Mar 17, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Michelle Douglas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a retro smooch from Michelle Douglas to celebrate her new The Best Of... anthology, but first...

... the winners (there were 5!) of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway were Jessica Lawson, laurie, Laney4, kimeleon and Jan Vanengen!

Can you please contact Clare: clare (at) clareconnelly (dot) co (dot) uk to receive your copy of Burn Me Once.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Redemption of Rico D'Angelo.

 The man behind the Italian good looks…

Gorgeous Rico D’Angelo is single-handedly saving the world, one disadvantaged teen at a time. The opening of his charity café should be enough for him to finally put the regrets of his childhood behind him…but even as the ribbon is cut on opening day it’s not enough.

Until new hire Neen Cuthbert walks through the door and offers an unexpected blast of sunshine. She’s had her fill of misguided do-gooders, but something tells her Rico is different. Neen won’t let him push her away—especially now she’s discovering that Rico might just need her most of all…

Scene set-up: You know...I'm not sure we need one. ;-)

Rico stared at her, his jaw slack. Then a light blazed in his eyes. It stole her breath. Before she could gather her wits he reached across, took her face in his hands and kissed her.

If Neen had thought Rico’s lips would be cool—like him—she’d have been seriously mistaken. They were hot. Searingly hot. Heat jolted through her all the way down to the soles of her feet, electrifying her. Telling her what she needed and how.

She gasped, but she didn’t pull away.

His grip tightened. And then his tongue stroked her inner lips, teasing and tempting, creating an aching space of need and desire inside her that grew and grew and threatened every shred of her composure until she thought she might die if she didn’t respond.

Her tongue touched his. She felt rather than heard his moan. He smelled of cologne, but tasted smooth, like a buttery Chardonnay. She pressed herself as close as she could and drank him in.

Beyond the sheer unexpected magic of the kiss the table bit into her ribs and the clatter of cups and saucers tried to break her concentration. She did what she could to block it out, wanting to savour this one unexpected moment. A moment filled with energy and hope, and a lightness of being that was utterly foreign to her but utterly right at the same time.

More china rattled and clinked.


Chatter. Laughter.

Kissing her.

The sound of a coffee machine.

So right…


The word screamed through her and Neen planted a hand in his chest and shoved him away. She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth, trying to rid herself of the taste of him in an effort to settle the clamouring need that hurtled through her. Her body’s betraying hum and thrum, its pounding and pulsing, made her grip the wooden tabletop in an effort to stay upright.

Rico stared at her, his chest rising and falling, his eyes dark and dazed.

This scene is set in a cafe (after all, Neen and Rico are in the process of setting up their own charity cafe). Do you have a favourite place to sneak out for coffee and cake? What's your very favourite thing about your local cafe?

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

Mar 13, 2019

What are you...?

Back in the old old days (that is, in the early days of the Lovecats blog) we often used to open our posts with a series of whats—what I’m watching/reading/listening to etc, and as I love to know what people are watching/reading/listening to etc, I thought that’d be a fun game to play today. So I’ll start…

#1 What I’m watching…

Nothing of particular interest at the moment—reruns of Escape to the Country and Location Location Location (I adore Kirsty and Phil). But, I am going to launch into this soon.

Rachel Bailey has been telling me I MUST watch this. And I have a feeling she’s right. Who else is a fan?

#2 What I’m listening to…

This is the last song I downloaded. And I thought the singer actually sang: “Tell your Mum I said hi”. Noooo. She sings: “Tell ’em all I said, hi”. I have a friend whose 20-year-old son recently broke up with his girlfriend of 5 years. She and his girlfriend are missing each other. That’s what I thought the song was about.

 I like my version better. In this version she sounds all self-pitying and “poor me”. So I continue singing my version of the lyrics. ;-) Who else does this?

# What I’m reading…

I just finished two seriously enjoyable reads. Kaz Delaney’s Chocolate and Old Lace. Rosie Hart and I are going to become very good friends. :-)

 And Tikka Chance On Me by Suleikha Snyder. Amy Andrews told me I HAD to read this, and she was right. It was sassy and sexy with great banter.

So now I’m reading James Scott Bell’s 27 Fiction Writing Mistakes—and How Not to Make Them. I’m knee-deep in my next book, and I feel as if I’ve forgotten how to write (this happens from time to time), and this one is reminding me of a few fundamentals.

 # What’s making me smile…

Because of the James Scott Bell book above, I ordered a hard copy of the book Description by Monica Wood (not available as an ebook) from BetterWorldBooks. And my book sent me a message:

Holy canasta! It's me... it's me! I can't believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I've got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can't believe I'm leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don't have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time to see the world!

I can't wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol' brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I've had, I'm ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn't take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I've found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

How much fun is that, huh?

So, your turn! What have you been watching, listening to, reading, or what’s been making you smile recently?

Mar 11, 2019

Must Keep at It

Photo courtesy depositphoto
With my writing and day job, I spend a lot of time sitting. With so many messages saying ‘sitting is the new smoking’, I’m very conscious of getting off my butt and getting going.  But, damn, some days it is hard. Sunday is long run day, but with the days not getting any cooler it is a killer. Yesterday it was 28 degrees when I was running – arrrhhh!!! Jumping in the pool after was fantastic.

It was so hot the other day, I decided to walk the dog a long way instead of running. Lucky decision in hindsight. If I’d been running I might have actually stepped on the red-bellied black snake in the grass. Missed it by less than a metre. That’s one way to get the adrenaline buzzing.

But, I do love a good run. Keeps me fit. Keeps my bones strong. Keeps those calories burning. 

What about you? What do you do to keep fit and any tips on an exercise alternative during these heat waves.

Mar 10, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly 

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Clare Connelly's BURN ME ONCE.

But first, the winner of last weeks smooch is Laney4! Please email Michelle Douglas to claim your prize.

You. Me. Sex. It's easy.All she has to do is not get hooked…
Ally Douglas has made a deal with Ethan Ash: just sex, no strings, no forever. All she knows about him is that he's a world–famous rock star and absolutely gorgeous. Their sexual chemistry is instant, magnetic, and it satisfies their needs. Only now Ethan has started to break the rules – will Ally be able to stop herself from getting burned?
Hi Lovecats!

I'm so delighted to share a bit of a retro smooch with you today. This is an excerpt from my ROCK STAR book, and the reason I'm going back in time to this sexy read is because I've seen two of my fantasy husbands perform in the last week (Isaac Hanson and Tim Minchin - with huge love for my real-life husband who is, of course, amazing!) and I'm going ga-ga for rock stars - and thought you might like to as well! So this scene is written from the Hero's perspective. Ethan-hotter-than-sin-Ash has just found out his very-recently-ex-girlfriend is getting married to some other guy, and he's met Ally in a bar.... sparks are flying and a sexy one-night-stand is on the cards! 

Language warning! This book is written for Harlequin/Mills & Boon's super sexy Dare line, and features some expletives. 

Every time I question the wisdom of this I think of the freaking Tweet. #soinlove
Sienna’s moved on. Why the hell shouldn’t I have some fun too?
Something squeezes inside me and my past with Sienna flashes before me. The years we spent together. The way we came through the industry together. I get her and she gets me. It damned near killed me when we broke up. Only her promise that it was temporary eased that pain.
And now she’s fucking engaged to another guy.
A new sense of urgency powers my intent.
‘Hell, yeah. Let’s get out of here.’
I drain my beer, noticing she’s hardly touched her drink. I nod towards it but she shakes her head.
‘I’m okay.’
She’s better than okay. Briefly I feel a wave of guilt. To Sienna. To Ally. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m not thinking one hundred percent clearly, but my instincts are telling me to go with this—or is that my cock?—and I’m not going to ignore them.
‘Let’s go.’
I hold my hand out and she places her palm in mind. Her hand’s small, and yet it fits into mine perfectly. I stand and pull her closer to me as I do. She smells like vanilla and moonlight.
Someone’s tipped the press off as to my whereabouts, so that when we step out of the club there’s flashes everywhere. Ally’s surprised. She’s not used to fame and its pointed intrusion. I pull her closer to my chest. The desire to protect her is instinctive. I don’t want her being collateral damage in all of this.
I hail a cab and it stops instantly. I hold the door open for her and she slips inside, a blur of pale skin, bright blue eyes and long red hair. I follow, moving close to her in the back of the cab.
I hear every single one of Ally’s rushed breaths echo inside my soul.
I give the driver my hotel address and then I turn to Ally. I don’t know what I’m going to say to her. Thoughts fly from my head at the sight of her huge wide eyes and parted lips.
Fuck it.
I want her.
I kiss her as though my life depends on it. I kiss her with an aching hunger and desperation that surprises us both.
Or maybe it doesn’t—because it’s exactly how she kisses me back.

I loved writing this steamy, satisfying romance. I hope you fall in love with Ethan Ash as much as I did! 

I'm giving away five digital copies of this book - so leave a comment here or on Facebook and the winners will be announced next Sunday, right here on the blog. Mwah! 

Mar 6, 2019

The Love of my Teenage Life

You know how people say you never get over your first love? Well, it's true. When I was in high school, I fell head over heels, mind-explodingly in love and even though I'm celebrating my ninth wedding anniversary today to my fabulous husband, I've never forgotten the love of my high school life.

And last week, I got the chance to catch up with him and it was like no time had passed. My heart raced, my pulse thundered through my body, my temperature soared, my ears made a weird buzzing noise. I looked across a crowded room and saw Isaac Hanson and I was the same fifteen year old I'd been who'd first adored everything about him.

And the song that propelled Hanson to worldwide fame is no doubt one you're familiar with - MMMBop. But have you listened to the lyrics? Because I couldn't help thinking about them last week, during the concert, when the brothers began to play the famous song.

You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast
Oh yeah
And they're gone so fast, yeah
Oh, so hold on the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care?
Can you tell me who will still care?

The words are kind of profound, right? And I really loved the fact that the children who wrote this song would have had no idea we would all still be here for them, so many years later. The venue was absolutely packed, full of adoring fans and followers, people like me who fell in love a long time ago - with all their hearts - and never stopped loving and listening.


I'll be back here at the blog on Sunday, giving away FIVE e-book copies of BURN ME ONCE, my rockstar Mills & Boon Dare, which I dedicated to Isaac Hanson (because, love) so share wildly and help someone fall in love with Ethan Ash, every bit as delectable and loveable as my teen crush.

Tell me about your teen heart throb? And do you still love that person, or did you grow out of it? Bonus points if your heart throb was someone you knew and you ended up together forever...!

Mar 3, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Andrea Bolter

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Prince's Cinderella but first...

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Donamae Kutska!


Donamae, can you please contact Kandy: kandy (at) kandyshepherd (dot) com to receive your copy of Second Chance with the Single Dad

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Andrea Bolter.

 From event planner…To belle of the ball!

Organizing a charity gala on the glamorous French Riviera is a dream come true for event planner Marie. And then she realizes she’ll be working with single dad--and handsome prince--Zander! Marie has never felt she truly belonged anywhere, least of all alongside royalty, but Zander soon sweeps her into his world of toddlers and tiaras! Dare Marie believe she’s found her fairy-tale ending--a family of her own?

Scene set-up: In Cannes on the French Riviera, Marie and Zander attend glamorous parties together as they work on a charity gala of their own.

    Zander hadn’t meant to kiss Marie. Hadn’t meant to at all!
     Why had he, why had he? His brain throbbed, and would until it had its answer. Maybe it was after being approached by those two aggressive party girls. Who reminded him of Henriette and the endless parade of awful women that had defined his life thus far. Marie was so definitely not like any of them. And he found himself opening up to her, perhaps actually too much.
     But, in any case, a kiss on the cheek was merely a sociable gesture, right? He hoped that was it, although he wouldn’t swear to that conclusion.
     Unfortunately, his mouth wouldn’t stop vibrating after the feel of his lips against Marie’s cheek. Surely the clouds in the sky weren’t as soft as her delicate skin. His mouth had barely brushed across her face but his body reacted as if a firecracker had exploded inside of him.
    His behavior was dangerous. It was shocking how he hadn’t had any control of himself in the moment after he’d confided in her about the royal gold diggers. His mouth was propelled to Marie’s face as if an outside power had deemed it and there was nothing he could do but obey the command.
     Everyone pecked everyone on the cheek at events like this, he reasoned with himself. It was no big deal. Marie had probably forgotten about a minute after it happened. He would, too.
     As those reassurances ticked across his mind, he knew they were lies. The kiss dilated his eyes with desire, both physical and emotional. It was as if he hadn’t known how hungry he was until someone handed him a crust of bread. He suddenly felt as if he was starving.
     However, this was no time in his life to sate that craving.
     He could surely have physical contact with a woman if he wanted to. After the APCF gala. And with a female other than Marie. He was free to have dalliances that meant nothing to him, and not under the same room as Abella of course. But there’d be no getting serious with anyone for many years to come, if ever.
     Indeed, after Henriette, it had been dawning on him more and more that if he were ever to marry, his wife would effectively become Abella’s mother. Not only would he have to find someone he could trust with his niece’s safety and wellbeing, whoever he was with would have to be able and willing to accept Abella as part of the package. To be a good influence on her and to genuinely love her like her own. Zander would accept nothing less. It was a tall order.
     Frankly, he doubted he’d ever meet someone like that. Which was fine with him. Abella was the one in line for the throne. As Zander was Elise’s younger brother, he was not obliged to produce heirs. If he never married it might appear unconventional but wouldn’t harm the royal family in any way.
     So why was it that everything about Marie had thrown him into a brainstorm of new ideas and new contradictions?

  Zander and Marie are in charge of a huge charity gala. If you had loads of money to spend and resources at your disposal, would you enjoy throwing a lavish party? What aspect would be the most fun to you?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Mar 1, 2019

Curly Girls

One of my favourite episodes of Sex and the City is the one I think of as the Curly Girl episode. 

Remember when Big was dating (engaged to?) Natasha, the perfect, tall, sleek-haired younger woman. It's a pivotal moment in Carrie's life when it hits her that she and Miss Sleek might both be smart, successful women - but they are not the same species.

For Carrie is a Katie Girl (aka Barb in The Way We Were); fabulous, unique, raw, untamed, wild, unfinished, searching, and not kind of girl who classically ends up with the Bigs (or Hubbells) of the world.  For Katie - and Carrie - are determined to be themselves, to own their quirks, to not conform to current social norms in the face of loving larger than life men.

They are curly girls.

It was no accident that 'Natasha' had dead-straight hair. For straight hair is considered professional, beautiful and aspirational. (Which it is!) I'm just saying, when did it become so that curly hair isn't thought of the same way?

There have been moments when a Curly Girl's curls have made a big impact - Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Keri Russell in Felicity, Debra Messing in Will and Grace, the glorious Bernadette Peters in everything she ever did. Meg Ryan flew the curly flag in a number of films. But over time even they have succumbed to the pressure to defrizz. And Hermione (a total Curly Girl) began the Harry Potter franchise with curly hair only to see it smooth out as the films went on.

When Viola Davis wore her natural hair to the Oscars in 2012, rather than a glossy 'straight' weave,  it made international news.

Chris Rock made a fabulous documentary called Good Hair which talked about the overwhelming number of African American women who chemically straighten or weave their hair. He made it for his daughters in an effort to show them that their natural curly hair was amazing, to be celebrated, and need not be homogenized.

Quoting the New York Times, as recently as February this year, the "the City of New York, through its Commission on Human Rights, officially banned discrimination based on hairstyle." Because before then it was actually ok to have rules and policies against cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots, curls, hair that stood taller against the crown than a certain measurement. I kid you not. 

A great deal of the pull for me regarding this subject, is that I've always identified as a Curly Girl, whether I straightened my hair or not. Off centre, not so neat and tidy, a little rock chic. And as a kid I had wildly curly-hair. It frizzed, it fuzzed, I had no clue how to tame it, but I owned it. It was a big part of who I was.

Though as time went on and kids came along, my hair changed, it spent most days in a messy bun, or was straightened in an effort to at least appear as if I had it all together. My curls made the occasional come back, but by putting them out to pasture meant I lost a little of the Curly Girl part of myself along the way.

And then came the Curly Girl Method movement. And hallelujah!

Those of you with latent waves or under-appreciated curls, read on.  For what I'm about to tell you may well change your life.

For Curls are making a come back. Curly Girls (or wavy woman, frizzy females) are out there, sharing the right combination of products, and methods, to bring out the best in their curls. Products that are sulphate, paraben and silicone-free which stops the coat-then-strip coat-then-strip merry-go-round. Methods in which you learn about trapping moisture, deep conditioning, beer-protein-rinses, squishing, and scrunching.

It can be as fun and full-on as easy and light as you decide for it to be. For someone who's used the exact same (wrong) shampoo and conditioner for 20 years, for me it was time.

I've taken the plunge. I gave away all the smoothing, 3-day straight, silicone de-frizzing gloop filling my bathroom cupboard and bought leave-ins, and curl creams and apple cider vinegar and a bowl with which to saturate my clumps. I no longer use a towel to dry my hair, rather one of my husband's old t-shirts.

And I love it! My curls are back. My hair has NEVER felt better. And my inner Curly Girl is punching the air with glee!

If I'm ever caught glued to Youtube, my kids are all like, "Which Curly Girl are you watching?"  My eight-year-old son wants to start a movement called "Spiky Boy" and he squishes in his conditioner like a pro. And watching Iron Man 2 the other day, he took one look at Black Widow and said, "Mum, she's a Curly Girl!"

Since I'm also a Never Say Never kind of girl, I may straighten my hair again one day. For fun. But for now - I'm out and proud and au naturale!

My name is Ally, and I am a Curly Girl.

How about you?

Feb 27, 2019

Romance v Real Life

This past weekend I and fellow LoveCats Amy Andrews and Michelle Douglas had the pleasure of attending the Australian Romance Readers Association awards night. ARRA functions are always a lot of fun and the awards night was no exception. At the start of the evening the audience was challenged to give the differences between real life and romance novels. Much hilarity ensued. As you can imagine, several answers referred to expectations of sexual performance!

What would you answer if you were posed that question?  I’ll kick off with a few of my own:

• Romance heroes and heroines often (but not always) have perfect bodies while seeming to eat what they want and not do a lot of exercise.

• They rarely have to visit the bathroom.

• Inexperienced heroines achieve amazing orgasms with little or no foreplay.

• Heroines can have hours of energetic sex but never seem to suffer from cystitis (I’ve only ever seen this in one story.) 

• The reaction to stress of romance heroines is often to lose their appetite and fade away to thinness instead of binge eating and stacking on weight. (Yes, I’ve written heroines like this in maybe a fit of wishful thinking!)

• One from the ARRA night: characters on the run from people hot on their heels trying to kill them have plenty of time to have showers and leisurely sex.

 Of course much of the enjoyment of our favourite genre is that real life (such as trips to the bathroom) doesn’t intrude on the fantasy, while the emotions expressed are heart-wrenchingly real. So perhaps we don’t want too much of the nitty gritty of everyday life to intrude!

Do you have any differences between real life and romance novels you’d like to share? I’d love to read your thoughts!

Feb 25, 2019

Author Life and a Freebie!

I've just returned from Sydney where the annual ARRA (Aust Romance Readers Australia) awards were held.

Fab night, very glam and I got to catch up with fellow LoveCats Michelle Douglas and Kandy Shepherd!

***EDITED TO ADD - it was Kandy's birthday too, one of those big ones :-) ****

I also spent the next day with the fab Kelly Hunter - who BTW swept the awards on Saturday night!! - in Sydney. We went for a ferry ride on Sydney Harbour then found a restaurant with an amazing view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and felt very "it" for a couple of hours until last night when I realised how sunburned I was.....This being "it" thing is not for the weak!

Weekends like this make all the hard grind of a daily word count and the zillion other things in an author's day totally worthwhile!

Before I go, thought you might like to know the first book in my Sydney (appropriately for this blog :-) ) Smoke rugby series is FREE for the week. If you want to check it out, click on the cover!

 So....what did you do this weekend? 

Feb 24, 2019

Sunday Smooch - Second Chance with the Single Dad by Kandy Shepherd

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Kandy Shepherd's new release SECOND CHANCE WITH THE SINGLE DAD but first

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Laurie!

Can you please contact to receive your copy of The Greek's Forbidden Innocent.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Kandy Shepherd. 

From long-lost friends...
To newfound family?

Georgia and Wil were best friends until he married and disappeared from her life. Now he’s back, asking Georgia to forget the past and help him secure his future—the daughter he never knew he had! Georgia’s heart goes out to new dad Wil, but there’s an uncharted chemistry fizzing between them and she must protect her heart. Can they confront their unspoken attraction and finally become a family?

Scene set-up
Girl-next-door schoolteacher Georgia Lang and handsome self-made millionaire Wil Hudson go way back as “just friends.” They know each other so well they claim to read each other’s thoughts. But not everyone wishes the platonic friends well and the friendship ends abruptly and painfully. There was always an attraction, something deeper, but for fear of unleashing emotions they couldn’t handle, of losing the friendship, they never acted on it. Then Wil becomes a single dad to adorable baby Nina and Georgia agrees to help, staying with him for the school vacation at his beautiful house. But his visiting parents misunderstand the situation and think Wil and Georgia are engaged. The seriousness of his mother’s illness make Wil want to maintain the charade just for a few days. Georgia reluctantly agrees. But it’s still just platonic—right?

Smooch  - 
‘I’m in. I’m your fiancée until Wednesday,’ she said.
Wil stepped closer. Took both her hands in his. She looked down to their joined hands and back up to him, alarmed
‘It’s only pretend, remember,’ he said. ‘But we need to be convincing. As you reminded me, I’ve never kissed you. Engaged people should probably have some knowledge of what it’s like to kiss each other.’
Georgia looked up at him, her eyes wide and wary, but still with a trace of smile lingering at the corners of her lips. Her mouth was slicked with cherry-red gloss and it looked eminently kissable. He’d always found that slight unevenness of her top lip very appealing—now he wanted to know how it felt under his lips, how she tasted, how she felt in his arms.
‘Okay, so we kiss,’ she said.
‘Right,’ he said, taken aback by her practical approach.
‘Shall I be the first?’
‘What do you mea—?’
Before he could finish his question, Georgia had tugged on their linked hands to pull him close and pressed her mouth against his, soft and warm and, to his surprise, hesitant. For all her show of bravado, she was nervous.
Wil wasn’t the slightest bit nervous. More like exultant that he had her so close. Kissing Georgia at last.He took command of the kiss, being careful to keep his lips on hers tender and undemanding.
A shiver of surrender ran through her as she relaxed into the kiss. He tightened his grip on her hands. She parted her lips to welcome his tongue with a little murmur of what he couldn’t be sure was pleasure or trepidation. He vowed, with a fierce surge of protectiveness, he would make sure she felt only pleasure from his touch.
Her curves were soft and yielding against his chest. He slid his hands around to grasp her waist and pull her even closer. The wrap skirt of her dress had swung open to the top of her taut, toned thighs and her legs were bare against his. When her tongue met his, tentative at first and then meeting his in a sensual tangle, he was stunned by the sudden and intense shock waves of pleasure that rippled through his body—and his heart.

Her first kiss with Wil. It was so much more than Georgia could ever have imagined. She was almost overwhelmed by excitement. This isn’t real, she tried to remind herself, but she couldn’t think logically when she was so overwhelmed by sensation. This was Wil, familiar, yet, oh, so unfamiliar. His mouth, tasting of coffee and his favourite chocolate cookie. His scent, citrus shower gel with a heady touch of fresh, manly sweat. His hard, perfect male body in such intimate contact with hers.
What had started as a harmless practice kiss had flamed into something else altogether and escalated to a passionate exchange that surprised the heck out of her. Her heart hammered, her body pulsed with want. They’d always had a connection, mental, spiritual, now it was physical. The difference between friend and potential lover. 
Her heart gave a huge jolt. She broke away from the kiss to catch her breath, to find her balance. If she didn’t pull away from him, she’d be dragging him behind the house and pushing him up against the wall.
She came up for air, panting, holding on to her heart. Wil was the same, his eyes dazed and unfocused. He seemed as knocked out as she was by what they had unleashed.
‘What happened there?’ she gasped.
Wil was drawing in great gulps of air in an effort to steady his voice. ‘Eight years of wanting to kiss you? What’s your guess?’
‘Same,’ she managed to choke out. The thought struck her. ‘Or was it an act? On your part, I mean. You know, to look authentic.’
‘I sure as hell wasn’t acting. What about you?’
She shook her head. ‘No. was real.’
Georgia looked up at him and, as had happened so many times before, their eyes connected and they laughed. She felt exhilarated, high almost. Her buddy Wil. The best kisser she’d ever kissed.
He planted a firm, hard kiss on her mouth. ‘Who knew?’ 

I'm a believer in platonic friendships but others think that there is often an underlying attraction - perhaps only on one side - even if it might never be acted on. What are your thoughts?

 Leave a comment here and go into the draw to win a copy of SECOND CHANCE WITH THE SINGLE DAD. 

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Feb 20, 2019

Baking - Far More Than Getting Food on the Table! - Annie West

Do you ever find yourself attracted to simple hands-on chores in the middle of particularly busy times? Strangely, often when I feel like I don't have enough time to get everything done is when I most often want to take time out to cook. By cook, I don't mean cook a meal - that's a job that just keeps coming around. I mean cook something extra - like a sweet treat.

I've been thinking about this recently as life in the West house has been pretty full and I've found myself thinking about taking time out to cook a treat. Years ago when there were more people in the house, including children and adolescents who could vacuum up snacks in no time, I did a lot more of that sort of cooking. Now it's an irregular thing, and I've discovered that I enjoy the making almost as much as I enjoy the results!

By the way, in the interests of honesty, I have to mention that this lovely mixed grain loaf was made by Mr West, not me. He's a whizz at nice bread!

I've come to the conclusion that baking can be therapeutic. There's something relaxing and reassuring about the down to earth, simple processes of measuring, mixing, kneading and baking. I'm sure the fact it involves using your hands is part of that, just like a little time gardening can be great for clearing the head and putting worries in perspective. Or painting, woodworking, sitting at a potter's wheel, sewing or, yes, maybe even tidying cupboards!

Sometimes I find myself wanting to cook comfort food I remember from years ago. Like this chocolate ring cake with coconut, which was a staple of my mother's when I was growing up, or the raspberry muffins - the first muffin recipe I ever made and still my favourite.

At other times it just seems the time of year to cook particular treats. Like German cinnamon stars for Christmas (and they always remind me of the German friend who gave me the recipe). Actually, quite often using favourite recipes, I think cooking is an act of love and connection, not just between you and the people you're cooking for, but you and the people from your past. 

Christmas means Christmas cake, made to an old family recipe.

It also means the joy of cooking with the family. In our house the Christmas shortbread is as likely to be in the form of pigs or rabbits as stars or bells. My kids still like to help make the Christmas goodies.

Or maybe it's just an excuse to smile and celebrate that it's the weekend and life is good. What could be better than raspberry sponge cake with a glass of bubbly with someone special?

Or individual birthday cup cakes?

Often as not the urge to bake comes upon me when the weather turns cool. I love the sighs of appreciation when I take a cheese souffle out of the oven, and the feeling of achievement that yes, it DID rise! Always makes me feel competent.

Or maybe the cooking is for a visit by a special friend. Something light to have with a cuppa.

 Contrary to what you might think, I don't bake very much these days. Too busy writing books and doing other things, but when I do it feels so good. Maybe because it means I'm getting together with some special friends or family, or just because the peaceful process of putting ingredients together is a satisfying way to spend a little down time. I feel pleased that I've accomplished something and more relaxed.

How about you? Are you a baker? Do you have any go-to activities to help you unwind?