Q&A with Lily Malone – in which she only answers one question

Q: So, Lily, why did you write a romance with a heroine who has a dodgy vagina?

  • Because I enjoy flushing pink as my beanie whenever I’m asked this question, that’s why!
  • Because I always wanted my mother (who has read Fairway To Heaven) to study me over her glasses and say: “is everything really alright with you, Love? You know… down below?”
  • Oh heck, because I like an author research challenge as much as the next writer!
  • Because I wanted to write a heroine with a sexual physical disability, and make this as natural in a romantic context as I could.
  • Because I wanted to raise awareness about Lichen Sclerosus as a women’s health issue, AND because auto-immune diseases/illness of all kinds SUCK!
  • Because one of the romance books I best remember reading about 20 years ago featured a heroine with huge breasts, (and not in a good way). I cannot remember the title of the book but the heroine played violin or bass brilliantly and was only comfortable when playing the instrument (because it hid her breasts). The story was as much about the romance between the H&H as it was about the heroine’s personal journey toward eventual breast-reduction surgery and a happier, healthier life. This resonated with me and still does! Too many perfect heroines, or heroines given token issues as character ‘flaws’.
  • Because a friend in my mother’s group dared me to do it.
  • Because it felt like a good idea at the time.
  • Because I was interested in pushing the boundaries of ‘realistic’ contemporary romance, to see how readers responded and to see where this would go.
  • Because I really want to write a heroine or hero (or both) who have genital herpes. DO YOU THINK THE ROMANCE WORLD IS READY FOR THIS??

Long live Jennifer Gates’ and her dodgy fanny. Loud and Proud!

23729It’s going to take more than summer loving to heal old wounds, but a remote beach, old friendships and a bit of sunshine might just spark a second chance at love.

When Jennifer Gates drives to Sea Breeze Golf Club to kick off date-night with her boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to find Golf Pro Jack giving one of his lady students a private—and very personal—lesson in bunker-play.

Lucky for Jenn, her best friend gives her the keys to the Culhane family’s beach shack on the white-pepper shores of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay. Jenn hopes a weekend on the coast with her young son will give her the space she needs to rebuild her confidence after Jack’s betrayal.

But she’s not the only person seeking sanctuary by the sea. Brayden Culhane is there too, and Jenn can’t look at Brayden without remembering the tequila-flavoured kiss they shared on the shack steps years ago.

As long-buried feelings are rekindled, and a friendship is renewed, Jenn knows it is more than lazy summer days bringing her mojo back. Romantic sunsets, ice-cold beers and the odd round of golf can only go so far, because this time trusting Brayden with her heart won’t be enough. Jenn has to learn to trust her body, too.

The Geek is the New Taciturn Man

Taciturn: Disinclined to talk

Synonyms: Close-mouthed, dumb, laconic, reserved, reticent, silent, tight-lipped, uncommunicative

Antonyms: Blabby, chatty, communicative, conversational, gabby, garrulous, loquacious, motor-mouthed, mouthy, talkative, talky, unreserved

Taciturn Man: The Lone Ranger, Batman, any character played by John Wayne, Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen.Taciturn

Picture this: Only the cleaners are left, there’s the distant drone of the vacuum, and the stale smell, part musty paper, part body odour that’s left when the air-conditioning turns off. Office after office goes dark, but his cubicle is brightly lit and he’s only dimly aware in the recesses of his lizard brain, that he’ll soon be alone. It’s nothing new.

On his desk are a dozen tiny, intricate sculptures made from twisted paper clips, half of a schnitzel sandwich, an empty bottle of OJ, and a cup of coffee he made when he got in and never took a sip of. Hunger, thirst, daylight deprivation, social ostracism, none of it matters. The only thing that matters are the codes that stream across his screen.

The codes are everything. His past, his future, his present. The reason he’s here now, borrowing company equipment under cover of ‘working back’. The reason he doesn’t have a girlfriend or any inclination to get one. They’d be a nuisance, demanding time, his most precious of assets.

He doesn’t hear her when she speaks, but he figures she probably did before she tapped him on the shoulder. The fact he rockets out of his chair and almost knocks her over in the process is a dead give-away he wasn’t really in his body. He was the code.

“You’re last one here again,” she says.

A statement of the obvious, but she seems to want a response. She’s smiling. Far-out, she wants to chat. She’s cute, soft looking, like a toy. Works in accounts somewhere over, yeah somewhere. They’ve had this conversation before. He turns his back on her and sits, puts his hands on the keyboard.

She’s still there.

“You need to get a life, Mace.”

How does she know his name? He has no idea what hers is. She’s going to think he’s bloody rude.

“Don’t you have a home to go to?”

“Just busy.” He wonders if she can hear the rust in his voice. He barely spoke to anyone today. No need.

“On what?”

Shit. “Just stuff.” There was no way she could tell the stuff was his own, not work’s, but how come she couldn’t tell he wasn’t up for a chat. Like ever. She was a babe, so what did she want to chat to him for anyway? Didn’t she have a life to go to?

“Okay, well. See you tomorrow.”

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

He goes back to the code, to the mistress, to the time thief, to the dream. He’s a geek. He’s a man of few words. But not in his head, in his head are a thousand conversations and absolutely no need to turn them into actual spoken words.

Talk is over-rated.

And people who can manufacture conversation from nothing, from an empty office and the last bloke on deck, are freaking scary.

Picture the man whose fingers rattle the alphabet, whose eyes see distant digital frontiers. Who’d be light-headed from hunger if he let himself remember he’d hardly eaten all day.

This is Mace, he’s a taciturn man. It’s not that he can’t string words together; it’s that mostly he sees no need to. There are plenty of other people to do the gasbagging.

It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have thoughts to share; it’s that he wouldn’t know who to share them with, why anyone would care to listen.

But he’s not afraid to talk about the things he loves to the people he cares about. Though it’s not a natural thing like breathing, like blinking, he has to be reminded to do it. That’s another reason why girlfriends, yeah. No, not happening.

The world is full of taciturn men. The strong silent types. They rode in on horses and saved the day. They were nice to kittens and old people and tough on bad guys. They got the girl and they never had to try. They loved that girl because they were loyal and really, they spent the rest of their lives near doubled over in gratitude wondering what the hell the girl saw in them.

But there are no horses any more, and girls like to do their own getting.

Now taciturn men ride in on spreadsheets and hunch over keyboards, they wrangle data and round up algorithms. They create new worlds from their desktops and they don’t think of themselves as heroic. They think people who can make small talk and like going to parties are the brave ones.

It’s hard to get to know a taciturn man. He doesn’t give like other more extroverted men do. Doesn’t make it easy. His smile is never quite ready in time. He’s mysterious or aloof or brooding bordering on angry. He’s awkward and maybe he blushes if you catch him out with a simple question, like, ‘what did you do on the weekend?’

But if you’re patient and he lets you in, oh if he lets you in, you get everything; the passion and humour, the tight focus, the unwavering attention and appreciation and the fact he might just change the world.

Geeks are the new taciturn men, and the taciturn man has the heart of an adventurer, the devotion of a saint and the sex appeal of ambition.

Insecure is the story of a taciturn man with an appetite for risk and a woman whose career heights depend on her ability to persuade.

Do your own getting and spend some page time with a geek.

You’ll want to chat him up after hours when the office is quiet and dark too.

23706The worst thing a man can do is not be with the woman he loves.

She could have him sacked quicker than licking her lips. He could ruin her reputation with an email.

Jacinta was the CEO in waiting. Mace was the geek from IT. She had an office suite on the top floor. He worked in cubicle hell.

She had power, influence, her life mapped out. He had big dreams, and an appetite for risk.

They had one hot night written all over them, except the city conspired to turn that night into a weekend of unexpected passion and deep connection.

Will love be enough when Jacinta’s star falls and Mace’s dream takes flight, or will ambition, expectation and insecurity pull them apart?

Putting Heart Into Romance Writing

by Anna Clifton and reblogged with permission from Book Muster Down Under

I’m reading a crime novel at the moment. It’s well written, it’s racy and I’m enjoying it. But am I ‘feeling’ it? Not one bit.
I can’t relate to the main protagonist as though he’s a living, breathing life force. I don’t care if he’s happy or sad from one page to the next. But does this ‘not caring’ thing matter in the crime genre? Probably not. I’m enjoying the mystery and the intrigue. Would it matter if this protagonist was starring in a romance novel? Absolutely it would.
It’s not by accident that readers read romance novels. They’ve got their noses in those pages for a reason. They’re looking for that special something that they know the romance genre will offer them. But what is that magic ingredient that’s won the hearts of around twenty-nine million readers worldwide?
In a recent post in The New Yorker Joshua Rothman wrote, ‘We connect with books in an intellectual way, but the most valuable relationships we have with them are emotional’*. For me as a reader, that’s where romance fiction packs that emotional punch. I care about the characters I meet there. In fact, give me an emotional love story that has touch points for my heart and it will stay with me forever. I’m guessing that most romance readers feel just as I do.
So. Note-to-self: when writing my next romance novel, inject lots of emotion.
Easy. Right?
Well, not exactly.
It sounds easy. Unfortunately, it’s not easy at all. In fact, it’s damn hard – one of the hardest things a romance novelist faces. But why is it so hard to get readers to care about your characters and feel what’s happening on the page? And why is it so important that they do?
As I prepared this post I tried to remember a scene in a book I’d read where I’d sweated and fretted over a character and the predicament they’d found themselves in. One scene in particular kept flooding back into my mind. And one line in particular:
‘In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.’
For those of you who’ve read Pride and Prejudice you might recognize Mr Darcy’s explosively unexpected declaration of love to Lizzy Bennet. Being both ‘handsome’ and ‘rich’ you might also think that in the rough and tumble of the eighteenth century marriage game Lizzy would have jumped at the proposal of marriage that follows? Alas, no. Her response to Mr Darcy’s proposal is scathing given that she and her entire village decided he was ‘proud and disagreeable’ the moment he arrived at the Meryton ball.
                                ** See below for copyright licensing information and
So how do readers feel about the proud and disagreeable Darcy in this proposal scene? I know how I felt but do other readers share Lizzy’s intense dislike of him? Do they believe that he deserves to be rejected as brutally as she rejects him?
You might think so, given that Austen has handed out painfully few cues about Darcy’s motives towards Lizzy up to this point. Yet strangely, I’m pretty sure most readers are unwilling to hate-on Darcy with the same enthusiasm as Lizzy does.
Jane Austen had a fierce faith in her readers’ emotional intelligence. She had faith that by the time they reached the proposal scene – with the help of just a smattering of cues – readers would already be feeling Darcy’s powerful attachment to Lizzy. She had faith that they were feeling that beyond the village gossip Darcy might be far from all-bad. She even had faith that they were feeling that he and Lizzy might actually be made for each other.
The genius of Austen is that she never ‘tells’ her readers what they should think or feel. What she does is give her readers the freedom to take ownership of the relationships they’re forming with her characters. Because of the fledgling bonds readers have already begun to build with Darcy – all on their own – this proposal scene is harrowing, even if we’re not yet quite sure why.
The temptation for romance writers to regularly ‘newsflash’ to readers how they should feel about their characters is powerfully compelling. Why? Because we’re utterly petrified that readers and reviewers will hate our characters if we don’t.
The problem with newsflashing is that readers of romance fiction want to experience the thrill of life-like relationships within the relaxation of their reading world. And in real life, relationships are not born out of newsflash moments, they’re forged within step-by-step journeys of discovery, connection, understanding and growth. To feel what’s going on a reader must experience this same slow thrill around a character’s journey too, just as I experienced Darcy’s. And although mapping out a cracking itinerary for the journey is essential, it’s not a writer’s job to frog-march readers to their ultimate destinations.
So, once a writer has mustered up the courage to let their readers run free within the world of their characters, is that it? Will that be enough to entangle their characters with the hearts and minds of their readers in a way that will endure beyond the last pages of the story?
Once again I’m reminded of another creative genius. Not an eighteenth century English novelist but a cultural icon of the twentieth century American film industry.
Walt Disney was a trailblazer. No doubt about it. He discovered that if human qualities and everyday predicaments were kept front and centre of his movies then his creative choices were limitless. Not only could he animate his films, his main characters could be talking animals!
The film, Bambi, is a great example. Can anyone relate to being an animated baby deer?
Not likely. Does it matter? Clearly not. I cried buckets when Bambi’s mother was shot and he was left to fend for himself in the wilds of the forest. But I wasn’t crying about a deer. I was crying about the gift of motherhood and the grief and vulnerability of a child who had lost that gift forever.
Romance fiction is no different to cinema. No matter who or what the main characters are, whether eighteenth century aristocrats or modern day captains of industry, their predicaments and motives must actually touch a reader’s life in some way. If they don’t, the reader won’t feel what’s happening to the characters. Whether it’s grief, joy, loneliness, jubilation, or any of the other emotional roller coasters we ride, readers must feel these being played out in a gripping and inspirational way on the pages before them.
Not every book will touch a reader’s life. No writer has discovered a one-size-fits-all recipe for that yet. But for writers who care about forging a dynamic and emotional relationship between their readers and their characters, committing to a unique journey of discovery within their story and then putting their heart and soul into its resolution is vital.
After the release of my third book, New Year’s Promise, a reader wrote to let me know how much she’d enjoyed and appreciated Justin and Ellie’s story. But what she also said was that she’d cried her way through the scene when Justin’s brother, Sam, makes his final goodbye to Ellie. The reason it had moved her, she said, was because she’d experienced something similar to that despair-hope moment that Ellie experiences on that snowy Paris street.
Did all of my readers relate to this scene in that way? I know they didn’t. The reason I know is because I was never going to reach every reader with Ellie and Justin’s story. But what I did want to do was reach my readers, with a story that was emotional and meaningful for them as individuals, as though each one of them was the only reader I had written it for.
So what is the magic ingredient within the romance genre that’s won the hearts of around twenty-nine million readers worldwide?
I’d be willing to put money on the fact that it’s the exhilarating and emotional journeys it offers its readers. But what the genre also offers, like no other, is a chance for readers to ride-up-front on those emotional journeys. They may not be in the driver’s seat, but they’re indisputably a vital and dynamic part of the journey as they enjoy the wind in their hair, the company of exciting if challenging new friends in the backseat, and the building anticipation of the destination that awaits them all.
(*Joshua Rothman (February 2, 2015) ‘The History of “Loving” to Read’. The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/history-loving-read
**’Pride and Prejudice’ by Apostolos Letov available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/21596348@N05/2093445334 under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode)

22580They’ve been colleagues, allies and best friends forever, but he wants more — and he’s not above using the magic of the Christmas season to get it.

When Business Development Executive Ellie Halligan is offered the job of a lifetime in Paris, it seems her chance to live a fairytale adventure has finally arrived. Her only hurdle is convincing legal eagle Justin Murphy — her boss and friend since childhood — to wave his boss’s wand and waive her four-week resignation period so that she can start her adventure by Christmas.

But Justin proves to be a demanding fairy godmother. He’ll let her go early, but not unless she spends time with him over the festive season up until New Year.

Ellie doesn’t know what to do. Is Justin finally looking at her romantically after all these years, or are far more threatening dynamics at play? Justin has a secret, and he seems to want to pull her back into a past she’d rather forget. But delving into that old pain might be the only way to move forward — and for Justin to finally be free.

Will doing this for Justin become Ellie’s final gift of love as she loses him forever?

From February, With Love!

New titles! For you! Today!

23485Take off with this dynamic, thrill-seeking, sexy New Adult science fiction series debut. Welcome to the exclusive Apollo Academy, where Aurora is about to discover that achieving her dream is only the first step towards her future. 

“I am obsessed with this book! Suspenseful, sexy, and just a great read!” -Cora Carmack

23302Their chance at love was lost in the harsh light of day. Is the romance of the majestic Snowy Mountains enough to heal the wounds of the past so that they get a second chance at a future?

23486From best-selling Australian historical romance author Tea Cooper comes a fresh story set on the high seas: only one woman can confirm his innocence, and release him from the torments of his past.

The Drive to Connect

by Juliet Madison

I wanted to do a different type of blog post for Valentines Day this year, and after being inspired by a couple of articles I read online recently (which I’ll share below), I thought I would write about the one thing that united them – the need for human connection.

pink-heart-1-1252468-mOn Valentines Day people think about romantic connection, but I challenge you to also think beyond that, to think about love in all its forms; love for oneself, for other people, and life itself.

Connecting with people is what makes the world go around, our lives are intertwined on a daily basis with those of others, but just how many of those people do you truly connect with? How often do you take the time to delve deeper, to get to know them, to put aside the obligatory small talk and ask questions that really matter? Not only that, but to listen to the answers with genuine interest and understanding?

There is safety in small talk, safety in staying in our comfort zones and not taking risks. But through making an effort to connect, you may just open up a whole new world of possibilities for any area of your life, be it professional or personal.

Life is short. Make connections, and make them count.

~ One of the articles I found interesting was about addiction, and what its likely cause is. Of course there is a physical, biochemical basis for addiction where the body becomes accustomed to something and makes the person keep wanting it, but what studies have found is that both the likelihood of becoming addicted and the success of recovery rely a lot on human bonding, love, and connection. Those with a healthier social environment and happier state of mind are more likely to beat the addiction. But pushing those who are addicted aside, cutting them off, isolating them, is only exacerbating the disconnection fuelling the addiction. What they need is the opposite – human bonding, connection, and unconditional love. And, I believe, this includes a strong sense of identity and connection with themselves, and self love. You can read the article by Johann Hari about how disconnection drives addiction, here.

So with the high prevalence of addiction in society, there is no better time to understand the importance of human connection. It is the glue that holds society together, it is what we as humans all crave whether we want to admit it or not, it is what matters most in life – feeling like we belong, like we are bonded and supported in life, and experiencing the joy and purpose that comes from this.

~ The other article that caught my attention was in the New York Times, and was fascinating and fun to read. The title, To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This by Mandy Len Catron, makes it sound like a lighthearted novelty, but if you read right through to the end you’ll see the depth and beauty of what it is discussing. It talks about a series of 36 questions that have succeeded in making some people fall in love with each other, by bypassing all the usual small talk and getting right to the nitty gritty, exposing vulnerabilities and allowing people to open up to really being ‘seen’ by another. You can read the list of questions yourself to see what it’s all about, or read the full article here.

I think that these questions could be used by anyone, with anyone; friends, family, colleagues, lovers… to connect more deeply with them and create a stronger bond.

It is all about emotional intimacy, or as one of my favourite authors, Neale Donald Walsch calls it: IntoMeSee.

The article on the 36 questions emphasises that love is an action. It is a feeling, a knowing, yes, but it is also an action. Love not acted on will simply exist in a sort of limbo, and the questions used in this study are an example of how a sort of ‘love-based momentum’ can be established which may potentially allow love to blossom. But if it doesn’t, at least not in romantic form, then I believe that each person will at least come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the other, a greater bond and connection, and that is a great thing.

~ The need for human connection and the value of establishing bonds with others is one of the reasons I love writing fiction that celebrates people’s lives and relationships. We can relate to reading about others who are or have been in similar situations, and it is rewarding to see characters overcome obstacles and challenges to reach a greater sense of wellbeing or ‘happy ending’. It connects us with a sense of hope in our own lives, and although the story may not be true, the emotion behind it is. Fiction can be both an escape from and a reflection of real life, and ironically, one of the most effective ways to hold a mirror up to life and express its truths.

So, to make a connection any day of the year, I challenge you to make an effort to connect more with others and spread the love around! 

  • Smile at a stranger. :)
  • Talk to someone in the street or at a shop (and not about the weather).
  • Ask a friend what they’re looking forward to over the next year.
  • Do an anonymous act of kindness.
  • Give someone flowers, not just on Valentines day, but any day – just because.
  • Write a letter to someone you care about . An actual letter. With paper and pen.
  • Send your loved one a text message when you’re not with them, just to say ‘I’m thinking about you’.
  • Tell people what you appreciate about them. Don’t let compliments go unspoken.
  • Tell someone how they’ve inspired you.
  • Hug your friends and family. Human touch is vital to wellbeing.
  • Shout someone a coffee, sit down with them, and listen attentively as they talk.
  • Email an author whose book you’ve enjoyed (hint hint!). ;)
  • Call someone for a chat, and ask thoughtful questions.
  • Ask an older person to tell you a story about their youth.
  • Read out loud to someone you love.
  • Write a poem for someone special.
  • And if you’re brave enough to try the 36 questions with someone, go for it!


Juliet xx

23698A new Tarrin’s Bay novel from best-selling author Juliet Madison. She took a break from real life,  and found what she didn’t know she was looking for.

Emma had plans, travel plans, going-far-away plans, but her family means everything to her, so when they needed help, she was there to deliver it. Running the family business of beachside cabins in Tarrin’s Bay might not be the same as the French Riviera, but Emma finds a certain level of peace in the beautiful setting and small town community.

But when she finds that her ex-boyfriend, a man she left behind without explanation, staying in one of the cabins, her peace is ruined. She knows the only way to get it back is to share the secret she’s been hiding for five years, and admit to him the limitations that she now carries. But James has his own truths to share, and he’s not the man that Emma once knew.

They are both in very different places than before, but it’s a time for renewal and second chances when their reunion brings secrets to the surface, dreams to be remembered, and the realisation that they are both in need of a little miracle.

Secret Confessions: Meet Willow

A dreamy earth-child, this housewife believes she can change the world through love and compassion (and that dragons still exist). She is serene and self-assured, but sometimes lacks in confidence. Underneath the sweet girl demeanor is a naughty girl who is just waiting to escape.

Meet Willow. She’s available today.

SLAH_Willow_Final (1)Can’t get enough?

The Housewives Lounge – excerpts, behind the scenes details, chatter.

Which Housewife Are You? - take the quiz and find out!

Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives – meet the other housewives, pre-order, links.

And don’t miss out on the amazing competition AusRomToday is running – five copies of each Housewife Title to win, and a fantastic, Sydney-focused major prize!

Three Books, Two Murders

by Lee Christine

I realized something the other day. I’ve only killed off two characters in my series, quite a low body count considering the novels are set around a fictitious Sydney law firm and feature two rival bikie gangs, the New South Wales gang squad and the Australian military.

Thinking about this, it’s not that I can’t bear to part with my characters, or that I have an aversion to writing graphic violence, it’s just that I find the lesser crimes a more realistic fit when weaving together the threads of a romantic mystery. And statistics show, at least in Australia, the likelihood of being murdered by someone unknown to you is very low. There’s a far greater risk of falling victim to a cyber-attack, carjacking, robbery, blackmail or extortion.

These types of crimes, when committed against the hero or heroine, are perfect for providing the characters with a common goal. That goal may be a race against the clock to prevent an internet crime, or a plan to escape from someone holding them hostage, or working together to uncover a blackmailer. The looming threat of danger heightens the senses, makes time the essence and forces the hero and heroine into a situation where they have to rely on one another, even trust each other with their lives. Hopefully, the escalating sense of danger will keep the reader on tenterhooks and turning the pages well into the night.

My latest release, In Safe Keeping, is a romantic legal thriller featuring a hero and heroine with a massive conflict of interest, a brash detective from the Sydney Gang Squad and an underlying mystery involving the Australian military. In Safe Keeping is the third novel in my loosely linked series. It features characters from the first two books but can be read as a standalone.

Check them out if you like your romance laced with a shot of ‘Grisham’.

lee christine

Secret Confessions: Willow – Exclusive Excerpt!

22813She wriggled back into the plump cushions and crossed her ankles. The brandy caused a warm glow to slide through her blood and pool between her thighs. She sighed and shifted, but if anything that just made things worse.

She stretched her arms over her head and linked her fingers together before she was tempted to do anything else with them. She’d save that for later, when she was alone in her own bed and she could fantasise about Seb without fear of him catching her. The hum of cicadas drifted on the warm breeze and Willow closed her eyes and breathed in the scent of lemon from the nearby eucalypts. She didn’t know how long she lay there before a warning prickle of awareness skated over her bare arms. She looked up and Seb stood at the foot of the daybed, watching her.

Her fingers froze in the process of stroking her erect nipple through her dress. How long had he been watching her? When had her hands moved? How long had she been playing with herself? She waited for a wave of mortification to crash through her, but instead scorching lust quivered through her wet pussy.

Shit. She was in trouble. “You perv,” she accused but her voice sounded smoky, as though she was inviting him to join in. Double shit. Brandy had never affected her good sense like this before.

He crawled onto the daybed, his thighs cradling her hips, and planted his fists either side of her shoulders. He was going to kiss her. She wanted him to kiss her. Her lips parted and breath stalled. It was a bad idea, the worst in the world, but she didn’t care.

His dark eyes hypnotised her. His subtle cologne intoxicated her. Her tummy fluttered and nipples ached and then he spoke.

“I need you upstairs.”

You can find out what happens next in our extended excerpt, over at  the Housewives Lounge.

To find out more about the #SydneyWives series, click here.

You can also take our Which Housewife are You Quiz (Kate, our Managing Editor, is a Meagan)

Willow is available for pre-order now. The story releases 5 February 2015.

From the hottest writers in Australia comes a scintillating new series. Enter the world of Sydney’s elite, and find out what goes on behind the doors of the most exclusive addresses in the country…

Meet the Housewives of Sydney. They are wealthy, elegant, poised, and constantly in the public eye. But what goes on behind closed doors, in the private homes and parties where the cameras and paparazzi aren’t welcome? Delve into the most personal details of their relationships, their friendships and their lives. The only question is: can you handle the heat?

Willow has loved Seb for as long as she can remember, but he has a past that she can’t handle, so she’s never done anything about it. But to not have him in her life is unthinkable, so  she holds on to him the only way she can – through friendship. Now his writing career is taking off, and Willow finds herself increasingly jealous of his groupies and increasingly unable to keep her feelings to herself.

An unexpected visit leads to an unanticipated kiss – and Seb and Willow end up in her bed. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Willow, but can she trust that Seb wants more than a bit of afternoon delight – and can she trust herself to let go of the past in order to gain a future?

The Love Triangle: Three Players, Two Winners, and One Loser

by Jacquie Underdown

Romance books all have one thing in common—a happy ending. That’s why we love to read romance, because we can devote our time and emotions to the characters, and know we will be rewarded in the end for our efforts.

A much loved romance trope, re-popularised by such books as the Twilight Series and The Hunger Games, is the love triangle. A love triangle is basically a romantic relationship that has three people invested in the outcome. cherry JU1At first glance, a love triangle seems kinda contradictory to the whole happily-ever-after guarantee the romance genre has going. Fraught with peril you might say. How can there possibly be a happy ending when three people are invested in the outcome of a relationship, yet there can only be two winners? In other words, in the end, there is a big, miserable, loser. Doesn’t sound too happy to me. 

Well (I say as I laugh with a wicked grin), that’s where the author comes in to play. The author’s job is to weave a story line that will make a reader believe a love triangle is not immoral and icky, but, in fact, sexy as hell.JU2And that a third player creates plenty of sexual tension and suspense. Will she, won’t she, will he, will…they?love triangle, two young men and young woman on the beach at sun What? Wait. Where did this sexy, shirtless guy come from?JU4You get my point. Where there’s a love triangle, there’s bound to a surprise or two.

But, when we are dealing with something as fragile as a heart, a love triangle can be dangerous. There’s the possibility the reader will hate every player involved, because on some level, there will be untruths (even if the character is only lying to themselves about their true emotions). Even some behind-the-back shenanigans. How does an author make you fall in love with each of the characters, regardless of their flaws and circumstances? And how does an author leave a reader feeling emotionally satisfied, when one of the characters will have their heart broken?JU5The answer to that is multi-faceted and too involved to go into here. I explore it a bit in my latest novel, Unstitched, which happens to contain an absolute doozy of a love triangle.

Do you like love triangles, or is it something that turns you off?

23484A new adult story about what happens when you meet the perfect guy at the worst possible time.

Anthea has loved him since her earliest memory, but she has no idea who he is, or if he even exists. But her heart belongs to him, and no one else can ever take his place. That is until she stumbles into Lucas, lead singer of Perennial. He is sexy as hell, passionate, and, most importantly, knows the answers to questions that Anthea has always had.

Lucas knows he is different from other guys – but Anthea is different to other girls. He is drawn to her, craves her, needs her. He also has secrets, secrets that will tear Anthea apart. He needs to share them, but to share them could end their relationship, and Lucas isn’t willing to take that risk. But secrets have a way of coming out, and Lucas can’t stay forever.

Theirs is a passion that is meant to last forever, but time isn’t always quite so linear…

Lovely Reads for a Love-ly Holiday

Looking for a little art-imitates-life action this weekend? We have two Valentine’s day short reads that are sure to put you in the mood for love! Take an hour to love yourself this weekend, and enjoy some happy-ever-after.

8882She’s done with the dating scene. He wants a lifetime of Valentine’s Dates.

Brent had his chance to be Valentine’s date and he blew it. But loving his best friend’s little sister from afar isn’t working. When she calls him in tears Brent’s only choice is to come to her rescue. And now that he’s got her safe in his arms he’s going to make sure she stays there.

It doesn’t matter how much Vee tries to convince herself her feelings for Brent were destroyed years ago. He is still the first person she calls when she needs help. Breaking down in his arms wasn’t part of the plan. Neither was kissing him.

Forced to face their past, Brent and Vee must forgive each other – and themselves – if there’s any hope for the love still burning between them.

19914A beautiful love letter to the most troublesome of holidays…

Soft-hearted Reese Ahearn is single for Valentine’s Day. Again. But that’s not going to stop her from spreading the holiday’s sentiment on the streets of Melbourne with short, sweet, anonymous love letters, left for strangers to find.

The last thing she expects, however, is a reply…