• Shine

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2021


    Welcome to 2021 my lovely readers. Happy New Year!

    I think we’re all more than ready to embrace the new although I don’t think 2021 will be the instant panacea to 2020 many of us are hoping for. I’m optimistic it will be better.

    My word for the year is SHINE. I hope to shine brightly in 2021.

    I had lots of plans for last year and I achieved some. I did write a lot of words. I have a couple of secret pen names and published under those and my own name. 

    I definitely didn’t release everything I wanted to but that’s okay. I became a USA today Bestseller, I came second in the Australian RUBY Awards novella section and released several new books. We’ll take it.

    We moved out of our home of over 24 years and relocated to a new town with about 6 weeks’ notice, so I’m being kind to myself about my lack of accomplishment in the final quarter of 2020.

    The good news is those projects will be completed in the first half of 2021 so all is not lost.

    I started serializing Playing With Trouble in 2020, and I promise to get back to that and share the rest of it with you in 2021. You can catch up here with the opening meanwhile.

    The next books in the Marlin Shores world will be out in January and March and I can’t wait to share those as well. You can preorder Saltwater Tears here.

    Have you read the prequel Kissing The Captain? If not grab your copy here for free.

    We have big plans for the Cinnamon Bay romance world in 2021 so look out for news about that soon.

    I also have Upper Crust Series news…meanwhile have you seen the box sets I made for the Upper Crust series? You can grab them here and they are free in Kindle Unlimited.

    There are a couple of other exciting projects looming in 2021 so stay tuned.

    Happy New Year – 2021 here we come!

    Playing with Trouble


  • Blog

    July 1 – an update on my writing life

    More Thank Ornamental Graphic
    more than ornamental graphic

    It’s been a while since I posted here so I thought I’d give you a little update on what I’ve been busy doing as it clearly hasn’t been blogging.

    In June I wrote 90,000 words. That’s my biggest writing month yet. I wrote 44,000 on one novel, 10,000 on another, 20,000 on another and some words for a secret project as well…so that was a whole lot of writing and it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for other things.

    Yesterday I launched More Than Ornamental – a sweet single dad Christmas romance (It originally appeared in the 2019 Romancing the Holidays Boxset). In October and November of 2018 I asked my Facebook followers a ton of questions about what sort of story they wanted to read including tropes, location, character roles and names and this is the novella that came out of it. More Than Ornamental is set on the Australian coast so if you’ve ever wondered what Christmas downunder is like, this is the book for you.

    My next No Brides Club book releases in September and it’s almost ready to go off the the editor, fingers crossed for this week. The Sweet Kisses Limited Edition Box Set releases this month too.

    Kissing the Captain, my contribution is a prequel to my next series which will launch with a trilogy in the next couple of months…I’m expecting to get my covers this week and I can’t wait to share them with you.  He’s the cover of Kissing the Captain with the boxset.

    Kissing the Captain and the Sweet Kisses Box Set
    Kissing the Captain coming soon in the Sweet Kisses Box Set

    So that’s enough to keep me out of mischief for July I think.

    I promise the next chapter of Playing With Trouble will be live this week.

    Anyway, I hope your July is off yo a cracking start!


  • Playing with Trouble

    Read Along while I write Playing With Trouble Chapter 4.

    Playing With TroubleAnother week another chapter

    I’m sorry for the delay in the next installment of the Courtside Romance series – Playing with Trouble. It’s funny how everyone is talking about life slowing down during this COVID-19 outbreak and so far that hasn’t been the case for me. It’s a coincidence that I’m finishing up my day job and pitching for new clients at the same time, as I re-open my PR consultancy after a couple of years working in house. I’d already resigned when we were all sent home but all the changes have met my cruisy finish up and handover have been anything but.

    Retstaring a new business has all kinds of administration as well as pitching to new clients and let’s not forget my book babies. So, I look forward to next week when I’m100% working for myself again and have a little more control over my time.

    Meanwhile here is the next chapter in Tiffany and Andrew’s story.

    Previous chapters:

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Don’t forget this hasn’t yet been edited so there may be some typos and errors that will be fixed prior to publication.


    True to her word she was back in ten minutes and he nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw her. She wore sky-high spiked black heels and a dress made of shimmery silver fabric that was high in the front and fell low on her back like a waterfall. He was sure there was a name for that style of dress but as he could barely remember his own name, he didn’t much care. Her long blonde hair fell loosely around her shoulders and she looked amazing.

    “Wow.” Was all he managed. “Just wow.”

    “Thanks, it’s new. I bought it for the week.” He knew that meant she’d bought it for him, and he liked that. Maybe she’d relax and see that this was all still very doable if they were subtle and not overt.

    He stepped closer and put his hand on her back as he guided her towards the lift. “You do realise your dress is not helping your plan to keep me at a distance or to keep my feelings hidden.”

    “Sorry.” She probably was at least a little.

    “I’ll cope.” The lift door closed, and they were alone inside. “But you need to know I’d really rather kiss you than do anything else at all on the planet right now.”

    Her cheeks pinked and she gave him a shy smile. “Likewise.”

    He might have done so if the door hadn’t pinged and opened spilling them into an exclusive section of the casino that Axel had reserved. Thumping music came at them as did a large bouncer with a door list which had both their names on it. Andrew had never wanted to go to a party less in his life but he was going to have to take any time he could get with Tiffany while he tried to win her over and demonstrate their week long fling wasn’t going to impact either of them in any way that was less than positive. And he was going to have to do it without looking like the possessive caveman he felt like as he watched the hungry eyes of the other men in the room devour Tiffany. There was exactly one word for his current predicament and that was torture. Pure and utter torture and yet for Tiffany he would take it. It occurred to him his feelings for the woman were way more than lust but now was not the time for introspection, now was the time to be a perfect non-date while keeping the hands of the likes of Alexi well away from Tiffany.

    Axel was the first to approach back-slapping Andrew and giving Tiff a shy smile and nod.

    “You made it. I wasn’t sure you would.”

    “Sure did. Tiffany wanted to blow off some steam and I said this was the place.”

    A guy with a tray of tequila shots came by and they each took one. Tiffany smiled.

    “Looks like you were right.” She said after downing hers at lightning speed.

    “That must have been quite a day.” He said in her ear before he and Axel downed theirs.

    Andrew wasn’t much of a drinker, body of an athlete and all that. He was now two whiskey’s and a tequila in. He needed to watch it. That was about his limit during season, or ever really. He had a few beers now and then but nothing too serious. Tiffany however had been handed a glass of champagne, no doubt the very expensive stuff and was guzzling it like water.

    “Shall we sit.”

    “Or we could dance.” She said. And then to his utter annoyance she turned to Axel. “You want to dance Axel?”

    He gave a nod and she handed her glass to Andrew. “I’ll be back.”

    Okay. Well, this was not at all what he had in mind.


    Tiffany hadn’t danced in ages. Sometimes she felt like she was a forty-year-old woman trapped in the body of a twenty-seven-year-old. It was like she had Dylan at twenty-two and all the fun stuff the parties and the dancing stopped and the serious business of being a grownup had gone into overdrive. Ninety nine percent of the time she was fine with that. She had her cute condo, a great job, some sweet friends she’d made at mommy and me classes and now a few moms from the school she was getting to know. But they did not go dancing at exclusive parties and guzzle very pricey champagne surrounded by A list celebrities. They didn’t look at her like she was hot and young and beautiful and every so often it was nice to feel that way.

    She’d brought the dress on a mark down rack just after the tournament last year, just in case she got to hang with Andrew again this year. She’d had it hanging in her wardrobe and when she needed a boost, she would take it out and look at it and remind herself she was still a young woman with lots of opportunities ahead of her. Part of her had thought it ridiculous and the other part thought there was nothing wrong with a bit of dreaming.

    Now here she was. The man in question was standing off to the side of the dance floor being very polite to the young ingénue who was talking to him. He was holding her drink and his eyes rarely left her. Meanwhile she was shaking her thing with Axel. Wait until she told the PTA moms this, their minds would explode. If she had her preference, she’d be dancing with Andrew, but she needed to blow of some energy, and she would be so obvious dancing with him. Her dance wouldn’t say this is fun it would say, take me now and that couldn’t happen.

    The song switched and she found herself dancing with another tennis player and then by the third dance Alexi. Not at all her preference. She kept moving avoiding him touching her. She was sure the surly Russian was a decent enough guy, but she didn’t feel like that about him and his touching her felt creepy. She knew Andrew was watching and she had a feeling if Alexi’s hand went anywhere it shouldn’t there be a scene.

    “Thanks. I need a drink.” She said at the end of the dance and headed towards and her drink. She had no idea if Alexi would follow. She hoped not.

    Andrew held out her glass when she approached one eyebrow raised. It was probably because she was all sweaty. She grabbed a napkin and discreetly patted her upper lip. “Thanks.”

    The girl next to him gave her the evil eye and Alexi joined them and did the same to Andrew. The champagne tray arrived, and she took a another. The waiter swung by with some canapes and she snagged one of those too. She hadn’t eaten all day thanks to the diva’s antics, which had taken hours to smooth over. Up until now Tiffany had largely only seen the celebrity players at their best, because it was an event for cancer kids they usually behaved impeccably. Usually being the key word.

    “You are good dancer.’ Alexi said.

    “Thanks. I don’t dance much.”

    “This is shame. Pretty women should dance.” She knew he meant it as a compliment and so she gave him a small smile.

    “So, what do you do to blow off steam then?’ Andrew asked.

    “I hit the gun range.” The young woman said, as if he’d asked her.

    “Interesting.” Alexi said, turning his attention on her.

    “I have punching bag I knock the stuffing out of.” Tiffany said. That was true and a better answer than snuggle on the couch with my son, especially to a man who didn’t know you had a son.

    “Well, it would have gotten a workout tonight.”

    @Yeah dancing is more fun.” He raised his glass and they drank.

    “I know another great way that is great fun.” He winked at her and her ovaries did a dance of their own. She was in so much trouble here, but she couldn’t help but answering. “Oh yeah?”

    And then he answered. “Tennis. Great way to blow off steam.” She swatted his arm. And he feigned innocence. “Why what else could I be thinking of?”

    “Nothing, nothing at all.” She shook her head. “You going to dance with me Benjamin?”

    “Sure, I must warn you, I don’t have Axel’s moves.”

    She led the way to the dance floor and in the din of the crowd looked over her shoulder at him and said. “I’ve seen your moves, they are, way way better than Axel’s.”


    She wanted to kill him, apparently. Watching her shake her thing on the dance floor had him fixing his jaw and by the time Alexi muscled in he was sure he was grinding his teeth, not that the sweet girl talking to him seemed to notice she just kept flirting away. He hoped he was more subtle than he felt, and that the girl wasn’t just oblivious, but he couldn’t be certain.

    No as he followed Tiffany on to the dance floor in that dress that made her look incredible, he was going to need all the restraint in the world to hold it together and not pull his body up against those sweet curves. Hopefully the universe would throw him a bone and the music would stay fast. Tiffany headed to the middle of the floor and turned and gave him a sultry look. She was a little buzzed, but she was having way too much fun at his expense. The ridiculous part was he was getting nothing out of it but the pleasure of her company, she’d made that well not clear exactly but, he was fairly certain that was the reality.

    For the next ten minutes he let her shimmy and shake around him like he was a pole. She was so joyous in her dancing he couldn’t help but enjoy himself, but it was pure torture and that was long enough. He couldn’t leave her alone on the dance floor because it was very clear there were plenty of men happy to come and take his place and as hard as it was being here watching her with someone else would be worse.

    “How about we grab a water?” He wrapped his hand around her waist and hauled her off the dance floor.

    “Party pooper.” She said with an adorable pout. “Can I at least have another champagne?”

    “You can have whatever you like but I’m pretty sure you have an early start and divas to handle tomorrow.”

    He hadn’t released her, and he felt the groan she let out all through his body. It wasn’t exactly the sound he wanted to make her make.

    “Now you’re a total buzz kill…” she looked at the thin gold watch around her delicate wrist. “But you’re also right.”

    “Do you feel better than when you arrived?’

    “Absolutely. I love to dance. I miss it.”

    She lived nearby. There were plenty of places to dance here in Vegas, hundreds in fact. It was odd that she didn’t do it.

    “You should do it more often then.”

    “As long as you don’t have to watch.” She gave him a nudge with her hip.

    “Exactly. Come on pretty girl. Let’s get you to bed before you turn into a pumpkin.”

    “I don’t think that’s exactly how the story goes Benjamin.” She smiled. “I’m still resisting you, though you have made it exceptionally hard tonight.”

    He sighed. Hard was definitely the word for it. The man didn’t like it, but he understood.

    Want to read Book 1 – Playing at Love or Book 2 – Playing it Safe click here.

    *Affiliate links used on this blog.


  • Playing with Trouble

    Let’s read along together as I write – Playing With Trouble, Chapter 3

    Playing With Trouble

    I’m a day or two behind but I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m still finding my rhythm in the work at home world.

    Things are starting to heat up between Tiffany and Andrew. I hope you’re enjoying their story. I really like them as a couple and there’s a whole lot of trouble coming their way soon.

    (Remember this isn’t edited and there’ll be changes between this and the final version).


    If you missed the beginning – start here.


    Chapter 3

    Andrew turned up to the tennis centre with a smile plastered on his face because he was a professional, but that smile was fake. He hadn’t slept well because he’d slept alone and not with the beautiful woman whose face and body had occupied his thoughts all night long. She’d looked so sad, and so apologetic last night in the hallway. He knew she wanted what he wanted and he was pretty sure they could still have it without her being compromised but he understood she was the one who would be impacted. She might lose her job and have her professional reputation tarnished, not him. He was mad that was even an issue in the twenty-first century but he was even madder about that kind of double-standard.

    Yeah, he was mad but he realised he was also more than a little disappointed. He knew he like Tiffany. He didn’t spend time with women he didn’t like, he was not that guy. Still, the way he’d felt in the hours since it had been made clear he and Tiffany would not be reigniting their “thing” had shown him he cared for her more than a little. That bugged him because he prided himself on staying detached and because he was not used to not getting what he wanted.


    On the court his young partner for the week was dressed in an outfit perfect for a music video and not so perfect for tennis. Andrew felt like there was an old man living in his head but he couldn’t help thinking the guys shorts were hanging so low he might well trip over them.

    “Axel.” He said by way of greeting. “Ready to play.”

    “I’m ready to win.” The kid replid offering him a fist to bump.

    “Good attitude.”  He had a chat to the kid and it was clear he was athletic and had at least has some lessons.

    “My agent loves tennis. So, we play sometimes. It’s a big reason I’m here and also, man, is he excited we’re teamed up. He arrives tonight.”

    The kid’s enthusiasm was infectious. Last night he’s seemed like a bit of a punk but the more he got to know him the more he could see he had depths which reminded him he shouldn’t have been so quick to judge in the first place.

    “Awesome, can’t wait to meet him. Now should we get some practice in so we can wow the crowd at or first match.”

    The kid did a fist pump and headed down court and Andrew tried hard not to think about how this week would have been perfect if he’d just been able to have Tiffany as well.


    An hour later he was a hot sweaty mess when the woman herself appeared courtside. The tennis complex was filling up and fans had gathered to watch them. Axel went to sign some autographs and Andrew made a bee-line towards the beautiful blonde. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she wore a cap and a t-shirt with the event logo on them and cute cropped jeans and runners.  She was holding a clip board and phone. She looked like an American teenager and he felt young and foolish walking over to her.

    “Nice warm up.” She said with a smile, lifting his towel and handing it to him.

    “Thanks. I think we’ll be a good pairing.”

    “Not as good as us.” She gave him a wink.

    “No.” It was nice that she was normalising it he supposed. “I missed you last night.”

    “Likewise. I spent a lot of time wondering if I over-reacted.”

    Ah there it was hope. “Oh yeah, what did you decide?”

    “My head says one thing, my hormones say another.” Well that was honest.

    “That pesky head.” He teased. “Well you let me know when the hormones take charge.”

    “Don’t you mean if?”

    He leaned in his voice low and grvaelly in her ear. “Oh no, I definitely mean when.”

    Then he grabbed his gear and walked over to join Axel before he did something stupid like kiss her here in front of the entire crowd.


    Well now her hormones were in overdrive. It was her own fault. She’d walked right over  and started the conversation. She also took it in that direction, but it was like her feet and her mouth had their own plans where Andrew was concerned, just like her hormones. She watched him walk away as she pulled herself together.

    Maybe she had overeacted. As she considered that her phone rang and the reason she had to be so careful was on the other end.

    “Hey mommy.”

    “Hi Dylan baby, how are you?”

    “Good. Aunty Fran and I are going to the park today but I wanted to say hi first.”

    “Well I’m glad you called. I miss you.”

    “Me too. You’ll be home in a few sleeps right?”

    “I absolutely will. You have a great day and put Frannie on.”

    He handed the phone over and her sister’s voice came on the phone. “All good here. No need to panic mama.”

    Tiffany laughed. She did have a small tendency to be over-protective of her son. He had been born premature and sine then he’d had several struggles. He was fine now, mostly. He still had chronic asthma but that was mostly under control. Being a single mom, because Dyaln’s father had died in a car crash while he was still in the NICU, had made her fiercely protective. Dylan was her world.

    “He called me, remember?”

    “I do. You two are peas in a pod, but he’s fine. How’s it going there?” She loved Frannie and she appreciated her sister using a week’s leave from her accounting job to come and do this for her every year. It was a shame she didn’t live closer than LA and that they couldn’t spend more time together. She’d moved to Vegas with Mick and once Dylan had been born and Mick died she just hadn’t quite found the energy to relocate and now with a job she loved and Dylan settled at school it seemed the timing was all wrong.

    “All good. The matches begin shortly and the we’ll see. Good crowds and yeah, so far all good.”

    “Any cute guys?” Tiffany had not told Frannie about Andrew because it was the one thing in her whole life that was just hers. She didn’t want to dissect it or share it with anyone even Frannie who was her biggest supporter.

    “Please Frannie, we have more cute guys than you’ve ever seen in one place in your life, which may explain why women buy most of the tickets.”

    “Whatever raises the money, right?”

    “Exactly. Okay you two have fun and thanks Frannie. I appreciate it.”

    “Please, you’re my sister. I’ve got your back.”

    She hung up and headed towards the control centre only glancing in Andrew’s direction for a minute. If she wasn’t going to be getting any of that fine man she certainly didn’t want anyone even for a minute thinking she was. As to be expected it was a flurry of activity on opening day. They were sold out and there was lots of media around. Right now, Tiffany’s team was doing everything they needed to do and she was happy to be behind the scenes just waiting for whatever was going to go wrong happened early and they got it over with. That was the thing with organising events like this something always did.

    She took a seat at her designated desk and spent the next hour signing forms, answering questions and generally working like a maniac. She didn’t have time to think about Andrew or her decisions where he was concerned, except that every so often someone would say his name or mention on of his matches and she had to be sure not to look overly interested of concerned. No one said anything so she had to assume she was doing a good job.

    Just like she could assume that no one would be surprised when she went down to watch Axel and Andrew play their first match on centre ocurt against Alexi and his partner, a country music star. The tournament was round robin for points so that every pair had at least three matches before they could be knocked out. That way all the celebrities got some time and that drew in the crowds. It didn’t really matter which team won right now but she’d be lying if she hadn’t picked a favourite. She still had her headphones on and could take calls but she was able to watch most of the match.

    Andrew was different on the court. She found the dicotomy fascinating. Off court he was sweet and mellow but on the court he was focussed and intense. It shouldn’t be unexpected. No one got to be an elite athelet by lacking focus but she didn’t see that when they hung out. Then again the circumstances were entirely different. Here on the court it was obvious he was playing to win but unlike Alexi down the far end he was walso trying to make sure Axel got some skin in the game. In fact Andrew knew there were two games going on one was the tennis and the other was winning the fans over. Lots of the crwod, especially the young women were here for the celebrities and Axel was a big draw card he needed time to shine and Andrew gave him that. He was smart and strategic and as a result his team won.

    They met in the middle for back slaps and hand shakes and when he reached the courtside he caught her eye and gave her a chin tilt that said he knew she was there, she was still watching and her hormones were still in charge.



    It had been a long day. Andrew and Axel had won their match and by the end the kid had his total respect. Meanwhile andrew wondreed when he started refering to other men as ‘the kid’ even in his mind. He felt old next to the young buck who had left with a bevvy of beauties and asked ANdrew to meet him for drinks at the high roller bar at the casino they were both staying at later. Andrew wasn’t sure it was such a great plan and he for sure knew Nate would say it wasn’t but he’d also won his singles match against an ageing Czech player he’d never defeated before. He knew the other man wasn’t at peak but he’d take the win because the older guy had fought for it. Andrew had earned it and he was hapy about that.

    He and Axel weren’t playing until late the next day so maybe he’d get that drink. He didn’t have plans here in town because he had hoped he’d be spending his time with Tiffany but that wasn’t so. He hadn’t seen her since the match in the morning.

    He knew there’d been some incident with a female celebrity losing her mind over some big nothing so no doubt that had occupied a big chunk of her day.

    While he contemplated the evening ahead Andrew took a stool at the casino’s sports bar and ordered a whisky. Lucky for him it was American football on the screen so no one recognised him. He liked sports bars that way, oddly even though he was a high profile athlete they afforded him some anonymity. He was staring blankly at the screen when the seat next to him was taken and an elegant hand reached out snagged his drink and took a sip. He turned to see Tiffany eyeing him over the glass before taking a sip and sighing in satisfaction.

    It was one of the sexiest things he’d ever seen.


    “That day was…well there are no words.”

    The bar tender came past and he ordered two more. “I’m sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”

    She shook her head. “I can’t because sadly I signed a confidentiality agreement.”

    He knew all about those, in fact he had lots of people he worked with sign them too. “Should I have gotten you to sign one?”

    “I don’t know should I have asked you to?”

    He clinked his glass against hers. Fair play. She was fiesty tonight and he deserved it. Why were his secrets any more valuable really? Well they were because someone might pay for them but ultimately it was the privacy violation people wanted to stop.

    “Okay so no talking about it. What would you like to do instead?”

    “Well I don’t think we can do that either. My hormones and I are still in discussions. What were you planning to do?”

    “Besides hoping your hormones had caved?” She nodded. “Axel invited me to a thing with his posse.”

    “So, we could do that?”

    “Sure, although I don’t think it’s a jeans and t-shirts crowd Tiff.” He gave her ponytail a tug. “Sadly, I like this look on you.”

    She gave him a sweet smile. “Thanks. I’ll try and find something you’ll like even more. Give me ten.”

    “Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.”

    The first two books in the series are live on Amazon and you can buy them here.

    *(Affiliate links are used in this blog post)
  • Blog

    What I’ve learned writing a series and #MusicalMonday (It’s only the beginning)


    Any Way You Dream It - Upper Crust Series - Monique McDonell - Original CoverBook two of my Upper Crust Series – Any Way You Dream It is now with the editor. Yes, I know, those of you who actually read my blog and read my books know it should have happened a while ago, but it has finally gone.

    “Why the delay?” I hear you cry.
    “Good question.” I reply.

    The truth is apparently I am really bad at writing BOOK TWO in a series. Book one is fine and book three is fine. I’ve written two series now (one under a pen name) and I’ve experienced the same issue with both. The whole series has stalled because of Book 2.

    I don’t exactly know why that is. Well, I do, I think in my effort to make the main character in that book different from the main character in the first book in the series I tie myself in knots.

    Additionally, I think book two brings about fear of success (what if everyone loves it?) and fear of failure (what if everyone hates it?) into play in a strange and disturbing way. By the third book I seem to have pushed through it and the interplay between the characters carries me through. By then I’m one of the gang (I’m probably Thelma not Daphne but I’m in the gang) and there is a gang, a group of characters I know well and enjoy spending time with.

    At least now we know. In the Upper Crust Series the good news Any Way You Fight It, Book 3 is done and will be released quickly after the second. Books four and five are also nearly done.

    I really love Chase, the hero in Any Way You Dream It and Lucy is a girl who deserves a happily ever after (HEA) so I think you’ll love the book like I do. (And Six books in the series will have been released by the end of this year, so I really hope you do).

    Now let’s turn up the music because it is Monday.

    I love this song and have since I heard it back in the olden days…it’s a great love song and it features in my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels…my first book baby.


    Laurie Baxter
    4/29/2015 11:06:57 am

    Ooh, yay! Very excited to hear this! I really enjoyed book one. 🙂

    Sandie Docker
    4/30/2015 07:59:13 pm

    The curse of the second book!!! But to have 6 box released by the end of this year – yay you!