In Wild Lemon Groves Cookbook – Dolce

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Italy? The food, of course! When I was on my birthday trip to Amalfi that inspired my contemporary M/M romance In Wild Lemon Groves, I indulged to the max: pasta, pizza, gelato, and, of course, my beloved granita limone every day (sometimes twice).

To celebrate the recent release of In Wild Lemon Groves, and because there are so many food scenes in the book, I thought it would be fun to share some recipes based on the delectable meals that Seb eats alone, or shares with bello Andrea. If I could have made the book a scratch-and-sniff experience, or somehow had a box of Italian treats delivered with it, I would have, because everyone should get to experience authentic Italian cuisine at least once in their lives.

This is, fingers crossed, the next best thing, and I hope it inspires you to either get in the kitchen or seek out your local Italian bakery. And because Amalfi’s resident hunky chauffeur Andrea Sorrentino is a pretty sweet guy, we’re going to start with dessert!

Sfogliatelle

Sfogliatelle

Anyone who’s read In Wild Lemon Groves knows that one of the first things Seb samples–and fall in love with–in Amalfi is the sfogliatelle. A shell-like pastry filled with ricotta cream with a hint of orange or lemon, these babies are crunchy, creamy, perfect. Especially with an espresso.

You can find a recipe for sfogliatelle by the great Salvatore Elefante here.

torta-caprese

Torta Caprese

This delectable chocolate cake made from almond flour is Seb’s reward for working at Fabiana’s on the island Capri, a restaurant owned and operated by Andrea’s aunt. It also happens to be the cake I ask for every year for my birthday. Delizioso!

Here’s a video of the great Lidia Bastianich demonstrating how to make her version:

Gelato

What would a discussion of Italian desserts be without gelato? Omnipresent in Italy, I made a point of having one every day of my trip. My favorite was the torta caprese-flavored one–I mean, talk about decadent, smashing a cake into ice cream! Here is a photo of the double-scoop gelato I had on my last day…

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I was laughing as I was eating it because it looks like the Montreal Just for Laughs festival mascot Victor.

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Just me?

Feel like a food vacation of your own, but can’t afford a flight to Amalfi? Try out some of these recipes, or live vicariously by reading about Seb and Andrea’s adventures in In Wild Lemon Groves. 

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Next week – Pasta!

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10 Great Things That Happened in 2017

I decided to change things up this year from my usual Best Of lists. 2017 was a challenging year for almost everyone and won’t go down in the history books as anybody’s favorite. But some wonderful things happened to me this year, in the midst of all the tumultuous world events and existential despair. So along with my usual roundup of pop culture I loved, I’ve added in a few personal anecdotes and observations on the state of the world. So, in no particular order, here are my 10 Great Things That Happened in 2017.

I Found an Amazing Team of Collaborators

One of the things that kept me from self-publishing for so long was my desire to not be in it alone. My biggest takeaway from having my first novel published by an indie was the need for some talented collaborators as committed to making the book a success as I was. Also, as someone with a full-time job who doesn’t have a partner, I am the only admiral of my fleet. I was daunted by the thought of adding such a time-consuming side hustle to my already heavy workload. Which is why I am so grateful for Nancy-Anne Davies, Lady Tiferet, Rachel Maybury from Signal Boost Productions, Liv Rancourt, Karen Wellsbury, Francesca Borzi, Day’s Lee, and Judie Troyansky, and all the reviewers who helped me get the word out. Love you all!

I Read Some Exceptional Books… 

…but there wasn’t a ton of time for reading. See above for reasons why. I especially didn’t feel able to do a Best of Books list this year because my reading consumption was less than half of last year. I only had time for my faves and discovered very few new authors. This will hopefully change in 2018, #NewYearsResolution. But here are five faves my reading list.

Seven Summer Nights, Harper Fox

Spectred Isle, KJ Charles

Hexslayer, Jordan L. Hawk

Eagle’s Shadow, Aleks Voinov and Jordan Taylor

Ruin of a Rake, Cat Sebastian

Women Found Their Voices

Feminist rhetoric was everywhere this year, from the Women’s March back in January to the Silence Breakers this past fall. More people are speaking about women’s rights, and more men are aware of the incredible disparity between the genders than ever before. It’s been both emotionally crushing and exhilarating to live in such times. But this particular abscess needed to burst before it could be cleansed. There might be a lot more puss to come, but that’s the only way to heal.

I Finally Read Book 5 in the Adrien English Mystery Series

I figured since the apocalypse was nigh, it was about time to finish it before I no longer had the chance. Spoiler alert: it was amazing.

Those Committed to Change in the Romance Community

I love the romance community, especially my little niche of friends and followers. I don’t mean to go all Pollyanna on you, but the scandals always amaze me because 99% of the people I’ve met have been lovely. But those scandals can’t be ignored, and there is a huge need for change and inclusivity in terms of the acquisition and promotion of POC and LGBTQ+ authors. But there are so many authors, agents, readers, booksellers, and editors out there getting the word out and making the right choices when it comes to their own work. We absolutely need to do better. But I’m grateful for those giving it their all and for everything they’ve taught me. It’s rare you can say that something you participated in has improved you as a person.

I Watched Some Incredible Movies

Every year for the past few, I hear a lot of griping about how movies were “so bad this year”. All I can say to this is, you might want to do some research before going out to the movies because this year produced some gems I will treasure for the rest of my life. Here’s a list of my faves. And, seriously, hit me up on Twitter if you’re looking for something better to watch. Always happy to help. 😉

Get Out

Free Fire

Logan

Wonder Woman

The Beguiled

The Big Sick

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Atomic Blonde

Blade Runner 2049

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Thor: Ragnarok

Lady Bird

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water

The Last Jedi

(I haven’t seen Call Me By Your Name yet, but there’s no way it doesn’t go on this list.)

This Four-Legged Wonder Survived Another Year With Me

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People Stepped Up, Fought Back, Resisted

Allow me to annoy you with a glass-half-full description of the year. Because we can’t lose focus of the good in the world and in people. Then we would truly be lost. I write in a genre that’s about the underdog getting the win. One that teaches you can’t lose hope. And while it’s easy to feel that we are in the darkest timeline, at least people are awake to reality. Organizations have mobilized. The Resistance is in motion and people are fighting back. In prosperous times, it’s easy for some of us (i.e. the white and the privileged) to forget. To shrug off the ills of the world. If we do that now, if we ever let ourselves do it again, then we are truly the villains of this narrative. Don’t be a villain. Wake up. Educate yourself. Give back. Progress.

TV Was My Coping Mechanism

Part of the reason I couldn’t commit to an official Best Of is that when it comes to TV, there’s just so much good. No end of good. Netflix is a one-stop shop of amazingness and creativity, and it only produces maybe two of my favorite shows. I’m someone who watches everything, and even I couldn’t keep up. It’s an embarrassment of riches. It took me an hour to whittle this list down. But here are a few of my fave seasons of TV of the year.

Legion

Fargo

Big Little Lies

Game of Thrones

The Handmaid’s Tale

Alias Grace

Broadchurch

Master of None

Insecure

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

Riverdale

Howard’s End

Glow

Mindhunter

Crisis on Earth X – CW superhero crossover special

You Might Have Noticed I Self-Published a Book

There’s been enough said on this blog and elsewhere about Stoker & Bash, but its reception was without a doubt the highlight of my year. And that wouldn’t have happened without all of you. So thank you from the bottom of my heart, for reading, for playing along, for making my dream come true. This little hobby of mine is an oasis from all the ills of the world. Thank you for welcoming me into this heartening community. It means everything to me.

Have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve no matter how you’re celebrating, and wishing you all the love, happiness, and success for 2018!

Selina

 

 

Best Books of 2015

As the last grains of sand pour through the hourglass that was 2015, every one of us, I think, is taking a few moments to reminisce about the year that was. It’s the time of year to shift around the beads on the abacus of life and, if you’re a geek like me, to remind yourself of all the indelible pop culture experiences you had this year. A tough year for me personally, but an epic one in terms of the entertainment I consumed, and the thoughts about it I shared with my social media friends. So, over the next couple of days, I’m rolling out my best of 2015 in books, TV, and film. Because who doesn’t love a good list?

Thanks to the lovely folks at GoodReads, putting together my best books of 2015 list was a breeze! I pressed a button and presto, changeo, they tallied all the stats and collected all the book covers for me. A huge help! But also surprising. The year has been a busy one, and that’s reflected in the smaller number of books I got through. Not a surprise, since as I type this there are at least a dozen on my waiting list, with at least five by major authors. I also tend to rate books quite highly, but I attribute this to the fact that I’m very good at selecting books for myself that I will enjoy. I have my stable of trusted authors, and though I do sample works by new writers (four of which made it to this list), just keeping up with my favorites eats up the largest chunk of my reading time.

So, without further ado, here are the seven best books I read in 2015 (in no particular order).

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A Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold–A Victorian mystery series with occult leanings, beautifully drawn characters, a fascinating and terrifying underworld, and a complex, touching romance. What’s not to love?

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Captive Prince 1&2 by C.S. Pacat–I’ve written about them before. If you’ve read this series, you know how expertly plotted, devastatingly smart, and utterly riveting they are. Laurent is one of the best characters of all time.

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Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme–If you, like me, love old movies and are just as fascinated by the stories behind the making of those movies, you will love this book. A film buff’s romance with strong mystery element, with a lovely, complicated, silent film-loving heroine and her dashing mathematician foil. I ached when this one was over.

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Hoarfrost by Jordan L. Hawk–A new Whyborne & Griffin book is always a cause for celebration. This one’s winter setting hit close to home, and made for a particularly emotional outing. I marvel at the depth of Mrs. Hawk’s imagination, which conjures up civilizations and creatures that, like the best episodes of Doctor Who, touch the head and the heart.

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Jackdaw by K.J. Charles–What else is there to say about Mrs. Charles other than she is the best historical M/M writer working today? I could have put all of her releases on this list, but my love for the Charm of Magpies world knows no bounds, so Jonah and Ben it is.

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Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates–A pitch-black book about six Oxford University students who start a game of dares that transforms all their lives. Twisty and addictive, Mr. Yates pushes all of his characters to the brink and beyond.

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Unnatural by Joanna Chambers–An engrossing historical that had me by the heart for its entire length. I just loved James and Iain to bits. But it’s the brushstrokes of her writing that stay with me, the quiet moments and the compelling images that linger in the mind long after the last page.

What books made you stay up into the wee hours to finish them this year? Hit me up in the comments!