Feb 10, 2016

A Deal to Mend their Marriage—behind the book

The first frisson of inspiration for Caro and Jack’s story came when I started playing around with the idea of a caper story. That spark might’ve ignited when a few writing friends of mine waxed lyrical about the movie To Catch a Thief when we were having lunch one day. It’s a movie I’ve never seen, but have always meant to watch.

I still haven’t seen it. But I will. Soon!

It also strikes me that, not long before this discussion of To Catch a Thief, I’d read Anne Stuart’s PRINCE OF SWORDS, which also happens to feature a cat burglar as a hero.

So…I’m guessing that between them, this is what influenced my book. :-)

To be fair, unlike Cary Grant, my hero isn’t a cat burglar, but a security specialist who has a certain…ahem, talent for retrieving lost items. My heroine, however, just like Grace Kelly, is an heiress. And rather than missing jewels we have a missing antique snuffbox. Just to make things more interesting I made them husband and wife…who've been estranged for the past five years. I find it hard to resist a reunion story, don't you?

That’s perhaps why this became my theme song for A DEAL TO MEND THEIR MARRIAGE….

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

And just for fun, here’s an except: Caro and Jack’s first meeting after five years apart…

Despite the loss of the snuffbox and all the morning’s kerfuffle, it was Jack’s face that rose in her mind and memories of the past that invaded Caro, chasing her other concerns aside, as she trudged across Westminster Bridge.
  So when she first saw his face in the midst of the crowd moving towards her on the bridge Caro dismissed it as a flight of fancy, a figment of her imagination. Until she realised that blinking hadn’t made the image fade. It had only made the features of that face clearer—a face that was burned onto her soul.
  She stopped dead. Jack was in London?
  The crowd surged around her, but she couldn’t move. All she could do was stare.
  Jack! Jack! Jack!
  His name pounded at her as waves of first cold and then heat washed over her. The ache to run to him nearly undid her. And then his gaze landed on her and he stopped dead too.
  She couldn’t see the extraordinary cobalt blue of his eyes at this distance, but she recognised the way they narrowed, noted the way his nostrils flared. She’d always wondered what would happen if they should accidentally meet on the street. Walking past each other without so much as an acknowledgement obviously wasn’t an option, and she was fiercely glad about that.
  Hauling in a breath, she tilted her head to the left a fraction and started towards the railing of the bridge. She leaned against it, staring down at the brown water swirling in swift currents below. He came to stand beside her, but she kept her gaze on the water.
  ‘Hello, Jack.’
  She couldn’t look at him. Not yet. She stared at the Houses of Parliament and then at the fa├žade of the aquarium on the other side of the river. ‘Have you been in London long?’
  Finally she turned to meet his gaze and her heart tried to grow bigger and smaller in the same moment. She read intent in his eyes and slowly straightened. ‘You’re here to see me?’
  His demeanour confirmed it, but he nodded anyway. ‘Yes.’
  ‘I see.’ She turned to stare back down at the river. ‘Actually…’ She frowned and sent him a sidelong glance. ‘I don’t see.’
  He folded his tall frame and leaned on the railing too. She dragged her gaze from his strong, hawk-like profile, afraid that if she didn’t she might reach across and kiss him.
  ‘I heard about your father.’
  She pursed her lips, her stomach churning like the currents below. ‘You didn’t send a card.’
  He didn’t say anything for a moment. ‘You send me a Christmas card every year…’
  He never sent her one.
  ‘Do you send all your ex-lovers Christmas cards?’
  She straightened. ‘Only the ones I marry.’

Can you tell I had a lot of fun writing A DEAL TO MEND THEIR MARRIAGE?

So tell me, are you a fan of a caper story? Do you like a little mystery mixed in with your romance? And do you love all of that delicious angsty history of a reunion story? Or maybe you prefer something altogether different—like a Cinderella rags-to-riches tale? Hmm…maybe I should write one of those next. ;-)

Feb 8, 2016

Valentine’s Day – Love It? Hate It?

Just a week to go to the Day of Love – Valentine’s Day. Being a romance writer, I love Valentine’s Day. I know lots of people hate the commercial side of things (and I do too) but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little loving focus on the one nearest and dearest to you.

And to celebrate it doesn’t have to be expensive or predictable (although again, I’m very happy with a big bunch of flowers). Picnic in the park together. Kayak down the creek together. Salsa in the sunshine together. Cooking pork chops together. Walk the wallaby together (well dog just didn’t alliterate!). It’s the being together and having a lovely time that counts.

As a romance writer, I’m often asked to speak at an event around this time.  This year, I’m travelling up to the Sunshine Coast to speak to the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network.  In fact, just as this post goes live, I’ll be driving up the coast to Queensland. I used to live on the Sunshine Coast, so it will be lovely to go back. Love to see you there, if you live up those parts.

Do you have plans for this Valentines Day? Do you celebrate it or believe it is now too commercial to indulge in?

Stop Press! My best-selling romance, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love, is currently on sale for $1.99. If you’d like to pick up a copy, visit Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play or other e-tailers.

Feb 7, 2016

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from BREAKING ALL THEIR RULES but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is reit_media

Can you please contact Michellemichelle (at) michelle-douglas  (dot) com to receive your copy of A DEAL TO MEND THEIR MARRIAGE

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Sue MacKay

Coming Soon: March
Plastic surgeon Olivia Coates-Clark ended her affair with Dr Zachary Wright before she could get hurt. But when a chance encounter brings them back together she finds herself considering breaking her one rule: not to give in to her desire for Zac! Can Zac prove to her that some rules are worth breaking?

Scene set-up: Olivia and Zac have gone back at his apartment for a drink after a charity auction Olivia organised to raise funds for their colleague who requires treatment overseas. One of the prizes at the auction was a trip for two to Fiji and another mischievous colleague bought it to give to Olivia and Zac. They're avoiding talking about the trip and what it means, and instead drift into a conversation about their families that neither is comfortable with.

‘You mentioned one brother.’  Olivia asked him.
Was that longing in her voice? Zac wondered. Hard to tell from her face. ‘Mark. He’s married with two kids. I only get to see them at Christmas and birthdays.’

Olivia picked at an invisible spot on the counter. ‘That’s incredibly sad.’

‘Yep.’ He made himself busy getting mugs from the cupboard and teabags from the pantry.

She lifted her head and locked her blue eyes on him, suddenly back to being in control. ‘Think I’ll head back to the hotel. I don’t really want tea. Or anything.’ She slipped off the stool and turned towards the doorway. ‘Goodnight, Zac.’

With little thought he reached for her, caught her wrist and gently tugged her close. With a finger under her chin he tilted her head back so he could gaze down into her eyes. And felt his head spinning with wanting her.

Olivia’s eyes widened and her chin rose further as her mouth opened slightly.

Zac was lost. Any resistance or logical thinking disappeared as he leaned closer to place his mouth over hers. As he tasted her, the heat and need he’d kept tamped down most of the night exploded into a rainbow of hot colours. Olivia. She was in his arms, her mouth on his, her tongue dancing with his. Olivia.

Slim arms wound around his neck, pulling his body closer to hers. He felt her rise onto tiptoe, knew the moment when her hips pressed against his obvious desire. Those breasts he’d been fantasising about all night flattened against his chest, turning him into a molten pool of need. His hands spread around her waist to lift her onto the stool, where she immediately wrapped her legs around his thighs.

This is what I’ve missed so damned much. We are fire on fire. Feeding each other. Consuming the oxygen.

She tasted wonderful, bringing more erotic memories back to him. Making new ones.

Lifting his mouth, he began trailing kisses over her jaw, down her neckline, on towards her deep cleavage. When she whimpered he continued while lifting his gaze to her face, where he recognised the same fiery awakening racing along his veins.

Her fingers kneaded his scalp as she pushed her breasts higher to give him more access with his tongue. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Of course she wasn’t. That dress had clung to every curve and outlined her shape perfectly; including her breasts, those peaks now hard against his mouth and hand.

‘It’s been so long,’ she murmured in a low voice that spelt sex. Her hands fumbled with the buttons of his shirt, finally pushed it open, and then her palms were on his skin, smoothing and teasing as only Olivia could do.

The memories that he’d lived on for all those long months apart rapidly became reality. He hadn’t enhanced any of them. This was how it had been between them. Oh, hell. There was nothing quite like making out with this woman. She knew the buttons to push, remembered what he most enjoyed, and if she wasn’t careful would have him coming long before he’d pleasured her.
That wasn’t happening.

Breaking All Their Rules is set in Auckland and on a beautiful Fijian island where I've stayed and yes, had a romantic week with my man.
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Feb 5, 2016

What's hanging on my walls.

Now the dust has settled from all our renos, one of my favourite jobs has been hanging all our art back on the newly painted walls and when I did it I got something of a surprise. I realized that all our pieces are about the places and people we love. I thought I'd show you a few and the little stories behind how we came to have them.
This was painted for me by my friend, Donna. It's called "Barbara's colours". It reminds me of paua shells, or leaves floating on a pond, and I absolutely love it.
This is a New Zealand artist who creates prints and lithographs inspired by Maori and Greek myths. This fits perfectly in our Greek - New Zealand household.
And here's another by the same artist. If you look closely you'll see some New Zealand icons on the Greek vase. This one of the first piecs we bought and still one of our favourites.
Our very good friend Maree gave us this as a wedding present. She was also our wedding photographer. She took it in the gardens of Sissinghurst. So romantic!
A local Maori artist did this piece for us. It represents our family and on the back has a beautiful Maori prayer written by the artist.
The mother of another friend is a well known New Zealand artist and this was another wedding present. It represents Persephone in the underworld. Another NZ/Greek piece.
My husband took this photo in 1992 when he visited his dad's village in Greece for the first time. There was no such thing as panorama then so he just took a number of pictures and then when the technology caught up we had them stitched together!
This hangs in my bedroom and is called "The Kiss". I think it sums up my world completely :) What about you? Do you have any favourite pictures hanging on your walls?

Feb 3, 2016

Bushfire Aftermath

Everything changed at our place on Saturday 19th December.  It was a brutally hot day, with a fierce north wind, severe fire danger. A total fire ban.

About 2.30pm, a fire had started in a road just to the west of our place. It swept to the south of us and a reasonable distance away.  For a while it looked like it was going to miss us.

But it didn’t.

At around 5pm, the wind shifted to a westerly and then a south westerly and the front roared our way heralding its approach with a vanguard of noise and smoke, embers and spotfires.

The power went out

We had a small window of opportunity to evacuate with the fire crews - we took it.

And waited with the car just under a kilometre away to see what would happen next. The wind changed again and the fire veered back onto the southerly track.

The front had passed on to wreak its ruthless havoc on other properties leaving us on a flank.

We couldn’t get back home via the road because of the risk from fire weakened trees.  But we were able to travel over blackened ground in the paddocks next door to our place.  Our house was still standing!  We started working to put out the spot fires, starting with those closest and working out.

We lost the sheds and everything in them.  But the two of us and our house were still standing – the house, a little scorched, and us, a little traumatised!

We know we were very, very fortunate! 

There’s a lot of work to be done. But, thanks to help from friends, we’ve made real progress with clearing up. 

Everything about the property is different, stripped bare. But that’s slowly changing too.

It’s hard to believe this was just over 6 weeks ago now and Nature has moved on!  Green shoots are bursting through blackened tree trunks.  In the herb garden, the sage and oregano and thyme are sending up tender green leaves.

Hot spots after the fire front had gone
A couple of days later: Stark and bare... but still rather beautiful.
The hakea enjoyed its toasting ...
...as did the protea.
An odd "treasure" we found in the remains of the shed.  This used to be a brass padlock.
A friend gave us a punnet of petunias.  They're a splash of colour in the sepia!

Feb 1, 2016

Choosing a Name

by Bronwyn Jameson

You may recall my December post, when I pondered whether a No-Gift Christmas would work out for my family.  I promised to report back and I'm here to say that it worked out pretty well.  Except for the "thank you, Mum" and "I love you, honey" gifts which I was assured were not Christmas gifts.  Hmmm.

One such gift was this little bundle of cheekiness who arrived a few days prior to Christmas and promptly took up all my time and attention and cuddles.  The perfect pre-Christmas gift from my eldest son and daughter-in-law.  To distract me from the fact that they're moving to London for several years.  (So far the distraction seems to be working!)

At Christmas everyone wanted to know his name.  At first I thought Digger was a good fit. He'd already dug his first hole in the garden (and tried to bury his squeaky chook toy) and I liked the idea of a good Aussie name.  But, alas, my husband kept calling him Roy.

Fast forward several weeks.  Puppy is growing quicker than asparagus and is now totally ruling our lives although no name has stuck.  Son has moved to London and during our first FaceTime he mentions going for a run in Richmond Park and the deer which we all remember from this video.

Suddenly my pup is re-christened Fenton and the new name sticks. For no particular reason: he does not chase deer (or sheep) and always comes when he is called.  But that's the thing about names, isn't it?  Sometimes they just fit for no particular reason.

When starting a new story, it can take me chapters -- and many trial names  -- to settle on the right one.  And sometimes it is the exact opposite; a character arrives in my mind with the perfect name already attached.  If you were to ask me why the name is perfect, chances are I would not have an answer.

That said, there are names that I know will never "fit."  Often because of an association with a real person, either someone I know in real life, or a celebrity or fictional character.  Point in case: my first published book featured a heroine named Paris.  Shortly afterward, Paris Hilton hit the headlines and I wanted to go back and change that name.  It no longer sat right with me.

Sometimes -- although not often -- when I'm reading, a character name does not sit right either.  Perhaps because I associate that name with a real-life person who has made a remarkably negative impression, perhaps because I feel the name doesn't fit the character's background or age or personality.  It can distract me, it can affect my enjoyment of the story, but usually not enough to stop me reading.

Does this ever happen with you?  Do character names matter enough that they can influence your enjoyment of a book...or stop you buying a book after reading the blurb?

Jan 31, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Michelle Douglas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  A DEAL TO MEND THEIR MARRIAGE but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Tammy Y

Can you please contact Louise: mail (at) louisecusack  (dot) com to receive your copy of HUSBAND SIT

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Michelle Douglas

Antiques dealer Caroline Fielding is married more to her job than to dashing Jack Pearce. After five years apart their relationship should be over--only when Jack shows up asking for a divorce, the chemistry is as strong as ever...

Caro tries to ignore her heart and sign the papers that will let go of Jack. But now her professional reputation is on the line and only her private investigator husband can help her! Working together 24/7 may be emotionally heart-wrenching, but it could also save her job...and their marriage.

Scene set-up: It can be hard to set up a scene without giving too much away... Suffice it to say that Caro and Jack have just had an interesting experience...and the adrenaline is still pumping.

  She reached up on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. He bit back a groan.

  Her voice trailed off at whatever she saw in his face. Her eyes met his and darkened. Her gaze lowered to his lips and her own lips parted ever so slightly—as if she were parched, or as if she couldn’t quite catch her breath. Wind roared in his ears. She wanted him. With the same desperate hunger that ravaged him. He’d promised not to kiss her, but…

  He moved in closer, traced a finger down the soft flesh of her cheek. Her breath hitched. Her eyes never left his.

  ‘You…’ She hiccupped again as his finger moved down the line of her throat. ‘You promised,’ she whispered.

  ‘I promised not to kiss you,’ he murmured. ‘I don’t recall promising not to touch you. You can tell me to stop any time you want to and I will.’

  Her lips parted, but no words emerged.

  A surge of something hot and primal pulsed through him. ‘And I don’t recall you promising not to kiss me.’

  Her breath hitched again. Maintaining eye contact, he took her hand and raised it to his lips, nibbled on the end of her ring finger and then her middle finger, drawing it ever so slightly into the warmth of his mouth.

  ‘You didn’t promise you wouldn’t kiss me,’ he whispered again. ‘And I want you to kiss me, Caro. I want that more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.’

  A shiver shook through her. He went hard in an instant.

  ‘I didn’t promise that I wouldn’t put my arms around you…’

  Very slowly she shook her head. ‘No, you didn’t promise that.’

  He backed up until he was leaning against the car. He drew her towards him to stand between his legs—not quite touching, but their heat swirled and merged and another shiver shook through her.

  He kissed the tips of each of the fingers of the hand he still held. ‘I didn’t promise not to place your arm around my neck…’

  He put her hand on his shoulder, snaking an arm about her waist and pulling her closer. The feel of her in his arms was familiar and strange both at the same time. Her other hand slid about his neck too.

  ‘Jack…’ she whispered.

  He moved his face to within millimetres of hers. ‘I didn’t promise not to ask you to kiss me…’


  The word was nothing more than a breath and it whispered across his lips, drawing everything inside of him tight. Her hands tightened about his neck.

  ‘I’m not asking, Caro,’ he groaned. ‘I’m begging. Please kiss me. I—’

  She leant forward and pressed her lips to his.


A Deal To Mend Their Marriage is set in London...because I love London. :-) If you could choose the setting for a romance, what would you pick?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver