Sep 30, 2011

Meet Winston - the star of Return of the Secret Heir

While I was writing Return of the Secret Heir, I realised that my heroine, Pia, would have a cat. It just seemed obvious once I thought about it. She lives alone and is very buttoned-up at work, but she would have someone to let out her softer side with.

And I knew *just* the cat.

Winston owned me for about 12 years. He was a rough and tumble cat (see the misshapen ear in the above photo - a result of cat fights), but he generously tolerated my frequent cuddles and affection. If visitors tried the same, he'd let them know with a sharp claw that their attention was unwelcome.

He also owned two dogs (you can see the three of them in the bottom photo trying to catch a breeze through the door on a hot summer night).

Pia's Winston is also affectionate with his human, and reserves judgement on other humans. When JT Hartley first sees him, it's not quite love at first sight:

The curtains twitched and he looked up to find a large white cat with black patches gazing at him with feline disdain. Seemed he was striking out with all the residents of the apartment tonight.

I loved spending time with Winston again, even if he was only in a few scenes. He had such a huge personality and I still miss him.

Tell me, if you had the chance to add an animal into a book (your book or someone else's), who would it be? One of your own pets, or an animal you've met somewhere else?

Also, if you check back on Sunday, there will be a smooch from JT & Pia's book and I'll be giving away a copy!

Sep 28, 2011

Finding True Love - with Neuroscience!

Today I'm delighted to interview Mary Britton on co-writing with Kerene Strotchnetter Cause Love - a new and surprising way of using neuroscience to find true love.

Hi Mary and welcome to the Lovecats. Firstly, I have to ask – neuroscience to find love? Are you serious? How does neuroscience fit in with finding love?
Thank you Zana, it’s lovely to be here: )
Aha! Neuroscience meets ancient wisdom! “You get what you ask for” is an old idea which is now provable. Neuroscience calls it ”priming” – when you put your attention on, for example, the colour blue; blue will appear before your very eyes.
Think “delightful, available partner material people” and they will show up. I promise…

That sounds a bit too easy. Can you explain it a little more? Is it similar to “The Secret” which was so popular a few years ago?
Yes and no : ) Change is not an easy undertaking and, with the most helpful tools, your commitment and lots of practice – you CAN do it!
You have habits- things you do on auto pilot. Most of us don’t think too much about what we are doing. For example, when we drive our cars, a lot of it is automatic.
You also have habits of thinking – without your conscious awareness. For example you may have decided (long ago) that bald men are…. ( you fill in the blank). So now every time you see a bald man you already know he is….

Does this apply to feelings too?
Yes, habits of feeling – an unconscious emotional response – which seems to just happen (because it is unconscious). These feeling states feel so familiar that we think of them as “normal”. Neuroscientists offer evidence that we are addicted to some of these emotional states. Anger, for example. Just like an addict with a cigarette, we unconsciously reach towards anger as out habitual response.
And when you learn how to become aware of your own thoughts, beliefs and feelings you have an option – you can begin to choose different thoughts, beliefs and feelings.

Okay, so it has a scientific/psychological basis but how do you know that it works?
Both Kerene and I have worked with many clients over a number of years, some of their stories are in the book. When you use these simple tools, you start to take new actions and you will get new results. (It may not happen overnight, but it will happen!)

Given that this book is all about change and developing your potential, is it useful for those of us who are in happy relationships?
Absolutely! The methodology works for any area you’d like to change in your life. Career, wealth planning, big goals and ambitions, you name it, these methods will allow you to develop new ways of thinking which will bring you new results.

You and Kerene are offering an online programme, can you tell us about that?
The on line programme recognises that some people are looking for much more feedback than they will get from a book so this way they can get individual feedback from a coach - currently myself and Kerene – and be supported in their actions over an agreed timeframe. For some, it’s the next big step in their journey towards happy relationship.

Why did you and Kerene decide to self-publish?
We wanted to offer the book as a giveaway to workshop participants and on line programme clients. We wanted to find ways of staying connected with our readers – who we think of as if they were each a client in our coaching practice.

Your book has only been out a few months – what’s been the reaction so far?
People love it!
One reader has ordered a copy for every member of her extended family! Another has thanked us for providing a house guest with the thinking and energy they needed to move out and start a new life in Australia! Many people around the world are now working their way through the actions and we are excited to be getting feedback about how they are doing.

Thank you for sharing these ideas with us.

I’m sure there must be more questions out there. Please fire away, Mary is here to respond to questions or comments and there are 2 free giveaways of Cause Love. I too, will be offering 2 free copies of the Australian edition of my new Superromance A Risk Worth Taking. It’s a two-in-one deal with Abby Gaines fabulous Her Best Friend’s Wedding.

Sep 26, 2011

When the good die young

Andy Whitfield in a screen-grab from the 2009 feature film "Gabriel"
(taken by me as I was watching the film)
I wanted to break our regular transmission to acknowledge the life—and sad, sad death—of a man who’s been the inspiration for three of my heroes: welsh-born Aussie actor Andy Whitfield. 

The 39-year-old actor passed on September 11 from (non-Hodgkin’s) lymphoma (a cancer of the immune system) which he’d been fighting for 18 months.  

His wife referred to him as her ‘beautiful, young warrior’ and from all reports he was beautiful inside and out. But if you needed any evidence you have it in his final words to his two very young children: I am going to go to sleep now as my body won't work anymore. I am like a butterfly with broken wings.

Trained as an engineer, a model and actor, I have no doubt Andy would have been up there with the biggest of the Hollywood hotties given another few years. He just had ‘it’.

Not everyone liked the StarzTV series, ‘Spartacus’ because of its flashiness and gore and sexual frankness, but I am a fan (for all those reasons) and I watched it for Whitfield. No-one did angsty, conflicted, struggling, sensitive-macho quite like him. He was the classic romantic hero personified once a week.

(And he was one half of the most erotic, arty, tasteful yet graphic television sex-scenes I’ve ever watched.)
It’s hard not to wonder whether the 6 hours-a-day, 6-days-a-week brutal training the cast reportedly did to get sufficiently buffed up to portray the slave gladiators had any impact on bringing forward the attack on his immune system. He was called the fittest guy on television at the 2010 Comic Con just weeks before his remission ended. But it’s hard not to shake your head that a body that fit and that strong still succumbed.

What chance to the rest of us have?

I had myself an Andy Whitfield memorial day last week just to honour the man who has inspired so many of my heroes.  I revisited my favourite Spartacus episodes and watched Gabriel, his first feature-film. It was angsty and arty and he was still spectacularly, beautifully heroic.

He’s still fabulous. He’ll still inspire future heroes but maybe they’ll be young, devoted fathers more than buff warriors in my mind, now.

RIP Andy Whitfield. Lay down your sword.

Sep 25, 2011

Leah Ashton Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from SECRETS & SPEED DATING by 2010 New Voices winner Leah Ashton, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- EllenToo!

Congratulations, Ellen! Can you please contact Sue at

lsmackay (at) ts (dot) co (dot) nz

and she'll send you a copy of RETURN OF THE MAVERICK.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from SECRETS & SPEED DATING  by Leah Ashton...

Sophie Morgan’s dealt with life’s curveballs by being logical. Her latest project is to reclaim her life now her fiancé’s left her. 

Task one: find a boyfriend. 

Step one: speed dating. 

But Sophie takes a rather unconventional approach!

[Set up: Dan is determined to shake up Sophie's perfectly organised life, and whisks her off to an unplanned tour of Fremantle. On the beach, Dan accuses Sophie of denying the attraction between them because to do so would be unscheduled and spontaneous - and therefore very unlike Sophie.]

She shook her head. “You are wrong. I’m not the automaton you think I am.” She stepped toward him, driven by a bottomless ache inside her. “I think, and feel and react...” She pressed one palm to his chest, and pushed once, hard. But he didn’t move, not even a centimetre. “...and feel...”

All the fight faded from her against the immoveable wall of Dan. She dipped her head, the hand on his chest curling as it relaxed and just laid there, defeated, for a moment.

But before it could fall away, and before she could succumb to the prickle of unwanted tears, his hand covered hers, holding it where it lay.

His other hand tipped her chin up.

“I know you feel, Soph.”

When you let yourself.

Maybe he wasn’t thinking those words, but Sophie was. She as good as heard them, crystal clear and unforgiving.

And right.

Who was she kidding? It had taken her six months to let out all the pain that Rick had inflicted – and even that had been to a total stranger in a bar. Six months of distracting herself, keeping her mind busy – whether planning her holiday or planning her new life.

She’d been staring determinedly at a tiny freckle on Dan’s cheek, but now she let her gaze wander to his eyes.

How did she feel about Dan? Attracted to him, definitely. And she liked him, too. Enough to know what she was about to do was a very stupid idea.

But that was exactly why she was going to do it.

One kiss – how could it hurt, really? Could it hurt to succumb to the tingles that rocketed through her body whenever he touched her, and the urge to make his heart, beating so strongly beneath her palm, thump even faster – for her?

She left her right hand where it lay, creeping her left hand up and behind his neck, his fingers brushing against his short cropped hair. She stood on her tip toes, her attention flickering between his eyes and his mouth.

Ahhh, there it goes, she thought, the pitter patter of his heart accelerating nicely.

“Are you sure, Soph, I thought you didn’t want this?”

She raised an eyebrow, her lips a whisper from his. “Really, Dan? I’m trying to be spontaneous and you’re going to analyse it? I’m living in the moment, just like you said.”

She’d meant to kiss him, then – to lean that little bit closer and cover his mouth with hers.

But he beat her to it. He kissed her.

His mouth was firm. Warm. Nice.

No, nice was completely the wrong word. Amazing. Perfect. Right.

His arm wrapped around her, pulling her close. His heart raced, and so did hers, her body shivering at the sweep of his hand across her back – hot through the thin cotton of her dress.

His tongue brushed against her bottom lip and she instantly deepened the kiss, exploring the shape of lips, his teeth, his tongue.

The hand on his heart slid upwards, a casualty of her almost desperate need to feel his heat. Her hand threaded into his hair, and would have pulled him closer if doing so had been physically possible.

The kiss went on and on, their mouths breaking apart only to reunite at different angles. Her hands roamed over his shoulders, his over her back, her waist.

Sophie’s head and body spun with sensation and the electricity of her body’s reaction. She could feel his body’s reaction against her belly, a warning that she really needed to take a step backwards. And soon, before this went too far.

Just not yet.

SECRETS & SPEED DATING is out now in the UK as part of the Mills & Boon Loves... anthology with Maisey Yates, Barbara Wallace and Aimee Carson. For more information about the book and where to buy it, visit Leah's website.

Leah is giving a copy of SECRETS & SPEED DATING to one lucky commenter! To be in the draw, simply answer her question:

"Tell us about a time you've had a carefully planned project go completely wrong."

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from RETURN OF THE SECRET HEIR by Rachel Bailey will be posted!

Sep 21, 2011


Love them or hate them, revisions are a major part of an author’s life. Unless of course you’re Nora Roberts, but I’m guessing even she has revisions!!

When I sold my first book to Harlequin Romance, it went through two rounds of revisions before finally selling a year after I’d first submitted it, and then there were plenty of “tweaks” after that. But it was well worth it, and I think it showed my editor that I was prepared to put in a whole lot of hard work to get my story right. I trust her judgement implicitly, and I also know that I need to be edited. My editor pushes me and squeezes the best from my writing, but of course I always find revisions terrifying when they first arrive.

Like this morning. I nervously checked my emails, knowing that I was going to receive them sometime this week. With my eyes half-shut to dull the pain, I saw the name I’d been waiting for and read the email … and let out a big sigh of relief that my editor liked the story. Then I played with my son and ate my breakfast before I downloaded the revision notes, because I was still scared about what I’d have to change. The story needs a lot of polishing, to really pull out the deep emotional conflict of my hero and heroine, but I know that it will make my story stronger. It will definitely make it a better, more emotional and compelling read once I’ve sent it back to her. And no doubt there will be some more smaller changes to be made to, but once again, it’ll be worth the blood, sweat and tears!

I must say that I can’t understand why an unpublished writer wouldn’t consider making changes to their manuscript. Every now and again, I chat to other writers at our Romance Writers of New Zealand conference or via email, and I find out they’ve had an editor contact them with suggested revisions for their manuscript. When I was unpublished I would have done almost anything to sell, and I certainly had no problem with ripping apart my story and working with an editor to make my manuscript saleable. Sometimes, it’s a matter of taking a step back from you work, and looking at the bigger picture. Sure, every word you delete will hurt, but if you want to sell a book, or even more important sustain a career as an author, revisions are as necessary as the writing process itself.

So how about you? Do you find revisions painful or invigorating, or something in between? And if you’re not published, would you have a problem with making changes to your manuscript if an editor asked you to?

If you're not already following me on facebook, I'd love you to join me. Just click here.

Sep 19, 2011

Calendar Daze - Part 2

March On…

By Sharon Archer

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a tricky calendar change - today, I’m back with another one!

The beginning of the year is 1st January… isn’t it?

Well, yes, it is now… but it wasn’t always.

In the ‘Old Style’ or Julian Calendar, the first day of the year was Lady Day or the 25th of March.

Lady Day was quite a logical start to the year in the agrarian societies of our forebears.  It was close to the spring equinox and nature was beginning to stir after the dormant months of winter.  People were preparing to start the farming cycle for another year. Market towns held hiring-fairs for servants and land tenancies were settled then too. 

It’s also the festival day for the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (Our Lady), from which it gets its name - Lady Day.

But, in 1751, Chesterfield’s Act changed that and made January 1st the first day of the year.  This meant that 1751 consisted of just over nine months. 
  • The year before - 1750 - ran from 25 March to 24 March
  • While 1751 ran from 25 March to 31 December
  • And the year after - 1752 - the year settled into the pattern we’re familiar with, 1 January to 31 December

There are still traces of this change in the Latin origins of four of our months.
  • September is the ninth month but Septem means seven
  • October is the tenth month but Octo means eight
  • November is the eleventh month but Novem  means nine  &
  • December is the twelfth month but Decem means ten

So spare a thought for our UK ancestors, as they grappled with the major changes to their calendar.  In 1751, they had a nine-month year and then in 1752, they had that eleven-day adjustment!  No wonder there were riots!

What would you have thought?  Would you have found it confusing? Would you have wondered what the governing elite were up to?

 I was late getting back to announce the winner of the book I gave away with the Calendar Daze, Part 1, so I’m announcing it again now.  It’s Sylvia!  Sylvia, could you please contact me on sharon (at) sharon-archer (dot) com with your address?

Sep 18, 2011

Sue Mackay Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a doctor and nurse smooch from RETURN OF THE MAVERICK by Sue Mackay, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Jane!

Congratulations, Jane! Can you please contact Rachel at

rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? (or another book from her backlist if you've read that one).

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from RETURN OF THE MAVERICK by Sue Mackay...

Dr Brad Perano's return to Blenheim has the town's rumour mill in overdrive! Nurse Erin Foley is more than intrigued - she's sure there's more to the rebellious tearaway-turned-distinguished-doctor than his charming smile. All Brad can offer is a no-commitments fling ... can Erin give this maverick a reason to stay?

As Erin smelt the fragrance of Brad’s skin her mouth watered. Male scent. The best in the world.

Then he pulled open the fridge and she tried not to feel disappointed. Instead she enjoyed the view of his trousers pulled taut across his buttocks as he bent to reach for another beer. When he turned to lock eyes with her she felt her stomach cramp. Shaking her head to break the eye contact she only succeeded in bumping against his arm. Her muscles froze, her lungs held still. He’d better not be able to read minds. There was a very intense look in his eyes. A look she couldn’t fathom. He was so close. That mouth tempting. So, so tempting. And then her libido kicked wide awake.

And she was in trouble. Big trouble.

Brad straightened up, stepped away. He must not touch Erin. Not even in the tiniest way. Despite wanting to haul her into his arms and touch every part of her divine body he must not. Right now even to inadvertently brush his hand against hers would start a conflagration he doubted he could stop. 

The hunger was in Erin’s eyes, too. How’d they got to this? So quickly? He groaned. It had been coming from the moment she’d banged into him in the store. As he moved back around the table he felt as though his skin, his muscles, were tearing at him, trying to stay near Erin. All of him, every last cell in his body, wanted her.

Sinking on to the chair he pressed his fingers against his eyes, frantically attempting to get himself under control. He should walk out of here right now, go to his office and wait for his call. If he didn’t have to wait for the call he’d be on the Harley putting wind through his brain. 

‘I’ll clean up.’ Erin’s voice wobbled. 

He daren’t look up. If he saw that need still in her eyes he would definitely do something he shouldn’t. Like kiss those full lips. Like -. Don’t even go there.

Did his voice work? ‘Why don’t you leave that for me to do while I’m waiting?’ How was that? Normal vocals? Hah, more like the morning after a binge session in the pub. Croaky and dry.

‘Okay.’ Gratitude coloured the single word. ‘I’ll go and close all the windows.’ How could her voice sound normal?

She wore three-quarter length pants that moulded to her curvy backside. He sucked air through clenched teeth. How was a man supposed to stay professional around a woman who looked like a goddess?
He didn’t know he’d moved. Suddenly he stood in front of her, his hands running through all that silky hair. Her baby blues widened, filled with latent heat. And then she was in his arms. Their lips came together. Their mouths opened to allow each other in. Their tongues danced around one another. 

Brad’s hands claimed her face, her skin soft under the rough pads of his fingers. Through his shirt he felt her fingers on his back. She drove him insane with need. His mouth was slick against hers. The taste of her heightened his desire. He needed more of her. Dropping his hands to her waist he caressed the hot skin underneath her blouse. Soft, fiery, womanly. 

When their kiss couldn’t get any deeper, any fiercer, it got deeper, fiercer. She pushed against him, as though trying to get inside his skin. He pressed back into her, the evidence of his desire hard between them. 

Her fingers stroked his neck, his throat, wracking up the tension in his body. If he didn’t make a move soon he’d implode. 

The phone was ear-splitting.

RETURN OF THE MAVERICK is out this month in the UK. To be in the draw to win a copy, answer Sue's question:

"What is it about bad boys women love so much?"

[N.B. Sue's computer has broken and been sent for repairs, so she won't be able to reply to comments for a few days -- for which she apologises!]

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from SECRETS AND SPEED DATING by Leah Ashton will be posted!

Sep 16, 2011

Movies that Inspire

Reading: Lover Mine by J.R Ward
Watching: Xfactor
Listening to: Breaking Benjamin (so cold)
Making me Smile: being a grandma again!

Sometimes when my creative energy has run dry I turn to movies to inspire me. Movies that make me laugh or cry, movies that have me on the edge of my seat or chewing my nails, movies that move me or grip me from the opening scene to the last.

Avatar: I absolutely love this movie. The world building and images alone were enough for me to absorb. Simply amazing! This one really filled my creative well.

The Notebook: A hero who loved and stood by the heroine through thick and thin, this story was beautiful and heart-warming. And the ending—if that didn’t put a tear in the eye, then nothing can.

Titanic: Yes, an oldie but a goody. This movie still has the power to make one of my daughter’s cry every single time she watches it. Death is the ultimate sacrifice for love. A-happily-ever-after? Not in my eyes, but to me it’s one of the all time best romance stories.

Pretty Woman: I absolutely adore this movie, have watched it so many times. What’s not to love about a Cinderella type story, with the rich man sweeping the poor girl off her feet? And what’s not to love about opposites attracting and falling for each other?

Here's some of the list of movies considered to be the best (most inspiring?) according to Wikipedia:


Science fiction








So what movies have inspired you, and why? I'd love to hear about them! =)

Sep 13, 2011

The Power of the Mascot

by Michelle Douglas

Reading: The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas

Watching: Pillow Talk (Doris Day)

Listening to: Cher (don't ask)

Making me smile: the jasmine in my backyard

Ever since I was a little girl and accompanied my dad to watch the local footy team, I have been aware of the power of a mascot. My local football team’s mascot was a Goanna. I had a stuffed goanna that duly came along to every football game and was waved madly in the air whenever my team scored. I became very superstitious of my mascot. If he was ever forgotten and left at home, I was convinced my team would lose the game.

But mascots aren’t just for sporting teams. Let’s fast forward many years to when I started working in a call centre for a bank. My husband made me my very own mascot. Here’s a photo:

We called these guys The Complaints Department. They sat on my desk at work, and during challenging phone calls they could usually make me smile. Some of my work colleagues took to borrowing The Complaints Department when they were having a bad day. See? The power of the mascot.

It appears that man has used mascots since the dawn of time. Ancient tribal people would dress up in the likeness of animals to incite goodwill from them in the hope of ensuring successful hunts and good harvests. And there’s no denying that mascots have personality. There is even a Mascot Hall of Fame for US sporting teams – created to honour mascots who have positively impacted their communities.

So it only seems right and reasonable that I should eventually find my very own LoveCats’ mascot. This is his picture:

He’s perfect! Orange is my favourite colour, plus he’s carrying a book bag. I took him all the way to the Melbourne conference to sit on the table during our LoveCats’ panel. Unfortunately, I forgot to take him out of my room—oops. But he was there in spirit. :-)

Although he has personality, my LoveCat mascot doesn’t yet have a name and he most certainly needs one. So I’m throwing it out to you, gentle reader. What do you think would be the perfect name for my LoveCat? And just to entice you all to play, I’m offering one of my backlist books to whoever comes up with the best name.

Sep 12, 2011

Young Again

Reading: Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh
Watching: Rugby World Cup
Listening to: Elmo songs!
Making me smile: My little boy smiling at his daddy

The other day I was purchasing Nalini Singh’s latest Guild Hunter book (which was fabulous by the way) on my Kindle and noticed an old Johanna Lindsey book was on sale for $0.99. With a fond smile for the terrible Fabio cover that I always secretly liked (and a vague thought that I probably had the book on my bookshelf but I hardly ever get to my bookshelf anymore now I’m digital) I clicked Buy.

I eventually got around to reading Lindsey’s Hearts Aflame and felt like I was a teenager again, reading a romance book under the covers with a torch after ‘lights out’ at boarding school! I really enjoyed the Saxon-Viking story and promptly rediscovered my way to my somewhat dusty bookshelf. I found Lindsey’s sci-fi story, Warrior’s Woman which was always a favourite of mine and has an even worse Fabio cover that I also secretly liked (-:

I was also very happy to discover my best friend (who shares a Kindle account with me) had by chance bought some old categories which are now available in ebooks and also happened to be old favourites of mine (Nora Roberts’ Mackade Brothers books are next on my TBR pile!)

Reading all these old favourites that I haven’t read for years is such a great experience. It boggles my mind to think I was in high school when I last read some of these books and now I’m a wife, mother and romance author myself!!!!

Has anyone else stumbled across a book you haven’t read for years and been transported back to when you were young(er) and just discovering the wonders of romance novels?

Sep 11, 2011

Rachel Bailey Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a delicious smooch from AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? by Rachel Bailey, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Marlena Cassidy!

Congratulations, Marlena! Can you please contact Natalie at

natalie (at) natalie-anderson (dot) com and she'll send you a copy of NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? by Rachel Bailey...

Corporate raider takes contract wife
In a merger tailor-made for the tabloids, tycoon Ryder Bramson sought Macy Ashley's hand in marriage. But his true goal was to buy her father's company—and thereby wrest control of his own conglomerate from his illegitimate brothers. To ensnare Macy in his web of intrigue, Ryder first offered the beautiful businesswoman a job in his start-up. Yet slipping the ring on her finger proved more difficult.
Being a brash billionaire's corporate pawn wasn't independent-minded Macy's style. One the other hand, being the focus of this irresistible man's passion just might win her over to his scheme...

[Set up: Ryder is ready to ask Macy if she’ll agree to a marriage of convenience, so he asked her out for drinks and is now seeing her home. But he’s been having a little trouble keeping his mind on the goal.]

Their first date had gone well, all things considered. Now he just needed to garner an invitation to her apartment and outline his offer and its merits.

Three steps into the silent foyer, Macy turned on the marble floor and faced him. “I only have to go up that elevator. You’ve seen me home.” She moistened her lips and he couldn’t have dragged his gaze away with a gun to his head. Her scent, something exotic, surrounded him.

She was so damn beautiful he had to replay her words in his head to get her meaning. Was it a good thing or bad that the woman he wanted to marry made his body overheat and frazzled his brain? 

“Invite me up,” he said.

She shivered almost imperceptibly, but then arched one eyebrow, as if in control. “Why would I do that?”

A slow smile spread across his face. Her veneer of control called to him, compelled him to move closer. He could see her writhing in his bed, in his arms, under him, all thoughts of control long gone.  

His voice, when he found it, was rough. “There’s something I want to talk to you about.”

Macy glanced at his mouth then met his eyes. “I don’t think talking’s what you have in mind.”

He reached and found her fingers with his, holding them at his side in the lightest of clasps. “Sure, just because I want to talk doesn’t mean I’m not aching to touch you.” To kiss you. To taste you.

Her pupils dilated to almost cover her hazel irises but she didn’t move.

He leaned over and brushed his lips lightly across hers, meaning it to be no more than a peck, a brief demonstration of his words. He began to pull away but couldn’t help gently touching her mouth again. Those lips had been on his mind for twelve hours straight. Just one more touch...

Her mouth yielded, opened to him, and he needed no second invitation for something he’d been wanting to do since she’d arrived at the bar. As he deepened the kiss, he moved forward, closing the distance but not pressing against her – not yet – the bulk of his coat ensuring a respectable distance. Her tongue lightly touched his, a caress sweeter than he’d even imagined.

Drunk on her exotic scent, he lifted his hands to cup her face, finding her cheeks were like silk under his palms. He felt her hands on his shoulders, lightly, then more assured as they traveled an exquisite path to his neck before her fingers tangled in his hair. He was lost.

AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? was originally released in Australia in Nov 2010. Ryder’s half-brother, Seth Kentrell had his story in MILLION-DOLLAR AMNESIA SCANDAL in March 2011. And the third brother, JT Hartley’s book RETURN OF THE SECRET HEIR will be released in Oct in the US and Nov in Australia. We’ll bring you a smooch from JT’s book soon!

You can still buy AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? from eHarlequin (paper and eBook), Barnes & Noble for the nook, The Book Depository or at Amazon for kindle.

To win a copy of AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL? just leave a comment, and tell us if you’ve ever been to Melbourne, where most of the story takes place. If you win and you already have this book, you can choose another book from Rachel’s backlist.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Medical Romance RETURN OF THE MAVERICK by Sue Mackay will be posted!

Sep 9, 2011

Amazing Heroes!

by Robyn Grady

What’s your pleasure? Tortured? Honorable? A man up against all odds?
My choice is…all three!
My daughter is studying Wuthering Heights this semester. Heathcliffe is one of my favourite heroes (anti-hero) …dark, brooding, single-minded in his thirst for revenge. Brought to the Heights as an orphaned gypsy child, the reader never learns Heathcliffe’s true name, but from page one, his nature is clear. He is untouched by anyone and anything - save his beloved Cathy. For centuries women have fallen for Heathcliffe… or, more correctly, the idea of having the affections of a man so devoted that he would willingly sell his soul for despair of lost love. A most hypnotic, unhonourable man.

If we’re looking for an honourable hero, who can go past James Fenimore Cooper’s Hawkeye from The Last of the Mohicans.

"You be strong, you survive... You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you. I will find you!"

Oh, for a man who will expend his entire energy making sure that “you” are safe.

A more current hero of a different breed is Casino Royale's James Bond. Steely beyond belief, without fear, dedicated to the woman he loves. Best quote:
Vesper Lynd: If the only thing left of you was your smile and your little finger, you'd still be more of a man than anyone I've ever known.
James Bond: That's because you know what I can do with my little finger...
Hmm…the man does have a big gun.

Then there’s the hero who wins against all odds. Don’t try to keep him down because he has what it takes to succeed and do it with a charisma that brings us to our knees. Meet Emmanuel Kelly!

Sep 7, 2011

Calendar Daze - Part 1

"Thirty Days hath September..."

 by Sharon Archer

'Thirty Days hath September
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Save February all alone,
Which has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine each leap year'

Handy old rhyme, isn’t it?  The only tricky part is February and leap years - right?


Did you know that in 1752, September only had 19 days?
To understand why, we need to go back to Rome…
 In 45 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the Roman Calendar giving us the foundation of the one we use today.  But his model was too long by eleven minutes per year.  Doesn’t sound much, does it? But these insignificant minutes accumulated over the centuries. 

 By 1582, the spring equinox no longer fell on the 25 of March but earlier on the eleventh of that month.  

Pope Gregory XIII issued a Papal Bull correcting this by decreeing the 5th of October, in the year 1582, to be the 15th.  This brought the equinox back to March 21st.

To stop the problem occurring again, he calculated the century years should not be leap years unless they were divisible by 400.  Thus 2000 was a leap year, as was 1600.  The years 1700, 1800 and 1900, although divisible by four, were not leap years.

Roman Catholic countries, for example, Spain, France and Italy, changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1582.

In England, it was nearly another two hundred years passed before the modified calendar was introduced. 

Remember Henry VIII?  He solved his marital difficulties by breaking with the Papacy in the 1530’s and declaring himself the head of the Church.  Those elusive minutes kept accumulating until, in 1752, eleven days had to be dropped from the calendar to bring it into line with the Gregorian model. 

The correction was made in September of 1752, when the date jumped from the 2nd to the 14th.  Believing they’d been robbed, angry mobs of people rioted in the streets shouting “Give us back our eleven days!” 

I came across a tiny hint of this date anomaly when I was doing genealogy and couldn't resist researching it further. We take the calendar and our methods of measuring time for granted... but it hasn't always been straightforward!

So tell me, did you know this?  And if you did, how had you come across it?

I couldn't resist an excuse to give away a copy of The Man Behind The Badge!

PS: I raided one of Mr Gadget's other boxes for all these watches... okay I confess three of them are mine!  :)

Sep 5, 2011

Whirlygigs and Thingumbobs

by Emily May

Last month I shared some of the Regency slang that was used to describe brothels, the people who frequented them, and the activities that went on in them. This month, I'd like to share some amusing Regency slang that has purely to do with men, their sexual activities, and their anatomy. As before, these terms are all taken from that marvellous resource, The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Let's start with some anatomical slang...

bawbles, nutmegs, tallywags, thingumbobs, twiddle-diddles, and whirlygigs -- were all words for ... yes, you guessed correctly: testicles!

the matrimonial peacemaker, Man Thomas, pego, silent flute, sugar stick, and whore pipe were all slang for (in the words of the Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue) a man's 'virile member'

a rantallion -- is a man whose 'shot pouch is longer than the barrel of his piece' [a lovely bit of euphemism!]

a fancy man, petticoat pensioner, or stallion -- was a man kept by a woman for 'secret services'

to be a back door usher, backgammon player, or gentleman of the back door -- to be a sodomite

to navigate the windward passage -- to be a sodomite

And to finish...

to fetch mettle -- the 'act of self-pollution' [mettle being Regency slang for semen]

 That's all from me this month. Happy reading everyone!

Sep 4, 2011

Natalie Anderson Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

The Rugby World Cup starts this month, and today we have a sizzling rugby-themed smooch from NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST by Kiwi author Natalie Anderson, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is --

Congratulations, Natalie! Can you please contact Fiona Lowe at

fiona (at) fionalowe (dot) com and she'll send you an e-copy of BOOMERANG BRIDE.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST by Natalie Anderson...

 Once she was bad...

After one very wild and heartbreaking affair in her past, Lena is now very, very good. She prides herself on her iron self-control - working for the hottest rugby team in New Zealand, it's all testosterone but no touching!

But he's tempting her to be wicked...

Spending day-in-day-out in the boy's locker rooms, Lena thinks she's immune to even the most honed set of abs. Then Seth saunters into her life, and suddenly her inner bad girl is back in the game!

[A little background to this scene: having literally slapped baby oil on the bare torsos of an entire rugby team so they gleam for their annual calendar shoot, cucumber cool Lena has escaped into the corridor so she can give free reign to her amusement out of sight… only today, it’s a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire when she opens her eyes and finds Mr Hot Stuff standing right in front of her!]

“Should you be down here?” he asked, still not moving out of her personal space. “I thought this was a restricted area.”

“I guess that depends on who you know,” she said softly, totally unsubtly. 

“How many do you know?”

“Oh I know all of them,” she answered slowly. “Real well.”

She didn’t even have to try to sound husky, her voice just happened that way. The laughter from the change room echoed again – sexually appreciative, masculine amusement.

The stranger’s brows flicked. “And a good time was had by everyone.”

Lena parted her lips a hopefully imperceptible amount – just so she could breathe. She touched the tip of her tongue to them too, because they were drier than wood dust. She still couldn’t break from the prison of his gaze, but he had to be kidding. Did he really think she’d been in there getting an entire rugby team off? Oh he’d pay for that. She managed another raspy reply. “You have no idea how good.”

He stepped closer, putting one hand on the wall beside her head. “Tell me.”

Stunned, her senses flaring, she absorbed his taunting, low invitation. The sudden wicked glint in his eye unlocked some dam hidden deep within her. It burst free, the sensation that had long been buried, picking up the pace of her pulse until it pounded and sent heat steaming through her entire system. Her mad moment of tease in the change room was nothing on the temptation before her now. Her inner imp crossed right over from smart’n’sassy, to out-and-out wicked. The urge to shock this one man was irresistible.

“You know, everyone says that it’s guys who are visually stimulated,” she said faux thoughtfully. “That for women arousal is all between the ears or something.”

“And that’s not true?”

“No,” she shook her head, but still couldn’t break the eye contact. “We’re visual. We love to look every bit as much as you do. And a whole room full of beautiful naked men?” she purred. “I haven’t got a brain cell left.”

The corners of his eyes crinkled as his mouth smirked up. “Did you ever have a brain cell?”

“Well –” she bit her lip and positively batted her lashes at him. “– only a couple.”

“And now they’re fried?” 

“To a crisp,” she whispered breathily.

“The whole team huh?” Something danced in his eyes.

“Oh yes,” she sighed. And then she smiled, because she suddenly had it, the way in which she was going to teach this guy the lesson he so badly needed. She reached two inches forward and took hold of his beautifully tailored, no doubt horrifically expensive, jacket. She lifted her face nearer to his as she confirmed breathlessly, “I had my hands on every single one of them.”

“Did you, now?” He didn’t pull back, in fact he leaned closer. Which was just perfect, because she could smooth her hands on him without him really seeing.

Her oily, slippery hands.

“You’ve no idea, the excitement...” She gazed at him, not realising she’d trailed off. His smile had widened, sparkling up his expression and the effect was frankly mesmerising.

“You know what?” His voice dropped as he leaned to a mere millimetre away and full out mesmerised her even more. “I don’t believe you.”

She was surprised and her eyes widened, but she twisted her fingers in the soft, luxurious fabric. “I never lie.” Not now, she’d learned the lesson hard.

He planted his other hand on the wall beside her. Now she was trapped and the length of his body was a shiver away from the length of hers. Lena was having a time suppressing that shiver. Her breathing spiked as she tried to slow her pulse and pull her brain back from beyond. 

She figured he was a new recruit, or a player from another club visiting. He was tall enough, had the shoulders, not to mention the arrogance... 

“So you’ve been kissing all those boys in there?” he asked, his gaze intent and unwavering.

She flicked her brows.

They were nearly nose to nose, his blue-eyed focus still intense but now blatantly sensual and filled with amusement. It magnified her attraction to him. Bones, muscles, brain – everything melted. His expression was different to anything she’d seen in anyone on the team – for all the invitations. This guy was so focused, so, so intent on her. She could hardly breathe.

“If you’d really been kissing them,” he said. “I’d see it on your face. But your lipstick is immaculate.”

“Maybe I reapplied.”

“Your lips aren’t swollen, your skin isn’t flushed, your eyes don’t have that gleam.”

His words stoked the insane reactions occurring within her body – her lower belly had become an inferno and it was almost impossible to remain still. The urge to be exceptionally wicked had to be held in place somehow. Except she didn’t know how. All she knew was that she was answering him back again. “I’ve got a quick recovery. It’s necessary you know, when you take on so many at once. A girl like me has stamina.”

“Oh you do?” he sounded pleased. “Then one more isn’t going to make much difference is it?”

She froze. “One more what?”

Her words may or may not have sounded. Who cared? Because at that moment he moved that shiver closer.

His lips caught hers on the full, claiming complete possession. She didn’t even think to stop him. For a moment pure shock immobilised her, sending her strength someplace else. She just melted more, thankful for the wall behind holding her up. 

It had been a hell of a long time between kisses and this was one hell of a kiss. He took total control, first warming her mouth with his own, then sliding his tongue, teasing apart the seam of her lips before surging forward and exploring deeper. That brought her back, only not to fight and push him away like she probably should. Oh no, the only thing she could do was open up and kiss him right back. He was absolute masculinity – a wall of heat, strength and solidity that turned her into a malleable woman who’d bend whichever way he wanted.

She heard the growl, felt the shift as he moved closer still so his body pinned hers. His hands cupped her face, holding it up to his and for a few carnally delightful seconds he seduced the soul out of her. But just as she was really getting into it, he broke away, angling so he could look hard at her. His blue eyes blazed.

“Now you have the gleam.”

NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST is out in the UK in September, Oz/NZ in October and the US in November!

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of NICE GIRLS FINISH LAST tell Natalie in the comments below whether you're planning to watch any of the Rugby World Cup in the next few weeks, and if so, which team will you be cheering for?!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from AT THE BILLIONAIRE'S BECK AND CALL by Rachel Bailey will be posted!

Sep 2, 2011

The finish line

Last night (or more accurately early this morning) I subbed my second contracted book to my editor. I have definitely been suffering from "second book blues" - lots of self doubt and the very real fear that my first book was just a fluke! So it was very, very scary to hit "send", but also a huge relief. I was finished.

(at least until revisions land in my inbox!)

So, now that I'm basking in my "it's finally finished!" glow, I was wondering - what have you finished lately that has made you feel good?