I am delighted to announce that my debut book for the Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance Line called ‘Always the ridesmaid’ was rolled out from July 2009 in the USA and UK.
Some lucky people have already read the book. Here is what they have to say:
ROMANTIC TIMES: 4 stars. “Compelling – A page Turner. Complex characters with terrific chemistry…a delightful effort from a new author to watch.”
PINK HEART SOCIETY: 5 stars. “I look forward to reading this author’s next release … and her next … and her next. It truly is a stunning debut with characters that will remain in your thoughts long after you have closed the book.”
CATAROMANCE: “Nina Harrington’s debut novel for Harlequin Romance is absolutely wonderful! Written with assurance and confidence, Always the Bridesmaid is a multi-layered tale of new beginnings and second chances that features characters that are so richly drawn that they leap off the pages and will linger in readers’ minds long after the last page is turned.
Poignant, absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable, Always the Bridesmaid heralds the beginning of an exciting career for a terrific new voice in category romance: Nina Harrington!”
FEATURED BOOK: CATAROMANCE http://cataromance.com/?p=2339
ROMANCE JUNKIES: Amy Edler is strong, independent and emotionally battered, which could represent any woman in our society. Her ability to be in control and her confidence battles with her insecurities and by a quarter of the way through the book, you will find yourself cheering her on. Her battles go beyond running a bakery and dealing with the attraction of a man.
Nina Harrington does an excellent job in building the tension of this book to the point that you do not have a choice but to read it all the way through to make sure Amy is going to be all right.
DEAR AUTHOR:[ e-book review] This is the second charming book I’ve read of yours I’ve read. The CEO hero isn’t a cad or bounder, the baker heroine is dedicated to what she does – and I’d love to try her strudel, the action is short, sweet and to the point and I had a good time reading it, thank you very much. …..This is a funny, happy book which doesn’t solve world hunger but does entertain delightfully. I breezed through it, enjoyed the two leads and am glad that through eharlequin, I can catch up on not only what you’re writing now but your backlist as well.
“Always the Bridesmaid” is very special to me, since it is my very first published book!
I am thrilled and excited to be joining the talented family of Harlequin Mills and Boon authors.
Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and I come from a long line of home bakers. I can clearly remember arriving home from school to a table laden with delicious cakes and savouries. A real English tea! It is little wonder that food features so prominently in my writing.
I do hope that you enjoy Amy and Jared’s story, which is set in a bakery in London specialising in wonderful Austrian cakes.
About the Book
Amy Edler is a baker – not a wedding planner!
But along with making her best friend’s wedding cake, Amy finds herself planning the wedding – with only her friend’s disapproving big brother to help!
Gorgeous building entrepreneur Jared Shaw hasn’t made his millions letting other people run the show – so, although he’s normally allergic to weddings, he’s rolled up his sleeves and is helping sweet and sexy Amy with every last detail!
And his last job is to buy the bridesmaid the perfect gift…
“Always the Bridesmaid” will be available in the UK and North America from July 2009
Readers in the UK can read the book either as part of the Mills and Boon Reader Subscription Service or purchase it Online from sites such as:
- Mills and Boon
North American Readers may purchase their copy from their favourite Bookstore.
Amy Edler had three problems. All female. And all of them were demanding her attention at that very minute – or there would be tears. Added to that, she had a telephone crammed between her shoulder blade and her ear, a bakery full of customers, and the air conditioning had chosen the hottest day in June to start playing the maracas.
It has been Trixi’s idea to offer two of Amy’s problems a chance to ice the chocolate cup cakes – a treat for the other girls at the children’s home.
Only this was real chocolate icing. And these two problems were eleven years old.
Amy tried to catch Trixi’s eye, but her catering student was too busy chatting to the last of the customers for the day to help her judge the best iced cup cake contest.
She looked down at the trembling lip of the taller girl, glanced swiftly at the still liquid icing, which had flooded the paper cases and pooled out over the plate, and decided that her phone call could wait.
‘I think these cakes were too warm from the oven, but look at that shine! They look delicious.’
The little girl gave a warm, closed mouthed grin and shrugged her shoulders in delight. But then her friend started sniffing. She had decided to freeze the icing to help it set and now two thick slabs of brown fudge lay on top of each cake.
Amy quickly scooped up the plate, popped it into the microwave for twenty seconds, then spread the now soft luscious frosting into smooth layers.
Their owner’s mouth formed a perfect ‘Wow’, and then broke into a toothy grin.
Amy bent down to whisper ‘I won’t tell if you don’t. They’re perfect! And well done for thinking ahead.’ She stood up, head high.
‘I don’t think I can judge this icing properly today because of the heat – but how about next time? Was that a yes? Brilliant. Now, I would be in serious trouble if I let you go home like that, so it’s time to wash your fingers. Go on – I’ll guard your cakes!’
She couldn’t help but grin as the delighted little girls joined their pals in a gaggle of excited chatter, filling the room instantly with laughter.
This was just how she had imagined it would be.
Her bakery and her kitchen filled with happy children.
A sigh escaped from somewhere deep inside before she swallowed it down.
One day soon.
She knew she could offer a child a loving home. But first she had to pass the assessment process and prove that she could be a responsible single parent before she could even hope to adopt.
Amy dropped her shoulders and gave herself a mental shake. No time to dwell on that dream. Not at six o’clock on a Friday afternoon, when she still had to deal with problem female number three.
Which, in theory, should not have been a problem at all, since her friend Lucy Shaw had gone out of her way to find the most experienced wedding planner in London to organise her big day.
Pity that this planner was not answering any of her telephones.
Amy counted out the beeps on the answering service. ‘Hello Clarissa, it’s Amy Edler here, at Edlers Bakery. Sorry to hassle you, but you did say that you would get back to me about the orchids for the Shaw- Gerard wedding. Please call me as soon as you can.’ Then she added a cheery, ‘Thank you!’
Amy exhaled a slow calming breath, before squeezing her eyes tight shut, and pressing the cool telephone to her forehead.
I have the situation under control. The wedding is not until next Saturday.
The cake is going to be perfect. The wedding is going to be perfect.
I can make sugar orchids in any colour Lucy likes. Not a problem.
And I will be transformed from a humble baker into a lovely bridesmaid.
This was going to have to be her mantra for the next seven days.
Of course, it was entirely her own fault for offering to make Lucy’s wedding cake in the first place. The perfect cake, as her personal wedding present for two of the best friends she had in this world.
It had to be chocolate of course. No dried fruit thank you. Shudder.
Decorated with sugar flowers the same colour as Lucy’s bouquet – but no sludgy icing to drip on the designer wedding dress.
And three tiers, made from different types of chocolate – all organic of course.
Thank you for the sleepless nights Lucy.
A peal of bright girly laughter broke through her thoughts, and Amy opened her eyes as the last girls from her after-school club waved on their way out, their arms laden with cup cakes and muffins, as their care worker tried her hardest to persuade them to get back to the home for dinner. It was like herding cats.
‘Make sure some of those make it back!’
‘Not a chance. Sorry we can’t stay to clear up,’ the flustered care worker answered.
Amy grinned back as the gigglers swept out of the kitchen and into the shop, taking with them the life and energy she loved, and leaving behind … Oh dear.
With one shake of the head she was on her feet. Time to get busy.
Jared Shaw weaved his way along the pavement crammed with commuters rushing to get home on a hot Friday evening, before taking advantage of a red traffic light to jog across the road between the cars, messenger bikes and cabs to a row of three small shops.
Not that much had changed over the past eighteen years.
The newsagent where he had bought his first car magazines was still there, but the ironmonger who had mended their leaking tap in exchange for one of his father’s silk ties had been replaced by a swish looking estate agency.
He couldn’t help smile at the irony of that.
Friends in the trade had laughed out loud when Haywood and Shaw had bought properties in this part of London. ‘No profit there, mate.’
Well, he had proven them wrong. Many times over.
But it was the last shop in the row he was interested in. Edlers Bakery shone out from the brick and stone surroundings, with it’s familiar navy and white awning.
How many times had he pressed his nose against the cold glass, jaw slack, gazing at the cream and chocolate treats, which might as well have been objects on a distant planet to a boy without the money in his pocket to buy them?
A giggling little girl on a tricycle trundled towards him on the pavement, followed by a man of about his age. She looked so like the young Lucy he caught his breath. Long straight blonde hair, blue eyes, and a smile that could melt the hardest heart.
Jared pushed back his shoulders, sensing the tension.
Perhaps this was a mistake? Too many ghosts lived on these streets.
There was only one person who could have persuaded him to come back to this part of the city.
‘It will only take five minutes to pop in and say hello to my pal Amy Edler,’ his sister Lucy had said, in her special pleading voice. ‘Just to make sure that she is not running herself ragged trying to organise my wedding. She has enough to do making my cake, and you are going to be in London anyway!’
Right. Thank you, sis. He had just worked a ninety-hour week. The last thing he wanted to do was chat to a frilly bridesmaid about wedding cakes when he was already paying for the most expensive wedding planner in the city.
He earned the money, and Lucy and their mother spent it for him.
But when could he ever refuse his baby sister anything?
She was the only girl who knew exactly how to twist him around her little finger! He had somehow agreed to take a detour on his way back to the penthouse apartment from Heathrow airport and make time to chat to her friend Amy, when all he truly needed was a good Internet connection to catch up with the New York office before they closed for the weekend.
Time to find out if Lucy had been right to trust Amy Edler…
A bell tinkled over his head as Jared swung open the door onto the terracotta-tiled floor of Edlers bakery – just in time to hold it open for an elderly couple who were still laughing as they thanked him, their hands curled around the handles of Edlers Bakery bags, before chortling their way down the street.
As he turned back to face the counter, his senses were hit with a solid wall of lively chatter, bright lights and the aroma of baked goods. Spices and vanilla, combined with the unique tang of burnt sugar and buttery pastry and fresh baked bread.
The overall effect was overpowering compared to the metallic bitter diesel fumes from the black cabs and London buses on the other side of the glass, and as he inhaled a couple of times to steady his senses he picked up some type of perfume – and not from the flowers he was carrying. Roses? Oranges?
He glanced around the room, his property developer’s brain taking in the cream and navy paintwork broken up by pale wood shelving.
It was a world away from the dingy brown wallpaper and cracked wooden shelves of the old Edlers bakery he remembered. Yellowing torn posters for flour and fizzy drinks had been replaced with clean smooth walls in warm colours.
The overall effect was modern, stylish, but welcoming. Interesting. He should mention the idea to his design team.
Someone clearly had an eye for texture and colour.
The bread was laid out behind the counter, but it was the display of cakes and pastries that had been designed to tantalise. Under pristine curved glass was a collection of amazing individual cakes, tarts and scones, which any French patisserie would have been proud of. Most of the trays were almost empty.
Right on cue, the navy curtain swished open, and Jared looked into the brown eyes of a teenage girl in a smart navy apron over a multicoloured T-shirt decorated with a strange combination of brown and white splodges. A small white badge declared that he was looking at ‘Trixi’.
‘Hello handsome. Those for me?’
Jared was so taken aback, that she had to gesture towards the bouquet of exotic blooms in his left hand before he realised what she was referring to. He had heard of casual customer service, but this took it to the next level.
‘Sorry. No. I’m looking for Miss Amy Edler. Is she available today?’
Without any further warning, Trixi turned away from Jared and bellowed, ‘Yo boss. There’s a hottie out here asking for you. With flowers.’
A disembodied woman’s voice shouted in return, ‘Leave the poor boy alone, and send him through, please.’
‘Amy’s in the kitchen,’ Trixi simpered in a sweet voice, holding back the navy curtain. ‘And if there is anything you need, I’ll be right here.’
‘Thank you.’ He nodded in reply, well aware that Trixi was ogling at the rear end of his fine tailored suit trousers as he squeezed past her.
Into his personal vision of what chaos must look like.
From “Always the Bridesmaid” by Nina Harrington
Harlequin Romance July 2009: ISBN: 978-0263869576.
Text Copyright: © 2009 by Nina Harrington
Cover Art Copyright: © 2009 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited and/or its affiliated companies, used under licence.
Behind the Scenes on “Always the Bridesmaid”.
The Food: Traditional Dessert Recipes from Vienna
Amy Edler adores making Apple Strudel and Sachertorte for her customers.
Although some chefs prefer to use Filo Pastry, here is a classical recipe for Apple Strudel, which is absolutely delicious served with coffee or hot chocolate. Viennese style.
Recipe for 10 portions
Puff pastry (available in your supermarket freezer)
1.5 kg apples (peeled, seeded, thinly sliced)
Flour, butter, cinnamon, raisins, sugar
Spread puff pastry on a flour-dusted tablecloth and sprinkle 2/3 of its area with butter-fried breadcrumbs. Spread the thinly sliced apples, mixed with the sugar, cinnamon and raisins (to taste), over 2/3 of the dough.
Drip melted butter onto the uncovered third of the dough, cut away the dough’s thick edges, and roll the strudel shut towards the uncovered side.
Brush melted butter onto the entire strudel and bake rapidly in a hot oven, frequently brushing on more butter, until it is crispy (ca. 35 min.). Sprinkle on powdered sugar before serving.
This recipe came from Restaurant Kronprinz Rudolph in Vienna and the hotel’s website is packed with details of the stunning location and many other recipes; http://rudolph.schick-hotels.com/en-recipes-apple_strudel.htm
Sachertorte is a chocolate cake, invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 in Vienna, Austria, and has gone on to become one of the most famous Viennese specialities.
The cake consists of two layers of dense, not overly sweet chocolate sponge cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and dark chocoate icing on the top and sides. It is traditionally served with plain whipped cream.
There are numerous recipes for Sachertorte available online, including one from British chef Delia Smith which looks delicious.
More Inspiration: Chocolate Wedding Cakes