Finding love and hope through the ANZACs

My dad’s a Vietnam Veteran and that gives special meaning to Anzac Day for me. I know the sacrifices our soldiers give, quietly, heroically, and how we take those sacrifices for granted. I know the strength it takes to rebuild your life when it’s been touched by war or tragedy – not first hand, but because that re-building is a whole family affair. We all feel the pain.

My parents met because of Vietnam. Mum was working with the girlfriend of a serving soldier and asked if there was anyone in his unit who didn’t have a girlfriend and wanted a penpal. Dad answered. They’ve been married for over forty years.

So I know that love is stronger than grief, stronger than loss. Love endures and love saves.

This Anzac Day, I hope you celebrate and draw strength from its message of courage and love, and from the power of mateship. That’s why I wrote “Memories of Love”.

–Jenny Schwartz

9082When her family home burns down, it’s the final heartbreak for Rita Jorden who has already lost her parents. Her boss, former SAS captain and head of Tamerlane Security, Ivan Novak, steps in, offering her his home and his help. But Ivan has his own demons, and although he’s interested in Rita, there’s darkness in his past that could cause her harm. Thrown together into a situation that’s too close for comfort, this story can only end in one of two ways: in the destruction of Rita’s dreams of love — or the gift of healing and hope to two damaged survivors.  

Inspiration Behind the Story: Jane O’Reilly

19909It might seem a little odd given that I write romance, but I have my husband’s love of the Discovery Channel to thank for a lot of my inspiration and The Holiday Survival Guide is no exception.

The hero in this novella is a survival expert who used to have his own TV show (ringing any bells yet?) and anyone who has spent any time watching the Discovery Channel will have stumbled across Bear Grylls. There is something innately sexy about a man who is not only physically tough enough to withstand extreme conditions, but also mentally strong enough to keep going when those conditions threaten to be too much. Add to that sharp intelligence and a complete lack of shame when it comes to nudity, and suddenly things become very interesting indeed.

This is the man you’d want on board when your plane went down and you were stranded in the middle of the desert. Someone who knows so much about wildly different environments and is able to conquer their fear and do things that I know I personally would never be able to do, like jumping out of an plane, climbing a sheer rock face, or eating things that really shouldn’t be eaten.

We’re so often surrounded now by waxed, preened, pretty men with gym honed bodies designed purely for show, and to me there’s nothing sexy about a man who spends most of his time worrying about his hair. Give me a man who can build a shelter and start a fire any day.

If the zombie apocalypse ever happens – I know who I’ll be calling :)


Jane O’Reilly started writing as an antidote to kids’ TV when her youngest child was a baby. Her first novel was set in her old school and involved a ghost and lots of death. It’s unpublished, which is probably for the best. Then she discovered contemporary romance, and that, as they say, was that. She lives near London with her husband and two children.  Her next title with Escape, Perfect Timing, is available for pre-order now.

Can true love survive cheating?

18886In her emotional, sexy, addictive novel, Love, Lust, and Lies, Cathleen Ross explores a marriage post-cheating. The novel opens with her heroine beginning a new chapter in her life as a single mother, after discovering that her husband has been having affairs. The relationship is further complicated by the fact that Gabriella loves sex, wants to have it with her husband, but is continually rebuffed. To then find out that he is seeking it elsewhere is devastating.

Underneath the surface are a number of cultural influences at play. Both Gabriella and Tony come from Italian-Australian families, with an unspoken (and then spoken!) belief that family is sacred, and that Gabriella is at fault for breaking up the family – not Tony, who, after all, is a man and must be allowed to do manly things like sleep with other women. When Gabriella meets a much younger, sexy, brooding man who reminds her that she is a desirable, sexy woman, she revels in the naughty fling. After all, turnabout is fair play. But can a marriage ever be saved if both partners are intent on hurting each other?

We asked Cathleen about cheating in marriage, and she, in turn, asked others.

Cathleen Ross interviewed two people, in two separate marriages who cheated to find out why. She asks how it affected their marriages. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. She also interviewed a sex therapist about the nature of cheating. 

Daniel, you’ve been married for ten years. When did you first start cheating?

Firstly, I want to say I love my wife but we had three children in quick succession. I love sex and my wife wasn’t interested. She was always too tired. At first I went to a Rub and Tug place, but after a while, that didn’t satisfy me. I hated it when my wife knocked me back, which happened a lot. Sometimes, we’d make love and she’d just lie there. It made me feel bad about myself. I had to do a work project in another state, which meant I was away during the week. I worked with a very attractive single woman. One day things led to another.

My wife knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell her. I tried to get her to leave the kids with a nanny and come away for a weekend. She wouldn’t. Things unraveled when the girl I was seeing wanted me to leave my wife and kids for her. I knew she wanted children. I didn’t want another family. I had enough kids. I ended it but the girl wrote a poison pen letter to my wife. The shit hit the fan. I wanted to leave. My wife insisted we go to counseling. The counselor helped my wife see that I was more than just the provider for the family. I think she took it for granted that I would always be the money earner. We got in some help so that my wife and I could spend more time together.

We’d go away for weekends and make time for each other. Somehow, almost losing each other and working hard to keep the marriage together has made us stronger. We went to counseling for three years. Our guy was good. We learned about the me, me, me dinosaur brain that just wants fulfillment. We also learned about really loving someone and working for their greater happiness. I think we talk now, really talk about our needs. I had to learn to speak up and say what I wanted in the marriage. It didn’t mean I’d get it, but I think my wife listens now. I’m happy in my marriage.


Louise, you were married with two sons. Why did you cheat?


People always thought we had this great marriage but my husband was obsessed with sport. It was football on the television, football at weekends, football all the time. While it was great for our sons, I couldn’t stand it anymore. There was another father at school my boys went to and I was very attracted to him. I organised play dates for the kids and family holidays. The sex with my husband was mechanical. I think with young kids we snatched time but it wasn’t good. At least not for me. Sex with my lover was exciting. Initially, it started as an affair, but we had so much in common. My husband was a secretive man but my lover would spend hours talking. In the end he became my best friend. Eventually, my husband found out about us because I’d booked a holiday with my lover. We split and it was the best thing I ever did, but not at first. Our friends took sides. All the kids went to the same school. Some people still don’t speak to me because I had an affair. My kids wanted us to patch things up. I felt guilty. Their father was a good man, but I couldn’t see my way through another twenty, thirty years of monotony. I needed to have more in my life. We divorced and I married my lover. I’m happy now but it’s been a long tough road.

Linda, in your experience as a sex counsellor, how frequent is infidelity in marriage?  Is it more men than women? A certain personality type?  What is the chance of the marriage surviving? How do people make it work again?

Over 50% of spouses will have a fling at some time throughout their marriage. Whilst it used to be more men cheating on their wives, current figures show an equal number of husbands and wives cheating.The increase in women cheating is probably contributed to by the increase in women in the workforce prior to and post babies and greater access to social media.

I think there are personality types that would be least likely to cheat but given the right opportunity and circumstance there are a multitude of personalities that would cheat. Those with narcissistic tendencies are more likely to cheat when they are dissatisfied at home. That is partly because a narcissistic insecure personality requires constant external validation to make that person feel good about themselves.Such personality types commonly have low self control and are higher risk takers.

Men who are not romanced by their wives, criticized , feel disconnected, have wives disinterested in sex, feel undervalued, not appreciated or not desired will be prime candidates for an affair.

Women have affairs for  some of the same reasons but the greater reason for women is a feeling of a lack of emotional connection, a lack of intimacy with their spouse. Whilst men can have affairs and still love their wives and even have better sex with their wives during the early stages of the affair, women react differently. Women are far more likely to invest all their emotion into the affair and are more likely to leave their marriages as a result of falling in love with their lover.

Sternberg is a psych who talks about the triangular theory of love.

  1. Intimacy. This involves feeling of closeness, connectedness, attachment and  bondedness.
  2. Passion. The sexual attraction and limerance.
  3. Commitment. Wanting a long term relationship, dependency, shared goals.

Early relationships are high on passion, have developing intimacy and low commitment. Over the long term all 3 are necessary for a successful relationship in changing strengths.

The strength of a marriage before the affair is in my opinion the indicator as to how a marriage may or may not succeed in repairing after an affair.

The biggest issue is trust and whether the couple are committed to facing the issues that led to the affair. For couples where one is a repeat offender there is very little hope of fixing the marriage long term.

Cathleen Ross loves writing erotic romance. Her latest Harlequin Escape release is Ruby’s Fantasy. When Cathleen’s not writing for Harlequin, she’s working on her Forbidden Fantasy self-published series. To learn more, please visit, or email

This is a very contentious issue. What do you think? Can a marriage survive cheating? Do cheaters deserve happy-ever-after endings? Or is everyone redeemable?

Obligatory Game of Thrones Post

…because we’re just as excited about its return as the rest of the internet.

So tell us, who’s got the early jump on your favourite S4 GOT relationship?

j&BJamie and Brienne?

GameOfThrones-Margaery-Olenna_01Margery and Lady Olenna?

The-Hound-AryaThe Hound and Arya?

9556140-largeThe classic bromance of Jon Snow and Sam?

Tyrion-Lannister-and-Bronn-the-sellsword-Game-of-Thrones-season-3-episode-1Or other bromance Tyrion and Bronn?

daarioor perhaps Khaleesi and new Daario?

Inspiration Behind the Story – Alexis Fleming

Imagine Hugh Jackman, standing beside you, shirt off, hunting for opals. Wouldn’t that do it for you? Inspiration? You bet.

I wish! 9509

No, that’s not the inspiration behind my story, Hidden Fire, although it sure fires up my imagination. It was a man though who inspired me to write Hidden Fire, or rather, the memory of a certain man. My father.

Hidden Fire is set primarily on an opal field called Opalton out in western Queensland, close to where I lived as a child. The first person to take me out there to fossick for opal chips was my dad. Opalton is exactly as described in Hidden Fire. It’s a barren, dry land. A few sparse trees scattered around, offering very little in the way of shade. There’s no running water, which means you have to cart it with you. And no mod cons to speak of.

The carbide lanterns mentioned in the story are still used today, albeit a more modern version. Dad would light the lantern as the sun dipped down and we’d cook over an open fire, before rolling out our bedrolls and settling down under the stars to listen to the tales my father would tell us. An amazing adventure for a kid.

We grew up on the stories of the local people, lived our childhood with a lot of them, and sucked in those legends like we were little sponges. And although the land was rough, hot, and hard, there was a certain romance to it, too. It’s something I’ll never forget. Something else I’ll never forget? I had my first kiss as a teenager out at Opalton. Fancy remembering that after all this time.

When I got older I joined a lapidary club and we would regularly travel out to Opalton. Then we’d bring back what we’d found and polish the opal chips until we could fit them into pre-made jewellery settings. I still have a few unpolished opals from that opal field in my possession, one of them a piece of fire opal. It’s not as grand as the magical fire opal that features in Hidden Fire, but it was enough to fire my imagination, which in turn led to the story taking shape in my mind. 

The kisses in Hidden Fire are way hotter than my first foray into the world of romance, but no less satisfying. The land is just as hot and rugged, but still produces opal for those adventurous enough to hunt for them. And the memories of the man who taught me to enjoy sleeping under the stars remain to this day.

Come visit Opalton with me through the pages of Hidden Fire. If you like a little spicy romance with your intrigue, then Hidden Fire is for you.

An Australian-set paranormal drawing on the Aboriginal Dreamtime in a hot, suspenseful series debut.

Gili Adams is willing to do anything to protect her parents, even travel to Australia in search of the mythical opal, the Dreamtime Fire. But her resolve is tested when she has to enlist the help of anthropologist Morgan Hunt, the Guardian of the opal and the man who once accused her of using her feminine wiles to steal a priceless artefact. She’s faced with an impossible choice: lie to the man she never wanted to lose or risk her parents’ lives.

Nothing can be allowed to stand in her way… not even her own heart.  

Alexis Fleming writes sassy, fun erotic contemporaries, as well as paranormals and fantasies where you’ll find yourself coming face to face with anything from sexy shifters to beings from other planets. When she isn’t tied to her computer, Alexis walks the beautiful beaches of Hervey Bay, or watches the farmer across from her house bring his cattle out to graze. The best of both worlds. What more could any writer ask for?

Feel-Good Friday: the love of Pocahontas

Today, in romance history, Pocahontas married John Rolfe.

pocahontasNo, not this one.

marriage of pocahontasThis one.

Here’s what John Rolfe had to say, in a letter wherein he agonised about the relationship:

Besides, I say the holy spirit of God often demaunded of me, why I was created?

If not for transitory pleasures and worldly vanities, but to labour in the Lords vineyard, there to sow and plant, to nourish and increase the fruites thereof, daily adding witt the good husband in the Gospell, somewhat to the tallent, that in the end the fruites may be reaped, to the comfort of the laborer in this life, and his salvation in the world to come? And if this be, as undoubtedly this is, the service Jesus Christ requireth of his best servant: wo unto him that hath these instruments of pietie put into his hands and wilfillly despiseth to worke with them. Likewise, adding hereunto her great apparance of love to me, her desire to be taught and instructed in the knowledge of God, her capablenesse of understanding, her aptnesse and willingnesse to receive anie good impression, and also the spirituall, besides her owne incitements stirring me up hereunto.

What should I doe?

(reference: Virtual Jamestown site)

April Showers New Books on the World!

…and we’re not foolin’.

You can also now buy Escape titles directly from the Harlequin Mills & Boon web page, so if you prefer to shop direct from the source, then get cracking!

 20614 From Ros Baxter: A paranormal novel that explores what exactly goes on under the sea.

The sequel to Fish Out of Water is a sexy, funny mystery about strength, love, and French fries.

20618From Ainslie Paton:  a contemporary romance with suspense elements and one heck of a road trip.

They’re a car crash waiting to happen…so why do they keep crashing into each other?

20616From Cathleen Ross, a sexy, funny, delicious treat that sets a country mouse deep into city territory: Sydney’s Kings Cross. 

A naughty-but-nice story about the fun one can have playing dress-up.

20615From Alyssa J Montgomery: an emotional, indulgent, shivers-inducing story about an alpha hero who wants the one woman he can’t have.

She betrayed him and left him to be with another. Now that she’s alone again, nothing is going to stop him from coming for her.

20613From Eliza Redgold comes a lovely, contemporary, David vs. Goliath coastal romance that’s sure to boost Broome tourism.
He thought he knew all there was to know about the birds and the bees, but he’s about to get schooled.

20617From Wendy Godding: a fantastic new voice in YA, with a time twist – a main character who has to solve her own murder.

She has died countless times before, and she is not going to let it happen again.

A Fool for Love

Cathleen Ross asks that one important question for April Fool’s Day – have you ever been a fool for love?

When I was twenty I had a huge crush on an Italian Australian fellow at university. I knew he was interested in me, so I went all out to win him.  I’m half Italian, so I told him what a great cook I was and invited him for dinner. Unfortunately, what I neglected to tell him was that my mother who was English, did all the cooking. I knew nothing.

In my ignorance I thought I’d whip up a pasta sauce before dinner. As my mince bubbled and boiled on the stove I added a can of tomato. I thought I’d wow this guy with my roast chicken too, the only thing I knew how to cook much to my flatmates’ disgust. Making a special effort, I rang mum and asked for her stuffing recipe. In my excitement and effort to impress this new man, I completely forgot to buy any vegetables.

When my fellow came to the door, my heart started beating overtime. He was gorgeous. A dark Italian with piercing black eyes and swarthy skin. I almost swooned on the doorstep.

After I invited him in, I gave him a drink and he sat at the kitchen table. My concoction looked ready, the mince having reduced to sauce quality. It smelled, well, it smelled like mince.  I served it up with some pasta and sat to enjoy our dinner for two.

Unfortunately, the mince tasted like mince too, minus the salt and the herbs. It was disgusting. To my date’s credit he managed to eat it and not complain. Years later he still tells the story about how he ate my appalling meal and pretended he liked it.

I then served up the roast chicken loading heaps of it onto his plate in absence of any vegetables. While eating, he picked up a plastic package. In those days the gizzards came in a little plastic package, which I’d forgotten to remove.

I wasn’t surprised when my date invited me out for dessert. He was probably too scared to see what I had in store.

Six years and lots of cooking lessons from my date’s mother, he married me.

So, have you ever been a fool for love?

Cathleen Ross’s Pasta Sauce after 30 years of marriage.


  • 250 grams of pork mince
  • 250 grams of veal mince
  • 2 bunches of coriander (cilantro )
  • 6 onions
  • I pod of tomato paste
  • 5X250 ml tins of diced Italian tomatoes
  • 4 gloves of garlic
  • I large deep dish frypan (prefer cast iron style)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Half a teaspoon of cinnamon


Cut onions finely. Cut coriander finely,  no stems. Crush the garlic. Add salt to the mince.

Order of cooking

Place onions in pan with good amount of olive oil, but not so much that they are drowning. Cook on high heat until they are browning. Add coriander at high heat then the cinnamon, and mix until the coriander is infused. Add mince and cook at high heat until the mince is cooked and the coriander and onions are mixed in. Make sure you do not burn the ingredients.

Add the diced tomatoes, garlic, and paste. Keep the heat high for the next 10 to 15 minutes, and keep moving the sauce off the bottom with a wooden spoon.

If it starts burning, take the pan off and use the spoon to scrape the pan so the sauce doesn’t burn. We want it to get  sticky, not burned, so keep the heat high and don’t leave the sauce at this stage. Once the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, lower the heat.

Stir every 5 minutes from now on. If the sauce gets dry, add white wine.  Let it simmer on medium heat with lid slightly off to allow moisture to evaporate.

The sauce should be ready in 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how much water is added. I judge it ready when the taste is good enough to want another spoonful, and then I turn it off.

Cathleen Ross writes for Escape Publishing. Her next release is Ruby’s Fantasy.

Australian Romance Readers Association

ARRA-logo_RGB_medium-qualityWe talked about all the fun that was had at the ARRA dinner last week, so we thought we’d give the association behind the night a bit of space to tell you all about themselves, what they offer, and why you should join up.

ARRA do a fabulous job of promoting romance, getting readers together, and throwing great events. We’re members – and recommend that you join ASAP as well!

BSE4 banner_600The Australian Romance Readers Association was established in 2008 in order to unite a vast community of romance readers, and to promote romance fiction. ARRA is the first national organisation of its kind, and is committed to serving the needs of its members throughout Australia and beyond. ARRA is dedicated to providing a forum for romance readers to communicate, share and explore all things romance fiction.

ARRA was created by romance readers, for romance readers. With a growing community of avid fans of all sub-categories of the romance fiction genre, we are the largest network of romance readers in the Southern Hemisphere.

Our activities include local social events, the annual Australian Romance Reader Awards, and the biennial Australian Romance Readers Convention. We also host group book-signing events where readers get to meet local and international romance authors.

Join ARRA today and:

  • connect with our blog and email group—enjoy 24-hour access to reviews, interviews, giveaways and other people who like to read the same things you do

  • get the inside scoop with authors and publishers via our monthly e-newsletter

  • receive discounts on all our events

  • vote in the Australian Romance Reader Awards

  • attend the annual ARRA Awards Dinner

  • rub shoulders with best-selling authors at our biennial Australian Romance Readers Convention

  • catch up with other members at our monthly social events around Australia.

ARRA also offers great benefits to authors. We offer opportunities for you to reach your current readers and fans … and find new ones! We feature reviews and new book releases each month, and have a blog where you are always welcome as a guest blogger.

In August this year we will be hosting a book-signing event in Sydney that will feature 80 romance authors, including international guests Cherry Adair and Marie Force. You can find out details here:

In March next year we will be holding our 4th biennial Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra. We are thrilled to be welcoming Helene Young, Sylvia Day and Victoria Dahl as keynote speakers at this convention. You can read more about that here: