Book Review: Hard As It Gets

Hard As It Gets (Hard Ink, #1)Hard As It Gets by Laura Kaye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Becca Merritt is in over her head. Her brother is missing and the only clue she has to find him is a name from her father’s old unit in the Special Forces: Nick Rixey. Nick Rixey has left his former military life behind and not on the best terms. He now runs Hard Ink Tattoo with his brother Jeremy. From the first moment that Becca walks into Hard Ink Tattoo, you are left wondering why Nick is standoffish and cold to his former CO’s daughter. The story slowly unfolds as the romance heats up between Nick and Becca.

It is hard to go wrong with Nick Rixey: tattoos, former Special Forces, and sexy as hell. I enjoyed the heat between Nick and Becca but if I am completely honest, it took way too long to get the heat level up to steamy but once it was there, it was fantastic. Nick definitely ranks up there with some of my other fave tatted bad boys: Rule, Travis, Cam, Jet, Rush Chance, and Four.

The best part about this series is the storyline. Romantic suspense is one of my favorite categories and I am glad to see Laura take it on in this series. When it appears that the Becca and her brother Charlie have been targeted due to some damning information that Charlie may have uncovered, Nick and his former team (Shane, Beckett, Marz and Easy) reunite but it is anything but friendly. The one thing all these guys have in common is wanting to clear their names so they band together to free Charlie and help Becca.

The book finishes with quite a few unanswered questions and you are seeking to learn more about why Nick and his brothers were “Other than Honorably Discharged” and why. The development of the secondary characters was mixed in so well with the storyline that they were all as enjoyable as the main characters.

I look forward to what is ahead for the guys of Hard Ink!

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Pokey Sticks….makes me miss Chapel Hill!

This recipe could not be more dead on the money for pokey sticks.  Reminds me of late nights at the sorority house with my friends!  These are a crowd pleaser and so easy to make.  If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch, I would suggest just buying dough from your local pizza place or grocery store.  Also, I use my Lodge pizza pan in the oven and let it get nice and hot then use my wooden pizza paddle to move it into the oven.  Don’t forget to use cornmeal for an easy transition!

Enjoy!

Recipe is courtesy of http://onepreppycookie.blogspot.com/2012/03/gumbys-pokey-stix-copycat-recipe.html

Pokey Stix
Inspiration from Gumby’s Pizza

For the Topping: 
(Note: I doubled this topping recipe as I used the entire pizza crust recipe below.)
2 Tbls Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

For the Pizza Dough:
Ingredients:
½ cup warm water 
1 envelope instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. salt
Olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Directions for the Pizza Crust:
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine. 

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. 

Directions for the topping:
Combine all ingredients except for mozzarella cheese. Spread mixture all over pizza dough. Top with cheese. See baking directions in pizza crust recipe above.

Christmas Came Early….a book to review before release date!

Out of Turn (Kathleen Turner, #4)Out of Turn by Tiffany Snow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the minute I cracked open this book, I was hooked and it was the same kind of hooked I had through the first three books of the series. It is hard to hold my attention when a series gets over 2-3 books. Tiffany Snow captivated me from page one. You could literally feel Katherine’s heartache and pain in the early chapters. We have all been there at one point in our lives and we can fully understand why she walls herself away from not only Blaine but everyone in her life. Her friends and family are concerned. She is drinking too much and eating too little. She is just surviving each and every day.

Right from go, someone is after Kathleen again and lucky for her Kade is there to help her out. She is glad to see him but she is hurt that Kade disappeared and is wondering why. We all know he had his reasons. This book really dives into Kade and Kathleen’s relationship. Kade’s feelings for Kathleen are his saving grace. He needs her and I couldn’t wait for him to have his shot at her in this book. The trip to Vegas is one of the hottest sequences in this series. The push and pull between these two is fast paced and heart stopping. I couldn’t get enough.

I am so glad that Ms. Snow made sure that Kathleen didn’t run right back to Blaine. Strong females that do not nose dive at the first sight of their lost loves are few and far between in books sometimes. Even though Blaine now knows the error of his ways, she doesn’t quickly forgive him. The tension between the two is thick and heart breaking all the way to the end.

Some of my favorite scenes are when the two brothers are with Kathleen. The quick wit and verocious banter between the two is fun to read. I can’t imagine having brothers fight over me but if they did, I would want it to be much as Kane and Blaine do throughout this book. The closet scene in Kandi’s house is one of the hottest scenes I have read this year…Every woman’s fantasy for sure!

Tiffany Snow, kudos to you for knocking this book out of the park. After Book Three, I couldn’t see where you were going to go in this one but now that I have read it….Christmas came early! I can’t wait for Book Five and Kane’s Book as well. I am will be heartbroken when it ends. You have officially shifted me to Team Kade!

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French Onion Soup Recipe

Well, I said I would jump around in what I posted on the blog!  I did a few book reviews and now onto a favorite family recipe: French Onion Soup.  This happens to be one of my husband’s favorite soups so we make it quite a few times when the weather is chilly.

I thought I would give you a few pics to show you all the steps.

You will need the following ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere
Directions


Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. 


Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. 






Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn (I forgot to take a photo of this step), and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.




When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.


Final product = Yummy!

Book Review: Walking Disaster

Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love when an author turns the tables and changes the POV. Trav’s side of the story is nice to hear and actually better explains some of the scenes from A Beautiful Disaster. I don’t know why but it is hard not to love Travis. The tough guy, balls to the wall, way he loves Abby is swoon worthy. Not to mention the fact that he is clearly a fighter. I actually love the fight scenes in this book. I would be fascinated to know if Jamie McGuire’s college experience included this late night fight clubs! The extra details about the rest of the Maddox boxes was great as well. Clearly, Trent is next up for a book and I am looking forward to it. The cherry on the cupcake for this book was the epilogue. I loved seeing where Travis and Abby end up. I don’t know a single female that doesn’t love a bad boy that ends up….welll….good!

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Book Review: Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between Abby and Travis is a roller coaster ride. We can all probably relate to it a bit at some point in our lives where you just can’t figure out why you are attracted to this person but you are inevitably drawn together. As a reader, I was worried in the beginning as I just couldn’t see how they were going to work out and we all know that these books are probably going to have a happy ending. I enjoy how their relationship and its ups and downs play out for the rest of their circles of friends and family. Sometimes, it is downright crazy how one person’s emotions can rattle a whole group of people.

I think Jamie McGuire really hit all the emotions that a college relationship can cause. It was great to see these feelings play out everywhere from a frat party, bar scene, classroom to the middle of campus. I can’t wait for the rest of the Maddox boy books!

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Sentinel by Jennifer Armentrout…love this series!

Sentinel (Covenant, #5)Sentinel by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say but wow! Jennifer Armentrout knocked it out of the park with the final installment of the Covenant series. Alex has been one of the best heroines of any book series that I have read. She is rattled at the beginning after her fight with Ares and not sure if she can be the god killer Apollyon everyone needs her to be. She is remarkably tough and brave and isn’t afraid of making hard decisions. She is a true fighter all the way to the end.

I have to say the ending surprised me quite a bit. It wasn’t what I expected but actually couldn’t have been better. I think Jennifer Armentrout found a way to make everyone happy which is hard to do for an author with such devout readers!

Aidan was his normal swoon worthy self. He couldn’t possibly love Alex more and would do anything to protect her. The scenes between Aidan and Alex were electric and I read a few of them over and over again.

I felt like this book was a redemption story for Seth. I actually loved his character and was angry at him in the past two books. It was nice to see that everything Alex felt for Seth wasn’t a lie.

The killer about these books is the action. It never stops. It is hard to take a rest while reading this series and Sentinel didn’t hold back.

I have to say that I am hoping Jennifer Armentrout’s acknowledgements at the end that includes this, “This may be it for Alex, but you know….stories never really, truly end,” is a hint at more to come from this world!

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