Home and Heart by Chris Quinton, released by Silver Publishing on November 26th
Deep in the Cotswolds in the heart of England, Ben Elliot settles in for a quiet Christmas house-sitting and caring for an elderly woman’s two dogs while she’s away. When her black-sheep grandson, Adam Prescott, turns up on the doorstep, Ben takes in the human stray as well. Destitute and betrayed by family, boyfriend, and Fate, Adam has lost all faith in others, and in himself.
Determined to help, Ben soon loses his heart to the other man and believes Adam has feelings for him, too. Then Adam’s ex shows up, offering him the world if only Adam will come back to him. Now Ben must choose whether to step aside, or reach for the only gift he wants this Christmas.
Christmas may not be a time of celebration for Ben.
Adam took a deep breath and peered at his reflection in the rear-view mirror. He’d tried to tidy himself up a little in a services rest-room, but a washed face and neatly combed hair couldn’t disguise his four-nights-slept-in garments and associated less-than-fresh odour. He should have at least changed into clean clothes. They’d be no less creased and crumpled from being stuffed unfolded into his suitcase, but they would at least have smelled clean. Cold and hunger had scrambled his thought processes.
Resolutely Adam climbed out of his car and crossed the road. Incipient panic and a desperate wish not to be there put a belligerent jut to his jaw, and a scowl drew down his brows. He pushed through the wrought iron gate and strode swiftly up the crazy-paved path before he could change his mind, and rang the doorbell. Dogs barked, one a sharp, urgent woof, the other a rolling bay that would have made the Hound of the Baskervilles envious. Dogs. Another constant in the past. Years ago, his gran’s canine companions had been a spaniel and a Labrador, both gentle, friendly animals.
The barking stopped and seconds later the door opened. The man standing just inside was around his own age, lean and good-looking, and totally unexpected. He wore a green polo shirt with some kind of logo on the breast. Adam was so surprised by his presence—and the throb of sexual appreciation in his groin—his usual defence response kicked in.
“Who the hell are you?” he snapped.
Chris started creating stories not long after she mastered joined-up writing, somewhat to the bemusement of her parents and her English teachers. But she received plenty of encouragement. Her dad gave her an already old Everest typewriter when she was ten, and it was probably the best gift she’d ever received – until the inventions of the home computer and the World-Wide Web.
Chris’s reading and writing interests range from historical, mystery, and paranormal, to science-fiction and fantasy, mostly in the male/male genre. She also writes male/female novels in the name of Chris Power. She refuses to be pigeon-holed and intends to uphold the long and honorable tradition of the Eccentric Brit to the best of her ability. In her spare time [hah!] she embroiders, quilts and knits.
In the past she worked for her local Constabulary as a behind-the-scenes civilian for over twenty years, has been a part-time and unpaid amateur archaeologist and a 15th century re-enactor. She currently lives in a small and ancient city in the southwest of the United Kingdom, sharing her usually chaotic home with an extended family, two large dogs, and sundry goldfish.
Website – http://chrisquinton.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Chris_writer
Livejournal – http://chris-quinton.livejournal.com – when they’re not under attack 😦
Favorite Recipe – Originally from Dan Lepard in the Guardian newspaper
I’m not a cook – that would be my daughter in law in our household, and she doesn’t follow recipes. She’s one of those naturally talented, By Guess And by God[dess] cooks, who add and tweak and end up with something amazing. So this is the base she started from. Her version was amazing but as she never makes notes either and can’t remember what she did at the time, I can’t guarantee this will turn out the same as hers.
SOUR CHERRY STOLLEN
100g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
finely grated zest of an orange
1/2 tsp each ground cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
1/2 tsp salt
150g quark or natural fromage frais
1 medium egg 325g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
150g sour cherries #
rum, melted butter and icing sugar
Beat the butter, sugar, zest, spices and salt until smooth then beat in the egg and quark [or fromage frais].
Mix in the flour, baking powder, almonds and cherries to a soft even mixed dough then pat out on a floured worktop to an oval roughly 20cm long by 15cm deep. Roll the marzipan 18cm long, lay this in the middle then fold the dough in half and seal it with a little water.
Place on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper, heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/gas 5 and bake for about 40 minutes until just golden and baked when a skewer is poked in.
As soon as it’s out brush it with rum, then heavily with melted butter, then when cold with even more butter. Finally dredge it heavily with icing sugar, wrap well and leave a week to mature.