Feb 27, 2013

Health Food?

by Emmie Dark

Hi Lovecatters! As you might remember from my last post, I've recently been lucky enough to have spent several weeks in the USA. In fact I'm only just back, still struggling with the jetlag -- I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 4am, but at 4pm I want nothing more than to crawl under the doona...

I mentioned in my last post that I enjoyed some fantastic food while I was in Texas. I actually had amazing food everywhere in the States. But when you're travelling it can't be beer and ribs every night, so occasionally you do need to seek out healthier options. Luckily that's pretty easy to do in California, where places like Cafe Gratitude not only cook vegan, organic food, but name all their dishes as "affirmations" so every time you place an order, you're putting out good vibes into the universe.
I was (still am!) in love with the "I Am Grace" smoothie. I'm not a dairy person, so smoothies have never been my thing. But this smoothie (made with coconut milk) was so amazing -- like drinking cake!! I've bought all the ingredients to see if I can replicate it at home -- although I doubt I'll be able to get that true LA vibe right in my kitchen.

(I have an idea to set up a Cafe Gratitude for Authors. The dishes would be called things like "I Am Published" and "I Have An Amazing Agent" and "My Book Is On Shelves Now".)

In LA, I had no problems finding cafes and restaurants cooking vegan, vegetarian, organic -- and, most importantly, making it absolutely delicious.

On the flip side, you can't always be so righteous. And sometimes, deliciousness must rule. Like arguably the best brunch spot in Palm Springs: Cheeky's. (Unfortunately the website doesn't provide you with the logo that appears on the waiting staff's uniforms. It features two monkeys and it's, well, very cheeky.) Check out the totally awesome offer from Cheeky's:
You've heard of a wine flight, right? Well, how about a BACON flight from the BACON BAR to keep your breakfast not only delicious but educational as well?

Hmm, maybe that's what I need this morning to get my jet lag under control. Some bacon. Mmm. And a smoothie. Yes, that's what I need. And it'll be healthy, won't it? The healthy smoothie and the less-healthy bacon cancel each other out, don't they?? ;)

Feb 25, 2013

An Idea Or Two......

 By Helen Lacey

I love hearing from readers and really enjoy talking about writing and about the story they’ve just read. It’s a wonderful feeling when a reader becomes so involved they ask about the characters and where the idea for the book came from.

And my answer is always the same ….. Where do ideas come from? Well, everywhere.

As an example, in my latest Harlequin Special Edition release His-And-Hers Family, I got the idea from a family friend whose cousin gave her baby up for adoption when she was just fifteen. From this one conversation I started thinking about what might happen if she had a chance to reconnect with that child many years later. So, the story was born by asking a whole series of ‘what if’s’.

In another book I wrote recently, watching a television special on the ABC late one night about twin sisters who were separated as toddlers and then found one another again when they were thirty, got me asking myself the same ‘what if’ question. As I watched the show I discovered that these sisters had experienced many similar things in their life – like they married a man with the same first name and both had a operation on the same day . It wasn't long after watching this show that the idea for the book developed and was then written.
But it’s not only in writing where ideas abound. I have a friend who is an interior designer. She can look at and old piece of furniture, imagine it restored and immediately see that piece fitting into the home of a client. Me, well I just see an old piece of furnitureJ. She can merge colours together and knows exactly what lighting, what art and what floor coverings will work. And guess where she gets her ideas from . . .  everywhere. From books, from television, from other people. 

The best part is, ideas are free. They can come when we least expect them, or when we’ve been studying something long and hard. And they make us unique, because we all have different ideas that come from our different experiences and our different lives.

What about you – have you ever seen a gardening show and thought you might like to plant a veggie patch in your own yard? Have you ever witnessed a picture perfect sunset and thought you might like to paint it. Or grabbed your camera to snap a photo that begged to be taken? Do you have an new idea just begging to take hold? I'd love to hear if you're about to embark on a new adventure or embrace a new idea.

Feb 24, 2013

Sunday Smooch with Lee Christine ..........

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch Lee Christine  ........,

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway  will be announced next week.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from In Safe Hands by Lee Christine........

Threatened with the publication of naked photographs taken in her law student days, defence attorney Allegra Greenwood enlists the help of former SAS Commander Luke Neilson, unaware of his involvement in her brother’s death in Afghanistan.
In a race to stop the photographs appearing on the Internet, Luke battles a hidden enemy, his growing feelings for Allegra, and his conscience, which demands he protect a fallen comrade’s sister. As the stakes increase and more sinister motives unfold, Luke not only has to fight to save her career, he has to fight to save her life.

Scene set-up: [Allegra has agreed for Luke to move in as her bodyguard. He’s told her to meet him after work in the lobby of her office building, and greet him as a lover. “If he thinks you’re not alone, he’ll be forced to change his game plan.” Luke tells her. “It’ll buy us more time.”]

In the outer office the elevator doors sighed open, and Allegra stepped inside. Jabbing the button for Ground, she closed her eyes against the descending numbers, a light show in red that compounded her headache.

The computerised voice announced, ‘Ground Level’ and she stepped into the modernistic steel and glass foyer, stilettos tapping out a staccato rhythm on the marble tiles. Housing the US Consulate, the building was considered a terrorist target, its top line security the only reason Luke was satisfied leaving her at work.

Her heartbeat changed rhythm as she caught sight of him across the lobby. He’d changed into black jeans and a long-sleeved black ribbed shirt. The fine knit clung to the outline of his body, a perfect contrast to his fair hair.

Gripped by a sudden excitement she couldn’t deny, she smiled and walked over to him. “Hi!”

He sucked the air between his teeth and studied the bruise on her forehead. “Looks like you’ve gone a few rounds in the ring, counsellor.”

Then he winked and one corner of his mouth curved up. “Hi yourself.”

His hands skimmed down her arms, and she shivered, tilting her face to look up at him. His eyes sparkled, just as they had the night on the terrace, and a heady jolt of awareness ripped through her central nervous system at his close proximity. She put her hands on his chest, steadying herself, bunches of well defined muscles moving beneath her fingertips.

And then he coaxed her closer to his warmth, and she was there, savouring every sensation as her cheek pressed into the hollow of his shoulder and warm lips skimmed her temple. Allegra closed her eyes for a beat or two, a seductive whiff of fresh, clean male scrambling her sensory receptors.

Then stubble grazed her cheek as he dipped his head and warm, firm lips pressed against hers. 

Oh God!

Shockwaves of heat dispersed throughout her body, melting her insides, and this time she didn’t pull away, just surrendered to the heady warmth of his lingering kiss.

It’s an act. It’s all an act.

A charade for the benefit of your tormentor.

An irrational jealousy targeted at the faceless women he willingly kissed, clawed at her as he lifted his head and relinquished possession of her lips. As they turned towards the revolving door, she kept her eyes trained on him, tempted though she was to scan the face of every passing stranger.

Outside, they merged with the moving river of jaded office workers, purpose written on their faces in their determined rush to exit the city.

As they headed towards the car, she felt his arm come around her waist, his warm lips against her ear sending aftershocks of pleasure radiating through her body.

“What do you know? Finally managed to snag that kiss after all.”

In Safe Hands is published by Harlequin Escape......

To win an eCopy of In Safe Hands by Lee Christine, leave a comment and anser to this question  - Whos is your favourite military hero from a TV series, movie or book, and why?

The winner will be announced next week and a Smooch from Sandra Antonelli will be posted.....


Feb 22, 2013

Look Who's Talking!

A couple of months ago I was browsing in my local bookstore with a friend and got into a nice chat with the store owner about books, romance and...my books.

'An author?' She beamed. 'How marvelous! Would you consider doing an author evening for me?'
The ever-willing to please English part of me jumped centre stage and before I knew what I was doing I'd agreed to a romance-themed talk to be held the day before Valentine's Day...ages away. Months to plan...lots of time to think up humorous repartee....insightful tidbits...

Fast forward those couple of months, I'm on a camping holiday and receive an email from my editor asking if I could possibly bring forward my book deadline to 12th February as they had a publishing gap they wanted to fill. The book was nowhere near completion but I thought I could commit to head down and focusing on nothing but that- oh, and the holiday I was on for another 6 days (without a laptop), the new kitchen I was scheduled to be renovating immediately on our return, organising the kids back to school for the new school year, my husband's accounts, and those 1001 things a parent has to do generally, every day. I thought I'd just about manage it (with the help of a lot of chardonnay), so gleefully sent back an effusive yes.

As I sent that email another one pinged into my inbox from a nice book store owner reminding me of my speaking commitment and telling me how excited she was about the upcoming talk. Could I confirm?

No problem. That infuriatingly English part of me surfaced again- can't let anyone down now!

So there I was on the morning of February 13th, flustered but relieved to have hit my deadline, surrounded by displaced pots, pans and cutlery, name tags and other stationery debris, and floundering around trying to think of witty stories, helpful anecdotes and a general plan for a talk. Just a small one. Any plan. Please.... what to talk about?

See, I'm a writer. Not a speaker. I spend all day every day at home, on my own, in silence, talking to people in my head. I HATE speaking in public, I'm not overly keen speaking in small groups, I panic when I see everyone's attention focused on me. When I actually do speak to real people (strangers in particular) I cringe at my nervous stutter, the words that get lost somewhere between my brain and my lips, and things seem to get worse the more I say.

The only witty things that ever occur come out of my heroine's mouth. She's big and brave and feisty. She's confident (and tall and blonde and everything that I'm not) and has that wonderful youthful glow that faded from me a long time ago. Spontaneity just doesn't happen.

I could write a speech, but not a talk. And it was supposed to be all about me.

ACK!  The more I thought about it, the worse I felt, and the more I couldn't think of anything to tell them. I had a dozen false starts on various scraps of paper. And then nothing. Nothing that I thought might be of interest or useful.

But I'd made a promise, so I had to turn up at the allotted time and say something.  I drove to the store, my heart thumping, palms sweaty, and put on my best smile. As the audience arrived I was introduced to each person and they all nodded and smiled and looked at me with such hope. I was put on a stool in the centre of a semi circle. Staring at those eager faces I just wanted to cry- what on earth could I say that would entertain and inform them?

But they'd made the effort to come to see me instead of doing the zillion other things they could have chosen. So I did what my heroines do. I pulled on my big girl's pants, took a deep breath and jumped in (oh, and the half glass of bubbles helped!). I started to talk about my journey to publication, about romance and what I loved about it, about publishing and the way it's changing, about books and how much I love them. About writing and how, once you start, it's impossible to stop. And you know, they all smiled. Nodded, joined in. Laughed. Asked questions. Asked more questions. And suddenly we were an hour in and I was not just able to answer their questions, but found myself relaxing and enjoying it. We all shared a passion for stories, we all had a story to tell. And spending time with these lovely women was actually fun.

Not that I'm planning to do it again in a hurry!

But I wonder now what I was so scared about. Being enthusiastic about something you love comes easily whether with one person or a dozen, or a hundred. Having no-one fall asleep was a bonus! And I received a lovely gift- the flowers above and some yummy chocolates to show their appreciation.

So now I've signed up to do a speaking in public course for writers...hopefully that will help with the next time (if there is one!)

Do you like speaking in public? Have you ever been forced to do something you really didn't want to do? If so- how did that turn out for you? Was it better or worse than you imagined?

Feb 20, 2013

New Authors and Different Genres - Annie West

I told myself that 2013 would be the year I read more. During 2012 I found myself caught up in so many things that didn't really leave me time for reading. It sounds terrible, and it was, especially as I firmly believe that losing myself  in other people's fictional worlds is a terrific way to 'fill the well' and keep fresh as an author. Besides, there's the fact that reading is and always has been my favourite pastime! So just before Christmas I made sure to tell my family about some of the books I'd like to try by new-to-me authors. I'd heard about their books and they'd struck a chord. I'd been meaning to try them, in one case for several years, in the other for just eighteen months. I told you my reading had been disrupted!

Since then I've been fitting in more reading (though my to be read pile is still teetering). As well as romances by some fabulous authors, I've been delving into crime and mystery and having such a lovely time. I'm sure part of the reason is that in each case I'm taken to a completely different world and get to lose myself there. The Boris Akunin books are fantastic fun for lovers of history and old stories. It's years since I read Tolstoy but opening these modern mysteries I felt transported back to a fascinating nineteenth century world. They feature European empires complete with sabre-wielding soldiers, intricate political plots, devilishly complicated spy rings and the occasional mythically alluring femme fatale.

In the first book, The Winter Queen, it was fun to read about a detective who was young, inexperienced and, despite his intellect, gullible. These days I find myself sighing a little over the predictability of stories where the detective is inevitably overweight, middle-aged and cynical. So reading about Erast Fandorin's adventures in Russia, London and the Balkans has been something completely different.

I've also been reading some contemporary mysteries but again, in a world very different to my own. In 2011 I spent a wonderful holiday in the Perigord region of France (south west of Paris, around the Dordogne River). While waiting all day for a connection at Orly airport I picked up an English language paper and read a review of a book, in English, about a small town policeman in the Perigord and it sounded intriguing.

This new year I've been delving into a series of books set in the gorgeous countryside of France. The books are full of food as well as mysteries and fascinating characters. For me, eager to get back to that lovely area, it's a way of vicariously visiting without leaving home, and trying to guess the story behind the mystery as well. I don't know whether branching out so much from romance will have any effect on my writing (no, I'm not planning to include a murder in my next book) but it's a treat trying new authors and visiting new worlds.

How about you? Do you stick to one genre or do you read across lots? Perhaps you like a variety of romance styles. Have you picked up a new author recently and got hooked?

Feb 17, 2013

Meet Sandra Antonelli!

Sandra Antonelli's first book, A Basic Renovation, has just come out with Escape Publishing, so I asked her if she'd drop by and say hello.

Welcome, Sandra! So glad you could visit us here at the LoveCats.

Thank you for having me! I’m absolutely tickled to be here!

Tell us a bit about New Mexico, where A Basic Renovation is set.

Bear with me on this. New Mexico is in the Southwestern part of the USA. One might think that means desert, but the Rocky Mountains move through the centre of the state, and while there are portions that are desert, the mountains are lush and green—and surrounded by mesas vistas that make you think of cowboy movies—in fact lots of cowboy movies are filmed in New Mexico. 

The town Los Alamos has a secret past. It was once the site of a ranch school for boys (the author Gore Vidal went there) before the location was taken over by the US government during WWII. The town then became the site of the Manhattan Project, the secret mission to build the world’s first nuclear bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy. If you lived or worked in the town, or were married to someone who worked in the town, you needed ID to get in. There was a guard tower and military police. All the mail went down to one location in Santa Fe. 

After the war, the town was ‘declassified’ and became the site of the government run Los Alamos National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility that still operates. Oddly enough, Los Alamos has the highest concentration of people holding PhDs per capita (this actually relates to your next question). It is a lovely town in the ‘middle of nowhere’ as it is 45 minutes to the closest city, Santa Fe. I had family living in Los Alamos. The town is peaceful, breath-takingly beautiful, and one would never know that classified nuclear research goes on behind all nature’s splendor.

A Basic Renovation is a contemporary rom-com and it’s about… Hang on, I’ll post the blurb:


When it comes down to it, rats in the oven trumps Lesley’s desire to never set eyes on another Brennan family member. So Lesley, a pro at property redevelopment, scrambles to Dominic Brennan’s hardware store for supplies. 

Dominic knows poison — rat and otherwise — and he sees it in Lesley. The woman ruined his brother’s life. Now that she’s back in town, Dominic’s afraid she’ll drag up the past, the secrets, and the pain. They clash immediately, but mix in a teenage boy, a puppy, some white paint, and some loud music, and what starts as cold fury transforms into a nuclear attraction. 

This basic renovation becomes a major life refurbishment for them both.

Where did the idea for such a fun plot come from?

Again, I have to give more background about Los Alamos. A bush fire back in 2000 swept through the town. The little city of 18,000 was evacuated. Over 400 homes were destroyed. I visited shortly after that (with a video camera) and went through one neighbourhood where every house had burnt down—except for one. Someone—the owner I’m guessing—had put at sign out in front of that house. The sign said: Last One Standing. I saw that sign and knew I had the makings of a story. I knew I’d have to have that house, a character with a PhD, and something about fire, and Los Alamos’ nuclear history. Love can feel pretty fiery and atomic sometimes.

I love that your characters are a little older than the average romance hero and heroine. Dominic and Lesley are fully rounded and come with life experiences that make them interesting and relatable. Why did you choose to write about characters their age?

Somewhere around 30, I got tired of reading about characters in their 20s. To be honest, I couldn’t quite relate to twenty-somethings when I was in my 20s because they didn’t have enough life experience to be interesting to me—unless it was in historical romance where age was bound by the era when the novel took place. But I had a preference for reading contemporary romance, and as I got older I realised people in their 30s and 40s and 50s were still out there looking for love, still making mistakes, still trying to get life right. 

It also annoyed me that if I wanted to read about a female protagonist with more life experience and a little bit more age mileage while she was finding love, I was suddenly directed to Women’s Fiction, where romance was more of a subplot rather than THE plot. My choice was to keep on bitching about it, or to write the sort of story I wanted to read. That’s what I did with A Basic Renovation.

You say you write ‘Quirky Romance Novels for Grown Ups…and Smart Asses’. What’s that about?

The grown up part is easy. I write older characters finding love for the first, second or third time. The smart-ass part…I think that says more about me and my sense of humour. I’m part 13 year-old boy, part sarcastic woman. I like irreverent, out of place or black humour. People look at me and see a petite blonde with a high, thin voice, and little kid feet, all of which supposedly means I couldn’t possibly cuss or be sarcastic or smart-assy. Maybe smart-ass is the way I counteract the behaviour expected of me. Maybe I have a Napoleon complex.

We’re always looking for book recommendations here at the LoveCats – what’s the last romance you read that you loved?

It was an Historical—Jo Goodman’s The Last Renegade. By the way, Rachel, did you know Jo Goodman has a heroine named Rachel Bailey in Never Love A Lawman?

Actually, I have seen that! I must get a copy. Thanks for dropping by to chat about your book, Sandra - it's been fun. :)

If you'd like to check A Basic Renovation out, you can get it at Amazon (for the ridiculously low price of $0.99), Amazon UK, iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, or from the Escape site. Or check out her website for more interesting snippets.

So, now I'm wondering - what do you all think about women in their 40's being the star of romance novels. Would you read one? Or do you prefer your heroines in their 20's and 30's?

Sunday Smoch with Paula Roe ........

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Paula Roe, but first ...

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

Can you please contact  Robyn Grady at ....... robyn-grady (at) hotmail (dot) com to recieve your copy of A Wedding She'll Never Forget.......

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Moonlit Encounters by the fabulous Paula Roe ........

New Yorker and Christmas-phobe Annie Ellis may be jilted and penniless in a foreign country, but she's no damsel in distress! And with Yulefest in full swing, it's more than enough for local Aussie Noah Greene to handle...

Scene set-up: [Annie, has just given her cheating ex a mouthful and she’s feeling pretty buzzed about it.]

Triumph swelled with each step Damon took, until he finally disappeared from view and I let loose the wide grin that’d been itching to get out.

“Yessss!” I pumped the air, my skin buzzing. “God, that felt great!” I launched myself at a smiling Noah, wrapping my arms around his neck in triumph.

We laughed. We hugged. And then I planted a swift, victorious kiss on his lips.

We both stopped laughing.

Yeah, my arms were still around him and he was holding me off the ground because he was so damn tall. Our faces were so close I could feel the surprised rush of his warm breath on my lips. Lips that were tingling from my impromptu kiss.

He slowly released me, and I slid down until my feet touched the ground with a clack of heels.


Then he leaned down and kissed me.

Just like that. Without warning, with no ‘can I?’ or ‘do you mind if-?’ Just one hand at the back of my neck pulling me in, then his warm mouth covering mine.

It was hot, wet and very, very good.

No, it was excellent.

And when he finally released me, his hand grasped my wrist then linked his fingers in mine.

My insides gave a loud cheer. Hand-holding was so underrated.

“Wow,” I breathed.

He chuckled, sending a shiver down my spine. Boy, what the man could do with just his voice! “That good, was it?”

“It was...” I searched for a word. Nothing. “Yes.”

“‘It was ‘yes’? Best review ever.”

Moonlit Encounters is out now – on e at Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes. You can also buy a hard copy at Amazon, too.
Paula will be giving away a copy of her latest Harlequin Desire, A Precious Inheritance....
Leave a comment to the following question to go into the draw ..... Annie was definitely not expecting a hero or a kiss, what’s been your best surprise?

Come back next week and the winner will announced and smooch from In Safe Hands by Entngled author Lee Christine will be posted.

Feb 15, 2013

Frivolous Friday!

Looking for Romance!

With Valentine's Day just gone, I thought we'd strike a nice romantic note for our blog today!

Make Your Own Word Search

So did you do anything special  yesterday... or was anything special done for you?

I have to say that I got an absolutely smashing umbrella from Harlequin - how lovely was that!  Perfect for the grey, thunder-stormy day we had here for Valentine's Day. Though... I'm still waiting for some rain so I can really put it to good use!

Here's a picture... 

 Hope you have some fun with our puzzle!

Feb 13, 2013

Colloquialisms -- Yes or No?

by Michelle Douglas

Earlier in the month I received one of the best reviews I’ve ever had (if you want, you can read the entire review here). It’s not reviews I want to talk about today, though, but an author’s voice, which this particular review has started me pondering. In her second last paragraph the reviewer says:

Michelle Douglas has a wonderful earthy style, writing in Australian English and drawing from her homeland the rhythms, the warmth and the space between what is realistic and what is possible. (If you're not used to the differences between American and Australian English, it may be a bit of a curve.)

Obviously I write in Australian English, because I’m Australian. :-) And when I first started writing I clung tightly to my Australian colloquialisms and speech patterns.


I like the way Australians speak. I like the unique and, often, colourful expressions my fellow countrymen utter. Very often this is the way I hear my characters (particularly my heroes) speaking inside my head.

And in homage to Aussie slang, here is a fine sampling:
* Her words hit him for a six.
* She’d grabbed the rough end of the stick there.
* She’s such a sticky beak.
* She didn’t give a flying fig.
* He’s a sandwich short of a picnic.
* Those are as scarce as hens teeth.
* She was as happy as Larry.
* She stared at him like a stunned mullet.
* He couldn’t take a trick.
* He was determined to be first cab off the rank.

I worry that language is becoming intolerably generic. Personally I like stumbling across a phrase I’ve never heard before and trying to work out what it means from the context it’s been used in, and I know I’m not alone in that.


I’m starting to soften my stance.


I hate the idea of excluding anyone from my stories, of not including them in any in-jokes or making it difficult for them to understand the dynamics between my characters. When I wrote my Masters thesis—yes, I used formal language—but I deliberately shunned language that would make it difficult for a layperson to understand. By holding so tightly to my Australian colloquialisms, am I not doing precisely this—making it difficult for a person unfamiliar with the Australian vernacular to take part in my stories?

It’s occurred to me, however, that this isn’t an either-or situation. I can choose to tone down the Australian vernacular in my stories, but it doesn’t mean I can’t use lively and energetic expressions that will just as easily get my point across without baffling anyone (I hope).

Thoughts, anyone? Or perhaps you have a favourite colloquial expression of your own you’d like to share—beware, though, I may use it in my very next story. ;-)

Feb 11, 2013

Come meet my friends

It’s been a typically crazy weekend in the DeLeo house, lots of sports, sleepovers here and away, and I’ve also had two special friends visit with their kids. Coincidentally, both these friends are called Heather and they’re two women who constantly inspire me so I thought I’d tell you about them.

Heather One came for dinner  Friday night with her three kids. She’s the sort of person who makes me feel exhausted even writing down what she achieves in a day. She’s the solo mum of three kids—twin girls and a boy—and has been parenting alone for the past eight years. She works full time in a very demanding job, grows an incredible vegie garden, has her own chooks, keeps bees, and is always planning the next enriching experience for her children. 

On top of all that this Heather has lost 65 kilos (no that wasn’t a mis-type, 65 kilos!). In the last year Heather has become half herself and it’s given her a whole new lease on life and a whole new level of energy.  Heather inspires me because she’s always ready to meet a challenge head-on. She’s self-reliant, fiercely loyal, and she makes the most of every single day.

It was stinking hot on Sunday afternoon and Heather Number Two popped around with her two beautiful daughters for a swim. Heather has been deaf from birth and communicates through sign language and lip reading. Her husband is also profoundly deaf, but both their children have perfect hearing. 

Heather Number Two inspires me for the way she navigates in a world of constant challenge. She’s brought up the most well-mannered, communicative and happy children and despite struggling with everything from work to socialising in a hearing world, is always positive and engaging.

Friends, especially my girlfriends, are incredibly important to me. I couldn't imagine a life without sharing hopes and fears with people I trust, but I'm also constantly inspired by the way my friends make the most of their lives. I love a fictional heroine who works through the challenges life throws at her, but I'm always heartened by the fact that there are so many women like that in the real world too.

I'd love to hear about a friend or someone who particularly inspires you.

Feb 10, 2013

Sunday Smooch!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

The winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway from Nicole Flockton and Bound By Her Ring is Jane B!

Jane, please contact Nicole at nicole@nicoleflockton.com and she will arrange your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from A Wedding She'll Never Forget by Robyn Grady.

Remembrance of Things Passionate                                                        

She's been making the "right" decisions all her life. But after elite D.C. event planner Scarlet Anders meets self-made billionaire Daniel McNeal—a rowdy, sexy male who laughs in the face of society—she wishes she could make different choices.

Then she trips over a tangled wedding veil and everything changes. Because the resulting memory loss turns prim-and-proper Scarlet into carefree Scarlet. She jumps at Daniel's offer of a wild affair. Yet when her memory returns, she realizes she's in love with this man—but is he willing to give her a wedding of her own?

[Set-up]  After Scarlet has made herself clear - she isn't interested in Daniel or his live-for-today type - he is dropping her home. He's told her a little about his background and has asked about her parents.

"They live in Georgetown, too," she said.
"Not too close for you?"
"We're a close family. In a healthy way. I make my own decisions. You know. Run my own life."
He chuckled. "Don't try so hard to convince me."
She fell quiet before adding, "Truth is…sometimes they do jump in with an opinion. But I guess most mothers are like that. Overly protective."
He inhaled deeply, then swallowed that damn ache again.
The GPS gave a few more instructions before he pulled up outside a block of upmarket town houses. The rain had stopped so he shut down the wipers. When he left the engine running, however, she seemed surprised.
"You're not seeing me to the door?"
"You don't want me to."
"Wow. You really are trying." Then she cocked her head. "Unless this is a reverse psychology thing where pulling back is supposed to draw me deeper into your web."
He held up his hands. "No webs. I didn't even see the latest Spider-Man flick. Yet."
"I've seen it twice. Right through to the very last credit."
"Well, a movie's not over until you've scanned the hundred names under visual effects."
"Now you're mocking me."
She tried to hide a grin. "And here I was thinking you were the type who enjoyed getting a rise out of poor unsuspecting folk like me."
"Only if I'm sure they won't belt me."
"Then I should warn you I have a power right hook."
"Which is why I have only the utmost respect for you."
That twinge of a grin grew. "You do, huh?"
"Yeah." He paused. "I really do."
Her eyes were so bright. In the light filtering through her window, her face appeared almost luminous. Free of pretense. Even vulnerable.
Then, as if realizing that vulnerability, Scarlet's smile faded. At the same time, the space separating them seemed to shrink. That sense of sharing—of connecting—changed…spiraled wider, tunneled deeper. And then he was looking at her in a way he'd vowed that he wouldn't.
The tips of his fingers curled around the leather of the steering wheel. He wouldn't act on the need. Even when that superior force building inside of him was so strong…like a big wave curling over his head, pushing him forward, giving him no choice but to leave his sense of reason behind in the wash.
But in his heart of hearts, Daniel knew. Logic had never been the issue here. Not for either of them.
He edged closer.
When his mouth slanted over hers, her eyes drifted shut and those sweet lips parted on a sigh. Any second, he expected her to pull back. Slap his face. But as one heartbeat bled into the next, she only dissolved against him more as if she wanted him to know that she agreed. Despite her objections, this coming together was always going to happen.
His hand found the curve of her neck, the fast but steady beat of a pulse. As his tongue twined with hers, his fingers combed up to cradle the back of her head. They pressed closer, the kiss deepened and his desire to know more—take more—began to burn in his mind like a torch.
When their lips gradually parted, Daniel didn't sense anger. Certainly not disgust. As his gaze searched her face in the shadows, his hand slid around to cup her hot cheek. The pad of his thumb grazed the moist rim of her lower lip. Slowly her heavy-lidded eyes met his.
"You can't ever do that again," she said.
"That would entail never seeing you again."
"If that's what it takes."
He wanted to laugh. Man, was she stubborn.
"I respect that you don't want to blur the lines between personal and your business commitment to Caroline's wedding," he assured her. "And I heard that you've dated some guy with a digit at the end of his name—"
"I'm engaged," she cut in, and that still-wet bottom lip quivered. "To be married."
His gut kicked. That didn't compute. She was kidding. Had to be.
"I don't believe you," he said.
"We haven't made the announcement. Everett only asked me last night. The ring is being resized. It's an heirloom."
Daniel fell away, gripped the wheel. What the?
He growled, "Spare me the details."
But there was one thing he did want to know. Why was she marrying a guy she didn't love? Because, while he'd never experienced that emotion himself, Daniel was bloody sure if he'd wanted someone enough to pop the question, he wouldn't be kissing someone else, not for any reason.
Still, that hardly made him a white knight in this situation. If he hadn't kept on. Hadn't insisted on this lift but had left her to stand there alone in the rain…
Shutting his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose.
"I apologize," he said. "I'm not a good loser."
"I'm a far worse fiancée." Her head went back against the rest and, as if she were sick to her stomach, she groaned. "Bad doesn't come close to describing how I feel."
"I take responsibility—"
"No. It's my fault." She looked across at him with a gaze that was turned more inward than out. "You see, when I said I didn't trust you, what I should have said…what I should have understood was that I didn't trust myself."

Robyn is giving away a copy of A Wedding She'll Never Forget. To get into the spirit of Valentine's Day, leave a comment telling us what you have planned for Thursday...or what you'd like to have planned for you!
You can learn more about Robyn's latest releases at www.robyngrady.com or follow her on Twitter at @robyngrady
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from bestselling Desire author, Paula Roe, will be posted!

Feb 8, 2013

Wedding Excitment with Sue MacKay

Summer brings the sun and blue skies, warmth and calm seas. (Not mentioning the unseasonal snow we had earlier this week.) And it also brings weddings. The beautiful brides in ther gorgeous gowns and their stunning looking grooms scrubbed up for their best clobber.

This week is a busy one for us as we're going to a wedding on Saturday. We've got friends staying for most of the week who're also attending this wedding and all the functions associated with it. Seems weddings are more than the main ceremony and celebration nowadays. We've got a dinner on Friday as a warm up, and on Sunday a wind down brunch which the men are cooking.

This wedding is being held at a local resort and the bride is arriving by boat while the groom and his sidekicks are coming on jetskiies. James Bond? I might get to shake hands with Daniel Craig yet. Forget shaking hands. I'd be throwing myself at him.

Last week I went fishing with my man to get Blue Cod for the Sunday brunch and then yesterday he took the groom and two guests out to get scallops to go with the cod. They had a fabulous day out on the briny, more about telling tales on each other than hauling the shellfish from what I heard as I opened a couple of hundred of the delicious delicacies when they got back.

I've been shopping for a dress and the matching nail polish and lippie, not to mention the shoes. Had to wear the shoes around the house a few times to take that edge off them, if you know what I mean. All this adds to the building excitment. And while the men were out on the boat my girlfriend and I have been mulling over what to make for the wrap up dinner we're having here for the bride's family on Sunday night. In the midst of this the bride to be spent an hour here yesterday letting steam over all the things that weren't going exactly to a very rigid plan. Mounting tensions that will dissipate on the day. Fingers crossed.
For the last four months my office has been the storage space for all the wine and beer for the function. Very tempting on days when my writing was not going well, but I managed to resist. And now I have my office back to normal. Rather boring really. But I will get to sample the bubbles tomorrow.

I love weddings, big and small. All that romance and glam. The anticipation and excitment. Bring it on.
 I love imagining how the couple met and wondering if they knew instantly that this person was The One or whether that came later.
Are you going to a wedding this summer? Or already been to one?
Tell me what you enjoyed the most. I will send a copy of You Me and a Family to someone next month.