Aug 25, 2019

Sunday Smooch - Sheikh's Royal Baby Revelation by Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch! Today we have a smooch from Annie West.

But first, the WINNER  of last week's Sunday Smooch giveaway is JM BARTON! Congratulations. To claim your prize, please contact Clare at

Desert captives for one night

Bound forever by their unexpected baby

When desert prince Ashraf was kidnapped alongside geologist Tori, their desperation to escape their life-threatening situation led to a moment of passionate oblivion. Rescued the next day, Ash was never able to discover Tori’s fate. He’s finally found her… But in their time apart, Tori has had his son! And now Ash will stop at nothing to claim them both!

Scene set-up
One night stranded with a stranger in fear for their lives, drove Tori and Ash together, only to be parted the next morning. Now, more than a year later, Ash has found her again and discovered she's had his child. Determined to acknowledge his son and provide for the feisty yet sometimes fragile woman who attracts him as no other, Ash, now Sheikh Ashraf, suggests a marriage of convenience and invites her to his homeland. Tori, determined her son with know both his parents, reluctantly agrees, but is determined to resist capitulating and entering a loveless marriage.

Smooch  -
Ashraf scooped her closer, his hard frame solid muscle against her wet body. Tori clung tight, one hand clutching his robe, the other slipping from his grasp to slide up the back of his neck.
She heard a muffled grunt of approval as her fingers channelled through thick hair to splay possessively over the back of his head.
Tori’s tongue danced with his, hunger cresting as she went up on her toes, trying to meld herself to him. His taste, his scent, his mouth were achingly familiar, as if it was just a few days since they’d made love.
Had they kissed like this in the desert? Surely not. Then they’d been strangers. Ashraf didn’t feel like a stranger now. Remarkable to think they’d been together for such a short time, for it seemed they knew each other at some deep level beyond words. He was the man who filled her thoughts and dreams. Who had done so since that night together. He was the one man who’d woken her dormant libido after the rigours and exhaustion of pregnancy and motherhood.
The man she needed as she’d never before needed anyone. The realisation made her freeze in his embrace.
Instantly he lifted his head, eyes glinting like black gems as they searched her face.
Tori heard the stertorous rasp of heavy breathing, felt her lungs heave and the push of his chest against her breasts as he too hauled in oxygen. Reaction juddered down her backbone and quivered across her skin. Being so close to him, touching him, undid her carefully cultivated caution. It allowed something wild inside her to take hold.
The air was smoky with desire, thick and scented with arousal. Yet the unspoken question was clear in Ashraf’s expression.
Did she want to stop?
Emotion swelled. As strong even as the desire emblazoned in her bones. Tenderness for this man who put her needs before his own.
Tori shivered at the enormity of her feelings. Yet she shied from investigating them too closely.
Ashraf straightened and pulled away. He’d misread her.
‘No!’ She fastened both hands on his shoulders, fingers digging into fine cotton, pads of muscle and beneath that, implacable bone. ‘Don’t.’
‘Don’t kiss you, or—?’
‘Don’t stop.’
Yet instead of closing the gap Ashraf surveyed her as if he felt none of her urgency. Only the flare of his nostrils betrayed he’d been affected too.
‘So there’s at least one thing about me you approve of.’
He wanted to talk? Frustration surged and suspicion.
‘Are you fishing for compliments?’
She spied a flicker of movement at the corner of his mouth and a tingle of delight teased her.
     ‘No. But I’ll take any you want to throw my way.’ His lips firmed. ‘You’re not a woman easily swept off her feet, Victoria Miranda Nilsson.’

I do hope you enjoy SHEIKH'S ROYAL BABY REVELATION! Leave a comment on this post to go in the draw to win a an autographed copy (no geographic restrictions).

In this story Tori is a geologist who'd been to the desert doing a survey for a mining company. It's a profession that's still male dominated and I enjoyed writing about a competent woman in that field. What occupation would you like to see for a romance heroine, or hero for that matter?

By the way, this is book 1 in my 'Royal Brides for Desert Brothers' miniseries. It's a standalone story, but if you'd like to find out what happens to Ashraf's brother, Karim, look out for DEMANDING HIS DESERT QUEEN. 

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

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Aug 21, 2019

Writer Conferences, Why I Love Them. Annie West

Every year I attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. This year was my twentieth year! So to mark the occasion, and while I’m still buoyant with energy and enthusiasm after attending the 2019 Melbourne Conference, let me share just a few of the reasons I love this event. This isn’t a complete list! (Note, rather than post from this year’s event I’ve gone back to the vaults to find photos from previous years).

Sunny Queensland in winter
1.       Travelling away from home. There’s nothing like actually getting away from the day to day routine to make you feel rejuvenated. And in winter especially, there’s something about the lure of a beach, or a vibrant city, that appeals. Because of RWA I finally got to Western Australia – somewhere I’d been meaning to visit for ages.

With the wonderful Helen Bianchin
2.       The warm welcome. I have fond memories of the year I’d sold my first book to Harlequin Mills and Boon and attended a lunch put on by the company for its writers. That was a thrill, but most especially there was the joy of receiving an ‘award’ (a comic item I still treasure) from the established authors. It was presented to me by the lovely Helen Bianchin and I couldn’t quite believe I was in such exalted company.

First sale celebrations with Elisabeth Rose, Alison Stuart, Anna Campbell and Fiona Lowe
3.       The way everyone celebrates when a writer finally achieves their dream of publication. Here I am with some authors celebrating their first sale. It was a while ago now but you may recognise some of the faces.

1920s themed cocktail party
4.       There are plenty of chances to have fun and to dress up, including at the themed cocktail parties.

Living the good life
5.       Conference time means no cooking or cleaning. Sometimes it even means room service with your feet up, listening to the waves rolling in on the beach!

Booksigning with the lovely Helene Young
6.       You get to sit with terrific writers, whether at a booksigning or participating in a workshop or listening to a panel discussion. It’s a great way to pick up information and make friends. I always come away from conferences feeling like I’ve learned something new or learned to look at something I do/or don’t do from a new perspective.

Winning the Romantic Book of the Year!
7.    Saturday Awards Night! I’ve included a photo of me here where the grin says it all. But whether you’re in the running for an award or not, it’s wonderful seeing the many writers who’ve made the effort to enter writing contests, to see the names of finalists and share their excitement, and of course, share the buzz of a win with all those winners.

LoveCats rule - Rachel Bailey, Amy Andrews and Bronwyn Jameson

It's also a fabulous chance to catch up with other LoveCats! It's often the only chance we have to meet as we live so far away. The smiles and laughter are infectious. 

I have to add the conference provides great inspiration. Anyone picking up my new book (Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation) will see a dedication to a number of women who were at last year’s RWAustralia conference. I was in the middle of writing that book and had come to a crossroads, not quite sure what direction to take. Thanks to a late night discussion with a number of wonderful authors (including some LoveCats) I went away brimming with ideas.

8.    For me this writers’ conference is an essential part of my year. I get to catch up with people who understand my love of story telling and of romance in particular. I get to commiserate and celebrate with them, to learn new things and feel like I’m part of a strong, vibrant community of talented women.

Do you have an event or group that you’d never miss? Something that makes you feel good and connected to people with similar interests?

Aug 14, 2019

New York adventures

If you follow my author page on Facebook then you’d have seen ALL the pictures I posted of my recent jaunt to Singapore and New York, and have heard some of the silly stories I told of our travels.

Like the time the New York Subway played a practical joke on Mr Douglas and me—it let him on, but not me. He stood on the train while I stood on the platform, and we waved forlornly to each other as the train pulled out. [We caught up with each other 15 mins later so don’t feel bad for me. It was, actually, hilarious.]

But I thought I’d share another “funny” story today.

St Francis Assisi Church--sweet, right?
For our first week in New York we stayed in a hotel called The Stewart. It’s across the road from Madison Square Gardens—so…pretty central. ;-) We had a view onto 31st Street and a very sweet little church, but also a view onto the building behind us. I took a peek out of this back window not long after we arrived, and the rooms in this neighbouring building were dark, with no movement, but there were figures in beds. I thought: Oh, it’s a nursing home. How deserted it looks…and lonely.

Next to the church was a building with a tree! And look up...there's a water tower.
In the wee small hours of the night—when it felt like it should’ve been day…and I was really hungry because it should’ve been day (there’s a 12 hour time difference between Singapore and New York, so the good news is you don’t have to change the time on your watch), I couldn’t help thinking about those lonely figures in those dark little rooms.

When we finally allowed ourselves to play wake ups in the morning, I said to Mr Douglas, “Do you know we’re overlooking a scene of human misery?” I told him about the scene that would greet him from our back window. I wondered aloud if we could go visit because…you know, we’re on holiday and had the time etc.

Of course, he then had to go and peek out the window too (I’m the window peeker in our relationship, him not so much). And he started to laugh!

Dear reader, he’s not a callous man. But I was shocked, I tell you—shocked! Until he revealed all. They weren’t incapacitated people in lonely beds in dark rooms but mannequins. We were looking into a medical training facility!

There's probably a moral to that story, but I have no idea what it is. ;-)

But if you do ever find yourself in New York I highly recommend the Brooklyn Lager--it was very refreshing after a day spent trudging through a city in 37C temps.

Aug 12, 2019

Carousing with the Cats

Melbourne may have been freezing with lashing rain and polar blasts, but it was warm and fabulous at the 2019 RWA conference this past weekend. I had such a brilliant time catching up with the LoveCats family who all flew into Melbourne from across the country.

Highlights included:
Clare, Jennifer and Amy
  • Watching the stunning and statuesque Annie West sweep into the Gala dinner in the most beautiful green dress
  • Hearing about Michelle Douglas’s amazing trip to New York for the RWA America conference and her being a finalist in the US Rita Awards (the highest award for distinction in romance fiction) for her book The Million Pound Marriage Deal
  • Learning more about Clare Connelly incredible ongoing success and knowing it is happening to such a beautiful person
  • Laughing at Shannon Curtis’s wit. She kept me laughing all weekend. Hilarious doesn’t come close to how funny this woman is
  • Listening to Rachel Bailey’s awesome ideas for making future conferences more fabulous and watching with awe as she works behind the RWA scenes to get things done
  • And there were so many more...

Amy Andrew's keynote speech
The weekend’s shining star was Amy Andrews. We leapt to our feet for a standing ovation when Amy became a RWA Life Member for her incredible contribution to organisation. Such a deserved honour as Amy has worked so hard for RWA including being President (twice wasn’t it, Amy?).  But, it also recognised Amy for all the incredible gifts of kindness she shows people such as mentoring aspiring writers, helping authors network and generally being an amazing, inspiring person.

Amy received not one, but two standing ovations. Her keynote speech has us falling off our chairs laughing then quickly scrambling back up to scribble down all her words of wisdom. It was the amazing Amy Andrews (along with a few other Cats!) who gave me the confidence to take writing seriously and go for it.

I’m now flying back to work (aarrrhhh) truly inspired but also sad we won’t be doing that again for another year.  Something to look forward to.

How about you? What did you get up to over the weekend?

Aug 4, 2019

Sunday Smooch with Clare Connelly (Whoops, it's late!)

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Clare Connelly but first......the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is .... Laurie!   

Please contact Amy Andrews to receive your prize!

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from REGRET ME NOT!

One sexy night with consequences...

It was one single night of passion with a mysterious stranger, but when Elodie Gardiner realises she’s pregnant, she naturally intends to tell her billionaire lover – only before she can do so, she discovers a very pressing reason to keep their baby a secret! 

Three years later, ruthless tycoon Fiero Montebello receives a shocking call from a London hospital. The woman he slept with three years ago is in a serious condition in ICU – and the son he never knew he had is in the crèche!  

Family is everything to Fiero and there’s no way he’s going to let his son be raised anywhere than under his roof – even if that means his one-time lover is a part of that. He can never forgive her for keeping their child a secret, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still want her. This seduction is a dangerous game laced with resentment and hurt… 

Scene set-up

This is a secret love-child romance (one of my favourite tropes) and the baby daddy in question, Italian Billionaire Fiero Montebello is, understandably, furious to discover he has a two year old he never knew about. The result of a passionate one-night-stand, this scene is the immediate aftermath of his discovery and shows how he's processing the news and trying to work out how to fit all the pieces together. I absolutely love this book but I'd have to say Fiero's fiery nature (see what I did there?) has made him my most polarising hero to date! He's a big tough alpha but don't worry, he's got a heart of gold in there and you do get to see it by the end of the book ;)  I'm giving away an e-book copy of the book (sorry, it's only in digital because NYC with fellow love-cats Amy Andrews and Michelle Douglas has meant no time for boring things like checking the formatting of print files, WHOOPS!). 

Smooch  - 

“I made a mistake.” 
Christosi, you made a mistake. And now you’re asking me to forgive and forget.” 
She swept her eyes shut, knowing what a monumental task that would be for him. “For Jack.” 
“Yes, for Jack.” He ground his teeth together, and she was conscious, out of nowhere, of how close they were to one another. His long fingers were curled around her wrists, and every time he sucked in a breath his chest moved forward to brush against her nipples. 
The last thing she’d expected to feel for this man ever again, and especially in that moment, was desire, but there it was, turning her blood to lava and her knees to jelly. 
Something in the air around them shifted, changing so that she was conscious of him in a way that was all-consuming and definitely not one-sided. She saw the way his eyes changed, his pupils flexing, his lids lowering; she saw his lips part and felt his warm breath fan her temples and her own lips mirrored his, separating and pushing a soft breath from her lungs.
“You should have told me about him.” And despite the anger he’d thrown at her, the fury, the threats, her stomach looped because she felt what was at the root of everything he’d said and done: devastation. 
He was devastated. 
She sobbed, but he lifted a finger to her lips, and she gasped in surprise, the touch totally unexpected. 
“Stop crying.” 
She shook her head a little. “I can’t.” 
His hands cupped her face then, holding her completely still, and her hands, now free, dropped to her side. “I will never forgive you for keeping my son away from me.” 
His words were like acid and his touch was like silk. She couldn’t fathom how she felt. 
“But it appears I cannot make the same decision you did. I will not push you out of his life.” Her heart turned over in her chest. 
His thumb padded over her lower lip and her heart rabbited against her ribs for another reason now. Despite the seriousness of this conversation, she could barely concentrate. 
“You and Jack will move into my house.” The words were devoid of emotion. “For six months, you will live with me, to see if we can do it your way – and raise him together.” 
It was more than she’d expected. Different to what she’d hoped and yet it made a strange kind of sense. “We’ll live together?”
His eyes flashed. “For Jack’s sake, yes, but you and I will remember the truth, Elodie. We will know what we think and feel, no matter how much effort we go to for the happiness of our son.” 
His head dropped a little lower, his eyes scanning hers. “You will know that when I smile, it means nothing. That my anger and hatred for your decisions are still inside of me, weighing down on me with the pressure of every single day of Jack’s life I have missed.” 
Salty tears clogged her eyes. 
“You will know, when we look at Jack and laugh, like normal parents, that it’s a lie.” 
Her lips parted on a gasp, or perhaps the start of a plea, a desire to make him stop talking like this. “And you will know that if I kiss you, Elodie, it is because of the same chemistry that drove us together that night, and nothing more. You will know that I will never like you as a person, that I will never forgive you for your decisions.” 
She didn’t get a chance to speak. His lips claimed hers and she moaned, knees that had been jelly for long, aching minutes giving way so she would have collapsed to the ground if it weren’t for his arm clamped vice-like around her back, holding her to his body, binding them together. 
And they were bound together. By their son, and by something else, something that lodged inside Elodie and refused to let go. 
“Don't.” She shook her head but didn’t pull back. She didn’t want to. 
Her brain was screaming at her to put some distance between them but her body…oh, her traitorous, treacherous body. Everything shook and trembled inside of her, and her hands were lifting and tangling in his hair of their own accord. She remembered this so well – the feeling of her body pressed to his. The height difference meant she had to push right up to be able to reach, but his hands curved around her waist and lifted her the rest of the way, holding her to him, her feet off the floor, as though it was the only way they could exist. 
His words were still hammering inside of her, the disdain he felt for her evident in every single one, but her body was desperate, hungry, and for a moment, she willingly pushed away common sense and simply existed. She felt rather than thought.
His kiss dominated her. 
It was only afterwards that she realised it was a punishing kiss, designed to draw submission from her, to show her his pain, even when it was a pain she already understood. But punishing or not, the kiss swirled the waters of her soul so she was whimpering into his mouth before she realised it, and only just stopped herself from moaning, ‘please’, into the room. 
Her intense need was a wake up call. 
With a fierce burst of reason, she pushed at his chest, separating them now, her feet finding the floor physically and metaphorically, shock at what had just happened causing her to lift trembling fingers to her lips as though she could wipe his kiss away. 
It was some very small consolation that he looked as shocked as she felt. 
“Don’t,” she said again, but this time, she meant it. “Don’t you dare kiss me.” 

F0r a chance to win a digital copy of REGRET ME NOT leave a comment below. Bonus points, tell me if you love alpha heroes or not? They're 100% my jam, I love them. Michelle Reid wrote some of my all-time favourites, but pretty much any Harlequin Presents hero floats my boat. What about you?! Alpha or Beta or Cinnamon Roll!? 'Til next time, LoveCats, meowy mwahs. x