Blissful Bali

There are few places more romantic than the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. No wonder it was where I chose to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary last year. Just me and my husband in our own private villa at a gorgeous hotel in Seminyak, on the west coast. A week of utter bliss!

A private pool just for two

A private pool just for two – so romantic!

It was one of those vacations that I couldn’t fault. The weather was perfect, the resort* divine and the Balinese people as charming and hospitable as we remembered from our first visit to the tropical island fourteen years previously.

Lush tropical growth everywhere

Lush tropical growth everywhere

No wonder I chose Bali as the setting for my fourth book for Harlequin Romance, From Paradise to…Pregnant!— released in print and e-book on June 02 in North America, the UK and Australia and New Zealand. How could I resist such a perfect place for a romance?

Sunset on the beach at Seminyak is spectacular

Sunset on the  beach at Seminyak is spectacular

My heroine Zoe and hero Mitch knew each other at high school—he the jock, she the nerd—but their friendship didn’t end well. When an earth tremor hits Bali, they meet again as they’re both staying at the same hotel. (Yes,  I was inspired by the area where we stayed. No, we didn’t experience an earth tremor when we were in Bali!)

The frangipani tree in Zoe's hotel courtyard is significent

The frangipani tree in Zoe’s hotel courtyard is significent

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And the sweetly scented frangipani flowers…

As they comfort each other after the shock of the earthquake, a private villa with its own pool became the perfect place for Zoe and Mitch to make amends for the past and become aware of their intense attraction to each other.

Afternoon tea - Balinese style. Beware the fiery green chili hiding in that pastry!

Afternoon tea – Balinese style. Beware the fiery green chili hiding in that pastry!

We loved the food in Bali, so of course I had to have the newly reunited couple share a meal. I wish I could recreate some of the delicious dishes we had there. I’ve looked up recipes online but they don’t taste the same. Next time I go to Bali, I’ll do a cooking course!

Fresh pineapple juice by the pool - perfect!

Fresh pineapple juice by the pool – perfect!

Of course, as is the way of romance novels, a lot happens between Zoe and Mitch’s reunion and the end of the book where they have a happy-ever-after ending. They leave Bali behind them as they travel home to different ends of the world — but the memories stay with them.

The memories have stayed with me too —  I can’t wait to go back to Bali.

From Paradise to…Pregnant!  has two covers, one for the North American market with the same image used for the Australian cover, and one for the UK. I think both reflect the feel of falling in love in a tropical paradise. The first one could be in that very pool in the villa in Bali and the second one on the beach.

 

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North American cover

 

UK cover

UK cover

 

From Paradise to…Pregnant! is available where Harlequin books are sold and at onlinebook retailers.

 

*We stayed at The Elysian in Seminyak and can highly recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fantasy islands

Tropical island. White sands. Palm trees. Warm, aquamarine waters. Just the stuff of romantic fantasy—and the fictional setting for my new romance THE CASTAWAY BRIDE.

If only it were real…

Samsao Island in the Angthong National Marine Park

I had to keep pinching myself when, just days after THE CASTAWAY BRIDE was published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, I found myself on a beautiful tropical island—just like my fictional characters Matt Slade and Cristy Walters. And so much of what I experienced echoed scenes in my book.

Na Muang I Waterfall, what an idyllic place to swim

Beautiful beaches? Tick.

Swimming under a waterfall? Tick.

Exotic fruits to feast on? Tick.

Dragonfruit (right) is almost too pretty to eat

Thanks to Procter & Gamble and Ambi Pur air care, I was on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand on a media familiarization tour in the form of a “sensory journey”. (Gotta love my “day job” as a magazine editor!)

Early morning at beautiful The Scent Hotel, Bangrak Beach, Koh Samui.

There were, however, some major differences between fictional fantasy and media trip reality. No gorgeous, bare-chested hero like my fictional Matt Slade for one thing! (Though I was in great company with the most delightful group of journalists and media people.) And I got to stay in a beautiful hotel—unlike my heroine Cristy Walters, who has to bunk down in a ramshackle survival hut with scratchy sheets and no bathroom. (Sharing it with hot hunk Matt does somewhat take the edge off her discomfort!) Oh, and I didn’t have to get shipwrecked like Cristy and Matt to appreciate my scent-alicious sojourn. It was work, but work of the most enjoyable kind!

Bliss!

The trip was amazing—and over only too soon. But isn’t that the great thing about fiction? If I want to escape again to a romantic destination, I only have to flick through the pages of a book to transport myself anywhere in the world. And, as a writer, I get to create my own fantasy destinations with everything that appeals to me  all in one place!

My trip to Koh Samui, while bringing to life some of locations in THE CASTAWAY BRIDE, also fueled my imagination with scenarios for future stories. My lucky characters have lots of treats in store for them!

(If you get the chance to go to Koh Samui, I highly recommend The Scent Hotel. It was one of the loveliest small hotels I have ever stayed. I would SO love to go back one day with my husband!)

The Castaway Bride

I love the cover!

Deep breath. Toe in the water. Dive in!

I’ve joined the indie e-book publisher community. THE CASTAWAY BRIDE went live on Amazon and Smashwords on the weekend, and will soon be up at Barnes & Noble and other e-book retailers.

It’s kinda scary to put a story out there by yourself, when you’ve only worked with a publisher before. But I have faith in my story; got it professionally edited; a beautiful cover designed by the amazing Hot Damn Designs; learned how to format; and uploaded.

I was inspired by all the buzz surrounding indie publishing at the Romance Writers of America national convention in New York City. And, as I have worked as a magazine editor for most of my working life, I wasn’t daunted by the process.

Within hours of the book being on Amazon, I got my first review—five-star and very positive: “A fun story with spicy scenes make this a great beach read.”

What more could I ask? Thank you, lovely reviewer!

One of the first question people ask me is: “Is there a dog in THE CASTAWAY BRIDE?” (My books LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, published by Berkley Sensation, have lots of dogs in them.)

Yes and no. Burnt out and betrayed by people he trusted, my hero Matt Slade is taking time out on his yacht. He’d love to have his beloved black Labrador Jake sailing with him, but Jake gets seasick and so can’t be on board. Matt has to Skype his dog to keep in touch. So Jake is part of the story but never actually appears on the pages.

Needless to say my heroine Cristy Walters finds this endearing in such a hot, handsome hunk. I couldn’t love a man who didn’t love animals, and I don’t expect my heroines to either!

But the focus of THE CASTAWAY BRIDE is purely on two people, both emotionally wounded in their own way, finding passion and true love on a beautiful tropical island. With white sands and turquoise waters; waterfalls and palm trees. Sigh! No wonder I liked writing this romance so much—it’s a happy, sensual fantasy. A love story. I so enjoyed giving Matt and Cristy their happy-ever-after!

 THE CASTAWAY BRIDE

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005J01FKU

 

 

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/83486