Friday, June 17, 2011


In my March release, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME, the heroine's mother--named after my own mom--makes scrumptious apple dumplings. Coincidentally (or not), this is my mom's recipe for the apple dumplings she used to make for my dad. She also made them for Hero on his birthday. This year, that's the day after Father's Day, but some years his birthday falls on Father's Day; for instance, the day he was born. And needless to say, my skinny little mom had a real sweet tooth and wanted a sweet dessert after lunch or dinner. If she made do with an apple, she felt she was doing exactly that--making do.

     Lena Mae’s Apple Dumplings

2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Make this first and set aside. Mix sugar and water and bring to a boil. When sugar dissolves, take off heat and add butter and cinnamon.

Make pie crust. Roll out and cut into six 6-inch squares. Peel and slice apples (about ½ an apple for each dumpling). Put slices on a square of pie crust. Add ½ cup sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pat of butter. Fold pie crust to center and pinch to seal. Put dumplings in long Pyrex dish (9x13). Pour syrup over dumplings. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. As dumplings start to brown, spoon some of the syrup up on them to help glaze over tops.

Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream. Pop in the microwave to reheat.

As I may have told you before (probably ad nauseum), I wrote this novella for my mom, but she died before I could surprise her with the published work. I know she and my dad are smiling down from heaven, though. They were very good parents and exceptional people. I had planned to make the hero's name the same as my dad's, but it didn't seem right, having him make out with someone the same name as my aunt. Euwww!  And I couldn't write a love scene for a character with my mom's name.

Here's an excerpt from SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME: The set up is that our hero, Matt, has been shot capturing two criminals. Our heroine, Beth, is feeling guilty because at first she thought Matt was drunk when he returned to the boarding house she and her mother operate in Central Texas.

Sweet heaven, he’d never known a more satisfying kiss. He tugged her until she stretched along his body.

When she broke the kiss, she moved her legs back to the mattress but laid her head on his chest. “Why’d you do that?”

“Needed to. For six years. Can’t say I’m proud of wanting you when you belonged to another man, but I won’t deny I thought about you.”

He felt her shudder with sobs, her tears ran wet on his chest. Caressing her back, he cursed himself for as big a fool as Jeffers. “Beth? Aw, honey, I didn’t aim to make you cry. Forgive me. I’d never willingly do anything to hurt you.”

“You didn’t. Matt, I’m ashamed. I hated the person I was when I knew you before. You saw me weak and abused. Heard Lionel yell awful things at me. When you came here, I was mean to you because you’d known me then. I didn’t want to be reminded of those times.”

She sobbed again. “As if I could ever forget them. Then, when you told me about him being dead, I—I felt relief. I’m sorry, but only what you’d be if you read there’d been a train wreck and people you never knew died. I must be a terrible person not to mourn him.”

“No, you’re a wonderful person and it’s not like you lived with him long or had seen him recently.” What a hell of a position to be in. How could he tell her how Jeffers died? He stroked her silky hair. “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m glad I found you. You’re a different person in a way but you were a sweet woman then and you are now. And a good mother and daughter.”

He thanked God he’d given Jeffers the money for her ticket home, but he’d never let her know about that. She’d hate him for sure if she learned her no-good former husband had borrowed the money from Matt to send her away in disgrace. It’d done her a world of good, though, and had probably saved her life.

She sniffed and rubbed her sleeve at her face. “I’m glad you came, too. I-I’d wondered what happened to you and where you were and if-if you’d met someone.”

He couldn’t tell her where he’d been, at least, not right now. “I didn’t meet anyone.”

“I’m glad. I, um, I mean, I’m sorry you’ve been alone all this time, but I’m glad you don’t have a woman waiting for you to come home.”

“Don’t have a home.” He didn’t add that he didn’t deserve one, that he’d had one once and lost it.

“Where will you go when you leave here?” She trailed her hand across his skin to rest it at the base of his ribs. He wondered if she knew how that touch affected him and if his erection showed in the moonlight. He bent a knee to conceal it.

“Don’t know yet. Guess it depends on how this thing with Ivan plays out.” He hoped Ivan was alive and pain free. Dang, maybe it was the sweetened tea, or maybe it was her being next to him. His own pain receded a little and life surged in him.

“I hope he’s all right. He’s a nice man.”

“Beth, I’m not a nice man.” No point in her thinking different or him trying to pretend. “I might have been once, long ago, but no longer.”

“You’re kind to Davey, and Mama, and all the other people here. You’re trying to help Ivan. Sounds pretty nice to me.” She sniffled again, and he wanted to comfort her, but she had to understand.

He pulled her up, so he could see her face in the light from the window. “No. I’m here because I have a job to do, not because of any higher intentions. And I’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

“A job? You mean helping Ivan is like a job?”

She didn’t get it. “No. Beth, listen to me. I’ve been assigned to help Ivan. Paid. It’s not something I chose to do because I have a kind or generous nature.”

“Assigned?” She pulled away and sat up. “You mean it really is your job? Who are you working for?”

“Never mind. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Instead of any reaction he could have imagined, she laughed. “Whatever it is, at least you have a job.” She settled back beside him, her body touching his from her head at his shoulder to her toes at his ankle. “I thought you were up to no good.”

Dang, she made him feel like a man-and-a-half. He laughed in spite of himself. “Guess I am up to no good, but I’m being paid for it. Not much, but enough to get by.” He turned to face her. “You know that kiss?”

“What about it?”

He raised himself on his right elbow and leaned over her. “Let’s try that again.”

SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is available from DigiBooks, The Wild Rose Press at, and at Amazon and other online stores.

Hope the man in your life enjoys Father's Day even if he's not a dad. Pets count, you know.


Tara MacQueen said...

Wow what a great story excerpt. And thanks for sharing the recipe!

Karen C said...

Enjoyed the post, Caroline, as well as the excerpt from Save Your Heart For Me; in fact, I just bought it and I'm looking forward to reading it! Can't wait to try the recipe...