The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

ALCHEMY by Ailsa Abraham


Genre: Magical Realism / Religion

Book 1 of the Alchemy series

Release Date:  27th January 2014

Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishers

A world without war? 
Professor Sawhele Fielding stumbles across an invention that would change the world; something so monumental, it could spell the end of environmental disaster and conflict. With the help of her father, a shadowy figure in the world of international banking, she begins to set into motion the biggest upheaval the planet has seen.  
But in a changed world, dark forces are threatening the fragile peace. Where modern technology is proving useless, old magic from a bygone era might just save the day. Adrian Oliver, expert in ancient religions is skeptical until faced with incontrovertible proof that ancient evil is abroad once again. 
How could a Utopian dream of free fuel and peaceful co-existence turn into a nightmare? 
Iamo, a priest of the Mother Goddess and Riga, a Black Shaman assassin captain, are thrown together – reluctantly at first – to face a threat that nobody could have imagined before “The Changes”. 

ALCHEMY is the prequel to Shaman's Drum which features the adventures of Iamo and Riga through their world in the near future, where the established religions of our own days had been banned.  

EXTRACT

Daniel stood beside me, pointing out the “Who’s Who” of this august gathering.

“The guys in leather are the Odinists, old Norse religion. Obviously, the chap with the sickle is the Chief Druid, yes, that is a fox-head he’s wearing as a headdress. Now, that one there, the shaven-headed one in a kilt-type thing. He’s the High Priest of the Egyptians. I think they have a few sub-divisions but… oh yes, here comes the High Priestess of Isis, she’s his female counterpart.”
By this time my jaw was dropping. The lady in the wig, smothered in jewellery was like something straight out of a Cleopatra movie and eye-wateringly gorgeous. Daniel nudged me again and I thought for a moment that a Christian monk in traditional brown robes had sneaked in.

“That tall woman in white. That is Lady Solus, she will probably try to take over. She’s a bit of a tartar and that young man with her is her assistant. Bright chap by all accounts. Oops! Looks like one of the Dianics is going to make a fuss.” I had no idea what one of those was but just made sure the camera was running, kept my mouth shut and watched. A woman with a shaven-head and a bow slung across her back stood up and pointed at the painfully thin monk-like youngster.
“Abomination!” she hissed. “He leaves!”

The priestess indicated to me as Lady Solus turned very slowly and gave her a glare that would have frozen water in two seconds.

“He stays. I do not argue with stray cats.”
The young man in question had said nothing, remaining two paces behind his boss. I caught his eye and thought there was something vaguely familiar about him. Although his face remained impassive, a pair of bright blue eyes fixed me and very slowly one eyelid dropped in an almost imperceptible wink. I was too busy to think about it then but I would have to remember where I had seen him before.

Buy Links
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ABOUT AILSA ABRAHAM
Ailsa Abraham writes under two names and is the author of six novels. Alchemy is the prequel to Shaman's Drum, published by Crooked Cat in January 2014. Both are best-sellers in their genres on Amazon.
She has lived in France since 1990, enjoys knitting and crochet and until recently was the oldest Hell's Angel in town. Her interests include campaigning for animal rights, experimenting with different genres of writing and trips back to the UK to visit friends and family. She runs an orphanage for homeless teddy bears and contributes a lot of work to Knit for Africa. She is also addicted to dressing up, saying that she is old enough to know better but too wise to care.


Thursday, 4 August 2016

A little bit of Provence in your plate...

Picture this...It's lunch time. You are on holiday somewhere hot, and you have set the table outside in the shade. The cicadas are singing, the garden smells of lavender, thyme and rosemary. It is hot so you fancy a light lunch with fresh, tasty ingredients bursting with flavours. And hopefully, you will find it here...
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
This is my last post featuring recipes from the beautiful settings in the bestselling romantic anthology LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES. Since my short story is set in the Camargue region of France, I have going to treat you to a complete Provençal meal...
LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES blurb - What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure! From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...
SONS OF THE WIND blurb   
Provence 1826. Ten years after her brother disappeared in the marshes of the Camargue, Venetia Rigby receives a letter suggesting he is alive. Will Philippe Dantès, half-gipsy master of Terres Mortes, help her find him when he has his own demons to fight?
Photo courtesy of PIxabay
LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available here for only £0.99!

And now for the recipes... They are all for 4 people (except the pudding) and very easy to prepare!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
For starter I chose a typical Provençal appetizer:
Tapenade made with olives (black olive paste)
This is an easy recipe which takes about 15 minutes to prepare and is delicious on toasts, or slices of fresh baguette or homemade bread.

Ingredients for 4 people
150 gr of black olives (without the stones)
3 anchovy fillets (you can leave those out if you don't like the taste)
2 cherry tomatoes
3 teaspoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic

Preparation
Crush the garlic. Put all other ingredients in a food processor and blend. Then pour the mixture into a small bowl, and prepare the toasts. Alternatively you can use the tapenade as a dip. That's what we do when I eat this at my sister's in Marseille!

For a variety of tastes and flavours, you can also prepare canapés with goat cheese. Serve with a glass Pastis or chilled rosé wine, or read the end of this post for a refreshing homemade lemonade.

My main course is very light as well: Provençal Goat Cheese and Tomato 'Feuilletés' (in Puff Pastry) with Niçoise Salad
Ingredients (for 4 people = 4 'feuilletés')
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
300 gr of puff pastry (frozen is fine, just make sure it is thoroughly defrosted)
4 thick slices of beef tomato
4 thick slices of goat cheese (works better if from a goat cheese log)
4 teaspoons of pesto rosso (sun dried tomato paste that you buy or can make yourself)
Fresh basil
Herbes de Provence (thyme, rosemary...)
Black pepper
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
It takes 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake in the oven.
Pre-heat your oven at 200̊ C.
Take off the tomato peeps and the crust from the goat cheese log.
Roll out the puff pastry and divide into 4 equal squares. Cover with the pesto rosso. Fold the corners of each square, then put one slice of goat cheese, topped with one slice of tomato. Sprinkle the herbs and pepper.
Put in the oven. It should be ready in about 15 minutes.
Take out, sprinkle fresh basil and enjoy!

Niçoise Salad
Ingredients for 4 people
4 tomatoes
4 hard boiled eggs
12 anchovy fillets
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
1 large white onion
fresh basil
1 garlic clove
black olives
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Photo courtesy of PIxabay
This takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Peel and slice the cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and leave.
Boil the eggs. Slice when ready.
Wash and slice the tomatoes.
Peel the pepper, take out the inside and cut into thin slices.
Peel and cut the onion and the garlic and mix everything with the olive oil and the fresh basil.
Then arrange the slices of tomatoes, cucumber and eggs on a dish. Rinse the anchovy fillets and arrange with the salad vegetables together with the sliced eggs and the black olives. Pour the basil and olive oil sauce or keep separate.

And now for dessert...Cherry Clafoutis
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Ingredients for 8 people (it makes either 2 clafoutis using 2 cake tins of 15 cm diametre each, or 1 large one)
·        500 gr of cherries
·        250 ml of milk
·        250 ml of single cream
·        30 g of unsalted butter
·        1 vanilla pod
·        4 eggs
·        75 g of caster sugar or soft  brown sugar (it is called 'cassonade' in France)
·        50 g of flour
·        Icing sugar to sprinkle on the clafoutis for decoration

It takes 15 minutes to prepare and needs 35 minutes in the oven (thermostat at 180̊ )
1. Pre-heat the oven at 180°C. Grease the cake tin (or cake tins if you are making 2 smaller Clafoutis) well with butter. Wash, dry and take the stones out of the cherries. Place most of the cherries at the bottom of the cake tin, but keep some for later.
2. Heat up the milk and the single cream with the butter and the vanilla pod in a pan. Whilst this is heating, take a bowl and whisk the eggs with the soft brown sugar (or caster sugar), then add the flour. Whisk well in order to obtain a smooth mixture.
When the milk comes to the boil, take the vanilla pod out and pour on the egg mixture. Carry on whisking well.
3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin (or the 2 cake tins) and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at thermostat 180°C.
4. After about 15 minutes, put the rest of the cherries on top of the cake and put the cake back in the oven (if you put them on earlier, they will sink and it won't look at nice.)
5. Finish baking. When ready take the clafoutis out of the oven and place it on a cake cooling tray. Wait until it has cooled down completely to remove from the tin and sprinkle with icing sugar (it becomes harder as it cools down).
Et voilà! It is delicious on its own, or with some whipping cream or vanilla ice-cream.

And now for drinks... You can drink a chilled rosé wine, or if you fancy a delicious soft drink, why not try and make your own lemonade? I have just the recipe.

Ingredients for 2 people
600 ml mineral water (sparkly or still)
1 yellow lemon
120 gr of strawberries
fresh mint
This takes 10 minutes to prepare but you need to leave it in the fridge for 24 hours. Wash the fruits. Slice the lemon. Cut the strawberries. In a pitcher, put all the fruit, add a few leaves of fresh mint and the mineral water, then leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

I hope you enjoyed my Provençal meal. I know I feel very hungry now, so I am off to the kitchen...













Wednesday, 27 July 2016

What about a swirly dessert from Vienna?


You will have realised by now that I have a sweet tooth and love pudding! Therefore I chose yet another dessert recipe for this week's blog. Apple Strudel must be one of the world's most famous desserts. Originally from Vienna, in Austria, it is the perfect recipe to illustrate Lynn Crain's romantic time travel short story SEALED WITH A KISS, which is set in Vienna in 1874.

LETTERBOX STORIES is a bestselling anthology of romantic short stories and is available from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letterbox-Love-Stories-International-Romance-ebook/dp/B01HJ41MKQ?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure! From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...
 
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

SEALED WITH A KISS by Lynn Crain
In 2084, time travelling detective, Tandi Reynolds, tipped off by a letter, needs to stop an assassin before he kills a newly elected leader. When she finds him in 1874, Vienna, it’s clear a cold blooded killer is only one of her problems. Time is fleeting, so falling in love with her contact, the charismatic Count Leopold Radetzky von Radetz, is a bad idea, but keeping her feelings in check is not easy when she relies on him for her every need.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Apple Strudel
Serves 6
Takes about 30 minutes to prepare and 35 minutes to bake
 
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Ingredients
3 cups of Granny Smith apples or any other baking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 sheet of frozen Puff Pastry
1/4 cup of seedless raisons (which you soak overnight in rum or water)
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tbsp water

Instructions
1. Thaw the puff pastry sheet at room temperature for 30 minutes;

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees;

3. Drain the raisins;

4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, the sugar and the cinnamon. Add the apple slices and the drained raisins. Make sure the fruit is well coated;

5. On a lightly floured surface, unfold the pastry sheet and roll it into a 16x12 inch rectangle (40x30cms);

6. Place the pastry so that the shorter end (12 inch / 30 cms end) is closer to you. Spoon the apples and raisins on the bottom half of the pastry, leaving a one inch border (3cms);

7. Roll the pastry like a jam roll;

8. Place the strudel with the seam side down on a baking sheet. Seal the ends;

9. Beat an egg, mix with the water, and brush over the strudel;

10. Cut slits on top of the strudel so that steam can get out whilst baking;

11. Bake for about 35 minutes until golden;

12. When the strudel has cooled, sprinkle icing sugar;

13. Serve with cream (whipping cream like on the photo) or vanilla ice-cream.

I hope you will enjoy this dessert as much as me...
And now, one last photo of beautiful Vienna!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, 22 July 2016

A very Turkish Delight with Rose Anderson

Today I am 'delighted' to welcome bestselling romance author Rose Anderson (who also writes as Madeline Archer) for my weekly recipe post. Rose is one of the nine authors of LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, an anthology of romantic short stories. Each story is set in a different European country – from northern England, through France, Spain, Austria, Italy, Sardinia and Turkey – but they all have one thing in common: they all begin with a letter which changes the life of the heroine.

 


Rose's romantic fantasy More than Wishes is mostly set in Turkey. Here is the blurb for Rose's story... Raised on a sailor’s tales of adventure and eager for her own, Stella Cunningham answers an advertisement for a traveling companion to the Orient. There she purchases an ancient bronze lamp with a secret. In the land of flying carpets and genies, Stella is about to have the adventure of a lifetime.


It would never have occurred to me to actually make Turkish Delights. I thought they would be far too tricky for my modest cooking or baking skills. However, thanks to Rose's recipe I am now determined to try...I hope you will too!



Turkish Delight
Known in Turkey as
Lokum

Ingredients~

1 ½ cups water
3 cups granulated sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

½ cup orange juice

3 tablespoons orange zest

3 (.25 ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin  

¾ cup cornstarch

½ cup cold water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¾ cup chopped pistachio nuts

Confectioners' sugar for dusting


In a large saucepan, combine: water, granulated sugar and light corn syrup

Bring
to a boil over medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F (115 degrees C) on a candy thermometer. Set syrup aside, but keep the mixture hot.

Stir together: orange juice, orange zest and unflavored gelatin

Set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in ½ cup cold water. Stir into the hot syrup. Place over medium-low heat. Stirring gently, simmer until very thick.

Remove thickened syrup from heat, stir in orange juice mixture, vanilla extract, and chopped pistachios.

Generously powder an 8x8-inch pan with confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar). Pour mixture into the pan, and let cool in a cool, dry place until set (3 to 4 hours). Do not refrigerate.

When cool, sprinkle the top with a thick layer of powdered sugar. Cut into 1-inch squares. Dredge each with more powdered sugar to coat. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Thank you for this delicious recipe, Rose.

LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available from

Amazon ● Barnes and Noble ● ARe Romance eBooks ● Kobo ● iTunes ● GoogleBooks ● Fantastic Fiction


Thursday, 14 July 2016

A tasty dish from Spain with Jenny Twist's Solomillo Mudéjar


Today we are off to Spain with Jenny Twist and her mouth watering Solomillo Mudéjar. Jenny is one of the nine authors (including myself!) of LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, an anthology of romantic short stories each set in a different European country, and available here LETTERBOX STORIES Amazon for only £0.99!
What if a life-changing letter arrived in today's mail? Now imagine it leads to love and adventure! From the northern British Isles, across the mainland of Europe, and on to Turkey, nine international Award-winning and Multi-published Romance Authors share spellbinding love stories told across time. This collection includes contemporary, historical and futuristic time travel romances touched by magic. And each begins with a letter...

Here is the blurb for THE MINSTREL BOY by Jenny Twist
In 1936 a band of students went off to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Only one came home.

SOOMILLO MUDEJAR

INGREDIENTS:

·1kg Loin of Pork

·Salt and Pepper

·1 teaspoon Sweet Paprika

·225g medium-thick slices of Jamón Serrano (ham)

·450g Onions peeled

·2 tbsp Olive Oil

·7 tbsp dry (fino) Sherry

·240ml Chicken Stock

PREPARATION:

1.  Preheat the oven to 180ºC, Gas Mark 4. Rinse the pork under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2.  Mix some salt and pepper with the paprika and rub over the outside of the pork.

3.  Lay half the ham slices side-by-side to form a long rectangle. Place the pork on top and lay the remaining ham over the meat. Wrap the ham around the meat and secure with kitchen string.

4.  In a roasting pan, heat the oil over high heat until very hot then fry the pork joint until browned on all sides.

5.  Place the onions or shallots around the meat and continue to fry over a high heat until they begin to brown.

6.  Add the sherry and stock then transfer to the oven and roast for about 1 hour, basting the meat from time to time with the pan juices.

7.  Remove the meat from the pan, cut into slices, and arrange with the onions on a warmed serving platter. Pour the juices from the pan over the top and serve immediately.

The term mudéjar is used for Muslims— and for their culture— who converted to Christendom during the Reconquista. The first mudéjares date back to the late eleventh century, when the Castilian king, Alfonso VI, expelled the Muslims from Toledo, allowing only converts to stay. Almost half a millennium later, in 1502, just ten years after the conclusion of the reconquest in Granada by the Catholic Kings, a royal decree ordered that every Muslim in the newly united country must convert or leave.

Thank you very much, Jenny, for this tasty recipe!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Two Desserts Recipes from Greece...Thank You Denysé Bridger!


Today it's not one, but two, recipes I am featuring on the blog thanks to multi-published author Denysé Bridger. Denyse's romantic short story -  ALL OR NOTHING - is published in the recently released anthology LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, and is set in Greece...so we will be enjoying two traditional sweet recipes from Greece!

ALL OR NOTHING by Denysé Bridger

Casino Coranthos is a playground for wealthy, bored people, but for some, it’s also a place where dreams and promises change lives forever. When a letter becomes part of an unexpected inheritance for Ryann Thomson, her aunt’s past brings her face to face with Ariston Katsaros, a man haunted by loss and driven by anger. As the attraction between them sizzles and grows, can Ryann convince him she isn’t looking to rob him or his father, or will she become a casualty of Ari’s vengeance? In this dangerous game of all or nothing, her heart and future happiness are at stake.

LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available from Amazon here
Hello Denysé, and welcome. What can you tell us about your Greek recipes today?


 Loukoumades (Greek Donuts with Honey and Walnuts)

– A traditional Greek delicacy

Loukoumades are little bite-sized fluffy sweet honey puffs (the Greek version of donuts), which are deep fried to golden and crispy perfection. Greek donuts (loukoumades) are traditionally served soaked in hot honey syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with chopped walnuts or toasted sesame seeds. Simply irresistible! For the chocolate lovers (like me!) go over the top and drizzle these delicious Greek donuts (loukoumades) with some rich chocolate sauce!

For the loukoumades:

1 cup of lukewarm water (40C)

1 cup of lukewarm milk

15g active dry yeast (0.5 oz.)

3 and 1/4 of a cup flour

2 tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

4 tbsps olive oil

oil for frying

For the garnish

1 1/2 cup honey

cinnamon powder

chopped walnuts

loukoumades-2



For the chocolate sauce:

200g dark chocolate, chopped (7 ounces)

110ml water (4 fluid ounces)

75g caster sugar (3 ounces)



Instructions

To prepare this traditional loukoumades recipe, start by making the dough. In the mixers bowl add the water and yeast. Stir with a fork and wait for 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves completely. Into the same bowl, add the rest of the ingredients for the dough and whisk at high speed (for about 2 minutes) until the mixture becomes a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 1 hour to rise.

Into a medium sized frying pan pour enough vegetable oil to deep fry the loukoumades. Heat the oil to high heat until it begins to bubble. Test if the oil is hot enough by dipping in some of the dough for the loukoumades. If it sizzles the oil is ready.

Dip a tablespoon in some water and spoon out some of the dough into the hot oil. Repeat this procedure until the surface off the pan is comfortably filled. You should dip the spoon in the water every time, so that the batter doesn’t stick on it.

While the loukoumades are fried, use a slotted spoon to push them into the oil and turn them on all sides, until golden brown. Place the loukoumades on some kitchen paper to drain. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

When done, place the loukoumades on a large platter, drizzle with the heated honey and sprinkle with cinnamon and chopped walnuts.

If you are in a mood for some chocolate, replace the honey with chocolate sauce. To prepare the chocolate sauce for the loukoumades, add in a saucepan the sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chocolate (chopped) and whisk, until the chocolote has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the warm chocolate over the loukoumades, sprinkle with some roughly chopped walnuts or almonds and enjoy!

Tips:

The perfect traditional loukoumades (Greek donuts) are crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy and airy in the inside. To achieve the perfect texture for your loukoumades give the dough time to rise and it will reward you with its distinctive air-y fluffiness. When preparing this loukoumades recipe, the key is to use the right temperature. Always dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water and let the dough to rise in warm environment. If the room temperature is low, a little trick is to preheat the oven to 40-50 C, turn it off and place the dough in the warm oven. Deep fry the loukoumades in hot oil. Make sure to fry them in batches, so that the surface off the pan is comfortably filled, otherwise the loukoumades will probably stick together and the temperature of the oil will decrease. You don’t want your loukoumades to become mushy and less crunchy on the outside.

Give this traditional Greek loukoumades recipe a try and enjoy with a full spoon of vanilla ice cream on top!



And now for recipe number 2!

Kariokes (Walnut-filled Chocolate Crescents)

Delicious chocolate and walnut filled crescents dipped in more chocolate! Soft and with an unexpected crunchy bite, these delicious treats are very popular among the chocolate lovers during Christmas time. Best part? They’re dead simple to make, with the preparation lasting less than half an hour and no baking required, you have to try them!

Ingredients

250g sugar (9 ounces)

250g water (9 ounces)

125g dark chocolate, cut in small pieces (4.5 ounces)

85g butter (3 ounces)

300g walnuts, chopped (10.5 ounces)

zest of 1 orange

juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tbsps)

450g Pettit beurre biscuits, powdered (16 ounces)

1kg dark chocolate for the coating (35 ounces)

Instructions

To prepare the filling for the kariokes, pour in a pot the water and sugar and bring to the boil; let it boil for a few minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pot from the stove and add the butter, the chocolate (cut in small pieces), the orange zest and the lemon juice; blend until the chocolate has melted and the ingredients combine.

Pour the mixture in a bowl and mix in the powdered biscuits and chopped walnuts; blend, until the ingredients combine.

On a working surface, line some plastic wrap and pour in 1/3 of the mixture. Form the mix into a roll, wrap it up and put it in the fridge overnight. Repeat the same with rest of the mixture, forming 3 rolls, about 17cm long and 3-4 cm thick. Leave in the fridge overnight.

A little bit  before you take the rolls out of the fridge, start making the coating. To melt the chocolate it is best to use a bain-marie (or double boiler), a piece of equipment used to heat the chocolate gently and gradually to fixed temperatures so that it doesn’t burn. If you don’t have a Bain-marie, break the chocolate into small pieces and drop into a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water and place the bowl on top so that it rests on the rim of the pan (the bowl should not to touch the water). Place the pan, with the bowl on top, over low heat until the chocolate has melted, whilst stirring occasionally.

Take the rolls out of the fridge, unwrap the plastic wrap and slice them in equal slices, about 1cm thick. Dip each piece in the chocolate, using a fork and then place on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper; repeat with all the pieces. When done, let the kariokes to cool down, at room temperature (not in the fridge), until the chocolate thickens.

Thank you so much for these delicious recipes all the way from Greece!


Friday, 1 July 2016

OCCUPYING LOVE by Marilyn Chapman

Today I am delighted to welcome author Marilyn Chapman to talk about her latest release, OCCUPYING LOVE.

 Hello Marilyn. It's always a pleasure to meet you, even if it's only in the virtual world today, instead of the Hebden Bridge pub where we enjoy a lovely lunch and a chat every few months.

I would like to congratulate you on the release of your novel. You must be delighted...and what a stunning cover! Can you tell us a little about you?

I got my first break writing in a football magazine when I was 15 and have been writing ever since. An NCTJ qualified journalist, I spent my early years on the Blackpool Evening Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express in Lancashire.  I then helped to set up a family PR and publishing company on the Fylde Coast and freelanced for national newspapers and magazines. I now live in Lancashire with my husband. We have two children and two granddaughters who make us feel about 21!

That's wonderful. What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to write.  I was always scribbling poems and short stories in a secret book I kept in my bedroom. When I told my school careers officer that I wanted to be a journalist she was horrified!

Guernsey - Photo courtesy of Pixabay
I wonder why. It must be a fascinating job. Can you tell us about your latest novel?

Occupying Love is set in the Occupation of Guernsey in World War Two and it’s the book I’ve always wanted to write.  It’ a fictional account of love, loss, bravery and heartbreak but ultimately of hope and happiness.

What is the one thing you absolutely need to write? (quiet, music, an empty house, coffee or chocolate?)

A pencil!  I have never been able to create characters on a keyboard – for some reason it has to be on paper.

We all have our own favourite way of working. I need to write things down too, and I have a collection of Clairefontaine notebooks I do all my scribbling in. What are you working on at the moment?

The sequel to my debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees. This follows reporter Sophie as she moves into the seventies, with a new job in radio and a love life a lot more complicated than she ever thought possible!

That sounds intriguing...What was your best ever moment as a writer?

Having my debut novel, Baggy Pants and Bootees traditionally published in 2014 after being shortlisted for the Festival of Romance new talent award. Seeing the paperback on the shelf in my favourite bookshop, Plackitt & Booth in Lytham, next to Victoria Hislop’s book of short stories The Last Dance rounded it off perfectly!

I can understand why that was a great and proud moment for you, Marilyn. It's wonderful to see your book in print. Why is Occupying Love so important to you?

I’ve waited a long time to publish a novel about the Occupation of the Channel Islands after starting the initial draft more than 20 years ago. I wanted to do justice to the islanders who lost their lives during the Occupation. The book is dedicated to my uncle, David Richard Brown, who died at the age of 13 whilst evacuated to Oldham, Lancs. I think of him as the Guernsey boy who never came home.

That is very sad indeed.

And now for the word association test...PLEASE CHOOSE 5 WORDS BELOW AND WRITE THE FIRST 3 WORDS THAT COME TO YOUR MIND!

1. sun                           stars, sky, night

2. summer                 Guernsey, beach, splash

3. romance                 novel, love, writing

4. chocolate               yes, please, now

5. reading                   Escape, inform, entertain

Excerpt from OCCUPYING LOVE

‘Don’t smile at them, they’re the enemy.’

‘I wasn’t smiling.’ Maggie pulled a face. ‘I just nodded, that’s all. I’m trying to be civil. Besides – what am I supposed to do?’

The two friends were walking down The Grange on their way to town, passing German soldiers on bikes or on foot at almost every turn. With her shapely figure and glossy brown hair, Lydia stood out against her friend’s chubby build and plain features.

‘Ignore them, Maggie, that’s what. They’ll be stealing our homes and our jobs next.’

‘I’m sorry, but. I can’t help feeling happy, despite the stupid Occupation. It’s so good to have you back again.’

The two girls had been friends since before they could walk. At the age of nine they’d scratched their arms with a penknife till they drew blood, vowing solemnly that nothing and no-one would ever pull them apart.

‘It’s good to see you too,’ Lydia said, linking arms, ‘We’re prisoners here now, don’t forget. We need to be careful.’

‘Do you mind very much not being able to go back to England?’

‘Of course not,’ Lydia lied. Just days after the Germans had landed in Guernsey she already felt trapped. ‘There are far worse places I could be. Like the prisoner of war camps in France. Half the people there have done nothing wrong. Anyway, the war won’t last forever. I’m sure Professor Williams will take me back when it’s all over.’

‘Pa says the Jerries will be gone by Christmas.’ Maggie had always been an optimist.

‘I hope your Papa’s right, but I’m not so sure.’

‘Oh, Lydia, you’re far too serious for your own good. Just look at the soldiers – they’re tall and muscular – not a bit like our lads. Which reminds me, Charlie Vaudin asked me out again last week. I don’t like him, but I’m running out of excuses now. What can I say to put him off?’

‘Oh, Maggie! How could you be so heartless?’

Author Biography

I got my first break writing in a football magazine when I was 15 and have been writing ever since. An NCTJ qualified journalist, I spent my early years on the Blackpool Evening Gazette and Lytham St Annes Express in Lancashire.  I then helped to set up a family PR and publishing company on the Fylde Coast and freelanced for national newspapers and magazines, including Woman.

My debut novel Baggy Pants and Bootees was released as an e-book in February 2014 by a small publishing house based in Britain and Germany. A time-slip novel set between World War Two and the 1960s, it was published as a paperback in August 2014.

Born in Guernsey, I have been always wanted to write a novel set in the Occupation of the Channel islands, after hearing so many scary stories about life under German rule from my grandparents when I was a child. Occupying Love is the result.

 I now live in Lancashire with my husband and we have two children and two granddaughters who make me feel about 21!

 A member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association I am currently working on a sequel to Baggy Pants and Bootees.

 Thank you so much Marilyn for being my guest today. I wish you lots of success with OCCUPYING LOVE.

OCCUPYING LOVE is available here from Amazon


You can find Marilyn at