My book setting: the Seychelles

by Elsa Winckler

Touched to the Heart is the first story in a series about the four very sexy (of course) South African hotel-tycoon Cavallo brothers. They own and run boutique hotels in South Africa and the Seychelles.

About fifteen years ago my father, who always entered every possible competition he found in a newspaper, won a boat trip. The very sad part of the story is that he already had cancer and was too weak to go, and he gave the two tickets to me so that my husband and I could enjoy this lovely prize. This was our very first trip anywhere outside the borders of South Africa, and we were so excited.

FullSizeRenderIt was a magical experience. Days were spent lazing around the pool or exploring whatever island we stopped at. And we ate—four meals every day, and there were tea-time croissants in case you became hungry!

One of the most miraculous things we experienced was the intense blue colour of the deep ocean—nowhere else on earth do you find a blue in exactly that hue. Fifteen years later I can still close my eyes and see the indigo blue of deep waters.

We reached the Seychelles about halfway through our trip. At the time it wasn’t as developed as it is nowadays but the islands, the friendly people and the breathtaking scenery stole our hearts.

The 115 Seychelles islands fall under two distinct groups. The tall granite Inner Islands cluster mainly within the relatively shallow plateau of the Seychelles, while the Outer Islands lie mainly beyond the plateau up to 10 degrees south of the equator, and are divided into five groups.

little-island-1495587The Seychelles is home to no less than two Unesco World Heritage sites: the legendary Vallée de Mai on Praslin, where the wondrously shaped coco-de-mer nut grows high on ancient palms, and the fabled Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll, first seen by early Arab seafarers of the 9th century AD.

The biggest island, Mahé, boasts the popular white powder beach of Beau Vallon. But then all the beaches are beautiful. Again, the shades of blue iridescent waters simply stop your heart.

So when I started my story and had to decide where the brothers would have their hotels, the first place I thought of was the Seychelles, and in particular the lovely island of Mahé. A more romantic setting is difficult to find.

This is where the brothers have one of their hotels, it’s where Caitlin rushes when her sister needs her help, and it’s where she and Don finally tie the knot. It’s difficult not to think about romance when you think of the islands—the setting is ridiculously romantic!

On my bucket list is one more visit to these magnificent islands.


Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

December Recipe: Chicken!

by Elsa Winckler

A recipe for what I call the Chicken dish

  • 100 mil extra virgin oil
  • 150 ml plain white flour
  • 60 ml paprika
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 free-range chicken, portioned
  • 20 small baby onions, peeled
  • 2 green peppers, grilled, peeled and pitted
  • 2 gloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 ripe tomatoes peeled and pitted (or canned – not the same, but works if you’re in a hurry)
  • 50 ml salted buter
  • 20 small fresh mushrooms
  • fresh parsley and basmati rice

Heat the oil in a casserole.

Mix flour, paprika and seasoning – cover chicken with mixture. Brown the pieces.

Add baby onions

Cut green peppers in strips and add.

Add garlic

Cut tomatoes in strips – catch all the juices and add.

Add enough water for the dish to simmer.

While the chicken is cooking (should take about an hour), melt butter in a pan, allow it to brown and add mushrooms. Fry until they have caramelised.

When serving, pour mushrooms over dish, add parsley and same with basmati rice.


This recipe concludes our month of delicious treats – we hope that you got a few laughs, some inspiration, and more than a few delicious new treats to try!


Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

Happy Ever Afters

 by Elsa Winckler

I love books and I love reading. I still have fond memories of the library in the little town of Upington where I grew up. I remember walking through the library, just touching the covers, smelling the books – it always made me happy. Books transported me to places I’ve never been and, at the time, places I thought I’d never see.

But I’ve always had a problem – I like happy endings. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that most books don’t have those. So I got into the habit of turning the pages right to the end (I know, terrible) to find out whether the two were kissing or at least holding hands. Only then would I take it home, secure in the knowledge that whatever trials and tribulations these two would have, they’d ended up together!

During my studies I read all the classics – Dickens, Jane Austen, Mrs Gaskell, the Brontë sisters, Henry James, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy. I loved the latter’s Far from the madding crowd but Jude, the obscure left me depressed for months. In short – I loved the books with happy endings but didn’t enjoy the never-ending sad, sad stories! I read James Joyce’s Ulysses and had the privilege to study the book under Prof Michiel Heyns, nowadays a renowned South African author, but I can’t use the word ‘enjoy’ to describe the way I felt after reading the book.

This had me thinking – how absolutely lovely would it be if you could walk into a bookshop where you would only find books with happy endings? You wouldn’t have to worry that you’d pick a book that would end where someone walks away or, horror of horrors – dies! To my romance-loving, happy-ever-after disposition this sounded very close to Heaven.

So when I was thinking about writing my first English romance (I also write in Afrikaans) this idea simply wouldn’t let go and I started on Love, in writing. That’s why the heroine in my story, Margaret Parker, ended up as a romance writer who owns a bookshop with the name, Happy Ever After, written in pink letters, no less where you’ll only find books with happy endings!

She met Graham Connelly, a hardcore, cynical science fiction author in a lift and sparks fly …

And I discovered that the thrill of determining how two opposites manage to find their way to a happy-ever-after is even more exciting when the story literary unfolds under your fingertips!

19575A hardcore Science Fiction writer and a soft-hearted romance novelist clash on the sunny South African coast…

Margaret Parker is a hopeless romantic whose fantasies fuel her writing. For Graham Connelly, science fiction is the perfect genre to express his cynical world view. A chance meeting in a lift leaves them both interested and aroused — with no clue as to the other’s identity.

Margaret has been looking for a face to match her new fictional hero — and Graham’s is it. Graham has been looking for proof that innocence and optimism still exist — and he’s found it in Margaret. But fantasy isn’t reality, and both Margaret and Graham are used to controlling their fictional worlds. Can they step off the pages long enough to find their own happy-ever-after?

Five Places to Bring a Date in Hermanus, South Africa

By Elsa Winckler

Caitlin, the heroine of Touched to the Heart, lives and works in Hermanus, South Africa. Don inherited a house from an uncle and he visits Caitlin’s physiotherapy rooms there.

Way back when, Hermanus used to be a small fishing village, but over the last few of decades, it has morphed into a bustling town, bursting at the seams over weekends and holidays.

Fortunately, some things haven’t been changed and when I thought of possible dates Don could take Caitlin on, I came up with these few things I think any heroine would enjoy:

  1. Take her to see the Old HarbourOld Harbour Hermanus
  2. Dating in September? Take her to meet the whales!
    Whale Hermanus
  3. Go for a leisurely lunch to one of the many wine farms in the Hemel and Aarde Valley (Heaven and Earth).
    Hemel and Aarde Valley
  4. For the more active date, take her hiking in the Fernkloof Mountains – a magical place
    Fernkloof Hermanus
  5. Take her to watch the waves at Kwaaiwater (angry water), but don’t expect much conversation – the waves are enormous and the sound deafening.
    Kwaaiwater Hermanus

Want to see where Don and Caitlin go? Check out Touched to the Heart, available now!

21470Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.

While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers — hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.

Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.

They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire.

Brr…it’s cold in here – Must be some July Releases in the atmosphere!

Guaranteed to generate some heat on those long, cold, winter nights 🙂

21489From best-selling author Amy Andrews comes a fabulous, funny, flirty new single-title romance about putting pleasure before business, and the risks we all need to take when we find someone worth risking everything for.

21471Lisa Ireland takes a city girl country in her debut novel: when a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, local grazier Luke is the last person who wants to notice…

21473Escape releases its first short story anthology this month, an erotic collection with a spirited twist from Elizabeth Dunk. Follow the journey of four remarkable women — Luisa, Anna, Cara, and Jan — and the four spirits that set them on a new path to sexual freedom and boundless pleasure.

21474From Escape Publishing’s Queen of historical Australian romance, Téa Cooper,  comes an adventurous new story about a privileged member of Australian’s colonial squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.

21470Discover beautiful South Africa (and a very handsome set of brothers!) in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

21488The second in the fresh, exciting, romantic fantasy Shroud trilogy takes up where Tearing the Shroud leaves off — with the lives, the loves, and the mythical world beyond the veil (also 80s music).

21472NM Harris makes her debut with Escape this month with a sizzling, sexy, surprisingly sweet short story about a special anniversary. Traditionally, leather is an anniversary gift. One couple is about to take that in a very non-traditional way…