Red Nose Day Actually by Amy Andrews

I am beside myself with joy to learn that the cast and writer from Love Actually are finally bringing us a sequel after 14 long years!

It’s only ten minutes long and its being done as the chief fundraiser for Red Nose Day (how awesome is that???) but I’ll take any extra bits from one of my all time favourite films!

I’m not sure which stories can be covered in only ten minutes but I really, really hope we see these few get a resolution.

This Laura Linney storyline broke my heart and I still get teary whenever I think about it. I hope she’s bonking that hot engineer like crazy!

 

I’d love for these two to have gotten together. Yes, I know she’s married to his best friend. But I’m sorry, his best friend is a jerk and Mark deserves her more.

 

I’d love to know what happened with his guy long term – I’d like to think he’s still living in polygamy heaven with his American chicks.

 

Of course, we’ll never get a resolution to this heartbreaking storyline either with the death of Alan Rickman last year. Emma Thompson was so gut wrenching in this scene but I have to admit to feeling for both of them.

 

What about you? Do you have a favourite couple from this iconic movie? And do you agree with me or not about the Peter/Juliet/Mark love triangle?

 

 

 

Check out Romance Stickers

by Susan Carlisleiphone-mock-ups

I know you’re going “Say what?” So here is the deal:

Mills & Boon have created some free romance digital ‘stickers’ in time for Valentine’s Day which are now live in the App Store. They are like emojis, but only available in iMessage on iPhone or iPad.

iphone-mock-ups3Here’s how you get them.

·         The stickers are only available on Apple iPhone or iPad and you will need to have a recently updated the software on your phone

·         On your Apple iPhone, go to the App store.

·         Search on Mills & Boon.

·         Two apps will appear, the reader app and the Stickers app. Choose the Stickers app and download.

Here’s how you use them:

·         To use the stickers, choose a friend to write send an iMessage (your friend needs to also have an iPhone).

·         In the message, you will see a tab to the left of the text box. Click on this and the Mills & Boon stickers will appear.

·         Add them to your message, and ‘stick’ them onto your friend’s reply (like real stickers).

We encourage you to use and promote theses. If you could mention them on social media, and leave a review on Apple app store that would be great. Share, Share, Share

twitter-shareable

Here is how you review:

·         Find the Mills & Boon sticker app in the app store by searching ‘Mills & Boon’

·         When you find the app, click on it and you will see three tabs under the app.

·         Choose the review tab and leave a review.

·         You can leave a review even before you have downloaded the Stickers.

Which sticker do you like the best? I like the box of candy!

 

Galentine’s Day

This year, the Harlequin blog reported on a new version of Valentine’s Day which is increasing in popularity – Galentine’s Day.

In case you’re wondering, Galentine’s Day originated in an episode of the TV series Parks and Recreation, and it’s celebrated on February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day.  It’s the day when we leave our menfolk at home, and show a bit of love for our best girl friends.

So did you celebrate Galentine’s Day?  Or is the idea new to you, and do you like the sound of it?  We’re throwing the blog open for ideas on the best way to celebrate with your girl pals, so let us hear your thoughts!

A walk … or a bubble bath?

On the eve of Valentine’s Day I have decided not to focus on romance and instead write about ‘me-time‘.  Whether or not you have a special someone to spoil you on the most romantic day of the year,  you can always spoil yourself .  Sometimes even when you do have a partner it’s nice to take time out alone and do something that you want to do.  My ritual at the end of each day for as long as I can remember has been to soak in a relaxing bath.  The room is softly lit by a scented candle and despite the obvious romantic connotations this is my time and my time alone. No man required. The closed door keeps out the world … including hubby … the only company is my fur-baby who falls asleep on the bath mat. This is my little bit of heaven and sanity every day. My daydreaming in a blanket of bubbles is never interrupted. My tub could be in the marble bathroom of New York penthouse or on a cruise ship  in the Caribbean. And there’s no set time of day for this slice of indulgence. I will run a bath at midnight if the day has run away from me.

1597-155069

And now I have found a new little piece of ‘me-time‘ that I am loving almost as much.  A long daily solo walk.  For the last seven weeks of weather, I have been donning my runners in the early evening and heading out the front door. With my headphones tuned to easy listening, which includes Michael Bolton and Richard Marx, I walk until the sun sets.

8ea77fe8daa1bf276e5e4ab696710a51

A different route everyday affords me the pleasure of admiring beautiful perfumed gardens, stunning, diverse architecture from turn of last century bungalows to modern apartments and the occasional furry gatekeeper. And my fitness level is gradually increasing … 3km is now closer to 6km without much huffing or puffing.

images-1

I hope you can spoil yourself by taking time away from everything now and then. Perhaps with a bubble bath … or a walk … or tucked up with a Mills & Boon Medical romance.

unknown

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Warmest regards

Susanne

 

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? Dianne Drake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAValentine’s Day is one of those days where true love takes over, and all things chocolate, flowers, cards, romantic dinners and gifts are on our minds. Well, most of our minds. I could do without the chocolate and my cats eat my flowers. But I do love gifts and romantic dinners. Have you ever wondered, though, what Valentine’s Day is all about?

It’s said that this festival for lovers had its origin with Emperor Claudius II, who didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime because marriage distracted them from their killing. Bishop Valentine, an Anglican and a right romantic gent, went against Claud’s wishes and performed secret weddings. For that, Valentine was jailed. While there, he wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it “from your Valentine.” He got caught, and was beheaded the next day–on February 14, sometime near the year 270.

public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0134

Cupids were a popular theme for a Victorian Valentine’s Day.

It wasn’t until the 14th century, though, that the date February 14 became linked to romantic intentions, largely thanks to the tradition of courtly love, which abounded in the circles of Geoffrey Chaucer. Still, it took another 4 centuries before the day became about gifts, and candy and all those other things we typically think about.

And just an aside here–about 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. Whether or not it’s true, the first Valentine’s Day card may have been a love letter from Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Makes sense, considering Charles was a Frenchman and France is noted for its romantic traditions. Oh, and in case you’re interested, teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets. But don’t feel sorry for poor Fido and Fluffy, who come in last in cards, because they get 3% of all the Valentine’s gifts given. Not bad for a loved one who has a wet nose.

Speaking of love letters, every Valentine’s Day, the city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. But Verona isn’t the only place where letters or notes are popular. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine, then write that name in a heart-shaped note and pin it on their sleeve for everyone to see–especially the one whose name was on the note. Hence, the phrase:  “to wear your heart on your sleeve.” It’s still a tradition in South Africa, today and, in some cases, it’s how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0103

Forget-me-nots were one of the most popular Victorian expressions of love.

But South Africa isn’t the only country with a unique Valentine’s Day tradition. In South Korea, the gift-giving commences on February 14th, with the women in the wooing mood when they give their men chocolates, candies and flowers. The guys return the woo on March 14th with a little one-upping by adding lavish gifts to the giving of chocolate, candies and flowers. Not to be outdone, however, in Italian tradition, young, unmarried girls wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands, believing that the first man they OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsee on Valentine’s Day will be the one they will marry within a year. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, they have a back-up plan to help them save face, where they simply say, “Well, at least he looks like the man I’ll marry.” That plan runs a distant second to actually marrying the guy, but it’s something to hang on to. Back-up plans like that one are good though, and sticking with Italy, their next back-up plan is to come Valentine-calling with Baci Perugina in hand. It’s a small, chocolate-covered hazelnut wrapped with a romantic quote.

Yes, chocolate… Everybody loves it, including the Brazilians who go a-courting with it, as well. But not on February 14, because it’s too close to Carnival. So they hold off their lovefest until June 12, when they celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day,” And yep, chocolates, along with flowers and cards, music festivals and performances.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, why chocolates? Why not licorice, or cinnamon red hearts? Honestly, nothing spells romance better than a gummy worm, don’t you think? But, we have chocolate, and it’s been hanging in as the lovers’ favorite since the early 1800s. Back then, though, it wasn’t a romantic thing. Doctors prescribed it to their female patients to help relieve those certain symptoms associated with that special time of the month. It calmed them down, so it was said. Of course, so did those vibrator treatments those wacky doctors were giving out, personally, in their offices, back then. A vibrator AND chocolate…must have calmed m’lady right down into a perfect bliss. Oh, and about chocolate–Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800s, and more than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of pure, silky ecstasy are sold for Valentine’s Day any given year.

Cards, love notes, chocolates…isn’t it romantic? Actually, word romance wasn’t associated with the romance we know. It was originally a Latin adverb for Romanicus meaning “of the Roman style.” You know, when in Rome… The Romans considered themselves a chivalrous people, and their earliest tales of romance were actually stories of chivalric adventures. public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0075It wasn’t, until the late 17th century that the chivalric adventures turned more to the romantic escapades we know today. Probably had something to do with the hunk on the cover of a romance novel one of the ladies of the day was reading. She took one look at his bare chest, his long flowing hair, his well-muscled arms, his steely thighs…well, you know what I’m getting at.

Being the proper lady that she was, though, she surely hankered for the gift of a red rose from her true love, since chocolates weren’t around yet. Which is just another way to transition into why red roses have become the traditional Valentine’s flower. First, the red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. That’s as good a reason as any. But there’s more… red roses are also considered the love flower because red stands for strong romantic feelings, blood and fire, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality…it’s a pretty long, self-explanatory list. Or, in other words, red just works.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So does the Welsh tradition of giving a love spoon for Valentine’s day. Only, it’s not exactly Valentine’s Day. It’s the celebration of Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th. The hand-carved spoons were given as token of affection for the women they loved, and different patterns were carved into these spoons, including horseshoes for good luck; wheels to symbolize support; and keys for the keys to a man’s heart. Often, spoons given to lovers had two handles intertwining to form one. Interestingly enough, this tradition of giving spoons known as “spooning” makes it especially fitting when two handles intertwine. We all know what comes of that!

public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0087

So, before I end this history lesson, let me leave you with a few more romantic traditions, like an old one in the Netherlands where prospective couples were put in separate sacks in the same bed to sleep together, but not allowed to engage in any premarital hanky-panky. Talk about tough love. Then there was that time during Italian Renaissance when the gentlemen would give their lady loves erotically-inscribed belts which would both remind them of their chastity while at the same time inciting them to horniness. Also, there’s that old, popular stand-by called the bridesworth, which went beyond the offering of the dowry, but could include acts of humiliation or entertainment such as chariot racing, singing, dancing and grueling interviews with the bride’s family. Often, a bridesworth could last for an entire year. And finally–the eating of the haggis every day, from Valentine’s Day to Valentine’s Day, for a year, to prove a man’s worth to his lady love. Actually, I just made that one up. But it sort of fits in doesn’t it?

There are so many kinds of wacky, wonderful, strange and romantic ways to celebrate your love, and that’s something I try to capture in my books. The different ways we go about it. To each his own, as they say. For some, Valentine’s Day is an expression for every day of the year. For a dear friend, it’s the biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates her husband can find. My grandfather always gave my grandmother red carnations for Valentine’s Day, and my grandmother always gave me a fresh, brand new five-dollar bill straight from the bank. For me, personally, Valentine’s Day is all about the thought, not the deed. Deeds are nice, but in end, I’ll take the thought any day. So what about you? Are you doing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsomething special for Valentine’s Day? Gifts? Chocolates? A romantic dinner? Staying home together in your jammies, eating popcorn and watching a romantic movie? Or a scary one that’ll make you cuddle up?

Whatever your Valentine’s Day will be about, I hope it’s everything you wish for. It’s only one day of the year, so enjoy (unless you take up that haggis thing, then it’s for a whole year!).

And now…promo time. My latest, The Nurse and the Single Dad came out on the 1st. It’s available in all the usual places. That’s it. No more promo, no more wacky Valentine’s traditions like the one where, in 19th century rural Austria, an eligible lass would keep an apple slice crammed in her armpits during an entire evening of dance. At the end of the evening, she would give her used fruit to the guy she fancied. If the feeling was mutual, he’d wolf it right down, which sounds like true love to me. I know the old saying is something about the apple of his eye, but the apple of her armpit? Okay. I’m really done now. Promise.

Until next time, wishing you health & happiness.

DD

2

February 1, 2017

Save

Save

Save

Guest Blog – HEART OF THE SKY, by Fiona McArthur

Waving from Oz and thanks so much for inviting me, ladies, it’s lovely to be back on the ‘Love is the Best Medicine’ page.

I’ve two books out in the next month, one for Penguin and one for Harlequin, with a long fiction break after my non-fiction adventure with AUSSIE MIDWIVES last year. So you will see more of me in a couple of weeks as well.

9780143799832Today I’d like to share my excitement with the launch of HEART OF THE SKY, an outback Australia, Flying Doctor Service (FDS) novel published by Penguin, available across all ebook platforms, book depository and Aus bookshops.

My hero is Tess, a young widow searching for peace after the tragic loss of her husband. She leaves her job on the eastern coast and does the true fish out of water all the way into the centre of Australia. Tess joins the FDS as their new Breast Care Nurse and the reviews are just coming in and making me smile. Which is always a good thing. You can read more or click on the links from my FionaMcArthurAuthor page.

I‘ve just been blogging with Cathryn Hein about inspirational women and thought I’d mention how I met some fabulous women at a midwifery conference I’d love to share with you. These ladies are called the Knitted Knockers, and donate their time and wool to creating breast sized cotton-wool filled balls complete with knitted nipples. The idea is that women who have had a mastectomy, can adjust the size of the knitted knocker by pulling out some wool, until it is the perfect size to match their other breast. So light, soft, and not irritating to wear. Of course I’ve mentioned these ladies in the book. Here is a photo with two of the ladies (and me) at the Normal Birth Conference in Olympic Park, Sydney.

fullsizerender-1

 

I’d love to hear about inspirational women you know, there are so many out there and I know we all like to stand up and applaud them. So if you’d like to, please post about someone you know, a woman who inspires you. She can be a public figure, your mother, or someone you know who makes you think big.

Until next time, warmest regards and happy 2017

xx Fiona

heartofthe-sky_facebook_cover

 

 

 

 

What a difference two months make…

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxTwo months ago, I talked about losing my lovely old boy – and about our new little bundle of joy who’d joined our family.

What a difference two months make. When Archie first came home, he was tiny and could fit on my lap.

 

 

 

 

image

Now, he’s a whopping 15.9kg (about 5-9kg less than his full adult weight), though he still is a lapdog and he’ll hop onto my lap to have a snooze if I sit down in the evenings. (Otherwise he’s doing what a Proper Author’s Dog does and sits by my feet.)

image

He’s still at the toddler stage of being into everything and can reach almost to the back of the kitchen worktops (you would not believe how tidy my house is right now). You cannot leave newspapers or shoes about, or they *will* be trashed. He is completely banned from my office!

I have a string of very clashing deadlines at the moment, so I’m desperate for him to sleep in the day so I can work. The way to achieve this is to take him for a very long walk (he’s getting so much better at walking on a loose lead, thanks to puppy classes), and then he naps for an hour and a half and I can focus.

Obviously, being on deadline means that I’m a tiny bit stressed (!) and I’m eating way too many biscuits (shortbread being my favourite – but gingerbread men will do very nicely, thank you). But, because I’m going on all these long walks, my weight is staying the same. (Result!! Thank you, Archie.)

He’s quite a character – one of my friends captioned this pic “Cool Paw Archie” (aka Cool Hand Luke).

image

In fact, he’s been a total joy, and I think the thing that put the biggest lump into my throat when taking my son back to uni for the second term was when he sat on the kitchen floor hugging the puppy and they both looked so sad. (They’ll be reunited in the Easter holidays.) My Facebook feed is full of pictures and videos of him – and he’s got a starring role in both my current book and the book after next. Whether I manage to get a spaniel on the cover is another matter entirely… But I’m trying 😉

So my question for you today is: what’s your biscuit of choice?