Tag Archives: Rachel Bailey

Favourite Reads of October

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My Favourite Reads image

I read some pretty fab books in October, across a wide range of genres too. But the two highlights were both from Australian writers. Talented debut author Emma Viskic and well-established romance author Rachel Bailey, whose expertise in the genre shone through.

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Resurrection Bay by Emma ViskicLoved this book. Just loved it. A great Aussie crime novel and apparently the first in a series. Rah!

When Caleb Zelic finds a friend dead, he’s determined to uncover the killer and prove his own innocence. With business partner Frankie, Caleb sets on a dangerous path, one that leads him around the city and to his home town of Resurrection Bay. But the person they’re chasing is always one step ahead and soon Caleb doesn’t know who to trust.

What makes this book so memorable – besides the clever plotting, smart and authentic dialogue and great observations – are the characters. Caleb is profoundly deaf and determined to not let it interfere in his life. His relationships with his family and love interest are tangled and sometimes uneasy, adding even more intrigue to an already layered plot. Then we have ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Frankie, the peripheral folk of Resurrection Bay, and investigating police, all of whom seem to have secrets. Even the settings have unique personalities.

This book had drama, action, plenty of twists, humour and even a touch of romance. Highly recommended.

The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey

The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey coverIf you love contemporary romances, in particular the friends to lovers trope, then this book is for you.

Convinced it’s her kissing skills – or lack thereof – that’s ruining her love life, Scarlett Logan cons her best friend and housemate Finn into giving her lessons. Finn is gorgeous and a babe magnet; he’s bound to know what she’s doing wrong and how to fix it. But their first “lesson” ignites something neither expected and something Finn definitely doesn’t want. With their precious friendship on the line, can these two control their passions? Find out!

This was sweet, fun and deliciously romantic. A book to make you feel wonderful.

Also on my list were:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, a young adult zombie book I’ve wanted to read for donkey’s and which is apparently going to be made into a movie. I’d definitely watch that. I thought this had some fresh takes on the zombie genre – not that I’m an officianado but I liked it a lot for its different perspective.

Way Down Dark by James P. Smythe. Another young adult but this time sci-fi and the first in a trilogy. Great premise of a heroine trying to survive in a place called Australia. Except it’s not the country but a spaceship where people took refuge to escape a dying Earth. This started out sort of Hunger Games-ish and twisted into something else. Really rolled along.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I’m a sucker for a good crime novel and with Galbraith being a pseudonym of JK Rowling how could I resist? I enjoyed it too. Fab characters, especially the war veteran hero Cormoran Strike. I’ll be fascinated to find out how his relationship with Robin progresses.

Every Breath by Ellie Marney. Book blogger 1 Girl 2 Many Books put me on to this one. Being a Holmesian style tale (and I do love me some Sherlock), I had to give it a try. What a ride it was too. Loved the set-up with country-girl Rachel finding her way in the big smoke, and hero James Mycroft was wonderfully done, plus it was fun to read a book set in my favourite Australian city, Melbourne.

What were your favourite reads of October?

 

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FRIDAY FEAST with Rachel Bailey

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Hello tasty people, and welcome to Friday Feast, the blog series where Australian authors share their love of food, latest releases and more. This week it’s choc heaven so prepare to drool, plus we have a wonderful book giveaway!

But before that, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. After last week’s debacle in the Gold Brooch play-off I thought the only way was up but no. The barrel of my golfing despair has yet to have its bottom scraped. There were good shots, especially with my driver, but mostly they were bad. I appear to have a massive problem with looking at the ball, ie. I can’t seem Author Rachel Baileyto look at it at all. I may have to change from marking my balls with blue love hearts to pictures of Chris Hemsworth as Thor… shirtless. That’ll hold my focus!

And now on to today’s delicious guest. Rachel Bailey is a USA Today best-selling author whose books have been published in over 26 countries and translated into 16 languages. She also loves dogs. As everyone knows, dog lovers are the best people so that makes Rachel extra cool.

Rachel’s latest release is the very delectable looking The Finn Factor. Check it out.

THE FINN FACTOR

The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey coverSometimes all a girl needs is a little practice…

It’s been twelve months, three days, and eleven hours since accounting student Scarlett Logan made it past a second date. A pitcher of mojitos in hand, she employs her supreme graphing skills to narrow things down to one horrifying explanation. Kissing. Clearly someone needs to teach her how to kiss properly. Like, say, her best friend and roomie, Finn Mackenzie. He’s safe, he’s convenient, and yeah, maybe just a little gorgeous.

Finn knows exactly why Scarlett’s boyfriends are disappearing quickly. Him. Not a single guy she’s brought home is nearly good enough. And he’ll be damned if he lets some loser give her “kissing lessons.” No. He’ll do the honors, thank you very much. The moment their lips touch, though, everything turns upside down. But Scarlett deserves the one thing Finn can’t give her. And if he doesn’t put an end to the sexy little shenanigans, he’ll teach Scarlett the hardest lesson of all…heartbreak.

I LOVE the sound of this book! And you will love it too. The Finn Factor releases on September 28th but you can pre-order it right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble, and come the day it’ll be sitting in your reader, ready for devouring. Easy!

If you would like to taste test this delicious book, Rachel has an excerpt on her website. I also recommend you read her Sunday Smooch on the LoveCats DownUnder blog. It’s fantastic!

Now, for the really luscious part… Please give a big welcome to Rachel, who’s celebrating the world’s favourite foodstuff: chocolate.

Secret Ingredients to Make Chocolate Even Better

I’m a chocoholic. There’s a good size portion of my brain taken up with just thinking about chocolate and planning my next foray into the chocolate cupboard. So it’s pretty safe to say that A mug of hot chocolate with spice sprinkled on topI’ve done a bit of – how shall I say – chocolate experimentation over the years.

Most people have caught onto the chocolate and salt trick, courtesy of the salted caramel craze, but my brother and I were dipping our French fries into chocolate and/or caramel sundaes for years, though when I was older, I started a more sophisticated blend: salted popcorn in with our M&Ms.

A few other tips from my years of experimentation:

Hot Chocolate: you’ve tried cinnamon sprinkled on the top and you’re looking for your next taste sensation? Try cardamom. A friend added cardamom and cinnamon on my coffee years ago (apparently it’s a common treat in the Middle East), and I loved it. Of course, I also extended the idea to hot chocolate. It blends nicely but has an exotic flavour.

Ice-cream: I make chocolate ice-cream at home, and the chocolate was just never strong enough when I followed the recipes. A tip from a friend helped here – add a teaspoon of coffee. chocolate icecreamYou can’t taste it in the final product, but it makes the chocolate even chocolatier, kinda like adding sugar to tomatoes when they’re cooking. We never make it without coffee now!

Chocolate and chilli: You’ve tried the fancy chocolate and chilli and the expensive chocolate shops and want to recreate the effect at home? There are two ways I use – a sprinkle of chilli powder in my hot chocolate, but that’s limited to winter use. My other favourite way is smearing chocolate spread over toast, then adding a thin layer of sweet chilli sauce. It’s like there’s a whole party in your mouth.

So, over to you – any tips on chocolate combinations for me? Or, if you’re not a fan of chocolate, what’s your favourite combination of flavours? I’ll give a e-copy of The Finn Factor to one commenter!

*

What fantastic tips! I especially like the icecream one, Rachel. I’m going to try that one out because, like you’ve found, many recipes aren’t often chocolatey enough. And if you’re going to eat chocolate, there should be no holding back.

Now, my sweet Feasties, did you read the above? Rachel is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an e-book copy of The Finn Factor, either share one of your choc tips or favourite combination of food flavours and you’ll be in the draw.

I’ll start you off with my choc tip: if a recipe calls for dark choc, trying using the Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt. The salt seems to add extra oomph.

So what’s your tip or food combo favourite? Share and you’ll be in the draw to win The Finn Factor!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 29th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Rachel and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Pinterest and the fab LoveCatsDownUnder blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

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If you love romance, writing, or both, the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is the RWA Get Fresh logoplace for you. Every year I come away with my head spinning from all I’ve learned, my heart warm from all the darling friends I’ve caught up with and the new ones I’ve made, and my body buzzing at all the exciting ways in which we can give our readers the best reading experience possible.

The 2015 conference, held recently at the glorious Park Hyatt in Melbourne, was no exception.

On a professional front, the highlights for me were Angela Ackerman’s Friday workshops Larger than Life Characters and Show Don’t Tell, CS Pacat’s How To Plot A Page Turner, Sarah Mayberry’s and Sara Hood’s Marketing Masterclass, and the ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now’ published author panel. Social highlights? Well, let’s just say every day was a social highlight!

Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend. As you can see, there was plenty of laughter, great information, and even a few dress-ups.

COCKTAIL PARTYRWA Cocktail Party - Crowd

A happy crowd. You would not believe how loud it was.

RWA Cocktail Party - Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West

Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West.

RWA Cocktail Party - Harlequin Australia ladies

Harlequin Australia ladies Lilia Kanna and Michelle Lee looking gorgeous.

RWA Cocktail Party - Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Trish Morey and Marion Lennox.

RWA Cocktail Party - Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie

Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie.

RWA Cocktail Party

Robin Aldridge and Fiona McArthur, both attending their TWENTY-FOURTH conference in a row. How cool is that!

RWA Cocktail Party - Michelle Conder. Annie West and Me

Michelle Conder, Annie West and me.

CONFERENCE

Angela Ackerman Workshop - collage of slides

Some of the slides from Angela Ackerman’s brilliant Friday workshops.

RWA Conference - Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti

Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti.

RWA Conference - Tricia Stinger and Cathryn Hein

Tricia Stringer and me.

CS Pacat's fantastic How To Plot A Page Turner - slide collage

C.S Pacat’s session on How To Plot a Page Turner was soooo good. Fantastic information.

RWA Conference - Maggie Le Page

New Zealand author Maggie Le Page, who won the guess the number of jelly beans competition, lucky thing.

Marketing Masterclass - slide collage

Some of the great slides from Sara Hood’s and Sarah Mayberry’s Marketing Masterclass session. The full set of slides from the presentation can be found on Sara’s Marketing4Writers website.

RWA Conference - my raffle prize

My raffle prize: martini glasses and two Sandy Curtis romantic suspense novels. Rah!

RWA Conference - morning tea

Morning tea. More loudness, but with cake.

ARRA BOOKSIGNING

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein

Me and Hot Chocolate the Blow Up Wonder Horse.

ARRA Booksigning - Meredith Appleyard

Meredith Appleyard.

ARRA Booksigning - Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Le Page

Maggie Le Page.

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein and Helene Young

Me and Helene Young.

ARRA Booksigning - Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer takes her books very seriously.

ARRA Booksigning - Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss, who I had the great pleasure of sitting next to.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey

Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey.

ARRA Booksigning - fans lined up

Eager fans!

RWA GALA AWARDS DINNER

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - pre dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinkies.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner

Celebrating all our achievements thanks to Anne Gracie’s stand-ups.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Ruby winner Amy Andrews

Ruby winner Amy Andrews received many lipsticky congratulations on her win.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Dance lessons

Dance lessons thanks to the Escape After Party.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Rachel Bailey and Annie West

Rachel Bailey and Ruby Award winner Annie West in the cocktail bar.

OTHER STUFF

RWA Book haul

My book haul! Although I may have read that bottom one a few times.

RWA Conference - cafe entertainment

Entertainment in the Hyatt’s cafe. Very civilised.

Melbourne - Yarra River

Melbourne looking pretty at night.

My huge thanks to Kate Ledsen, Kate Belle and their team, along with the RWA committee and all the volunteers for putting on such a wonderful conference. Very fresh indeed!

As you can see from the above, romance authors are super-savvy about their business and craft, generous with their time and expertise, and know how to have a good time. If you’re searching for your writing tribe, perhaps the RWA is the place for you. It certainly is for me.

 

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FRIDAY FEAST with Rachel Bailey

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Happy Friday, Feasters! We’re back to normal guest programming now Heartland is well and truly out in the world, and what a lovely guest we have too.RachelBailey

Australian author Rachel Bailey writes for Harlequin Desire, with 7 titles to her name. If you like sexy, romantic and fantastically rich alpha heroes who have everything but the right woman, then Rachel has a book for you! She’s a USA Today best-seller and former President of the Romance Writers of Australia and knows exactly what readers want so you know you’ll be in for a cracking read.

Her latest release is No Stranger to Scandal. Check it out…

 

NO STRANGER TO SCANDAL

 

NoStrangerScandalAustSmallDecorum Vs. Destiny

She might be the stepdaughter of one of the most powerful media moguls in Washington, but Lucy Royall is no pampered princess—she’s making her own way as a junior reporter. But when congressional investigator Hayden Black accuses her stepfather of criminal wrongdoing, she shows her family loyalty and takes Hayden on. Then, as things heat up, the sexy single dad takes her to bed! Talk about a conflict of interest. Will their illicit passion turn into something more lasting, even in the face of controversy so huge it rocks a nation?

 

 

Sounds deliciously hot, doesn’t it? Australian readers, you might still be able to find a paper copy of No Stranger to Scandal in your local bookstore. Or visit our favourite online retailer, Booktopia. You could also try eHarlequin or Amazon. For the ebook version, clickety-click on over to Kobo, Kindle (Amazon), Nook, eHarlequin, Google Play or iTunes.

Now please welcome Rachel.

 

An Eggstravaganza!

 

I have to admit something: I’m a very lucky girl. My husband makes our breakfast every day—without being asked, just because he loves to. And not just something slapped together, no. He makes Works of Breakfast Art. Omelettes made from organic eggs, with olives, fetta, and parsley from the garden. Scrambled eggs with oven roasted tomatoes and fresh basil, served with organic Turkish bread.

The picture is the omelette he made me on Valentine’s Day this year (hence the good china).

Valentine

Which brings me to my second admission: I’m not fond of eggs. I eat them because I know they’re good for me and it’s what my husband likes to cook and eat.

Be careful what you wish for, right? I have a man who chefs up amazing breakfasts every single day, and I’m incredibly grateful, don’t get me wrong, but…

What I normally try to do is disguise the taste of eggs. I’ve tried chilli sauce—that works quite well. Extra fetta, olives and semi-dried tomatoes also usually do the trick. The home-grown herbs have a flavour strong enough to help.

Some days, he’ll make fluffy blueberry pancakes and serve with maple syrup or homemade Bircher muesli with orange juice and yoghurt. I live for those days. His belief in eggs, however, is strong enough that we still have them most of the time.

So I’m asking for suggestions: what’s your favourite omelette ingredient? What other ingredients can I use in an omelette to disguise the taste of eggs?

 

Ahh, a tricky one, Rachel. I love a good egg, especially eggs from home or farm chooks. They always have the best flavour. I made a frittata this week, with potatoes, chorizo, spinach and spring onions. Not a whole lot of eggy flavour there thanks to the chorizo.

What do you think, Feasters? What can Rachel hide that egg taste with? Help a damsel in distress. I’m sure you’ll have lots of clever ideas.

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

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachel Bailey

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Now, Feasters, lay down that checked tablecloth, plonk that bottle of chianti on top, shuffle the iPod to That’s Amore and channel your inner Sophia Lauren, because this week on Friday Feast we’re talking everyone’s favourite Neapolitan snack food, PIZZA.

And who better to discuss such a worthy topic than USA Today bestselling author and Romance Writers of Australia President Rachel Bailey. Hanging with the movers and shakers. Yep, that’s us.

Besides walking the corridors of power in RWA central, Rachel writes deliciously intense, fast-paced modern romances for Harlequin Desire. Now, if you’ve never read a Desire, then I suggest you duck down to your nearest store and grab yourself one (preferably a title by one of our many, very talented  Australian authors) because they are fabulous reads. Powerful, passionate and provocative. The sort you can’t stop gobbling down. A bit like pizza, really.

A prime example of what Desires are all about is Rachel’s newest release, What Happens in Charleston…  Take a look.

 

What Happens in Charleston…

Money has always given Matthew Kincaid whatever he wanted. Yet now his son needs something even his millions can’t buy. The widower’s sole recourse is the surrogate who gave birth to his child – for she is also the boy’s true biological mother.

Susannah Parrish needs no prodding to offer her assistance – a child’s life is at stake. But to their mutual surprise, the minute she’s back in Charleston and residing in Matthew’s home, passion consumes them. Is this a relationship doomed by deception? Or is it the one chance at a love they both secretly crave?

 

I’d buy this book from the title alone but that blurb? Ooh, la la!

Now here’s Rachel.

 

Two People, A Paddle and a Pizza Stone

Hubby and I went for a great lunch at a friend’s place a couple of months ago where we had pizzas that our friend made on his new pizza stone. We were hooked. It all looked so easy and the result was scrumptious. We couldn’t wait to buy our own stone and make great pizzas ourselves.

I should say at this point that I’m very fond of food. This will surprise no one who knows me. Or, I guess, anyone who’s read one of my books because I usually mention food somewhere (though sometimes I’m more subtle than others).

For example, in What Happens in Charleston…, Susannah is staying with Matthew and his little boy while the boy has some medical treatment and she takes on the job of cooking the meals. And every night, she ends the meal with a rich, decadent, sinful dessert. Coffee and hazelnut cheesecake. Crème brulee. Triple chocolate mousse.

Let me tell you, coming up with the actual desserts Susannah made was no chore – it was one of my favourite parts of writing the book. Hubby and I love eating dessert and love discovering and making new ones. In fact, we love cooking and experimenting with new methods and ingredients for savoury food as well.

So buying a pizza stone and making our own pizzas should be a cinch, right? Hmmm…

The first time we used it, hubby made a gorgeous roast pumpkin and caramelized onion pizza with a herbed tomato sauce over the home-made base. Only problem was, it was completely baked *onto* the stone. We had to pull it away, bit by bit, meaning the toppings fell off as we did. Once it was free (and we’d left half the thickness of the base on the stone), we reassembled the toppings and served. The base (what was left of it) wasn’t cooked through, but other than that, it was delicious.

Afterwards, I did something only the truly desperate do – I read the instructions. Oh, you’re supposed to put the stone in a *cold* oven? Well, that would probably make a difference. We had made sure the oven was up to temperature before putting the stone in. Right, we’ll know better for the next pizza.

The second time we used it, we were careful to assemble the pizza on the stone *before* we turned the oven on. This pizza was olive, fetta, semi-dried tomato and char-grilled capsicum. I couldn’t wait! We were ready to pop it in the oven when I had an idea so brilliant, so fiendishly simple, that it will impress you. I decided to read the instructions to the *end* (instead of stopping after the bit about a cold oven like last time).

Turned out we had a slight problem. Yes, the stone goes into a cold oven and warms more evenly as the oven heats up, but the stone goes in that cold oven *without* the pizza. Oh.

It made total sense – a hot pizza stone would sear the bottom of the base enough that it wouldn’t stick. Brilliant! Problem was, our pizza was already on the stone and not keen on coming off again. It took four hands and several kitchen implements but we eventually got the base off, onto the floured paddle that had come with the stone (we’d wondered what that was for!), cleaned the stone and put it in a cold oven.

The resultant pizza was again delicious, if slightly misshapen after all the extra handling.

This weekend we’re planning on making our third pizza on our new pizza stone. We intend to 1) heat the pizza stone in a cold oven until it’s hot, 2) make the pizza on the paddle (that has a layer of flour to stop it sticking) before slipping it onto the stone, and 3) have different toppings to the first two.

So I’ll make you a deal: I’ll share our easy peasy pizza recipe if you give me some suggestions for vegetarian-friendly toppings for our third attempt. I’ll give away a copy of What Happens in Charleston… to one commenter.

 

Easy Peasy Pizza Base:

1¾ cup self raising flour

½ cup grated cheese

¼ cup oil

½ cup hot water

Mix together and press into the base / plate / pizza paddle.

Then I spread with a tomato-y base (fried onion and garlic, with tinned tomato added when onion is cooked, and herbs to taste). Or with pesto, depending on my mood. Then top with all manner of yummy toppings and bake for 35 minutes.

 

Ahh, pizza, such a joy. Although perhaps not so much when it sticks to the stone. Thanks, Rachel, for your hugely entertaining post. Glad that stone is coming good for you. We love our ours at Chez Hein. We had two until I dropped one on the tiles and shot stone shards all over the kitchen and into my foot. There was a stage when we used to sprinkle the surface with polenta before slapping on the pizza, but now we just turn the oven up to flat out and the stone gets so hot the dough seals straight away. Not as good as a proper pizza oven but it beats a takeaway any day.

 

So, Feasters, you heard Madame Prez, share your favourite vegetarian pizza topping and you could win a copy of her fabulous new Desire release, What Happens in Charleston…

Entries close midnight AEST, Tuesday 27th March 2012. Open internationally.

 

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

 

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Imelda. A copy of What Happens In Charleston… will be winging its way to you soon. Thanks to all who visited and commented. We had some absolutely delicious-sounding suggestions for pizza toppings.  Enough to keep Rachel (and the rest of us) going for quite a while.