Welcome Talli Roland! / @TalliRoland / #LLm

Good morning, loyal readers! A few months ago we had a new author join us at LLm. I thought it would be fun to spotlight some of her work in today’s spot on the Author’s Café. So, as a treat, we’re featuring two of Talli’s books. Read on to learn more!


The Pollyanna Plan

The Pollyanna Plan

Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? More info →
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Excerpt From The Pollyanna Plan

“Come on, Ems. Just give it a go for, like, a month at least.” Alice’s voice was hopeful.

“We’ll call it the Pollyanna Plan.”

“The Pollyanna Plan?” Emma couldn’t stop a snort from escaping. God, even the name sounded like unicorns and leprechauns. Emma didn’t have a problem with either – except they didn’t bloody exist. “Why are you so keen for me to sign up to this, anyway?”

Alice shrugged and glanced away. “I just think … you could do with a little more … well, sweetness and light,” she finished delicately.

Sweetness and light? Had her friend been replaced by Mary Poppins? When had sweetness and light ever got you anywhere in life?

But where has thinking realistically got you? a little voice peeped up from the back of her brain.

Emma stared into Alice’s expectant face, her mind flipping over. Maybe trying a different approach wouldn’t hurt. She wouldn’t go as far as embracing mythical creatures, but she could try to be slightly more positive. It might not change anything in the long run, but perhaps it’d make rebuilding her life more bearable. She swallowed back her growing dread just thinking of the days ahead in her empty flat.

“Okay.” Emma nodded, and Alice’s face lit up. “I’ll give this Pollyanna Plan a try.”


The No-Kids Club

The No-Kids Club

Genre: Contemporary
At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it. Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it's not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare decides it's time for people who don't have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born. More info →
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Excerpt From The No-Kids Club

You can’t fault the man for wanting children, Clare. It’s a biological urge.’Clare smiled at her best friend and stifled a sigh. Of course she hadn’t expected Ellie – now seven-and-a-half months pregnant – to understand the reason behind last night’s break-up with Edward, but she had hoped for sympathy.

‘I don’t fault him for wanting kids,’ Clare said, shredding her croissant into flaky bits. ‘I just thought we were on the same page when it came to the future. Guess I was wrong.’ She shook her head, still trying to come to terms with their break-up. Women were meant to be broody, not men!

Ellie shifted her belly on the banquette, and Clare felt a pang of guilt for dragging her heavily pregnant friend down to Carluccio’s cafe to share her woes.
‘Another one bites the dust. He lasted longer than anyone in recent history, anyway.’ Ellie shovelled a huge bite of carrot cake into her mouth, then licked a dollop of cream-cheese frosting from her fingers. ‘God, I can’t get enough of this.’

‘If you can’t indulge when you’re pregnant, when can you?’ Clare had always thought the best thing about pregnancy would be satisfying each and every craving guilt-free. That didn’t come close to balancing out what happened after pregnancy, though: a lifetime commitment. Even the notion made her shudder.

‘I’m going to miss Edward.’ The words left her mouth before Clare could stop them, and she tried to block out his sorrowful expression as he’d stood at the bedroom door, staring down at her. She wouldn’t have thought it so difficult to meet someone with a similar mindset, but in the past year, all she’d managed to unearth were blokes who wanted a quick shag; men lumbered with step-kids; or just plain losers. Where were the normal guys who, like her, didn’t want children? How ironic that Edward was the one man she’d considered a future with, and their idea of what the future held was worlds apart.

‘Well, you still have me!’ Ellie took a sip of her decaffeinated coffee and made a face. ‘Ugh. Can’t wait until I’m back on the real thing.’

Clare nodded, hoping her expression didn’t convey the thought that since her friend had fallen pregnant, she’d seen her less than ever. The daily grind of Ellie’s busy job at a high-end estate agency combined with doctor’s appointments, antenatal classes, and ‘getting ready for Baby’ (the amount of preparation Ellie was putting in, you’d think it was a mission to Mars) meant Clare was lucky if she saw her every few weeks. And when Ellie had the baby, she’d probably disappear into the same black hole that had swallowed up all Clare’s other acquaintances once they became parents. Clare would be alone then: the one childless woman in a sea of reproductively busy females.


Recipe Of the Day

With the weather getting pretty hot here, I’ve been turning to Ice Coffee more and more. Here’s my simply Iced Coffee drink to enjoy while you’re reading on of Talli’s books!

Steph’s Iced Coffee

  • 1/4 glass crushed ice
  • 4 oz. coffee–the older the better because it gives the drink some kick
  • 4 oz. half n’ half
  • Sugar (to taste)

You can modify the amount of coffee or H&H to your taste.


Author Quote Of the Day

I really don’t listen to music while writing, as it completely distracts me. Twizzlers (red liquorice) were a huge inspiration while writing both books. I was pregnant when I wrote THE POLLYANNA PLAN and existing on little sleep when I penned THE NO-KIDS CLUB. Twizzlers kept me going.

Special Feature! Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot / @mandybaggot / #LLm

Good morning! We’ve got a special feature today from the lovely Mandy Baggot. It’s an excerpt from her new title, Truly, Madly, Greekly! Read on to learn more…


Truly, Madly, Greekly

Truly, Madly, Greekly

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger - a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated. Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart… More info →
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Excerpt From Truly, Madly, Greekly

‘So, what do you think, so far? Is it the place? For my wedding?’ Lacey asked. She dragged her body into a sitting position.

‘It’s a beautiful spot. The mountains of Albania just across the water, the sea, the sand … not forgetting the water platform.’ She levelled a smile at her sister.

‘It’s pretty special,’ Lacey agreed, nodding.

‘But no matter how special the place, it has to be right. You and Mark have to be right.’ Ellen faltered on the last part of the sentence. This was so hard. How could she understand how Lacey was feeling? And what qualifications did she have for guiding her? Years trying to be the mother she really wasn’t. That was it. Nothing else. It was exhausting.

‘It feels like we’ve been engaged forever,’ Lacey admitted.

‘It feels like we’ve been planning the wedding forever.’

Lacey sighed. ‘I need to be sure that when the cake’s been cut and eaten … when the doves have been released and all the goody bags have been given out … when the disco’s playing “Run” by Leona Lewis … I need to be sure it still feels special.’

‘Volleyball! We have volleyball in five minutes over on the sand court!’
Sergei’s voice had broken into the conversation, booming the next part of the animation program through the microphone.

‘Lace, if you need the thought of a big wedding … if organising the party of your life is the only thing making your relationship special, then …’ Ellen started.

‘It isn’t … I don’t think. I’m just not sure how to be sure.’ Lacey stopped talking and put a smile on her face at the sight of Sergei striding towards them.

‘Why are you smiling at him like that?’

‘Like what?’

‘Like a drunk celebrity on Alan Carr: Chatty Man.’

‘Drink your drink. Good morning,’ Lacey purred as Sergei arrived next to them.

‘Good morning. How are you?’ Sergei’s eyes were fixed firmly on Lacey’s bikini top, his dark hair perfectly gelled back, sunglasses on his face.

‘All the better for seeing you looking so energetic and ready for action.’

‘Don’t stand too close, Sergei. She’s been vomiting since seven.’ Ellen put her empty cocktail cup down.

‘You have too much last night?’ he inquired.

‘Too much what?’ Lacey batted her eyelids.

‘Please! Just tell us what you’d like us to sign up for before I start being sick.’

‘Volleyball. In five minutes.’

‘Lacey’ll play.’

Within a couple of minutes her sister’s mascara would be running down her face and her hair would resemble Seal in his dreadlock phase. Surely that would make her less attractive to Sergei.

‘I won’t. I can’t. I don’t know how to,’ Lacey protested.

‘I teach you,’ Sergei assured.

‘Great. That’s you occupied. I’m going to see if they have space left on the coach trip.’ Ellen got up from the lounger.

‘What coach trip?’ Lacey asked.

‘It was on the board outside the restaurant.’ She began to gather her things up together. ‘Some place beginning with “S”. I’m not sure. I don’t care. It looked nice and it isn’t volleyball,’ Ellen stated.

‘But we’ve only just sat down,’ Lacey protested.

‘And until you’re ready to make decisions one way or the other about this wedding I’ll be in the place beginning with “S”.’

‘Well, what am I going to do?’

‘I don’t know. Just try not to get pregnant.’


Photo Courtesy: James Nash, Flickr Creative Commons via Share Alike Permission
Photo Courtesy: James Nash, Flickr Creative Commons via Share Alike Permission


Recipe of the Day

So Mandy kindly explained that she doesn’t have a coffee recipe for us, but asked if one of the cocktail recipes from the book would work. I don’t know, would it? Uh, yeah. I think so! So here it is!

Apricot Cooler

4 Drops Angostura Bitters
2 Measures Apricot Brandy
1 Measure Lime Juice
Top up Soda Water
0.5 Measure Sugar Syrup
0.25 Measure Grenadine


Music of the Day

Song inspiration? Well, it has to be the sound of the bouzouki and the Greek dancing to go with it. It captures the spirit of Greece and the atmosphere of the book. Here’s a taster to whet your appetite.

How Do You VooDoo When You’re Never Alone? @LinnBHalton / @JaniceHorton

Hello rockstars and Happy Tuesday! Welcome once more to The Author’s Café, where we blast the music, refill your coffee, and talk books–endless books. This week I was in the mood for some spooky stuff–and if a little romance is thrown in, all the better! Read on for info on these great titles from Janice Horton and Linn B. Halton.

How Do You Voodoo? (Voodoo Romance #1)

How Do You Voodoo? (Voodoo Romance #1)

Series: Voodoo Romance, Book 0
Genres: Romance, Romantic Comedy
Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career. More info →
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Excerpt From How Do You VooDoo?

Nola Nichols settled herself into her first class seat aboard a British Airways flight from Barbados to London and accepted a glass of chilled champagne, which she sipped in the hope it might help her to feel happier than she actually was.

Leaving her polo playing boyfriend behind was going to be a wrench after the fabulous few weeks they’d just spent together. She sulked at the thought of him playing chukkers in the Caribbean sunshine, while adoring girls waved at him from under the palm trees that surrounded the St James Club, and tried not to imagine the parties he would attend without her afterwards.

Their relationship had been passionate, but it was still far too new for her to expect him to do it long distance. Not that you could frolic in the surf or make love in a beach hammock by iPad. Well, not for real anyway.

His life was simple and hers way too complicated. His home was an old sugar plantation house and hers was, well, anywhere, as she continually lived out of a hotel and a suitcase.

When they had said their goodbyes at the airport, and he’d presented her with a single rose, she’d known instinctively rather than from its symbolism that she’d lost him. She might be the most beautiful girl that Miles Montgomery-Smythe had ever dated (his words not hers) but clearly out of sight was out of mind.

While the in-flight safety film played, Nola braced herself for returning to the UK. She had been sent to the Caribbean by her Agent because of some stupid headline and an unflattering photograph in the tabloids. ‘Nola No Knickers’ had gone viral when the paparazzi had caught her exiting a limousine with her legs ever so slightly parted.

‘Of course I was wearing knickers!’ she’d exclaimed to Marilyn, who was right in the middle of some sort of mid-life hormonal crisis as well as negotiating Nola’s debut appearance in Vashion Magazine, the hottest glossy to ever hit London, Paris and New York. ‘They were just a bit see-through and I had been perspiring.’


Never Alone

Never Alone

Life is all about the choices we make… More info →
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Excerpt From Never Alone

“I read an article once about a man who was dying of some horrific lung condition. The interviewer asked if he was scared of death and he said, “No, why—should I be? I am scared about how my wife will cope when I’m not here anymore. I know I will be in a better place, but she will always wonder, until it’s her time”. What struck me most was how firmly he believed it wasn’t the end of anything for him and that his wife was the one he felt sorry for.”

“That’s sad. I guess if there is an afterlife, then that’s not going to be perfect either. Well that’s depressing. To go from one imperfect life to another…” Celia thrusts her glass towards me and I raise mine obligingly. A clear, hollow ring fills the air as glass touches glass.

“Here’s to a better life beyond,” she adds dully.

“Sometimes they do manage to make contact,” I try my best to sound matter-of-fact. “I’ve experienced it myself.”

Celia turns to look at me, studying my face. “Yes, but is it real, Holly?”

“It’s real to me when it happens. You don’t have to be a medium to see spirits. Cara says I’m getting help from the other side, from my grandmother. So there are things they can do.” I don’t know what I’m trying to say exactly, or whether I’m only trying to give Celia some hope. A part of me, buried deep inside, seems to want to open up. I know there is something beyond death and perhaps it’s about time I faced up to that fact.

“But, Holly, the things you’ve seen have scared you. They haven’t comforted you; quite the opposite. How sad is that?” Celia doesn’t look upset, merely resigned.

“I know. Why can’t I see or sense my grandmother? That would be a good experience, surely? Will and I did some research and one book we came across said everyone is born with a natural psychic ability. Cara said much the same. As we grow we learn to dismiss it and question it in such a way that eventually we lose the ability to ‘see’. In some people it’s activated, their abilities are much stronger or they have decided to learn how to use the gift they have been given. An important part of that is learning how to protect yourself. The trouble is I don’t want to get more involved. If I learn more, then I’m worried that I will be encouraging what’s out there to see me as receptive. How awful if it never went away.”

“It might all end here. You weren’t the only one affected by Bisley Rise so it must have been strong. I know you were upset and it really spooked you, but gradually you’ll let it go and things will return to normal.” Celia tries to sound reassuring.

“I wish it were that simple,” I sigh, but my words sound fraught.

“What do you mean?” Celia asks.

“I thought Bisley Rise was the first time. I’m not so sure now.” She looks at me, puzzled. “I’ve been going through my portfolio of writing. It spans almost ten years; I started writing poetry and short stories when I was a teenager. Bits and pieces, but I always enjoyed it. It was my way of relaxing and I’ve had a few things published over the years. I went back through some of my earlier writing yesterday. Let me show you something I found.” I run upstairs to the bedroom and pull a folded piece of A4 paper from the pale yellow box file on the desk next to the bed. I unfold the paper as I walk back into the sitting room.

“Listen to this. It’s something I wrote when I was just sixteen years old. It was a shock when I found it the other day.”

The Uninvited

I can see the breeze

Rustling through the branches

Laden with leaves

That should be basking in the sunshine

But not today

I hear that sad howling

Through the corridor

Next to my room

The eerie sound makes me feel alone

And sadly afraid

For what might walk

Fretful and angry

Encouraged by the chill

And the high-pitched whine

Barely audible

But unmistakable

There is a shadow

I saw it move, hover

As a wisp of smoke

Clearing before my eyes

And I move my head

To check the swaying trees

Beyond the window

Which now seem strangely calm

I know you are there

I’ve seen you before

But I bow my head

And continue reading my book

Afraid to acknowledge

Scared to see more

I had the conversation once

Told a friend what I had seen

Suffered the pitying glance

Dismissive smile

Because you are never there

When I’m not alone

Your message is for me

But I’m too afraid

To listen or respond


Just leave me alone

Celia exhales slowly and loudly, letting it sink in and then takes a long, slow sip from her wine glass.

“Perhaps it wasn’t your own experience that inspired the poem, it might be based on a story or incident you read about perhaps?”

“No, it was a way of voicing what was hidden away deep inside of me. Things I couldn’t talk about, although I did try to confide in a friend once. I guess I’ve spent years pushing this away and ignoring things. Bisley Rise frightened me because for the first time ever it was so strong I couldn’t ignore it. If I hadn’t then had that awful experience in the basement of the pin mill, I would still be trying to convince myself it was an isolated experience. I know that isn’t true and I suppose I’m trying to face up to what’s been happening for a long time now.”


Recipe of the Day

Image Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

So I was thinking today…since How Do You VooDoo is set partly in Glasgow, Scotland, we might have a bit of Scotch coffee? What do you think? Here you go…


  • One shot of espresso
  • A shot of your favourite single malt Scotch Whisky. (Keep in mind that whiskey is not Scottish. So if you want to be authentic, lose the e.)
  • Sugar

How To Make The Magic Happen

  • Combine espresso and Scotch Whisky in your favorite mug.
  • Steam the milk until it has a light, frothy foam.
  • Pour the milk over the combined ingrediants in your mug.


Music of the Day

I’ve been listening to rock n’ roll all day and honestly, there could be no other song for today… Enjoy!


Jimi Hendrix – Live at Woodstock – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) from Dernouny Anass on Vimeo.

The Last Protector Of A Shadow In The Past / @RobertsoKing / @StephanieKeyes

Hey guys! Today is a real treat for me, because I get to share some of my own work with you. Read on for more!


The Last Protector

The Last Protector

Series: The Star Child, Book 3.5
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
Gabriel Stewart helped his best friend Kellen St. James save the world from The Scourge in the Battle of Dublin. But before that? Gabe was just an ordinary guy who kept having dreams about a little boy with black hair and green eyes—a boy he hadn’t even met yet. More info →
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Excerpt From The Last Protector

The grass was still damp from the rain earlier, from constant rain, really. Moisture seeped through the opening in the bottom of my right boot and I pulled my coat tighter. It hadn’t been cold a moment ago but, all of a sudden, I could see my breath.

Finally, I stopped outside a squat brick building. I knew deep down to my bones that this was it–where I needed to be. But why had I come in the first place?

Only one window was lit on the ground floor. Through the glass I could make out a small boy with dark hair. He sat alone, reading. After a moment,

It would have been a totally normal scene if it weren’t for the unease slithering through my veins. Something was gonna go down.

“This is the one. I’d know him anywhere.” I glanced to the left and caught sight of two guys standing just under the kid’s window. Shrinking back into the shadows, I hugged the wall and crouched down behind a bush. Wherever the weird sense in my gut had come from, instinct told me it had everything to do with these two.

“I dunno, Ewan.” The shorter of the two men moved a step closer, and I caught something I hadn’t before. One of the guys was green. Short and green. Like a wicked witch but not as tall. “I know he’s here. I followed the scent.”

The other one held up two hands. “I believe ye. You’re definitely right. It’s just…if the lord finds us here it’ll be both our heads.” The one called Ewan took a step closer.

The one called Ewan took a step closer. “We’ll use the boy as leverage. We must listen to Cana’s warnings.”

“The old hag knows nothing. Kellen St. James–”

“St. James will have power.”

“That’s a rumor and nothing more. It ain’t worth risking our necks over, you ‘ear?”

“Look at him, just sitting there. Murder him now and we’ll avoid trouble later.”


A Shadow In the Past

A Shadow In the Past

Sarah Shand is a nineteen-year old who finds herself thrust back into the past where she struggles to keep her real identity secret from a society that is put off by her strange comments and ideas, not to mention the forwardness in her speech and actions, More info →
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Excerpt From A Shadow In The Past

 Sarah spun around at the sound of the approaching engine. Headlights sparkled and danced in the closing darkness, blinding her. The next few seconds appeared to unfold in slow motion. A horn blared, brakes screeched, and smoke surged out from beneath the tires. Hypnotized by the dazzling light, Sarah couldn’t move. The impact of the car’s bumper sent a searing pain through her legs. Her bones snapped like twigs as she flew into the windshield and over the car onto the road.

With a sickening thud, her head smashed against the asphalt. As Sarah lay there, vomit and blood rose in her throat. She tried to roll over to keep from choking, but her body refused to obey. All the strength drained from her body, and her world faded away into nothing.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!”

Sarah thought she had imagined the hysterical woman’s voice.

“Don’t die on me; please don’t die. I’ve called 9-9-9. Help will be here soon.”

Sarah felt the soft touch of a hand caressing her forehead and looked up into the face of a wide-eyed girl of about her age. Behind the girl, a mangled car rested against a tree. Sarah opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t. She shivered.

“You must be freezing. Here, let me cover you.” The young girl removed her coat and placed it over Sarah. “Please just stay with me,” she pleaded, looking over her shoulder. As the sirens wailed in the distance, everything went dark.

When Sarah’s eyes flickered open, the frantic girl and her wrecked car were nowhere to be seen. Instead of the asphalt surface of Kendonald Road, Sarah lay sprawled out on a narrow, gravel lane.

Sarah’s chest felt as if her father’s entire herd of cows had run over it. She gasped for air and tried to prop herself up on her elbows but collapsed as stones gouged her arms.

Using her last ounce of strength, Sarah hauled herself to her feet. Her head throbbed as if it was about to explode, and something wet and sticky ran down the back of her neck. Dirt and blood covered her rugby shirt and jeans, and her trainers were gone. Sharp gravel bit into her stocking feet as she staggered, trying not to fall. Sarah was surprised she was able to stand. She was certain the impact with the car had broken her legs and maybe even her back.

She wiped her hands on her shirt and cried out in pain. Dirt and blood covered her palms, and her knees felt like they’d been scraped with sandpaper. Her chest hurt with every breath, and she wondered if her ribs were broken.

Barely able to make out a faint light shining in the distance, Sarah stumbled toward it, thinking it was the yard light near her father’s barn. She clapped her hands over her ears in an attempt to block out the incessant ringing, but it didn’t work.

Sarah blinked and stared at one of the ghostly trees lining the roadway. The trunk expanded and contracted before her eyes as if it were breathing. A gust of wind rasped through the branches, and a sudden cry of a long-eared owl made her jump. Shivering, Sarah crossed her arms and rubbed, but pain shot all the way to her fingertips, forcing her to stop.


Recipe of the Day

Image Courtesy Of Jeff Wilcox, Flickr
Image Courtesy Of Jeff Wilcox, Flickr

I’m from Pennsylvania and we are into pumpkin everything here. My favorite drink is a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I thought I’d share a great recipe I’ve found online.

Make Your Own Damn Pumpkin Spice Latte For $1

Music of the Day

I listened to a ton of music while writing The Last Protector. One song that really sets the mood of the story is Cool Kids by Echosmith. Have a listen!


Breaking The Ice And A Knockout! @EmmaCalin / @mandybaggot

We’re getting a little rough and tumble at the Author’s Café today! Not only are with up for a little Breaking the Ice by Mandy Baggot, we’re also serving up a Knockout! from Emma Calin. Read on for great excerpts, super treats, and fab music!


Breaking the Ice

Breaking the Ice

Genre: Romance
Can Samantha save her job, save the Civic Hall and stop her panic attacks just long enough to give her away her heart? More info →
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Excerpt From Breaking The Ice

The air was cold but it felt refreshing as it hit her. Samantha skated round trying to emulate some of the moves she has seen performed earlier. The women had spun and twisted and turned without putting a foot out of place and, when they’d been lifted high in the air, they had held themselves with such poise. They’d been dainty and coordinated, things Samantha didn’t know the first thing about.

She skated on, gaining speed and relishing the feeling. She lifted one foot off the ice and straightened her leg behind her, copying a move from the Miss Saigon routine. She smiled to herself, She was shaky but she had tried it and no one had seen her. She felt like a naughty schoolgirl doing something she shouldn’t. It was unlike her, she didn’t do anything she shouldn’t, but this felt fun.

She was so busy racing back round the rink to try the move again she didn’t see Jimmy taking to the ice behind her. She pushed off, gained momentum and gingerly lifted her leg up behind her again.

‘Nice work,’ Jimmy announced, appearing at the side of her.

Samantha panicked, shocked at the sound of a voice so close to her. Her leg came down, she slipped in her desperation to stop herself and she landed with a bump on the hard, cold floor, jarring her back. Dainty and coordinated, hmm.

‘God, I’m sorry. I thought you heard me come on the ice. I didn’t meant to scare you. Are you OK?’ Jimmy asked, bending down beside her.

‘I’m fine. I was just being stupid. I’m sorry I was on the ice. I didn’t think anyone else was here,’ Samantha responded, getting quickly to her feet.

‘Just me and some guy on the bar. He let me back in. What are you still doing here?’ Jimmy wanted to know.

‘Cleaning up. Health and safety regulations. It all has to be properly disposed of,’ Samantha informed him.

‘I can imagine. So, are you going to keep me company? Stay a while?’ Jimmy asked her.

‘No. No, I should get going. Cleo will be wondering where I am,’ Samantha spoke, skating across the rink towards the exit.

‘I don’t think she will. She seemed rather attached to Jeremy. Said they were going for an Indian and then on to a club.’ Jimmy followed her to the edge of the rink.

‘You met Cleo! Oh, I’m glad. She’ll be so pleased. She thinks you’re fantastic,’ Samantha gushed, happy for her sister.

‘I didn’t have a lot of choice. She burst into my dressing room with two other women with really blonde hair. They screamed a lot and wanted photos,’ Jimmy told her with a smile.

‘That was Chantelle and Harmoney. They work with her.’ Samantha prepared to get off the rink.

‘Come on, don’t go. Skate with me a bit, tell me what you thought of the show.’

He had put his hand out and touched her bare arm.


Knockout! (Passion Patrol #1)

Knockout! (Passion Patrol #1)

Series: Passion Patrol, Book 1
Knockout! A romance novel with a twist of suspense that will take you on a roller coaster ride of passion, deception and love. More info →
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Excerpt From Knockout!

For a moment the box sat in the palm of his open hand. She watched his long dark lashes as his eyes studied it. Then he opened the box and at once the sparkle of the largest and most beautiful diamond reflected the light of the chandeliers in perfect rays as if he had opened a door from which the sound of a symphony filled the room. He slipped it on her finger.

“You are mine and I am yours,” he said simply, as his eyes embraced hers in a ballet that swept her up and possessed her in its grip.

She blinked at the platinum band set with a 5 carat princess cut solitaire diamond.

“It fits,” she mumbled stupidly, ashamed that she could not rise above banal confusion.

“I stole – borrowed – a ring from your flat to get the size. I was very bad.”

“It is so, so beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. ”

“Not beautiful enough,” he said.

“I can’t find the words,” she began.

“The magic word was ‘Yes’ – and you found it,” he smiled.

She looked away. How could she go on? How could she deceive him? She was his woman. She was a detective, a fraud and a liar. He was her man and she loved him more than her own life. A battle raged in her mind and heart. She retreated onto safe ground.

“You decided to marry me at my flat after one taxi ride and one night?”

“Oh no – I am a boxer Anna, I cannot wait that long to react. It was raining and I was standing in the street, I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever seen and I knew that if I did not act, then it would be too late.”

She shook her head in wonder and disbelief. Could real life be like that? She looked at him – and knew that it was like that. Just like that!

“I must tell someone,” she said, bursting with joy, despair and the loneliness of her false life.

“Maybe your mother. You never seem to be in touch – but I guess you talk to them all the time about the business.”

It would have been the natural thing to do, but she had hardly spoken to her since she had rejected the family firm and had moved to London as a cop. Her mother had planned a life for her and it did not involve crime and violence. As she thought she realized that her time with Beaumont had reduced her own circle of friends down to zero. Judy was her closest confidante and it was by no means certain that she would approve.

“I’ll let it wait – I’ll just wrap myself up in you,” she said, focusing on the beautiful ring.

That night they made love tenderly, without urgency or complication, reaching out to each other like the roots of two seeds blown by chance and woven together as one. At around midnight they lay together in the moonlight. The window was a little open and admitted sounds from the street. In the distance voices and traffic spoke the muffled language of other lives. Somewhere close by in another apartment a sad saxophone played reflective moody late night jazz. If there had ever been a moment when she would have stopped time it would have been then – in the mellow moments of their after-love and their before-life. The great River Seine rippled and pushed on to the sea as the sun tip-toed the back stairs of the world climbing towards dawn across Paris. Maybe the morning light would never uncover two lovers hiding within the protection of each other’s arms…


Recipe of the Day

Emma Calin dropped me a line when I asked her about recipes. Here’s what she had to say!

As for coffee–well, I love all things coffee.  Last week I had my best ever cup of coffee! It was the most expensive cup I’ve ever bought –  It cost €9 (about $10, £6.50!). It was a simple cappuccino–strong, strong smooth coffee with a thick foam layer, served with a Bussolà Buranello.Check out the picture for a clue as to why it was so expensive…..

Emma also included a video. I am so jealous of this view!!


Here’s a yummy recipe to make your own Cappuccino right at home!

Photo courtesy Emma Calin

You’ll need:

  • 1 double shot of espresso to your favorite cup
  • 4 oz. foamed milk

Add your foamed milk on top of the espresso as soon as foaming is completed.

Add sugar to sweeten.


Music of the Day

We’ve got some great music for you today! Let’s hear from the authors about their top picks!

Emma says:

It has to be Charles Aznavour singing ‘She’.  My hero is a hunky half-French half-American boxing champ whose father was a French poet.  He meets the heroine in the swirl of a London evening.  This song expresses his overwhelming emotion at seeing her. The London based movie “Notting Hill” features this song and I must confess it was playing in my head as I imagined Freddie tumbling over and over into a hopeless love for Anna at first sight. It’s a knockout song in any language.



Mandy says:

I think it will have to be Run by Leona Lewis. I can imagine Samantha and Jimmy ice skating to that one in the final scenes. It’s quite funny as that song is also mentioned in my upcoming release, Truly Madly Greekly. It’s quite atmospheric!


Leona Lewis Run from M.Pokora A. on Vimeo.

Happy Book Birthday! Castaway In The Caribbean by Janice Horton

We love a great party here at the Author’s Café! Nothing’s better than a book birthday, though! So join us in wishing Janice Horton a happy one for Castaway In the Caribbean! It’s already release day in Janice’s home country of Scotland, so why not get the party started?

Castaway In the Carribean

Castaway In the Carribean

Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication Year: 2015
In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.
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About the Book

Vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, Janey Sinclair is persuaded by her magazine editor boss to do a quick island hop in order to supervise an impromptu photo-shoot for the front cover. With no flights immediately available, Janey is directed to the harbour.

Captain Travis Mathews hates tourists, although he’s not above making a bit of money off a prissy and sharp tongued young British girl when she’s desperate to get to the neighbouring island of Tortola.

After striking a deal, they set off together in Travis’s weather-beaten old boat. When the vessel comes to a sudden full stop in the sea, the mismatched pair end up as castaways on an uninhabited island.

In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.

Look Inside

I thought this was such a great post from Janice’s bio that I decided to include it here. Read on!

A message from Janice:

I was incredibly fortunate to spend most of last summer in the Caribbean, writing and researching my latest novel Castaway in the Caribbean. I found it challenging only in the respect of being continually distracted from the manuscript by the tropical sunshine, the white sand beaches, the warm aquamarine sea, rum cocktails, and the fabulous social scene on offer. Many of these distractions are well documented on my website, blog and Facebook page, if you are interested in reading the details and seeing the photos!
For the purposes of proper research for Castaway in the Caribbean, I travelled to and explored many Caribbean Islands and, despite my tendency for sea sickness, I also spent a lot of time in boats. I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for this romantic adventure novel because, of this chain of around ninety small islands, islets, cays and rocks in the Caribbean Sea, many are uninhabited.
I eventually settled down to write this romantic adventure story on the Caribbean island of Utila, the smaller of the Bay Islands, just off the coast of Honduras. Likened to the Key West of long ago, Utila is a quaint, unspoilt and laid-back little island. Sitting on the largestbarrier reef in the western hemisphere, it is also a paradise for scuba diving, which is exactly what my husband was doing every day while I was busy writing this story.
Research is a valuable tool for a writer, so I do hope all the fun and adventure I had in the Caribbean has found its way into the pages of Castaway in the Caribbean.

The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for this romantic adventure novel
I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Do you recognise the above rock formation from the opening scene in the movie?
Researching Tortola – The British Virgin Islands
Janice Horton writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Look out for Janice’s new release for 2015 Castaway in the Caribbean and her AmazonKindle bestselling books Bagpipes and Bullshot and Reaching for the Stars and her fun Voodoo Romance series of novellas. Her nonfiction guide to online promotion How To Party Online is recommended reading by publishers. Janice is a senior editor at the award-winning Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine (LLm)

Coffee, Tea, Gypsies and Recipes For Disaster / @SherylBrowne / @CarolineJames12

It’s another Saturday closer to Spring! So why not welcome the season with some great news reads? Today, we’re featuring Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy and Me by Caroline James and Recipes For Disaster by Sheryl Browne. Read on for today’s feature! Plus don’t forget the recipe at the end.


Coffee, Tea, the Gypsy & Me

Coffee, Tea, the Gypsy & Me

Genre: Romance
Jo’s romance with the gypsy began with his first kiss, she never forgot it… When Jo Edmond’s husband runs off with their nanny and disappears into a Spanish sunset, Jo resolves to make a new life with her baby son. She impulsively purchases Kirkton House a run down guest house and with the help of a colourful cast of characters, establishes a thriving country house hotel. Jo opens the hotel during Fair Week, a famous 300 year old gypsy tradition, hated by the locals and loved by every tinker and traveller in the country. Romance is the last thing on her mind, until the enigmatic John Doherty walks into her life... More info →
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Excerpt From Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy, And Me

Jo hurried to reception and collided with Hattie who came out of the kitchen with a plate of canapés.“Look out! Shite I nearly lost them!” Hattie cursed.

“You’ve got pastry on your mouth,” Jo snapped. She was reeling from the degrees of warmth and hostility she’d just encountered.

“She’s a sour cow eh?” Hattie nodded at the beautiful silver fox fur coat piled on the office chair.

“Don’t you think you should hang that up?” Jo began but stared with horror at the coat. Two of the canapés were face down on the silk lining. Oily pesto oozed over the fabric creating a dark stain. “Hell! Jinny will kill us if she sees that. For God’s sake, Hattie, do something!”

“Well I’m not licking it off. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with warm soapy water.” Hattie disappeared to the kitchen as Jo stared with dismay at the expensive coat.

“How’s it going, babe?” A man’s voice whispered.

Jo spun round and in an effort to hide the damage, plonked herself on the coat. Pete Parks placed his hands on the counter and leaned over. Jo felt trapped. She also felt a warm oily mess penetrate the back of her dress.

“Oh, hello there…” Jo said nervously. “Did you want something?” God he’s got incredibly blue eyes!

“You know what I want babe.”

Jo felt like a rabbit trapped in the headlights. Cornered with no where to go. The door to reception flew open and caught Pete on the forehead. He reeled back from the blow. Oblivious, Hattie hurried through with a dishcloth in her hand.

“What in God’s name are you sitting there for? You’ll look like you’ve shit yourself!” Hattie tugged the coat from under Jo.

“Oh hello, Pete, can we help you?” Hattie saw Pete steady himself. Dazed, he held his hand to his brow.

“Have you tumbled?” Hattie asked “Not used to the champagne eh?”

“Hattie!” Jo hissed, “Mr Parks was looking for the lavatory.”

Hattie rolled her eyes heavenward. She threw the dishcloth at Jo then guided Pete away.

“Well the lav is on the left, you’ll not find it in here.”


Nothing Found


Excerpt From Recipes For Disaster

Duly prompted by the chilli pepper, my mind drifted blissfully off in the direction of Adam again, and the lovely meal he’d so effortlessly prepared at his home, turning down all offers of help, sensibly. So masterful in the bedroom. Sigh. Um, kitchen. God, honestly, what was the matter with me. A gloopy smile on my face, I reached for the vegetable knife, ticking off each job as I tackled it.Sigh. “Ahem.”

Tum-ti-tum. Sprinkle, sprinkle. “I’m getting good at this, Rambo. What do you reckon?”

Squeak, squeak.”

“Thank you, sweetie.”

“I know who I’d like to cover in oil, hey, Rambo?” I chatted to my dog, in the absence of a certain other available body, as I sloshed the soup into Becky’s tureen, the bowls not being practical for transportation.

Squeak, squeeaak.”

“Well, he might a bit,” I conceded, missing the tureen in favor of the working surface. Whoops. “But I’ll try to be gentle with him. Haw, haw.”

Ooh, yummy — I had a quick lick of the spoon — tastes scrummy. Not as scrummy as Adam, of course. Sigh. Attempting, yet again, to drag my lewd mind away from my delectable man, I sliced up my artisan bread — previously lovingly hand-crafted … by Becky — and peeled a clove of garlic with which to rub gently all over — the bread, not Adam. Stoppit. Then, feeling pleased with myself, I salted the bread lightly, as per instructions, plucked up the olive oil and—Ding dong went the doorbell. “Rrroowf, Rrrroowf. Grrrrr. Squeak. Splat!” went Rambo—dropped it.

“Sh… ugar! Rambo! Come here, Sweet… Eeek! ” Fit Flops, I decided, close to curtailing sexual gymnastics with Adam forever, were not desirable footwear for olive-oil-coated ceramic floors.

“Hell!” Reacquainting toes with toebar, I took a tentative step, did a little Buster-Keaton-type soft shoe shuffle, then, “Just a minute,” I trilled, clutched hold of the working surface and crawled back up the cupboard.

Phew. Well, at least I didn’t smack my chin on the way down and part company with my teeth. And at least the bottle wasn’t broken, so I didn’t have to throw myself bodily at the kitchen door, to prevent Rambo coming in and puncturing his little paws. So now what? Righting myself on my feet, I contemplated my next step. Drrriiing, went the doorbell.

“Coming!” I yelled, as Rambo went into muffled, “Squeak, grrrooowwwf,” overdrive, zoomed around in a circle and then skidded towards me.

“No! Rambo, stay!” Drat, too late, I realized, as Rambo ice-skated clackily across the kitchen floor, did a perfect figure-of-eight, then landed like Bambi, legs splayed and Piggy still feverishly gripped in his mouth.

“Baby! Oooh, shoot. Stay! Don’t move, sweetie. Mummy’s coming.”

Kicking off Fit Flops, I squelched carefully towards him, for fear of slipping again and flattening him. “Are you all right, sweetie, hmmm?”


“Aw, babe.” Careless of greasy knees, I dropped down beside him and plucked my puzzled JR up. “Has Rambo got an oily tum, then? Poor baby. Naughty floor.” Hands under armpits, I held him high and peered under his piggy to survey damage to belly, and…

Rat-a-tat-tat, came a tapping at the kitchen window. Honestly, some people. I mean, is there no privac… Oh… miGod! “Um, hi. Little accident,” I mouthed.

“Major flipping catastrophe,” I mumbled, tucking a wriggly Rambo under my arm and knee-walking across the floor. Cupboards for support, I levered myself up the sink-unit, and peered over the taps, to see Adam’s snooty mum peering back.

“He-lloo,” I trilled, and beamed her a bright, if slightly imbecilic, smile.

Her Maj blinked at me bemusedly.


Recipe of the Day

Today we have a special treat. Sheryl Brown is sharing a recipe from Recipes For Disaster. A great treat for the Author’s Café.

Chilled asparagus soup
By stu_spivack (chilled asparagus soup) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Green Soup
Ingredients for 6 portions:

  • 2 cups cucumbers
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 large white onion
  • ½ cup fresh, mixed herbs: basil, oregano, chives, parsley, or whatever your herb garden has
  • 1 l vegetable broth
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml Balsamico vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small chilli pepper

Cooking Instructions
Divide the vegetables into two piles. Take the seeds out of the chilli pepper. One pile of vegetables gets finely cut. The other pile, along with the chilli and herbs, gets thrown into a blender or a big bowl to use a magic wand on. Slowly add the vegetable broth to the vegetables while finely blending. Also add the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup into soup bowls and decorate with the finely chopped vegetables. You can eat fresh artisan bread with this, rubbed with garlic, slightly salted and covered in some olive oil. The perfect soup for hot summer days.


Music of the Day

Sheryl Browne was inspired by the music to Perfect Disaster…

A Gift Of Appley Green / @MiriamWakerly / @anneli33

Happy Saturday! Any exciting plans for the weekend? How about getting away with us for a little while? Here at the Author’s Café, we thought we’d escape to a quaint English village for a look at what life’s really like there, before flying over to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula for a little romance and a lot of setting. Read on for more on this edition of The LLm Author’s Café!


Shades of Appley Green

Shades of Appley Green

Genre: Contemporary
Steph is a special, but troubled young woman. Chosen by the most venerated man in Appley Green to fulfil his mission, she feels publicly admired rather than privately loved. She certainly does not trust men! More info →
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Excerpt From Shades of Appley Green

Steph reflected that people everywhere go through these things all the time. Parents die, babies are born, work comes and goes, families move house. This was the stuff of life. She remembered how she would tell herself they were lucky to both have jobs and two healthy children and over again she would count their many blessings.

‘.. but if I give up my job, Lucas will have to wave goodbye to his idea of increasing our mortgage …’

She was brought back to reality by Barnaby striding into the bedroom, still in his boxers. “I’m going with Faith to see wonderman,” he announced.

“Excuse me?” she said, hurriedly slipping the Diary under her pillow and getting out of bed.

“Your hero bloke! You know. Faith said I could go with her.”

Steph’s mouth fell open. “I don’t think so!” She shook her head, surprised that her daughter would go ahead and fix something like that without telling her, or asking her permission in fact. “I’ll speak to her about it …”

She tapped lightly on Faith’s bedroom to warn her she was coming in. “You awake?” she pushed the door open.

Faith was dressed, brushing her black wavy hair – the complete opposite of her own straight, fair hair – in front of the full-length mirror. She turned to look at Steph with an easy-going smile; she was so beautiful, a female version of Lucas, Steph felt a lump in her throat. If only Lucas could be here with them now to see how his children had turned out …

“Hi!” said Faith. “You look awful.”

“Hmm. Thanks. Faith – did you tell Barnaby he could go with you to see Jackson?”

“No-o. He kept going on about it and I said I’d ask you,” said Faith pulling her hair up into a scrunchie. “He took it as a definite maybe. Think he feels left out.”

She had half-guessed this might happen from the start. Steph sat down on Faith’s bed. “This may be getting a bit too cosy, you know. I shouldn’t be involving my family as closely as this with work.”

“Oh, Mum. He’s more than work. A blind man could see that!”

Steph looked up sharply. “What do you mean?”



Orion’s Gift

Orion’s Gift

Will fear become their nemesis or will passion and trust surmount the violence and hostility they have endured? The exotic landscape of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, described by an author who has been there, provides the backdrop for this story of romance and treachery. More info →
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Excerpt From Orion’s Gift

Kevin held the boat steady for me. It had a 9.9 Johnson mounted on the stern. I shuddered. Johnson. Sylvia and Joel Johnson. Well, I wasn’t going to allow him back into my life. I was finished with Joel for good. And to think I actually missed him the first few days. Good riddance, Joel. If I don’t see you before I die, it’s fine with me.
“Here’s your life vest, Sylvia.” Kevin was practical, organized, and savvy about the real things in life. Unlike Joel. For that matter, everything about Kevin was unlike Joel. Could be why I liked him so much.
“Thanks. Do you think we’ll see any dolphins?”
“We might if we get out some distance into the bay. Let’s push off and we’ll putt out a little way and have a look around.”
We glided over the glassy water easily. A couple of hundred yards from the beach, Kevin cut the motor and we drifted in the sudden silence.
Now that we were sitting still and the air was no longer whooshing past, I felt the soothing rays of the sun soaking into me. The early morning wisps of mist had lifted from the bay, leaving clear blue sky reflected in a deeper blue sea. I filled my lungs with the fresh, salty air.
“Have a look.” Kevin handed me a pair of binoculars. “Up towards Mulegé, Bill told me. If you see any fins or tops of their bodies breaking the surface, let me know and we’ll try to get closer without spooking them.”
Moments later, I pointed. “There!” Kevin started the motor and, at a slower, quieter speed, angled the boat towards the school’s probable destination, so that eventually our paths would cross.
Hundreds of sleek bodies broke the surface only to curve and dive down immediately and reappear a few yards farther on. Kevin cut the motor again and we drifted, a mere speck in the middle of the huge Bay of Conception, closer than we had hoped to a huge school of dolphins, all aiming for the head of the bay.
“Listen to them!” I whisper-shouted to Kevin. The mewling, whistling, singing, and crying, as they repeatedly broke the surface of the water, was an eerie choir piece. Hauntingly beautiful, it gave me goosebumps in spite of the warm day. Kevin’s face mirrored my feelings exactly—somewhere between awe and ecstasy. My mind was suddenly in turmoil, balancing this rare and precious moment with the realization that I probably had few of them left. Peaks of happiness and bottomless pits of misery played havoc with my emotions.
My eyes filled with tears. “Thank you for bringing me out here. That was so beautiful.” I lowered my head. Just needed a moment.
“It would have been a shame to have to enjoy this all alone,” he said.
Still trying to come to terms with the amazing spectacle we had just experienced, we sat a moment longer watching the last of the dolphins disappear in the distance.
“Uh-oh!” Kevin pointed towards the open end of the bay. “Whitecaps.” He started the motor and turned the skiff towards home. Within minutes, the breaking waves had moved much closer and the glassy smooth surface changed to ripples that grew into an uncomfortable lump. I’d heard San Diego fishermen talk about the lump in the sea. Now I knew what they were talking about.
“Hang on,” he said. “It could get bumpy. I’ll take us to the nearest point of land and then we’ll work our way home along the beach.”
I gripped the gunwales of the boat where they began to curve towards the bow. We bucked into the choppy whitecaps that had now overtaken us. In no time, the sleeves of my blue cotton shirt were soaked from the spray. Two-foot waves didn’t seem like much but they followed one after the other so briskly that the small skiff took a pounding. My stomach clenched into a knot of fear as we were tossed in every direction. I tightened my grip against the bouncing of the boat. More waves splashed over the bow, soaking the front of my shirt. I was glad the water was warm. It would have been an ordeal to be splashed with icy water every few seconds. The finer spray wet my face so the drops were running off my chin. I glanced at Kevin in the stern of the boat. He was completely dry except for a bit of salt spray in his hair. He looked so good and I could only imagine what I looked like. Drowned rats came to mind.


Recipe of the Day

By Sansvase (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Sansvase (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
How about a little taste of Mexican coffee? Though I’m not so sure this will be the brew you want to start out your day, but rather end it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Tbsp Tequila
  • 1 Tbsp Kahlua
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup melted vanilla ice cream


  • In a large mug, combine Tequila, Kailua, and coffee.
  • In a small bowl, melt vanilla ice cream in microwave for 20-30 seconds.
  • Add ice cream to the coffee mixture and serve immediately.


Music of the Day

Says Anneli…

The songs I associate with the writing of Orion’s Gift are ones I heard played on someone’s portable (old-fashioned now) cassette tape player on the beach that was the setting for Orion’s Gift. Crosby, Stills, and Nash have been long-time favourites of mine, and their songs “Southern Cross” and “Change Partners” fit the storyline for my book perfectly.

Says Miriam…

CD – Adele’s 21 – Moving, emotional lyrics in all her songs, but words haunted me from Rolling in the Deep – ‘… we could have had it all …’ Succinct and powerful, this tiny sentence says so much and must’ve been something that Steph in Shades of Appley Green thought constantly, albeit as a strong character she did not allow herself to be beaten.

Adele’s songs, in fact the titles alone, could provide inspiration for entire novels! The following track, Rumour Has It, for example – well, don’t villages thrive on rumour and gossip?

Reaching For the Stars On a Sweet Occasion / @LinnBHalton / @JaniceHorton

photo credit: Ms L via photopin cc
photo credit: Ms L via photopin cc

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Before you head off to spend some time with your sweetie, how about some delectable reads from the café? Today’s post features reads from Linn B. Halton and Janice Horton.

Get ready for cupcakes and hot master chefs!


Nothing Found


Excerpt From Sweet Occasions

That night, lying in bed next to Steve, my mind is whirling. I tell myself it’s only natural that my head is all over the place, as the business is demanding every moment of my time. Truthfully though, there is something deeper gnawing away at me. Every now and then Adam’s face stares back at me from inside my head.

I keep recalling little gestures. The way his face crinkles when he smiles. His expression when he looks at Lily is one of pure, unconditional love. Is it wrong to lie in bed next to your partner and think about another man? Of course it is: what am I thinking? I’m not free, I’ve made a commitment. Besides, Steve needs me.

Then I remember the moment I nearly embarrassed myself. I thought Adam said that he loved me! What he actually said, was that he loved the cake, and that I’d done a great job. Talk about wishful thinking. The shock registered on my face immediately. I had to pretend I’d had one of those déjà vu experiences in order to explain away my reaction.

None of this is helping to empty my head of thoughts and the moment I relax Adam is back. His eyes are so intense sometimes, as if the words you are speaking aren’t enough. He wants to see beyond mere words. For a man, he’s very in touch with his emotions, despite the fact I’m pretty sure he’d deny it. I’m inviting trouble by thinking about him, because it’s a pointless exercise. It’s making me feel disloyal and it’s unsettling. I’m not a dreamer, and yet Adam has turned me into one. Day dreams are empty wishes, and he has a girlfriend who seemed pretty intent on making that very plain. Adam was embarrassed, that was obvious, but it’s a fact. Even if we do get on well, that in itself doesn’t mean a thing.

He’s an attractive man, and Charlotte is a sophisticated woman. There’s a sense of glamour, and worldliness about her, which makes me feel very dull in comparison. Why would Adam even consider looking at me, when he has such a captivating girlfriend?



Reaching For the Stars

Reaching For the Stars

Genre: Romance
Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on...? More info →
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Excerpt from Reaching For the Stars

Wearing the same champagne-soaked Armani suit he had been in for the past fourteen hours, Finlay McDuff was slumped in an armchair inside the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, on a bright January morning. He was reading about himself in the newspapers and reflecting on why, after finally achieving his life’s ambition, he should be feeling so utterly miserable.

‘Bad-boy chef wins three Golden Stars,’ declared The City News.

‘Infamous chef wins third star in Edinburgh,’ reported The Scotsman.

‘McGolden!’ boasted The Thistle.

Finn lit a cigarette and groaned. His blood-red eyes, set in dark hollows beneath heavy lids, looked as though they hadn’t ever closed during the years he had been chasing those coveted rosettes. The macaroons, as the French liked to call them, the ultimate symbols of gastronomic success. Only what use were they now?

He had put ambition over love: pride over marriage: his ego over his emotions.

Three sins for three stars, he told himself.

He longed to sleep. Not that he could sleep. Not since Gina had left. Not since she had got on that plane back to Italy and disappeared from his life. It had been three weeks and three days and he’d heard nothing from her. No phone calls, no letters, no emails, no requests for money, and no demands from her lawyer. It wasn’t like her. Gina made a point of demanding and now she’d stopped, it was driving him crazier than her constant whining ever had.

A nervous young waiter approached him from across the foyer.


‘Sir, you cannot smoke in here, it’s the law.’

Finn searched for an ashtray while his deposits threatened the Balmoral’s marble floor.

‘I’m a-afraid we don’t have any ashtrays,’ stuttered the waiter.

Finn took off a shoe and used it instead; further jeopardising the hotel’s clean air policy.

‘A d-drink, sir?’

Finn yawned and tried to check his watch but his eyes were unfocussed and rolling in his head from the as yet unprocessed alcohol still making its way round his body. ‘Nah, I’ll have a cup of tea and two paracetamol. I’ve to do an interview with some journo tosser and I need some pain relief quickly.’

He cast his mind back to the last time he had seen his wife. It had been ten o’clock on Christmas Eve, when she had stormed into his restaurant and had screamed at him over the passé in a mix of Italian, Scottish, and English, while tears poured down her face.

He remembered the restaurant being excruciatingly quiet as she had served her ultimatum. He had been tearing herbs onto a plate of foie-gras and had looked up to see if she was serious.

In full view of his diners, she had strutted back and forth with her nose and chin raised provocatively, her dark eyes fixed firmly upon him, her perfectly manicured fingernails strumming her thrusting hips, while one Italian leather shoe tapped the terrazzo-tiled floor.

Everyone in the restaurant had waited open-mouthed for his response.

But he did what he was trained to do under pressure; he cooked.

Gina, having interpreted his reticence as indifference, had pulled at her finger and thrown something down onto the passé in front of him. It was her wedding ring.

To his disbelief, it had landed straight in the foie-gras.


Recipe of the Day

Author Linn B. Halton says she loves coffee with Tia Maria Liquor. That sounded yummy! I did a little digging and found this gem of a recipe courtesy of Tia Maria themselves. Check out this recipe for Tia Espresso:

  • 30 ml TIA MARIA
  • 30 ml ESPRESSO
  • 30 ml VODKA
  • 15 ml LIQUID SUGAR
  • Combine all ingredients together with cubed ice in a boston and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with coffee beans.


Music of the Day

When I asked our authors about their playlists for these books, Janice Horton had this to say:

In my ‘celebrity chef’ novel, Reaching for the Stars, the stars mentioned both in the title and in the story are based on the famous Michelin star system, the highest accolades awarded to a chef. My title is also a double entendre, of course, meaning that to achieve at the top you have to aim high. I did lots of research for this novel in Michelin-starred kitchens and I spoke to lots of top chefs but didn’t have a music playlist as such during the writing stage. However, I found it very interesting to note that while I was launching my own ‘Reaching for the Stars’ the rapper Will.i.am was making history with his song ‘Reach for the Stars’ when it was played from the surface of Mars and beamed back to Earth on the Mars rover Curiosity – becoming the first song ever to debut from another planet. It certainly got his song noticed and made me wonder how hard it would be to have a book launch in space?!”



Linn B. Halton had another addiction. Sam Smith’s Stay With Me was played on constant loop while she wrote Sweet Occasions. Have a listen!



Thanks ladies! So nice of you to stop by the café for our lovely Valentine’s Day feature. Have a wonderful day!