Dec 31, 2014

2014, The Lovecats' Year in Review

2014 has been another grand year for the Lovecats Down Under and with that year careening towards a close, we thought it the perfect time to reflect upon -- and bask just a little* in -- our achievements.  
*Note, it will be a very little as the Cats prefer to bask in sunshine while preparing to launch into another big year of writing and reading and living the DownUnder life.

As a group, we achieved the following in 2014:
  • Published a combined total of 39 books
  • These titles represented a range of genres, from contemporary romance to romantic comedy to romantic suspense to young adult and, of course, our favourite category romance
  • Published in 12 different category series or imprints 
  • Published titles with 5 different publishers, as well as independent releases 
  • Made the finalist short-lists in 8 different awards or contests
  • Won 4 different reader or reviewer judged awards
  • Hit bestseller lists including USA Today, Bookscan and the Amazon Top 100
The writing highlights from our year:
  • Michelle Douglas was a double-finalist in both the Booksellers Best and the Golden Quill awards in the US
  • Amy Andrews became a USA Today bestseller for the first time with No More Mr Nice Guy
  • Barbara De Leo won RWNZ's Koru Award in the Short Sweet category with Last Chance Proposal
  • 3 Yvonne Lindsay titles hit the Bookscan top 50 
  • Louisa George won RWNZ's Koru Award in the Short Sexy category with How To Resist A Heartbreaker
  • Rachel Bailey presented workshops at the Romance Writers of Australia conference and for the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild
  • Annie West attended the Love Letters Reader Convention in Berlin
  • Stefanie London published her debut novel, Only The Brave Try Ballet, AND moved to Canada
  • Jennifer St George represented romance as a panelist at the Byron Bay Writers Festival
  • Amy Andrews won the ARRA Award for Best Contemporary Romance with Holding Out For A Hero  
  • Barbara De Leo's Last Chance Proposal was a bestseller with both Barnes and Noble and Amazon, hitting #2 on the Series Romance bestseller list
  • Annie West and Yvonne Lindsay were finalists in RWNZ's inaugural Koru Awards
  • Louisa George's A Baby On Her Christmas List hit #1 on the Amazon Medical Romance list in both the US and the UK
  • Jennifer St George made the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List in the US
  • Yvonne Lindsay and Amy Andrews were finalists in the RWA Romantic Book of the Year Awards
  • Annie West published her first novella and her first independent release 
  • Claire Baxter and Rachel Bailey published debut titles in new genres (romantic suspense, young adult and single title romantic comedy)
  • Amy Andrews was short-listed as Favourite Author in both the ARRA and AusRomanceToday Awards
  • Jennifer St George, Michelle Douglas,  Annie West and Amy Andrews (double-finalist) were short-listed in the ARRA Awards for Favourite Short Category Romance
  • Barbara DeLeo's Last Chance Proposal was a finalist in the Booksellers Best Awards
  • Michelle Douglas's university awarded her a Publication of Excellence Award for her romances
  • Amy Andrews made the DABWAHA tournament as one of the best category romances of the year
  • Yvonne Lindsay published her first novella with Tule Publishing Group
  • Jennifer St George's The Billionaire's Pursuit of Love was a #1 bestselling book on Google Play
In other news, Michelle Douglas succeeded with her New Year's resolution by taking up yoga; Annie West has declared 2014 her most productive writing year ever, and Yvonne Lindsay is celebrating reaching the end of the year without going *completely* crazy. 

At year's end we are not only raising our glasses to celebrate our achievements, but -- most importantly -- we are toasting our wonderful, dedicated readers.  You are the reason we write, the reason we strive to write better, and the reason we look forward to publishing even more funny, touching, hot, sweet, suspenseful, sensual, heartwarming stories in 2015. Thank you one and all.

Annie, Amy, Barbara, Bronwyn, Claire, Helen, Jennifer, Louisa, Michelle, Rachel, Sharon, Stefanie, Sue and Yvonne

Dec 29, 2014

Favourite Reads of 2014?

As another year draws to a close, I've found myself looking back at some of my favourite reads of 2014. They've been a diverse bunch, and far too long to list here, but I'm going to give you a bit of a peek into my list, and hope you'll do the same for me in the comments.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of my favourite books from this year's reading list:
No More Mr Nice Guy, by Amy Andrews
This book hit the USA Today bestseller list, and I know why - it was steaming hot, heaps of fun, and gorgeously sweet. Loved it!

Lead, by Kylie Scott
I could have put any book in the Stage Dive series on this list, but I read Lead most recently, so I've gone with that one. If you haven't read this series yet, grab a copy of Lick!

The Honeymoon Trap, by Kelly Hunter
Eli and Zooey had me entertained from the start (where they get married as part of an online role playing game), to the end (where they... nope! No spoilers!).
The Bouquet List, by Barbara DeLeo
This one was delicious! Yasmin was such fun to spend time with (sock sliding!), and I developed quite a crush on Lane (buttoned-up and seriously hot).

Full Measures, by Rebecca Yarros
This book had me turning the pages as fast as I could! Deeply emotional as well as a sigh-worthy hero.

An Accidental Goddess, by Linnea Sinclair
Loved everything about this book - the characters, the story, the world they were in, everything!

Deeper, by Robin York
This is the first book in Caroline and West's story, but it stands alone. I loved that it tackled a serious topic (Caroline's ex posts explicit pictures of her online as revenge), but it was the tortured, gorgeous West who kept me reading after my bedtime.

There were lots and lots more that I loved, but, as I said, this was a little taste of my favourites list.
So, what books have you enjoyed in 2014? I'm ready to stock up for 2015, so don't be shy in sharing!


Dec 28, 2014

Sunday Smooch from Sue MacKay

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Sue MacKay from
A Family This Christmas

The greatest gift of all...
The sleepy town of Havelock is the last place Dr Jenny Bostock wanted to get stuck over the holidays. Her whole trip was designed to escape the heartbreak of a family Christmas. But when adorable twin boys crash into her on the skateboards - closely followed by their stressed-out (and seriously sexy) single dad, Dr Cameron Roberts - Jenny's forced to put her travelling plans on hold. And the longer she stays with Cameron and the twins, the harder it is to leave...

Out Now: December

The scene setup -
After a previous disastrous attempt to cook the family dinner Jenny has had help from a friend of Cam's, and diner's been a success. But Jenny knows she's supposed to be arranging to move on, the sooner the better, despite still being on crutches with a broken ankle. Funny but every day she keeps putting off leaving for another twenty four hours.

Smooch  -

Cam's gaze followed her hands as she rubbed up and down, working her fingers into the tight muscles. He swallowed hard and pressed his lips tight. The plates in his hands banged onto the bench. She bit down on the reluctant smile about to break across her mouth. It wouldn’t do for him to know she’d noticed his reaction. They couldn’t follow through. Because of the children. Because she wasn’t ready. Because she was leaving and flings, even very short ones, weren’t on her agenda. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t find some sweet pleasure in having him a little bit attracted to her.

He made her feel alive again, reminded her she was a woman, not just someone traipsing the country looking for forgiveness and the incentive to return to medicine.

The only person who has to forgive you is you.

The salt and pepper shakers dropped from her hand onto the table with a bang. What? Where had that dumb idea come from? Not her, that’s for certain. Mum and Dad must hold her responsible for Alison’s death. Didn’t they? They’d never come out and said so but she’d been the only person there when it had happened so, of course, she should’ve been able to do something to save Alison.

‘Jenny? What is it?’ Cam was at her side, pushing her gently back onto the chair she’d just risen from. ‘What’s going on?’

She snapped her mouth shut before she could spill the words that would tell him what a dreadful sister she’d been, not to mention a useless doctor. That would certainly remove any hint of attraction he might feel for her, and she really didn’t want to lose that. Not yet. In a few days’ time when she went away she’d deal with that. But not tonight. Not now. ‘I’m fine. Just moved too fast and cricked my ankle.’

Cam made his usual move and pressed a finger under her chin, raising her face so he could lock eyes with her. ‘Try again. I don’t believe it.’ There was nothing but concern and compassion looking out at her, but she wouldn’t fall for it. She had to be strong. Despite telling him about the accident that had taken Alison, she’d not filled him in on all the gruesome details and she wasn’t about to start. They were her horrors to deal with, no one else’s. Especially not this man’s, who’d done nothing but show her kindness.

Pushing his hand aside, she stood again. ‘Then we’ll have to agree to disagree.’ Snatching up the salt and pepper, she slipped past him into the kitchen and started rinsing off dishes. Please go and find another chore to do, preferably one in another room. Leave me to myself for a bit. I’ll come right quicker that way.

But when she turned around Cam stood right there in front of her, that concerned expression on his face changing, morphing into…? ‘What?’

‘Jenny.’ His hands touched her cheeks, oh, so lightly. ‘You’re beautiful,’ he whispered, as he moved his head closer.

This wasn’t what she’d meant when she’d wanted him to find another chore. This was… She leaned closer. This was… The air seemed to vibrate between them. Those brown eyes were locked on hers, watching, waiting, wanting. This was—is—right.

Her mouth brushed those lips she’d been dreaming for days of kissing. Brushing her mouth over Cam’s wasn’t enough. Hunger gripped her. Thankfully Cam began kissing her properly, hard and soft, demanding and giving. Knee-buckling sensations tore through her like wildfire. Heat rose to warm her face. Wrapping her arms around him, she held on for dear life, kissing him back as hard and soft, as demanding and giving as he kissed her. His mouth was hot, hot, hot. His hands on her waist were hot. His chest pressing against her breasts was hard and hot.

And lower down something else seemed to be heating up too, definitely hardening if that bulge pushing into her stomach was anything to go by. How did two mouths touching cause wild reactions south of their waists? Because right in her centre that heat had turned molten, setting her muscles to squeezing and her hormones dancing.

‘Yuck, they’re kissing.’

‘Don’t look. That’s gross.’

Cam set her back from him so fast it took a moment to regain her equilibrium. Marcus and Andrew. Oh, hell. Now they’d blown it. What were the boys going to think about this? A quick look at Cam told her he already regretted coming near her. The heat suffusing her body rapidly chilled down to cool. Great. She’d definitely be packing her bag now. Hopefully Cam would wait until the morning before kicking her out on the street.

Have you ever had your plans disrupted by an accident? Did it all turn out for the better in the end?
I have a copy of A Family This Christmas to give away to one lucky winner.

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

Dec 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I hope your Christmas Day was love filled and that you managed to spend time with those dear to you.

Boxing Day for us has always been a day of family traditions. When we lived in UK we used to always have some kind of 'walk'- to get some fresh air into our cheeks and to exercise off some of the excess calories from the day before. Then when we moved to have an upside down Christmas we started a new tradition with our friends: Boxing Day Touch Rugby.

We gather at the local primary school sports field - usually about 30-40 of us of all ages and sizes and we spend a couple of hours playing games; touch rugby mainly, but also football and whatever else anyone brings along- cricket, rounders... The kids bring their bikes, we bring along drinks and we all run off the turkey and Christmas pudding. Then we all descend to our place en masse for a swim and bbq. (So when you read this I'll either be running around like a lunatic on the sports field, or running round like a lunatic in the kitchen- either way, I'll be surrounded by happy people who I love dearly and having lots of fun!)

I know that in a lot of places the shops have huge sales...but to be honest I'm so over shopping by now that I couldn't face going to another shop. What do you do on Boxing Day?

Wishing you all the best for 2015! I hope the coming year is blessed with love, a lot of smiles and days spent reading fabulous books xxx  

(Cat and dog image by:

Dec 24, 2014

It wouldn’t be Christmas without...

My family likes tradition...or dislikes change...either way it means that I have to cook certain foods every single year or field complaints. One year I suggested a rum and raisin ice cream dessert after lunch instead of the steamed Christmas pudding that I make every year.

“But it wouldn’t be Christmas without Christmas pudding,” came the unified response.

Another year I thought I’d cut corners by not making mince pies for the days before Christmas. Same response.

No pavlova on Christmas Eve? No trifle Christmas night? What was I thinking?

No gingerbread? No way.

I’ve finally given up trying to inflict change upon them and now I’ve come to accept that it wouldn’t be Christmas without them all around me, and if I have to cook the same old things year in, year out in order to make sure that happens, I will.

Before I return to preparing the usual Christmas Eve spread, I’d love to hear whether anyone else has to bake/cook/prepare the same foods every year, or whether other families are happy to be a bit more adventurous, to break with tradition and try different things?

Whatever you eat at this time of year and whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope the holiday season is good to you. Here's hoping that 2015 is a happy year for all.

Dec 22, 2014

A week of highs and lows

What a mixed week it's been this last week just gone. Such dreadful things happening from the Sydney seige to the terrible events in Pakistan to the awful tragedy that's just happened in Cairns. Rarely has there been a week of such tragic proportions.'s time for a little cheer methinks!

Despite everything, I had some real highs last week.

All my extended family flew to Sydney. It was such a beautiful day (hard to believe what was going on that day in the CBD) and we had lunch here -

This is Doyle's at Watson Bay on Sydney Harbour and I can tell you one thing for sure - I'm going back there next time we're in Sydney because you just can't beat that view!

My kids and all the cousins did this -


That's my daughter and my son and NO, I did not join them! But it was fun watching :-) If you click on the images you get a bigger view which is much better!

I found out that this novella is up for free currently!  So if you're a Bold fan then better get in lickety-split because I have NO idea how long it's going to last.

And the week ended yesterday with my birthday.  But just prior to that I did an early birthday lunch with the lovely Anna Cleary and Ally Blake. It was at Anna's house and she made this most AMAZING salmon salad thingy which she called Salade Nicoise! 

Yesterday, I scored a new iPad mini from my hubby, a new phone case from my son and a pedicure gift voucher from my daughter. Then I was served breakfast in bed where I stayed all morning reading until I finished the book I'd started a few days ago. Which was THE BEST birthday present of all! And then, when I finally got up, Google had a nice brithday surprise for me too when I logged on to the computer - a personalised birthday message! How cool is that? Clearly I'm easily pleased :-)

So, with three days til Christmas, I'd love to hear your birthday stories! Please leave a comment telling me who you are, where you're from, what month your birthday falls and if you have any special birthday rituals or one birthday in particular that stands out.

Dec 19, 2014

The Things I've learned in 2014....

So, another year is drawing to a close and in less than a week it will be Christmas and then New Years will be upon us. Before the year is out I wanted to reflect on the things three I've learned or struggled with or become grateful for this year....

1/ Deadlines.....I've had three contracted books written and submitted this year, and it was a struggle because life inevitable threw stumbling blocks in the path. A sick parent, a new day job and some health issues seemed to come one after the know that feeling you get when one thing ends and another seems to hurdle jumped and then presto, there's a another directly in your path. Yeah, it's been one of those years. But the deadlines have to be met and contracts fulfilled. So, lots of late nights, missed social events and just plain old hard work. But the hard work and late nights always pays off when the lovely box of books arrive from Harlequin and I get to hold the book in my hands for the first time.
2/ Gratitude....I've learned to be grateful for what I have....which was no mean feat considering I'm something of a dreamer and have my head in the clouds most days. I live in an amazing part of the world, a tiny down which sits at the most southern point of the Great Barrier Reef. I'm grateful for mu husband and the life we have, where I can have my horses and dogs and cats. I'm grateful for the fabulous day job I have and my friends and family.
3/ Plans....I'm not much of a planner. In my writing I'm a pantser and loathe doing outlines. But I'm learning this one. I don't plan much in my daily life either...but with so much going on, plans are now a must.
So, this is what I've learnt this year - try to meet deadlines htrough adversity, because it feels like a wonderful achievement. Be grateful for the people and things that are important. And lastly, plan ahead (not too far) to make life a little easier.
Have you learned anything this year? Or have plans for 2015?
Have a wonderful and safe Christmas :)

Dec 17, 2014

Bought By the Italian

She’s up for sale, and he’s the highest bidder.
What do you think of that as a tagline? It worked for me. And as soon as I had it I knew the plot for my second Hot Italian Nights novella. Here's a taste:
Gennaro De Laurentis might prefer motorcycle leathers to Armani, but when it comes to what he wants, he’s as ruthless as any corporate raider in a killer suit. And he wants Chiara, the unforgettable woman who denied the passion sizzling between them and walked away without a backward glance. Now he has the high society princess back in his power – and he’ll risk everything to make her his.
When glamorous fashion designer Chiara Armati goes up for auction, she’s selling her company over dinner for charity. Nothing else. As bidding rises to astronomical heights, she gets nervous. Yet only when she discovers her purchaser’s identity does she realise she’s caught in a trap. She’s never stopped wanting Gennaro or forgiven his betrayal. Now she’s at his mercy – and he’s as irresistible as ever!   
I published my first Hot Italian Nights novella earlier in the year. If you haven't read it, follow this link to find out more about BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED. I was determined to write the next story soon, plus I had the lovely experience of readers emailing to ask for Chiara's story. Note: if ever you read a book and like it so much you have the idea of writing to the author, DO IT! I can't tell you how special that is. Anyway, I was getting ready to work out just what Chiara's story was when life intervened with a few rather tough months, and my plans got put on hold.  
Finally, just recently, I carved out some time to write Chiara and Gennaro's story and I'm so glad I did. What fun we all had! I love a sizzling, intense hero and Gennaro is about as intense as they come. And in case you're wondering, this IS Gennaro and Chiara on the cover. I had the picture well before I finished the novella and this was the pair I wrote about.
I won't give you an excerpt here. You can find one on my website or at AmazonSmashwords or Barnes and Noble where the story is on sale. But I'll leave you with a photo of the area that inspired the story - the stunning Dolomites of Northern Italy.
I'm in the middle of another Harlequin novel now but I've got plans to write a third Italian novella too. For a bit of fun, how about giving me a suggestion for a title? I can't promise to use it but it might spark some ideas.
To celebrate the release of BOUGHT BY THE ITALIAN, I'll give a copy of a book to someone who leaves a comment.

Check back tomorrow when I'll post the winner's name.

Dec 15, 2014

Christmas Traditions with Stefanie London

There are a lot of jokes and memes on the internet about there being two types of people come Christmas time. I’m one of those people who is hanging out for December first so I can decorate my tree. I buy all the candy-cane flavoured items at the supermarket, I love listening to Christmas songs and I love wrapping all the presents and placing them under the tree.

Yep, cast your Christmas judgement this way.

This year will be the first holiday season that I’m not with my family. I’ll be honest, it scares me a little. I know I’m going to feel horribly homesick in the lead up to the 25th and there might be a few tears when I Skype home.

For now I’m trying to focus on all the things I love about this time of year, especially keeping up the traditions that make me feel connected to home.

Silly Hats
I'm unimpressed with your human traditions.
Every year there is a Santa hat or reindeer ears to be worn. When we pop our Christmas crackers at lunch, the rule is that everyone has to wear the paper crown while reading out their corny joke. I guess they call it the silly season for a reason.

No one is safe…not even the dog. (If you think Cici is looking at the camera with utter contempt, you’re right. We’ve dubbed this outfit the Christmas Coat of Doom.)

Chocolate for breakfast
My sister and I started this one. Christmas Day is the only day of the year where we can have chocolate for breakfast. 

Usually it’s a box of Favourites. (I always dig the Turkish Delights and Dream White Chocolates out first.)

Top of the tree
This was a singing and dancing Santa hat!
In our family the youngest member of the family is the only person who’s allowed to put the star on the top of the tree.

Christmas Presents on Christmas Eve
I think this is an Italian thing, but my family opens presents on Christmas Eve instead of during Christmas morning. We always sit in our parent’s lounge room with coffees (or maybe a sneaky Baileys) and biscotti while my sister and I hand out the gifts.

Bing Crosby
My dad has this wonderful old record player and we always begin Christmas proceedings with him playing White Christmas by Bing Crosby. It’s my favourite Christmas song and always puts a smile on my face.

That's my Christmas in a nutshell. This year I'll hopefully be having an actual white Christmas in Canada. Perhaps I can add making snow angels to my traditions list? 

What are your Christmas traditions? Have you ever been away from your family at Christmas time? I need your tips on how to get through it!

Dec 14, 2014

Sunday Smooch with Jennie Jones......

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Jennie Jones ___ but first winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Jeannie.....

Can you please contact Louisa George  on louisageorgeauthor (at) gmail (dot) com to receive your copy of A Baby On her Christmas List.........

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The House At the Bottom Of The Hill by Jennie Jones........

From the best-selling author of House on Burra Burra Lane, comes a brand-new story about
opposites, attraction, an outback pub, and a pink house...

The mysterious death of her mother has left Charlotte Simmons on edge and off-balance for too long. Searching for the truth, Charlotte buys a Bed & Breakfast establishment in Swallow’s Falls, a small town in Australia’s Snowy Mountains, as a ploy to get close to the man who might have the answers. She’ll jazz up the old place, flip it, get her answers, and be gone in two months – max.

What she doesn’t count on is opposition from the dogmatic and slightly eccentric members of the town council. And the hotshot owner of Kookaburra’s Bar & Grill and his two-hundred-squats-a-day physique is simply poking his handsome nose in when he offers to act as mediator between Charlotte and the council.
Easy-going Daniel Bradford knows progress is slow in Swallow’s Fall. He’s finally about to put his plans into place to upgrade the hotel when a prim-and-proper, citified redhead blows into town, putting everyone on edge. The only way to contain the trouble she’s about to cause is to stay close – he knows trouble when he sees it, and soon it becomes very clear that there’s absolutely nothing containable about Charlotte, or the way he feels about her

Scene set-up - [ The previous night, Charlotte had a few after-closing-time drinks with Dan in his bar, attempting to drown her sorrows. He took her home, took care of her and tucked her up in bed. This morning, Charlotte needs to apologise to Dan because if she doesn’t appear to be getting along with him, her plans will fall apart. Dan’s concerns about Charlotte have heightened with the mysterious things he’s discovering about her past, and after last night, he’s beginning to realise just how much ‘care’ he wants to give her.]   

    She was trying her utmost to appear her usual flippant self but it wasn’t working. Not today. ‘I said come over here. I want to hear that apology again.’ He gave her a serious frown. ‘Do you have any idea how much trouble you could have got into? Could have got me into? Our reputations are at stake.’
    She stepped forwards as though in a rush, then stopped as the door closed behind her with a clunk. ‘I’m very sorry.’
    ‘It’s okay,’ he said. ‘I was joking. Just want a closer look at your bloodshot eyes.’
    Her resolve fired up, the clear whites of her eyes shining against the pupils. Ready to run or fight. Dan folded the hotel plans and tucked them beneath the bar. When had he begun to read her so well?
    ‘I’m still joking, Charlotte. Come on over here.’ He beckoned her. She took a step and stopped again. ‘Right up here.’
    She walked to the bar, stopped in front of him and pulled in a breath. ‘I suppose there’s a pay off?’
    ‘All right then.’ She wiggled her fingers at him. ‘I’m ready. Give.’
    Cute, but was she really ready? Dan smiled as the adrenaline inside him rose at the expectation of what was to come – the heightened moment before a fight or a tackle, when the hairs on the back of his neck stood up and his blood pumped faster.
    ‘I can take it,’ she said. ‘Don’t hold back.’
    ‘Okay, I won’t.’ He leaned forwards, took hold of her under her arms, pulled her over the bar and hit her mouth with his.
    Her hands slapped on the counter to steady herself and suddenly the bar was too wide for him, too much of a barrier. She was braced on it, her waist against it, her feet off the ground but she made no attempt to move from his kiss. He pressed his mouth on hers, prising her lips apart. Holy Jesus, he was kissing Red. She tilted her head, giving him a better opportunity to taste her. Firecracker Charlotte had her tongue against his, soft and gentle, but probing nonetheless, and she wouldn’t get an iota of an argument about it from him. He hadn’t felt sparks like this in – not ever. Electric sparks in his fingers, on his lips, running down the back of his legs.
    He broke from the kiss and let her down. She slid to her side of the bar, holding onto it, but she didn’t lose his gaze. What would she do now? He straightened and put both hands on the counter. What would he do now?
    ‘Well,’ she said, unblinking, looking as though he’d sent a volley of flaming arrows her way. ‘Some pay off.’
    ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
    ‘I’m not sure.’
    Neither was he – of anything except the current still washing through him. He made his way around the bar.
    ‘What are you doing?’
    He didn’t exactly know, but it was going to involve her mouth.

To go into the draw to win an eCopy of The House At The Bottom Of The Hill please leave a comment to this question....

What’s your favourite cocktail? Or can you make one up?
Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and another smooch will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Dec 12, 2014

It's a Bird Romance

Warning: This story doesn't have a happy ending.

For a long time now I've believed birds could teach us a thing or two about love and relationships. Living in the Marlborough Sounds we are surrounded in bush and therefore there are many birds. The main characters are tuis, wood pigeons, quail, thrush, sparrows and yellow finches. I have often fed them on our deck, only to stop when so many turn up for breakfast I need to buy bread especially.

Many types of birds mate for life and there are often mid air scraps or fights on branches resulting in one bird being shoved off - all because first there were two then a third bird arrives. I love watching the quails when their wee chicks are getting out and about. They come up our drive, one parent at the front of the line, the other at the back rounding up adventurous chicks.

Birds seem incredibly loyal to their mates and babies.

Two weeks ago I opened the curtains of our bedroom to see the view while we had our early cup of tea in bed. Onto the balustrade on the outer edge of the deck was a quail, strutting from one end to the other and back again. Over and over for about three hours. (I had long got up and got on with  my day). All the time the bird was calling for his mate which never made an appearance. This happened for three days in a row, then he disappeared.

On another occasion I was driving along the road when I came across a dead tui in the middle of the road and its mate standing over it, squawking loudly. He moved to the side of the road until I'd crept past and then returned to stand over the deceased female.

Being a romance writer of course I see the romance in these situations. But I don't see my heroes strutting up and down my deck balustrade for days on end. Could be fun given how handsome I make them.

Have you had instances where you've observed such dedication with an animal or bird?

Dec 10, 2014

Tis the season...

If there was only one food I could make, bake or create for Christmas, without a doubt my DH would beg me (beg me I tell you!) to make my fruitcake.

I swear he could live on the stuff (if I'd let him ;-) ).

So in the spirit of the season, I thought I'd share my fruitcake recipe with you. This was given to me by a work colleague a million years ago. :-)

First of all what you need to do is take 1kg and 1 cup of mixed dried fruit, add 1 cup of chopped pecans and pour over 3/4 cup of brandy and let soak overnight. Mmmm...this smells divine tomorrow. Promise.

The next day do the boring annoying thing first which is line a big, deep 20cm cake pan with multiple layers of baking paper (3 layers minimum and you want it to hang over the edges).  And don't forget to set the oven to a nice and slow 150-160'C.

Now to the fun part of beating and mixing. Beat 250g of softened butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and 1 2/3 cups of (firmly packed) dark brown sugar until combined. Add 5 eggs--one at a time and beating only until combined between each addition. Stir in 2 teaspoons of grated orange rind, 1/4 cup of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam.

In a separate bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups of plain flour and a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger (I'm pretty generous with the cinnamon). Stir this into the above mixture in 2 batches. Next, add the soaked fruit and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake in a slow oven for 3 hours (or cooked when tested with a skewer). Brush the top of the cake evenly with another 1/4 cup of brandy. Cover with foil and leave to cool in the pan overnight.

This makes a BIG cake (which makes my DH's heart sing). The next day I cut it into 4 equal sized slabs, wrap each in foil and store in the pantry in  airtight containers. I like to store it for a month before eating it. Honestly, it is the most divine cake on the planet (if my DH is to be believed). :-)

What about you? What's the one Christmas food you couldn't live without?

 Michelle's Christmas book SNOWBOUND SURPRISE FOR THE BILLIONAIRE is on shelves now.

Dec 8, 2014

Travelling as Inspiration

I love to travel. Many of my stories have been inspired by places I’ve lived in or visited ... Venice, Paris, London, Melbourne, the US, the Lake District. I spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect setting and it’s not simply about pretty or interesting backdrops but locations that shine a little light on the characters…creating an environment that helps their story unfold. 

Many of my romances feature an heiress or a billionaire, and with that kind of incredible wealth it’s important to sketch a gloriously luxurious setting, one that is glamorous, fabulous, international.

My first novel, The Convenient Bride, was inspired by a trip to Venice where I was entranced and moved almost to tears to see so many gorgeous but decaying historic buildings crumbling into the canals. If I were as rich as the characters in my stories, I would have brought one on the spot and have it restored to its former glory. Long after leaving Venice, its tragic beauty continued to haunt my dreams and so I set The Convenient Bride there, with one of those Venetian gothic buildings playing a special part in the plot.

Being under the hot and harsh spotlights on a reality TV show was the experience that sparked the idea for Seducing the Secret Heiress. I took part in the Australian version of Dragon’s Den and the call for ‘action’ alone was enough to raise my heart rate.  Add judges, camera close-ups and a demanding Director, for an experience that was unbearably intense, yet exhilarating. I thought this pressure-cooker environment would make good fodder for a sexy romance. Not to mention that much can happen in a dressing room and those dressing rooms have mirrors, which adds a whole new dimension to a scene.

Parts of Seducing the Secret Heiress take the reader to London.  I lived in that amazing city for seven years. The seasons, the parks, the history, the pubs, the incredible mix of people who live there, left an indelible impression. Actually, London pops up a few times in my novels and one day I’d love to live there again. Who knows?

The Love Deception was inspired by my days working in the top end of town in Melbourne – think high-rise corporate offices with stunning views across the city, suits with high heels and stockings, business-class travel, luxury hotels. My heroine didn’t have a chance spending all those long stressful hours locked away in legal meetings with her hot boss in his private office.

A few scenes in The Love Deception are based on the terrifying experience of living through the remnants of a hurricane in North Carolina. A scary night! I’ll never forget the noise. My hero and heroine are in Barbados when they find themselves in the eye of the storm, literally and figuratively. They are only on the island for a very short time before nature unleashes itself and the hurricane hits. Of course I had them return to the island later in the book so they could enjoy everything this tropical paradise had to offer when a category five storm wasn’t causing mayhem. (It’s nice as an author to give your characters a reward when they have worked so hard to deserve happiness).

The core idea for The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love popped into my head after attending a seminar dedicated to saving the world’s Orangutans. The wildlife workers lived in very basic conditions, working in the mud, rain and heat to ‘mother’ the vulnerable baby Orangutans until they could look after themselves – a little like nurturing human babies. When I read an article about a man worth millions who’d designed one of the world’s most successful computer games, I wondered what it would be like if these two people from incredibly different worlds were brought together through a twist of fate that just wouldn’t let them go. 

My latest release, Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon, was inspired by a trip to a health retreat, an experience that gave me my heroine’s profession. Another trip to France and the UK inspired the lavish, deeply romantic locations in Tempted. Each time I visit Paris I fall under its spell – again. Seeing Versailles for the first time left me in awe of the beauty and romance of France, its history and great art. My heroine, Poppy, feels this too when she visits France for the first time. My billionaire hero of course has seen it all before, but it feels that little bit different now he is with Poppy!

At the moment I’m busy conjuring up my new billionaire novel. The hero and heroine are having a tortured time in a gorgeous old stately home in the UK, complete with a beautiful secret garden. That locked-up walled garden plays an integral role in the twists and turns in the story.

I hope they both find the key!

Is there a place you've visited that you found inspirational? I'd love to know.

Jennifer St George is a romance author whose sexy stories feature courageous, career-minded heroines, strong heroes in glamorous international settings. She has five books published with Penguin's digital-first imprint, Destiny Romance

Dec 7, 2014

Sunday smooch with...Louisa George

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Louisa George, but first ...

the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is -Savannah Blaize!

Savannah, can you please contact Michelle Douglas on michelle (at) michelle-douglas (dot) com to receive your copy of Snowbound Surprise For the Billionaire!

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Louisa George's Medical Romance, A Baby On Her Christmas List

Back cover blurb:
Nurse Georgie Taylor has just one thing on her Christmas list: a baby! But she never expected her best friend, Dr Liam MacAllister to offer to be the father. Liam keeps his heart strictly off-limits, but seeing Georgie pregnant ignites feelings he just can’t ignore…feelings that could destroy a beautiful friendship- or result in so much more!

 Kiss Scene:-  Set up: Liam and Georgie are in a dessert-only café discussing the attraction between them and what to do about it…

 ‘I’ve a feeling it’s already a little late to worry about things changing between us. Don’t you think? I’m not the only one here wondering what it would be like if we kissed again.’ Pricking some vanilla cheesecake onto her fork she offered it to him across the table. ‘Don’t you get just a little tired of being so saintly?’
‘Yes. Every single moment I’m with you.’ He leaned forward again and she was transfixed as he closed his mouth over the morsel of food. Heat shimmied through her as he very slowly chewed then swallowed, the movement of his Adam’s apple dipping up and down was strangely and compellingly sexy. Her eyes slid from his throat to his mouth, a guarded smile in a face filled with dips and curves she knew so well but had never really explored. How she wanted to trace her finger along those lips, to run her hand across his cheek and feel the rasp of his stubble against her skin. To scale the furrows of his cheekbones.
His voice was an octave dirtier when he spoke. ‘My mind is working overtime thinking of the things we could do together. But I’m sure it’s just a passing phase. All interest in the new curves and stuff. I just want to touch you. It’s a man thing- feral and protective and instinctive, we can’t help it. Nature’s a bitch sometimes. If we act on these instincts and then it doesn’t work out then that’s a lot of friendship down the drain. We need to co-parent on a platonic and sensible basis, not give in to rash lust and then have regret to deal with too.’
‘Oh, so you mean the bigger boobs are distracting you? Interesting…’ She very slightly arched her back as he lowered his gaze to her breasts. A powerful need zinged through her. She wanted him and was resorting to seduction of the clumsiest kind. But she couldn’t get him out of her head. She needed to know what it would be like to be with him. If only one time. Just to hold him as lovers, unlike the way they touched each other now as friends. She wanted to stroke him, kiss every part of him. And if she didn’t do it soon she’d go completely mad.
One day they’d look back on this and laugh- if they were still speaking to each other. ‘So it’s nature that’s making you look at me like that?’
‘Like what?’
His pupils flared at the word. ‘It’ll wear off.’
‘I sincerely hope not.’ She finished the last bit of dessert in one big almost-but-not-quite satisfying mouthful. She had a feeling there was only one thing that could satisfy her right now, and it wasn’t cheesecake. ‘We should give in to our natural urges sometimes, it’s bad for us to repress all the time, apparently.’
‘It’s even worse to break something that’s pretty solid.’
Their friendship. But that was true and lasting and proven. ‘Why would it break? It doesn’t have to break, not if we don’t want it to. We can do whatever we want. It’s our choice.’ She couldn’t resist stretching her fingers across the table towards his. For a few seconds just their fingertips touched. Then, without looking at her he slid his fingers across hers, intertwined them, stroked his hand across hers. His skin was rough but his touch was soft. His heat spread through her, up her arms, to her back, down to her belly.
After a moment of such an excrutiatingly sexy caress he turned her palm over and lifted it to his mouth. His kiss was hot. He licked a wet trail to her forefinger. She snatched her hand away before the moan erupted from her throat. Even so, her voice was filled with need, ‘We should be getting home.’
‘We? Is that an invitation?’ His face cautious and turned-on at the same time, he scraped his chair back to go.
Finding him her sexiest smile she whispered back, ‘Honestly, Macadoodle-doo, since when have you ever needed an invitation to my house?’
‘I think maybe this time I do.’

She hadn’t answered him in words, but she’d taken his hand and led him out of the cafe like a woman on a mission. Thank God she lived only a short drive away because he couldn’t have waited many moments longer. Liam didn’t know when he’d ever been so burnt up about a woman.
They by-passed the living area and made it to her bedroom without words, without kissing. He went in first, held open the door and she walked straight in and turned to face him, a question on her face. A dare. A promise. There was space between them. It would only need one step.
Just one.
He faltered. For a few moments neither moved as they stared at each other. This was happening. Really happening. The step from friends to…to whatever this was. Lovers might have been doubtful, but the trajectory from restaurant, to street, to bed was unstoppable. The air in the room seemed to still. One second. Two. With every lingering moment heat spread through his body like a raging fire, threatening to engulf him. If he touched her now there would be no going back.
This could have been a time to leave. He almost took a sideways step, his hand lingering on the door handle, but faltered again.
As she watched him a slow sexy smile appeared on Georgie’s lips; and if he’d had any flicker of doubt that she didn’t want this it fled right then. And that was when, he supposed, he should have drawn that line, the one they shouldn’t have stepped over. Or where they should have agreed what this meant. But he was too consumed by her, by this need to utter a word.
In the end he didn’t know who made the first move but suddenly she was in front of him, or he was in front of her and his mouth was hard against hers. This time there was no hesitation, no coy shaking. This was pure need and desire, an equal feasting. She tasted of chocolate and vanilla and every flavour in between, her mouth was wet and hungry and it fired a deeper, hotter want within him. Jaws clashed, tongues danced, teeth grazed. There was nothing sophisticated about the kiss, no gentle sucking or tender caress. It was messy. Dirty. Hungry.

You can find Louisa’s book at Amazon and in book stores now!

Louisa is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter!  So her question to you is:

A Baby On Her Christmas List is one of my favourite romance tropes: best friends to lovers. Which is your favourite trope and why?

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced -- and a smooch from The House at the Bottom of the Hill by Jenny Jones will be posted!