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Forge Books That Will Get You In the Holiday Spirit!

‘Tis the season for some holiday reading! Whether you’re on the hunt for a timely book to gift someone this holiday season or you’re in the mood to read something perfectly fit for the most wonderful time of the year, Forge is here to provide festive reads that are sure to deck your halls! We’re making a list (and checking it twice), none are naughty and all are nice! Read below to see what books to either read and/or gift this year to help you get in the holiday spirt!


A Dog’s Perfect Christmas and The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Perfect Christmas

The Dogs of Christmas
Is there anything more precious than sweet puppies at Christmas? Two perfect gifts, A Dog’s Perfect Christmas and The Dogs of Christmas are charming and heartwarming holiday tales that explores the power of love, trust, and what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. From W. Bruce Cameron, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose!

Up on the Woof Top and It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Up on the Woof Top
It's a Wonderful Woof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and his human partner Bernie Little find themselves in the midst of two thrilling holiday adventures! A wonderful bundle of books to either give as a gift this year, or to snuggle up with while you read by the light of the Christmas tree.

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing But Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera; illustrated by Joe Bennett

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape
Okay, so we know this isn’t a conventional holiday-themed pick, but hear us out: how many times have you sat at the holiday dinner table and silently wished for an escape from whatever awkward conversation your dear old aunt was trying to rope you into? That’s why the Bathroom Book is perfect for this time of year! A USA Today bestseller, the cozy comedy of Joe Pera meets the darkly playful illustrations of Joe Bennett in A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing But Using the Bathroom as an Escape, a funny, warm, and sincere guide to regaining calm and confidence when you’re hiding in the bathroom.

An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Christmas
Just in time for the holidays, An Irish Country Christmas from beloved author Patrick Taylor presents a new look for the beloved New York TimesUSA Today, and Globe and Mail bestselling series! This book has all the cozy vibes and is absolutely perfect for curling up with under a warm blanket this winter!

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5 of the Best Holiday and Winter Activities in Ireland

An Irish Country Christmas

By Athena Palmer:

In celebration of the release of Irish Country Christmas, we’ve put together the perfect itinerary for a winter holiday on The Emerald Isle! Complete with castles and Christmas Markets, you’ll want to book your flight ASAP.


  •  Take a stroll through one of Ireland’s many Christmas Markets!

If you’re staying in a major city, odds are you’re within walking distance of a Christmas market. Warm drinks, delicious food, and local goodies make up the bulk of these festive celebrations. 

  • Brave the winter chill at Killarney National Park

Don’t let the weather scare you- Killarney National Park is beautiful year-round. Whether you’re hiking, enjoying a boat ride, or staying cozy in a traditional Jaunting Car, Killarney National Park is the perfect place to experience Ireland’s natural beauty. 

  •  Step through castle doors and into the past…

If you don’t already have a few of Ireland’s iconic castles on your itinerary- well, why not?! Bunratty Castle, Cahir Castle, and Malahide Castle are some must-see castles all just a day trip away from Dublin, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t thousands of gorgeous castles all across the country! No matter where you are in Ireland, there are a few castles less than a day trip away.

  •  Explore Ireland’s history through art!

Warm up your frozen fingers and explore some of Ireland’s incredible museums! Between the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, the Titanic Museum in Belfast, and the Hunt Museum in Limerick, a good museum is never out of reach. 

  •  Visit the Botanic Gardens in Belfast

If you start to get tired of the snow, stop by the Botanic Gardens in Belfast! The Tropical Ravine and Palm House make for the perfect escape from the cold and provide a splash of color to your itinerary.

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Forge’s June $2.99 eBook Sale

The eBook editions of Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor, The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber, and People of the Canyons by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear are on sale for the month of June for only $2.99 each!


An Irish Country WeddingAbout Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor:

An Irish Country Wedding is another heart-warming tale from New York Times bestselling author Patrick Taylor.

Love is in the air in the colourful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly has finally proposed to the darling of his youth, Kitty O’Hallorhan. There’s a wedding to be planned, but before O’Reilly can make it to the altar, he and his young colleague, Barry Laverty, M.B., must deal with the usual round of eccentric patients—and crises both large and small.

Being a G.P. in a place like Ballybucklebo often means more than simply splinting broken bones and tending to aches and pains. It can also mean helping a struggling young couple acquire their first home, clearing the name of a cat accused of preying on a neighbor’s prize pigeons, and encouraging a bright working-class girl who dreams of someday becoming a doctor herself. And, if you’re Barry Laverty, still smarting from a painful breakup, there might even be a chance for a new romance with a lovely school teacher, if her passionate political convictions don’t get in the way.
Much has changed in Ballybucklebo, and bigger changes are in store, but the lives and practices of these Irish country doctors remain as captivating and irresistible as ever.

The Lights of Sugarberry CoveAbout The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber:

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

People of the CanyonsAbout People of the Canyons by  Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear:

In People of the Canyons, award-winning archaeologists and New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear bring us a tale of trapped magic, a tyrant who wants to wield its power…and a young girl who could be the key to save a people.

In a magnificent war-torn world cut by soaring red canyons, an evil ruler launches a search for a mystical artifact that he hopes will bring him ultimate power—an ancient witch’s pot that reputedly contains the trapped soul of the most powerful witch ever to have lived.

The aged healer Tocho has to stop him, but to do it he must ally himself with the bitter and broken witch hunter, Maicoh, whose only goal is achieving one last great kill.

Caught in the middle is Tocho’s adopted granddaughter, Tsilu. Her journey will be the most difficult of all for she is about to discover terrifying truths about her dead parents.

Truths that will set the ancient American Southwest afire and bring down a civilization.

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A Celebration of Patrick Taylor

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The publication of An Irish Country Yuletide marks the end of an era. After bringing much joy to readers with his bestselling Irish Country series, author Patrick Taylor has announced his retirement. Today we celebrate and honor Pat’s work.

A few words from our Chairman, Tom Doherty:

I’ve loved Patrick Taylor’s books, particularly his New York Times bestselling series of the Irish Country; they pull me in, wrap me up and carry me along, so completely involved. I’m sorry there will be no new ones but glad of those I have to read again.

I’ve felt Pat a friend I saw far too seldom; he on the west coast of Canada, me on the east coast of the United States. We’ve had some great lunches and dinners in the past, and I hope we’ll have more during his retirement. I wish Pat all the best.

Pat’s editor at Forge, Kristin Sevick, sat down with Pat to talk more about his experience bringing the Irish Country books to life.


Kristin Sevick: Pat, I know this is a difficult question, but who is your favorite character in the series, and why?

Patrick Taylor: That’s like asking a mother of ten—and they were not uncommon in Ireland in the early sixties—“Who is your favourite child?” If I must pick it has to be Kinky Kincaid.  Why? Because Doctor Fingal O’Reilly, who must solve every problem with which he is presented, be able to crush all opposition, and who on the surface appears to be an ogre, can be squashed by a single glance or a vocal inflection from this rock-of-ages strong yet deeply caring woman. And as a man it has been a challenge to draw a credible woman. I like to think I have succeeded.

KS: And do you have any favorite moments in the series?

PT: That’s an easier question. My favourite moments are when the background to the action is the pastoral Ireland where I grew up. As a young man Strangford Lough was my personal idea of heaven, so when O’Reilly goes wildfowling there with Arthur Guinness or just walking with Kitty and his brother Lars, I’m taking myself to a place I have always loved. And I have a soft spot for the scene at the Lughnasa Fair in County Cork where a sixteen-year-old Maureen O’Hanlon is falling in love with Paudeen Kincaid. I am not a lyrical writer, but I am quite pleased with this sentence. “As if using sparkling hands just beneath its surface, the distant sea caught moonbeams, and polished them before release them shimmering from the calm waters.”

KS:  That’s such a beautiful line, and I’ve always loved your descriptions of Ireland. How much of your own experience has appeared in the series?

PT: I wish I could remember the author, and I am paraphrasing, who remarked, “Writing fiction is the art of sifting through the slag heaps of your memory to find the occasional gold nugget.” The medical scenes are all accurate because I have experienced them all. And of course, I have taken many of the humorous episodes from my own life or those of my doctor friends.

KS: Did you ever envision the series taking off in such a big way – and lasting so many books?

PT: I envisioned An Irish Country Doctor as one of a kind when first published by a Canadian house in 2004. When I was contacted by Natalia Aponte of Forge and told they wanted to acquire the rights I came as close to needing CPR as I ever have. And a two-book contract? I thought that would be the end of it. Now, 15 books and a novella later, I still don’t really believe it. I have to be one of the luckiest authors of the last 20 years

KS: I know firsthand just how delightful your fans are. They are so wonderful, and so many have taken the time to write you such lovely notes! Do you have any favorite stories about your fans?

PT: You are right, they are delightful. Sometimes, when the muse falters, knowing I am going to disappoint my loyal readers is the spur to give her a nudge. I don’t have any favourite individual fan-mail stories, but I do have a special category. I am an old physician and when, as often happens, I get a letter telling me that my work has helped the author or a loved one to weather an illness or a difficult time in their lives, I do feel very gratified.

KS: Is there anywhere your fans can still travel to get the Ballybucklebo experience?

PT: Even though Dorothy and I went back to live in Ireland from late 2007 to early 2010, I’m sorry to say times have changed very much in the fifty plus years since the series began. By all means please do visit Ulster. The scenery is still much the same, the people are still open, welcoming to strangers, and still possessed of a wicked sense of humour, but if I may quote L.P. Hartley, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

KS: As we bid a fond farewell to the Irish Country series, is there anything you would like to say to your loyal readers?

PT: To all my loyal readers, I would like to say it has given me enormous pleasure to have created this successful series, and much of that pleasure and all of the success has come from you. I can only thank you most sincerely for your support and apologise for not being able to find another fresh episode within me.

Please enjoy Yuletide and wish me well in my retirement.

With my best wishes to you all,

Patrick Taylor.

KS: Thank you so much, Pat! Not only for spending this time with me today, but for your charming stories that have warmed so many hearts over the years. It’s been a privilege to have played a part in the publication of these books, and I join Tom Doherty and your many fans by wishing you the very best in your retirement.

Order Copy of An Irish Country Yuletide—available now!

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Excerpt: An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

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A charming Christmas entry in Patrick Taylor’s beloved internationally bestselling Irish Country series, An Irish Country Yuletide.

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

An Irish Country Yuletide will be available on October 12th, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly tried to stifle a distinctly satisfied burp as he finished the last trace of his housekeeper’s sherry trifle. “Sorry, Kitty,” he said to his wife of nearly six months.

“You are forgiven.” She smiled at him, and the sparkle in her grey-flecked-with-amber eyes, as always, made him tingle. Had done so ever since he’d met her as a student nurse in Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital in Dublin in 1934. They’d parted in 1936, he to pursue his, to him, all-important career, she to Tenerife in the Canary Islands to care for orphans of the Spanish Civil War.

Until last summer, he hadn’t seen her since, but he’d carried an ember for the student nurse from Tallaght, Dublin, all his life. Even during his short marriage in 1940. That ember had woken and burst into flame when he, a widower for twenty-four years, had discovered she was working in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital as a senior nursing sister in the neurosurgical operating theatre.

Kitty leant to one side, stretched her right arm down, and straightened up holding something tied with a red ribbon.

“Seeing Christmas Day will be here soon, I’ve brought you an early present.”

“What are they?” he said, eying what he now saw was a bundle of envelopes.

“I’m still unpacking a few boxes from my Belfast flat and this morning I found these and thought you might enjoy reading them today.”

“Why today?”

She smiled. “Because it’s special. Our first Christmas as man and wife.” She blew him a kiss.

The door to the dining room opened and Mrs. Kincaid, or “Kinky,” as she was known, his housekeeper of nineteen years, entered carrying a tray with a steaming pot of coffee and an open box of Rowntree’s After Eight dark chocolate mint cremes.

“Kinky, you have excelled yourself,” O’Reilly said. “Prawn cocktail, roast leg of lamb with mint sauce, potatoes roasted in goose fat, broad beans, and carrots? You are a culinary genius.” She chuckled, making her silver chignon and three chins shake. “Sure, wasn’t it only a shmall-little thing, so,” she said in her offhand way, but he could tell she was pleased with the praise. “I see you’ve eaten up however little much was in it.” Her Cork accent was gentle on O’Reilly’s ear.

“It’s nothing less than you deserve, Doctor, and you, Mrs. O’Reilly. You work very hard the pair of you, helping other people, day in, day out. You deserve good food when you come home, so. Now, here does be your coffee and After Eights.” She set the tray on the table, unloaded its contents, and cleared away the dirty plates. “I know you’re expecting the marquis in a few minutes, so when he arrives, I’ll take him up to the lounge and bring the coffee and mints up once you’re all settled.” She fixed O’Reilly with a steely gaze. “Do not, sir. Do not eat all of them.”

O’Reilly cringed just a little at his housekeeper’s no-nonsense tone. “I promise.” Those citizens of Ballybucklebo who knew their middle-aged medical advisor as gruff and taciturn would have been amazed by his humility. But she’d always had that effect on him whenever she admonished him. He’d met Kinky here in this very house in 1938, just before he’d gone off to the war, and had returned here to buy the practice in 1946.

The housekeeper left, closing the door behind her. As she went, a sudden gust hurled rain against the room’s bow window making a noise like a badly uncoordinated kettle drummer.

“Glad we’re in here tonight,” O’Reilly said. “Heaven help the sailors. That’s a powerful wind.” He shook his head, offered Kitty a mint chocolate, and helped himself to two wrapped in their open-ended paper envelopes. “Speaking of power, as her fellow Cork folk would say, ‘That Maureen “Kinky” Kincaid is a powerful woman, so.’” He bit into a bittersweet mint. Perfection. “I’d have been lost without her these nineteen years. Back then for her sake I’d hoped she might remarry, but for my own, I don’t know what I’d have done without her. Now with you here, love, I’m not a domestically useless old bachelor anymore, and when she told us she was getting married again, I couldn’t have been more delighted. I suppose I’m selfish, but I’m very glad she stayed on with me for as long as she did.”

“You? Selfish, old bear?” Kitty finished her mint. “I know you too well. It’s all part of the—put that third mint down, Fingal.”

He set it back in the box.

“Do you remember that 1950s song, ‘The Great Pretender’?”

“Yes. The Platters wasn’t it, 1955?”

She nodded. “That’s you in a nutshell. Stiff upper lip. Terrified of letting your feelings show.”

“Well. I, that is. I mean . . .” But it was true. He often felt things deeply inside but had great difficulty saying the words aloud.

“Rubbish.” She smiled to show there was no anger in her, picked up her early gift, and handed it to him. “And I’ve got proof of your feelings in writing. Have a read of some of these.” He accepted the bundle and recognised his own straggling scrawl on the top envelope: Miss Kitty O’Hallorhan, 10A, Wellington Park, Belfast. His breath caught. She’d kept the letters he’d written to her after they’d met again in August 1964. Too scared of being rejected face-to-face, he’d taken to expressing his true feelings in letters. He inhaled deeply. “You kept them, even after we were married?”

She blew him a kiss. “Of course, I did. Some of them are very sweet, Fingal. You were and still are a very romantic man, and I love you.”

He rose, leaving the bundle on the table and intending to give her a kiss, but the front doorbell rang.

“That’ll be the marquis. Let’s greet him.” Kitty rose and as they left the room, she sang out. “We’re answering the door, Kinky.”

Lord John MacNeill stood on the step of Number One Main, Ballybucklebo, his camelhair coat sodden, his trilby hat dripping with rain, looking very much like a man in need of a friend. He and O’Reilly had got to know each other years ago through their shared interest in the game of rugby and the Ballybucklebo Bonnaughts Sports Club.

“Come in out of that, John. I’m sure the geese are flying backward.”

“Thanks, Fingal.” John MacNeill came in from the howling gale and shut the door behind him. “Hello, Kitty.”

“Hello, John. My goodness, you look wet through.”

Kinky, who had always had a soft spot for the marquis, had come to the door anyway. Now she curtseyed, and said, “Let me take your hat and coat, sir. The wires must be shaking out there, so.”

“It is a dirty night.” He handed her his sopping coat and hat, revealing a head of neatly brushed iron-grey hair.

“I’ll take these through to my kitchen,” she said, “and put them to dry in front of the range then I’ll bring up the coffee.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Kincaid. That is very kind.” She made another curtsey and left.

“Come up to the fire, John,” O’Reilly said. “You must be foundered.”

“Mmm.” He rubbed his hands together. “Trifle nippy. Please lead on.”

As they crossed the first landing, the marquis nodded to the photograph of O’Reilly’s old battleship, HMS Warspite. “Saw the Times yesterday. Historical piece. I didn’t know, but seems they finished scrapping her in 1957.”

“She ran aground ten years before in Prussia Cove, Cornwall, on her way to the breaker’s yard.” O’Reilly laughed. “The grand old lady always did have a mind of her own.” He and Kitty stood aside to let John MacNeill precede them into the cosy upstairs lounge where the curtains were closed over the bay windows and a coal fire burned in the grate. There, presumably under some kind of truce, O’Reilly’s white cat Lady Macbeth lay curled up beside his black Labrador, Arthur Guinness.

Her ladyship ignored them. Arthur opened one brown eye, smiled at the newcomer, and thumped his tail down—once.

“Have a pew, John.” O’Reilly indicated a semicircle of four armchairs arranged around the fire.

Kitty took a chair and John sat beside her, crossing his legs and hitching up his flannel trouser leg to protect the crease.

Kinky appeared and set the coffee and mints on a table beside the fire as O’Reilly stood by the sideboard. “Thanks, Kinky,” he said as she left. “My love?”

“Have we some Taylor’s port still?” O’Reilly nodded. “John?”

“Same as you, Fingal, as always.”

In moments Kitty had her port, the men their neat John Jameson Irish whiskey, and O’Reilly had seated himself beside John MacNeill. “Cheers.”

“Cheers.” They drank.

“So, John. You sounded a bit—well—not entirely yourself on the phone. What can we do?”

John MacNeill stared at the carpet for what seemed like ages until he raised his head and looked O’Reilly in the eye. “It’s my brother in Australia.”

O’Reilly choked on his whiskey, coughing and spluttering, “Brother? What brother? John, I didn’t know you had a brother. How could I not know?”

John’s smile was wry. “Not many people do, and the rest of the family would be quite happy if no one did. Father was adamant that people not speak of Andrew and it’s a measure of how much my father was respected—or feared—that no one did.”

O’Reilly leant forward in his seat, ignoring his whiskey. “Why ever not?”

John sipped his drink. “Andrew MacNeill was only two years younger than me, but in some ways, he was younger than that. I took him under my wing when we were children. Especially for the three years we were at Harrow together. MacNeill major and MacNeill minor they called us. I protected him from the inevitable bullying. Kept an eye on him as long as I could. He was sixteen when I left Harrow in 1919. I didn’t learn until after he’d been sent down from Cambridge in 1925 with a rowing blue, but no degree, that he had become a complete scoundrel. The usual culprits I’m afraid—drinking, gambling, a rather racy taste in women. By then, I was within weeks of finishing at Sandhurst officer’s training school.”

O’Reilly shook his head.

John set his glass on the table. “Then, in mid-1926, Andrew was expelled from White’s club in Piccadilly.” He glanced up and saw Kitty’s questioning look.

“It’s the oldest gentlemen’s club in London. Founded in 1693. Very exclusive. Very proper. Very.”

There was a short silence until O’Reilly said, “This must be difficult for you to talk about, John. Take your time.”

“Thank you, Fingal.” He uncrossed and recrossed his legs. “I tried to help him. He was my little brother and I loved him. But he wouldn’t accept my help. Would never be serious long enough to discuss anything. I never found out why he was thrown out of White’s. Father refused to talk about it. He was a reasonably patient man, my father. He’d survived the shame of Andrew being sent down. Willing to let a young man go through a bit of a wild period. But the business at White’s, well, it was the last straw for the old man. So, Father paid off Andrew’s gambling debts and settled an out-of-wedlock paternity suit.” The marquis shook his head.

O’Reilly said, “And you probably still feel guilty about not being able to help him.”

“I do.” John nodded. “I know, Fingal, you’ve read Somerset Maugham’s pre-war South Pacific short stories. I’ve seen them sitting in this very room. One of his stock characters was the upper-class waster who was provided with a monthly stipend remitted to a local bank in one of the distant colonies on condition he never came home. The remittance man.

“Andrew was one. Father packed him off to Australia, gave him a monthly allowance sent to a bank in Perth, and told my brother never to show his face in Ireland again.”

“How awful. For both of you,” Kitty said.

John grimaced. “It was. I missed Andrew, but the war kept me occupied for some time. I stayed in the Guards until 1951, then I had to come back to run the estate after Father’s death.”

“Of course.”

“I thought we’d never hear from Andrew again, but I got a letter in June of ’51 shortly after Father’s death.”

O’Reilly thought immediately of his letters sitting in the dining room, but he turned his attention back to John MacNeill. “The letter, sending his condolences for Father’s death and asking me to cancel his allowance, contained a clipping from the County Down Spectator about the Ballybucklebo Bonnaughts seeking donations to improve their clubhouse. Someone here must have stayed in touch with him and sent him the paper. In the letter, Andrew claimed to have made a great deal of money in gold mining and asked for the privilege of meeting half the costs of the clubhouse renovations. Anonymously, of course. There was only a PO box address from a place called Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.”

“Good gracious. So, he was still in Australia twenty-five years later,” Kitty said.

“He was. And a rich man.”

O’Reilly asked, “And was the promise honoured?”

“After some back and forth correspondence, indeed it was. Although I made it clear this was an anonymous donation, I’m afraid most people at the time suspected my father was their benefactor, and I couldn’t correct them.”

“I certainly thought it was your father,” said Fingal.

“I wrote Andrew a number of personal letters in care of the address in Kalgoorlie asking him to come home, but never received any reply. Indeed, those letters about the clubhouse were the last we’d heard until two days ago.” He sat back in his chair and picked up his glass but didn’t drink.

Lady Macbeth stood, arched her back, then trotted to Kitty, jumped up onto her lap, and began dough-punching, alternately pushing and withdrawing one front paw then the other against Kitty’s thighs.

She stroked the little cat, whose purrs rumbled gently, and looked at O’Reilly. He wanted to jump into the conversation, to ask outright what had happened next. But one look at John told him the man had to tell this in his own time. So, O’Reilly diverted himself by sipping his whiskey, taking a long deep breath, and listening to the rattle of the rain on the window.

“Two days ago, I got a long-distance call from someone purporting to be Andrew and I’m damn sure it was. I’d know that voice anywhere. Said he was ill, that he’d booked flights to Heathrow arriving on Thursday the sixteenth. He’ll overnight there, fly to Aldergrove, and arrive in Ulster on Friday the seventeenth. He wants to see his old home one more time, he said, and wondered if he might also be able to see the clubhouse.”

“One more time,” O’Reilly said.

“Yes, that’s how he put it. It doesn’t sound good, I’m afraid. I fear the worst.” John ran a hand through his hair and looked down to the ground.

“And of course, you said yes, John?” Kitty spoke gently. “Naturally. He can stay with Myrna and me at the house.” O’Reilly watched as John again raked a hand through his hair.

“You know how strong-willed my sister can be. She had very little empathy for him then. I hope she will have more now.” He paused. “I’ll hire a private nurse if he needs one. But perhaps, if he’s well enough . . .” He paused and cleared his throat. “Perhaps I can put on a little thank-you for him at the club.” He shrugged, raising his hands palms up. “What do you think, Fingal?”

O’Reilly frowned. “I’ll come and see him on Sunday. I know he’ll be jet-lagged, but if he’s fit enough, why not bring him to the club’s annual Christmas party on Wednesday the twenty-second. Let the rest of the executive know in advance, of course, and simply introduce him to the folks in attendance? If that would be all right with your brother?”

John frowned, stroked his chin, then smiled. “I think that would be a splendid idea. Andrew’s always loved a party from the time he was a small child. But he’s not under the National Health Service, so send me a bill.”

O’Reilly snorted. “Send you a bill? To do a friend’s long-lost brother a small favour?” He shook his head. “In the words of one of the locals, ‘My esteemed gracious lord—away off and chase yourself.’”

John MacNeill smiled. “Thanks, to you both, for listening and thank you, Fingal, for your sage advice. I will be happy to accept your offer of your medical services and I’ll have a word with the rest of the executive so Andrew will be welcomed properly.” He finished his whiskey, refused a second, rose, and said, “Now I must be trotting along.”

“I’ll see you out,” O’Reilly said, “and I’ll be a minute or two, Kitty. There’s something I’d like to read downstairs.”

“Good night, John. It’s lovely to see you and I do so hope your brother’s illness isn’t serious. Please say hello to Myrna.”

“Thank you, Kitty. And I will.”

“And, Fingal . . .” She smiled, and her right eyebrow rose in that enticingly provocative gesture he had always loved. “Take all the time you need with your reading. I’ve got Lady Macbeth for company and my The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to finish.”

Having shown John MacNeill out into the gale, O’Reilly closed the front door and locked it. Good God, O’Reilly thought. John MacNeill and he had been close friends since 1946. And as John and Myrna’s medical advisor, O’Reilly had thought he knew just about everything there was to know about the MacNeill family. It certainly was going to take some unravelling— but then Fingal O’Reilly had always enjoyed mysteries.

In moments he was at the dining room table holding the bundle of letters, undoing their red ribbon, and riffling through them. He soon established by the postmarks that they were in chronological order, so, he thought, in the words of Julie Andrews in this year’s film The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”

He opened the first envelope, drew out three pages of notepaper, and began to read. He noted he’d dated it September 12, 1964.

 

Dear Kitty,

I had great difficulty believing it in August when Barry told me a Sister Caitlin O’Hallorhan was working in the Royal and wished to be remembered to me. Remembered? Since I let you go in 1936, I have never forgotten you and to see you last night, hear your voice, kiss you good night, filled my soul.

 

He’d tried to tell her then, but the words simply had not come until he had sat at his desk and penned these words the next day.

 

Today I took Arthur Guinness for a walk and on our way, I saw a familiar tree. A Japanese maple. It is a delicate tree with lissome boughs and multi-fingered leaves. I care deeply for that little tree.

I love its annual cycle and think of it as a reflecting glass for my own feelings.

In the winter the tree is dormant, its bony fingers knobbed with knuckles. It’s a time of sleeping, when all creation turns into itself, and the world passes by unheeded, simply to be lived through until spring.

In my spring I met you, a golden girl.

 

Fingal had to stop reading and blow his nose.

 

We fell in love, a love so gentle, so fumbling and inchoate we hardly understood it. It was a love that, like the maple’s buds, swelled, burst, and flourished—and might have been consummated but for a sudden late frost. My love, like a frozen leaf, lay curled on the unforgiving ground.

The dead leaf cannot know that the tree survives. I didn’t know you held within you the tiny buds of our love, which you would nourish and keep alive to await a new spring.

What tells the maple buds to grow once winter has passed? I do not know what kismet put me face-to-face with you last month. I do know that meeting made my love grow again. I tried to blight it, to tell it I was snow-blind. But I could no more stop loving you than the tree could stop its spring growth.

After ripening, buds must burst. When I kissed you last night, I felt myself stretched by the burgeoning growth within. When you took your courage and told me you still loved me, my own love, which had stayed quietly curled in on itself, shook loose and, like a new leaf, opened and smiled at the sun.

But this mature, full-blooded love is far from the simple green love of the past.

The ripe leaves of my maple today are full, and their weight bends the boughs. They are red, somewhere between copper and maroon, a colour that would take the skills of a painter in oils to capture, and with more accuracy than these poor words of a physician. Their beauty stops my breath in my throat just like the beauty of our love holds a warm hand round my heart.

Before long they will start to fall to make a carpet of fire, but their deaths will not be the death of my tree. My tree will bide and hold its secret into itself, ready when the time comes to flourish again in spring sun. Then its leaves will burst forth as will my love . . . now and forever.

Your loving Fingal

 

Fingal blew his nose again, folded the pages, slipped the letter into the envelope, and put it to the bottom of the pile.

He stood slowly, walked across to his surgery, and put the bundle into the one drawer of the old roll-top desk he kept locked. He’d savour his thoughts about the rest, which he would read at his leisure.

He glanced up and grinned. Now he’d go upstairs, kiss his golden girl, and tell her how much he loved her.

Copyright © 2021 by Ballybucklebo Stories Corp.

Pre-order a Copy of An Irish Country Yuletide—available October 12th!

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Every Forge Book Coming Fall 2021

Fall is almost upon us, which means we have a new season of books coming your way! Don your flannel shirts, grab your spiced drinks, and take a look at what Forge has to offer this fall.


September 7th

Placeholder of  -21An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor

In the close-knit Northern Irish village of Ballybucklebo, it’s said that a new baby brings its own welcome. Young doctor Barry Laverty and his wife Sue are anxiously awaiting their first child, but as the community itself prepares to welcome a new decade, the closing months of the 1960s bring more than a televised moon landing to Barry, his friends, his neighbors, and his patients, including a number of sticky questions.

A fledgling doctor joins the practice as a trainee, but will the very upper-class Sebastian Carson be a good fit for the rough and tumble of Irish country life? And as sectarian tensions rise elsewhere in Ulster, can a Protestant man marry the Catholic woman he dearly loves, despite his father’s opposition? And who exactly is going to win the award for the best dandelion wine at this year’s Harvest Festival?

But while Barry and Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly and their fellow physicians deal with everything from brain surgery to a tractor accident to a difficult pregnancy, there’s still time to share the comforting joys and pleasures of this very special place: fly-fishing, boat races, and even the town’s very first talent competition!

Now available in paperback!

September 14th

Poster Placeholder of - 48Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret. Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

October 12th

Image Place holder  of - 15An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

October 19th

Place holder  of - 32It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

November 2nd

Image Placeholder of - 5I Will Not Die Alone by Dera White, illustrated by Joe Bennett

Dera White’s I Will Not Die Alone is a hilarious, feel-good story about the end of the world. Featuring illustrations by Joe Bennett, it is a story full of realistic self-love affirmations for all of us who are just trying to get by, until we die.

November 16th

A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape by Joe Pera, illustrated by Joe Bennett

Joe Pera goes to the bathroom a lot. And his friend, Joe Bennett, does too. They both have small bladders but more often it’s just to get a moment of quiet, a break from work, or because it’s the only way they know how to politely end conversations.

So they created a functional meditative guide to help people who suffer from social anxiety and deal with it in this very particular way. Although it’s a comedic book, the goal is to help these readers:

Relax
Recharge
Rejoin the world outside of the bathroom

It’s also fun entertainment for people simply hiding in the bathroom to avoid doing work.

A Secret Never Told by Shelley Noble

Philomena Amesbury, expatriate Countess of Dunbridge, is bored. Coney Island in the sweltering summer of 1908 offers no shortage of diversions for a young woman of means, but sea bathing, horse racing, and even amusement parks can’t hold a candle to uncovering dastardly plots and chasing villains. Lady Dunbridge hadn’t had a big challenge in months.

Fate obliges when Phil is called upon to host a dinner party in honor of a visiting Austrian psychologist whose revolutionary theories may be of interest to the War Department, not to mention various foreign powers, and who may have already survived one attempt on his life. The guest list includes a wealthy industrialist, various rival scientists and academics, a party hypnotist, a flamboyant party-crasher, and a damaged beauty whose cloudy psyche is lost in a world of its own. Before the night is out, one of the guests is dead with a bullet between the eyes and Phil finds herself with another mystery on her hands, even if it’s unclear who exactly the intended victim was meant to be.

Worse yet, the police’s prime suspect is a mystery man who Phil happens to be rather intimately acquainted with. Now it’s up to Lady Dunbridge, with the invaluable assistance of her intrepid butler and lady’s maid, to find the real culprit before the police nab the wrong one . . .

Law of the Land by Elmer Kelton

Sixteen stories, where good meets bad, and everything inbetween, from the legendary author of the west, Elmer Kelton.

Law of the Land chronicles some of his most exciting and dangerous tales of the old west, collected together for the first time–including the exciting first publication of a never-before published Kelton story, Biscuits for Bandit.

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Forge Your Own St. Patrick’s Day Party!

By Lizzy Hosty

St. Patrick’s Day always holds a special place in my heart from growing up in an Irish American household – every year was celebrated with corned beef and cabbage, cake, and, of course, various types of beer. Last year, everyone’s celebrations were put on hold due to the beginning of the quarantine, and it’s pretty sad to know that yet again I will not be able to celebrate with family again this year. If you’re in that same camp, don’t worry! I’ve created a list of fun activities you can do to commemorate the day and still feel connected to your family and friends.


  •  Buddy read a great Irish book!

Reach out to one of your loved ones and ask them if you want to read a book at the same time together, and then chat on Zoom afterwards to debrief – kind of like a mini-book club! Some books to get you started are:

  • An Irish Country Welcome (or any of the Irish Country Books) by Patrick Taylor, about a close-knight Irish village anticipating the birth of the town’s beloved doctor, Barry Laverty and his wife Sue at the tail end of the 1960’s.
  • Of Irish Blood or Irish Above All by Mary Pat Kelly, of the Of Irish Blood series, which follows Nora Kelly a young woman in the beginning of the 20th century, and who inadvertently interacts with key Parisian celebrities, like Gertrude Stein (in Of Irish Blood) and important American politicians, like President-elect Franklin Roosevelt (in Irish Above All).
  • Finn Mac Cool by Morgan Llywelyn, book three in the Celtic World of Morgan Llwelyn series, and which is about the mystical person of Finn Mac Cool – part myth, parth history – who rose from lowest classes of Irish society to eventually lead the invincible army of Fianna.

2. Decorate your living space with party supplies!

Even though we can’t host traditional parties anymore, we can still make the place look festive and merry! Either brave entering your closest dollar store, or order online with quick shipping, and scoop up some faux pots of gold, four leaf clover sunglasses, green beaded necklaces, green party garlands, leprechaun decals, rainbow stickers, and don a green St. Paddy’s day top hat.

3. Invite your friends and family to watch an Irish movie online and drink your beverage of choice!

Some streaming services are now offering ways to watch movies on the site with other folks that have an account, including Disney+ (built into the website), Amazon Watch Party (still in beta), Hulu Watch Party, Teleparty (a third party extension that lets you watch multiple sites, including Netflix), and for when only one member of the group has a subscription, use Kast, formerly known as Rabbit (third party extension). Some Irish movies to suggest to your friends are The Luck of the Irish, anything with Saorise Ronan in it (Little Women, Lady Bird, Brooklyn), and The Breadwinner.

4. Cook some traditional Irish foods!

Listen, don’t let the “and cabbage” part of corned beef and cabbage throw you off – this dish is actually really delicious, and is well worth the time it takes to make it. But if you’d rather forgo the time and cabbage (I’m telling you, you’re missing out!), there’s also shepherd’s pie and Irish soda bread. And if you want to make some dessert, you can always scoop up some easy to make cookies with those four leaf clovers on them, or you can make Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies (or just buy a tub of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream; both works).

5. Listen to some Irish pub songs!

Recently on TikTok, there has been a craze with listening to sea shanties, and while I definitely recommend listening to all those videos immediately if you haven’t, you can also listen to the jovial group songs that once permeated Irish pubs, like “If You’re Irish, Come Into the Parlour,” “The Fields of Athenry,” or “Whiskey in a Jar.”

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Books & Cozy Drinks that’ll Bring you Good Cheer for the End of the Year

By Ariana Carpentieri

Everyone knows that when the holidays are upon us, it also means a whole new layer of stress gets added on top of our everyday, regular busyness (and, not to mention, the extra stress of the ongoing Pandemic). But along with all the holiday madness comes something we all know and love: holiday treats and drinks! There’s nothing quite like curling up under a soft blanket near the warmth of a crackling fire with a good book in one hand and a festive drink in the other.

Get into the festive holiday spirit by pairing of our deliciously captivating books with some drinks that’ll pack a punch and warm your heart!


A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

Image Place holder  of - 76A Dog’s Perfect Christmas is a book about the Goss family; a family that has a hard time communicating with one another, and therefore always seem to be at odds. But they must learn how to get past their differences and bond together—and in the spirit of Christmas, no less. Since it’s a family-oriented book, This Creamy Crock Pot Hot Chocolate is perfect for serving your whole fam and drinking it together while gathered around the tree. It wouldn’t be the whole family without your faithful dog, so you can whip them up this Safe Hot Chocolate Alternative for Dogs so that they can be part of the festivities, too!

The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader

Poster Placeholder of - 80The Nemesis Manifesto an epic and harrowing adventure of predatory forces that are threatening the very fabric of democracy. This book is thick with intrigue, adventure, and action, which we think calls for it to be paired with an equally as thick, rich drink like spiked eggnog! This Holiday Spiked Eggnog recipe suggests to mix Amaretto liqueur with some white rum and then add a dash of nutmeg to the top to really give it that holiday cheer. 

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

Image Placeholder of - 81Midnight at the Blackbird Café is a captivating blend of magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm. A book like this calls for some liquid magic! And liquid magic always has a touch of caffeine, right? Also, cafés are known for serving coffee! Try an Eggnog Coffee Latte / Eggnog Chai Latte (for the tea lovers out there), which will give you that touch of magic you’re looking for this holiday season.

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Placeholder of  -60Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered  is Karen and Georgia’s irreverent recount of their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation today. There’s no better drink to pair with this book than Canned Wine, which we all know is Georgia’s choice of drink when taping My Favorite Murder. But if canned wine isn’t your thing, then we suggest trying a bottle of 19 Crimes Red Blend (because the name literally speaks for itself). And honestly: what would the holidays be without a little wine to liven up the night?

Lionhearts by Nathan Makaryk

Place holder  of - 9Lionhearts is a heroically riveting story of vengeance, redemption, war, and has some Game of Throne vibes. No drinks quite capture the essence of the Renaissance era quite like mead and beer, so those are necessities to pair with this book! Between this Holiday Mead Cocktail recipe or this Stout Hot Chocolate, you’ll definitely feel great tidings of comfort and joy.

An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Christmas is a cozy tale that takes place in the village of Ballybucklebo. While snow is rare in Ulsterand so are miraclesthat doesn’t mean they never happen! We feel this delightful story would go great with a drink that’s timeless and classic, like a nice Guinness and Pear Cocktail. Everything about this drink and book will warm you up from head to toe!

A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

Roasted chestnuts from vendor’s carts, fresh cut spruce trees lining the sidewalks, extravagant gifts, opulent dinners, carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral, a warm meal and a few minutes shelter from the cold at one of the charitable food lines . . .It’s the holidays in Gilded Age Manhattan! Set on New Year’s Eve, A Resolution at Midnight is a perfect, cozy mystery read for the holiday season. For a book this lavish, we suggest a drink that’s equally as fancy. This Holiday Spiced Mulled Wine is the perfect pair for a story as dazzling as this one!

 

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy treating yourself to these incredible reads and drinks during the upcoming holidays!

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Holiday Treats for Your Holiday Reads

By Julia Bergen

What we all need this holiday season is to sit down with a book and some treats. It’s socially distanced, it’s relaxing, it’s everything you need right now. But what treats go with what book? No worries, friend, we’ve thought this out so you don’t have to. Now get back to decorating that tree/cooking that turkey/ordering that Indian food/living your best pandemic life.


Place holder  of - 39A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble – Champagne Truffles

Even if you’re not reading A Resolution at Midnight on New Year’s Eve, you can still feel like you’re ringing in the New Year with a champagne truffle. This historical mystery is set in Gilded Age Manhattan, right during Christmas season, and Shelley Noble is ready to transport you to the streets of Old New York. Just make sure to hold your pinky out while you eat your truffles; Lady Dunbridge is an aristocrat, after all!

Image Placeholder of - 93A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron – Peanut Butter Cookies

Bake some for yourself, and some canine-friendly peanut butter treats for your best fluffy friend. Not only are peanut butter cookies perfect for this book because dogs love peanut butter, but also because W. Bruce Cameron books are kind of the peanut butter cookie of your bookshelf. They’re sweet without being saccharine, they’re utterly delightful, and everybody loves them. Another good holiday treat for this book, if you’re into puns, peppermint BARK.

Poster Placeholder of - 65And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall – Thumbprint Cookies

Since the protagonist of And Now She’s Gone is a PI, thumbprint cookies are the perfect treat for this fast-paced mystery. While the mystery of who left the thumbprint on your cookie is already solved, the mystery of how many thumbprint cookies you’ll eat is still unfolding! You’ll need a generous plate of these, because the last thing you’ll want to do while trying to find out whether Isabel Lincoln is missing or on the run is get up for another plate of cookies.

Placeholder of  -37An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor – Irish Shortbread Cookies

You’ll want an Irish treat as you immerse yourself in the village life of Ballybucklebo, where cozy stories happen 365 days a year. Preferably alongside a nice cup of tea for dipping. In this particular tale, doctor Barry Laverty and his wife Sue are anxiously awaiting their first child, while a new well-to-do fledgling doctor attempts to fit in with rough and tumble village life. That’s enough coziness to last you through 2022.

Image Place holder  of - 12South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber  – Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is the perfect holiday AND Southern dessert to make your reading experience perfect as you settle in to South of the Buttonwood Tree. Best served with a tall glass of sweet tea! Heather Webber perfectly creates the atmosphere of a small Southern town in Buttonwood, Alabama in this heartwarming story of magic, love, and family.

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Irish Country Recipes to Cook at Home

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The temperature is dropping and the leaves are changing… the coziest season of them all is finally here! And with it comes a new book in the Irish Country series by Patrick Taylor. Fans know that one of the features of these utterly charming books is the selection of recipes from Mrs. Maureen “Kinky” Auchinleck, Dr. O’Reilly’s colorful and kooky housekeeper. Her Irish favorites, like soda bread, parsnip and apple soup, and roast goose are perfect for enjoying on a cool fall afternoon.

In honor of the release of An Irish Country Welcome, Patrick Taylor’s latest entry in the series, we suggest some of her yummiest recipes – one savory and one sweet – just made for cozying up with a cup of tea.


Mushroom Puffs

Makes about 30 to 40

  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 455 g. / 1 lb. mushrooms (any variety), chopped
  • Pinch of salt and a little black pepper
  • 455 g. / 1 lb. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons of Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce
  • 455 g. / 1 lb. packaged puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk and a little milk
  • Preheat the oven 200°C / 400°F.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet and gently sauté the chopped shallots. Add the crushed garlic and fry gently until cooked through but still transparent.

Now add the chopped mushrooms and pepper and when cooked, season with salt to taste.

Drain the liquid from the mushroom mixture. Combine the mushroom, shallots, and garlic with the softened cream cheese and the Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce.

Roll each piece of puff pastry out into 2 rectangles and cut each in half lengthwise.

Place a layer of mushroom and cheese mixture down the middle of each pastry rectangle, then brush each with beaten egg wash on one side edge.

Now fold the unwashed pastry edge over to the other side and press the 2 edges together to seal.

Brush the top with the remaining beaten egg to make a glaze and cut into 8 to 10 bite- size pieces.

Bake for about 15 minutes until puffed up and golden.


Victoria Sandwich Cake

  • 225 g. / 8 oz. flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 225 g. / 8 oz. butter or good- quality margarine softened to room temperature
  • 225 g. / 8 oz. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • A splash of milk
  • Raspberry or strawberry jam
  • Heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350F°.

Grease and line 2 circular cake tins, 20 cm. / 8 in. in diameter, and 5 cm. / 2 in. deep, with baking paper.

Sift together the flour and the baking powder until well blended. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time. To prevent the mixture from curdling, add a spoonful of flour after each egg has been added.

Carefully fold in the flour mixture using a large metal spoon, adding a little extra milk if necessary, to create a batter with a soft dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and spread out evenly with a knife or a spatula.

Bake for 20– 25 minutes, or until golden- brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Then remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Place onto a wire rack and cover with a dry tea towel.

Whip the cream with an electric mixer until it forms soft peaks when the beater is removed.

Sandwich the cakes together with the whipped cream and jam. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar.

You can make this beautiful sandwich with a variety of flavours: 1) add grated orange or lemon zest and a little juice instead of milk. 2) add a little made- up strong black coffee and fill with a buttercream icing.

Recipe for Buttercream Icing

After the ingredients add

  • 140 g. / 5 oz. butter, softened
  • 280 g. / 10 oz. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1– 2 tablespoons milk or other flavouring such as coffee
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the ingredients together

Grab your copy of An Irish Country Welcome—on sale now!

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