2208 Followers
195 Following
whiskeyinthejar

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

A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover)
Kelly Bowen
Progress: 50%
The Union of the Rakes 1 MY FAKE RAKE: The Union of the Rakes
Lora Leigh
Wrapped Up in You (Heartbreaker Bay, #8)
Jill Shalvis
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
The Shining
Stephen King
Progress: 30%

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: 50%

A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover) - Kelly Bowen

Sometimes my food pairings are elaborate shrimp meals and sometimes they are milk dyed green.

It’s a Monday, folks!
A Duke and a bluestocking who can’t forget about the waltz they once shared and Grinch hot chocolate.
Happy new reading week!

 

A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen purchase link

 

Grinch Hot Cocoa recipe

If you like minty cocoa, this is for you

 

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Miranda Liasson

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Angel Falls #3) - Miranda Liasson

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.

 

Kaitlyn has had a long time crush on her friends' brother and when they have one too many drinks at a wedding, Kaitlyn finds out her life is going to drastically change in nine months.

Rafe was engaged young and lost his fiancee and though not a lot of people know, she was pregnant. Every since then he has tried to wall his heart off but Kaitlyn always finds way to sneak past his guard. When a baby and a fake engagement force him into opening up to her more, he begins to realize that maybe loving again is worth the risk.

 

And oh, she felt the current between them, strong as always, brought on by camaraderie and banter, but sustained by pure, unholy chemistry.

 

Third in the Angel Falls series, readers have been waiting for Rafe and Kaitlyn to finally get together. In the previous book, we saw them hook-up and All I Want For Christmas Is You starts off with Kaitlyn realizing she is pregnant from that encounter. Previous characters from the first two books in the series make appearances here but mostly stay to the side as Kaitlyn and Rafe work out their issues. Kaitlyn's troubled niece adds some extra stress to Kaitlyn's storyline and I only really liked her addition as a maybe see these character in a future book with her good-looking and nice kid math tutor.

 

Kaitlyn was like sunshine, offering warmth and sweetness and… hope. The scary part was that she made him wonder, what would it be like to dare to step into that light?

 

Rafe's issues with opening up to Kaitlyn were understandable but as I didn't get any flashback scenes with him and his previous fiancee and it was so many years ago, I never felt emotionally connected to his heartbreak. This made his reluctance and dragging feet to accept he liked and loved Kaitlyn feel kind of prolonged towards the middle and end. The whole plot of his grandmother faking a heart-attack and their fake engagement felt like going through the motions of a trope, not many funny moments or tension emotions taken out of it.

 

Kaitlyn and Rafe do have sweet and cute moments together but the vast majority of emotional energy from the two is Kaitlyn thinking how Rafe is acting toward and what he is doing for her is from a sense of obligation for the baby and Rafe stays in his past hurts purgatory for so long, the pace and tone of the story isn't very upbeat.

 

Someone should make you feel special every single day.”

 

I felt like I got to know Kaityln more as a character and the heap of stresses she had on her plate, unplanned pregnancy, troubled niece, and trying to win a cookie recipe contest to help her bakery out had me feeling for her. I would have liked a couple more scenes with her and her friends to see her communicate and have her personality flourish in that way. Rafe didn't shine as brightly for me, he's a fireman but we almost never see him in that capacity or get a feel for him in that way and he has a certain cloud of moping around him. Like I said, these two did have some sweet moments together but I would have liked to have seen more of a definitive growing and marked decision to choose one another; the surprise pregnancy kind of made the decision for Rafe.

 

The ending added some extra angst that I wasn't sure fit the previous cozy, low-key tone of the story (obligatory firefighter in danger angst) and again helped make the decision for our couple to come together instead of showing a more emotional journey to get there. Except for holiday baking and some family get togethers, the holiday feel could have been stronger and since I'm a big dog lover, I could have stood for more cute puppy scenes. This had some checklist tropes and additives that didn't quite end up jumping out at me but this also had some quiet sweetness.

Reading Update: 50%

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Angel Falls #3) - Miranda Liasson

Friday night reading, snuggling in with this holiday read (look at that cute doggo!) and some puppy chow.
What is everyone else reading and snacking on this weekend?

 

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Miranda Liasson purchase link

 

Cookies and Cream Puppy Chow recipe

 

 

 

 

Hello, Cookie Dough by Kristen Tomlan

Hello, Cookie Dough: 110 Doughlicious Confections to Eat, Bake, and Share - Kristen Tomlan

I've never felt so seen and attacked before by a cookbook. :)

 

 

There was a great forward and introduction to how the author and cook came up with these safe and pretty easy recipes that can either be eaten in dough form or baked into cookies. 

 

I love cookie dough, so when I saw this had 110 recipes, I was over the moon. The recipes call for heat treated flour, which you can do yourself or buy (I bought); this helps make it safer to eat in dough form. 

 

Pictured:

 

Doggy Dough -  This had applesauce, peanut butter, honey, banana, and pumpkin in it. My doggy is a big boy, so I divided it into about a cup for each serving and got 5. I froze them and gave them to him as little treats. No surprise, he loved them :) These was easy to make and no hard to find ingredients. 

 

Cinnamon Roll Outta Bed -  Along with the dough recipe, there is a Bedhead Cinnamon Bark recipe and I highly recommend making that to go along with the dough. This was easy to make, you will need heat treated flour and pasteurized eggs (you only use the whites) but every thing else is common pantry baking ingredients. I was impressed with how much this did taste like a cinnamon roll! This never made it to cookie form as I ate the dough with bits of the bark broken off into it with delight.

 

Other recipes I tried:

 

Signature Chocolate Chip - A good old standby. I ate half in dough form and baked the rest. Ooey gooey goodness that was easy and simple to make.

 

Coffee Toffee - I made this for my bf and he loved it. There is a dough recipe accompanying the toffee but I skipped that and just made the toffee. Instant espresso powder and molasses are two of the ingredients that go into this and the dark, rich flavor was fantastic. You will need a candy thermometer to keep things from burning. 

 

A Hot Cocoa Holiday - A fun seasonal treat! There are two dough recipes, a hot cocoa and peppermint, I halved the recipes and made both. With the peppermint I made Pretend You're Put Together Peppermint Bark. These looked gorgeous when served to some guests and was so tasty.

 

Classic Red Velvet - I went ahead and baked these, maybe took a couple nibbles of the dough, and made the cream cheese buttercream frosting. Decadent and bakery quality. 

 

If you love cookie dough, this cookbook is a must. The heat treated flour and pasteurized egg whites make things safer while not taking away from taste. The instructions are straight forward and the vast majority of ingredients are common and easy to obtain; the heat treated flour is the only one I can see more of a challenge to get. This would make a fantastic fun gift for the holidays. 

 

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.

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

An Alaskan Christmas (Wild River #1) - Jennifer Snow

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.

 

Erika is a workaholic surgeon and when her father, who is also her boss, forces a two week vacation on her before an important clinical trial she is set to lead, she's not happy. Deciding to try and reconnect with her childhood bestfriend Cassie, she heads up to her hometown of Wild River.

Reed was always intrigued by his younger sister's friend Erika but she's even more stuck-up than she used to be, until he has to help her and his sister get home after a couple of drinks. Having her help on his Search and Rescue crew has brought them together but circumstances and secrets could keep them apart.

 

Their tattoos had been more than just words at one time and their shared history had to mean something.

 

First in the Wild River series set in Alaska, I thought the author did a great job transporting the reader there. There are a couple search and rescue missions that Erika and Reed go on that help set the scene and environment, also giving a good winter wonderland feel that fits the holiday title. While I thought the environment setting was well written, I struggled with Erika and Reed's relationships with secondary characters. It's at first set-up for Erika to reconnect with her childhood bestfriend Cassie, but Cassie is not around Erika for most of the book and I missed their friendship, even while this gave more time to Reed and Erika. I also thought more interaction between Reed and his friends was needed to create more of the small town vibe and give the story more life. I just generally missed secondary characters helping to round out and fill the story.

 

Crazy as it sounded, nothing else seemed to exist when he was holding her. Both an amazing feeling and a terrifying one.

 

Our leads Erika and Reed do spend a lot of time together, this definitely helped their chemistry but the middle of the book and the majority of their time is sex scenes. I thought the sex scenes did good on emotionally connecting the characters at times but, I personally, was looking for more of them outside the bedroom; I found myself skimming some of the bedroom scenes at times.

 

Reed and Erika did have chemistry and I liked how low angst most of the story was, the author did a good job of creating real world problems, Erika being a workaholic due to how her father treated her after her mother died and Reed sticking around his hometown to help his sister and mother out and search for his missing father, and how this created two different worlds that put their happily ever after in jeopardy.

 

And it surprised him that two people who were so incompatible on the surface could be so perfect together at the core.

 

There was a hint of secondary romance between Reed's sister Cassie and his friend Tank that will draw you into (along with Cassie's narcoleptic dog) wanting to read the second of the series. The main characters' relationships with secondary characters wasn't filled out enough for me and the sex scenes were a bit too abundant but Erika and Reed's chemistry and emotion was there.

Patience for Christmas by Grace Burrowes

Patience for Christmas: A Holiday Novella - Grace Burrowes

 

“Someday, Dougal wanted her to look at him the way she regarded that last half crumpet.”

It’s December and that means I crave holiday/winter wonderland reads and this delivered on those feels I wanted :) A 4 star read that had snowflakes falling, sexual tension, and mistletoe lurking!

Full review can be read at Historical Romance Magazine

I enjoyed this story with some Easy Turtle Cheesecake Fudge

Reading Update: Page 1

An Alaskan Christmas (Wild River #1) - Jennifer Snow

A mid-week pick-me-up/comfort Mac & cheese and book I’ve heard great things about.
Look at that little floofy pup on the cover!

 

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow purchase link

 

Slow cooker mac & cheese recipe

One of my fav mac&cheese recipes. A smidgen salty to me but so cheesy comfort goodness.

 

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman

The Earl of Mine - Kate Bateman

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.

 

There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.

 

Georgiana is desperate to keep herself, her fortune, and her father's shipping company out of her cousin Josiah's hands. Deciding that marrying a condemned convict, quickly making her a widow and gaining more power over her finances, is the best way to do this, she ends up meeting Benedict Wylde in Newgate.

A Bow Street Runner undercover as a smuggler, Benedict allows himself to be taken prisoner so that he can try and get some information out of his cellmate. With an Earl older brother trying to save the family holdings because of a father who gambled away the family fortune, he's in constant need of money. An heiress demanding he marry her but also making him sign a contract saying he can't touch her money, in the bowels of Newgate, seems almost Faustian.

 

First in the Bow Street Bachelors series, This Earl of Mine did a great job of hitting all the, somewhat becoming overused Regency London sights, Vauxhall and balls, and giving some new blood details like a submarine. The heroine Georgiana inherited control of her father's shipping company but reader's don't really get to see her in the roll, she spouts off nautical knowledge but for the most part, it was left to the side. Our hero Benedict is a second son who joined the Rifles and fought Napoleon, again a detail added to his character that could have used some coloring in. The first half of these two meeting and testing each other was an enjoyable warming story to fall into but the middle dragged with lack of sparks and the ending brought the focus on a Napoleon plot that never felt entwined with the characters, giving the story a lack of emotion.

 

What if we don’t keep our marriage quiet?”

 

I thought the details of our leads was interesting, Georgiana running the shipping company and trying to fend off her cousin and Benedict having fought for the Rifles, owning a gaming hell with his friends, and now a Bow Street Runner. While the details were there, the coloring in was absent. I thought the author did a great job giving us the setting but the characters fell flat for me. If you read a good amount of Regency historical romance, you won't find much new here (except for the submarine!) and the lack of emotion breathed into the story was disappointing. There were also some plot points that didn't quite tie together; there being no prisoners condemned to die on the night Georgiana shows up, why the prisoner guard would go to Georgiana's cousin Josiah, and even some of the marriage plot of reasons given to keep it a secret and then not keep it a secret.

 

I see you,” he said softly.

 

I usually bemoan series baiting characters but I actually thought Benedict's two friends, who are also partners in their gaming hell, could have shown up more, would have liked to have scenes showcasing their friendship and even Georgiana and her family, her sister and mother ended up feeling like caricatures. There is still no denying that the author has a very readable flow to her writing and there were moments between Georgiana and Benedict that flashed but for the most part, this felt like a shell of a story. I'll be looking for plot points that meld together better and more emotion and feeling in the next installment.

Reading Update: 20%

The Shining - Stephen King

Whatever Redrum was, it was here.

Perseverance pays off

 

When your neighbors give your dog treats.
He waited there just like for 10mins. One of them came out to just throw a treat at him, lol.

Reading Update: Page 1

The Earl of Mine - Kate Bateman

Sunday eating and reading!

This shrimp dish has Guinness in it! Hope it pairs well with this Bow Street Bachelor...

 

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman purchase link

 

Spicy Beer Shrimp

The tomato taste overpowered for me but I did love the Guinness taste in there.

 

Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Don't You Forget About Me - Mhairi McFarlane

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.

 

He chewed his pen and gave me a guarded smile. Something and everything had changed. I didn’t know yet that small moments can be incredibly large.

 

Don't You Forget About Me is a moving standalone that I would consider women's fiction with about 15% that could be considered romance. Told completely from Georgina's point of view, we're introduced to her on a night she gets fired from her waitress job and catches her boyfriend cheating on her.

 

So Lucas is now a grown-up who owns and runs places. I’m thirty and begging to work in them. The indignity.

 

Through Georgina's reminiscing, reader's learn that she was a typical student just wanting to be liked and that she had a secret romance with a bit of an outcast named Lucas the last year of school. On a night that was supposed to end up special for her and Lucas, something happened and they ended up never speaking again, until Georgina's brother-in-law gets her a job at a pub Lucas and his brother are newly opening. Lucas behaves toward her like he doesn't know who she is and even though that breaks her heart, Georgina pretends they never met too.

 

I shake my head and fight to get control of my vocal cords. “I’m writing about my worst day at school for a writing competition at the pub,” I gasp. “And I know they want something funny and light and easy. But my worst day at school. It was terrible. I think it might’ve ruined my life.”

 

I somewhat struggled with the first half of the book. Georgina's inner musings dominate and the tone from her reads a bit hyper, distraught, and rambling. Georgina's life is laid out, with her feeling like a failure, still dealing with dad's death, friends, and family issues; it's more structure of our lead character's world. This made it at times plodding for me to get through but when towards the middle when Georgina is settled working at the pub, starting to deal and interact with family, friends, and starting to write by competing in a stand-up performance at the pub, this opens the story up and Georgina interacts with the outside world more, bring in more emotion.

 

The price of keeping the secret, it was too high to keep paying.

 

While I would give the first half 2-3 stars, the second half is 5 stars all the way, rarely have I read a story that packs such emotional punches. In the beginning, Georgina hints at what happened her last night of school, I'm sure most will guess, but the second half she lays it out there and the author did a beautiful job of writing Georgina's emotions as she confronts, deals, and shares such an impactful night of her life. Secondary characters, like her friends and family, are brought even more in and the emotional ties between them added so much to the story. This also helps to bring Lucas even more into play and the later half is where there is a stronger romance genre feel. These two don't have a lot of moments together but you'll feel and remember each and every one.

 

Sometimes the truth is messy and difficult but it isn’t always best left. Sometimes it saves you.

 

This story is about all the laughter that hides the pain and relationships that can weaken and strengthen you. Georgina started off a little bit left of center character with a circle of family that brought messy emotional ties, friends that supported her and pushed her, and a first love that acted like he didn't know who she was. As this was more women's fiction, Lucas' character was lacking a bit in feeling completely filled out but the way he shows up in the end came pretty close to making up for it for me. I would have liked more of Keith the dog and the beginning to be cleaned up in terms of flowing better but the second half was pretty close to perfection. If you're wanting a story to make you feel, Don't You Forget About Me packs a heck of an emotional punch that will have you smiling through your tears.

Reading Update: Page 1

Don't You Forget About Me - Mhairi McFarlane

Snuggled in with sloppy joes and a good book on this cold and blustery day.

 

Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane purchase link

 

Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes recipe

These are a fav I love making, the blue cheese sauce adds great taste.

 

Angel in a Devil's Arms by Julie Anne Long

Angel in a Devil's Arms: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

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.

 

What mattered was she was standing, and that was very much in spite of the men who had populated her life.

 

Readers first met Angelique in Lady Derring Takes a Lover, first in The Palace of the Rogues series. A mysterious man had just arrived when we left the series and Angel in a Devil's Arms picks right up from that. It wouldn't be hard to start the series here, you'd miss emotional foundations between Angelique and Delilah (Angelique was Delilah's husband's mistress) but the author does a good job of revisiting Angelique's background and the romance between our leads starts here.

 

I’ve had all manner of experiences and known all manner of people . . . I believe I can say with some authority that people become who they are more because of the pain they experience than the pleasure. And you, my friend, I do believe you carry about your pain the way you might carry eggs in your apron.”

 

Angelique popped off the pages for me in the first book and I was highly anticipating her story. Almost all of the story takes place in the inn she runs with Delilah and except for a slight revenge plot, this story is focused on character driven and the relationship between Angelique and Lucien. If you're a reader of Long, you'll know how beautifully she can turn a phrase and describe emotion, for example: He paused. She would not be surprised if it was because he heard her heart beating. He’d toyed with the rhythm of its since they met. He ought to know it the way a violinist knows his own instrument. Gorgeous writing. The story has many sentences like this, but I still ending up feeling a lack of connection between our couple.

 

Imagine a woman who could shorten his breath and blank his mind with just one curve of her lips.

 

Our hero Lucien was born a bastard but his Duke father started off very loving until he married and then he shunned Lucien and his mother. Lucien started to act out for attention which caused his step-mother to be embarrassed about him and possibly is behind assailants pushing him into the Thames. He gets rescued by a passing ship and ends up sailing the seas for ten years. We're told this and I think I needed some flashbacks of his time surviving, fighting, and building himself up to feel closer to his character. A developing relationship between Lucien and his half brother helped to add layers to Lucien's character and I can't help but already wish for the half brother's book. However, there wasn't anything that really stood out for me with his character and Lucien ended up feeling pretty benign.

 

But what surprised her most was the gratitude for everything, including all the heartbreaks, upheavals, betrayals she’d so far known. The wrong men had simply prepared her to recognize the right one. The seemingly wrong turns had led her precisely to where she wished to be.

 

When Angelique and Lucien are together, they do have some good byplay but the sparks just weren't there enough for me. The bedroom scenes were there but felt strangely short and rushed for what Long usually writes. A revenge plot ends up sputtering out and I just don't think the characters and their relationship was strong enough to carry the character driven focus. Angelique and Delilah have screen time together, more towards the end and I missed feeling their connection like I did in the first. The inn's guest are all here again and provide some comedic relief but secondary characters couldn't make up for the lack of punch I was missing between our leads.

 

Living one’s truth, it seemed, was more liberating than the false safety of no emotion or no risk. It was just so much easier to do when you knew you were loved.

 

Long has talent and skill for writing and describing human emotions and complexities beautifully and truthfully, but the breadth of the romantic relationship between Angelique and Lucien was missing for me. The epilogue sweetly sets up the next couple in the series and I'll definitely be reading it and hoping the setting can leave the inn more and our main couple will have more scope to their relationship.

50%

Angel in a Devil's Arms: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

She knew full well that some wounds could not be vanquished. Some old wounds never did heal and you just learned to adjust them, the way you would adjust a burden on a long journey.

Reading Update: Page 1

Angel in a Devil's Arms: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

I love the look of the heroine but the hero and his awkward torso are, awkward.

Loved Angelique in the first book and excited to finally read her story!

 

Angel in a Devil's Arms by Julie Anne Long purchase link

 

Salted Caramel Rice Pudding recipe

As you can imagine super rich but so so good. I used 1% so a bit more soupy but second night leftovers absorbed more. Perfect rich dessert to read romance with.