Tag Archives: Australian stories

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

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?

Enjoy!

ROSE RIVER CHOCOLATE CAKE

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

Vanilla

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Lisa Heidke

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Greetings food and booklovers, and welcome to another exciting edition of Friday Feast. We have a cracking line-up today, including one of Australia’s leading popular women’s fiction authors, a beautiful pasta dish and a book giveaway!

But first, the self-flagellation that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. In good news, my putting demon partner and I won (by a whisker) the ladies ambrose competition last week, while I also somehow managed to win longest drive. Rah! In bad or, rather, typical news, it was all downhill from there with me failing to play to my new handicap in the mixed comp. Again. Mind you, that didn’t stop the computer stealing another 0.2 of a stroke off me. No compassion those computers. None. Phht.

But on we go to much more uplifting news!

Lisa Heidke has been at the forefront of Australian popular women’s fiction for a number of Author Lisa Heidkeyears now, catapulting onto the scene with Lucy Springer Gets Even and continuing that success up with What Kate Did Next. Claudia’s Big Break and Stella Makes Good followed to great reviews as well, which should come as no surprise. Lisa studied journalism, has worked in the book and magazine publishing industries, and teaches popular women’s fiction workshops at the Australian Writer’s Centre. In other words, she knows how to tell a good yarn and her stories sparkle with good humour, warm characters and clever observation.

Lisa’s new book is It Started With A Kiss and it looks GORGEOUS. Check it out.

IT STARTED WITH A KISS

It Started With A Kiss by Lisa HeidkeIt Started with a Kiss is about shattered hearts, secrets and the lies that tie Friday and Liam and their teenage daughters, Evie and Adelaide together.

Naturopath, Friday Jones, feels betrayed when Liam, her husband of almost twenty years, announces that their marriage is over. On the brink of a mid-life crisis and crippled with a fear of missing out, Liam moves in with his bachelor brother, Brad, and pursues his secret ambition of becoming a stand-up comic.

Months later, Friday, still heartbroken, meets an unavailable man, but unable to control her desire, embarks on an intense secret affair.

When her best friend, Rosie, discovers that Friday is flirting with a danger that can only lead to further heartbreak, she signs Friday up with KissMeCupid.com and Friday dives into the murky, unknown, online dating world.

Friday soon starts receiving anonymous letters and gifts and quickly realises that one of her flings has taken obsession to the next level…

Doesn’t that sound like fun? And being a Lisa Heidke book you can be sure there’ll be plenty of twists, drama and laughs as the story unfolds. It Started With A Kiss is available right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang BooksAmazon.au, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, chain stores or your favourite book retailer.

Now please give a very hearty welcome too Lisa, and prepare to drool!

Memories Of Santorini …And My Spaghetti Vongole

Hi Cathryn,

Thanks for having me over! I must say, when you invited me the Friday Feast I was a tad daunted. You see, rather like Nicki Edwards, one of your previous Friday Feast guests, I’m not much of a cook. Like Nicki, I dislike cooking, mainly because I’d rather be writing or reading – and also because my kids are fussy. Give them a roast chook and salad or sushi every night and they’d be happy!

Unlike Nicki, I do have recipe books. Hundreds of them. People give them to me for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day…and largely, they remain unopened. I was once given a subscription to Gourmet Traveller. Pretty pictures!

santoriniHowever, one of those Gourmet Travellers (I think it was a February edition) inspired me to travel to Santorini. Three whole weeks of bliss!  Whilst I was there, I had one of the most amazing dishes ever – Spaghetti Vongole.

Simple but so delicious and tasty.

The kids begrudgingly eat it though it can get messy, but I don’t care. Every time I smell it cooking, the flavours remind me of Greece and I am transported back to that cute little restaurant in Santorini, on the waters’ edge with the red and white checked tablecloths and the pretty white geraniums haphazardly arranged in pottery vases…heaven. The restaurant’s signature Spaghetti Vongole was to die for!

Claudia's Big Break by Lisa HeidkeSantorini was also the inspiration for my second novel, Claudia’s Big Break but that’s another story.

In my latest book, It Started with a Kiss, the protagonist, Friday Jones isn’t a great cook. I’d say she’s poor to middling. In fact, all my characters seem to be very average in the kitchen. Funny that!

Still, I’d have to say when it comes to the Vongole, it’s hard to go wrong. Even Friday could do it. So here’s the recipe!

Spaghetti Vongole

vongole-large

Ingredients:

1 kilo Vongole (pipis)

4 whole red chillie4 garlic cloves

1 cup parsley

500 gm spaghetti

Wine or water…depending on your preference

Method:

  1. Boil enough water for the spaghetti
  2. Finely chop garlic and thinly chop chillies
  3. Roughly chop parsley
  4. Cook pasta according to instructions
  5. While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic, chilli, parsley and pipis in deep frypan for two minutes
  6. Add a couple of tablespoons of water (or white wine) to the frypan and cover.
  7. Steam pipis for approximately five minutes until all have opened.
  8. Drain pasta and add to frypan…toss through…
  9. Sprinkle parsley on top
  10. Enjoy with a glass or two of chilled white wine.

 

Wow! You sure know the way to a girl’s heart, Lisa. Spaghetti vongole is one of my favourite dishes. The shellfish is so sweet and sea-tasting, with the other flavours enhancing the vongole rather than taking over. And it’s so much fun to slurp up the pasta and suck on the shells. Beautiful. I bet your Santorini one tasted even better. Oh, to be there. Sigh.

Enough wistfulness. Let’s make this even more delicious by having a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, my Feasty darlings, Lisa has very generously offered the chance for one lucky commenter to win a copy of It Started With A Kiss. Naturally you’ll have to work for it. So, to be in the draw, answer this:

Which dishes remind you of a favourite holiday or time in your life?

Me? I have a thousand! Eating sea bass on the Cinque Terra. The jungle curry I helped make at a cooking school in Thailand. Endlessly scoffing crayfish legs and tails at our beach shack during childhood summer holidays. Visiting Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant in Cornwall. Urk. I must stop. All this reminiscing is making me want to go on holiday.

What about you? What dishes remind you of holidays or special times? Reveal all and we’ll pop you into the draw to win It Started With A Kiss.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 24th February 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa and her heart-warming books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @lisaheidke.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Meredith who has won a copy of Lisa’s gorgeous new release, It Started With A Kiss.
Thanks so much to everyone for visiting and sharing your lovely holiday food memories. 

 

A Rocking Bargain!

Heads-up, everyone.

ROCKING HORSE HILL IS ON SALE!

Yes, you can pick up the ebook version of my best-selling rural romance for only…

Doesn’t that make you feel…


It does me, because WHAT A BARGAIN!

Only for a limited time, so don’t miss out. Buy now from:

Kindle

kobo

Google play

Available_on_the_iBookstore_Badge_US-UK_146x40_0824

jbhifinowbooks

Go on, I promise this book will fill you up with lots of wonderful emotions like this…

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jenn J McLeod

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Yes, my lovelies, it’s Friday Feast time again. And what a scrumptious guest we have lined up.

But first, the update you hanker for every week, and is still going because my darling Sydney Swans lost again and I’m sulking: Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.

Last weekend I had one of those frustrating rounds where I didn’t play that badly but couldn’t score (hmm, could be a nightclub analogy here somewhere – I didn’t discobop that badly but…). Even a ball sacrificed to the water gods on the 9th failed. The round was at least free of crow thievery, so perhaps that worked on some level. Maybe this week my luck will change. It had better for my footy team…

Now, to our most excellent guest.Author Jenn J McLeod

Come home to the country is Jenn J McLeod’s tag for her books and take you to the country she does. Her debut novel, House for all Seasons, was an instant success, garnering terrific reviews and sales, and leaving readers eagerly awaiting her next. Well, it’s arrived. Simmering Season is now in the shelves and wowing readers.

Take a look…

SIMMERING SEASON

Cover of Simmering Season

Back in Calingarry Crossing to sell the family pub, Maggie Lindeman has no idea a perfect storm is heading her way until her past and present collide with the unexpected.

Maggie once had a crush on Dan Ireland, now a work-weary police crash investigator, still hell-bent on punishing himself for his misspent youth. Dan has ample reason for not going home to Calingarry Crossing for the school reunion, but one very good reason why he should.

Maggie is dealing with a restless seventeen-year-old son, a father with dementia, a fame-obsessed musician husband, a dwindling bank account and a country pub that just won’t sell.

The last thing she needs is a surprise houseguest for the summer. Fiona Bailey-Blair, daughter of an old friend and spoilt with everything but the truth, whips up a maelstroml of gossip when she blows into town.

This storm season, when a school reunion brings home more than memories, Maggie Lindeman will discover  …  there’s no keeping a lid on some secrets.

 

Ooh, a book with secrets. Makes me all squirmy just thinking about it. You can own a copy today with just a few clicks. For the paperback, try the good people at Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, your local independent book shop or chain store. Ebook lovers, try Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now that you’re all booked up, here’s Jenn!

What’s Jenn J McLeod got Simmering?

I can’t believe it’s almost one year, to the day, that I was here on Friday Feast talking about my two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. A lot has happened in twelve months – both highs and lows. The highest of highs was signing a contract for books 3 and 4 in my Seasons Collection. So, I have been busy.

Today you’ve asked me to feature something foody from book two. Easy! I’ve actually managed to stir three passions into the Simmering Season pot: writing, food and music )yes, I’ve written a song!)

Readers will return to Calingarry Crossing for a school reunion that brings home more than memories for the local publican. Maggie Lindeman has no idea the perfect storm is headed her way or that it will blows the lid off a lifetime of secrets when the past and present collide with the unexpected. Will is still in the café and cheeky as ever and Maggie has a barmaid-cum-cook (Ethne) a British backpacker from the seventies who refused to go back! I love Ethne’s attitude to life, her jokes and her weekend specials. And so …

My recipe today is one of Ethne’s.

This dressing really is so simple and versatile – requiring no cooking, no stove, no simmering! It will also store in a squeezy bottle in the fridge for ages – weeks or more if you treat it well (no cross contamination). Fabulous with chicken, salmon, pork, lamb, fetta, mixed with yoghurt as a yummy dip!

Coriander, honey, mustard dressing

In a whizzer/food processor (Ethne uses a magic bullet) …

One bunch of coriander

A generous glug of olive or vegetable oil

A good dollop of grainy or Dijon mustard

Cracked pepper to taste (also add garlic, lemon juice, honey and a smidge of sweet chilli sauce.)

Whiz it all up together and try it. If you like it – stop! If it’s too thick, add a bit more olive oil to get the pouring/squeezing consistency you want.

Here’s the dressing in action – with mango

Chicken and mango salad

(We had such a bumper crop of mangoes this season. Did you know the garbage truck cannot lift more than 70 kilos? I do now, because the garbo refused to empty my bin of possum-munched mangoes until I emptied some out. Needless to say, it has been mango EVERYTHING for months and I really am mangoed out!)

Moroccan chicken with mango and
a coriander, honey, mustard dressed salad

Ingredients/method:

Basically, make your favourite salad in a bowl. (Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion.)

Sprinkle chicken breast with Moroccan spice seasoning (Masterfoods style) and pan cook.

Add dressing to the salad, toss, mound in the centre of the plate.

Once chicken is cooked, slice, present, and add diced mango, toasted almond flakes and drizzle more dressing – to taste.

That’s it!

 

Too easy, Jenn! Not to mention delicious. Spicy anything and mango is a combination made in tastebud heaven, and that dressing sounds beautiful. Definitely one I’ll be trying.

Now, my tasty little Feasters, we have a giveaway!

What is your favourite season produce? Share and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed copy of Jenn J McLeod’s Simmering Season.

That’s easy-peasy for me. The season may be over now (sob!) but I LIVE for cherries. I’m like a bear readying for hibernation with those babies and can’t stuff enough in my mouth, delicious little balls of sweet fruity goodness that they are. But what about you? Do you salivate over the thought of new season apples? Maybe you can’t wait for the Southern rock lobster season. Perhaps it’s spring lamb you dream about. Share, and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Jenn and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and as @jennjmcleod  on Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kirrily who has won a copy of Jenn’s wonderful Simmering Season. Some great Easter reading coming up! Thanks to everyone who joined in. I hope you had as much fun as we did.

Want to take more of a peek at Simmering Season? Check out Jenn’s book trailer:

FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

Welcome to the first Friday Feast of autumn 2014.

To celebrate, we have suitably fabulous author sharing her latest release and a delicious recipe that  will have your tastebuds dancing. But first, the news you await every week from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. It rained so hard last weekend that my round was washed out. Naturally, this occurred right when my game was coming together. The Great Golfing God has it in for me, the sod. Hmph.Author photo of Margareta Osborn

But enough of that, let’s get onto the really important stuff: BOOKS and FOOD!

My guest this week is Margareta Osborn, best-selling author of rural-set romances Bella’s Run, Hope’s Road and A Bush Christmas. Not only does Margareta write great heroines, she is one herself as a volunteer fire-fighter, recently helping to fight the choking Hazelwood coal mine fire in Gippsland, among other incidents.

Margareta’s new release is Mountain Ash and the premise will have you hooked!

 

MOUNTAIN ASH

 

Cover of Mountain Ash by Margareta OsbornAfter years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling.

Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo …

Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry.

But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.

Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

 

Doesn’t that sound like a riveting read? Which is why you should be clickety-clicking right now on these ‘buy’ links. For the paperback, visit most excellent Australian online bookstore Booktopia. You can also try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, QBD the Bookshop, your local independent, or your nearest chain store. For the ebook try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play or your favourite online retailer.

Loaded up? Good. Because you’ll need something delicious to snack on while eating and Margareta has just the thing!

 

Cooling It

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me back on your blog. It seems like we’re  making this a yearly event!

Seeing the last few mornings up here in the Gippsland hills have had a snippet of autumn in the air (you can feel it, taste it, smell it), I had thought to give you a yummy autumn cum winter-ish recipe to get us in the mood for all that cool weather with it’s comforting, scrumptious food to come.

BUT … then we hit today.

Outside the temperature is in the mid 30’s and there’s a blistering hot wind blowing itself into frenzy. The dust is spinning into willy-willys and I can see what’s left of our pasture shrivelling before my eyes. So, I can hardly talk about warming casseroles and oozing puddings with all of us sweltering like lizards on a pile of hot rocks. Summer is obviously not done yet. In addition, the fire pager’s doing a dance on my desk requesting change-over crews for tonight, as the people of Gippsland have also been fighting bushfires, yours truly included. In fact it’s a wonder anyone in this part of the world is going to have time to read my latest novel MOUNTAIN ASH (just released on March 1, 2014) until autumn – and relief from the heat – arrives! The tagline of my latest novel, reads, ‘In matters of the heart she’s playing with fire …’. Unfortunately it’s a tad apt at the moment in this part of the world. And that’s before you throw in a devastating love triangle twist.

So maybe it’s time to head back to the kitchen and make the most decadent treat to cool off. I made this stunning looking, deviously simple and delicious ice-cream cake for Christmas lunch. It was a H.I.T. (in capitals!)

 

Ice-Cream Cake

 

Margareta Osborn's Ice-Cream Cake

Ingredients:

3 litres of vanilla ice-cream

400 g of chocolate honey-comb pieces, chopped into chunks

220g bottle of chocolate Ice-Magic

Fresh berries (I used strawberries & would’ve added raspberries if I’d had some) & icing sugar

Put 3 litres of ice-cream into a big bowl. (It needs to be BIG, trust me.) Leave to soften for 10 minutes (don’t let it melt).

Gently fold in the chopped honeycomb. (I did this in two bowls as one wasn’t big enough.)

Grease a 22cm spring-form tin. Line base and sides with 2 layers of baking paper. I suggest you go 2-3cm above the edge of the pan with the paper, creating ‘hungry-boards’, so you can get all that yummy ice-cream into the tin.

Spoon ice-cream and honeycomb mixture into the tin and level with a knife or spatula. Freeze overnight.

Just before serving tip ice-cream cake from tin (I removed sides of tin along with the paper, laid a plate on the ‘top’ and tipped the cake upside down so the bottom became the top.) Drizzle immediately with Ice Magic, allow a minute or so to harden then top with fresh fruit. Sift icing sugar over the fruit to finish.

This cake goes ultra well with plum pudding but it would be terrific with any other desert or just by itself.

Note: You can replace the honey-comb with other lollies or chocolate bar treats. Let your imagination run wild!

 

Thanks, Margareta. My imagination is absolutely running wild. Imagine this with Smarties or broken up Peppermint Crisp. The possibilities! And so stunning too.

Okay, Feasters, what dish do you like to make that is disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort that went into its creation? I have one that I’ve been making for years – meringue towers with berries. They’re basically glorified individual pavlovas, but constructed in such a way to form an impressive tower on the plate. Dead easy. The only tricky part is piping the meringue into circles and stripes.

So what about you? Can you make a stunning soup in a heartbeat? Whip up a colourful salad in moments that looks like it was taken from the pages of Gourmet Traveller? Make our lives easier so we have more time to spend with friends and family – or reading – and share away!

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

 

ROCKING HORSE HILL COVER REVEAL!


On Sale April 23rd 2014

 

Cover of Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Sex and the Rural Romance Author

Got your attention? Good, because this is serious stuff!

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers recently about ‘heat’ ratings in romance novels, which prompted me to ponder sex in our home-grown rural romances and what reader expectations might be on that front.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein coverI have no idea, and that bothers me because I’m all for fulfilling my readers’ expectations, but I’ve had no feedback or seen any comment about the sex in my books at all. The explicitness has varied with each release, so what then do readers prefer?

For me it all depends on the characters. Callie and Matt in Heartland, being the people that they are, seemed to suit spontaneous, rompy sex and I had a hell lot of fun writing those scenes.

Matt stumbled his way to the single bed until they fell in a tangle of sweaty arms and legs amid creaking springs and laughter. Callie’s shorts winged across the room, following his cargo pants, the last of her underwear sling-shotting after them. Callie laughed as Matt’s jocks caught on his springy cock, enjoying his hungry, almost pained expression as she levered him out and tugged them over his hips and down his legs. Grinning, she twirled the jocks around her finger before flinging them toward the wardrobe.

I would have felt awkward doing the same for Sophie and Aaron in Promises because they were quite sweet characters, while describing the bedroom antics of my 2014 release Rocking Horse Hill’s privileged heroine would have made me feel like a dirty perv. She’s definitely not the sort of person who would appreciate others being privy to her private life (although, given Rocking Horse Hill’s sexpot hero, I bet she has an amazing time in the bedroom).

So I asked a couple of rural romance buddies how they decide how explicit to be with their sex scenes…

 

Fiona Palmer, best-selling author of The Family Farm, The Sunburnt Country and other great rural reads is of similar opinion to me:

Cathryn, I agree that it is up to the characters. In one of my books it happens on the back of a ute and in another book the sex scene called for a more soft gentle approach.  The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerSo I go with what I feel, what I think the characters would do and see where it leads. I do love good sexual tension in books and so I like a little sneak peek of when they get to finally act on this tension. I personally enjoy the hot parts, but it doesn’t sway my like or dislike of a book if it has hot sex or not. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes just the touch of a hand can mean so much more.

I haven’t heard back from any readers saying they didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in my books. (In fact I have the blokes asking for more!) So I will just keep going based on what I think the characters need and want.  Here is a snippet from my latest book The Outback Heart and this paragraph is the raunchiest of the whole sex scene.

‘Amazing.’ Troy’s gaze swept across her breasts as she arched her back, waiting for his touch. A shaky hand caressed her soft skin, his thumb flicking over an already hard nipple. Indi tightened her legs around his waist as he bent to taste one bud, before moving to the next, his tongue flicking and teasing. His hand went down to where she was hot and moist. Indi dug her fingers into his shoulders as a moan fell from her lips.

 

Rachael Johns, best-seller and Australian Romance Reader Award winner expands on the sex depends on character theme:

I consider my rural books very much romance books and therefore exploring the chemistry between the main characters is a must for me. But how heated and graphic that exploration is really does depend on the hero and heroine in each book.

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsThings such as whether the characters have just met play a factor and also their previous relationship experiences. In my first book Jilted, Ellie and Flynn were high school sweethearts and the attraction between them was always spicy but at the beginning of the book they are trying to fight it because of the hurt they both carry.  In Man Drought, Imogen and Gibson experience instant attraction but they both have reasons to steer clear of the opposite sex, however each interaction between them gets hotter and hotter till it blows up in his ute on the side of the road. That might be my sauciest rural romance scene.

If I know my characters well, I find the sex scenes almost write themselves. In Outback Dreams, my latest release, Faith and Monty have been best friends forever but have only just realized they also find each other attractive, so their first sex scene had a different tone again.

Her smile gave her consent and within seconds they were tumbling backwards, pausing only to tear up the zip on the tent, before collapsing on top of their waiting swags. She couldn’t tell who hit the ground first but they both reached for each other, tearing at each other’s clothing like hungry beasts. In complete darkness and with no method to their madness they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so Faith pulled back and took care of her own clothes. Monty did the same and when he reached for her again, she felt his warm, naked flesh against hers.

A moan of approval slipped from her lips.

Damn the dark. She willed her eyes to adjust so she could look her fill at the specimen beside her.

And then he was touching her. He pulled her towards him, tugged a blanket over the top of them and smoothed her hair. ‘You okay?’

Okay? Words could not do justice to her level of okay-ness. Why had they never gone here before? ‘Yes.’

I like reading about the sex between two people who are in love or at least on the road to falling in love, and so I like to give a glimpse of this to my readers as well. However, I don’t get too graphic with my sex scenes as I believe it is the emotional not the physical side of a love scene that is most important.

 

Karly Lane, best-selling author of North Star, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice is also mindful of her readers:

I’ve noticed a steady increase in what my editor and publisher expect in my books. In North Star I was asked to trim a lot of the scenes, but in Morgan’s Law I was asked to show the readers more!Bridie's Choice by Karly Lane I think publishers are aware of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic and that women’s fiction is undergoing a shake up at the moment, and so they’re willing to stretch the boundaries a little more than they may once have.

I personally, write what suits my plot and characters. I won’t write an explicit love scene just to keep up with a current trend. I had a reader who told me she allowed her young teenage daughter to read my books because she knew they weren’t too overly explicit. I’m very conscious of what my readers like which is why I won’t be jumping on the mommy porn band wagon just for the sake of it.

This quote from Bridie’s Choice gives a good example of Karly’s boundaries.

She heard him groan softly next to her ear, and she urged him onto his back, following him down until she straddled him. His surprised chuckle soon faded and was replaced with an intense look as he cupped her face in his hands, holding her gaze silently for a long moment. The depth of feeling in that one shared look made Bridie quiver with a mixture of emotion and lust. Leaning forward, she kissed him, pouring into the kiss the feelings she knew she couldn’t voice.

His hands slipped to her waist, holding her firmly as she began to move slowly against him. The gentle moans of their mutual need drifted away on the breeze above them.

 

Mandy Magro, best-selling author of Rosalee Station, Jacaranda and Flame Tree Hill has a different take:

I like to leave the bedroom door wide open, in ALL my novels. Driftwood 3Actually, I love to take my characters out of the bedroom to make it even steamier 🙂 When two people fall in love, the most intimate way to show this is through love making, be it slow and sensual or hungry, hot and steamy. I love writing these scenes and will endeavour to include them in each and every one of my future novels.

Mandy demonstrates just how steamy with this excerpt from her November 1st release, Driftwood.

Taylor panted as she reached out and gripped the sides of the rock, her hips arching into Jay’s lusciously warm mouth, his tongue and lips seducing her into seventh heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she teetered on the edge, her entire body quivering. How could a man send her into a sexual trance so beyond the normal realm she felt as though she was floating into an abyss? Finally, succumbing to his enchanting mouth, she toppled over the edge of self-control and screamed out his name, pulsating against his ravishing tongue as she climaxed to the point of breathlessness, every centimetre of her shuddering.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Well described sex or more teasing hints? The door open or closed? Do you need sex to complete the romance side of the story? Or does it depend on the characters or plot?

Comment away! Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and their books, or wish to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you’ll find all the links on their websites. Just click a name below to discover more.

Fiona Palmer

Rachael Johns

Karly Lane

Mandy Magro

Cathryn Hein

 

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: A Christmas Bargain

First up, some exciting news. For a very limited time, the ebook of Heart of the Valley will be made available in all formats at the bargain price of $2-99. So if you, your family or friends are after a heart-warming Australian story to read over summer, here’s a great chance to pick one up at a super sharp price.

Don’t have an e-reader, tablet or smartphone? That’s okay. Simply download Kindle or Kobo app for your desktop and away you go.

Now, click, click and be merry!

Amazon (Kindle)

Kobo

iTunes

Google Play

Bookworld

 

Also available at other good ebook retailers.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a truly magic-filled Christmas and a wonderful New Year.  Thank you for all your support through 2012 and I look forward to having more fun with you in 2013.

O