Mar 30, 2012

Desire Cover Love

by Robyn Grady.

I am dying to show off my latest cover!
Sadly it isn't quite ready.
It’s for my favorite Desire series – Billionaires and Babies. And I do have a title – Strictly Temporary – which suits the premise to a tee.
Here’s the blurb ...

Discovering an abandoned baby in the backseat of a taxi was not on hotelier Zack Harrison’s agenda. Luckily, a stunning stranger comes to his aid — and piques his interest. But before Child Services can arrive, a snowstorm strands the trio in Zack’s luxurious Colorado cabin.
Trinity Matthews wants to resist Zack’s advances, but his care and concern for her and the baby soon have her melting. As the snow falls and the heat sizzles, it’s not long before Trinity’s sleeping in his bed. And she finds herself wondering if their temporary arrangement could have permanent effects.

Babies and Billionaires are favorites with Desire readers. And why wouldn't they be? You've got oceans of passion, more than a touch of glamor and glitz, some drama and humor. Best of all you get to enjoy those cute-as diapered bundles who invariably work their way into the hero's life and, ultimately, his heart.

Strictly Temporary's NA release isn’t until July, so a touch early to offer a copy yet. But next best thing! Today I’m giving away a copy of Bargaining for Baby (warning: you'll need tissues!) as well as my first Billionaires and Babies book, Baby Bequest. Just leave a comment (maybe about a fave little-kid shot of yourself or your children or grandbabies) to be in the draw.

On a personal note, have I introduced you to the new little grand-baby in the Grady household? I think he looks like his dad.

Mar 28, 2012

Good morning (from) America!

A big LoveCats hello to you from the bright lights of Las Vegas! I'm in the US of A right now -- I had to come over for some (non-writing) work, and so I decided to add a week of vacation time on to the end and see a little more of this glorious country. I also thought it would be the perfect opportunity to come and actually see my book on the shelves in stores -- and what better blog post to bring you than a photo of my brand new book on shelves!

Unfortunately it wasn't that easy. In San Francisco, my first stop, there wasn't a book store to be found in the downtown area that stocked Harlequin books. (Please feel free to comment and let me know if I'm wrong about that -- although also understand that I'll have to throw a little tantrum about the lost time I spent searching if that is the case!)

After the work was done and the fruitless book search abandoned, we left San Francisco and headed for Lake Tahoe. Along the way we passed many places that probably would have had it in stock (Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble) except that we were racing to beat an incoming snow storm and with a compact rental car and no snow chains, we couldn't afford to stop.

So I decided, in the end, that I'd make do with posting you some photos of my book in some ridiculous places. (You might know I'm running a competition on my blog to win prizes for photos of my book in glam, bizarre and exotic places, so I figured I could put up a few entries myself!)

First off -- International House of Pancakes. IHOP. To US folks it's a pretty ordinary chain restaurant, to two Aussies on vacation it is a place full of Pancakes! Eggs! Bacon! Hasbrowns! Maple syrup! And some genuinely friendly service -- in the South Lake Tahoe spot we visited, anyway.

Check out the snow outside! It was chilly!
Then our tour took us south to the desert (well, mostly -- we had to go round some mountains and drive through a bit more snow first). I had been warned that driving through Death Valley would be boring. I don't know what those people were thinking! It's absolutely breathtaking. The contrast of scenery from snow-topped peaks to ragged bare rock within a few hours driving is astonishing. The colors in the desert are like something from one of those old layered-sand bottles. And there are tumbleweeds -- they really do exist outside old Westerns. :)

Because it's such a huge open space, I felt like I needed to make a
grand gesture. And although we went past many, many secret US
bunkers and missile silos, my t-shirt is just a coincidence. ;)
So I thought these were going to be the only photos I was going to be able to share with you. But then as we reached the city limits of Las Vegas, my co-pilot mentioned that it was a pity we weren't 30 minutes later, because the sun was only just beginning to set and the famous lights of the city weren't yet illuminated. Oh well, thought I. And then I spotted it: a Walmart Supercentre!! "How about we fix two problems in one go?" I suggested.

And we went to Walmart. And we found treasure.

All the SuperRomances look so pretty! 
Bottom shelf, but only two left! And it was almost better than winning a jackpot at the casino. (I said almost!)

Before I go, there's one more photo I wanted to share. This is from a famous San Francisco icon called Brenda's French Soul Food. I went for breakfast and it was, indeed, divine. But the staff uniforms cracked me up. I almost asked if I could buy one!

Now there's a title for my next book...
I'm spending the next few nights in Las Vegas and then after that we need to look at a map and decide where to next! Arizona is on the list of possibilities, so you may see more Cassie-in-the-desert pics -- should I ever decide to come home!

Mar 26, 2012

B(F)FFs in the animal kingdom

by Nikki Logan

Animal people won’t be surprised to hear that a new study has shown animals form strong friendships just like people do--and, just like us, sometimes it’s with someone from the wrong side of the…kingdom.

Recognising and accepting that animals form ‘bonds’ isn’t new but recent studies are challenging our understanding of these and suggesting relationships that are far closer to human friendships than just to the evolutionary family- and pair-bonds traditionally accepted.

Understanding why non-human animals form friendships is important for us to understand why mankind developed similar but much more subtle and sophisticated social systems.
(Blah blah blah. Why is it always about the humans? Why can’t some scientist somewhere study a bunch of animals just because what they do—for their own reasons—is interesting? But I digress…)

The news-streams are saying that evidence of friendship and loyalty are found in horses, dolphins, elephants, lions and rodents as well. And that fostering and maintaining close relationships means less stress and a longer life. Maybe the adage ‘safety in numbers’ works with just two, too. If you have a partner in (evolutionary) crime you can work together to hunt or forage more successfully, sooth and console each other in bad times or watch each other’s backs. Those are the animals that are more likely to survive long enough to create a new generation.

Evolutionary gold!

But…studies are now widening their focus to look at evidence that some animal friendships are done purely for the joy. The same hormone that is called ‘the bonding hormone’ in humans is present (and similarly functional) in other animals. In humans, oxytocin is the ‘hug drug’—its connected to how relaxed and ‘well’ we are and it’s closely connected to trust and generosity. If non-human animals are similarly affected by oxytocin then they’ll have the same, deep seated, evolutionarily necessary yearning for ‘a trusted companion’.

I have such a pair-bond in my household. Between my two dogs who, for the purposes of public consumption I call ‘big dog’ and ‘small dog’. Pictured here.

Previously we had a different little white dog and our big fella got on well with him. He liked having someone to tell him what to do. But when Small Dog came on the scene (someone else’s cast-away) the bond between them was immediate, very different and very sweet.

These two ADORE each other. They play, they ‘kiss’, they forage, they rest—all in close cooperation. And they complement each other perfectly. Small Dog runs the show and Big Dog does the heavy lifting.

But the interweb is full of examples of animals who—despite all the reason in the world not to—form a bond which is so enduring and exclusive it goes past ‘bond’ into ‘BFF’ territory.

B(F)FF - Best (furry) friends forever.

You can see some of them here but here's a small sample...

Golden Retriever, Chino, has a special three-year friendship with a 15-inch koi, Falstaff, who surfaces to nibble on his paws and kiss his nose. Chino wags his tail madly when Falstaff comes to the surface.

Remember ‘Owen’ the baby (zoo) hippo that barely survived the 2010 tsunami? He got pared up with 130 year old Mzee (Galapogos Tortoise) and they’re still inseparable in their new wildlife reserve home in Kenya. Although…a young female hippo has now been introduced to Owen so will she come between the two mates?

A wildlife carer rescued this days old squirrel and cared for it in her home as it grew stronger. Her (pregnant) dog kept stealing it’s house and dragging it over to her own doggie-bed and when her litter was born she invited the squirrel to be one of her ‘pups’. The squirrel eventually got strong enough to be returned to the wild and very occasionally comes to the glass door to visit at the dog.

This young buck stood-guard for weeks over a lone goose who made a nest in a cemetery urn. He filled the role of the (missing) male goose, keeping danger and people away from the nest and, when the chicks hatched, he chased off crows who predate on baby birds. When they got more independant he started wandering off.

Orphaned ele female Themba bonded instantly with male sheep, Albert when they were first housed together when she was tiny. Apparently Albert took a little convincing (ie: chasing) but after some exploratory trunk-foraging in his wooly coat he was sold on her, too, and they became inseperable. Even as she’s quadrupled in size and joined a herd she still likes him hanging around but staff have moved him out from under the feet of the less enamoured elephants and into a safer area.

Do you have a BFFF story? Maybe in your house? Your town? Is it a one-way friendship or do you see evidence of it being reciprocally beneficial?

Winners are grinners!! (Kristina)

Congratulations to Kristina Knight - you are Sue's winner from last week.

Please can you contact Sue with your postal address: lsmackay (at) ts (dot) co (dot) nz

Mar 25, 2012

Sunday Smooch - Colorado Fireman

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Colorado Fireman by CC Coburn, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway will be announced next Sunday!

And from our Legends at LoveCats segment the lucky winner of the sign hardback of Alessandro's Prize by Helen Bianchin is Joanne Dannon . . .  congratulations Joanne.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Colorado Fireman by CC Coburn ...

Colorado firefighter Adam O'Malley risks his own life to rescue Carly Spencer's young son and a dog named Molly from a burning building...and assumes that's the last he'll see of them. But Spruce Lake is a small place, and Carly and her four children are new to town. Before he knows it, Adam's mother has invited Carly, her children and the dog to stay at the O'Malley ranch!

As the widow of a firefighter, making a good life for her kids is Carly's number one priority. Meeting—and falling for—another firefighter is not. Adam, meanwhile, has been avoiding relationships because of a painful secret he's kept from everyone, including his brothers. But the more time he spends with Carly, the more he wants to move past it.

Is there a way they can become a family—Adam, Carly, kids and dog? Suddenly, he wants to find out…

Set- up
[Firefighter Adam O’Malley is facing a disciplinary hearing after ignoring his chief’s orders and entering a burning building to save a dog. The charge is so severe he could lose his job. All day, Carly and Adam’s family have been awaiting the outcome of the tribunal. When Adam arrives home grim-faced, Carly fears the worst…]

Carly slipped on her coat and gloves, preparing to go outside, although nothing could stop the chill she felt deep down to her marrow. Why would Adam want to talk to her in private? Had she caused so much damage that it had taken him this long to convince the board that she was a mad-woman and that they should ignore everything she’d said?
 She stepped outside and was about to descend the few steps to the snow-covered ground when she turned back to look at Adam. “I’m sorr—” she started to say, but Adam’s hands cupped her cheeks and he kissed her.
His lips were warm and caressing, exactly what she needed. Carly closed her eyes and drank in the sensation of being kissed by a man—a man she was starting to fall for. Big time.
He broke the kiss slowly then kissed her again. Finally, he rested his forehead against hers and dropped his hands to her shoulders. 
"Thank you," he murmured, his voice sounding hoarse.             
            “You thank everyone like this?”
He drew away and she could see his smile in the moonlight. “No, only pretty women.”
“That’s good, because I’d hate to think you kissed Ms. Wilkinson like that.”
His smile grew wider and Carly basked in it. “No chance,” he said, stroking her face with one hand. He slipped his other around Carly’s back and pulled her closer. “She was the only hold-out in the end.”
Carly inclined her head towards his warm palm. “Not seduced by your charms?” Carly knew she was mumbling nonsense, but it felt so good being touched, being held, by Adam.
“The only woman I want to seduce is you.”
Carly swallowed. “I guess you didn’t mean to say it quite like that?” she said, giving him an out.
He bent to kiss her again.

To Adam’s relief, Carly wound her arms around his neck and returned his kiss.
He deepened the kiss. After all the stress and anxiety of the past days, this was exactly what he needed. Carly’s kisses were as healing as her hands.
He drew back, rested his hands on her hips and gazed into her eyes. “You know when I said I didn’t want you to touch me ever again?”
“Uh, huh.”
“I was lying.”
            She wound her arms more tightly around his neck. “That’s good,” she said and kissed him gently. “Because if this wasn’t touching, then I was going to have to find a new definition for it.”
Adam wrapped his arms around Carly, drawing her hard against him. His mouth covered hers but the sound of cheering had them springing apart.
He glanced towards the house. Silhouetted in the living room window was his family. They’d been watching every move he made on Carly and now they were voicing their approval.
His face heated Carly raised her hand to his cheek and her touch soothed him. “I think we have a few too many chaperones,” she said with a smile.
“If I wasn’t starving, I’d carry you to my vehicle and get out of here, maybe take you to Inspiration Point for some serious necking.”
“I’d like that,” Carly murmured and kissed his throat, sending all sorts of erotic messages to Adam’s brain and other parts of his body. 
“Later then?” he said and Carly could hear the hope in his voice.
“Later,” she whispered. Her heart lifted as Adam caught her hand before drawing her back to the warmth of the house.
About to step over the threshold, she felt a prickle up her spine. She glanced back towards the darkened yard. An eerie sense of being watched from the shadows filled her with the same fear she’d experienced at the fire. But this time the threat felt closer.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Colorado Fireman,
What’s your favourite hero? Cowboy, Cop, Carpenter, Firefighter, millionaire, billionaire, sheik, computer geek – or anything else? And why?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin will be posted!

Mar 23, 2012

Athletic Heroes... by Natalie Anderson

When I first started writing romance and delved into the 'how to' books and communities, there were a few unwritten 'rules'. I'm not exactly sure where I got the idea from, but it was part of the code that sporting star heroes weren't in fashion - nor were newspapers or journalists. There'd be no real takers readers-wise. That was fine, I could live with it.
Seats in Stadium by Sura Nuralpradid

But I must admit I do like my heroes to be fit - yes 'fit/hot' as well as just fit. Most of the heroes I've written aren't team sports guys. Sure, they'll support a team but they play as an individual in some kind of fiercely competitive sport and often one that's solitary too - be it distance running, swimming, sometimes sailing. I tend towards the endurance events! Because they do need to be fit. Really fit. ;)

Then, with a number of books written, I did feature an athlete - Jack in Walk on the Wild Side. He's a pro snowboarder, but also owner of a very flash lodge and for most of the book he was recovering from an injury so lazing on the beach in summer. And snowboarding is more of a 'cool' sport (pun intended!) - not a traditional one.
FIT snowboarding hero on the sand ;)

After that I decided, given I come from the rugby champion nation, I wanted to write about a rugby club. This was largely because I'd heard about a PR assistant for one of the clubs getting to be wardrobe assistant at the annual calendar shoot - what a job!!! That idea turned into the opening scene for Nice Girls Finish Last. I continued with the rugby club for my next book - First Time Lucky? - featuring the team doctor. But neither of the heroes in the book were actually rugby stars themselves. But pro sportspeople fascinate me - their drive, their dedication, the sacrifices they make...

I'm currently working on a story where the hero is the brother of an elite rower - he was a rower too, but stopped for various reasons. So still, not a pro athlete hero - I can't quite seem to get past that old 'rule'. But I wonder whether that rule is still valid (or if, indeed, it ever was). There are several hot racing driver stories out, some gorgeous surfer guys... but what about the hurdles or sprints? Anyone?! Are some sports 'sexier' than others do you think? And would you like to read about a professional athlete at the height of his game?!

PS. If you're on Goodreads, there's a giveaway running at the moment for the rugby team's Doctor Gabe's story - just click to enter!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

First Time Lucky? by Natalie Anderson

First Time Lucky?

by Natalie Anderson

Giveaway ends April 18, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Mar 21, 2012

Legends On LoveCats

It's a great pleasure to introduce a very special guest today, as part of our new Legends On Lovecats segment . . . . . .

Harlequin Presents author Helen Bianchin

Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?

I discovered romantic fiction as a teenager, and became hooked on the genre, particularly Mills & Boon. Delightful escapism, wonderful heroes and heroines. A friend assured I’d led an interesting life as a tobacco sharefarmer’s wife, about which I’d sent her descriptive letters - why didn’t I write a book? So I did, and set it on a tobacco farm in Far North Queensland. Authentic background, incorporated some of my own experiences, and elevated the hero to owning the farm. The MS was returned by a New Zealand representative for Mills & Boon with suggestions - the length was too short, but if I was prepared to do the work he’d like to look at it again. My first reaction was “so you think you can be a writer - huh!” and threw the MS in the bottom of the wardrobe. Six months later I retrieved the MS, rewrote and sent it back to the New Zealand rep, who unbeknownst to me, sent it on to a long established writer for her opinion. A delightful and exceptionally generous woman who wrote me long encouraging letters, offered advice - which I took, then rewrote the MS again, and with encouragement sent it directly to Mills & Boon in the UK. Several months later a telegram arrived from Alan Boon to say the book had been accepted and a 3-book contract was in the mail.

How many books have you had published so far in your career?

60 books published, with the 61st a work in progress.

The world of publishing is ever evolving. How have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?

My love of reading hasn’t waned, nor has my interest in the romance genre. My particular interest is romantic suspense, thrillers with a romantic edge, regency. It’s important to study current day trends, fashion relevant to the heroine’s character and employment, particularly if she has quirky clothing tastes. As a writer, you almost become the character for whom you’ve chosen to tell their story - that part of their life where attraction blossoms into love, their emotional actions and reactions as the story develops towards the resolution. Always remember you’re writing for the reader’s pleasure, the anticipation of a good story with believable emotional content - and a wonderful ending.

What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?

There have been several highlights over the years. If I were to choose one, it would have to be the time when Nora Roberts visited Australia as the main guest speaker at an RWA conference, and I was asked to introduce Nora to an audience at a function held at the Brisbane Hilton Hotel.

Which of your books is your favourite, and why?

Reluctant Captive. Published in 1992. The story began in Mossman, far north Queensland, in sugar cane country, an area I knew well, and shifted to the luxury suburb of Vaucluse in Sydney. A suburb I fell in love with during a holiday there. Beautiful homes, fantastic harbour views and old money. The characters came alive for me - a marriage that wasn’t a love-match, a breakup, followed by a reunion. But not one the heroine wanted. Except she had little choice other than to accept the hero’s terms. No book is an easy write. Yet this one flowed from the beginning. The setting, the characters so vivid in my mind I couldn’t wait to get the words down - all day, half the night, every single day from start to finish. As this so rarely happens for me, Reluctant Captive has always remained the one I loved writing the most.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Mostly I plot. I begin with what I call my prep work. Characters, setting, theme, research. Then I write a draft synopsis, which I develop into an extended draft synopsis, ensure it gels, then plot the time sequence, and develop draft scenes which I run by my editor to gain her thoughts and insight. Then I write the first chapter (which I rewrite numerous times until it feels right). From then onwards I write each scene, not necessarily in sequence - commonly known as the Snowflake method. However, there are occasions when the characters take over and say uh-uh, we’re not doing that. So I brood, sleep on it, and endeavour to discover a new twist or turn that will work.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Never, never give up.

What do you love most about being a romance author?

The friendship with fellow authors, and the kinship with aspiring authors. Together, we’re a sisterhood who share the love of writing romance - the trials, tribulations, and the joy.

Thank you Helen for sharing your journey and passion for romance with us today! Helen's latest release is available from Harlequin . And one lucky commenter will win a signed, hardback copy of Alessandro's Prize!

Mar 19, 2012

The Other Heros.

Sue MacKay

As writers and readers of romance we love our heros. Where would a story be without one? In the trash, I guess. These heros tend to be a little larger than life . And why not? We all have our daydreams about gorgeous hunks.

So when someone once asked at a writers' meeting 'What about all the real guys out there?' my reply was 'We marry them'.

The real guys are our heros. They are the men who hug us when we've had a bad day, sit up all night with us when the world is going badly pear-shaped, and sometimes buy us chocolates or pour us a glass of wine. On a good day they'll even cook a meal or do the dishes. Sound similar to those you read about?

They also leave their clothes on the floor, forget to bring home the milk , and think it hilarious when the hairdresser uses the wrong colour on our hair.

And, they don't all come in tall, broad shouldered packages.

My first hero, my dad, used to occasionally buy mum a box of chocolates knowing full well she didn't like them while he craved them. It was the only way he could justify spending the money back then. He'd sometimes cook dinner, and man, could he cook, but he'd use every pot and pan in the house then leave mum with the dishes.

Come to think of it, my latest hero, my DB, has similar characteristics. Must buy him some teatowels for his next birthday. Would I swap him for one of the heros in my books? Only on the days I get handed stinky fishing clothes to wash!

I have a copy of The Dangers of Dating Your Boss to give away so tell me what makes a man a hero for you? Is it the every day things he does or the big picture things?

Mar 18, 2012

Sunday Smooch - Cassie's Grand Plan

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Cassie's Grand Plan by Emmie Dark, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Natasha! Can you please contact Joan Kilby at
joan (at) joankilby (dot) com and she'll send you a copy of Gentlemen Prefer Nerds.

Also, the winner of Nikki Logan's Smooch was Chey!

Congratulations Chey! Please contact Nikki at nikki (at) nikkilogan (dot) and she'll send you a copy of Mr Right At The Wrong Time.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Cassie's Grand Plan by Emmie Dark ...


Cassie Hartman knows what she needs to do to get her life under control. First, she'll get herself promoted. Then she'll update her appearance. Steps three and four - marriage and family - well, those will have to wait.

Then Ronan McGuire shows up. The too-sexy, too-polished business consultant has the power to derail Cassie's plans before she's even really started. If he doesn't approve her promotion, she'll be back to square one, and that's not an option. Cassie needs to keep her focus on that first step, no matter how much Ronan tempts her to skip ahead to the third and fourth ones .........

Tell me about your family,” Ronan repeated gently.
“Why?” Her tone dripped with suspicion and defensiveness.
“No particular reason,” Ronan said carefully. He’d meant it to be an easy way to find out more about Cassie outside of work. Seemed he’d stepped on a personal landmine instead. Damn. “You don’t have to tell me. I just thought seeing as we’re spending a week together it might be nice to know a little about each other.”
Silence stretched between them. Then her voice came out, halting and quiet, in a way that told him there was a lot more to the story.
“My parents died when I was fifteen. I have an older brother. He lives in London now.”
There was so much emotion behind her simple statements, Ronan didn’t know where to begin. He squeezed her hand and drew a little closer to her. “That must have been tough.”
“What about you?” she asked.
It was a deflection, but Ronan went with it. “A sister, younger than me. She’s a doctor – a resident now – at a hospital back home in San Francisco. My mom is a southern belle who insists on manners, is stronger than a mule and just as stubborn. She lets my father think he’s in charge, but we all know she’s the one who really pulls the strings.”
“And your father?”
“Very driven, very successful. He came to America from Ireland with my grandparents when he was only a small child. He has that special drive to carve out a niche in the world that lots of immigrants seem to share. A leader in the community.” He wondered if she caught the hint of bitterness in his tone.
If she had, she didn’t let on. “You sound like you’re very fond of your sister,” she said diplomatically.
“Siobhan? She drives me nuts. She’s always getting herself into trouble. I love her to pieces.”
“You look out for her.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“That’s nice.”
Her wistful tone made him want to ask about her relationship with her own brother, but before he could, she stopped suddenly. He halted and turned to face her.
“What’s up, Cassie?”
“This is starting to feel like . . .”
“Like what?”
“Like a date.”
“Yeah. It would be a nice date. But it’s not.”
“It’s not?”
Ronan resisted the temptation to smile at the combination of disappointment and relief etched on her face. “No, it’s not a date.”
He stepped closer to her, close enough to smell her fresh, floral perfume, to feel the heat of her body. Any closer and her breasts would touch his chest. “It’s not a date unless we kiss.” He took her other hand in his. She didn’t resist.
“Well, we wouldn’t . . .”
Her voice trailed off as he brought his lips closer to hers. Closer, closer. Her breath tickled his lips. Those bronzed eyes looked up at him, and he could see the moment she gave in. But he was too distracted to pay attention to his triumph, too aroused to recognise the challenge he’d set himself had been won. Far too focussed on the woman in front of him to hear the warning bells that should have been clanging loud enough to wake the dead.
He concentrated on her lips, full and pouty and just crying out to be kissed. They parted slightly as she sighed and her eyes fluttered closed in the ultimate surrender.

Leave a comment to be in the draw to win a signed copy of Cassie's Grand Plan!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Colorado Fireman by CC Coburn will be posted!

Mar 16, 2012

The Second Time Around.

by Helen Lacey

I was watching a early morning news program the other day and saw the wonderful story about an elderly couple, both in their eighties who had just married. Both had been widowed many years before and had met and fallen in love at their retirement home. It was a lovely, romantic story and it got me thinking about some of the novels I've read over the years, or movies I've watched, where one or both characters fall in love even though they never expect to again. You know, the ones where they've had the great love of their life, and once lost, it can never be repeated or replaced.

Sleepless in Seattle, is an example. This is one of my favourite romantic comedies with incredible chemistry between the two main characters (Amazing since they actually only appear in about three scenes together for the entire film) The hero, Sam, lost his wife eighteen months earlier and is trying to keep it together for the sake of his son. In one scene Sam is talking to a radio talk show doctor and she said something that I often think about  - "People who have truly loved once, have a strong chance of falling in love again." Of course the hero of this movie didn't think that was at all possible - until he spotted the gorgeous Annie at the airport, and experienced the 'thing'.
So, the thing of course is the thunderbolt - the love at first or second sight.

The movie Jack & Sarah is another example of love the second time around. Again, the hero has lost his wife in tragic circumstances and thinks he'll never love again. Of course he's wrong, and the journey of how he falls in love with the totally inappropriate nanny is delightful.

Many years ago I read a book by Ruth Wind, called Her Ideal Man. The hero had lost his wife and was raising his son alone. Enter the heroine, a weekend trapped in a snowbound cabin, an unexpected pregnancy and hasty wedding and presto, the makings of a fabulous torchy romance. I love this book. It's one of my keepers and a great example of love the second time around. There's something a little magical reading about a character, particularly a hero, who's sworn off love becuse the great love of his life is gone - but finds himself falling again when he least expects it.

But there are other kinds of second time around love. A elderly friend recently lost her beloved pet - a dog amongst dogs. After having her faithful companion for fourteen years she grieved and swore it was the last dog she would own. She insisted no other dog would ever compare to her treasured pooch. But six months later a new dog came into her life - one she aquired from an animal shelter. So, two hearts saved. My elderly friend now has a young dog and a new lease on life herself. Many years ago I owned a Great Dane called Libby. To me she was the dog of all dogs and I thought would never be replaced in my heart. Until two years ago and my husband brought home an eight week old Dogue De Bordeaux pup (That's him above, soooo cute) His name is Barney and he now weighs over 65kg - and he is awesome.

And the couple who met over bingo at the retirement home? Well, they both said they weren't  looking for love, but it found them anyway. And perhaps that's why second time around themed books and movies have such a huge appeal. They hint of a chance at happiness. They give us hope.

Do you have a favourite second time around movie or book? Or perhaps your own second time around story?

Mar 14, 2012

Paper Girl

by Sharon Archer

I collect paper.  I’ve collected it for years.  An article here, an article there.  I have great mounds of it, box files of my old lecture notes, filing cabinets with suspension files groaning with interesting snippets of information.
But I'm turning over a new leaf - I’m Organising!   But this leaf turning is a slow process... and not easy.

So what prompted this latest round of Organising?

Well, I dropped my bulging folder of recipe snippets!   I'd been collecting them for a long, long... long time.  Gathering them up and then trying to find the one I'd been looking for in the first place, made me look at them - really look at them.  And I realised... it was time to cull!

From 1981, in February a collection of cakes and biscuits and in June two pages of marvellous mince recipes.  Thirty-one years ago when I liberated them from a New Idea magazine, I must have intended to try them.  But I haven't.

From 1983, in May a tear-out leaflet on prepare ahead dinner parties and in August a page on bread - I haven’t tried these either!

A wad of undated delicacies and then a leap forward to 1996 for Warming Winter Wonders and 1999 for a complete herbs special.  All untried.

I've taken stabs at disposing of some of these before but then hesitated at the last moment... after all, I might suddenly need this recipe or that one.  But that's where my new leaf comes in ... I am
actually disposing of these pages... after I've blogged about them today!

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure they're all fabulous recipes but if I haven't got around to trying them out some time in the last ten to thirty years then the chances are, I'm not going to!

So now, they're gone into the recycling.  It’s just a tiny step... I have knitting patterns in another drawer... and gardening snippets somewhere else.  But this recipe clear-out is a good start, don’t you think?!

So what about you? 
Are you a hoarder?
Do you fight it or embrace it?
Do you have rules to keep it from turning into clutter? 
Any tips to share?

Mar 12, 2012


I heard the Kenny Roger’s song Coward of the County the other day. Actually, that’s a little white lie. It was The Gambler I heard, but that led me to thinking about Coward of the County, you see? But in the interests of brevity… :-)

It started me thinking about how cowardice is a trait we romance writers never give to our heroes. Villains, you bet, but never our heroes. And I started to wonder, Why not? I mean our heroes are never perfect. It’s vital they have at least one flaw to make them both believable and interesting. After all, part of the joy of a romance novel is to watch the characters grow and to experience that growth right alongside them.

Emotional cowardice is rife in romance—how many heroes have you read who are scared to risk their hearts again after a bad experience or who are simply too afraid to believe in love—but I’m talking about physical cowardice here. Hmm, and I best temper that. There have probably been heroes who have a phobic fear—of flying, of snakes, of heights, claustrophobia, etc. But do you know any heroes in category romance who have been afraid of and do their best to avoid a physical confrontation with a villain?

I can’t.

I can think of heroes who are ugly, rude, angry, overbearing, stubborn, reckless, frightening, ruthless, and even humourless, but cowardly? Nuh uh. (I can’t think of one who is stupid either, come to think of it.)

I can think of heroes, particularly in paranormal romances or romantic suspense, whose speciality is not fighting but who do have some special talent (their psychic powers will save the world, or their super-duper whizzness at computer coding will expose corrupt governments) and, hence, they have a bodyguard (usually the heroine). And when the fighting starts they try to stay out of the way because that's usually in everyone’s best interests. But it’s not that they’re frightened of fighting, they just know they’ll get in the way (and most of the time they get involved anyway).

So my question, dear reader, is this: could you love a hero who avoids a physical confrontation with a baddie because he’s afraid? Even if by the end of the book he has faced his fear and overcome his cowardice?

Mar 11, 2012

Sunday Smooch: Gentlemen Prefer Nerds

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch from Nikki Logan's Mr Right at the Wrong Time will be announced next week!  So we'll be giving away two books next Sunday!

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby (Carina Press)

Self-professed nerd Maddie Maloney is an expert on jewels. Jewel thieves are another matter entirely! So when a mysterious Englishman warns her that a thief known as The Chameleon is after the rare pink diamond on display in her aunt’s shop, she tells herself it’s just a joke. Even if she can’t get Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome out of her mind…

But Fabian Montgomery doesn’t give up easily. He’s everywhere she goes, convinced the thief will strike. And when the diamond does go missing—and Maddie is suspected of stealing it—he whisks her away from the police and together they pursue The Chameleon. Fabian plunges her into a glamorous world far from her humble workshop and transforms geeky Maddie into a sophisticated siren capable of espionage. Her mission: to seduce The Chameleon and steal back the diamond.

But Fabian isn’t telling her everything—like who he works for, and why he’s so interested in The Chameleon…

Sexy English aristocrat Fabian has given nerdy gemologist Maddie a make-over--including dyeing her brown hair red--so she can seduce the jewel thief (Roland) and steal back a priceless pink diamond. In this kiss scene Fabian is tutoring the inexperienced Maddie in the art of kissing.

Fabian took her wrists, his thumbs pressing lightly on her pulse points, and slid her arms around his neck. "Make me want you."

Maddie glared at him, struggling to maintain her outrage when his slightest touch was kick-starting her heart rate. He clearly thought he was God's gift to crazy cat ladies. Well, it was time the teacher was taught a lesson.

She wriggled closer, trying to recall the tactics used by the seductress in the subtitled movie she'd seen last month. Preliminaries had involved a lot of wet kisses and ear-nibbling interspersed with the couple occasionally pulling back to lock eyeballs and breathe deeply.

"Don't think about it too much," Fabian said when she hadn't progressed. "Just do what comes naturally."

"If you were a gentleman, as you claim, you wouldn't make me do all the heavy lifting."

"You're supposed to pretend I'm Roland. Roland may be superficially a gentleman but he's not in any way that counts."

"Stop talking, I'm trying to work here." Maddie kissed him behind the ear, adding a tiny lick at the last second. It wasn't hard to feel romantic, what with the soft tropical evening air wafting through their bungalow and the distant crash of the waves on the beach. Not to mention the hard muscles beneath her palms, the warm scent of his skin filling her nostrils, his thighs like steel girders beneath her tush.

"That's nice," Fabian murmured, settling his arms around her waist. "Not too much saliva, it dampens the ardor."

"Will you please be quiet? I'm trying to concentrate." Maddie trailed tiny kisses down his jaw. His skin was smooth shaven but with the rough hint of bristles beneath the surface. He had a new aftershave that smelled of coconut and lime. Delicious.

"A kiss in the angle of the jaw produces more of the desired effect than one on the chin."

"It's hard to seduce someone when you're being evaluated on every little thing." But she moved her lips back to the warmth below his jaw. She could feel his artery pumping beneath her lips.

"That's good." Fabian's voice had taken on a ragged edge. "Now try licking your bottom lip while you look into my eyes."

Maddie held his gaze and very slowly ran the tip of her tongue across her lip. His nostrils flared. In a husky voice she asked, "Is this doing anything for you?"

Fabian cleared his throat and shifted her on his lap. "If I were Roland, yes, I'd be responding to that."

"Good." With both arms raised, she lifted her hair off her neck and arched her back, thrusting forward the firm curving tops of her breasts. It must be the red hair. As a brunette she would never be this bold. "You're right, wearing a different mask can be liberating."

"You don't want to go overboard." Fabian's eyes flicked to her cleavage. "You're not a…lap dancer."

"Of course not. Lap dancers don't kiss their clients." She paused, uncertain. "Do they?"

"I really have no idea." His gaze remained fixed on the curve of her breast. He seemed to be having trouble concentrating on the lesson. His lips were slightly parted, as if he needed extra oxygen. 

Her own breath was shallow and fast. Leaning in, she brushed her mouth across his, this time running her tongue tip over his bottom lip. Her arms twined around his neck again and she pulled him closer, pressing against him. The contact was electric, sending a jolt straight through her. With a soft moan, she opened her mouth and deepened the kiss, angling her head as his tongue surged inside her mouth, bringing heat and pressure.

His hand molded her breast and, aching, she strained to get closer. With a groan he rose and carried her to his bedroom, still locked in the kiss.

To be in the draw to win a digital copy of Gentlemen Prefer Nerds, tell us your favorite gemstone. Do you own a piece of jewelry set with this gem?!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway plus the winner of last week's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Cassie's Grand Plan by Emmie Dark will be posted!