My special guest author today is Toni V. Sweeney aka Icy Snow Blackstone. She currently has five pieces listed on Smashwords and also on Amazon/Kindle. And she shares that she has signed a contract for 3 more novels with Class Act Books, and with Double Dragon Publications for 10 novels.
Peanuts, They’re not just from the South
In my novel, Runaway Brother, a millionaire Yankee, on the run from his overbearing brothers, finds himself in a little South Georgia town, on a collision course with a feisty Southern Miss and a horse named Shazam. Having no conception of the South except from Hee-Haw re-runs, episodes of Dukes of Hazzard on some nostalgic local TV channel, or a late-night viewing of Deliverance, Nick Liguori has no idea what he’s in for. What happens is more than a surprise as Sidney McDaniel weaves her sultry Southern spell around the unsuspecting boy from “up Nawth.”
One of the things Sidney does is cook for Nick, proving the way to a man’s heart is partially through his stomach…fried chicken, corn bread, turnip greens and collards, home made biscuit and gravy, and grits. She doesn’t feed him any peanuts, however, and more’s the pity. To make up for that discrepancy, I’m going to let you in on a few little known facts about the ground pea…the goober…that wonderful gustatory delight, the peanut…
The li’l ol’ peanut has a fascinating history. It’s a native of the Americas—South and Central America, that is—and is one of the gifts along with corn and tobacco that Native Americans gave to the white man.
This little legume had a spot in the hearts of the natives of the Americas and surviving sculptures of peanuts have been found in Peru, circa 300 AD. It’s believed that peanuts were first domesticated in Peru around 7,600 years ago. When the conquistadores came to Central America and plundered their way to Mexico City, they found tlalcacahuatl (that’s peanuts in Aztec-talk), being sold in the markets there. The plants were taken back to Europe and from there to Africa in the 1800s, where they were re-introduced to the United States. Peanuts were taken to China in the 1600s by Portuguese traders where they were used in many dishes and sometimes boiled. So—boiled peanuts is a Chinese dish. Take that, those of you who look down on this Southern delicacy! Today, China is the largest producer of peanuts in the world, followed by India and then the US, although the US is the major exporter. In fact, most of the peanuts in the US are grown in or near Dothan, Alabama, where the Annual Peanut Festival is held each fall.
Peanuts grow best in sandy soil, with five months of warm weather, and good rainfall. They ripen in 120 to 150 days. There are four types of peanuts: Spanish, Virginia, Runner, and Valencia. Subgroups are Tennessee Red and Tennessee White. During the 1940s, 90% of the peanuts grown in the South were Spanish peanuts, which are small, red-skinned peanuts but today most of the varieties grown are Runners. Virginias are the kind usually called “cocktail nuts.” There are also many strains inside each group.
Thanks to George Washington Carver, who discovered so many ways to process the peanut, it is used in confections, oils, flours, as a high-protein, energy paste to stave off malnutrition, as well as in plastics, cosmetics, nitroglycerin, dyes, and paints. It has been stated that refined peanut oil can be safely consumed by people with a peanut allergy because the protein is destroyed during processing. (If you are allergic, please verify this with a professional before using, however.)
Peanuts are a good source of niacin, resveratrol, CoQ10 enzyme, and antioxidants. I personally like (in order of importance) boiled peanuts, dry roasted, Snickers bars, Paydays, and as an ingredient in tossed salad.
(Thanks to Wikipedia for some of this information.)
Now for some info about Runaway Brother…
Title: Runaway Brother
Author: Icy Snow Blackstone
Length: 138 pages
Publisher: Class Act Books
Buy Link: Class Act Books (paperback)
Buy Link: Amazon (paperback)
Buy Link: Amazon (Kindle)
At the age of twenty-two, newly-graduated Nicolo Liguori is forced by his three brothers to become care-giver for his father, who suffered multiple strokes. For the next ten years, Nick gives up his own ambitions , working during the day in the family jewelry business in Vanderhoek, New York, and returning to the Liguori mansion every night, to be at his father’s beck-and-call. Then Papa dies and Nick is free…or is he? Carlo, Marco, and Pietro expect him to continue life as usual, but Nick has other ideas. Secretly buying a motorcycle, he starts to work one day and… disappears.
Nick gets as far as the southern coast of Georgia before an accident disables his bike. Stranded, with no idea of the South except what he’s seen on TV, Nick isn’t certain what kind of reception he’s going to get. Then, a pretty Southern miss and a white tank disguised as a temperamental horse named Shazam change his life as they and the citizens of Oceano teach a runaway Yankee about life and love in a small Georgia town.
The track was getting narrower, barely two ruts now with a width of slender, wiry grass separating them. He slowed the bike. Don’t want to get that stuff caught in the spokes and stall the engine.
From far off to his right came a faint sound as if someone was beating a drum.
Nick raised his head, looking around, then gave a loud sigh of exasperation. Okay! So I’m lost! He’d just follow the road to wherever it went, probably to some farmer’s front yard. When he got there, he’d apologize, turn around and get himself back to the main drag. If he could find it.
A broken branch loomed ahead, and he turned his attention to it, guiding the bike around it. The drumming came closer.
A second branch and several twigs littered the roadway. Nick was so concerned with maneuvering around them he didn’t see the horse sail over the fence, wasn’t even aware it was there until he looked up and found the white shape almost directly in front of him.
He jerked the wheel to the right, forgetting to apply the rear brakes first. The bike skidded, its back wheel rising off the ground as the front one stopped rolling. He had a brief vision of the animal leaping forward, its rider clinging to its back, wide, frightened blue eyes, flying blonde hair…
The motorcycle went off the road, sliding into the ditch and running up the other side, the front fender striking one of the fence posts. It bounced and rebounded, and Nick went flying over the handlebars, flipping in mid-air and hitting the same post with his back. The bike wavered a moment, then toppled onto its side. Nick slid down the post, landing upside down in the ditch, his shoulders crushing coffeeweed into an aromatic mass.
The pounding hooves stopped. He heard running footsteps, opened his eyes and saw someone running toward him. He closed them again.
“Are you hurt?”
This time when he opened his eyes, he was staring at the upside-down face of a very pretty girl, at least she’d have been pretty if her face wasn’t screwed up into such a dismayed scowl.
“Am I hurt?” He managed a growl as he slid further into the weeds and rolled over. “I just hit a fence and got tossed into a ditch! What do you think?” Clambering to his knees, while she plucked ineffectually at one arm, he jerked out of her grasp. “I can get up by my— Ow!”
He’d gotten upright, took a step, and his leg buckled, turning at the ankle. He sat down a little quicker than he intended, back into the weeds again as he ran a hand down his boot to touch his ankle. He could feel angry throbs of heat pulsing through it.
“Maledicta quella ferita!”
“Here.” She slid into the ditch, offering a hand. Reluctantly he took it, being careful not to put too much weight behind it as he let her pull him to his feet. He could see she was worried and he really wasn’t hurt all that bad, but he was angry because she’d been so reckless.
She began to brush bits of leaves and dirt off his shoulders.
Jerking away, he demanded, “What the Hell’s the matter with you? Jumping in front of me like that! If I’d hit that horse—”
“What are you doing riding this road? This is private property.”
Did that mean she knew the owner or—God forbid—she was the owner? Couldn’t be. She was too young, not more than seventeen surely, small, short, blonde, and that voice… Crystallized honey with a scratchy undercurrent. A real Southern accent, not like the ones he’d heard on TV or in the movies, and most definitely not in New York City!
She was too pretty for him to pretend to stay angry at, so he toned it down, answering her question. “I got lost. I only wanted to find the end of the road and turn around.”
“You have a way to go. The house is about a quarter of a mile that way.” She nodded toward a group of pines thrust into the road, hiding the rest of it from sight. Nick looked in that direction, then back at her. She, in turn, looked at the motorcycle, still on its side in the weeds. “You seem okay. Is that hurt?”
He limped over and inspected it. The front fender was smashed and ripped upwards. The tire has an impact-split in it and the spokes were bent and twisted. That isn’t too bad, he told himself. Jojo had given him a basic tool set and a crash course in Motorcycle Care 101. I can straighten the spokes and the fender. Get a new tire and be on my— Hold it! The headlight was smashed, hanging out of the socket like a dislocated eyeball, and the clutch cable… Somehow it had been severed.
Nick got down on one knee, feeling under the bike. His hand came away wet. He sniffed at his fingers.
Merda! He pulled off one glove, exploring gingerly. Something had punched a hole in the gas tank and gasoline was pouring into the grass. He had no idea how, but it didn’t matter. What did was that he wasn’t going anywhere as long as that hole was there.
“Well?” She appeared to be awaiting his diagnosis.
He wiped his fingers on the seat of his jeans. “Gas tank’s got a hole in it, clutch cable’s severed. Is there a motorcycle shop around here anywhere?”
“No, but Marshall’s in town can probably repair it. He does everything from lawn mowers to farm machinery.”
Oh Lord, deliver me from small town handymen! He was about to tell her he didn’t want Marshall touching his bike when he realized, What else am I going to do? Do you have a better idea, Mr. Runaway?
“So which way is town?” He straightened, looked around as if expecting to see the city limits a few feet away.
“Too far for you to push that thing,” she answered, gesturing at the front wheel. “Not with it twisted like that.”
“What do I do then, Miss Not-So-Helpful? Since this is your fault—”
“My fault?” Hands went to her hips. And deliciously slim ones they were, too. Nick had a moment to think she looked anything but angry, though it was apparent she thought she did. Cute, maybe. Hell, he might even say adorable with those blonde wisps floating around her face, but angry? Nope! “Who’s the trespasser? Who had his head down, studying the ground when he should’ve been looking straight ahead?”
“You weren’t ahead of me,” he countered. “You and that white tank of yours jumped a fence and came in from the side.”
She stared at him, taking a deep breath and getting ready for some type of vitriolic response. Memories of The Dukes of Hazzard and how the Duke Boys always verbally got the best of Boss Hawg came into his mind. Well, this Daisy Duke wasn’t getting the best of him. He wouldn’t allow it.
“Never mind. Just let me get the bike upright and point me in the right direction, and—”
“I’ll do no such thing.” That made him stare at her, wondering if she was going to walk away, mount her white steed, and leave him stranded knee-deep in Kudzu or whatever-the-Hell these weeds were. “I’ll ride back to the house and get my grandpa’s truck. We”ll put the motorcycle in it.”
She clambered up the bank, running toward the horse now was grazing on the other side of the road. Catching the reins and a handful of mane, she swung into the horse’s back—very gracefully, he noted—then turned the animal’s head and trotted it back to him.
He liked the way the jolting gait made her breasts bounce under the jersey tee. Damn, they’re perky little things! Che pezzeta saporita! He forced himself to hide his appreciation. Barely stopped his tongue from coming out and licking his lower lip. Hoped he wasn’t drooling.
“You stay right there,” she told him. “I’ll be back in a jif!” She kicked the horse in the ribs and sent it galloping down the road.
He liked the way her butt bounced, too.
They dodged a tree limb, took the turn and vanished from sight, though he heard the sound of hoofbeats for a few minutes more.
Nick turned his attention back to the V-Rod. It hadn’t moved. Did he expect it to get up and limp over to him like a dog with a hurt paw, whimpering for sympathy? Shaking his head, he leaned against the edge of the ditch, back against a fencepost.
Welcome South, Brother!
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