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Blog Tour : Forever's Holiday Celebrations



Forever’s Holiday Celebration Blog Tour

‘Tis the season to celebrate! Five of Forever’s authors with brand new Christmas romances are sharing their favorite holiday recipes and memories.

CAROLYN BROWN’S PUMPKIN BREAD

Kids, grand children, great-grands, all coming home for the holidays—the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in the oven—everyone waiting for it to get done so they can slice it up while it’s still hot, slather butter or whipped cream cheese on it, and tell the age old stories about the holidays we’ve had in the house. That’s the stuff memories are made off and every time I smell pumpkin bread it puts a smile on my face for the whole day.

PUMPKIN BREAD
This makes 2 loaves and 8 muffins; Or it makes one Bundt cake

½ cup butter
½ cup shortening
2 2/3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-16 ounce can)
3 ½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 cup pecans (optional)
2/3 cup of cold strong black coffee
(NOTE: I use all butter if I’m out of shortening or even oil)

1.     Cream first four ingredients.
2.     Add canned pumpkin.
3.     Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee
4.     Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour for loaves or bundt cake, 25 minutes for muffins, or until they test done in the center.
5.     Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
6.     Cool completely before frosting with Harvest Moon Frosting (below).

HARVEST MOON FROSTING
3 egg whites
1½ cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a double boiler. Cook 7 minutes, beating the whole time with an electric mixer, over the boiling water.  The frosting will stand in peaks when done. Add vanilla.  Beat until thick enough to spread.



Find out more about Carolyn Brown at her website.


***   ARC provided by the author for an honest review  ***

Merry Cowboy Christmas is the third book in the Lucky Penny Ranch series by Carolyn Brown.

Fiona has returned back home. Although she didn’t really want to, she really had nowhere else to go. She is currently divorced. She has been blacklisted because of her divorce and she has lost the job at the coffee house that she has been working at. She is on her way home when she is involved in an accident. And she is pissed!

Jud has bought into the Lucky Penny Ranch. He and his cousins share the load. He is looking to finally settle down, get married and have a family. This is why he has come to town.

Fiona and Jud meet because he happened to be in the truck behind her when she went off the road. They both notice each other and are attracted to each other, but Fiona is not looking for anything new after the end of her marriage.

Fiona just felt like she didn’t fit in her family. Her sisters had direction in their lives, they knew what they wanted to do and where they were going. And she just felt lost. When she finds that Jud is staying in her family house, and across the hall from her, she is stunned. But the closeness and proximity allow for them to get to know each other better and allows Jud to overcome the obstacle that is Fiona. They begin to bond over late night snacks, drinks and conversation. She lets him in, even though she is apprehensive about the situation.

Will Fiona allow for her and Jud’s relationship to go to the next level? Or will her prior situation cause her to remain closed off?

I would give this book four stars.

Reviewed by: Nicole W




PAULA QUINN’S CHRISTAS COOKIES

My dad used to live across the street from us. Every year, when my
kids were little, he would dress up like Santa, climb out his window
on the second floor, and hang Christmas lights on his fire escape. My
kids would watch from our window with wonder in their eyes, unaware
that it was grandpa. He would turn and wave to them, sending them into
little fits of breathlessness. Later, we would visit grandma and
grandpa’s for homemade cookies (left there for them by Santa). The
house was always fully decked out with every Christmas decoration
imaginable with Alvin and the Chipmunks on repeat while the kids
hunted down little “pre-Christmas” gifts he’d hide for them. I loved
witnessing the magic of Christmas and love through their eyes. Now
grown, my kids will sometimes still look out the window at his fire
escape and smile, remembering a grandpa who loved them beyond measure.



GRANDPA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (A favored Italian recipe)

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

3½ cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder


1.     Sift dry ingredients.
2.     Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs; add
vanilla and dry ingredients.
3.     Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands.

4.     Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and then twirl into
shape.
5.     Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.


ICING
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 teaspoons water

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir until creamy. Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles.





***   ARC provided by the author for an honest review  ***

A Highlander’s Christmas Kiss is the fifth novel in The MacGregors: Highland Heirs series by Paula Quinn  .

Temperance Menzie is the only child of her father Seth Menzie  .  She has known nothing but love and happiness since the day that she was born  .  Her mother passed while giving birth to her and in this  ,  her father lost his greatest love  .  She is nineteen and it is time for her to be married off  ,  so that she will be safe from her overlord’s son Duncan  .  She is betrothed to her best friend William  ,  there is no great love there  .  She does not want to marry William because she too wants to be with the love of her life and she will not settle  .

Cailean Grant is a member of the Black Riders  ,  a band of mercenaries  .  He recently joined the group because he has shut his heart off due to two great losses in his life  .  He does not want to love or enjoy life anymore  ,  because he has been marked by the losses  .

One day  ,  the Black Riders ride in to her town and murder her father  .  They blame him for the shooting of Patrick  ,  Cailean’s cousin  .  Temperance vows to avenge her father’s death and sets out to do so  .  She just needs to find out who is responsible for his death  .

Cailean turns up stabbed in the back on her property and she nurses him back to health  .  All the time not knowing the truth of who he is and how he has changed her life forever  .  They fall in love, and he feels the guilt of his past indiscretions  .  They share a lot of their past with each other  .  But there are still many secrets kept between them  .

Will their love be enough to overcome their losses  ?  Will Temperance be able to forgive those who took her father away from her  ?

I really liked this book  .  It was a great read .  I would give this book four stars  .

Reviewed by: Nicole W.




Find out more about Paula Quinn at her website.


DEBBIE MASON TREE TRIMMING PARTY

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is our tree trimming party. We’ve held one every year for the past thirty years. Though I don’t know if it qualifies as a party seeing as it’s just the immediate family. But we do make a thing of it with our favorite carols playing in the background, fire on (mostly for ambience), hot chocolate served in festive mugs, lots of holiday treats, and a special ornament for each of the kids and grandkids to open before the tree decorating gets under way.



But I think the most fun for all of us isn’t decorating the tree, it’s unpacking the ornaments. I’ve always tried to buy an ornament that’s uniquely suited to each of the kids, whether it was a sport they were into that year or a movie, book, or hobby they loved, so unwrapping each one brings back a lot of special memories. Here’s a peek at just some of the collection. I don’t think it will be long before we have to break from tradition and let the kids take some of the ornaments home to decorate their own trees. Either that or we’ll have to put up another tree.



And this one in my office doesn’t countJ Every year, my family gifts me with an ornament too. This year they gave me these three adorable oranaments to celebrate the release of the first book in the new Harmony Harbor series, MISTLETOE COTTAGE, and the short story, CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL.





***   ARC provided by the author for an honest review  ***

Mistletoe Cottage is the first book in the Harmony Harbor series by Debbie Mason.

Sophie loved living in Harmony Harbor, but due to a situation that left her in disgrace, she left her home town and decided that she would never return home again. However, years later, she has to return home because she lost her home in a fire. Although she was apprehensive about going back home, she was welcomed back with open arms and tears to boot.

Liam is a little older then Sophie. Sophie was Liam’s sister’s friend. He watched her as she got older and realized that he had feelings for her. Because of her leaving town so abruptly, he never got a chance to voice his feelings to her, and he has regretted ever since. Now it is seven years later and she is back in town, and he is taken by surprise of how he still feels for her.

Sophie and Liam are able to come together and enjoy a loving and kind connection. Liam is just what she needs after having been away for so long as a single parent. He not only is in love with Sophie, but he falls in love with her daughter as well.

This story was very sweet and loving. I  would enjoy ready more like it.

I would give this book four stars.

Reviewed by: Nicole W.





Find out more about Debbie Mason at her website.


HOPE RAMSAY’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Every year for the last quarter-century, or possibly longer, I have set aside the Saturday closest to Christmas to bake gingerbread cookies with my children, and now, with my grandchildren.   These are the only cookies I make at Christmas time, and the activity is more about family fun than turning out a perfect cookie.  Usually I do most of the rolling, cutting, and baking.  And the rest of the family does the decorating.

The magic is in the royal icing.  The white icing is a snap to make, and it can be divided up into small bowls and colored with food dye, creating pots of colored cookie paint.  I give each child (or adult) a watercolor paint brush and let them paint the icing onto the cookies.  The kids have a blast, and the cookies always come out looking wonderfully homemade. 

To me, cookie baking embodies everything I love about Christmas: kids, family, baking, and yummy desserts.



GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH
Makes about 6 Dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
1 egg at room temperature
½ cup unsulphured molasses


1.     Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, backing soda, and salt.

2.     Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.

3.     On low speed, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

4.     Cut the dough into thirds, pat into disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm – 2 hours or overnight.

5.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/16 inch thick and cut cookies with cookie cutters.  Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie turn brown.

6.     Let cool on sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.  Decorate with royal icing.

ROYAL ICING

2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup water


Using a mixer, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until fluffy, thick & shiny (about 10 minutes.)  Divide the icing into smaller bowls and color it using food coloring. 






***   ARC provided by the author for an honest review  ***

 A Christmas Bride is the first book in the Chapel of Love Series by Hope Ramsay.

Willow Petersen has just returned home after having been away for years. She spent her whole life just waiting for the opportunity to get away from the small town that she grew up in. Now, having returned after having an unsuccessful situation in her job, she is determined to be able to go home and make something of herself.

David Lyndon is a member of the upper crust. He is currently mourning the death of his wife who passed away two years ago. He still wears the ring that she gave him. He is raising his daughter with the help of his mother-in-law and his own family. Christmas is a very bad time for him because of the anniversary of his wife’s death.

Willow and David share a connection with his deceased wife. They were all friends and grew up in the same small town.

With Willow’s return, they begin to notice an attraction between the two of them. Both of them try to fight this reaction, but it is a thing that will not be won over. There is concern on both sides as to how David’s child will feel with the change. Also, David is running for public office and the trouble that made Willow leave her previous job is following her no matter where she goes.

Will they be able to overcome the instances that are trying to keep them apart? Or will they drift apart because they are too difficult to overcome?

I would give this book four stars.

Reviewed by: Nicole W





Find out more about Hope Ramsay at her website.


OLIVIA MILES SNOWFLAKE COOKIES

In my newest release, CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET, my heroine owns a cookie bakery. As this story takes place over the holidays, I thought hard about a signature cookie she might make, and eventually I settled on charming snowflake cookies. Of course these are not just any old cut out cookie, though. No, Kara makes them by the dozen, sure to keep each one in the batch distinct in shape and decoration, because no two snowflakes are ever the same, after all! And it’s these snowflake cookies that she delivers every day to the inn in Briar Creek…where a Christmas visitor falls in love with more than just her cookies.
I hope you all enjoy these snowflake cookies as much as Nate does! J


KARA’S SNOWFLAKE COOKIES 

(sugar cookie cut-out and royal icing recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1.     Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
2.     Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
3.     Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
4.     Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

ROYAL ICING
2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
Juice of 1 lemon
3 drops glycerin

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Decorate each as you wish!



***   ARC provided by the author for an honest review  ***

 Christmas Comes to Main Street is the fifth book in the Briar Creek series by Olivia Miles.

Kara Hastings owns a bakery in her small town. She opened shop just before the Christmas holiday and she is very, very busy. So busy in fact that she has almost no time for herself whatsoever. She is struggling because she is not only the owner, but the baker, the seller, and the deliverer for her small business. Things are taking its toll because it is the Christmas holiday time and sales are booming. She has many different cookies that she makes but she is also expanding with gingerbread houses and kits. She is fighting to prove that though in the past she has been a little flaky, she is determined to prove that she can make her business work.

Nate Griffin is a lawyer from Boston. He has come to visit his aunt while on vacation for Christmas. He sent his parents on a trip and promised them that he would go to visit her so that she wouldn’t be alone for the holiday. His aunt owns an inn that is very busy during the winter, because of the local ski resort that is near the inn. Nate has a hard time during that holidays because of his past. He grew up poor and learned early on that nothing is promised.

They meet by accident. Nate bumps into Kara and destroys her delivery for his aunt. They then meet again when she finally comes around to deliver her package. Kara does not like Nate because of his superior attitude. And Nate misunderstands a conversation, and believes that she comes from money. He does not feel that they can overcome that belief.

Will they be able to give each other a chance? Or will they allow for their current misunderstandings to be the end of the beginning.

I would give this book four stars.

Reviewed by: Nicole W.





Find out more about Olivia Miles at her website.