Erotic romance writer. Author of Drowning (out now), as well as Folly and Switch (coming soon)

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Looks so easy, but it’s not…

There’s nothing like having a dressage lesson with a teacher who’s able to explain stuff in a way that totally makes sense, while getting inside your horse’s mind and working out what he needs.

For that period of time, while you’re in the saddle, you’re simultaneously trying to get enough air into your lungs to survive, stop the sweat from dripping into your gasping mouth, make your arms and legs and back and hips do what they’re told, while your brain is boiling over with the effort of listening to, and understanding, the explanations you’re being given…

It’s ferocious, incredible multitasking, but when it goes right, it feels as if a gray veil has been lifted and for those few moments, the world is crystal clear. Everything falls into place, there is total harmony, you understand what you’re doing and why you are doing it.

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And, underneath you, your $600 thoroughbred suddenly elevates himself to $60,000 Warmblood status. He stops listening to the crazed voices in his head and starts marching to the beat of an invisible drum. He proudly flaunts a scope and stride you never dreamed he possessed. It all feels so perfectly right that afterwards, it’s as if the whole world has realigned himself.

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Problems that were weighing on your mind suddenly become trivial and insignificant compared to the joy of riding that fluent lengthened trot, or seamless canter transition. The glow of harmonious achievement stays with you as you walk your horse home. You repeat the wisdom you were told, over and over, so that when you practice on your own, you will hopefully be able to come some way toward achieving that equine karma again.

It doesn’t always happen, because dressage looks so easy, but it’s not. But when it all comes right, it’s worth it!


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Let me have men about me that love cats

Shakespeare said it best in Julius Caesar:

Let me have men about me that love cats.

(Actually, I’ve changed the quote slightly. The original read: Let me have men about me that are fat. But it’s still close enough, I think.)

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Anyway, the point is that you need to look for a man who goes all melty when he sees a kitten, and who talks to cats in a special silly voice, and who knows exactly where to scratch them so that they turn themselves inside out with ecstasy. There are many reasons why cat lovers make the best boyfriend, husband and romantic hero material. I have listed some of the most important ones below.


  1. He appreciates independence. A true cat lover doesn’t mind that his cat spends half the day napping, and the rest of the time it won’t come when it’s called. In fact, he’s grateful for the ten minutes when his cat deigns to be near him. This means he’ll be unconditionally pleased to see you when you get back in the evening after a drunken lunch with the girls, and he’ll be happy for you to have a time consuming hobby. (Mine is horses.) Cats make men try harder. You can reap the benefits.

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  1. He knows how to tickle. Because cats are exacting creatures. You have to stroke them just so. Not too hard, not too soft, NOT an inch to the left, and for just as long as they want or you’ll be minus your hand. This means your cat loving man has been superbly trained to offer a blissful foot and leg tickle as you snuggle with him in front of the TV. Make the most of it, and don’t forget to claw him if he stops too soon.

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  1. He’s used to fussiness. Many times, he’s followed his pampered feline holding a dish of food while begging. This means when he suggests dinner at the local KFC, you can look at him all slanty eyed and go, “No… no. I don’t think so. I’m not really… in the mood. I feel like three courses with some good wine at that new French bistro.” And he will go, “Yes, yes, of course, darling,” while thinking: At least she’ll be eating! Then I won’t feel guilty!

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  1. He will think hard before getting angry, and knows how to apologize. You see, if you speak harshly to a dog, it’ll be back wagging its tail a minute later. Speak harshly to a cat, and it will be so offended you might never see it again. He’s always aware of the effect his moods will have on you. And if he unintentionally hurts your feelings – well, he’s used to hours of groveling after accidentally treading on the cat when it got underfoot. You can expect the same.

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Four Fatal Flaws of a Romantic Hero

Four Fatal Flaws of a Romantic Hero

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My first introduction to romance novels were the piles of old Mills & Boons which could be found in every bookshelf in our house (I have three older sisters). This was in the early 1980s, when romantic heroes were very different from what they are today. As an impressionable pre-teen, my role models were the flashing-eyed, self-obsessed, controlling and jealous archetypes that populated those pages. No wonder I started off dating all the wrong guys… it took me decades to overcome this conditioning.

So, in the spirit of public service, here are four “don’ts” to avoid in a romantic hero, whether real life or fictional. I’ve included made-up 80s excerpts to illustrate.



80s excerpt:

Roger’s eyes blazed as he stubbed his cheroot violently out in the ashtray. “Don’t let me see you speaking to that man again… ever!” he exclaimed. “You are mine… all mine and only mine. I’ll have no stranger devouring you with his lustful gaze!”

“B-but Roger,” I stammered, “that man is my brother Tom!”

Jealousy… definitely one of the least likeable and most destructive traits a romantic hero can possess. A heroine who ends up with a jealous man can expect to be alienated from her friends, estranged from her family, and have her choices criticised and controlled. Which brings me to the second flaw…


80s excerpt:

“What will it be, Monsieur?” the waitron asked, as I admired the sumptuous decor of this three-Michelin-starred restaurant.

Roger’s powerful jaw tightened decisively. “We’ll have a bottle of the Chianti, the caviar starters, and the lobster mains, Luigi.”

By all means choose Mr Controlling as your romantic hero if it’s the last choice you ever want to make. He’ll decide everything for his heroine, from what she wears to what she eats and where she travels. She’ll never get another look at a wine list, and if she’s on a diet and he fancies dessert – well, let her eat cake.


80s excerpt:

“We’re leaving now!” Eyes flashing, Roger grasped my arm in his own powerful, muscular grip, holding me so tightly with his sculpted fingers that I cried out in pain.

If the alarm bells aren’t ringing so loudly for this romantic heroine they sound like a fire truck, she must be deaf. The only time your hero should grasp your arm tightly enough to cause pain is when he’s pulling you out of the path of a runaway train, or a charging elephant.


80s excerpt:

“What’s that” I asked, looking at the small clockwork gadget with interest.

“Oh, it’s an invention I put together in between writing my PhD and winning my Olympic gold fencing medal,” Roger told me dismissively, adjusting the collar of his starched Armani shirt. “I’d explain how it works, but it’s rather complicated and you wouldn’t understand.”

The subtext here, of course, is that you need to be the owner of a penis to understand this. Really, why would a romantic heroine want to trouble her frail, feminine mind with its workings… or with any knowledge at all beyond how to remove her lacy underwear on command? In future, she must do the sensible thing and leave these weighty issues to the menfolk… or, of course, she could make the really smart choice, and look for a different hero!