Merry Christmas

 

The holidays bring out the best—and sometimes the worst—in us. Sometimes it’s our families who bring out the best and worst of us, too. And sometimes the people who make up your family aren’t related by
blood.

The following novel and six stories show the best and the worst of people at the holidays. I hope they are as entertaining for you to read as they were for me to write!


From the Victoria Square Mysteries
Yule Be Dead

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found near Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Chapters | Book Depository

Kindle US | Kindle AU | Kindle UK | Kindle other countries

Nook | Apple Books

Kobo USKobo UK | Kobo AU | Kobo NZ | Kobo SA

Katie bakes holiday treats for her friends at Artisans Alley and the merchants on Victoria Square.  Here’s her sugar cookie recipe that she uses for cut-outs.

Katie’s Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
1½ cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill the dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200ºC, Gas Mark 6). Roll out the dough on a floured surface ¼ to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes with any shape cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased baking trays. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Yield: approximately 60 cookies


 

From the Lotus Bay Mysteries
Christmas At Swans Nest

The holidays are fast approaching, and Kathy Grant is hard at work on the renovations of her soon-to-be bed and breakfast. An unexpected winter storm disrupts her friends’ plans, and it looks like her B&B will have to open a little early. And then there are the cryptic notes that hint of a treasure to be found somewhere in the house. Will Kathy and her friends find a cache of cash?

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

Read more about the series. Click here!

Kathy Grant was a born baker, and she’s been collecting recipes like crazy prior to the opening of the Swans Nest Inn. Here’s one she’ll be serving every holiday season.

Kathy’s Shortbread
Ingredients
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
More granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, Gas Mark 5). Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth. Stir in the flour to get a smooth dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is ½-inch thick. Cut into rounds or fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick evenly with a fork. Sprinkle with more sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 20-24 pieces


From the Tales of Blythe Cove Manor series
An Unexpected Visitor

All is quiet at Blythe Cove Manor as its proprietress, Blythe Calvert, anticipates a peaceful holiday along with her cat, Martha. But then a taxi pulls up and drops off a troubled, runaway teen looking for a safe haven. Can the magic of Blythe Cove Manor heal this young girl’s aching heart?

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

Read more about the series. Click here!

Blythe Calvert uses her Aga cooker to bake all the goodies at Blythe Cove Manor. Here’s one of her favorite holiday recipes …

Cherry Chocolate Kisses
Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, softened, but still cool
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons maraschino cherry “juice”
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup maraschino cherries, chopped
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling the cookies
36 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy—about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and salt. Add the cherry juice and the almond extract until combined. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Increase the mixer speed to medium and add the cherries. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet, approximately 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, gently press each cookie in its center until the cookie is about  ½-inch thick. Sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar. Bake the cookies until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Once removed from the oven, immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie’s center. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: approximately 36 cookies


 

From the Jeff Resnick Mysteries
Bah! Humbug

It’s Christmas Day, and Richard and Brenda are off to warmer climes, leaving Jeff and Maggie to spend Christmas dinner with Maggie’s family. But the Brennan clan has not rolled out the welcome mat for Jeff. It’ll be a Christmas to remember . . . but who wants to? (This story immediately follows the novel Cheated by Death.)

 

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

Read more about the series. Click here!

No doubt about it.  It’s a rough Christmas for Jeff. So much so, that he has opened none of his gifts.


 

Blue Christmas

Christmas used to be a joyous time for Judi Straub, but that was before her parents passed away and her siblings became too busy to socialize with their old maid sister. Holidays spent with friends were a nightmare. Then one late December Judi wins an all-expense-paid trip to Puerto Rico where Harry Powell sweeps her off her feet.  Still, her fantasy of happily-ever-after is quickly derailed, but perhaps this Christmas will offer her one more magic moment.

 

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

 

Join Judi for a margarita!
Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces  tequila
3/4 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wedge, coarse (kosher) salt

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with the lime and salt. Shake the remaining ingredients with ice and strain into glass. Serve in a classic margarita cocktail glass.


We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert

The Nichols family is all in a tizzy when it’s discovered their penny-pinching Uncle Albert is worth millions. They decide the old man has overstayed his worldly welcome, but can they bump him off and get away with it?

 

Kindle US | Kindle Worldwide | Nook | Apple Books | Kobo

 

The Nichols Family has a weakness for sweets. Try …

Mandy’s Chocolate Whiskey Truffles
Ingredients
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
3 tablespoons whiskey
1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1⁄3 cup icing sugar
chocolate or other sprinkles, chopped walnuts or pecans optional

Melt the chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Mix in crushed cookies and whiskey. Pour into a bowl, cover and chill about 45 minutes. Line a cookie sheet with foil and drop truffle mixture by tablespoon, spacing apart Freeze 15 minutes. Sift cocoa and 1/3 cup sugar together. Roll each truffle in the sugar and/or other optional ingredients. Place in air tight container and refrigerate. Can be made up to a week before serving. Let stand at room temp for 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 24 truffles


Get the short stories on audio, too!

Narrated by Anna Riley and Steven Barnett

Audible US  |  Audible UK

Amazon USAmazon UK

iTunes

 


hit counter