Saturday, January 27, 2007


While Max and Louise are keeping themselves amused, I thought you might like to see the latest addition to my family.

I’ve got a new grand-cat.

This is Bernard making himself totally at home when he came to visit with his fellow grand-cat, Nigel, at Christmas.

Nigel is big – in fact he’s on a diet.

Bernard is just huge, but that’s not over-eating; it’s the way he’s built. There’s something of the Maine Coon about him which means he’s the size of a small dog with furry paws the size of dinner plates.

He's getting on, bless him, and was found, minus most of his fur, with one eat-chewed off and very close to death a few months back.

The wonderful CPL people nursed him back to health, but like Nigel he’s lost his natural immunity to stuff and has to stay inside. As you can see, he really liked the stairs. Maybe they’re a novelty as he lives in a ground floor flat.

I also have a new grand-dog, too. Bob. He’s moved in with Kees, Flynn (who was a magazine pin-up boy recently) and Milo. He’s another rescue dog, a golden retriever and growing like a weed and now there really is NO MORE ROOM ON THE SOFA!

He’s smart as paint. apparently and sailed through his dog training classes, unlike Milo who will chew anything – but then Milo had a very bad start in life so needs a lot of praise and encouragement. And gets it. I'll be meeting Bob in person this spring, but photos are on the way and as soon as I have them, I’ll share.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


While you're waiting for February 14th and St Valentine's Day, I thought you might like to know that in Wales we have our own Patron Saint of lovers.

St Dwynwen's Day -- Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen -- is celebrated on 25 January, when winter is darkest and spirits need a special lift.

Dwynwen lived during the 5th century and was one of the prettiest of Brychan Brycheiniog's 24 daughters. Dwynwen fell in love with a prince called Maelon Dafodrill, but unfortunately her father had already arranged that she should marry someone else.

Dwynwen was so upset that she could not marry Maelon that she begged God to make her forget him. After falling asleep, Dwynwen was visited by an angel, who appeared carrying a sweet potion designed to erase all memory of Maelon and turn him into a block of ice.

God then gave three wishes to Dwynwen. Her first wish was that Maelon be thawed; her second that God meet the hopes and dreams of true lovers; and third, that she should never marry. All three were fulfilled, and as a mark of her thanks, Dwynwen devoted herself to God's service for the rest of her life.

She founded a convent on Llanddwyn, off the west coast of Anglesey, where a well named after her became a place of pilgrimage after her death in 465AD. Visitors to the well believed that the sacred fish or eels that lived in the well could foretell whether or not their relationship would be happy and whether love and happiness would be theirs. Remains of Dwynwen's church can still be seen today.

Monday, January 22, 2007


The Romantic Novelists' Association have just announced the shortlist for their 2007 "ROMANCE PRIZE".

Two Harlequin Romance/Silhouette Romance books made the cut and they are: --

Accepting the Boss's Proposal
by Natasha Oakley (who I was absolutely certain would be there this -- and watch out for the name on the RITA nominations later this year).
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Her Ready-Made Family
by Jessica Hart (who won it last year -- what more can I say!)
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

The other books on the shortlist are:

An Improper Companion
by Anne Herries (who won the prize in 2004)
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Lord Greville's Captive
by Nicola Cornick
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Marrying Max
by Nell Dixon
(My Weekly Story Collection)

The Gladiator's Honour
by Michelle Styles (another book I fully expected to see on the list and again, watch out for the RITAs later in the year)
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

The Millionaire's Runaway Bride
by Catherine George
(Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Don't forget, you have two more days to enter the HERE COME THE BRIDES contest. All details here!

The rival competition, run by the GROOMS, is running until 10th February. All details

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Good grief!

Can’t a girl have a little fun with a couple of friends? Kick back at a Spa, enjoy the bliss of an innocent body scrub, the odd aromatherapy massage, a facial or two. Run a little competition just to make life interesting for our authors without our menfolk deciding to get competitive?

I’m Louise by the way and Max (adorable, sexy) is my groom! Don’t be fooled by all that macho chest-beating stuff by the way; he’s putty...

Okay, it took him a little while to get his priorities right, to discover that all work and no play is a very bad idea. Although working with Max is fun, too, even when – especially when I have to go the extra mile to get his undivided attention.

Not a problem. I have years of practice to call on. Ever since he kissed me under the mistletoe the Christmas I was sixteen if you want to know. Before that we were just kids and obviously I hero-worshipped him. But that kiss changed everything. I was still on his case, but he was running for cover. Even when I had him lined up as my date for the school Prom (with a killer dress to change into the minute I was out of the house) he did the sensible thing and stood me up. I’m prepared to admit, now, that it was a good thing (he's a good guy) but I didn't see it that way at the time and it took me a long time to forgive him.

In fact, if he hadn’t needed me so badly to help with the relaunch of Bella Lucia that he was reduced to begging (which was very sweet!) I might never have discovered just how much he was suffering, too.

Which reminds me, darling Max, I’m supposed to be the PR genius in this twosome. Not that you’re making a bad job of promoting this competition you’re running with Theo and Domenico. Clearly you were paying very close attention at that one-on-one masterclass I gave you that night when... Well, you know when.

Obviously, I would have done the whole thing with considerably more elegance; rather less emphasis on the size, rather more on the quality of the prizes on offer. For quality you really need the Brides competition; three prizes of three books telling our stories – Martha’s, Alice’s and mine. I can see that you’d have to offer something really outstanding to compete with that, but while three prizes of nine books might just be a little excessive, I have to admit that more of the Fabulous Three’s books cannot be a bad thing. Just remember that our story is the important one.

Anyway, I’m glad to see that you’re keeping very good company in my absence; I hope you’re taking notes of Domenico’s delicious Italian phrases, Mr "I’m-a-Quarter-Italian"! And if Theo’s an example of what’s on offer afloat, well, let me tell you that I’m not averse to a little water sport, either!

I can see why Martha couldn’t wait to get back to her beloved...

Where, exactly are you planning to take me on our honeymoon, my love? Somewhere hot? Somewhere where we can do a little diving? A little sailing? If you give me a hint, I might just give you a clue where to find me...

Ah, too late! A delightful Irishman has just arrived to give me a pedicure and foot massage...

Irishman? There are men at this Spa? Okay, that’s it, I’m on the next plane to Dublin. Liz, can you hold the fort here for a bit? Remind people about the Grooms competition, or something...

As if I haven’t got enough to do, Max! Although I have to agree with the reviewer at Romantic Times who said “...strong-minded Louise and attractively arrogant Max are well matched, and their sparring is especially memorable...” She certainly got the "sparring" bit right!

Okay, I know, you’re missing Louise and I suspect she was teasing you for the same reason. She meant to bring you running and these days, I’m very glad to see, you want to run to her and not in the opposite direction. I'm really rather proud of you...

Oh, dear, he seems to have gone. Impatient. I like that...

Right, well, since Max and Louise seem to have other things on their minds right now – bless – I’ll just remind you that the Brides competition is open until the 31 January. For three chances to win copies of THE ITALIAN’S FORCED BRIDE, THE SANTORINI BRIDE and THE VALENTINE BRIDE you need to send the names of all three heroines (first and last names) by email to Anne, Kate and or me – you’ll find the information you need and links on our websites.

For details of the Grooms competition, which is open until 10 February, click

This is from the Spring issue of the Mills & Boon Romance Newsletter. If you've got a story to tell, funny, sad, ghastly -- they want to hear it, and maybe print it. So go to it!

What was one of your worst dates ever?

Dreadful dates -- we've all had 'em. Share one of yours!

We know not everythng is champagne, chocolate and roses... and what doesn't kill us can make us stronger, wiser, more compassionate... funnier. So go ahead! Make my date! Share your most memorable experience...and the aftermath (if appropriate!). Your submission should be limited to 600 words and may be included in an upcoming Mills & Boon title or be part of a collection of stories and quotes, with attribution.

Please send your real life love story to:
Mills & Boon Real Life
Eton House
18-24 Paradise Road
Richmond Surrey

or email

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I’m rescuing the blog from Max for a moment on behalf of another “bride”. Since her book is out this month in both the US and the UK (Australia next month), it won’t wait.

I met Jackie Braun at the RWA conference in New York -- that is to say we both found the same quiet corner for a quiet drink after the Rita awards ceremony with senior editor, Bryony Green -- at the point when her Silhouette Romance editor had suggested that her “voice” might be more suited to Harlequin Romance. I’m not familiar enough with the SR oeuvre to comment on that – we don’t get many of them in the UK. What I can tell you is that Harlequin Romance are extremely lucky to have such an author; her voice is sure, strong and she isn’t afraid to tackle difficult subjects, which is why I asked her to join me in writing a trans-continental trilogy SECRETS WE KEEP (more of which later in the year!)

Her latest book, THE BUSINESSMAN’S BRIDE, caught my attention because the cover art has not “smudged” over the fact that her heroine is of mixed race. Jackie is not the first author to go there – the heroine of my own THE TYCOON’S TAKEOVER (which is being reissued in March in a three in one containing the whole BOARDROOM BRIDEGROOMS trilogy) had a Eurasian mother. And the extraordinary Anne Weale wrote BLUE DAYS AT SEA back in 1981, with a West Indian hero and mixed race heroine -- not that you'd have guessed it from the cover art.

It says a great deal about new confidence of Harlequin Romance that Jackie’s cover celebrates her heroine’s nationality.

But that’s just a small point. The big one is that this is a wonderful book with two characters facing the challenge of nature over nurture, putting their belief in who they are to the test, confronting the past and winning through to a wonderful future and I heartily recommend it.

Okay, I'm back to the deadline cave -- Max, it’s all yours.

Thanks, Liz.

Another bride? A guy could get to feel outnumbered around here. Just remember that anything they can do, we can do ...

No, self-preservation suggests I'd be a fool to say that. I'll just remind you to scroll on down for a bride-free zone where you’ll find details of THERE GO THE GROOMS and the chance to win a serious bundle of books.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Hi, I’m Max Valentine (is that better Kate?)

Apparently she thought I came across as a little, how can I put it, direct yesterday, but I was mad, okay? Louise is supposed to organising our wedding, not organising a Here Come the Brides contest. But anything she, Sadie and Martha can do, Theo, Domenico (not “Dom” apparently) and I have decided that we can do better.

So while we’re occupied with hunting for our brides, we’ve decided to offer you a little incentive to join in with a hunt of your own. Make that a BIG incentive. We’ve sweet-talked each of our authors into offering not just one book (although obviously that’s the important one!) but three books from their back list for our Groom’s Contest.

Since they’ve ganged up and refused to hand over the keys to their websites, this is strictly blog-based, but other than that the rules are the same as the brides’ contest.

You get three chances to win -- one on each of the blogs: mine (okay, Liz’s), Theo’s (Anne’s), and Domenico's (Kate's).

There are nine questions – three on each blog. That’s just one for each book you can win, which seems reasonable to me. Some of them have two parts, so make sure you’ve got all the answers before you send them in. For nine books you’re going to have to work harder! The answers can all be found on the blogs– or by using the sidebar links.

According to Liz you’re the smartest people she knows and she’s confident you can do it.

When you’ve got all the answers, send them to each of our authors. You can contact them through their websites (there’s a sidebar link on the blog) or, in the case of Anne's you can just click on the "Contact Anne" tab and then send the email from there. Don’t forget to put GROOMS CONTEST in the subject.

So, go for it. You have three chances to WIN a pile of great books. Not as great as ours, of course but pretty damn good. Heck, Liz, Kate and Anne are all award winning authors.

What? You want to know which books you’ll win?

Right, well, Liz has hunted out a collection of “Groom” books: A Suitable Groom (it wasn’t issued retail in the States apparently and these are her last copies so you’ll want this one); Her Wish-List Bridegroom (which ws shortlisted for an RT Reviewers Choice award -- whatever that is) and, Her Corporate Bridegroom.

Anne has chipped in with a three-in-one book containing three complete novels: The Cowboy's Code, containing Cowboys Don't Quit, Cowboys Don't Stay and The Cowboy and the Kid (Romantic Times's Best Series Novel of the Year) PLUS a copy of Theo Savakis's book by the author whose name you have to figure out.

From Kate each winner will get her best-selling Alcolar Family trilogy: The Twelve-Month Mistress, The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife and Bound by Blackmail.

The contest starts now and ends February 10th, 2007 so we can send off prizes before the weddings (and so Anne and Kate can go to Ireland "to research") And let’s face it, after that we’re going to have our hands full!

Okay. That’s it. Apart from the questions. Go to it!


1) Which book, also being published in February has a hero called Theo Savakis (who is NOT ME because he is going to marry Miranda Weston and I am going to marry MARTHA!) and who is the author of that book?

2) My (Theo's) sister was the heroine of an earlier McAllister book. What's the name of the book -- and the full name of my sister?

3) McAllister says there is "another hero" in The Santorini Bride (which isn't true, by the way). What breed of dog is Ted?


1 Where did Kate celebrate a book launch party this month and which famous novelist did she meet there?

2. What award did Kate's February release - The Italian's Forced Bride win?

3. If the winner of The Brides Contest has already read The Italian's Forced Bride, Kate will give away a copy of her March M&B Modern release which also had Bride in the title. What is the name of this book – and what is the name of it’s hero?


1) St Valentine’s Day is a worldwide phenomenon, but Liz (my author) lives in Wales and they have their own special day for lovers in January. What’s the date? And what is the name of the saint involved?

2) The Valentine Bride (the book that Louise and I share), is the last one in a mini series. What was the series called? Name another author who wrote a book in that series.

3) Liz wrote a special online story The Cinderella Valentine to set up this series. What are the full names of the two characters who met and fell in love in my Chelsea restaurant?

That's it. Go to it!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Okay, I’m Max Valentine and this blog is MINE!

I’ve been talking to Theo Savas. You don’t know Theo? If I tell you that this is the guy who doorstepped the seriously tough Anne McAllister and, when she refused to reveal the whereabouts of his (and my!) bride (although from all that stuff about Dublin on Kate Walker’s blog we have a fair idea of where they’re whooping it up) refused to leave until she’d handed over the password to her blog.

What can I say? The man races ocean-going yachts for a living; she didn’t stand a snowball’s chance of holding out against him.

Anyway, fired up by his example I made my own author an offer she couldn’t refuse; I run some of the finest restaurants in the world and Liz, it's no secret, loves to eat.

Diet? She’s on a diet? She didn't say...

Anyway, Liz was a total pussycat. Or maybe not. She waited until she’d eaten a dinner to delight the gods before informing me that she’s so deep in something involving a sheikh at the moment (these authors live very strange lives) that she’s glad to have me take over for a while.

I’d feel suckered, except, honestly, I think even Theo would have fallen for it. Really. Butter wouldn't melt in that woman's mouth.

Anyway, here’s the plan. Theo and I are doing our best to round up a guy called Dom something (his author has been mixing with the likes of Maeve Binchy in Dublin so nothing much is getting through right now). Apparently his bride-to-be is holed up with our women and the minute we’ve got our heads together we’ll be back. You've had the brides. Now you're going to get the groom!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Following Romantic Times 4 1/2 star review, for The Valentine Bride, Once Upon a Time Romance have just posted this 4.75 review.

They’ve been strongly attracted to each other since they were teens. But being cousins, Louise and Max couldn’t act on the forbidden. At least not until Louise was told the truth. That she’s adopted.
Feeling betrayed by not being told the truth, Louise cuts herself off from the "family". Yet Max, for some reason, won’t let her. He needs her to bring the family business, Bella Lucia restaurants, into the limelight and expand with her PR expertise. But it’s more than that. He finds he needs her. To what extent though?

Louise gives Max until Valentine’s Day. She’ll get the PR job done as well as rid her system of the hurt, of needing Max. It can’t be anything more than that as their relationship has always been on the volatile side. They always seem to bring the worst out in each other.

Something’s got to give one way or another as the sparks fly and they become closer. Will the sparks burn out, though?

I was impressed with the fact that Max and Louise not only came to some pertinent realizations about themselves, but their eyes were opened to the other, causing them to gradually see each other in a different light, more clearly, with greater understanding.
Ms. Fielding writes the "sex" scenes with great subtlety but which have a very sensuous feel to them. Just the way I like them.

I was absorbed with The Valentine Bride and enjoyed every moment of reading, and not so much because of the plot or story, but because of the writing. It’s sensual, welcoming, sweet, inviting, and peppered with layers all rolled together.

Am I dancing? You betcha! And don't forget, if you want three chances to win a copy, visit my website and enter the competition!

Friday, January 12, 2007


Which Harlequin or Mills & Boon books did you read in 2006 that really grabbed you?

Did you find a great new author? A cover hero to drool over? A heroine to stand up and cheer for? Now is the moment when you can show your appreciation by voting at eHarlequin for the one you loved best. By clicking on Readers Choice and voting you can pass on the good news.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Have you entered the Here Come the Brides competition yet? There are three books up for grabs -- times three. Enter from my website, Kate Walker's website and Anne McAllister's website and you have three chances to win our three February books.

And to whet your appetite a little, here's a taster from Kate Walker's hot and steamy Harlequin Presents, The Italian's Forced Bride.

The Italian's Forced Bride by Kate Walker

Her heart had started to thud again, but this time it was with a very different sort of pulse, one that unwillingly she had to acknowledge that she recognised only too well. This was the heavy, heated beat of awareness that had always assailed her in the past. The way that she had felt from the first moment she had seen him and had never really recovered from since.

It was the sheer concentrated physical impact that he had on her. And the pulse that throbbed through her veins was one of deep, sensual arousal. It was as if everything that was male in him was calling to her own essential femininity on the deepest, most primitive level, in a way that made her head spin.

'I told you why I left.'

'Yeah, you stopped having fun . . .'

There was something in his voice that caught and held her. Some soft undertone that seemed to reach out and enclose her, like the delicate, but constricting lines of a spider's web. She felt it coil round her, lightly seductive but dangerously transfixing.

'Why was that, cara, hmm?'

'I . . . '

Her voice had failed her, no matter how hard she tried to make it work. Her mouth opened and closed but no sound came out. She felt she must look like some stupid, gaping fish, but something about her expression made Domenico smile.

'When did the fun go out of things? Because it never did for me.'


Was that stupid, squeaky little voice really hers?

'Never.' Domenico's echoing of the word was much lower, deeper, rich with a sensuality that tugged at something deep inside her.

'A drink . . .' she tried for commons sense, for practicality.

Domenico shook his dark head slowly, that smile growing wickedly.

'I think not,' he murmured.

No? Once again Alice tried to form the word but failed, her throat drying painfully. Nervously she slicked her tongue over painfully dry lips, determined to try again, only to have the determination evaporate like mist before the sun as she saw the way his golden eye dropped to follow the betraying movement, the intensity with which it fixed on her mouth.

'What?' she managed to croak, rough and uneven.

'I have something I would like so much more.'

And before she could snatch in another breath his mouth came down on hers, taking it in a slow seductive kiss.

What do you have to do?

Not too much! Just check out each author’s web site for the full name – first name and surname -- of the bride in the named book. When you have all 3, send them via the email link on each of the authors’ web sites.

Each author will be collecting their own entries to this contest so if you enter on each web site, this means you have three chances to win.

How to enter:

From Liz Fielding’s website, just put your answers in an email with HERE COME THE BRIDES in the subject line and hit send.

Closing date: February 1st 2007

And keep your eye on my blog -- and Anne’s and Kate’s -- throughout January for further updates and news. You never know what might happen . . .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Have you entered our

Here’s a note from Anne McAllister, filling you in on some the background to her book – and the Antonides and Savas families -- with teasing glimpses of books yet to come.

Anne’s books are always a treat, with heroes to totally die for and The Santorini Bride is no exception.

From Anne:

THE SANTORINI BRIDE is the middle book of three (so far), beginning with THE ANTONIDES MARRIAGE DEAL (which it is not necessary to have read, but if you did read it, this will explain where Martha was when no one could find her!). That she met her match in Theo Savas was as big a surprise to her as it was to Theo. He has a heck of a time convincing her, though!

While I'd intended to go back to the Antonides and Savas families for my next book, another character from THE SANTORINI BRIDE piqued my interest when he offered Martha a shoulder to cry on. Actually he did more than pique my interest, he grabbed the book and tried to run away with it! His name was Spencer Tyack and the minute he appeared, he seemed determined to take over. He muttered about stupid Greeks who didn't know a good woman when they saw one (that would have been Theo) and said he'd do a far better job of things -- which just goes to show how blind some men can be, as Spence's own soul mate was right under his nose! He didn't believe me.

But he wouldn't let me alone until I proved it to him. So he and Sadie Morrissey (the girl under his nose!) have their own story coming in October from Harlequin Presents and HM&B Modern called THE BOSS'S WIFE FOR A WEEK. It's all about what happens to Spence when he's making other plans.

I fully expect to come back to the Antonides and Savas families in the future. But I wanted to tie up another loose end first.

That's the book I'm working on now. It is a spin-off of THE GREAT MONTANA COWBOY AUCTION and the rest of the Code of the West books I've done for Silhouette. Only this one is going to be a Harlequin Presents! It's the story of Flynn Murray, consummate charmer and Irish journalist who, to his dismay, has finally had to take over the draughty Irish castle -- and the earldom -- he has tried to forget for years. That also means settling down and begetting little heirs to the earldom.

But just when Flynn is prepared to do his duty, coincidence -- or fate -- brings Sara McMaster back into his life. She awakens memories he'd long buried and desires he believed he'd forgotten. Six years ago life pulled them apart. Now it has thrust them together again, if only for a moment.

A moment is all Sara can stand. She doesn't want to fall in love with Flynn again. She's been there, done that, and she's finally recovered from it. She has made a life for herself, picked up stakes, moved on. If Flynn had wanted her back then, she would have followed him to the ends of the earth. Not now. And she doesn't want him disrupting her equilibrium again -- or their son's! Flynn doesn't know about Liam, which is no fault of Sara's. She'd tried to tell him. He'd moved on. That's what he does -- move on. Well, he might have done it to her, but she won't let him do that to Liam.

I'm just beginning work on the book now and it's already going in directions I didn't expect. Flynn is as big a charmer as ever. Sara is not quite the idealist with the practical bent that she used to be. She's a mom now. She's had to adjust. Flynn's an earl now -- he's made some adjustments himself. And Liam -- well, he's five and he's got an agenda of his own.

I'm hoping to go to Ireland in February to do some on-site research for their story which begins in New York City. I don't know if we'll get back to Elmer, Montana or not. But it doesn't matter. Sara and Flynn will always carry memories of it in their hearts.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait! In the meantime, while we all envy Anne her trip to Ireland, here’s a reminder of what you have to do to win: --


Good news! This month you get the chance to win not one, not two, but three brand new romances. Anne McAllister, Kate Walker and I have got together to celebrate the publication of our three February titles, all of which have ‘Bride’ in the title.

3 winners will each receive a signed copy of all 3 brand new titles from these 3 great authors.

What do you have to do?

Not too much! Just check out each author’s web site for the full name – first name and surname -- of the bride in the named book. When you have all 3, send them via the email link on each of the authors’ web sites.

Each author will be collecting their own entries to this contest so if you enter on each web site, this means you have three chances to win.

How to enter:
From Liz Fielding’s website, just put your answers in an email with HERE COME THE BRIDES in the subject line and hit send.

Closing date: February 1st 2007

And keep your eye on my blog -- and Anne’s and Kate’s -- throughout January for further updates and news. You never know what might happen . . .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


For those of you who don’t read the Daily Telegraph and haven’t been following Louise Doughty’s “Novel in a Year” column, I’m posting details of a competition she’s running this month.

Write & Win

To enter The Daily Telegraph “Novel in a Year” competition, send the first 1,000 words of your novel plus a single page synopsis either by email as attachments to or by post to 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W ODT.

The closing date for applications is February 1, 2007. The names of the 50 shorrtlisted authors will be announced in the paper on May 5, 2007. They will receive a personalised copy of Louise Doughty’s book of the column, A Novel in A year. The names of the five winners will be announced on May 26, 2007.

The prize is lunch at The Daily Telegraph with Louise Doughty and the other judges, Sam Leith, the literary editor of The Daily Telegraph, Louise Doughty’s literary agent, Antony Harwood and Rochelle Venables, commissioning editor at Simon & Schuster.

There are, as far as I can see, no rules about not being previously published.


Before you to rush off to send in your entry, check out the

competition below!