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.
...AND MY SECOND GUEST, MELISSA JAMES
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."
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.