…because the Covington brother are coming in August 2015. Who are the Covington brothers? Well, this is Ty:

Blond Ty from Back XLG

Ty is the youngest of the Covington brothers, the three brothers who have totally different feelings about how best to save the family ranch. But Ty’s pretty dang smart for the youngest. Plus? He’s funny. And you all know how I love me some funny.

He’s hot, compassionate, highly driven to succeed and to be his own man outside the shadows his successful brothers set for themselves. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), Ty’s book is third in the series. I believe in giving us all something to look forward to.

The second story? Well, that’s all about Cade, the middle brother with a bit of a chip on his shoulder over having been left by the oldest brother to run the ranch. Cade had dreams and…I hate to give a good story away. Let’s just say when he’s trapped in the mountains with a travel reporter for New Mexico Magazine (thank you, flash flooding), he discovers that having stayed home all those years may pay dividends he never dreamed of. Readers, please meet Cade:

Ben-JGP_9482pm

 

And finally, there’s the first book. Elijah Covington gave up the family legacy to get out of the two stoplight town. What he gained versus what he lost never quite equalled out, and now that he’s home to probate his father’s estate? Things are heating up as all he left behind comes rushing to the forefront and forces him to reevaluate what matters most. I’d like to introduce you to Eli and his left-behind lover, veterinarian Reagan Matthews:

JGP_2640

The great news? It all kicks off in 2015. The bad news? It’s…um…August 2015. But watch both my personal blog and this fabulous Blaze blog in order to catch snippets and contests regarding the Covington brothers as each book is finished and we get closer and closer to the August release date! Because, my beloved readers, these men are hot, hard-bodied and huge-hearted. And the heat factor? Let’s just say I’m worried about starting a wildfire. :D

Until next time,
Kelli

 

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Greetings Blaze Babes!

I have a book out this month, Some Like it Hotter, which got a Top Pick from Romantic Times, yay (oops, maybe I already bragged about that last month?). It’s part of a 2-book series about a laid-back central Californian and her uptight Manhattan sister, both coffee shop owners, who switch lives. Right now I’m working on a daily serial linking the two books, which will be on eHarlequin.com on weekdays for four weeks starting December 29th. Busy times! But fun. It’s been a challenge writing 500-word chapters. I’m just getting going and . . . it’s over.

The second I tasted this month’s recipe I knew I had to put it up here: a single serving of cake microwaved in a mug. I guess it’s a common gimmick (I’m always the last to know!) but I think this one is unusual from what I’ve read in that the texture is quite cake-like, not gummy, plus it has oatmeal in it, which means it’s super-healthy, right? The version they had in our local paper was too sweet for me so here are some suggestions for those who adore sugar, but only so much.

– Try slightly sweetened peanut butter instead of Nutella
– Try adding a tablespoon of semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips
– Try replacing one of the tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder
– Try lightly sweetened cream cheese instead of Nutella and add chopped apple
– Try omitting cinnamon and adding a bit of lemon zest, maybe a few thawed berries

Have fun with this! Note: I haven’t tried all of the above they’re just ideas, so if they ruin it, you can be mad, but not sue me.

Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake

Makes 1 mug cake

3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans, plus more to garnish
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
Pinch nutmeg, optional
1 tablespoon Nutella, or any chocolate-hazelnut spread, plus more to garnish

In a 12-ounce (or larger) mug, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and sugar. Whisk in the flour until smooth, then whisk in the oats, pecans, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and nutmeg, if using.

Dollop the Nutella on top and push in gently so it is partially submerged in the cake batter.

Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, and then in 15-second bursts until the top looks dry and cooked and springs back when pressed with a finger. (Ours cooked fine in 1 minute)

Let stand at least 5 minutes before eating, as the cake and Nutella center will be quite hot. Top with additional Nutella if feeling indulgent! (Or heck, how about whipped or ice cream?)

See you all next month,

Isabel
www.IsabelSharpe.com

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I always thought people who put costumes on dogs were weirdos. Now I am one. It started with Gizmo, who is part Japanese Chin/Maltese and growls at everything. One Halloween someone gave us a devil costume for him, and it was a gateway drug. He loved it. Pranced around showing everyone, and growled when we tried to take it off of him. Our big dog at the time, Scoobie, was jealous. So we decorated a bandana and called it her “pretty” and she had to show every kid who knocked on our door.

Who knew?

Then Elvis, my tiny little Shih-tzu came into our lives. This girl hates bows in her hair, but she loves clothes. She was absolutely meant to be my dog. She has sweaters and coats, and a couple of superhero t-shirts. She loves them all. I think sometimes more because we keep her shaved, and she’s cold all the time. :) Most of the clothes are given to us by friends and family who think it’s hilarious to dress up dogs. But this Halloween I thought I’d buy Elvis a costume and I want you guys to help. There’s a mug shot of Elvis below so you can see her. And then comment below on which costume you think Elvis should wear this year. Elvis, Fairy, Peacock, Tricertops or Witch? Leave your comments below  Fairy Peacock Tricertops Witch

Elvis Mug Shot

Elvis Mug Shot

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By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

Oh, lucky me! Why, you ask? Well, as I sit here writing this blog I’m worried that by the time I get outside for my Sunday bike ride the sun may be too hot. Hahahaha! Yes, I live in Canada, and yes, it’s still hot outside. Yay! It may have been a cool summer, but now it’s extendo-summer—and I love it! What else do I love? Reading all four Blazes for the month and letting you know what fabulous reads are in store for you. Let’s keep the heat, and that summer feeling, going!

Oct 815 AnneFirst up, our Uniformly Hot! title this month, WICKED NIGHTS by New York Times bestselling author Anne Marsh. If you like sexy SEALs and a gorgeous California setting, this book is for you. Cal Brennan is a former rescue swimmer for the Navy. Because of a traumatic experience on his last mission he’s been, well, a little wary of getting back in the water. Then comes a dare—and a bet—from his childhood nemesis Piper Clark. The two of them are competing for a diving contract from a local cruise company, and winning it is a make-or-break situation for their competing businesses. But Piper’s dare has even higher stakes…winner takes all in bed, too! Anne is writing great books in this wicked trilogy, which includes WICKED SEXY (July 2014) and the upcoming WICKED SECRETS. She’s one to watch!

We’re delighted to have Isabel Sharpe in the Blaze line-up this month. SOME LIKE IT HOTTER is a duet, withOct 816 Isabel the second book, HER PERFECT INDULGENCE, coming out in February 2015. These two stories are connected by twin sisters who own coffee shops on different coasts. To keep life interesting, they decide to swap businesses and residences for one month. That means laid-back California girl Eva Meyer has her hands full trying to convince uptight New Yorker Ames Cooke that there’s more to life than work—and boy, she shows him! Isabel has written a truly funny story—fans of romantic comedy, here you go! But also there’s emotion and serious heat here. If you’re in a New York state of mind, pick up this book! And watch for the next one. I really enjoyed this read and I’m sure you will, too.

Oct 817 ErinNew York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy returns with the second book in her naughty From Every Angle miniseries, CLOSE UP. This is a smokin’ hot reunion story! Sean and Kristine Maddock separated years ago…but never got divorced. Sean has spent a lot of time imagining their heated reunion—so it’s a shock to be served with divorce papers by his not-so-former wife! The new proposal? One wild, dirty weekend—just to clear out the cobwebs, so they say. Ha! Sean and Kristine rekindle the fire, but is it something that will last and truly bring them back together? Read to find out!

Oct 818 ReginaThe reviews are in for Regina Kyle, our newest Blaze author, and they’re fabulous! We’re thrilled to have found Regina, who was the winner of our 2013 Blaze Writing Challenge contest. She’s writing a four-book series for us called The Art of Seduction and I know you’re going to love this launch book, TRIPLE THREAT. Playwright Holly Nelson lusted after Nick Damone in high school, but Holly never imagined the now-famous Nick would want to star in her first Broadway production. Things definitely heat up between them, even as a series of accidents force a chain of events that could bring down the curtain on the whole production! Regina writes with the perfect blend of funny, smart and sexy. Pick up Regina’s book—you will love it!

I hope you get your hands on all four of our sizzling reads. Tell me what is your favorite cover this month and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of October Blazes. Enjoy the heat!

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I first read Jane Eyre when I was about 12. The Bronte sisters and Jane Austen were a huge influence on me in my preteen and young teenage years. jane-eyre
But then, it seemed life got busy. I was in the choir and pep club in school, got a job, and a boyfriend. But after school, I found myself back at the library, reading what my mother read: Gothics. These wonderful novels shaped my writing today. Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels. I didn’t have as much time to read as I did back in those golden days of my youth, but I’d always been a fast reader, and once I’d devoured all of their novels, love of Gothics led to reading modern Mysteries like Sue Grafton, Elizabeth George, and Patricia Cornwell.
So, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third child at the dangerously advanced age of 37 and my doctor ordered me on bed rest that I found I had a lot of time on my hands again. I’d always read, but, I mean, I had LOTS of time to fill. So, I tried a Historical Murder Mystery by Amanda Quick, RAVISHED.Ravished
And I was hooked.
I went back to the library and got everything else by her. And when I couldn’t find anymore, I went back to that paperback rack in the library and lucked upon the most wonderful romance–still, to this day—I’ve ever read, FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. Of course, I then had to get everything written by Laura Kinsale. How to describe the transcendent quality of THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT, or THE SHADOW AND THE STAR? You just have to read them.
Then I discovered Mary Balogh, who is as prolific as she is unsurpassed in the Regency Romance. There’s just something about her characters, a…sense of humanity, a depth of emotion, and a profound understanding of love that permeates every book she writes.
And what list of the best of the best of Romance authors would be complete without the superlative Loretta Chase? The wit, the brilliance, the distinctiveness of her voice and her characters will amaze you. I started with LORD OF SCOUNDRELS
For contemporary Romances my absolute favorite authors might surprise you. All 3 have written category for Harlequin: Gayle Wilson, Jo Leigh, and Evelyn Vaughn. Evelyn, Jo and Gayle will keep me up all night reading, on the edge of my seat. Someday, I want to be them when I grow up.
There are many more authors on my keeper shelf, (Mary Jo Putney, Courtney Milan, Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath and many, many more) and frankly I’ve avoided making this kind of list public until now for fear of insulting someone by leaving them out. But I think even those authors I just mentioned would agree with me, if you want to inspire a budding new writer to be the best damn writer she can be, have them read Kinsale, or Balogh, or Wilson, or Chase, or Leigh, or Vaughn. They are in a class all their own.

So, who are your favorite authors?

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Okay, I confess: I have not read Outlander. Or any of Diana Gabaldon’s other books in the series. I might. Some day. In the distant future. Right now I’m too swamped with promotion for Triple Threat (in stores now and available in e-book October 1!), getting my proposal for book three in on time (done!) and finishing up book two (not done – yikes!).jamie outlander

But after seeing numerous Facebook posts from my author friends who had read the books, I felt compelled to check out the new Starz TV series based on them when it premiered in August. Admittedly, a lot of my motivation was due to the extremely lovely Scotsman Sam Heughan, who plays swoonworthy Jamie Frasier (or James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, if you prefer to call him by his full name). But once I started watching, I was completely and totally hooked, not just by his smouldering eyes, sexily mussed hair and washboard abs, but by fierce and feisty Claire and the chemistry between them, not to mention the cinematography and the lush settings of Scotland, where the series is filmed.

And it’s not just me who’s hooked. Even my husband’s watching. I guess there’s enough blood and gore for him (and I’m told there’s more to come for poor Jamie in particular). And my 16-year-old daughter is addicted, too. Yes, she joins in my appreciation for Mr. Heughan’s Jamie. But it’s more (or equally as much) that she wants to tune in each week to see what’s going to happen next. How will Claire escape Black Jack Randall’s clutches? Will she get back through the stones? Who will she choose: Jamie or her husband in 1940s post-war England, Frank Randall? (Seriously, woman., is there even a choice? Is anyone on Team Frank, except maybe Frank?)

We’ve enjoyed watching the weekly episodes as a family. In all honestly, there hasn’t been a show we’ve all enjoyed equally since Monk. And that went off the air in 2009.

And then came this week’s episode . . .

I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it. But it was the long-anticipated wedding episode, and suffice it to say it was steamy with a capital “S.” Not once. Not twice. But three times. It was like True Blood meets Highlander.

I know my daughter’s sixteen. I know she’s knows what sex is. But I could have done without watching it next to her on our living room sofa. (Interesting to note that when I watched it again later, by myself, the steamy scenes seemed a lot shorter. They were intermenably long when I watched with her.)

At this point, I can’t really tell her to stop watching the show. That would be like trying to put the horse back in the barn. She’s a young adult, and in less than two years she’ll be out of the house and on her own (except for the hefty college tuition her dad and I will be paying).

I guess it’s time to face the fact that my baby is a baby no longer. Thanks, Outlander, for giving me a big, fat reality slap to the face. But as long as you keep bringing me Jamie and his smouldering eyes and his sexy hair and those yummy arms, chest and abs, this sassanach will forgive you.

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STRIPPED DOWN is officially alive. That’s right, it’s out in the wild. So wild, in fact, I found it at Wal-Mart. On a Saturday. At 2:00 p.m. My friends, fighting those crowds is about as “wild” as my life gets these days. :)  But it’s out there, and I’m happier than a certain blue-jacket-wearing rabbit with open access to Farmer McGregor’s garden. That’s pretty happy, my friends.

 

And maybe (who am I kidding? No doubt!) it’s a stretch to put my first Blaze release in the same category as anything by Beatrix Potter, but here’s what I’ve learned: we’re both authors. That blurs a lot of lines I always considered hard lines between good and great.

What changed my mind? A conversation with a very good friend. This friend, who shall remain unnamed for privacy purposes, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author many times over. She’s brilliant, charming, gracious and kind–all the things I decided I had to make priorities when I met her. She’s my hero in many ways, and my mentor in many more. I’ve always looked at her work and thought to myself, “I want to be that good. I want to write stories readers gobble up like hers.”

As the Fates would have it, my friend offered to read/critique my first cowboy Blaze, tentatively titled BLOWN AWAY. Her reponse? “My first thought on reading this was that I should just give up writing. I’ve always wanted to write like this, but I never will. As a reader, I knew there were words on the page, but I was too busy sensing and seeing everything you wrote about to consider the words. This is amazing, honey.”  She went on, but anything more will just make me sound like a jerk, and this? There’s a purpose to this.

After I was done weeping post-Skype call, and when the shakes finally settled down, something else dawned on me. I’ve always thought of writing in a ladder system, where you move one rung up or down based on a HUGE variety of factors. I know, I know. The idea was ridiculous. Keep in mind, though, that I don’t do math. At all. The extend of my intimate relationship with numbers runs to memorizing phone numbers. The. End. :D  So anyway, it hit me that she and I are both writers. We both have strengths. Conversely, we both have weaknesses. She works just as hard as I do to be brilliant. She’s been more successful in the brilliance department because she’s written many more books. BUT…I’m learning by continuing to write and continuing to read–read, read, read. I learn so much from seeing how a great story is put together by reading.

But here’s the other truth: I learn just as much from reader feedback. When a reader comes to me and says, “I loved your book, but I wish X had happened too,” I literally make notes. I learn from so many sources on how to improve.

This little revelation turned my ladder into a twisty slide that dumped all of us at the bottom of the sandbox in a giant, laughing heap. Because you know what? There is no ladder system. There’s learning, there’s (massive) effort, there’s appreciation, there’s writing what you love and there’s gratitude. That’s it. Mix those ingredients and the authors, and most of the readers, end up in the same puppy pile laughing and talking and enjoying each others’ company because we have those things in common.

So while STRIPPED DOWN is out in the wilds of McGregor’s garden chomping away on the carrots (I happen to LOVE raw carrots), my inner writer self is giddily at work on Eli and Reagan’s story, preparing to give you a better story every time as I live those five points: I learn; I exert (massive) effort; I appreciate every moment, reader, fellow writer and my editor (waves at Adrienne); I write what I love; I live with an attitude of gratitude. Beyond that? Well, the rest is just words.

I hope you get a chance to read STRIPPED DOWN and enjoy it. WOUND UP releases January 1 (December 16 for print books — thank you, Amazon, for the Christmas gift!). I really do have a serious book-boyfriend crush on the hero of this particular book, and I hope you will too.

Thank you so much for your amazing support and your awesome feedback. You guys rock!

Winners of the STRIPPED DOWN contest are: Marcy Shuler, Tammy Yenalavitch and Carol W. Congratulations! If you’ll send me your contact information through my website (www.kelliireland.com) and let me know if you want the digital book or the paperback, I’ll get those in the e/mail today!

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Greetings Blaze Babes!

I don’t know about you, but I feel as if I’m doing this monthly blog every two weeks. Time is going so fast. August was a blur of entertaining and home repair and enjoying a break from writing. Now it’s back to school for my two junior-year kids, one in college, one in high school, and looking forward to apples and stews and good sleeping nights.

One happy writing note, my October Blaze, Some Like it Hotter, the first of a two-book series in which sisters on opposite coasts switch lives, was a 4 ½ star-rated Top Pick in Romantic Times magazine! The heroine is a quirky individualist who falls for a strait-laced guy and gives him pretty much no choice in the matter of falling for her. A nice switch from the usual.

This month’s recipe was part of a recent dinner party for fourteen (!). We grilled sirloin steaks, sliced them up and offered different sauces to accompany. For sides we served cheesy garlic bread with fresh basil and parsley (I could bathe in that stuff) and a really unusual and delicious potato salad with sweet and russet potatoes and arugula. This month’s feature is our other side dish, a fabulous zingy coleslaw, which will become my new favorite recipe. I don’t know about you, but I think coleslaw is one of those “easy” recipes that never seems right. It’s either too mayonnaisey or too vinegary or too sweet or not sweet enough . . . Most of the time it’s good but kind of boring and gets left over and ignored. Not this one!

Haitian Coleslaw

Don’t know what makes it Haitian, but it sure was delicious. Give it a try.

See you next month!

Cheers,

Isabel

www.IsabelSharpe.com

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I love September!  Yes, I was a back to school geek who loved starting a new year.  Mostly because it meant back to school shopping (love me those notebooks and pens and post its and folders and… yeah).  But also because it meant more reading time!  How about you? Did you love back to school?  How about reading -what’re you reading this week?  pile of books and eyeglasses on the books

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In romance, we write about the fun stuff that happens before people go to sleep, and maybe right after they wake up. But we don’t usually write about how people sleep. I don’t know about you, but sleep is like some elusive thing that I never get enough of. Ever. My life is crazy – in a good way. There are nights/early mornings when my head hits the pillow and I actually say, “I love you pillow. I love you bed. I missed you guys.”

So the Hub works nights a lot, and I’m by myself. For awhile, I was allowing the Great Dane to sleep with me. Elvis (my little Shih tzu) sleeps in her kennel at the end of the bed, and then there’s grumpy Gizmo (part Maltese/Japanese Chin) who only weighs 20 lbs but I swear is the biggest bed hog you ever met. But then Harley the Great Dane grew and grew to 130 lbs. And though she tries to make herself tiny, she’s not. And when my hub was home on the weekends… we’ll it was crowded, uncomfortable and weird. So when I came back from traveling for 8 weeks in a row this summer, I decided to make a change. Elvis only in her kennel. No other dogs allowed. Amazingly, I was sleeping through the night more. Go figure. I have to live with the guilt of the other two staring at me as I walk upstairs, but they get a piece of egg each morning to make up for it. :)

But I’m always curious about how people sleep. I’m all over the place. The hub and I start out all cuddly, but during the night I end up sideways in the bed and he’s on the edge. We’ve been married a long time, so he’s used to it. And he gets all the covers. I’m a side and stomach sleeper. He’s a back and sometimes side sleeper. It works for us. :) And we got a Tempurpedic a few years ago and I have trouble sleeping on anything else. I also have one of those fat Tempurpedic pillows. And I sleep with a smaller pillow over my head. Weird, I know. But I swear it’s to block out sound and light. We have blackout curtains so if the bathroom door is closed, it’s a cave in my bedroom, night or day.

We need new floors in my office, but we have no problem spending a months pay on sheets. Ok. Maybe not a month, but super nice sheets are a luxury I will not go without. And now my Hub is kind of spoiled as well. And it has to be super cold for me. My husband calls me the heater. He’s very cold natured, so again it works for us. The big way we differ is he can go to sleep with lights/tv/a hurricane going on, I cannot. I’m a super light sleeper. Has to be dark, cold and quiet.

So how do you sleep? What kind of conditions are perfect for you? I’m trying to get more sleep. It isn’t easy with my schedule. But how many hours a night are just right for you? ANd I heard a good nights sleep can help you lose weight. So there’s that. :) So tell me how you sleep. I really want to know.

-Candy

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Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.
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