featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Laura Haley-McNeil is an award-winning author of romantic suspense and women’s fiction in novel length and in short stories. Her work has been featured in several women’s magazines. She has studied piano and ballet and has been a board member of two community orchestras. When she isn’t writing, she jogs, bicycles and crochets. Learn more about Laura and her books at her website. 

Frankly, my dear . . .

Romance novels and movies amaze me. Usually we meet two people who have never seen each other before, yet some unknown force draws them together against their wishes. Now the battle begins. We as readers can’t wait to see how the force resolves the conflict between these individuals and draws them together.

My favorite hero and heroine introduction is between Scarlett and Rhett in the movie Gone with the Wind. If you haven’t seen this movie, you can view the characters initial meeting at the barbecue at on youtube

Rhett boldly watches Scarlett and her friend Cathleen climb the stairs for their afternoon nap. Scarlett is accustomed to men looking at her, but Rhett’s stare is different. “He looks as if he knew what I looked like without my shimmy." Apparently, that sort of stare was bold in the antebellum South.

Of course, Scarlett only has eyes for Ashley. She’s convinced he doesn’t love her because he doesn’t realize she’s in love with him. With a plan to capture Ashley’s heart, Scarlett sneaks downstairs, while the respectable ladies are napping.

Scarlett leads Ashley into the drawing room where she expresses her undying love for him. To no avail. Ashley will marry his cousin Melanie. Following Scarlett’s outburst at his rejection of her, Ashley leaves Scarlett in the drawing room to stew. Her temper boiling, she grabs a figurine and throws it over the sofa facing the fireplace.

Unbeknownst to Scarlett, Rhett is lying on the sofa and the crash brings him upright. Scarlett’s surprise that someone else was in the room with her and Ashley turns into indignation, “Sir, you . . . you should have made your presence known.”

He wouldn’t think of interrupting the beautiful love scene he had overheard. When Scarlett tells Rhett he’s not a gentleman, he informs Scarlett she is no lady, which he doesn’t hold against her. What classic lines! Can you tell I’ve watched this movie a few times? Like a million?

Alas, Scarlett rejects Rhett and chases after Ashley. Scarlett has to reject Rhett otherwise there would be no story for us. The rest of the movie follows Scarlett’s campaign to win Ashley’s heart while Rhett waits in the wings for her to realize Ashley isn’t the man for her.

I’d love to know the great romance couples who live in your heart. Please share in the comments below. Happy reading!

Hip Padded Bars

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. oatmeal

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 c. chocolate chips
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix first 6 ingredients together: blend sugar, butter and egg; gradually add flour, baking soda and oatmeal. Will appear somewhat lumpy. Place 1/2 of this in bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan. Then add the "Mixture" all over and top with other half of crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Refrigerate before cutting.

Note: Eat two so there is equal padding added to each hip.

Crystal Creek Christmas
When a blinding snowstorm shuts down the Crystal Creek Ranch’s cattle operation, the Whitlochs have one mission – save the cattle. ER doc Jake Whitloch joins in the rescue, but the form he finds in a snowdrift is no cow. It’s a woman, a woman who consumes his thoughts despite that two-carat diamond sitting on her ring finger.

Noelle BeauprĂ© thanks the rugged doctor for rescuing her from freezing to death and the Whitlochs for taking her into their home, but now it’s time for her to leave the ranch. She longs to stay with the man who’s determined to protect her, but she doesn’t dare. Her deadly secret is in hot pursuit. Any delay and she’ll endanger the family who opened their home to her.

Noelle leaving Crystal Creek Ranch? Jake can’t let her go, but how can he convince her he’ll do anything to keep her safe?

Note: This book includes your favorite Crystal Creek characters from Book One of the Crystal Creek Series and several new characters, including Max Whitloch’s children from his previous marriages who come to the ranch for Victoria and Garrett’s wedding. All Max’s children will have their own books as they pursue their quests for love.

While Crystal Creek Christmas could be read as a standalone story, readers will enjoy it more if they have read Guarding Her Heart, Book One of the Crystal Creek Series.

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Angela Adams said...

Romantic Characters that come to mind automatically are Katie and Hubbell from "The Way We Were," and Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox from "You've Got Mail." Oh, and, thank you, Laura, for the great recipe!

Laura Haley-McNeil said...

You're welcome, Angela! I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this dessert. It's something I can't resist. And great choices on the romantic characters you mentioned! They are memorable!