The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Dream up a romance novel for author Helena Fairfax - and win a lovely prize!

I am delighted to welcome my good friend and fellow romance author Helena Fairfax to talk about her new project and a brilliant idea...but I will let her tell you all about it herself...

Hello Marie, and thanks for having me on your blog!

I’m hoping you and your readers can help me. Earlier this year I released two romantic suspense novellas and I’d like to combine them in one edition, along with a short story to finish the series off and bring all the stories to a nice close (and a nice romantic ending!)

Here’s is my dilemma. Although the novellas feature the same characters, they are very different in feel, and so I’m struggling to find a title that will capture the spirit of the series.

The first novella, Palace of Deception, is set in the fictional country of Montverrier – a beautifully hot, bright, sunny country by the Mediterranean sea.

Here is the blurb: When a Mediterranean princess disappears on the eve of her coronation, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting role of her life as her stand-in. But the Royal Palace of Montverrier is full of mystery and whispers of danger. Why does the sinister housekeeper insist Lizzie remains in her rooms? And what has become of the princess?
As Lizzie learns her role, her only confidant is her quiet bodyguard. Lizzie begins to fall for Léon…but what secrets is he keeping from her?

The second novella, The Scottish Diamond is set in Edinburgh, Scotland – an equally beautiful place, but now it’s getting on for autumn and the weather (and the feel of the novella) is much colder and darker and full of evenings by the fire.

Here is the blurb to The Scottish Diamond:

Fair is foul, and foul is fair…”

What do you do when it seems you can’t trust anyone…even the man you love?
When Lizzie Smith begins rehearsals for Macbeth, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s bodyguard boyfriend, Léon, is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.
But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder, and Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.
Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised…

My final short story, A Question by Torchlight, is also set in Edinburgh, during Hogmanay, when the ground is icy and there is frost in the air.

So, here’s where I need some help. What title could I give the combined print edition / boxed set? The Bodyguard Mysteries? Leon and Lizzie? My Year of Danger? I’ve been wracking my brain for ages and haven’t been able to hit on anything I really like!

So, I’ve decided to run a competition to ask for suggestions for a title that will tie these two novellas and short story together.

The WINNER of the Dream up a Title for Helena competition will win the following:

1.     Their TITLE on the cover of the print edition / boxed set

2.     An ACKNOWLEDGEMENT inside the novel

3.     A SIGNED COPY of the finished print version

4.     This beautiful bracelet :)

If any of you have any ideas at all, please let me know your suggestion here in the comments, or on Twitter, or by leaving a comment on my Facebook page, or you can email me at . I’d be very grateful!

I’m keeping the competition open until Friday 21st October and will announce the winning title on my blog ( on Saturday 22nd October. So please do put your thinking caps on - and I hope you can help me out!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Marie. It’s been fun to be here and I’ll be back next week to let you know my title!

I can't wait, Helena. What a great idea! I am sure you will get lots of fabulous titles, and the one that is just right for Lizzie's and Leon's love story. I really enjoyed PALACE OF DECEPTION and THE SCOTTISH DIAMOND, and I am very much intrigued by your short story (I wonder if I can guess what the question might be...)

Good luck to all entrants in the competition!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I Do or Do I? Karen King is my guest today!

I am delighted to welcome fellow Áccent Press author Karen King to the blog today to talk about her novel I DO? OR DO I?which was released by Áccent Press in May 2016.
Hello Karen and welcome. You are a prolific children author and have written several short stories and romance novels, but what did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 

I wanted to be lots of different things, a ballerina (I have two left feet), an air hostess, a nurse, a teacher. I always loved writing, and have always written but never thought of a writer as a career.

I know that's a difficult question to answer, but where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Everywhere! Things I see, do, overhear, my family, friends (I hope they aren’t reading this!)  – I collect snippets of conversations, amusing scenarios, jot them down and file them away for future use.

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

My laptop or pen and paper. I started my writing career when my four children were little so I don’t need a quiet, empty house (although it is nice!). Coffee and chocolate are nice bonuses but really as long as I have something to write on I can write anywhere.

What are you working on at the moment?

Áccent Press gave me a contract for two more books when they accepted ‘I do?-or do I?’ I’m now working on the third book. I won’t give much away but there is a wedding theme in this one too. I’m also working on a YA and a novel. I always have two or three projects on the go.

Very intriguing...I find the promotion side of being a writer very daunting and quite hard work. How do you promote your work?

I was published for many years without having to do any promotion at all, but that’s all changed now and it didn’t come easy to me at first. I felt like I was being ‘boasty’. Still do sometimes. My favourite platform is Twitter. I love the spontaneity, brevity and fun of Twitter. It’s a great place to connect. Second is Facebook. I use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ too but not to the same extent.

What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?

Usually the characters. The heroine pops into my head and tells me her story then the hero interrupts and gradually I work out a basic plot.

Thank you for your great answers, Karen. And now for the word association fun test...Please tell me what comes into your mind when you see those words:

1. sun       happy, life, warmth

2. moon    stars, night, magical

3. winter       jumpers, snow, coal fires

4. summer     beach, sea, peaceful

5.  chocolate   bliss, relaxing, addictive

Hmm... I feel exactly like you about chocolate! Thank you very much, Karen, for being my guest today. Good luck with all your writing projects.

Author Bio

A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. 'I DO - or Do I?' is her first chick lit for Accent Press. She has been contracted for two more.

Karen has had two other romance novels, several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children's books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Twitter: @karen_king


Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 
The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 
Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question - Who Will She Choose?


Jared must have seen the panic in her eyes because he quickly composed himself and shook Sylvia’s hand. ‘Delighted to meet you. And this must be the bride-to-be.’ He smiled at Cassie as if he’d never met her before. Never held her in his arms, kissed her, made love to her, promised that he’d love her forever and then walked out on her.

She’d often imagined seeing Jared again, wondered how she’d react. Now it all came flooding back and all she could do was remember how utterly devastated she’d felt when he’d walked out on her.

Get a grip, Cassie told herself. That was years ago. You’re over it now. You’re marrying Timothy. Jared is history.

She was suddenly aware that Jared was holding out his hand to her and Sylvia was watching her curiously. She forced a smile on her face and shook his hand, desperately hoping she showed no sign that his touch still made her tingle.

‘Miss Tyler,’ he said smoothly.

‘Call me Cassie,’ she told him. ‘Sorry I kept you waiting.’

‘Not a problem.’

How she wished she’d arrived on time. Jared used to tease her about being late. He probably thought she was still as ditzy as she was back then. If only she’d put on one of her power suits instead of a maxi dress, then she would have looked sophisticated and professional. Like she’d changed; which she had.

Oh God, she was still holding his hand. What must Sylvia think? She quickly removed her hand, tore her gaze from those big brown eyes, and tried to act as if her body wasn’t zinging at his touch. Just like it always had.

‘Take a seat, ladies, and tell me exactly what sort of photographs you’re looking for.’ He glanced down at his notes. ‘I see that the wedding is only two months away.’

‘Yes, we decided against a long engagement,’ Sylvia replied as if she was the bride. She sat down in one of the plush dark brown chairs and indicated for Cassie to take the other seat. ‘Timothy and Cassandra got engaged on Valentine’s Day and we thought a summer wedding would be lovely. Especially when we managed to secure Hollington Castle,’ she paused to make sure this announcement had the desired effect.

Jared nodded, looking suitably impressed, and Sylvia continued, ‘I know it’s short notice but Daniel assured me you’d be able to fit us in.’ She was letting him know that she was on first name terms with the director of the company.

Jared nodded again. ‘We’ve had a cancellation for that date, so yes, we can accommodate you both.’ His gaze flicked to Cassie then back to Sylvia. ‘Would you like a cup of coffee while we discuss the arrangements?’

‘Thank you. Black with no sugar, please.’

Jared raised an eyebrow questioningly at Cassie. ‘And for you, Cassie?’

‘Black with no sugar for me too, please,’ she replied. That would surprise him. She always used to have white coffee with two sugars. The Cassie he used to know had a sweet tooth. At least that was one thing that had changed. Except it hadn’t, really, she was only drinking black coffee to make sure she could get into her wedding dress. Well, to be honest she was drinking black coffee in front of Timothy and his mother because they would frown and remind her about needing to get into the wedding dress. When they weren’t around she still took her coffee with milk and sugar. She thought longingly of the iced mocha she’d be enjoying with Sam later.

Jared pressed the intercom and asked the receptionist to bring in the coffees, then he leant forward, linked his hands under his chin, and gave Cassie the benefit of his full attention. Devastating. She quickly averted her gaze. ‘Now, tell me about the wedding,’ he said. ‘It’s important that I get a feel of the atmosphere you’re trying to create so I know what tone to set with the photos. We aim to be professional but not intrusive. And please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have. We want our clients to be completely happy and relaxed on their special day. We won’t take offence at all if you decide that we aren’t the right photographers for you.’

You’re not! Cassie’s mind was screaming. You’re the very last person I want as my photographer. Ever. For a moment she feared she’d uttered the words aloud, but Sylvia was now talking to Jared, so clearly it was all in her head.

Buy Links

Sunday, 4 September 2016

A stop at a favourite uncle's and inspiration...

People often wonder how authors get ideas about plots, characters and settings for their stories. I find my inspiration in many different sources - a holiday, a song, painting or road map (I love maps!), an old photo or even a strange dream... My short story SONS OF THE WIND was actually inspired by a holiday I took many years ago after finishing my university degree in Lyon University.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I wanted a bit of an adventure and borrowed my mother's old Renault 5 to tour the South of France for a couple of weeks. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go but no fixed plan.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

My first stop was Avignon where my favourite uncle lived. My uncle Roger was my mother's elder brother, and the most original - some may say eccentric - person I have ever met. I absolutely adored him. He had built his own house, dug his own pond where ducks and grandchildren dived and paddled together (no one ever mentioned germs and health and safety in those days), kept all kinds of animals on his small holding, including pigeons, dogs, vicious turkey cocks, and two parrots -Marco and Polo who warned him from the treetops of the arrival of customers for his bric-à-brac business. He also ran a house clearing business with two elderly gentlemen aptly nicknamed 'Les Deux Vieux' (the two old ones) who must have been a lot stronger than they looked and did not talk much. In fact, now that think about it, I don't think I ever heard them talk at all.

My uncle was a nature lover, and a poet. He would tell you to take great care not to damage a spider web as you went up the stairs. His house was a treasure trove, especially the ground floor where he kept all his bric-à-brac. How I loved looking through his collection of paintings, out of tune pianos and shields and swords, old typewriters, broken dentist chairs and - oh joy...hundreds and hundreds of keys. I think this is where my fascination with old keys must have started.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The day I arrived he and his two elderly assistants had just cleared over a ton of flour from a bankrupt mill and he was wondering what to do with it.

'You don't want any flour, do you?' he asked as we enjoyed a glass of rosé wine in the shade just before lunch.

'Of course not, I'm going on a tour of Provence! What would I do with bags of flour?'

Not in the least upset by my refusal, he suggested a few places for me to visit on my tour. Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue was one of them. I had planned to travel to Arles, but not to Les Saintes Maries. I am glad I listened to my uncle that day and pushed a bit further.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer is a fishing village situated in the heart of the Camargue, between the Rhône river and the Mediterranean sea. It is surrounded by marshes brimming with wildlife. This is where you can find ranches (called 'manades') where bulls and horses are bred. The grey-white Camargue horses are renown for their speed and their beauty, and during cavalcades and 'abrivades' that take place throughout the year, the 'gardians' (Camargue cowboys) show off their skills.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
The village is especially famous for its gypsy festival which takes place on 24th and 25th May. Every year more than 10 000 travellers come from all over Europe to celebrate their patron saint - 'Sara La Noire'. It is for them a time of celebration, of dancing and feasting, of religious worship and catching up with friends and relatives.

Les Saintes Maries is a beautiful and inspiring setting for my short story SONS OF THE WIND which was recently published in LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, an anthology of romantic short stories by international bestselling authors.

I ended up staying several days there during my tour of Provence and I will never forget the evenings spent eating delicious seafood at the terrace of cafés, and listening to the 'gardians' singing and playing the guitar. It felt like a magical place.

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?

LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available here

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.  


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
Amazon International


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...
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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.

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