. **
He flashed a grin. “Look at us, agreeing and everything. This truce isn’t too tough.”
Her lips curved upward in the first genuine smile she’d ever bestowed on him. “We’re regular besties now. And who knows, maybe we can even extend it to work on Monday.”
He held up his hands and laughed. “Don’t get all wild and crazy on me now. One evening at a time.”
She rolled her eyes, but grinned back. “Anyways, should we head downstairs?”
Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.
I’m a Scorpio and so are three of the main characters in my books. Maddie’s birthday is October 26, which I mention in Global City Tryst. Aidan and Krista were born on November 2 six years apart. They celebrate together in Boracay Vows. Aidan talks about his and Maddie’s shared Scorpio characteristics in Singapore Fling.
In this finger-licking good rom-com, two is the perfect number of cooks in the kitchen.
Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.
But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.
The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum … a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?
Any time I see myself in the book I’m reading, I give it high marks. Every time I cry while reading a book, I give it top ratings. Whenever a book promotes the Filipino culture, I only had positive things to say about it. Simmer Down, with its part-Filipina heroine, her tight-knit bond with her parents, its multicultural romance, and its proud celebration of Filipino food, gets my enthusiastic rave. A perfectly-fitting read during the Filipino American History Month this October.
Sarah Smith is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and adorable cat Salem.
The 57th Floor – Hazel Storm When a client meeting sends matchmaker, Madelyn, hurtling to the high-rise office of CEO Peter Waring, she doesn’t expect to be blown away by this way-too-hot older man. But hookups with clients aren’t allowed, and now, Madelyn has to find Peter the perfect match.
A Change of Plans – PE Kavanagh Ways to make the best of a NYC blizzard: 1. Take shelter in a luxury penthouse 2. Stock up on all your favorite snacks 3. Get stranded with your big sister’s best friend, who happens to be the woman of your dreams
A Hole – Phoebe Alexander With meddling friends and myriad misunderstandings, can Ace and Ella find their happy ending? Or will Ella just become the punchline of Ace’s next joke?
The Wolf of Wall Street – Lucy Eden CEO, Luis Pine and Executive Assistant, Aurora Douglas have a million reasons to keep their relationship strictly professional, except for one … fate.
44th & Blue – Jodi Payne When Benjamin Waters’ law firm moves to the 44th floor of a Midtown high-rise, the last person he expects to encounter is his casual hookup, Cole Turner. Cole is working on the finishing touches to the office space, wearing a sexy tool belt and threatening to disrupt Benjamin’s carefully compartmentalized life.
Courtney – Jayce Ellis Courtney intends to relax, relate, release, when he comes home after a decade abroad. When he meets Tracey, his plans abruptly shift, and now getting to know the cautious, but sinfully gorgeous man is the only thing on his mind.
The Right Note – Bree Kraemer In a high-rise in Chicago, Eliza and Henry are unaware that the other even exists. Until music brings them together.
Felling Bechet – Stella Williams Bechet Cross seems the perfect fling for Isis Hale. No strings, no games, until he fell.
Asylum Club – Aidy Award I need this job at the infamous Asylum Club, but I don’t submit for anyone. Not even the sinful billionaire owner whose dominant side drives me crazy in all the hottest ways.
The Glass Tower – Emily Gray While Zel Thatcher dreams of escape from a glass prison, Regina Prince restores the passion for music he thought was lost. Can they overcome his uncle’s malice to find love and a fairytale ending?
Make Me Beg – Moni Boyce Teagan Palmer hates Reid Beckett. Unfortunately, the sexy, ruthless fixer is the only one standing between Teagan and the hit on her life. An enemies to lovers, mafia romance.
Global City Tryst – Maida Malby One alluring French-Filipina beauty. One sexy US Air Force officer. One torrid weekend tryst.
Lust at first sight strikes Maddie Duvall and Aidan Ryan in Manila. A day at the beach with friends and family does not give them an opportunity to succumb to their mutual attraction. Both single and available, they agree on a secret weekend affair. No strings, no promises. Satisfy their desire for one another and they’re done.
Or so they say.
Global City Tryst, a Carpe Diem Chronicles novelette, is the prequel to Singapore Fling.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
HAZEL STORM Hazel Storm writes stories about love between characters with conscience. Over the past two decades, she has been vegan, raw vegan and vegetarian. She loves hot yoga and cool martial arts. Learn more and join Hazel’s newsletter here: www.hazelstorm.com
PE KAVANAGH PE Kavanagh writes smart and steamy contemporary romances with a splash of suspense and a sprinkle of magic. She’s committed to the life-changing powers of true love and great orgasms. www.pekavanagh.com
PHOEBE ALEXANDER Phoebe Alexander writes bodypositive, sexpositive erotic romance and lives on the East Coast with her husband, sons and multiple fur babies. Learn more and join Phoebe’s newsletter at www.phoebe-alexander.com
LUCY EDEN Lucy Eden is the nom de plume of a romance-obsessed author who writes the kind of romance she loves to read. She’s a sucker for alphas with a soft gooey center, over the top romantic gestures, strong & smart MCs, humor, love at first sight (or pretty damn close), happily ever after & of course, dirty & steamy love scenes. www.lucyeden.com
AIDY AWARD Aidy Award writes curvy girl romance, about real love, and dirty fun, with happy ever afters because every woman deserves great sex and even better romance, no matter her size, shape, or what the scale says. www.aidyaward.com
JODI PAYNE Jodi Payne’s addictions include nonfat lattes, tequila any way you pour it, Broadway and live music. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies as they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. www.jodipayne.net
JAYCE ELLIS Jayce spends her days divorcing “happily married couples” and her nights writing about people like her: Black, queer, fighting for their happily ever afters, with her husband and two turtles by her side. www.authorjayceellis.com
BREE KRAEMER Bree Kraemer writes contemporary romance, sometimes with a lot of hot, steamy sex and sometimes with just a little. She lives in Ohio with her husband and 3 kids, All of which are teenagers and make her want to pull her hair out. Hence her use of the F-word and the drinking of margaritas. www.BreeKraemer.com
STELLA WILLIAMS Stella Williams is a Blogger, Booktuber, and Romance Author, who lives in Washington State. She has a degree in Anthropology from The University of California, Santa Cruz. Stella prides herself in using her studies to create diverse worlds and characters for her novels. Her latest project is a magical paranormal romance series entitled “Secret of Ceres.” www.serpentinecreative.com
EMILY GRAY Emily Gray is an author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. While ensuring her characters get their HEA, she lives on coffee and chocolate. www.emilygray.org
MONI BOYCE Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 33 countries and counting. www.moniboyce.com
MAIDA MALBY Maida Malby cooks up multicultural, foodie, international contemporary romance stories filled with sizzling heat, mouthwatering spice, and a whole lotta love. She is a member of select writing groups and romance book clubs. Her To-Be-Read Mountain and book reviews are featured on her website www.maidamalby.com
Ezekiel Holloway’s proposition could save his friend Reagan Sinclair’s inheritance and give her the freedom she craves. But when family scandals force Ezekiel to end their fake engagement, the heiress comes up with a counterproposal—and they elope to Vegas after all! Is there something more than mere convenience at stake here?
Ezekiel stared at Regan, struck speechless. Dozens of questions bombarded him, and he mentally waded through them, finally settling on the most important one. “What?”
“Marry me,” she repeated, closing the short distance between them, not stopping until her hands fisted the lapels of his suit jacket, her thighs braced against his and that honeysuckle scent embraced him like a long-lost lover.
He swallowed a groan at her nearness, at the feel of her body pressed to his. Lust, hot and hungry, punched him in the gut, then streamed through him in a swollen flood. Desperate to place distance between them so he could f*cking think, he gripped her hips to set her away from him. But touching her backfired. Instead of pushing her back, he held her close, his body rebelling and taking control. Two weeks. It’d been two long weeks.
“Reagan,” he rumbled.
“No, Zeke. Don’t give me all the reasons why we shouldn’t. I don’t care. Do you know where I just came from?” she asked, switching topics with a lightning speed that left him floundering. Between that and his *ick finding cushion against her stomach, he couldn’t keep up. “I just left a restaurant where my father arranged for me to have lunch with Justin McCoy.”
“The hell?” His grip on her tightened. Douglas had set her up with that a**hole?
“Yes.” Reagan nodded as if reading his mind. “Apparently my father considered him a more suitable match than you. A man who uses and throws away women for his own gain rather than you, a man who has been nothing but honorable and unfailingly kind and respectful. I had enough. I walked away from him and his machinations. I’m through allowing him to run my life, to make choices for me out of guilt and loyalty.”
Guilt? What the hell did that mean?
Shoving the questions aside for the moment, he refocused on her. “I understand your anger, believe me, I do, but take a moment and think this through before you make a mistake you can’t take back. This decision will cost you your inheritance. It could damage your relationship with your parents. Is this rebellion worth that? Because you’re not in…” He couldn’t finish that sentence. Couldn’t fathom it.
“No, Zeke, I’m not in love with you,” she assured him, and he exhaled a heavy breath. Even as an unidentifiable emotion twisted in his chest. “And maybe this is a little bit of rebellion on my part, but it’s so much more. I’m taking control—of my choices, my mind, my life. I respect you, Zeke. But this isn’t about you. It’s about me. About finally becoming the woman I’ve been too afraid to own. So, from now on, I’m making my own decisions,” she continued. “And that includes you. I choose you, Zeke. And I want you to marry me.”
Jesus, did she know what a delicious temptation she was? How he’d fought following after her that evening he’d let her walk out of his house? That had required strength he hadn’t realized he possessed. Doing it a second time…
No, she might feel certain here in this office, but she was still upset. Could feel very differently in the morning, hell, hours from now. Maybe after they talked this out, she would see—
She rose on her toes and crushed her mouth to his.
His control snapped.
Like a flash fire, the press of her lips to his poured gasoline over the lust that had been steadily simmering. He took possession of that sweet siren’s mouth, claiming it with a thrust of his tongue. Possessing it with a long, wet lick. Corrupting it with an erotic tangle and suck that left little to the imagination about what he wanted from her.
And he wanted it all. In this moment where the lines between platonic friendship and desire incinerated beneath his greedy mouth and her needy whimpers, he wanted everything she had to give him.
Signed, print copy of Trust Fund Fiance $25 Amazon gift card Journal Jewelry
Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.” She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.
An angsty, seriously steamy read that’s in keeping with what I expect from Naima Simone’s books.
Marriage-of-convenience and friends-to-lovers are two of my favorite tropes in romance and Reagan and Zeke’s story brings them to life in an emotional and sexy way.
At first, it’s easy to dismiss the premise of their coming together as rich people problems. Reagan wants access to the millions in the trust fund her grandmother left her. Zeke needs to help out a friend to feel useful amidst his family’s rapidly escalating financial scandal. Reading further along, one could see that the causes of their internal turmoil are real and relatable. Reagan chafes from living under the control of her parents as a decade-long penance for a teenage mistake. Zeke has closed off his heart after the death of a beloved. Their union, however temporary, changes their lives for the better.
I especially liked Reagan’s growth arc in this book. She takes control of her life even if it means losing the people she loves. Zeke’s turnabout could have been less sudden. Same with Reagan’s father’s change of heart.
While Trust Fund Fiancé can be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend starting the series from the first book in order to fully appreciate the dramatic saga of the Wingate family.
Melody Joo is thrilled to start as video game producer, but her dream job can be far from a dream. Namely, a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments and an infuriating — yet distractingly handsome — intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”
While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her company’s most high-profile project — and Melody’s running the show.
With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, but she’s here to work—and nothing more. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the trolling sabotage. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love?
Tackling trolling to loathful colleagues, Park’s writing pops off the page as a contemporary reflection of women everywhere navigating the obstacles of love and career with a little bit of struggle and a whole lot of humor.
“[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient
Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly” talent search, and appeared on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco. Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. After spending many years as a tech marketing executive, she turned to writing fiction full-time. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Keep up with her at https://www.suzannepark.com, Facebook and Twitter.
Wealthy cowboy, James MacLachlan, is content running his massive family ranch and starting an equine therapy program for special needs children. After his mother died in childbirth, and witnessing his father’s destruction at the loss of true love, James sticks to casual affairs. Marriage and children are risks he won’t take.
Reese Turner visits Cypress Creek, Texas, to complete a photo assignment for National Geographic and buy back her grandparents’ cottage. After disastrous romances, she’s sworn off men to focus on her career. Marriage and the babies she longs for can wait. When she runs into an old flame, she decides she can live out a fantasy, then leave town to pursue her dreams.
Filled with tropes (small-town/return to hometown/second-chance/fling), a touch of mystery, a dash of intrigue, vivid imagery, and fascinating characters, Her Second Chance Cowboy is a highly polished debut by Makenna Lee. Reese and James have such intense chemistry from page one, their decision to have a summer fling is inevitable. Of course, the real story is how they turn that temporary arrangement into a long-term commitment. Along the way, they have to deal with past hurts, lack of trust, miscommunication, incompatible dreams, and external forces that seek to separate them. Good thing, there’s also a fun treasure hunt that helps strengthen their bond.
Overall, this is a light read with some sweet steam. Being the first book of a series, Her Second Chance Cowboy suffers a little from multiple subplots and the introduction of numerous characters who could have their own stories someday. These made the book longer than it has to be and may have taken the focus away from Reese and James at various parts of the book. Aside from these, this promises to be a series worth following.
Makenna Lee is an award-winning romance author living in the Texas Hill Country with her real-life hero and their two children. Her oldest son has Down syndrome and taught her to appreciate the little things. He inspired her first Harlequin book A Sheriff’s Star. Her writing journey began when she mentioned all her story ideas and her husband asked why she wasn’t writing them down. The next day she bought a laptop, started her first book, and knew she’d found her passion. Makenna is often drinking coffee while writing, reading, or plotting a new story. She enjoys renaissance festivals, nature photography, studying herbal medicine, and usually listens to Celtic music while writing. Makenna writes for Harlequin and Entangled Publishing and believes everyone deserves a happy ending. Her wish is to write books that touch your heart, making you feel, think, and dream.
Korean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.
Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.
When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.
When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.
Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.
I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.
While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.
As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.
JAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.
Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.
Who isn’t baking these days? I certainly am. One of my creations is soda bread. I mentioned it in New York Engagement on Chapter Nine where Krista had a family meal with the Ryans at their pub in Hell’s Kitchen. In the book, they served brown soda bread to go with Guinness caldereta,longganisa coddle, and chicken lechon. As the only flour I have at home was all-purpose white and I wanted it for breakfast and tea, I followed this Irish-American version with whiskey-soaked cranberries from seriouseats.com. The Ryans are Irish-Americans after all.
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins or currants)
1/2 cup Irish whiskey (or hot water)
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (~190 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the cranberries and whiskey (or hot water). Cover and set aside to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cut the butter into slices, then work it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until it is fully incorporated. Add the honey, buttermilk, and the cranberries and soaking liquid mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.
3. Flour your work surface lightly and turn out the dough. Gently bring it together without kneading so as not to overwork it. Form the dough into a 6-8 inch disk about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 inches high and place it on your prepared baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, make four cuts all the way through to create eight triangles.
4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack. If you like a softer crust, cover the bread with a clean kitchen towel as it cools.
5. Serve plain or, as I do, with cream cheese and your favorite beverage. Mine is coffee with Baileys.
New York Engagement is available in eBook and paperback from major online retailers. Signed paperback can be purchased from this website.