May 30, 2011

What is it about weddings?

I’ve always loved weddings. I love attending weddings, I love hearing about weddings, I love wedding photos – and I just love the idea of having a big party to celebrate being in love. I always have, and I’m sure I always will.

I received my first speeding fine - ever!
 - driving home from work to watch Will
and Kate's wedding. Whoops!
I’m the friend who, when a recently engaged friend apologises for going on about flowers - or some other wedding related topic - always makes it very clear that I don’t mind in the least. Talk as much as you like! Even better, show me photos of what you’re deciding between!

I’m sure you get the idea - I love a good wedding :)

So, you’d assume that when I became engaged, I would have had my wedding all planned out. Well, I didn’t. I guess I’m a bit superstitious, but it never felt right to me to think too much about my wedding until I was actually having one.

And just to make things interesting, I decided to have the wedding nine months after our engagement (surely weddings aren’t all that difficult to plan?), and at about the same time I entered the New Voices competition.

Thanks to New Voices, I had significantly less time to plan my wedding that I expected (not that I’d complaining!), and a really positive result of this was that I had no time to over-think anything. I had to make decisions quickly. And consequently, two weeks ago, I had my dream wedding. I married my own hero at the park where we first met, and had the reception in my mum’s backyard beneath a beautiful tree, rice paper lanterns and wooden hearts dangling amongst the branches, and our friends and family all around us – and all absolutely carving up the dance floor! I wouldn’t change a thing – it was absolutely perfect.

The best thing about weddings is that they’re all different. The weddings I’ve attended, and the weddings I’ve read about in so many romance novels, are never, ever the same. But they’re always beautiful, and always so full of love.

Do you love weddings too? What do you love about them?

In your romance novels, do you like to read about the hero and heroine’s wedding, or are you happy to end with the proposal?

PS I don't yet have the professional photos, but I love this pic of my new husband and I (still not used to saying that!) taken by Nikki Logan.

May 29, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Prince of Scandal by our fabulous guest author Annie West, who writes for Mills & Boon Sexy, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Helen! Can you please contact Sharon Archer at

sharon (at) sharon-archer (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of The Man Behind the Badge.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Prince of Scandal by Annie West ...

Ruling prince...
Raul, Prince of Maritz, is furious that an archaic law is forcing him to wed. But scandal and unrest has dogged this prince for years, and a
marriage to recently- discovered princess, Luisa Hardwicke, will help bring stability to the monarchy.

...reluctant princess

Only Luisa is an outspoken, mud-splattered, farm girl, who isn't going to come quietly! Even as she's reluctantly transformed into polished perfection, Luisa challenges Raul at every turn, and he finds himself anticipating their wedding night with an excitement he never imagined he’d feel...

‘I want to marry a man who makes my heart race and my blood sing-’

Strong hands closed on her upper arms and she gaped up at the starkly sculpted face suddenly so close. A passing light played over him. Far from being coolly remote, heat ignited in Raul’s eyes. His expression sent adrenaline surging.

His head lowered and his warm breath feathered her face.

‘Like this, you mean?’


Raul’s mouth claimed Luisa’s, pressing, demanding, till on a gasp her lips parted and he took possession.

Too late he realised his mistake.

The spark of indignation that had urged him to silence her grievances flared higher. Hotter. Brighter. He tasted her and heat shimmered, molten in his blood. He delved into her sweet, lush mouth and discovered something unexpected.

Something unique.

He slanted his mouth, demanding better access. Needing more. A ripple of stunned pleasure reverberated through him. He’d suspected almost from the start that there was something unique about Luisa. But this…!

His tongue slicked across hers, laved and slid and explored and there it was again.

An excitement, an anticipation he hadn’t felt since he was a green boy.

Still it persisted. The feeling this was different.

He tugged her satisfyingly close between his wide-planted legs. His other hand slid up into the thick, silken mass of bright hair that had caught his eye as he’d walked into the salon this afternoon. He’d wanted to touch it ever since.

It felt even better than it looked, soft as seduction.

The fire dropped to his belly, kindling like a coiling Catherine wheel that jetted sparks in all directions.

Tension screwed unbearably tight as her hand fluttered at his neck, a barely there touch that weakened his knees. When she slid both arms over his shoulders to clasp his neck a great shudder rocked him.

How could a kiss ravage his senses?

Trying to staunch the feeling that he spun out of control, Raul moved his lips to the corner of her mouth but she turned her head. Instead of an almost chaste caress, he found himself transfixed as her lips opened beneath his. Her body pressed close and her tongue slipped into his mouth in a move that he’d have called tentative if it hadn’t sent every blood cell in his body rushing south.

Her kiss was slow and deliberate. Unbelievably provocative as she treated him to a devastating sensual exploration that almost blew the top off his head. Shivers of delight coursed through him.

Raul slid a hand under her long coat, over the tight curve of her bottom. His splayed fingers dragged her close, where that flicker of heat was now a blazing furnace.

He swallowed her
gasp, returning her kiss with growing fervour. Every nerve was sharp and aware, as if it had been an age since he’d held a willing woman.

Luisa tasted like sunshine, felt warm and soft and luscious like a summer peach.

Heat spiked in his groin. The audacious notion rose that here, now, they should let passion take its inevitable course.

Prince of Scandal was released in the UK in May. It will be available in Australia and New Zealand in June, and in North America in August. To be in the draw to win a signed copy, simply answer Annie's question!

"When I wrote Prince of Scandal I based Prince Raul's quaint, picturesque capital on a city I knew and loved (if you're curious, you can see the photos on my website at ). If you were dreaming of a Cinderella story, where would you set it?"

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Ice-Cold Lover by Mel Teshco will be posted!

May 27, 2011

Party Planning Possessed!

By Natalie Anderson

The Party Planner heroine has been in vogue for some time and I totally know why. It’s a most fun way to spend a day!

Yeah, I was going to write about the creative power of H2O today, but I find my life has been consumed by planning my 7 year old's party which is on Saturday...

This is basically a major form of avoidance – we’re moving towns next week and I’m supposed to be decluttering the house so when the packers arrive on Wednesday I’ve gotten rid of all the unnecessary and all the rubbish. It’s an awful, overwhelming job – because we have too much STUFF. And it is so much more fun surfing the Internet and coming up with groovy games and tricky clues for a Scooby Doo mystery…

I was once crazy enough to make all the kids
 mini construction worker jackets 
with their initials on the back - even though I can't sew! 
I had to take the borrowed machine to 
the shop to get them to thread it for me...
Scooby is a perennial favourite – all my kids and their mates love him, so do most the adults I talk to. There’s something about the lovable, perennially hungry hound who’s a big chicken and a hero all at the same time.
So we’ve got ourselves a mystery to solve with a Birthday Phantom trying to steal the presents, a giant Scooby poster in which to ‘pin the tag on Scooby’, balloon Monsters to Mash, a Witch to wash away with water bombs and so on… Yes, it’s all totally over the top and I’m probably having more fun planning than the kids actually will at the party, but hey, I need the fun right now!

My biggest remaining concern is the cake – I think I’m going to try and create a Scooby face using fondant icing… yes, definitely tipping into mad territory. But then I am the woman who stayed up all night in my hospital room down the corridor from my newborn twins’ ICU unit, icing a cake into a penguin for my eldest who was turning four the next day. The nurses thought I was crackers. I think I probably was – but that’s hormones for you and the maternal drive to do whatever for their child – I didn’t want Miss 4 to miss out on her fun cake and party just because her newborn twin sisters had just upstaged (and pretty much upended) her life!

The made-in-hospital penguin cake...
But after the penguin, I ‘outsourced’ the kids’ parties for a while – gym parties, museum parties, yes – McDonald’s parties… so all I had to provide was the cake. It was just easier when I had so many young kids. So Scooby is the first party the boy has had a home for a few years and he specially requested a party at home, with some kind of a treasure hunt and for it to all be a surprise for him. No pressure then! ;)

And I have to admit, after the running around today finding masks and making spooky decorations, I’m not sure I’d want party planning as a full-time job – the pressure to come up with something new/bigger/better/bolder every time and being able to meet the party-goers expectations every time… oh wait a minute, that sounds a tad like writing romance novels! – Getting more creative, coming up with new while meeting the expectations??? Hmmm!!! No wonder we writers can identify with that career!!! What about you readers - is party planning a fun career choice to read about?
The mad things mothers do...
colouring in the giant Scooby for
'pin the tag'

And have you ever gone crazy over the top planning a party?!
 What’s the best birthday party you remember from your childhood or that you've organised? (I’m on the prowl for ideas for the next round you see!!!)

To prompt your recollections, I’ll giveaway a copy of my own party planning heroine Lissa from RUTHLESS BOSS, ROYAL MISTRESS – to a commenter with the most fab party story, together with a copy of my latest release THE END OF FAKING IT. Now, the Australian version comes as a duo with THE MAN SHE LOVES TO HATE by the most fabulous, triple RITA nominated Kelly Hunter – so there you go, the best ever reason to share your most awesome party moments!!!

May 25, 2011

Breaking Out

Craving adventure? Considering a Life Make-over? Ready to chase that dream that been lurking in your heart for years?

I’ve just returned from a glorious month’s holiday in Europe and I feel inspired! Everywhere I went, I saw examples of people who have broken out, taken risks

Firstly, there is Paul, Comte de la Panouse who was in his early twenties when he decided to set up an African safari at the Chateau du Thoiry, 40km from Paris. In the intervening forty years he’s been bitten by a hippo, trampled by an elephant and kidnapped by poachers but his boundless enthusiasm and energy remain undaunted and his passion for animal conservation is undimmed. People said he was crazy, it would never work, especially as he refused to put the animals in cages. How wrong they were. Today you can either drive or saunter around the huge grounds to see over a thousand contented animals living in huge, leafy enclosures.

My highlight was walking under a glass tunnel with a lioness lying right above my head! Paul and his wife are having fun. For kids they've also provided talking trees, a maze and play areas for them.

Not far away is Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, one of the most

architecturally significant homes of the twentieth century. Le Corbusier wanted a home that would seem to float above the land and where walls are freed from structural constraints. Built 80 years ago, it’s still like entering the setting out of a futuristic novel, full of fascinating angles and lines with photo opportunities at every turn.

In Greece, we stayed on Samos, an island only 3km off the Turkish coast. We rented a beautiful little house right on the shore of the Aegean and were the very first visitors in this new venture of turning a family home into a holiday villa in these economically tough times. Our hosts had no English, we had no Greek but Greek hospitality transcends language. The garden was sown with vegetables which we were urged to eat and our hosts arrived on our second day with a huge crate of oranges, lemons and grapefruit they had just picked themselves from their orchard.

People breaking out, taking risks.

I love the spirit, the daring which I’ve tried to capture in my new book, A Risk Worth Taking where characters dig deep and face their darkest fears, willing to risk all to realise their dreams.

Have you made a dream come true or been inspired? Please share and be in to win a copy of my book which is released next month.

May 23, 2011

What is it about June...?

by Nikki Logan

Ever noticed how life sometimes hands you a really sweet piece of synchronicity?

Back in 2008 I wrote my first category length romance novel—my second only novel of any kind. I called it The Player and was extra-fond of it the way people are extra-fond of their first child. But while The Player was working the competition circuit (and with me brimming with fondness for category romance) I decided to try another, targeting a different line. To see where I fit most naturally.

The Romance Writers of Australia were running an event called “50K in 30 Days” during June 2008 and the simplicity of that really appealed to the fast-writer inside me.

A whole book, in a month. I could do that. And if I couldn’t well then it only cost me a month finding out.

So I spent the last days of May scribbling down a loose plot and I wrote a book in June 2008. Page 1 to The End. And I liked this one, too, though for different reasons. 

Christina Pailthorpe ©
I also liked the process of writing alone but together. There were twenty-or-so of us that year all beavering away diligently in our respective garrets but all coming together online to commiserate, celebrate and motivate. The very best of both worlds.

Right in the middle of June, The Player won a competition and a senior editor for M&B in London requested the full manuscript. Distracted by my exciting new story—I think I may even have grumbled at the interruption to my fabulous month of intensive writing, ungrateful cow that I was—I bundled up the full and sent it off to London with very little fanfare (or finesse). And I forgot about it and went back to my book-in-a-month.

To the siren-song of the new story.

On June 30 I sat back in my chair, flexed my tendonitis-riddled fingers and smiled at 52,000 words of new story. Even partially edited.

And then my eyes raised to the horizon and a new idea that had bubbled forth half-way through the last book. I put my thirty-day book in the metaphorical drawer and kind of forgot about it. It had served its purpose.  Category romance and I got on very well.

A few months later I was contacted by that London editor who had requested The Player back in June and whose to-be-read pile had eventually whittled down to it. She wanted to talk revisions and she wanted to read anything else I had.

(The drawer! Quickly, the drawer!)

I hauled my thirty-day story out, botoxed it and put it in heels and shoved it out onto the streets of unexpected opportunity. And damn me if it didn’t sell!

So the editor who had asked in June to see my first novel ended up buying another story that I wrote…in June. She offered me a contract for three more books…the following June. And, just to round off the synchronicity, that first story releases in Australia as Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong… this June!  

Cue spooky music.

I’m doing ‘50K in 30 Days’ again this year because—experience has shown—June is kind to me.  I’m not as free to simply immerse in a new book this year because I have another book to write at the same time and a New York conference to go to, but I still feel that same pioneer spirit that goes with starting something new.  (A paranormal, not that you asked). But it has June written all over it, don’t you think?
Mr June

And lots of other good things are connected to June.  I get paid in June. The rain starts in June. This guy is Mr June.--->

So if you’re a writer and want the company, camaraderie and compulsion of a month-long writing challenge… think about joining me in the 2011 RWA ‘50K in 30 Days’. Please say hi. I don’t bite.

Oh yeah… it’s in June.

(Contact to take part)

May 22, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Man Behind the Badge by Sharon Archer, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Ju! Can you please contact Anna Campbell at

anna (at) annacampbell (dot) info

and she'll send you a copy of Midnight's Wild Passion.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Man Behind the Badge by Sharon Archer...

However hard city-girl and new-doc-in-town Kayla Morgan tries, she can’t resist being impressed by the law-enforcing Tom Jamieson! But taking a bullet in the line of duty has made cop Tom rethink his work hard, party harder lifestyle – will he ever let Kayla see the real man behind the badge?

[Set-up: Kayla is the doctor-on-duty at a High Country camp draft weekend. Everything about the event is a first for her, including spending the night in a tent. Tom's family has a traditional barbecue on the Saturday night and Kayla has agreed to go. As far as she's concerned, regardless of how attracted she is to Tom, the dinner is not a date!

Tom walks her back to her tent afterwards and this is their first kiss...]

“Kayla?” Tom stepped closer to her, felt the heat of her body reaching out to his. “I’m going to step out of line.”

She looked up at him. He felt the small shudder that shook her. “Are you?”

“Yes.” He ran his finger tips up her arm. “What are you going to do about it?”


Lifting his free hand slowly, he cupped her face, feeling the soft skin against his palm, the cool silk of her hair across his fingers. She tilted her head, offering her mouth to him.

He could fe
el the tension in her, watched as her lips parted slightly and she bit down on her bottom lip for a tiny second then released it so it plumped back up.

He leaned forward slowly, gave her time to stop him. Her eyelids drifted shut. Over the thunder of his heart, he heard her quick shuddering breath.

And then his lips touched hers, pressing gently and everything else became irrelevant. The sensation was
electric, exquisite. He rubbed his mouth across hers slowly, backwards and forwards. The sweet softness gave under the pressure, inviting, making him want more than he should on a first kiss.

Eyes shut, he savoured the explosion of taste. Delicious. Exciting.

Her fingers wrap around his wrist. Flexing once, twice, as though she was debating whether to tug his hand away
. But in the end she just held him as though anchoring herself.

He drew her bottom lip into his mouth with a gentle suction and ran his tongue over the succulent flesh. Then reluctantly let it go.

Pulling back sl
owly, he struggled to surface. Kayla didn’t move for a long moment, her mouth stayed offered up to his, swollen, inviting. Unbearably tempting.

Her eyes opened. He heard the shaky breath she sucked in, saw her breasts rise and fall. He clenched his jaw with the effort of not plunging back to take more. He wanted to bury his fingers deep in her hair, use both hands so he could tip her head and take their kiss to a whole new level. Pull her under
into the tide of excitement that was raging through him, threatening to sweep him away.

But he had to resist. He wasn’t in this for a quick tumble. He wanted more, wanted it all. This was for keeps. The thought crystallised. She was what he wanted for his future.

Reining in his lus
t, he pressed a kiss to each corner of her mouth and stepped back.

“Let’s get you into your tent.” His voice was hoarse.

“M-my tent?” She sounded as dazed as he felt.

“Yeah. While I still
remember my promise to behave,” he muttered as he bent to unzip the door. His fingers fumbled with the tab but after a moment he had it open. “There you go.”

“Th-thanks.” She stepped into the tent. “Goodnight, Tom.”

With a sense of desperation, he quickly zipped the door closed before he could disgrace himself by begging.

The Man Behind the Badge is out in the UK in May 2011, Australia/New Zealand in June 2011, and USA in June 2011.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy, simply answer this question!

Do you remember your first kiss?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Prince of Scandal by Harlequin author Annie West will be posted!

May 19, 2011

Roles of Horses in Novels

Reading: Raised by Wolves - Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Watching: Desperate Housewives
Listening to: Black Eyed Peas
Making me Smile: Fiji holiday in a week

Anyone who knows me well enough would have a fair idea of my love of horses. And though my three children each have a horse, I’ve been unlucky with my own 'steads' of late and have a couple of gravesites in the paddock of my old mates =((

I don’t ride all that much anymore, at least not until I find myself another great horse at some stage, but I still admire them and like to write them into an occasional story or two. But it got me to thinking about the role of horses in books.

Historical novels abound with horses and carriages. Often we read about the steed that (who?) carries the hero to the heroine’s rescue, or the bad guy giving chase on his abused mount. And I’ve so often noticed the colour of the steed to be indicative to the nature of the rider: the huge black stallion who carries the hero, who is often a tortured/wounded soul and often misunderstood, or the proud and arrogant rake who just hasn’t found his perfect heroine yet (g)

Western novels. I don’t think a western would *be* a western without the prerequisite horse and carriage. And what about the sheriff’s horse, the Comanche’s sure-footed mount or the farmer’s all rounder who plods in front of the buggy, the plough or under saddle.

Then there are the many other genres. The horse shape-shifter or perhaps the unicorn in a paranormal. The thoroughbred racehorse in a single title/mainstream book or the Shetland pony in a children’s novel.

The all round usefulness of our four-legged friends in our stories makes me realise just how much we’ve had to rely on them in real life. I’ve had the pleasure of reading many great books featuring horses, books I’ve loved over the years.

The black stallion by Walter Farley. I think I read this book a hundred times as a child, as did my brothers and sisters.

Black Beauty by Anne Sewell. This book from the POV of BB I think really opened a lot of people’s eyes to the treatment of horses—animals in general. I know this one had me sniffling many times as a young girl, and the movie still does.

The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. I read this one and most of the other books in the series umpteen times. These too are in the POV of the horses, and their fight against the elements, man and sometimes each other.

So tell me, are there any other great fiction books out there featuring horses I should know about?

May 18, 2011

Deadline Drama

Reading: A Family for the Rugged Rancher by Donna Alward

Watching: Grey's Anatomy now that it's back on!!

Listening to: Brooke Fraser

When I was unpublished, I used to be so envious of writer friends who had deadlines. All I wanted was a deadline. Multiple deadlines! Because that would mean that an editor was waiting for me to write my next story . . . that they actually wanted to read my work.

Now that I’m published, deadlines are suddenly a whole lot more scary. Even though I write relatively fast and often hand in work before it’s due, I still have each deadline date in my mind and worry about it regularly. What if I get writer’s block? What if I can’t turn a good first chapter in a great full length story? The “what ifs” are endless!

In the end, it all works out, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But on the published side of the fence, there is a whole lot more pressure to perform. And like many other authors out there, there are days when I love my writing and other days when my confidence plummets. On those days, looming deadlines can be terrifying. But then you receive author copies of a book in the mail or see a new listing for one of your books on Amazon, and its like an instant shot of confidence.

So how do you perform under deadline? Do you thrive under pressure, or does the very thought of having to deliver material by a specified date leave you a quivering mess?

May 16, 2011

Reading: The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell
Listening to: Waves rolling onto the beach
Getting ready: To start chapter one of a new book,
always the best time.

I love flowers, big bunches of brightly coloured ones. One of the things I miss since living out in the Marlborough Sounds is being able to wander down to the Saturday Market in Nelson to buy my flowers for the week. It's a great way to follow the seasons too. My absolute favourite, the Dutch Iris, is coming into season right now.

Flowers are rays of sunshine on a dull day, a pick me up when things aren't going right, and more importantly, the perfect gift. I give flowers to people more than anything else. They show love, care, sympathy, and of course, romance. Not that I'm being romantic to all those people I send them to!

My husband thinks I'm nuts sending people flowers. "They don't last." But I say they put a smile on the face of the recipient, and a drop of warmth in the heart. They say someone cares about you. And my man should know. Not long after I moved in with him I sent him a bunch at work just because I could, to say Hi there, I'm in your life now. He owned a printing business along with another guy, and when these flowers arrived a sales rep and a client were there also, all good blokes, if you know what I mean. My "bloke" was apparently stunned, then, being him, a little embarrassed. Why hadn't I sent them to the house where these guys wouldn't have seen them? Then the sales rep told him, apparently very wistfully, that he'd been married nearly thirty years and never once had he been sent flowers. Suddenly my man admitted it was the coolest thing.

Note to self, put more flowers in my books.

Have any of you sent your man flowers? What was their reaction?

May 15, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Midnight's Wild Passion by our fabulous guest author Anna Campbell, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Helen! Can you please contact Anna at:

anna (at) annhackettbooks (dot) com

and she'll send you a downloadable copy of Hunter's Surrender.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Midnight's Wild Passion by Anna Campbell...

London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge…

The dashing, licentious
Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister—now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue—banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie—Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is, and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.

Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes…

[Setup: Nicholas Challoner, Marquess of Ranelaw, is bent upon revenge on his long-term enemy Godfrey Demarest. The perfect instrument of his vengeance lies in his sights, Demarest’s innocent daughter Cassandra. Unfortunately for Ranelaw, Cassie’s chaperone is the redoubtable Antonia Smith who knows all about rakes and their strategems.

Ranelaw is unaccountably attracted to Antonia and decides to kill two birds with one stone – he’ll scratch his itch for the dowdy companion and seduce her into allowing greater access to Cassie. After a prickly exchange with Antonia at a society musicale, he climbs a cherry tree and breaks into Antonia’s bedroom...]

A chaos of impressions, familiar and unfamiliar, overwhelmed Antonia. She knew how a man’s embrace felt. But the fierceness of this hold, the hard strength of this body, the clean, fresh smell, these were all Ranelaw.

She flung her head up to deliver the scolding he deserved, then forgot everything when she met the blazing excitement in his eyes. A blazing excitement echoed in her pounding heart and rushing blood.

“No…” she whispered but he didn’t seem to hear.

He bent his head and kissed her hard. He was ruthless. He was insatiable. He gave no consideration to her unwillingness or her lack of preparation or what he believed was her inexperience.

Shock rather than anything as commendable as virtue kept her unmoving under his mouth. Even as molten heat flooded her and a deep trembling set up in the base of her belly.

With a muttered exclamation of frustration, he raised his head. He seized her shoulders in an adamant grip and stared down at her. “You can do better than that.”

Anger flashed through her. The famous lover had kissed her with all the finesse of a navvy breaking ground for a new canal. “So can you,” she snapped.

Immediately she realized her mistake when challenge sharpened his black gaze.

“N…no,” she stammered, at last making some attempt to sidle away. So far she’d stood in his embrace like a quiescent doll. She needed to start thinking about self-preservation before it was too late.

It was too late.

“Ah, but how can any red-blooded man ignore a demand from a lovely lady?” he said silkily.

“Believe me, you should ignore it.” Her voice was as uncertain as her attempt to escape.

“Chivalry forbids.” His lips twitched with the humor that never failed to transfix her. She was so utterly brainless when it came to Ranelaw. He turned her common sense to sawdust. Before she could summon a crushing retort, his touch softened to seduction and a calculating light entered his eyes.

Run, Antonia, run…

Her feet didn’t heed her mind’s panicked message. Instead she waited in tremulous silence for his mouth to claim hers.

At the touch of his lips, she made a muffled sound in her throat. She clenched her hands in his coat, ready to push him away. Until he began to ravish her mouth and her knees turned to water. The salty, spicy taste of Ranelaw flooded her senses.

Briefly everything but pleasure receded. With a sigh, she sagged into his arms. Impossibly she felt him hesitate, as though her abrupt surrender disconcerted him. Before she could take advantage of the fleeting reprieve, his mouth moved in unmistakable demand. Everything dissolved into heat.

Antonia shut her eyes and drowned in hot, black delight. Deep in the recesses of her mind, she admitted this was what she wanted from him. Had always wanted. It was wrong, but his kiss made her feel more alive than anything else in the past ten years.

Midnight's Wild Passion was released in the US in April and in Australia and New Zealand at the beginning of this month. To be in the draw to win a copy signed by Anna (wearing the sunnies in the photo to the left), answer the following question:

The Marquess of Ranelaw is undoubtedly a classic Regency rake and I think it’s pretty clear he’s met his Waterloo in Antonia. Why do you think Regency rakes are so endlessly popular with readers?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The Man Behind the Badge by Sharon Archer (wearing the hat in the photo) will be posted!

May 14, 2011

And the winner is...

I love a good contest!

If we’re talking Downunder, the biggest and best is the Romantic Book of the Year Award, affectionately known as the RuBY. Past recipients include favourites Trish Morey, Marion Lennox, Anne Oliver, as well as our own fabulous Ruby Cats, Sharon Archer and Tracie Sommers. This year’s finalist announcements went out at 12.05 Tuesday am. The LoveCats have not one, not two, but – wait for it, folks - THREE nominees!

We are both pleased and very proud.

First up in the Short Sweet Category is the wonderful Michelle Douglas with The Cattleman, the Baby and Me.

Next in the Short Sexy Category is the talented Natalie Anderson with Hot Boss, Boardroom Mistress.

And last, but by no means least, is a former RITA finalist, Emily May, in the Long Romance Category with The Unmasking of a Lady.

Winners are announced at the Romance Writers of Australia prestigious Awards Dinner, where the crème de la crème clasp their hands and hold their collective breath as the run of stellar announcements are made. Guests this year include classic Presents author Jane Porter, super agent Kristin Nelson, New York Times bestselling author, Susan Wiggs, and that’s only a taste!

The RuBY Awards themselves are, in a word, spectacular. I dream of setting one atop of my mantel. Hmm… Guess I’d better get a mantel first!

Do you love awards ceremonies? Have you attended any? If you could win an award, what would it be and who would you thank?

May 10, 2011

FIVE THINGS I LOVE ABOUT AUTUMN... and a favourite autumn recipe or two

by Michelle Douglas

Reading: Million-Dollar Amnesia Scandal by Rachel Bailey

Watching: Tomorrow When the War Began

Listening to: Crowded House

Making me smile: Autumn!

Autumn is my favourite season. Today, as I'm writing this, the sky is blue and the air is still and crisp. The screeching of the sulpher-crested cockatoos has just settled and fingers of light are filtering down through the trees.

Oh how I love it! And for some reason it all seems quintessentially autumnal.

Why do I love autumn? Let me count the ways:

1. It's not too hot and it's not too cold: you can wear jeans or skirts, long sleeves or short. And I really love it when the weather is not the main topic of conversation. You know what I mean, those conversation that start: "This is a record heat wave, you know?" or "Did you know this is the wettest summer in twenty-five years?" I like it when the weather is so perfect we don't notice it.

2. Walking: with the let up in the humidity - and I will confess that I am not a heat and humidity kind of gal - I love my afternoon ambles. I try to walk regularly year round, but autumn is the best. And a bonus is that by 4:30 the shadows are lengthening, which for some reason makes my chest expand in gratitude.

3. Public Holidays! Easter and Anzac Day both fall in autumn. While both are times of remembrance and gratitude, they are also traditionally occasions for spending time with loved ones, eating lots of chocolate and playing two-up. And not going to work. :) Also, Mother's Day falls in autumn and my mum, sister, niece and I have a traditional girls' weekend - we cook up a storm and hunker down in front of girly dvds. What's not to like about that?

4. Royal Gala Apples: I will be honest and say that I'm not a great apple lover. I really truly wish I loved apples as much as I love donuts, but that is simply not the case. Unless we're talking Royal Gala apples in autumn. YUM! They just taste like autumn. Here's one of my favourite ways of eating Royal Gala Apples:

Honey Baked Apples

Ingredients: 4 Royal Gala Apples; 1/4 cup honey; 1/2 cup dessicated coconut; 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; grated rind of 1 lemon; 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Method: Wash and dry apples. Score skin with fork. Remove core leaving base intact. Remove a little more apple to make the opening wider. Brush with honey and roll in 1/4 cup coconut. Combine remaining coconut, apricots, lemon rind and cinnamon. Spoon into the centre of each apple. Place in microwave dish and cook uncovered on high for 4-5 minutes. Halfway through cooking, press down the filling with a spoon and place more filling in the opening. Allow to stand for 3-5 minutes before serving. Enjoy! (with cream, ice cream or just on their own)

5. My slow cooker: autumn is the time to pull my slow cooker out of its summer retirement. And I always dust it off again with glee! Is there anything better than the smell of a casserole simmering, the scent drifting all the way through the house? I love a whole variety of casseroles, but in homage to the vegetarian LoveCats among us, here's one of my favourite vegetarian slow cooker recipes (and for those carnivores out there, I'm guessing you can already see how easy it would be to add whatever else your red-blooded heart desires).

Chilli Bean and Vegetable Combo

Ingredients: 1/3 cup of olive oil; 400g baby egg plant, thickly sliced; 2 large onions, chopped; 6 garlic cloves, crushed; 2 large red capsicums, chopped; 1 x 750ml Italian-style tomato cooking sauce; 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper; 2 small red chillies, finely sliced; 400g zucchini, sliced; 300g kumera, peeled and cubed; 1 x 420g can of chick peas, drained and rinsed; 1 x 750g can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed; 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped.

Method: Heat half the oil in a non-stick pan. Add eggplant in batches and cook over medium heat until golden brown. Remove from pan and place in the slow cooker bowl. Heat remaining oil in non-stick pan, add onion, garlic and capsicum and cook until the onion softens. Add tomatoes, cayenne and chillies. Cook for one minute. Place tomato mixture, zucchini, chick peas, kidney beans and parsley into the slow cooker bowl. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Serve with hot crusty bread rolls.

What's your favourite month? Do you like autumn too, or do you grieve for the summer sun? Most importantly of all, though, do you have a favourite autumn recipe to share?

May 9, 2011

A Few Facts about eBooks

Reading: Marked by Elisabeth Naughton
Watching: Time Team
Listening to: Nursery Rhymes…over and over again
Making me smile: My little boy enjoying his bath

I’m not shy about the fact that I’m an eBook convert – I have a huge love affair going on with my Kindle and the stories I write are only available as eBooks. So I keep a close eye on what’s happening in the world of eBooks and thought I’d share a few facts:

~ eBook sales growth is in the triple digits

~ eReader sales continue to grow and the devices continue to evolve: Kindles are slimmer and smaller with 3G WiFi, the Nook comes in colour, the iPad offers a multi-purpose device

~ Many publishers are starting to offer digital lines: Harlequin has Carina Press and Avon has announced Avon Impulse

Image: Barnes and Noble, Inc

~ Some self-published eBook authors are finding great success – author Amanda Hocking is a regular in the Kindle Top Ten Bestsellers and off her success has reportedly sold her new YA series to St. Martin's for $2 million.
~ Several established print authors (such as J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler) have left print for eBook

~ Many publishers and authors are ensuring their backlist books are being digitised (Harlequin is working hard to digitise its backlist of category books so your favourites are always available!)

Do I think paper books are dead? No. Not yet anyway and not for a very long time. There are still plenty of things to be sorted out in the eBook world: geographic restrictions, standard file types, advances and royalties…but I certainly believe digital is the way of the future.

So what are your thoughts on eBooks? Do you own an eReader? Do you read eBooks? If yes, what do you love about eBooks? If no, what's stopping you?

May 8, 2011

Sunday Smooch

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Hunter's Surrender by Harlequin author Anna Hackett, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Zoe! Can you please contact Bronwyn at

bronwyn (at) bronwynjameson (dot) com

and she'll send you a signed copy of The Bought-And-Paid-For Wife, plus your choice of one of her Special Releases or Bestseller Collection re-releases.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from the recently released Nocturne Bite, Hunter's Surrender by Anna Hackett...

Vampire hunter Rand Wilder hated vampires – even if they were as beautiful and alluring as vampire princess Dominique Valois. For years he fought the beings who had killed his father, resisting their dangerous sensuality. Yet even Rand was tempted by the intoxicating Dominique and her shocking offer: to hurt the vampire court by taking her virginity….

A desperate need to ruin her reputation had forced Dominique to seek out the hunter known as The Darkness. But she hadn’t expected Rand to be so captivating and compassionate…. Soon a very different sort of need drove her desire to take Rand to her bed. And with Dominique’s survival depending on it, she would have to use all her skills of seduction to make this
strong hunter surrender to passion….

[Set-up: Vampire Dominique has vampire hunter Rand Wilder held in her thrall while she makes a very indecent proposal…and uses all her wiles to convince him to accept...]

“I told you, I’m not interested.”

Dominique’s eyes narrowed. “Really?”

That one word dripped with feminine challenge. Rand’s nerves stretched tight.

Her hand moved across his chest, a nail scraping over his nipple. He swallowed a groan. Her hand inched lower and then even lower.

“I do believe, Monsieur Wilder, that you are lying again.” Her hand cupped his rock hard erection through his jeans.

Jesus. Pure electricity flooded through him, making his skin feel too tight and his muscles threaten to turn liquid.

She stroked him and savage hunger sang through his system, screaming for him to touch her, take her.

“Don’t you want me?” Her husky murmur carried so many forbidden promises.

Her hand continued its torture, stroking the hard length of him. Her other hand curled around his neck and brought his head down. She was tall, but he was taller and he felt her go up on her toes to press her crimson lips to his.

That luscious mouth moved like a whisper over his, small nipping bites that teased, barely giving him a taste of her.

But what grabbed at him was the trace of hesitancy. Like she hadn’t kissed many men.

The thought fired through him. Emotions—hot, rich emotions—stormed through him and riding the wave was the strongest desire he’d felt.

It’d been so long since he’d felt pleasure, enjoyed anything other than killing. It’d been far too long since he’d held another against him. He needed to taste her.

With Dominique caught up in her seduction, Rand broke through her thrall. His hands gripped her hips, his fingers sinking into leather-slicked skin. He yanked her to him and took control of the kiss.

He plunged his tongue into her warm mouth and swallowed her groan. She tasted of fresh and sweet, cool spring water and natural honey. She tasted of innocence and desire, a combination that stole his sense. He dragged that taste inside him.

The force of his kiss bent her head back, but Dominique returned everything he gave. Her hand slid into his hair, clenching there. Rand slid one of his hands between them and pressed her other hand against the bulge in his jeans, crushing those elegant fingers against his heated body.

Right now, Rand didn’t care who she was, or what she was. Right now, Dominique was a light in the darkness his life had become.

Hunter's Surrender
is currently available from all good e-bookstores. To be in the draw to win a free download, tell Anna which you'd rather be if you had the choice: a vampire, or a vampire hunter!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Midnight's Wild Passion by Anna Campbell will be posted!

May 6, 2011

Friends of the Heart

Michelle, Rachel & Emily, 2009.
Yesterday I had lunch with the gorgeous Robyn Grady, fellow LoveCat and friend. It was a 5 hour lunch (which is kinda short by our standards). We talked about writing and life and families and publishing and books and all good things. I had a deadline a few days ago, so this was *exactly* what I needed to relax afterwards.

Nikki & Sharon on ferry to lighhouse.
Regular readers of the blog will know that a couple of months ago, I went on a writing retreat to an isolated lighthouse with Nikki Logan, Sharon Archer and our friend Alison. We got a lot of writing done, but we also had fabulous fun - curled up in the little loungeroom watching movies at night, on our lighthouse tour, at gin o'clock.

I have a couple of other get togethers planned soon with other lovely friends and the RWA conference is only a few months away where I'll see even more of my friends, so I'm feeling especially spoiled in the friend department at the moment. And it got me to thinking about the role friends play in our lives. Good friends, the ones we turn to when things go wrong, the ones we want to celebrate with.

LoveCats at conference, 2010.
Tell me, do you have people like this in your life - friends of the heart? Are they people you meet face to face, or mainly know them online? Are they people you've known since you were kids, or more recent acquisitions? I'm just in the mood to talk about friends!

May 5, 2011

Anna Campbell's Blog Winner!

It's my very great pleasure to announce the winner of Anna Campbell's latest release, MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION!

Bakin Goddess!

Kimberly, please contact Anna on

anna (at) annacampbell (dot) info

with your postage details and she'll get a copy of her book into the mail for you! I know you're in for an absolute treat with Nicholas and Antonia's story!

And thank you, everyone, for sharing your modern Lord Byrons! I can see lots of inspiration for romance writers in our List of Handsome Heroes!

PS Anna's back with us on 15 May to share an excerpt on our Sunday Smooch AND she's generously offered to giveaway another copy of MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION! So drop in again for another chance to win a copy of this fab book!