Win romance and chocolate for the soul!

Choclit giveaway 3We have one copy of Romancing the Soul by Sarah Tranter and a delicious box of chocolates to give away to one lucky reader. To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following question:

If you could choose your past life, who (or what) would you have been and why?

Leave your lovely comments below. Competition closes at 12pm on Wednesday 5th February.

Your Soul Mate is out there! Let a past life lead the way
Rachael Jones hasn’t exactly chosen an average career path. She’s a ‘past-life regressionist’ and is now hoping to help her clients find their Soul Mates through reconnecting them with their past lives. But despite her best intentions, there are problems. Rachael made the mistake of regressing her best friend, Susie Morris, who has since been haunted by events that occurred in her past life.
When Susie meets Hollywood actor, George Silbury in unlikely circumstances, she is completely unprepared for her reactions. There’s an intense mutual attraction that neither can explain nor ignore.
Can George help Susie to overcome the sense of desolation she feels as the result of her past-life regression or will history’s habit of repeating itself ruin all chances of her finding happiness?

Scott’s melting heart pudding

Ingredients:

60g sugar – he’d hate you to tell him this, but Scott is sweet.  Of course he prefers hunky, but then he Too Charmingwould.  He’s a guy.

70g dark chocolate – chocolate because like Scott, it’s irresistible.  Once you’ve had a taste, you have to have another.  And another.  Dark chocolate because it has an edge, a bite that makes you sit up and take notice.  Just as Megan notices Scott, though she’s trying hard not to.

1 tablespoons of cocoa powder – because it’s what we use to make a night time drink.  And Scott is a man you’d want to take to bed.

60g butter (not margarine) – it’s smooth, like Scott, but has a rich, robust flavour.  A naughty indulgence.  We might not think it’s good for us, but it’s far more desirable than healthy, but insipid, margarine.

30g plain flour – he might be a flirt, but Scott isn’t full of puff or hot air.  When he tells Megan he finds her sexy, it’s not a line.  It’s the truth.

2 eggs + 1 yolk – eggs give the pudding substance.  An inner strength, which Scott has to rely on when his life is thrown into chaos.

A dash of vanilla essence – because it adds richness and depth.

Raspberries/blueberries/anything striking to serve – because Scott dazzles the eye.

Too Tempting?

Too Tempting?

Melt the butter and dark chocolate and mix to a paste.  Blend in the sugar.  Slowly add the beaten eggs until the mixture is uniform and smooth.  Fold in the flour and cocoa powder carefully and then pour/spoon evenly into greased muffin tins/ramekins.  It will make about 4-6.  Chill in the fridge if you don’t want to use straight away.

To cook:  200oC for 8 minutes or until the outside is firm but the middle soft.

When it’s cooked, the Scott pudding looks dark and smoothly attractive on the outside.  If, like Megan, you’ve burnt your hands on a similar good-looking dish, you might decide not to delve into it.  But imagine the pudding follows you around, tempting you with its delicious looks and decadent smell?  It might not be so hard to ignore, then.  Especially when, after one sneaky but delicious taste, you find there’s far more to the fancy dark pudding than you first imagined.

And voila! Scott's melting heart pudding.

And voila! Scott’s melting heart pudding.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter: @KathrynFreeman1

Too Charming is available on Kindle UK and Kindle US

“… Rabbit …”

easterjulietMore Easter memories from the Choc Lit Authors:-

Juliet – RABBIT LOVE – There have been a number of rabbits in my life, most of them fictional. After having three real ones, courtesy of my children (guess who had to do most of the looking after?), the rabbit I love most is definitely to be found between the covers of a book. I don’t mean Beatrix Potter’s creations, although I do have a soft spot for naughty Peter, Benjamin Bunny, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail.

Instead, my favourite rabbit books are the Little Grey Rabbit series by Alison Uttley, about a compelling ménage à trois of Little Grey Rabbit, Hare and Squirrel (red variety, of course). LGR was the mother figure with obsessive compulsive disorder (always cleaning and tidying), Hare was the stereotypical bad boy (he stole an Easter egg!) and I can’t remember much about Squirrel. Who’s the love of your rabbit life?

easterlizLiz – Thinking about Easter, the first thing that came to my mind was this – my husband and I decided to spend Easter in Italy one year, and we went to Cortona for the Easter weekend.  In the evening, we strolled into the central piazza and found that people were taking their seats for an opera to be performed on a stage that had been constructed at one end of the piazza.  We bought a ticket and we, too, went and sat in one of the rows of wooden chairs that faced the stage. The opera turned out to be the wonderful Cavalleria Rusticana, by Mascagni, a one act opera set in a 19th century Sicilian village on Easter morning.  I was thrilled as it contains one of my all-time favourite choral pieces, The Easter Hymn.  This is one of the most strirring and most moving pieces of music, and if you don’t know it, you have a treat ahead of you if you decide to listen to it.

Just imagine that Easter evening - sitting beneath a slowly darkening sky that was filling with stars, in a piazza lit solely by the lights from the stage, listening to the voices of the Sicilian villagers, along with the seduced Santuzzi, rise to a crescendo in one of the most beautiful melodies ever written. That was an Easter to remember.

easterhenriHenri - As children my sister and I were often given a painted cardboard egg for Easter. Inside were small sugar-coated or foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, and always a little fluffy chick too. After a while we had quite a collection of chicks, some of them very elaborate with their own nests, and we’d spend Easter playing with the chicks (which all had names), making houses for them out of empty cereal boxes and generally allowing our imagination free rein. My favourite scenario was Chickerella who went to the party in her borrowed feathers, despite the Evil Step-Hen forbidding it. Now, what does that remind me of…?

Jane – We’ve owned many rabbits over the years, most made their escape in a precipitous manner, treating our garden like a prison camp out of which they couldn’t dig their way fast enough.   My son, now nearly eighteen, is repeatedly teased by his sisters about his ‘duelling scar’, where he was actually attacked by a rabbit when he was about four.  So, as you can see, I have an uneasy relationship with the Easter Bunny.  But not so the Easter Hare, the origin for the Easter Bunny stories; despite their being rare elsewhere in the country, here in Yorkshire you can’t go for a run without tripping over half a dozen of the berserk, spring-loaded things.  I have a terrific fondness for them, mad eyes, bonkers boxing matches and all.  However, when it comes to rabbits … only the Rampant kind will ever enter my house again …

A modern little witch

A modern little witch

Christina – In Sweden they have some very strange traditions for Easter, probably of pagan origin, but who knows? My favourite one was dressing up as a witch on what’s called “Skärtorsdagen” (Thursday before Easter) and going out to wish people Happy Easter in the hope they’d give us money or sweets as a reward (almost like Trick-or-Treating for Hallowe’en). My mum would let me borrow one of her skirts so it reached all the way to the ground (anchored by a belt as I was much smaller obviously), then tie a scarf round my head the way old ladies did. I was given a broom to hold, because Swedish witches apparently fly off on their brooms that night to congregate somewhere, and then my dad painted my face. Using watercolours (there were no face paints back then) he gave me horrible wrinkles and transformed me into an ugly crone. The paintbrush tickled as he worked and when the paint dried, my face felt funny, but I loved looking in the mirror afterwards. I was a true work of art! (And getting money or sweeties was of course a bonus).

Once again, HAPPY EASTER from all of us!

(And please come back tomorrow for the unveiling of a new Choc Lit novel …)

Juliet, Kate and Christina – Library Talk

If anyone is in the vicinity of the Victoria Library in London tomorrow, Monday 12th September, Juliet, Kate and Christina will be doing a talk about writing and irresistible heroes.

The event is at 160 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9UD (close to Victoria Coach Station) between 6pm – 7.45pm and there will be chocolates!

Hope to see you there!

Bath Launch of ‘Persuade Me’

bath-womanNo, I’m not launching my latest book surrounded by bubbles and plastic ducks!

Instead I’m off to the beautiful city of Bath, one of the settings used in Persuade Me and scene of the annual Jane Austen Festival, 16th-24th September. Very appropriate, given that Persuade Me is an updated version of Persuasion. The itinerary goes something like this:

bath-royal-crescentThursday 15th September – launch day and ‘live’ interview at BBC Radio Bristol at 2.10pm – eek!

Friday 16th September – guided walk of central Bath at 4pm, starting and ending at Waterstone’s in Milsom Street, with quiz and prizes! The guided walk takes in the locations used in Persuasion and Persuade Me.

Saturday 17th September – 12.30 to 16.30 Choc Lit stall at the Jane Austen Festival Country Fayre in the Guildhall. There will be books … and chocolate!

Sunday 18th September – guided walk again, this time at 2pm.

Added to all this excitement is the knowledge that, on Saturday, I will hold the reprint of The Importance of Being Emma in my hot, grubby (no doubt with chocolate) little paws. As the song goes, ‘Isn’t she lovely?’

If you’re in the area, please come and say hello!

tiobe1

Christina Courtenay’s Midsummer Treat

summer_solstice1So we’ve reached the middle of the year again, with the Summer Solstice just past and Midsummer this weekend. No idea where that time has gone and as usual, I didn’t make it to Stonehenge to see the sun come up – something I’m determined to do one day!

Here in England Midsummer doesn’t seem to be celebrated much, whereas if I was in Sweden with my relatives there would be lots of partying going on this weekend. Traditional food includes pickled herring, new potatoes (the first of the year) and thick cream with chives. Sounds a bit strange perhaps, but I guess it’s a leftover from the past when these were the only ingredients available at this time of year.

I don’t mind what I eat at Midsummer, but I do like any party meal to finish with something sweet, preferably involving lots of chocolate. Is there anything more divine than a chocolate dessert? (Or chocolate anything!) I’m not alone in this, so the other Choc Lit authors and I have agreed we’d like to share some of our favourite chocolate recipes with you this summer. Here’s one of mine – enjoy!

Chocolate Nut Parfait (serves 4 but I always make double just in case J)

Ingredients: 250 g whole nut milk chocolate bar (preferably a smooth and creamy one)

3 egg yolks

50g caster sugar

250 ml (half a pint) double cream

Method: Melt half the chocolate in a Bain Marie or non-stick pan (low heat).

Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together. Add the melted chocolate.

Whisk the cream separately until it’s firm. Add to the rest of the mixture.

Chop the other half of the chocolate into little pieces.

Pour ¼ of the cream mixture into a dish (preferably non-stick and one that can stand being put in the freezer). Sprinkle the chopped chocolate over this. Pour in the rest of the mixture.

Put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, then serve like ice cream cake.

blf-logoaHappy Midsummer and hope to see some of you at Bromley Library tomorrow!

Christina Courtenay in the Libraries

rose1Despite all the threatened library closures and cut-backs, a lot of them are still arranging events for readers across the country, which I think is great. As the libraries liaison officer for the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I’m in contact with quite a few of them, but it is as an author that I will be visiting two libraries in the next couple of months.

First up, I’m taking part in the Redbridge Book and Media Festival 2011. On Wednesday 25th May I’ll be doing a talk at Woodford Green Library at 2.00pm. There will be an afternoon tea party while I speak, which sounds good. Personally, I think afternoon tea is one of the best British inventions ever, so I’m looking forward to that!

Then on Saturday 25th June I’ll be doing a Romantic Heroes workshop (how to create characters your readers fall in love with) together with Sue Moorcroft at Bromley Library, as part of their “Ladies Who Love” day – a celebration of romantic fiction. Juliet Archer will also be taking part, giving a talk on Austen and romantic fiction. This all promises to be great fun and as it’s the first time they have organised anything like this, I very much hope it will be a success so that it becomes a yearly event from now on. For more information on this have a look here. You can also join their Facebook page here.

If you haven’t got anything else to do, please come and join me/us at either event, we’d love to see you! And as always, with Choc Lit events, there will be some lovely Montezuma chocolates to keep us going. Perfect!