The Runaway Christmas Blog

Oh Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree

This post is part of the Coastal Christmas Blog Hop. I’m feeling a little bit of a fraud because while my story is set at Christmas time, there is no coast in sight, only a river that eventually leads to the ocean.

If you want to track down all the fabulous authors and check out their blog posts you should click here.Don’t forget to enter the Raffecopter to get your awesome prize of a $150 Amazon gift card and more than 30 eBooks from the participating authors.


So, this is my turn.

For most of us, Christmas holds memories, some good, perhaps some not so good.

Memory is a powerful thing. It takes us through time. Through memory we can relive the past. It is our memories that help define who we are. We carry our memories into the future, but only so far.

When I think of Christmas as a child, I have some vivid memories that remain clear even after fifty years.

One of my few photographs of my mother with me as a baby.


My mother with her little sister.

My mother was a dressmaker in my early years and I remember when I was around four, she made me a ballet tutu out of red taffeta and tule with a vee of sequins down the front. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I can see the glow of the taffeta and the sparkle of the sequins in my memory.  I also remember how tragic it was when I spilled cordial on it and it had to be washed. It was never quite the same afterwards.

The following Christmas, my mother made me school uniforms, which weren’t quite as rapturously received. But she did do something amazing. She found a tumble weed and decorated it as a personalised Christmas Tree using the smallest size balls and fine lengths of tinsel. It looked amazing. At least it does in my memory. There are no photos, even in black and white, because the following year, our house burned down.

The sad thing is that my mother probably doesn’t remember. Her memories are mostly from her childhood now. I’m the only person holding those memories.


My little Christmas story is about Holly, who loses her memory after an accident. When Ori finds her, he can’t believe she doesn’t remember the powerful connection between them. With his help, she finds those memories and discovers who she is, piece by piece.

If you’d like to read the story, all the links are here.



Yesterdays Blog

Tomorrows Blog






Cover Reveal for Kari Lemor’s Debut


Hi Peoples. Long time no see…post…whatever. I’m posting this because Kari is a friend who I met as an aspiring writer. Now she is on the road to having her debut story published so it’s all very exciting.


WILD CARD UNDERCOVER                                                                                              book #1 in the Love on the Line series

By Kari Lemor

Published by Kensington Lyrical Underground – March 2017
 All that glitters in Miami is not gold…

Lured in by a bad ex-boyfriend and the moonlight of Miami, Meg O’Hara is trapped in a nightmare situation, waiting tables for a crime boss and fearing for her life. When undercover FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out, she seizes it. Getting the goods on Salazar Moreno might not be easy, but she’ll do anything to be freed from her servitude and Moreno’s sexual advances, even if it means moving in with the charismatic agent.

Chris Shaunessy pretends to be Meg’s lover in order to keep her safe, but he steels his heart against further involvement. Passion has no place in the sordid world of organized crime. And yet, the closer they get to cracking the case, the stronger his feelings for the spirited waitress shine. It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, and taking Meg in his arms for real could prove a fatal misstep . . .





Chapter 1


“Does that man never have a day off?” Margaret Kathleen O’Hara grumbled, grabbing her tote bag and sarong to move surreptitiously along the chairs by the pool. If the hotel manager saw her here again she’d be toast. He’d more than toss her out. Threats to call the police had been thrown at her for months now. Although in her case, that might be a better deal.

With her eyes trained on his location and the Miami sun beating down on her exposed skin, Meg backed along the water’s edge attempting to leave the area before he spotted her. She needed to shower the chlorine out of her tangled hair and change for work soon. He looked in her direction and she rushed behind the closest object. It was six-foot-plus of blond-haired gorgeousness. The man’s eyes were glued to something on the upper deck. Her boss was sitting there with one of his expensive bimbos. Did Blondie like that type? Maybe he wouldn’t notice her little game of Hide and Seek.

She leaned around him, ducking back when she saw the Pool Nazi still present. Getting caught was not an option. She already owed more than she could ever repay.

“Are you okay?” Forest green eyes stared down at her, puzzled. Would he buy that she was simply looking for shade? He was big enough to provide it.

With strong hands, he reached for her shoulders and Meg reflexively batted them away. She got enough of people groping her at work. Scorching curses froze before erupting from her mouth as the hotel manager moved, staring in their direction. Her mind kicked into overdrive, scrambling for a way to hide in plain sight.

“Sorry,” she squeaked. Grabbing the man’s head, she planted her mouth solidly on his. Short, thick strands of hair tickled her fingers. Firm lips yielded no resistance to the increased pressure of her mouth. Better make this look good.

An electric current skittered over her skin causing her heart to race. Maybe too good? Slowly he pulled her closer with his muscular arms. Her eyes flew open and she broke the connection. His hair-covered chest was too close for comfort. And much too tempting. Distance, she needed distance.

Her eyes darted around, seeing no signs of the manager. A sigh escaped. Time to make her exit as well.

“Sorry,” she mumbled again, looking up. Big mistake. The stranger’s curious eyes captivated her. They were soft and tender and filled with something she could…trust? If she still had any of that left in her. His hands were gentle as they held her. A tiny smile played about the full lips she’d brazenly kissed. She couldn’t believe she’d done it. Her mother would be appalled. But it had worked.

The chlorine scent from the pool faded into the background as sweat and suntan lotion wafted off the man’s damp skin. Her stomach did cartwheels followed by a few back flips. Dangerous.

“Let me go,” she hissed as reality returned. She gave a swift shove at his well-defined pectorals, rushing to get past, to escape from this distraction and the possibility of being caught. Her head whipped around at the sound of a splash and water droplets from behind. Gorgeous was just breaking the surface of the pool. Had she pushed him that hard?

“Oops.” No time for apologies. He looked like the forgiving type. She had to blow this joint before the Pool Nazi came back. Grabbing her fallen sarong, she ran across the deck to hustle inside the luxury hotel.


The manager stood sentry near the front door. A crowd appeared at her back making that way impossible. The stairwell to the left would have to do. She’d go up a few floors then down to the side entrance. She wrapped her sarong around her as she carried out her plan to avoid being seen…and caught.

Meg should stop coming here to use the pool: this proved it. Sneaking in was adding to her already hellish life but swimming always helped work out the stress and the pool here was more accessible than any other on the strip. Pretending she had money to stay in a place like this, rubbing elbows with all the beautiful people, yeah, that got her through too. She’d learned the best times to come and not be seen. Well, for the most part. It was well worth the risk to get away from her dump of a room and its enchanting neighborhood. She’d leave this all behind her soon. She kept telling herself that. Had to believe it for her own sanity.

Footsteps behind her pushed those thoughts away. Her bare feet padded silently along the lushly carpeted hallway. Heart racing, she ducked into the ice machine alcove, her sigh echoing in the silence. She glanced down. Her bag? She must have dropped it as she rushed off. How had she not realized? It couldn’t have been the threat of being arrested. Or the crooked smile of the handsome stranger she’d kissed. The one with the kind eyes and gentle hands. No, she couldn’t allow herself to be led astray by a pretty face. Not again.

She continued down the hall, her trip cut short when someone grabbed her by the arm and spun her around.

* * * *


Links to all pre-order retailers can be accessed on the Kensington site

For more information on Kari Lemor or her Love on the Line series from Kensington Lyrical Underground, follow her on social media.

Like a Virgin

Loner guy (special virgin edition) + free time x crisis of the soul + scorching hot pole dancer lust = unexpectedly beautiful sexy relationship.

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Amazon Link on pic

There are stacks of new books coming out today, but of course the one I’m going to get excited about is the one with a virgin. Not just any virgin. A male virgin. Yes, the hero is a virgin. The heroine is a pole dancer and I’m pretty sure she is NOT going to be a virgin.

The book is Offensive Behavior, part of a new series by Ainslie Paton. I haven’t read all her books but I certainly own them with the intention of reading them. The ones I have read are fascinating. The main reason I haven’t read them all is because they are mostly big books and I read according to time slots because I want my Happy Ever After in one sitting. For this reason I read mostly category romance or novellas and Paton writes romance that is definitely nothing like category. But there is something so real about her characters it’s a little bit scary. Hyper-real if you believe her tag line and I do.

Here is the blurb:

Everyone is virgin at something

This is the story of a man who’s never done it, and a woman with the experience to teach him how.

Reid McGrath is drunk and intends to stay that way. It’s what a man does when the world he built gets ripped out from under him. He’s staked a claim on the back booth at Lucky’s where he can fixate on a dancer who makes him wish things were different.

Zarley Halveston dances under shimmering lights in a barely there costume, but it’s not the gold medal life she trained for. She expected to stand on an Olympic podium, instead she glitters under disco lights, gyrating on a chrome pole.

Zarley can’t see the brooding man in the back booth, but she knows he’s there. He’s toxic, but it’s not her job to care, until the night he collapses at her feet and she has to choose to step over him or help him up.

Reid thought he’d hit bottom when he was fired as CEO of his own company, but kZarleynowing he’d needed the kindness of a stranger, and realizing she was the dancer he’d lusted after was a new low.

Question: What do a fallen golden girl turned exotic dancer and a sacked, socially awkward tech tycoon have in common?

Answer: A deep understanding of failure and the whiplash sting of humiliation, a need to re-build their dreams and the sexual education of a frustrated geek.

Amazon Oz


And here is a specially super duper hint about the heroine in book two of the series coming later in the year around the end of July. It’s almost like she wrote this series specially for me.

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Publication Day pronounced a Beautiful Disaster


Finally our Beautiful Disaster has happened. A few hiccups on the way delayed the release on line but the party went on regardless. We are all about the disasters and we know not to panic.  Don’t get confused if you don’t see my name in the listing as some sites can’t cope with six authors and I was lucky last. I’m on the cover and in the book. Also last…like a delicious dessert or perhaps the after dinner mints with a glass of something warming.

This has been a labour of love for all the authors involved and I’ve read and loved all the stories. I hope you do too.



Beautiful Disaster is a collection of six contemporary romances from rising names in the Transparentromance genre and talented newcomers.

Parched Earth by award-winning Escape Publishing author M.A. Grant – A prodigal son returns to his drought-stricken hometown for his nana’s funeral, only to discover the girl he loved and left behind isn’t about to let him slip away again.

Stranded on Savior Peak by Carina UK author Gina Rochelle – A divorce attorney-turned-author and his editor’s assistant find love in a raging hurricane.  But is this promising new bond stronger than the aftermath that threatens to tear them apart?

Island Encounter by Alice J. Miller – Justice, revenge and fear are ripping a couple apart, but when a volcanic eruption destroys everything in its path, will their love be enough to keep them alive.

Unstable Ground by Kensington Lyrical author Kari Lemor –  A rejected suitor finds himself trapped by an earthquake with the woman who turned down his proposal.  Will their forced proximity help them realize they belong together or will their rekindled feelings die with them?

Snowbound with the Stork by 2015 Maggie Award for Excellence winner Carrie Nichols – A freak storm traps a surly sheriff with his very pregnant ex. Can he convince her to give him another chance or will his secret destroy them both?

Swept AwaBDlargewordswagy by Fiona Marsden  – Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive.  Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.  





Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

It’s also available on iTunes and will be on Kobo and B&N

It’s been a while but I have an excuse.

In Real Life

I told you I had an excuse. I had a tummy ache. It turned out to be an ulcer but the fun part was I got to go and have some tests. The ultrasound was fun. I met a premmy baby and several pregnant women in the waiting room and, shy little flower that I am, I chatted with all of them. I discovered I do have a gallstone but not a problem one…yet. I also saw all my insides and so I’m pretty confident there is nothing there that is likely to kill me soon. I’m sure you are all relieved about that. The attention seeker hypochondriac in me was a smidgen disappointed.

The next fun thing was the gastroscopy. By that time I was feeling pretty ordinary and I forgot to say hello to my charming surgeon with the Scottish accent. Instead I demanded to be put to sleep immediately. So he sent me a delicious anaesthetist who did so pretty promptly. He held my hand. It was so romantic and inspiring so you can understand why I love writing about medical heroes.

Arc Reading

I didn’t do any proper ARC reading. I did get to read the ARCs from the Beautiful Disaster Anthology coming out soon (see below) and they were lovely. While I was sick, I read and reread lots of vintage by Carole Mortimer, Penny Jordan, Susan Napier and the original Presents wounded hero megastar, Violet Winspear. Better than Prozac.

Movies I’ve Seen

I went with Mother Dearest thailcaesaro see Hail Caesar  howtobesingleby the Coen Brothers. Seriously, there is something for everyone. If you are a fan of fifties Hollywood movies you will be like a pig in mud. There is even a little noirish touch as a thread running through the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it and Mother Dearest probably felt like she’d fallen into a time vortex and was reliving her teen years.

While I was by myself in Brizvegas, I watched How to be Single starring Dakota Johnson. This was largely a research event but I did enjoy the movie. It was more chick lit than strictly romance with an ensemble cast led by Dakota. She was very good in a role that had certain similarities to her character in the 50SoG movie but with only a passing millionaire and no red room.

ThTriple9e final movie I watched this month was Triple 9. I hadn’t heard of this until I rolled up at the cinema with a couple of hours to kill and a free movie pass to use. The impressive ensemble cast persuaded me. Kate Winslet as a Russian Mafia wife? You had me right there. It was a fascinating story, reminiscent of Fargo but with a touch of Tarantino.







What I’m Writing

The Fabulous cover design by Author Jan Meredith

The Sekrit Project, now called “Swept Away”, is finally finished and will be published on the 20th March as part of the Beautiful Disaster Anthology. This project started a couple of years ago with a group of aspiring writers who met on the Harlequin discussion boards. M.A. Grant is a published author with several books under her belt and Gina Rochelle’s debut book came out just before Christmas 2015. Kari Lemor has some other anthology work behind her and the rest of the team have some interesting things coming up in the future.

A Sunstone Pendant

Most of you would know by now that I have two short stories coming out in the Romance Writers of Australia Little Gems Anthology in August. I was in the top 14 for both my entries so I was incredibly excited. This years Gem is Sunstone and I did a historical and a contemporary story based around the stone.

My Road Trip Baby story on Wattpad has been hanging fire while I finished Swept Away and I hope to get another chapter up in the next few days. I also entered the Love Inspired Historical Manuscript Match competition at the end of February.  I’ve always been interested in the Love Inspired line but it is largely US based apart from some English Regency stories. I was fortunate enough to have my concept and first page picked to go through to the second round. I’m really looking forward to putting this story together but there is a timeline so I will have to be on target to make the next round deadline in early April. Whatever the outcome, I’m thinking I will learn a lot in the process.

What I’m Reading

I’m not going to have a lot of time for leisure reading over the next two weeks. I have been putting aside books for the Easter holidays and hopefully will catch up on some of my TBR piles. Yes, there are multiple TBR piles.


What if your days are Numbered

In Real Life

Amy Andrews, Me and Ros Baxter

I went to the launch of Numbered in Brisbane with my writing group pal Dakota Harrison. You might recall I mentioned I’d started reading Numbered last week. I was slow to get into it because I was frankly scared it would be a tough read because of the subject matter. I think most of us probably know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and not all of them have been happy outcomes.

Anyway, I got to meet the fabulous Amy Andrews and her sister Ros, who flew in from Canberra for the occasion. It was held at River City Labs, the space was donated for the occasion by Baxter sibling Steve from the Shark Tank television show.

There were a stack of other authors at the event so I had a lovely fangirl time.

ARC Review

Numbered by Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter.

I could tell you about this book like this…(sort of spoilers so you could skip it and go straight to the review if you likenumbered)

  1. Laugh
  2. Snigger
  3. Drool
  4. Belly Laugh
  5. Whimper
  6. Disbelief
  7. Laugh
  8. Giggle
  9. Sniffle
  10. Smirk
  11. Laugh
  12. Cry
  13. Denial
  14. Laugh
  15. Sigh
  16. Cry
  17. Snort Laugh
  18. Cry
  19. Smile
  20. Cry
  21. Bargain (this was where I killed the fairy)
  22. Snot Cry
  23. Guilty smile
  24. Cry
  25. Sob
  26. Anger
  27. Sob more
  28. Struggle to smile
  29. Depression
  30. Snot cry
  31. Sobbing snot crying
  32. Acceptance
  33. Making public spectacle crying
  34. Hopeful smile
  35. All Choked up.
  36. Still all choked up. *sniff*

I should have known better. Amy Andrews wrote a Medical romance called “How to Mend a Broken Heart” a few years ago and I still cry when I try and talk about it. She wrote Sister Pact with Ros and it was funny and sweet and romantic. I never thought they would combine to create a book that was funny and sweet and romantic and MAKE ME SNOT CRY THROUGH HALF THE DAMN BOOK. And this isn’t some measly little category book. This is a full size book so that is a lot of crying.

The story is about Poppy Devine who starts the book being tested for a lump in her breast. The same day she meets Quentin who works as a chef in the hospital by day and plays in a rock band by night. When he flirts with her, she invites him to do a sky jump with her. The first impulsive thing she probably did in her life.

The sky jump is number one on a bucket list Poppy drew up with her best friend Julia years ago. Number Ten is sex with a stranger. See where we are going with this?

I didn’t notice until we were well through the book that the story is pretty much told from Quentin and Julia’s point of view, not from Poppy’s, the heroine.

Quentin is an unlikely hero for Poppy, who is constantly being told to take risks by Julia. He’s quite a bit younger than Poppy and, in his mind as well as Julia’s, not someone for the long haul.

Julia has been Poppy’s other half for eighteen years, since they met at boarding school at eleven. She is strong, aggressive and totally devoted to Poppy.

This is not really a romance, but is a love story. *wipes tears*

The relationships between the three main characters, with Poppy’s mother and Quentin’s band mate Spike thrown in, are complex and real and imperfect, just as they are.

There is a lot of laughter and humour in the story, but there is also the spectre at the feast, the cancer that drives the momentum of the relationships. It is a very real look at the impact of cancer on not only the person involved, but those around them.

It is a hard book to read. *sniff* But it is also a beautiful story and so very worth it. It is real and magical and bloody brilliant. Anyone who can drag me willingly through that kind of emotional angst had some serious writing cred.

Review copy begged from the publisher because I knew it was going to be great.

Movies I’ve Seen

The same day I went to the Numbered launch, we went to see The Choice by Nicholas Sparks. I will admit that I Googled it pretty thoroughly to ensure it wasn’t one of those movies that ends with one or other of the hero and heroine dying. Overall, I really enjoyed it. There was some great dialogue between the good ol’ boy hero and the uptight doctor in training heroine.

It was one of those opposites attract stories that worked quite well in this case. The hero is a small town vet and the heroine has plans of joining her rich boy doctor boyfriend at a prestigious city clinic when they get married. There was the usual angst you would expect from Sparks but the ending was sweet.

I also watched Deadpool which was right on the other end of the spectrum. Loosely linked to the X-Men universe, Wade Wilson is a former special ops soldier who has been doing small time shakedowns of local bad guys. He meets a girl and is all set for his happy ending when he’s diagnosed with Cancer. He then undergoes a secret procedure a la Wolverine to cure the cancer and become a supersomething mutant.

Thinks don’t go as expected and he becomes Deadpool. This is an origins story in case you didn’t figure that out.

The thing about this movie is it was funny. Dead funny. Crude, sweary, violent, whatever. But funny. There was also that self deprecating humour that made fun of itself and lots of in jokes for the dedicated fans. Wade Wilson is The Merc with the Mouth and he proves it, all the way through. Oh and there is a love story. He says so. And the sound track is fabulous.

What I’m Writing

After reading Numbered I’m not sure if I want to even try to write anything. But hey, it took two of them to be so brilliant so maybe I can be half as good…or a quarter…a bit…whatever.

I’m still uploading my latest Wattpad story, Road Trip Baby. Up to chapter eight and still going. I’m only doing a couple of chapters a week with everything else that’s going on. Nearly finished my Sekrit Project so will be working on that this coming week.

I did start a new Medical story for the fast track but it’s not going to be finished in time so I’ll put it aside. After listening to Tessa Dares Spindle Cove series on recent trips, I’m tempted to go back to my historical partials. I’ve not had any success with my submissions for The Spy Who Saved Me, seven passes out of ten subs. If I get a full set I’ll put the Spy series aside and work on something else. I’m finding I’m not getting overly despairing after the initial couple of disappointments. At least I’m getting some feedback from Wattpad to stoke my ego.

What I’m Reading

Dived into a batch of Presents for research, and review, as you can see. I’m thinking I might do a Presents style book for SYTYCW16.

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Recent reviews

My NYCMidnight Short Story Entry

Apparently once our entry for the NYCMidnight Short Story Challenge is received, we can post our short story to get feedback.

Genre: Fairy Story

Subject: An Accusation

Character: A Bed and Breakfast Host

Title – The Littlest Fairy Godmother


Once upon a time, Cinderella met her prince charming, but things didn’t work out the way she expected. Now Sherry has met Zander again and he knows about the child she had after they parted, so with help from a very small fairy godmother, they may finally get their Happy Ever After.


“Once upon a time.”

Sherry was sick of those words. The only ones she hated more were the ones that came at the end of the storybooks her daughter loved. “And they lived Happily, Ever, After.”

All the same, she smiled as she closed the book and kissed her baby goodnight. At nearly four years old, it wouldn’t be long before she was off to school. Not a baby any more. She brushed the dark curls back from the damp forehead. It would be easier to push the memory of Zander into the past if Alexa didn’t look so much like him. Every day she had to confront those melting brown eyes, the firm jaw only slightly softened by her little girl face.

Downstairs she set the bread to rise for the breakfast rolls and checked over what else was needed for the morning. Only one couple were in residence tonight, but tomorrow a wedding group would be arriving ready for the celebration on Saturday. Three couples, five singles. The rooms were mostly ready. All she needed to do was prepare the last room once the current guests finished breakfast and left.


It was early afternoon when the convoy of four black SUV’s pulled into the circular driveway at the front of the guest house.  Sherry went immediately to the front door, curious to see who had insisted in taking over the whole of the guesthouse for the weekend under the name of Destoni Corp. Three large men in black suits were busy unloading the luggage while the other guests milled around, admiring the gardens and chattering. They were probably the bodyguards mentioned in the booking, occupying three of the single rooms.

Finally the men started herding the others into the house. Sherry smiled and shook hands with the three older couples with the same dark Mediterranean looks as the bodyguards. The next guest was an elegant woman around her own age with Nordic colouring and a slender figure Sherry envied. Automatically she put her hand out to the final guest. He didn’t take it and she looked up.

The air thickened and she struggled to draw breath. Zander?

“Surprise, surprise.”


“We’re here for the Taylor wedding.”

“Cecy Taylor, who was at college with me?” Sherry swallowed, tasting bile. The girl who single-handedly sent her running. “I heard she was getting married, but she’s lived away from here since she graduated. How come you’re invited?”

He ignored her question, moving into the entry hall, hands buried in the pockets of his grey suit. Hastily she instructed the bodyguards as to the luggage. George, her general factotum and husband of the cook took over that task, guiding them to the staff stairway at the end of the house and Sherry returned to her guests.

“I’ll show you to your rooms so you can settle in. When you’re ready there will be afternoon tea available in the dining room to the left. The lounge room is on the right and beyond it we have a library and a billiard room for the use of guests. The swimming pool is accessed down this hall past the main staircase and along the patio.”

They followed her upstairs, quite happy to make themselves comfortable in their rooms before coming down to relax in the public areas of the B&B. Sherry held her breath when the blonde paused at the door of her room, half expecting Zander to join her. They looked like a couple. Perhaps it wasn’t protocol to be seen by the older family members to be sharing a bed. They were in adjoining rooms, though it hadn’t been specified.

“I’ll meet you downstairs, Jacinta.” His deep voice still had the power to thrill Sherry, even after more than four years. Even when talking to another woman. Thrill with an aftertaste of bitterness. Once that caressing tone had been for her.

Avoiding his gaze, Sherry opened the door to his room. His luggage was already lying on the rack. “I hope you’ll be comfortable.”

He sauntered across to the window, looking down at the pool. “I’m sure I will be.” He turned to face her. “You’ve done well for yourself. This place is quite impressive.”

“It was my family home. A windfall you might say, when they died.”

Something stirred in the depths of his eyes. Pity? “I’m sorry for your loss. When did it happen?”

“Four years ago, a little more.”

His eyes narrowed. “Is that why you left?”

“No.” The bald declaration hung in the air. “I have to go finish preparations for afternoon tea.”

Inclining his head, he dismissed her. Still as autocratic as ever. But when you grew up in the kind of wealth Zander Demetrius revelled in, it probably came naturally.


She didn’t see him alone for the rest of the afternoon. The group sat around in the large lounge room being served drinks from the bar. Sherry tried not to notice how intimate Zander was with Jacinta. She couldn’t even dislike the woman, who displayed a casual friendliness to the staff.

It wasn’t until the older couples had departed for the wedding rehearsal dinner with the bodyguards and she was cleaning up that Sherry found herself with Zander in the hall.

“Your friend is waiting in the lounge area.”

“She will keep. I want to ask you a question.”

She stiffened and forced herself to relax. He couldn’t know. “What kind of question?”

“What is a journalism graduate doing running a bed and breakfast?”

“I didn’t finish my degree. I came home and my parents died shortly after.”

“They were unwell? Both of them?”

“They died in a plane crash while holidaying in South East Asia.”

His chin dipped as he processed the information. “I didn’t realise.”

“How could you?”

“True. You made sure you vanished off the grid.”

“You knew I came from here.”

“Yes. But you didn’t come here immediately.”

He’d looked for her? “No. I stayed with an aunt for a while.”

The sound she dreaded came from the upstairs hall. Alexa, singing one of her favourite Disney songs. She appeared at the top of the stairs in her princess print pyjamas, a pink tutu, a glittering pink plastic tiara and waving a pink plastic wand.

The wand pointed accusingly at Sherry. “It’s time for my story.”

Zander stood in the centre of the hall, looking up at her. “Who are you?”

“I’m the fairy god-mother. When I wave my magic wand, Mummy will go to the ball.”

Sherry stepped forward. “Go back to your room, darling. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

“I have to make the spell.” Alexa waved the wand and threw a handful of glitter into the air. “Abbacadabba, bibbety-boo.”

The glitter settled on the timber steps. Good job she had the hand vacuum with her. “Alexa. Bed.”

Her daughter giggled one last time and trotted away along the upstairs hall.

Zander put his hands on his hips, pushing back the coat of his dinner suit, showing off his tailored trousers. “Who is she, Sherry?”

“My daughter.”

His dark eyes had a steely glint in them. “Perhaps you mean, our daughter.”

“Why do you say that?” She was stalling and he knew it, his mouth twisting in derision.

“I’m not stupid. She looks enough like me without the guilty look on your face to confirm it.”

Sherry stood tall, stiffening her spine. “Yes, she is genetically yours. But that’s all.”

“How dare you keep my child from me? You did it deliberately didn’t you? Some kind of warped revenge.”

The accusation barely registered. “I did what I had to do.”

“If she is my child, I’ll be suing for full access.”

“I don’t think you’re a suitable role model for a vulnerable child.” She looked up at his glowering face. “What kind of father would a playboy with your reputation make anyway?”

“Playboy? I don’t think you’ve been keeping up. I’m very respectable these days. Not a whisper of scandal anywhere.”

A cold lump settled in her chest. “Are you married? Engaged?” Her giveaway glance went to the lounge room.

“You think Jacinta has reformed me? Wouldn’t you like to know?”  He turned away as the woman in question emerged.

“Darling, we should be going.” She took Zander’s arm with a perfunctory smile at Sherry. “The food is lovely.”

They drifted out and Sherry sat on the seat by the door. He knew about Alexa. There was bound to be trouble if he was serious about wanting access. Zander had money and lawyers to burn. She had a few hundred in the bank and possession. Somehow that didn’t seem very comforting.


Sherry was cleaning the lounge room, while the guests were at the wedding. It was late, because she’d had to shop for fresh fruit for tomorrow’s breakfast. By the time she’d done that and spent some time with Alexa, darkness had fallen. The click of the front door opening and closing and the sound of footsteps across the timber floor was the only intimation before Zander walked into the room.

“Is something wrong?”

“I thought this might be a good time to catch you alone.”

She couldn’t remember where Alexa had gone, but she was quite safe in the house. “I can spare a few minutes. I have to put my daughter to bed.”

“Yes. Your daughter. How old is she?”

The date was easy. She gave it to him and watched him calculate.

“You must have known before you left.”

“I did. But we weren’t talking at the time.”

He shifted on his feet, long black lashes shadowing his eyes. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?”

“In part. I maxed out my text message allowance that week.”

“I read them. There was nothing about being pregnant.”

“You expected me to text you the news that you’d knocked up your ex-girlfriend?”

“Were you my ex? I don’t remember us breaking up.”

“Only because you didn’t have the decency to tell me. You decided to show me by taking out every girl in my dorm room. It was pretty clear.”

His mouth shut, the lips thin, as a scuffle of sound came from near the windows. Alexa crawled out from behind the couch, wand in one hand and tiara crooked on her dark curls. “Are you the handsomest prince?”

Zander adjusted the headpiece with a gentle hand. “Sorry, sweetheart. No princes here.”

Her bottom lip drooped. “I thought you might be, because you knew Mummy a long time ago. Did you know her handsomest prince?”

“Your Mummy has a handsome prince?” He darted a cynical glance up at Sherry above the child’s head.

“Yes. It’s my favouritist story.” She sucked in a deep breath and waved her wand. “Once upon a time an orderinary girl met a handsome prince at a ball and they danced all night. But in the morning, the handsome prince had to go back to his own kingdom and Mummy, that’s the ordery girl, was sad for a long time. Then one day a fairy brought her a baby princess. That’s me. So she was very happy.”

His brows drew together in a thick line above his eyes. “I’m sure she was. What an interesting story.”

“She doesn’t have the ending yet.”

“It sounded like a perfectly good ending. For her.”

Sherry winced at the subtle barb, hidden in his affable tones.

Alexa shook her head. “But she didn’t get to live happily ever after with the handsomest prince.”

“No, I suppose she didn’t. But you can’t have everything. She did get a princess to keep all to herself.”

Anger flushed through Sherry’s chilled body. “If the handsome prince bothered to come back, or even answer his calls, he might have had his own princess too. He preferred to get lai…”

“Mummy? Are you cross with Mr. Dem…with the man?”

“No, darling. But it is past your bedtime. Say goodnight to Mr Demetrius.”

“Goodnight, Mr Demetrus. And may frights of angels take you to your bed.”

His eyes softened as he kissed the upturned cheek. “Thank you. I hope your dreams are happy ones.”

Sherry steered her daughter from the room, pausing at the door when Zander spoke her name.

“We need to talk. I’ll wait here for you.”

“Don’t you need to get back to the wedding? What about your…partner?”

“Jacinta? Her fiancé is the best man. My brother Antony. Now his official duties are more or less over, he can take care of her.”

She steadied herself on the door frame. The room spun hazily. They weren’t together. Not that it meant anything. He could have any number of woman in the background. That had been his playbook when she first met him at the university.


Reluctantly, she returned to the lounge room. The confrontation had to happen. She just wished she’d had time to dress up. He was standing in the middle of the room holding one of the shoes she’d taken off when she was cleaning up.

“These are pretty.” He held up the sparkly silver slip-on.

“Alexa’s choice.”

“She seems happy.”

“I like to think she is.” Maybe it wouldn’t be so easy once she started school and felt the dearth of a father.

“I know I behaved badly at college. My ego took a dent because you wouldn’t come with me when I finished my masters. The other girls meant nothing.”

“Except Cecy.”

He cocked his head. “Is Cecy the wicked witch of this fairy tale?”

“She slept with you. I met her coming out of your apartment. She confirmed it.” Her eyes were dazzled by the play of light as he fiddled with the shoe.

“She didn’t. It was Paul Varis, my cousin. She was drunk so I put her to bed in my spare room. Paul arrived in the early hours. She thought he was me, he wasn’t the kind to say no. The rest is history. They got married this afternoon.”

“Is this the truth?”

“I might avoid talking to you, but I’ve never lied. I’ve been wanting to find you ever since. When I saw your name on this B&B I took a chance.”

“I didn’t mean to keep her from you. It was never in my plan. It just happened.” A ball of pain pressed at the back of her throat. “I’m so sorry.” A hiccupping sob bubbled up and she sat on the couch, knees too weak to hold her.

“Don’t cry, my darling.” He knelt before her, one hand resting on her knee. “I’ve a lot to make up for, haven’t I?”

“I should have tried harder. Not let my hurt feelings stop me.” The sobs pushed up, choking her.

“Is this where I try the slipper on you?” His wry tone stopped her tears. She stared down at him as he slid the shoe onto her foot. He looked up and met her gaze, eyes warm and tender.

Maybe there really was such a thing as living happily ever after.

Yes I am still here

It’s only a month into the New Year and already I’ve broken the only tangible resolution I made. To Blog regularly, once a week. So…we will just pretend last week never happened…which is in fact the reality.


I made Lemonade Scones today. They were actually quite edible.

The Recipe

The Real World

It’s been an interesting fortnight. We had our Australia Day holiday on the 26th January. This is where we celebrate  invading  arriving in Australia to create our first penal colony settlement at Sydney Cove. It’s a strange thing to be a country that considers convict ancestors to be the next best thing to royalty. There are odd things that resulted from this particular history. Something our American friends probably cannot comprehend.

We are in fact a country founded on the principles of government social security. When you are a small colony of soldiers and prisoners, half way around the world from home, someone has to look after the widows and orphans and indigent residents. Ever since, there has been an expectation on the part of the citizens of this country that the government should be a safety net. There is now an ambivalence among taxpayers with a fine line being drawn between the traditional “Little Aussie Battler” and the chronic “Dole Bludger.” Good times.

Meanwhile, we have done a remarkable job confining our indigenous Australians to the sidelines. I wasted a lot of time this afternoon looking for an old school year book that published a poem I wrote in 1976 for an event in July for what was eventually to become NAIDOC week. (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee). I couldn’t find it but IIRC the title of the poem was “Gone.”

Instead I’ll share a poem I remember making an impression on me when I was in primary school. I think it was the first time I really thought about Indigenous history. Kendall was a white, Victorian era poet and he wrote this at a time when it was the general consensus that the Aboriginal peoples of Australia would die out.

THE LAST OF HIS TRIBE by Henry Kendall

He crouches, and buries his face on his knees,
   And hides in the dark of his hair;
For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees,
   Or think of the loneliness there --
   Of the loss and the loneliness there.

The wallaroos grope through the tufts of the grass,
   And turn to their coverts for fear;
But he sits in the ashes and lets them pass
   Where the boomerangs sleep with the spear --
   With the nullah, the sling and the spear.

Uloola, behold him!  The thunder that breaks
   On the tops of the rocks with the rain,
And the wind which drives up with the salt of the lakes,
   Have made him a hunter again --
   A hunter and fisher again.

For his eyes have been full with a smouldering thought;
   But he dreams of the hunts of yore,
And of foes that he sought, and of fights that he fought
   With those who will battle no more --
   Who will go to the battle no more.

It is well that the water which tumbles and fills,
   Goes moaning and moaning along;
For an echo rolls out from the sides of the hills,
   And he starts at a wonderful song --
   At the sound of a wonderful song.

And he sees, through the rents of the scattering fogs,
   The corroboree warlike and grim,
And the lubra who sat by the fire on the logs,
   To watch, like a mourner, for him --
   Like a mother and mourner for him.

Will he go in his sleep from these desolate lands,
   Like a chief, to the rest of his race,
With the honey-voiced woman who beckons and stands,
   And gleams like a dream in his face --
   Like a marvellous dream in his face?

ARC Reviews

At the moment I’m reading Numbered by Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter. They did a great story called Sister Pact a few years ago which I enjoyed, so I’m keen to see how they handle this one.numbered It’s about a young woman with breast cancer who is working her way through her bucket list and she and her best friend, her mother, and one or two nice young men are having an adventure of a lifetime. Or what may or may not be left of it.

Movies I’ve Seen

Despite spending two days in Brisvegas last week, I didn’t get to see any movies. I did finish my back to back, one a night viewing of the entire Harry Potter series. This is the first time I’ve watched them from first to last in one go and I was impressed. The character arcs were so very clear and particularly in Snape’s case, very moving. A fine legacy for Alan Rickman amongst an amazing body of work.

Tonight, I watched Maleficent followed by Enchanted. An interesting combination that worked surprisingly well. True Love’s Kiss and all that, interpreted differently in each one.trueloveskiss

What I’m Writing

My larger projects were put aside while I did two short, 3k, stories for the RWAus Little Gems Competition. The Gem theme this year was Sunstone which I had to Google. I also entered the NYMidnight short story challenge with a 2500 word first round entry. Each entrant is allocated a number and each number related to a story theme. My genre was Fairy Tale. My subject was An Accusation and my character was a Bed and Breakfast host. That was challenging indeed. I still managed to turn it into a romance. We had eight days to complete it. If we make it to the second round we have 4 days to complete a 2k story and the final round is 24 hours to write 1500 words.

Now that is over for the moment, I’ll be getting back to my Wattpad Roadtrip novella and my Sekrit project. There are some first chapter opportunities with Harlequin I’m looking at but will let them percolate for a day or two before I decide whether to participate.

Something Funny This Way Comes

While searching for my school yearbook I came across these notebooks. The last remnants of my teen writing frenzy. It was quite amusing to read them and I could easily see what I was reading or watching at the time I was writing. I guess these days it would be considered fan fiction. I wonder if any of you can guess what my influences were. And I still have to fight against the temptation of writing sentences that go on for pages and pages…

The Notebooks of Doom

Response to responses….The Big R

The Real World.

Big excitement of the week is the installation of an exhaust fan in my kitchen. This has been an ongoing saga. Last year, we repainted the kitchen and discovered just how deep the grease from the stove had penetrated the paint. We had to scrape it back to the bare wood. So we decided aexhaustfann exhaust fan was a necessity. The only problem is that the stove is in front of a window so I can stare at the view while I stir the pot. (one of my favourite occupations…stirring).

This meant that any of the normal exhaust fans which fit to the wall or cupboards above the stove were useless. So we started looking for an island stove exhaust fan. Apparently this is a luxury design because the prices were *cough* a little expensive.

Finally I found a display model at a Harvey Norman store. And this is it. Now I just need to renovate the entire kitchen to match it.

ARC ReviewsallIamHelm

I’m reading Nicole Helm’s All I Am, number two in her Farmer’s Market series from Harlequin Superromance this week. I don’t read a lot of Superromance but I’m really enjoying this. Especially as the hero has that special quality I particularly like in my romantic heroes and heroines. *nods* He’s an injured veteran who wanted to be an animal vet. She’s the town party girl. It’s a small town world with ordinary people you can’t help but like.

Movies I’ve Seen

No.4 and I went to see Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. I’m not a big fan of the type of comedy Ferrell usually stars in. The only movie I’d willingly watch twice is Elf and then only at Christmas when the gooey sentimentality of the season overwhelms my critical faculties. Daddy’s Home had some really funny moments. It had some moments of pathos for Will’s character as the step-father of two cute but resistant kids and the slightly dorky husband of a VERY attractive woman. He spends a lot of time trying a little too hard to be the best Dad ever.

He’s just starting to make some headway with the kids when biological dad turns up. Mark Wahlberg does a good job as the free-wheeling guy who knows everyone and has been everywhere. And his animosity to the man who is trying to take his place with the kids is obvious from their first confrontation at the airport.

The good things: These two guys have something to teach each other and eventually it works. There is enough slapstick comedy that my son was entertained. The ending worked well and the epilogue is funny if clichéd.

The bad things: Well, thererickmanalways was nothing particularly bad in it. Just a vague distaste for two grown males competing over kids and wife without considering the fallout.

With Alan Rickman’s death I naturally had to watch Sense and Sensibility. I love the depth he brings to the role of an older man with a tragic past, falling for a young woman who cannot even see him, especially once the younger Willoughby enters the scene. Watching it last night, I noticed that first moment when she really sees him, after her illness when he has ridden ventre à terre to get her mother. *swoon*.

Then I started watching Harry Potter of course.

What I’m Writing

I’m still working on my Sekrit project but it’s been a slow week with only 500 words. Mostly this is because I’ve received responses back on my The Spy Who Saved Me submissions. It was a standard form letter from Carina UK. The agent from the #Pitchmas request also didn’t feel she could represent the story but she did say…

I really enjoyed your strong narrative voice in these opening pages…

So that made me feel pretty good. I didn’t actually receive any notification from Momentum but they say if you don’t hear from them within a month, they aren’t interested. The month was up on Wednesday. I still have two more responses to come and the results of a competition.

As mentioned last week, I had an urge to write a road trip story after watching Need for Speed. So I’ve started what will be a short novella for Wattpad. I’ve written 2k so not a bad effort for the week, even if it isn’t really what I should be working on. I’ll start posting it after the weekend. Even though I don’t get a lot of reads on my Wattpad stories, I do find the occasional positive comments helpful when I’m feeling like nobody loves my work. Of course I know everyone loves me…

I’ve been sorting through some boxes of older books that were dumped into the shed when we did some rearranging a couple of years ago. So I ended up Prozac reading Penny Jordan’s The Caged Tiger, Margaret Mayo’s Return a Stranger and several Diana Hamilton reunion romances. I also finally read Anne Gracie’s Tallie’s Knight, one of her very early works.


Writer out of time