May 30, 2012

Relationships - The True Story

Romance novels are sometimes accused of showing an unrealistic view of love and relationships, but I disagree. 

Here's what I know about relationships: 

They're not easy.
Every relationship goes through rough patches, when it takes hard work and commitment to get to the good parts again.

They're worth it.
A good relationship brings joy, companionship, intimacy and support.

No two relationships are alike.
Every relationship travels its own path. Some are a slow burn that work up to intensity, others are intense from the first time the couple meet. Some have big highs and lows, others are more stable. Every person is an individual (cue scene from Life of Brian, "Yes, we're all individuals,") so every relationship will unfold in its own way.

This I've learned from my own experience and from watching the experience of others close to me.
And it's what the couples in a romance novel also experience. They don't have plain sailing - they have to work hard for their happy ending. Face challenges, make mistakes, keep going, prove they deserve the love and commitment of the other person.

I think there are worse life lessons one could learn.

(I've seen a few wise words about relationships on Facebook recently, so I'm pasting a few here for you.)

So tell me, what do have you learned about relationships? Together we could expand out my list of 3 above. 

May 28, 2012

Knowledge: a mind-expanding drug

by Nikki Logan

Being a writer can be at once mind-expanding and mind-limiting. Our imaginations get to run totally rampant (no idea too crazy!), but our real worlds can easily shrink if we don’t take care. They shrink to about the size of our writing spaces. Or maybe the path between our writing space, the kettle and the bathroom J

In an attempt to force my world back out, I’m undertaking a year-long marathon of ‘Something New Every Day’. I’ve signed up to a range of university lecture-series with GreatCourses and do one every day (and then I blog about some particularly interesting aspect over at my website simply because writing it down helps me lock it into my crowded brain).

I now have a new pile next to my TBR pile. I call it my TBL pile (to-be-learned) and here's a little glimpse:
BIG HISTORY - a fascinating big-picture view from the moment of the ‘big bang’ through 14billion years of the creation of space, suns, planets, earth and the (comparative) 5 minutes of mammals and the 12 seconds of human history. And then onwards to look ahead 1000 years and then to the eventual end of our planet. Just the most AWESOME course. And presented by an Aussie. Yay.
MEDIEVAL ENGLAND - the 1000year history of England spanning from the fifth-century to the fifteenth. A really fascinating time of endless wars and invasions and death and misery, but also the time when our language and legal system and social systems were founded.

GREAT WORLD RELIGIONS - crash courses in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Because I’ve always been interested in what these essential faiths have in common at their core and (particularly in light of BIG HISTORY) how they might have evolved from some common faith-based themes.
What else... *rummaging*

CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY - greeks, romans, Trojans, Spartans, gods, goddesses, mythical archetypes, how the myths were woven into contemporary societies…. Awesome! Looking forward to this one so much.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WORLD - Because I’ve heard so much about this as a book. Will get into some of the detail that BIG HISTORY had to gloss over.

Every course at GreatCourses goes on significant sale at some point each year so don't gasp at the regular prices. Just will come round on sale soon. I don't think I paid more than $60 for any one of the above. That makes my my year's worth of learning excellent value as well as easily managable.
The knowledge has already come in handy in two of my books, for background or interesting historical aspects to settings or character enriching.
And I'm loving expanding my mind externally as well as internally. When I'm done there'll be nothing I don't  know. Nothing! Bwahaahahaaa *maniacal laugh*
Go ahead...ask me anything :)

May 27, 2012

Sunday Smooch . . .

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Destiny Of The Light by Louise Cusack, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Sara! Can you please contact Annie West at

Annie (at) Annie-West (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of Undone By His Touch.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Destiny Of The Light by Louise Cusack ...

Ennae is a parallel world joined to our own world by the Sacred Pool, a portal that can only be opened by one with the Guardian blood running through their veins. It is through this watery gateway that Khatrene leaves her modern-day life behind forever, drawn into a quest that will take her into the depths of the unknown.

Khatrene must fulfil her destiny as The Light, the woman whose child will unite the four elemental worlds. At each turn are real and imagined enemies who will do everything in their power to prevent her from fulfilling the prophecy, including the ethereal and erotic shadow woman, the enigmatic tattooed man, even her beloved brother Mihale. Talis, her appointed Guardian, must help her through the dangerous terrain of Ennae, sacrificing everything to ensure her safety in a land where magic prevails and nothing is as it seems.

[Set-up - Talis has been in love with Khatrene since the moment she reappeared on Ennae, but she has been busy discovering she is The Light that legend foretold, reuniting with her brother, and falling pregnant to The Dark who tricked her into marrying him.  It is only when Talis realises he must rescue her from her own husband’s cruelty that he admits his love, and Khatrene doesn’t have time to react beyond saying that she’d never thought of him that way.  They are now reunited for the first time since she fled her husband, and as Talis lies beside her in a rough Plainsman shelter they awkwardly discuss his revelation of love] 

By her expression Talis wondered if she had forgotten the child she bore. The child which linked her to the husband she had fled. Yet instead of mentioning his name, she asked, ‘Does it worry you that I’m pregnant?’

 Talis shook his head. ‘I am not concerned about your health,’ he said, wondering if she doubted his power to minister to her. ‘I am a full Guardian and able to monitor the growth of the child –’

 ‘No. That’s not –’ She stopped, as though collecting her thoughts. ‘Another man’s baby is growing inside me. Does that affect. . . us?’

 Talis simply stared, her question lost in the back of his mind. Us. She had spoken of them as part of a whole. Such an upwelling of love came to him then that he found it hard to breathe.

 ‘You’re looking at me strangely again.’

 ‘It is love.’

 ‘So you’ve said.’ Her gaze moved over his face, settling finally on his lips. ‘Then I guess that answers my question.’ Talis watched her head drift nearer. ‘You know, there’s a step you take . . .’ she said faintly, as though her thoughts were  elsewhere. ‘ . . . between friendship, and –’

 ‘Love.’ How plump with promise the word now tasted on his lips.

She came closer still and Talis held his breath.

‘But I don’t want to confuse myself.’ A small frown of hesitation creased her brow. ‘I don’t want to confuse friendship and love –’

Talis could not stop the small movement that brought his lips to hers. Although he did that and nothing more, for she needed no further prompting to kiss him. Indeed, a faint sigh of satisfaction fled her lips as they met his, and what tormenting pleasure was in that touch.

The softness of her lips, the scent of her nearness and the sweetness of her breath created feelings in Talis, not of the foamy fantasies he’d constructed in his mind, but the deep-swelling surge of an ocean wave. Yet his hands lay by his sides and he made no move to overwhelm her with this rush of desire. Instead, he let her kiss him sweetly, a lingering kiss she seemed reluctant to end. Then she pulled back, and though Talis was sorely distracted by his own thundering heart, he did see in her eyes that she appeared bewildered, or perhaps dazed, and hope soared within him.

‘Well . . .’ She paused to lick her lips. ‘That “something more” feeling I was telling you about . . . it’s stronger now.’

 Talis could not help smiling. Joy lit a bonfire in his heart.

To be in the draw to win an eBook copy of Destiny Of The Light leave a comment - Do you think a first kiss is the most memorable?

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!

May 25, 2012

To where do you retreat?!

Everyone has one, right? (Tell me I'm not alone in this) - a favourite place to go to to relax, recharge, just get away... and dream.

Last weekend I went to my favourite 'retreat' - Hanmer Springs. It is about a ninety minute drive from my town - it is inland and north. Hanmer is a little alpine style village that's frosty and pretty and nestled next to a beautiful river and mountains. But the absolute draw card?!

Thermal Springs.

I ADORE hot pools. There is nothing like sitting outside in lovely warm water on a cold, cold day. I find it relaxing and inspiring. There's a raft of info out there on the benefits of water and creativity (something to do with negative ions I think) - anyway, that's another blog topic. Suffice to say for me, going there gives me a creative boost and a mental break.

I've been going to Hanmer since I was a kid (it was and still is a destination for school camps!), and my best friend's parents have a holiday home up there that they so generously let us use :)

I've been there in the hottest days of summer (when we all just about got sunstroke waiting in the line to go down the SuperBowl) and have stood in the hottest of the pools while snow flurries swirled down and collected in our hair and eyelashes.

The Aquaplay land that the kids
and I spend hours on.
I'm a total hydroslide junkie. 
In winter there's the sheer hell of dashing (not running!) on the concrete to get from changing room to the nearest pool - and the total tingle of the toes as you enter that hot water. The return dash is more painful though! I always think the worst thing about swimming is getting dressed again afterwards. I once had the great fortune to go to Iceland - in winter - and they have the most amazing thermal pools there too - including the famous 'blue lagoon' (it has a mineral rich mud that apparently will make your zits go away). There was no cold concrete dash there, you could enter the warm water from INSIDE the changing facility and walk/swim through a tunnel thing to get outside - very smart!

Hanmer has a spa facility of course and over the last twenty years or so has gotten a number more cafes and restaurants (there only used to be the 'Hastie Tastie') - but it still only has a permanent population of around 800. And yes, I've used it in a book - in UNBUTTONED BY HER MAVERICK BOSS (or REBEL WITH A CAUSE in the US) Lorenzo takes Sophy there to escape so she can FOCUS ON HER WORK (art imitating life there) -- and they may or may not have had an intimate moment in one of those private pools...

Anyway this weekend, much to my children's HORROR, I  went without them and took two writing buddies instead.  Sweet author Soraya Lane and Desire author Tessa Radley. We plotted, wrote and ate (not necessarily in that order). I think the people near us in the pool must have wondered about our lives when Tessa and I talked devious twists in our prospective stories... It was just brilliant - we hunched over our laptops during the day, in three armchairs pulled up to the logburner, pausing for plotting breaks, sugar breaks, caffeine breaks... and of course pool breaks.

We're going again in a few months and I can't wait. (Though the kids, hubby and I are heading back there in the next school holidays too! I'd get ousted from the nest if I went without them again in the near future!!!).

So have you got a favourite place that you like to retreat to!?!? Or a dream one?! What about thermal pools - do they float your boat like they do mine?! I've love to know!

May 23, 2012

Judging a book by its cover

by Emmie Dark

I recently bought a book absolutely wholly and solely because of the cover. In my defence, it was very pretty. I went to an online cover competition to vote for a friend's book and saw it there. The cover just called to me, and a minute later I was looking it up online. All I found out was that it was a paranormal YA romance -- not at all my usual thing -- and before I knew it, I placed an order with Book Depository.

I wanted to own it, just based on the cover. I've received it and read it now, and I'm pleased to say that the words inside actually did live up to the cover! It was a great story and I'm glad I'd bought it.

Die for Me
I suppose I should share it. Here you go, this is Die for Me, by Amy Plum. It's a fantastic book for older YA readers (or grown ups!).

It doesn't take much to make me buy a book (as my credit card statements will attest!) but it's not usual for me to buy something just based on the cover. In fact I buy a lot of e-books, and books that I've read reviews for, or just heard about by word of mouth on Facebook or similar, and for many of them I don't think I've even looked at the cover! So what was it about this one that intrigued me?

It's a few things. Paris, for one. One of my favourite cities. I have a little Eiffel Tower sitting next to me on my desk right now, and a calendar of vintage French travel posters on the wall. Set something in Paris, and you've already half-won me over.

The red dress, for another. I love the idea of a glamorous red dress like that. One day I will have to attend the Oscars so I can wear one! It speaks of power and fun and adventure and fairy tales. (As a side note, have you heard about "The Travelling Red Dress" project by The Bloggess? It's amazing. And it's all about not waiting for an invitation to the Oscars in order to wear a dress like that.)

And the black squiggly things. I don't know why I like them but I do. I don't think I'd ever be brave enough to get a tattoo in real life, but I'm always intrigued by other people's, especially when they're beautifully drawn black lines. And if I ever did, then it would be something like those pretty swirls and winding vines and leaves. In fact, when I draw doodles in the margins of notebooks, they tend to look something like that (although not nearly as pretty).

So for me, the reasons I like that cover are all incredibly personal. There will be plenty of people out there who don't like it, who have an objection to red dresses for some reason, who encountered a rude Frenchman on their trip to Paris and have less than fond memories of the city. For those people, this book won't be appealing on any of the same grounds as it was for me.

Covers are so subjective. Like any kind of art, I suppose -- beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. And in these days of ebooks, I wonder if covers are as important as they used to be? We've heard about the demise of album art in music now -- I wonder if book covers will go a similar way?

Pre-order at Amazon
While on the subject of covers, I can't finish without a shameless self-promotional plug for "In His Eyes" my new SuperRomance, which comes out in August in North America. I just received a copy of the cover for it a couple of weeks ago -- and how gorgeous is it??

I feel I have been blessed by the cover fairies (or just the Art Department at Harlequin -- thanks guys!). My cover for Cassie's Grand Plan was beautiful, and when I got to see it on the shelves in the US, the bright ocean and blue, blue sky made it stand out and it really drew the eye. (It wasn't just me -- other people said the same thing!) In His Eyes is set in a fictional winery area outside of Melbourne and my hero and heroine have competing vineyards and a complicated history. I just love the dark tones and sense of drama in this cover -- it's totally appropriate to the story. I hope you'll agree when you get a chance to read it. :)

Do you think book covers are less important these days? Have you ever bought a book just because of its cover?

May 21, 2012

The World Inside my Head

As a newly published author one of the most common questions I’m asked is…what inspires you? So, as I’m a new cat on the block, I thought I’d introduce myself by letting you in on a few of my secrets, what inspires me and just what is going on with my brain cells?

WARNING: You may not want to know what’s inside my head –it’s not always pretty! Proceed with caution!

Waipu Township
Places  I love to travel, I’ve been very lucky and visited quite a few places on my bucket list, but there are tons more places I’m burning to see. I aim to use some of those locations in the settings of my stories- but it’s early days, and so far I’ve used the real place Waipu in Northland as my jumping off point for creating fictional towns North Beach and Atanga Bay in books 1,2 and 3. 

Waipu Cove Beach
But in book 4 (currently unfinished), we visit real cities –Auckland and Rotorua here in New Zealand. It’s fun making up your own places, you can decide what’s there, how it looks etc- but it’s also great to use actual places so that readers can visualize exactly where your characters are. I’m planning book 5 and itching to use more glamorous places- London, Paris, Sydney, possibly LA.

People  At first, when creating my characters I used to trawl through websites and find pictures of glamorous people to help inspire me. That’s great for the exterior image- who wouldn’t love the adorable Paul Sculfer or cute Natalie Portman (both inspirations for my The War-Hero’s Locked-Away Heart book)? 

Paul Sculfor- source BangShowbiz
The real essence of my characters comes from people I know- the inner strength they have  when faced with adversity, or people I read about. Recently I read Katie Piper’s story- OMG, what a brave and strong woman – such courage. I’ve also spent 22 years working as a nurse and know first hand what both sick people and medical professionals have to go through every day. Dedication and professionalism, humility, vulnerability, grim determination…

some of my current faves
Food As the owner of over 85 cookbooks I hold my hand up and say I LOVE FOOD! (My first ever writing gig was creating recipes for an organic veggie delivery service in Manchester, UK). So food rates pretty high on my must-have list for my stories. In each of my books I try to match appropriate food with characters- it’s a fun thing to do- and what’s nicer than having the hero cook for the heroine? My most recent cookbook purchase is Marian Keye’s Saved by Cake- which I bought not just for the recipes (and I need all the help I can get with baking) – but also for the story of her recovery from mental illness. I love food of all kinds- although, (dare I admit this?) I’m not a huge fan of ice-cream…

Passion By this I don’t just mean high sensuality rating- although I do love a good HOT book! I mean- belief in something so strongly that you would do anything to achieve it. As a budding writer I made my craft and aspiration my passion (although I do have others too – on a frivolous level I couldn’t live without Zumba, but on a more serious note I’m a passionate proud member of Amnesty International). I tend to create characters who have a passion for SOMETHING. In my first book One Month to Become a Mum my heroine’s passion was for helping underprivileged kids. In Waking Up with His Runaway Bride, Mim’s passion was keeping her GP practice open, despite the odds, in remembrance of her mother. And in The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart, Skye’s passion was to travel. I just love someone with burning ambition or dedication to a cause, it adds an extra dimension to their character- what do they have to do to achieve their dream? How can I, as a writer, make it difficult for them? (Mwahahaha…)

So, that’s a bit about me, and some of what makes me tick. I’m very pleased to meet you all – tell me, what inspires you? What are you passionate about? Do you love food too –any cookbook recommendations?

I have a signed copy of One Month to Become a Mum to give away to one commenter.

May 20, 2012

Sunday Smooch . . .

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Undone By His Touch by Annie West, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Kaelee! Can you please contact Michelle Douglas at

michelle (at) michelle-douglas (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of The Man Who Saw Her beauty.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Undone By His Touch by Annie West ...

Cast into a world of black, Declan Carstairs is a man in torment. Consumed by guilt, he sees no way out of the darkness his world has become. Only one thing drives him – finding the woman who caused his brother’s death, and the accident that took his sight.

Housekeeper Chloe Daniels refuses to pity her devastatingly gorgeous boss, but treating him as the strong, capable man he is soon proves dangerous. As Chloe falls deeper under Declan’s spell, awakened by his touch, she forgets all about the secret she keeps that may destroy them both…

[Set-up - Declan, blinded in a recent accident, asks Chloe, his housekeeper to help him shave. has been building between them for weeks. He's sitting on a stool in the bathroom while she stands before him. She's just told him his scars aren't as awful as he thinks and, seeing his furious reaction, dropped the razor in the sink.]

He yanked her hand to his face.

A tremor hit her as he pressed her finger on the damaged flesh so she felt the ridge of healed tissue. But her overwhelming impression was of heat and excitement – an illicit thrill that skirled in her abdomen, clenching muscles.

Slowly, oh so slowly, he dragged her hand down, her fingers to the scar, her hand dwarfed by his.

Through the shaving cream, centimetre by centimetre the skin to skin contact continued. It was a punishment, a challenge, yet to Chloe it had the force of a caress. Potent, provocative, drawing out hidden longings and exposing them, raw and unvarnished, to the light of day.

His warm skin scent was inside her, his heat infused hers. The prison of his long legs evoked a delicious, terrible thrill she fought and failed to conquer.

Now her hand was beside his mouth, pressed there, feeling the supple skin stretch as he spoke.

‘You have the gall to call that character?’

She opened her mouth but before she could speak he dragged her hand away.

‘Or this?’ He slammed her hand, palm down on his thigh, right up near his hip.

Chloe’s heart galloped high in her chest as she looked at her fingers splayed under his, moulding the wide muscle of his upper leg. Her breath came in raw, shallow gasps at the intensity of the contact.

His fury. His frustration. Her regret and sorrow and still, through it all, the unrepentant hum of sexual energy that furred her nape and drew her breasts tight and full and heavy.

Under his guidance her hand slid down over soft denim that covered hot flesh and uneven scar tissue.

‘What would you call that, Chloe?’ The jeering note had faded from his voice, replaced by a weariness that betrayed the effort it took to face the world as if it was his for the taking.

Now, feeling the tremors running through his thigh, the fierce clench of his hand, she glimpsed what it cost him to appear in control.

Her heart missed a beat as another protective layer crumbled. Soon there’d be nothing left to keep her safe.

‘Well, Chloe?’ His voice dropped low, reverberating through her. ‘Is that full of character too? Should I be grateful for the accident that blinded me?’

‘Maybe it sounds trite, but there are lots of people worse off than you.’

‘You’re right,’ he snapped. ‘It does sound trite.’

‘I’m sorry.’ Not for speaking the truth, but that he obviously wasn’t ready to hear it.

His sightless eyes glittered with barely leashed emotion.

‘Do you have any idea how infuriating it is to be lectured about looking on the bright side? About how lucky I am? To have false hope of recovery held out like a holy grail?’

‘No.’ She stood stiffly.

‘No.’ His expression was grim. ‘How could you?’

Abruptly he stood. Still, he held her hand and she wondered if he’d forgotten it.

But then, with unerring accuracy, he lifted their joined hands to her cheek. Together they stroked the contour of her cheekbone and her skin came alive at the incredible intimacy of their joined touch.

‘You’re whole,’ he said, so low it was like a vibration rather than a sound. ‘Your life hasn’t turned upside down so that everything you took for granted, everything, is now exponentially more difficult if not downright impossible.’

Their hands traced down to the corner of her mouth and a ripple of awareness took her by surprise.

‘You’re not dogged by regret over what you couldn’t do, that you failed the one person who above all relied on you.’

Suddenly he loosened his hold and let her hand fall. It tingled as blood rushed back.

His tall frame crowded her into the corner, making her acutely aware of how her wayward body responded to him. Even tipping her head up to look into his face shot a tiny thrill through her.

His hand settled on her face, fingers spreading to mould her jaw.

Chloe sucked in a startled breath as he slid his hand over her, cupping her chin and circling her cheek almost as if he could picture her face through touch.

Each stroke reinforced the urgent, eager need for more. It was all she could do to stand still, not tilt her head into his hand.

‘How old are you, Chloe Daniels?’ His voice hit that low, rich note that made something curl inside her.

‘Twenty seven.’ She straightened and tilted her chin higher, only to find his hand dropping to her throat as if she’d invited his feather light caress there.

Whorls of lazy heat eddied at his touch and her head eased back.

She gulped, desperately trying to regain her composure. ‘How old are you?’

Long fingers stroked her lips, cajoling her into silence.

‘Thirty four.’ His head tipped towards her as if, even blind, it was important that he look her in the eyes.

‘Thirty four, blind and scarred. Not the man I was.’

His voice was an indictment, as if he saw himself as less a man than before.

He leaned towards her and her breath caught.

‘And you, Chloe, are smooth and young and unscarred.’ He paused while his hand traced her pedestrian nose and returned with heart-stopping intent to her mouth. Her lips felt swollen and pulsing, as if waiting for more than the touch of his hand.

Fire sparked in her veins and she found herself straining towards him.

‘You’re whole,’ he murmured, ‘and I’m…’

He shook his head, his mouth grim, even as he framed her face with his fingers, letting them slide through her hair. Tremulous delight filled her at his gentle massaging pressure.

Then, with an abruptness that floored her, his hands dropped and he stepped back, his shoulders stiff, his face a forbidding mask not even the smear of shaving cream could humanise.

‘I don’t want you here.’

The statement, so simple, so unambiguous, stuck in her dazed mind as if he spoke a foreign tongue.

When she didn’t move his brow pleated in a ferocious scowl. His hands curled into tight fists.

‘Get out of here, Chloe.’ Words spat from him like bullets. ‘Now!’

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Undone By His Touch leave a comment to this question - Do you think a non-kiss can be as intense and an actual smooch in a romance? Can you think of any examples from books you enjoy?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Destiny Of The Light by Louise Cusack will be posted!

May 19, 2012

Party Prize Pack Winners!

Thanks to everyone who came to help us welcome the newest cats on the block, Barbara DeLeo and Louisa George! 

And now it's time to announce the winners of the prize packs:

Prize Pack 1 
Bachelor Dad, Girl Next Door, Sharon Archer
Girl in the Bedouin Tent, Annie West 
Made for Marriage, Helen Lacey 
One Month To Become A Mum, Louisa George
Secrets and Speed Dating, Leah Ashton 
Strictly Temporary, Robyn Grady 
The Dangers of Dating Your Boss, Sue Mackay 
The Secretary's Secret, Michelle Douglas 
What Happens in Charleston, Rachel Bailey 
Prize Pack 1 goes to Na! Na, email me: rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com and I'll organize them for you.

Prize Pack 2 
Bachelor Dad, Girl Next Door, Sharon Archer
Girl in the Bedouin Tent, Annie West 
Made for Marriage, Helen Lacey 
One Month To Become A Mum, Louisa George
Secrets and Speed Dating, Leah Ashton 
Strictly Temporary, Robyn Grady 
The Dangers of Dating Your Boss, Sue Mackay 
The Man Who Saw Her Beauty, Michelle Douglas 
What Happens in Charleston, Rachel Bailey

Prize Pack 2 goes to Jo Fereday! Jo, email me at the above address and I'll get your pack organized as well.
Congratulations, Na and Jo, and thanks again to everyone who came out to welcome Louisa and Barbara. Paws in the air! :) 

May 18, 2012

Four Legged Friends Of The Feline Variety . . . By Helen Lacey

It’s no secret that I am an animal lover . . . or nutcase as I have been called by my family over the years. I travelled a lot as a child and didn’t have the opportunity to have a pet of my own. My ‘pets’ were Lassie, Black Beauty, The Silver Brumby, My Friend Flicka and Buck from Call of The Wild. I loved these stories and the animal characters spoke to my eight year old imagination. When I was eleven, my parents stopped their travelling ways and we settled down so I could start high school.

 It meant one thing to me. A dog. I could finally have a dog. And we did. Not the cute puppy I’d imagined though . . . a nine month old black Great Dane called Bruno who grew into an 85kg giant. And he was the start of my animal collection. I had always been pony mad, so a horse came next. And another dog. And another horse. And yet more dogs as some passed away and new ones came into my life. There was a duck called Doc and a cockatoo called Sam. Then came Nanoo – a goat. Which quickly turned into three goats when she unexpectedly had twins. It wasn't long before three turned into twelve (Goats don’t understand birth control, I discovered).

Fast forward many years and I married a man who has indulged my love for anything with four legs and a tail. Eight horses, three dogs, three birds and a house cow named Ginger would, you might think, be enough for even the most ardent animal enthusiast. Now, I have been parading as a LoveCat for a while . . . but the truth is we were a feline free family. I snuck under the radar here as someone without a cat. When other LoveCats would blog about their kitty’s I would shrink down the keyboard and hope it wasn't noticed that I was here under false pretences. But then along came Oscar.
Three weeks ago Oscar needed a home, and I suddenly was the owner of the most amazing cat ever. Here he is, awake and clearly king of the world. His other usual pose is being asleep on the bed (terrible, I know). Now, the three dogs are not so convinced a cat is a great idea, particularly since he is inside, and they are outside. And my indoor parrot, Curly, doesn’t talk quite as much as he used to J

I’ve never been what you would call a ‘cat person’. Dogs and horses were my thing. I always considered cats aloof and disinterested in human interaction. But not now. My new Ragdoll has become a firm friend. He plays, he purrs, he loves attention. And he’s got me thinking about how some pets come into our lives and make a big impression, and how quickly they adapt to their new surroundings when they are happy and relaxed.

 Do you think that some pets touch our heart more than others? Have you ever owned a pet you never imagined would fit in with your family, but somehow has? Or what about owning an unusual pet? And snake or alpaca lovers out there?
So, now there’s no more slinking down the keyboard. I . . . a horsey girl through and through . . . have a cat, and he already a legend.

May 15, 2012

Welcome Party - Two New Cats!

Louisa George
The LoveCats are in party mode! Grab a cup of catnip punch, get comfy in the groovy chairs and settle in to the strains of ABBA (being played by Cat Michelle – don’t worry, we’ll get Elvis going when we can wrestle the remote away). 

Everyone ready? It’s time to give a great big Cat cheer to *two* new Cats! We’re beside ourselves with glee to be welcoming Louisa George and Barbara DeLeo into the pride. Paws in the air! 

Barbara DeLeo
Louisa writes for Harlequin Medical, and Barbara writes for Entangled’s Indulgence. Both are from New Zealand, are gorgeous and two of the loveliest people you’ll meet (I should know – I’ve met them both for early breakfasts where I was barely awake or able to form coherent sentences, and they were *still* lovely). 

More details, I hear you ask? Well, let me oblige! I’ve asked some very pertinent questions to help you get to know them a little better. 

Who is your Catwalk Candidate? 

Barbara: That would be Cosmo the black Miniature Schnauzer. Well, she's not really black, she's gold plated on account of the number of visits to the vet she's had. It's not that she's had puppy illnesses or that we're over protective, it's that Cosmo will eat anything. This includes: two blocks of Lindt dark chocolate (one mint flavoured, one passionfruit and including the foil and cardboard packaging), two rubber lizards and a sewing needle which made the journey all the way through her with the cotton still attached. 

Louisa: How could I choose between my two? 

Behold, Tana- Master of The Universe. Named after one of the best rugby players of all time, All Black Tana Umanga. 

I, All-black cat Tana rule the roost- the neighbourhood, indeed, the Universe. I am beautiful. I am stupendous. I am purrfect. See- I can even walk on water. I am also mysterious and elusive. (And love playing hard to get- hence the distance shot…I don’t do close-ups). 

And Spencer- Mum says I’m seriously lacking in smarts. But I think smarts are overrated! I mean- I play all day, and do a lot of sleeping, she works hard and gives me food- who’s the smarter one now? My favourite activity? Licking my daddy’s head. 

Even though you're now a Cat, if you could be any mythological creature, which one would you be? 

Louisa's Tana
Barbara: Definitely a unicorn. Apart from the fact that they always remind me of romance and handsome princes, when I was young I had a grey pony called Denny and I could have sworn there was a spot on his forehead where a horn used to be... 

Louisa: I asked my son (who actually wants to be a mythologist when he grows up) and his immediate reaction was Medusa (yep- feeling the love there!). There’s something particularly discomforting when your 14 year old son thinks you’re like an evil snake-headed witch who can turn you to stone with a stare. 
Louisa's Spencer

Personally, I’d prefer to think of myself as something more ethereal or beneficent, and just a little bit nicer than Medusa. So I would be Pegasus, the flying horse. Pegasus was Poseidon and Medusa’s offspring- and amongst other things he was the horse of the muses –wherever he struck a hoof an inspiring well would spring up. (My muse can do with all the help she can get!) 

What was the first category book you read? 

Barb's Cosmo
Barbara: It was a Liz Fielding. I've forgotten the name of it but the heroine was a dog walker and the hero was sick in bed. I fell in love with everything about category romance from the first page. I was a new mum and the bliss of being transported into a world of romance was indescribable. 

Louisa: Earthquake Baby by Amy Andrews. It blew me away. I’d never read a category romance until 6 years ago and then I discovered a whole new fabulous world. 

What was the last category book you read that you loved? 

Barbara: At the moment I'm reading The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst. Jennifer's had phenomenal success with this book and it's easy to see why. 
Louisa: The Nurse’s Not So Secret Scandal by Wendy S Marcus. A totally different, boundary breaking Medical Romance. 

What's something we wouldn't know about you? 

Barbara: I had four children in two and a half years - identical twin girls followed by fraternal twin boys. Those first few years were a haze of nappies and feeding and hot, blind panic, but now that those four are aged 11 and 8 things are slightly more "normal"! 

Louisa: I studied ballet for 17 years. Not that you’d believe it if you saw me hunched over a computer keyboard for 8 hours a day. :)

To celebrate, we’re giving away two fabulous prize packs of books and all you have to do is leave a comment to be in the draw! 

Prize Pack 1 
Bachelor Dad, Girl Next Door, Sharon Archer
Girl in the Bedouin Tent, Annie West 
Made for Marriage, Helen Lacey 
One Month To Become A Mum, Louisa George
Secrets and Speed Dating, Leah Ashton 
Strictly Temporary, Robyn Grady 
The Dangers of Dating Your Boss, Sue Mackay 
The Secretary's Secret, Michelle Douglas 
What Happens in Charleston, Rachel Bailey 

Prize Pack 2 
Bachelor Dad, Girl Next Door, Sharon Archer
Girl in the Bedouin Tent, Annie West 
Made for Marriage, Helen Lacey 
One Month To Become A Mum, Louisa George
Secrets and Speed Dating, Leah Ashton 
Strictly Temporary, Robyn Grady 
The Dangers of Dating Your Boss, Sue Mackay 
The Man Who Saw Her Beauty, Michelle Douglas 
What Happens in Charleston, Rachel Bailey 

Okay, over to you. Take another glass of catnip punch, see if you can drag Cat Michelle away from the music controls, and, if you'd like, tell us the answer to one of the questions the new Cats answered. We'd love to know more about you too!

May 14, 2012

So long, farewell…

By Anna Hackett

I was thrilled when I was invited to join the LoveCats DownUnder.  As a new Aussie category author, getting to “hang” with other Aussie Harlequin authors and readers who love category was amazing.
I’ve learned things I never knew – my Regency slang has never been better!  I’ve laughed, smiled and even shed a tear or two.  I’ve watched fabulous Cats go and wonderful new Cats arrive.  I became a mum while being a Cat and shared some snippets of my little man’s journey (he’s now toddling around the house at top speed).  I’ve enjoyed the responses from all the readers and writers who visit the blog.

A little while ago, my line Nocturne Bites morphed into Nocturne Cravings and I decided it was time to venture off and try some new things in writing land.  That means the time has come for me to retire from the LoveCats.  Sniffle, sniffle.
I want to thank all the wonderful LoveCats for their positive, supportive attitudes.  I’d like to wish the newest Cats well…you’ll love it here.  And to all the readers, thanks for always stopping by and sharing your thoughts. 

I may be saying goodbye, but I won’t completely disappear.  I promise to drop by for a visit and maybe the odd guest blog or smooch.
Au revoir, adieu.

May 13, 2012

Sunday Smooch!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Man Who Saw Her Beauty by Michelle Douglas, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is – Ella A!

Congratulations, Ella! Can you please contact Natalie at natalie (at) natalie-anderson (dot) com and she'll send you a copy of First Time Lucky.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Man Who Saw Her Beauty by Michelle Douglas ...

Blair Macintyre's daily routine: put on a brave face, and try not to be so distracted by unnervingly gorgeous Nick Conway...

All Blair wants is to be normal. To be the Blair B.C. -- before cancer. She's determined to show her friends she's okay...even if it means bluffing.

There's only one person who doesn't treat her with kid gloves. In fact, Nick Conway doesn't treat her with any gloves whatsoever--especially when saying exactly what he thinks of her helping his daughter in a beauty pageant!

Soon Nick is getting under Blair's skin--and defences. Maybe he's the one to show her she's just as beautiful as before.

[Blair and Nick have developed a tentative friendship. In this scene they're on a picnic, but the rest of their picnic companions have gone for a bush walk...leaving them alone.]

She glanced up...and drowned in the sight and scent of her picnic companion, at the expression in the warm brown depths of his eyes—sympathy, understanding, hunger. The pulse at the base of his jaw pounded. She watched that pulse, counted the beats, felt her own body quicken in answer and fall into tempo with it.
Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Surely he must hear it?
The expression in his eyes heated her flesh. The heat started in her neck, her cheeks, and then flashed down through the rest of her body, stealing her strength. Even though she'd promised herself that the warmth would not beguile her.
But the heat cascading though her now was like nothing she'd ever experienced, and Nick smelled of sun-warmed grasses and soap and cotton and it made her forget bad things. It made her remember she was only thirty-six.
He leaned closer, slugging her anew with his scent and his heat. She could see a tiny nick on his chin where he must have cut himself shaving this morning. And still the pulse in his jaw pounded. His eyes darkened. His gaze dropped to her lips. Her breath caught and her lips parted the merest fraction. The merest fraction, perhaps, but he noticed.
His gaze lifted back to hers, his eyes dark and fiery. 'I'm going to kiss you city girl.'
He wrapped a finger around a lock of her hair and she didn't even flinch.
'Why?' She reached up to press the flat of her palm against his cheek.
'Because you're beautiful.'
Not any more she wasn't. Even if his eyes told her otherwise. She moved her hand experimentally. Beneath her hand his skin was firm and hot. Her fingers prickled with the urge to explore further.
'And because I like you.'
Her mouth dropped open.
'And because I can't get the thought of it out of my head.'
Pity, she told herself as his lips swooped down to hers. This was a pity kiss.
And then all thought fled, because this was no tentative I-might-hurt-her kind of kiss. It was strong and sure and hungry, and it demanded that she take part or back off now. The strength of his passion knocked her preconceptions sideways. She hadn't meant this to go beyond a brief touch of the lips. But...
There were no kid gloves as he cupped her face with both his hands to drag her lips more fully against his, as his tongue swept across hers, daring her to dance and revel and enjoy. This was straight man-and-woman passion. No hiding, no games...and no pity. It was so heady and so liberating that Blair found herself kissing him back with a fervour she hadn't known she had.
She shuffled closer to him on her knees. Her hands crept around either side of his neck, revelling in the strong column of his throat. The short hair at his nape tantalised her palms. Her hunger built and built and he matched it, kiss for kiss, caress for caress, until she found herself needing to get closer and closer. She crawled right into his lap, straddling it. His hands caressed her backside as their bodies strained against the barriers of their clothes towards each other until there was barely an inch of space between them. And not once did they break the kiss.
Finally she had to drag her mouth away to draw much-needed air into oxygen-starved lungs. Nick pressed slow, drugging kisses to her neck, and she couldn't hold back a moan or the wanton way her body arched against his mouth.
It was magic, like Sleeping Beauty coming to life at her Prince's kiss. And she wanted more!
And then something wrong, out of place, made her still...
She realised what it was—her prosthesis. An alien and ugly thing, pressing against Nick's chest and her even uglier scar.
Blair flung herself off Nick's lap, unable to meet his eye as she readjusted her clothes with fingers that shook.
'What the hell...?'
'That shouldn't have happened.'

The Man Who Saw Her Beauty is out now in North America and will be released in Aust/NZ in June.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of The Man Who Saw Her Beauty, have you ever had a memorable picnic experience, or do you prefer 5 star dining?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Undone By His Touch by Annie West will be posted!