Jul 17, 2019

My Happy Place

by Bronwyn Jameson 

This birthday gift should have been easy to hang. Neutral colours. Practical size: not too large, not too small.

But its significance left me mulling for some time over where it should be hung.

My “happy place” has always been non-literal. I find it in the pages of a beautifully crafted book. Planning my next travel adventure or helping someone else do the same. With beverage in hand, laughing with family or friends. Preparing a meal — or baking a cake — to share with aforementioned family.

My gift is not a book-mark. I can’t take it with me on my next adventure, to hang in the departure lounge. My favourite drinks place is my front verandah: with a view but without protection from the elements. Which left me with my final — and happy — option.

It now hangs in my kitchen and I’m happy to see it when I walk into the room, even before I start my next baking adventure. Lately I’ve been glomming carrot cakes. Here are two super-yummy successes: the first is a classic Carrot Cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. The second has a surprise twist: tea and spices. Masala Chai Carrot Cake

What is your happy place?

Where would you hang this wall art?

Jul 14, 2019

RITA smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Michelle's RITA-nominated romance The Million Pound Marriage Deal but first...

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

Jenny you please contact maggie on: maggiechritensen (at) maggiechristensenauthor (dot) com to receive your prize

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Million Pound Marriage Deal...

 A marriage of convenience...
With a price!

Billionaire playboy Will Trent-Paterson has one year to get married. His grandfather will disinherit him if he doesn't settle down, leaving his vulnerable sister homeless! So when old friend Sophie Mitchell jokes that she'd marry him for a million pounds, a temporary marriage seems like the perfect solution! Until, after spending time with captivating Sophie, Will realizes walking away will be the hardest part...

[Scene set-up: Will and Sophie are about to appear for the first time as an engaged couple and they're "practicing" at trying to appear as natural as possible when, in fact, they're both feeling impossibly awkward.]

 ‘If we mess this up. If we lose our heads and forget ourselves…just once…then we’re not going to want to see each other again.’
  Her words were like a punch to the gut. Because they were true.
  ‘It’s what I meant when I said we were playing a dangerous game.’ Her eyes flashed. ‘If you found me unattractive that would be—’ She broke off. ‘But you don’t.’
  And he realised then what she’d made explicit but had left unsaid. She didn’t find him unattractive either. The knowledge made his blood roar.
  He ground his back molars together and counted to three, pulled in a breath. ‘You have my word that I won’t lose my head.’
  He would not let her down.
  ‘And you have my word.’
  They had to be cautious, circumspect. He couldn’t let himself feel too comfortable with her…and yet they both had to cultivate an appearance of tranquillity with each other for outside eyes. She was right. This could be trickier than he’d first envisaged. But not impossible.
  Before he knew what she was about she’d leaned in, stood on tiptoe and pressed a kiss to his cheek. ‘Thank you.’
  His heart crashed in his chest. His cheek burned where her lips had touched him.
  She eased back, adjusted her cardigan. ‘Right. Your turn.’
  She was trying to make kissing him as natural as possible, and he had to do the same. ‘Believe it or not,’ he said, ‘it’s my pleasure.’
  He pressed a kiss to her brow and tried not to notice how soft and warm and vibrant she felt beneath his lips.
  She huffed out a laugh. ‘Well, in that case I choose to believe it. Right, sit.’
  She gestured to the sofa and he took a seat. She came from behind. Her arms slid around his shoulders, making him start.
  ‘You do that downstairs and you’ll give the game away.’
  He nodded and gritted his teeth. ‘Do it again.’
  She eased back, walked away, and then moved towards him again and bent down to slide just one arm about his shoulders. He rested his hand on her forearm and felt a tiny tremor run through her. He pulled in a measured breath and her scent flooded his senses. ‘You smell nice.’
  Nice? That’s the best you can manage?
  She smelled sensational—fruity and warm, like Christmas. Though Christmas was months away.
  ‘It’s my body lotion. Frosted cherry. My favourite.’
  They broke apart at exactly the same moment. This was exhausting, but he saw the wisdom of it. They needed to give the impression that they were physically comfortable with each other.
  When nothing could be further from the truth.
  ‘Your turn.’ He waved her to the armchair.
  She sat, leaned back, crossed her legs—for all the world as if she were completely at ease.
  Time for them to get this over and done with.
  Her eyes widened when he braced his hands on the arms of the chair and leant down towards her, effectively locking her in and leaving her nowhere to escape. ‘Lips?’
  She glanced at his lips and then back into his eyes and nodded. ‘Dry lips,’ she whispered. ‘And we keep it brief.’
  Every cell in his body burst to life. He recited, Peter’s sister, Peter’s sister, Peter’s sister, over and over in his mind. ‘I want to tell you something before we do this,’ he murmured, his gaze not dropping from hers.
  ‘She swallowed. ‘Okay.’
  ‘You’re wrong. I like you just fine, Sophie Mitchell.’
  Her lips parted as if in shock. He couldn’t resist the pull any longer. His mouth lowered to hers, lips brushing lips—light, teasing and nowhere near enough. She stiffened, but then he felt her force herself to relax. And then she leaned forward a fraction and pressed her lips more firmly against his and kissed him back.
  Wind roared in his ears. It took all the strength he had to not deepen the kiss, to not engage lips, mouths, tongues and hands.
  Biting back a groan, he pulled back to stare into stunned blue eyes. They were a deeper shade of blue than he’d ever seen before.
  She pushed him away and launched herself from the chair like a horse from a starter’s gate. ‘We better keep that to a minimum.’
  She was darn right they were keeping that to a minimum!
  He’d kiss her cheek, her brow, the top of her head, her hand, but he had every intention of staying as far away from those lips as possible. They were lethal!


I'm currently away in New York -- Yay! And I'm so looking forward to living it up at the RITA Awards ceremony. Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a copy of The Million Pound Marriage Deal, and I'll make sure to send it as soon as I return home. 

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jul 10, 2019

Leaving on a jet plane

At some ridiculous time tomorrow morning when it's still dark (as in really, really early morning!), I set off for the airport. I’m so OMG-excited! :-)

We’re spending four nights in Singapore before hitting New York. I’ve not visited Singapore before and I’d love to set a story there—so we get to lose ourselves in a brand new city for a few wonderful days. How good does that sound?

And then we’re catching the world’s longest haul flight from Singapore to Newark: 18 hours and 40 minutes. My friends’ eyes have all bugged when I’ve told them how long the flight is. But you know what? I finished my PhD earlier in the year, and I haven’t stopped since—chasing my tail and trying to catch up on all the things—and the thought of sitting on a plane with nothing to do except read a book, watch a movie, and to dream (and sleep) sounds like absolute heaven to me.

I’ve had an epic to-do list to get done:

* Finish first draft of next romance—check.
* Type up said first draft—um, not quite I’m afraid.
* Finish copyedits of my January release: The Maid, the Millionaire and the Baby—check.
* Check what bills will arrive while we’re away and pay them—check (gah, I think!).
* Make sure all taps are turned off nice and tight because some of them drip—check. Except this is unnecessary as a family member is housesitting for us and therefore will be here to check all drips and any irons and ovens left on. Peace of mind—happy sighs.
* Post a month’s worth of Beach Monday pics to my Facebook author profile, even though I’ll probably upload so many pictures from my holiday that Beach Monday pics will be superfluous. Nah…the beach is never superfluous, right?
* Write an acceptance speech in case the unthinkable happens—um…not yet, but there’s a very long plane ride, so…
* Pack—check.
* Download the ebooks I want to read while I’m away—check.

So…can you think of anything I might have missed?

If you’re on Facebook or Instagram, I’ll be doing my best to share my trip while I’m away. But, never fear, I’ll share the highlights of my trip in my next post here. Happy July everyone!

Jul 8, 2019

Festival Time

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know I used to be heavily involved with Byron Writers Festival. After the 2018 Festival, I stepped down as Chair. It was a bittersweet moment as I loved heading up the Festival, but combining that with full-time work and a writing career proved too much.

The new program has just come out and once again it is shaping up to be absolutely wonderful. Not only is there the three-day Festival in a beautiful, beachside location, but also many satellite events and workshops.

Some of the sessions I circled in the program include:

  • Writing Process: The Agony and the Ecstasy with Isobelle Carmody, Karen Foxlee, John Marsden chaired by Nicole Abadee
  • AC Grayling on How Philosophy has Changed History
  • Markus Zusak in conversation with Angela Ledgerwood
  • David Gillespie on Teen Brains with Mandy Nolan
  • Landscape as Muse with Gail Jones, Di Morrissey, Peter Watt chaired by Nicole Abadee.

And that’s just Day One!

The Festival is being held on 2-4 August. Hope to see you there, breathing the sea air, listening to the stories from around the country and around the world.

Jul 3, 2019

The Reading Hour by Clare Connelly

I'm really struggling to dig my way through my TBR pile at the moment. Between the kids, school, designing our new house, and writing lots of words, I'm finding it really hard to get my reading time in. I don't really like to read fiction while I'm writing it, so I'm limited to non-fiction much of the time (I'm working my way through a fascinating book right now that's waaaay outside my usual proclivities). I find non-fiction stretches my brain without distracting me from the characters of my own creation, though it's a lot less gripping and therefore I can go days at a time without picking the book back up.

Up until about six months ago, I had a really good system. At 2pm every day, almost always without fail, I'd fold my laptop up and take to the sofa for my Reading Hour. Yes, a Reading Hour. I set an alarm on my phone for 3pm, because I would generally doze off at some point and that way I could be sure I wouldn't sleep through school pick-up time!

But in 2019, I've started walking every day, about 6k in the mornings. It's been amazing for my health, and for my writing because I use the time to plot up a storm, but it squeezes my writing time and makes it harder for me to adhere to a set Reading Hour because I find I have to work that bit later in the day, using every available minute. I read in the bath - I'm a recreational bather, give me bubbles, vino and a book and I'm happy! - but I'm still not getting through enough books.

What about you? Do you find you're reading as much as you'd like? Where do you squeeze your reading time into the day? How much do you read in a week? Maybe I'm just being too hard on myself but for someone who used to devour a Mills & Boon novel in a night, I'm finding my snail's pace very frustrating! And I have a permanent kindle bruise on my forehead from where I drop my kindle on my face as I fall asleep reading - tell me I'm not alone!?

Jun 30, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Clare Connelly's latest Mills & Boon Dare: HIS INNOCENT SEDUCTION .

One night isn't enough...to initiate her into the world of sexual pleasure!
I enjoy the finer things in life – aged whisky, gourmet meals, beautiful women. So when sweet virgin Millie Davis propositions me, I vow we'll savour every moment...for longer than one night! Now, I'm tutoring her in exquisite physical passion. It's completely no-strings – love is too dangerous a game. But how can someone so innocent bring me to the brink of losing control?

Scene set-up
Guys, this is a smooch from my latest Mills & Boon Dare HIS INNOCENT SEDUCTION, which is a super steamy and explicit line of romance (if you haven't read any yet, you should, they're fun and oh so hot!). But there are a few swears, sorry! So this smooch is taken from early on in the book when innocent Millie - who's sacrificed any kind of social life to care for her terminally mother AND earn her medical degree - propositions hot criminal barrister Michael Brophy to be her first...he has doubts about the sense of this, but she's determined to win him over!

‘And my judgement is that I’m a twenty-three-year-old virgin who doesn’t want to be.’ She bites down on her pillowy lower lip and I groan. ‘Will you help me?’
What’s wrong with me? Why the hell am I not just pulling her into my arms and fucking her right here? It wouldn’t be anything I haven’t done before, I think with a grimace. Is that it? Is there some kind of bullshit part of me that feels…undeserving…to be her first? Because my attitude to sex is generally so cavalier that I don’t want her virginity?
That’s madness, and it’s not me. Is it?
I have no idea why I’m hesitating.
I shake my head, as if I can mute my doubts that way.
‘Don’t,’ she murmurs, her hand lifting back to my throat. She smiles as she slides her fingers into the fabric, running them over my chest, to my shoulder. She lifts her legs, curling them over my lap, and I realise—belatedly—that she’s not wearing a seat belt.
I reach behind her, my arm brushing her breasts. ‘Buckle in.’ The words are gruff, like an order.
She doesn’t move, so I slide the seat belt around her, hooking it into the clasp. When I lift my head, her face is right there. And she’s smiling. A knowing smile. Because, for all I’m saying ‘no’, I think she feels my body, she feels my desire, she knows what I want. And it’s exactly what she’s suggesting.
‘Millie…’ The word is a warning. ‘You’re playing with fire.’
‘Mmm…’ A throaty noise of agreement. ‘And I badly want to get burned.’
I pull a face. ‘You’ve just got all the answers, haven’t you?’
She shrugs, her slender shoulders dragging my eyes lower, to the curve of her breasts. Desire whips me from the inside out.
‘So, answer me this. Why haven’t you slept with anyone?’
She shakes her head from side to side, her eyes teasing. ‘I thought we decided that didn’t matter?’
‘It matters to me.’
‘I thought I was asking the questions?’
‘Indulge me.’
‘I like to understand people. So?’
She arches a single brow, studying me for a moment, and then she smiles, a dazzling smile. ‘I’ve just never had the chance.’
My eyes are locked to her smile, but my voice is pleasingly dismissive when I speak. ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.’
Something shimmers in the depths of her eyes, but then she shrugs. ‘If you don’t want to do this,’ she says, bringing her head closer to mine, her lips almost brushing against my mouth; I catch a groan in my throat, ‘you can get your driver to let me out just over there.’ She points her thumb to a strip of restaurants and bars. ‘I’m sure I’ll find someone else who’ll be only too happy to be my first…’
I’m not sure I should fuck her, but I know I absolutely don’t want anyone else to.
‘Let’s talk about it at my place.’
Her laugh is throaty. ‘I don’t need to talkabout anything, least of all this.’
‘You should be sure…’
‘I’ve had weeks to make sure I’m sure.’ Her eyes run over my face, then drop to my body. ‘I want it to be you.’
Her confidence is a turn-on, so too is her professed desire for me. But she has no idea what this would be like between us. I told her she’s playing with fire; doesn’t she see that?
Without any sign of my intent, I drop my head and kiss her. I crush my lips to hers, curving my hand around the nape of her neck, tangling my fingers in her hair as I hold her there, exposed to my kiss, utterly mine.
I feel her moan and smile against her lips. There’s heat in this kiss. So much heat. At first she’s timid but, as desire takes over and instincts overrule any thinking she might be doing—any thinking I’m doing—we’re just two people who want to fuck each other, in the back of the blackened limo.
I’m not in the business of sleeping with virgins, but maybe it’s time I re-evaluated that. Maybe for Millie I can make an exception.
Maybe it’ll even be more fun than I’ve had in a long while.
‘Come up and talk,’ I breathe into her mouth, breaking the kiss with true regret. And then, bringing my hand between her legs, brushing my thumb over the seam of her jeans, ‘I promise I’ll make it worth your while.’

HIS INNOCENT SEDUCTION is available now! Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a signed paperback (open internationally). xx

Jun 26, 2019

Never Have I Ever by Amy Andrews

Hi, its Amy here clawing her way to the computer on her stomach, weary and exhausted from a very intensive week of writing and editing so this blog is going to be brief and basic so I can go back to bed and sleep for another 24 hours 😩

How about a round of - Never Have I Ever?

Here's my latest - never have I ever written a book that exceeded 100k!

That, my friends, is a big ass book! And why I'm exhausted esepcially as I write the last quarter in 4 days! The Trouble With Christmas will be out in October!

Now its your turn. What's your never have I ever?

Oh, and here's my new release coming out on July 15th! Click on the cover to take you to Amazon!


Marshall Dyson wants one thing and one thing only: to raze his grandfather’s island to the ground. Everything is ready to go—except for the freakin’ bunnies! Hundreds of the furry critters hopping about and multiplying before his eyes. And then there’s the American Bunny League, along with one distractingly beautiful veterinarian, taking him to court to save them...

Dr. Augusta “Gus” North can’t believe the grumpy—and annoyingly hot—builder she’s facing in court cares more about demo-ing some cabin than the lives of 200 bunnies. But when the judge orders Marshall to stay on the island and help her rehome the rabbits—the entire month—she knows they’re going to need to lay some ground rules.

Like, for example, absolutely no kissing. Might as well go ahead and get that in writing. Sure it’s on a napkin, but that still counts. How hard could it be to keep their hands off each other amidst all the fighting? Surprisingly, harder than wrangling 200 bunnies...