Apr 29, 2016

Pooch Bling!

Last night I ordered a new "going out" collar for Princess Ava. I feel it's important to have an around the house collar for everyday use, plus something pretty for special occasions. Billie already has one - as she's modelling in the picture below, but she has a lovely black coat that goes with just about anything. 

Ava has red fawn fur, which is more difficult to match, but I've eventually decided on a pretty blue feathers design (which also means both girls will have blue going out collars, which is kind of cute). 

Both collars from the awesome Collars By Christine: www.facebook.com/collarsbychristine/

But there were so many other pretty collars that I think I'll need to let the girls have a few each. Which got me to thinking about other pooch accessories. Both girls have winter coats:

And I may have been tempted to put scarves on them in the past. They just have such lovely long necks!

And Ava had painted nails when she first arrived, courtesy of her foster mother. I've bought more pink for her, and a lovely bottle of purple for Billie, but haven't got around to putting them on yet. In fact, I even have a scene in The Finn Factor where the characters paint the nails of the border collie, Harvey.

But this all makes me think about how much I'm paying attention to their accessories, when I hadn't given it much thought with all of my previous pooches. Perhaps the girls have a touch of glamour that lends itself to accessorizing? Or maybe the world is changing - pretty collars like the ones at the top of the post were hard to find 10 or 15 years ago.

What about you? Have you ever put a particularly nice collar on your pooch or kitty? Bought them accessories? Maybe a lovely coat? What about painting their nails? Please tell me I'm not alone in this!

Apr 27, 2016

Celebrating with ghosts

“Were you scared?”

That’s the first thing people asked me when I told them where my husband and I spent our wedding anniversary night last week. (Twenty-seven years!)

At the last minute, we booked to stay the night at the hotel on the site of the old Quarantine Station North Head near Manly in Sydney. It’s a magnificent setting, right on the harbour in the middle of a National Park.

What was once a Quarantine Station is now a quirky, lovely hotel in Sydney

 The Quarantine Station was established in the 1830s to prevent diseases such as typhus, plague and smallpox from reaching the main settlement of Sydney. Immigrant ships were stopped and passengers kept in strict quarantine in what, in effect, was a prison. The idyllic setting would have been cold comfort to the internees, many of whom never left there as they died from the disease they had contracted on the long journey from the Northern Hemisphere.

Fabulous views from the old Quarantine Station - the Manly ferries
pass each other on their way between Sydney and Manly 
Over the years the Quarantine Station became like a town in itself—divided into first, second and third class accommodation to reflect the status of the ship’s passengers. It operated right up until the 1980s.

There are three cemeteries on the grounds. The buildings are reputed to be haunted by the ghosts of the poor souls who never left there to start their new lives in Sydney. Ghost tours have operated there for years.

Victorian splendour in the former First Class Passengers lounge - now a guest lounge

So were we scared? Not at all. The place has a sad history but is a beautiful part of Sydney’s heritage. The Q Station Hotel has taken over the historic buildings and everything has been done within strict heritage guidelines. Quirky and interesting it was a fabulous place to stay.

You don’t have to stay at the hotel to visit as it’s all part of a National Park. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Sydney. You can get there by road or by ferry.

In my March release Harlequin Romance Crown Prince’s Chosen Bride, Gemma and Tristan approach the area by boat and swim on the adjoining beach. It really is a gorgeous part of Sydney.

Have you ever stayed or visited anywhere with a creepy history? Or felt something scary in a historical place? Or like me, didn’t sense a thing! Please comment—I’d love to hear about it!

Apr 26, 2016

London Calling

Whoever said when a man is tired of London he is tired of life sure knew what he was talking about! It's a city I just keep coming back to. And I'm here again. So what does one do in London when all the major tourist spots have been ticked off? 

Have lunch at The Shard with fabulous editor.  

Eat a Chelsea bun (in fact consume a butt load - literally - of carbs)  Stop at every pub you can find! 

And indulge in some High Tea with fabulous English authors. The lovely Kate Hardy corralled us all and nine of us had tea at a posh hotel. RITA nominee Heidi Rice, Fiona Harper, Annie Claydon, Annie O'Neill, Caroline Anderson, Jennifer Taylor, Lucy King and, of course, Kate and I. It was particularly fabulous to meet up with Caroline and Jennifer who were my go-to medical authors when I was exploring the genre. And I'm still loving their books over a decade later! 


Tomorrow we head to Rome but I'll be back London. I'll always be back! xxxx

Apr 24, 2016

Sunday Smooch from The Bouquet List - Barbara DeLeo

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from The Bouquet List by Barbara DeLeo, but first ... the winner of last week's Sunday Smooch Giveaway is Diana Tidlund.

Diana, can you please contact Donna Alward - Donna (at) donnaalward(dot) com to receive your copy of The Cowboy's Convenient Bride

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Bouquet List by Barbara DeLeo

He's #5 on her Bouquet List. Tall, dark...and completely forbidden.

After a too-close call with death, Yasmin Katsalos is checking some things off her Bouquet List—things to do after you thought you were going to die. Fun fashion choices? Check. Purple hair and a cute diamond nose stud? Check, check. Now she's on to item #5: a flirty fling with a man who's tall, dark, rich...and totally out of her league.
And restaurateur Lane Griffiths definitely fits the bill.

Lane isn't just out of Yasmin's league. He's also her brother's best friend and therefore off-limits. Now that they're working together on renovations for her family's wedding hall, however, Yasmin has plenty of opportunities to bewitch, bother, and boldly seduce. He's reserved. She's relaxed. The only thing they share is a spark of attraction that's too strong to resist. But is Lane just another item on her bouquet list... or has Yasmin found something on her list that will last?

Scene set-up

Lane and Yasmin are visiting a fabric warehouse to choose curtain fabric for the renovation of the restaurant. Yasmin has her sights firmly set on Lane fulfilling one of her dreams on her bouquet list while Lane has been fighting the urge to get closer to his best friends little sister.


For the next fifteen minutes, they walked through the maze of towering fabric bolts, stopping every time Yasmin saw something that took her fancy—a canary yellow and magenta stripe, a dizzying pattern of French botanicals with a blue background. At each one she’d stop and stroke it, turning puppy-dog eyes to Lane. Finally they came to an area surrounded by every shade of gold imaginable.

“Ohhhhhh.” That noise of pleasure at the back of her throat again. “Lane, this is beautiful,” she said and she picked up the corner of fabric. “Look how rich it is. It’s textured and a little bit shimmery.” She played with the weight of it in her hand. “And I think it would fall beautifully.” She lifted it to her face and breathed. “And it smells all fresh and linen-y.”

“Let’s hope that’s the closest it gets to anyone’s nose.” He stepped closer and rubbed a piece between his fingers. “Feels good. Let’s take a look at the price tag.”

Beside him, she stretched up on tiptoe as he brought the tag closer.“Thirty dollars per yard. Not too bad. I think we might have found what we’re looking for.”

“Oh my God, you’re a genius!” She reached an arm around his shoulders and when he turned back to look at her, they both froze.

He gazed down into her warm brown eyes and was sucker punched by the excitement and joy he found there. This was about so much more than fabric and decorating to her. This was about self-expression and wearing her heart on her sleeve, exactly the things that made him feel as though he was in unchartered territory. He was so logical and sensible and Yasmin was...not. But he didn’t care. In this instant he wanted to get as close to her as he could; he wanted some part of her zest for life and her crazy, naive excitement to brush off on him.

From somewhere in her handbag came the sound of her mindfulness bell. It was a call to the moment, a signal to forget about the past, to not worry about the future. Maybe it was even a call for him to let go of everything and lose himself in her.

Before he could decide, she pulled his head down to hers and kissed him. Her lips were cool and moist, her breathing rapid, and when she made that noise at the back of her throat again, he knew he couldn’t pull away. He backed her into the stack of fabric rolls opposite, all the while kissing her mouth.

A tide of sensations overpowered him. The clean, freshly laundered scent of the fabrics surrounding them, the sound of her body brushing up against the silk roll behind her, and the dazed look on her face when he finally pulled his lips from hers was priceless.

“Lane,” she whispered. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.” Her brown eyes were wide, her breathing rapid. 

“I’m living in the moment,” he said and brushed his hand down the soft skin of her cheek. He didn’t want to talk or think, he just wanted to taste those dusky lips, so he leaned in and kissed her again. This time she hooked both hands around his neck and kissed him deeper, and a shudder ripped through his body. Cupping her face in his hands, he savored the sweet taste of her, wanting more—

“I do hope you realize that any damage to the fabrics
will be charged in full.” They sprang apart, and the shop assistant was looking at them disapprovingly over the top of her glasses. “Body oils can leave permanent stains on such fine material.” 

For a chance to win a copy of The Bouquet List, tell us what would be top of your "Bouquet List" - a list of things to do to celebrate being alive!

Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Tempted by Hollywood's Top Doc by Louisa George will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Apr 22, 2016

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened...

2016 has been a sad year for those of us who love British comedy with the deaths of Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood ...these people framed for me what 'funny' was as I grew up; they helped me through some dark times and made my world a better place.

You always knew they would make you feel better, so I want salute their memories and remind us of their art...here's a few laughs and a thank you to them for making my life a whole lot better with them in it.

Victoria Wood and Alan Rickman (who also died this year....*sigh*) It's 8 minutes long so sit back and enjoy.... some fun at the romance world's expense...

My most favourite Victoria Wood song...ever!

The Two Ronnies...best sketch ever...

Any other funny sketches or series/books you turn to when you're feeling down? Who makes you laugh? Who are the best comedians at the moment?

Apr 20, 2016

Foreign Language Challenges - Annie West

Well, guess where I am as you're reading this? It's the first day of the inaugural Festival du Roman Feminin in Paris - a two day festival designed especially for readers of romance!
That means I may be a bit tardy dropping by the LoveCats blog. By the look of the marvellous program, I'm going to be very busy for the next couple of days, before moving on to Berlin for the LoveLetter Convention, again just for romance readers. Talk about a thrilling week! To share the thrill I'm including a couple of location shots you might enjoy - not from this year's Festival but from a previous visit to Paris (and yes, I do know how lucky I am to have more than one visit here).
These festivals also mean I'm going to be very, very challenged. You see, I'm not one of the world's better linguists and I didn't learn a second language at school. They say if you start learning early it stays with you longer, don't they? Well, I was a late starter, which means I'm going to be struggling. You see, I have no French. I can say hello and thank you. I can order a glass of wine or a bottle of water but apart from that? Sigh.
Now, fortunately these festivals are beautifully organised so that even linguistically challenged authors like me can speak in English and be understood, but it does make me feel guilty that I can't say far more in the local language. I had the best intentions to do a crash course in French and to brush up my very little amount of German before leaving. Sadly some family issues took up my time and I'll be lucky to arrive with a properly packed bag.
I'll be trying to learn a little on the plane but given my ability to make terrible mistakes, it's a worry that I've left it so late. I've embarrassed myself many times trying to speak another language. Like the time I walked into a shop and asked, quite confidently I might add, to buy a kiss instead of a cushion. You can imagine how that went down!
So now I'm girding my loins to utter a few words of French and then German and keeping my fingers crossed I don't say anything too appalling.
How about you? Are you great with second, third or even fourth languages? Is there one you love or one you'd love to master? Or are you like me, struggling with a smile and lots of sign language?

Apr 18, 2016

It's baseball season!

The husband and I in our Blue jays caps
Okay, confession time. I'm not really into Australian sports...I know, I know. I wrote an AFL hero for my first book. I had to actually research how AFL matches are started because I had no idea. FYI they bounce the ball in the center of the field. Who knew?

I just never got into footy...or cricket. Or either type of rugby. I like the tennis, but never felt compelled to do more than follow the results via updates from my husband.

But then we came to Canada and I discovered baseball. Turns out I didn't hate sport, I just hadn't found the right sport to watch.

Since then I've become an avid Blue Jays fan. They're the local team, here in Toronto, and when the whole city supports one team it's a very unifying experience. If you go to the Roger's stadium on game day it's a sea of blue.

Since baseball isn't too big down under, I thought I'd share some fun baseball facts in case you're not aware of what a fun game it is:

  • During World War II, the U.S. military designed a grenade to be the size and weight of a baseball, since “any young American man should be able to properly throw it.” (source)
  • The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a rhymed description of "base-ball" and a woodcut that shows a field set-up somewhat similar to the modern game. (source)
  • The chances of a fan being hit by a baseball are 300,000 to 1 (source)
  • The first fully professional baseball team was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. (source)
  • Charlie Sheen Once Bought 2,615 Tickets to a Major League Baseball Game so He Could Improve His Odds of Catching a Home Run Ball (source)
  • The world’s largest publicly available collection of baseball cards is housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has over 31,000. (source)

Have you ever watched or play baseball before? If not, whats your favourite sport?

Apr 17, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Donna Alward

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from Donna Alward but first...

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

Can you please contact Stefanie (at) stefanie-london (dot) com to receive your copy of A Dangerously Sexy Affair

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from The Cowboy's Convenient Bride


Laura Jessup is used to the rumors—everyone in tiny Gibson, Montana, thinks she’s a home-wrecker. And Laura can handle that if it means protecting her daughter from her sweet girl’s father. Only hunky EMT Tanner Hudson seems immune to the gossipmongers. The solution he proposes—a marriage in name only!—might just be crazy enough to work…if only Laura can keep her heart out of it.

Tanner wasn’t sure Laura would accept a platonic marriage, even though it would stop the rumor mills and get his own family off his back. But as the wedding draws closer, Tanner worries that his plan is working a little too well. He’s falling for Laura, hard. They thought they were ready for marriage, but are Tanner and Laura prepared for real love?

Scene set-up:   This month THE COWBOY’S CONVENIENT BRIDE is out in Australia! Yay! I loved writing this story. It’s a marriage of convenience trope, along with a rather secret baby – that is, the heroine, Laura, hasn’t told the father about his child. Because…well…the father is a dangerous man, and she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her child.
  In this scene, when they first kiss, they’ve just visited their families to tell them about the upcoming wedding. It doesn’t go so well at Tanner’s folks’ place. She leaves there feeling a bit dirty; certainly not good enough for Tanner, and rather undesirable. She faces a lot of criticism with a stiff upper lip, but with Tanner, she finally lets her guard down. I’ll let Tanner take it from here:

“You’re not undesirable,” he said gently, pressing his lips against her hair. “I promise you, Laura. People see the mistakes, but they don’t see the wonderful things about you. Human nature is always that way, though it shouldn’t be.”

“Look at me,” she contradicted. “I’m a single mom who…well, I’m living in fear, aren’t I?” She pushed against his chest and peered up at him, and his heart ached at the sight of her red eyes and tear-streaked cheeks. “I’ve made so many mistakes, and now all I know how to do is run. Do you know how much I hate that about myself? That instead of standing up and fighting, I’m making decisions on how to hide better?”

He raised his hand and ran his thumb over her cheek. “You’re a mom. Moms do what they need to do to protect their children. No one can blame you for being mama bear.”

  She shook her head. “Tanner, you’re wasting your time with me. Why tie yourself down for a year or two when you could be out looking for Miss Right? Someone far more suitable than me? Someone your family will approve of and welcome with open arms?” To his dismay, her tears welled again and she dropped her chin. “Someone worthy of the kind of man you are.”

  “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again.” Tanner’s heart pounded painfully, hating how negative she was about herself. “You are not unworthy. You are definitely not undesirable, Laura. If you could see you the way I see you…”

  She bit down on her lip.

  He sighed, lifted her chin with his finger. “You are a tigress. I watched you bring that sweet baby girl into the world with a ferocity that was mind-blowing. You have endured the looks and the gossip for months in order to protect yourself and your baby, even though it cost you a lot personally. You are one of the strongest women I’ve ever met, and if people can’t see that, then that’s their problem.”

  He knew he shouldn’t, but he ran his hand through her hair, the thick coppery strands slipping over his fingers like silk. She had a few pale freckles on her cheeks, just on either side of her nose, and they made her look young and artless. Her bottom lip was swollen and plump from where she’d bitten down on it. She was so damn beautiful.

  “Tanner,” she whispered, her voice unsure. And it was that question that moved him forward, so close that their bodies brushed as his hand cradled her head and he kissed her.

  He meant for it to be a kiss of reassurance, something gentle and affirming, to let her know that she was, indeed, desirable. He failed utterly, because the moment his mouth was on hers, there was nothing gentle or reassuring about it. Her breath caught deliciously as her lips opened beneath his, as instinctive as a flower turning toward the sun. His body felt super-charged and he pulled her closer, losing himself in the sweet taste of her. When she made a little sound in her throat, he nearly lost his mind. He threaded his other hand through her hair and tilted her head back, sliding his lips from hers and trailing them down the soft skin of her neck.

Where Your Heart Finds Home…

Have you ever been in a relationship where your significant other’s family didn’t approve?

 Come back next Sunday, when the winner of today's giveaway will be announced and a smooch from Barb DeLeo's The Bouquet List will be posted!

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Apr 15, 2016

Hello Wally!

This week we added another member to our family.....say hello to Wally!

Wally is a short billed Corella and he's five months old. Hand raised and is already talking....well, he says "hello" so far, but we think he'll pick up more words soon. Although my hubby has had parrots before, other than a neurotic cockatiel I had when I was young, this is my first real foray in having a bird as an indoor, interactive pet. I've always been more the horse, dog, cat kind of pet owner.
But he's adorable. And so friendly. I'm amazed at how affectionate he is and how much time he likes spending on hubby's shoulder. He loves cuddles and makes kissing sounds. In hindsight we probably should have named him Sire Squawksalot...because he does make his fair share of noise, particularly in the mornings. But we have very understanding neighbors and no one seems to mind. The two cats aren't all that fazed, in fact they seem more scared of him than he is of them.  
There is a potty mouthed Corella on Youtube called Eric who seems to have something of a following. I plan on doing a few video's of Wally's antics, so I'll make sure I post them here. And if anyone has any bird advice, please share!

Apr 13, 2016

In praise of books...

Easter, my friends, didn’t go according to plan. Mr Douglas had an unexpected stay in hospital. He’s fine and on the mend again now (and, truly, I love our public healthcare system), but I discovered that hanging out at a hospital for five days with not a whole lot to do can be rather taxing. So, what’s a girl to do?

What she does is opens her iPad mini, goes to her Kindle app and browses among the many books she’s downloaded in the last two years and settles down to read something undemanding that will whisk her away from the smell of antiseptic for a while. The book I opened was THE HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR—the first book in Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey regency mystery series. I can’t even tell you why I chose that particular book, but by the time I was halfway through it, I started to feel rejuvenated. [And, um…I’m now up to Book 9 in the series.]

It started me thinking what a godsend books can be.

About six years ago, one side of my family was going through a bit of a rough time. I forced Mary Janice Davidson’s UNDEAD AND UNWED on three of the women. It didn’t change the situation we were dealing with, but it provided us all with a good laugh and gave us something fun and a bit silly to chat about. It provided a bit of breathing space.

One of the first reader letters I ever received was from a woman who was in hospital for the eleventh (!!!) time for the same thing. She thanked me for writing a book that took her away from reality for a couple of hours and gave her a bit of respite.

Books can be many things. They can shine a new light on an old problem, posit answers to the meaning of life, be considered art, be considered trash, be entertaining, touching, funny and sad. But they can also be a source of comfort and provide us with a momentary escape for an hour here and there.

I give thanks for books everyday. The two I’ve mentioned above won’t ever make it onto my all-time favourite books list, but that doesn’t stop me from holding them in a great deal of affection. Is there a particular book that holds good memories for you because helped get you through a difficult time?

Note added for all who are interested: Book 1 in Ashley Gardner's Captain Lacey Regency mystery series is currently free at Amazon.

Apr 11, 2016

New York to Tasmania

I’m very excited!  My new book – Wild For You – is now up for pre-order. The cover really captures the essence of my hero, Daniel.

Wild For You brings together Daniel, the owner of a Tasmanian wilderness walking company and Madison, a New York fashion designer. Madison has left behind her glamourous life for one week to rediscover her mojo. Little does she know that she’ll end up walking the stunning Cradle Mountain trail alone with hot hiking guide, Daniel. But what could possibly happen in those cute log cabins in the woods?

I walked the Cradle Mountain Lake St Claire wilderness trail a few years ago and it is the inspiration for this story. I walked with Cradle Mountain Huts Walks. The company has been running guided walks for over twenty-years and of course, they have huts.  Huts mean hot meals, hot showers, warm cabins and chilled wine. All this delivered by young, fit guides who take care of everything. Food tastes oh, so much better when you’ve trekked at least twelve kilometers and someone else has cooked.

Madison had to do all the things I had to including carrying her own pack. If she wanted clean clothes she had to wash them in the shower each night for which you pumped your own water.

There were so many highlights on the walk, but for me the greatest experience was climbing Tasmania’s highest peek, Mt Ossa. It stands at 1,617 metres in the middle of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Making it to the top does involve a lot of scrambling over huge boulders. The view is worth it even if you are a little intimidated by the climb (will all those boulders slide further down the mountain as I climb up?!?). From the top, a quarter of Tasmania is visible and not one man-made thing (well there’s an old disused mining road to the east, but we ignored that). When Daniel and Madison climb the mountain, they are in for the unexpected.

The guides on our walk were lovely, knowledgeable and fit.  They were passionate about conservation and taught us lots of interesting ecological facts. We visited a myriad of beautiful waterfalls; explored a disused mine shaft featuring one lonely spider and lots of cave crickets (ugly little critters); held Fairy’s Aprons, sweet little purple flowers; splashed in freezing rivers and lakes; ambled through ancient rainforests and learned about the wonderful array of native fauna and flora. A number of these sites feature in the book.

Pre-order Wild for You now at Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and other e-tailers. I hope you enjoy it as I loved writing this story.

If you wanted to recharge your mojo, where would you go?

Apr 10, 2016

Sunday Smooch with Stefanie London

Today we have a smooch from Stefanie London but first...

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

Can you please contact kandy (at) kandyshepherd (dot) com to receive your copy of Crown Prince's Chosen Bride

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from A DANGEROUSLY SEXY AFFAIR Stefanie's April 2016 release from Harlequin Blaze.

Ready, player one…

Quinn Dellinger is supposed to be having fun at an industry party for gamers. Instead, all she can think about is the promotion she just got passed over for at her security firm. Then she spots him. Tall? Check. Dark? Check. Dangerously sexy? Check. Hell, yes—this is the guy who’ll help her forget all her worries and give her one wickedly naughty night.

The next morning she discovers her one-night stand was the guy who took her job. Oh, hell no. But Aiden Odell is not just a security specialist, he’s ex-FBI, and Quinn is expected to work with him—very closely—on a major assignment. He may be tall, dark and dangerously sexy, but this is one game Quinn is determined to win…

Set up: This is a blaze book, so things get steamy quickly! Quinn and Aiden have slept together only to realize they're actually new colleagues who have to work a security case together.

“What do you want from me?” he asked.

Burning hunger flared across her face. A delicate flush rose up her neck, and her lips parted. Tempting as sin. Heat blazed in her hazel eyes, lighting up the flecks of gold and green in her irises. Frustration and anticipation, excitement and a hint of fear. All competing for dominance.

It was how she’d looked at him that night, as she’d taken his hand and followed him to his room. As she’d watched him lower himself down on her body, then latching his mouth on the sweet spot between her legs. Tasting her. Drowning in her.

“Quinn.” He tried to hold his response back and hide it from her. “Don’t look at me like that. If you do…”

“What?” she asked, the question echoing in his head, bouncing around.

“Do you want me to be honest?”

She blinked, eyes wide and black as an abyss. “Yes.”

The air snapped around them, filled with chaotic energy and magnetic desire. He took the folder from her hands, tossing it onto the HR manager’s desk.

“I’m sorry I lied,” he said.

She backed up against the filing cabinet, her chest rising and falling beneath the open motorcycle jacket. “And?”

“I wish you hadn’t snuck out that morning.” His training and practice slipped away; the skills he’d honed to be detached and impassive dissolving like a snowflake on his tongue. “I wasn’t finished with you.”

A whimper escaped her lips. “I had to go.”

“I know.” He slid a hand along her jaw until his fingers threaded into her hair. “But I’ve thought about you every day since then. I’ve imagined what else I want to do to you, what else I want you to do to me.”

Her teeth scraped along her lower lip as her palms came up to his chest, her fingers sliding along the fabric of his shirt and setting off sparks within him.

“Tell me to stop.” His forehead came down to rest on hers, his eyes squeezed shut. “Because I’m going to kiss you if you don’t.”

Use your words, Quinn. Say it, say something. Anything.
But she couldn’t. Trapped between the hard metal cabinet and Aiden’s even harder body, his hand wrapped around the base of her skull, she couldn’t convince herself to put a stop to it.

His warm breath fanned out across her cheek as he hovered, his lips so close to hers. Damn it. She wanted this kiss, wanted it like sleep at the end of a long day. She wanted to sink into him and let the world fade away until there was nothing but his tongue against hers. She wanted not to be terrified of feeling like this.

What happened to baby steps? It was supposed to be one night, spontaneous and risk-free and—

“Just say the word.” His lips brushed her cheek.

Her breath stuck in her throat and her heart pounded like a fist against her rib cage. Awareness ran through her, filling her with a delicious tingling.

“Quinn,” he breathed as his lips crushed down on hers.

The force of his kiss pressed her hard into the cabinet, the files rattling inside it as the handle dug into her back. But the glide of his tongue between her lips, the pressure of his hands and the warm, heady scent of him took everything else away. Robbing her of all experience but his kiss.

Her body responded immediately, an aching pulse gathering hot and tight in her sex. Fingers curling into his shirt, she clung to him with all the desperate, terrifying need she’d locked away for the past two years. But Aiden wasn’t going to take advantage of her like her ex; he wasn’t going to use sex to humiliate her.

Strong hands held her head in place as he explored her, taking and giving all at once. Memories of him swirled so vividly in her mind it was hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t. His pushed his thigh between her legs, parting her and pressing against the pulsing ache there. She gasped.

Yes, yes, yes.

Have you ever had ended up working with someone you know from different area of your life?  Leave a comment to be in the running for a paperback copy of A DANGEROUSLY SEXY AFFAIR.

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

Apr 8, 2016


Yes, it's my turn to be random with what I put up. Mainly because I am all out of ideas for a scintillating blog at the moment. Happens when too many other things are going on in my life.

I've spent a lot of hours getting around in this over the summer but now it's time to put it away as the water is getting way too cold for me.

Or I could buy a wetsuit. Now there's a thought.

Found this weeny egg in the chook house this morning. I think my hens know my man is on a diet.

We have had the biggest ever fruit crops this year and the freezer is chock full. So is another one. I am really into my fruit smoothies for breakfast and think I've got enough fruit to see me through to 2020! And there's still apples and feijoas to come. I won't mention the two cartons of tomato pasta sauce that are under this fruit.

Then there's the garlic, pears and beetroot. We're still getting through last year's garlic, though that's now crushed and stored in the fridge. Guess what we give to friends and family every summer?

We're well prepared for winter with manuka and pine split, dried and stacked. Cut down some large pine trees at the beginning of the year which dried quickly in our hot summer. This was taken before we filled the shed to bursting.

That's it. End of randomness.
Might do something really random and go pour a glass of wine since I've written a lot of words today.

Have you done anything today that's a little random?

Apr 6, 2016

In need of chocolate – Kandy Shepherd

Deep in the writer's cave, locked away in a desperate attempt to meet a deadline for my next novel, can you imagine my joy in finding at the very back of the fridge a bar of chocolate I didn’t know existed.

Milk chocolate with almonds—perfect food to fuel a deadline frenzy. I found it quite by chance, hunting for the remains of a chocolate Easter bunny—I’d thought I had at least one chocolate ear left.

The toothsome treat was, no doubt, hidden by someone in my family. So sorry, family. I’ll replace it when the manuscript is delivered to my endlessly patient editor and I emerge from that dark cave. The replacement bar will be safe then, as I will certainly be on a healthy eating and exercise regime to make up for those weeks sitting in that cave. (Or attempting to, anyway.)

What I found hidden in my fridge - sadly, not much left!

You get hungry and lonely in depths of the writer’s cave. There is only the company of imaginary friends. The need for comfort food is real. Of course, writers cannot live on chocolate alone. When I have turned away those who would mess with my muse, ie, my family, (which means I have no one to cook for me in my time of need) I have a few staples I turn to. One is a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup I cook up and live off for days.

It’s a soup very much like the one my mother used to make for me in times of stress—so there is most likely some psychological element to its nourishment. There is no recipe to share with you. It's a matter of just throwing everything into the saucepan.

I was a sickly child who suffered from recurring sinus and chest infections. When I was too unwell for even the soup, my mother would tempt my appetite (which never needs tempting these days, it's more in need of taming) with fresh white bread-and-butter with honey, cut into tiny triangles. When I would accept that, she’d know I was on the mend. Sadly, it never tasted the same when anyone but my mother made it…

I've run out of chicken soup and it's a long way to the shops from my mountain retreat. So tonight, to power the many words I need still to write, I made a pumpkin soup—a favourite of many of us Down Under. I stirred through it the very last of the zucchini from my garden, picked at that tender, fingerling stage. Then served it with brown rice (pre-cooked in a packet) and a blob of home-made pesto. It gave me the energy to write this post. And the good thing is there’s enough left for tomorrow and maybe even the next day.

My quick-fix pumpkin soup

Another somewhat decadent comfort food is something our family simply calls "The Slice". Indulging in it is reserved for special occasions, such as birthdays, as it is disgracefully rich in butter and condensed milk. But I am refusing to give in to the temptation to make a batch. I would have to crawl out of my cave for too long to make it. Just another reason I was so delighted to find that bar of chocolate.

My dietitian-in-training daughter does not approve of sugar hits for desperate writers nearing deadline. She does, however, tell me that the creative process of writing uses up a lot of energy and I need carbohydrate to fuel me. That does not mean chocolate. She approves of the almonds because they are a good source of protein and other nutrients. So I’m doing something right.

Now I’m craving baked beans on toast with fried tomatoes and bacon—something I only ever eat in the cave. Trouble is I don’t have any bacon. Or, for that matter, any baked beans. Only chocolate and pumpkin soup.

Do you have a favourite comfort food you turn to in times of deadlines and stress? I'd love to hear about it!

Apr 4, 2016

Walking While I Work

By Bronwyn Jameson

I don’t remember exactly how this came to my attention.  I think I may have followed a link from Facebook or Twitter which I bookmarked and promptly forgot about.  At the time I was quite happy sitting on my expanding backside while I wrote and read and internetted and watched TV and and and...

I really was sitting far too often for far too long.  Especially, when, as my sons kept telling me, “sitting is the new smoking.”  But I need to sit to get my work done, right?  Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, right?

Not necessarily. Let me introduce you to my new desk.  

Note to self: must tidy up those cords!

I would have included a picture of me walking while I work but that would have included pictorial evidence of that ever-expanding backside.  My treadmill desk has been operational for only a week, you see, and needs much more time to work it’s magic on my body.

My thoughts after the first week:

* Luckily it arrived before Easter when the handiest of my three sons was home.  There’s some weight in this baby so assembly was a two-man/woman job.

* To fit this in my office, I had to move my big desk out. I wanted to keep both – a small sitting desk and the treadmill -- but Son3 convinced me to go all-out so I wouldn’t slip back into the familiar routine of sitting all day.  I compromised by moving a comfy armchair into the corner.  (After he'd left!)

* I started out doing pre-writing tasks.  Outlining, planning, making notes and researching.  But I have started writing new words and that’s taking some adjustment. It is encouraging me to write “rough”, to get the words down without going back to correct typos (I make a LOT of those while walking) or to play with words and sentence structure. I’m thinking there isn’t room on this treadmill for me AND my internal editor.  A very good thing, yes?

* Writing notes on paper is even more difficult than typing.  Rough doesn’t even begin to describe the scribbling but, again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  As long as the scribble is legible.

* Walking speed is slow: anywhere between one and two miles per hour while typing or writing and a tad faster when reading (which I’ve been doing this weekend, on my Kindle.)  I find 90 minutes a session about right and then I need a break.  In that time I do 7,500 steps so I'm killing the 10,000 steps a day thing.  I want to spend my entire working day at this slow amble – that’s the end point – but that’s going to take some practice and a better pair of walking shoes.

* One big positive: I’m snacking far less than usual and my coffee consumption has more than halved.  Water is my new best friend!

* A negative: woosiness when I get off the treadmill. Despite the slow speed, it takes me a few minutes to find my land legs.

* A bigger negative: you have no lap while walking and therefore no lap dog or cat for company. 

Early days but I’m optimistic this will improve my health and fitness exponentially and I'm cautiously optimistic that this will help, rather than hinder, my wordcount.   I will report back next month on my progress.

Question: how do you manage your fitness/activity level while putting in long hours at your desk job?