Jul 19, 2018

Vacation Reading

by Bronwyn Jameson

Despite a succession of cold foggy midwinter days, I'm forcing myself toward optimism. Because winter is halfway done...or, if you're in the other hemisphere, the summer heat is halfway done.  We're all on our way out of the extremes and heading toward the enticements of spring and fall.  My favourite seasons.  Yay!

We all have our favourite season(s) and I've been pondering the concept of seasonal reading.  This was driven by the sharing, a month or two back, of several lists of recommended Summer (or Beach) Reads.  This year I garnered at least six new titles/authors for my TBR list, saved for possible purchase for my next vacation reading binge.

On holidays, whether that's a grand adventure with long plane trips (excellent for reading!) or a staycation (equally excellent for reading!), I do choose books that are a little different to my norm.  I want something absorbing, entertaining, unputdownable. Something that adds to the vacation feel by removing me from my usual pattern.  My usual mood.  My usual genre ... that being traditional romance, mostly category or shorter length titles, from trusted authors and/or series.

My vacation reads may include a dark thriller, a family saga packed with secrets and drama, a fun frothy chic-litty comedy, or a slice-of-life told with an engrossing voice.  There may be a once-a-year title by a favourite author, or it may be completely new-to-me, chosen from the blurb or title or buzz.

I've included a few covers from this year's Summer/Beach Reading recommendations and a couple of new titles by author favourites.  Have you read any of these?

Do you read different genres or types of books when on holidays?  

What does the term "Beach Reads" conjure up (apart from sand between the pages or sunscreen smeared on your Kindle screen)?

Jul 15, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

 Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Amy Andrews but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Veronica!

Can you please contact Helen Lacey at helenlaceyauthor (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of The Secret Son's Homecoming.

 And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Playing Dirty.......


Sydney Smoke star recruit Kyle Leighton can’t believe the best sex of his life was just a one-night stand. He didn’t even know her name… Until she shows up at the locker room two weeks later and he connects the dots.

 Val King. Oh shit.

Coach has one hard and fast rule: Never, ever date (much less f*ck ten ways to Sunday) his daughter. And not only did Kyle break that rule, but he wants to break it over and over again. In the shower. Against a wall. On every flat surface in his home.

But the coach and his daughter share more than just DNA. Their issues run deep and fooling around with her could widen the family chasm. And get Kyle benched for life.

So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Flirting with her? Suggesting they date for real and damn the consequences?

Scene set-up

Val has just let Kyle pick her up in a bar. She knows he's her father's star new recruit to the Sydney Smoke rugby team, but he has no clue she's his boss's daughter. 
And that she's a whole lotta off limits.
She's gone back to his place for some sexy fun times because it is her birthday and because its the ultimate screw you to her father. She knows she's going to hate herself in the morning but right now is all that matters. Right now and their first kiss....

Touch. She had to touch him. A distant siren wailed in through the open glass doorway. A wise person might have taken it as some kind of portent, but Val was too far gone to pay any heed.
She took the one step required to bring her body up against his and swore she heard the sizzle as her nipples came into contact with the smooth hardness of his chest. She certainly heard the quick, rough intake of his breath. Rising to her toes, she slid her hands around his neck, their mouths so very, very close.
But there were parts of them that were closer. Val was excruciatingly aware that only two scraps of fabric were keeping them decent, and the hard ridge of his erection was pressing against the screamingly sensitive flesh between her legs.
It took all her willpower not to grind against him. As if he knew it, his hands came to rest in the small of her back, his fingers splaying again, pressing her closer.
“I think it’s time—” She stopped to draw in a ragged breath. There wasn’t enough air in her lungs when she was this close to him. “For my birthday kiss.”
His mouth was so close it almost brushed against hers as his lips broke into a smile. “I think it’s past time.”
“Okay. Don’t move,” she whispered. “Let me.”
He didn’t move. He stayed perfectly still as she fitted her mouth to his. So still she could feel the tension of his neck muscles and the rigidity of his abs and quads, the steel band of his hands in her lower back. But he let her lead, standing passively in the circle of her arms as she nibbled and tasted his mouth, her tongue licking along the seam of his lips. They parted under her probe, and she moaned triumphantly as she tasted beer.
Val’s senses swam with it, and she pulled back, temporarily overloaded. By him, by who he was, by what she was doing. She shut her eyes as she ran her tongue over her lips, savouring his taste, humming her approval. Her eyes fluttered open to find him watching her intensely.
“That was…sweet.”
“Sweet?” He made a low, growly noise at the back of his throat. “Fuck that.”
He kissed her then. Really kissed her. A proper birthday kiss. Nothing sweet about it. Not one little bit.
It was hard and fast and dirty, the power of it crowding her backwards. Back, back, back until her ass and shoulder blades hit the wall. Val barely noticed as his tongue—his clever, clever tongue every bit as good as he’d promised—took full possession. A hand slid under her hair, clamping at her nape while his mouth roved over hers, twisting and turning and demanding that she answer him back with the same fervour.
And she did. God help her, she did. Every desperate breath she sucked in around the demands of his mouth was full of him.
Full of beer and voodoo. Heady. Intoxicating her beyond all reason.
It was the kind of kiss that belonged in a movie. That was hot and effortless and arousing. That made the audience tingle and sigh and yearn. Made them pull over the car on the way home for a quickie.
As abruptly as it’d started, it stopped, and Val was thankful for the solid presence of the wall behind her as her knees almost went from under her.
She could hardly hear him above the hammer of her heart, let alone form coherent words. She made some kind of nonsensical noise instead, which he clearly took for agreement.
“Good.” He slid his hands to the backs of her thighs and lifted her. “Plenty more where that came from.”

Thanks for reading folks! I thought you all might appreciate a picture of my feet! Faces are so boring :-)

Val's drinking martinis when Kyle stops for a chat. For your chance to win a digital copy of Playing Dirty (must have an Amazon account) let me know in the comments what's your drink of choice when you go to a bar.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's 
giveaway  will be announced and a smooch will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jul 13, 2018

One of those days ...

Yesterday morning I was up well before six as I had an appointment in Nelson at 8.30am, and another at ten. Nelson is approximately 95kms away and since we've been having diabolical weather I decided to allow an extra half hour to get there in case of trouble. Little did I know.

At the end of our road lights were flashing in the dark. A bit late to be taking the cows to the milking shed I thought. Nothing to do with cows but the road. I was barred from heading in the usual direction. 'A truck has rolled, completely blocking the way through,' the guy manning the hurriedly erected barriers told me. 'You'll have to go the long way.' At least I had that option although it meant heading in the opposite direction to my destination. Except the road, the Queen Charlotte Drive as it is known, is in a state, with numerous slips and slumps that the roading crews are working round the clock to clear and fix, for the second time in two weeks. These roads wind around the edge of hills with the sea below. It was a slow thirty minutes to Picton where everything was under a heavy blanket of frost - so slow down further and take it easy.

I head towards Spring Creek and what's next is fog. And more fog. At last I reach the turn off and I'm finally heading towards Nelson. The traffic cops are out in abundance and everyone's crawling along. When I have coverage I phone the medical centre and explained the situation. The receptionist kindly squeezed me in between two other appointments. I just had to get there.

One hour later than I should've, I go through Havelock and into more fog. I finally made it to Nelson , dashed into the medical centre and saw the doctor, then raced to the accountant's, late for that appointment. By then I was ready for a very strong coffee (too early for wine) so parked and headed into a cafe. Ten minutes later I returned to find a parking ticket on my windscreen. Great. it had just become the most expensive coffee I've ever had as the area I parked in is controlled by an international company not the local council. Who knew that? Not me.

Mr Mac had been in Nelson since the day before, working at the port for two days. I was going to hang around to pick him up at six when he finished. Then he texted, said he probably wouldn't be coming home as the ship they were loading had been shut down by Maritime Safety. Seems my day was rubbing off on him. I decided to wait until he knew what was happening.
Then a text from a close friend who wanted to take me to lunch as a belated birthday present. Perfect. We had a great couple of hours catching up. But what was happening with Mr Mac? The phone was silent. Because I'd accidently flicked my phone into silent mode. A message popped up from an hour earlier, he was ready to go home. Then another, he'd see me at home.  I left town, knowing he had a ride, and trying to get in touch every time I had coverage, not often on that bush enclosed road. He wasn't picking up my calls, apparently he'd run out of time on his phone and since it's out of the ark he can only top up on the computer.

When I passed the place where the truck had rolled that morning I knew my day had been a lot better than the truckie's. Eventually Mr Mac and I got home, the plus side for me was the warm, cosy house with the fire roaring and dinner prepared.
In the end, the day panned out fine, no problems with the doctor or accountant, AND lying in bed last night I began thinking like an author. What if I'd been a beautiful doctor (yeah, right) and was asked to help the sexy, rugged truckie as he'd been injured? I think this story line needs a lot of work, but who knows what might come out of it.

You just don't know what's going to happen when you get out of bed in the morning, do you? Have you had days that have gone haywire and still turned out okay in the end?

In Surprise Twins for the Surgeon my heroine's day didn't go as planned either.

Jul 11, 2018

Reading binge

For the first time this year I've indulged in a mini reading binge, and it's been rather divine (all right, a lot!). Better yet, I've discovered some new to me authors. And as we're all readers here I thought I'd share them with you.

 Virginia Kantra’s Carolina Dreaming. Our own Rachel Bailey recommended this to me and it was an unexpectedly emotional read with great characters who could’ve followed predictable trope-y, plot-y paths, but didn’t. This was a book that had all the feels. And I can’t wait to explore Kantra’s Dare Island novels further.

 Roxanne Snopek’s Forever Yours, Sweetheart. This was just a lot of flirty fun, with an ending that will have you cheering. I hate slut-shaming, so I found this book particularly satisfying. Also, there are dogs…and I love the dogs.

JoAnn Ross’s Herons Landing. I don’t know why, but I thought Ms Ross might be a bit…mumsy, but there was nothing mumsy about this one. It didn’t start off quickly, and there was quite a bit of background to experience in relation to the two leads, but I didn’t mind in the least because Ross writes with authority…and Honeymoon Harbor (the setting for her series) was just such a fab place to spend time in. So, I wallowed. :-)

Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy. This was a book that blew me away. It’s a romance that pushes the boundaries of the genre, and succeeds gloriously. The heroine is half-Chinese half-British and the novel is written with a definite Chinese sensibility, and I adored it. I adored everything about it—the heroine is ‘cheer out loud’ empowered, the hero is deliciously unflappable, and the pace is gripping. I can’t wait to read my next Thomas novel (which will be Not Quite a Husband as soon as I find the time).

 And I’ve just rounded my little binge off with a tried and true author, Kelly Hunter, with her wonderful Outback Brides: Maggie’s Run. It’s intense and powerful and I couldn’t put it down.

I can heartily recommend each and every one of these titles. So what about you, what can you recommend at the moment, and have you discovered a new-to-you author this year?

Jul 9, 2018

Romancing the Festival

Byron Writers Festival is being hosted from 3-5 August and we are serving up a lovely slice of romance this year.  As many of your know, I’m the Chair of the Festival and I’m thrilled that romance favourites Rachael Johns, Lisa Walker, Victoria Purman and Christine Wells all accepted our invitation to the Festival.

We will be featuring the following panels and discussions that all touch on the wonderful world of romance:

And Then He Kissed Me with Racheal Johns, Victoria Purman, Christine Wells chaired by the hilarious Mandy Nolan

A Break From the City: Rural Crime and Romance with Mark Brandi, Jane Harper, Rachael Johns chaired by Victoria Purman

What Women Want: Novels by Women For Women with Anita Heiss, Hannah Richell, Lisa Walker chaired by Victoria Purman

Should be a wonderful three days. Great conversation, by the beach, in the sunshine. Would so love to see you there. Grab a ticket today and join me!

Jul 8, 2018

SUNDAY SMOOCH: The Secret Son's Homecoming by Helen Lacey

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Helen Lacey's July release from Harlequin Special Edition, The Secret Son's Homecoming.  

But first the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Ginette Kinellar.

Please contact Annie West by emailing annie AT annie-west.com to receive your copy of Inherited for the Royal Bed.

And now for today's smooch.

To learn to love…he will have to let go

The illegitimate son of the wealthiest man in Cedar River, Jonah Rickard spent his life avoiding his father. Forced back home for a wedding, he's brought face–to–face with the only woman to ever threaten his hardened heart.

Connie Bedford knows what it is to be haunted by the past, betrayed by trust…scared by desire. Years ago, Jonah's father saved her. Now only Connie and her love can save Jonah – and, maybe, his family…

Scene set-up:

Connie and Jonah have been out on their first ‘real’ date and they are now back at her home. 

The Smooch:   

“Jonah reached out to grasp her chin, gently tilting her face upward. “Did someone break your heart once, Connie?”

“My heart,” she whispered, as though the memory hurt her down to her very core. “My spirit.”

Jonah’s insides crunched. “I understand caution when it comes to getting close to people,” he said, rubbing his thumb across her cheek. “Sometimes I think I invented it. But I’m not out to hurt you or make empty promises. I just want—”

“Sex?” she said, cutting him off.

Heat smacked his cheeks, but he wasn’t about to lie to her. “I’m a guy,” he said and shrugged. “We’re kind of programmed that way.”

She laughed humorlessly. “At least you’re honest about it.”

“I don’t lie, Connie,” he said, more seriously. “I will always tell you the truth about my motives. It’s obvious that I’m attracted to you and I think that’s mutual...right?”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“So, we’ll just see where it goes.”

“To bed, you mean?”

He shrugged again. “If that’s what you want.”

“And it’s completely my decision?”

“Of course,” he replied. “Always.”

She took a moment to respond, and then nodded. “Okay.”


She nodded again. “Maybe we will end up in bed. We’ll just have to see.”

He smiled. “Is everything usually so cut-and-dried with you?”

“Usually,” she replied. “We doormats are generally the boring, black-or-white type.”

“I thought you’d forgiven me for that remark.”

“I have,” she said softly and moved closer. “I’m making fun of you.” She looked up at him, meeting his gaze, her mouth slightly parted, her eyes wide. “You can kiss me now...I mean, if you still want to.”

Jonah’s entire body tensed. He wanted to. Very much. She was close, and when her breasts touched his chest it almost sent his libido into overdrive. Jonah took a breath, grasped her chin and hovered his mouth over hers. They’d kissed before, but somehow, being so close, hearing her breathe, inhaling the scent that was uniquely hers, Jonah experienced an acute sense of being in the moment, of feeling and sensing nothing else other than everything that was Connie. It should have set off alarm bells in his head. But instead, he felt the rightness of it through to his blood and then felt it seep deep into his bones. He was hooked. Totally at the mercy of his desire for her. With no foreseeable way out other than to make a run for it.

Which was out of the question.

* * *

Connie slipped her arms around his shoulders, feeling the muscles bunch beneath her fingers, feeling every part of him in a way that was impossibly intimate and breathtakingly scary. His eyes glittered brilliantly, meeting hers without blinking, holding her gaze with such burning intensity she could barely draw breath. They were breast to chest, thigh to thigh, and she waited for the usual panic to rise, for her old fears to make a comeback, for the memories to resurface and warn her off. But oddly, they didn’t. Because she wasn’t afraid of Jonah. She desired him. She liked him. She trusted him. And trust had always been in short supply in her life.

Strange, some faraway voice whispered to her, that she trusted Jonah without really knowing him very well. For Connie, trust was earned, and garnered by time and integrity and actions. She trusted Liam and J.D. because they had witnessed her at her most vulnerable and saved her from the worst moment in her life. She trusted her friends Annie and Nicola because they had never had a morbid curiosity about her past like some others had shown over the years. And that, she realized, was it.

Four people. A small circle of trust in any language.

And now, inexplicably, there was Jonah.

Crazy. Senseless. Potentially foolish, because he had so much emotional baggage that it was certainly going to end in disaster...or at the very least, her broken heart.

But when his mouth touched hers, she was gone. He softly coaxed her lips apart, gently anchoring her head with a steady palm at her nape. There was nothing rushed, nothing overpowering, nothing other than a gentle coax and a request for permission. She gave it instinctively, and when his tongue touched hers, Connie experienced a deep surge of desire spark through her veins. His kiss was something she would never get enough of. And there was no threat, no demand. He was asking for her to kiss him back, seeking her agreement to ensure that they were heading to the same place, a place that had always terrified her, because it meant absolute surrender.

And surrender meant vulnerability...something she’d vowed never to allow again.
Connie moaned, hearing the sound echo low in her chest, feeling the vibration through her blood and across every nerve ending. It’s just a kiss. But it was more. That’s what struck her the most. She’d been kissed before. She’d put herself out there and gone on several first dates...but never had a man’s kiss affected her on a such a deep, sensory level. The fact that it was Jonah who wreaked such havoc with her senses...Jonah, who was in constant conflict with everyone she cared about the most, was confusing and contradictory to everything she thought she believed in.

            But when his mouth touched hers again, when he deepened the kiss and his tongue danced with hers, she was utterly and categorically undone. She pressed closer, feeling him aroused against her, but she sensed no threat and no need to run. That’s what shook her...that he wasn’t a threat. That he would never be a threat. That she’d found a man who made her feel safe.

And she wanted him.

She wanted him in ways she’d never wanted anyone before.

Reader question from Helen:

Do you like the bad boy? The guy who’s judged as being bad news but really has a heart of gold? Or do you prefer the straight up, Mr.  Nice Guy? 

Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a signed copy of The Secret Son’s Homecoming.

And don't forget to come back next Sunday when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a new smooch will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver