Mar 30, 2018

RITA shine!

It's the start of Awards Season here in Romance Land, and our very own Amy Andrews is leading the way!

This week the Romance Writers of America announced the finalists of their Rita awards and Amy has two - yes, you read that right - TWO books on that list. They're also books with two different publishers. Amy, you are a rock star!

  So, which books? I hear you ask.

A Christmas Miracle by Amy Andrews
Harlequin Mills & Boon, Medical
Megan Haslam, editor

Troy (American Extreme Bullrider Tour #5) by Amy Andrews
Tule Publishing
Sinclair Sawheny, editor

There are some other DownUnder authors -- two Aussies and a Kiwi -- who have also finalled, so a huge cheer to them as well!

The Dating Game by Avril Tremayne
HarperCollins, HQ Digital
Victoria Oundjian, editor

The Billionaire’s Christmas Baby by Marion Lennox
Harlequin, Romance
Sheila Hodgson, editor

Forbidden River by Brynn Kelly
Harlequin, HQN
Allison Carroll, editor

You can find the full list of finalists at the RWAmerica site.

So, tell me, have you read any of these DownUnder Rita finalist books? Or any of the other finalists? I'm wondering if maybe I should start reading my way through the list...?

Mar 28, 2018

Lark or owl? – Kandy Shepherd

 Are you a lark or an owl? I’m definitely an owl! Getting up early in the morning is torture for me, accompanied by much grumbling. Alarm clocks are demonic devices, deserving to be thrown at the wall for daring to disturb my slumbers.

But as the sun goes down, I rev up. I happily stay up until after midnight. My best writing time is in the early hours when the world is quiet and I can get deep into my creative zone. Sometimes I write all night—but then regret it when the rest of the world is waking up when I want to go to sleep!

That’s when I wish I was a lark—instead of having to force my owlish self unwillingly into the 9-to-5 world. I’d love to bound out of bed full of morning energy. “There’s nothing more wonderful than watching the sun rise, it’s the best time of the day,” my larkish friends enthuse. Er, I actually haven’t seen many sunrises in my life. But I’m very familiar with the midnight sky!

I don't often get to see the dawn like a lark!

 The world also seems to view the early-rising larks among us as somehow more virtuous than lazy slug-a-bed night owls who go to bed at a decadently late hour. It seems work is more valued done by those early at the desk than those who are more willing to stay late!

Representation of owl me in the mornings!

 You can imagine how delighted I was to see recent reports that suggest owls and larks are born that way. Apparently we can blame our ancestors for our sleep patterns. Because long ago when we all lived a tribal life, there was a need for someone to always be awake and on guard both day and night to watch out for the rest of the tribe.

Owls were genetically programmed to stay up at night while the others slept, to guard against predators and to sound the alarm when required. Larks did the same during the day while the owls rested. Someone was always awake and alert to possible danger. Staggered sleeping patterns helped keep the tribe safe. It makes sense, doesn’t it? I like the idea that people who rose early to watch at the dawn of the day, and those able to stay awake after dark worked together for the greater good! Much like modern-day shift workers.

I come from a family of owls—an inherited tendency so it seems. Thankfully, I married an owl—though he doesn’t stay up quite as late as I do. Perhaps back in our cave dwelling days, his ancestor did the dusk to midnight guard-duty shift and mine did the midnight til dawn shift. That might also explain a baby who never wanted to sleep at night!

What about you? Are you an owl or a lark? A shift worker? Any clashes between owls and larks living together? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mar 26, 2018

What's you jam? by Amy Andrews

My name is Amy Andrews and I'm addicted to Words With Friends. Or online Scrabble for those who dont know what it is.

I dont do these kind of puzzles/games because I have an addictive personality and I know if I start I can't stop. So this is actually fellow LoveCat Clare Connelly's fault. She coaxed me to play when I had resisted so many invitations before. And now I'm hooked.

Hooked, damn it!

Help a girl out. Do you have an online/computer game you're addicted to?  Please tell me I'm not alone...

Mar 25, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Stefanie London

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 Laney4

Can you please contact Andi Bolter at to receive your prize.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London.

Everybody’s talking about the hot new app reviewing New York’s most eligible bachelors. But why focus on prince charming when you can read the latest dirt on the lowest-ranked “Bad Bachelors”—NYC’s most notorious bad boys.
If one more person mentions Bad Bachelors to Reed McMahon, someone’s gonna get hurt. A PR whiz, Reed is known as an ‘image fixer’ but his womanizing ways have caught up with him. What he needs is a PR miracle of his own.
When Reed strolls into Darcy Greer’s workplace offering to help save the struggling library, she isn’t buying it. The prickly Brooklynite knows Reed is exactly the kind of guy she should avoid. But the library does need his help. As she reluctantly works with Reed, she realizes there’s more to a man than his reputation. Maybe, just maybe, Bad Bachelor #1 is THE one for her.

Set up... Reed has followed Darcy into a bar, where she's hunting down one of the men from the Bad Bachelors app. Reed isn't impressed by her choice.
There was something about Darcy that caused Reed’s competitive streak to flare up. It prickled under his skin, turning a fleeting thought into a persistent drone. It was the exact reason he’d come into this bar when he’d spotted Darcy by chance. She’d walked in with two friends, laughing and smiling in a way she didn’t around him. Before he’d even given it a second thought, he’d headed into the bar after her, desperate to see more of Darcy in her natural state.
Then he’d seen Five-Star Darren too. He didn’t know the guy personally, but he’d trawled through Bad Bachelors looking at the guys they’d deemed better than him.

So that’s why she was here? To chase some guy who’d likely leave her wanting and unfulfilled?
It was obvious she was attracted to Reed—and not because he believed the drivel he spouted about women wanting him, but because he could see it plain as day.

Yet she fought it at every turn.

Her chest rose and fell in uneven bursts, as though she had to remind herself to continue breathing. Then there was the fidgeting, the hair flipping, and the tightening of that perfect, pouty mouth.

“I bet if I kissed you, that sweet, little mouth would part like the Red Sea.” Satisfaction coursed through him when her nostrils flared. He dipped his head lower, so he could whisper right into her ear. “And I bet your hands would curl into my shirt, so you could hang on for dear life.”

Her breath stuttered in and out. “You don’t affect me, Reed.”


Defiance rolled off her in waves.

“Kiss me then,” she taunted. “You’ll be disappointed with my reaction.”

“I doubt that very much.”

Her eyes widened when she realized he fully intended to prove her wrong. Shifting, he moved his
body over hers, trapping her by planting his palms against the wall, one on either side of her. Caging her in. Sealing off the exits.

“Reed…” Her breath came in ragged bursts, but she didn’t tell him to stop. Instead, she flattened her hands behind her and blinked her long, sooty lashes up at him.

“Darcy.” His lips hovered over hers, their breath mingling in that delicious pre-kiss limbo.

Just as he predicted, her lips parted in that final second, inviting him in. He pressed against her, locking her down with his hips and his mouth. She didn’t kiss like a woman who wasn’t interested. Hell no. 

She kissed like a woman starved. Any pretense of tenderness was crushed when her tongue slid along his, her piercing bumping him in a way that was foreign and exciting. 

He stifled a moan—the combination of metal with the sweet taste of bourbon winding through his system like a drug.

For a chance to win an ebook copy of Bad Bachelor, please share what your "ideal date" would involve in the comments below!
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a new smooch will be posted!

Mar 21, 2018

Musing On Viewing

by Bronwyn Jameson

Lately I've been musing on my changed TV viewing habits, because it seems that sometime (when I wasn't watching) there have been radical changes. What are these changes of which I speak/write/muse?
  1. Nowadays I rarely watch live TV (except sport.)
  2. More often I watch on-demand TV, sometimes on my computer, sometimes cast to TV.
  3. I sometimes use Netflix to binge watch a mini-series.
  4. My movie watching these days is 95% in theatres or on planes, not on TV or subscription/streaming services. 
I’m not sure when all this happened exactly. I wasn't an early-adopter of streaming services. I am basically old skool (aka a Baby Boomer.)  It’s likely been a gradual shift over several -- or many -- years. It could be linked to the quality of mini-series being made for TV and streaming services these days. Aside from the quality of acting, story-telling and production, I love the limited length. I know going in how many hours/episodes I’m committing to and that the storyline will be resolved.  Usually.

In the last year I’ve obsessively watched:
  • The Crown
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Godless
  • The Sinner
  • The Fall
And recently I’ve binge-watched the first two series of Fargo and season 2 of UnReal before starting on the latest/last series of The Bridge. Some of these are quite (!) dark and I have to take care not to watch right before bed or *nightmares*.  Diving into my Kindle for some therapeutic romance reading before closing my eyes helps.

Have your viewing habits/preferences changed with the advent of subscription and streaming services? Are you a fellow devotee of the limited-length mini-series and — most importantly — do you have any recommendations?

Mar 19, 2018

Slowing Down with Stefanie London

My husband and I have a long-standing joke about my "plate." My plate is my time, energy and headspace and the things on my plate represent how I chose to spend those things. Like a real plate with food on it, the mental plate needs to have a balance of things in order to be healthy. Work, family time, personal time, hobbies all need to be put onto the plate in a good ratio to keep us happy and fulfilled.

Sadly, my plate has been out-of-whack for some time. That's the thing about having a job that you love more than any other thing you've ever loved to do: it's easy to work yourself into the group. Long hours, late nights, weekends, sacrificing social occasions and time with loved ones.

The hardest thing of all, is that my brain won't switch off even when I have stepped away from my computer. I think about my stories all the time. I think my characters and the worlds I've created all the time. And writing books and meeting my deadlines is one piece of the publishing pie, there's all the promo, admin, editing etc. that goes along with it.

I used to joke with my husband when he said I had too many things on my plate that I would simply "find a bigger plate."

But there's only so much one can give up before work becomes the only thing getting focus in life. As much as I adore writing and I would not give up this career for anything, I've realized that a bigger plate is just not available to me. My body and mind are craving the things I'd given up, craving a healthy balance.

So this is why I'm going to become a Lovecat in the wild. The need to carve out more time for myself unfortunately had to come from somewhere. But I want to take this opportunity to thank the Lovecats for taking me on back in 2014 when I was green and new and so wide-eyed. The support I've received from the wonderful ladies here is something I'll be eternally grateful for.

Thanks also to all the readers of the Lovecats blog! The community here is so warm and welcoming, you're all fantastic. I have one more post to go live after this (my Sunday Smooch for Bad Bachelor) and after that you'll be able to find me on my website and via any of my Newsletter and Facebook page.

Thanks for making me feel like part of the family x

Mar 18, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Andrea Bolter

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Andrea Bolter but first... 

The winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Quinn Fforde

Congratulations, Quinn! Can you please contact amy (at) amyandews (dot) com (dot) au to receive your prize.

 And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Her Las Vegas Wedding.

From a convenient fiancé …To an inconvenient attraction!

When hotel heiress Audrey Girard’s safe, convenient wedding to a business partner is called off, she’d left to contend with her ex-fiancé’s brother – wild, brooding chef Shane Murphy. And there’s certainly nothing safe about Audrey’s attraction to Shane – every day they work together is even more dangerously tempting! Could there be a Las Vegas wedding in the cards after all?

     He came around to her side of the car and helped her out. There were no other cars anywhere. They were miles away from town under the sunset and the hush of nightfall.
     With no warning whatsoever, Shane rested one hand on each of Audrey’s shoulders. He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. His mouth pressed against hers in a closed-mouth but adamant kiss.
     Her neck flushed instantly. Having him close to her was a little bit familiar now after their bodies had writhed together with their sexy dancing at Big Top. But he hadn’t kissed her that night, and this new intimacy was an alarm to her system.
     A shock that she missed with all of her might when he took his lips away. Her lungs ceased functioning. They were furious at him for having taken his lips from her. All she could seem to want was for him to kiss her again. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out, she reminded herself of the basic breathing process.
     “Come here,” he said, filling her with the hope that his mouth would graze hers again. Her eyelids fluttered uncontrollably.
     But no. He lifted her up and sat her on the hood of his jeep. Then hoisted himself onto it as well. He maneuvered backward so that he could lean back against the glass of the windshield with his legs outstretched on the hood. Then he helped shimmy Audrey backwards so that she could do the same.
     She somehow didn’t care that she was wearing a business dress and heels. His spontaneity was liberating.
     Now they were able to continue to watch nature’s spectacle with a warm breeze gliding across their faces.
     Audrey had to settle herself down. He’d obviously kissed her by mistake. Out of some kind of urge that probably had nothing to do with her. She shouldn’t read anything into it.
     Maybe sensing Audrey’s discomfort, Shane thankfully broke the quiet. “What was Josefina saying to you about tragedies?”
     Audrey creased her brow, not sure what or how much was appropriate to tell Shane. “I told her that my mother had died three years ago. Josefina thought that loss was a similarity to share.”
     Shane chuckled wistfully, “Does it work that way?”
     Audrey shook her head. “I was wondering the same thing.”
     They took in the majesty of the sunset again. The sides of their bodies pressed into each other.
      Then Shane turned himself until he was facing her.
     “So soft,” he murmured as he dotted kisses all over her face.
     His beard stubble felt exactly as she imagined it would, rasping across her cheeks with a welcome harshness. Filling her with the need for contact that was wholly male, wholly biological. Something that she’d dared not think of in years.
     When his mouth inched down her neck, her head fell backward.
     With a flattened palm, he caressed the length of her throat from behind her ear to the swerve of her shoulder. His lips moved under the collar of her dress. In a beat, her back arched to meet him.
     Flowering with anticipation, her parted lips waited for him to return upward. As if he knew she couldn’t delay a moment longer, his open mouth rejoined hers. A quick succession of kisses was followed by a longer one that melded them into each other.
     Her arms reached around his neck. His mouth possessed hers, communicating what she had to hear. She met his every sensation, the kisses swirling deeper, further, quaking both of them at their epicenters.
     “What are we doing?” she muttered, with no idea of the answer to the question.
     He whispered, “Sharing loss.”


To go into the draw to win a copy of Her Las Vegas Wedding just leave a comment. Question: I'm drawn to stories about powerful yet damaged men. I'm fascinated by the man who rises to success even though demons haunt him in the quiet moments. Do you like that kind of hero in a story? Why?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Mar 16, 2018

Reunion stories.....


Helen here...

I was talking with a work colleague the other day about our favorite books and movies and mid way through the conversation she said - "So, you like movies where they used to know each other, but now hate each other for some reason or another, meet up again, realize they still want one another, get through all the history and baggage from their past and then get back together?"

I thought about that for a moment and replied, yes, I guess I do.

One of my favorite stories (and favorite Austen) is Persuasion...I always thought that Captain Wentworth was waaaay more tortured and adorable in his stoic, unforgiving way that everyone's perennial favorite, Mr. Darcy. And even though I think Ann was a ninny for letting him go in the first place, I love how she clearly still loves him ALL the way through. (I like every movie, TV version of this book, but particularly the BBC version with Kieran Hinds as Wentworth) Although I do like also Rupert Penry Jones and Sally Hawkins in the 2007 movie.

And what about John McLane fighting bad guys for two hours to save the life of his estranged wife Holly, in Die Hard? Sigh. I love that torchy and wounded (both emotionally and physically - who can forget the scene with the glass and his bare feet)  

And Sweet Home Alabama...I love the part where Melanie (Reese Witherspoon) tells everyone at her wedding to McDreamy (yeah, that guy from Grey's Anatomy) that she can't marry him because she gave her heart away a long time ago, and never really got it back. liquid silk to a romance authors ears.

But, even though I LOVE reunion stories, I've never really written one, until now. I'm delighted to have a new release in April from Harlequin Special Edition, titled A Kiss, a Dance & a Diamond. It's my fourteenth book for Harlequin, but my first 'real' reunion story. (And my hero's name is Kieran as a kind of tribute to Mr. Hinds in Persuasion)

Do you have a favorite reunion story?

Or maybe you prefer friends to lovers? Or love at first sight?

Leave a comment here of on the LoveCats Facebook page, and I will choose a winner to receive either a print or eCopy of A Kiss, a Dance & a Diamond.

Mar 14, 2018

Fun facts

I suspect most of you will know that I have a new release out this month, but for those of you who don’t…I have a new release out this month! And this is ALWAYS exciting. So in honour of its release, I thought I’d share some fun facts about A BABY IN HIS IN-TRAY.

Fun Fact #1: The inspiration for A Baby in His In-Tray came when I was idly playing the “mash-up tropes” game. You know the one—what would I get if I mashed a Cinderella story with best-friends-to-lovers? What would I get if I mashed a fish-out-of-water story with a marriage-of-convenience? When I mashed-up a twin-swap story with a doorstep baby, A Baby in His In-Tray was born. :-)

Fun Fact #2: Originally the title was A Baby in Her In-Tray. However, when I mentioned the likely title to a few people, much humour was had at my poor heroine’s expense (“In-tray, huh? Is that what they’re calling it these days?”; “At least it wasn’t her in-box”, somebody muttered something about pigeon holes). My editor and I agreed to change Her to His. Who knew one little word could make such a difference. ;-)

Fun Fact #3: If you have a look at pages 10 and 11 of the American edition (the one with the balloons on the cover), you’ll find that they’ve been accidentally reversed. Oops! 

Fun Fact #4: The theme song for this story was Sophie B Hawkins Damn I wish I Was Your Lover. Every time I hear that song I’m transported to the wistfulness, secret longings and cravings that hold Liv and Seb in thrall.

Fun Fact #5: There’s a line of poetry in the book from Byron’s The Destruction of the Sennacherib—The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.... It’s an amazingly powerful poem, and I stole it from one of my favourite movies (Fever Pitch) uttered by one of my favourite actors (Colin Firth). If you’d like to read the full poem click here: The Destruction of Sennacherib

It was such fun to team my grumpy hero with such a mischievous though kind-hearted heroine, and I’ve been thrilled with the reviews it has received. :-) A Baby in His In-Tray is on shelves now. You can grab it at all of the usual places.

Mar 12, 2018

Finding Time for my Addiction

I have a confession. I’m a magazine addict. I don’t have many vices but a weekend Chardonnay and a great magazine are two of them. Apparently Australians are some of the biggest consumers of magazines in the world. I certainly help with that statistic.

The trouble is I buy them and never have the time to read them. There is always something else more important or urgent to do than sit in by the window in a comfy chair reading a lovely magazine. As I write this, newly purchased issues of House & Garden and Mindfood are taunting me. Read me. Read me. Read me now.

I love that first pass through a magazine when the pages are new and the contents yet to be discovered. Then taking my time on the second pass to read what takes my fancy.

So how do you find time for these little moments of leisure when life is so packed?  After reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before, which is all about mastering habits, I now have the solution. I schedule in my magazine reading time and other fun stuff. There’s always more work to do, more writing to accomplish, more preparing for uni lecturing or tutoring or more issues to solve as Chair of the Byron Writers Festival, so with my fun schedule, I get time for non-work things.

I’ve mentioned this scheduling of fun time to friends and some are horrified. “What!,” they exclaim. “Surely having to schedule time for fun is counterintuitive and a little bit sad.”   After trialing this method for a few weeks, I completely disagree. I’ve had more free time than I’ve had in months.

So what do you think? Is scheduling the fun times a great way to ensure you get to do things you enjoy or something else entirely (ie just a little bit sad)?