Monday 28 September 2020

Surprise Box: Five random things keeping me entertained during the pandemic

By Kristine Charles

Hello Romancelandia

It’s the four-hundred and thirty second day of who knows what month in the year 2032… no, seriously and, even as I sit to write this, I’m not sure whut iz wrds?

You all know what I’m talking about, right?

2020 has been a ride. 

And it ain’t done with us yet.

Borders are still closed, international flights are still grounded, people still aren’t wearing masks and washing their hands, and my employer’s just cancelled all of our end of year events (what a Grinch!)

And so, when I started thinking about the blog for this month, I started thinking about what might ease that slide into the holiday/New Year period. And I decided to share with you all the five random things keeping me going during the pandemic.

1. Spring has sprung

Sun. Pretty flowers. Daylight Saving. Bring it all on. At least I can shift the work desk in the backyard to work and not freeze my tail off! And I can head out into the yard with the Kindle and a coffee… see #2.

2. Books

So, the day job requires me to be on the computer, and the writing gig requires me to be on the computer, which means I’m often on the computer procrastinating on Amazon.

Some of my new finds are:

Naughty Brits

The idea for this anthology was, apparently, conceived by the authors while drinking in a hot tub while on a writing retreat.

That right there suggests quality content!

And the stories deliver. Connected through a one-night gala at the British Museum, each of the stories also stands on its own and progressively grow in heat level. This anthology also includes Sarah MacLean’s first foray into contemporary (and hopefully not her last).

Great, quick, escapist reads (my personal fave is #3 Not a Bad Boy by Louisa Edwards).

The One That Got Away

The latest from Karina Halle.

have to admit, I kinda wanted to grab Ruby (the heroine) and shake her until she grew up… but the story is quite the rollercoaster* and Luciano is quite lovely! And Karina writes beautifully (with some spicy sex). Worth a read (and her earlier novel, The Forbidden Man is also a fantastic read).

* I promise there is a HEA.

Katee Roberts’ Wicked Villians Series

This is a six-book, dark erotic romance series with the last book due out on 10 November 2020… and warning, this series is hot.

Set in and around a ‘neutral-ground’ BDSM club centred in a city run by different crime syndicates, all of the villians and other characters (loosely based on various Disney characters) are out for something. My personal fave in this series is currently A Worthy Opponent (Hook and Tinkerbell!) but, if you like your heat level set to scorching (noting that there are also some dark themes in these stories - but all consensual) this entire series is for you.


3. Silly Zoom backgrounds

If you’re spending a substantial number of hours every day on Microsoft Teams (or Zoom, or whichever platform you use) having video meetings with people you’re not allowed to be within 1.5 metres of… random and funny backgrounds make everything feel a little lighter.

Currently I'm working through a series of Hogwarts themed images, but every so often I throw up a padded cell, or a mug-shot background. Or the cover of Cosmopolitan. Or a picture of my office (that one feels very much like Inception!).

4. Gabriel’s Inferno

If you’ve not yet heard of Passionflix, you should. Passionflix is romance-movie-Netflix and they’re currently releasing a three-part film adaptation of the book Gabriel’s Inferno. The first two are currently available to watch and the third part is due for release on 19 November.

If you’ve not read Gabriel’s Inferno (and it’s sequels Gabriel’s Rapture, Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Promise), do it! It's a great read (I love a Professor/Student romance). And then you can binge watch the first movie in its three part entirety in November. Passionflix is great because it works with the reader in mind -  the adaptations are really faithful to the books on which they are based - and they're always careful to include all the little romantic bits that other movie makers might miss (hands touching, toes curling etc!)

5. Memes

Finally, who hasn’t enjoyed the cornucopia of memes that have blessed us during the pandemic. Three of my faves are:

(Memes sourced from the interwebs)

So, tell me in the comments below, what’s keeping you going during the pandemic?

Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love… shirtless Jason Momoa (yes, I'm feeling just a little shallow!)

I love to laugh… at great memes.

I love to learn… about great new books.

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?