Posts Tagged ‘Promises’

Got your attention? Good, because this is serious stuff!

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers recently about ‘heat’ ratings in romance novels, which prompted me to ponder sex in our home-grown rural romances and what reader expectations might be on that front.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein coverI have no idea, and that bothers me because I’m all for fulfilling my readers’ expectations, but I’ve had no feedback or seen any comment about the sex in my books at all. The explicitness has varied with each release, so what then do readers prefer?

For me it all depends on the characters. Callie and Matt in Heartland, being the people that they are, seemed to suit spontaneous, rompy sex and I had a hell lot of fun writing those scenes.

Matt stumbled his way to the single bed until they fell in a tangle of sweaty arms and legs amid creaking springs and laughter. Callie’s shorts winged across the room, following his cargo pants, the last of her underwear sling-shotting after them. Callie laughed as Matt’s jocks caught on his springy cock, enjoying his hungry, almost pained expression as she levered him out and tugged them over his hips and down his legs. Grinning, she twirled the jocks around her finger before flinging them toward the wardrobe.

I would have felt awkward doing the same for Sophie and Aaron in Promises because they were quite sweet characters, while describing the bedroom antics of my 2014 release Rocking Horse Hill’s privileged heroine would have made me feel like a dirty perv. She’s definitely not the sort of person who would appreciate others being privy to her private life (although, given Rocking Horse Hill’s sexpot hero, I bet she has an amazing time in the bedroom).

So I asked a couple of rural romance buddies how they decide how explicit to be with their sex scenes…


Fiona Palmer, best-selling author of The Family Farm, The Sunburnt Country and other great rural reads is of similar opinion to me:

Cathryn, I agree that it is up to the characters. In one of my books it happens on the back of a ute and in another book the sex scene called for a more soft gentle approach.  The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerSo I go with what I feel, what I think the characters would do and see where it leads. I do love good sexual tension in books and so I like a little sneak peek of when they get to finally act on this tension. I personally enjoy the hot parts, but it doesn’t sway my like or dislike of a book if it has hot sex or not. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes just the touch of a hand can mean so much more.

I haven’t heard back from any readers saying they didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in my books. (In fact I have the blokes asking for more!) So I will just keep going based on what I think the characters need and want.  Here is a snippet from my latest book The Outback Heart and this paragraph is the raunchiest of the whole sex scene.

‘Amazing.’ Troy’s gaze swept across her breasts as she arched her back, waiting for his touch. A shaky hand caressed her soft skin, his thumb flicking over an already hard nipple. Indi tightened her legs around his waist as he bent to taste one bud, before moving to the next, his tongue flicking and teasing. His hand went down to where she was hot and moist. Indi dug her fingers into his shoulders as a moan fell from her lips.


Rachael Johns, best-seller and Australian Romance Reader Award winner expands on the sex depends on character theme:

I consider my rural books very much romance books and therefore exploring the chemistry between the main characters is a must for me. But how heated and graphic that exploration is really does depend on the hero and heroine in each book.

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsThings such as whether the characters have just met play a factor and also their previous relationship experiences. In my first book Jilted, Ellie and Flynn were high school sweethearts and the attraction between them was always spicy but at the beginning of the book they are trying to fight it because of the hurt they both carry.  In Man Drought, Imogen and Gibson experience instant attraction but they both have reasons to steer clear of the opposite sex, however each interaction between them gets hotter and hotter till it blows up in his ute on the side of the road. That might be my sauciest rural romance scene.

If I know my characters well, I find the sex scenes almost write themselves. In Outback Dreams, my latest release, Faith and Monty have been best friends forever but have only just realized they also find each other attractive, so their first sex scene had a different tone again.

Her smile gave her consent and within seconds they were tumbling backwards, pausing only to tear up the zip on the tent, before collapsing on top of their waiting swags. She couldn’t tell who hit the ground first but they both reached for each other, tearing at each other’s clothing like hungry beasts. In complete darkness and with no method to their madness they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so Faith pulled back and took care of her own clothes. Monty did the same and when he reached for her again, she felt his warm, naked flesh against hers.

A moan of approval slipped from her lips.

Damn the dark. She willed her eyes to adjust so she could look her fill at the specimen beside her.

And then he was touching her. He pulled her towards him, tugged a blanket over the top of them and smoothed her hair. ‘You okay?’

Okay? Words could not do justice to her level of okay-ness. Why had they never gone here before? ‘Yes.’

I like reading about the sex between two people who are in love or at least on the road to falling in love, and so I like to give a glimpse of this to my readers as well. However, I don’t get too graphic with my sex scenes as I believe it is the emotional not the physical side of a love scene that is most important.


Karly Lane, best-selling author of North Star, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice is also mindful of her readers:

I’ve noticed a steady increase in what my editor and publisher expect in my books. In North Star I was asked to trim a lot of the scenes, but in Morgan’s Law I was asked to show the readers more!Bridie's Choice by Karly Lane I think publishers are aware of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic and that women’s fiction is undergoing a shake up at the moment, and so they’re willing to stretch the boundaries a little more than they may once have.

I personally, write what suits my plot and characters. I won’t write an explicit love scene just to keep up with a current trend. I had a reader who told me she allowed her young teenage daughter to read my books because she knew they weren’t too overly explicit. I’m very conscious of what my readers like which is why I won’t be jumping on the mommy porn band wagon just for the sake of it.

This quote from Bridie’s Choice gives a good example of Karly’s boundaries.

She heard him groan softly next to her ear, and she urged him onto his back, following him down until she straddled him. His surprised chuckle soon faded and was replaced with an intense look as he cupped her face in his hands, holding her gaze silently for a long moment. The depth of feeling in that one shared look made Bridie quiver with a mixture of emotion and lust. Leaning forward, she kissed him, pouring into the kiss the feelings she knew she couldn’t voice.

His hands slipped to her waist, holding her firmly as she began to move slowly against him. The gentle moans of their mutual need drifted away on the breeze above them.


Mandy Magro, best-selling author of Rosalee Station, Jacaranda and Flame Tree Hill has a different take:

I like to leave the bedroom door wide open, in ALL my novels. Driftwood 3Actually, I love to take my characters out of the bedroom to make it even steamier 🙂 When two people fall in love, the most intimate way to show this is through love making, be it slow and sensual or hungry, hot and steamy. I love writing these scenes and will endeavour to include them in each and every one of my future novels.

Mandy demonstrates just how steamy with this excerpt from her November 1st release, Driftwood.

Taylor panted as she reached out and gripped the sides of the rock, her hips arching into Jay’s lusciously warm mouth, his tongue and lips seducing her into seventh heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she teetered on the edge, her entire body quivering. How could a man send her into a sexual trance so beyond the normal realm she felt as though she was floating into an abyss? Finally, succumbing to his enchanting mouth, she toppled over the edge of self-control and screamed out his name, pulsating against his ravishing tongue as she climaxed to the point of breathlessness, every centimetre of her shuddering.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Well described sex or more teasing hints? The door open or closed? Do you need sex to complete the romance side of the story? Or does it depend on the characters or plot?

Comment away! Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and their books, or wish to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you’ll find all the links on their websites. Just click a name below to discover more.

Fiona Palmer

Rachael Johns

Karly Lane

Mandy Magro

Cathryn Hein



Read Full Post »

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Don’t mind me, just channeling a little Lewis Carroll to celebrate the release of my new rural romance, Heartland. Cathryn Hein Author PhotoBooks always seem to take so long to birth that it’s wonderful when they finally pop out, all pretty, pink (or in Heartland’s case, blue), and shiny.

Yes, yes, I know it’s my baby and I’m terribly biased, but Heartland really is a comely thing. I love its soaring black cockatoos, stunning sky and summer-parched landscape. And the model? She’s the perfect Callie.

But it’s the content that matters, and Heartland has been earning praise. Oh, yes it has!

9/10 from 1 girl, 2 many books and this gorgeous comment:

“It’s easy to overhype books in your mind sometimes, which can lead to them not living up to expectation. That was definitely not the case with this one – it was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s a beautiful story of finding courage to be happy and letting go of the past but without forgetting it.”

And 5/5  from Marcia at Book Muster Down Under.

“Cathryn so skilfully combines atmosphere with location, creating a world which offers authenticity and a full range of sensory stimuli.  As I felt the sun stinging my shoulders, the red dust settling on my tongue and licked the saltwater from my lips, I was immediately pulled in by her fluid and easy writing style and a narrative which has a well thought-out pace, enabling this reviewer to live vicariously through her well rounded human (and animal) characters.”

But you know what else is really cool about release time? I get to take over Friday Feast.

Ahh yes, tis a frabjous day indeed!




Heartland_cvr_640x480A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from Cathryn Hein, author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.


Heartland is available now from chain stores (it’s in this week’s BigW Catalogue) and your favourite book retailers, including Booktopia (who, as you recall, we luuuurve because of their most splendiferous ARRC2013 sponsorship). You can also buy the ebook from Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. For a longer list of retailers please visit the Heartland page on my website.

And now please welcome… er… me!


My Kind Of Research


Novels take research. Some more convivial research than others and such was the case with Heartland. There’s a fun scene in the book where the heroine, Callie Reynolds, learns to drive Glenmore’s old Fiat tractor. As a child she’d watched her grandfather work machinery plenty of times but she’d never actually done it herself. The Fiat, with its gears and knobs and PTO, leaves her flummoxed, so she calls on Heartland’s sexy hero Matt Hawkins for help. But Callie doesn’t ask outright. Instead, in one of my favourite scenes of the book, she leaves a bemused Matt sifting through their flirtatious banter, trying to decipher what she’s really come over for.

Now, because you’re all special Feasty lovelies, I’ll reveal a bit of a secret. I nicked part of this scene from an old unpublished manuscript. The tractor in that instance was my brother’s ancient Massey Ferguson, but I needed a few more details and wouldn’t be travelling to Mt Gambier for a while to check. Rather fortuitously, I was heading to Stawell for a library talk, and had planned to spend the rest of the weekend out of town on a farm with my girlfriend and her gorgeous family, who also just happened to have the perfect tractor hiding in a shed.

And so ensued a weekend of research merriment!

Ahh, country kids. They’re classics. This lot insisted on being photographed with a stinky dead sheep.

Ahh, country kids. They’re classics. This lot insisted on being photographed with a stinky dead sheep.

The Fiat, now immortalised in a rural romance.

The Fiat, now immortalised in a rural romance.

Stawell, if you’re unaware, is in the Victorian Wimmera, two hundred and fifty or so kilometres from Melbourne and close to the magnificent Grampians National Park. It’s also very close to the Great Western wine growing region. So what’s a girl to do on a Saturday in a wine region? She goes a-tasting, of course!

Where else to venture than historic Seppelt at Great Western, which not only has a wonderful history, it has amazing drives (cellars) you can tour. Seriously, if you’re cruising around the region do not miss this tour. It’s fascinating, enlightening and afterward you can sample wines not normally on Seppelt’s tasting list. Details of the tours, history and wine on Seppelt’s website.

By the time of completion in 1932, Seppelt's drives extended 3km

By the time of completion in 1932, Seppelt’s drives extended 3km

Mould creeps onto every surface in the drives. A bit War of the Worlds red weedy but harmless.

Mould creeps onto every surface in the drives. A bit disturbingly War of the Worlds red weedy but harmless.

The drives were dug by goldminers for sparkling wine maturation. Seppelt's most iconic (and tasty!) fizz is their Salinger range which is made using the best grapes of the year's vintage.

The drives were dug by goldminers for sparkling wine maturation. Seppelt’s most iconic (and tasty!) fizz is their Salinger range which is made using the best grapes of the year’s vintage.

Where some of the special wines are kept locked. Legend has it Dame Nellie Melba took a bath in champagne here.

Where some of the special wines are kept locked. Legend has it Dame Nellie Melba took a sparkling wine bath here. The bathfizz was later poured back into 152 bottles and recorked. One hopes the contents were all wine!

Naturally, enthused by the sight of those bottles and the post-tour tasting, we stocked up and tonight, to celebrate Heartland’s release (because celebrations are indeed warranted!), I’ll be popping the cork on the very nice bottle of Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz that I bought post tour. Lovely!

Now, what does one eat when one has built a red wine appetite? A deliciously flavoured casserole, of course! And this one is a beauty.


Slow Cooked Lamb casserole

You’ll need to begin this recipe the night before.

1.5 kg trimmed, boneless lamb (leg or shoulder), cut into 4-5cm pieces

4 cloves garlic, crushed

250ml shiraz – use something decent!

A good slug or two of olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (I use La Dalia brand Pimentón de la Vera dulce)

2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped finely

3 red capsicums roasted, deseeded and peeled and cut into strips. Or for speediness and rather excellent flavour, use a jar of wood-roasted piquillo peppers.

300 g tomato passata

1-2 bays leaves

½ cup shiraz, extra

½ cup beef stock

Place the lamb in a bowl with the garlic and red wine and marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 160° C (or whatever temperature equates to ‘slow’ on yours).

Strain off the shiraz marinade and discard. Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole (an enamel-coated cast iron Le Creuset style pot is perfect) and brown the lamb in batches until a rich, dark colour. Remove browned meat and juices and set aside.

Add the onion and paprika to the pan and stir together for 30 seconds or so, then return the meat and juices, along with the chopped rosemary, peppers, tomato puree and bay leaves. Season well with salt and pepper and mix.  Add the extra shiraz and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours, checking occasionally to ensure the meat is covered in liquid. When meat is tender, taste and adjust for seasoning.

Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the delicious gravy. And don’t forget a nice red wine to match!

And now, because I’m all dosed up with red fizz cheer and book release excitement, I’m going to run a giveaway. Simply reveal a wine-y tale – anything from your favourite cellar door, to a much loved wine-including recipe, to dear old Uncle Albert’s infamous port barrel dunking – and the one that tickles my fancy most will win a signed copy of Heartland.

But get in quick. Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 30th April 2013. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to learn more about me or my books, including the story behind Heartland, please visit my website. You can also find me chattering away on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.



Read Full Post »

It’s here! And I came very, very close to popping the champagne before 8am this morning. Why? Because Heartland received the most gobsmacking review from Bree, at 1 Girl, 2 Many Books.

This is just a little of what she had to say…

“It’s easy to overhype books in your mind sometimes, which can lead to them not living up to expectation. That was definitely not the case with this one – it was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s a beautiful story of finding courage to be happy and letting go of the past but without forgetting it. Callie had such a touching vulnerability and Matt such a gentle strength but that didn’t stop it from being plenty saucy either! Another fabulous rural romance release that just proves why this genre continues to grow in popularity.”


Isn’t that the loveliest thing? Read Bree’s full review of Heartland here.

But wait, there’s more! Bree also has an in-depth Q&A with me, covering everything from how I choose my settings, to my love for the Sydney Swans, to what was the most difficult part of Heartland to write. Plus a teensy bit about my next book. Check it out!

Also around the net, I’m on the Australian Romance Readers Association’s blog, talking about what made Heartland special to write. All ARRA members who comment will go into the draw to win a copy.

Tomorrow, ANZAC Day, I’m at Book Muster Down Under with an author Q&A (including some seriously tricky questions) and with THREE copies of Heartland up for grabs courtesy of my publisher, Penguin Australia.

Friday will see me flopping about with exhaustion… or perhaps not. No rest for the bookish! I’m hosting myself here on Friday Feast and revealing some of the onerous research I had to undertake for Heartland. I’m talking winery visiting onerous. Terrible, but we authors are selfless creatures and don’t mind suffering for our craft. Oh, and there’ll be a Heartland giveaway too. But you’ll have to work for it with a wine-y story!

Also on Friday, I’ll be at Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest, discussing garden gnomes, what my protagonists think about me, and the current lust of my life, Inspector Davide Rivera from Rex in Rome…among other equally serious and important things!

Then on Sunday, 28th April, it’s back to ARRA for a guest post titled The Heart of Rural Romance. Find out what makes this genre so great.

Oh, and before I go, three things.

1/. Heartland is in this week’s BigW catalogue. Wheeeeee!

2/. The ebook price promo will run out soon. Get in quick if you want to score Heartland at a discount. Try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. There’s also special pricing for Heart of the Valley and Promises.

3/. My Goodreads giveaway closes May 1st. Simply visit Heartland’s page and clickety-click the Enter to Win button.

To finish off , thank you to everyone for your amazing support. I’ve been overwhelmed with congratulations this morning and made to feel really special. I can’t express how much that means to me.

Nearly forgot! I have another Heartland quote for you.


Mustn’t let all my photo fiddling go to waste!


Read Full Post »

It’s been a while coming but here, at last, is Heartland’s gorgeous new cover and blurb. Isn’t it beautiful? From the perfect heroine image, to the soaring blue skies, black cockatoos and summer-parched landscape, I love it!


Coming 24th April 2013


A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from Cathryn Hein, author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.

Read Full Post »

It’s not very often I get to do a Friday Feast post, although expect to see a bit more of me around Heartland release time. But this week is the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Brisbane, and with so many Australian authors heading along for a weekend of full-on romance (book romance, that is… for me, anyway. Can’t speak for the others!) I thought I’d take pressure my busy guests and take over the slot.

Now, because I’m a complete fusspot who likes her systems, I’m going to stick with the normal Friday Feast format and hit you once again with Heart of the Valley’s cover and blurb. Oof, stop your groaning. You know you haven’t seen it enough!

Besides, this is different. On March 24th the smaller format of Heart of the Valley releases and it has an extra pretty new cover. Compare and contrast with the example on the right. See? What, you can’t see any difference? Phht. Look at the colours! There, what did I tell you? A pretty pinked-up new cover and a slightly altered blurb. All good!




HotV Cover - smaller 2013 formatBrooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain.

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.


Yet to own your own copy of Heart of the Valley? Then you must satisfy that burning urge and buy! Try your local BigW or bookshop, or go online to Booktopia or Bookworld. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. Sorry, international visitors, my books are currently available only in Australia and New Zealand but I’m working on it!

And now I bring you…er…me!




We have now been in our new house for 15 days. Ahh, the utter bliss of having all my clothes, my kitchen things, my cookbooks! and a lovely big office in which my beloved workstation fits just beautifully. Moving in had its usual issues of breakages and missing items but after 20+ years of doing this we’ve learned that there’s no point in getting cranky. Well, not very cranky. I have been known to crack a wobble over my cookbooks being mishandled and I did nearly lose it this time at the mysterious disappearance of one my favourite French copper pot lids, but overall stoicism was my friend.

Anyway, it’s all very hard to stay cranky when one has succumbed to the intensely blissful delight of  oven love. Yes, I am besotted with an inanimate object. But this, my dear Feasters, is not just any inanimate object. This is a brand spanking new 90cm, 5 burner stove and oven.



Isn’t it lovely? All that stainless steel and heavy cast iron. That deliciously fat size. That range hood with its fantastically bright LED light and timer function. That wok burner. All those settings to suit anything from pizza to pavlova. Sigh. Makes one’s heart rather skippy.

So, you’re probably wondering what I’ve baked. Well, you have to remember that we haven’t actually been moved in for that long, and for the first 5 days at least I was too knackered too cook, but I have managed to make an apricot and Frangelico frangipane tart (yum!), roasted some pork and created beautiful crackling, baked a couple of home-made pizzas, roasted veges, baked a casserole, stirfried about four lots of noodly dishes, and last night I whipped up a tasty leek and fetta tart. Not a bad effort, but you wait until winter when I really get cooking. Then there’ll be some fun!

Which brings me to what recipe I should share. I had great plans of doing a marvelously complicated story called “My Week With Hugh” where I regaled you with adventures from my week of cooking recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s new cookbook, Hugh’s Three Good Things, a book I won just before Christmas thanks to those fantastically generous souls at The Essential Ingredient (who also run a most excellent website). Alas, time has not permitted and I’ll have to save that for another Feast.

But it just so happens that I picked up some juicy looking sirloin steaks from the Mulgoa butcher the other day, which then led me to whip up a batch of Café de Paris butter for the freezer. Now, I have no idea how authentic my version is of this butter. I’m not even sure there is an authentic version, but I started out using Neil Perry’s recipe from Rockpool (it’s up on the restaurant website if you search) then over time adapted it using Iain Hewitson’s version from his Tolarno Bistro cookbook and another couple of recipes from cooking magazines, until I arrived at the butter that we now make and love.

There’s something quite seductive about a beautifully cooked steak glistening with a disc of slowly melting Café de Paris butter. Yes, yes, horribly bad for you and all that, but that’s okay. Just don’t have it every day!

Go on, give it a try. You know you want to…


Café de Paris Butter

125g butter

1 French shallot, finely diced

1 scant teaspoon of good quality curry powder

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon baby capers, rinsed and finely chopped

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped

The leaves from a few springs of fresh thyme

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce???????????????????????????????

Stick the lot in a food processor and whiz until well mixed. If you don’t have all the ingredients don’t fuss, just use what you have. I’ve made it on occasion missing some of the herbs or spices and it turned out fine. Plus each time I make this butter it tastes slightly different, even when I use every ingredient. Adds to the fun!

???????????????????????????????Using a spatula, scoop the butter out onto a good sized square of plastic wrap then shape into a log. Fold over the wrap and then, holding the ends, roll back and forth until it forms a nice sausage shape. Plonk the sausage in the freezer and simply cut off discs whenever you want some super tasty flavoured butter for your steaks. Easy!


So, what’s your favourite steak accompaniment? Perhaps you’re a spicy sort and can’t live without a good, peppery sauce. Maybe you’re a naturalist and prefer it bare and beefy. Maybe you like to be extravagant and tournedos Rossini, with its layers of crouton, foie gras and truffle all dressed in a rich demi-glace. I’d love to hear your thoughts. With autumn coming up, and the nesting season approaching, it’s nice to have a few new steaky things to try.

If you’d like to read more about Heart of the Valley or Promises and how they came into being, please visit my website. You can also keep up with my natterings on Facebook, Twitter and Google+


Read Full Post »

Happy birthday to Promises, happy birthday to my book! Yes, Feasters, it’s been one whole year since my debut rural romance was unleashed on the Australian public and what a wonderful time it’s had, from posing in Cosmo to lounging nonchalantly across the shelves of BigW and everywhere in between.

Birthdays need a party, even those belonging to inanimate objects, and I do enjoy an excuse to crack a bottle of fizz, so this week on Friday Feast we’re celebrating. But as regulars know there’s a style to this segment and, queen of fusspottiness that I am, I must keep the format intact or risk much twitchiness. So here’s Promises’ gorgeous cover and blurb, cos I just know you haven’t seen it enough…




A father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.


Aww, now isn’t that just lovely? Yes, yes, so I’m biased but that’s my authorly prerogative and I’m going to indulge. Now, for those of you who don’t own a copy I just know – oh, yes I do! – that you are itching, itching I say, to buy one. So trundle on down to your local independent and ask or clickety-click right now over to Bookworld or Booktopia. Prefer the ebook? Promises is also available from the above sites, as well as ebook retailers like Kobobooks and Amazon (Kindle).

And now that little sales spiel is over, here’s…er…me!



Like the title of this post? I’d love to lay claim to it but, alas, it didn’t come from my RWA Conference exhausted brain but from Anne Gracie, much admired author of wonderful Regency historical romances. Clever lady.

So, yes, beefcake…

Oh, you mean you’re expecting sexy man piccies? Like this, perhaps?

Love the Old Spice Man. Such fun.


Not your thing? What about this chappie, looking sternly suave in breeches?



Can’t say he does anything for me but that’s probably because he’s my great-grandfather. Anyway, always a bit hard to go past a man in uniform and here’s a whole bunch.

These lovelies were snapped in Stockholm. There seems to be quite a few piccies of Scandinavian good sorts in my collection. No idea why. My finger must have accidentally slipped on the shutter button or something…

Now, seeing as we’re on the subject of beefy things, I suppose a recipe is in order. Except as I flick through my “favourites” self-made cookbook the only thing I can find that remotely fits the criteria of beefy and cakey is this pork and veal terrine recipe. Not quite the celebratory dish I had in mind but it’ll have to do. Besides, it’s simple to make, tastes good and can be enjoyed outside with a glass of dry rosé. My favourite kind of recipe.



Fits 28cm/1.2 litre Le Creuset cast iron terrine dish.

375g diced pork (a nice fatty cut)

375g diced veal

125g good quality smoky bacon, pancetta or speck, diced

1 large clove garlic, chopped finely

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

30g shelled pistachios

1 tablespoon cognac (substitute brandy if you don’t have any)

15 or so slices prosciutto (bacon can be substituted but the terrine will be very fatty, as you can see from the above pic)

Preheat oven to 180ºC

Coarsely chop pork, veal and bacon together in a food processor using the pulse function, making sure to keep plenty of chunky bits for texture.

Tip meat into a bowl. Add the garlic, thyme, pistachios and brandy, season well with salt and pepper, and mix well with your hands.

Line a terrine or loaf tin with prosciutto, making sure to leave plenty hanging over the edges as these will be used to cover the terrine top. Pack the terrine with the meat mixture, pressing down well, and drape prosciutto edges over the surface to cover.

Lay a piece of baking paper over the folded over prosciutto and place the terrine lid on top. Transfer to a baking dish lined with a folded tea-towel (this helps stop the terrine slipping about) and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the terrine.

Bake for 90 minutes, remove from the oven and then remove the terrine from the baking dish. Keeping baking paper in place, take off the lid and set aside. Place a heavy weight on top of the terrine to weigh it down – I use a small wooden board topped with tinned tomatoes but a brick is perfect if you have one handy.

Cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight. Turn out onto a board and serve with cornichons and a baguette.


Now, it’s a birthday party so that means pressies and it just so happens I have a goodie bag handy. Not only is there a very practical canvas tote, there’s a nice mug and all sorts of items for the discerning Promises fan. There may also be Lindt chocolates inside…

Tell me which of the above beefcakes you prefer – Old Spice Man, Breeches Boy or Sexy Scandinavian  – or your favourite beefy recipe and I’ll pop you in the draw. 

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 28th August 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you wish to find out more about Promises or my second novel, Heart of the Valley, including extracts for your reading pleasure, please visit my website. You can also connect via my Facebook page and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Brenda, who has won a gorgeous goodiebag with bonus choccies. Thanks to all who joined in the fun and helped celebrate Promises‘ birthday. It’s been a hoot!


Read Full Post »

Yup, that’ where I’m off to this week. Can’t wait! It’s such fun to catch up with writer friends and talk shop. I’m also a guest on the Diamonds In The Dust Panel on Saturday with Rachel Treasure, Fiona Palmer, Barbara Hannay and Penguin editor Belinda Byrne, discussing all you need to know about rural romance.

For non-writers there is the wonderful  Australian Romance Readers Association Booksigning Event. So if you’re near the Gold Coast this coming Friday, why not pop on by? Sixty-six romance authors will be on standby to have a chat to and sign your books.

4-30–6.00 pm on Friday 17 August at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast. For more information on the ARRA Booksigning Event please visit the ARRA Blog.

Interested in writing? Why not take a closer look at the Romance Writers of Australia. THE BEST writing organisation in the country. It is. I promise. Plus we have seriously fun conferences.

And finally, a heads-up that there will be no Friday Feast this week due to me swanning around the Gold Coast. But keep an eye out for Friday 24th when I’ll be sharing something special to celebrate the first birthday of my debut rural romance, Promises. There may be a special giveaway…


Read Full Post »

A quick heads-up for e-book readers. My debut rural romance PROMISES is now available on Kindle and from Kobo, Borders and other ebook retailers for $10. Bargain!

Here are the links:

If you have a Kindle, you can buy Promises here. Currently $10-03

If you own a Kobo, Sony or other e-reader that accepts the ePub format then you have a wider choice of stores and the book is slightly cheaper at $9-99.




Angus & Roberstson



HEART OF THE VALLEY is also available as an ebook from the same retailers for around $19-99



Read Full Post »

This week on Friday Feast we have a very special guest… me!

Heart of the Valley released yesterday and as I want as many people as possible to buy and read it, I’m taking over this week’s Friday Feast to mercilessly plug my book. Well, not mercilessly – I’m not that enamoured with self promo – but I’m going to make sure you know aaaaall about this wonderful, emotional read.

Yes, emotional. I have it on good authority that people have been so moved by Heart of the Valley and the fate of its characters that they’ve cried. As Michelle, book editor of online magazine Beauty and Lace warns in her recent review, “…regardless of how tough you think you are you are going to need the tissues.” I also shed many tears during its writing, although not always for the same reason. As any (normal) author will tell you, writing can be bloody stressful!

So in keeping with the established Friday Feast format, and because I’m painfully pedantic and like to keep things ordered, here’s the cover and blurb. You can also read the opening chapter at my website.




Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled ­ some might even say stubborn ­ and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ ­ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won¹t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself ­ a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.


Vivid, moving and passionate… yup, that about sums it up. But I should also mention that the hero, Lachie, is a complete and utter babe. There’s this bit where he… Oh, just go and buy the book and you’ll soon see what I mean.

Right, enough of that. Let’s talk FOOD!


There’s a sweet character in Heart of the Valley named Nancy Burrows who’s a gun country cook and one of those wonderfully generous souls who loves nothing more than to spoil those she holds dear with her delicious food.

Nancy doesn’t do fancy food. Nope, Nancy makes hearty country fare like beef casseroles, chicken and vegetable soup, and Lancashire hot pot. And she bakes. Oh, does she bake. There are ginger biscuits, apple and rhubarb crumble, and Lachie’s favourite, bread and butter pudding.

So I thought I’d dedicate this Friday Feast to Nancy Burrows and share the sort of recipe that she’d make. Which is rather fitting now that fickle Melbourne has finally abandoned its Indian summeriness and instead decided to blast us with cold and rain. I don’t know about you, but when the weather turns horrid, my stomach craves old-fashioned winter comfort food, and what better warming food is there than a rib-sticking soup?

My mum, bless her, isn’t the most enthusiastic of cooks, although she can whip up a damn fine pavlova. My grandmother taught me how to bake but, overall, I’d call myself a self-taught cook. However, one of the recipes I did learn from Mum growing up was her pea and ham soup. There was no recipe as such; Mum just knew how to make it. I assume she learned from watching her mum, which is exactly how I learned too.

This is perfect winter fare. Thick, delicious, warming and satisfying. I loved coming in from the freezing cold, soaked and mud-smeared after a game of hockey or hair-covered and reeking of horse after a morning spent riding, and being served a great bowl of this soup with buttery toast. It was so damn homely. Nearly as good as a hot shower or a loving cuddle.

Mum always made her soup with bacon bones, but I use a smoked ham hock because I enjoy having all that gooey meat to chew on. Just make sure you allow plenty of cooking time so the meat completely falls away from the bone. I also occasionally substitute some of the soup mix for plain barley simply because I love the stuff.

Oh, and all quantities are variable. Adjust to however you prefer or to the ingredients you have on hand. As for how much this recipe makes… um, a lot. Enough at least to feed a ravenous family with some left over.

There you have it. A recipe even Heart of the Valley’s Nancy Burrows would be proud of.

So what are you waiting for? Go grab that stock pot and start simmering!



1 smoked ham hock

6 stalks celery, finely chopped

3 large carrots, diced

5 onions, peeled, halved and each half cut into thirds

Enough water to cover

300g soup mix (McKenzies)


Place ham hock, onions, carrots and celery into a stock pot and pour in enough water so the hock is covered. Place on the stove and simmer, lid on, for three hours or until the meat is falling off the bone and a good stock has developed, adding more water if necessary to ensure the hock is always covered.

Remove ham, peel off the skin and discard. Shred the meat, then return meat and bones to the pan. Test the soup for salt – usually quite a bit is required.

Add soup mix, and simmer with the lid on for another two hours or until the pulses are soft.

Serve piping hot with good crusty bread or hot buttered toast.


Now, my feasty lovelies, it’s giveaway time and what a prize I have on offer. Oh yes indeedy! One lucky commenter has the chance to win a signed copy of my brand spanking new release, Heart of the Valley, that vivid, moving and passionate book you see above, which is already earning rave reviews (I have proof!).

Winter is just around the corner (or already here if you live in Melbourne) and I’m on the hunt for some comfort food inspiration. Winter-perfect meals are what I’m after. Casseroles, puddings, soups – whatever makes your mouth water. Just share your favourite winter dish and you’ll be in the running to win a copy of Heart of the Valley. So get commenting!


I’m going to use my blog owner’s prerogative and add a few more days to the normal giveaway closing time so I can pimp this post and my book for longer. Hey, a girl has to do what she can! Anyway, this time you have until midnight, Thursday 3rd May, 2012 to leave your comment. Australian addresses only, sorry.

Now, in case you haven’t interacted enough with me yet, besides this blog I also play around on Twitter and Facebook, but only when I’m not hard at work daydreaming of bestsellerdom.


This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our lucky winner, Beck! Your copy of Heart of the Valley will be winging it’s way to you very soon. Thanks to all who entered. Some great comments as always.

Read Full Post »

Can you believe it? There’s only ONE sleep until my new rural romance, Heart of the Valley, releases.

I’m always amazed how quickly release date comes around. When the last edits are handed in you think it’s forever until release day, but then suddenly it’s racing toward you, bringing with it all the nerves and bubbly excitement that comes with knowing people will soon be buying, reading and commenting on your book.

I’m far more excited than nervous about Heart of the Valley because, quite frankly, I love this book. I love the characters, the emotion, the drama and the complex family relationships. I love how the animals are so integral to the story they’re almost characters in their own right. I adore the landscape of the Hunter Valley, viewed so passionately through the heroine, Brooke’s, eyes. I admire Brooke’s strength, her devotion to her friends, to her animals, to the property she loves. And I still have an embarrassingly monster-sized crush on the hero, Lachie. Sigh. I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from that man. He is one hell of a babe. Good thing he’s fictional or there might be trouble in the Hein household!

There have already been a few reviews.

The West Weekend Magazine’s Amanda Keenan had this to say:

Brooke Kingston is a pure-bred horsey girl soaring to great heights in the saddle. But a tragic twist of fate robs the agile rider of her confidence, and life as she knows it. Cue a love triangle including an old friend and a brooding man with a complicated history who will seek to salve her wounded soul and get her back in the saddle – so to speak. This sounds like the master stock for a rural romance recipe because it is. But that’s not a criticism – there’s something wonderfully absorbing about a rough and ready country yarn heavy with heartache, which weaves in complex family relationships, our gorgeous environment and a bit of raunchy rainstorm sex. Yee ha!

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald also had a large spread on rural lit, with Heart of the Valley reviewed alongside Fiona Palmer’s fabulous The Road Home, Fleur McDonald’s Purple Roads and Margareta Osborn’s Bella’s Run. In other words, pretty illustrious company!

Heart of the Valley is shown in great glory in this week’s BigW catalogue alongside Karly Lane’s Morgan’s Law, which also releases this week. Okay, so that’s not exactly a review but it still gives me a complete attack of the warm fuzzies.

Much to my surprise, I also received a gorgeous review for Promises this week which appeared in the Ipswich Advertiser.

Australian author Cathryn Hein had me from the first page and I’m sure anyone who likes romance novels without bodice ripping or cliché phrases will also love this story.

Lastly, I have a lot of blog visits coming up, some with giveaways, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those. You can currently find me at Booktopia, answering their Nine Naughty Questions and on Mandy Magro’s Awesome Aussie Authors segment. Friday I’ll be here for Friday Feast sharing a favourite winter-perfect soup recipe I nicked from my mum and giving away a copy of Heart of the Valley to one lucky commenter.

Yup, it’s all happening!

Before I go I’d like to leave you with a few photos from our time in France. Jim and I were fortunate enough to attend two ANZAC Days on the Somme, as well as the Service of Reinterment of four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003 and reburied in an incredibly moving ceremony at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, near the Belgian border.

Dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux is one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had and one I will never forget.

View from the tower

Australian National Memorial, Villers Bretonneux, France

An unknown soldier of the Great War

Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Passchendaele, Belguim.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.  There are now 11,956 soldiers buried here, 8,369 are unidentified.  This photo doesn’t do any justice to the heart-breaking scale of the place.

Reinterment for the four Australian soldiers whose remains were found near Merris in 2003

Outtersteen Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France

Lest we forget

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »