Tag Archives: Man Drought by Rachael Johns

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachael Johns

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Hello food and book lovers, and welcome to this week’s whiz-bang edition of Friday Feast. This week: one of Australia’s most loved rural romance authors, some serious foodie technology, cupcakes to die for, and a giveaway!

But first, the no-news zone that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I’m currently in Mount Gambier, my home town and the place where my golfing life began. Also the location where the phrase “Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf” originated, courtesy of my father. Again this week I have nothing to report game wise, although I did go out with Dad for smack around the practice fairway, where I got to laugh at his air swings and other duffs. Never fear, the Great Golfing God will get me back for my meanness. He always does. The bugger.

Right, onto to our most fantabulous guest.

Author Rachael JohnsAnyone who loves rural romance and Australian romance fiction knows who Rachael johns is. She blasted onto the best-seller lists with Jilted in 2012 and hasn’t looked back, growing her readership with Man Drought, her hugely successful Outback series and more. She’s also a great friend, and we’ve spent many an email, phone call, text, and late night in conversation, talking all things bookish and life, which is why she’s featured in the acknowledgements of my books. Gotta thank our friends. God knows, they put up with enough.

I’m thrilled to have Rachael on Friday Feast and if you haven’t already done so, you should all go out and buy Rach’s latest release and sequel to Jilted, The Road To Hope, right now. It’s a beauty!

THE ROAD TO HOPE

The Road to Hope by Rachael JohnsNurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

Told you The Road To Hope was a beauty and it can be yours right now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus & Robertson. You can also buy from Dymocks, Abbey’s Bookshop, QBD The Bookstore, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Boomerang Books, Fishpond, direct from the publisher Harlequin or try your local independent book shop or chain store.

Now settle back and be whizzed by Rach!

I Bought A Thermomix

So… I recently relented and bought a Thermomix. It was just over a year since I went to my first demo and saw this kitchen tool in action. At that first demo, I remember not being THAT impressed. Sure the Thermie made a yummy dip and pretty delicious sorbet, all fairly easily, but Rachael Johns's Thermomixwas it really worth it’s $2k+ price tag? I am not a domestic goddess these days and my kids are so fussy that what I cook is so mundane I’m even bored myself. The only enjoyment I get from cooking is baking cakes and yes, I enjoy eating them just as much.

I left the demo semi-impressed but still unsure how much I would use such a gadget. Then, over the next few months every time I made a cheese sauce or a soup or a cake, I thought about how much quicker, how much easier it would be if I had the super machine on my bench. During this time a number of other friends became Thermie owners – and maybe it was a case of coveting what I didn’t have but I felt myself coming around to the idea. When we had to bake cakes for a school cake-stall it took up my whole day, thus I lost ALL that writing time, and I thought, you know… if I had a Thermomix I could do this SO much quicker. I could also make MORE cakes to sell.

Carame; cupcake batter in the ThermomixThen, a year after that first demo I went to the second and THIS time the host made cocktails with her old Thermie while the consultant cooked up a feast with the new Thermie (note, the old was pretty cool but the new one is all digitalized and awesome. It has a  micro-chip recipe book and everything that pretty much cooks for you! Seriously good for those dunces in the kitchen like me). Well, I took one sip of said cocktail and my decision was made. I’ve had my Thermomix for almost four months now and I actually haven’t MADE any cocktails but knowing I CAN is enough 

So… what have I made and was the $2k+ price tag worth it? Well, I threw out my rice cooker, my blender, my electric beaters and most of my other kitchen appliances, so now I cook all my rice in Thermie and do all my cakes, biscuits, etc in there too. I always made pancakes lots and now do these in the Thermomix as well. I’ve made a couple of full meals – a steamed chicken dish, risotto and a really delicious chorizo and sun-dried tomato pasta – and it is SO easy.

Just from the oven caramel cupcakesI’ve also taken to making myself a veggie juice every morning and am really enjoying experimenting with this. Best thing is probably that I have less mess at the end of a cooking session and also that I can go away and leave the Thermomix cooking while I attend to other things. Great news for a busy mum and writer who sometimes gets lost in her own little world.

I use my Thermomix at least once a day if not more. I find the recipes it comes with are fabulous but there are also millions more online tried and tested by other Thermomix users. I’ve even used non-Thermomix recipes and find they are really easy to adapt. I recently made an apple and oat cake from a recipe Cathryn gave me 🙂 I’m sure there are a lot of Thermomix users who utilize theirs a lot more than me, but I do not regret the purchase and find I’m using it more and more each day.

And right now… I’m off to try a caramel cake recipe I saw in a magazine. I’m going to convert it for Themie!!

***

It worked! But I decided to make cupcakes instead. Here’s my adapted recipe – they might look bland but they taste AMAZE-BALLS!!

Caramel Cupcakes

caramel cupcakes

Ingredients

125 grams softened butter

220 grams packed brown sugar

1 ts vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 Ts golden syrup

150 grams plain flour

75 grans SR flour

a pinch of cinnamon

125 mls milk

Method

Line 12 large muffin tins with cases. Put oven to 180 degrees.

Put butter, sugar and vanilla in Thermomix bowl and mix for 20 seconds on speed 5.

Add eggs one at a time, set blades on speed five and add eggs through hole in the lid. Mix about 30 seconds.

Add half flour and half milk and mix for 10 seconds on speed 5. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk. If not quite mixed together, scrap down sides and turn up quickly to speed 6 for a second.

Spoon into prepared muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Caramel Icing:

Ingredients

50 grams butter

30 grams milk

70 grams brown sugar

100 grams icing sugar

Method

Add butter, milk and brown sugar to bowl and cook for 6 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 3. After two minutes increase the temperature to 90 degrees. After four minutes (two minutes to go) drop temperature back to 50 degrees and remove the measuring cup from lid.  Once done add icing sugar and mix for 10 seconds on speed four. Scrape sides and remix if necessary. Allow to cool before icing the cakes!

 

They sound and look DIVINE, Rach. I’m definitely giving these a run, although I’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way with my mixmaster (which I’m still trying to blow up so I have an excuse to buy a new one). Mind you, looking at that icing, I might just skip the cake bit and make the icing. That’d be pretty tasty scooped into my mouth by the spoonful. Not healthy, mind, but we don’t get too het up about things like that here at Friday Feast.

Now, my sweet little dumpling Feasties, Rachael, as we all know, is a bloody luverly person and an open-hearted one too, which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win a signed copy of Rachael’s gorgeous new release, The Road To Hope, simply share your favourite cupcake flavour in the comments below.

I bags lemon! I’m a sucker for anything tangy and citrusy and lemon will trump chocolate for me almost every time.

What about you? What’s your favourite cupcake flavour? Strawberry? Plain vanilla? Or do you have an exotic flavour for us to drool over? Share and we’ll pop you in the giveaway draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 19th May 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

Friday Feast recipe index link.

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