Sep 26, 2018

Are you living your dream? – Kandy Shepherd

Recently, my younger brother died suddenly and unexpectedly. It was sad, distressing and I don’t know when I’ll get over the shock and loss. However the upside of the tragedy was I was able to spend significant time with my middle brother. He lives on the other side of the country, and before that in Europe, so I haven’t seen much of him at all in recent years. It was amazing the details of shared lives that siblings seem to remember. He reminded me of all sorts of things I’d forgotten.


During our most recent conversation I observed we are quite an eccentric family. He laughed as he agreed but said we have all achieved our dreams, one way or another. “You always wanted to be a romance writer,” he pointed out. Our deceased younger brother became a rock musician later in life, not on a large scale but known and loved in the area where he lived—living the dream of singing and playing guitar on stage. Another has a string of non-fiction books in his area of expertise to his name. The other has the lifestyle he dreamed of and knows he has made a difference through activism.

It got me thinking. Yes, I am living the dream of being a romance writer—and very happy about it too! But I’m also living the dream of being happily married and the mother of a wonderful daughter. How fortunate I am!

Other friends are living the dream of seeing the world now they’re retired. Another is totally caught up in her longed for first baby. Yet another is taking art classes for the first time and discovering her talent. My husband, in middle age, has achieved his dream of cycling across some of the highest alps in Europe. My daughter has her own horse—a dream since she was tiny. Another young person is delighted to have a job and be able to pay rent on her own place. 

So many different dreams motivating and inspiring us!

PS. My other oft-stated dream when I was a kid? To live in a lovely house and have lots of cats. As I live in a nice house with four much-loved cats, I think I can check that one off the dream list too! (Don’t mention to my husband that I’d like to foster homeless cats one day—because that’s definitely not his dream as he fears I wouldn’t be able to part with them!)

What about you? Have you achieved a dream of some kind that pleases you? Do you still aspire to a dream? Is there a dream you had to give up on? Please share your story with us. I’d love to hear it!

Sep 25, 2018

Whale of a Time by Amy Andrews

So, I've just spent the weekend here - 

No, it's okay, dont feel sorry for me. I suffered through 😉

The best bit? Dozens and dozens of migrating humpback whales were spotted across the weekend. I managed to snap one - eventually - but they were hard to get a good pic of because my reaction time is clearly wanting in my old age. 

This doesn't do them justice - so many of them breeched right out of the water. It was amazing!

 Which lead me to think about the true marvels of the animal kindgdom. Like the majesty of elephants and giraffe's and the beauty of peacocks and butterflies. The cuteness of Koalas and platypus and puffins. The exoticness of the polar bear and the panda bear, the toucan and the chameleon.

Isn't it all just wonderful? And how awesome would it be if unicorns and mermaids (probably not really an animal) actually existed?  

What's your favourite "exotic" animal? And yea or nay to unicorns and mermaids?

Sep 23, 2018

Sunday Smooch by Amy Andrews

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Amy Andrews but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Ginette Kneller!!!!!!

Can you please contact Andrea on andrea (at) andreabolton (dot) com to receive your prize!

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from ........Tempted By Mr Off-Limits.

How to handle a powerful attraction? Get it out of your system quickly!
Lola Fraser knows better than to fall for her best friend’s brother, paramedic Hamish Gibson. Living together whilst he’s training could get awkward — fast! But as they work together on a heartrending case, they can’t resist the temptation to take their minds off work. Surely one night will be enough...until they discover it isn’t!

Hamish is sleeping on Lola's couch for one night before he heads back to the country again. They almost kissed earlier but she pulled back because he's her friend's brother and he lives a million miles away so why upset applecarts? But Lola has had a rough night at work and can't sleep and she knows there's someone not that far away who'll help her with the situation in a heartbeat. 
At 2 am, she grows tired of fighting it....

But she needed to wake him first. She couldn’t just jump on him, no matter how temptingly he was lying there.

Lola clenched her fists, the sharp foil edges of the condom cutting into her palm as she took a step towards him. Her foot landed on the only squeaky floorboard in the entire room and he was awake in an instant. She froze as his abs tensed and his body furled upwards, his legs swinging over the edge of the couch. His feet had found the floor before she had a chance to take another breath.

He blinked up at her, running his palms absently up and down the length of his bare thighs. ‘Lola?’

Lola let out a shaky breath as she took a step back. ‘I guess it’s true what they say about country guys, then.’

‘Hung like horses?’ He shot her a sleepy smile. His voice was low and rumbly but alert.

She laughed and it was loud in the night. ‘Light sleepers.’

‘Oh, that.’ He rubbed his palm along his jawline and the scratchy noise went straight to her belly button. ‘Are you okay?’

Lola shook her head, her heart suddenly racing as she contemplated the width of his shoulders and the proposition she was about to lay on him. ‘I…can’t sleep.’

‘So you came out for…a cup of warm milk?’

The smile on his face matched the one in his voice, all playful and teasing, and Lola blushed. Her cheeks actually heated! What the hell?

Since when did she start blushing?

Most nurses she knew, including herself, were generally immune to embarrassment. She’d seen far too much stuff in her job to be embarrassed by anything.

‘No.’ She held up the condom, her fingers trembling slightly, grateful for the cover of night. ‘I was thinking of something more…physical.’

His gaze slid to the condom and Lola’s belly clenched as he contemplated the foil packet like it was the best damn thing he’d seen all night. ‘I have read,’ he said after a beat or two, refocusing on her face, ‘that physical activity is very good for promoting sleep.’

Lola’s nipples puckered at the slight emphasis on ‘physical activity’ and she swallowed against a mouth suddenly dry as the couch fabric. ‘Yeah.’ She smiled. ‘I read that too.’

He held out his hand. ‘Come here.’

Lola’s heart leapt in her chest but she ground her feet into the floor. They had to establish some ground rules. ‘This can only be a one-time thing.’

‘I know.’

His assurance grazed Lola’s body like a physical force, rubbing against all the good spots, but she needed to make certain he was absolutely on the same page. ‘You’re leaving tomorrow,’ she continued. ‘We’ll probably never see each other again.’ This was the first time she’d met Hamish after all, despite having lived with Grace for almost all the last two years. ‘And I’m good with that.’

‘Me too.’

‘I don’t do relationships. Especially not long-distance relationships.’

He nodded again. ‘I understand. We’re one and done. I am good with it, Lola.’

‘Also…I don’t think we should tell Grace about this.’

He sat back a little, clearly startled at the suggestion, looking slightly askance. ‘Do I look like I took a stupid pill to you?’

Lola laughed. He looked like he’d taken an up-for-it pill and heat wound through her abdomen. Hamish leaned forward at the hips and crooked his finger, a small smile playing on his wicked mouth.

‘Come here, Lola.’

The way he said her name when he was mostly naked was like fingers stroking down her belly. Lola took a small step forward, her entire body trembling with anticipation. She took another and then she was standing in front of him, the outsides of her thighs just skimming the insides of his knees.

He held his hand out and she placed the condom in his palm. He promptly shoved it under a cushion before sliding his hands onto the sides of her thighs. Lola’s breath hitched as they slid all the way up and the muscles in her stomach jumped as they slid under the hem of her T-shirt, pushing it up a little.

Leaning closer, he brushed his mouth against the bare skin, his lips touching down just under her belly button. Lola’s mouth parted on a soft gasp and her hands found his shoulders as their gazes locked. One hand kept travelling, pushing into the thick wavy locks of his hair, holding him there as they stared at each other, their breathing low and rough.

Then he fell back against the couch, pulling her with him, urging her legs apart so she was straddling him, the heat and pulse at her heart settling over the heat and hardness of him.

His hands slid into her hair, pulling her head down, his mouth seeking hers.

Her pulse thundered through her ears and throbbed between her legs and she moaned as their lips met. She couldn’t have stopped it even had she wanted to.

And she didn’t.

For a chance to win an print copy (international) of Tempted By Mr Off Limits, tell me country boys or city dudes? Leave your choice in the comments!

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

Sep 19, 2018

March Madness

by Bronwyn Jameson

Next March, I am off to the UK for a short visit. I am joining a sister-in-law after she finishes a freeze-her-butt-off tour to see the Northern Lights. She opines that England should be balmy by comparison. I remain unconvinced.

Despite the probability of dismal weather, I quickly put ip my hand as travelling companion. “Pick me, pick me!” Firstly, I’m an extreme Anglophile. I’ll take any visit I can justify. As for justification: I thought I’d spend the rest of my trip in London visiting my one grandchild. Oh, and her parents.

But, as happens most every time I plan a big trip, things have changed. Son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter are in the throes of moving back to Australia. I will be visiting them in Sydney instead of London, next month instead of in six months’ time. Super-duper happy about this turn of events, don’t get me wrong, and I am in the process of changing my plans for March.

So. I now have a week on my hands and too many enticing options. I would love to settle on just one.
My priorities:

  • I would prefer somewhere within a few hours’ travel of London. I don’t want to waste a whole day travelling to and fro. 
  • Somewhere I’d feel comfortable travelling alone. 
  • Somewhere I don’t need a car (I love road trips, but not solo.) 
My short list currently looks like this:

Cornwall or a similarly wild coastal county (which is probably miserably wet in March.) I picture myself curled up with a blankie and my laptop, making use of the bucolic atmosphere to outline a story or three. Drinking tea and devouring scones with clotted cream. And later, fish and chips and a half of ale down the pub.

Paris. I am drawn by the idea of wandering the city, but my imagination is filled with light and sunshine and stylish shoes. Not short bleak days and ugg boots. I do not want to break up with the City of Light over the weather; I have loved her for too long. On the other hand, I could spend many long grey days in the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay without jostling with unbearable crowds.

Cote d’Azur. The south of France is high on my bucket list but not my husband’s. So this is an opportunity BUT would I be able to do it justice? I want to visit hilltop villages and sip cocktails in Monte Carlo and stroll around ALL the seaside resorts. I would need a car, right? And more time.

Somewhere in Spain. This option is gathering impetus after strong recommendations from my sister and my son. March temperatures in Seville are double what I could expect in Cornwall or Paris. Barcelona and Nice (as an example from south of France) are halfway between. I need to research harder because right now all I’m thinking is Sunshine! Tapas!

Do you have any further additions for my list? 

Where would you choose to spend a European vacation in March?


Sep 16, 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 Veronica at Burgeoning Bookshelf

Can you please contact Bronwyn: bronwynjameson (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of No Place Like Home

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Italian's Runaway Princess.

Is life outside the palace walls everything she dreamed of?

When billionaire Gio Grassi rescued a beautiful stranger on the streets of Florence, he never imagined she'd be royalty! Princess Luciana's innocence compels Gio to protect her, and her vivacity intrigues him. But Gio's been betrayed before and he can't let it happen again. With Luciana's arranged royal wedding only three weeks away, can this chance encounter charge the course of these two loves - forever?

Scene set-up: While Gio Grassi only intended to protect Princess Luciana during her short time in Florence, they have grown closer and are unable to deny their feelings for each other.

     All Gio could concentrate on was the two kinds of comfort invading his senses. One was the calm presence of the morning sun through the bedroom windows, letting him know that he’d slept later than usual.
    The other lay next to him in his king-sized bed. Her Royal Highness Princess Luciana de la Isla de Izerote slept facing him, her exquisite features in repose without flaw. The blonde hair that bathed her face in gold. If only he was an artist so he could capture her beauty this morning and preserve it for all eternity. Or if Michelangelo was still alive, Gio would commission him to carve Luciana’s likeness into marble.
     Actually, he might not need anything to help him remember this morning, as the recesses of his mind had already snapped pictures he’d treasure forever.
     Gently, Gio brushed away a strand of hair that fell from Luciana’s forehead across her eye. She stirred the tiniest bit from his touch. The ever so small curl of her lips affected every inch of Gio’s body, forcing his loins into an involuntary stretch.
     With the mild temperature, he didn’t perceive the need to pull the blanket over Luciana’s alabaster shoulders. Instead, his eyes traced slowly downward to appreciate the curve of her breasts. He’d luxuriated for as long as he’d wanted to last night with the perfection of them in his hands, in his mouth. With his lips, his tongue, his teeth, he’d taken her entire bod…
     He’d done what?
     Gio scratched his beard stubble as reality blew in the window. Late last night, after the disastrous attempt at cooking pasta and after they’d settled for tomato on toast and a humble table wine, the evening ended here. In his bedroom.
     Where he took the virginity of a princess.
     One who was engaged to be married.
     Who was leaving Florence in a few weeks.
     And whom he’d never see again.
     It was hard to decide which of those truths was more disturbing.
     Last night. With their laughter over their culinary foibles. Her cute yawn and outstretched arms as the evening got later. Finally her, no doubt, impulsive move to lean in and kiss him. He was unable to deny her. The faint voices in the back of his mind that had told him to be careful, to keep his distance, to remember that Luciana was to be a fleeting memory, had no strength last night. They went down without a fight.

In the beginning of this story, Princess Luciana doesn't immediately reveal herself to be royalty. Are there ways in which you conceal something about yourself because you're concerned with how people will view you? I'll out myself - I'm a crazed K-Pop music fangirl!

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Sep 12, 2018

Behind the story

Until now, I’ve not written a marriage-of-convenience story. I’m not sure why, as they’ve always fascinated me. And when I had a vision of a woman joking and telling the man she was lunching with that she’d marry him for a million pounds… Well, seriously, what’s an author to do, but play the “what-if” game to discover who these two were? :)

And that is how the The Million Pound Marriage Deal was born.

I had three songs that I played over and over while I was dreaming this book into being (and while I was writing it):

* Jewel’s Foolish Games, which was Sophie’s theme song
* Robert Palmer’s Simply Irresistible, which was Will’s theme song
* Morgan Evan’s Kiss Somebody, which came on the radio the first time I was idly dreaming about this story

If you watch the film clip of Foolish Games, you’ll see where my inspiration came for Sophie’s love of horses. ;-)

The expression on her face in the final seconds of the clip gets to me every single time.

I have a Pandora charm for each of my books, and this is the one I chose for The Million Pound Marriage Deal. A piggy bank. Isn’t that red bow the cutest? It seemed appropriate given that Sophie is saving all her pennies so desperately.
 Will marries to ensure he inherits the house his vulnerable sister calls home, which just happens to be a Scottish castle. I know, swoon, right? And this is what I envisaged Will’s castle looks like…

This is Cawdor Castle, and I grabbed this photo from their website…so if you want to read more about the Castle (and it’s link to Macbeth!) just click on the link. :-)

So that's a little bit about the book! If you have any questions about the book or my process, ask away and I'll do my best to answer them. :-)

The Million Pound Marriage Deal is on shelves now, and available at all of the usual places.

Barnes and Noble

Sep 10, 2018

Great Old Friends

Don’t you just love old friends? You know the ones you have had since primary school or high school. The ones you may not see for six months or more but are immediately back to where you left off as soon as you are together.

I had my friend from high school, Mandy, stay for the weekend. We have been 'besties' since we were 12. We haven’t seen each other for such a long time due to the complete craziness of life, but that just doesn’t matter.

We had such a fun weekend. We walked to the Byron Bay lighthouse. We walked my cute cavoodle down our pretty country lane to the view of Lennox Head. We walked to Newrybar, our local village (6km round trip) to have coffee and croissants. Yes, we love a good walk. We also love to run, but Mandy hurt her knee, so walking it was this weekend.

One of the wonderful things about Mandy is she can cook. Really cook. Nearly every time she comes Mandy will cook dinner. This time it was prawn risotto. OMG, it was so good. My contribution was lighting a fire and pouring the wine.

Do you have friends like that? The ones you don’t see for an age but as soon as you are together, it is as if no time at all has passed.

Sep 9, 2018

RETRO SMOOCH: Quade: The Irresistible One

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a retro smooch from way back by Bronwyn Jameson.

Happy Sunday, Smoochers!  Today's smooch is from Quade: The Irresistible Onefirst published 15 years ago so we're talkin' retro-bordering-on-old-skool.  Chantal and Quade’s story is the second in a four-book series set in small-town Plenty, Australia.  The series theme is coming home – and finding home – so I am thrilled for this re-packaging under the title No Place Like Home.

Blurb  - 

Chantal Goodwin had always had a weakness for Cameron Quade. And now that he was back in town, she discovered a single glance still made her ache like the lovesick schoolgirl she’d once been.

But Chantal was a woman now who took what she wanted, and she wanted a single night of passion with Cameron. She told herself she could still watch him walk away, but that was before she learned about the consequences of their passionate night.

Scene set-up -

Chantal invited her sister and brother-in-law, Julia and Zane O'Sullivan, to dinner and they’ve brought Quade along.  He’s seen her at her worst on several occasions since arriving back in Plenty.  She’s determined this will be different. 

Smooch  - 

The only way she could concentrate on cooking was to chase all chattering distractions – aka Julia – from her kitchen with instructions to set the table.
Delving deep into the chest freezer for more bread rolls, she sensed a new disruption. Her first abstracted thought was: so that’s how he knew when I came into the living room—he felt me eyeballing his backside. Her second abstracted thought: if I stay here much longer, generating this amount of body heat, I’ll defrost the whole freezer-load of food.
While she extracted herself from the freezer depths, Chantal rued the fact that her jeans, like everything else in her wardrobe, fit a little too snugly.
“Julia sent me after a corkscrew.”
“Top drawer, beside the stove,” she instructed.
He found it—she heard the drawer slide open then click shut—but she felt the touch of his gaze as she placed the rolls in the microwave. Suddenly her roomy kitchen felt very small, the lack of words between them awkward.
“For some reason I’m one roll short,” she said, punching buttons to start the oven. She turned to find him leaning against the bench top, tapping the corkscrew against his thigh. A frown drew his dark brows together. “Sorry for the lack of notice. Julia said you wouldn’t mind.”
“Julia’s right—I don’t mind. And the bread shortage isn’t because you’re one extra but because she’s been sampling the goods.” She crossed to the stove, lifted the lid and stirred the simmering soup. It looked good, smelled even better.
“Knowing Julia,” she continued conversationally, “you’d have had little choice on whether you came or not.”
“I had choice. That bossy thing you Goodwin girls have going doesn’t sway me.”
Funny, but she’d never heard bossy sound like a compliment before. It was that voice, that mouth. Irresistible. The word drifted unbidden through her senses but she shook it away. “So, why did you come?”
What a curious answer... She turned a little, resting her hip against the stove, so she could see his face. “Curiosity about?”
“Your sister says you’re an excellent cook.”
And he didn’t believe her. Well! Indignation rising, she lifted a ladle full of the thick orange puree and tilted it this way and that in the light.
“Pumpkin?” he asked.
“Roasted pumpkin with green apple and sage.” She noticed his eyes haze just a smidge as he drew in the aromatic steam. “Would you like a taste?” 
“Is it safe?” Perhaps it was her imagination, but his cool Midori gaze seemed to slide to her mouth and back again. Chantal felt the impact flow through her blood in a prolonged wave of longing. The touch of his lips wouldn’t be safe, not to her sanity, not to her senses, but she didn’t care. Oh, how she didn’t care!
Gaze locked with hers, he slowly ducked his head to the ladle suspended between them. When he sipped from the edge of the tilted spoon, she felt her own lips open reflexively, felt her tongue touch the very center of her top lip. Felt a soft sigh of appreciation slide between her open lips. Saw something flicker darkly in his eyes. Desire? Resolve?
He leaned closer, beyond the spoon, and another sound escaped her throat, a sound of heightened anticipation.
When his tongue touched her top lip, one soft stroke, she allowed her lids to drift shut. She needed to concentrate, to categorize each nuance, the whisper of his exhalation against her cheek, the slight change in angle that brought their lips into perfect alignment, the sensual slide of his tongue. Top lip, bottom lip. Sweet, spicy, hot. So delicious, the rush of flavor, of heat, of desire, but still just a sample, she knew, of what was to come...
Her knees turned weak, her shoulders slumped, her elbows gave way as a rich multitude of sensations coursed through her body. And then the ladle slipped from her fingers, bumped down the front of her jumper and clattered to the floor.
Eyes flying open, she jumped back just as Julia barreled through the door. Pulling up short, she took in the scene in one raised-eyebrows look, turned on her heel, and left as quickly as she’d arrived.

Which left Chantal to deal with sloshed soup and one very uncomfortable man. He stood rubbing his forehead and looking as if he couldn’t quite believe what he’d just done. She couldn’t quite believe what he’d just done. She definitely couldn’t believe what he was about to do...
# # #

To win a signed copy of the 3-in-1 No Place Like Home, share what you love most about your home, whether that be small-town, big-city, remote-wilderness or anywhere in between.  And don’t forget to check back next Sunday to see if you’re the winner.

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver