May I introduce: Sara Donovan "Love By Numbers"

Love By Numbers
by Sara Donovan

Reading Sara's bio, I felt like picking up the phone and tell her my teacher failed me in that English! And I still turned out to be okay. 

Anyway, I love the blurb of "Love By Numbers" and the sound of the story, so my obvious question is:
1 - How did you come up with the idea for "Love by Numbers"?

I read a lot of non-fiction books about neuroscience in my day job which led to a fascination with the ‘brain in love’. I had a personal interest as well. I wanted to figure out how “trustable” attraction was as when I looked back over my romantic history and those of my friends, I could think of times we all got attracted to completely incompatible people.

2 - Your Seven Easy Steps of "How to Fall in Love with (Almost) Anyone" sound easy and scary. We want the truth ... made up or real research? J
Research, believe it or not!
Experiencing peak emotional states, laughing a lot, sharing novel experiences, lowering your inhibitions, touching, eye-gazing and sharing secrets are listed as intimacy increasing activities by well-known scientist Dr Robert Epstein in his article, ‘How Science Can Help You Fall in Love’, (Psychology Today, 2010).
Dr Epstein was so sure there was a technology to falling in love, that he put an ad in Psychology Today for a woman who would be willing to date him exclusively and follow various intimacy exercises for 6 to 12 months. He expected the experiment would end in marriage.
Dr Epstein didn’t marry the woman he chose for the experiment, but he still stands by the theory that you can influence romantic love significantly. As does renowned anthropologist Dr Helen Fisher, whose book, ‘Why We Love? The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love,’ is also one of the main inspirations for the Seven Steps and my book.
3 - A house full of kids (I've counted five!). What's the secret to find the time to write a book?
Waiting for them to grow up (my youngest was 17 when I started writing Love By Numbers), having an addictive personality and having an unbelievably supportive husband who cooked and cleaned and constantly answered my questions about what a ‘guy would say if a woman said……?’ 

4 - Tell us a bit about your current WIP.
I like exploring edgy relationship topics and hopefully making them fun and romantic as well.
This time round, I’m curious to write a story that explores degrees of monogamy – from couples who are co-dependent, to couples who have close friends of the opposite sex, to those who have covert emotional affairs, or even relationships they believe support the primary one. I’m going to set the story among a group of activists living in the bush for a year who are also serialising their experiences as a documentary on the internet.
I’m also contributing a chapter for a non-fiction book called ‘Born To Do This’. It’s about the psychology of creativity.

Thanks so so much for the opportunity Iris! It’s been fun - An absolute delight to have had this small "science lesson in love" ! IB

What if there was a scientific 7-step formula that triggered the heart into feeling passion? Would you follow it to have a hot and heavy romance with your available 'nice guy’ bestie?

Set in the glittering lower north shore of Sydney, Love by Numbers follows the story of April, a young successful HR consultant who escapes the boredom of her serious man-drought by fantasising more than she should about her uninterested office crush, Ryan. When April finally gets Ryan to drinks after work one night and he falls for her flirtatious house-mate, April decides to never again trust her instinctual‘man-picker’. Her only solution is to rewire her brain and create passion with the one guy she knows she can trust
 This is a story about how far you can go to control your heart's choices, and what happens when you try.

My dream job when I was fifteen was scriptwriting for TV or film, only I was a writing wimp. A few bad marks for English essays I thought were great and I pursued a career in science instead of creative writing - determined to never again be evaluated on anything subjective.

It took a few decades of writing non fiction in my day job while living an accidental romantic comedy life before I was willing to manage the uncertainty and give my creative writing dream a go - and I'm so glad I did! Writing Love By Numbers was the most fun I've ever had.
In my day job, I run a small and busy Learning and Development Consultancy, where I write and teach neuroscience, communication and congruent influence programs to very smart and talented clients who constantly teach me.
My greatest blessing is my wonderfully supportive and inspiring family - my personal superhero husband, my two amazing children, three wonderful step children and my love-addicted dog.

 Purchase Links:

How to Fall in Love with (Almost) Anyone in Seven Easy Steps.

Choose an available friend who doesn’t turn you off, and rewire your brains for a hot and heavy romance.

1. Get emotional together while watching a sad movie.

2. Share an adrenaline rush by jumping out of a plane.

3. Show how competent you are at something, but don’t make a big deal of it.

4. Have him bring home food from the hunt — a good restaurant will do.

5. Eye gaze in bed without talking until it doesn’t feel weird.

6. Role-play each other’s primal fantasies within reason and without judgement.

7. Sleep together like stacked spoons.

Repeat the above until love and lust kick in. Then when they do, send your attraction into overdrive by not seeing each other. That’s when things really get cooking.

Chapter 1

The trigger that made me do something radical to fix my relationship problems happened a few weeks earlier when I’d broken an unwritten company rule: the ‘don’t show emotion at work’ rule, which really means don’t show female emotions. You could swear, raise your voice, even slam the occasional phone and you’d be seen as strong at Odyssey IT. But get misty-eyed, and you’re a drama queen or worse, weak.

It wasn’t that I found hiding my vulnerability at work difficult. I was great at it. But a couple of unwanted coincidences and I was exposed. Raw. All because of the wrong kind of synchronicity – the kind that orchestrates you away from what you want, instead of the other way around.


Cover reveal ~~ Australian Sports Stars Book One "Love Will Find You"

My first book in the Australian Sports Stars series is taking shape. The series has been contracted by "Limitless Publishing" and will be released soon.
The series is set here in Melbourne, Australia, and follows three friends as love finds its way into their hearts.
Book One is titled "Love Will Find You"

May I introduce: Mae Archer "Hollywood Dreams"


Hollywood Dreams
by Mae Archer

We're all a little bit hooked on Hollywood, the good as well as the not so good. "Hollywood Dreams" sounds like a great read, I love the blurb!

1 - The main character in "Hollywood Dreams" becomes a method actor to get a "the part of a lifetime". How did you come up with the idea and how much research went into getting the "method acting" right?

The idea of Hollywood Dreams came with the image of a method actor who is practicing for his next part by being in a wheelchair. While writing this book was really easy after all the years of having it in my subconscious, I did have to do a lot of research about the practicalities of being in a wheelchair. So when Beau takes Maree out on a date there was a lot of detail about how he would have transported himself and the car he would have used.


2 - Do movies / actors inspire you to write a story?

I’m not usually inspired by movies/actors, but what I really love is romance novels about characters who are in some way in disguise. So this whole premise of having a secret identity and then the sense of suspense as to how long will the secret survive and what will happen when it’s uncovered.

3 - What's your current project?

I’m currently working on a follow up to Hollywood Dreams. I fell in love with Allegra, Maree’s best friend, who is a lover of vintage fashion and a dame at heart so I’m working on telling her story. It’s also going to have another element of lovers in disguise so that’s going to be so much fun to develop.

Hollywood Dreams by Mae Archer

Former soap star Tom Calvert dreams of making movies that matter. To get the part of a lifetime he becomes a method actor, living as Beau Tennant, handicapped war hero. While in character he meets Maree Reynard, a costume designer, and takes her on a date. But when this practice date becomes all too real he realizes that he’s made the mistake of a lifetime. Will he be able to get Maree to fall in love with Tom Calvert?

Maree Reynard’s father is an actor and she has grown up on a studio lot. She has no illusions about the artifice of the movie-making business and has vowed she would never date an actor. When she meets and falls in love with Beau Tennant she knows that she’s found her dream man who is genuine and real. But when Beau disappears from her life she is heartbroken. She meets Tom Calvert on the rebound and sees their flirtation as a way of recovering her shattered confidence. Will Tom Calvert be able to convince her he is the real deal?

Mae Archer knew she wanted to be a writer since she was a child. She loved listening to her grandmother's war stories about English maidens falling in love with handsome Yankees while England burnt under the Luftwaffe's blitz.

When she discovered romance novels as a teenager she soon realised that her dream job was to be a romance writer. After many career twists and turns she’s making her dreams come true.

 Her real life is like one of her grandmother's stories. She met a foreigner who travelled through Australia and it was love at first sight. She married him six months after they met and every day since has been an adventure.

She lives in Australia with her husband and daughter.

Mae Archer is the author of Return to Me and the upcoming Hollywood Dreams both published by Momentum.

Mae loves to hear from readers. You can contact her through her website,


Purchase Links:

Return to Me published by Momentum Publishing. Buy it




"Be an Angel Day" #Giveaway ~~ ( #win #Free #books )


"Fresh Beginnings", the third book in the "Beginnings" series was released at the start of this month.
A good reason to celebrate!
I'm giving away three ebooks of "Fresh Beginnings", and all can enter by following the prompts on the Rafflecopter app.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Bella Andre "Never too Hot" - #Review #BellaAndre #HotShots

Publisher: Bantam

ISBN:  978-0440245025

My rating: 3.5/5


Deep in the cool green mountains of the Adirondacks, wounded firefighter Connor MacKenzie has come to rebuild the 100-year-old MacKenzie family cabin – and to be alone. A horrific blaze has left him scarred inside and out and certain of two things: He’ll get back on his hotshot crew no matter what it takes, and any woman who ventures too close will not stay long.
Ginger Sinclair has been burned by a different kind of fire. Having just escaped from a bad marriage, she’s retreated to the safety of the lakeside vacation town in upstate New York to start a new life. She’s done with men, with relationships, with the danger of desires that can rage out of control – until she unexpectedly encounters Connor MacKenzie. As a hot summer on the lake grows ever hotter, they find themselves sharing a cabin and a romance that will swiftly engulf them both. (

My rating

I have to admit, the story took me by surprise. Having picked up the book merely because I read Hot Shot #1 and #2, this book contained that little bit of something which was missing in the first two stories. It had lots of clich├ęs in it, but all in all, I enjoyed reading it.

We met Connor in the previous books when he ended up in hospital after a getting severely burnt in a bushfire. Two years later, while still waiting to be re-instated to the Hot Shot crew, he takes his mind off by repairing his grandparents' cottage in the mountains of the Adirondacks, which is currently occupied by Ginger Sinclair.

While Connor is running from his from his life as it is without being a firefighter, while Ginger is running from a broken marriage, trying to find herself.

I loved the issues in this book with Connor severely scarred, yet still sexy, and Ginger the curvier woman, trying to enjoy life without her parent's money, doing what she wants to do and not what she's told to do.

One of my favourite scene is, when Connor pulls her in front of a mirror and makes her "see" how beautiful she is.

 All in all - nice read..

May I introduce: Elizabeth M Darcy "Her Norman Conquest"

Her Norman Conquest
by Elizabeth M Darcy

Another author who is now calling Australia home. Elizabeth "enjoys the thrill of writing romance and loves all things magical" and winning the 2007 RWA Clayton's Best Kiss Award, I'd say her books are bound to be a very good read.

1 - What draws your interest to historical romance?
My qualifications are in English history and English literature so I've always been drawn to history and writing. I love visiting old buildings and watching historical series on TV. The book I pick up is usually historical both romance and non-fiction.

2 - How much research do you do for a historical romance story?
I spend a long time doing research. I think the ambience  an author needs to include in any story should to be correct historically, both in description and speech.

3 -  Tell us about your current WIP.
I wrote this story after reading the research from about 20 years ago on my family tree. I titled the story:

Her Norman Conquest

At the mercy of William the Conqueror, Lady Ann faces an uncertain future as Norman knights fight for her hand.

4 - You're involved in the RWAus Mentor & RWAus Critique Program. How important is it to you to help 'novice' authors?
I've been writing for some time, Elizabeth M Darcy is only one of my pen names, this year my 50 book was published. So, I  think I've enough experience  to help  novice writers.  I spend a  lot of time working with both critique partners and novice writers. Being a mentor for me is about as rewarding as signing a new book contract.  I really enjoy helping people period.  Sometimes authors just need a simple explanation or an example to help them overcome a problem. Writing can be very lonely and having someone to contact  for whatever part of the writing or publishing process is beneficial. Many people have helped me along the way and still do, so I like to pay it on. 

At the mercy of William the Conqueror, Lady Ann faces an uncertain future as Norman knights fight for her hand.

Left alone after the death of all the male members of her household at the Battle of Hastings, Lady Ann finds herself at the mercy of William the Conqueror.  The King intends to marry his knights to Saxon gentry. Ann becomes a useful if not uncooperative ally by using her ability to speak French to liaise with the terrified Saxon women and their potential husbands.  She falls in love with a devastatingly handsome Norman blacksmith only to discover King William has plans for her to marry one of his knights. 


Elizabeth M Darcy- Romance Through Time-

Born in London, England and now living in Australia, Elizabeth enjoys the thrill of writing YA  romance and loves all things magical.  She has a passion for history and her sweet historical romance stories  are drawn from the history of her heritage to bring readers the delightful imagery of life and love through time. From Norman Knights to Scottish Highlanders and English rakes, Elizabeth creates stories that will remain with the reader long after the final page.

Twitter @ EMDarcyauthor 


Purchase Links:



 Chapter One
London, 1072
“All unwed landed ladies, widows or maidens of childbearing age are hereby summoned to Hertfordshire without delay.”
 Lady Ann of Par balled her fists and glared up at the Norman knight, so mighty, reading his declaration from the back of a horse. Mayhap he believed she would plunge a dagger in his heart. “But, my lord, I have tenants to oversee, an estate to manage. Your king has slaughtered the men of my family and all of my father’s loyal men.” She lifted her chin. “I am the only one left to guide my people.”
The knight stared down at her without compassion. “Gather your belongings. My patience grows thin.”
She pressed her lips together. Bad enough the new king’s army had brutally slain the proud Saxon men and left them to rot on the battlefield, but since the invasion, their mourning wives and daughters had lived in constant terror of these foreign-speaking brutes. Indeed, few women had knowledge of the French language as she did. She had heard tales about Norman knights ransacking estates in search of documents or details regarding their wealth or lands. She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath. Dear God! Her turn had come to join the stream of highborn womenfolk the beasts had bundled into carts bound for London to meet their death, or worse, forced to marry a murdering Norman knight.
Conceding defeat, she met his gaze. “Very well, when do we leave?”
“Sir Paul de Groote will be accompanying you. He will arrive at daybreak.” His lip curled with contempt. “Make sure you are ready to depart. Two of my men will remain here to ensure you comply with the king’s orders.” The stern knight swung his horse around and returned to his troops.
The sun had hardly peeked over the horizon to herald the arrival of Sir Paul de Groote and his troops at her country estate. He had impressed her with his courtesy, so unlike the brutish ways she had encountered from the Norman knights so far. The man was impressively tall and spoke in a gentle tone. He had appeared genuinely remorseful in his delivery of the missive from the newly crowned king. Mayhap not all the Normans had such bad manners.
“You may take your maid and one trunk. We have little room to spare.” Sir Paul led her towards the cart. “You will be taken to Berkhamsted Castle and King William will decide your future.” He gave her a tight smile. “I’m sure you will be impressed at what changes our king has made to England. He plans to build great castles. Have no fear, all the estates will be properly managed under Norman rule.”
She bit back a retort—no need to make an enemy of a man who had at least offered her a modicum of civility. She climbed into the cart with Meg at her side and watched her beloved home vanish into the morning mist. Aye, she had heard tell of Berkhamsted Castle created by Robert of Mortain to protect the king and built with no less than two motes to ensure against any further Saxon uprising. It would seem the Normans had need for such things. Hours passed with no respite and the heavens had opened up drenching her by the time the wooden structure came into view. Cold, hungry and with a failing spirit, she followed the guards through the courtyard.
Inside the great hall, she gaped in wonder at the impressive opulence around her. The walls rose high on each side, one covered in magnificent tapestries. The other displayed a large variety of weaponry, and centred hung the battered shield depicting King Harold’s coat of arms. A shiver raced down her spine at the memory of the tales spoken in hushed voices about the gruesome death of King Harold. The great king had suffered an arrow to the eye and the Norman butchers had hacked him to pieces. He would turn in his grave if he could hear French spoken as the tongue of his beloved England.   
 She smothered a sob. Her sharp intake of breath brought Meg to her side. She brushed aside the bunched cotton cloth offered by her maidservant, lifted her chin and stepped into the Great Hall. “Put it away, Meg, for I fear I have no more tears to shed.” 
She pushed down the fear, determined not to cower before the Normans. All about her, guards stood oppressively close. Musky male scent rose from their warm bodies enhanced by the dampness from the incessant freezing rain. She glanced at her ashen-faced maidservant and straightened her soaked head rail. Anger  shivered down her spine. How dare they treat her in such a manner?
Allowing her attention to wander over the crowd, she suppressed a gasp. An impressive row of knights stood to one side, straight and proud, each observing her entrance with interest. She avoided their gazes, feeling somewhat like a prize horse offered up for sale. She kept her eyes towards the front, where the Norman King William and Queen Matilda reclined surrounded by a swarm of buzzing advisors. On one side of the royal pair, a number of priests in long red robes observed her with blank disinterested expressions.
 Ann tried in vain to control her trembling knees. The king’s man announced her name. She straightened, determined to appear dignified. Sir Paul beckoned her forwards with an encouraging smile and her stomach twisted. This king was a tyrant and he cared nothing for the Saxons. Her stomach cramped at the fear of standing alone before such a butcher. I will do this for my father. She lifted her chin. She would not tremble before this false king in his Norman stronghold. With her heart pounding against her ribs, she stepped forwards and crossed the rush-covered floor to Sir Paul. He turned towards her, genuflected in the exaggerated way usual for Normans, and offered his arm. She accepted his escort and they strolled towards the king.
 They stopped before the thrones, and Sir Paul bowed dramatically low. Ann curtsied, keeping her  gaze on the rush-covered boards. Indignation reared within her and she pressed her lips together lest an untimely comment spill from her lips.
“May I present Lady Ann of Parr. Her estate is in Cornwall. She is fluent in French, Your Majesty.” Sir Paul’s meticulous French echoed around the Great Hall.
King William’s lip curled into a small smile. He leant back in his throne before passing an inaudible comment to Queen Matilda. He then returned his dark gaze and full attention towards Ann.
“I am pleased you converse in my language. It will enable you to convey my wishes to the other landed ladies of this England. I will arrange betrothals for them with my barons. I will give no quarter. The ladies will obey my orders. Indeed, such marriages will do much for the stability of England.”
Ann released a deep breath and in an effort to quell her rising fear, pressed one trembling hand firmly to her stomach. What would he do if good Saxon ladies refused? She lifted her chin. “Will you exact a penalty for those not willing to submit to your plan, Your Majesty?”


Snippet Sunday - My newest WIP 10/08/2014


Thank you all for visiting and commenting the last few weeks as I introduced you to my two characters of the upcoming release "Fresh Beginnings".
It's time for a new story ... as yet untitled.
Meet Jeri.

Jeri walked down the streets to her car, replaying her conversation she’d had with Olivia.

“How are your blind dates going?” her friend’s daughter asked as she came into Jeri’s gallery a couple of days earlier.

She shrugged. “I have a winner’s luck to get hooked up with all the duds in town.” Jeri hesitated, contemplating whether to speak the words in her head. Was she destined to live alone after her divorce?

“You should meet Ely. He lives next door,” Olivia said. “He’s like sex on legs. Honestly.”

Jeri let out a choked laugh. “Listen, sweetie. I’m in my late thirties, good looking for that age, but sex on legs?”

“You wait,” Olivia said as she looked at her watch. “Anyway, I’d better go. I’ll give you a call tonight regarding Ely. Prepare yourself for a nice night out!”


Thank you all for your support and kind comments.
 I do appreciate each single one of them!


May I introduce: Rachel Amphlett "Before Nightfall"


Before Nightfall
by Rachel Amphlett

Reading through the "About Me" page on Rachel's website, I feel like I could spent a whole afternoon chatting with her - her love to travel, her interest in movies, and her current place of residence, Brisbane. AND, about settling into Australia after moving here from the UK in 2005.
1 - Your "About Me" page reads like a novel in its own - helped run a pub, played lead guitar in bands, worked as a TV & film extra, dabbled in radio ... anything this girl can't do? :-)

I’m scared of heights – not in the sense of high buildings or anything (I really enjoyed doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb for instance), but you’d never get me sky-diving or bungee-jumping!
I also can’t knit. As a child, my mum and both grandmothers stopped trying to teach me very quickly once they realised my attempts would only ever resemble fishing nets. I’m pretty lethal with a sewing machine too.

2 - You've travelled a lot. What do you like most about travelling, and is there a place you liked most?
I love people-watching, I love discovering new places and I’m such a nerd when it comes to soaking up history! There are so many places I’ve been which I’ve enjoyed but my favourites include Cuba, Italy and Turkey – mostly for the history aspects and the aromas, the food – the whole experience.
Having said that, there are still places I’d love to go where I haven’t been yet, including the USA, Peru, Cambodia, South Africa, China – I’d best start saving! 

3 - Where did you get the idea for "Before Nightfall"?

The opening scene just popped into my head one day. It was of a woman, with a sack over her head, and she was in trouble. It was so vivid, I could almost smell the hessian sackcloth. We were on holiday in Malta at the time last year and I spent a whole day sketching out the entire plot and wrote the first draft in the space of nine weeks when we got home – it’s been the fastest first draft I’ve ever written. I think that was the key – it’s a hostage rescue situation, which happens in a compressed timeframe, and the writing of it reflected that urgency and pace. 

4 - Tell us about your current project.
I’ve got a couple of projects on the boil at the moment. The first is a standalone thriller which is based in London and the surrounding area, and the other is a standalone romantic suspense which I’m really excited about. I'm still trying to decide on the setting of that but it's not stopping me from roughing out the first draft. The plan is to release both next year so I can keep my head down and research and write the third Dan Taylor thriller.

5 - From one immigrant to another - any regrets?
Absolutely none at all – I’d do it all again if I had to.


“If they move you, they will kill you.”

Kate Foster is quick to forget the advice from a pre-deployment hostage survival course once she’s catapulted into a new job in Eastern Europe, despite the good-looking instructor. But a simple day’s task in Istanbul six months later goes horribly wrong.

Trapped and alone, her only hope of survival is the man who trained her – ex-FBI Hostage Rescue Specialist, Finn Scott.

For Finn, it’s his worst nightmare. Kate was the one person he almost let into his heart. Haunted by memories of a failed hostage rescue, he is thrust into a situation beyond his control. Now, against a sinister adversary whose ambitions will split apart Eastern Europe, Finn must overcome his demons to prevent an international catastrophe.

And avoid losing Kate forever.


Rachel Amphlett previously worked in the UK publishing industry, played lead guitar in rock bands, and worked with BBC radio before relocating from England to Australia in 2005.

After returning to writing, Rachel enjoyed publication success both in Australia and the United Kingdom with her short stories.

Rachel's "Dan Taylor" thrillers WHITE GOLD and UNDER FIRE reached Amazon's bestseller lists in January 2014 for both Technothriller and Action & Adventure categories.

A new standalone suspense novel, BEFORE NIGHTFALL is due for release in June 2014, while two further independent projects and a third Dan Taylor thriller are currently being researched.






Amazon Author Page:

Where to buy:


Purchase Links:
From June 5th, BEFORE NIGHTFALL can be purchased in eBook and paperback formats from over 40 worldwide retail outlets. Click here for details:



Kate Foster’s breath escaped her lips in short, shallow bursts.

The sack, which had been placed over her head when she had first been attacked, clung to her mouth and nose with each inhaled gasp.

Condensation prickled against her face, the lack of air suffocating. Her heart beat rapidly, hammering against her ribcage, while a trickle of sweat worked its way between her breasts.

The hard wooden chair pierced the denim fabric of her jeans, and she wriggled backwards, trying to ease the pressure on her pelvic bone.

‘Stay still,’ said a voice to her right.

Her head twitched, and she held her breath, sensing the man as he drew closer. She caught a faint trace of his scent through the musty fabric of the sackcloth – sweat, a hint of hours-old aftershave.

Her heart skipped a beat, and her stomach clenched. The smell grew stronger, and she turned her head from side to side, trying to gauge the man’s exact location. A faint echo of his shower gel lingered in the air between them, a mixture of musk and jasmine.

‘No-one’s coming to get you,’ he murmured in her ear.

Kate jumped in her seat, not realising his proximity had been so close. Her heart raced harder, and she exhaled, trying to keep calm, the rushing sound in her ears now deafening.

A low chuckle vibrated next to her skin. She twisted, trying to gain some distance between them.

She’d lost all sense of time. This morning, she’d been talking to three colleagues outside, taking advantage of the rare sunshine that had bathed the courtyard.

The attack had been swift, well-coordinated, with no warning.

Her jewellery and watch had been removed from her, and then she’d been shoved into a small room with her colleagues, and told to stay silent.

Maybe an hour had passed, during which time her colleagues had been taken one by one from the room, leaving the remaining captives to their own thoughts.

Then, the hostage takers had returned for her, dragging her from the sitting position she’d been forced to adopt, the sack over her head damp with condensation from her breath.

She’d felt a hard surface under her feet, and then a door had slammed shut behind her. She’d been forced into a chair, before her wrists were pushed through plastic cuffs and secured.

Now, her breathing increased as she tried to remember what she’d been told, what to do to keep her captor calm. She worked her wrists, trying to loosen the cuffs and keep the circulation flowing through her fingers.

‘They’ll pay you,’ she whispered, then coughed and cleared her throat before repeating herself. ‘They’ll pay you. To let me go. To keep me safe.’

An exasperated sigh escaped the man’s lips.

Kate held her breath, and then jumped as the sackcloth was ripped off her head. She blinked in the rays of light shining through the grubby farmhouse window.


The voice drew her attention back to the man who was now standing in front of her, hands on hips, glaring.

‘Don’t ever try to bargain with them,’ he said, then turned and strode across the room to a table. He threw the sackcloth onto it and slumped into another chair, facing her, his foot tapping an unknown beat on the floor. ‘You do that, they’re going to feed on your desperation.’

Kate shifted in her seat and watched his heel bounce up and down, and then caught him staring at her. She blushed and lowered her gaze.

The hostage course was so damn hard – only three days to remember everything the instructors were trying to teach her, on top of a bad case of jetlag after her flight from the US two days ago. The difficulty rating went through the ceiling when the taller of the two, now berating her, looked so bloody good in the tight black t-shirt he was wearing with his jeans.

She raised her head and watched the man who was running his hand through his unkempt brown hair, frustration etched across his face.

He appeared to ignore her discomfort. ‘Small steps. Build up a rapport – don’t discuss politics, religion or your own situation. Keep it simple. Ask for small favours.’ His voice rose. ‘And under no circumstances talk about paying a ransom. Ever.’

He rose from the chair and stalked towards her. ‘That’s the hostage negotiator’s job, and you could ruin everything he’s trying to do to save you. Remember the basics we discussed in the classroom yesterday?’

Kate swallowed. She found her concentration wavering as she stared into his green eyes, sure she could see gold flecks around the edge of his irises, and then cursed inwardly as her bottom lip quivered. Although it was a simulated kidnapping, it had been frighteningly real.

Her eyes stung, and she blinked, inhaled deeply and tried to ignore the heat in her face. ‘Can you at least untie me?’

He waited for a heartbeat, and then turned, shaking his head. ‘You sort her out,’ he said over his shoulder and pushed his way through a door which led to the yard outside.

Kate’s mouth dropped open in indignation, before her attention was drawn to another, older man approaching her.

He reached into the back pocket of his jeans, pulled out a knife and bent down. He flicked the blade open. As he raised the blade, he glanced up, his grey eyes twinkling with humour.

‘Ignore Finn,’ he said. ‘He’s having a bad day.’

A faint smile stole across Kate’s face, and she sniffed. ‘Really, Steve? What’s he like on a good day?’

He smirked. ‘You’ve got another day and a half to go, so I’ll have a word, get him to play nice. Keep still.’

She nodded and watched as he gathered her wrists within one of his hands and sawed through the plastic cuffs that held her.