BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Excerpt & Interview: Just Dessert by Heather Gray

Today I'm delighted to have author Heather Gray for a quick interview and an excerpt from her recently released novel, "Just Dessert". I was part of the editing team on this book and enjoyed it. I don't read very many historical romances so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Apparently, I'm not the only one. Last Thursday, HEA at USA Today compiled a list of new releases in inspirational fiction and womens fiction and included "Just Dessert". I think Heather just about fainted when she found out. :D

When she's not fainting :P she has a long-standing love affair with coffee. Besides coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing. Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

Where to Find Heather Online:

Disclosure: I am employed by Astraea Press. I am not being compensated for putting up this post. 

Bea: Your heroine, Mary, bakes when she's stressed. How about you, is baking a release for you or do you do something else?

Heather: Oh good heavens! I wish all I did was bake when stressed. Instead, I tend to eat. Sigh. When I'm stressed out, I also usually read or play logic and number puzzles (Sudoku, for example). Whatever I do, it's got to be a distraction from the source of my stress, and it needs to be demanding enough that it requires my focus. Otherwise I'll end up dwelling on the problem until I end up chasing my tail in ulcer-inducing circles. (As a bonus, when my attention is not wholly on the problem, that's usually when I'm able to figure out a solution or at least a way to deal with whatever the issue is.)

Bea: What's your favorite baking recipe?

Heather: I have a recipe for a "puffy pancake" – it's a large pastry baked in a cake pan. It raises nicely and has a delicious, sweet taste and an almost crepe-like texture (but thicker). Drizzle some lemon curd over the top of that baby, and it's to die for. When I do it right, it comes out of the oven a beautiful golden brown with a perfect crisp on the outside. I will admit, though, that I am a distracted baker. I don't always remember to set my timer, and I often improvise when I don't have all the ingredients. Most of the time things work out superbly…but sadly, my smoke detector and I are also on first-name basis (LOL ~ Bea).

Bea: What was the inspiration for this series, Ladies of Larkspur?

Heather: I moved to Idaho in 2001 and lived there until 2009. I loved it there. I discovered who I was and the kind of person I wanted to be. Those years are a wonderful happy memory for me. So when I decided to start writing, I couldn't imagine setting my first story anywhere other than Idaho. So I invented the town of Larkspur and began writing. I wanted to make a town where people have real and varied problems, where life happens, and it doesn't always happen in a sunshine-lilies-and-roses kind of way. These people don't have perfect lives, and they don't always make the best choices, but they love and support each other, not to mention pray for and protect one another. They're good people, finding the path they are meant to lead in life…not too different from all the rest of us in today's world.

Bea: What's the appeal of writing inspirational historical romance for you? Do you think might branch out into other romance sub-genres or a completely different genre?

Heather: My faith is an important part of who I am. I live it every day, and so I can't imagine ever writing something that doesn’t involve it in some way or another. I've written both historical and contemporary, and I enjoy them equally for very different reasons. I have a romantic comedy coming out later this year (Nowhere for Christmas), and I have an idea for a suspense novel percolating (I'd definitely read that! ~ Bea). I enjoy reading suspense and would love to reach a point where I can write a good edge-of-your-seat story with an intricately woven and satisfying plot. I can sometimes bore easily, so I'm likely to try a whole lot of different genres in the coming years. I love a good challenge!

Bea: Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Heather: There are so many good authors out there! I will name a few that come to mind first, but trust me, if I kept typing, I could fill up an entire page answering this question. Terri Blackstock, Harlan Coben, Steven James, Karen Kingsbury, Lauraine Snelling, Frank Peretti… and the list goes on! J

Thanks Heather for answering my questions and best of luck with "Just Dessert".

Read on for an excerpt! 



Seventeen year old Mary Fitzgerald stepped up next to the deacon, a beautiful looking strawberry pie in her hands. Today was the day she started taking lasting steps to protect her family. Pa was passed out at home, having drunk so much there was no way he would be waking up to come to the festivities at the church today.
She had been taking care of and protecting her younger brothers and sisters, the four of them, as far back as she could remember, but her pa was getting meaner and nastier with each passing year. Her brothers were getting angrier and more volatile, too. It was important to get them all out from under Pa's thumb before her brothers were ruined for life, sentenced to turn into men like their pa.
Hoping to find a man willing to wed her and take her brothers and sisters in, too, Mary had entered herself in the dessert auction at a picnic hosted by the church. The auction was one of many events at the picnic, but it was the only one in which Mary was interested. Only eligible men were allowed to bid, and she hoped to use the auction to find a husband. How old, ugly or poor – Mary didn't care as long as he didn't beat or terrorize them. That was her highest hope, to find a man who did not cause her to cower, who did not break her bones, who would not harm her brothers and sisters. She had poured all her hopes for escape into making this pie to help her find a husband. Harboring no illusions about love, Mary didn't even really care if the man was kind; she only needed him not to be too terrible.
As the diminutive deacon with thinning grey hair was about to begin the bidding, Mary glanced up. Fear grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed so tight she thought she might faint right there. Neither the sea of curious faces nor the beautiful blue Idaho sky drew her attention. Pa was coming, and he looked madder'n a hot, hungry bull. Mary couldn't move. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps as she tried to stay conscious. She was terrified of this man. They had been so certain Pa would stay passed out all day, that he wouldn't be able to discover their plan until it was too late. The kids had all dressed in their finest clothes and promised to be on their best behavior – no small feat for the boys – and now here came Pa, ruining their chance for escape.
The deacon had not seen Mr. Fitzgerald yet and was taking a big breath in preparation to start the bidding. His mouth was still open, sucking in air, when the bellow came from the back of the crowd, "That's my young'un and ain't nobody biddin' on her pie! I ain't raisin' no harlot to get paid for her favors!"

Blurb from the author ~

Dessert…the perfect remedy when nothing in life seems to be going right.

What do you do when you are the sole protector of four children, your brothers and sisters?  When each day is haunted by disappointment, disillusionment and desperation?  When you believe that everyone who ever loved you, including God, has abandoned you?

You bake a pie, of course.

What do you do when you find a woman whose heart is consumed by fear?  Who does not know how to trust?  Who scoffs at your faith and throws your kindness back in your face?

You eat a pie, of course.
Publisher: Astraea Press
Format: Ebook
Genre: Historical Romance, Inspirational 
Release Date: September 9, 2013

The book is  out now so go pick up a copy, you won't regret it!


  1. Thank you for having me on your blog today Bea!

  2. enjoyed the Q & A and the excerpt.

  3. Ok lets all meet up with Heather for fluffy pancakes and coffee!! I love historical romance and this sounds quite good. Thanks for putting on my radar and for sharing your interview.

    1. It's a date! I hope you enjoy the book, I sure did.


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