Oct 31, 2012

Turns out a puppy *is* for Christmas!

by Nikki Logan

My first ever Christmas book comes out in November and I’m so pleased to be sharing the space with two fantastic authors: Myrna McKenzie and Carole Mortimer. The three of us were tasked with writing a novella each for the anthology, A Puppy for Christmas. Carole chose to write a workplace story (with a maddening boss with an even more maddening puppy), Myrna gave a struggling war veteran an irresistible puppy/neighbour combo.
And I…?
I toyed for a few minutes with a story which highlighted how very much a puppy was NOT just for Christmas, but then I decided that an animal welfare lecture wasn’t very Christmas-y. So I gave it some more thought. I knew I wouldn’t be writing any old pups. I wanted better puppies, wilder puppies, more puppies than any puppy book ever! Puppies galore!! And thus my third of the anthology was born, complete with a gorgeous French zookeeper, an ambitious but wounded veterinary nurse and not one, not two, but EIGHT wild dog pups desperately needing life-saving vaccinations.

Out in US/UK/AuNZ in November.

Here’s the background of my novella - The Patter of Paws at Christmas.
Zoo Vet nurse Ingrid isn’t much on Christmas because her family split down into two new families pretty  much as soon as she moved out of home, and between her toddler-aged new half-siblings, an inherited uncle who’s heavy on the groping, and two parents who are being so darned civil about their divorce, Christmas has most definitely lost its appeal. So she volunteers to work the night shift from Christmas Eve through to New Year’s Eve, monitoring a wild dog pack for the first signs of emergence of their eight pups from a very rickety den dug by the first-time mother.

What she doesn’t know is that she’ll be sharing the watch with a gorgeous zookeeper, Gabrielle Marque. The same man that she had an ill-advised one-night stand with twelve months ago right after he arrived. Right before the French import stole a coveted promotion out from under her.  
Ingrid and Gabe do their best to keep things professional and civil—after all they’re there to give the pups some life-saving anti-parasitic treatment before they and their developing immune systems get infected with some pretty nasty bugs doing the rounds of the pack—but their past won’t be shaken off as easily.

All that French gorgeousness, all that history, all that past pain, and all crammed into a three-meter square observation room that is little more than a bunker. Twenty-four-seven. For a whole week.

I loved writing this book and, coincidentally, I got to write it in December and so it was a wonderful way to spend last Christmas. I typed ‘the end’ in fact, on Christmas Eve 2011. I’m thinking I’ll read the entire anthology on Christmas Eve 2012 for a nice spoil.
I have one copy of A Puppy for Christmas (featuring all three stories) to give away to one lucky commenter who tells me what you’ll be doing on Christmas Eve 2012. Or whether you’ll have a puppy in your house right about then. Or whether you’ve ever volunteered to work to get out of Christmas family obligations.   Hey…it’s Christmas, I’m easy.

Oct 29, 2012

Hot Downunder - a sneak peek!

A couple of our ex-LoveCats (or Cats in the Wild, as we like to call them), Mel Teshco and Tracey O'Hara, are part of a new series of erotic romance being put out by Momentum, so I thought I'd invite along one of our WildCats, Mel Teshco, to tell you about them. Over to Mel...

Thanks so much to the Lovecats for showcasing the first five stories from the Hot Down Under collection, published by  Momentum, the new digital line from Australia’s Pan Macmillan.

These are short, erotic stories that will leave you fanning yourself and wanting more…

The first five stories will be released Nov 1 but this is the first collection of many released over the coming months.

Let me introduce you to the first five…


Kristen Treymore isn't living anymore – she's existing.

Trapped in marriage to Jack, an alcoholic who uses his fists to communicate, Kristen has given up her freedom in an attempt to protect his daughter.

When Conrad Doyle, childhood friend and the man whose heart she unwittingly broke, shows up on Kristen's doorstep and offers her a lifeline, she can't refuse.

What she never dreams possible is how much she still wants him—but is that enough to keep them together when terror still beats deep in her heart?


Can an online fantasy ever become real?

When Condamine connects with Esquire in a chat room, neither expect their mutual pleasure and close friendship will become something far more intimate and real. But when the opportunity to meet Esquire in the flesh comes up will Condamine – Caitlyn, in real life – be bold enough to act out her deepest fantasies, or will she hide away from the world behind the comfortable glare of her computer screen?


Natalie has watched as the zombie plague devastated civilisation.
Angus had been a miracle. Twenty-three years old and gorgeous he had appeared like Romeo from the pool area and thrown supplies up to her balcony. But now Angus is gone – he has abandoned her, which is probably for the best. She couldn't stand to watch him die too.

Stranded four floors up and fenced in on all sides by the infected, food and water supplies are running as low as Natalie's spirits. A lingering death from starvation seems inevitable.

But then she sees Angus striding for the pool gate with a sawn-off shotgun in his hands. Can he make it past the infected to reach her? And what will it mean if he does?


Ishari is a djinn – the veritable genie in a bottle.

Her latest master, Caleb Salt, a hot young rock star, has one wish left. The curse of sexual need has nothing to do with the lust she feels for him, but he doesn’t seem to desire her in the same way.

Caleb has used his first two wishes to save his brother. Will he do the same with the last, or will he use it for himself? Either way, once he makes that wish, his erotically sensual genie will be lost to him forever and she’s something he’s just not ready to lose.


In the outback town of Mount Tully, many a man's had to squeeze into a frock after backing the wrong derby cane toad on Australia Day.

But Mount Tully's surliest bartender, Jane Hood, has her steel-capped boots planted firmly on the ground, so there's no way she'd risk her independence to accept a saucy bet from the sexy but bossy pub owner, Luka Belov ... is there?

Thanks for dropping by, Mel. It's great to catch up with out Wild Cats. =)

What do you think of those covers? The Hot Downunder authors will be giving away a prize to one random commenter. 

Oct 28, 2012

Sunday Smooch - Defying Her Desert Duty - Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Defying Her Desert Duty by Annie West, but first ...

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

Congratulations, Mary! Can you please contact Robyn Grady at

robyngrady (at) hotmail (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of The Wedding Must Go On.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Defying Her Desert Duty by Annie West ...

Chained by silks and jewels

Across the bustling nightclub bodyguard Zahir El Hashem watches his latest charge temptingly sway on the dance floor, his pulse quickening. Returning the princess to her bridegroom might not be such a simple operation after all...

Soraya Karim knew that one day she must resume her royal obligations, just not so soon! Clinging to the last shreds of her freedom, Soraya insists they take the long way back to the palace. Zahir cannot refuse her, but a liaison is utterly forbidden...

(Set up: Soraya and Zahir have been fighting their attraction to each other for weeks. She is promised to the man who has been like a father to Zahir and for reasons of her own, Soraya believes she can't turn her back on this royal marriage. Just before this scene Zahir had found Soraya trying to overcome her fear of the water. Rather than let her put herself at risk, he begins teaching her to swim.

   A man would have to be made of desert stone not to respond to Soraya.
   Despite his reputation as a hard warrior, Zahir was made of all too human flesh. If only he were stone!
   How could he hold out against a woman who appealed to him on a level no woman ever had? Not even the girl he'd been head over heels in love with as a youth.
   'Zahir? What's wrong?' She was standing, water sluicing down the black top that clung like a second skin.
   He shook his head. 'Nothing's wrong.' He turned away. 'That's enough now. We'll continue tomorrow and you can learn to float face down, ready to swim properly.'
   'Really?' She caught his hand and stopped him moving away. 'You think I'm ready?'
   Reluctantly he turned and looked down into a face that to his dazzled eyes seemed flawless. Excitement shone in her eyes and her smile wrapped around his heart.
   He wasn't aware of reaching out but found his hand cupping her jaw. Her satiny skin was smooth and sleek to the touch. Her pulse trembled against his fingertips.
   Something deep inside, something stronger than logic or caution, roared into life.
   Her eyes were wide as she swayed towards him, her lips parting. To warn him off?
   It was too late.
   His lips met hers and the world collapsed around them.

   Soraya had imagined his kiss so often. She'd even dreamed of it. The reality obliterated her imaginings as a tidal wave would the ripple of a single stone.
   Zahir's broad hands cradled her face, his touch tender yet strong as he held her head just so and angled his own for better access.
   His questing tongue slicked her lips, parted them, and she shuddered in great racking waves as sensation exploded within her. Zahir devoured her, invited her, stole her breath with his audacious demands yet even while plundering rapaciously, offered back such sweet, poignant pleasure Soraya was lost.
   The fresh taste of his breath was in her mouth. It was the most delicious flavour in the world - spice and salt and the mystery that was maleness. His scent filled her nostrils. His hard body was muscled and intriguing, his heart thundering with hers. His wet skin burned, branding her through her clothes, making her breasts tingle and a curl of tension twist deep and low.
   Instinctively she grabbed his shoulders, swaying as her limbs melted and the world became a place she didn't recognise.
   Nothing had prepared her for the vital life force throbbing through them as if they were one. Or the need spiralling out of control and the sheer wanton delight of being in his arms. Every sense was hyper alert. Even the softly eddying water was a silken caress drawing her deeper into sensual overload.
   She'd never felt more frail, more delicately feminine than now, with his heavy-muscled thighs braced wide around her, his hands trapping her, and his mouth seducing her with sheer carnal pleasure.
   Yet she'd never felt stronger. As if power sizzled and sparked in her blood. As if she could lay mountains low with the single flick of her fingers.
   His kiss shattered her and rebuilt her at the same time.
   Her hands slid from his shoulders to the back of his neck, up through his damp hair and he growled low in the back of his throat. It was a sound of approval, of male possession, and she revelled in it. Revelled in the power she, even with her inexperience, had over this man who haunted her thoughts and dreams.
   His tongue slid against hers, demanding a response and she gave it, tentatively at first, then wholeheartedly, lost in the wonder of this heady passion.
   Her body ached, throbbed for Zahir. Only him. She wanted to climb his tall frame and meld herself against him. She needed with a desperation she'd never experienced or thought to know.
   Even the rough pressure of his chest expanding against hers incited a thrill.
   Soraya pressed closer. She loved the feel of his body, the unfamiliar outline of muscle, bone and sinew. The tickle of his hairy legs against hers. Lifting herself higher into his hold her hips tilted against him and she registered the solid proof of his arousal.
   At the feel of him hot and heavy just there against her, she stilled. A frayed thread of common sense told her to move away, yet some older, sense-deep feminine instinct urged her closer.
   Soraya was swaying nearer when firm hands grabbed her upper arms. An instant later she gulped huge drafts of air into oxygen-starved lungs as he put her from him. But nothing made up for the loss of Zahir's mouth on hers, or his body against hers.
   Hungrily she eyed his reddened lips. They were drawn flat now, matching the horizontal lines furrowing his brow.
   Yet his eyes didn't match his scowl. His eyes were smoky dark and held a hint of the same shock she felt.
   Soraya loved his eyes, she realised. From the first when they'd watched her so intently she'd felt a sizzle of awareness. Even when he'd looked askance at her, Zahir's eyes had fascinated. Now they shared the secret she felt. The secret turmoil of amazing emotions and sensations.
   The secret his grim face denied.
   'I'm sorry.' His voice was harsh and unrecognisable. 'That shouldn't have happened.'
   His gaze left hers to fix on something over her shoulder. As if he couldn't bear to see her. Or as if he couldn't face what he read in her expression.
   Soraya felt something crumble inside.
   She gulped down a shaky breath and searched for control. Her heart pounded and she had the shakes so badly she wasn't sure she could stand without his support.
   'But you can't pretend it didn't happen.' The words emerged breathless and uneven.
   She didn't understand what made her say it till he yanked his gaze back to hers and heat exploded inside.
   That's why. Because you want to feel it again - what Zahir makes you feel.
   Because you want him to admit he feels it too.
   But Zahir shook his head, thrusting her further away.
   'It was wrong.' The last word was dragged from him as if from a tortured soul and she felt his pain as hers. His hands dropped and he stepped back, as if unable to remain within touching distance.
   As if she tainted him.
   Of course it was wrong. Soraya understood that all too well. To desire her husband-to-be's most trusted advisor was disastrous. Unthinkable!
Yet it felt so right. When it was just her and Zahir it felt incredible.
   'Zahir. Please, I...'
   She didn't know what she was going to say. Only knew she couldn't bear the pain she read on his proud features. That she had to ease it somehow.
   Yet he didn't give her the chance. before the words had left her mouth he'd vaulted from the pool, every line of his athlete's body taut with rejection.
   He didn't say a word as he strode away.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Defying Her Desert Duty, just tell me the most fun you've had doing something you knew you shouldn't do!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from A Girl Less Ordinary by Leah Ashton will be posted!

Oct 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to...

...well, me actually!

It's my birthday today and I'm *mumble mumble* - actually, I decided a couple of years ago just to remain in my mid-thirties. Apparently a recent study showed that people's attitudes regarding their age really did have an impact on their bodies. So those who thought they were young, actually had 'young' bodies (and better health) while those who felt old, had more of the age-related ailments... hmmm. Might be a load of bunk but I'm sticking with the plan to be mid-thirties for many years yet! What do you think--is age is a state of mind? ;)

Anyway, having enjoyed breakfast in bed thanks to the hubster, I've just packed the kids off to school for the day and then I'm going to go do a few errands at the shops (this may or may not include browsing for a new top!). After that I'm going meet my hubby for lunch in town, then after school its the usual ferry-the-kids-to-all-the-activities... so we're postponing the official 'birthday dinner' until tomorrow.

I have a book I'm going to relax with for that last hour or so after lunch and before the kids get home, and I'm very much looking forward to that - and I thought you might like a book to read too!

So here's a birthday present for all you guys--you can go and grab BARGAIN IN BRONZE the first of my FLIRTING TO WIN novellas for free from Amazon right now (and remember, you don't need a Kindle to read it, you can download the free app for your computer, tablet or smartphone). Grab it here.

Happy reading all!

Oct 24, 2012

Vicarious pets

by Emmie Dark

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of all the travel that I do is that I simply can't justify having a pet of my own. The poor thing would be in kennels or with babysitters more often than it would be with me, and I just don't think that's fair. But the upside is that I have lots of vicarious pets! They might not know it, but all my friends' pets belong a little bit to me too. :)

So when a friend of mine announced on the weekend that she'd adopted a new black kitten from the shelter and called him Samson, it wasn't long before I was quickly asking, "When will Samson be taking visitors?"

Lucky for me, Samson was pretty keen for visitors, even if he was a little bit shy at first.
Visitor? What visitor? I'm snuggled here with some milk, and
I'm not overly fussed with anyone else.

Samson was bought to be a companion for Audrey, a lovely little kitten (also from a rescue shelter) who gets a bit lonely during the day when her mama's at work. Although we're sure Samson and Audrey are going to be the best of friends eventually, their first couple of days together have been a little bit fraught. Audrey, like any older sister with a new baby in the house, is quite put out that she's no longer the centre of attention. (For most of the time I was there, she sulked in the bedroom.)

When I visited Audrey when she first came home, she was the most curious cat I've ever known. Not only did she have no problems with cuddling up to stranger, she was off exploring every corner and crevice of her new home. And that little toy mouse I'd brought as a present? It didn't stand a chance.
No hiding under the sofa for Audrey. "Now I've got you, mouse! "
Samson is quite different. We know from the shelter that he was found at the back of a fast-food outlet, scavenging. So it's understandable he might be a little wary of people. While he was comfortable snuggling with his new mama, he wasn't in the least interested in exploring his home. And that big sister of his? Eek, she's a little scary.

I have a mama? And a sister? It's all a bit much for a little kitten to take in...
After he snuggled for a while, he went to his favourite place--under the sofa. Audrey is too big to fit under there now, so he was safe and could have a little time-out from the overwhelming new environment. And given that's he's completely (and beautifully, fluffily) black, when I peered under the couch, all I could see was a couple of little eyes staring back at me. Not scared, not frightened. Just taking it all in. In his own time. While Audrey is a little actress, Samson is more of a thinker. 
I'll just sit right here for now.
Welcome Samson, to the menagerie of Emmie's vicarious pets. I know that once you get settled you're going to feel right at home.

Oct 21, 2012

Book Recommendations, Please!

The Black HawkLast year, at about this time, I asked for book recommendations for my birthday and Christmas wishlists, and boy did I get some great suggestions!

Helen S said she'd recently read The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne and loved it.

Someone is stalking agent Justine DeCabrillac through London's gray streets. Under cover of rain, the assassin strikes--and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her. The man she once loved. The man she hated. Adrian Hawkhurst.

I checked my local library - they only had Her Lord And Spymaster, so I borrowed that one. Goodness! It was *fabulous*! So I asked for (and received) HLAS plus the other 3 books in the spymaster series for Christmas, and the set has travelled to my mother and sister's houses since then. We're all now Joanna Bourne fans, so thanks, Helen S!

Another huge success from that blog post was Marybelle's recommendation of Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

 A haunted forest. A cursed castle. A girl running from her past and a man who's more than he seems to be. A tale of love, betrayal and redemption...

Again I borrowed it from the library first, but I adored it - a beauty and the beast tale with old world magic and fantasy set in Ireland - and ordered my own copy. Thank you, Marybelle!

Then there was Kylie Griffin's suggestion of Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

For 2,000 years, Julian of Macedon has lived a curse of being a love-slave. When he is summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander's sexual fantasies, Grace is the first woman to see him as a man with a tormented past. Taking him out into the world, Grace teaches Julian to love again, but can that alone break the curse he is under?

Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunter Series Prequel)Kylie suggested this as an alternative to the Dark Hunter books which might be a bit, well, dark for me (I'm a complete 'fraidy cat at heart!). She said it would be funny and more light-hearted. Boy, was she right. *Such* a good read. Thanks, Ms Griffin!

Actually, as I re-read the suggestions in that year-old post just now, I realised there were some that sounded up my alley that I didn't follow through so I'll start with those, but I'd still like some more recommendations, pretty please!

So, what's the best romance you read this year? My wishlist needs your suggestions! I love category, historicals, fantasy, paranormal, contemporary, comedy, young adult, basically any romance except rom-sus and scary stuff like scary paranormals (did I mention that I'm a total 'fraidy cat?), but you can post any suspense suggestions if you have them because others reading the post might like them. 

Thanks! I'm rubbing my hands together with glee already. :)

Sunday Smooch!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Wedding Must Go On by Robyn Grady, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Bn100!

Congratulations, Bn! Can you please contact Nikki at

Nikki (at) nikkilogan (dot) com (dot) au

and she'll send you a copy of Wild Encounter.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Wedding Must Go On by Robyn Grady ...

Designs on the best man... With his best friend’s wedding suddenly cancelled, and an important business deal riding on it, Nate Sparks needs to get them back up the aisle ASAP! The best person to help is feisty maid-of-honour Roxy Trammel – otherwise known as Trouble… Luckily Roxy also needs this marriage to go ahead – her reputation as a wedding dress designer depends on it! Nate proposes a plan to get the jilted lovers back together – and if it doesn’t work…? He’ll walk Roxy down the aisle in her design himself! All Roxy can wonder is: is that a threat…or a promise…?

(Set up: Nate and Roxy have a single 'goodnight kiss' history. While he'made clear he's not up for a relationship, he does need Roxy's help to get their best friends' cancelled wedding plans back on track. After that embarrassing kiss'n'run incident, Roxy wants nothing more to do with Nate. However, she does want to see her friend happy. She'll talk, but first - needing to attend customers waiting out in her shop - she grudgingly asks Nate to help to unjam the zip on the wedding gown she's wearing - a much prized dress that is in the running to win an international contest.)

Outside, the desk bell pinged. Roxy jumped, called out, ‘I’ll be right there,’ then glanced down at the gown she still wore. Which, frankly, looked great on her. The white satin suited her skin’s natural glow. The sweep of her waist in that bodice was hypnotic. Not that he would allow himself to be concerned with any of that. He was here to get his plan on the table and any bugs ironed out before they went ahead with Operation Back Together.
He said, ‘I thought you were changing.’
‘I couldn’t get a hold of the zip.’ She whirled around. As the train slapped his shin, he was presented with a tantalizing rear view. ‘You’ll have to help.’
Alarm bells—red and flashing—went off in his head. An invitation and bare flesh equalled temptation. Sure, what Roxy proposed seemed innocent enough but, in essence, she was asking him to help her undress. To open himself up and be vulnerable to the call of his baser urges, which he had trouble enough containing where Roxy Trammel was concerned. He held up his palms.
‘I’ll pass.’
‘You can’t pass.’
Believe me, ‘It’s safer I don’t.’
‘I trust you not to do any damage.’ When he didn’t budge, she groaned and muttered, ‘Okay. Time to get this out in the open.’ Her fists finding her hips, she rotated again. ‘I won’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy the kiss we shared that night because, while I’m loath to admit it, I did. And I admit my reaction was…enthusiastic. But if you think I’m so desperate that I’d use sex to manipulate a marriage proposal, think again. And if I were to do such an abhorrent thing—’ her nose rose a regal notch ‘—it wouldn’t be with you.’ She hesitated, then went on. ‘In fact, I’ve been kissed since and, frankly, yours pales in comparison.’
Nate’s gape turned into a smirk. And she called him a liar. He knew just how much she’d enjoyed that kiss. Almost as much as he had. Still, if she could play this Arctic ice-shelf cool, couldn’t he? Hell, it was only a zip. She wasn’t asking him to slip off a garter or nightdress or that itty-bitty pair of silk panties—which he’d best not think about right now.
When he lifted his chin, she lifted hers. He twirled his finger—turn around—and, hoisting up her skirt, she whirled again. The dress’s back was scooped low and, with her long fair hair twisted up, Nate was greeted by an unobstructed, blemish-free landscape. Delicate twin shoulder blades bracketed a sweep of smooth tan skin and two accidental curls spiralled either side of the dent of her spine. Pleasant warmth pooled then solidified high on Nate’s thighs. But he took a deep breath and, focusing not on the view but the task, doggedly searched. After a full-on few seconds, he huffed. No wonder she couldn’t find it.
‘There is no zip.’
‘It’s invisible,’ she told him. ‘Feel around inside the bodice facing.’
Nate scratched his head. Did she say invisible? And, ‘Bodice what?’
‘Slide your finger up and down the inside top of the seam.’ She dropped a wry look over one shoulder. ‘You do know what a seam is, don’t you?’
‘A rich deposit where minerals are found.’
She rolled her eyes as if to say, Men. ‘Just don’t tug too hard.’
When she turned back, Nate shook out his hands, rubbed his palms together. Not sweaty. Not cold. All good. He edged one fingertip inside. Her skin was toasty-warm and smooth as the satin. And now he was aware that she was wearing the same perfume she had that fateful night. Subtle. Something with lavender? Whatever the ingredients, the scent was light and fresh and… Nate filled his lungs.
The kind of bouquet I could breathe in all day.
He snapped open eyes that seemed to have drifted shut. Roxy had implied that she’d dated since their evening together. Leaning closer, he slid his thumb down and felt around. He hated himself for needing to ask but couldn’t a guy be curious?
‘So, I take it you’re seeing someone.’
‘No one in particular.’
Chewing that over, he found something small and difficult to grab high at the top of the crease. Squeezing just enough to get a grip, he added, ‘And yet someone’s swept you off your feet.’
Those curls tickled the back of his hand as she purred. ‘I’ve been swept off several times since that night.’
His bite tightened and grip firmed more. He was jiggling in earnest when, outside, the desk bell rang again.
‘I’ll be right out,’ Roxy called pleasantly, then to him, ‘What’s taking so long?’
‘Inexperience,’ he growled. With a wedding gown, at least. This darn thing didn’t glide as it should. ‘Don’t force it,’ she told him.
‘I’m not forcing anything.’
Shifting, he began to work it in a hopefully more fruitful and earnest kind of way. Clearly this exercise needed a little more of the ol’ Nate Sparks finesse. Three seconds later, she complained, ‘You’re too rough.’
‘Relax.’ His fingertips rolled, then tugged and rolled again. ‘Just a few seconds more.’
‘Nate, not so hard.’
‘Almost got it—’
The zip suddenly gave. Actually what gave was the fabric splitting either side. While Roxy stiffened, Nate’s heart stopped beating as he held his breath and stared. It wasn’t much of a tear. Really barely noticeable. But when Roxy turned around, her expression said it all. Her face was a mask of disbelief, anguish. Rage. And her eyes, which had looked merely annoyed earlier, now spat green fire.
‘Tell me you didn’t tear the dress,’ she groaned. ‘You didn’t, did you? Not this dress.’
The anger in her eyes turned to fear then they edged with moisture and Nate felt the walls press in.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of The Wedding Must Go On, tell us your idea of the perfect wedding dress.

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Defying His Desert Duty by Annie West will be posted!

Oct 19, 2012

Love Is All Around .......

By Helen Lacey

I know, that’s a pretty corny blog title and I think I stole it from a song. But I’ve been having a to-and-fro email conversation with a reader over the past few days and some of the things she’s said has stuck with me. It started out as a lovely fan email and now I feel as though I have connected with a kindred spirit. Because she just loves ‘love’ …. In books, in movies, in songs. When she opens a book it’s what she looks for, even in books that aren’t traditionally romances. And I realized that I’m like that too.

For instance, one of my favourite movies is the classic Terminator. Not because I care for the sci-fi elements, or the gun-toting, muscle bulging Arnie – but because when Kyle Reece says, “I came back through time for you, Sarah,” it just melts my bones. It’s the love story that resonates and I find I look for that in pretty much every movie I watch. Do I care if the Hobbits get to Mount Doom? Not particularly ….. But I do watch the twelve hours of extended version Lord Of The Rings Trilogy to see Aragorn and Arwen locks lips near the very end. Even when I sat through the Bourne Identity for the first time I was cheering for Matt Damon to hurry up and slay the bad guys so he could get the girl.

As I’m chatting to this reader back and forth on email and she’s telling me which movies she loves and which books are her favourites, I started thinking about my own favourite books and how I started reading Mills & Boon when I was eleven. It turns out this reader has read and loved many of the same classic M&B romances that I did. Here’s a few of my classic keepers.

What amazed me is how suddenly, this person, this stranger who lives on the other side of the world and only happened to connect with me because she liked my latest release, has been reading and loving romances all her life for the same reasons I have. Like the thrill of sharing the journey as two people fall in love - which is often fraught with will-they or won’t-they as they overcome the many hurdles in front of them. Or waiting for the first kiss, and of course, hoping for that magical happily ever after. So, we’re two people with no connection, and are suddenly connected by our mutual love of Harlequin novels and romantic movies.
So, corny or not, it seems love certainly is all around.
Do you also look for the love-story in the books and movies you read and watch? Even if it's not a traditional romance?

Oct 17, 2012

To Promo or Not to Promo - Annie West

 I thought it about time I chatted here about something related to romance writing. Or perhaps more accurately, selling romance books to readers. How much promotion is enough? What works? What is a waste of time? Should I bother at all?

At Guildford Library: Helen S, Annie & Anna Campbell
I'm afraid I don't have the answers but I thought it would be interesting to discuss.

When I envisaged myself as a writer I have to admit I had a limited view of what that entailed. Mostly I saw myself writing, or perhaps sharing a champagne lunch with writerly friends while discussing our bestsellers (hey, I was allowed to dream!). At no stage did I consider how much time I could potentially spend on promotion.

One of my first experiences of it was heading to Sydney for a library talk with fellow romance writer Anna Campbell. We received a warm welcome and I met some lovely readers, one of whom is in this photo, and who contacts me whenever she's read another of my stories. Talk about a boost! So, there I was talking publicly about my writing - a new experience. There have been a few radio, newspaper and magazine interviews, including for some international outlets. I suspect though that, as they weren't targeting romance readers in particular, they had minimal value as promotion. On the other hand, it's a good way of developing skills in handling unexpected questions!

I've delivered romance writing workshops in libraries and at a writers' festival as well as at a romance writers conference. All were terrific experiences but again, not really valuable promotion (feel free to tell me if I'm wrong). Instead I see those as part of the process of participating in the romance writing community and encouraging others as I've been encouraged along the way.

I've been to a couple of book signings organised by the Australian Romance Readers Convention. They were terrific fun and absolutely fit within the classification of promotion. It's great meeting readers (and other writers) face to face and having a chance to chat about books. I'm not sure if it brings in new readers, as many attendees seem focused on meeting authors they already know, but I'm no expert. Have you ever gone to a mass book signing and discovered a new-to-you author?

And then there is the huge range of other promotional opportunities. There's blogging (I don't have my own but join in with other writers, like here at Love Cats, which I confess is more like dropping in with friends for a chat). There's Facebook and Twitter and a multitude of emerging opportunities all across the web. There's Goodreads where your books are often reviewed and Amazon ditto. Most authors have websites and some are outstanding - attractive and easy to use. Gauging whether my own is like that is much harder as, apart from the occasional comment, most visitors don't offer a view. I'm convinced though that having a site is a necessity for an author now. Even if it does no more than list previous and upcoming titles.

Bought Ad
There's paid advertising. Personally, it's not something I've done a lot of, but occasionally I've bought myself advertising space on a website where romance readers visit. Here's an old example. But though I love seeing the ad and knowing that at least some readers have seen it too, I have no real appreciation of whether paid ads work or not. I've heard the adage that readers need to see your name, or your book's at least 6 times before they buy. I suppose if that's true, then ads will at least lift your profile even if they don't lead to immediate sales. But is name recognition what I should aim for or getting readers interested in a specific book? What about YouTube videos? They're fun, but unless they go viral, are they worth the time and effort? Again, I don't know.

In addition to website advertising there are hard copy ads in magazines as well as a whole industry built around advertising materials: pens, stickers, notepads, T shirts, customised giveaways of all shapes and sizes. Specially designed bookmarks are very popular too. It's so tempting, as a stationery addict, to tell myself that these would be a wise investment - and give me an excuse to pore over a lovely catalogue of products I could customise. Do readers appreciate them? I don't know. I've been bombarded with bookmarks and tend to keep only the ones that most appeal. If I receive something really cute or useful from an author I use it and certainly remember the name of the author. Whether that influences me to buy their books in future, I'm not sure.

Contest giveaways
Other promo? I run contests via my website and I do have a mailing list for personal newsletters. I see that mail out as important as the recipients are people who've taken the time to contact me. I make the effort to offer them news (not too often) and giveaways. Here's a photo of a current contest prize via my website. In case you're wondering my current book is primarily set in France, hence the French cover on the notebook, and the French theme to the bookmark and tote bag.

I suppose one of the best methods of promotion is reader word of mouth and good reviews. Sadly though that's not something I have control over.

With so many promotional opportunities around it can be hard to stay focused on writing the next book, which after all, is what's it's all about!

So my question is: as a reader, or as a writer, what do you find effective in promoting a book? How much is too much? Does promotion affect your book buying? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Oct 15, 2012

Reviews- Good, Bad or Ugly?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It's a nail biting time in any writer's career- The First Review.

It's hard not take everything the reviewer says seriously, to pull apart every sentence. It's hard not to smile at the positives and be brought crashing down to earth at the slightest hint at a negative.

So it's very hard then to be hit with a negative review. And tempting to either counteract the reviewer with a reply, or to write a fake glowing review. This appears to be something that is endemic across the world wide web, if this report is anything to go by. Authors, across all genres, have been creating false names and personas and giving themselves rave reviews. Not only that, they've also been giving their colleagues bad reviews too.

As a relative newbie I haven't had many reviews myself. I always cower and look through my fingers if I'm alerted to a review of one of my books. And am always super glad if they're positive ones. I guess we all like a bit of praise. But I remember a piece of sage advice from an established author- never reply to a bad review and never take what they say to heart. Not everyone will love your writing. Some will. Some won't.

So why do these authors feel a need to write glowing reviews of their own books? Clearly it's about generating sales and popularity. (Clearly it's cheating and I don't like it!)

Apparently, the more reviews (good or bad) an author has on their amazon page, the more sales they'll get. It's a numbers thing. But does it work? Personally, I choose the books to read from personal recommendations/ familiar author/familiar genre and not from recommendations on a website.

I am a member of goodreads and see a lot of reviews on there, I even add a few myself. I try to only write positive reviews (although the last one I did only awarded 3 stars to a very popular author...I was very disappointed by her most recent book). Most times, if I read a book and don't enjoy it I don't say so, I just let it go.

How about you? Do you choose books because of a review, or for some other reason? Do you write reviews for books you read? How do you deal with a book you don't like? Or a review you don't like?

Louisa xx
ps. My new release The War Hero's Locked- Away Heart is available on pre-release at www.millsandboon.co.uk this month! (So far there's been one review- and it's a good 'un!)

Oct 12, 2012

It's In His Kiss!

by Robyn Grady

We have some incredible heroes visit this blog. Lots of great discussions on what makes a man sexy, intriguing, fun, worth the wait. All those great qualities, like a sense of humor, intelligence, determination, conscience - as well as the oh-so-lovely physical attributes we adore – are super important.

And what about when anticipation is at its peak? When we know in a book – in a movie – this is *it*. The moment when the fireworks truly begin. The heart-stopping KISS. (We have some amazing smooches here!)

For me (and I’m guessing some others) when his lips meet hers we let out that breath, smile and sigh to our toes. In a love story, that’s what we’ve been waiting for. The instant that means *everything*... the moment that exceeds all our expectations, as well as theirs.

Here’s what I mean.

No. 3 counting down on my shortlist is when Rhett Butler kisses Scarlet on that desolate bridge. He’s abandoning her to fight a battle already lost. He holds her in those big Yankee arms, and while she squirms and objects, Rhett’s lips brush hers as he murmurs, “Kiss me. Kiss me... once.” Clark Gable’s girlfriend, Jean Harlow, was on the set to see that one. She was a good sport :)


No. 2 is the amazingly delicious collision when Noah Colhoun and Ally finally, finally get together. (In case anyone doesn’t know the scene, the movie, I’m reliving "The Notebook".) Soooo good...although I’m always a little afraid their teeth are going to hit. Quite possibly they do.


No. 1 (in my humble opinion) is when Andy Garcia as Michael Green kisses Alice (Meg Ryan) in "When a Man Loves a Woman" with a longing and sincerity that brings tears to my eyes. And speaking of eyes, aren’t his sensational?!


Any kisses you’d like to add? Book, film or, perhaps, your own. They say real life can be better than fiction!

Stay up to date on Robyn's latest news and releases at www.robyngrady.com

Oct 10, 2012

Charmed Again!

by Michelle Douglas

Minky, a pampered chocolate-banded Abyssinian moggy, plays quite a role in my October release, Bella’s Impossible Boss. So it only seemed logical that the charm I would choose for my Pandora bracelet would be a cat reclining on a cushion. Here it is…

…and isn’t it cute? A cat reclining in Queen Minky style. :-)

So I thought today I’d give you a couple of little teasers about Minky.

Bella is looking after Minky for a friend, and she’s less than enthusiastic about the task. This is when Minky is first introduced into the story:

Bella tried to smile at the cat, but it glared at her through the bars of its cage as if it knew she didn’t really mean it. It hissed when she readjusted the holdall over her shoulder. It spat when she dropped the other bag to the floor.

‘You might be a pedigree chocolate-banded Abyssinian, but you’re still just a cat, you know,’ she muttered under her breath. ‘In a cage,’ she added for good measure.

She fumbled with the door key and tried to keep the cage as still as possible. From the noise Minky was making, you’d think Bella had seized the cage in both hands and was shaking the life out of it.

And this is Dominic’s introduction to the illustrious Minky

‘Do you mean to leave that cat in its cage all day?’

Bella bit back a sigh and, mug in hand, made for the living room. Setting her mug on the coffee table, she knelt down beside the cage. ‘Hey there, Minky,’ she said in as conciliatory a voice as she could manage. ‘You are going to be a good kitty-cat, aren’t you?’

Soothing and calm, she instructed herself. She needed the cat to feel secure and unthreatened in its new environment. She hunkered down until she was almost eye level with the feline. ‘We’ll take it slow, okay? I’ll open the door and you can wander on out whenever you feel like it to check out your new home. And then I’ll get you some dinner, okay? How’s that sound?’

‘Like far more explanation than anything with four legs needs,’ Dominic drawled.

‘Ignore the nasty man,’ Bella told the cat in the same sing-song, hopefully soothing voice.

Minky’s yellow-green eyes glared at her. The tail swished. Good Lord, who was she trying to kid? The cat hated her.

She glanced up at Dominic. ‘I’m not exactly sure how she’ll react. She’s, um, not happy.’

‘It’s a cat,’ he dismissed. ‘It weighs, what? Two kilos at the most? It can’t exactly do that much damage.’

She pointed at him. ‘Famous last words.’ He grinned and it lifted something inside her. With heart thumping, she opened the cage door.

Minky exploded from it like a demented jack-in-the-box on steroids to claw straight up Dominic’s denim-clad legs. He’d moved to stand in front of the cage, Bella presumed so he could get a better view of the show, but he didn’t deserve that.

‘Minky!’ She leapt up.

Yowling, the cat let go and then proceeded to bounce off the sofa, the coffee table and two dining room chairs before settling under the television cabinet, eyes glaring and tail twitching in compulsive malevolence.

Bella armed herself with a cushion before spinning back to Dominic. ‘Did she hurt you?’ Her eyes dropped to his thighs. Five tiny pinpricks of blood stained the denim of his jeans—three on the left thigh and two on the right.

I love it when animals play a role in a romance? What about you? Or would you prefer the dogs and cats to remain firmly in the background?

Oct 8, 2012

10 things I've learned on my travels

I can't quite believe that our three month overseas trip will be coming to an end in less than three weeks. It's been inspirational, overwhelming....and kind of icky when you have six people's dirty washing at the bottom of your suitcase..... Four days in Singapore, four weeks in Greece, and now five weeks in Cyprus—I've never had so much time to think, to reflect, or to eat myself silly.

The trip has coincided with the release of my debut book, Contract for Marriage and that's had it own set of  fun times and excitement. My first appearance in the online stores, my first five star review, and my first fan letter, have all been amazing experiences. I've done a quick little top ten things I've learned on my travels and I'd love you to count down with me.
#10 — I've stayed in some amazing places but I still think about home (and kind of wish this was the view from my front door every day).

#9—There's such a thing as a frappe. It's instant coffee, cold water, ice and milk. Technically it should taste horrid but I LOVE it and have one every day.

#8 —Being without the internet some places gave me nasty withdrawal symptoms. Luckily I could ease them with a walk through the village for a coffee.

#7—I've had some incredible meals in the last couple of months but my mother-in-law still makes the best stuffed vegetables in the world.

#6—Being related to just about everyone in a village makes an evening walk turn into something 
resembling rent-a-crowd.

#5—There are a billion statues in Greece and Cyprus and I seem to have seen most of them in the past few weeks. This one, "The Cypriot Mother"—dedicated to the mothers who have lost sons in wars for freedom— made me cry

#4—You don't have to be religious to be moved (and a little overwhelmed) by the rich sense of community and tradition in a village church service you're attending with three generations.

#3—We've loved the ancient temples and monuments— and the waterparks too!

#2—NOTHING beats a long family lunch in the village.

#1—Seeing my first ever book cover still makes me smile
I'm giving away an e-copy of Contract for Marriage today! Just tell me about something you've learned in 2012.