May 28, 2018

Home Alone with Clare Connelly

My husband went away for a conference this week, leaving me home alone (with our two young kids). At the risk of sounding like a terrible and unloving wife, can I tell you something? 

I *LOVED* it! 

Don’t get me wrong, I missed him, and the house felt quiet and eerie without another adult to chat to, and I was, naturally, very pleased to collect him from the airport Saturday night. BUT....... I took the opportunity to have some down time and really pamper myself with early nights, easy dinners (avocado on toast three nights in a row!), lots of books and rom coms. I listened to Britney Spears, Hanson, and hogged the middle of our king-size bed. Our mornings were slower too! Even though we had to do the school run, it all seemed to go more smoothly without another adult clogging up the bathroom – ha! 

I remember reading somewhere that Paul and Linda McCartney never spent a single night of their marriage apart, and once upon a time, I thought that sounded amazing. A sure-fire sign of everlasting love. 

Now? I’m not so convinced. I mean, that might have been perfect for them, but I’ve had my eyes opened to how refreshing it can be to have a little single-time! 

There’s something so incredibly luxurious about being left to your own devices for a few nights – in your own home. Watch what you want, eat what you will, drink as much tea as you can... and don’t make the bed for days!

What about you? What’s your special single-life behavior that you indulge whenever you get the opportunity? 

May 27, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Sue Mackay

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Sue Mackay but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Laurie! Congratulations, Laurie.

Can you please contact Clare: clareconnelly (at ) outlook (dot) com to receive your copy of Burn Me Once.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Sue Mackay's
Baby Miracle in the ER.

Will love pass them by again?
Or can a baby give them a second chance?
When her ex, sexy doc Michael Laing, revealed he didn't do commitment, it broke paramedic Steph's heart. Two years later she's back in town and thinks she's moved on - until she meets Michael in the ER and their chemistry is as hot as ever! Both are wary of getting burned again, but a little miracle is about to bind them together for ever...

That first kiss ...
They're having a take away meal together at Michael's house discussing Steph's career change from nurse to paramedic.

Stephanie pushed her near empty plate across the counter to the sink. ‘In Queenstown I did a couple of stints on a rescue helicopter when they were short-staffed.’ She sipped her wine. ‘I got a taste for the adventure—the thrill and the scary stuff. And then, while I was in London, an opportunity came up to do three months on the ambulances and I figured I might as well give it a go.’

When the silence spread out too long he coaxed her. ‘There’s more to it, Steph.’

Her eyes widened. ‘Caught!’ Her forefinger drew circles on the countertop. ‘When I decided to return home I didn’t want to slip back into the same groove I was in before I left. I didn’t want to find that after a few months the two years I’d been away were smothered and that despite my experiences away from Auckland nothing had changed. I hadn’t changed.’

That made sense. But what was behind it all? Infertility and a broken marriage would do it. And it had him on the back foot, afraid of hurting her again. Everyone he was close to he hurt eventually. Stephanie had had enough to contend with. It was time for her to have fun and laughter and love—things he couldn’t trust himself to deliver.

During those two intense weeks they’d had together he’d have sworn she was well on the road to recovery. And yet that dreadful sadness knocking her off her toes yesterday showed she still ached over the past.

‘So you’re home for good?’ He didn’t know why, but he needed to know.

She nodded emphatically. ‘Definitely. I loved travelling, and working in different places, but I’m a home body. This is where I know myself.’

His eyes drank in the sight of that body as she sat on a high stool opposite him, her elbows on the counter, her hands holding her glass. Curves, hand-sized breasts, that pert bottom… His groin tightened as her tongue licked her lips. It hadn’t been getting much exercise for a long time.

Honey teased his senses again. Was it her shampoo? What else could it be?

Honey was one of his favourite things—liquid gold on hot toast and melted butter. His mother’s treat when he was little.

His upper body leaned in so Stephanie was close enough for him to feel her heat. Honey. His mouth watered. Then dried as her tongue repeated that licking thing. Did she know she was doing that? How the hell was he supposed to turn away when his groin was thick with need?

His hand was on her upper arm, tugging her gently closer, so her body was lined up against his. His other hand raised her chin so he could dive into those enormous toffee-coloured eyes.

‘Stephanie…’ he whispered, and stood up, bringing her with him.

Her body tightened and she waited, holding her breath. Then, ‘Michael…’

And she sank into him, her sweet mouth accepting his, opening for his exploring tongue. Giving him a kiss like those she’d given him two years ago. Hot, demanding, giving. All Steph.


The air closed in around them, held them in a bubble. The world had reduced to just them. How long they stood there, their bodies locked together, their kiss endless, he did not know. He could have stayed for ever—until kisses weren’t enough.

His hand found hers, grasped it to pull her along to his bedroom. ‘Come with me.’

He was all but begging. Would beg if he had to.

Her fingers laced through his. ‘Michael…’

Have you ever changed careers? Gone for something more exciting?
Come back next week to see if you've won a copy of Baby Miracle in the ER.

May 23, 2018

Never on my own - Kandy Shepherd

Writing is a solitary occupation. While we authors come out to play at conferences and book launches and library talks, much of our time is spent sitting behind a computer. For hours and hours and hours we sit there, lost in creating the imaginary worlds and the imaginary people of our stories. On our own.

I’m not the kind of writer who can work in the midst of chaos. I’m also very easily distracted by other people. As deadline approaches—and I always seem to be on a frantic last-minute rush to meet it as I’m a procrastinator, but that’s a different story—my family know I need my space. Luckily, I have a room where I can close the door. I don’t want noise either. No music, just quiet. Which is why I am so often writing late at night and into the early hours of the morning.

Alfie in his favourite box - right near my desk

However, while I’m locked away in my writing cave, I’m not really alone.

Sweet Ivy always likes to be nearby

Always, with four cats, I have feline company of some kind. I haven’t shared photos of my pets for a while so here are my companions who keep me company of the quiet, uncritical kind. 

Our darling Tabitha is 18 now, and has kept me company through lots of books

That is, unless one is hungry or wants to play, or wants to go in and out the door. No need for me to set an alarm to make sure I get up and walk around at regular intervals. There is always a cat who wants in or out of a door!

Darling Cindy, my other old girl probably about 17

P.S. While I’m outside gardening at my little farm, I have not only cats but chickens for company and usually horses hanging around nearby too. But I really had to laugh at the sight of my husband weeding with one of our two pet steers, Squirt and Thimble, keeping him company. 

Thimble helping out with the gardening

The bullies are a miniature breed called Dexters but they’re not exactly tiny! This is Thimble.

Do you have an animal companion of some kind that keeps you company while you work? I’d love to read about it in the comments!

May 20, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch  from Clare Connelly but first we have the winner from Avril Tremayne's steamy smooch last week to announce!

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Fedora. Please contact Avril Tremayne to receive your e-copy of Kiss Don't Tell.

And now for this week's Smooch, from Clare Connelly's latest release, BURN ME ONCE.  

The story…
Ally Douglas has made a deal with Ethan Ash: just sex, no strings, no forever. All she knows about him is that he’s a world-famous rock star and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Their sexual chemistry is instant and magnetic, and this arrangement satisfies their needs. Only now that Ethan has started to break the rules, will Ally be able to stop herself from getting burned?

The setup... 

Ally and Ethan have been involved in a super-sexy affair for a little while now, but Ally is doing her best to keep Ethan at arm's length. She's already been burned in love and is looking for some no-strings attached fun. So when Ethan (who's a world-famous rockstar) has a concert to perform at, Ally elects to stay in his luxurious hotel room, proving that she's independent and not at all swept up in his superstar lifestyle! Only she spends much of the evening checking twitter for the #EthanAsh hashtag...

And finally the concert is over.
It can’t be long now, right?
How long?
I stare at my phone, contemplate messaging him but decide not to. Iknow that I’m desperate to see him; hedoesn’t need to.
It’s almost an hour later when I hear noises outside the hotel room. And with the moment upon me I am nervous suddenly! I stand up uneasily, running my hands down the front of my lingerie, my eyes fixed to the door. I fan my hair from my face quickly, just to give it body, and then I wait.
Just seconds.
But long enough for my heart to flutter and my stomach to twist and my brow to sweat and my mouth to dry out.
I wait, and I stare, and finally he pushes the door inwards.
I’m not sure what I’m expecting. For him to step inside, shut the door, and look around?
He doesn’t. He opens the door and looks right at me. As though he knew exactly where I’d be, exactly how I’d be standing, waiting. Our eyes lock and time ceases to exist. There is a void. A black hole with just us at its cosmic heart.
Who moves first? I can’t say. I know only that we are both moving, and we are both urgent, our arms wrapping around one another, our mouths seeking, our bodies melding. His shirt is wet with perspiration. I wrap my arms around him and seek his mouth. I kiss him and he kisses me, pushing me through the room while his hands roam my back.
I grip his shirt, lifting it, finding his beautiful flesh, his chest, and I drop kisses along the ridge of his neck, down to his pecs. I taste his salty perfection and he laughs, lifting his hands to my wrists and holding me still, holding me back.
My eyes fly to his; hunger must be visible in them. It is almost burning me alive.
‘Not like this.’
‘Like what?’
‘I need to shower. I’m all sweaty.’
I laugh. ‘I don’t care.’ I push his pants down, finding his ass and cupping it in the palms of my hands.
He swears, fisting my hair and pressing his forehead to mine. His eyes are shut, his face scrunched up.
Christ, Alicia.’
‘Shower later.’
I tilt my head, chasing his lips with mine, kissing him, inviting him. Begging him... 

To win a paperback copy of BURN ME ONCE, tell me about your most life-changing concert experience? For me, it was seeing Paul McCartney live in London back in 2006 - he was *amazing*. How about you?

May 18, 2018

To Prince or Not to Prince......

So, the Royal Wedding is planned for tomorrow and not doubt there will be millions of eyes glued to the TV or phone or some other electronic device as it is streamed live...

There appears to be two camps...lovers and loathers.

I'm probably somewhere in the middle. I've never really cared one way or another, since I'm something of a horse enthusiast and a tom-boy, more interested in jeans and T-shirt that dresses and tiaras. I've never quite understood the reverence given to royalty or celebrities, and have never gone ga-ga over movie stars. So not loathing. just a kind of indifference I'm sure is shared by others. Which means I won't be switching the TV onto Megs & Harry's big day tomorrow, although I'm sure I will spot snippets through various media forms.

However, it occurred to me that I do like the occasional royal romance movie.

Of course, the Princess Diaries.....
I love the nerdy Ann Hathaway and of course, Julie Andrews (who will always be Maria Von Trapp to me)

Ever After....
Once of my favorite tellings of Cinderella.....

The Princess Bride....
No royal movie list would be complete without this classic tale.....

And my favorite!
Roman Holiday.....
I love the chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck....

Do you have a favorite royal movie?

And will you be watching tomorrow's big event?

May 16, 2018

Anyone for a Picnic?

by Bronwyn Jameson

I’ve been trying to not get TOO diverted by the upcoming royal wedding.  I’m skimming the news feeds, noting the headlines, while avoiding the scuttlebutt on who’s invited, who’s not coming and why, who is likely to embarrass whom, who designed The Dress, etc etc.  

(a)  because I am easily distracted and could spend hour after hour following every detail
(b)  because I get all kinds of irate with the tabloid take on such details.  I’m sure I’m not alone here.

However, one headline earlier this week did entice me to read on. Harry and Meghan have invited some 2,500 ordinary folk to the grounds of Windsor Castle on Saturday so the public will feel part of the celebrations.  The crowd will include members of the royal households, favoured charities, local schools and 1,200 members of the public "from every corner" of the UK and "from a broad range of backgrounds and ages".  

They will watch the arrivals and the departure procession and in between times…well, they’ve been encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.  Apparently there have been some complaints about the lack of catering but let’s not go there. I do not want to imagine a line of fast-food trucks setting up on the castle lawns.  No, I want to imagine proper picnicking in the grounds of Windsor Castle. 

I do love a picnic.  Whether that be a simple sandwich in the sunshine or fish and chips by the beach or a properly planned and prepared, multi-course picnic basket matched for the location and special occasion.  If that location/occasion happened to be a royal wedding in castle gardens then I would go all out with an exceedingly posh picnic basket … or, let’s assume money is no object, why not order one fully prepared?  

This, from Fortnum and Mason, would hit the spot.

The Ultimate Banquet Picnic

What about you?  Do you love a picnic?  What would you pack for a royal wedding picnic?

May 14, 2018

Mother’s Day Daughter Style

Ah Mother’s Day. I’m not a big fan of the obviously commercialised days, but hey, I’m very happy to celebrate Mother’s Day.

My husband was away for the day, so my daughter took charge. First, a lovely Sea Mist and Coco Flower candle was presented to me in bed. Then I was rustled up for a walk up to the Byron Lighthouse in the gorgeous sunshine. The water was so clear, we could see around 50 dolphins riding the waves from our perch on the cliff above.

Breakfast next at one of our favourite cafés. I have been craving pancakes forever, so I indulged, as there are no calories on Mother’s Day.

Unfortunately I had to throw down a couple of hours work marking university papers, but then back to Mother’s Day schedule with a walk down our road to ‘our view’ as the sun was slipping. We collected pinecones on the way home and lit a roaring fire – the first of the season.

As I write this I’m digesting the most lovely meal. Pan-seared salmon accompanied by Asian salad and rice – all cooked by my little one who is now cleaning up the kitchen so I can write this.

Have to say, it’s been lovely. Shame we don’t celebrate Mother’s Day once a month. I could get used to this.

Anyone else have a great day yesterday?

May 13, 2018

Sunday Smooch with guest-cat Avril Tremayne

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

But first, we wanted to wish everyone a special Mother's Day. It can be a tough day for those who've lost their beautiful mothers, and you're in our thoughts, as is everyone who's marking this day. We hope you fill it with loved ones, and make some great new memories - or look back on old ones that warm your heart.

Today we have a smooch  from a guest LoveCat - the awesome, RuBy winning, Rita-nominated Avril Tremayne but first we have two smooch winners to announce!

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Laney4. Can you please contact Helen Lacey to receive your Kindle copy of THE CHILD BETWEEN THEM. 

And the winner of Clare Connelly's last Sunday Smooch (a signed paperback of HER WEDDING NIGHT SURRENDER) is Mary Preston! Mary, can you please email Clare with your postal address?

And now, here's Avril! *round of applause* *much excitement*...
Authors generally don’t like identifying their favourite book…but I’m not one of them! I knew The Dating Game was special the moment I started writing it, because the story immediately flew out of my head and onto the page. I laughed, cried, sighed, gasped and shivered all the way through, and at the end I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written. I’ve never been more desperate to have a book published – and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy because it was book 2 in a series, and the first book, Kiss Don’t Tell, had already had twotraditional outings. (Let me tell you, it’s not easy to sell a previously published book to a publishing house, but I prevailed!) Vindication came when The Dating Gamebecame a 2018 RITA finalist.
The story…
Swoon-worthy artist David takes one look at pixie-sized PR manager Sarah and knows he needs to paint her. Problem is, Sarah’s best friend Lane has already called dibs on him and Sarah’s brother Adam (who’s in love with Lane) sees him as the enemy. A tricky situation, but Sarah figures if anyone can tell her why her dating life is so abysmal it’s him, so she does a business-only deal with him: a portrait in exchange for dating advice. Alas, things go off the rails from her first ‘test date’ with a colleague of David’s when the post-date critique session leads to a kiss comparison …

As David stared down into Sarah’s big blue eyes, common sense nudged at his frontal lobe, telling him he was making a mistake. But it was no match for the roar of blood in his veins urging him to prove he was nothing like that anaemic fedora-wearing fucker Craig.
David had the moves, he had the technique, and he had the control to employ both with clinical accuracy. He could get a woman halfway to orgasm from one kiss if he chose to. And at that moment, he chose to, goddammit.
He wrapped his hands around Sarah’s upper arms, and the frailty of her, the ease with which he could circle her arms with a hand apiece, sent the warning whispering through his head again: mistake. For a split-second he hesitated—but then Sarah swayed towards him, her eyelids fluttered closed … and taking her mouth became his sole focus. Her breath hitched, and he fucking lovedthat sound, the vulnerable anticipation of it. When her teeth bit and released her bottom lip, it was the final trigger; he might slow things down, but he wasn’t going to stop.
He drew her in so their chests were just touching, just—God, the torture—and put his mouth on hers for a long, long moment as he absorbed the feeling of having her there. Half of him wanted to slam her against his body and go for broke—the crazy half. The other half, the part of him that was still sane, was scared he’d hurt her if he let himself lose it; she was so damn small.
So he reined himself in hard, comforting himself with the knowledge that there was no need to rush, that it would go further when the time was right, that he could take the time to savour this first real taste of her. He rubbed his mouth softly, inexorably, against hers, waiting for a sign that she was ready for him to go deeper.
It came, the sign, almost immediately. A soft hum that had her lips puffing open. David sucked her top lip into his mouth, using lips and teeth and tongue to explore and taste. She moved impatiently against him, trying to get closer than he would allow, nudging her mouth against his, urging him on, urging him … in? Yes, in. Ahhh, God, yes. He wanted in. In the next second, his tongue was inside her mouth, licking deep and sure, and she was curling her own tongue around his, and it was thrilling the hell out of him. Harsh breaths mingling, bodies twisting, her hands gripping the sides of his T-shirt in greedy fistfuls.
In the midst of it all, he became aware of her thigh sliding up his own, like she was climbing him. Climbing, Jesus God! Well, he could help her with that. He pulled her closer, plastering her against him at last, keeping her right there as he battled to control himself … But it was a lost cause; he was going to explode if he didn’t get her edged into a more strategic position. He slid his arms around her, held her closer still, closer dammit, for a red-hot minute, then slid his hands down to grip her bottom. He lifted her against him until the juncture of her thighs was right there, where he needed it, where he was aching, throbbing for her.
Her hands were in his hair now. He wanted to rip the dress off her, tumble her to the couch, shove himself so deep inside her she’d never forget it. He hitched her again, rubbed against her to the point of lunacy, took a hurried step towards the couch. He was going to have her, take her, right now.

Avril is giving away an e-book copy of Kiss Don't Tell, the first book in this captivating series. To be in the draw to win, answer this question: Have you ever had dating advice from a friend? Did it steer you right or wrong? 

May 11, 2018

Making the Most of Time

Have you ever found yourself stuck unable to just do the things you usually do?
Six weeks ago I had a hip upgrade- I call it that because the new one's a darned sight better than the old sucker. Everything went well and I did some research in hospital for future books. I mean, what else was I supposed to do when I only had exercises and learning to navigate on crutches to do? And read and do crosswords.

Then I went home. And that's where the fun started.

I read. Thank goodness for the tablet.

I watched my favourite crime investigation channel - for hours and hours.

I cross stitched, finally finishing Santa after more than two years and 71,100 stitches.

I walked and exercised.

I navigated the kitchen and baked chocolate zucchini cakes to use up the excess zucs. And overcooked some of them.

And I worked on my new book. I also sold the latest one - ER Doctor's Forever Gift.

But it all drove me nuts. I'm not good at being confined. Which means I drove my DB crazy too. Probably why he insist (not very hard) we celebrate with champagne last night since I got the all clear yesterday - life has returned to normal.
My family and friends. Love 'em to bits but I've learned they can be so bossy. Don't walk on the gravel, don't dry the dishes, don't go so fast. Grrrr. Actually, don't dry the dishes was okay.
And I have never met so many doctors as I have in the past six weeks, and I worked in the medical world. Someone would tell me what I could do and we'd have a darn good laugh and I'd carry on as my consultant told me to.
But seriously, I appreciate how special these people are and they can tell me what to do as much as they like. I will continue to ignore them and we'll still always be close.

How have you coped when confined to barracks? Or what do you think you'd do if this happened?

May 9, 2018

The Dressing Room list...

  I was watching something on  TV the other night (only half watching so I can't even remember the name of the show), when celebrity dressing room lists were know the ones I mean, right? One of those lists of must-haves that a celebrity demands for for their dressing room prior to a show or concert. On the program I was watching a woman who used to work as a floor manager for a TV network had to remove all the red M&Ms from the provided bowl for a celebrity interviewee.

It made me roll my eyes. What a prima donna right? Remove your own red M&Ms, you spoiled brat!


It made the childish part of me chortle in glee, and wonder what outrageousness I could get away with.

Of course I then had to create my own dressing room list for, you know, when I'm famous. ;-)  This is what I came up with:

  • Champagne: every diva needs a bottle of French bubbles to carry off the right attitude!
  • Feather boa: every diva needs a feather boa to carry off the right attitude too, right?
  • Pizza: don't worry, the weight of my outrageous ego will help me burn the calories
  • Donuts: simply because life is better with donuts
  • A large vase of orange roses: obviously red roses are too predictable ;-)
  • A masseur: as I'm going to be stressed making sure all of my demands have been met, a massage will help me relax
  • A comfy lounge: this diva is going to need somewhere to stretch her precious limbs
  • An iPod loaded with ABBA songs: because ABBA songs are the best (and don't forget the iPod dock, wiseguy, or your boss will hear about it) ;-)

You have to play along now too, of course! What outrageous demands would you make if you were a diva celebrity? 

May 7, 2018

Big Day (And Night) in Romance

Some of you may already know, but on Saturday the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) had a BIG day out.

I had the pleasure of attending a Romantic High Tea as a special guest, along with good friends and too-fabulous authors, Kandy Shepherd and Avril Tremayne.

To say it was a lovely afternoon would be an understatement. The food was quite delicious at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, but the conversation was even better. You know when you sit down with romance readers you're going to have a fun time. You never know what will pop up in the conversation!

We had a few hours between the High Tea and what was coming that night - the ARR Awards! So obviously that was spent in the bar chatting with other authors who were coming in from all corners of the country for this event.

To put it into perspective, these awards are for the Favourite books from the preceding calendar year, as voted by Australian readers. Readers vote as they go, supplying their reading list to ARRA, with points, and this goes towards compiling a list of finalists for a final round vote. These titles must be published within that calendar year, and are not restricted or limited to Australian romance authors - although it is so humbling and pleasing and pride-inducing to see there ARE so many Aussie (and NZ) authors who feature in the finalists lists.

Admittedly, I've always viewed these awards as very special, as its READERS who suggest the books they've really enjoyed, and then vote on at the end. To get your book on the list in the very first place is an achievement in and of itself. And yes, when finalist authors in those categories say 'we're just happy to be nominated', we really mean it, because we know how this contest works, and it really is of huge import to us that readers cared enough about our books to include us.

I was nominated in two categories, one of which was Favourite Australian Romance Author. Well, that nomination totally blew me away, and I'm so grateful that readers put my name forward for it. This is a category where you have the mavens of Australian romance (yes, I do sound like I've got tickets on myself, don't I, but this is why I was so stunned to be included for the first time, this year). Historical romance author, Anne Gracie, won (along with her slew of other awards), and you must check out her Merridew Sisters and her Chance Sisters books to get an idea of why she keeps winning awards...

For me though, the biggest surprise was winning the Favourite Romantic Suspense Award for my novel, Heart Breaker.

See. That expression is shock. It was such a strong category (OMG, again I sound like I love myself sick), with some really great books, and I always have a plan for this event: Tackle the person who wins the award at the end of the night. I already had my strategy mapped out for each potential winner, but yet reluctantly because they're also really beautiful, lovely ladies. Alas, I didn't actually have a strategy if I WON, and I've discovered I suck at thank you speeches on the fly... Anyway, the other authors in this category are very, very talented, so you should definitely go check out their books. Pay close attention to Amanda Knight and her debut novel, Situation Critical. Amanda won Favourite New Author, and was nominated in FOUR categories, so she is an author star on the rise.

From L to R: Shannon Curtis, Keri Arthur, Anne Grace, Kelly HunterARR Award Winners
It was a fantastic evening, and I wanted to send a shoutout to the ARRA organisers. This event is at least a year long in the making, with collecting and collating scores and titles, and then opening up for votes, tallying, etc, and the organising of the night itself. It truly is humbling to see all that hard work in the name of the romance genre. I also wanted to say thank you so much to the readers for buying our books, reading them, commenting on them, voting for them, and also for turning up on the night, we LOVE meeting you all and talking books.

Thank you also to the sponsors - Booktopia, Harlequin Australia, Hachette Australia and Allen & Unwin - it is such a special night. I treasure my new shelf buddy.

May 6, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Helen Lacey

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Child Between Them by Helen Lacey ......

The Men of Mulhany Crossing....

The Child Between Them

Reclusive widower Marshall Harris has tried to ignore the always smiling Holly Berrigan for six long months, even though she has a way of getting his attention. But he has no intention of replacing the wife he'd loved and lost. Until everything changes—after one incredible night in her bed, Holly is having his baby! Now Marshall is facing fatherhood and a second chance at love. But only if he has the courage to take it.

Holly has been in love with the seriously sexy saddle-maker since the moment they met. But she’s no fool. His heart belongs to another woman and she can’t compete with a ghost. But now there’s a baby on the way…and that changes everything!

Scene set-up ( Holly is spending time at Marshall's farm as they struggle to get to know each other, to try and form a truce and work out a way to co-parent the child they have coming. They are in the living, sitting together, looking through some old photograph albums that she has asked to see )

Smooch  -

Holly went through the pages slowly, asking questions, learning more about him as each page was turned. He told her about the farm, his grandparents and parents, his younger sister. There were pictures of him with his friends, with his horses, with him lounging against the side of his truck when he was a teenager, his hair longer and tousled. There was a lovely shot of him with Lynette, his arm draped companionably over her shoulder. They were young, probably around eighteen, and she was looking up at him and laughing.

Holly’s insides tightened and glanced sideways, trying to gauge his thoughts. But his profile was steady and reserved. “Do you have a wedding album?” she asked quietly.

His head jerked. “I don’t think—”

       “Please,” she said quickly, cutting him off and placing a hand on the album. “I’d like to see.”

 He took a moment, but eventually grabbed the album from the bottom of the pile. He opened the book slowly and she noticed he swallowed hard as the first few pages were exposed. The invitation. A pressed flower. Mementos of what was obviously the most important day of his life. Holly took a breath and eased the album half onto her leg. Their knees touched, and a jolt of electricity raced up her thigh and landed in her belly. Holly willed the feeling away, cursing the weakness she felt every time he was close. And as she turned the pages she experienced a range of emotions—sadness, regret, compassion and then, as she knew she would, some envy. The photographs were all filled with love and hope and the promise of dreams and happiness to come. Lynette looked radiant in her simple white gown and a few sprigs of baby’s breath in her hair.

     “It looked like a happy day,” she said quietly.

     “It was,” he said and tugged the album from her hands and then closed it. “We were always happy,” he said and placed the album on the coffee table. “That’s the damnable thing about illness and death, it doesn’t have any prejudice. It takes anyone in its path.”

     Holly sighed and shifted back into the sofa, putting space between them. “Thank you for showing me. “

     “Has it satisfied your curiosity?” he asked, his eyes darkening.

     Holly met his gaze. “About what?”

     “My marriage, my wife,” he said and rested one arm along the back of the sofa. “My life.”

     Holly shrugged. “It’s no secret that you loved her. That you still love her.”

     The room suddenly seemed smaller, the air between them thicker, fueled by a heightened level of awareness. Holly swallowed hard, realizing he’d moved closer to her and that his hand was now curling around her nape.

     “What are you doing?” she demanded.

     “I don’t know,” he said quietly, stroking the back of her neck and urging her toward him. “But Holly, I do know that if I don’t kiss you right now, I’ll go crazy.”


I’ve lost my mind…

     It was all Marshall could think. All he could feel.

     But something snapped inside him and suddenly he had to feel Holly’s mouth against his own. Sitting beside her, inhaling the faint scent of fragrance that had somehow become uniquely hers, of hearing her soft voice ask questions about his family and his life, had fueled his desire for her and all he could think about was having her pressed against him.

     And she came…willingly.

     Marshall wound one arm around her waist and pulled her close until she was half on top of him, her lovely curves pressed against his chest. And he found her lips, kissing her as he’d imagined doing for the past twenty minutes. Her mouth opened and he rolled his tongue around hers, tasting the sweetness of her mouth and lips. He ran one hand along her hip, urging her closer, and he hardened instantly. Only Holly could do that. Only Holly had the power to make him forget everything and everyone and drive him wild with feelings that were a mix of half-desire, half-agony.

     She sighed against his mouth and her hands moved to his shoulders, digging in, clinging to him like she couldn’t get close enough. He tore his mouth from hers and kissed a path along her jaw and to the sensitive spot below her ear and her moan fueled his response. The scent of her was intoxicating. The feel of her was suddenly like a tonic he needed for his very existence. The taste of her was like something that was etched into the core of his being. He wanted her beneath him. Around him. He wanted to be inside her until he wasn’t sure when she began and he ended.

     “Holly,” he muttered at her throat as one hand moved to her breast. He kissed her again, rolling her tongue around his own in an erotic dance that drove him wild. Her nipple sprang to life through the fabric, the peak hard against his thumb and he plundered her mouth, pushing her T-shirt aside as he cupped underneath, feeling the weight within his palm, experiencing such an acute and powerful sense of desire for her in that moment, he could barely take a breath. He’d never known a feeling like this, never been at the mercy of lust and longing like he was with Holly. It terrified him. It enraged him. It humbled him. And created a conflict that made Marshall question everything he was. Everything he believed himself to be. Honest. Upright. A man of morals and integrity. A man who had loved the woman he married and who would have remained faithful to her throughout his life.

     Until Holly.

     Because she was his weakness. His sexual Achilles heel.

            And the reason he knew he would have betrayed his wife.

     He caught a glimpse of the wedding portrait hanging above the fireplace. And then guilt spread through his blood like a wildfire. Before he could question himself, Marshall wrenched his mouth from hers and sucked in an agonizing breath. He gently pushed her away and stumbled to his feet, dragging mouthfuls of air into his lungs.

     She stared up at her, her lips reddened from his kisses, her eyes wide and searching his face for an explanation. “What did I do?”

     Marshall ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing. I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have started anything…”

     She tugged at her T-shirt and adjusted herself. “Then why did you?”

     He shrugged guiltily. “I dunno. I just…I can’t explain it. It doesn’t feel right to start something here. But you were sitting so close and you smell so good and when I’m around you I don’t think straight. I think about—”

     “Getting laid,” she said as she stood, cutting him off. “Yes, I know. I’m quite the temptress. Goodnight, Marshall.”

     “Holly,” he said as she began to walk toward the door. “Don’t be mad with me. It’s better for us both if we don’t get too involved.”

     Her hand automatically rested on her abdomen. “Too late. Just keep your hands to yourself and we won’t have a problem.”

     Annoyance, fueled by the unsated desire still churning through blood, snaked up his spine. His resentment was illogical, but he still felt it. “I won’t touch you again.”

     “Good,” she offered and left the room.

I have written several books about someone getting a second chance at love after losing the person they believed they'd be spending their life with. And I love books and movies where the hero gets a second chance, even if he wasn't sure he wanted one...some of my favorites are, Sarah, Tall & Plain, Suzanne's Diary For Nicolas, Fine Things, Jane Eyre (a stretch since the wife was in the attic, but the idea is the same)

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