Dec 30, 2016

The Summer of Romance


Have you heard of the Summer of Romance? It's a really cool research project being run by the University of Tasmania. They're tracking novels by Australian writers published by Harlequin Mills & Boon. Specifically, they're investigating what happens to them after they're published.

They have a list of 50 books published between 1996 and 2016 and are asking that if
you see one of the 50 books, you take a photo of it where you saw it and post it to their Facebook page or tweet them, along with a little description of where you found it.

And their list includes our very own LoveCats Amy Andrews, Bronwyn Jameson, Michelle Douglas, Kandy Shepherd, Annie West and Stefanie London (plus a couple of our Cats in the Wild). Very cool.

I've been checking my bookshelves at home and so far have tracked down three of the books:

Here's the full list:

  • Lindsay Armstrong, Playboy Lover
  • Helen Bianchin, Desert Mistress
  • Emma Darcy, Mischief and Marriage
  • Lilian Darcy, Demi’s Diagnosis
  • Angela Devine, The Perfect Man
  • Victoria Gordon, Beguiled and Bedazzled
  • Miranda Lee, Rendezvous with Revenge
  • Marion Lennox, Prescription: One Husband
  • Margaret Way, A Faulkner Possession
  • Meredith Webber, Wings of Passion

  • Emma Darcy, The Hot-Blooded Groom
  • Anne Gracie, Tallie’s Knight
  • Barbara Hannay, Outback Baby
  • Bronwyn Jameson, In Bed with the Boss’s Daughter
  • Alison Kelly, The Baby Deal
  • Joan Kilby, The Second Promise
  • Miranda Lee, Just a Little Sex
  • Marion Lennox, Their Baby Bargain
  • Valerie Parv, Booties and the Beast
  • Margaret Way, Master of Maramba

  • Amy Andrews, Mission: Mountain Rescue
  • Emma Darcy, The Playboy Boss’s Chosen Bride
  • Barbara Hannay, Claiming the Cattleman’s Heart
  • Joan Kilby, Beach Baby
  • Marion Lennox, Princess of Convenience
  • Carol Marinelli, Needed: Full-Time Father
  • Nicola Marsh, Found: His Family
  • Leah Martyn, A Mother for His Baby
  • Sarah Mayberry, Cruise Control
  • Fiona McArthur, The Doctor’s Surprise Bride

  • Amy Andrews, Rescued by the Dreamy Doc
  • Anna Cleary, Do Not Disturb
  • Emma Darcy, The Costarella Conquest
  • Barbara Hannay, Rancher’s Twins: Mum Needed
  • Kelly Hunter, With This Fling
  • Leonie Knight, Suddenly Single Sophie
  • Marion Lennox, Dynamite Doc or Christmas Dad?
  • Nikki Logan, Friends to Forever
  • Carol Marinelli, The Devil Wears Kolovsky (also published as A Bride for Kolovsky)
  • Annie West, Prince of Scandal

  • Leah Ashton, The Billionaire from Her Past
  • Kandy Shepherd, The Greek Tycoon’s Mistletoe Proposal
  • Michelle Douglas, A Deal to Mend Their Marriage
  • Lucy Ellis, Kept at the Argentine’s Command
  • Barbara Hannay, The Husband She’d Never Met
  • Miranda Lee, The Playboy’s Ruthless Pursuit
  • Marion Lennox, Stepping Into the Prince’s World
  • Stefanie London, A Dangerously Sexy Affair
  • Carol Marinelli, The Socialite’s Secret
  • Melanie Milburne, The Most Scandalous Ravensdale

The project has a Facebook page, a twitter profile, and website, so you can connect with them all over the place.

What about you? Have you been participating already? If not, do you have any of the books they're searching for? I have to admit, it's kinda fun - a bit like a treasure hunt!

Dec 28, 2016

Four books and a calendar - Kandy Shepherd

I hope you all enjoyed a very happy December 25, however you might have celebrated. We had wonderful festive feasts with family and friends on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then did the Aussie thing of a swim at the beach on Boxing Day, the next day. Perfect!

Part of the festive fun is exchanging presents. I was fortunate to get some lovely, thoughtful gifts. Books are always a favourite, of course. And I do count on a gift of a calendar as I still prefer a good, old-fashioned calendar as well as the electronic kind.

My daughter is an incredibly thoughtful gift giver. She really takes note of people’s likes and gifts them accordingly. I’m very fond of cookbooks by Aussie/international chef Bill Granger.  She hunted me down one I didn’t have, Bills Open Kitchen. and it’s fabulous, packed with light summery recipes just right for this time of year Down Under. 

Note the tags on the pages—we’ve gone through and marked recipes we want to try. Already by Boxing Day we’d made two, a delicious savoury French toast and a roast chicken with a wholemeal stuffing flavoured with pancetta, herbs and lemon. Yum! The entire family is destined to benefit from this gift.

Husband surprised me with the recently published autobiography by musician Phil Collins Not Dead Yet. Phil Collins is a long-time favourite, I still love his songs. Years ago in the days when I saw as many rock concerts as I could, I saw both Genesis and his Phil Collins band. I found him to be a wonderful, generous performer. As a romance writer I’m also interested in his well-publicised multiple marriages and divorces. I’m into the second chapter and loving it!

Hubby also gave me a gorgeous journal with a cute vintage typewriter cover. I keep a journal for each book I write, keeping it with me at all times to jot down ideas, phrases, descriptions, plot twists and so on. The journal stays with me especially at night. I’ve learned to my frustration that those great ideas that come to me at night in dreams or fleeting thoughts are never remembered in the morning. I have to write them down immediately!

Then there’s the mystery book that arrived in the mail via an online book store with no clues as to who sent it to me. I have some ideas and will do some detective work! In the meantime I’m ready to settle down in some post-Christmas downtime and enjoy Goodwood by Holly Throsby, it looks fabulous. Has anyone read it?

There’s also the book I tracked down for my rabid cyclist husband: Lonely Planet’s Epic Bike Rides of the World. It’s a marvellous book full of incredible rides and thankfully he loves it! He’s even getting me interested in some picturesque (and very flat!) rides in Europe.

Then there’s the Christmas present stalwart, the calendar. I kinda guessed from the shape of the parcel that another present from my daughter might be a calendar. I prepared to ooh and ah at cat and kitten pictures, as people usually give me cat calendars. Instead I swooned at images of Tom Hiddleston, one of my very favourite actors. I fell for Tom as Loki in Avengers and then proceeded to love him in every movie I saw him in. My daughter didn’t see the appeal until she saw him in The Night Manager. It’s not just his looks but his presence and voice that appeal but the calendar is very nice, thank you very much!

What about you? Did you get a good book or calendar for Christmas this year or any other year? Or a different kind of present? Please make a comment, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy New Year!

Dec 23, 2016

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas from all the Lovecats...(and to all the Lovecats!)

As I write this (yesterday) I still haven't managed to get the Christmas tree up. I've been waiting for a time this week when all four of us are going to be around to dress it, but that precious time just hasn't materialised (we're also late because we were away last week on the first family holiday in a few years)... so the tree (artificial) is standing bare in our lounge with boxes of decorations next to it.

But nevertheless, tree or no tree, I'm in my happy place where the boys are home from uni and doing their thing (which mainly involves eating, being out with friends or here with friends and, did I mention eating?) and I'm Momma hen clucking about making sure they're okay.

I have my lists and am in no doubt I'll somehow be ready for Christmas Eve (and if not, we won't starve!!) and we'll sit down (one, two, three, four or more of us) and have our annual viewing of Love Actually, which will make me laugh and cry and more determined to people watch next time I'm at an airport.

Christmas Day will be a muddle of food and drink and wrappings. Swiftly followed by a Boxing Day BBQ which will see us hosting upwards of 40 people...pray for sunshine!!

The rest of the week I'll be back at my desk, adding words to the book that is due on February 1st, and pondering which resolutions I'm going to make for the coming year.

So, have a very merry Christmas, I hope you manage to get some relaxation time, lots of laughter and lots of love. All the very best for a happy and peaceful 2017.

Dec 21, 2016

Inspiration and Relaxation - Annie West

Hi, everyone! As it's almost the end of the year, I've been taking stock lately. I've been thinking about what I've achieved during 2016 and what I might try to do differently in future.

Following Stefanie London's recent post which included a total of words written, I thought I'd try the same thing. I'm stunned to find I've written over 300,000 words this year - that's new stories, not editing. Sadly, as I have a tendency to write long then prune that does not mean I've written 6 x 50,000 word books. It does mean though, that despite some upheavals through the year, I've been writing steadily. One of the reasons for that is sheer determination. Especially since there were upheavals, I was determined to get in and keep writing. Writing also gave me a rather nice place to escape to sometimes.

But there were other factors too and I've been thinking a lot about inspiration and relaxation. I reckon both are necessary for writers. Writing is so much easier if you feel inspired. And if you feel relaxed, the same applies. If I can close my mind off to the world and dive into the story, so I feel I'm actually there, and relaxed enough to enjoy the experience, I find I write better. 

Which leads to the big question - how to find inspiration and relaxation. There's no one answer, of course. But here's one of mine. This is the view from my desk. I look out on the pool and trees. Sometimes I get distracted by the birds coming in to the bird feeder, or eating my flowers. I'm convinced looking out on greenery, and on water, helps me feel relaxed and inspired. After all, I get my best ideas while walking by the water each morning, or while in the shower.  Speaking of water, I live near both the coast and a huge lake. Is it any wonder there are lots of inspirational places to visit? Okay, this photo below was taken at Coogee Beach in Sydney - much further than a stroll away from my place, but you get the idea.

And knowing how inspirational water is to my thought processes, my dear family recently bought me my own private fountain. When I have the door open and sit at my desk I can hear the sound of the water running. Apologies for the quality of the photo. I left it late to write this blog and the shadows are across the fountain but you may be able to make out a lion's head dribbling water into a bowl. I love it!

How about you? Is there something that particularly inspires you, or helps you to relax?

If you're like me, and reading is your other source of relaxation and inspiration, check out the covers of currently available books by the Love Cats on the side bar. You'll see my DESERT KING'S SECRET HEIR  there too. Maybe it would be just the thing for a little Christmas treat?

Annie's current release

Dec 19, 2016

Stefanie London's 2016 in numbers...

How is this the last post for 2016, already? I swear, each year seems to fly by with increasing speed. I was thinking about what to do for my ‘wrap up’ post on this blog and how I might be able to make it a little different.

So, I thought it might be fun to review my year…in numbers. Now, I’m definitely a quality over quantity kinda gal, but there’s a little left-brained part of me that really enjoys counting things. So, here goes:

In 2016 I have…

4 years married to this amazing guy
Been to five countries outside Canada (Germany, Austria, England, Australia, and Jamaica) and one province outside Ontario (Quebec).

Read 49 books (and hope to get another two in, at least, before New Years) and bought way too many to count!!

Written 232,000 words, released 4 books and sold 9 more to publishers.

Celebrated my 32nd birthday, 4th wedding anniversary (and being with J for 13 years!!) and two years in Canada (as well as getting our permanent residency status - woo!)

Consumed far too many flat whites to count.

And, since I’m a writer and know that numbers don’t always tell the whole story, here are a few highlights that can’t be quantified in numbers:
  • This was my first full year as a full-time writer. Last year I was still working in retail (as a makeup artist for MAC Cosmetics) for the first few months, so 2016 marks the year that I worked for myself for a full year. That is a pretty amazing thing. 
  • I hit a bestseller list (The USA Today with Pretend it’s Love) and was nominated for a major award (The RWAus RBY award with Pretend it’s Love). Both of those things are not just highlights for 2016, but for my writing career to date.

So many places to go...
I loved Helen’s post about what she plans to do for 2017, so I’m going to ‘borrow’ it and put a few things down here. Here are some of my plans for next year:
  • More travel! Both J and I are going home to Australia in August and doing a short stop-over holiday on the way back in San Francisco. Plus, we’re hoping to go to the US (possibly Vegas).
  • I’m planning to go to two writer’s conferences next year – Romance Writers of America conference (in Florida) and Romance Writers of Australia conference (in Brisbane).
  • Write more words! I actually wrote less words this year than I did last year due to a crazy editing schedule, and some particularly difficult edits for one book which sucked a whole month out of my schedule.
  • See more of Canada, both in Toronto and outside. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing my year in numbers! I’d love to hear some of your 2016 highlights in the comments. I hope you all have an amazing end to the year and a brilliant start to 2017. See you in the New Year xx

Dec 18, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Kandy Shepherd

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Kandy Shepherd but first 

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

Can you please contact Amy Andrews at 

 to receive your copy of  Swept Away by the Seductive Stranger

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Heart of the Bay

Their hearts are leading home and to love.
 The Dolphin Bay trilogy: The Summer They Never Forgot, The Tycoon and the Wedding Planner, A Diamond in Her Stocking.

Scene set-up: There are three linked novels in Heart of the Bay all set in the fictional rural town of Dolphin Bay on the  south coast of New South Wales, Australia. This smooch is from the first story, The Summer They Never Forgot.

On her thirtieth birthday, running from betrayal, Sandy Adams has on impulse returned to Dolphin Bay the small coastal town where she spent her happiest teenage vacation ever with gorgeous, carefree surfer dude Ben Morgan.

Ben was her first love but thanks to interference from their families their romance never progressed. Twelve years later she finds a very different Ben, scarred both physically and emotionally from a tragic accident. The attraction is still as strong as ever but the barriers stopping them from taking a second chance seem insurmountable.

Sandy is in town for a few days to help out his injured aunt but Ben has made it very clear that there can be nothing more between them. At sunrise when she is walking along the beach she encounters him body surfing. Against all caution and common sense she waits for him on the beach.

Throwing driftwood for his dog Hobo they accidentally collide. Ben examines Sandy’s head for bumps to find she’s uninjured. But they’re close, so closer, closer than they’ve been for twelve years…

Smooch  - 
“His big, scarred hands moved from her scalp to cradle her face. He tilted her head so she was forced to look up into his eyes. For a long moment he searched her face.

‘I don’t want to hurt you, Sandy,’ he said, his voice hoarse.

She knew he wasn’t talking about the collision. ‘I realise that, Ben,’ she whispered.

Then, with her eyes drowning in his, he kissed her.

She was so surprised she stood stock-still for a moment. Then she relaxed into the sensation of Ben’s mouth on hers. It felt like coming home.

When Ben had lifted his head from the wave and had seen Sandy standing on the beach, it had been as if the past and the present had coalesced into one shining moment. A joy so unexpected it was painful had flooded his heart.

And here he was, against all resolutions, kissing her.

Her lips were warm and pliant beneath his. Her breasts were pressed to his chest. Her eyes, startled at first, were filled with an expression of bliss.

He shouldn’t be kissing her. Starting things he could not finish. Risking pain for both of them. Bit those thoughts were lost in the wonder of having her close to him again.

It was as if the twelve years between kisses had never happened.

He twined his hands in her shiny vanilla-scented hair, tilted her head back as he deepened the kiss, pushed against her lips with his tongue. Her mouth parted to welcome him, to meet the tip of his tongue with hers.

She made a small murmur of appreciation and wound her arms around his neck. His arms slid to her waist, to the smooth, warm skin where her top stopped, drawing her close. He could feel her heart thudding against her chest.

He wanted her. She could surely feel his arousal. But this wasn’t just about sex. It had always been so much more than that with Sandy.

The world shrank to just him and her, and the surf was a muted pounding that echoed the pulsing of their hearts, the blood running hot through his veins.”

What's your favourite setting for a romantic getaway? Beach? Country? Snow? Or somewhere else entirely!  For a chance to win a paperback copy of Heart of the Bay (worldwide) please make a comment!

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Dec 16, 2016

2017! What's on your list?

So, another year has almost come to an end. And this year has been a tough one for some. But on a whole, not so bad. I had a birthday a week ago - a big one - half a century. To celebrate, I did something I've wanted to do for ages but never had the courage. I got a tattoo! (it looks red in the pic because I had just had it done - but it's all healed now) Incorporating the two things that are the most important to me - my hubby and my writing. It's on my shoulder and not too big.

And as we head into 2017, it got me thinking about what I wanted from the year ahead. I always make New Years Resolutions  - you know, the usual ones, eat less, exercise more etc. But next year I want to do a few new things. Here's my list -
1/ Learn to ride a motor bike
2/ Spend more time with my horses
3/ Go on a holiday (my hubby and I want to go to New Zealand next year)
4/ Write more words! Not sure about this one since I have four books coming out with Harlequin next year and a couple of self-published titles planned, but I'll see how I go. I just received my cover for my April book  too.
5/ Use my bright pink Kayak more (weather and sharks permitting)
6/ Buy a new car
7/ Celebrate every success!
So, what's on your list? Holiday? Spending time with family? Read more? Yoga?
Whatever you have planned, enjoy every moment!

Dec 14, 2016

And they lived happily ever after

I have a book due in this week, so endings have been playing on my mind a lot recently.

A few years ago I received several Amazon reviews that all said they loved the stories but found the endings too rushed…so since then I’ve worked hard on trying to give my endings their proper weight and make then truly satisfying and sigh-worthy.

I’ve been turning to films to give me inspiration and these are the three particular film endings that I love this week (and, yes, you’re right, this selection does change with remarkable regularity to suit my mood). :-) But each of these endings is perfect in its own way, and each leave me with a big smile on my face and an utter sense of well being.

1. When Harry Met Sally
This is one of my all-time favourite movies. And one of my favourite tropes—Friends to Lovers (well, enemies-to-friends and then friends-to-lovers, but let’s not split hairs). Harry’s declaration at the end of the movie when he realises he’s in love with Sally is pitch perfect and wins Sally over utterly (as it should). This scene never gets old.

2. Northanger Abbey
When Henry Tilney arrives at Catherine’s hometown of Fullerton to apologise and make amends for the terrible treatment she received from his father, and she tries to apologise to him for having been so foolish and says, she deserved such discourtesy… He turns to her and says, “No! The discourtesy was all his.” Look, go and watch this short clip (if you’re stretched for time, move to the 2 min mark) and you’ll know what I mean. But…it’s all in the turn of his countenance.

Also, the kiss at the end is the sweetest kiss ever. :-)

3. Notting Hill
As a rule, I’m not a fan of the public declaration…but William Thacker, if he wants to win the girl, has absolutely no choice but to ask the question publicly at the Anna Scott press conference. And he does so in his usual bumbling but charming way, and, seriously, does anyone have a bigger smile than Julia Roberts? I think one of the elements that make this scene work so well is the reaction of all of William’s friends who’ve helped him get to the press conference in time—it’s such joyous ending.

As I said earlier, these are my three favourites today, but I’m always searching for wonderful endings. Do you have a favourite movie or book ending that makes you go gooey every time? I’d love to know.

Dec 12, 2016

Hot or Cold Christmas

I’ve lived in Australia most of my life. It is a hot, dry place. I don’t mind most of the time, but during Christmas I really, really prefer snow and log fires over sun, sand and sunscreen. I know this might mean I’m thrown out of the country, but I simple prefer a Northern Hemisphere Christmas.

Last year, we spent Christmas in Austria. It was lovely and crisp. We walked through the Christmas markets sipping warmed mulled wine all rugged up in coats and hats. My idea of bliss.

Vienna on Christmas Day

This year we will be having Christmas near Noosa in Queensland. Noosa is beautiful, lush and green, but you know…there’s never any snow.

Which do you prefer? Do you love waking up on Christmas morning to flurries of snowflakes or do you prefer running down the beach into the waves?

Dec 11, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Amy Andrews but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is  Ann O'Donnell.

Can you please contact Annie West on annie (at) annie-west (dot) com to receive your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from -  
Swept Away by the Seductive Stranger.

When that guy on the train turns out to be your boss!

Nurse Felicity Mitchell's train journey of a lifetime is even more unforgettable when she meets Callum Hollingsworth. Neither is looking for temptation, but that doesn't stop them from sharing one hot, wild night!

Except when they disembark, they learn that what happened on the train won't stay on the train. Because the gorgeous stranger is Flick's new boss…and it's increasingly difficult to keep their chemistry under control and leave it at just one night!

Scene set-up

Felicity and Callum have just saved the life of an elderly man who went into cardiac arrest late at night on their train trip. Not quite the way either of them were hoping things were going to turn out. But in the aftermath, they find themselves alone once more.....

     “You were great out there,” Felicity said.
     “So were you.”
     “Not quite what I expected would happen tonight.”
He smiled. “Me neither.” And then, “Are you...okay? It was kind of intense out there. The adrenaline was flowing.”
     “Sure, steady as a rock.” Felicity held up a hand horizontally. It betrayed her completely by trembling.
He quirked an eyebrow. “So I see.”
Felicity glanced from it to him, conscious of the rock and sway of the train. Conscious that she was far away from Vickers Hill.
It emboldened her.
“That’s not from the accident.”
Her hand was trembling for reasons that were far more primal.
He regarded her for long moments before turning slightly and reaching for the door behind him, shutting it. He turned the lock with a resounding click, the noise slithering with wicked intent to all her secret places.
They were truly alone now.
Darkness pressed in on her, the only light entering was from the strip at the bottom of the door and the moonlight pushing in through the window. It was enough to allow her eyes to quickly adjust to the low light. 
Enough to see Callum.
He turned to face her, stepped closer, so close his breath warmed her forehead. He reached for her hand which had fallen by her side. “Maybe you just need to –” He slid her hand onto his chest, flattening it over his heart, his big hand holding hers in place. “Grab hold of something solid?”
Felicity dropped her gaze to their joined hands. Each thud of his heart reverberated through her palm scattering awareness to every cell of her body. She’d never had a one night stand or done anything so spontaneous. But on a night when she’d been reminded how precarious life could be, she needed it.
She needed this. She needed him.
The clickety clack of the wheels on the track faded into the ether as she glanced at him. “Maybe I do,” she murmured, the scent from his citrusy cologne filling up her senses until she was dizzy with wanting him.
Like a slice of lime after a shot of tequila
His kiss, when it came, was gentle. So gentle it almost made her cry. It was long and slow and sweet. It was everything she didn’t know she needed in this moment.
Earlier, if she’d been asked how this would go down she would have said fast and furious. But this was infinitely better. Burning slow and bright, building in increments that piled one on top of the other making her yearn and ache and want even as it soothed and sated.
His hands slid around her waist. Her arms snaked around his neck. He drew her closer. She lifted up onto her tip toes.
Their hearts thundered together.   
When he finally pulled away, they were both breathing hard. His eyes roved over her face, glittering with the kind of fever that also burned in her. What was he looking for?
Permission. Submission?
He had it.
“I knew you’d taste this good,” he muttered, the low husky rumble stroking right between her legs.
      His next kiss wasn’t long and sweet and slow. It was hot and fast and dirty.

For a chance to win a signed copy of Swept Away by the Seductive Stranger (worldwide), tell me, have you ever been on a long train trip? If not, what's your idea of luxury travel if money wasn't an issue. Where would you go and how would you get there?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a new Smooch will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver