As many of you may know, our beloved sister hostess SHARON DONOVAN, tragically passed away on 11th April 2012. We who knew her, loved her, and were inspired by her courage and determination to face head on whatever life threw at her. When she could no longer see to paint she turned to writing and showed her amazing talent in the Inspirational Romance and Romantic Suspense genres, and her story 'Charade Of Hearts' was awarded the coveted Predators and Editors Award in January 2011.

This Blog was a source of great delight to her, she was one of the founder hostesses and she contributed to the fun and silliness in her own original way, and was kind enough to let her unique creation, the hunky butler 'Oliver' join us for our Friday romp and prepare 'virtual breakfast' for the guests on the following morning. It's beyond hard to have to go on without her, but we know that she would have been the first to insist that 'the show must go on.' She is, and will always be with us in spirit.
Sharon, dear friend, we will never forget you.
The Author Roast and Toast is part of the legacy you left us. Let's raise a Toast to you as well as all our guests.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Paula Martin's Violet strewn barn dance

Situated beside a vast lake, the rustic barn lit with a hundred flickering lanterns holds sway over the nearby landscape.  A gentle breeze wafts from the water, cooling the heated bodies inside.

Mary leans over the buffet table, fairly slavering about the wondrous repast. “Look at this! Oh Yum!” She points to a delicacy. “What is that?”

Rum nicky pud
Lyn dips a finger in and takes a wee taste. “It’s Cumberland rum nicky pud with crème fraiche!”

 “And this?” Patsy waves at a  stack of pale brown objects.

 “Don’t you know anything?” Lyn chuckles. “That’s  Cumbrian oakcakes  I adore them!”

      Sharon sniffs, a smile wreathes her lips.  “Everything smells heavenly!”

Cumberland sausage

Oh the delicious odors emanating from the plates! Makeshift tables of rough sawn boards set atop sawhorses are lined with Cumberland sausage and mashed potatoes, mushy peas, Westmorland mutton and potato pie with chips, more mushy peas, Lancashire Hot Pot with beetroot, red cabbage and pickled onions.
Lancashire hotpot
Pie, chips and mushy peas


 - and for dessert - Grasmere gingerbread,

Kendall mint cake

Cumberland rum butter pudding, Quiggins triple chocolate pudding and Kendal Mint cake. 

In a far corner, the bulk of the males are busy sampling the local libations - Damson and sloe gin and blackberry liqueur. An assortment of local beers are offered but Hawkshead Brewery Prime Ale and Nettle beer seem to be the drinks of choice.
 “This is my kind of place!” Patsy claps her hands. “I grew up in farming communities and a barn dance was regular fodder.”

Paula joins the group. “You haven’t been to a barn dance until you’ve been to one in England’s Lake District. I plan on getting you all on the dance floor and doing the Cumberland Square Eight or Strip the Willow! Oooooo, it will be so fun!” 
   “Dancing,I’m all for that” Sharon exclaims. “Ladies, the night is young and the men are too! !”

Handsome Oliver strolls over leading Nibbie on a chain, Hampy tucked under his arm and Cuddles perched on his shoulder. 

“Let’s just see if these young men can keep up with us mature women.”  Mary struts onto the dance floor eyeing the selection of males. She points to a smiling young man holding a mug of ale. 

“You there! Let’s dance!” He sets down his mug. “That’s a nice set you’ve got there!”

“Wha….!” Mary exclaims, blushing.

“Your pets,” the young man explains.

Oliver ties Nibbie to a post then sets Hampy and Cuddles down.  He offers Sharon his arm. 

“The first dance is yours my lady!”

A mountain of a man dressed in a kilt grabs Lyn, literally hauling her onto the dance floor. Lyn’s eyes bug out! She trips but he catches her with ease.

“Let’s dance little lady,” he roars. Dragging her behind, he throws himself into the crowd.

“What about me?” Patsy scans the available dance partners. “I need a guy who can keep up with me!”

From the center of the male pod, a hand tentatively lifts. “How about me?” a squirrel voice squeaks.

He steps forward. “He looks like a chicken” Patsy whispers to Paula.

“Yes, he does,” Paula laughs. “But take if from me, he’s a dancing fool. I hear he’s won more contests than this room has people!”

“Grap your partner!” The caller yells. The musicians play a few lively chords. “Cumberland Square Eight!”

          “Wahooo!” Patsy chortles grabbing her partner’s hand. 

          Mary bumps into her. “This is so great!”

          Paula cheers from the sidelines. “I knew you’d love it here!”
Paula Martin has always lived in North West England. She had some early publishing success with short stories and four novels, but then had a break from fiction writing while she brought up a young family and also pursued her career as a history teacher for twenty-five years. She has recently returned to writing fiction, after taking early retirement. Her contemporary romance, ‘His Leading Lady’ was published by Whiskey Creek Press in June 2011, and her latest, ‘Fragrance of Violets’, is released in February 2012. A third novel ‘Her Only Option’ will be published later in 2012.

'Fragrance of Violets' is released by Whiskey Creek Press in Feb 2012. The title is from a quote by Mark Twain: “Forgiveness is thefragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

It’s a story of two people who have to learn how to forgive both themselves and each other. It’s set in the English Lake District which I know and love, and this setting inspired a lot of the story. I’m sure the village, which I’ve called Rusthwaite, will be immediately recognisable by anyone who knows the Lake District!


Abbey Seton distrusts men, especially Jack Tremayne who destroyed their friendship when they were teenagers. Ten years later, they meet again. Can they put the past behind them? Abbey has to forgive not only Jack, but also her father who deserted his family when she was young. Jack holds himself responsible for his fiancée’s death. He’s also hiding another secret which threatens the fragile resumption of their relationship. Will Abbey ever forgive him when she finds out the truth?

Excerpt from ‘Fragrance of Violets’

Abbey swung her car into the car park and pulled up beside the shop. After she’d unlocked the side door and switched on the light, she returned to the car and opened the boot.

She’d just lifted out the first box when a voice startled her.

“Want some help with that?”

She spun round in the direction of the voice. It was dark but she didn’t need to see him. Her mouth went dry and her hands tightened on the box.

“No, thanks, I can manage.”

Jack Tremayne stepped into the dim light cast by one of the car park lamps. As her eyes adjusted, Abbey caught her breath. His dark sweatshirt stretched across wide shoulders and broad chest, and mid-blue jeans encased his slim hips and long legs. No longer a teenage boy, but a man whose compelling figure exuded confident masculinity. Something deep inside her turned a double somersault.

“What the hell are you doing here?” Resentment at her involuntary reaction to him lent an extra sharp tone to her voice.

“Welcome to Rusthwaite,” he said with amused irony.

“You aren’t welcome here,” she retorted. “Not by me, not by anyone.”

He shrugged. “Maybe not, but I’m back, and I intend to stay.”

Shock ran through her like a cold shower. “You’re staying?”

“Why not? It’s my home.”

“The home you betrayed,” she said bitterly.

“That was eight years ago. People forget.”

As he took a few steps towards her car, the light spilling from the shop doorway illuminated his face. His blond hair seemed to have darkened to the colour of light sand and was brushed back instead of the tousled look she remembered. But several stray strands escaped over his broad forehead, and her glance took in his handsome features – the blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the well-defined jaw, the perfectly shaped mouth and the cleft above his chin.

A quiver rippled through her but she ignored it. “No, Jack,” she said, as calmly as she could. “This village hasn’t forgotten. People here won’t ever forgive you.”

“What about you?” His eyes challenged her, forced her to remember the night everything had gone wrong between them.

She returned his look with a defiant glare and tried to distance herself from the unwanted sensations inside her that threatened to destroy her composure. “I don’t think you and I have anything further to say to each other. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to unload this shop stock.”

“Are you sure I can’t help?”

“Absolutely sure.”

“Okay,” he said briefly as she turned away and took the box into the shop.

When she returned to the car, he’d gone. She stared through the darkness towards the main road, but he’d obviously walked quickly. There was no-one there.

She made herself concentrate on carrying the boxes into the storeroom and stacking them tidily, ready to be unpacked the next morning. But as she put down the last box, she realised she was shaking.

Meeting Jack Tremayne again had catapulted all her feelings into total disarray.

To win a copy of Paula's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends tomorrow and everyone who comments is eligible.


  1. Welcome to your party, Paula, and congratulations on your book, it looks wonderful! We're looking forward to learning some new dance steps!

  2. Good morning. Congrats on your book. What a pretty cover. Sounds like a lovely story. What pretty scenery this morning and the food sounds divine.
    Sue B

  3. Good Morning Everyone! *Hugs Lyn*. Paula, love the cover and the blurb! Much luck with the promo and sales. Looking forward to these new dances. I love country parties! Glad you made it, Sue!

  4. Your book sounds intriguing -- so does the food, y'all. Who said Brits couldn't cook!


  5. 'Someone grab me a pint of Hawkshead Prime Ale, please!" Paula gasps as she recovers from the Cumberland Square Eight.
    Glad you could all join me here for the best Barn Dance in the whole of Cumbria!
    (And the photo you chose to show the Lake District is, in fact, my absolute favourite part of Lakeland - the Langdale Pikes)

  6. Hi Lyn - and thanks so much for roasting and toasting me today!

  7. Sue - thanks, I love the cover of my new book. Hope you enjoy the food! Oliver has surpassed himself, especially with those mushy peas, not to mention the triple chocolate pudding, of course!

  8. Thanks, Patsy. Hope you're enjoying the dances - in between the food of course.

  9. Julie - of course we can cook, especially here in North West England!

  10. Hi Sue, hi Julie, nice to see you both again - yes WHO said Brits couldn't cook, LOL!

    Paula I see Oliver heading your way with the Hawkshead ale - thanks Oliver, I'll have a blackberry liquer please!

    I agree, the cover of 'Fragrance of Violets is lovely - and I love how you came by the title too - and yes, Langdale Pikes is a beautiful part of the world, isn't it!

  11. Hi Paula, and all the girls (and Oliver of course) - great party! Love the food and dancing - it's almost as good as Scotland! Seriously, the Lake District is one of my favourite places in England. Have lots of fun, Paula. Loving the sound of that Jack Tremayne.

  12. Paula, you need to find yourself a dance partner. I see a tall, good looking Colin Firth lookalike heading your way--put down the drink and get your dancing boots on!

  13. Hi Rosemary - I love the Lake District, it was almost my second home at one time when I had a caravan up there.

  14. Who said Colin Firth????
    Hi Jen - I'll claim Colin for the next dance (and the next, and the one after that ...etc!) Thanks for dropping in!

  15. Hi Patsy (hugs her sister hostess) isn't it a beautiful day - the lake looks lovely and I can't wait to brush up my barn dancing skills!

  16. Hi Rosemary

    Lovely to see you here. I agree the Lake District is lovely - I've only been there a couple of times but it was beautiful - almost as lovely as Wales! :) LOL aren't we lucky that the British Isles is small enough that we can travel 'abroad' and see our constituent countries without having to have a passport or need to fly!

  17. Hi Jennifer, hmm OK so Paula's nabbed Colin, but that guy over there looks just like Richard Armitage! See you later!

  18. Forgot to say, I agree with Rosemary, Jack Tremayne sounds scrumptious - but Iguess he's spoken for so I'll have to make to with Richard - hope he can dance!

  19. Yes, Jack Tremayne IS scrumptious, but he only has eyes for my heroine, Abbey. So we'll just have to 'make do' with Colin and Richard - oh, and I think Hugh Jackman's just arrived too, in very tight jeans ;-)

  20. Hi Hywela, please make sure Richard Armitage saves a dance for me. Unless Rupert Penry-Jones is available...

  21. I would love to see the Lake District - wait - I can just walk out the door! DUH! Love the dancing - my partner might not be Oliver but he can shake a leg!

  22. LOL Jennifer, I'm holding onto Richard, but at The Roast anything is possible - Rupert's on his way.

  23. The food is yummy, the music frolicky, the company open-hearted. When's the next dance?

  24. Mary peeks her head from behind a large bale of hay. Seeing the coast is clear she runs and hugs everyone. I have been trying to ditch hot hands for awhile. If you see him let me know. He keeps grabbing me!

  25. Hi Ana, welcome to the roast, help yourself to food and pick a partner! Doesn't Paula's book sounds wonderful!

  26. Mushy peas, yuk! Paula the party is rockin'! Watch out for Lyn's dainty feet!

  27. Hi! Mary! Lyn hugs her sister hostess, trying not to bounce off her ample chest.

    Hmm, you seem to have been having fun - Oh watch out, he's after you again, is that Jesse by any chance?

  28. Hi Ana, great to see you here, we're having a great party with all these hot guys!

  29. I'm standing in front of Mary to hide her from hot hands.
    And mushy peas yuck? No way, they're yummy!

  30. Have to admit I quite like mushy peas myself! :)

  31. I have to admit that I don't like peas. Well, I'm sorry. It's the pee, pea, curse! Of course there's no cure. But the other stuff sounds yummy. Thanks for protecting the girls Paula. I hate it when I get groped. Well, most of the time anyhow. Paula, where did the idea for your book come from?

  32. Good morning to all. First, what a lovely blog. Second, the cover art for Paula's book is fabulous and should win an award in the future. I can smell the violets and the book makes me think of spring, romance, and tea. I can't wait to read the book on Kindle.

  33. I don't like ordinary peas, Mary, but I do like mushy peas!
    The idea for the book? Well, it started off differently, with Abbey and Jack meeting for the first time, but then I decided it would work better if they had a 'past'- and somehow, after that, they created the story for me!

  34. Thanks so much, Roxe Anne. There's certainly romance, and the story's set in the springtime in Lakeland, and yes, they do have a cup of tea in the first chapter!

  35. Don't you love it when that happens! Do mushy peas taste like fresh peas? I like pea soup myself. But dried peas taste different!
    So, has anyone seen my date? I'm hiding...

  36. Hey Ladies! I had to stop and say hello. Paula, I love the title and from whence it came, and what a perfect reference to the heart of the tale. Best of luck with your novel. :)

  37. Mary! If you hadn't led him on - he wouldn't be so hot for you. After all, you picked him out yourself. Lyn! Run! The mountain man is on the prowl again. Took forever to extricate you the first time! Sheesh. Paula, really fun party.

  38. What Mountain man Patsy - where?

    Come here lover - you can run but you cannot hide! :)

  39. You';re right Mary - mushy peas do taste different to ordinary peas. Traditionally they're dried, soaked overnight and then simmered until - well - mushy!

    I like all kinds of peas myself!

  40. Hi Roxe Anne, Hi Rose. *waves*

    Welcome to Paula's party.

    Got another excerpt for us Paula?

  41. What? All I did was wink. Yes, another excerpt Paula!!!
    Hey, Patsy who put the sign on your back that says I hate spinach?

  42. Great cover and title. Wishing you the best of luck with your novel, Paula.

  43. Rose, thanks for dropping in. As soon as I saw Mark Twain's quote, I knew I'd found the perfect title.

  44. Another excerpt? How about Abbey and Jack's first kiss?

    “I’m sorry too, more sorry than you’ll ever know.” His face was serious but then he gave the grin that made her heart leap. “So can we kiss and make up?”
    She smiled, despite the tremor which ran through her. “Yes, why not?”
    He put his arm round her shoulders and bent forward to kiss her. A light, friendly kiss as their lips met but which still sent a hot flame coursing through her veins.
    He moved away but they still looked at each other. And then his arm tightened around her.
    For a split second, she knew everything was going to change between them. Knew she should move, turn her head away, anything to stop the irrevocable step they were about to take.
    But she was paralysed as her body refused to accept the warnings from her brain. She wanted his kiss.
    When it came, full on her mouth, a kiss from firm demanding lips, panic gripped her for a moment and instinctively she tried to resist but her brain and stomach melted at the same time. Everything inside her catapulted into some cosmic kaleidoscope where stars burst and galaxies exploded.
    Hardly aware of what she was doing, her mouth opened to his as she surrendered, her hands coming up to grip his shoulders. His arms went round her, pressing her to him, and her heightened awareness felt the strength and sexuality of his body.
    Her own body blazed with a maelstrom of desires that were made even stronger by all the conflicting emotions inside her. She wanted him, but she was scared. Scared by the strength of her feelings, scared that she was about to commit herself to something she didn’t know how to handle.
    Now I'm off to handle some of that Lancashire Hotpot! :-)

  45. WOW! I do declare! You have me all vapory. Mary places her hand on her forehead and dramatically swoons. Lyn trips over her and Patsy catches them as they just miss the manure pile!

  46. So glad you missed the manure pile, Mary!

  47. Wow! Great excerpt *she fans herself*
    Who put the spinach sign on my back? A cow just tried to mow me down, I got so excited I jumped backwards and landed to my knees in manure. My cowboy boots are ruined. (Sadly enough, this really happened to me when I was younger at the State Fair.)

  48. Poor Patsy - here try some of this new saddle soap, it might restore your lovely cowboy boots. Phew, just stand a little upwind of me there's a love! :)

    Paula - what a sizzling excerpt, I was right there, kissing him with her -well not literally you understand, but you know what I mean. Wonderfully descriptive writing.

    I think I need to get some more of that cold blackberry liquer!

  49. Hi Susan *waves* thanks for stopping by, and I so agree about both the cover and the title!

  50. Mary hands Patsy her extra boots and jeans so she can change. Poor dear, right into the poo pile? Awful luck that skidding into the mess.

  51. Hmm, getting a bit whiffy in here with all that cow poo!
    Think I'll go for another helping of chocolate pudding...

  52. Patsy that wasn't moo poo, it wasn't even horse peduty! I had to stop Nibby from eating it, it was chocolate pudding! Look at the dogs face, wait, I think Hampy is in the pudding I see him squiggling around and is that a horn. Cuddles! Get outta the pudding!

  53. Oh thank GAWD! Chocolate pudding. Where is that nasty Hampy now. Oh Oliver!!!! I need help over here. Bring along a few of your good looking friends. I'm somewhat tired of this little squirrel guy -even if he can dance. After that mindboggling kiss in the excerpt, this guy just isn't cutting it! I could use another mug of that beer too! I do love beer.

  54. Mead? *hic* Yes I think there's a little left. Droool, yes, after that excerpt The kissing bar has been sooooo raised!

  55. Now stop drooling, ladies, because we're about to have the last dance of the evening - how about 'Strip the Willow' - and no other stripping, of course!
    Take your partners, please!

  56. Oh yes, now it's dark outside, with just the candlight and the lanterns it's so romatic. 'Strip The Willow' it is - and thank you for being such a wonderful guest of honour. After the last dance we can all spend the night here and perhaps Oliver will make us breakfast. We'll keep the place open tomorrow in case any latecomers wander in!

  57. Thanks for organising my party, ladies, it's been great fun!

  58. Nite everyone. I'm tired and my feet are killing me. Dancing is hard work!
    Great day Paula! See you for breakfast! If Jessie James, (he's awfully cute), agrees to come too!

  59. Thanks, Mary. I'm just going to cuddle in the hay with Colin now (I wish!)

  60. Hello? Anyone still here? Guess I'm too late for the party and I would have loved to see all of you. But I just want to say I've toured the Lake District and it is so beautiful. And so is your book cover, Paula. I'm partway through the book and enjoying it very much.I wish you great success with Frangrance of Violets. And it was great party, I know. And I can vouch for the English desserts. Ah, the shortbread. The candy. The bisuits, Need I go on?

  61. Paula jumps up from cuddling with Colin to greet Linda!
    Sorry you missed the dancing, Linda - but there's still plenty of yummy food!
    Thanks for dropping by and so glad you're enjoying Fragrance :-)

  62. Hi Paula and ladies,
    That food looks so scrummy, makes my mouth water, as does Oliver.
    Violets - just the word itself has caught my interest Paula. After roses, violets are my favourite flower.
    Best of luck with all your writing ventures.



  63. Lyn wakes and stretches. Has she really slept all night on the sofa by the window,with her head on Richards's shoulder?

    She peers through the window. The early morning sun kisses the waters of the lake turning it to golde. At the end of the barn, in the dining area, Oliver is busy cooking breakfast, and a delicious aroma of backon, eggs, sausages, together with toast, honey, fresh fuit jam and marmalade permeates the air. Tea brews in the urn, together with plenty of coffee for our American friends.

    Good Morning Linda, and Margaret. Welcome to Paula's Party. Pity you missed last nights party but today who knows? Perhaps we could all go boating on the lake.

  64. Good morning all. Bacon and eggs sound yummy. I need lots of coffee to wake up. LOL. Those are great excerpts. Thanks for sharing. A boat ride sounds fun.
    Sue B

  65. Holy cow! Where did you girls get those hot bods? How did you do it? I bet by giving up those mushy peas and red cabbage...I would,too--in fact you can have all of mine forever. The desserts, though? Yum, I'll take a small piece of each one!
    Paula, you've done a fantastic job of planning your barn dance party, and the girls here? They put it together in a magnificent way.
    Y'all have fun, and I'll meet you down at the barn.

  66. Lovely to see you here, Margaret - all the way from down under! And just in time for Oliver's wonderful breakfast!

  67. Mushy peas and red cabbage are yummy, Celia! Lancashire hotpot without red cabbage (and picked onions) just wouldn't be the same - and as for fish and chips without mushy peas? Well, words fail me! Thanks for visiting!

  68. Hi Celia

    How lovely you copuld join us for Paula's party. Actually red cabbage and mushy peas are very slimming (well more slimming than chocolate anyway! :) What say you, Paula?

  69. I daren't even think about slimming (or calories or cholesterol) after all that fantastic food at the party, and then Oliver's wonderful breakfast :-) Maybe we should take a quick run up Scafell Pike today instead of the lazy sail on the lake? On second thoughts, maybe not!

  70. LOL, Paula, none of the food at our Roasts has any calories at all. 'Eat drink and be merry'! I' in the mood for a leisurely cruise on the lake!

  71. No calories? Phew, that's a relief. I thought I'd eaten my whole month's supply of calories at the party!

  72. Oh no, if that were the case we hostesses would be like the side of the proverbial house by now!

  73. LOL, true! So okay, it's a non-caloried roast and toast!

  74. It sure was - they all are, otherwise we'd probably get sued by our guests! :)

    After all we're partying to celebrate your book - we don't want folks to be worrying about their weight! :)

  75. Congratulations on your book, Paula, and what a great party! The Cumblerland Rum butter pudding is absolutely out of this world!

  76. Hi Sandra, and thanks for dropping in. We left a helping of the rum butter pudding especially for you :-)

  77. Hi Sandra

    Lovely to see you again, thanks for joining us - and enjoy the pudding, it's gorgeous isn't it!

  78. What a great roast Paula, and thanks to our many guests, especially the commenters!!! We love you all! Have a great weekend! I'll pass on the peas, but send some of that pudding down to this end of the table, please.

  79. Sends pudding across to Mary!
    Thanks, Mary, I love being roasted and toasted by you wonderful ladies!
    By the way, I know that someone who visited (but didn't leave a commment) thought we were actually having a REAL party - and getting drunk by the end of it. How funny is that??!

  80. I'll go for the ale, the chocolate cake and the rum stuff, but I'm not so sure about the rest. The book sounds terrific. Love the cover.

  81. Hi Alison -

    It's all good British home cooking, so don't worry, but by all means help yourself to some of the 'rum stuff' and chocolate pud! :)

    Looking forward to roasting you next week!


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