Keli Gwyn
Red-hot Romance

Got your attention with that title, didn’t I?

I got Gwynly’s attention recently, too, but not in the way I’d intended.

Earlier this month I embarked on a new adventure. I’ve been a member of Curves for over a year, but I was unaware of the diet plan they offer until they promoted it as a New Year’s special.

Some of you know I’ve often referred to myself as a lousy cook. When I heard about Curves Complete, a bell went off. OK, so it sounded more like a kitchen timer, but that’s appropriate given the fact that I decided to sign up for the plan, necessitating that I spend more time in a room I used to avoid.


Those of you who’ve met me might wonder why I was interested in a diet plan. What you don’t know is that when I turned forty, I packed on the weight. Yup. Middle-age spread had claimed another victim. I spent two l-o-n-g years taking those pesky pounds off. Not fun.

This time around, it’s not about the weight loss, although I have lost three pounds of that hard-to-combat belly fat in three weeks. Not too shabby, huh?

My goal is learning to eat right. I’d been exercising, but I knew all that junk I was putting in my body wasn’t good for me. I finally admitted I wasn’t so much a lousy cook as I was a lazy cook. I’d used my flimsy excuse as a way to avoid learning how to prepare nutritious, delicious meals.

No more.

Getting exercise was the first step I took in combating my osteoporosis, but I need to build strong muscles in order to support my little, brittle bones. That means putting the right kind of food in my body.

Each week I create a meal plan suited to my needs. The recipes are awesome. I’ve fixed so many great meals the past three weeks that Gwynly is grinning.

But back to my story. . .

Red Pepper and Pasta

One night, I set out to prepare chicken with lemon-garlic pasta. I was surprised to see that the recipe called for red pepper flakes to be added to the pasta dish. Since I really didn’t know much about cooking, I’ve been faithfully following the recipes. In went the red pepper.

Gwynly and I sat down to eat, both anticipating another delicious meal. He started in on the chicken, but I went right for the pasta. Why? Because I love pasta as much as Garfield loves his lasagne.

Was I ever in for a surprise.

The pasta was hot. Spicy hot. And how. As a long-time Taco Bell addict, I’m a fan of food with zing, but this dish set my mouth on fire. It was grab-the-glass-of-water-quick time.

I mentioned to Gwynly that I wasn’t sure he’d like the pasta dish, since it was on the hot side. Being the supportive husband he is, he said he was game.

Since I’m committed to following the diet to the letter, I ate my full portion. Let me tell you, my taste buds were seriously singed.

Afterward, I consulted the recipe. The others I’d used had resulted in awesome meals, so I found this fiery fiasco surprising.

Um, well, the mistake wasn’t in the recipe. It was the cook’s. I’d read the recipe wrong and mistakenly added one teaspoon of red pepper flakes per serving instead of the one-eighth teaspoon it called for. Eight times as much.


Now Gwynly isn’t a fan of spicy food. I’ve spent twenty-five years trying to convince him how great Taco Bell’s fare is, but he’s not buying it. He’ll eat the tacos I fix, but the amount of mild sauce he puts on them wouldn’t begin to satisfy me.

But what did my guy do when facing that plate of pasta? He ate it. An entire portion. I told him he didn’t have to, but in his effort to encourage me, he choked it down.

I was reminded of a newlywed husband eager to please his clueless-in-the-kitchen bride. Gwynly and I are by no means newlyweds, having celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary this past December. But the romance is still alive. And sometimes it’s red-hot!


Do you enjoy cooking?

What is one of your most memorable meal fails?

How does your special someone deal with your culinary catastrophes?




Comment Link 14 Comments
Keli Gwyn
Repackaging Means Real Savings

Do you enjoy a great deal? I sure do.

We can take advantages of low prices when publishers repackage older books.

I have a 3-in-1 set of stories from Tamara Alexander I got for a song. Many other authors’ titles have been repackaged as well. When these are collections of full-length books, it makes them real bargains.

It’s easy to find such compilations on the Christianbook site, since they often feature them in special ads. Or you can search 3-in-1 or 2-in-1.

I learned recently that Barbour is repackaging several of the Bride/Wedding books in their Destination Romances line. The books originally retailed for $12.99 each. The package price is just $9.99 for two, making them a real deal.

Here are four of the upcoming titles:

Great Plains Brides

Great Plains Brides includes two historical romances:

A Bride’s Sweet Surprise in Sauers, Indiana by Ramona Cecil


A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas by Erica Vetsch.

Release Date: July 1, 2013


Waterfront Weddings

Waterfront Weddings includes two contemporary romances:

A Wedding to Remember in Charleston, South Carolina by Annalisa Daughety


A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island by Cara Putman.

Release Date: August 1, 2013


Golden State Brides copy

Golden State Brides includes two historical romances:

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn


A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California by Erica Vetsch.

Release Date: September 1, 2013.


Heartland Weddings

Heartland Weddings includes two contemporary romances:

A Wedding Song in Lexington, Kentucky by Jennifer Johnson


A Wedding Homerun in Loveland, Ohio by Cathy Liggett.

Release Date: October 1, 2013


Questions for You

Are you a fan of repackaged bargain books?

What great deals have you gotten on a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 set?


Note: I apologize for dropping off the radar recently. An extended family member was hospitalized unexpectedly, and I was a bit preoccupied. All’s well now.


Comment Link 10 Comments
Keli Gwyn
Recommended Read: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

Do you enjoy historical romances that tug on the emotions.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport will do just that.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

About the Story

While the rest of Chicago focuses on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow’s attentions are entirely on one small boy–her boy–whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.

When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s struggles determine her path?

This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.


My Thoughts

I met Charlotte Farrow in the first book of Olivia’s Avenue of Dreams series, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and fell in love with her as a character. I’d been waiting for Charlotte’s story, eager to see what happened to the spunky maid who stole my heart. While The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is the second book in the series, it’s not necessary to have read the first, although it was a good story, too.

Olivia does a great job bringing Chicago of yesteryear to life. Her attention to historical detail is impressive. I felt like I was experiencing the bustling days when the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was taking place. The clash of the classes adds to the tension Charlotte faces as she attempts to find a way to keep her son and her job. There’s plenty of emotion as she contemplates giving up what she values most in order to give her son the best life possible.

Charlotte is a strong character, but there are others who add to the story. Self-serving Sarah, a scullery maid given the task of caring for the baby, riled me many times over. I felt for kindhearted spinster Emmaline Brewster, who sought a way to ease her lonely life. And I loved Archie Shepard, the caring head coachman who longs for a better life–one that includes Charlotte.

The story moves along nicely, with a few surprises to keep one guessing what will happen next. While I enjoyed being a party to Charlotte’s struggle, the romantic in me would have liked a bit more interaction between Charlotte and Archie. However, this fan of history enjoyed those elements of the story greatly. I recommend The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow to readers who enjoy a satisfying historical tale with a side of romance.


Questions for You

Do you like an equal mix of history and romance,
or do you prefer one over the other?

Do you enjoy historical romances that
explore the differences between the classes?

Comment Link 7 Comments
Keli Gwyn
Next Page »