Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I'm bowing out of this month's TBR Challenge. My TBR pile is no smaller but I have other obligations this week that must come first.

I have things to read for my critique partners and I have the eHarlequin Valentine's Secret entries to read. Even more fun than that we're having company tomorrow, beloved family who we rarely see.

As a treat, I'm making homemade bread to go with our two pans of lasagna-- we'll have four teenagers. I'm making homemade bread. Not bread machine bread, but a cold rise baguette. I've made lots of bread at home over the years. In a bread machine. Whole wheat. Oatmeal. Kneaded by hand. Kneaded in a heavy-duty mixer.

The lovely Lynn Rae Harris and I were talking about baking bread and she confessed to being a bit leery of bread. There are so many things that have to be correct. The yeast has to be fresh or the bread won't rise. If the water is too hot or too cold, it still won't rise. If the room is too hot, the dough could over rise and then fall before it's even in the oven. If the room's too cold, the dough will be too dense. Baking is part science and part craft. I've had all these things and still more things go wrong (our Labrador mix really liked bread).

This cold rise method is hands down, my favorite way to make bread. It's forgiving. If I have to run an unexpected errand, the dough can wait a little bit for me. As long as the water is cool to the touch, the bread will eventually rise. The crumb and the flavor of the bread is truly superb, better than most I can buy locally.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Inherited Bride by Maisey Yates

Isn't the cover for this book yummy? The actual book is so much more beautiful. I'm so lucky that I won a copy of this, since it's only just available in UK. Maisey Yates' book is a wonderful fairy tale of a princess and a sheik.

If the hero of a story is too strong, the heroine can be overshadowed. This is especially true of very young heroines. Bella is young and overly sheltered. She's struggling to stand on her own before her arranged marriage takes place. She's a girl with no experience and no control over her life. Although at the beginning of the story she is naive and a bit timid, she matures into a more assured young woman. That was fun to see and it also really made me believe in her happy ending.

Adham is very, very alpha. Very alpha heroes can be a challenge. Sometimes they can edge into something a little too: too bossy, too menacing, too rude. Adham sometimes crosses those lines, but his honorable motives make it possible for me to forgive him just about anything. Over at Samantha Hunter's blog there was a great conversation about what makes an alpha hero work. The one thing that came from the conversation was that an alpha hero who was constrained by a code -pack laws, military rules or in Adham's case a code of honor -  is more balanced than the guy who just runs around yelling and throwing his weight around. That unshakable honor makes it easier to forgive him when he's too bold and easier to believe in his softer side.

The Inherited Bride is an emotional read packed into a slim category book.