Sep 16, 2014

Welcome Party Winners!

Thank you to everyone who came out to help us welcome our new Cat, Stefanie London! It's been a great party.

Now, onto the winners of the prize packs:

Prize Pack 1
A pack of 10 Mills & Boon category romances, donated by Mills & Boon Australia. Thank you, M&B!

Winner: Courtney Bridge

Prize Pack 2
A pack of 6 MIRA books (single title books) donated by Mills & Boons Australia. Thank you, M&B!

Winner: Lucy Waterhouse

Prize Pack 3
Only The Brave Try Ballet, Stefanie London
Damaso Claims His Heir, Annie West 

Down Among The Dead Men, Claire Baxter (ebook)
Holding Out For A Hero, Amy Andrews (print)
Once Upon A Bride, Helen Lacey
The Rebel and the Heiress, Michelle Douglas
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, Jennifer St George (eBook)
The Shameless Maverick, Louisa George
The Summer of Jake, Rachel Bailey (eBook)
Wanting What She Can’t Have, Yvonne Lindsay 

A backlist book from Sharon Archer
Cute cat from Bronwyn Jameson (not a real one!)


Winner: Clare Scott

Prize Pack 4
Only The Brave Try Ballet, Stefanie London
A Father for her Baby & The Midwife's Son, Sue Mackay
The Bouquet List, Barbara DeLeo (eBook)
Damaso Claims His Heir, Annie West 

Once Upon A Bride, Helen Lacey
The Summer of Jake, Rachel Bailey (eBook)
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, Jennifer St George (eBook)
Wanting What She Can’t Have, Yvonne Lindsay 

A backlist book from Sharon Archer
A backlist book from Bronwyn Jameson
Cute pen set from Michelle Douglas


Winner: Lyn

Also, a bonus prize announcement: the winner of a copy of The Summer of Jake from my blog post a couple of weeks ago!

Winner: Laney

If you've won a prize, please drop me an email at rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com with your postal address and I'll arrange the prizes for you!

And, once again, welcome, Stefanie! :)

Sep 15, 2014

Welcome Party for Stefanie London!



We have very exciting news! A brand new LoveCat has joined the pride here at LoveCats Downunder. And even more exciting is that it's the fabulous Stefanie London! Paws in the air!

And we want to share the fun, so we're giving away FOUR prize packs of books. Yes, four, including two packs from M&B Australia! But first, let's get to know Stefanie a little better. 

LC: Hi Stefanie! We love to hear about animals here at the LoveCats. Can you tell us about a furry friend who's made their way into your heart?
 
I have to mention two furry friends here. Firstly, there's Romance Llama who an adorable stuffed Llama that travels around with me and sits at my writing desk. He was a gift from my husband on the sale of my first book, and since we're travelling a lot and have been living in an apartment for the last few years he's my substitute pet.

The other furry friend who's stolen my heart is my mum's dog, Cici (pronounced chi-chi). She's a gorgeous chihuahua-fox terrier cross that my mum and sister found at an animal shelter. She's got a few quirks because the shelter believe she was mistreated as a puppy, but she's the most loving, playful dog. She loves nothing more than curling up on on a lap or playing with her favourite squeaky chew toy. I love her to bits!

LC: Aw, look at that photo - Cici is gorgeous! If you could be any mythical animal, what would it be?

A Llamacorn. Half Llama, half unicorn. 100% magic.

LC: Very cool answer! Do you remember the first category book you read?

Unfortunately I don't. All I remember was that it was a Mills and Boon book that I 'borrowed' it from my mum's shelf and read it in secret. The hero and heroine got stuck in a storm and then were stranded together in a remote cabin. Cue sexy times! I would love to know what book it was so I could read it again, but sadly all my mum's old Mills and Boon books are long gone. 

LC: What about the last good category book you read?

I've read quite a few good category books so far this year. I really loved The Divorce Party by Jennifer Hayward, which was the winning book from Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write competition last year. It had everything I look for in a Presents book - drama, a dark and powerful hero, lots of conflict, glamour and angst. I also really loved Uncovered by Love by Madeline Ash, an Australian romance writer. She has such a way with words, her books have this lovely, dreamy quality and yet the conflicts are so deep and real. Her characters really leap off the page. She's definitely one to watch!

LC: What's one category book on your TBR pile that you're looking forward to?

There are SO MANY to choose from! Honestly, my TBR pile is out of control. If I had to pick one I'd say Triple Threat by Regina Kyle which is coming out with Harlequin Blaze next month. This is Regina's debut and I know her from when we were both unpublished authors chatting on the Harlequin forums, she got 'the call' not long after me and I'm so thrilled to be able to read her book. Best of all, like me she loved the arts world and has set her book around a Broadway play.

Thanks for chatting, Stefanie! And welcome aboard. We're all looking forward to getting to know you more. For the moment, however... onto the giveaways!

Prize Pack 1
A pack of 10 Mills & Boon category romances, donated by Mills & Boon Australia. Thank you, M&B!


Prize Pack 2
A pack of 6 MIRA books (single title books) donated by Mills & Boons Australia.
Thank you, M&B!


Prize Pack 3
Only The Brave Try Ballet, Stefanie London
Damaso Claims His Heir, Annie West 

Down Among The Dead Men, Claire Baxter (ebook)
Holding Out For A Hero, Amy Andrews (print)
Once Upon A Bride, Helen Lacey
The Rebel and the Heiress, Michelle Douglas
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, Jennifer St George (eBook)
The Shameless Maverick, Louisa George
The Summer of Jake, Rachel Bailey (eBook)
Wanting What She Can’t Have, Yvonne Lindsay 

A backlist book from Sharon Archer
Cute cat from Bronwyn Jameson (not a real one!)



Prize Pack 4
Only The Brave Try Ballet, Stefanie London
A Father for her Baby & The Midwife's Son, Sue Mackay
The Bouquet List, Barbara DeLeo (eBook)
Damaso Claims His Heir, Annie West 

Once Upon A Bride, Helen Lacey
The Summer of Jake, Rachel Bailey (eBook)
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, Jennifer St George (eBook)
Wanting What She Can’t Have, Yvonne Lindsay 

A backlist book from Sharon Archer
A backlist book from Bronwyn Jameson
Cute pen set from Michelle Douglas



So, I'll pass around the catnip treats, and to help us get into the party mood, tell us about the most memorable party you've been to (whether it was memorable because it was good, bad or the most recent). Everyone who leaves a comment will go into the draw to win one of the prize packs, so dive on in and help us welcome Stefanie!

Sep 14, 2014

Sunday Smooch - Annie West's 'Damaso Claims His Heir'

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from  DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR by Annie West but first 


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


Can you please contact helen(at)helenlacey(d0t)com to receive your copy of Once Upon a Bride.


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR.


Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.
But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.
Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!
                                                                                      Links to buy: Book Depository, Amazon, Harlequin.


Scene set-up
Marisa and Damaso are thrown together after they discover their single night of passion has led to pregnancy. Damaso, determined to play a role in his child's life, wants her to marry him and in the meantime has invited her to stay in his Sao Paolo home. Marisa is wary of marriage. She's learned to distrust men, having too much experience of men who tried to use her royal status for their own ends. She insists Damaso keep his distance while she makes her decision, but after weeks of living together platonically, they discover they both want more.

Smooch  -




‘I mean it, Marisa. I want you. I’ve wanted you from the moment I saw you.’ His chest rose as he drew in a shuddering breath. ‘This is about more than the baby, or what the world thinks. I don’t give a damn for the world. This is about me and you. Right now all I care about is how you make me feel, and how I make you feel.’


Despite everything she wanted to believe him. How she wanted to!

He plucked one of her hands from his chest and planted a kiss at the centre of her palm. Her knees buckled as he sucked at her flesh, sending waves of weakness through her.

‘Can’t we forget tonight and start again?’ His voice was dark, liquid temptation.

‘Why?’ Marisa clung to his shoulder for support, trying to shore up the distrust that would keep her and her child safe. ‘What is it you want?’

‘I want us to be just Damaso and Marisa. Simply that.’

Did he have any idea how perfect that sounded? How real and uncomplicated? How tempting?

Damaso’s head swooped low and with a sigh, Marisa gave up the battle she’d been losing so long.

This time when Damaso bent to kiss her, Marisa lifted her mouth to him, desire filling her. For the first time she didn’t turn aside so his lips brushed her face or her throat or the sensitive point behind her ear.

The sensation of his mouth on hers, sure and hard, demanding the response she could no longer stop, blasted her into another world.

Wave upon wave of pleasure crashed through her. She clung to broad shoulders as his marauding mouth demanded more, ever more. Her surrender elicited a growl of satisfaction from Damaso she felt right through her core as he gathered her close.

She needed this, him, filling her senses, as she couldn’t remember needing anything in her life.

Even the night they’d shared in the rainforest, giving in to instinct and reaching out to Damaso in the hope he was different from the rest, Marisa had shied from this particular intimacy. She’d shared her body but kissing on the mouth had been a step too far. It was a boundary she hadn’t crossed since her teens when Andreas had seduced and betrayed her. In her mind it had become a symbol of gullibility and defeat.

Yet now she revelled in Damaso’s hot, delving kiss, the tangle of tongues and hot breath, the flagrant openness and hunger.

There was no trace of bitterness on her tongue. Only the spicy, addictive taste of Damaso, spinning her senses out of control and a thrill, almost of triumph, in her effervescent blood.

There was something else she couldn’t name, something strong and pure, that filled her with elation and wonder.

This felt right. More than right.

She gave up trying to put a name to it as her mind fogged.

Marisa clamped her hands to the back of Damaso’s skull, revelling in the tangle of his thick, soft hair between her fingers. She angled her head to give him better access as he devoured her. His big hands held her close, his body anchoring her.

If this was defeat it was glorious.
 
Marisa and Damaso meet in a rainforest eco-resort. What's the most exotic place you've met a lover? Or if that's too personal to share, where would you like to meet one?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Anna Campbell's 'What a Duke Dares' will be posted!


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Sep 12, 2014

Sue MacKay's letter to her 16 year old self.


Dear Me,

Have you told the family you don't want to be called Susan yet? Go on, I dare you.
 
First thing I’d say is you’ve been born in a time of so much opportunity. Probably more than any generation before you. Which brings me to - be true to yourself and stop trying to please everyone else otherwise it’s going to  cost you big time. You want to study horticulture so go do it. Don’t let mum tell you you can’t. Dad will back you all the way because he’d love nothing more than for you join him in the family flower growing business and maybe take over some day. By the way, that laboratory technician training you’ve interviewed for? You will be good in the lab and even enjoy it, but it isn’t your first choice of career. And a hint on the side – this job will change so much over the years because of technology growing rapidly leaving techs less involved in diagnosis.

About dad: go with him to as many as possible of those concerts you both love. Sadly he won’t be with you for much longer and you’ll be devastated.

It’s cool that you’re playing badminton and the best bit is you’re going to improve so much you’ll play as a rep for Counties. Remember the first time you held a racket and couldn't hit the shuttle to save yourself? Your sport is your safety valve so always, always participate in some form of it. DON'T take up snake training.

 



That pesky brother? He’ll finally grow up and you’ll become best friends. Your two closest friends are going to be there forever and though you’ll move away from them, you’ll always be in touch and picking up where you last left off.

 If only you wouldn’t marry the first man to ask you but there’ll be no stopping you, because of your desire to please others. You’ll need to be strong. Remember the tough lessons you learned when you went away to boarding school at ten. They’ll get you through a lot.
Eventually you’ll hear what I’m telling you and take charge of your life. Then you’re going to fly – literally. Up into the sky, same as dad and your brother before you, though you won’t become a professional pilot like them. And the best thing? There is a hero out there for you and you will recognize him as such the moment you hear him laugh. Go for him, girl. He’s worth asking out on that first date.

 As for family – you’re going to gain a step daughter you’ll adore beyond belief. There’s also a surrogate daughter, surrogate niece, a god daughter and a self-appointed godson lining up for you later on.

 And those stories you’re always writing? Don’t stop. Remember all the encouragement dad gives you? Your hero will be just as supportive.

By the way, those legs, make the most of them. They won’t always look so good.
Whether you listen to your older self or not, you are going to have some awesome experiences, love some wonderful people, and achieve your dreams. Go grab life, Sue.

 

Sep 10, 2014

So many cupcakes…so little time

by Michelle Douglas

Remember last month, folks, when we started talking about cupcakes. It doesn’t matter if you don’t remember because the operative word in that sentence is CUPCAKES!

But to catch you up to speed, the splendid and very sweet Lyn Morris promised to test drive a tiramisu cupcake recipe she’d found in the July 2014 issue of NZ Healthy Food Guide Magazine. She deemed them a rip-roaring success and here’s the recipe:

Tiramisu Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

3 teaspoons instant coffee (measure 1) plus extra 1/2 teaspoon coffee (measure 2)
100g margarine or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
1/2 C (110g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C (200g) gluten-free baking mix (although I substituted ordinary white flour, no problem) with 1 teaspoon baking powder mixed in

50g icing sugar
200g cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon cocoa

Preheat oven to 160 degree C. Line muffin tin. Mix together first measure (3t) coffee and 1/4 cup boiling water and separately, second measure (1t) of coffee and 1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water. Leave to cool. Place butter, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions (mixture will separate). Transfer egg mixture to a large bowl. Stir in half the flour and half the first measure of coffee. Repeat with remaining flour and first coffee measure until batter combines. Divide batter among muffin-tin holes. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and leave for 2 minutes. Make 6 small holes in the top of each cupcake with a wooden skewer. Spoon second coffee measure over cupcakes reserving 1 tablespoon. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Mix icing sugar with cream cheese until smooth. Spoon or pipe mixture on tops of cupcakes. Drizzle with reserved black coffee. Dust cupcakes with cocoa and serve.

Man, don’t they look divine!



Lyn added a note: she used Jarrah Swiss Moments coffee and found she had to double the amount of coffee used. So depending on how strong you like your coffee, you might want to play around with those measures.

Thanks, Lyn, you’re a star!

Lyn inspired me to a little cupcake creativity of my own. I had a last minute request for Father’s Day cupcakes...and could they please feature caramel? Yikes! Next to no time to make them so I grabbed a readymade vanilla cupcake mix and made them up. When they were cool I cut little rounds out of the top and filled them with Nestle’s Top’ n’ Fill caramel, put the rounds back on top and dusted with icing sugar. There was nary a cupcake left last Sunday. Enough said. ;-)

Like I said… So many cupcakes, so little time. :) Has anybody else been having cupcake adventures lately?


Sep 8, 2014

Anniversaries and a Romance Novelist in Training


by Jennifer St George

My husband and I just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last night…one week late!  I love marking our wedding bliss anniversary but I’m terrible with dates and forget every year.  I know. I know. Hopeless.  Fortunately my husband usually forgets too so no harm done.

The date I remember better than our actual wedding date is our ‘look across the room and fall in love’ date.  I was back in Australia (I was living in London) for my sister’s wedding when my brother invited me to a party of his friend.  I walked into the party, looked across the room and locked eyes with my now husband. Love at second sight (we'd briefly five years earlier) is possible. 

There were however…complications. We lived on opposite sides of the world. I flew back to London five days after we met.  This was prior to the internet, so we spent a fortune on phone calls. My future husband flew to London three months later, declared his undying love and said we could easily manage a long distance relationship until he finished his speciality training in two years time!  So, we committed.

I didn’t last though.  After nine months, I arranged to complete my Masters Degree in Australia instead of the UK.  So at least we were in the same country, but not the same city.  So for the next year we travelled between Brisbane and Melbourne.  Then finally after two and half years of lots of international and domestic travel, lots of phone calls and a box full of love letters, we ended up in the same city and were married six months later.

So, that was seventeen years ago and we are still going strong. So yes, we do forget our wedding anniversary but we never forget those incredible years of anticipation of starting our lives together. Good training for a romance novelist.

Love to hear about a date that really sticks in your mind...

Sep 7, 2014

Sunday Smooch with Helen Lacey.....

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!


Today we have a smooch from Helen Lacey, but first 


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


Can you please contact Amy Andrews on amy (at) amyandrews (dot) com to receive your prize .........


And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Once Upon A Bride by Helen Lacey ........




Happily ever after…? 

When Gabe Vitali escapes to a fresh start in Crystal Point, 

Australia, the former physician isn't looking for a storybook ending. For the first time he's living in the moment. His new five-year plan does not include serious relationships. But he doesn't anticipate his unavoidable next-door neighbor…and an undeniable attraction.

Bridal consultant Lauren Jakowski wants marriage. She's just sworn off love and sex! To avoid getting burned again, she's looking for safe and forever-after. But they're not Gabe's to give–for reasons he can't share with anyone, least of all this pretty complication.

Gabe and Lauren don't figure on a fairy tale. But fate has other plans…. 








Scene set-up
[Neighbors, Lauren and Gabe have been skirting around their attraction for one another for weeks. At a charity benefit where Lauren is hosting a fashion parade, Gabe finds her alone near the staging area and they discuss a conversation they'd had days earlier]


  She stopped again as color rose up her neck. “The truth is, I’m very confused with how I should feel about you.”
  “You shouldn’t be,” he said softly. “We’re neighbors. Friends. That’s all.”
  If she hadn’t believed he was saying it to put her at ease, Lauren might have been offended. She drew in a long breath then slowly let it out. “After what happened at my parents’ house the other night, I think we’re both kidding ourselves if we believe that.”
  “What almost happened,” he reminded her. “There’s no point getting worked up over something that didn’t happen, is there?”
  Annoyance traveled up her spine. He thought she was overreacting? Imagining more between them than there actually was? She pressed her lips together for a second and gave her growing irritation a chance to pass. It didn’t. “Sure. You’re right. There’s no point. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to finish getting ready for the parade.”
  He didn’t budge. “You’re angry?”
  “I’m busy,” she said hotly.
  As she went to move past him, one of his arms came up to bar the doorway. “Wait a minute.”
  Lauren pressed her back against the doorjamb. He was close. Too close. “No. I have to—”
  “I’m trying to make this easy for you,” he said, cutting her off.
  Lauren’s gaze narrowed. “I think you’re trying to make this easy for yourself.”
  He moved, and his other arm came up and trapped her in the doorway. “Maybe I am,” he admitted softly. “Maybe I’m just crazy scared of you.”
  Scared? She wouldn’t have pegged Gabe to be a man scared of anything. Especially not her. “I don’t understand what you—”
  “Sure you do,” he said and moved closer. “You feel it, too. Don’t you know I can barely keep my hands off you?”
  Lauren had to tilt her head to meet his gaze. “So it’s just about attraction?” she managed to say in a whisper. “Just…sex.”
  Their faces were close, and his eyes looked even bluer. Lauren sucked in a shaky breath, feeling the heat rise between them against her will. She wanted to run. She wanted to stay. She wanted to lock the door and strip off her dress and tear the clothes from his body and fall down onto the carpet and make love with him over and over. She wanted him like she’d never wanted any man before.
  “I wish it was,” he said and inched closer until their mouths were almost touching. “I wish I didn’t like spending time with you. I wish I didn’t keep thinking about you every damned minute I’m awake, and could stop dreaming about you every time I go to sleep.”
  The frustration in his voice was both fascinating and insulting. He wanted her but resented that he did. Thinking of his struggle ramped up her temperature. And it made her mad, too.
  “Sorry for the inconvenience,” she said with way more bravado than she actually felt.
  “Are you?”
  She glared, defiant. “You’re an ass, Gabe. Right now I wish I’d never met you.”
  He didn’t believe it. Nor did she. He stared at her mouth. Lauren knew he was going to kiss her. And she knew he knew she wanted him, too. There was no denying it. No way to hide the desire churning between them.
  “My vow…” Her words trailed as she struggled for her good sense. “I promised myself I’d wait until—”
  “Forget your vow,” he said, cutting off her protest. “Just for right now, stop being so sensible.”
  A soft sound rattled in her throat, and Gabe drew her closer, wrapping his arms around her as he claimed her lips in a soft, seductive and excruciatingly sweet kiss. She went willingly, pressing her hands to his chest, and she felt his heart thunder beneath her palm. His mouth slanted over hers, teasing, asking and then gently taking. Lauren parted her lips a little as the pressure altered and the kiss deepened. Everything about his kiss, his touch, was mesmerizing, and Lauren’s fingertips traveled up his chest and clutched his shoulders. He was solid and strong and everything her yearning body had been longing for. When he touched her bare skin where the dress dipped at the back, she instinctively pressed against him, wanting more, needing more. He gently explored her mouth with his tongue, drawing her deeper into his own, making her forget every coherent thought she possessed. 




Ever known you shouldn't do something.....but simply had to do it?

Leave a comment to go into the draw to win a signed copy of Once Upon A Bride...

Harlequin
Amazon

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


Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver