Jun 29, 2015

Book Brothers

Photo: Gage Skidmore
I've been thinking about sets of brothers lately. 

In September and October this year, the last two Hawke brothers will have their stories out in the world, so it's particularly topical for me. The first Hawke brother had his story last year. 

For those interested, the series goes:

Liam Hawke (middle brother): 
The Nanny Proposition - out now

Dylan Hawke (youngest brother): 
Bidding on Her Boss - September

Adam Hawke (oldest brother): 
His 24-Hour Wife - October

I think my favourite set of famous brothers at the moment is the Hemsworth brothers, Chris and Liam. Though, this may be influenced by my love of Thor and The Hunger Games!

But there's also:

  • Ralph and Joseph Fienes, 
  • the many Baldwin brothers, 
  • Owen and Luke Wilson, 
  • Benji and Joel Madden,
  • Beau and Jeff Bridges,
  • Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen,
  • Prince William and Prince Harry,
  • Ben and Casey Affleck.

What about you - do you have a favourite duo or trio of brothers? 

Jun 28, 2015

Sunday Smooch with Jennifer Hayward

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we welcome Jennifer Hayward to LoveCats DownUnder but first... 

The winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Tammy.  Can you please contact melaniemilburne (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of Italian Surgeon to the Stars.

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And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Jennifer Hayward's Tempted by Her Billionaire Boss.

The ultimate forbidden attraction

Francesca Masseria is mortified. On her first day working for renowned tycoon Harrison Grant, she accidentally hits the panic button and watches in horror as security puts her boss in handcuffs! Normally poised and efficient, Harrison's enigmatic presence leaves Francesca flustered. 

Harrison is furious. He can't afford any distractions with a high-stakes deal on the table, and his new assistant is as diverting for her beauty as her incompetence! He should fire her, but she's determined to make up for their disastrous meeting by anticipating his every need. Except, what Harrison's beginning to want from Francesca isn't part of her job description!

Jennifer's scene set-up:

Tempted by Her Billionaire Boss is the first of my Tenacious Tycoons duo for Harlequin Presents. The Tenacious Tycoons is the story of two brothers who must carry the family legacy after their father commits suicide over a deal gone bad. Harrison, my hero in Tempted is the dark to his brother Courn’s light, bent on avenging his father’s death. Frankie my clear-souled heroine might be the only thing to save him from self-destruction.

This kiss follows Harrison and Frankie’s break up after Harrison pushes Frankie away, worried she’s getting too close. At the annual Grant summer party – the social event of the season in Long Island - Coburn decides to make his brother admit his feelings for Frankie with an intimate display on the dance floor. All bets are off as to how this is going to end!

The Smooch:

            “You don’t want me, Frankie.” He kept going as if he hadn’t heard her. “Tell yourself that. You want a tidy little relationship with a nice guy who will treat you well, give you the requisite two-point-one kids and take you to church on Sunday.” He shook his head. “That’s not me.”    
            “I never said that.” A funny feeling unfurled inside of her. “Why don’t you tell me what these feelings are you’re having before I make a decision like that?”    
            He shook his head, a wary look in his eyes. “It won’t accomplish anything. I have nothing to offer you.”    
            Frustration burned through her. “I swear I will turn around, go back up there and find one of those eligible men and flirt like crazy if you don’t start talking.”                 
            His throat convulsed. For a minute she thought he was going to walk away. Then he took the last step toward her, his gaze dark and tormented. “You make me want things I can’t have.”   
            “Like what?” She was hypnotized by the confusion in his gaze. The honesty.
            He cupped her jaw in his hands. “You make me want you. Need you. Crave to be with you. I don’t do relationships. That’s why I walked away. Not because I don’t have feelings for you.”   
            Having his hands on her again felt so good. She wanted to purr into him like a cat. Her gaze held on to his. “Maybe you don’t know what you’re capable of.”                
            “Even if I was,” he said harshly, “you are goodness, Frankie. I am the darkness. I would only drag you down there with me.”   
            She moved closer because she was melting inside. “I can handle myself quite nicely, Harrison. I did the other night.”    
            He looked down, as if he was studying the heat drawing them together. “You can’t handle my life as it is. With Leonid. Siberius. I could be walking into a whole other playground in a few weeks, one I’m sure you couldn’t handle.”    
            A presidential campaign. Rumors had been swirling all night about it. Everyone expected him to do it. But she didn’t care about that. She cared about the man.    
            She swallowed hard. “That night at your penthouse...I’ve never felt like that about anyone. I’ve never had that kind of a connection with anyone. It was—” She shook her head, stumbling over the words. “My feelings are scaring the heck out of me, too, Harrison. I don’t know how to handle them. But I won’t deny them.” Her gaze clung to his. “You said I make you feel alive...you make me feel alive.”   
            His gaze darkened. He was silent for a long moment, long enough for her to hear her heart beating in her ears. “You’d be smart to walk away. If I don’t break your heart now, I will later.”    
            “You don’t know that.” She stepped closer until the heat of their bodies melded into one another. “There are no sure things in life. You can’t insulate yourself against pain. It’s impossible.”    
            She thought she might see a flicker of awareness in his eyes. That she was right. That he’d been locking his feelings away for far too long. Her heart thrummed in her chest as he brought his mouth down to brush against the corner of hers.    
            “There are far better bets than to take a chance on me. I’m not going to lie.”
            “I don’t think so.” Her soul reached out for his. “Let yourself go. Follow your instincts. I’ll jump if you will.”    
            He murmured something unintelligible against her mouth. Sparks flew between them, their bodies too close, too aware of their wanting not to seize it. Take it. His mouth shifted to cover hers more fully. She moved into him, like water finding a path again. After the uncertainty of this past week, she wanted comfort. She wanted to know she was right.    
            He kissed her hard, his mouth hungry, lacking in finesse. She had pushed him out of his comfort zone. His hands moved restlessly down to shape her breasts, the curve of her thighs through the silky material of her dress. “You look so good in this,” he muttered when they came up for air. “I almost knocked Coburn senseless.”              
            She smiled against his mouth. “He was provoking a reaction.”    
            “He succeeded.” The hand that shaped her hips pulled her hard against him. His arousal lay between them, potent and ready. Frankie gasped. “Harrison.”    
            He grabbed her hand and walked toward the boathouse. She tugged on his fingers in a halfhearted protest. “Not here.”    

            “You wanted me to go with my instincts. Live with it.”
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Excerpt from Tempted by her Billionaire Boss, Harlequin Presents June 2015, by Jennifer Hayward. Available now from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Connect with Jennifer on the web:  Website | Facebook | Twitter

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Tempted by Her Billionaire Boss, share what's been tempting you this weekend.

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jun 26, 2015

Creative relaxation...?

A year or so ago a friend of mine invited me to go to a class for 'art journalling' at a local art studio. It involved making a journal from scratch, then decorating the pages ready for any creative idea that came to mind - collaging, drawing, painting etc... I toddled along because I thought it might make me use a different part of my brain (even though I am the world's most useless artist) - and that might in turn help with my creative thinking for stories.

I enjoyed the class and met some lovely people all of whom were far, far better artists than me- but that apparently wasn't the point. The idea was to lose my inner critic and just 'be'. (Which is all fine and mighty when you have a smidgeon of talent, but when you spend the whole class drooling over other people's artwork and hating your own because you could never create anything remotely as good at that then you might have to rethink why you're actually there!) We learnt a few different techniques and got our hands dirty smearing acrylics and I did overall enjoy the whole process and found that it was quite relaxing and yet stimulating to be doing something that didn't have a 'reason'...ie I wasn't intent on selling this, or making a masterpiece, it didn't have to be 'good'. The idea was that what we created each week was a reflection of how we felt that day, or how we wanted to feel, or just to do something different to our usual routine.

The class finished and I was left wondering what to do with the supplies I'd bought. I couldn't find it in me to do the art journalling at home- I couldn't find a reasonable 'excuse' to spend 4 hours on a project...but I did invest in some 'zentangle books' (the art of creative doodling) and now do a bit of doodling when I'm lost for plot ideas and it does take my mind along a different track of thinking. Apparently it's good for us due to the meditative effect it has on the brain.

So I was intrigued by the huge explosion of adult colouring books that have hit the bestseller lists over the last year. And would colouring-in have the same effect as zentangle or journalling? Flushed with enthusiasm I rushed out and bought myself a copy of one of the books. It has gorgeous pictures for us to colour in.
But...well... I just can't bring myself to use it. I can see how creating something might be good for the brain, but I'm not sure how just colouring already created pictures would help. Plus- I'm stuck in a judgey mindset; I can't justify colouring-in. I don't know...It seems...it seems like a step backwards or something. (And I just know what kind of reaction I'd get from dh and my boys). I know it's hugely popular and many women use them for relaxation, but I haven't had the nerve to do anything with it yet.

Maybe I should just start a picture and see where
it takes me? (I also have a fear of ruining what could be a good picture by my amateur colour choices!!!) I think I'm going to need to do some relaxation once I've done a supposedly relaxing pastime!!

Anyone else tried this? Does it help relax you? Do you do any 'creative relaxation? Or do you just prefer a glass of white and a good book?

Jun 24, 2015

Special Guest: Christina Phillips

Please help me welcome a friend of the Cats to the blog today, Christina Phillips! Christina is here to talk about her new book Hold Me Until Midnight which has just come out with Entangled Brazen. It sounds like all kinds of fun, and I'm off now to download a copy of my very own. But first, a sneak peek at her new book: 

Hold Me Until Midnight (The Grayson Brothers, Book 1)

Every good girl loves a very bad boy… 

Scarlett Ashford needs a date for her father’s wedding. Only she doesn’t just need a guy in a suit—she needs a bodyguard. The only problem is that Jackson Grayson is big and gorgeous and way too sexy. So much so that Scarlett’s tempted to let this hot bad boy ruin her oh-so-good reputation…

Jackson doesn’t do relationships and he certainly doesn’t sleep with clients. Yet he can’t fight their inconvenient attraction, or how badly he wants Scarlett’s warm and wicked curves against his body. He wants her. Now. Even if it’s just for one night, and even if walking away the next morning isn’t as easy as he thought.

Besides, one hot and incredibly intense night between a bad boy and a pampered princess could never turn into something real…could it?

1. Hi Christina! You're known for your sexy historicals (have I told you how much I loved Forbidden?), but now you're releasing your first category romance. Was it a big jump to change the type of books you're writing or did it come naturally?

Thanks so much Rachel! I'm thrilled you enjoyed Forbidden :-) It's funny because when I first started writing, I wrote short category romances aimed for Mills and Boon, so in a way I've come full circle. On 1st April last year I was approached by Escape Publishing to see if I'd be interested in contributing to their Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives continuity. I definitely was, and I had so much fun writing Willow. So that got me back into writing sexy contemporary romance, and from there I was contracted for three books with Entangled Publishing's Brazen imprint. I also wrote a contemporary novella about a hot sheikh, which is part of the boxed set with Cathleen Ross and Mel Teshco, Taken by the Sheikh. However I do still love my historicals and am in the process of claiming the rights back on those books and will republish them as soon as I possibly can!

2. The hero of Hold Me Until Midnight, Jackson, is one of three brothers - I love a series of books about brothers! Tell us a bit about the Grayson men.

The Grayson brothers survived a horrific childhood with their brutal father, and as a teen Jackson became a street fighter, involved in illegal gambling so he could help out his family. None of the brothers believe in love or happily-ever-after, and although they now own a successful bodyguard and security business the legacy of their past haunts each of them. It's only when they each find their heroine that they can face what happened when they were young teens and finally come to terms with the traumatic event that shaped their lives.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via wikipedia
3. Most of us know about your love of Clive Owen and Henry Cavill from following you online. Did you have anyone in mind when you wrote Jackson?

Ah yes, my darling Clive and Henry! It's funny but I never really have a particular actor in mind when I'm writing my heroes. Although to my surprise as soon as Scarlett saw Jackson she had very definite ideas of who he reminded her of! A dark haired Thor as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (I think it was the biceps that did it...) 

4. Scarlett hires bodyguard Jackson to protect her at her father's wedding - I love that premise. Do you have any favourite movies about bodyguards?

One of my favourite bodyguard movies (and love stories as it happens) is the original Terminator movie when Kyle Reese is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor - even though he knows it's a one way trip and the chances of him surviving are grim. But he's been in love with a photo of Sarah for a long time, and is willing to risk everything to save her *happy sigh*

5. Can you give us a sneak peek into the book?

Well, I thought it would be fun to show the moment when Scarlett first sees Jackson!
   Scarlett stood, and then forgot how to breathe.

   The man before her, taking up more space than any mortal had any right to, was over six feet tall, with muscles filling out his black tee to the point of indecency. 

   He looks like Thor.

   Her mouth dried as she dragged her fascinated gaze up from his biceps. Don’t think about his biceps. She focused on his stubble-darkened jaw instead, but that didn’t help. She’d never gone for the unshaven look before, but to hell with that.  

   Stop staring at him. 

   Good advice. A shame she couldn’t follow it.

   The gossip at work hadn’t done him justice. He was so right for her purposes it was unnerving.

   “I’ll leave you to it then,” the girl said. Scarlett had completely forgotten about her. She tried to ignore Jackson’s messy black hair, which brushed his collar. And failed.

   Thor’s body. Loki’s hair. Could it get any better?

   “Yeah. Thanks, Ella.”

   Yes, it could. Even his voice dripped with sin. Dark and dangerous with a hint of deadly menace. Darts of pleasure stirred in places she’d almost forgotten she had.

   How was that even possible? They hadn’t even touched, and she was more turned on than she’d been in ages. 

   The click of the shutting door cut through her lustful thoughts.
Pull yourself together.  She was here on business.  Jackson Grayson would never take her seriously if all she could do was drool over him.

6. Hey, I'm hooked already! Thanks for sharing. Now, what was the last great book you read?

I can't answer this question! I've been reading so many great books lately :-) I'm on a bit of binge of Entangled books at the moment! 

7. What are you reading now?

I'm just about to start Joan Kilby's Turning the Tables, her second Brazen which was released the same day as mine. Can't wait! 

Thanks so much for having me on LoveCats today, Rachel!

Thanks for visiting, Christina! If you want to grab a copy of Hold Me Till Midnight, here are some places to do it: iBooks       Amazon       Amazon UK       Amazon Ca       Nook       Google Books       Kobo       Angus & Robertson

Good news is that Jackson is the middle brother. Youngest brother Cooper's book is coming in September 2015 and eldest brother Alex's HEA in January 2016. If you want to connect with Christina, have a look at these places: WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads, or Sign up to receive notification of when her next book is released.

And since we've been talking about stories with bodyguards, I'm curious - does anyone else have a favourite book or movie with a bodyguard? I think I'm in the mood to read and watch some!

Jun 22, 2015

Fantasy v Reality

I've just been having a fun debate both on Twitter and Facebook about whether a snoring hero is sexy. I read one just recently and it kinda squicked me out. I definitely winced when I read it. And I'm not talking about cute snuffly little noises but loud, hear-from-down-the-hallway snoring.

Why did it make me wince? It's not like men don't snore. Or women for that matter. And I like realism in my books. But clearly, there's a line for me. And snoring is it. Snoring just seems a little too much reality intruding into my fantasy world.

One of the people who left a comment said men shouldn't snore and women shouldn't have a period in the pages of a romance. Now, whilst I agreed about the snoring, I'm not so sure about the other. My Ruby nominated book, Risky Business, features a scene where my heroine gets the period from hell and the hero is so horrified by what she's going through he's utterly lovely and attentive. So obviously we all have different squick factors, different triggers that will tweak our reality antenna.

So the question is do we want our heroes to be the sanitised, fantasy guy - everything we don't have in real life? Or do we want him with a few warts? With some touches that ground him in the real world? Do we want heroes that will burp for example?  Or fart? What about nose picking and ball scratching? Is it okay for them to pick their teeth or try and wiggle out of changing a loaded dirty nappy? Do we want ones with real world sized wangs?

Do we really?

Where's the line? Where's your line?

Jun 21, 2015

Sunday Smooch with Melanie Milburne!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Melanie Milburne but first 

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

Savannah Blaize!

Can you please contact Yvonne by email at yvonne (at) yvonnelindsay (dot) com to receive your copy of The Wife he Couldn't Forget

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Italian Surgeon To The Stars

Celebrity heart surgeon Dr Alessandro Lucioni may be gorgeous, but I will never forget what we shared in Paris five years ago or how he broke my heart! Except now he’s standing in front of me, asking for my help with his young niece - and determined to pick up where we left off! But this time I won’t be his consolation prize. I will remain strong! Yet with the memories of those magical, blazing nights swirling through my mind, he’s just so very hard to resist…

Scene set-up

Alone with Alessandro in the car, Jem goads him into thinking that she slept with many men since they broke off and pretends she was not hurt by their break up five years earlier. He retaliates by stopping the car…

Smooch  - 

The engine hadn’t even died when Alessandro’s strong arms pulled me towards him and his mouth came crashing down on mine.

   His mouth tasted of mint and anger and lust and longing. The same intense longing I could feel throbbing through my own veins. His lips moved over mind with devastating expertise, demanding I open to him with a bold stab of his tongue. 

   I had recklessly taunted the tiger and now I was experiencing the full force of his reaction. And, quite frankly, I was loving every pulse-racing second of it.

   I received him with a sound of approval that came from somewhere deep inside of me. I wound my arms around his neck, fisting my hands into the thickness of his hair, and kissed him back with all the pent-up passion that had been lying in hibernation for what seemed most of my life.

   His freshly shaved jaw scraped the skin of my face as he changed position to deepen the kiss. His arms relaxed their iron grip on me and moved to cup one of my breasts in a caressing and yet possessive movement that made my insides twist and contort with lust. His other hand went to the nape of my neck, under my hair. He knew instinctively it was one of my most sensitive erogenous zones. As his fingers moved in amongst those finer hairs, I tingled all over and my toes curled in my shoes.

   He slowly pulled back from me but my lips clung to his as if they didn’t want to let him go. He cradled my face in his hands - a gesture that was sure to win any girl’s heart, in my opinion. I looked into his molasses-dark eyes that were glittering with hot-blooded desire and felt another fissure open like a fault line in the cold, hard armour around my heart…

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Links to buy the book!
Mills & Boon
Mills & Boon Australia

To be in the draw for a signed copy of Italian Surgeon To the Stars, Melanie asks:
My heroine Jem is excruciatingly embarrassed by her hippy parents. What thing about your parent/s most embarrassed you?

Connect with Melanie over the web at Facebook, Twitter, her website and her blog!

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver