Jun 25, 2016

Sunday Smooch - The Bridesmaid's Baby Bump - Kandy Shepherd

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Kandy Shepherd but first 


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


Can you please contact
bronwynjames@gmail.com
 to receive your e-copy of your choice of Anne McAllister's Tanner Brothers 


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Kandy Shepherd



THE BRIDESMAID'S BABY BUMP

The billionaire bachelor's baby! 
When party planner Eliza Dunne meets billionaire Jake Marlowe at a wedding, she decides to finally give in to the sparks that have always fizzed between them! 
The connection is so intense that Jake can't resist Eliza—but with the divorce only just final after his unhappy marriage, he's not ready for anything serious. But when Eliza tells him her shocking news—she's pregnant with his baby!—he has one certainty: he wants to be at the center of his new family, as a husband and father…




The Bridesmaid’s Baby Bump is the third and final book in the linked mini series ‘Sydney Brides’ from Harlequin Romance.

Eliza Dunne and billionaire Jake Marlowe have twice been bridesmaid and best man at the weddings of Elizas two business partners at Party Queens, their party planning business, and Jakes two best friends. (Gift-Wrapped in Her Wedding Dress and Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride.)

The attraction between them was instant—but Jake was still trapped in an unhappy marriage. Both honourable people, they did nothing about the attraction. Now Jake is divorced—and finally ready to pursue Eliza, who has her doubts about the domineering way he has gone about it.

He has hi-jacked her short vacation in Port Douglas in tropical Queensland and is driving her from the airport to her resort in his car. Before the smooch—their first kiss—she has suggested they’ve been over-thinking things. Why don’t they just relax and enjoy each other’s company? Jake has swerved the car onto a layby under some palm trees overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
  

‘Shall we agree not to worry about tomorrow when we haven’t even had a today yet?’
Eliza had been going to add not even a morning. But that conjured up an image of waking up next to Jake, in a twist of tangled sheets. Better not think about mornings. Or nights.
Jake’s grin widened. ‘You’ve got four days of vacation. I’ve got nothing to do except decide whether or not to offload my house in Port Douglas.’
‘No expectations. No promises. No apologies.’
‘Agreed,’ he said. He held out his hand to shake and seal the deal.
She edged closer to him. ‘Forget the handshake. Why don’t we start with a kiss?

Jake knew there was a dating after divorce guideline regarding the first physical encounter, but he’d be damned if he could think about that right now. Any thoughts other than of Eliza had been blown away in a blaze of anticipation and excitement at the invitation in her eyes—a heady mix of sensuality, impatience and mischief.
She slid a little closer to him from her side of the car. Reached down and unbuckled his seat belt with a low, sweet laugh that sent his awareness levels soaring. When her fingers inadvertently trailed over his thigh he shuddered and pulled her kissing distance close.
He focused with intense anticipation on her sweet mouth. Her lips were beautifully defined, yet lush and soft and welcoming. She tilted her face to him, making her impatience obvious. Jake needed no urging. He pressed his mouth against hers in a tender kiss, claiming her at last. She tasted of salt—peanuts on the plane, perhaps?—and something sweet. Chocolate? Sweet and sharp at the same time. Like Eliza herself—an intriguing combination.
She was beautiful, but his attraction had never been just to her looks. He liked her independence, her intelligence, her laughter.
The kiss felt both familiar and very different. Within seconds it was as if her kiss was all he’d ever known. Her lips parted under his as she gave a soft sigh of contentment.
‘At last,’ she murmured against his mouth.
Kissing Eliza for the first time in the front seat of a four-by-four was hardly ideal. Jake had forgotten how awkward it was to make out in a car. But having Eliza in his arms was way too exciting to be worrying about the discomfort of bumping into the steering wheel or handbrake. She held his face between her hands as she returned his kiss, her tongue sliding between his lips to meet his, teasing and exploring. He was oblivious to the car, their surroundings, the fact that they were parked in a public layby. He just wanted to keep kissing Eliza.
Was it seconds or minutes before Eliza broke away from him? That kind of excitement wasn’t easily measured. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes shades brighter, her lips swollen and pouting. She was panting, so it took her some effort to control her voice. ‘Kissing you was all I could think about that night in the castle.’
‘Me too,’ he said.
Six months of pent-up longing for this woman erupted into passion, fierce and hungry. As their kiss escalated in urgency Jake pulled her onto his lap, one hand around her waist, the other resting against the side of the car to support her. He bunched her hair in his hand and tugged to tilt her face upward, so he could deepen the kiss, hungry for her, aching for more. The little murmurs of pleasure she made deep in her throat drove him crazy with want.
His hands slid down her bare arms, brushed the side curves of her breasts, the silkiness of her top. She gasped, placed both hands on his chest and pushed away. She started to laugh—that delightful, chiming laughter he found so enchanting.
‘We’re steaming up the windows here like a coupled of hormone-crazed adolescents,’ she said, her voice broken with laughter.
‘What’s wrong with being hormone-crazed adults,’ he said, his own voice hoarse and unsteady.
‘Making out in a car is seriously sexy. I don’t want to stop,’ she said, moaning when he nuzzled against the delicious softness of her throat, kissing and tasting.
The confined area of the car was filled with her scent, heady and intoxicating. ‘Me neither,’ he said.



Making out in cars seems deliciously forbidden doesn't it? I loved giving Eliza and Jake their first kiss in a car.
I remember the time as a teenager I'd gone on a date with a intriguingly older, sophisticated guy. We were parked in his sports car outside our house smooching in the front seat when my mother decided it was time to water the garden. There she suddenly was hosing the grass on the pavement near where we were parked. How embarrassing! Needless to say Older Guy decided maybe a schoolgirl wasn't for him - I didn't see him again!
Have you had a memorable/disastrous/embarrassing kiss in a car? Or heard about one? Make a comment to be put in the draw for a signed paperback copy of The Bridesmaid's Baby Bump.



Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Annie West's The Flaw in Raffaele's Revenge will be posted!


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jun 24, 2016

What Kind Of A Reader Are You?

Book group- always fascinating, entertaining and, of course, alcoholic! It's interesting to people-watch and glean insight into my friends' reading behaviour.

There are some who take months to read one book, who devour every word and commit it all to memory and spend ages talking about what worked and what didn't. Who analyse everything and notice things I completely missed.

There are some who take months to read a book because they fall asleep after the first paragraph (my hand's up here on occasion!).

My book group reading haul for this month
People who race through, wanting dialogue and action and to find out what happens...(dare I admit--- I often read the end first, too!)

There are some who read three books at once depending on their mood.

Some who take eight books home to read, knowing they will never get through them all in a month, but just wanting to have them anyway. (Guilty as charged!)

One who won't read anything sad.

One who won't read any historicals.

Some who never read a book at all, but come for the company. (Which is absolutely fine too!)

Some who read so many they have to bring notes on each one!

Then there are the bookmark-ers and (the horror!!!) corner benders. (NO!!!!)

I love my book group with a passion- we always have fun, catch up on the gossip and share our love of great books.

Are you part of a book group? Any other reading types you've seen? What kind of a reader are you?

Jun 20, 2016

Rediscovering my childhood & teenage favourites

A book of goodies unearthed!
Recently, when I was back home in Australia, I had a job to do. While staying at my parent’s place, I had to clean out a bunch of old things in the cupboard which had been boxed up and were gathering dust. Mostly, it was old ballet costumes, wedding paraphernalia, and paperwork that needed shredding.

However, I did stumble across a treasure trove of old books.

A bunch of my old favourites were sitting there like a time capsule. Sweet Valley High, Goosebumps, Fears Street, Nancy Drews and more.

I had a great time rifling through the old books, some of which were older than me!

I thought it might be fun to share some of my favourite books from my childhood and teen years with you all.

Sweet Valley High: Man, I LOVED these books. As a self-confessed goodie two shoes I was totally Team Elizabeth, although I did devour The Unicorn Club books when they had a short-lived run (well, short-lived by SVH standards, anyway). I’m certain The Unicorn Club was the inspiration for Mean Girls. I also dabbled with Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University and many of the other spin-offs.

Fear Street / Teen Horror: I feel like teen horror was the big thing back when I was growing up. Those that outgrew Goosebumps moved onto R.L Stine’s older line of books which had all kinds of horrors like family curses, ghosts, vampires, cursed cars (yes, The Cataluna Chronicals were indeed about a haunted car), evil twins and step-siblings, haunted houses and more. I was also a huge fan of Christopher Pike and the Point Horror books.

Nancy Drew: Man, I gobbled these up pre my foray into Agatha Christie. Mystery is a genre that has always been close to my heart and I think it started here. In fact, I really want to go back and re-read a bunch of the Nancy Drew novels. Unfortunately, the ones I found at home wouldn’t fit in my suitcase but they’re in my old cupboard for safekeeping.

V.C Andrews: Looking back, I probably started reading these books earlier than I should have. There’s definitely some mature content! In my defence, I did start with the teen series (The Orphans and The Wildflowers) before moving onto the more adult series. Although, confession time, of all the VC Andrews books I’ve read I STILL have not read Flowers in the Attic. Sad, I know. Must fix that.
  
What were some of your favourite books to read as kid or teenager? I’d love to hear about them!

Jun 19, 2016

Sunday Guest Smooch, with Anne McAllister

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today Bronwyn Jameson hosts a Guest Smooch from the fabulous Anne McAllister but first an announcement...

The winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Laura Russell. Congratulations, Laura. Can you please contact yvonne (at) yvonnelindsay (dot) com to receive your signed copy of Arranged Marriage, Bedroom Secrets.



And now for today's Smooch from Cowboys Don't Cry, by Anne McAllister.


Don’t Fence Me In!

When Wyoming cowboy Robert Tanner promised to help out the new owner of the Three Bar C, he didn’t expect to have to teach a city girl schoolteacher how to run a ranch. Worse, Maggie MacLeod was a beautiful feisty redhead with flashing eyes and kissable lips — a woman who could tempt a saint.

Tanner was far from a saint. He didn’t do permanent, he didn’t do relationships. The smart thing would be to leave. But a man was only as good as his word. Trouble was, the longer he stayed, the more Maggie got under his skin…
While showing his new boss around the Three Bar C, ranch foreman Robert Tanner notices a cow having difficulty calving. With Maggie’s help and some difficulty, he delivers the new baby calf...


Maggie dropped the rope and knelt down beside it. "Is it—" her voice was hollow, her face ashen.

Tanner didn’t answer. He hunkered down over it and cleared its mouth, waited. Nothing. He bent and blew in it, forced air down into its lungs once, then again. Again.

It gagged, then choked. All four legs twitched. One eye opened, then the other.

“It’s alive!” Maggie exulted. She laughed. She crowed. She crouched down and planted a kiss on its messy head. Then she looked at Tanner, her green eyes sparkling. "You did it! Oh, Robert! You did it!”

And then she launched herself at him and kissed him, too.

The force knocked Tanner flat on his back. His arms came up and went around her all of their own accord. All the breath went right out of him.

The warmth and the weight of her robbed him of whatever coherence the sheer impact hadn’t. Only his body responded, and his lips. Hers were warm and wet. His were starving. He couldn’t help himself. Desperation could only protect him so far. Common sense simply fled.

When her lips touched his, he kissed her.

It had been years since he’d kissed a woman like that. Fourteen long, hungry, lonely years. There had been women in his life since his divorce from Clare. But they had been few, and none of them had promised more than a night’s satisfaction.

Maggie did—as he’d known she would.

The notion terrified him. He jerked his head aside, then grasped her arms and tried to shove her away.

Maggie pulled back, her face flaming. But still she straddled him and he could feel the press of the juncture of her legs against him. He shoved himself up, but that only made matters worse.

"Oh!" She scrambled off him and he got to his feet, turned his back, adjusted his jeans.

"I’m...sorry," Maggie said in a tiny voice.

"It’s all right." It wasn’t. It was awful. It had felt so good having her on top of him, her breasts pressing against his chest, her lips on his. He reached over and snagged his hat out of the muck and jammed it on his head.

He hoped to God she hadn’t noticed the way his hands had gripped her waist, hadn’t felt the instinctive masculine response of his body to her touch.

He got to his knees and ducked his head, reaching for the calf and hauling it up next to the cow’s head.

She lifted her head, put out her tongue and gave it a tentative lick. The calf made a noise and nuzzled against her. Her eyes, rheumy and lacking luster, brightened. She licked again, nosed her child, licked some more.

"Mother love," Maggie said softly. Her voice sounded a little bit hoarse.

Tanner nodded. He didn’t answer because he knew his would have been a whole lot hoarser. He didn’t look at her either, just gathered up his rope, tugged his hat down harder, then got to his feet and moved toward his horse. Maggie started to follow him, then turned back.

"Look, Robert, just look at them," Maggie said. "Isn’t it wonderful?"

She was dirty and slightly disheveled and with just a hint of embarrassment still in her cheeks, she looked positively radiant—the most beautiful woman he’d seen in his entire life, Clare included.

"Wonderful," Tanner croaked and turned desperately back to his horse.

Excerpt from Cowboys Don't Cry, the first in Anne McAllister's THE TANNER BROTHERS trilogy, published in March/April/May 2016 by Tule Publishing.


Best-selling author Anne McAllister has written nearly 70 romance novels—long and short, contemporary, time travel, and single title.  She has won two RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America—for Cowboy Pride and The Stardust Cowboy—and has had nine other books which were RITA finalists.

A former editor once told Anne that she wrote "died-with-their-boots-on cowboys", meaning  rugged, realistic, down-to-earth cowboys who don’t own multi-national corporations on the side.  She likes her cowboy heroes to be honourable, tough, competent and generous.  Tall, dark and handsome also helps.


Are you a fan of the cowboy hero? What qualities do you admire in them?  

Leave a comment and you will be included in the draw to win a digital copy of your choice of Anne's TANNER BROTHERS.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from The Bridesmaid's Baby Bump by Kandy Shepherd will be posted!


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jun 17, 2016

Happy Friday!

It's Happy Friday today!

Actually, every day is like a happy day to me. But I love Friday's. The weekend is coming, football is on TV, it's take-away dinner night, and my lovely hubby very often brings me home flowers.

Today I'm heading out for a walk with this guy....Boss, my awesome boy.


Getting flowers......

Getting time to spend with my beautiful horse Zeb

Getting to see my latest release Lucy & The Lieutenant on this shelves at a local store....


Are Friday's a happy day for you? A wind down day as you head into the weekend?

What are your tips for a happy Friday?

Jun 15, 2016

A Tale of Two (Okay, Three) Covers - Annie West

I couldn't help but talk covers today. I've got a new book out next week ( but you can pre-order!) and the difference in the covers for this one fascinates me. You'll see as you scroll down the page. I'll put them in the order I saw them. First is the North American cover:
http://www.amazon.com/Flaw-Raffaeles-Revenge-Harlequin-Presents/dp/0373134541/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464161772&sr=1-3&keywords=Annie+West
Now is probably the time to tell you what the book is about so you can see how the covers fit. This is my reverse beauty and the beast story, where the hero, once dubbed The Sexiest Man in the World, is the beauty (on the surface) and the scarred, reclusive heroine is the Beast. Of course things aren't quite as simple as that. Here's the back cover text to give you a taste of it:
 
A fragile beauty that tamed the beast within… 

Relentless Italian Raffaele Petri needs reclusive researcher Lily Nolan to see his revenge plans come to fruition. But the damaged beauty is feisty, argumentative and all too intriguing to be ignored!

Scarred as a child, Lily shut herself away from cruel prying eyes, so working for a man as breathtakingly handsome as Raffaele makes her own physical imperfections harder to bear. Until Raffaele's kisses awaken the untouched woman inside.

As Raffaele's retribution draws closer, Lily must use her newfound strength to help him release the torment eating at his soul. But will Raffaele risk his vengeance for her love?
 
So, here's the Australian/New Zealand cover. As you can see, it uses the same picture as the American cover and focuses on passion and the Manhattan rooftop setting (the story is set there and on a Caribbean island resort).
 
 
When I wrote the story I had a very, very strong image in my head of the hero. He's my first blond hero. Not just blond but golden, old-gold hair and golden skin. Yes, I know Italian heroes aren't generally blond but he's from the north and he takes after his mother's non-Italian side of the family. Have you seen 'The Talented Mr Ripley'? It featured a younger, gorgeous Jude Law, looking tanned and, yes, golden, with those bright searing eyes. That's how I imagined Raffa, my hero who dragged himself from poverty and made it to the top in a tough world. He's beautiful to look at but hard as nails underneath, till he meets Lily who makes him feel things he'd never felt before.
 
Okay, then, here's the UK cover to complete the trio. It's got the glamour and the sensuality of the others. In fact I think there's a hint of sexual tension that's stronger here in the other two, and I'm sure it will make people look twice - which is what I ask from a title. I'm just wondering if readers will blame me when they discover that the Raffa inside is clean shaven, golden-skinned and blond instead of bearded, pale and dark-haired.
 
 
What about you? Do you mind if the cover of a book doesn't exactly represent the characters within? Or do you just enjoy the cover and then forget about it when you're reading?
 
I'll give away a signed copy of a backlist book to someone who leaves a comment (and it doesn't matter where you live). I'll post the winner's name here before the next post on Friday.
 
If you want to buy THE FLAW IN RAFFAELE'S REVENGE, all the usual bookstores have it and you can find links and an excerpt on my website. But here are a couple of quick links:


Jun 13, 2016

Volunteering

I don’t know about you but I find myself doing a lot of volunteering. I think it has something to do with the fact that I have trouble saying no but also because I love it.

Over the years I have volunteered for the children’s schools, for the Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Romance Writers of Australia and now my best efforts are going into the Byron Writers Festival.  I’m on the Festival Board. It's very satisfying and a lot of hard work.

We are having a huge year at the Festival. We have introduced a new brand and a new website over the past few weeks and have had a record sell-out of our early-bird tickets. We’ve announced lots of great writers and thinkers including Cheryl Strayed (Wild), William Finnegan, Charlotte Wood, Magda Szubanski, Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales, Wendy Whiteley and so many more. We officially launch the full program this Wednesday and I’ll be able to tell you more about it then.

It will be a crazy few weeks of work heading up to the Festival, which runs from 5-7 August.  There is also a week of writing workshops the week prior and lots of feature events.  I’m also sending out pleading vibes for good weather (it’s an outdoor event).


So, do you enjoy volunteering? I’d love to hear about some of the work you do.