Ok, before I get to the meat of this post, I want to congratulate Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter on their 4.5 star rating and “top pick” from Romantic Times for their duology Beneath a Waning Moon. It’s so well-deserved. Both novellas made my tingle parts sparkle. For real.
Is there a 12-step program for certain authors? Because I could probably use one. Elizabeth Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Neil Fucking Gaiman, Penny Reid, Madeleine Albright, Vonnegut, Austen, Dickens, Atwood…the list is long. These are authors I consistently read, re-read, am bowled over by, and get the shakes if I’m away from for any length of time.
I need a chronosynclastic infundibulum or some standing stones or some shit to transport me through time to make Vonnegut and Austen write MOAR. *Dickens, I love you, but you wrote a fuckton. We’re good. I wouldn’t want Great Expectations from the point of view of Estella, titled I Am What You Made Me. Ok, actually, I kinda would. TO VICTORIAN ENGLAND, I GO!!
A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Hunter fed my habit by gifting me with an ARC of Waking Hearts.
And I was over the fucking moon. I have been WAITING for Allie and Ollie’s story for what seems like forever and week. I love love love me a bear shifter. And a VIXEN?!?!? Let me remind you about the symbiotic relationship foxes and bears have in the wild…
THEY’RE BASICALLY BFFS, K?!
The bears (begrudgingly) share their kills and hunts with the arctic foxes, and even allow them to DEN WITH THEM. So what if Ollie and Allie aren’t arctic. They’re like the adorable desert equivalent.
I’ve been researching this a lot…because, you know, reasons.
Seeing the ARC pop up on my kindle gave me a shot of sheer joy that went through my entire body. Immediately, I searched for the puns that litter most bear shifter titles.
NOTHING. Not a single cheesy pun. Not “Bearly Ever” or “Bearly Hanging On” or “Bearly Dressed” or “Bearly Pregnant” or “UnBEARable” or even “Fox You.” Nothing.
These are all suggestions for any other bruin shifter book anyone would like to write. By the way, the sequel to Bearly Pregnant is, of course, BEARing Down, the third is Bearly Lucid.
Ok, so the book made me so happy, I was SINGING in-between fits of reading.
Specifically, the vocal stylings of one Mr Freddie Mercury. So, BEAR with me while I write a musical blog.
Upon first reading, I already knew how much I loved Ollie. He is so steadfast in the previous books. He’s just a hot, level-headed, sexy, kind, lickable, wonderful bearman who just wants…
I feel you, Ollie. I feel you.
And Allie. Poor Allie. Her husband is a dog (literally) and ran off with his tail between his legs, and left her, leaving her wondering…
And she’s a mom. Of four. That changes a person–inside and out–like it as not. It’s not always easy to deal with those changes emotionally. But Ollie? Ollie gets her and thinks she is all the better for it.
(Here we see Freddie Mercury dressed as a different sort of bear.)
And Allie knows that
That big old, bar owning bear is just the right person at the right time for Allie. And Elizabeth Hunter beautifully choreographs the minutiae of a family dynamic into the idea of a fledgling relationship. Her children are wonderful and funny, and everything four kids should be. Loud, crazy, fun, and demanding.
(with 100% less cocaine.)
Elizabeth Hunter does not shy away from giving her protagonists impossible choices or painful realizations. In fact, other than world building, it’s what I would say she does best. She isn’t afraid to kill her darlings or just beat them the fuck around. No matter what, it makes the story so much more interesting.
And Cambio feels like home at this point in the series. The joy of reading an Elizabeth Hunter novel is the all-encompassing submersion into the masterfully imagined worlds and living completely in that existance for the span of the pages. And when her characters finally get that happily ever after? They fucking earned it.
The first time Allie and Ollie come together? I was as giddy as they were.
Ollie rescues Allie and she rescues him right back. Isn’t that how it should be? The strength shared between the two reminded me a lot of those great love stories you hear about during times of war or strife, when leaning on one another becomes absolutely essential. As necessary as breathing.
The ending made me deliriously happy. I won’t give away any major details, but, I had major chest tingles. Major.
Five big, big, stars.
I think you know what recipe I made:
Easy Bear Claws
Easy Bear Claws
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert breakfast snack
Ingredients (5 claws)
for the claws
- 10 puff pastry squares or 2 sheets puff pastry cut into ten squares or ten rounds
- 6 oz almond paste
- 4 tbsp vegan or regular cream cheese–soft
- 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tbsp butter or vegan butter
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp water
- (or bean water+soy milk instead of eggs and water)
for the glaze
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1/3 cup soy or regular milk
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1 tbsp amaretto liqueur (optional)
- chopped nuts
for the claws
preheat oven to 350F
mix powdered sugar, almond paste, extract, butter, and cream cheese in a mixer on high
let the puff pastry come to almost room temp and stack squares two by two and cut them into the wide “C” shapes. Don’t cut the claws, yet.
smear the spread on half of all of the cut squares, leaving 1/2″ border all around
mix egg with water and beat
top with another cut square
press firmly on edges to close
cut five slices on longest edge
place on parchment lined baking sheet, bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown
let cool 15 minutes
for the glaze
combine all ingredients and whisk the hell out of them
drizzle claws with glaze and top with nuts