Monday, January 14, 2008


The 50th Year is certainly starting in a blaze of excitement.

THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA, having been shortlisted by Romantic Times as Best Harlequin Romance of 2007 and won a Catanetwork Reviewers' Choice Award, has now been shortlisted for the


and the Betty Neels' Rose Bowl which is awarded annually by the Romantic Novelists' Association.

This is such a thrill and even better, one of my dearest writing chums is also on the list, but I'll leave her to make her own announcement. The winner will be announced at the RNA's Award Lunch at the Royal Garden Court Hotel in London on 4th February.

You'll find the full list of finalists here on Thursday afternoon.

... A WINNER...

The winner of Annie West's book, The Greek Tycoon's Unexpected Wife, is Michelle L (deseng). Annie is on holiday at the moment, Michelle, so if you'd like to email me with "Annie West winner" in the subject line and your name and street address, I'll pass it on to her as soon as she's home.


My guest this week, Sydney-born author, Melissa James, believes that “A life lived in fear, is a life half-lived...” a tenet she lives by. As a novelist, however, she can leave the risks to her characters and just dream about flying, scuba diving and abseiling down cliffs, much to the relief of her family!

Her warm, wonderfully entertaining books are fan favourites, her Harlequin Romance, HER OUTBACK KNIGHT, winning a Reviewers Choice Award.

But here's Melissa to tell you about herself and her latest book A MOTHER IN A MILLION...

When I began writing for Mills & Boon, I was lucky enough to be told to write about whatever topic I wanted, within limits, of course. So when I saw a show about the long-term effects of missing persons on their families, I got the germ of an idea for this story, pitched it to my editor, who to my surprise, loved it.

This is a story about a single dad trying to raise three kids, two troubled, while trying to find his runaway wife, and a woman who can't have a family of her own, longing for just that. A love story that seems impossible for so long because of one child's promise to his missing mother...

Jennifer's trapped in past grief, and then trapped by a love that can't happen, until she's set free by the one person she doesn't expect. Noah's in desperate need of a mother for his damaged, suffering kids, and when he meets Jennifer, he knows he's found the perfect mother - a mother in a million - but Jennifer can't be his...and when he's finally set free, she still can't be his.

And here's the excerpt...

He dragged in a breath before he made the confession, took the biggest personal risk of his life. "Then I saw you, and even from a distance, I knew I was in trouble."

The soft, glowing eyes turned back to him at last. She took in his face, slowly, every part of it. Her lips were already parted; her chest heaved with every breath. "I’ve never been the ‘in trouble’ kind of woman."

He smiled, a little. "Who’s playing games now?" He moved closer to her, until the warm current of wanting grew to heat, fuelling their bodies.

She bit her lip over a grin: the kind of warm, sensuous curving of lips that told a man exactly what he needed to know. "This kind of game is…" Her tongue ran over her lips again, her gaze glued to his mouth. Her hand half-lifted, waiting in the middle of that hot, swirling current.

"Yeah," he breathed, lifting his hand, twining his fingers through hers. "It is."

"I can’t do this if you’re still married in your heart," she whispered.

He’d expected that. For answer he reached back with his free hand, and passed her the papers he’d signed. "I had to tell you before I sent them. It’s for me, not you," he said quietly. "Meeting you made me see the truth. I can’t hang onto something that’s no more than a memory. Part of me will always love her…but she’s gone. I can’t keep living a half-life for Tim’s sake, for my in-laws. Living a lie doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t keep her alive, except in their minds."

She read the divorce papers, and closed her eyes as she let them fall. "This is why you bought the kids the presents."

He nodded.

She gave a little sigh. "Everything about us seems to have irony in there somehow. Is there a message in that?"

He leaned closer to her, and captured her other hand. "There’s no timetable, Jennifer. There’s no right time or way. It’s happening, no matter what we do. We either ignore it and regret it later, or we take what we both want, and accept the consequences."

She looked at him, her eyes shimmering, uncertain. She wet her lips as she gazed at his face. He’d never felt so strong, so glad to be a man in his life as now, when Jennifer looked at him with all that longing.

"I want the consequences, Jennifer," he murmured huskily. "I want you. I want you."

"Noah." Her voice cracked; her eyes drifted closed, and she fell into him. "Don’t make me wait any more."

Jennifer had waited for him. Though he’d known it from the first night, he’d treasure the words until his dying breath.

Tender and a touch clumsy in first-kiss anxiety, they bumped each other’s noses. He opened his eyes, drew back a little and smiled at her. Jennifer laughed, low and soft and throaty: a rich, sensuous laugh, and he knew she’d laugh just like that when they made love.

He unlaced their hands and twined his fingers through her loose plait. "Come here," he said huskily, drawing her against him.

For the first time in half a lifetime, the sense of fatality filling him was beautiful. He knew this would be the kiss of his life.

Holding her flush against him, he hovered just over her mouth, waiting, teasing, loving the impatient little moan coming from her, the way her hands threaded through his hair and drew him down to the blanket so he was half-lying on her.

She moaned again and moved against him. "Noah," she whispered, aching with wanting. She wanted him so badly she was shivering.

Then her mouth covered his, tender and hungry; and rightness filled his soul at the same moment his body’s insistent beat took over everything and shut down every other sense.

The responses of her warm, generous body filled him with her sweetness and urgency. She kissed him gently, but when he took it deeper, she went with him; her hands were threading through his hair, fingers trailing down to his neck. The tiny, whisper-soft sighs between each kiss held a half-plea. "More, Noah…more…"

More was fine with him. Right now he never wanted to stop.

I have a signed copy of A MOTHER IN A MILLION to give away. Writers are always being asked "Where do you get your ideas from?" Well writers have their own version of that question. What would you most like to read in a storyline?

Oh, oh, oh... I want to read this book now! Thanks so much, for sharing that with us, Melissa. And great question. Enquiring minds want to know what you'd rush and buy!

In the meantime, if you can't wait to read A MOTHER IN A MILLION, it's available at eHarlequin and Mills & Boon (links oppposite) and at Amazon, US

It's also available as an eBook.


Estella said...

This books sounds great. Can't wait to read it.
I'm easy as far as story lines go. I will read almost anything, as long as it is well written.

michelle Douglas said...

Congratulations, Liz on you Cataromance award and the nomination for the Betty Neels' Rose Bowl. Lady Gabriella deserves it.

Melissa, Mother in a Million sounds very intriguing. Am looking forward to reading it.

What story lines do I like? I love to see a hero or heroine return home after a long time away and have to deal with issues they hadn't resolved before they left. And best friends becoming lovers. And marriage of convenience stories where the enforced proximity is sooo tense. And... well, anything really.

What about you? Do you have a favourite as a reader (as opposed to a writer)?

juliemt said...

Congrats, Liz on both the Cataromance award and the RNA Romance Prize nomination. I loved Lady Gabriella and this book deserves all the accolades in the world.

As for storylines, like Estella, I'm quite easy going. I want a compelling plot with believable characters, I can care about. Although, having said that, I do have a fondess for lovers reunited.

Hi Melissa! Mother in a Million looks fabulous!

Cryna said...

Congratulations Liz on your award and Nomination for the Betty Neels' Rose Bowl. You deserve all the awards and nominations you get.

Melissa thank you for being a guest here on the blog, your story sounds really good.

As for plots I think I like stories where there is a conflict that has to be resolved and maybe old ghosts that have to be gotten over before the future can be faced.

Nathalie said...

Hi... I just love your question!

When I see a marriage of convenience or a ward/guardian situation... I know I MUST Buy this book. I think it must be because the situatiosn are so incongruous and always have funny moments and plenty of confrontation between the protagonists!

Snookie said...

Congratulations Liz on the award :) Lady Gabriella is one of my favorites.

I like stories with spunky heroines :) I like most story lines.

Melissa, Mother in a Million sounds like it will be a great read! I'm thinking I will have to go look for it as I look at my teetering TBR pile... it's scary, I now have a long electronic tbr pile, it doesn't teeter, but it can be daunting when I look at all the books tbr :) Just wish I had time to just curl up and read, read, read. All these books just waiting for me... sigh....

Virginia said...

Congratulations, on your awards Liz. By the way Lady Gabriella is one of my favorite reads. I am not real picky over story lines. I read a little of everything so I don't get bord

Michelle Styles said...

Hooray for you Liz!!!

I shall be cheering you on from up here in Northumberland.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Estella,

Thank you! I hope you enjoy Mother In a Million. Sorry to be slow getting here - deadlines and I'm such a techno-dunce!


Anonymous said...

PS: sorry to be "anonymous" but google won't accept my password though they keep emailing me to tell me they have.

Anonymous said...

And MASSIVE congrats to Liz with all her sucesses in writing lately!
Thanks for the reminder, Michelle, and I hope you enjoy A Mother In A Million.

I like next book after the one I'm writing now is exactly that, and I'm so looking forward to writing it! My hero is a single day late to tell his girl he adores her - now she's gone out of his reach, geographically and socially. She's a princess with an upcoming marriage to a Duke. :-)))

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment on MIAM, Julie...I hope it is fabulous for you!

Cryna, I ADORE old ghosts stories, a haunted hero or heroine, which is exactly what A Mother In A Million is. They're both haunted by loss and things they think they can never change...

Anonymous said...

Nathalie, that's so cute - and you're right, those stories have so much scope for fun. I wrote a novella, coming out in May, called Celebrity Wedding of the Year. It's in the new anthology called - wait for it - "Marriages of Convenience"! And I had such a ball writing it. My editor told me to have fun, and I did! A former rock star and an introverted daughter of an old wild rocker, a marriage of convenience and outwitting the press. Set in the Outback in part. I really loved it.

Anonymous said...

So, Snookie, can you define "spunky" and what it means to you, and what sort of storyline you'd like in it? You see, ladies, I have a third book in my current contract that has no storyline as is anyone game to help me find something fascinating, fun, or haunting? Your choice of my backlist for Harlequin Romance for the best idea or inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Hi Melissa, Mother in a Million sounds a wonderful read, I’ll get back to you shortly. Congratulations on the win. I have my fingers crossed over the nomination.

Story line ideas are hard with you because you already create heroes and heroines who shine through because of the quality of their commitment and conviction. – I can see I'll just have to keep reading.

Perhaps it’s time to set a story in a remote corner of the Swiss Alps, where weather and access created isolation causing struggle. --- Eric

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, Eric, what a wonderful thing to say! Thank you so much...that is really touching. I don't seem to get much feedback on my books, so I'm very grateful for this.

There was a story here recently about 8 soldiers killed in an avalanche on Mt Jungfrau. Could be a starting point...or just hiking and getting lost...hmmm...I do want to set a book here, it's so beautiful and inspiring!



Anonymous said...

Of course I could do a spunky heroine learning to ski and falling on her face...I have great experience at that lately!


Rachel said...

Hey Melissa,

So great to see one of my favourite writing buddies here on the blog of one of my favourite authors!

I like all the story ideas that have been mentioned so far - gotta love friends becoming lovers. And a story in the Swiss Alps sounds great, Eric!

Stuntgnome said...

Hi Melissa,

Mother In a Million sounds like a must-read.

Storylines I like to read... hmmmm... I'm a sucker for a tortured hero... whatever form that might take. I like my heroines feisty but my heros angst-ridden :)

And conflict between Noah's own needs and the needs of his family would rank pretty high on the angst-o-meter.

Good luck with the release, keep those typing fingers lubricated!

Anonymous said...

Hey, my CP Rachel! This woman saves my writing butt more times than I can count, folks. Couldn't do without her!

And stuntgnome, thank you! I usually write a tortured hero in one way or another - I love 'em myself. And Noah - oh, yeah, he's tortured. Even I wept a little for him when his only comfort at the start of a book was a three-year-old...


Kate Hardy said...

Congrats, Liz - so pleased for you! Look forward to raising a glass with you at the lunch. :o)

Donna Alward said...

Melissa - great excerpt!

And Liz, congratulations on all the great things happening lately!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Liz!
Hi Melissa!

I don't usually read this type of book, but it sounds wonderful and I really want to read this one!

CrystalGB said...

Wow, what a great excerpt. I want to read this book. Congratuations Liz on your Cataromance award and your nomination for the Betty Neel's Rose Award.

Maureen said...

Congratulations Liz!
I always love the marriage of convenience plot and a road adventure is great too.

Snookie said...

Aloha Melissa, I loved your Out back Knight and Outback Miracle Baby! I pretty much like your “voice”, so when I see a Melissa James book, I’ll usually pick it up. What do I mean by spunky heroines. Hmmmm, I mean someone that is not going to sit back and let others run all over her, but yet not so aggressive that others are turned off by her. Someone that can pull her share of the load and still be a “tom-boy” or “girly-girl” in different situations. Someone you can count on when the going gets tough, but still have a great sense of humor and view of life. I think maybe a “friends to lovers” starting out with a kind of brother/sister relationship (could be step brother/step sister or neighbors – just two kids growing up together kind of thing). You could have them on a camping/fishing trip or back country hiking for a week or so and they get lost or a snow storm whips up or something happens that puts them in a situation of seeing each other as more then “brother/sister” or childhood “friends”. I could see where a lot of tension could be built around that with neither one of them wanting to ruin/lose their relationship by taking it further than “friend” or “brother/sister”. I would just love a story like that :) This is probably a lot more than you wanted to know!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Donna, so glad you like it - I'm hearing plenty of great things about your Soldier's Homecoming, too. Sounds my kind of book!

Candy and Crystal, thanks for your lovely comments and I hope that you do enjoy the book. :-)))

Snookie, thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked my Outback series. MIAM is set in country Australia, not the outback this time.

Wow, great description of a spunky heroine...and combining your thoughts with Eric's works so well! My next book, Suddenly A Princess, has a friends-to-lovers theme, combined with a heroine who's showing a lot more strength than he, or her family, suspected was in the quiet depths. A bit of physical spunk sounds like a great idea for the book...they are hikers, too, and are in Europe...hmmm...this is very inspiring stuff!


JOYE said...

How about a plot where a young couple of different poiitical parties meet and have all kinds of difficulties working through this dilemma.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, your work just gets better and better. :) Always a fabulous read, thankyou! Like others, I adore the marriage of convenience, friends to lovers themes - but one of my favourites is also the heroine falling in love with the best friend's brother, or vice versa - the hero falling in love with the best friend's sister. Always fun! I also enjoy marriages that have gone off kilter, and their reconciliation.

Michelle Douglas said...

How about a fish-out-of-water story, Melissa? An aussie heroine holidaying in Switzerland... who gets snowed in at the very-angsty hero's villa.

Making up plots is so much fun.

bectoria said...

Congratulations on the nomination for 'Lady Gabriella' - I thought it was a truly delightful and surprising romance.

Melissa, I love your books (and Liz's too) because while giving me the HEA I love to read about, they always surprise and include something 'a little different' (which is definitely what drew me to the Outback series). I wanted to say too I thought your hero/heroine scenes really sparkled in 'Her Outback Knight'. Like Eric said, perhaps there's no need for story inspiration with characters so alive and sparky!

I'm also a total sucker for story lines that have that longterm unrequited love theme. That's not very inspiring for you is it? Quirky, unexpected, sparkly, sparky, unrequited love in the alps. Thanks for the entertaining blog and wonderful reads.

Anonymous said...

Joye, I can see how that would pose all sorts of romantic difficulties! It would require study because I am completely non-political, but the idea remains valid - it needn't be politics, perhaps, but ideals...



Anonymous said...

Hi, Malvina, and htanks for the lovely comments on my did just spark off a thought, since I too love marriages gone wrong. I kind of did that with Long-Lost Father, but not really since he was kidnapped and she thought he was dead. Hmmmm....


Anonymous said...

LOL, Michelle, I could really do that well right now, because I feel like a constant fish out of water! A neighbour tried to talk to me the other day and I got about half of would be funny if he had limited English, trust me! But I have met some yummy ski instructors who could provide inspiration. ;-)))


Anonymous said...

LOL, Michelle, I could really do that well right now, because I feel like a constant fish out of water! A neighbour tried to talk to me the other day and I got about half of would be funny if he had limited English, trust me! But I have met some yummy ski instructors who could provide inspiration. ;-)))


Anonymous said...

Bectoria, thank you so much for your lovely comments on my books and Her Outback Knight in particular! That was my CP Rachel's favourite of all my books. Jim was a beautiful character to write - one whose massive life change didn't change who he essentially was: an honest man who wouldn't play games with Danni. It just won a Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Award - my second. It's a real honour.

Longterm unrequited love - you know, most of those are the heroine. What if the hero loved her? I do have this in Suddenly A Princess (working title) but with a twist or two...because that's what I do. I'm buzzing with ideas for my third book - thanks so much, everyone! I guess it's agreed - set it in Switzerland, friends to lovers, unrequited love, etc? Amid a little danger and the unexpected, maybe throw in some differing ideals...

Thanks, guys, you're the best!


Nell said...


Kate Walker said...

I just wanted to say Congratulations to Liz for the RNA Nomination for Lady Gabriella. That's wonderful news - I just won't be able to choose between all the nominated books, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed - for everyone!

And I wanted to say Hi and wave to Melissa while she's visiting here. I hope we meet up again in person before too long


Liz Fielding said...

Thank you all so much for the congratulations. I'm still grinning from ear to ear at being on the shortlist. I hope you've checked out the full list -- it's a fabulous line up and whoever wins I'll still be grinning.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Nell - are you the Nell from eHarlequin? Nice to see you here!

Hi, Kate! I'd love to catch up sometime soon. We had a lovely time in Australia/ NZ, didn't we? Say hi to your excellent and knowledgable husband for me. :-)))

The RNA list is an excellent line up! I don't tend to enter contests now - though the last one I entered got me my agent - but I'm really happy for those who final and the one who wins!


Julie Cohen said...

Congratulations, Liz! I am so honoured to be on the list with you and the other wonderful authors. As you said--whoever wins will make me happy!

Melissa, you always have really intriguing hooks for your stories.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Julie, and congrats on your finalling in the RNA!


Anonymous said...

Very strange...I've been struggling to read this site in German all week, and now it's gone to English without my doing anything. How weird is that?


Dena said...

Hi Melissa, Your story sounds so hearwarming. I haven't read a good family book in awhile,yours would be a good one to delve into this kind of book again.

Congratulations Liz and Best Wishes on winning the Betty Neels Rose Bowl.

Snookie said...

Liz, I finally got the Shiek's Unsuitable Bride. Loved it. :)

Ally Blake said...

Congrats Liz!!! I adore "Lady Gabriella" as much as all these others have to. And have forced many many others to read it ;).

Melissa I love the cover for "Mother in a Million" too. So wistful. Kind of like the last shot in "Notting Hill". And since I am a 'buy a book for the cover girl', I know I know how wrong that is!!!, it would grab me in an instant.


Christina Phillips said...

Liz, just wanted to send you huge congrats on being shortlisted for the RNA romance prize!

And Melissa, I *love* the premise of your princess story!

Liz Fielding said...

Thanks Ally and Christina!

And what fabulous story ideas everyone has come up with. I don't know how Melissa is going to be able to choose between them.

Anonymous said...

\hi, everyone, and forgive my being AWOL - a skiing lesson left me so exhausted, and deadline beckoning with a busy week...

Thank you very much, Dena! It is 100% a family story, but I hope, never depressing. :-)))

I love the cover too, Ally! Never thought of the Notting Hill aspect, but it's true! I hope others are like you and love the cover...yours looks superb too. I have to go to amazon and buy loads of books once I make this deadline. I haven't read anything in ages!


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Chrstina! Actually, this is an old favourite of mine, a book I began in 1996... and only sold in 2007. I fell in love with those characters so much, I couldn't let them go. I was so glad and relieved when my editor loved them too. It's honestly, hands-down, my most romantic story, with a hero I've adored from the moment he leaped into my mind in 1996, and I'm so glad he gets to live on paper now.

I adore friends-to-lovers books, and reuniting couples. Which reminds me, I'm going to order Liz's Reunited book, and Lady Gabriella...and I haven't read an Ally Blake in a while, and honestly, Ally, I adore your books.

Off to shop as soon as I make deadline!

Next post will be choosing winners...

Melissa, not looking forward to the task. You've all been so inspirational!

Anonymous said...


I think Bectoria should receive A Mother In A Million, and Snookie, take your choice of that or, I guess, Long-Lost Father, since you've read my Outback books. I'm sorry the choice is so limited, but MIAM is only my fourth HR.

Eric, you came so close, but then I thought of all those books I sent you before I left Australia, and thought...well, Snookie and Bectoria did have wonderful ideas was so close though!

Thanks so much to you all. You've definitely inspired me and I'll be thinking of my third book with an easier mind, knowing what readers want!

Thanks for sharing this week with me.


Snookie said...

Ohhh Melissa, Mahalo a nui loa(thank you so much)! I would love Long Lost Father since I missed it when it came out. I am able to purchase MIAM which I will soon :)

Anonymous said...

You're very welcome Snookie! You helped me, that's for all did.

Now to rush off and make deadline! Auf wiedersehen and thanks for making my time here so special!


Liz Fielding said...

Hi Melissa -- thanks so much for taking part in my celebrations this week, and for your great question. It's been great having you here. Congratulations to prize winners Bectoria and Snookie. I have Snookie's address, but if you'll email me Bectoria at liz @ I'll pass it on to Annie.