Tag Archive | Téa Cooper

Beaux, Ballrooms, and Battles: A Celebration of Waterloo

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June 18, 1815 was the day Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée was definitively routed by the ragtag band of soldiers from the Duke of Wellington’s Allied Army in a little Belgian town called Waterloo. The cost in men’s lives was high—22,000 dead or wounded for the Allied Army and 24,000 for the French. But the war with Napoleon that had dragged on for a dozen years was over for good, and the British people once more felt secure on their island shores.

The bicentenary of the famous battle seemed like an excellent opportunity to use that setting for a story, and before I knew it, I had eight other authors eager to join me, and to make a long story short, on April 1, 2015 our Waterloo-themed anthology was released to the world.

You are all invited to

Our Stories

Jillian Chantal: Jeremiah’s Charge

Emmaline Rothesay has her eye on Jeremiah Denby as a potential suitor. When Captain Denby experiences a life-altering incident during the course of events surrounding the Battle of Waterloo, it throws a damper on Emmaline’s plans.

Téa Cooper: The Caper Merchant

The moon in Gemini is a fertile field of dreams, ideas and adventure and Pandora Wellingham is more than ready to spread her wings. When Monsieur Cagneaux, caper merchant to the rich and famous, introduces her to the handsome dragoon she believes her stars have aligned.

Susana Ellis: Lost and Found Lady

Catalina and Rupert fell in love in Spain in the aftermath of a battle, only to be separated by circumstances. Years later, they find each other again, just as another battle is brewing, but is it too late?

Aileen Fish: Captain Lumley’s Angel

Charged with the duty of keeping his friend’s widow safe, Captain Sam Lumley watches over Ellen Staverton as she recovers from her loss, growing fonder of her as each month passes. When Ellen takes a position as a companion, Sam must confront his feelings before she’s completely gone from his life.

Victoria Hinshaw: Folie Bleue

On the night of the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Aimée, Lady Prescott, reminisces about meeting her husband in Bruxelles on the eve of the fighting. She had avoided the dashing scarlet-clad British officers, but she could not resist the tempting smile and spellbinding charm of Captain Robert Prescott of the 16th Light Dragoons who— dangerously to Aimée— wore blue.

Heather King: Copenhagen’s Last Charge

When Meg Lacy finds herself riding through the streets of Brussels only hours after the Battle of Waterloo, romance is the last thing on her mind, especially with surly Lieutenant James Cooper. However, their bickering uncovers a strange empathy – until, that is, the lieutenant makes a grave error of judgment that jeopardizes their budding friendship…

Christa Paige: One Last Kiss

The moment Colin held Beatrice in his arms he wanted one last kiss to take with him into battle and an uncertain future. Despite the threat of a soldier’s death, he must survive, for he promises to return to her because one kiss from Beatrice would never be enough.

Sophia Strathmore: A Soldier Lay Dying

Amelia and Anne Evans find themselves orphaned when their father, General Evans, dies. With no other options available, Amelia accepts the deathbed proposal of Oliver Brighton, Earl of Montford, a long time family friend. When Lord Montford recovers from his battle wounds, can the two find lasting love?

David W. Wilkin: Not a Close Run Thing at All

Years, a decade. And now, Robert had come back into her life. Shortly before battle was to bring together more than three hundred thousand soldiers. They had but moments after all those years, and now, would they have any more after?

About Lost and Found Lady

On April 24, 1794, a girl child was born to an unknown Frenchwoman in a convent in Salamanca, Spain. Alas, her mother died in childbirth, and the little girl—Catalina—was given to a childless couple to raise.

Eighteen years later…the Peninsular War between the British and the French wages on, now perilously near Catalina’s home. After an afternoon yearning for adventure in her life, Catalina comes across a wounded British soldier in need of rescue. Voilà! An adventure! The sparks between them ignite, and before he returns to his post, Rupert promises to return for her.

But will he? Catalina’s grandmother warns her that some men make promises easily, but fail to carry them out. Catalina doesn’t believe Rupert is that sort, but what does she know? All she can do is wait…and pray.

But Fate has a few surprises in store for both Catalina and Rupert. When they meet again, it will be in another place where another battle is brewing, and their circumstances have been considerably altered. Will their love stand the test of time? And how will their lives be affected by the outcome of the conflict between the Iron Duke and the Emperor of the French?

Amazon: $.99 for a limited time

 peninsular war map

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Téa Cooper: A Sneak Peek at Jazz Baby

Thanks for the invitation to stop in … I’ve got news! I’ve got news! Hot off the press ….

October 1st will see the release of my next historical romance from Escape Publishing and it is a bit of a diversion from Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom.

About Jazz Baby

In the gritty underbelly of 1920s Sydney, a fresh-faced country girl is about to arrive in the big, dark city–and risk everything in the pursuit of her dreams.

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Sydney is no place for the fainthearted—five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.

Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.

World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life. But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.

Coming Soon

I can’t show you the cover of Jazz Baby yet but I have to admit to drawing on an Australian TV series called Underbelly Razor for inspiration, especially as far as the clothes are concerned, which I adore. This is one of my favourites….

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I spend a fair amount of time in Sydney and I stay right in the middle of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills where the story takes place. Most of my research consisted of pounding the pavements, checking out the back alleyways, terrace houses and dubious bars and pubs! One of my favourites is called Love Tilly Devine. There is a great story on their website.

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I’ve also written a sequel to Jazz Baby entitled The Wages of Sin, a spinoff story about two of the secondary character–as yet I can’t give you a release date and a blurb would give away the story of Jazz Baby.

You can find all the information on my website www.teacooperauthor.com or be the first to hear all my news by joining my free readers’ newsletter group.

About Téa

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallTéa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the time-warp village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn’t writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration.

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It’s Party Time on Susana’s Morning Room!

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Susana’s Morning Room was born a year ago, just before my first story, Treasuring Theresa, was released on January 3, 2013. I wanted my first blog, Susana’s Parlour, to remain primarily historical/Regency-related, but I also wanted to feature some of my writer friends’ non-historical releases. And also because I read other sub-genres of romance too that I wanted to discuss from time to time.

So, voilà! I created Susana’s Morning Room to feature all sub-genres and heat levels of romance. You’ll find an eclectic mix here; the only requirement is an HEA. After I began hosting for Goddess Fish Promotions, I discovered many great new authors myself! Now I just wish I had more time to read all the books on my Kindle!

The Best Romance Books of 2013

I really can’t limit myself to one, so here are the ones that come to mind:

Diana Gabaldon: An Echo in the Bone

Susanna Ives: Wicked Little Secrets

Téa Cooper: Matilda’s Freedom

Téa Cooper: Passionfruit & Poetry

Ashlyn Macnamara: A Most Devilish Rogue

Collette Cameron: The Viscount’s Vow

Ella Quinn: The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh

Joanna Wylde: Reaper’s Property

Selene Grace Silver: Brianna’s Bewitching

Susana’s Morning Room Anniversary Giveaway

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All you have to do is comment on this post with the title of one or more of the best romance books you’ve read this year. Any sub-genre. Any heat level. A random commenter will win a print copy of Cotillion Christmas Celebrations. (Be sure to include your email address in your comment.)

Téa Cooper and “Matilda’s Freedom” + GIVEAWAY!

Téa is giving away a digital copy of her other historical, Lily’s Leap, to one randomly-chosen commenter. Be sure to (1) answer the blog question, and (2) leave your email address in your comment. Good luck!

Hi Susana, Thanks for inviting me to your blog once more!

We’re back in Wollombi again for my second Australian historical romance and this time I thought I’d tell you a little about Wollombi’s Aboriginal history. (It used to be pronounced ‘Wu-lum-bee’, though today it is pronounced Wo, as in wok – lum, as in thumb and bi, as in buy).

Wollombi is an aboriginal word meaning meeting place or meeting place of the waters. Three brooks converge in Wollombi—Congewai Creek, Wollombi Creek and Yango Creek—and for thousands of years, the Awabakal, Darkinjung and Wanaruah people used the area as a ceremonial meeting place. The place is seeped in a history that goes far back far beyond European settlement.

Mt. Yengo

Mt. Yengo

Mount Yengo stands guard over the village. It is said to be the spot where Baiame, the Creator God and Sky Father jumped back up to the spirit world after he created all the rivers, mountains, and forests which is why it has a flat top.

The sandstone hills surrounding are littered with caves worn by the rising waters of the creeks and the winds that whistle through the valley. Many of them are on private property (mine included) and have the most wonderful aboriginal art.

There’s a rock that is said to be Tiddalik the frog and I couldn’t help but include it in Matilda’s Freedom.

Jem is an aboriginal stockman and he tells Matilda and Kit’s sisters the story of Tiddalik the Frog but there isn’t— to the best of my knowledge—a cave below him; that was little bit of poetic license, but nevertheless the story is well-known and told to children throughout Australia.

Here’s an excerpt from Matilda’s Freedom. Jem is quite a character and appears in Lily’s Leap as well. I hope you reading about him as much as I enjoyed writing him.

Tiddalik

Tiddalik

Matilda settled back to listen as Jem’s deep, dark voice filled the cave. ‘Tiddalik was a giant frog who lived in the Wollombi Valley back in the Dreaming. One day, he woke up and he was very, very thirsty.’ Jem’s eyes bulged as he licked his lips and clutched his parched throat.

Beth giggled and copied him.

‘He was so thirsty he began to drink from the brook, but instead of drinking only what he needed, he continued to gulp the water, not caring about anybody else. In the end, he took so much his tummy nearly burst.’ Cheeks protruding and eyes wide, Jem rolled from side-to-side. ‘He was so full he could hardly move away from the empty creek. All the other animals got really worried. With no water, they’d die. They knew they had to get Tiddalik to give some of the water back up. They got together and made a plan—if they could make Tiddalik laugh, he would bring all the water back up and everyone could share. In the end, the eel made him laugh, and all the animals could survive and enjoy life.’

Matilda glanced at the girls, waiting for their appreciation of the happy-ever-after ending. Jem, however, had more to tell. He lifted his index finger to the roof of the cave and raised his bushy eyebrows. ‘Tiddalik, though, he was punished for his greed. He turned into stone and sits just up there,’ he inclined his head to the roof of the cave, ‘punished for being greedy and not thinking about others.’

‘And so we call this Tiddalik’s cave,’ said Beth, breaking the ominous silence. ‘It’s not really, because he wouldn’t fit in here. Would he, Jem?’

‘You’re right, Beth. He wouldn’t fit; he’s way too big. But it’s a safe place to be when the water comes.’

Isn’t it fun to hear about folk tales like this? Tell us about one from your neck of the woods!

About Matilda’s Freedom

An unconventional woman clashes with colonial society in this spicy and sweet Australian-set historical romance.

Matilda'sFreedom 300 copyHis carefree bachelor days over, Christopher Matcham returns to Sydney to take responsibility for his mother, two stepsisters, and the family property. Fortune smiles on him when he is introduced to Matilda Sweet, a woman in need of work. Though unusual, Christopher senses that her fresh ideals and positive outlook can only benefit his sisters, so he hires her as a companion.

By the time they arrive at Christopher’s family home, the two are fast friends. But Matilda’s unorthodox ways and her convict heritage make her a second class citizen to the family. Christopher has responsibilities, and they include an advantageous match. A breeches-wearing, fish-pond-swimming, plain-talking convict’s daughter will never fit in. After all, romance is a luxury the upper classes cannot afford…

Digital Edition: AU$4.99 | ISBN: 9780857990600| Length: 59,000 words

Publication Date: July 1, 2013 | PDF – MOBI – EPUB | Historical Romance

 Harlequin Escape

Excerpt

Sydney, Autumn 1856

‘Paris is a city of contradictions—rich and poor, the glamorous and the debauched—and I loved every moment of it.’

Christopher Matcham turned his head as the girl’s breath caught, although he was uncertain whether the sound was from shock or delight. In another situation, he might have interpreted it as a sign of pleasure. Rocking back in his chair, he stared across the table at the delectable Miss Matilda Sweet.

Matilda radiated vitality and vivacity. In the flickering candlelight, her skin had an almost amber hue, highlighting her honeyed hair. Her wide eyes beckoned to him, and a tiny pulse flickered along her elegant neck. She might be a currency lass and of convict stock, but her looks were far from disappointing. She was so different from the women of Sydney society—and that of Paris.

‘Kit, I think you’re getting worse with age instead of better. Remember, there are ladies present.’

The delighted grin on Emily Bainbridge’s face belied her husband’s words. ‘Richard, don’t be such a stuffed shirt. I would love to hear about Paris. We get so little news from elsewhere, and I’m sure Matilda doesn’t mind.’

The girl smiled and lowered her eyes behind lashes that would have done a courtesan proud. Her hand fluttered to the column of her throat.

‘I am totally fascinated. I cannot imagine what Paris must be like. They say half the world visited the city for the Exhibition Universelle.’

Matilda’s low contralto rippled across his skin like a warm brandy, and the temptation to lean across the table and inhale her scent was almost overpowering. Clearing his throat, Christopher dragged his eyes away from her generous mouth and made an effort to pay due attention to his host and hostess.

‘Paris is certainly a fascinating city, full of intriguing layers. The upper classes cling to the skirts of the Emperor and Empress while on the seamier side, the commoners flex their muscles and enjoy life. The cafés are open day and night, and the entertainment is outrageous. La chahut dancers have claimed the streets as their own. Their acrobatic skills are phenomenal. The dancers kick their legs so high they can remove a man’s hat and then, of course, display delightful glimpses of their under—’

About the Author

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallTéa writes contemporary and historical romantic fiction featuring strong-minded women and sexy Australian men. Love and life Down Under isn’t always easy. Her heroes and heroines have to fight long and hard for what they believe in before they reach their happy ever after.

Matilda’s Freedom is Téa’s second Australian historical romance. Her first Lily’s Leap is available now and she is currently working on her third Face of an Angel set on a schooner somewhere between Hobart and Sydney.

Her three contemporary romances Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry are available on Amazon.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news, visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Previous posts by Téa Cooper on Susana’s Morning Room

Tree Change, a contemporary Australian romance

The Protea Boysa contemporary Australian romance

Lily’s Leapa historical set in Australia

Passionfruit & Poetry, a contemporary Australian romance

Images Wikipaedia Commons and JohnLCoombesPhotography

“Passionfruit & Poetry” by Téa Cooper

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallThanks for hosting me today Susana.

Everyone always asks where did you get the inspiration for your story. Sometimes that can be very hard to answer – a dream, an idea, an overheard conversation, a million snippets from you-can’t-remember-where

Passionfruit & Poetry is one of those stories where the answer is really easy but it has a bit of backstory so I thought I’d share!

I live just outside a tiny little village called Wollombi. I like to say it is a time-warp village. Nothing much has changed since the early nineteenth century and it is unashamedly the inspiration for my historical romances. However living in such a delightful place does have its disadvantages and one of them is shopping. You can get a great cappuccino, have a fantastic Italian meal, buy a newspaper and a bottle of milk but the ordinary everyday necessities of life are a bit harder to come by and require a 30km (twenty miles about) drive to the nearest supermarket. It’s not my favourite occupation so I have to be bribed.

Cessnock, the local ‘town’ has a great cake shop and my bribe, after I’ve hit the supermarket, is a ‘treat’ and a coffee. They make the most excellent cakes and pies and other naughtinesses. That is inspiration point number one.

Inspiration point number two is my passion for old black and white movies and I freely admit there is nothing even remotely original about my choice. Casablanca rates right up there, probably in first, second and even third place. I think I can probably quote the entire script.

If you add Rick’s line “of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world she walks into mine,” to the cake shop in Cessnock you can actually come up with the plot behind Passionfruit & Poetry.

So, with apologies to Murray Bennett and Joan Allison, who wrote the original play Everyone Comes to Rick’s on which the film is based, the blurb for Passionfruit & Poetry ought to read… “Of all the milk bars, in all the country towns, in all of Australia he walked into hers.”

And there you have it!

Inspiration strikes at the strangest time and in the strangest places.

About Passionfruit & Poetry

PassionfruitandPoetry_TeaCooper_200x300When Xander Fitzgerald, darling photographer of the Sydney fashion scene, 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?

Amazon

Excerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Crimson Romance.

With a steadying breath, Jeanie walked up, hand outstretched and a tight smile plastered on her face. “Good morning, Mr. Fitzgerald.”

He turned and a gasp of surprise froze in her throat. Colored contacts. It had to be—his eyes were exactly the same navy as his shirt. Definitely contacts. Somehow her hand ended up in his—she glanced down at it and something jumped inside her, then she jerked her hand back as he started to speak.

“Good morning, you must be Jeanie. Your grandmother was just telling me about the lovely little business she’s been running here for longer than I can believe.”

Forcing her lips back into a smile Jeanie studied the navy-eyed smooth talker, trying to ignore the coy titters emanating from the direction of her grandmother. On closer inspection he wasn’t as young as she’d thought, which was probably why Gran was making such a fool of herself. Once a man turned thirty, he was fair game in Gran’s book—any younger and she deemed it cradle snatching.

Fine lines radiated out from the corners of his eyes and the non-designer stubble on his chin gave him an almost negligent air, as though he’d been in a bit of a hurry to leave the house, and the creased linen shirt only added to it.

She cleared her throat and beat down the flush on her cheeks. “We don’t get many complaints. Gran’s the talented one. I just make the coffee and clear the tables.”

His vivid gaze roamed backward and forward across her face and a shot of something as potent as the brandy Gran put in her Christmas cakes raced through her. Her toes tingled. She lifted her hand to her face and brushed her hair away from her forehead. Perhaps they’d need the fans on with all these extra people around. It was very warm in the café.

“Have we met before?” he asked.

Susana Says: So much more than a Cinderella story…5/5 stars

Jeanie and her grandmother Norma are barely managing to eke out a living from the café they run in a rural Australian village. It’s not much, but they have each other, and Jeanie feels safe and secure, out of the limelight.

SusanaSays3Until a famous photographer comes to town for a photography shoot…and suddenly Jeanie’s spirited away to the bright lights of Sydney, where she discovers depths she never knew she possessed. The new Jeanie emerges from her cocoon as a beautiful, desirable butterfly, and slowly but surely the fears of the past disappear with the ugly trappings of her former prison.

Inspired by Marilyn Monroe and Ms. Cooper’s passion for old movies, this is the story of a lovely young woman whose size-fourteen curves and unpleasant childhood memories have given her a feeling of unworthiness and a compulsion to huddle in the background so as not to call attention to herself. Xander is the photographer who manages to free her from her prison, but could he be playing some cruel game with her? Will Jeanie have the courage to face her fears and risk everything to win the love of her life?

Any book that has me laughing or crying all the way through it is bound to be a winner. With Passionfruit & Poetry it was tears, although they became happy tears as the book came to an end. This story will resonate with any reader who knows what it’s like to go through school chubbier than the other kids her age.

I loved the characters of Jeanie and her eccentric grandmother, and Xander, from what I knew of him, was a very special man as well. I only wish I knew more about Xander’s life and what made him such a perceptive, honorable, and worthy hero. Most of all, however, I wonder if there are any more around where he came from. (Seems to me there are too many guys around like Billy Westward, unfortunately.)

Passionfruit & Poetry is Ms. Cooper’s fourth romance novel, with a fifth, a historical, due in July. Based on this one and Tree Change, which I read earlier, I would not hesitate to designate her a great new talent on the romance horizon.

About the Author

Téa writes contemporary and historical romance featuring strong-minded women and irresistible Australian men.  She has written three contemporary Australia romances—Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry. Her love for old movies and all things ‘retro’ inspired Passionfruit & Poetry–and, in all honesty, the most disgustingly delicious passionfruit and lemon tarts made by her local patisserie.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Previous posts by Téa on Susana’s Morning Room:

Tree Change, a contemporary Australian romance

The Protea Boysa contemporary Australian romance

Lily’s Leapa historical romance set in Australia

Author Téa Cooper, Lily’s Leap, and a Quaint Australian Town Called Wollombi

Come and meet my muse!

I thought I was going to write contemporary romance but ‘the best laid plans’ and all that proved me wrong. I was seriously ambushed. And so my first historical romance, Lily’s Leap, was born. Let me explain!

I live in Australia in a tiny time-warp  village called Wollombi. It is very much a weekend escape kind of place. Escape to the Wollombi Valley, the B & Bs and local businesses proudly proclaim. Very little has changed in Wollombi since the nineteenth century and it is a picturesque spot with a fascinating early colonial history. This is the coffee spot today.

Wollombi©HarrisonPhotography

And this is what it used to look like! You can see not much has changed!

Wollombi©2013AClymo&WHS

In a fit of enthusiasm I volunteered to man the local museum a couple of days a month and that is how I was ambushed.

Wollombi Museum©2013AClymo

A day spent seeped in the nineteenth century enlivens the muse and after I had got over the ghosts breathing down my neck I was in business and Lily’s Leap jumped onto the page.

Come and meet one of the characters who haunts Wollombi Museum.

Bushranger©2013AClymo&WHS

This is Bushranger Patrick Bruin. He made the mistake of bailing up the local Justice of the Peace and was wounded in the arm, shoulder and chest. He ultimately died of his wounds in the lock up just outside. He had two guineas on him when he died and it was sent to the Colonial Treasurer.

The bushranger who bails up Lily in my story is nowhere near so unlucky; he gets his girl, but then it is a romance!

So now you’ve met my muse-eum and one of the fascinating characters who live there why not indulge in a romantic romp with Lily and her bushranger Tom Roscomon!

Lily’s Leap releases on May 3rd and is available from Amazon.com Amazon.uk Lyrical Press iTunes and B & N.

Follow the link if you’d like to find out more about Wollombi and don’t forget to let me know if you are passing through!

Lily’s Leap 267 x 400About Lily’s Leap

Born into privileged society, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and much to her distress, back under her father’s rule, all before her twenty-first birthday. But this spirited and independent young woman has a dream: she is determined to breed the perfect racehorse and restore the family’s flagging fortunes. An accomplished rider, she takes matters into her own hands and sets out to restore Dungarven horse stud to its former glory.

When the devastatingly attractive Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. Surely it can’t be too difficult to contain this beautiful young woman with violet eyes and skin-tight riding breeches for seven days?

Amazon Buy Link

Lyrical Press

Excerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Lyrical Press, Inc.

Lily could see the pale ribbon of road below cutting through the trees and the bright blue expanse of sky wide-open in front of her. “Nero. You can do it,” she whispered into his sleek, shiny neck and he snorted in response. Her thigh muscles burned as she tightened her grasp on his flanks. His muscles tensed in response, attuned to her body. She gritted her teeth and willed her shaking hands to steady. “We can do this, Nero. We have to.” Her heart hammered so hard in her chest she thought it might leap right over the culvert and down the hill ahead of them.

With barely a moment’s hesitation she dug her heels into the stallion’s flanks and urged him down the hill. The last trees cleared and the sudden heat of the sun stung her face, then she crouched low over Nero’s neck. The clatter of his hooves on the sandstone surface told her they had reached the road. The blood raced through her veins, pulsing in her ears, a violent and excruciating pounding raged through her body.

“Stop.” Tom’s command echoed around her as the blocks of the convict hewn, sandstone walls reared ahead of her. Surely it wasn’t such a huge jump for a horse like Nero?

She leaned forward in the saddle and her cheek brushed the dampness of his neck. Time slowed. With her eyes squeezed tightly shut she sucked in a great gulp of air and clenched her teeth tightly together. Nero lifted into the air. His muscles bunched beneath her and he flew over the chiseled blocks and down the slope. Her knees gripped the saddle and she dragged the reins almost vertical as they plunged down. Tufts of wiry grass and small rocks littered the route. She flinched as Nero’s hooves crashed across them. Gasping in a quick breath, she prayed for the terrain to level off.

Her lungs contracted like bellows and what little air remained, whistled out through her pursed lips. Nero tensed and she shuddered as he stumbled and then regained his balance. Her heart leapt to her throat and her wrists twisted as she wrenched on the reins to slow him. He quivered to a halt. Silver spots danced in front of her eyes and she gulped in a breath to feed her starving lungs. Nero’s muscled body trembled and quaked beneath her and white froth flecked his muzzle.

“We did it, darling Nero. We did it.” The salty tang of his body filled her nostrils as she leaned over his neck murmuring endearments. She swayed with exertion and forced her rubbery muscles to respond as she squinted into the sunlight. Figures on horseback towered above her, stalled on the road. She had an overwhelming urge to wave her hand and shriek in triumph.

But she resisted; this was her opportunity and she had no time to waste. She cut away to the right praying her memory of the maps was correct as she searched for the track leading her to Laguna.

“Lil-eee. Lil-eee.” Tom’s call bounced off the sandstone walls. Shading her eyes with her hand she stared back toward the culvert wall. It was empty.

“Lil-eee. Lil-eee.” The sorrowful echo reached her, resounding somewhere deep in her gut. Her sweat-soaked curls clung to her face as she shook her head, raging at her ridiculous foolishness. After such an exhilarating and successful leap for freedom why did she suddenly feel so melancholy? Her heels bruised Nero’s flanks and she urged him away in a fast canter.

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallAbout the Author

Lily’s Leap is Téa’s first historical romance and Harlequin Escape will release her second, Matilda’s Freedom, on 1st July 2013.

She has also written three contemporary Australia romances—Tree Change, The Protea Boys and Passionfruit & Poetry. She is currently working on her third Australian historical romance set on a schooner somewhere between Sydney and Van Diemen’s Land.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Photographs courtesy of Wollombi Historical Association and Harrison Photography.

Check out Téa’s previous posta on Susana’s Morning Room about her contemporary romancea, Tree Change and The Protea Boys.

The Protea Boys by Téa Cooper

Today my guest is Téa Cooper, one of my History Lovers Facebook group members, which was originally formed by several of us who were teammates in Savvy Authors NANO Smackdown with Entangled Editors last fall. We’re all history lovers, of course, and we write historical romance, although with quite diverse settings. 

Welcome to Susana’s Parlour, Téa! And explain the significance of the title, please! Boys named Protea? I recall having the same question about your first book, Tree Change.

What’s in a title?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I come up with odd titles for my books. Most people associate proteas with South Africa—not surprisingly since the South African National cricket team is called the Proteas! Interestingly proteas are actually the same family (genus) as Waratah—the name of the Australian Rugby team and the floral emblem of New South Wales! And no, The Protea Boys is not about a sporting team—though you would be forgiven for thinking it might be.

722px-Protea_cynaroides_6 copyThe protea, and the quintessential Australian plant, the waratah both belong to the Proteaceae family. They all shared common ancestors back in Gondwana when Australia and South Africa were joined as part of the super continent in the south, some 200 million years ago.

The King Protea is the specific protea that features in my romance The Protea Boys. It has the largest flower head in the genus. Its scientific name for all you gardeners out there is Protea cynaroides

I once owned a protea farm. I didn’t mean to buy a flower farm. It was one of those things that came about by accident but once I had seen the beautiful flowers there was no way I could plough them in. I became  a protea farmer by default and that was where the story was born long before I had ever had a romance published, but I have to add the rest is pure fiction. Unfortunately the delectable Tom Morgan didn’t come into my life and sweep me off my feet.

800px-Telopea_speciosissima_suellen copyI guess my protea farm was my first Tree Change! But that’s another story and there’s a blog about that on my website called Tree Change explained.

Where do the titles for your books come from?

Images Wikipedia Commons

About The Protea Boys

Georgie can run but she can’t hide from the man who stalks her dreams and throws her ordered life into a tailspin.

Emotional entanglement is not on George Martin’s to do list. She has turned her back on her sophisticated Sydney lifestyle, determined to renovate her parents old flower farm and her shattered ego. However the challenges prove more than she bargained for until a madcap scheme comes to fruition and The Protea Boys are born. The team of efficient, well-tapered six-packs solve her farming problems, but their leader presents a different kind of challenge—their first spark of attraction ignites a passion she cannot ignore.

Tom Morgan likes his women “pretty and entertaining,” not “efficient and driven,” but the threat of being co-opted as a wine waiter or worse, chef in his brother’s restaurant encourages him to take up what he sees as the highly amusing challenge of managing The Protea Boys. It is the perfect distraction while he waits for a new assignment—or so he thinks until he realizes he has found the one woman he cannot run away from.

Digital Edition: $4.99 | ISBN:  | Length: 49,000 words

Ebook Page Count: 1 | Publication Date: May 3, 2013 | PDF – MOBI – EPUB

|Heat rating 2 (Monogamous couples. Infrequent loves scenes with no graphic language.)

Breathless Press

TC_The Protea Boys_200x300 copyExcerpt

Copyright 2013, Téa Cooper

All rights reserved, Breathless Press.

A nonchalant silhouette leaning against the side of the black four-wheel drive came into view. Tall and lean, with an Akubra pulled down shadowing his eyes and arms folded across his chest. As Georgie slammed to a halt, he pushed his hat back and winked at her.

“What are you doing here?” she snapped.

Shit, not a very polite way to greet someone.

It was a trick. Hillary had played a huge trick on her.

“Good morning, Georgina.” His laconic drawl made the hairs on her arms prickle, and his gaze ran up and down the length of her body; she stopped herself from rubbing her arms just in time. At least six feet four inches of pure muscle and screaming masculinity. The mere sight of him made her hackles rise. This was not one of her ridiculous dreams. She groped around, trying to find something to say, but he offered no help, just kept looking her up and down, waiting patiently.

“I didn’t know it was you,” she managed to splutter.

“You didn’t know what was me?” he said, green eyes sparkling at her. She wanted to slap the ridiculous, audacious grin off his face. He was enjoying every moment of her discomfort.

“Hillary didn’t say it was you.” She ground the words out between her gritted teeth.

“Hillary didn’t exactly say it was you either—but I guessed.”

The whole conversation, if you could call it that, got more idiotic by the moment.

Take control. I have to take control.

Blood pounded somewhere inside her head. “So you’re here to work, not just making a social call?” She narrowed her eyes, unable to be civil.

“I’m under the impression I’m starting work today. Hillary said you were expecting me, and I should turn up at seven o’clock this morning.” He stared pointedly at his watch, accentuating his deliciously muscled forearm. ” It’s five to, by my reckoning.”

“I didn’t know it was you.” Georgie’s brain had stuck, like an old, scratched CD, the phrase stuttered in her head, and she couldn’t stop it falling out of her mouth. “I didn’t know it was you. Hillary said your name was Morgan.”

“It is. Morgan, Tom Morgan.” He enunciated the words as though she had a limited command of English.

In an attempt to restrain the recurring urge to hit him, Georgie clenched her fists.

“Remember? I introduced myself after our little adventure with the wombat last week.”

Remember.

How could she forget? She involuntarily moved her finger to her lips, unsure for a moment if her memory of his kiss was real or not, but the glimmer in his eye assured her it was, and she pulled her hand from her face and stuffed it into her pocket.

“Then we spoke on the phone.”

“Yes. I remember. It’s just I didn’t know it was you Hillary had interviewed.”

You’re burbling, talking nonsense.

Hillary had said his name was Morgan, and she hadn’t put two and two together. She dreamed—not dreamed, no, he didn’t need to know about her dreams—of him as Tom.

Tom of the predatory green eyes with tawny flecks.

Mr. Leopard Eyes who was watching her with a deal more than a glint of amusement. She sucked in a deep breath and exhaled, enjoying the exasperated puffing sound escaping her lips. Her flesh shivered despite the warmth in her face.

“I can go if you like. It’s not a problem. I was looking forward to the job. Thought it would be a challenge working for two lovely ladies.”

Thats it. Thats done it. The patronizing sexist.

She clenched her teeth to prevent the words escaping. Sometime in the not-too-distant future she would explain to this man that she was running the business and she employed him—not the other way around. She’d played this game before, and she had no intention of falling into the trap again.

Author Photo_TéaCooper_smallAbout the Author

Téa writes contemporary and historical romantic fiction featuring strong-minded women and sexy Australian men. Love and life Down Under isn’t always easy. Her heroes and heroines have to fight long and hard for what they believe in before they reach their happy ever after.

The Protea Boys is Téa’s second Australian contemporary romance and her third Passionfruit & Poetry will be published in mid 2013. She is currently working on a series of nineteenth century historical romances set in Sydney and the Hunter Valley. The first two, Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom, will be released in May and July 2013.

To keep up with all of Téa’s news visit her website www.teacooperauthor.com where you will find links to her blog and social media pages.

Check out her first post about her contemporary novel Tree Change.