December Gift Guide: Adventure Readers!

by Kate Loveday


Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

For me, this book has everything – suspense, action, intrigue, emotion and romance. Nick Lawson is the man we can all sigh over, handsome, sexy, tough as nails and soft as butter. Elly Wilding is lovely, smart, independent, but vulnerable.

Put them together and you have an excellent book as a gift for the cousin who travels a lot and likes to read in the plane.

28837If you, too, are looking for intrigue and romance, may we suggest Kate’s novel, Black Mountain, which features a botanist heroine who has discovered a plant with miraculous properties – and the people who will do anything to steal it from her…

The story of my book: Black Mountain

by Kate Loveday

It can be strange, the way a story comes into being. Take my novel Black Mountain. Ever since Peter and I spent time ‘on the road’ playing hooky from real life as we enjoyed the carefree life of gypsies wandering Australia, and came across Black Mountain, I’ve known I would use it as the setting for a story.

This spooky mountain is in far northern Queensland, on the Mulligan Highway, 25 kilometres south of Cooktown.

bm4Black Mountain, known as Kalkajaka, ‘the place of the spear’, is avoided by the Aboriginal people, who believe it’s a site of supernatural events. According to geologists, this huge rock formation was formed from solidified magma millions of years ago.

But it’s the stories told about it that makes it such a compelling and eerie place—stories of disappearances of people and animals who ventured into the Black Mountain. There have been many verified cases of people, horses and even herds of cattle disappearing within its many tunnels, caves and chasms, never to be seen again.  Local police and trackers looking for the missing have also vanished. These stories, along with reports of strange turbulences and magnetic disturbances that have been reported by pilots, have all given Black Mountain the nickname ‘mountain of death’.

I knew I couldn’t resist the lure of writing about it, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when, quite by accident, Peter related a strange story from his youth of a planned weekend jaunt that went awry, that I found the basis for the story.

A foursome of young people, two men, two girls, arranged to fly to another city for a short break.

However, one of the party (let’s call him Jackson) didn’t turn up for the flight, but kept sending messages with reasons for his ‘delay’ and urging the others to go ahead, promising to join them later. Which he never did.

Jackson had helped plan the trip, and told his friends he was a Qantas pilot. After the weekend his girlfriend (I called her Elly) made enquiries, and found that he was unknown at Qantas, and she never heard from him again. No reason was ever found for his deception.

But surely fiction could create a reason. I decided to try.

Could it be that Jackson wanted Elly out of the way? And if so—why? Could it be because he wanted something in her home? Such as a prescription for a very special formulation? Maybe containing a rare ingredient? One that would need searching for.

As a beauty/natural therapist I have long been interested in the therapeutic and beautifying effects of herbs and essential oils, often using them on my clients. There is always speculation in the industry that one day there will be a ‘silver bullet’—someone will discover the ‘fountain of youth’, a product to banish forever the wrinkles of maturity! Probably it could be found by experimenting with nature’s gifts, plants. But not your everyday garden-variety plant—something rare.

Where to find such a plant? What better place than in the Daintree rain forest, home to the greatest concentration of rare plant species anywhere in the world?

As I turned over these ideas in my mind the story began to take shape!

In the novel Elly discovers that her late father’s journal, which contains his almost completed formula for his ‘fountain of youth’, is missing (taken by the missing Jackson?) and she decides to try and re-create the formula. For this she needs to find the missing plant.

But to find a single plant in the rainforest is a huge undertaking, one which Elly could not accomplish on her own. She would need help. Enter Mitchell. Strong, capable and resourceful—as well as handsome.

 Commercially, the ‘fountain of youth’ would be worth potentially millions of dollars to its creator. And where there’s big money, there are predators. Elly and Mitchell learn that someone else is searching for the plant—someone who will stop at nothing to find it. And as their hunt takes them to the sinister Black Mountain, they find themselves in a race against an unknown enemy.

In the steamy heat of the tropical jungle, as Elly and Mitchell struggle against the challenges before them, I had to determine if the growing attraction between them would ever become more than friendship. And for that I had to wait until my characters told me how their story would end!

Black Mountain is available for pre-order now, and will be released on June 25.


An adventure set in the Australian rainforest, where the race is on to discover a precious plant — and an even rarer kind of attraction.

My book setting: Black Mountain

by Kate Loveday

A few years ago my husband Peter I took an extended caravan holiday. We began by exploring the east coast, working our way up from the south to the north. When we reached far north Queensland we fell in love with the area, and spent much time there.

bm1We based ourselves at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on the other. It’s a glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the beach is long, and the azure sea and the sky seem almost to merge.

bm2From here we visited the unique Daintree rainforest, beautiful in its wildness, hot and humid, criss-crossed with trails made by the (usually!) unseen wildlife, and home to many primitive plants found nowhere else.

We visited the huge plateau of the Tablelands, went up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown. It was while we were returning from a visit to Cooktown via the Bloomfield track that we stumbled across Black Mountain. We planned to stop at the Lion’s Den, an old Australian pub, for lunch.

But before we reached it we were startled by the appearance of a colossal, blackened mountain, strewn around with a jumble of enormous boulders that looked more like something that was dumped there by a giant, rather than a natural formation. Rising up from the wilderness, it was an eerie sight and stood in stark contrast to the green sea of forest around it.

We left the vehicle and walked gingerly over the smaller boulders that fringe the side of the road. It is a spooky place, and I felt sinister vibes all around as I stood gazing in awe.

bm4I saw it would be a marvellous setting for a story.

My research has revealed many tales of people who have ventured into its depths and never been seen again. Even a herd of cattle once strayed into its awesome depths and disappeared! I knew then it was where Elly and Mitchell would be forced to go in their search for the rare plant they needed for Elly to fulfil her late father’s dream to produce the ‘fountain of youth’, the skin care every woman wants.

As they search together in the tropical heat of the rainforest, an attraction grows between them. But Elly is pining for her missing friend, Jackson – isn’t she? And Mitchell still loves his schooldays sweetheart – doesn’t he?


An adventure set in the Australian rainforest, where the race is on to discover a precious plant — and an even rarer kind of attraction.

In Defence of Romance!

by Kate Loveday

Romance novels often come in for unfair criticism, being variously described as ‘trashy’, ‘trivial’, ‘naive’ or even plain ‘stupid’—and unrealistic.

What the critics don’t take into account is that these stories, as with all works of fiction, depict a slice of life as it can happen. So do mysteries, thrillers and adventure yarns, to name a few. We don’t hear these works scoffed at—and romances are certainly more true to life than science fiction, for example.

A romance novel focuses on the emotional involvement between two people; there are novels that focus solely on the relationship, and there are others that have another darn good story interwoven with the romance. In fact, many books are dubbed ‘romance’ incorrectly. The Romance Writers of Australia gives the following definitions:

  • A ‘romance’ is a book where the romance itself is the main plot and the romance resolves happily or optimistically.
  • A ‘romantic novel’ has romance as an integral part of the plot but other areas of focus as well.
  • A ‘love story’ revolves around a romantic relationship but need not end happily.

The Oxford dictionary defines romance as ‘a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love’. Is that such a bad thing to read about?

And if we like to read a story that has a happy ending—is that a bad thing? Surely there’s enough unhappiness in the world without reading a fictional account of it! And if it brings readers a hope that maybe their relationship will end happily too, is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

Barna W. Donovan, PhD, an expert on fan behaviour, and professor in the Department of Communication and Media Culture at Saint Peter’s University, New Jersey, has this to say about criticism of romance novels: ‘It implies that female pleasures are somehow inferior and art created expressly for women is somehow less worthy of respect.’

Weren’t those sort of ideas supposed to be outdated years ago? Could it be that the critics of this genre are wary of emotional involvement themselves, and therefore find it confronting to read, and dismiss it with disdain as being unworthy of their attention?

I am happy and proud to be known as a writer of ‘romance’ and ‘romantic novels’. Inheritance, available now, and Black Mountain, scheduled for release in June , are both ‘romantic novels’.

We all need hope and happiness in our lives, so whether you like romance, romantic novels or love stories, keep reading…and enjoying.

Summertime Blues

As we enjoy the last days of the Australian summer, Kate Loveday writes about a hot Adelaide day and conjures up a scene we all know well. Sorry if you’re stuck in the office today!

It is hot. Blisteringly, scorchingly hot, with the mercury hovering just below the forty degree Celsius mark. The sun blazes in a clear, blue sky, and all I can think of is the ocean nearby. That wonderful cool, clear water.

I don my swimsuit, a tee, sandals. Splosh on sunscreen, pick up a hat, sunnies, towel, bottle of water, and toss it all into the beach bag. Drive five minutes to the beach and find a park close by.

The water beckons enticingly. Aqua blue, calm, with just a gentle ripple. The sand at the edge of the water glistens in the sun as a wavelet surges gently up onto the shore, before receding lazily to recoup its spent energy. I am amazed to see so few people on the beach and in the water. Plenty of room for many more.

I tumble from the car and cross the hot pavement onto the sand. Trudge through the soft sand. The red-hot sand infiltrates my sandals and my feet burn. Now I know what it’s like to walk over hot coals.

Reaching the strip of hard, wet sand above the water line I shed the sandals and the damp sand cools my feet. I drop the bag. Off with the tee, I head into the water and wade in.


The cool water caresses my legs. Little fish swim only feet from the shore, where ridges in the sandy bottom dig into my feet. Ouch! But they are soon left behind for the smooth, sandy ocean floor.

I’m in waist deep and the water feels cold. There’s only one thing to do—dive under and swim. After the heat, the cold water is sheer bliss! I come up with a gasp, shake my head and push the hair back from my face.

I look around. There are a few other souls in the water nearby. Teenagers splashing, diving and horsing around. A few children on paddle boards. A group of three women a little way off, chest deep, hats on, bobbing down deeper now and then as they hold an animated conversation.

A couple of serious swimmers further out are practising their strokes.

I look down. The water is so clear I can see the shape of my toenails, and the occasional pebble on the sandy bottom. A lone strand of seaweed drifts by. But mainly it’s just clear, rejuvenating water. I swim a bit, do a few stretches and kicks, float lazily. The heat is forgotten.

Ah! This is what I missed so much when I lived in other places—South Australia’s long stretches of sheltered, white, sandy beach. Not crowded. Usually calm enough to actually swim in.

What, no surf? you say. No, if you want surf, go further down the coast. For me, I like to swim, float, cool off. Forget the heat.

This is Adelaide in the summer.


About Reading

by Kate Loveday

Reading enriches our lives. I once heard a man say proudly, “I haven’t read a book since I left school.” I felt sorry for him, for he had missed out on one of the simplest, most easily achievable experiences in life – something that not only gives hours of enjoyment but also helps to broaden our outlook on life.

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t read, even as a child I can remember reading everything I could lay my hands on. I must admit I can’t remember having been read to as a child, and, as one among a family of seven, my mother probably hadn’t time for such activities. But someone must have read to me at sometime, for I can remember starting school and having an elementary knowledge of letters and being able to read the simple primers that were in the first grade.

The things we read as children have a way of shaping our actions as we grow into adulthood, and I credit the National Geographic magazine for forming my insatiable desire for travel. My father was a reader and we always had the Readers Digest and National Geographic magazines in the house, which I devoured. An article in the National Geographic on the Great Barrier Reef, complete with colour photos, made a lasting impression on me and I grew up with a strong desire to visit and experience its wonders for myself. I kept that magazine for many years, but I was in my twenties before I finally made a visit to Cairns. I was so excited, still seeing those beautiful colour plates in my mind’s eye, and was horribly disappointed to find that the Crown of Thorns starfish had eaten most of the coral that year, leaving only bare, grey skeletons. It took many years for the reef to recover, and another yet before I was able to fulfil my dream to see it, snorkelling in the beautiful clear waters of the Outer reef on a day that I will never forget. But it had stayed with me for more than half my lifetime, by which time I had been fortunate enough to be able to visit many of the places I had read about as a child in my Dad’s magazines.

Of course I read novels too, going the full gamut of adventure stories at school (ah! how I worshipped Sydney Carlton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities –so noble in his sacrifice!) Regency romances as a teen, along with mysteries (I read every Agatha Christie published) and through the old authors like Jane Austen, Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, and Leon Uris.

I have also dipped into English history with Jean Plaidy and into Australia’s early days with that old but wonderful series ‘The Australians’ by Vivian Stuart Long , and explored our Colonial days with Patricia Shaw.

And so to our present day Australian authors such as Kate Grenville, Judy Nunn, Peter Watt, Colleen McCullough, Fiona McIntosh and Kerry Greenwood, to name but a few. Great storytellers, all.

Of course, as well as fiction, libraries and the internet are full of books about every subject under the sun. Whatever you want to read, it’s all there for you, the product of some writer who dedicated their talent and part of their life to putting their knowledge or artistry into words for you. My life is richer because of them, and I thank them all for the hours of pleasure they have given me and their insights into life.

When my children were young, a bedtime story was mandatory, and something I enjoyed as much as they did. It was a special way of bonding, and they all grew up as inveterate readers. Now I have two grand-daughters and bedtime stories are part of their bedtime ritual too. If I am visiting at bedtime, it gives me pleasure to take part. Now they have access to their IPads and can enjoy stories via the wonder of ebooks, reading for themselves. But I am still happy when the youngest brings me a book and asks, “Read me a story, Nanna.”

I am sure they will grow up with the love of reading that is passed down from one generation of family to the next. Whether we read printed books or enjoy our stories on an e-reader or tablet doesn’t matter. It is the reading, that transporting us into a different life for a few hours, to view life from different perspectives, that is so enriching.

19722An Australian rural romance about an unexpected inheritance that sends a city girl down deep into the country…

When Cassie Taylor inherits Yallandoo, a cattle station near Cairns in Far North Queensland, she is shocked. What does she know about running cattle? But the property has been in her family for generations, and Cassie is not a quitter. She leaves behind her Sydney life and heads to the station, determined to make a go of it.

But a long drought and falling prices mean challenges Cassie doesn’t expect. To save her heritage, she’s going to have to come up with some new ideas — and fast. Then the threatening letters start to arrive.

Someone doesn’t want Cassie to succeed, and they’re willing to go to any lengths to stop her…