Hard to believe we’re screeching toward the end of January, 2016, isn’t it? What better way to forget that we’re still writing 2015 on our checks than by hearing what a couple of Heartwarming heroines do to brighten and warm these long winter days…and nights….
|CONNOR and HARPER from HARPER'S WISH|
HARPER: When I was working as a restaurant critic in Washington D.C., winter was one of my favorite times of year. Mostly because of the hot chocolate.
CONNOR: Well, there's a fact I didn't know about you, Love.
HARPER: Every girl has to have a secret or two. My hot chocolate recipe is mine.
(CONNOR, FINN, and SAM groan.)
|FINN LEARY from THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN|
FINN: Come on, Harper! You can't hold out on us like that!
HARPER: Okay, okay. I'll share the recipe if you can figure out the secret ingredient.
SAM: It's a deal. Hand it over.
(Hot chocolate is passed around.)
|SAM MARSHALL from THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN|
FINN: Oh, wow. That's fantastic. What is that flavoring...cinnamon?
SAM: No, it's not quite cinnamon. Is it cloves?
CONNOR: It's got some heat. Chili! It's chili pepper!
HARPER: I should have known that, as a chef, you'd figure it out.
FINN: You can't be serious. (FINN stares into his mug.) You put chili peppers in this?
HARPER: Well, I place a dried and seeded chili pepper in with the whole milk and let it simmer to take absorb the flavors. I also add in some vanilla bean to balance out the heat and add a touch of sweetness. I like to add a pinch of ground ginger and cinnamon, too. Along with the best dark chocolate you can find.
CONNOR: It's Xocolatl.
SAM: Excuse me?
HARPER: (laughts) It's Aztec hot chocolate.
HARPER: Wanna-be stars?
FINN: That was harsh. And a little unfair. (Sighs.) Let’s just say…they tried real hard to make it.
HARPER: (Nodding.) At least you learned to ski, right?
FINN: (Laughing) Not unless you call sliding down the Bunny Slope on my behind ‘skiing’! The best thing about coming inside in snow-caked ski suits and boots? The rib-sticking stews and hearty soups the chef let us taste-test before serving them to the guests. How about a bowl of the one Ciara and I voted “Best in the West!”
CONNOR: I was hoping you’d ask! The aroma of that stuff has my stomach rumbling!
HARPER: So how many ranch hands and Marshall family members will get to enjoy what’s left after I have my share? (She winks.)
FINN: There won’t be an empty seat on those long benches at the table. (Wistful sigh.) I have to admit…I thought I’d hate living here on the Double M.
CONNOR: (Glancing around the rustic kitchen.) After that horseback tour of the ranch this morning, it’s easy to see why the place grew on you.
FINN: So tell me, you two, what’s your favorite thing about Findlay Roads?
(HARPER and CONNOR look at each other and grin.)
HARPER: It's the best little town on the Chesapeake. You know it's a popular vacation destination? But my favorite thing about it has to be this amazing restaurant called Callahan's... (grins)
SAM: (rolls his eyes) Any relation to Mr. Connor Callahan standing here?
CONNOR: One and the same, of course.
HARPER: Seriously, though, the restaurant is just part of the charm. The town is beautiful, situated on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. And the community is wonderful. There are some great locals, and every summer, there's a flood of tourists who arrive for the season. There's always something happening in Findlay Roads.
FINN: It actually sounds like a pretty neat place. It makes me worried you might not enjoy your time here on the ranch! Is your room comfortable?
CONNOR: You have some grand pastures here. It's quite the scenic picture with those gracing cattle and horses.
HARPER: And I love the quilt decorating my bed. It reminds me a little of the crocheted afghans my grandma used to make. Perfect for keeping cozy on a cold winter's night!
FINN: I love it, too. (Wistful smile.) Sam gave it to me on the night I moved into this house. His way of saying “Welcome to my world…my cold, snowy, blustery world!” (Laughing.) It warmed me in more ways than one, and not just because his grandmother made it for him when he was a boy. I guess that’s why I keep it in the guest room—especially at this time of year—so everyone has a chance to share that feeling.
SAM (wrapping his arm around Finn's waist): Enough reminiscing. I can hear Connor's stomach rumbling louder every minute.
CONNOR: It was a long flight from Maryland to Colorado! And those airplane snacks don't last a man very long.
FINN: (laughs) Okay, I get it. Let's serve up this grub!
LOREE: Well, I don’t know about you guys, but suddenly, I’m starving!
CERELLA: Me, too! And for some-odd reason, I have a strange yen to wrap up in that QUILT and get back to that Heartwarming romance I’m working on! Connor's sister, Rory, is at the center of the next Findlay Roads story. Her ex-boyfriend, Sawyer, is returning to town after making it big as a country music superstar. I have a feeling Finn and Sam probably know a few of his hits!
LOREE: I can’t wait to get my hands on that one!
CERELLA: And your next Heartwarming releases in May, right?
LOREE: Yup. The Firefighter’s Refrain releases in May, and by this time next month, I might be able to share the cover…and even the back jacket blurb.
CERELLA: Should we tell them about the February blog, Loree?
LOREE: It might have something to do with Valentine’s Day. But you know us, friends… It won’t be the usual Valentine’s Day theme!
And don't forget to check select Wal-Marts, starting this month, for Heartwarming titles!
You can also now purchase print copies at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
Check back with us on February 12 for the next edition of..."We Talk to Ourselves...a Lot!"
CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. Harper’s Wish, Book #1 in her Findlay Roads series, is her third Harlequin Heartwarming novel.