Feed Your Reader: A Celebrity Cinderella Story

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Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

It wasn’t her fault…

Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.

It’s not his place…

Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.

It’s not meant to be…

However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?

 

“Kate J Squires obviously knows how to keep the reader engrossed!” – iBooks review

 

Falling Star is available now! ibooks, Booktopia, Nook, Google, Kobo, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Friday Five: Eva Scott

1523Author: Eva Scott
First published with Escape: 2004 – The Last Gladiatrix
Favourite romance trope: Second chance love
Ideal hero (in three words): Seasoned, magnetic, strong
Ideal heroine (in three words): Independent, curious, vulnerable
Latest book: Red Dust Runaway

What began your romance writing career? Why do you write romance?

During my teenage years, I spent hours scouring the second-hand bookshops for romance novels with my mother. We had our favourites and it was like a treasure hunt for something we hadn’t read yet. When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel it was a no-brainer to start with romance. Romance readers are more discerning than people give them credit for and if you can please them you’re on your way to becoming a good writer.

What was the best writing advice you ever received?

Writing is a discipline. Sit down and write. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, but if you don’t write its merely a daydream.

How did your latest book come to life? What was your eureka moment?

The first piece of inspiration for Red Dust Runaway came from a Vogue Australia photo shoot in the Outback. Beautiful images of such a timeless land.

My mother, who was battling cancer at the time, put me on to the Trivago Man. She was so sick that the fact she called me to tell me about this incredibly delicious man on the telly piqued my interest. He formed the inspiration for my hero, Kit.

Eva Scott - Christian Goran Trivago

I saw One Direction’s Royal Variety performance. Those poor boys looked exhausted, as if someone had propped them up with sticks and told them to sing (which they probably had). They seemed to have everything they’d ever dreamed of, but no life of their own.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/familiar? Do you have one already?

An otter! I can connect with the inquisitive, playful and determined nature of an otter.

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As for pets, I have an old cocker spaniel named Taj, after the Australian surfer. When he was younger he liked to jump on a surf board but now he’s quite blind and finds it a little overwhelming. He’s been my constant companion for 12 years. He’s put up with all sorts of adventures and nonsense from me. He’s been the dog of a lifetime. When he goes out with my husband and son, it’s him I miss following me around the house!

Eva Scott -Taj 2017

If you could cast anyone for the movie/stage adaption of your book and characters, who would they be?

If Red Dust Runaway was to be adapted for the screen I’d love Emma Stone to play the part of Iris, our very talented but sheltered heroine who’s on a journey of self-discovery.

Eva Scott - Emma Stone

For the hero, Kit, I want Christian Goran. Of course. Happy to give him his big break.

trivago Australia 2014 TV commercial (LINK to Youtube vid)


31475One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

 

Exclusive Excerpt 2: Falling Star

Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

Holy skittle-eating walrus. Briana’s senses were so overwhelmed, she couldn’t even swear coherently inside her own head. Her entire universe had shrunk to the magic place where Gareth’s fingers connected with her skin, and it was all she could do to stop herself from orgasming just from his touch on her back. She hadn’t even realized that was physically possible.

His hands glided down her spine again and she moaned helplessly, unable to stop the sound from streaming unbidden from her normally controlled mouth. Her skin flared in sensation, sparks and heat tracing in an afterglow wherever Gareth touched. This wasn’t a massage; this was foreplay. If she rolled over and the slightest breeze wafted past her nipples, she’d probably come there and then.

Attempting to keep herself from grinding against the table, Briana drew a steady breath and shuddered as Gareth’s fingers traced over her neck. Goosebumps immediately sprang up. So good. She wanted to tell him, wanted to speak the words out loud so he’d know how wonderful he was.

Where did that come from? Brianna never wanted to speak; silence was her friend, a mantle against the world. She didn’t want to talk evernot when her manager begged her to do radio interviews, not when she was asked to present at the Grammysnot even when a few words might have helped her case against that douchebag Rogers.

No. Briana and silence were a perfect match, in a life that yielded no other pairing as strong as this one. Silence protected, silence attacked, and silence highlighted. It wasn’t, as some people believed, a ploy to protect her vocal cords. Her silence meant that when she sang, her voice was all the more precious, because it was the only time it was used. Diluting the purity of her music with empty words was pointless. She wasn’t about to change that for chitchat with the handsome spa dude.

But still, the desire to engage in conversation lingered. Who are you, Gareth? Do you know my music? Would you like to kiss me? How simple would it be to ask and be answered?

You’re enjoying this so far?’ Gareth asked, a rhetorical question considering her physical reactions. Was it her imagination, or was his voice thick with lust? Hell, who needed words? Maybe it was as easy as rolling over and smoothly making an offer with her eyes to take this little oil-fest into the bedroom. After all, that was how it had worked with the rest of her hookupsGod knew most guys weren’t interested in talking anyway.

Now. Do it now! She turned her head to the side and looked back to where Gareth stood over her, but before she could flip over, he said, ‘Ms. Brite … I hope I’m not being too forward, but I really need to say something to you.’

Her breath hitched as she lay straight again. Well, this was promising. Maybe he was about to ask her if she wanted to take things further, and then she could casually nod and agree as if it wasn’t all she’d been able to think about for the last hour.

I need to say thank you.’

Thank you? What for? With her face mushed into the table hole, her brow creased in confusion.

His knuckles found a knot below her shoulder blade, and he firmly stretched the lumps out as he said, ‘For your music. I … I lost my mom last year, and the only thing that helped me get through were your songs.’

Several emotions hit Briana at once: pride, curiosity, sorrow. Of course she received thousands of daily PMs and tweets praising her music, and she genuinely appreciated them all, but this was different, more intimate in a way she couldn’t understand. She desperately wanted to ask which songs in particular he’d loved, her interest almost winning over her vow of silence.

As if he heard her unspoken question, he replied, ‘Every track from Enshroud really hit home for me.’

Enshroud? Pride took over now. That album was her baby, but it had tanked so badly, she could have thrown a party for everyone who bought the record and held it in a broom closet.

Gareth continued. ‘It was brilliant. It spoke to me. You’re incredibly talented.’

Blushing furiously, something she seemed to be doing often around this man, she said, ‘Thank you.’

It took a moment for her to grasp that she’d spoken, and when the realization landed, she gasped, clamping her lips shut tightly, grateful that she was face down. I spoke? What the hell? It had been years since she’d talked; it was her natural state to keep all the words inside until she was songwriting.

But within half an hour, this man with the magic hands had managed to ply her voice from her chest, and Brianna wasn’t sure how. Maybe he didn’t hear me, she reassured herself, hoping desperately he’d change the subject.

Possibly she’d gotten lucky, because Gareth continued to talk in a tender tone. ‘I can hear that you love what you do. It came through in every note of that album, even the sad songs. When someone loves their work, you can tell. I love massage, even if it’s not my main area of expertise.’

What is? She badly wanted to know, and the words almost tripped out of her again. Dammit. Come on, Brianna. What did she care about the massage boy’s hobbies? In fact, this was sure to be an angle, anyway. This guy was probably an actor or songwriter, hoping to butter her up for connections.

But he surprised her again, speaking as though their conversation wasn’t one-sided. ‘I’m actually trained across a few different natural therapies. I’m a qualified dietician, I’ve studied reflexology, and I’m a naturopath too. Massage was something I did to support myself when I was studying, and it’s still paying the bills now.’

Wow. She felt oddly inferior, something that didn’t often happen to her. She was proud of her career, but realistically her natural talent and inherited good looks weren’t something she’d earned or studied for. This was a guy who’d dedicated himself to his passion for years on end.

She shifted on the table, feeling so relaxed, she was almost boneless. With a lazy twist, she turned her head to look back at him, asking ‘why?’ with her expression.

He understood. ‘Why all the natural healing stuff? It fascinates me. It’s not that I don’t believe in modern medicine because I definitely do, but our bodies try so hard to keep us healthy, and sometimes just a few changes can shift someone’s entire life. Like you.’

Me? With her face back in the table hole, she frowned, her forehead pushing upwards against the towel surrounding her head.

One of your shoulders is higher than the other. Did you know that?’

She hated that flaw, the way her left shoulder seemed to always shrug upward slightly. But rather than whine about it, she’d made it work for her, turning that little shoulder shrug into her trademark photo pose.

It’s because you’re tight under here.’ Gareth’s hand slid below her armpit, digging through layers of skin and muscle until he found a tender spot.

He pressed in firmly and Briana squeaked, another unbidden sound Gareth had managed to elicit.

Just breathe, Briana. I’ve got you.’

If anyone else had done it, she would have furiously pulled away for causing her such intense pain, which was now streaking from her armpit to her fingers and radiating up her neck too. But something about Gareth gave her pause, allowed her to trust he knew what he was doing. She took a deep lungful of air and tried to melt into his ministrations.

After about ten painful seconds, something gave a dull pop under his fingers and she gasped in surprise as the ligaments around her shoulder released.

Try sitting up for a second,’ he said, backing away from the table.

Awkwardly, Briana levered herself up, keeping her towel clutched around her chest. She turned her head experimentally. Her shoulder felt … good, looser. She smiled at Gareth in gratitude.

And check this out.’ He moved close in front of her, and her senses came alive at his nearness. Gareth’s hands touched her shoulders as he said, ‘This side is lower now. It’s not perfect, but we can keep working on it while you’re here.’

Rolling her shoulders, Briana grinned widely. Her shoulder had been tight for years, since …

Her smile faded away as she put together the timeline. Since I fell out with my parents. She was seventeen, and suddenly on her own, dealing with everything by herself. Her shoulder had locked up one day and never let go.

As if following her thoughts, Gareth ran his finger down her bare arm before pressing gently on another sore place. ‘Sometimes our bodies hold onto stress in a very literal way. Places like this are often tight when we try to shoulder the weight of the world on our backs.’

Who are you? Briana felt her spirit shift, the darkness inside her relenting in the presence of this man who was so calm and deep. There was so much more to discover about him, she could sense it, and her soul clamored to dive into his depths and explore. Her mouth twitched, the questions poised to tumble out, so she clamped it shut.

His gaze was trained on her lips, and his face creased into empathy. ‘Brianna … everyone on this island has signed non-disclosure agreements. If you want to talk, ask me something, you can. You don’t have to be the mysterious, silent singer here. You can just be you.’

They’d drifted closer, Gareth stepping in, her leaning forward, their bodies near, the air heady around them. This moment. It was perfect. Perhaps for one night, she could just be a girl, taking a chance on a guy she liked.

Briana stood and pressed herself against him, only the towel separating her naked chest from his hands. ‘Gareth,’ she whispered, filled with a sense of rightness that he was the man to break her silence, that here in his arms, she could be someone else.

Swiftly, she angled her face up and closed the gap between their lips. Gareth’s eyes flew open, and the connection she felt between them was breathtaking.

Which was why she was even more shocked when he stumbled backwards and said loudly, ‘What are you doing?’

Flummoxed, Brianna shrugged, her left shoulder suddenly hitched high again. What do you think I’m doing?

His cheeks spotted with color, he moved to the other side of the table and began to collect up his things. With his eyes shuttered low, he said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, Ms Brite. I shouldn’t have let that happen.’

Let? Briana couldn’t have spoken if she wanted too. She’d been so sure their attraction had been mutual, and her face burned in mortification.

He seemed to realize his mistake, rambling, ‘I mean, of course I’d like to kiss you. You’re gorgeous, and I’m honored that you’d even want to.’

Then what’s the problem? She let out an exasperated tongue click.

He eased past her, taking obvious care not to touch her as he did so, and began to fold the table up. ‘I’m your massage therapist, and it wouldn’t be right for me to take advantage of you. Star Island has strict policies. Staff can’t have inappropriate contact with guests.’

Smiling sensuously, Briana sidled around the table and ran her fingers along his arm. I won’t tell if you don’t …

He pulled away. ‘Briana, I could lose my job.’

So? I’ll hire you. God, he was hands-down the best masseur she’d ever had. Mentally, she began drafting a contract for himdouble his current pay, take him on the road with her when she went on tour in six weeks. Easy.

But then he faced her, and there was torment in his expression. ‘I know it sounds like a cop out, but I need this job. It’s not just about the money.’

Please.’ She hadn’t meant to speak again, definitely never intended to beg; it just kind of happened. Feeling the situation slipping out of control, she threw her ego on the floor, and said, ‘Please. Stay.’

The moment grew long. Her body was still trembling from the after-shocks of his touch, and her heart was attempting to shield itself from these new, intense emotions. Slowly, Gareth lifted her hand to his mouth and he kissed her on her palmsomewhere she wasn’t sure she’d ever been kissed before. The unexpected gesture sent lust pooling between her already warm thighs and her knees buckled. ‘Gareth …’

I can’t. I’m sorry.’

With that, he twisted away, grabbed his table and bag, and disappeared out the door, leaving Briana in a haze of disbelief and desire.


31718 (1)Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

It wasn’t her fault…

Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.

It’s not his place…

Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.

It’s not meant to be…

However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?

Exclusive Excerpt: Falling Star

Gareth is a masseur on the luxurious Star Island. His next client is the enigmatic pop star, Briana Brite, known for her silent persona off-stage.

In his head, he pictured Briana Brite. He knew her image mostly from the smoky artwork on her indie album, a blonde beauty with a defiant jaw jut that seemed to project an image of quiet allure and confidence.

But there was something in her eyes. Hell, he was probably kidding himself, but he’d looked long and hard at Briana’s picture and with his talent for seeing below the surface he felt as though he could see past her image, down to the darker places inside that her music spoke of.

Speaking of speakinghow will we do this without talking? Gareth knocked on the ajar bungalow door, waiting in the tropical air just turning to dusk. Sometimes his clients preferred silence while he worked, but they always began with a few simple questions about pressure and injuries.

When no one answered, after a few minutes Gareth pushed the door open. ‘Hello?’

Still no response, but the door was open and he was expected, so he took it as tentative permission to enter. He followed the hall to the main living area of the bungalow, and the view took his breath away. Not the pink ocean reflecting the setting sun outside the windows, but the angel standing before him wearing nothing but a towel.

Her corn silk hair tumbled around her bare shoulders, which were dusted with tiny freckles. Her mouth parted into an alluring smile, which was quickly quashed by her teeth finding her lower lip and biting it. Delicate hands held the towel over her frame, but the material barely concealed the voluptuous body within. Instantly, Gareth knew she’d be warm and pliable to touch, her skin with heavenly give under his fingers, soft flesh ripe for gripping firmly.

She raised a hand and waved in greeting, a rosy blush rising in her high cheekbones, and the gesture went straight to his heart, shocking it into an unsteady rhythm. She was literally heart-stoppingly beautiful.

Oh no … Something was happening to him, something he’d sworn only minutes earlier never happened to him. Gareth shifted the table in front of his groin, attempting to disguise the bulge growing there. Get it together. You are a professional, and she’s a client. A gorgeous, captivating client, but still a client. Concentrating on not sounding like a squeaky-voiced teenager, he said, ‘Hey, I’m Gareth, your masseur.’

She smiled in reply but remained silent. Gareth spoke to fill the space where a normal interaction would have taken place. ‘And you’re Briana. So, now we’re introduced, I’ll set up. Where would you like me to put the table?’

With a languid wave, she gestured towards the windows. ‘Okay, great,’ said Gareth, walking forwards and trying to regain some of his professionalism while feeling distinctly shaken. ‘You’ll need to tie up your hairI have a tie if you need one?’

Shaking her head in dismissal, she left the room, and a waft of citrus followed her. She smelled of pink grapefruit and sugar, and the sensuous combination sent another sucker-punch to his crotch. With shaking hands, Gareth opened his table and unzipped his bag, drawing out a bottle of scented massage oil. He was warming it between his palms when Briana returned, her hair now secured in an adorable top-knot.

I’ll just go into the other room to give you a moment to lie on the table,’ said Gareth. Privacy for most clients was still important before and after a session, no matter how much skin he saw during.

With a cat-like grin, Brianna looked back at him over her tanned shoulder. Before he could turn away, she’d lowered the towel to the line of her lower back, and stretched herself along on the table face-down. A low, happy groan rolled out from her throat, as if she really needed this.

So help him, he did too. He needed to lay his hands on her; the pull towards her body was almost supernatural. He clung to his professionalism by his fingernails, remembering to ask, ‘Do you have any injuries or sore places I need to know about?’

Face down, Brianna shook her head, her hair knot flopping back and forth. Gareth paused for a moment, admiring the sight of Briana’s back, all that exposed skin ending where her plump ass cheeks swelled, covered by the towel. His passion for healing and helping had always made his job seem effortless, but for the first time, he walked towards a client feeling as though he was divinely privileged.

Turning her head to the side, Briana caught his eyes with hers and winked. The small gesture electrified him. He definitely wasn’t imagining the silent flirtatious tone here. A bright red buzzing had begun inside his head, warning of danger. He’d relied on that buzzing before, when clients had made innuendos about ‘extra services’ or in the case of one single client in her fifties, mistaken his professional care for personal touching and decided it meant they had a deep romantic connection.

Normally if he had even an inkling of strangeness, he would relate the Star Island code of conduct in a very casual manner while preparing to start: let me know if this pressure is good, would you like music on, as part of procedure I have to let you know all Star Island spa treatments are strictly non-sexual, would you like a complimentary reflexology hand treatment…?

It’s what he should have said, but he pushed the feeling down. This was Briana Brite, the biggest superstar in the music world. She’d made a career out of being desirable, unattainable; this was probably just her being her, and him taking it the wrong way because he was going on ten months without sex. Don’t embarrass yourself.

Okay, I’m going to begin now,’ he said formally. Inside his head though, he was babbling. Just a client. Just another client, he tried to convince himself one last time. He poured a generous handful of oil into his palm, watching his shaking fingers descend to her smooth back. I will not enjoy this. I will not get my kicks from feeling up a vulnerable client. She’s just like anyone else.

He truly believed it. And then his hands connected with Briana’s skin, and he was hopelessly, sinfully lost.


31718 (1)Sometimes it takes finding your heart to find your voice…

It wasn’t her fault…

Somehow a run-in with a handsy, but influential, talk show host has landed Briana Brite in big trouble with the press, and even though it was the host that wouldn’t take no for an answer, Briana finds herself banished until the scandal blows over.

It’s not his place…

Gareth might work for some of the richest people in the world, but his job as a masseur at the luxurious Star Island resort is just that – a job. And he really needs the money and the tips and the hours. Getting involved with resort guests is grounds for immediate dismissal, so the last thing Gareth needs is a troubled pop princess making waves.

It’s not meant to be…

However, when Gareth meets Briana, he realises that she’s more than just her voice, more than the media storm, more than even her management knows. But when it comes to his job and his livelihood, how much will he risk for a holiday fling?

Falling Star will be available on August 20th. Preorder now from your favourite
e-tailer: iBooks, Booktopia, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Nook, Kobo, Google

Feed Your Reader: Rural Suspense and a Trope Bundle

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Still waters run deep in Wongan Creek…

When spray drift ruins his crop and throws his ability to hold on to the family farm into question, Harley Baker wants to confront his neighbour and shout his rage and worry to the sky. But arguments are tricky when the woman whose herbicides killed his crop is also the woman he’s loved his whole life.

Tameka Chalmers knows that her father’s farming methods are outdated, inefficient, and even dangerous, so when Harley charges her with the loss of his livelihood, she can only accept the blame. There’s so much she would like to do differently, but her father’s rule is absolute and if she wants to keep working the farm she loves, she must do as she’s told.

But the simple action of speaking with Harley, the man she wants but can never have, starts an unexpected chain reaction of events that throw everything she’s ever known into question: her past, her family, her life. Dark secrets come to light and when Tameka is injured in a house fire, she and Harley have one small chance to seize a lifetime of happiness, if only they are able to rise from the ashes and claim it.

“An intriguing romantic suspense, Secrets at Wongan Creek is one I highly recommend.” – Brenda, Goodreads

“It’s easy to get lost in Juanita Kees’s take on the Australian rural communities.” – Dísir, Goodreads

“I truly enjoyed the characters, the Australian setting and the author’s writing.” – Jo Ann, Goodreads

Available now!

 

 

 


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Three full-length novels about those situations where you find yourself up close and personal…

What Love Sounds Like – Alissa Callen

Outback speech pathologist, Mia Windsor, believes her morning from hell is over. Then city-boy Kade Reid strides into her office and announces he and his wide-eyed niece are her new clients.

For Kade Reid, money is as important as breathing. But when he becomes an instant father to four-year-old Tilly, he escapes to the only place he was allowed to be a child…the family property of Berrilea.

As Mia and Kade work together to help Tilly overcome her speech delay, can they face their fears in order to give Tilly the family she so desperately needs?

Getting Real – Ainslie Paton

Rielle Mainline is a rock star with a hardcore image, a troubled heart, and a tour to front with her band, Ice Queen. She should be ecstatic. But the tour includes Sydney and Rielle has spent years running away from that city.

Jake Reed knows Rielle’s reputation as a prize bitch will make being Ice Queen’s tour manager a challenge, but Jake’s confident he can handle her — until he meets her. Sparks fly, tempers flare, and two loners are about to discover that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.

Loving The Prince – Nicole Murphy

Cassandra Wiltmore is the heir to the throne of Rica, but it’s unlikely she’ll be stepping up any time soon. So she spends her days managing and building the Rican Balcite Mining Company. When an unwelcome bid for the mining license is announced, and threats and thefts ensue, Cassandra is forced to hire a new protector. If only the best man for the job wasn’t also the best-looking man she’s ever seen.

Kernan Radaton has ambition, and as protector to Cassandra Wiltmore, he’s well placed to reach his goals. If only his new all-business boss didn’t make him think only of pleasure. Now is not the time for a distraction, but once everything is safe again, Kernan has new goals — ones that involve a lot of time spent getting to know his boss on a very personal level.

Available Now!

We’re at Conference!

RWA17_Banners_960x300_NoBorder

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – Romance Writers of Australia conference time! We’re all spending time with each other in Brisbane, and we’ll be back next week!

If you’d like to see what’s going on, you can follow Escape’s Twitter feed @escapepublisher or Managing Editor, Kate Cuthbert @katydidinoz or keep an eye on our Facebook page. The conference also has a hashtag: #rwaus17

See you there!

Friday Five: Amanda Knight

2796Author: Amanda Knight
First Published with Escape: April 2017
Favourite Romance Trope: I do love the redemption trope… can’t go past a good military/protector one either!
Ideal Hero: a man strong of mind and body, and who displays honour, integrity and loyalty in action and thoughts – he is a man of his word, knows what he will and won’t stand for, and doesn’t waver, unless it is to protect someone he loves. He has well developed EQ and IQ, and has a non-arrogant self-confidence. He is fiercely protective of those he loves, intensely passionate and if ever he can give his heart (I do love a bit of a tortured hero!) it will be deeply and a one time only thing! My perfect hero also loves a strong, smart woman who makes him want to be the best man he can (even if it takes him a while to realise it!) someone who can push his buttons, make him ask the hard questions of himself, and have him always want to get back to her when they’re apart… above and beyond anyone, and anywhere else.
Ideal Heroine: She is a strong, smart women who also has a vulnerable side (that isn’t evident at first.) There’s something about her that allows others to feel safe. My ideal Heroine isn’t perfect, but can hold her own amongst her peers (with men and women), but doesn’t see it as a male/female thing, simply a ‘person’ thing to be the best she can be. She doesn’t let anyone treat her any less than she deserves, no matter the circumstances. She holds people accountable for their actions, and also allows him to redeem their mistakes, with their dignity still intact. She’s gutsy without being reckless, and has the courage, the tenacity to do what needs to be done, even when she is terrified. She can say she’s sorry, and admit to her mistakes. She’s not afraid to be real.
Latest Book: Situation Critical

What came first: the plot or the characters? What did you find more difficult to write?

It’s always different for me… but for Situation Critical – a character came first! My initial inspiration was for Finnegan, and then, the skeleton of a plot came to life which in turn inspired Nate, then Beth and lastly my villain, Lawson. I find the plot points the most tricky to write, because I usually know my characters, and have an idea of where they’re going… it’s just figuring out the vehicle I am creating to get there, it sometimes doesn’t come to me as quickly as I’d like!

Where do you like to write? How do you write?

Where do I like to write… hmm, ideally, it would be in either a cabin in the mountains, where it is perennially winter, with an open fire and endless piping hot tea (during the day) and a good shiraz (in the evening!) OR in an Hampton-esque modest home with huge verandahs and luscious lounges, close to the ocean… also in winter with the beverage preferences as per the cabin! But seriously…

Writing Space (Amanda Knight)

I write in my office, at my desk (where I can close the door when the family are home) or at the dining table (big windows, lots of light) when there’s no one else around. I also write on the train heading into work (that’s usually scribbling ideas in my notebook), at the library when my home is just too busy for concentration, and sometimes, at my local café where the comings and goings become a little like white noise, that somehow helps me immerse in the words. Although, once, I had a fellow guest tap me on the shoulder, and ask if I was alright – I’d been writing a scene where my villain killed someone, and it seems my facial expressions whilst doing so were a little alarming! Perhaps public writing isn’t such a good plan?!

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there? And/or what is some of the best writing advice you have received?

My advice for aspiring authors: Keep. Going. Don’t. Stop. I keep this picture on my wall… (the two men digging in the diamond mine) because I have experienced the ‘almost there’ so many times before Situation Critical was accepted. If you want it bad enough, if you persevere, keep honing your craft… listen to feedback, continue to learn, work out how it all ‘works’ best for you, your voice, your circumstances, and do it all with respect and dignity for both yourself and those you’re working with… success will come. I truly believe that! Also, behave like a published author no matter where you are on your journey… be kind to people, build your networks, be gracious.

What drew you to contemporary romance?

What draws me to writing contemporary romance? In essence, I think it is the hope that romance inspires in the reader. I love the possibility, that we as writers, can maybe encourage someone to take that step, make that call, seek that help, follow that dream – and truly make a difference to their lives. I think as writers, we have the gift of being able to show that people can be in bad circumstances and still remain good souls. That people can overcome the most hideous adversities… that someone can be broken, bitter and incapable of giving or receiving love… but when the right person comes into their lives, anything is possible, and hearts and souls can mend… I believe that a deep and soul stirring love is the most glorious of feelings, and that kindness, and the gift of caring for another being, allowing them to be ‘good enough’ no matter how bruised and broken they appear at first, brings rewards that cannot be measured… and as writers, we have the wonderful opportunity to capture all of this, and share it, within the pages of a book.

What are your favourite books/authors to read (maybe pick 3)? Romance or otherwise? What draws you to those books?

I have quite an eclectic taste in books. I don’t actually have a distinct favourite genre… Outside of the works of my author friends, I’ve a number of books by Honey Brown, JT Ellison and Sandra Brown, as well as Diana Gabaldon, JR Ward, Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin… amongst SOOO many others. I have a very special place on my shelves for authors D’Arcy Niland, Ruth Park and Dymphna Cusack – Australian authors who greatly inspired me when I was younger, and first started writing seriously.

What draws me to a book? If I read a review or blurb that interests me, or have been recommended a book (and it generally interests me), I’ll give it a whirl (I am partial to investigating a book due to liking its cover too!) Once I’m inside the pages, I’ll keep reading if the characters weave their way into my heart, or have me asking questions I want to know the answers to, quickly. I also like to see evidence of the development potential of the character within the first chapter or two… especially the characters I want to dislike but can’t quite, yet. I love clever mystery/suspense/intrigue plots, with enough setting that I can hear, see, smell where I am. Sharp witty or heart-wrenching dialogue grabs me, as does triumph of the human spirit stories such as The Help, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Book Thief.

My favourite part of reading is immersing in other lives, moments, and sometimes, historical events… I love the notion (and believe to my core) that words change lives… even if it’s only momentarily… and when I read a book that captures me, the entire world outside the pages doesn’t exist… pure escapism!

So I read in your bio that you have some adorable pets… do they hinder or help you when you write?

Bonnie’s a constant, no drama, positive presence whenever I am writing… so good to have around! Definitely a ‘helper’ when I’m writing!

Vincent - superior and aloof (Amanda Knight)

As to my cat – well, he’s no Bonnie, but not really a hindrance! He’s a standoffish, super superior and very vocal Blue Point Ragdoll named Vincent… or as he’s known most of the time around here, Puddy. He’s not super snuggly or friendly, and mostly only hangs out with me if his belly or nature is calling! He will meow out a near sentence, with tone and intense stares if he needs feeding, or wants to be on the other side of whatever door he’s closest to! He rules Bonnie with a cat 1-2 slap and a ear flattened glare if she’s too overzealous when he’s deemed it a suitable activity to come out and hang with (near!) her. Interestingly though, when Bonnie was away a few days at the vet, he spent a lot of time walking in circles around her bed, and bowls, did a lot of meowing, and slept in her bed (actually, that’s a norm – poor dog sleeps on the floor, whilst the cat sprawls out in her bed!) – he was clearly missing her! Maybe he cares about others after all?!


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A taut debut novel about a wounded soldier, a courageous doctor, and a dog in desperate need of a rescue

Soldier, surgeon, traitor, dog…

When Sergeant Nate Calloway is carried into the field hospital with no memory of how he got there or where the other members of his unit are,  Australian army surgeon, Captain Beth Harper cares only about repairing his broken body. But it’s clear that something went terribly wrong on the other side of the wire, and as Nate slowly recovers, he becomes more and more anxious to return to duty, go back into the field, and rescue his friends, his unit, and the bomb detection dog that he loves.

The only way Nate can be released to active duty is if a doctor agrees to accompany him, and Beth surprises everyone by volunteering. Her role is to monitor Nate and take him right back to hospital the instant that his health deteriorates enough to put their rescue operation at risk. But as she stays close, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to his courage, his determination, and his commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Instead of a straightforward recovery, however, Nate and Beth soon realise they’ve stumbled on a tangled web of deceit and danger, and the enemy is no longer outside the wire. He is one of their own, a traitor, and he has them in his scope.

 

Feed Your Reader: Sports Menage

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She’s never been shy about what she wants – and now she wants them both…

Hannah Maynard, sports reporter, is sure it’s only her lust-filled fantasies linking Australian rugby league captain, Charlie Maxxin, with relative newcomer, Lyle Smythe-Jones. She and Charlie have shared quite a few steamy sessions over the years, so surely he’s not in a relationship with the young, unflappable player she’s dubbed Marble Boy?

Hannah lures Charlie to dinner and his reaction is all the answer she needs. But she doesn’t want to report on the biggest secret in Australian sport – she wants to take part. However, it’s not just Charlie’s decision and it can’t be just casual. If Hannah wants in, she has to be all in, with Lyle, with Charlie, and with the hottest action any of them have ever experienced.

“I’ve found book heaven!” – Lily, Goodreads

“I love Cate Ellink’s writing and this was such a hot, steamy read” – Evie, Goodreads

“Team Player is a HOT, sexy, no holds barred ménage, that will set the pages on fire and leave you breathless with unquenchable desire” – Karen, Goodreads

Available Now: iBooks, Booktopia, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Nook, Kobo, Google

Alyssa J Montgomery Uncovered

Tell us about your new release The Irredeemable Prince. How did it come into being? What was your Eureka! Moment?

Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor at Escape Publishing, spoke to me last August about building on the success of The Defiant Princess and writing a royalty series. The Irredeemable Prince is book 2 in the Royal Affairs series, The Formidable King will be book 3 and I’m currently working on the fourth book.

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The story actually grew from the idea I had from the heroine’s job. The reviewers on NetGalley and Goodreads have nearly all commented on the twists and turns in the plot and how events “blindsided” them “in a good way”. I’ve really tried to keep the plot fresh and unpredictable. It was interesting for me to write the story as I actually had some “AH! Really? Is that what happened?” moments myself as the plot suddenly took a turn that I hadn’t even seen coming until I was there writing it!

Can you give us a little tease of the relationships we should expect Prince Devereaux to have? Devereaux really isn’t in a position where he’s able to have a serious relationship, yet he’s drawn to the heroine anyway. Not only does he find her very physically attractive, but he also admires her spunk and professionalism. He’s used to women falling at his feet, and finds the heroine’s unwillingness to do so a definite challenge. Sorry to be cagey, but I really don’t want to say too much more!

What draws you to Prince Devereaux’s qualities as a hero?

He has a strong sense of family loyalty and a commitment to justice. He wants to protect those around him. He’s confident and doesn’t need to broadcast his achievements to the world. But, he’s also in a rut—focussing too hard on one goal and in danger of damaging his relationship with his brother in the pursuit of that goal and that’s where the heroine steps in and makes him re-evaluate his priorities.

What kind of heroine/s can we expect within the pages of The Irredeemable Prince?

She’s smart, determined, very capable professionally, very intuitive and more than capable of giving back everything she gets in a battle of wills. On a personal level, however, she’s been very disillusioned and that has shaken her confidence, especially her ability to trust her own judgement in a personal relationship arena.

What came first, the plot or the characters?

The characters.

What began your romance writing career?

One of my sisters and I started writing a romance together when I was home from university on summer break. We didn’t finish it, but she always encouraged me to write. It was when I had my first children (twins) that I started back into writing in earnest while I was on maternity leave from my speech pathology practice.

What draws you to the glamorous world of billionaires and royalty we see in your other books?

It is the glamour. Who wouldn’t want to have all the luxuries at their fingertips? However, it’s delving into the psyche of these characters and understanding that they’re “real” people with flaws and fears and insecurities that all their royal titles and billions of dollars can’t address. I’m drawn to “understanding” them and “helping” them to find love so they can work through their fears/insecurities or any baggage they have. Yes, I talk as though they are real people, and whilst I know they’re not, they do become very real in my mind.

What are your favourite books/authors to read? What draws you to those books?

My all time favourite author is Tom Clancy, but unfortunately his works are all so huge that I’ve only read one of his stories since I had my first children, as I’m a dreadfully undisciplined “have to finish the book” reader. I stayed up until 4.30am with the last Tom Clancy I bought, then had to function with twin babies the next day! Now, I favour quicker end-of-the-day reads. I love the humour in Julia Quinn’s regency books (also try Cassandra Samuels for regency humour!); and Harlequin author Julia James. Romance is a great genre where I’m guaranteed a HEA ending, and an escape from the manic pace of my day…and also from the heaviness of the day sometimes, as I work with some children in my private speech pathology practice who have very significant communication needs and that can be heavy going and sometimes heart-wrenching.

Where do you like to write? What is your process like?

I mainly write in my dedicated writing room. I snatch time whenever I can—sometimes it’s until the early hours of the morning. I don’t tend to sleep for long, so if I go to bed by 10.30pm, I’m usually awake by 3am and might start at the computer then. Process? That would be good! I’m all over the place. Sometimes I start with a clear character in mind, other times it’s a scene or it might be a trope I set out to write. Sometimes I plot, other times I sit down and just write and write…then I go back and look hard at the plot and do an analysis of each chapter…I wish I had a set routine, but I don’t.

Tigger under my desk photo - Alyssa

Tigger, under my writing desk

Can you give any advice to aspiring authors out there?

Know your characters well. Keep writing. Enter contests and read through the feedback (some will resonate with you and some won’t, but if you keep getting the same comments from judges/readers, then you need to strengthen those areas). Join RWA and a local group or the distance mentoring program, and go to as many workshops/conferences as you can. Look at your writing as a craft. I hope that each book I write, I improve. Be objective—your writing doesn’t define who you are, it’s just one small part of you, so don’t take critical comments to heart…learn from them, grasp them thankfully.

What is some of the best writing advice you have received?

From Melanie Milburne: The “Delete” key can be your friend!

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I still have three children (well two are now 18 and in their HSC year…so technically adults!) at home. I wanted most in life to find my soul mate and be a mum and I have been fortunate enough to be living the dream. Both my husband and I are very involved with our kids and all they do. Just this week, I’ve been up at a state cross-country carnival, will be at two netball carnivals, two netball training sessions and one club netball game, an athletics carnival and ferrying the youngest to swimming squad (thankfully the older two have their licences now and drive themselves!).

I’m a speech pathologist in private practice and I’ve attended a national conference in the last week in Sydney.

We live on five acres and there’s always gardening to do, animals that require attention twice a day, and I enjoy meeting with girlfriends for lunch at least once a term, and having friends over for dinner as often as possible.

Any quirky hobbies?

Nothing quirky. I enjoy tennis, gardening, snow-skiing, sailing and horse-riding. I’ve done quite a bit of international travelling with my family over the last ten years and I love experiencing different countries and cultures.

I hear you have quite a menagerie of animals at home? Do they help or hinder the writing process?

Bugsy at the front door! - Alyssa

We have two horses and a Shetland pony, almost 50 hens/roosters (although the population is decreasing thanks to a local fox as our poultry is free range during the day and they wander all over our 5 acres and up the road and into the neighbour’s paddocks, only returning to their houses at night to be locked up safely), four goats (we had to give a couple away as they were the ring leaders in getting the mob out and into the garden!), and our beloved dog Tigger, who will often keep me company in my writing room and puts up with my ecstatic happy hugs when I finish a story or have an idea that makes me really ecstatic!

the goats - Alyssa

We were horse-riding at a local beach recently and an off-leash dog attacked one of our horses and locked on to his chest. That was a horribly fraught and frightening episode and our poor horse required a lot of medical attention and daily injections for over a week afterwards, so things like that happen with animals and definitely hinder the writing process as I have to find more time in the day to deal with animal needs.

With our horses - Alyssa


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The ultimate royal bad boy is about to meet his match…

If one ever needs to find Prince Devereaux of Santaliana, one needs only look for the nearest newspaper: His Royal Highness is sure to be splashed across the scandal pages…

But enough is enough, and Prince Devereaux’s formidable brother King Gabriel is stepping in. No more night clubs, no more drinking, absolutely no more one-night-stands with up-and-coming models. Devereaux will step into his responsibilities, or he will be cut off.

For his own reasons, Devereaux submits to the stipulations that his brother sets out, even as he chafes at the restrictions. But the recalcitrant prince is about to find out that self-improvement can be surprisingly seductive..

Available now!

Exclusive Excerpt 2: Team Player

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She’s never been shy about what she wants – and now she wants them both…

‘They’re going to want to know about grandkids, if I know Mum.’ Lyle doesn’t sound happy. I thought he’d be the one keen to discuss everything. He’s the one who usually brings this shit up.

‘Tell them nothing.’ Charlie’s even less happy.

‘That’s not going to help,’ I point out. ‘We have to give them some kind of an answer.’

‘Like what?’ Charlie rests his chin on my head. ‘How can we answer something we don’t know?’

‘We say something like, “At the moment we aren’t ready for kids but unconventional families are pretty much the norm now days, so I’m sure we’ll work something out.” Would that work?’

Charlie’s nod is gentle and felt through my scalp. Lyle looks at me intently. ‘That’s good, Hannah. You’re good at this.’

‘I’ve had all day to think about it.’

Each must be lost in their thoughts because no one says anything for a long time.

‘We should sleep,’ I say softly. ‘You guys have to be rested before you go.’

Charlie hums but doesn’t stir. Lyle, frowning, looks at us both. ‘We need to have this talk tomorrow, otherwise it’ll hang over us.’

I nod. ‘I’ll talk to Irene and Lauren first thing.’

‘Should we?’ Lyle asks quietly.

‘If I organise it, neither of you will be cornered by your mother.’

‘I’m voting that Han’s our spokesman.’ Charlie, the big scaredy cat, is quick to agree with me.

Lyle nods. ‘I’m in complete agreement.’

I’m having a bit of trouble coping with the role reversal. I’m usually the one running from relationships and families and feelings. Who’d have thought I’d be doing this?

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