Mar 31, 2017

Welcome Party for Our New LoveCat - Shannon Curtis

WELCOME EVERYONE to a very special LoveCats DownUnder post. We’re welcoming new LoveCat Shannon Curtis to the fold! 

But as always in life, there’s a give and take here. Sadly we’re saying goodbye to long term LoveCat Yvonne Lindsay who’s been active here while writing so many terrific books for Harlequin Desire. We’re sorry to see you go into the wild, Yvonne, but we know the time is right for you. We’ll hope to hear from you in the future when you have time.

Now to our newest Cat. Shannon lives in Sydney and is published in suspense, thrillers, paranormals and contemporary romance – what a spread. Her books have been finalists for Favourite Romantic Suspense every year from 2011 to 2016, as well as Favourite Continuing Romance Series, with the Australian Romance Readers' Association. Her work has consistently received four-star reviews from RT Book Reviews, and in 2016 she won the Australian Romance Readers' Favourite Paranormal Romance Award! 

As we’re welcoming Shannon, and giving away some mammoth prizes too (more on that below) we thought it only right to begin with an interview so you learn more about our newest LoveCat.

How long have you been writing?
I actually penned my first ‘novella’ when I was fifteen. Alas, that will never see the light of day. I started writing in earnest when I was home on maternity leave with my first baby. I tried to write children’s books, but realised after the birth of my second baby that romance fiction was where my heart really was, and so in 2007 celebrated my first short story release. It took me another four years to get my first full length novel published.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy most?
I am a plotter. I love plotting, and structure, and any other anal-retentive preparation you can think of. I will spend a lot of time figuring out just how to best torture my characters. Mwhahahahaha! I tried to ‘write by the seat of my pants’ once, and it was the most uncomfortable, frightening writing experience. I prefer to spend a lot of time thinking up pitfalls and twists for my stories. J

Does one of your books stand out from the rest – because it’s your favourite or maybe because it was tough to write?
I would have to say the books I wrote for The Bold and The Beautiful franchise were amongst the most difficult and challenging. Prior to that, I wrote romantic suspense, and I was under strict instructions not to kill off anyone in these novels. No crime, no violence. No bombs, guns or poisons, etc. For the first time I had to remove the suspense element from a novel, and solely focus on teasing out the nuances of a developing relationship. To say it was emotionally draining is an understatement. I understand, now, that authors who write those books on a regular basis pretty much open up a vein and bleed out their story. It’s a really personal, emotional journey to write that type of novel, and my utmost respect to those who do it.

Can you recall the first category romance you read? Is there a book (romance or otherwise) that made you want to become a writer?
My first category romance was definitely a Betty Neels book (I think the title was ‘The Girl with the Green Eyes.’ My mother LOVED Betty Neels, and I’d ‘borrow’ (creep in and remove, read, then creep in and return) the books from beneath her bed. She would receive a little parcel of books each month, and I’m not sure who was more excited when they arrived. Then I was introduced to Robyn Donald novels, via a schoolmate (yes, we’d open the book to THOSE pages and gasp and giggle over lunch). I would have to say, though, that Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood, Jayne Ann Krentz and ‘Amanda Quick’ can be blamed for my desire to become a writer. I was introduced to their books in my late teenage years, and I was HOOKED. So we can blame them. J

What category romance are you hoping to read next?
I hear Kandy Shepherd has yet ANOTHER book out (Conveniently Wed to the Greek, due out May 2017), so looking forward to that one, and Their One Night Baby, by Carol Marinelli, due out in April 2017.

Do you share your life with anyone furred, feathered or scaled? If so we’d love to hear about them.
Yes, I do. We have a cat who I believe is just a tad psycho with me, but just fine with my daughter. Her name is Lily Rose, and she has cattitude. I also have a groodle (golden retriever x poodle), who needs to be shorn every 8 weeks or so, and who has the sweetest disposition, generally keeps me company while I write, and displays the appropriate level of caution around the cat. My dog’s name is Whiskey – on account that when we got her as a pup she had a beautiful whiskey-coloured coat. She’s sweet company. Okay, so I’m definitely a dog person, but that’s because our cat is a shrew. And she scares me.

Finally, can you share one fact about yourself we might not already know.
I used to do martial arts. Two disciplines; ninjutsu and karate. My darling heart husband and I used to spar in the backyard with sparring mitts. Until one of us was knocked unconscious. The crazy things you do for love… (note: I was not the unconscious one). Then life got very busy, and now we prefer to sit and watch a good action flick.

We're so pleased to have you with the LoveCats!
So excited to be here, and thank you all so much!

Please feel free to leave a comment here to welcome Shannon. 
Can you also please mention if you live in Australia? You’ll find out why in a moment.

All those who comment on our party post will go in the draw to win one of three prizes!

2 winners (from anywhere in the world!) will EACH win:
·         Michelle Douglas’s April paperback release ‘The Spanish Tycoon’s Takeover’,
·         Annie West’s April paperback release ‘The Desert King’s Captive Bride’,
·         Kandy Shepherd’s May paperback release ‘Conveniently Wed to the Greek’,
·         Amy Andrew’s paperback release ‘Playing by Her Rules’,
·         Bronwyn’s Jameson’s recent retro duo paperback (which includes another Michelle Douglas story),
·         Stefanie Little’s paperback release ‘Mr Dangerously Sexy,
·         A backlist paperback of your choice from Melanie Milburne,
·         Louisa George’s ebook ‘Something Borrowed’,
·         Jennifer St George’s ebook ‘Wild For You’,
·         Ally Blake’s ebook ‘Kiss Me Quick’,
·         Helen Lacey’s paperback ‘Married to the Mom-to-Be’, and
·         Sue MacKay’s paperback ‘Resisting Her Army Doc Rival’.

How is that for some amazing reading? PLUS
1 winner (who must be in Australia) will win a fabulous bundle of category books courtesy of Harlequin Mills and Boon Australia!

The three winners will be announced in the ‘Sunday Smooch’ post on Sunday 9 March. That gives you over a week to comment and to share with your friends who love romance. Don’t forget to check back on the 9th to see if you’ve won!

Mar 29, 2017

Romance Novel Bingo

Have you ever played romance novel bingo? 

I've been watching Shallow Reader's bingo games for a while now and have been wanting to join in, but never seem to get around to it. So I was wondering - what if we all played a hand together? There's nothing the LovCats and our readers can't achieve if we put our mind to it!

Here's how we'll play - just leave a comment if you've read a book in March that covered one (or more) of the boxes. Just name the book and the square in your comment. You can cross off as many squares as you want / are able to. Let's see if we can get the whole board between us!

So, who wants to join in? Also, if you think you can get a line on your own, feel free to jump over to Shallow Reader's post and leave her a comment.

Edited: Here's the updated bingo sheet, showing which squares we've already crossed off. Thanks, Michelle, Susanne, Louisa, Helen, Bron, Lyn, and Ally!

Mar 27, 2017

What would you do for love? by Amy Andrews

Allow me to introduce you to Lee. 

Lee is an Australian idiot. 

He fully deserves this pisstake media report for his actions which involved jumping into a river, well known for it's crocodiles, all to impress a girl who didn't really look that impressed. 

Go ahead and watch the video (there's some language in it that's a little bit fruity) and judge for yourself. 
I'll wait....

Lee was damn lucky it was only his arm that got munched. It could have been ripped off, he could have been pulled under and I don't even want to estimate how much money he cost the taxpayers of Australia because he let a carton of goon and what was in his underpants do his thinking. does beggar the question... just how far would you go for love? Just how far should our heroes in our books go? Have *you* done something outrageously risky for love or know anyone who has? Have you read a hero who did something hold-your-breath stupid to get the girl?

PS The moral of the story is, dont be like Lee. No girl is worth being shoved under a log by a prehistoric beast.

Mar 26, 2017

Sunday Smooch - The Desert King's Captive Bride by Annie West

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from but first 

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

Can you please contact stefanie(at)stefanie-london(dot)com to receive your copy of 'Taken by the CEO'.

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Annie West's THE DESERT KING'S CAPTIVE BRIDE. was blackmailed into this marriage. I will not be blackmailed into bed.”  

Princess Ghizlan of Jeirut has returned home to find that warrior Sheikh Huseyn al Rasheed has seized her late father’s kingdom. With her sister held hostage, Ghizlan has no choice. Her barbarian captor is determined to tame her, rule her—and make her his own!

Forcing Ghizlan’s hand in marriage will not be enough to conquer her body and soul: Huseyn’s iron will is challenged at every step by her magnificent beauty and fierce pride. It won’t be long before they both fall prey to the firestorm between them…

Scene set-up
Princess Ghizlan returns home to Jeirut following the sudden death of her father, to discover herself under house arrest. The palace has been taken over by supporters of Huseyn al Rasheed, sheikh of one of the desert tribes, also known as the Iron Hand of Jumeah. Huseyn claims the throne and, to expedite his claim, he demands Ghizlan becomes his wife. But Ghizlan doesn't trust him or his claim that his actions are for the benefit of their people.

Smooch  -
'I’d simply never marry a man I despised on sight.’
‘Despised?’ His voice dropped to that bass rumble. Thunder to the lightning she’d seen a moment ago. She felt its vibration shimmer across her nipples and thighs.
‘Absolutely.’ Her chin notched even higher. Had he moved closer?
He had moved closer. She drew in that tangy scent of stable and man as he stepped in, toe to toe.
‘Then how do you explain this, my lady?’
Big, warm, implacable hands closed around her upper arms and his face lowered to hers.
Ghizlan whipped her head to one side but only succeeded in baring her cheek to this…this…bandit.
Whiskers brushed her in a totally unfamiliar caress, sending little shivers dancing across her skin. Warm lips, far softer than she’d imagined, nuzzled her cheek, stealing her breath.
She wouldn’t scream. She wouldn’t give him the pleasure of revealing fear. Instead she stood ramrod straight. Frozen.
Yet it wasn’t fear she experienced as his lips moved in a tantalisingly slow trail up to her ear. Ghizlan blinked, surprised at the odd sensation of warmth curling in on itself deep in her belly.
This had gone on long enough.
She yanked her arms back, trying to break his hold, but it was like wrestling a boulder. A huge, warm boulder scented not just with the stables but with an enticing, unfamiliar tang that she suspected was essence of Huseyn al Rasheed.
Teeth nipped her earlobe and she jumped, horrified at the fiery trail zapping from the spot straight to her womb, as if he’d jerked a string and she, like a puppet, responded. Her nipples budded hard and achy against her bra. Did he feel that as his big body pressed against her?
‘Stop it, you lout!’
Hands braced on his chest, she leaned back, trying to escape, but he was taller and stronger. In one swift movement he clamped both her hands against that brawny, powerful chest. His other hand grabbed the back of her head, inexorably turning her face towards him.
Ghizlan saw a flash of smoky blue beneath straight dark brows, then his mouth was on hers.
Heat, power, the rich, zesty scent of male skin. The soft prickle of his whiskers against her flesh contrasted with the sheer force of his mouth grinding down on hers. It was a predictably ruthless assault on her senses by a man determined to dominate.
Fear filtered into her stunned brain. Until she realised, astonished, that despite the power in that massive, muscled body, he’d pulled back a fraction. Even as the thought formed, the pressure on her lips eased and his hand in her hair gentled, cradling and massaging.
Ghizlan stared, trying to focus on the blue of his eyes, but he was too close. He shifted his stance, drawing her lower body in against him until there was no mistaking the monumental evidence of his arousal.
She gasped, stunned, and too late realised her mistake. For Huseyn al Rasheed took the opportunity to invade her mouth.
Not to ravage this time but to seduce. His movements were sure but gentle as his tongue swiped hers, learning the feel and taste of her, just as she discovered he tasted like almonds and something else impossibly, horrifyingly delicious.
Her chest cramped as she realised she enjoyed the sensation of his tongue tangling with hers.
Foggily she fought the drugging pleasure of those slow, sure, sensual movements of lips and tongue, no longer forcing but inviting.
A shiver passed from the back of her skull where his fingers caressed her, down to her curling toes.
She’d been kissed before. Perfectly pleasant kisses from perfectly nice men. Sweet kisses, even eager kisses. But none like this. None that demanded so imperiously then gentled to seduce her into feelings that surely were more dangerous than anything else he could unleash on her.
His kiss invited her to relax and follow the unfamiliar lure of pleasure. To be selfish, just once. His hand cupping her head supported but also caressed, sending whorls of languid delight through her.
And his hard body against hers—that was a totally new, electrifying experience. Ghizlan had kissed, and dated while a student, but, ever conscious of the high expectations placed on her, and the possibility for scandal if caught out publicly in a love affair, she’d never progressed beyond that.
No man had ever made her feel this potent longing for more.
Ghizlan tried to be strong, tried not to respond. Until she heard, and tasted, Huseyn’s low humming growl of satisfaction. It was a sensual assault, as real as his hand in her hair or his tongue stroking hers. The way it vibrated through her, sparking an answering excitement, was unlike anything she’d known.
His kiss slowed, deepened, became positively languorous, and Ghizlan’s bones began to soften. Her hands twitched against that powerful chest and before she knew it they’d slid up, over hard shoulders to tangle in tousled locks, tunnelling and tugging then clamping tight on his skull.
She shifted, angling her mouth to kiss him back and losing her breath as his erection aligned provocatively against her.
Another growl from the back of his throat and he roped one muscled arm around her, lifting her against him so the contact became even more blatantly sexual.
And devastatingly delicious.
Ghizlan gasped, her mind, like her body, running on overdrive. One part of her was aware of curving in, inviting more of that heavy, outrageously improper contact. Another revelled in the strength of a man who could lift her with one arm as if she were made of gossamer. But mainly she was focused on the provocative, delicious kiss she didn’t want to end.
Except this was wrong. On so many levels she couldn’t begin to count them.
The part of her consciousness that had been trained from birth to focus on duty, to be a good example, to do the right thing always, suddenly burst awake and screamed in horror.
Ghizlan dropped her hands to his shoulders and shoved with all her might.

What temptation would you most like to give in to right now? I'd love to hear. Leave a comment to be in the draw to win a signed copy of THE DESERT KING'S CAPTIVE BRIDE

I'm including here a photo of the yummy UK cover of this book. The winner gets to choose which edition they'd like - North American, UK or Aus/NZ!

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

Or if you can't wait to read CAPTIVE BRIDE you can order it from the usual places including
Barnes and Noble
and Harlequin

Smooch Graphic by WebWeaver

Mar 24, 2017

Street art...or graffiti?

Is it graffiti? Is it art?

It's becoming a thing. Whichever city I find myself in these days there's always an enclave of art, storeys high.  Someone must have commissioned it-surely? Or is it a movement to make the streets more pleasurable to walk along?

I have to admit I'm becoming a bit of a fan and look forward to seeing what the flavour's going to be wherever I'm going.

A couple of years ago in San Francisco we made a special journey to have a look at a couple of streets famous for their art (actually, the only reason I knew about them was because I'd been watching a series on TV called Sense8 which had a scene with characters running down these alleyways). We were amazed at the detail.

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco- this is on a wall! Wow!

San Francisco- yes, this is someone's garage

San Francisco - where is the door handle??

Hahndorf, Adelaide Hills
Recently we visited Adelaide and were very pleased to see the movement is catching on there too! And the next two photos are from toilet walls in one of the cafes...all hand drawn. Amazing!

Toilet Art!

Toilet Art 
In Adelaide our Airbnb apartment looked straight onto this scene. We loved the funky feel and wondered who the woman is?
Street art is taking off here in Auckland too. In one of the more 'vibrant' areas of the city an artist was commissioned to do a huge piece on a wall, ten feet high. We bought a print copy, because it was funny and funky...and there are only 69 copies available.....I'll leave you to work out why. (Sorry the photo isn't great, I couldn't stop the light from getting in).
Wall Art made into a print (wall art in our house)
So, do you have anything like this where you live? Do you like it? Is it 'art' or just graffiti?

Mar 20, 2017

Stefanie London's Top Travel Packing Tips

By the time this blog post is live I'll be on my way back from a trip to Vermont, USA. I'm heading to a writer's weekend where there's going to be plotting, brainstorming and general writerly shenanigans. Since moving to Canada, I've started travelling a lot more as Toronto is a hell of a lot more central to things than Melbourne.

So, I thought it might be fun to share some of my top travel packing tips.

Tip #1 invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones
Yes, they're expensive. But plane engine noise gives me a shocking headache and I seem to be a magnet for screaming children on planes. Now I simply pop on my headphones and either watch a movie, play music or use a white noise (or rain sounds) app to block out the world and keep my headache at bay.

Tip #2 less is more
Since travelling more often, I've started to get a hang of this whole 'packing light' thing (which in my case, is more packing lighter than light, but I digress). This means I try to take carry-on luggage only, for shorter trips. One area where I'm strict is shoes: they're heavy, they take up a lot of space and it's not necessary to have four pairs of shoes for a long weekend. I try to wear my heaviest shoe (usually a boot, unless I'm travelling in summer) and then pack things like sneakers, flats and heels (if I even need a pair of heels. Blasphemy, I know) in my suitcase.

Tip #3 less is more (makeup edition)
Being a makeup lover, I used to travel with makeup for all occasions: multiple lipsticks, false eyelashes, different types of eyeshadow, foundations and powders. Then all the brushes required to apply those products. The list goes on. These days I look for products that can be used for all situations (like a nude lipstick that will go with any eye look) and aim for ones that don't require a blush for application (like a cream blush instead of a powder one).

Tip #4 use a colour palette
This is one of the best things I've started doing with my wardrobe in general, but it definitely applies to travel. Stick to a colour palette for your clothing by using 1-2 neutral base shades (e.g. black and grey) and then add 1-2 accent colours (e.g. light blue and yellow). That way, each item you bring will work with every other item in your suitcase and you won't get stuck on the last day of your trip with a top and a pair of pants that don't go together.

Tip #5 always pack a durable plastic bag or two
You never know when you'll need one. They work great for containing dirty laundry or for wrapping up shoes with dirty soles. They can act as a shopping bag for food items or gifts, or as a way to keep items separate in your suitcase. Then can even be used for extra carry-on space if you need it.

Tip #6 use your socks and shoes to protect delicate items
I'm one of those people who always travels with a bottle of perfume. I can't be without a pretty scent! If I'm packing my perfume into checked baggage, I encase it in a sock for protection against breakage. Then I add the second sock over it as another layer, and stuff the whole thing inside a shoe. This works great for delicate items like an souvenirs, as well. Just remember, if you're only taking carry-on luggage your perfume will need to be in a clear bag with all your other liquids!

That's it for today. I hope you found something useful in this post. What are your best packing tips? Leave them in the comments below.

Mar 17, 2017

Gentle(wo)men Prefer Blondes!

Actually, I'm not really sure that's true. But when I was recently trolling Google images for snaps of hunky men, a friend of mine pointed out that I always seemed to stop and ogle the one's of the fair haired variety.

Now, this came as something of a surprise to me, because I have always insisted I was more in the tall and dark and handsome corner. More Greek god, than Nordic Prince. But then my friend pointed out that my husband was in fact, blonde....and so the self-reflection began.

As an author, and in the need to create effective characterization, at any given time I have several of what my husband calls my "Hollywood Boyfriends". Not that I only write fair haired heroes...I've had heroes with Italian heritage and in the book I just handed in to my editor that comes out in August, my hero is African American. At the moment though, my favorite is the lovely Armie Hammer. I just love this scene from The Man From Uncle....

My next favorite fairish haired hero type is Chris Pratt... usually more of a funny guy and in this scene from that awful movie Jurassic World (sorry to any fans out there) he gets to briefly lock lips with Bryce Dallas Howard...I love the look on the kids faces as they watch their usually uptight aunt Claire kiss the roguish Owen.

My fair-haired favorite number three is, of course, Chris Hemsworth. Okay, so anything with Chris Hemsworth is worth watching. Whether he's Thor, a race car driver, trying to catch a white whale or when he's playing the tortured Huntsman...really, the man is so beautiful he can do no wrong. And by all accounts he's a great husband and dad too, so he gets extra credit!

So, what's your poison? Tall, dark and handsome? Or fair and fabulous? Would love to hear which way you swing!

Mar 13, 2017

To Be or Not to Be…Alone

Writing can be a very solitary occupation. I find if I spend too many days in my office by myself, I go a bit nuts!  So, I often head into Byron Bay or Bangalow (another beautiful little village near my house) and write in a café. 

I find I can screen out the noise and chatter around me very easily.  This way I still feel part of the community and the constant stream of freshly brewed coffee is also good. My local library is another great place to write and I’ve even set up shop at a picnic table by the beach. The sound of the waves is such a joy.

But there is one part of the story I can’t write in public. I can’t write those sex scenes when surrounded by strangers. I’m always worried someone will read over my shoulder and get a shock, or I’ll blush and people with wonder what I’m up to!

How about you? When you are working, do you like the solitude or do you operate best in the midst of the action?

News Flash: My best-selling story, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love, is still on sale for $0.99. For a passionate read, pick up a copy from Amazon, iTunes and other etailers.

Mar 12, 2017

Sunday Smooch with Stefanie London

Welcome to another LoveCats DownUnder Sunday Smooch!

Today we have a smooch from  Stefanie London but first 

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

Laura, can you please contact melaniemilburne (at) gmail (dot) com
to receive your copy of The Temporary Mrs Marchetti .

And now for today's Sunday Smooch from Stefanie London

Taken by the CEO (book #1 in The Scandalous Wentworths series)

Her first one-night stand…and her new boss.

It was only supposed to be a little white lie. When Emmaline Greene pretends to be Sarah, the confident, sexy woman she wishes she could be, she figures no harm, no foul. Her one-night stand will never find out. Wrong. The gorgeous guy she slept with isn’t just amazing in bed…he’s also her new boss.

Parker Wentworth has just been appointed CEO of his family’s company and is tasked with repairing its scandalous reputation. He can’t afford any distractions. So why can’t he forget the incredible night they spent together and move on?

Set up: Parker and Emmaline have been trying to keep their hands to themselves in the office, but the memory of their one night together is getting the better of them.
Parker leaned forward and pressed the button on his intercom. “Mercy? I’ll be in here with Miss Greene for the next hour at least. No need for you and the team to stay.”

There was something wolf-like in the way Parker ordered the office to be emptied. Something predatory and hungry. It made the sweet spot between her legs ache for him. Mercy’s response came through the speaker, and the bang of drawers closing sounded on the other side of the wall a moment later. Parker stood statue-still as the women’s voices faded. They were alone.

Emmaline swallowed, her pulse uttering with anticipation. “That was kind of you to send them all home.”

“Kind?” His lips lifted, a wicked smile appearing and sending her mind into a spin. “It was downright selfish. How else am I going to tempt you into making bad decisions unless we’re alone?”

“Didn’t I say that I wasn’t interested?”

His confidence annoyed her. Never mind that his words were whipping her into a frenzy. How was it possible that the one thing she kept telling herself to avoid was the very thing that got her heart racing like a thoroughbred? His assumptions should have been a turnoff. But they were the total opposite.

“You did.” His hands came to the silk knotted at his neck. “But then you walked into my office wearing those shoes.”

Emmaline shifted her weight. “I like pretty shoes.”

“I like them, too.” He pulled the tie loose.

“What if I didn’t wear them for you?” Her mouth was suddenly dry as thunderclouds passed over his face, but the urge to bait him tugged at her. She would never have spoken to her ex like this, would never have needled at him to chase her, to hunt her. “I might have a hot date after we finish up.”

Satisfaction coiled inside her as he stalked across the office, tie in hand. Two could play at his game.

“You won’t have a date,” he said.

“And why is that?” she asked, folding her arms across her chest. She wanted him, there was no doubt about that, but that didn’t mean she’d let him push her around and tell her what she could and couldn’t do.

No one controls you anymore.

“Because you won’t be able to walk properly after we’re finished.” He was in front of her, trapping her between his broad chest and the expensive office door. She couldn’t take her eyes off the tie, that red—so rich and bold, like blood. “You’re not leaving this office until your knees have given out.”

“Then how will I leave if I can’t walk?” she asked tartly, because that was the only way she could respond without melting at his feet.

“I’ll throw you over my shoulder if I have to.”

There was something seriously wrong with her. This caveman talk should have red off every warning signal in her body. It should have made her recoil, reconsider her desires. It should have made her want to kick off those ridiculous heels and run out of his office as fast as she could.

But it didn’t.

“You’re bossy, aren’t you?” Her voice totally gave away how aroused she was...traitorous thing.

“Bossy?” A low chuckle rumbled from within him. “It’s been a while since someone called me that.”

She shrugged. “To your face, anyway.”

He lifted the tie up and placed it over her eyes, reaching around to knot it gently behind her head. “You can leave when I’ve had my fill.”

Her breath hitched as her heart tried to punch its way out of her chest. For a moment, there was nothing. No sound, no scent, nothing but the blackness behind her closed eyelids. God, she wanted this so much. She wanted him.

There was something seriously wrong with her. This caveman talk should have red off every warning signal in her body. It should have made her recoil, reconsider her desires. It should have made her want to kick off those ridiculous heels and run out of his office as fast as she could.

But it didn’t.

“Then hurry up,” she said, feeling bolder and braver in her safe, sightless cocoon. “I haven’t got all night.”

His warm breath skated over her cheek as his lips brushed her ear. “You’ll stay here until I’ve given you what you want. What you crave.”

His lips met hers, gentle at first but then as she opened to him, he thrust his tongue into her mouth and kissed her senseless. His hand was at her thighs, easing them apart. Sagging, her palms flattened against the wood, fingers splayed wide as if that would save her from dissolving under his kiss.

I hope you enjoyed this smooch! 

To go into the running to win a digital copy of Taken by the CEO, just leave a comment below letting me know your all-time favourite office romance couple - it can be from a book, TV or movie.

Stay tuned next week for another smooch.

Mar 10, 2017

Quirky Stuff ...

Ten years ago we sold our house in town and moved out to the Marlborough Sounds to live in our very much smaller beach cottage for two years while we decided on our next move. Yep, those two years have stretched and stretched, and every time we look elsewhere to move to we end up coming home and agreeing we live already in Paradise.

BUT - isn't there always at least one of those? - this place is tiny and at the time of moving here we had another house load of furniture and all the other stuff people collect over the years, including quite a lot of my late mother-in-law's that the boys have yet to sort through. (Another short term project that has stretched)

So we have a lock up that is chock full of furniture and stuff that I doubt we'll ever use again. This week I decided to start sorting and clearing, disposing and yes, keeping some of the contents. I'm already making inroads, though it's going to be a long project as the lock up is a hundred kilometres from where we live, but then on the bright side there's an excuse to go to town and the shops.
The charity shops and tip are going to see quite a bit of me, I think.

BUT - another one - I found these and am going to hang on to them, use them. No point in keeping them if I leave them wrapped in newspaper and stuffed in the back of a cupboard. which means making space here by getting rid of other unused stuff.

 This little plate was my mother's and I like the colours so it's a keeper.


I love my cups of tea, drink gallons of it, and this cup is large, perfect for when I'm writing and don't want to keep getting up to go to the kitchen for a refill.

I Strangely I've been looking for a butter dish for some time but hadn't found anything I liked. Guess this was the reason. I love it. Totally odd and quirky. Courtesy of my late mother-in-law it is now in use.
Of course these are the easy things to deal with. Anyone want a chest freezer or a washing machine that's out of its prime or a .... I could go on and on.
Have you got a hoard of things like these hidden away somewhere? Or in use? Or are you more sensible and restrained and have tidy cupboards and shelves?

Mar 8, 2017

Motel Musings

 Today I was going to blog about dream hotels. You know the ones—those icons of luxury, sophistication and untold wealth that make your mouth water as you glance through their gallery of pictures. Why? Because Xavier Ramos the hero of my new release next month (The Spanish Tycoon’s Takeover) is an hotelier. His family owns a network of luxurious 5-star hotels.

Oh, but I started getting seriously distracted by the pictures! I could disappear down that rabbit hole for hours…days!

My favourite hotel ever is The Dorchester in London. It’s one of those amazing traditional 5-star British hotels like Claridges and Browns, which are havens of luxury, sophistication and good taste. We spent our wedding night there (hence the reason that no other hotel will ever hold the #1 spot in my mind). The rooms were gorgeous. Look, this is a picture of our room—a double deluxe with a four poster bed and views of Hyde Park. Gorgeous, huh?

The service was amazing. They knew it was our wedding night so had a bottle of complimentary French bubbles waiting for us on arrival. And chocolates! Happy sighs.

 But, here’s the thing, the staff uniform included a Hermes’s scarf, and I bet that scarf cost more than my entire suitcase full of Kmart classics. Did I feel like an imposter? You bet. Did I care? Not a jot. I enjoyed the experience to the full.

In contrast to all of this luxury, however, Wynne Stephens my heroine runs her grandmother’s little old motor-inn. And it can’t be denied that the place is getting a little squidgy around the edges. I based it on a motor-inn we stayed in Melbourne two Christmases ago. I fell in love with it and its faux Victorian manor house decor. It was definitely…quirky. Look at our room! Fun, huh? :-)

 I love staying in hotels, motels, motor-inns, serviced apartments or B&Bs. It feels divinely decadent after a childhood of holidays spent in caravan parks (which I loved, mind you). What about you? Have you stayed anywhere so swish it’s taken your breath away? Or do you have a firm favourite that you return to again and again?

NB: In honour of "ghosts of hotels past" I’ll be giving away a copy of The Spanish Tycoon’s Takeover to one of my newsletter subscribers in a few weeks time plus a scarf (though it’s not a Hermes…but look at those hearts! Isn’t it the sweetest? I bought two—one as a prize and the other to keep for myself because I couldn’t resist). So if you haven't subscribed, and would like to go into the draw, pop on over to my website and sign up for my newsletter.

Oh, and The Spanish Tycoon's Takeover is available for pre-order now too! :)
Barnes and Noble

Mar 6, 2017

All About The Planning

by Bronwyn Jameson

I am a planner by nature.  I believe I’ve admitted before that this should have been my career. Planning in some guise or other, whether as an EA running someone else’s life, or a travel planner, or an events planner, or a book planner (I wish this were a real job -- can I admit that I love planning a story about 1000% more than actually writing it?)

This extends beyond writing to other areas of my life. Perhaps I should say, to ALL areas of my life.

I have a spreadsheet for pretty much everything.  Books read, books bought and unread, books wishlisted.  Finances, macro and micro.  Shares.  Frequent flyer points.  Credit card spending.  I do a weekly meal plan and shopping list according to the menu. (Full disclosure: I don’t always stick to the plan, but that’s another story!)

My greatest enjoyment of all comes from travel planning.  My family cannot believe how much time and effort I put into the process, but here’s the thing: I do it because I love it.  The googling, the reading, the budgeting.  The shuffling of options.  If only we could stay at ALL the hotels on my carefully curated list!  If only we could do ALL the day-trips!  If only we had more days, more nights, more weeks! 

Afternoon tea with a view: Aqua Shard
Our big trip this year is to London, primarily to visit our son and daughter-in-law, but with a side-trip or three.  Hence my wish for more time than we can afford to take!

I've decided in recent years that every trip should include at least one bucket-list item and special treat. The treat is likely to be food and beverage related,  something I would usually reject as ridiculously overpriced or unhealthily calorific (or both!)  A starred restaurant or cocktails with a view or an afternoon tea somewhere iconic.  That kind of thing.

A room with a view: Hotel Endsleigh
As for the bucket-list, I'm tossing up between staying in a castle or a grand country house which, come to think of it, would also be a special treat.  But, oh, the fun of the research.  The choices! The rooms! The history! The countryside views! THE FOOD!

Decisions must be made at some stage in the next few months, and then bookings. But for now we’ve locked in the flights (a big bucket-list tick) and booked accommodation for our London stay.  The rest I’m dragging out while loving every day of anticipation.   

How about you...  Do you love the planning almost as much as (or even more than) the doing?  

What do you like to plan, and what areas of your life do you prefer to wing?

Mar 5, 2017

Sunday Smooch- Melanie Milburne

Hi Everyone,
But before I start- the winner of Sue Mackay's Smooch is Lyn M. Could you please email Sue with your postal details so she can get the book to you.

Now for my smooch....
I am excited to share with you a smooch from my latest release- The Temporary Mrs Marchetti. I love relationship revisited stories as there is always so much going on between the characters. All that simmering history and ongoing antagonism!

Alice Piper walked out on her Italian lover seven years ago when he mentioned the M word. After watching her mother go through three horrible marriages, Alice has sworn she will never marry. But Cristiano's late grandmother's will states that Alice will co-inherit a luxury villa in Stresa if she marries Cristiano and stays married for six months.

I loved crafting these two characters. Alice is a beauty therapist, and given her aversion to matrimony, has ironically become the go-to girl in London for wedding makeup. Cristiano is a hard-nosed businessman who has never forgiven Alice for ending their relationship after he proposed to her. But unless he does as his grandmother's will states, he will lose a large portion of his company shares to a cousin he has no time for.

Here is a little smooch... oh, by the way- I didn't allow these two to kiss until Chapter Five. Yes, Chapter Five!!! That's because they are both incredibly strong-willed and were both trying not to be the first to break. So much fun to work with such strong personalities! :)

   He slid a warm hand around the nape of her neck and drew her inexorably closer, only stopping once her mouth was within a breath of his. 'I'd do you now but I wouldn't want to disturb the other passengers with your screams of pleasure.'
   Alice kept her eyes trained on his smiling mouth, her heart leaping in excitement, her whole body trembling with feverish anticipation. Only he could make her sob with pleasure. Sob and scream and shudder from head to foot. How had she resisted him this long? It was crazy to keep denying herself the sensual thrill of his touch. So what if it only lasted a few months? A few months were better than no months. She'd spent the last seven years missing the magic of his lovemaking. Why not enjoy it while it lasted? 'You're not thinking of using one of the bathrooms?'
   'No. I'm going to make you wait until we get home.'
   Cruel. Cruel. Cruel.
   Alice stroked a fingertip over his top lip, following the contours of his vermillion border, his stubble catching on her skin like a thorn on silk. 'I could take things into my own hands...' she said with a suggestive glance.
   His eyes glinted and his hand on the back of her neck slid under the curtain of her hair, the slight drag on the roots sending a blot of fizzing electricity down her spine. 'Hold that thought.'
   Alice closed the distance between their mouths, touching hers down on his as softly as a butterfly landing on a petal. She eased back but because his lips were dryer than hers they clung to her softer skin as if they didn't want to let her go. He made a rough sound deep in his throat and brought his lips back to hers in a slow, drugging kiss that made her insides coil and twist and tighten with longing. His tongue entered her mouth in a smooth, deep glide that had a deliciously erotic element to it. It called hers into a sensual dance that made her feminine core contract with need. The kiss went deeper, drawing from her a response she had never given to anyone else....

I could continue but I think you get the idea- they might not have kissed for seven years and five chapters but they sure made up for it!

I hope you enjoy The Temporary Mrs Marchetti. I certainly enjoyed writing it and look forward to reading your comments. Given that Alice and Cristiano are strong-willed and determined, what opinion do you currently hold that you can't see changing any time soon?

Best wishes,
Melanie xxx