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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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13 All Black and Rugby Facts

Thursday Thirteen

The World Cup Rugby tournament is currently underway in Britain, and as I write this the quarter-finalists have been decided after several weeks of pool play. I’ve been cheering for the New Zealand team.

Thirteen All Black Facts

1. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby union team.

2. They start each International game with the haka, a Maori war dance.

3. Their name, the All Blacks, comes from their uniform, which is a black jersey with a silver fern and black shorts. They were first referred to as the All Blacks in 1905.

4. The All Blacks won the inaugural World Cup in 1987.

5. The next time they won the cup was in 2011, and the team is attempting to be the first team to win back-to-back world cups.

6. The All Blacks were the 2014 Rugby Team of the year and are presently ranked the number one team in the world. I hope that record stays in place for the rest of the year!

7. The current captain, Ritchie McCaw is the most capped player in the world. He has played 145 games (probably more by now!)

8. Rugby union was introduced to New Zealand by Charles Monro in 1870. He discovered the sport while attending Christ’s College in Finchley, England.

9. The first recorded game in New Zealand took place in Nelson between Nelson Club and Nelson College.

10. A New Zealand representative team toured Britain in 1905. They are known as The Originals.

11. An Originals rugby shirt recently went to auction in Cardiff and sold for $275000.

12. International rugby was suspended during the First World War but a New Zealand services team competed in the King’s cup, a services competition.

Rugby Jersey

13. All Black Dan Carter holds the record for the most points scored – 1552 as at the beginning of October and hopefully more by the end of the World Cup tournament.

What is your favorite sport to play or watch?

Sources: Wikipedia and AllBlacks.com

Best Man, Weddings & Rugby

Things have been chaotic at my house during the past week. I’ve been trying to write while hubby has been at home, due to his ladder fall. Thankfully, I managed to make my deadline, although I had to escape to a cafe for two days. Seized & Seduced, my manuscript, is now with my editor, and I moved on to the next project. Below is the cover for Best Man, which is a rerelease.

Best Man by Shelley Munro

This is the blurb:

A society wedding—the celebration brings both joy and regret for groomsman Jesse Peters. Jesse wishes things were different and his dreams of becoming a professional rugby player didn’t come between him and fellow groomsman and rugby teammate Grayson Lynford, the man he craves and has secretly lusted after for months.

One chance encounter and everything changes—hot, steamy lovin’, blistering passion and primal heat. Hunger between Jesse and Grayson blazes searing and intense. A future seems possible until reality intrudes and threatens to destroy Jesse’s relationship with the best man he’s ever found.

The buy links should be live soon.

Tomorrow I’m off to a genealogy talk about English Parish churches at the central Auckland library.

Is anyone else interested in genealogy?

R is for Rugby

R

Rugby season is in full swing in New Zealand, and I couldn’t be happier. Some call it our national sport. I call it inspiration since big, burly rugby players make great romance heroes. Our All Blacks are the current world champions. Women play rugby these days, and our Black Ferns are champions too. We also have a very good Sevens rugby team.

rugby

Here are some facts about rugby:

1. Our New Zealand team, the All Blacks, are the current world champions. It bears repeating!

2. No one is really sure when or where rugby truly originated but a popular story is that William Webb Ellis picked up the ball in 1823 and ran with it instead of playing to the rules of the game. It’s said that this act was the start of the modern game.

3. The rugby ball is oval in shape. Originally they were made from pigs’ bladders and a person blew them up. It’s possible to become ill from blowing up diseased bladders, so it’s lucky that this is no longer necessary!

4. The All Blacks always do the haka before the start of an international rugby match. See H for Haka.

5. The same whistle is used to start the opening game at each World Cup Tournament. It’s called the Gil Evans whistle, named after the Welsh referee who was in charge of the match between New Zealand and England in 1905.

6. A rugby match consists of two halves, which are forty minutes long, plus a 10 minute break at half time.

7. There are 15 players per team.

8. Players advance the ball by kicking it or running with it down the field, known as a pitch.

9. The first ever rugby game took place between Scotland and England. Scotland won.

10. The International Rugby Board (IRB), which was formed in 1886, governs the game. There are 97 unions in the IRB.

Have you ever watched a rugby game?

H is for Haka

H

The haka is a Maori war dance or a challenge, which is performed by males. The word haka actually means dance and in the past, women used to take part too.

These days, many of our sports teams do the haka. The All Blacks, our rugby team, do the haka before each game against another country. It’s a challenge to their opposition. Our Sevens rugby team perform the haka if they win a tournament. You might have seen them during do their haka after their recent win at the Hong Kong tournament. They take off their shirts and…

*waving face*

More about the Sevens later. Our defence forces sometimes do a haka at a funeral for fallen comrades or during other ceremonial times, such as when they ship out of a country–a kind of a farewell.

Below is a series of videos featuring the haka.

 

And it’s back to my favorite haka – the one the New Zealand Sevens Rugby team does every time they win a tournament. This is the haka they performed recently, in the rain at Hong Kong.

 

Have you heard of the haka before?

Hunter’s Decadent Truffles

Weekend CookingI’ve discovered a new meme called Weekend Cooking. It’s hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Since I often post recipes, this is a happy find for me. Follow the link above to Beth’s blog for further info on the meme.

And now to my recipe…

Hunter Blair, one of the heroes from my upcoming release, Eye on the Ball is having trouble in the romance field. He wondered if a box of these truffles might help his cause – at least that’s what he said in my hearing, but this conversation didn’t make the final draft of the book. Here’s the recipe Hunter uses:

Hunter’s Decadent Truffles

Tauranga 076

 

Ingredients:

250 g/1 cup/9 oz cream cheese, softened
500 g/2 cups/18 oz icing sugar (powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
375 g/1.5 cups/13 oz dark chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Sift the icing sugar to remove any lumps and gradually add to the cream cheese until well blended. Melt the chocolate and add to the cream cheese mix until well combined. Refrigerate for about an hour. Once the mix has hardened shape into balls. Roll in nuts, coconut or sprinkles. Refrigerate until eating.

Shelley’s notes.

1. I always make these for Christmas, and since it’s summer down here in New Zealand, the refrigerate until eating instruction is important.

2. I’ve given measurements in grams, cups and ounces. Follow the relevant measurements for your country.

3. For the chocolate – my husband and I like hazelnuts so we use a bar of hazelnut chocolate as part of the chocolate measurement. You could add a few nuts or pieces of dried fruit to the cream cheese mix if desired.

4. I rolled my truffles in coconut, cocoa powder and cupcake sprinkles. Check out the cupcake bling section at your supermarket for different sprinkles. Use your imagination Smile

5. Eat and enjoy with friends.

A Weekend in Wellington

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Wellington and my upcoming weekend.

1. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is about an hour flight from Auckland.

2. It’s always very windy in Wellington. I’m hoping we have reasonable weather for our weekend since we’re intending to do a lot of walking and outdoor things.

3. We’re going to visit the Botanic Gardens and ride the red cable car to the top of the hill, walking back down through the gardens.

4. There’s also a teahouse. I’ll probably need a cup of tea to warm up since we’re heading into winter down here in NZ.

5. We might wander past our parliament buildings, also known as the Beehive because of the round shape.

6. There’s a pub near the Beehive called the Backbencher where they have 3-D puppet heads of NZ politicians on the walls as decorations. We’ll probably stop by for a drink.

7. We’re going down to see an exhibition of Monet paintings at the Te Papa Museum.

8. According to the Te Papa site we’ll see twenty-seven stunning paintings by Claude Monet – including works from his Water Lily, Haystacks, and Rouen Cathedral series – plus works by Impressionist masterpieces by Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro and others.

9. While I’m at Te Papa I’m looking forward to seeing the giant squid that they dissected last year. They broadcast the proceedings on the Internet and people watched around the world.

10. We might fit in some shopping and definitely some eating.

11. On Saturday night we’re off to the rugby at the stadium on the waterfront. It’s affectionately called the Cake tin because of its shape. Wellingtonians are big on nicknames!

12. It’s ANZAC day, the day where Australians and New Zealanders remember the battle at Gallipoli and our fallen soldiers. The curtain raiser match is NZ Army v Australia Army.

13. The main match is a Super 14 game (the tournament where NZ, Australian and South African teams battle it out) and the ACT Brumbies are playing the Hurricanes. (Australia team v New Zealand team) It should be a great match. I just hope it doesn’t rain!

What are you doing this weekend?