Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've just heard that the truly wonderful Natasha Oakley (who writes weepies that keep Kleenex in business) has finalled in the Short Contemporary Category for the RITA with her book "The Tycoon's Princess Bride". Terrific news. And many congratulations to all the other authors out there who got "the call" yesterday.


You have until 1st April to take part in the competition to win the Mills & Boon Jigsaw (wherever you are in the world). Scroll down to the post below for all the details.


...the wonderful, sexy, funny Julie Cohen who this week has taken time out from admiring the adorable Fecklet to help me celebrate my 50th Harlequin Romance, The Bride's Baby.

I first encountered Julie at a Romantic Novelists' Association conference. She was giving a talk on writing sex. I was in the next room discovering the joys of writing a synopsis. Oh, bad choice. Truly, I needed the synopsis talk more than I needed to learn how to write about sex, but the gales of laughter coming from the next room left me in no doubt where I should have been and the minute her first book was published I rushed out and bought it. And kept on buying. Read her excerpt and you'll see why.

Over to Julie...

I’ve got a secret vice to admit: I’m a Liz Fielding book hoarder.

I’ll see a Liz Fielding book in the shop, and I’ll buy it, because of course you’d have to be insane not to. But then I won’t read it right away. No, I’ll put it on a special shelf, the one that’s directly to the left of the computer where I’m typing right now, and I will leave it there, like that bar of chocolate your husband bought for you in a rare moment of romance and which would be a waste to merely shove down your throat. It’s something that needs to wait for the correct moment, when you have time to savour it.

The correct moment, for me, for a Liz Fielding book, is when I’m feeling under the weather. Or when I’ve got a train journey and I need a break from work. Or when nothing has quite gone right all day and I need a long, long bath. That’s when I take down the Liz Fielding book, because I know Liz’s likeable characters, her sense of humour, her sparkling style will give me a lovely break of unalloyed pleasure, while I snuggle in bed, or the miles go by, or the bath goes cold.

Congratulations on fifty books, Liz, and thanks for the hours of happiness when I needed them.

I’ve got two books on the shelves right now in the USA and UK. They’re both, coincidentally, friends-into-lovers stories, though they are pretty different.

MISTRESS IN PRIVATE (April Harlequin Presents, USA) is about “plain” Jane Miller, who decides to embark upon a hot affair with a sexy male model named Jay. The problem is, she has no idea how to seduce a sexy male model, so she asks her online friend, computer geek Jonny, for advice. Little does she know, that Jay is actually Jonny.

ONE NIGHT STAND (Little Black Dress, UK) is the story of Eleanor Connor, who writes erotic comedy novels by day and works in a seedy pub by night. Fed up with her boring life, she has a one night stand with a stranger, who then disappears. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she asks her best friend and neighbour, pastry chef and ladies’ man Hugh, to help her find the father.

Here’s an extract from ONE NIGHT STAND, which is a flashback to Eleanor and Hugh’s early friendship, five years before the story starts.

When we got to the cinema, having arrived ten minutes late, Hugh had got the dates wrong and it was an art film about Danish wife-swappers.

Hugh had left his glasses in his room so it fell to me to read him the subtitles.

“‘Do you want to make love to my fair lady? She is very good at giving--’”

I couldn’t say it. I dissolved into snorting giggles and the people sitting near us glared at me.

“What?” asked Hugh. “What is she good at giving? Gifts?”

“You know,” I gasped between sobs of laughter.

“I don’t,” said Hugh, although the fair lady had started to do it onscreen and his vision wasn’t that bad.

“Shhh,” hissed someone a row or two behind us.

“A bl--”

“Blood? She’s giving blood?”

I could barely breathe. “No, she’s giving a bl--”

“Black plague?”


Hugh was managing not to laugh; I was clutching onto his arm so hard it probably hurt him, trying not to slide off my wooden seat. Meanwhile on screen two other people had joined the action and it appeared that they were also having a conversation about flower symbolism.

“A blow job!” I cried, and someone else yelled, “Shut up!” and I put my head on the armrest and laughed as quietly as I could, tears streaming down my face, as Hugh shook with silent laughter beside me.

We snuck out soon afterwards, trying to ignore the dirty looks. It was a full moon and warm for March, so we swung by Hugh’s room, picked up a screwtop bottle of red wine, and went to sit by the university lake. A log hewn into a bench sat near some bushes on the bank, the perfect place to drink and watch the moonlight on the water and talk about everything and nothing, the kind of talk you can do with your best friend.

“I never thought sex was funny before,” I said.

“It’s inherently funny,” Hugh said. “Just listen: blow job. Say it.”

“Blow job,” I repeated, and giggled.

And then we lapsed into the kind of silence you can do with your best friend. The lake made lapping sounds on the shore and the moonlight was so bright it seemed as if I could taste it between slugs of wine from the bottle: something refreshing as water and a little metallic.

Hugh put his arm around me. This in itself was not unusual. I took another drink of wine and closed my eyes. I felt Hugh’s arm tighten around me, I heard him mutter something I didn’t quite listen to about taking charge of his life, and then he took the bottle of wine from my hand. I still had my eyes closed but it seemed as if he drank for a very long time

When he put the bottle down on the path it made a hollow empty sound. I opened my eyes and frowned. There had been about a third of the bottle left when I’d last taken a drink.

I leaned forward to pick up the wine to see if Hugh had hogged it all, and at that moment Hugh lunged toward me. I felt the warmth of his breath, the heat of his lips, on the side of my face near my ear. And something wet that I realised, with shock, was his tongue.

I jumped off the bench, knocking the wine bottle over onto the path. “Hugh,” I gasped, “did you just try to kiss me?”

I’ve got a copy of ONE NIGHT STAND for someone who leaves a comment on this post, telling us all about your secret vice. If it involves Liz Fielding, all the better! ;-)

* * *
I can't wait to read those, Julie!

Julie's book ONE NIGHT STAND is available now here at Amazon, where you'll also find MISTRESS IN PRIVATE.


Jan Jones said...

Secret vice ......... Thornton's Alcoholic Truffles.

I know they're £2.75 for nine. I know they're full of calories (I was going to say choc-ful, but I won't). I know that when I eat one, the temptation to eat another is almost more than I can stand.

Even so, I keep a bag at the back of a cupboard I never usually go in, and for those moments when I need something heart-warming, or happy, or consolatory, I let one of them melt slowly in my mouth and all is right with the world.

Donna Alward said...

Toast. There is never a bad time for toast...even when I'm sick, toast sounds good.

My favourite way to have toast is with butter and raspberry jam. Mmmm. If there's tea involved, so much the better.

Of course in the absence of that, red wine will do. :-)

limecello said...

Woohoo - congrats to Natasha and all the other finalists!
Hi Julie - thanks for visiting! That excerpt - poor Hugh!
Hmm... my secret vice? Books or food - or who am I kidding, both. I love to curl up with a good book and a nice snack - or a guilty treat - cake, chocolate, something sweet usually.
I'll ignore everything I'm supposed to be doing [which is bad bad bad for a student] - and then I'll read - and generally finish the book. I guess my guilty vice is finishing books. I can't put them down!

Marcy said...

Congrat, Natasha!

Your books sound scrumptious, Julie!

My secret vice...buying more books! I have a bookcase full and yet when I'm shopping and see a book written by one of the many fabulous authors I've *met* on-line, I can't help but buy it. If only I had time to read all of these books. All in good time, I suppose.

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, yes, Donna. Tiptree Raspberry Seedless jame -- but on the crust of a newly baked loaf. With butter.

Liz Fielding said...

Virginia, can you email me or Abby with your street name and addy, please. You've won Abby's book!

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Liz, and thanks for letting me visit! Congrats again on your 50 books.

Jan, those truffles are indeed a vice. Pricey, caloric, alcoholic, and HIDDEN.

Donna, woman, I know you, and as yummy as toast is, there is NO WAY that toast is your most decadent secret vice. Toast is actually sort of good for you. Toast is eaten by young children. Toast is part of a nutritionally balanced breakfast and I know you have something more vice-like hidden somewhere... ;-)

Julie Cohen said...

Limecello, I also share the vice of ignoring all the millions of things I should be doing in order to read Preferably with cake.

If you think Hugh is suffering in that extract, you should see what he has to put up with in the rest of the book. Poor bloke. However, he does make extraordinarily good cakes, so could probably help you with your vice.

Marcy, yes, I share that vice too. My house is so full of books that it is difficult to move around in our bedroom. But how can one resist?

Liz, I prefer black cherry jam. But I still maintain that is not a vice, but rather a nutritional food group in itself. Much like pizza.

Virginia said...

I am a book hoarder to. I have all of Constance O'Banyon's book yes and some of Liz Fielding's books. My closet is full, my bedroom is full and I have some books in the attic. My sister calls me the library.

ChristyJan said...

I have many vices (some secret ~ some not) they include tea, dark chocolate, books, shoes and purses.

Kate Hardy said...

Gianduja (aka "better than sex" chocolate), Radley signature handbags and good romance novels. They definitely make the world go round.

And Liz, your talk of freshly baked bread... I'm going to have to make some, now. (Especially as I have a jar of said jam in the fridge. Also good with honey... but it has to be *proper* butter.)

Donna Alward said...

Well, Julie, seeing as I try to keep my public persona squeaky clean....what? You're choking? Someone do the Heimlich!

You know I had a hard time with that question. My vices of red wine and dark chocolate are well documented. Of course there's playing around on the internet. Watching movies that make me cry. I don't count books because well, that's work, right?

Wait, I have one. DAYDREAMING. I have, several times, constructed alternate realities for myself. I had one that ran for several months and provided me with hours of fantasy.

There, it's out.

Carol said...

My vices, not so secret, are books and chocolate. I have books all over the place and am always in the process of reading one. I love all kinds of chocolate, but I think my favorite is Russell Stover chocolate cover marshmallow eggs. They are to die for, so creamy. Why do they only make them at Easter time? Although it's probably better for my diet that they do. I probably look forward to them more because I have such a small window in which to enjoy them. Books I always have.

Estella said...

Secret or not so secret vice----Books. I'm addicted to reading. I read on the average of a book a day

michelle Douglas said...

Julie, your extract was LOL funny. I have to admit, I usually much prefer third person narratives to first person, and oftentimes I won't buy books written in the first person, but I fear I shall have to make an exception for ONE NIGHT STAND.

Secret Vice? Ooh, this is hard. I have a lot of vices - most of them aren't secret though (like red wine and chocolate... doughnuts). I certainly have a less than admirable vice: GOSSIP! I love it. Am always willing to listen to any that comes my way. But I try to justify it by calling it research ;-)

Liz Fielding said...

Food, books and chocolate ... we're a sad bunch :)

Does listening to other people's conversations count? In restaurants, in trains, at the hairdresser. in supermarket queues (here in Wales we get a lot more personal chat with the check-out staff about babies, holidays and the such). I've always considered in research, but maybe the listened-to wouldn't be quite so generous. :)

Lois said...

More books here too. And chocolate, of course. . . and rubber duckies. :)


Dena said...

Hi Julie, Good to see you here and how wonderful to have two books out right now. Great excerpt it got me interested.
As for vices I can think of a few...chocolate, ice cream, and books!

Dena said...

If a vice is listening to others as Liz said then that's another vice that can be added to my list,lol.
Estella I'm stunned and awed by your reading. I wish that I read that fast, then maybe my TBR pile wouldn't actually be 4 piles!

Julie Cohen said...

Hi all and happy Saturday! I have been a bit occupied with writing (deadlines, argh) but glad to see you have being vice-ful (or is that vicious?) in my absence.

Virginia, I can identify with your full rooms. Does your sister take advantage of your book collection?

Christyjan, I think shoes and purses (of the handbag sort?) are worthy additions to the vice pile. There is nothing quite so satisfying as finding the perfect shoe, unless of course it is the perfect handbag.

Kate--gianduja, Radley bags and romance novels? None of those are secret, though, are they? Have you noticed Cafe Nero is selling squares of gianduja now?

Julie Cohen said...

Okay, Donna, I will accept daydreaming as a vice. :-) Though again, as your career depends on it, it's perhaps more of a virtue. Guess it depends what the daydreams are about. Hee hee hee.

I do think playing around on the internet can be a vice. I've got that one in spades.

Carol, I have not had one of those marshmallow eggs for many years and you make me want one, NOW!!! Oh and also the marshmallow chicks. I love those things.

Estella, a book a DAY? How cool is that? Do you remember them all, or are you like me and find you have to reread some of them periodically to remind yourself?

Julie Cohen said...

Okay, Donna, I will accept daydreaming as a vice. :-) Though again, as your career depends on it, it's perhaps more of a virtue. Guess it depends what the daydreams are about. Hee hee hee.

I do think playing around on the internet can be a vice. I've got that one in spades.

Carol, I have not had one of those marshmallow eggs for many years and you make me want one, NOW!!! Oh and also the marshmallow chicks. I love those things.

Estella, a book a DAY? How cool is that? Do you remember them all, or are you like me and find you have to reread some of them periodically to remind yourself?

Julie Cohen said...

(Whoops, sorry, Blogger ate my first one, I thought, so I posted twice. Doh!)

Michelle, thank you for saying you'll make an exception to your reading habits to check out One Night Stand. I actually love writing in first person, and reading it too, because you get right into the heroine's head, and also because you often have to read between the lines.

Gossip is a perfect secret vice! It's so seductive...and yet so wrong...

Julie Cohen said...

Liz, I also share the vice of eavesdropping but I maintain that it is purely research. The other day I stood behind a woman in Boots while she was breaking up with her boyfriend on her mobile phone. Meanwhile she checked her makeup, examined some perfume, bought a could understand the entire relationship right there.

Lois...RUBBER DUCKIES?!?! Do tell...

Hi Dena and thank you! Your TBR pile sounds like mine. And ice cream.....mmmmmmmm.....though it does have calcium, right? And fruit if you get, like strawberry? I think it might be another food group...

Lois said...

Well, I collect rubber duckies. Probably has something to do with my love of Ernie (and Bert too, can't have Ernie without Bert! LOL). . . :) I have quite a few, but there are just soooooooo many more out there. And I'm an equal opportunity duckie collector, meaning for example, I'm not a fan of pirates, but I don't let that stop me when it comes to duckies. :)

But still haven't gotten my hands on an astronaut duckie yet. It's number one on my list.


Anonymous said...

Well, I couldn't think of any secret vices and my vices aren't that interesting as they've mostly been named: reading, chocolate, coffee (I'm not sure anyone else has mentioned coffee) and spending too much time online. Y'all are a pretty good group to hang out with! We'll just sit around eating chocolate and reading! I'm ambivalent about rubber duckies, though . . .


Liz Fielding said...

Do carrier bags count? I love the glossy ones -- especially the gorgeous Mills & Boon Centenary one with the lovely pink tissue paper insert. I've got one from The Ritz (carried my Rita home in that one from my celebration lunch) and several from the US --

I asked the lady in the museum shop at the Smithsonian for one of the big bags instead of the floppy plastic one :) I've even got one with the Statue of Liberty on it.

They're like souvenirs, bringing back fabulous moments. But I'm running out of pegs to hang them on!

Love the rubber duckies, Lois. Bert and Ernie. How long has it been...

Donna Alward said...

Liz - I still have my Selfridges bag from my trip to London!

Julie - definitely a vice. ;-)

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, yes, Donna! I have one of the lovely yellow plastic ones from the food hall (that would be the part of the food hall that sells chocolate and jelly beans) that I use when I go supermarket shopping. Nice handles. Very strong. Nice version of the "bag for life". :)

michelle Douglas said...

Liz and Donna, LOL. I have kept a Selfridges bag, a Harrods bag, Fortnum and Masons bag and an Arsenal gift shop bag. What's even sadder... I've kept the receipts for the things I bought at those place! (Sadly - or not - they're receipts for food and/or books!)

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Dena said...

Thanks Julie for your insight.... calcium and fruit I never thought of it that I guess it wouldn't be a vice then, huh?

Liz Fielding said...

Just kidding, Michelle. I survived ten years in Africa and the Middle East without getting bitten by anything bigger than a mozzie. If the opportunity came to come down for the RWAus conf and lunch with the Melbourne Mob, I'd be there like a shot!