Tag Archives: Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayTime for another tantalising treat thanks to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress, and occasionally let author buddies take over.

I’ve just received edits for Wayward Heart which is very exciting. The book is definitely on its way! I had planned to share a little bit from it but the manuscript is covered in mark-ups and editing notes and a bit messy, and sharing is probably left best for another time, when it’s cleaner. I’m sure Jasmine and Digby would much prefer to be shown off at their best.

Instead, let’s have a few paragraphs from Rocking Horse Hill, the book in which Jasmine is first introduced. Jas is the heroine Emily’s best friend and known for her big heart and sense of fun. Here she is with Em and Teagan (Teagan’s story is continued in The Falls) at Em’s property where they’ve gathered for a girly gossip and to clip their horses for the show season. As you do when you’re horsey gals!

 

Hoping she might learn from the others, or at least calm a little, the girls agreed to leave fractious Astra until last. The filly paced the stable, poking her head out of the half-door before jerking back inside to wheel another agitated circuit. Lod paid her no attention, content to stand dutifully on the concrete in the sun, waiting for his clipping, off-hind leg cocked and his hoof resting on its point. His head was down and eyes half-closed in a doze like his old friend Ox, now equally slumberous in Lod’s stable.

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein‘Honestly, you’d send her to the knackers if she weren’t so stunning,’ said Jas, shaking her head as Astra embarked on yet another restless round.

‘She just needs to mature,’ said Em.

Teagan reached up to scratch Astra’s nose. ‘She’s only four.’

‘Ox was calm at four.’

‘Yes, but Ox had no balls.’

Jas grinned and blew a kiss at Ox. The big grey twitched his ears and blinked across the half-door before returning to sleep. ‘Poor thing. I wonder if he misses them.’ She turned back to Em who was perched on a crate, clippers in hand, palm pushing over Lod’s mane so she could clip the top-side of his neck. ‘Speaking of balls, how are things with Josh the Sexpot?’

 

Rocking Horse Hill is available in paperback and ebook from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite retailer. You’ll also find photos and inside information about how I came to write the book on its ‘The Story Behind’ page.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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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.

As I checked back through my schedule to see what teasers had been featured recently, I was amazed to discover that I have yet to post any from Rocking Horse Hill. Time to remedy the situation.

Rocking Horse Hill is the first in a series of three loosely related books covering three female friends. Rocking Horse Hill tells Emily Wallace-Jones’s story while The Falls follows Teagan Bliss into her new life. News about the third book, featuring Jasmine Thomas, is just around the corner, so stayed tuned for that. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll hear it first. There’s also a spin-off novella from the series – Summer and the Groomsman – and I have plans for more. Seems I can’t let go!

But back to Rocking Horse Hill

I don’t know about you, but I adore a first kiss. It’s so exciting! And with a romance, a kiss usually involves a lot more than just a joining of mouths. There’s a whole of emotion behind it, and in some instances a lot of baggage. Which is definitely the case with Josh and Em.

Enjoy!

 

Josh ruffled Muffy’s ears before turning to Em. ‘Thanks for tonight. It was great.’

‘You’re welcome.’

They stared at one another. The CD finished. Wind threaded through the roof and brushed against the house.

‘So.’

‘So.’Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

The temperature rose.

He leaned forward to kiss her cheek but the kiss lingered. The tiny hairs on her skin stirred against his breath. She could feel his swallow of hesitancy, then his long exhale as he made his decision. Another kiss: soft, fluttery. Heat swept her body, scattering it with  delicious prickles.

Em closed her eyes against the pull of yearning. ‘Josh . . .’

His lips crept in a series of butterfly touches towards her mouth, leaving little puckers of ecstasy in their wake, the chasing skim of his stubble shooting thrills down her back. ‘I know.’

‘It’s too soon.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Then . . .’

And suddenly she didn’t care. It was simply him, back where she needed him.

©Cathryn Hein

Find out what happens next by reading your own copy of Rocking Horse Hill. Purchase from Booktopia, Bookdepository, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, your favourite bookstore or ebook retailer.

For more information about the book, including review quotes, The Story Behind and another excerpt, please visit the Rocking Horse Hill book page.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayTime for another tantalising treat thanks to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress, and occasionally let author buddies take over.

Today a couple of paragraphs from a Christmas novella I’ve been working on called Santa and the Saddler. I’m only a couple of chapters in and can’t give it too much attention at the moment because my next full-length rural romance must take priority, but it’s looking to be fun.

The story is set in Levenham, the same as Rocking Horse Hill and Summer and the Groomsman, and introduces a couple of new characters. I’m not sure yet if any of familiar crew will rate a mention but I suspect they’ll sneak in somewhere, even if it’s only for a line or two.

Here’s a little taste of hero Danny Burroughs.

 

The pub was already rocking when he arrived. Thanks to boisterous young singles returning from university or new careers elsewhere to their hometown for Christmas, this time of year it always was. Drawn by the fun atmosphere, plenty of regulars and other assorted locals had sidled in for a drink too, and Danny endured calls of ‘Nice suit!’ and ‘Ho ho ho!’ as he made his way to the bar. He surreptitiously gave those he knew well the finger, the others he just waved off, smiling through gritted teeth.

The publican –  a bit too much into the spirit of things for Danny’s liking – had decided that this year, for the week leading up to Christmas, the staff would dress as Christmas characters. Danny had drawn the short straw and scored Santa. Tall and rangy, with spiky dark hair and blue eyes, Danny was as far from Santa as a bloke could get. Barry, the grey-haired night manager, had fared even worse as Mrs Claus, while Karen Simms, who’d been working at the pub almost as long as Barry, had drawn Frosty the Snowman. The only person who looked good was Lily, one of the casual female bar staff, who instead of appearing ridiculous like him, looked as cute as a button in her elf suit. If Danny’s mate Ben hadn’t already claimed dibs, Danny would have tried for her himself, but the two men had their code and Lily was off limits.

Which meant another Christmas spent single.

©Cathryn Hein

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayAfter a brief hiatus to celebrate the release of my new rural romance Summer and the Groomsman, Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share tasty morsels of works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels, is back. Rah!

Now that the excitement has died down a little, it’s time to refocus and start writing my next book. If only I knew what that was. I have three stories all clamouring to be told, and another abandoned story begging to be finished. This week it’s decision time. I predict much angsting ahead.

Speaking of angsting (like that segue?), let’s share a little of it from my May rural romance release, The Falls. This story revolves around Teagan Bliss, a character you might remember from Rocking Horse Hill. Broken-hearted after a family betrayal, Teagan has fled South Australia for New South Wales and her Aunt Vanessa’s property in the beautiful Falls Valley where she hopes to heal and find her new path in life. Easier said than done!

This is fun scene in Vanessa’s pool where Teagan is trying to relax after a hard day repairing fences, only to be interrupted by the worst (and sexiest!) person possible, local farrier Lucas Knight.

 

The water was bliss, warm enough to be pleasant but cool enough to soak away the heat and hard work of the day. She swam laps before gliding to the middle to lie on her back with her eyes closed in an effort to clear her thoughts. She sang songs in her head, concentrated on the metallic pings of the water, yet no matter how she tried, her mind remained filled with memories of Pinehaven.

And each passing image brought another slow leak of tears.

Cover of The Falls by Cathryn Hein‘Mind if I join you?’

Teagan splashed and turned in fright, swallowing a gush of water as she did. She emerged coughing and hacking with her hair plastered over the front of her face, cutting off her vision. She swept it back, only for the pound in her heart to hammer even worse when she saw who stood at the edge of the pool.

She opened her mouth and shut it, then looked around in a panic. Her towel was thrown over the far seat of the outdoor setting. She’d have to walk a good five metres in her bikini to fetch it, exposing every bony inch of her underweight frame to Lucas.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, in his deep, smile-filled voice. ‘I grew out of peeing in the pool. You’re safe.’

She glanced back at him again and found herself repeating her gormless cod-mouth gape, only this time it wasn’t due to shock. The man had abs. A full-on sixpack. And hair. A sexy line of it that traced across his chest and down to the top of his board shorts. For some reason she’d expected him to be hairless. One of those blokes who went for waxing because it made his muscles stand out better. But here he was, radiating manliness like Adonis come to life.

©Cathryn Hein

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Hello again from Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share tasty morsels of works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels.

STeaser Tuesdayeeing as I’m currently reading final proofs of my upcoming rural romance novella, Summer and the Groomsman – release details coming very, VERY soon – I figured it must be time to share another little snippet from the story (if you missed the first one, you’ll find it on this Teaser Tuesday).

I love this story. It’s sweet and a little funny, and familiar characters from The Falls and Rocking Horse Hill make cameo appearances, including Granny B, who’s up to her usual mischief. Plus there’s a wedding and we all love one of those.

Summer and the Groomsman‘s sighworthy cover and pre-order links will be revealed over the next week to newsletter subscribers, so if you haven’t already signed up, make sure you do right now!

In the meantime, enjoy this glimpse of big Harry Argyle, the hero of Summer and the Groomsman, as he readies for a wedding party bonding session at Levenham’s Lush Spa and Beauty.

 

“Everyone here?” asked Dollybird.

Em nodded. “And looking forward to it.”

“Great. Everything’s prepared.” She smiled at them in turn. “Now, girls first.” From the corridor behind emerged three equally slim women wearing outfits that seemed more appropriate for a pharmacy or science lab than a beauty salon. “Em, you’re with Megan. Jas, if you’ll go with Sandy? And Teagan, we’ve paired you with Katie.”

Em planted a kiss on Josh’s mouth before waving at Harry and Dig, and with a call of “Enjoy!” trailed her beautician down the corridor. Jas followed suit, throwing Dig a wink as she went.

Teagan touched Harry lightly on the arm. “Just relax. You’ll be fine.” Then she leaned close. “But if they offer you an enema, say no.” And with a giggle she trotted off, leaving Harry feeling faint from the blood that had just drained from his face to pool in his boots. Enema? Enema?

© Cathryn Hein 2015

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FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Greetings food and book lovers, and welcome to another slurpalicious edition of Friday Feast. This week you again have the pleasure of my company, and I have a tasty and simple Asian inspired meal for you that you’ll love.

But as usual, let us endure the embarrassment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. I thought it was happening, I really did. There were definite signs of improvement last weekend My new blue oveheart marked golf balland I was beginning to feel a glimmer of confidence. Then, because I somehow qualified for this year’s Women’s Golf Nepean Gold Brooch, on Wednesday I zoomed up the road to play the final at Leonay Golf Club. It started so well… Par, then bogey (not so good) then another par. Rah! I had form! Alas, it then descended into what at times could only be called utter humiliation. On a positive note, it was a gorgeous day and the other ladies were lovely and kind. If only Oh, Great Golfing God had been, but the bugger hates me. Must be the blue love hearts I’ve painted on my balls.

Time for a look at one of my books. This week: Rocking Horse Hill. This is the first in a loosely related rural romance series I’ve nicknamed the Levenham Love Stories. The Falls is already out, Summer and the Groomsman is in production (news on that soon), and I’m currently working on another full-length related novel with the working title Admella Beach. So Rocking Horse Hill is ground zero, so to speak.

Take a look…

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

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.

A moving family drama and passionate love story by the author of Heartland, Promises and Heart of the Valley.

Romance. A sexy hero and clever heroine, both with complex pasts. An eerie volcano. A meddling granny. Family drama. Donkeys! What more could you want? Buy Rocking Horse Hill right now from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

And now for something slurpalicious.

My Leetle Dumpling…

I am a dumpling devotee, and proud of it.

I don’t mean European-type dumplings, made with flour and so on – although old-fashioned golden syrup dumplings are pretty tasty, and the occasional herb or cheesy dumpling-topped casserole can be a treat too. No, my dumpling love is for Asian-style dumplings. Little parcels of savoury goodness that can be anything from slippery to crunchy, and all textures in between.

They’re a sensation in flavour too, from interesting meat fillings to nourishing vegetables, even doughy delights on occasion. You can find them steamed, fried, boiled, or a combination. And they come in all shapes and sizes too, from crescents to buns to open-topped cups and prettily pleated balls.

With their flavours, aromas, texture and beauty, dumplings appeal across the senses. Plonk me in an Asian restaurant or noodle bar and my eyes will immediately go a-hunting for them. Any sort will do – potstickers, bao, buns, dimsum, wontons and more – there seem to be an endless array.

Sadly, you can’t eat out all the time. Well, you can, but that would mean no cooking and life without kitchen fun is too horrible to contemplate. And if, like me, you need your dumpling fix often, that means making them at home.

Fortunately, dumplings are dead easy.

No, don’t you look at me like that. They are! And I’m going to prove it with my recipe for dumpling soup.

I adore this soup. It’s simple and seriously tasty. Oh, and healthy. The soup itself is embarrassingly easy: stock, lemongrass, ginger, ketjap manis. The vegetable part is whatever you feel like.

It’s also versatile. These dumplings are made with prawn meat but I’ve made them with pork mince and chicken mince as well, to great success, varying the other ingredients to include spring onions, chilli, soy, whatever takes my fancy (leftovers of these versions are really tasty cold). Steamed spinach, soy and water chestnut is another fab combo.

Best of all, there should be enough dumplings remaining to serve with dipping sauce for extra indulgence!

I have no idea where the original recipe came from. I have a feeling it’s an amalgam of several, mashed around until I came up with a version that I liked most. All I know is that I’ve been making it for donkey’s and it’s foolproof. I make it for two as a main meal, but it can easily be divided to serve four. You just won’t have leftover dumplings.

So here it is. Enjoy!

Dumpling Soup

Cathryn's dumpling soup, ready to slurp

Ingredients

12 Australian green king prawns (approximately 12 prawns)

60g (approx) tinned water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped

3 French shallots (eschallots – the small brown, oniony ones), peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 egg

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 packet gow gee wrappers (30 wrappers). Wonton wrappers work fine too, you’ll just have triangles instead of crescents

1.5 litres of chicken stock. Vegetable stock works really well too

6 thick slices of fresh ginger

1 stem lemongrass, outer skin removed, the stem bashed about a bit to release flavour

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

Vegetables of your choosing. I tend to use variations of snow peas, spring onion, baby bok choy, choy sum, bean shoots and/or finely shredded cabbage. Whatever’s in the fridge crisper that requires very short or no cooking.

Method

Peel and devein your king prawns.

Australian green king prawns

Plonk the prawn meat, water chestnuts, shallots, sesame oil, egg and cornflour into a small blender and pulse. Don’t over process. It won’t matter if there’s a few chunky bits. In fact, they make the dumplings more interesting.

Chopped ingredients in processorNote: If you’re using pork or chicken mince, whiz the shallots and chestnuts (or whatever other flavours you’re using) until finely chopped, then add the other ingredients and pulse until just combined.

Lay out your gow gee wrappers on the bench. Have a pastry brush and a cup of water on standby.

Gow Gee wrappers laid out, ready for filling

Spoon about a teaspoon of prawn mix onto each wrapper.

Prawn filling on gow gee wrappers

Using the pastry brush, moisten the wrapper edges, then fold over and press firmly to seal. It doesn’t matter if some mix oozes out or there’s a few dodgy bits. These dumplings are very forgiving. Layer them on a plate and stick in the fridge until needed.

Filled dumplings

Pour the stock into a large saucepan. Add ginger, lemongrass and ketjap manis. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes or so. This stage can be done well in advance, if you need.

Saucepan of flavoured stock

Meanwhile, add your chopped veg to the bowls. Yes, they’re raw but when it’s poured over the hot stock will cook them to crunchy perfection.

Prepared soup bowls with the vegetables

When you’re ready to serve, bring the stock back to a good boil and lower in your dumplings, one by one. Because they’re cold, they’ll drop the temperature right down. Keep the heat high, stirring your dumplings gently, until the soup returns to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until all the dumplings are floating and look juicy and cooked.

Spoon however many dumplings you want for your soup into each bowl and pour over the stock.

Leave any leftover dumplings in the saucepan with a little stock so they don’t dry out or stick, lid on to keep them warm. Then, when you’ve finished your soup and if you have room in your belly, serve the dumplings on plates with a dipping sauce on the side. You can use straight soy, smears of chilli sauce, or I use this quick-to-make, tasty sauce. Simply mix together:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

Thinly sliced birdseye chilli. How much and whether you leave the seeds in or not depends on how hot you like it.

Dumpling with dipping sauce

And there you have it: dead simple dumpling love. Told you it was easy!

*

All right, Feasty darlings, what do you love to order or cook whenever you eat Asian food? What delectable dish or ingredient can’t you go past?

Besides dumplings, I am passionate about thick fresh rice noodles. Oh, how I adore those slippery strands. I’ve been known to travel across town to pick up good fresh rice noodles, and buy in bulk. My other favourite ingredient is chilli soybean paste. So hot! So good! So perfect with rice noodles!

What about you? Do you go giggly over gyoza? Perhaps shiver in delight over sago pudding with palm sugar syrup? Even get a tad loony over laksa? Curious minds would love to know!

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, please feel free to explore this website. There are plenty of cool things to discover, especially on the blog, my about page and each book’s “the story behind” page. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @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.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

Teaser Tuesday!

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Time for another Teaser Tuesday, the series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress. This week, a few paragraphs from the rural romance manuscript I’m currently working on, Admella Beach.

Teaser TuesdayThis is another related book to Rocking Horse Hill and features two of the characters from that story, Jasmine Thomas and Digby Wallace-Jones, as well as other much-enjoyed types like the inimitable Granny B.

Love hasn’t been easy for either Jas or Digby and it certainly isn’t without it’s dramas in this story, but there’s no fun in making things painless for people, is there? I have to admit that I’ve gone out of my way to torture poor Digby, but that should make his return to happiness all the more satisfying!

All going well, Admella Beach will release in 2016. If you’d like to be the first to know about upcoming releases, giveaway opportunities, have access to free short stories and more, please sign up to my newsletter.

Now enjoy a teensy taste from one of the early chapters.

 

Digby Wallace-Jones hunched his shoulders against the cold and continued to walk. It was all he seemed to do these days. Walk, drink too much. Not speak. Sometimes, when he looked to the south and saw the hated slopes of Rocking Horse Hill, tears would fall. For Felicity. For himself and the void she’d left.

He missed her like he would miss his heart if it was cut out. Without Felicity life was beatless, bloodless. Nothing flowed in his veins except anger and loss, and the pain of his leftover, never-to-be requited love. Even the nightmares, with their looming, hyper-magnified visions of her perfect face turned to his, gaze resigned yet somehow also thankful, were a kind of blessing. He could touch her in those dreams. Say things. Alter time. Save her.

But there would be no saving her. Right now he didn’t want to save himself either.

© Cathryn Hein

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Teaser Tuesday!

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It’s Teaser Tuesday time again, my new weekly series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress. This week: my latest rural romance, The Falls.

Teaser TuesdayWhile The Falls can be easily read on it’s own, the heroine is Teagan Bliss, Em’s best friend from my earlier novel, Rocking Horse Hill. In that story Teagan is let down badly by her family and flees to the NSW village of The Falls, and it’s the moment of her arrival there where the story of The Falls begins.

Although small in size, the village is big in heart and the perfect place for Teagan to come to terms with her new life. It also just so happens to be home to a very sexy farrier named Lucas Knight. Inspiration for his character involved much looking at pictures of Chris Hemsworth as Thor. It was a hardship, but I swear I did it for you, dear readers.

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

Please enjoy this little taster from The Falls.

Teagan and Lucas are having a conversation by Claudia the horse’s paddock…

 

‘Do you like cricket?’ Lucas asked suddenly.

‘It’s okay.’ Teagan paused and resumed her hunt for something sharp. ‘My brother, Owen, used to play when he lived at home. Club cricket, not grade. I used to watch him occasionally.’ Her hand closed around the handle of a bot knife, a special tool for Cover of The Falls by Cathryn Heinscraping bot fly eggs off a horse’s coat. She held it up and ran her thumb over the edge. Too pitted and worn. She tossed it back and regarded Lucas again. ‘I prefer football. Much better for a perve.’

‘Not impressed by the thunder of a fast bowler?’

‘Hard to beat a good full forward.’

He frowned and then understood. ‘AFL. I forgot you were from the south. It’s mostly rugby up here.’

‘I take it you’re a fast bowler, then.’

‘Medium pace. The team workhorse.’ He grinned in a way that seemed to ignite the afternoon, straight, pure and loaded with genuine good humour. A bloke who found the world a pretty damn happy place. ‘My job is to grind them down with boredom.’

‘I couldn’t imagine you being boring.’

‘I can be all sorts of things, if I try.’

©Cathryn Hein

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, my new weekly series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress. This week, some fun from from SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN.

Teaser TuesdayThis is a sweet rural romance set around Em’s and Josh’s wedding, the heroine and hero from Rocking Horse Hill, and features local farmer, big Harry Argyle, and beautician and new girl in town, Summer Taylor. It’s no spoiler to reveal that their romance does not get off to a good start!

I’ll be talking more about this book over coming months but if you want to be the first to know about its cover, blurb and release date, please sign up to my newsletter. Simply click on the Newsletter tab in the menu above or fill in the widget when it slides onto your screen. Once your subscription is confirmed you’ll also receive the link to a lovely short story to enjoy over a cuppa.

Now delight in a taste of SUMMER AND THE GROOMSMAN!

 

Harry proved such a long lump of a man that his legs extended well over the end of the table. His broad back and muscular shoulders nearly filled its width too. Summer had massaged a few sportsmen in her time but never one quite so . . . She wasn’t sure how to describe him. He wasn’t body-builder muscular, or like the super-fit who were so deficient in body fat, all she felt was bone, muscle and sinew. He was simply tall and, well, rather deliciously meaty.

He smelled nice too. Often the men who came in for treatments overdid it with the cologne or deodorant. Harry just smelled clean, with a hint of spice. Not that any of that had any bearing on the way Summer felt about him. Good-looking lump or not, he was still a thug.

But she’d been in this business one way or another since she’d left school and she knew how to maintain professional detachment. Except for the little hiccup when she’d first caught sight of him at reception, and again when she’d seen him standing bare-chested by the table, she’d been fine. He was the one naked, after all. And to her delight he’d been even more stupid with nerves than her. Stuttering and making a fool of himself. The schoolgirl in her had cheered, but as his little-boy-lost bumbling continued, the woman in her had begun to feel a tiny bit sorry for him.

Then he’d gone and ruined it by claiming he was sensitive. Yeah, sure he was. So sensitive he thought it perfectly acceptable to insult and swear at a woman half his size, then menace and threaten her like a mafia hit man. Worst of all, he’d called poor innocent Binky stupid.

If anyone was stupid it was Harry Argyle.

© Cathryn Hein 2015

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THIS WRITING LIFE: ARRC Part 2 – The Photos

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I’m sure you’ll see from these photos that everyone who attended the weekend’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra had an absolute ball.

Victoria Dahl during her keynote speechI think the highlight for me (other than catching up with old friends and meeting new) was Victoria Dahl’s speech on unsympathetic heroines. I’ve never read any of her books but was left so impressed that by the end of her talk I’d bought two of them. Gotta love technology.

The booksigning was, as it always is, loud and enormous fun. I’m very grateful to that most excellent of book sellers, Booktopia, who generously gave away multiple copies of Rocking Horse Hill over the course of the weekend. So many people came up to me to get them signed and have a chat. It really made my convention. There were plenty of delegates with The French Prize too, which they’d received in their welcome bags thanks to Harlequin Australia. All of us came away loaded with excellent reads. I’m looking forward to Yes, Chef by Lisa Joy (thanks to Penguin Australia), The Brewer’s Tale by Karen Brooks and Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair, who also won the ARR Award for Favourite New Romance Author (both titles from Harlequin).

Here are some of my favourite happy snaps from the weekend. There would have been more only it appears I have managed to kill yet another camera. Sigh. Oh well, at least this one was only a cheapie, unlike the last.

Hot Chocolate, the blow-up horse, being given the kiss of life by Cathryn Hein in the QT bar at ARRC 2015

Hot Chocolate being given the kiss of life by me in the QT bar (pic thanks to Amy Andrews)

I arrived in Canberra a day early and after a spot of shopping wandered off to check out the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. The exhibition was nearing its end and the shop had discounted all its stock. Naturally, with all that lovely horsey stuff on offer, I went on a bit of a spendy-fest and one of the items I came away with was an inflatable horse. I thought I might use him as a prop during the booksigning or simply as a fun toy for my office.

But as I passed the bar on the way back to my room, I found myself waylaid by Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter. I resisted their entreaties to join them hard. Really hard. These ladies are persuasive though, and it was with great reluctance *cough* that I settled down for a catch-up over a few drinks.

The crowd soon grew (must have been our magnetism) and somehow the blow-up horse was dragged out for a show-and-tell. After a bit of encouragement, I agreed to inflate him. What an effort! It was a close run thing but I eventually managed to get him blown up without passing out. He then needed to be christened, and while a few names were bandied about I believe it was Amy Andrews who came up with Hot Chocolate. And thus Hot Chocolate he became.

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

Anne Gracie with me, admiring Hot Chocolate the blow-up horse in the QT bar at ARRC 2015 (pic thanks to Amy Andrews)

I’m proud to say that Hot Chocolate even scored a mention in Helene Young’s wonderful opening keynote speech, and was much-admired by many over the weekend.

My shy roomie at ARRC 2015, Rachael Johns

Rach was feeling a bit camera shy…

My ARRC roomie was good buddy and rural romance star Rachael Johns. She took a bit of prodding to get up on Friday morning. Rach blames the 3 hour time difference from WA to the ACT but I don’t know…

As mentioned, Helene Young (whose novel Safe Harbour also won Australia’s Favourite Romantic Suspense award) gave a wonderful opening keynote speech, in which she talked about her reading and writing journey. Helene was followed by book launches for Rachael Johns (The Road to Hope) and Shannon Curtis (Tribal Law). All proceeds from Tribal Law’s sales go to ARRA so if you haven’t yet nabbed a copy, go get! You’ll find across all major ebook platforms, including amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords or your favourite retailer. Or order the paperback from Booktopia.

Dangerous Liaisons panel at ARRC 2015. L-R: Cathryn Hein, Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

L-R: (a grumpy-looking) me, Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry (thanks to DB Tait for the pic)

The rest of my morning was taken up by the Red Dust Heroes panel with Rachael Johns, Lisa Ireland, Alissa Callen and myself, and superbly moderated by Jeanie Misko, followed by the Dangerous Liaisons panel where I was joined by Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and moderator with the mostest, Amanda Knight.

Saturday night was awards night, and what fun was had! The theme was roaring 20s (or something like that!) so there were lots of flappers.

Rach and me getting ready for the ARR Awards dinner at ARRC

Me and Rachael Johns getting ready for the awards dinner. A couple of glammypuss flappers!

Me with Red Sand Sunrise author and all-round gorgeous person Fiona McArthur showing off our sexy flapper outfits

Me with Red Sand Sunrise author and all-round gorgeous person Fiona McArthur, showing off our matching sexy flapper outfits.

Some of the crowd at the awards dinner.

Great crowd at the awards dinner!

Fiona Lowe, Shona Husk, Delwyn Jenkins and Cheryl Adnams all dressed up for the ARRC 2015 dinner

L-R: Fiona Lowe, Shona Husk, Delwyn Jenkins and Cheryl Adnams.

Kylie Scott (deserving winner of Australia’s Favourite Romance Author and more) sponsored a photo booth at the dinner where a lot of fun was had. Here’s my collection.

Pictures from the ARRC dinner photobooth

Another highlight of ARRC was the booksigning. This is such a great event and very well attended.

The booksigning room

Alyssa Montgomery, me and Trish Morey

Alyssa Montgomery, me and Trish Morey

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

Me and Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse.

Sunday was another full-on but fun day. As mentioned, Victoria Dahl gave a great speech and there were plenty of fascinating panels to keep us perky after a big night.

Anna Campbell, Christina Brooke and me enjoying the romantic destinations panel

Anna Campbell, Christina Brooke and me enjoying the Romantic Destinations panel.

L-R: Kate Cuthbert (moderator), Margareta Osborn,  Cheryl Adnams, Barbara Hannay and Victoria Dahl.

L-R: Kate Cuthbert (moderator), Margareta Osborn, Cheryl Adnams, Barbara Hannay and Victoria Dahl on the Small Town Seduction panel.

Reader Jeanie Misko  enjoying the Changing Lanes panel at ARRC 2015, featuring Trish Morey and Fiona McArthur (plus Amy Andrews and Fiona Lowe out of shot).

Reader (and our fab Red Dust Heroes panel moderator) Jeanie Misko enjoying the Changing Lanes panel, with authors Trish Morey and Fiona McArthur in the background.

Overall, a wonderful time was had at ARRC 2015. Everyone left Canberra feeling fab except for poor Hot Chocolate, who was feeling very flat that it was all over.

Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse felt very flat that ARRC was over.

Never mind. We’ll resurrect him again in 2017!

If you’re after a romantic read that won’t let you down and would like a list of all the 2014 ARR Award winners, you’ll find them all on the ARRA blog.