Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Memory and Why

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

This week’s topic is a hard one.

My Favourite Memory and Why

I mean, from all the brilliant memories I have, how am I meant to choose just one? It’s like choosing your favourite book or song. Nigh on impossible.

So this won’t be my favourite memory but it sure is one of them.

The day I got my first horse.

I was ten and I’d been nagging my parents for a horse since I learned to say the word. I wouldn’t be surprised if I hadn’t nagged them before I could speak by stretching out my arms in a ‘gimme’ gesture whenever I sighted anything even remotely equine.

I love horses. Luuuuuuurve. To get one of my own was a dream come true. A cliché, yeah, but having my own horse was my dream. Nothing else mattered more.

My horse’s name was Mysty (note the romantic spelling). She was a two-year-old bay filly whose sire was a well-known stud thoroughbred. Her dam? The stud owner’s daughter’s pony. In other words, Mysty was an “oops”.

A few weeks before, Mum and Dad had taken me down to a property near Drumborg, just across the Victorian border, to meet her and it was love at first sight. She was the most magnificent creature I’d ever seen. Enchanted didn’t even begin to describe my feelings.

Oh, the excitement that she’d be coming home!

Mysty, me and Dad on her first day home

Mysty, me and Dad on her first day home. My first ride!

As you can imagine, when she did arrive I was beside myself. My own horse! And she was beautiful. Beautiful! More beautiful than any other horse that ever existed anywhere. And best of all she was mine. No more begging pats and rides from friends who had horses. No more fretting that I’d never have a horse of my own. No more crying over The Black Stallion books because I would never have a relationship with a horse like Alec shared with the Black.

My own horse. A miracle.

At only two-years-old and just broken, Mysty might have been a miracle but she was also completely inappropriate for a ten-year-old learner rider. But my dad had been brought up around horses and been a jockey in his younger years, and Mum used the justification that Mysty and I would be able to grow up together. Not smart thinking when it comes to horses. Usually, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Cathryn Hein horsing around

Me (left) and a friend, horsing around.

We were lucky though. So very, very lucky. Mysty was exceptionally gentle and sweet natured and whoever broke her in did a brilliant job. What followed was not disaster but years of fun and adventure and friendship, both equine and human from the world she’d opened up.

We did pony club, hunt club, trail riding club, dressage club, show-jumping club. We did horse shows, gymkhanas, and eventing across South Australia and Victoria. I even won champion rider in my age class riding Mysty at the Pony Club State Championships in 1986 (? – could have been ’85, I can’t quite remember). I also whispered all my secrets into her swivelling ears, cried into her silky neck, laughed at her funny behaviours (she once walked through the front door of our house), and dreamed a thousand daydreams while stretched out across her back.

She made my childhood exciting and special and magical. Mysty, my dream horse. A star.

What’s your favourite memory?

PS. If you’re curious about my top 5 horse stories, you can check out my list here.

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and sometimes tempt author buddies into doing the same.

What’s been happening in the Hein house? A lot of staring at the computer, that’s what. I’m deep into Serenity’s Song (working title) and having a great time. This is an enemies-to-lovers story so forcing Serenity and Jesse together against their wills is very satisfying.

Authors can be mean like that.

I’m also getting excited about Scarlett and the Model Man’s release. Last week I picked up my bookmark order from the printer and haven’t been able to stop grinning at them. They look gorgeous!

Scarlett and the Model Man bookmarksAll personally signed print books purchased direct from me will receive one of these bookmarks in their pack – details on how to order will be in this week’s newsletter and later posted on my social media and this website.

If you want to be the first to get your order in, make sure you’re part of the cool gang and join my reader group here.

I also have some events coming up where you’ll also be able to score a Scarlett and the Model Man bookmark. First, on February 29th, at I’ll be at Lakeview Café, Speers Point NSW, with Fiona McArthur, Trish Morey and Jaye Ford for Coffee, Cake and Contemporary Women’s Stories. Details here.

And on Sunday, March 8th, I’ll be at Sydney’s Castlereagh Hotel for an Australian Romantic Rendezvous, a booksigning and reader event featuring special international guests Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan, along with a line-up of your favourite local authors. More info here.

Right. It’s Teaser Tuesday teaser time.

It’s only ONE MONTH until Scarlett and the Model Man releases. Wheeeeee!

A milestone that needs celebration, and what better way to celebrate than with a bottle of champagne? Oh, sorry. I meant with a teaser. The champagne is for later.

Just a teensy teaser, mind. I wouldn’t want to spoil your future reading fun.

In this scene, Scarlett is lunching with Audrey Wallace (aka Granny B) and discussing her difficulties with finding her perfect model.

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‘I’d offer my grandson, Digby, but Jasmine—his girlfriend, Scarlett and the Model Man coveralthough I do wish they would hurry up and announce their engagement; this faffing about has gone on long enough, in my opinion—would be even more disapproving than Emily.’

‘Too pretty, anyway,’ said Scarlett, setting her chin on her fist. ‘I need someone good-looking without being pretty. Rough but not ragged. A perfectly imperfect man, like …’ She tried to think of an actor who’d match her criteria and instead caught sight of a man the size of a small country walking past the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows. She pointed her fork in his direction. ‘He’d do.’

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He he. So… who is the giant man walking past the window? You’ll have to read the book and find out!

Scarlett and the Model Man releases March 24th 2020. Pre-order your copy today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

If you’d like to discover the inspiration behind Scarlett and the Model Man, check out When Life Becomes Fiction – The Story Behind Scarlett and the Model Man.

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Never Miss a New Release meme

My Favourite Reads of January 2020

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It’s time for My Favourite Reads again, coming to you a bit late this month. I’m on deadline with Serenity’s Song (working title) and those words must come first.

Ooh, where to start on my reading for this month? I loved every book I read but my favourite was…

Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score

Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy ScoreOh, I cannot express how much fun I had with this Rock Bottom Girl. It was a HOOT!

Funny, sexy and completely page-turnery, this small-town romance had me laughing, happy-sighing, occasionally sniffling, and whoop-whoop cheering.

I loved the eccentric characters. They were completely over the top but that’s what made them so brilliant. I adored the heroine Marley. She had hang-ups but she was tough and funny and nice, and smokin’ hot hero Jake was just delicious.

The moment I finished Rock Bottom Girl I went and bought Protecting What’s Mine. Can’t wait!

The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

The Unquiet Bones is the first in a medieval whodunnit series and a very good read.

Our hero Hugh de Singleton is the fourth son of a knight. Normally he’d be expected to take holy orders. Instead, Hugh decides to become a surgeon. Soon after starting up business he’s befriended by a local lord who asks him to investigate the death of a young girl.

This was a well-written, interesting and entertaining historical mystery, with plenty of twists and a lot of atmosphere. Most enjoyable.

The Christmas Party by Karen SwanThe Christmas Party by Karen Swan

I picked this up after reading a review from online magazine Beauty and Lace, and thought it sounded smack in my zone. And it was!

A contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Ireland, The Christmas Party follows three sisters as they cope with the fall-out from their father’s death and their own secrets and mistakes. Subtle romances add extra zing too.

Highly recommended. I’m going to keep an eye out for Swan’s 2020 Christmas story when the time comes.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient has been a blockbuster release and sold a bazillion copies around the world. Naturally I had to find out why for myself!

Loved it. Great voice and wonderfully twisted and the ending? Faaaaabulous.

A very close contender for favourite read of the month but was pipped by Rock Bottom Girl because… romance!

The Maid, the Millionaire and the Baby by Michelle Douglas

So… my favourite Michelle Douglases so far have been A Baby in His In-Tray and The Million Pound Marriage Deal (my thoughts on both these books here) but I think The Maid, the Millionaire and the Baby has now taken the lead.

This book was simply gorgeous. Wonderful island setting, great heroine who was funny, sassy, capable and compassionate, and a gorgeous hero I wanted to hug to bits. I love it when alpha type heroes find themselves completely discombobulated. Warms my heart!

The Whisper of Silenced Voices by CJ ArcherThe Whisper of Silenced Voices by CJ Archer

Regular readers know what a CJ Archer fan I am. I’ve been gobbling down her books since I picked up and was hooked by The Last Necromancer.

This After the Rift series is my favourite so far. I just love it. It’s a bit grittier than the other series I think, and I’m a bit disappointed to learn that the series will be finishing soon. But that’s okay. I’m sure that whatever CJ releases next will be even better. Total fangirl, that’s me!

Anyway, The Whisper of Silenced Voices was as fab as I expected, and I look forward to seeing how Josie and Dane fare in The Temple of Forgotten Secrets.

Afraid by JA KonrathAfraid by JA Konrath

Gawd, I love JA Konrath’s dark thrillers. They are such a blast. You can read my thoughts on his previous novels here.

Like the other Konrath novels I’ve read, the premise of Afraid is completely bonkers. A helicopter crashes outside a small isolated town and the killing starts soon after. The tag for the book reads: WELCOME TO SAFE HAVEN, POPULATION 907… 906… 905… I reckon that gives you the picture.

Loved it. Afraid may not be everyone’s thing but it’s absolutely mine. Next in my sights is Trapped.

Trouble in Nuala by Harriet SteelTrouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel

I’m a sucker for a cosy mystery and Trouble in Nuala was lovely.

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala introduces us to Inspector Shanti de Silva, a local man married to a former English governess and who must balance the needs of his Ceylonese kinsmen with that of the country’s British administrators.

Nuala is a sleepy town but like Midsomer (from the famous Midsomer Murders series), there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface.

I really enjoyed this and have bought the next three in the series.

Ooh! Looks like you can pick up Trouble in Nuala for free right now. Go get ’em!

For the writerly

The Secrets of Story by Matt BirdThe Secrets of Story by Matt Bird

This is now my favourite writing craft book. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s brilliant.

The Secrets of Story is not only full of practical advice, it’s also inspirational and the checklist at the back is a real bonus. Unlike a lot of the craft books I own, this won’t be stuck on a shelf and ignored. I plan to refer back to its wisdom often.

This is what my copy looks like – sticky notes and underlining everywhere.

My copy of The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird

Go buy The Secrets of Story. Seriously, you won’t regret it.

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What were your favourite reads of January? I’d love to hear!

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Types of exercise I enjoy

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

This week’s topic is going to be short and fun. A bit like me, really.

Types of exercise I enjoy

Oooh, this one is easy-peasy and won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s read any of my bios.

I am a golfer.

Not a very good golfer, mind, but I’m out and damn proud.

Playing Golf at Port Fairy Golf Links

Golfing in the winter at Port Fairy on Victoria’s wild south-west coast. Golfers do it anywhere.

It can be a dangerous sport though. No, don’t you laugh. It can! I’ve given myself a few injuries in my golfing career.

One of the most dramatic was a black eye when the ball I struck hit a tree branch which broke off and clobbered me in the face. I dropped like a schoolcase and was convinced my eye had burst because of the masses of liquid pouring from it. It hadn’t, thank god. It was just watering. The black eye was impressive though.

But get this… The ball landed on the green and when I’d finally recovered I putted it in for par (a good score, for those non-golfers out there).

I also managed to smack myself with my own ball once. I was on the eighteenth tee and had had a bad day, but it was the last hole and with it came a chance to redeem myself.

Yeah, right.

My tee shot hit a concrete path edge and ricocheted straight back at me, leaving barely time to turn aside. The ball struck me on the shoulder like a bullet and oh, the pain! It was so bad it outdid the ignominy of being whacked by my own ball.

I don’t usually lose my temper on the golf course but I spat it after that. Picked up the horrible white thing and trumped to the clubhouse in a (perfectly justified) huff.

When the bruise came out it was patterned with golf ball dimples. Very pretty. Not.

Then there are the golfer’s and tennis elbow injuries and the countless times I’ve banged the steel head of my putter into my shin or ankle bone.

Black snake basking in the sun

A sunbaking blacksnake at my old golf club Glenmore Heritage Valley, NSW.

And snakes. Snakes love golf courses and being Australia they’re not harmless snakes either. I came within a foot of running over a taipan with my buggy in Townsville (north Queensland) once. My other half nearly had heart failure. Mind you, so did I when saw how close I was.

See? Very dangerous sport. But excellent exercise.

You should try it.

No, really. It’s fun. Promise.

What’s your favourite exercise? Book reading doesn’t count!

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arm of an author buddy to do the same.

Before we get on to today’s snippet, a bit of news from the Hein house.

I’m working on a seekrit project. *Cue evil snigger*

Actually, I’m working on a couple of secret projects but as I’m juggling them with my fast-approaching writing deadline for Serenity’s Song (working title and sequel to Elsa’s Stand) most aren’t getting a lot of attention. I hope to share at least one bit of this news with my newsletter subscribers soon so watch out for that.

If you’re not part of cool crowd, join here.

Other than that, it’s very much a case of what we authors sometimes call BISHOK, which is a rather ugly looking acronym for Bum In Seat, Hands On Keyboard.

Although I was naughty last weekend and tried out this Gordon Ramsay recipe for Mango, White Chocolate and Passionfruit Parfaits. Soooo bad but oh, soooo gooooood! Dead easy to make too. Gotta love a recipe you can whip up in minutes and looks and tastes brilliant.

Speaking of brilliant

Heeeeee! See what I did there? I am the segue queen!

Eh hem. Anyyyywayyy

Today’s Teaser Tuesday excerpt is brought to you by Eddie and the Show Queen. But we won’t be featuring Eddie (gorgeous hunk of manhood that he is) or bright, bubbly Alice. Nope, this snippet is about Scarlett Ash, star of Scarlett and the Model Man, up for pre-order now and a book you won’t want to miss.

Close-up of the male model on Scarlett and the Model Man

Cover detail from Scarlett and the Model Man. included purely for illustrative purposes.

Nothing to do with that Mr Bare-Chesty model blessing its cover. Nothing at all.

And I have not been running my finger over that image when Jim hasn’t been looking either.

Much.

Mr Bare-Chesty is very tasty though.

Sigh.

Err, where were we? Oh, yes. Our excerpt.

In this scene, Alice has driven town matriarch and champion nose sticker-inner Audrey Wallace out to visit Scarlett

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Scarlett was as eye-popping as her artwork. Her clothes were simple – khaki camouflage-patterned cargo pants, heavy lace-up work boots, and a black, paint-splattered fine-wool jumper. But it was her hair, eyes and skin that made her spectacular. Everything seemed overdone, from the cascading dark curls to the greenness of her eyes and the porcelain beauty of her face. Dramatic and finely drawn, like her art, and probably just as complicated.

Eddie & the Show Queen coverAlice also suspected she was more than a little drunk. A cosy-covered teapot sat on a bench, along with a sugar bowl and a half-empty bottle of gin. Having greeted Mrs Wallace with undisguised mistrust and Alice with strange interest, Scarlett now paced the studio, sipping from a delicate teacup and sliding narrow glances at Mrs Wallace as the older lady flicked through canvases.

‘I don’t do free, as you well know, Audrey.’

Alice had no idea what the relationship between these two was, but the use of Mrs Wallace’s first name suggested a long association. She hoped that was a good sign.

‘This would be a favour.’ Mrs Wallace smiled in a way that reminded Alice of a politician. ‘To me.’

Scarlett’s gaze sharpened even further. ‘Calling one in, are you?’

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Yep, she’s a tough cookie, our Scarlett.

Eddie and the Show Queen is available now from these stores:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

Pre-order Scarlett and the Model Man here:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Bookdepository

I’ll have news on how you can order personally signed print copies of Scarlett and the Model Man in my next newsletter and later here on this website. Stay tuned!

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Books I re-read or want to re-read

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Welcome again to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. It’s not too late for you to play along either. Interested? You can learn more about the blogging challenge here.

This week’s topic is another beauty.

Books I re-read or want to re-read

It used to be normal for me to re-read books. My copy of Jilly Cooper’s Riders is so wrecked from being read so many times it’s creased and grubby and has a cover held together with packing tape, and my copy of Well Groomed by Fiona Walker isn’t much better. My collection of Wilbur Smiths was the same (I could not get enough oRiders by Jilly Cooperf those Courtneys!).

Re-reading was normal because one, I couldn’t afford to buy new books all the time and two, other than the library, my only source of books were local bookshops. Now, bookshops are marvellous places but they can’t stock every book, and nor should they. Which meant that whenever I ran out of money or books that turned me on, it was back to the ones already on my shelf.

In the early 90s I had a brilliant local bookshop that I would visit every few weeks, sometimes more. I travelled a lot back then and spent many weeknights in boring hotel rooms and needed books to keep me sane. It was a small bookshop with limited shelf space, but a highly curated fiction selection. Thanks to their recommendations I read some extraordinary stories during that period. Many remained on my keeper shelves for years and were enjoyed again and again.

In the early 2000s we moved to Aix-en-Provence in France and my book collection went into storage in Australia. Aix had several fabulous bookshops but only one that stocked English titles. I became a frequent visitor to Book-in-Bar (yep, it was a bookshop with a bar – heaven – and I still have booksmarks from there). The selection was great and compared to Australia the books were incredibly cheap, which meant lots of stocking up on new goodies. Then along came Amazon UK and an even greater book selection, and a period where I really got into romance novels and couldn’t buy enough of them. When I was banned from buying more books (it was getting a bit silly and we couldn’t ship them all home), it was back to re-reading.

Fast forward to my first e-reader, a Sony PRS that I bought in 2010 and that pretty much ended my re-reading days. Unless it’s a cookbook (I re-read those babies all the time) or a writing craft book (ditto), it’s now quite rare for me to re-read. I’m simply too spoiled for choice.

Rare, but not unheard of. Which brings me to my list.

Here are some of the books that I plan to re-read.

Watchers by Dean KoontzWatchers by Dean Koontz

I read this book years ago, in the early 90s, and loved it. It stars a dog and I’m a dog person. Not just any dog, mind, but the dog we’d all adore to have.

I gave my print copy to charity during a clean-out in one of our many house moves and recently purchased it again in ebook, which means I can read it with lovely big print. An important consideration when you have crappy eyesight like me.

It by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King

Scariest book I ever read (or re-read). It’s about time I had the pants scared off me again.

Again, another book I’ll read in ebook because my print copy went the high-jump donkeys ago.

I’ll probably have nightmares and Jim will get cranky but it’ll be worth it.

A Place in the Hills by Michelle PaverA Place in the Hills by Michelle Paver

One of the few print copies that I’ve managed to hold on to. This is the book that cemented my love for the romance genre. It’s amazing. You should read it.

Even though she no longer writes romance, Paver remains an auto-buy author for me. Wakenhyrst and Dark Matter were brilliant and I adored her Daughters of Eden trilogy. So romantic. Sigh.

The Gargoyle by Andrew DavidsonThe Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Fantastic book. Read the opening scene and prepare to be gobsmacked.

I read this when it first released and was mesmerised by both the story and the way it was structured. I’ve had a story premise in my mind for about eight years that I’d like to structure the same… when I get around to writing it. No idea when that’ll be, but when I do I’ll re-read The Gargoyle for inspiration.

The Glittering Hour by Iona GreyThe Glittering Hour and Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

I think Iona Grey’s books are beautiful and emotional and deserve multiple re-reads. Total fangirl.

If you’re interested in my rave comments about them, you’ll find my comments on My Favourite Reads here (for The Glittering Hour) and here (for Letters to the Lost).

This is only a small selection of the books I’d like to re-read. There are a bazillion others, but you know what it’s like. Too many books and not enough reading time!

What book(s) would you dearly love to re-read?

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases and works-in-progress, and love it when author buddies can be conned into doing the same.

With today being such a day!

First, news from the Hein house.

As you probably guessed from last week’s post, it’s been a bit hectic here. I’m back home from our short-notice road-trip to South Australia and once again knuckled down to Serenity’s Song (working title), and trying not to think about its fast-approaching deadline.

Which always makes me think of that Douglas Adam’s (of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) quote: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

I’m not sure I do. I hate being late for anything. Gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Enough of that. Back to our most excellent guest.

I am absolutely delighted to host fellow Hunter Valley author Lee Christine on today’s Teaser Tuesday. You may know Lee from her Bindarra Creek and Mindalby rural romance novels, Shadows of the Heart and A Daughter’s Choice, or her romantic suspense novels In Safe Keeping, In Safe Arms, and In Safe Hands.

Lee has a new crime novel out and, wowsers, does it sound good. Loaded with atmosphere, intrigue and great characters.

I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Charlotte Pass last weekend and it was a fantastic event. Lee spoke so eloquently and passionately about the story, how it came about and her love for writing suspense that we were all left eager to get our hands on a copy. Which I now have. Rah!

Here are a couple of piccies from the day.

Lee Christine talking at her Charlotte Pass book launch

Lee being excellently interviewed by former Sky News reader and journalist Nicole Webb, entertaining us with her tales of writing Charlotte Pass.

Lee Christine with author buddies Kaz Delaney, Michelle Douglas and me.

Lee (centre) with (L to R) author buddies Kaz Delaney, Michelle Douglas and me.

And here’s Lee to tell you more about Charlotte Pass and to share a snippet. Make sure you read right through to the end. There could be a giveaway!

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Lee Christine authorThank you so much, Cathryn, for having me on your blog today.

Well, here we are almost midway through February already, and hasn’t it been a challenging few months for many Australians? My heart goes out to everyone suffering from the devastating effects of the bushfires and drought which have been wreaking havoc on our beautiful country for months.

Hopefully, as we move into the last days of summer, the temperatures will be kinder, and the much needed rains will come. If the mercury stays high, you can always turn on a fan or the air-con, pour yourself a long, cool beverage and curl up with Charlotte Pass, a crime novel with romantic elements set in an isolated village high up in the snowy Australian Alps.

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Ryder loosened his fingers on the rear grab handles, enjoying the surge of adrenaline as the snowmobile roared up Mount Stilwell. The late afternoon sun cast long shadows over the ski runs, but it was the view inches in front of Ryder that held his interest. Vanessa was leaning forward, the medic symbol emblazoned across her back, her upper body constantly in motion. There was a graceful physicality to the way she manoeuvred the snowmobile through the wooded terrain, avoiding the areas of loose deep snow where the machine was at risk of getting stuck.

The gradient increased as they neared the site and Vanessa slid back on the seat. She wriggled forward, putting an inch or two between them, only to slide back again as they climbed higher. With his spine pressed into the snowmobile’s backrest, Ryder had no room to move. Not that he wanted to. Eventually, she gave up fighting gravity and stayed put, her bottom resting snugly between his thighs.

Charlotte Pass by Lee ChristineRyder smiled at his good fortune but forced himself to focus on something other than the woman pressed against him. Instead, he inhaled a deep breath of freezing air and thought about Lewicki’s unexpected arrival. Ryder had been relieved to see his friend. Lew’s historical knowledge of the case would be invaluable, though he’d have to be prepared to take a back seat, which would be hard for someone with Lew’s temperament. Flowers had been doing some decent work, and Ryder didn’t want Lew upsetting their fledgling partnership because he was so invested in Celia’s case.

Ryder caught sight of the granite boulder through the trees and then the grave site came into view.

‘I hope this doesn’t prove to be a waste of time,’ Vanessa said, unclipping her helmet as they climbed off the snowmobile a few minutes later.

Ryder tried to keep his expression neutral. A waste? Never. Riding pillion behind her had been worth every second in the freezing cold. His body hummed with nervous anticipation, and it wasn’t because he was about to look at something called a tree well. He managed a casual shrug as they walked towards the tape. ‘It’s always best to check things out.’

He lifted the tape so she could duck underneath, then followed her into the cordoned off area. The snow was deeper away from the trails, and despite his calf-length hiking boots, Ryder sank to his knees in the snow.

‘Be careful here.’ She moved tentatively towards the base of the ancient gum. Snow weighed down its foliage, the lower boughs resting on the ground. Ryder watched as Vanessa squatted and took hold of one of the smaller branches. Even before she’d pushed it aside, he could see the circular void that had formed around its trunk.

‘Let me hold that.’ He squatted beside her and she let him take the weight of the branch. Pushing it out of the way, he leaned forward and peered down into a wide, deep hole.

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Oooh, I wonder what Ryder is about to find down that hole? I guess we’ll all have to read Charlotte Pass and find out.

Grab your copy today from:

AmazonApple Books | Kobo | Google Play

Booktopia | Bookdepository | Angus&Robertson | Dymocks

Now, as alluded to in the intro, we have a

GIVEAWAY!

Charlotte’s Pass is set in an isolated, snowed-in village during Winterfest celebrations. I don’t know about you, but finding dead bodies is not my idea of a good way to celebrate winter. I’m pretty sure we can come up with plenty of other ways.

So, for your chance to win a paperback copy of this fantastic new Australian crime novel, share in the comments how you love to celebrate winter (or would like to) or a winter celebration that you’ve experienced and enjoyed and you’ll be in the draw.

Me? My favourite way to celebrate winter is to cook comfort food. Slow-cooked soups and casseroles, rich and muscular with flavour. Decadent desserts featuring chocolate or caramel, or fruit like apples and pears. And red wine and Guinness. Mustn’t forget those.

See? Too easy. So get sharing!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEDT, Friday 14th February 2020. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Christine and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter using @leechristine59.

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Wednesday Blogging Challenge: My Celebrity Crushes

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge banner

It’s time again for the Long and the Short Reviews Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge.

Week five brings another cool topic

My Celebrity Crushes

Like for most of the world, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth is a maaaaajor crush for me. That man… sigh. So, so beautiful.

But here’s one out of left field. I’ve had a crush for years on celebrity chef Rick Stein. I have most of his cookbooks and have eaten at his famous seafood restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall and if I don’t get to Bannisters Port Stephens this year there is going to be trouble in the Hein house.

Me at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow

Me at Rick’s Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall. It’s England, so naturally it was raining the night we went.

I also embarrassed myself badly when I met him in person at a cooking demonstration.

This was back in the 2000s, before Rick decided to spend half his life in Australia. I’d learned he would be hosting a cooking demonstration in Port Melbourne at the Essential Ingredient to promote his new book Seafood Odyssey.

At the time I was living in Newcastle, a thousand kilometres away, but no way was I missing this. I resolved to drive down for the demo and conned my Melbourne based girlfriend Carol into coming along.

It was fabulous! I still remember the dishes he cooked and how chuffed I was when he was discussing substitute fish species for Murray cod and mentioned mahi-mahi but couldn’t remember its other name. Me, having been on a recent fish-cooking frenzy, remembered it was also called dolphin fish and called the name out, earning me a small accolade from Rick. Oh, the flushy-niceness that caused!

Then came the booksigning.

I was so excited that when it came to my turn in line and Rick asked me my name all I could do was giggle. Not a proper giggle, but one of those dopey teenage nerr-hee sounding things that makes you want to smack some sense into the giggler.

It was appalling. Anyone would think I was in the presence of Chris Hemsworth dressed as Thor instead of a celebrity chef. A very nice and erudite celebrity chef, I must say, but still.

Eventually I pulled myself together and told him my name and how to spell it, while Carol stood on the sidelines damn-near wetting her pants laughing at me.

Me with my personally signed Seafood Odyssey

With my precious signed copy of Seafood Odyssey.

Not my finest hour, but pfft! I got to meet Rick and that copy of Seafood Odyssey is one of my most treasured books.

Okay, so I’ve embarrassed myself revealing my celebrity crush. Who’s yours? Come on, we’re all friends here. Share away!

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday MemeWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress and occasionally manage to twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

It’s been an exciting week!

Scarlett and the Model Man is now up for pre-order and looking gorgeous everywhere. Feedback on the cover has been great. I knew you’d like it. It’s so pretty! And made even prettier by that dishy surfer model on the cover. He is sooooo Sam. Love him.

It’s also been a super busy week because I had to make a short notice road-trip to my home town of Mount Gambier, in South Australia, a 2800 km round trip, give or take a few kms. Visiting always gives me lots of inspiration for my Levenham-set stories, even if I’m there for only a few days, like this trip.

Speaking of inspiration, you can read more about my inspiration for Scarlett and the Model Man in When Life Becomes Fiction. It’s quite a personal story.

As you’ve guessed, we’re all things Scarlett and Sam at the moment, which means todays Teaser Tuesday snippet is going to be taken from their gorgeous romance.

Here’s Sam talking to his mum after Scarlett asked him to model for her.

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‘You do realise what life-modelling entails?’

‘Yeah.’ At least he thought he did. ‘A lot of sitting still, I imagine. Trying not to fidget.’ Sam lifted an arm and tightened his bicep. ‘Flexing a couple of muscles.’

Scarlett and the Model Man cover‘Life-models pose nude.’

Sam’s jaw dropped. He swallowed. ‘Nude?’

‘Yes, nude.’

‘As in no clothes at all?’

‘Yes, my darling son. That’s what nude usually means.’

He sat back and dragged his hand down his face. Not only did Scarlett think him perfect, she wanted him naked. ‘Holy shit.’

‘Holy shit indeed.’

‘Well, then,’ said Sam, chuckling as he stood up. ‘Good thing I’m not shy.

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Scarlett and the Model Man releases March 24th, 2020.

Pre-order your copy today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk
Kobo |  Apple Books | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Personally signed print copies will be available for purchase direct from me as well as online bookstores. Watch out for more information on that soon.

Add Scarlett and the Model Man to your Goodreads to-read list here.

Want to be the first to know when you can order a personally signed print copy? Join my newsletter team here. You’ll not only get first dibs on a print copy, you’ll receive a chain of sweet and fun short stories to enjoy over a cuppa.

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Never Miss a New Release meme

Get ready for Scarlett and the Model Man!

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It’s heeeeeeeere!

Yes, my lovelies, Scarlett and the Model Man is now up for pre-order in your favourite ebook store.

Isn’t it gorgeous?

Scarlett and the Model Man cover

He might be the perfect model, but is he the right man for Scarlett?

When up-and-coming artist Scarlett Ash discovers the perfect model in small-town Levenham, she can’t believe her luck. Her creativity abandoned her months ago and with her move to London to take up a prestigious residency fast approaching, she’s desperate for a muse to bring it back.

Surfing dairy farmer Sam Greenwood is delivering milk when a gorgeous girl accosts him. Charmed by her invitation to model for a painting, Sam wants to say no. While Scarlett might be stunning, she’s arty-farty weird, and he’s flat out with his growing dairy business. Somehow, though, he can’t resist.

As Scarlett struggles to find her way with her new work, Sam becomes determined to help. Scarlett is smart, talented and sympathetic to the unremitting toil of dairy farming, and they’re both healing from failed relationships. Soon burgeoning friendship blossoms into so much more.

Knowing that London beckons and her time in Levenham is short, Scarlett resists the lure of love. She has no plans to return to Levenham, and big-hearted Sam deserves more than a brief fling followed by a quick goodbye. Except as their affair deepens, how can she leave the man who’s not only given her back her passion but her heart?

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Scarlett and the Model Man releases March 24th 2020, but you can pre-order it right now from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk
Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Print copies will be available for pre-order from online stores soon. You’ll also be able to order personally signed copies direct from me. Details in my next newsletter. Not part of the cool team? Join here.

Add Scarlett and the Model Man to your Goodreads want-to-read list here.

I can’t wait for you to read this story! Sam and Scarlett’s meet-cute is a hoot, even if Sam isn’t too sure about the situation, but the way their relationship develops is lovely. I adore these two. They’re both smart and interesting and Scarlett’s history is a tough one.

You may not realise, but Scarlett’s situation was partially inspired by my own battle with creative issues. You can read more about this in When Life Becomes Fiction: The Story Behind Scarlett and the Model Man.

Let me know what you think of the cover and blurb. I’d love to hear!

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Never Miss a New Release meme