Apr 30, 2012

Close Encounters of the Wildlife Kind

I live amongst the trees, so it's probably no surprise that we have lots of encounters with wildlife. Some I manage to get photos of, most I don't. The wallabies are usually too fast (remembering we have four dogs, so they don't want to hang around too close to the house). 
The brush turkeys come around every day and are gorgeous, but I never manage to get a photo -maybe because they do come every day, or maybe because I'm usually telling the dogs to stop barking at them. (Speaking of my dogs, the interview Oliver did a couple of years ago here at the LoveCats is now up at my blog if you'd like to meet him.)
For some reason, I seem to take more photos of the snakes and birds. Though I do have some lovely photos of a St Andrew's spider shedding its exoskeleton - an event that thoroughly entranced me for half a day. I'll post that another day.

This year, the Tawny Frogmouths have been very social and sitting in trees close to the house, so I've managed a few shots, including the little family above (who sat there so still and patiently all day) and the lone one at night (who was only a few feet from our verandah - so close I could have touched him!). 

I sometimes manage a snake photo when I've finished moving them out of the house. The photo of the full snake on the verandah was taken a few days ago after a successful extraction (I'm pretty sure it was a tree snake). The real trick with getting a snake out of the house is doing it without letting the dogs know - especially the Jack Russell who would love to grab them and do that shaking thing.

The other snake on the pavers had been in our garage and was very determined to stay. It took two people to convince it that outside would be a better place. Pretty sure it's a carpet python and was just gorgeous. 

What animals do you come into contact with regularly? House spiders (I love them!)? Wildlife? Magpies and crows? Or do you have something more exotic where you live?

Apr 29, 2012

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Sister Pact by Ali Ahearn and Ros Baxter, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Shelley! Can you please contact Sue at lsmackay (at) ts (dot) co (dot) nz and she'll send you a copy of The Dangers of Dating Your Boss.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Sister Pact by Ali Ahearn (aka Amy Andrews) and Ros Baxter...

Two very different sisters. Once inseparable, they have long been estranged after an unimaginable betrayal.

Organised and uptight Frances married the only man she’d ever slept with. But no-one ever told her that seven years later she’d be having sexual fantasies about everyone from the pizza delivery guy to Denis Thatcher.

Scatterbrained animal-lover Joni never knew she was so attached to her kneecaps until she thought she might have to say goodbye to them forever.

After their beloved grandmother -  a game show addict – dies, they discover that they have each been left one million pounds in her will. The kicker is they can only inherit if they participate as a team in a gruelling reality TV program, Endurance Island.

They can survive the jungle. They can survive the humiliating challenges. But can they survive each other?

 [Set up: Joni and Frances have been sent on a jungle trek challenge with the Irish cousins. They are hopelessly lost until Frances stumbles across Nick, the type of guy who can shear a sheep, build a shelter, climb a bramble infested tower and slay a dragon all before breakfast.  There is chemistry!]

Frances blushed again and, before she knew, it he was standing behind her like he had on the beach, his arms out in front, enveloping her as he talked her through the salient points, twisting the dial and rotating them both around as he spoke.
She could smell Nick’s earthy male aroma and feel the light press of his lips on her hair as he spoke. The buzz returned with a vengeance and Frances shut her eyes as it rippled everywhere.
‘And that’s pretty much it,’ Nick said. ‘Simple, isn’t it?’
Frances opened her eyes. ‘Clear as mud. Right up there with reverse parking and reading maps,’ she murmured.
Nick thought for a minute. ‘Okay, try this.’ He turned Frances back towards the stream and told her to look up. ‘See the sun?’
‘Yes, Nick. I’m directionally challenged, not blind.’
‘Except when it comes to men.’
Frances paused. ‘I think I’m seeing the light.’
‘Hallelujah,’ he murmured.
‘Of course, it could just be the sun,’ Frances quipped as his lips created havoc near her ear.
Nick chuckled. ‘And what do you know about the sun?’
That it had kissed his skin to perfection? She cleared her throat. ‘It rises in the east?’
‘And?’ he asked patiently.
‘Sets in the west?’
Frances waited for him to elaborate. ‘Is this some kind of Australian riddle?’
Nick sighed. ‘The camp is on the western tip of the island.’ He pointed to the sky. ‘Follow the sun. It’ll take you straight there.’
Frances looked at him skeptically. ‘Really? Just like that?’
Frances felt twenty years younger as the simplicity of Nick’s advice filtered slowly into her mind.
She beamed. ‘Thank you, Nick. Thank you, thank you, thank you,’ she said, grinning like an idiot, shifting from foot to foot, and then, finally, succumbing to the urge to hug him.
Nick grinned back. ‘It’s not rocket surgery.’
Frances pulled away slightly. ‘Maybe not, but you’re a lifesaver anyway.’
She could feel the heat coming off him as his hands tightened around her waist. Their bodies were pressed together from the hips down and she was mesmerised by the blue of his eyes.
‘So, are you going to leave that husband of yours?’ he asked, his gaze again falling to her mouth.
She swallowed. ‘Already have.’
‘Good,’ he murmured, backing her up until she bumped gently against the hard trunk of a nearby tree.
‘Then you won’t mind me doing this.’
His head swooped and not even the bite of the bark registered as the buzz exploded inside her, transforming her entire body into a giant erogenous zone. A quivering, whimpering erogenous zone. His lips took control and Frances hung on for dear life, sucking up every smoky nuance. The orgasm that had threatened earlier hovered closer.
His tongue pushed into her mouth.
Close. So close. Just a few more seconds …
‘Nick? Nick?’
They broke apart like they were fifteen-year-olds, instead of responsible adults. Frances whimpered and reached for the trunk to stop from falling.
‘Nick? Where the farking hell are ya?’ The voice was coming closer.
They stared at each other, their harsh breath the only other noise in the suddenly still jungle. The distinct screech in Cheryl’s voice even managed to frighten the insects into silence.
‘Coming, Cheryl,’ Nick called, his gaze not leaving Frances’s. ‘Are you okay?’ he whispered. Frances nodded. She probably wouldn’t drop dead from orgasm interruptus.
Nick ran his thumb over the plump moistness of her mouth and pointed to the sun. ‘Go.’
Frances nodded, brushing past him, stopping only to pick up the water bottles before scurrying back in the direction she’d come.
Back to sanity.
If an addict, an ex-addict and a maudlin wandering minstrel could be classed as sane.

Sister Pact will be released in Australia on May 1 and you'll find it in all good bookshops. If you'd like the eBook version, you can also find it at Amazon or at you can get a paper copy at Booktopia.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Sister Pact, just leave a comment. Ali and Ros are particularly interested to hear if there's any sibling rivalry in your family!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from First Time Lucky by Natalie Anderson will be posted!

Apr 27, 2012

Sickness, Soup and Sensitivity: give me a heroic bedside manner!

I'm coming to you from the House of Lurgy today - the dreaded red, sore croaky throat bug has invaded. The husband and eldest are first afflicted and I suspect more are soon to fall...

Sore throats suck I think - sure they're not the worst illness in the world by any stretch! But they're very painful and while they're around they affect every action - hurt when you breathe, swallow and above all, try to eat - something very important to me!!!!

Soup - by Simon Howden.
So my nine year old is spending her second day home from school, curled up on the sofa under a rug, reading her favorite books in front of the fire. It's Autumn/Fall here and rain has settled in to keep us company today. I'm plying her with an odd combination of broccoli soup and lemonade. Guess which of the two she prefers!!! Really, it's not so bad - especially when she has Doting Mum on hand to provide for her every wish... (poor hubby is on a business trip away and suffering in stoic silent solitude).

Sickness often crops up in category romance - where either hero or heroine is laid low for a few days and we get to see how the other character copes and cares for her/him. It can show a lot about the relationship, especially in the earlier stages where perhaps any idea of 'relationship' between the two is being fiercely resisted!!!

I confess I rather love the idea of having a big strong hero swooping in to take care of me when I'm feeling poorly. How nice would it be to cuddle in to a broad, warm chest and be held close... But then pride rears up and I think - eeeeeuuuu--would I really want the guy I'd quite like to impress see me all sweaty and feverish?! Or worse, throwing up!

It's a plot point I've used myself. In REBEL WITH A CAUSE, very early in the story Sophy comes across Lorenzo who's mortified to be laid low with tonsillitis and a flu bug and no way does he want Sophy hanging round and 'helping'. So Sophy doesn't. She knows this guy isn't going to take that from her so she goes a step further and hires a nurse to care for him in that first twenty-four hours when the fever was at it's peak. He hates her for it, but he'd have hated it more in that part of their relationship for him to see him so weak - allowing himself to be vulnerable around her isn't something that he can do until much later.

I remember reading an old Lucy Walker as a teen (Lucy Walker wrote the most fabulous romances set in the Australian outback - I read them a billion times) - and I clearly remember one in which the heroine gets a snake bite and spends the night in a terrible fever. It was at a very bad patch in the relationship between her and the hero (she thinks he hates her and resents her being there) - but when she wakes she sees his stretcher has been pulled right close to hers, she remembers someone putting a cool facecloth on her forehead and giving her sips of water through the night... And we see the hero later looking very tired from that worry and lack of sleep... lovely stuff!!!!

So how do you feel about the hero or heroine getting ill within a romance?! Do you like seeing how the other literally cares for her/him?! Do you like that fantasy of having a gorgeous hero to wipe your brow or does it make you shudder in humiliation?!

And most importantly (from my daughter who's 'sick' of broccoli soup) what food and or drink do you think is the best medicine for a sore throat!!!

Apr 25, 2012

Love letters

by Emmie Dark

Because today is ANZAC Day, a friend was telling me about a wartime story she heard. A New Zealand couple met just before he was called up to serve in World War II. They kept in contact all throughout the war and married as soon as he returned—she sewed her wedding dress while she was waiting for him. They then enjoyed almost 60 years of happy marriage. After their deaths – just three months apart – their children discovered a box of their love letters from during the war. They both signed each letter “yours forever and ever”.

Isn’t that just heart-melting?

It made me think about love letters and how special it is to receive words that let you know the place you hold in someone's heart.

I still have a box somewhere with letters from high school. I wouldn’t exactly call them Robert Browning quality literature, but then teenage boys aren’t always erudite. I also like to keep cards and notes from friends and family – those little notes where someone expresses how special you are can be so lovely to stumble across on a day when you’re not feeling your best.

Technology is, I think, helping bring the love letter new relevance.  Yes, you could complain that we don’t handwrite letters anymore. And you could argue that an email isn't as romantic as a letter.

But back in war time (or even back not so long ago) you couldn’t send an instant, quick message to let someone know you were thinking of them. A sweet, caring text message is a lovely way to brighten someone’s day. And as anyone who's posted their birthday on Facebook knows, you can't escape the happy birthday messages there -- and the reminder of how many people out there care about you!

I don't think that's a bad thing at all.  After all, it's the message that's important -- not the delivery. Wouldn't you agree? 

I did a bit of research into love letters to prepare this blog post. I have to share some of my favourites that I came across.

Robert Browning
"Dear Elizabeth: Do you know, when you have told me to think of you, I have been feeling ashamed of thinking of you so much, of thinking of only you--which is too much, perhaps." Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett.

“I love you, I love you. My Victor, I cannot reiterate it too often; I can never express it as much as I feel it. I recognise you in all the beauty that surrounds me  in form, in colour, in perfume, in harmonious sound: all of these mean you to me.” Juliette Drouet, French actress, to Victor Hugo.

It's too long for me to copy and past in it's entirety here, but you must read Lewis Carroll's letter to Gertrude Despite being posted on a site for romantic love letters, it's not a 'love letter' -- more of a 'get well soon' wish. (Gertrude Chataway was a child to whom he dedicated "The Hunting of the Snark" to.) It's typically Lewis Carroll in its eccentricity, but it's incredibly sweet.

How about this for a modern take on love letters?

“Can you all help me make her morning?” Ashton Kutcher made an appeal to the Twitterverse to surprise Demi Moore with hundreds of "good morning, I love you" tweets. (Okay, so I know that it’s over, but still, attempting to “crash Twitter with love” is pretty fabulous.) He succeeded. Demi replied: "I am feeling the love bomb and think I might explode! At least with a few tears of overwhelming joy."

I’m not going to include any quotes from James Joyce’s love letters to his wife Nora. Now they were eye-popping!! If you’re interested in having your horizons broadened (potentially in ways you didn’t want), Google “James Joyce love letters” and see what you find. I was going to put a link, but it’s really not LoveCats style stuff. :)

But, lest you fear I'm being too tame, let me leave you with the words of Gustave Flaubert to his wife, Louise: 

"I will cover you with love when next I see you, with caresses, with ecstasy.  I want to gorge you with all the joys of the flesh, so that you faint and die.  I want you to be amazed by me, and to confess to yourself that you had never even dreamed of such transports...  When you are old, I want you to recall those few hours, I want your dry bones to quiver with joy when you think of them."


Apr 23, 2012

Guilty pleasure: Anzac Biscuits

One of my favourite guilty pleasures is an Anzac Biscuit. I love nothing more than dunking an Anzac in a fresh glass of milk. Mmmm.

So here’s some trivia about the good old Anzac bikkie just in time for ANZAC Day.

·       Anzacs are an iconic, delicious biscuit particularly famous amongst Australians and New Zealanders of all ages.

·       Different people like their Anzac Biscuits different ways. Some like them rock hard and tough to break, some like them softer and chewier. Others, in between. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the soliders on the front were enjoying their Anzac Biscuits rock-hard post-transport from Downunder. (I’m from camp chewy though I will dunk a hard Anzac rather than miss out on it).

·       ANZAC is a protected term in Australia and New Zealand and misuse (particularly for commercial purposes) is a major no-no. One exception is the Anzac Biscuit but only when it’s made to the traditional recipe. And only when it’s called a biscuit (never a cookie).

·       Reportedly, women Downunder sent their loved ones on the front Anzac biscuits because the ingredients lasted particularly well on the long journey from Aust/NZ. The biscuits were often packed into old billy-tea tins so that they were airtight for their long journey overseas.

·       The secret to a good, chewy Anzac Bikkie is the brown sugar.

·       Anzac ‘wafers’ (or ‘tile’) were a standard ration for soldiers at the front but that was more like a hard, tasteless, solid bread-substitute than a biscuit. So hard that some soldiers had to grind it down to make a porridge.

·       Not everyone packaged their Anzacs up and shipped them off to the front. Some women back home sold them locally and used the $$ raised to buy small treats/comforts for their fighting men

·       The RSL receives royalties from the commercial sale of most Anzac biscuits.

So there you go. A history lesson and a snack all in one. I’m not a cook and I’ve never made successful biscuits in my life, Anzacs included. But I do love to buy them. But if you wanted to have a crack at Anzac Biscuits this April 25th in honour of the many thousands of men lost at Gallipolli, try here .
Bake em, dunkem, eat em.


Apr 22, 2012

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Dangers of Dating Your Boss by Sue Mackay, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Maria! Can you please contact Louisa George via her website and she'll send you a copy of One Month To Become A Mum.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Dangers of Dating Your Boss by Sue Mackay ...

[Lead in - Ruby left Jack three years ago, but now they find they're working together on the rescue helicopter. From the moment they met again it's obvious the attraction that had been between them before is still strong, but now there is a truckload of issues to sort out before they can admit their true feelings. Except it's never that easy.]

Jack's hands slid over Ruby's back. A caressing movement that stole the air out of her lungs, nullified the common sense trying to take hold of her mind. When he wrapped his hands over her shoulders and tipped her slightly backwards she knew he was going to kiss her and she was powerless to stop him. She wanted it. Forget right or wrong. This was Jack and she was finally kissing him. Common sense was highly overrated.

His mouth touched hers; softly, tentatively. Seeking what? A connection from the past? A new beginning? She thrilled as his lips moulded with hers. And when she opened her mouth under his, her tongue tasted him. And Jack went from slow and quiet to fast and hot in an instant. His kiss deepened so quickly Ruby was spinning through space. Her arms gripped hiim tighter for support, trying to keep her firmly in the here and now as she tilted further back to allow Jack better access to her mouth.

At last. She was kissing Jack Forbes again. Memories of other kisses flooded her senses. Nothing over those years had changed. They fitted together. They were two halves that needed their matching piece to be complete. And yet this kiss felt different from every other kiss she'd shared with Jack. Filled with need so long held in abeyance. Filled with promise of new beginnings.

Heat zinged along her veins, dipped through her body, lit the dampened fires of desire she'd been denying since setting eyes on Jack close up yesterday. No other man had ever made her feel so weak. so tight, so warm, so needy, all in an instant. Just by kissing her, Jack turned on every switch her body had.

He walked her backwards up to the wall, his mouth not breaking contact with hers for a moment. Pressed against the wall, Ruby wriggled up onto her toes, all the better to continue kissing him. And as she did, she rubbed against his arousal, turning her heat into a conflagration. They were going to make love. The need, the desire, pulsed between them, hummed in her blood, tasted sweet in Jack's mouth.

Then Jack lifted his head and hurriedly stepped back. Ruby stumbled, steadied herself. "Jack?'

His gaze was dark, deep. Wariness slowly filtered through the desire, cooling it. Caution took over and he stepped further away, taking his warm hands from her shoulder. 'Sorry.'

I have a copy of The Dangers of Your Boss to give away. Leave a comment and go into the draw.

Apr 21, 2012

Winner of Sue MacKay's book

Laney, can you email your address to Sue MacKay on lsmackay (at) ts (dot) co (dot) nz and I'll send you a book.

Apr 20, 2012

Hooroo . . . from Humpty Doo!

Okay, so I’m not actually writing this blog from Humpty Doo.  In fact, I didn’t know it was a real place until the other day when some nomading friends pulled up to stay there on one of their stops around the country. But I quickly Googled and found out that Humpty Doo is indeed a town in the Northern Territory, Australia. (Click on the link to discover some fascinating things about this little town just under fifty kilometres from the capital of the NT, Darwin) According to my Googling efforts it boasts a giant boxing kangaroo and a bird watching haven called Fogg Dam. 

Hearing about this place got me thinking about some of the other, bizarrely named towns I’ve been to, or heard about. Like Yorkey’s Knob, north of Cairns, where I visited once as a child. Or Nowhere Else – which is odd at best, but even stranger considering there are two towns called that name – one in South Australia and one in Tasmania.
Travel across the ditch to the US and there are some interesting names to be had – how about Winkleman, Arizona? Looneyville, West Virginia? Toad Suck, Arkansas?  Vermont Bread Loaf, Utah? Or Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania?

But my favourite comes from my country of origin, Wales. Having welsh parent’s, I was raised on a diet of things called Toad in the Hole, or a Spotted Dick. And the names of the villages are equally mystifying. Perhaps the most bewildering of all also boasts the record as the longest town name in Europe – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Trying saying that after a couple of glasses of wine. It was almost a rite of passage in my family (I’m the youngest of seven kids) to have to master that pronunciation.

Have you travelled somewhere with a unique, odd or impossibly inappropriate name? Did you pick up any quirky memorabillia? I'm giving away a copy of my January Special Edition release, Made For Marriage, to the commenter who has been to the place, town or village with the most unusual name!

Apr 18, 2012

Tea as Inspiration - Annie West

I was going to write about something deeply intellectual and thought provoking. You know, the sort of post that gives you a brilliant lightbulb moment. But I couldn't. Instead I succumbed to the lure of fascination and fun. I've had these pics in my camera for a while now and I just couldn't resist using them.

We have at home this packet of 5 tea bags, a gift from someone in Germany. I'm telling myself I'll open them soon and use them but I get so much pleasure just out of looking at them.

In case the pictures aren't very clear, each is a tea bag, suspended not from a string but from a cardboard cut out person whose arms stretch out to rest on the edge of your cup, so you can enjoy seeing the tea bag as it brews.

Each is a fascinating persona. Here we have in descending author a treasury of great authors: Voltaire, Schiller, Dante, Shakespare and Goethe. I love Dante's grumpy face and the fact that Goethe seems to be checking out the action just out of your line of sight. I'm looking forward to using these and drawing inspiration for my writing from one of the world's great writers. Surely it will be like osmosis. With Shakespeare or Schiller to help me the words are bound to flow. Yes?

And if you prefer to be inspired by people who don't have a literary background, my husband has some he's been using at work. So far I think he's used Jimmy Hendrix and John Lennon. Then there's a set with Sister Theresa, Nelson Mandela and interestingly, Che Guevara. And another set with British royal family members. Something for almost every taste. I'm wondering now about a set of famous Russian authors. Maybe a set of composers. And of course there are sporting heroes and current faces from public life. Who wouldn't want to dunk a politician when they had the chance?

So, what do you think? Would having these inspire you to write, or tackle whatever work it is you do? Who would you love to see on a tea bag, or coffee bag for that matter, that might inspire you? Famous romance authors? Family members? Titles of your unpublished works in book form? Gorgeous scenes? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Contribute an answer and I'll put your name in a random draw to win a book. As Undone By His Touch is a brand new release this month in the UK, I'll give away a signed copy of that. I'll post the winner's name here before the next post goes up, so keep your eyes open.

Apr 16, 2012

Love At First Sight

Sue MacKay asks

Love At First Sight?

Or is it lust at first encounter?

As a romance writer I find that my hero and heroine always have that immediate "something" happening between them from the very first time they have any type of contact. And in our stories this is always the beginning of true love. Of course this is essential to writing a book that people want to read. We don't have the time and space to have lead-ins to our 'on-paper' relationships.

But is this how it happens in real life? Do you answer the phone at the office and the unknown, very sexy male voice at the other end instantly brings to mind tangled sheets?

Or when you walk into a crowded bar and clash gazes with the hot guy on the other side of the room do you instantly think of - well, tangled sheets?

Is this feeling that grips us love or lust?

I wonder if all couples start their relationships with a sudden bolt from the blue when they meet for the very first time. Is this what makes that one person out of many special for you? Maybe some couples start out as friends and learn to love each other, finding that X factor ingredient along the way.

We all need that special something that makes us love one particular person and want to join our lives with theirs. It is the cream on the pav.

Personally I can't imagine going to a bar after work with my colleagues, ordering a wine, then taking my "ideal mate" shopping list out of my handbag and studying the crowd. I did certainly look around for someone interesting when I was single but most times there were never sparks in the air.

It was the sound of my DB's laughter that first caught my attention. I just had to meet him and immediately found an excuse to go downstairs to the boss's office where he was. I was drawn to him right from the get go, and even did something I'd never done before - I asked him on a date.

So what about you? Did you know immediately you connected with your partner that he was the one? Or did you take time to find that special something with him?

Blog me your views and go into the draw for a copy of The Dangers of Dating Your Boss.

Apr 15, 2012

Sunday Smooch - One Month To Become A Mum

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from One Month To Become A Mum by Louisa George, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Kaelee! Can you please contact Andrea Laurence at

Author (at) AndreaLaurence (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of What Lies Beneath.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from One Month To Become A Mum by Louisa George ...

Some things in life are worth waiting for ...

Jessie Price has lost her only chance at motherhood – it’s a constant hurt, until she meets sinfully sexy single dad Dr Luke McKenzie and his gorgeous little girl. Luke’s intoxicating kisses and his daughter’s adoring hugs have Jessie longing for the impossible. But she's a temporary locum, the clock’s ticking – and there’s only a month to make all her wishes come true…


[Set-up - Jessie has hurt her lip and Luke is using a bag of frozen peas to reduce the swelling…]

          Resting the bag of peas on the drainer she shook her head again. ‘No Luke, we agreed, remember? Friends only.’

‘You’re right.’ He stepped away. ‘Absolutely. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t…’

‘No.’ Jessie took a shallow breath. Then another. Grabbed his wrist as he turned from her.

What the hell?

No matter how much her head said she shouldn’t do this, her body ached for it. Maybe …get him out of her system. A brief kiss then she’d be satiated.

Would she? One kiss could lead to more, and more, and then inevitably he’d see her scars. Then the kiss would definitely end. And any hope. She needed to leave. Now, before it was too late.

But he tipped his head, inches away from her mouth. He smelt of soap and cinnamon, an intoxicating mix. He glanced at her fingers clasping his arm. Smiled. Ran his thumb over her bruised lip. ‘I’ll be gentle.’

The look he gave her was a question, a promise. Another dare. How could she resist?

 ‘Gentle? Don’t even think about it,’ she groaned.

 Her arms curled around his neck. She blinked up at him, her tongue slicked a line along her lips, her breathing came in little gasps as she pulled him closer and found his mouth with hers.

Her lips were ice-cold and she tasted of honeyed wine. He wanted to drink her in, every beautiful drop. Very gently he traced butterfly kisses around her mouth, slowly kissing along the line of bruising.

It wasn’t enough. He wanted more of her.

To hell with treading carefully, he wanted to rush in and capture the whole deal. He wanted Jess and her crazy whirlwind of fun and fragility. He wanted her in his bed, by his side. He wanted her unlike anything he’d ever wanted before.

He inhaled her flowery scent, drunk on the heady aroma.

What did he want? For her to stay? That was so far off both their radars. But right now it seemed possible. He couldn’t think straight with her here. He wanted this. Her smell, her soft body in his arms. This kiss.

Yes, that’s what he wanted. More than that he was lost.

‘Jess,’ he murmured as he unpinned her hair. It fell in tendrils around her shoulders and he buried his hands in her blonde curls as he kissed her, suffusing her lips with his heat.

She deepened the kiss further, sliding her tongue into his mouth, filling him with spasms of heat and desire. Her tight body pressed against his, beneath her dress he felt the swell of her breasts, the curve of her hips, and was lost with the power of his need for her.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of One Month To Become A Mum, leave a comment and Louisa will draw one lucky winner!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The Dangers Of Dating Your Boss by Sue Mackay will be posted!

Apr 12, 2012

My Shiny New Trailer

Big news...

I have a book trailer! And I couldn't be more thrilled with it. :) All the technical smarts were Nikki Logan's (I swear, that woman is a goddess), and we've been working on it on and off for a year. But it's finally here and I feel a bit like I did when I saw my first book cover - wanting to just watch it over and over. Happy sigh.

So, in the spirit of talking about trailers, have you seen a trailer lately that really hooked you? I'm quite enamoured with The Avengers trailer - I think we'll be off to the movies when that one starts playing!

Apr 11, 2012

Sew Good. Sew Profound.

by Michelle Douglas

Amazing, amazing thing... Back in February I bought a sewing machine.

Why is this amazing?

Because I have always said that I hate sewing. Admittedly, I can’t remember ever actually using a sewing machine, but at school I never finished a single hand-sewing project. My sewing teachers shook their heads darkly and said I was ungainly and inept.

And I believed them.

For the thirteen months between school and university I worked in a clothing factory sewing the crotch in men’s knickers. That involved using an industrial overlocker. Production line work. Not creative. Not inspiring. Oh, yeah, and I had a seriously mean supervisor.

Can you see now how amazing it is that I’ve bought a sewing machine (and, no, I didn’t just get it because it was on a half-price sale)? Look, here it is. Isn’t it pretty?

Now, because I was on deadline I wasn’t allowed to use it until March, so I spent several weeks stroking it whenever I walked past.

What inspired me to buy it? Ah, good question, dear reader. I’ve been reading a daily blog by Kristina Douglas (aka Anne Stuart), Jenny Crusie and Lani Diane Rich (aka Lucy March) called Reinventing Fabulous (here’s the link if you’re interested: http://reinventingfabulous.com/) and these women love craft and sewing and are so enthusiastic about it that it started me thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to make things—clothes, cushions, curtains, bags. Oh my, the possibilities seem endless!

And you know what I’ve discovered? I am not inept and ungainly. I am a goddess! This is what I’ve made so far.

A tea towel cushion cover. This taught me that it is SERIOUSLY EASY to make something that looks good!

A t-shirt tote. This taught me that if I don’t put the presser foot down when I try to sew, I will make a mess… but also that I have the ability to fix said mess.

And a shoulder bag. This has a lining and fusible interfacing in the straps and everything! Fusible interfacing? Oh, believe me, I’m learning a whole new language. This…umm…also taught me why people use patterns instead of just measuring in from one edge of fraying material and cutting the required length out. :-)

This is what I’m attempting next and the material I mean to use. Wish me luck!

The sewing has been so much fun! Remember the sheer joy of play when we were kids? Remember how proud we were when we made something? There seems to be something joyful in this kind of play—it’s a refilling of the well and keeps our joy in life alive.

So I’d love to know—have you been playing lately? Is there something you’ve been doing that makes you smile and fills you with joy. And if anyone would like to leave a sewing tip or two for this enthusiastic beginner, I’d be terribly grateful. :)

[And for interested readers, I’m running a contest at the moment for an advanced copy of The Man Who Saw Her Beauty + a packet of Tim Tams + a packet of loose-leaf tea from The Tea Shop. And, yes, there’s a story to the Tim Tams and the tea but you’ll have to read the book to discover what it is. :-) For more information check out www.michelle-douglas.com]

Apr 9, 2012

An alternative to Easter eggs

By Leah Ashton

Every Good Friday, my mum's (Croatian) side of the family get together for lunch. We always have bakalar (salted fish) dishes - a rice soup made with the fish stock, and then the main bakalar dish, which is made with potatoes and a *lot* of garlic. Like forty cloves of garlic - seriously!

I love this very traditional lunch, and this year I decided to find out if there was a traditional Croatian Easter dessert. And, it turns out, there is! So I made Croatian Easter cake, or Pinca - here's the recipe I used: Traditional Easter Cake.

I do enjoy baking, but this cake is more like a bread - it used yeast and needed a lot of rising time. So I was a bit worried about how it would turn out, and in fact I totally underestimated the rising time and ended up driving to my mum's place with the cake still raw and rising in the car :) But, thankfully, it turned out beautifully:

My version of a traditional Croatian Easter Cake

(If you read the recipe you'll see I gave up on the idea of plaiting the dough! And, it turns out, my boring loaf is more traditional, anyway :) ).

My grandmother is 89, and she immediately recognised the cake, but called it something different - Sirnica. I googled that, and it turns out, yes - that's the same style of cake! She also said there is another cake, called Lumblija, which is made for All Saints Day. I googled this, too - and it originates from Blato, a town only a few kilometres from where my family is from (Vela Luka) on the island of Korcula. I know exactly where that is, as I visited in 2010. So - now I have another cake to try in November :) Plus - my family all devoured the Sirnica, and it was agreed it would be a regular on our Croatian Easter menu.

Pinca/Sirnica isn't the only traditional Easter cake around - I found a few more:
  • Simnel Cake - From the UK, this cake is decorated with 11 almond paste balls to represent the 11 true apostles.
  • Easter Dove Cake - From Italy, I love the shape of this cake! I might try this one :)
  • Kozinjak - From Macedonia - this looks amazing, and very similar to Sirnica.
My Sirnica, and behind it are prsurate (the round balls)
and hrstule (twisted pastries).
Plus the traditional (Australian!) hot cross buns :)
In my June US release, Secrets & Speed Dating, my hero's mum is Croatian, and I managed to squeeze in a few of my favourite Croatian meals into the story. But - none of the desserts! So, I guess I'll need to write another Croatian hero or heroine in the future, so I can spread the word - not only about Sirnica, but also hrstule and prsurate, my grandmother's staple traditional (amazing!) desserts for every occasion. Hmm, I may need to make those for a future LoveCats post :)

So, does your family have a traditional Easter meal? I'd love to hear about it!

Apr 8, 2012

Sunday Smooch - What Lies Beneath

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from What Lies Beneath by Andrea Laurence, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Alyssaxx! Can you please contact Kylie  at

kyliegriffin71 (at) optusnet (dot) com (dot (au)

and she'll send you a copy of Vengeance Born

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from What Lies Beneath by Andrea Laurence
She’s Awake. So Why Can’t She Remember?

They say she’s Cynthia Dempsey, fiancée of media mogul Will Taylor. But try as she might, she can’t recall their high-society life or the man sitting by her hospital bed. Though her body certainly remembers him. Even as she senses the distance between them, the electricity when they touch is undeniable.

Will can hardly believe Cynthia’s transformation. Gone is the ice queen who betrayed him, and in her place is a woman who seems genuine and warm. But can he risk his heart again, not knowing what might happen when her memory returns?

Set up
[The heroine, Cynthia, has been in a plane crash and has amnesia. She and her fiancé, Will, had had a horrible fight and broke off their engagement before the trip, but now only he remembers her betrayal and is loathe to trust her despite how much her personality has changed. But the new Cynthia is oh so alluring…]
          Will had tried to wish away his attraction to her and yet Alex’s words taunted him. This could be their second chance. He’d offered them both a clean slate and the only thing keeping him from taking this opportunity was his own stubborn sense of self-preservation. Yes, the woman he proposed to had abused everything he gave her. But this was an entirely different woman despite their resemblance. No matter how hard he fought it, she intrigued and aroused him like no woman had before.

What would it hurt to see where this could go, even if only to soothe his own curiosity? He could certainly keep his heart out of the situation to avoid disaster. If things went awry or she regained her memory, he could easily walk away, no harm done. And if he could keep their relationship going long enough to satisfy George Dempsey, it would boost his business. It seemed like a win-win situation if he could let himself give into it.

Cynthia pulled away slightly, stopping to look up at him. She was clearly excited by her new design adventure, but her expression shifted as she gazed into his eyes. Something changed in that moment and he could feel the difference, too. The attraction she felt for him was just as strong. He could tell by the way her breath caught, her lips parting slightly and tempting him closer.

She wanted him to kiss her. And he wanted to. He wanted to know how she would touch him. What sounds she would make. How she would feel in his arms.  Letting his body and his curiosity win over, he leaned in and captured her lips with his own. There was an immediate connection when he touched her. This wasn’t just a test. It was a real kiss, unlike what they’d shared before. A thrill raced through his body, a tingling in the base of his spine urging him to pull her closer. The need built quickly inside, pushing him to take more from her.

Cynthia leaned into him and placed one hand gently on his cheek. His tongue brushed hers, the taste and feel of her new and unexpected, like silk and honey. The hand resting on her hip slid upwards, caressing her side and tugging her to him. She whimpered quietly against his mouth, a soft, feminine sound that roused a primal reaction in him. He’d never been this turned on by a kiss in his life.

Everything about her from the gentle caress of her hands to the flutter of her eyelashes against his cheek started his blood boiling. There was an innocence, a sweetness. She had no agenda, no motives for offering herself to him. She just gave into her desires and urged him to do the same. It took everything he had not to scoop her off the bench, carry her back to the apartment and claim her as his own.

Unfortunately, by the time he carried her four blocks to their apartment, he’d realize it was a mistake. Pulling away, he stayed close, their breath warm on each other’s skin. They sat still for a moment, his mind whirling with the implications of what he’d just done. He needed to keep his brain in charge instead of his crotch or he’d make a mess of everything.

What Lies Beneath is and April release in the US, and May in Australia.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of What Lies Beneath, how important is a first kiss when dating someone new? Can a bad kisser be a deal breaker?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from One Month to Become a Mum by Louisa George will be posted!

Apr 6, 2012

What Easter means to me (hint: not very much so don’t read if it’s super special to you…)

by Nikki Logan

So here’s the thing... I’m a heathen. Let’s get that cleared up right now. I was raised CofE and so I have the cultural background re the whole crucifixion, resurrection, rolling back the stone, omg he’s gone thing. But I don’t really do Easter and nor do I get Easter.

I started to write this blog all about the origins and confusions of Easter but there’s really nothing I can say that isn’t going to offend someone - Easter has it’s little chocolatey fingers in so very many cultural pies.

So, I find myself in the rare position of saying nothing at all.



Blogging GOLD!
OK so clearly I can’t say nothing for an entire blog. But here’s what I can say…
I’m not a practicing anything so if Easter is one of your holiest holidays then please… look away now. I do not wish to offend, but Easter at my house is, I’m sure, a very different creature to Easter at your house. I would be quite prepared to work over Easter if someone said to me ‘if you don’t observe a holiday, don’t take it’. That’s reasonable. I’m all for reason. I’d probably end up working on The Queens Birthday and Foundation Day and Labour Day, for the same reason cos I really don’t observe those either. In fact, one of them has just been renamed entirely here in Western Australaia and I don’t even know which or why, which gives you a big clue as to how much attention I pay them.
I do observe ANZAC day because that’s a day I think about my grandfathers who both served. But I don’t observe it very hard, really, or for very long. About a minute, usually silent.  Sometimes I hum because the Last Post is the mother of all earworms. Australia Day, yes, because all those BBQs burning in the neighbourhood and all those strangers out playing street cricket using my sulo bin as wickets…it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement.

But Easter…not so much.

But, if the Government is going to require me to take these days off then perhaps I should rename them--in the tradition of the Christians--to something more meaningful. Something that tells me and all my descendents a little of what the days mean in the ancient annals of Logan. Henceforth, they shall be known throughout the kingdom (and yay verily...) as:
·        Good Friday-Off - the best day off of all. Because it’s a Friday and it’s the ONLY Friday you get off all year unless you’re skyving. That makes it a very Good Friday Off.
·        Shops-Are-Open Saturday  - this day confuses me. Are we doing easter or aren’t we? Fresh out of Friday’s holiness it’s apparently okay to nick back to the shops to replenish before the splendour of Sunday? But, like everyone else, I dash out on the Saturday as if it’s going to be three weeks before they’ll re-open again. A whole day just feels like a long time to have been banished from the ailses.
Forevergeek.com "Terminator Easter"
·        Chocolate Sundae - I think the spelling, here, is important. This one is apparently also called ‘Resurrection Day’ in Christian lore which I do like… very John Connor. The name, I think, is obvious in its arcane symbolism. 
·        Tumms Monday - I don’t do the chocolate thing anymore, but I used to. And Monday was always Tumms Monday after I spend all of the day before hoeing into chocolate. Owie. There's no good way to sit or lie after a chocolate binge.
·        Awesome-I’m-a-Public-Servant-and-get-an-extra-day-off-Tuesday - Almost as good as Good Friday Off. Any day that not everyone gets is a really good day off. Not really sure why, maybe someone high up just realised we’re all going to flex it off anyway, might as well roll it into our benefits and write it off.
And so there we go. I’m sure the new Easter naming conventions will be meaningful for others out there. Perhaps you have your own? Off-to-the-zoo-Monday? Good-day-for-washing-Friday?

A quick nod to the website from which most of these gorgeous, geeky eggs come from: http://www.neatorama.com/2012/04/04/14-wonderfully-geeky-easter-eggs/ Check them out, there's heaps more, all equally brilliant.
To finish, I was holding out for a Simon’s Cat Easter special but I figure if there is one it will probably come out on Chocolate Sundae. But just like last year’s chocolate, these things NEVER get old… So here’s a Simon’s Cat Easter Special from 2011. Enjoy. No calories.
Wishing everyone--regardless of what you do to mark/pass Easter--a very safe and relaxing few days. Please come out safely on the other side. We like having you round.