Dec 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

New Year 13
So it's the very last day of 2012. It's been an interesting year and, as with most years, full of good and bad:

  • London held the Olympics
  • We survived another 'end of the world'
  • The US had an election
  • Scientists discovered the Higgs bosun
  • Gagnam Style fever spread
  • Whitney Housten died
  • Hurricane Sandy hit the US east coast
  • The iPad mini and iPad 3 launched
  • Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise split
  • A man jumped to Earth from the edge of space

In my family, the night before a birthday or a new year, we look back on the preceding year and say thank you to the year for the good things. Then the morning of the birthday or new year, we verbally welcome the coming year. Cheesy, perhaps, but I like the tradition.

Tell me, what was the one thing you'd really like to thank 2012 for? Or the thing you're most looking forward to in 2013? Or both. :)


Dec 30, 2012

Sunday Smooch - Sue MacKay

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Christmas with Doctor Delicious by Sue MacKay, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Kaylee! Can you please contact Michelle Douglas at

michelle(at)michelle-douglas(dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of The Nanny who saved Christmas.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Christmas with Doctor Delicious by Sue MacKay

When paramedic Nikki Page learns that the man who shattered her dreams is back in town, she’s horrified. Especially now that Fraser McCall is even more delicious than she remembers. Getting this dreamy doc under the mistletoe is one thing, but Nikki wants more than just a Christmas kiss – this time she wants for ever!

Lead in – Nikki and Fraser have just had the worst day imaginable on the ambulance so when Nikki discovers her vehicle has a flat tyre it is almost too much. But Fraser comes to the rescue with more than a tyre change.

‘Now for that beer,’ Fraser clipped the old tyre into place in the back of Nikki’s vehicle and slammed the door shut. He turned and bumped up against Nik. Why hadn’t that peony scent warned him how close she was?

He had to touch her, hold her. Like he had earlier outside the ED. Nothing like that. That had been platonic, or as near as platonic as he was capable of being with Nikki. Which was diddly squat. But right now he wanted – no, needed – to wrap his arms around her and hold her tight, feel her chest rising and falling, her hands on his back, her fingers pressing firmly. He ached with the need. She stood so close he could feel her sharp, quick breaths on his chin.

An urge to kiss her gripped him, too strong to be denied. Placing his arms around her waist, he gently drew her nearer, afraid that at any moment she’d slap him away. At last his lips covered her sweet mouth. His tongue slid slowly inside, tasting her, stirring up so many wonderful, warm feelings and memories from the past.

Nikki didn’t pull away. Instead, she leaned into him, a soft groan slipping over her bottom lip. One hand clasped the back of his nick. To prevent him getting away? She needn’t worry. He wasn’t going anywhere. His legs didn’t have the strength required to walk.

He deepened his kiss, sliding his tongue farther into that warm mouth, exploring her sweetness, her heat. Sending his hormones into overdrive. When his arms tightened further Nikki’s breasts pressed hard against his chest. Even through the thick layers of uniform they both wore he was aware of her shape, her heat, her body.

‘I want you.’

Fraser blinked. Had he just said that? Then why wasn’t Nikki leaping out of his arms and locking herself inside the SUV?

‘No,’ Nikki growled against his mouth. But didn’t pull away.

Nikki had heard him. The words had been real, hadn’t been in his head. He wanted, needed her. But this was Nikki, the woman who’d been avoiding him for days other than to discuss emergency procedures. She was kissing him back. The woman he should be staying well clear of – for her sake. He knew he had to step away from her. But she tasted so good, how could he let go of her? Twisting his head for better access to her mouth, his hands on her chin, thumbs rubbing lightly, the world shrank to this spot. No one, nothing else, mattered.    

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Christmas with Doctor Delicious, tell me if you prefer a reunion story.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from His and Hers Family by Helen Lacey will be posted!

Dec 29, 2012

A new year looms, so there are new plans in place... by Natalie Anderson

So have you got goals in place yet? Dreamed up some resolutions for the New Year?

I really like the New Year festivities with all those traditions. I like to look back on the year that was and get excited about the year to come. It always seems rich with possibilities and plans. I'm really looking forward to 2013. 2012 was an okay year for me (definitely better than 2011 with the earthquakes and long aftermath) but I'm hoping 2013 will be a step up again--that would be very good ;)

Somehow life's gotten extremely busy - I guess having four kids will do that for you! And I'll admit it's been a struggle to fit in and achieve everything I've wanted to. To that end, I've made the decision to roam and become a 'cat in the wild' - so this will be my last regular post for the LoveCats. One of my 'goals' for 2013 is to focus mainly on the two primary things in my life--my family, and writing my stories. For now, that's all there's really space for. Which isn't to say I won't be surfing the net now and then and saying hi to all you lovelies here!

And I do love this blog - I love the writers on it, the readers, the positivity and the celebration of the wonderful romances we all love to read and to write. It's been an honor to have been a LoveCat and thank you so much for making my time here so nice.

So it's so long for now, but I'll see you again soon.

Here's to a happy, healthy and productive 2013!!!

With very best wishes,

Dec 26, 2012

A lazy, post-Christmas day

Hello Love-Catters, I'm writing to you today from the lazy day that my family enjoys on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). Around here today it's all about three things:

Books are always a popular gift in my family and usually everyone has at least one to fill in their day after the Christmas festivities are done. I've got a few to choose from, but I think the one I'm going to open first is "In the Pleasure Groove: Love Death and Duran Duran". It's by John Taylor, the bass player from Duran Duran and as I've already shared previously, I'm a bit of an 80s music tragic -- a fact my family knows well. I can't wait to read the inside story of some of my music heroes -- although I'm a little apprehensive about learning some things I might prefer to not have known!

Of course we had a massive feast yesterday. And as per usual, a  massive feast means a large amount of leftovers. So despite the fact that I went to bed last night vowing that I was never going to eat another thing ever, today I'll be getting stuck into all the remaining ham, turkey, roast potatoes and much more, along with everyone else...

All that food tends to result in one thing: a need to nap. There's at least one nanna nap in my future -- possibly two. :)

I hope all of you are looking forward to similar lazy days filled with fun and food and family!

Dec 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Lucy Cat celebrating at the Grady household
Happy Holidays!
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas Day
filled with loving family,
good friends
and all the other joys of the season. 

Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wherever you are in the world, whatever you have planned, I hope you're having a great Christmas / holiday / week!

And to help me make my wishes are two of my pack, both celebrating their tenth anniversay Christmas at the Bailey house - Dougal and Fergus. The top photos (where Dougal is in the Santa hat and Fergie is wearing the little red vest) were taken in 2002. Doogie was almost one year old and Ferg was about five months.

The next two photos were taken a few days ago and they were both rather less keen to pose for me. The hat and vest were far too small, so they're wearing red tinsel instead. And the first photos were taken on the futon, but Dougal's shoulders aren't as keen on jumping up these days, so we did them on the floor.

Hope you're having a festive time at your house too!

Dec 23, 2012

The Year That Was ....... WINNER!

The winner of the book pack is Rita Reitz!

Congratulations Rita ........ please contact Helen Lacey on mail (at) helenlacey (dot) com to claim your prize.

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The winner of last Sunday's smooch is...


Congratulations, Kaelee! You've won a signed copy of The Nanny Who Saved Christmas.

Send me an email with your postal details to michelle (at) michelle - douglas . com and I'll pop a copy in the post for you!

Wishing everyone all the very best for the holiday season. :-)

Dec 21, 2012

The Year That Was ......

By Helen Lacey

Well, if you’re reading this then maybe the world hasn’t ended! Downunder it is December 21st and in my neck of the woods we haven’t been rocked by quakes, engulfed by a tsunami or incinerated by solar flares. In fact, it’s a spectacularly beautiful day here in my little town which sits at the most southern point of the Great Barrier Reef.

And, it’s only days away from Christmas and there’s something quite magical about this time of year. The tree is up and looks beautiful with its shimmering lights and bright baubles. The weather is warm and balmy and the local summer fruits are plentiful. Call me crazy, but I just love the shopping experience as people count down to Christmas Eve. Years ago, when I worked in retail, I never really enjoyed the frenzied rush at the end to buy those last minute gifts, but now I see the fun in it. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree and I bought a carols compilation CD pack to play over the holidays. Even the dogs and cats have a little something to unwrap Christmas morning J .

So, since the predications of the end of the world haven’t come to fruition I thought is would be a good opportunity to reflect of the year 2012 and think about all the things I am grateful for.

On the career front - I had my first book release in January, so it was a wonderful way to start the year. Seeing the book in the stores was a treat, as was my first book signing. But I think my favorite thing was getting a reader letter from a lady in Canada who said she loved the book and I now had a reader for life. Going to the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference and catching up with friends was definitely on my list a good things. Being nominated for a Romantic Times Award with my second book, Marriage Under The Mistletoe, was also a highlight.

Personally – spending time with family and friends is always the most important thing. And my animals, of course. We lost one of our beloved dogs this year, which was devastating. But recently a new dog joined us and she has settled in marvellously. We also now share our life with two ragdoll cats – Oscar and Candy – and they are delightful.

Impending end of the world aside - 2012 was a great year and I’m excited to think about what more wonderful things are to come in 2013.

So, what was your highlight for this year? And what are you looking forward to in 2013? Since it’s Christmas and I love giving presents – I have a three book pack to give away to one commenter. Leave a comment and you will go into the draw.

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas!


Dec 19, 2012

When Space Runs Out - Books or Ebooks? Annie West

Some of you may have seen this photo before. It's one of the smaller bookcases in  my house. I'd show you some of the larger ones, currently half-stacked and surrounded by piles of yet-to-be-stored books, except in the mayhem I'm not quite sure where my camera has been put.

You see we've been renovating. Not adding on rooms or knocking down walls, but doing some maintenance, including new carpet (and unpacking everything so the furniture can be moved), oiling the wood on our massive sideboard and bookcase before we fill them again, and replacing the air conditioner - just for starters.

So there we were with our back room clogged full of tables, bookcases, other lounges and the contents of half the cupboards in the house. I was slowly starting to move it all back when we realised the new air conditioner to be put in that room (it was okay - there was a track leading to the spot between the stacked furniture) wouldn't fit. Well, it fitted but only if we moved one of our big bookcases, and having moved it we needed to move others to fit it in, which meant one of the smaller bookcases had to go.

Crisis! How can we lose a bookcase? Giving up any of the precious books we've acquired over the years would be like losing a limb. But I ask myself what the future will hold. A future in which I hope there will be more books given, bought and received as well as borrowed. Ideally I'd have a library. I fantasise about it sometimes - a massive room upstairs (we don't currently have an upstairs, but that's a mere fribble). There'd be full length bookcases on all the walls. My writing desk in one corner. A long comfy lounge for lolling to read and a couple of big cosy chairs ditto. There'd be a high ceiling with fans and maybe a window seat. Sigh. Yes please.

On the other hand it may be simpler and cheaper to manage without. Maybe I should be looking at ebooks instead of real hold-in-the-hand books. After so many hours looking at a computer screen I prefer reading on paper, rather than downloading but I'm wondering if that has to change.

What are your solutions to the book-space problem? Do you cull your books regularly? Do you only read ebooks? Do you read mainly ebooks and buy paperback keepers? How do you store your books?

Dec 18, 2012


Congratulations, Laney!

You're the winner of last Wednesday's prize -- a signed copy of The Nanny Who Saved Christmas.

If you send me an email at michelle (at) michelle - douglas . com with your postal address, I'll pop a copy in the post for you.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Dec 17, 2012

Christmas Songs

Love' em or hate 'em, Christmas songs are an integral part of the festive celebrations. Personally, I LOVE them - I love the way they roll round every year marking the beginning of the season, and I get excited when I hear the first one on the radio- I get a woozy goosebumpy feeling knowing there will be special times ahead.

Favourite?  Definitely, definitely Fairytale of New York (although better to listen than to watch!)

And for pure schmoooze you can't beat Mariah Carey- All I Want For Christmas is You- from the fabulously tearjerking movie, Love Actually (xmas movies is a different blog post altogether!) 

Then there are the more traditional Christmas Carols which remind me of growing up in the north of England, school carol concerts, snow, seeing my breath as I walked to school in the first glimmer of daylight, frost on the inside of the windows and pure unadulterated excitement.

We used to sing this in Latin!

And what is christmas without Michael Buble?  (My gift to you xxx)

There are so many many more- these are just a few of my favorites. Which ones do you love? Hate?
I'm spending this christmas in Thailand- I wonder what kind of music they'll have there on the 25th?

Happy christmas to everyone who celebrates it, happy holidays to you all!

Louisa x

Dec 16, 2012

Sunday Smooch -- The Nanny Who Saved Christmas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Nanny Who Saved Christmas by Michelle Douglas, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Scarlet! Can you please contact Nikki at

nikki (at) nikkilogan (dot) com (dot) au

and she'll send you a copy of Once A Rebel.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Nanny Who Saved Christmas by Michelle Douglas...

This Christmas Nicola McGillroy will:

1. Be a great nanny to Cade Hindmarsh's two adorable little girls, and give them the best Christmas they've had since their mother left.

2. Enter into the Christmas spirit and forget the fact she should have been planning her own wedding right now.

3. Keep a straight head in her attraction to her gorgeous off-limits boss... Surely this is just a rebound thing and not true love--for the both of them?

[Set up: Nicola and Cade have just had a heart-to-heart and have agreed to help each other out. She'll make sure his daughters have a fabulous Christmas, and he'll help her with her makeover plan to get fit and lose weight.]

   Was he serious—all she had to do was be Christmassy? She stuck out a hand before he could change his mind. 'You have yourself a deal.' 
   He closed his hand around hers. His grip was firm and she could feel the way he tempered his strength so as to not crush her fingers. He didn't let go again immediately and her heart started up its silly pounding and erratic fluttering again.
   Her name was a caress in the warm night air. Brad had never uttered her name like that. Her heart pounded louder, harder. 'Yes?'
   'I know your confidence has taken a beating, and I respect the fact that you'd like to get fit, but as for your weight...and everything else, I don't think you need to change a damn thing.' 
   For a moment she actually believed he was sincere.
   Oh, Nicola Ann, the man's a comedian!
   She flinched as she imagined her mother's scornful laughter. She pulled her hand from his and leapt up, moving across to the nearest veranda post. She wrapped her hands around it. 'Is that a way of saying you'll help me with my makeover plan, but as you don't think I need to change there's nothing you need to actually do?'
   'Damn it, no!'
   He shot to his feet and strode across to her, gripping her chin in his hand to force her to meet his gaze. 'You're a hell of an infuriating woman, you know that?'
   Infuriating was better than pitiful.
   His face softened as he stared down at her. 'Sorry,' he murmured, his touch on her chin becoming gentle. 'I shouldn't have snapped.'
   '' She swallowed. 'I'm probably a touch sensitive,' she allowed.
   'A person doesn't bounce back just like that after the kind of blow you've suffered, Nicola. But you don't need to change and eventually you'll see I'm right.'
   She doubted that, but she couldn't utter a single sound. Under his fingers her skin had leapt to life. His thumb traced the skin beneath her bottom lip. It made her drag in a breath that made her whole body tremble.
   'You have the most amazing eyes I have ever seen,' he murmured.
   It wasn't her eyes he was staring at, but her mouth. And he was staring at it as if he was hungry, as if he was starved. That gaze held her spellbound. It promptly cut off her mother's disbelieving comments and hurtful contradictions. She should step away. She should flee. She knew that in some deep, dark recess of her mind, but her hand curled about the veranda post all the more tightly to anchor her into place.
   Cade had become the brightest star in the night and she wanted to bask in the glow of his warmth and his...desire. Even if for only ten seconds more. 
   His free hand travelled down the post until he found her hand. He closed it around hers. He stepped in so close their chests touched. 'You smell like strawberry jam.'
   She tried to ask him if that was a good thing, but her throat wouldn't work. All that happened was her lips parted.
   And that he saw them part. 
   And knew what it meant. 
   His eyes glittered. His mouth took on a wolfish edge of satisfaction. He brushed his thumb over her bottom lip. She gasped and a low rumble of approval emerged from his chest. 
   'Amazing eyes,' he repeated. 'Hair that shines in the starlight.' His thumb stopped alternately tormenting and pleasing her lips as his hand drifted around the back of her neck to slide into the hair at the base of her skull. He tipped her head back so he could devour her face with his gaze, and she let him.
   He was going to kiss her. She knew he was going to kiss her. She hovered between breaths, waiting for it, waiting to welcome it...hungering for it.
   And from the glittering satisfaction in his eyes she could tell that he'd read that thought in her eyes—that she wanted it as much as he did, that there would be no argument or resistance.
   His mouth descended. The pressure of his hand at her nape partly lifted her to meet him, demanded that she meet him.
   And she did, with her lips ready to taste him completely.
   The kiss was not tentative on either side—it was assured and demanding. Nicola was twenty-seven years old but she had never had such a blatantly adult kiss in all that time.
   Had never enjoyed such a blatantly adult kiss. There was no game playing and no teasing or preliminaries. A question had been asked. An answer given. And then the thorough enjoyment, a wholehearted participation in the slaking of a mutual need.
   And the pleasure rocked her to her toes. She clutched his upper arms, not aware of when she'd moved, his heat and strength rippling through the thin cotton of his shirt to her palms and fingers, filling her with a sense of invincibility. His arm snaked around her waist—to pull her more firmly against him or to give her support? She didn't know and she didn't care. She was simply grateful that it gave her the freedom to dance her fingers across his throat, to smooth them over his shoulders and then plunge them into his hair to pull him closer.
   The kiss went on and on and it filled her with energy and strength and the yearning for much more!
   Eventually Cade lifted his head, but he didn't remove his arm from around her waist. She didn't remove hers from around his neck. She met his gaze head on. With Cade she didn't need to be coy.
   His eyes didn't waver from hers. 'If this goes on for much longer we're going to get to the point of no return,' he rasped out.
   She nodded. 
   His chest, pressed to hers, rose and fell. 'I need to think about that.' 
   So did she. 
   In unspoken agreement they unclasped each other. Nicola moved back to the bench as reaction set in and her knees started to shake. 
   Did she want to take this any further? Did she want to go all the way with Cade? Oh, her body was in no doubt but what about her brain...and her heart?

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of The Nanny Who Saved Christmas, just tell me what you'd most like Santa to leave for you under the tree!

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

Dec 13, 2012

Counting Blessings

by Robyn Grady

Has it been that kind of year for you, too? Incredibly busy. Plenty of drama. Here’s a few of the episodes our family has survived.

Long-term pet dies. Estrangement from family member. Emergency stay in intensive care. Gun pointed to head.

Life can be one big hairy collision after another. But when we catch our breaths and gather ourselves to go on, I think we naturally look for a brighter side.

I cried so much when our seventeen-year-old poodle was put down. But she had a long, happy life and is a part of so many loving memories.  

After a long break, that family member is back in the fold, and while the relationship is different, it’s also much stronger and deeper than before.

The emergency ambulance ride that landed our youngest in ICU meant she was treated by the best for an on-going - but difficult to pin-down - problem. Now we can plan for an operation, hopefully, early next year.

The gun incident… Geez, it could have turned out a lot worse.

On so many levels, life is about negotiation. Along the way, we lose loved ones, misunderstandings occur, scary stuff happens. Sometimes we even glimpse true tragedy before coming out safely the other side.

While Christmas is one of those super busy times, with its own set of hurdles to leap, it’s also a time to appreciate life's many gifts.  Wonderful memories...enduring bonds…welcomed opportunities…precious second chances.

What blessings are you counting this year?
Twitter @robyngrady


Dec 12, 2012

Whiskers On Kittens...

It’s that time of year when I start to look back on 2012 and think about the things that made this year unique—things that made it good and glorious and worthwhile.

I like to do this in the lead up to Christmas because it reminds me there’s more to life than a frenzy of shopping (though, mind you, I don’t mind the odd bout of that every now and again either). So, in the interests of spreading the love, I thought I’d share my list with you. And, I’ll give away a copy of my December release—The Nanny Who Saved Christmas—to one lucky commenter who plays along and lists one or two of their favourite things for 2012…or who adds a category that I forgot! :-)

These Are a Few Of My Favourite Things for 2012 by Michelle Douglas:

Favourite category romance read: Doukakis’s Apprentice by Sarah Morgan

Favourite single title romance read: Sorry, it’s a tie (I just couldn’t choose!)—The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James and Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Favourite non-romance book read: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

Favourite romance written: This is a cheat because it’s always the one I’ve just handed in. But, for today at least, it’s The Cattleman’s Ready-Made Family (Book 1 of the Bellaroo Creek series with Barbara Hannay and Soraya Lane, slotted for a July 2013 release)

Favourite new experience: Visiting Tasmania for 2 weeks in October

Second-favourite new experience (because new experiences should never be under-rated): Buying a sewing machine and trying my hand at sewing (I'm going to take a class next year)

Favourite new song: Taylor Swift’s ‘We are never ever ever getting back together.’ This was on the radio all the time when the dh and I were driving around Tasmania and I became addicted.

Favourite new recipe: Nigella Lawson’s Sweet and Salty Crunchy Nut Bars. OMG!!! Don’t click the link if you’re at all concerned about your health or your weight .

Favourite movie: I didn’t go to the movies once this year. Not once! But I am planning on seeing The Hobbit and I have high expectations.

Favourite (new to me) television program: The Big C with Laura Linney. Oh, how I love this program. Oh, how flawed the characters are! Oh, how could they make something so funny and so heart wrenching at the same time?

Favourite materialistic piece of nonsense: A pink and black Alannah Hill dress that I bought to wear to the RWAust Conference. I love this dress! I think I’ll wear it to every conference I attend from now until it falls to pieces. :)

So what about you? What’s made it to your list? And don’t forget to leave a comment, if you want to be in the running to win a copy of The Nanny Who Saved Christmas.

Dec 10, 2012

Not Another Christmas Post......

by Barbara DeLeo

So, if the rumours are true, this will be my last post at LoveCats Downunder. If you subscribe to the view that the Mayan calendar was, in fact, correct, the world is going to end in 11 short days.

In case you haven't been keeping up to date with all this, it appears that the Mayan Indians had a very sophisticated calendar system. They had three different types of calendars to track different phases of the moon and the seasons, and one of those calendars ends on December 21st, 2012.

Well, if that's the case then I have a whole lot to do in less than a fortnight. For a start, I need to read the fifty or so books in my TO BE READ pile, many of which are the latest releases of my fellow LoveCats.

If I only have 11 days left I also want to squeeze in some travel. I still haven't been to New York, to Vienna, to Cape Town or Buenos Aires, so there's going to be a lot of hurried sightseeing.

My diet is going out the window, of course. I'll be eating ice-cream for breakfast, custard squares for lunch and tropical fruit all day long. I won't be sorry to set aside the craziness of Christmas preparations, but I might just buy myself that dress that I've been wanting for so long....

I'm going to make sure I catch up with all my girlfriends every day for the next 11 days. We'll drink champagne and chocolate martinis and laugh about all the fun we've had in the decades since we met. I'll have my whole family to stay and we'll have a slide show of all the incredible holidays we've taken, weddings we've been, to and babies that have been born.

Or I might do none of these things. I might, in fact, do what I love to do best and decide that after all the doom and gloom, the worry and the angst, that there's going to be a happy ending after all.

Maybe, instead of December 21st being the end, perhaps December 22nd is a new beginning. Maybe from that day forward we'll have a world where love takes priority over war, where no child will ever go hungry, and where we judge people by their achievements rather than by the way they look.

Now that's a new calendar phase that I'd like to see.

I'd love to know what you're planning to do in the next 11 days, or what you'd love to see happen from December 22nd onwards.

Dec 9, 2012

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch! Today we have a smooch from Once A Rebel by Nikki Logan.

Buy Once A Rebel
 (only avail in UK edition)

Shy teenager Shirely Marr fell for her mother's most brilliant student: the charismatic rebel Hayden Tennant. Wen her mother passed away, both vowed to keep her memory alive by fulfilling her 'bucket list' wishes. Ten years later, Shirley's nearly done, but Hayden has yet to begin. And Shirley wants to know why.

Hayden is happily set on a path to self-destruction, and is not best pleased to find his late mentor's daughter judging his choices. The blushing girl he remembers was easy to resist, but this Shirley is older, curvier and--worryingly--far more formidable.

What has happened up until now:  Hayden Tennant has a Masters degree in ‘Influence’ and has used it to teach some of the world’s biggest corporations how to subliminally affect their customers. Social campaigner and low-end Goth, Shirley Marr isn’t a fan of his line of work but is undeniably curious about his methodology, especially his claim that love is just a series of strategic steps to secure and then exploit someone’s buy-in.  She challenges him: if it’s true that everyone does it then no-one would fall for it. But Hayden believes that knowing something is happening does little to reduce the effectiveness of the technique. He challenges Shirley to a demonstration…

 ‘For instance, I find myself very interested in the shape and taste of your lips,’ Hayden said, theatrically. ‘And I’m declaring that you so you’re aware of the direction of my thoughts and so you can plan to resist when the moment comes.’

He reached down and pulled Shirley to her feet. She rose to stand before him, pushing extra hard to get words past her suddenly tight chest. ‘This is a hypothetical, I assume?’

His smile reminded her of the Huntsman-wolf in Red Riding Hood. All the better to eat you with…

‘If that makes you feel better about your chances of resisting,’ he said.

He pulled her a little closer. Closed his arms around her, hot and strong. Her heart went berserk. ‘So the question is, Shirley…knowing what I’m doing and knowing what my goal is—’ he breathed down on her ‘—are you any less inclined to let me kiss you?’

She licked her lips. Struggled for air. ‘You’re assuming you already have my buy-in?’

Hayden blinked; slow, confident. That caused Shirley’s own lids to follow suit, growing heavier. She tried to glance away to break the contact.

‘A kiss is the touching of flesh on flesh. You started buying-into me touching your flesh months ago, the first time you let my glance rest on your porcelain skin. Then later, when you let my fingers graze your hair. Then take your hand. Even now…my eyes are roaming where my lips cannot and you’re allowing it.’

Sure enough his veiled gaze browsed her mouth and made it part in breathless anticipation. She forced it closed.

‘And now, even knowing what I plan to do and why, you’re still in my arms. I think I’d call that buy-in.’

‘Pretty clever,’ she breathed, desperate to preserve some dignity. ‘Assuming it’s going to be any kind of kiss at all.’

His teeth flashed white and dangerous. ‘And there it is. Full commitment.’

He took her weight on his arm and leaned her back into it, his mouth pressing down confidently onto hers, sliding against it, still half-smiling in his victory. She held firm against the heavenly feel and smell of him so close, refusing to give in.

She would have loved to stand, unmoved in his hold. To let him kiss her senseless and then to emerge untouched. Indifferent.

But that wasn’t going to happen.

Not in this lifetime.

The moment she resisted, holding her own—barely—against the breathless spin of her mind, he upped the ante. Plying her with the technique that must have unzipped many a skirt in its time. His mouth glided over hers, alternating pressure, his tongue teasing the firm line she maintained where her lips met. His flesh blazing against hers. Her head spun wildly.

He pulled back a little, breathed words against her flaming skin, and something about the shift of colour in his eyes told her he wasn’t playing a game anymore.

‘I’m going to kiss that dark gloss off until I reveal what’s underneath it.’

To be in the draw to win a copy of Once A Rebel, tell me which item on your bucket list are you planning on doing in 2013. Do you even have one? Or have you finished it already?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The Nanny who Saved Christmas by Michelle Douglas will be posted.