Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale

Downton Abbey Season Finale

Well, lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses, we have come to the close of another season of the PBS phenom, Downton Abbey.  As the end cap recapper (a joke for all my fellow retail sales friends), along with the fab, Jenny Gardiner, I want to thank you for spending time with all the Downton Gala gals as we’ve hashed, rehashed, and hash-tagged this third season of Downton.  If you’d like to quickly take a walk down memory lane, you can find the previous blog posts here:

Episode 1 - Laura Chapman

Episode 1 - Elizabeth Marx 

Episode 2 - Tracey Livesay 

Episode 3 - Meredith Schorr

Episode 4 -  Tracie Banister

Episode 5 - Cat Lavoie 

Episode 6 - Jen Coffeen 

Don’t miss the lovely, Jenny Gardiner’s recap on the season finale as well. 

This was a meaty season finale, so let’s jump in and get right to it.  This episode is time stamped one year after episode 6, so make sure that you’re all caught up before watching!  There were a lot of goings on, so consider this the ESPN highlight reel.  There were other happenings, such as a drunken Mosley whooping it up at the ball, ladies maids infighting, and Carson being a stick in the mud when it comes to tom-foolery and the staff wanting a day off at the fair, and finally Anna and Bates are happy, lovey-dovey campers.  Those are your brief Jen's Notes on those sidebar story lines.  Yet, let's get to the goods, shall we?


An Heir and No Spare
Let’s clear the elephant from the room, shall we?  Mathew is dead.  In the words of my beloved husband Mike, “Damn!  American producers would’ve just hired actors who look exactly like the ones leaving the show.  The Brits kill them off!  First Sybil, then Matthew?  Damn…”

We were left in the final sequences of the show with Lady Mary cooing and cuddling her newborn son, while Matthew, daydreaming of fatherhood and lineage, is victim to a nasty head-on collision.  His blood spills onto the ground, as Lord Grantham speaks of Matthew as the family’s saving grace to keep their fortune intact and their future promising.

*Jen asks for a moment of silence*

Thank you.  Now let’s get on to other matters at hand, shall we?

Airing of the Grievances
The Stalking Tweeds-Donegal Castle, Sctoland
     We open the season finale with the Crawley’s packing to leave on their annual pilgrimage to visit their cousins, Shrimpy and Susan, and the naughty little Rose at Donegal Castle in Scotland.  Robert left his puppy companion, Isis behind, to which Mike said, “It’s all going to Hell now!  Isis will be killed and eaten.  You never leave your dog behind!”
     Thankfully, my hubs is not an intuitive, nor a script writer!
     What we do find is Shrimpy and Susan are no longer fond of one another, their daughter, Rose, has become a handful they can no longer deal with, and Shrimpy says in confidence to Robert that their fortune has run out.  All Robert has heard and seen on this getaway, leads him to confess to Cora that he has complete faith in Matthew to turn things around for Downton, and that he cherishes their family and relationship.  Cora Swoons.  It’s magic! 

Rose will be joining the Crawley family soon to escape her overbearing parents.  My girl, Rose, wants to party all the time, and her parents just aren’t having it.  Sending her off to live with the relatives will be interesting next season.  We were given a taste of Rose’s teen angst when she visited London with Edith.  I ‘m sure there’s more to come, my pretties. 

     Oh!  I forgot to mention that in Scotland, bagpipes are the new alarm clock, doorbell, and dinner is served indicator.  I mean, when in Scotland… 

Flirting 101
While the Aristocats were away at Donegal Castle, the mice were having a heyday.  There were a whole lot of sheep’s eyes going on at Downton Abbey!

          Edna and Branson-Edna, you moved a little fast and were a bit uppity for Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes.  You flirted with the widower openly, stalked him at the local pub, and then bullied him into eating downstairs with his old homies before breaking and entering his boudoir and planting a big juicy kiss on his lips.  Über inappropriate and unbecoming a downstairs dweller.  So now you’re canned!  Too bad, so sad.  Perhaps you’ll get a second shot at romance with Branson, and airtime, next season.

          Sales Dude and Mrs. Patmore-What a cheeky bugger!  Mrs. Patmore has a suitor in the new spice salesman.  He sends her a lovely blouse, invites her to the fair, and creates his go-to list of lovely things that she can cook for him, because it’s really romantic to dictate to your date how you like your eggs prepared.  Mrs. Hughes sees how this gentleman is with the other ladies in town; a cheek kisser and fanny pincher.  She makes the decision to spill the beans to Mrs. Patmore about her suitor, and is relieved to find Mrs. Patmore is grateful for the FBI file on Mr. Flirty Pants, for she was not fond of his culinary demands.

           Doctor Clarkson and Isobel-Well, well, well…  Wasn’t that a cute little one-sided relationship?  Dr. Clarkson invited Isobel Crawley to the fair, and spilled his liquored-up guts to her about marrying again, and laid on the hints pretty thick that he’d love to lover her, baby.  It all went right over Isobel’s head.  Feeling squeamish that he’d been so forward, the next day Dr. Clarkson thanked Isobel for saving him from babbling on and on.  Again, the gal can’t take a hint.  I would love to see happiness bloom between these two next season, especially with the death of Matthew. 

          Thomas and James-More one-sided lust and love!  Thomas and James are working side-by-side, yet the awkwardness between them is so thick, you could frost it and call it a cake.  James imbibes a little too much at the fair after betting on Team Downton to win at tug-of-war, and came away victorious with a few extra shillings in his pocket.  James wanders off and is accosted by the sore losers, yet not far behind is Thomas who jumps between them all and takes a licking for James.  Robbed, and beaten to a pulp, a recovering Thomas is visited in his room by James, who wants clarity as to why Thomas was following him and jumped into the fray.  Thomas followed public intox, James, worried he could get into a pickle, and he certainly did.  Thomas pleads with James to put the whole sorry I locked lips with you while you were sleeping episode to rest, and they agree to be chums.  Isn’t that lovely?

          Edith and her editor-Although her editor stalked her on the family vacation, he’s married to a woman he claims is mentally ill and institutionalized.  Edith realizes she’s cool with being the other woman because he legally cannot get a divorce.  Her family is not thrilled with it, and she refuses to bend to their will.  Edith—what a sassy little side of you I’m excited to see more of next season! 

A Kinder, Gentler Dowager Countess 
Could it be?  Did we see a less meddling, snarky side of Violet Crawley last night?  Sure she had a few quips about leaving Branson unsupervised while they jetted off to Scotland; she’ll always see him as the chauffer.   However, she stayed out of Shrimpy and Susan’s bickering due to Rose’s choice of dress for The Ball, due to her own interesting attire choices as a young thing.  Her eyes grew large at the bagpipe blast before dinner, yet she zipped her lip.  Do not fret, my friends!  Violet and all her Violet-isms will return before too long.  Season four of Downton Abbey is currently in production!
     Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope you’ve all had fun with our little group of bloggers along the way!  Cheers to a riveting season of the wildly successful, Masterpiece Theater production, Downton Abbey.  Let’s also raise a virtual glass to success for the cast members we saw come and go.  I’m not sure how you might be feeling this morning, but Mike has claimed he will no longer watch Downton.  It’s not that his “man card” has been repo-ed.  He’s a tad pissed they killed off Matthew and Lady Sybil this season.  Poor thing.  He’ll recover quickly after watching a few episodes of Moonshiners, so don’t fret for him for long.   

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fact or Fairy Tale with Cari Kamm

What a special day it is for my friend, Cari Kamm.  Not only is Valentine’s Day her birthday, it’s also Pub Day for her new novel, For Internal Use Only.  Cari and I met over a year ago through our mutual dear friend, Heather Hummel.  I’m glad Heather liked us both enough to introduce us.  Or maybe Heather doesn’t like us, and was pawning us off on each other?  Regardless, I’m honored to have Cari here today.  She is a gem of a gal, sweet to the core, and a loving friend.  She’s also newly engaged, and I’m going to take this opportunity to publicly announce my candidacy as her flower girl.  *Jen has no shame*  Here she is; enjoy…

Fact or Fairy Tale?
A dream is a wish your heart makes – Cinderella

I have heard people say life is not a fairy tale.
Throughout generations, from our childhoods and even as adults, we have these invisible mentors.  Some examples include Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, Cinderella and the little glass slipper, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and even Robin Hood to name a few. Whether it’s family trips to Walt Disney World, bedtime stories while safely tucked in, or wearing your character themed pajamas in front of the TV as a kid (okay, I will own it, Minnie & Mickey Mouse for me . . . I adored the love story even at five), these invisible mentors have all influenced us at some point.

These fairy tales have caused some controversy over the years and have their critics.  My belief is that you can find the good and bad, the positive and negative, in anything in life if you studied it hard enough.  Overanalyzing, trying to pick every bit and piece apart, can cause us to lose focus and not truly experience the journey.  As adults we worry so much, we limit ourselves, we allow Mr. Fear to be part of the deciding process, and we question more than we believe.  When did having faith ever hurt anyone?  Why do we allow ourselves to lose faith so much? We should spend more time believing in ourselves, in life, in love, and in others.  We should spend more time in living and noticing the beauty in our friends, our career, our home, our body, our significant other.  Overanalyzing allows so many things to go unnoticed. Remind yourself to pause and to take time to find the greatness in life, the love, the humor, and all the lessons.

Fairy tales teach us as children when we are innocent and impressionable to focus on believing and succeeding. We can never lose hope; that would be equivalent to losing “heart.”  How can we live without our hearts?  I do not mean literally, as the organ responsible for pumping blood to sustain life, but putting ourselves into anything we do, to do it wholeheartedly and beautifully.
Fairy tales live within us.  They allow our spirits to remain alive inside us.  Next time you are looking in the mirror, take a second and smile back at the little girl or boy whose reflection used to stare back at you. See if you can catch a glimpse of that part of you, which still lives deep inside you.

Fairy tales have taught me to always be compassionate, to listen to my heart, to always be open to new experiences and people, that happiness is a requirement and always lives within me, and that sometimes things are not always what they seem.  Most importantly, to never forget that there is a happily ever after and that everything is possible. 

Whether it’s fact or fairy tale, my philosophy on love is that it’s for my internal use only. I believe that we should follow our own rules, listen to our own head, and follow our own heart. We should create our fairy tale . . . not chase it. Dating and falling in love is an emotional investment. I don’t think any rules truly apply.
I stopped following rules several years ago. Then, one evening I bumped into a man. Our first date was on Valentine’s Day and we’ve been together ever since. That was four years ago. We probably broke every rule in the dating guidebook. He’s my partner in crime for life.
You can purchase Cari's novel HERE

My novel, For Internal Use Only, is a love story with an edgy and dramatic twist, and gives each of us a new fairy tale to look forward to: our own.

The lovely Cari Kamm
Cari Kamm has worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, building brands, working behind the scenes, and even selling her own skin care line. She has a master’s in clinical nutrition from New York University. Kamm currently works in corporate social media management with clients in the beauty, fashion, and restaurant industries. Living in New York City with her mutt Schmutz, Kamm loves finding inspiration in the most unexpected places, being a novelist, and convincing her fiancé that ordering takeout and making dinner reservations are equal to cooking. More information can be found on her website, To check out the book trailer, click here:

Thank you for stopping by Princess with a Pen, and spending time with Cari and me.  

Happy Valentine's Day!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Come on Get Happy with Pj Schott

Come on Get Happy!

It is the first wonderful Wednesday of the month, and all you perfect Princess with a Pen peeps know what percolating, right?  It means the wonderful Pj is here!  Pj Schott has lived in several U.S. port cities, Europe, Greece, and the Middle East. A marketing professional, mystery writer, and futurist, Pj is known to those with whom she works as a problem-solver, an innovative thinker, a top-notch communicator, a visionary, and the soul of a group. She is the owner of the Boston, Massachusetts based company GENIUS and is the woman behind the new Facebook page and blog, Survival for Blondes, where Pj is entirely surrounded by imagined disasters and learns to rise above. 

Happiness is a Choice

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today," said Pooh.

"There there," said Piglet. "I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”

-- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Universal Law teaches us that nothing outside of ourselves can determine our happiness, and that we must take responsibility for everything in our lives. We might wait forever for our stars to align, for that lucky break, for the perfect person. So what do we do in the meantime?

How does one choose happiness? (And yes, this falls into the category of Simple, Not Easy.) Rather than wait for circumstances to change, we can decide to look at things differently. To see the good in every situation, no matter how awful it seems at the time. The tragedy that brought the right people together. The delay that proved beneficial. The failure that put us on our true path.

Pooh was a master of the art of changing one's attitude to one of gratitude. If he had to make a list, the following would probably be on it.

Count your blessings
Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.
Here's where the little things can turn into something huge. Whenever you feel unhappy, take a few moments and jot down some of the things for which you are thankful. I have food to eat, a job, somewhere to live. The sun is shining. I am healthy. I have close friends and family. What we take for granted, most of the world will never have in their lifetime.

See the big picture
My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.
It is easier to obsess over details than to tackle a big project. And sometimes working on small things can give us a sense of accomplishment. But when the small stuff starts to run amok, take two steps back, change direction, and take one small toward your dream.

Take control of what you can
The hardest part is what to leave behind, ... It's time to let go!
It's so easy to get into a rut. Routines and rituals can be comforting, but when you feel overwhelmed by your obligations, ask yourself what you could do to change the situation. And get out of your comfort zone if that's what it takes.

Change someone's life with a smile
A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.
Fake it 'til you make it. No matter how you feel, greet everyone you meet (within reason, of course) with the biggest, brightest smile you can muster. Smile as if your life depended on it. You have no idea what kind of burden other folks are carrying. You could turn their whole day around with your smile, Mary Tyler Moore. Now notice the effect it had on yours.

A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.
Good music is the only thing that motivates me to move, so Dance is my exercise of choice. No matter what kind of day you've had, an hour of Salsa dancing (or Zumba or Tango or Pole or anything you do to good music) will make you forget it all (you can't dance and think at the same time) and the movement will make you feel on top of the world.

Have a Zen day
Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.
Work is good. Goals are fine. But once in a while, for the sake of your Mental Health, you just have to thrown in the proverbial towel and follow the energy. What is your body asking for? A day in bed? A trip to a museum? Lunch with your besties? Anything you do just for the sake of doing it is also good for the Soul.

Can I get an amen?!  Pj, thank you for spending time with us and also for reminding us to be thankful, thoughtful, and restful while we wait for answers, the lucky star to shine, or for our goals to be met.  You all know how coolio Pj is.  She’s continuing to gift readers with a little Pooh Bear for the soul.  One lucky reader will win…

Click here for details at Amazon

Here’s the product info from Amazon:
“Walt Disney Animation Studios proudly presents the wonderful new adventure, Winnie the Pooh. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood for a heartwarming original movie, and reunite with the beloved bear and his silly but steadfast friends for a magical family experience. When sad old Eeyore loses his tail, Owl sends the whole gang -- Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga and Roo -- on a wild journey to help Eeyore and save Christopher Robin from the mysterious Bakson. Inspired by five stories from A.A. Milne's books and created in Disney's legendary hand-drawn style, this all-new classic introduces one of the world's most cherished characters to a whole new generation. Narrated by John Cleese and bursting with brand-new songs performed by Zooey Deschanel, this wonderfully whimsical film is a must-own for every family's movie collection.

All you need to do is tell us your recipe for happiness.  You never know, maybe your words of encouragement may be just the words someone else needs to hear.

RULES: *Contest will run Feb. 6-13 at NOON EST.
       *You must leave your email to be eligible to win, so please, please do not forget      because I so, so want you all to have a shot at winning!
      *GOOD LUCK!

Bless and be blessed,
Pj & Jen

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Q&A with Shasta Nelson

Q&A With Shasta Nelson

It is my pleasure to welcome to Princess with a Pen today, Shasta Nelson.  I liked her the moment we met via email.  I adored her when I realized we had the same haircut.  Love quickly followed, because she’s just that fabulous.  On the launch day of her new book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen, Shasta is here to chat with you about how herself, and her wonderful company, Girlfriend Circles.  Welcome Shasta!

Your background is in ministry.  Tell me a little bit about how serving others in that capacity came to be for you, and why you embraced it rather than being a “Jonah” like my brother-in-law calls himself (he graduated from divinity school at age 50 after “running” [his words] for so many years).  

LOL!  Well we all have our own journey to figure out the best way to contribute and my guess is that whatever your brother-in-law did before divinity school will serve him well now!  There is no such thing as wasted experiences!  For me, I was drawn to the community aspect of faith traditions.  I love that people can come every week, connect with each other, serve beside each other, and share deep conversations with one another.  My work in churches was filled with training small group leaders, teaching, and helping form relationships within the congregations.  But fewer people are finding churches to be the center of their social worlds now and I think there is greater need for me to help create community in other places. is one way I can help introduce women to each other in local areas.

I totally agree with you.  Women are so busy—swamped really—and their time is precious and fleeting.  What a great way to offer a sense of community and fellowship in a time we tend to be disconnected.

Girlfriend Circles gives women an opportunity to fill a space in their lives with companionship and friendship.  What was the catalyst for you to take this idea and make it available for women across the country?

Ignorance was a gift!  It was an idea I woke up with one morning and I just said "I'm gonna try this." I am not your stereotypical entrepreneur who was looking for a business idea; rather it just came to me and I felt compelled to give it a go. My willingness to try coupled with the conviction that we need more ways for us to connect has fueled GirlFriendCircles now to 35 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

WOW!  That’s amazing, Shasta!  Truly it is.  Something that began as an inspiration for you is inspiring others and growing.

What would be your ideal day with your girlfriend/girlfriends?

It would definitely include a lot of talking and good food!  Living in San Francisco provides me ample opportunities to eat yummy food. And before, during, or after that food, I always hope my time with friends is filled with meaningful sharing.  It's a beautiful thing to have people in our lives where we can talk with less of a filter, trusting the other person to really care, listen, connect, and reciprocate.  I think those moments where we share our hearts are some of the most beautiful moments of life.  Besides eating and talking, anything else we do together is just icing on the cake.

Since you mentioned cake, one of my favorite food groups, I love you even more!

What do you hope that women will take away from your new book, Friendships Just Don’t Happen?

Click HERE to purchase

That needing to find new friends is normal.  And that we don't just need to leave it to fate to introduce us to the right people as much as we need to know how to develop the right relationships with the people we've already met!  Certainly if we've just moved to an area then we might need to go meet a bunch of new people, but the vast majority of us know a ton of people but haven't yet learned how to transform those friendly acquaintances into meaningful friendships.  I'm really excited about my book guiding women to evaluate their 5 friendship circles and then actually knowing what strategy to put into place to help create the friendships they want.

What would you like to say to the woman who needs tools like the most, and also the one who feels like she needs it least?

To the one who knows she needs it, I'd say "Good for you!  Admitting it is the hardest part!  But research shows we're replacing half our friends every 7 years so it's really quite normal to need to foster new friendships.  I'm glad you're among those of us who are willing to do something about it!"  And to the one who feels like she needs it the least, I'd say, "Good for you that you have built up all the friendships that you feel you need. isn't for everyone.  I think of it like a health club-- it's one helpful way to stay in shape, but certainly there are many other ways to be healthy, too!  So if you've got the relational health you crave then blessings on you!  Please help us spread the word to others, and we'd welcome you at any time if you go through a life change and feel open to a new way to meet fabulous women!"

We replace friends every seven years?  That’s so interesting to me! 

You’re throwing a dinner party.  Any guest of your dreams is available to attend. *Jen raises her hand* Who’s invited, and who would you like to be seated to your left and right?

HA!  Okay, you can be on my right side!  That would definitely be awesome to meet you.  :)  And who else would I invite?  Honestly, my dream dinner party right now is 12 of my closest friends who all live spread across the country!  If I had won the lottery, I'd have paid to fly all my far-flung girlfriends to San Francisco where I could wine-and-dine them, and thank them profusely for being in my life.  They don't all know each other, but I think it would be magic to have all the women I've loved over the years all sitting around my table together!  And of course, I'd then give them each a copy of my new book and say "This is because of you!"  :)

I told you she’s adorable! Don’t you just want to put her in your pocket and take her with you everywhere you go?  Thank you, Shasta, for stopping by.  Please make sure you check out Shasta’s new book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen, on sale today!  Shasta is hitting the road and may be coming to a town near you.  Check out her website for more details.  

Bless and be blessed,


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Q&A with Rachael Johns

   I meet so many wonderful people in this life.  One of them is Rachael Johns.  She has been warm and loving, a wealth of funny stories and a shoulder to cry on; a cheerleader and friend.  I am so thrilled to have her at Princess with a Pen today to tell you about her newest novel, Stand-In Star.  

Okay, so in all transparency, I think we have to tell everyone that you are my Aussie sister from another mother.  Therefore, I will attempt to refrain from making my questions slant towards inside joke responses.  I will probably fail epically.  Some people might not know that you and I were both teachers in a former life.  Talk a little about making the step to leave the classroom; how challenging was that for you?  What do you miss most?
Well, I’ve always wanted to write even before I became a teacher, so although I enjoyed teaching, the dream was always to one day write full time instead. Taking time out of the classroom to have children, also gave me the chance to focus on my writing. I think I miss my subject most – I LOVED inspiring kids with my passion for books, movies, etc.!

That’s EXACTLY how I feel about leaving the classroom too.  I miss their little faces and hugs. 
Tell us a little about your latest novel, Stand-In Star.  Oh the upheaval that happens when an unassuming Australian heads to Hollywood to accept her sister’s posthumous academy award! It has fabulousness written all over it!
Why thank you Jen. I had a lot of fun writing about it. The idea actually began a long time ago, when I read an article in the paper about teenage paparazzi photographers. It was fascinating to read about young boys who’d made squillions of dollars stealing photos of stars and I decided I wanted to write about a hero who was once in that position. Of course then I had to find a heroine.
I decided my hero could live in Hollywood and about the time I was thinking about it, Heath Ledger was nominated for a posthumous award and my heroine was born.
This is a fish out of water tale but also one of opposites attract. There’s lots emotion, a bit of glamour and of course and eventual happy ever after. Hey, I write romance, no apologies!

And girl…you keep writing that romance that you write so well! Who were the earliest influences on you as a reader?  What were your favorite stories as a child, teen, and as the young, carefree Rach who didn’t have a mortgage to worry about?
My Mum ALWAYS read to me, so I’d say she was a big player. I loved Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series and in my pre-teens I devoured ALL the Babysitter’s Club series. I also loved Judy Blume. I had a reading drought throughout high school – far more interested in boys – but Bridget Jones’ Diary brought me back and also got me writing. PS. I don’t have a mortgage at the moment – lol

I’m moving in with you for the summer, *Jen crosses fingers hoping Rach thinks this is a marvelous idea* so tell me about the places in Australia that I MUST see.  Not just the favorite spots for tourists, but also the sites that are special in your eyes.  *Jen is packing a large duffle for kangaroo smuggling out of the country*
Haha, you ALWAYS crack me up. Trust me, summer where I live is not very nice – we reach sweltering temperatures. Or do you mean, you’ll come in YOUR summer. Our winters can be quite nice.
Hmm… now… places to see. Our beaches obviously! I’d take you up north to Broome because I’ve never been there either. Fremantle markets. A sweet little lake near us. You’d have to go on a farm stay (because aside from contemporary romance for Carina Press, I also write rural romance for Harlequin Australia so I’d want to take you Outback)! I’m actually coming up blank – I’m one of those people who’s seen more of other countries than my own. We can travel together J

Give us a little sneak peek at your book that will be released next.  Do you have a date for publication yet and will distribution reach the US?  Am I still the main character?
I’m sorry m’dear you’re one of the secondary characters (heroine’s best friend) in Man Drought, which has just been released too but is only available down under at the moment L  *Jen says RATS she cannot get the book! And YAY she’s in the book at the same time!*
Here’s a short extract from Stand-In Star when the heroine realizes exactly who the hero is and tries to leave his hospitality:
Ignoring the jolt of lust that slammed into him at the sight of her, he blocked the stairs and folded his arms across his chest. “Where do you think you’re going?”
She spoke in a level tone, firm, polite but cold. “Please step out of my way. There’s a taxi waiting for me.”
“Not anymore.”
Her eyes widened. “What do you mean?”
He shrugged. “The cab came. I told the driver we didn’t need it. He went away.”
We didn’t need it?” She shoved the suitcase down, narrowly missing his toes and not showing any indication of remorse. Her hands snapped to her hips as he instinctively jumped back. “There is no we, Nate. Last time I checked I was a free agent. I stupidly accepted your offer of a room of my own free will and now I’m changing my mind. Of my own free will.”
“And where do you plan on going?”
“As amusing as you may find it,” she snapped, “I’ve called the hostel and am heading back there. Not that it’s any of your business but I’d rather be rooming with ten jovial backpackers than tip-toeing around in paradise with a two-faced traitor.”
“Whoa.” Holding up his hands, he stepped back at her harsh words. “If this is about the pool incident, I apologized.”
“Hah,” she snorted. “Your sorry was more of a grunt. But as it happens, your blunt and totally inhospitable treatment of me since I arrived is only part of the issue. I’ve just seen myself on the nightly news.”
“Congratulations.” Surprisingly, she didn’t look all that pleased about the fact. He was having immense difficulty following the direction of the conversation.
“Congratulations? Is that all you have to say?”
“What exactly do you want me to say?”
“Well, the truth would be a nice start.” She stepped down and—his reflexes a little bamboozled—managed to yank her suitcase past him. “But since you’ve been lying since the airport, I’m not expecting nice.”
Right, that was it. He’d had enough of being yelled at by a lunatic female in his own house. Before she could reach the front door, he turned and clamped his hand around her arm. “I’m not the one living a lie.”

You and I are going on a walkabout (yes, I am throwing in a little Crocodile Dundee movie quote).  You know that I am all about the snacks that would be packed away for this excursion.  So, tell me what’s in the bag?
Ooh now THAT is easy. Since it’s your first Aussie walkabout, we’ll pack Tim Tams (regular flavor and caramel ones), Clinkers (Aussie lollies covered in chocolate), Diet Coke (cos I need it), flour to make damper, Cherry Ripes and Boost chocolate bars (two more Aussie chocs you don’t wanna be without)!
I think Tim Tams is my new favorite word combo, yet I have no clue what I’m saying!  For instance, LMT (hubs) makes me mad, so I’ll say, “You big Tim Tam!”
When you think about the greatest influences on you, past and present, tell us who made a difference in your life and why?
My Mum, my gran and my granddad. My dad was never around and these three awesome people sacrificed a lot to give me the best life possible. I learnt so much from them and had so many opportunities because of them. I may not have had any dad at all, but I never missed out!
There’s also been a few awesome teachers in my life. One of whom I’m now friends on Facebook with J

Rach… Aww…  I love girls who love their grannies!  I miss mine desperately.  I truly do.
Vegemite.  Explain. 
A weird taste maybe the best thing ever on Toast or crackers!! And also really good food when you’re not feeling very well. Comfort food indeed!

What would readers be surprised to know about you? 
I love mice and would have them as pets if my hubby would let me!

It’s girl’s night in!  What are you making me for dinner, then what movie are we watching on your couch that you want to throw in the dumpster?
Making? Girlfirend, you’d be MUCH safer if we ordered takeaway. I’d go a nice curry or some Mexican! As for movies, it’d have to be Love Actually or How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days!

Big HUGE thank you to Rach for stopping by my blog!  I haven't even told her that I'm doing this... I'm giving away one e-copy of her new book to one lucky reader!  That's right pumpkins!  You can win a copy of her delish new tale, STAND-IN STAR for your Kindle or Nook!
1. Contest is open Feb 3- Feb 11 at Noon EST here in the states. That's way past Rach's bed time in Australia!
2. Leave a comment telling Rach and I about your thoughts on Vegemite.  Tasty snack or better left in a Men at Work song?  
3. Please leave your email to be included in the giveaway.  Comments without emails will not be counted.  
4. Good luck!

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STAND IN STAR – January 1st 2013, Carina Press

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?

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