Tag Archives: Australian Romance Reader Awards

Teaser Tuesday!

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo | iBooks |Google Play |Barnes & Noble Nook

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

 

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This Writing Life: Hot Chocolate Rides Again. Well, almost.

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It’s Friiiiiidaaaay, and that means I’m in Melbourne for the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Convention. Rah!

Registrations for the convention have closed but you can still come to the book signing at Bobby McGees at Rydges Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, between 4 and 6 pm where you can chat with all your favourite authors, get your books signed, buy latest releases or just mingle and enjoy the buzz.

Breaking News

And in breaking news, if you drop by my table you’ll be able to meet the new, improved, all singing, all-dancing cousin to the late and sadly missed, blow-up wonder horse Hot Chocolate!

Eh hem.

Perhaps I should clarify.

In March 2015, I travelled to Canberra for the Australian Romance Readers Convention, arriving a day early because I wanted to take in the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

The exhibition was in its final days and the gift shop was offering great discounts on their stock items. One of these happened to be an inflatable horse. I was on my way back to my room via the bar when I was waylaid by some author friends (eyeballing you, Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter) and on discovering I’d bought a blow-up horse, they insisted it be inflated (see piccies here and here). Kylie Scott then christened the horse Hot Chocolate.

Since then, Hot Chocolate has followed me to every book signing event, packed flat in my suitcase and then inflated back to gorgeousness when needed. It wasn’t long before a book signing didn’t feel like a proper book signing without Hot Choc perched on my table.

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

Me and Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse.

Alas, Hot Chocolate wasn’t a hardy soul. Besides some serious conformation issues, he was rather thin skinned, and at the ARR Awards in Sydney in 2016 he sprang a major leak.

Naturally I pulled out all stops in my efforts to save him – as was outlined in this blog post: The Great Hot Chocolate Emergency – but on arrival at the ARRA booksigning in Adelaide August last year, it was obvious that Hot Chocolate’s injuries were catastrophic. Sadly, the decision was made to humanely dispatch him to that great horsey heaven in the sky.

Since then, I’ve been scouring the world for a replacement and discovered some mighty beasts (did you know you can get life-sized inflatable horses? I want one soooooo badly!) but none captured my heart until I discovered this little fellow.

He may be small, but what he lacks in height he sure makes up for in entertainment value.

Take a look!

Isn’t he the coolest?

So, if you’re in Melbourne this Saturday and can make it to the ARRC booksigning, please drop by my table and say hello. We’d love to see you!

 

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This Writing Life: I’m an Australian Romance Reader Awards Finalist

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Silly Wayward Heart gif

Wheeeeeeee!

I am so, so chuffed right now. Not only is it my birthday but I’m an Australian Romance Reader Award finalist in 3 categories. THREE! How cool is that?

Both SANTA AND THE SADDLER and WAYWARD HEART are finalists in the Favourite Contemporary Romance category, and I’m up for Favourite Australian Romance Author 2016.

And something I’m particularly thrilled with, WAYWARD HEART is a finalist in the member’s choice category of Favourite Cover from a Romance Published in 2016.

I love that cover and it’s such a delight to know others do too. Have you read the interview with actress and model Kate Swan about the photo shoot for it? That’s great fun.

Check out all the finalists on the ARRA blog.  As you’ll see, I’m in amaaaaaazing company.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner, held at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne on Saturday 25 February 2017. If you’re in town, why not join us? It’ll be a blast!

 

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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.

*

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: Finalist Fabulousness!

The Australian Romance Reader Awards finalists were announced last Friday and I was thrilled and honoured to be listed two categories: Favourite Australian Romance Author 2015 and Favourite Cover From A Romance Published In 2015 with Summer and the Groomsman. Yay!

happy gif

Seeing as Friday was my birthday, that was a very, very nice present.

Thanks to everyone who nominated me and Summer and the Groomsman. I’m grateful and humbled, and did I mention thrilled to bits? If I weren’t trying to be good at the moment, I’d crack some celebratory fizz, but we’ll save that for another day.

If you’d like to see the full list of finalists, you’ll find them on the Australian Romance Readers Association blog. And if you’re looking for your next great read, why not try an author or book from the lists? You’ll be guaranteed of a top-notch read and help our home-grown talent.

Winners will be announced at the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner, Cello’s Restaurant, Sydney on Saturday 19th March.  Hope to see you there!

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Australian Romance Reader Awards Finalist!

2014 ARRA finalist badgeWheeee! Yesterday the Australian Romance Reader Awards finalists were published and I was thrilled to bits to be included, especially with such amazing company.

ROCKING HORSE HILL is up for Favourite Contemporary Romance, THE FRENCH PRIZE is on the Favourite Romantic Suspense list and I’m super chuffed to be up for Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014.

Thanks so, so much to everyone who nominated me and my books. It’s a delight and an honour. You can find the full list of finalists on the ARRA blog.

Winners will be announced on March 7th in Canberra at the Australian Romance Readers Convention awards dinner. If you love romance novels and talking books and have yet to register for this event, please do! It’s a truly wonderful weekend. You’ll make lovely new friends, discover new authors, meet your favourites, have the chance to collect and win all sorts of goodies, and return home warm with laughter and great memories.

Find all the details at the ARRA website or click on the banner below. Hope to see you there!

ARRC2015+banner+KNs

 

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!

FRIDAY FEAST with Christina Phillips

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And another fantastic Friday rolls around. This week I’ll actually get some Swans footy!

With my darling boys having a bye last week it was all a bit colourless in the Hein house, although the neighbours were probably grateful. No mad yelling at the telly to put up with. There was the Open golf, of course, but that’s not really a sport to get yelly on the couch about, is it?

Which brings me to some Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Despite not playing to the handicap I already have, I somehow managed to shave another stroke off it over the weekend. ‘Tis this newfangled Slope/GA Handicap system. It can sneak up and bite you on the bum and not even offset the pain with a win!

Speaking of winning, this could be you on Friday Feast this week. But more on that later…

Today’s guest is Christina Phillips, an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her high school sweetheart and their family. Christina writes scorching-hot paranormal, historical and contemporary romance. Not only are her stories super steamy, they’re gorgeously written, which is why she’s a triple finalist in the 2013 ARRA Awards for Favorite Erotic Romance, and finalist in the 2012 ARRA Awards for Favorite Paranormal Romance. Christina is a also a double finalist in the EC Golden Ankh Awards for Favorite E-book of the Year 2014.

Check out Christina’s latest release, Her Vengeful Scot.

HER VENGEFUL SCOT

Her Vengeful ScotTo avenge his sister’s honor, he must destroy the woman he wants most in the world…

Ordered to remain in Pictland, Cameron MacNeil fights the lust that consumes him whenever he encounters the aloof princess, Elise. Not only is she a cursed Pict, she belongs to the man he has vowed vengeance upon.

Despite her reputation, Elise has no interest in men until she meets Cameron. Lacking the famed Scots charm, his blunt ways enchant her and he ignites a passion she long thought dead. When she is freed from her difficult marriage, Elise places her trust in the tough Scot warrior who has stolen her heart.

Bound by blood oaths, the only way Cam can protect Elise from political schemes is to make her his bride. When Elise discovers the truth, she fears everything she knew about her husband was a lie. All she can do is trust her goddess was right and Cameron is her one true love.

Go on, admit it. You’re after a bit of hot Scot right now, aren’t you? So get clicking! Buy Her Vengeful Scot right now from Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, All Romance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, or the publisher Ellora’s Cave,

All loaded up? Excellent. Now give a big welcome to Christina.

Hunting Out Good Food

Thank you Cathryn for inviting me onto your Friday Feast today!

Well over in WA it’s been both cold and wet (I know I should be used to this kind of weather since I hail from England but uh, no.) So I thought today I’d share a yummy winter meal that my mum used to make when I was a child. She only made it on rare occasions, probably because it takes two and a half hours prep time (excuse me while I laugh hysterically at this point! And never fear, this version takes about 10 minutes prep time which is not only far more civilized but also about my limit!!)

We knew it as Chicken Hunter Style and to my shame it was only when I was an adult that I realised it was an Italian dish by the far more exotic name of Chicken Cacciatore 🙂

There are of course many variations of this dish, including adding various peppers. I don’t bother adding peppers to anything since my darling family will meticulously fish out every single one on their plates before they can take the first bite. On the other hand I do add celery because I love cooked celery even though said beloved family… don’t 🙂

Chicken Hunter Style Recipe

Chicken Hunter Style

One four pound chicken cut into pieces

Salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 thinly sliced medium onion

226g thickly sliced mushrooms

2 thinly sliced garlic cloves

1/3 cup red or white wine

1 810g can of plum tomatoes in their juice (or 21/2 to 3 cups of peeled and chopped firm ripe tomatoes with their juices. Guess which I do…)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dry thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)

1 teaspoon dry oregano (or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped)

Method

Rinse, pat dry and season chicken with salt. Heat oil on medium heat and brown the chicken pieces. Set chicken aside.

Add sliced onions and mushrooms to the pan (and any peppers or celery 🙂 ) Cook until onions are translucent then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the wine and give it a good stir. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half and then add the tomatoes and stir in the pepper, thyme, oregano and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Place chicken pieces on top, skin side up, lower the heat and cover with the lid slightly ajar.

Cook on a low simmer, turning and basting from time to time, until chicken is tender (about 30 to 40 minutes).

 

Ah, now there’s a lovely fast recipe to keep the hordes happy this winter. Thanks, Christina. I can just imagine this with a load of crusty bread to mop up all the juices. Mmm.

Speaking of juicy things, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Christina is very generously offering one lucky reader the chance to win an ebook copy ofhersavagescott_msr the first in her Highland Warrior Series, Her Savage ScotAll you have to do is tell us in the comments what your favourite casserole is. Easy!

Perhaps you’re a bit partial to an Irish stew, or lean toward the spicy with some chilli con carne. Maybe a vegetarian stew is your go? Share, and we’ll pop you into the draw to win an ebook copy of Her Savage Scot.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 29th July 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Christina and her wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @christinaPh_

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Meredith who has won her own sizzling hot Scot! Thanks to everyone for playing along. Always a hoot!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Shona Husk

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Oof, it’s been a big week. So much to catch up on after my trip away to South Australia and western Victoria but a very lovely time was had so all worth it.

We have an excellent guest on Friday Feast today, and a regular, but first you must endure Author Shona HuskUs Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news because I’m chuffed. Chuffed, I tell you!

Yes, I played well enough last week to lose an entire stroke off my handicap. Whee! Lots of long puts sunk and I only hit one ball into a dam. Marvels!

Which gives me a very nice segue back to today’s Friday Feast guest because she is a true marvel. Why? Because Shona Husk gave us TOBLERONE BROWNIES! Plus she’s a pretty awesome author. Shona is a three-time Australian Romance Reader Award finalist and best-selling author of multiple contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi romances (her Shadowlands series is fantastic). Whatever tickles your romantic fantasy, Shona has a book for you.

Her latest release is The Changeling Soldier. Check it out.

THE CHANGELING SOLDIER

Cover of The Changeling Soldier by Shona HuskHer time in the mortal world is running out…

After fleeing Annwyn three centuries ago, Ella built a life in the mortal world making gowns for European royalty and playing in mortal intrigues. Now those Courts are long gone, and she dresses Hollywood starlets. Mortals come and go, but Ella always ends up alone. She longs for the home she left behind.

He’s been dreaming of the coming battle all his life…

Isaac Norton is a returned soldier. Now home, he’s restless and his recurring dream is becoming more frequent: he’s fighting on a snow-covered field stained with blue blood. When he sees Ella, he knows she isn’t human. And she knows what he is, a changeling.

Ella can give Isaac the answers he needs, but there will be a price to pay: his soul.

Ooh, now there’s a story with a lot at stake! The Changeling Soldier releases June 3rd but you can pre-order it right now for a measly 99 cents. What a bargain! Order the ebook from Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble for Nook, All Romance eBooks or you can buy a print version from  Amazon or Createspace.

Go on! It’s 99 cents and you’ll have a cracking time!

Speaking of a cracking time, here’s Shona.

My Favourite Cookbooks

I love cooking, not the huge labor intensive dinner party style cooking, but the sling it together with love style of cooking. Simple and delicious. It should be no surprise that one of my favorite cookbooks is Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals (No, I have never cracked the 15 minute mark but it’s still something I aim for).

Cathryn: Neither have I with the 30 Minute, Shona, but it’s still fast-ish and the results are pretty tasty!

I also love that I can hand his 15 and 30 minute meals books to the kids and they can select the menu for the week (as an added bonus if they don’t like it I can remind them that they picked it).

My other favorite cookbook is one I was given for Christmas (I might have suggested that was what I wanted). Silvia’s Cucina is full of Italian yumminess. I started with the desserts, then moved my way to gnocci and pasta before trying bread. OMG! I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since January.

While I’ve had a bread machine for over a decade it was never great for sandwiches and the texture wasn’t quite right. Silvia’s bread is awesome. I love the overnight no knead recipe (it has 3 ingredients!) and the kids like her soft crust yoghurt bread. Silvia’s Cucina has been a great addition to my library. While many of these recipes are a little more time consuming, slow roasted goat and Nona’s polenta and pork ribs are so worth the wait—and perfect for making on the weekend.

Lastly Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner. This is another one that I can hand to the kids so they can choose the meals. Potato and corn chowder is very popular, as it the banana bread (although I must confess taking out half the walnuts and swapping them with choc chips).

I can’t leave without sharing a recipe, this is one my sister sent me and it’s for no bake chocolate slice. From ihearexercisewillkillyou.com (my notes are in italics, this recipe is also super easy to halve if you are running out of things but still want a sweet treat, it’s also super rich so cut small squares!)

The Best No-Bake Bars You’ll Ever Eat

1 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy)

1/2 cup honey (um, I never actually measure I do it by eye as it’s less of a PITA)

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor) (health food shop)

2 cups dry oats (not instant) (I use rolled, I’m guessing that’s the same as dry as it turns out fine)

1 C shredded coconut

1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (200g of 85% Lindt is awesome)

1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9×13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it’s set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!

***

While I do use the internet to find recipes, it’s not the same as flicking through a book and feeling inspired to try something new. What are your favorite family (and time friendly) recipe books?

 

Oh, that’s easy…*trots off to survey collection* … er, perhaps not so easy after all. I love all my cookbooks. Some I read for fun and inspiration but never really cook out of, others I try loads of things. Probably my most used is Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. There are some cracking recipes in there like lahmacun (a delicious lamb pizza type dish) and pollo alla diavola. And tonight I’m making the lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. I agree with Shona about Jamie Oliver too. If you’re time pressed, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals has some pretty tasty recipes in it. Try the piri-piri chicken and the stuffed Cypriot chicken. Plenty of others to play with too.

What about you? What’s your favourite cookbook? Share the love. I’m sure we could all do with another on our shelves. Although don’t tell my other half that!

If you’d like to learn more about Shona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @ShonaHusk or sign up to her newsletter for all the latest releases.

FRIDAY FEAST with Anne Gracie

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It’s that day of the week again, the one where we celebrate all things bookish and foody on the incomparable(!) Friday Feast.

I’m rather excited about this week’s guest too, because not only does she pen wonderfully warm and smile-inducing books, she’s a lovely lady as well.

And, STOP PRESS: She’s a Romance Writers of America RITA NOMINEE!

Anne Gracie

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It was not my finest decision to attempt to walk 18 holes of golf in horrible humidity the afternoon after the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner. Ugly doesn’t even begin the describe my play. Balls were drowned in dams. Swear words were uttered. And if that wasn’t enough, a crow pinched my brand new ball on the fourth. Again. I’m really beginning to hate those birds…

Now onto the also incomparable Anne Gracie! Anne writes GORGEOUS historical romances that truly warm the heart. Her new series features the Chance sisters, with the second The Winter Bride just released. I finished reading the first, The Autumn Bride, only yesterday and can’t tell you the fun I had. Anne’s books make me smile. A lot.

Take a look at The Winter Bride. I so, so, so want to read this!

THE WINTER BRIDE

The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree uncomplicated fun.

Handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes —pursued by muffins, with a view to marriage — finds himself about to be trapped in an untenable situation by his match-making parents, and pays Damaris to enter into a faux betrothal. But then an accident throws them into a compromising situation, and they’re both forced to reevaluate their position.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

With a 4 1/2 star Top Pick from Romantic Times, this is the second in the Chance sister’s series. Publishers Weekly  called it “charming,” and Kirkus Reviews said: “A romantic winner, with Gracie’s typical witty charm and sweeping emotion.”

Seriously, if you haven’t tried Anne then you MUST. Her books are like warm cuddly blankets. You can buy the print version of The Winter Bride now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Bookdepository, Fishpond, Barnes & Noble or your local independent book shop or chain store. Purchase the ebook from Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook reseller.

Time for some fun with Anne. Enjoy!

Pursued By Muffins, With A View To Marriage

What’s that, you say? Pursued by muffins?

Yes, muffins. In the words of Freddy, my bad-boy hero in The Winter Bride, muffins are: “Females. Eligible females. Seriously marriage-minded eligible females, usually of the reforming type.” Here’s a taste of the Winter Bride:

Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. That was Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl thought he meant these blasted bun things. She had him served with them each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.

He picked up a muffin, hefted it lightly and eyed the fire with a narrowed gaze. It was a good blaze, strong enough to reduce a muffin to ash in a short time.

But would there be an incriminating smell?

He raised the muffin, aimed and was about to toss it in the fire when feminine footsteps sounded in the hall. He dropped the muffin, turned toward the open doorway and saw four smartly dressed females advancing toward him, smiling.

The hairs on the back of his neck rose. Why the devil were they grinning at him like that? What did they know? What did they want?

He had a powerful urge to flee.

So naturally when it came to deciding what food to talk about on Friday Feast, I had to choose muffins.

For a long time the only muffins I knew were the kind you toasted. My first experience of the other kind was many years ago when I was backpacking in the USA — I ordered a toasted muffin and coffee for breakfast.
The waiter eyed me suspiciously. “We don’t toast muffins.”
“Ok,” I said.
He came back with a large cupcake. “I didn’t order this,” I told him. “I asked for a muffin.”
He rolled his eyes at my ignorance. “Ma’am, that IS a muffin.”

So on with the recipe, and I’m sure there will be a few shrieks because actually it’s a friand recipe and I know a friand isn’t really a muffin, but… well, I made these and they’re yummy and easy and I did cook them in a muffin tray. And they look like muffins.

Friands

Friands

 

Ingredients:

175g (1 1/4 cups) pure icing sugar

75g (1/2 cup) plain flour

155g (1 1/2 cups) ground almonds (hazelnuts are yummy too)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

180g butter, melted & cooled a little

150g frozen blueberries (or raspberries or any berries really)

2 tbs flaked almonds

(I was v. liberal with both the blueberries and the flaked almonds)

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a muffin tray and dust with a little plain flour.

2) Sift icing sugar and flour, add the ground almonds, then stir in eggs and melted butter. Mix until just combined.

3) Stir in half the blueberries.

4) Distribute mixture between the muffin moulds. Plop a few remaining blueberries on top of each one and sprinkle with flaked almonds

5) Bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

6) You can dust them with icing sugar to serve, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

* For gluten-free types, I have made these with gluten-free flour and they’re just as yummy.

 

Thanks, Anne! Those friands sound delicious. And healthy, too. Anything with fruit has to be.

US cover for The Winter Bride

US cover for The Winter Bride

Just the thing to kick back with a book and a nice cuppa.

At the risk of doing another fangirl rave, I loved that excerpt from The Winter Bride. Freddy cracked me up in The Autumn Bride with all his muffin chatter. He sounds such FUN.

GIVEAWAY!

Oh, we love a generous author on Friday Feast and Anne is no exception. Here’s your chance to win a paperback copy of The Winter Bride. Simply answer this question: What is your favourite thing to have with a cuppa? Reply in the comments and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 1st April 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Anne and her books – which you do! – please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @AnneGracie and Facebook.

Go Anne in the RITAs!

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Tami who has won a copy of Anne’s The Winter Bride. A lovely reading time ahead! Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. I hope you come back again for some more foody-booky goodness!