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Extra-warming porridge

 This morning, for the first time in the new house, I made porridge for breakfast. I was raised on porridge as a warming and healthy winter breakfast  — rolled oats, cooked with a little salt and served with milk and some kind of sweetener, usually brown sugar, or golden syrup or treacle. Golden syrup was my preference as a child — I liked to drizzle it over the porridge and make patterns. 

But these days, I don’t have it sweetened like that, and I don’t have it plain, either.  It’s still cooked with a little salt, but I also add in things like seeds and nuts and LSA (ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds) and any sweetness comes from dried fruit and whatever in that line takes my fancy. I call it “porridge with bits.” In my pantry I have a line of blue-topped jars that I filled myself, and I pick and choose from them. The contents vary. 

This morning I tipped in something that I didn’t recognize from a blue-topped jar in my new pantry. But I sniffed it and though I still had no idea what it was, it smelled lovely and slightly sweet, so I tipped half a lidful in, along with the usual bits and pieces. The porridge turned a pleasing cinnamon brown instead of the usual greyish beige. That’s it in the pic at the top. Yum yum, right?. 

But when I ate it . . . heat! Lots of heat! Chilli-type heat! Much more warming than your average porridge!

Of course, the large delicious-smelling jar with the tiny reddish brown bits was a jar of chilli flakes and chilli seeds. I love chilli, but not for breakfast. Usually I keep a few different kinds of chilli in small jars. I have no idea when or where I bought such a large quantity. And when I looked closer, the blue lid was not the same kind of lid that I keep the porridge bits in.  

This, my friends, is what happens when you get to an age of needing glasses after a lifetime of not needing them. I only put them on when I think I need them. But the truth is, I need them more often than I think I do. Is it vanity? Or laziness? I don’t know. All I know is that I should have been wearing them this morning.

Anyway, I made a new batch of porridge, and it was lovely, though not quite as tasty or as warming as the first. And I’ll be storing the large chilli-flake jar in a different corner, and maybe even putting a label on it. 

I might have to start a new occasional post of the perils of not wearing glasses! 

An on-line chat

In August, I’ll be taking part in the HNSA (Historical Novel Society of Australasia) on-line program — a series of workshops and chat salons from some of Australia’s top historical novelists.

My part is a chat about writing Regency and Victorian-era novels and it takes place on August 19th.
I’ll remind you again, closer to the date.

For more information about my chat, and to book a ticket, click here.

To see the full HNSA program, click here.


A Book Bub special

In the lead-up to the release of my newest book, my publisher, Berkley (aka Penguin New York), has arranged a BookBub special for the e-book of my very first book with them, THE PERFECT RAKE.

They’ve also given it a new cover, so if you’re thinking you haven’t read it, read on to refresh your mind — and scroll down to see the original and the new covers side by side. While I loved the original cover with its dainty shoes and ticking clock,  I love this new one too, because my heroine, Prudence, did have red hair — and it was a small but significant part of the plot.

On special, it costs less than $2. (I’m not quoting an exact price because as far as I can tell it varies slightly around the $2 mark, depending on what country you live in— for instance it’s 99P in the UK.)

The special has already started, and will finish on 18th July. (Scroll down for the buy links.)

I’m delighted, as it was a book of the heart, and the hero, Gideon, is still many readers’ favorite of all my heroes. These two quotes from the book might give you an idea why. 

“I would appreciate it if you would stop… stop… ogling me like that,” Prudence hissed, tugging her very modest neckline higher. “It is very embarrassing.” She folded her arms across her breasts defensively.
Gideon tried to look contrite. “It wasn’t me,” he confessed. “It was my eyes. They are bold and easily led and have no sense of propriety.”

  ~ and ~

“What if I shave?” he said. “I look much better when I’m shaved. My cousin will vouch for that—do I not look almost handsome when I shave, Edward? ” He didn’t wait for the duke’s reply but turned earnestly back to Prudence. “Do you think you could marry me if I shaved?”

You can buy The Perfect Rake here:  Apple * AmzUS *  AmzUK * AMZAust *  B&N *  GooglePlay *  Kobo * or try this Universal Link which should take you to your preferred e-book retailer. 

And here’s the blurb:  A phony engagement turns into real passion in this delightful Regency romance from award-winning author Anne Gracie.

Fate has lavished beauty on the Merridew sisters—that is, all save the eldest. But plain Prudence bears no grudge; she loves her four beautiful sisters infinitely. So when their abusive grandfather is injured, she concocts an ingenious plan to escape the clutches of their legal guardian. One of them must marry—and fast. All it will take is a little deception…

To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke. But when the duke unexpectedly comes to London she calls on him to avert disaster… 

Rakish aristocrat Gideon has a way of making ladies swoon. But he’s bored, and when Prudence arrives on his doorstep claiming she and the Duke are engaged, Gideon is so taken with the delightful spitfire that he hijacks her game, stealing a kiss or two along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is out of her depth with a handsome, devious and utterly irresistible rake and her plot goes terribly, deliciously, awry…

Here are the original and the new covers. Which do you prefer?