Exclusive Excerpt 2: Bittersweet

32702

A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Tom dropped Amy home later that night. He walked her to the back door of Sugar Cakes and waited for her to open the lock and turn the inside light on.

She had a feeling he didn’t want the night to end. If she were to be honest, she’d admit she felt the exact same.

Thank you so much for today,’ she said as they lingered on the doorstep under the filmy light that spilled over them. ‘I really appreciate your help. And for tonight too. I had a great time.’ And she truly did. She enjoyed Tom’s company a great deal.

Even now, as she looked up into his face, she ignored the buzz of anticipation that tingled through her body.

I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.’

I did. I needed it.’ She had needed to do something just for the hell of it. Not out of obligation or duty, but just for fun. She had already dedicated so much to her career, she’d forgotten what that was like.

Tom looked into her eyes as he smiled; Amy melted just a little. How could she not. This man was incredible—warm, compassionate, and as sexy as sin. And he was completely respecting the boundaries she had delineated. No pressure.

But, the worst thing they could have done was sleep together because now that she had had a taste of him, she knew how great it could be, and she wanted more. So much more.

Could she take it there again? Would it really be so bad if they were to let this attraction play out physically for the duration they had left together?

There was no denying that Tom was becoming a huge part of her life.

There was no denying that she was developing real emotions for him.

Her breaths grew thinner, louder, as much as she tried to hide it. But there was nowhere to hide, for in this silence was only their breaths and beating hearts.

So, I guess I’ll see you later in the week?’ he asked, but his words were thin. He was obviously on the same train of thought she had stumbled onto. But how could he not be when all the space between them was becoming charged with their need to touch one another.

Before she could think of all the reasons why she shouldn’t, Amy reached for his hand. A warm current coursed through her arm. She needed his touch so much she ached.

His gaze met hers.

Her thumb moved over the back of his hand and that small gesture stole her breath. His eyelids dipped a little, and his next intake of air was rushed.

Still his eyes held hers.

She took a step closer. His warmth reached across the space between them and caressed her, urged her to come even closer. Could she?

Amidst all the pain and the uncertainty of the future, could she let Tom in? Even if only for a short while?

Her breaths were making her chest rise and fall. Her heart sped up pace.

Amy?’ asked Tom, a deep whisper.

For a long moment, she didn’t answer, still indecisive. No-one but themselves could get hurt here.

Was he worth that risk?

He reached for her, his hand cupping her jaw, thumb smoothing over her cheek. She nestled into his touch. ‘Amy?’

Was it really so wrong when everything inside her was screaming at her to take the leap, to fall into him.

Will you catch me?’ she whispered.

His gaze flickered from her eyes to her lips, then he nodded. ‘And I won’t let go.’

iBooksBooktopiaNookKoboGoogleAmazon AUAmazon USAmazon UK

Advertisements

Feed Your Reader: A vineyard, three brothers, and the magic of cupcakes.

32702

A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

” I loved the way the story was woven and all its twists and turns. A box of tissues is a must!”  – Jeanne, NetGalley

“a lovely story of love, healing, and new beginnings.” – NetGalley Reviewer

“just gives you a huge happy sigh” – Becky, NetGalley

iBooksBooktopiaNookKoboGoogleAmazon AUAmazon USAmazon UK

Where Love & Cupcakes Meet

by Jacquie Underdown

Food is almost a dirty word these days. It is wrapped up in so much confusion. It can be prescriptive, healthy, poisonous, toxic, or super.

Eat this. Eat that. Don’t eat this. Don’t eat that.

My latest contemporary small town romance, Bittersweet, is a book primarily about finding love amidst the turmoil of grief, but food, specifically cupcakes and sweet desserts, is featured heavily.

But the story doesn’t focus on anything restrictive. It doesn’t mention weight or calories or shame.

Cupcake decorated with a heart shaped cake pick

One cannot live well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

~ Virginia Woolf

This book only speaks of the pleasure food can bring in both the eating and the cooking.

The pleasure of sharing food with the people you love—family and friends.

The emotional balm a red velvet cupcake with sweet cream-cheese frosting can provide.

Eating is so intimate. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you are inviting a person into your life.

~Maya Angelou

Bittersweet demonstrates how food and love are a powerful partnership.

How sharing of food can bring people closer together, can forge friendships, and foster deep relationships.

Mother And Small Child In The Kitchen At Home Beautiful And Happ

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien

Bittersweet is a celebration of love and cupcakes and the undeniable joy the combination these two items can bring to a person’s soul.


32702A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

Amy Jenkins, a talented and ambitious chef, is left humiliated and debt-ridden, after her city restaurant fails. When her best friend calls asking for help in her small town cupcake shop, Amy jumps at the chance to hide out in the small town of Alpine Ridge while her shattered ego mends.

The youngest Mathews brother, Tom feels over-looked and under-appreciated. His brothers remember every mistake, but never give him the responsibility or opportunity to take his place in the family business. So, he spends three weeks out of every month working at a mine in the back-end of nowhere. But then Amy moves to town to help run his pregnant sister-in-law’s bakery, and suddenly home seems to be where his heart is.

Amy’s move was only ever meant to be temporary, but when tragedy strikes the Mathews family, Amy finds herself unable to move on. As she and Tom get closer, Amy finds every excuse to stay: first, she claims it’s for the family, then she claims it’s for the shop. But maybe, it’s for her own heart…

“I couldn’t put this book down from the first pages. Even when I had to get up to find some Kleenex, I didn’t want to stop reading. I can’t wait to read the stories of Tom’s older brothers.”  –  Betsy N., Reviewer

iBooks, Booktopia, Google, Kobo, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Exclusive Excerpt: Bittersweet

32702

A vineyard, a family in pain, and the healing magic of cupcakes…

The two old timber doors of the cellar, which sat under the high point of the curved overpass, were painted with the same green paint Dad had chosen when he first bought this place. Though it was flaking with age.

Amy narrowed her eyes at Tom, then peered back at the doors. ‘Is that a cellar in there?’

Yep.’

Does it go underground?’

He nodded. ‘Best way to achieve the perfect temperatures, which is essential to storing wine for long periods. How good a cellar is, determines the quality of a winery.’

Tom unlocked the big metal padlocks, pushed the heavy doors open, and they went inside. The familiar scent of earth and must, a little like mushrooms, hit him.

The cellar was darker than black. He felt along the cold wall for the switch and turned the lights on. They flickered to life, dimly illuminating the giant space, which possessed more qualities of a cave than a room, though the floor and the walls were made of stone.

Amy followed closely by Tom’s side as he led her through the short maze of rooms connected by archways, passing rows of barrels and a tasting room.

Deep into the cellar, where the air grew still and cool, their surroundings dim, was an enormous room lined with big wire racks filled with bottle after bottle of wine, all sitting on their side. Black cellar mould coated the layers of bottles and walls. A wet-rock smell was thick in the air.

Amy narrowed her eyes at Tom, grinning sceptically. ‘What the …?’

Tom laughed. ‘That’s most peoples’ first reaction.’ He went to a rather thick mound of fungus and smelled it. Best scent in the world, like a bag of mushrooms. ‘Touch it,’ he said.

Amy pressed her finger to the spongy substance.

This cellar has its own climate. Eleven degrees in the summer or winter. The bottles of wine let out vapours and this mould forms keeping the air clean. We are so proud of it.’

Amy giggled. ‘I never could have believed this would be a source of pride.’

Tom chuckled. ‘I know. But it’s so very important. And it changes depending on the time of year. Sometimes it’s white like a cotton ball. If you’ve got a cellar with this,’ he said touching the black mould again, ‘you’ve got perfect conditions for storing wine.’

He went to a stack of bottles and pulled out a dusty one from on top, turning it upright and rubbing the muck from the label. A long slender mushroom grew out from the cork. ‘This was from the very first year at the vineyard. The year Mitch was born.’

And it tastes good?’

His grin was smug. ‘Unbelievable flavour profile. But this wine was intended to be aged. A dream my dad had over thirty years ago.’

This is all so incredible.’ She gestured to the rows of bottles. ‘Magical almost.’

Magical was the perfect description. When he was a child, he always volunteered to come here with Dad, and they’d spend hours turning each bottle a quarter of a turn. He’d never known why he’d loved it so much, but Amy was right.

He peered around at all the years of hard work. ‘Dad was so proud of this cellar. I am too. This is Dad’s legacy. This is where it all began. And it’s his gift to my brothers and me …’ he trailed off and stared at his feet as an unexpected lump of emotion formed in his throat.

What?’ she asked.

He shook his head, but sadness was brimming in his eyes. He could not believe how emotional this was making him. But the sentimentality in this place was overflowing, especially after a day like today.

What is it?’ she persisted.

Why would I ever want to distance myself from this legacy?’

Amy shook her head, almost imperceptibly.

What an idiot I’ve been. I was given the biggest gift, a gift people would kill for, and I’m throwing it away. God, how egotistical … selfish …’

Emotions brewed in his heart—for the decisions he’d made, for the time he wasted, and for being so damn complacent—painful as it worked through him and exposed him for the fool he’d been.

Just because he hadn’t birthed this dream, instead inherited it, didn’t make it any less special. It didn’t mean he couldn’t make this dream his own.

Bittersweet is coming in January 2018. Pre-order your copy now!

iBooks, Booktopia, Nook, Kobo, Google, Amazon AU, Amazon US, Amazon UK

Feed Your Reader: Small Towns and Second Chances

31645 (1)

He’ll never come back to stay, unless someone asks him to…

Funerals can bring people together who are best kept apart. Ethan Foster, home to mourn his sister-in-law, finds himself as unwelcome as ever in the town that once meant the world to him. For more than a decade he’s been saddled with a bad reputation – a drunk, a deserter – and he’s lived with it, will keep living with it, because the only way to clear his name is to share his secrets. But the secrets are not his to tell and their telling would destroy the family he loves and the woman he’s never forgiven himself for leaving behind.

Samantha O’Hara once loved freely, but now she doesn’t. Now she leaves before she’s left and keeps her vulnerabilities tucked away. But when Ethan Foster walks back into town, finally looking at her the way she always wanted him to, she finds her hard-won armour developing chinks. She can’t – won’t – have anything to do with any reinvention Ethan is going through. But maybe this isn’t a new Ethan… Maybe he’s the same Ethan she fell in love with all those years ago.

And maybe, just maybe, this time their love will be strong enough to make him stay.

*Originally published as Ask Me To Stay. This edition is expanded and revised.

“this book has something for everyone: love, family, conflict, acceptance and forgiveness” – Goodreads

“You need to read this book” – Goodreads

 

Available from your favourite e-tailer: Booktopia, Amazon AU, Amazon US, Amazon UK, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Google

Feed Your Reader: Your Tarrin’s Bay Fix!

31263 (1)

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time…

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction.

Available today!

Why is the Future so Exciting?

by Charmaine Ross

Buck_coverMy first foray into The Future was through Buck Rogers, the television series in the eighties – yes I am showing my age. My head filled with moments of wonder and excitement when I watched those images flashing across the TV screen. Imagine my absolute glee when I managed to track down the series on DVD. I ordered them all, sat through the first episode and realised that my adult brain didn’t quite enjoy it as much as my ten year old brain did… Oh well, it was made in the eighties!

However, my imagination and excitement hasn’t changed since I was ten. I still anticipate days ahead with a certain amount of positivity. Why, I wonder? Days ahead, whether they be just around the corner or fifty years down the road are filled with promise and possibilities. They are an open slather, unmarred, unbruised, and filled with hope for better, happy days. They haven’t been lived yet, so no mistakes have been made, no bad things have happened, where everything across the board in my life has the same amount of potential. And I tend to flavour the future with optimism.

I can make of them what I want. The decisions I make today will shape the days, weeks, years ahead, whether it be in the long term, or just for tomorrow. I can create my days ahead simply by putting things into motion today. Then tomorrow I can build on what I’ve done today and keep building, keep creating. I plan for the best and hope that they will turn out how I imaged. Whether this is just wishful thinking, I don’t know, I only know that I enjoy planning my future. It’s an exciting, ever-changing reel of vision.

I’m also excited about the prospect of technology. I can’t imagine that my life in fifty years time will contain the same things as it does now. Maybe computers will be able to connect straight to my brain and I won’t have to key in words and correct my constant typos. Maybe we’ll have robots to cook, clean, wash – all of the things that I personally hate doing. Maybe we can plug intelligence into our brains and learn extraordinary amounts of information in an eighth of the time it currently takes now – and we’ll remember everything we read. Maybe we’ll create a pill that will keep us healthy, looking like we’re twenty when we’re actually one hundred. Maybe we’ll then live to be two hundred years old and still be able to hop, skip and jump until the day we pass onto the next world.

I mustn’t forget, however, how important yesterday is. Filled with golden nuggets of learning, precious gems of memories, even the not-so-good ones. Don’t underestimate the power of the not-so-good days. In reality they have been your best friends, shaping who you are today. Without them, you might not know how to handle that difficult situation, not know how grief feels in order to prepare yourself, you might not know how it feels to lose so that next time you can try harder, faster, study that little bit more, strive that little bit harder. How many times have you asked yourself, ‘If I only knew now what I didn’t know then, I would have done things a lot differently.’ – I’ve said that to myself more than a few times. In reality my one word – duh – says it all in moments like those. Oh, I know them well.

Then again, maybe I just like day-dreaming…

But without daydreams and imagination, there can be no future. Is that why I like sci-fi/futuristic/time travel romps so much? Absolutely. I only know that the future is open slather filled with promises, excitement and possibilities.


Charmaine’s most recent novel features a woman who puts everything on the line for the hope of a better future – until a dangerous adversary moves to town and threatens everything she hopes for. 

20830 (1)

A sexy, sugar-laden David vs Goliath story about a local bakery, a national chain, and what really matters.

Clover Loveday has worked hard to get her café Four-Leaf Clover up and running — her ticket out of an increasingly alarming financial situation and her dream come true. When she literally falls off her ladder into the arms of sexy-as-sin Liam Sinclair. The same Liam Sinclair who owns the new bakery being built just across the road…the new store by bakery chain Upper Crust owner! Clover decides then that no matter how nauseated she is about the idea, it is best keep your enemies close, rather than leave things to fate.

Liam has never put too much thought into the competition when he opens a new outlet, other than taking their customers and strengthening the Upper Crust brand. But here in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, Clover Loveday’s cafe is a little too close for comfort, and Clover herself a little too good-looking. So Liam asks his PA to put together a ’fact sheet’ about his new competition. He has a business to run, a father to please, and hundreds of people to keep in jobs. Surely information can keep an unwanted strong sexual pull at bay…

A sweet, caffeinated, satisfying story about unexpected temptations, forgiveness, and putting love before money.