Tag Archives: The French Prize by Cathryn Hein

Teaser Tuesday!

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 invite author buddies in to play.

This week I’m sharing paragraphs from one of my favourite books, The French Prize. This was my first romantic adventure and a book I had a ball writing. Some of you might be wondering when my next adventure will be out. I’m working on it I promise, but my rural romances have to take priority at the moment. We’ll get there though!

In the meantime, if you haven’t tasted the fun that is The French Prize, here’s a little sample from when the hero, sexy French army officer Raimund Blancard, offers the heroine Olivia Walker the opportunity to visit the Blancard family archives. But what will it cost her?

 

Another key was drawn from his pocket, this one made of shiny brass, its lustre betraying its importance. He paused, the key slotted but unturned in the lock.

Olivia held her breath and waited but Raimund made no move.

‘You are about to behold something that no one, bar a Blancard, has seen before.’ His espresso eyes held hers, intense and fathomless. Eyes that trapped, seduced, and yet revealed nothing in return but loyalty to an ancient family. ‘I need to know I can trust you, Olivia.’

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinShe swallowed, the fervency of his gaze filling her with awe, electrifying her, making her mind come alive with possibilities. Behind that door, if what he had told her was true, a treasure-trove of inestimable importance awaited. Records that stretched back to Guy of Narbonne, possibly further. A collection that would leave her head spinning, her heart soaring, and her fingers itching with the urge to touch, to feel history come alive beneath their tips.

And then the reality of his words hit home.

‘You’re joking, surely? You, the person who’s done nothing but lie to me from the very start, are asking me if I can be trusted?’ She rolled her eyes and shook her head in disbelief of his nerve. ‘Give me a break.’

The fervour in Raimund’s expression didn’t change. If anything, it intensified.

‘I’m serious, Olivia. My family has kept these records for over a thousand years. No one but a Blancard has been permitted access. You are the first. But you must promise to never reveal their whereabouts or even their existence. I must have your word.’

Olivia sobered. He was right. His decision to show her the archives must have been momentous. It did not deserve derision. But to never reveal their existence, to allow such a treasure to languish unexamined, unresearched, unknown to the world? That went against everything she stood for, everything she was, the principles she valued and defended.

‘Your word, Olivia.’

Her heartbeat became a dense pound. ‘I can’t.’

©Cathryn Hein

The French Prize is available in paperback and ebook from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite retailer. You’ll also find lots of photos and more information on the origins of The French Prize on its ‘The Story Behind’ page.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Time for another tantalising treat thanks to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from my novels, old, new and in progress.

Teaser TuesdayThis week, we sneak into adventure-land with The French Prize, my first romantic adventure and a book I had an absolute ball writing.

I’m enormous fan of the Indiana Jones and Mummy film franchises. And who could forget Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile! They seem to have everything that is fun: action, drama, puzzles, great landscapes, gorgeous heroes, feisty heroines and, of course, romance. So when I came across the story of Durendal, the ancient sword at the heart of The French Prize, I couldn’t help thinking what a great relic that would be to chase. Throw in a couple of charismatic protagonists, a murderous villain and Provence, and there’s a story aching to be written.

One of the things I really love about The French Prize – besides the setting and the clever heroine Olivia – is its broody, tortured hero Raimund. He’s so torn between duty and love! Watching him change from a man who believes he has no future beyond the army to one who imagines peace and happiness might be possible was sheer pleasure. And all thanks to Olivia. ‘Twas verra romantic, if I do say so myself.

The French Prize is available now in paperback and ebook from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite retailer. You’ll also find lots of photos and more information on the origins of The French Prize on its ‘The Story Behind’ page.

Now enjoy this sighworthy taste of Raimund…

 

Easing from her grip, Raimund’s hands slipped up her arms to cup her shoulders. His thumbs teased the hollows and curves of her collarbone in smooth circular strokes, then moved leisurely across her skin towards her neck, as though he wanted to savour every inch. His breath caressed her cheek and lips, a whispered reflection of his touch.

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinHis eyes dropped to her mouth, staring at it with a slight frown, as if it posed a problem he didn’t know how to solve.

Olivia held her breath, the anticipation exquisite, her desire igniting like fanned embers.

But to her utter frustration, he closed his eyes and shook his head in denial, his forehead rubbing against hers. There would be no kiss.

At least, not the sort she wanted.

With gentle, tender hands, he cupped her face, kissed her lingeringly on each cheek and then let her go.

‘It’s time for you to sleep.’

‘What about you?’

He held her hands to his mouth and kissed them, then laid them back on the sheet in her lap. ‘I must keep watch.’

‘But you’d like to stay, for a little while?’

His attention strayed to the window, as if somewhere out there, floating on the Mediterranean, lay a world only he understood.

‘What I would like and what I must do are incompatible,’ he said, turning sad eyes to her. ‘Some things are better left unstarted. They will only end in desolation.’

‘But it’s already started.’

‘Then for both our sakes, it must stop.’

But Olivia knew there wasn’t a hope in hell of that.

©Cathryn Hein

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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.

 

Australian Romance Reader Awards Finalist!

2014 ARRA finalist badgeWheeee! Yesterday the Australian Romance Reader Awards finalists were published and I was thrilled to bits to be included, especially with such amazing company.

ROCKING HORSE HILL is up for Favourite Contemporary Romance, THE FRENCH PRIZE is on the Favourite Romantic Suspense list and I’m super chuffed to be up for Favourite Australian Romance Author 2014.

Thanks so, so much to everyone who nominated me and my books. It’s a delight and an honour. You can find the full list of finalists on the ARRA blog.

Winners will be announced on March 7th in Canberra at the Australian Romance Readers Convention awards dinner. If you love romance novels and talking books and have yet to register for this event, please do! It’s a truly wonderful weekend. You’ll make lovely new friends, discover new authors, meet your favourites, have the chance to collect and win all sorts of goodies, and return home warm with laughter and great memories.

Find all the details at the ARRA website or click on the banner below. Hope to see you there!

ARRC2015+banner+KNs

 

Deal of the Day!

I’m suuuper excited! Today THE FRENCH PRIZE, my brand new romantic adventure, is the deal of the day on Amazon.com.au. Rah!

If you you’re in the mood for an adventuresome read, with danger, medieval legend, gorgeous Provencal countryside and a breathtaking romance, now’s your chance to claim one at a bargain price.

Simply click on the image below or visit THE FRENCH PRIZE page at Amazon.com.au. But hurry! Ends 11-59pm tonight, Thursday 16th October 2014.

The French Prize is Amazon Kindle's deal of the day

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, Feasters, and welcome to a fantastique Friday Feast. It’s my turn again this week because what better way to celebrate the release of  my romantic adventure The French Prize than with a delicious dose of French food? Champagne I suppose, but I’ve already done that!

Before we get down to foodie fun, let’s talk footy. After a very wobbly start to the year and a rather uninspired (and losing – argh!) performance in Saturday night, my darling Sydney Swans managed to finish the season as minor premiers. Brilliant! But now we need to take it all the way, which means much nail biting and fretting in the Hein house as finals play out.

If you’re wondering what happened to Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, remember the quote “Golf is a good walk spoiled” from Mark Twain? I’m seriously beginning to think it’s true. Yeah, things have been that bad. Stuffit.

Enough of that and on to Feasty business. The French Prize officially hit the shelves this week – rah!  – and I’m racing along writing the next romantic adventure and having a ball. These books are such FUN!

Take a look at The French Prize. I’m so excited and proud.

THE FRENCH PRIZE

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinAn ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Out now at your favourite book shop or chain store. Or you can buy from these excellent retailers: Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and JB Hi-Fi. For more stores, or to read an extract (or the entire first chapter), check out The French Prize page on my website.

And now for some French foody fun!

Favourites…

I couldn’t help it. I had to include food in The French Prize. The book is set in Provence where the produce, markets and cuisine are utterly divine. How could I possibly leave it out?

Plus I had the perfect character to indulge myself with in Christiane, the hero Raimund’s godmother. This is a lady who rules her kitchen ruthlessly and woe betide anyone who dares arrive late to dine and spoils one of her meals.

Here’s a snippet to explain…

‘Where’s Raimund?’ asked Olivia, sitting at the table and accepting a glass of wine from a still grinning Edouard.

The kitchen smelled delicious, filled with the distinctive aroma of tomato and basil. Olivia’s stomach let out a hearty grumble. Without asking, Edouard cut a slice of baguette and handed it to her.

‘He hasn’t returned,’ came the huffy retort from the stove.

‘He has special business today,’ said Edouard.

‘That boy always has special business. He should be here with his girlfriend. I made petit farci especially.’ Christiane smiled beatifically at Olivia, as though she’d spent the afternoon martyring herself for her godson. Given the smell of the kitchen, she probably had. ‘It’s his favourite.’

Olivia returned her smile and then focused on Edouard. ‘What special business?’

But Edouard simply puffed up his cheeks, blew air over his pouty bottom lip, and shrugged. The French equivalent of ‘who knows?’.

Although she hadn’t ventured outside that day, Olivia could feel the heat emanating from the terrace. Every now and then, the breeze would curl its way inside, swirling delicious aromas and adding to the overwhelming warmth. After the cool of the archives, the kitchen began to feel uncomfortably hot.

A dribble of sweat snaked down her back and Olivia became aware that, despite her heavy-duty deodorant, she might not smell as fresh as she would like. She cleared her throat, unsure if she should ask, but desperate for a shower and some clean clothes.

‘As Raimund is late, perhaps I have time for a shower?’ she asked gamely.

Christiane considered her request as though she was an haute cuisine chef and this a Michelin-starred restaurant. She gave her pot of tomato sauce a stir and taste, then opened her oven door and inspected the contents, her nose scrunching as she inhaled. A poke of the stuffed vegetables, some more contemplation and the decision was made.

‘Fifteen minutes.’

Olivia did it in ten.

One of the dishes Christiane makes for Raimund and Olivia is hachis parmentier. This is one of my favourite simple meals to have with a green salad or wilted spinach. It’s very much like cottage pie and another of those dishes where everyone has their own recipe. Some include tomato puree, some don’t. Traditional versions appear to have only onions in the mix and no other veg besides potato. A few have wine. Most use only stock.

Frankly, all I care is that it tastes good. And this, my own version, does (if I do say so myself)!

Hachis Parmentier

Hachis parmentier

2 tablespoons olive oil

100g finely chopped pancetta, speck or bacon

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 kg beef mince

1 tablespoon tomato paste

300ml dry red wine

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 litre beef stock

2 large thyme sprigs, leaves picked

3 bay leaves

1.25kg floury potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped

50g butter

Milk

Dried breadcrumbs

Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and fry for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden. Add onion, celery, and carrot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring, until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add mince and cook until lightly browned and all the mince is broken up. Add the tomato paste, wine, cloves, stock, thyme and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost evaporated but mixture is still nicely moist.

Simmering mince for hachis parmentierMeanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan of cold salted water over high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, cool slightly, then mash or pass through a ricer or mouli. Stir in butter and enough milk to create a nice creamy mash. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200C. Remove the bay leaves from the mince. Season to taste. Spoon mixture into a large baking dish. Spread potato over beef and run a fork over the top to give it a rough surface, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

This makes enough to feed 6 people easily with sides. If you don’t need that much the recipe halves well. It also freezes without problem. I make the full batch but cook it in two smaller trays, cool it in the fridge overnight, then slice it into individual portions. I wrap each portion in cling film, bag them up and freeze. Perfect for emergencies. A defrost and heat in the microwave, and dinner is done.

And now, because it’s release week and cause for celebration, let’s have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Would you like to win a signed copy of The French Prize? Here’s your chance. I’m looking for freezer meals. You know, those recipes that are perfect for making extra and freezing the rest. Hachis parmentier is one of mine, but I also make big batches of casseroles and soups, as well as pasta sauces. Oh, and moussaka. That works a treat.

What about you? What’s your freezer speciality? It can be sweet or savoury, I don’t mind. Reveal all and I’ll pop you into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 9th September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to read more about The French Prize or my rural romances, simply explore the website. There’s plenty to see. And while you’re there sign up to my newsletter. Subscribers get special things because they’re special people.

You can also follow me on Twitter via @CathrynHein, Facebook and Google Plus.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Nicole who has won a signed copy of The French Prize. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. A delight as always.

The French Prize Release Day!

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Yes, it’s here!

And I’m SO DAMN EXCITED. Like, run around the house doing a Kermit flail excited with added French champagne to make things even more fizzy and fun.

Have you seen The French Prize in the shops? Let me know if you have or, even better, take a happy snap and share it with me on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter via @CathrynHein so we can giggle over it together.

Speaking of giggles, to celebrate this most fantabulous of adventure romances hitting the shelves, I’ve compiled, just for you…

TEN SECRET THINGS ABOUT THE FRENCH PRIZE

1/. The original title of The French Prize was…

Shades of Grey text

I know, I know.

So after ‘that’ book’s release it earned itself the prefix The Unfortunately Titled which kept me in laughs while I went through the agonising process of trying to think up a new name. It was then called Legacy, and about thirty other things, until we settled on The French Prize.

2/. The ruined chateau, where Olivia discovers La Tasse du Chevalier Gris, was inspired by ones I visited around Provence during our time there, including those at Les Beaux and Vaison la Romaine. Olivia’s, though, is perched even higher and on a sheerer outcrop for added danger.

Les Beaux

Les Beaux

3/. Raimund was chosen as the hero’s name because it means protector. Very fitting on several levels, which you’ll understand when you read the book.

cover of Bruce Davidson, World Champion of Eventing by Sally O’Connor4/. The image in my mind of Olivia came from a photo I saw back in the 80s in a horse book called Bruce Davidson, World Champion of Eventing by Sally O’Connor. The photo was of his Olympic teammate Torrance Fleischmann in profile, staring coolly into the distance. For some reason the image stuck with me through the years until she gained life in Olivia.

Weird, but true.

5/. The opening five pages of The French Prize (then called Shades of Grey), won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Meet the Editor competition back in 2008. Which was wonderful. Except that the judging editor wanted to see the full manuscript and all I had was five pages!

I still have the winning rosette in my collection.

First prize meet the editor rosette

6/. Christiane and Edouard Rosec, who are Raimund’s godparents in The French Prize, share the first names of my neighbours when we lived in France. Gorgeous people too.

7/. Raimund’s (rather sexy) looks were inspired by French actor Grégory Fitoussi. I was watching the first series of the French television show Spiral (Engrenages) at the time of writing and had a bit of a crush on him, as you do.

FitoussiFitoussi also played the C130 pilot that carted Brad Pitt around in World War Z.

8/. The Rosec’s house at Rognes is based on a friend’s who lived in the village. The cellars were amazing, although not quite as amazing as those in The French Prize.

9/. I listened a lot to the Scissor Sisters’ song Return To Oz while writing. I have no idea why… It’s hardly French!

But I ADORE the Scissor Sisters and own every album. They’re great fun.

10/. The French Prize was initially going to be a Harlequin romance for their Intrigue line. But deep down I knew that was never going to work (writing Harlequin/Mills & Boon category romances is BLOODY HARD, and don’t let anyone ever tell you any different). I gave up on the idea at the end of the first chapter.

What makes me smile about this now is that The French Prize turned out to be published by Harlequin anyway, but through MIRA, their mainstream women’s fiction imprint.

And here’s a bonus number eleven because I can’t help but talk about food.

11/. All the meals that Christiane cooks for Raimund are some of my French favourites, from salade de chevre chaud to petit farcis, moules and hachis parmentier.

Read ‘em and drool!

I hope you had fun with my eleven secret things. And I hope you have even more fun with The French Prize.

Itching to buy it now? Then get clicking! I will love you forever…

Booktopia

Bookworld

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

JB Hi-Fi

Angus & Robertson

QBD the Bookshop

Collins Booksellers

Fishpond

Abbey’s Bookshop

Wishing you an adventurous time!

Cathryn

 

A Taste of The French Prize

Only one week until The French Prize officially hits the shops and I’m suuuuper excited. I adore this story and can’t wait for people to start reading it.

My author copies arrived last week and I’ve spent a rather silly amount of time caressing the cover. The text embossing is beautiful, like glossy white enamel, and I so adore the image of the woman walking through an ancient stone arch.

The publishers, Harlequin, have made the full first chapter available for you to read and enjoy. So if you’d like to taste The French Prize, simply click on the image below and you’ll be whisked away to Olivia’s and Raimund’s world of drama, secrets, danger and legend.

The French Prize chapter sampler

The French Prize is ready for pre-order now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon, Google Play, iBooks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop and Fishpond.

If you’d like to learn how I came to write The French Prize then check out The Story Behind page on my website.

And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter while you’re nosing around to receive notice of all my releases as well as exclusive treats and giveaways.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Video stardom

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Well, not quite. But I’ve just uploaded my first, rather silly video to YouTube.

Enjoy… or not.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein

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Hello, my lovelies, and welcome to this Romance Writers of Australia annual conference edition of Friday Feast. Yes, I’m at Romance Rocks which is indeed totally rockin’. Hope to have lots of photos and fun news to share about it over the next few weeks, once I’ve recovered. RWA conferences are brilliant but exhausting.

Cathryn Hein in front of a statue of King Rene in Aix-en-Provence

Me in front of a statue of King Rene in Aix-en-Provence

In footy news, my darling Sydney Swans had another win last Friday night. It wasn’t the prettiest but a win is a win, and we’re streaking gallantly toward the end of the season and finals. Gallant streaking is not something that’s happening in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, however. It was ugly last week, very ugly. Balls in the water. Balls out of bounds. Every ball seemed to have a death wish, which is nearly the way I felt by the end of my round. But with this week dedicated to all things romance writing, maybe the time off will do me good. I can only hope…

And now to this week’s guest: Me!

With so many of our talented authors busy at the conference, I’m taking over the Feast. Which means I get to talk about my upcoming release, The French Prize, because I’m REALLY SUPER-DUPER EXCITED ABOUT IT! And all the pre-order links are now live, which means you can book your copy now. Wheeee!

Take a looksie. It’s faaaaaaabulous!

THE FRENCH PRIZE

The French Prize by Cathryn HeinAn ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Doesn’t that sound rollicking? Rollicking AND romantic and you can pre-order the print version right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Roberston, QBD The Bookshop, Abbey’s Bookshop, Fishpond.com.au, or the ebook from AmazonGoogle Play and iBooks.

Right, now you’re all sorted, let have a scrumpy French recipe.

Tarting About

Besides our sexy, stoic hero Raimund and gutsy heroine Olivia, there are some fun secondary characters in The French Prize. Christiane and Edouard, Raimund’s godparents were a hoot to write.

Edouard adores a drink, and is always thrusting a glass of something alcoholic at Olivia. His wife, Christiane, rules her kitchen like a haughty queen, and god help you if you’re late for a meal. She’s a wonderful cook and takes great joy in making Raimund’s favourite meals for him. There’s hachis parmentier, salade de chevre chaud, petit farcis, moules, and tarte de chevre –  all classic French dishes.

Petit farcisWhen we lived in Provence, I was lucky enough to attend a cooking school at a local lady’s house south of Aix-en-Provence. For two days, myself and two friends were picked up from Aix and carted off to the markets. Laden with beautiful produce and wine, we’d then head to her kitchen to cook ourselves silly before sitting out in the sunshine to savour our lunch and drinks. I enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten during this time, a dish called petit farcis – stuffed Provencal vegetables – served with a fresh tomato sauce.

It’s weird, but as much as I loved that meal I haven’t made it again, although I’ve thought about doing so many times. I think I’m too scared it won’t taste the same. That it will taint that special memory. Every time I think of those two days I’m struck by how amazing they were. How bright the sun, how lovely the company, how incredible the food and wine tasted.

One French dish I have made many times since our return home is this onion tart. I first tried this in Strasbourg and fell completely in love with the creamy filling and flavours of caramelised onion and lardons. It’s really rich and bad for you but phht. So what? It’s not like you’re going to be eating it on a daily basis, is it?

Alsatian Onion Tart

A slice of onion tart served with saladPâte brisée or shortcrust pastry – bought or your favourite recipe – rolled to fit a 27cm tart tin with removable base

25g butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

700g brown onions, peeled

200g good quality, thick smoked bacon (rind removed), flat pancetta or speck, chopped into 5mm x 2cm long pieces (or thereabouts – don’t get too fussy, it’s a simple dish)

Salt, pepper, nutmeg

6 egg yolks

300ml cream

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Line the tart tin with pastry. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and fill with beans, rice, or ceramic baking weights and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove rice/beans and bake another 5 minutes. The pastry should be lightly golden.

onion tart straight from the ovenMeanwhile, halve the onions and then slice very finely into half moons. In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil over low heat and add onions. Cook, stirring regularly, with lid on for an hour or more, or until the onions are very soft and only slightly golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Heat a small pan over medium heat and lightly fry the bacon. Add to onions.

Season onions and bacon with salt and pepper and a few scrapes of freshly grated nutmeg.

Whisk the egg yolks with the cream and then mix in the onions and bacon. Pour into the baked pastry case and pop into the oven for half an hour, or until set.

Serve warm with salad and a nice glass of white wine.

Now, because I’m feeling all nostalgic and convivial, I think we should have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Who would like to score a signed copy of The French Prize? Well, here’s your chance to snag one. And it’s an easy giveaway too. All you have to do is share the best dish or meal you’ve eaten while on holidays.

Maybe it’s… fish and chips with a special someone on the beach, or that unreal curry you sampled on your last trip to Thailand. Perhaps the meal you ate at a famous restaurant or the barbecue you had in a mate’s backyard. Simple or flash, it doesn’t matter as long as you share you’ll be in the random draw!

And because I’ll be away all weekend and too knackered when I return home to promote it widely, I’ll leave this one open a little longer. So…

Giveaway closes midnight THURSDAY 14th August 2014, AEST. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, just keep tooling around the website. There’s funstuff like The Story Behind, where I reveal the inspiration behind my books, and plenty to explore on the blog and elsewhere. Why not sign up to my newsletter while you’re here?  (Scroll down to the bottom of the Home page) Subscribers get all the news plus exclusive giveaways and my undying affection.

You can also connect with me via Facebook, Google + and Twitter using @CathrynHein.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Astrid, who has won herself a copy of The French Prize. A big warm thank you to everyone who joined in the Feasty fun and shared their best holiday meals. You all made me jealous!