Tag Archives: Promises by Cathryn Hein

Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser TuesdayIt’s Teaser Tuesday again, the tantalising series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress, and occasionally let author buddies take over.

We’re going with a blast from the past this week, with a teaser from my debut rural romance Promises. Aaron and Sophie will always have a special place in my heart. These two were a joy to write, especially Aaron who is so wonderfully tortured. He just needs to realise that Sophie is strong enough for both of them.

Did you know you can purchase signed print copies of Promises direct from me for only $18 delivered? (Australian postal addresses only) These are the large sized books with the original (and very romantic!) cover design. Simply email me via the contact form on this website and I’ll shoot you the details.

Now please enjoy this taste of Promises.

 

Sophie nodded, told Aaron she’d see him tomorrow and headed for her car.

On impulse, as she reached for the door, he called to her. She waited until he walked over, eyeing him with curiosity.

Promises by Cathryn HeinHe swallowed, suddenly feeling stupid, like a bumbling teenager trying to ask a girl out for the first time. He shoved his hands in his pockets to stop them fidgeting, and kicked at the ground, dirtying his clean boots.

She waited, her frown deepening as he struggled to get the words out.

‘You do have friends, Sophie. You have me.’

‘Do I?’

He nodded.

She stared at him for a second and then with a smile, she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face into his chest. At first he stood stiff and unsure, but as her soft body pressed against him, the awkwardness passed. He relaxed enough to pull his hands from his pockets and carefully fold his arms around her, surprised at how good it felt, like he was giving her the comfort he’d always wanted to. A tiny touch of humanity and kindness as reparation for his sins.

Friendship was good. He could cope with that.

©Cathryn Hein

Promises is available right now from Booktopia, Bookdepository, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite retailer. If you’d like to take advantage of the signed copy offer, please email me direct via the contact page.

Want to know more about Promises? Find the story behind the book, reviews, and more excerpts on its book page on this website.

 

Never miss a new release. Click to subscribe to Cathryn Hein's newsletter.

2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

40 Replies

2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!Welcome to the 2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop brought to you by that most excellent of book blogs Book’d Out.

And what is the hop all about? It’s all about giving you, lovely readers, the opportunity to win lots of books by Australian authors, along with other goodies. For the full list of participants simply visit Book’d Out’s blog hop page.

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinSo what giveaway am I offering?

How about a signed print copy of the utterly charming rural romance novella Summer and the Groomsman? You will love this story. It’s gorgeous, not to mention a lot of fun, and has the added bonus of featuring hat-tipping Mr Sexy on the cover.

But that’s not all!

Because it’s Australia Day, and because I’m feeling all summery and cheery, I’m going to throw in a signed copy of my debut rural release Promises. I adore this story. It’s beautifully romantic, with lots of horses, secrets and drama in a fabulous setting.

But you’ll have to work a little to be in the giveaway. Nothing too onerous because that wouldn’t be in the spirit of things, would it? No, all you have to do is reveal what you’ll be scoffing (or want to be scoffing) this Australia Day.

Promises by Cathryn HeinDo you hanker for snags or a lamb chop on the barbie, or can’t wait for a great glistening platter of fresh seafood? Perhaps a pavlova or lamington sugar-high is on your agenda, or even the deep-fried awesomeness of a Chiko Roll! Whatever Australia Day fare you’re indulging in or wish you were having, share it in the comments below and I’ll pop you into the draw to win the above book package.

Please note: Australian postal addresses only. Giveaway opens midday AEDT, Sunday January 24th, 2016 and closes midnight AEDT on Wednesday January 27th, 2016. Winner notified by email within 7 days of closing date and announced in the comments.

Want to keep up with all my releases, plus have access to exclusive content, giveaways and subscriber-only short stories? Sign up to my newsletter. It’s fun, plus I’ll love you.

Got your entry in? Good. Now skip on back to Book’d Out and check out all the other blog hop giveaway opportunities.

And don’t forget to have a fantastic Australia Day!

Click to subscribe to my newsletter

Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser TuesdayIt’s Teaser Tuesday again, the tantalising series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress, and occasionally let author buddies take over.

This week a look back at my debut rural romance Promises. Oh, how I adore this book and its tortured hero Aaron and feisty young Sophie. With its feuding families, dark secrets, vivid landscape, and thoroughbred racing action, it was exciting, romantic and fun to write. I especially loved creating the horse characters. Nothing new there though!

If you haven’t tried Promises I have a super special deal going. You can purchase signed print copies direct from me for only $18, including postage (Australian postal addresses only). These are the large format, trade paperback-sized books, rather than the smaller ones, and very nice! Simply email me using the Contact form on this website and I’ll shoot you the details.

Now please enjoy this taste of Promises.

 

With trackwork over and breakfast eaten in Hakea Lodge’s warm kitchen, Aaron sent Sophie outside to play with Rowdy while he made a few phone calls. Though still cold, a breeze had risen, driving the worst of the early morning drizzle eastward. Between the racing clouds, scraps of sun appeared, helping to dry the yard. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was still freezing. Sophie took any chance available to spend time with Rowdy and Costa Motza.

Promises by Cathryn HeinTen minutes later, he found her leaning against the half-door chattering to the horse, arm stretched as she caressed Rowdy’s neck. The flickering sunshine shot Sophie’s mousy hair with pretty, pale-gold highlights. Her shirt had come loose, and he caught a glimpse of white as each reach of her arm caused her snug-fitting fleecy jumper to pull up, dragging the shirt with it. Aaron crossed the yard, unable to take his eyes off that tiny patch of skin.

As he approached, Sophie didn’t move, her attention focused on Rowdy. Aaron halted, his throat feeling rough as he sucked in cool air. He closed his eyes but the image of her skin stayed, like his mind had taken a photograph. He opened them again, staring at her as if he’d never seen female flesh before. Oblivious to his scrutiny and still happily chattering, Sophie reached up higher to fondle Rowdy’s ears, rucking her jumper up even further.

If he waited long enough, she’d turn around, break the enchantment, but Aaron didn’t want her to. Holding his breath, he took another step forward and slowly reached out, his fingers hovering over that small exposed area on her side.

Very gently, he brushed his fingertips against her skin.

©Cathryn Hein

 

For instant gratification, buy your ebook copy of Promises right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo or Google Play. For print copies, visit Booktopia or, if you’d like to take advantage of the special offer mentioned above, contact me direct.

Hankering for more about Promises? Find the story behind the book, reviews, and more excerpts on its book page on this website.

Click to subscribe to my newsletter

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

29 Replies

This week on Friday Feast, lucky devils that you are, you have ME again. I’m sharing one of my absolute favourite pasta recipes, showing off my new release again (because I can, and I love it to bits and want you to as well), and… oh, let’s have a giveaway. It’s been too long!

But before you get to that excitement, you must endure news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. As mentioned last week, the past weekend saw me compete in the final round of the Romance author Cathryn Heinclub championships and I came SECOND! Okay, so technically with only two of us ladies left in the field I also came last but we’ll  ignore that. What was kind of cool was the gallery (aka the hecklers) surrounding the 18th green, watching the field come in, and me making a very respectable par in front of them instead of cracking under the pressure. Not normal Hein golfing behaviour at all!

Now to plug my book, which I’m allowed to do to my heart’s content because it’s my blog and I have overlord (overlady?) powers. I will, however, try not to be boring.

So… reviews for my new release Summer and the Groomsman are coming in and they’re lovely! I’m so chuffed. 5 stars from Talking Books Blog and 8/10 from Bree at 1 Girl 2 Many Books, along with lots of very kind comments about the sweet characters and the humour of the story.

It’s enough to make a girl a little teary. Or drink fizz. I prefer the latter.

On the off chance you haven’t had enough of it yet (which of course you haven’t), here’s the cover and blurb.

SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN

Cover of Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn HeinIt’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Oooh, this story is FUN. And you should buy it now, oh yes you should! Try Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks or Nook.

Now, grab those pots and fire up that stove, because this recipe’s a cracker.

Pucker-Up For Pasta

By now you’re all probably aware that I’m a sucker for recipes that taste disproportionately impressive to the amount of effort they take to prepare. I never used to be this way though. In fact, there was once a time when the longer the recipe, the more complicated, the more ingredients it required, the happier I was. And if it involved learning some obscure new technique, even better.

Personally, I blame the 80s.

Me at uni graduation with big hair

Me on graduation day with big hair and even bigger shoulder pads beneath my gown.

Everything had to be bigger and better then: hair, shoulder pads… plates. Remember enormous white plates with tiny bits of lonely food on them? So fashionable. I still have the most beautiful Royal Doulton set in my crockery collection. You could eat entree and main off those things and still have room for dessert, but I’ll never get rid of them because they’re so nice.

The ‘more is better’ fad followed me into the early 90’s too, when I moved to Melbourne. I used to hold these dinner parties that would take days to prepare for and involve early morning trips to Queen Victoria Market followed by hours in the kitchen and exhaustion by the end of the evening. Vogue Entertaining magazine was my bible, along with Elle Cuisine and another short-lived ultra-cheffy one I can’t recall the name of.

These days? It’s all about maximum taste from minimum effort.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to spend an afternoon in the kitchen playing around with something novel. I adore cooking, trying new ingredients, learning new techniques, especially on a Friday when there’s the end of the week to celebrate. Weekdays though, it’s all good food done fast. Well, not necessarily fast but certainly without drama.

Which brings me to today’s recipe, pasta e fagioli. Pasta and beans.

I’m sure there are hundreds of different recipes for this, and I certainly don’t claim the following as authentic. Not even close. In fact, my version is a total mash-up, and even then I change it around, depending on my mood. But in my book adaptability is a sign of a great recipe, plus mucking about is fun. I think traditionally, like many cucina povera dishes, pasta e fagioli is meatless. I also believe it’s meant to be runnier, like a soup. I make my version thick and serve as a plated pasta. Easy to eat and very satisfying.

The key to the success of this recipe is in the sausages. Honestly, if you don’t have good Italian sausages, don’t bother making it. Without them the dish will turn out ordinary. With them, it’ll be delicious. But as I’m sure you know, using quality ingredients is the secret to getting the best out of all recipes.

Look for lovely chunky pork sausages with plenty of seasoning. Fennel is a must, and if you can score ones with chilli in them as well, even better.

Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

Serves 4

My Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 fat Italian sausages

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dried chilli flakes to taste (if the sausages are chilli-less), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon

400g can tomato polpa (or used tinned tomatoes and crush them up with your hands or a potato masher)

½ cup (125ml) beef stock

400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

250g macaroni (or any small pasta – tiny penne works well as tubetti and ditalini)

Grated parmesan to serve

Method

Squeeze the sausage meat from the casings and chop if really chunky or you can feel gristly bits.

Squeezed out Italian sausage meat

Heat a good splodge of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Throw in onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Cooking chopped onion

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Increase the heat a little and add sausage meat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add tomato paste, chopped tomato, chilli (if needed) and stock, then simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

Simmering tomato and sausage meat

Taste and season as needed, then stir in beans to heat through.

Tomato, sausage mince and beans

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, add to the sauce and mix.

Spoon onto plates and serve with plenty of grated parmesan, and watch those plates clear!

Empty plate

Okey-dokey, cos I’m feeling in the mood for one, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Hmm, which book shall I put up for grabs? I had planned to give away a print copy of Summer and the Groomsman but, annoyingly, they’re not ready yet (gah!). How about a copy of my debut Promises by Cathryn Heinrelease Promises instead? I love that story. It’s a bit Romeo and Juliette-ish, is set in south-east South Australia where I’m from, and has lots of gorgeous horses. Perfect!

Already have a copy? That’s okay. If you win, you can always give the copy away as a present. I’ll sign it to whoever you like.

So, to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Promises, simply leave a comment revealing your favourite pasta or noodle dish.

How’s that for easy peasy?

I’ve just shared mine, although I do have many other recipes in my collection that I adore. Veal ragù with home-made papardelle springs to mind – that dish is amaaaazing – and I just love spinach and ricotta canneloni. Ooh, and how can one go past pumpkin ravioli with sage butter? That dish is like eating autumn!

So what’s your favourite? Share and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 17th November 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, there’s plenty to discover on this website, including a fun video on my About page on How To Grow An Australian Romance Author, plus The Story Behind each book and more on its book page. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter using @CathrynHein, Google +, Goodreads and Pinterest.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

10 Replies

Greetings Feasty lovelies, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast, coming to you again from the mighty metropolis of Melbourne where I’ve been for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. What a ball we had. I promise to post lots of photos for you when I get home. In the meantime you can enjoy this Friday Feast from me, where I wax lyrical about one of my favourite food destinations.

Cathryn Hein playing golfBut first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Not a lot of golf to talk about thanks to the conference but I did sneak down the Mornington Peninsula for a hit during the week. It was not pretty. The course was playing mean, it was bloody freezing, and I lost to His Majesty after being four shots up. Gah! But while the golf might have been ordinary, the views were good and the miserable day gave us the excuse to snuggle up in an Irish pub afterward with pints of Guinness and some hot, hearty food. There’s always a silver lining!

This week I’m going to feature my debut novel, Promises, which hit shelves almost four years ago to the day, on the 29th August 2011. Such an exciting time!

PROMISES

Promises by Cathryn HeinA father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret. . . and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron’s Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families.

As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

This is such a wonderful book, with feuding families, deep secrets, loads of romance and a whole lot of good feeling. I’m horribly biased of course, but this story is completely sigh-worthy. If you missed Teaser Tuesday this week, there’s a little snippet for your reading pleasure there, plus a another extract on the Promises book page. Or why not just buy the whole book? You know you want to… Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite book store or e-tailer.

All set? Good. Now come enjoy some happy foodie snaps from Mighty Melbournetown!

To Market, To Market!

I’ve never been shy about how much I adore Melbourne. It’s my favourite Australian capital. Melbourne has a great vibe, one of action and excitement, of fantastic food and culture, of interesting architecture and art, and it’s the spiritual home of that most excellent and pervable of sports, Australian Rules Football.

Pasta at Queen Victoria Market

Seafood at Queen Victoria Market

In many ways, it’s the city I grew up with. Mount Gambier, my home town, is almost equidistant between Adelaide and Melbourne. Being South Australian, you’d think we’d gravitate to our own capital for big city experiences but it was Melbourne that we frequented most. I guess simply because it was so much bigger. Or it could be that the road was easier. Driving to Adelaide via the Coorong was, admittedly, scenic but back then the road was pretty ordinary, and the alternative route through the upper south-east not much better, whereas Victoria’s Glenelg Highway and Princes Highway weren’t too bad. But that could be my faulty childhood memory. The older I get the more I find discover how many tricks that can play.

Olives at Queen Victoria Market

Cheese at Queen Victoria Market

I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Melbourne twice. The first time was post-university when I was employed by a pasture seed company that had a depot in Melbourne. The second time was in 2012 when Jim scored a brief posting here. Boy-oh-boy, did we make the most of that year. I think we spent every weekend doing something, whether it was going to the footy, taking a ferry up the Yarra, visiting a museum or gallery, shopping up a storm, or lunching at one of Melbourne’s many great restaurants.

Chicken nibbles at Queen Victoria Market

Offal at Queen Victoria Market

One of my absolute favourite things to do in Melbourne is visit the markets. The South Melbourne Markets were our regular haunt in 2012 but before then it was either Prahran Market or Queen Victoria Market.

Octopus and Cuttlefish at Queen Victoria Market

Chillies at Queen Victoria Market

Visiting Queen Vic late on a Saturday morning back in the 90s was a blast, especially the meat and seafood areas. The butchers and fishmongers would be in a mad scramble to shift stock before closing and if you timed it right you could snag some real bargains. Our favourite was 3 rolled beef seasoned roasts for $10 and trays of crumbed schnitzel for ridiculous prices. It was noisy, crowded and great theatre, and I revelled in it.

Gurnard at Queen Victoria Market

Fruit and Veg at Queen Victoria Market

Fishmonger at Queen Victoria Market

Female pork cuts at Queen Victoria Market

Naturally, being in Melbourne this past week for the RWA conference, I couldn’t miss another trip back to the market. We needed cheese and salumi to munch on and I wanted new ugg boots, and I just like the colour, atmosphere and interesting produce.

Duck eggs at Queen Victoria Market

Duck Breasts at Queen Victoria Market

Deli at Queen Victoria Market

Bread at Queen Victoria Market

What’s your favourite shopping experience? I’d love to hear recommendations, even if it’s not foodie.

While I adore Melbourne’s markets, I have to admit that my best shopping experiences have been overseas. Wandering through the ancient streets of Aix-en-Provence on market days is still one of the most vivid memories of our years in France. There was always something fascinating and the produce stalls were amazing.

What about you? Where can you recommend to shop?

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore my website. You’ll find everything from my book releases to past Friday Feasts and other blog posts. You might even discover some secret things about me. If you’d like to connect with me elsewhere, I’m on Facebook, Twitter as @CathrynHein, Google+, Goodreads and Pinterest.

For all the latest news and new releases, plus free short stories and other goodies, please sign up to my newsletter. I luuuurve newsletter subscribers and treat them super-special.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

Teaser Tuesday!

8 Replies

Welcome to another Teaser Tuesday! The weekly series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress.  This week I’m celebrating a birthday. Not mine, one of my book’s!

Teaser TuesdayIt was this time in August 2011 that my first rural romance Promises hit the shelves. Oh, I adore this book! Racehorse trainer Aaron’s and his farming neighbour Sophie’s story is super romantic and it looks like they’re never going to get together. Aaron holds such a terrible secret in his heart and no matter how many times Sophie tries to tell him otherwise, he knows the moment she discovers the truth behind her mother’s death any love Sophie has for him will be destroyed.

Cosmopolitan magazine wrote: “Take two feuding families with a dark history, add two beautiful offspring from those families, and let the angst-ridden romance begin.”

Sounds a tad Romeo and Juliet but never fear, being a romance, this one all ends happily in the end.

If you haven’t tried Promises it’s available now in paperback and ebook from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Now enjoy this little snippet from one of my most adored stories.

Aaron and Sophie have taken refuge from a storm in the back of Sophie’s horse float…

 

The aluminium sides of the float vibrated as thunder rumbled overhead. She gave Buck another glance, but he appeared fine. She turned back to Aaron. He leaned stiffly against the right-hand chest bar with his hat in his hands, watching her.

‘I suppose we’ll just have to wait,’ she said.

‘It’ll blow over soon enough. In ten minutes the sun will probably start shining.’

Promises by Cathryn Hein‘Yep. Typical western districts weather. Four seasons in one day.’

With the ramp and top rear doors closed and little light penetrating the tinted windows, it was strangely intimate inside the float. The comforting, familiar smell of leather, hay and horse hung in the still air. The spacious float seemed cramped and small, and unable to accommodate two people at once.

Despite the cold, Sophie’s skin flushed in the close confines. Aaron’s eyes seemed anchored to hers, but not in a way she wanted. He was scrutinising her, in the same way a child would observe an insect, as though she were something alien and scary, but awesome    and fascinating at the same time.

‘I wonder if they’ll cancel the presentation,’ she said.

He didn’t answer.

‘You should probably leave.’

‘I want to stay.’

‘Oh.’ She took a deep breath, trying to summon up the courage to ask why. He said something but she couldn’t hear him through the rain. ‘Sorry, what did you say?’

‘Do you wish I hadn’t come?’

‘No. I’m glad you’re here.’ She took a step toward him. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed. She took his hand and held it with both of hers. ‘It means a lot.’

He swallowed again and gave her a tight smile. ‘I’m glad,’ he said, and then, very gently, he removed his hand from her grip.

©Cathryn Hein

Click to subscribe to my newsletter

New Cover For PROMISES

2 Replies

On August 27th, the smaller (and cheaper) ‘B’ format paperback edition of my debut rural romance PROMISES will hit the shelves, complete with a swanky new cover.

Isn’t it lovely? I adored the original with the couple gazing into each other’s eyes, but this one’s gorgeous. Then again, I’m a terrible sucker for a noble headed horse!

Don’t yet own a copy of Promises? Pre-order this new edition from Booktopia or Bookworld. The ebooks are also available right now from Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

 

Promises by Cathryn Hein

A father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

10 Replies

Hello Feasters! Yes, it’s ME on Friday Feast today, all ready to spoil you with something deliciously bad for you but perfect for winter. However, I know you’re itching to hear the latest Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Much to our shock, after combining well last week Jim and I headed into the second round our club’s foursomes championships as the nett score leaders. Alas, the curse struck. We were poo. Collapsed in screaming heap of three putts and duffed shots. My darling Swannies, however, did not, beating Richmond by 11 points and leaving them in third behind the Hawks only on percentage. Rah! Now, the second half of this year is rather exciting for me. Not only will The French Prize release in September, my debut rural romance Promises is re-releasing at the end of August in the smaller and cheaper ‘B’ format with a new cover (which I can’t show you just yet). This is a lovely book with a gorgeous story, a courageous heroine and a hero torn by his past. Truly sigh-worthy (if I do say so myself!). Plus lots of funny horses. Take a look.

PROMISES

Promises by Cathryn HeinA father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all. Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie. Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her. You can buy Promises right now with just a few clicks. Try Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, or direct from the publisher Penguin.

Winter Nesting

Ah, comfort food. From thick, vege laden soups through to slow-cooked casseroles and fantastically fattening desserts, there is nothing quite like loading up on rich food in the winter. There’s something so warm and homely about a house that smells of good food when it’s miserable outside. We call it “nesting” in the Hein house. Kind of like date night but without going out. Usually there’ll be some sort of casserole, tagine or curry burbling away in the oven or on the stovetop. Something that requires a long, slow cook like spicy lamb shanks, beef in beer, our awesome goat tagine recipe, or even one of our favourite curries (of which we have many). While that’s cooking, we’ll have the stereo going, maybe a Guinness will be cracked, and I’ll be working on some sort of tasty dessert that we won’t need but we’ll eat anyway. The house will smell wonderful and feel cosy and we’ll be all snug and happy. Seriously, if it weren’t for the cold, winter would be my favourite season simply because of the food. It’s 11 degrees and raining as I write this. Last Friday I finished the 2nd draft of The Falls, my 2015 rural romance, which means I’m having a little holiday before knuckling down to my next romantic adventure. Time to indulge in recipes like the one I’m about to share. Something that has winter and nesting written all over it. It’s luscious, beautiful tasting and not terribly healthy. But who cares? You can exercise it off in the spring.

Braised French Green Lentils with Sausages

2 tablespoons duck fat 1 onion, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 150 g mild pancetta, finely dicedMcKenzies French Style Green Lentils 2 celery stalks, finely diced 1 small carrot, finely diced 150 ml dry white wine 185 g French green lentils 3 sprigs thyme 2 bay leaves 1 litre beef stock 6 Toulouse sausages (or any other good quality pork sausage) Melt the duck fat over a medium heat in a heavy casserole. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft. Add pancetta, celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add wine, lentils, thyme, bay leaves and stock. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for approximately 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. When lentils are ready, grill the sausages. When they’re nicely done, spoon lentils onto plates and top with sausages. Enjoy!   Okay, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite naughty winter indulgence? Is it super-fattening chocolate pudding? Maybe pints of Guinness are more your go. Perhaps you like nestling down in your local pub or club or booking yourself into a day spa for some pampering. Or maybe, most excellent and discerning person that you are, you hang around bookshops, stocking up on goodies. Share and give us all ideas on how to make our winter special. Want to find out more about me than my love of naughty wintery comfort food? Check out my website. You can also find me playing around on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. And while you’re exploring, take a minute to sign up to my newsletter. All the news and releases and special things direct to your inbox. Sign up at the bottom of my Home page or via my Contact page.

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