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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

Blogger Site: WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

Dark Desires After Dusk
Kresley Cole
The Heartbreaker
Rexanne Becnel
Progress: 30%
Unmasking Miss Appleby
Emily Larkin
Fancy Pants
Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Kyraryker’s quotes

"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Reading Update: 10%

The Heartbreaker - Rexanne Becnel

Not only acknowledgement but inclusion of a rake's illegitimate children, what devilry is this?!

Where 21st century women fear to tread

Perfect - Judith McNaught

For quotes/comments as I read and others commentary:  Buddy Read Perfect


700pgs. 700 PAGES 

The first 30% was good, with amazing development and laying foundation down for our characters. In newer published books, that first 30% would have been edited down to around 10%. I miss layers like that. Having said that, oh my god, could a lot have been edited out. I think. Secondary characters that seemed to add depth to the story, characters, and setting, started to become skim worthy as they didn't seem to add to the main arc. There's twin sisters that add flavor and a thinking commentary storyline but towards the end, I was wondering what the point was. Adding to a lesser degree, the heroine's boyfriend Greg(?) and the storyline of a FBI agent falling in love with heroine. They add to the layers of the story but they also meander the reader from the main arc and end up disappearing with no real conclusion; I was left with "what's the point?” 


This would not only satisfy your old tv show Dynasty cravings, this would fulfill 3 seasons worth. I feel like I lived three lifetimes reading this. Season One is the childhood of our heroine and hero and the development of how they came to be as adults, Season Two is the November sweeps lust, murder, kidnapping, and D-rama, and Season Three is the lies, betrayal, revelations, and happily ever after. 


All this D-rama of secondary character stories, lusting, murder, and life living is told through an early '90s romance view point. I ended up not liking the hero because of his overly aggressive, I know you love me/want me so I'm going to sexually man handle you until your body forces you to admit it, a heroine who could be read Mary Sue-ish with some innocent, too sweet to be real, 26yr old virgin, wishy washy, and "Perfect", a puritanical vibe, and a overhanging view that good wives are cooking and doing laundry. 


The murder mystery got a bit washed out as it was pushed to the background by the D-rama and not for my 21st century woman self, views. After I read the last sentence, I started to think about the ranting review I was going to type up, until I saw the Author's Note. Due to our heroine's childhood, she grew up illiterate until the 5th grade. As a result, she becomes a middle school teacher and after hours teaches adult women to learn how to read. Then in the note, the author talks about how harshly illiteracy affects women, which is also shown through secondary characters (heroine's grown women students) she weaves in how women are trapped in abusive relationships and poverty because of their illiteracy. She brings up a program called "Literacy. Pass. It. On.", a program funded by Coors Light and how it is working to help women gain literacy. I looked the program up and through my weak, quick research it went five years and earned 5 million dollars (looks like they were shooting for 40mil). Was this whole book, a story rife with sexism and clearly a prevailing view of its time, showing and relating to women, a cloak for a message of how women are held back and a way to help prevent that? Maybe, maybe not. It is why I love the romance genre, because there is a message here, even if its veiled, because maybe it had to be. Social commentary and women reaching out to women, hearing, acknowledging, and addressing our issues, that is what is commonly hidden behind those bare chest men covers. 


Did I like the story as a whole? No, too much editing needed, main couple's relationship was not built on a believable, solid foundation, and the whole Dynasty-like D-rama. However, the sub-plot of illiteracy and its harmful effects on women and how we can help them? Sign me up every time. (Secret: The romance genre is chalk full of this and why I'm signed up a lot for these books)


The Literacy. Pass. It. On. Program is not around anymore but please considering donating whatever you can at any literacy non-profit/charity. Share the love of reading


Perfect - Judith McNaught

"Touch me." It was an invitation, an order, and a plea.

Some editing needed in this section but our couple got some bonding time in. Curious to see where we go from here.

More quotes, comments - Buddy Read - Perfect


Perfect - Judith McNaught

Cloaked in the deepening dusk of a snowy winter evening, Julie Mathison walked unsteadily beside a convicted murderer who was holding a gun on her.

Story is like an amazing Lifetime channel movie,lol. I'm hooked so far. 
More quotes/comments - Buddy Read-Perfect

Menu Monday

Vegan Chocolate Pudding



Really good! It could be the pudding recipe or the Toblerone I broke apart and added, lol. A dessert that I didn't feel guilty for eating and simple and easy to make. I would highly recommend the Toblerone garnish.  



Turkey and Cauliflower Sheperds Pie



Around an hour to make and a healthier option with the turkey and cauliflower substituting the lamb and mash potatoes. Pretty yummy but I used frozen vegetables and it made it a little more salty than I like. I also missed maybe some more seasoning taste. Not sure I would make again, but worth a try. 



Honey Teriyaki Salmon and Veggies Foil



Another super easy fish, took about half hour. The sauce tasted good on the vegetables, broccoli really soaks it up. Ok on the fish but a recipe I'll probably only make this once as it wasn't super wowing.



Savory Slow Cooker Cajun Chicken Alfredo



The flavor, seasoning for this is amazing, soooooo good. Using the slow cooker obviously takes a while but makes things super easy. The recipe calls for the noodles to be cooked in the slow cooker but that didn't really work for me, I left them in there for 40mins and some still weren't cooked. I'd cook the noodles normally but take them out with 5 or 10 mins early and cook the remaining time in the slow cooker. Would make a good red wine, date night meal.



Healthy Avocado Deviled Eggs



Green eggs in honor of St. Paddy's Day :)  Healthier than normal deviled eggs because of Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise but the avocado will add some fat content. I thought they were a little blah, needed some spice or seasoning in them. I also cut the recipe in half because these only last about three hours, the avocado browns pretty quickly. 


What did you all eat this week?

Reading Update: 10%

Perfect - Judith McNaught

"If you don't like my offer," Margaret informed her in a steely voice, "then I suggest you get yourself a job as a waitress or find yourself a pimp, because those are the only two careers for which you're fit right now."

Daaaammmn, Granny coming in hot! 

More quotes/comments - Buddy Read Perfect

Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The youngest in a power family, Eve has felt more comfortable hidden away in her shell. However, when a chance to make a move on a long standing crush arises, she begins to realize that being herself and letting others see her is the only way to get what she truly wants.
Growing up the housekeeper's kid kept Gabe slightly on the outside looking in. Getting close to people has always been difficult but when he gets some alone time with Eve, the girl he's tried to stay away from because of her age, he begins to realize that she's a woman now and getting close to someone can be the best thing in the world.

Imperfections were what made a piece unique. Impossible to replicate. 

Book three and the last in the Forbidden Hearts series, gives us Eve and Gabe's story. Eve is Nicholas' (Hate to Want You) younger sister and has made appearances as the bullied by her father, overprotected by her brother, standing up for her brother, and crushing on Gabe, shy girl. Here we get the full depth and breadth of her character. The author does an amazing job showing the growth Eve goes through as the story progresses. She goes from hiding her wants and desires to allowing herself to express them and making no apologies for them. Eve's personal growth kind of dominated the story for me as her character was so well thought out and written.

She was Eve. A Chandler. And he had far too many problems to get tangled up in a Chandler. 

Gabe has also made appearances in the last two books, as Livvy's (Hate to Want You) boss and Jackson's (Wrong to Need You) too talkative want to be friend. He's been the genial, nice, and open guy who is big in stature with a heart of gold. Here we learn about a deeply held secret and the hidden pain this has caused him. I had a harder time connecting with Gabe as the story seemed to not have quite enough room for his character to breathe on the pages. The secret takes a while to get revealed and as a consequence, his closed off persona and constant pushing and running away from Eve was lacking context and his commitment issues began to get tiresome. 

“Can I have you?” he murmured. 

The basis and continuing thread of this series has been the family drama between the Chandlers and the Oka-Kanes, this book is no exception. It stole some time away from Eve and Gabe; this crosses the line into feeling more like an encompassing series wrap-up than Eve and Gabe's story more than once. From the glimpses we got from them in the series I was, personally, hoping for more of a spotlight on them. They have great chemistry but I would have liked more intimate scenes between them (a strong suite of this author) and just general more bonding interaction. Eve also does more of the heavy lifting as Gabe had a tendency to push her away; the lusting but "oh no, I can't!" rinse and repeat wore a bit thin. However, the glimpses we did get of Gabe's nice and sunny in the streets and hair pulling, dirty talking in the sheets will give you the thrills. 

The hurt, pain, anger, and love this series has been full of and the amazing characters have made Alisha Rai a must read author here on out for me. She incorporates tough issues (depression, family dynamics), provides authentic joining and melding of people from all walks of life, writes brilliant women characters, and does it with such a beautiful ease, with added hot and sexy intimate scenes. Shy Eve and sweet Gabe get their happy ending, along with more Chandler and Oka-Kane revelations, heartache, and closure. Emotional ups and downs with hot sexy loving, read this series. 

Here was love. Deep, unconditional love. And she deserved it. 


Hurts to Love You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

His big hands came up to brace himself on the tree on either side of her head. He leaned in close. She breathed in.

Reading Update: 15%

Hurts to Love You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

She opened her eyes, and he wanted her to eat more cake. Hell, he wanted to buy her a whole cake and feed it to her, have her lick lemon and cream from his fingers.



Relationships written so normal and beautifully

Wrong to Need You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

She was a mother, a widow. To a lot of people, she’d discovered, those two titles took precedence over being a woman. 

It is no secret I loved the heck out of the first in this series and with a pairing I was worried/not feeling (sister-in-law/brother-in-law), this was always going to have a hard time measuring up. 
The writing is superb, no problems there, but the components just weren't to my personal liking. 
This is, by my guess, 30-40ish% our main couple Jackson and Sadia and 70-60ish% family issues/drama; for a very long time it feels way more contemporary fiction romance instead of what I was anticipating for romance contemporary fiction.

The lusting from Sadia starts right away and the comments she makes in the first 20% felt almost immature (when she realizes the mystery man is Jackson) because of the issues/relationship between them. It was hard for me to move from the emotional pain and relationship complexities to Sadia saying hot Jackson's butt was. After the 20% those kind of comments and tone kind of fade off, to the betterment, I think. 

As with Livvy (we get snippets of her and Nicholas here!), I thought Sadia was a great complex, multi-faceted heroine. Her inner family stresses along with grief, motherhood, money, and sexual desires are laid out so bare and real. It feels weird to wax poetic about a "normal" woman character as if other heroines aren't "normal", because what is normal and all that but dang it, I feel like I don't read a lot of normal heroines. Sadia is all of it, a mother, stressed, a daughter, horny, a sister, a list maker, bisexual, a widower, hurt, and etc. Loved her character.

I love me some broody, quiet, and strong types and while Jackson was all of that and a muscle tattooed bag of chips, he felt too closed off to me as the reader; I selfishly like to be let in, as the reader, before or more than the other book characters. His shyness for being such a big dude was refreshing and endearing but I never reached a solid place of "knowing" his character. 

This line had me primal screaming/giddy/high: 
There was a reason he’d never gotten along with many men—these absurd power plays were too foolish. 
How bleeping amazing to have men relationships/dynamics called into the spotlight instead of the tired "women can't be friends because of jealously and/or competitiveness". I don't know, some justice was served for me with this line, lol.

It was a little tough to wade through the family drama and dynamics that steal the time and show from Sadia and Jackson. Tough because I wanted more romance/relationship from them but if I had gone in with the expectation of more contemp fiction, the writing and characterization is amazing. At around the 55% mark Sadia and Jackson's relationship heats up with some voyeurism and it is sexually on from there. It felt a little packed in (get your mind out of the gutter) with the sex scenes so grouped together but the emotional baggage of the sis/bro-in-law probably required the wait, I just would have liked them to have more talking/together scenes before.

Anyway, if looking for a fantastically written family drama with some explicit sex scenes this should be your next purchase. There were some Gabe and Eve appearances in this and I'm dying to see them together in the next book.

“It’s hard to make your peace with someone who isn’t around anymore. Or more accurately, to make your peace with never making your peace.” She smiled sadly. “But sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.”

Reading Update: 60%

Wrong to Need You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

Now that he knew she wanted him? Now that he could finally, finally voice his desire for her, even if only in his own head?

He’d have her.

Menu Monday

No Bake Monster Cookie Granola Bar Bites




Before you run screaming or get too excited, these aren't cookie dough. It's peanut butter and oats with some m&ms. They were addictive and I ate more in a day than I should have but also, no regrets. Because it is not cookie dough, you feel like you're being "good". Obviously, ridiculously easy to make (half hour) and obviously, ridiculously easy to eat



Lasagna Soup



I must have been in tune with BrokenTune because I made a soup too. The last two days were blustery as all get out and with our last snow fall, I figured it called for one last soup hoorah. I used ground turkey and thought the Italian seasoning with others gave it a pretty good taste. I think it only took around an hour to make and I'd put it slightly above or right at average.



Quinoa salad with spinach, strawberries, and blueberries



I loved this one and surprisingly, so did the bf. I was very leery of the dressing, but don't skip it! I didn't put a lot on my salad but drizzled it here and there and loved how the flavoring brought all the fruit out, such a great taste. Super easy to make and not time consuming and surprisingly filling. Would be a great thing to bring to a summer picnic/bbq for a side dish. Loved it.



One Pan Cheesy Jalapeno Chicken



Look, I love me some cheese, some corn, and some jalapeno, so I kind of naturally LOVED this one. This is one that after I made it and "presented" it on the plate, I felt like a f*ing chef (and not a Boyardee one either!). With the limes cut up on top, the chicken smothered, peaking out of the cheese, and the jalapeno popping, it looks like restaurant quality. The super duper thing about this also? Not only does it look good, it tastes restaurant quality, seriously. I loved all the flavoring coming together. Again, it could be my cheesy heart but this is a top meal for me. Took probably around an hour but worth it. Make this one :)



Salmon Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce



This freaking recipe. First off, I didn't make any damn homemade breadcrumbs for it. Panko. I thought I'd be cool and make the red pepper sauce though. ABOVE MY PAY GRADE. I've never roasted peppers before to make a sauce. I will probably NEVER do so again. I have a gas stove. With grilling clamp thingies I held the peppers above the flames. They liked to tumble out of the grip one to two, four million times. I dutifully put them in a zip lock bag. I don't know wtf I did wrong but the outer skin did NOT BY ANY MEANS just easily, dreamily fall off. I gave up. There is outer skin in my red pepper sauce. Do not care. Didn't notice the salmon had to sit in the fridge for at least 30mins. Twiddled thumbs while waiting because I had already cooked the noodles. Did this recipe take forever to make? I can't give a no or yes answer. Am I still making this recipe? I can not give a no or yes answer. I'm living in a salmon cake red pepper sauce Tide ad like world. Everything is this recipe. 

Here's the kicker, it tasted amazing. The combo of everything was so yummy, brought tears to my eyes. Amount of time to make and difficulty: a solid three years off my life. Would I make again? NO. YES. 



Any recipe (war) stories to share?

A girl with glasses will always be my fav heroine

A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

“I wanted you to do it all for me. I wanted everything to be all easy and simple. . . . So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault . . . because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself—”
“But I wanted to do it for you,” Mr. Murry said. “That’s what every parent wants.”

Still love the first half (maybe nostalgia at work) and struggled a little bit with the ending. I can't wait to see how the movie visually gives us these scenes. The beginning with the sense of adventure and all the fun characters we get introduced to and the second half with a little bit of darkness and horror provide some great overt and covert messages and questions about life, relationships, and what it means to be human. 
I thought the ending was a bit rushed, especially with Meg and the showdown with the red-eyed thing but still greatly enjoyed a challenging and daring girl with glasses leading an adventure. 

For more comprehensive read of my thoughts, comments, and quotes - A Wrinkle in Time buddy read

Here a story thread, there a story thread!

Deeper Than Midnight - Lara Adrian

You absolutely can't read this as a stand-alone; the continuing fight of the Order against Dragos comes to ahead here. 


The main couple of Hunter and Corinne are honestly only 10-15% of the story, the majority is bringing the Order and Dragos to ahead. This is done through many different POVs, with Lucan and Sterling Chase being the majority. Sterling Chase fighting going Rogue, is a good 30% of this with him almost feeling like the main character (his book is next). 


I love the world building and was completely into all the arc and threads coming together and weaving in and out. I was pretty disappointed in this as Hunter's story though. As I said, we barely see his and Corinne's romance, and I don't think we got to really delve into his character. 


So yeah, read this as just a world-building bridge in the series and the continuing war against Dragos and definitely not for the romance. 


A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

“No!” she cried triumphantly. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!”

Like how the tone changes to creepy/horror feel in these chs, a lot of rooted questions about what it means to be human.
More quotes/comments - Buddy Read A Wrinkle in Time


A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

“Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything,” Mrs Whatsit explained earnestly. “We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.”

Read some scenes that I've seen in the movie trailer. Doubly excited now for it! 
More quotes/thoughts - Buddy Read A Wrinkle in Time