Jun 27, 2018

Do you have a beauty secret? – Kandy Shepherd

Recently I was on short break with a friend and her friend, who I hadn’t met before but liked instantly. She was beautifully groomed and I wondered what time she must get up in the morning to appear at breakfast so perfectly made up. One day, after I got to know her better, I asked her.

She laughed as she revealed her secret. All her eye makeup was tattooed on—eyebrows, contoured eyeshadow in soft neutral shades, eyeliner. Her eyelashes were dyed. Her permanent makeup looked fantastic—elegant and subtle. I was so impressed!

But I knew I couldn’t get the cosmetic tattoos myself, much as I admired how she looked. I’d be too chicken in case it got botched (my eyes!), the potential for pain put me off, and I couldn’t afford it. So I continued to look a bleary-eyed mess at breakfast.

In another life, I was a magazine beauty writer and tried lots of different potions and treatments in the name of research. My bathroom cupboard was full of fabulous product samples. I forgot my fear of needles to have temporary dermal filler injections for the “marionette” lines leading down from the corners of my mouth. Wow! It made such a difference. That’s one treatment I would have every six months—it’s only the expense stopping me.

 These days I’m not high maintenance when it comes to beauty treatments. I can’t remember when I last had a facial. I get an occasional mani-pedi. My skincare comes from a discount supermarket and my cosmetics from a reasonably priced brand. (Not that I use much makeup since I became a full-time writer and work from home.) I do, however stay out of the sun, wear a hat and use sunblock every day. That’s meant to be the best anti-ageing treatment of all!

What about you? I have friends (of all ages) who’ve had facelifts, nose jobs, boob jobs, laser, peels, fat freezing, liposuction, Botox, vitamin therapy, eyelash extensions, hair extensions, lip plumping, permanent hair removal, cosmetic dentistry, etc. Others don’t wear makeup at all, wash their face with soap and water, use yogurt, oatmeal, avocado or olive oil to nourish their skin or nothing at all. I say whatever you do/or don’t do that boosts confidence and makes you feel good is an excellent thing!

My indulgence is a really good hairdresser. I always feel confident about my hair because it is cut and coloured well and in good condition. I’d give up a lot before I’d give up visits to my hairdresser. (Waving at her if she’s reading this!)

What’s your indulgence? Or non-indulgence as the case may be!

The heroine of my new release Best Man and the Runaway Bride is a beauty entrepreneur who made her fortune with a cleverly marketed range of skincare and cosmetics!

Best Man and the Runaway Bride is a July release from Harlequin Romance in North America, Mills & Boon True Love in the UK, and Mills & Boon Forever Romance in Australia and New Zealand.

Jun 25, 2018

Series by Amy Andrews

I can't believe book #6 - Val's story - in my rugby series will be out in a couple of weeks. Number freaking six!

Here's the blurb -
Sydney Smoke star recruit Kyle Leighton can’t believe the best sex of his life was just a one-night stand. He didn’t even know her name… Until she shows up at the locker room two weeks later and he connects the dots.

Val King. Oh shit.

Coach has one hard and fast rule: Never, ever date (much less f*ck ten ways to Sunday) his daughter. And not only did Kyle break that rule, but he wants to break it over and over again. In the shower. Against a wall. On every flat surface in his home.

But the coach and his daughter share more than just DNA. Their issues run deep and fooling around with her could widen the family chasm.

And get Kyle benched for life.

So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Flirting with her? Suggesting they date for real and damn the consequences?


Playing Dirty is up for preorder now (if you click on the pic above it'll take you to the Amazon page!)

I'm a huge series fan. Some of my favs over the years (aside from my LoveCat colleagues because that goes without saying!) have been the Stephanie Plum series from Janet Evanovich, Laura Kaye's Hard Ink series, the Tomorrow When The War Began series, the Sidelined series by Ainslie Paton, SEP's Chicago Stars series, the Alex Cross series from James Patterson and Kelly Hunter's West family series.

So, what about you? Are you a series fan? Which have been *your* faves over the years?

 PS - I'm doing this party chat thingy at Night Own Reviews on Monday 25th at 8pm US EST (that's 10am on Tuesday morning here in Oz) if you want to join me. There's three other authors and some prizes! If you go to my FB page -  https://www.facebook.com/AmyAndrewsAuthor/ - you can find out the deets. Plus you could also give it a like if you haven't already 😉  xxxx

Jun 24, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Kandy Shepherd

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from BEST MAN AND THE RUNAWAY BRIDE but first 

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

Can you please contact 
Michelle (at) Michelle - Douglas (dot) com 
to receive your copy of Reunited by a Baby Secret

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Best Man and the Runaway Bride by Kandy Shepherd

Scandal at a society wedding!
Can he resist the runaway bride?

After helping Nikki Lucas flee her high-society wedding, privacy-loving best man Max Conway never expected to be accused of having an affair with the bride! As the media scandal dies down, he escapes to a remote island—and comes face-to-face with Nikki! Their connection is undeniable but she’s completely off-limits. Yet as the sun sets in paradise, both are struggling to resist…

Scene set-up: Nikki escapes the scandal of running away from her wedding in the arms of best man, international tennis star Max, to a tiny Indonesian island near Bali without telling anyone where she’s gone. Six months later, by coincidence, Max arrives on the island. They’re crazily attracted to each other but the last thing they need is another media scandal so they keep at arm’s length and strictly hands off. (Not that its easy!) When this scene starts they are heading for a beachside restaurant to catch the fabulous sunset and sneakily review the menu for her hotelier friends, while incognito pretending to be a tourist couple. They’ve shared a very brief kiss earlier, red hot and fiery, as Max had just accidentally eaten a very hot chilli pepper. Now, they’ve been transported to the sunset restaurant in the back of a taxi truck. During the ride, they’ve kept studiously apart.

Smooch: Nikki called a ‘thank you’ to [the driver] then went to get off the back of the truck. Max jumped down first. ‘I’m here if you need help,’ he said.

‘Of course I don’t need help,’ she said as she prepared to jump. ‘I’ve done this lots of times and—oh!’ She stumbled a little on the uneven ground and landed heavily against him.

‘Whoa,’ he said as he caught her and steadied her with his hands on her upper arms.

‘Th...thank you,’ she stuttered.

‘You okay?’ He looked down into her face.

‘Fine,’ she said. And feeling finer every second he kept his hands on her arms. His tennis-player calluses felt pleasingly rough against her sensitised bare skin, his fingers strong and firm.

When she didn’t move away he pulled her closer, so close she could sense the hammering of his heart, breathe in the exciting maleness of his scent, thrill at the warm strength of his body. She slid her arms around his waist and looked up at him, feeling nervous, excited, uncertain, on the brink of something unexpected. His eyes seemed a deeper shade of blue in the waning light and the intensity of his expression made her breath come short. For a very long moment their gazes locked in what seemed a series of unspoken questions with only one answer. Yes.

The world had shrunk to her and Max. Her lips parted in anticipation and she murmured her pleasure when he kissed her. His mouth was firm and warm against hers, his beard surprisingly soft against her skin. She tilted her head so she could more easily kiss him back.

‘Is this because we’re pretending to be a couple,’ she murmured against his mouth.

‘No, it’s because I want to kiss you,’ he said.

“I want to kiss you too.’ She licked along the seam of his mouth with the tip of her tongue. ‘No chilli this time. You’re naturally hot.’

‘You think so?’

‘Oh, yes.’ She wound her arms around his neck and pulled him to her, deepening the kiss. What had started as tender very quickly escalated into something intense, demanding, passionate, so all-consuming all she could think about was Max and the heat they were generating. Desire burned through her. She pressed her body to his as lips and tongues became more demanding.

This. Him. Max. She wanted him.

She didn’t know how much longer they would have stood there in the middle of the narrow lane kissing, oblivious to their surroundings, if another truck hadn’t driven up to deposit visitors to the restaurant. At the sound of its blaring horn, she came plummeting back to reality. Reluctantly she pulled away, immediately had to hold onto Max’s arm to steady herself on legs that had turned to jelly. She blinked with bewilderment.

‘What happened?’ She choked out the words.

Max looked equally shaken. He took in a deep, shuddering breath. ‘The inevitable,’ he said.

Nikki didn’t have to ask what he meant. No matter how she’d tried to deny it, they’d been heading towards this.

‘The...the question is where do we go from here?’ She knew her voice sounded strained and uncertain. 

Max reached out and gently smoothed the strands of her hair that had come loose back off her face. She stood very still, briefly closed her eyes at the pleasure of his touch on her skin. ‘Wherever it leads us,’ he said. 

Best Man and the Runaway Bride is a July release from Harlequin Romance in North America, Mills & Boon Forever Romance in Australia and New Zealand, and Mills & Boon True Love in the UK

Author Photo and question: Have you ever bumped into someone, quite by coincidence, somewhere you’d never expect to see them? Do you enjoy a runaway bride story? Sportsman heroes—yes or no? 

I’d love to read your thoughts. Leave a comment below to be in the draw for a signed paperback copy of Best Man and the Runaway Bride (mailed internationally.)

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jun 22, 2018

My 2018 Reading Challenge

by Bronwyn Jameson

Has anyone else noticed that we’re approaching mid-year?  Scary, isn’t it, how quickly time flies when you’re not paying attention.  I could despair at how far behind I am in many of my 2018 projects but no. I’m taking a positive stand and looking at the one project I’m killing. 

My 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge:  I’ve read 45 of my scheduled 50 already so I’m feeling quite chuffed.  Not only because the stat’s say 90% done but because I’ve broken a reading jag -- not a full-on slump, but a semi-malaise.  The kind that made me feel meh about reading in general, so I'd choose to not pick up my Kindle for weeks and weeks and weeks on end.

During this time, I was listening to podcasts when normally I'd be reading. One of my favourites is Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” which is packed with tips for living a happier life — some involve big change and others are as simple as Stop Reading That Book!
Which book? Any book that isn’t doing its job, and for me that job is — 90% of the time — entertainment.  In 2018 I’ve given myself permission to DNF.  When in the past I would push on, not wanting to give up on the author or the characters or their story. Wanting to find the magic that other readers expressed in the reviews that drew me to buy this book. Hoping the connection would come with the next scene or in the next chapter or the one after that.

But Gretchen convinced me: I don't have to finish.  With so many titles on my Kindle — I am a chronic one-clicker — there is no reason to persist with books that don’t satisfy me, entertain me, or make me feel good. If a book isn’t enticing me to pick it up, to turn the page, to read just one more chapter, then I try another.  Sometimes I just need a different book...or a different kind of book.

Hence, I’m back in love with reading and killing my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Do you like to finish most books you start, even if they’re not wonderful, or do you DNF them and move on?

Jun 20, 2018

Storage Problems - and Solutions, Please! Annie West

Isn't she gorgeous? As a storage solution I'm not sure those couple of drawers in her skirt cut it, but as a decorative object she caught my eye. In case you're wondering, I found this lovely lady in a hotel in the Black Forest area of south west Germany. I'd love to think she's an antique but who knows?

Sadly, however, she isn't the answer to my problem. And boy, do I have a problem. I live in a comfortable house that has built-in cupboards in every bedroom and lots of kitchen cupboards but somehow the place is overflowing. It's true only one of the family is ruthless at throwing things out but still... You see I find myself in the situation of temporarily storing things for three generations of family. There's a stack of material for someone who's in the process of moving countries. There are boxes of keepsakes being kept for cousins who live interstate and asked me to mind these items after my aunt died. They haven't been by to collect yet. There are all my author book copies (which I keep whittling down but which keep arriving). 

The result is that we now have a Room of Requirement, as in Harry Potter. If you can't find something it will probably be in that room, which used to be a bedroom and which I had my eye on as a personal study, but which now is a jumble of boxes, books, clothes, kitchen equipment etc.

Lest you think I'm just letting this happen without putting up a fight, you're wrong. Every time I have a spare weekend in between family commitments and deadlines (rarer than you think) I go in and start wading through to weed out things that can be eradicated or passed on to someone. But as fast as I manage it, something else arrives. Months ago I had a real win and after much work, got rid of a heavy box jam-packed with stuff. An hour later, out of the blue, a friend sent two big packages of things she wanted stored safely. I almost cried. Those packages are still in their postal wrapping, just inside the door of the room that might, maybe, one day be my study if I could clear it.

Now, I know part of my problem is not saying no to family and another is just finding time to do a clear out. But there's the issue of how best to store what we've got. So, do you have any favourite tips for great ways to store things (anything from food to clothes to household paraphernalia). I'd love to hear!

https://www.amazon.com/Inherited-Royal-Bed-Harlequin-Presents/dp/1335419519Meanwhile, what's making me smile this month is the release of my latest Mills and Boon/Harlequin story INHERITED FOR THE ROYAL BED

‘I now belong to you.’
He will finally claim his inheritance!
Four years after inheriting—and liberating—a concubine, powerful ruler Sayid is shocked to see the transformation of Lina. No longer shy and naive, she is a feisty, irresistible woman. And Sayid has never wanted anyone more! But, duty-bound to his country, Sayid can only commit to a brief affair. Will Lina accept his outrageous proposal of a week in the royal bed?

Jun 17, 2018

Sunday Smooch with Michelle Douglas

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a retro smooch from  REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET but first 

... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Helen Sibbritt!

Can you please contact Amy: amy (at) amyandrews (dot) com (dot) au to receive your copy of GOING DOWN

The Calantti Vineyard series has been repackaged in Australia and New Zealand! So in honour of that, today I'm sharing a retro smooch from Reunited By a Baby Secret

 She's back in Calanetti...

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test revealed she'd returned with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he's nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he's staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby...?

Scene set-up: Ryan is helping Marianna redecorate the cottage she’s decided to move into. In exchange, Marianna is going to help him learn what he needs to know about looking after a baby. Marianna is impressed with his plan of attack for her cottage…and, it has to be said, with him :). Ryan, however, is desperately afraid of losing control around her.

‘Have I said thank you yet?’ Marianna said.

Dear God in heaven, he couldn’t risk her kissing him again. ‘You have.’ To distract her from further displays of gratitude, he nodded towards the bags. ‘What have you got there?’

‘A lesson.’

He tried to pull his mind to the task in hand. Pay attention. He had to learn how to take care of a baby.

She reached into the nearest bag and, with a flourish, pulled out a…

He blinked and backed up a step. “Uh, Marianna, that’s a doll.’ He scratched the back of his neck and glared at her from beneath a lock of hair that had fallen forward on his forehead. He really should get it cut. ‘Don’t you think we’re a little old to be playing with dolls?’

She stared at that lock of hair and for a tension-fraught moment he thought she meant to lean across and push it out of his eyes. Hastily, he ran a hand back through his hair himself. She blinked and then shook herself. He let out a breath, his heart thumping.

She, however, seemed completely oblivious to his state. She dangled the doll—a life-sized version from what he could make out—from its foot, and smirked at him. ‘Ooh, is the big strong man frightened of the itty-bitty dolly?’

He scowled. ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’

A laugh bubbled out of her and she sashayed around the table still dangling that stupid doll by its foot. ‘Is your super-duper masculinity threated by a little dolly?’

He snaked a hand around her head and drew her face in close to his. ‘Tread carefully, Marianna.’

Her curls, all silk and sass, tickled his hand. ‘I’m holding on by a thread here. My so-called masculinity is telling me to throw caution to the wind. It’s telling me to kiss you, to take you to my bed and make love with you until you can barely stand.’ And then he told her in the most straightforward, vivid language at his command exactly what he craved to do.

Her eyes darkened until they were nearly black. Her lips parted and she stared at his mouth as if she were parched. The pulse in her throat pounded. If he touched his lips to that spot they’d both be lost.

He hauled in a breath. With a super-human effort he let her go. She made a tiny sound halfway between an outbreath and a whimper that arrowed straight to his groin. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. ‘You told me that if I do that—here in your real world—that I will hurt you, break your heart. I don’t want to do that.’

REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is Book 3 in The Vineyards of Calanetti series and is set in Tuscan wine country. To go into the draw to win a copy of the book, answer this question: If you could visit any place in Italy, where would you go?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Jun 13, 2018

Near miss

 Clare’s post earlier in the month about rock stars and the best concert(s) we’d ever been to sent me on a funny trip down memory lane.

When I was nineteen(ish) my girlfriend called me one Saturday afternoon super-excited because Crowded House were playing in a little old club in Newcastle that night. Now, this was before Crowded House had become a name, but she’d been given the skinny on this band and knew they were going places.

“We have to go!” she told me. “This is a big deal, and it may never happen again.”
“I can’t,” I said glumly. “I promised my cousin that I’d go to the pictures with him.”
“Stand him up! Put him off! Go to the pictures next weekend. You can go to the pictures any time.”
My cousin was far from hip or cool, he’d never been groovy in his life, but he was a sweetheart. “I can’t. I’ve already cancelled on him twice, and I’m not going to do it a third time.”
She harangued and argued and cajoled. But I stood firm.

I tell myself that keeping my date with my cousin proves that I’m a good person. But every time I hear a Crowded House song, I shake my head and think You could’ve seen them live! And you know what the worse part is – I can’t even remember what movie it was that we went and saw!

Have you ever had a near miss like this? Tell me the truth, would you have gone to see the band or gone to the movies with Cousin Colin? ;-)

Jun 11, 2018

Byron Writers Festival is Coming…

As many of you know, I’m the Chair of the Byron Writers Festival. A few weeks ago, we launched our Early Bird tickets and revealed the following first line-up of guests. These include: Manal al-Sharif, Anne Aly, Jessie Cole, Michelle de Kretser, Robert Drewe, Eskil Engdal, Jane Harper, Tom Keneally, Miriam Lancewood, Hyeonseo Lee, Tracey Moffatt, Oliver Phommavanh, Tanya Plibersek, David Ritter, Tim Rogers, Kjetil Saeter, Lemn Sissay, Gregory Smith and Sarah Wilson. The rest of the program is still under wraps.

Has anyone read Jane Harper? I’m a huge fan. Her first book The Dry kept me up reading late into the night. The Dry is an international bestseller and has been optioned by the production company behind the film Gone Girl More sleepless nights followed with her second story, A Force of Nature.

This week, the full festival program goes on sale and then I can tell you everything. And, maybe, just maybe there might be something romantic in the air.  

So, Byron is the place to be from 3-5 August where you will enjoy the wisdom and musings of the 140 writers, thinkers and commentators. Any chance I will see you there?

Jun 10, 2018

Sunday Smooch by Katy Connor

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a guest smooch from newbie erotic romance author Katy Connor but first..... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Mary Preston!

Can you please contact sue (dot) mackay 56 (at) yahoo (dot) come to receive your prize!

Please welcome new author Katy Connor to the blog. She specialises in sexy doctors and, today, is bringing us a very sexy smooch from her debut novella Going Down.  

You can check out the book here and also her second novella,  Doctor Sexy, which releases tomorrow - yay! 

****WARNING: Katy's books are erotic and deal with explicit language*****

She gets my blood pumping in a way I’ve never felt on stage…

I didn’t think taking care of my uncle’s building while he’s on vacation would be half as exciting as drumming, but the nerdy doctor in 7B gets my blood pumping in a way I’ve never felt on stage.

I’ve pushed her buttons at every turn, but she’s all work and no play. And sadly immune to my charm. But now the latest Nor’easter has us stranded in our elevator. Alone. And it’s the perfect time to push every single button I can.

My hands are itching to touch her, and her voice alone makes me rock hard. So I tease her. And she fires back. And then her tight little body brushes up against mine in challenge, and it’s all the green light I need.

Going down in an elevator has never been this sexy…

Scene set-up

Danny and Holly have already had a very steamy encounter in a broken down elevator during a blizzard but that's it as far as Holly is concerned. Danny isn't convinced and when he cuts his hand late at night requiring an ER visit he sees his chance to remind Holly just how good they are together.

She’s halfway out the door when she spies me, her arms full of medical supplies, that goddamn stethoscope nestled exactly where I like it. The sign on the door says supplies. She gives me one of her cranky looks, and it has the predictable effect of throwing flame onto the smoldering heat of my desire.

“Danny!” She hisses my name and checks over my shoulder as I step close. “What the hell are you doing back here? This is off limits to—non-medical personnel.”

But I see the flash in her eyes, hear the husky rasp of her breathing. And damn if the prissy way she says non-medical personnel doesn’t yank me by the dick.

I give her one of those slow smiles I know shows off my dimples and irritates her so much. I know because she frowns when I do it, just like she does now. “You look hot in those scrubs and that stethoscope is driving me nuts. I’m here to do you, Doc, and this time, I have a condom.”

I don’t give her a chance to respond, just slide my hands onto her biceps and steer her back into the room. It’s dark in here, too, but my eyes are adjusted enough to make out the looming shadows of row upon row of large metallic shelves laden with stuff I can’t identify and don’t give a shit about.

I only have eyes for Holly.

“Danny. We…shouldn’t be doing this. I’m at work. Anyone can walk in here at any minute.”

“I know.” I smile as I direct her to the nearest row. “That’s half the thrill.”

“I…have patients.” But the catch in her voice betrays her excitement as I bump her back against the wall at the far end of the row.

“You’re in a lull.”

I start unloading the stuff from her arms, shoving it haphazardly on the shelf beside me. She doesn’t help but she doesn’t stop me either and by the time she’s empty handed, her breathing is a rough pant winding its fingers around my cock and I’m dizzy with it. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.”

“Danny I—”

 I cut off whatever she’s about to say with my mouth. I have to kiss her. And by the way she’s melting against me, opening her mouth and clutching at my shirt, I’m guessing she has to kiss me too. My hands slide to her hips as my tongue slides into her mouth and she moans and twists her fingers into my shirt.

And Christ she feels good—hot and eager, greedy as her hands pull me closer. Every suck of my breath fills up with the sweetness of maple syrup. My pulse washes like a waterfall through my ears. My hands shake with need, the pain from my arm forgotten. She rubs against me and I know how she feels. I want to bury myself inside her so bad.

To fuck her. Finally.

I pull away slightly, my lips not quite touching hers. “Say you haven’t been able to stop thinking about me.” I fully expect her to bite me but I’m pathetically desperate to hear her articulate what her body already knows.

“I barely think of anything else,” she whispers.

I groan and kiss her hard instead of roaring and beating my chest like a fucking caveman, which is exactly what I want to do.

Holly Vincent is mine.

Katy says - thanks so much to the Lovecats for having me. For a chance to win a digital copy of Going Down leave me an answer to the question below in the comments! Thanks.

Q - who's the hottest TV doc around?

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver