Jan 30, 2019

Did you hear the news?

Our very own Helen Lacey’s A Fortunes of Texas Christmas is being made into a movie! Straight from the horse’s mouth:

“VERY VERY VERY excited to announce that my Harlequin Special Edition book, A Fortunes Of Texas Christmas is being made into a television movie with Brain Power Studio!

Thank you to my fabulous editor Susan Litman and agent Scott Eagan and to Harlequin!

I'm still in shock, but over the moon!”

How cool is that? Congratulations, Helen!

The announcement has me thinking about other romance novels adapted for the screen. I know there are some Harlequin category romances because I’ve seen the trailers, but they can be difficult to access in Australia. Has anyone seen them?

I have watched some of the adaptations that Passionflix have done, and especially liked The Matchmaker’s Playbook. I’m a bit behind on those, though, so there are probably some other great gems on Passionflix waiting to be uncovered.

What others have you seen, or been meaning to see?

And a more fun question: what romance novel would you love to see adapted to screen?

Jan 28, 2019

Latest Obsessions! by Amy Andrews

I've watched quite a few TV series over the holiday period and I thought I'd share 3 of my absolute faves!


I'm late to the Younger train but am loving it so hard. And I'm #TeamCharles all the way although I know fellow LoveCat Clare Connelly is die hard #TeamJosh


Compelling in ways I can't explain. Its always facinating when you actually have empathy with a psychopath!


Sex Education 

I cannot describe how good this is! It's charming and quirky and confronting and wrenching and laugh out loud funny! Also has an amazing sound track!


So, they're my recs - what about you?

Jan 27, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Amy Andrews

Welcome to the first LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch for 2019!


Today we have a smooch by Amy Andews from her new release The D.I.L.F. 


Amy Andrews turns up the heat in her smuttiest little book to-date!

I've had a crush on Stefanie, my best friend's older sister, since I was fifteen. As a geeky gamer with a bad case of acne, she was totally out of my league. But I'm all grown up now, with a medical degree and an in-depth knowledge of female anatomy I'm not afraid to use. When we cross paths again I finally get my chance to live out a few teenage fantasies and prove I can be her guy. I just have to convince Stef to take a chance.

As a resident nurse,I've had enough of arrogant doctors to last me a lifetime. I'm not looking for another. I'm especially not looking to hook up with my kid brother's bestie—ten years my junior—even if he has morphed into a walking, talking, wet dream. If only he wasn't sleeping in my spare bed for three weeks and making it very clear he wants to be in my bed instead. Not going to happen. I don't do casual anymore. No matter how much I want to open my legs for the DILF.

Scene set-up

Owen and Stef have just come home from being out at a bar. She'd been accosted by a drunk and had handled it perfectly fine without Owen's help and she'd been annoyed when he'd tried to intervene. They arrive home and Owen, who had made is desire for her well and truly known, is trying to convince Stefanie that she should give him a chance to prove he can show her a very good time for the 3 weeks he's living under her roof.

****WARNING - This book is erotica with highly sexualised content and frank language. Please DO NOT read on if graphic sex scenes are not your cup of tea.*****

I sigh at the determined little jut of her chin. “It’s my age, isn’t it?”
“Yes. But mostly I just see you as Freddie’s geeky fifteen year old gamer friend and that makes me feel kinda...dirty. And not,” she hastened to add as I opened my mouth to interrupt, “in a dirty girl way. In a dirty old woman way. I don’t want to be that person.”
I take three strides across the room until I’m standing a hand’s width away. Her lips look even redder up this close and she smells like wine and the cool autumn air. I half expect her to take a step back but she holds her ground.
“I’m not geeky gamer boy anymore, Stefanie.” Her nostrils flare as I all but whisper her name and I take advantage of her reaction to grab her hand and shove it on the bulge testing the constraints of my fly. “And I’m not fifteen either.”
She doesn’t try to pull her hand away, just sucks in a breath and I grow a little bolder moving in so her hand is trapped between us and my chest rubs against the soft mounds of her tits. Her lips part and my gaze drops to the cherry cola pillows. I inch my mouth closer and salivate knowing how close we are to kissing. Her warm breath fans against my cheek.
“Plus I’m the DILF.” My lips curve up as they nudge closer, my pulse washes through my ears, blood rockets through my system, my cock swells even harder beneath her hand. “Didn’t you know?”
“Yeah,” she whispers all low and husky, our lips all but brushing now. “I know. But you shouldn’t believe your own press.”
In one sudden movement she sweeps my legs out from underneath me and I’m falling. But not before I make a grab for her and we both go down. I land on my back groaning at the impact despite my fall to the floorboards being cushioned by a thick shag rug.
Stef lands on top of me and I grunt. Her legs straddle my waist, her forehead is buried in the crook of my neck, her hair covers my face. She doesn’t pause though, just pushes herself up, a hand either side of my shoulders, her hair forming a coppery curtain around us as she glares down at me.
Neither of us says anything for a beat or two, we just stare and pant, our chests rising and falling erratically. 
Stef breaks first, dragging in one deep breath then another before swooping down and slamming her mouth against mine.
And it is better than a hundred dirty fantasies.
Her mouth is open wide, demanding I follow suit as her tongue snakes inside and strokes against mine in the filthiest tangling I’ve ever known. If she had a dick, I know exactly how she’d fuck me with it. Hell, if she had a dick right now, I’d let her. A woman who can kiss a man like she’s fucking him, can have whatever the hell she wants. It’s deep and wet and hard and I can barely keep up with the frantic pace as she devours my mouth like it’s laced with the world’s most potent aphrodisiac.
I knew it would be like this between us – crazed - I’d always known. Even in my virginal spank bank fantasies I’d known Stef and I would be off the charts.  
The rough drag of our breathing as we struggle to suck in air fills my head and I groan as our tongues tango. The backs of her thighs fill my hands but suddenly I need more than that. I slide them to her ass, her deliciously round ass. I want to bite it, to furrow my cock through the cleft between her cheeks, to bury it inside her and take her to a whole other plane. But all I can do right now is squeeze. So I do.
 Wrong. Move.
As quickly as the kiss began, she finishes it, pushing away again. Her eyes glitter with fury but there’s frustration there too.
Oh yeah baby. I know exactly how she feels.
“Never,” she says, her chest heaving, her teeth bared and gritted. “Going. To. Happen.” 

Like this smooch? Clicking on the cover will take you to the Amz US page where you can purchase if you so wish. It's currently still 99c there. Or...answer the question below in the comments for a chance to win a digital copy of the book!

Erotica yay! or nay? Let me know 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

Jan 23, 2019

The empty nest

I  found myself moping around the place the other day wondering why I felt just a little down. Then my husband and I realised why we were both feeling a little bit that way—we’d been struck by the “empty nest syndrome”. 

Towards the end of last year our daughter, our only child, finally left home. She’d studied for years so had been living with us until age twenty-five (in Sydney, it’s the exception rather than the rule for uni students to live away from home). She’d been away on academic placements for weeks on end, but always came home. Even after she moved out (to a very happy living arrangement) for a while she worked nearby for a few days a week and sometimes it didn’t feel like she’d gone at all. 

But now, though we talk and text often nearly every day, she’s not often here, and when she is she’s a visitor. Her bedroom is now a fully functioning guest room but of course it’s still referred to as her room. The cats go in there, sit in the middle of the room and cry sometimes because they miss her. I’m still buying too much food at the supermarket.

According to Pyschology Today, empty nest syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis, but "refers to feelings of depression, sadness, and, or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes." So it really is a thing!

We are delighted our daughter is enjoying an independent, happy life. That’s the outcome we want for her. We love being a guest in her new home. But having her gone is a kind of grief, not just for the loss of her company but also the end of an era where our lives revolved around family. We were older parents so daughter leaving home also coincides with facing retirement and down-sizing and other big life changes. (Not that I have any intention of retiring from writing romance!) You prepare for other stages of life, but we certainly hadn’t consciously prepared for the empty nest.

Last night I cooked one of my daughter’s favourite meals for dinner—a yummy cheese and caramelised onion quiche—and remarked to my husband how odd it was that for the first time we would get to eat the entire quiche ourselves, with leftovers for lunch the next day. 

Then there was a knock on the door and there she was, wanting a fix of home. I don’t know what empty nest syndrome is called for the one who left and sometimes misses home but I guess she’d felt it. There was much hugging. The cats came running up the hallway at the sound of her voice. And quiche was served. When her partner came to pick her up, he was also served quiche. There was no quiche left for lunch today but I didn’t mind at all.

Our little family on a visit to London last year

Have you suffered from empty nest syndrome—from either side? Any coping strategies to share? I’d love to read your comments.

(My next book Second Chance with the Single Dadis out now in Australia and next month in the US and UK. Adorable baby girl Nina is an important character in the book and brought back many happy memories of my daughter as I was writing it.)

Jan 16, 2019

My 2018 Reading Review

by Bronwyn Jameson

For the 2nd successive year I set my GoodReads Reading Challenge at 50 books.  In 2017 I limped over the line with 50 books read.  In 2018 I totally crushed this goal with a grand total of 85.  This may correlate directly with my non-achievement of other goals in 2018, and also with my increased number of long haul flights.  There is nothing like a long flight to get me immersed in a book or three.

It's fair to say that I love reading, and that in 2018 I rebounded winningly from several years where I wasted reading time in favour of social media.  It's also fair to admit that I love statistics, and so I offer my 2018 reading year broken down.

I rated 17 books as 5-star reads, and that is a hard-won rating from me.  It truly does mean memorable, amazing, I-could-not-get-enough-of-this-book.  A further 38 I rated as 4-star, meaning that I REALLY liked 63% of my list.  Is it any wonder that I kept on reading?

At the other end of the scale, I only gave 5 x 2-stars and 1 x 1-star, probably because if a book isn't working for me it is DNF'ed and not counted.  Those 6?  All rated according to my extreme disappointment scale, because I'd expected so much more.

21% of my "reading" was audiobooks, up on 2017 and I suspect that will rise again this year.  Already I am listening far more than I'm reading.

Romance represented 55% of my reading. Mystery/Thriller/Suspense 28%. General Fiction 8%.  Non-Fiction 9%, which sort of fulfilled by vague goal to expand my reading beyond the usual suspects.

My favourite read in 2018: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  Since I was listening to the audiobook at a time when I'd vowed to only listen while walking, I broke my all-time step-count record day after day.  Unique, brilliant, involving. And unexpectedly romantic. 

My favourite long romance: The Art of Inheriting Secrets. Mystery, secrets, romance, food, an English country village and a magical mysterious mansion. All told in the wondrous voice of Barbara O’Neal. *Happy sigh.*

My favourite short romance was a 2017 release. Casey by Kelly Hunter may well be my new favourite KH story (a big call, I have many Kelly Hunter favourites.) A bull-rider hero and a stock contractor heroine, set on the American rodeo circuit, but not your typical western romance. You know when a story, the characters, their conflicts and how they deal are just perfect for you? 

My favourite category/series romance: Undone by the Billionaire Duke by Caitlin Crews. Loved the setting and the gothic overtones in the wilds of Yorkshire. My Jane Eyre loving young heart embraced its OTT wonders. Puffer coat for the win!!!

My favourite suspense/thriller: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts. Examines the impact of a mass shooting on the families of victims, and on the survivors. Super chilling and thought-provoking. One of my favourite NR’s of recent years.

New Discoveries:

Patricia McLinn’s Caught Dead in Wyoming series (I read the first 5 and am currently on #6.) A cozy mystery series set around a TV station in small-town Wyoming, featuring a fish-out-of-water heroine who is sharp and resourceful, and a band of friends and colleagues who form a loose alliance as amateur sleuths. A well-written series that’s as much about the characters as the mysteries.

Kaylie Newell, a new-to-me author, has become an instant auto-buy. Loved her RITA finalist Christmas at the Graff.  Sure, it’s packed with all the Hallmarky Christmas baubles but Newell’s writing and her characters absolutely charmed the grinch out of me. As did the tale of family forgiveness at its heart.  I may have enjoyed Tanner’s Promise even more.

My aim this year is to continue expanding my reading list by reading a minimum of 4 classics.  I will point out that this doesn’t preclude me choosing romance classics: I feel a need to revisit some Bronte and Austen. 

How was your 2018 reading year?  Did you break any records (in reading or step-counting)?  Do you have any newly discovered authors or series to share?  And have you set any challenges or goals for reading in 2019?

Jan 14, 2019

How is it possible?

Is it just me or does everyone have about twenty books on their bedside table waiting to be read. Actually, they don’t all fit on my bedside table and are lined up by the wall next to my bed.  How will I ever get to all the books I want to read? Right now within reaching distance are:

  • ·      all four of the Elena Ferrante books
  • ·      The Lost Man, Jane Harper
  • ·      Bridges of Clay, Markus Zusak
  • ·      The Last of the Bonegilla Girls, Victoria Purman
  • ·      Underworld, Don Delillo
  • ·      Yates Garden Guide (one day I will start a veggie patch)
  • ·      Northerly, Byron Writers Festival magazine
  • ·      WQ, Qld Writers Centre magazine
  • ·      Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman
  • ·      SweetBitter, Stephanie Danler
  • ·      The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape
  • ·      How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie  - I’ve had this book for about twenty years and have always meant to read it

...and the two I have just finished, The Children Act by Ian McEwen and Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard. I loved both of them. And, that’s not counting those downloaded on my iPad.

I want to read more, but where to you find time? I only read at night before going to bed and even then I’m often distracted by the headlines online.

I know I should get my act together with audio books as I do commute two and half hours each day to and from work. This would help.

So, how do you get all the reading you want to do, done? I’d love to know.

Jan 11, 2019

Word of the Year

This time each year we Love Cats often talk about resolutions, hopes and plans for the new year. Knowing by now how limited my willpower is, I don't do resolutions, so for me it's all about the WORD OF THE YEAR.  

This year my word of the year is LIGHT.
Created by Freepik

For oh how that word can mean so many good things such as fairy lights, chandeliers, joy, glitter, happiness, ease, starlight, sunshine, rainbows, glints, glimmers, shiny things, delight, warmth, fun, laughter, a child's smile, simplicity... Letting in every ounce of light is my plan for the year. Gorgeous right?

But today I'm going to talk about a word that came really close. 

Who here has heard the Danish word "hygge"? (Pronounced hue-guh.)  Well, if you haven’t I know you’ll be glad you now have.

Here is what it means:

How lovely does that sound?!

And in order to give yourself over to hygge, you need not adopt it as a lifestyle choice, buy any special outfits, there is no set menu or adjustments to your food intake required.

It’s much more of a feeling.

Hygge simply asks that you be more present, more conscious, and that you slow down so that you might recognise those things that make you feel cosy, warm, secure, reassured, simple and content.

It could be lighting a scented candle. Making a cup of coffee or tea. Choosing a beautiful china cup from which to drink it. Covering yourself in a blanket. Eating a home cooked meal. Settling into a nook with a book.

It’s found in ritual. In making the every day into an art form. In seeing domestic life as something beautiful.

This word is my bliss. My happy place. I am a natural. I literally get goosebumps every time I think about it. For I cannot imagine of a more perfect, comforting, warm, wondrous way of choosing to see those moments that over the course of our lives we discover give us the simplest joy.

So this year, as I endeavour to let there be light, by turning my face to the sun, soaking in every one of my children's smiles, and being a conscious hyggelist, who’s with me?

Jan 9, 2019

Introducing debut author Ella Hayes

It's always exciting to welcome a brand new author to the romance community, and today I'm delighted to introduce Ella Hayes with her debut book: Her Brooding Scottish Heir. Hi Ella, it’s wonderful to have you join us today. Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication with Harlequin Mills & Boon?

 Hi Michelle, thank you for having me! There’s a bit of a story to my journey (which probably answers one of your questions below too).

I’m here now because I entered a competition that Mills & Boon were running in association with Prima Magazine in the UK. The #lovetowrite competition invited writers to submit an opening chapter and outline for either a “True Love” or “Medical” romance.
My friend, Sophie sent me a link to the competition and said I should have a go. I wasn’t sure about it to be honest. It had been years since I’d read a Mills & Boon romance… so the competition details sat on my desk for a week or two… and then suddenly I had an idea for a story! I wrote it and sent it in, not for a second thinking I had a chance. But a couple of months later, I had an email from M&B telling me I was on the short list! That’s a surreal moment – suddenly you catch yourself wondering about your chances of winning…and you keep telling yourself not to think about it. Anyway, about three weeks after that the phone rang. I was editing photos and I almost didn’t answer. (I screen calls because we get a lot of spam phone calls and I didn’t recognise the number.) I’m so glad I picked up! It was Bryony Green from Mills & Boon – when she told me I’d won the competition I almost dropped the phone! 

Her Brooding Scottish Heir is your debut romance. It’s no secret that I love the Romance line (Forever in Australia/New Zealand, True Love in the UK), but can you tell us what drew you to write for this particular line, and what it is that you love about it?

So, as I said before, I submitted to True Love because that was what M&B were looking for. (I couldn’t have written a medical without a lot of research.) I know a lot more about the True Love line now, and I think it’s a great fit for the kind of stories I like to write. I like emotionally intense stories that have a strong current of sexual tension, but I don’t want to write explicit love scenes. I admire writers who can do that, but I prefer to set things up then let the reader imagine the rest!

Is there a particular incident or inspiration that led to the writing of Her Brooding Scottish Heir? And what’s your favourite scene in the book? Would you like to share a (shortish) snippet?

The answer is YES! When I was thinking about a story, I knew I wanted to write something set in Scotland, but Scotland has a low population and a lot of space (like Australia!) so romantic plot lines don’t automatically jump out at you. Then I started thinking about an artist I follow on Facebook/Twitter. Her name is Ellis O’Connor www.ellisoconnor.com When she was an art student in Dundee she used to model part-time and a few years ago, we were booked to do a photo shoot together so we’d connected on social media. In the end, she couldn’t make the shoot, but I carried on following her because I like her work. She’s written some great blog pieces about her isolated residencies in the Hebrides and Iceland, and really it was thinking about that that gave me the idea for my Irish heroine, Milla O’Brien. Milla is seeking refuge in an isolated Scottish bothy so that she can work on her portfolio – but she’s also running away from a broken engagement. She wants to be alone to lick her wounds but instead she meets Cormac Buchanan…

When I emailed Ellis to tell her that she had inspired my character she was shocked (in a good way). She’s thrilled about it, amused, amazed. We emailed back and forth a bit – I’ve sent her a copy of the book!

Favourite scene? Gosh, I love my characters to bits, so this is tricky! I suppose the first time they are physically close (but not wanting to be physically close) is a fun bit. Milla has gone over on her ankle and Cormac has swept her up in his arms to carry her back to the house… 

    ‘You’re strong. Do you work at it?’
    He stepped over an exposed tree root. He couldn’t very well dodge her question when she was fused closer to him than his own shadow. ‘I have to be fit…for my job.’
    ‘Oh, right—Sam mentioned it. You’re in the Army—a captain or something.’
    ‘Troop Commander—I’m in the Engineers.’ He wondered what else Sam had told her.
    ‘Well it’s lucky for me you’re so— Can I rest my head against you? It’s kind of hard, holding it away.’
    She didn’t wait for him to answer but dropped her head against his. Her hair felt soft on his cheek, the clean scent of it filling his nostrils while her breath warmed his neck. He didn’t want to like it so much and lifted his head a little higher, ordering himself to ignore the sensory overload that was Milla O’Brien.
    He felt her cheeks lifting into a smile. ‘I might have guessed you were a commander.’
    ‘When you ordered me to get my wheel fixed you were kind of bossy.’
    He tried to stop the smile twitching at the edges of his lips. ‘It’s important to have a working spare.’
    ‘I know that. My father’s a motor mechanic.’
    He laughed. ‘No surprise there.’
    ‘How so?’
    ‘Not many girls I know can talk so knowledgably about air ratchets.’

That was such a fun scene! :-)

Who are your favourite contemporary romance writers (we’re all devout romance readers here so I’m just going to take it for granted that like the majority of us you love Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and Georgette Heyer :))?

Hmmm. Dare I admit that I don’t read a lot of genre romance? I’ve just completed a Master’s in Writing Practice and Study at Dundee University (my first degree was History) so my reading over the past year particularly has been heavyweight stuff. However, I do love Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice is a favourite – and I love The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller – more heartbreaking because it’s a true story! I recently read The Governess Game by Tessa Dare and I absolutely loved that! I was laughing out loud – she has a great voice and paints very likeable characters. I’ve got a few romance books on my Kindle, including Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. Now that I’ve been so thoroughly welcomed into the romance fold by the other Mills and Boon authors, one of my goals for 2019 is to read more romance – especially True Love and Historical.

And finally, we love pets of all shapes and sizes here at the LoveCats. Do any furred or feathered friends share your life…or maybe you have plans for one to grace the pages of an upcoming book?

I’m afraid I have no furry friends! We used to keep chickens but now the kids have left home there’s no point – you just get too many eggs. One of my sons had a very comical hamster called, Spud – he was a nice little thing – sweet tempered but sadly they don’t live very long. My next book won’t be featuring any pets either – I feel like I’m failing miserably here – although this time the story is set in Italy, so there’s plenty of sunshine and lots of romance! 

LOL, not failing at all! How can Italy, sunshine and romance fail? I adored Milla and Cormac's story and I'm looking forward to your next one. For anyone who'd like to grab a copy of of Her Brooding Scottish Heir, the buy links are below.

Ella, super-duper congratulations on your debut book! What do you think, folks? Does a romance set in the Scottish highlands -- in a Scottish bothy no less -- sound romantic or what? I've not been to Scotland, but I think a reading and writing retreat in the highlands sounds like a rather nice plan, yes? Join me in welcoming Ella to the romance community, and don't be shy -- if you have a question for Ella, ask away.