Tag Archives: Australian Romance Readers Convention

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.



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: The Australian Romance Readers Convention 2017

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Ooh, I do love a good get-together and the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne didn’t disappoint. It was a weekend packed with panels, gala events, keynote speakers and socialising. Everyone had a ball, from authors to readers to industry.

Hanging with your tribe… honestly, there’s nothing quite so affirming and though I came home absolutely stuffed I’m still on a high. ARRA events are loaded with positivity and warmth, but that should come as no surprise. We’re romance fans!

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the organising committee: Debbie Phillips, Heather Kopp, Diane Robson, Pamela Diaz and Juliette Arthur. You created an amazing event that I hope you’re very proud of.

The ARRC 2017 organising committee.

My heartfelt thanks to the ARRC organising committee. Three cheers, huge applause and a big champagne toast to you all.

My sincere thanks also to the ARRA committee and to all the volunteers involved in the running of ARRC 2017.

I have so many highlights I don’t know where to start but I enjoyed the screening of the Love Between the Covers documentary about the billion dollar romance fiction industry hugely. I think I’m going to have to buy a copy so I can watch it again.

Keynote speakers Courtney Milan, Kylie Scott and Kristen Callihan were also wonderful to listen to. I love hearing about other writers’ lives and journeys, and how they approach their books. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Hot Choc Mark IIThe booksigning was a hoot, as always, and it was great to chat to so many readers, some of whom were new to me and some who now feel like old friends. Everyone laughed at the new, improved Hot Chocolate and he didn’t break down once. I think we might be on a winner with this little-but-loud horsey mascot.

The Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner was a wonderful night, and I was so thrilled for Anne Gracie who pretty much swept the pool. The Summer Bride and the Chance Sisters series were truly gorgeous and her wins were well deserved. You can find a full list of the finalists here and all the winners here.

I was even more thrilled when Wayward Heart won favourite cover. That was so cool! I love that cover to bits and it was such a rush to find others love it too. Thanks to everyone who voted for it. Enormous thanks also to editor Rachael Donovan for going with the idea and the Harlequin designers for their outstanding layout. If you missed the blog post where Wayward Heart’s cover model Kate Swan reveals all about the shoot and her sexy partner Jack, you’ll find it here. It’s great fun.

I was a bit slack on the photo taking front this time – too busy talking! But I managed to snap a few on my phone. Not the best of quality (sorry) but one thing all the photos show is what a brilliant event this was and the terrific time everyone had.


Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Keynote Speakers

Courtney Milan's keynote address at ARRC was excellent.

Courtney Milan’s keynote address at ARRC was excellent. I particularly enjoyed her comments about issues such as cultural appropriation and diversity in romance.

Keynote speaker at ARRC17 Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott knows what kind of images turn romance readers on!

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.


Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur at ARRC 17

Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster at ARRC17

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster

Emily Madden at ARRC17

Emily Madden

Fiona Lowe at ARRC17

Fiona Lowe

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair at ARRC17

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair

Kylie Scott at ARRC17

Kylie Scott

Lisa Ireland at ARRC17

Lisa Ireland

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson at ARRC17

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet at ARRC17

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis at ARRC17

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis

TM Clark at ARRC17

TM Clark

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott at ARRC17

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott

Harlequin Author Drinks

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Australian Romance Reader Awards Dinner

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. ARRC17

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. Love those cowboy boots!

Meeting reader Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner.

I was delighted to meet fan Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner. That was a great moment.

Wayward Heart's Favourite Cover Award.

Wayward Heart’s Favourite Cover Award. Wheee!

Panels and Other Miscellany

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating.

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating. I enjoyed this a lot. Everyone had insightful comments and I was fascinated by Pamela’s mention of the controversy around her Hendra virus themed book Close To Home. I was also lucky enough to win a copy of Charlotte’s The Horseman. Rah!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower.

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower by husband and wife team Gillie and Marc. They also created the pit pony at Collinsville, some of the sculptures at Finger Wharf that I also featured on the blog, and the wonderful buried rhino at last year’s Sculpture by the Sea.

Lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson's new restaurant Long Chim at Crown.

The leftovers of lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson’s new restaurant Long Chim at Crown. Amaaaaazing. The Sydney version in Angel Place is now in my sights cos as we all know, a girl can never indulge in enough lunches!

I hope you enjoyed this look at the weekend. If you’d like to join the Australian Romance Readers Association and have opportunities like this to hang with friendly, like-minded people then please check out the ARRA website.


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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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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress, and occasionally invite author friends to play.

This coming Friday the 2107 Australian Romance Readers Convention kicks off in Melbourne at Rydges and I can’t wait! This is a convention focused on readers, and the joy of chatting to people who adore the genre and are enthusiastic about it is huge. It’ll also be lovely to catch up with author buddies who I usually only get to chat to online.

I’ll be at the convention all weekend so please come up and say hi. I promise to be friendly! You can also catch me at the booksigning at Bobby McGees from 4 pm – 6 pm on Saturday, on a speed date on Sunday morning at 11 am, and on the Regular Joes panel at 1-30 pm with Jennie Jones, Kelly Hunter and Joanne Dannon, with Penelope Janu moderating. For other panels and events, check out the convention program.

The Regular Joes panel has had me thinking about characters and the kind of heroes I like to read and to create. It doesn’t take much thought to work out that for my rural romances I like to write about ordinary, Aussie blokes. The sort who play footy and cricket, who like to have a beer with their mates and their dads, who adore their families and are loyal, kind and honest. Pretty much the same as most of the men in my life.

Most of all they must love the heroine with a fierceness that tells you they would move the world to make sure she’s never hurt and that she’s always happy. Which is what we all want I suppose. Someone – man or woman – who adores us despite all our human failings and idiosyncrasies. Who sees us as special and precious and a person to be cherished. And this in turn makes them special.

I could go on, but this is a Teaser Tuesday and I need to get teasing. But I am going to share a little of one of my favourite regular Joe characters – Matt from Heartland.

Matt sees himself as just a normal bloke who has a dream of being a farmer. But he’s also been a soldier, one who’s been wounded in Afghanistan and lost mates in conflict. He’s had a difficult upbringing, with distant career-obsessed parents who use money to show love. And he’s been badly hurt in the past, by the heroine Callie’s sister no-less, yet he has never lost the hope that one day he will find the right girl. And when he does, he’s going to cherish her forever. Which is kinda gooey-making to my thinking, but in my defence I am a romance author. These things are meant to make me gooey!

Anyway, here’s a sample of Matt being sexy and seductive with Callie while undertaking the mundane chore of stripping house paint.


After a brief discussion, they decided it was best to tackle the worst parts first, even if it did mean working in the sun. After taking it in turns to regrease themselves with sunscreen, they carted their equipment to the badly weathered western side of the house. Declaring that the tool-bringer gets to decide who uses it, he banished Callie to Wal’s low-set scaffold and took over the under eaves work on the ladder.

Heartland - Australia and New Zealand cover

Australia and New Zealand cover

‘What are you looking so pleased about?’ she asked when she caught him grinning down at her.


She narrowed her eyes and pointed her scraper at him. ‘You’re up to something.’

He feigned innocence. ‘Me? Never.’

Callie watched him for a moment before resuming her work. A minute later a flake of paint dropped between her breasts. She frowned and picked it out only for another to hit her shoulder.

‘Great view from up here,’ he said, one eye closed as he aimed another paint scrap at her chest.

Heartland - rest of the world cover

Rest of the world cover

The scrap stuck on the swell of her right breast. She picked it off, rolling her eyes.

‘Very schoolboy.’

‘I can be very adult if you want.’

Callie did want. Scraping this side of the house was a mistake. She was hot, sweaty, bored and, after a week of non-stop work, in need of some fun. She gave him one of her sideways looks, mouth quirking in an ‘I dare you’ smile.

He sobered fast. ‘Keep that up and there’ll be consequences.’

‘Oh, yeah. What sort of consequences?’

‘Like I said, keep that up and you’ll find out.’


Heartland is now available worldwide in e-book and print. Purchase now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, Kobo, Booktopia, Bookdepository, Fishpond or your favourite book retailer.

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


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THIS WRITING LIFE: The Great Hot Chocolate Emergency

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Some of you may know that since the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra in March 2015 I’ve been carting around an inflatable horse to events. His name is Hot Chocolate and I bought him on sale from the gift shop at the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at National Museum for the princely sum of $5.

Here he is at his naming ceremony, with me and historical romance author Anne Gracie in the bar (naturally) at the QT Hotel in Canberra.

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

I think it’s fair to say that Hot Chocolate is not a quality steed. His conformation is appalling and he squeaks like a mouse when you squeeze his off-hind leg, but he’s fun and I like carting him around.

Here he is at his first book signing.

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

So it was with huge disappointment to discover on the morning of this year’s Australian Romance Reader’s Awards in March that Hot Chocolate had sprung a leak. There was no keeping air in him and it left both of us feeling very flat.

A saggy and flat feeling Hot Chocoalate

I took him home afterward with the great intention of finding his hole and patching him up. Alas, I forgot all about it until I suddenly realised I have the ARRA booksigning in Adelaide this Saturday and risked attending with NO HOT CHOCOLATE. We couldn’t have that. It’d put a jinx on everything.

Bathtub to the rescue!

Hot Chocolate being tested in the bathtub

Oh, did that horsey bubble. He had a giant hole in his chest seam and I thought it was curtains for poor old Hot Choc but a band-aid and a bit of sticky tape later and he’s all good. Not pretty, mind, but Hot Choc will at least be going to the party.

The hole in Hot Chocolate's chest

Emergency veterinary treatment for Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate rides again!

If you’re in Adelaide this Saturday, 20th August, come and see me and over 60 other romance authors at the Stamford Grand in Glenelg. The event runs from 5pm for an hour and we’d love you to come along for a natter and get your books signed. You can also purchase books at the event. For full details visit the Australian Romance Readers Association website.

You’ll even be able to pat Hot Chocolate!


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THIS WRITING LIFE: Spirited – Australia’s Horse Story

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While I was visiting Canberra the other week for the Australian Romance Readers Convention, I was fortunate enough to catch the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Museum of Australia before it closed.

Being horse-mad from birth, I can’t resist the call of anything equine and the museum was only a pleasant stroll around the edge of Lake Burley Griffin from the QT Hotel where the convention was being held. A sunny autumn day, some horsey goodness… perfect.

The museum released a great video of the exhibition which is well worth a look. It certainly got me excited!

It was rather thrilling to be confronted with more video on entrance to the exhibition, this time showing wild brumbies in action. An elderly man, who said he used to help his dad break brumbies, and I stood mesmerised by the footage in warm, horse-loving companionship. We were so entranced we watched the video loop through twice. Even when I left to take in the main exhibits, he stayed on. I don’t think he wanted to leave.

Video still of brumbies at the Spirited exhibition

As expected, the exhibition was a trove of interesting artefacts and information. Look at this: A first edition of The Silver Brumby alongside Elyne Mitchell’s typewriter.

Typewriter used by Elyne Mitchell and a first edition copy of The SIlver Brumby

The first displays were interesting, focusing on colonial life and the important role horses played in the development of the colony and agriculture. Horses were uncommon in the early years of settlement. A few arrived with the first fleet, but according to the museum guide book by 1791 only one stallion, one mare and two colts survived, and horses remained scarce for several decades.

There were some wonderful artefacts on display from Springfield station, near Goulburn, including this magnificent dress harness fitted with the Faithfull family crest.

Carriage harness with Faithfull family crest decoration from Springfield station.

From Burrungurroolong station, also near Goulburn, came this wonderful rocking horse. I would have killed for something like this as a kid. That’s a go-fast rocking horse if ever there was one!

Wooden rocking horse from Burrungurroolong station.

I thought this carved-out log trough was amazing too. Imagine the hard work involved in its creation.

Carved log feed trough.

I also really liked this forging anvil, which was used by blacksmith Samuel Sinclair, who arrived in Bermagui in 1904 to set up shop after having served as a farrier in the Boer War. I know it’s hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was HUGE and weighed 348 kilograms.

Forging anvil.

My favourite display was probably the trophy cabinet. This contained, among other things, the 1866 Melbourne Cup won by The Barb, and is our earliest known intact cup. Initially, the Melbourne Cup was a prize – a gold watch or cash – and the first actual cup was awarded only in 1865, which makes this version particularly precious. The other two trophies are the 1867 Melbourne Cup and Queen’s Plate won by Tim Whiffler. Apparently two horses called Tim Whiffler competed in the Cup that year, with ‘Sydney Tim’ taking the prize, along with the Queen’s Plate two days later.

Ornate Melbourne Cups and Queens Plate

The exhibition had its quirky items too. Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s Jackson, a toy horse used in the 2007 alternate Birdsville races when an outbreak of equine influenza caused a ban on the movement of horses and shut down the normal event. In typical outback fashion, the show went on, with mock races fielded with stuffed toys.

Jackson, the stuffed toy Birdsville races competitor

And more quirky exhibits. An inkwell made from a horse’s hoof. This makes me think of the snuffbox the British made from Marengo’s hoof, Napoleon’s favourite warhorse, and was presented to the Household Brigade.

Hoof inkwell.

There was even an old horse-drawn dairy carriage, circa 1947, complete with poo (out of shot, unfortunately). One of the plaques told a great story of a bakery horse who was so habitualised that it simply set off on his route when flu kept its driver from turning up to work.

Lincoln Park Dairy delivery cart

This sculpture had so much life, and was (ironically?) surrounded by anatomical specimens, including bits of Phar Lap.

Wire man and horse sculpture

There was much, much more in the exhibition, including information on breeds in Australia, a fascinating video on the use of the whip in horse racing, medals from Olympics and other major events, pony club tales and photos (rah!), and pieces on all the various equestrian sports Australians compete in, from dressage to campdrafting and everything in between.

Definitely worth the visit but for those who missed it, never fear! The National Museum of Australia has pages and pages on its website about the exhibition. There are photos, videos, and deeper stories about horses in Australia. You can spend ages on there. A fantastic resource for those who love horses or are simply interested in our history.

And here’s my souvenir from the exhibition: Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse. What a steed!


Not quite the real thing but at least he’s house trained, doesn’t eat much, and packs away flat. Sadly, he will never, ever compete with this darling. Not in my eyes.

Cathryn as a little girl with Mysty

My first horse, the romantically named Mysty. Best horse evah. Sigh.

Yep, once a horse-girl, always a horse-girl!


FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

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Greetings, lovely people, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re coming up roses with one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, plus a recipe for the cake everyone adores, chocolate!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Or not. Thanks to a weekend of fun and fiction at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra I didn’t play. I did, however, score a blow-up horse, duly christened Hot Chocolate by the QT barflies. See? There’s always a silver lining!

Photo of Margareta OsbornBut on to rosier things…

With her debut novel Bella’s Run fifth generation farmer Margareta Osborn quickly established herself as one of Australia’s star rural romance authors. She soon followed that success up with Hope’s Road and Mountain Ash. Then a couple of years ago came the ebook novella A Bush Christmas and it was an instant hit.

Margareta has now taken this story and transformed it into a full-length novel, carrying on the lives of the characters her readers had come to love so much. The result is Rose River, set in the East Gippsland mountains, an area Margareta knows well. Check it out…


Rose River by Margareta OsbornAdapted from Margareta Osborn’s bestselling ebook novella A Bush Christmas, Rose River is a gloriously funny romantic comedy set in the beautiful Australian outback.

Take one city girl – and drop her into the back of beyond…

Housesitting in rural Burdekin’s Gap, high up in the East Gippsland mountains, is not an obvious career move for a PR executive like Jaime Hanrahan. But, hey, retrenchment is a kicker.

Plus she’s determined not to spend Christmas in Melbourne with her friends, who still have company cars and six-figure salaries, or with her mother, Blanche, who has remarried too soon after her father’s death.

However, it turns out that Burdekin’s Gap is a little more remote than Jaime had anticipated, the house is in the middle of a cattle station, and the handsome manager, Stirling McEvoy, doesn’t appreciate a new farmhand in Jimmy Choos and Sass & Bide cut-offs.

Soon Jaime is fending off stampeding cows, town ladies wielding clipboards, sheep who think they are goats, nude sportsmen and one very neurotic cat. So why does she feel like she’s falling in love… with the life, with the breathtaking landscape, and with one infuriating cowboy…

Doesn’t that sound fun? And a copy could be yours with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Boomerang Books, Collins Booksellers, Fishpond, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Lovely. Now you can have chocolate.

The Chocolate Read

My latest novel, ROSE RIVER, started out as a little ebook called A BUSH CHRISTMAS. This novella (a short book) hit #1 on iTunes, and was a finalist in the Romantic Novella of the Year A Bush Christmas by Margareta OsbornAward with Romance Writers of Australia. It was a huge success, and I was simply delighted!  Then, the emails and messages started hitting my inbox, arriving by the truckload, from readers around the country with a singular request, ‘We want the rest of Jaime and Stirling’s story!’

Seriously, what could I do … ? And to be honest, I was curious myself. What was going to happen next in the mountains around Burdekin’s Gap?

ROSE RIVER is the outcome.

When I sat down to write more of Jaime and Stirling’s story at Polly’s Plains, a cattle station in the high country of East Gippsland, our family had just lost a friend. In my sadness, I was looking for something to read. I wanted a novel that was light hearted and fun, a book where I could simply sit back and be entertained. A distraction was what I needed, an escape. I was searching for a story that was like chocolate, an endorphin to sweeten and warm my saddened heart and mind. I couldn’t find it. So, with ROSE RIVER’s deadline looming, I sat down wrote the book I was looking for instead.

ROSE RIVERPink iced chocolate cake is a laugh-out-loud, heart-warming story about the thrills and spills of life on the land. It brims with humour, abounds with deep affection for unique and colourful country communities and draws on my passion for the spectacular beauty of the bush where I have lived and worked all my life.

And while I wrote I ate chocolate – Chocolate cake to be precise. And you are very special because I’m going to share with you my precious chocolate cake recipe (a HUGE cake), which can be used as the basis for a marble cake as well. It’s a recipe I’ve tweaked and played with for years until it’s nigh on darn perfect. It’s yummy, moist and there’s lots of it.

So now you’ve got it all. ROSE RIVER, the “chocolate read” …  accompanied by the chocolate cake. My middle son is aghast, ‘Mum, you can’t share that recipe with anyone! It’s your special cake!’

Just goes to show what I think of you guys, right?



Rose River chocolate cake250gm Butter

2 Cups Caster Sugar (I never said it was healthy 🙂 )

2 ½ cups of S.R. Flour

1 teaspoon of Bi-Carb soda

4 tablespoons of Cocoa

2 cups of milk

4 Large eggs


Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time until combined,

(If using a small mixing bowl, change to larger one now.)

Add sifted dry ingredients alternating with milk, until all ingredients are combined.

Grease a large lamington slab pan, or large sized spring-form cake tin. You can also use a smaller round/square cake-tin and a loaf tin.  The mixture goes a long way. Great for making one cake for now and freezing the other for emergency smoko rations 🙂


And how grateful we are, Margareta! Thank you for sharing such a beloved recipe. It’s always such a joy to feature tried ‘n true country cooking on Friday Feast. You can’t go wrong with the cooking and the flavours are complete crowd-pleasers. Great stuff.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing you all the very best with Rose River, which will no doubt be another runaway hit for you.

if you’d like to learn more about Margareta and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @margaretaosborn


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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.



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!



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!