Feb 28, 2018

Those frivolous flappers — Kandy Shepherd

This past weekend, I stepped back in time to the 1920s to a Roaring 20s Festival and had the most fun I’ve had in ages. Along with a group of friends, we dressed up in 20s inspired outfits, listened to live jazz, watched a parade of exquisite vintage clothing from a private collection and even tried a few steps of the Charleston.

With author friend Cathleen Ross (left)

The  “long lunch” was held at the glorious Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. The Hydro opened in 1904 as Australia’s first health retreat but many of the current buildings were built later in the Art Deco style when it became known as a party hotel for the well heeled.

We knew we were in the right place when we saw the car!

The Hydro has had its ups and downs over the years, but was recently magnificently restored and has become an entertainment hub for residents of the mountains and visitors from Sydney—about an hour and half drive or rail ride away—and beyond. The hotel is sited on an escarpment with breathtaking views to the Megalong Valley below and the surrounding mountains. The Hydro is known for its restaurants too. The lunch was fabulous, showcasing food from the Blue Mountains region.

Blue Mountain cheeses

Afterwards, I found myself wondering why I enjoyed myself so much and realised it was because I whole-heartedly joined in the fun. Usually when it comes to a themed party, I don’t bother getting dressed up in costume. Too old, too heavy, too past that kind of thing I mutter.

Elegant vintage outfit from the 1920s

This time I ordered online a glittery flapper style dress from a company that was advertising on social media. It came in plenty of time for the event but a size smaller than I had ordered. With the aid of some industrial strength control underwear I managed to squeeze into it! My friend, author Cathleen Ross (Harlequin Escape; Entangled) organised our table for the 20s event—thank you Cathleen. Without realising it, we ordered the same dresses, she in silver me in gold which made it all the more fun.

The same dress - one in silver and the other in gold!

All our party dressed up and so did nearly every other guest at the lunch—several hundred by our count. Everyone made the effort and I was so glad I had too, even though at first I felt a tad self-conscious in a squeezed-like-a-sausage into a too-small dress kind of way. I even sashayed down the catwalk when all guests who had dressed up were invited to parade.

I won a door prize of local jams

Everyone laughed and admired each other’s fabulous costumes and chatted to strangers about where they got their headdress or their suit or their ropes of fake pearls. The men were dressed with as much aplomb as the women and totally entered into the spirit of the event. The experience wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t overcome my inhibitions and dressed up. The only down side was the most unflattering headband I wore that kept sliding down over my forehead with a wayward pearl button dangling into my eye. No wonder they went out of fashion!

Do you throw yourself into the spirit of  costume party or prefer to fade into the scenery like I usually do? What’s the most memorable costume you’ve ever dressed up in? What’s the most fun dress up party you’ve been to?  Any dress up disasters to share? I’d love to see your comments!

Feb 26, 2018

Life is Like a Box.... by Amy Andrews!


I am drowning in boxes......Not little boxes, little boxes, little boxes full of ticky tacky...Sadly, not those kind of boxes at all.


Yes, we're moving. After 16 years in the house we built surrounded by trees we're heading for a sea change and I can't wait!!

But...I'd forgotten how awful moving is and I take my hat off to anyone who does it frequently... I also wouldn't recommend trying to get a book written in the middle of all the chaos!

The trucks arrive on Thursday and on Friday we will be moving into our new house with our ocean view 700kms north of where we live now! 

A big week. A very big week!

Anyone got any packing/moving day tips for me? My survival may depend on it...




Feb 25, 2018

Sunday Smooch - Contracted for the Petrakis Heir, Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Annie West but first 

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

Can you please contact Amy Andrews at   amy(at)amyandrews.com.au to receive your copy of Playing House.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West. Leave a comment on this post to go in the draw to win a signed copy.

‘I’m pregnant.’
But this baby bombshell is nothing compared to Adoni’s scandalous solution…!
A positive pregnancy test isn’t the only reminder Alice has of her one scorching night with Adoni Petrakis. As she defiantly tells him the news, memories of his skilled touch overwhelm her! The contract he draws up—to claim her and his child—is utterly shocking. As is her realisation that she’s still powerfully and inescapably in thrall to this vengeful Greek!
Scene set-up
Alice, woozy after her first ever champagne, inadvertantly gatecrashes Adoni's private owner's suite in the hotel where she's been bridesmaid at a wedding. Adoni, fascinated and amused by the delightful stranger and her unguarded comments, doesn't immediately kick her out. But the joke is on him when she abruptly falls asleep on his sofa. Knowing there's no-one looking out for her or to see her safely home, he lets her rest for an hour while he works. But when she wakes, she discovers she's revealed things to this stranger she hadn't intended, including how much she';s attracted to him.

Smooch  -
‘You weren’t so hesitant earlier.’ His smile was slow and intense and it superheated her blood.
‘I wasn’t?’
He frowned. ‘You don’t remember?’
‘I…’ She frowned as snippets of conversation came back to her in vivid clarity. ‘I asked if you were a good kisser.’ Part of her shrank at the memory of such champagne-induced frankness, but now she was here, toe to toe with this fascinating man, excitement overrode bashfulness.
‘Would you still like to find out?’ His voice dropped to a low note that wound its way through her belly and down to her knees, making them wobble.
Impossible that he should affect her so intensely, this man whose name she couldn’t even recall. Adoni something. She knew so little about him.
Sensible Alice Trehearn, the one who’d spent years being dependable, devoted and reliable, knew this was her cue to leave. Yet another Alice Trehearn, the one who secretly yearned for life, and who’d only surfaced previously in her hell-for-leather gallops across the moor, shivered in excitement.
‘Yes.’ The word was out before she thought about it. Because if she thought about it she’d never say it.
‘Good,’ he murmured. ‘Your mouth has been driving me crazy.’
Her mouth? Alice lifted a hand to her lips but instead met his chin as his head lowered. He stopped a breath away. She felt his exhalation on her lips, scented with coffee and brandy and something indefinable. The pads of her fingers trembled against the solid plane of his jaw, then spread, testing warm skin with a hint of stubble that grazed her flesh as she settled her whole palm across his chin.
She’d shaved both her father and later her godfather, David, when each grew too ill to do it themselves. Neither had been like this. Adoni radiated heat and vigour and a sensuality she felt right down to the marrow in her bones. He was strong, his flesh taut and so vitally alive.
Alice drew a shuddering breath filled with the alien, delicious scent of man in his prime. She stared up into eyes as bright as she imagined the Aegean Sea to be. She read a question there. He was giving her time to change her mind.
In answer, Alice slid her hand around into his thick, short dark hair, surprised at its softness. She rose on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his.
For a moment he didn’t move and she cringed inside. This was a mistake. Hadn’t she known he couldn’t really be interested?
Then his mouth moved on hers, gently persuading her lips apart. His warm tongue slicked her lips then delved within and everything inside her melted and swayed at the eroticism of that sweet invasion. Her belly liquefied, her knees loosened and it was only the firm loop of his arm around her waist that kept her high against him.
His other hand eased the hair back from her face in a gesture so tender her heart rolled over.
Alice slipped her other hand up over his chest. The feel of hard, lean muscle sent a sizzle of excitement through her. She leaned closer, a willing pupil as he delved deeper, drawing out the kiss into something that sent shivery hot darts of flame through her blood.
She didn’t know which was better, the way Adoni kissed, making her feel treasured, or the feel of their bodies locked tight. The arm at her waist slid lower, drawing her hips against him.
Her breath stilled as she came in contact with a hard length against her belly.
Instantly he lifted his mouth and Alice almost wailed with disappointment at her loss, her face instantly tilting higher as if to tempt him back. Instead he pressed his lips to her forehead.
A shudder racked his tall frame and it hit her that she wasn’t the only one swept away in the moment. Surprise and satisfaction filled her. Even if this had started as a one-sided favour it had become something else.
‘Adoni?’ Her voice was husky and uneven.
He drew back just far enough to meet her eyes. What did he see? She felt flushed and wanton, not like herself.
‘This is your chance to change your mind.’ Gone was the slightly teasing gleam she’d seen in his face when he’d talked of kissing her. Now he looked solemn to the point of grimness.
‘About kissing you?’
‘And the rest of what you wanted.’
The rest? Her brow furrowed as she tried to recall their earlier conversation but her foggy memory couldn’t compete with the heady sensations bombarding her. That delicious spicy scent of his skin, the rich flavour of him still on her tongue. The heat of his large body surrounding her and that strange mix of vulnerability and power she felt at the differences in their closely aligned bodies.
‘You wanted an orgasm.’

New look Australian cover
Have you ever done anything really impulsive? Did you regret it or did that quick impulse lead to something good?

Leave a comment here and go in the draw to win a signed copy of CONTRACTED FOR THE PETRAKIS HEIR. 

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Feb 23, 2018

What the World Needs Now... Kindness

There's so much ugliness happening all over the world stage at the moment, and, don't get me wrong - I believe in taking action to see the change we want, but I also believe that it can all be overwhelming for us as individuals. 

So, today I want to talk about kindness. The type of kindness that really makes a difference to someone but rarely makes headlines. 

Kindness to people who need it, and to people who didn't think they did. Kindness to strangers, and kindness to friends and family. Kindness to animals, and kindness to all things.

I've had some beautiful people show me kindness in my life. Sometimes it's the simple act of explaining something clearly without making me feel stupid for not understanding right away. Other times it's been something huge...

When Mr Bailey had cancer a few years ago, the romance community banded around us. One writer flew to Australia to look after our five dogs while we went to Brisbane for his chemo and radiation. Another sent us vouchers for a food home delivery service, and several brought us home-cooked food while we were staying in Brisbane. Others took some of the load with my RWA work. And so many more that I can't even list them all, but I will never forget them. Kindness counts.

So, let's talk about kindness. Real kindness that's happened in the world. Tell me something kind someone has done for you. It might be a big thing or a tiny little thing - the size doesn't matter, just that it had an effect on you.

Feb 21, 2018

The Joy of Kitchen Renovations! aka It's Finally Quiet Enough to Write Again - Annie West

Starting from scratch - after the kitchen was ripped out.
Well, we survived! Better than I expected, actually. If the words kitchen renovations fill you with fear, then you'll know what I mean. We've renovated before, but never a kitchen. We did easy rooms, where no plumbing was involved, and where, despite the mess around the place we could still end the day with a home cooked meal. But here - not so easy, as you'll see from this photo. 

Weeks without a kitchen bench, with doing the washing up in the laundry, with having a bare minimum of work space on a fold up table in the back room. Actually, it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd anticipated, maybe because it's summer and it was easy to live off salads and barbecues. Plus the experts who did the hard work were so good to work with (and not a single blaring radio in the place). I can put up with hammering and drilling and still manage to do some work, but loud radios mean an end to my word count. In this case, I admit I tended to take myself out on the really busy days.

During the process - minus benchtops and doors.

One of the best things about the new design is its accessibility. No more blind corner cupboards to dig into. You'll see from the photo above the two corner contraptions that pull right out into the room so you can get to the things you've packed away. Plus lots of drawers and, sigh, a walk in pantry. Heaven! Is it any wonder I walk into this room and smile? And, best of all - the bench height. For the first time in my adult life I have a bench that is the right height for me. It's marvellous to spend time working here and not get that niggle of pain from bending all the time. My skyscraper son would have been happy with an even taller bench but he can get his own!

The transformation took longer than expected, with some public holiday delays but we think it was worth waiting for. I'm still filling cupboards (and culling) and still have a table covered in bits and pieces waiting for their new home, but it's rather fun taking time to decide just where everything goes.

How about you? Have you done renovations? Were they a huge success or do you want to run, screaming to the hills at the mention of the word 'renovation'? Are you dreaming of a makeover and haven't yet attempted it? I'd be interested to hear your story!

Feb 20, 2018

Romance Trivia with Stefanie London

Stefanie London here! Recently I participated in a really fun event: Romance Trivia.

Along with my awesome publisher, Harlequin, we ran a night of cocktails, books and all-things romance.

To make the night even more special, the bar created cocktails for the hosting authors books!! (You can see the Bad Bachelor in this pick, cool huh?)

So, I thought it might be fun (instead of doing a normal post) to have a little romance trivia here on the Lovecats blog and Facebook page. Want to play? Share your answers in the comments below.

1. What Walt Disney animated film was hyped as "The most beautiful love story ever told"?

2. What planetary body was named after the Roman goddess of love?

3. How did Prince Harry & Meghan Markle meet?

4. What movie is this quote from: “I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.”?

5. Which Friends character was first to get married in real life?

Place your best guesses in the comments. No cheating!

Feb 18, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from but first ...... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Jillian Jones!


Can you please contact Rachel Bailey at Rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com to receive your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Playing House.


Eleanor is content with her boring life—mostly. She’s even fine being the quirky sister in a bevy of beauties. So imagine her surprise when one of her brother’s Sydney Smoke mates hits on her at an engagement party. Her. The weird sister, who wears vintage dresses and prefers her books to parties.
Bodie is shocked the next morning to find the soft, sexy virgin who seduced him with corsets is his best friend’s little sister. If he could kick his own ass, he would. And two months later, she’s got an even bigger surprise for him. Now he needs to convince the corset-loving wallflower that he loves her uniqueness if they’ve got a chance at forever.
He always did love a challenge…

Scene set-up

Eleanor is waiting in the hotel room for Bodie to join her. Tonight's the night she's losing it and she's a tad nervous!

Smooch  -

Eleanor jumped at the knock. Her pulse spiked and the muscles of her neck contracted. Bodie had assured her he’d come, but here he was, on the other side of the door, and suddenly she was overwhelmed by the thought this was really happening.
It had been exactly three minutes since she’d let herself into his room. The entire trip upstairs, she’d been convinced she was going to run into somebody she knew and be delayed. A lot of locals had stayed in town for the night after the country/city match to celebrate their local boy’s impending nuptials.
Which meant a lot of potential for gossip.
Thankfully, the staircase had been empty, as had the long corridor to the guest rooms. Now, all she had to do was go through with it. God…could she?
Yes. She could.
A second knock accelerated her pulse, and her gaze darted to the door a half-dozen steps away. She was going to have sex. Lose her virginity. Be deflowered.
She wished she’d had some more time to think about how it might go down, but all she’d had time for was snapping on the beside lamp, stripping off her clothes and climbing into the white, hotel-supplied bathrobe she’d found hanging in the closet.
Just in case he thought she was actually here to talk about the occult practices of nineteenth century England.
Plus, the corset and bloomers she was wearing beneath her dress tended to slow down the disrobing process, and she didn’t want that. It was hard to believe that a guy like Bodie was even interested, especially after prattling on about hypnotising lions, so she didn’t want to make it any more difficult to do the deed.
A third knock. Eep! Was she actually doing this? A quiet, “Eleanor?” galvanized her out of her inertia.
Yes she was!
Without giving herself time to have a panic attack or chicken out, she practically tripped over her own toes getting to the door. She must have looked a flustered wreck as she yanked it open, her pulse in her neck pounding madly, but he didn’t seem to notice as he pressed one big shoulder into the door frame and his gaze took a slow tour of her body.
It lingered where the gown crisscrossed the deep V of her cleavage before lifting to her face. “I wasn’t sure you were going to open the door.”
His voice tumbled over her smooth as water over river stones and dear God, the man smelled good. He towered over her as he lounged lazily in the doorframe. His gaze dropped to the rise of her breasts then back again. “I see you slipped into something more comfortable?”
Eleanor’s cheeks heated, and her heart raced. Her instinct was to apologise for being so…forward. But damn it, she hadn’t come here to play Scrabble or admire the recent refurbishment to the accommodations. This was operation losing it.
She drew in a shaky breath. “Yes.”
He smiled. “May I come in?
Eleanor’s knees wobbled at the request. This was his room, and she was clearly naked beneath the gown, but the fact that he was asking her permission to enter hit her in all her nineteenth-century feels.
Bodie may have been an elite rugby player, but the man had manners. And manners made Eleanor swoon like crazy.
If he wasn’t careful, she’d fall in love with him.
She grabbed him by the tie and yanked him inside.
He didn’t need any more encouragement, and Eleanor vaguely heard the door clicking shut as the hardness of his body smooshed up against the softness of hers. She pushed up on her tippy toes, seeking his mouth, and he met her halfway.
She moaned at the first touch of his lips, uncaring how much of a rookie she sounded. She was electrified by the feel of him and intoxicated by his taste and smell. His whiskers prickled and teased and she moaned again, her hands grabbing hold of his biceps as the earth tilted on its axis. 
“Christ.” He pulled away, his chest heaving as he stared down at her, his inky gaze satisfyingly bewildered. “You taste so good. I want to feast on you all night.”
Eleanor barely had time to register the feral lust turning his looks from preppy to predatory before his mouth was back on hers, hot and hard. He hauled her up his body, his hands gripping the backs of her thighs, lifting her feet off the ground, urging her legs apart.
Her gown gaped below the tie as her ankles locked tight around his waist, and Eleanor clung to him, oblivious of all else but him. Sucking in his taste and his scent, the rough chug of his breath and the deep rumble of his groan. Nothing mattered but the sweet plunder of his mouth, the heat of his belly pressed into the soft flesh of her inner thighs and the hardness of muscles beneath his skin.
She didn’t register him moving, his long sure strides efficiently eating up the distance between the door and the bed without tripping or missing a step despite having a fully grown woman wrapped around him. She didn’t even register falling or the soft embrace of the mattress as they landed. Or the fact her ankles stayed locked tight.
She did register the delicious weight of his body, the way his hips settled into the cradle of hers and the steel of his erection at the bare juncture of her thighs.
Oh yeah baby. Her vagina was all over that.


The footy season is about to start again for the year. For a chance to win an electronic copy of Playing House (must have an Amazon account) tell me, are you a footy (of any code) fan and who's your team?

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