Wednesday, April 30, 2008


BOOKSHOP owner Andrew Ball was struck by figures that showed only 18% of Australians would ever venture into a shop such as his, so he devised a way to take such shops to the remaining 82%.

The prototype of his idea sits in front of the Federation Square staircase that links the square’s open space to Flinders Street. Like a market stall it unfolds in the morning and refolds at night. Read more here

This is such a brilliant idea that I hope it takes off in a seriously big way so that Andrew can stock his pop-ups with new books and hopefully he'll discover that women who love Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell also love to put their feet up with a contemporary romance. If you see him in Federation Square, do say hello and well done. And put in a word for romance!

Oh, and before I introduce this week's special guest, you can now read an excerpt from my latest sheikh novella, Chosen As the Sheikh's Wife at my website. The Sheikh himself will drop by later in the month to tell you more!

Now for this week's special guest.

Lucy Gordon is a star. No question. She's been shortlisted for the RNA's Romance Prize twice, won two RITAs and a host of other awards, too. And her fabulous Italian heroes have earned her Harlequin Romance novels fans across the world. Of course she does have an advantage over the rest of us there. Her own whirlwind romance with a gorgeous Venetian is the stuff of legend. You can read about it on her website.

This month, however, Lucy's first Mills & Boon Modern/Harlequin Presents THE ITALIAN'S PASSIONATE REVENGE is published in the UK and US and I'm delighted that she's take time out of her busy life to tell us about it.

Over to Lucy...

First a big congratulation to Liz for receiving the Romantic Times award for Career Achievement for Love & Laughter. It comes right on top of the celebrations for her 50th Harlequin Romance, The Bride’s Baby, so the timing couldn’t be better.

Way to go, Liz! Keep ‘em coming!!

I’ve recently been reading the blog by Lawrence Roibal with great interest. Like many writers I’m indebted to him for the beautiful covers he’s done for my books, including all six of the Rinucci series.

One that stands out is The Mediterranean Rebel’s Bride, which made the finals in the Romance Prize given by the Romantic Novelist’s Association, in February. It didn’t win but I’ve just heard that it’s also in the finals of the National Readers Choice Award. The presentation will be made in July, at the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco. So I’m crossing my fingers.

I’ve been looking forward to May for a long time, because this month sees the publication of my first Harlequin Presents, THE ITALIAN’S PASSIONATE REVENGE.

Being Italian by marriage, I set a lot of my books in Italy, many of them in my two favorite cities, Venice and Rome. This one is set in the heart of Rome and I’ve had a wonderful time mentally revisiting my favourite places, the Via Vittorio Veneto, where the wealthy live, the Trevi fountain, where you go to toss a coin and wish to come back to Rome.

My heroine, Elise, made a wish to return to Rome, and eventually she does, but not under the circumstances she would have chosen. Now the man she loved is dead, and she’s taken back by another man, Vincente, the hero, who lures her with promises of passion and luxury. He’ll say and do anything to get her into his lair, because he hates her – although they have never met.

So, from the start, he’s one step ahead of her, but his advantage fades because, as well as being beautiful and sexy, she’s also shrewd, feisty, and brave – all of them things he hadn’t expected. He’s caught off-guard. It becomes a power struggle, with the combatants evenly matched until – well, it's all there in the book.

Finally Elise confronts Vincente:

“Oh, I’ve really got to hand it to you,” she said softly. “As a shrewd manipulator you’re the tops. But of course you have no conscience, which is a big help. You plotted for eight years without let-up. How could you do that? You told me not to judge you too easily, but you’ve judged me every moment. You never thought that there might be something to be said on my side.”

“No, I didn’t, and I’ve blamed myself for that ever since you told me what really happened.”

“But it came too late, didn’t it? I was already in the net by then. How you must have enjoyed closing it around me! Every word you said to me was a lie. Even when – ”
She checked herself as a wave of anguish washed over her. She fought it with every fibre of her being. She couldn’t afford it.

Vincente, watching, drew a tense breath, but stayed still before the rage in her eyes.

“Even when you seemed most sincere, it was a lie,” she said. “That takes some doing. I congratulate you. It was a good act, but it’s over. You served your purpose.”

“And what does that mean?”

“It means you’re not the only one concealing their real thoughts. I hadn’t slept with a man for years. I was ready for – shall we say? – a new experience. No ties. No conditions. You fitted the bill perfectly.”

That struck home, she was glad to notice. He paled, his mouth tightened and his face had a withered look.

“What are you saying?” he asked quietly.

“You know exactly what I’m saying,” she said, challenging him with her look. “I said you were shrewd and calculating, but you’re good in another way – just the way I needed. Do you want me to elaborate?”

“I don’t think you need to,” he said quietly.

“I didn’t know a man could be that skilled in bed,” she went on, disregarding him. “It’s something I won’t forget, because it gives me a touchstone to measure the others by.”


“In the future. And there are going to be others, make no mistake. You did fine job, now I’m going to discover just how fine. I remember everything, you see. Are your special little touches yours alone, or do other men know them? And if not, how quickly can they be taught? Never mind. I’ll have fun finding out.”

“Don’t talk like that,” he almost shouted.

“I’ll talk as I like. If you don’t like it, tough. Remember, I’m partly your creation. I’ve learned a lot from you, not just about sex but about cruelty and ruthlessness, deception with a straight face. I’m glad of it. Your lessons are going to come in very useful.”

His mouth twisted cynically.

“Well done, Elise. You turned out to be everything I thought you. I knew you’d show your true colours in the end.”

“Yes you did, didn’t you? And now I have. So have you. So we can toss each other on the scrap heap and go our ways without regret.”

“And admirable idea,” he snapped. “I’m glad you feel you learned something from me.”

“Ruthlessness, manipulation – ”

“I’m commonly held to be a master. You’ve been learning from the best.”

“Every word you ever said to me – ”

“Pretence, all of them. Every word, every caress, every moment of passion – all done for a purpose.”

“All those times we made love - ?”

“You don’t really think I could love you, do you?” he demanded coldly. “To me you’re little better than a murderess.”

* * *

From The Italian's Passionate Revenge, Harlequin Presents, May 2008 -- available from Mills & Boon in the UK and Harlequin in both print and ebook formats. Or from Amazon, UK

Thanks so much for that thrilling excerpt, Lucy. I know that, like me, your many fans can't wait to lap up the glamour and passion of a new romance set in Rome.
And since we've now all heard about Bertie, here's a picture of him perched on top of Lucy's computer so that we can all know what he looks like!

And finally, for a chance to win a signed copy of this book, Lucy wants to know --

What country does the hero have to come from to make you think -- "I've got to meet him!"?

Tell us the nationality of your own secret fantasy hero and Lucy will draw the winner on Monday.

Oh, and just to reassure Lucy's many Harlequin Romance fans, The Italian's Cinderella Bride-- a Heart to Heart -- is coming soon!

Monday, April 28, 2008


First things first. A huge thank you to Larry Roibal for giving us an insight into cover art production and for his time in checking out covers for authors who dropped by to chat. It’s been a lovely weekend.

Now for the prizewinners. The dh got out his panama hat and after printing out all the names (he's such a star) and a lot of shaking around, he drew out the following five names:

Melissa Leavitt, Ellen, Erastes, Maureen and Limecello.

There are five books up for grabs – The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella, Reunited: Marriage in a Million, The Marriage Miracle, A Family of His Own and The Valentine Bride.

If you’ll email me with the above listed in the order of desirability (most desire first) along with your snail mail address, I’ll do my best to fit you all to the books you’d most like. If any of you have read all five (and God bless you if you have) then I’ll be happy to substitute with something else from my backlist. Just say.

This weekend my guest will be Lucy Gordon, who’s going to tell us about her first Harlequin Presents which goes on sale in May.


And just in case any of your have forgotten, my book The Ordinary Princess is being reprinted in the UK in May in HIGH SOCIETY WEDDINGS, with books by Barbara Hannay (Princess in the Outback) and Barbara McMahon (The Tycoon Prince). It’s also available at and will, in due time, turn up at

You can reserve it now at Amazon, UK here, or get it now direct from Mills & Boon here.


I discovered by chance that Mills & Boon, Australia are reprinting the Boardroom Bridegrooms trilogy. You’ll find The Marriage Merger here


THE BRIDE'S BABY will have disappeared from retail by this weekend, but it's still available at Mills & Boon here and as an eBook here -- you'll have to type Liz Fielding in the search box since nothing I do seems to give me a straight link. I have reported this.

This book is part of the A Bride for All Seasons quartet -- you'll find more about all them here as well as a chance to win a signed set of the books.


I know how much you all love a sheikh, so I'm introducing you to my latest prince of the desert, Sheikh Fayad al Kuwani, heir to the throne of Ras al Kawi. There'll be an excerpt on my website when it's updated on the 1st May, but the story starts with a jewelled Arab knife ...

“The handle had the patina of hard-use and, inset in the top was a large, smoothly polished red stone the size of a pigeon’s egg. The sheath wasn’t straight, but sharply curved and adorned with fancy silver and gold-coloured filigree work into which were set three similar, tear-shaped red stones, decreasing in size as they reached the curved point and looking for all the world as if the stone on the handle was bleeding along its length.”

100 ARABIAN NIGHTS with stories from Kim Lawrence and Meredith Webber, is published as part of the Mills & Boon Centenary celebrations. Reserve your copy here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A very special guest


A few weeks ago, when THE SECRET LIFE OF LADY GABRIELLA was shortlisted for the RNA "Romance Prize", I received a lovely email from Larry Roibal in the States, the artist who produced the gorgeous cover for my book. I subsequently discovered that Larry's covers have adorned at least two of my award winning books -- my favourite, THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE, which won a Rita in 2006 and A FAMILY OF OF HIS OWN, which won the Romance Prize back in 2005. You can bet I'm putting in a special request to have him work on all my covers!

Larry trained as a traditional artist, studying at the prestigious Parsons School of Design, New York, and Parsons in Paris, France, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1982. He has been a working illustrator ever since, creating over five hundred book covers for publishers, including Avon, Berkeley, Harlequin, Pocket, and Silhouette Books.

His work has been recognized by the Romance Writers of America for Best Cover Art featured on a Long Contemporary Novel, and he was awarded an ARTemis Award in 2002.

He's here today to tell us about the process of producing cover artwork. Feel free to ask questions!

I was honored to be asked by Liz Fielding to be a guest on her blog and give some insight into the making of the cover art for her romance novels. First of all, kudos to Liz on her 50th book published title what a remarkable milestone.

I feel privileged to have created covers for at least five of her books...and from what Liz tells me a few of those have been nominated and won awards so I was doubly blessed that my work happened to be teamed with her award winning writing.

The process of creating the covers starts long before it gets to me. A group of very talented designers and art directors develop a look for their line of books. The look has to do with the design, branding and style of type, to the style of painting, color pallet used, and the level of sensuality. This helps to set their line apart visually from other books. Also, since a line of books may have many titles per month, and they don't want six images of a couple on a balcony for instance, it's important (and a major undertaking) to come up with different concepts for each cover. It's only then (if I'm lucky) that an art director might think that I would be a good illustrator to call.

MT, the Art Director for Harlequin Romance is very talented and great to work with. She has a wonderful sense of style and knows the line of books better than anyone. She will provide me art facts, like the characters physical descriptions and a visual reference on which we have something to discuss, i.e., "We love the feeling of this visual reference, but we want to change A, B and C."

I then need to book models that fit the character discriptions, research backgrounds, secure wardrobe, and do a sketch before I go to the shooting. I have an extensive collection of props and clothes for photo shoots, but I'm not above rifling through my wife's closet to get just the right prop, and looking at the examples below I recognize a dress my wife bought to wear to her brothers wedding. I also put some time into developing a game plan for the one hour photo shoot depending on how complex the assignment and weather or not there are children or pets, it's not always so easy to get what I need to complete the cover in the one hour shooting. All of the examples I sent are from assignments for Liz's Books. It's a good way to highlight how
each book looks like they belong together while being different. Each has a man and a woman, and each conforms to the art directives of the line of books, but each has a very different concept, while the characters maintain a connection between them in each, they are A. flirting with the camera B. reacting to a situation or C. engrossed in each other.

After the shooting, I will do a post-shooting sketch and send it to the Art Director along with some alternative poses. After all the time put in, I start to have an attachment to the piece and the decisions I've made, so having a fresh pair of eyes review the project is a very valuable asset. As a freelancer I have first and foremost please the client but also not let my ego get in the way of making the work better and I've learned to welcome the Art Director's feedback. Especially one as good as MT.

From there I go to finish. I've been trained as a traditional artist or oil painter, and have completed the majority of my book covers as oil paintings. In recent years however, I have learned the new technologies in order to keep relevant and serve the market place, and today, all of my commercial work is done digitally. Which basically means I draw and paint with a stylist on a large Wacom tablet and in real time paint on computer monitor.

Larry, thank you for giving us an insight into how a cover is produced. It was absolutely fascinating -- and I greatly admire your wife's taste in clothes!
In honour of Larry, the prize this week is a bit special -- a collection of books with Larry Roibal covers: The Marriage Miracle, A Family of His Own, The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella, Reunited: Marriage in a Million and The Valentine Bride. That five chances to win, so get busy with the comments and the questions!

For a chance to win, the burning question is -- What, on a cover, will make you reach for the book?

Sunday, April 20, 2008


For the last month I’ve been sitting on the most exciting piece of news, barely about to contain myself. Now I can share that on Saturday, at their Convention in Pittsburgh, ROMANTIC TIMES awarded me a Career Achievement Award for Love & Laughter in romantic fiction.

This award is self-explanatory. It’s not for just one book, but for a body of work. All those books that made someone laugh out loud at the same time as they reached for the handkerchief.

If it had been planned it couldn’t have coincided more perfectly with the celebrations for my 50th Harlequin Romance, THE BRIDE’S BABY.

I was also nominated for Best Harlequin Romance again, but this year had to concede the honour to Trish Wylie, to whom very many congratulations. You’ll find a complete list of winners here.

Another champagne moment for someone else, too – Jan Jones, who guested here last week has just sold her Regency romance with a bit of adventure, Fair Deception to Robert Hale Ltd!

Her prize went to Natasha, by the way. We need a snail mail addy, Natasha, when you have a moment!

What else?

Oh, yes, this week’s guest is artist Larry Roibal, who has produced the covers for a number of my books, including two award winners. I’ll be giving away five books with Larry’s special covers this weekend (The Marriage Miracle, The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella, Reunited: Marriage in a Million, A Family of His Own and The Valentine Bride), so do drop by and talk about that most fascinating of subjects – The Cover. Get a little insight into how Larry goes about the production of the perfect cover and ask him those question burning a hole in your brain.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Not only does my next guest, Jan Jones, organise the very best annual writer’s conference in the UK, but her debut book Stage by Stage is one of the most joyous books I’ve ever read.

When I was a girl, my driving ambition was to be an actress and although common sense – and a desire to eat – led me down the shorthand/typing route and hence to foreign parts, I had some of the most fun in my entire life doing Am Dram at the Lusaka Playhouse (and met my husband while playing a saucy page boy in St Joan). It will come as no surprise, therefore, that I fell on Jan’s book the minute it was published. I was not disappointed.

Before writing this introduction, I went back to it and within minutes I fell in love again with her fabulous cast of characters, the romance, the humour. There’s not only a delightful romance between the two major characters, but the angst of the teenage crush, driving ambition and loss. The whole desperate need to pick yourself up and get on with life when it’s kicked you in the teeth.

Typically, Jan doesn’t want to tell you about her book, but about the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Believe what she tells you…


First of all, oodles of congrats to Liz for her 50 books and thank you so much for inviting me here.

I’ve known OF Liz through her books a lot longer than I’ve known her in person, so hers was one of the names I squealed with delight to recognise when I first joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association as a new writer. I still find it awesome that I’m guest-chattering on her blog.

I think it’s fair to say that the RNA has changed my life. I’ve discovered that it’s not weird to have your head in a make-believe world half the time. It’s not unbalanced to become serially involved with all your heroes. If at first you don’t succeed, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep trying for the next fifteen years. Or even longer.

And I have made so many friends! People who understand, who are always ready to help, to commiserate, to cheer. When I won the RNA Joan Hessayon Award with my debut romantic comedy Stage by Stage at the Summer Party in 2005, I didn’t emerge from the hugs and kisses and more hugs and more kisses for about half-an-hour.

I love the RNA. I love the people. I love the parties. I love the annual conference. (Actually, I love the conference so much I now organise it.)

What do you love? APART from your immediate family, what would your life be irretrievably poorer without?

A copy of Stage by Stage to a randomly-picked comment below. If you already have a copy, we’ll think of something else.

And here’s an excerpt:

Owen’s nearness and openness were doing such strange things to her senses that it was a couple of seconds before Beth caught up with what he was saying. ‘But if Luke is the lead and Seb is the juvenile and Monty is the villain, where does that leave you?’

For the first time since she’d known him, Owen’s hazel eyes failed to meet hers. Instead he stood up and looked at himself in the mirror over the mantelpiece. With a hand that wasn’t quite as assured as usual he made a bouffant gesture to his hair, then batted his eyelashes at his reflection. ‘It costs such a lot to make a girl look cheap these days, doesn’t it?’

Beth stared at him, her mind seething with unvoicable contradictions.

‘I mean,’ continued Owen, flicking his lashes with a careful fingertip, ‘never mind Hardup’s bloody mansion, it’s me Llewellyn-Bowen ought to be making over.’

‘Dame Trot? You?’ Her voice was a thread.

He met her eyes in the mirror. ‘Made my debut as Mrs Crusoe last year. The advantage of being the writer is that you get all the best lines.’

She swallowed. Whatever she said now would be crucial. ‘Was it fun?’

He turned, picked up his tea again and moved edgily over to her A-level group’s Arms And The Man essays. ‘Wonderful,’ he said, leafing through the top one, ‘except I didn’t pull. Let’s face it, who’s going to look twice at a bloke in false eyelashes who dresses up in women’s clothes for a living?’

This was it. Make or break time. Beth’s heart was beating so hard she thought it might batter its way out of her chest. ‘Me?’ she said.

Everything about Owen stilled.

She walked carefully across and removed both mug and essay from his hands. ‘Providing you don’t wear curlers in bed. Or borrow my tights. I have enough trouble with Natalie.’ She met his incredulous stare and licked dry lips. ‘You’ll have to help me here, Owen. I’m out of practice at this.’

His mobile face erupted into a dazzling smile. ‘Yes!” he yelled, and wrapped her in his arms. ‘Oh, Beth, I’ve wanted to do this for so long.’ He bent his head and kissed her long and hard. Very long. And very hard.

Bliss. More than bliss. Sensations she hadn’t realised she’d missed flooded back into her body. After an eon of ecstasy that might have equally lasted five minutes or five hours, she threaded her fingers through his hair. ‘Me too,’ she said. ‘You may have guessed.’

He kissed her again. He ran his hands around her denim-clad hips, let them linger on her inner thighs. ‘So have you got something upstairs,’ he murmured, ‘or shall we use one of your Marigolds down here?’

. . . . . . .

(Note from Liz: I’m not sure if “Marigolds” will translate. I’ll just say that they are a well known make of rubber gloves…)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Kate Hardy has picked her winner! She's had the ankle-biters shuffle the names and pick one out and Dena -- again -- has emerged the winner. Can you get in touch, Dena? I now have two authors with books for you!

And very generously, Kate is also going to send a copy of the Penhally book to Penn.

It was lovely having you as a guest, Kate. I can't wait to read His Royal Love-Child myself.

I'm off to London for a jolly today, to catch up with Elizabeth and Marieteresa from the Matera Literary Festival -- they're over for the London Book Fair, but don't go away. The always delightful Jan Jones will be here later in the week to tell you about the Romantic Novelists' Association, and give away a copy of Stage by Stage (which is wonderful). And later in the month I have a cover artist -- the lovely man who produced the cover for The Marriage Miracle, A Family of His Own, Reuntied: Marriage in a Million and The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella. He's going to tell us how he does it!

Oh, and if you're wondering about the picture -- that the entrance hall to Longbourne Court, Sylvie's ancestral home in THE BRIDE'S BABY. The staircase...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I'm being a neglectful blogger just at the moment. Major problems with the wip are the main reason, but it does seem, finally, to be making sense.

First up, a big thank you to Michelle Douglas for being such a star last week. The winner of her book is Dina -- so fire in an email with your snail mail addy to liz, Dina and I'll pass it along. And thanks to everybody for joining in the fun.

I have my own bit of news -- a totally thrilling review for The Bride's Baby (which is one of the reasons we're having this celebration. remember!).

"Liz Fielding’s heartwarming and enthralling romances are in a class of their own! In The Bride’s Baby, she has written a wonderfully moving story of hope, loss, pain and second chances that just left me breathless! Peopled with richly believable characters and sprinkled with plenty of warmth, charm and heart, The Bride’s Baby is another spellbinding romance by a writer readers the world over adore... "

For more go to Cataromance

And while I'm talking about The Bride's Baby, I'm blogging over at The Wedding Planner's blog and also helping the lovely Jessica Hart celebrate her own anniversary this week. There are books to win!

Okay, that's all about me for this week. Time to introduce this week's guest, the totally amazing and all round lovely person, Kate Hardy.

What can I tell you about Kate? That she's known as Scary Kate because she writes at the speed of light? That she has a chocolate addiction that would rival any of my heroines? That she is the most wonderful friend, fabulous author and winner of this year's Romance Prize for the emotionally rivetting Breakfast at Giovanni's aka In Bed with Her Italian Boss (see below). Pardon me, while sigh over Giovanni.

Oh, yes, and she has a cover fairy...

Jealous of The Doctor's Royal Love-Child? Moi?

Enough -- here's Kate...

I’m so pleased to be here, celebrating the publication of Liz Fielding’s 50th romance for Mills and Boon – and I’m thrilled to be shelfmates with her in such a special month.

I’ve loved Liz’s books for many years – and for many reasons. The snappy dialogue, the one-liners that as a writer you just wish you’d thought of first, the gorgeous heroes it’s so easy to fall in love with, the heroines you want to be best friends with, the clever twists, the heartwarming secondaries you’d rather like to be part of your own social network...

Liz’s books are, quite simply, fabulous reads. I’d say she’s written four out of five of my all-time favourite romances. And whenever things turn rocky in real life, it’s one of Liz’s books I always choose to give me a respite – she might make me cry, but at the end I’ll have a smile on my face and be able to go on with the show, because the sheer warmth of the worlds Liz creates is like having a hug from a really good friend. (Actually, I have this theory that authors are like their books. Liz is just as warm and lovely in person as her books are.)

As I have two releases this month, I’m going to offer two books up for grabs: a copy of In Bed With Her Italian Boss (the US release of Breakfast at Giovanni’s) and The Doctor’s Royal Love-Child (the Medical Romance that’s on the shelves in the UK this month along with Liz’s The Bride’s Baby).

To be in with a chance to win, simply tell me what puts a smile on your face, and I’ll draw a name out of the hat.

Oh, yes. Excerpt. I nearly forgot. Hmm, which book? Which hero? I’m almost tempted to give you the scene with Giovanni that’s all Natasha Oakley’s fault (she told me a fact about one of my favourite actors that set a major lightbulb pinging). But I guess we should begin at the beginning… and as I’ve banged on a bit about Gio on my own blog (it was my 25th book and did something very special for me in M&B’s centenary year), then I’ll give you the opening of The Doctor’s Royal Love-Child.

Dragan Lovak is the Croatian doctor with a haunting past, and Melinda Fortesque is the village vet… or is she? (Note that this time it’s NOT the hero who’s Italian… and yeah, there’s food involved. It’s a Kate Hardy book. Of course there’s food involved…)


‘Fancy seeing you here, Dr Lovak,’ Melinda said with a grin as Dragan wound down the window of his car. ‘Anyone would think I had matched my call lists to yours.’

Knowing that she’d done exactly that when she’d called him after her morning’s surgery – except his first call had taken a little longer than he’d expected, which was why he was arriving at the boarding kennels just as she was leaving – Dragan smiled back. ‘Tut, tut, Ms Fortesque. Suggest things like that and people might start to talk.’

‘If they do, I’ll just tell them I wanted to check on my favourite patient and see how her leg’s doing. Isn’t that right, Bramble?’ Melinda looked over Dragan’s shoulder at the flatcoat retriever they’d rescued a little over three months before, who was lying on a blanket in the back of his car.

The dog’s tail thumped loudly, and she gave a soft answering woof.

‘Hear that? Bramble says she’ll be my alibi. Bella ragazza.’ Melinda leaned in through the open window and stole a kiss from Dragan. ‘Though I think people might have already started to guess, amore mio. Do you know how many people this last month have told me what a wonderful doctor you are?’

‘Funny, that. People have been singing your praises to me, too.’ He stole a kiss right back. ‘But that’s the thing about living in a place like Penhally. Everybody knows everything about everyone.’ Or nearly everything. So, despite the fact that they’d kept their relationship low-key, he was pretty sure that everybody in Penhally knew that the vet and the doctor were an item.

For a moment, he could’ve sworn that worry flashed into Melinda’s gorgeous blue eyes. But then the expression was gone again. No, he must be imagining things. And what did Melinda have to hide, anyway? She’d come to England on holiday years ago, fallen in love with the country, and decided to settle here and train to be a vet.

Not so very different from himself. Although holidays had been the last thing on his mind when he’d walked off that boat, seventeen years ago, he too had fallen in love with England. And he was as settled here in Cornwall as he’d ever be anywhere. The wild Atlantic wasn’t quite the same as the Adriatic, but at least the sound of the sea could still lull him to sleep at night.

‘Do you have time for lunch?’ she asked.

He shook his head. ‘Sorry. I’m already behind schedule. And I really can’t keep my patients waiting.’

‘Of course you can’t.’ She stroked his cheek. ‘I’ll cook for us tonight, then. Your place.’

He turned his head to press a kiss into her palm. ‘That would be lovely. Though you don’t have to cook for me, Melinda. I’m perfectly capable of doing it.’

She scoffed and put her hands on her hips, shaking her head at him as he got out of the car. ‘Dragan Lovak, you know as well as I do that you never cook. That if I let you, you’d live on bread and cheese and cold meats and salad – even in the middle of winter.’

He flapped a dismissive hand. ‘Well. Food doesn’t have to be hot. It’s fuel.’

‘It’s much more than that,’ she told him. ‘You don’t just shovel down calories like a Ferrari taking on petrol at a pit stop. Food is a pleasure. Something to be enjoyed.’


Congratulations on your 50th book, Liz. And here’s to many, many more.


Thanks, Kate!

You'll find more about In Bed With Her Italian Boss here And on The Doctor's Royal Love-Child here

And because obviously writing a gazillion books a year is not enough for Scary Kate, you'll find her endlessly entertaining blog here

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


How brilliant is that. April is here and instantly we have the kind of warm, balmy days that make me want to forget about work and rush into the garden and start clearing out the pots, cutting back the stuff that's out of control and flinging weedkiller on the lawn. I dare not actually do the last of those. It's only the moss and weeds that's holding the thing together!

Okay, competition winners. Lois has won last week's guest blogger, Julie Cohen's book, ONE NIGHT STAND. And Christy has won the jigsaw puzzle. I just loved a Scribble of Romantic Novelists.

I still can't tell you my lovely piece of news, but I can direct you to the A Bride for All Seasons blog where you can see all the pictures, the background, and some extra snips from The Bride's Baby, my 50th Harlequin Romance which is OUT NOW!

You'll also find all the latest Harlequin Romance news here as well as a chance to win Claire Baxter's latest book.

But now to this week's guest. Michelle Douglas is one of Harlequin Romance's newest authors. She burst on the scene at the end of last year with a 4.5 stars from Romantic Times for her delightful debut novel HIS CHRISTMAS ANGEL. It's always wonderful to welcome a new author into the series and I know that Michelle is going to steal hearts wherever fine books are read.


It is such an honour to be asked by Liz to help her celebrate her 50th book. 50 books! Yay, Liz! I’m blowing up balloons and throwing streamers and pouring champagne as we speak. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be here. Ever since I picked up my first Liz Fielding romance, I was hooked. I mean, seriously, can you imagine a nicer fate than being a Liz Fielding heroine?

Thanks for having me here, Liz!

The “What If...” Game

As I was sitting in my armchair, staring aimlessly out the glass sliding door at my jungle of a garden, I idly wondered (as you do) – what if I saw a tiger? I’m talking Bengal, orange with black stripes here, not a snarly little Tasmanian number. Maybe it’s because my garden IS a jungle that led me to thoughts of tigers. But... What if I was outside in my backyard when I saw that tiger? What would I do? How could I get away from it with life and limb intact?

Aha! My eyes lit on the big, old-fashioned rotary clothesline that every Australian backyard is equipped with, and knew I had found my solution – I’d shinny up the clothesline.

Oh my, thought I. What an interesting thing to do in a story – strand a character in a clothesline – and the beginnings of THE LONER’S GUARDED HEART were born. I had to dispense with the tiger, of course. I couldn’t see how I’d get away with a tiger prowling the Australian landscape. And if I could, mightn’t it prove just a tad too distracting? Okay dispense with said tiger.

So... how to get my heroine up a clothesline? And c’mon, Michelle, why is this such a good idea anyway? Isn’t it a bit... gimmicky? But the image kept pestering me, nagging away at me, and wouldn’t let go. Somehow I had to get my heroine up a clothesline. [By the way, it had to be the heroine. No matter which way I looked at it, I couldn’t find myself even remotely attracted to a hero stuck in a clothesline.]

This is where the “What If...” game becomes useful rather than plain, idle fun.

What if my heroine is a city girl and she’s forced to spend a month on a remote property? I do like a good fish-out-of-water story. I love watching characters pushed outside their comfort zones.

What if – like me, my sister, my mother and most of my girlfriends – my heroine is a bit wary, or downright scared for that matter, of dogs that growl, and not too keen on goannas, ticks and spiders?

Don’t forget you have a hero to create, Michelle...

What if my hero is tall, dark and reclusive? (Ooh, I love a tortured hero)

What if it’s his clothesline the heroine takes refuge in? (Of course it’s his clothesline!)

Time to start thinking conflict...

What if the hero is the heroine’s only neighbour for miles around?

What if the last thing my heroine needs is time to brood and endless solitude?

What if solitude is the only thing my hero seeks?

I think the stage is set for plenty of conflict there. This is my heroine’s reaction when she finds herself alone, at a seemingly deserted farmhouse, miles from anywhere.

In her hunger to clap eyes on a friendly face, Josie rushed around the side of the house to open the gate. Her fingers fumbled with the latch. Need ballooned inside her, a need for companionship, a need to connect with someone. The gate finally swung back to reveal a neat yard. Again, no garden beds or flower pots broke the austerity, but the lawn here too was clipped and short, the edges so precise they looked as if they’d been trimmed using a set square.

The fence was painted white to match the house and the obligatory rotary clothes-line sat smack-bang in the middle of it all. An old fashioned steel one like the one Josie had at home. Its prosaic familiarity reassured her. She stared at the faded jeans, blue chambray shirt and navy boxer shorts hanging from it and figured her landlord must be male.

Why hadn’t she found out his name from Marty or Frank? Though, everything had moved so fast. They’d popped this surprise on her last night and had insisted on seeing her off at the crack of dawn this morning. Mrs Pengilly’s bad turn, though, had put paid to any early start. Josie bit her lip. Maybe she should’ve stayed and–

A low vicious growl halted her in her tracks. Icy fingers shot down her back and across her scalp. No.

Please God, no.

There hadn’t been a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on the gate. She’d have seen it. She paid attention to those things. Close attention.

The growl came again followed by the owner of the growl and Josie’s heart slugged so hard against her ribs she thought it might dash itself to pieces before the dog got anywhere near her. Her knees started to shake.

‘Nice doggy,’ she tried, but her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth slurring her words and making them unintelligible.

The dog growled in answer. Nuh-uh, it wasn’t a nice doggy and, although it wasn’t as large as a Rottweiler or a Dobermann, it was heavy-set and its teeth, when bared, looked just as vicious. She could imagine how easily those teeth would tear flesh.

She took a step back. The dog took a step forward.

She stopped. It stopped.

Her heart pounded so hard it hurt. She wanted to buckle over but she refused to drop her eyes from the dog’s glare. It lowered its head and showed its teeth. All the hackles on its back lifted.

Ooh. Not a good sign. Everything inside Josie strained towards the gate and freedom, but she knew she wouldn’t make it. The dog would be on her before she was halfway there. And those teeth...

Swallowing, she took another step back. The dog stayed put.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Another step. The dog didn’t move. Its hackles didn’t lower.

With a half-sob, Josie flung herself sideways and somehow managed to half climb, half pull her way up until she was sitting on top of the rotary clothes-line.

‘Help!’ she hollered at the top of her voice.

Something tickled her face. She lifted a hand to brush it away. Spider web! She tried to claw it off but it stuck with clammy tentacles to her face and neck. It was the last straw. Josie burst into tears.

The dog took up position directly beneath her. Lifting its head, it howled. It made Josie cry harder.

‘What in the devil–’

A person. ‘Thank you, God.’ Finally, a friendly face. She swung towards the voice, almost falling out of the clothesline in relief.

She stared.

Her heart all but stopped.

Then it dropped clean out of her chest to lie gasping and flailing on the ground like a dying fish. This was her friendly face?


Fresh sobs shook her. The dog started up its mournful howl again.

‘For the love of–’

The man glared at her, shifted his feet, hands on hips. Nice lean hips she couldn’t help noticing.

‘Why in the dickens are you crying?’

She’d give up the sight of those lean hips and taut male thighs for a single smile.

He didn’t smile. She stared at the hard, rocky crags of his face and doubted this man could do friendly. He didn’t have a single friendly feature in his face. Not one. Not even a tiny little one. The flint of his eyes didn’t hold a speck of softness or warmth. She bet dickens wasn’t the term he wanted to use either.

I love playing the “What If...” game. I also love blowing my too-confident heroes’ expectations out of the water. Kent, the hero of THE LONER’S GUARDED HEART, is convinced Josie is a mouse who can’t look after herself, someone he continually has to rescue. But when they find themselves on Josie’s home turf... What if it’s her turn to rescue him?

Josie finds herself stranded on this remote property because her brothers have sent her there for a holiday. She’s been dreaming of poolside cocktails. She gets a rustic cabin in the wilderness instead. A copy of THE LONER’S GUARDED HEART is up for grabs. All you have to do is leave a comment sharing with us your idea of the holiday from hell.

Once again, thanks for having me here, Liz. Congratulations on 50 books! Glass of champagne anyone?