today’s book: Last to Know
Happy Christmas Eve! I am continuing our annual blog series spotlighting (over 60 this year) new and recently-released Christmas reads! Christmas is TOMORROW, so… snuggle in, grab your fave hot beverage and comfiest blanket, turn on some Christmas tunes and continue your bookish Christmas list! Oh… and did I mention there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)
Today’s first featured book is a sweet Christmas romance with a dash of mystery/suspense, plus author Brandy Heineman shares a real-life experience (and a yummy recipe) that influenced the story!
LAST TO KNOW by Brandy Heineman
GENRE: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2021
All she wants for Christmas . . . is an end to this terrible year.
Silver bells are ringing, but family drama and flaky finances have Nadine Notaro wrung out. The only bright spots this holiday season are her job at the Blissford Historical Society and her cheery, dependable co-worker, Chase Garren—until the City Council cuts their funding. The lost income will be bad enough, but what about Chase? Though quick to remind everyone they’re just friends, she can’t stomach losing him, too.
While packing up the Society’s record collections, Chase and Nadine discover a journalist’s cache of negatives pointing to a decades-old scandal and cover-up. Entanglements with the City’s biggest power players pull their strings, but every clue brings them closer to the truth—and each other—until Nadine finds evidence of a betrayal she never thought possible.
Casting light on the lies may ruin Christmas and their friendship, but it stands to cost them much more.
Because in Blissford, it’s beginning to look a lot like murder.
Breaking Tradition with Baked Brie
by Brandy Heineman, author of Last to Know
During the holidays, tradition connects so many of us to our sense of family, faith, and home. We hang prized ornaments as mementos of special times and important people. Christmas programs, concerts, and worship services fill our calendars even as we shake our heads and remind each other, “The holidays are always so busy.” And of course, we bring out the old cookbooks and recipe cards—or pull up their images on our phones or tablets—and prepare the dishes and desserts that take us to our childhood memories of comfort and joy.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this, of course.
I’ll Brie Home for Christmas
In my new Christmas novella, Last to Know, the hero invites the heroine to a family gathering. I enjoyed letting a side character pop in with a reminder of what really matters at Christmastime.
“All right!” Leah butted in before Chase could respond. “We’re headed back to the house. Don’t worry about bringing anything. We have all the food. The Brie goes in the oven at 7:07 on the nose, so don’t loll around.”
Yet this reference to a beloved tradition in the character’s family worked its way into my story from a real-life moment when we tried something new at Christmas.
With Visions of Ambrosia Dancing in My Head
Once upon a time, when extreme couponing was a thing and grocery shopping was a contact sport, I discovered a recipe for baked brie in a Sunday advertising insert.
NOMS. I love brie, and even for this less-than-gifted baker, the short list of ingredients and simple instructions made it entirely doable. The recipe called for berry preserves—which was the advertised product, now that I think of it—but when I mentioned it to my Mom, she suggested swapping in her homemade canned ambrosia, a decadent combination of flaked coconut, dried fruit, and almonds cooked into a conserve.
Translation: move over, sugar plums.
O Christmas Brie, O Christmas Brie
When the time came for our family’s Christmas gathering, I brought the Pillsbury™ Crescent dough and brie to my parents’ house, and Mom supplied the ambrosia. This was before Great British Bake-Off fever took hold, so I felt fine about using canned dough. (Full disclosure: I’m honestly not bothered post-GBBO craze, either.)
We assembled the ingredients, popped it into the oven, and soon pulled out a steaming wheel of carby, cheesy, ambrosia-oozing goodness.
Leah’s warning in the story not to “loll around” springs straight out of real life—the baked brie was a hit, and we consumed it with all haste.
If I Can Brie Serious for a Moment
We had our traditional assortment of cookies that year, and the tree was adorned with all the familiar ornaments. Yet it’s the new thing we tried that lingers across Christmases. Maybe that isn’t so surprising considering that our reason for celebrating is nothing less than history’s greatest break in the status quo. Jesus came to be our hope of redemption, salvation, and eternal life, and as He demonstrated repeatedly in His earthly ministry, He will break your traditions to get to your heart.
So this season, try a new recipe. Make a new memory. Sing a new song to the God who says, “Behold, I am doing something new!”
Merry Christmas, Friends!
1 8 oz can of Pillsbury™ Crescent dough (or the brand of your choice)
1/3 cup fruit preserves (homemade or store-bought)
8 oz round baby brie wheel
¼ cup chopped pecans or other nuts (optional)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Crackers and/or cut fruit slices for serving
Preheat oven to 350F. Carefully unroll crescent dough into two square halves and press the seams of each closed.
Place the brie in the center of one dough square and top with preserves. (This is where the ambrosia goes if you’re fortunate enough to have it on hand. 😉) Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
Fold the dough up around the filling to cover. Place the enclosure on the second half, folds-down, and repeat to fully encase. Flip the enclosure again—you want the side with the preserves on top!
Whisk egg and water together and brush the top of the dough-encased brie. Lightly pierce the top to vent, place onto a cookie sheet, and bake 20-24 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 15 minutes (if you can resist!) and serve warm.
Brandy Heineman is a Christ-follower. She’s also a book hoarder, a cat herder, a first-generation Southerner, and a self-appointed family historian. She likes to cook when it’s convenient, and to order pizza when it’s not. An alumna of Wesleyan College, she has written for various websites and magazines. Brandy resides in metro Atlanta with her Captain of Street Cred and super-hero hubby, Michael. Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, was released in 2015 by Elk Lake Publishing.
Brandy Heineman is offering a Last to Know themed Christmas stocking flecked with gold lamé (a nod to page 59!) to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.)
Stocking stuffers to include:
- A signed paperback copy of Last to Know by Brandy Heineman
- Chase’s French Press (page 9)
- A 12 oz bag of Honduran specialty coffee, a product of Abundant Life Coffee [URL: https://inhinessighthonduras.com/coffee/] and Blue Donkey Coffee [URL: https://www.bluedonkeycoffee.com/shop] (a.k.a. Nadine’s favorite Honeybee Roast, page 15)
- Bassett Hound Socks (a la Frankie the Bassett Hound, page 43)
- Friends Forever Christmas Ornament (page 56)
- Morris & Co. hand creams (from Velia with love, page 116)
- Brandy’s favorite hard candies (12 oz bag) (just because)
This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read Last to Know by Brandy Heineman? Do you have a fave Christmas memory of trying something new?