Jul 31, 2012

Winner of Emmie's giveaway

Last week Emmie offered copies of Cassie's Grand Plan and In His Eyes for one lucky commenter.
And the winner is: 


Congratulations Marybelle! Send your mailing details to emmie(at)emmiedark.com to claim your prize!

Jul 29, 2012

Winter Deadlines with Sue MacKay

Yippee. August arrives on Wednesday. Then winter will be on a deadline.
One more month and it's banished, replaced by spring. The rain, frosts, and cold wind will magically disappear and the daffodils and lambs will appear. I'm a dreamer, I know. But I'll soon be able to get my bike out and pump up the tyres - and put it back in the shed because I don't feel like stretching those dormant muscles. I tend to stay off the roads throughout winter as they're slippery, and I'm not keen on crashing.

August also means I get to start a  new story. And this time I'm writing a duet with Louisa George. We're both quite excited about this. Well, we will be once we've ironed out some plot issues. It's going to be interesting working together but we know each other's writing well.

I have just sent in my 8th book to my editor for a 31st July deadline so I'm free for a week or two to do all the other things that have been piling up - in corners, under the desk and outside in the garden.

Best of all about August is that it's conference time. I'm heading over the ditch to Surfer's Paradise for the Australian Romance Writers' conference where I hope to catch up with many writing friends. This is always a big, vibrant conference with so much going on it's hard to keep up. Then there's the cocktail party and the awards dinner where we all get glammed up.

Then the following week I'm off to Auckland for the New Zealand Romance Writers' conference. I'll be exhausted by the time I get back home. Conferences are important to writers. It's where we get to meet other like-minded people who spend so much time working alone.
We also get to talk so much it's a wonder any of us have a voice left by Sunday night.

Photo - Louisa George and myself at the Harlequin dinner last year in Melbourne where Louisa won the singing chicken. One of those little quirky things that happens at these events.

Has anyone else got exciting things to look forward to in the coming month? I'd love to hear from you and put your name in a drawer for a copy of Every Boy's Dream Dad.

Sunday Smooch with Sue Mackay .......

Welcome to another Sunday Smooch .....

This week we have a fabulous smooch from Every Boy's Dream Dad by Sue Mackay .....

But first, the winner of last weeks smooch is Marybelle! Congratulations Marybelle - please contact Cathryn Hein on cathrynhein (at) gmail (dot) com and she will send you a copy of Heart of the Valley!

And now, Every Boy's Dream Dad by Sue Mackay .....

Two years ago my DB and I went to a wedding in Rarotonga and had a fabulous time. As a place that many couples go for their weddings I knew I had to write a story set there. Hence Every Boy's Dream Dad.

Here's a picture of 'Wilson', the coconut that accompanied our group on all our outings.

Premise: Since her husband's death in a dangerous police raid, another hero is the last thing Dr Rachel Simmonds wants...until she meets gorgeous local cop Ben Armstrong. He's the father figure her adorable little boy Rily desperately needs-and the lover she yearns for. Can Rachel's fragile heart withstand getting close to another man who does danger for a living?

Lead in: Rachel and Ben have been dancing around each other for days,trying desperately to ignore the fierce attraction for each other. Today Rachel's held her first well health clinic for the local women, and discovered what she suspects is a cancer in one of the women. Ben suggests that since her son is with friends they go into town for a drink and a meal, adult time.

Click for more info on Every Boy's Dream Dad'You're asking me out?' Rachel swallowed, 'Oh, okay.'
Ben chuckled, low and sexily. 'Should I take that as a yes, then?'

'I'll change into something more appropriate.' A knee-length skirt and a sleeveless shirt that barely touched her midriff was fine for sitting on her deck but not for a date. A date. With Ben. What was that word? Wow. That's it. Wow.

'No need. This is Rarotanga, capital of casual.'

'I'll close up the house.' Before I come up with a hundred reasons why this could be a mistake.

Ben leaned in and placed his lips on hers. 'What's the sudden hurry?' he murmured into her mouth. Then before she could think of anything to say his hands took her shoulders to gently bring her closer to his body. His lips pressed harder against hers, and his tongue sought entrance to her mouth.

Rachel swayed into his kiss and embrace, and she kissed him back with all the intensity of the need for this man that had been building up since that first night when she'd opened her front door to find him standing there. She'd been denying her need for ages, and now she couldn't pretend she didn't want him. Heck, he tasted good. And could he kiss. A kiss that made every nerve ending spark alive, every sensory fibre in her body beg for more. A kiss that hopefully would never end.
Greedily she pushed even closer. All the better to feel as many as possible of his well-developed muscles against her. His chest was hard against her breasts. His arms now tight around her back, holding her to him, holding her upright. Sliding her hands under his shirt, her fingers spread over his skin - feeling, enjoying, teasing that silken texture. Every one of her fingertops sent desire screaming back to her body, demanding more of Ben.

Slowy Ben's mouth left hers, his lips pulling away as though afraid to break contact. He didn't have to stop, damn it. Why had he? Reluctantly she looked up into his eyes, locked heated gazes. Her tongue slid across her bottom lip, and his eyes followed the movement. She stretched up onto her toes, intent on returning to kissing him.

A quick flick of his head and he stepped back one tiny step. 'Time to head into town. Let's not rush things. We've got all night ahead of us.'

All night? As in more kisses? As in making love? Rachel swallowed hard. She could do that. Now that she'd finally shared a kiss with Ben she most definitely did not want to stop at kissing.But he was right. They had all night.

Please leave a comment to go into the draw to win a copy of Every Boy's Dream Dad. And come back next Sunday for a smooch from Bargain In Bronze by Natalie Anderson.

Jul 27, 2012

Bring on the Show!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few weeks, you’ll be aware the Olympic Games start this weekend in London. There are ads and signs and references everywhere and even though we’re on the other side of the world from the action (in New Zealand), the excitement is beginning to mount. People are stocking up on caffeine and vitamins so they can watch the events all night and stagger through work during the day.

But we actually don’t have a telly in our house. Well, we do have a telly but it’s not plugged in to any kind of aerial or anything. We only use it to watch DVDs. There are a number of reasons for this—mainly, we don’t have time to get hooked into series TV. Also I can’t stand ads. Embarrassingly as well, I’ve been known to get stupidly addicted to soaps. I’d rather the kids spent their screen-time in a more interactive way (all hail the mighty computer) – or, even better, read a book or played some crazy imaginative game round the house (‘Magic Unicorns’ is the new fave for the twins. ‘War’ is the choice of the older two).

"Television" by Salvatore Vuono
Now I know there are so amazing shows out there that I don’t see. Occasionally we do go through an entire series of something by renting it from the DVD store (if I’ve heard really good things about it). It means we can watch without ads and without having to wait a whole week for the next episode. But mostly we watch movies. We’re the most regular customers at our local Blockbuster I think—hubs and I watch a few a week at least. I love movies—like to have the whole story told in a couple of hours. And the kids don’t miss out completely so aren’t socially ostracised ;), they watch DVDs too. All those fave shows are available and yay—no ads! But basically we’re really happy living in our TV-free zone

But of course, it’s the Olympics now and these really are pretty special. All my children are at primary school and they’re all doing projects on it. And given we do swimming and running and soccer etc, I think it’s great for the kids to see the elite in these sports. And they’re fun. So I said to the hubs, “we really need to be able to watch some of the Games” – and lovely hubs replied, “I’ll happily watch any of it but PLEASE don’t make me watch the (mumble mumble) Opening Ceremony!”

Now here is one of the few points on which Hubs and I are not aligned in perfect harmony ;)

"Clown in Parade" by Debspoons
I am a parades girl. If there’s a Santa Parade, a Spring Parade, any kind of Carnival, I’m there. Marching bands, clowns, pomp, circumstance, I want it all.

Hubster? Not so keen. Really not. Gets bored. Wants to move. Wants to do Something Else.

Can you believe that?! And it’s in London this year—we all know how well the Brits do Pomp and Ceremony!!! They’re the home of pageantry!!!! I so totally can’t wait to watch every minute of that opening ceremony!

And so it is that we’re off round the road to my mum-in-laws at some early hour on Saturday so we can see it on her ‘bells and whistles’ pay-TV scheme. That’s the kids and me. Think Hubs might go for a run.

I can’t wait to see what kinds of special effect things they do, how they get us through the loooooong parade of athletes, how they’re going to make the whole place come alive. And how will the Olympic Flame bowl-thing light up? Will there be some fab trick to it?! It’s all such great, traditional stuff!!! A must see, in my book!

As for the sports themselves, some of those are must see too. Personally I’m really looking forward to the men’s diving. And the men’s gym. And the rowing. There’s some very good inspiration to be found at the Games! ;)

So tell me, are you going to be watching the opening ceremony on Friday/Saturday?! Are you going to be glued 24/7 for the next few weeks??!!

Jul 25, 2012

A month of celebration

This is me with my Blush version
of Cassie's Grand Plan in Big W!
July has been a big month for me! Please excuse me taking a moment to review all the amazing things that have been going on, but I feel like celebrating! And to help make the celebrations even better, I've got a book giveaway too -- so read on!

1. The first exciting thing for July was that my first SuperRomance, "Cassie's Grand Plan" came out this month in Australia under the "Blush" imprint.

It first appeared in North America in March, and I was lucky enough to be in the US then and I got to see my book on the shelves there. But there's something quite special about seeing your book on the shelves in your home town. I can't explain what the difference is. Maybe it's not a different feeling at all, just a new kind of excitement at seeing your book is really real.

2. I received the advance author copies of my second SuperRomance "In His Eyes" which is out in North America in August and Australia in September. (And having just gone to Amazon to find that link, I've just discovered it's number 5 on the SuperRomance best sellers list -- yippee!) I am absolutely in love with this cover -- it's so atmospheric and dramatic.

I worked so hard on this book and I can't even tell you how many boxes of tissues I went through when I was writing it. I'm hoping that effort and emotional energy comes through to readers. I've already had someone "complain" about me making them cry! I guess authors are kind of unique in taking that sort of thing as a compliment...

The book has obviously been blessed by the cover fairies, because I've also received the cover of the Blush release of "In His Eyes" when it comes out in September -- isn't it gorgeous? I'm thinking the art department at Mills and Boon Australia decided to take the title of the book literally and went to find a cover model with the most amazing eyes ever. I think they succeeded!

3. Last, but certainly not least, I sold book number three to SuperRomance! It's untitled as yet, but for the moment it's going by the name of "Dean and Jess's story". I can give you a very sneaky previeiw and say that it involves weddings, dogs, vampires, Twitter, muscle cars and comic books. Intrigued? I hope so.

The rest of my July is going to be filled with writing as I get stuck into Dean and Jess and get their story ready to submit. It's exciting to have a deadline. I wonder if authors are unique in liking deadlines, too?

I hope July has been an exciting month for you. Please leave me a comment to let me know about anything fun or exciting that's happened for you this month. I'll choose a commenter at random to receive signed copies of both the Blush version of Cassie's Grand Plan and an advance copy of In His Eyes.

Jul 23, 2012

Breaking News!

by Nikki Logan

...and I wanted to share it with our loyal LoveCats readers first. In August, I’ll be releasing a romantic suspense with Entangled Publishing’s Dead Sexy line of category rom-sus with my Africa-set book, ‘Wild Encounter’.

Used with license
from iStockPhoto
‘Wild Encounter’ is Born Free meets the Bourne Identity - it pairs up a dedicated conservation worker (in Africa shipping a truckload of endangered African wild dogs to safer habitat in the north) with a bad guy with way too much military poise and stealth and general gorgeousness to be truly bad. You know…deep down inside. Because God knows he's gorgeous on the outside!

I love this book. It is the closest thing to the book of my heart that I have. It is the first full-length novel I ever wrote and I wrote it over four glorious months of indulgence and research and fantastical imagining back before I knew much about anything writing-wise. But Entangled’s focussed editors have worked with me to make it really fit squarely into their newest line and I just had the *best* time beating up my characters - literally.

There is a scene in the first part of the book (where the heroine makes an escape bid from an old farmhouse she’s being held in)… I dreamed the entire scene, long before conceiving the book, and it hung with me for weeks before I finally built a framework of wild mystery around it.

I don’t have a cover to show you just yet, nor an excerpt until closer to shelf-date. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you all those things in my next blog at the end of August, but in the meantime, watch Entangled Publishing around mid-August for its release.

Yes, I’ll still be writing the books you love for Harlequin. Absolutely I will. But now I also have a place where I can tell those grittier, grungier stories that are just begging to get out, and...you know...if I want to beat somebody up :)

Jul 22, 2012

Sunday Smooch with Cathryn Hein

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Heart Of The Valley by Cathryn Hein, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- cecilia 83!

Congratulations, cecilia!

Can you please contact Louisa George on louisageorge32 (at) gmail (dot) com
and she will send you a copy of Waking Up With His Runaway Bride.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Heart Of The Valley by Cathryn Hein ...

Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled ­ some might even say stubborn ­ and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ ­ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won¹t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself ­ a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

One tender touch, one exquisite kiss, and the grief Brooke had been clinging to so tightly subsided. It still throbbed in the background, but the edges were dulled. They no longer cut blades through her heart. Instead, as Lachie took the kiss deeper, her spirit swelled, ballooned by something marvellous, something rapturous and hope-filled.

Multiple times in her love-drunk hazes she’d imagined kissing him, but not once had she imagined it would be this magical. He’d started tentative, careful, just a light brush of her mouth, as though testing her sincerity, and she’d melted against him, wanting more. Sensing her need, he’d responded, cupping her face as he pressed his mouth harder against hers. Now, he kissed with a hunger that turned her inside out and drowned her in feelings of love, lust and desperate, insistent want.

And God, was it right. Perfectly, wonderfully right.

His hands slid down her neck, across her shoulders and down her bare arms, knuckles brushing her sides, each touch electric. He kissed his way across her cheek, warm, excited breath heavy in her ear as he nibbled at her lobe then left it to kiss a trail down her neck. He nuzzled the neck of her T-shirt aside to place fluttery kisses on her collarbone. Eyes closed, she arched her back, panting with pleasure as she let the glory of it swallow her.

He nuzzled his way back up to her mouth before drawing back to look at her intently. ‘Are you really sure about this?’

She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed against him. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘No. I’m serious. I need to know.’

‘I’m positive, Lachie. Absolutely,’ she brushed her mouth against his, ‘positively,’ sucked at his lower lip, ‘positive.’

She meant it. Heart and soul meant it. She loved him, and if the tragedies of the year had taught her one thing, it was to give and show her love, not hide it, because tomorrow could see it snatched away. Every hour, every minute, every second needed to be treasured. And even if this was only one night – a display of kind-heartedness and sympathy on his part – at least she’d have it to cherish and remember.

‘If you change your —’

She pressed her finger against his mouth, shaking her head. ‘No more worry. No more talk. Just do.’

"Heart of the Valley takes place in the very romantic Hunter Valley, where the landscape is so magnificent you can't blame Lachie and Brooke for wanting to kiss! What place inspires the romantic in you? Leave a somment to be in the draw to win a signed copy of win a signed copy of Heart of the Valley." (Australian residents only)

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Every Boy's Dream Dad by Sue Mackay will be posted!

Jul 19, 2012

Up, up and away!

In a couple of days I'll be off on my first every trip to America. I'm so deliciously excited!

Right now I'm having a bit of trouble packing my bags because I can't imagine wanting to wear summerish clothes when I'm bundled up in jumpers, and rushing to get things done I need to do before I leave, but as soon as that plane takes off, I know I'll be 100% focused on the trip. I can't wait.

While I'm there I'll be attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Anaheim, including the literacy signing (I'll be at table 101 if you're going - I'd love you to drop by!). I'll also be meeting some US friends in person for the first time, and having a bit of a look around.

Now I have a question or three - if you're from the US or have visited, what should I make sure I fit in while I'm there? I've heard stories of soft pretzels and cherry pie. Any other recommendations? 

If you've ever been on a long flight like this, do you have any travel tips?

If you're staying in Australia or New Zealand and you see my Bestseller Collection on the shelves, can you give it a little pat and say hello from me? It was supposed to be on the shelves already but it's not at my local ones and now I'm leaving the country. I feel like I'm deserting it! :)

Jul 18, 2012

Legends At LoveCats . . . Robyn Donald


I'm delighted to be able to spotlight one of my favourite authors on Legends At LoveCats today.

Introducing the fabulous Robyn Donald . . .

 Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?
I had no intention of writing novels until I found myself married, with a toddler and another on the way, having just moved from the small town I'd grown up in to Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city. I'd already found romances and was entranced by the work of the New Zealand and Australian writers for Mills & Boon. As I coped with morning sickness and loneliness, I found myself one day sitting down at the dining room table in the only spare time I had, the toddler's afternoon nap, and writing. With a pen.

How many books have you had published so far in your career?
I still have that first attempt. It's awful - banal, derivative, dull - you name the writing sin, I committed it. But I loved writing. Not that I finished that first novel - yet another sin. In fact, for ten years I wrote and wrote and wrote without every finishing a novel, until one day, when I'd returned to teaching, my husband had a heart attack and had to spend six weeks not working. He found this incredibly difficult, and so did I, as I'd been warned not to let him get stressed, so when he suggested I finish the novel I was working on I agreed - and did it, to our mutual astonishment. I had no idea what to do with this large, handwritten manuscript on lined school pads, so I asked a friend's daughter to type it for me, christened it 'Bride at Whangatapu' and sent it off to the only romance publisher I knew, Mills & Boon with a two-sentence letter requesting their consideration. To even more astonishment and much delight, it was accepted with minor revisions. Two years later I gave up teaching, and since then I've written consistently, sending off the 86th novel a couple of weeks ago.

The world of publishing is ever evolving, how have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?
 Probably the biggest aid I've discovered was computers. I was a reluctant toe-dipper, encouraged by my husband and children to buy an Apple Mac when they first came out. Teaching myself to type was painfully slow. Although I'm fast I'm still inaccurate, but it certainly beats writing the first eleven books by hand! Email meant learning to control my urge to read every one as it comes in, and also opened whole new realms of friendship and information. But the most important thing for me is reading - romances, of course, but also following the many other genres and authors I love. And I never read reviews of my books...

What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?
No excitement can beat being accepted for that first book. Fortunately I didn't know the second book was supposed to be more difficult to write, so I didn't worry about it. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss! Since then I've had too many pleasurable moments to be able to pick one occasion in particular, but being presented with a small Tiffany box by my editor to mark the publication of my 75th book was a real highlight.

Which of your books is your favourite, and why?
I have no favourite book. It's like being asked which is your favourite child. 'Bride at Whangatapu' is special because it was the first. Others remind me of glorious holidays, and I do enjoy writing about my home of Northland in New Zealand. Taking part in the Niroli series was great fun and interesting. And I enjoy using minor characters from previous books and seeing how they're getting on.

Are you a plotter or a panster?
Plotting is an arcane, mysterious process that other writers do. I've always envied writers who plot; it must be so reassuring, and once, buoyed by a charismatic speaker at a romance conference, I raced home and plotted three novels. None were written. I found the process of writing boring when I already knew what was going to happen. Reluctantly, I've accepted that I write to discover stories. The way I work is messy and slow, and involves a fair amount of rewriting and quite a few choice epithets, but it's the only way that works for me. Something I tell beginning writers is to try both ways, then settle on the one that works best for you. And never let anyone tell you that your way is inferior; if it works, stick with it. The most important thing is to finish each manuscript before starting the next.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
The whole reason for writing is to tell stories, and every writer is different; each writer has a method of producing that is personal. I often get stuck in the middle of the book; I find the best way for me to overcome that is to write the final scene. It's amazing what I learn. Often it has to be scrapped because the story changes and the characters find a different path to the one I'd imagined, but it works for me

What do you love most about being a romance author?
Although I've spent quite a lot of time tearing my hair over recalcitrant characters, I enjoy what I do enormously. I like working at home, I like being able to do what I like when I like, I love researching, and I treasure those (rare) moments when I reread a sentence or a phrase I've written in a tearing hurry, and realise with a jolt that it's turned out exactly the way I intended. And I like hearing from readers!

Thankyou Robyn for being with us today and generously answering our questions.

Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a fabulous hardback copy of Robyn's latest release, Stepping Out Of The Shadows .....

Jul 16, 2012

Something old, something New...

Noumea waterfront
Winter downunder means cold temps, runny noses and a hankering for heat. Around about July I get that Northern hemisphere need for sunshine (hey- it’s July so it must be warm- right?) so we often try to escape to warmer places. This year we decided we’d indulge ourselves with a week of rest and relaxation in New Caledonia. New Caledonia is a tiny collection of islands only a three hour flight from Auckland (I think it’s one of the closest Pacific Islands to Australia and New Zealand. Whilst it has a thriving tourist industry, it’s main income comes from nickel mining.)

We asked around- no-one knew much about it, no-one had ever been there. So, obviously, we had to go! Whilst I love to revisit familiar places (we go to the same camping spot each year)- we also adore exploring new countries and cultures. I'm one of those embarrassing mothers who talks to strangers, I love to hear peoples' stories- what makes them tick. 
John the tour guide and local ladies

I’m not sure what I was expecting- but we were very pleasantly surprised by the successful mix of european/ Kanak (indigenous)influences. After a lot of quite recent (1980s-90s) unrest things have settled down politically and there was a definite feeling of harmony. Colonised by France it has a real mix of French flair and pacific laissez-faire, all with a lovely French accent and gallic shrug.  

Award winning Tjibaou centre
I had two must-dos on my list: 1) No internet (for me) for the week so I could have total relaxation and read my too-large stash of books; and 2) I wanted to see turtles. The islands are surrounded by one of the world’s largest lagoons where, so I’d read, turtles happily laze away their days.

 at the museum
Item 1 was quickly thwarted by FREE Wi-fi in the hotel! I discovered that I have absolutely no willpower. By the end of the first day I was already uploading things to facebook!

So I decided to work on item 2. Turtles. The weather at the start of our holiday was gorgeous-a lovely thick heat that thawed our bodies and fed us great hope for a fabulous holiday.  We poured over our dive/snorkel brochures and planned our boat trip for the middle of the week.

cagou birds
By Day 3, however, the weather had closed in and we had cardigans and clouds for the rest of our stay- which put a downer on the idea of going snorkelling and seeing those lovely turtles! But the cooler weather meant lots of time to explore and learn more about this special place. 
We managed to fill our days. We took a tour out into the bush and ate a fabulous lunch of organic roasted venison with papaya salad at a restaurant owned by a woman with 24 kids!! (Some are adopted.) We met lots of friendly people, visited three museums, the amazing Tjibaou centre (designed by Renzo Piano who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the new Shard in London) and great zoological gardens where we saw the cagou- the New Caledonian flightless bird. 
the turtle!

Then! We found the aquarium. Coral…yeah. Fish….check. Sharks…yeah. TURTLES! Well- turtle. I saw one. One. But it was just too gorgeous for words.

music is a common language

In the end it didn’t matter that the sun didn’t shine, we laughed and ate our way around and spent some lovely quality time with each other. Don’t be surprised if my next hero’s french, or the setting’s in New Caledonia- it certainly left an impression! [If anyone’s interested- I’m not sure I’d take the kids again- they had a great time, and would have been in heaven if they could have swam or snorkelled- but the prices for other activities/food/tours meant that we were conscious always of how expensive everything is there.]

So-what do you like to do? Stick to holidaying in the familiar or trying places a little off the beaten track?

Jul 15, 2012

Sunday Smooch with Louisa George

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Waking Up With His Runaway Bride by Louisa George, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Clare! Can you please contact Robyn at

robyn (dot) grady (dot) author @ gmail dot com   ... and she'll send you a copy of Strictly Temporary.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Waking Up With His Runaway Bride by Louisa George...

Back cover blurb... 

Mim McCarthy needs to focus on saving her clinic - not her insufferable yet outrageously sexy ex Dr Connor Wiseman. He might have grown into those cheekbones, but she knows he won't have forgiven his runaway fiancee so easily! Yet it's impossible to deny the sparks between them - their fights used to be legendary, but their making up might be even more momentous...

[Set up...Connor is in town to assess Mim's business- her future is in his hands - yep, the same guy she ran out on three years ago. Now she's lost a bet to him too. Her penalty? A one hour salsa lesson...]

Common sense told her to walk away. 
That being so close to him was spectacularly foolish. Any dealings with Connor needed to be based on work, not on a silly wager and definitely not a dance lesson where she’d have his hot skin under her fingertips.

He’d made her cross, although she realized now that was just a jumble of emotions all caught up in being with him. A smokescreen for desire. She tried to cling on to the anger, to formulate a resistance to him based on that.

She put her hand on the hard wall of his chest to push away from him. Felt the raging thunder of his heart. The full force of his heat burnt her fingers but she couldn’t draw them away. Not now. This was too real. Too raw.

Blatant need zipped between them. Pressure throbbed through her body to fever pitch. She reached up to touch his mouth. Couldn’t stop. No matter what. She had to run her fingers over those lips.
He grabbed her wrist and his gaze fixed on her. Held her captive.

‘I want to kiss you, Mim.’ It was more groan than words, a deep low sound that tugged at her abdomen and sent rivers of desire skittering through her.

She drew in a breath to fight against the heat swelling through her. ‘No.’

‘Why not?’

She couldn’t think of a rational reason. Her brain was filled with him, his closeness. 
Kissing him was inevitable. Had been since he walked back into her life. Whatever would happen after that she didn’t know. Right now she didn’t care. She just wanted to touch him, feel him, taste him again. ‘Do you have a procedure manual for that?’ 

‘Thought I’d go with you on this. Gut feeling.’ 

‘Tut tut,’ she breathed. ‘Breaking rules again.’

His mouth grazed hers, slowly at first, tracing a line across her bottom lip. His hand cupped her neck as he pulled her to him, pressing his hard body against her.

Resistance was futile. No man had ever had this effect on her. It was all or nothing with Connor, no middle ground. And she wanted it all. 
Right now.

Nothing mattered now except tasting him again. She opened her mouth to his, felt a surge of pleasure ripple through her as his tongue licked against hers.

Yes, this was foolish. It was deliciously losing control. For the first time in too many years, she felt so alive, in his arms. 

Desire made her bolder. She pulled him closer, ran her hands down his back, ripped the T-shirt from his jeans. Pressed her breasts against his chest, grazed her nipples against the thick cotton. Shafts of need arced through her as he kissed a trail from her mouth to her neck.

Lilting salsa music filtered through from the lounge, cementing her focus. The dance lesson. The bet. 

She dragged her neck away from his delicious nibbles. ‘I am still cross. You are so not off the hook...’

Waking Up With His Runaway Bride is available now in UK, and from August 1st in Australia/NZ.  To be in the draw to win a signed copy, leave a comment below:

Have you ever won or lost a bet that changed your life?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Heart Of The Valley by Cathryn Hein will be posted!

Jul 12, 2012

Time Travel Anyone?

by Robyn Grady

One of my favourite kinds of story involves time travel. A dear friend, Christina Phillips, introduced me to A Time Traveller’s Wife in 2004 and while I love Rachel McAdams and that movie, my God, the book was a thousand times better. That last few pages are designed (I'm sure) to go around and around in your head. Such a happy bittersweet ending :sniff:

I adored Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect. Each time his character goes back in time to make things better, he becomes more heroic but the complications grow too. What a job to keep track of the logistics of those stories!

Lately, I’ve been watching Dr. Who. Wasn’t a fan of the 70s version. That guy – and his scarf - didn’t appeal to me at all. Even as a girl, I viewed the production aspects as unsophisticated. (Apologies to any original Dr. Who fans out there!) However, these latest episodes are, IMHO, incredibly well done. Sharp dialogue, most of the time terrific costumes, and the plots for each episode are gripping, ranging from futuristic scenarios to alien invasions to ghosts stories from times gone by.

One of my faves is when Dr. Who and Rose travel back to Victorian England where they visit a spooky country manor with the “I am not amused” queen herself. There’s a huge diamond involved in the mystery, but best of all, there’s a werewolf! At the end of that episode, the Queen states that she intends to form an enterprise that will investigate paranormal and other strange happenings. The Torchwood Institute! So now there’s another series I need to buy J 

Do you have a favourite time travel book/movie? Maybe you’re a fan of the new – or the old - Dr. Who? Or do you prefer your stories firmly rooted in reality?

Jul 11, 2012

The Ultimate Romance Reading List

by Michelle Douglas

I have a degree in English Literature. I also have a Master of Philosophy (English). I’ve studied Renaissance Drama, Romance and Realism in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Romantic Poets, Modernism and Colonial Fiction. I’ve read Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Dickens, Proust, Joyce and Hemingway. Occasionally even the odd female has made the reading lists and I’d study them too – Austen, the Brontes, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolfe.

But it recently occurred to me that although I have been an avid reader of romance novels since I was a teenager, there are some serious holes in my romance reading education. For example, I have never read anything by Laura Kinsale or Loretta Chase (or Jayne Ann Krentz or Linda Howard or Stephanie Laurens or…oh, there are so many!). And it’s started me thinking…

If I were ever going to teach an academic course on “Reading The Romance” what novels would I chose as my set texts? What romance novels do I think best capture the spirit of romance? Which novels do I think display all the best that the romance genre has to offer? This is what I’ve come up with so far:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (though any of her novels would suit)

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I’d choose these because they became the pattern for so many romances that followed. Plus I love them.

3. Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale
4. Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase
5. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve not read any of these, but I desperately want to. They do seem to be seen as ideal examples of The Romance by a lot of readers (and academics) too.

6. Something (anything!) by Jennifer Crusie – Bet Me, perhaps, or Welcome to Temptation?

I’ve read the first—loved it!—but I’ve yet to read the second. A Jenny Crusie novel is such fun.

7. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (or, frankly, anything by Heyer)

Oh how I love her regency romances – they’re real comfort food for the soul. Her characterisations are impeccable.

8. Something (again anything!) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Ain’t She Sweet or Match Me If You Can.

In my opinion, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the mistress of romantic comedy. The two novels I’ve named are the only ones of hers I’ve read so far, but I seriously want to glom her backlist.

I’d like to have 10 books for my reading list, but I’m not sure what else I should add. I expect The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss should make the list, but I’ve tried to read it and just can’t get into it. E.M. Hull’s The Sheik isn’t there, and I’d definitely be interested in reading that. Oops, and there’s no Nora there yet.

So…what do you think I should slot in for my final two places? Are there books you’d remove from my list? Hmm…and should I make this a list of 12?

Jul 9, 2012

The Pleasure of Anticipation


by Barbara DeLeo

There's a whole lot of jump-down-turnaround batcrazy excitement in the DeLeo house at the moment and it has nothing to do with the anticipation of my first book coming out in September (Okay, that's a dirty great lie. It's partly because of that, but the thrill of waiting for my first book release is the topic for another blog).

The reason we're smiling sideways at each other and breaking into random dance is that in five short weeks we're off to Europe for three months. Argh, the planning, the packing, the repacking, the lists, the sweet talking of the dog/house/fish sitter ...!!

Anyway.... we'll have four days in Singapore, then four weeks on the Greek island of Lesvos, four days in Athens and then six weeks in Cyprus. But before you imagine that this is a sensible and romantic trip with my darling husband, picture me with my four children—two girls aged 11 and two boys aged 8—my lovely mother-in-law, my sweet father-in-law and, of course, my darling husband.

We've been planning this odyssey for years. The idea was to find a time when our kids were old enough to experience a trip to the place their grandparents came from. We also wanted their grandparents to come with us so we could all be immersed in the language and culture together. The hubs and I  lived in Greece and Cyprus a loooong time ago but we haven't forgotten the amazing culture, the beautiful beaches or the glorious food.

Three months is a long time to be away from school and music lessons and play dates with friends. It's going to be quite a test of character to see how we all feel about being with each other 24/7. But the anticipation and excitement overrides all that and we feel exceptionally blessed to have such an amazing opportunity as a family.

So, when was a time you had that hair-standing-high-on-the-back-of-your-neck feeling, the zing through your tummy as you thought about what lay ahead? I'd love to hear about it!

p.s If you'd like to follow our crazy adventures, you can "like" my facebook page here

Jul 7, 2012

Sunday Smooch!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Strictly Temporary by Robyn Grady, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Eli! Can you please contact Louise at mail (at) louisecusack (dot) com and she'll send you a ecopy of Daughter of the Dark.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from  Strictly Temporary by Robyn Grady ...

Discovering an abandoned baby in the backseat of a taxi was not on hotelier Zack Harrison's agenda. Luckily, a stunning stranger comes to his aid—and piques his interest. But before Child Services can arrive, a snowstorm strands the trio in Zack's luxurious Colorado cabin.

Trinity Matthews wants to resist Zack's advances, but his care and concern for her and the baby soon have her melting. As the snow falls and the heat sizzles, it's not long before Trinity's sleeping in his bed. And she finds herself wondering if their temporary arrangement could have permanent effects.

(Excerpt from Strictly Temporary...)

“Thing is,” she said. “I don’t have family to fall back on, and sometimes both a mother and father drop out of the picture, for one reason or another. I have friends,” she went on. “Good friends. But no one I’d want to trust enough with a child of her own if something, you know, ever happened. And I have nothing against adoption. Heck, I would’ve loved to have been adopted by a loving family. And, when it’s needed, I can’t slight good foster care.” She took a breath. “Life is about choices. I’ve chosen not to go down that having-my-own-children path.”

Trinity looked from the bed of flickering flames back to Zack.

A crease formed between his brows, he shifted and lay down on his side too. Propped up on an upper arm, he set his jaw cupped in that palm. After a curious moment of his intense gaze skewering hers, she shifted too, and frowned.

“You mean not get married, have children? I thought you sacked the boyfriend because he didn’t approve of kids?

"That's right. He didn't approve of them at all. I mean, you might not want to be a father, but you like your neices and nephews, don't you? You like this baby?"

"She can be noisy and smelly and has caused me a ton of worry. But sure I like her." He slanted his head and then nodded, "Who wouldn't?"

"I mihgt not plan to have any of y own, but I couldn't spend my life with someone who thinks kids are a waste of space."

His lips twitched. "Bet he didn't like puppies, either."

"Or kittens."

Zack was kind enough to smile softly. "You were right to ditch him." Then he shifted and changed the subject. “What about your professional life?” he asked. “What are you working toward?”
“One day I hope to be the Editor in Chief of the biggest glossiest magazine around. Basically world domination in my field.” She added, “While staying clear of men who tell bad chicken jokes.”

“No getting away from me tonight.”

She put on a sigh. “Guess I’ll suffer for a good cause.”

The tease in his eyes gradually took on a vaguely different light at the same time the quirk lifting one side of his mouth faded away and the dawn of a different awareness began to ripple between them. The crackle from the fire sounded louder, the rise and fall of his chest became deeper and the air surrounding them started to spark. Pumping in and out of the light, the pulse at the side of his throat throbbed faster and, entranced, her body responded to it all.

Her breasts came alive, swelling, heating. Low inside a delicious ache flowered and grew. She watched his lips part slightly, saw his eyes darken more, then he reached out and a hot fingertip trailed her jaw. That delicious ache spread south – a sweet, raw burn. 

When he brushed back hair fallen over her face and his hot palm stayed to cup her cheek, all the oxygen in the room disappeared. Suddenly heavy, her eyelids drifted shut as her body – her very essence - gravitated unerringly toward his. With the lights out, with this extraordinary man she barely knew, everything felt so unreal. So...imminent. She didn’t want to think about who he really was. That before today she would have given him less than the time of day. At this moment, he truly was irresistible.

“Your hair,” he said in a deep drugging voice. “A wave came loose from its tie.”

“Oh.” She breathed in. Out. Then the words just slipped past her lips and she said it. “I thought you might’ve wanted to kiss me.”

That pulse in his throat beat twice as hard and, while she held her breath, he blinked slowly once. “Actually, I’ve wanted to do that all night.” He leaned across and his mouth grazed hers, first slowly one way then the other. “Trouble is,” he murmured, “if I kiss you now, I won’t want to stop.”

She quivered to her pom-pom topped toes and clapped a hand over her scruples’ eyes.

Who said anything about stopping?

But then her thoughts slid back to what had brought them here in the first place. “What about the baby?”

“You’re right,” he agreed even as his lidded eyes drifted shut as he leaned that inch closer and his mouth feathered over hers again. “We should think of our responsibilities.”

But his mouth lingered and as his drugging scent burrowed deeper, Trinity couldn’t recall a single reason why she shouldn’t fan her palm up over his shoulder and bring herself delectably, irreversibly close. When he tasted the corner of her mouth – a deliberate, potent caress - that beautiful ache flooded her core and the last remnants of commonsense shut down. She’d be lucky to remember her own name.

The tip of his tongue slid a deliberate line across the seam of her lips. “Maybe if we just snuggled up?” he said and she felt his grin. “You know. To keep warm.”

When his sandpaper chin grazed up the side of her face and he dropped a kiss on the shell of her ear, the knowledge - the intense glow of longing - was too much. Near dizzy with need, she told him in a husky voice, “I think snuggling would be okay.”

A big palm traced down her side. She heard a sigh – her own - and then he was kissing her in earnest and with an innate skill that left her reeling.

Strictly Temporary is on US shelves in July, Australia and New Zealand in August.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy, leave a comment below:

Have you ever been stuck somewhere with no means of escape? 

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Waking Up with his Runaway Bride by Louisa George will be posted!