A Sunday excerpt from Passionfruit & Poetry. On sale until 28th February for $1.99 on Amazon
Jeanie Baker’s fingers tightened on the tiny black apron with the frill of white lace. No way. Nothing this side of hell would make her wear it. It belonged in a French porn movie, not in Oldbridge. Not in a café serving coffee, cake and sympathy to the small rural community. Groping around her back she wrenched off the offending scrap of material, screwed it into a very tight ball, and flung it at the coffee machine.
“I’m not wearing it, Gran. Not for you, not for anyone.” Expecting a complaint, she shot a sideways glance at her grandmother.
“But sweetheart, it suits the café. Our ambience. They are here to film, to take photographs, and they’ve come especially because of the style of the place.”
Rolling her eyes, Jeanie laughed. “I’m not wearing it. And that’s that. They’ll just have to put up with me the way I am and besides you told me it was the location they were interested in and that’s why they’re here. Not to photograph us.”
If only her grandmother could be just a little more ordinary, a little less out there. She loved the café with its quirky décor and old movie posters and was more than happy to help in anyway she could. After all, she certainly owed her grandmother more than she could ever repay, but she drew the line at making a spectacle of herself. She belonged in the background, taking care of the day to day running of the place not dressing up like some model, pretending to be something she knew she could never be.
“I suppose you’re right, but I think you’re ten times prettier than the motley crew out there.” Norma peered out through the window of the Café Cinématique. “Emaciated, that’s what they are.”
Over the top of her grandmother’s curly white hair, Jeanie stared the odd assortment of bodies and vehicles spilling out across the footpath. People movers and four-wheel drives, cameras, and lighting filled every available space as far as she could see. All for a magazine shoot to showcase the latest range of outlandish city chic.
“Oh!” Norma’s floury fingernail tapped the window and she turned. “There’s the makeup crew and they’re setting up shop across the road in front of the library. I bet poor old Wilma will be having a heart attack.”
Within the space of half an hour, the empty street had filled and was crawling with activity, even busier than the days before they diverted the highway around the town. Unbelievable! Then again maybe this wasn't such a bad idea if it improved the café's turnover. It would be nice, just for once to be able to make the mortgage payments.
“Gran, I think I owe you an apology. I don’t think your idea was a silly as it sounded.”
“And which particular idea was that, my darling?” Norma’s eyes twinkled as she turned around and Jeanie recognised the self-satisfied smile on her lined face.
“You know very well.”
“Yes, but I like to hear it. It’s not every day I get praise from my favourite granddaughter.”
“Only granddaughter.” Jeanie paused and stared straight into her familiar eyes. “It was a brilliant idea to list the café on the Locations-R-Us website. If we become a popular location it will mean more people coming into the café. You’ve put us on the map.” Jeanie put her arm around her grandmother’s shoulder and hugged her tight. “However, there’s just one problem – I am categorically not dressing up like some French waitress from a seedy porn movie. Not for you. Not for the Café Cinématique. Not for anyone. They've got models to do that.”
Also available from iTunes, Kobo, B&N and all good e-tailers
and in PRINT in March, 2014
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This post first appeared on A Time for Love, Christina Cole's blog, and I have reposted it here to celebrate Valentine's Day 2014
From Christina: I loved this post from Australian author, Tea Cooper. I’m always excited when someone loves Valentine’s Day as much as I do, and it is with great pleasure I present Tea’s
“Valentine’s Day Musings”.
While I was doing some research for a historical romance, I stumbled across the ultimate Valentine … Australian love tokens or leaden hearts as they were also known. I’d never heard of them before. They weren’t solely reserved for Valentine’s Day but they belong as surely as any Valentine’s Day card, poem or love letter.
When This You See
When I am Far
Coins were used to create love tokens in England as early as the 1400s. At first, the coins were simply bent out of shape, usually twice, so that they could not be used as money. They were then given to a lover as a token or amulet.
When prisoners were sentenced to transportation to Australia between 1788 and 1868 it was seen as a one-way trip. Often they were imprisoned in Newgate or the hulks, rotting ships on the Thames, to await passage and during that time many of them fashioned love tokens as a memento to leave behind with their loved ones.
The National Museum in Canberra and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney both have collections. I can’t look at them without tearing up. The messages on them tell so many stories of love.
There were also the more sophisticated leaden hearts that probably cost the poor convict his last remaining pennies…
The engraved side shows a female figure with an anchor leaning on a rectangular structure, with two crossed hearts and a bird flying above, a ship sailing in the distance, and the text:
I love till death shall stop my breath
And finally my two favourites because I am fascinated
by the stories behind them…
Given to S K.
By J D her
Brother in law
The other side features a design of an ornate pot with crossed hearts below a border and flowers. I can’t help wonder about SK’s story and her relationship with her brother-in –law!
(with a heart engraved to one side.)
On the other side the text ‘
I’ve left you here for
To complain til I
Return to Old
So many untold stories!
By then I was bitten by the bug and went in search of other Australian ‘love tokens’ and I was sidetracked yet again. I found this Valentine’s Day card at the Powerhouse Museum.
Apparently picture postcards first appeared around 1869 and marked the beginning of Valentine’s Day cards in Australia then around 1910 there was an outbreak of “vulgar” postcards and the straight-laced Australian society threatened to make the “Valentine’s Day card extinct…” Surely this couldn’t be the case!
Off I went again…. and discovered this….from the Brisbane Courier on 15th February in 1928
“Who’ll be My Valentine?”
Time was when St. Valentine’s Day brought to many a young maiden a sheaf of artistically designed missives from anonymous donors each expressing, per medium of a white dove, or the conventional heart pierced with Cupid’s dart, or, the true lover’s knot, the tenderest devotion. Yesterday was St. Valentine’s day, but the postman was not overloaded.
Alas! The patron saint of true lovers has fallen upon evil days … he is cast out from the ecclesiastical calendar … the advent of the picture post-card and the degeneration to vulgar humour dealt the custom its death blow … and this year it is safe to say that there were few of these messengers of sweet prevailment passing through the post.
Last year a determined attempt to resurrect the custom was made in England, but it is likely that the next generation will see its complete extinction.
Well, The Brisbane Courier certainly got it wrong or perhaps they just ahead of their time? Maybe love letters, love tokens, even Valentine’s Day cards are finally destined to “complete extinction”.
How do people send their messages of love today? I can’t see a museum keeping a collection of emails, text messages, even Facebook posts. Something definitely gets lost in translation. Perhaps I’m a sentimental fool searching for immortality—I’d rather have a letter or a card or better still a love token, in the hope one day someone will look at it and tear up knowing my love truly was eternal.
This Valentine’s Day I will be sending my message handwritten with a fountain pen (yes, I still have one) on a piece of recycled paper in the hope that it will live on down the ages and the next generations will not “see its complete extinction.”
How about you? Cyber Valentine or old-fashioned romance?
Thanks to J'aimee Booker for inviting me to visit her blog!
To celebrate Valentine's Day PASSIONFRUIT & POETRY is a tiny $1.99 on Amazon during February!
Tell us a little about your book:
Passionfruit & Poetry is a Cinderella story I wasn’t planning to write. I stopped for a coffee and cake while I waited for my car to be serviced and started to write it on the napkin in the café. It’s all about Jeanie – a small town girl happy running the Café Cinématique with her grandmother. Her arrival her life takes an unexpected turn when the café is used for a photographic shoot and Jeanie finds herself unwillingly thrown into the limelight. For a girl with few ambitions Jeanie’s new life is at once both terrifying and strangely liberating, she blossoms into a woman she hardly recognizes. Thrust into the sophisticated life of Sydney, full of smoke and mirrors, her past comes back to haunt her and all she wants is to head home, back to passionfruit pie and her grandmother’s warm hug.
What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?
It’s a day to celebrate love – not only your love for the one special person in your life but also for your friends and family, everyone who is important to you. After all where would we be without it?
Favourite Valentines Day memory?
Sitting high up on a ridge in the Himalayas, watching the sunset over the world.
Best ever Valentine’s Day gift you’ve given or received?
A bunch of early blooming bluebells still damp with dew and tied up with a piece of string – full of promise!
What’s the appeal of the romance genre for you as a writer? As a reader?
As above – promise! The promise of tomorrow, the promise of happiness, the promise of forever.
When Xander Fitzgerald, famous Sydney fashion photographer takes a shot of Jeanie Baker, his ISO settings hit red alert and no one’s life is ever the same again.
Jeanie believes she is content – a small town girl happy running the Café Cinématique with her grandmother—but with Xander’s arrival her life takes an unexpected turn and she finds herself unwillingly thrown into the limelight.
For a girl with few ambitions Jeanie’s new life is at once both terrifying and strangely liberating, and in Xander’s company she blossoms into a woman she hardly recognizes. But the sophisticated life of Sydney is full of smoke and mirrors and when her past comes back to haunt her all she wants is to head home, back to passionfruit pie and her grandmother’s warm hug.
Xander discovers he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He has to make some serious decisions, but is he prepared to give away everything he has worked for to win the woman he first glimpsed through the lens of his camera?
An Irish Téa Time Treat today!
Hi Whitney, and welcome!
I've got one question and one question only ... Did it really happen or is it all a load of blarney?
I’d love to say yes, but the truth is both What Happens in Ireland and Deceive Me in Ireland were written before I set foot in Dublin. Unfortunately. *sigh* I’d love to say I know the O’Reilly brothers and that I have danced with them both. But alas, the truth is the truth hehe.
I travelled to Ireland on the 21st January, 2013, and on the 3rd February, I was in Belfast City. One year ago, I stood outside Global Village Hostel unaware that the next morning I’d be standing out the front once again, snowflakes melting in my hands and soaking my socks to chill my toes.
Ireland is a beautiful and surprising country. And the people are among the friendliest in the world. Now, anyone who had read What Happens in Ireland or one of my past blog posts, might be aware of my belief in the Irish Charm. In the past I’ve tried to put my finger on what it is exactly that makes my Irishmen so damn handsome. The Irish Charm is deadly. But, not restricted to the men of Ireland. The Irish Charm is everywhere. Now you can shrug off what I say like my heroine Cara Barrow does when her cousin warns her, or you can prepare yourself. When you go to Ireland, you will fall in love. You will fall in love with its rolling green hills, it’s morning showers, its bright and loud pubs, its people and its culture. Just as I did.
And if you don’t think you can visit it in person? Well, as Charlaine Harris states, books are the cheapest vacation you can ever buy. So let me take you to Ireland!
Looks like I'm heading off to Ireland! I'm sure I won't be the only one taking you up on your offer!
Thanks for visiting!!
Filled with a passion for writing and a love for romance since the age of fourteen, Whitney can’t imagine anything else she’d rather be than an author. The owner of a grumpy thoroughbred gelding and a frisky mini foxie, Whitney lives on the east coast of Australia, spending most of her time day-dreaming about handsome heroes and turning caffeine into novels.
After travelling to the Emerald Isle, Whitney fell for the Irish charm and wrote her first novel, What Happens in Ireland. You can read more about her novels and the woman herself on her website or connect with her on facebook and Twitter.
Bringing You Romance From the Sunburnt Country to the Emerald Isle
My Téa Time Treat has an ancient flavour today ... I've invited Eva Scott over to celebrate the release of her second book in the Romancing the Romans series - BARBARIAN BRIDE.
Welcome back, Eva!
I’ve often wondered what a gal like me would make of Ancient Rome. I love the history and the splendour but what would it have been like to actually live there? Women in Ancient Rome didn’t have much by way of autonomy or freedom as we know it. I expect most were accepting of their lot in life – after all, just about every other civilisation around them treated women the same way. I’m sure there must have been some women who chafed against the yoke of male dominance, who wanted to be free to make their own decisions and to run their own lives.
Klara, my heroine in Barbarian Bride, is not Roman. She comes from an Ancient Hun tribe where women often fought alongside their men in battle. Don’t get the wrong impression here. Hun women had their place and were expected to remain it in, however they had a much freer life than those of your average Roman woman. In Barbarian Bride Klara loses that freedom and has to fight to win it back.
The question is: What’s a nice Hun girl doing in a place like Rome? I do hope you want to find out.
On the bloody ground of the Colosseum, she fights to save her life. In the treacherous boxes above, he fights to save their love.
Though Klara didn't love the man who was to be her husband, she didn't want him murdered, and she vows to track down the man who committed the crime. Sickened that she'd been attracted to the mysterious Roman, Klara tracks Lucius Aurelius to the fringes of the Roman Empire, only to find that they've both been trapped in a clever plot to overthrow Klara's father, the Chief of the Huns.
Klara is separated from Lucius, captured by slavers and sold to a gladiator school. She is the only one who can save herself, by fighting for her freedom. Lucius can ensure her battle is easier, but only by sacrificing himself. How much is he willing to give up for the fiery woman he's come to love?
Oh yes, we want to find out especially if the excerpt's anything to go by...
Settling back, Klara surveyed the room for the candidate most likely to know Lucius Aurelius. With so many unwashed, bearded rascals to choose from it was hard to pick. Finally her gaze alighted on a burly old man whose eyes reminded her of Lucius. Abandoning the revolting beer she made her way cautiously to where the man sat alone. He was intent on a dish of stew and didn’t notice her approach. Klara stood before him, awkward in her uncertainty of what to do next.
She cleared her throat. The man shovelled another spoonful of stew in his mouth and did not look up. She tried again, a little louder this time, and still the man ignored her. Sliding her knife from its sheath Klara slammed the point down into the table where it quivered menacingly. The spoon stopped half way to the old man’s mouth. He looked up under busy eyebrows and regarded her for a long moment before the spoon continued its journey. Chewing slowly he simply sat and looked at her.
Klara put her hands on her hips. Now she had the man’s attention starting a conversation about Lucius seemed even harder than she thought it would be. The man lowered his gaze, scooping up another spoonful of stew, and she found herself dismissed.
“Hey!” she slammed both her hand down on the table. “I want to talk to you.”
“So talk.” The fact he didn’t bother to look up infuriated Klara. The man has no manners— and they call Hun barbarians.
“I’m looking for a man.”
He looked up then. “Really?” Pushing the bowl away he leaned back in his chair, letting his eyes roam over the curves of her body. “I’d be happy to oblige.”
Klara swept the empty bowl off the table with the back of her hand. It clattered on the floor and rolled under the table. Her chest heaved with suppressed anger.
“Might I suggest you would do better with men if you tempered your aggression? So unattractive in a woman.”
Klara wrenched the knife out of the table and held it towards the man. “Do you know a man named Lucius Aurelius?” she hissed.
The old man’s bushy eyebrows shot up and disappeared into his hairline. “Lucius? How on earth do you know Lucius?” He narrowed his blue eyes and leaned forward, his hand shot out grabbing her wrist. “Who are you?”
She tried to reclaim her hand but the man was too strong. Cleverly he’d grabbed her hand holding the knife so there was very little point struggling. She raised her chin and said, “I am Klara...”
“The Hun,” the man finished softly. He let her go and settled back. “I’ve heard about you. Sit down. You’re in luck.”
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Eva lives on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia in the town which brought the world the Bee Gees. When she’s not writing romance you can find her out on the water kayaking, fishing or swimming. When on dry land it’s all about the shoes and the coffee (and old Bee Gees records).
You can find her on Facebook, @EvaScottWriter or at her website.
Thanks for treating us today, Eva!
Welcome to my blog!
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