My Favourite Italian Drinks

It’s less than 3 weeks until Summer’s Lease is released in Ebook and Paperback (shameless pimp – sorry!) and the reviews are starting to come in. One thing all of them have in common is that they love the Italian setting, and in particular the food and drink I describe in great detail.

Researching (and tasting) Italian culinary delights was one of my favourite parts of writing Summer’s Lease. We even spent our summer holiday on the banks of Lake Garda, and then in Venice last year — and it proved to be the best way to make sure that my research was accurate (or a really good excuse to eat and drink my way through Italy!)

Drinking wine on the hills overlooking Lake Garda (credit: author’s own)

So, as a result of this extensive research, I bring you my five favourite Italian tipples. Have I missed your favourite out? Let me know in the comments.

1. NEGRONI

Classed as an ‘aperitivo’, which basically means you get to drink it before you eat (yay!), a Negroni is fast becoming as popular in the UK as it is in Italy. A blend of one part campari, one part vermouth and one part gin, it’s served over a generous amount of ice in a glass tumbler, along with a slice of orange. In Summer’s Lease, the hero, Sam, makes Cesca a Negroni, and she’s suitably impressed. As would I be if anybody made me one (hint hint!)

2. APEROL SPRITZ

One of my favourite discoveries during my time in Venice, an Aperol Spritz is one of the most famous cocktails in Italy. To make the perfect Spritz, you need to combine 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and a splash of soda. Like a negroni, it’s served on the rocks with a twist of orange. I spent a lot of time drinking this during my stay in Italy, and have wonderful memories of sitting in a paved piazza with my ice-cold drink in hand, whiling the afternoon away people-watching. If you haven’t tried one yet, I highly recommend it.

 

Aperol Spritz (credit: Deposit photos)

3. PROSECCO

Anybody who knows me (or has checked out my Instagram page – here: https://www.instagram.com/carrie.elks/) knows I love white wine, and in particular the fizzy variety! During the summer Prosecco is my fizz of choice. It’s crisp, delicious, and downright tasty. There’s really nothing bad to say about it, which is why it makes my top 5. Chin chin!

4. VALPOLICELLA

In Summer’s Lease, there’s a wine cave set in the side of the hill behind the secluded villa where Sam and Cesca stay. Inside is a treasure trove of Italian wine, and the one that stands out is the Valpolicella. Sam uses his knowledge of wine to impress Cesca, and at one funny part of the book he also uses it to show how well he knows her. Just don’t drink the 2002 vintage – it’s not the best!

5. LIMONCELLO

Another favourite of mine from my stay in Italy was the post-dinner lemon-flavoured liqueur, Limoncello. It’s thick and sweet, and the perfect way to round of an evening of pasta or risotto. It’s traditionally made from Sorrento Lemons, and should be drunk in small measures. Otherwise drunk will be the operative word!

So there you have it, a list of my top 5 Italian drinks, some of which you’ll find hiding in the pages of Summer’s Lease. The book releases on 13th July, and I highly recommend reading it in the garden (or at the beach) with one of these tipples in hand!

Overlooking Lake Garda (credit: Author’s Own)

Cheers!

 

 

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Lights, Camera . . . Love?

There’s something rather wonderful about a Hollywood romance, in both real life and as a story. Watching LaLaLand earlier this year brought that back to me. Although let’s not talk about that ending. Seriously, let’s not. I’m still in recovery.

So when I decided to write a new series based on four sisters, it seemed natural to have a hero who was a up-and-coming movie star — a huge contrast to the heroine who was a poor, wannabe playwright. And that’s how Sam Carlton appeared to me — almost fully formed before I even put pen to paper. A man who got his first big break at the age of 19, and has been part of the Hollywood machine ever since.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a romance book has ever been written about a movie star and a civilian (I wanted to say Muggle, but J.K. Rowling I’m not.) In fact, some of my all time favorite stories feature the clash of lifestyles between an ordinary girl and a famous star. There’s the hilarious The Unidentified Redhead by Alice Clayton, that features the gorgeous Jack Hamilton wooing a very normal, and notably clumsy, Grace Sheridan. Then there’s the hot Hollywood Dirt by Alessandre Torre – soon to become a movie itself, courtesy of PassionFlix. Love Unscripted by Tina Reber — my very favourite modern Hollywood romance — features a hero (movie star Ryan Christiansen) who literally crashes into Taryn Michael’s small town bar, leading to a chemistry that sizzles off the page.

It’s not just in books that Hollywood Romances can be found, but also (in a rather meta kind of way) in the movies too. I’ve already mentioned LaLaLand, (oh Ryan, why did you break my heart so?) but of course this is only the latest in a long line of movies about movie stars. One of my favourites — and a classic by any measure — is Singin’ in the Rain, featuring a rather gorgeous Gene Kelly singing and dancing his way as he falls in love with Debbie Reynolds. Then there’s Notting Hill, where movie star Julia Roberts has orange juice spilled over her white top by a bumbling yet adorable bookshop owner, Hugh Grant.

What do all these stories have in common? I think in the beginning there’s a mismatch between the hero and heroine, or in this case the movie star and the muggle *ahem* civilian. It seems as though the movie star is out of their reach, and that a relationship can never work. And yet as the story unfolds, the star becomes more down to earth, and often is searching for somebody who will treat them as normal. Fall in love with them for their personality, not for their handprint outside the Chinese theater. In that respect it’s not so different to a traditional fairytale like Cinderella, where a rich royal falls in love with a poor maid. It’s a modern, up to date (and occasionally gender-swapped) version of all those stories we read growing up.

I think that’s what makes a movie-star romance so magical. It has all the glamour of a fairytale, but with the added edge of a Hollywood setting. For those of us who grew up with our eyes glued to the silver screen, it offers a fantasy that can whisk us away from modern life, and for me, romances don’t get much better than that.

Summer’s Lease is the first book in Carrie’s new Shakespeare Sisters series, and will be released on July 13th. For more details click here.

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5 Reasons Why I’m Excited For Summer!

 

I’m British, which means I’m obsessed by the weather. It’s a national pastime that I’m more than willing to take part in — be  it complaining about the rain, or speculating about the possibility of snow. But when the sun comes out, I tend to go into overdrive. Sunny weather is my happy place. It means long days out on our deck, with an ice-cold cocktail in one hand and a summery book in the other. Summer is about vacations and the sea, the beach and a barbecue. More than anything, warm weather is about spending time with family and friends — and it doesn’t get much better than that!

So since the sun decided to take a peek out from behind the clouds this weekend (and as I write, my weather app is telling me that by the time this blog is posted the rain will be back — sorry!) I decided it was high time to write a summery blog. So read on to find out my FIVE favorite things about summer!

1. THE FOOD

I’m one of those crazy people who love salads. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not about being healthy or calorie counting. After all, my favorite kind of salad comes doused with dressing and  with a side of french fries. It has to start out with a base of green salad leaves, then a healthy sprinkling of onion and cucumber. On top of that I love me some croutons and maybe some cajun spiced chicken, as well as a creamy dressing — be it caesar, thousand island or just yummy french oil. It has to be hearty, tasty, and full of the taste of summer.  Delicious!

2. THE DRINKS

There are so many different drinks that really come into their own in the summer. If you like your refreshment with alcohol, then Pimms is definitely the queen of summer drinks. This quintessential British punch-style drink is based on gin and red vermouth, with a large douse of lemonade, all poured into a jug filled with mint, strawberries, cucumber and apples. And it tastes absolutely delicious.

But Pimms isn’t the only good drink to have on a hot summer’s day. There’s also Prosecco, margaritas, and of course  an ice-cold beer. All these things make me feel very happy indeed.

3. THE BOOKS

For me, summer isn’t complete without a lovely summery story in my hand. Preferably set on a beach, with a pretty girl and a gorgeous guy who try to deny the attraction between them. This year there are a whole load of summer books being released — from Holly Martin’s Summer at Buttercup Beach to Heidi Swain’s Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage and Sarah Morgan’s Holiday in the Hamptons. Oh, and did I mention I have a summer book coming out too? If you enjoy love stories set in Italy, with good food and a splash of wine (do you sense a theme here), along with a movie-star hero and a smart mouthed English writer, then check out Summer’s Lease. 

4. THE MOVIES

Summer movies are all about sun, sand and lots of love. The first one that springs to mind is the iconic Dirty Dancing. An uptown girl and a downtown boy meet at a Summer Vacation spot, and love grows on the dance floor. I won’t mention the remake (because really, no), but the original is well worth a re-watch. But if Baby and Johnny don’t do it for you, then check out Grease, Roman Holiday, One Day or Mama Mia, all of which feature scenes in the hot summer sun!

5. THE VACATIONS

Where better to enjoy summer food, drink, books and movies than on vacation? I love going on holiday with my family — it’s a chance to kick back, relax and spend quality time with those I love. Whether it be in Spain, Turkey or Italy (our most recent three vacations) the real draw of a holiday is being able to take ourselves away from real life and all the worries it brings, and start to relax, if only for a couple of weeks.

So those are the reasons I love summer. How about you? Are you a sun lover or more of a spring person? Let me know in the comments, or send me a tweet!

Love,

Monday News

Good morning! (or afternoon, depending on where you are right now!) It’s a beautiful day here in the South East of England — the sun is out, the sky is blue and the children are off school for their Easter Holidays. Which doesn’t mean much here in the Elks house, because they’re still in bed (teenagers). Still, it’s nice to have them home for a change!

Even more exciting, I actually managed to sit outside with a coffee and a book yesterday. Reading in the garden is my favourite thing to do — it really doesn’t get any better than that. We have lots of tree surrounding us, so listening to birdsong while holding my kindle is my happy place. I hope you managed to get some reading done too!

And speaking of books, I’ve got book news times two. Firstly, in case you missed it, I had the UK Cover Reveal for Summer’s Lease last week — the first book in my new Shakespeare Sisters series. Scroll on down for a look at the cover and the blurb — I LOVE IT!

The US/ Canada cover reveal and links will be coming very soon!

Pre-order links are up here: myBook.to/SummersLeaseUK

And you can add to your goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34728527-summer-s-lease

Wanna know what it’s about? Read on…

Meet the Shakespeare family: four sisters, four stories . . . four ways to find true love

Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. Six years after the play she wrote bombed at the box office, she’s unable to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and worst of all her family have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her the use of his friend’s Italian villa for the summer, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.

When Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton sees his name splashed across a gossip rag, all he wants to do is hide. That’s how he finds himself traveling to Italy, deciding to spend the summer in his family’s empty villa on Lake Como. Except when he arrives it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.

Over the course of the hot Italian summer, Cesca and Sam have to come to terms with their pasts. What begins as a tentative friendship quickly grows into an intense attraction – and then a scorching fling. But they can’t hide from reality forever . . . as their different worlds collide, Sam and Cesca face a choice: is this just a summer romance, or could their love weather even the coldest winds?

I also have a 99c sale for Broken Chords going on this week. If you haven’t picked it up already, it’s for sale on all venues. Alex and Lara’s story is one of my favourites — telling their story AFTER their happy-ever-after.

☆.•°*°•.☆99c Sale – This Week Only! ☆.•°*°•.☆

A dirty-talking, sexy rockstar meets a smart-mouthed London girl, and sparks fly. But when she falls pregnant with his baby, their lives begin to unravel. What happens when real life clashes with happily-ever-after…

Amazon ➜ http://mybook.to/BrokenChords

Nook ➜ http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940046258561

iBooks ➜ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/broken-chords/id1094732599?ls=1&mt=11

Kobo ➜ https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/broken-chords-3

Google ➜ https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Carrie_Elks_Broken_Chords?id=ZWTDCwAAQBAJ&hl=en_GB

That’s all my news for now. I’m planning on spending the next couple of weeks getting to work on a  brand new series (yay) and hopefully spending a lot of time reading in the garden. I hope you have an amazing, book filled week!