Posted by Christina Brooke Dec 11 2014, 12:18 am in Christina Brooke, Christmas, Romance Bandits Facebook Party
Have you heard about our Facebook Holiday Extravaganza tomorrow? (That’s the 12th of December. The details of the event are here. Make sure you join us throughout the day as we celebrate the holiday season and give away lots of prizes!
The best thing about virtual parties is you can have anything you want–neither expense nor reality is a consideration. Hire a tropical island and some cabana boys, get Paolo and Sven (not to mention Sven’s taciturn brother, Lars) making cocktails, giving massages, the hockey hunks and Romans mingling with the crowd and… Wait, that sounds very familiar…
Our lair parties are the stuff of legend, but how about something a leetle more sophisticated? A marquee on the lawn with an oyster bar and Champagne? Or how about the great old Aussie barbie, with lashings of seafood and ice cold beer? A Spanish theme with paella and sangria?
Then there are the costume parties, which can be a lot of fun. These seem to be getting fewer and farther between for me these days but there’s nothing better to break the ice than checking out how ridiculous everyone looks.
Of course, if you’re in the northern hemisphere right now you’re probably thinking about mulled wine, roasting chestnuts and eggnog, but above all, you’re thinking about having your Christmas party somewhere warm.
Meanwhile, we in Australia are trying to beat the heat. For those of us who insist on doing the traditional things, Christmas fare can be a bit of a mixed blessing! The difference in season doesn’t stop us singing all the old traditional carols like “Let it Snow” and “Jingle Bells”, though. Our children grow up a tad confused about the whole Christmas thing.
What’s your favourite sort of party? What’s the last costume party you went to and what did you go as? Are you going to join us for Christmas frivolity tomorrow?
This is my last blog for the year, so I want to thank you all for the wonderful times we’ve had in 2014 and with you happy holidays and a fabulous New Year!
Posted by Christina Brooke Nov 27 2014, 12:30 am in Christina Brooke, Guilty Pleasures, Nutella, The Vampire Diaries
To all our American friends who celebrate it, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!
I must apologise that this post is not in the spirit of thankfulness. I come from Australia, where we’re not grateful for anything 🙂
No, that’s not true, but I do think it’s a lovely tradition to take a day to think about what you’re grateful for. And the huge yummy feast doesn’t hurt, either!
So, for those of us who are not gathering with loved ones over turkey and stuffing, today I’m talking once more about guilty pleasures.
Much as I try to live up to my highly sophisticated sobriquet in the lair, (i.e. Madame), I must on occasion admit to several guilty pleasures that might well knock me off that pedestal of elegance. (My tongue is firmly in cheek here, by the way!)
So here is a quick and severely truncated list of my guilty pleasures:
1. Nutella straight out of the jar. Is there anything that goes better with chocolate than hazelnut? At least I have not reverted to my high school days when I would spread Nutella on a chocolate chip cookie… Yum!
2. Pop music. I know I should love classical or jazz or at the very least complicated ‘alternative’ music, but give me a various artists CD of 1980s chart toppers and I’m happy. I will sometimes listen to Mozart when I’m writing but while I would *like* to be that cultured, classical will never be my first choice.
3. The Vampire Diaries. Really? A show about high school/college students dealing with vampires, werewolves and witches should not be my cup of tea. But I am HOOKED on this series. HOOKED, I tell you! Doesn’t matter how many ridiculous twists and turns the storyline has, I’m there because I love the characters and the way they interact. Plus the great one-liners. Not to mention that Ian Somerhalder is amazingly fun to watch.
4. BBQ Pork Spare Ribs. I know they are bad for me but I order them whenever I can. Sadly, most restaurants I go to don’t have them on the menu. Oh, but they should! They absolutely should.
5. Not having a smart phone. I am a bit strange but I don’t like to be available wherever I go. My friends know that it’s a huge pain for me to text from my ancient Nokia, so they tend to email rather than text. On one memorable occasion, I answered a happy new year text in April.
When I first had a cell phone the only people who had my number were my babysitter and my agent. Eventually I had to give the number to my husband *G*. Now, far too many people want to communicate with me by text so I suppose I’ll have to bite the bullet and get a smart phone, but that guilty pleasure is a hard one to give up!
What about you? Any guilty (or slightly weird but proudly indulged) pleasures you’ll admit to? Come on, we’re all friends here!
Posted by Christina Brooke Nov 11 2014, 3:40 am in Christina Brooke, efficiency, life hacks
Fundamentally, I am a lazy person when it comes to domestic chores. Or rather, I go through periods of intense industry followed by periods when I’m constantly looking for a way to do things more ahem, efficiently.
Whenever someone posts those “life hacks” articles on Facebook, I’m the first one to click the link. Who knew that you could separate eggs with suction from an empty water bottle? Or that if you stick a bunch of cloves in a lemon, it will ward off flies. (I am going to use that one this summer and see if it works).
The ant trap using icing sugar and bicarb did not work for me and nor did the lemon down the garbage disposal. Admittedly, I saw that in a movie, so I don’t know if that was a serious tip or not!
Recently, I discovered that making an ice cream cake for your kid’s birthday is not only much easier than a butter cake or sponge, everybody, young and old, loves ice cream cakes. Win-win.
Even my TBR pile is getting a bit of the ‘hack’ treatment. I have taken to listening to books I would otherwise think were a bit too long or turgid to tackle if I had to make time to sit down and read them. Usually, I save those kinds of books for holidays but now I wade right in. I intend to ingest quite a few classics this way.
I have tried to find novel writing ‘hacks’ but unfortunately, there’s no quick fix that I can see, other than BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) pounding out those words. *If someone knows differently, please drop me a line!
Ah, but then, for the important things in life–family, friends and books–there are no hacks.
And that’s probably how it should be.
What about you? Do you have any time or effort saving tip to share? I’d love to know!
Posted by Christina Brooke Aug 11 2014, 2:12 am in ARRA, Christina Brooke, conferences, RWA
Hi all! I’m just back from the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference, which was held in Sydney. I think it’s going to take me a week to recover!
As always, we had a ball. So much fun to catch up with writer friends and meet new ones. I was thrilled to see many readers, including our lovely Bandita Buddies Helen and Barb, who were there representing the Australian Romance Readers Association.
ARRA does an enormous amount of great work in promoting Australian romance writers. If you’re in Australia, check out their convention, to be held next year in Canberra. It’s going to be fantastic!
There were also some lair favourites among the authors–Amy Andrews, Denise Rossetti (right and yes, the lighting was purple, not the people!), Helene Young and Annie West. Also Sarah Mayberry (pictured with me, above), who won BOTH the Ella and the Ruby award for her fabulous books. Congratulations, Sarah!
Jen St. George, Cherry Adair and I battled it out with Anne Gracie, Amy Andrews and Sarah Wendell in a very unruly debate on the topic: “Alpha heroes are better than beta heroes”. We were for the affirmative side. Go Alphas!
There may have been roll-playing involved. And singing.
In fact, there is a video of our song floating around out there somewhere in cyberspace, which absolutely confirms my belief that while I can write some fairly decent lyrics (if I do say so myself) I am a shockingly bad singer. But all in a good cause!
The leather and lace cocktail party run by Destiny publishing was a huge success, with a very brave Roz Baxter as Cher a la “Turn Back Time” taking out the first prize.
We had a great turnout at the Australian Romance Readers Convention signing, where, as you can see, I made the acquaintance of the infamous “Bondage Bear”.
On awards night, the legendary Emma Darcy was inducted into the RWA hall of fame. Her speech was magnificent — inspiring and moving — she was accorded 2 standing ovations.
Onwards and upwards to Melbourne next year!
What about you? Do you go to conferences? Or have a regular get-together with friends, colleagues or other people who share a similar passion? Are you a member of a book club or a readers’ group where you can get together to discuss stories?
Posted by Christina Brooke Jul 11 2014, 1:00 am in A Hundred Summers, Beatriz Williams, Christina Brooke, Judith Klinghorn, Lauren Willig, summer reading, That Summer, The Last Summer, The Secret Life of Violet Grant
Brrr! It’s getting cold here (for subtropical Queensland, Australia, that is). And yet all I seem to read at the moment are books that have “summer” in the title.
Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me I really need to spend July and August in the northern hemisphere 🙂
At the moment, I’m reading A HUNDRED SUMMERS, by Beatriz Williams, which I snapped up immediately after finishing her brilliant latest release, THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT.
A HUNDRED SUMMERS i a clever, beautifully written story about star-crossed lovers in 1930s New York, the lengths certain people close to them will go to keep their secrets, and the upheaval of the stock market crash. Much of the book is spent on the beach in the Hamptons with moneyed young socialites sipping martinis and smoking cigarettes. Sitting here in my ugg boots, sniffling into my hot chocolate, how I wish I was there!
Judith Klinghorn’s THE LAST SUMMER is full of that Downton Abbey-style nostalgia for life among the English gentry and aristocracy before the Great War.
The book opens during that last precious, magical summer in 1914 before the world turned upside down. Life in the English country house would never be the same. Innocent Clarissa falls in love with the educated son of the housekeeper–seemingly an impossible choice, but war changes everything.
And finally, the lovely Lauren Willig’s THAT SUMMER, which is just out and highly recommended. You might know Lauren from her fabulous Pink Carnation series, or perhaps from last year’s brilliant launch into time-slip women’s fiction, THE ASHFORD AFFAIR.
THAT SUMMER flashes back and forth between the present and nineteenth century England. Julia, the present day American heroine, is left a house in England (don’t we all wish that would happen to us?) When she’s cleaning out the house preparing it for sale, Julia finds a lost painting by one of the pre-Raphaelites who had a personal connection to the house. As she delves into the love story behind the painting, she finds the key to unlocking her own memories of the past.
There are two beautiful love stories in this book, one in the present and one in the past. And of course, all the glory of England in the summer time.
If you’re in the northern hemisphere, what’s on your summer reading list? If you’re not, what’s your favourite beachy or summer time read?
Posted by Christina Brooke Jul 5 2014, 12:33 am in Christina Brooke, Giveaways, Lady Windermere's Lover, Loretta Chase, Miranda Neville, Release Party, The Wickedest Lord Alive, Vixen in Velvet
Hello everyone! Charge your glasses, choose your partners and devil take the hindmost! I’m celebrating the release of the third book in my Westruthers series, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE today.
There are so many wonderful historicals out this month, I thought I’d celebrate the genre and give away three of them, including of course, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE. (The cover below, right, is the audio version.)
But as usual, I’m going to make you work for your prize. Bwahaha! I thought we’d play a fun game that we’ve played in the past.
“Write the next line…”
So to go into the draw to win all 3 new historical releases, all you have to do is write the next line (or paragraph, if you like) of all three excerpts (and I mean make up the next line yourself, don’t go quoting the real next line!).
Here we go!
THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE
Steyne narrowed his eyes, as if to bring the prospect he described into focus. “In the meantime, I shall be smitten with your charms. Nothing will do for me but to propose within the week.”
Smitten. She couldn’t imagine it. With a laugh that verged on hysterical, she said, “It would almost be worth it to see you act the lovelorn fool.”
He grimaced. “It’s not a role I’ve had cause to play before. No matter. After a week or so, we’ll announce our betrothal. After which, we shall romantically elope and leave immediately for our honeymoon. That should let the rumor mill run out of power by the time we reappear.”
“You think I am likely to fall into your arms after one week of courting?” She raised an eyebrow and hoped it spoke eloquently enough of her disbelief. She didn’t see what choice she had in the matter, but he didn’t need to know that.
For an answer, Steyne met her gaze with that direct, piercing look that somehow lit her with cold fire. With a slight smile curving his lips, he moved closer. So close that her skin warmed a little from the heat of his body.
That warmth called to her strongly. It was so long, so very long, since anyone had held her.
But she kept her longing in check, clung to her sense of self-preservation like a drowning woman clung to a rope.
His hand came up. She braced for his touch, but didn’t back away. To do so would be to admit how powerfully he affected her.
One gloved finger brushed the pearl that hung from her earlobe. Then it trailed, lightly, ever so lightly, from the sensitive, vulnerable place behind her ear down the curve of her neck until it reached the pearls at her throat.
Tremors shivered within her, tiny fissures snaking through the armor of her defiance.
Galling beyond belief that his slightest caress wreaked such havoc. She’d need to shore up her defenses if she wanted to beat him at his own game.
“Admit it,” he said, fingering the pearls at her throat. “You are more than half in love with me already.”
Write Lizzie’s response!
LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER by Miranda Neville
She turned to look at her companion, whose low voice dropped to an impossibly deep bass when he was particularly amused or especially cynical. His appearance alone was enough to make him stand out. His tall, lean figure was habitually clad in unrelieved black—this evening in satin breeches and an evening coat and waistcoat of velvet embroidered in black silk. Even his neckcloth was black. The gloom of his costume enhanced the satanic effect of dead-straight black hair, which he wore long and tied back in a queue with a silk bow. He sat upright beside her with arms extended, hands resting on the silver-chased knob of the ebony walking stick he rarely left at home. His dependence on the elegant staff was an affectation for a man under thirty in perfect health. Some people, including Cynthia, found it amusing. Others found it just one more reason to detest him. The Duke of Denford had plenty of enemies.
“I believe you enjoy shocking people, Julian.”
Denford’s mouth curled unpleasantly, then the thin face with the hawkish nose made one of the mercurial transformations that fascinated Cynthia, and had sent her scuttling out of town a few weeks earlier, terrified she would succumb to the heady seduction of the duke’s brilliant blue eyes.
“I enjoy shocking you,” he said.
Write Cynthia’s response!
VIXEN IN VELVET by Loretta Chase
She stood before the Botticelli work titled Venus and Mars, and might have been standing on another planet or in another time, so completely did it absorb her. She stood and stared, and could have counted every brush stroke, trying to get to the bottom of it. What she couldn’t do was escape it.
If anybody had stood in her way, she might have throttled that person. Oddly enough, nobody did. The British Institution’s Annual Summer Exhibition continued to attract visitors. It drew as well numerous artists, who set up their easels in the galleries, in order to copy the work of old masters. These artists made annoying obstacles of themselves while they desperately exercised what might be their only opportunity to copy works from private collections.
Nobody stood in Leonie’s way. Nobody pontificated over her shoulder. She didn’t notice this, let alone wonder why. She hadn’t come for the art but for one specific reason.
A most important reason…which she’d forgotten the instant her gaze landed on the painting.
She might have stood transfixed until Doomsday, or until one of the caretakers pitched her out. But—
A crash, sudden as a thunderclap, broke the room’s peace.
She jumped, and stumbled backward.
And hit a wall that oughtn’t to have been there.
No, not a wall.
It was big, warm, and alive.
It smelled like a man: shaving soap and starch and wool. Two man-sized gloved hands, which lightly grasped her shoulders and smoothly restored her to an upright position, confirmed the impression.
She turned quickly and looked up—a good ways up—at him.
Or, more accurately, ye god Mars.
Write the next line!
Up for grabs today: One copy of THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE, one copy of LADY WINDERMERE’S LOVER, and one copy of VIXEN IN VELVET go to ONE reader who writes the next lines for the excerpts above! Good luck, everyone!
Posted by Christina Brooke Jun 11 2014, 12:38 am in Burn Notice, Christina Brooke, heroes, London's Last True Scoundrel, The West Wing, The Wickedest Lord Alive
Hi all! I can’t believe it’s less than a month before my next in the Westruthers series, THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE comes out.
To celebrate, I’m giving away an audio recording of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL today. Those of you who know how much I adore listening to books will understand how excited I was when St. Martin’s sold the series to Tantor!
Today’s post was inspired by my recent (and belated) compulsive viewing of The West Wing. I have to admit that I watch for the personal relationships and character arcs rather than the politics. Let’s not go into politics on this blog. Heaven forbid!
Anyway, the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House is Josh Lyman. Now, while not unattractive, not even his mother would say Josh gives Brad Pitt a run for his money in terms of pure good looks.
But when Amy Gardner comes on the scene, wow! The chemistry between them is almost bigger than the show. They have a feisty relationship (in the best sense of that word) and I admit, I love it when intelligent, strong lovers fight passionately.
But it’s Josh’s intensity that takes him from lukewarm to sizzling hot.
Josh can be in the middle of an intense conversation at the office about an appropriation bill but when Amy walks by, he loses his train of thought.
That’s great acting, and that’s what we all want in a hero, isn’t it? Who cares whether the government can afford to keep running? The girl he says he’s “bewitched” by has just sashayed past.
Another character who would not ordinarily rank at the top of my hotness list, is Michael Westen from Burn Notice. (I know, I’ve probably mentioned him before.)
And yet, the intensity with which he loves Fiona, his partner and on-again, off-again girlfriend, is riveting. They go through a lot together and their relationship isn’t easy. He’s a burned CIA spy and she’s an ex-IRA agent. Now they work freelance, often doing bad things for good reasons, but there’s always a line they won’t cross.
When Michael is about to violate his own rigid code of ethics, it’s to save Fiona. She says to him, “There has to be a line!” His response: “There is NO line when it comes to you.”
Give me a man who will say that and mean it over Brad Pitt any day. Of course, if Brad Pitt wants to step up… *G*
What about you?
Do you find a certain male character attractive because of his chemistry with his lover?
What couple do you think has the best chemistry on television or in the movies at the moment?
One lucky reader will win an audio copy of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL!