Tag Archives: Amy Andrews

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayIt’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 hand the reins over to good buddies, like today!

I’m thrilled to host multiple-award winner and best seller Amy Andrews to the blog today. Amy’s books are a blast. They’re sexy, romantic and fun, and, lucky devils that you are, you’ll be getting to see exactly how sexy and fun with her excerpt today.

Here’s Amy to tell you all about it.

Playing By Her RulesAuthor Amy Andrews is the first book in my new rugby series and it stars Tanner – the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team and Matilda – the journalist assigned to do a six part feature on him. Only problem is, Tilly and Tanner had been high school sweethearts until he did something monumentally stupid and they broke up. Eight years down the track old hurts are hard to set aside but for the sake of her burgeoning career, Tilly is willing to play nice. To a point. Tanner, on the other hands sees this as an opportunity for reconciliation.  And this time he’s playing to win.

Scene set up –  Tanner has gone to Matilda’s house to hang some paintings for her after they’d spent the day at her grandmother’s house. Things get pretty steamy, pretty quickly…

 

Tanner blinked as he watched the greased-lightning dressing display. Tilly’s pants had gone on almost as quickly as he’d ripped them off.

Okay. Clearly he’d put his foot in it there. She was obviously mad, but he’d also seen a shine of moisture in her grey eyes. Hurting her had not been his purpose here tonight—quite the opposite. His dick deflated as quickly as it had sprung to life as he castigated himself for his choice of words.

He got warily to his feet. She was looking at a spot beyond his head, hugging herself, pulling her baggy shirt taut again, her glasses back in place. “Tilly, I didn’t mean—”

“It’s okay,” she interrupted. “Just go, okay? Please.”

Tanner frowned. He’d thought he was getting somewhere with her today. It had felt a little like old times at her grandmother’s house. They’d laughed. He’d even go as far to say they’d had fun. And he’d loved listening to her talk about Stanford as they’d hung the paintings. He was so damn proud of her, and it made him happy to know that he’d made the right decision to sever their relationships.

Playing By Her Rules by Amy Andrews coverAnd then she’d let him go down on her, when she’d never let him do that all those years ago. How many times had he fantasised about that, both during their time together and the years since? He could still taste her on his tongue, her scent still filled his head, and his heart beat faster just thinking about how fucking turned on he’d been.

Surely that in itself signalled a mellowing toward him? For Matilda to allow that particular intimacy, there must be something there?

And he’d just gone and cheapened it by bragging about his proficiency. Thrown it at her with a cocky I told you so.

Doofus.

He took a step toward her. “I think we need to talk, Tilly.”

She shook her head, her eyes looking a little wild. “God, no, please…I’m fine, just go.”

Tanner’s ire stirred at her insipid word choice. Fine? She’d looked more than fine a few minutes ago. She’d been practically melted into the rug before he’d gone and opened his big trap.

He shoved his hands on his hips. “Is that it? You let me go down on you, and you come so loudly I’m pretty sure the cops are going to be kicking the door in any second, and now it’s good-bye, see you later, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out?”

She shrugged, her expression bewildered. “You want some payback?” she snapped. “You want me to get on my knees and suck your dick?”

Tanner recoiled. “No!”

“Oh, you want a thank-you?” She gave a shrill laugh. “Thank you, Tanner. You are an oral sex god. I can do a hashtag for Twitter if you want. Hashtag gives great head or hashtag Captain Cunnilingus?”

Tanner stared, stunned for a moment. Captain Cunnilingus? It was so absurdly funny a laugh escaped before he could stifle it.

He would never live that one down.

 

Wasn’t that a hoot? I bet you’re hanging out to read the whole story and it can be yours with just a clickety-click. Buy Playing By Her Rules now from Amazon, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks, or Nook.

Sydney Smoke series promo

 

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Favourite Reads of April

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My Favourite Reads image

Another good reading month with lots of lovely tales and a few different genres. I even managed a non-fiction title which doesn’t happen often.

But there is no question my favourite read for the month was…

The Wife’s Tale by Christine Wells

The Wife's Tale by Christine WellsOh, I adored this book! Absolutely loved it. I loved the split timeline between contemporary times and the eighteenth century. I loved the characters, even the ones who were horrid, and the clarity and vividness of their voices and stories. I loved the wonderful settings, especially Seagrove, the aristocratic Nash family’s stately home on the Isle of Wight. I loved the intrigue, the romance (totally sighworthy), and I was captivated and infuriated equally by the 1789 court case involving Delaney Nash. That poor woman!

This is a big juicy book that you won’t want to put down. I blame Christine for me hardly getting any work done last Monday because all I wanted to do was read. I was so close to the end and had to find out what happened to Delaney and Julian and Liz and Theo and everyone else.

A cracking read. Perfect for Mother’s Day and as a present to yourself. Go buy.

(PS. There’s a signed copy of The Wife’s Tale up for giveaway on Teaser Tuesday but you’ll need to be quick. Closes midnight Friday AEST, 6th May 2016. Australian postal addresses only.)

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic SmithThe Last Painting of Sara de Vos

I’d been noticing quite a bit of early publicity and buzz for this novel and it sounded intriguing, so I was thrilled to score an advance reading copy thanks to The Reading Room and publisher Allen & Unwin. The story was a kind of art thriller, gradually revealed across three timelines and the research involved must have been phenomenal. The Dutch Golden Age narrative was fascinating. This will particularly appeal to art lovers.

Tallowood Bound by Karly LaneTallowood Bound by Karly Lane

I’ve adored all of Karly’s stories and Tallowood Bound was another gorgeous read. The war-era narrative from Townsville was fascinating but my favourite bit had to be the romance between Erin and Jamie. Karly’s heroes are such darlings and Jamie was no exception. I fell quite a lot in love with him. Oh, and watch out for the scene with Erin and some stray cattle. That was a hoot!

Try Not To Breathe by Holly SeddonTry Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon

Despite picking the culprit fairly early on, I really enjoyed this mystery which tells the story of Alex Dale, a former high-flying columnist brought down by alcoholism, and her obsession with the case of Amy Stevenson, a young girl brutally attacked and left for dead and who’s been unconscious for 15 years. I liked how Alex was so flawed. Her alcoholism has led her down some terrible paths yet she’s not irredeemable. Try Not To Breathe is a story of salvation as well as justice. Good stuff.

Some Girls Do by Amy AndrewsSome Girls Do by Amy Andrews

Far out, AA writes some cracking books and this one was a beauty. It was slick, sexy and fantastically paced, and the dialogue was seriously cool. As was the hero Cooper. Not only was he hot, he was decent. Real heart-throb material. Lacey’s brothers were fab too and it’s going to be fun reading their stories. This is the first in the Outback Heat series and you’ll currently find it free across ebook platforms. Grab yourself a copy and get reading. You’ll have a great time.

Big Magic by Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction except for research, but I do love a good writing craft book. This isn’t really one of those. Rather, it’s a book about embracing and nurturing your creativity. I have to admit that some of it was a tad too out-there for me but for every bit of oddball stuff there were gems of inspiration and great advice. I liked it. A lot. And I think it’s a book I’ll return to often when I get angsty about my writing and need a reminder of what being creative is all about.

What were your favourite reads?

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayGreetings from the tantalising land that is Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from current and past releases and works-in-progress. Except for the times when I corner writing mates and rope them in for a session.

Today I’m delighted to host best-selling and multiple award-winning romance author Amy Andrews on the blog. Seriously, if you haven’t read an Amy Andrews book you’re missing out. Her stories are enormous fun and chock-a-block with romance, sexiness, laughs and maybe even a few happy-tears.

Amy Andrews AuthorHere’s Amy to tell you a little about her hot contemporary romance Some Girls Do, book one in her Outback Heat series, and to share her teaser. This one’s a cracker and best of all it’s currently free. Yes, FREE! So download your copy right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Nook or your favourite ebook retailer.

Coop is a specialised car restorer and he is doing up Lacey’s old Mini as a favour to her  and to try and expand the business away from its grunt car rep by attracting more female clientele. Also, as they are living together due to a certain set of circumstances, it is helping to keep him out of the house and therefore his hands off her!

 

A car up on a hoist directly ahead of her blocked her view and she didn’t see Coop until she walked around it and located him crouched down sans shirt, one knee on the ground, next to what appeared to be a car engine. Her car engine, judging by the gaping hole in the front of her Mini where the hood usually sat. Except there was no hood either. In fact the entire car was one big hole—no engine, no doors, no wheels, no seats or internal fittings whatsoever—just an empty shell on blocks, all its parts stripped out and placed in a pile on the floor.

It would have been a very sad sight indeed had Lacey been properly able to comprehend it. The fact that Coop was shirtless, however, made any kind of comprehension impossible. All Lacey was capable of was staring at the broad acres of his back and praying she didn’t do something stupid like try and lick him.

A sheen of sweat at his hairline and in the small of his back caught the light belting down from the overhead lamps, as did the play of muscles beneath his skin as he fiddled with some whoosie-what. Her gaze drifted to the streak of grease on his left flank and her belly looped the loop.

Some Girls Do by Amy AndrewsThere was just something so damn male about a guy doing something with his hands. Something mechanical. Something sweaty. And dirty.

Watching Coop in his natural environment was seriously turning her on.

Coop looked up from his handiwork abruptly and startled her. “Oh hey,” he said.

Lacey wondered if he’d been able to sense the sudden heavy fog of pheromones clogging the air, or the thick ooze of lust emanating from her every pore. Or maybe she’d let out some kind of primal whimper without even knowing it. Either way he was standing, wiping his hands on a clean-looking rag and bringing all his lovely muscles up to her eye level.

Otherwise known as licking level.

She frowned and ground the balls of her feet into the concrete not trusting her impulsive nature one iota. He looked at her warily as he shoved the rag into his pocket, half of it hanging out. “Are you okay?”

She nodded vigorously. Maybe a little too vigorously, but it was something to do other than ogle the very distracting sheen of sweat on his pecs and the hollow of his throat or the smudge of grease streaking his flat, smooth belly.

She liked that he didn’t have any hair marring her view. That she could easily see the definition of his muscles beneath the taut stretch of his skin. But that streak of grease was just way too tempting.

“You’ve been busy I see,” she said forcing herself to make casual conversation when all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around his waist, bury her nose in his chest and sniff him. She headed in the opposite direction instead, making a show of walking around her stripped car.

“I figured I might as well get a head start.”

She poked her head into the empty shell. “Poor baby,” she murmured.

He chuckled and a wave of goosebumps prickled over Lacey’s skin. “Sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind. Just think what she’ll look like after I’m done coaxing her back to full bloom. I’ll be gentle with her I promise.”

Lacey gripped the metal tight as she thought about how Coop could coax her to full bloom. Right here, right now. On the concrete floor with the grease and the diesel fumes, or in the grimy shell of her car.

It sure as hell wouldn’t take weeks and there would be no need to be gentle.

God knew she could do with hard and fast right now. Something wild and furious to burn off the edge of desperation building inside her with every second she spent in his company, their unorthodox past lying large and mostly suppressed between.

“I’m going to get Gav to source me some wicked mags. Have you thought about what colour you’d like her to be?”

Lacey straightened and looked at him over the roof of the car. Man, he was really into this. She was practically melting from the inside out and he was thinking about wheels and duco. It was enough to make a woman feel about as attractive as tyre rubber. Enough to make a woman want to do something about that.

Like stripping herself naked and draping herself on the hood.

Oh, that’s right, there was no hood.

©Amy Andrews

Wasn’t that fun? Remember, this book is currently free so use the links above to grab your copy today.

Some Girls Do by Amy Andrews FREE

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High Tea and High Fun at the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

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It was a gala day last Saturday with the Australian Romance Readers Association‘s A Romantic High Tea event and the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards, both held in Sydney at Cello’s Restaurant in the Castlereagh Hotel. And what a brilliant time was had!

Stuck in front of our computers, deep in imaginary worlds, writers tend to live comparatively solitary lives, which makes it huge fun to get out, frock up, and meet with passionate readers and writing buddies. Events like these are also terrific for the romance genre. They’re where we get to show off what enthusiastic readers and talented writers we have in Australia. We’ve known for years how special and important the genre is but many others have no idea. The message is getting through though, as was demonstrated by the industry representatives present at the awards and their generous sponsorship.

Here are a few photos from the High Tea and 2015 ARR Awards dinner. If you’d like the full list of awards and winners, you’ll find them all on the ARRA blog.

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On Friday night before the High Tea, I caught up with Rachael Johns and Emily Madden at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Sydney. Naturally, there was fizz!

Rachael Johns, Cathryn Hein, Emily Madden at dinner

Hot Chocolate the Blow-Up Wonder Horse has been coming to events with me since last year’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra. Admittedly, he doesn’t get a lot of care, being thrown around in suitcases and the occasional bar, but I had hoped he’d last a bit longer than a year. Sadly, with only a few hours until the High Tea, Hot Choc sprang a leak. As you can see, it left feeling him very deflated…

A saggy and flat feeling Hot Chocoalate

Guests on my High Tea table received April’s Rainbow mugs filled with Chupa Chups and decorated with ‘love’ butterflies. Cos we’re all about the luuuurve at Chez Hein and ARRA!

High Tea guest gift

Here are my gorgeous High Tea people! We had such fun. I can’t thank them enough for coming along and being such great company. As you’d expect there was LOTS of book talk. Cello’s Restaurant is a lovely venue too, full of light and pretty architecture. Perfect for A Romantic High Tea.

L-R: Malvina, Amy, Belinda, Me, Veronica, Suzanne, Jo (who came all the way from Edenhope, Victoria!).

High Tea guests

Some of the scrumptious treats on offer.

High Tea treats

Amy, me and Belinda.

Amy, me and Belinda at High Tea

Me and Suzanne.

Suzanne and me at High Tea

ARR Awards MC and Favourite Paranormal Romance winner Shannon Curtis doing her stuff. And do it very well she did!

ARR Awards MC - Shannon Curtis

Guest speaker Kat Mayo. Her speech “There’s never been a more exciting time to be a romance reader” was excellent. You can find the transcript on her Bookthingo Blog. Well worth a visit and read.

ARR Awards guest speaker Kat Mayo

Rachael Johns with one of her two ARR Awards. Way to go, buddy! Rachael won awards for Favourite Short or Category Romance and Favourite Contemporary Romance.

Rachael Johns with one of her ARR Awards

Me and special person Len Klumpp who’s a great supporter of Australian romance and ARRA, and who, along with his wife Carolyn, travelled all the way from Tamworth for the event. Len also presented Helene Young with the award for Favourite Australian Romantic Suspense (great stuff, Helene!).

Great fan and ARRA supporter Len and Cathryn at the ARR Awards

We had a lovely lady named Linda on our table. Linda had come all the way over from Western Australia, and was absolutely delightful company. I was so thrilled to have met her. The photo-bomber is Amy Andrews who just can’t help herself!

Cathryn and Linda at the ARR Awards

Me trying to pinch Shannon Curtis’s and Cathleen Ross’s ARR Awards. They really should share… Cathleen won her award for Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance.

Cathryn, Shannon Curtis and Cathleen Ross at the ARR Awards

And finally, but not in the least bit last – in fact she was first, first, first! – Anne Gracie, who took out three awards on the night: Favourite Historical Romance, Favourite Continuing Romance Series and the big gong, Favourite Australian Romance Author. Well done, Anne!

Anne Gracie collecting one of her ARR Awards

I would like to thank the hard-working and dedicated members of ARRA for making the High Tea and ARR Awards such brilliant events. It was a very special weekend that I’ll remember very fondly. I, and everyone I spoke to, had a ball. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

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If you love romance, writing, or both, the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is the RWA Get Fresh logoplace for you. Every year I come away with my head spinning from all I’ve learned, my heart warm from all the darling friends I’ve caught up with and the new ones I’ve made, and my body buzzing at all the exciting ways in which we can give our readers the best reading experience possible.

The 2015 conference, held recently at the glorious Park Hyatt in Melbourne, was no exception.

On a professional front, the highlights for me were Angela Ackerman’s Friday workshops Larger than Life Characters and Show Don’t Tell, CS Pacat’s How To Plot A Page Turner, Sarah Mayberry’s and Sara Hood’s Marketing Masterclass, and the ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now’ published author panel. Social highlights? Well, let’s just say every day was a social highlight!

Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend. As you can see, there was plenty of laughter, great information, and even a few dress-ups.

COCKTAIL PARTYRWA Cocktail Party - Crowd

A happy crowd. You would not believe how loud it was.

RWA Cocktail Party - Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West

Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West.

RWA Cocktail Party - Harlequin Australia ladies

Harlequin Australia ladies Lilia Kanna and Michelle Lee looking gorgeous.

RWA Cocktail Party - Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Trish Morey and Marion Lennox.

RWA Cocktail Party - Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie

Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie.

RWA Cocktail Party

Robin Aldridge and Fiona McArthur, both attending their TWENTY-FOURTH conference in a row. How cool is that!

RWA Cocktail Party - Michelle Conder. Annie West and Me

Michelle Conder, Annie West and me.

CONFERENCE

Angela Ackerman Workshop - collage of slides

Some of the slides from Angela Ackerman’s brilliant Friday workshops.

RWA Conference - Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti

Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti.

RWA Conference - Tricia Stinger and Cathryn Hein

Tricia Stringer and me.

CS Pacat's fantastic How To Plot A Page Turner - slide collage

C.S Pacat’s session on How To Plot a Page Turner was soooo good. Fantastic information.

RWA Conference - Maggie Le Page

New Zealand author Maggie Le Page, who won the guess the number of jelly beans competition, lucky thing.

Marketing Masterclass - slide collage

Some of the great slides from Sara Hood’s and Sarah Mayberry’s Marketing Masterclass session. The full set of slides from the presentation can be found on Sara’s Marketing4Writers website.

RWA Conference - my raffle prize

My raffle prize: martini glasses and two Sandy Curtis romantic suspense novels. Rah!

RWA Conference - morning tea

Morning tea. More loudness, but with cake.

ARRA BOOKSIGNING

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein

Me and Hot Chocolate the Blow Up Wonder Horse.

ARRA Booksigning - Meredith Appleyard

Meredith Appleyard.

ARRA Booksigning - Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Le Page

Maggie Le Page.

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein and Helene Young

Me and Helene Young.

ARRA Booksigning - Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer takes her books very seriously.

ARRA Booksigning - Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss, who I had the great pleasure of sitting next to.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey

Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey.

ARRA Booksigning - fans lined up

Eager fans!

RWA GALA AWARDS DINNER

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - pre dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinkies.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner

Celebrating all our achievements thanks to Anne Gracie’s stand-ups.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Ruby winner Amy Andrews

Ruby winner Amy Andrews received many lipsticky congratulations on her win.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Dance lessons

Dance lessons thanks to the Escape After Party.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Rachel Bailey and Annie West

Rachel Bailey and Ruby Award winner Annie West in the cocktail bar.

OTHER STUFF

RWA Book haul

My book haul! Although I may have read that bottom one a few times.

RWA Conference - cafe entertainment

Entertainment in the Hyatt’s cafe. Very civilised.

Melbourne - Yarra River

Melbourne looking pretty at night.

My huge thanks to Kate Ledsen, Kate Belle and their team, along with the RWA committee and all the volunteers for putting on such a wonderful conference. Very fresh indeed!

As you can see from the above, romance authors are super-savvy about their business and craft, generous with their time and expertise, and know how to have a good time. If you’re searching for your writing tribe, perhaps the RWA is the place for you. It certainly is for me.

 

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FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Felicitations, food ‘n fiction fans, and welcome! This week, in yet another packed-to-the-max Friday Feast, we host a multi award-winning and best-selling Australian contemporary romance author who’s going to reveal her cracking new read, share a winter-beating recipe, AND give you the chance at a giveaway. It’s all happening, so read on!

First, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Frankly, it’s so bad I’m not sure I’m up to talking about it. After coming last – yes, LAST – in last week’s ladies competition I thought things couldn’t get any worse over the weekend. They did. I went from diabolically bad to… Sorry. I can’t bring myself to tell you. It’s too awful. I want to be upbeat say the only way is up, but I said that last Author Amy Andrewsweek and look what happened. So I’m just going to continue to sulk and mutter, and watch the Haney Project on the golf channel while pointing at my chest and yelling, “You want a challenge, Hank? Try this baby then see how good you are!”

Eh hem.

My guest today is Amy Andrews, who is, if you weren’t already aware, most awesome. She’s prolific, talented, has won bucketloads of awards, hit best-seller lists and done lots of other cool things. I am not ashamed to say I’m a total fangirl. Her books are a hoot and you should all go out and grab one today.

Amy’s latest release is Limbo. Take a look.

LIMBO

Cover of Limbo by Amy AndrewsSix Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’ fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy. So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

Trust me, you’ll be on a winner with any Amy Andrews book so get clicking and snap Limbo up now. Buy from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Nook or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back and enjoy!

2 Ingredients, 1 Crockpot

Well I must be doing something right because this is now my 4th visit to The Feast and Cathryn still seems to want this food faker back. The good news is the last month or so my cooking mojo has returned! Which was nice of it after 19 years of being AWOL. I cooked two banana cakes, an orange cake and three lots of Coq au Vin in a month! I’ve been mildly surprised at this most unusual behaviour while the family wondered if I’d been abducted by aliens who’d switched my brain with Nigella’s then returned me (particularly cruel when you think they could have switched our bodies as well!).

I emailed Cathryn and told her cooking lived here once again and could I do a Feast spot. No food construction I promised her. I’ll do Coq au Vin, I said. I even went and bought all the ingredients and made it last Saturday. Then promptly forgot about taking pictures as I went. Doh! The worst part was when it came to writing this blog the thought of doing another batch left me completely unenthused. That’s the thing with we food fakers – we’re fickle. So apologies to Cathryn and regular readers but no Coq au Vin.

What I did cook this week, though, was a delicious pea and ham soup which is kinda perfect for these winter months. I even took pictures! So, that’s what I have for you today. No chopping, slicing or dicing, no frying, no rolling in flower or beating/separating anything. Its food construction personified – 2 ingredients and one crockpot – with apologies to Cathryn for leading her on with promises of my reformed character 🙂

PEA AND HAM SOUP

Ingredients

Pea and Ham soup ingredients - bacon bones and dried peas

1/. Bacon bones. The amount depends on you and how big your pot is. You can also use ham hocks or ham bones. Lucky for us my BFF has a farm where she raises pigs because she loves them but occasionally one finds itself onto a roasting spit. We scored some smoked bacon bones off them when they visited a couple of weeks ago. They kind of look like something you might see hanging in an abandoned railway yard in The Walking Dead but they smelled amazing. My husband grew up on a pig farm so he just about died and went to heaven when they were presented.

2/. A packet of dried peas.

And that’s it…

Method

Before you go to bed, place peas in a bowl and drown them in water leaving a good few fingers of liquid covering them. You only have to soak them for a couple of hours but I always soak them overnight.

The next morning place the swollen peas and any water that might not have been absorbed and ham/bacon bones in crockpot. You might need to add some more water depending on the amount of bones you’ve used – so the liquid is up to about ¾ of the crockpot bowl.

Preparing pea and ham soup

Put crockpot on low.

Leave until the evening when all the meat will have fallen off the bones and the peas are all mushed.

Trawl through soup for all the bones (this is the most time consuming part of the recipe) then give a good stir.

Pea and ham soup

Voila! It’s done. Grab a bowl and fill. A nice crunchy bread roll or toast is the perfect accompaniment. Also a glass of wine. I can recommend this cheeky red with the fabulous retro label that every romance author/reader should have on hand!

Amy's red wine recommendation

I don’t know about you guys but winter has hit hard as I write this so guess what I had for lunch?

Pea and Ham soup

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Well, Amy, I know what I wish I was having for lunch! That looks delish and I’m a bit of a fan of a good soup. Mum’s pea and ham soup was an absolute winter winner in our household growing up. She wasn’t much of a cook, bless her, but she could make a mean pavlova and super tasty soup. Just like you!

Now, my Feasty lovelies, because Amy is so wonderful, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an Amazon Kindle copy of Amy’s new release Limbo, simply tell us this: What’s your favourite way to snuggle up in winter?

Are you a blankie on the couch type of person, or perhaps your greatest winter love is ugg boots? Maybe you’re a demon at hunting down places with open fires or perhaps you’re like me and sidle as close to your other half as possible, pinching all their body heat. Reveal your favourite way to avoid the winter cold and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 16th June 2015. Open internationally. Rah! Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay, you can still read the book via the Kindle app on your phone, tablet or computer.

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AmyAndrewsbooks or keep up with all of Amy’s news by signing up to her newsletter.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: ARRC Part 2 – The Photos

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I’m sure you’ll see from these photos that everyone who attended the weekend’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra had an absolute ball.

Victoria Dahl during her keynote speechI think the highlight for me (other than catching up with old friends and meeting new) was Victoria Dahl’s speech on unsympathetic heroines. I’ve never read any of her books but was left so impressed that by the end of her talk I’d bought two of them. Gotta love technology.

The booksigning was, as it always is, loud and enormous fun. I’m very grateful to that most excellent of book sellers, Booktopia, who generously gave away multiple copies of Rocking Horse Hill over the course of the weekend. So many people came up to me to get them signed and have a chat. It really made my convention. There were plenty of delegates with The French Prize too, which they’d received in their welcome bags thanks to Harlequin Australia. All of us came away loaded with excellent reads. I’m looking forward to Yes, Chef by Lisa Joy (thanks to Penguin Australia), The Brewer’s Tale by Karen Brooks and Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair, who also won the ARR Award for Favourite New Romance Author (both titles from Harlequin).

Here are some of my favourite happy snaps from the weekend. There would have been more only it appears I have managed to kill yet another camera. Sigh. Oh well, at least this one was only a cheapie, unlike the last.

Hot Chocolate, the blow-up horse, being given the kiss of life by Cathryn Hein in the QT bar at ARRC 2015

Hot Chocolate being given the kiss of life by me in the QT bar (pic thanks to Amy Andrews)

I arrived in Canberra a day early and after a spot of shopping wandered off to check out the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. The exhibition was nearing its end and the shop had discounted all its stock. Naturally, with all that lovely horsey stuff on offer, I went on a bit of a spendy-fest and one of the items I came away with was an inflatable horse. I thought I might use him as a prop during the booksigning or simply as a fun toy for my office.

But as I passed the bar on the way back to my room, I found myself waylaid by Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter. I resisted their entreaties to join them hard. Really hard. These ladies are persuasive though, and it was with great reluctance *cough* that I settled down for a catch-up over a few drinks.

The crowd soon grew (must have been our magnetism) and somehow the blow-up horse was dragged out for a show-and-tell. After a bit of encouragement, I agreed to inflate him. What an effort! It was a close run thing but I eventually managed to get him blown up without passing out. He then needed to be christened, and while a few names were bandied about I believe it was Amy Andrews who came up with Hot Chocolate. And thus Hot Chocolate he became.

Anne Gracie with Cathryn Hein admiring Hot Chocolate the blow-up horse in the QT bar at ARRC 2015

Anne Gracie with me, admiring Hot Chocolate the blow-up horse in the QT bar at ARRC 2015 (pic thanks to Amy Andrews)

I’m proud to say that Hot Chocolate even scored a mention in Helene Young’s wonderful opening keynote speech, and was much-admired by many over the weekend.

My shy roomie at ARRC 2015, Rachael Johns

Rach was feeling a bit camera shy…

My ARRC roomie was good buddy and rural romance star Rachael Johns. She took a bit of prodding to get up on Friday morning. Rach blames the 3 hour time difference from WA to the ACT but I don’t know…

As mentioned, Helene Young (whose novel Safe Harbour also won Australia’s Favourite Romantic Suspense award) gave a wonderful opening keynote speech, in which she talked about her reading and writing journey. Helene was followed by book launches for Rachael Johns (The Road to Hope) and Shannon Curtis (Tribal Law). All proceeds from Tribal Law’s sales go to ARRA so if you haven’t yet nabbed a copy, go get! You’ll find across all major ebook platforms, including amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords or your favourite retailer. Or order the paperback from Booktopia.

Dangerous Liaisons panel at ARRC 2015. L-R: Cathryn Hein, Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

L-R: (a grumpy-looking) me, Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry (thanks to DB Tait for the pic)

The rest of my morning was taken up by the Red Dust Heroes panel with Rachael Johns, Lisa Ireland, Alissa Callen and myself, and superbly moderated by Jeanie Misko, followed by the Dangerous Liaisons panel where I was joined by Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and moderator with the mostest, Amanda Knight.

Saturday night was awards night, and what fun was had! The theme was roaring 20s (or something like that!) so there were lots of flappers.

Rach and me getting ready for the ARR Awards dinner at ARRC

Me and Rachael Johns getting ready for the awards dinner. A couple of glammypuss flappers!

Me with Red Sand Sunrise author and all-round gorgeous person Fiona McArthur showing off our sexy flapper outfits

Me with Red Sand Sunrise author and all-round gorgeous person Fiona McArthur, showing off our matching sexy flapper outfits.

Some of the crowd at the awards dinner.

Great crowd at the awards dinner!

Fiona Lowe, Shona Husk, Delwyn Jenkins and Cheryl Adnams all dressed up for the ARRC 2015 dinner

L-R: Fiona Lowe, Shona Husk, Delwyn Jenkins and Cheryl Adnams.

Kylie Scott (deserving winner of Australia’s Favourite Romance Author and more) sponsored a photo booth at the dinner where a lot of fun was had. Here’s my collection.

Pictures from the ARRC dinner photobooth

Another highlight of ARRC was the booksigning. This is such a great event and very well attended.

The booksigning room

Alyssa Montgomery, me and Trish Morey

Alyssa Montgomery, me and Trish Morey

Cathryn Hein and her blow-up horse at the ARRC 2015 booksigning

Me and Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse.

Sunday was another full-on but fun day. As mentioned, Victoria Dahl gave a great speech and there were plenty of fascinating panels to keep us perky after a big night.

Anna Campbell, Christina Brooke and me enjoying the romantic destinations panel

Anna Campbell, Christina Brooke and me enjoying the Romantic Destinations panel.

L-R: Kate Cuthbert (moderator), Margareta Osborn,  Cheryl Adnams, Barbara Hannay and Victoria Dahl.

L-R: Kate Cuthbert (moderator), Margareta Osborn, Cheryl Adnams, Barbara Hannay and Victoria Dahl on the Small Town Seduction panel.

Reader Jeanie Misko  enjoying the Changing Lanes panel at ARRC 2015, featuring Trish Morey and Fiona McArthur (plus Amy Andrews and Fiona Lowe out of shot).

Reader (and our fab Red Dust Heroes panel moderator) Jeanie Misko enjoying the Changing Lanes panel, with authors Trish Morey and Fiona McArthur in the background.

Overall, a wonderful time was had at ARRC 2015. Everyone left Canberra feeling fab except for poor Hot Chocolate, who was feeling very flat that it was all over.

Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse felt very flat that ARRC was over.

Never mind. We’ll resurrect him again in 2017!

If you’re after a romantic read that won’t let you down and would like a list of all the 2014 ARR Award winners, you’ll find them all on the ARRA blog.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: ARRC Part 1 – The Videos

Phew! What a weekend we all had at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere wonderful, the speakers and panelists clever, interesting and funny, but most of all what a thrill it was to catch up with so many lovers of romance novels. We’re an amazing bunch of people, that’s for sure.

The convention committee and Australian Romance Readers Association deserve every accolade for this event. It ran like clockwork from start to finish, and without fail everyone I spoke to enjoyed themselves hugely. I sure had a ball!

For the first time at an event I played roving reporter and took a series of videos of authors, readers and industry people. You can find them collated on my YouTube channel, but here are some of the best. Oh, and my apologies for the sound quality. Next time I’ll remember to pack a microphone!

Kylie Scott and Amy Andrews

For more on these best-selling ladies, check out these links.

Kylie Scott: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Latest release: Lead (Book 3 in her fab Stage Dive series).

Amy Andrews: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Latest release: Ask Me Nicely (which follows on from the super hot No More Mr Nice Guy).

Helene Young

Connect with Helene via her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Latest release: Safe Harbour (read it before Northern Heat hits the shelves!)

Rachael Johns

Discover more about Rachael at her website, on Twitter and via Facebook.

Latest release: The Road to Hope (the much-anticipated follow up from her best-selling debut, Jilted).

Jennie Jones

Connect with Jennie via her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Latest release: The House at the Bottom of the Hill (from Jennie’s best-selling Swallow’s Fall series begun with The House on Burra Burra Lane).

Lee Christine

Find out more about Lee at her website, on Twitter and Facebook.

Latest release: In Safe Keeping (an urban romantic suspense you won’t want to miss!)

Readers Helen and Barbara

Destiny Romance’s Carol George

Discover more on the Destiny Romance website.

Reader Pamela

Anna Campbell and Christina Brooke

For more on these fab authors, check out these links.

Anna Campbell: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Latest release: What A Duke Dares (another wonderful read in Anna’s Sons of Sin series.)

Christina Brooke: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Latest release: The Wickedest Lord Alive (brilliant book with a very strokable cover!)

Booktopia’s John Purcell

Want books? Then look no further than our home-grown bookstore Booktopia.

Hope you enjoyed the videos!

 

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Highlight Reads of 2014

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I read so many memorable books this year that it’s hard to choose which were my highlights but I’m going to give it a go, ending with a

Book Hangover Of The Year Award

for the book or series that left me totally bereft and rudderless on completion.

For more information or to buy any of the books, click on the headline or covers.

So… in no particular order, here they are!

Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle HawkinsCover of Dinner at Rose's

I adored this book. It was quirky, romantic and made me laugh and cry. And it featured a hot dairy farmer. Not to be missed Kiwi rural romance. (Hawkins’ second novel, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast, was also a beauty).

the-winter-brideThe Winter Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chance Sisters series has been wonderful so far but The Winter Bride is my favourite. Damaris and Freddy are such great characters. Following their journey to happily ever after was hugely satisfying. Please read this series. It will make your heart sing.

Marina by  Carlos Ruiz ZafónCover of Marina

I can’t rave about this book enough. I’m a huge Zafón fan. His gothic stories captivate from the opening page but for me this is his best. It was mesmerising.  The moment I finished I wanted to go back and read it all over again. Even typing this makes me want to reach for it. Runner-up for Book Hangover of the Year. Yeah, it was that good.

being-jadeBeing Jade by Kate Belle

A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. What a talent Belle is.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontzodd-thomas

Oh, this was fun. Spooky, quirky and perfectly paced. A rollicking ride through our hero Odd Thomas’s most interesting life. With bonus Elvis sightings.

holding-out-for-a-heroHolding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews

What a hoot! A sexy sportsman hero, a determined heroine and loads of memorable secondary characters. Wish Andrews would hurry up with the sequel.

daughter-of-smoke-and-boneDays of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

This trilogy (starting with Daughter of Smoke and Bone which I read in 2013) was amazing. The writing is lush, and the world-building and characterisations are first class. Absolute page-turners.

thornwood-houseThornwood House by Anna Romer

I’m a terrible sucker for a gothic story and this Australian-set tale didn’t disappoint. Romer has a distinctive and appealing writing voice, and the romance in this was subtle but very fulfilling. Her next, Lyrebird Hill, is near the top of my to-be-read pile.

Mr Impossible by Loretta Chasemr-impossible

No wonder this romance is considered a classic. It has everything. Great setting, amazing characters, adventurous plot, witty dialogue and a completely gorgeous romance. Not to be missed.

rivers-of-londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Like Harry Potter for grown-ups! Huge fun. I’ve already read the 2nd in this series, Moon Over Soho, and plan to keep going. It’s just too much fun to stop now.

Her Christmas Earl by Anna CampbellHer Christmas Earl

Maybe it was my mood, maybe it’s a result of reading a Christmas themed book on Christmas Eve but this has just shot to the top of my Anna Campbell favourites list. Who’d have thought being locked in a wardrobe could be so much fun?

 

And now for the big one…

My Book Hangover of the Year Award goes to

The Grisha Trilogy:

Shadow and Bone, Siege and Stormand Ruin and Rising

by Leigh Bardugo

Grisha 1.0

I gobbled these books one after the other and was so bereft after finishing this romantic fantasy series it took me nearly two weeks to settle into another book. I missed the characters dreadfully and if it weren’t for my gigantic to-be-read pile I would have gone back to the start and read it all over again. Stunning.

*

What were your highlight reads of 2014? I’d especially love to hear which one gave you the biggest book hangover so I can check it out myself. Unlike other hangovers, book ones are good for us!

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Greetings, Feasters! Don’t you just love Fridays? Especially when they feature super authors, scrumptious food and book giveaways.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. A two week break seemed to have done wonders… for 8 holes. Then it all fell apart. Like, REALLY apart. By the 18th I was having a severe attack of the sookybum-I-just-want-it-to-be-overs. I’m starting to think I should change my home course. Mine is costing a small fortune in water-dunked balls. Hmph.Author Amy Andrews

At least my darling Sydney Swans won and are now perched back where we belong at the top of the AFL ladder, although we ended our game against St Kilda with injury worries. Not the time of the year to be losing players, especially super stars like Josh Kennedy whom I luuuuurve.

Speaking of superstars – ha! – today on the blog we have awesome Aussie author and Australian Romance Reader Award winner Amy Andrews. Amy has written over forty romances, including the brilliant Holding Out For A Hero, which, if you haven’t read it, you should go fetch and devour now. It’s a blast.

Amy’s latest release is an urban-family romantic comedy and sounds a hoot. Take a look…

RISKY BUSINESS

Risky Business by Amy AndrewsSamantha Evans’s life is going to hell. Not only has she rage-quit her beloved, high-powered job, but she is suddenly afflicted by hormones, free time, and an unavoidable, unignorable, undeniably gorgeous irritant in the form of Nick Hawke, her extreme sports star neighbour, who has come home to take over the reins of his grandmother’s second-hand bookshop. Sam needs something to keep her from begging for her old job back until she’s good and sure her boss understands how wrong he was, and taking a low-risk, low-stress job helping Nick at the bookstore might be just the thing.

After all, it’s not like Nick is the right guy to help her with her hormones. He’ll just be fun to look at while she searches for the one.

Nick has six months to get over an injury before Everest and a big, fat contract beckon. That means no sports, no danger and, above all else, no risks. It means playing it safe. And Nick Hawke doesn’t do safe. So he’s going to need something to stave off the boredom while selling books he doesn’t read to people who wouldn’t know a carabineer from a crochet hook. What could be safer than hiring a cranky, unemployed accountant to help run the bookstore? Sam is efficient and methodical and messing up her neat, post-it note world could be a fun way to pass the time….

Risky Business mixes the classic romance of Philadelphia Story, the humour and wit of When Harry Met Sally, and a strong, contemporary Australian setting to create a delightful, irresistible, utterly satisfying treat of a novel.

Doesn’t that sound cool? And there’s a special offer on right now. Buy from the Mills & Boon website using code RWA14 at the checkout and you can have Risky Business for only 99 cents. How’s that for a bargain! Otherwise, you can insta-buy via Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now buckle up for another fun foodie ride with Amy.

Fantastic Food Faking

So, surprisingly, Cathryn has asked me back. Considering I’m one of those who finds cooking a chore I feel very blessed. Anyone who’s read my previous two blogs here knows that I subscribe to the food construction method of “cooking” and whilst that may be an okay thing to do in the privacy of your own home it is entirely another thing to put your slack-arse, slap-dash cooking ability up for critical viewing on a world-wide blog.

But hey, this is Cathryn’s little corner of the internet and we are all in the cone of silence. Right?

So…forthwith, the third instalment of my Clayton’s cooking efforts – the cooking you get when you’re not really cooking at all.

Clayton’s Cooking Part Three  Or Cathryn plying me with too much alcohol at RWA and asking me to do it with absolutely no recollection on my behalf…

Raspberry, Chocolate Mousse and Brandy Snap Tartlets

(yes, I just literally made up that name)

Sounds posh right? But don’t get too carried away – its easy peasy, consists of 4 ingredients and requires no actual oven being turned on! But it also looks spectacular and goes down a treat at parties!

Ingredients –

•             A box of Brandy Snap baskets.

Now…..long story. I went to buy these at the supermarket yesterday and was told they’re only a Christmas item (WTF – I’m sure I’ve bought them at other times???!) but never fear, we food constructors are nothing but versatile in our attempts to actually avoid cooking anything.

Anzac Biscuits

Any packet of round biscuits will work. I found these gourmet (special note – important part of food faking is buying the most expensive ingredients so they appear to be homemade) Anzac biscuits. Although I also used some plain chocolate ones as an experiment and Gingernuts work quite well also. The thinner the better!

Anzac biscuits

•             A tub of Chocolate Mousse.

Chocolate mousse

You can of course make your own but splash out on an expensive brand and put your feet up for the hour it would have taken you to make one! I used a posh Belgian chocolate brand from my supermarket fridge section.

•             Punnet of fresh Raspberries.

Raspberries

•             Icing Sugar to garnish.

•             Zap the biscuits individually in the microwave (special note – the microwave is a food constructors best friend) for approx 30 secs but you may have to experiment to get it just soft and pliable enough to push into a cupcake pan. Don’t worry if it breaks up – just push it in and mush it together as you go while its nice and warm. Repeat until you have as many as you need or run out of biscuits.

Brandy Snap Baskets

•             Leave to cool for ten minutes. The biscuits will have re-moulded into a basket shape and will slip easily out of the pan.

•             Fill with mousse.

•             Top with raspberries.

•             Dust with icing sugar.

Tartlets

And hey presto – they’re done!  Look fab, taste amazing and it’s taken less than half an hour!

You’re welcome 🙂

 

Don’t they sound delicious? And how easy! Even my inner food snob (who I like to keep well-slapped down these days) is drooling. I bet these go down a treat at parties, as Amy says. What’s not to like? They even have fruit to make them healthy.

I’ll tell you what is else good and healthy, a…

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite way to cheat with party food? Do you buy in mini sausage rolls and pies? Perhaps you’ve been known to take bought dips and add a few secret touches so they appear home-made? I have to admit I’ve done that before…

Reveal your secrets and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of Amy’s new release Risky Business. Guaranteed great fun!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 26th August 2014. E-book only. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @AmyAndrewsbooks. Amy has also just started a newsletter. Sign up for up-to-date details on new releases and giveaways.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Shelley who will soon be laughing her socks of with her ebook copy of Amy’s Risky Business. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. As always, you were a joy. See you again soon!