American Flag Cake for #IndependenceDay @SSaraDaniel

Nothing beats Independence Day for showing our pride in our country. Flags wave proudly, and red, white and blue are suddenly displayed on every piece of merchandise in the local discount store.

While I don’t have flag plates, napkins or—God forbid—a star-spangled bikini, I love bringing out my once-a-year crafty side to make an American Flag Cake for a cool patriotic treat.

So to satisfy your sweet-tooth I offer you my easy and delicious recipe.

American Flag Cake

pound cake
8oz Cool Whip
Strawberries, sliced

Pound cake can be store bought or made from scratch. Here’s a quick recipe:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Beat sugar into butter 2 tablespoons at a time until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time. Mix in remaining ingredients.

Bake in a greased and floured 9 X 5 pan for 1 hour. Cool completely.

To Assemble American Flag Cake

Cut pound cake into slices and lay across the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan.

Cover cake with a smooth layer of Cool Whip.

Turn pan horizontal. In upper left corner, fill an approximately 3-4 inch by 3-4 inch square with blueberries.

Make seven horizontal lines of strawberry slices. The first four lines should begin from the blueberry section to the far right edge. The bottom three lines should span the entire length of the pan. The top and bottom lines should be touching the top and bottom of the pan respectively to create 13 alternating red and white stripes.

The last step is very important – Thank a member of our Armed Forces and/or a Veteran, and share a piece of patriotic cake.


Celebrating Fathers in Romance with @SSaraDaniel

Since Sunday was Father’s Day, I thought it was appropriate to celebrate secret baby romances where the father comes into the picture a little late, a lot clueless, but with all hands on deck ready to make up for lost time.

He followed Olivia through the foyer, summoning a herculean effort to not run past her in his impatience. Turning the corner, she proceeded up a set of stairs so far from the fireplace room the child could have been wailing his head off and they wouldn’t have heard a peep. He’d been right to insist. From this moment on, the baby would be well cared for.

Pictures cluttered the walls, and folded clothes lay stacked on furniture at the top of the stairs. While she stepped around a Lego tower on the carpet, he stumbled over the scattered interlocking pieces. God help her if she’d done the same thing with a baby in her arms. Clearly, he had arrived just in time.

Olivia paused at a half-open bedroom door. “This is Liam,” she whispered. “You can see he’s safe and sleeping peacefully.”

Nice try keeping him from the child, but he didn’t bite. Instead he stepped toward the white crib filling half of the small bedroom. Leaning over the edge, he bumped his head on a plastic rod with a miniature monkey, giraffe, and hippopotamus attached by little strings.

In the bed, camouflaged by the monkey sheets, matching padding along all four sides, and monkey-patterned clothing lay the tiniest human he’d ever seen. Eyes closed and mouth slack open, his head turned toward Caleb, exposing the tiny pulse on his neck.

The innocent, precious child was completely at the mercy of the adults in his life.

Caleb’s chest constricted to the point of physical pain. “I won’t let you down, Liam,” he whispered.

Bending over the crib rail, he placed his hands on either side of the child. How did one lift someone so small and delicate? The baby’s entire head would fit in his palm. In news reports and in public places, people tended to lift children around the torso under the shoulders, but most of those kids raised their arms in cooperation.

“Support his head,” Olivia whispered. He hadn’t heard her approach, but she covered his hands with hers, guiding one under the baby’s head and the other under his spine as she leaned over the crib rail next to him.

On one level, her guidance bordered on intrusive. He didn’t need her instructions to care for his child. On a completely different plane, her innocent, impersonal caress shook him to the core. He understood sexual, and he understood friendship, but neither category fit. With one touch, they’d forged a connection, something he’d never addressed in his doctrine because he didn’t believe such a thing existed.

Her blue eyes widened, and she withdrew. “You have to always support Liam’s head. Otherwise, you could hurt his neck.” Her voice shook as she stepped away from the crib.

The anticipation zinging through his body stilled into disappointment. They didn’t have a connection. How could they when he didn’t know the first thing about her? They’d experienced a mutual moment of attraction—inconvenient and potentially complicated if they were stupid enough to act on it. He couldn’t afford any more stupid mistakes.

Liam sighed and shifted his tiny body. Caleb lifted him, keeping the weight of the head and neck supported by his hand. The baby wiggled and whimpered. By shifting the tiny bundle closer to him, he could create a more comfortable position for both of them, but fear of hurting the child’s delicate body prevented him from adjusting his arms.

The baby squirmed, his milky white skin flushing deep red, and he emitted an ear-piercing howl.

Oh no. He must be in pain. Maybe he wasn’t in physical pain though. Perhaps the trauma of being left alone had finally caught up with him now that he was safe in Caleb’s arms. Caleb could talk to and reason with children, but he didn’t have any experience with someone this small.

“What do I do now?” he asked Olivia.

 “You’re the one who insisted on waking him up. You’re on your own.”

Tempting Mr Forever-200x300Tempting Mr. Forever

Love is his enemy…and her answer.

A nationally televised bombshell revealing a secret son turns marriage therapist Caleb Paden’s life upside down. While others focus on the public relations disaster for his company, he can only think of rescuing his baby and providing the stable home dictated by his marriage theories—one devoid of love and emotions.

Olivia Wells might not be the baby’s biological mother, but she loves him as much as any parent could. Letting him go will break her heart. Letting him go to a man who doesn’t believe in love will tear her apart.

As she helps Caleb bond with his child, Olivia finds herself falling for the man behind the stuffy therapist persona. However, he wants nothing to do with her love and emotions, and those are the only things she has to give. If she can’t convince him love is the answer, not the enemy, she will lose both the baby she loves and her heart.

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One Night With the Bridal Party Series #audiobooks Part 1 @SSaraDaniel

Friends, I am super-excited to announce that all six books in the One Night With the Bridal Party series are coming out as audio editions. Books 1-3 are out now with books 4-6 coming soon.

One Night With Bride — Audio Version

Narrated by Hollie Jackson

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One Night With Bridesmaid — Audio Version

Narrated by Hollie Jackson

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Narrated by Hollie Jackson
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.@SSaraDaniel’s First World Problems – Come join her pity party!

A week and half ago, I lost it. My roof (that I’d just gotten fixed two weeks before) started leaking again. My son noticed that water was also leaking out of our refrigerator. The reason: the ice was melting because the temperature in the freezer section was 50 degrees. By the time I got home from my day job, the temperature inside the refrigerator was the same as the rest of the kitchen despite the appliance running constantly. I had twenty people coming to my house for a party. And I had a miserable cold.

All I wanted to do was curl up and cry. Instead, I went to Home Depot to order another refrigerator. Unfortunately, they couldn’t deliver it for over a week. So, for over a week (including the big party day), I survived with only a mini-fridge…and a cooler with a lot of ice.

The moment Monica Smic realized Dex Seer was her soul mate, her life didn’t go as planned either. (Read the scene for free here.)

Dex Seer has spent his life on the wrong side of the law, working for anyone who will pay him enough to afford the medicine his sister needs to keep from going blind. But the medicine no longer exists. In desperation, he books a stay at the Wiccan Haus to heal his sister. With a sexy government spy following him through the portal, he stands to lose everything he’s spent his life protecting.

After too many years reading the evil, sadistic thoughts of her government’s enemies, Monica Smic is exhausted and cynical. Worse, her soul discovered its mate in a lawless bounty hunter, and staying away from him is destroying her from the inside out. When she passes out on the job, her boss forces her to take a week off at the Wiccan Haus to get her act together.

Despite their mutual distrust, the more time Dex and Monica spend in each other’s company, the more their battered souls find solace in the other’s. But Dex’s first loyalty is to his sister, and Monica’s is to her government. On the Winter Solstice, they will either heal each other or lose everything in winter’s fiercest storm.

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For the record, I now have a fabulous new refrigerator, my cold is gone, and my roof only leaks when it rains…

Sara Daniel confesses: I swore I’d never, but I just did it…

Get a dog.

Yep. I was never, ever getting a dog. I was convinced every dog wanted to eat me. I still think the majority of them probably do. But as of this writing, we’ve had a dog for all of 28 1/2 hours, and he hasn’t shown any sign of making me his breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight snack.

Why did I get a dog, you might be wondering. Well, my daughter begging for one for about nine years (she’ll be 13 next week) finally wore me down.

So, this got me thinking. What things have my characters done that they swore they’d never do? Have a one-night stand a week before her wedding. Yep. That one was a doozy.

SD_One Night with the Bride_SM

“It’s a week before my wedding, and you’re giving me what?” Surely no one would consider such a crass idea as an appropriate prenuptial gift. Caroline Sunburst turned to her best friend Sabrina, who appeared just as shocked.

“A one-night stand,” her mother repeated, patting a plastic card into Caroline’s hand as if the gifts were perfectly natural, expected even. “And one for your maid of honor, too. Sabrina, you need some excitement to spice up your boring life.”

Although too well-trained to make a scene in the crowded, elegant restaurant frequented by the society ladies of San Diego, Caroline would not accept the gift. Faithfulness and trust were her top requirements—she didn’t want a relationship like her parents had.

“Mother, I’m committed to being faithful. Blake and I agreed we won’t have affairs or cheat on each other.”

“How noble of you.” Her mother sniffed her displeasure. “You have a week to squeeze in a lifetime of passion. Lord knows there’s not a speck of it to be found between you and Mr. Stuffed-Shirt.”

Needing support, she glanced at her friend again, but Sabrina seemed too caught up in her own shock over receiving such an inappropriate gift from an impeccable, proper society matron.

“You like Blake.”

“Sure, I do. He’s the future of Sunburst Hotels and knows how to make a business profitable.”

Caroline squeezed the card until the edges dug into her flesh. Brought up to manage every aspect of the hotel business, she knew her competence exceeded that of the other executives, even though her contributions were denied equal consideration by her family and the corporate management.

“However,” her mother continued, “I have a hunch you and Blake have as much fun in bed as your father and I do, which is to say none. When we do have sex together.”

Ugh. “I do not need to hear this.”

“Actually, since you are following in our footsteps, you do.”

Caroline tapped the gift card against the restaurant table. Once, long ago, she’d experienced passion. Or maybe it being first love and her not knowing better caused her to imagine so. Anyway, it didn’t matter. Weighted by her father’s strong disapproval, she and her lover had gone their separate ways.

“The match has been set up through Madame Eve and paid in advance, but the gift card will pay for any extras you want at the Alvarado Ranch.”

She lurched, bumping the table with her knee and sloshing the water in their glasses. “Where?”

“I couldn’t exactly book a room at a Sunburst property, now could I? You need to go someplace far enough away no one will recognize you. I suggested this location, and Madame Eve immediately latched onto it.”

The logo on the plastic card came into focus, teasing her eyes. The Alvarado Ranch Resort. The Google alerts about Javier Alvarado and his Montana resort came regularly. Despite having no money for horses of his own, he’d shown a natural affinity for the animals as a stable hand where she practiced for equestrian competitions in high school.

Together, they concocted elaborate plans to combine their love of horses and her destiny as an hotelier. The resulting fantasy resort allowed people to pretend to be ranchers for a week while enjoying all the comforts of an upscale life. They even envisioned the house they’d build on the grounds, designing it right down to the “Home is Where My Horse is” craft sign hanging on the front door.

But she bowed to her family’s pressure, while he built their dream alone.
Her mother hadn’t stood up to her father when he’d forbidden all contact with Javier. Surely, she wouldn’t have set Caroline up to have a final fling him. No, the one-night stand was simply scheduled to take place at his resort. He might have knowledge of such setups but would hardly arrange one for himself where his employees might get wind of it.

She’d go to his resort, satisfy her curiosity over what he’d become and spend the night alone. When she returned home, she would delete the Google alert and marry Mr. Stuffed-Shirt…er, Blake…without a single hesitation over what might have been.

Pulling out her phone, she texted Blake to tell him about the trip, but saw no reason to mention the one-night stand. She would absolutely not sleep with anyone besides her soon-to-be-husband.

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If my new dog doesn’t eat me in my sleep, I’ll be back in two weeks with more confessions…

Two Old Folks Walk Into a Party… @SSaraDaniel

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, I know. My husband and I went to a party on Saturday night. This was kind of a big deal for us because we have never been party people. The last time we went to a party was… um… uh… Okay, so let’s just say it’s been a really long time. Anyway, we went and had fun, the highlight being when we got locked outside on a dark backyard porch with a really cool, comfy swing.

After we got in the car to go home, we looked at each other and said, “Were we the oldest people at that party?” After a quick tally of the Millennials we’d been hanging out with, we came to the conclusion that not only were we the old folks, but a couple of our fellow partygoers were only a couple years older than our oldest child!

As we drove home, the police waved us straight through a roadside checkpoint. Being old, law-abiding citizens does have its perks! We were home by 11 PM, said goodnight to our kids, and were in bed before 11:30.

If you like your parties with a little more naughtiness or at least like to read about characters who know what kinds of naughty things to do on a dark back porch during a party, then check out Haley and Seth’s naughty party shenanigans in The Bad Boy’s Guarantee. (Sure, they had more fun, but I guarantee my husband and I woke up better rested the next morning!)

SaraDaniel_TheBadBoysGuarantee_200The Bad Boy’s Guarantee

If she trusts him, she can have it all…or lose everything.

Between working her day job in the city and tending her father’s small-town bar every weekend, Haley Miller can’t remember the last time she had a date. When she trips over a stack of her dad’s unpaid bills and into the man of her dreams, she knows the night is guaranteed to be the best of her life…or the worst.

Seth Gardner returns to Regret Hollow to save his family’s business from their landlord’s financial mismanagement. The chance to finally act on his crush on Haley is a bonus he’s not about to turn down. But if he waits too long to confess his secrets, he’ll lose her trust and his chance.

Just when Haley thinks she can have the love and the life she always dreamed of, she discovers everything was built on a lie. Seth will lose her unless he can guarantee a lasting love built from nothing more than their fantasies.

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Heart Surgery Romance — @SSaraDaniel Finds her Niche

Write what you know, they say. But what happens when you’re a romance author and congenital heart defects and their repair surgeries are what you know?

You end up accidentally creating your own heart surgery romance niche.

Cardiologist romance bannerTo be clear, the books I’ve written that involved heart surgery aren’t a series and don’t have much in common at first glance.

Captivating the CEO is an all-in serious look at a woman facing her own mortality, daily health struggles and—yes—open heart surgery. A Model Hero is a story of derailed dreams and post-surgery body image struggles. At the other end of the spectrum, Once Upon a Marriage is a romantic comedy based on an obscure fairy tale, where the heroine’s uncle receives a heart transplant…from a pig!

I’m not a heart expert, but when I write about heart defects and heart surgery it comes from a place of deep emotion, personal turmoil and love. No matter how many times I reread Willow’s surgery updates in Captivating the CEO, I cry because it is real and raw for me.

I don’t expect congenital heart defect romances or heart surgery romances will ever become a trending or sought-after genre, and that’s just fine with me.  I only want to read the stories that come from a place of authenticity and love.

SD_Captivating the CEO_LG.jpgCaptivating the CEO

He’s all about the future. She might not have one…

When live-for-the-moment massage therapist Willow Jeffries bursts into Colin Vanderhayden’s office, she makes it her mission to loosen up the future-focused CEO, knowing each moment of the present is too precious to waste. Despite her immediate attraction, the only future she can offer is one full of heartache.

The last thing Colin needs is a flighty woman messing up his carefully-constructed plans, but her heavenly massages and addictive personality prove hard to resist. But he has no idea how sick she is.

No longer able to ignore her life-threatening medical condition, Willow slips away to spare Colin a miserable future with her. Is Colin willing to sacrifice his well-laid future plans to get Willow back?

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Audio Version – Narrated by Nina Price