Friday, April 8, 2016

What? It's mid-April, Already!


by Cerella Sechrist and Loree Lough


 

Wait...what? It’s April, already! Hard to believe—especially as we East-coasters prepared for ‘wintry mix’ weather…right on the heels of ‘almost summer’ temperatures. Then again, it isn’t all that surprising, considering that this 30-day month has, throughout history, survived a few transformations:  Aprilis had 30 days, until Roman King Numa changed it to 29…and it stayed that way until good old Julius Caesar came along and changed it back to 30. No wonder it can’t decide whether to come in like a lion or a lamb!


One thing you can rely on—all year long!—are exciting, poignant storylines presented by Harlequin authors. In May, Loree Lough delivers a brand new romance to the Heartwarming lineup. She closes out her “Those Marshall Boys” series with The Firefighter’s Refrain, featuring a Colorado cowboy turned firefighter who, after an on-the-job injury, puts his skills to use at the Nashville fire academy, teaching rookies what it takes to keep citizens—and themselves—safe.

 
But wait, you say, why did this rugged cowpoke trade life on the family’s Double M Ranch for the hustle-bustle of Music City, USA? Well, it just so happens Sam Marshall is a talented songwriter whose guitar skills are rivaled only by his smooth baritone… Things move along according to his plan…until he literally knocks the lovely owner of The Right Note CafĂ© off her feet.

Once he dusts her off and sets her back on her feet, Finn Leary tries hard not to get lost in Sam’s apologetic blue eyes. But he’s a musician, she reminds herself, and she hasn’t met one yet—wanna-be-stars parents included—that can be trusted.

Does she have the willpower to keep Sam at arm’s length? And does he have what it takes to choose between a lifelong dream and the woman who could complete his life?

Just for fun, here's a sneak peek into the moment when Sam and Finn first meet…

The movements of a short-haired brunette drew Sam’s attention to the kitchen.

“Didn’t your mama teach you it’s rude to stare?”

“My luck,” he told his pal, “she’ll turn around and give me an eyeful of hairy moles and missing teeth.”

Mark snickered, then pointed at Sam’s leg, stretched out into the aisle. “There are better ways to find out than to trip her.”

Sam, too preoccupied with hopes that the waitress would turn around, barely heard the warning.

“So it’s still bugging you, is it?”

“Now and then.” Sam shrugged. “Not much.”

        “How long since the last surgery?”

         Sam did the math in his head. The ceiling cave-in happened in 2009, and he’d had two operations since. “Going on three years.”

        Mark leaned back. “Are you gonna talk to somebody about it, or keep playing the brave, silent hero?”

         “I’m talking about it now.” He leaned back, too. “Unfortunately.”

       The waiter arrived with Sam’s iced tea, and taking a pencil from behind his ear, asked, “You guys ready to order?”

        Mark hadn’t even glanced at his menu. “Turkey burger and sweet potato fries, house salad with lite Italian on the side.”

        “Holy health food, Batman,” the kid said, “what’s got into you?”

       “That crack is coming out of your tip, wise guy.”

      Sam read the boy’s nametag. “Go ahead and laugh, Ted. I’ll get the tip. It’s worth every dollar to see this guy squirm.” He tapped his menu. “I’ll have a BLT, a side of curly fries, and coleslaw.” And when Ted walked away, he leaned forward and whispered “So what’s her name?”

        Mark’s eyebrows rose. “Whose name?”

        “The woman who put you on a diet.”

            Waving the comment away, Mark said, “Can’t a guy cut back a little without his friends jumping to crazy conclusions?”

    “So I take it ‘be my best man’ isn’t the reason I’m here.”

     “Man. You’re like a puppy with a bone.” Shaking a packet of sugar into his already-sweet tea, he said, “All right, Mr. Impatience, here’s the deal: Duke Miller is taking Eli on the road.”

      “No kiddin’? Well, good for Eli. It’s about time that brother of yours caught a break.”

     After leukemia took his little girl, Eli’s heartbroken wife committed suicide, and he found comfort at the bottom of a bottle. Hard to tell how long he might have stayed there if Mark hadn’t made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “Shape up and kick the addiction, and I’ll make you full partner at The Meetinghouse.”

      “He leaves in two weeks. Just enough time to get his affairs in order.”

        “Will Torry replace him as manager?”

       “I’ll ask him, but he won’t say yes. He’s on the road more than he’s here in Nashville.”

      Sam pictured Torry Martin, the big red-haired comic whose stand-up and movie career had taken off in the past year. “But Eli’s still your partner, right?”

      Mark shrugged. “Therein lies the rub, Sherlock.”

     “Wish I had a dollar for every time that line was botched.”

     “Huh?”

       “For starters, it’s Shakespeare, not Sherlock Holmes. Hamlet, to be specific.”

      “Gimme a break,” Mark kidded. “You know as much about the bard as I do. Which is zip.”

      “Sez you.” Sam launched into the story of how, back in high school, the object his affections had signed up to play Gertrude in the annual winter pageant.

     “Claudia’s family owned the ranch just north of the Double M, see, and I figured she and I might have a chance to get closer if I signed up, too, and offered to drive her to and from rehearsals.”

      “Closer, huh?” Mark wiggled his eyebrows.

       Sam ignored the disruption. “Claudia loved attention. Positive. Negative. Didn’t matter, long as people were looking at her or talking about her. She was a cheerleader. Recited the Pledge during morning announcements. Faked migraines and fainting spells in the halls, so guys would have to pick her up and carry her to the nurse’s office.”

      “Figures you’d develop a crush on a girl like that.”

      “Hey, I was young and dumb. What can I say? Anyway, it didn’t surprise anyone when she snagged the female lead. I read for the part of Horatio, thinking, fewer lines to memorize than Hamlet. But good old Mrs. Smith had other ideas.”

      “No way….”

     Sam nodded. “Yes way. You should’ve heard my cousins, mocking every line as I prepped for that part.”

      “Well, at least you got the girl.”

      Sam took a deep breath, let it out slowly.

       “No way,” Mark repeated.

        “Yup. I took all that razzing for nothing, since Claudia only had eyes for Bart Isaacs.”

      “Captain of the football team?”

      “Nah. His dad was a big shot in Denver politics.”

        “Ah. Name-dropper, was she?” Mark took a swig of his tea. “But I didn’t just fall off the proverbial turnip truck, my firefighter friend. No way you’ll convince me you played Hamlet.

      Sam sat ramrod straight, and began:

      “‘To sleep, perchance to dream: aye, there’s the rub. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give—’”

       A breathy oomph, the shattering of plates, and the clatter of silverware hitting the tiles interrupted his monologue.

       There on the floor beside him, amid broken dishes, tomato slices, and a jumble of golden fries, sat the most gorgeous woman Sam had ever seen. Dark, long-lashed eyes flashing, she glared up at him.

       “Did it ever occur to you that sticking your leg out into the aisle might trip someone who can’t see over a serving tray?”


Now we ask you…what would a Loree/Cerella blog post be without an easy, yummy, good-for-you recipe!

 

Spring Veggies and Spinach Dip

Ingredients:

For the spinach dip

One 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained

One cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

3 spring onions, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

1 clove grated garlic

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt & pepper

For the veggies

2 bunches asparagus

2 bunches kale

6 carrots, cut into strips

2 red bell peppers, cut into strips

1 head broccoli, broken into florets

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

1 bunch spring onions

1 bunch radishes, each cut in half

1 head red cabbage, hollowed-out (to hold the dip)

Directions:

For the spinach dip

In a medium bowl, mix spinach, sour cream, mayo, green onions, carrots, garlic, lemon juice, half of the salt and pepper. Cove and chill for 2 hours.

For the veggies

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In separate pot or large bowl, prepare an ice water bath. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water, until bright green but still crisp. Transfer to the ice water bath to stop cooking process. Drain, dry with paper towels, and set aside.

Line a pretty basket with a paper doily and cover with kale. Then, arrange the remaining veggies on top of it, leaving space in the center for the dip.

Spoon the dip in the hollowed-out cabbage and place in the center of the basket and voila! (Recipe and photo from Ree Drummund.)
 

Post a comment below and you could be the lucky winner of a $15 Amazon ecard!
And stay tuned for next month’s "We Talk to Ourselves...a Lot!" blog, when anyone who comments is automatically entered to win a $25 Amazon ecard and a free signed copy of The Firefighter’s Refrain!
Wishing you an easy-breezy April!

With nearly 5,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). The release of The Firefighter’s Refrain (#3 in the “Those Marshall Boys” series for Harlequin's popular Heartwarming line) brings Loree’s number of books in print to 105! Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and www.loreelough.com (home of her “The Lough Down” blog)!

Cerella Sechrist lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. She has won various competitions and a scholarship for her writing, which include devotionals, full-length plays, and novels. She 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. Her novels exhibit her love for both the written word and food in fiction. You can find her online at www.cerellasechrist.com where she pens “Literary Fare: Fiction & Food”, a blog for readers.

43 comments:

  1. A man quoting Shakespeare and a mouthwatering recipe to boot! This is the perfect start to the weekend, Loree!

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    1. Wishing you a great weekend, too, partner!

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  2. I agree with, Cerella! I look forward to reading The Firefighter's Refrain, Loree. It was also nice to see the picture of the tulips at the top of your post . . . when we're getting more snow this morning!

    Best wishes with your upcoming release.

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    1. My poor tulips budded-up, then shriveled thanks to a heavy frost. A few more recovered, only to succumb to another frost. I'm counting my blessings that some of the daffodils and hyacinths bloomed before the weather got all wiggy! And they're predicting snow this weekend. Ack! Hoping you'll enjoy a warm, sunny weekend!

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  3. You had me at the tulips. Sigh. I'm not sure we're even going to have spring. Great excerpt!

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    1. Yeah, seems photos of spring flowers will have to do this year, unfortunately. But this craziness can't last forever, right! (RIGHT?) Enjoy your weekend, Liz!

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  4. Love the tulips, and how you tease us about a book not out until next month. I'll have to console myself with those veggies and dip until the books show up in my mailbox. We got lovely rain last night. Much needed here in the desert. Have a good weekend all.

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    1. You have a lovely weekend, too, Roz!

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  5. Good morning, Loree! I'm embarrassed to say we're having beautiful weather in Oregon - mid 70s yesterday, and supposed to be as nice today. All you sisters in the snow-watch areas, come visit me! Loved the excerpt. A hero with Shakespeare in his heart - what more could we ask? And you keep making me want to try recipes. What's with that? Stop it.

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    1. LOL Muriel! My bathroom scale demanded that I share more wholesome, waist-conscious recipes, so that's a plus, right! LOL Hope your lovely Oregon weather continues all through the weekend!

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  6. I live too far south for snow so I feel for you northerners. The firefighters refrain sound like a good read.

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    1. Snow is pretty, but I'm ready to wave goodbye to it! Hope you'll have a wonderful weekend, Beverly!

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    2. Congratulations, Beverly S! You're the winner of a signed copy of The Firefighter's Refrain! Send your home address to loree@loreelough.com, and I'll put your copy into the mail just as soon as the book releases!

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  7. It is sunny here in south eastern Virginia today. We had a few snow flakes earlier this week. The recipe sounds wonderful. The book is one that I so want to read. I can't get enough of reading books. Reading and reviewing is my passion.

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    1. Authors LOVE to hear from people who love to read, so your post makes me doubly happy that you're enjoying a sunny day there in Virginia, Cheryl! Wishing you a beautiful weekend, too!

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  8. I can't wait to read The Firefighters Refrain and oh wow, that dip recipe sounds sooo yummy that I am going to have to make it!. Thanks so much for a chance to win!

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    1. I'll announce the winners (the book, the gift card) in a few days, so stay tuned! Have a great weekend, Debbie, and if you make the dip, I hope you'll enjoy it, too!

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  9. Yummy veggie dip recipe! Need to print and save that one for my files :-)
    I like firefighter stories and this one sounds like good clean fun from the book excerpt. Thanks for sharing & the chance to win!

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    1. Good luck in the drawings, Trixi! You'll have to let me know how your family enjoys that dip... Have a great weekend!

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    2. Congratulations, Trixi! You won the $15 Amazon egift card! If you'll send your email address to loree@loreelough.com, I'll have it sent to you, asap!

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    3. Yay Loree!!! Email sent & thank you SO much.....now I can buy books (no surprise there, lol)!! :-)

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. But only because it was a duplicate. Redundancy is boring, don't you think? LOL

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    2. A duplicate of my own reply!

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  11. I am going to have to print and save this recipe it sounds delicious. I usually just cheat and use ranch dressing as a dip lol The book sounds like another wonderful one!! Here in Northern Ca we have had some 90 degree days this week!! I was curious to know if the Heartwarming books passed the test yet and will be available at all stores soon?? Thanks for the chance to win and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend :)

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    1. I think you'll find this dip is worth the little bit of time it takes to make it! And you'll find this little bit of information even more delicious: Yes, Heartwarming novels are now available at select Walmart stores! We're counting on our readers to keep right on supporting the line so we're sure to stay there, indefinitely! Thanks for all the support that put us there in the first place! Hope your weekend is terrific!

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  12. Love the recipe and the chance to win. Looks like a wonderful book. Can't wait for spring!! truckredford(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I hear ya, Eliza...spring can't arrive soon enough, can it! Good luck in the drawings, and here's hoping your weekend is wonderful!

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  13. April to me is birthday and anniversary month, headed out of town tomorrow to celebrate our first anniversary!

    Congrats on the new release!

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    1. Happy anniversary to you and your honey, Patty! Here's hoping you'll enjoy every moment of the celebration!

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  14. Great excerpt!! That poor girl on the floor surrounded by food. I wonder how Sam will make it up to her. Oh the love of Heartwarming books. Congratulations on the new book Loree Lough. Will this one be the first in a series? Always like when the two of you post, such fun. Nice recipe too. Hi Cerella!! ( :

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    1. Oh, you can be sure Sam will make amends, Laurie! And all the Heartwarming authors are happy to hear you love the line. THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN rounds out my 3-book "Those Marshall Boys" series, but stay tuned...I'll have another 3-book series coming your way soon! Wishing you a beautiful weekend!

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    2. Oops, I did read that The Firefighter's Refrain is the 3rd and final book in the Those Marshall Boys series. I was reading this blog post outside in the car where distractions abound. So glad you'll have another series. Enjoy your weekend as well.

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    3. I can hardly wait to introduce you to the new characters and storylines. Some exciting, different stuff, I think!

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  15. I would like to be in the running to get the Firefighter's Refrain. I love Loree's books and I have problems finding them close to me. I want to see what happens to Sam.

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    1. Your name is in my trusty winners hat, Connie! Good luck, and thanks for the compliment on my books! Hope you're enjoying a wonderful weekend!

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  16. Okay, I've got to read the rest of this! ❤

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    1. Happy to hear I've piqued your interest, Cyn! Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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  17. Okay, I've got to read the rest of this! ❤

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    1. By the way, your name is now in my trusty winners hat! Come back tomorrow at noon when I'll announce the winner of both prizes!

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  18. Yikes! I'm late! Six hours late, to be exact! (Unexpected company...that's my excuse!

    So without further ado, the winner of the $15 Amazon egift card is...TRIXI! Send your email address to loree@loreelough.com and I'll have it delivered asap!

    And the winner of a signed copy of THE FIREFIGHTER'S REFRAIN is...Beverly S! Send your home address to loree@loreelough.com and I'll send your copy just as soon as the book releases!

    I'll post an announcement on your comments, and on Facebook/Twitter. If you'll send your email and home addr

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