Jul 31, 2017

Tempted by the Wrong Twin Giveaway!

Tomorrow is the release day for my latest book, Tempted by the Wrong Twin (though I hear the eBook is already available - actual release dates are hard to pin down nowadays!).

So I'm in the mood to celebrate!

And, although I'll probably do something fairly low key, I'm having an indulgent moment where I'd like to dream big. Perhaps a champagne and strawberries breakfast overlooking the French Alps? Or maybe cocktails on the beach of my very own private island in the Great Barrier Reef?

Tell me, if money, travel and access weren't issues, what would be your ideal way to celebrate something? 

I'll choose one commenter to send a signed copy of Tempted by the Wrong Twin (or another book from my backlist if you already have this one on preorder.

Jul 30, 2017

Sunday Smooch - At the Italian's Bidding by Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch Annie West from but first 

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

Can you please contact to receive your copy of Clare Connelly's book by emailing Amy Andrews at amy(at)amyandrews(dot)com(dot)au

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from AT THE ITALIAN'S BIDDING. This is the 5th book in Annie's Hot Italian Nights novella series,  a 1st August release which is currently available for preorder.

She’s out of bounds but how can he resist?

Niccolo might risk his neck on the racing car circuit but there’s one thing he won’t risk — his friendship with the De Laurentis family. Which means he dare not give in to his feelings for his best friend’s sister, Lia De Laurentis, no matter how impossible it is to keep his distance. Yet when he needs a pretend girlfriend, just for a weekend, who else can he trust to play the part?  

Lia can’t believe she says yes to Niccolo Marchesi’s outrageous request. Her teenage crush on her brother’s daredevil friend has turned into full-scale infatuation, so how is she supposed to withstand two whole nights of temptation, pretending to be his lover? She knows every touch is a lie but it feels like the real thing.

When honour and passion clash, will his scruples prove stronger than her willpower?

Scene set-up

Lia and Niccolo have been trying to resist their passion for each other. Niccolo because he doesn't want to take advantage of a girl who he thinks looks on him like a brother and Lia because she believes Niccolo doesn't have romantic feelings for her, that he prefers the leggy blondes who follow him on the racing car circuit. Now, after a weekend pretending to be an item, tension has reached breaking point. Lia can't conceal her distress, believing he'll never return her feelings. An evening of putting on a smiling face at a big society party is too much, now they're back in the privacy of their suite.

Smooch  -

‘Whatever it is, we’ll make it better.’

She shook her head, almost violently, her long hair flaring and slipping over his hand.

‘No.’ Her voice was stronger now, with a whiplash undercurrent of bitterness. ‘This isn’t something you can kiss and make better.’

Niccolo almost groaned, wishing the words undone. His attention dropped instantly to her lips, finely cut and lushly inviting.

There was a roaring in his ears, a shaking in his belly and his hands tightened on her, one at her back, one sliding round to cup her head. He couldn’t let go. Couldn’t force himself to step away. His feet were cemented to the floor.

She tempted him beyond endurance and she didn’t even realise.

‘Why not?’ His grating voice was unrecognisable.

He told himself it would be fine to touch her mouth. A tiny kiss from a friend, over as soon as it began. A demonstration that he cared for her, was here for her. That whatever her problem was, he’d help.

A brotherly kiss!

Except when he leaned in to touch his lips to her cheek she moved, no doubt startled. He felt the shock in her straining body.

Then somehow, surely without intending to, his lips grazed hers. Grazed and clung.

Because to withdraw was utterly impossible.

Lia’s lips were so soft, so perfect, fitting to his as if made for that very purpose. Niccolo froze. Amazing as it was to admit, he’d never felt so undone by a woman. Yet all he did was touch her lips!

They tasted like honey. Honey and Lia, the most beautiful woman he’d ever known.

Niccolo inhaled sharply, strengthening his resolve to draw back. Except now he dragged in air warm from her flesh, scented with the lily and woman perfume of Lia. There was no turning back. Not yet. He stood unmoving, one hand cupping her skull, the other splayed over the sinuous indentation of her waist.

Until, shocking him to the core, he felt the slick of her tongue along his mouth. And a warm vibration, like a soundless hum of pleasure, resonate through her.

Niccolo tried to summon the will to move, to break the embrace. Then it came again, tentative but real, her tongue sliding across his bottom lip.

A man was only human after all.

He’d done his best, tried to be strong, but there was a limit to endurance.

Angling his head, pressing closer, he opened his mouth and sucked her questing tongue into his mouth. Sucked hard, drawing his own tongue against it in a duel that was all invitation and pleasure.

Niccolo’s hands trembled as they never did at the wheel of a racing vehicle. He felt as if he held sunlight and innocence in his arms and was torn between protectiveness and the need to possess.

He moved his hand, changed his grip to angle her head for easier access and, instead of stiffening in rejection, Lia melted in his arms, her curves sliding against him, her head bowing back under the pressure of his, and again that wordless vibration of pleasure. He tasted it, swallowed it, then plunged deep into her mouth, demanding more.

It was like admiring a daisy and discovering it was a lush, sensual rose in disguise.

Her mouth was rich velvet, tempting and seductive. Her body undulated against him in blatant, needy invitation, and Niccolo found himself backing her up against the dressing table. He crowded her between his thighs, his erection instant and powerful, jammed up against her belly.

Somewhere, in the back of his brain, his conscience commanded he pull back. But then Lia’s hands crept up his chest, over his shoulders and she wrapped her fingers around his neck, pulling him down towards her as if she too couldn’t get enough.

It was bliss.

It was torture.

Devastatingly fantastic yet not nearly enough. Already his hand was roving her body, down over the ripe curve of her buttocks, then digging in through the thin fabric till she gasped and rocked her pelvis into him, her head falling back.

Niccolo had never seen anything more alluring than Lia, her kiss-swollen lips open as she gasped for air, a flush of arousal tinting her throat and cheeks and her eyes glowing gold. They were a siren’s eyes, luring him on, inviting him to forget restrictions and taboos and take her. Here, now.

His breath came in harsh gulps that couldn’t quite fill his lungs. His skin was tight and uncomfortable and he needed to rip off his clothes.

But more than that, he needed to have Lia. The pain of not tearing himself free of his trousers and taking her right here was making him dizzy.

‘We should—’ He’d been about to say something about stopping, except Lia tilted her hips in a sinuous move that brought her pelvis high against him.

His conscience disintegrated in a ripple of lust that began at the base of his spine and raced straight round to his groin.

Lia knew what she was doing. She wasn’t that innocent.

Her heavy-lidded stare invited and challenged.

With a growl of triumph, Niccolo swept his mouth back down to hers, possessing her with a bruising thoroughness that still couldn’t allay the need thrumming in his veins. He hungered for Lia, for all of her, writhing and gasping beneath him as he took them both to heaven.

He slid his hand from her face, down past her collarbone to her breast. His hand trembled as he cupped her fullness in his fingers. Was it because she fitted him so perfectly or because this was Lia, the woman who’d been secretly driving him crazy for so long? Whatever the reason, she made him want to slide to his knees and worship her. To give her everything he had. And to please her as no man had ever pleased her before.

He smiled as her eyes fluttered closed and she arched up high into his touch, a tiny sound of delight falling from her open lips.

It was then that Niccolo knew he was utterly lost.
Niccolo was Lia's first crush. But instead of growing out of that crush, her love grows stronger.

Do you remember your first crush? Was it a singer or actor or maybe even your older brother's best mate? I wonder if any of those first loves become 'the real thing'? Or alternatively maybe there was something you adored as a kid that still plays a significant part in your life.

Leave a comment and you could win a Kindle copy of AT THE ITALIAN'S BIDDING. Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Melanie Milburne will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jul 28, 2017

The Temptations of Being Tempted

"The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation." 

I love this quote by Oscar Wilde (and it pretty much sums up my relationship with chocolate!).

I find the idea of being tempted by something you know you shouldn't do particularly delicious. Take, for example, the first time Nick sees Harper again after their one night of passion. He'd gone to her place to explain that he wasn't the twin she thought he was, but instead... 

He knocked on her front door, still having no idea how he could possibly explain everything. Then the door swung inward and she was there and he had no air left to form words anyway. Her almond-shaped brown eyes widened at the sight of him, and he knew he had to say something. Anything. But her haunting beauty overwhelmed him. He’d barely been able to stop thinking about her since that night, and now here she was in real life. Filling his vision. Smelling like heaven.

“Malcolm?” she said, her voice breathy, and instead of explaining, he found himself mute, reaching out to feel the silky-soft skin of her cheek. His palm cupped the side of her jaw, his fingers feathering over her cheekbone, and he was lost.

Her eyes widened in surprise and she took a small step back, out of his touch, but her gaze didn’t falter. He waited a beat, waited in agony, waited until she swayed back toward him, and then he reached for her again. Her lips parted as she tilted her head into his palm. The world around them faded, and he took an infinitesimal step closer, being drawn by the magnetic force that had been there since he’d first laid eyes on her three months ago.

He was supposed to say something, tell her something, but there were no words in his mind, only Harper and the way her eyes had darkened as she looked at him. Breathing ragged, he lowered his head and speared his fingers through her long, glossy hair. This was wrong, so wrong, yet the rightness of it overwhelmed him, crushing all other thoughts.

She lifted herself on tiptoes and met him halfway, her mouth finding his, her lips soft, welcoming, wanting, her arms wrapping around his shoulders and gripping tight. With a groan of surrender, he slid his tongue along hers and hauled her flush against him.


This was what had driven him crazy the night they’d met. This was what had kept her in his waking dreams since. This was what was making him dizzy now.

Of course, a little voice at the back of his mind whispered, this was also what had led him into trouble in the first place.

He had to stop kissing her. To find the strength to pull away and explain everything. Oh, but her mouth and what it was doing to his was divine…

Mind you, Harper finds herself pretty tempted by Nick at various points in their story as well...

Harper watched Nick and tried to keep her breathing under control. Being so close to him on the sofa as she’d pretended to watch TV had set every single nerve ending she had on edge. And then he’d fed her ice cream… Her skin yearned for his touch, but if she gave in now, all would be lost—she might not be able to pull back.

Then she noticed the strong, insistent beat of his pulse at the base of his neck. The tension in his muscles as he held himself in check. The way his gaze smoldered.

And she forgot what they were fighting against.

“Nick?” she asked, her voice breathless.


“What would happen if we gave in?”

His gaze flicked to her mouth then back to her eyes. “Gave in to what?”

“To this.” She motioned back and forth with a finger. “To what’s burning between us.”

He swallowed hard. “You really want to know?”

“Yeah, I do,” she whispered.

He looked down at her in the dim light of the kitchen, then lowered his head until his lips brushed over hers, just once. “This.”

A sigh built within her and escaped her throat as she leaned into him. “Oh. This is a good plan.”

Now, I might never have met a "wrong twin" in real life, but I do find myself familiar with the concept of temptation - and not just over chocolate. There's also the stationary aisles at Officeworks, and every time I see a book on sale, and all the dogs I want to adopt on a daily basis.

But what about you? What tempts you? I'm curious!

Jul 26, 2017

Other people's recipes – Kandy Shepherd

Do you have his/hers/theirs recipes in your house? I love cooking, it’s a hobby as much as a household necessity. My husband is a good cook. He says that’s only because he can read a recipe but it’s more than that. When I was in my day job, often working long hours, he did more cooking than I did. Husband tends to specialise in stir-fries and omelettes. He never, ever bakes—wouldn’t dare, he says. I love baking probably best of all!

I like baking and trying new recipes! This decadent treat is German Chocolate Cake from the Joy of Baking website

My daughter, the dietitian-in-training, enjoys cooking too. Her specialities tend to be very healthy and often vegetarian. She surprises us with the deliciousness of dishes I would never have thought of cooking. Her salads are supreme. And she keeps us healthy with fresh vegetable juices.

Fresh green juice courtesy of my daughter

The thing is, none of us in the family cooks what the others cook. The dish and the glory that goes with it belongs to the person who cooks it. We enjoy it all the more because of that.  And it feels strange if we veer away from that. It’s like a form of infidelity.

Yesterday, my husband was scheduled to cook. Suddenly there was a minor emergency with his work. This meant I had to cook his planned dinner. This had never been done before. But the ingredients had been purchased. Nothing else was planned. I had to tackle his specialty of Japanese Chicken With Brown Rice—more commonly known as Dad’s Japanese chicken and a real favourite. The recipe comes from a wonderful Weight Watchers cookbook, published in Australia. I can’t find the book at the moment or I’d give you the name of it! We work from a photocopy we made to save the cookbook from kitchen spills.

It’s a flavoursome dish made with chicken, baby eggplant (aubergine), baby (Dutch) carrots and ingredients like Tamari (Japanese soy sauce) and Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine). Was I up for it? I went into the kitchen with some trepidation.

My attempt at Dad's Japanese chicken (those are not dead bananas in there but baby eggplant/aubergine!)
Cooking hubby’s favourite recipe was like wearing someone else’s clothes that didn’t quite fit. I did my best. However I couldn’t resist tinkering. I added some sesame oil to the peanut oil. Snuck in a fat clove of garlic. He hadn’t bought gai lan (aka Chinese broccoli) to serve with it. I used ordinary broccoli I had in the fridge. Fried the eggplant first as I think eggplant tastes better that way (thus using a bit more oil than the Weight Watchers allowance.) And didn’t have any green onions to garnish it with.

My husband graciously told me my version tasted better than his. I didn’t agree. It tasted good. Very good. But it wasn’t the same as when he made it. I like it so much better when it’s Dad’s dish. (And, okay, when I don’t have to cook it!)

I’ve found the recipe online, as well as being tasty, it’s also easy! Here it is: Weight Watchers Japanese Chicken with Brown Rice.

Do you have any family favourite dishes? Maybe one that is jealously guarded? A favourite that you like to make? I’d love to see your comments!

Jul 24, 2017

Retreating by Amy Andrews

I recently was lucky enough to team up with three other authors and go on a retreat to Currumbin on Queensland's beautiful Gold Coast. The house was amazing and there's just something about water that is so creatively inspiring for me. We all made great inroads to our WIP's and that was despite the amounts of wine we drank each night 😎😈😋

The house we stayed in was like something out of Home Beautiful. Seriously, there's no way I'd have stayed sane if I'd had little kids in this house. It was elegantly appointed, the view was to die for and I did not want to leave!

But hey....why not judge for yourself?

View from the main deck area - we even saw whales in the distance!

Early morning sunshine on my bed

View from my bedroom - see I did work!

Amazing sunrises!

Look at those Home Beautiful touches!!

Did I mention there was an open fire?

And amazing gardens?

Oh and the beach....

It's official, the beach is my happy place.

What's yours?