Shore Feels Like Food with Annette Mardis

Thanks so much, Tami, for hosting me. My contemporary romance series is set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.

You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.

You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, dine on local seafood specialties, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.

You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress. And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.

The Shore Thing

Like many of us, Danielle “Dani” Davidson, leading lady of The Shore Thing, Gulf Shore Book 1, is tired at the end of her workday at Gulf Shore Aquarium. As an education specialist, she’s on her feet all day, giving tours, interacting with guests, and in general teaching people about marine life. The last thing Dani wants to do when she gets home is cook a big meal. So she relies a lot on her trusty slow-cooker.

One of her favorite sources of easy dinner ideas is the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good. Dani particularly is partial to this pizza rice recipe contributed by Sue Hamilton of Minooka, IL.


Makes six servings

Pizza Rice 

2 cups rice, uncooked

3 cups chunky pizza (or pasta) sauce

2 ½ cups water

7-oz. can mushrooms, undrained

4 oz. pepperoni, sliced

1 cup grated cheese


  1. Combine rice, sauce, water, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Stir.
  2. Cover. Cook on low ten hours or on high six hours. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.


Dani likes her pizza rice with extra tomato flavor, so she adds a 14.5-ounce can or two of crushed or diced tomatoes. And for a little more oomph, she often supplements the recipe with black or green olives. Pizza rice can be a tasty side dish or a main course. And it’s a great contribution to a potluck meal or a party.

Dani is all for sharing her pizza rice with someone special in her life. But she vows to just say no to workplace romances after her first post-college job is soured by a messy breakup with a manipulative coworker at a fish hatchery. That’s just one reason she doesn’t trust any man with her heart, let alone one who swims with sharks for a living. So why can’t she get cameraman Evan Sanders out of her mind?

Evan is twice shy, too, after an alluring but self-absorbed colleague at the aquarium takes a bite out of his heart. Thought he’s dead set against dating anyone else he works with, he’s intrigued by Dani’s shyness and tempted by her intelligence and low-key sexiness.

Their attraction smolders until an unfortunate encounter with a stingray sends Dani to the emergency room and Evan steps up to help her through her recovery. The two also bond over the rescue of an orphaned baby dolphin. But will Evan’s vindictive ex-lover, his career ambitions, and Dani’s inhibitions tear the young lovers apart?

Marine biologist Monica Sims, the woman who trampled Evan’s heart, decides to mend her mean girl ways after her bad behavior makes her a pariah among her coworkers. She spends months reinventing herself as she seeks redemption.

A history of failed relationships leaves Monica leery of romantic involvement until she meets Cosby Williams, the new co-owner of Nauti-Toys Watercraft Rentals. Their story unfolds in Shore Feels Right, Gulf Shore Book 2.Shore Feels Right

When Monica finds out that Cosby is living on a steady diet of burgers, foot-long subs and pizza, she takes him to task for his unhealthy bachelor cuisine.

“That’s no way to eat,” she scolds.

“Good thing you came along or I might starve,” he teases.

“I’m serious. You need to treat yourself better than that,” she insists. “It doesn’t take much effort to stick a pork loin roast or a couple of chicken breasts into a slow cooker before you leave for work. Or just throw together a salad when you get home.”

“Salad? That’s chick food.” At her indignant look, Cosby grins and winks.

“So buy precooked chicken or beef strips to throw in with the greens if your inner carnivore can’t conceive of an evening meal without meat,” Monica suggests.

She invites Cosby over for dinner and prepares Asian-marinated baked chicken, which she describes as “nothing fancy, but very tasty.”

“You soak the meat overnight in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a little brown sugar,” she explains. “Then you bake it for forty minutes. So simple, even a marine biologist can do it.”

As a side dish, Monica serves her favorite veggie, green beans, which just happens to be Cosby’s preference on the rare occasions he eats something green. To spice them up, they drizzle some of the marinade over the beans.

Like most couples, Monica and Cosby get to know each other over a few good meals. They first dine together at the aquarium’s Gulf Breeze Café, where they order Asian chicken salads for lunch. Their first dinner is at a seafood restaurant called Captain Clem’s.

Cosby can’t believe Monica favors the place. The ramshackle exterior resembles an old bait and tackle shop, and the view doesn’t improve when they stroll through the front door. Crab traps, fishing nets, floats, rubber boots, and other work-worn gear cover the walls and hang from the ceiling, and most of the seating is crude picnic-style tables.

It’s not exactly a quiet, romantic interlude, but the food at least makes up for it. Cosby gobbles down a succulent pile of fried shrimp and clams, while Monica opts for broiled grouper.

As things heat up between the pair, Gulf Shore Aquarium responds to the stranding of a group of pilot whales. When a billionaire bachelor lends his private plane to the rescue effort, Monica catches his eye—and an obsession is born.

How will she cope with the unwanted attention? And will her past sins come back to doom her newfound happiness with Cosby?


 Well, what do you think? You had to know food would be involved in books based on the Gulf, right? I bet that pizza rice recipe would be delicious with shrimp as one of the toppings! Oh, and heads up: get to reading these two books, because I hear rumor number three is releasing this summer! Click HERE to check out Annette’s books on Amazon. And if you want to stalk her, the means are below. Enjoy your reading – and eating!

Connect with Annette

Annette Mardis



Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48









I hope you’ve enjoyed these Appetizing April posts. The next one will be April 27 – and will feature my latest release, Light Beyond the Darkness, Lightbearer #3. The hero and heroine meet in a restaurant, of all places. I’ll post an excerpt, for your reading pleasure. Until then, happy reading!




Get Lost in the Everglades with Author Stacy Hoff

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Stacy Hoff to my blog. Stacy writes contemporary romance, and her first book was released through Soul Mates Publishing on September 17th. She agreed to answer a few questions for me, so that you all could get to know her better.

Tami’s Thoughts: Hello, Stacy. Thank you for subjecting yourself to my Q&A today. Let’s start with the basics. Tell us a little about yourself.

Stacy Hoff: For my “day job,” I’m a lawyer.  I handle contracts, primarily commercial and construction. I’ve been practicing law for almost two decades.

For my “night job,” I’m a wife and mother. I have a busy husband and (if possible) two busier boys (ages twelve and nine). On occasion, I can put dinner on the table before 7:00 PM. I’m apparently an excellent chauffer, as I schlep my kids everywhere. I can always offer my driving services professionally if my “side job” doesn’t work out.

For the above mentioned “side job,” I’m a writer, of course. I fit in my writing somewhere between the hours of 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM. During the weekends, I can also grab some daylight hours, if my kids sleep late. When I write at night, my husband watches a lot of sports on TV – football and baseball seasons are very productive for me. When a game isn’t on, ESPN commentary nicely fills in the gaps. So I’m one of those wives who doesn’t complain when my husband watches sports.

TT: I can relate! Now, tell us one incredibly strange or unique thing about you.

SH: I am an artist. I graduated from the “Fame” school in NYC, back in the eighties. I sketch nudes at a local art gallery, drawing on newsprint paper with a variety of charcoals. Taking figure drawing classes keeps my fingers flexible and my skills fresh.

TT: Okay, that’s certainly unique! And fascinating. How about something more … average? Pets or no pets?

SH: Unfortunately, “Squishy,” our Beta fish died. I think that’s going to be it for a while.

TT: Having a pet is like having another kid, so I get it. How about seasons? Winter or summer?

SH: For me, this is a no brainer. Since I live in New England, and abhor shoveling snow, I’m flat-out going with summer.

TT: I live in the great white north, too, so I get it. We always want what we can’t have (much of), right? How about drinks – red or white?

SH: As far as wine goes, I’m pretty ignorant. Thankfully, at my art classes, they have a variety of wine available to drink away our artistic tension, so whatever they’re servin’ I’m drinkin.’ I should disclose, however, that since my alcohol tolerance level is pathetic, and I obviously won’t drink and drive, I’m limited to having only a few sips during the first half-hour of our two-hour-long class. Better safe than sorry, I always say!

TT: Smart practice. However, if you ever want to learn more about wine, I’m a big fan… Of drinking it, that is. That comment, in my world, is the perfect transition into writing. So let’s talk about your books. What’s your genre of choice?

SH: To date, I’ve been a “blendy” writer, as well as a “pantser.” I have limited free time, so when I write, it’s because I have characters and a story line that really draws me into the manuscript. One thing is for sure, I write romance. But I’ve thrown in (depending on the book) action, adventure, humor, women’s fiction and soap opera drama. I’m extremely grateful to my publisher, Soul Mate Publishing, Inc., for not being afraid to blur genre lines.

TT: I like it. There are so many story lines and concepts that have been done a million times, it’s nice to discover an author who introduces us to something new. Let’s talk inspiration. How did you come up with the idea behind DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES?

SH: For fun, I watch a lot of TV survival shows. The premise for my book, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES, is of Stephanie Lang, a NYC television exec who is forced to produce a new reality TV show—a cross between “Crocodile Dundee” and “Survivorman.” Shortly after she meets the sexy star of the show, Colin Brandt, she finds out she has to survive out in the Everglades with him.

TT: I am officially intrigued. How many books have you published, and what’s coming out next?

DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES was just released on September 17th.  I do not yet have a release date for my next book, DIARY OF A YOUNG LAWYER, which will also be published by Soul Mate Publishing, Inc. Look for  it on in the next few months!

TT: Sounds like a plan. Now for the really important question: How steamy is DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES?

SH: I’d give DESIRE a “3.” I don’t write erotica (although I have no problem reading it). That said, my heroine’s character arc requires her to become emotionally confident. As a writer, I felt this arc needed to be reflected sexually, resulting in some pretty steamy scenes.

TT: Hey, that works. I think most romance readers fully enjoy reading that particular kind of arc. Is DESIRE part of a series?

SH: If people like DESIRE, I’d love to write a sequel. I’m sure writing it would be as fun as it was the first time.

TT: Okay, let’s have a peek. Do you have a favorite excerpt to share with us today?

SH: How about starting at the beginning…


Chapter 1


“Did I hear you right?” Stephanie Lang sputtered. “You’re saying our next reality TV series is about a modern day ‘Crocodile Dundee’ guy. Only sexier.” Could her job get any more insane? Thankfully, the big fancy desk the Teleworld Broadcasting Company bestowed concealed her shaky hands and white knuckles.

Her boss nodded with enthusiasm.

She cleared her throat, enlarging the gateway for her stuck, strangled words. “I’m having a hard time believing this, Mark. You want croc guy to tackle the Everglades. Alone. For twelve days. No camping or hunting equipment allowed and only a knife to protect himself. That’s what you’re seriously proposing?”

“That’s right. Though we’ll let him use more than a knife.” Mark stopped nodding and let loose a large grin. “He can always use his bare hands.”

Stephanie wanted to use her bare hands, too. Wrapping them tightly around Mark’s neck. Was this guy kidding, or what? Stifling a sigh, she garnered her patience and tried to look at the bright side. Mark was less stuffy than the other executives, which was good. Not afraid to crack a joke. Also good. Not concerned about anybody but himself. Bad. Very bad. And he steamrolled people to get his way. Much, much worse.

She hoped he didn’t steamroll her now, because this idea was plain old crazy. Seriously whack-a-doodle. “Is this show going to be safe to shoot?” she asked tenuously. If she showed too much emotion, she would join the thousands of New Yorkers standing on the unemployment line waving pink slips. Teleworld did not welcome emotional reactions to their business directives.

“Of course it’ll be safe to shoot,” he answered breezily. “We’re not even having our crew film it. Once they set up the cameras, we’re outta there. Of course, while they’re setting them up, there will be some risk. We’ll make sure they’re protected as best as can be reasonably expected.”

Cringing, she tried to ignore the word “reasonably.” Worst. Qualifier. Ever. Before this meeting was over, her whole body would be twitching. “I meant whether this was going to be safe for the guy we’re filming. He’ll be the one left out there, unprotected.”

“Dunno. Luckily, that’s not our problem. The guy’s willing to take the gamble, so I guess it’ll be safe enough. He’d know best how to calculate his player handicap.”

“This isn’t a round of leisurely golf. I don’t want this guy to wind up handicapped at all.” Yep. Barely eight o’clock in the morning and she was right on time for her daily dose of stomach acid.

TT: That was great. I like your writing style. Do you have a website, a social media presence, where your newest fans can stalk you?

SH: Readers should feel free to stalk me on social media as follows:  Facebook   Twitter


Stacy Hoff Photo TT: Excellent. Do you have any questions for our blog readers?

SH: Yes, I’d love to know what TV shows makes their imagination run wild. I hope they give me their answers in the comment section below!

TT: Thank you for joining us today, Stacy. Now, for the really important stuff: How can we read your book?

SH: People can order through Thanks for having me, Tami! This was a lot of fun to do!

TT: It was my pleasure, really. Now I’m off to lose myself in the Everglades with a sexy guy named Colin. Alligators don’t bite, do they?


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