Redemption & Apple Pie
The act of being redeemed. The act of being treated as if you’ve never done something wrong.
Have you ever felt the need for this?
I have. I’ve made a lot of dumb choices in my life where I’ve not only needed forgiveness, but I’ve need to make amends.
But what happens when you’re accused, convicted…and you’ve never done anything wrong in the first place? How do you find your redemption then?
Sounds tough, right? Almost impossible?
The day this story came to me, I was sitting on my couch, watching football, curled up with a warm and fuzzy blanket. While this story unfolded in my mind, I grabbed a notebook and scribbled down fifteen pages of notes. In forty books, the intensity in which I felt this entire story of love and redemption and courage and growth has never happened previously.
And yet through all of these notes, my heart raced, goose bumps flooded my arms, and at one point I was crying so hard my husband turned to ask if I was okay. “Yes. I’m incredibly great. I’m amazing,” I replied to him. He gave me wide eyes, looked at me like I was crazy (I kind of am) and went back to the game (because he’s used to my crazy). Such is the life of living with an author, I suppose.
Regardless, when we meet Lilly in All The Ugly Things, she is at the bottom. Recently paroled from prison, all her life dreams vanished with a snap of fingers and the bang of a gavel. She’s spent six years in prison and is now trying to make the most of what life she can. She is alone. No friends. No family. Until the Valentines entire her life and hand her all her hopes and dreams on a platter.
Her road is rocky. Her path uncertain. And yet what I love most about Lilly is regardless of how many times she’s been knocked down, she gets up… and she tries again. This story is about so much more than two people finding love. It’s a twisting, emotional journey of two broken people who, in deciding to help others, find themselves along the way. I hope you’ll come along with me for this ride. I’ll hold your hand the entire time.
If you’ve ever been knocked down, hit rock bottom, don’t know how to make amends for choices you’ve made…get up. Take a step. And keep trying. Because there’s something great waiting for you on the other side.
My twelve-year-old daughter is our family’s baker. She’s been baking since she was nine and is a whiz in the kitchen. The day I thought of this story, she was in the kitchen, making individual, handheld apple pies. The smell of which made it’s way into All The Ugly Things when David and Hudson Valentine go to meet Lilly at the diner where she works. It might be spring, and not the time of year for apple pie, but I hope you enjoy this recipe my daughter loves to whip up.
Pie Crust: Cream Cheese Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 package (1/2 lb) cream cheese, at room temperature
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, and cream cheese and process until combined and a dough forms.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and shape into a disk.
3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes before rolling out.
(Note: The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; defrost in the refrigerator for 12 hours before using)
Apple Pie Filling
Cream cheese dough
1 lb apples, such as Fuji or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 large egg
1 teaspoon whole milk
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- Make the dough. While the dough is chilling, gather a saucepan and filling ingredients.
- In a saucepan, stir together the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flour is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Remove the dough from the plastic wrap. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 1/8 inch thick, into a 12-by-18 inch rectangle. Using a 4-inch round cutter, cut out 16 rounds, gathering up the scraps of dough and rerolling as needed.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the edges of the dough rounds with some of the egg mixture. Place about 2 tablespoons of the apple filling in the center of each round, then fold over to form a half-moon. Seal the edges and crimp them with the tines of a fork. Cut a small slit in the top of each pie. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the pies are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pies to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before serving.
All the Ugly Things
One night changed everything.
In a single breath my entire future was ripped away.
Now I’m left simply trying to pick up the pieces.
Endless nights waiting tables in hopes of keeping a single piece of the dream I left behind.
He came for pie with dark eyes and a cocky smile.
But those eyes saw more than they should.
Past my walls to all those secrets I’d long buried.
That should’ve been my first warning.
I should’ve said no when he offered me a job too good to be true.
But I said yes.
Slowly friendship sparked to something more.
Stolen moments became an obsession neither of us could kick.
Hudson gave me more than I’d ever dreamed.
So much of what I had lost.
A home. A family.
I should’ve known it was all a beautiful lie.
I should’ve known he’d only leave me with all the ugly things…
Stacey Lynn likes her coffee with a dash of sugar, her heroes with a side of bossy, and her wine a deep shade of red.
The author of over thirty romance novels, many of which have been best-selling titles on Amazon, AppleBooks, and Barnes & Noble, she loves being able to turn her vivid imagination into a career that brings entertainment and joy to her readers. Focused on sports romance and emotional, small-town romance, she also loves stretching herself in different genres.
Born in Texas and raised in the Midwest, she now makes her home in North Carolina and loves all things Southern. Together with her ultimate tall, dark, and handsome hero, she has four children. Her life is a chaotic mess that fights with her Type-A, list-making, neurotically organized preferences and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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Check out this Chocolate Cake Martini inspired by All the Ugly Things…