The Southern Chocolatier – Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate – couldn’t tell could you? I’ve been posting some absolutely wonderful chocolate recipes from around the web and suddenly realized that there may be some fans out there in need of a gluten-free cookie (I apologize for the oversight there). Here’s one just for you.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies will become your new favorite. Don't forget the milk!These gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are perfectly soft and chewy and are sure to rival your current favorite!Before trying these gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, I hadn’t really found a gluten-free version that I loved just as much as the traditional kind with gluten. My previous attempts were either gritty or lacking in chewiness. Being as I don’t have any issues with gluten, I decided to just be lazy and go back to making my favorite recipe.

When I decided to give it another shot, what I was really hoping for was a gluten-free version of my favorite chocolate chip cookies – the New York Times chocolate chip cookies. If you’ve never tried them, you owe it to yourself to make them! I’ve even made a healthier version of those cookies which are just as delicious.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are loaded with chocolate. Soft, chewy, and heavenly.

So I found a recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies on the Land O’Lakes website that looked really promising, but I did a few things more like in the original NYT recipe since my goal was to recreate those. First, I refrigerated the dough for 24 hours, which contributes to the awesome texture of the NYT cookies. Then, to get mega-sized cookies, I weighed out 3 1/2-ounce balls of dough. When they came out of the oven, they looked absolutely gorgeous but when I bit into them, I was totally disappointed.

They were extremely gritty and cakey. I remade version after version, all coming out dismally, until I finally decided to just follow the instructions in the original Land O’Lakes recipe. And they came out perfectly!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies are great for kids and adults alike. Everyone will devour them!
They’re not as monstrous as the New York Times cookies, but they’re just as chewy and tasty and there’s absolutely nothing funky going on with the texture. I shared them with a few people and nobody had a clue that they were gluten-free. And as a bonus, you don’t have to chill the dough because it doesn’t have any effect on the texture.

I’ve provided gram measurements for the flour and recommend using them if you have a scale. Most people measure flour a little differently and when it comes to gluten-free baking, which can be a little more finnicky than traditional baking, I much prefer to weigh the ingredients to ensure success. As far as making substitutions for the gluten-free flours listed, I’ve only tested these with the listed flours so I can’t say if any others would work or not. If you experiment, let us know how it goes in the comments!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

YIELD: 24 cookies

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

COOK TIME: 9 minutes


1 1/2 cups (240 grams) white rice flour
1/2 cup (96 grams) potato starch (not potato flour)
1/4 cup (30 grams) tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Note: If you need these to be gluten-free, make sure all your products are certified gluten-free.


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and creamy. One at a time, add the eggs and beat until well combined. Add the vanilla and then gradually add in the flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

4. Form balls of dough, about 50 grams or a little less than 3 tablespoons in size, and roll the tops and sides of the balls in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Place the balls 2 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until lightly browned and the surface no longer appears wet.

6. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Borrowed from –

Welcome to Fat Chance Texas by Celia Bonaduce – Media Blitz

Welcome to Fat Chance Texas Book Banner


Welcome To Fat Chance, Texas-highres“A fresh, heartwarming voice.”  —Jodi ThomasNew York Times bestselling author

For champion professional knitter Dymphna Pearl, inheriting part of a sun-blasted ghost town in the Texas hill country isn’t just unexpected, it’s a little daunting. To earn a cash bequest that could change her life, she’ll have to leave California to live in tiny, run-down Fat Chance for six months—with seven strangers. Impossible! Or is it?

Trading her sandals for cowboy boots, Dymphna dives into her new life with equal parts anxiety and excitement. After all, she’s never felt quite at home in Santa Monica anyway. Maybe Fat Chance will be her second chance. But making it habitable is going take more than a lasso and Wild West spirit. With an opinionated buzzard overlooking the proceedings and mismatched strangers learning to become friends, Dymphna wonders if unlocking the secrets of her own heart is the way to strike real gold.


Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas is available at Amazon


Celia BonaduceCurrently a Field Producer on HGTV’s House Hunters, Celia Bonaduce’s TV credits cover a lot of ground – everything from field-producing ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to writing for many of Nickelodeon’s animated series, including Hey, Arnold and Chalkzone.

An avid reader, entering the world of books has always been a lifelong ambition. The Merchant of Venice Beach, A Venice Beach Romance, was published August 1st, 2013 by eKensington. The dream continues with a brand new series called Fat Chance, Texas, which will be available May 2015.

For More Information
Visit Celia’s website.
Connect with Celia on Facebook  and Twitter.


My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

The Long Hot Texas Summer, An American romance by Cathy Gillen Thacker (Review)

Heating Up in Texas!

When Justin McCabe hires a master carpenter to help build his ranch for troubled teens, tall, gorgeous blonde Amanda Johnson isn’t quite what he’d imagined. But not only can she do the job, she has a thing or two to teach him about judging by appearances. And, more important, she has a knack for reaching the kind of kid Justin wants to help.

Amanda hadn’t counted on her new boss—all strapping six foot five of him—being so utterly irresistible. Working side by side under the scorching Texas sun, the two of them make a great team—in every way possible. The heat of summer is no match for the sizzle they generate whenever they’re together. But when a crisis forces Amanda to face her past, she’ll need to make a heart-wrenching decision about her future…whether Justin is in it or not.

Cathy Gillen Thacker is a popular Harlequin author of over one hundred novels.  Married and a mother of three, she and her husband resided in Texas for eighteen years, and now make their home in North Carolina.  Her mysteries, romantic comedies, and family stories have made numerous appearances on bestseller lists, but her best reward is knowing one of her books made someone’s day a little brighter.

There were times for doing things yourself and times for not. This, Justin McCabe thought grimly, surveying the damage he had just inflicted on a brand-new utility cabinet and the drywall behind it, was definitely one of the latter.

Frustrated, because there was little he couldn’t do well, Justin shook his head in disgust. Then he swore heatedly at the blunder that further derailed his tight schedule and made it even harder to prove the skeptics wrong.

It was possible, of course, that this could be fixed without buying a whole new cabinet. If he knew what he was doing. Which he clearly did not—a fact that the five beloved ranch mutts, sitting quietly and cautiously watching his every move, seemed to realize, too.

A motor sounded in the lane, and he hoped it was the carpenter who’d been scheduled to arrive that morning and had yet to actually make an appearance. Justin set his hammer down. He stalked to the door of Bunkhouse One just as a fancy red Silverado pickup truck stopped in front of the lodge. It had an elaborate silver Airstream trailer attached to the back and a lone woman at the wheel.

“Great.” Justin sighed as all the dogs darted out the open door of the partially finished bunkhouse and raced, barking their heads off, toward the vehicle.

The obviously lost tourist eased the window down and stuck her head out into the sweltering Texas heat. A straw hat with a sassy rolled brim was perched on her head. Sunglasses shaded her eyes. But there was no disguising her beautiful face and shapely bare arms. The young interloper was, without a doubt, the most exquisite female Justin had ever seen.

She smiled at the dogs, despite the fact that they were making a racket. “Hey, poochies,” she said in a soft, melodic voice.

As entranced as he was, the dogs seemed more so. They’d stopped barking and had all sat down to stare at the stranger.

She opened her door and stepped out. All six feet of her.

Layered red and white tank tops showcased her nice, full breasts and slender waist. A short denim skirt clung to her hips and emphasized a pair of really fine legs.

She took off her hat and shook out a mane of butterscotch-blond hair that fell in soft waves past her shoulders. After tossing the hat on the seat behind her, she reached down to pet the dogs. The pack was thoroughly besotted.

Justin completely understood.

If there was such a thing as love at first sight—which he knew there wasn’t—he’d have been a goner.

The woman straightened and removed her sunglasses. “I’m Amanda,” she said in the same voice that had magically quieted his dogs.

Justin stared into long-lashed, wide-set amber eyes that were every bit as mesmerizing as the rest of her. His brain seemed to have stopped working altogether. His body, on the other hand, was at full alert. “I’m Justin McCabe.”

“This the Lost Pines?” Amanda asked, taking a moment to scan their surroundings.

Working to get the blood back in his brain where it belonged, Justin merely nodded.

“So,” she said, still admiring the acres of unfenced grassland peppered with cedar and live oak, as well as the endless blue horizon and rolling hills in the distance. “Where do you want me to park my trailer?”

And then, all of a sudden, the fantasy ended. This gorgeous woman had not been dropped into his life like a karmic reward for all his hard work. Brought swiftly back to reality, he stopped her with a regretful lift of his palm. “You can’t.”

She pivoted back to him in a drift of citrusy perfume. Her eyes sparked with indignation and her delicate but surprisingly capable-looking hands landed on her hips. “I made it very clear to whomever I spoke. My camping out here is part of the deal.”

What deal? “It can’t be.”

She came closer, her soft lips pursed in an unhappy frown. “Why not?”

Embarrassed that it had taken him this long to correct her misconception, Justin explained without rancor. “Because this isn’t the Lost Pines you’re looking for.”

A flicker of indecipherable emotion flashed in those beautiful eyes. She regarded him skeptically, seeming to think he was trying to pull something over on her. “But how can that be? The sign above the gate said this is the Lost Pines Ranch.”

“The sign’s on the long list of things waiting to be changed.” A new one had been ordered but wasn’t coming in for another month. Which meant he would continue to have these mix-ups with nonlocals.

“Are you sure I’m not in the right place?” she asked with a frown. “Because…”

Justin shook his head, a little disappointed that this beautiful amazon would not be settling in for a long stay. He turned and pointed in the opposite direction. “What you want is the Lost Pines Campground, which is another three miles down the road, next to the Lake Laramie State Park. But…” What the heck, why not? Just this once he was going to go for what he wanted. Which was a little more—make that a lotmore—time with this sun-kissed beauty. “Once you get set up there, Amanda, I’d be happy to take you to dinner.”

This was, Amanda Bliss Johnson thought, the most bizarre encounter she’d ever had. Even if the tall rancher with the shaggy chestnut-brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes was the hottest guy she had ever come across in her life. From the massive shoulders and chest beneath that chambray shirt, to his long muscular legs, custom-bootencased feet—and ringless left hand—everything about him broadcast Single and Available.

Which meant Strictly Off-Limits to her.

She wished she’d left her sunglasses on so he wouldn’t see her dazzled expression. “First off,” she told him crisply, “I don’t date customers.”

Now it was his turn to look shocked. “Customers! What are you talking about?”

Amanda pushed on. “You called for a carpenter, right? At least, Libby Lowell-McCabe, the CEO of the Lowell Foundation and chairwoman of the board for the Laramie Boys Ranch, did. She said it was an emergency. That your previous carpenter quit with no notice and you only have four weeks to get the bunkhouse ready for occupancy.” She paused to draw a breath. “I emailed her back that I’d be willing to help y’all out, but only if I could keep my travel trailer on the property so I wouldn’t have to waste time commuting back and forth to San Angelo.”

Amanda fought her racing pulse and tried to stay calm. “But if that’s not going to work, I guess I could park my Silversteam at the campground. Assuming, of course, they have a space available. Since it’s the busy summer season, they may not.”

He lifted a hand. “You don’t have to do that.”

Amanda folded her arms in front of her. “Sure about that? Because just now you seemed dead set against me camping here.” Continue reading

Rescue at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels (Review)

The highly anticipated continuation of the  Cardwell Ranch Collection read by more than  2 MILLION!

Saving her once was risky. Rescuing her again may be fatal. 

When Hayes Cardwell arrived in Big Sky, Montana, for his brother’s wedding, the Texas P.I. didn’t expect to play hero. But ever since he saved her from a brutal abductor, he can’t get McKenzie Sheldon out of his mind and heart. As passion blindsides him, Hayes vows to protect the beautiful business owner from once again becoming the target of a killer intent on finishing the job.

McKenzie was drawn to Hayes from the moment she awoke and saw the tall, dark cowboy who’d rushed to her rescue like some Western fantasy. With his lean, sexy looks and fierce protective instincts, the gun-shy bachelor is already lassoing her heart. But can he protect her from a danger that’s much closer than they think–a killer hiding in plain sight who’s about to spring a final trap?


B. J. Daniels

NYT and USA Today Bestselling author B.J. Daniels was born in Texas but moved with her family to Montana at the age of five. Her first home was a cabin in the Gallatin Canyon and later a lake house on Hebgen Lake outside of West Yellowstone.

Most of her books are set in Montana, a place she loves. She lives now in a unique part of the state with her husband and three Springer Spaniels.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to play tennis, boat, camp, quilt and snowboard. There is nothing she enjoys more than curling up with a good book.

My Review:

B.J. Daniels writes great books and RESCUE AT CARDWELL RANCH is another one! The book starts off at a fast pace and continues until the last page, which is exciting for a reader. I have enjoyed each and every book by B.J. Daniels that I have read and this one ranks among one of the best.

RESCUE AT CARDWELL RANCH begins with Hayes rescuing McKenzie from a would be kidnapper and the action and suspense keeps you turning the pages looking for love. Other than regurgitating the book blurb, there’s not much to say. B.J. Daniels‘ writing and book sales speak for themselves. I’m giving RESCUE AT CARDWELL RANCH five stars.


Purchase RESCUE AT CARDWELL RANCH in these formats (click one): 



My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Pretty Reckless by Jodi Linton (Amazon Gift Card Giveaway)

Pretty Reckless Button 300 x 225



3D Pretty Reckless -PBDSC_1321










Welcome to Pistol Rock, Texas where everyone knows secrets last about as long as the sporadic west Texas rain showers.

Laney Briggs has long been considered reckless, but she’s turned herself around—she’s respectably engaged and she’s become a Pistol Rock deputy sheriff. Everything’s fine until a dead body turns up and her ex, Texas Ranger Gunner Wilson, decides to stick his boots into the town’s first murder case.

Laney will be damned if she lets Gunner trample all over her turf and her chance at a quiet, contented life. His seemingly endless ability to undermine her resolve and her libido was only outdone by her constant urge to butt heads with him. But when the bodies start to pile up, Laney has to ask the lethal bad boy for a hand—and a truce in exchange for his help.

Having an ex-boyfriend as an ally might not be the best idea, but Laney has always been pretty reckless…

Jodi Linton lives and works in Texas, with her husband and two kids. She can be found cozied up to the computer escaping into a quirky world of tall tales, sexy, tight jean wearing cowboys, and a protagonist with a sharp-tongue quick enough to hang any man out to dry.  She is currently at work on her next Deputy Laney Briggs book.



    • B & N


Giveaway:  25 dollar Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The station was bustling with commotion when I opened the door. Two men in black suits with Texas Ranger badges were sitting on top of my desk. I scanned the tiny room for Elroy. He was hunkered down in a corner in his black rolling chair with an overload of treats—a Butterfinger, a half empty bottle of Dr Pepper, and a Big Grab of Cheetos sat in his lap. Our visitors were apparently getting to him.

I strolled on over to my desk and leaned over the top of it. “If you don’t mind guys, this here is my desk.”

The older gentlemen tipped his ten-gallon hat and stood up. “Sorry about that, miss.”

The younger one dropped his chin, and he winked suggestively at me.

I took a deep, calming breath, walked up behind him, and shoved him off my desk. He looked at me, shocked.

“Don’t ever make me ask twice,” I said.

A firm hand fell at the small of my back and rubbed up my shirt. I shot around, staring straight into Gunner’s smiling eyes.

“I’d do what the lady asked. Sometimes she scares the shit out of me.”

The young Ranger nodded and moved aside, all the while keeping a wary eye on me.

I turned my back on him. “Saw you outside my house last night,” I told Gunner.

“Just doing my job.” Gunner winked and sat down on the edge of my desk.

“Spying on me isn’t—” I began, but the older, button-nosed Ranger wearing the Stetson moved into my view, arresting my attention. He was round at the waist, and his hair had seen better days, back when he had some. There was also a jelly stain on his left boob that I couldn’t stop starring at.

Nodding, Gunner tapped the outer edge of my desk in a goodbye or see you later, then followed the button-nosed man toward the back by the cell. Not only did I have to bite my tongue and play nice with Gunner Wilson in town, I was also being asked to let the Texas Ranger have free range of the station. I was a broken heel away from a nervous breakdown.

A little too quickly, Gunner reappeared at my desk, waving a piece of paper at me. “Want in on this, Laney?”

I snatched the paper from him. “What is it?”

“Bosley’s financial records. Take a look.”

“How did you get this?”

“Just came over the fax.”

“We have a fax?”

He grinned and winked. “Big boys are in town. You do now.”


This is a spotlight of the book only. I did not read the book and therefore cannot recommend or not recommend the book. 



The Cats of Savone by David-Michael Harding

Cats Cover FINAL“Most novels begin their lives as short stories.  Writing, much like any gift, skill, habit, or hope, is strengthened through practice, training, and exercise.  The short story is the stretching and dedication to a running regime long before the marathon.  It is the repetition of scales on the piano, years before the recital.” – David-Michael Harding

The Cats of Savone is an exemplary collection of stories from the pen of historical fiction author David-Michael Harding.  Eight short stories and novellas make up his first installment in The Completely Abridged Series – Short Novels for Busy People.  The title story is the PEN International Winner, The Cats of Savone, which follows a pregnant cat beneath a mammoth steel gate into the exercise yard of the Savone Correctional Facility.  The hardened convicts in the maximum security prison adopt the cat as much as she adopts them.  But an accident in the prison leads to murder and a host of tough choices for tough men – inmates and guards.

Black Men in Bright Blue traces the steps of ten-year-old Rachel Justice in 1864 while she explores her father’s plantation in South Carolina.  As she learns of slavery beneath the shadow of the Civil War, her secret knowledge of the underground railroad pushes her family and her young mind into decisions none are ready for.  Eavesdrop on the captain and crew in Forever Beneath the Celtic Sea as the story follows in the cold wake of the World War I German submarine the U-20, and its deadly encounter with the luxury passenger liner Lusitania in 1917.

The History of West Texas According to Henry Brass sits beside the bed of a of a old soldier, trapper, and patriot who is dying from consumption.  He hasn’t lost his sense of humor however as he relates story after story to a young man who cares for him in his last days.  Henry lived under most of the six different flags that flew over Texas and weaves wonderful tales for his caretaker whose own agenda is taken up by the old man.  Then move from West Texas in the 19th Century to another continent and another time in St. Alden’s where a classic fight between good and evil comes to life on a university campus.  An aged Guardian of the campus needs to pass down the secrets of a mysterious silver and the power of goodness to his grandson before night demons put an end to a magical spring and its unique life giving water.

Additional stories provide glimpses into the life of a man who has gone through a lifetime of labels – retarded in the 50’s, handicapped in the 70’s, and now with special needs – Jonny Archer finds himself on an unlikely trip in The Junket.  The Jazz Bridge chronicles the history and anniversary of an ordinary bridge in an ordinary town as something extraordinary happens.  The collection is rounded out by My Boo Radleyand the high school baseball pitcher who learns lessons from an old fan who the world viewed as a monster.

The Author:

David-Michael Harding is a life-long writer whose work has appeared in national publications and has been recognized by the international writing community. He is a collegiate writing instructor and former semi-professional football player. His experiences provide readers with well researched, crushing fast-paced action. Most of his days are spent writing from the cockpit of his sailboat, Pegasus, somewhere off the Nature Coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.


Savone is a hard-core prison. The cat comes to live at the prison. Why read a story about a cat that comes to live at a prison? The truth is, a story about a cat and the effect the cat has on hard-core prisoners may not be enough to draw the reader in. What does pull the reader into the story and then weaves a spell around them is the author’s writing. The writing captivates you and all of a sudden the cat and its role have you within its grasp and the story reaches your heart.

David-Michael Harding writes in such a way that the reader becomes enchanted with the story. He uses the cat and the effect that a kind and gentle animal can have on hard-core criminals; murderers. These animals bring out not only fierce tenderness and loyalty, but also the anger and violence that each of these men harbor down inside; and how the death of an innocent little cat can cause deep enough rage to make a man kill in revenge.

The Cats of Savone is a story about a cat in a prison.  There are also more stories in the book and the review, while not mentioning each individual story, is an overall rating of each. The writing is outstanding, and my rating is five stars…

Purchase at Amazon: The Cats of Savone (The Completely Abridged Series)

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson (Review)

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom. Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

  • File Size: 469 KB
  • Print Length: 281 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1426700709
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (June 1, 2009)

Author: Myra Johnson launched her writing career in 1985 when she sold her first short story while taking a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. Myra later joined the ICL staff as a magazine writing instructor, teaching hundreds of students the fundamentals of story and article structure, plotting, character development, and market analysis. She now writes full-time and is active in her church as well as local and national writers groups. Her manuscripts have placed in several contests. One Perfect Christmas won first place in the 2008 Winter Rose (Mainstream with Romantic Elements); Pearl of Great Price took third in the 2007 ACFW Genesis (Contemporary Fiction); and Autumn Rains won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript. Myra and her husband, Jack, have been married since 1972. Recent transplants from Texas to Oklahoma, they share their home with two love-hungry dogs and a snobby parakeet. The Johnsons have two daughters, both married, and five grandchildren. She currently lives in Broken Arrow, OK.

Website:; Active blogger on and

Click to purchase on Amazon: One Imperfect Christmas


How often do we wish we’d just said yes to someone and felt guilty because we put ourselves first? How often does the person suffer a debilitating stroke that if we had been there, we think we could have prevented? Such is the guilt that Natalie suffers from when she turns down her mother’s request to help put away Christmas decorations. What happens next is how the guilt can tear a family apart, and only forgiveness of one’s self can mend the broken-ness.

Guilt can eat away at a person’s soul and Myra Johnson’s ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS is an accurate depiction of real-life drama. We all play the “Monday morning Quarter-back game” and Natalie is consumed by the guilt game of would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.

This story is about a mother’s stroke and a daughter’s guilt. It really could have been any story. There are any number of scenarios that could be used with the same result. Guilt eats and destroys us and until we find forgiveness within ourselves, we run the risk of destroying those around us.

The book was very well written with a wonderful story. It was a story of Christmas forgiving and healing, and is perfect for holiday reading. I am giving the book five stars. Although some readers have indicated they thought Natalie was really selfish, I think it is an accurate depiction of human nature. Each person handles grief differently and must find their way through to the other side. ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS was such an example.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Against the Odds by Kat Martin (giveaway)

 This case may prove to be too hot to handle.Odds-Cover-(300by450)

 There’s silver out there: Sabrina Eckhart is sure of it. And when she finds the hidden mine on that big piece of West Texas desert, all of her financial problems are solved. That is, if she can find it. The man with the skills she needs is private investigator Alex Justice—a former navy fighter pilot and a current pain in the neck.

 When mysterious “accidents” start to plague their search, it seems Rina’s multi-acre inheritance might be more a curse than a blessing. And yet, there’s still something sensua

l about the heat…his arrogance…her stubbornness…being thrust into each other’s arms by danger… But the vultures are circling, and if they don’t watch their backs, the relentless desert sun could be the last thing Rina and Alex ever see.

Kat Martin



Currently living in Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the bestselling author of over fifty Historical and Contemporary Romance novels. Before she started writing in 1985, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, Larry Jay Martin, also an author. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. “I love anything old,” Kat says. “I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It’s fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era.”

To date, Kat has over twelve million copies of her books in print. She is published in twenty foreign countries, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Greece.

 From author about the book:

 The book was interesting to write, a different kind of story that deals with survival in the harsh, inhospitable desert, family betrayal, and long-buried secrets.  The characters had to overcome stereotypes and learn to trust and love.Alex and Rina are two of my favorite characters, so different on the surface, yet oddly suited.  Though it takes a life-and-death struggle before they begin to see the truth.

Guest Post


 Though I’ve never experienced Christmas in Texas, I imagine it’s a warm country celebration.  In AGAINST THE ODDS, set in Houston, the Christmas Season is the heroine, Sabrina Eckhart’s, favorite time of year.

 Born in the little town of Uvalde, Rina and her mom looked forward every year to the celebration–until her Uncle Walter died on his way to her house on Christmas Eve.

 It’s the inheritance Rina receives from her uncle–an abandoned silver mine in the West Texas desert–that gives her the courage to ask her long-time nemesis, Alex Justice for help.

 G.Q. handsome and obscenely rich, Alex is a private investigator and an ex-Navy pilot.  Rina met him when he was helping with security for her best friend, Sage Dumont.  Sabrina doesn’t like him, but she knows he’s good at his job and she trusts him to keep her safe.

 Alex is just the man she needs to fly her into the desert in search of her late uncle’s property.  Running out of money, she’s determined to find the mine and make it productive, even if it means putting up with the cocky jet jockey she finds annoyingly attractive.

 The book was interesting to write, a different kind of story that deals with survival in the harsh, inhospitable desert, family betrayal, and long-buried secrets.  The characters had to overcome stereotypes and learn to trust and love.

 Alex and Rina are two of my favorite characters, so different on the surface, yet oddly suited.  Though it takes a life-and-death struggle before they begin to see the truth.

I hope you’ll watch for AGAINST THE ODDS–out December 18th–and that you enjoy the book.  What Holiday Traditions do you celebrate in your family?  Merry Christmas!  Kat

Excerpt from Against the Odds 

Rina’s adrenaline was pumping.  The thrill of being so high in an open-air helicopter was a rush unlike anything she had ever felt before.  Add to that, flying with Alex Justice, watching his long-fingered hands work the controls, seeing the capable way he handled the machine, made her heart rate soar even higher.  There was something about a man taking charge, a man who was good at what he did, that turned her on.

Not that she would ever admit it.

Alex wasn’t her type and she wasn’t his and both of them knew it.  Still, she wasn’t dead and Alex was definitely eye candy and more.

She forced herself to concentrate on the search they were making.  They’d been flying for more than an hour, had located the property but not the mine itself–assuming there was one.  There’d been nothing in the will to indicate its location or anything about it.  Just the legal description of the land itself, three-thousand acres, five-square miles, of what appeared to be dirt, rocks, and cactus.

Her gaze followed the contours of the property.  Ravines scarred the landscape, and ridges of granite rose out of the sloping desert floor.  Chaparral, mesquite, and scrub brush dotted endless stretches of rocks and sand. 

“Not much out there,” Alex said above the whip, whip, whip of the rotors.

“We haven’t covered that much area yet.  Maybe we’ll find something that marks the mine.”

“If there is one,” Alex said, reminding her there might not be anything more than exactly what they were seeing–miles and miles of vast, empty desert.

The hours began to blur together.  Once they had reached the property location, Alex had begun searching in a grid pattern to cover as much of the area as possible.  The temperature was rising, the heat building inside the chopper, the afternoon slipping away.  Rina yawned and rubbed her eyes, which felt gritty from the wind and heat.

An odd noise caught her attention.  The whop, whop, whop had been so regular she’d been trying not to fall asleep.  This sound was different, a kind of grinding that had her gaze shooting to Alex, who features suddenly looked grim.

Sabrina’s heart stalled and a few seconds later, so did the engine.

“Alex, what’s happening?”

Alex heard the fear in Sabrina’s voice.  There wasn’t time to answer.  Instead, his years of training and experience kicked in and he did what he had been trained to do–slamming the collective down to neutral, taking the pitch out of the blade.  The chopper fell like a stone.

“Oh, my God!”  Sabrina’s voice rose even higher as she realized they were in trouble.

The blades were flat now, the wind whistling up between them, making them spin even faster than the engine, which had gone deadly silent. 

“Just hold on!” he shouted.  “We’ll auto-rotate down!  We’ll be fine!”  He’d done it dozens of times, knew without thinking exactly how to make it happen.  As the inertia built, he began to search the ground for a place to land, but something didn’t feel right, something was altering their approach while they were still too high to make a safe landing.

It was the blades, he realized.  Instead of moving at the speed they should have, they were sticking and slowing, jerking instead of spinning smoothly.  They were going to hit the ground hard.  Way too hard.

At the last minute, he flared the chopper, hoping to slow it as much as possible, hit a little softer, keep the helo in one piece, but the chopper was coming in too fast and the ground rushed up.

Sabrina screamed as the windshield shattered and he leaned over her, tried to cover her as much as he could with his body.  The rotor blades tore free and spun away, shattering into jagged pieces that flew like deadly knives into the desert. 

The chopper shook and continued to disintegrate.  After what seemed like minutes but was only seconds, the machine finally started to settle.  Alex popped his seatbelt and reached for Sabrina, eased her back in the seat and saw blood trickling down her forehead.  She was moaning, conscious, but barely.  From the corner of his eye, he spotted the lick of orange flames behind them, rushing up from what was left of the engine. 

The fuel tank was going to blow.  They had to get out and fast.  Reaching behind his seat, he grabbed his emergency gear bag, slung the strap over his shoulder, then reached for Sabrina, popped her belt and started to pull her out of the chopper from the pilot’s side. 

The effort had him hissing in pain, his body telling him he had injured a couple of ribs, but there wasn’t time to worry about that now.  Ignoring the sharp stab in his side, he pulled Sabrina free of the wreckage, half dragged, half carried her over to an outcropping of rock, settled her behind it. 

There was just enough time to throw himself over her, protecting her as much as he could, before the helo exploded into a ball of thick black smoke and searing flames.  The blazing inferno shot into the sky, and a barrage of shrapnel sliced through the air around them. 

Alex felt a sharp sting as a jagged piece of metal cut through his shirt and sliced into his back.  A second explosion ripped through the air, then the only sound he heard was the crackle of flames.

He took a quick look over the rock to make sure it was safe, then turned his attention to the woman on the ground.  Her face was as pale as the sand under her head, and a thin line of blood trickled from her forehead to her left temple. 

She moved her head a little and groaned.  Then her pretty blue eyes cracked open and she looked up at him.  “Alex…?”

The pain and fear in her voice made his chest clamp down.  She was lucky to be alive.  They both were.  Lucky he’d been able to make any kind of landing at all.

“It’s all right, baby, you’re safe.  I need to take a look, see where you’re injured.”

She reached a shaky hand up to her forehead.  “My head…hurts.”  She swiped at the trickle of blood.  “I think I cut myself.”

His jaw hardened.  She had hired him to protect her.  But he couldn’t protect her from this.  “Are you hurt anywhere else?”

“No, I don’t…don’t think so.”

Jerking the strap of the canvas bag off his shoulder, he set the bag aside and made a cursory check for broken bones, felt her legs and arms, which seemed to be okay.  He checked for neck or spinal injuries, didn’t find anything obvious.  There were nicks and cuts from the crash on her neck and arms, but aside from that she seemed to be okay.  Alex breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn’t been hurt a lot worse.

“I’m kind of dizzy.”

“You probably have a slight concussion.”  He held up three fingers.  “How many do you see?”


He checked her pupils.  They looked normal.  “You remember what happened?”

“We crashed.  I remember how scared I was, how fast the ground seemed to come up from beneath us.  Then I blacked out.”

“We hit pretty hard.”  To say the least.

“Can we…can we radio for help?”

“Chopper exploded.  No time to call it in and now the radio’s gone.”

Her eyes widened at the news.  She sat up a little too quickly and hissed in pain.

“Take it easy.”  He tried to ease her back down, but she moved his hand away and managed to prop herself against the rock to look over at the slow-burning chunk of metal, all that was left of the helo.  “What…what caused the crash?”

A muscle tightened in his jaw.  “I don’t know.  Something went wrong with the engine.  We should have been able to auto-rotate down safely, but the rotors jammed.  We’re lucky we faired as well as we did.”

Her eyes remained on the chopper, then swung to his face.  “You saved me.  You got me out of there.  I never would have made it on my own.”

He thought of how close they’d both come.  “You’d have made it if you hadn’t hit your head.  It’s no big deal.”  He could see by the set of her chin that she didn’t believe him, but she didn’t say more.

He pulled his cell phone out of a pocket in his jeans, noticed a burn hole in his pant leg, felt the sting where the hot metal had struck.  He had the same nicks and cuts she had, a few more, maybe.  His back was bleeding, but he didn’t thing the cut was that bad.  He was just grateful to be alive. 

Flipping open the phone, he saw there wasn’t any service, as he had expected.  There weren’t any cell towers this far out in the middle of nowhere.

Sabrina silently watched him.  Tentatively, she touched the growing knot on her forehead next to her hairline.  “God, Alex, what are we going to do?”

RTBook Reviews“Martin just keeps getting better and better! Her characters have more depth, and her plots are more sinister, as the Against series continues. Set in the sizzling desert of Texas and rife with mystery, intrigue and twisted family secrets, this entry is sure to earn a spot on any fan’s keeper shelf.”

My Review

           As always, Kat Martin delivers an action packed thriller romance in the form of Against the Odds. The book is full of macho muscle wielding men who stand by their women when they aren’t busy rescuing them from danger.

           The book included loads of action that captured your attention along with enough romance to keep the pages burning hot.

           Kat Martin does such an outstanding job with her descriptions that the reader is transported into Houston, Texas and the surrounding area as though they are part of the story.

           If you are currently a Kat Martin fan, you are going to love this addition to the series. If you are a first time reader, you are going to become a fan.

If you found my review helpful, please consider voting “yes” for my review on Amazon by following the link below. Thanks!! 


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