Cooking The Books – Laura Greaves

Chef with cookbookWelcome to Cooking the Books! My guest is debut Destiny Romance author Laura Greaves. Laura’s release, Be My Baby, is one of Destiny’s new Chick Lit titles and they’ve all been fabulous romps. I’ve just been over to the Destiny website to read the first chapter here and I’m already hooked. So hop on over and have a look. But first, here’s Laura!


Thanks so much for having me today, Louise! I’m here to take your readers on a culinary journey through one of the great European foodie 0000008357nations. No, I’m not talking about France. Not Italy either. And nope, it’s not Greece (although dolmades and baklava – yum!)

It’s England.

“England? Did she say England? Home of pork pies, Yorkshire puddings and ‘greasy spoon’ cafes? England, where more ‘beige’ food is consumed per capita than any other country?”

 Yep. That’s the one.

 Just as its weather is unfairly maligned (I mean, what’s not to like about grey skies and drizzle? It’s perfect curl-up-with-a-book weather!) I really think England gets a bad rap when it comes to food. And I should know: I called London home for five years, and now return every couple of years with my English husband.

Just like Anna, the Aussie heroine of my novel, Be My Baby, I lived in the beautiful Borough of Richmond-Upon-Thames and worked as a newspaper entertainment journalist. This meant that I not only had a plethora of lovely riverside ‘gastropubs’ on my doorstep, I also had the opportunity to nibble designer canapés in trendy restaurants (sometimes with a celebrity at the next table).

Forget what you think you know about English food. Here’s five of the best reasons to bring a big appetite to the UK.

1. Indian food. If modern England has a national dish, it is arguably the curry. The UK has large and vibrant Indian and Pakistani communities, which happily means there’s a curry house on virtually every corner, especially in London. I became such a regular at my local Indian restaurant that they stopped asking for my address when I’d call for home delivery. And a night ‘on the tiles’ must always be followed by a late-night stop at an Indian restaurant, if only to marvel at the resplendent 1970s décor most seem to favour.

2. Marks & Spencer Food To Go. Marks & Spencer is a huge department store chain, not unlike Myer or David Jones. But even better than ‘Marks and Sparks’ stores are their food outlets, where you can pick up anything from a freshly-made sandwich or a tub of sweet treats to a bottle of M&S-brand wine or even a full gourmet heat-and-serve meal. It. Is. So. Good.

3. Gastropubs. I don’t think it’s too controversial to say that food is often an afterthought in Aussie pubs. Sure, you’ll usually find a decent steak, burger or schnitzel, but that’s about as gourmet as it gets. It’s a completely different story in England, where the rise of the ‘gastropub’ has taken pub grub to the next level. Celebrity chefs are even getting in on the act: Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Fat Duck pub in country Berkshire has been named the UK’s best eatery several times, and Gordon Ramsay’s The Narrow is a must-visit in the Docklands area. Despite the unfortunate name, which conjures up some decidedly not delicious images, gastropubs are a revelation. My tip: take the Sunday newspapers and hole up in a riverside pub on a chilly afternoon.

4. Regional delicacies. Apparently it would take 50 years to eat at every one of the restaurants in New York City. Well, the same could be said for sampling all the regional delights in England. You’ll find more mouth-watering – and often rather peculiar – local foods in this tiny scrap of land than you can poke a whelk at (that’s a sea snail that’s inexplicably popular in London’s East End). Those with a sweet tooth should head to Derbyshire for Bakewell tarts or Devon for an authentic cream tea. Then there’s pease pudding (a fancy pea and ham soup) in Northumberland, sausages in Lincolnshire and scouse – a delectable lamb stew – in Liverpool. Delish.

5. Fine dining. I love a pub lunch, but when a special meal is in order there is a dazzling array of fine dining establishments in Old Blighty. I have two all-time favourite ‘posh’ London restaurants. Locanda Locatelli is helmed by celeb chef Giorgio Locatelli and offers modern Italian fare that’s arguably even better than you’ll find in Italy (and I’ve spent a lot of time eating my way through Italy!) Then there’s The Wolseley, a big, noisy brasserie reminiscent of Parisian cafes with a Euro-style menu to die for. You’re virtually guaranteed a celebrity sighting at The Wolseley. I once found myself at a table next to formidable Vogue editor Anna Wintour (who didn’t eat a bite and kept her sunglasses on through the entire meal).

 As someone who’s had the best and worst of food in England, thank you for the tips, Laura!

Do you have a favourite English food?

BMB_Hi-res About Be My Baby by Laura Greaves

 Ambitious Australian Anna Harding seems to have it all: a glamorous job as a gossip columnist, and a beautiful home in London that she shares with her gorgeous boyfriend, Finn Cassidy. Her only problem is her regular run-ins with their neighbor Luke, who is furious about Anna’s internet shopping constantly being delivered to his place by mistake.

When her flighty best friend Helena winds up pregnant, Anna agrees to be godmother – despite her aversion to children. But then Finn announces he’s moving to Belfast for a great job in television and Helena takes off to Scotland – leaving baby Ivy behind. Suddenly Anna’s perfect life is in pieces as she tries to juggle the baby, her job and a long-distance relationship.

Will Finn wake up to himself and return home or will he be swayed by the charms of his seductive producer? Will the irresponsible Helena finally sort herself out with the help of her eccentric great aunt? And will Anna’s life ever be the same, especially after Luke’s unexpected response to the chaos unleashed next door?

Nothing is certain in this entertaining and moving tale about the relationships that matter most.

Connect with Laura:

Buy:  Be My Baby at or good book e-tailers.



Cooking The Books – Leesa Bow

Chef with cookbookThis week I’m venturing into new territory – football! Unlike a certain well-loved Aussie writer who bangs on about footy every week here (while hosting some great Australian writers and talking about food), I am clueless. But Leesa Bow to the rescue! Leesa’s debut New Adult novel, Winning The Player, was released this month by Destiny Romance and it’s choc-a-bloc full of footy action and buff bodies with a gorgeous romance to boot! We’re in the hands of a well-connected expert here, so it’s welcome and over to Leesa! 


Leesa Bow portraitHi Louise and thanks for having me today. I’m very excited about my debut New Adult novel ‘Winning the Player’. It is a football romance based in Adelaide, South Australia. The characters are between 18 and 25 and at an age plenty of alcohol is consumed. But I’m here to talk food so I thought it appropriate to discuss a footballer’s diet and share recipes since my book has a football romance theme. Hunter is the hero, a star football player, so when he dines out he mainly orders pasta.

Hunter Stone is on top of his game. His success stems from commitment and hard physical trainings, and a diet to support his heavy workload.

In my book I talk about Hunter’s meals before a game and today I’d like to share some of my favourite AFL player’s pasta recipes.

Lewis Johnston #8 (Adelaide Crows)

Straight-shooting, dynamic forward

Beef Ravioli

Lean mince

Five Brothers pasta sauce



Brown mince and add mushrooms and onion. Add pasta sauce and simmer. Place ravioli in boiling water. When cooked drain and serve with the sauce and some garlic bread.


Mitch Clisby cooking his favourite pasta

Mitch Clisby cooking his favourite pasta

Mitch Clisby #15 (Melbourne Demons)

Midfielder/wingman and quick decision maker

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Place spaghetti pasta on to boil.

Fry extra lean mince, grated carrot, mushrooms, brown onion, and secret herbs and spices. Add Dolmio basil sauce, a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer.

When pasta is cooked, drain and top with the sauce.


Taylor Walker #13 (Adelaide Crows)

Star forward and prolific goal kicker

Like Mitch—the two are mates and grew up together in Broken Hill— Taylor also prefers a Spaghetti Bolognaise before the game. However, as a lad growing up, Taylor also enjoyed a Chicken Bow-tie dish his mother Margaret cooked.

Chicken Bowties

Place bowtie pasta in water to boil.

Slice chicken breast and cook in frypan. Add bacon, mushroom, onion and shallots. Add light cream and light sour cream.

When pasta is cooked drain and serve with the sauce.


Sam Jacobs and Izzy

Sam Jacobs and his girlfriend Izzy

 Sam Jacobs #24 (Adelaide Crows)

Accurate tap ruckman and linchpin for the Crows

The night before a game Sam enjoys cooking with his girlfriend Izzy, and prefers Spaghetti Bolognaise or Chicken and Bacon penne pasta.

Chicken and Bacon Penne


Penne pasta

Chicken breast




“Roasted garlic and onion” four brothers pasta sauce


Boil water in saucepan – add the pasta once boiled.

Dice onion and garlic finely.

Cut up chicken and bacon.

Sauté onion and garlic in frying pan; add the bacon once onion is soft.


Sam Jacobs’ girlfriend, Izzy

Add chicken and cook until browned then add pasta sauce. Cook until pasta is ready Serve with grated cheese.


Carbohydrates play a major role in elite football player’s diet.

Mitch Clisby eats poached eggs with avocado for breakfast on game day. Later he consumes carbs in salad rolls, along with a banana, yoghurt and muesli bars before the game.

Sam Jacobs prefers Nutrigrain for breakfast and later a subway and a Powerade a few hours before the game.

Lewis Johnston is fastidious about his diet the day before and on game day, often eating the same foods (from the same cafes) every week.

For breakfast Lewis consumes Sustain cereal with lactose free milk, followed by a banana before a light training.

Lunch: Vietnamese chicken roll and 4 cold rolls. Mid afternoon toasted banana bread.

Game day lunch: Subway chicken teriyaki and salad roll. One banana.

Throughout the morning Lewis consumes litres of water and also Gatorade or Powerade with added electrolytes.


Our star football players carbohydrate loaded diet turns many females green with envy. A fraction of this would be enough to send extra padding to my hips! But the energy required for games and trainings demands adequate fuel from carbohydrate foods, and so none is stored as fat. The strict regime of players demands respect, especially the hard work and commitment by players to stay on top of their game.


Book CoverHere’s a bit about Winning the Player.


When injury destroyed her dream of playing college basketball, Aubree Taylor fled overseas. Now she’s finally home again and ready to move on with her life. Until she runs into Hunter Stone on her first night out, the only guy who’s ever meant anything to her – and the last person she wants to see.

Since she ran out on him two years ago, Hunter hasn’t been able to get Aubree off his mind. The sexy football star has had girls all over him for years, but Aubree is the only one to have ever seen behind the cocky persona he puts on for the crowd.

Despite her attempts to keep her distance, Aubree is unable to resist the strong attraction between them and it isn’t long before they fall into a passionate relationship. She has never been afraid of a challenge, but Hunter’s arrogance and inability to trust are testing her to her limits. Aubree must decide whether to follow her heart and lower her guard…or risk losing the best thing that’s ever happened to her.


You can pick up Winning The Player at:

Amazon books as well as other digital retailers.

Connect with Leesa here:



And you can find out more about Leesa here.




Cooking The Books – Mary Costello

Chef with cookbook

Fάilte! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have Destiny Romance author Mary Costello visiting this week. Mary writes wonderful, heartfelt and witty romances. She’s also a charming Irishwoman with a touch of whimsy, a bit of blarney and she’s not averse to an hour or two of craic. Mary has a new release with Destiny this month, Irresistible Enemy. Here’s Mary!

The heroine and hero of my latest Romance, Irresistible Enemy, are as different as chalk and a very fine Camembert.Costello

 The handsome and charming Hart is a wealth property developer and bon vivant. He lives in beautiful homes, drives expensive cars, has his suits made in Milan and eats well – usually at one of Melbourne’s trendiest restaurants.

Cassie, however, is plain girl with frizzy hair and a flat chest, and she’s living on the breadline. She runs a wildlife sanctuary and spends most of her money on the animals. Her old weatherboard cottage is falling down around her, her rusty ute is in desperate need of a service, and she buys her clothes at op-shops; and Cassie’s also a vegetarian. Yet at a critical point in the story, it’s the magic of good food that brings this improbable pair together.

They have an unexpected encounter on Christmas Eve, when they’re faced with a very tricky and potentially dangerous challenge. Afterwards, it emerges that they’ll both be spending Christmas alone, and in Cassie’s case, with very little food of interest in the pantry, although she does offer to cook, ‘I have an interesting recipe for cheese on toast. You toast the bread lightly, drizzle it with balsamic vinegar, then melt the cheese on top. It’s a bit different.’

But Hart isn’t tempted, and with his many contacts and deep pockets he manages to quickly command the delivery of a ready-made Christmas feast, complete with waiters, Irish linen, crystal and silver flatware.



Irresistible Enemy“She walked slowly towards the long table covered with a white linen cloth and decorated with three elaborate candelabra, each bearing red, green and gold candles. Scented candles, she noted as she reached the table and detected the distinctly Christmassy tang of pine. Remarkably, the table was set out with her own Polish pottery Christmas crockery. It was a mix of the three seasonal designs – Christmas trees, snowflakes and reindeer, and they were accompanied by an array of fine-cut crystal and gleaming flatware.


At intervals along the table there were small, crystal-covered silver dishes piled with nuts, truffles, stuffed dates, candied fruits and other sweetmeats. Two chairs, also covered in white linen and tied with huge gold bows, had been set together at one end of the table, and in front of each there was a gilt-edged menu card bearing the name D’Agosto.”


They sit down on Cassie’s sagging verandah to a smorgasbord of gourmet délices. I used to write about food, so I had a spot of fun concocting the menu. I decided to offer the couple a quinoa-crusted pie-base with caramelised plantains and smoky pinto puree. Cassie takes her vegetarianism from me, and I have a sentimental fondness for quinoa which dates back to the birth of my first daughter.

She was already a week overdue and still showed no signs of putting in an appearance. Friends came to dinner bearing gifts which included a quinoa hot-pot. It was the first time I’d ever tasted this intriguing little seed and I loved the flavour. I also appreciated the effect, because at 2.15 in the morning I finally went into labour. The quinoa did it. It also does something for Cassie and Hart, but I can’t divulge any more on that head. You’ll just have to read the book.

The impromptu Christmas menu also includes: pumpkin-habanero papazul, sea-salt and sesame seed-dredged baby carrots, and buffle truffle schnitzels with hazelnut shards and sweated marron sour cream. I think I may have made part of that last one up, which is half the fun when writing Romance – you can let your imagination wander.

For Hart, gourmet fare is fairly standard, but it’s a new and delightful experience for Cassie, who’s more used to her friend’s “rock-hard scones” and horrible homemade herbal brews. She enjoys being spoilt for a change.


“Hart nodded at the waiter, who quickly produced two crystal glasses of fine champagne, and they began to feast.

“It was a long, leisurely meal, with one delicacy after another set before them.”


After the entertainment of a dazzling meal, Cassie reciprocates by taking Hart on a nocturnal tour of her land, showing him all the fascination of night-life in the bush. Their Christmas Eve adventure seals their mutual attraction, but their closeness is short-lived when the issues that keep them apart flare again.

But at least they’ve enjoyed one magical Christmas feast together, and nostalgia for their perfect evening stays with both, even during the crises to come.


Mary Costello is an Irish-Australian freelance writer, and despite living most of her life in Australia, she hasn’t lost her accent, or the sense of being somewhere exotic. She lives in Melbourne’s bushburbs with her husband of many years, who, oddly, bears no resemblance whatsoever to a romantic hero. They live with a flock of recovering battery hens and their two daughters, for whom Mary aspires to arrange advantageous matches to men of large property.

Mary’s first book, Titanic Town, Memoirs of a Belfast Girlhood, was published twenty years ago, but she only recently turned her pen to Romance, inspired by the heroics of the men of Aussie Rules football. The result was The Reluctant Wag.

Her new release, Irresistible Enemy, is a very different book. Set in the bushy fringes of Melbourne, it brings into collision a dedicated wildlife warrior and a high-powered property developer for whom ‘habitat’ means luxury houses.

Cassie Bowtell is a plain, no-nonsense girl, and Hart Huntingdon is a man surrounded by glamorous women, but Cassie attracts Hart with her courage, honesty and her dedication to the injured animals in her care. Hart stands for everything Cassie despises, and having been badly hurt in love, she’s determined to repress any emotional impulses that go against her better judgement.

You can purchase Irresistible Enemy here:

Amazon US

Amazon Australia

Destiny Romance


You can find Mary here:



Cooking The Books – Leisl Leighton + GIVEAWAY

Chef with cookbook

Oh happy day! Today’s guest, Destiny Romance author Leisl Leighton, is talking about something I enjoy as much as beautiful food – good (and let’s face it, sometimes not so good) wine. The characters in my own books spend an inordinate amount of time drinking wine which leads me to think they may need a 12 step program! But in Dark Moon, Leisl’s hero takes it a step further and turns wine-drinking into a seduction technique.

Leisl is giving away a kindle copy of Dark Moon, so don’t forget to leave a comment to go into the draw!

Thanks for having me here again, Louise. It’s fantastic to be back to share my new paranormal romance, Dark Moon, and food. Or in my case, wine.

I am not a big wine drinker – primarily because the sulphites give me headaches. But that doesn’t mean I don’t Leisl Headshot tweetappreciate wine. My Dad loves a good bottle of wine and loves to share his appreciation with others. He’s even converted my previously ‘only beer thanks’ brother-in-law into a wine appreciating fellow who can talk about bouquets and viscosity if pressed. So, I was brought up understanding that wine was more than just something to chug down and get pissed on; it is something to appreciate on many different levels.

Then years ago when I owned and ran my theatre restaurant, my business partner was a bit of a wine coinnosseur, and while our clientele was made up of a lot of beer and spirit drinkers, there were many who liked wine and they appreciated the fact that we had a good selection of wines to choose from, and not the usual swill you might find at theatre restaurants and cabaret venues. My business partner took me through wine appreciation lessons and while, for me, it mostly goes unused, I still remember it. And if I didn’t, my Dad and husband (who I bought a wine appreciation course for a few years ago so he could keep up with Dad) are able to remind me.

So, when I came to deciding what profession my new hero, Jason McVale, in Dark Moon, would do, it seemed only right that he be a wine maker. With his extra sensory nose (he is a werewolf), it means that he really gets into the many and varied bouquets of wine, the grape varietals, the flowers and plants that are grown nearby that affect the overall flavour stamp. His family has made wine for centuries – it being a natural use for their talents to play with flavours and scents. I suppose he could have been a perfumier, but that just didn’t seem quite masculine enough. Especially when it comes to scenes like this:

 ‘You smell so good.’

‘It’s the wine,’ she choked as muscles clenched and curled between her legs.

His lips curved at the corner, but she wouldn’t really call it a smile; it was more the look of a hunter before he brought down his prey. The smile made her shudder. He breathed in again, deeply, closing his eyes, his thumb rubbing against the pulse thumping in her wrist. All of a sudden, he jerked. His fingers loosened on her wrist as if he’d been shocked.

‘Are you okay?’

He glanced up at her, frowning. His fingers tightened on her wrist, firm, possessive, sending a hot spurt of worry tinged with desire chasing through her nerves. Astonishment flared in his eyes. Then, just as suddenly, it disappeared. His frown fell away and his eyes filled with a warm excitement that caressed her core. He sighed, took in a deep breath, nose brushing against her skin. ‘I’m more than okay. I got my wish.’

He closed his eyes, releasing her from his mesmerising lightning-shot blue gaze. Not that he needed his gaze to hold her in place. His voice, his touch, his breath tickling along her skin like a warm summer breeze, did the work for him.

‘Skye … A perfect name. You smell fresh and clean, like a summer’s day leading into autumn; wide blue skies with a hint of thunder cloud on the horizon.’ His eyes opened. ‘So many hidden layers. That hint of secrets and mystery – it has tantalised me all afternoon.’

He moved closer, his leg brushing against hers under the table. ‘To a wine maker, a scent connoisseur, you are a gift waiting to be unwrapped.’ His lips touched the inside of her wrist.

9781743484968I’ll leave that scene there and get back to the wine. It is a very special bottle of wine he shares with her. One that an Alpha wolf makes to secure the bond between him and a Pack Witch, but one, in this case, that does far more than that. This scene, based around the wine, is one of the sexiest scenes I think I’ve ever written (well, at least the reviewers think so). When Jason pours my heroine, Skye Collins, a glass of this special wine, she first appreciates it’s rich, plummy colour and the way it clings to the glass. It is almost a meal in itself. And when she tastes it, it’s like a sip of personal heaven, the full bodied flavours exploding in her mouth of passionfruit and raspberries and chilli-chocolate, the bouquet tantalising with something hidden and secret and spicy, that fill her up with sensations she’s never experienced before. The effect on her has an even more dramatic effect on Jason – and not because either of them are drunk, but because the wine is special for both of them.

I have had the privilege of tasting some extraordinary wines over the years, not to mention the amazing foods I’ve had the luck to eat along with these wines, the whole creating a little bit of sensory heaven, so this scene was not hard to write. All I had to do was close my eyes and remember back to tasting and smelling something extraordinary and how it had made me feel so wonderful in that moment that I have never forgotten it.

If you want to read this scene in full, I’m afraid you’re going to have to buy the book, because I’ve given away enough of a spoiler here. But I do have a Kindle copy to give away today. Just answer this simple question in the comments section below and you can go into the draw to win a copy and see what I’m talking about.


Have you ever had a moment that was a sensory slice of heaven? It can be about food, or wine/spirits or some scent you discovered in a garden/place. I’d love to hear all about it.

Dark Moon Blurb:

Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she’s been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale.

Jason claims to know things about Skye that can’t be true, and it’s obvious he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can’t resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?

About the Author.

Leisl is a tall red head with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).

After starting a family Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl’s stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.

Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dog, Buffy, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She sometimes sings in a choir and works as a swim teacher in her day-to-day job.

Leisl writes paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense.

You can buy Dark Moon here:



Destiny Romance


Google Play

Her romantic suspense, Killing Me Softly is out now:




Destiny Romance

Google Play

You can follow Leisl and find out more about her and her books on her website:



Follow her on Twitter @LeislLeighton

5 Star Review for Dark Moon on Goodreads

4 Star Review for Dark Moon on Goodreads

Cooking The Books – Annie Seaton + GIVEAWAY

Chef with cookbook

I don’t know about you, but I love books and movies that include food. I’m not just talking about a random scene in a restaurant though. I want luscious details. I want to be able to smell and taste the food, dream about cooking it. And if one of the characters is a chef, or owns a bakery or – dream job alert – gets paid to eat and write about it, that’s crack for me. I have my go-to classics; Babette’s Feast, Like Water For Chocolate, Nora Roberts’ Dance Upon Air. And now there’s Annie Seaton’s Outback Affair. Here’s Annie to tell us all about it. And don’t forget to comment for a chance to win one of two copies Annie is generously giving away!

Annie_Seaton_200x300The inspiration for my books comes to me in strange places sometimes but the inspiration is always rooted in things I am interested in.

I’ve always been fascinated by the outback of Australia and the traditional foods of Australia’s indigenous population.  Indigenous food can be described in many different ways such as bush tucker, native food, or Aboriginal food. In the late summer of 2012 we dined at a wonderful local restaurant on the mid north coast of NSW (The Jaaning Tree) with an aboriginal chef, who bases the menu on traditional and bush tucker foods. Chef Clayton Donovan prefers to look at it as using native ingredients with the foods that everyone eats. The idea for using a chef in a future book began to percolate but I couldn’t pin it down to a story.

I had written the first two books in the Affairs series (Holiday Affair and Italian Affair) and I was wondering where the third Richards brother was going to find his own happily ever after.

My planning was interrupted by a trip to Las Vegas in mid-2012 to meet with my publisher. On the trip home I was flicking through one of the Virgin Australia on-board magazines and I read an article about a food journalist. By the time we landed back in Sydney, I had my story, my food journalist heroine, and an internationally renowned bush tucker chef school set on the Northern Territory coast.

OutbackAffairSeaton_cAs I wrote the story, I wanted the chef school set up and the bush tucker concepts and recipes to be authentic, so I paid a visit to Clayton, the owner and chef at The Jaaning Tree. (If you want to have a look at more about Clayton and read some mouth watering dishes.. .you can read about him in the Australian Good Food Guide.

So I visited Clayton and he was delighted to help me with my research. I learned about the working of a restaurant and chef school, and he told me all about bush tucker and the sourcing of ingredients.

In my book I use some of the flavours that Clayton described to me. When Alex and Jess meet in an old run down bar in the outback, Jess is overwhelmed by the appearance and the tastes of her first bush tucker dish.


She totally forgot about the man sitting across from her as she snapped six shots of the meal in front of her, from a variety of angles. She looked up at Alex, suddenly realizing he was watching her with a peculiar expression on his face.

“Do you always take photos of your meals?”

Get out of this one, Jess.

“It’s my first meal in Australia and I want to remember it,” she said weakly.

So much for the acting.

“An interesting habit,” he said. “Although I agree, Janet’s meals are spectacular. She’s wasted in a place like this. It never gets very busy, and she does to like to impress the guests.”
Jess was barely listening to him. She had speared a piece of fish and raised it reverently to her mouth. She closed her eyes, savouring the taste, and trying to figure out the herbs that combined to give it the subtle flavour. She opened her eyes and that direct blue gaze was fixed on her lips as she chewed delicately. Pointing her fork at him, she pulled out her best imitation of her mother’s voice.

“Has anyone never taught you manners? It is extremely rude to stare. Particularly when one is eating.”

“You really are a case, aren’t you?” Alex threw back his head and laughed. “When ‘one’ is eating? I think that ‘rest’ at Cockatoo Springs will do ‘one’ the world of good.”

“Don’t be smart. I’m just enjoying my meal. And I like to cook so I am figuring out what is in it.”

“Unless you know your bush tucker you won’t figure it out.” Picking up his fork, he speared a piece of fish and chewed it without taking his gaze from hers. “Lemon myrtle and pepper berries.”

The leaves of the Australian native, lemon myrtle have an amazing lemon fragrance, but without the acid of lemon juice.  The leaves can be used fresh, but are also available dried and powdered. It blends wonderfully with seafood. The leaves, stems and berries of the pepper berry plant have an aromatic peppery taste producing approximately three times the anti-oxidants of blueberries.

If you would like the recipe for Fish fillets with Lemon Myrtle Rocket Pesto served with Pepper Berry Vinaigrette Salad you will find it in the back of Outback Affair, along with an acknowledgement to Clayton for his assistance with my research.


Outback Affair

Available from


Barnes and Noble




You can find Annie at


What is your favourite flavour for seasoning fish? Two random commenters below will each win a copy of one of the first two books in this series. Holiday Affair or Italian Affair.

Cooking The Books – Emmie Dark

Chef with cookbookIt’s the last post of 2013 on Cooking The Books and I can think of no better way to end the year than with the lovely Emmie Dark and her new erotic romance novella, Charmed. This gorgeous story combines all kinds of hocus-pocus with some very hot moments. Now, having been brought up in an era when bibulous TV cooks like Graham Kerr and Keith Floyd publicly and devotedly exceeded their recommended two glasses a day, all the while whipping up a perfect soufflé, Emmie’s post is right up my alley. Take it away, Emmie!

I know it’s traditional on Cooking the Books to talk about food and/or provide a recipe. But at this point in the year, who wants to be Emmie Darkexperimenting with baking? We’ve all got our favourites, and the things the family demand to be made, so I thought it might be nice to instead focus on one very important part of the cooking process: the wine you drink while you’re cooking.

Sure, there’s all kinds of guides and information out there on food and wine matching. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking the wine you drink when you’re in the kitchen, stuffing the turkey, slicing the carrots, and whipping the cream.

For me, the very best kind of tipple for kitchen adventures is champagne – or “sparkling wine”, as we are more properly supposed to say when it doesn’t come from France! I do love the French stuff, I must say, but I’m equally happy with some of the premium Australian and NZ versions.

Emmie with champagne

Bubbles is a celebration drink to me, and when I’m in the kitchen working on a festive meal for my near and dear, that’s definitely cause for celebration.

Australian Christmas being summer also calls for chilled, bubbly drinks. A beautiful tall glass of cold champagne is perfect when you’re working up a thirst slaving over a hot oven while everyone else is playing with their presents.


I have to admit, I have been indulging in more than my fair share of bubbles this season already. But there has been a lot to celebrate! Not the least of which is the release this week of “Charmed”, my new Destiny Romance novella. I might also advise you to keep a cool drink handy when you’re reading it – it might just get you a little steamed up!

Have a very merry Christmas and hope you get to enjoy your favourite beverage while you’re cooking. Let me know if you’re a champagne drinker, like me – or do you have another preference?

Emmie, you know I love a glass of wine but what about our readers? Whatever is in the glass you raise this holiday season, may it bring you happiness, good cheer and a very happy 2014.

Charmed coverBook Blurb:

When a handsome and charming stranger reluctantly enters the magic shop where perky Melanie Cooke works as a psychic, she fully expects to give him a standard reading and send him on his way. But for the first time in her life, her powers fail her and the reading goes horribly awry.

Michael Harrison was dubious about the idea of seeing a psychic, but given the attraction between them, he’s prepared to put first impressions aside. Yet as he and Melanie get to know each other, Michael is forced to confront his past, and to face the fact that Melanie may be more than she seems.

Will fear and suspicion ruin all or will the magic and power of love keep them together?

Buy links:




Emmie on the web:





Cooking The Books – Jennifer St George + print giveaway

Chef with cookbookOoh gadgets! It’s really the very best time of the year to be talking about the acquisition of new kitchen toys. Any girl with cheffy pretensions can’t go past new kitchen stuff and Christmas is the time to get it. I’m expecting a Kitchen-Aid under the Christmas tree this year <whistles innocently> but now I’m starting to wonder. Because Jennifer St George is here to tell us about a machine the name of which has been swimming around at the outer reaches of my consciousness for some time. I’m all ears. But first I’m all eyes for Jennifer’s brand new Destiny Romance print release, Sweet Seduction, containing two gorgeous romances. Here’s Jennifer:

Those Magnificent Cooks and their Thermomix Machine!

Okay, have you heard of Thermomix?  Apparently, as I learned recently, the Thermomix is the king of kitchen JSGappliances. The German made machine can multi-task better than any woman. It can chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir and steam. It certainly has more kitchen skills than I do.

Apparently this thing is so good that half the chefs in the country have one (or more) sitting in their kitchens. Australia’s top chefs, including Adriano Zumbo, Tetsuya Wakuda and Adrian Gilmore, have given it the thumbs up.

Being someone who likes facts, I checked out Choice Magazine.  It rated Thermomix ahead of all its competition. So I did some further investigation.

The thing can make an Orange cake in 30 seconds (excluding cooking time), raw cacao and macadamia cheesecake in 158 seconds (excluding chilling time) and mushroom risotto in 12 minutes.

So, as fortune would have it (is it fortunate?), one week after hearing about this amazing machine, a friend invites me to her Thermomix party. Yes, they are only sold through demonstration parties (like Tupperware). I will enjoy a three-course meal all made by the Thermomix, so that’ll be good.

But then there is the price!

I can’t include the price here as my husband may read this post and I just might want to buy one. But, apparently I will be transformed into a kitchen goddess with this device. This is a pedestal I have wanted to be placed on since I realized even my spaghetti bolognaise was worse than average (quite a blow).

Being a lousy cook, I like to make my heroines fabulous cooks.  Charlie, my heroine in Seducing the Secret Heiress, is a fantastic cook. So much so that she competes in my hero’s reality TV show. She wouldn’t need a Thermomix.

Seducing the Secret Heiress (and my other novel The Convenient Bride) has now been been published in print under the title of Sweet Seduction and is available through Big W and other good books stores just in time for Christmas!

So, my question is, has anyone else heard about these amazing machines and would you recommend them. Leave a comment to go into the draw for a print copy of Sweet Seduction (Australian delivery only).

Sweet SeductionSweet Seduction Blurb:

Together for the first time in one heartwarming volume.

The Convenient Bride

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family’s hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience that will secure his next business deal and save Sienna’s hotel.

 In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of luxury and opulence. Antonio soon realizes he has vastly underestimated Sienna. Unexpectedly, she gets too close, and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio’s perfectly planned life begins to unravel . . .

Seducing the Secret Heiress

Diamond heiress, Charlotte Wentworth, is passionate about two things – cooking and her fiancée, Paul. Until the day she finds out Paul has been unfaithful. 

Charlotte flees to Europe, determined to build her own life without her family’s fortune. When she meets gorgeous TV producer, Gabe Grenville, she keeps her connections secret and soon finds herself the star of his new cooking show. But how will he react when he discovers Charlotte’s true identity?

Buy Links:

Sweet Seduction is available through Big W and other good book stores. Ebook available:



You can find Jennifer at:






Cooking The Books – Carolyn Wren + Giveaways!

Chef with cookbookIT’S beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, as they say in the classics. The third week of November and I’ve already acquired an annoying Christmas carol earworm. But what I don’t object to at this time of year is curling up with a good Christmas romance, something that takes me to the far side of the world and treats me to a traditional Christmas complete with yule logs, snow-laden fir trees and wassail. And if there’s a ghost involved, so much the better. This week I’m joined by award-winning author, Carolyn Wren, who has a fabulous Christmas novella, Ghosts of Grace Cottage, out now. She’ll be giving away two e-copies of her novella to commenters but first, here’s Carolyn!


My parents immigrated to Australia from England in 1966 when I was 3 years old.

They brought all of their Christmas traditions with them. I still have warm memories, literally, of roasted turkey and steaming hot vegetables, consumed on scorching hot Perth Christmas days in the dining room of our non-air-conditioned house. Mum was also a stickler for dressing up in ‘Sunday best’ on the day, adding to the perspiration factor.  My own Christmas day cooking is considerably different.  I’m a big fan of crisp salads, cold turkey and seafood platters, served outside on the patio, with everyone dressed in t-shirt and shorts.  In 1995 I purchased the attached book, for the lowly price of $4.95 and not a year passes when I don’t use it.  I love this book, it’s so simple and straightforward, from the traditional turkey roast – I do mine on the bbq – to the icy cold fruit punches, and the most delicious, super easy choc fudge recipe, which I have adapted and tweaked over the years.  I have included my version here, and I encourage everyone to try it.  Trust me, it’s a real winner.DSCF1045

Carolyn’s Choc-nut fudge.

1 x 200g block of dark cooking chocolate – a good quality brand is worth the extra cost.

200g of dark choc buttons

65g butter

1 x 400ml can skim condensed milk

50g chopped/flaked nuts of your choice – I always use flaked almonds, but chopped pistachios work great.

Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.

Add broken up chocolate and chocolate buttons

Add condensed milk

Microwave until everything melts – check and stir every one minute as the mixture continues to cook as you stir. It should take only 2-3 minutes to fully melt, depending on your microwave.

Add nuts and stir

Pour into a shallow baking pan lined with baking paper – mine is 8” x 10” and 1” deep.

Refrigerate and cut into squares when firm.

This is a wonderful easy dish to take to Christmas parties.

GhostsofGraceCottage_LRGGhosts of Grace Cottage

I always wanted to write a Christmas story.  An idea popped into my head one day and I found myself falling in love with two sexy, Regency ghosts, living under a curse in a quaint English country cottage, and a woman who has lost her Christmas spirit.

Released 15th November as an e-book.

Here’s an Excerpt:

“Are you sure?”

Elly grinned at her friend. “Sal, I think you’re doing this wrong. You’re a realtor. I’m looking for a house. Your job is to talk me into buying, not out of it.”

Sally, her lifelong buddy and trainee real estate agent, looked dubious. “It’s old.”

Elly let her gaze wander over the deep red bricks of the cottage almost obscured by the climbing white rose. She saw the faded paint on the window frames and doors, the cracked tiles on the roof. None of that mattered. Something about this place called to her, tugged at her. “Imagine it with snow on the roof.”

“I’m imagining the roof collapsing.”

“Just look at those flowers. Who ever heard of roses blooming so close to Christmas?”

“It’s a freaky property. The climbing white roses bloom all year round. The bushes in the front garden don’t bloom at all, ever.”

“Imagine lying in bed and letting the fragrance waft over you.”

“Imagine lying in bed and letting the freezing cold wind waft over you from the cracks in the wall caused by the climbing roses penetrating the mortar between the bricks.”

“You do realize, Sal, you have no romance in your life.”

“I have plenty of romance in my life. It’s six inches long and comes with batteries.” Sally turned to her. “Are you sure you want to rush into something now? So close to Christmas?”

“Yes. I spent the last twelve months travelling. It’s time to come home.”

“But…” Sally’s words trailed off.

Elly put an arm around her shoulder. “I know it’s the first Christmas without my parents. Life goes on.”

“You’re so brave.”

“No, I’m not, even after a year. Maybe it’s because I know I’ll see them again one day. You can’t avoid bringing up the subject of Christmas with me. It’s everywhere I look.” She gestured to the fairy lights in the trees and the snowman in the garden next door. “Just because I’m not up to all the festivities this year, doesn’t mean everyone else has to suffer.”

“I don’t know why you don’t buy a lovely new place with the life insurance money.”

“My folks always wanted a country cottage. Maybe in some ways I’m fulfilling their dream.”

Sally yanked the collar of her coat higher as a chill breeze flew along the quiet country lane. “You know she died there,” she whispered. “The previous owner, I mean.”

“Miss Hardy was ninety-two years old. She had to die somewhere.”

“Doesn’t it freak you out?”

“Nope, from what I hear she had a long and happy life.”

“Really?” Sally shivered. “I don’t know where you get that idea. She was a recluse who wouldn’t let anyone inside the house to do repairs and renovations.  That’s why it’s so cheap. Did you hear the rumors? Some people say she used to talk to herself, and strange noises came from inside late at night.” Her voice dropped back to a whisper. “Maybe it’s haunted. I heard another rumor too.  They say a witch might have lived here a couple of hundred years ago.”

Elly laughed. “Sal, honey I think you have to go back to realtor school. Your selling method leaves a lot to be desired.” Her eyes turned once again to the faded beauty of the old home, and her voice was determined. “I want it.”

So what about you? Do you love a traditional Christmas, no matter how hot it gets downunder? Or are you a seafood and sandals type?

Available from.  Secret Cravings PublishingAmazon,  Amazon Australia,  Barnes and Noble,  All Romance Ebooks,  Bookstrand and Smashwords.

You can find Carolyn at:

Cooking The Books – Nicole Hurley-Moore

Chef with cookbookToday’s guest has hit on the perfect recipe for the cold, wet weather we’re having in Melbourne. When it rains like this I just want to fire up the oven and start baking. So welcome to Nicole Hurley-Moore, an Australian writer of historical romance and the only person I know brave enough to work her way through Larousse Gastronomique! Now there’s a challenge. Here’s Nicole.

Hi and thanks for having me today on Cooking the Books!!nicole hurley-moore
My latest novel, Dancing on Air is a sweet Victorian era romance with a little spice. In a way, it reminds me of my great, great Aunt Ethel’s gingerbread cake recipe. Not only is it sweet with a touch of spice but it almost fits into the right time period.

bigstock-Ginger-Cake-paidforThis recipe doesn’t make a huge deep cake and the mixture is a little thin (so don’t worry!).

¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter
¾ cup Golden Syrup
2 cups of plain flour
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda (bi-carb)
1 cup of hot water
2 beaten eggs

Mix sugar, butter and golden syrup together.
Then add flour and spices.
Mix the baking soda and water together and then add it to the mixture.
Finally add the two eggs and mix well.

Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 30-50 minutes.

Dancing on Air official imageBlurb:

Cinderella meets Swan Lake in a cross-class, Victorian novel about a ballerina, an aristocrat, and the space in between them.

Lisette yearns for freedom, security and love, but none are offered on the run-down stage of The Imperial Theatre. Instead she has hard work, a tyrannical aunt, and the hope of one day becoming a prima ballerina. Dancing on the stage she catches the attention of two powerful men: Lord Gainswith and Lord De Vale.

Lord Evander Gainswith never expected to fall in love, let alone with a woman so wholly unacceptable to his family and his peers. The sinister Lord De Vale covets Lisette’s youth and strength, and is willing to pay well for it. Lisette may dance roles in fairy tales and fantasies, but the real world is about to intrude, bringing with it the harsh realities of life for a young girl with dreams of rising above the demimonde.


London, 1884

Lisette was weightless as she leapt into a grand jeté across the stage. She was free and in that moment her heart soared past the walls of The Imperial Theatre. She landed lightly and began the fouetté en tournant, whipping her leg from fourth position to behind her knee; she created impetus to spin on pointe. After the eight revolutions, she planted her feet and lifted her hand in the air, stopping in front of her aunt. There was a slight wobble in her legs and she tried not to wince. Fixing a smile on her face she prayed that her aunt had not noticed. Lisette had wanted perfection but had fallen short. A trickle of sweat slid its way down the middle of her back, her heart beat rapidly and she tried to catch her breath as her aunt stepped forward.

Marie Devoré regarded her niece for a second. Her eyes bore into Lisette’s before she raised her hand and slapped her across the face.

Lisette’s head jerked to the side as the burning sting radiated over her cheek.

‘What was that? A farce…? A comedy perhaps?’

‘No, Aunt Marie, I am sorry that I wobbled,’ she said as she looked at the well-worn wooden floor and resisted the urge to cradle her cheek.

‘When you finish, the movement must be sleek, clean and set in stone, without any trace of a tremble.’

‘Yes, Aunt.’

‘Go, out of my sight. Prepare the costumes for tonight’s performance,’ Marie said with a wave of her thin hand. ‘You will practice again tomorrow. Without the wobble.’

Lisette bowed her head before running off into the wings of the stage. She ran as fast as she could past the burgundy velvet curtains, beneath the scenery fly and the rigging, down the narrow flight of stairs that ran beneath the stage, until she was in the cool and narrow corridor, which led deeper into the bowels of the theatre.

Her cheek burned but it was the sting of failure that hurt all the more.

Thanks for being my guest today, Nicole. You can find Nicole and her books here:





Escape Publishing


Cooking The Books – Louise Reynolds + Giveaway

Chef with cookbook

Cooking breakfast for someone you love must be one of the most romantic things you can do. The hot, sweet part of the night is over and now one of you needs to provide fuel. I always like the idea of a man cooking breakfast. It’s sexy, capable and in the hands of the right person, can be very expressive.

So when Jake, my hero in Outback Bride, makes breakfast for Lara the morning after they’ve made love, I wanted it to be special. But he’s an outback guy so he doesn’t have smoked salmon, croissants or bircher muesli. He’s got bread, bacon and eggs – and his goddaughter sitting at the kitchen table. Here’s what he does with them: OutbackBride_cover

Damn, but it was a great morning. Jake took a knife and cut a ragged heart shape in the centre of a thick slice of stale bread and slipped it into the hot fat in the pan, admiring his handiwork. Today called for something beyond the usual biscuit-cutter circle, and an egg would run as easily to the edges of a heart shape.

Jessie sat at the table spooning cereal into her mouth. Every minute or so she grabbed a soggy cornflake and tried to feed it to her doll. Usually the milk dribbled across the table annoyed him, and personally he expected Barbie would rather have a double-shot skinny latte but this morning he just smiled.

The old pipes hammered with the sound of water heading to the bathroom where Lara was no doubt slicked with hot soapy water. Jake closed his eyes and offered a prayer of thanks then slid a guilty look across at Jessie.

They’d been quiet. Real quiet. It had been like fooling around as a teenager, trying not to make any noise. But that had only served to intensify the emotion. Moans had been smothered with deep kisses that had led to a lot of groaning. He’d slapped a playful hand over her mouth and she’d licked it softly then taken his fingers into her mouth one by one until she’d melted, her eyes going hazy and unfocussed. Then, when she’d started to move and the bedsprings creaked, he’d stilled her and pulled her closer. Their first time had been slow and intense. Deep.

Should he even be thinking about this stuff with a child in the room?

He’d fix those bloody springs. Soon. Better still, he’d jump on the net right after breakfast and order a new bed. King size. Well-sprung. He flipped the bread and cracked a fresh egg into the heart shape. He was an artist.

Footsteps sounded in the hall. He wanted to turn and take Lara into his arms but he kept his eyes on the pan, not wanting to look too eager.

‘Well, hey, my two favourite people.’

As good mornings went it suited Jake just fine and now he turned. Lara stood in the doorway wearing tracksuit pants and a T-shirt and towelling her hair dry before twisting the thick length into a loose coil and letting it fall over one shoulder. Her face was scrubbed and pink, her eyes sparkling.

‘Just in time. I made breakfast.’

Heart-shaped toastAnd he can cook.’ The private look she sent him ricocheted straight to his loins. Jake grabbed a plate and slid the fried toast and egg on to it, draping a little crispy bacon to the side.

Lara dropped a kiss on the top of Jessie’s head and sat in the chair next to her. Feeling slightly embarrassed, he placed the plate on the table. She looked at it, then rotated it and cocked her head to the side. Okay, so the egg white had spilled over the edges and the heart shape was a bit blurry. Finally she blushed as a small smile crept to her lips.

So what about you? What’s your favourite breakfast to serve your beloved? Or is there something you’d love to try? I have a kindle copy of Outback Bride OR a print copy of  Her Italian Aristocrat to give one commenter.

You can find me at:




Outback Bride can be purchased here:


Kobo Books



Destiny Romance