Okay, I’m super excited about this giveaway. If you’ve managed to get an advanced copy of THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH, you’ll have seen a certain key scene using caramels.

Those caramels were inspired by these caramels, from Jacques Genin’s in Paris.

caramel being made Jacques Genin

Jacques Genin caramels

And I brought back a box for you! Well, one of you. Now these aren’t just your average caramels. They’re $90/lb caramels and quite a few people call them the best in Paris. (Which, you know how it is in Paris, means of course the best in the world as far as they’re concerned!)

With the caramels, one lucky winner also gets a full set of the Chocolate books up to now: THE CHOCOLATE THIEF, THE CHOCOLATE KISS, THE CHOCOLATE ROSE, and, of course, THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH.

So check out Smexybooks for the giveaway!


Permalink to Dal Nirvana

Dal Nirvana

Some time ago, I promised to share my own recipe for dal, in honor of THE CHOCOLATE ROSE. (If you’ve read it, you’ll know why. If you haven’t read it, can I just mention that Gabriel is one of my favorite characters? Hint, hint.)

I was making it today and remembered at last the request for it! So here is my recipe. If you make this version without the butter and cream for any reason but severe lactose intolerance, all of my French chefs will personally come haunt your kitchen and curse it.

Dal Nirvana

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato sauce or puree or even paste
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger (use fresh if you can)
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste (this is in the original recipe, but in my family we actually don’t use any)
  • water
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  to 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, try parsley)

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Rinse lentils. In a large sauce pan, add the lentils and fill pan with water to cover lentils by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the lentils open and are tender. Drain the water from the lentils and return the lentils to the pot. Add the tomato sauce, spices, water, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook, covered, for 1 hour, until the dal is thick. Check the pot from time to time and add water if the mixture is getting too dry. Stir in cream and cilantro last minute, adding more salt if needed.

Serves 4. (Kind of. My friends are pretty athletic, so always hungry, so if I’m serving 4, I double it. It makes good leftovers for weekday lunches, anyway.)

Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Nirvana Restaurant, Beverly Hills.  I originally saw it at Shockingly Delicious.


What do you think? Worthy of Gabriel? What’s your dal recipe?

Permalink to Correction to Saturday talk time

Correction to Saturday talk time

The talk I’m giving on Saturday, in Villa Rica, is at NOON, not 2:00.

So the upcoming events are:

  • Sat. July 13, 2013 @ 12:00 noon, Villa Rica Public Library (Villa Rica GA)
  • Sun., July 14, 2013 @ 3:00, Neva Lomason Memorial Library (Carrollton GA)
  • Mon. July 15, 2013 @ 6:00, Buchanan-Haralson Public Library (Buchanan GA)
  • Tues., July 16, 2013 @ 6:00, Ephesus Public Library (Roopville GA)

Chocolate galore! Hope to see you there! :)

Permalink to Some Good Books–What about you?

Some Good Books–What about you?

I’ve been having a really good run of luck the past couple of weeks in books, as I do my summer reading catch-up*, and I wanted to share some standouts with you.

(*When I am working on my own books and teaching, I often go long periods where I only look at my own work, because I am too deep in the story to pull myself out of it for someone else’s. So in the summer, I am often a reading glutton to make up for it.)

Here are two contemporaries that I loved for different reasons, and I have a couple of historicals to share with you later. What about you? Any recommends? Can you  help me maintain my lucky great books reading spree? :)

Up first on my end, The Story Guy (Novella), by Mary Ann Rivers. I’m mentioning this one first because she is a debut author, so let’s give her a little extra love. This was just AMAZING. On Facebook, I described this book as erotic, exquisite, and tender, so very true and so very heartwarming. I particularly admired the perfect strength of the author’s writing, the detail that sucked the reader in, made us believe. It is a novella and comes on sale today for only 0.99, so what can I say? Just get it! How can you go wrong? I was just stunned by how good it was.

story guy

Next up a full-length contemporary, from one of my much-loved authors, Virginia Kantra. Carolina Girl (A Dare Island Novel) is the second entry in Virginia’s Dare Island series, and if you haven’t read the first, CAROLINA HOME, yet, I tend to recommend starting with that, because one of the great pleasures of this series to me is how beautifully drawn the family is and seeing those relationships grow and evolve. I also just love the Carolina island setting here and sinking into it. And, of course, all this ties in with the beautiful love story that is the central part of each book. Virginia Kantra is a master of her craft, and she knows how to evoke people and places in a way that makes us both dream about them and feel how real they are.

Have you read these? Did you like them? What else are you reading that’s great this summer?


Permalink to CHOCOLATE TOUCH receives starred review from PW!

CHOCOLATE TOUCH receives starred review from PW!

I can’t believe the things I didn’t mention while traveling. While I was sporadically posting Roman bridges, etc., THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH RECEIVED A STARRED REVIEW FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY!

This is such wonderful news, and I’m so excited about it. Here I was thinking I must have told everyone a million times, and apparently I only mentioned it on Facebook. (In my defense, FB is a bit easier than a blog post when working from a phone at a rare hotspot while traveling France and Italy.)

Here’s an excerpt of the review:

“The emotionally intense third Amour et Chocolat romance stands well on its own…Both Jaime and Dom are highly complex characters, with layers of emotions, thorny pasts, and tangled relationships with family and friends. Readers will cheer for both of them to work past their issues and find their chocolaty ever after.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

You can see the full review here.

Very proud, and excited for this book to be out. July 30 seems like such a long wait!



Permalink to Chocolate Touch talks, July 13-16

Chocolate Touch talks, July 13-16

Remember, for the Adult Summer Reading Program Grand Finale in Georgia, I will be doing 4 chocolate talks-events over Bastille Day weekend. (See all the tie-ins there: France, chocolate, books, me!)

AND . . . early copies of THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH are supposed to be available! Exclusively at those talks! In limited quantities, I should warn, so if you are an impassioned fan, maybe you should slip me a chocolate bribe discreetly or something. (Just kidding! Well . . . mostly. Depends on how good the chocolate is, really. : ) I’ve been bought with chocolate before.)

Never fear, if copies of CHOCOLATE TOUCH run out, because, you know, it got a STARRED REVIEW from Publishers Weekly (have I mentioned that yet? oh, really, only thirty times? I can mention it some more, then) . . . well, in that dire eventuality, there is still supposed to be CHOCOLATE. As in the kind you can eat, not long to eat while reading.

Here are the dates and locations:

  • Sat. July 13, 2013 @ 2:00, Villa Rica Public Library (Villa Rica GA)
  • Sun., July 14, 2013 @ 3:00, Neva Lomason Memorial Library (Carrollton GA)
  • Mon. July 15, 2013 @ 6:00, Buchanan-Haralson Public Library (Buchanan GA)
  • Tues., July 16, 2013 @ 6:00, Ephesus Public Library (Roopville GA)

As a special note, the Neva Lomason Memorial Library is the library I grew up in! (Almost literally, yeah.) Where I read all those books about girl heroines doing their study abroad in France and all that. So I am very excited to return to my literary roots!

If you live in the area or know people who do, please spread the word! I’m looking forward to seeing people.




Permalink to Jasmine in Haut de Cagnes

Jasmine in Haut de Cagnes

Wish I could post the scent of this jasmine, too!

haut de cagnes jasmine

Permalink to Traces of Romans

Traces of Romans

The Roman bridge of Pont Tuve below Saint Cézaire sur Siagne. You reach it by climbing down through ancient overgrown olive groves, steeply terraced and lost among what has grown up around them.

pont tuve saint cezaire

Permalink to Haut de Cagnes

Haut de Cagnes

Pet food laid in=check.
Clothes brought up to Paris-grade=Sigh. Somehow even after more than a decade of doing it, I never manage to get this one down. And what’s with the 60 degree highs in Provence & Italy people? That throws all my packing off. I’m starting to believe in global chilling.

We spend a chunk of every year in France, and we’re off tomorrow for this year’s chunk! Provence, where I’ll be doing a lot of research for the Rose series, Italy, where we’ll be taking a much-needed break, and Alsace and Paris. I’ll try to post some photos from time to time, but it can get tricky! In the meanwhile, here is a little glimpse of one of my favorite places along the Côte d’Azur, Haut de Cagnes, which along with Mougins was a major inspiration for Gabriel’s town of Sainte-Mère (in THE CHOCOLATE ROSE).

What are your summer plans?

haut de cagnes

Permalink to Rose Salt in Nice, Just Because

Rose Salt in Nice, Just Because

In my continuing efforts to give you occasional glimpses of the actual world of THE CHOCOLATE ROSE and the Vie en Roses series, I give you rose salt at the Cours Saleya market in Nice, just because . . . is that not gorgeous?

rose salt nice

All right, is this one of my Amélie-style eccentricities, or would it be fun for people to have a little giveaway post-France of some of the fun little things like this you can find in the markets? Or a sampling of some of the many flower-flavored things that fill the flower region around Grasse?

(And I know what you’re going to ask for instead, but the problem is: Chocolate melts! I can’t send that in July. My attempts at cold-packing have been disastrous. And hot guys do NOT fit in my suitcase. Plus, my husband objects to carrying those suitcases when they try.)

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