Aug 31, 2012

"Puzzled" - Fun Post

We thought we'd have a purely for fun post today with a puzzle from JigZone!

Cats can sleep anywhere and make it look comfy, can't they!?

Click to Mix and Solve

Aug 28, 2012

Meet Debut Author Jennifer St George!

I’m thrilled to welcome Jennifer St George author of The Convenient Bride to the LoveCats today.

She writes contemporary romance for Penguin’s new digital-first imprint, Destiny Romance.  Her debut novel The Convenient Bride is out now!

The Convenient Bride has just been launched by Destiny Romance - can you tell us a little about the story?

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family's hotel, and the ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience and plans to use Sienna to secure his next business deal. But things don't go quite according to plan.

In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice to be with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of great luxury and opulence. But after thinking he can manipulate her at his will, Antonio begins to realise he has seriously underestimated Sienna…her intelligence, her skills, her courage – and her beauty. Unexpectedly, Sienna gets too close and when she discovers his dark secret and Antonio's perfectly planned life begins to unravel.

What was the inspiration for The Convenient Bride?
I visited Venice for the first time not long ago and found it one of the most magical and captivating cities I’ve ever seen.  Venice is the perfect backdrop for a romance and who can’t love a wounded Italian hero?  Unbearable grief also features in the story and unfortunately this is an emotion I know something about having lost my sister in tragic circumstances.

Your story revolves around luxury hotels.  Have you ever stayed in one?

In my life before romance writing, I worked in marketing for large corporations including Guinness and Ford.  My jobs required extensive travel.  For example, I launched Guinness in Russia, marketed forklift trucks across Europe and travelled to Germany, Japan and Korea to select new cars for the Australian market.  So, having spent many day sand nights in five-star hotels, I was able to draw on this experience when writing The Convenient Bride.

The romance writing award season has just wrapped up and you have had some wins.  Can you tell us about them?

It’s funny how everything seems to come together at the same time after several years of hard work.  I came 2nd and 3rd in the Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Emerald contest and have just arrived home from New Zealand a few days ago where The Convenient Bride won the 2012 Clendon Award. I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed but obviously delighted.

What keeps you entertained when you’re not writing?

I love keeping fit so I walk up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse about four times a week.  Just today I saw four whales very close to shore, which is always thrilling. I also love walking on the beach with the family and our new puppy, Toffee.  My indulgence is watching my favourite movies over and over.  I’ve enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey and Bridget Jones’ Diary more times than I care to count.

Having just been published, what would you say to aspiring authors?
Never give up. 

I decided very early on that to gain publication I had to take my writing very seriously and that it would probably take a long time.  I established a very strict writing routine (including getting up at six am on New Year’s Day when I was rushing to finish a manuscript for RWA’s 5DI program) and worked hard at learning the craft.  I attended every romance writing workshop I could, studied relevant textbooks on writing and devoured stories similar to the line I was targetting. I applied to the RWA critique partner scheme and found a wonderful writer in Melbourne.

Probably the best thing I did was volunteer for RWA.  I’ve met so many multi-published, award-winning authors who have given me advice, guidance and encouragement (obviously Rachel, you were one of those wonderfully generous authors along with a couple of other LoveCats!).  I believe I would not have been published without their help.

Aw, you're too sweet, Jen. :) What’s Next?

Following the last two whirlwind weeks with the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference and then the New Zealand conference, it’s back to reality.  I have to plot my next book and return to the discipline of writing every day.

My next book, Seducing the Secret Heiress will be coming out with Destiny Romance in a few months. 

If you’d like more information about Jennifer, visit:
website: or

Aug 26, 2012

Sunday Smooch with Anna Hackett . . . .

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Time Thief by Anna Hackett, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Faith McInnes! Congratulations Faith, please contact Emmie at emmie (at) emmiedark (dot) com to claim your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Time Thief by Anna Hackett ...

Hunted for her ability to steal time, Bay North lives a life on the run. All she wants is to make the crime lord who slaughtered her family pay. But now he’s set the ultimate hunter on her trail and Bay will need all her skills to carry out her revenge and survive.

Ex-Navy SEAL Sean Archer saw his team killed by a time thief in Afghanistan and came back a broken man. He’s made a dark deal with a criminal to hunt down all time thieves and now Sean’s tracked the wily Bay North to Denver where he plans to rid the world of one more dangerous mutation.
But during a shootout, hunter and hunted find themselves depending on each other for survival. Joining forces to exact payback by stealing a priceless treasure, their reluctant alliance shatters both their defenses. Can Bay find the courage to trust? And can Sean convince a woman honed in revenge that she can have more than vengeance, blood and killing?

[Set-up - Sean and Bay have just survived a shootout and Sean’s learned a dark truth that’s left him reeling.]

Bay could barely breathe. Sean Archer was holding her so tight.

But she let him hold her, his big body shaking. He didn’t make a sound but she felt his pain.

She didn’t say anything. What words would make this better? She brushed a hand over his muscled back. She wasn’t sure how long they knelt there on the cool tile floor. For the first time in her life, time stood still without her having to use her ability.

When he lifted his head, his stubbled cheek brushed against her jaw. She stilled, looking down at his sun-streaked hair. His hands gripped her shirt and she felt the touch through her sweater.

He shifted until they faced each other. Only a whisper of air between them. His eyes churned like storm clouds over an angry sea.

She didn’t know how to comfort another but she recognized the agony in his eyes. She knew the guilt, anger, sorrow—they were old friends to her.

His hands loosened, his fingers grazing over her skin. “Bay.”

Just her name. Said in a way that made her shiver. This was crazy. She didn’t know this man and he’d been trying to kill her.

But she knew how he felt. Lost in a world ripped apart, and God help her, she wanted to feel something more than the urge for revenge.

For a few minutes she wanted to forget reality and be close to someone.

His lips touched her temple.

A small brush. Gentle when she’d expected a hot rush. She’d thought he’d kiss her, that they’d attack each other in a blind rush to forget their shared misery.

A skim of lips across her cheekbone.

Her eyelids fluttered closed. She couldn’t remember anyone being this…tender with her. Then his lips moved over hers.

Now she felt the strength, the urgency.

His tongue pushed into her mouth. She returned the kiss. The taste of him was like a hit of a too-strong martini. Heady, flooding all the right places.

They were chest-to-chest now. Her breasts pressed against his hard muscles, sending shivers of sensation through her.

He groaned, the kiss turning more frantic. Like he couldn’t get enough of her. Or like he was fighting to forget his memories.

He pulled away.

She gasped for air, reeling from what that impromptu kiss had left her feeling.

To be in the draw to win a download of Time Thief, just leave a comment and tell me, if you had the ability to stop time like Bay, what would you do with it?

To learn more about Anna, visit her website,, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Wild Encounter by Nikki Logan will be posted!

Aug 24, 2012

Flirting to Win by Natalie Anderson

It’s been an exciting week for me this week with the release of a new novella anthology – FLIRTING TO WIN has just gone up at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

These are three sweet’n’sexy stories set in London in summer. They take a light look at the games we sometimes play (even without realising it) as a relationship begins. It’s about all that flip, flirty stuff and that learning while playing can be fun, playing for keeps is even better.

Here’s a little more about each story:

Gamble in Gold

The one that got away...

Seven years have passed since shy Lexie Peterson had her heart trampled by her teenage crush. When she comes face to face with him in London, she vows to stay strong against his charms. But there's something about the man who has always made the impossible seem possible.

When Luke Marchetti walks into his flat to find Lexie in a negligee, all he can think of is having a little flirt and fling. But sweet, caring Lexie is all grown up now, and her determination to keep him at a distance makes him realize she deserves more than he can offer.

One kiss when they were younger ignited a passion that lasted seven long years. But is it enough to entice the two to take a gamble on love?

Seduction in Silver

A limited engagement...

For two weeks Nina Breslin had passed an enticing stranger when catching the Baker Street Tube to go to work. So utterly sexy, and enticingly foreign, she figures he's eons out of her league--until the day he makes an outrageous proposal.

Dr. Eduardo Ruiz needs a break from the heart-breaking reality of his job. So when he finally introduces himself to the vivacious woman he's been admiring, he quickly realizes they could help each other with their sticky situations...and have great fun in the process.

They agree to an outrageous plan. For one night only, she'll masquerade as his girlfriend to appease his overzealous family members, and he'll accompany her to meet with her ex-fiancé's friends, pretending to be her attentive lover. Can they play by their own rules, or will they succumb to the pull of seduction?

Bargain in Bronze

If you can't take the heat...

Entrepreneur Libby Harris's specialty is making her famous muesli. So when an Olympic hopeful invites her to his flat to make her delicious cereal, she's bewildered when his brother Jack walks in, accusing her of trying to ruin his brother's career. Libby has every intention of staying single, but with Jack around, no way can she suppress the personal pleasure she's long denied herself.

Investment banker extraordinaire Jack Barnes's attraction to Libby is instantaneous, but he's raised his two siblings after their parents died in an accident, and it's been all work and no play for as long as he can remember. He can't let down his guard now--not when his brother is so close to the gold. But keeping Libby busy and out of his brother's life challenges every ounce of his self-control.

Until now...

Neither wants a relationship, and though they can't deny their incredible chemistry, Libby and Jack agree that what they have is temporary. So when things start to sizzle between them, will they be able to take the heat?

You can get Bargain in Bronze separately, or all three novellas in one anthology. But today I’d love to give away a copy of the full anthology to one commenter today – leave a comment to let me know the name of the dog that features in the anthology? (Here’s a hint: you might find it on the cover of FLIRTING TO WIN!)

(Entries are open to anyone in the world, the prize is an ebook via Amazon and will be drawn on Sunday 26 August, 9am New Zealand time. Please check back to this post to see if you won!)

EDITED to add: the giveaway is now closed, the winner drawn was Katariina--please email natalie so she can get your prize to you! natalie(at)natalie-anderson(dot)com

Aug 22, 2012

Travel all over the countryside...

by Emmie Dark

Hello from Singapore! August has been a big month of travel for me -- starting with a trip to Perth for work, a wonderful visit to the Gold Coast for the RWA Australia conference, and, now, a short trip to Singapore. I often joke that I'll do anything to escape Melbourne's chilly winter, but this is getting ridiculous!
Me and Hugh and Zoe
at Balthazar wine bar!  

Perth was a primarily for work, but my second SuperRomance, In His Eyes, hit the shelves while I was over there. (In His Eyes was the Sunday Smooch this week -- don't forget to check it out!)

And when your second book is released, what's a girl to do but to head out for some celebration?

I found a gorgeous wine bar called Balthazar and had a lovely chat with the wine waiter about my wine choices. He ended up bringing me something that wasn't on the list -- a Spanish something-or-other -- and it was delicious. Just the thing to toast Hugh and Zoe!

Then it was home for a few days before heading to the Gold Coast. There are plenty of reports on line from the conference (including my own daily blog updates) so I won't go into too much detail, except to say that it was an amazing time. The organising committee deserve a big glass of champagne and then a nice lie-down for all the hard work they put in.

We managed to get a few of the LoveCats (but unfortunately not all who were there) together for a portrait on the night of the cocktail party which had the theme of fifties glamour.

A few of the lovely LoveCats! (I hope Sharon doesn't mind me sharing the photo!) 
I flew home from the conference and had a few short hours to reacquaint myself with home (and wash the smalls) before heading back to the airport for Singapore. It's a work trip, but my sister, G, has joined me for a little holiday while I work. It's really lovely to have some company and she's absolutely loving it here.
G and I visited the foreshore food market
and then wandered around taking in the view
of the amazing Marina Bay Sands.
The light and sound show -- quite amazing! 

We've been pursuing most of the typical Singaporean delights - food and bars. :) But there's still plenty more to explore.

And G went to Little India today and had a gorgeous henna tattoo applied. I think I might want one of my own when the work stuff is done!

G's henna tattoo!
There's a few more days of work ahead for me, and then a couple of days rest. And then all my focus is going to be on getting book number three wrestled to the ground!

For those of you returning from RWA conference, I hope life has settled a little. And for those who didn't go away at all -- hope you are enjoying sleeping in your own beds! ;)

Aug 20, 2012

While the (Love)Cats are away...Louisa George

Psst...there's no one here but me. I'm all alone.

One cat has gone Greek, another's gone bush...and pretty much all the others are sunning themselves at a conference in the GC!

So what to do? The place is so quiet, we need to rock things up a bit! I've called a friend...

 No! Not that One!

THIS one...

But he called a few more friends, and a few more... and, oops there goes the crystal vase.

Maybe this party isn't going to go so well after all.

It reminds me of a friend's 16 year old son who had a party when his parents were away for one night. (Yes- the time they were 'testing' him...). He thought he'd done an awesome job of tidying up the place before they got back...but forgot to check the garden...where his considerate friends had stashed most of the empty bottles.

Or the time another friend's son was allowed to stay at home alone for the night and when his parents got home they had a call from the local cop shop- where their son had spent the night after a fracas outside his own party!

I have two teenage sons - I'm bracing myself for the fall out!!!

Personally I was always the sober one cleaning up... or doing the moves on the dance floor (I LOVED those 70s and 80s songs with actions! OK- I know- sad!). I was never arrested or in trouble ...oh, yes, apart from the time my friends came over and we had a food fight in my lounge......then there was that strange wedding I went to where the best man had arranged a stripper! A stripper at a wedding?!?Huh??

What about you? Any party nightmare stories to share? Or were you the one who was always in the kitchen at parties?

As I'm holding out for a few new friends to party with I thought I'd give a copy of my current Medical Romance release, Waking Up With His Runaway Bride to one commenter.

Rat Cartoon courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS
DJinConcert by ponsuwan

Aug 19, 2012

Sunday Smooch: In His Eyes

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today's Sunday Smooch is coming to you live from the RWA 2012 conference on the Gold Coast! There has been quite a bit of wine consumed over the past few days, so it's fitting that today we have a smooch from the vineyard-set In His Eyes by Emmie Dark.

But before we get into winery territory, the winner from Nikki Logan's Slow Dance with the Sheriff Smooch last week was Kylie Griffin! Congratulations, Kylie! Please contact Nikki by email - nikki (at) and she'll send you a copy of Slow Dance With the Sherrif!

In His Eyes: What if everything he thinks he knows about her is wrong? 

Hugh Lawson and Zoe Waters have a tangled history. But she left ten years ago and he's put her behind him. Except she's here again—just when Hugh's ready to make an offer for her family's legendary vineyard. And her version of those long-ago events is enough to make him question everything he thought he knew.

Hugh can't let the past destroy his plans for the future. Which means he has to unravel the truth. But as he does, he begins to realize that he may have been as responsible for what happened as Zoe. And that going back could be the only way to move forward.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch:

SET UP: Hugh and Zoe have been working together and, in doing so, some of the truths about their past together have been revealed. Zoe needs comfort -- and maybe something a little more...

Oh God, if only he could turn back the clock. “I would have. If I’d known—” His fists tightened in frustration. “I’d have been there before you could blink. I promise you. If I’d only…if I’d known…” With a frustrated, growling sigh, Hugh stopped himself as his voice rose with the accusation and hurt of his seventeen-year-old self. 

Zoe shrugged and her throat worked as she swallowed. 

She didn’t believe him, he could see that. The spark of anger somewhere inside him grew brighter. He could see it clearly now. Even once she’d been free from her aunt, she hadn’t tried to come back to him because she couldn’t bring herself to trust him again. Those few phone calls, the ones his father had intercepted, had only strengthened her conviction. Zoe Waters had never been able to believe that anyone could love her. Not even him, after everything they’d been through. 

That realization, the utter wretchedness of that fact, doused his anger. For now, his sorrow and sympathy overwhelmed all else. 

He stood up in a rush, ignoring the chair that tipped and fell to the floor with a crash. Zoe was in his arms a moment later, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he’d yanked her from her chair or she’d leapt there herself. It didn’t matter. 

All that mattered was holding her.

She shivered against him, and he tucked her head under his chin, pulling her closer, trying to make the memories disappear, again desperately wishing he had some kind of magic power that would enable him to change the past. 

They stood like that for long minutes, his arms around her, her head against his chest. She wasn’t crying, still hadn’t shed a tear. Zoe was motionless except for her trembling that every now and then built to a shudder. When that happened she’d push herself closer to him, as if she were escaping from something. Hugh pressed occasional kisses to the top of her head, but didn’t say anything. 

What was there to say? How could any words make up for what she’d been through? For what they’d both lost?

Her arms were trapped between them and she moved, pushing herself away a little, her hands rising to his neck. But it wasn’t until the cool air hit his chest that he realized she was undoing the buttons of his shirt. 


She pressed an open-mouthed kiss against the hair on his chest as she pulled his shirt apart. “Mmm?”

Her little tongue darted out to lick him before her hands moved lower and began opening the next button in line. 

“Zoe, what are you doing?” Even as his brain puzzled over her moves, his body responded. Her touch, her mouth, the tickle of her fingers against his skin as she popped each button through its buttonhole… His body strained towards her even as his every rational sense told him to pull away. 

“I should think that was obvious,” she mumbled against his skin, trailing kisses down his torso, moistening his skin with her attention with every button she undid. One hand skated down his body and she trailed cool fingertips, with the lightest of touches, over the front of his rapidly tightening jeans. 

“Wait.” Hugh grasped her wrists and took a step back. Her flushed face looked up at him and it was such a contrast from the pale, wan woman he’d just been speaking to he was almost shocked. “Are you seducing me?” 

She tried for a seductive smile, but it spoke more of desperation than desire. “Do you have a problem with that?” 

“Zoe…” His tone was a warning. He’d never before felt such powerfully confused desire warring inside him. Was making love now, after the conversation they’d just had, the right thing to do? Was it even vaguely appropriate? 

But he didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to walk out of here and have to deal with the mental ramifications of all he’d just heard. Didn’t want to think about it—any of it. 

Zoe’s expression turned pleading. “Please, Hugh. I need this. You…” She swallowed. “You made me remember it. Now you have to make me forget, make it go away again. You got what you wanted. Help me, please, I need this.” 

Perhaps she wasn’t the only one.

Emmie is running a promotion on her blog throughout the month of August. Anyone who leaves a comment will go into the running to win a pair of beautiful Riedel wine glasses. 

Emmie has also been providing daily blog updates from the RWA conference, so go check out her posts -- and don't forget to leave a comment! 

You can also win a copy of In His Eyes by leaving comment right here! Tell Emmie what your favourite drink is -- it doesn't have to be wine! 

Aug 17, 2012

Who owns who? OR Have I become a slave to my cat …….

By Helen Lacey

A while ago I blogged about the newest addition to our animal family – a beautiful ragdoll cat – so I thought I would give an update on how it’s going. I’ve always been a horsey gal and dog lover and other than a few strays that have set up home in stables over the years or a ginger feral that used to hang out along the back fence, I’ve never really been into pets of the feline variety.
Until Oscar. (That's him upside down and asleep on the bed)

Since joining us he has well and truly made himself at home. If he’s not sleeping at the end of the bed, he’s fighting me for a spot on my office chair or sneaking into the garage to put kitty-kat paw prints all over hubby’s much adored show car. Now, I made a deal with hubby when we adopted Oscar, because he insisted that since I was the one who really wanted him, then I had to be the one who did the chores associated with owning an indoor cat. I agreed – I mean, how hard could it be to run around after one average sized Ragdoll?

Easy. Sure. I mean, the feeding and brushing and obvious kitty litter duties, it’s not so hard. In fact, it’s much easier owning a cat than it is a dog….. And it’s certainly MUCH less stressful than owning a horse (Or eight horses). So Oscar has settled in and I do what needs to be done. But over the past few weeks it has occurred to me that while I am devoted to this beautiful little fella – he’s not quite so devoted to me. Not at all like my dogs, who almost turn themselves into pretzels with excitement every time I enter the yard or take them for a walk. Even my horse Zeb gives a whinny when I approach. But Oscar . . . not so much. And I could happily accept that as the norm if it wasn’t for the extraordinary amount of attention and affection he gives to my husband. When I mentioned this fact with much despair to hubby he looked at me, smiled, and said “Oh, that’s easy, you’re his slave . . . And I’m his master.”

Slave? Is that what a feeder, brusher and cat poop pickeruperer equates to?  And the master thing? Imagine my reaction to that. But maybe hubby has a point. After all, it’s very apparent who Oscar likes the most.  

So, has anyone else had a cat with a superiority complex? Or do you have any tips on how to overcome this slave and master conundrum?

Aug 15, 2012

If the Shoe Fits - Annie West

Recently I had my favourite shoes mended. They've trod my local streets as well as done me proud in Paris and Southern France. They're comfy and they make me smile whenever I look at them. Aren't they cute?

Looking at them made me realise how different they are from the black court shoes that figured so prominently in my life when I held down a serious five-day a week office career.

Which led me to thinking about shoes as indicators of character. Hey, I'm an author - I'm allowed to get away with such leaps of thought. It struck me how much I love the tiny peripheral details that indicate character in a story. Rather than being told a heroine is serious or sassy, flirtatious or grounded, I adore finding out through telling little details in the way people respond to her, what her habits are and, yes, what she wears.

Does she wear strappy, high heeled sandals? Does she wear them easily or does she struggle with the heels? Is she unused to wearing them? My current heroine is getting used to wearing high heels for the first time in years and the reason she's not used to them - well, that's part of her backstory and reveals a lot about why she acts the way she does. I've had heroines who wear teetering jewel-studded stilettos without a second thought and that says a lot about their lives and their self confidence too, or perhaps about a role they're determined to play in public.

I had a heroine who met her Prince Charming when he was in Italian hand stitched shoes and she wore gumboots. Even when she became a princess, she didn't always conform with the general expectation of what a royal should wear, because that didn't sit with her personality or preferences. I recall her making public appearances in tailored jackets, jeans and low-heeled boots. Would she wear blue suede boots? Probably, if they were as comfortable as these.

And it's not just my heroines I recall because of their footwear. Michelle Douglas wrote a memorable heroine with a penchant for Doc Martins. Liz Fielding had a marvellous heroine who favoured boots too - not the high heeled fashion variety but the solid, business-like don't-mess-with-me type. In both cases they revealed character and reinforced what we were beginning to discover about the heroine.

And of course, if we want to talk romance heroines, Cinderella is up there with the best of them, with her memorable lost slipper. Given the fact so many women adore shoes, even looking at ones they'd never wear themselves, I think a passing reference to a heroine's (or hero's) footwear preferences interests readers.

I love the idea of a heroine at home at one of those times when any sane woman wouldn't like the man of her dreams walking in on her - hair in a towel, face pack on, embarrassing cartoon pjs and fluffy slippers - and of course having Mr Tall Dark and Delicious arrive. Would she kick off the slippers and hide them, brazen it out or have the self confidence not to mind at all? Her reaction would tell a lot about her, and possibly grab our interest and sympathy.

What about you? Do your shoes tell something about your character, job or life? What are the most memorable shoes you've owned or seen? What sort would you like to own or perhaps provide for a romance heroine?

Aug 13, 2012

Relax, don't do it....!

By Barbara DeLeo

Today's the day the eight of us set off on our three month trip away. The organisation, the planning, and the logistics of taking so many people so far from home has left me in a frazzled heap. I know  I'm going to have LOTS of time to relax in the coming weeks, though, and that's one of the things I'm looking forward to the most.

In the day-to-day bustle of jobs and school and afterschool activities and hobbies and friends and families, it's often hard to find time to relax. In fact sometimes I feel as though I've forgotten how. My husband meditates every morning and he swears by the quiet time
to get himself set for the day. I've tried it, but always end up thinking of shopping lists and working out whose turn it is to clean out the fish tank....

When our kids were really young —and when things weren't going to plan—we used "time out" A LOT. Mostly it was as much for our sanity as the kids'. Having some space from each other, even it was an enforced separation, usually resulted in a change in behaviour. A moment to take a breath and recalibrate can do wonders.

A little corner of my "breathing room"
As the kids have got older "time out" has lost it's magical we've instituted a "breathing room". It's a place where any one of us can go when we feel cross, or frustrated or just need some "breathing room" and time to relax. The rule is that when someone goes into the breathing room (really just our spare room with a few little symbols of relaxation and a nice  chair in the sun) no one is allowed to disturb them. It might be just for a minute, or five, or twenty, but it's a great place to get centred, and to RELAX. It's defused many a temper tantrum and full scale battle in its time. (Confession: I still think about who should clean the fish tank but it's such a lovely place to do it in).

So are you like me and struggle to relax, or do you have some favourite techniques. Do you take a sceneted bath? Listen to some favourite music? Read a romance?

Aug 12, 2012

Sunday Smooch: Slow Dance with the Sheriff

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- efthaliapegios!  And the week before that was Laney4.

 Congratulations, Efthalia! Can you please contact Soraya Lane at: sorayanicholas (at) yahoo (dot) com   and she'll send you a copy of ChangeAnd Laney4 contact Sue at :  lsmackay (at) ts (dot) co (dot) nz  and she’ll send you a copy of Every Boy’s Dream Dad.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Slow Dance with the Sheriff  by Nikki Logan  

When New York came to Texas...

Ex-ballerina Eleanor Patterson is the darling of Manhattan's society-until she discovers her pedigree background is a lie. So she heads to sleepy Larkville for answers....
Sheriff Jed Jackson never expected to rescue a stunning woman from a herd of cattle, or to be so fascinated by the vulnerability beneath Ellie's tough city veneer. Yet watching her unwind is irresistible, and as he helps her learn to dance again he wants to give both Ellie and himself a new beginning....

 [SETUP] Disenfranchised New York dancer and heiress, Ellie Patterson, is in Larkville hunting for a family she’s only just discovered she has. She and County Sheriff Jed Jackson have been firing sparks off each other but her long, slow recovery from an eating disorder has taken its toll and made her uncomfortable with intimacy. But Jed’s a rescuer and he wants Ellie to heal. He’s taken her on a ‘date’ to a rare wetland where the aquifer bubbles to the surface in drought-ridden Texas.

The sounds of DeputyDawg snuffling around and ducks quacking broke up the awkward silence.

‘Ellie…’ A warm hand on her shoulder turned her more fully back to him. She hadn’t even realized she’d turned away. ‘I meant that I couldn’t imagine a woman like you settling for being someone’s trophy wife.’

Heat spread up her throat. ‘Oh.’

‘You assumed I was saying I don’t think you’re worth trophy-status? Or attractive enough?’

She forced her eyes away, out to the sparkling blue water. Maybe there’d be a miracle and the aquifer would surge up and wash her away from this excruciating moment.

‘Can you literally not see it?’ he murmured.

The open honesty in his voice beckoned. Her heart thumped. She slowly brought her gaze back around. ‘I spent a really long time doubting every part of myself, Jed. And I know how I must have looked to people back then. It’s hard to forget that.’ And to forgive herself for letting it happen.

‘Back then.’ He stepped closer. Removed his sunglasses so that she could drown in his eyes instead of the aquifer. ‘You’re not that girl anymore.’

‘I’m still me inside.’

He stopped a foot away. ‘Take it from a man who never knew you before a few days ago, Ellie, and who doesn’t hold those past images in his head. You are—’ he struggled for the right word and her heart thumped harder at the caution in his voice‘—arresting. You might have detoured on your path to beautiful but you’re unquestionably here now. Has no-one ever said that before?’

The back of her shirt collar was fast becoming a furnace.

‘Or did you just not believe them?’

She took a breath. ‘They would have said anything.’

‘You think they were just trying to get into your bed?’

‘My bed. My inheritance. My seat on the board of Daddy’s company.’

He stared at her. ‘Wow. That’s a horrible way to live.’

She shrugged.

He stared. And stepped closer.

‘So, what happens when a man who isn’t interested in your money or your name tells you you’re beautiful? Do you believe him?’

‘I don’t know.’ She swallowed, though there was nothing to swallow. ‘Words are easy.’

‘What if he shows you?’ He closed the final inches between them, paused a hearts-breath away. ‘Would you believe him then?’

Words couldn’t come when you had no air. Ellie stared as Jed blazed sincerity down at her and the moment for protest passed. Then he lowered his head, turned it so that his hat wouldn’t get in the way, and stretched his neck toward her.

‘I’m supposed to be staying away from you,’ he breathed against her skin.

Her head swam; making sensible words was suddenly impossible. ‘Whose idea was that?’

Sensuous lips stretched back over perfect teeth. ‘DeputyDawg’s.’

All she had to do was shrink back, like she had a hundred times in New York on curbsides, in doorways, under lampposts, in elevators. The goodnight moment-of-truth. Step away, mutter something flippant and flee into the night. But, as Jed’s broad silhouette against the mid-morning sun bore down on her, both his hands out to the side as he made good on his promise not to touch her, Ellie couldn’t bring herself to evade him.

Euphoric lightness filled her before her chest tightened.

She didn’t want to escape. She wanted Jed to kiss her. And she wanted to kiss him back.

‘What does he know?’ she whispered. ‘He’s just a dog.’

He continued his slow sink, his body twisting forward so that only one part of them was going to touch, his eyes gripping hers the way his hands were careful not to. A tiny breath escaped his lips and brushed hers a bare millisecond before their mouths met.

His lips were soft and strong at the same time. Dry and deliciously moist.

Heat swirled around the only place they made contact, and Ellie’s head swam with his scent. His warm touch grew stronger, pressed harder, fixing her to him as though they were glued. She moved her mouth against his, experimenting, tasting. Exploring. He reciprocated, meeting her stretch half-way.

She made the tiniest sound of surprise low in her throat. Her stretch? But, sure enough, she stood tipped forward on her toes using every bit of her ballerina’s balance to make sure their lips didn’t separate.

To be in the draw to win a copy of Slow Dance with the Sheriff , tell Nikki what the most amazing wildlife experience you’ve ever had was.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from In His Eyes by Emmie Dark will be posted!

Aug 10, 2012

True Olympic Spirit

by Robyn Grady

Where would the world be without competitive spirit? The need to work hard, hone goals and achieve our personal best!

In between finishing my current manuscript, I’ve fit in some Olympic Games and big time squeeing. Australians are winning Gold, including superstar Sally Pearson, taking out the Women’s 100m Hurdles. Simply. Amazing.

Leaves you feeling inspired to purchase those top notch Asics and hit the gym, doesn’t it? Or even just pay more attention to getting fit. Remembering your health. Including a healthy attitude.

I haven’t seen nearly enough of the Games, but what has struck me, perhaps even more than the incredible abilities and tenacity of so many, is the camaraderie between athletes. A sense of sharing in joys and feeling for other athletes' defeat.

The world loves a winner! But our heart goes out to participants who don’t give up and those who support them.

Life lesson: Work hard, try your best, achieve your dreams if you can…but remember your team mates, cheer their successes, help when and where you can. That’s what makes a true champion.

Press play, turn up the volume and prepare to be inspired. 

Aug 8, 2012

Sugar Addict: The Update

by Michelle Douglas

Remember back in June when I said I was giving up sugar (specifically fructose) FOR TWO WHOLE MONTHS? Well, as promised, here’s my update.

My experiment began on the 11th of June, and it began well. The first three weeks were, frankly, a bit of a breeze. Mainly, I suspect, because I don’t actually eat a lot of sugar through the week, but I also didn’t feel deprived. I made sure of that. :-) One of my all-time favourite foods is fresh bread—rustic wholemeal, laden multigrain, light-as-air white, sourdough, rye, I’ll take them all—slathered in real butter. So, I gave up sugar-laden cereals, I gave up jam and honey, biscuits and cakes were shunned, but I didn’t give up bread. What’s more I threw out the margarine and bought real butter. Yum!

The tradition in my household is dessert on Sunday nights. Let me tell you, the moment a lemon self-saucing pudding emerges from the oven all gold and steam and smelling divine, it’s a beautiful sight. I always figured it’d be the weekends that would give me the trouble. Cheese and biscuits were substituted for sweet desserts instead. And, yes, they proved a worthy substitute. However, because two of us couldn’t eat an entire Camembert and Edam in one sitting, cheese and biscuits somehow became an after dinner treat two nights a week.

Did I lose weight in this first month?

Snort! What do you think? I was eating my own weight in bread and butter, and cheese and crackers—oh, and did I mention the Saturday morning bacon and eggs?

Ah, but did I gain weight?


I repeat, NO! And weirdly my uncomfortably tight jeans weren’t quite so tight.

The DH’s birthday fell in week 4 of my experiment. I cooked a devil’s food chocolate cake. I gifted him chocolate. I was only going to partake of the chocolate cake, and only on the evening of his birthday—one slice. Except, during the course of the afternoon I ate a few chocolates. Weeelll… And a couple of hours later I got the shakes. Weird, huh? I had my planned piece of chocolate cake that evening, though, to no ill effects. Umm…and I had a piece of chocolate cake the next night too. It was really, really yummy.

In the week following my DH’s birthday (still week 4) I had a girls’ day with my mother, sister and niece. We had lunch at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I piously avoided the sweet and sour Chinese sauces. I turned my head away from the dessert table with a commendable resolution. That evening while soaking in the tub and congratulating myself on my strength of character I suddenly realised I’d had a shandy at lunch (one of our girls’ day traditions). I’d drunk half a schooner glass full of lemonade—do you know how much fructose is in soft drink! My smugness gurgled down the drainpipe with the bath water.

I spent the next seven days craving something sweet. I wanted chocolate, doughnuts, jelly babies, shortbread creams, cinnamon teacake, caramel syrup, violet crumbles and marshmallows. Food ads on TV were murder. I resisted, though not always with good grace I fear. I don’t know if the cravings were caused from the sugar I’d consumed the previous week or due to hormones or simply the fact that I’d hit the halfway mark in my experiment.

The cravings eased off and at the end of week 6 I cooked a fructose-free cinnamon teacake. It was pretty damn yummy, and well received by the DH (who wasn’t taking part in my experiment). He said it tasted like real cake, not a cake substitute. I found it very filling.

The cravings remained at bay for the remainder of my two months. On the weekend just gone, my sister-in-law came to stay—two blocks of chocolate were consumed but I didn’t have a single square. And, truly, I wasn’t even particularly tempted.

So, the overall results?

The cravings have stopped. That said I do still have the odd fleeting thought that a Golden Rough or a glazed doughnut could be nice. Having limited all things sweet hasn’t made me completely uninterested in all things sweet (I did suspect that claim in the Sweet Poison Quit Plan would prove false). However, I do feel full for longer after a meal now and I no longer go searching the fridge or the pantry for something to eat an hour or two after I’ve last eaten.

On the weight front, I've lost a kilogram—even given the fact I’m eating bread and butter and bacon and eggs and cheese and crackers (and just in case you’re worried, I am eating loads of veggies too). Plus I’ve rarely exercised these past two months where previously I’d been managing a 40-minute walk 3 times a week (hey, it’s been cold and wet and winter).
I no longer get the weak, shaky feeling I often used to get in the afternoons in my pre-sugar days. Plus, my concentration span seems to have increased (go figure).

However, I doubt replacing the sugar in my diet with saturated fat is a smart long-term strategy. :-) In the future I won’t be avoiding sugar with the diligence of the last two months, but I’ll work on saving the Tim Tams and doughnuts for very occasional treats.

And just to test my willpower, go ahead and tell me what your favourite party food is. :-) I want to find out if it gets my saliva glands hitting overdrive.