Nov 30, 2012

Special Guest: Imelda Evans talks about Melbourne

First, thank you so much ladies for having me on the Lovecats!  I am a big fan of you all so it’s a great honour to be invited.

I wanted to share with you today a bit about the setting of my debut novel with Destiny Romance, Rules are for Breaking

Rules are for Breaking is set in Melbourne, which, for those who don’t know, is the capital city of Victoria, Australia and my adopted home town.  

I’m a big believer in setting.  I like to be able to visualise the houses my characters live in and the places where they work and play – basically anywhere that’s important to the story.  I’m weirdly fussy about it.  I’m quite happy to plunge into a story without knowing the colour of a character’s eyes or hair, but I’ll spend hours wandering town looking for a building that looks like a good home for my heroine’s business, or drawing the floor plan of her flat.  (Some might say that I spend too long, but is it my fault that my fantasies tend to real estate?  I think not.  It’s research, I say!  Very important for writers. ;) )

In the case of Rules are for Breaking I had ample scope for fun research, because buildings are quite important in this story.  Quite without me meaning them too, the buildings that are most associated with my two lovers became metaphors for their differences and, in the end, for the things they had in common.

Jo, my heroine, is an art dealer and the story opens in her art gallery.  In the story I don’t specify exactly where the gallery is, or what it looks like, but, like most of my settings, it had a real-life inspiration. 

I discovered ‘Jo’s gallery’ many years ago, not long after I moved to Melbourne – although I didn’t know then that it would star in a story one day.  I was just trying to get a feel for the city. 

I didn’t have a car in those days, so I walked everywhere.  I hoofed it to Italian in Lygon St and Laksa in Chintatown; I strolled south across the river to the Botanical Gardens and back north to loiter in the grand domed reading room of the State Library; I explored the Paris end of Collins St and, one fateful day, I wandered up Bourke St, in search of the coffee with a side order of flirting that no-one does quite like Pellegrini’s.

The Eureka Tower on Southbank in Melbourne
And there it was: on the corner of Bourke and Exhibition Sts, next to Hill of Content, one of my favourite bookshops.  A commercial art gallery, a thing I had not previously known existed (I was young at the time, remember).  It was selling Aboriginal art (and still does) and I remember lusting after many of the pieces, which were lovely but well out of my price range.

But even more than the art, I remember coveting the space.  It’s not enormous, but it is white of wall, high of ceiling and flooded with light and in that moment I, who wouldn’t know good art from guano and who shudders at the idea of running any kind of retail outfit, wanted to own it.

The Eureka Tower on Southbank in Melbourne
I soon left and forgot my crazy impulse, but when I came to write a story about Jo, a young Melbournite lucky in her profession, but unlucky in love, oddly enough she turned out to be an art dealer with a gallery that looked, at least in my head, exactly like that one I first saw in Bourke street 20 years ago.  (Which just goes to show that you should never annoy a writer because they apparently don’t forget EVER and EVERYTHING is material.) 

Jo has poured her heart and soul into that gallery.  She has built her whole life around it and the quiet, genteel, old, simple, low-rise building it lives in.  She’s happy in it – mostly. 

And then in swans Declan, an engineer from Sydney who spends his working life building tall, ultra-modern and complicated buildings, like the one pictured in the photos.

On the surface, they have nothing in common.  But ironically, it is through his ridiculously tall, loud, almost brash, building that he starts to make her see that maybe they share more than she thinks.  Enough for unexpected friendship.  And maybe even love.

Rules are for Breaking is a contemporary romance about two stubborn people who have to learn that they can’t run their love lives the way they run their businesses if they want a happy ending.  It’s also a story about buildings and music and picnics and rock-climbing and how you know when you’ve found ‘The One’.  It’s available now from Destiny Romance and I hope you like it!

Thanks for visiting us, Imelda! Melbourne is one of my favourite cities, so it was great to hear more about it, *and* to hear more about your debut book - it sounds like a whole heap of fun.

If you want to find out more about Rules Are For Breaking, you can see it on Destiny's website. You can visit the lovely Imelda on Facebook or Twitter or pop over to her website.  

Nov 28, 2012

When girls go wild -- well, on holiday, anyway...

I'm just back from a girls weekend away in Queensland with two of my besties. It's the first time in a long time I can remember getting a on a plane for totally non-work reasons.

One of my dear friends moved to Queensland a year or two ago. She used to live in the next suburb over. That was quite a loss. My other friend has lived interstate for many years now, so we've adapted to the distance thing. But getting the three of us together is rare and very special.

What did we do?

Not much, to be honest.

Even my feet got to relax.
There was a lot of talking. And eating. And some drinking too: cups of tea out in the backyard under the shade of a tree with books (or Kindles), then a late afternoon gin and tonic.

It seems that in any girls' gathering I'm involved in, I somehow end up adopting the role of bartender. I don't know why that would possibly be. ;) But I perfected two new drinks this trip. One, a refreshingly icy cocktail I'm definitely going to be making more of this summer. Mix roughly the same amounts of vodka (or gin), lime juice and elderflower cordial in a glass over ice. Top up with soda water. Drink. Yum!

Lest you begin to think it was a total booze fest, I also made a wonderful non-alcoholic fruit punch.
I can't be held responsible if someone "accidentally" tipped a little
gin into it while I wasn't looking, can I?
We did do a little sight-seeing too. There was plenty of beach and sea to look at, which is always wonderful. And an amazing array of other people's homes to view and discuss and critique and lust after. There were several waterfront properties that I'd quite happily call home, should Mr Tattersalls ever decide to bless me with a jackpot.

And, being Bundaberg, we of course had to visit its most famous export.
I think I'm meant to be tickling his tummy. That's
what polar bears like, isn't it?
Can't say I've ever been a fan of the stuff, but the marketing is out of this world. There was an entire shop of stuff that has this critter on it in some shape or form.

Now, the hardest part following a week of fun like this is getting back into the swing of things! Luckily Melbourne has decided to put on some warm weather, so I'm not having too much trouble adjusting. Although my out-of-control "to do" list might tell a different story!

Valerie Parv Winner Is ............

Congratulations to Amelia Elias! ..... Who is the very lucky winner of the $50.00 Amazon voucher courtesy of the lovely team at Corvallis Press.

Amelia, please contact me on mail (at) helenlacey (dot) com and I will put you in touch with Valerie so you can claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who dropped in to see Valerie during her visit.

Nov 26, 2012

The Dog behind the Dawg

Out now in Australia
I've had a heap of reader feedback about Deputy Dawg, the beautiful but damaged canine companion in Slow Dance with the Sheriff. Seems like he's really resonated with people. So I'm hoping readers will enjoy the FREE epilogue to that story which is entirely in Deputy's point-of-view. You can read it on my website now.

But I wanted to share with you the dog-behind-the-Dawg. I modelled poor, damaged Deputy on my own big fella (pictured below), Mr Snufalupagus.  His appearance, his habits, his Bernese Mountain Dog traits.

For no particular reason we picked ourselves a really sensitive pup six years ago at the breeders. He was immediately the one we both were drawn to and he was so snuggly and connected when he looked up at us. There really was no question. And at the time we were surprised that the breeder was letting him go because he had A-1 markings and (as it turned out later) perfect elbow scores (elbow scores are important in big dog breeds because they're a solid marker to whether a dog is going to have problems with weight-bearing and arthritis later in life).  The lower the score, the more desirable from a breeding point of view. Our boy's score was a perfect zero.

Mr Snufalupagus (6 weeks)

So we couldn't believe our luck that they were willing to let this beautifully marked, skeletally perfect little man go to a pet home.

But as he grew up into the gorgeous, obliging boy that he is it was obvious that the breeders knew what they were doing. He has the most amazing, relaxed and gentle nature--he'd be the perfect dog to have around kids, if we had them--but with that comes some traits I've never seen in a dog I've owned (and I've had dogs all my life).

Essentially, he cannot handle being 'in charge'.  Lovecats readers might remember last year when we lost our little fella, Larry, to congestive heart failure. Well Larry's departure threw our poor big fella into paroxysms of anxiety, as if he thought the whole family was going to turn our attention on him and ask him to protect the pack and make decisions and generally be in charge. Despite everything we did to help him transition through the loss of Larry, he began to demonstrate major signs of stress (which I basically took verbatim and put them into Slow Dance with the Sheriff when Deputy has his big meltdown). It was very sad and he was terribly unhappy.

Yet he was still having the same love-filled, safe and comfortable life as before. He just really, really, really couldn't deal with the responsibility of being alpha.

So when our newest little girl came trotting along (literally--she was found trotting down the emergency lane of a six lane freeway out in the middle of nowhere) she took charge (cos she's pushy like that) and Mr Snufalupagus just about wept with relief. The two of them are BFFs now and she pushes him around and he ADORES her.

Not every dog I've owned in the past displayed the obvious alpha qualities, but even those that didn't were still socially confident, capable dogs. They were reasonably resigned to not being number one in the pack and the system worked well.  So this is the first time I've ever met a dog who would so willingly go to the back of the line even if no-one else was in it.

But that just makes him all the more special and precious to us, and whatever it was that the breeders saw in his temprement that made him go on the 'pet' list also makes him the biggest, snugliest, and most lovingly devoted dog you could ever hope to meet. Just so long as you aren't in some kind of crisis situation. Pretty sure he wouldn't cope in a crisis. But his good nature makes him emminently trainable, and he has a singular focus and astonishing nose that would make him great for something like tracking.

So those are the qualities I poured into Deputy Dawg on the page. The skills, the love, the loyalty, the deep-down damage, and I loved the way his doggie issues ended up reflecting the issues of his 'people'. And that, together, they all healed each other.

Have you ever had someone in your fur-family that was extra 'special' for one reason or another? Was it a mystery or do you know why they were the way they were? I'd love to 'meet' them here.

Nov 25, 2012

Sunday Smooch with Helen Lacey ......

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Marriage Under The Mistletoe by Helen Lacey, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Cecilia83!

Congratulations, Cecilia! Can you please contact Louisa George at

louisageorge32 (at) gmail (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of The War Hero's Locked Away Heart.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from  Marriage Under The Mistletoe by Helen Lacey ...

Strong. Sensible. Dependable. That was Evie Dunn's type. Certainly not young, fearless, gorgeous firefighter Scott Jones. She knew the wisest course was to keep her distance, but she couldn't resist the allure of a holiday fling. Now the widowed single mom found herself with an unexpected post-Christmas gift—she was having Scott's baby!

Scott came to Crystal Point to see his sister tie the knot, not fall for the alluring owner of the town's oceanfront B and B. He knew he was all wrong for Evie, but he would do anything to win her heart and build the family he'd always wanted. All he had to do was persuade Evie to take the biggest risk of her life…on love.

(Evie and Scott are returning from visiting family and start discussing the argument they'd had earlier that week. But with the attraction between them at fever pitch, it isn't long before arguments are forgotten.....]

He turned the car into the driveway and braked outside the studio.
She twisted in her seat when the car came to a halt. “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t mean to come across all bossy and patronizing.”
              Scott smiled and killed the engine. “Sure you did.”
              She smiled back. “Well, maybe. But I shouldn’t have. I sometimes forget that I don’t have all the answers. You came here for your sister’s wedding, not lectures from someone who wouldn’t have a clue what it must be like to put your life on the line every day.”
            “Apology accepted,” he said. “Though I probably deserved it.”

“Perhaps a little,” she said, and smiled. “And about before…what I said about Trevor. I’m not complaining…not really…it’s only that sometimes,” she said, suddenly seeming incredibly young and vulnerable. “I feel like I’m stuck in this role of being a certain kind of person. A certain kind of woman. And as that woman I always do what’s expected, what’s the right thing. I get this sense that being…I don’t know…suffocated almost…as if I’ve suffocated myself by being who I am. I’ve built this orderly, safe life which at times feels like a jail cell.”
Scott’s heart thundered beneath his ribs. “And what, Evie? You want to break out?”
She shrugged a little. “I think about it. I think what it might be like to be…I don’t know…different.”
Heat filled the space between them, flicking into life, energizing the air with its tiny atoms. Even in the dim light Scott could see the brightness of her eyes, the way her lips parted slightly, as though she was about to say something, as though she wanted to…to… He shook the feeling off, knowing he was nuts to keep thinking about her in that way. But he wanted to kiss her so much. He wanted to feel the skin on her shoulders beneath his hands, he wanted to taste the delicate spot behind her ear and then go lower, past her throat and lower still, to breasts he knew, without ever having touched them, ever having had them pressed naked against him, were glorious and round and sensitive and made for his hands and mouth. He wanted to kiss her ribs, her belly, her thighs… He wanted to bury his mind, his body, in the softness of her skin. He was more aroused than he could ever remember being in his life, and she hadn’t even touched him!
“You better make a run for it,” he said, more groan than words.
She obviously heard him, but remained where she was, drawing in breath. “I should, yes.”
Scott inhaled deeply and the scent of her ripped through his blood. If he moved a few inches she would be in his arms. And she wouldn’t resist—he felt that with mind-blowing certainty. “Last chance.”
She turned, easing toward him. Scott raised one hand and touched her cheek. He didn’t imagine the way her lips parted, or the way her tongue rested on her white teeth. The need to kiss her, possess her surged across his skin. And he didn’t have to wait. She came willingly, moving her body across the space dividing them and pressed her mouth to his. Scott responded instantly, taking her lips in a searing kiss that rocked him to the very core. His hands moved to her shoulders and he molded the delicate bones beneath his palms. The kiss went on, drugging, hot, kicking at his libido like a jackhammer. She moaned low in her throat as he cupped the underswell of her breast. Heat radiated through the T-shirt she wore and Scott felt her nipple peak against his thumb.
I haven’t made out in a car since I was a teenager.
 And I shouldn’t be doing it with a woman like Evie.
The realization was like a bucket of cold water.
“Evie,” he said hoarsely. “We should stop. This isn’t the place—”
She wrenched free as he spoke. “You’re right,” she said, and pulled herself into a sitting position. She  grabbed the door handle and pushed herself out of the car. He watched her race toward the house, her incredible hips swinging in her jeans. Within seconds she’d opened the front door and disappeared into the house. He stayed where he was, willing his body to play fair and return to normal.
It took a while. And it gave him a chance to think. The struggle to ignore his feelings for Evie was getting more and more difficult.
It’s getting damn well impossible.
He didn’t want them. Or need them. Feelings only blurred his focus. And lack of focus in his line of work could prove deadly. He’d seen evidence of that firsthand. Mike had lost his edge. Scott wasn’t about to make the same mistake. Every instinct he had told him to back off from Evie. He couldn’t do serious, and she deserved better.
I will not get involved.
And I really should have moved to a hotel.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of Marriage Under The Mistletoe, leave a comment about what you love most about Christmas?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Winter Fusion by Anna Hackett will be posted!

Nov 21, 2012

Legends On LoveCats . . . . Valerie Parv

On LoveCats DownUnder today we have the wonderful Valerie Parv. Valerie is truly one of our greatest romance legends and we are all delighted that she is with us to answer our questions.

1/ Please tell us a little about your journey to first getting published?

When I started writing romance novels, there was very little information available about markets and editorial needs. I think if I’d known that for every 10,000 books submitted, Harlequin’s London office was accepting about ten in a good year, I may have been daunted. But probably not. My motto has always been “bite off more than you can chew, and chew like crazy.” I believe in writing what you love, never tongue in cheek or to meet a market. This believe no doubt led to my first acceptance,  Love’s Greatest Gamble, which broke a few moulds at the time.

 Every year of my career has seen me try something different, starting with non fiction books such as Growing and Using Herbs (my very first published book) to my writing guides, most notably The Art of Romance Writing and Heart and Craft, the anthology I edited containing practical advice and experience from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best-loved romance writers. Lately I’ve ventured into near-future romantic suspense with Birthright, which features what Erica Hayes calls, “aliens and evil astronauts” set in my fictional south pacific kingdom of Carramer.

2/ How many books have you had published so far in your career?

Over 50 novels, 25 nonfiction titles, novellas, dozens of short stories for major magazines, an award-winning travel documentary and most recently, a movie script currently in pre-production.

3/ The world of publishing is ever evolving, how have you stayed on top of trends and continued to give your readers what they want?

I believe a good, page-turning story is always key, no matter whether it’s in an ebook, a movie script, a print book or a holonovel (still waiting for that though). I’m always interested in what’s happening in the world. For many years I belonged to the World Future Society. I’ve also been a Star Trek fan since forever, helping to organise conventions in Sydney and once entertaining actor, George Takei, in my then-unrenovated terrace house in inner Sydney. Low light, lots of candles and champagne made that work, not to mention a life-sized Dalek.  I love Twitter @ValerieParv and Facebook, and blogging, just wish there were more hours in the day to keep up with it all *and* still write.

4/ What has been the highlight of your publishing career so far?

I still get a kick out of holding each new book, or in the case of Birthright, linking to its shiny new Amazon page. The print edition will be along soon. And I love seeing new translations of my work including my favourites, the Japanese manga editions.  A career highlight was speaking at RT Book Reviews Convention in Los Angeles last year, where I was presented with a Pioneer of Romance Award, the first Australian author to be so honoured. Being invited to become an Australia Day Ambassador is also a special thrill. 2013 will be my sixth year.

5/ Which of your books is your favourite, and why?

That’s like asking a mother to choose a favourite child. My favourite is usually either the one I’ve just finished, because it feels so good having it in existence, or the one I’m about to embark on, because everything is still possible and the hard grind of producing words has still to set in.

6/ Are you a plotter or a panster?

I started out the most fanatical plotter in existence. I would outline, then outline my outlines until they grew into books. With experience I learned to let my characters guide me through their story. I start out with an idea of the overall story arc but am open to unexpected twists and turns as they reveal themselves to me. I’ve also learned that if a character throws something at me out of left field, such as a hobby or sibling I didn’t know they had, it’s best to let it stand. Invariably, it will turn out to be exactly what the story needs, nudged along by my subconscious.

 7/ What’s the one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

 Write what you love even if it’s not what the market currently wants. Eileen Dreyer was on the panel I chaired at RT and said her editor many years ago had told her Harlequin wasn’t ready for a dead body in a Harlequin romance, especially not one that had caught on fire. These days we’d call it a romantic suspense or a paranormal, depending on what caused the flames. I had a similar experience with a hero who just might have arrived by UFO – Star Trek influence here LOL. The book, The Leopard Tree, got all the way through Acquisitions until Alan Boon decided UK readers weren’t ready for a UFO in a romance. The book was published by their sister house, Silhouette, in the US and started me on a career that led directly to my new romantic suspense. Sometimes you just have to write other stories and wait for the market to catch up with you.

 8/ What do you love most about being a romance author?

What I love about being an author in general is the freedom to create your own worlds; to right the wrongs we can’t do a lot about in real life; and to make things come right in the end, as they rarely do in life. I love the meme going around the net which says, “I’m a writer. What’s your superpower?”
Thank you Valerie for answering our questions.
To celebrate the release of Valerie's latest release Birthright, the lovely team at Corvallis Press is giving away a fabulous $50.00 Amazon voucher to one lucky commenter!
Birthright, a near-future romantic suspense, available now on Amazon

Nov 19, 2012

Romantic meets...

Writers are always told...start your story where there is a moment of change. Usually, in a romance, that is the moment the hero and heroine meet for the first time. In all five of my books my hero and heroine meet at work and start out as colleagues. (I guess I need to work on something new now, huh?). Although, they don't always know they're colleagues right at the start ;-)

But this is, apparently, the most common way of meeting a spouse. It's certainly the way I met my hubby. He was a dashing junior doctor and I, a fledgling third year nurse....we met on a medical ward and although it wasn't 'love' at first sight, apparently my husband went home and said to his friends, 'I've just met the girl I'm going to marry' -*sigh* cue cringe-worthy romantic violins.

One thing I like about the work scenario is the 'how do we carry out our liasons and then cope at work on a day-to-day basis?' questions and 'what will happen if we do...and then we break up? How would we work together?'  This can bring a lovely layer to conflict.  (note to anyone single- a junior doctor tends to move round specialties a lot- so there's only a short amount of worry time).

According to this website the second most likely place to meet a 'mate' is through friends. Indeed, in a mini survey of my own friends quite a few were set up on blind dates/ dinner parties etc- but they didn't always end up with the person intended to be their match! Personally I've never acted as a matchmaker- well, except on paper, but I'd love to!

The third most popular place to meet a partner is online. As a writer this brings a zillion wonderful thoughts to mind- but it's possibly worthy of only one book.

So I'm now trying to think of novel and fun ways of getting my characters to meet without being cliched or just downright boring - but it gets harder and harder to be original!

Me and The Doc on our wedding day
Why am I thinking about this today? Well, it's our 19th wedding anniversary today. I guess, in the end, it's not how you meet it's how much love you share. And that's just something that you can only know with time.

To help spread a few more warm fuzzies today, tell me what's the most romantic true get-together story you know? How did you meet your partner? Or have you ever acted as  a matchmaker- and how did that work out?

Nov 18, 2012

Sunday smooch from The War Hero's Locked-Away Heart!

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart by Louisa George, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Clare Scott!

Congratulations, Clare! Can you please contact Nikki Logan at

Nikki (at) nikkilogan (dot) com

and she'll send you a copy of A Puppy For Christmas.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heartby Louisa George

Reaching for the stars with nurse Skye...

Haunted by the ghosts of his fallen comrades, ex-army medic Adam Miller hopes to find salvation in beautiful Atanga Bay. Yet despite his intense attraction to feisty nurse Skye Williams, Adam's determined never to get close to anyone ever again. But with Skye by his side maybe it's time to put the past to rest for good...

 Set up: Practice Nurse Skye is leaving down in a couple of weeks to have an adventure overseas. Paramedic Adam's just arrived to finally settle down, so neither is in the position to start anything. After an emotionally intense day delivering her friend's baby Skye invites Adam in...

‘The boys don’t want me to go.’

‘I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t want you to go either.’
‘Oh? What do you mean?’ Her heart jerked a little, wondering what he meant by such a bold statement. Was it her imagination or had he leant a fraction closer? His fresh male scent reached her senses. So different to the tangy smell of boys, Brian’s cloying cologne, her step-dad’s sweat. Adam had an earthy scent, fresh air, the sea. Sex.
She inhaled and allowed her imagination to wander. Along a dangerous path, with deep crevasses on either side. She didn’t want to think like this, imagine he might be attracted to her. Imagine what it might be like to have him hold her. And more. It hadn’t worked out too well last time she’d been down that route and she’d ended up with nothing but pain.
‘They won’t be able to cope without you. You do way too much for them. How about you write a new chapter for everyone in this house?’
‘I have.’ She let the breath out slowly. Rerouted to a safer course. ‘It’s entitled: I’m leaving.’
‘Yes, you are.’ He pushed the scrapbook behind him, out of sight. His hands reached to her face, stretching work-worn fingers along her hairline and very gently pulling her towards him. When her face was a heartbeat away from his he whispered into her ear, his breath sending shivers along her spine, pooling in her abdomen where a fire raged. ‘So this is going to be a very dumb move.’

Vanilla filled the air around him. Drunk on the smell and fuelled by the whiskey Adam inched closer. ‘But, God knows, I can’t help it.’
Skye’s dark eyes stayed locked with his, an expression of surprise and desire written there. She didn’t pull away. She didn’t move an inch.
He wanted her. The urge to wrap his hands around her curves almost threatened to suffocate him. The thought blew him away. He hadn’t been prepared for this.
A drink, sure. A friendly nightcap between colleagues. But not this. This insatiable need for her, risen out of nowhere. Out of her smile, and her voice and hidden sadness that he could see even though she tried to bury it. Out of the misguided love she showed her brothers and the unquestioning loyalty to her family. The need to be loved and cared for. It should have set alarm bells ringing. But he wanted a piece of her optimistic spirit. Of her.
He scraped his chair forward and slid his knees to either side of her thighs, fitted himself into her space. His heart raged a thunderous beat as he took what he realised he'd been aching for since the moment he’d seen her.
He pressed his lips onto her mouth. Dumb?
And then some. But since when had he ever played safe?
A moment’s hesitation and a quiet ‘Oh,’ then her arms snaked up and round his neck. Her soft body pressed against him. Four years and of all the women he’d been with no-one had come close to igniting so much as a flicker. And then along came Skye.
The moment his lips touched hers doubt and confusion disappeared. Thought and reasoning melted away. Her mouth shaped to his. Her lips were soft and wielding, chaste almost. He traced tiny kisses along her mouth wanting to be gentle, to lead her along a path filled with tenderness.
Slowly. Slowly for both their sakes. Although, the ache in his groin and the acid in his veins warned him of his intense need. A need that had germinated when he first saw her and had swelled ever since.
She slid tentatively forward, straddled his thighs and opened her mouth to him, more confident now as a quiet moan escaped her throat. Her innocent playfulness cemented to something more intense, passionate. ‘Adam. You taste so good.’
God.’ His hands molded to her back as he pressed against her, feeling the sensual dips and curves of her spine, the slope of her bottom, the rasp of black lace against his skin.
A tiny uncertain flick of her tongue against his reminded him of how unsure she’d seemed. How much hurt she’d endured at the hands of her father and her ex.
A kiss didn’t promise a lifetime, but to Adam it meant a commitment of sorts. Not wham, bam thank-you, Mam. Not for Skye.
 She deserved better. She deserved someone who was capable of sharing her life. Someone different. He couldn’t travel with her and he wouldn’t think about her staying.
He couldn’t do a short fling, however tempting, not with someone who invoked such intense emotions in him.
He pulled back, cupped her cheek. ‘We can’t…I’m sorry.’

Her dusky smile slipped as she stared at the space he’d made then bit the corner of her bottom lip. 

Once again hesitation and confusion flashed across her eyes. Her breathing levelled. She slid back and stood up. ‘Sorry for what?’ 

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of The War Hero's Locked-Away Heart, tell us, have you ever done something completely out of character- and how did it work out for you?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from Marriage Under The Mistletoe by Helen Lacey will be posted!

Nov 16, 2012

The Magic Of Mistletoe ...... And The Winner is Laney4!

By Helen Lacey
Laney, please contact Helen on mail (at) helenlacey (dot) com to to collect your prize!

 My second Harlequin Special Edition book, Marriage Under The Mistletoe, released this month (Dec in the Aus/NZ) And as you can tell from the title it is a Christmas story. Woven between the romance is an ornately decorated tree, wrapped presents and of course mistletoe. But, since we don’t get mistletoe in Australia, I had to make do with the plastic variety for my hero and heroine to smooch beneath.

So I thought it might be fun to find out exactly where and when the tradition of stealing a kiss beneath this innocuous little plant started from.

Thank you Mr Google and MR Wikipedia - Mistletoe, it seems, had a long and complex history. European mistletoe, figured prominently in Greek Mythology and is there is also believed to be a link to the Romans.  And then there’s the link to that old Norse bad boy Loki and various other Norse legends. According to Wikipedia in cultures across pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence – go figure! And those mighty Celts (perhaps my Welsh ancestors) considered it a remedy for barrenness in animals and an antidote to poison.

Apparently, when Christianity became widespread in Europe after the 3rd century AD, the religious or mystical respect for the mistletoe plant was integrated into the new religion. In some way that is not presently understood, this may have led to the widespread custom of kissing under the mistletoe plant during the Christmas season. The earliest documented case of kissing under the mistletoe dates from 16th century England, a custom that was apparently very popular at that time. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia)
The type of Mistletoe used during Christmas celebrations is of the same type as that believed to be sacred by ancient druids, but, outside northern Europe the plant used is not the same species. The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration in North America grows as a parasite on trees in the west as also in those growing in a line down the east from New Jersey to Florida. In Europe, where the custom originates, the 'original' mistletoe, is still used. The European mistletoe is a green shrub with small, yellow flowers and white, sticky berries which are considered poisonous.

According to ancient Christmas custom, a man and a woman who meet under a hanging of mistletoe were obliged to kiss. And what a fabulous custom it is!

Do you have a mistletoe story you’d like to share? Or maybe just a happy Christmas story? To celebrate the release of Marriage Under The Mistletoe I have a copy to give away to one commenter.

Nov 14, 2012

Animal Antics

by Michelle Douglas

Oh, I’ve met some interesting animals recently!

Last month the hubby and I drove from Newcastle to Melbourne, put the car on the Spirit of Tasmania, and spent 2 weeks in Hobart. Now I could wax lyrical about the beauty and grandeur of Lakes Pedder and Gordon, the achingly idyllic native landscape of Port Arthur and the spectacular coastal scenery of Bruny Island, but…

What I want to share with you today are the animals I met while I was away. Hey, you know we LoveCats are suckers for animals. :-)

Here’s Molly the pig. Isn’t she just adorable!

Molly was an unexpected surprise. On Day 1 of our trip we just decided to drive from Newcastle towards Melbourne until we felt like stopping. We stopped at Springhurst—a tiny, tiny place—and stayed at The Old Butter Factory for the night where Molly was the resident pig. (Okay, I couldn’t resist this pic either, but isn’t it a fab building).

I’ve not patted a pig before and I was surprised by how coarse Molly’s hair was. She was a real sweetheart—adored a scratch behind her ears.

And for some reason, there were a couple of peacocks wandering around too.

Okay, once in Tasmania it’s non-negotiable: we have to see Tasmanian devils. And we did. At a wildlife sanctuary called Bonorong Park.

Here we met Fred, the baby wombat.

And here’s Fred and me touching noses. If I’d known at this point precisely how aggressive teenage wombats could be, there’s no way I’d have done this.

Billy the koala was a real hit with the two carloads of Asian tourists. We all got to pet Billy and his fur was sooooo soft.

Kangaroos! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve patted a kangaroo? Okay, I know I’m sounding like a tourist, but it was fun!

And the stars of the show—the Tasmanian Devils. They’re certainly not as cute as Billy, but I believe they have a certain charm. Our guide destroyed many of the myths surrounding them. Yes, if you stick a finger in front of their nose you will probably lose it. They have seriously powerful jaws. That said, with each other they’re more bluff than bite. They know how much damage they can inflict on each other so they work at being scary rather than bite-y.

For a long time it was believed they were a threat to livestock and were hunted accordingly, but they’re scavengers not predators. Now, due to their dwindling numbers, a couple of problems have arisen throughout the island. Once upon a time the devils completely picked cleaned the carcasses of dead livestock, often before a farmer even knew an animal was dead. These days, however, there are more carcasses than devils and flyblown sheep have become a problem. Also, the fox population is on the increase. Devils enter the dens and eat the fox’s young, but now there’s not so many of them… Well, you get the picture.

And therein ends today's lesson. :-)

I couldn’t believe what an endearing relationship the guide had with these two devils. I swear, they LOVED him.

So… What less-than-cute-and-fluffy animal do you have a bit of a soft spot for? And to help us all get into the Christmas spirit I’ll give away an advance copy of my December release The Nanny Who Saved Christmas to one commenter.

Nov 12, 2012

My Secret Recipe Revealed

by Barbara DeLeo

I can't believe I've been blogging at Lovecats for a whole six months and haven't done a single post about food! Well, my dear kitties, I'm about to put all that right. And what's more I'm throwing in a favourite recipe.{:o)

I've been thinking about food more than normal lately (and believe me, that's a lot), firstly, because we're now home from our wonderful trip to Greece and Cyprus and I'm missing all the beautiful food from there, but also because I've been thinking about what the heroine in in my next book likes to eat.

You probably know about the gorgeous delicacies in Greece: the thick yoghurt topped with runny honey, little cheese pies with a crunchy outside and gooey goodness inside, a fresh Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and fat, black olives, and baklava with its thousands of flaky layers of honey and nuts. One of our favourite things to do every morning was to walk the cobbled streets to the local bakery for an enormous disk of crunchy fresh bread (usually hot from the oven), as well as a selection of little cheese and spinach pies.

Spinach and cheese pies were a staple in our family even before we went to Greece. They're quick, healthy and delicious, and they make an impressive dish to take to friends. We're off to see some friends for dinner tonight and the mum, dad and four kids are vegetarian for religious reasons so the pies are great a offering. Coincidentally, the heroine in my book "Last Chance Proposal" released this January is also vegetarian and as she's cooking Christmas dinner for the first time she's faced with a number of challenges. Perhaps if she'd had my recipe for spinach and cheese pies she wouldn't have got herself in the trouble she does. {;o)

To save you facing those same issues, here's the recipe!

                Spinach and Cheese Pies - Spanakopites

Chop a generous bunch of spinach and mix with one spring onion and half a cup of pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl whisk four eggs, one cup of cottage cheese, one cup of grated parmesan and one cup of grated edam. Add the egg mixture to the spinach and mix well.

Use oil spray to spray the bottom of a large rectangular baking dish. Place one leaf of filo pastry on the bottom of the dish and spray again with oil. Place another fill leaf on top and spray. Do this until there
are five leaves. You can also do individual pies in triangles .

Pour on the spinach mixture and then do another five layers of filo and oil spray, tucking the edges under the bottom layers. Score the top with a sharp knife into the required number of pieces, oil spray the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 25 mins in 180 degree oven.

Do you have a secret recipe, or something you love to make that's special for your family?

Nov 11, 2012

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from A Puppy for Christmas by Nikki Logan, but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -- Jen St George! Congratulations, Jen Can you please contact leah (at) leah-ashton (dot) com and she'll send you a copy of A Girl Less Ordinary.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from the three-story A Puppy for Christmas anthology, a novella by Nikki Logan called The Patter of Paws at Christmas ...

Vet nurse Ingrid Rose has to spend Christmas and New year with gorgeous French zookeeper Gabriel Marque. They need to keep watch for the zoo's first litter of wild dogs. Will the patter of so many tiny paws bring them together...this time forever?

What you missed...
One-time-only lovers Gabe and Ingrid haven’t spoken to each other in 18 months. But now they’re rostered together by their zoo employers on a 24-seven observation shift on the endangered painted dogs. They just done something totally against the rules to save the pups' lives by getting them to switch from a dangerous den to a safe one and, in the chaos, Ingrid’s phone slipped to the floor of the pup-filled den, still connected to Gabe’s and then got locked in there. He’s come skidding back in the door--adrenaline pumping--to make sure she’s safe.

Ingrid opened her mouth to speak and Gabe pressed dirty fingers against her lips with one hand and set his phone to mute with the other. Then he lowered his fingers, but not far. He rested them on her cheek.

‘A pup has moved over,’ she whispered, excited.

He nodded and concentrated even harder on the sounds coming from her phone. More mewling. More pawing and then the phone muffled as though someone had sat on it.

The mother’s in A-den! Gabe’s wide eyes echoed her thoughts.

A flurry of rearrangement followed and the high-pitched chatter from the pups continued. They rediscovered the phone and mouthed it and smothered it and generally explored the new toy. And then—just when she and Gabe had come to rely on it—someone rolled onto it and the signal disconnected.

Ingrid stared at Gabe. ‘They hung up on us.’

He laughed first, quiet and low now that the pups were just a few feet away, and that only made it all the funnier. Ingrid joined him, trying hard not to let it out. His hazel eyes sparkled with a mix of emotion as the adrenaline dump faded away, but he kept them locked on her.

They stared at each other for a dangerously long time.

‘Five, maybe six?’ she whispered.

His dark brows folded.

She sat back. ‘The number of pups I saw.’

His eyes widened. ‘You saw them?’

‘I saw fur and eyes. Just for a moment. It was hard to distinguish individual shapes but I’m playing it back in my head and I’m sure there were five or six pairs of eyes.’

‘How did they look?’


He snorted. ‘I think we all were. Mjawi looked terrified but she ran me down anyway.’

There was something engagingly attractive about a man who was perfectly willing to admit when he was frightened out of his skin. ‘Show me?’ she said.

They played the footage back and Ingrid mentally followed along what was on screen with what she’d been doing and heard underground. The moment Gabe entered the exhibit and started calling out, Mjawi shot like a bullet out of the den, paused and crouched low as she spotted him and then pelted straight for him. Brave, given her pack was entirely absent, but determined to protect her babies. Ingrid could only imagine the pressing conflict of having a predator so close to her litter but knowing the den was crumbling around them, too. Wild animals were nothing if not outstanding prioritisers.

On-screen, Gabe flung himself back into the night quarters and slammed the door shut. Mjawi skidded up against it bodily. Then she turned and jogged straight back to her litter.

‘Just seconds,’ Ingrid mused. ‘It felt like eternity.’

Gabe snorted again. ‘Tell me about it.’

‘We’re going to get in such trouble.’

He shook his head and locked eyes with her. ‘I don’t care. Do you?’

Did she? Breaching procedure like that and putting themselves at risk was, technically, a dismissible offence. She’d just poised the career—the organisation—that meant so much to her right on the edge of the toilet bowl and pressed flush. Everything she’d worked for. Everything she’d planned for.

Did she care?


They’d done the right thing. They’d saved the pups. If they got drummed out of the zoo for that it was a pretty good way to go.

His smile then just amplified the reward of what they’d done. ‘Thought not.’

And then, before she could do more than take a hasty breath, he leaned in and breached the short distance between their seats and kissed her. Hard. Hot. All that nervous energy had to go somewhere and so Ingrid gladly let it flow straight into her. Deep down into that place that had been cold and empty ever since she’d last let it fill with Gabe’s energy.

His fingers forked up into her hair, closed gently around the strands and eased her head back so that their mouths could fit together better. Ingrid curled her fingers in the two halves of his shirt to pull herself closer to him. One of them was officially on shift and so one of them was being highly unprofessional but she didn’t know who and, as his lips moved over her skin, she really didn’t care.

Her usual standards didn't stand a chance when Gabe was around.

'I've missed you,' he whispered when finally they had to breathe.

To be in the draw to win a signed copy of A Puppy for Christmas, let me know what the best Christmas-to-NewYear experience you ever had was. Were you on holiday somewhere amazing? Did you have your first child? Precious days off work? Or maybe you, too, were cloistered up in an underground bunker with a six-foot-two, tattooed French hunk. We can dream....

Come back next Sunday, when we'll post the winner of today's giveaway -- and a smooch from Louisa George!