Monday, 21 September 2020

Romance Novels and the Languages of Love

by Enisa Haines

Romantic love, as often shown in romance novels, is a complex mix of emotions, attitudes and convictions linked with warmth, closeness, attraction and a deep desire for another person. But what makes a person, or a character in a romance novel, feel loved? In The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts Dr Gary Chapman proposes that people feel loved when that love is received in one of five different ways:

Words of affirmation - one partner tells the other they love them or compliments them or encourages them, communication and talking all-important. In Kylie Scott's The Rich Boy, rich boy Beck quotes Jane Austen and makes waitress Alice laugh. How can she resist him?  

Quality time - both partners spend time together with no distractions. In Marilyn Forsyth's The Farmer's Perfect Match, reality show PA Evangeline is determined to help find farmer Adam the ideal partner but close proximity has her falling in love with him.

Acts of Service - one partner does things for the other that they know the other will like, showing that actions speak louder than words. In Kelly Hunter's Maggie's Run, cowboy-next-door Max challenges elusive Maggie to live at her inherited property for three months. She doesn't love the place but can he as farm manager change her mind?

Physical touch - one partner holding the other's hands, or kissing them, feeling connected through touch. In Anna Campbell's Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed, to save her sister's life, Sidonie submits to a terrible fate, seduction by the notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel Jonas. But, defying all logic, seven sinful nights brings a new, fragile love.

Receiving gifts - one partner gives the other a meaningful, thoughtful gift, showing appreciation. In  Sarah Mayberry's Her Favourite Temptation, sexy musician Will tempts 'always the good sister' Leah with beautiful songs and a seize-the-day attitude. A powerful connection she can't resist.

Whichever of the five love languages resonates with you, there are romance novels aplenty showing how love is expressed.

How do you feel loved? Do you read romance novels expressing love in that language?

Love to love - anything about love

Love to laugh - at YouTube funny videos

Love to learn - everything about the languages of love

Monday, 14 September 2020

Guest Post - Cate Ellink - author and photographer

 By Cassandra Samuels

Please welcome author Cate Ellink also known as author Catherine Evans to the blog this week. 

Cate Ellink writing also as Catherine Evans

Cate Ellink’s first publication was an erotic short story in 2011. Since then she’s published a variety of erotic and erotic romance short stories and novels. Her novel, Team Player, won the ARRA Favourite Erotic Romance in 2017.

In 2020, writing has taken a bit of a backseat. Cate’s been using photography to focus on little things in the world around her, that bring joy in these tumultuous times.

What is one ‘must have’ when you are writing?

Silence. I want to be lost in my story and undisturbed by the world.

What are you reading at the moment?

Women Who Run With The Wolves, by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés and I’m loving it.

Name one thing you’re scared of.


Like to share something that recently made you happy?

This morning there are 4 newly hatched baby plovers greeting the day. The parents have been nesting on my roof.

Like to share an embarrassing moment?

Oh, gosh, these happen far too often, I’m a bit immune to them now. My nephew has a collection of photographs of me making a goofy face (unknowingly!) – one day he thinks he’ll sell them 😊

Who is your favourite literary crush?

Markus Zusak, Keri Arthur, Alex Miller, Tim Winton, Anna Campbell, and Anne Gracie.

What is the last photo you took with your phone?

The family of plovers in my yard.

If you were the main character in your favourite book, who would you be?

I’ve loved so many books I don’t think I could pick a favourite.

What is the premise of your latest book?

I just did a photo book, which was a new thing for me. The title is Pockets of Joy and the premise is finding joy in the nature around you…even when life’s tough.

Buy this book here:

What unique challenges did the book pose?

Although I’d made holiday photos into books, I’d never done one for ‘publication’ so I had to learn who printed such things, what size pages were available, how much it cost, and what quality the paper and printing was, and how to stick photos into a book that others might find attractive and informative.

What are you working on at the moment?

2020 is a year of change, so I’m working on a few things that aren’t typical Cate or Catherine stories. I’ve got a non-fiction in the works, a children’s book, and an Australian historical reimagining.

What is your writing schedule? Morning, afternoon or night?

I used to be a night owl, but my life’s been flipped and I’m up seeing sunrises, so my writing time has turned to sleeping. Now I’m scribbling when I can.

Buy from here:

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?

I think I’m in between but more to the pantsing end. My brain has a rough plot but I never write it out. I write, and as my characters develop, I learn the story with them. And then I go back and make it a story and not a mess (which it often is!).

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you like to see in the cast?

I write Australian stories, so I’d always hope for an Aussie cast.

What do you love to love?

Nature in all its splendour.

What do you love to laugh at?

Life, the universe, kids and animals’ antics. I laugh a fair bit at myself too.

What do you love to learn about?

Everything and anything. I’m an insatiable knowledge-seeker.

Information about the photobook, Pockets of Joy, can be found here:

Please feel free to join the Facebook group, Little Things, and pick up a free e-magazine each month, filled with little bits of joy and happiness.

Monday, 7 September 2020


 Hello my precious people and hello spring, you are both lovely!

Time to spring clean! I shifted a few shelves in my TBR (To Be Read) section, and discovered some extremely exciting and swoonworthy books I'm ashamed to say I haven't read! Don't judge, I'm sure you also have *cough* hundreds waiting for you, too. My excuse is I think mine multiply in the dark at night, being romances and all.

But omigosh, I found so much treasure waiting for me.

First up, the very patient and lovely Narelle Atkins sent me her inspirational Snowgum Creek series some time ago. I love Narelle. She's an inspiration not only in her books but in her life, and I feel terrible I haven't read this gorgeous sweet series yet. Now I've unearthed them I can't wait to start. The first sentence refers to runaway bride Kate: She had to escape now!... Wow, what an opener. Thanks so much Narelle. (Sorry I've taken so long!)

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Next, I discovered four beautiful bride books by Nora Roberts. Gasp! New-to-me Nora books, unread - happy day! I feel like someone just gave me a birthday present! Everyone loves a bride book, don't they? Oh, the utter romance and wonderful-ness of a wedding. The first in the quartet - yes, four bride books with four wedding planner friends, is Vision in White. This is going to be good...

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What next? Happily, readers, I won the following book in a competition from the fabulous Catherine Evans - oh dear, yes, a while ago. Never read but not forgotten. It's a spectacular 3-in-1 anthology, a teeny weeny hard to find now, so absolute gold on my shelf. Catherine's story is called The Healing Season, and there are books by Jennie Jones: A Heart Stuck on Hope, and Lisa Ireland: Honey Hill House. So much rural romance goodness in one book! Lucky, lucky me.

Picture credit: Catherine Evans

Here's a rediscovered blast from the past: Heartstrings by beloved author Rebecca Paisley. I found not one, not two, but three copies on my shelf. (Super reluctantly let one precious paper copy go because I do have an ebook as well...) Time to reread this little gem, published back in the 1990s. Not that I was alive then or anything. 😉 (Yes, I was.) This is a wild west story, where a prim spinster hires a wild west tough guy to sire her baby, so she can give the little one to her childless sister. So much tenderness and fierce family love right there. There's also a talking parrot that reduced me to helpless laughter every time it opened its mouth. Beak. I love this book, so it's going back onto the TBR pile. I'm sure it'll stand the test of time.

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I'm going to cheat here and at least claim some success with my TBR. I plucked forth and enjoyed a recent Aussie historical romance, Alison Stuart's splendid The Postmistress, mainly because the next book in the series, The Goldminer's Sister has also just been released. The loosely linked books are set on the Australian goldfields in the 1870s. Yes please, I simply can't get enough of that era. It was truly a fascinating slice of history and romance, with lots of colourful characters, an intrepid heroine, and the best and the worst of the Australian bush thrown in. Such gripping reading, thanks Alison.

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Last but not least, there's a brand new addition to the TBR I'm very excited about. I won a book from wonderful Aussie author Darry Fraser - Elsa Goody, Bushranger, set in 1896 South Australia. Our Elsa appears to be on a quest for buried treasure, and her freedom, and embarks on a perilous quest to find Ezekial Jones, the last man to see her brother alive. More exciting colonial history. Thank you Darry, you wonderful author you, and also thanks to Alli Sinclair, who featured the comp for the book on her blog. Lucky me.

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So! Do you have a massive, teetering, years old TBR pile like me? Or are you one of those brilliant readers who manages to read everything on your shelf before you get distracted by more shiny new romance?

Confess.... No judging here.

Lots of love dear readers, and please stay safe and well,

Miranda xxx

Love to Love:
My TBR. True treasures await. You?

Love to Laugh:
At funny books, like Heartstrings. You?

Love to Learn:
How you manage your TBR. Random/blind selections, whatever suits your mood, or another method? 

Monday, 31 August 2020

Why Don't More Men Read Romance Novels?

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

My husband is an avid reader. He's frequently asked whether or not he reads my novels and the answer is a resounding ‘No.’ Now, he’s a pretty romantic guy who has penned me quite a bit of verse over the last 30+ years for special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day) and they’ve been better than any Hallmark Card he could’ve bought.

I have never asked him to read my contemporary romances because I know if he did he’d simply shake his head at them—wouldn’t be able to relate to all the emotional push-pull and would probably have a very cut and dried unemotional way to get the hero and heroine together on page 1. (Men are from Mars and Women are From Venus!!)

I insisted he read my medieval romances (after all the first is dedicated to him and he is the Knight of My Heart!) and his comments were that it was ‘pretty good’, that I wrote ‘hot sex scenes’ and that ‘there was way too much introspection’. He explained that men don’t think like that—they don’t ‘go back and forward and think about all the things that could be’ they just ‘pick a course of action and go for it’!! Well, there’s one male perspective.

According to the Romance Writers of America, 18% of romance readers who took one of their recent surveys identified as male. Of course it may be that an even greater percentage of romance readers are men and aren’t RWA members. Maybe there are some who do read romance and don’t admit it?

                                                      (Below image courtesy of Pixabay)

I know I have male readers and reviewers. I also know that there are many women who would never pick up a romance novel just as I know there are plenty of male romance authors and that there have even been romance books written by a husband and wife team. But why don’t more men read romance?
Here are a few reasons that have been suggested in a plethora of articles on the topic ...

1.   Some may be afraid of censure for reading romance because romance is stigmatised and many believe the novels are associated with femininity or they simply don’t understand what romance novels are about. This may tie in with societal conditioning with subconscious conditioning that they shouldn’t read romances?

2.     They may be daunted by the fabulous qualities of the hero in romance novels and believe it is too much to live up to?

3.    They may feel that the female protagonists are too strong and too independent?  

4.    The majority of romance books are written by women and so men may feel that the male POV is skewed?   
                                                              (Below image courtesy of Giphy)

5.    Reading may be too cerebral  and not visceral enough for some men?

6.     Fewer men than women read novels regardless of the genre?

7.     They may feel that romance novels are unrealistic?

It’s funny to me, though, that so many other genres have romantic elements to them. Tom Clancy’s character Jack Ryan developed a romance with a doctor who became his wife and there’s plenty of romance in Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth and in George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. I wonder if male readers skipped over the development of the romances in these novels? To my mind the developing romances made them much more interesting and realistic!

Love to Love: Men who are proud romance readers!

Love to Laugh: At some of the disparaging comments I’ve heard men (and women) make about romance novels. (Gotta laugh!)

Love to Learn: Why do you think that the number of female romance readers far outweighs the number of male romance readers?

Monday, 24 August 2020

Prologues - Love Them or Hate Them?

 By Cassandra Samuels

It is said that Editors dislike them, new authors don’t know how to use them and readers either love them or hate them. My opinion is…it depends. 

Prologues have their place, but they have to be there for the right reasons. That is where new authors often get it wrong. They often don’t truly understand the true job of a prologue and how to execute one correctly. Like a lot of writing, it is an art to be mastered.

So, what exactly is a prologue?

The Oxford Dictionary describes the prologue as: A separate introductory section of a literary, dramatic, or musical work.
Or in other words a part of the story that comes before the main story in some way.

So how do so many get it so wrong?

A lack of knowledge is most often the case so:
  • Avoid info dumps. You don't need to tell everything.
  • Avoid writing a scene that creates atmosphere but has nothing to do with the story.
  • Avoid explosions and fireworks to make up for a dull or slow first chapter
A prologue can:
  • be in a different POV than the rest of the book. 
    • It can be from the villian's POV, 
    • the setting's POV or 
    • even another character's POV.  
The significance of starting with a different perspective should become apparent at some point in the novel otherwise you are leading your reader astray.

Here are two examples of prologues that really work. I recommend you read them.

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

The Dry by Jane Harper

Both these prologues demonstrate how powerful a prologue can be.

In Lord of Scoundrels it is a necessary explanation of the hero's life leading up to where the story really begins, but it is done in such a way as you are only told what you really need to know.

In The Dry it sets up the mystery of the story in a way that is evocative and chilling. Both authors have represented their chosen genre in wonderful ways.

So, do you love or hate a prologue?
Do you have a favourite? Please share in the comments.

Love to Love - finding new authors to read.
Love to Laugh - at my granddaughter learning to clap.
Love to Learn - New things at our annual RWAustralia conference. 

Monday, 17 August 2020

Multiple Time Lines

 by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Hi everyone and it’s lovely to be here again.


I’ve just started writing a couple of new stories and I noticed that I’m beginning to use multiple time lines more often. I really love that you can give so much depth by using different time lines.

In my latest book, The McCalister Legacy the contemporary story of Berry McCalister coming back to her hometown as an adult is the main focus. She hasn’t been back to Harlington since her family was ripped apart by tragedy when she was a child. However, I also used two additional time periods to add more dimensions and maybe even give the reader a hint of what is actually going on.  The first is in 2007 when Berry is a child and the second is from 1906.

I used dual time lines in Lawson’s Bend as well. The main story takes place in 2018 and the second time line is from ten years earlier. In this book the second time line reveals what happened and you are given an insight into the thoughts and the actions of the characters at that time. This helps to add weight to how they react in the present story line.

Personally, I always get a kick out of reading and writing different time lines. I have to admit I love the 1906 story within The McCalister Legacy. It’s about a little kid who follows a rabbit, gets a bit lost and discovers … well, I guess that that bit is a secret.

So what do you think? Do you have a favourite dual time line story? 

I love to watch Korean dramas (no, seriously they’re great and if you’re a hopeless/hopeful romantic like me, you’ll love them too. Thank goodness for Netflix!)

I love to laugh with my family over a good comedy

I love to learn anything new – from a skill, to a recipe to a new language.

Author Bio: A lover of the quiet and peaceful surrounds of the Australian countryside, Nicole Hurley-Moore lives with her family in a rural town in the Victorian Central Highlands and writes full-time. A fan of happily-ever-afters, she writes contemporary rural stories but being a closet medievalist has her occasionally dabbling in the odd medieval tale. Other works by Nicole are McKellar's Run, Hartley's Grange, Country Roads and White Gum Creek.

You can find Nicole on social media at:





Monday, 10 August 2020

A Wedding Love Affair

by Jayne Kingsley

I love weddings. The dress, the music, the ambiance… put a wedding dress on the cover of a book and I’m guaranteed to buy it. There’s just something intrinsically romantic about it to me.

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I’ve recently finished writing a book for an ongoing series called the No Brides Club. I believe my release will be book number 16 in the series, so I guess you could safely say there are others out there that also share my love of wedding-related romance reads. 

(Shameless self-promotion alert! Please feel free to check out the books in the series Here

Image Credit: Amazon

So today—I thought I’d share some of my most favourite wedding related books. Let’s kick off with my all-time favourite: 


Nora Roberts Bride Quartet Series

“Series blurb:

Childhood friends Mackensie, Parker, Laurel and Emmaline have formed a very successful wedding planning business together but, despite helping thousands of happy couples to organise the biggest day of their lives, all four women are unlucky in love.” (Amazon)

I mean, who doesn’t love these books? Four amazing friends, starting a business together—a childhood dream come true. Bonus, they each fall in love with their perfect men. I stumbled across these books when I was planning my wedding so they hold a special place in my heart because of that, but honestly, they are the type of books I can always pick up and get lost in, no matter how often I’ve read them. 

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Catherine Bybee Weekday Brides Series

A premier matchmaking firm where love isn’t part of the deal. Until it is. Catherine Bybee has been a long-time favourite author of mine: part of my list of one clicks. Her books just draw me in. I warn you though; they aren’t a pick up and put down type of book (at least not for me). I always ensure I’ve got a day carved out before I start one, otherwise I know I’ll be cranky if I get pulled away from them. Bonus: there are seven books in the series. 

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Denise Grover Swank The Wedding Pact Series

“Series blurb:

When Megan, Blair, and Libby were in the fourth grade, they swore they would get married by their thirtieth birthday and include the other two in their weddings. Now, coincidentally, twenty years later, two of the women are engaged and have weddings within months of each other in their hometown of Blue Springs, Missouri. What they all forgot was the fortune teller at a local festival who warned all three their weddings would be a disaster.” (Amazon)

These are fun, delightful, humourous contemporary romances that will have you going back for more. I mean, what’s a wedding without a little drama?

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So these are some of my favourites. I’d love to know yours if you have any?

I love to love... playing barbie weddings with my two daughters.

I love to laugh... at the chatter that occurs during the weddings (there are many people coming down with a virus!)

I love to learn... how bees make honey. Nothing like a rainy weekend to bring out the educational video’s.