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.
BUT DON'T FORGET...
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.
NOW RELAX AND ENJOY
...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.
“Blood? She’s giving blood?”
I could barely breathe. “No, she’s giving a bl--”
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.