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Photo Essay: Playing to Win #Kindle #romance

My romantic suspense, Playing to Win is set in New Zealand. During the course of the book my hero and heroine take a journey to Taupo, a childhood haunt of mine. Here are some photos of their journey to go with the text…

Matamata

Kate listened to the ebb and flow of his voice and laughed as he painted colorful word pictures of a group of men and the close bonds between them. This man not only appealed to her senses, she liked him too.

There was little traffic on the road and none of the usual hold-ups due to road works. They passed Matamata and Waharoa with its small cafes and antique shop. Jersey cows grazed in lush green pastures while other herds ambled to the sheds for their afternoon milking.

“How about a stop in Tirau for a cup of coffee?” Kate asked.

“Sounds good.”

 

~*~*~*

Sheep's Head, Tirau
“I like Tirau,” she confided when they sat at one of the outside tables. Relaxed, now with more space between them, she leaned back to enjoy the sun. “I enjoy browsing in the antique shops, and I always make time to look in the shop over there.” Kate pointed at one of Tirau’s landmarks. The entrance to the shop was a large sheep’s head made of corrugated iron. Through the gaping mouth or doors, shelves were crammed full of wool, soft sheepskins and hand-knitted sweaters. While they watched, a bus filled with tourists pulled up in the car park and the passengers descended on the staff.

“Yeah, I noticed it before. It’s impressive. The tourists seem to enjoy their visit.”

 

~*~*~*


Antique shop, TirauIn the last shop, Kate lingered in front of a small pink music box. Not an expensive one but the type a young girl might fill with treasures. With a gentle finger, she pushed open the lid and the sweet strains of Swan Lake rippled through the shop while a ballerina twirled around and around. “I haven’t seen one of these in years.” She slid her teeth over her lower lip, disturbed by the bittersweet memories the tinkling tune evoked of her parents and happier times. “Not since…”

“Since?” Lane’s indulgent tone made her want to weep. He was so different from Steve.

“I used to have one almost exactly the same.” Until Steve broke it after he’d caught her smiling at one of his friends.

 

~*~*~*

Shelter BeltsLane appeared with several packages. “Do you want me to drive?”

Kate shook her head. “Thanks, but I’m happy driving.”

Gradually the scenery changed from farmland to pine plantations. Tree shelterbelts of a different species glowed in autumn colors ranging from green and gold to red and burgundy, protecting newly planted pines from strong winds.

“Nearly there,” Kate said as she drove through the outskirts of Taupo.

Lane peered toward the lake. “If we’re lucky, we’ll catch a glimpse of the mountains. There isn’t much cloud.”

 

~*~*~*

Mountains and Lake Taupo Although early evening, they could make out the trio of mountains, Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe across the large expanse of blue-black lake.

Kate let out a satisfied sigh. “This is one of my favorite views.”

They shared a smile. “I’d forgotten how beautiful the New Zealand scenery is,” Lane said. “I haven’t visited Taupo for years. Where is Adam and Danielle’s holiday home?”

“Tui Road,” Kate answered, negotiating traffic and the holiday pedestrians still thronging the streets. “You can’t see the mountains or the lake from their house, but it’s only a ten-minute walk to the water.”

SHELLEY’S NOTE: Unfortunately on the day I visited there was cloud!

 

~*~*~*

Tree and Lake Taupo

Lane, who had walked over to a set of sliding doors to watch the boys, said suddenly, “John, I think we’re needed. The boys have snagged the kite in a tree.”

“But there’s only one tree in the reserve,” John said.

Kate moved to survey the scene. A bubble of laughter escaped. “The boys have caught the kite in it. It looks as though they’re deciding who retrieves the kite.”

John groaned. “Come on, Lane. Supervision required.”

 

~*~*~*

 

Here is the blurb for Playing to Win:

Playing to WinThe truth has many layers…

Professional rugby player, Lane Gerrard is used to women throwing themselves at him, but a scurrilous tabloid article naming him as father of a child sends his temper soaring. The woman he confronts doesn’t fit the blackmailer profile. Kate Alexander is attractive with an enchanting innocence, enticing. A total stranger. Her feistiness draws his unwilling admiration, but the child…he is the image of Lane.

Kate can’t deny her son’s similarity to the sexy man at her door but no way will she hand him over without a fight. Kate doesn’t possess money but she can shower her son with love. With public speculation rife, Kate reluctantly works with Lane to discover the truth. They grow closer as distrust slowly turns to mutual fascination, but the tabloid articles bring out a stalker. Mild pranks escalate into danger, and suddenly Lane realizes Kate is a woman he could love. With Kate and her son, he could have a family. Now, with his heart on the line, this is one game he’s playing to win…

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Behind the Scenes: Summer Encounter #Kindle #Romance

Summer EncounterA few years ago my husband organized a golf trip to the Gold Coast of Australia for members of the local New Zealand RSA (Returned Services’ Association). I’m not a golfer, but the lure of sunshine, half naked lifeguards on the surf beach, great shopping, and the chance to relax and do a little writing was all the incentive I needed. I packed my bags, ready to tag along.

Most of the group was a lot older than us, although I hasten to add, very fit and lively and definitely switched on. Our group consisted of couples plus three elderly bachelors. We called them “the boys”.

On the first day we arrived late morning and checked into our holiday apartments. We lazed around, deciding to meet up in the bar later that evening before going out to dinner in a group. The three boys were in the bar when we arrived for drinks. We purchased beer and wine and sat down outside to enjoy them while waiting for everyone else. The boys had already been out exploring.

“We’re going to the Burleigh Bowls Club for dinner,” one of the boys said.

“Yes,” another agreed. “Cheap meals. The beer is a good price as well.”

We nodded.

“And,” said the third boy, “There’s a dance at the Bowls Club tonight.” He paused to waggle his eyebrows. “We’re gonna grab us a granny!”

We roared with laughter. Not terribly P.C., I know, but I still grin each time I think of the three elderly men going off to the dance.

The next day, while the others were out playing golf, I pulled out my laptop and started pondering about what to write. The phrase “grab a granny” popped into my head and refused to leave. I decided to blend fact with fiction and write about a woman on a golf trip meeting with a younger man. Of course, the phrase “grab a granny” was in the story, although it wasn’t in relation to my heroine. I called my story, Grab a Granny.

Of course, the title Grab a Granny isn’t terribly romantic, so after consideration, my story became Summer Encounter.

Believe me, ideas are everywhere!

Shelley

Here’s the blurb for Summer Encounter:

Sophie Walker is on holiday in Australia when a hot and handsome cutey kisses her right in the middle of the Burleigh Bowls Club. The man fires slumbering sensual fantasies and sends her hormones swooping. Sophie wants to take a bite before she realizes it’s Isaac Shepherd—one of her daughter’s ex-boyfriends. Chastened, Sophie tells herself to forget the younger man, but it seems the attraction is mutual.

Sunshine. A hot, young stud. Steamy sex. The perfect recipe for total relaxation until the end of the vacation looms and Sophie doesn’t want to let Isaac go.

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Gold Coast Beach

Gold Coast Beach

Taking in some sun on the Golf Course

Taking in some sun on the Golf Course