Vicki Keire’s Recipe Reads: Pot Roast and Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of Recipe Reads. Like most of us, I wear a lot of hats in my day to day existence, and I tend to stay as busy as anyone else. With two teenagers, a toddler, a husband who works long hours, and of course the fur babies, it seems as if the multi-tasking never stops. The first thing that always gets the axe in a crunch is, of course, personal time. It got to the point lately when I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I’d sat down to read a book. I mean, who has the time? And yet, reading is so important to me. So I had the idea of combining my reading time with the time it took to do something essential, like cook a meal, and Recipe Reads was born. This little feature is designed with the busy reader in mind. Because you’re not loafing, you’re actually cooking dinner! Recipes cook in the crock pot while you use that time to cuddle up with a book. And when you’re done, so is dinner! I picked a simple roast to start with, paired with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
3-4 pound roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
Montreal steak seasoning (or spice blend of choice)
¼ cup Dale’s steak sauce
The secret to any good roast starts with browning it well. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium high. Sprinkle the surface with the steak seasoning or spice blend until well covered. Then brown the roast on all sides in the oil. You almost can’t brown it enough at this stage- you want to get a good, uniform brown coating without burning the meat. This locks in the flavor. When you’re done browning, place the roast in the crock pot, and add just enough water to barely cover it. Add the Dale’s steak sauce, set on low, and cook for approximately 6-8 hours. The longer you let it simmer, the more tender it will be. Resist the urge to peek, as this will allow the heat to escape and lengthen cooking times.
I wanted to pick a book I would have a chance of finishing in 6-8 hours, with interruptions from teenagers and a toddler, so to play it safe I opted for a YA selection. I also wanted something heavy on the romance, and Cruel Beauty certainly fit the bill. Nyx has been raised her entire life with the sure knowledge of two things: 1, that she is destined to marry the Gentle Lord, ruler of demons and despot of her land. And 2, that she must kill him to free her people.
Nyx’s mother couldn’t have children, and so her father approached the prince of demons in his castle and tried to bargain with him: the wife would conceive twin girls, and one of them would become the bride of this Demon Prince on her seventeenth birthday. But deals with demons never turn out well, and after the mother’s death in childbirth, Nyx spends her life training to be the instrument of her father’s vengeance. When she meets the Gentle Lord, however, she’s in for a shock. He’s irreverent and bitter as she is, and equally as unused to affection. The sparks fly between them. Nyx hasn’t forgotten her duty, however, and even as she falls in love with her husband, she knows she must eventually be his downfall.
I love books about magical, labyrinthine houses. This was literally my favorite part about Cruel Beauty: the setting. Nyx spends a good deal of time trapped in this castle, and the descriptions are magnificent. There’s a room with water you can walk on, surrounded by fireflies. The library tends to change with its master’s moods, and dinner cooks itself, only to be served in a grand dining room. There are closets full of demons and mirrored walls that let her spy on her loved ones, and the weather changes from room to room.
All in all, this was an excellent read. The characters are all multi-dimensional and flawed, and I found myself liking the fiery, angry Nyx more and more as she mellowed over the course of the book. This was actually a pretty steamy read for YA, with lots of well-crafted sexual tension, although any actual liaisons appear off-screen, so to speak. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles, so when it looked like the text was headed there, I kind of groaned, but not to worry. What at first appears to be a nascent love triangle is actually something much more complex. Cruel Beauty was quite absorbing, and took me a little over six hours to finish. Just in time for dinner.
Vicki Keire grew up in a 19th Century haunted house in the Deep South full of books, abandoned coal chutes, and plenty of places to get into trouble with her siblings. She spent the last decade teaching writing and literature at a large, football-obsessed university while slipping paranormal fiction in between the pages of her textbooks.
Published works include the bestselling Angel’s Edge series, which includes Gifts of the Blood, Darkness in the Blood, and Blood Redemption, The Chronicles of Nowhere series, and the stand-alone novel Daughter of Glass. She is included in the Dark Tomorrows anthology with J.L. Bryan and Amanda Hocking, and the Primetime anthology with J.R. Rain and Anita Exley.
When not reading and writing about all things paranormal, she enjoys other people’s cooking and keeps vampire hours. She’d rather burn the laundry than fold it, and believes that when an author wins the Newberry, he or she gets a secret lifetime pass to Neverland. She is fond of lost causes and loud music. She currently resides in Central Florida on a lake-front farm full of many furry friends. She loves hearing from readers and can be reached on most social media sites or through her blog (link: http://www.vickikeire.blogspot.com/), of which she is awfully fond.