Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review –Cookies for Courting by Amber Kell


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Cookies for Courting coverCookies for Courting by Amber Kell is another installment in the Tales of the Curious Cookbook series, each is by a different author, and each features a different recipe which is guaranteed to be a catalyst for an emotional response. The cookies featured in this story will bring about true love, in other words they facilitate good old-fashioned courting.

Marshall Hunter gained custody of his niece, Alice, when her mother, a single parent, was killed last month. At a loss as to how to cope with the child’s grief, he decides to have a mural painted on the wall of her bedroom in the hopes that it will cheer her up. A financial advisor, Marshall has been very successful in his career, but not so much in his love life. Single and without a clue about being a parent, he’s hired a nanny for afterschool care for Alice and has a full time housekeeper named Ilona who helps in whatever way she can, though she is aging and can’t care for the child herself.

On the morning he’s scheduled to interview the three artists who were recommended for the mural job, he meets a stunning young blond man in the elevator on the way to his office. Pace Barton is that young man, and is an artist with an impressive professional portfolio and the face of an angel. Marshall and Pace are immediately attracted to each other, but Marshall puts on the brakes because he won’t get involved with an employee.

When Pace meets Alice, he’s engaged by her personality, by her need to get through her grief, and by how much she reminds him of her stunning uncle. He gets the job, but just as he’s getting ready to start the mural, Marshall decides to buy a house so that Alice can have a yard and a dog and all the things kids her age need. Pace is disappointed, but understanding. Unfortunately, he feels that they won’t get to be together because Marshall will be moving too far away.

A misunderstanding then leads to a definite breakup, but a tragedy brings them back together, and then nothing will stop Marshall’s pursuit of this wonderful young man. And oh, by the way, he also bakes the best cookies!

This is a cute story, fairly short, but with enough excitement packed in to equal a longer book. What I liked best about this story were the MCs. Both men were characters I would love to get to know, especially Pace. I can’t pin down why they were so remarkable, other than to say the author did a great job bringing them to life. I felt like I was “watching”, rather than “reading” their story.

I recommend this one to those who like a simple, minimal-angst story, with great characterization and, of course, a sweet happy ending. In fact, the entire series is well-worth reading. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Cover art by Reese Dante features the same color-themed background with cookbook as others in the series, with the addition of artist’s brushes and a stack of cookies, both symbolic of this story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAll Romance (ARe)Amazon    Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 68 pages
Published April 22nd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
original titleCookies for Courting
edition languageEnglish
seriesTales of the Curious Cookbook

Tales of the Curious Cookbook Series:

6 works, 5 primary works.

Five fun and fanciful stories about a rather curious cookbook!

Authors and Their Stories:

RJ Scott – For a Rainy Afternoon (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by R.J. Scott
Amy Lane – Food for Thought (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amy Lane
Marie Sexton – Lost Along the Way (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Marie Sexton
Amber Kell – Cookies for Courting (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Amber Kell
Mary Calmes – Just Desserts (Tales of the Curious Cookbook) by Mary Calmes
RJ Scott – Tales of the Curious Cookbook by R.J. Scott

In the Book Spotlight: The Playhouse (a Superpowered Love Story) by Katey Hawthorne (guest post and giveaway)



The Playhouse (a Superpowered Love story) by Katey Hawthorne

STRW In The Spotlight Header
Published by Looseid LLC
Cover Artist P.L. Nunn

Here’s Katey Hawthorne on writing her first F/F story and her Superpowered Love series….

Hello, and thanks for letting me drop in, Melanie! I’m running around celebrating because the very first f/f book in my Superpowered Love series, The Playhouse, just came out yesterday. It’s about—well, yes, there are superpowers, but it all takes place in a summerstock theater. Sounds like a weird combo, but it works… hopefully.

There are some pretty serious undercurrents in the book too, though, and that’s what I want to talk about a little here. While Lily’s dream is to make her beloved Playhouse more viable, Genevieve, the starlet who has her full and undivided romantic attention all summer, brings new goals to the table. Goals like better representation for people of color and minorities on the small town stage. (See also, Genevieve’s character stat entry on my website, where she goes on about her Les Miserables fanfiction.) Lily is, of course, delighted at the prospect and throws her heart and soul into that, as well.

Now to get personal. The reason I write queer characters all the time is because I wanted more of that as a kid. I wanted to see myself reflected in characters who lived crazy lives, loved interesting people, and yeah, maybe even had some superpowers. I’m writing the books I wanted to read, books that have queer people finding their happiness. But there’s more work to be done. More women, more people of color, more gender non-conforming people, more responsible representation of all kinds is my goal.

 Giveaway: So tell me: what would you like to see more represented in fiction? What pieces of you and your friends do you think deserve more reflection and attention? Leave a comment with a suggestion or thought, your email address where you can be contacted  and be entered to win a copy of The Playhouse!

Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Author is providing the book, thank you, Katey!

The Playhouse Blurb

Summer has been Lily McBride’s favorite time of year since she was a kid, because that’s when the Brookesville Playhouse opens its doors. Now that she’s an adult and works as their tech director, Lily wants more for her beloved Playhouse: a larger audience, a longer season, and exciting shows to draw new patrons.

This year, though, she also wants Genevieve Mason, a pretty starlet-in-the-making from the local university, recruited for the season’s tech crew. Genny throws her heart and soul into the place too, adding her own dreams of representation to the ‘must-have’ list, and using her sweet voice and surprising flare for pyrotechnics to draw the crowds in droves. They work so well together, it’s not long before their summer crush blossoms into a steamy affair.

Lily’s falling hard, but always feels like Genny’s holding something back. And then there’s the dreaded Brookesville Arts Council—supposed to be a support system for all things cultural, instead dragging the Playhouse down with their old-fashioned stubbornness. There are a lot of hurdles to jump and egos to deflate before they can get what they want, both for the theater and from each other.

Sales Links:   Loose id   (special sales price of $4.99)

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Author bio: Katey Hawthorne is an avid reader and writer of superpowered romance, even though the only degree she holds is in the history of art. (Or, possibly, because the only degree she holds is in the history of art.) Originally from the Appalachian foothills of West Virginia, she currently lives in Ohio. In her spare time she enjoys comic books, B-movies, loud music, Epiphones, and Bushmills.

Contact/follow Katey at:

Karen Stivali’s Moments in Time Series is Back with Moments of Clarity (excerpt and giveaway)


moment of clarity

 Moment of Clarity  (Moments in Time #3) by Karen Stivali
Release Date: May 6, 2015


Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Anna Sikorska

Sales Links: AmazonBarnes and NobleDreamspinner Press

All Romance (ARe)Google PlayKobo


(Should be read in order)
Individual e-books available or paperback collection of all three titles

STRW Author BookSynopsis


Spending the summer together on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, challenges confront them at every turn.

As they search for their new normal in their old environment, Collin’s brother Sean surprises them with help when they need it most. But when word about their relationship gets out, trouble erupts with friends and family. When Collin’s relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother’s custody battle, and Tanner struggles with his feelings for a heartbroken Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone he cares about would be better off without him in the picture. In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear to Collin that their love for each other is all that matters.
MOMENTS IN TIME Books 1-3 (available in paperback)

1MomentofImpactCover-KarenStivaliMomentofTruth large cover (1) (1)moment of clarity






Moment of Impact
Beyond Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room, the students of his conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Tanner wants to show the world how much he loves Collin, but Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

Moment of Truth
Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, and for the first time, he and Tanner can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, and doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness. Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

Moment of Clarity
Spending the summer on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, new challenges confront them.

When Collin’s relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother’s custody battle and Tanner struggles with feelings for his heartbroken friend Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone would be better off without him. In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear his love for Collin is all that matters.
Pages or Words: 145 pages (38,000 words)

Categories: M/M Romance, Gay Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Excerpt from MOMENT OF IMPACT (Book 1 of the Moments In Time Series by Karen Stivali)

Don’t blow this. Not now. Not when he’s right here. So close. So… Forcing myself to move, I reached out and clutched at his shoulder. His skin was smooth, warm. I pressed my fingers into his flesh with enough force, he flinched. His gaze darted to mine, wary.

Swallowing hard, I willed myself to maintain eye contact. “I didn’t think I wanted that, until I met you.”

Tanner’s gaze raced back and forth between my hand, which was still gripping his shoulder, and my eyes, which felt like they were about to bulge out of my skull. I couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Do something. Say something.
Then his mouth crashed into mine.

I like kissing. I always have. Even though I wasn’t super into any of the girls I’d been with, kissing was the one thing I still enjoyed. Warm mouths, wet tongues, moving together. It felt good. I seriously thought I’d done some decent kissing in my life.

I was wrong. Tanner’s mouth on mine for one fucking second proved to me that what I’d done before might have looked like kissing, might have felt like kissing, but was like the frozen french bread pizza version of kissing. Nothing like the real thing.

Nothing like this.

His tongue swept into my mouth, hot and velvety. His hand gripped the back of my neck, tugging me upright. Everything fell away. Disappeared. The whole world was this one kiss. I could have drowned in it and died happy.

Tanner pulled away, breathing hard, his forehead pressed to mine. The room spun like a carnival ride.

“You okay?”

His voice sounded lower than usual. Deep and gravelly. I gave a shaky nod, and he tipped his head back, looking at me.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” My heart beat double time as I realized he still had his hands on me. And he was still naked. And I was probably harder than I’d ever been in my entire life. Jesus.

“We can stop.”

“No.” That wasn’t what I wanted. Not at all. “I just… I mean… we’re roommates. What if this doesn’t work out?”

Tanner’s lips pulled into a grin so sexy my brain turned to oatmeal. He rubbed the back of my neck. “So, one kiss and you’re already thinking about what happens if we break up?”

I shook my head. “I don’t know.”

“Let’s see how we feel after another kiss.”


STRW Author Bio and Contacts
Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at the links below.

A special note from the author: “I just signed two new contracts with Dreamspinner Press. These new titles will be continuations of the Moments In Time series, but will star secondary characters from the series rather than Collin and Tanner. MOMENT OF SILENCE will feature Quinn (Collin’s oldest brother) and Jason (Collin’s Fire Island co-worker who developed a crush on him) and MOMENT OF FATE will be Bryan’s story (Bryan was the musician housemate from Moment Of Truth). I’m very excited about both projects. I also have a m/f New Adult book that will be released from Bloomsbury in late 2015. Lots of books on the horizon!”

Find the author here at:

Facebook Author Page:

 STRW Spotlight Contest Header

Contest:  Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $20 Gift Card. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

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