Happy holidays, y’all! I hope you’re finding the season a bright and happy one.  I’m all about making new memories and doing fun things with my family this time of year, but it’s also a time of remembering for me.  Maybe it’s because getting older, but every year when we put the ornaments on the Christmas tree I get a little weepy. Not in a bad way, just so many of those ornaments have wonderful memories tied to them. We’ve had the tree for forever, and it’s a little lopsided, but that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. And I’m the kind of person who likes to weigh down every branch with ornaments. No minimalists in our house.

When I was a kid, I wanted to live in the Christmas tree. I used to lay down under it and stare up through the branches and lights. I like a tree where it looks like Christmas threw up on it. That’s a tree full of happy, as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to share some of the ornaments that adorn my happy little tree.

This little guy reminds me of my Grandma Irby. She loved swans, and this was her ornament on our tree.

This little guy reminds me of my Grandma Irby. She loved swans, and this was her ornament on our tree.

This was tied to a package I received when I was kid. Wasn't until today I realized how angry she looks. LOL

This was tied to a package I received when I was kid. Wasn’t until today I realized how angry she looks. LOL

My kids made these angels at church more than 20 years ago. They are precious to me.

My kids made these angels at church more than 20 years ago. They are precious to me.

This Elf is at least 50 years old. He was on my parents' tree for years. Now he's on mine. I love his smile.

This Elf is at least 50 years old. He was on my parents’ tree for years. Now he’s on mine. I love his smile.

My happy little tree.

My happy little tree.

Comments 3 Comments »

It’s sneak preview time!! Hot & Bothered, my January Blaze, is the story of Haven Hoyt, a highly-polished public relations consultant charged with rehabbing the image of a gruff-and-scruffy washed-up pop star, Mark Webster. Mark plays a mean blues guitar and manages to get under Haven Hoyt’s Teflon coating at every turn—but he’s definitely not immune to Haven’s charms, either. Here’s an excerpt from the first time they meet:

9780373798339 Mark’s steak was awesome, no two ways about it. It was worth the awkwardness of this whole stupid scene, worth eating in this sterile black-and-gray room with the other stiff-backed diners, worth getting waylaid by the teenaged hostess and her judgmental eyes, worth being head-shrunk by Haven Hoyt. Mark could almost slice the tenderloin with the side of his fork and the flavor was amazing. He loved it when meat tasted like meat, not frou-frou ingredients.

Concentrating on the food also made it easier to keep his gaze off Haven’s breasts, which otherwise were…they were the eighth wonder of the world. He was surprised the other diners weren’t magnetically drawn right out of their seats to stare. Every time he lifted his eyes from his steak, he had to focus like a madman on her face and not on her curves. He didn’t know what she was wearing—the bottom part was like a burlap sack with a riding crop tied around the waist, and the top part was a 1970s-style button-down shirt under an absurdly short sweater—but whatever she’d engineered underneath her clothes should be part of the building plan for the next generation of bridges. He could practically feel her against his palms. His hands curved involuntarily.

It would probably be a bad idea to proposition her, but that was what he really wanted to do. He wanted to do that a hell of a lot more than he wanted to have a conversation with her about whitewashing his bad self.

She was asking him another question. “Do you have a look in mind you want to achieve? Besides ‘pop star’?’”

Pop star had never been a look he aspired to. It had been a look he’d stumbled into, that he’d worn like too-tight clothing. And it sucked to think it was now something he had to work to attain. He shook his head.

“Particular people you want to see? Places you want to go?”

“I’m just not that guy.”

She nodded, like that made sense to her. Well, that was something.

He already saw the people he wanted to see—the guys he played blues with in the crappy little club in the Village, and the ones he shot hoops with at the gym near his apartment in Queens. But he was pretty sure that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. Haven Hoyt’s people to see and places to go were in a whole different league than his.

“I’m going to set up a bunch of appointments for you—hair, nails, skin.” She touched her hair and stroked the hot pink slickness of her own nails as she spoke, and his body heated. He had to look away. “For clothing, I’ll bring in a personal shopper—we can keep it simple at a department store.”

He hadn’t shopped anywhere other than his local secondhand store in nearly a decade. The whole idea made his skin crawl. He still remembered the way it had felt to be fussed over and groomed like a baby monkey when he was in the band. He didn’t miss that, not for a second.

He itched to get away from her scrutiny and her plans as intensely as he’d wanted to touch her earlier. His primitive brain screamed, Run away.

“Can’t I just promise I’ll get a haircut and buy some new clothes?”

A half smile appeared on Haven’s glossy lips as she tugged a bite of pasta off her fork. She shook her head.

“I hate this.”

He hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but he liked Haven, and something about her loosened his lips. She wasn’t a ballbuster, and she didn’t come off fake. She had a way of looking at him that, yeah, maybe bordered on pity, but it was better than the other brands of female attention he usually got—scorn or leftover band worship from self-destructive women who wanted to flush their self-esteem down the toilet with him.

“I’ll try to make it hurt as little as possible.”

She said it without sexual emphasis, but it still made the blood rush out of his brain. He bet she would. If he swept the utensils and plates off the white cloth, the table would make the perfect surface on which she could make it hurt, or not, as she pleased. He’d take it either way.

 

You can pre-order Hot & Bothered at:

Amazon http://amzn.to/1vo2IA8

B&N http://bit.ly/1tFc0TP

iTunes (ebook only) http://bit.ly/1zRno2K

Comments 2 Comments »

By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

We’re only a few days past Thanksgiving, but the Christmas spirit has ignited at Harlequin Blaze! We’ve got our decorations up around the office, are busy wrapping presents for our co-workers, and we’ve already broken out the eggnog. Well, Dana has broken out the eggnog. The rest of us think it’s gross.  I’m sticking to wine, myself. But, it’s Christmastime! So, nothing but the best. Bring on the Champagne…and only the finest of our red-hot reads!

Dec. 823 VickiYou cannot miss A LAST CHANCE CHRISTMAS because New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson is wrapping up her Sons of Chance miniseries! Those who have read and loved this series will find the story of Ben Radcliffe—a man who has never been comfortable with the idea of family—and Molly Gallagher extremely satisfying. (For those who haven’t read this series yet, you’re in for a treat.) Ben and Molly start out as strangers surrounded by the Chance clan…and quickly try to find ways to be alone together so they can explore their smoldering passion. This is a wonderful Christmas story, and full of holiday heat! Don’t worry, Vicki will be back with more Blazes. Watch for her new miniseries, Thunder Mountain Brotherhood, launching June 2015 with MIDNIGHT THUNDER. But until then…Cowboys and Christmas! Can you think of anything better?

Dec. 824 KiraLooking for a deeply emotional, sizzling and stirring story? BRING ME TO LIFE by Kira Sinclair is our Uniformly Hot! December book. And it is something! Evan and Tatum Huntley got married young because they never did know how to keep their hands off each other. Then, years after he joined the military he disappeared. Was declared dead. And so Tatum had to get on with her life, as difficult as that was for her. But one day, Evan returns from the deep cover of a crucial operation. Can Tatum forgive him for not contacting her? Can she let him back into her life after all this time, when there is the possibility he may disappear again? Can they ignore their love for each other, or their incredible sexual chemistry? Pick up this book—it’s a reunion story you will not soon forget.

Dec. 825 SamanthaAnd now, my friends, for something wild! WILD HOLIDAYS NIGHTS features three novellas from three of your favorite Blaze authors. These stories are about what can happen when you don’t quite make it home for Christmas—no matter how hard you try. In HOLIDAY RUSH by Samantha Hunter, Calla Michaels simply can’t afford to go home. Not when she’s trying to get her cake business off the ground in New York City. Enter Gideon Stone—a former crush and super-hot policeman who knows a thing or two about heating up Calla’s kitchen! PLAYING GAMES by Meg Maguire is a fantastic road-trip story that’s full of fun, flirty banter. And seriously hot sex! How Carrie Baxter and Daniel Barber go from “cool” to “clothes off” is absolutely charming. (And hot. I said hot.) ALL NIGHT LONG by Debbi Rawlins sends paralegal Carly Watts on a Christmas Eve errand that she won’t soon forget. She’s meant to collect a signature from Jack Carrington for a corporate buyout—but what she gets is a whole lot more. Turns out Jack isn’t quite the heartless corporate magnate she thought. He’s got a heart…and he just might give it to Carly for Christmas. What a great anthology!

Dec. 826 KatherineLove all of the holidays this season—Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Then you must read USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera’s Holiday Heat miniseries. UNDER THE MISTLETOE explores what wealthy businessman Will Spalding wants for Christmas—which is two weeks of no-strings naughtiness. That’s all he ever wants from a relationship. That is until he meets event planner Penny Devlin, who’s just looking for a quick fling herself. But methinks the magic of Christmas (and maybe some compatibility between the sheets) is just the thing to get these two together…for more than just the holidays.

Between shopping and wrapping and watching of festive holiday movies, I hope you have time to read all four December Blazes. They’re sure to keep you warm! Tell me what your favorite Christmas movie is and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of our latest books. A bonus set will be sent to a person who guesses my holiday go-to. Hint: Zuzu’s petals.

Comments 10 Comments »

It’s that time again. Time to sip hot chocolate, contemplate the coming holidays, and announce the winners of November Blaze books! This month a full set of books is going to:

  • bn100
  • Ruth Chestnut
  • Summer

Thanks everyone for playing along :) Check out Kathleen’s blog coming next week for a chance to win December Blazes!

One of the things I love about living in a big city like Toronto is the number of street parties, fairs, and festivals that happen all year long. They offer chances to try great food, listen to awesome music, and get a glimpse into lives that are different from my own. As much as I love to edit and read fiction set on the wide open prairies or under watchful mountains, on ranches, and in small towns, I’m very much a city girl at heart and in experience. So I love going to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, where people from farms all across the country—all across the continent, actually—come to show off their livestock and produce, participate in the many competitions and shows, demonstrate new innovations, and shop and sell their wares.

 

Innovations like this amazing milking robot.

Innovations like this amazing milking robot.

I’m not going to lie, I get a little bit pushy at the petting zoo. I know the kids want to feed and pet the animals, but I do, too!

llama

I may make this my new Twitter profile picture…

 

As with so many of our fairs and festivals, it’s also all about the food. We started with fresh baked apple dumplings, then went for a sampling of poutine (a Canadian staple!), braised bison, perogies, and lamb pie. I regret to inform you that we ate all of this too quickly for me to take a photo….

We checked out the butter sculptures, the horse shows, and some of the fun behind-the-scenes parts of the fair, including the horse wash. And cows? Let me tell you, there’s nothing softer than a cow after she’s been washed, clipped, and gotten ready to be shown off. The handlers look at us city folk who want to pet their cows pretty indulgently. They know it’s a treat for us ;)

horse wash               butter sculptures

 

Are there fairs like this that you go to? Or do you live in farm country, and this is all old hat to you? Let me know what kinds of festival and fairs you like to go to in the comments!

 

Comments 5 Comments »

For the past 22 years, every other year, my husband and I have packed up the kids and the dog and driven up to Memphis, Tennessee to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law. It’s an 8 hours drive. Arlound the tableThanksgiving Memphis 1992Most of the time, once you factor in traffic, construction along I-30, pit stops, and lunch, we usually spend about 10 – 11 hours getting there. But it’s worth it.
As you read this I’m baking pies and cooking the turkey. We’ll have our turkey and dressing on Friday. Seems weird, but we’ve long ago learned it’s not the day you celebrate, as long as you’re with the ones you love.Mom, dad, Lana, gary, CassieThanksgiving memphis 2000
For 3 days and 4 nights, we all (2 more sisters, 2 more brother’s in law, my mom, and my 2 nephews) cram into my sister’s 3 bedroom house. Yes, by Sunday, we’re all ready to endure another 10 hours in the car to get home, but for those 3 days, we really have time to reconnect with each other. My sister’s house is out in the boonies close to a state park with no internet, no cable TV, and 5 dogs! Sound like hell? It’s not. We play cards, we talk to each other. We take long walks in the woods and enjoy nature. Do I miss my internet and TV? You BET! But it really is good for me to get away for a few days and just…BE. You’d be amazed at how many important, cool, meaningful conversations I’ve had with my kids and other family members over the years that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.Family outdoorsThanksgiving Memphis So, I’m thankful for these wonderful years of Thanksgiving getaways. Mimi and Natalie making pies at Thanksgiving MemphisI’m grateful for the long car ride in traffic, the crowded, chaotic mess when we arrive, the muddy dogs, the whining kids, and mostly I’m grateful to have a family that love each other so much that we’re willing to put up with it all to be together.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I’m grateful to all you Blaze readers, as well! Thank YOU!

Comments No Comments »

Greetings Blaze Babes!

Brrrrr, Arctic cold happening here. Too soon, too soon! But that’s what we get for living in Wisconsin.

In braggy news, my October Blaze Some Like it Hotter has been nominated for Best Blaze of 2014 by RT Magazine. Very nice little honor, I’m quite pleased. In other news, I found out my favorite title (If You Dare . . .) was approved for my online read on eHarlequin.com starting December 29th, one chapter every weekday for three weeks. The story involves a romance at NYEspresso, the coffee shop from Some Like it Hotter.

In food news, I continue to eat every day. Ha ha. This month a simple pasta sauce that has fantastic flavor. You dump a can of tomatoes into a baking dish with garlic, butter, mmmm, and . . . two anchovies. Before you scream about hating anchovies, try it. I promise they add rich, complex umami flavor to the dish but are undetectable as a fish ingredient. This is the genius of Italian cooking.

The first time I made it I used a can of tomatoes in thin juice and it was fabulous. The second time the tomatoes were in a thicker puree and it was still fabulous. So I don’t know which I’d recommend, just buy a can of “whole peeled tomatoes” and see which you get. I do suggest splurging on San Marzano or Muir Glen tomatoes. The dish is so economical, you can afford it this time.

Bucatini with Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving!

Isabel
www.IsabelSharpe.com

Comments Comments Off

So I’m having a hard time believing we are 10 days into November. Nuts, I say. Just nuts. But it’s here, and I have to start planning for about 30 for Thanksgiving. This year we’re shaking things up. We’re adding some new side dishes to the Havens’ standards. We’ll do a turkey, a roast, cheesy green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, homemade rolls and tons of different pies. But we’re adding four cheese macaroni, chocolate pie and a different green bean recipe. My favorite dish is one I play around with the most, cranberry relish. My mom makes the best one I’ve ever had. But I have a simple one that I like a lot. So I’m sharing it here. I’d love for you to share some of your favorite recipes. They don’t have to be for Thanksgiving. :)

Cranberry relish:

In a medium size pot, cover a bag of fresh cranberries with water, a cup and a half of sugar, teaspoon of cinnamon  and the peel from one orange. Bring it to boil and then let it reduce down. It’s done with the cranberries are really soft and it’s the consistency of a jam. It’s good stuff. You can serve it warm or cold.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Comments 5 Comments »

In less than two months, Hot & Bothered will be on shelves, in the mail, and at etailers. Haven is already primping.

Haven Hoyt, the heroine of Hot & Bothered, is polished. She dresses fashionably, accessorizes wisely, eats her Cheetos with two fingers and a napkin (while her friend Elisa gloms them by the handful), and wouldn’t be caught dead answering the door in her PJs. It makes her the perfect heroine for a man like Mark Webster, a scruffy musician who prefers torn jeans, old Ts, an ancient leather bomber jacket and, well, messy sex.

It also makes her nothing like me.

Despite my author photo, which was taken after a professional makeup job while a fan blew my hair back off my face, I am not polished (I’ll tell you a secret. If you look closely at my author photo you can see that I forgot to wear any jewelry, including earrings in my pierced ears).

Right now I am writing this blog post at 11:45 a.m., pre-shower, in head-to-toe fleece. My SmartWool socks have worn spots at the balls of my feet and heels. And since I brushed my hair last, I slept on it.

Admittedly, that’s pretty intense even for me. Most days find me bathed and minimally groomed, wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and—weather permitting—either a zip-up fleece or a sweater. But the level of pragmatism that goes into this wardrobe would probably horrify Haven. All the jeans are the same brand, purchased at one store that I visit at most twice per year, and when they spring holes, I patch them with materials I find around my house. All the t-shirts are mail order from the same company, ordered in a flurry (or panic) when the season changes and I discover last year’s (or three year’s ago’s) batch has sprung holes. The fleeces, too, come from the same mail-order source.

Occasionally, I buy a new sweater, but I’ve noticed I have a strange, un-Haven-like disorder relating to sweater shopping, too. I keep picking out the same ones over and over again. Not literally, of course, but when I get them home, I often realize that they’re nearly identical to something I already own.

I do dress up sometimes. Then I wear denim jeggings, boots, and… a sweater. Oh, and sometimes, if I remember, earrings. I have even been known to put on makeup for date night, but not always to remember to take it off before bed.

I will say, though—I do eat my Cheetos rather fastidiously. One at a time, and with napkin in hand. But in my defense, I don’t want to get orange cheese on one of my three pairs of jeans.

What about you? Are you Haven, or me, or somewhere in between? And the all important question, How Do You Eat Your Cheetos?

Comments 1 Comment »

By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

November already, and the forecast is calling for the first snowflakes of the season today. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready for winter yet! Thank goodness we have these sizzling November reads to heat up the cold nights.

Nov 819 TawnyWho knew Christmas and military heroes go hand in hand? New York Times bestselling author Tawny Weber, that’s who! In her latest Uniformly Hot! book, Tawny invites you to spend CHRISTMAS WITH A SEAL. Super-hot, no-nonsense SEAL Phillip Banks hasn’t got time for frivolity. He’s six feet of muscle, chiseled good looks and tightly held self-control. But silversmith Frankie Silvera is all about Christmas cheer—and she’s determined to get Phillip to join in all the naughty-and-nice fun. Frankie unleashes her creativity and Phillip is powerless to resist—and I’m sure you won’t be able to resist all the charm and heat Tawny offers up in this sexy holiday story! You’ll also wonder where Tawny came up with the idea for Frankie’s totally awesome shoes…

Nov 820 LeslieSpeaking of naughty, Halloween thrills give way to sensuous December delights in New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kelly’s OH, NAUGHTY NIGHT! Lulu Vandenburg gives into her wicked impulses when she has just one sizzling night—hidden behind a Halloween mask—with her old childhood nemesis. Boy has Chaz changed, from awkward kid to seductive, jetsetting journalist. She can’t let Chaz know her true identity or their past will ruin their sexy present. But Chaz has ideas of his own, fueled by the no-holds-barred, need-you-now lust they both feel. They’ve got some tricks up their sleeves, and you’re in for a super-sexy treat!

Nov 821 KateIf you’re up for a little excitement, get your hands on Kate Hoffmann’s latest scorcher in her The Mighty Quinns series. Mouthwatering adventure guide Ryan Quinn isn’t expecting any trouble when he takes the ladies of a bridal party to Fiji. But when the bride turns out to be a glamorous movie star—and one who doesn’t really want to get married at all!—climbing a mountain or two might be the least of their worries! They just can’t get enough of each other, no matter how forbidden their sexy trysts. Their futures are at stake in THE MIGHTY QUINNS: RYAN, and you won’t be able to put this book down till you see if they reach their happily ever after!

Nov 822 KatherineWhat better way to celebrate the season than a brand new trilogy of racy holiday reads from USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera? IN TOO CLOSE is the first book in her Holiday Heat series, and you will definitely feel the fire with this one! Elizabeth Anders is all about her career, but the promise of some no-strings-attached fun with best friend Bradley Hunt sounds like the perfect cure for the holiday blues. She’s had a crush on Bradley for years—and who wouldn’t, with that thick brown hair, perfectly toned muscles and bad-boy attitude? Bradley wants more than temporary from Elizabeth, and he might just be able to change her mind, both in and out of the bedroom! For more holiday cheer, look for two more books in the series in December and January!

These enticing reads are just right for somebody’s stocking—or as a treat for yourself! I know you’ll love them. Tell me in the comments what you’re doing to get ready for the holidays, and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of our November Blazes.

Comments 15 Comments »

October winners! A little late, but you each get a set of October Blaze books, which are in the mail as we speak! Winners are:

  • Elaine G
  • Tammy Yenalavitch
  • Liv

Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep an eye out for Kathleen’s blog next week for another chance to win.

I can’t believe how quickly this month (this season, this year!) has gone by. My October has been full of interesting sights and events (not to mention all the fun of the So You Think You Can Write contest, which has been busy and wonderful and is why I’m late posting on this blog!). Early in the month, my partner Graham and I went to Buffalo to tour one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, the Darwin Martin house. If you’re an architecture buff and anywhere near the area, I highly recommend it!

20141001_135040

 

We visited our friends in Kitchener, a small city outside of Toronto, for their housewarming (they just bought their first house, and though it’s not quite as innovative as the one above, it’s still pretty exciting!), and later that evening we went to Nuit Blanche, an all-night city-wide conceptual art festival. Nuit Blanche can be….weird.

20141004_213958

 

But it can also be interactive! My favourite part of the night was a traditional printshop studio that was running demonstrations of how different kinds of prints were made, including lithographs and silkscreening. They also had a forced-perspective photo shoot set up. Here’s Graham the Giant and me….

unnamed

 

I also went for the first time to see Cirque du Soleil—a very Canadian experience that for some reason I’d never had before! This show, called Kurios, had a steampunk theme and was visually breathtaking. Cotton candy was eaten, as is customary at the circus….

             20141007_19551320141007_211332

 

So that’s what I’ve been up to! How about you? What have you been doing this autumn? Are you getting ready for Halloween? Share what your October’s been like in the comments below!

Comments 1 Comment »

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.
%d bloggers like this: