Celebrate (Wiccan) Good Times

by Leisl Leighton

I have always been fascinated with modern religious holidays like Christmas and Easter and how they got to be the way they are. Why on earth do we decorate a pine tree to celebrate the birth of Christ? Why is Christmas in December when historians know Christ was born in the Spring, not in Winter? And why would we have a rabbit leaving eggs to celebrate a man’s death?

It was always so weird – wonderful and interesting, but weird. As I got older, I discovered the reason was because many of our own holidays actually borrow elements from other religious pantheons, most particularly from pagan festivals which are now celebrated by Wiccans and Witches.

For instance, Midwinter, or Yule takes place on the 21st-23rd December. Marking the last month of the old year and the first month of the new (from the lunar calendar), Yule was a time of sacrifices, feasting and gift giving in the northern hemisphere.

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People decorated their homes with ever-greenery – holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew, pine – often featuring red winter berries. (Sound familiar? The only thing missing is a jolly fat white-bearded man wearing a red and white outfit – thanks Coca Cola!) Yule was a very important festival, a turning point of the yearly cycle, a reversal of the sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, symbolising the rebirth of the solar god and presaging the return of the fertile season.

Historians posit that the Christians appropriated this holiday for their own celebrations, due to similar themes of birth and hope they wished to focus on (not to mention supplementing the Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which occurred around the same time and was a regular orgy of food, drink and flesh – and a completely different story for another blog!)

Easter also takes much of what it is from the Pagan festival of Ostara or Oestra (sounds a lot like Easter, right?) Ostara is the Vernal Equinox running from the 19th-22nd March. It gains its name from the fertility goddess, Ostara, the Eastern Star.

The festival itself inaugurates the new year on the Zodiacal calendar and is the point at which the day becomes longer than the night in the northern hemisphere.

It is a time of rebirth – hence why it celebrates the goddess of fertility! Given eggs are a symbol of fertility, it became the custom to decorate them in celebration and as a kind of hopeful prayer for the new year. That’s why we give eggs at Easter time – although the chocolate thing is an entirely modern twist that most of us find indulgently delicious.

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In regards to the bunny rabbit who delivers eggs (something we all know rabbits don’t do), the Goddess Ostara is associated with fecund symbols, most especially the hare (we all know the phrase ‘going at it like rabbits’) and the egg. So, this is why we have a rabbit delivering eggs. Cool hey?

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And then there’s Halloween. A bastardised version of ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ or All Saints Day, it was a reference to the eve of Samhain, a sabbat festival, considered to be one of the four Great Sabbats.

It’s a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. It is often considered a festival of darkness, balanced at the opposite point of the Wheel of the Year by Beltane which is the festival of light and fertility.

Wiccans believe that at Samhain, the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest, making it easier to communicate with the departed, the strongest time at midnight on Samhain Eve. It became tradition during the middle ages for people to go ‘mumming’ or ‘a-souling’ on the night before Samhain. They’d dress up and pretend to be spirits of the departed, roaming from door to door offering prayers for the dead. They were offered sweet cakes and fruits in exchange for this ‘mumming’.

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Of course, in modern times, candy companies and costume makers jumped on this tradition (after trying to start up their own ‘Sweets Day’ in the USA earlier in the month but failing to get traction) and the homemade treats and costumes became horror dress ups for candy. Trick or Treat anyone?

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While I enjoy the modern versions, I love the histories of these ancient festivals, the rich traditions which are still payed homage to by thriving Wiccan communities across the world. It was this fascination that led me to include these festivals, the ties to the power of the earth, to rebirth, to changes, death and the power beyond the veil, into my Pack Bound Series. I hope the thread of ancient mystery mixed with my own imagination helps to bring my world of Were, Shifters, Witches and Wiccans to life for readers as much as they have for me.


33095One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined…

Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch-kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand-new world.

But the Darkness was not destroyed.

Skye Collins has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control—and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon the Darkness intended her to become all along.

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Reasons Spec Fic Romance is for you – a list

by Annabelle McInnes

Speculative fiction fosters more than just a thirst for the fantastical. It can create an environment that explores societal norms, exposes and dissects flaws in our society and asks the hard questions about our morals, our values, and our impact. Ultimately, speculative fiction can create a narrative around the best and the worst of humanity.

When you combine the highlights of Spec-fic with romance tropes, you have the opportunity not only explore thought-provoking concepts, but also how these environments influence the nuances of relationships, love, family and community. This takes us into wild and wonderful world of Spec-fic Romance (SFR) where the endless possibilities of this exciting sub-genre are ahead of you.

But you need a little more convincing? I’ve put tougher the top ten reasons you should start reading Spec-fic Romance.

  1. Spec-fic Romance asks the big questions

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As a genre, Speculative fiction asks the question ‘what if?’. It’s a fundamental element to the plot and can drive the narrative and the direction of the story. By doing this, readers are given the opportunity to explore different realities, alternative histories and futuristic prospects. This question can also influence the romantic elements to highlight the emotional connection between characters, the circumstances in which they fall in love, courtship and sexual conduct. In short, SFR can offer high tension, high stakes, alpha heroes and hot sex.

  1. Dissect societal norms

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SFR dissects societal norms in a closed environment, where particular aspects of our nature are amplified and ramifications explored. From a romance point of view, this includes our relationships. SFR delves into the values we attribute to love, and what elements are needed for us to fall in love. It can analyse how community, government and the environment influence the connection between partners and how people manage to overcome conflict in order for love to prevail.

  1. Entrenched in our history

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Historical fiction and SFR aren’t a likely couple. But SFR often draws elements of human history into its narrative and crates imaginative worlds to support and expand on those themes. War, equality, race and religion all offer historical information that drives and supports SFR concepts. Take any moment in time and ask that imperative question ‘what if?’ and the possibilities for adventures are infinite.

  1. World building

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On the other end of the scale is the world building. SFR offers endless prospects for those who love fantastical worlds and all the brilliance and wonder that they offer. Though SFR can often explore the darkest elements of humanity’s nature through dystopian worlds, it can just as easily explore the best of us. Romance tropes form a key part of these storylines and enable readers to immerse themselves in the human element of these ideas, explore how relationships can evolve and thrive, while knowing that they will always get their HEA.

  1. Explores fantasies

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A key reason to love romance? Because readers can live out their fantasies, whatever they may be. The focus the romance genre dedicates to its characters allows readers to be right at the heart of action. In SFR, not only do our heroines fight zombies, fly spacecraft, play with magic or save the world, but they’re likely entangled with a dominating, broody and tortured hero who just needs love to save him. If your fantasy is to be seduced and then whisked off your feet to fight oppressive overlords, then SFR is for you.

  1. The Heroes and Heroines are badass

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Overcoming significant adversity is a key theme to many SFR novels. It’s not just about characters finding the love of their lives, it’s can often also about survival, saving the humanity, or even the universe. Characters in SFR often have to shed the ideals and social norms created by society to survive and thrive. You want alpha heroes and strong feisty heroines who fight zombies, win against impossible odds and save the world? You’re in the right place.

  1. Multiple sub-genres

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SFR is not all about zombies. Dystopian and utopian sub-genres are included, but so is steampunk, futuristic, supernatural, horror and urban fantasy. Plus, every romance trope there is. There are multiple layers to SFR that offers most readers something they love.

  1. High tension, high stakes

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Not all SFR is action based, but storylines often have high stakes for the characters. The fight for the greater good is a common theme – so are robots. Readers who enjoy the genre can rest assure that they’ll be in for an adventure.

  1. An escape

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Reading in itself is an escape. It takes you out of your reality and offers you magic. SFR provides another layer to reading that doesn’t come with other genres. Readers are taken on a journey of discovery, of excitement, to remarkable worlds built to remove you from reality and take you flying. Add the tantalising element of romance with high emotional risks, badass heroes and heroines, and a love that could come at a price. Honestly, what’s not to like?

  1. The happy ending

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Let’s face it, we’re romance readers for a reason. We love our happy ending. SFR may ask the hard questions, push boundaries or take us on a heart-thumping ride, but when the romantic element is added, readers can relax in the knowledge that everything will work out in the end and that their fantasy will always be fulfilled.


32999 (1)They fight for their survival, they fight for their love, and they fight for the human race.

Euan left his home whole, only to return broken, battered, and partially blind. He has endured the torments inflicted upon him by monster and man, but they are nothing compared to the consequences of betraying Nick and Kira. Incapacitated, he has no choice but to concede leadership to the man he considered his enemy, and is powerless as the distance between him and those he loves deepens and grows.

But his recovery time is short lived. The commander of destruction still lurks in the shadows, determined to dominate and control what is left of the human race. The final battle is upon them. They need a champion, a hero for humanity. There is no where left to run, and there is only one person who can provide the ultimate catalyst for change: A little, blonde sun-sprite, with crystal blue eyes.

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Fair Game (Women of W.A.R.) Exclusive Excerpt 3

Part I

Part II

Levi knew the second he flipped the paper over a few days later and found himself staring into the face of his one-time best friend that Darcy’s buzz was going to be no match for this crappy piece of news.Tony’s shit-eating grin leapt from the back page and Levi’s heart sank as the headline jumped out at him.

Tony Cameron scores coveted Banshee coaching position.

Well… fuck! Darcy…

Fuck.

There’d been the tiniest niggle at the back of Levi’s brain for days. The knowledge that Tony could be a possibility as coach. No matter how outside. That’s what he did after all—coach. But last Levi had heard he was somewhere in Indonesia setting up coaching clinics there.

A long way away from here.

But apparently he wasn’t that outside after all.

Damn it! He should have listened to that niggle. Yoga had taught him to listen to his body and he did that without hesitation, but he wasn’t as good at listening to his gut. Trusting his intuition.

If he had, he could have prepared Darcy for it a little. Put it out there, given her time to get used to it. Just in case.

Christ. Tony—the life and soul of any party, the one who people gravitated towards—was going to be back in their lives. After leaving it so spectacularly two years ago. Turning his back on Darcy and gutting her in the process.

Levi had heard her crying in her bedroom late at night for months after Tony had left. He’d tried to be there for her during that time, be a shoulder for her, but she’d been so devastated. And then she’d woken one day and announced herself over him. He hadn’t heard her cry again. And they hadn’t ever really talked about him since.

But would Tony’s reappearance bring all that grief back again and was she really over him? Or did she, deep down, still love him. As far as he knew, she hadn’t been seeing anyone. So had she really moved on?

Or did she still lie in bed at night and pine for Tony as Levi lay in his bed next door and burned for her?

He sunk to the couch, reading the article without really taking anything in. He knew Darcy didn’t see him as anything other than her ex-boyfriend’s ex-bestie. A roommate. She’d firmly friend-zoned him and that had been enough to begin with because she’d needed a good guy to lean on.

But every day that passed it was harder to pretend he didn’t have deeper feelings for Darcy. Feelings he’d not looked at too deeply for the five years his best friend had shared Darcy’s bed. Feelings that had grown in the last two while he’d waited for his moment.

Waited. Prevaricated. Lost his nerve.

Too afraid to jump in case he fucked it up altogether. Got it wrong. Misread the occasional flare of heat in her weird, green cat’s eyes. Caused her to flee. Because being her friend, being near, sharing her life, was pretty damn good.

It sure as shit was better than nothing at all.

Christ. He was pathetic. And now this. Tony fucking Cameron smiling at him from the back page.

Her words from a few days ago came back to him. The coach can have whatever the hell he wants. Yeah. That’s what Levi was worried about.

‘Anything good in there?’ Levi almost went into cardiac arrest at the unexpected intrusion. He glanced at her lounging in the archway that separated the kitchen/dining area from the lounge room. She was in her regulation work clothes—roomy high-vis long-sleeved shirt, baggy King Gee shorts that reached her knees, thick protectors pulled over her socks and dusty steel-capped boots, her hair haphazardly tucked up in her Gerry’s Market Garden cap.

It was possibly the most shapeless, asexual uniform he’d ever seen. She shouldn’t look hot.

But she did. Fucking hot.

Trumped only by how she looked at the end of the day, her face all red and sweaty, her boots caked in mud, dirt under her fingernails and her hair clinging limply to her neck, happy and smiling and relaxed after a day doing what she loved.

Christ. What was wrong with him? Had Tony’s imminent reappearance tripped some kind of Cro-Magnon switch in his head?

Levi didn’t know. All he knew was he wanted to yank that hat off her head and kiss her. So damn hard.

Her spoon scraped along the bottom of her usual bowl of rice bubbles loaded up with Milo—poor man’s Coco Pops—before shovelling a spoonful in her mouth, spilling milk down her chin and swiping at it with the back of her hand.

‘Jesus.’ He grabbed his chest. ‘Sneak up on a guy why don’t you?’

‘Yeah. You look like you’re heart-attack material.’

She pushed off the archway, totally unconcerned for his cardiac health. Plonking herself down on the couch beside him, her arm warm against his, her thigh brushing his, she glanced at the paper. Levi angled it out of her line of sight.

‘Hey.’ She frowned at him. ‘I’m trying to read that.’

‘They’ve announced the coach.’

She gasped and her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. ‘Who is it?’ She shoved the bowl on the coffee table in front of them, a bit of milk slopping over the side as she made a grab for the paper.

He held it just out of reach, wishing he didn’t have to tell her. Wishing it wasn’t so. She made another grab for it and he held it above his head.

Levi Phillips.’ It was said with a half-amused, half-frustrated growl and did very bad things to the muscles in his belly. They stirred and tightened. So did his dick.

She stared at him and frowned. ‘What?’

‘It’s… Tony.’

She blinked. Then she gasped again. ‘What?

She reached for the newspaper and this time he ceded it to her with a quiet, ‘I’m sorry.’

But she wasn’t paying him any attention. She had eyes only for the black and white print, the grip on the paper tightening as she read it half out loud, half to herself. ‘Cameron was the second choice after Doug McDonald reportedly turned it down.’

Levi suppressed a snort. Tony wasn’t going to like that one little bit. He had a huge chip on his shoulder about always being the bridesmaid, his whole life marked by being second best. Not quite making it to an elite level in footy due to injury and lack of that special X factor.

The one you either had or you didn’t.

Darcy had it. And Tony had known it. Hell, he’d resented her for it. And had spent the better part of their five years together undermining her confidence, trying to convince her she wasn’t quite good enough either. She hadn’t been able to see it but Levi had watched Tony’s subtle erosion with gritted teeth. And then he’d dumped her, citing her lack of commitment to their relationship, that it had run its course and he needed space.

It had really rattled her cage.

All because his fragile little ego hadn’t been able to cope seeing someone he loved be more successful than himself. It had been pathetic. Question was… would Tony continue his mind games or had he grown the fuck up?

Darcy threw the paper on the table. ‘Well shit. That killed my buzz.’

‘Yeah.’ Levi nodded slowly. ‘Thought it might.’

‘Can you believe this?’ she demanded, half turning to face him, incredulity twisting her features.

Levi shook his head. He couldn’t believe it. His gut burned with disbelief. And concern about how this would play out. How Darcy would handle it.

She groaned and buried her face in her hands. ‘God… Why him?’

Levi didn’t say anything. It was obviously a rhetorical question. He just sat there for a while and let her mutter away to herself for a bit.

‘What are you going to do?’

She dragged her head out of her hands. ‘What can I do?’

‘Nothing.’ It was the stark, honest truth. Players didn’t get a say in their coaches. Not at Darcy’s level anyway. And she wouldn’t want to rock the boat, not if she didn’t want to end up with a diva reputation before the comp even got off the ground.

‘Exactly.’

She sounded depressingly resigned and Levi cursed Tony silently. ‘It’ll be okay,’ he assured. ‘It’s been two years. And you’re over him, right?’

‘Right.’

It was followed by a nod. But neither the nod, nor her voice, rang with conviction. So Levi did the only thing he could think of, slipped his arm around her shoulder and gave it a brief squeeze.

‘He’s a good coach.’ It killed Levi to admit it. He didn’t want to say anything good about the guy at all but it was the truth and Darcy obviously needed something right now. He gave her another squeeze. ‘Don’t let him ruin your buzz.’

Tony fucking Cameron had already done too much of that in Darcy’s life.

Darcy nodded again, turning her face to look at him. ‘You’re right.’ A wan smile touched her lips. ‘I’m not going to give him that kind of power.’

‘Good for you.’

She stood then, slipping out of his light hold, tossing the paper onto the coffee table. ‘It’s been two years. We can have a professional relationship.’

Levi wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. He gripped his thighs hard to stop himself pulling her down again, slipping his arm around her again, trying to convince her with the solid assurance of his body that she could do this.

She was incredibly strong and determined. She could do anything. He nodded instead. ‘Absolutely.’

She shot him another wan smile. ‘Thanks.’

‘You’ll be fine,’ he assured.

‘I am fine.’ Then she calmly scooped up her bowl and disappeared into the kitchen. Levi winced as the bowl crashed into the sink.

Maybe not so fine after all…

 


32511 (2)How to mend a broken heart…

Darcy Clarke would do anything to play for the new Women’s Aussie Rules league, even put up with her ex, Tony, who just happens to be the coach of the Brisbane Banshees. Tony stomped out of their apartment – and all over heart – two years ago, but she’s moved on, and she deserves her jersey.

As his best friend’s girl, Darcy has always been out of Levi’s reach, even after Tony dropped her and moved out of the apartment they all shared. Now, two years on and still sharing the same apartment, she should be fair game. But Levi is no closer to getting Darcy to think of him as anything but a roommate and a friend.

But when Darcy injures herself in play, Levi’s qualifications as a sports massage therapist are put to good use. Suddenly, their relationship becomes very hands on, and Darcy sees a whole new side of her old friend. A pity he seems immune to her charms. When Tony makes it clear he wants back into her life, she has a decision to make: between the man she once loved and the man who never left her side.

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Fair Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt

Our third and final launch title in the new Women of WAR series, releasing 20 February (pre-order now!) is Fair Game from award-winning, best-selling author Amy Andrews. 

If you haven’t, check out the excerpts from Nicola Marsh and Catherine Evans!

Darcy Clarke hadn’t felt this freaking fantastic in a very long time. Maybe not in her whole twenty-seven years. Not after a block of lime Lindt chocolate (which never failed to zing her straight to her happy place). Not after three scoops of pineapple gelato (which totally should be mandatory treatment for depression).

Not even after sex.

Not that sex counted, considering she hadn’t had any since douchebag Tony had dumped her just over two years ago. She’d had orgasms, for sure. By herself. And she didn’t think self-love counted.

But that didn’t matter right now. Hell, she doubted it would ever matter again because footy was better than sex—why hadn’t she always known this?—and she’d done it. She’d actually done it! Her name had come up in the draft and she was going to be playing professional Aussie Rules football in the inaugural national women’s competition for the Brisbane Banshees.

And she felt amazing.

She deserved it, for sure. But when had that ever made a difference? She’d busted her gut for this for years, but even twelve months ago she’d have never thought it possible. A national women’s comp had been mooted for years, but as time progressed it had become more mythical than the bloody unicorn. But suddenly, the planets had aligned and the glass ceiling had been smashed and she was going to be right there in the thick of it!

Darcy allowed the chants of an invisible crowd to swell inside her head. Not that having a crowd chant your name was what it was all about but she ran with it for a moment or two, giddy on life, footy and everything. She grinned so hard, the man sitting in the seat next to her shifted sideways a little as the plane made a smooth touchdown.

But Darcy couldn’t help it. She couldn’t stop smiling. She knew she looked maniacal—the flight attendant had eyed her suspiciously and handed her a plastic knife to cut her roll rather than a metal one like she’d given the guy next door—but she didn’t care.

Nothing and nobody was going to kill this buzz.

The plane taxied and finally docked and as soon as the seatbelt light went out, Darcy was up, dragging her small overnight bag out from under the seat in front. She was too damn excited to sit and she couldn’t wait to see Levi.

Sure, he’d rung yesterday afternoon to congratulate her, but just anticipating his I-knew-you-could-do-this grin was adding to her giddiness. She’d lived with Levi Phillips for seven years now and, in a lot of respects, he probably knew her better than any of her girlfriends.

He certainly knew more than anyone how freaking hard she worked for that Banshee jersey and had never doubted she’d make it. Never. Considering there were numerous times she’d doubted it, that was saying something.

Still, she was surprised to actually find Levi waiting at the gate for her. They often made trips to the airport for the other one, but always stopping at the drop-off/pick-up zones out front. He’d never come into the terminal. But there he was, standing right at the back, head and shoulders above the waiting crowd of kids and lovers and parents, a huge grin on his face, a metallic helium balloon with Congratulations emblazoned on its hide in his hand.

He looked like a crazy person, standing there with that grin and the stupid balloon with a few days’ worth of scruff on his face, but her heart gave a funny little giddy-up seeing him here for her. Of course, that could have something to do with his faded old T-shirt stretched across his shoulders, barely long enough to meet the waistband of his standard loose trackpants, of which he had about a hundred thanks to his obsession with yoga.

The top half of his long, riotous, dirty-blond hair was pulled back into its regular man bun, leaving the rest to curl and twist around his neck and shoulders in its usual disorder. Even the sight of his big, bare, size fourteen feet, sticking out of his open-toed slides, did funny things to her equilibrium. The man looked like some kind of Zen lumberjack but what she liked most was that he didn’t care one fucking jot what he looked like.

The crowd parted, as if especially for them and, before she knew it, she was grinning at him and running towards him, launching herself at him, crawling up him like a koala up a gum tree and wrapping her legs around his waist to hug him tight.

He laughed as he caught her, his body easily absorbing the impact as his arm anchored around her back. ‘Whoa!’ The low timbre of his voice licked into her ear as deliciously as the swipe of a hot, wet tongue. ‘I knew you’d get picked.’

Darcy grinned even bigger, hugged him even harder. ‘Yeah, yeah.’ She squirmed at his unashamed bias, but her heart swelled big in her chest at the pride underpinning his statement.

She wasn’t sure how long they stood like that, with her glued to him like an oyster on a rock, people eyeing them curiously as they stepped around them. But it felt good to be in this moment—the high point of her life—with the guy who’d been there for her during all her low points.

It felt really freaking good.

Pre-Order now, and tune in tomorrow to find out what happens next!


32511 (2)How to mend a broken heart…

Darcy Clarke would do anything to play for the new Women’s Aussie Rules league, even put up with her ex, Tony, who just happens to be the coach of the Brisbane Banshees. Tony stomped out of their apartment – and all over heart – two years ago, but she’s moved on, and she deserves her jersey.

As his best friend’s girl, Darcy has always been out of Levi’s reach, even after Tony dropped her and moved out of the apartment they all shared. Now, two years on and still sharing the same apartment, she should be fair game. But Levi is no closer to getting Darcy to think of him as anything but a roommate and a friend.

But when Darcy injures herself in play, Levi’s qualifications as a sports massage therapist are put to good use. Suddenly, their relationship becomes very hands on, and Darcy sees a whole new side of her old friend. A pity he seems immune to her charms. When Tony makes it clear he wants back into her life, she has a decision to make: between the man she once loved and the man who never left her side.

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Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 4

Cress has been in love with Quin since she was a girl. But he thinks of her as a little sister. And now they’re going to live together…

Part I here

Part II here

Part III here

‘Were you scared when you came to Sydney? You were a few years younger than me, and you didn’t have anyone to come to.’ She was being nosy, but knowing Quin, he’d tell her if she overstepped, or he’d ignore her if he didn’t want to answer.

‘I think I was too young and too excited to think about it.’ The car seemed to slow a little as he flicked her another glance. The traffic was slowing for the lights ahead. Cress hadn’t seen them at first glance. There were so many lights and signs and sights, it was a little bedazzling.

‘Aren’t you excited?’ he asked.

‘I haven’t really had the time to get too excited. I got off the header late yesterday, on the train today. Tomorrow I’ve got a team meeting and I’m sure I’ll start getting excited then.’

His eyebrows lifted but before he could turn his head, the lights changed and they were moving again. ‘Weren’t you excited when you signed that contract?’

She chewed her bottom lip and tried to remember how she felt. ‘It came on email, Quin. It wasn’t any big deal. Not like you with the agent coming to school and all the media you got.’

He stiffened for a moment and then said, ‘The contract came on email? Did you get an agent to negotiate it?’

Cress laughed. ‘There was no point. It was a flat offer across the board, take it or leave it, except for a few who went in the draft.’

He shook his head. ‘No agent? That’s crazy?’

She fought back a grin. ‘You don’t have a clue how much money I’m earning, do you?’

‘No. I didn’t ask.’

‘Eight grand.’

‘Oh right. Per week? Per match?’

Cress chuckled. ‘Total.’

‘Total for what?’ Quin didn’t seem to have any idea at all. He was genuinely puzzled, she could tell by that deep crinkling near his eye and the tugging of his jaw.

‘Total for the season. It’s only eight games. A short season. Kind of an experiment.’

While she spoke, his jaw dropped further and further. Then he snapped it shut, slid a look at her, before his jaw bunched tight. ‘You’re okay with this?’

Cress laughed. ‘Well …’ She’d explained this a lot but it was a bit difficult to explain it to someone who was her male counterpart. ‘Women’s sport has to start somewhere. I’m stoked that they’re recognising us and giving us a competition. I understand that they’re not sure how it’ll go, so they can’t offer big contracts.’ She took a breath. If it wasn’t someone who was like a brother, she wouldn’t add this bit. ‘But yeah, it was a bit like a slap in the face, paying us that. I don’t know why they offered us anything, really. I would have played for nicks.’

Quin swallowed and it was a pretty loud one. ‘I’m sorry. I thought Tris would have told you why I had to ask to stay with you. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find work to fit in around football, which meant I wasn’t sure I could afford to rent.’

He held up his hand. ‘There’s no rent. No problem, Watercress.’

‘No, it’s cool,’ she said quickly. ‘I’ve got a job. It starts tomorrow too.’

‘You got a job?’ He sounded incredulous.

‘I’m a pretty capable chick, Mr Fitzpatrick. Did you doubt my ability to be employed?’ She tried so hard to make it funny, but she could hear the defensiveness. She hoped Quin wouldn’t hear it.

‘No. It’s just …’ He hummed. ‘I … geez … I thought you might want to climb the bridge?’ His question quite swept the air from her lungs.

She nodded. Vigorously. ‘I do. I do.’

‘I thought we could do it this week.’

‘A weekday?’ Cress shook her head. ‘I’ll probably be working. I’ve got to fit that in around training.’

‘Oh. Will you have the weekends free?’

‘I think we train some Saturday mornings. Not sure if they’re scheduling trial games or not. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.’

A few more kilometres passed in silence.

Then Quin said, ‘Do you need to work?’

Cress snorted. ‘Pretty much. I don’t want Dad footing the bill. I want to try to make this work. They reckon I can fit the work around footy commitments.’

‘What are you doing?’

‘Labour for a landscaper. It’s local.’

‘I was hoping you’d see the sights with me.’ There was just a tiny bit of a young boy’s plea in his tone that made her heart soften.

‘If I can fit it in, you’re on.’

Quin’s head shook, then was still, then shook again. If she had to guess, she’d say he was having a great conversation with himself and answering himself in the negative all the time.

‘It’s going to work, Quin. I feel it in my soul. I can juggle farm and footy, been doing that for years, so this’ll be just the same. Don’t stress. If I can still manage to get to the Royal to catch up with people, I’m sure I’ll fit in a few trips with you.’ She leaned over and squeezed his forearm. ‘I’ll let you know tomorrow night what my schedule is and we’ll fit in the Bridge Climb. There’s no way I’m coming to Sydney for months and not getting on that thing.’

Quin chuckled. ‘Watercress, you’re going to set Sydney on fire.’

That, or it’d burn her completely.

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32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 3

More Cress and Quin today!

Get caught up:

Part I here

Part II here

She dug her phone out of her pocket and took photos while they were stuck, even managing to get her hand and some of her head out the window to try to get a shot of the structure above them.

‘Quin, can I take one of both of us, please?’ She waved the phone in front of him. She wanted to get a shot, no matter how bad, so she’d always remember that he brought her here on her first night in the big smoke.

He finally looked at her, an exasperated grin lurking on his quite delicious lips. She blinked, and looked at his chest instead. Much safer. ‘If you must.’

She turned so she could be nearer to him, flipped the camera and then took a couple of shots. ‘Thanks,’ she murmured as she went back to looking out the window and craning her neck to see more.

‘We’ll be stopped here for a bit. There’s an accident up ahead.’ He waved to his GPS system, which must have real-time information. Another city thing she hadn’t realised. ‘You can probably stick your head out if it makes it easier. Just keep an ear out for motorcyclists who might knock your head off.’ His grin was evil, but she didn’t care because her head was out the window in a flash.

With her phone in front of her face, she snapped as many photos as she could. Mostly of the bridge structure, but she grabbed a few of the traffic and a train on the bridge, and the sun setting down the shining river way off in the distance. There was so much to see, her phone got shoved away while she soaked it all in. A tap on her thigh had her drawing back into the car.

‘Sorry to break the gawking, but the traffic’s on the move.’

Cress grinned as she seated herself properly inside again. ‘Thank you. This has been the best fun. I’ll have to send a few pics back home.’ But they’d wait until her trip across the bridge was over. She wasn’t missing a minute.

Words were hard to come by as she drank it in. She couldn’t see too much of the view of Sydney but she didn’t care. It was the structure that kept her gaze, and she wouldn’t be getting bored of that in a hurry.

Quin’s tapping against the steering wheel made her glance across. ‘You okay?’ ‘Traffic. I hate being at a standstill, or crawling along like this.’ Quin gave her a quick glance. ‘But I know, it’s the best thing ever in your whole life, and if there wasn’t traffic, you’d have missed it all.’

She grinned before chuckling. ‘Took the words right out of my mouth.’ Then she poked his arm. ‘But stop interrupting me. I’m having a moment with the coathanger, and you’re not rating as highly.’

His mutter of, ‘Well, excuse me,’ had her grinning but she didn’t glance back at him, no matter how many fidgets or agitated tics he displayed. She didn’t tune him out, she found that impossible, but she’d spent years perfecting the art of pretending he wasn’t affecting her.

When they got off the bridge, she let out a sigh and twisted around to see it for a last moment. Quin chuckled. ‘No hanky-waving goodbye?’

‘Oh, hush. Just because you don’t have a monument you love.’

They drove in silence for a little bit and then Cress looked at the signs for the suburbs. They didn’t make sense. Her geography of Sydney wasn’t good, but she was sure they were heading the wrong way. ‘Aren’t we meant to be going west, and this is North Sydney?’

Quin flashed her a glance. ‘Yes, Watercress. We can slide up here a bit, then cut across and get home. Don’t worry. I’m not going to get you lost on our first outing.’

She chuckled. ‘Didn’t you say you were lost when we ended up on the bridge?’ The tugging across his forehead and the slight colouring of his neck gave him away. ‘Quinlan Fitzpatrick, you did that just for me.’

He frowned deeper and shuffled in his seat, but didn’t admit to anything.

Not that she needed his admission. ‘If you weren’t driving, I’d throw my arms around you and give you the biggest kiss.’ If only. She’d give him a smacking cheek kiss like she’d give her brothers. Only in her head did it get any better than that. Making sure she slotted him back into the right place in her brain, she added, ‘You’ve just motored up to the number one brother spot.’

Quin’s grin was easy, quick to flash at her, and exceptionally satisfied. ‘Can you text Tris and let him know?’ As her eldest brother, and Quin’s best mate while growing up, Tris and Quin had always kept up a steady rivalry vying for top brother position. After Quin left town, when she was thirteen, Ollie, Damo and Gar tried to push Tris out of top brother at various times. It was a fun bit of sibling rivalry that she’d miss now she was in Sydney without them. But if she could do it via SMS, that would keep them all still in touch.

Cress laughed. ‘I should. I’ll send them all photos.’ She buried her head in the phone and shot a couple of photos to her brothers and Dad. When she was done, the phone went back in her pocket and once again she marvelled at the number of cars, the people, the lights, and all the shops.

The congestion seemed to ease with the traffic flowing more smoothly when Quin said, ‘The Sirens guernsey has the Opera House sails. Did you try to get them to change that?’

Cress sighed dramatically, then shot him a smile. ‘I was shattered they didn’t incorporate the bridge, but sadly, I’m so low down the pecking order, I had no say.’ She waited a beat before she said, ‘I did wonder if I could hang back from signing until they put it on there.’

‘When Tris said you were signed, I kept expecting them to announce they’d been remiss and were now incorporating the bridge into their design.’

‘I figured that sometimes not everything can be perfect.’ She swallowed her chuckles and became a little more serious. ‘I have a shot at my dream. Not everyone gets to do that. I have to just be glad to be playing, and not stress about everything else.’ She took a slow breath. She had to say this before she chickened out. ‘Do you reckon you can remind me of that when I’m freaking out about some little minor thing, probably tomorrow?’

Quin’s chuckle made her sharing worthwhile. ‘I’ll remind you, Watercress. If you need a kick up the bum, I’m the toughest brother you’ve got, so believe me, I’ll give it to you.’ She glanced across as he shot her a wink. All her insides went smooshy.

Part IV

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32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Long Game (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 2

You met Cress and Quin in the first installment…what happens next?

Covering herself with a snort and smacking his shoulder, she said, ‘Hey, I didn’t copy you, promise. I applied for Melbourne teams.’

Quin covered his chest with his huge hands. ‘Wound me, right where it hurts.’

Cress groaned and did up her seatbelt. He started the car. ‘I wasn’t thinking about you when I tried out. Dad poked and prodded until I went down.’

‘You didn’t get in?’ Quin’s question held a touch of disbelief and she almost preened.

‘The Sydney Sirens rang before I heard.’

Quin laughed. ‘That doesn’t surprise me.’

A niggly thought chased through her mind. ‘Did you tell them to?’

‘No.’ Quin shook his head and the frown he gave her was genuine. ‘They have scouts down in the Riverina.’

Her lips itched as she held in a grin. ‘So you knew they were wanting to put together a girls’ team and you didn’t put my name forward?’ She faked a huff.

He muttered a curse under his breath and his fingers clenched on the wheel. She began to snigger because she couldn’t hold it in any longer. He was so like her brothers.

‘Sit there and shut up while I concentrate on getting us out of this place.’ His growl was just like her brothers’ too, however the depth of his seemed to have some accord with her body. When he growled, her body tingled. Like she was a freaking tuning fork. There was no defence to that. None that she’d found anyway. She sat quietly, while her entire body strummed to the echoes of his growl.

Focusing her attention outside the car helped her regain control. It looked like they were in the city. Big sandstone buildings, dazzling lights even though the sunset was an hour away, an incredible number of cars and trucks, buses and people swirled past and around them. When they stopped at a red light, she said, ‘Are we in the city?’

‘Right in the heart of it, Watercress.’ A little grin as he glanced at her made her heart speed up. ‘You going to survive this?’ He waved his fingers, then moved off as the light changed.

There was a question. She’d barely survived quick footy or family, trips to Sydney and now she was living here. At least for four months, or almost four months. If they made the finals, it would be four months. The whole of summer; mid-November to mid-March.

She’d stayed at home for as long as she could, working the harvest with Dad, but he still had weeks to go. She had a team meeting tomorrow and the start of a new gardening job. Her brothers promised to help Dad out, but knowing Tris, Ollie, Damo and Gar, she doubted they’d be much use, or even remember. They all had their lives to live.

Although they never broke promises, and they had promised.

She sighed. Dad would hire someone if things got tough. She hated leaving him in the lurch. No matter how many times he told her she was his employee and employees leave, especially when chasing their dreams, it didn’t make her feel any less guilty.

Quin snapped his fingers. ‘You here, Watercress, or sleeping?’

She spun towards him, wondering what she’d missed. He was still concentrating on the traffic. There were still cars everywhere. Who could imagine this much traffic after eight pm on a Sunday night? She looked beyond the cars, and up ahead loomed something familiar. Big stone pylons and steel. A multi-lane roadway they seemed to be driving on.

She glanced around faster, her stomach tightening and squeezing, sweat breaking out on her palms. She gasped. ‘Quin, is this the bridge?’ Her voice was so high-pitched it was hardly recognisable. ‘You’re taking me on the Sydney Harbour Bridge? On my first night.’ Her voice dropped. Her heart swelled to almost bursting. ‘Wow. You’re amazing, Quin.’

‘I’m lost, Watercress. Lost. Don’t go getting all starry-eyed.’ He sounded grumpy, but underneath she was sure he was gratified, and that he’d done this deliberately.

She’d raved about the bridge. It was the only thing she loved about Sydney. Sure, the harbour was beautiful, and the beaches, but there was water out of Sydney that had fewer people. There wasn’t another ‘coathanger’ and the beauty of the structure had always attracted her. Grey steel should never look beautiful but the construction of this was always mesmerising. The straight lines intersected by the zigzag-filled arches were exquisite. Those four huge sandstone pillars, plonked in pairs at either end, should look misplaced and awkward; it worked to be breathtaking.

She’d welded a rough imitation in high school and it was the farm mailbox now. But she hadn’t come close to the exquisite detail of the real thing.

Those huge steel arches were right there ahead of her. On the left and the right, across lanes of traffic, were the huge sandstone pillars. And she, she was on the most beautiful monument in the whole city. Words couldn’t describe how she felt right now.

She poked at buttons until the window came down and then she squished in her seat, angling her head so she could drink it all in. Her first glimpse of the bridge and she was on it. The lighting was enough so she could see the incredible crisscross of metal. Sun from the west illuminated the length of the bridge, and she wished she was a bird so she could fly around it, marvel at it. Heck, if she was a bird, she’d roost here, spend every day flying around her favourite place in all the world. Not that she’d seen the world. She’d only seen parts of Australia. Very few parts.

But the bridge. She wanted to hang her head and shoulders out of that window, stretch her arms wide, and feel the wind rush her face as they drove beneath the beautiful arches.

Except they weren’t moving.

And she was on the bridge.

Can’t wait to see what happens next?

Part III

Part IV

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32510Does she dare pursue all her dreams?

Everyone in Grong Grong knows Cress Kennedy’s childhood dream is to play Aussie Rules Football, so when the Sydney Sirens sign her in the new Women’s Aussie Rules competition, she heads to the big city to pursue her dream. But no one in Grong Grong knows of Cress’s other dreams: the ones that revolve entirely around Quin Fitzpatrick.

Quin Fitzpatrick left Grong Grong as an eighteen-year-old to play Aussie Rules in Sydney, but after eight years the shine has gone from the lifestyle. When his best friend’s little sister follows in his country-to-city footsteps, he promises to look after her. She can stay with him and he’ll protect her as best he can. Besides, Watercress is the little sister he never had.

But Cress is all grown up now and playing Women’s Aussie Rules, and it’s about time that Quin sees her as a woman too…

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Game On (Women of W.A.R.): Exclusive Excerpt 5

It’s fair to say that this, the final excerpt from Nicola Marsh’s sexy sporty GAME ON is definitely NSFW.

How did we get here?

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

I tugged on her hand, hard, hauling her body flush against mine. She gasped in surprise and I took the opportunity to kiss her, invading her mouth like I’d yearned to do since I first saw her. She tasted of hops and something sweeter, something enticing.

 

She moaned as my tongue tangled with hers, releasing my hand to claw at my shirt. Tugging it out of my jeans. Fumbling with the button. Zeroing in on the zip. Eager, I liked that. Liked that she knew what she wanted and wasn’t playing coy or mucking around to get it.

 

When she palmed my cock through the denim, I almost lost it.

 

‘Impressive,’ she murmured against the side of my mouth as she continued to stroke me with single-minded determination, tracing the shape of my cock that throbbed with her touch.

 

‘Glad you approve.’ I backed her toward the couch, not breaking eye contact, seeing the exact moment her eyes widened when I slid my hands up her thighs to palm her arse.

 

Hot damn, she wore a G-string, giving me instant access to smooth skin. I traced the curve of her and snagged the elastic, heard her sharp intake of breath as I let it go with a snap.

 

‘Tease,’ she said, her lips curved into a naughty smile that promised this would be great. Stupendous.

 

‘I’ll show you tease.’ I lowered her onto the couch and knelt at her feet. She propped on her elbows, watching me as I slid the denim mini down her long legs, revealing a tiny triangle of damp black satin. I wanted to get behind that scrap of material so damn bad my balls ached.

 

I stared at her, seeking silent permission before taking the last step. In response, she arched her hips slightly. Offering herself to me. Such a fucking turn-on.

 

I almost tore her panties in my haste to get them off. She didn’t care as I trailed a finger from her belly button to her clit in a slow, deliberate swipe that had her wiggling in anticipation.

 

‘You like that?’ I circled her clit with my thumb, lazy strokes designed to tease and torture.

 

‘Yeah …’ she ended on a groan as I increased the pressure, desperate to be between her slick folds but wanting to make her come first.

 

‘Good, because you’ll like this even more.’

 

I lowered my head and licked her, using my hands to pry her thighs further apart while laving at her clit. Lapping at it. Sucking, until she writhed beneath my mouth, urging me on.

 

I picked up the pace and she grabbed at my head, holding me to her as she came on a loud, triumphant yell that made me feel like a goddamn sex master.

 

When she finally released my head, I raised it to see her lying splayed on my couch, eyes closed, smug smile; pussy wet and waiting for me.

 

Her eyes snapped open when I unzipped and she watched me grab a condom from my wallet, slide it on and guide my cock toward nirvana.

 

‘That was so good,’ she said, pushing into a sitting position, bringing her tits delectably close.

 

‘It’s about to get better.’ I peeled off her tank, unhooked her bra and took a second to admire pert B cups with erect rosy nipples before sliding into her an inch.

 

Her eyes widened, appreciation making them darken to molten chocolate as I slid in further, taking my time so she could adjust when all I wanted to do was ram into her.

 

She felt so tight, so good. I leaned forward, flicked the tip of my tongue against a nipple. The other. Alternating between her tits, nipping and sucking, laving until she couldn’t sit still.

 

She reached around me and dug her fingers into my arse, trying to pull me closer. I obliged, sliding into her to the hilt, the fit so snug I couldn’t help the groan ripped from deep within.

 

I found her mouth as I started to move, sliding in and out in a slow, deliberate rhythm set to titillate. But she felt so hot and slick, kept moaning into my mouth with each thrust, that I couldn’t hold back for long.

 

When she bit down on my bottom lip, intentionally or not, I kinda lost it. The momentary pain heightening the pleasure, the friction of my cock sliding in and out of her making me light-headed.

 

She wrenched her mouth from mine in an effort to haul me even closer, if that were possible. The pressure in my balls built, the muscles in my lower back tightening as I pounded into her. Over and over. Mindless with lust. Craving release. Each torturous, wonderful second driving me insane.

 

I came on a roar, barely registering the pain of her sinking her teeth into my shoulder as I saw spots.

 

I had no idea how long it took for me to form a coherent thought. When I could function again, I blurted the first inane thing that popped into my head.

 

‘Just so you know, I have a sweet tooth and plan on coming back for seconds and thirds of that ice-cream all night long.’

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Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

All three Women of W.A.R. titles release 20 February 2018

The Stuff of Fantasy

by Nicola Marsh

If you follow AFL you’ll know there’s a thing called Fantasy Teams, where anyone can choose their favourite players and create their dream team. Each week players are assigned points according to performance and your score is tallied so you can see how your fantasy team performed, with mega prizes involved.

But as I’m a romance author and totally shallow when it comes to eye candy, here are a few players who could make the cut of ‘Fantasy Team’ of a different kind…(as voted by Herald Sun readers in 2015, Who is the AFL’s sexiest player?)

AS

Andrew Swallow (past captain of my football club, the North Melbourne Kangaroos, who’s gorgeous inside and out, a true gentleman of the game.)

LF

Lance Franklin

TB

Travis Boak

AR

Alex Rance

Now it’s over to you.

Who would you choose to be in your Fantasy Team?

Any sport, any player, let’s see who would make the grade in your dream team.


32509 (1)Are they playing to win…or playing for keeps?

Angelica Bryant has a dream. The only child of a soccer legend, she pays her bills by working at her father’s bar while pursuing her goals: a role in sports management and a place in the newly established Women’s Aussie Rules league. Football is her passion, and she won’t let anything get in her way: including an ill-advised one-night-stand with one of Australia’s most successful agents.

Jaxon Flint thrives on success. His workaholic lifestyle keeps his agency and the athletes he represents at the top of their game – and all of his emotions at bay. Until he meets Angie, W.A.R.’s newest star, who undermines his carefully laid plans and gets under his skin. Is he willing to relinquish his careful control both in and out of the bedroom?

When Angie and Jaxon end up working together, it’s game on!

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Get more information about this title on Nicola’s blog!

Women of WAR 1

The Love of a Tortured Hero

by Alyssa J Montgomery

Most of us admire those who’ve endured some form of physical, emotional or psychological trauma and used those negative experiences to propel themselves into a stronger future. We generally have even greater respect for those who go on to use their experiences to help others.

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As readers, this translates into our empathy for the tortured hero or the imperfect heroine. There’s something satisfying about journeying alongside a character who is deeply emotionally scarred—sharing their fears and insecurities through their healing process, and ultimately sharing their happiness as they overcome their adversities or emotional angst.

I particularly enjoy complex back stories where there is a dangerous secret or an element of intrigue involved. I think this adds greater dimension to the character, and can provide more profound internal conflict for the character to have to overcome. I want the character to move on from the loss they’ve faced and I’m satisfied when they find the strength to ensure that their lives soar instead of spiralling downwards.

In The Formidable King, both Gabriel and India are outwardly strong but have deeply scarred psyches due to tragedy and trauma they’ve endured. Be warned, this story touches on some sensitive subject matters. The discovery of one dark secret will probe the boundaries of reader compassion as it tests the depth of Gabriel’s and India’s love.

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Compassion and sensitivity in a volatile and dangerous situation prove the depth of unconditional love in Gabriel and India’s relationship when serious imperfections are revealed. The stakes are high and huge obstacles mount against seemingly impossible odds as demons from the past resurface.

Gabriel’s world is thrown into chaos as he realises circumstances may force him to choose between the woman he loves and the one responsibility that has always been central to his existence—the throne of Santaliana.

Against the odds, and through the magic of romance and love, both Gabriel and India are the key to releasing each other’s burdens and the salve to heal emotional scars. As their love triumphs, they forgive each other and learn to forgive themselves.

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We all face challenges in our lives, and some of us face trauma. It’s how we respond to those challenges that causes us to grow—or causes us to lose our way. As the saying goes ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ There are so many people in our world who’ve experienced trauma and become an inspiration to others. Who are some of your favourite tortured heroes and heroines in the world of fiction and can you pinpoint just what it is that’s been so appealing and memorable to you?


32513 (1)A chance meeting, a misunderstanding, and a second chance for a royal love affair…

Once, King Gabriel was bewitched by a violet-eyed beauty at a masquerade ball, but she left the function without a trace…not even a slipper. Now, Cinderella has a name. Fate has thrown India Hamilton right in Gabriel’s path, and he’s determined to expose her as the gold-digger he knows her to be.

But Gabriel’s attempt at revenge soon loses its appeal as he spends more time with India. Her generous actions and smart control of his sister’s foundation suggest a strong, kind woman, undeserving of his scorn and anger. It soon becomes clear that this is not a Cinderella story at all: India is a beauty, and Gabriel has been behaving like a beast.

Pre-order now! The Formidable King releases on 12 December 2017

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