Monday, January 31, 2011

It’s that time of year again, when Kate Walker, Anne McAllister and I let our “Grooms” take over our blogs and three of you have the chance to win their books – that’s three winners, who will get a copy of all three books.

So, books (and heroes!) first.

Anne’s book, a Harlequin Presents published in the US in February, is HIRED BY HER HUSBAND.

The hero is George Savas – and don’t we just love those Savas men!  His heroine is Sophy and I'll just bet she's giving him the toughest time!

Kate’s book, a March “Modern”/April Harlequin Presents, is THE PROUD WIFE and I have no doubt her hero, Principe Pietro D'Inzeo will have a few things to tell us about his estranged wife, Marina.

My book, a March Harlequin “Romance”, is CHOSEN AS THE SHEIKH’S WIFE, which was published a while ago in the UK as part of the Mills and Boon Centenary celebrations, and is now being released in the US as part of a two-in-one with the stellar Patricia Thayer, entitled, BECOMING THE TYCOON’S BRIDE.

To win these three books all you have to do is answer three simple questions, which you’ll find in the excerpts on our websites. And here they are -

Anne's Question: What is George's occupation and where does he live?
Kate's Question: What has Marina received from Pietro at the opening of the story?
Liz's Question: Who was Violet's great-great-grandmother

The competition runs from 1st February – 14 February and you’ll need to send an email to each of us with our answers. Emails links on our websites.

Friday, January 28, 2011


 March sees the publication in the United States of my novella, CHOSEN AS THE SHEIKH'S WIFE in a two-in-one with Patricia Thayer.  It will, of course, be available at the Harlequin website in February, in paper and as an eBook.

This book will be featured in the annual HERE COME THE GROOMS competition that Kate Walker, Anne McAllister and I run each February and Sheikh Fayad himself, will be dropping in to chat.  In the meantime, I thought I'd tell you a little about my background reading to the story.  Offer a short excerpt.

When writing CHOSEN AS THE SHEIKH’S WIFE, I read a wonderful book, Mother Without a Mask: A Westerner's Story of Her Arab Family written by, Patricia Holton, an Englishwoman who gave a home to a young sheikh while he was studying in England.

She spent much time with him and his family in Abu Dhabi and when the young man married, he sent for her to help him prepare the house he’d designed and had built for his bride, anxious that it should be quite perfect in every way. (He also had her bake the kind of rich fruit cake that is the traditional British “wedding cake”!)

Her description of wedding preparations was like something out of 1001 Arabian Nights. The dowry for the bride needed a fleet of lorries to transport it and the sets of jewels for the bride were worth a king’s ransom. Tribes gathered from all across the desert to set up camp outside the bride’s family home for the weeks of celebration.

Inside the bride’s home her family, friends, honoured guests – all women -- gathered in their finest clothes, talked, feasted, while the bride herself remained in an inner sanctum, wrapped in black veils, in utter seclusion.

But it was the excitement of the young man who was marrying a girl he hadn’t seen since childhood that was supremely touching, as was his care and concern for her after he had fought his way into the house to claim his desperately young bride. Once the marriage had been consummated, the bride was, for seven days, displayed wearing a fabulous bridal cap (pure gold and weighing many pounds), each day donning a different gown – seven wedding dresses! -- so that all the women of her tribe could see her and marvel at how much her new husband treasured her. Seeing how tired she was, her -- equally young -- husband summarily dismissed them all so that she could rest.

Alien as the concept of an arranged marriage is to modern western eyes, it was impossible to doubt that these two young people were truly a “match”.

Here, in CHOSEN AS THE SHEIKH’S WIFE, Sheikh Fayad explains something of this to Violet Hamilton.


‘First the engagement jewels are sent. Not just a ring, but a matching set of bracelets, necklace, earrings in stones chosen by the groom’s mother to perfectly complement his bride. At the same time the groom prepares a house for her, furnishing it with the best he can afford. And the dowry is gathered – gold, jewellery, bolts of every kind of cloth, carpets, money, all designed to demonstrate his ability to provide for her – ready to be delivered to the bride’s home to be displayed at the maksar. The formal gathering of women to celebrate the marriage, although the bride herself will not take part in that.’


Violet, who had been thinking it all sounded rather cold, began to see it from a different point of view. Began to imagine the trembling excitement of a secluded virgin bride as the day grew nearer. As her groom’s dowry gifts arrived proving to the world, her family, to her, just how much he valued her, wanted her above all other women.

‘There is more than one way to rouse the passions,’ she said.

‘Her weight in gold?’

Her eyes widened at the idea of just how much that would be worth, but then she shook her head. ‘No. It’s not the gold. It’s what it represents,’ she said. And Sheikh Fayad responded with a look of admiration for her understanding. A look that sent her own heart spinning up into her mouth, that suggested passion would not be in short supply for the woman who won his heart.

Drawn in, totally fascinated, she said, ‘Tell me about the wedding.’

‘When everything is ready, there will be a vast celebration. In the old days tribes would come in from desert and set up camp and the feasting would go on for weeks until finally the time comes for the groom to demand entrance to the bride’s home, fight his way through her family to claim his bride who will be waiting, wrapped in layer upon layer of veils, sitting on a white sheet.’

Even as he described the scene her heart rate was spiralling out of control and she only managed to hold back the exclamation that sprung to her lips by holding her hand over her mouth. Cold? No way…

‘Is something wrong?’ Sheikh Fayad asked.

‘No,’ she managed, resisting the urge to fan her cheeks at the thought of him removing layer after layer of veils, unwrapping her… ‘I’m fine. Really,’ she said, when he reached forward, poured her a glass of iced water that seemed to evaporate on her tongue. ‘You did this? When you married?’

He didn’t immediately answer and she back-peddled, madly. ‘Oh, lord, please forget I asked that. I can’t believe I was so rude. I didn’t mean --’

‘The bride is expected to fight, too. To bite and kick, protect her virtue with all her strength so that her husband will respect her.’

‘And do they?’

Did Hasna fight? she wondered. Could she have looked at this beautiful man and not have fallen instantly and whole-heartedly in love with him? Could any woman?

And if, because his respect would be something unbelievably precious, she fought him with ever fibre of her being, how did he overwhelm her?

Even as the question welled up in her mind, she knew the answer. She’d lashed out him this morning, angry, hurting and he’d sat with her on her grandmother’s bed, just holding her, taking the blows, whispering soft words of comfort, his lips against her hair, her temple, gentling her, calming her. In her head she saw how that scene might eventually unfold with his bride. There would be no force, but patience, a soft voice, quiet kisses, caresses that would open her to him as a flower opens to the light and warmth of the sun.

And she understood exactly what he’d meant when he’d said that he’d done “much more”. It wasn’t the fact that he’d kissed her. His kiss had been the least of it…

She swallowed, took another sip of water. And in a desperate attempt to blot out what was happening in her head she said, ‘Having showered her with jewels, fought her entire family the groom then has to overcome his bride, too? He doesn’t exactly get it easy, does he?’

Making light of it.

He smiled. ‘Interesting. I had assumed your sympathies would be with the bride.’

‘Oh, please,’ she said, quickly. ‘It doesn’t take a psychologist to work out that this is a well-thought out strategy to overcome those initial awkward moments.’ Then, ‘I imagine any bride worth her weight in gold knows exactly the right moment to go all weak and swoony.’

To surrender to his strength, his power and in doing so, claim it for her own.

Sunday, January 23, 2011



Kaelee, you're the winner of Jessica Hart's  JUGGLING BRIEFCASE AND BABY!

And Sunnymay, I'm still waiting for an email with your snail mail addy so that Kimberly can send you her prize book.

Drop me a line at liz @ lizfielding .com and I'll pass them on to Jessica and Kimberly.

Thanks everyone for making the party go with a swing and make sure you come back in February for the annual HERE COME THE GROOMS contest with Anne McAllister and Kate Walker.  Three books will go to three winners.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


STOP PRESS - Winner of Kimberly Lang's book is Sunnymay!


I hope you have been - giving into the temptation of these fabulous books, that is - whether ordering online, picking them up at your favourite store (there's a special Pop-Up store in Selfridges for those of you lucky enough to be within striking distance of Oxford Street) or, those of you who found an eReader under your tree, downloading them for instant satisfaction.

My final guest for this launch party, and one of my own favourite authors, is the wonderful
Jessica Hart, who had a huge hit with her bestselling book OH-SO-SENSIBLE SECRETARY last year which brought this praise from Wendy, the Super Librarian reviewing on The Good, The Bad and the Unread...

"I loved this story. I loved it so much I want to marry it, have babies with it, and toss all my other books out the window so I can reread again without feeling TBR Guilt. I firmly believe that category romance, done right, is one of the most joyous reading experiences a romance reader can have. That’s what I felt when I finished this story. Pure, unadulterated joy. It’s simply, breathtakingly wonderful."

Those of you who read OSSS, will remember Phin's work-obsessed older brother, Lex.  For her launch book for Riva, Jessica has brought him back, taking him way out of his comfort zone with JUGGLING BRIEFCASE AND BABY.  But I'll leave her to tell you all about it.

Welcome, Jessica -

January is all about fresh new starts: new year, new resolutions (or in my case, old ones that I never got round to keeping last year, mostly involving getting fitter, dropping two dress sizes and being more disciplined on all fronts) - and now a new imprint from Mills & Boon, too.

Thanks to Liz, you’ve already heard from Kelly, Nicola and Kim, and seen the new covers – and here’s mine, the last in the launch month. I’m not mad about the pink, I must confess, and my hero, Lex, would never wear a pink tie (he’s much too buttoned up for that) but otherwise, this cover does what it’s supposed to do: it tells you what kind of romance you’re going to get.

The RIVA covers shout contemporary stories, with contemporary settings. In the case of Juggling Briefcase & Baby, there’s a hint, too, of the story’s hooks, the elements of a story that readers either love or loathe: the shoes and the glimpse of a teddy bear tell you there’s going to be a baby, while the briefcase in the title and the tie (maybe) point to the office setting. Actually, Juggling Briefcase & Baby is also a reunion story, and it has a ‘marriage of convenience’ hook. Excessive? Moi????

When I start writing a book, I usually begin with the hooks, but in the case of Juggling Briefcase & Baby I already knew my hero. I love reading (and writing!) stories with linked characters, and Lex first appeared as Phin’s stern, workaholic brother in Oh-So-Sensible Secretary. He was supposed to have an off-stage role, but somehow he became a character, and all the time I was writing Phin and Summer’s story, I was thinking about how much Lex, too, deserved a happy ending, and wondering what had made him the kind of man he was.

Juggling Briefcase & Baby is Lex’s story at last. Lex is a man who has learnt to keep his emotions well-hidden. Only once has he let his guard down, for one passionate week with free-spirited Romy, and he has vowed never to leave himself that vulnerable again. Now Romy is back, and she’s not alone: she has a baby daughter, Freya, and between them they’re going to turn Lex’s carefully ordered world upside down ...

What makes you pick up a story? Do you love sheikhs but pass over any story that features a baby or an older heroine? Hate royals and offices romances but pick up anything with an exotic setting? What about cowboys, reunions, friends into lovers, secret babies, city girls, Christmas or, my own personal favourite, the ‘marriage of convenience’ hook?

You can read an extract of Juggling Briefcase & Baby below, and if you’d like to win a copy of the whole book, why not leave a comment telling me about your favourite hooks?

‘HELLO,’ said Lex, dropping the credit card statement he’d been studying onto the worktop. There was no mistaking the coolness in Romy’s voice, and he eyed her warily. ‘How did you get on today?’
‘Well, I spent most of it accepting commiserations about having to spend three whole days with you,’ said Romy. She moved past him to start clearing up the debris from Freya’s supper. ‘Having seen the way you barely recognised me in that meeting, they all think you ignored me the whole time. If you want word to get round that we’re a couple, you’re going to have to try harder than that!’
Lex wrenched at his tie to loosen it. ‘I thought we’d decided not to make an announcement?’
‘Yes, because we want people to guess and start gossiping. They’re never going to guess if you look through me and have trouble remembering my name! You had the perfect opportunity to hint that you think I’m special, but no! She was very helpful,’ Romy mimicked his austere tones as she scraped the last few pieces of pasta from Freya’s bowl and let the bin close with a rattle. ‘Was that really the best you could do?’
‘What did you want me to do? Throw you across the table and ravish you in front of all your colleagues?’
‘A smile would have done it.’ Romy began closing packets and putting everything away. ‘That would have been so unusual they’d all have twigged straight away that there was something going on. As it was, none of them have a clue!’
‘Well, I’m sorry,’ said Lex stiffly, ‘but it felt awkward.’
‘You can say that again. I’m now the person who can spend three days with her boss without him realising that I even exist!’
Lex rolled his shoulders uncomfortably. ‘I suppose I was thrown,’ he admitted. ‘I knew you’d be there, of course, but it was … odd … seeing you in a work context.’
A little mollified, Romy wrung out a cloth and wiped down the counter. ‘I’d say you’d have to try harder next time, but we’re not likely to have another meeting together, are we? We managed to work in the same office for six months without even seeing each other. I wonder if we should go in together for a few days? Someone is bound to notice that.’
Lex was usually at the office by seven o’clock, but the next morning found him walking into the gleaming reception area with Romy almost two hours later. Normally, he would stride straight to the lifts, with a brief nod of acknowledgement to whoever was on reception. There weren’t many other people around at that time and that was the way Lex liked it.
Now he felt extraordinarily self-conscious. Although no one actually stopped and pointed, he could tell that his arrival with Romy – and a pushchair! – had indeed been noted and would provide food for much comment and speculation by the coffee machines that morning.
‘Well,’ said Romy awkwardly. ‘I’d … er, … I’d better take Freya to the crèche.’ Burningly aware of the covert stares in her direction – why on earth had she suggested this? – she mustered a smile. ‘See you later.’
‘Do you think I should kiss you?’ Lex muttered and her heart promptly performed a back flip that threw out her breathing completely.
‘Kiss me?’
‘We’re making an exhibition of ourselves just by standing here,’ he said, still talking out of the corner of his mouth. ‘We might as well really give them all something to talk about. You were the one keen to get the message across that I know you exist. I mean, that’s what couples do, isn’t it?’ he added when she hesitated. ‘Kiss each other goodbye?’
Romy swallowed. ‘Usually just a peck on the lips.’
‘I wasn’t thinking of sweeping you into my arms!’
Her colour deepened at the sardonic note in his voice. ‘Of course not.’ She cleared her throat. ‘OK, then.’
Lex put a hand at the small of her back to draw her closer and she lifted her face. It was ridiculous. They had kissed before. This would just be a brief brush of the lips.

But still her pulse was booming so loudly that the hubbub in reception faded to nothing in comparison, and when he pressed his mouth to hers, her hand rose instinctively to clutched at his sleeve of his jacket. The polished marble floor still seemed to drop away beneath her feet, and she was still intensely aware of the firmness and warmth of his lips, of the steely strength of his arm.
And when Lex lifted his head, she still felt hot and dizzy.
Lex’s expression was impenetrable as he let her go. ‘See you tonight,’ he said coolly and walked off to the lifts, leaving Romy to make her way to the crèche with burning cheeks.


Fabulous, Jessica.  I can't wait to read it.  So, have you actually seen one of the new covers?  They have an interesting new gloss/matt finish as I discovered when my copies arrived this week (after a long wait due to the snow!).  You'll find them all on the Mills & Boon website where you'll also find a longer excerpt from JB&BC by clicking on the "browse" link below.  Don't forget to come back and tell Jessica what you think for your chance to win a copy of her book.  (And don't forget to come back and check if you've won!)

From the book: Juggling Briefcase & Baby
By: Jessica Hart
Imprint and series: Harlequin Romance™
Copyright © 2010
By: Jessica Hart
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to: http://www.eHarlequin.c

Friday, January 14, 2011


STOP PRESS:  Winner of Deserted Island, Dreamy Ex is Virginia C

Girls' Guide to Flirting with Danger 

Welcome to part three of the great RIVA launch party.  There's been a lot going on.  Mills and Boon having been celebrating the launch on their website.  There's a "pop-up" shop in Selfridges in Oxford Street with author workshops - so if you're lucky enough to be in London, do drop in to have a look.

My guest this week is the exciting Kimberly Lang who hid romance novels behind her textbooks in junior high, and even a master’s program in English couldn’t break the obsession with dashing heroes and Happily Ever After and she's a founding member of a blog for aspiring romance writers,  The Writing Playground

Welcome, Kimberly - tell us about your book.

Thanks, Liz, for having me here today! I’m such a fan of your books that it’s a real treat to be on your blog. Like all the Riva authors, I’m so excited about this new line. I’m very honored that my Girls’ Guide to Flirting With Danger was chosen as one of the launch titles.

Megan and Devin’s book is a reunion story, which is one of my all-time favorite romance hooks. I love the built-in tension and conflict of bringing old lovers back together. In this case, I had a lot of fun, as Megan is a marriage counselor and the ex-wife of America’s most famous divorce attorney. Her life and career are turned upside down, and Devin’s fame is the cause. They’re both strong characters, and the sparks – angry and otherwise – fly when they find themselves back together.

Here’s the blurb:

Rule #1 — Don't even flirt with your ex — let alone sleep with him!
Life is good for marriage counselor Megan Lowe—until the media discover that she’s the ex–wife of Devin Kenney, America's most famous divorce attorney! Now the paparazzi are digging for a scoop just in time for the launch of Devin's new book. His gorgeous smile smirks at Megan from magazines and billboards — making him infuriatingly impossible to forget…
It's time for Megan to throw her very bossy rulebook out of the window and face her dangerously sexy ex. And their sizzlingly hot reunion — well, that's most definitely headline news…

And an excerpt to give you a little taste of their reunion:

“How could you, Dev?”

“How could I what? You’ll need to be more specific.”

Megan pulled a copy of his book out of her bag and tossed it at him. “This.”

He caught it reflexively and looked at her. When she didn’t elaborate, he prodded her. “Should I make it out to you, or is it a gift for a friend?”

“Neither.” She snorted. “I’ve got your autograph already. On my divorce papers.”

“Then what?” She didn’t answer, but he could see the muscle in her jaw working. “Need some legal advice?”

She tilted her head, and the end of her ponytail fell to rest on the heaving swell of her breast above the neckline of her shirt. A faint flush colored the skin there, barely noticeable in the dimness of the stockroom. “Actually, I could use some legal advice. What’s the difference between slander and libel?”

He pulled his attention from her cleavage. “What?”

“How about Defamation of Character? Can I sue you for that?”

Meggie rarely made sense when she got good and mad, but this seemed to be extreme, even for her. 

“Why don’t you calm down and tell me—”

“Don’t you dare patronize me, Devin Kenney. Your radio show was bad enough, but this book--”
Old habits warred with each other. Placate or fight back? “I don’t think—”

“And therein lies the problem. Did you never once think that people might be interested in the ex-wife of America’s most popular divorce attorney?” Megan began to pace, her hands moving agitatedly as she spoke. “That people might think that some of the things you mention on the radio or the stories in this book are based on your personal experience? Or that they might come looking for me wanting dirt or backstory or something?”

Ah, unwanted notoriety. “You’re all spun up because some tabloid wants you to dish the dirt on me?”
She crossed her arms across her chest again as she stared at him, eyes snapping. “Not just some tabloid. All the tabloids. All the cable news channels. Half a dozen talk shows and every damn blogger in the universe. Do you not keep up with your own press? Haven’t you seen my name next to yours recently?”

He didn’t keep up with his own press; he didn’t have time. That’s why he had Manny. And they’d be having a conversation about that later on. After he finished with Megan.

Her anger made a bit more sense now. Megan was so shy, the media hounds would be too much for her to deal with without major stress. Feeling a twinge of guilt Megan had been pulled into this media circus at all, he reached for her arm out of habit, simply to calm her. When she stepped back, he remembered he didn’t have the right to touch her anymore. He leaned back against a stack of boxes instead. “The fact we were married once is public record. I can’t change that.” She took a deep breath, and he held up a hand, trying to be diplomatic. “But I am sorry you’re being bothered by the press. It’ll blow over soon.” Something about that phrase made her nostrils flare and the color in her cheeks deepen. “Feel free to milk this any way you want, though.”

“I don’t want to milk this. I want it to go away. My career may never recover as it is, but if this continues…”

He tried to follow the change in topic. “Your career?”

“I realize it was never high on your radar, but surely you remember I wanted one of those, too.”

Oh, he remembered, all right. She’d moved to Albany and filed for divorce in pursuit of her precious career. The bitter taste of that memory settled on his tongue and made his next words sharper than intended. “I don’t see how a little fame could have any detrimental effect on your career.”

“I’m a therapist.” He shrugged in question and Megan’s jaw clenched again. “Primarily a marriage therapist,” she managed to grit out.

He felt his eyebrows go up, and a small chuckle escaped before he could stop it.

Megan rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes, yes, I’m aware of the irony. As are all the people contacting me about you. But I’m damn good at what I do. And I was building a nice client list and decent reputation. Until now.”


“Let’s see. The press won’t leave me alone. They call my office and my house at all hours. My email overflows, and one even tried to pose as a new client. I could handle that, but now my clients are being harassed by press, which is a horrible invasion of their privacy, not to mention embarrassing for them and the clinic I work for. The speculation in the tabloids about our marriage makes me look like some kind of psychotic harpy, which tends to make people think twice about listening to my advice.” She was pacing again, working that head of steam back up. “Oh, and there’s the little issue of being placed on extended leave because all of this interferes with the entire clinic’s ability to do business. So, thank you, Devin, for screwing up my life. Again.”

This story was so much fun to write, and I hope y’all find it as much fun to read.

So, tell me about your last run-in with one of your exes… My October Presents , Boardroom Rivals, Bedroom Fireworks!, is also a reunion story, and I’ll send a copy to one of today’s commenters.


Thanks so much, Kimberly.  I love a reunion story, too and I've got your book on my tbr pile (a lure to finish the wip!) and can't wait.   And I'm hoping for great comments - don't forget to come back to check if you've won!

In the meantime, if you'd like to read a longer excerpt from Kimberly's book, click the browse the book button below and you'll get the entire first chapter.  And for those of you in the US, The Girl's Guide to Flirting With Danger (I have such title envy!) is published in the Presents Extra livery and is available in both paper and eBook formats.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Stop press:  Winner of "With This Fling" is Michelle L.


Yes, it's part two of the RIVA launch blog party and today I'm featuring Nicola Marsh's new release, DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX.   

USA Today Bestselling author, Nicola has written for both "Romance" and "Modern Heat" so her fun, flirty voice is a natural fit for this new series.  And of course she's used all those things we love, a reality TV show (who  isn't going to be watching Dancing on Ice this weekend!) and social networking, to bring her story to life.  Here's the blurb -

Kristi’s "Stranded" Diary:

Day 1 Being shipwrecked on an idyllic deserted island for reality TV show Stranded sounded blissful. Until I discovered my Man Friday for the week was Jared Malone (aka he-who-broke-my heart!). I mean, of course I’ll be fine. I don’t feel anything for him any more. Female viewers might swoon over Jared’s tanned gorgeousness, but I know he’s just an arrogant, over-muscled heartbreaker! The cameras are rolling, so I’m off to the beach to face Jared. I just hope I look OK in this bikini!

And here's Nicola to tell you how this book came about...

I admit it.

I’m a social networking addict and proud of it.

The original anti-blogger, I now blog daily.

Then I got sucked into MySpace. Facebook soon followed. Then along came Twitter and I’m well and truly addicted.

For those of you who know me, it’ll come as no surprise that I love to talk.

Writing is a solitary occupation so when I get the chance to chat, I grab it!

And social networking brings a new dimension to the chatterbox, allowing me to meet new people and gab away to my heart’s content.

The best bit? It can even be classed as research!

Yes, that’s right, my addiction to Twitter was used as the grounding for my RIVA launch book, DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX.

Take one hot Aussie tennis pro (inspired by THE Nathan Fillion!), a sassy ex, plonk them on an island in a reality TV-style shoot out where they must blog and tweet their way to winning and there you have it, a book thoroughly ‘researched’!

Here’s a little taste:

“Done with the caveman routine?”

The organ he refused to acknowledge lurched as he glanced up, saw Kristi on her side, propped on an elbow, wearing that sinful green bikini and a reluctant smile.

She’d been frosty towards him over dinner, with more of the same since they’d arrived on the island, but under his constant barrage of teasing she was finally starting to thaw.

Not that he blamed her. From her angry outburst when he’d picked her up the other night, she hadn’t forgiven him for choosing his tennis career over her all those years ago.

But he’d had no choice. Not that he’d go delving into his reasons why now.
For their time on the island he wanted to recapture some of their old magic, wanted to make her laugh and fire back those scathing one liners like she used to, wanted to see her eyes sparkle just for him, for old time’s sake.

Hands on hips, he wrenched his straying gaze away from the tempting expanses of flesh on display. “Weren’t you the one who wanted to toast marshmallows tonight?”

“Did I say that?”

She pressed a hand to her chest and his gaze followed, shooting down his intentions to keep his distance.

“Do you even have any?”

She chuckled, lowered her sunglasses to stare at him over the top. “Maybe you should’ve asked that before planning to build a bonfire that can be seen in New Zealand.”

Adding another branch onto the growing pile, he feigned indifference.

“I’m surprised you could fit any marshmallows in your case, what with that mobile shoe shop you carry around.”

Her eyes narrowed, the corners of her mouth twitching. “Are you dissing my shoes?”

“Merely making an observation.”

With a little huff that was so adorable he wanted to kiss her senseless, she pouted.

“I’ll have you know it takes effort to look this good.”

His gaze raked her from top to toe, lingering on her curves, the hollow of her hip, the dip of her collarbone, remembering how he’d traced every inch of her once, how he couldn’t get enough.

Logically, he knew it would be foolish to resurrect the past, not when nothing fundamental had changed. Kristi was a relationship type of girl. He was a guy who had no intention of getting emotionally involved with anyone.

Physically, his body was on memory overload, sifting through every incredible, erotic encounter the two of them had ever had.

“You’re not looking at my shoes.”

Dragging his gaze to meet hers, he raised an eyebrow. “You’re not wearing any.”

She scooped up a spangly flip-flop, dangling it from a finger.

“What’s this?”

“Suitcase filler?”

“Heathen,” she muttered, sliding her sunglasses back into place and rolling onto her back. “Get back to your wood gathering. It’s what you Neanderthals are good at.”

“Sticks and stones,” he said, much more at ease with this banter than last night’s emotion charged discussion.

Pointing at the diminutive wood pile, she smirked. “More sticks. Less stones.”

I’m so thrilled with the new RIVA series and to be a part of the launch. Thanks for having me, Liz, and happy reading everyone!

Thanks for that, Nicola. I can't wait to dive into this one!    

And now, for a chance to win a copy of DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX, why don't you tell us who you'd most like to share a desert island with on Nicola's reality TV show "Stranded"?  You cannot choose your other half - we'll take it for granted he'd be your choice in real life.  This is fantasy land and we want your darkest fantasies. And don't forget to check back to find out if you've won!

Meanwhile if you want to read more, click on the browse link below to read the first chapter.

For US fans, DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX was published in the  "Harlequin Romance" livery back in September, but is still available as a download.

Thursday, January 06, 2011



New year, new series.  January sees the launch in the UK of RIVA, a brand new look for romance fiction with a line up of great authors of the "Modern Heat" and "Romance"  and as you'd expect from them the result is... 

"Sparky, sassy stories of life and love ... from first flicker to burning flame. Delightfully tempting, these books are must haves for passionistas everywhere."

My debut book for the series, "Tempted By Trouble" - the one formally known as "Scoop!" - won't be published until June, but in the next couple of weeks I'll be introducing you to the four launch authors and giving them a chance to tell you about their books.  And for you to win a copy of each of their books for yourself.

First up is Kelly Hunter, whose book WITH THIS FLING I'm reading at the moment and I'm suffering author envy over her heroine, Charlotte and as for Grey, well, you're going to have the read the book yourself to check out his appeal.  Here's the back blurb...

"With this fling… Successful archaeologist Charlotte Greenstone has no time for men, so invents a convenient one – who bears a highly inconvenient resemblance to sexy stranger Greyson Tyler! To protect her mortifying white lie, Charlotte begs Grey to act as her temporary fiancé… I thee bed? One glimpse of Charlotte’s killer curves, and Grey can’t resist making his own outrageous proposition – he’ll pretend to be her fiancé…if they can enjoy all the benefits of being a couple! Smoking hot Grey is definitely fling material, but Charlotte knows that’s all it ever can be… Can’t it?"

And here's Kelly herself, on the subject of inspiration.

The spear made me do it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Inspiration for writing With This Fling... started with a ceremonial spear from Papua New Guinea and a burning desire to write a back-from-the-dead hero. Not a tortured back-from-the-dead hero, mind. A confident, hungry, sexy adventurous one - as per Riva hero guidelines.

As for the spear, it lived in the farm shed - a relic from a long ago trip my husband had made up PNG's Sepik river. The spear (and the dogs) went everywhere with me for days. The dogs favoured the tennis ball and the neighbours probably favoured a straightjacket but I had found my muse and the beginnings of an idea.

What if my erstwhile heroine had invented a fake fiance and then killed him off when he was no longer needed?

What if he - or someone very like him - then turned up in her neighbourhood and everyone thought he was her back-from-the-dead fiance? Nothing tortured about that. Plenty of room for a light touch - especially if our girl's fictional fiance had been a paragon of manly perfection and our fake back-from-the-dead hero clearly... wasn't.

If you're still reading this - which probably means you don't mind a bit of batty on the side - here's a taste of the kind of conversation you can expect if you tell a basketful of lies about a fake dead fiance. Charlotte is our reality challenged heroine. Gil is her dead fictional fiance. Millie is a friend from work. Derek is Millie's friend.

‘The crispy pork sounds good, said Derek, and Millie glared meaningfully at him.

'The crispy pork does not sound good,’ said Millie. ‘Have the beef. Or the duck. No mistaking duck for anything but duck.’ Millie’s face disappeared behind her menu. ‘Remember what I told you about the long pig incident,’ she muttered to Derek as quietly as she could, which wasn’t nearly quietly enough.

Derek slid Charlotte a lightning glance and promptly disappeared behind his menu too. ‘Where’s the duck?’ he said.

‘Halfway down the specials list,’ murmured Millie. ‘Have it braised.’

‘Why not barbecued?’ Derek whispered back. ‘You’re just assuming he was barbecued. They could have braised him. They could have boiled him.’

 ‘You’re right,’ muttered Millie. ‘Order the vegetable combo.’

At which point Charlotte reached across the table and pulled Millie’s menu down past eye level. ‘Psst.’

 ‘What?’ Millie eyed her warily.

‘Millie, let the poor man eat pork. I don’t care if he wants it crucified, I promise I won’t see it as a metaphor for him eating Gil.’

Derek’s menu dipped slowly. Derek’s eyes appeared, followed by a nose, very nice cheekbones, and a wide wry smile.

‘I knew she was saner than you,’ Derek told Millie and barely winced when Millie’s menu clipped his shoulder. They were very broad shoulders. Millie might just have to keep this one.

‘So what was he like?’ asked Derek. ‘Your fiancé.’

‘He’s hard to define, but if I had to sum him up I’d probably go with useful,’ said Charlotte. Nothing but the truth.

‘Useful as in “Honey could you fix the hot water system?”’ asked Millie.

‘I’m sure he could have fixed the hot water system,’ said Charlotte. ‘Had it needed fixing.’

‘Can’t every one?’ countered Derek.

 ‘Sadly, no,’ said Charlotte.

‘I daresay Gil was modest too,’ said Millie, glancing pointedly at Derek.

‘What?’ said Derek. ‘I can be modest.’

‘Of course you can,’ murmured Charlotte, eyeing Derek’s frayed shirt collar and shaggy hair speculatively. ‘Gil was a snappy dresser too, in a rustic, ready for anything kind of way.’

‘Window dressing,’ said Derek. ‘It’s the body beneath the clothes that counts and don’t either of you try and tell me different.’

‘Wouldn’t dream of it,’ said Charlotte. ‘But just for your information, that was superb too.’

‘Well, it would be,’ said Millie. ‘What with all that paddling up the river. I bet the man had fabulous upper body definition.’

‘I was a lumberjack once,’ said Derek.

‘Of course you were,’ murmured Millie consolingly.

A youthful waitress stepped up to their table, smile at the ready as she asked them if they were ready to order.

‘I’ll have the pork,’ said Derek. ‘But could I have it beaten first?’

‘Chef runs it through a tenderiser,’ said the waitress. ‘You know – one of those old fashioned washing machine wringer things with the spikes?’

‘Perfect,’ said Derek.

‘Unlike some things around here,’ murmured Millie.

‘No man is perfect,’ said Derek. ‘Especially in the eyes of women. A determined woman can turn even a man’s good qualities into major flaws of character given time and motive, and half the time the motive is optional. It’s just something you do.’

‘There’s got to be an ex wife in your past somewhere,’ murmured Charlotte. ‘C’mon, Derek. Spill.’


‘Maybe an overcritical mother,’ said Millie.

‘I’m an orphan,’ said Derek. ‘Never knew my parents. Never got adopted. Ugliest baby in the world, according to Sister Ramona.’

‘That explains a lot,’ murmured Millie. ‘Though it doesn’t explain how you got to be quite so handsome now. In a craggy, hard-living kind of way.’

‘Thank you,’ said Derek blandly.

‘You’re welcome.’

They finished ordering their meals. They started in on their drinks.

‘Here’s to the wonderful Aurora Herschoval,’ said Charlotte. ‘The best godmother an orphan could have.’

‘Hear hear,’ said Derek. ‘Good for you. And here’s to Useful Gil. May he be blessed with more brains in his next life.’

‘Derek!’ said Millie, aghast. ‘We can’t toast to that.’

‘Why not?’ said Derek, aiming for an expression of craggy, hard-lived innocence. ‘Sweetie, he may have been handy, handsome, modest, and built like Apollo but let’s be honest here… the man got eaten.’

To read the whole of the first chapter, you can click on the "browse this book" link below.  And for a chance to win a copy, why don't you tell us about something weird in your own garden shed or attic that you think might inspire a romance writer with Kelly's vivid imagination!  (Don't forget to come back and check if you've won - or subscribe to my blog by email - the link is at the top of the sidebar- so you won't miss Jessica Hart, Nicola Marsh and Kimberley Lang, who'll be my guests in the next couple of weeks.)

It is, of course, also available as an eBook.   And US readers will find it published in the Presents Extra series.

And as a final treat, you'll find one of Kelly's RIVA titles free to download here at the Mills and Boon website.