Wednesday, August 27, 2008

GLADIATORS, VIKINGS...'s got to be Michelle Styles!

Michelle Styles, seen here at the Mills & Boon Centenary party with author Carol Townend and Harlequin President and Publisher, Donna Hayes, broke new ground for Mills & Boon Historical romance with her first book The Gladiator's Honour, a book about which the Smart Bitches blog said -- "Read this book, read this book..."

I couldn't agree more!

Michelle (in the red) -- can you see the wicked twinkle in her eye -- was the woman urging me to be outrageous with the butlers in the buff -- definitely someone to take along to a party!

When she isn't leading me astray, Michelle is busy writing and will shortly be celebrating a major milestone in her own publishing career, with the publication of her 10th book, Improverished Miss, Convenient Bride, to be published early next year, but she's here today to tell us about her new release, AN IMPULSIVE DEBUTANTE

The floor is yours, Michelle...

There is something indefinable about a Liz Fielding book. She has a sort of magic alchemy with her characters and always manages to create wonderfully sparkling romances, the sort of romances that make you feel better about the world. I always promise myself that I will take it slow. I will make this one last. A little bit a time, but every single time, I end up reading the book in one sitting. Once, memorably boiling the kettle dry. It is a truly wonderful thing that Liz has now reached her fifty book mark. Along the way, she has won many well deserved rewards, but mostly she has provided her readers with characters that linger and plots that fizz. And once you are in the world that she has created, you want to return time and time again.

Now I am supposed to say something about my upcoming release An Impulsive Debutante. And when Liz asked me to take part in her celebrations, I knew that I wanted to highlight this book, as it is a book that I had a lot of fun writing. The heroine, Lottie Charlton is one of my personal favourites. She started out as a minor and in many ways not very nice secondary character in A Christmas Wedding Wager, but my daughter became enamored of her and begged for her story. And basically to keep her quiet and to stop her from bringing the subject, I agreed. So with my editor’s reluctant approval (there were many hmmm’s, ah-ha’s and well’s in the conversation), I began. My daughter had sound instincts and I rapidly fell in love with Lottie’s indomitable spirit and her desire make lemonade out of the lemons that life through at her. She just possessed that certain something. Hopefully, readers will agree.

The following extract is from the first chapter, the hero, Tristan Dyvelston has encountered Lottie for the first time. He is visiting his parents’ grave and she has come to the churchyard partly to see if it is a good place to paint and partly to put in motion her most current scheme – attempting to get her cousin engaged to a local farmer.

A proposal?’ Tristan glanced over his shoulder, fully expecting to see some puffed up dandy or farmer advancing towards them. ‘Tell me where the unfortunate man is and I shall beat a hasty retreat.’

‘Not mine. My cousin’s.’

‘The one who is mistaken about graveyards.’ Tristan said, and struggled to keep his face straight. It made a change to speak about such things other than the state of Gortner Hall’s leaking roof, the fallow fields and the other ravages that his uncle wrecked on the estate.

‘That’s right.’ There was a sort of confidence about the woman, the sort that is easily destroyed later in life. ‘All Frances ever does is read Minerva Press novels and sigh about Mr Shepard’s fine eyes and his gentle manner. What is the good with sighing and not acting positively? She needed some help and advice.’
‘Which you have offered...unasked.’

She held up her hand and her body stilled, an intent expression crossed her face. ‘There, can you hear it?’

The sound of a faint shriek wafted on the breeze. Tristan lifted an eyebrow. ‘It sounds as if someone is strangling a cat. Is this something you are concerned about? Should I investigate?’

‘My cousin Frances, actually. She is busy being rescued from the Cruel Sykes burn.’ She tilted her head, listening and then gave a decided nod. The bow of her mouth tilted upwards. ‘Definitely Cousin Frances. We practiced the shriek a dozen times and she still managed to get it wrong. She needed to gently shriek, and to grab his arm but not to claw it. I do hope she had not pulled him in. That would be insupportable. Truly insupportable.’

‘All this is in aid of?’

‘Her forthcoming marriage to Mr Kent Shepard.’

The woman drew a breath and Tristan noticed the agreeable manner in which she filled out her gingham bodice. But he knew she was also well aware of the picture she created. A minx who should be left alone. Trouble. He would make his excuses and depart before he became ensnared in any of her ill-considered schemes.
‘Cousin Frances has to get engaged. She simply has to. Everything in my life depends on it.’

‘Why should it matter to you?’ His curiosity overcame him.
‘I was unjustly banished.’ The woman wrinkled her nose. ‘It was hardly my fault that Miss Emma Harrison kissed Jack Stanton in a sleigh in full view of any passing stranger.’

‘Jack Stanton is well able to look after himself.’ Tristan gave a laugh. His impression had been correct. She was the sort of woman to stay away from. Trouble with a capital T. ‘I hope your friend was not too inconvenienced, but she picked the wrong man to kiss. Jack is a good friend of mine and not given to observing the niceties of society.’

‘Do you?’

‘When the occasion demands, I was born a gentleman. But immune to such stratagems. It is amazing the lengths some women will go to.’

‘It all ended happily as they were married, just before Christmas.’ Her eyes blazed as she drew herself up to her full height. ‘You obviously do not know your friends as well you think you do.’

‘I have been travelling on the Continent. But if it ended happily, why were you banished?’

‘My brother Henry was furious. He turned a sort of mottle purple and sent me out here to Aunt Alice until I could learn to keep my mouth quiet. Lottie, he said, you have no more sense than a gnat which was a severely unkind thing to say.’

‘And have you? Learnt to keep your mouth quiet?’

My question to help Liz celebrate is: As I know that Liz has written several books with secondary characters as heroes or heroines, is there a Liz Fielding secondary that still needs her story and why? The prize on offer is a copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager and a copy of An Impulsive Debutante.

Thanks, Michelle -- it sounds fabulous. And if you want to know more, you can browse the book here...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Just a quickie to let you all know that Dena's name was under the pin in Melanie's hand today and has won a copy of THE SHOCKING LORD STANDON. Congratulations! Melanie will be in touch, Dena.

And pretty much the last reminder that there's a hardback copy of WEDDED IN A WHIRLWIND (Miranda Grenville's story) up for grabs at my website this week. It won't be pub'd until November.

Monday, August 25, 2008

LIZ'S wii fit DIARY

Week 2

I've now completed 5 1/2 hrs of exercise and the great news is that I'm still finding it fun. The weight fluctuated a bit, on a bit, off a bit -- but that's normal over a week. I wouldn't normally recommend weighing more than once a week, but the wii does it every morning and it certainly makes me think twice before indulging in the Saturday night curry.

I did hit my weight loss target for the month in two weeks, but then today I was up again a bit. I expected it and I'm not daunted. The thing is that the jeans have some slack around the waist and a pair of trousers I'd stopped wearing because they were a bit tight around the backside are now back in service. And the dh says I'm looking terrific (that's got to be good!)

The bad news -- and you knew there was going to be bad news, didn't you? -- is that I pulled a muscle under my right shoulder blade. Ouch, ouch, ouch -- I staggered off the wii to have that damned woman yelling me to get back on... Like that was going to happen.

Anyway, I had to put all muscle exercise and yoga on the back burner and instead just keep on with the aerobic stuff. I miss the boxing, though! And I seem to have completely lost it on the ski slope.

So I've lost 5lbs, my legs feel much stronger, the jeans fit and the muscle is easier. Bring it on...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


... appears to have been won. I finally downloaded Firefox and now I have everything back in place, although cutting and pasting is a bit of a hit and miss affair . Badly handled update, Blogger... Could do better.

Anyway, the good news is that I can now introduce you to LOUISE ALLEN, this week's guest in the great 50th book party. I first met Louise several years ago at a Mills & Boon Author lunch and it's a real pleasure to invite her along to share a glass of cyber bubbly and tell us about her great new Regency romp, The Shocking Lord Standon

Thank you so much for the invitation Liz! I’ll be celebrating my 25th book at Christmas and I’m totally in awe of your fantastic record of 50 titles, all packing so much emotional punch and delivering such consistent entertainment.

I’ve just finished writing the sixth and final book in my series for Harlequin Mills & Boon about a group of cousins - Those Scandalous Ravenhursts. (My dear husband refers to it as the Sexology). I thought a trio of linked family books might be fun – but I reckoned without the Ravenhursts and it grew to six before I knew what was happening.

I first met them when Lord Sebastian Ravenhurst invited himself into No Place For a Lady and made a spirited attempt to take over, the way heroes do. Unfortunately it wasn’t his book, so he had to be reined in with the promise of a love story of his own. (The Dangerous Mr Ryder and The Outrageous Lady Felsham came out earlier this year.)

Number three – The Shocking Lord Standon - is out in September. Gareth Morant, Lord Standon, is a respectable and highly eligible bachelor, who finds himself almost trapped into marriage with childhood friend Lady Maude Templeton (heroine of number 5, due out next year). Neither of them want the match, so Gareth sets about becoming considerably less respectable – every father’s nightmare match for his daughter in fact. He needs a mistress to conduct a scandalous and very public liaison with, a woman who will vanish discreetly the moment he and Maude are safe. But where to find one?

In this extract governess Jessica Gifford has been abducted and imprisoned in a brothel. Luckily she has read any number of romantic adventure stories and knows just what to do -

In sensation novels, the sort governesses are supposed never to read and in fact devour by the shelf full, the beleaguered yet valiant heroine can pick a dungeon lock in seconds as she escapes from the wicked duke’s evil clutches. Her hands shaking, cold sweat standing out all over her, Jessica could only conclude that either wicked dukes employed inferior locksmiths to brothel keepers or the authors of the Minerva Press were sadly misinformed.

After five minutes she stood up in an attempt to relieve her cramped knees. ‘Open, you beastly thing,’ she said, almost weeping with frustration, and fetched the lock a thump with her clenched fist. With a click it did just that.

Jessica was out into the corridor before she could think. Opposite her a shadowy figure moved. She gave a yelp of fear and realised that it was her own reflection in a full length mirror. And she was stark naked.

Behind her the door swung to, the catch snicked closed. She could not go back, that was where they would come for her. Clothes. That was the priority.

She opened the first door that she came to and peered round the edge. Inside was a big bed and on it a welter of naked flesh. Gasping, Jessica made out six legs, two pairs of buttocks, a glimpse of hairy chest… How many people? Doing what? She shut the door, flattening herself instinctively into the recess. The participants in the orgy had appeared totally preoccupied, but even so, she did not think she had the courage to sneak in and steal clothing while that was going on.

Jessica drew in a deep breath and forced herself to plan. To assume the worst was a self-fulfilling prophesy. Her fate was sealed if she panicked. Steadier, she surveyed the corridor in which she found herself. Opposite was the door she had just escaped through, behind her the room with the orgy in progress. On either side were two more doors and then in both directions, the passage turned.

Which way to go? Her sense of direction had quite deserted her in the hectic few minutes when she had been bundled out of the carriage and up the stairs. Then, as she hesitated, her arms wrapped around her chilly ribs, the decision was made for her by the sound of a door opening and loud voices from out of sight to her right. Without hesitation Jessica fled around the other corner.

It might have been better, she realised in the second she thudded into a solid wall of male muscle, if she had been looking where she was going and not wildly back over her shoulder.

Her nose was buried in a shirt front, the crisp upper edge of a tailored waistcoat stuck into her chin and her shivering body was pressed against warm superfine and knitted silk. The immovable object stood quite still as the voices behind her grew louder.

Jessica tilted back her head and found she was squinting up past a chin that was already shadowed by an evening beard into amused grey eyes. One dark eyebrow rose. ‘Help,’ she whispered, her voice fled along with her hope. ‘Please help me.’

The Shocking Lord Standon is out in September on both the UK (Mills & Boon Historical) and in North America (Harlequin Historical), with two different covers. The North American one has the blue border, the UK one the pink dress. To win a signed copy of The Shocking Lord Standon, just tell me which cover you prefer and why. Good luck!

To find out more about the Ravenhursts, visit my website

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I know a lot of visitors to this blog are working hard at their own writing careers so I'm posting news of a new writing competition from Mills & Boon. Good luck!

The FEEL THE HEAT writing competition!

Do you have a fresh, vibrant, sassy voice and a passion for sexy alpha heroes? Can you write sparky dialogue, create great sensual tension and hot love-scenes?

If so, then we want to hear from you!


  • Email your first chapter and synopsis of a Modern Heat novel to: by 15th September 2008
  • The WINNER receives an editor for a year!
  • TWO RUNNERS-UP will be given critiques of their first chapter entries and an editorial telephone consultation!
The winner will be announced October 1st 2008

For help on writing Modern Heat, click here and for more information on the competition and the rules, click here

For more stuff about writing for Mills and Boon, click here

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Great news! Snookie has won the copy of Jennie Adam's THE BOSS'S UNCONVENTIONAL ASSISTANT! Snookie, the book is already on its way to you.

If you missed out this time, don't worry, there's loads more to come -- have you all visited my website for the chance to win an advance hardback copy of WEDDED IN A WHIRLWIND, btw? You've got until the end of the month.

And on Wednesday, Louise Allen will be here to tell us all about her latest Regency Romance -- you really won't want to miss that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

LIZ’S wii fit DIARY

I won’t bore you with my daily workout, but I promised a weekly update and this is how thing stand at the end of week 1.
Total exercise time for week: 170 minutes Total weight loss for week (despite a slight blip on Day 4 when I went up a llb): 4lb Balance: I lean slightly to the right and I wobble a bit.

I’m not just exercising but watching what I eat and I have been pretty good this week. Perhaps a little too much bread, way too many meatballs and I admit that the cod roe was probably a mistake (blame the dh for that one).

I am also having some evening play, although I need some way to balance the right arm work – I love the tennis, but my left arm is beginning to be noticeably saggier than my right. I’m hoping the boxing will help.

Overall: I’m feeling much more energised – I had begun to make a couch potato look active.
Next target: To get the dh to step up and join in.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LIZ'S wii fit DIARY…

I’ve been having fun with wii sport for a week. First I built a mii. I like her. She is small, a bit tubby, wears glasses and has grey hair and has a jolly yellow t-shirt. Mii…

Over the week I’ve brought my age down from 80, via a dip to 40 (when I didn’t have any baseball or bowling), to settle at around 53, which is shy enough of my true age to make me feel slightly smug. The tennis has improved hugely and I can now, occasionally, hit the ball in baseball. I even managed a fair result in bowling. It’s fun. I’m enjoying it.

But now I’ve moved on the serious business of stepping up onto the wii fit that arrived this weekend.

Day 1

It had me put in my year of birth and height and then it weighed me, measured my bmi (ouch) and then put me through some assessments, showing me where my centre of balance was – not bad actually. At least when I stand still. When I moved things went totally to pot. (Do I trip over things? it asked me. Er, yes…) We -- and his is very much an interactive system and the guy inside the television is really sweet and encouraging -- settled on a plan for me to lose 5lbs in a month. Then we started on the serious stuff..

Oh, dear. The old eye/feet co-ordination is not what it should be. It doesn’t help that I have trouble distinguishing between left and right when doing yoga stuff, or stepping.

The wii is comforting, though. It helpfully suggested I follow the feet of the guys on the screen when stepping. It also noticed that my left leg wobbled when I stood on it without the support of the right and told me that it will help me build my strength so that I can support my upper body weight. It did not say that it would help if my upper body weight was reduced substantially. I appreciated that.

I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


The year rolls on and I've lost count of the number of great guests who've taken time out of their busy schedules to help me celebrate this special year.
Today it's Australian colleague Jennie Adams who has dropped by to share a glass of cyber champagne and her latest book -- her tenth, which is cause enough for celebration in its own right. Congratulations on reaching a big milestone, Jennie!
Despite living on the far side of the world from each other, Jennie and I share a lot in common, not least this little snippet --

"Jennie's first attempt to become a writer at age four involved sneaking off to go to school with her older siblings. Unfortunately, those efforts were foiled by a very small tricycle, three-and-a-half very long miles of dirt road between her and the school, and a vigilant mother who could drive faster than Jennie could pedal. "

Could it be that all writers have this huge curiosity? This "go and get it" attitude? I didn't have siblings, but at the age of three I snuck out of the house and followed the "big kids" to school. (Obviously if so many of them were going there it had to be great, right?) It was only round the corner and I made it. In fact I did this so many times that the head (amused? exasperated, desperate?) found me a place in the nursery school next door. It was fabulous. I can still remember the feel of the fingerpaints, climbing on the jungle gym, my favourite brown corderoy dungerees. We had naps in the afternoon and I used to lie there trying to work out if, when I closed my eyes, it went dark for everyone else...

Jennie started writing early, too, but I'm disappointed that there was no market for the "shopaholic" cartoon possum. Thankfully, she didn't allow early disappointment to discourage her and here she is to tell you about THE BOSS'S UNCONVENTIONAL ASSISTANT (which is presently sitting on top of tbr pile!)


My first Liz Fielding experiences came to me as a young reader enjoying Liz’s wonderful stories, lovely heroines and swoon-worthy heroes. Over the years I have been swept away by many, many of Liz’s stories -- and hope to be swept away by many, many more.

Congratulations, Liz, on your fiftieth book release! It is a remarkable achievement by a truly remarkable author. As a writer as well as a reader of romance, one thing I admire so much is the tenacity and commitment that I know must have gone into penning those many, many wonderful stories that have touched readers around the globe.

I am currently working on my tenth Harlequin Romance novel and feel very much the ‘beginner’, quite unable to imagine having fifty different stories in print! But I aspire to Liz’s ability to offer again and again, enduring classic romance stories of timeless grace and appeal.

I aspire to stories that bring laughter, and tears, empathy and a sense of ‘I am understood, there are others like me, I am not alone in the world’. So when I pick up a Liz Fielding book and a heroine is shinnying along a drainpipe (don’t we all do daft/unwise/silly things if we know
there is a need), or throwing out prickles towards the hero of the piece (I will never forget Liz’s wheelchair-bound heroine, I cried buckets over that book). Oh, I could name so many more ‘reader’ moments from Liz’s stories. The thing is, those moments are all tucked away in my
heart, and that to me, is the mark of a truly wonderful author -- the ability to give the reader treasured moments that are hers (or his) for life. It’s a form of generosity, of opening one’s own heart onto the page, and I know in Liz, this generosity goes deep.

When I sold my first novel to Harlequin Romance, Liz was one of the first to congratulate me. Liz stands as a great encouragement to aspiring and established writers alike, and it is in this generous spirit that Liz has opened up her 50th book release celebration year to fellow authors in her typical way.

So thank you, Liz, for inviting me to visit your corner of cyberspace and share a little about my latest book release.

The Boss's Unconventional Assistant is an August Harlequin Romance release, and shares the story of Sophia Gable and Grey Barlow. When Grey first meets Sophia, he rather feels as though he’s looking at a bright, fluffy... alien from another planet . But they go on to prove that opposites can indeed attract, with sometimes fun results!

Sophia’s is the last of my three Gable sisters stories, and I enjoyed wrapping up with a big-hearted, quirky, sometimes unpredictable heroine who tipped the hero quite firmly onto his ear from the first meeting.

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene:

Soph climbed out of the car, twitched her fluffy cerise jumper and black pants into place and spared just a moment to admire the matching crimson ankle boots. With a cheerful expression pasted onto her face, she headed for the house and climbed the steps to the veranda.

‘You’re Sophia Gable, the assistant I acquired through the staffing agency?’ The question came as a low rumble of sound from a corner of the veranda where the speaker would have had a perfect view of Gertie the bug car’s arrival, and Soph’s exodus from said car. ‘I thought you’d be
older, less colourful.’

Was it the crimson tips in her hair? They probably looked a bit metallic innsunlight, now Soph thought about it, but she’d wanted power hair for this fresh start. She squinted into the shadowed corner.

‘I’m Sophia, but most people call me Soph. I hope you will, too, Mr Barlow.’ Despite the shadows, she could make out a cast on his arm, and one foot in an ankle brace, stuck out awkwardly in front of him where he sat in an outdoor chair.

Poor fellow, but at least his injuries were temporary. ‘The position outline said clerical with a bit of housekeeping and cooking, other general duties, and assistance related to your injuries as required. I want to assure you I’m prepared for all contingencies. I’ve given quite a bit of thought to how I can best assist in your recovery.’

‘You can assist by performing the required tasks and driving me places when needed. I’m certain nothing else will be necessary.’ He rapped the words out with every appearance of annoyance and even a hint of suspicion. ‘My injuries are simple, after all.’

At this pronouncement he glared and said, ‘I’m merely dealing with a sprained ankle and a broken arm. There’s nothing at all to fuss about.’

‘That’s a very positive outlook.’ Though a bit taken aback, Soph tried to put a good spin on his grouchiness. The man may have placed his injuries last on his list of needs with the agency, but they were still needs. He might require a little coaxing to accept help with them. That
was all. ‘Even so, I have lots of great ideas—’

For a chance to win a signed copy of ‘The Boss’s Unconventional Assistant’ let’s have some fun! Name the ideas Sophia might have in that quirky, unconventional head of hers for looking after her brand new boss. No answer is too silly! Just anything you think might unnerve or
disarm a somewhat older, somewhat sensible, grumpy-about-his-injuries and not wanting to be ‘looked after’ hero who is still feeling slightly blinded by Sophia’s brightness and cheerfulness. Oh, and did I mention Grey is a control freak, and Soph is...rather intent on getting her own
way, though she is quite well aware she is not at all pushy or determined herself....

Thank you, Liz. May the rest of your ‘50th book year’ be as wonderful as what has gone before.

Love and hugs from Australia from


There's more about The Boss's Unconventional Assistant here: --

And here: --

The Boss's Unconventional Assistant

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The lovely Phillipa Ashley has chosen the winners (yes, winners!) for signed copies of her book Just Say Yes. Unable to choose between Michele L whose husband helped her dismantle a shop fitting for her 250 books and Nathalie from Canada whose mum had written her a poem, she's very generously giving each of them a copy. Congratulations to both of you and thank you all for sharing your wonderful stories.

Nathalie and Michelle, if you'll email me with your snail mail addies, I'll pass them along.

I'VE GOT A wii

Like about a gazillion people who, slumped in front of the TV telling themselves that they should be taking a walk or ... something ... I was totally captivated by the idea of the wii fit. Last week I succumbed. At least to the wii -- buying a wii fit seems a little more complex. Argos are the cheapest, but then it's easy to be cheap if you haven't got any in stock to sell! Meanwhile, I've started working out with the basic. Doing my daily fitness test.

Here's the result. I have the fitness level of an 80-year old. I'm not bad at tennis -- improving with every game. I'm not bad at golf -- I used to play and my swing is still in good shape (at least in the living room version). But I have a real problem with baseball. When I connect I hit it hard, but the whole eye, hand co-ordination thing just goes to pieces -- largely because the eyes are not that great at the best of times. Swing too early. Swing too late. Unless I can crack baseball I fear I'm doomed to be an 80-year-old wii-er for eternity.

And then there's bowling. That's a bit a hit-or-miss... Mostly miss. In an effort to improve my rating I thought I'd have a little game while the dh was doing something else. And I've strained a buttock. No, honestly. Don't laugh. It HURTS! Today I'm going to be 85...

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Linda Goodnight, who guested here a couple of weeks ago, picked up a RITA last night at the Romance Writers of America National Awards ceremony in San Francisco.

Her book, A TOUCH OF GRACE, won in the Best Inspirational Category and since we, who write Harlequin Romance, are truly glad to have her as a colleague, we are all truly thrilled for her.

You'll find a full listing of 2008 RITA and GOLDEN HEART winners, here


Another tidbit for today is the news that Mills & Boon have updated their website with some extra stuff for readers. You can now "Browse the Book" -- here's what they've done to THE TEMP & THE TYCOON!