Baking · Blog · Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance · Favourite Books · Reading · Recipes

12 Days of Holiday Romance Reviews and Recipes, Day 3: Wrapped by Rebekah Weatherspoon

37645241 I’m sorry to say I only just discovered Rebekah Weatherspoon’s wonderful, wonderful novels. I read Fit after hearing her interview on When in Romance and LOVED IT. I was hoping this book would be such as replete with steamy sex, hot, sensitive heroes and badass heroines, and it did not disappoint.

Shae Kenny isn’t looking for love when she finds her old colleague Aidan on an online dating app, but that’s exactly what she gets. Aidan is sweet, sensitive, and insanely hot, and even better, he’s been crushing on Shae for years, ever since they worked together and she would bring her homemade confectionary creations into the office.

Now, Shae runs her own bakery, and Aidan starts popping in every few days after their first date. Before long, they’re in love, but Shae is terrified. How can she be with Aidan when she’s still feeling the effects of her divorce? Thankfully, Aidan’s a fighter, and he’s not willing to let the sexiest, smartest, hottest baker he’s ever met go.

5 stars

This book. This book was amazing. Rebekah Weatherspoon is hands-down one of the best contemporary romance authors out there right now. I honestly wouldn’t even be upset if you stopped reading this review and just went straight to Amazon and bought her entire catalogue.

However, if you’re still reading, let me tell you why I loved this book. It’s partly because Shae is a baker, and I love baking; it’s partly because Shae has amazing friends, and I’m a sucker for a romance with strong female friendships; and it’s partly because Aidan is the OG of sensitive heroes who are also ace in the bedroom and will shout their woman’s amazingness from the rooftops.

The relationship between Shae and Aidan builds so believably and so sweetly, and you can almost feel his love for her radiating off the page. There’s also a hot bit between them with some sexy photos that is dealt with the sexiest of consensual conversations. Most importantly, however, their first date is the most perfect first date I’ve ever read. They pick out a Christmas tree, buy ornaments, then go home to order takeout and watch Netflix. IDEAL.

While Shae was a great character, Aidan was my favourite. He’s just so inherently good. He fights for Shae when she has an attack of low confidence and second-guessing herself, works with her friends to see her, and he tells her he’ll always listen to her, including when she needs to vent about her husband. Aidan is the hero we all need, and I thank Rebekah Weatherspoon from the bottom of my ginger soul for creating him and reminding me and my fellow readers that good men exist in literature and in the world.

Shae is a fantastic baker, and at once point she makes Aidan the dessert he most missed while they were apart: her caramel crunch brownies. I’ve adapted a recipe from GoodHouskeeping for the ooiest, gooiest brownies topped with caramel. They’re decadent, perfect for a holiday party or just a rainy winter afternoon.

Vegan Caramel Brownies
makes about 10 slices


For the brownies
125 ml vegetable oil
200 g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly chopped
250 ml unsweetened almond or soya milk
200 g plain flour
50 g cocoa powder
100 g dark brown muscovado sugar
75 g golden caster sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

For the caramel
75 g dark brown muscovado sugar
125 ml coconut milk

1/2 tbsp custard powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F. Grease a 20.5cm (8 inch) round cake tin with some vegetable oil or line with parchment paper.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl and place it over a small pan of gently simmering water. Allow to melt, then remove from the heat. Whisk in the oil and almond milk.
  3. In a large standing mixer, combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugars, baking powder and salt. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture until fully combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin. Bake in the oven for 20-25min until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean or with a few wet crumbs. Pour the caramel over the top and wait 20 minutes for it to set before cutting. Then, DEVOUR.


  1. Spread the sugar over the base of a non-stick frying pan and stir in 1 tablespoon of water. Pat the sugar and water together until the mixture covers the pan.
  2. Heat over a medium heat until melted, then mix in the coconut milk and custard powder and whisk, turning up the heat to boiling then down to simmer. Continue whisking until the caramel thickens, then take off the heat.




Baking · Blog · Book Reviews · Historical Romance · Reading · Recipes

12 Days of Holiday Romance Reviews and Recipes, Day 2: I Will by Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas is definitely one of the authors I turn to when I need a good historical romance. She’s actually one of the first romance authors I read, and she’s remained a firm favourite. I Will, however, was a bit of a disappointment. The hero was a jerk, there was a noticeable lack of consent, and it just didn’t fill me with the squee that a normal holiday historical does.


Andrew, aka Lord Drake, is about to be cut out of his father’s will so he needs to find a lady who can save his reputation by pretending to be his betrothed. Miss Caroline Hargreaves fits the bill perfectly—a noted spinster, her brother is also deeply in debt, and Andrew is willing to forgive those debts if Carolina agrees to help him. But of course, drama ensues, which tears the budding lovers apart before throwing them back together again, where they realize that they’re both pretty attractive and live HEA, much to my disappointment because they’re both not great humans.

2.5 stars

First of all, I wouldn’t really class it as a Christmas romance, since more than half the book takes place in the spring/summer/fall. I actually got a bit confused part of the way through, thinking that maybe I’d downloaded the wrong book, when I read mentions of cool spring breezes and roses. Surely that can’t be just seasonal confusion? But no, Goodreads confirmed that this is a “Christmas novella.”

This book contains one of my favourite tropes: forced proximity. Give me two people who are forced to spend inordinate amounts of time together and, in the process, fall slowly in like/lust/love, and I’m a happy woman. However, what I thought was going to be a weekend holiday party replete with kissing in the corner and perhaps a sneaky session in the guest bedroom turned out to be completely bereft of any sexy times except for a stomach-churning nonconsensual scene. It isn’t even clear if the characters really like each other until about 75% of the way through the book, which means I didn’t fully believe the HEA.

The hero, Lord Drake, also seems like an irredeemable asshole for most of the book. He’s the main reason why Caroline’s brother, Cade, is in debt up to his eyeballs, because Drake keeps carting him to every gaming hell in town and, as he says, “I don’t give a damn who gets dragged down with me.” I’m all for a grumpy alpha male who ends up having feels, but no matter what, they have to treat their friends well. I can’t sympathize with a hero who doesn’t value his friendships.

My main issue with the novella, however, came during the rape scene (no way am I calling that nonconsensual bullshit a sex scene). Caroline makes it very clear that she plans to seduce Lord Drake no matter what. She says “I am going to make love to you, right now, on this bed, while you are helpless to prevent it.” This is not consensual! Sure, Drake gets into it and the sex becomes consensual, but Caroline’s intentions don’t start out that way. She plans to take advantage of him until he tells her what she wants to her, and It’s 2018. Consent in romance is mandatory.

Other than that huge, glaring issue, the main problem with this book is that it’s just a bit boring. Not much happens until the very end, and that non-consensual drama puts a downer on any expectations readers might have that things might start getting juicy, romantic, and real. There are so many good Christmas romance novels out there, so save yourself the time and money, and go read one of them and give this one a miss.

To cheer myself up after this face-palm of a book, I made the Vegan Gingerbread People from BBCGoodFood, because gingerbread people are warm, comforting, and, I like to think, would never try to have non-consensual sex with each other for their own personal gains. Below is my adapted recipe. Bake them, decorate them, and have wonderful daydreams of happy historicals.

Vegan Gingerbread Shapes
adapted from BBCGoodFood

Makes 50 small shapes, 25 large ones

For the cookies:
1 flax egg
400g plain flour (1 and 2/3 cup) plus extra for dusting
200 g vegan butter (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200 g dark muscovado sugar (about 1 cup)
50 g agave nectar, honey (if not vegan) or maple syrup (about 1/3 cup)
100 ml soy milk (about 1/2 cup)

For the icing:
3 cups icing sugar
6 tablespoons water
food colouring as needed

1. Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F. In a large bowl, rub together the flour and butter until it resembles crumbs. Add the spices and whisk to combine.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, agave, milk and flax egg and pour over the flour mixture.
3. Using your hands, knead the dough until it comes together. It will be smooth and buttery.
4. Scatter some flour on a clean surface and roll the dough out. It will be very sticky, so dust flour on the rolling pin and on top of the dough to ease the rolling process. Cut out shapes and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until just starting to brown around the edges.
5. Once the cookies have completely cooled, clean your work surface to prepare for the fun part: icing! Mix the icing and set aside a few bowls. Add a few tablespoons of icing into each, then add droplets of food colouring until you’ve achieved your desired colours. Using a piping bag or knife, spread the icing onto the cookies. They’ll be dry but still tacky in 10 minutes. Eat, and enjoy! These keep for about 4 days in a sealed cookie tin.



Baking · Blog · Book Reviews · Contemporary Romance · Recipes

12 Days of Holiday Romances and Recipes, Day 1: The Best Worst Holiday Party Ever by Olivia Waite

27503662To kick off this fest of love and good food, I chose Olivia Waite’s The Best Worst Holiday Party Ever. I initially heard about the book on Twitter and it sounded way too good to pass up, plus, Olivia Waite is a new author to me, and I wanted to sample some of her work.


Isobel is a passionate wine aficionado working her way toward a Sommelier qualification. Her jerky friend Owen invites her to a holiday as a guest—or so she thinks. But when Isobel shows up and Owen directs her to the kitchen, she realizes that she’s been invited not to enjoy the party splendour, but to serve the guests. Thankfully, she meets Owen, a hot accountant and amateur piano player she has a brief rendezvous in the cellar with. They bond over their shared hatred of Ernest, Isobel’s asshole friend and Owen’s boss, and by the end of the night, they’re smitten.

4.5 stars

I really liked this book. Novellas that are this short often leave much to be desired in the way of plot, but this supplied enough background to get to know the characters as well as a believable progression in their relationship to where I could absolutely believe in their attraction to each other. I was left wanting more, but that happens with pretty much every novella I read. I’d highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a short, sweet novella to get you in the holiday mood.

I also loved the little details that the author included in the book. The chapter titles were inspired by music, a nod to Owen’s piano playing, and wine knowledge was littered throughout.

Olivia Waite is a talented author, and I can’t wait to read more of her books. If she wanted to do a sequel to The Best Worst Holiday Party Ever that shows us where Isobel and Owen are now, I also wouldn’t mind.

The back of the book features a delectable mulled wine recipe, so I decided to craft some cookies to go along with it. The microwave version of the mulled wine recipe and cookie recipe are both printed below.

Swedish Pepparkakor
Makes about 20



60g (about 1/4 cup) vegan butter
75g (about 1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tbsp black treacle
2-4 tbsp almond or soya milk
225g (1-3/4 cup) plain flour
½ tsp baking soda

  1. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Add the spices, black treacle and orange zest and combine, then add in the soya milk.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Slowly add it to the wet mixture until mostly combined, then turn the power off and knead the mixture by hand until completely mixed, adding a dash more soya milk if needed, but be sure not to make it too sticky.
  3. Refrigerate the dough covered in plastic wrap for an hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease two cookie sheets. Roll out the dough until thin and then, using a rounded drinking glass dipped in flour, cut out circles from the dough. Bake one inch apart for 12 minutes. The cookies will harden as they cool.


Isobel’s Mulled Wine
Makes enough for 2 people

1 bottle red wine, not too fancy
1/2 lime, sliced into wedges
2 whole sticks cinnamon
splash of elderflower or other sweet liqueur
plenty of honey, nutmeg and spices to taste
anything else you think might be delicious

1. Fill two mugs two-thirds full with wine. Add other ingredients and stir until well blended. Heat on high for two minutes or until steaming. Let cool, remove lime wedges, and enjoy



Baking · Blog · Book Reviews · Reading

12 Days of Holiday Romance Reviews and Recipes coming soon!


This holiday season, I’ve decided to celebrate by combining my two favourite activities, reading romance and baking, into one super 12-day challenge. From December 10th to the 21st, each day I’ll review a holiday romance and share a scrummy sweet recipe. I’ve carefully chosen the books to cover a broad range of romance sub-genres, including historical, sports romance, alpha male, Western, and small town. I’ll be reviewing works both from authors I know and love and new ones I’ve never read before. The recipes I share will go along with the books, either directly inspired by food eaten by the book characters or goodies I think would go well with a reading of the book itself. Come join me for this festive challenge, and check back in on December 10th for my first review and recipe!

Book Reviews · Cookbook

Cookbook Review: More With Less


I have * a bit of * an obsession with cookbooks. I love reading them, buying them, checking them out from the library- and recently, I’ve started to really enjoy reviewing them. I received a digital advanced ready copy of More with Less by Jodi Moreno a few months ago, and I’m delighted to say that it’s a brilliant addition to my cookbook collection.

Jodi’s cooking is mostly plant-based, though she does use the occasional egg, pat of butter or dollop of yoghurt. Her recipes are innovative but simple- most can be on the table within 30 minutes, and very few contain ingredients you wouldn’t be able to source at a local grocery store.

Her cookbook is organised by a mix of meals and ingredients, which I initially found a bit odd, but it makes sense for the purposes of this book. There are chapters for breakfast, soup, salad, nibbles and snacks, veggie entrees, fish, and dessert. I obviously skipped over the fish section, and none of the desserts got me all that excited, but I’ve already marked loads of recipes from the breakfast and soup sections.

Some of the recipes don’t have serving sizes, which might have just been a result of my having a digital copy, but was still frustrating, because I am a firm believer in meal planning, and it’s difficult to do that if you have no idea how many people a recipe serves.


For the purposes of this review, I cooked 3 of the recipes from the book:

  • Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots
  • Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise
  • Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats

Below are my thoughts on how they turned out.

Curried Sweet Potato and Yellow Split Pea Stew with Crispy Shallots

I love making a big pot of soup for lunches, and I’m always looking for more lentil recipes, so I thought this recipe would be perfect to try out. Roasting and then mashing the sweet potatoes is a bit of a faff, but other than that it’s an easy one-pot meal. Sadly, however, it was pretty flavourless. I had to add more lemon juice, more salt, more curry powder, plus some turmeric and garlic powder to make this palatable. Curries only work if there’s a real complex depth of flavour, and this just didn’t have that.

Hot Chocolate with Tahini and Cinnamon and Star Anise


This is my new go-to hot chocolate recipe. I was very sceptical about mixing tahini and chocolate together– despite tahini’s status as the newest ‘hot’ ingredient, I still think of it mostly as an ingredient for hummus, but oh ye of little faith. This drink was THE BOMB. Perfectly rich, thick, and, because the tahini I bought from Lidl had honey added, it was also just sweet enough. If you can’t find tahini with honey added (which is likely, since this is the first time I’ve ever seen it), I’d suggest adding a teaspoon (or four) of agave nectar to this to balance out the dark chocolate and the savouriness of the tahini.

Coconut and Ginger and Turmeric Oats


Again, I was sceptical about this one. Turmeric and oats? Um… I’ll happily guzzle all the turmeric lattes and golden milk you can give me, but I’m picky about my oats. But again, I shouldn’t have worried! This dish was so warm and comforting. I made it on a snowy weekend morning, and it was the perfect thing to curl up with. The turmeric and ginger added a subtle spice, and the coconut milk made the oats even more filling and moreish.


All in all, I’d recommend this cookbook. More with Less by Jodi Moreno is a great cookbook if you’re looking for innovative, easy meals, and it’s also a great read if you’re looking for some cooking inspiration. The gorgeous photographs and simple recipes make it well worth a purchase.

The book comes out tomorrow, April 24, so order now!





Book Reviews · Historical Romance

Book Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

My Once and Future Duke Blog Tour Banner 1000

You know what I love about blog tours? They introduce me to authors I’ve been meaning to read for ages, and then make me fall so in love with their books that I immediately try to check out their entire back catalogue from the library (thankfully, it’s a digital library, so my bookshelves aren’t bowing under all the weight).

This is EXACTLY what happened with Caroline Linden’s newest historical romance. Scroll on for the book info, a juicy excerpt, author information, and of course, my review!

Book Info.

My Once And Future Duke by Caroline Linden

Series The Wagers of Sin

Genre Adult Historical Romance

Publisher Avon Books

Publication Date February 27, 2018


Avon Romance

Barnes & Noble

Google Play




“Why did you propose that wager?”

He leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and looked down at her. His golden hair was rumpled into waves that made her long to smooth it. “Haven’t you guessed?”

She angled her face toward him. “Tell me. I’m no good at guessing.”

He let out his breath, his eyes shadowed, and then he bent and kissed her. His mouth was soft against hers, a gentle hint of a kiss rather than a real one. A soft sound of pleasure hummed in her throat.

The duke lifted his head. For a moment they stared at each other. “Is that all?” Sophie whispered, belatedly realizing how her heart was thudding. “All you want?”

“No.” He traced one finger, as lightly as a feather, down her throat. A shiver rippled over her skin. “Not by a tenth.”

“Show me,” she whispered. “Please.”


ReviewMy Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

4.0 stars

This book had all my catnip: forced proximity; grumpy, sexy dukes; sexually experienced heroines with life goals they’re steadily working toward; and strong female friendships. I love that Sophie picks herself up by her metaphorical bootstraps despite life throwing her like 10 curveballs and that she does it with the support of two of her best friends. I also love that Jack’s family life is a little complicated, but he tries to navigate it with an equal amount of respect for his mother and brother, and himself.

I also LOVED the gambling scenes. Linden did such an amazing job setting the scene that it felt like I was there, watching Sophie roll the dice and wow everyone around her with her ‘luck’ (aka extreme maths skills). I just wish that she and Jack could have had sex in one of the lush, velvet-filled rooms in the club, because this book did not have enough sex scenes in it, especially given that the characters were so sexually attracted to each other. Yes, there are some amazing scenes of them at the Duke’s castle, where the forced proximity makes them realise that ‘oh, wait a minute, you’re, like, really really hot?’, but I would have loved even more scenes of them once they got back to London and realised they still couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

The conflict was perfect in this book. Not overly dramatic, fits in perfectly with the characters and plot, and had me biting my nails through the whole thing, even though I knew the HEA was just up ahead.

Other than the dearth of sexytimes, my only real criticism for this book is the lack of explanation of Jack’s relationship with his ex-sweetheart, Portia. Linden never really makes any connection between Portia’s ill-treatment of Jack and Jack’s relationship with Sophie, which seems the only real point of mentioning Portia in the first place. Her effect on Jack’s life is, thereforem unclear.

This book, however, was still pretty great. I’ve been really struggling to find historicals that really draw me in and make me want to keep turning the pages way after the lights have gone out, and this book definitely gave me that. Read it for the insane sexual attraction between the characters, the family drama, the friendships, the strong female heroine- basically, just read it!


Author Info.Caroline Linden

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series three times, which is not related but still worth mentioning. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have won the NEC-RWA Reader’s Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the NJRW Golden Leaf Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. She lives in New England.



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Blog · Book Reviews · Historical Romance

Book Review: The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke

Laura Lee Guhrke will always hold a special place in my heart. I read Guilty Pleasures by her during that first fateful summer when I began reading romance. I remember reading this book on my Kindle on a warm summer day in early July, sitting under a willow tree and devouring chapter after chapter. Don’t you love book memories?

Now on to the juicy stuff!

Book Synopsis

Dear Lady Truelove, I am a girl of noble family, but I am painfully shy, especially in my encounters with those of the opposite sex . . .

For Clara Deverill, standing in for the real Lady Truelove means dispensing advice on problems she herself has never managed to overcome. There’s nothing for it but to retreat to a tearoom and hope inspiration strikes between scones. It doesn’t—until Clara overhears a rake waxing eloquent on the art of “honourable” jilting. The cad may look like an Adonis, but he’s about to find himself on the wrong side of Lady Truelove.

Rex Galbraith is an heir with no plans to produce a spare. He flirts with the minimum number of eligible young ladies to humour his matchmaking aunt, but Clara is the first to ever catch his roving eye. When he realizes that Clara—as Lady Truelove—has used his advice as newspaper fodder, he’s infuriated. But when he’s forced into a secret alliance with her, he realizes he’s got a much bigger problem—because Clara is upending everything Rex thought he knew about women—and about himself. . .

Book Info.35068598

The Trouble With True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: none (standalone)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: January 30, 2018

To preface this review, this week has been INSANE. Like 3 other book reviews, 6 freelance articles, plus 40 hours of normal work kind of insane. So I haven’t finished this book yet. I have, however, enjoyed 157 pages of it, and from that, I can tell you that this is a book you should go read ASAP.

The chemistry between Clara and Rex is crazy-hot and palpable, and I was rooting for their HEA from the moment they first touched while dancing in the ballroom. Rex’s character is so intriguing- he’s not the normal rake we see so often in romance. Sure, he’s sexy as hell, but he’s also generous, sensitive, and has a normal amount of emotional depth (compared to so many other historical heroes whose only two emotions seem to be: growly anger and get-in-my-pants lust). Clara is shy but fierce, and I love that she comes to life with Rex, giving him all the sass he deserves.

Despite my love of historical romance, I’ll admit to not exploring many historical romance eras outside of the regency. But after seeing how dramatic and gripping the 20th century can be with the right writer, I’m definitely going to explore more of this sub-genre. Plus, you know, the skirts are less poofy in that era, so it’s way easier to get down to business.

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