Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Cathy Gillen Thacker | Exclusive Excerpt: A TALE OF TWO CHRISTMAS LETTERS
Author Guest / November 22, 2019

Bess looked at the handsome physician still standing opposite her. “I assume by the way you just said that there’s an ulterior motive?” He lifted his hands. “I need you to talk them out of something.” Of course he did. His three little girls were known for both their stubbornness and their indefatigable ef­forts to always get their own way. Fortunately, Jack’s fifty-six-year-old housekeeper and nanny was pretty good at getting and keeping them on track. “Can’t Mrs. Deaver back you up?” Jack scrubbed a hand across his face. “She’d prefer not to get involved with this one.” Bess paused, aware that the mystery of whatever was going on in his estrogen-fueled household had already drawn her in. Even though she knew she had to be care­ful not to get too involved in the sexy widower’s prob­lems, given her current emotionally vulnerable state. “Which begs the question, then, Doc. Should I?” she retorted, enjoying the switch back to their usual play­ful banter. The corners of Jack’s eyes crinkled. “Just join us for pizza.” As she had many times in the past when he required an extra hand corralling his girls. She sighed. Why was he so damned hard to resist?…

Lee Tobin McClain | Exclusive Interview: THE SECRET CHRISTMAS CHILD
Author Guest / November 22, 2019

Welcome to Fresh Fiction, Lee! Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your latest novel, THE SECRET CHRISTMAS CHILD. Thanks for having me on Fresh Fiction! I’m a dog lover with a heart for kids, so creating a series centered around an organization that matches up rescue dogs and at-risk boys just made sense. But don’t take my word for it, check out the book description here: Reese Markowski can’t believe he’s hiring his ex-girlfriend–but to save his program for dogs and at-risk kids, the veteran needs Gabby Hanks. Single mom Gabby’s fierce love for her infant daughter is undeniable, as is the child’s effect on Reese’s wounded heart. Their holiday reunion is a joyful surprise, but nothing prepares Reese for the truth about Gabby’s baby. . . Gabby Hanks never expects her new boss to be her ex-boyfriend, Reese. She needs the job and will do whatever it takes to keep a stable life for her young daughter, Izzy. Even though she has been through a lot, Gabby is hardworking and determined to make the most of her circumstances. What do you love the most about the character of Gabby? One of my favorite parts of writing…

The Authors of LONGING FOR A COWBOY CHRISTMAS | Holiday Fun + Giveaway!
Author Guest / November 13, 2019

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? To celebrate, we asked the authors from the anthology Longing for a Cowboy Christmas to answer some fun Christmas themed questions! Their answers certainly have us Longing for a cowboy Christmas of our own!   What’s the best part about writing a Christmas book? Rosanne Bittner: The best part about writing a Christmas story is that it takes me into that “miracle” mood that seems to be a part of the Christmas holiday. I always try to include some kind of little miracle in my stories. In last year’s anthology, Christmas In A Cowboy’s Arms, my story miracle was the healed awakening of an unconscious little girl. This year, in Longing for A Cowboy Christmas, my miracle surrounds the birth of a baby boy the mother wasn’t sure she could love. Anna Schmidt: For me the holidays are a magical time of sharing and giving and FORgiving. To be able to tell stories that convey those things is a gift in itself. Margaret Brownley: I always seem to be writing a Christmas book during the searing heat of summer.  To get in the right mood, I try to imagine a reader…

Shannon Stacey | ONE CHRISTMAS EVE + a Delicious Recipe!
Author Guest / November 12, 2019

I love the holidays so much. Christmas romance movies. Christmas romance novels. And the food. So much food and, for my family, a lot of food that we only have during the holidays because most of the dishes we eat to celebrate would pack on the pounds if they were a part of our regular diet. The sausage balls and crack potatoes I make for Christmas breakfast every year, for example. In One Christmas Eve, Zoe (the bookstore owning heroine who’s got the hots for the slightly uptight business owner next door) shows up for Thanksgiving dinner with a dish of baked macaroni and cheese, which is one of those special occasion dishes the Stacey family only gets for the holidays. I took the original core recipe from Julie James (though I can’t find it on her site and I think it was a Facebook post several years ago), and she said it came from Walt Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival. (Wine being another great holiday tradition!) The second time I made it, I tried adding some dried mustard to give it a little zing. Then I tried adding buffalo chicken and now that’s the only way we eat…

Viv Royce | I Heart Christmas: Four Super Seasonal Things to Escape Into!
Author Guest / October 25, 2019

You know how they say that preparing for something is almost more fun than actually doing it? All those hours spent to find the perfect holiday destination, crossing off the days until you’re leaving, the nerves in your stomach when the big day has arrived. . . It’s just like that with Christmas! No matter how many ornaments there are, neatly wrapped in tissue paper in the boxes in the attic, the cellar or the garage, it’s always a good idea to buy some more. Advent calendars are a fun way to count down to Christmas, and when certain smells invade the house – pine, cranberry, gingerbread – you know the time is coming near. . . I wanted to capture all that and more in my very first Christmas romance, A Family by Christmas, just released from Entangled Bliss. My heroine Emma is a bonbon maker whose agenda is over-full in the runup to Christmas. Her whole life seems to consist of work, really, as she’s an orphan with no siblings and not a lot of new friends yet in Wood Creek, the small New Hampshire town she moved to, to open up her very own chocolate-making business. But…

Fall Slow Cooker Recipe Potluck | A CHRISTMAS HOME by Marta Perry + Giveaway!
Author Guest , Potluck / October 11, 2019

It’s the final day of our Fall Slow Cooker Recipe Potluck! We’ve enjoyed following along with all of these great authors, their new books, and delicious slow cooker recipes. Comment below for a chance to win yet another book! And be sure to take a look back at all of the fun we’ve had all week:  Day 1 with Elizabeth Goddard  Day 2 with Soraya Lane Day 3 with Laura Lee Guhrke Day 4 with Jenn Burke  *** Autumn: Time for Comfort Food The mornings are crisp now in central Pennsylvania, and the mist hangs in the valleys for an hour or so after the sun makes its way over the mountain ridges. Leaves have begun to turn, orange pumpkins fill the roadside stands, and we bring in the last few tomatoes and winter squash from the garden. At a time like this, with winter not far off, my thoughts turn to comfort food. And for comfort food, what could be better than a slow cooker? Comfort food forms a large part of any collection of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. The farmers, both Amish and English, who settled in these fertile valleys felt the need for plenty of carbohydrates to keep…

Fall Slow Cooker Recipe Potluck | ONCE UPON A COWBOY CHRISTMAS by Soraya Lane + Giveaway!
Author Guest , Potluck / October 8, 2019

Our Potluck continues with yet another delicious recipe and fabulous author with a new book! Don’t forget to follow along all week for more recipes, more books, and more giveaways!  Day 1 with Elizabeth Goddard: http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=10267    *** When Cody Ford is back home on the ranch, he loves nothing more than the comfort food he grew up with as a kid. So I can imagine Cody and Lexi curled up by the fire at Christmas, while it’s snowing outside, eating this devious beef stew! Aromatic Beef Stew You don’t need a slow cooker for this recipe, it’s equally as good if you do it in the oven, or if you simmer in a pot on the stovetop. The combination of orange peel, star anise, and hoisin sauce makes it aromatic and delicious! Ingredients Approx. 1.5 kg beef blade steak or beef cheeks 2 Tbsp flour 2 Tbsp cooking oil A handful of shallots 1 cup red wine 1 x 400g can tomatoes Half cup prunes 60ml hoisin sauce 1 star anise One approx 3cm length of orange peel Extra water if necessary Trim the fat off the meat, then cut into large chunks. Put the flour in a plastic…

Cindy Woodsmall | Clearing a Little Space
Author Guest / October 1, 2019

Against the odds, the oak sapling took root in our backyard that was filled with scrub pine trees and overrun with bramble. Despite the strong growth of the underbrush, the oak sapling, with its tiny trunk and even tinier branches, pushed upward, reaching for sunlight from high above. It was a decent height, maybe five feet, but scraggly and skinny. A canopy of other trees and thicket kept the sapling in the shade and depleted its soil of nutrients. Vines of various kinds wrapped around it, using it to gain a height of its own. But it didn’t die. It also didn’t thrive. It reminded me of a vine of poison oak more than an oak tree. Its sickly trunk bent and twisted, always jetting out and then reaching up, clearly trying to find a way to reach life-sustaining sunlight. At the time our backyard had a blind fence enclosing a half-acre of mostly scrub pines and thicket. We’d left it that way for over ten years because our youngest son asked us to. He loved being outdoors as well as the feel of “deep woods.” It seems he spent half of his childhood in that space. As children do,…

Lucy Gilmore | Top 5 Must-Read Romance Novels
Author Guest / September 27, 2019

My reading habits don’t follow a very regular course. I’ll spend an entire year reading nothing but Traditional Regencies only to spend the next six months devouring the entire Betty Neels backlist (all 134 of them, for my fellow jersey dress lovers). Then I’ll skip to sexy thrillers for a few months before losing myself in a sea of Pride and Prejudice retellings. In other words, I tend to read the same way I watch Netflix: I binge. Since it can be difficult to pick my favorites out of the so many different and varied rabbit holes I’ve plunged myself into recently, here are five that stand out as worth a second read. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin: This one came into my world during my Pride and Prejudice retellings binge, and it didn’t disappoint. I particularly adored the hero, Khalid, whose deep and quiet admiration of Ayesha perfectly captured the feelings Darcy has for Elizabeth. Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat: My love for the Captive Prince series is so strong that I re-read these books every year. They’re twisted and sexy and intricately plotted in ways my mind can’t even fathom. This time I opted for the audiobooks,…

June Faver | Opening Scene + Three Fun Facts about Cowboy Christmas Homecoming
Author Guest / September 24, 2019

IT WAS LATE NOVEMBER WHEN HE FOUND THE ENVELOPE. Big Jim Garrett held the letter for a while before opening it. It was from his sister-in-law, Adele, who now lived over in Fort Worth. There was a stack of mail on the kitchen counter, but from what he could tell, it was made up mostly of Christmas cards. He would leave those for the others in his household to open, but this letter was addressed to him personally with no “and family” tacked on. What’s going on with Adele? After Big Jim’s brother had died, Adele had sold their land and moved to Fort Worth, where she had some relatives. Big Jim’s back teeth ground together as he recalled how she had fallen way behind in property taxes and was forced to sell off the property and stock. The woman had always been headstrong and shortsighted, to his way of thinking. No business sense, and she hadn’t come to Big Jim until it was too late. He took a seat at the counter separating the kitchen from the dining area. Tearing the envelope open, he slid out a single sheet of notepaper. Dear Jim, I’m writing to let you know…