Jul 10, 2016

Sunday Smooch: RUBY Finalist "The Wedding Bargain" by Yvonne Lindsay

by Bronwyn Jameson

Today it gives me great pleasure to introduce a special feature Sunday Smooch, the first of a series featuring LoveCat finalists in this year's Romance Writers of Australia RuBY Awards.

In case you're not aware, the RUBYs celebrate the Romantic Books of the Year, as chosen by reader judges from books entered by Australian and New Zealand authors.  The winners of 5 categories will be announced at the Romance Writers of Australia's 25th Anniversary conference in Adelaide on August 20.

Congratulations to all the talented finalists for writing books which touched the readers' emotions, kept them turning the pages, and inspired them to tick the highest-score boxes. We are super proud that three of the five finalists in the Short Sexy category are LoveCats Yvonne LindsayStefanie London and Annie West.  Excerpts from their RUBY-honoured books will feature as Sunday Smooches during the next month.

Today's smooch is from Yvonne Lindsay's THE WEDDING BARGAIN, published by Harlequin Desire in March 2015.  The Wedding Bargain is the final book in Yvonne's wildly successful six-book series The Master Vintners...and the fourth RUBY finalist, following Wanting What She Can't Have (2014), One Secret Night (2013) and A Forbidden Affair (2012).  A truly remarkable achievement...but then this is a truly remarkable series!  

A runaway bride finds herself rescued, seduced—and pregnant!—in this tale from USA TODAY bestseller Yvonne Lindsay.

Who would dare object when Shanal Peat is about to say I do in a church full of wedding guests? The bride herself, that’s who. Shanal just can’t go through with the bargain she’s made. She’ll have to save her destitute parents without an arranged marriage.

Australian billionaire Raif Masters delights in rescuing the runaway bride from his nemesis. But when hiding out on a riverboat leads to passion—and when passion leads to pregnancy—Raif must prove he’s in it for love, not vengeance.

Scene set-up:

After rescuing her from her wedding, Raif has taken Shanal on a river boat up the Murray River to give her time to come to terms with her decision to run away from her fiance. Raif's fought a crush on this 'older woman' ever since he was in his mid teens and he's trying to do the right thing by her now--it's what his absent cousin would expect. But a playful challenge over who is going to make lunch becomes a whole lot more serious when it seems Shanal has been fighting her own attraction to Raif and--after all these years--she's ready to act on it.

Smooch excerpt:

Shanal had one foot on the gangplank to the boat, then another, and was about to turn and relish her success when a pair of strong arms wrapped around her and lifted her clean off her feet. She squealed again, this time in surprise, as Raif spun her a full 180 degrees.

“I win!” he crowed as he set foot on the deck and slowly lowered her down, laughing in the face of her frustration.

“And you say I cheated?” Shanal said through gasps of air, turning to him in disgust.

“Hey, you forget. I’ve seen how you can run,” he teased, obviously alluding to her bolt from the church yesterday. “I had to use every advantage I had. Besides, I like to win.”

“That’s not fair,” she protested. Was it only a day ago? It felt like forever. Or did she just wish it was?

“All’s fair in love and war.” He smiled back cheekily.

“You may live to regret that statement,” she warned. “Remember, I can’t cook.”

Raif shrugged. “I also like to live dangerously, don’t you?”

She looked at him and felt a tug that pulled from her core. It had nothing to do with her labored breathing and everything to do with the fact that he still had her in the circle of his arms. Her heart was already pumping hard, her senses heightened, and all she could think of was how snugly she fit against him, how close his lips were to hers. How, if she just flexed her hips a little, she’d be nestled in the cradle of his pelvis.

But did she dare?

She did.

Shanal lifted her hands to his head and tugged it down toward her. “I haven’t had much cause to live dangerously so far, but I’m willing to give it a try.”

And then she kissed him.

She felt the shock roll through his body as her lips touched his. He was unresponsive for a second, then two. She began to wonder if she’d been foolish to do this, to act on the impulse that had overridden her usually careful and considered way of approaching things.

But then his lips began to move over hers, and his arms tightened, pulling her even closer against his body, against his solid strength. Her fingers furrowed through his short dark hair, holding him in place. Not wanting to let him go for a second, because if she did, she’d have to face the questions that would no doubt be in his eyes. Questions she didn’t know the answer to herself.

All she knew was that she suddenly realized just how deeply she longed for this. For this man, for his kiss. She slid her tongue softly along his lower lip, felt the shudder that racked his body, felt him harden against her.

This was how it was meant to be between a man and a woman. Need, desire, want. Not a cold clinical agreement. Not the feeling of being a possession, to be shaped and molded to someone else’s taste. Just the need to possess and be possessed in return. She moaned as Raif’s tongue touched hers, as a flame of heat speared through her body. She pressed against him, aching for him to fill that emptiness that echoed inside her. Desperate for him to ease the pounding demand that throbbed through her veins.

His hands slid under the sweater she was wearing, his sweater, and the heat of his touch burned through the thin T-shirt that acted as a barrier between his skin and hers. She wanted more. She wanted Raif. Her fingers clenched in his hair and she kissed him more fiercely, her tongue now dueling with his. Advance, retreat, advance again. The taste of him was intoxicating, another sensation to fill her mind and overwhelm her senses.

She felt her nipples tighten into aching buds, and she pressed against him, the movement sending tiny shafts of pleasure to rocket through her body. She’d never felt anything quite like this before. This level of total abandonment, this depth of need.

The sound of the ferry horn echoed across the water—a stark and sudden reminder of where they were, of what they were doing. Shanal let her hands drop to Raif’s shoulders as she pulled back. Her entire body thrummed with energy and anticipation, but as she came back to awareness of her surroundings once more, the strength leached from her body, leaving her feeling empty, limp.

“I—” she started.

Raif pressed a short and all too sweet kiss to her lips. “Don’t say a word. It’s okay. To the winner, the spoils, right?”

*  *   *   *   *

 Do you follow the readers' and writers' awards? Does news of an award win (or finalist gong) inspire you to buy and read a book?  Have you discovered any new and wonderful authors this way?  Share your thoughts here on the blog, and one randomly-drawn commenter will win a copy of THE WEDDING BARGAIN.

Speaking of winners...  jjhicks is the lucky winner of last week's Sunday Smooch giveaway. Please contact Annie via annie (at) annie-west (dot) com to claim your copy of ‘The Flaw in Raffaele’s Revenge’ !

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from the fabulous Amy Andrews's latest series will be featured.


  1. I actually don't follow the awards, per se. If I see them noted on a blog or web site, I'll scroll through to see if any of my favourite authors are listed, though.

    I discover new and wonderful authors on other authors' web sites and blogs and OFTEN add them to my list of books to read. I have added several to my must-read list this way.

    I won't give up my favourite authors, though, and that includes Yvonne Lindsay. You can never have too much love in the world....

    1. Thanks, Laney4! And I agree, you can never have too much love in the world, especially the volatile world we live in right now.

  2. Hi All

    Woohoo and huge congrats to you all I do follow these awards to a certain degree I do nominate and vote in the reader awards for ARRA each year and have been to those award ceremonies and I have also read some books for RWA awards a few years ago and been to one of these award nights I will be in Adelaide for this years RWA conference as well to help with the book signing.

    I do always look at the nominees in awards to see if there are any of my favourite authors there and check out new to me authors and I often put them on lists where I need to get the books.

    Have Fun

    1. Hi Helen, I'm envious of you attending the Adelaide conference! Have a ball for me, won't you?

  3. I look at the awards & the winners to see if I agree with them --some time I don't as I am sure that happens to others as well --I just seem to buy books that appeal to me if they win awards or not -----LynW

    1. Hi LynW, awards can be quite a mix of delights and disappointments, can't they? There are so many wonderful stories out there that deserve to final and one reader's favourite might be another's wallbanger.

  4. Whoa! Smokin' smooch, Yvonne. I'm loving the chemistry between Shanal and Raif. :-)

    Bron, I'm very aware of the RUBY, RITA and the ARRA Awards. I love it when they're announced so I can scan the lists and agree (or not) with the judges decisions. It's so exciting to have THREE!!! LoveCats up for RUBYs this year. :-)

    1. Hi Michelle, yes, those two had a lot of long-repressed need between them, LOL!

      And, like you, I love scanning the lists for my writing friends, especially the LoveCats. Always great fun seeing each other's names up there in lights! :-)

  5. I don't conciously follow any reader or writer awards... however given that I 'like' the LoveCats blog page on Facebook in addition to having multiple authors in my friends list, I do find out about whether my favourite authors have finaled automatically.
    I must admit that I didn't read today's smooch as I've previously read the book and don't need the inspiration to do a re-read at present
    Yvonne - wow! 4 consecutive years.

    1. Hi LynM. Yes, four consecutive years and five finals in total (I finalled with my first release many years ago). It all seems quite surreal, to be honest.

  6. Fabulous smooch, Yvonne. Love the passion and tension between Shanal and Raif :)

    I'm very aware of the awards, but I suppose that goes with territory of being a writer doesn't it? I always look at the lists, hoping to see writer friends finalling so I can cheer them on.

    4 RUBY finals? You're incredible, Yvonne, and such an inspiration. I couldn't be more thrilled to final alongside you an Annie - though I admit to feeling a little unworthy!! So sad I won't be there on the night to cheer our group on.

    1. You are totally, worthy, Stefanie, and such fun finaling with you and Annie, too. Like you, I won't be attending but I will probably be waking through the night and checking my Twitter feed obsessively. And, yes, this is my fourth consecutive final (fifth final overall.) That particular series has been a good one for me, that's for sure. :-)

  7. Love that premise, Yvonne, AND the kiss. This book is a great read.
    Mega congratulations on being a finalist in the RUBY. All the best for the end result.

  8. I don't actively follow the awards but it's wonderful to see favorite authors make the lists.

    1. I often think it's a shame there can be only a certain number of finalists, Mary, we have so many talented authors DownUnder that many more should be on that list.

  9. Great smooch!

    So excited for you being a RUBY finalist, Yvonne. I confess I do buy books based on award finals and wins.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'm generally more inclined to buy based on personal recommendations. It was a sad day when one of my favourite bookstores here in Auckland, NZ, shut down. They could handsell a new-to-me author like no one else and boy, oh boy, did that widen my reading horizons.

  10. Yvonne, congratulations on the RUBY final placing! So pleased to see your name there.

    An award doesn't make me buy a book, but I'm more likely to be interested. Sometimes it means I hear people then saying how much they enjoyed it, which is always a draw!

    1. Thanks, Annie, and congrats to you too, again! :-)

  11. Awesome story and congratulations!😀