and all her books look foward to meeting you at the…
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and all her books look foward to meeting you at the…
Purchase your tickets HERE
(All Brisbane readers)
‘Not so rough!’ 9 watched 23 hurl the human across the rock floor. ‘We need the specimen unharmed.’
23 grunted before skulking into the darkness.
Mel and I exit the car and make our way down to the creek where we’ve been told we’ll find Fenella Rose-Waterman, heroine and manageress of, The Cranky Lizard Winery.
It’s a hot day and we both welcome the cool shade which envelopes us as we near the Creek. Clear, sparkling waters run down the ravine and over rocks creating an aura of sublime peacefulness.
“There she is.”
Mel points to our left where a petite woman with midnight hair and clothes that match, stands, skipping pebbles across the surface of the water.
I wave as the two of us toddle toward her.
She steps off the log she’d perched on and saunters over to us, hand outstretched. Her green eyes are bright, but gaurded, unlike her expression which is open in a blank sort of way.
“Juantia said we’d find you down here. How are you?” Mel shakes her hand and we all stroll back to the log Fenella had stood on moments earlier and sit down, Fenella between us.
“Fine.” She leans back and picks up a reptile, “This is Lucky.”
I cringe a little and Mel admires the scaley spiked headed beast.
“He won’t bite.”
A soft grin lightens up her face as she strokes the Bearded Dragon, sporting a red collar and matching leash, before putting him down on the ground before us.
“So, care to tell our readers a little about yourself?” I decide to start the interview.
“Muzz and Liv Waterman adopted me after my own mum died. They accepted me with all my troubles and worries. Never gave up on me. So here I remained, and now I manage the place.”
“That’s wonderful. Do you have any regrets?”
“I trusted a ratbag with my heart and my business.”
“My ex. He emptied out the winery’s bank account.”
Mel and I give each other a painful glance. Wolves in sheeps clothing are every where these days!
“How do you see yourself?”
Fenella cocks her head and a dark shadow passes across her gaze.
“A survivor. I’ll never let anyone break me. But the shadows of my past seem darker on my down days.”
Mel shifts on her seat, “I like your leather bracelts.”
Fenella subconcoiusly grips one and twists. The movement pushes it up and I catch a glimpse of keloid scarring. This girly’s been through helluva lot more than she lets on.
“Anyone special in your life?”
Fenella’s eyes shoot toward me before she looks down as a frown creases her brow.
“He?” Mel gives Fenella and interested look.
“Kieran Murphy. But it’s too dangerous to get too close.”
I give Mel a , What the heck?, look and she shrugs.
The distant rumble of a car engine and tyres on gravel echoes across the warm air.
“Look. I’ve gotta go. It was great meeting you guys. Please feel free to pop by for a bottle of wine, on me.” She proffers a small smile then stands up, “Come Lucky, works a waiting.”
When the shadows ride in Wongan Creek…
Fenella Rose-Waterman is happy running The Cranky Lizard winery until a broken relationship lifts the lid on the Pandora’s Box of her past. After years of repressed memories haunting her dreams, she is forced to face the truth to find justice. But with truth comes a danger that puts everyone she loves at risk.
Kieran Murphy left Wongan Creek a newly-wed and returned a widower. He believes he and his young son will find healing in the town that healed him once before. Instead, he finds the woman he loved running scared, her life in turmoil and her business under threat.
As the shadows of the past gather on the horizon, will they lose their chance of happiness or will they find healing together?
Other Books by Juantia Kees
The humidity outside is a killer today. Mel and I are grateful that the large club has super awesome air-conditioning, working overtime.
“Hi.” A sweet, plump, bright red-haired girl greets us. “You’re here for the Luke Jones / BookBaybZ interview?”
Mel and I nod as we peer around the large dark entrance as the girls toddles off to find our interviewee. The bar, which sits down the back of the club, is decorated in a myriad of different shaped bottles containing a variety of alcohols. The black tiled floor is dotted with tables and chairs, with an open space, I assume is the dance floor, which stands between the tables and a large stage with a silver sequenced curtain draped across it.
“Hi.” A sultry voice ripples across the stale beer infused air.
“Hi.” We turn and both hold out our hand. A cheeky grin spreads across his handsome face as he reaches out and shakes both our hands simultaneously.
“This is Mel,” I wave toward my partner in crime. “And you can call me Mich.”
“Luke. Let’s sit.” He waves us toward an alcove with plush red leather seats.
“Mike!” He calls out to the barman.
“The usual?” A tall lanky built man, with hair I doubt has ever seen a comb, calls back.
“Yeah… What would you girls like?”
What a smile. The old cliché of melting panties with a smile, is no lie.
Our voices echo in unison across the open club.
Mel takes out her iPad and keyboard as I fold open my sheet of paper and questions.
“Shall we get started?” Mel pushes back the spectacles slipping down he nose.
“Yeah.” Luke drapes himself over the chair.
Q. When and why did you start playing, and what was your first instrument?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play. There are photos of me from a very young age struggling to pluck away at a guitar that was bigger than me. My dad taught me, as he did all of his four boys. It was kind of this special skill and interest that brought us closer as a family, and especially as father and son.
We’d sit around and sing and play, just jamming out whatever came into our minds. Or we’d do it jukebox style. Our mom would yell out a song and if us kids didn’t know it, Dad would call out the keys and cords and we’d jam it that way.
Q. Which instruments do you play?
Guitar is really where it’s at for me, although I hold my own on keys. I also know my way a drum kit, but I sound like a proper drummer after they’ve been hit by a truck, and are forced to play with their arms in traction.
I sing too, so I guess you could say I can play my vocal chords.
Q. Which famous musicians have you learned from?
I’m lucky enough that I get to play with some of the most talented musicians on the planet, and I learn from them every day. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorites and idols – Hendrix, Santana, John Mayer, to name a few. But cheesy as it sounds, my bandmates inspire me more in real life as I’ve witnessed what it’s taken to get as far as they have. That even goes for my brother. Bahahaha!
Q.Have you ever written a song, and if so, what inspired it.
Arlo writes most of the songs for the band, but I’ve actually written and recorded a whole album, which I will be releasing as a solo artist next year. The thought is both exciting and terrifying.
In terms of what inspired it, it was a number of things, but the most influential by far was an epiphany. I guess you could call me a late bloomer, but it just recently occurred to me that we only get one shot at this crazy thing called life. There are no do-overs. Therefore we owe it to ourselves and to the people we love to make the best we can of it every single day. Until I am to that realization, I wasn’t doing that. In fact, I was getting in my own way, and blocking my own path to happiness.
This album is about the events that lead me to that clarity of thought, and how every day I’m determined to repay the happiness debt I owe, both to myself, and to my love.
Luke Jones is the central character of MV Ellis’ rock star romance Finding Marnie, released February 12th 2019. He also features heavily in the rest of the Heartless Few series, of which Finding Marnie is book four.
Their love is a legacy of broken hearts and shattered dreams. Can they find each other without losing themselves?
He is everything I want but know I can never have.
Every fiber of my being has ached for Luke from the very first moment we met. However, with my parents’ legacy of toxic obsession woven into my DNA, I know love is pain and should be avoided at all costs. I’m unloved and unlovable. Still, in moments of weakness, I allow myself to imagine what it would be like if I was the kind of woman who deserved the love of a man like him.
She is hiding in plain sight, waiting for me to find her.
Marnie has had my heart from day one, and always will. It’s just a shame I couldn’t muster the words to tell her so when we first locked eyes. It’s a failing I will live to regret for years to come. However, I’m determined to make things right, even if it takes me a lifetime. I need her to know she is enough. In fact, she is more than that. She is everything.
They’re hiding in plain sight. Can they find each other without losing themselves?
MV ELLIS knows what it’s like to fall head over heels in love with a badass musician. She followed her heart halfway around the world to be with one. She moved from London to Sydney after a steamy holiday romance with a sexy bass player in sultry Brazil.
Fourteen years, two children and a dog later, and she’s still smitten. All this with a guy she sat next to on a bus for 36 hours! She has toured internationally as a ‘WAG’, and her experiences inspire her writing.
Ellis’ love of romance began when she was 11 years old, after a summer spent secretly reading her auntie’s books. She’s been a sucker for an alpha hero and strong heroine ever since.
Claire pressed the green button and the printer spat out another fistful of orders. She picked them up and headed into the blissful cool of the back room, close to the walk-in fridge. It was only eleven, and they had been busy since seven. No wonder her sister had asked her to come and help today. Even with three florists working full time, Valentine’s Day was a bear.
She pulled out a stack of trays, placing an order on each. Then she selected flowers, ribbon, oasis and wrapping paper, putting everything on the trays, so that the florists only had to work their magic.
It was not until she glanced at the delivery address on order eight (roses (12): colour mixed), that a chill ran up her spine. It was her address. It was her name. Quickly, her eye scanned downwards.
‘Greg Harlow.’ She knew that name. Claire closed her eyes briefly and a face swam into view. Disordered ginger hair, straight eyebrows under frameless glasses, freckles and an auburn three-day-growth… Unit 22. Her downstairs neighbour.
He was pretty cute. When she had moved in eight months earlier, she had noticed him alright. But she had been seeing Dave at the time. So even when they met at the bus stop or down by the bins, she had done her best to play it cool.
What was the instruction for the message? She looked again.
‘From your secret admirer.’
A smile played around her mouth. Two could play at that game.
She left at four thirty and stopped at Coles on the way home. She had seen enough meat lover’s pizza boxes go into his bin to know that he wasn’t vegetarian. When she got off the bus and dragged her shopping up the stairs, she made a quick stop outside his flat, carefully placing a sealed envelope and a single, long stemmed rose outside his door. Claire threw a couple of steaks into marinade and made a salad.
When it got to six-fifteen, Claire positioned herself in the corner of the landing so she could see his door. He trod up the stairwell, briefcase under his arm, as usual. Claire watched avidly. At his door, he put the key in the lock before he noticed anything, then bent and picked up the rose, breathing in its fragrance, stroking the soft petals. He sliced through the envelope with the edge of his house key and pulled out the single printed sheet.
Claire took in the look on his face and grinned to herself.
Fifteen minutes later, Claire carried her picnic hamper down to the communal garden and BBQ area. Greg rose and laughed, his face a picture of bashful pleasure.
‘I hoped the note was from you. How did you know?’
‘I’m psychic.’ She smiled at the look of shock. ‘Kidding. You sent your order to the florist where my sister works. I was helping out today while uni is still on vacation.’
‘Wow. Maybe fate is on my side then?’
‘Maybe.’ She pulled a bottle of Jacob’s Creek sparkling out of the hamper and handed it to him. The cork popped and she held up two champagne flutes. ‘Thank you for the roses. They are lovely.’
‘My pleasure.’ He clinked his glass to hers and met her eyes. ‘Here is to mutual admiration.’
‘Here’s to us.’
Jez wished she’d taken more notice of the signs, especially the hints of habitation in the cave she currently stood outside that she and her second, Jana, had discovered the previous shift. It was something that had been instantly dismissed by the expedition leader.
But what was currently studying her so intently was of far greater concern.
Jez and her team had spent the last six shifts determining if this moon was suitable for a permanent base. Moon SC579, nicknamed Scandal by her team, had breathable atmosphere, enabling them to explore without the bulky space suits, though they did wear breathers and carried a state-of-the-art AI com unit. But Scandal was a barren wasteland, unsuitable for habitation.
Jez shifted slightly, observing with equal intensity the tall, humanoid-like alien standing less than an arm length away.
The plain, utilitarian uniform he wore outlined his strong muscular structure, leaving no doubt as to his gender. Jez had the distinct impression he’d spent most of his life wearing similar apparel. It blended perfectly with the dry, fine texture of the surrounding ground. She couldn’t help but stare at his feet. They were encased in some sort of animal skin, but there was nothing primitive about the construction. In fact, his footwear looked perfectly suited to the moon’s surface, though her team had found no trace of any other living species.
Until the cave.
Her nurturer had always told Jez that a male’s feet could tell her a lot about his character. If he stood firmly and calmly, then he was likely to be even-tempered. The larger his feet, her nurturer had insisted, the more virulent, lusty or passionate he was likely to be.
Surprisingly, Jez had found her nurturer’s predictions to be uncannily accurate when it came to the males of her world, though passions were rarely expressed openly.
The male before her had big feet, but they were proportional to his height and body structure. He towered above her taller-than-average height. His weight was evenly balanced on his large feet, his breathing regular while he maintained steady eye contact. The feeling Jez got while she studied him was that he was curious and bemused by her presence. A deep calm, a feeling of safety, settled over her. She instinctively knew he posed no threat.
And Jez always trusted her instincts. It was why she was standing outside the cave, alone, while the rest of her team were scouting the distant crater rim.
“This is sacred ground.”
His voice had a deep timbre, one that sent shivers down her spine. A reaction she didn’t dare display, didn’t want to give into at all. She stepped back. He mirrored her move, bridging the gap she’d made. His eyes were an intense and mindboggling silver with mauve tints. The same hues as his hair, but his skin had a deeper, darker shade. She thought him handsome but tried to squash those thoughts before they surfaced.
“You are here to mate,” he stated as if this was a well-known fact.
He was still staring at her in much the same way she was staring at him. Jez straightened. In-built and well-learned protocol overtook her reticence.
“I am Commander Jezebel Hedin, Tenth Exploratory Team of the Damari Organisation for Galactic Settlement.” She tilted her head towards him. “And you?”
He stood even straighter, his height and muscular body displayed proudly. “Ge’ez Amour, Executive Commander of Interstellar Relations, Takako.”
He recited his designation in clipped terms, though what he’d said gave her virtually no information. DOGS, or rather their more formal term, the Damari Organisation, would probably mean nothing to him either.
Of course, she’d known as soon as she and Jana had found recent and obvious occupation inside the cave, that some unknown entity was sharing the moon with her team.
She also knew that this Tack-a-kay-o, presumably his home world, was somewhere the Damari ruling class would vehemently deny existed, regardless of whether anyone had ever heard of it or not. It wouldn’t matter that the proof of its existence was standing right in front of her. Indeed, her instincts insisted she keep this unauthorised meeting hidden. As they had before she’d reported the cave discovery in the vaguest terms possible.
“You are female,” he stated. “Yet you stand on the mating grounds alone and unprotected.”
She gasped as he stepped forward and took her wrist. His long fingers, surprisingly cool, held her gently but firmly. He took one, long breath while a finger pressed on the vein inside of her wrist. Her rapid heart rate was anything but normal. The last time it was so raised was at her command award ceremony, many cycles ago.
Was her life really so … predictable? So lacking in excitement?
She kept her eyes on the male, inhaling through the breather which added a bit more oxygen into her system, calming her.
“You are fertile.”
“And where are your instruments that allow you to make such a claim?”
“Takako males can sense a female’s readiness to mate,” he replied.
Still holding her wrist, the tip of his finger began making slow, caressing circles. As a wave of desire swamped her, leaving her shaking inside, she continued to stare into his silvery eyes. Eyes that had become more iridescent, the mauve flecks appearing and receding in mesmerising ripples.
Jez wasn’t scheduled for testing until well after she returned from this exploratory journey. Even then, if her defiance in returning to the cave without authorisation was discovered, any chance of reproduction would be lost. Something Jez had known when she made the decision to return. It didn’t matter that Jez longed for offspring. Nor would the fact that her ancestry could be traced back through a long line of explorers originating from Old Earth. If this unauthorised and unexpected encounter was discovered, Jez would be demoted and returned to an even duller, less certain future than before.
It was just as well she’d disabled the tracking and recording functions on her AI before heading towards the cave. All she’d left operational were the mandatory health checks and the interpreter module. That way she had plausible deniability.
“I have waited aeons. Now, just when I’d become convinced the gift of a mate was not for me, the Entity delivered you to the mating grounds.” He seemed to emit excitement and deep pleasure, the mauve in his eyes completely taking over the silver for one, brief, moment. “Come.” He gave her still-held wrist a gentle but insistent tug.
“Wait.” She resisted his pull without much effort. “Where is this mating ground you speak of? Is it the cave?”
“This moon,” he said, indicating the entire area, “is the sacred mating grounds of Takako, available only to those who have earned the privilege, and gift, of a promised mate. The cave is the site I chose for you, my mate, as the best defensible abode available.”
“I am not your mate. I don’t even know if our species are biologically compatible.”
“We are,” he insisted, “the Entity would not have brought you here while fertile if we were incompatible.”
“That’s not how these things are arranged,” she insisted.
She ignored her rapidly beating heart, her tendency to lean her body towards him, the overwhelming knowledge of his alluring existence. All that was irrelevant. They could not mate. The ramifications, no matter how tempting, would mean her immediate exile to the outer reaches, a place very few survived.
“Then whatever you require, I will provide.”
Jez could hardly think straight, an unusual occurrence for her. One she knew stemmed from the temptation to leave everything she knew behind. For him.
“To reproduce… This is determined by the ruling class, who only consider parameters that ensure success,” she explained, though why she bothered was unclear. “It is scientific and precise, with no chance of errors.”
“The Entity does not make mistakes either. Obtaining a mate is an honour given to few but hoped for by many.”
“It is the same in my world too.”
“Truly?” he queried, like he didn’t quite believe her. “You form a lasting partnership, sharing food, shelter, your body and your most intimate thoughts, with your mate?”
“No. There is no interaction between the male and female at all.”
He crossed his arms. “That sounds…”
“Clinical,” he countered. “Where is the relationship? The deep bond between the two responsible for giving life to the next generation? Where is the caring, the shared responsibility, the love, required to bring offspring into the world so they can grow and learn and become responsible citizens, a credit to their family and their world?”
Jez shrugged. “That’s not the way reproduction occurs where I come from.”
“Then the Entity was wise indeed to send you to me. As my mate you will be cherished and honoured for the rest of your life.”
He studied her again, not quite as intently as he had at first. More like he was cataloguing her features, discerning what was going on inside her head. She hoped males of his species could not read minds, because hers was a swirling mess of confusion battling with her growing attraction and longing.
“I have worked hard to prepare a comfortable abode for you while we await the return of my spaceship. I have moisture and victuals and bedding. I am a good provider, a leader of my people. And as my mate, you have the protection of the entire Takako warriors to call on, if necessary.”
“So you expect me to accompany you when you return to your world?”
“Of course. Once mated, we will never part.”
“Never.” Again, he paused, his silver and mauve eyes never wavering from her face. “Come.”
This time, he did not close the distance between them as he initially had. Instead, he stood still, his arm outstretched towards her. He awaited her decision, in the full expectation that she would agree to become his mate.
Her long-held desire for offspring, to be chosen to produce the next generation as well as a respected explorer, bubbled up inside her until the desire to reproduce, as fast as possible, sucked all her attention like an uncharted black hole opening without preparation. To give in, to go with him into the cave, was so very tempting. He was very tempting.
His determination was more than alluring. His outright certainty that they were meant to be together was reflected in every muscle, in every sinew of his body. That was so satisfyingly reassuring. His willingness to take her presence as a gift from whoever this Entity was and not an accidental circumstance, said a lot about his dedication and steadfastness.
He was giving her time to make up her own mind. He was not forcing her to do anything she did not want to do. His consideration, his treatment of her, was so diametrically opposite to the way those in the Damari Organisation and the DOGS ruling class, she could barely believe it possible.
But she also trusted him. Fully, instinctively, and deeper than their brief time together warranted. What he promised, a close, intimate relationship where not only the essentials were shared for mutual survival, but also the good times, and the bad. Thoughts of being cherished, of having her thoughts and her instincts listened to and acknowledged settled any trepidation she’d contemplated. Sharing her life with the male before her, alien though he was, and living the life he promised, was more than enough to sway her.
“Come,” he said once more, taking her hand and turning towards the entrance of the cave. “Our future awaits.”
With a smile that wouldn’t be dimmed, Jez willingly followed him into the cave. If all he said came true, the future that awaited them was brighter, more exciting than anything she’d ever experienced before. She’d be a fool to turn away from the hope that existence gave.
And Jez was no fool.
Who is Jasmine Stevens?
Jasmine Stevens is a Romance Author based in beautiful Newcastle, Australia. The natural beauty of the serene beaches of Newcastle and the tranquil countryside of The Hunter Valley, influences her when writing her Rural Fiction novels. She is an avid reader, lover of tea, Mum of two teenage children, a wife and the owner of one very spoilt Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Q. What sentences in writing have changed your life?
That’s easy. The quote comes from The Bronze Horseman written by the talented Paullina Simons. It said, ‘Ask yourself these three questions, Tatiana Metanova, and you will know who you are. Ask: What do you believe in? What do you hope for? What do you love?’
At the time of reading this book, I was experiencing a lot of self-doubt about my writing and wanted to quit and I did quit- for two days. Then I read the above quote and I asked myself ‘What do I believe in? What did I hope for, and what did I love? The answers came easily- I believed in myself to have the determination and courage to keep trying to reach my dream of becoming an author. My hope, was to one day see my words published and my love, was writing. I love writing with a passion, and I knew I couldn’t quit. I had a go, I believed in myself and now I am proud to hold a copy of my first novel in my hand. It’s a feeling I cannot begin to describe. It’s simply amazing.
Q. What book is Belle reading in Beauty and the Beast?
I have to admit I needed to look this up. Who knew that this was a thing? Really? I got swept up in the many, many, many theories. Some say the blank blue book Belle is reading is Aladdin or Sleeping Beauty. Some say it’s a lesson not to judge a book by its cover, relating to The Beast. The theory I believe, is that Belle is reading her own story before it happens. She sings about faraway places, daring sword fights, magic spells and a prince in disguise. What do you all think?
Q. Which book left you feeling empty inside once you finished writing it?
It wasn’t so much a book but a short story I wrote in year 12 for my HSC. It was called The Family Portrait and was about a family of elephants who lost a calf and other family members to hunters. The story focussed on how the older calf helped his Mum through a difficult period. The story ended when the calf was grown and it was time for him to leave the herd and start his own family. I invested so much time into this story that when it was finished I felt like the story wasn’t completely done. There was so much more to tell. I wanted to know where the calf ended up. Did he make a family of his own? What adventures did he encounter along the way? I felt his story wasn’t finished.
Q. Who is the best villain you have written to date?
I don’t want to give too much away as this villain is in my second novel All of You. But let me say my villain is not a nice man and is seeking revenge on a police woman that killed his son.
Q. What is the best opening sentence you have written?
The opening sentence of my debut novel is:-
A plume of dust swirled up behind Charlotte’s shiny Mongoose bike as she pedalled speedily along the loose gravel road which weaved like a maze through dense bushland.
Eighteen years ago, Charlotte Denver left the quaint country town of Holbrook after a tragic accident. Now, she’s back in town to renovate her old family home, which will feature in the magazine where she’s employed as a journalist. Making the rundown house sellable will allow Charlotte to sever all ties with her tragic past and finally move forward with her life. That is until the one person she’d spent all these years trying to forget is contracted by her magazine’s editor to help her complete the job.
Will Beckett is no longer the twelve-year-old kid who used to play practical jokes on her, tease her and make her belly laugh. Now he’s a ruggedly handsome, sweet talking, successful builder. Despite Will’s wholesome country charm and sexy smile that makes Charlotte’s heart skip a beat, she’s determined to concentrate on the job at hand and protect her heart at all costs.
Will never thought he would see his best friend again, but now she’s back, as stubborn and strong-willed as ever. Her return reminds him all over again of everything she lost because of him, and he desperately wants her forgiveness. As they reacquaint with each other, Will becomes just as determined to reunite their friendship, as he is set to win her heart.
Can Will break through Charlotte’s wall of defence or will his heart be broken again?
Excerpt from Waiting For You
Charlotte’s senses came alive with the sights, sounds, and smells of being in the country. Memories flooded back to her in a torrent of emotions.
She could smell now, through the air conditioner vent, the unmistakable aroma of dairy farms and it made her remember Will’s father, Thomas. She had loved helping him milk the cows in the dairy and she adored those cows with their dribbling mouths and snotty noses. She had a sense of belonging back then, a feeling her life in Sydney had never given her.
It had been eighteen years since she’d left Holbrook. She had vowed never to return to the town that had robbed her of her happy and carefree lifestyle. In the days after the accident she had dreamt of the way life had been a week before, and still to this day, she would do anything to be able to go back in time.
You can buy a copy of Waiting For You, HERE
Where to find Jasmine Stevens