My New Addictions: Chocolate Toffee and Sexy Romance Novels

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Maybe I’ve taken this summer vacation thing too far, indulged too much, for too long, but it’s too late now.

I’m addicted.

Even thought I’m back to work, I rush through my tasks to get to the end of the work day and back to my latest indulgences, nicely paired together (the new bonbons and soap operas): chocolate toffee and sexy romance novels.

I haven’t found anything else to distract me from this dynamite duo of delectably dangerous desert. (I know what you’re thinking: this girl needs to get a life.)

This pair of perfection is the exact antidote to the routine, boring life, or the stressed, crazy life. Either way, it’s a welcome reprieve from a life filled to the brim with responsibilities and work. If you’re up for a staycation experience on any given Sunday afternoon or rainy Saturday or evening after dinner alone, I want to share the delight with you.

The Recipe: Chocolate Almond Toffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. Toasted chopped almonds
  • 1/2 c. toasted chopped pecans
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Let butter melt and then cook, stirring constantly with a spatula (so the butter and sugar don’t separate!), until mixture turns a dark amber, 12 to 15 minutes. (This can take closer to 20 minutes if you’re heat is not high enough. Increase the heat and keep stirring until the color turns. Don’t give up! If you’d like to use a candy thermometer for this step, attach it to the saucepan and cook until the temperature reaches 285º, or hard crack stage.) Toffee mixture should be dark in color and very thick. Stir in ½ cup of chopped almonds.
  2. Pour toffee mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately top all over with chocolate chips. Let sit 2 minutes so chocolate begins to melt, then spread chocolate all over with a spatula to create a layer on top of toffee.
  3. Sprinkle all over with remaining ½ cup almonds and pecans (use chopped crumbs too for nice texture!) and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour, then cut or break into pieces and serve.

AND

The Sexy Romance Novels:  Love on Fire

 

6 steamy romance novels by 6 bestselling authors…

Sometimes passion takes you and there’s nothing you can do to resist it. That hotfeeling overwhelms you until you can think of nothing else but him, want to do nothing else but make love.
Sometimes love sets you on fire until it consumes you.
Let these six novels of crazy hot love take you there, make you feel the heat of that passion, bring you that ecstatic joy.

Playing the Game – by USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Queen – International Digital Award Winning romance about a socialite playing the game of seduction to win against a superstar until winning feels more like losing her heart.
“Reading Queen is an absolutely scrumptious experience…with characters who come alive like Pop Rocks and carbonated beverages” –Romantic Times Book Review

Bittersweets – by bestselling author Suzanne Jenkins – A one-night stand for lawyers Terry and Alex segues into a long weekend of passion, leading to a lifetime of romance.
“…once I began reading I knew there was no turning back. Suzanne Jenkins has an incredible talent.”–Anonymous Reviewer

Red Rock Rises – by USA Today bestselling author Taylor Lee – A fiery former undercover agent, as tough as she is beautiful, no one messes with Red Rock until she meets the handsome Police Chief.
“Taylor Lee does it again! Red Rock Rises introduces another unforgettable heroine and a hero who is more than her match. From the first page to the last, the sparks fly between Jesse O’Donnell aka Red Rock and the sexy Police Chief.”–Kharma Queen

Bedroom Therapy – by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca York – Phone sex, fantasies and fetishes are all in a day’s work for sex advice columnist Dr. Amanda O’Neal until she meets sexy detective Zack Grant, and things get personal.
“Bedroom Therapy is a torrid private investigative romance with the heated emphasis on the equatorial hot relationship between the sleuth and the doctor. The story line is fun to follow” –Amazon Review

Tempted by Mr. Wrong – by USA Today bestselling author Jacquie Biggar – How can something so wrong, feel so right?
Jacquie Biggar had me reading well past my bedtime. The characters are so well written they could walk right off the page!” –Avonna

To Love A Hero – by NYT and USA Today bestselling author Mona Risk” – Amidst a clash of cultures, an American scientist finds more chemistry than she bargains for with a national hero from Belarus
Outstanding Read. Mona Risk’s To Love a Hero is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn’t be more different. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this.”–Simply Romance. Review

Available for Pre-Order Now – Release Date August 14th

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Stephanie Queen
About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.
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Turn Ordinary Brownies Into Extraordinary! #Recipe #Foodies #mgtab

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Double Chocolate English Toffee BitsHave plain ol’ brownies ever made you yawn? Here’s a pick-me-up that is sure to make you smile. When the box of brownie mix sitting in my pantry made me say, “Meh,” I knew I needed a solution. Quick. So I concocted this fast and easy fix that will turn ordinary brownies into extraordinary! I’ll never look at brownies the same way again.

I call these Double Chocolate English Toffee Brownies and my husband LOVES them.

Bake a batch of brownies as directed on the box. As soon as you pull the pan out of the oven, sprinkle the brownies with 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate pieces (use more, if you like). I use Nestles Mini Morsels because they melt faster than the regular sized chocolate chips. Wait about five minutes and then use a butter knife to spread the chocolate evenly over the top of the brownies. While the chocolate is still lusciously melty, sprinkle about a cup of Heath English Toffee Bits over the top. Wait until the brownies cool and then cut into squares. Delicious!

Do you have a quick and easy fix that changes a recipe from ordinary to extraordinary? Please share in the comment section below.

While I have your attention, can I tell you about the newest book in my A Family Forever Series? A REASON TO BELIEVE is a cute little fairy tale that’s chockfull of Irish Folklore. It’s available in ebook and in paperback. I hope you’ll look for it!

A Reason To Believe

About the book: It seems like a grand idea, temporarily trading her pixie wings for a womanly form to help handsome widower Paul Roland with his baby girl. And the moment she holds the precious bairn in her arms, Fern knows true happiness for the first time.

But Fern never anticipates the dizzying emotions she feels for the man who not only needs her as a nanny, but as a woman whose passion can heal his wounded heart. Suddenly the forbidden fairy rule she gently bends because of the baby is in danger of being irrevocably broken.

Some things are meant to be…

Have a safe and happy holiday!

"Thanks for stopping by today!   We hope you enjoyed what we shared with you today! Please take a few moments to share with your friends using the share buttons below. Subscribe to our blog so that you don't miss a single post. ->>   And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, get some free books and then get a note containing sales and new releases each Friday."

Donna Fasano
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.

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I Dream In Chocolate

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chcolate strawberries

 

A little over a week ago I did a blog on #gratitude and my experience with Parkinson’s over on the #RSSOS blog I also blog on.

I can’t speak to how others experience Parkinson’s, only on my own experience. Right now I have a slight tremor and that’s about it. It’s beginning to seem it may stay like that for quite awhile and I appreciate that, I truly do.

I will say, however, I think you get treated differently as a patient, when you’re older. I say this, because, besides giving birth, my only other experience with being injured and the health care system, happened over 20 years ago.

I was hit driver’s side, head on by a garbage truck coming around the corner who lost control and came onto my lane going about 45 mph. The front of my car, a Cricket if I remember correctly, crunched down like a thin tin can, until it hit something around the wheel, or close to it.

The truck stopped, everything shuddered and it continued forward. The window shattered into a zillion small pieces held together, by what seemed afterwards to be something like the mac-tac we had used to cover our schoolbooks as a child. It then wrapped around my head. The seatbelt shoulder restraint gave way and it felt as if my body was thrown sideways. One hip hit the gear shift and my right arm seemed to turn into spaghetti, allowing me to touch the car door on the other side briefly, while maintaining a death grip on the steering wheel. Thankfully the car, along with me, was thrown free from the garbage truck.

I was extremely lucky since I walked out of it. But I didn’t escape unscathed. I had constant migraines for months afterwards along with neck and back problems that have continued over the years. Still, I was lucky. I survived and was able to start a family and, basically, have a life.

So what does that have to do with Parkinson’s ? We’ll skip over the fact that the areas of my body most affected by Parkinson’s are the same areas injured most during the accident. The big difference is doctors and therapists assumed I would recover and lead a normal life.

The ER doctor referred me to a physiotherapist that worked outside the hospital, so he ‘could push me harder.’ The physiotherapist’s mantra seemed to be, “I’ve worked on football players that have played football with a broken neck. You can do it.” I was worried about driving because I had constant headaches and felt dizzy sometimes. “Keep driving,”” I was told. If you give up you’ll stop trying and it will be harder to recover. Out of respect for my fellow drivers I wouldn’t follow that advice now. I worried about mixing up words and was told it was within normal limits and just act as if I’d never been injured.

It felt as if I was in some weird type of bubble, divorced from real life. Somewhere I heard of cervical fusion operations which seemed like a great idea at the time. Not so fast. No way was anyone going to do that surgery on me until at least two years of constant, unstoppable pain, that stopped me from doing pretty well anything.

Fortunately, within a year I was much better. And at this stage in my life I don’t think anyone would suggest I have a neck operation.

Parkinson’s was different. I think it took two years before the doctor stopped asking if my balance was off, if I felt dizzy. No, maybe sometimes? Did I drool yet and a pack of other questions that made me go, “God no,” and wonder if I could just shoot myself now. Truly, it wasn’t a future I wanted to think about.

So I focused on my chocolate mysteries and a world filled with chocolate. Maybe it was a cop out but I couldn’t see where focusing on my doctor’s vision would help anything at all. I pictured my heroine, Maxine. In her mid-twenties, she’s given up a career in banking to follow her dreams. I visualized a chocolate shop filled with chocolate delights. I saw her catering events

Maxine

in interesting locals and I pictured Heath, her sidekick along with Detective Patrick Shannon, a hot detective who is in and out of her life. I figured if I was going to drool it might as well be over something worthwhile.Detective Shannon

That doesn’t mean I ignored my illness. I read everything I could about it and took some of the medications my doctor suggested. When I questioned him about others he couldn’t give me a good, concrete reason to take them and there were some pretty big downsides. I asked him about yoga and dance but he really didn’t know anything. I did yoga for years for my back, though, so except for a period to heal my rotator cuff shoulder, I kept doing it. Then I added dance exercise classes. Because I enjoy them and I can.

Some of what I’ve learned helped me come up with a medical romantic suspense series which I’m working on now. But even things inspired by actual experiences won’t necessarily be recognizable. That’s what makes fiction interesting. It’s not bound by the rules of normal life.

To share some of Maxines favorite chocolate recipes, click on the booklet.

recipeBook (1)

The latest book in my Death by Chocolate series is Soul Mates. Click on the cover for further information.

Soul Mates Cover

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Love In The Time of Chocolate

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Soul Mates Cover

Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day would look through the eyes of a chocolatier and caterer?

For Maxine,Valentine’s Day and the weeks leading up to it are busy times. It seems she can’t make enough chocolate. From catering a wine and truffle party for her friends’s new dating service to making a chocolate torte for a couple who have been happily in love thirty plus years, the one constant in her life is chocolate.

It looks as if there might be something more going on than just dating at Soul Mates though and will she get her own HEA with a certain detective or is she in for a broken heart? And she’s stepping out of her comfort zone to take part in Victoria’s answer to So You Think You Can Dance complete with it’s very own mirror ball trophy.

In case you’re looking for a dessert to wow that certain someone this is Maxine’s special recipe.

Chocolate Lave Cakes For Two

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa

2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I recommend Callebaut)

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1/3 cup superfine sugar (put regular sugar in food processor and pulse a few times to make fine if necessary).

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

——————————————————————–

Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Chop chocolate into pieces along with butter.

Melt butter and chocolate in microwave doing 10 seconds at a time and stirring together until smooth and melted.

Cool for 10 minutes

Whisk together eggs and sugar

Sift flour over your chocolate mixture and then gently fold in.

Grease two three inch ramekins (I use Pam butter spray) and divide your chocolate mixture evenly between the two.

Bake at 325 for 11 – 13 minutes depending on oven

Turn your chocolate lava cakes out and serve immediately

Soul Mates is available on Amazon.com. More of Maxine’s Chocolate recipes can be found on my website, www.patamsden.com.

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Maxine Here

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Holly, berry and ribbon Christmas garland

Chocolatier, Caterer and owner of Au Chocolate. Heroine of the Death By Chocolate Series

Maxine. Chocolatier, Caterer and owner of Au Chocolate. Heroine of the Death By Chocolate Series

Do I know what it’s like to have a zillion things to do and no time? I definitely do. Between being a chocolatier and caterer, as well as having all kinds of family and friends, Christmas is one busy time of year for me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’ve already bought and made most of my presents.

There’s always last minute ones though. I recommend whipping up a quick batch of chocolate truffles. Because really who doesn’t like chocolate? Christmas chocolate bark is also quick and easy.

For a special dinner, maybe with Detective Shannon, I’ll whip up a chocolate mousse or make some chocolate covered strawberries. I’m including the chocolate truffle recipe here. The others are included in the booklet Chocolate Recipes From Maxine. I’ll send you a copy automatically when you sign up for my newsletter.

Chocolate Truffles

  • ½ cup heavy creamchocolate
  • ½ cup dark, semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate
  • Flavoring to taste
  • Truffle shells if available

Melt chocolate and whisk in heavy cream (whipping cream). It should be a pudding consistency when finished.

I currently am finding the truffle shells I get from my local chocolate supplies shop are unusable because part of the shell is paper thin and can’t be removed from packaging without breaking but there’s no question that if you can get them it’s the easiest way of doing truffles. Just put the truffle mixture in a frosting sleeve with a plain tip and fill the truffles. The truffle mixture should be cool to almost luke warm when you do so.

Then melt some chocolate and cool to luke-warm. Using a chocolate loop gently roll filled truffles in chocolate covering then put on foil lined plate and refrigerate.

If this is not an option cool truffle mixture until solid. Roll into balls and roll truffle ball in cocoa mix or coconuts, crushed nuts or whatever your heart desires.

It may take a little work but I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like truffles. I’m wishing you all Happy Holidays and the very best of New Years. And if you’ve got a few minutes why not check out our Book Bites 3 and 4? They’re filled with first chapters of your Author’s Billboard authors, myself included. I myself, picked up copies to give a friend along with her new kindle. A perfect present if I do say so myself.

If you’ve got a few hours to curl up with a good book you may want to check out my Death By Chocolate series. You won’t believe some of the adventures I’ve had while catering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes For A Kick Ass Heroine?

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‘Everyone tells me he’s not good for me but he’s the love of my life – I can’t leave him.’

I want to say yes, yes you can – but I know that she won’t listen. Not in the two minutes and maybe less I have to speak with her. So I tell her she may love him but she deserves to be loved by someone who treats her with respect while getting her to give me her mother’s name and phone number as a contact.

And I can’t help but pray she doesn’t slavishly follow Belle’s lead from Twilight or other heroines willing to die for their hero. Be a Hermione, not a Belle as one friend so brilliantly put it. Develop your brains and your talents. Learn to work with and develop relationships with people who you can love and trust.

I write heroines who can take care of themselves. They make mistakes, sometimes they do crazy things and they can definitely drive the men in their lives crazy, but they don’t suffer from the Too Stupid To Live Syndrome.

Maxine, the heroine in my Death By Chocolate series may be an amateur when it comes to sleuthing but she’s got good instincts and knows a lot of the people in the mysteries she’s solved. After all they tend to happen at events she’s catered. It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for her catering business but since people really do love chocolate they do seem to overlook that fact.

Kate McLaren in Lost In Vegas has lost everything when she comes to Vegas and she makes some bad decisions. In my twenties I made some bad decisions too. I think a lot of people do. But she lands on her feet and is instrumental in catching and bringing her kidnappers to justice. She brings a way of looking at and approaching people that JT doesn’t have. Together, they’re unstoppable. I really want to write a sequel to that book!

How about you? What type of heroines and heroes do you like? What draws you to a story. I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win monthy books and gift cards. You won’t regret it!

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Creating A Series

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I now have three books in my Death By Chocolate series up on Amazon. A Ghostly Affair, A Christmas Wedding To Die For and my first book in the series, Chocolate Worth Dying For.

Oh, I know a lot of hard work went into it but, to me, it still seems magical. I’ve blogged on creating a series previously but at that point I was in the process of planning it out. For the first time in my life I sat down and seriously (and sometimes not so seriously) thought out what I wanted in the series. With the help of Power Point, Pinterest and Lisa Wells’ class on building a series I was well on my way.

Chocolate Worth Dying For, a cozy mystery series would be set in Victoria, BC and revolve a chocolate shop owner and caterer, Maxine Peters. Smart, sassy and too nosy to keep her nose out of other people’s business she’d have to find out who was behind any crime committed around her. In real life I don’t advise that. There’s a certain truth to the saying, ‘curiosity killed the cat.’

Then I came up with a side kick, Heath. Part of it was practically. Catering requires a lot of heavy lifting so her side-kick Heath is 6’2′ and a recent graduate of cooking school. He’s young, enthusiastic, works for cheap and he can do the heavy lifting, as well as giving her moral support. I gave her an on again off again love interest who was a policeman. There’s more but that’s the backbone of it.

I’ve stuck with the backbone and all those ideas and pictures of what the characters wore, car they drove etc really paid off. Plot points changed. Characters were added or deleted and I’m sure that to many looking at the starting ‘bible’ and the end result, it would seem as if I should have just started from scratch. They’d be wrong.

Since then I’ve been to ThrillerFest and heard some exceptional writers such as Michael Palmer, Catherine Coulter and Michael Connelly talk about their writing and how they do it. Most didn’t give such formalized directions on creating books or series. But most did spend a fair amount of time thinking about their characters and ideas for their books before they actually started writing them. In their own way, whether they’ve admitted it to themselves or not they’ve all come up with their own ‘bibles’.

Michael Connelly KNOWS his main characters, such as Harry Bosch, better than many of you know your friends. Characters get major thought and research before they make it to the page in Catherine Coulter’s books.

Given that I also work full time, with no assistants in sight to help organize my work or life, creating a ‘bible’ is a smart way of keeping track of the details so that I can create another story in my Chocolate Worth Dying For Series.

Right now I’m working on the fourth in my series, Soul Mates. One of Maxine’s best friends has just opened a matchmaking service. After all who doesn’t want love, romance and happily ever after? The question is how far will someone go to get it? And what happens when someone decides to take advantage? One of Maxine’s best friends, Tanya has decided to open a dating service, Soul Mates and Maxine wants nothing but the best for her. But…

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens. If you want to start at the beginning Chocolate Worth Dying For is free on Amazon.com every day this week except the 28th.

Chocolate Worth Dying For  FREE  on April 27, 29, 30 and May 1st.

New Chocolate Worth Dying For CoverA Christmas Wedding To Die For - Copycover (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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