Posts tagged with: Australian Authors

Kandy Shepherd’s Unforgettable Summer

Kandy 4I’m so delighted today to bring to the lair my good friend, the lovely Kandy Shepherd.

Kandy and I have shared a long writing journey together. When I plucked up the courage to join my very first writing group, Kandy was a member. I was immediately impressed both with the wonderful stories she wrote and also with her great work ethic. I still am!

Way back in the late 1990s when we met (yes, we ARE going back that far), Kandy was targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon as her preferred publishers. Many years and much writing success later, she’s now released her very first Harlequin Romance THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT.

THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is gaining some wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Shepherd’s love story is heartfelt and has the potential to reach the hearts of lovers across the globe. The main characters are perfect as a pair and the setting of New South Wales is described so beautifully, readers will almost feel the sand between their toes.”

 Here’s the blurb:

It started with a summer kiss… 

Kandy 3Sandy Adams is on her way to an interview, but when she sees a signpost for Dolphin Bay she decides to take a detour down memory lane…. 

Ben Morgan has had his share of heartache. But when a ghost from his youth catches his eye memories of their last summer together come flooding back. 

Everything has changed in the past twelve years, and still they’re right back where they started, facing a second chance they deserve…together.

You can find out more about Kandy and her books on her website:

Kandy, welcome to the Bandita lair! Congratulations on the release of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT, your first romance with Harlequin. I’m so excited about this book. Can you tell us about this story?

Thank you, Anna, it’s wonderful to be back in the lair with the wonderful Banditas! I’m particularly excited to be talking about this story with you because you were there (when we both lived in the same city!) when I first thought of the story and wrote the initial chapters. It got put aside while I worked on other books but the characters of Sandy Adam and Ben Morgan in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT never let go and I always wanted to finish their story.

Kandy 1THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is a very emotional, deeply romantic story of rekindled love between Sandy and Ben who first fell in love as teenagers. Twelve years go by between their first youthful kiss and the first time they kiss when they meet again. A lot has happened in the interim and Ben, in particular, is scarred—both physically and emotionally. Old hurts, betrayals, misunderstandings and deeply-entrenched barriers guarding their hearts mean these two really have to work for their happy-ever-after ending! I thoroughly enjoyed getting them there. In Romance shorthand, I call it my Beauty and the Beast Reunion Story!

Lovely! I always wanted to see how that story panned out. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Have you ever found yourself wondering about your first love—your lost love—maybe from many years ago? What would it be like to meet him or her again? Would you do things differently if you got a second chance? Would the old spark still be there?

I give Sandy and Ben just that opportunity when they meet up again in the coastal town of Dolphin Bay—the place where they first fell in love on summer vacation. Dolphin Bay is a fictional town but it is inspired by one of my favourite parts of Australia, the south coast of New South Wales about four hours drive from Sydney. There you’ll find quaint towns, beautiful pristine beaches and unspoiled bushland. I have spent many idyllic holidays there and hope to spend more in the future. Sun, surf, white sand, blue skies, freedom—it’s the perfect setting for both Sandy and Ben’s fleeting, youthful romance—and perhaps a more mature love that can last a lifetime.

Kandy 2(Little did I know as I was writing the setting I loved that it fell into the new genre of “coastal romance”!)

What is coming up for Kandy Shepherd?

I’m delighted there will be a return to Dolphin Bay in July 2014 with the release of my second book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, THE TYCOON AND THE WEDDING PLANNER. We meet Kate Parker as a secondary character in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT and the second book is her story of finding love when she least expects it. It’s another emotional, romantic story that I really loved writing.

You’ve had such an interesting writing career. I’d love you to share your writing journey with us.

Like you, Anna, I always wanted to be a writer—and I was always attracted to romance. I had my first short stories published in women’s magazines when I was age twenty-one. Then I got distracted by a wonderful career in magazines, in both Australia and the UK. But the dream to write fiction never went away and I kept on writing in the time I could squeeze in between work and family commitments. Eventually I was published by Berkley Sensation with my two award-winning romantic comedies LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. Then I got intrigued by the brave new world of self-publishing and, to my surprise and delight, my sensual romance THE CASTAWAY BRIDE became an Amazon best seller.

kandy 5Way back when I was very first trying to get published, I targeted Harlequin Mills & Boon in London—as many aspiring Australian romance writers did. That dream never went away and I was thrilled when THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT was accepted for the Harlequin Romance line.

Right now I’m concentrating on writing for Harlequin, which I am really enjoying. But I see myself as a “hybrid” writer balancing a career with traditionally published stories and self-published ones.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Persevere, persevere, persevere! Writing with the aim of publication isn’t for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. Find critique partners you respect and trust—that has been very important for me. That said, you also need to have faith in your own voice and unique ideas. Keep alive the joy of writing—we write because we love it and should never lose sight of that!

Feel-good contemporary romance is definitely the soupe du jour with readers. Have you any thoughts on the rise and rise of this particular element of the romance genre?

I think readers being able to easily recognise and identify with characters, situations and settings has a lot to do with the appeal of contemporary romance. The people seem real, are relevant to everyday life and the settings are familiar.

BanditBootyKandy, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

I love reunion romances and the idea of second chance at love. I also enjoy books set near the water, there’s something so appealing about a coastal or harbor setting. What about you—do you enjoy reunion romance? Do you ever wonder what would happen if you met up with someone from your past? Do you enjoy coastal settings? I have three signed copies of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT (international) to give away to people leaving a comment.

Wow, that’s very generous, Kandy. Thank you. Get commenting, people!


Annie West’s Winners!

BanditBootyThanks to everyone who swung by to give Annie West such a great welcome yesterday. I’m delighted now to announce the winners of the signed copies of AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. Congratulations to:



You’ll love this story. Can you please send your snail mail details to Annie at annie @ (no spaces) and she’ll get your book off to you pronto. Happy reading!

And thanks to Annie for her generosity!


Annie West Entices Us to Romance!

AnnWhat fun it always is to host USA Today bestselling author Annie West in the lair.

She’s had a busy year! Today, she’s here to talk about her latest release, AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. This is her third new book in 2013, following the sublime IMPRISONED BY A VOW and the dramatic and passionate CAPTIVE IN THE SPOTLIGHT.

Whew! I get tired even thinking about writing that many new books!

AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY is already creating a very nice buzz. RT Book Reviews said, “This is a terrific hate-into-love story, set in a dilapidated old manor that’s a character itself.”

You can find out more about Annie West and her marvelous books on her website:

Annie, huge congratulations on your new release from Harlequin, AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY. Can you tell us about your story?

Hi, Anna, and a huge wave to all the Banditas and hangers on! I feel I’m sneaking in under the radar to visit again so soon and am so chuffed to be here.

AnnENTICING is an emotionally intense revenge and redemption story that also uses the housekeeper/boss theme.

Ravenna grew up as the daughter of a professional housekeeper and vowed never to follow in her mother’s footsteps for all sorts of deeply emotional reasons. Jonas is determined to put Ravenna in her place, partly because he believes she stole from him, but deep down because he feels let down by the woman he believes she’s become.

The power struggle in this one really is pivotal, though of course, as with any of my books, there’s a whole lot more to it.

Here’s the back cover copy:

Dial R for Revenge…

Forgiveness is a foreign concept to wealthy investment trader Jonas Deveson. Someone has been stealing from him. He’s got a good idea who it is and she’s going to pay….

Seeing the harsh lines that bitterness has carved into Jonas’s handsome features, Ravenna Ruggiero knows he’ll never see the shades of gray in her actions.

AW 4Jonas blackmails Ravenna into working as his housekeeper to pay off her debt, but living under the same roof leads to unexpected yet forbidden temptation, and Jonas is no longer sure who is being punished!

Sounds delicious. I do love an enemies into lovers story. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Ooh, I had such fun with this one and there were so many things that inspired it: those gothic romances I read in my teens featuring a dark, brooding boss in a rambling old mansion, renovations (I’ve been watching lots of home renovation TV shows!), ‘Country House Rescue’ – another TV program about saving stately British homes, Paris (in particular a wonderful day visiting the gorgeous Place des Vosges and surrounds inspired the opening setting) and food (Ravenna is a pastry chef by profession and that provided a lot of inspiration and excuses for hands on research). Sigh: food, old houses, someone else working hard to renovate as well as brooding, charismatic heroes – I had a ball!

AW 2What’s coming up next for Annie West?

I’m just wrapping up a story and crossing fingers my editor enjoys it as much as I do. My working title is “His Reckless Princess” (which will undoubtedly change). It’s about a high-profile royal with a party-girl reputation who isn’t all she seems and a self-made man who’s dragged himself up from the gutter and refuses to look back. He believes he has no interest in emotion, sentiment or family, until he discovers he’s going to be a father and has to conquer all sorts of demons to win the woman he’s fallen in love with. I think it will be out in July.

Later next year comes “Rebel’s Bargain”, a book I’ve already finished, which will be released as part of a continuity. It’s my first reunion story and it was such a treat to write!

AW 1Wow, you’ve been busy! Readers love housekeeper/governess/nanny stories, reaching right back to PAMELA and JANE EYRE, and probably to when Mrs. Shakespeare was a pup. What do you think is the perennial appeal of this theme in romance novels?

Hm, Anna, they’ve got so much going for them. First there’s proximity. I love romances where hero and heroine are under the same roof. So many reasons for their paths to cross at all times of the day or night!

Plus I’m sure a big part of it is the unequal power and status between them. The heroine is always (in my experience) the underdog, up against someone who has power and usually wealth on their side. I think that feeds into our desire to barrack for the underdog and, in romance, to see the heroine who’s initially vulnerable and possibly downtrodden, fight back and gain equality and power. So satisfying!

Haddon 2Quite a few of these stories have a touch of mystery thrown in, a hint that not everything is as it seems and that’s a delicious aspect I thoroughly enjoy. Finally, there’s a good dollop of the Cinderella in this sort of story. She might start out in rags sweeping up the cinders but Prince Charming sees her true worth despite her circumstances and gives her a lovely happy ending, and one where she’s no longer a domestic drudge. That fantasy works for me, every time.

You’re recently back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Perth. Sadly, this year, I couldn’t make it. I’m sure our Banditas and Bandita Buddies would love to hear your impressions of the conference. I know I would!

AW 3Anna, it’s such a shame you couldn’t attend this year. It has to have been one of the friendliest, most relaxed conferences I’ve been to. A really great vibe, lots of new members who were just soaking everything up and smiling a lot, old friends to catch up with and some great workshops and stimulating panel discussions. I ran a workshop myself for beginners on how to edit your first chapter. I have to say the participants took to the task of editing my work for me with vigor! It’s always so much easier than improving your own words, isn’t it?

This was our first RWAustralia Conference in Western Australia and we had a range of US and UK authors attending as well as editors from the US and Australia. I’ve included a photo of gorgeous Hamelin Bay, further down the coast from Fremantle. One of the joys of travelling across the country for the conference was the chance to see some of the countryside before and after. It’s a gorgeous part of the world.

IMG_0014I know, like most writers, that you’re a voracious reader. I wonder if you could share some of your recent reads with us. We all like to extend our TBR piles, even if they’re as high as the Empire State Building.

I’ve just begun the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and am reading with a grin on my face. Another recent discovery is the wonderful mystery series by Julia Spencer Fleming featuring the inimitable priest Clare Fergusson and long suffering (in such an appealing way) local sheriff, Russ Van Alstyne. I can’t wait for the next one to be released. On the romance front in the last few weeks I’ve read some brilliant Harlequin romances by Sarah Morgan, Michelle Douglas and Trish Morey in particular. Christina Brooke’s latest left me hanging out for more and I coincidentally (batting lashes at you, Anna) just read Anna Campbell’s latest foray into short romance. My TBR pile is definitely in danger of toppling.

AW 5Oh, what excellent taste you have (bats eyelashes back!). Annie, do you have a question for the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling along?

Since Deveson Hall in this book is undergoing renovations, maybe you could share a renovation experience of your own.

What’s the biggest/best/worst/most memorable makeover you’ve ever attempted? Maybe it was a room in a house, or a garden, a personal makeover or for a friend. If you haven’t tried one yet, what sort of makeover would you love to try (especially if you could snap your fingers and have it all magically done!)?

BanditBootyGet commenting, people! Annie has very generously offered two people who leave comments today a signed copy of her latest AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY! Good luck!

Dakota Harrison’s Winners!

BanditBootyWow, wasn’t it fun to have debut Aussie author Dakota Harrison in the lair? Thanks to everyone who swung by to make Dakota feel welcome.

She felt SOOOOO welcome in fact, she threw in another copy of her book as a prize so I have two winners to announce today! So the winners of the download of EXHALE are:



Congratulations, Pat and Jodi. Could you please contact Dakota on elven_scribbles @ (no spaces) and let her know what email address you’d like your books sent to and what e-reader platform you’d like her to use for your prize. Happy reading!


Dakota Harrison Makes Us Breathless!

Michelle 2It’s always exciting for me to host a friend in the lair. Doubly exciting when it’s an Aussie friend. And triply exciting when that Aussie friend is launching their debut romance.

Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Dakota Harrison who lives in the beautiful Granite Belt region in Queensland. Beautiful and cold – it’s renowned as the coldest place in our subtropical state and they even get snow! Wow!

Dakota is here to tell us about her debut romance for Samhain, EXHALE. Here’s the blurb:

Takeshi is finishing up a brutal double shift in the ER when a familiar—and bloody—face erases all thought of heading home. The broken body of the woman fighting for her life belongs to Gabby, his best friend’s mother. A woman he’s loved since he turned nineteen, when he foolishly declared his love for her.

 She’s not dying today. Not on his watch. And not with a promise left unfulfilled.

Gabby has never forgotten the taste of the kiss Taka gave her under the mistletoe all those years ago. Or the silly promise that surely by now he’s forgotten. She’s wrong. Taka remembers. And she melts as he uses every trick in his highly trained surgeon’s hands to heal her—and rekindle the heat between them.

Michelle 1But there’s a secret lurking in Gabby’s past. And when it follows her all the way to Seattle, it threatens to drag the one man she loves into the nightmare she thought she’d left behind.

You can find out more about Dakota and her books on her website:

Welcome to the lair, Dakota!

Hi Anna! Thank you so much for inviting me into the lair! It’s a real thrill.

Dakota, huge congratulations on the release of your debut from Samhain. Can you tell us about EXHALE?

EXHALE is about one woman’s wish for happiness after enduring a life marred by terrible grief and loss. Gabby longs for safety and steadfast love, but she’s almost too afraid to want it. Where her heart lies is with a man who she believes she has no right to. No right to want him, no right to now ask for what he would have freely given her, many years before. And now he’s taken.

Taka’s achieved most of what he set out to do by the time he hits thirty years old. Career-wise, he’s on the fast-track to becoming one of the best surgeons in his field, but he can’t let go of the thought of Gabby. Her love. Her promise to him years earlier. The thought that maybe if he laid his heart on the line and asked one more time…

Michelle 6Wow, sounds intense and sexy and really emotional. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Well, I could say it came out of nowhere, but to be honest, we had my adult nephew living with us for a couple of years when we first moved into our new house. He was twenty, and he had a couple of good friends who used to visit. One in particular was quite flirty, even though we both knew he was just playing. That got the ‘what if’ bug flying around my head – what if the nephew wasn’t her nephew? What if he was her son? Why would she have a son so old and her so young? What if the friend wasn’t playing around? What if it was real?

So it led from there. He’s actually quite impressed he inspired me to write a book!

I bet he is! What’s coming up next for Dakota Harrison?

I have a second release coming out in October, BREATHLESS, a story of a woman who makes some bad decisions which lead to the destruction of her entire life. To get away from the all-encompassing guilt and pain, she flees to a tiny town in the U,S. to start a new life where no one knows her, or what she’s done. Plus, I’m almost finished the sequel to EXHALE, which stars Taka’s yakuza cousin, Shin, who we meet in the final chapter of the book. It’s set in the glittering city of Tokyo.

michelleThey sound great. We love call stories in the lair. Can you give us yours?

Of course! It’s a funny one, actually. In January and February last year I sent of a *heap* of submissions for my fantasy romance manuscript. Some were requested, some slush. It had won and placed in many contests, so I was confident it might find a home – somewhere. Well, roll on four months later, and I kept getting “We love it, love your writing, but I/marketing don’t know where to place it. I’m going to have to pass.” This happened so many times I could almost print a novel with the rejections. I’d sent it to so many different places, I’d actually lost track of where I’d sent it (this particular character trait is something that drives my best friend, Kylie Griffin, nuts! She’s always trying to get me to make a spreadsheet. I’m like, a spread-what?!?).

Anyway, late one Sunday evening in May, I received a particularly wonderful email from an editor at Samhain, stating how very much she loved the story, etc, but unfortunately fantasy wasn’t what they were after at present – but – did I have anything else I could send her? In particular, contemporary romance? She’d noticed in my cover note that I’d recently won a contest with one – the RWA Valerie Parv Award. I wrote back and said, “Yes, of course, I’d love you to have a look at it, and also, would you like to see the one that just finaled in the RWA Emerald, too?” So, off I sent both of them once she’d asked, and promptly relegated the excitement to the back of my mind. I thought, “This will take months, like the first submission.”

Michelle 3I was up early the next morning, for a change, when I received her email. She loved it. She wanted it. Can she please buy it! She’d skimmed the first few pages to gauge if it was up her alley, then loved it so much she sat down to read the whole thing in five hours! I was in shock. I thought I was reading the email wrong. I sent it to someone, just to make sure it said what I thought it said! Then I rang my husband and squeed! Then I felt sick. This made it real. That elusive contract offer was right there. And for a genre I wrote for pleasure for myself, not for publication. My contemporary stories were always that – written because I loved the characters who popped into my head. I’d always thought my fantasy and scifi would be the ones that would sell.

Michelle 4That’s a great story. And congratulations again. You were a contest queen here in Australia. I remember seeing your name over and over in Romance Writers of Australia finals listings. How do you think contests benefited your career and writing?

Anna, the contests were pure gold. My very first one, I came second last. The judge was so kind, told me all the things I was doing wrong that newbies seem to do (and was I green!), and gently explained how to fix it. So I did. I took the feedback and sifted through it, and most of it was 100% right, then I applied it and read up on why the suggestions were made, trying to understand where/why I’d made those mistakes. I re-entered the rewritten partial into a RWNZ contest – and came second. From there I wrote and wrote and entered everything I could that offered feedback. Some judges in one or two contests were so acidic that the judging sheet almost shriveled in front of my eyes on the screen; then I’d get the two other judges in the same contest who loved it and scored me the highest mark there. I seem to split them fair down the middle. It was good practice getting such varied feedback, as not everyone will like what you’ve written, and some will hate it. It helped toughen me up.

Michelle 7Contests are invaluable if you use them as a tool to strengthen and improve your writing. If you’re looking for ego-stroking, you won’t get it there, you have to be prepared to take the hard comments with the good. But I believe those four years in national and international contests have helped me tighten my work to a standard that may have taken me many years to accomplish on my own. And it helped lead me to the very best friends I have ever met. I can’t recommend contests enough, although they did keep me poor! I never only entered one manuscript. If there was a limit, I’d enter to the limit. If there was no limit, I’d enter everything I had!

Michelle 5That’s so true about contests toughening you up! It’s a great lesson. I know you live in one of the prettiest spots in my home state Queensland. Can you tell us about your corner of the world?

Yes! We have what they call ‘Brass Monkey Season’, it’s our tourism slogan – where it gets so cold it could freeze the balls of a brass monkey! The council even had a statue made. The term’s origin is a little hazy; some say it came from a war name for the structure they sat cannon balls on, which was made of brass and called a ‘monkey’ (which is where many locals believe the term came from); others state it’s from during the 19th and 20th centuries, when small monkeys cast from the alloy brass were common tourist souvenirs from Asia. The Three Wise Monkeys. These monkeys were often cast with all three in a single piece of brass. In other sets they were made singly. Although three was the usual number, some sets of monkeys added a fourth, with its hand covering its genitals. Old brass monkeys of this type are collectors’ items.

I prefer to believe the former option – it’s a little more colorful!

In summer we have lovely mid 20s to mid 30s temperatures, and autumn is glorious with all the fruit and ornamental trees turning to fabulous colors. And no humidity! That’s the best part ;)

BanditBootyWhat about you? What’s your favorite season, and where? It can be anywhere in the world! Even somewhere you haven’t been yet, but desperately wish to go. What makes a particular area special for you?

 Get commenting, people! Dakota has very kindly offered up a download of EXHALE (international) for one of our visitors today. Good luck!

Annie West’s Winners!

BanditBootyThanks to Annie West and all our visitors yesterday. Wasn’t it a fun day in the lair talking about the books that got us started as romance fans? Julie Garwood, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Barbara Cartland clearly have a lot to answer for!

Annie’s picked her winners and they are:


MAUREEN (your choice of any book from Annie’s backlist apart from IBAV)

Congratulations, girls. Please email Annie on Annie @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and she’ll get your books off you. Happy reading!




Annie West Vows to Entertain!

Annie Jonah'sIt’s always fun to have the wonderful Annie West in the lair. Today, Annie’s visiting us to talk about her great new release IMPRISONED BY A VOW (check out those covers! Aren’t they gorgeous?).

This book is already garnering rave reviews. RT Book Reviews called it “an emotionally charged drama.” This one really tugs at the heartstrings and you’ll be cheering for Joss and Leila’s happy ending!

Here’s the blurb:

Signed, Sealed…Forever!
Annie 2Being sold into marriage by her stepfather is Leila’s one chance to escape. But instead of freedom, Leila finds herself bound by deep passions ignited by her inscrutable new husband.
Australian billionaire Joss Carmody knows the rules of this game-he’ll shower his new wife with diamonds and in return he’ll use her land to expand his business. That’s all he ever wanted from this exchange, but he hadn’t banked on the attraction Leila awakens.
Then the one night that was supposed to slake their desire binds them beyond the signatures on their marriage contract.…
You can find out more about Annie’s books and read an excerpt of IMPRISONED BY A VOW on her website:
Annie, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for Harlequin Presents, IMPRISONED BY A VOW. Can you tell us about this book?

Annie 1Anna, thank you for inviting me over. The lair feels like a second home and I’m so glad you’re all still willing to have me visit! I’m waving hi and looking out for a celebratory glass of something.

I’ll let you in on a secret. IMPRISONED is a book I thought I wouldn’t get to write. I imagined this story a couple of years ago and started writing in a rush of enthusiasm that had me well through the manuscript before my then editor told me she had problems with it. Eventually I set the book aside (how painful that was) and wrote something else instead. But Leila’s story kept niggling at me and I had to write it. I revisited the story, decided Leila needed a different hero (the original one, too good to be ignored, is currently getting his own story) and went from there. Once I started again I couldn’t stop.

IMPRISONED is a marriage of convenience story. Marriage will get both Joss and Leila what they want – which definitely doesn’t include any emotional entanglement with their spouse. Joss wants the land Leila will inherit so he can exploit its riches. Leila wants marriage to escape the domineering control of her extremely unpleasant guardian. Previous escape attempts have resulted in her living under a form of house arrest for years.

The catch comes after the wedding and they discover life as married strangers isn’t so easy. For a start there is the sizzle of attraction that bubbles up despite their best intentions. Worse, Leila discovers that after so long locked away, just stepping out the door of her new home is a challenge she can barely face. Joss is intrigued by his new wife who hides her problems behind a haughty façade. When he inadvertently discovers the truth he finds that, despite his determination not to get involved, he can’t walk away. In the process of helping Leila, he finds his own salvation.

If that sounds too heavy, I’ll just add that the story is very intense, sexy and glamorous!

 It sure is! Tssssss! What were the inspirations behind this book?

Inspiration came from Leila, one of the most feisty, determined yet vulnerable heroines I’ve ever written. This is a story about strength that doesn’t shout itself from the rooftops but is the sort of strength so many people (especially women) exhibit daily, just by getting on with their lives in difficult circumstances. I think it was inspired by stories I’ve heard over the years of people who’ve endured and triumphed in their own quiet way. I loved the chance to give Leila her own happy ending.

Other inspirations include the down to earth men for all seasons we Aussie women seem to appreciate so much – you know the ones who can tackle the outback but still brush up well in company? That’s Joss – Capable with a capital C.

Annie 3There’s the touch of Beauty and the Beast in there too, for though Joss is gorgeous to look at, he’s rather like a wounded beast who wants to stay undisturbed in his lair, cut off from everyone else. Leila unwittingly, and unwillingly, wakes him…

What’s coming up next for you?

Squee! I’ve got another book coming out in October. So soon! AN ENTICING DEBT TO PAY is a real change of pace. Well, it’s sexy and intense, but the characters and story are very different. It’s about revenge but it’s a boss/housekeeper story too.

Jonas hates the woman who seduced his father. When his father dies and he discovers she’s stolen a huge amount from the estate, he vows she’ll pay with a prison sentence. Ravenna steps in to save her mother by taking the blame but finds herself paying off the debt, and dealing with Joss’s fury, as his servant. Strangely though, things don’t go the way Jonas planned. I love it when that happens! Here’s a link if you want to read the back cover copy.

annie 6Sounds delicious! There’s a hint of Rapunzel in IMPRISONED, the princess locked in a tower rescued by a man daring enough to brave the thorns surrounding her. You often include fairytale elements in your romances – what do you think is the enduring attraction of fairytale themes?

Anna, you make it sound as if I deliberately set out to use these themes. It’s true I did once decide to write a Beauty and the Beast book (UNDONE BY HIS TOUCH) but really, the fairytale elements find me. I think it’s that there are ideas within those old tales that resonate strongly with all of us and keep cropping up for that reason. IMPRISONED definitely has a touch of Rapunzel, because Leila’s imprisoned. On the other hand, she works to free herself rather than waits for someone else to do it. Just as well for her, Jonas is there to lend a hand. I think most writers can look back at particular stories and find hints of the fairytale within them.

IMPRISONED BY A VOW is a classic marriage of convenience story. Why do marriage of convenience stories appeal to you? You’ve written a few in your time! What particular twist did you put on this popular trope?

Anna, I wish I knew. MoC stories for some reason speak to me. In fact they yell at me from the bookshelves to be picked up. Something in my hard wiring responds to the idea of them. If I have to analyse it I suppose at heart it’s because I LOVE stories where hero and heroine are confronted by love, even when they don’t want it, especially when they don’t want it, but they can’t get away.

Annie 9You know those stories where hero and heroine are stuck together with the tension building as they’re forced to confront the things they’ve tried to hide from, and worse, the person who makes them feel far more than they want? Well, that’s what I love about MoC stories. You put the pair together, lock them up, don’t let them out and then apply heat and watch them squirm. (Romance authors can be mean to their characters – it’s allowed, it’s in our job description).

As for a twist on this theme – this time it’s not just the marriage locking them together, it’s what’s inside them, holding them back, forcing them to face the future together.

I noticed that your wonderful FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD was recently included in an anthology with a story by romance goddess Anne Mather. When I was a teenager, Anne Mather’s books were better than chocolate to me so I’m thrilled on your behalf. Can you share some of the books that inspired you to become a lifelong romance fan?

Anna, I love you calling it ‘wonderful’. Can you see my grin from here? I read Anne Mather too, and never, ever imagined having a story of mine published with hers. Wow! In my teens I read so many Mills and Boon books that most of them blurred into a delicious romantic haze.

Annie 7There were plenty of titles by Anne Hampson and Violet Winspear (who to me sounded like a romance writer). At the same time I was snaffling old copies of Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt from the library, which opened up all sorts of new worlds. I love the sense that you can open a romance and dive into a new world that might be in contemporary Venice, Montana or Botswana, or Regency England or even Tsarist Russia. Or maybe it will be in a very familiar world but with a whole new perspective because of the characters coming to life before your eyes.

Do you have question for the Bandits and Bandita buddies?

Sure do. Which authors set you on the road to reading romance and what was it about their writing that hooked you?

Oh, look forward to your answers to this, although I suspect my TBR pile will be groaning by the end of it.

BanditBootyAnnie has very generously offered two prizes today – 1 signed copy of IMPRISONED BY A VOW and 1 signed copy of a book from her backlist (bascially any of her titles except IMPRISONED!). Giveaway is international! Good luck, people. Get commenting!


Rakes and Roses Rule!

Days of Rakes and Roses final-72Ah, don’t you just love a launch in the lair?

We’ve had some spectacular ones lately. Bandita releases are coming thick and fast.

And today it’s my turn!

DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES is an e-novella that forms part of the “Sons of Sin” series which began with SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROGUE’S BED and continues on 27th August with A RAKE’S MIDNIGHT KISS. In the meantime, as a bit of a taster, readers can discover the love story of Lady Lydia Rothermere, the Duke of Sedgemoor’s sister (Cam features in 7 Nights and even more strongly in ARMK, although the hero of that story is rakish Sir Richard Harmsworth).

Here’s the blurb:

Lady Lydia Rothermere has spent the past decade trying to make up for a single, youthful moment of passion. Now the image of propriety, Lydia knows her future rests on never straying outside society’s rigid rules; but hiding away the desire that runs through her is harder than she could have ever dreamed. Now as Lydia prepares for a marriage that will suit her family, but not her heart, Lydia must decide what’s more important: propriety or passion?
Roses Wellington Botanical GardensSimon Metcalf is a rake and adventurer. But for all his experience, nothing can compare to the kiss he stole from the captivating Lydia Rothermere ten years ago. Simon can scarcely believe he’s about to lose the one woman he’s never forgotten. The attraction between them is irresistible, yet Lydia refuses to forsake her engagement. With his heart on the line, will Simon prove that love is a risk worth taking?

You can read an excerpt here:

DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES hit the North American waves on Tuesday, 2nd July, and it’s available at the bargain price of 99 cents!

That’s right. 99 cents!!!

I’m hoping it will be available in Australia and New Zealand soon.

If you click on the cover above, it will take you straight to Amazon. Here’s the Barnes and Noble link:

 This seemed like the perfect opportunity to bombard you with some photos of roses.

I love roses. They were my late mother’s favorite flower and she definitely passed the partiality on to me. My mum in particular loved those big, sweet-smelling old-fashioned style of roses and those are the roses I imagine littering Simon and Lydia’s bumpy path to true love.

All these photos were taken on my cruise to New Zealand. In Wellington, the capital, there are the most wonderful rose gardens adjoining the National Botanical Gardens. Thousands and thousands of them and all gorgeous. The scent on a hot summer’s day which is when I was there was enough to make you feel quite intoxicated.

So it wouldn’t be a launch without giving away a prize or two, would it? Just tell me your favorite flower/flowers and why and you’ll go in the draw. I’ve got three downloads of DAYS OF RAKES AND ROSES (their choice from my indie e-novellas for international winners) up for grabs today for my botanically minded Bandita Buddies! Good luck!

Jennifer St. George’s Winner!

BanditBootyThanks, everyone, for a great day in the lair last Friday when Jennifer St. George visited to tell us about her new contemporary romance THE LOVE DECEPTION. Jen has chosen her winner of the download and it’s:


Congratulations, Louisa! To claim your prize, please contact Jennifer through her website:

Happy reading!



Jennifer St. George’s Honest Deception!

jsg 2Just lately I’ve been lucky enough to catch up in person a couple of times with one of my favorite people, talented Aussie romance author Jennifer St. George who lives a couple of hours south of me in glorious Byron Bay, Australia’s most easterly point. And now, lucky me and lucky you, we get to catch up with the lovely Jen here in the lair.

Jen’s here today to talk to us about her latest release, THE LOVE DECEPTION, which is available worldwide as an e-book.




jsg 1You can find out more about Jen and her glamorous, sexy stories on her website:

Jen blogs with the fun and clever Love Cats Downunder:

You can also follow her on Facebook:



And make sure you check out her first two books, THE CONVENIENT BRIDE and SEDUCING THE SECRET HEIRESS!

Phew! Plenty of chances to get to know our Jen!

Jennifer, welcome back to the lair. Congratulations on your new release for Destiny Romance, THE LOVE DECEPTION.  Can you tell us about this story?

THE LOVE DECEPTION is my third novel with Destiny Romance. It combines legal intrigue, courtroom drama and a dash of exotic Barbados.

jsg 3When Felicity Carter wakes up naked in a strange bed, she has no idea how she got there. And no recollection of meeting the gorgeous man calmly offering her breakfast. Felicity flees – hoping that their paths never cross again.
The last thing she expects is to discover that her mystery man is Damon Fullbright, partner at the law firm where Felicity has just started work – and her new boss!

Damon is appalled to find the out-of-control young woman he rescued has been hired to work on his team. Apart from anything else, he doesn’t need the distraction of a hot blonde with a barrel-full of issues. But one-by-one, Felicity blows all Damon’s preconceptions out of the water. When Felicity explosively reveals her dreadful secret, will he risk his reputation and trust her to discover the truth?

Sounds great. What were the inspirations behind this book?

jsg 5Through my various jobs, I’ve travelled extensively and would often wake up in a hotel in a foreign country and forget where I was.  In those first few seconds of waking, I’d always get a jolt of adrenaline and my brain would scream…where am I? Of course I’d quickly realize I was fine, in a hotel and had to get up and go to work. I wondered what it would be like if you woke up and had no idea where you were.

Felicity does just that at the beginning of the book. From that point on, her life is a rollercoaster ride in the search for truth, understanding and ultimately…love.

What’s coming up next for you?

My current hero is an IT guru working in central London. My heroine runs an orangutan sanctuary in Brunei. He lives a fast paced, stressful, inner-city, jetset lifestyle. Building his global business is his sole focus. She’s a wildlife warrior who thinks the hero represents everything that is wrong with the world – IT gadgets, expensive lifestyle and no connection with animals and the natural world. It creates wonderful conflict, which I’m loving. I’ve already cried a couple of times writing their story, so I hope I’m conveying this emotion on the page.

Ljsg 4ast time you visited in January, we were talking about your wonderful second release SEDUCING THE SECRET HEIRESS. You’ve now been published for nearly a year and I wonder if becoming a published author has offered any surprises along the way.

I was pretty excited at the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention when a reader came up and told me how much she loved my books, took a photo and then tweeted me! Hadn’t had that happen before. I did feel pretty special.

Having people review your work publicly is also something very new and at first I found it quite confronting. Fortunately most of the reviews I’ve received so far have been positive (thank goodness!!).

Your books feature fabulous exotic locations like Venice and Barbados. What are your favorite travel destinations? Can we expect to see any of these destinations in future books? 

I love walking and do at least one bush-walking holiday a year – usually up in Queensland’s Lamington National Park. jsg 7Two years ago I walked the Cinque Terra trail in Italy. This year I hiked the Tasmanian Overland Track. This 65km, six-day trek winds through places of extraordinary beauty. I walked with a company that’s been running guided walks for over twenty-years and they’ve built huts along the trail.  Huts mean hot meals, hot showers, warm cabins and chilled wine (I’m not much of a camper). All this delivered by young, fit guides who take care of everything. Food tastes, oh, so much better when you’ve trekked at least twelve kilometres and someone else has cooked. I’d love to feature the Tasmanian rainforest in a book.

Having lived in South America, I’m considering setting a book there. Perhaps Rio or Santiago. New York also appeals as a setting. I remember that thrilling feeling the first time I walked down Fifth Avenue. Just being in that city made me feel like anything was possible.

But my favourite destinations will probably always be in Europe.  I lived in Europe (mostly England) for seven years and just loved the history, architecture, different languages (I can speak a bit of Spanish and am currently learning French), the landscapes, the food and the fact you can travel a few hundred kilometres (or much less) and be in a completely different culture.

jsg 6My favourite cities are Prague, Seville, Salzburg, Bruges, Venice, Florence and of course, Paris.

What do you think makes a great romance hero?

Yes, lots of romance heroes are tall, dark and good-looking. But, I don’t think there’s a template for a great romantic hero.  He can be cute, blond and wayward; brilliant, serious with glasses or ripped, gorgeous and executive. As long as the heroine fancies the knickers (or Calvins) off him I generally find I’m on the right track. Sometimes on the surface my heroes appear to behave a little badly, but there is always a very strong motivation for doing so. However, he always respects the heroine and deep down is very, very kind.

Do you have a question for our Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling?

I spend a lot of time thinking about what profession to give my characters. Felicity and Damon from THE LOVE DECEPTION are both lawyers. Are there any character’s professions you really love reading about? Are there any that you really don’t like or just didn’t suit the characters? Comment today for a chance to win a e-copy of THE LOVE DECEPTION (Amazon or iTunes).

BanditBootyThanks so much, Jen! Love the sound of the new book! Sounds like those two have a rocky road to love ahead of them.

Get commenting, people, to win the copy of THE LOVE DECEPTION!

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