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 It’s unpublished, which is probably for the best.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.

My daughter had her first kiss this week

by Kate

She’ll be two at the end of the month. It happened at the major shopping centre nearby, on the Batman merry-go-round near the food court.

My daughter is a gearhead at the moment – if it goes vroom! she’s obsessed with it. The Batman merry-go-round is a must-go destination, and the highlight of any shopping trip. It has three Batman vehicles: the Batcycle, the Batboat, and, of course, the Batmobile. No dummy, my daughter is all about the Batmobile.

When we arrived, however, there was another child already there. He was beautiful: coffee skin, midnight eyes, eyelashes to die for, maybe 3 years old. And he was in the Batmobile.

We’ve been working hard on the concept of sharing in my house, so this was a perfect time to put it into play. We explained that the other child had been there first, and that she must wait her turn. She reluctantly attempted the Batcycle, but her heart wasn’t really in it. She knew her wheels, and she wasn’t going to settle for second best. So she stood beside the car and waited.

Eventually our hero got the hint and got out, gesturing her in. My daughter didn’t think twice, and was in the car faster than the Joker could crack a quip. Then, very slowly, very softly, the little boy leaned over and kissed her full on the mouth. It lasted half a second, and neither seemed overly affected. She turned away and proceeded to steer the hell out of the car, and he went back to his parents who were clearly freaking out that we would start freaking out.

We didn’t. In all honesty, I got a little misty. There was something so beautiful in the innocence of the gesture, a purity that our culture with all its in-your-face sexuality has lost. The magic of first kisses is an over-played tune in teen rom-coms, and in romance novels, they’re often just a prelude for the big event, a spark to ignite a flame of lust. Rarely do characters kiss each other for the full joy of connecting to someone else, without expectations or distractions – internal or external. We’ve lost the magic of affection under the weight of desire.

So I’m really pleased that my daughter had this moment, even if she’ll only ever know it through my memories. There’ll be nothing like it again in her life.

After all, what more can a woman ask for than a man who would give up the Batmobile for her – and steal a gentle kiss?

If it’s beta it’s better

by Kate

So I know we’re all supposed to be about the chest-beating, heavy-browed, foot-stomping, my-way-or-the-high-way, dominating alpha male, and, you know, I like a good caveman scene as much as the next girl, but there’s something I’ve been missing in the deluge of virility – the beta male. The quiet hero. The Oh-shucks-that’s-just-my-best-friend-until-he’s-something-more hero.

In my heart of heart’s that’s the hero I love. The one who sits in the back of the room and watches everyone, always with good humour and correct manners, whose strength and power lie in the fact that no one notices that he’s strong and powerful.

Yeah, that guy.

You know the one. You’ve met him in Jane Austen when Emma realises that Mr Knightley is worth a thousand Mr Churchills. You fell in love with him as Edmund Bertrum alongside Fanny Price even before he was played by the oh-so-adorable Jonny Lee Miller. You tune in to watch him weekly as he cajoles and charms his way around the New York City Homicide division, never once getting in the way of Kate Beckett but never quite getting out of her way either.

Beta heroes aren’t given a whole lot of credit. After all, theirs is not a flashy love. There’s no overwhelming of emotion, no raging arguments followed by raging sex. Often, they have loved the heroine from afar for years, but instead of crowding her, forcing her hand, pushing her into a relationship, they wait until she realises her own feelings, recognises the chemistry, and comes to them of her own volition.

There’s a depth to the beta hero that the alpha hero eschews. The beta loves deeply and thoroughly. He wants a partnership, a connection, and he’s not prepared to accept anything else.

And above all else, the beta hero has humour. Amusement often dances at the corner of his eye. He knows how to tease the heroine out of her bad mood, to see the lighter side, to find the silver lining. It’s his armour and his sword, and he wields it with the skill of one who has been doing so for decades. Because he’s been hurt, our beta male. He knows that he is not the one who gets the attention, that he is doomed to the sidekick role for all his alpha friends.

But that’s okay. The beta hero doesn’t need to be the centre of attention. He just needs to be the centre of one very special woman’s heart.

Some of my favourites:

  • Colin Bridgerton, Romancing Mr Bridgerton, Julia Quinn
  • Matthew, Untouched, Anna Campbell
  • Avery Thorne, My Dearest Enemy, Connie Brockway
  • Peeta, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
  • Rupert Carsington, Mr Impossible, Loretta Chase
  • and, of course, Gideon, The Perfect Rake, Anne Gracie

I stillllll haven’t founddd what I’m looking for…

by Kate

(with apologies to U2)

We’ve been live for a week! It’s hard to believe – it feels both much, much longer and as if no time has passed whatsoever. But I’ve got manuscripts in my inbox, and I’m looking forward to making my first acquisition calls this week. So if you’ve submitted, hold on to your hats!

One of the questions I’m getting a lot is, ‘what are you looking for?’. My answer has been, is, and will (probably) always be, ‘everything’. As long as it’s romance. This digital medium opens up so many doors for publishers and authors alike, and we don’t necessarily have the same risks and overheads as traditional print publishers, which means that we don’t have to follow the market to protect ourselves – we can drive it.

So the sky is the limit – honestly

However, since you asked, I will give you a little list of things that float my personal boat. This list is by no means comprehensive, and we’re definitely interested in – let me say it again – everything. But, you know, if I had a personal wish list, I’d love to read these types of stories:

  • Aussie-set romances
  • Aussie-set historicals (with or without convicts)
  • Historicals set outside the regency, or outside the ballrooms
  • Romantic suspense with crimes other than homicide
  • Science Fiction Romance – particularly strong character-driven SF
  • Adult dystopian romance without paranormal elements
  • Holiday themed romance outside of Christmas – Solstice, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Australia day
  • Non-traditional characters

As always, if you have any questions, you can post it here, catch us on Twitter, send me an email at, or check out the rest of the website!