Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

To celebrate summer and the forthcoming release of my latest novella, Sarah Sunshine, my good friend and fellow writer, Nancy Goodman, has invited me to join this Tasty Recipe Tour!  I’ve answered some questions and included my favorite summer recipe – my own creation: blueberry, almond, kale chicken salad – below.

Sarah Sunshine cover_smallBut first, a little taste of Sarah Sunshine:

After five years working at the saloon, Sarah Withers is a free woman. The shame of her past is behind her and nothing but blue skies lie ahead. But when her plans to become a respectable woman collapse under the weight of old wounds and fresh battles, her worst fears seem realized. The joy of her life and light of her heart, Roy, couldn’t possibly love a fallen woman like her.

Roy LaCroix’s future seems made. Delilah Reynolds has made him manager of her new hotel. The only thing he needs to fill his days with sunshine is Sarah. But dark clouds line the horizon when Sarah stumbles into a twenty-year-old feud as it breaks hearts in the present. Roy must stay true to himself and his love for Sarah to stop a bitter past from repeating itself before it’s too late.

Now for the Random Tasty Questions:

1) When writing are you a snacker? If so sweet or salty? Well, when I’m writing at home I usually don’t snack, but I do keep a glass of water on hand. (It can get hot in those romance novels!) When I write at my “weekend office”, Panera Bread, I usually have hazelnut coffee with a shot of chocolate and extra cream, and either a shortbread cookie or, if I’m feeling particularly naughty, a bear claw. So it’s sweet for me all the way!

2) Are you an outliner or someone who writes by the seat of their pants? And are they real pants or jammies? These days I would say I’m a “plantser”. I used to be a pantser, but in the last few years, since I’ve knuckled down and determined that this will be my career and not a hobby, I’ve found that a little bit of planning goes a long, long way. I tend to write a lot of notes about what I’m going to write, what the character’s motivations are, what the conflict will be, what the next scene will entail, and any problems I foresee. It’s not the same as full-on plotting, but it’s exceedingly helpful to organize my brain!

And when I write in the morning, I write in my jammies (pre-shower, glasses instead of contacts, no underwear). At Panera Bread I write fully dressed. I don’t think they would appreciate the other version of me.

3) When cooking, do you follow a recipe or do you wing it? It depends on whether I’ve made the recipe before or whether I’m engaged in what I call “experimental cooking”. Once I discover something I like or find a way of cooking something that works, I stick to it like glue. Before then, it’s whatever strikes my fancy!

4) What is next for you after this book? Sarah Sunshine is technically Montana Romance 2.5. I’ve already (barely) started writing the third book in the series, In Your Arms, which is Christian Avery and Lily Singer’s story. It’s already giving me a hard time because both Christian and Lily are stubborn, strong-willed, fierce people … who desperately want to be loved underneath it all. They’re at loggerheads with each other over issues at the new school in Cold Springs, so sparks fly in more ways than one! After that I’ve got one more novella in the series, The Indomitable Eve, and the final full-length novel in the series, Somebody to Love, which will be an m/m romance featuring Phineas Bell. Whew! So much to do!

5) Last question…on a level of one being slightly naughty and ten being whoo hoo steamy, how would you rate your book? Sarah Sunshine is kind of a “someone needs to turn on the AC” 6, but I’ve aimed for at least a 7 or an 8 for most of the Montana Romance series.

And now for the tasty recipe part:

Merry’s Amazing Blueberry, Almond, Kale Chicken Salad


This isn't my picture, but it sure looks a LOT like my chicken salad!

This isn’t my picture, but it sure looks a LOT like my chicken salad!

All amounts are variable according to your taste. I add a little more or a little less of each of the key ingredients depending on how much I have of each.

In a bowl, combine:

Chicken chunks
Kale stalks and a few of the smaller leaves, chopped
Chopped red onion
Roasted, salted almonds

Stir it all together and enjoy! Sometimes I leave the almonds out until right as I’m serving it so that they maintain their crispness.

And now for a bigger excerpt of Sarah Sunshine, coming August 24th to an eBook store near you!

“Sarah, sweetie, these folks bothering you?” Mr. Sutcliffe turned his frown on Roy.

“Oh no, Mr. Sutcliffe,” she rushed to defend him, “not at all. Mrs. Reynolds was just saying hello. And Roy asked to take me on a picnic.”

Mrs. Reynolds stood a little straighter, the twitch back in her grin. Mr. Sutcliffe crossed his arms and spit into the dirt in the alley between the two porches.

“You can’t go on any picnic, darling, you’re due at the boarding house at noon,” he told her.

“Yes, sir, I know.” She nodded dutifully. “That’s what I told him too. But I got some time tomorrow and I’d like to go on a picnic then, if you think it’s all right.”

“Hmm,” Mr. Sutcliffe grunted. “We’ll see.”

“Don’t be a dunderhead, Paul,” Mrs. Reynolds snapped. “If Sarah wants to go on a picnic with Roy, well, they’re both grown up and it’s not any of your business now, is it?”

Mr. Sutcliffe fixed Mrs. Reynolds with a stare that would have made Sarah wither in her shoes. “Sarah will always be my business,” he told Mrs. Reynolds. “Her contract may be up, but she means more to me than that. She needs someone looking out for her.”

“And that someone is you?” Mrs. Reynolds arched an eyebrow.

“Well it sure as hell isn’t that milksop bellhop of yours!”

“Now looky here, Mr. Sutcliffe.” Roy jerked straighter.

“Don’t you go bullying my staff.” Mrs. Reynolds shook her finger at Mr. Sutcliffe.

“Please don’t cause a fuss,” Sarah gasped, stomach twisting at the raised voices.

“Sorry, honey.” Delilah backed off with an apologetic smile. “What I meant to say was, Roy’s a bright, enterprising young man with a good future in front of him. He’ll be managing my new hotel when it opens in a few weeks, so I would appreciate it if you would be polite.”

“Polite, huh?” Mr. Sutcliffe snorted.

“Polite is nice, isn’t it?” Sarah said, glancing hopefully between the others.

“Why, I certainly think so.” Roy smiled and Sarah’s racing heart skipped a beat.

Mr. Sutcliffe narrowed his eyes.

“Oh get off your high horse, Paul,” Mrs. Reynolds scolded him. “Even the sweetest chicks leave the nest at some point. Besides, Roy reminds me of someone else I knew at that age.” Mrs. Reynolds finished by arching an eyebrow and planting her fists on her hips.

“Is that so?” Mr. Sutcliffe grunted. “You do know where he comes to spend all that money you pay him to haul bags around, don’t you?”

“Same place you went to spend your money, if I recall correctly,” Mrs. Reynolds finished, a sly grin on her painted lips. She turned to Sarah. “You shoulda seen the way he pouted twenty years ago when my contract was up!”

“It was because you raised your prices,” Mr. Sutcliffe drawled.

“I did what any self-respecting woman woulda done under the circumstances.”

An icy silence followed. Sarah snuck a peek at Roy. He met her eyes with as much bafflement as she felt.

“I been saving my money too.” Roy broke the tension. “I been saving a little bit out of each paycheck over at Mr. Bell’s bank. Reckon it’ll be time to settle down and start a family before too long.”

“A family?” Butterflies danced in Sarah’s stomach.

“Yes, indeed.” Roy’s eyebrow gave the barest of flickers.

Mr. Sutcliffe huffed. “I’ll believe that when I see it!”

“Now what’s that supposed to mean?” Mrs. Reynolds demanded.

Instead of answering her, Mr. Sutcliffe turned to Sarah. “Sweetheart, don’t you go trusting any of them shifty, hotel-types. They love ambition more than they ever loved anyone else.”


“Paul, don’t go confusing the poor child,” Mrs. Reynolds sighed.

“Yeah!” Roy piped in. “Some hotel-types are far more interested in things besides ambition.”
Mr. Sutcliffe snorted.

“You made your choices all them years ago just like I did,” Mrs. Reynolds added. ….

There you go! I hope you’ll keep checking back for more peeks. Remember, August 24th!


I believe I’m supposed to tag a few of my fellow bloggers to join the blog hop.  I always feel awkward about that, so this is my open invitation to you!  If this idea strikes your fancy, consider yourself tagged by me!  Blog away by answering the questions above and including your favorite summer recipe.