Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share juicy snippets from upcoming and past releases, and works-in-progress.

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that Jim and I recently had some fun tooling around the outback (you can find more info and lots of photos on the blog post This Writing Life: An Outback Queensland Adventure).

One of the things I noticed about Queensland’s western downs was how many windmills there were, and how important they still are in maintaining water supplies to stock and rural properties. There are reasons for that – they’re reliable, efficient, relatively cheap and low maintenance. The big 35-foot Comet windmill at Hughenden, which is now a tourist attraction but was originally at Wirilla Station, could pump a million litres of water a day and supplied water for stock via bore drains that stretched up to 45 kilometres long. They’re pretty impressive figures.

Every windmill reminded me of Danny from Santa and the Saddler, and how much he’d love seeing them, especially the monster sized ones. For those of you who haven’t read this story, Danny is a metal fabricator and windmill engineer, and he’s passionate and proud of what he produces. And it’s kinda sexy. Well, I think it is. But it’s nice when you come across someone who’s enthusiastic about what they do and believe in it.

Anyway, here’s a little taste of Danny and Beth from Santa and the Saddler. Make sure you read to the end because there could be a GIVEAWAY!

 

‘So this is your grandfather’s saddlery,’ he said.

‘Yes. And Grandma’s. They own it jointly.’

‘But you’re English?’

‘Actually, I was born in Australia. In Adelaide, but my dad’s a Brit so I’m both.’

Danny blinked. ‘Your accent’s from your dad?’

She looked up, laughing softly. ‘No. We moved to England when I was five. I did all my schooling there, and my apprenticeship. I only moved back to Australia sixteen months ago, when Mum decided to come back. What about you? I’m betting a born and bred Levenham local. In fact, I bet you can trace your ancestors back to settlement. Am I right?’

Cover of Santa and the Saddler by Cathryn Hein‘Not quite settlement but the Burroughs have been here a while. I went to St Joseph’s Primary and then on to Levenham High, same as Mum and Dad and my grandparents.’

‘After that?’

‘Like you I got an apprenticeship. Metal fabrication.’ He shrugged. ‘Been in the same job since. The boss is decent bloke, the money isn’t too bad, and I like what I do.’

‘And what’s that? What you do, I mean.’

‘I build windmills. You know, that pump water. Other stuff too, but mainly that.’

She set down her awl and flexed her hands as she regarded him with interest. ‘Do farmers still use those?’

The question didn’t surprise Danny. A lot of people were sceptical when they heard about Levenham Windmills.

‘Yep, and with good reason. Windmills are cheap and last forever — well, not forever, but a long time. Plus they pump day and night whenever there’s wind, and with a well-engineered mill it doesn’t take much of that for it to work. There are no power bills, bugger-all maintenance — with ours at least, can’t speak for our dodgy opposition — and you can install them most places. Hard for stock to damage them too.’

‘You sound proud.’

He liked the smile in her voice, the approval, and his chest swelled with it. ‘I suppose I am.’

 

Sigh. I so love Danny as a hero. I’m currently writing the next Levenham Love Story which features Danny’s brother Nick and having a brilliant time. When a Burroughs boy falls in love, he goes all in and will do anything to take care of his girl, even if he ends up looking like a twit to do so.

But enough of that. I’ll be sharing more about that next story – Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy – when it’s done, which will hopefully be soon.

In the meantime, you can buy Santa and the Saddler from your favourite ebook or print retailer. Try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Nook, Bookdepository, Booktopia or Angus & Robertson Bookworld.

Now, as mentioned in the intro, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

This one’s easy-peasy too. Simply share your dream job and you’ll go into a random draw to win a print copy of Santa and the Saddler.

I’m opening this internationally too. So wherever you are in the world, you could win.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 28th April 2017. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Santa and the Saddler, including the story behind the book, reviews and more, please visit its book page on this website.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to another tasty edition of Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from novels, past, present and in progress, and let writing buddies play along too.

This week I’m thrilled to introduce debut author Amanda Knight to you. I met Amanda several years ago at a Romance Writers of Australia conference and have had my fingers crossed tightly ever since that she’d score a publishing contract. And now she has and I couldn’t be more excited for her.

Situation Critical is a romantic suspense with a military/small town theme and hit bookshelves last week. It sounds an absolute beauty, but I’m a sucker for a military man, probably because I’ve been with one for over 25 years. Even better, Situation Critical features a dog hero and being a dedicated dog person this makes me VERY happy!

But enough from me, here’s Amanda to tell you more. But make sure you read all the way through cos you never know, there could be a sneaky GIVEAWAY in there somewhere.

 

Amanda Knight authorThe seed for the idea of Situation Critical came when I stumbled across an article about Sarbi, an Australian special forces explosives detection dog that spent almost 14 months missing in action in Afghanistan – she is my inspiration for Finnegan, Situation Critical’s canine hero!

My research for this book showed me a kaleidoscope of experiences borne by our service men and women, both by those at the frontline and those in support roles. The stories were often heart-breaking, but at the same time, showed how our capacity for hope, and the offer of even the smallest acts of kindness, generosity and compassion, can lighten even the darkest moments… all of which I hope you feel when you’re absorbed within the pages of Situation Critical! As Nate and Beth search for Finnegan, and their relationship develops, against all odds, so does the threat to their lives…  I do hope you love their story as much as I enjoyed crafting it!

 

She assessed the flinch site again, pressing gently around the area she’d scratched. Her fingers felt like warm rays of sun sliding over his skin, her breath on his neck soft, sexy. Christ. He somehow stayed mute and resisted shoving her hand off his arm.

Situation Critical by Amanda KnightAfter what seemed like two lifetimes, she looked convinced his arm wasn’t about to drop off, and stood, faced him. ‘Okay. Well, let me know if it gets worse, or the sensitivity flares again,’ she said, searching his face, rolling down his sleeve.

‘Thanks, but you’re done here.’ He snatched his arm from her hand and shoved the remaining shirt fabric down to his wrist. ‘I mean, I’m done. Listen, Doc, I like my space, and you’re in it. Can you just move over there a bit?’ He pointed to the furthest corner from him.

He’d just been a total arse, but it had to be done, for both their sakes. Truth of the matter was, when any part of her came into contact with any part of him, he felt like he’d been hammered with an electric rod. And if the heat in her face while she inspected his arm was anything to go by, she felt it too. Not good. Not good at all.

Her expression changed from concern to caustic in a heartbeat.

She stayed exactly where she was and sucked in a chest full of breath. The intensity in her glare enough to shatter a frigging missile.

‘Unfortunately for you, Sergeant, your space is what I’m responsible for, so no, I can’t move. You’ll have to get used to me being here.’ She waved her arms around them in a circle. ‘Just think of me as your new damn shadow.’ She snapped the lid back on the syringe before taking a step closer to him. ‘Is that going to be a problem for you?’

Well shit, she was definitely more hard-arse than honey. He could tick that question off the list.

 

Oooh, sexy! And just the thing to curl up with this coming weekend, or tonight, or any time, really!

You can purchase Situation Critical right now from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Nook or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now, as we hinted at in the introduction, there’s a…

GIVEAWAY!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to share with us your favourite solider, whether that be real life, in a book, movie whatever. We want to know your military man (or woman or even canine!) loves.

Soldier On awareness packAll comments will go into a draw to win a Soldier On awareness gift pack.

Naturally I’m going to choose my Jim! But Amanda and I would love to hear yours.

For those who don’t know, Soldier On is an Australian charity that supports Australia’s veterans and families by providing vital support services to help them overcome any impacts from their service. It’s an important charity that does excellent work in a much-needed area. To find out more, please check out the Soldier On website or visit their Facebook page.

Amanda will also be donating to Soldier On as part of her Situation Critical release promotions. Check out her Facebook page for details and see how you can help spread the word and raise money for this important charity.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 21st April 2017. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Amanda and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

 

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This Writing Life: An Outback Queensland Adventure

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Welcome to this delayed edition of This Writing Life: A. Outback Queensland Adventure. I’ve been trying to organise this post for a while but the first round of edits for THE COUNTRY GIRL landed while I was away and that meant it was straight down to business on my arrival home, with no time to spare for travelogues. Or house cleaning for that matter, but any excuse to get out of that.

Anyway, better late than never!

For those of you who missed my adventures on social media, in mid March Jim and I had to fly up to Townsville for some appointments. Because Murphy’s Law dictated that nothing matched up (actually, it was probably more our disorganisation that caused this but Murphy is so much easier to blame), we ended up with a few days to spare. This also coincided with my globe-trotting parents-in-law leaving their four-wheel-drive parked in Townsville.

Four-wheel-drive…

Queensland outback practically on the doorstep…

At a loose end…

Never look a gift horse and all that I say. So we pinched the car and hit the road.

If you ever get the chance to go driving around outback Queensland, I highly recommend you take it. As you’ll see from the following photos, we had a BALL!

To put things in perspective, this map shows where we headed to: Townsville, through Charters Towers and then out to WInton and surrounds.

Outback Queensland Map

From Townsville we headed out past Charters Towers and then down to Winton, approximately 600kms.

The drive out was fun. The humour in outback Australia can be as dry as the landscape, as demonstrated by this laugh outside of Charters Towers.

Grounded! The writing on the boat reads: Lake Wanted, Boat Grumpy. Cracks me up.

Grounded! The writing on the boat reads: Lake Wanted, Boat Grumpy. I’ve seen this a few times now and it never fails to crack me up.

There’s a tiny little town called Corfield, population 10, on the Winton to Hughenden road, which has nothing much more than a pub come shop, a couple of other buildings, and a bit of a camping ground. But each year they hold the “real” Corfield Cup, a play on Melbourne’s famous Caulfield Cup horse race, and the population swells to more than 1000.

Sounds right up my alley. One for the bucket list!

Corfield, Queensland. Home of the "real" Corfield Cup. I'd love to go to this event. One for the bucket list.

Corfield, Queensland. Home of the “real” Corfield Cup.

There’s a lot of flat country out there…

Heading to Winton. It's flat and a bit empty.

The seemingly endless mitchell grass downs that dominate the road to Winton.

Another tiny town was Prairie, population 50, and once a main horse change for Cobb and Co. coaches. The pub is a blast and a must-stop.

The Prairie Hotel, complete with horse on the roof.

The Prairie Hotel, complete with horse on the roof, saddlery draping the front rails and very friendly locals.

Inside the Prairie Hotel. A treasure trove!

Inside the Prairie Hotel. A treasure trove! There was even an old barber’s chair.

Deciding to make Winton our base and travel outwards from there, we booked a room at the North Gregory Hotel. First opening it doors in 1879, the hotel has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. This is the 4th North Gregory Hotel which opened in 1955 (and was owned by the local council!) and it’s a fantastic building.

There’s so much history in this hotel alone. It was the location of the first public performance of iconic song Waltzing Matilda in 1895. Lyndon Johnson, who would go on to become the 36th President of the United States, stayed here as a Navy Lt Commander after his plane crash landed at Carisbrooke Station in 1942. It was also where locals held secret meetings as they formed the airline Qantas.

North Gregory Hotel

Such a great looking hotel, and a gorgeous morning for adventuring.

This made me smile each time I passed. Near the location of the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda.

This made me smile each time I passed. Near the location of the first public performance of Waltzing Matilda.

Artist Daphne Mayo (1895-1982) created these etched glass panels for the dining room at the North Gregory Hotel. These are a tribute to Waltzing Matilda. Another set was to Qantas.

Artist Daphne Mayo (1895-1982) created these etched glass panels for the dining room at the North Gregory Hotel. These are a tribute to Waltzing Matilda. Another set was to Qantas.

This cute little fellow was in the beer garden of the North Gregory Hotel.

This cute little fellow was in the beer garden of the North Gregory Hotel.

We were up the next morning early for a stroll around town. First stop was Arno’s Wall, a work of art and architecture by local identity and opal miner Arno Grotjahn. It has all sorts of things embedded in it, including a kitchen sink.

Sunrise hitting some motorbikes embedded in Arno's Wall.

Sunrise hitting some motorbikes embedded in Arno’s Wall.

It was so quiet in Winton that morning, there were brolgas wandering the street.

Brolgas in Winton

Brolgas in Winton

Winton town centre features lovely whimsical artwork, wonderful sculptures and commemorative statues. They even have cool dinosaur themed bin covers. Such a nice place to wander around, full of humour and history.

Cute sculpture in Winton main street.

One of the cute pieces of art in Winton’s main street.

dinosaur foot wheelie bin covers.

Love these dinosaur foot wheelie bin covers.

Banjo Paterson sculpture

Banjo Parterson and Waltzing Matilda commemorative statue.

Winton Wagon

This horse drawn wagon carried the last load of wool to the Winton rail head in 1936. The wagon could carry a load of 9 tonnes when yoked with 19 horses.

Corfield and Fitzmaurice building

The historic Corfield and Fitzmaurice building in Winton’s main street. There’s a museum inside and a shop selling local hand-made crafts. I bought a gorgeous bracelet from there.

Swagman statue

This lovely statue is a tribute to Banjo Paterson and to the many swagmen who lie in unmarked graves throughout the country.

There’s nothing so dry as outback Aussie humour and the Tattersalls Hotel outdid itself with these quotes they’d hung on the outside walls.

Tattersalls Hotel

Tattersalls Hotel

From Winton we took a drive 110kms south to Lark Quarry and the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, which was seriously cool. There’s something about seeing 95 million-year-old dinosaur tracks that brings out the excited kid in me.

I love how science has determined that, all that time ago, hundreds of small dinosaurs were wandering near the edge of a lake when a large, meat-eating theropod attacked. Blocked by the lake, the little dinosaurs had nowhere to go, and in a mad panic were forced to run like crazy past the predator to safety. Even more exciting, the event was preserved in the mud and then turned to stone for us to see today.

Though occasionally rough, the drive to Lark Quarry was enjoyable too. Fantastic landscape and just look at that sky!

Emergency airstrip

This section of road in the middle of nowhere is designated no stopping so emergency aircraft like the Flying Doctor can land.

Arriving at Lark Quarry

Arriving at Lark Quarry

The scenery around Lark Quarry was stunning.

The scenery around Lark Quarry was stunning. The colours are incredible. So vivid they almost look created instead of natural.

Below you can see some of the footprints, preserved under cover (a necessity, not just to protect them from the elements but from people who have damaged and/or tried to nick them over the years). The largest of the theropod prints is 64cm, which extrapolates into a predator approximately 2.5 metres tall at the hips. The other dinosaurs ranged from chicken sized to half the size of an emu. Just enough for a nice snack.

inosaur footprints

Dinosaur footprints! And the only known preserved dinosaur stampede in the world. Fantastic.

From Lark Quarry I made Jim take a detour to Old Cork Station. The road deteriorated so badly we thought we’d taken a wrong turn, it wasn’t on the GPS and don’t even think about internet access. Earlier there’d been another track heading off in a different direction, so we u-turned back to try that, only for it to dead end at a gypsum quarry. So around we went again… with much swearing and muttering from the driver about people who get excited and soppy about things that are nothing but lines in a forgotten song. But we found it in the end and I ticked Old Cork Station off my bucket list. Jim, however, was completely underwhelmed and still hasn’t let me forget it.

For those of you who have never heard of Old Cork Station, take a listen to Australian folk band Redgum’s “Diamantina Drover“.

I defy you not to feel romantic about it!

Old Cork Station

The sandstone ruins of Old Cork Station near the Diamantina River, one of the shire’s original properties. Old Cork was first settled in the 1860s and the homestead built in 1880-85.

After Old Cork (yes, there’s still a Cork Station, if you’re wondering – we drove past the ‘new’ homestead on the way) we journeyed back to Winton, where Jim got chatting to a local who’d called into the tourist office for a natter. Apparently the local had been up to Combo Waterhole the day before and it was running, something he’d never seen before.

Naturally, being his father’s son, Jim decided to take a drive cos, you know, we clearly hadn’t done enough already that day. *rolls eyes*

Combo Waterhole is iconic in Australian bush culture. It lies 132km north-west of Winton off the Landsborough Highway and is believed to be the setting of, or at least the inspiration for, AB (Banjo) Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda which he wrote while visiting Dagworth Station (which Combo Waterhole was once a part of) in 1895.

You know how it goes…

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
“Who’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?”

Combo is, so the story goes, the billabong in question. It’s also of importance to Jim’s family because across the other side of the waterhole is a Cobb and Co staging post where Jim’s great grandfather worked and where his great-uncle Les was born.

Sign indicating the turn-off to Combo Waterhole

Sign indicating the turn-off to Combo Waterhole. The waterhole is on the horizon somewhere.

Combo Waterhole

Standing at Combo Waterhole, which is actually a series of waterholes. As you can see it was flowing quite quickly so we didn’t try to cross to visit the Cobb and Co post.

The local also told us that if we could catch sunset at the 4-mile windmill (four miles from Winton, funnily enough) it’d make for some spectacular photos. We did and they were!

Windmill sunset

The peace of watching this sunset was quite incredible.

The following day we headed 24 kms out of Winton to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, which was also excellent. The museum holds the world’s largest collection of unique Australian dinosaur fossils.

Age of dinosaurs - Banjo statue

Perfectly normal thing to do, stick your head in a dinsosaur’s mouth. This is “Banjo”.

Age of dinosaurs lab.

Volunteers working to clean a dinosaur bone in the lab.

Age of dinosaurs

Love what’s written on the outside of this preserved pack of bones: “One BIG Dinosaur!!!”

Close to Winton is the Bladensburg National Park, which was once Bladensburg Station but was designated a National Park in 1994. There’s a half day drive you can do around it called the Route of the River Gum. We had a four-wheel-drive so we did it, and had a great time.

Bladensburg National Park - kangaroos

Kangaroos sheltering from the heat in one of the claypans at Bladensburg. The claypans allow water to run off so freely that it only takes half an inch of rain to fill the waterholes. Drovers used to follow the storms, knowing that even a small one would produce enough runoff to provide water for themselves and their livestock.

Richard Cragg's lonely grave in Bladensburg

Richard Cragg’s lonely grave in Bladensburg. Cragg was a mail contractor who died in December 1888 aged 46, apparently from “poison.”

The 1894 shearer's strike memorial

The 1894 shearer’s strike memorial. It was here that 500 shearers camped during the strike of 1891 and 1894, when Winton was under martial law. It’s also of historical political significance as these events played a role in the founding of the Australian Labour Party.

Engine Hole, a waterhole in the park.

Engine Hole, a waterhole in the park. Even a simple ham, cheese and tomato sandwich tastes like gourmet food when you eat it somewhere like this.

Bladensburg Homestead and shearing shed is open for visitors. This shed was built in the 1960s after the original shearing burnt down, and has only 6 stands, reflecting stocking rates of the time. Sheep numbers on Bladnesburg ranged from 30,000 in 1915, to 600,000 (!!) in the 1920s, declining to 14,000 in the 1950s.

The change in numbers is amazing. In 1965 in Queensland’s Flinders Shire alone there were nearly 1.3 million sheep. By 2006 there were only 156,000. Cattle are now the primary stock that’s run.

Bladenburg's old shearing shed.

Bladenburg’s old shearing shed.

Before we left Winton, I had to play on its musical fence. It made me laugh, even if Jim thought I was a twit.

musical fence

Can’t say my efforts on the musical fence were very tuneful.

Musical Fence - drums

I did feel, however, that I played the drums quite marvellously.

We called into Hughenden on the trip back and had a terrific time visiting the museum and checking out the sculptures.

Mutt the Muttaburrasaurus

Mutt the Muttaburrasaurus, a fibreglass replica. These dinosaurs grew up to 7 metres in length and were 2.2 metres at the hip. Behind, the gorgeous old Grand Hotel, sadly closed.

Windmill sculpture, Hughenden

This windmill sculpture/rotunda in Hughenden’s main street was erected in 2001 to celebrate the centenary of Federation and features two 20 foot blade windmills. It’s practical as well as interesting and, thanks to interpretive panels inside, educational. Danny from Santa and the Saddler would have loved it!

dinosaur metalwork sculpture

One of the dinosaur metalwork sculptures that dot the centre of town.

dinosaur metalwork sculpture

Another metalwork sculpture in Hughenden. Clever!

Hughie, the 7 metre tall muttaburrasaurus

Hughie, the 7 metre tall muttaburrasaurus in the Flinders Discovery Centre.

Danny, windmill engineer and hero of my rural romance Santa and the Saddler, would have gone nuts over this gigantic Comet windmill in Hughenden.

The Comet windmill Hughenden

The Wirilla Station windmill, now in Hughenden, stands on the banks of the Flinders River and is one of only fifteen 35 foot mills ever manufactured. This one is number 11 and it could pump a million litres of water a day with an average wind. Danny would have wet his pants!

From there we drove back to Charters Towers, a famed gold rush town, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch at Centenary Park and this commemorative sculpture.

Gold Discovery Monument

The Gold Discovery Monument by Queensland artist Hugh Anderson

I was sad to leave the area. We’d had such a great adventure, experiencing outback Queensland and visiting locations so iconic and significant in Australia’s history.

Next time we’re up in Townsville with time to spare, I’m hoping to take a (longish) drive north-west to the Undara Volcanic National Park to check out the lava tubes. My parents-in-law tell me they’re spectacular.

Hope you enjoyed this post from This Writing Life. Don’t expect too many other adventures for a while. No time for fun in the Hein house, it’s book writing time and I have an idea for a beeeoooooty!

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to the tempting goodness that is Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from my novels, past, present and in progress, and occasionally con author buddies into taking over.

In breaking news…

I’ve just finished the first (and usually hardest) round of edits on my next full length release. RAH!!

And guess what? We finally have a title. It’s going to be called:

The Country Girl title announcement

The Country Girl is scheduled as a January release but you should be able to find it in stores in late December. I’ll confirm that nearer to the date.

I am so excited about this book, and I know I say that with all my releases but this one is special. The feedback from my agent and editors has been fantastic, and I just adore this story and its characters and can’t wait for you to learn about their lives. Tash and Patrick are gorgeous, if I do say so myself!

It seems only fitting to celebrate the end of first edits by sharing a snippet of The Country Girl. Make sure you read to the end though, because there could be a GIVEAWAY!

 

The Country Girl’s heroine is Tash Ranger, a star food blogger who’s just landed a major cookbook deal. For research and inspiration, she’s moved back to her parents’ property in the far western districts of Victoria. In this scene, her city friends Thom and Ceci have trekked to the country for a visit. Ceci is riding Khan, a horse Tash has acquired, without a helmet when Tash’s neighbour Patrick, with whom Tash has been clashing, rocks up. Sparks fly!

 

Tash was so lost in her thoughts she failed to notice that a vehicle had pulled into the farm until it was too late. Her heart bounced high into her throat. She snatched at Ceci’s leg as Patrick’s ute veered away from the flat and speared straight for Khan’s paddock. ‘Quick. Get down.’

‘What for? We haven’t finished filming.’

‘Please, Ceci.’

Ceci narrowed her eyes at the rapidly approaching vehicle. ‘Who’s that?’

Tash tugged even harder on her leg. ‘Someone who’s going to kill me if you don’t get down.’

‘Why?’

Too late. Patrick was already through the fence and striding towards them. Thom had the camera up, filming everything.

In seconds Patrick’s face was in hers. ‘Are you crazy?’

‘Oh, wow,’ said Ceci, openly ogling Patrick who was, Tash had to admit, looking stupidly sexy in jeans and a white polo shirt that hugged his chest and showed off his broad shoulders and muscular arms. Whatever. He was in his butthead mood and while Ceci clearly found it attractive, Tash didn’t.

 

As you can probably guess, the hero of The Country Girl is Patrick and he’s a bit of a babe, even if he does drive Tash crazy – in more ways than one. Over coming months I’ll be sharing more about him and all The Country Girl gang so watch out for that.

Now, as mentioned in the intro, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

It feels like ages since I’ve done a giveaway so time to remedy that. For your chance to win a signed print copy of my latest release WAYWARD HEART, simply share your favourite way to spend Easter.

Wayward Heart by Cathryn HeinDo you love to spend the weekend curled up with a good book and scoffing chocolate or are you one of those who loves nothing more than to pack up a tent and trek off into the wilderness?

Growing up, we spent most Easter weekends at our beach shack on the lower south-eastern coast of South Australia. The weather was almost always foul but I adored it. There were some pretty dramatic storms and I loved watching the ocean churn and break over the reefs, and we had a pot-bellied stove that we’d load up so full its belly would glow red. I wouldn’t mind doing that again. It’d be perfect for writing.

What about you? Reveal your favourite Easter fun and I’ll pop you into the giveaway draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 14th April 2017. Australian postal addresses only.

To make sure you get all the inside info about The Country Girl, or any of my releases, please sign up to my newsletter. Besides being the first to receive updates, you’ll receive a couple of short stories to enjoy over a cuppa and access to other funstuff. Oh, and I’ll love you. A lot.

 

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Favourite Reads of March 2017

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My Favourite Reads image

Welcome to My Favourite Reads! I can’t believe it’s April already. What happened to March? It just flew past but the whole year has felt like that so far.

I had a terrific reading month and discovered some wonderful new authors. I also finally finished all my competition reading. I had two books to read for the Romance Writers of Australia’s prestigious Ruby Award and one of them was absolutely brilliant. So brilliant that it was easily my favourite read for the month but, frustratingly, I can’t tell you about it!

Ah, well. These things happen. Anyway, my favourite read for the month that I can tell you about is…

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonIt seems I’m completely addicted to young adult fantasy novels at the moment. They pull all my strings – smart, brave heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, lots of action and juicy romance plots that are electric with tension.

Rebel of the Sands had all this and more. I really liked the Djinn element of the fantasy and the magic, and the harsh desert setting was wonderfully described. The opening had an old western gunslinger feel to it that was huge fun, but then the book steered more middle-eastern.

This is a trilogy and book 2, Traitor to the Throne, is out but book 3 isn’t scheduled to release until 2018, so now I’m torn whether to gobble down book 2 straight away so I know what happens next with to Amani and Jin, and the other rebels, or wait until I can read the rest of the series in one go.

Decisions, decisions…

Blood Memory by Greg IlesBlood Memory by Greg Iles

I picked this up after a couple of ladies at my golf club raved about it and I can see why they did. This was my first Greg Iles book and it was a cracking read. Blood Memory is a long story but it never once felt like it was dragging. The plot was maze like, full of twists and surprises, and I thought the weaving of the heroine’s personal mystery and the serial killer plot, was skilfully done.

I’m going to read more of this author, starting with Natchez Burning.

The List by JA KonrathThe List by JA Konrath

This techno-thriller has been sitting on my Kindle since 2013. Oops. Why I hadn’t read it before now I have no idea. It would have stayed unread too if I hadn’t gone trawling through my ebook collection looking for something different to read while we were in Townsville last month.

Anyway, it was a hoot! The plot is completely bonkers – a group of people with tattoos on their feet start ending up dead and from there a mystery begins to unravel. I can’t tell you any more than that because it’d give the plot away but I can say that this was funny, action-packed, over-the-top and hugely entertaining.

Locked Box by Eve DangerfieldLocked Box by Eve Dangerfield

Another blast of a book with a great premise.  Computer whizz Julia is helping to sort out the evidence room at the police station where she works when she’s accidentally locked inside. Her saviour – hunky policeman Max – comes to the rescue, only for the door to close and lock again, trapping them together.

This was sizzling hot, emotional and and funny. Loved it.

If you’re quick you can pick this up right now off Amazon for free. No excuses not to read it!

Of Fate and Phantoms by CJ ArcherOf Fate and Phantoms by CJ Archer

When I finished From the Ashes, book 6 of the Ministry of Curiosities series, I told myself I wasn’t going to read any more because I felt the series had come to a natural end. I’d loved the journey but it was time to move on, and I still haven’t finished Archer’s Emily Chambers Spirit Medium series. Then Of Fate and Phantoms came out sounding so exciting and delicious and next thing my finger is hitting the buy button. I can’t help it. I just love Charlie and Lincoln and the gang.

Another great read from CJ Archer. Book 8, Veiled in Moonlight, releases in June. My naughty buy button finger is itching already.

Saint Odd by Dean KoontzDeeply Odd and Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

And so the Odd Thomas series comes to a close. I’m kinda sad because Odd was a wonderful character and I enjoyed his adventures a lot. The series was a bit hit and miss but overall I had a great time and the ending was as satisfying as I hoped it would be.

 

What were your favourite reads of March?

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except for when I let lovely writing buddies take over.

My guest today is Sarah Barrie whose Hunters Ridge romantic suspense series has been a ginormous success and raved about by readers. If you love small towns with secrets and a rocking romance, Sarah’s books are for you.

This is Sarah’s first appearance on Teaser Tuesday so please give her a huge welcome as she shares a little about her latest hit Promise of Hunter’s Ridge. Make sure you read until the end, because we just might have a juicy GIVEAWAY!

 

Author Sarah BarrieThe third book in the Hunters Ridge series, Promise of Hunters Ridge is the story of Mia Morgan, a heroine that, over the course of the series has become a firm favourite with readers.

After freeing herself from an obsessive boss and saving loved ones from a serial killer, Mia relocates herself and her business to the pretty little country town of Hunter Ridge. But now her own life is in danger, and though used to fighting her battles alone, Mia realises she needs the help of her friends and family – and police detective, Ben Bowden, to get her through it. Of course, Mia and Ben have had more than a few issues getting along, and the sparks that fly whenever they’re together only complicate things further. If Mia can let go of the past and work with Ben, not only might she save her life, she could end up with her own happily ever after.

But nothing’s guaranteed when you’re a serial killer’s fantasy.

 

Mia took Chloe out to the veranda to wave them off, then went inside. It was quiet, already quite dark outside. Maybe she should have brought her gun. But she’d left it at home because Ben was going to be here. ‘I’m just being silly,’ she told Chloe. And went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea.

She played with Chloe and bathed her, watched her eyes close as she drank from her bottle. By the time Mia laid her gently in her cot, the baby was sleeping. ‘Goodnight, precious girl,’ she mur­mured. ‘You’re safe.’

She snuck downstairs. The dogs needed to be fed so she did that, then locked up. It was nearly eight, but she still had a bit of time before Ben was due. She stared at the lounge. Was she really going to sit there and watch movies with him? Just the two of them? She pressed a hand to her stomach. ‘Idiot.’ But she did need to get around to analysing her feelings for him before they tied her up in too many more knots. It was getting out of control.

She dug into her bag when her phone beeped with a message. She grinned. It would be Ally checking up.

Did you wear that for me?

Promise of Hunters Ridge by Sarah BarrieWhat? She read the message again. Looked down at her modest shirt and jeans, then up at the windows. There was no light but a crescent moon. Her heart went into a fast rhythm. It must be a wrong number.

Maybe she’d just close the curtains. Wouldn’t hurt. She went around pulling them across the windows, then turned off all the unnecessary lights. After staring at the phone a few more seconds, she sat and turned on the television.

When the phone buzzed again she leapt form the lounge and opened the message.

I can still see you.

‘Shit.’ She spun around in a circle. There was no one in the house—the place was locked up, the alarm system on. Should she call the police? She tried Ben’s number. It was out of range. ‘He must be on his way,’ she told herself. The thought was a reassuring one. Maybe she’d let the dogs into the house. But they’d probably make a racket and wake Chloe. So what?

She was on her way to let the dogs in when her phone buzzed again. A picture message. Breathlessly, she opened it and a video started running. The camera was entering Chloe’s room, looking down at the sleeping baby.

Rob was here. He’d come for Chloe. She didn’t have her gun.

‘Oh God!’ She grabbed a knife from the kitchen bench and flew up the stairs.

Mia threw open the nursery door, knife raised. Chloe was in her cot. She stirred at the noise of the door banging. Mia’s gaze darted around as she flicked on the light, her whole being primed for fight. Where was he?

Backing into the corner of the room, she grabbed the baby sling and dropped it over her head. As quickly and gently as she could, she slipped Chloe inside. The baby settled back into sleep with a little sigh.

How could she use a knife with the baby around her middle? She needed a better weapon. She called Cam, but it went to voicemail. ‘Damn it!’ The movie hadn’t started yet—where were they? She was typing the second zero to call the police when her phone rang. She almost screamed.

‘Mia, it’s Cam, you rang?’

‘Where’s your gun?’ she whispered.

‘What? Why? Mia what’s wrong?’

‘Where?’ she breathed desperately.

‘Laundry, top shelf. Bullets are in the back of my top bedside drawer. What’s going on?’

She could hear Ally’s worried voice in the background. ‘Call the police for me. I have to go. I have to listen.’ She ended the call before he could object and turned the phone to silent. Cam and Ally’s room was right next door so she went there first. The small amount of noise she made shuffling around for ammunition seemed ridiculously magnified.

She slipped the phone in with Chloe and held onto the bul­lets and knife. He was in here somewhere. He would not get the baby.

Almost too scared to breathe, she crept back downstairs. Getting to the laundry involved walking to the far end of the darkest part of the house, but she didn’t want to turn a light on. If, by some miracle, he didn’t know where she was, she didn’t want to broad­cast it. When she reached the small room it was too dark to see anything. Should she slip in and hope he wasn’t there, or turn on the light, risk it drawing him to them and hope she could load the rifle fast enough?

She turned on the light, found the rifle. Loaded it with shaking fingers. There was a loud crash and Chloe fussed, beginning to cry, then scream. Mia walked cautiously back down the hallway, rifle pointed straight ahead. A dark figure appeared. Her finger convulsed.

 

Oh WOW! How cool was that? Makes you want to grab a copy straight away, doesn’t it? You can, and easily. Simply visit Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, Booktopia, or your favourite retailer and Promise of Hunters Ridge will be yours.

Now, as I mentioned in the intro, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Here’s Sarah to give you the details.

Secrets of Whitewater Creek by Sarah BarrieI love combining romance with the thrill of suspense, using a backdrop of the beautiful Australian countryside to portray the strength and determination of our Aussie heroes and heroines. So, for a chance to win a signed copy of my first bestseller Secrets of Whitewater Creek, let me know about your favourite character or couple from any Australian rural romance or romantic suspense and why you loved them.

Ooh, what a fantastic question, Sarah! My favourite couple are Kate and John from North Star by Karly Lane. There’s a scene in that book that cracks me up completely. Highly recommended, but I recommend all of Karly’s books. She’s fab.

So, my lovelies, who is your favourite character or couple from an Aussie rural romance or romantic suspense? With so many to choose from it’ll be tricky but we’re sure you’ll be able to do it.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 7th April 2017. Open internationally. Whoop!

If you’d like to learn more about Sarah and her best-selling novels, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook.

 

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Rocking Horse Hill is Going Global!

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So much for great plans. I was going to share photos from my trip to outback Queensland today in a This Writing Life post, but I’m up to my eyeballs in edits for my next full length release and haven’t had a chance to organise it. As fun as blogging is, books must come first.

But I do have exciting news!

Rocking Horse Hill – the story that triggered the (loosely) related Levenham Love Story series – is currently available only to Australian and New Zealand readers, but very soon the rest of the world will be able to enjoy this book too, in both ebook and print.

So today it is my great pleasure to present to you its new, rest-of-the-world cover.

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein - global cover

What do you think? I love it and that cover model makes a very sexy looking Josh. Slurp!

I’ll have news on the exact release date shortly, along with order links, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can discover more about Rocking Horse Hill, read an excerpt, reviews, and how the story came about on its book page.

Or, if you’re in Australia or New Zealand and have yet to savour this delicious tale, why not grab a copy today from your favourite retailer? ‘Tis easy with just a few clickety-clicks on:

Amazon.au | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play |Booktopia| Fishpond

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoIt’s Teaser Tuesday time again, the blog series where I share tantalising snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Except when I let good buddies take over, like today!

I’m delighted to host fellow rural romance author Cheryl Adnams on this week’s Teaser Tuesday. Not only does Cheryl write fab books, she’s from my home state of South Australia. And if that wasn’t enough, Cheryl’s Muller’s of McLaren Vale series is set in one of Australia’s best wine growing regions. I think every second red on our wine rack is from McLaren Vale because they’re so rich and juicy. Like Cheryl’s books!

But enough from me. Time to raise your glasses and give a hearty welcome to Cheryl and her latest release Handpicked.

 

Author Cheryl AdnamsWhen I began writing “Bet On It”, the first in the Muller’s of McLaren Vale series, I didn’t write it consciously thinking there would be any follow-ups, but those Muller brothers and the characters around them became family to me and I wasn’t ready to let them go. Brian came next with “Chasing the Flames”, which I actually wrote even before “Bet On It” had been picked up and published by Random House Australia. And from there it was a natural progression to continue with the last Muller brother, Andrew.

Handpicked” is the final story and it has taken me a long time to finish it. Throughout the previous stories I depicted Andrew as somewhat of an immature playboy. It was a challenge to figure out how I was going to make him grow up and become a decent man. He meets his match in childhood friend, Taryn McArthur when she returns to Muller’s Field to help with handpicking the grapes for the harvest. She has the upper hand for a good portion of their courtship. But just when he finally begins to think he has her all figured out, she reveals a secret that throws him into one hell of a spin. I can’t give too much away but I love the tease in the final tagline I used; ‘The smallest things in life can often make the biggest difference.’

It’s been a three year love affair with the Muller boys and in this final story there are a few shocks, especially for those who have followed the Muller’s all the way through and think of them as family, as I do.

 

Andrew could feel the warmth from Taryn’s body even without touching her. His senses were in overdrive and he kept his gaze out across the vines so as not to do something stupid like try and kiss her again. She wasn’t like anyone he’d ever met before and he was unsure how to tread. He wanted her. He knew that. She was gorgeous and vivacious, and that independent streak kept him on his toes just enough to make things interesting.

Taryn had kissed him in the pool after wine tasting and again last night in her drunken state. He’d kissed her early that morning after their argument. Not that he was keeping score. He’d just feel better when he had a bit more control over what was happening between them.

‘I should go,’ she said suddenly.

He sat up quickly. ‘Why?’

‘I . . . it’s late,’ she said. ‘I need a shower. God, I must stink after working all day in the fields.’

‘You smell great to me,’ he said grinning.

But the grin disappeared when she moved in and attached her lips to his. She kissed him slowly, lightly, nothing like the rough kiss he’d laid on her that morning. Her fingers feathered along his jaw, sending wonderful tingles of electricity across his skin.

Handpicked by Cheryl AdnamsA little sigh escaped her mouth as she changed the angle of the kiss. And he was lost.

‘Taryn,’ he murmured against her mouth.

‘Mmm?’

‘You make my head spin.’

She opened her eyes and sat back, her chest rising and falling beneath the thin white tank top she’d worn picking all day, as she tried to catch her breath.

‘I mean literally spin,’ he added. ‘I can’t work you out.’

‘Andrew, I’m going to be honest with you,’ she started seriously. ‘I’m attracted to you.’

He smiled.

She didn’t. ‘And that confuses me a little since you’re the boy who dared me to eat caterpillars and pulled my pigtails on a daily basis.’

‘Don’t you know?’ he asked, his deep voice quiet.

‘Know what?’

‘That’s how boys show girls that we like them.’ He reached out and tugged lightly at a strand of her hair, before curling it around his finger.

Her lips twitched a little and he watched as she looked down at his big hand playing with her hair. ‘I’m attracted to you,’ she said again. ‘But I’m here for a good time, not a long time. Do you understand me?’

He didn’t answer, just kept staring into her eyes.

‘I’m here for the harvest and then I’ll be gone, back to Queensland, and I have no choice in that.’

‘You always have a choice.’

‘In this, I don’t.’

She looked away for a moment out towards the setting sun. He wondered briefly what was so important back in Queensland. Not a man. They’d already established that. But his thoughts were interrupted when she spoke again.

‘I’m attracted to you and I think you’re attracted to me,’ she said turning her face back to his again. ‘But this can’t be anything more than a fling.’

Again he said nothing, just stared into those green sparkling eyes. He was enjoying her candour. It took guts for a woman to put her wants out there and he admired her for it. He knew a lot of men wouldn’t be so open-minded.

She stood up. ‘This was fun. I’d better go.’

He could have insisted she stay longer, but he knew he’d lost her. For now.

‘See you tomorrow then.’

She nodded and turned to walk away. She was about to step over the low wall when he called out.

‘Taryn!’

She turned back expectantly.

‘You’re here for the harvest,’ he said. ‘Two months at best.’

She nodded.

‘I dare you not to fall in love with me.’

She just shook her head and laughed. ‘You’d have more chance of getting me to eat caterpillars.’

He just chuckled, unperturbed.

‘Bye,’ she said. ‘And thanks for dinner. I enjoyed being here.’

He waved and watched her until she was out of view before he fell onto his back on the rug. He groaned, staring up as the stars began to blink into existence. They winked at him like they knew something he didn’t. Well, they probably did. Maybe they knew what made Taryn McArthur tick, because buggered if he knew.

 

Wasn’t that fun? You want to read more now, don’t you? Well, you can, with just a few clicks. Purchase your copy of Handpicked right now from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble.

If you’d like to learn more about Cheryl and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to the delight that is Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from my novels, past, present and in progress, and occasionally sucker author buddies into taking over.

I’ve just returned from a trip to outback Queensland and have a brain full of juicy new story ideas. I love travelling, whether it’s a journey just up the road or somewhere thousands of miles away, there’s always something to learn and interesting things to gain inspiration from. As usual, I’ll be sharing photos from the trip in a This Writing Life post so watch out for that. There may be dinosaurs.

Righty-o, let’s get on to today’s Teaser Tuesday snippet. Make sure to read until the end because I have a special offer for you, and it’s a beauty too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about horse racing lately because I have a really cool story that I want to write that revolves around a horse race. This subject isn’t new for me. My debut novel Promises featured a racehorse trainer as the hero, and what a gorgeous man he was too. My crush on Aaron lasted aaaaaaages, until Lachie from Heart of the Valley strode in and stole my affections, but as with all my book heroes there will always be a special place in my heart for him.

I hope this little snippet of Aaron in action in Promises shows you why.

 

Aaron stilled and cocked his head. The distinctive knock-knock of the Range Rover filtered in through the door of Hakea Lodge’s feed room. He smiled and allowed himself a moment’s mild fantasy before shutting down his thoughts. Making it through the morning without touching Sophie would be hard enough.

But it was a day for optimism. The storm had blown through, leaving clear skies and a landscape scrubbed clean. Earlier, he’d sat on the verandah steps watching the sun rise and the horses snort and stamp as the first rays of light drifted across the yards.

Promises by Cathryn HeinHe’d thought about Sophie, and dreamed of how it could have been between them – but never would be. At sixteen, he hadn’t understood that mothers were capable of selfish exploitation. Or that fathers could die of shame. They were lessons he’d learnt too late, just as he’d learnt too late that pity and compassion could turn into something else. Something they shouldn’t.

The combined thrill and terror of watching Sophie ride cross-country like some equestrian kamikaze still lingered, plucking at his conscience the way Tess’s words did. Little pecks of doubt, eating away at his perception of Sophie, making him question her fortitude and query his own judgement.

Yet the memory of her expression when she had looked up from Chuck’s sweating neck and saw him eclipsed everything. Mud-splattered, wearing that stupid egg on her head and that equally stupid body protector, she’d gazed at him with huge grey eyes full of tears and amazement, as if seeing him was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

No one had looked at him like that before. Ever.

 

Now, as I mentioned in the intro, I have a special offer for you. You can purchase signed copies of Promises direct from me for only $15 including delivery to your Australian postal address. What a bargain!

To take advantage of this deal – and you know you want to, oh yes you do! – simply email me at cathryn@cathrynhein.com to order or use the contact form on the contact page of this website, and I’ll send you the Paypal link.

I also have limited quantities of my other titles available that I can personally sign to you or to someone else as a gift. Just shoot me an email and we’ll work it the cost.

Want to learn more about Promises? You’ll find the story behind the book, reviews, and more excerpts on its book page on this website.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome back to another scintillating edition of Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally get writing buddies to play along.

Recently I had the great joy of attending the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Convention at Rydges Melbourne (check out all the photos in last week’s This Writing Life post). What a fantastic weekend was had, and made even better by my latest release WAYWARD HEART winning the member’s choice award for favourite cover in the Australian Romance Reader Awards. Rah!

I was so thrilled to win this, and even more so for my editor and the cover designers at Harlequin Australia. After all, it was they who did all the hard work. All I did was tell them that I loved it when I saw the concept.

After this lovely award, it only seems fitting to share a snippet from WAYWARD HEART.

Here’s a little taste from the hens’ night (some of the book centres around the wedding of Em and Josh from my previous novel Rocking Horse Hill), but if you want to discover exactly what mischief Granny B got up to, you’ll have to buy the book.

Enjoy!

 

Em was in fits of giggles. Non-drinking Teagan, as keen as Jas for Em to have fun, had been surreptitiously topping up Em’s glass whenever she wasn’t looking, and the Wayward Heart by Cathryn Heinresult was a wonderfully relaxed bride-to-be who’d danced the tango and the salsa, and happily joined in a very wobbly cha-cha snake of hysterically laughing women.

‘You’re brilliant, you know that?’ said Em, slinging an arm around Jas and kissing her heartily on the cheek. Despite her champagne consumption, Em remained as stunning as ever in a strapless burgundy satin gown that fitted and flattered her body beautifully. Her hair had been slicked back into a chic bun, exposing her swan-like neck and perfect shoulders.

In a bright blue halter-neck dress that flaunted her generous assets, Jas was feeling equally as wonderful. ‘You should thank your grandmother more than me. She organised most of it. Most of my time was spent calming her excesses. Did she tell you she wanted to hire Puppetry of the Penis?’

‘No, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’m thanking my lucky stars she didn’t hire the Chippendales.’ Em smiled. ‘She was in a class of her own tonight.’

 

Wayward Heart is available for purchase right now from your local bookshop, discount department store and these excellent stores:

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson Bookworld | Fishpond.com.au

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo | iBooks |Google Play |Barnes & Noble Nook

Read about how I came to write Wayward Heart in Of Beaches And Brothers, And Friends to Lovers, the story behind Wayward Heart, or learn about the volcano at the heart of the story in This Writing Life: Tales From The Real Rocking Horse Hill.

 

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